Questions and Ideas

I’m just wrapping up a lovely three nights away with some friends at a beach house.

It has been such a wonderful time with laughter, silliness and fellowship. But the main reason we take this time away at the start of each year is to reflect on the year that has passed, take the time to relax, and recharge for the year ahead as we make plans and goals.

 

DSC_0877

I’ll share more about my personal goals for the year soon. But one thing I’ve been looking at is my plan for the blog this year.

So I wanted to take the chance to ask my readers for suggestions and input.

You can leave a comment here (or on Facebook) or email me at Seriouslyserving@hotmail.com

– Is there something you’d like to know about me more?

– Is there a topic you’d like to see me write more about?

– Is there a question you have based on something you read?

Let me know 🙂

Advertisements

Never Alone

We sung this song at church today and I just love it. There’s something so great about singing gospel truth out loud!

 

We’re not alone, for Christ is here

Immanuel our God come near

We’re not alone, for to our world

Jesus has come, eternal Word.

And as he speaks, our souls laid bare

Naked, ashamed, sin is made clear

And yet he clothes us in his love

Never alone, Christ is with us, is with us.

 

The longest walk, earth’s darkest day

The pressing crowd, his mounting pain.

A heavy load of grief and shame

Breathless that we should breathe again.

“Father forgive them,” comes his cry

Silence from God blackens the sky.

A creeping dread in every heart

Lost in the world now God departs, God departs.

 

The dawn will come, the sun will rise

Out of the grave we’ll see hope’s light.

Tomb opened wide, stone rolled away

Morning has come, a brand new day.

“He isn’t here,” the angel said.

“He is alive no longer dead.”

Our hearts are lifted, souls raised high

Christ is with us, Christ is our life, he’s our life.

 

Never alone, is now our cry

In joy, in grief, in lonely sin.

Never alone, for Christ is ours

He lives in us, we live in him.

And ’til we reach that final day

When fears are gone, cast far away

We’ll live secure, trust in his love,

Never alone, Christ is with us, he’s with us.

 

P1070108

 

From Emu Music

Still Smiling

It was the first night of our honeymoon. We arrived at our accommodation too late to order food in-house, so we ventured out into the night in search of a restaurant.

We didn’t have to look far – we found the one pub in the one-pub town and let ourselves into the cosy room. There were a few locals standing down one end of the bar, near the fireplace, and one woman serving them drinks.

They all stopped laughing and looked at us when we walked in. It felt like we’d walked into someone’s private dinner party by mistake.

They looked us over.

“Let me guess,” said one of the older men, “you’re staying at Eagle View?”

“Yep,” said my husband, “We’re on our honeymoon.”

He squeezed my hand and I beamed back at him.

“Remember what that looks like,” one of the swaying, middle-aged men said to my husband, gesturing at my smiling face. “You’ll never see it again.”

001041


Isn’t it amazing, all the things a smile communicates when sent in the direction of our husbands?

I love you.

I appreciate you.

I’m glad you’re here.

I’m glad I’m here.

I’m excited to see you.

Welcome back!

I’m thinking about you.

I’m happy when I’m around you.

I enjoy your company.


 

Those sobering words from the slightly drunk stranger on our honeymoon were easy to brush off as a couple of love-drunk newly-weds. But as time wears on, they take on a greater significance and importance.

Because sometimes it is hard to muster up a smile, when the days are long and real life weighs heavily on us. But all those messages I listed – the messages we can send with a smile? They’re still things I want to say to him.

So, eight years on and I’m still smiling up at him. Sometimes it’s an intentional show of love. Sometimes it’s a spontaneous burst of joy.

But I’m still here and I’m still smiling.

 

A Framework for Biblical Decision-Making

We each face many decisions in life, many are small and some are big. In most of these decisions, the Bible is clear about what we should do.

In some of them however, the right path to take might not be immediately obvious. It could be because we know the right thing to do deep down, but it’s hard, so we “wrestle” with it a bit. Or it could be because the situation is complex, involving a number of different Biblical principles.

I am in the midst of one such decision at the moment, where it is not clear what I should do. Below are some questions I am working through, as a kind of framework for Biblical decision-making. I haven’t gone through all these questions thoroughly yet (I’m taking my time with #6), but these are the kinds of things I’ve been thinking through (and talking through with my husband and friends) as I prepare to make a decision.

The Bible tells us that “[God’s] divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3) and that “if any of [us] lacks wisdom, [we] should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to [us]” (James 1:5).

We already have everything we need to live a godly life through the knowledge of God given to us in the Bible. And if we lack wisdom about how to understand and apply that knowledge, we only need to ask Him, and he will supply it!

That gives me great hope, even though I don’t yet have the all the answers about what to do. I trust that as I seek out God’s wisdom and dig deeper into the knowledge of Him, he will provide His wisdom to me.

 


The first two questions are already answered (with help from the children’s catechism) to help set the tone.

What is the purpose of your life? To glorify God and enjoy him forever.

How can you glorify God? By loving him and obeying him.

  1. How can you best love God in this situation?
  2. How can you best love the people involved in this situation?
  3. How can your decision promote the gospel of God’s grace to unbelievers?
  4. How can you best love and serve your brothers and sisters in Christ?
  5. Which sins (of either commission or omission) need to be avoided?
  6. Which Bible passages apply here and how?
  7. Is it a decision between right and wrong; between wise and foolish; or between two equally right and wise things?
  8. What might the consequences of either decision be? (This question might not apply to your situation if it’s a question of right or wrong. When it comes to obeying God, it is not for us to worry about the consequences. But in cases where either option would be obedient to Him, then it might be helpful to consider the consequences as you weigh your decision.)
  9. What are my feelings about this situation? How might they be deceiving me?

DSC_0076

A prayer for wisdom:

Dear Lord,

You are so good and so merciful. You have given me everything I need to live a godly life, through your divine power. You richly meet all my needs so that I am lacking nothing.

You can see all things and you know all things. You know the depths of everything that has happened here, even into the hearts of all people involved.

Lord, my desire is to bring you glory. I want nothing more than to lead others to know your name and to praise your name!

Please give me wisdom. Please open up your word to me so that I can grow in knowledge of you. I pray that you would give me to wisdom to see what would bring you the most glory in this situation.

I pray that you would help me to obey you, even when it’s hard. And I pray that you would help me to stand firm in my convictions.

May your name be glorified in all I do,

Amen.

 

A Year to be Thankful For

Another year draws to a close. Another set of milestones passed… 8 years married, our daughter has finished her first year of school.

This year was also really hard for us, in some very strange and unexpected ways.

I always think it’s interesting to compare my vision for the year as I look ahead (when I set goals and make plans) with the reality of the year that was. As much as I love to plan and dream and imagine what the year might look like, there are always things that catch me by surprise. There are always things that can’t be anticipated or planned for.

It really drives home the message of Proverbs 16:9:

In their hearts humans plan their course,
    but the Lord establishes their steps.

And even through all the difficult things that have happened this year, there is so much to be thankful for. So I decided to close out 2017 by making a list of all the things I am thankful to God for:

  • Another year of getting to stay home and look after these precious kids.
  • That my husband has a job which provides for us and means I can stay home with the kids.
  • My wonderful husband – all the ways he loves me, leads me and nurtures me in the Lord (could write a whole post about him, TBH 🙂 ).
  • The way God has grown my love for learning about Him and following Him more deeply this year.
  • Surviving my daughter’s first year of school (and my first year as a school mum!!).
  • My amazing friends who came through in such supportive and encouraging ways this year, through some really hard times.
  • My wonderful church and Bible study family who also supported our family through prayer, encouragement and practical support.
  • God’s mercy and grace to me – there are so many times this year when I have been aware of His mercy, of how he has actively held back worse things that could have happened!
  • God’s patience with me, even as I stumble and fall.
  • God’s provision and help in my first year as a MOPS coordinator, working through me despite all my self-doubt and lack of organisational ability.
  • For all the beauty surrounding me inside and outside of my house, for small pleasures like nice sunny days, rain when it’s needed, a quiet cup of tea before anyone else wakes up and falling into a soft, warm bed tangled up with someone I love each night.

It’s been a strange, beautiful, hard year. Here’s to the next one!

 

When Christmas Time Sucks

I wrote this last year, but I thought it would be good to share again. It’s a helpful thing to remember, whether Christmas is a joyful or a painful experience for you.

seriously serving the saviour

My daughter has a flair for the dramatic (she gets it from her Daddy).

The other day she declared, out of nowhere, “Mummy, if we do the wrong thing then Christmas will be RUINED!”

(Actually, now that I think of it, it kind of sounds like the “be good or else” Santa propaganda that is everywhere this time of year… I jest. Kind of 😉 )

But we had a big chat about how you can’t ruin Christmas by doing the wrong thing. And in fact, when we do the wrong thing (or sin, as we call it), that just proves why we need Christmas.

I reminded her that Christmas is about God sending Jesus to become a man and take the punishment for our sins so that we can be His friends again.

dsc_0068

I think sometimes adults can feel like Christmas is ruined too. Not because we did something…

View original post 458 more words

Planning for a Great School Holiday

Yesterday I wrote about all the things that I love about summer holidays – both the busy, joyful moments and the quiet ones.

But as much as I love school holidays in general, and the (longer) summer holidays especially, I do get a bit nervous about having so much unstructured time with all the kids at home.

Isn’t that weird? I love the unstructured time with my kids, but it’s also what stresses me out.

I guess I worry that the kids will get bored, then I’ll get stressed, then the house will get trashed and by the end of holidays, we’ll all just end up in a big ball of chaos and angst.

So. I did what I always do when I start to worry about things…

I prayed about it, and then I took out pen and paper and made a plan.

dsc_0032.jpg

I haven’t included my full mind map in this picture to protect the privacy of my kids, but my plan for the summer holidays has three basic categories:

  • Ideas and Activities
  • Home management
  • Personal focus areas

Ideas and Activities

This is where I write out all the things the kids and I might like to do for fun in the holidays. For some of you, this might include special events or displays aimed at kids. For us, we prefer more low-key activities that are based in our home or where there are not likely to be large crowds.

I’ve also listed ideas for crafts to make or things to cook with the kids.

Some of these things will be for when my husband has time off work, but most of it will be done with just the kids and I.

Here’s some of the things on our list:

  • baking muffins
  • making paper chains
  • wrapping presents for each other
  • making an obstacle course outside
  • water play in the back yard
  • climbing a local mountain

DSC_0061_6

Home Management

I like to use the extra time each school holidays to tackle those jobs that fall to the side in the busyness of normal life. Those areas that have accumulated clutter or that one corner that is too difficult to reach with the vacuum cleaner normally.

The “too hard basket”, if you like.

When I mentioned this to my husband the other day, he said, “How does that work – that you have all the kids with you, but you have extra time?”

I explained to him that there’s more time in some ways – we don’t have the school drop off, pick up and associated “leaving the house” preparation to do each day. But in other ways it’s harder – sometimes the kids get a bit irritable around each other, especially if we stay in the house too much. So there is a balance to be found. But yes, there can be extra time for house work in the holidays!

Here’s some things on my list for home management:

  • tidy my desk
  • check the kids have the correct uniforms for next year
  • do our annual toy cull
  • declutter and cull my craft drawers

 

Personal Focus Areas

This is the space where I wrote out, for my self and each child, areas for personal development I would like us to work on during the holidays. It includes things like an attitude problem that needs to be worked out with one child. Or a practical skill that another child might be behind on.

Sometimes I think these things get left behind in the normal routine of the school term (even though they shouldn’t!), so it’s good to be intentional about addressing these things with our kids. Everyone has areas they struggle, but the key is to struggle and work through it. We don’t need to just accept that a bad attitude is just part of one kid’s personality, and some practical skills really need direct instruction.

This is kind of like a smaller, more short-term version of the yearly personal goals I set.

Here’s some of the things I’ve included for myself:

  • exercise regularly
  • read 2 books
  • patience with the kids

As I mentioned above, I’m not going to mention specifically what my kids are working on for the sake of their privacy. These are not things I have told them they should work on, rather they are things that I try to work into the natural flow of our days.

DSC_0082_6

How do you manage school holidays? Do you make a plan, or do you go with the flow?

 

 

 

What I Love about Summer Holidays

Easy mornings with Christmas music playing.

One on one time with my big girl when the boys are napping.

DSC_0037_6

The smell of sunscreen mixed with sweat on our skin.

The kids shrieking and chasing each other around the back yard while I hang the washing on the line.

An almost-cool breeze as we sit in the shade of the olive tree.

DSC_0102_4

Warm sunrises and glorious sunsets.

Impromptu craft sessions with the kids.

Hot naps on the couch in the afternoon.

Backyard water-play with the hose and allllll the bath toys.

Catch ups with friends at the park.

Listening to the thunderstorms roll in after a scorching hot day.

DSC_0841