For the Overwhelmed, Exhausted Wife & Mother

I wrote this on Instagram the other day:

I am so tired. This full-time motherhood, investing in future generations, character building, loving, feeding, nurturing thing is just exhausting. I never knew my dream job would take so much of me. It is relentless. I desperately need encouragement every single day.”

It’s not just that I’m physically tired – and I am that, definitely. There’s the lack of sleep, post-Christmas deflation, a week single-parenting while my husband was away, the cares and sorrows of others on my heart… All on top of the endless, relentless job that is full-time, intentional motherhood.

It is shattering in every sense of the word.

When I first became a mother and was absolutely dumbstruck by the responsibility and work it required of me, my beautiful mother-in-law told me, “I remember – after my second child sixteen-months after the first, my husband away in the navy, hanging out another line of clean nappies –  thinking that I would likely have another twenty years of this – and I wept.”

When I tentatively lift my eyes to the unseen future, exhausted to the bone, and know there are many years to come of what has already taken place – broken sleep, sickness, tantrums, endless character training, no time to breathe, a house to be tidied and cleaned continuously, loudness, messes, broken furniture and toys, scrapes, arguing back, impatience rising, inadequacy – it is enough to make a grown woman weep. And many women have.

This motherhood thing is not for the faint-hearted.

And, actually, it isn’t just motherhood.

It’s cultivating a loving and devoted marriage, making sure my husband gets my firsts {under God}.

It’s maintaining a house, accepting that it’ll never be perfect, and making it a home.

It’s making sure I have adequate rest, disciplining myself to have time in the Word and with the Lord, getting out to exercise, nurturing what makes me me {that is, hobbies}.

It’s being a present and supportive friend. It’s remembering I have parents and a brother to pray for and be there for. It’s being an active, serving, participating member of the local Body.

So let me re-phrase the one-liner from above:

This Christian life thing is not for the faint-hearted.

And to cure the pressure, burdens, and exhaustion that comes from throwing everything into the genuine things that the Lord gives us {because, let’s be honest, not everything we commit ourselves to is from God but, rather, us over-doing ourselves}, we tend to come up with band-aid-type solutions.

Simplifying our lives {ie. minimilism}.

Planning each day to a minute {ie. planner perfectionism}.

Creating more breathing space {ie. putting kids in preschool}.

Seeking balance {ie. saying ‘no’ to more things}.

Cutting back the noise {ie. coming off Facebook}.

None of these things are wrong. I have done them all {and retracted on some}. Each and every one of them has a certain appeal and value and usefulness. Simplifying our homes does make life easier. Having kids in preschool does give you more time to relax. Coming off Facebook certainly cuts out a lot of rubbish and noise that wastes time.

But even doing all these things, are we less exhausted? As each day of our life for Christ begins, is doing any of these things creating the peace within we so desperately need?

I desperately need peace. I need an anchored joy tethering me in the midst of noise, errands, squabbles, endless dust and lawns to be mowed. But I seek solutions and I don’t find peace. Only self-guilt. Or regret. Or a sense that, no matter how hard I try, I’m never going to do enough to be at peace with all the chaos.

As I was processing this post in the midst of processing my worn-out feelings {“I just want five minutes to myself, please, with no whining, thank you!”}, a thought entered my mind that brought genuine relief to my weary soul.

Rest.

It was like His Spirit whispering, “You’re not resting in Me.” 

And it’s true. I’m a complete Martha. I’m doing all the doings and not resting, where Mary is, at Jesus’ feet. Do you remember what Jesus said about Mary to her sister?

“Few things are needed — or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:42

Jesus wasn’t rebuking Martha for working hard at her responsibilities. And when I say that we need to be resting in the midst of motherhood or marriage or homemaking orhomeschooling etc. I’m not advocating taking up being lazy. Jesus wasn’t asking Martha to give up her work to be lazy. He was asking her to rest in Him in the midst of it all. Jesus was asking Martha to let Him be her anchor. He was asking her to give up her soul-striving so that she might find soul-rest in Him. 

It is possible to be a crazy busy wife and mother and be peaceful.

I can have emotional kids at my feet, dishes undone, a husband shattered, a dog needing walking, weeds to be pulled, walls to be wiped – and be at rest. These things don’t need to stress me out. My kids don’t need to emotionally drain me if I’m resting at Christ’s feet. But if I’m striving to be perfect and complete it all like a champion, every single thing is going to overwhelm me and I will be a miserable woman.

And I have been, really.

I’m needing to learn a big lesson. And it’s a lesson I’m always learning: grace. I am completely awash with grace through the Cross, but I need to accept it. I need to see that embracing that grace upon grace is not a weakness, but a glory. 

I know that I’m going to start striving again. It’s a compulsion. Most of the time I don’t even know that I’m doing it. But, when I feel the pressure rising and I am finding motherhood a drag, it’s a clear indicator that I have let go of free grace again and taken up trying to earn it.

But Jesus has said that our striving is not needed. Only one thing is needed: resting at His feet.

Have you been at rest in the midst of it all? Or have you been striving, pushing away grace like it’s a sign of weakness?

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Why We Still Want to Be Wives And Mothers {And Keep House}

Each week when I link my posts up around the web, the majority of writing authored by Christian women is about three things:

  • marriage and being wives
  • motherhood
  • home

Within these three popular topics, women are writing about:

  • the purpose of marriage,
  • how to get through struggles in marriage,
  • how to love our husbands well,
  • how to love our children well,
  • how to raise them up in a godly way,
  • how to educate them,
  • how to make our homes beautiful for our families,
  • how to keep them organised,
  • how to make yummy meals.

As a Christian, I find this both heartening and astonishing. For a society drenched in post third-wave feminism {see description here}, who knew that women still want to be home, raising littles, cooking delicious meals from scratch, and greeting their husband at the door every night? It almost feels a little scandalous writing such a sentence {since, from childhood, I have been encouraged to see the image of a wife above as a derision to the empowered, free modern woman}.

Why We Still Want to Be Wives & Mothers {and Keep House}

The Changing Landscape

With everything that has happened to the traditional role of womanhood in the last sixty/seventy years and all the “glass ceilings” that have been smashed for women in the workforce, it truly is amazing that so many women are still choosing that which is “less”. It seems to me {and I am not saying this with research up my sleeve, just observation} that more and more women are marrying younger, having children younger {and more of them}, and are staying home longer to raise them.

Many of the daughters of feminist mothers are turning their backs on the teaching they have received. See articles here, here, and here.

It seems that the desire and yearning to love, to be loved, and to pour ourselves out for our family is still within us as women. It seems it cannot be stamped out of us.

Germaine Greer, the “head” of the feminism movement {yes, the irony is not lost on me there}, wrote in her 1970’s book The Female Eunuch, that women should see family life and anything to do with childbearing as a handicap and an illness. For someone who completely abhorred her natural feminine nature, and who spent her entire life degrading marriage and housewives and raising children, in the end, she realised her mistake. She wrote,

Ruby lit up my life in a way that nobody, no lover, has ever done. I was not prepared for the incandescent sensuousness of this small child, the generosity of her innocent love. {source}

From the little I know of Germaine Greer, the overwhelming sense I get from her life is one of sadness and a great life’s effort to deny what makes her a woman. We can have as many lovers as Greer thinks is good for us, we can be a president of a corporation, we have the social mobility, and the time to spend as we like – but if we are not nurturing in some form or another, we are lacking as women. Ms.Greer discovered {or admitted} that the only thing that can meet the internal drive for love and intimacy and joy is in the pouring out of self in the nurturing of another.

What They Don’t Get

And for those who truly seek a life of loving God and His ways, we get this. Living a selfless life doesn’t come naturally because of our sinful selves, but when we’re given new lives in Christ, we begin to see that true fulfillment in life comes not from taking and taking, but from giving and giving. We find, by losing; we live, by dying.

We understand this because our Saviour demonstrated it so fully for us. Jesus, who deserves every single heart’s full devotion and obedience, came “not to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” {Matt. 20:28}. The man who poured out everything of Himself commands that you and I “deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” {16:24}.

Why We Still Want to Be Wives & Mothers {and Keep House}

This is where people lose their way. This is where the Ms.Greer’s of this world and movements like feminism break down and fail to deliver what they promise. A life of me, me, me, me will give you nothing but regret. It is actually the denial of our lives and living for others – for Christ – that true life – abundant, fulfilling, freeing – can be had.

Women like Germaine Greer are frightened of limitations. They preach freedom of choice … yet, they don’t seem to realise {until it’s too late} that their choices of freedom come with limitations. If you want a childless life, you will get one. If you want many lovers, you won’t get that one, true, committed companion. It’s simple mathematics, really.

Elisabeth Elliot once said,

The special gift and ability of each creature defines it’s special limitations. And as the bird easily comes to terms with the necessity of bearing wings when it finds that it is, in fact, the wings that bear the bird – up, away from the world, into the sky, into freedom – so the woman who accepts her gifts, her special calling – wings, in fact, which bear her up into perfect freedom, into the will of God. {p.31-32, Let Me Be a Woman}

As a woman, I am limited. I must accept this. {And really, the world over accepts this – why the separate races for men and women in the Olympics?} Men and women are made differently for different blessings, different challenges, different limitations, different freedoms.

If I try and run away from this biological fact and attempt to manipulate my biology into something it isn’t {and can never have}, then I am condemning myself, not to so-called freedom, but imprisonment. I would be stuck in a body I hated,  with functions I believed redundant {yet still working as if they were not}, always trying to be what I am not. Exhausting.

But, if instead, I accept the fact that I am a woman, and favour the natural limitations of my sex, then I am freeing myself to live the way I was designed to be. I will find joy in my marriage. I will find peace in childrearing. I will find contentment in the work I do at home {and there is plenty of it!}.

I may have wanted to be a Spice Girl when I was little with as much “girl power” as I could muster, but I feel completely empowered as a wife and mother. There are limitations on my life, but I am free – so free – to move around within them. I am my own boss. I run our days the way I want. I have a man I love and who loves me so well. We’re committed to doing life together, and the law constrains us and limits us to make us keep our promises. And our love is great and true and enduring. And I am rocking my cradle here at home because I know, down the track, that my children will be ruling the world. Even Abraham Lincoln got all this, the man who enabled freedom for so many.

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If you have any thoughts, please share.

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A Simple & Delicious Bread Recipe

This post contains some affiliate links. Thank you for supporting our family.

I mentioned on Instagram recently that we have been doing a health over-haul in our house. Nothing crazy. We’re just trying to eat more natural, wholefoods. And we have a treat over the weekend.

As a mother, trying to go grocery shopping with healthy foods in mind and a budget, it can be super depressing. Real food is so expensive! {At least, in New Zealand.} Everything that is cheap is fake. Even bread. Good bread is expensive, but even that bread is made to last for at least a week in a pantry.

Real bread should only last a day or two, max.

So I’ve started making our own bread. And it is AMAZING.

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My dear friend, Rachel {from The Purposeful Wife, follow her, she’s a kindred spirit} asked for the recipe. I’m no food blogger. So none of these pictures are gloriously done. They’re like me: simple but real.

And so is this bread. Oh my. I can’t remember the name of the cook book I got it from. But it was a memoir-type recipe book, and the bread was one of her father’s tried and true recipes. I can see why.

The original recipe is for a white loaf. The above picture is the white loaf. Recently I’ve been using wholemeal flour and it works out just as well. Moist, dense and perfect for little sandwiches. It’s more filling and the kids breath it in.

I make two loaves that covers two days. This is because my husband isn’t eating bread during the week at the moment. But if he were, I doubt two would last a day. They fit in a normal loaf tin when baking, and only take about 15-20 minutes to prepare, and about the same time to rise if in a warm space.

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Instructions are in the metric system {sorry, I’m from Down Under!}.

 

The loaf tin I use is small {this one looks about the same size} and it is silicon, so I don’t need to add butter or baking paper around the edges {this one looks just like my own one}.

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This loaf is just delicious and is perfect for lunches or a Saturday morning treat. Pin or share, and let me know if you try it!

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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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When You’re Stuck in a Homemaking Rut.

I think just like any other job out there, all homemakers can get into a rut at different times. In fact, because we are our own boss/manager/self-evaluator/trainer/teacher, and therefore spend much of our time working alone, it can be easier to get slack, behind and unmotivated than other vocations.
For me, in most areas of my life, I tend to be an “all or nothing” type of gal. I struggle with balance. Tim and I get this about me and, though it can get me into trouble sometimes, both of us extend myself grace and help me get on track with the things I get unbalanced about. 
As all of us wives and mothers know, we are busy people with many things demanding our time and resources and focus. Lots of women can multi-task really well and balanced everything in the right priority. But me? *Snort* I really struggle to multi-task the big things in life.
Oftentimes, this can be the keeping of our home.

Like I said in my last post, there are so many other more successful homemakers out there who can teach us how to do things and keep our homes well. I am not one of those women! But, because I struggle, I can get along side of you and encourage you with what helps me, a semi-skilled housewife.

Here is what helps me:

Get Your Heart & Head in the Right Space.

As Christian women,we need to continually soak our minds and hearts in God’s truth to help us live lives worthy of our calling {Ephesians 4:1}. Know the Scriptures that specifically pertain to our roles as wives and mothers, have a firm grasp of Christ’s love and grace through the Cross, and work hard at putting those truths into practice {James 2:17}. Read good books to encourage your vision, help you learn new ways to care for your home, or simply read about another person’s growth.
Whether you journal these verses in places you can regularly see or memorise them or pray through them regularly, we need to continually put these truths in the foremost of our thoughts each day. It is so easy to follow our weaknesses, or wander astray from our purpose by things from outside our families. I journal and I write verses and quotes in my bullet journal planner
Believing and fleshing out God’s truth for homemaker’s gives us joy and hope as we learn to love all the things that must be done {<<< Great blog post, read it!}.

Do the Next Thing.

I first came across this source of wisdom through Elisabeth Elliot who shared this beautiful poem {see second page of newsletter, on the right}.  The Lord brought this to me at the time in my life where I could not even get off my floor without great grief. All I wanted to do was sit, cry, wallow and beat my chest to the Lord. I cannot, for the life of me, remember how this poem came across my path, but it helped me immensely. It helped me teach myself, when I could do nothing, to do the next thing.

Source

And it works beautifully in the slow-paced, rotational flows of a homemaker’s life. When there are a million different things to do, do the next thing. Whether you do the next thing on your long list, or do the next thing that catches your eye. Just do it. And, as you keep on doing the next thing, you will work your way out of your rut.

Keep Going…And Going.

I find that when I can’t be bothered, or when I really would just rather sit down and do something lazy, or when I find myself getting sucked into busyness outside our home, if I determine to do the next thing, and then the next, my motivation and heart for homemaking come flooding back in.
There is great satisfaction in homemaking. Despite what the world tells us, there is great success and accomplishment in taming this domain of ours. Once we get back into the swing of things, our joy and hope for this work settles in our hearts again. We see the purpose and the plan in caring for our families in this way. We see God’s hand in the small things of our daily lives, and we know he is pleased with our work to serve him.
On days, weeks, or months, when it’s hard to make our homes – just keep going. The joy will come back.

What do you find helps you when you find it hard to care for your home?

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Today My Best Parenting Was From the Couch.

Friends, these last few days have been rough. Not only have I had The Cold of the Summer of 2016 {aren’t colds in the summer the worst?} but all the lack of sleep I have had since the start of the year has caught up with me. I am sleep deprived and sick. The best of combinations.
Since the start of the year, Rosalie has not slept well overnight. Either waking several times and going back to sleep and/or waking up for several hours at a time, crying/whining on and off. It has been frustrating/hard/exhausting. Catching this cold has just brought me to the wall I was heading to faster than if it had just been lack of sleep.
And I still tried to do everything. 
Despite every inch of my body and shrivelled-up brain screaming at me otherwise, I still took the kids out to the museum this morning. I still did the chores I intended to do. I still pushed myself when I should have been resting. As a result, this motherhood thing became the last thing I wanted to do. Impatient, low, irritable. I was grumpy mum. And the kids matched me one-for-one.
Until I sat lay down on the couch. Then I did the best parenting I had done in days.

I played. We giggled. We read books. I had more to give because I was giving my body what it genuinely was asking for: rest. Granted, no mother can fully have what she truly needs when she’s sick and still taking care of little ones. But I did what I could, and there was grace in that.
While the kids were having their allocated TV time in the afternoon, I sat down in the shower for time to breathe, space and hoping the hot water would wake me up and stop my eyes from burning from lack of sleep. I prayed, “Lord, please help me. And please help me be able to give when Tim gets home.”

And it was after that shower that I stopped trying to run to my agenda and I ran to my body’s agenda and, truthfully, to the kid’s agenda. Rosie and I played “Where’s the Pom Pom?” which is her favourite game. I hide a little pom pom in my clothing or hers, and she finds it, giggling the entire time. It is a simple game that doesn’t require much of me, but which gives much to her. And it gave me joy. We bonded. 
And when Tim came home, and he was as equally tired and worked-to-the-bone, I had empathy. Not a sense of competition {the “Who Is More Tired Game?”}. Not a sense of “What about Me?”. No, by grace, I had enough to care. And he cared for me. It was a gift of mercy to two very tired parents, by their kind Heavenly Father.
Mothers, the point is this:
Most days, our agenda’s work. We run to a general schedule of play/food/work. We generally have energy, sleep-happy minds, generous hearts. But sometimes we don’t. And we shouldn’t fight it. 
Sometimes we are sleep-deprived from newborns {or daughters at twenty-months-old}, sick from bugs, exhausted from the general chaos of living. Don’t try and prove to yourself/God/another-mother/some-invisible-person-of-your-making that you can do this. You can’t. So don’t try.
Rest. Recover. Parent your best from the couch. And receive the grace that is waiting for you to take. You’ll be a better mother from the couch than you would be ticking off your to do’s. 

“Out of his fullness, we have received grace upon grace.” ~ John 1:16

PS: Since writing this, I have learned that Rosalie doesn’t need her day sleep anymore. I dropped her nap and she slept twelve-hours straight. I praised the Lord.
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Bullet Journaling: Why I’m Never Going Back to Traditional Planners Again.

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I love planners. I’m not a good planer per-se, but I love fresh, clean and blank journals all ready to be filled up with words. I need planners, too. Since having kids, this “baby-brain” thing has plagued me no end. {The amount of times I have left my house keys on top of the car and driven away, seriously. In one week, I left my purse behind at the grocery store at two different supermarkets. Mum’s lose their minds, it’s legit.}

I have specific requirements for planners, too. They need to:

  • be week-to-view BUT have decent daily sections
  •  not be rigid with times {because what stay-at-home mum can be, right?}
  • have extra pages for notes, doodles, lists
  • be spacious but not so big I can’t take it around with me
  • be sturdy
  • be pretty {most important aspect, surely}

After struggling through different planners over the last few years, near the end of last year I stumbled upon the term “bullet journal”. I can’t remember where, perhaps it was on my Pinterest feed I’m not sure, but all I can say is this: I love it and I am never going back! Here’s why:

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It’s Flexible {or, It’s Forgiving}

One thing that I struggled with pre-made planners is that they never perfectly suited my life and the things I need as a family manager. There are buisness planners, student planners, blog planners. I even bought a “mom” planner – and it seemed to be a good fit – but in the end, it wasn’t. There is always something not right for me: I don’t need timed days; I need enough space to list, cross out, add to etc. Space is a huge thing for me, and free space, too.

Bullet journalling is when you have a lined journal, some favourite pens and that’s it. You design it to perfectly fit you, your life, your goals, your priorities.  So, as a stay-at-home mum, with kindy mornings, church commitments, friendships to pursue and an entire house and garden to manage, I can create it to fit ME.

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As a stay-at-home mum, I am doing things all day long – but sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. I clean the living room, yet thirty minutes later, the kids have walked sand in through from the sandpit outside. It’s the best and worst thing. So, to help me feel like – at the end of the day – I have accomplished a lot, I jot down all the things I want to do today, as well as later I add in things I have done. I tick them off in pink, I cross with purple if I didn’t get round to it. The next day, those purple items are moved to the top of the list {if appropriate}.

It’s bliss seeing things done. I feel accomplished, even if I was kid-wrangling and running around endlessly breaking up bickering all day. I don’t add things I do by rote {like kitchen clean-up, make beds, tidy up etc}. I write the things I do on top of our daily routine.

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It’s Unique

I love it that I can put whatever I want, wherever I want, in my journal. All the things I’ve always wanted in a planner,  I can put in. For example, at the start of a month, I have a title page of the month, a month-to-view, a half-page goal tracker and then, the month of days {the pages are divided in half for each day}. At the end of the month, I have a “Thoughts From the Month” to reflect on what’s been going on.

I can also put in lists that I might have elsewhere in a random diary but which I never get round to again. The bullet journal has them all in one convenient place! I have a weight goal tracker, a books read in 2016, my goals for the year etc. And the beauty of the journal is, I go only a month at a time. Half way through the month, I write out the next month. I can leave a few blank pages between each month for random pages {like my Books Read in 2016 fits between January and February}. Also, if something isn’t working, I can just change it: I’m not bound by any system.

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It’s Creative

I love doodling and decorating and creating. Whenever I was looking for a planner, it had to be attractive. And though planners have gotten prettier recently, again, I’ve never found one that perfectly suited me. But bullet journaling answers this problem and need so well. As you can see in all the picture, I love taking the time to have nice handwriting, add doodles, Scriptures and pictures and washi tape.

There are definitely more creative people out there, but that’s okay. This planner is for me and I’m making it for me. It doesn’t matter if one of my doodles looks a bit silly, I can paste a picture over it. And because I’m going month by month, what didn’t work creatively the month before can be let go. If one month a want florals, I can; if the next month, I want it more spartan, I can. Brilliant for the creative mind, like me.

Some people adult colour, I adult journal :).

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For inspiration, go on Pinterest and scroll through the bullet journal beauty. Plus, for more specifics, try:

People use:

  • Moleskin diaries or
  • Leuchtturm diaries {see Boho’s post on that}
  • Good, thick inked but thin tip pens, like Faber Castle

I use Typo {an Australian company} for both my diaries and pens.

So, do you bullet journal? What do you think?

PS: The Amazon links on this page are affiliated. Thank you for supporting me.

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More Thoughts on the Proverbs 31 Wife.

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This is another installment in my on-going series Beautiful Examples of a Proverbs 31 Wife. My first post can be found here.

The incredibly high standard of the Proverbs 31 wife often has women grinding their teeth in insecurity, rebellion and a stubborn refusal to accept that this portion of Scripture may be someone God wants us to emulate. I am at the front of that line! I have battled MANY feelings about this woman, but over the years, as God has brought me closer to him, my heart has softened towards her. I now have a desire to actually work at becoming this amazing woman of God.

In several of my readings today, I came across some commentary on this passage that encouraged and challenged my heart. I would love to share them with you.

From What Is A Family?  {yes, I talk about this book a lot, it is that good}, Edith Schaeffer says that, among the many others, there are two vitally important points to remember about this virtuous wife. 

First, her husband trusts her to manage their home, physically and financially.

…{{silence}}…

These two areas are my biggest struggles as a wife. Lack of organisation and understanding finances have been sources of contention between my husband and I. I have already talked about my growth in this first struggle, but I have never talked about my weakness in math and money.

I won’t go into my history of math, but let’s say it is infamous and that there is a wall in my mind that I cannot climb over. Furthermore, in the small area of money I do overlook in our cash system, I regularly lose money. To me, I cannot think where it has gone or how it has been spent. To my husband, there is much slow breathing and patience!!! Tim does organise most of our money, but the physical money we use on a daily basis {grocery shopping, petrol, birthdays etc} is my responsibility – and I have sadly failed in this area many times.

I know I am at fault because I know my heart. I know I have let Tim down and this area of the Proverbs 31 woman is a big mountain for me to climb.

But, Edith is very encouraging, she says,

“If a woman has ability to be a good manager, she ought to have some scope in which to show forth this ability and have it be a practical help to the family. Always remember that trust needs a very real place to be demonstrated, and ability needs an opportunity to develop.”

I can grow, I can get better, and I can honour my husband in this area. I’ve already talked about how managing our homes honours our husbands — handling the money they earn and managing that well is something that they really need us to do.

Second, there is no competition with the husband.

In the context of this point, Edith is writing a chapter on the economic unit of the family. And, as part of her thoughts on the Proverbs 31 wife, she is speaking of the role of the husband to earn the money to provide for the family {as part of Genesis 3} and the work the wife does within the home to contribute. Edith is quite clear that she believes women are not to be bread winners at the expense of the family. If there are children home, the mother is to be as well.

She says,

“Whatever this wife, this virtuous woman, does, it enhances her husband’s leadership and his place ‘in the gates and among the elders of the land’ [vs.23]. She does not compete with him. She does not put her work before his and cause his place to be diminished.”

Whatever she does…it enhances her husband’s leadership. His work is her work. 

This is so contradictory to every single message girls growing up in our society hear. The main message is this: Do your own thing. Get what you want. Follow your path. You can be whatever you want to be. Girl power.

…But, many times, at the expense of the person you love the most. We cannot have the marriage we deeply desire and pursue a career with everything we have. Something has to give. Career’s will always eat up time, money, energy, focus, priority, emotions and drive.

“Two people with two separate careers and living in one house, but infrequently together – with children who are more frequently cared for by other people than by their parents – have not really formed a family, and the economic things have become a kind of people-eating monster taking all the humanness out of relationships….

If affluence is the goal – no matter what – it can only be the result, with the family completely lost.”

Though I don’t work outside the home, that doesn’t mean I cannot be distracted away from my family. Am I competing against my husband in other areas? Am I jealous of — his fitness, his relationship with the Lord, his friendships, his gifts, and, his position in the family? Our mother Eve knew what it was like to covet Adam’s position.

Our main goal, as we pursue the Proverbs 31 wife, is to deeply and wholeheartedly love our families before ourselves. We’re industrious, we work hard, we may earn money, we have many gifts and talents. But they are to be invested in the service of the Lord towards our families. 

To finish, Edith says that, in all her busyness and hard work,

“Her children have enough of her time, however, and know her well enough and are happy enough with her as their mother to ‘arise up, and call her blessed’, so this speaks of a family life of some very definite kind, as well as a good relationship with her husband who ‘praiseth her’.”

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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?

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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.

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