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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Prayer and the Providence of God

Recently, I have been reading through a commentary as I study the book of Ruth. If the commentary is reliable and faithful, using one as you read through a book or passage of the Bible is a really helpful, insightful and encouraging way to grow your understanding of God and His Word. 
In the first few verses of Ruth, we see Naomi – Ruth’s mother-in-law – packing up after the death of her husband and two sons, from Moab, and heading back to Israel where the famine, that had been the reason for their leaving God’s country, is over. 
Naomi, knowing her daughter’s are now widows and not Israelites, begs them to stay in Moab and find new families. Naomi lifts up her voice and prays for her daughters, even though they have different gods. Naomi’s faith, even in her grief and sorrow, is strong and a witness to Ruth. This witness – and the great theme of the book – is the incredible providence of God, that is, His ultimate care and rule over His creation, and His created, covenant people.
Here are some words from the commentary I am using, and may it encourage your soul and mind as it has mine.

“Prayer, as it were, is the flip side to the doctrine of providence. Prayer is the acknowledgement, not of the psychological benefit of some mythological exercise, but of the fact that we believe that God is there, God cares, God rules and God provides, and believe it in such a way that we are ready to do something on that basis, namely speak to him.
Providence reminds us of our creatureliness and dependence on God, and that together with all men, we stand under God’s lordship; prayer is an activity by which we acknowledge that we cannot be our own lord.

Providence reminds is that everything is not ultimately absurd or meaningless; prayer is our way of expressing our ‘yes’ to the conviction that God is working his purposes out in nature, in men, in history.

Providence is a reminder that the Lord is a God of grace and generosity; prayer is our way of responding to his invitation to be a member of his covenant family, his son or daughter, his co-worker in this world. 

Providence reminds us that the living God is not an irresistable fate before whom we can only keep silent and passive; prayer is our response to God’s invitation to share fellowship with him, an expression of our union with him.

[When we pray] God will rectify and amend our prayer in his answering of it. It is not as if our prayer is the certain and secure thing, and God’s answer unsure and uncertain. It is the opposite. It is we who are challenged in prayer, not God.

By prayer, therefore, we both express our trust in God’s providence, and discover how our own wills are to be more aligned with his sovereign and loving will for us. Our action in prayer is met by the transforming answer.”

~ David Atkinson, The Message of Ruth {IVP Publishers}
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Motherhood & Mental Illness: When I Am Weak

I have written about this topic before:
This week I have been reminded that I live in a frail and fallen body. It’s easy, when things are fine, to fool myself into thinking that I have it all together, that I am strong and able to cruise through life independently and alone. And then, something happens and medication isn’t enough to keep my anxiety at bay: once again, I’m thrust into the whirling pit of a speeding mind, the sense that something is very wrong, intense emotions and a body wound up like an old-fashioned toy.
I have been “fine” for so long. It’s two years since my last pregnancy and post-partum struggles. It’s been well over a year since I have tried to wean myself off my medication, only to have my old friend come creeping back through the brain stem of my mind. Life has trundled along – busy, routine, safe. I’ve been okay.
Then last week Tim was suddenly put on night shifts {who knew builder’s could be on night shifts?} and everything was turned upside down. I was sole parenting day and night; I was stressed trying to keep a toddler and preschooler quiet during the day in our small house so as not to wake Tim; therefore, we went out and about everyday. It was a struggle. By the end of the week, the muscles around my shoulders were sore from being tense all the time and, by the weekend, I could feel the unnamed panic starting to creep over my heart, my mind like a deer in headlights.
Now I wasn’t handling things as I normally do. Squabbles, disobedience, dawdling filled me with irritability at best, rage at worst. Long days in sole charge of the kids from sun up to sundown {Tim has night classes several times a week and is gone for work by 6.30am} built that pressure of responsibility to bursting point as I struggled staying on top of it all.
Finally, by Wednesday, I acknowledged to myself that I wasn’t well and needed to stop trying. This brought a sense of relief. It usually takes me a little to face my anxiety; I often keep going as before, productive and ignoring my rising tension. I think I don’t need help. And then, I realise I can’t – –
and I throw myself before God and simply ask for help. “Give me grace, O Lord. I just can’t do this without you.”
And that is what this thorn in my side is really for. God knows me so well. He knows I love comfortable and, more than physical comfort, I crave idolise emotional comfort. And He knows that when I ask, in trepidation, to help me need Him and desire Him more than anything else, the thorn shifts and I’m reminded that it is weakness that keeps us within the safety of His refuge.
Peace and safety certainly don’t come from striving for the perfect life or being the world’s best mother. These are the goals of my flesh. They war with the God-directed spirit in me – the new me – that only wants Him and His ways and His will. These two parts of me grate against one another like the plates of the earth, and it is my anxiety that is the earthquake, shaking me around a bit, keeping me at the foot of the cross.

Nothing in my hand I bring, 
Simply to Thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to you for dress;
Helpless, look to you for grace;
Stained by sin to You I cry –
Wash me, Saviour, or I die!

I used to plead this illness away. I used to fight it and deny it and crucify myself for being so weak. I feel shame that I need such a quiet and uneventful life to keep me steady, that such a minor thing like Tim working night shifts can throw me off “my game”.

But part of the valley I experienced after Josiah’s birth helped me see it with a humble heart. I saw this world and our broken bodies differently, for what they are – tents, that flap in the wind a bit, and which pegs sometimes get ripped out of the earth. We are clay vessels, we’re easily broken. 
Our culture emulates perfection – perfect bodies, perfect jobs, perfect families, perfect wealth. But what a lie. We will always come against the fallen. This world is not meant to be it.

“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me. That is why, for the sake of Christ, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

… So the power of Christ may rest on me. Did you hear that? We aren’t meant to strive in our brokenness. Rather, we are meant to rest in His grace, His power, His mercy, His blood. We can acknowledge who and what we really are, and divorce ourselves from perfection. We are to pursue holiness, but that is not the same as pursuing perfection. We are to pursue being a set apart people, who trust and obey God.
Now, however much I hate my illness, I accept it. I embrace it. I acknowledge that it is a gift from God. Yes. A gift. I would rather be sick, on my face before the throne of God in desperate need of Him, than cruising through life thinking I’m awesome and invincible. I would rather see myself as a weak wife and mother, than sit on my high horse, not able to be real and in the trenches with other needy women. I would rather experience the Gospel in pain than understand it in perfect theology, sitting comfortably, unscathed by broken. I am really, really grateful I’m broken. It makes me need Jesus.
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Deepening a Love for God’s Word

Within the worldwide Church, we all “do church” differently. And that is something that, I believe, glorifies God. God is a God of beauty and variety, so the way we express our love for Him and how we do fellowship with each other ties into His creation of diversity. But I do believe that there is one thing that is more important than anything else: the priority of the Bible.
Belonging to a church that faithfully believes in, professes, and acts upon the teachings of God’s Word is the most important commitment of a follower of Christ. Though the way a service is run and led, the way music is done, the way communion is practiced etc. are important aspects of church life to consider – how much a church body loves the Bible tops them all.
The Bible is how we know God. It is how He has revealed Himself to us explicitly {Romans 1:17} – by His laws, the unfolding story of His people of Israel, the life and death of Jesus Christ, and the ministry and letters of His early apostles. If we did not have the Word, we would only have His creation to show us He exists {Psalm 19:1-4, Romans 1:20} and His will for us would be a mystery.
But isn’t God good to us? We can know His ways and His will because of the Word. And as we grow to know God through the Gospel of Jesus, we can love, be in awe of, honour, and be passionate about the Bible more and more.
Do you know the wonders of God’s Word? Let’s look at a section of Psalm 19 and see the work God does for us in His Word.

Psalm 19:7-13
“The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.” {v.7}
Sometimes from the doubt in our own hearts or from the voices from the world, we can come to the Bible and doubt it. We can doubt that it is true, that it can be trusted, that it is consistent, that it is relevant. But here we see simply: the words of God in the Bible is perfect. We can trust it, even when it is confusing or difficult to accept. And, not only that, it is aliveit refreshes our souls and makes us wise. The Bible is not a stagnant book. God uses it powerfully within us through His Spirit. If, we let Him.
“The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.” {v.8}
Not only is the Bible perfect, it is right. Our holy God has revealed to us His will so that we may know how to please Him. He is our Creator, we are His created beings. If He says something is sinful, it is. We can trust the Word to show us the way – even now, in the twenty-first century. And when we apply His truths to our hearts and lives, we are transformed. Joy and light become the way of our lives, no matter the situation.
“The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever.
The decrees of the LORD are firm,
and all of them are righteous.” {v.9}
So much of the Church’s lack of impact on our world today is because we don’t fear the LORD nor do we fear His Word. We dismiss aspects of His Word as irrelevant or wrong; and we focus more on His loving care than His holiness. We forget that God is still the holy God of the Old Testament and that, the only reason we have access like we do is because He killed His own Son for our sake. God’s Word stands true forever, and so does His character. We must revere His Word so we can revere His righteous ways. Reading His Word faithfully helps us worship and treat God the way He deserves.
“They are more precious than gold, 
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the honeycomb.” {v.10}
Is God’s Word a delight to your soul? Is it as precious to you than anything else in your life? It ought to be. It should be what we turn to more than people, more than books – even good books written by faithful Bible teachers. This is a weakness of mine, as a big reader. God’s Word should be so precious to my heart; I ought to yearn for it above any other source of knowledge or wisdom.
“By them your servant is warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
But who can discern their own errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
Keep your servant from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless.
innocent of great transgression.” {v.11-13}
God uses His Word to enlighten us on our sins – those that we do willfully, and those that are hidden in the darkness of our hearts. How good He is, and merciful, that He doesn’t leave us to our own devices. God’s Word is a guide for us, a healing book, a history of His great love for sinners. Use it to help you, use it to convict you, use it to comfort you, use it to give you knowledge and understanding.

**

God loves it when we love to love Him. And He loves it when His Word is as precious to us as pure gold, as important to us than any other thing in our life. If you feel lacklustre towards the Bible, or you doubt, or you just don’t know where to begin – begin with Jesus, in the Gospels and go from there. Read Psalms for comfort and beauty, read Proverbs for wisdom and truth, read the letters of the New Testament for Christian living. And know that when you ask God to help you love His Word, He has no greater delight than answering that kind of prayer! All you need to do is ask and actively read and study it.

“We must have the Word of our Lord…Our souls need food, and there is none for them outside of the Word of the Lord. All the books and all the preachers in the world cannot furnish us a single meal: it is only the Word from the mouth of God that can fill the mouth of a believer.” ~ Charles Spurgeon
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You Can Slow Your Life {and your family will thank you for it.}

It’s Saturday night and we put our son to be at 5:55pm. I don’t think he has ever been to bed that early. But he was tired and burning up. His eyes were puffy with tiredness and when we said, ‘Early night tonight, buddy’, all he said was, ‘Yeth’. {Yes, he has a cute lisp.}

This week, despite ever being conscious of how we spend our days, has overtaxed our children. Compared to other families, it may have been a fairly normal week, but for us, it was busy. My kids don’t do well with busy. They tend to get a bit crazy and, at worst, come down sick with temperatures. Hence, a toastie of a little boy, in bed an hour before his normal bedtime.

And me? I don’t do well with busy either. Introverts with a tendency to be anxious go better with a slow life. So, when I make sure our life is stable and peaceful, it’s not just for the children – it’s for me, too. Happy mummy, happy campers.

Living a quiet and slow life is a passion of mine. But I’m not perfect at it. There are still weeks where we get out too much or there isn’t enough downtime at home. Sometimes it cannot be helped, but for the most part, it is possible to live a slow life.

Principles for Slowing Your Life Down
Keep family your main priority. When your family come first, it is much easier stripping the unnecessary away. Perhaps you’re like me {in Myers-Briggs, I’m an INFJ} and you love helping. If someone needs help, I will put my hand up. Or, when we commit to something, we really commit {and so go to the group even if it is the last thing we should be doing}. As a wife and mother now, I say no to everything that does not add to our family life. Even if it would add to my life but would cost someone else in the family, I say ‘no’. This may seem extreme, but this full-on motherhood thing is only for a season. I won’t always have this amazing opportunity to pour everything into my family. Oneday, I can do things for ‘me’. But right now, they are my priority.
Accept the different seasons. As mentioned above, there are many seasons in life, and each will mean saying ‘yes’ to some things and ‘no’ to others. We don’t need to feel guilty about this – it really is a fact of life. Limitations during different seasons are not meant to be constricting; they are perimetres for keeping the ebb and flow of daily life in check. Within those boundaries is great freedom and peace. Just like seasons of life, there are also the seasons of the year: we slow down in winter, and become more active in the warmer months. This is a natural timeline that God has made for our lives, but we have forgotten it in our modern life.

{Source}
Do what makes life a joy. ‘The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.’ Reading books on the couch, cuddles close, kisses buried in golden curls, tickles with boisterous boy-giggles. This is pure joy and it is enjoying Him in the moment because His hand is all over it. Stuffing kids in cars, rushing here, stuck in traffic there, tempers rising, irritation. There is no joy there. And it isn’t what life is about. Walks in the park, make towers with blocks, reading good books, painting pictures, planting bulbs in winter soil for the spring. Glorifying Him and enjoying Him forever.
Keep your eyes wide open. Don’t just accept the status quo because that’s what everyone does. Just because busy is what our culture endorses doesn’t mean it’s good. Read our culture, read history, put everything into perspective. Don’t be afraid to be a little bit kooky. In the end, what other people think of us doesn’t matter – it’s Him we’re wanting to honour. Let us submit ourselves under His way of living for each of our own lives.

{Source}
There are other things to keep in mind, too:
  • re-evaluate when needed
  • keep Scriptures hidden in your heart to keep you focused on what is important for your family
  • be bold even when you feel nervous to be different
  • keep communicating with your husband and his dreams for your family
  • accept the busier moments in life {ie. Christmas} then return to slow as soon as possible
  • watch and listen to your child’s cues {they may not be able to articulate their need for more or less}

The blessings of a slow life are just enormous. And I don’t believe it is something you can regret. As mother’s, if we were constantly busy, we would look back and think: ‘I wish we had taken things more slowly; enjoyed the little years more; read more together; had more home days…’ But I don’t think, in living a slow life, we’ll look back and think, ‘I wish we had been busier.’
It’s never too late to start. It’s okay to quit clubs and extra life fluff to scale back. It may take awhile to adjust – your bodies will be used to going, driving, spending, hurrying. There will be urges you need to master. But a morning will dawn and your heart will think of the slow day ahead and be content. 
And, I promise, you will be a more patient, more enjoyable, more joy-filled wife and mother for it.

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

How to Trust Your Instincts As A Mother

When we become mothers, we’re given a lot of advice. Momentous amounts of it. Some of it blessedly helpful, and some not so much. From family members, well-meaning grandmas at church to fellow mothers further along the parenting track. Everyone has something to say.

Oh, and the professionals. Did I forget to mention the doctors and teachers and psychologists who know exactly how to solve your parenting dilema?

I remember one of the contributing factors to the postnatal-anxiety I suffered through with my son was from listening to every single person and getting completely overwhelmed. One person said one thing, another said the opposite, and then the books – the books! So much information, but only one baby to implement it on.

In my less than three years experience as a mother, I can offer you the best piece of advice I have been given and which has steered me well:

Dear mother, you can trust your instincts and make good decisions for your family on your own.

Did I mention that you can do this without following the status quo or despite what professionals say?

As I stumble along this parenting path, I am learning to believe firmly that a mother and father know what is best for their family. I believe this because only you, the person God chose to nurture and raise His children,  know the characteristics, habits, weaknesses, strengths, idiosynchrasies of the people in your family.
The times in my mothering so far when I have felt most overwhelmed, stressed and emotional have been when I haven’t been trusting and doing what I know is good for my kids. I listen to everyone and get ridiculously lost. I go along paths of books and blogs and parents and — well, you get the picture. It isn’t helpful.
And many times, during this whole time of “searching” there is a feeling settled in my gut. I tentatively think I know where to go or what decision to make, but I don’t feel confident enough to do it. This is especially so when it is a different path to others and you struggle with being a people pleaser {just so me}.
If you’ve been following my blog recently, you’ll know that Tim and I have pulled our little boy out of kindergarten. It was a really difficult decision and I really needed some courage to make it. But boy, I am so grateful we did. Hopefully I’ll post an update soon, but let’s just say, being home has transformed our boy. It is a blessed relief.
So how can we trust our instincts and be confident making decisions?
1. Pray and seek the Word.
2. Discuss the in’s and out’s with your husband and seek his thoughts on the matter.
3. If more information/advice is needed, seek out one or two close mother-friends, preferably older and more experienced.
4. Pray more and seek the Word more.
And then, just do it. If everything is pointing one way, step out in faith and do it.

If you’re offered more advice or thoughts from others {or in books etc.}, you take what you hear with humility and a grain of salt; then you look at your children and you think, “What is best for them?”

Another instance in our parenting where we followed our gut was putting our babies on formula. We did it at different times with them both and for different reasons. But both times, it was pretty immediately clear that it was the right choice. Rosalie, for example, had a slight dairy intolerance and I wouldn’t have had a clue if we hadn’t followed our judgement.

This isn’t to say that we can’t be wrong. Oh my, we totally can be. But thankfully, our God is a God of grace and redemption, and, our children are very forgiving!

I do believe, however, that we have all we need for this parenting gig with prayer, our Bibles, wisdom from elders and conversations within marriage. 

So, mother, you can do this. You can make choices for your family even if they’re different, controversial or different between each child. Just trust God to show you the way as you seek Him. He really is listening and He really will direct your steps and give you wisdom.

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:9 

“I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” Psalm 16:7-8 

Homemaking Seasons & A Natural Cleaner Recipe

New wife enthusiasm..
Working wife juggling…
Pregnant pottering…
Newborn piles…
Toddler chaos…
There are many different seasons to a homemaker’s life. Some seasons are prime for great activity and industry, while other seasons lend themselves to getting just the necessities done {and even that can be a big ask}. It is easy to either pat ourselves on the back for our great Proverbs 31 Woman feats of excellence, or ground ourselves into a pit of guilt for failing to live up to our expectations and standards.
What we all need, in every season of homemaking, is grace.
Grace for the new wife who is both ready to get going but often doesn’t have a clue {whilst adjusting to both her and her husband’s expectations/family upbringings}…
Grace for the working wife who wants to make their home a beautiful sanctuary but struggles to make time or focus when work requires much of her…
Grace for the naueseous or heavily pregnant wife who sees what needs to be done, knows they’re growing a limb or a a lung whilst they rest on the couch, but feel the guilt anyway…
Grace for the new mother who is in the throws of sleep deprivation, spit up, endless onesie washing and opening cans of baked beans for another welcome-home dinner for her working man…
Grace for the mother of little ones {and big ones!} where endless energy, toys, books, blocks, food, projects, art, pirate ships, tea parties and forts make even doing the dishes with only three interruptions a massive accomplishment…
We are not superwomen. We are not meant to do it all. We are meant to accept that “there is a time for everything…” {Ecclesiastes 3:1-8}. Some times will be organised and pretty and very satisfying with all our to-do lists checked off. Other times will be about cuddles and books on the couch, learning a new letter of the alphabet, or reminding a little heart – once again – that hitting their sister is not acceptable.
It really is a thing of beauty. Don’t settle for this busy, production and industry output world we live in. We won’t ever live up to it. 
God didn’t make the times and seasons that way. Have you ever thought that the very seasons signal to our souls how much work we ought to be doing? Summer is for production, winter for slowing down, spring for planting, autumn for pruning. And even then, if there is a baby in the mix – all goes to the side.
When all is said and done, we want our children to remember us and not our tidy homes.

If you want a really fresh, lovely natural cleaner, here is a recipe I created that is simple, cheap and totally homemade. I can garuntee that, whatever season you are in, even the smallest section of your home will be left smelling beautiful and it will make your soul feel really good.

Homemade Lemon Cleaner

spray bottle
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tbsp white vinegar
10 drops lemon grass essential oil
water to fill, 3/4’s full
Put all ingredients into the empty bottle, careful for any pour over if the baking soda and vinegar react {sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t}. Carefully shake with lid on, then unscrew lid to release any pressure, screw back on tightly.
Since using this cleaner, I have found cleaning to be more enjoyable. I know that sounds a little strange, but I think that I know it is all natural and that it smells so good, I enjoy the effect of it all. It leaves the house smelling beautiful.

Why Being A HelpMeet Is Not Beneath Me {Or You}.

The voices that speak to the troubled heart of a woman today are many, subtle and just soul-destroying. And the Greatest Liar of them all? His delight is purely in the downfall of all that was beautifully made in the beginning. He is thrilled and has made fools of us all. Wherever the pendulum swings – male abuse of being a head to the emasculating domination of a she-male – he is behind it all
The Bible is the only place we can find the hope, the solace, the nourishment, the endorsement, the understanding, the answers, the freedom and the beauty all women today crave. Today, I want to point our struggling hearts to the theology of women being helpmeets. I pray God just sets you free from any lies and snares and doubts about this incredibly holy calling.

“And the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone, I will make a helper fit for him.'” Genesis 2:18



First, woman was needed.

It is easy to gloss over the fact that God said that “it is not good”. We’ve heard that before, haven’t we? My heart can become dull to the fact that nothing in creation had been “not good” until Adam needed a companion. But did you know that the original Hebrew sheds a little more light to the heart of God as He made beautiful Eve?
The Hebrew used for “not good” here means positively bad. And I don’t mean the positively bad that we’ve run out of chocolate in the house! No, when God saw Adam hanging out with his animals, He saw that without companionship, life would have no goodness.
Woman, you are good. You are needed and are just plain lovely and good.
Note too, that it didn’t take God by surprise that Adam was lonely. God didn’t make everything without Eve in mind; rather, he waited until Adam realised himself that he was alone. Adam discerned that he needed someone {Genesis 2:20}.
Second, woman was a helper-partner.

Elyse Fitzpatrick in her book Helper By Design: God’s Perfect Plan For Women in Marriage fleshes out this verse {and surrounding verses} to show that God gave Adam six tasks to do in the Garden: Rule. Relate. Reproduce. Reflect. Rejoice. Rest. She says,

“Adam and Eve were unique in the creation, and although he was made from from the dust of the earth {and Eve wasn’t}, she complemented and corresponded to him. Eve wasn’t some other sort of creature; she wasn’t beneath Adam, nor was she superior to him; but rather she was created as his partner, equally in God’s image and called to glorify Him. pg.35
“Fundamentally, a wife can take steps toward helping her husband by seeking to understand the specific ways in which God has called him to rule, relate, reproduce, reflect, rejoice, and rest.”pg.37
God’s original plan for human kind hasn’t changed. In our spheres of home, work, and other influence, we are called to glorify God and enjoy Him forever by ruling and subduing His creation. Specifically in marriage, a wife’s role is to come alongside her husband and care for him, nurture him, strengthen him, encourage him, rebuke him {when necessary}, love him, and seek to learn him as a person and God’s calling for him.
A wife may have her own form of paid employment. She may be a mother. She will have other pursuits and interests outside the home and that are uniquely her own. That is very needed and God will use her mightily as she submits those things to Him. But, her primary calling if she is married, is to be her husband’s helper.


Third, woman was called to be like her Father.
When God created woman to be a helper, he wasn’t making a role or calling that was new. God made man and woman in His image and imparted to them characteristics and responsibilities that were part of His nature. {The fact that they are man and woman and need one another differently reflects the very nature of the Trinity.} In fact, God’s call on woman to be a helper was asking her to be like Him.
The very word “helper” in Hebrew is only used twice in the Old Testament. The first is when God created woman, and the rest is in reference to God and His great care of His people, Israel. Mary Kassian in her book Women, Creation and the Fall writes,
“In the creation of female, we see that a doormat or servant-slave was certainly not what God had in mind. God intended to make a counterpart for the man, a vital helper for him, perhaps in much the same sense as God is a helper. pg.17
Do you see that? When God made us to be helpmeets, He gave us a role that He fulfills to His people. This is such an important reason why the argument that women are inferior just does not stand and why our fear of being helpmeets is so sin-laden and culturally influenced. God made us to be helpers like He is. If it is “good enough” for God, why wouldn’t it be for us?

“Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the sustainer of my soul.” Psalm 54:4
“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.” Psalm 28:7
I understand the fear in the hearts of women when they start looking into God’s calling for them. So much of history is blackened by the abuse of men over their women. Yet, so much of history is also littered with women abusing their power of womanhood over men for their own purposes. We mustn’t ever forget that women are sinners and have equally distorted God’s design. 

Please don’t think that I have never struggled with this. Please don’t think that there aren’t feminist feelings floating around in my mind. There are and I do struggle. In fact, this has been on my mind recently, my soul has been wrestling with what I believe the Bible teaches to what I hear the world teaching. I am truly flawed. But, I don’t want what the world offers. Look how messed up this place is! I want God and His ways. I want what He has designed and which is lived out perfectly, beautifully and so sacrificially in the Trinity. 
Instead of fearing what isn’t truth, we must fear the Lord, just like Sarah did {1 Peter 3:6}. Not only must we fear Him {respect and honour Him}, we must trust in His ways. We must seek to pursue His very words to us and believe that the fears we hold, the lies we hear are not from Him.
He esteems women greatly because they are made to reflect Him!
He made us because we are wanted and needed!
He created us to nurture just as He nurtures!
He calls us to help as He helps! 
No, being a helpmeet does not make us less. And no, being a helpmeet is certainly not beneath us. It is a calling that is godly and requires serious commitment and faithfulness. Being a helpmeet is a holy calling, one that is worked out in the heavens, and can be, by God’s grace, lived out in all Christian marriages.

Please share your comments below. I would love to chat about this all.