This Is Me: Accepting How God Made Me

Never has it been harder to accept who we are than the age we are in right now. Though our western society has hashtags galore to promote beauty standards and “accept yourself” movements, people are more insecure, lost, and self-haters than ever before. We are a culture obsessed with self {hence, selfies} as well as having health/beauty standards that are impossible to live up to consistently throughout our lives.
And I have had enough, really. I’m tired of thinking that God made a mistake with me. I’m tired of thinking that because I’m not {insert whatever here} then I must be ugly. I’m sick of feeling that because I am not the same size that I used to be means I’m fat or ugly or unworthy. I’m sick of all the lies.
You see, becoming a mother has changed the game a lot. And becoming a mother to a daughter has heightened the stakes. The research and surveys that show girls are worrying about their weight as young as five is staggering. And that there are girls who have not even hit their “tweens” that are dieting. Like, that is just appalling.
We have to do something about this.

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There is a lie floating around Christian circles that protecting children from “the world” is bad. Some people believe that if children are protected too much from this broken world that it will cause them to rebel later down the track etc. This is ridiculous. What makes children rebel? Sin. Whether they are exposed or not, they have wills of their own and they will choose how they live, whether following the way their parents lead them to or not.
But, parents have an explicit duty towards God to raise the children He has placed them in their care in the ways of the Lord. And the more I grow in understanding of the Word, and the more I see this world around us, the more I see that His ways are so, so, so radically different. I’m realising that we are, as Christians, supposed to be radically different. 
What made Israel a holy nation was that they were chosen and set a part. Things turned ugly for them {ie. when Babylon almost wiped them off the face of the earth} when they became a part of the world around them. When they wanted a golden cow, when they wanted kings instead of priests, when the wanted this or that – and not God and His ways. Things just went ka-pooey.
And God has a radically different view about ME – who I am, how I look, how I am made up – than the world does. And His view of me NEVER gets me down or in a state of self-loathing. His view of me ALWAYS glorifies Himself and the incredible creative love and honour He bestows upon those whom He creates.
Is it not incredible the workings of DNA? Is it not amazing that my large nose had been carried down through generations from our German/Jewish background? Isn’t it amazing that my light blonde hair, freckles and light skin come from some Scandanavian Saxon thousands of years ago? Isn’t amazing that my daughter is the spitting image of her name-sake grandmother when she was the same age in the late 1940’s?
But my flaws are amazing too… The weight I cannot shake for the life of me. The varicose veins gifted to me from my mother and Nana. My lack of mathematical ability. These things are no less amazing because they are – percieved by me – to be negatives. They are amazing because, for some reason or another, when God knitted me in the womb, fearfully and wonderfully; when He arranged the history of my peoples in my blood and thought of what would most glorify Him, He chose these things.
Who am I – and who is society – to tell Him He was wrong?
I find the less I watch the things of this world – Facebook, gossip sites, movies etc – the less dissatisfied I am with myself. When my eyes turn away from the world {which tells me to simultaneously believe in myself as I am whilst promoting their form of beauty as the right form} and more on Him, the more I realise that true beauty is so much more beautiful, so different, so varied, so unconventional, so less outward-related that I am amazed.
And I see that health is beautiful. Not a no-sugar, only meat, no carbs sort of health. The health I mean is one where what you do with your body – whether eating or exercising – is to the glory of God. And eating chocolate can glorify God, people, because chocolate is GOOD! And so is moving the body in exercise so you’re using the muscles in the way they’re supposed to be used – by working. Working our bodies the way they are supposed to be worked is part of the beauty God has made.
We’re under grace so I’m not talking about laws and rules of what is or isn’t beauty. We can be fashionable and wear make-up and dye our hair. But our hearts have to have God-glorifying motivations. Am I wearing make-up to hide what I think is an ugly face? Am I wearing this dress to show off my curves? Am I covering up not because it’s modest but because I don’t want anyone to look at me?
I could go on and on. But I’ll stop. All I wanted to get out there is that Christian women have got to take back beauty, not for themselves, but for God. We’ve got to be radically different in how he portray beauty to the world around us because we are a holy and set a part people. And we have to radically change what we are doing as mothers so that, as we raise our sons and daughters, the next generation are growing up rooted in God-glorifying, truth-exalting, grace-bestowing beauty.
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Women in Need: Am I Bridging the Gap in the Church?

There are many women in need within the Church.
In the book By Design by Susan Hunt, there is a challenge to women to be helpers and advocates for women in, and out of, the Church. Susan Hunt describes how God has given women enormous ministry opportunities within the church. She points out how male leadership sometimes fail women {and most of the time, unintentionally} because of the differences between men and women. These differences are beautiful and necessary, but there can still be a divide. This is where women step in and bridge the gap for the other women in crisis. Part of our helper design isn’t just to be helpers to our husbands or our male ministers/pastors, but to other women, who need us to help others hear their story and be understood. 
And, I feel like the most difficult question to ask myself is, am I a woman whom other women feel they can approach when in desperate need?

Women In Need

This question squares me in the face. I cannot turn away from it. If I am a true lover of Jesus, then I am a true lover of His people. It must be my bent then, to be a woman that other women feel like they can come to – no matter the crisis. Susan explains,

“In this chapter I want to talk about the least recognisable of the wounded – those sitting in the pews next to us. Women who have been raped, battered, abandoned, or abused, or who have caused their own pain by having an abortion, an affair, a struggle with lesbianism, or involvement of a cult, usually think that church is the most unsafe place for them to share their hurt because they think their scars are unacceptable among such ‘respectable’ people.”

Do we really know the women in our church? Is that single woman who has been attending church for a year able to share with you her past of a broken home, abuse, and wayward behaviour? Is the wife and mother, with a kind husband and great kids, able to be vulnerable with you about her struggles with pornography?

“‘Last night at church I invited a single mother to go out for dessert. As we sat and talked, she told me that she has an adult child ‘out there somewhere,’ and that she has had two abortions since then. And all this happened since she has been a Christian. Her tears were dripping on the table, and I know she carries around incredible guilt. I told her what you said about church being a safe place to come and share our struggles. She admitted that she doesn’t feel safe at church. She thinks people would reject if they really knew her.'”

…If they really knew her. Oh, my heart breaks for women who feel that way.
If there is one place on earth that we can be truly known for who we are and accepted as we are, it ought to be the Church. The whole point of us being together is because we all desperately need saving and not one of us are exempt from that. But somewhere along the line we seem to become – or appear to be – “respectable” people that would be too shocked to care, to understand, to be safe.
But as Susan says,

“If the Church is going to act redemptively, we must be honest about who we are – not respectable people but redeemed people, not flawless people but forgiven people.”

Some crises are really blunt. The longer we are joined with Christ the purer and less worldly we become, and so some of the acts of this world can be confronting and scary. We feel overwhelmed about how to help or what to say. But that is okay. The point is if are we authentic enough nthat, even if such crises are not familiar to us, our own need for Jesus enables us to be open so that women in need feel safe, welcomed and addressed with grace and truth.
God has been just taking the surgical scalpel to my heart as I have bee reading and re-reading this chapter in preparation for our study. He’s been revealing pride, “respectability”, fear of daunting sins… But He has also been cultivating in me a heart and a passion for creating women in the Church who are willing and able to be safe places for other women in need. It is a movement we desperately need in our world today. And, as always with movements, it starts with one person – you.
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Hope for When We Fail in Our Vision for Motherhood.

This is the third part of my small series on having a vision for motherhood. You can read the first part here, and the second part here.
hopeforwhenwefailvision
Fellow visionary mothers: no matter how amazing our God-given vision is for our children, and no matter how much we believe in it, we are going to fail to live up to it. Let us accept that, not beat ourselves with guilt over it, and move on to the only thing that can cover us and our motherhood and our mistakes with grace: God.

“All that God requires from any of us is a desire to serve him and a trust that he can make up the difference for the things we lack.” ~ Sally Clarkson, The Mission of Motherhood

As a Christian mother, this is what God asks of us: having a heart for Him and His ways, and a trust that, as we seek to obey Him in our callings and the vision He has given us as mothers, that He will cover us with grace. God loves our children more than we do. He has got our back. He will redeem what we fall in.
Protecting my children from the feelings I felt as a child with over-committed and distracted parents is a strong aspect of my vision for our children. I believe this strong belief in being a whole-hearted mother is God-given. He is redeeming in me {and, therefore, my children} the lack in my parents. He is covering me with the grace He extended to my parents and, He did this for me at the time when I felt their lack {by giving me friend’s mothers who mothered me in the way I needed}.
But, because of my fallen nature, I still will lack as a mother. I have, and will continue to, make mistakes. Some mistakes will be willful, and many others will be ignorant. There is a part of me that fills up with pure panic when I think of that. There is no way I want my little ones to feel as I have had. And, God-willing, they won’t. Yet, no matter how determined I am – and no matter how godly, or biblical, or passionate my vision is for them – I am going to let them down.
When I don’t turn to God when I am filled with fear over hurting my children, that panic can go into hyperdrive and, by reacting to those emotions, I can over-parent. I can put more pressure on them, and myself, because I am trying to make up for what I lack as a mother. This, by default, will harm my children. I must accept that.
But, when I turn to God when I am filled with fear over hurting my children, my heart can be stilled to peace because I know He has them. I can let go of that control I want to grasp hold of and never let go. I can be free to be imperfect. I can trust, on my worst days, that God will cover the gaps of my motherhood. He will use those gaps for His glory in their lives.

“The Lord would have us know that he is the one ultimately in charge of our children. He will use our willingness and our efforts, then fill in the gaps of our inadequacies , to prepare in their hearts what he has in mind.” ~ Sally Clarkson

So have hope, dear mother. Don’t go into panic-mode if you’ve had a bad day and yelled at the kids and wanted to leave them outside the gate with a sign saying “Free to a good home”. Don’t reach for the control buttons. Bring your heart back and submit it unto the Lord. His yoke is easy, and He gently leads those who have young {Isaiah 40:11}.
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Visionary Motherhood:: Truths To Hold Onto For The Long Haul

Tim’s parents are our go-to people for anything life. They have been in ministry well over twenty years after being saved in their mid-thirties. They have been married for forty years, through thick and thin, have raised four strapping boys. They know gritty life, they know grace, they know the gospel. I love them fervently.
When we go and see them, as the kids run around crazy, I love sitting down and having a natter. My father-in-law and I often talk in-depth about current church issues or cultural crazies. Today was no different.
Somehow the topic got onto work and I mentioned that I am often asked when I’m going to go back to work. When I say no, I’m then asked if I will when the kids go to school. {I then have to explain that in all likelihood, they won’t be going to school.} And I said to my father-in-law, “I feel so different.”
We talked about the unseen pressure from culture, even in Christian culture, to do certain things. It’s normal for a mother to go back to work when her child is still a baby. In a friend’s ante-natal group, out of fifteen, only two mothers remain at home {age of children: twenty-one months}. And my father-in-law said to me, “As John MacArthur said to me once, ‘Just because thousands of others are doing it, doesn’t mean it’s right’.”
Firstly, um, my father-in-law has personal quotes from John MacArthur! That’s the legacy God has knit me into {gosh, I am so thankful}.
Mostly though, it was what he said next:

“You’re doing this [staying home and teaching the kids life at home] because you have a long-term vision. You’re looking down the track and what needs to be done now, for then.”

In my last post, I wrote about how important it is to have a vision for motherhood. Not only does having a vision keep us focused on the over-arching goal we have for our children’s childhood and family life, but it also keeps us from getting trapped in the ‘now’ mentality of our world.
We don’t become mothers and have only a few years with our kids before we send them to school and then return to our pre-mother lives. We have these people in our care for our whole lives – with different seasons requiring different levels of us and our devotion. And as Christians, our motherhood ought to look different to the world’s view of raising children. 
Whatever arrangement our family takes – stay-at-home mother or working mother, homeschooling kids or public school kids – how we mother must look different. A big part of that is having a vision, a heart attitude, a mindset that directs our days, our actions, our dreams, our decisions.
For me, I have explained my vision before, but I’ll quickly recap: 
As a mother, I desire to dedicate my life to my family whole-heartedly. I want to be an undivided wife and mother, spending my days pouring out myself for the sake of God, on the people He has given me. Specifically for our family, this means I stay home raising the kids and, most likely, we will homeschool our children. Our desire is to keep our children in the security of home for as long as we deem appropriate so that we can: lay the foundations for a faith built on a strong understanding of the gospel and God’s Word; and to equip them with the ability to live in this world when they are ready.
I believe strongly in our duty as parents and the serious task bestowed on us. Mostly because our children are not really our own. They belong to God. And, just like a shepherd for his flock, it is our job to care and protect and “show them the way” {Proverbs}. 

How did I come to this vision?

It’s been years in the making. Years of family sin, family brokenness, my own failures, redemption, growth in biblical understanding and the hope that a new generation can be different from the previous. I’ve done a lot of reading, lots of listening to faithful teachers, and lots of time soaking in the Scriptures.
During my time in the Word, over time, the Lord has gently – and sometimes strongly in times of need of direction – personally given Scriptures that have pressed upon my heart what I believe to be His desire for our family, for my motherhood. The Book of Proverbs has been a very fundamental foundation for my vision, and here are some specific verses:
“My son, keep your father’s command and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. Bind them always on your heart; fasten them around your neck. When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you. For this command is a lamp, this teaching is a light, and correction and instruction are the way to life.” 6:20-23
“The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” 14:1
“Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.” 14:26
“Discipline your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their death.” 19:18
“By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.” 24:3-4
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” 22:6 
“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” 13:20 
And, finally, in Colossians:

“He {Christ} is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end, I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.” 1:28-29

I don’t think these are promises for our family. I don’t think God is saying, “Be this kind of parent and your children will be Christians/godly/obedient/loving”. Rather, I believe that God is saying to me, “Here is my Truth about parenthood. Listen to My Voice and not the world’s. You are called to mother these children, follow this way with them”.
Recently, my two little ones – a preschooler and a toddler, sixteen-months-apart – have been so much fun hard work. There have been many trying moments and days where I have struggled to believe that this is all worth it. It would be so easy to throw in the towel and give them to someone else to raise. I have had many pity-parties feeling sorry for myself and bringing us all down.
But then, the Spirit nudges me. I open up His Word and I am gently and lovingly reminded why I am called to motherhood. I am a mother, therefore I am called to do it. It is my responsibility, and my joy, to do it. Through God’s grace, I build our house with wisdom; I guide my children from being fools and companion of fools; I start our children on the way they should go. And I know this is what I have to do because the Bible tells me so.

“This job has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilige. Therefore, it is an offering I may make to God. Therefore, it is to be done gladly, it it is done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.”
 ~ Elisabeth Elliot
Having a vision, rooted in Scripture, helps me stay faithful in this job.
Having Scripture keeps me anchored in the Scriptural calling and duty of motherhood. 
It is an anchor. And the memory of the moment these verses came to my eyes and entered my heart, speaking to a question in my soul I had asked of God – that sweetness and personal moment with the Lord builds me up as I lose my footing.
Do you have any specific Scriptures that God has given you as a vision for motherhood?
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The Importance of Having a Vision for Motherhood.

 
“Where there is no vision the people will perish.” Proverbs 29:18
This verse can often be taken out of context. The writer in Proverbs isn’t exhorting the Israelites to  have their day-planners out and create a business plan, or a ten-year vision for their lives, or a bucket list to tick off before they die. He is describing what happens when a person has no spiritual contact with their Creator God and the revelation that comes to their spirits when they anchor themselves with His Word. 
One commentary describes, “We may then a little amplify the proverb for the sake of exposition: ‘When there is no living revelation, no perceived contact between man and God, there the bonds which hold society together are relaxed and broken; but he that holds by the revelation that has been given, obeying the law, so far as it has been presented to him, happy is he.'”
Dear mother, are you in contact with your Father God? Have you received a living revelation from God for this great task He has given you to accomplish for Him? Simply,
Do you have a vision for motherhood?
God has been really good to me in that, through the pain of my parents separating and having a mother with a divided heart, God has redeemed those years of mourning into dancing. Within the broken heart of a teeanger, God gave me a vision for both marriage and motherhood. I committed to Him and myself that I would:
  • do both – no matter what happened – to my very best to His glory;
  • that I would be whole-hearted, undivided in both;
  • that I would offer my life for those He gave to me;
  • that my husband would know I loved and respected him;
  • that my children knew they were worth more to me than any personal ambition.
When I got married and then when I had children, I poured myself into His Word to equip myself with His wisdom and His heart for the family. I read books and books on what I learned was called “biblical womanhood”. I listened to sermons and asked questions and wrote and prayed and longed.
I didn’t want what the world offered: I had seen how it decieved my own family and how it never gives what it promises. I wanted God to create in our new family a new generation that would seek His ways above all else and would proclaim the Gospel in whatever place He put us in.
This is my vision for our family. But, oh, working towards it – and living it, in the day-to-day, is hard. Just incredibly hard.
Poo-explosions, squabbles, character training, washing clothes, making dinners, long work days, church commitments, study, tiredness, sleep deprivation, tight budgets, large properties to manage, unexpected bills, hormones, bad days – – –
You get it. Life is busy and complicated and mundane. Feelings go on merry-go-rounds and it’s super easy to hop on for a ride. When we’re up to our eyeballs in family living, it can be easy to lose sight of the end. We’re floating on our life-vest of Jesus, but those waves sometimes block our view. It would be easy to slip off and sink under. Switch on the lazy parenting button, or allow our hearts and minds to be distracted and divided.
It’s a battle. The daily chaos of what we see is really a veil to what we cannot see: the fight over the spiritual health of our family. Us evangelicals get a bit squirmy when talk leads into spiritual wars between Satan and his evil cronies. It sounds a bit, well, charismatic. But it’s the truth. As my minister said on Sunday {August 14th} we’re either under evil or we’re under grace.
 
 
When we don’t have a vision for this motherhood thing {and marriage}, and work towards it, our family’s will perish. And not only our family, but eventually, our world. And that is totally what see today, isn’t it? A world crumbling as families topple down, like dominoes.

“Biblical womanhood is at risk. That is bad enough, but if the secularists succeed in taking out Biblical womanhood, the family will go with it. The family as God designed it is dangerously rare today… When we rescue women, we rescue families. When we rescue families, we rescue culture.” ~ Susan Hunt, By Design

But, visionary-mothers, we can – by God’s mercy – turn the change of the tide. We can direct it back to the way God intended families to be: whole, strong, Jesus-loving, grace-giving, committed, caring, faithful.
I would encourage you to really seek the Lord for His vision for your family. In prayer and in the Word, ask His Spirit to guide you. Ask for Scripture that is His personal revelation for you as the mother of your children and as the wife of your husband. Read good books that point to biblical womanhood and equip yourself for this very real spiritual battle going on.
On days when it is just simply hard, we can grasp hold of those Scriptures to maintain the vision we have to do this thing well. We can stand firm and not be swayed or fall into temptation. And if we do? There is great, great mercy and grace and always second chances with our good God.

What is your vision for motherhood?

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Motherhood & Mental Illness: When I Am Weak

This is now part of a mini-series found here:
Anxiety. Mental Illness.
They can be hard words to swallow about myself. But I do.
This week I have been reminded that I live in a frail and fallen body. It’s easy, when things are fine, to fool myself into thinking that I have it all together, that I am strong and able to cruise through life independently and alone. And then, something happens and medication isn’t enough to keep my anxiety at bay: once again, I’m thrust into the whirling pit of a speeding mind, the sense that something is very wrong, intense emotions and a body wound up like an old-fashioned toy.
I have been “fine” for so long. It’s two years since my last pregnancy and post-partum struggles. It’s been well over a year since I have tried to wean myself off my medication, only to have my old friend come creeping back through the brain stem of my mind. Life has trundled along – busy, routine, safe. I’ve been okay.
 motherhoodmentalillness

How I Went Under Again

Last week Tim was suddenly put on night shifts {who knew builder’s could be on night shifts?} and everything was turned upside down. I was sole parenting day and night; I was stressed trying to keep a toddler and preschooler quiet during the day in our small house so as not to wake Tim; therefore, we went out and about everyday. It was a struggle. By the end of the week, the muscles around my shoulders were sore from being tense all the time and, by the weekend, I could feel the unnamed panic starting to creep over my heart, my mind like a deer in headlights.
Now I wasn’t handling things as I normally do. Squabbles, disobedience, dawdling filled me with irritability at best, rage at worst. Long days in sole charge of the kids from sun up to sundown {Tim has night classes several times a week and is gone for work by 6.30am} built that pressure of responsibility to bursting point as I struggled staying on top of it all.
Finally, by Wednesday, I acknowledged to myself that I wasn’t well and needed to stop trying. This brought a sense of relief. It usually takes me a little to face my anxiety; I often keep going as before, productive and ignoring my rising tension. I think I don’t need help. And then, I realise I can’t – –
and I throw myself before God and simply ask for help. “Give me grace, O Lord. I just can’t do this without you.”

Why I Accept This Thorn

And that is what this thorn in my side is really for. God knows me so well. He knows I love comfortable and, more than physical comfort, I crave idolise emotional comfort. And He knows that when I ask, in trepidation, to help me need Him and desire Him more than anything else, the thorn shifts and I’m reminded that it is weakness that keeps us within the safety of His refuge.

Peace and safety certainly don’t come from striving for the perfect life or being the world’s best mother. These are the goals of my flesh. They war with the God-directed spirit in me – the new me – that only wants Him and His ways and His will. These two parts of me grate against one another like the plates of the earth, and it is my anxiety that is the earthquake, shaking me around a bit, keeping me at the foot of the cross.

Nothing in my hand I bring, 
Simply to Thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to you for dress;
Helpless, look to you for grace;
Stained by sin to You I cry –
Wash me, Saviour, or I die!

I used to plead this illness away. I used to fight it and deny it and crucify myself for being so weak. I feel shame that I need such a quiet and uneventful life to keep me steady, that such a minor thing like Tim working night shifts can throw me off “my game”.

But part of the valley I experienced after Josiah’s birth helped me see it with a humble heart. I saw this world and our broken bodies differently, for what they are – tents, that flap in the wind a bit, and which pegs sometimes get ripped out of the earth. We are clay vessels, we’re easily broken.

Grace Upon Grace

Our culture emulates perfection – perfect bodies, perfect jobs, perfect families, perfect wealth. But what a lie. We will always come against the fallen. This world is not meant to be it.

“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me. That is why, for the sake of Christ, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

… So the power of Christ may rest on me. Did you hear that? We aren’t meant to strive in our brokenness. Rather, we are meant to rest in His grace, His power, His mercy, His blood. We can acknowledge who and what we really are, and divorce ourselves from perfection. We are to pursue holiness, but that is not the same as pursuing perfection. We are to pursue being a set apart people, who trust and obey God.
Now, however much I hate my illness, I accept it. I embrace it. I acknowledge that it is a gift from God. Yes. A gift. I would rather be sick, on my face before the throne of God in desperate need of Him, than cruising through life thinking I’m awesome and invincible. I would rather see myself as a weak wife and mother, than sit on my high horse, not able to be real and in the trenches with other needy women. I would rather experience the Gospel in pain than understand it in perfect theology, sitting comfortably, unscathed by broken. I am really, really grateful I’m broken. It makes me need Jesus.

Do you struggle with anxiety or another form of mental illness? How do you accept it as a struggling mother?

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A Wife’s Primary Role

If I could sum up all the verses directly related to wive’s in the Bible, this is what I believe God wants all wives to know:

Your primary role in marriage is to support your husband.
Now, as a sort-of feminist teenager, I would have squirmed with indignation at such a statement. Even though every fibre of my being longed to have a man to love and be loved by, the thought that my main role in marriage was to support him – well, I don’t think so!
Why did I feel that way? What was it about the idea of a woman supporting the man she loves make me go all icky and angry? If I were to talk to my teenage-self, I would cut right to the chase – and the hidden thoughts of my heart – and point out the two reasons why.
NOTE: If you are being abused – emotionally or physically – I am not talking to you. You need to get help or get out now. That is not a marriage God wants happening and will provide for you just as He provided for Israel escaping slavery. I am addressing wives in a normal, imperfect but fairly healthy marriage relationship.

1. “You think being a support to a man is something derogatory.”

I’d point out that it is the man bit that makes me feel icky. You see, if I were thinking about my primary role in friendship, and that it was to “support my friend”, I wouldn’t think twice… But because it is a man, this means there is something inherently bad/derogatory/abusive/slavish about it. 
What a lie! A lie from our fore-mothers gone awry, a lie from the history of men abusing their position of protector/provider, and a lie from the enemy who just wants us all to be as far away from God’s good design as possible as it can be.
When we put the baggage of history aside and we look into the sweet Word of our God, the Truth we see right at the beginning of the world – before sin and abuse and manipulation and lies wormed their way like cancer into our beings – that God created a stunningly gorgeous woman to —
be a helper
be a companion
be a lover
It is inherently within us to be nurturing, supportive and a help. We absolutely love it. Why do we love planners and organisers and nesting so much?? And, quite simply, we long to love. We long to love the men God has blessed us with. We just get lied to and we fall prey to the sin that “so easily entangles us” {Hebrews 12:1} and therefore, live in fear.
But God addresses this fear in 1 Peter 3:6, when He reminded us of Sarah who,
“obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not give way to fear.”
Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t call my husband ‘lord’! Ha! But, my heart respects him and his position of protector and provider. This is the same thing. And so, I support him by respecting him and honouring the position God has put him in and the position He has put me in. If I want to be a biblical, godly woman like Sarah – who was honoured in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11 – I am to obey God and not be afraid. 
Obeying God also means trusting Him to help me and help my husband if things do start to go wrong – which they will, by the way. We are sinners and we will sin against each other. Your husband will make mistakes and sin against you. But God knew that and knows that now. Even when we make mistakes, living His ways is still far better than living the ways of this world.

2. “God wants you to focus on His Word for you and not your husband’s.”

Teenage-me: It’s easy to focus on what another person should be doing or what they are supposed to be doing but aren’t. You might think, “Well, I’ll support my husband if he is loving me like Jesus.” If only he were more: kind, loving, protective, manly, stronger etc. Or, if only he would: provide better, be less lazy, help around the house more, be a better father.
I’m afraid, this is another lie. Obeying God is never a dependent clause. Just as He never asks us to love another depending on their behaviour, nor does ever love us dependent on our behaviour. He loves us unconditionally. And, even though we are fallen creatures who hurt and sin and disobey, we are still called to love one another more than ourselves {John 13:34-35}.
This means that our support of our husbands is not dependent on their behaviour. We can’t say, “Well, if he would show me more affection then I would feel like being more of a support to him”. That’s just not how it works. This is a form of comparison, which is a sign of a distrustful and ungrateful heart towards our God who generously gives us all good gifts {1 Timothy 6:17}.
Again, we are to be like Sarah. Do you think Abraham was perfect? Do you remember that he was a coward, pretended Sarah was his sister, and gave her to another man to be his concubine {Genesis 20}? Talk about a model husband! How hurt, betrayed, grief-filled Sarah must have been. They had an imperfect, sinful marriage.
But. 
She respected her husband and God calls her righteous for it. In their mistakes, God would have stretched them, helped them learn to love one another more than themselves, and to trust and obey the roles He has created for husbands and wives. Isn’t that what He asks us in our marriages today?
The above picture is a bit tongue-in-cheek. But, for all the 1950’s of it, such a picture shows a wife being welcoming, warm, and supportive to her husband as he walks in the door. Does she struggle with fear and the desire to rule her husband? Of course! Who doesn’t? But, if she truly loves the Lord and desires to please Him above all else {including her feelings and sentiments}, then she will strive to be a loving and supportive wife to her husband.

I would love to hear your thoughts! Have you struggled with any of the lies mentioned?
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What Happened When We Brought Our Son Home From Preschool.

Preschool. Our son was at it about nine months. And then we brought him home. What happened?
Let me just summarise it in one word:
Transformed.
That is the most succinct word I can think of to describe what has happened to our little boy since we brought him home from preschool. It’s been two months and they have flown by. Why? Life is just easier with him at home.
Now, I’m not saying my days are breezy. Ha! Two children under three? No day is going to be breezy! I’m teaching, correcting, encouraging, disciplining, playing, chasing, imagining, cleaning, cooking, and living with them both all day, everyday. I don’t get the few hours of space like I did when he went three mornings a week. And I don’t get time alone with Rosalie now, either.
But – and it is such a big but! – we just have a totally different boy in the house. The boy who was always there, underneath, but who got confused and influenced and tired and overstimulated and put in the world before he was ready. Therefore, the boy who was more aggressive, rebellious, hurtful, less kind to his family, bored all the time, unable to play with himself or others has gone.
Instead, we have a boy who is kinder, more loving, more open, willing to be corrected, less rebellious, more imaginative, more able to play by himself, enjoying more self-directed learning. So, like I said, transformed. We have our little boy back.
Do I regret sending him to preschool? Yes and no.
What Happened When We Brought Our Son Home From Preschool

What I’ve Learned

In some ways I regret it because I have changed my stance on early education and a large reason  for this is because because of the negative effect it has had on our son.
But, at the same time, I don’t regret it because I believe God has had His hand on it all. As parents we always make our best decision with the information/situation we have in front of us. We can only step out in faith and readjust our footing as God guides us.
The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in God’s way.” Psalm 37:23
Some of the ways God has established our steps as parents is by:
  • helping us know our son more {he’s an INTROVERT, people!}
  • helping us know our convictions more.
  • helping us trust God’s guidance more.
  • helping us be more confident as a mother and father.
  • helping me be more confident in my husband’ judgement {why don’t I learn this quicker??}.
  • helping us see that homeschooling is probably going to be the best thing for our family.
God always knows what He’s doing and, when we make mistakes, if we bring them back to Him, He redeems them and glorifies Himself. I love it because mistakes then, are not ever mistakes at all. Just experiences that push us more into God’s will, and nothing can go wrong with Him.

What Young Children Really Need More Than Preschools

Today, as I was contemplating it all and looking at planning some activities at home, I spent some time in my number one favourite book on motherhood: The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson {affiliate}. Whenever I’m feeling in need of some motherly advice for a mother, I turn to her. These words just lifted me up today:

“Simply throwing children into a cultural tornado and hoping for the best gives them little chance of living up to their potential or coming out unharmed. Someone needs to take responsibility for their nurture, protection, nourishment, intellectual development, manners, recreation, personal needs, and spiritual development. Someone needs to commit time and energy into staying close to them as they grow, encouragung and correcting and teaching…

Best of all, when a mother chooses to stay home, she has the time and opportunity to craft the kind of relationship with her young children that only extended time together can foster. And from such a relationship she has a much better chance of building a strong moral and spiritual foundation in the heart of her young children, teaching a system of truth and values without the constant challenge of authorities and peers whose lives are totally different.” p.43,48

Over the last year or two God has just been placing these thoughts so heavily on my heart. I’m at a place where the idea of leaving either my children at a centre regularly on their own just doesn’t sit well with my conscious. For other people, there will be no issue with this. But, for our family, at this season in time, our children belong home with me.

So I would just love to encourage you, dear mother, that if you have a little one in preschool or school, and you just have something in your spirit telling you pulling them out might be a good idea – don’t ignore it. Seek the Lord, talk with your husband, pray and read His Word. There is great wisdom in keeping children home for as long as possible to prepare them to be with the “authorities and peers whose lives are totally different”.

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. Psalm 13:20  << A confirmation Scripture from the Lord when we were praying about bring our son home >>

Have you experienced something similar with your own children? What do you think about Sally’s words?

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Deepening a Love for God’s Word

Within the worldwide Church, we all “do church” differently. And that is something that, I believe, glorifies God. God is a God of beauty and variety, so the way we express our love for Him and how we do fellowship with each other ties into His creation of diversity. But I do believe that there is one thing that is more important than anything else: the priority of the Bible.
Belonging to a church that faithfully believes in, professes, and acts upon the teachings of God’s Word is the most important commitment of a follower of Christ. Though the way a service is run and led, the way music is done, the way communion is practiced etc. are important aspects of church life to consider – how much a church body loves the Bible tops them all.
The Bible is how we know God. It is how He has revealed Himself to us explicitly {Romans 1:17} – by His laws, the unfolding story of His people of Israel, the life and death of Jesus Christ, and the ministry and letters of His early apostles. If we did not have the Word, we would only have His creation to show us He exists {Psalm 19:1-4, Romans 1:20} and His will for us would be a mystery.
But isn’t God good to us? We can know His ways and His will because of the Word. And as we grow to know God through the Gospel of Jesus, we can love, be in awe of, honour, and be passionate about the Bible more and more.
Do you know the wonders of God’s Word? Let’s look at a section of Psalm 19 and see the work God does for us in His Word.

Psalm 19:7-13
“The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.” {v.7}
Sometimes from the doubt in our own hearts or from the voices from the world, we can come to the Bible and doubt it. We can doubt that it is true, that it can be trusted, that it is consistent, that it is relevant. But here we see simply: the words of God in the Bible is perfect. We can trust it, even when it is confusing or difficult to accept. And, not only that, it is aliveit refreshes our souls and makes us wise. The Bible is not a stagnant book. God uses it powerfully within us through His Spirit. If, we let Him.
“The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.” {v.8}
Not only is the Bible perfect, it is right. Our holy God has revealed to us His will so that we may know how to please Him. He is our Creator, we are His created beings. If He says something is sinful, it is. We can trust the Word to show us the way – even now, in the twenty-first century. And when we apply His truths to our hearts and lives, we are transformed. Joy and light become the way of our lives, no matter the situation.
“The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever.
The decrees of the LORD are firm,
and all of them are righteous.” {v.9}
So much of the Church’s lack of impact on our world today is because we don’t fear the LORD nor do we fear His Word. We dismiss aspects of His Word as irrelevant or wrong; and we focus more on His loving care than His holiness. We forget that God is still the holy God of the Old Testament and that, the only reason we have access like we do is because He killed His own Son for our sake. God’s Word stands true forever, and so does His character. We must revere His Word so we can revere His righteous ways. Reading His Word faithfully helps us worship and treat God the way He deserves.
“They are more precious than gold, 
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the honeycomb.” {v.10}
Is God’s Word a delight to your soul? Is it as precious to you than anything else in your life? It ought to be. It should be what we turn to more than people, more than books – even good books written by faithful Bible teachers. This is a weakness of mine, as a big reader. God’s Word should be so precious to my heart; I ought to yearn for it above any other source of knowledge or wisdom.
“By them your servant is warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
But who can discern their own errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
Keep your servant from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless.
innocent of great transgression.” {v.11-13}
God uses His Word to enlighten us on our sins – those that we do willfully, and those that are hidden in the darkness of our hearts. How good He is, and merciful, that He doesn’t leave us to our own devices. God’s Word is a guide for us, a healing book, a history of His great love for sinners. Use it to help you, use it to convict you, use it to comfort you, use it to give you knowledge and understanding.

**

God loves it when we love to love Him. And He loves it when His Word is as precious to us as pure gold, as important to us than any other thing in our life. If you feel lacklustre towards the Bible, or you doubt, or you just don’t know where to begin – begin with Jesus, in the Gospels and go from there. Read Psalms for comfort and beauty, read Proverbs for wisdom and truth, read the letters of the New Testament for Christian living. And know that when you ask God to help you love His Word, He has no greater delight than answering that kind of prayer! All you need to do is ask and actively read and study it.

“We must have the Word of our Lord…Our souls need food, and there is none for them outside of the Word of the Lord. All the books and all the preachers in the world cannot furnish us a single meal: it is only the Word from the mouth of God that can fill the mouth of a believer.” ~ Charles Spurgeon
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You Can Slow Your Life {and your family will thank you for it.}

It’s Saturday night and we put our son to be at 5:55pm. I don’t think he has ever been to bed that early. But he was tired and burning up. His eyes were puffy with tiredness and when we said, ‘Early night tonight, buddy’, all he said was, ‘Yeth’. {Yes, he has a cute lisp.}

This week, despite ever being conscious of how we spend our days, has overtaxed our children. Compared to other families, it may have been a fairly normal week, but for us, it was busy. My kids don’t do well with busy. They tend to get a bit crazy and, at worst, come down sick with temperatures. Hence, a toastie of a little boy, in bed an hour before his normal bedtime.

And me? I don’t do well with busy either. Introverts with a tendency to be anxious go better with a slow life. So, when I make sure our life is stable and peaceful, it’s not just for the children – it’s for me, too. Happy mummy, happy campers.

Living a quiet and slow life is a passion of mine. But I’m not perfect at it. There are still weeks where we get out too much or there isn’t enough downtime at home. Sometimes it cannot be helped, but for the most part, it is possible to live a slow life.

Principles for Slowing Your Life Down
Keep family your main priority. When your family come first, it is much easier stripping the unnecessary away. Perhaps you’re like me {in Myers-Briggs, I’m an INFJ} and you love helping. If someone needs help, I will put my hand up. Or, when we commit to something, we really commit {and so go to the group even if it is the last thing we should be doing}. As a wife and mother now, I say no to everything that does not add to our family life. Even if it would add to my life but would cost someone else in the family, I say ‘no’. This may seem extreme, but this full-on motherhood thing is only for a season. I won’t always have this amazing opportunity to pour everything into my family. Oneday, I can do things for ‘me’. But right now, they are my priority.
Accept the different seasons. As mentioned above, there are many seasons in life, and each will mean saying ‘yes’ to some things and ‘no’ to others. We don’t need to feel guilty about this – it really is a fact of life. Limitations during different seasons are not meant to be constricting; they are perimetres for keeping the ebb and flow of daily life in check. Within those boundaries is great freedom and peace. Just like seasons of life, there are also the seasons of the year: we slow down in winter, and become more active in the warmer months. This is a natural timeline that God has made for our lives, but we have forgotten it in our modern life.

{Source}
Do what makes life a joy. ‘The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.’ Reading books on the couch, cuddles close, kisses buried in golden curls, tickles with boisterous boy-giggles. This is pure joy and it is enjoying Him in the moment because His hand is all over it. Stuffing kids in cars, rushing here, stuck in traffic there, tempers rising, irritation. There is no joy there. And it isn’t what life is about. Walks in the park, make towers with blocks, reading good books, painting pictures, planting bulbs in winter soil for the spring. Glorifying Him and enjoying Him forever.
Keep your eyes wide open. Don’t just accept the status quo because that’s what everyone does. Just because busy is what our culture endorses doesn’t mean it’s good. Read our culture, read history, put everything into perspective. Don’t be afraid to be a little bit kooky. In the end, what other people think of us doesn’t matter – it’s Him we’re wanting to honour. Let us submit ourselves under His way of living for each of our own lives.

{Source}
There are other things to keep in mind, too:
  • re-evaluate when needed
  • keep Scriptures hidden in your heart to keep you focused on what is important for your family
  • be bold even when you feel nervous to be different
  • keep communicating with your husband and his dreams for your family
  • accept the busier moments in life {ie. Christmas} then return to slow as soon as possible
  • watch and listen to your child’s cues {they may not be able to articulate their need for more or less}

The blessings of a slow life are just enormous. And I don’t believe it is something you can regret. As mother’s, if we were constantly busy, we would look back and think: ‘I wish we had taken things more slowly; enjoyed the little years more; read more together; had more home days…’ But I don’t think, in living a slow life, we’ll look back and think, ‘I wish we had been busier.’
It’s never too late to start. It’s okay to quit clubs and extra life fluff to scale back. It may take awhile to adjust – your bodies will be used to going, driving, spending, hurrying. There will be urges you need to master. But a morning will dawn and your heart will think of the slow day ahead and be content. 
And, I promise, you will be a more patient, more enjoyable, more joy-filled wife and mother for it.

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