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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life Lately #2

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

::1::

Crafting

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

Rest

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

Interviewed on Identity & Motherhood

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

Family Life

With Tim being home pretty crippled, life at home changed into holiday mode. We were all very thankful to have lots of Tim time. There was lots of playing, trips when able, house work and general day-to-day life. Our two little ones are quickly growing up and it’s hard to catch up. I am just so thankful that we intend to homeschool. It means I know I have years ahead of one-on-one time, If they were going to school at five, my heart would be tearing in two with the ridiculous speed Josiah is heading towards four, then five. 
I am so thankful for homeschooling and the opportunity to have extended time to invest, be present, and know these people God has given into our care. Oh, and we also joined a homeschooling co-op! It’s on a break for two weeks {it’s term break here in NZ}, but it’s just perfect and the kids love it. I love it too because there are mothers there ahead of me who get me and don’t look at me with questions in their eyes about why we’re planning to do what we do. {Not that lots of other mothers are like that, but there have been a few, and I hate feeling like I have to justify our thoughts!}
::5::

Less World Wide Web

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

I am a great lover of hymns. In my life, God uses the depths of the words, the echoes of the music to stir in my soul a love for Him, worship for His Name, and a passion to share Him with others. This hymn, “Rock of Ages” is my favourite hymn. It has special meaning for my family; my husband sings in beautifully; I hum it to myself when I feel especially close to the Lord, or, when I do not.
“Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;”
God is our Father, and He alone in this changing world is where we can put our feet and know we won’t fall. There is nothing and no-one that can save us, protect us, rescue us from the death that is our sin and the sickness that is in our souls. He is our hiding place.

“Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be for sin the double cure,
Cleanse me from its guilt and power.”
God is our hiding place only because of Jesus, the man who was God, and who died on a cross for those he loved. He was wounded, pierced in the side from which blood and water flowed {John 19:34-37} to fulfill the scriptures from hundreds of years before {Zechariah 12:10}, to save us both from the guilt we have as sinners and the power it has over us.

“Not the labour of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,”
It is in our very nature to do all that we can to make ourselves good. We make ourselves nicer, more giving, more patient, more loving – anything that save us from who we truly know we are inside. We know instinctively what is right and wrong – God’s laws – and we try to do “what is right”. We expend all our energies and have the highest zeal to the point of weeping – 
“All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.”
There is a point we get to in our “holiness treadmill” when we realise that there is simply nothing we can do to save ourselves. We see inside and despair. Nothing we do can make right what we do wrong {in our hearts and with our hands}. We are broken, hurting and hurtful, people. Only Thou – God in Jesus – can save, only Him alone.
“Nothing in my hand I bring;
Simply to Thy cross I cling;”
When we realise that we are actually nothing without Jesus and that we can do nothing to make ourselves right with God, we come to Him with open hands. We see the bloodied Cross before us and know that it is the lifeline for our very breaths. In all the storms of life, in all the pain and sorrow, in all our deepest failures – it is the Cross we cling to.
“Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
Stained by sin to You I cry;
Wash me, Saviour, or I die!”
Everything about us is stained by sin until we are given the clothes of righteousness that Christ has purchased for us. Like newborns, we can do nothing with Him – we lean towards Him, desperate for the mercy and the grace that washes us clean, that gives us a new life to live, that enables us to breathe again.

“While I draw this fleeting breath,
When my eyelids close in death,
When I soar through worlds unknown,
See Thee on Thy Judgement Throne,”
In our moment of life and in our moment of death; when we are taken to that which we cannot see; when we face that which we have always taken in faith; when we see that what faith we have has been given to us and not what we have created – – then, before the judgement throne of God, we will finally see Him. And not just with our eyes – which so few have done before – we will actually see, clearly and fully and with perfect understanding, Him and all of our life’s purpose, in Christ.

“Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.”

The only way we can face the Judgement Throne and come away with mercy is by crying out to God, through Jesus Christ, and asking Him to cleft to us – to hide us away, forever, washed in the blood of Jesus on the Cross. And, we must ask – not presume – for Him to let us.
***
This hymn was written by Augustus Montague Toplady in 1763, considered one of the four top Anglican hymns. Traditionally, it is said Augustus wrote this whilst taking shelter in a cleft of a rock during a storm. In his Psalms and Hymns For Public and Private Worship, he labels this song simply,
“A Prayer, living and dying.”


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! 

Mind the House-Keeping.

Hello lovely readers,
As you may have noticed, there has been some house-keeping going on. This is due mainly because my yearly fee of web-hosting was up and I couldn’t justify the cost. My dear husband was happy to keep paying but something in me couldn’t let that happen, so I have kept my domain {yay!} and removed myself to >>free<< hosting! For me and our household, this falls under the category of:

“She looks well to the ways of her household.” ~ Proverbs 31:27

I’m sorry if you have been inundated with posts. I just couldn’t, for the life of me, import it all from WP. All the comments that mean so much to me have been left behind — so feel free to pay me back for full inboxes or other media forms from this blog by leaving lovely comments! 😉
Things have been quiet around the blog as I have been working and pondering on what was the best to do. I have a post on it’s way {eventually} that was inspired by Tim and my eigth wedding anniversary, which should be up soon.
We’ve also had numerous earthquakes in the last few days that has kept us on our toes. But we are all fine, a little bedraggled, but this is not out of the ordinary for us, I am afraid. 
Source for all Pictures

It was, however, the first time we’ve had a “biggie” since we have had kids and, let me tell you, it’s no fun. Both our kids have been fine {thankfully Rosalie was napping through the 5.7}, it is more on our behalf as parents, trying to smile and remain cheerful as the ground heaves a bit. We call it “the wobbles” and we’ve taught Josiah to go under the table if the “wobbles” happen. 

Anyhoo, this is a wee update letting you know what’s going on around here. So sorry for all the messiness as I get settled. Thank you for being faithful readers and adding something special to this mummy’s life!
Blessings,
Sarah x 

Being An Undivided, Whole-Hearted 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.

In fact, I put up a picture on Instagram the moment I dived into this kindred-spirit-of-a-book:

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.

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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?

PS: The Amazon links on this page are affiliated. Thank you for supporting me.

One Deadly Sin I’m Turning My Back on in 2016.

 

I feel like 2015 was an insecure year for me.

I had lots of moments of worrying about what other people were thinking of me, as well as judging others and their decisions or actions. I spent a lot of time feeling insecure and doubting decisions and wondering whether choices I had made were “right” because they were different from other peoples’. I struggled with these sorts of doubts and criticisms quite a bit.

I mean, we all struggle, don’t we? And we will always struggle, right until the end. Thank the Lord we know that one day we will be completely, utterly and blissfully as white as snow and whole. But now, now we struggle on – against the tide, against what comes naturally, against all that is against love and good.

And this struggling against comparison is a big thing for me. I compare myself to others, and others to me, a lot. I even bought a book on it {that I heard recommended at conferences}, though I haven’t gotten to it yet. {By the way, it’s called Compared to Her: How to Experience True Contentment by Sophie de Witt.}

And you know how people *generally* fall either into the “Pharisee-I’m-better-than-everyone” camp or the “Woman-Who-Cried-All-Over-Jesus’-Feet-No-one-Is-As-Bad-As-I-Am” camp? I don’t. I am both. In one day, I could feel self-righteous over a sister in one area, and then feel like I’m the biggest sinner and weirdo compared to another sister. It makes me feel a bit barmy honestly, and horribly horrible.

onehabitimturningon2016

The areas I tend to compare myself with others are:

prettiness

godliness

weight

motherhood

godliness

choices

and godliness.

By godliness I mean, who is a more godly mother, who pursues a more godly marriage, who has a more godly view on beauty, parenting, clothing, modesty, schooling… Basically, everything. When I’m worrying about godliness, I’m being Pharisaical. And yet, in my self-righteousness I doubt, and I see my ugly heart and I think, no-one can be as awful as me. And frankly, my heart is just one ugly, dark place sometimes.

And why is this deadly? Because it is sin. And all sin leads to death {1 John 5:17}. But how do I change? How do I move past this easy, addictive sin of comparison?

It is, like Theodore Roosevelt said, a thief – a thief of joy. Joy is a deep satisfaction and contentment in the Lord – in Him foremost, in the salvation offered to us in Jesus, in all that he has given us {our talents, our life story, our comforts, our gifts etc}. When I am comparing, I am saying to the Lord,

“Lord, you don’t know what is good for me but I do,” and;

“Lord, you are not enough for me and all that you have done for me is not enough.”

And when I think of all God is and all that he is done, this brings so much shame to me. Comparison doesn’t seem like a sin unless we set it before God and see what our heart’s are truly saying when we become discontented with our lot in life.

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but the LORD is my strength and my portion forever,” ~ Psalm 73:26

“I say to myself, ‘The LORD is my portion; therefore I will hope in him.'” ~ Lamentations 3:24

I want God, and God alone, to be my heart’s desire and joy. I want to be thrilled, grateful and happy with all that he has chosen for me. Not only is he my portion – my life situation is my portion. God has decided I don’t need this, or that I need to go through this, or that this is the path our family need to take. If my eyes turn to others, I am rejecting the Lord’s portion for me.

But here comes the relief — I am saved from this. I am not bound to keep sinning in this area because I am rescued, saved, cleansed and forgiven by Jesus. I have been set free from the slavery I used to be under. I have been redeemed.

I know this is true because I am aware of the ugliness in my heart and it grieves me. If I were not saved, I wouldn’t care an inch. And, more than that, I don’t want to be this way. I want to change. When I want to think I am better or think ugly thoughts, I want to love, just love, my sisters in Christ. When I feel like no-one is as awful as I am, when I’m the worst wife, mother, human being, I want to believe that there are redeeming qualities in me because of who I am in God.

I asked before, how do we stop?

We turn to Jesus. We hear his words to Peter, indignant about the suffering to come to him and not to John. Peter asks, “What about this man?” And Jesus replies,

“What is that to you? You follow me.” ~ John 21:22

What happens to someone else is no business of mine. My life, my family’s life, is my business. Jesus is asking me to follow him. He’s asking me – my strengths, my weaknesses, my biological make-up, my emotional propensities, my physicality, my marriage, my children, my home – to lay it all down at his feet and do with it what he asks of me.

When we turn to Jesus and we hear him saying what he said to Peter to us, our hearts are directed back to their right place: before him, accepting the portion he gives to us, and saying, “Yes! This is my portion. I will have hope. I will live it with joy.”

In All the Little Things.

This past week my lovely husband has been away running logistics at an annual evangelical conference that equips Christians with the tools to study, share and promote the Gospel. It’s an amazing conference and I loved the three years that I did there. There have been some amazing international speakers there, and this year our awesome brother-in-law {and our minister} preached on Genesis.

Though we could have gone as a whole family, with Josiah and Rosalie still very little, we decided that I would keep the home fires burning and free Tim to put his all into the week {which he did!}.

And, I am here to tell you, we made it.

Our children are alive. I am alive. There were a few moments when I wasn’t sure we would, but we did, and all the glory goes to God.

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And though I’m joking in some ways, I’m not being jib about it. All the glory does go to God. I couldn’t have done it without him. And Tim and the workers/leaders of the conference couldn’t have done it either. This week was big on all of us.

As I was reading Elisabeth Elliot this morning, I was reminded of how good God is when it comes to being in control of all the big things and all the little things that make up our days,

“If He is indeed ‘Creator of all things visible and invisible’ [the Nicene Creed] He is certainly in charge of all things, visible and invisible, stupendous and miniscule, magnificent and trivial.”

This week there were many little moments where I was shooting desperate arrow prayers upwards, crying for help and patience and calm. It is not easy being all hands on deck all day with two toddlers when the the only hands on deck are yours!

When the day was running smoothly {ie. the kids were briefly playing nicely together so that I could fold washing and the like}, it was easy to fool myself into thinking that it really was just my own hands on deck. But you see, I was fooling myself because a moment later, I would be treading water and begging for a lifevest.

The best and most frustrating thing about those moments is that you feel alone. Your emotions are a strong tide, pulling you under, wanting you to succumb to annoyance/impatience/tears/low-spiritedness. When you’re crying out to God, it’s hard to feel he is there and he is helping.

But he is there. He’s there because we made it.

…I didn’t shout as many times as I wanted to;

…I didn’t get frustrated openly as much as I felt;

…I kept pushing through that low feeling of defeatedness so that it lifted.

All glory goes to God.

And, as equally, all the glory goes to God when I failed. I did lose my temper, I did want to walk out the door at times, I did ignore some tears so I could accomplish something, I did feel defeated. And in all those little moments of failure, all the glory goes to God, because I repented and picked myself up, and tried again. Any good that I managed to do this week is because of him alone.

All glory goes to God, always, in all our little moments of victory over sin and in our choosing it. Not that God is in our sin or our choosing it, but because he gave us the answer to our sin, and he put it in our hearts to desire, yearn and need that answer. Every single time I say to God, “Please, help. Please, forgive me. Have mercy on me, a sinner” I am giving the glory back to God. {Yes, I am declaring myself a Calvinist in this!}. Yes, I am making the choice to call out to God but only because his Spirit put that desire in me {John 6:44}.

So this week, in the hard days full of little moments of battle and victory and losing, even when I thought I was the only one on deck, it was God in it all – guiding me, prompting me, giving me his Spirit as Counsellor and friend. It’s humbled me and strengthened me and stretched me and softened me.

I am so thankful that God is in the little things, I couldn’t do it without him. How could I keep at this life-long battle of sin and mothering and marriage and sharing Jesus if I didn’t have the certainty and comfort that God is in charge of every single thing?

PS: A really good book I read through a painful part of my life was Jerry Bridges’ Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts {<<< affiliate link}. It is full of clear Scripture and encouragement in the belief that God’s sovereignty – in small or big, in good or bad – is a solid peg Christians can hang their soul on. I highly recommend it; the truths have never left me.

My Goals for 2016 & Best Posts of 2015

I’m not sure if it is one of my faulty personality traits, but I have never been a goal setting sort of person. Part of me has rebelled against goals, another part is frightened of them – especially since having children. I struggle with a sense of failure anyway – why would I add to that feeling of inadequacy by having a list of things I haven’t accomplished?

But, by God’s grace, I’m kind of maturing. In the last wee while, goals haven’t frightened me as much anymore. In fact, there is a part of me that has been like, “Hey, I think I might enjoy setting some goals in my life. I want to accomplish something.”

I love pottering. It suits the part of my nature to withdraw from things that cause stress or possibility of instability {part of my story}. But, like I said, God’s doing stuff. And what he does, even if it can be painful, is always good for us {Romans 8:28-29}.

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My Christian Goals

Read the Bible more than books about the Bible so that I desire to be fed directly from Christ {Psalm 119}.

Read the Book of Isaiah and Joshua, following along with Matthew Henry’s Commentary, highlighting appropriate passages with Courtney’s method.

Continue to find time to pray on my knees {helps me concentrate and creates a more reverent spirit in me}.

Pray about concerns and issues more specifically {eg. parenting issues, relationship troubles etc}.

Seek to glorify God and enjoy him.

My Family and Home Goals

Continue to actively put our marriage first.

> Find time to rest during weekdays so Tim can rest on weekends.

> Bend my heart and concerns towards him more than myself and children.

> Ask myself, “Is this helping Tim? Am I fulfilling my role as his helper?”

> Build my own confidence and joy to be attractive to him.

Seek stability and routine for the children {not feeling guilty saying “no” and thus, missing out on things}.

Be confident in my position as their mother, not let my emotions or their behaviour control the way I parent.

Continue to grow in the belief that hard work is good and seek to be a trustworthy and diligent housewife.

Honour Tim’s work by being a careful steward of the finances.

My Personal Goals

Grow in self-control, particularly with food {eg. sweet things}.

Exercise more rigorously.

Goal weight: 65kg {currently, 73kg}.

Scripture Goals for My Life

God:

“Come, descendents of Jacob,

let us walk in the light of the LORD.” ~Isaiah 2:5

and:

“Taste and see that the LORD is good;

blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” ~ Psalm 34:8

Marriage:

“She speaks with wisdom and the law of kindness is on her tongue.” ~ Proverbs 31:26

Children:

“A generous person will prosper;

whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” ~ Proverbs 11:25

Home:

“She sets about her work vigorously;

her arms are strong for the task.” ~ Proverbs 31:17

Personal:

“Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.” ~ Proverbs 25:28

I feel really happy and confident that these goals are realistic and workable. They are focused and centered on my mission on building and achoring our family life at home this year.

And, as we move on, here were the top 5 posts on the blog from 2015:

5. Looking Well: New Routines & Binder to Help Me Care For My Family Better.

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4. Why Home is So Important.

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3. Why My Blog May Not Interest You.

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2. My Brief Look Into Headcoverings.

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AND the top viewed and commented on was >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

  1. What It Really Means To Our Husbands When We Manage Our Homes.

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Thank you to all my lovely readers who regularly comment, and to those who don’t, it builds my courage up to keep on writing when I see there are people subscribed and want to read what’s going on in my life. Bless you x

I pray I will continue to love writing and sharing and being faithful to the call God has placed on my heart, encouraging you with that.

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PS: There was one affiliate link in this post. Thank you for supporting me!