A Simple & Delicious Bread Recipe

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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.

bread

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.

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

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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!

Hooked on Phonics

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This is the latest great offer from Educents that I thought some of you might be interested in. I have heard lots of great things about Hooked on Phonics. My two are too little for learning to read, but I’m definitely looking at this curriculum for the future.

Oh, and I love the quote below – it is an absolute gem. Leaders are readers!

Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read Program

From Gladie, at Educents:

COMPLETE 4 – Level Learn to Read Kit for $109 (Usually $299)

There are not many products out there that are worth spending a ton of money on. But if there is ONE piece of advice I have to parents: invest in your child’s ability to read and write. {<<< Yes!} It’ll be worth every penny, and more. That’s why I’m excited to share this deal with you.

Why? Communication is key to success, and learning to confidently read and write is its foundation. The Hooked on Phonics Program is a tried and true program that’s helped multiple generations of learners in my family master reading and phonics. It’s so easy to use and follow along that children can even teach themselves to read with Hooked on Phonics.

You may know the well known quote from Harry S. Truman,

“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”

The world of literature also helps children build upon their imagination, become more empathetic, and improve emotional intelligence.

So, if anyone were to ask me what the best reading/phonics program is, not only as a mom but as a learner, I would (and have many times) recommended the Hooked On Phonics Learn To Read program. This set is the absolute best deal I’ve found for beginners. It includes five levels from PreK-2nd grade.

Other great programs by Hooked on Phonics are available for older children here on Educents, where I found this deal. Right now you can get free shipping with code CANDYCORN.

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Growing up with a father in Children’s Literature and having our own personal library, I can attest to the magic and wonder of reading. Reading really does make us smarter. When I used to teach English as a second language, lots of mother’s of students would ask me what they should do. Every single time I replied, “Get them reading!” ~ Sarah

Have you used Hooked on Phonics? What success did you have with it?

How to Encourage Your Husband {When Everything in the House Breaks}.

Do you ever have one of those seasons in your household when everything seems to break or fall apart at the same time? Several things have “gone wrong” around the house recently and it can be very frustrating.
Today we realised we would have to replace a glass window we thought we could get away with not replacing. And then, when I went to put a load of dishes through the dishwasher, it started having a bit of a fit – a fit it has done before and which eats at our pockets.
I could see the frustration and disappointment in my husband’s face, and my heart went out to him. 
When things like this happen, I believe there are three things a wife can do to really love and support her husband. Here’s what I have been thinking of and seeking to do for my husband as we look at having to spend more money on broken stuff.

encouragehusband

1. Stay positive {even if you feel worried about money}

If you’re like me, you can feel the worry and fear about money when things keep breaking and the bills start piling up. There is something about money that causes sinful emotions to wrap themselves around the human heart. {In fact, did you know that Jesus spoke more about money than any other topic, even salvation?}
I learnt very quickly as a young wife that it did not help the situation if I started worrying, fretting and adding anxious emotions to the situation. Feeling those own emotions as the provider, my husband would feel worse, more stressed and full of doubts when his helpmeet was freaking out.
By far, the most helpful thing I can do for my husband in this situation is to stay positive and calm.
 
“It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful wife.”

Proverbs 21:9

2. Affirm his work & role as provider

I’ve said before that how we, as wives, take care of our homes speaks volumes to our husbands. Our homes and the things in it – though things – are evidences of a husband’s hard work, love, and willingness to spend himself for the sake of his family. When there is a season when things around the house keep breaking and money keeps disappearing, this is so demoralising for a husband.
A husband might think to himself, “I am so tired. I work so hard. Everything keeps breaking and all the money I earn – that I want our family to have for our needs and enjoyment – keeps getting sucked dry. I’m useless. I don’t provide enough. I’m not man enough.”
It’s hard for us women to sometimes understand our men and how they work {especially when they don’t talk about how they’re feeling!}, but I believe their silences, anger, moodiness about household mishaps often stem back to their identity as men.
So encourage your husband that he is enough, that he’s doing an amazing job, and that things will be okay!

“Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” Proverbs 12:25

3. Manage the house well & seek solutions

 

A very practical way we can encourage our husbands around the home is to care for it well. Not only does this mean managing and caring for everything in the house with respect and hard work, it can also mean adjusting our expectations of what we have.
Today when the dishwasher broke and the look came over my husband’s face, I put my hand on his arm and said, “Honey, we don’t need to get it fixed. It is a luxury item.” And it is. Between the cracked window that keeps out rain and cold and the dishwasher, one of those actually needs to be fixed.
I am perfectly capable of washing dishes and have been for most of our marriage. Even though I have loved the last year of having a dishwasher, it is a luxury. If it means taking the load off my husband, I can go without, easily. Sometimes we can make sacrifices around the home just as our husbands do when they work so hard for us often in situations and pressures we don’t fully know about.

 

“She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.”  Proverbs 31:17

As wives, we’re called to support and encourage our husbands. If we are able to stay home, it is a privilege and a blessing. Our husbands have the pressure of working in the world under people who do not know the Lord. Their work environments can be really hard places to work in. They can feel enormous pressure to earn lots of money and buy bigger houses and more things. But we know that life isn’t about those things. It is about loving God and our families {both at home and at church}. Let us take the load off our husbands by doing our best at home, making do when the need arises, and encouraging and blessing our husbands by working hard with able hands around the home.

How do you encourage your husband when household things get him discouraged?

A Simple & Sweet Preschool Curriculum

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Before anyone gets excited that this is going to be some amazing, hard-out homeschooling post – it isn’t. Though we’re heading in that direction, our kids are only 3.5 and 2. We’re not pushing formal education on them until they’re a little bit older. These are their foundation years with us, growing as little children.
That being said, when they show interest in something “educational” I try and take the bull by the horns for that little moment. Specifically with Josiah being a little older, I am gently encouraging him to learn the basics: counting to ten, reading and sounding the alphabet {and knowing words that begin with a certain letter}, and motor skills.
He has picked up many things organically as we’ve played and read and talked. One thing that he has struggled with right from the start is how to hold a pencil and the concentration to start the process of drawing {and later, writing}. I wanted something that we could do in a relaxed way over time {ie. pick it up when the moment arised}, that was simple, and that wouldn’t seem boring to an active, boisterous boy.
When I saw the Rod & Staff curriculum for preschoolers, I knew it was the right thing for us.

 

 

I had heard about Rod & Staff through the homeschooling web-world. HomeSchool Review has a whole page dedicated to the different curriculum that they publish which I greatly appreciate. Most reviews I saw were really positive, especially for the preschool bundle that I was looking at. So I looked a little more into them.

Who Are They?

Rod & Staff are published by Mennonite families in the USA who, in the 50’s, were concerned about the degrading textbooks used {can they imagine what it’s like now?!}. They have curriculum for all grades, starting with Preschool and Kindergarten {Preschool and Year 0 for NZ readers}.
In their Little Jewel storybook series, their mission statement says:

“The goal of the publishers is to publish books that have high ideals, teach good morals, are Biblically sound, build strong Christian character, and provide wholesome, interesting reading for your children.”

I love that, and that is exactly what I want for our little ones and their learning.

Preschool Curriculum

In the Preschool four-book bundle, each book progresses on to a slightly higher level. You begin with the yellow book, About Three, which starts the child off on practicing following lines with their pencil. Most of the book is this activity, with a little “story” to follow.
The characters are Samuel and Sarah and they like to blow bubbles {trace the bubble’s direction til it pops <— Josiah loved this}, help their mother and father sweep the floor {trace the direction they sweep}, or fly kites {follow the kite as it flies}. This element makes it fun and interesting for the repetitive nature of tracing {which children need}.
Then there is Bigger Steps which follows on just ever so slightly harder than the first book. There is still a lot of basic tracing, circling different objects that don’t match, and very beginner number tracing.

 

 

Next is Doing My Best. This has more tracing but significantly harder, with starting to trace numbers etc as well as more detailed instructions {ie. “Draw lines to show which pictures go with the desk”} There is also colouring {ie. “Colour the balloons” or “Colour 2 hats black”}, identifying similar objects {and therefore, what’s different}, and pages with multiple skills required. {<–This book is far too advanced for my lovely boy, I cannot imagine him doing this for quite awhile yet}.
Last is Colour, Count and Cut which I believe could be used alongside Doing My Best and before Bigger Steps. I’m not sure if that is how it is meant to go, but from the looks of it, it would suit the skill level {like a supplement book}.

What I Love

There are two things I really love about this curriculum:
1. It’s simple. It’s all in black and white. The pictures are all handrawn. It covers all the necessary skills young children need in early education before formal learning begins. There is no fluff. No noise. Nothing gimicky. Just simple learning.
2. It’s really sweet. In our world of high-tech must-have-the-best-and-latest, I really appreciate this enduring curriculum that is still selling strong. I love the little story of Samuel and Sarah, and how everyday home life is the focal point of their learning {which is mostly helping and playing}.
If these two aspects really appeal to you as a homeschooling mother, then I would definitely recommend Rod & Staff Preschool curriculum. The extra bonus point is that they are cheap – around $20USD.

Plus, Little Jewel Storybooks

We love reading books here at home. I know it is one of the primary ways all children learn. We go to the library each week and pick up loads of books. We love it!
But I was starting to feel frustrated that, even though lots of the stories were great, they weren’t…deep. Their stories are beautiful and their illustrations gorgeous. But I felt like we were missing out on books that were showing the kids how God wants little children to be living.
I had heard about Rod & Staff’s Miller Family books {an example}but knew they were too old for our children. Then, I discovered their Little Jewel Storybooks. They aren’t a series, just many different little books of simple stories about children, their daily life, their relationships, their feelings, their behaviour. I fell in love – character building books, just what we needed.

 

 

I chose five books {all around $4.50NZD each} and I am so happy with them. And, best thing of all, the kids enjoy them. The pictures are all very simple and done in pencil, but are very engaging and relatable to a young mind. Most of the stories rhyme and the sentences short. But, best of all, the messages are clear:
 
It’s good to help your mother and father.
Sometimes we make mistakes and we learn from them.
Being kind is something God wants us to be.
God made everything, and your family.
Listen and obey.
These messages are values I’m seeking to instill in our children each and everyday. To me, at this age, they are more important than learning the alphabet or how many balls I am holding. This is why they are home with me: to learn they are loved by God and their family; to learn to love God, their family and friends; to learn that life is not about them, but about caring for others.

So there you have it, my little review and recommendation of the Rod & Staff Preschool curriculum and their Little Jewel Storybooks. Like I said, we’re not going crazy over here. But that is what I love about these books: they suit us, they reflect our goal for our family, they’re wholesome, and they are producing fruit in our family life.

 

Have you ever used this curriculum or another from Rod & Staff? Do you have a preschooler? Are you using something different?

This Is Me: Accepting How God Made Me

Never has it been harder to accept who we are than the age we are in right now. Though our western society has hashtags galore to promote beauty standards and “accept yourself” movements, people are more insecure, lost, and self-haters than ever before. We are a culture obsessed with self {hence, selfies} as well as having health/beauty standards that are impossible to live up to consistently throughout our lives.
And I have had enough, really. I’m tired of thinking that God made a mistake with me. I’m tired of thinking that because I’m not {insert whatever here} then I must be ugly. I’m sick of feeling that because I am not the same size that I used to be means I’m fat or ugly or unworthy. I’m sick of all the lies.
You see, becoming a mother has changed the game a lot. And becoming a mother to a daughter has heightened the stakes. The research and surveys that show girls are worrying about their weight as young as five is staggering. And that there are girls who have not even hit their “tweens” that are dieting. Like, that is just appalling.
We have to do something about this.
There is a lie floating around Christian circles that protecting children from “the world” is bad. Some people believe that if children are protected too much from this broken world that it will cause them to rebel later down the track etc. This is ridiculous. What makes children rebel? Sin. Whether they are exposed or not, they have wills of their own and they will choose how they live, whether following the way their parents lead them to or not.
But, parents have an explicit duty towards God to raise the children He has placed them in their care in the ways of the Lord. And the more I grow in understanding of the Word, and the more I see this world around us, the more I see that His ways are so, so, so radically different. I’m realising that we are, as Christians, supposed to be radically different. 
What made Israel a holy nation was that they were chosen and set a part. Things turned ugly for them {ie. when Babylon almost wiped them off the face of the earth} when they became a part of the world around them. When they wanted a golden cow, when they wanted kings instead of priests, when the wanted this or that – and not God and His ways. Things just went ka-pooey.
And God has a radically different view about ME – who I am, how I look, how I am made up – than the world does. And His view of me NEVER gets me down or in a state of self-loathing. His view of me ALWAYS glorifies Himself and the incredible creative love and honour He bestows upon those whom He creates.
Is it not incredible the workings of DNA? Is it not amazing that my large nose had been carried down through generations from our German/Jewish background? Isn’t it amazing that my light blonde hair, freckles and light skin come from some Scandanavian Saxon thousands of years ago? Isn’t amazing that my daughter is the spitting image of her name-sake grandmother when she was the same age in the late 1940’s?
But my flaws are amazing too… The weight I cannot shake for the life of me. The varicose veins gifted to me from my mother and Nana. My lack of mathematical ability. These things are no less amazing because they are – percieved by me – to be negatives. They are amazing because, for some reason or another, when God knitted me in the womb, fearfully and wonderfully; when He arranged the history of my peoples in my blood and thought of what would most glorify Him, He chose these things.
Who am I – and who is society – to tell Him He was wrong?
I find the less I watch the things of this world – Facebook, gossip sites, movies etc – the less dissatisfied I am with myself. When my eyes turn away from the world {which tells me to simultaneously believe in myself as I am whilst promoting their form of beauty as the right form} and more on Him, the more I realise that true beauty is so much more beautiful, so different, so varied, so unconventional, so less outward-related that I am amazed.
And I see that health is beautiful. Not a no-sugar, only meat, no carbs sort of health. The health I mean is one where what you do with your body – whether eating or exercising – is to the glory of God. And eating chocolate can glorify God, people, because chocolate is GOOD! And so is moving the body in exercise so you’re using the muscles in the way they’re supposed to be used – by working. Working our bodies the way they are supposed to be worked is part of the beauty God has made.
We’re under grace so I’m not talking about laws and rules of what is or isn’t beauty. We can be fashionable and wear make-up and dye our hair. But our hearts have to have God-glorifying motivations. Am I wearing make-up to hide what I think is an ugly face? Am I wearing this dress to show off my curves? Am I covering up not because it’s modest but because I don’t want anyone to look at me?
I could go on and on. But I’ll stop. All I wanted to get out there is that Christian women have got to take back beauty, not for themselves, but for God. We’ve got to be radically different in how he portray beauty to the world around us because we are a holy and set a part people. And we have to radically change what we are doing as mothers so that, as we raise our sons and daughters, the next generation are growing up rooted in God-glorifying, truth-exalting, grace-bestowing beauty.
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Life Lately #2

I’m sincerely sorry the blog has been quiet of late. I’m not taking a break or anything, I just haven’t had any words weighing on my heart to share. My rule of thumb on this blog is to only write when I have something good to say – that is, that would encourage, or edify, or challenge a woman in her faith. If I don’t have anything weighing on me, I don’t write. This prevents blog fluff and just adding to the general noise of the internet. I want my blog to be a sincere, welcoming place with writing that is meaningful and thoughtful. I never want to write because I haven’t got a post up or that I “need” to do something to be a good blogger. 
So, instead of spending time on my blog when I have a moment, what have I been doing instead?

::1::

Crafting

As I have written about before, I have a bullet journal. Recently, I finished my last one and have needed to set up a new one. So in the evenings while Tim and I have been watching TV {Friday Night Lights/The Walking Dead/Homeland}, I have been getting my new journal set up. I love fresh new pages to doodle on!
I have also re-taken up crochet. I was always a quilter, but since having kids, I have struggled to get back into it as it takes quite a lot of brain power and energy. Basic crochet is so good because it isn’t like that at all. Once I mastered several of the basic stitches, I’ve been able to do lots of things. But my favourite thing to make {just like in quilting} is blankets. I just love blankets.
::2::

Rest

Tim hurt his back several weeks ago at work and he was off work for two weeks. As disastrous as it seemed at the time, it has been a great mercy. Both of us were totally burned out and God just knew exactly what we needed. We have both had lots of rest and space and time of recuperation. We’ve restarted routines and have hopes for new habits. I am so thankful. I feel like a new wife and, especially, a new mother. Exhaustion just takes so much out of you and I found I had begun to doubt all that I had been certain God wants for us for a family. Turns out I was just tired and needed lots of rest. I have learnt a big lesson!
::3::

Interviewed on Identity & Motherhood

Last Sunday, I was interviewed at church. It was an honour to be asked, though in all honesty, my initial reaction was to say no. I avoid “up the front” things at all costs unless I feel comfortable {like in our bible study group}. I worried about the interview all last week and even lost sleep. I asked lots of people to pray. I wasn’t just nervous about being in front of two hundred or so people, I also wanted to say God-glorifying things. It is such a responsibility up the front as people’s hearts are open to be taught or encouraged.
But God answered my prayer and the feedback I have had has been very positive. The sermon that Sunday was on identity, so several people in the church were interviewed about the stages of life they were in and how that affected their identity. I represented the young mum. I’ve been surprised by who has come up to me with encouraging words {of having been encouraged}: men, older women, younger people. I’m grateful for the positive feedback, but I am more grateful to God because I know it was His words coming from my mouth.
::4::

Family Life

With Tim being home pretty crippled, life at home changed into holiday mode. We were all very thankful to have lots of Tim time. There was lots of playing, trips when able, house work and general day-to-day life. Our two little ones are quickly growing up and it’s hard to catch up. I am just so thankful that we intend to homeschool. It means I know I have years ahead of one-on-one time, If they were going to school at five, my heart would be tearing in two with the ridiculous speed Josiah is heading towards four, then five. 
I am so thankful for homeschooling and the opportunity to have extended time to invest, be present, and know these people God has given into our care. Oh, and we also joined a homeschooling co-op! It’s on a break for two weeks {it’s term break here in NZ}, but it’s just perfect and the kids love it. I love it too because there are mothers there ahead of me who get me and don’t look at me with questions in their eyes about why we’re planning to do what we do. {Not that lots of other mothers are like that, but there have been a few, and I hate feeling like I have to justify our thoughts!}
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Less World Wide Web

I’ve also made a conscious decision to be less on the internet. For the most part, it doesn’t do me a lot of good. Most is just gossip or fluff. I have a few blogs that I just love – that edify and speak to the passion I have in my heart about life – and I regularly read them. I have some instagram accounts I like. There is some Pinterest. And a little news. Other than that, I’m working to choose to read instead of browse. Using my time wisely for the days are evil, and all that {Ephesians 5:16}.
So that’s it! That’s been our life lately. 
How about you? What has been happening? What have you been thinking about? Doing differently? Praying for?
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Women in Need: Am I Bridging the Gap in the Church?

This week I am doing a book study with my bible study group of mother’s. Once a term I bring to them a chapter of a good book I have read, we read it, go through some questions and discuss the challenges and encouragement the author poses. The book I have chosen this term is By Design: God’s Distinctive Calling for Women by Susan Hunt, a book that encourages women to thrive as the helpers that God has made us to be.
The chapter I have picked for us to read through is a challenge to women to be helpers and advocates for women in, and out of, the Church. Susan Hunt describes how God has given women enormous ministry opportunities within the church. She points out how male leadership sometimes fail women {and most of the time, unintentionally} because of the differences between men and women. These differences are beautiful and necessary, but there can still be a divide. This is where women step in and bridge the gap for the other women in crisis. Part of our helper design isn’t just to be helpers to our husbands or our male ministers/pastors, but to other women, who need us to help others hear their story and be understood.
This book was very challenging, but especially this chapter {hence why I’m choosing it for our book study!}. Immediately, I am looking at myself and asking, “Am I a woman who can come alongside another woman? Am I growing as a helper/defender for other women? Am I bridging the gap for women in need to our male leadership who want to shepherd well, but sometimes don’t know how?” 

And, I feel like the most difficult question to ask myself is, am I a woman whom other women feel they can approach when in desperate need?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is the third part of my small series on having a vision for motherhood. You can read the first part here, and the second part here.

Fellow visionary mothers: no matter how amazing our God-given vision is for our children, and no matter how much we believe in it, we are going to fail to live up to it. Let us accept that, not beat ourselves with guilt over it, and move on to the only thing that can cover us and our motherhood and our mistakes with grace: God.

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

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

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

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

Visionary Motherhood:: Truths To Hold Onto For The Long Haul

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

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

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

How did I come to this vision?

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

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

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

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

The Importance of Having a Vision for Motherhood.


“Where there is no vision the people will perish.” Proverbs 29:18
This verse can often be taken out of context. The writer in Proverbs isn’t exhorting the Israelites to  have their day-planners out and create a business plan, or a ten-year vision for their lives, or a bucket list to tick off before they die. He is describing what happens when a person has no spiritual contact with their Creator God and the revelation that comes to their spirits when they anchor themselves with His Word. 
One commentary describes, “We may then a little amplify the proverb for the sake of exposition: ‘When there is no living revelation, no perceived contact between man and God, there the bonds which hold society together are relaxed and broken; but he that holds by the revelation that has been given, obeying the law, so far as it has been presented to him, happy is he.'”
Dear mother, are you in contact with your Father God? Have you received a living revelation from God for this great task He has given you to accomplish for Him? Simply,
Do you have a vision for motherhood?
God has been really good to me in that, through the pain of my parents separating and having a mother with a divided heart, God has redeemed those years of mourning into dancing. Within the broken heart of a teeanger, God gave me a vision for both marriage and motherhood. I committed to Him and myself that I would:

  • do both – no matter what happened – to my very best to His glory; 
  • that I would be whole-hearted, undivided in both; 
  • that I would offer my life for those He gave to me; 
  • that my husband would know I loved and respected him; 
  • that my children knew they were worth more to me than any personal ambition.

When I got married and then when I had children, I poured myself into His Word to equip myself with His wisdom and His heart for the family. I read books and books on what I learned was called “biblical womanhood”. I listened to sermons and asked questions and wrote and prayed and longed.
I didn’t want what the world offered: I had seen how it decieved my own family and how it never gives what it promises. I wanted God to create in our new family a new generation that would seek His ways above all else and would proclaim the Gospel in whatever place He put us in.
This is my vision for our family. But, oh, working towards it – and living it, in the day-to-day, is hard. Just incredibly hard.
Poo-explosions, squabbles, character training, washing clothes, making dinners, long work days, church commitments, study, tiredness, sleep deprivation, tight budgets, large properties to manage, unexpected bills, hormones, bad days – – –
You get it. Life is busy and complicated and mundane. Feelings go on merry-go-rounds and it’s super easy to hop on for a ride. When we’re up to our eyeballs in family living, it can be easy to lose sight of the end. We’re floating on our life-vest of Jesus, but those waves sometimes block our view. It would be easy to slip off and sink under. Switch on the lazy parenting button, or allow our hearts and minds to be distracted and divided.
It’s a battle. The daily chaos of what we see is really a veil to what we cannot see: the fight over the spiritual health of our family. Us evangelicals get a bit squirmy when talk leads into spiritual wars between Satan and his evil cronies. It sounds a bit, well, charismatic. But it’s the truth. As my minister said on Sunday {August 14th} we’re either under evil or we’re under grace.


When we don’t have a vision for this motherhood thing {and marriage}, and work towards it, our family’s will perish. And not only our family, but eventually, our world. And that is totally what see today, isn’t it? A world crumbling as families topple down, like dominoes.

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

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

What is your vision for motherhood?