A Simple & Delicious Bread Recipe

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

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

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

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

bread

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

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

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

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

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

breadrecipe

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

bread2


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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

Life Lately

I unexpectedly took a very long break from blogging. There was a major faultline in our phone so we were without phone or internet for almost a month. Then, after being used to not having the internet and not blogging, I just kept ignoring the blog. It was nice. A breather. I realised how easy it is for the internet to rule my life – not just blogging or social media, but just having access to it for, say, a recipe or a map or a reference for something. It was certainly frustrating at times, but overall, I really enjoyed it and, in many ways, was thankful for the space.
I feel almost ready to come back to my blogging space though. My creative/writing side is itching to be let lose. So hopefully I will be back up and running soon. My husband has also been helping me with a few things that I may be able to share with you – once they’re all ready to go {think: household printables}.
Until I’m up and running more regularly, here is a round up of what’s been going on lately.

Thinking

There are major issues going on in the New Zealand Anglican Church {see below under ‘Praying’} and, being in one of the key churches that is {we believe} fighting for God’s truth, His Gospel and His Word has been on my mind so much. I have been having many online discussions with other people within the Anglican Church, mostly with those who do not agree with evangelicals, so I have been contemplating and mulling over the many basics of what it means to follow Christ. Particularly so, the great chasm that occurs between people when some hold fast to the authority of the Bible and others don’t. It is impossible to keep that hold from widening.

Doing

We have been particularly busy having play dates. It has just been a term holiday for school kids, as well as Josiah’s kindy, so we have had play dates with about eight families in the last few weeks. It has been just great – but busy. So I am just very thankful to move back into the gentle rhythms I have established over the last few years of our normal, everyday life.
Hagley Park in the centre of Christchurch. A kid’s favourite for walking and exploring.

Moving

Last time I was blogging, I was determined to get a grip on my health. I haven’t fallen off the wagon, but it is hard and I am always trying to stick to my goals. I stopped jogging for over a month and instead was just doing my normal walking. But I’ve realised I need to do jogging in order for changes to be made on my body. I just turned thirty and I have to work harder to get my blood pumping and my body processing what I eat. Also, my mental health is just so much better when I push myself to go jogging: I feel fitter, more confident about my body and just all-round good about myself. Who can say no to that?

Eating

My eating has been better than it has been in the last six months. I’m using more self-control and eating less between meals {ie. I rarely have a snack other than perhaps a cup of tea}. My breakfast is healthier and I make sure I have a well-balanced lunch. Dinners are normal and I try not to over-eat. I have had yummy baking etc, but I am working hard on discipline. I have also been making my own bread, which has really helped {it’s much more filling than normal bread}.

Some of the yummy yummy bread I have been baking.

Reading

I read ALOT while we had no internet. I couldn’t do anything else! I’ve read about three books in over a month. I have also had consistent quiet times in the Word {about two-three a week} and finished the Book of Colossains. Amazing, people. And we have been doing a tonne of read alouds – my kids are falling more and more in love with books. I love it!

One of the books from the library the kids have loved and wanted read over and over.

Praying

In a week, representatives of different churches/parishes over NZ will be meeting for General Synod where governmental things get decided on. It happens every two years. Since the last one, a special council released a motion to bless same-sex marriages and ordain practicing homosexuals. This is a historically significant event and next week at Synod, there will be a vote whether to pass it or not. I am part of a group of evangelicals within the Anglican Church who are praying fervently that it won’t be. We believe this is a first-order issue, that it will cause people to be excluded from heaven, so we are fighting so hard for what we believe in. We don’t want to, but if it passes, we are likely to split away. It is not a sudden decision, it has been many years in the making, and it breaks our heart. But we must fight for God’s truth, His desire for godly relationships and His absolute holiness that cannot accept sin. It is a very heavy time, my extended family are deeply involved, so I have been praying a lot. But God is good and so much of what I read in my quiet times silences the fears within my anxious mind: He is good, He will prevail in the end. 
So this is me lately. I have missed my blogging friends and hope to be back up and running very soon. I hope you haven’t forgotten me! 

When You’re Stuck in a Homemaking Rut.

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

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

Here is what helps me:

Get Your Heart & Head in the Right Space.

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

Do the Next Thing.

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

Source

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

Keep Going…And Going.

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

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

How I Meal Plan.

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

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

New meals: 1-2 monthly

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

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

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

Menu Display: DIY Chalkboard

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

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

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

Today My Best Parenting Was From the Couch.

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

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

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

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

PS: Since writing this, I have learned that Rosalie doesn’t need her day sleep anymore. I dropped her nap and she slept twelve-hours straight. I praised the Lord.

Being An Undivided, Wholehearted Mother.

Last year I read The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson. It is, by far, one of the best books on motherhood I have ever read. And, when I read it, my soul felt a thrill of joy. Finally, finally, a woman spoke the language of my heart for motherhood. I didn’t feel so alone anymore. Here was a woman who embraced, fully and completely, the task and call of being a mother and didn’t let anything pull her from this eternal task.
Now, when I say that I didn’t feel so alone anymore, I mean this: It is not that I think other mothers are less, or that their choices for their families mean they are not wholehearted. I would be lying if I said that I don’t compare, struggle with pride or insecurity. It’s just that, despite all the amazing mothers I know, who love love love their kids and do their very best, I just feel…different. Odd.
Perhaps, it is perspective. Perspective is definitely what got me here today, pursuing undivided, whole-hearted motherhood. You see, the reason I believe in this so deeply and passionately is this: I am a child who didn’t have that. In fact, even as a almost thirty-year-old, I still don’t have that.
And it breaks my heart.
undividedwholeheartedmother
This is not going to be a blog post bagging my mother. I love her. There are many qualities I so deeply admire in her. And she is an amazing Nanna! But part of my story is the living and working through the failures she made as a mother. Without going into details, though a loving mother with great strengths {she is better at nursing her sick children than I ever will be}, she had a divided heart. She wanted motherhood, but she wanted more too.
Is it wrong to want things outside of motherhood? No. But the plain truth of the matter is that we cannot have it all without sacrifice. Either our families get our best, or something else does. It is impossible for us to be 100% for everyone and everything.
“In that moment the two conflicted drives of my heart stood out in stark contrast – my commitment to motherhood versus my lurking desire to have life my own way. And from that moment on, I became a little clearer about which path I needed to follow if I really wanted to reflect God’s design. I began to see my children’s care and nurture as God’s best will for my life during my season as a mother… If I didn’t commit myself wholeheartedly to the demands of motherhood, I would never be able to do my best, because my heart would always be somewhere else.” ~ Sally Clarkson {emphasis mine}.
Growing up, my little child-heart sensed – then grew to know – my mother’s heart was always somewhere else. I knew my mother loved me and I relished her love. But there were parts of my life where I felt her absence. Distinctly I remember feeling forgotten, shunted aside for more important pursuits, and, verbally, that we {my brother and I} were burdens.
It is still painful now, especially since I have become a mother. The pain is raw, the vulnerability I felt as a child still lingers. But, and a great but it is, God is a God of redemption and he has redeemed my life, so deeply. 
“[What is] sown in weakness, is raised in power.” ~ 1 Corinthians 15:43
Only recently did God press this verse on my heart. Because of Christ, because of his blood purchased on the cross for me, all that is sown in weakness in my life can be raised in power. If we commit our pains, hurts, wounds to God, he lovingly and carefully restores goodness, truth, healing and freedom into our lives.
For me, he has raised in me a passion for wives and mothers to embrace living their lives fully for their families. I do believe this is biblical and the way it has always meant to be. But we’re broken, fallen and wayward, and we’ve lost the truth that our families need us – all of us. And I know that that can produce in us a feeling of panic, of drowning – “What about me?” we ask, “What about my needs? My dreams? My life?”
I get it. In many ways, it is natural. But in a lot of other ways, it is cultural. Our culture demands that we give ourselves up for no-one. Our lives should be determined by ourselves and if anything requires sacrifice, don’t let it swallow you.
By encouraging undivided, wholehearted motherhood, I am not saying lose your identity, or what makes you you. God made you unique and essentially you. You and your personality were written in the Book of Life from long ago, and God delights in you. But he also delights when we love others so much that we put them and their needs first. As crazy and as mental as that sounds, in the biblically-mathematically-rule-of-nature-and-life, when we lose ourselves to others, we gain life. True, abundant life.
But if you are a Christian, you know this. You know that to follow Jesus, we emulate him, and we lose our lives by giving them up for others, and we gain eternity. We know this. Yet, we’re still dipping our toes in the pools of selves along with everyone else, and we’re wondering why we’re still lost. But isn’t obvious that if we look to what is broken to fix us we’re just going to end up as messed up as everyone else? And, not just us, but our children.
As Sally realised in her early years of parenting, she couldn’t have it both ways. For the season when her children needed her, she knew that she had to put aside the pursuits that would draw her heart, her mind and her body away from her family. And that is what we need to remember, it is just for a season. It isn’t for always.
Again, I am not saying you can’t have hobbies, or outside accomplishments, or a job. But we need to make sure that get it all in the right order. Some people say we need to find balance, but I personally don’t think it’s possible. It is more that we get things in the right order. Family first, then other stuff. Our family get our best. By God’s strength and grace, they get our best. And whatever we struggle or fail in {because we will}, we pray that whatever we sow – ignorantly or deliberately – in weakness, that he would lovingly raise in power in the lives of our children.

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

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I love planners. I’m not a good planer per-se, but I love fresh, clean and blank journals all ready to be filled up with words. I need planners, too. Since having kids, this “baby-brain” thing has plagued me no end. {The amount of times I have left my house keys on top of the car and driven away, seriously. In one week, I left my purse behind at the grocery store at two different supermarkets. Mum’s lose their minds, it’s legit.}
I have specific requirements for planners, too. They need to:
  • be week-to-view BUT have decent daily sections
  •  not be rigid with times {because what stay-at-home mum can be, right?}
  • have extra pages for notes, doodles, lists
  • be spacious but not so big I can’t take it around with me
  • be sturdy
  • be pretty {most important aspect, surely}
After struggling through different planners over the last few years, near the end of last year I stumbled upon the term “bullet journal”. I can’t remember where, perhaps it was on my Pinterest feed I’m not sure, but all I can say is this: I love it and I am never going back! Here’s why:
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IT’S FLEXIBLE {OR, IT’S FORGIVING}

One thing that I struggled with pre-made planners is that they never perfectly suited my life and the things I need as a family manager. There are buisness planners, student planners, blog planners. I even bought a “mom” planner – and it seemed to be a good fit – but in the end, it wasn’t. There is always something not right for me: I don’t need timed days; I need enough space to list, cross out, add to etc. Space is a huge thing for me, and free space, too.
Bullet journalling is when you have a lined journal, some favourite pens and that’s it. You design it to perfectly fit you, your life, your goals, your priorities.  So, as a stay-at-home mum, with kindy mornings, church commitments, friendships to pursue and an entire house and garden to manage, I can create it to fit ME.
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As a stay-at-home mum, I am doing things all day long – but sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. I clean the living room, yet thirty minutes later, the kids have walked sand in through from the sandpit outside. It’s the best and worst thing. So, to help me feel like – at the end of the day – I have accomplished a lot, I jot down all the things I want to do today, as well as later I add in things I have done. I tick them off in pink, I cross with purple if I didn’t get round to it. The next day, those purple items are moved to the top of the list {if appropriate}.
It’s bliss seeing things done. I feel accomplished, even if I was kid-wrangling and running around endlessly breaking up bickering all day. I don’t add things I do by rote {like kitchen clean-up, make beds, tidy up etc}. I write the things I do on top of our daily routine.
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IT’S UNIQUE

I love it that I can put whatever I want, wherever I want, in my journal. All the things I’ve always wanted in a planner,  I can put in. For example, at the start of a month, I have a title page of the month, a month-to-view, a half-page goal tracker and then, the month of days {the pages are divided in half for each day}. At the end of the month, I have a “Thoughts From the Month” to reflect on what’s been going on.
I can also put in lists that I might have elsewhere in a random diary but which I never get round to again. The bullet journal has them all in one convenient place! I have a weight goal tracker, a books read in 2016, my goals for the year etc. And the beauty of the journal is, I go only a month at a time. Half way through the month, I write out the next month. I can leave a few blank pages between each month for random pages {like my Books Read in 2016 fits between January and February}. Also, if something isn’t working, I can just change it: I’m not bound by any system.
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IT’S CREATIVE

I love doodling and decorating and creating. Whenever I was looking for a planner, it had to be attractive. And though planners have gotten prettier recently, again, I’ve never found one that perfectly suited me. But bullet journaling answers this problem and need so well. As you can see in all the picture, I love taking the time to have nice handwriting, add doodles, Scriptures and pictures and washi tape.
There are definitely more creative people out there, but that’s okay. This planner is for me and I’m making it for me. It doesn’t matter if one of my doodles looks a bit silly, I can paste a picture over it. And because I’m going month by month, what didn’t work creatively the month before can be let go. If one month a want florals, I can; if the next month, I want it more spartan, I can. Brilliant for the creative mind, like me.
Some people adult colour, I adult journal :).
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For inspiration, go on Pinterest and scroll through the bullet journal beauty. Plus, for more specifics, try:
People use:
  • Moleskin diaries or
  • Leuchtturm diaries {see Boho’s post on that}
  • Good, thick inked but thin tip pens, like Faber Castle
I use Typo {an Australian company} for both my diaries and pens.

SO, DO YOU BULLET JOURNAL? WHAT DO YOU THINK?

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