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.
Categories UncategorizedTags

What Happened When We Brought Our Son Home From Preschool.

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

It’s helped me know my son more {he’s an INTROVERT, people!}.
It’s helped me know my convictions more.
It’s helped me trust God’s guidance more.
It’s helped me be more confident as a mother
It’s helped me be more confident in my husband’ judgement {why don’t I learn this quicker??}.
And it’s helped me see that homeschooling is probably going to be the best thing for our family.

God always knows what He’s doing and, when we make mistakes, if we bring them back to Him, He redeems them and glorfies Himself. I love it because mistakes then, are not ever mistakes at all. Just experiences that push us more into God’s will, and nothing can go wrong with Him.
Today, as I was contemplating it all and looking at planning some activities at home, I spent some time in my number one favourite book on motherhood: The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson {affiliate}. Whenever I’m feeling in need of some motherly advice for a mother, I turn to her. These words just lifted me up today:

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

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

This is me. Just me. From my heart for motherhood to our own experience. If you have a little one in preschool or school, and you just have something in your spirit telling you pulling them out might be a good idea – don’t ignore it. Seek the Lord, talk with your husband, pray and read His Word. There is great wisdom in keeping children home for as long as possible to prepare them to be with the “authorities and peers whose lives are totally different”. 

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

What is the Point of Being a Hobby Blogger?

I have been blogging on and off for five years. I’ve never been hugely consistent, which is partly a weakness in my character as well as a desire to keep my blog a blog. It still is very much a hobby of mine. But, sometimes, what a pitiful hobby it feels to be when I see what blogging is now.
When I started, most people were on Blogger with backgrounds found from friendly sites that designed *free* designs for anyone to use. People connected through link-ups and began to follow through Blogger or by email. There were no extra sites that I had to manage like Facebook {which I don’t have now, anyway}. Blogs looked like the people who wrote them: casual, friendly, welcoming, homely. It was like meeting a friend in a busy cafe for a cup of tea, or sitting with legs tucked under on a comfortable couch in their living room.
But now – well, we all know what it is like now. Everything is stream-lined and competitive and busy. Just busy. People like me, who hobby write, just cannot compete. We’re like the joggers you see running in the park with a haphazard jumpsuit we put together, puffing along and struggling but doing it – while packs of brand-clothed, smooth runners go on by at twice the speed. Don’t get me wrong – those runners have spent years working hard to get where they are. They are where they are because of all they have done to get there. But, it’s still like they are in a different league. Most good runners are never going to the Olympics.
And blogging today, and keeping up, feels like competing in the Blogolympics. 

And we have to ask ourselves – are we happy being Average Joe? Are we happy to be a good runner, just not a professional one?
Are we happy to have only a few followers, no income, no professionally designed blog, with a few quiet social media outlets, and only being able to post once or twice a week {or when inspiration hits, like me}?
When I put it like that, I think, ‘Yes, I can be happy with that. What’s so bad about that?’ But the moment I see a blog that is what I secretly would like to be like, well, stirrings of discontent make me feel like my little blogging home is a little bit of a hovel.
And then I ask myself, ‘Why cannot I not just be content with what I have?’ I have a gift of writing. I have thoughts I love to articulate, in fact, I have to articulate. I have some really lovely people that genuinely want to read my noise. My blog looks nice and has almost cost us nothing.
It’s so hard denying the desire to compete. The inner pressure I feel to do MORE with this blog when I see other blogs out there that are more and have more and are doing more. I’m not bagging them – I admire them. But I know I’m not called to be a “big blogger”. I sense in my spirit that I am to remain small, be thankful and to keep writing.
It’s in our nature to see something amazing and big and professional and want to give up. I’ll never compete, so what’s the point? And it’s an honest question to ask: what is the point of blogging when it’s not going to “hit it big”?

Well, let’s list them:

to glorify God in all we do.
to be faithful with the small.
to be content and thankful for the gifts given us.
to keep going even if it seems pointless.
to pursue genuine friendships.
to have thoughtful, encouraging conversations.
to grow and be convicted.
to enjoy life.
And there actually are probably many more answers.

So, if you’re like me, and sometimes you wonder what really is the point of being a small-time blogger, just remember: the benefits of being small are numerous, and I believe, there are more opportunities to develop depth and honesty with your readers because you have the time to do that. Also, being a hobby blogger gives me the best of both worlds: I can blog without taking away from the life I want to write about.

Are you a small-time blogger like me? Share in the comments.

Reading Scripture with the Right Spirit {and Free Printable}.

When I sit down for some time reading the Bible, it can be so simple. The words are there, the Spirit is within me, my mind is capable – I read, I absorb, I believe. Sometimes, of course, there are passages that I’m not sure about. But there are very reliable sources I can turn to for help as well as my lovely, learned husband. As a someone commented on another post of mine the other day,

“God doesn’t want His will for us to be a mystery.”

And that is so true. That is why we have this blessed book called the Bible! It is His breathed out will, written by men, inspired by His Spirit. Surely that means God’s Truth can be known? Surely the pages we hold can be understood – and not only by those who are learned, or studied in theology – but for regular believers, like myself?
So why then, my heart ponders in confusion, is there so much debate out there? Why can so many of us just not agree? How can particular passages divide strong believers, Christ-like followers? Why are there so many “interpretations”? If this is confusing for me as a Christian, I can imagine what it is like for those watching in from the outside. No wonder the Church has so little integrity in the world today.

Call me naive, but I do believe the Bible is to be taken – in general – as it is read. And when I say, in general, I mean that we in our post-Christ age read the Word with Gospel eyes.  Of course there are elements of Israelite law that just do not apply to us anymore because all of the Law’s promises have been fulfilled and have their their “Yes” in Jesus {2 Corinthians 1:20}. And cultural context does come into play when we look at the New Testament {as in, life is just different now}. 
But surely God knew this when He put the Bible together? Did the Middle Ages with serfdom and plagues and monarchies take Him by surprise? Or the Reformation or the Enlightenment or the Industrial Age or our Post-Postmodern world with it’s terrorism and gender-nuetrality and sexually obsessed culture? 
When Paul sat down and wrote this letters, did God not know ahead of time the issues, the cultural differences, the wars, the history, the people that were to come?
Of course He did. Paul didn’t know what was to come. He just wrote what the Spirit guided Him to, having lived and learned with Jesus, alone, for three years {Galations 1}. What Paul wrote he learned directly from Jesus, something none of us can ever say. So why do many people just not accept or believe or want to obey some Scriptures?

Again, call me naive, but this is my simplified observation: the way that we believe and live out Scripture stems from the way our hearts approach God’s Word. Now I don’t want to say how others approach Scripture, I just want to write about how I want to approach Scripture: with the right spirit.
A quotation that inspired my heart to write this post was written by a Christian man from long ago. His name was Thomas A Kempis and he loved the Lord during the 1400’s. In his devotional, The Imitation of Christ, Kempis wrote:

“Every holy writing ought to be read with the same spirit wherewith it was made.”

The same spirit wherewith {in which} it was made.

What kind of spirit did Moses have? Or David? Or Isaiah? Or Paul? Or Peter? Did they have a spirit of arrogance or conceit? Did they want to write what they wanted to? Did they write with a spirit of falsehood or with a chip on their shoulders?
Yes, every single man that God used to write His Word was that, a man. But that doesn’t mean we cannot trust the Bible. We can trust it because each of these men were filled with the Spirit of God and it was His Spirit that caused the words of their hearts and minds to flow out. This is why we can believe that the Bible is inerrant {not wrong} and all we need {2 Timothy 3:16}.
So if we know that the spirit the writers of the Bible was God’s own Spirit, then we know that their intentions were: honourable, righteous, meek, loving, God-seeking, Christ-glorifying, selfless, and in fear of the Lord.
Because we are fallen creatures, we will never read the Bible exactly as God intended it to be read. This is the biggest reason why none of us can agree. But, we are responsible for how our heart’s are when we come to God’s Word. James tells is that we are to receive the Word “humbly” {James 1:21}.

Is my heart humble?

Is my heart meek?

Is my heart truly wanting to please God and obey what He wants?

Is my heart clouded by own desires or preconceptions?

Is my heart darkened by worldly lies?

Is my heart seeking God’s truth even if it costs me?

Finally, is my heart reading the Holy Scriptures with the same spirit that the original writers had when they wrote the very words of God?
When I think on this thought, when I think of what God was thinking when He wrote the Bible, I want to want Him. I want to want His ways, even if it chafes with something in me. I want to remember that if someone has to be wrong between God and I, it’s me! 

Perhaps, just perhaps, there would be less confusion, less strife, less broken churches and broken people if we had a right, humble spirit in respect to the Bible.

 — Free Printable —
Will fit 8’x10″ frame

Birthing Babies: Grace In A Fallen World

“Children are a heritage from the LORD.” Psalm 127:3

I am a mother by the grace of God. As part of His plan for my life, and my husband’s, He has given us two children. And as I have said in my page about me, it looks like our two little ones are it {at least, biologically}.
My youngest turns two in a few weeks and I was thinking yesterday that it’s been so long since I have been pregnant. It still feels as strong a relief as it did the moment she came out. But, I long for another one. I would like to have another baby.
Yet, I shouldn’t have another baby.
As Christians, we love rules. We love adhering to a standard and making our stand on it: “Yes. This is God’s way. We all must be this way.” No, I am not saying there is no absolute truth, of course there is. Morally. But on many life issues, the Bible offers principles. And on child-rearing? Children are a blessing, plain and simple. That is why those who love the Lord ought to pro-life. God loves children and His hand is on the origins of every human being. They are not tissue or just a fetus.
But, I digress.
Children are a blessing. It is good to have children. It is part of our mandate as we rule over creation {Genesis 1:28} and it is a beautiful part of married life, and being one flesh {Genesis 2:13-25. And yet – it is not always as simple as we would like it to be.
Before Josiah, we had two miscarriages. I wondered if I could ever carry. Then, blessedly, Josiah was born. My body did okay with pregnancy, though I developed one blood clot in the later stages, and birth left some stitches. Then, I had a really rough bout of anxiety/postpartum depression that was really, really hard on this first time mother. But, once I got some help and pushed on through, life looked brighter.
Rosalie was born sixteen months after Josiah. Her pregnancy was hard. My blood turned to sludge and I developed nine blood clots during my third trimester, with strong prelabour from thirty-two weeks which involved two hospital admissions. I was on daily blood thinners and her birth worsened what was damaged from my first. When she came out, I cried, “It’s over!” And I wasn’t meaning birth. 
Pregnancy for me has the real possibility of being dangerous. It would be a significant risk for me to get pregnant again. I find that really hard, and I have wrestled over the chasm between my will for another child and the reality of what it means to have another child.
Birthing babies has taught me more and more that everything on this earth is tainted and destroyed by sin. Nothing is like it was before the Fall. It reminded me that we have it easy today with hospitals and medicine and life-saving operations. A close friend, if she had been around one hundred years ago, would have died with her first baby. She literally has no room to push a baby out so she must have c-sections. 
We are blessed and we are cursed.
Some Christians forget this dichotomy. I know why they do for, a part from loving rules we also love God’s ways and it is God’s way to have children {as opposed to our children are a burden/are despensible culture}. The only trouble is when well-meaning Christians make mandates about how many babies we ought to be having they forget that we are made for perfect, but perfect isn’t here yet. It is coming. But until then, we’re just waiting in a world that is groaning like in the pains of childbirth {Romans 8:18-23}.
Some women can have many children and, though it is hard, can do it by God’s grace. Some women can’t, or have a few, and do it by God’s grace. God, above and overall, is in control and all births and deaths are in His hands {Psalm 139}. And really, we ought to mind our own business and live a quiet life {1 Thessalonians 4:10-12}.
If I were to discover tomorrow that I were pregnant, I would be over the moon. Children are a blessing. I haven’t always felt that way, but I have always thought that way. My struggle would be entrusting my body to the Lord, knowing the great risks, but accepting His hand on my life. Life or death, I am His. But, we are not looking to get pregnant, in grace.
So if babies or pregnancies are a difficult issue for you; if you are frightened to have another one; if you want to but can’t; if birthing babies breaks your already broken body more – – drink in grace. God doesn’t condemn you for a broken body. He broke His own so that one day you will be perfect. But right now, we’re having to do this all in bodies, in minds, in places, in a world that is decaying.

As Charles Spurgeon said,

“It is grace, and nothing but grace, from first to last.”

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.

When Something Good Is Not The Best.

As Christian parents, Tim and I are continually having our minds graciously and lovingly renewed by God to His way of thinking. I’m not saying we have the number one, most biblical way of parenting thinking {insert *snort* here}…

…Rather, as we submit ourselves to our loving Father as our own children’s parents, we find Him offering new ways of thinking about our family, our children’s upbringing, and His way for us of “training our children in the way they should go” {Proverbs 22:6}.
The more we keep going on this parenting path, the more I know each family’s submission to God’s guidance will be different. And that is good! God loves variety! It is my responsibility to work in our family quietly, minding our own business and keeping our hearts from comparison.
“Jesus said, ‘If I want him to remain until I return, what is that to you? You follow me.'” John 21:22 {emphasis my own}
With that preamble set, let me share with you a big decision we have made recently for our family which has been challenging; offering an opportunity to follow God’s direction in faith as it follows a different path that most families make in this day and age.
Last year, we enrolled Josiah into kindy. In NZ, kindergarten is a free-play environment that usually takes children from 3 until they go to school at 5 {though requirement of schooling age is 6}. The kindy we chose is truly amazing with incredibly supportive, skilled teachers and a wonderfully large outdoor area. This was a big for me as Josiah is an outdoor boy.

Aside from a few bumps, Josiah has thrived at kindy. He has grown out of his shell around people who aren’t his immediate family and he has learned to play alongside others really well. Yet, we noticed after the start of this year that, though he was doing really well while he was at kindy, that his behaviour at home had really changed.

We went through all the normal reasons that can cause struggling behaviour and felt that none of those really seemed to apply to him. We talked to his teachers and we talked to each other and we prayed a lot. Last week we decided that we were going to pull Josiah out of kindy.

It was such a hard decision and even now, with only a few lessons left for him, I still feel emotionally torn about it {though, when I calm my feelings and think deeply about the guidance we believe God has been giving us, my gut tells me it is the right choice}.

It’s been a lesson of learning that sometimes even really good things aren’t necessary the best things for us {at the time, in a season, or, forever}.

Kindy, in and of itself, is a great place for little children. It is nurturing, with smaller numbers and a million opportunities for growth and play, play, play. Playing is the key for a child learning is their philosophy {and I totally agree}. It has done Josiah a world of good. It has been good.

But, we have come to the conclusion that – right now – it is not the best for him. The best, that we can see, is for him to be with his family more. With times that he has had off of kindy this year {holidays etc.}, his behaviour/demeanour/attitude has been undeniably better, more stable and more loving. For some reason – and we really have no idea why – something that is good {kindy} just isn’t bringing out the best in him {at home}.

To some, this may be no big deal. But for us, home behaviour is everything. The saying that goes, “You really are who you are at home” is so deeply true. We can put on our “best” behaviour in public and then be just awful to those who love us most at home. Are we strict? Perhaps. We just believe that loving, disciplined yet authentic behaviour at home is the standard we are striving for.

There are seasons in life where, no matter the situation, we will have to make decisions based on how our priorities in life are lining up with where we are involved in. If our priorities align with our involvement in some commitment, church activity or other organisation, then that is really great. But if an involvement is causing issues that might allow us to compromise a priority or standard, some hard decisions may need to be made.

Even when, in many ways, you don’t want to make that decision. Or that, sometimes, there may be no clear right or wrong. Sometimes all you can do is pray, seek God’s guidance, analyse all the information you have before you, and make a choice. And then, step out in faith.

A child not going to some form of preschool or kindergarten is rare these days. We, again, are going to look different. {Sigh. Really, God? Again?} But we have to obey.

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there is no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
And it’s not just us, as parents, who want to be happy in Jesus. We want our children to have the ultimate joy of knowing and being happy in Jesus. And, because they are in our care, we have to trust and obey God, even when it bucks against the norm and requires hard, emotional choices for what is best, even if the second choice is still good.

In the comments: Have you ever made a decision that was hard because you had the choice of good and best?

Callings and Self-Doubt: Choosing Faith that You Are on the Right Path.

We all struggle with comparing ourselves to others {remember?}. And, as I am growing to see in myself, we all struggle with doubting ourselves next to others. Self-doubt is a massive continuing blip in the radar of my Christian growth.
Before we had children, I wasn’t like any of the wives I knew. I didn’t have a full-time job. I wasn’t helping us save money for when children came. There was great logic in those choices, but they weren’t our choice. I worked part-time {generally ten hours a week} and, for the most part, I considered being a homemaker {ie. Tim’s wife} my full-time job.
Oh, it was such a different path to take. Granted, I never, ever got negative comments or remarks – but I did get lots of people questioning me. 

Why don’t you work more?
Don’t you want more money?
What does Tim think?
Aren’t you bored?
What do you do all day?
The questions always got me. I knew, deep down that this was God’s calling on my life, and I knew people would disagree with me. But all the questions – and often what the questions didn’t say but silently did – were like little arrows of doubt. In those times, I really did have two people on my shoulder; one speaking positively to my calling, the other asking more and more questions, leading to deepening doubt. Even though I knew my own story and Tim’s, even though I knew why dedicating my life to my family was my dream job, I still doubted. I doubted simply because I feared man.


Each day we have a million battles we face. We battle the choice to have faith or reject the Gospel. We battle to believe the truth of God’s Word {and not listen to the hissing whisper, “Did God really say…?”}. We battle to choose obedience to God and not sin. We battle our culture. And sometimes, sadly, we battle our own family, friends and church.
Living a life of faith and conviction is ridiculously hard. Mere questions can be the marsh mellows of it all! Ridicule, persecution, misunderstanding, judgement and rejection are almost expected. And I am not just talking about God’s moral laws here {as opposed to the world’s standards}: I am talking about an individual’s call, their choice of occupation, a family’s way of life, their vision for the upbringing of their children…

I am talking about the personal, quiet, submissive belief one has before God that this way – this choice, this path, this conviction – is uniquely given by the Lord, to them, for their life. Everyone has callings that submit under the law of the Gospel.
We have authors, painters, teachers, leaders, servers, mothers, fathers, missionaries, single individuals, bridge builders, carpenters, evangelists, singers, bloggers. Under the grace of the Gospel, we have individual callings. And they will be different. You, and I, will be different. And amongst the many battles that we face each day will be the battle to believe, to hold on to, to grasp the hem of God that this calling is ours. No matter what questions are asked. No matter who asks those questions.
Self-doubt is one of the ways in which the enemy gets God’s people off track. Indulging, believing and participating in self-doubt causes us to be like the person James speaks of, the one who, when asking for wisdom,

“must ask in faith, without doubting, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind” {1:6}
When we are being tossed about in the waves of self-doubt {which is not faith}, we are ineffective disciples of Christ. We are crippled by our own selves and will not thrive in the calling God has given us. 
Paul, throughout the Epistles, repeatedly began his letters stating his calling, or appointment to service {1 Timothy 1:12}, or apostle by command {1 Timothy 1:1}. He claimed his calling and, despite believing he was the worst of sinners {vs.15}, he knew his calling to be true and that it was a mercy of Christ.
Though we are not Paul, we too are disciples of Christ and have our own callings. I am called to be a wife, mother, homemaker and church member. I have talent-callings I must use for God’s service. And, as a married couple and as parents, Tim and I have decisions we must make in regards to the atmosphere of our family, the upbringing of our children and the way in which we use the blessings God has given us. We will look different. But being different to others doesn’t mean being wrong.
So, dear friends, choose to have faith in your calling. You will be different, but don’t let questions cause you doubt. Hold fast to your appointment, use questions to show God’s mercy in your own life, and be thankful for God’s unique care and concern over the way your life is lived, in practice and purpose. 

Please share your calling and any struggles you have had of self-doubt in it.

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.

The Best Encouragement A Weary Mother Will Ever Need.

I’ve already mentioned this week that we are exhausted. Sleep is really strange at the moment – between the cold I had and Rosalie just not knowing night-time is for sleeping – my days feel long and heavy. Disciplining, mothering intentionally, keeping house, loving and caring for my hard-working {and equally exhausted} man, connecting with church fellowship… All are necessary for the good life, the abundant life.
And my life is abundant. I love it.
But abundance doesn’t mean it isn’t always easy. Jesus lived the perfectly abundant life. He laboured, he fought, he loved, he cherished, he gave, he poured out, and ultimately, he died. And he said that he – the Christ – was the abundant life!
If we compare his promise of abundant living to what our western world says is “the good life”…Well, there is no comparison. Only complete contrast.
Within me battle two desires: 
  • the desire to have Jesus’ version of the true, good life,
  • and the desire to have it easy, like everyone else.

But we cannot have it both ways. If we are truly his, we are in him and he in us… so life is going to be hard work.
Today, after another really hard weekend which never stopped, and a night that was full of children waking {one for over two hours, ahem, not mentioning her name} and earthquakes and left-over coughing, we woke up before dawn {because our kids like to make things interesting}, and I thought,

“Why? Lord, I prayed for good sleep. Why???”
When I got home from dropping Josiah off at kindy and I put Rosalie down for a sleep, I really fought with the Lord. I prayed,
“Father, I really want to sleep right now, but my soul needs you. Please, please speak to me. Give me encouragement and strength through your word.”
And this is what he said:

“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.” ~ Colossians 1:28-29

Now, I have slowly been going through Colossians in my quiet time. These were the last two verses left of the chapter. I had no idea they were coming, but here they were, and they spoke directly to my bone-weary soul.
Why do we do this? Why do we live this life? Why do we work so hard each and every day, pouring everything we have out for our children and our husbands and our homes and our friends?
We do it all for Christ. 
Don’t stop reading. This isn’t some cliche – this is God’s Word speaking directly to you, as it did for me. We do it for him! He is our goal, he is our end! 
Every word of correction, every moment of the night we are awake with children, every time the ground shakes us out of the sleep we were barely having, every time we just want to have a moment’s peace because we don’t think we can keep going – –

He is our joy to behold, our “hope of glory” {vs.27}, he is our purpose, our goal, our end for all our efforts. And, he doesn’t leave it there.

“I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.”

We work hard, we pour out to almost nothing – and, if we call out to him, he is faithful, he fulfills his word, he pours back into us. He gives us the energy to do this life. He gives us the power to do his work. And later, in Timothy, Paul says we are, in Christ,

“Equipped for every good work.” ~ 2 Timothy 3:17

Friends, if life is hard right now, don’t give up. We have got this. We’ve got this because of Christ. Not only is he our goal, he is our help. He is everything we need for this life because he is true life. 
Let me finish with this beautiful version from the Amplified Bible for your encouragement, as it is for mine:

“We proclaim Him, warning and instructing everyone in all wisdom [that is, with comprehensive insight into the word and purposes of God], so that we may present every person complete in Christ [mature, fully trained, and perfect in Him – the Anointed]. For this I labour [often to the point of exhaustion], striving with His power and energy, which so greatly works within me.” 

Tired mother, how are you? Has this Word spoken to you today? Please share.