Scattered thoughts…

I’ve almost written a few blog posts recently, but have held off as my thoughts are not quite fully formed yet. (I’ll get there, lol.)

So here is an offering of some bits and pieces that I’ve been thinking about lately.

 

Simple Pleasures

In this season of life I have been enjoying the many simple pleasures throughout my day.

  • Playing with my kids and making them laugh heartily
  • The neighbour’s chicken that keeps getting into our yard.
  • Watching my daughter learn to read.
  • The warm sun that pierces through the cold winter air.
  • Waking up before sunrise and my children and just taking a minute to watch the light peaking over the hills.
  • My baby (toddler?) who has learnt how to cuddle.

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From Milk to Meat

When I had our third baby last year, I knew things would be crazy for a while. Not only was it hard to find time, but I also felt like my brain couldn’t quite cope with the in-depth Bible study I used to do on my own.
So, I made sure I was still listening to God in His word over that year, but it was mostly in the form of Bible verses stuck up around the house or specific passages memorised or a longer section read every once in a while.

I was sustaining myself on the “milk” version of God’s word – enough to keep me fed, but not forever.
Now, I have been enjoying getting back into the more “meaty” study of God’s word. Specifically, the book of Romans at the moment. There is just so much good stuff in there!

Reading Romans Like

I have printed out this bookmark from Women Living Well, which shows you which colours to highlight Bible verses according to their main theme. This has been really helpful for me, because it forces me to concentrate and really think about what the passage is saying.
I’m very much a pen and paper kind of girl – writing things down really helps me to take them in and absorb the concepts. I usually pull out my journal and do some kind of visual representation of what I’ve read.
Sometimes that looks like this:

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And other times it looks more like this:

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So I guess I would just like to offer a word of encouragement to my sisters in Christ – if you have been struggling to get into the Word or to really make time for in-depth study of the Bible, don’t neglect it any longer!

You can “not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Just like you take the time to feed yourself every day, don’t neglect feeding yourself spiritually.


Scared of the Dark

Our older two kids have been starting to say that they are afraid when it’s dark at night or they are scared that baddies are going to get them (they share a room).

I’m sure sometimes it’s just one tool in the toolbox of “ways to avoid bedtime”, but still, I think it’s important to listen to their heart and always use these opportunities to shepherd them towards Jesus.

So we’ve been working on memorising Psalm 27:1

The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?

Once we go over the verse a few times, we work through it’s meaning.

If you’re scared because it’s dark, remember that God is always with you and he will be your light.

What’s a stronghold? Well, it’s kind of like a big, tall tower that no baddies can get into. When you trust in God, he will keep you safe.

What does is mean that the Lord is your salvation? Well, the truly scary and dangerous thing in life is your own sin, because being a sinner means you deserve death. But the wonderful thing is that God sent Jesus to die on the cross and come back to life so that you can be saved from what you deserve. That’s why it’s great that the Lord is your salvation, because it means you don’t have to be afraid of anything!

 

I want our kids to know that no matter what is troubling them in life, God’s word is alive and relevant to them. They can turn to Him and find truth and clarity for whatever their situation.


 

So there you go – I’m over here enjoying the simple pleasures in life, carving up a big slab of Romans and teaching our kids how to apply the Bible to their lives.

What have you been up to?

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My Mother’s Feet

I looked over at my mother’s feet.

Hardened. Calloused. Cracking heels.

My teenage mind thought it was gross.

How could she let her feet get like that? I wondered. Doesn’t she know there are things you can do to keep them nice?

Every now and then my sister and I would give her foot spas, pumice off the dry skin, paint her toenails.

She would gladly indulge us.

And then her feet would return to their usual state.

 


My mother’s feet have always been busy.

And I don’t mean she travelled very far. But she always seemed to be doing something…

Jumping up to get Dad his medication.

Running outside to get the washing in before the rain hit.

Skipping rope on the front lawn at dawn, because that was the only time she could find to exercise, and the only flat patch of grass on our block.

Running along the beach chasing our “pocket rocket” dog, Max.

To-ing and fro-ing across the worn kitchen tiles, feeding hungry mouths.

Standing up the front of church singing.

 


I looked down at my own feet the other day.

Dry. Hardened. Cracking around the sides.

Maybe I should do something about that, I thought.

Get some of the dry skin off, soften them up with some cream, paint the nails a nice colour…

But then I remembered that with these feet I can run barefoot across our backyard in 5 seconds flat to get to a screaming child.

And I don’t mind dashing up the driveway in the rain because I can hear the garbage truck coming and I forgot to put the bin out.

And I can climb into the olive tree to rescue a stranded toddler.

 


I look down at my feet.

My dry, hardened, beautiful, practical feet.

And I see my mother’s feet.

And I am so thankful that they are mine.

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Organisation is not a Luxury

For me, it is a necessity.

It’s be organised or live in complete chaos (and I definitely go through periods of each!).

I’m sure there are people out there who are naturally organised, and they can “go with the flow” and cope just fine. But when I don’t make lists and plans, things get forgotten and left undone all over the place, we are late to events, and I become a frazzled mess!

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I used to sit down each Sunday evening, put on some nice music and write out a plan/loose schedule for the week ahead. I would start by writing in the “set in stone” events and appointments (Bible Study, MOPS, etc), then I would add daily tasks/activities (like reading the Bible, doing dishes, etc), then housework chores (vacuuming, cleaning bathroom, etc) and then anything else like exercise or writing time.

Now, I certainly didn’t always stick to this plan. Things would crop up, and I would just go with it. But having that plan there as a guide for the week really helped in those times when I would fine myself between activities and think “what now?”. Instead of just defaulting to a time waster, I could quickly look at my plan and see what I was “supposed” to be doing, and get right back on track.

I’ve really got out of the habit of doing this, and just decided to get back into the groove recently.

I told my husband this on Sunday night, and he said, “I think that’s a good idea – you’ve been at a bit of a loose end lately.”

So there you go – when I don’t take the time to plan, it has implications for my external demeanour and behaviour!

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The other thing I find helpful every now and then is a “brain dump”. That’s where I just grab my notebook and write, in point form, literally everything that is on my mind. Last time I did this I filled three pages in one sitting!

I find doing this really takes the mental load off my shoulders, because I don’t feel the pressure of retaining all that information – I’ve written it down so I can let it go.

 

How about you, is organisation a necessity for you? Or do you go with the flow?

 


 

Other resources:

Work What Works for You – A helpful blog post by Elspeth

Organise Your Home and Your Attitude – A fantastic podcast by Jess Connell

 


 

And, my most recent post on the MOPS blog, Successful Breastfeeding.

 

 

 

In the Twilight of the Year

Twilight has long been my favourite time of day.

When my husband and I were dating, we used to go for long walks around the neighbourhood on warm summer evenings, after the sun had set but the light still lingered. We would just talk and hold hands and explore.

Now, twilight is often my time for gathering things back together. It might be when B has the kids in the bath and I’ve put the baby to bed. Or sometimes after all the kids have been tucked in for an early night.

I wander around the house picking up the toys, sweeping up the crumbs, wiping up the messes and scraping off the plates. The slow and steady work of bringing order to the chaos.

The next day always seems to start off more smoothly when I take this time to wrap up one day’s activities and prepare for the next.

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And so here we are now, in the twilight of the year.

The sun has set on 2016, but the light lingers for a few more weeks.

I look back on all that has happened this year – all the messes we made, and the fun that was had, and the moments I wasn’t sure how I would make it out alive – and I just want to spend some time now, carefully gathering my thoughts and putting everything back in order.

I want to take the time to properly reflect on 2016 so that I’m ready for 2017.

 

The Highlight:

Definitely the birth of our third child! It’s always amazing welcoming a new little person into the family, and watching everyone grow and shift and adjust until you suddenly can’t remember what the family was like without them.

A bit of family trivia for you – we’ve now had a baby in each house we’ve lived in since being married!
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The Lowlight:

For sure the hardest part of this year was those 3 or so winter months where at least one of us was sick at all times, and when baby T’s feeding issues had come to a head.

He was feeding every hour or so throughout the day and yet his weight gain was slowing. I started working with a lactation consultant who diagnosed him with tongue and upper lip tie. We had those cut, but things didn’t immediately improve. In fact, because of all the problems and a drop in hormones, my milk supply took a hit. So I had to go on medication for that and then I started him on solids when he was 4.5 months.

We persisted and our family eventually got healthy again and here we are, with a happy little 8 month old boy who brings immense joy to our family! (But if I never go through another period like that, I will be glad! And yet… )

 

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Where did I grow the most?

Through everything that has happened this year, my faith in God has grown so much.

And I really resonate with this verse:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

I know without a doubt that the faith I have (and had this year) in God – the way that I was able to trust Him even when things were hard – was totally not from myself. It was truly a gift from God that I was able to keep believing in Him through all the pain and stress.

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Where do I need to improve?

I really need to grow in patience. I find myself getting frustrated with the kids (and even my husband) rather easily lately.

This is one area in my heart that the Lord really needs to take the pruning shears to.

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If you’ve read my blog for long, you’ll know I’m pretty big on planning and lists and the like.

So the interesting thing to me, as I look back on this year is that none of the “big things” were things I had planned or foreseen.

I’m not going to stop planning, but for me it is a helpful reminder that I am not in control, and that God has a plan for my life beyond what I can see.

 

How about you – do you like to reflect on the year that has been? What thoughts and events are you gathering back together in the twilight of this year?

 

What’s Your Default?

I’m a huge fan of learning from other women, particularly when it comes to practical stuff like child-rearing and home-making. I’m sure most of the good ideas I use daily came from watching and learning!

So I was delighted to read this blog post by Jess Connell recently, called Here’s What I Learned Watching my Friend be ‘Busy at Home’. She talks about several tips she picked up by observing her friend.

Here’s the one that stood out to me:

#7- CHOOSE TO HAVE A DEFAULT POSTURE OF BUSYNESS, NOT IDLENESS

I noticed throughout the week that her default “position” was at the kitchen sink. This may be the most important of all… not that we all stand around in our kitchens all day… but that her position was one that put her in a ready position to field meals, cleaning, and the family calendar. Did you ever play baseball or softball? “Get into position!” meant to hustle to the spot where you would be most advantageously used for the position you were playing. THAT is what I saw in my friend Kelly. She was “in position” for much of the day, doing dishes, preparing treats for her gluten-free son, checking out the calendar to be ready for what was coming, browsing a cookbook for something tasty that night, etc. Her default position was one of busyness, not idleness.

I found it particularly challenging because if I think about it, my default “position” throughout the day is probably sitting at my laptop, reading news or current affairs sites. Sure, I do plenty of other things, but that’s where I bounce back to in between activities. And it’s a default position of idleness, for sure.

Since I read this last week, I’ve been actively trying to change my default to one of busyness. Like the mum mentioned in Jess’s article, the kitchen is probably a good central place for me to default to. It’s where my planner lives, and there is always something I can do there – dishes to wash, food to prepare, floor to sweep. So I’ve been making more of an effort to head back to the kitchen when I seem to have a spare moment, or when I’m not sure what to do next. There, I either just start doing something or check in with my planner to find out what I should do next (I usually mentally divide tasks into things that can be done with “kids awake” or “kids asleep”).

The results are that I’m getting a lot more done! (Surprise!) And I don’t have as much of the restless “I should be doing something, but I don’t know what” feeling.

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My kitchen doesn’t always look like this, but when it does, I take a picture!

But I’ve been thinking about this concept of our “default”, and I think it applies beyond just busyness/idleness.

Here are some other questions I’ve been thinking through:

  • Is my default demeanour one of cheerfulness and laughter, or sombreness and sighs? (Remember, we’re talking about what our default mindset is, not our constant mindset!) I remember once I sighed and my daughter asked me, “Mummy, why did you say *sigh*?” I hadn’t done so consciously, so it was a good reminder that my children are watching how I carry myself, and that they pick up so much from the unspoken things. Sometimes I remind myself to put the smile back on my face as I finish something more serious, like disciplining a child or concentrating on a physical task. I’m not talking about fake-smiling (plastering on a smile to mask real feelings of despair) – but I often find that when I consciously put a smile on my face, I feel more happy (or maybe I remember that I am happy). Another method I use to reset the mood is bursting out in song or making a loud, silly noise (I have preschoolers – they think I’m hilarious).

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Proverbs 17:22

  • When I face hard circumstances, do I default to worrying and fretting, or do I take my concerns to God in prayer? This is one the Lord has really been impressing upon my heart lately – just how much worry is a waste of time. Sometimes I will spend half a day worrying about something, going over scenarios in my head, trying to think of ways to fix it but coming up short, which leads to more worry. Then I remember to pray. And I put my concerns in God’s hands and walk away from it. And I breathe easy. And I wonder why it took me so long to do, realising that I just wasted a whole morning’s worth of thoughts. God wants us to bring our concerns to him – he has the power to take away our anxiety and also to fix what is troubling us (even if that doesn’t always look how we imagined). If we truly believe this, we should work to make our default response one of prayer.

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Matthew 6:27

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

1 Peter 5:7

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I’d love to hear your thoughts – what do you default to?

Idleness or busyness?

Cheerfulness or sombreness?

Worry or prayer?

 

 

 

Faith and Forgetfulness

I’ve noticed that when God wants to teach me something, I see that message pop up in various places.

Lately, it seems like God’s been driving home the message that I need to respond with faith in Him when I am met with various challenges and worries in life.

Here’s a passage I read the other day from “Practical Theology for Women” (by Wendy Horger Alsup):

We see this problem of provision and forgetfulness over and over throughout the Old and New Testaments – and over and over in our own lives. God does something big, and we simply forget. We forget that he provided for us last time. We forget that he worked things together so well for us to get our last job, buy our last house, have our last child. We worry and fret over new problems when we really should know better. The problem is not that we have never seen God provide for us before. The problem is not that he’s asking us to respond in a way that is radically different from previous situations; that problem is that we forget the ways he’s proven himself in the past and fret over how we are going to provide for ourselves in the new situation, Exhibiting little conviction of the truth of God’s promises is especially troublesome when he’s proven himself faithful so many times before.

Can you relate?

I can.

Today I was listening to this new Sara Groves song, I’ve Been Here Before, and it talks about the same thing – finding ourselves in the same, but different, situations throughout life. And I love that Sara addresses how to respond in faith – we remember God’s grace that he has shown to us before. We remember how to walk in faith, because God has shown himself faithful before.

 

What Makes a Good Mothering Community?

Here’s an article I had published on Growing Faith recently.

What makes a good mothering community?

Finding a supportive community to join you in your parenting journey.

 

Have you ever considered why it’s so common for stay-at-home Mums to talk about feeling isolated or lonely? How often do we go back to work because “I just needed some adult conversation”?

We diagnose the problem as a woman losing herself in the midst of early parenthood. And the solution presents itself as finding something – whether work or hobby – to reclaim her identity and remind her that she is someone apart from “Mum”.

However, I’m convinced our problem is often not a lack of personal identity, but a lack of community identity.

Read the rest at https://growingfaith.com.au/parenting/what-makes-a-good-mothering-community