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!}.

breadrecipe

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}.

bread2


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!

Contentment: The Reason Why We Never Have it & Why We Need a Reality Check

Ah, contentment. It is like the elusive spiritual goal we all struggle to obtain. We see it in the distance – a promise of peace, deep joy no matter the situation – and yet, we keep stumbling over every.single.thing that could cause us to be discontent. We know God wants us to be content, we know it is something Paul reached and exhorted us to find it – 
And, yet. We are just as discontent as ever. Could we be one of the mot discontent group of Christians ever? I’m not sure. But it is certainly an insidious heart-condition in the First World part of the Church.
What can we do? What does the Bible tell us about contentment? Can we ever get it? 
In some recent study of the Word in my quiet times, I have been struck by a simple truth I feel really compelled to share with you:
God requires us to be content, but it isn’t as hard as we think. Do you know why? Because God’s standard for acquiring contentment is low, and our standard is high.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into this world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” ~ 1 Timothy 6:6-8

There are so many things we can look into within this verse, but let us look at just two.
1. Contentment is a godly character we must pursue. 
Paul commands Timothy to be a godly, content man. Within his letter to Timothy, Paul has been instructing him how to establish and run a church, how his flock are to live, and how Timothy himself is to live as a godly leader and man. Contentment is a specific characteristic Timothy must pursue. God’s standards for leaders of the church are high, and having a peaceful, joyful and thankful disposition toward the life given to him was one of them. Godliness with contentment is great gain for all Christians.
2. God’s Standard of Worldly Contentment is Different to Ours.
Paul tells Timothy that all he needs to be content is to have something to eat and something to wear. That’s it. Have you noticed “have somewhere to live” isn’t on the list? Apparently, that isn’t as necessary as clothing and food. Paul says that, because we came into this world naked and empty-handed, and will leave this world pretty much the same, then whatever we have beyond the necessities for living, we are to be content with.
I’m not sure about you, but this is a strong reality check for me. 
When I measure up our life of material goods to others, I feel the great lack. We have less money, less opportunities, less holidays, less spare cash etc. When I compare our home to others, I really struggle not to jump onto the internet and find something better – something bigger, more “us”, more attractive etc. 
As a blogger, many of my readers are Americans. When I, as a New Zealander, measure my average home to an American’s average home – I get a sinking feeling. When I read blog posts about an American family moving to a bigger home for more space, I look at the previous home and I think, “That house is twice the size of ours.” One of my blogging friends Rebekah lives in a smaller house with twice the many kids as us, and she has journalled her journey to contentment so well. {Read this post as well.}
I’m not bagging Americans or anything like that, I’m just showing how comparison kills – no matter where we are. Comparison kills our joy and it kills our delight in God’s sovereignty in our lives. Any comparison of earthly things that isn’t compared to God’s little list ought humble our hearts with gratitude and joy for God’s great mercy and generosity towards us.
Friends, most – if not all – of my readers will have just so much more than clothing and food. You’ll have cupboards and freezers and fridges full of food. You will have closests of clothing {perhaps even walk in closests}. And you will have a home, cars, toys, gadgets etc. We are so rich. Do you see that? And do you see how misleading the eyes of the heart can be?
If you struggle with contentment with earthly things, feed the eyes of your heart on this verse. Be content with food and clothing alone. Everything else is just decoration. 

A Little Post of Praise {A Mother’s Love For Her God}.

I feel just an enormous sense of relief today. Our son finished kindergarten and I am just thrilled to have him home. Not that he was there huge amounts of time – only three hours, three times a week. But now, he’s fully home. 
My little boy is where he belongs for now and it is just right. 
My heart sings for joy to the Lord because He really has been good to us. Sometimes when you’re faced with a decision that just doesn’t have a clear right or wrong answer, you just don’t know what to do. You feel blind and you’re afraid to even make a choice.
But that is when faith steps in. Faith in a God who knows, who cares, who foresees, who listens, and who guides when asked. He very rarely {in my experience!} blasts a neon sign in your face to show the way – instead, He is gentle, He nudges. His Word really is a lamp to our feet, a light to our path.

When praying for our son and what to do, I prayed,

“Make me [us] know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of salvation; for you I wait all day long.” Psalm 25:4-5
Like I said, God doesn’t usually make the answer obvious; but He has obviously given us His Word for guidance. In fact, He says it is all we need for LIFE and GODLINESS {2 Peter 1:3}. 
One quiet time, as I searched through the Proverbs – just a fabulous book for so many reasons, and not just for parenting – my eyes fell upon these simple words:
“He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” Proverbs 13:20
Something about this verse just dug itself into me. Here we were, worried about our little boy and the changes we could see in him and his behaviour from his time spent at kindergarten. He was suffering harm. And it wasn’t because this kindergarten was horrible – it is amazing – or that the teachers were neglectful or that the children were terrible. Just none of the above.

They just aren’t like us. 
Secular environments obtain their wisdom from men. This is good – God has given us brains and minds to delve into many aspects that make us human. But it is still that – human. And anything that is purely human is simply sinful and flawed.
But a flawed human relying on a perfect God and His perfect wisdom? Power.
I’ve said before that one day, when they are ready, our children will be in the world. Fully and immersed. But, only when they are equipped, armed for battle, able to handle themselves. When they are able then, they will know the truth of how to walk with the wise and not with fools.
Until then, my little ones remain by my side. As crazy as it may sound to some, they belong here.
Don’t fear for their “socialisation”. I am certainly not worried with what I have lined up for them! And don’t worry about them being “overprotected” because they will be sheltered from the unnecessary and gently guided to what is necessary.
If there is any point to this post, it is this: God really has the parent’s back. If you ask Him, He really will help you. Don’t expect big signs. Expect quiet peace. Expect to be asked to be courageous. Expect to be guided where others may not go. But expect what is good and what brings life. Expect His ways. And be thankful.

The Foundation Years: Letting My Kids Just Be.

I wrote awhile back how we are considering homeschooling our two children. This is still very much on the cards, and my husband is about 70% convinced it’s a good schooling option {compared to the 5% when I first brought it up!}. 
Just with every major life decision, I have spent much time in reading and praying over the reasons/positives/negatives about it all. And I can honestly say that, as I have done so, the Lord has really surprised me. 
My original reason why I wanted to educate our children at home {ie. there are no good schools in our area and I think God might want us to} is now a periphery reason. Even my conviction that it provides a really solid education is not where God has surprised me. My happy surprise has been this:
Home is where my children should be for as long as possible. 
In all my reading, the conclusion I have come to is this: research shows that the influence of parents and family during a child’s foundational years is fundamental to their health and well-being. Not only that, but, educationally, children learn best when they can take their time and grow/learn at their own pace. Self-directed and guided learning in childhood sparks a life long joy and delight in learning. 
I have never been a person who takes the status quo without thinking it through. That has always made me a bit different. My parents taught me from an early age to try and see past the surface to the why’s and how’s of situations and ideologies. My history degree taught me an array of new ideas and concepts, but most enduringly, the simple fact that our culture today is the odd one out.
And it frustrates me when others do not see this. They take the status quo and accept that either,

  • this is the way it has always been, or,
  • our society is more advanced now so this way must be better/more evolved/more fulfilling {and so it goes}. 

Sometimes I feel my insides spiking a fever of “Use your brains! Think outside of now! The way things are doesn’t mean it’s better!”

And for Christians who, genuinely without realising I believe, I want to say,
“Just because our culture sends kids off to school at five-years-old doesn’t mean that it is right.”

Chocolate.

Childhood in western society today is a pendulum of experiences unlike any other in the past. They have health, they have freedom from work/pain/suffering/fear, they have education, they have gadgets, they have individuality. Children today have gained so much and yet, have lost so much as well. And the most significant loss I believe they suffer through is the loss of their family as the primary source of worth, friendship, learning and wisdom.
Time goes so quickly. My son is just over three – wasn’t he born not long ago? And my daughter, she is two in July. We no longer have babies in the house – but I have only been a mother three years. Time is just sucked up into the vacuum of fading memories. In less time that he has been alive, according to the status quo, I ought to be sending him to a place where he spends the majority of his days for the next thirteen years. 
Five years. That is all I’m “supposed” to get. 
Historically, educationally, relationally, theologically that just doesn’t make sense. It really doesn’t.
Now, I’m not ganging up on school. I wasn’t homeschooled – I’ve been to big schools, country schools, public schools and christian schools. I see great benefit in being in such an environment. But, I firmly believe now, only when children are ready
Schools in my area of New Zealand are changing dramatically. Modern Learning Environments are the new “thing” for education {even though they tried it in the sixties and it didn’t work, but hey, we have technology now and we are more advanced so that time/failure doesn’t count} and at the school my children are zoned for, they would be new entrants in a single building {with no walls} holding three hundred children. Three hundred. At five years old.
Why that makes sense when research {over and over again} shows children learn better the smaller the class room. Who knows what politicians are thinking?
Sensory bin.
Anyway, that is just not an option. And not just because it’s nuts. Primarily that is not an option because our children are our children. Our community and society can have them one day, but not yet. They are just not ready. They need time to mature, know their place in the world, grow in beliefs that are rejected in most institutions. 
So until they areready {ten? eleven?}, I’m letting them be with us. Yes, we’ll do “proper” learning, but even then, it will look different. We’re going to read ridiculous amounts of books. We’re going on lots of walks. We’re going to kill lots of dragons with homemade bow and arrows. We’re going to listen to a lot of Batman by Danny Elfman {at least three times a day, currently}. 
These foundation years, we never get them back. So I am grabbing hold of them and living them to the fullest. Childhood that is family {and not schooling and peers and fads} is back in. There is no status quo around here.

How to Recognise True Manhood.

“An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.” ~ Proverbs 31:10

I know this is written by a mother to her son, but I believe we can ask the same about manhood: An excellent man who can find? What makes an excellent man? What is true manhood? I think it is nothing like what our world manipulates men to be today. I think a true man is as precious as gold in our day and age. 

This week a New Zealand Olympian publically admitted to having a pornography addiction. He wasn’t forced to “out” himself {that is known of}; he willingly shared this difficult and very personal struggle by his own free will. He is a Christian, with a beautiful wife and young son.
He is a brave man. 
Is he a perfect man? No. But is he more manly than the men who make, promote and sell the filth that Willis got sucked into? Yes. Undoubtedly, it isn’t good that he has struggled with this sin. But I believe, without knowing him, that his actions of sharing his sins signal a strength of manhood in the very place of weakness.
Because, that is what makes a man. His actions.


I feel as women we think true manhood is perfection.  A man who has a good job, a good income, comes home and cheerfully cares for everyone, who tenderly knows all his wife’s needs’, and leads his family without fail. A man who never sins. A man who never struggles with anger, or lust, or addictions, or laziness.
Sure, that sounds like a great man. But he doesn’t exist. And neither does the perfect woman. {Try turning the tables and imagine how it feels for a man to measure you up to the “perfect” woman he has created.}

For years now, I have shamefully created in my mind what I believed was true manhood. I measured my husband up to that, and have spent much energy {with internal judging, criticism, grumbling} trying to “help” him become “the man” I believed God wanted him to be. It was my job to be his Holy Spirit – that is part of my job as his helper, isn’t it?
I have been so wrong.
Here I have been, trying to manipulate and shape an already amazingly imperfectly true man, into someone he can never be – who he shouldn’t have to be. I have put incredibly high expectations on him. I haven’t loved him for him. I have sought what I thought he ought to be when the man he already is is the man who really is enduringly manly.
Kimberly Wagner, through God’s timely grace and rebuke, has pointed arrows at my carefully constructed facade of “Husband Holy Spirit Helper” in her book Fierce Women: The Power of a Soft Warrior. I picked up this book thinking it would help me in one way only to have been absolutely blindsided and floored before God in humble and repentant need.


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There have been many ways this book has challenged me and forced me to face ugly parts of myself. But I do believe the biggest way has been to show me how to really love my husband again – like I did at the start, when I loved him for him. Yes, this was before life happened and hurt happened and the up’s and down’s of married life happened. Along the way I have grown in my understanding and appreciation of God’s design for men and women in marriage,but I have lost what it means to flesh out the gospel in marriage: to accept, to step down, to come alongside, to be kind-hearted when faced with faults and sin and hurt, to believe in the best.
And I have lost sight of what God thinks a true man is. 
For those who are lost too, who are searching for a way back to loving their husbands well again, purchase this book and be amazed. But before you do, read this passage and have a fresh vision of who your husband is and what a true man he really is:

“True manhood shows up in daily choices that require character qualities like courage, integrity, perseverance, and self-sacrifice. It’s being a man of honor – taking personal responsibility, fulfilling duties, demonstrating valor, and showing willingness to sacrifice and lead for the greater good.
  It is rock-solid strength that forges ahead with the determination to make it through the storm. True manhood stands guard over loved ones with protective eyes. It manifests the tenderness of a benevolent heart that seeks to provide for those in need. But, most importantly, knowing his strength is not derived from himself, a true man walks in humble dependence on the One whose image he bears. He lives out the gospel by fleshing out the character of his Warrior-Savior.”
 

Fierce Women, pg.179

Can you see your husband in this description? In many of these traits, some, or just a few? It doesn’t matter if you can only see one quality in your man. The fact that he is trying makes him a man.

What we, as their wives, have to control in ourselves is the expectation that he be these Christ-like qualities now, all at once, perfectly. Just as we will take many years to mature into feminine Christ-like characteristics, so we should not expect – nor demand – these things of our husbands.

Accept our men now, as they are, extending grace and compassion. As they see that they are safe with us, that we aren’t like dripping taps {Proverbs 27:15}, then they will – God-willing – desire more and more true manhood. Like Kimberly Wagner said, real men need real women.

“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you.” ~ Ephesians 4:32

Thoughts: What is one way you can affirm your husband’s masculinity today? Can you think of one quality from the description above that you can thank the Lord {and your husband} for?

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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?

How I Meal Plan.

I’ve never really blogged about stuff I do around the home. I mean, there are just so many more capable and talented women out there already doing a great job at helping us homemakers, I certainly don’t have much to add! And my talent? Well, my husband loves my cooking, but he’s biased, right? *Smile*
Still, I have been a homemaker eight years now. I wouldn’t call myself a newbie! So I thought I would share how I menu plan in our home – and if it encourages, inspires, helps one other struggling homemaker, bonus! 
And just so you know, when Tim and I were first married, he was by far the better cook. I couldn’t cook and he could only cook three meals… That first year had some hilarious moments of trial and error {like the time it took six hours to bake lasagne!}
After a few years, I felt very confident in the kitchen. I don’t cook gourmet. I cook happy, family, comfort food. And it is wonderful. So, if you’re looking for how to perfectly cook a salmon or how to bake creme brulee – I would search somewhere else 😉

PS: This isn’t one of my meals. I wish I could make such fancy looking food!
Frequency: Weekly
Over the years I have tried planning meals at different frequencies, but weekly works best for us {considering we shop weekly!}. I also find that I am more likely to stick to a short-term plan than a long-term one. 
Repeat meals: 2-3
In recent months, I have found that it works really well for our family if we have the same meal on the same night every week. There are two meals I know my kids will eat a tonne of: sushi and fish’n’chips. So every Wednesday we have sushi {homemade} and every Tuesday we have fish’n’chips {frozen} with homemade tartare sauce {oh my, amazing!} Every Friday the kids have something simple, and I cook Maharaja Pies for Tim and I. It’s a date, every week.

New meals: 1-2 monthly

I read somewhere years ago that most people have 9-12 meals they regularly make and rarely break away from this mold. I find this is true for me, but every now and then I like to try something new. I usually do this on the weekend.

Quantity: For the most part, I double the batch so Tim can take some for lunch {he’s a builder and gets mighty hungry}.

Sources: Sophie Grey and Chelsea Winter {both popular New Zealand chefs}, recipes picked up along the way {eg. this Creamy Cajun Chicken from Pinterest}

Menu Display: DIY Chalkboard

Tim made this for me for Christmas. He is just the loveliest, most thoughtful of guys.

Method of Planning: With four set meals a week, I only need to think of three. These remaining meals tend to be easy pasta or rice dishes, like Jambalaya or Pasta Bake or Sweet ‘n’ Sour Chicken. Just super easy, using fresh vegetables etc. The night before I shop, I list all the things we’ve run out of, then I list the ingredients needed for meals. At the supermarket, I throw other things in that are specials or I remember we need. I go to the cheapest supermarket in town and I generally spend under our budget from $20-$50.
*
So there you have it! Nothing fancy, simple family meals. We have things we love, and things that are good for us. I think the habit that has revolutionised the way we budget food and meal plan is having set meals each week. This has made things so much easier and, surprisingly, we don’t get bored. Perhaps we all love routine, but my family love knowing what’s coming on a particular day. And having a night like Wednesday Sushi Night will hopefully be a family tradition the kids remember their whole lives.

Your turn. Do you meal plan differently? Do we share a similar process? 

Ode To Naptime.

We used to be friends, you and I;
We have many a happy memory.
You brought peace and stability;
Routine to my frazzled nerves.
The house became still
As little breaths rose and fell,
And I breathed a sigh of relief.

Sometimes we had time aplenty,
At other moments, just a few;
You and my son were like clockwork;
But my daughter liked to retreat from you
At all costs, frustrating us both.
But when it worked so magnificently,
I had a moment  or two to rest my own eyes;
Or read, or browse mindlessly
On this app or that.
You gave me strength,
Helped me climb parenting mountains;
And now, as suddenly as you came into
My life, you have bid a fond farewell.
Though I couldn’t synchronise you
With my two little cherubs;
You still gave me that moment,
To gather, to collect,
To regain enough to be spent so well.
To the three years we were friends,
Thank you.

Bullet Journaling: Why I’m Never Going Back to Traditional Planners Again.

bulletjournal
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.

Making Home the Anchor of Your Family in 2016.

Can you believe it is the end of another year?
As I write, it is the evening of the 30th; tomorrow we prepare for the end of another year. As ridiculous as it is, that dramatic saying in Days of Our Lives is true: “Like sand through the hourglass/So are the days of our lives”. {And yes, I still remember that intro when I use to glimpse on TV as a kid. Memories, huh?}
I remember writing about how precious time was in 2014The verse that convicted my spirit then still repeats itself in my mind, reminding me to keep track, to be deliberate, to not let the passing of endless days with little ones be for nothing. Teach me, I asked God, show me how to number my days. Give me a heart of wisdom.
Teach us to number our days;
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” ~ Psalm 90:12
We never know if we are wise or not, and it is good that we don’t. But we can know when we’re learning and growing in direct reply to an area of our lives in earnest prayers to God. And I know, as another year has passed, that time is precious. It is a gift given to us by our Father for us to glorify him and enjoy him with on these earthly days.
As a year ends and another begins, we can look back with the pangs of regret or sorrow for mistakes made and failures continued in. But we, under the protection of Jesus, can leave every single thing we’ve done wrong this past year, behind. Just gone. We don’t have to carry it forward, pack it down into the baggage already full to the brim. We are released.
And our resolutions and hopes and goals and aims for the new year are also under the protection of Jesus. He can mold our forward hopes and direct our steps. If they are wayward from his will for us, when we entrust them to him, he leads us in the right steps {Proverbs 19:21}. And if we know we’re on the right path, but we’re stumbling along, He helps us keep going. We can keep pressing on wards.
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That’s where I’m at: I know where I ought to be going, but it isn’t easy, and I keep falling behind.
Since God redeemed my life and enabled me to have a fresh start, I have known the goal he has pressed upon my heart: building a living legacy of faith and hope in the life of my marriage and children. My goal in life is to rebuild what was lost, what wasn’t was, what could have been in my family life. If anyone asks, I could even say that this is my career.
But just because we have a goal, an inner conviction of our vocation, doesn’t mean that there is no struggle. It doesn’t mean that there is no fight to keep on track. We get discouraged, we struggle in sin, we are hit by stresses in life, we get weary of all the things calling for our attention.
So, why don’t we try to anchor ourselves in the next coming year?
An anchor keeps a ship in one place when the currents of the sea want to take it this way at that. For all families, home is our anchor. It doesn’t matter what kind of home you have – all that matters is that it is the formation center of your family life.
God’s Word tells us how important the woman of the family is. Of course, we are all important – husbands, dads, children, siblings. But, if you take an active study of Scripture, God just has an amazing design for the women of their homes.
We make or break the mood of the home. We can wear down our husbands or lift them up {Proverbs 12:4}. We can be a beautiful blessing with our words or a curse {Proverbs 11:22}. We can build our homes or we can tear them down {Proverbs 14:1}. We can be productive or we can be lazy {Proverbs 14:23}. We can focus our hearts and hands in our home or we can fritter ourselves away like busy-bodies with nothing to do {Proverbs 7:11}. We can help our families love the home they live in and want to be there more than anything.
If we want change, it starts with us. It starts with our union with God. It starts with how healthy our conversations are with him, how regular our acknowledgement of sin and our repenting are, how deep we understand God’s will for us which is primarily found in the Bible.
If we want an amazing marriage, it starts with us. If we want to love motherhood and have a thriving relationship with our children, it starts with us. If we want a well-functioning and cosy home, it starts with us.
It all starts with us, reliant on God’s strength and grace, the power to do it through his Spirit.
Sometimes I wonder if I can do it… if I can be all that my family needs me to be. And then, I turn to the Proverbs 31 woman and I know that, though I cannot do it perfectly, through the Cross I have the ability to do this – simply because, I am a woman and it is who God has made me to be.
I am strong. I am able.
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So let us walk into 2016 with the purpose of working hard at making home our anchor, and the anchor of our families. We know we’ll muck up. We know we’ll get behind. But we know that God’s Word helps us keep pressing forward, that we can pick ourselves up and dust off the dirt.
PS: Tune in soon as I share with you my own specific goals for my work in the home, including something that might be of help to you too.