#DoItForTheGirls #BringBackOurGirls

I’ve just spent five minutes scrolling up and down the homepage of the New Zealand Herald Online – my primary news source. Well, maybe not anymore.   There is nothing on that front landing page that mentions the 300 Nigerian girls who are missing – taken from their families.

Have we forgotten already?

Is it already yesterday’s news?  It doesn’t matter?

Well it does matter my friends.  These girls have been taken against their will, against their families’ will.  Taken and have been forced to convert to Islam, and are now being held until some militant prisoners have been freed.  They are pawns in a war of terror.

It is easy to feel sad at this situation.  It is easy to feel anger.  It is easy to feel powerless.  What can we, as caring citizens of the world do, to help?  And will it really help?  We have to believe it does.  We have to do something.  My friend Alison has written an excellent blog giving some very real and practical ideas on things that we can do – things that if a large body of people raise their voices in outrage and actually did these things – that voice would be heard.  But first you have to know that this is not such a distant problem.  First – you have to know that what matters so many miles away from our very comfortable lives here in Australia/ New Zealand or America, actually isn’t so very far away at all.

I want you to know that the world is smaller than you think.

I want you to know that maybe, just maybe, border lines of countries on a map, are really just handy marks.  Borders merge and flow in ebbs and tides so much more than we think.

My own sister-in-love is a lawyer for the International Red Cross.  Right now she’s working in Tajikistan.  She’s an expert on the law of war.  Yeah.  There are laws to do with wars.  And there are a lot of people who devote much time and energy to dealing with the bad guys.  The very bad guys.  To turn our backs on a problem that is so many miles away, is to turn our backs on the people who are fighting for the hurt and the marginalized, the devastated.  The more people are aware of what these very bad guys are up to, the more that is in the public eye, the more the atrocities have to be dealt with.  And the less, they can get away with.

Knowledge is power, yes?

When we as a family were visiting our extended family back in Christchurch last year, we had an amazing afternoon spent with friends of my Mother-in-love.  Friends who are refugees from an African nation.  This family had, against all odds, been able to leave their war-torn nation and came to NZ as official refugees.  In the process they left behind a son, who had been drafted into the army.  An army that you can’t ‘un-draft’ yourself from…..amazingly after a few years he did escape, he bribed someone to get him across a border and he himself became a refugee, found out where the rest of his family had ended up (they thought he was dead), and they were able to re-unite.  In little ‘ole New Zealand.  The stories this family can tell.  What I’ve written in three or four sentences does no justice to the things they’ve experienced, the trials they’ve overcome and the very miracle that they survived and are re-united.  However – what I want you to get from this, is this is real flesh and blood people, who sit in my in-laws living room on a regular basis and share meals with them.  This is not a people group who are far-removed, living on the other side of the world, who we just can’t relate to as we feel so distant to them.

Worldwide borders mean nothing these days.  There are Africans living all over the world, just like there are Australians all over the world.  We have to feel something for these people, because they are just not that far removed from our lovely lives.

So – please – I urge you – read Alison’s blog   and know your voice matters.  Feel something.  Do something.  This isn’t just yesterday’s news.

Hope for the weary

80% of my Facebook friends who are parents are exhausted.  The other 20% are too happy and glass half full, to complain, but I bet if I were to ask them how they really were, they’d tell me they are tired.  Dog-tired.

This coming Sunday is Mothers’ Day in certain parts of the world.  You know most Mums don’t actually want much in the way of material goods – but a sleep in and an uninterrupted sleep would be up there on the wants list.

But as much as sleep would be nice – for any parent – sleep is almost a short-term solution.  There’s always another bout of teething just around the corner.  There are  sneaky bad dreams once imaginations begin to be fired up.  Late night homework assignments requiring a spot of advice.  Taxi services at all times of the day and night.

In short, sleep is not something that we as parents can always count on.

But we have to learn to power through, no matter what.  We have to learn to live exhausted, and not just survive.   We have to look after self – before we can look after our families.

So what hope can I throw your way?  How can I inspire you, when your days are full of spilt milk, endless cleaning up of spilt milk, more demands for milk, running out of milk, having to haul all your kids in and out of the car and in and out of the supermarket for more milk, and all you want is a cuppa tea (with a dash of milk) and a wee sit down.  Just for ten minutes.

Well all I can share are things I have learnt along the way, things that may help you, and things that I am learning.

If you’re really weary…….

*  get as much of a decent night’s sleep when you can.  Tv can wait.  Books can wait.  Social media can wait.  Sleep is important.  Rest is important.

*  if you’re breastfeeding and you’ve begun to enter that twilight zone when you regularly put your car keys in the fridge and you’ve fallen asleep while holding your baby in bed during a middle of the night feed, consider expressing if possible and sharing these precious feeds with your partner.  Severe lack of sleep with newborns can be so debilitating.

*  make sure you’re as healthy as you can be – if you’re feeling really tired and this is not usual for you, maybe get your iron tested.  Menfolk – you need to keep yourself as healthy as possible too, and don’t neglect your annual check ups.  Just because you feel fine, doesn’t mean you should go years and years without a good, comprehensive check up.  You owe it to your families to be in the best health you can be.

*  eat well.  Nah I’m not going to say eat organics/ eat raw/ eat the rainbow/ eat clean/ eat paleo/ eat vegan.  Nope.  Just eat well.  I’ve seen far too many friends go all whacko on the whole eating plan thing lately, and while that may or may not have amazing benefits to them and their families – it also causes a lot of extra stress, a lot of extra brainpower, a lot of extra commitment and sometimes a lot of extra money.  I’m into making life easier for me as much as possible, not adding complications.  A friend of mine recently added me to facebook group for clean eating.  Twice, she added me.  And twice I left the group. I already cook most of our meals so that they are gluten free, that’s pressure enough.  And sometimes I just want my children to eat.  To eat well.  And to not be subject to my little experiments.  Eating well will mean different things to different people, but to thrive in life……we need enough fuel and for it to be decent fuel.  That’s all I’ll say about that.

*  if you’re offered help – swallow that pride and accept it. If you’re not offered help, but the genuine heart to help is there in someone, then swallow your pride and ask that person for help.  Help with your kids if you need an extra pair of hands for an hour or so, help with some spring cleaning if your house is not your castle any more, help with a meal if you’re just feeling too weary to cook and the result of you not cooking would be one meal too many of the not eating well variety.

*  take time out.  ‘Yeah right’. I know some of you are saying.  Those of you who are single parents, or share parenting, or have no family nearby to off-load kids on to.  Time out can be a luxury that only two parent families with a whole bunch of disposable income has.  And yeah, I agree – BUT – that doesn’t mean we should miss out, we who don’t have free babysitters in the form of family living near us, and we, who count even a coffee out as a treat and heck if that treat is accompanied by one other adult and three little people who all want a beverage as a treat, well that ain’t no treat anymore, that’s gone into the expensive outing category now and have we budgeted for that this week?  You hear me? I get it.  I do.  But at some point there are things you can do to make time out happen for you.  Find a friend in the same situation as you – do a regular swap with them.  Start a babysitters club.  You don’t even need to spend money to take decent time out.   Go for a walk.  Read a book, without little voices in your head that are not part of the plot.  Soak in a bath.  Gaze up at the stars.  Bake a cake.  Whatever it is that recharges your batteries, that you could do, and not feel guilty about, do it.

*  remember that saying….’How do you eat an elephant?’  ‘One bite at a time’.  Sometimes weeks can look full on. Sometimes ironing piles and lunches to make and personal assignments and work demands and all those things that make up our days seem too much.  Sometimes weeks just need to be broken down into days.  And days need to be broken down into hours.  And even hours need to be broken down into minutes.  Whatever it takes, to eat that elephant.  And not let that elephant eat you.

*  faith.  A huge amount of strength and energy I have comes from the faith that I have.  Faith in a God who cares and a God who provides for me.  Ask me about that if you’re interested.  Trust me – moving Internationally with children, requires some supernatural strength and energy…..

There’s only so much of ‘weary’ that a parent can take.  Yes there are seasons and times when ‘weary’ is just inevitable – but there are also times and seasons when there are things that we can do to help others.  And we can let others in, to help us to.

What would you add?  How have you coped with the weariness that comes hand in hand with parenting?  Feel free to add in the comments.

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