To “three”, or not to “three”, that is the question-

As you may well know, “To be, or not to be… ” is the opening phrase of a soliloquy in William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet.  It is probably the most well-known lines of poetry Shakespeare ever wrote.  What Hamlet is reflecting on is the comparison between the pain of life (which he sees as inevitable), and the fearful uncertainty of death as he contemplates suicide.  This famous phrase came to mind after a long discussion with my parents over dinner regarding whether Dylan and I should have more than two children.  My dad’s words were, “if you are thinking of more, you are “mal”(mad in Afrikaans)”

I am one of five children and none of us were “mistakes”- my parents chose to have every one of us and I am so glad that they did!  My two brothers and two sister’s are a part of who I am, they are my story and were some of the tools God used to fashion me into the person I am today.  My siblings are my favourite people in the world, we have an unspoken loyalty to one another, an unbreakable bond.  My husband Dylan is one of four children and I know he feels the same way about his siblings.  There is strength in numbers and children add immeasurable joy and character, but in the same breadth, is life not a little different to how it was when our parents were having children 30-40 years ago?

The pace of life is extreme.  The cost of living is exorbitant and the pressure that is placed on children growing up in a digital age is relentless.  I feel as if it was christmas last week, but easter was already a month ago?  What is going on, am I dreaming?  Where is time going?  Everybody around me is talking about what type of passports they have and what their plan is should things really go “South” in SOUTH Africa.

The thought of how outside influences in this broken world will affect our children is enough to make people never want to have children, I have a few friends who feel this way and I can understand this point of view.  From xenophobia to thousands of people from Northern Africa floating in rubber duckies in the middle of the ocean searching for a better life, one feels depressed at the state of our world.  There is unemployment, poverty, the ANC and their myriad of false promises and insurmountable charges of corruption- this is just to name a few.

Negativity  is everywhere, but it’s nothing new and so surely we were meant to rise above it?   We cannot turn a blind eye but we have to be bigger, to choose not to be depressed and powerless as a result of it.  The time is coming and now is when people will stand up and speak up and do something significant.  I choose to believe in a God that has a bigger plan, a plan that is greater than what our minds can comprehend.  A plan that involves us and our children.

Isaiah 60 calls us to change our thinking and realise the impact we can make when we do.   I was inspired by these words.

“Arise and shine, for your light has come and the GLORY of the Lord rises upon you.  See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.  Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.”

The bad in the world is everywhere but we are given the chance to be light, we are not meant to blend in with the darkness by being overwhelmed and overcome by it.  We are given the opportunity to “arise”, get up out of negative talk and shine.  Could we perhaps be God’s key to transformation in the nations of the world?  Perhaps it’s just a new perspective on the role that our families and our children play that will have us outshining the darkness and living lives of significance.

When a light is turned on in a dark room it infiltrates every crevice.  I want our story and presence to be that light so that maybe some of the darkness that surrounds us will become light and people who are affected by the pain and sorrow of life will be able to see again.

In conclusion you are probably wondering whether we will be having more than two children.  My heart say’s yes, but my head says “it’s hard”.  Logic tells me to play it safe.  Then the joy and pleasure of raising children and the thought of the love we will share and the impact a larger family can make makes me really want another.

Every person has their own road to walk, their own point of reference, their own resources (very important reality) and so this is a very personal question.  I just think that if we do choose to have children, whether one or five, our perspective and vision for our future ought to be right.  I believe we are put here for a very specific purpose, to bring light into the world and infiltrate the darkness, to raise children who will have a meaningful impact.

There was an amazing sunrise at home this morning and so when these little ones woke up we went outside to take a video… Enjoy.

See the video here:

https://youtu.be/L0z2ibq4qmw

5 ways to pass the “Seven Year Itch”.

So yesterday was our eight year wedding anniversary.  We survived the “seven year itch”.  This is a term used by psychologists and portrayed in the 1955 romantic comedy, “The Seven Year Itch”, featuring Marilyn Monroe and Richard Sherman.  The movie contains one of the most iconic images of the 20th century – Monroe standing on a subway grate as her white dress is blown by a passing train. The phrase, refers to a declining interest in a monogamous relationship after seven years of marriage.

As I think back over the past eight years, I believe it is choices that have led us to where we are today.  My marriage is by no means perfect (especially whilst Dylan is studying his MBA aka “the divorce coarse”) but one thing I do know is that being in love with my man is a daily decision.   Perhaps you are a newly wed, or you are going onto seven years of marriage, maybe you are divorced or aren’t yet married at all?  Wherever you find yourself on your journey toward love, my hope is that these words might inspire you to keep going, to hold on, to choose love, to choose life…together.

1. My mind- a war zone of fantasy

The power of the mind is immeasurable.  It’s like a war zone.  Unless you are armed and ready for the thoughts that come to ambush you, you will more than likely be defeated.  The result is dwindling pleasure and mutual fulfilment within marriage or worst case scenario, divorce .

Many of us have had past romances.  Relationships with people whether long term or short, have a lasting impact on us whether we like it or not.  We cannot help but carry pieces of our past into the future- call it what you will but this is “baggage”.  My constant challenge to myself is to choose life in the area of my thoughts, to choose to let go of the past especially in those moments when marriage is tough and “the love flame” is more a soldering wick than a burning flame.  When “thoughts of doubt”, or “wondering thoughts” regarding past relationships or even people that showed an interest come to plague- take these thoughts captive and destroy them immediately.

I choose to stare decieving thoughts in the face and then smash them down!  They must GO because if I indulge them I will go on a destructive journey toward brokenness in my marriage.

I believe that an adulterous affair started with a mere thought that became a fantasy, that then progressed into an “itch” and then an action.  The result: utter brokenness.

2.  “Love is not a feeling it’s an act of your will, it’s devotion not emotion”- MIC (a popular Christian rap band in the 90’s)

Love is a choice.  I believe that the term “soul mate” is a false reality.  There is not only one person one can fall in love with.  We choose love.  Love is a verb, it’s patient, its kind, love chooses not to be envious, it chooses not to boast, love chooses not to be proud or rude or to become easily angered.  Love does not  enjoy lies but searches for truth and meaning, for purpose.  Love always trusts, always hopes, it chooses to persevere against all odds.  Love chooses not to fail but to win  (my version of 1 Corinthians 13).  Yes, of coarse we fail to match up to these love qualities on a regular basis but when we slip up, love chooses to fail forward, to dust oneself off and try again.

3.   Be grateful- it’s all about perspective.

I think we often get caught up with ourselves.  Entangled in self pity and constrained by habits of comparing ourselves with others.  My very wise sister in law once said these words, “COMPARE AND DIE”.  This is a statement I have always held onto.  Comparisons kill us on the inside.  I know that I battle to be truly grateful for what I have when I compare my possessions and my husbands qualities and actions with the possessions and husband’s of others.

We are all filled with flaws and so I believe that in marriage we need to choose not to look at eachothers others faults but to rather focus on the good.

“All beautiful you are my darling, there is no flaw in you” needs to be the anthem of our hearts- even though our partner farts in bed sometimes and in seasons of stress may fail to pay us the attention we so long for.  It’s all about choice.

4.  Love and Respect

The bible speaks about how wives are to respect their husbands and husbands are to love their wives.  See it as a circle of “what goes around comes around”.  If a wife affirms and respects her husband (even in moments when he is undeserving of it) he will automatically respond with love and she will then give more respect.  Men and woman have been wired this way and believe me, I have tried this, it works well!  When we as woman nag and complain, bicker and shout- the love tanks we so desperately long for our men to fill will remain empty.

5. Forgive and Forget

Growing up my mom would always say “un-forgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die”.  We have to choose to forgive ourselves and to forgive others.  Sometimes we have every right to be bitter but “bitter waters defile many”.  Streams of bitterness will flow from the depths of your heart and muddy the pools of the lives that are closest to you -i.e. your husband, your children and the lives that they will one day impact.

I hope that my thoughts will ring true to you and in some way or form help with you never succumb to any “itching”.

Here are a few pics from our wedding day eight years ago.  It was a very happy day, a day filled with promise and purpose.

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The Firstborn Romance

I am starting this blog about three and a half years after the birth of my firstborn Mila Grace Cherry.   I have shared a little about my struggle toward motherhood and the journey of infertility.  During this time I remember praying with a friend, trusting for a baby one day.  When I finally did fall pregnant she prayed that my little girl would be “perfect”.  I will never forget waiting for Mila to be inspected by the paediatrician at Westville Hospital after having just given birth.  As he moved her little limbs, poked and prodded, he “oohed and ahhed” (I gleamed with pride)- he looked up and said these very words, “Mrs Cherry, this little girl is PERFECT!”.

Here is a sneak peak at the newborn shoot we did with Thea Venter from Tink photography when our little ball of perfection was only two weeks old.

 

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Infertility and a miscarriage

My struggle toward motherhood.

I married young, I was 21 years old and always knew myself as the maternal type.  I know that some are just not wired this way, but I  was.  As a little girl I would dream of one day becoming a mom.  Two years into marriage and I was desperate.  In the months leading up to me going off the pill I had eight, totally unrelated people approach me saying that they had dreamt I was pregnant.  After the eighth dream Dylan and I figured this must be God “hinting” that the time was now right for us to leave matters in His hands and start trying for a baby, so we did.

Three very long months of  pregnancy tests and ovulation kits went by and I realised something was wrong.  I made an appointment with my gynaecologist and discovered I had PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome).  Its a condition found in about 10% of all women and is essentially a hormone imbalance that prohibits ovulation.  The eggs grow to a certain point and then stop, filling the ovaries with many underdeveloped “follicles” that have failed to burst through the lining of the ovaries.  What baffled me was that there was no real explanation for the cause of this and the only solution, according to most doctors, is to go straight onto fertility treatment.

I was desperate and so I launched straight into the medical route advised by my doctor.  After two months of scans, artificial hormones, mood swings and shattered hopes I decided to head to a fertility specialist.  The specialist immediately sent me for a “laparoscopy”.  I had my fallopian tubes flushed and underwent a procedure known as “ovarian drilling” where they use a lazer to drill tiny holes through my ovaries in an attempt to alter hormone levels and get me to ovulate.  After this procedure I was required to go back onto the hormonal treatment that was previously prescribed by my original doctor.

I had no peace, dealing with the symptom and not the root cause did not sit well with me.  I knew that surely if my body was not able to create life then I needed to do whatever it took to get it to a place of health in order for it to work as it should.  It was then that I started to explore “The Natural Way”.  I was given a book called “Perfect Health, The Natural Way” by Mary Ann Shearer.  This book changed my life.  In a future post I will talk more about Mary Anne’s 5 key guidlines toward perfect health.  Not only did I read this book, I read many.  I became a little obsessive in my pursuit of “perfect health”.

In this journey I chose not to ask the question “why me”, I chose to hold onto to every promise spoken over me in the word of God and to wait patiently for him to act.  His word says that he longs to lavish good gifts upon his children.  Often I felt like Hannah in the book of 1 Samuel 1:9-12 who cried out to God in deep anguish, pleading for a child like a crazy woman.  Hannah promised God that if He would bless her with a child, she would give the child back to God.  I too made this promise and hung onto every word promising fruitfulness of the womb.  If someone offered prayer, I was the first to raise my hand for prayer.

At our wedding Leanne Nixon James (Dylan’s previous pastors wife) had a word for us from

Psalm 128: 3

“3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
    within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
    around your table.”

This word was an anchor to my soul and for almost two years I struggled through, clinging to every word God said, hoping that one day I would fall pregnant.

Eventually, I decided that I would go back to the medical route after having made every possible lifestyle and healthy eating change I could.  I decided to give clomid another go.

I remember the day like it was yesterday.  I was standing in my office, the clinic sister called, my hands shook but I kept my composure.  She happily announced the news -I was pregnant!  I fell to the floor in a heap of tears and thanked God with every part of my being.  Two years of anguish was now over!

On the 9th of June 2011 Mila Grace Cherry graced us with her presence.  Her enormous eyes and the most perfect pouted lips melted our hearts.  She was the perfect baby everyone had prayed for.  God is faithful, He hears our every cry.

Mila was twelve months old when we decided to go the fertility treatment route again and try for a second baby.  We were elated when we discovered that it worked immediately.  At 9 weeks we went for our first scan only to discover that there was no heart beat.  Our baby had lived to 7 weeks and had stopped growing.  My doctor booked me in for a D&C.  Devastation and grief overwhelmed me, I was confused and angry.  Would I have to walk another two year journey of longing for a baby?

After going through the trauma of a miscarriage we decided not to rush into trying for a baby and focus on Mila.  Low and behold, four months later I discovered I was pregnant.  It happened naturally.

Samuel Ethan Murray Cherry came into the world on my dad, Murray Wright’s birthday, the 26th of September 2013.

I do hope that in time to come, there will be more to this story as Dylan and I see ourselves with more than two children.

Psalm 127: 3

Children are a heritage from the Lord,
    offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
    are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
    whose quiver is full of them.

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Baking A Cherry

At 28 weeks pregnant Dylan and I were blessed to have had our special friend Kristy Carlson capture images of my first pregnancy.  It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon spent first at the Makaranga Gardens in Kloof, Kwa Zulu Natal and then at home at our house at Village Grove where we could relax.  We wanted the pictures to be authentic, not your generic run of the mill.  It was an attempt to embrace the incredible joy we felt at the time.  Kristy, we love you, your talent made this moment one we won’t forget. sm-1655sm-1393sm--7 sm--5  sm--4

Hues

It was about 15 months ago when a spark in me ignited a burning desire to explore and action the creative gifts which have been deferred, not through deliberation but through a lack of confidence and a fear of failure. The lack of knowing who I really am and who God sees me to be.

He sees the unseen in me, he knows what is possible in me when his breath gives life to the depths of who I am and who I am called to be.

And so I am entering into a new and exciting season, a season of creativity. A season of becoming who I am in His eyes. Im going on an adventure and I invite you to come with me. Its a season of colour and delight, not one colour…multitudes. It is going to be a multicoloured, multi faceted exploration. Tones, contrasts, bold, bright, gentle, soft hues.