A FREE Devotional Tool For You.

My unskilled hands have been a little busy, making something special for you and myself.

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You see, I am a busy mother of two toddlers who really wants to get into God’s word to feel refreshed and draw from that discipline of grace. My children are up early, my son doesn’t nap – I don’t get much time to spend time in His word. My prayers are arrow prayers most of the time.

Does God mind? Not at all. He sees Jesus’ righteousness in me. But I mind. I need him, desperately…And I am sure you are like me, too.

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I try and go to bed early and have some devotional time several nights a week – around eight, or a little later, depending on what Tim and I have been watching. I grab my Bible, a book, journal etc. and I have as much time as I can with the Lord before I get too sleepy ;). During the days, when Rosalie has her nap, I try and read my Bible so that Josiah sees his mummy in the Word. But, like moth to a flame, so is a child to his mother when he sees she’s trying to do something just for her! So often my reading is skimming, interrupted and broken.

But God is good. Somehow, his precious Spirit still fills me up, and I keep going.

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Getting into His word deeper is a goal of mine and I have been looking everywhere for a free tool to help me. There were a few out there, but none that suited me and my personality. So I set to work to make one I can use in my evening quiet times, getting into God’s word in a deeper way. And, so that I can see what I have been studying, what I have been praying and learning. I’m going to make a devotional binder especially for these study times to keep my pages in, for reflection and keepsakes.

And I thought you might like this tool, as well.

There are four sections:

  • The Facts – a place to jot down context, things we know for sure about the text etc.
  • Scripture – copy out a verse or a bigger chunk.
  • Application – what is this verse saying and what it means to me.
  • Prayer – a place to pray the scripture out into words before the Father.

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I have made two copies: one unlined, the second lined. I prefer lines on mine but, because of my unskilled talent, the lines were a bit squiffy :S So for those who would prefer *near* perfect copies, try the unlined one.

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Keep it in a binder, print off as many as you need, and enjoy that deepening relationship with your Father.

Taste and see that the Lord is good. ~ Psalm 34:8

Please share with reference, and please do not sell.

Let me know if you print one off and use it. I would love to know if and how it blesses your quiet and special moments with the Lord.

Why Home Is So Important.

I am the product of a broken family.

In a society that doesn’t take much issue with separation and divorce, from a personal view, there is nothing more damaging, more lasting and more painful to a child/teenager than when Mummy and Daddy don’t love each other any more. After twenty-one years of marriage, it was a shock, but at the same time, not much of a surprise.

It’s not just the separation or the bitter gossip or the lies or the feeling of being stuck in-between that breaks a child’s heart, it is the upheaval of being homeless. Sure, you may live in the same house, or, you may have a dwelling place to live in – – –

…but that place that was always home?

That place that was safe, stable, comforting and ‘us’? When a family breaks up, so does the home. That anchor that ties a child’s heart to security is cut away, leaving them readily available for being “tossed about” in this world {Eph. 4:14}.

When my parents separated on Christmas Day when I was fifteen-years-old, it began six years of turmoil, deep pain, lost in the later teen years that are so vital for a young woman. My parents lived over an hour out of the city on opposite sides while my life was in the city, so I spent most of those six years in between houses, trying to deal with my own pain whilst copping the pain of one parent and the depression and struggles of another.

A few months after my parents separated, when I wasn’t seeing my father, a boy came into my life and – though it seemed perfect at the time – it was disasterous for a young girl seeking affirmation from a male figure. Having no stable home to call my own and, when in the house of one of my parents only wanting to be somewhere else, I was able to allow my brokenness and rebellion take over and consume my wounded heart. Those years were really, really hard and have had a great affect on me.

One of the greatest things that God has used to redeem those years in my life is to show me this simple, but profoundly fundamental, truth: Children need home. They need a home where, even though Mummy and Daddy aren’t perfect, they love each other, fight to make their marriage work, seek to create a place that will always be a safe place for their children.

“Husband-wife love, wife-husband love, and parent-child love — in times of weakness and failure, when forgiveness must be asked for and given, in times when suspicions have been right — love goes on. A child needs to grow up knowing that love never faileth, that not only will Dad and Mom stay together in spite of their weaknesses as well as strengths, but that the door will always be open, the ‘candle in the window’ will never go out…

Love never faileth. Love keeps the door open, the light waiting, and dinner in the oven — for years. This is the love a family demonstrates in its formation center.” ~ Edith Schaffer, What is a Family?

And what is that formation centre? Home. The bliss and deep delight of a loving home.

It’s not a perfect home because the people who live in it are imperfect. But it is a place where there is acceptance, grace, the gospel, life, laughter, tears, openness in failure, forgiveness given freely, weaknesses worked on, joy, delight and a place that is purely “my family”.

One of the greatest compliments I have been given is that our house feels “homely”. I have worked hard, not just to make our place warm and comforting, but open, with a feeling that you are welcome here, that you can rest and be sheltered from the outside world here. Is our home like the Jones’? Nope. It’s humble, simple and does the trick.

I can promise you, dear mother, that if you want to give your children one thing in this life that will kickstart them into having a great life, it is this: Make them a home. Don’t worry about academics, activities, shuttling them from this place to that – – – give them the rest, stability and the anchor they need. They have the rest of their lives to be out there in the world, busy and “being lights to the world” but there are so few years to have here, in your home. Give it to them because, speaking from experience, it can change the direction of their lives.

My Brief Look Into Head Coverings.

Ah, this could be a toughie. But hang in there with me :).

If you are like me, you don’t wear head coverings – either at church or at home. In fact, no-one wears head coverings at your church, or any other church that you know of. There are a few smaller churches that do, and occasionally you come across a woman who is wearing one, as well as a long skirt, and you generally know the denomination she probably goes to.

You’d love to talk to her, get to know her, ask her questions about her choices and beliefs, because – as a Christian yourself – you want to know. You know the verses she is living by, you’ve read them many times over, and you’ve tried and tried to understand them… But you are not a single bit closer to comprehending their meaning in today’s cultural context.

This nags at you. You love God’s word and you try, with your fallible strength, to obey his desires. You search his Scriptures, you look into original Greek and Hebrew, into reading the whole Bible as one big picture of Jesus. In terms of relationships, you believe in order and the beautiful image of gender equality and distinction. You believe in the term ‘biblical womanhood’. And yet…

You don’t cover your head. Yes, you’ve tried some on and tried to figure them out with how you look in the mirror. But actually believing and committing to wearing them because of a deep conviction that these verses God’s will for you, today?

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Friends, it’s been on my heart recently to really look into this passage. I am passionate about being all the God has called me to as a woman, I want to be his woman, and as complicated as these verses are, I have wanted to come to grips with them as best as I can. I am not perfect and I am not saying that I have “arrived” with a full and complete answer. My heart is genuine and if God leads me to different thoughts in the future, I am ready to receive them.

My hope is to share my journey to encourage and also, hopefully, to encourage women who do cover that I am humbled by you, and that, through this look into these verses, I have come to understand your heart more than I ever have before. I hope you will comment below.

NB. Most of my research has been done through personal conversations with my husband {my head} and my father-in-law {an evangelical minister of twenty-five years}, and through the book by Claire Smith God’s Good Design:What The Bible Really Says About Men and Women {endorsed by the likes of: DA Carson, Peter Jensen, Kathleen B Nielson, and Jonathan Fletcher}.

“4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonours his head, but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonours her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven.”

The biggest argument that I have heard about not wearing head coverings today is that Paul’s instructions to the Corinthians were purely cultural. Men were covering their heads and women were uncovering their heads in church services, and in that cultural context, those actions were rebellious and arrogant. However, men today wear baseball caps and women have short hair and wear jeans but with dedicated hearts to the Lord, unlike those who were going against the “traditions” that Paul had taught them and which were practiced in other churches {vs.2}.

So yes, in some ways these verses are cultural. But it would be arrogant of us to just leave it at that. If we choose not to cover our heads, there must be a deeper theological reason to it. And we mustn’t come to Scripture with the slant of not obeying something simply because it was cultural. All Scripture is for us {1 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:21} and so we have a responsibility to take all Scripture, whether we understand it or not, seriously.

So what are the nitty gritty details for us to understand?

  • In the context of the chapters leading up to this one, Paul has been looking at matters of sex, marriage, food being given to idols and church behaviour. So, as Claire Smith says, “The potential for what we have been given in Christ – freedom, gifts etc – to be used to the detriment of another person. [And] how the differences we find in the Christian community affect the unity of Christ’s body, for good and for ill” {pg.58}.
  • In verses 5-13, when using the Greek word gune, it is a wife that is referred to. Thus, if we are to relate this to us today, it is wives Paul is speaking to. Infact, a woman wearing a veil was a sign in the first-century of being married.
  • Paul bases his commands on this cultural tradition as well as on the order of creation – that God made man, that out of man and for man, he made woman. He clearly makes the point that a husband and wife are dependent on one another and that one is not more important than the other, rather, this is just the way things are.
  • Because this is the way things are, a man looking like a man {head uncovered, hair shaven} and a woman looking like a woman {head covered, long hair} brings glory to God and is rightful behaviour in the church context.

So, we know that wives, in first-century Corinth, wore veils to:

  1. show that they were married, and;

  2. show their acceptance of their place in the order of creation.

Understanding these two points have clarified my confusion on these verses. Paul is tackling the tendency for people to go too far with their freedoms in Christ to the point where they are not glorifying God and hurting other fellow believers.

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So, the question begs, does this directly apply to us today?

Simply, yes and no. But in more depth?

If you read these verses and, as a wife, you feel led, compelled and convicted to wear head coverings and, after discussion with your husband, you both decide it is appropriate then, I believe, obey God. As Claire Smith says,

“…If your understanding of 1 Corinthians 11 and your conscience lead you to that conclusion, then you should cover your head. You are certainly not disobeying the word of God if you do, and you will not be sinning against your conscience just for the sake of fitting in (which you may be doing if you don’t cover your head).” pg.77

But, if on the other hand, your husband desires you not to, then don’t cover your head. The whole point of this passage is Paul promoting the roles in marriage and, if you disobeyed your husband’s desires because of your own conviction, then you are doing what the women who were uncovering their heads in the services – that is, flouting the symbol of your role in marriage. If your belief to cover is strong, then pray and trust God. He can change your husband’s heart and, if he doesn’t, it is more pleasing to him that you respect your husband. {I have talked more about headship and submission in this post.}

What if this passage does not create a conviction to cover? Are we disobeying a direct command from God?

It is my current opinion that, if we don’t cover our heads, we are not disobeying God. I have come to this thought mostly due to the fact that veils, unlike in the first-century, are not symbols of a married woman anymore. Our culture is both eclectic and casual and, due to feminism, has removed many images of submission and marriage.

However, there are two other ways we have today that do show that women are married and that, whether they realise it or not, symbolise some form of the order of creation. They are:

  1. the wedding ring

  2. removing the maiden name and taking the husband’s name

Because of the state of our culture, I believe that it is the latter that really shows the heart of what Paul is encouraging the Corinthian women to do and which directly applies to us. When a woman takes her husband’s name, it shows to everyone that she is leaving her family, becoming one with him, and creating a family with him. It also shows, to me, that she accepts coming under his protection and authority. So when a woman doesn’t take her husband’s name it can mean {though not always}

“…there is a tacit rejection of at least some aspects of a husband’s leadership…Certainly, those feminists who refuse to take their husband’s name show that this is exactly what it means.” pg.78-79

Though taking her husband’s last name is not a visual representation of what Paul is commanding, it is a legitimate way of culturally showing that we believe in what God teaches us in the Bible about the husband and wife relationship. 

To visually show Paul’s commands today in our culture, I believe, is up to the individual couple. Both husband and wife are to be in agreement and, if not, both are to be in prayer to wisdom and guidance. And I think it is important to uphold Paul’s desire that men and women look like men and women. This was a central principle to his command. What is masculine and what is feminine is different today than Paul’s day, but it is easy to do so. Again, this is up to the individual couple.

Finally, I will finish with another quote from Claire Smith who, I believe, summarises her chapter on this passage rightly:

“Paul’s solution is not to remove all distinctions between men and women but to reiterate those God-given distinctions that are to continue within the body of Christ. These distinctions are good. In this case, the distinction concerns the authority and equality that shape Christian marriage and are to be expressed when we meet together as God’s family. This order has its origin in God’s design for human relationships, and reflects the equal yet asymmetrical relations in the Godhead.” pg.80

This is a big topic and I’ve tried hard to explain where I believe the Lord has led Tim and I on this subject.

Have you studied this passage? Did you come to similar conclusions or different? Do you cover? Do you promote your God-given femininity within your marriage differently? Please share kindly below.

What It Really Means To Our Husbands When We Manage Our Homes.

When I accepted the task of homemaking, I knew it meant serving my family. Because one of my flaws is laziness, I knew that if I kept house for just me…well, my standard for cleanliness wouldn’t be very high. Messiness, not a problem. I don’t like messy. But that’s easy to clean up – just tidy. Yet, the hard, elbow-grease, well-oiled-machine organisation? Not my thing, in the natural sense.

 

Having been married for almost eight years {oh, how time flies…}, I have come a long way in my homemaking skills. And I mean, a long way. Now I actually clean the bathroom once a week {instead of once every month}, and mop the floor at least twice {instead of every six months}. I make the beds daily, dust regularly and make sure counters are de-cluttered. This is such a far cry from my beginner years, and becoming a mother has really been the making of me in many ways.

 

Of course, I am far from perfect. In fact, about two weeks ago, I cleaned all the outside windows for the first time in over a year and – oh my! – we can actually see outside. After gazing upon my awesome, sparkly windows for a little, I remembered all the times we have had company over in the last year and how every single person must have seen how horribly dirty our windows were. *Cringe*

 

So, even though I have come a long way, every now and then I make a sudden spurt of progress. Whether that is a new discipline, a new habit, or a new way of doing things, my skill and talent for this homemaking thing takes on a new dimension. And sometimes, very occasionally, I have a heart-change in my homemaking as well. It’s one of those enlightening, “ah-ha!” moments that turns the tide of my thoughts, actions and heart-attitude towards a more peaceful, Christ-centred way of serving.

 

Just recently, it dawned on me – and I can’t remember how or why – that homemaking isn’t just about serving my family so we are fed, cleaned and clothed. That, of course, is the fundamental reason, so that our family life doesn’t fall a part. But another reason that dawned on me was this:

 

It matters to my husband.

 

You see, some husbands don’t care too much about how the house is run. But mine does. He’s not a frenetic, OCD type – he just likes having a tidy, ordered, smooth-running household. It gives him peace. It gives him a space where the busyness, the chaos, and sometimes pain of his work-world is gone. This is his place as much as mine or the kids’; it’s his space to be him.

 

Not only that, I’ve been convicted of the truth that when I make the effort to keep the house in a way that brings out the best in him, it honours him. When I clean, take care of our things, get cars fixed, make sure gardens are weeded, that the electronics are protected by flailing toddler arms and legs, it says to him,

 

“I honour you. I honour your hard work, your sacrifice, your daily hard slog in life to provide us a home and the things in it that create joy in our family life.”

 

In times past, when laziness has ruled my work, I let things get run down, dirty and broken. As a homemaker, I only thought about me and my feelings towards these things and their relation to me: that they were just things, and we can buy new ones. In facing the truth in myself, I realised that I took our home and the things in it for granted. Because I didn’t go out and work for the money that paid for our home, there was less of an emotional connection with how these things were cared for.

 

But that’s not how my husband saw it.

 

Women may not get this naturally, but when we do, we can see that this makes sense: our homes are symbols of our husband’s work. Just like each day with children can blur into another and we feel like we having nothing to show for all our hard work, so too, can our husband’s jobs, to them, seem like an endless amount of thankless hours that provides for a home and things that aren’t given much thought too.

 

But when a wife, and her children if she teaches them, set great store of caring for, cleaning, managing, maintaining, and creating a home for her husband, what joy does this give her special man. How respected, how appreciated, how grateful will that husband feel from the actions of her work that she does for all that he has done.

 

Now, don’t get me wrong, the home isn’t all about the husband and I am not saying that the husband doesn’t do anything around the house to look after the things he has bought with his own money.
What I am saying is this:

 

Let us show our love for our husbands and give them the honour and respect of caring for the home they have paid for by their hours of work. There isn’t anything sexist in that {don’t we teach our children to take care of the things that they have been given?}. It is simple love and appreciation.

What about you? Has this ever occurred to you? Have you ever talked about this with your husband?

When Choosing to Parent From the Bible Makes Things Awkward.

 

Following Christ in this world is not easy. We will find things challenging, painful and lonely. And, as I am beginning to see, raising children as Christian parents is not exempt area of our lives.

I’ve had some painful experiences recently that have just left me feeling hurt, isolated and clinging to my husband as my true best friend {the best kind of result, don’t you say?}. These experiences were not malicious nor were the words said intentionally hurtful. But they have left me disappointed, saddened with the lack of confidence {and lack of knowledge} in the Bible as the authority on parenting, and frankly, like we are some weird set of parents.

My chest has been feeling heavy and I’ve been seeking God, asking him why I feel just so darned alone. Even among Christians, I can feel different. Why is this? I ask Tim. We all love God, so shouldn’t we be of the same heart, of the same mind? Shouldn’t all Christian parenting look similar? Why is it, even in the Church, that the world’s changing philosophies are more obviously used than principles from the Bible?

A verse came up in my wondering this week and it was sobering:

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” ~Matthew 7:13-14

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Friends, if our hearts are in Christ, if he is who we are pursuing above all else, we are just going to have to accept that we are going to be different. In everything. Even, if not most starkly, in parenting.

I am not saying that we know the most perfect, godliest way of parenting. We seriously don’t. Even if we did, we couldn’t implement it, we are too broken with pride, impatience, anger, distraction etc. If any of us were perfect parents, we wouldn’t need Christ. And if you’ve been a parent more than one minute, you know how much you need him to help with this big, big job.

However, I do believe that, just like in all areas of life where Christ takes over as King, parenting in a biblical way won’t be normal. It will be different. It will be counter-cultural, harder, more self-refining, more rewarding and more God-glorifying. Biblical parenting doesn’t come in the latest book on the Top 20 shelf at your local book store. It’s as old as Moses, whom God used to show us all so clearly how hard it is to measure up. {NB. I’ve just finished reading Leviticus and just started Numbers. God is a holy God, people. I forget so easily how abhorrent my sin is. How easy it is to be complacent and think, Christ makes me holy so I don’t need to try very hard.}

“Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.” ~ Philippians 2:2

Biblical parenting can incorporate a broad spectrum of practicalities. Some parents will have firm discipline, some will lean towards more attachment parenting; some will sleep train, others will co-sleep; some will have less concern over different school curricula, others will keep their children home from certain activities and groups. In many ways, these sort of aspects shouldn’t matter between families, and we should make our family the matter of our own attention and judgement rather than another. What should matter, as Christian parents, is that we have the same mind and same purpose as each other: that we can acknowledge in ourselves and to each other that God and his word are at the focus of our parenting. 

  • Are we keeping aware of the sin that lurks in our children’s hearts?
  • In our disciplining, are we seeking to make our children aware of why they are doing what they are doing?
  • Are we being too soft?
  • Are we being too harsh?
  • Are we keeping the Cross in our minds as we guide our children away from lawlessness?
  • Are we intentionally being careful of what philosophies we listen to?
  • Are practical parenting books we read in line with what the Bible teaches about our world, our fallen state, our need for redemption, our hope for the life to come?
  • Are our choices influenced by our peers, our society, our own need for approval?

Friends, the answers to these questions are not always easy to face. They can show where we have been going wrong – not just in how we parent, but how we are behaving ourselves. Though it may not seem like it, God is being merciful when he shows us the idols we have created in our hearts and minds.

When we face the truth, we can see that the way is narrow. The way to true parenting is a harder, more socially awkward path. There will be times where we fit in with the crowd fairly comfortingly. But many other times, we will stick out like a sore thumb. We will feel alone, weird and awkward. Yet, we know, that this narrow path promises us a real, authentic, incredible life. And we know we are not alone.

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” ~ Romans 8:31

Encouragement for Your Mother Heart From Edith Schaeffer.

All book titles in this post are affiliate links. Thank you for supporting me.

I remember learning of Edith Schaeffer through Carolyn Mahaney’s book Feminine Appeal, when she mentioned Edith’s book on The Hidden Art of Homemaking. As a brand new budding {and struggling} homemaker, I found the idea of homemaking as a form of artful expression and worship to God fascinating. It seemed odd but profound and over the years, the simple truth of creativity being a form of loving praise to God has continued to take root in my heart.

When I discovered that Edith had written a book on family just over a year ago, I found a copy and immediately delved in. As a mother who often struggles but whose heart yearns for the goodness of what God has to offer me in this role, What Is A Family? has just flowered seeds of truth in my soul. Wishes of my heart have been turned into convictions based on biblical truth, and as I have read through this gem of a book, all the whispers of what I thought motherhood could be have been shown to me as something possible, through God’s grace.

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If you need some encouragement to cast away doubts about this calling…

…to help you believe the truth about this work…

…to cultivate a spirit of humility and anticipation about mothering…

…to grow in inner strength and conviction to work hard each and every day…

…here are some gems to hold on to:

“A woman who puts aside ‘happiness and fulfillment’ as primary, and begins to think of the needs of husband and children, finds herself amazingly more fulfilled (if there is time to notice) as days go on.”

In comparing the effort many people take to preserve animals heading into extinction, Edith says:

“Over and over again, someone in a relationship needs to consider the family as a career, a project, serious enough to be willing to be the one to ‘scramble up over jagged rocks to feed the birds, so that they won’t become extinct’. The family is even more important than rare species of birds, and taking on the career of being a mother and wife is a fabulously rare lifework in the twentieth century, and a very challenging job.

A wasted effort? A thankless job? An undignified slave? No, a most exciting possibility of turning the tide, of saving the species, of affecting history, of doing something that will be felt and heard in ever-widening circles.”

And, the idea of the one chance we have with our little ones:

Time can never be brought back, and like money, it is spent one way or another. Once spent it is gone – except for the memory… A principal thing to write about in the notebook of our minds in the area of human relationships is: When people insist on perfection or nothing, they get nothing.

On creating the right kind of environment for a family to grow up in:

“There needs to be a homemaker exercising some measure of skill, imagination, creativity, desire to fulfill needs and give pleasure to others in the family. How precious a thing is the human family. Is it not worth some sacrifice in time, energy, safety, discomfort, work? Does anything come forth without work?”

I hope these have encouraged your heart as they have mine. There are so many deep and timeless truths to grow your soul in this book. I highly recommend it.

Have you read it? Have any of these quotes challenged you in any way?

If you go to my printables page, you will find two printables I have made with quotes by Edith Schaeffer. Please save and copy them for your home.

Why My Blog May Not Interest You.

You may have noticed words have been quiet around here. I haven’t deliberately taken any time off, nor have I accidently had a “blogging break”. It’s been quiet around here because I’ve jut been doing other things. And that’s where I will save you some trouble reading through this post to find out why this blog of mine has been stagnant/quiet/uninteresting/unviral {not that my blog has, or will likely ever, go viral}…

If you want popular…

up-to-date…

active on social media…

running giveaways…

offering free stuff…

…if you’re wanting a blog like that, as much as I want your company, that is not what you will find here. This blog is as old-fashioned as my own heart. And my blog may not interest you because, quite simply, I do life more than I do blogging.

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While I haven’t been blogging and working on my site, I have been:

  • Working on my home management skills and effort
  • Keeping up-to-date with work that requires all of my attention
  • Being worked on by God {ouch, truly} in my heart and for our marriage
  • Getting Christmas presents organised
  • Walking the kids and dog
  • So much spring gardening {weeds!!}
  • Helping Josiah settle into his two mornings a week at kindy
  • Having girl-time with Rosalie for the first time since she was born
  • Meeting friends and their children
  • Being encouraged and mentored by older women
  • Building relationships in our street
  • Working on more intentional reading time with the kids
  • Working on more quiet time with the Lord
  • Journalling more
  • Reading more

All in all, I have been too busy with this life in reality than the life of this blog. In some ways, I feel sorry for that; but at the same time, I am accountable to what has been entrusted to me in my day-to-day. Even though I have believed it for so long, my heart is growing in ever-deeper conviction that my family and our home is my ministry, my primary ministry. As enticing as it is to have recognition outside of family life, for words, for writing that I love, if I am pursuing that more than stewarding what God has actually physically given me, then something in me isn’t right – in my beliefs, my heart condition, in my understanding of what God’s revealed word is to us in his Bible.

Sometimes I have been afraid to word my beliefs clearly in fear of offending people who may not agree with me, but I don’t think I have been faithful to God’s work in my life in doing so. The testimony of my life is of God taking what was broken in me – broken heart, broken mind, broken family, broken body – and building it into something that has redemption written all over it. A big part of that redemption has been seeing how God’s original purpose for men and women – for their differing and complementary biological and relational purposes – is still true now as it was to the moment it all fell apart under the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

And I want to no longer be afraid of spreading that message.

Elisabeth Elliot died having lived a life dedicated to the glory of God. She was a sinner, but a sinner redeemed with the purpose of reigniting the heart in women for God’s true purpose for them: relationships and nurture, whatever marital status they are in. And as a woman who is married with young children, my priority before God is to give up my life for them.

I have but one opportunity to please God in this way.

I have but one opportunity to love well in this marriage to this man.

I have but one opportunity to give up of myself to my two children.

This may not please you, but this is the message my blog will tell. And when I write, I will write when I have the time. When I feel that I have spent time with the Lord, when I have provided to the needs of my family. That may give me a few times a week, or like recently, once in a month. But if you continue to follow my blog and keep friendship with me, I promise to encourage you with the convictions laid deeply on my heart and so, hopefully and prayerfully, you may be able to love your family well, too.

There are some great and talented women who are able, because of their life circumstances and personal abilities {that I so lack} that enable them to love their families well and blog regularly. These women offer encouragement and exhortation in biblical womanhood and I thoroughly recommend you read them if you need more frequent words of encouragement:

Courtney at womenlivingwell.org

Stacey at thefarmgirlinitiative.com and abidingwoman.com

Sally Clarkson at sallyclarkson.com

Rachel at thepurposefulwife.com

Kelly at generationcedar.com

and Rebekah at faithfulwiththelittle.com

I’ll leave you {til next time!} with some pictures of what we have been doing lately from my Instagram page {which I update more regularly}:

Why Perfected Parenting is a Lie { And What Your Children Really Need}.

Our age is saturated in the lie that we can have perfect. Whether we are born with it, buy it, earn it or achieve it – all aspects of life are held up to the standard of perfection. It’s a lie we swallow hook, line and sinker without even knowing it. And though as parents we want to protect our children from these lies by monitoring what they read, watch, listen to or be involved in, it is impossible to completely keep our children pure. For one thing, children are not innocent {Psalm 51:5}. And for another, the enemy – who is the “father of all lies” – deceives all of us one way or another as he prowls around looking for people to devour {John 8:44}. Because we know that we can’t fully protect them from “out there”, we try to protect them “in here” – and one of those ways is being the perfect Christian parent.

And once again, we swallow a lie.

It is vital that we, as Christian parents, grasp this early on. And thank goodness I am still in this “early on” period! Aside from believing the lie that a parent must be perfect in order to grow sound, unhurt, woundless adults, I have also got myself into a hole of misery everytime I fail at this perfected parenting thing {which is a billion times a day, by the way}. When I make little mistakes, big mistakes – I honestly believe I am going to wound my children for life.

The thing that I am learning and oh, so, slowly is this:

My children will not benefit from a perfect mother. I want to be the perfect mother who never yells, who never gets frustrated, who never struggles with actually disliking aspects of her children {yes, hand up here}… But I won’t ever be her and, even if I was, what would my children gain from that? That would wound them because, when life stinks {which it will for them at times}, they will feel no sense of relation to me. How could they talk to a mother who never…?

Despite hating being imperfect and despising parts of me that are just so fallen, I am learning that my imperfections will raise my children’s hearts to the One who is perfect.

You see, when I show them sorrow, guilt and repentance for my mistakes and they see me at the feet of Jesus {even if only in spirit}, they will see gospel truth lived out in example. It won’t be pious, thinly-veiled religion. It will be as I always am – –

before the Lord with open hands and a rebellious heart.

Damaging my children terrifies me. Many aspects of my late-childhood and teenage years has deeply wounded me. I can see why I want to parent perfectly. I want the best for them. I want them to have full hearts, little baggage, life in their souls and no sense of shame, betrayal or yuckiness. But I am coming to accept that, in lots of little ways, I will hurt them more than I will in bigger ways. The difference I hope my children will experience is the true, open-Bible, gospel-truth of Jesus.

In my moments of great pain with my own parents, Jesus featured very little. Not all of Jesus, anyway. The perfect, holy Jesus was there – a part, separate from my circumstances and who would be just completely grossed out by what our family was going through. I knew he forgave and that I should forgive, but only the law and righteousness were in my heart.

Oh, may I not teach that in my own children.

May I willingly be an imperfect parent who shows them she desperately needs Jesus, whose love and grace and mercy lavish over us like soft velvet.

May I show them that, in my own weaknesses and faults, I love the Lord and need him to help me care for them.

Though I want to be perfect and never make mistakes and always love my children perfectly…I pray more so that a real, vital, living understanding of who Jesus is and what he is about is made clear to them because of my sin-stained, faltering parenting.

Living Real Life {And Why I Hopefully Won’t Have a Big Blog}

I’m constantly challenged to cut as many ties off with the internet as I can. I’ve already been off Facebook well over six months. I don’t have a Twitter account. Pinterest and Instagram are the only social media tools I use alongside blogging – and even that, I don’t “use” them to the fullest social media potential. And as for blogging – well, I’m haphazard, my site changes appearance when I have a whim to, and I have little interest in “putting myself out there” barring linking up when I can.

Don’t get me wrong, the temptation is there – just like it’s tempting to keep up with Jones’ in regards to housing, so it is with blogging. Beautiful sites, viral content, gospel influence – it’s all right there, at my fingertips. If the devil showed me all the possible outreach and opportunities that could be mine like he did Jesus, I wouldn’t deny him as wonderfully has Jesus did. If he showed me how much money and the perks that come with being a big blogger that could be mine, I would work harder and spend more hours into this blog of mine.

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My heart isn’t fully bad. Yes, there are desires lurking in the shadows of my heart that would come out with a mighty roar if the opportunity presented itself. But there is also genuineness – a great desire to love the Lord, to point women to him and the amazing life that he presents to them in their roles as wife and mother. I want women to know that this life of sacrifice is good. Oh so good.

But something stops me. Something – and not just knowledge of my weaknesses – stops me from working harder to spread this message. Do you know what it is?

Life.

This one life. This one opportunity to love my husband as best as I can. This one chance to love my kids with all I can give.

Just one life.

Our days speed by. We’re up at six and, before we know it, it’s lunch, then dinner prep, then bedtime and another day has gone by as I head to bed. Where does this time go? Is there a fathomless bucket where God pours these moments into? Do they just disappear, never to be remembered or played over again – not even in Heaven?

Time, like grass, withers and fades. But what stands forever? God’s word.

“The grass withers, the flowers fade,

but the word of our God stands forever.” ~ Isaiah 40:8

I don’t want to miss my marriage. I don’t want to miss the presence of my husband, the lunchtime phone calls, the evenings enjoying shows on telly. I don’t want to miss the life in the eyes of my children. I don’t want to see their days go by while I sit at the computer doing my own thing. I don’t want to miss growth moments, learning moments, joyous moments, hard moments.

I want it all.

I’m not saying having a big blog is bad. Not at all. I follow a number that I just love, whose messages pour into my spirit. I just know that I can’t do it. I couldn’t work full-time with that and being a full-time wife and mother. Something would have to give in my life, and I don’t want it to be my children. I don’t want it to be my real life.

I love my mother. She loves the Lord and has done great things with children and refugees and has travelled with a special message of hope for those displaced by war, famine and unrest. She has loved the Lord well by sharing the light she has with those who need it.

But she missed some of our life. And we missed some of hers. Something always has to give. I vowed that my family would not be sacrifice.

So that’s why I won’t – God-willing – become a big blogger. I want real life. Because we only have it just the once. I want to live my quiet life, with my hands and love well. And on this blog, I hope to share in sporadic moments, this quiet life.

Looking Well: New Routines & Binder to Help Me Care For My Family Better.

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Remember that funk I mentioned last week? Well, one thing my husband and I thought could be a factor in the cause of it was my lack of goals. Though I am not goal-orientated person per se, I do enjoy having things to work towards. Yet, since becoming a wife and then, mother, I have struggled to set up goals in my life. I have been a “potterer” for many years and though this got me by when I was working part-time before having the kids, now as a stay-at-home mother, the chaos and unpredictability that happens everyday has slowly eaten away at me. I’ve become lost and aimless, going through the days without any point or purpose other than doing the bare basics around the house and keeping the children alive {!}. One of my sins of laziness has just thrived!

The moment Tim mentioned my lack of goals and suggested working out a routine, something just clicked in me. I just knew that he was right and that, in all my defenses to him in the past that just “pottering” worked for me, I could no longer just get by anymore. We no longer have babies in the house and, though we have two toddlers in the house {eek!}, things are more manageable. I knew that God was showing me that it was time to move out of survival mode {even though we haven’t realistically been in it for a number of months now} and actually do something with our days.

I’ve been overwhelmed with the housework. It’s not that our house has been piled with mess and we have to swim through rooms of junk…It’s more that everything that goes beyond the bare basics {of laundry, cooking, dishes, vacuuming and tidying} has been staring at me and I just feel like I can never get to it. But the truth of the matter is that I haven’t disciplined myself to do something about all the dust, the clutter, the marks on the walls. And, our days have had no structure. I have just tried to go with the flow and…well, potter.

She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. ~ Proverbs 31:27

I have always loved this verse even though I have, and do, fall so short of it. I have had seasons of doing very well at watching over our home and being industrious – but the truth of the matter is this: More often than not, I have failed at caring for our home in a way that is efficient and loving. And I certainly have eaten many loaves of bread of idleness! Much to my shame, many of my attempts at changing have been half-hearted at best, legalistic at worse.

I’m not trying to beat myself up. I’m trying to look at myself honestly. What is inside isn’t pretty and it is easy to deny, to put the blame somewhere else, to look down on others to make ourselves feel better about our own failings. But, if I want true change from the inside out, I need to look inside my heart and admit to my failures and seek God’s help for forgiveness, change and transformation.

Though God is the one who changes the heart, I begin the process. So, being fully open with you, here is how I am working towards loving my family better. This is not a Pinterest-perfect article; my pictures don’t have back-lighting or fancy lenses. This is me, being open with my struggles, and hoping to encourage just one other wife and homemaker that we can do this – we can look well to our households and love our families with energy and efficiency.

Daily Routine

One point that we both agreed on is that I needed to make daily routines. I have seen posts on routines for so long all over the internet and I totally agree with them {I’ve had them in place for when my kids were babies}. But what I couldn’t understand was how??? To me, each day is different – kids need me, we have sicknesses, someone needs disciplining, we have an unexpected errand. These worries, or seeming barriers, have always prevented me from trying to implement daily routines. But Tim encouraged me to start small.

So I broke up my days into blocks that generally happened in a similar way each day: I looked at early morning, morning, mid-day, afternoon and evening. As I began to think about our days I saw that we actually do have quite a few routines in place {particularly early morning and around dinner/bedtime}. My three main routines are these:

  • Early morning: Quiet time, check computer, breakfast and morning routine tasks {unload dishwasher, load of laundry on, tidy kitchen, make beds and tidy rooms, get everyone dressed}
  • Midday: Lunch, Rosalie’s nap/rest for Josiah and I, daily/weekly tasks {fold and put away washing, bathroom or vacuuming etc, one or two room tasks}
  • Evening: Prep/cook dinner, dinner, evening routine {tidy kitchen, load dishes, tidy house, baths, kids bedtime, finish kitchen ie. sweep/mop}

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I searched all over Pinterest for a printable daily/weekly planner that felt right to me. I stumbled across one called Passion Planner – and I fell in love. It is perfect for my tastes, needs and aesthetics. Though you can buy a proper hard copy diary, I love it that they offer you a week’s layout for free.

These are the parts I love the best:

  • It’s clean, simple and black & white {great for printing}
  • Each day is blocked into thirty minute increments {perfect for busy mum with lots to do!}
  • Each day has a focus that you can fill out
  • There are sections for your weekly goals – from highest to lowest priority, divided into personal and work

I’ve been using this for a week now and it is the One. Though I love pretty, flowery things {see post-it’s!}, I love that this is a no frills printable and it gets the job done.

Cleaning Routine

Getting on top of the housework in a way that encourages me to have goals and to see that I am actually achieving something was the next step. Again, I searched Pinterest to find a cleaning schedule to help. Though there were many that offered a blank schedule that you could fill out, I don’t feel confident to do this quite yet. I need something to tell me what to do {for some reason, I work this way!}. Tim thought doing a room-by-room thing would work and I agreed.

Finally, from Scattered Squirrel I found this Spring Cleaning Checklist that pretty much works for our home. I need something that I can tick off to show me that I have accomplished something. It can be depressing when you do the washing, clean the dishes, pick up the clutter – and there it is, back there again the next day {or moment}. But having this list and going room by room is so satisfying. I know I am getting things done and when I see a box still needing to be checked, it motivates me to actually do it. Usually I would just go, “Oh well, maybe tomorrow.” and never get to it. This list is so encouraging to me {see below left}.

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Other Changes

Have you searched “household binder” on Pinterest? Oh my! – it’s like printable, organisational heaven out there. And it can be quite overwhelming, too! But I know that having a binder to keep these new routines in one place with other notes and documents will help me be in a more organised head space. I purchased a binder and clear envelopes as well as some sticky notes. These sticky notes are to write reminders on for things that I do beyond my daily/weekly chores. They might say “Call the dr” or “Make meal for…”. I place them at the bottom of each day on my weekly planner.

I also have a weekly meal planner which is also a sticky note. This {and the To Do list} were given to me by my sister-in-law for Christmas and are from kikiki.k. I am working at getting into meal planning again to help me both with keeping the budget down and because every member of our family have food/health issues {another post for another day!}. Taking my job as homemaker is important and giving my family healthy and nutritious meals is suddenly  very vital task of mine {and something I didn’t expect}. At the bottom of my weekly planner, I place my meal sticky note for easy reference.

I plan to add more things to the binder such as family information, medical information, birthdays, important events etc. I just have to collect the right printables for me. Even Etsy has many people who sell printables in amazing patterns and styles at fairly good prices. Some also sell entire household planners {though you can get lots free too if you look around – again Scattered Squirrel has great printables, as does Clean Mama}.

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Grace

As always in the Christian life, God asks us to both work and rest. Psalm 92:12 says:

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

God asks that we take our days seriously and I know that I have a history of not doing this. Sinful idleness, cultural standards and my own lack of motivation have been part of my struggle to care for my home and family well. But God has given us only one life to live for him and his glory and as this verse says, he asks us to take each day and use it to it’s fullest. Having this perspective on our daily life, God says, gives us wisdom.

Yet, our Lord also says that our failures, sins and weaknesses that lead us to either strive or be slothful can never be satisfied. I can never work enough nor can I ever rest enough. And it isn’t finding a balance, either, as much as that tickles our ears. Rather, God says that in our work, our souls find the rest we need in him alone.

My soul finds rest in God alone. ~ Psalm 62:1

Recently I have been repeating that to my heart every time I feel a restless spirit move within me. If I want to be slothful, I say it to my soul and it spurs me on to work for him. If I am feeling overwhelmed by the chaos and noise that can be child-rearing, I speak this to my soul and I find a stillness that keeps me going on the right path of patience and strength. 

Looking well to the ways of our homes is both work and rest… The work of seeking his glory in all that we do and bathing in the perfect acceptance and grace that is his rest in Jesus.