Heart Whispers

Ramblings from when we first brought Reagan home… (and I never posted for fear of judgement)

A bird lands on the pram next to me as I watch my eldest play in the sand. A quick flick of my hand and the bird flies away. I grab the cap for my youngest’s pacifier- would birds think it’s food? Not sure, but I don’t want to take the chance. I make a mental note to sanitise my hands after touching the handle of the pram.

Her voice cuts through the millisecond of silence- “faster mumma, I want to go faster.. The slide, I want to go on the slide”.. I’m brought back to reality and slow the spinning contraption in front of me down so she can get off. I wrangle her arms around the baby strapped to my chest and lift her off. I watch her navigate through the sand towards the big slide, a little boy nearby catches her eye but he’s quite a bit younger than her, she looks away disinterested. “I want to go on the swing mumma.. the swing.. the swing..” She won’t stop till I acknowledge what she’s said. I push the pram over to the edge of the swing set and gingerly step through the sand to push her. “Higher mumma.. higher..” “Patience” I exclaim .. it sounds meaner then I wanted it to.

You wanted this.. I hear my heart whisper..

The baby on my chest stirs.. I start the mumma bounce- one hand pats her little bottom while I make the white noise “shhhhh” sound for a solid minute hoping that she lulls back to sleep. “I want to get off mumma.. I want to go on the small slide..” “Really? You just got on the swing..” I exclaim.

If you can just make it to nap time.. I hear my heart whisper.

I think in terms of hours now. 3 hours till the next bottle, 4 hours till nap time.. if I stretch bottle number 2 I can get them both to nap at the same time. Dinner is in 2 hours if I do bottle four at 6pm. If I go to sleep right this minute I’ll get 5 hours of sleep or I stay up for bottle number 6 and then get 4 hours of sleep..

You don’t have me time.. I hear my heart whisper..

I lay on the carpet, willing and coaxing my newborn to lift her head.. if she can just look to the left. I can feel the anxiety building in my chest. I’ve googled neck issues consecutive nights this week. I’ve rotated her bed, I’ve called her name- nothing seems to be working. I’ve been on a seesaw of celebration and worry. Was it something during pregnancy, maybe something I ate, maybe she was too squished in my womb.

It’s your fault.. I hear my heart whisper..

I see crumbs littering the floor beside the kitchen.. The vacuum cleaner sits beside the staircase. How are there crumbs already- I only vacuumed an hour ago. Dishes peak out from the top of the sink. I see her bright pink and orange bowl. It was used to house a chocolate biscuit but really only held for decoration. Chocolate crumbs scatter the couch- I say a quick prayer that she didn’t smoosh the chocolate into the fabric.

You can’t keep this house clean.. I hear my heart whisper..

We have dinner guests tonight..as our guests file through the door my eldest runs over to her sister and with a “ta-da” pose exclaims- “Here’s my bubba! She’s such a cute bubba!” I feel tears prick my eyes.. “This is her dummy and her bouncer..This is Baby Raegan..”

These are your girls..I hear my heart whisper..

I stir from sleep, reaching for my phone- it’s 6:05am. I feel a weight near my legs and look up to see my eldest with her Eeyore teddy leaning into the bassinet. A moment of panic sets in until the silence is broken by her little voice “Eeyore.. this is Baby Raegan..” Hello.. hello.. hello baby.. mmwwaa..” I’m lulled back to sleep by her voice introducing Fluffy Bunny..

She has such a kind heart.. I hear my heart whisper..

Introducing Toddlers to Jesus

This may sound like a strange topic but I know it’s something that I was very much unaware of how to navigate. Obviously I can’t remember back to when my parents introduced me to Jesus (I can barely remember what I wore last week) so it was something I was totally unprepared for or more so unaware of what to do. My family and I attend church regularly (multiple times a week actually)- we’re heavily involved in different departments so since birth Ava has always been at church and exposed to what it means to worship and pray etc. In the almost-two years of her life she has learnt so so much from walking to talking, eating, likes and dislikes, how to articulate people’s names and identify objects- toddlers are sponges so I knew I needed to make some intentional efforts to start introducing her to this God that we serve and love.

Children’s Bible’s

A friend of ours gifted Ava, at my baby shower, her first Bible Words book. It’s a picture Bible with a few short stories and pictures with words to help educate kids- this is Noah’s ark, this is baby Jesus, this is the sun etc It probably wasn’t until she turned about 18 months that she was actually interested in the story lines. I won’t lie and say this book is her go-to for story time but she does pick it every few days. If you’re based in Australia Koorong have some great Kid’s Bibles. I love going to their store and showing Ava the various Bible’s and books. If you are going to buy your child one I would recommend taking them with you and gauging their response to the book- the feel of it, the pictures, read them a short excerpt and see if the language is engaging. We have this one by Sarah Vince.

Start Bedtime Prayer Time

We have started to do a little prayer time with Ava before she gets her bottle in bed. We will ask her what or who she wants to pray for (if you watched my insta stories a few weeks ago you would know that her prayer request one night was “Pet’s- the movie”.. I prayed for all the pets in the world that they would be good and have a great day tomorrow..” We were secretly dying on the inside from laughter. The other night her prayer request was for her Nanoo- it was so strange as we don’t see Nanoo very often but she wanted to pray for him- I led her in a prayer that God would work on his heart and that he would know that we loved him (and we loved his truck that went beep beep as added by Ava)- It was quite a tender time.

If you attend a Church with a Creche or Sunday School- send your kids!

Our Creche at church starts at 2 years old but they have let Ava slide in considering she is almost two. The church we used to attend when we were living in the States has a Creche/Sunday School for kids from the age of 1! I  can’t speak for all church creche’s but I know the one Ava attends during our Sunday Services teaches her about the Bible and Jesus. They sing along to Christian music videos and soundtracks – thankfully it’s not just a babysitting service.. not that that would be a bad thing when it comes to 1 year olds and trying to keep their noises to a minimum during a service (ha). However, with that being said..

Let your toddlers experience church!

I have been there and done that (and am still there a bit) when it comes to toddlers and noise and church.. it’s just a really bad mixture. I think the default for many parents is to hang out in the foyer or in the mother’s room (I see it a lot on instagram surprisingly)- while there is a time and a place when yes, your child just needs to roam in the foyer or is super overtired (you just know those times are going to end in you sprinting from one side of the church to the other with a screaming child) but I think we can get into a rut of “containing” our toddlers at church rather than letting them “thrive” and experience church. The Bible says that when two or three are gathered together He is there with them, in the midst of them- I don’t know about you but that makes me yearn to have Ava in those church services where we know His presence is. I want there to be a familiarity for her of the presence of God and the unity that comes with worshiping with the church which can only be done if we are intentional about exposing them to our church services. Ava loves to sing along and dance (albeit a ballerina dance) to our songs- I often see her in the arms of someone with her hands raised singing and clapping along- the book of Proverbs says “train up a child in the way they should go..” There is something sacred and Holy about experiencing the presence of God with your children.

So while I’m no expert I hope I’ve given you a few ideas on how to be more intentional about talking about Jesus with your toddlers! If you have any other good ideas that I haven’t covered I would love to hear from you!

Enjoy the chaos, every glorious moment.. 

IMG_5556.jpgMothering is constant. From the moment your child is conceived you are forever changed. It’s one of the greatest, most challenging, most frustrating, most intriguing callings in this world.

When they are babies keeping you up all night, or busy toddlers ripping your just cleaned house to pieces, it seems the day will never be over.

You are tired, spent and exhausted but so in love with that little one!

Then they are teenagers and are persuaded they know so much about their world and how to rule it! Lol

Somehow, with much prayer and much love we help them thru those difficult years. It’s so important to be the parent, to establish this role very early. They will question you and ask why. You need the wisdom of God, and a strong fortitude to stand strong, stay true to The ways of God, love His Word, and be faithful in all your commitments to Him!

Nobody told me they would grow up and leave. I think this has probably been the hardest part of being a mother. I thought they would always be near, close by.

I have cried rivers over their leaving. Didn’t think I would ever get thru it, but I have made the adjustment, and I am stronger, and wiser. God is my refuge and strength.

Last week I had an Epiphany about my life, my life as a mother, and  a grandmother.

If you raise your children to be eagles then you can’t expect them to always stay. They must take wing and soar, find new adventure, conquer the highest mountains and new horizons. We must let them go, it’s not easy but it’s what we raised them to be. Independent, brilliant, beautiful and God inspiring. I do miss them and I guess I always will.

So a word to you darling Mother’s,  enjoy the chaos while it last! Every glorious moment!

…Words from the amazing, wonderful, full of life and love, Nancy Grandquist.

 

A Letter to my daughter

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IMG_5458IMG_5459IMG_5460Dear Baby Girl,

You are nearly 22 months old- well on your way to turning two.

You are an absolutely joy to have in our lives.

You are.. the joy of being woken in the morning with small hands patting my arm saying “hey”

You are.. the twirl and la grande jatte of a ballerina- full of life and joy

You are.. all the kisses and smiles

You are.. all the words of a love I never knew existed

You are.. the smile that lights my face when I leave work and know I am coming home to you

You are.. God’s perfect creation

You are.. so very loved by me

Woven- When friends become family..

My interview this morning is with the amazing Annette! She used to baby sit me as a baby and now has become one of my nearest and dearest friends. Her and her family are family to Greg and I- they are amazing examples of following after God’s will and simply loving people! They pastor a thriving church up on the Gold Coast, parent two amazing boys and work full time as Pastor’s and (Annette works) part-time as a teacher. We seriously adore this family!

IMG_1311.jpegOkay, so- a few standard questions to start with, tell me a bit about your family.

I come from a Lebanese background. My parents and siblings migrated over to Australia in 1971, my siblings were very young! Lebanon was pretty war torn at the time so they migrated for a better life. My dad’s sister had some family here, so Australia was the obvious choice.

How many Siblings do you have?

I have four- three sisters and 1 brother. I’m the baby.

Are you Sydney born and raised?

Yep, I am. My siblings are a lot older than me. I had a great childhood but my siblings, because of the age difference, were more parental. I spent a lot of time with older people which is why going to school was so hard when I first started. I didn’t have many friends my age at the time.

You’re married to Jacob.. How old were you when you both met? I was 15 when we started dating, Jacob was 18. We dated for 6.5 years but our “dating” was so different to today. We were really good friends for a number of years and then got married when I was 21. We always said we would have children after being married for 5 years but I found out I was pregnant just a few months after our wedding!

Now, you have two boys? Yes, they are 16 and 13.

Whereabouts did you have them? I had Josiah at Bankstown Hospital and Judah at Liverpool Hospital.

Were you hoping to have two boys? I was actually hoping for a girl with Judah though in hindsight I was happy to have two of the same gender because the boys have become best friends.

How did you pick the boys’ names? Since Bible School Jacob loved the name Josiah and I loved it too so we knew our firstborn would be Josiah. Judah on the other hand- it wasn’t the original name we picked but someone had already taken it. We were back at the drawing board when we attended a conference where we heard a sermon preached about Judah, Judah meaning praise- it was a powerful service.  We fell in love with the name! We loved the meaning of it and knew it was the name for our second son.

Did you have the boys natural or C-Section? Both Natural! Labour was about 3 hours. For Josiah- my waters broke early, so I was in hospital for 18 hours, but the actual labour was only 3 hours or less.
They were both born on their exact due dates.

You were pregnant at your university graduation- tell us about it! Yep I was! To start with, when I was pregnant with Josiah I had morning sickness for about 7 months. I was working part time and going to Uni full time. I used to catch a train to work in the city, at that time, and I remember getting off at certain stops to throw up on the train tracks and then getting back on to keep going on my journey to work. 1 week after I handed in my last assignment for Uni to become a teacher, I gave birth to Josiah.

Shortly after giving birth to Josiah, I had to finish my prac for my degree- I did my final prac in February when he was 4 months old, and then got offered a full time job. I took the job! It was my first real full job- I worked 3 years full time. Now, in hindsight, I do regret it a little but he was with my mum and mother in law and they formed a close bond.

Josiah was just over 3 years old when I left my job and had Judah. When he was 5 months old, I went back to work part time but at a different school. Because I lived closer to my sister (we had moved house by now)- my sister watched the boys part time. I went back to full time when Judah was about 3 years old and switched to part time when he was 6. I still work part time at a school now.

Coming from a Lebanese background your mum is an amazing cook! Do you have any of her recipes? Well my mum made all her dishes by memory- when she received an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, my sister in law tried to record as many recipes as she could on paper.

Here is her amazing, world famous Tabouli! Friends I am telling you- this is hands down best Tabouli recipe you will ever have!!

Sis Ayoub’s Tabouli Recipe

7 Medium Tomatoes

2 bunches parsley, chopped

1/2 bunch of mint, chopped

1/4 bunch of shallots

1 onion chopped finely

1/2 cup cracked wheat

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 tsp salt

1/2 lemon juiced

1/2 tomato passata

3/4 cup olive oil

1 tsp pomegranate molasses

sweet chilli sauce or Tabasco sauce

How To

– Remove any stones you mighty find in the cracked wheat, then wash and drain it well by squeezing it with your hands

– Add the lemon juice to the cracked wheat and set aside.

-Wash the chopped parsley and mint then drain well by squeezing out excess water.

-Chop the tomatoes very finely and add them to the cracked wheat

-Chop the onion very finely and rub them with the salt and black pepper

-Combine all ingredients with the cracked wheat and stir in olive oil
You moved to QLD over 6 years ago.. I always thought that because I was born and raised in Sydney I would never move…I never wanted to move but my husband was feeling that the Lord was leading us elsewhere- we didn’t know where though. His prayer was God if you want us to go to another church, and Pastor, you need to speak to my wife.

When he was in Fiji a number of years ago he found out that there was a church in the Gold Coast that no longer had a Pastor- he knew God was calling us there but his prayer had always been that God would speak to me because of the heartache it would entail leaving my family in Sydney.

In the meantime, I had been going through some things and was praying that God would help me to work through these things positively, you know, respond to negative situations in a positive way.

A lady I respect, in my life, came to me in the altar one service and asked if there was anything specific I wanted to pray for. I said no… whatever you feel… she proceeded to tell me about a vision she had had that God was going to move us. The vision was of a really big beautiful house but it was isolated- what she felt the Lord was telling us was that He would move us, and we would be isolated at first but it would be something beautiful and God ordained.
I, of course, didn’t want to feel isolated so I called a prayer partner freaking out that God was going to isolate us! We prayed together and she said something that I remember to this day- she said Nettie, it doesn’t have to be a literal thing that God is going to isolate you but rather that he is moving you from your comfort zone.

The whole time that this is going on, Jacob is still overseas in Fiji.

Meanwhile, he’s been praying every day that God would speak to me

Jacob’s on the plane coming back from Fiji, on Fiji Airways, and he picks up the inflight magazine and there was a double age spread ad which read “If you’re thinking of relocating to the Gold Coast, do it now..” He came home and we went about our day. We were in our room, I was unpacking his stuff and he says “The Gold Coast church no longer has a Pastor.” And I knew… I knew that this is what God was calling us to but of course I was absolutely freaking out on the inside… I said nothing to him for a week about it..

I went back to my prayer partners and I really felt that this was it.. this is what we had to do.

After a week, I approached Jacob and I said I don’t know about you but I believe this is God’s will. He confirmed that that’s what he had been praying for since he first felt the call. We both determined that we would only go if we were released by our Pastor. We spoke to our Pastor, and though we were all really good friends, our Pastor was very supportive of our move!

So 3 months from that conversation we packed up our lives and moved. We never even saw our house before we moved there. We flew up a few times to view some houses but they had all fallen through- the real estate agent let us sign a lease for a place before even seeing it, which is generally unheard of!

Judah got cellulites before we left, the houses we saw fell through, we had left our jobs and had not yet received jobs on the Gold Coast, it seemed everything was fighting us moving but we knew that God had called us.

The whole process taught me so much about faith..

The boys were 10 and 7 at the time, so you can imagine the heartbreak for them. This was a mother’s heartbreak. Leaving Sydney we had some friends come and say goodbye… for about 90 minutes our eldest broke down weeping… which made me weep… As a mum I was crying more for him, but still about the major life decision we had made.

A funny story amongst all this pain… During our cry our 7-year-old (who was happy to move by the way) and my husband were smiling at each other through the rear vision mirror. Jacob decided to put on Andrea Bocelli’s Time To Say Goodbye and from out of my mouth came this scary voice threatening to throw the CD out the window if he didn’t turn it off… His thinking was that he wanted to cheer us up, which I reassured him that this was not the way!

When we arrived on the Gold Coast we were unemployed for 5 months… We used up all our savings. It was a huge step of faith but through it all, God always provided. There were people who knew nothing about the situation but blessed us until we found employment. God knew that we needed these few months to make connections with our neighbours and the people we were going to be pastoring.

Wow.. what a story of God’s faithfulness and your willingness to move!So, you’ve found work..haha.. Yes, I am currently working part time in a role that was created for me. I’m reading coordinator. I mentor teachers and do an intensive reading program. Jacob, is a full time Pastor – going on 3 months. We pastor Gracepoint Church, Coomera on the Gold Coast.

And the boys? They’re both still in school- Judah is really good with co design in an architecture class and Josiah is an entrepreneur! He has sold t-shirts, made his own brand label at 11 and is currently working on getting into a trade. This kid is very savvy when it comes to business… side hustle to the max.

And Gucci…Yes, we have a little dog- Gucci… we’ve had her for almost a year… 9-10 months.

What would you say is the hardest thing about this stage of life and mothering? I find the teenager years can be challenging. Being a Christian mum is so different to how other parents parent their teenagers. We truly have to fight for what we believe in. When your kids are younger you know everything about them, but as they get older I am having to learn to balance everything and let God have the reigns. I’m having to trust God a lot more… all I can do is pray… pray over them and pray with them…

Do you have any words of advice for mums out there? Enjoy every stage of your kid’s life. It goes so quickly… it will fly by. Don’t be so caught up, and busy, that you neglect your kids.

What would you say is your greatest achievements to date? My family, my boys. Although our family isn’t perfect, we have fostered so much love for each other… and what God has done at Gracepoint. From a church of a handful of people to where He’s brought it today; to see what He’s done in people lives. To see people who are new to church and be a part of their spiritual growth. I am so thankful.

So there you have it- we love and cherish this mum and her family! I hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about Annette and her family!

Till next time.

xx