Thankful Rest

…our news feeds and Instagram reels show just one perspective of reality

There is this argument that says that Instagram is just a highlights reel. It’s not the every second of every day that gives a holistic perspective of reality. It is one focus and one side. Mainly they are discussing Authenticity and Integrity in the online world. However, it is true that our news feeds and Instagram reels show just one perspective of reality. We do it with our mindset too like when we write in a Gratitude journal or use the first 5-10 minutes of the day to intentionally set our head space. We get to choose what we focus on.

We can start to focus on the storm and questions become worries becomes anxiety

Life can get overwhelming and busy fast, that is not always something we can change no matter how hard we try to minimise, simplify and declutter. We can start to focus on the storm and questions become worries becomes anxiety. Doing the next right thing seems more difficult because we can’t see the beginning from the end. It suddenly becomes bigger than we are. Especially when our dreams and plans shatter into a hundred pieces and we are left crying on the floor wondering how there can even be a next – hard, crazy, messy life.

When we hit the bottom and we feel we have nothing left to give, we can still give thanks

But the next, that is the perspective shift. When we hit the bottom and we feel we have nothing left to give, we can still give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18). We can look for the calm in the storm. The fact that everything works together and regardless of what happens He knows, He has a plan. That is the beautiful thing about Genesis 50:20 ‘As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.’ – he is a preemptive God and its not a surprise to Him that you are where you are, even if you didn’t see it coming. It may not have been of Him, but it can be used for Him. He knows the plan and we can focus on him – ‘I lift up my eyes to the mountains– where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.’ Psalm 121:1

Rest if you trust. Not rest if you try and do it yourself by taking a nap then getting up and going on rest.

As we shift our perspective, lift our eyes (Psalms 121:1) and give thanks we can come to the call in Matthew 11:28 to ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.’ Rest if you trust. Not rest if you try and do it yourself by taking a nap then getting up and going on rest. Real rest, even when life wants to overwhelm and destroy our peace. It is not easy. It is hard. So we can practice, we can get up again and try again. If we work on giving thanks and resting day to day, when the big things come, it is part of what we do.

…you don’t have to do it all in your own strength… you have a backup that is consistent and present

When life gets hard, and we hit our weaknesses we can be encouraged by 2 Corinthians 12:9 ‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in . Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.’ There is that rest word again, you don’t have to do it all in your own strength. Even when your parenting solo – you have a backup that is consistent and present. It is what Graham Cooke wrote in ‘Why I am not Desperate for God‘. It is what they mean when you read ‘Fully known and Deeply Loved’. He wont leave us or forsake us. You don’t miss out on Grace and Love and Presence just because there is no backup human-parent-person. You can be thankful for Him, trust and rest because of Him.

Create an honest authentic highlight reel

Those first 5-10 minutes of every day – use those to set your head space up well. They are powerful – just like the first two hours of the day are supposed to be the most productive. Use them well. Create an honest authentic highlight reel. Remember you are loved and love wins. Give Thanks. Lift your eyes. Rest.

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Worth

When I first started setting up my daughters room I purchased two prints to hang above her bed. One says ‘You are loved with an everlasting love’ (The Grace Place) and the other ‘you are beautiful, unique, chosen, loved, set apart, accepted’ (Susanna April) because that is what I want to speak over and into her – even when my actions are not quite so loving.

…My worth is nothing more than a history of worthlessness

That is what I want to speak over her, because me – who am I to be beautiful, unique, chosen, loved, set apart, accepted? Now that I am a single parent does my value rest upon the way I have been treated- does the fact that I have an ex-partner define my worth? The fact that having birthed two children means I have stretch marks and scars, both physical and emotional, that want to tell me my worth is nothing more than a history of worthlessness.

In ‘The Whole-Brain Child‘ Dan Siegel writes:

‘As children develop, their brains “mirror” their parent’s brain. In other words, the parent’s own growth and development, or lack of those, impact the child’s brain… That means that integrating and cultivating your own brain is one of the most loving and generous gifts you can give your children.’

So really I can speak these words over my child but I also have to believe them about myself too if I want them to have power. If I see myself as worthless how likely is it that my children’s brains will mirror that pattern of thinking.

…My primary identity as a Child of God

As I was talking to a friend about identity I was reminded that while a significant part of my identity currently is being a parent, even greater is my primary identity as a Child of God. That is the only fixed identity I have. All the others are secondary and changeable. Within parenting I can be a young parent, partnered, single parent, ex-partner, working mother, stay at home mother – all of these carry different values to different people and some days I will be one and not another.

Can we see our worth as coming from our commanding officer rather than all the people around us?

In 2 Timothy 2:4 it says ‘No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.’ – can we see our worth as coming from our commanding officer rather than all the people around us? Because then we get to look at Hebrews 2:11  ‘Jesus, who makes people holy, and all those who are made holy have the same Father. That is why Jesus isn’t ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.’ – our commanding officer says He is not ashamed of us. If we go out and get entangled in civilian affairs we are quickly going to get lost in all our secondary identities and all the people that don’t love us, mistreat us or hurt us. In a sea of worthlessness, shame and guilt.

We can believe the plan is much bigger, our value is much more and that where we are is just a step towards something greater

We don’t have to give power to secondary identities that want to take away our value. We don’t have to believe that they are the definition of who we are. We can believe the plan is much bigger, our value is much more and that where we are is just a step towards something greater. The single most powerful thing I have read this week was Genesis 50:20 ‘As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.’ That is what Joseph says to his brothers- the ones that threw him into a pit and sold him into slavery, where he ended up in prison for years. His brothers did not see value in him. Instead of focusing on his Brothers value of him and living in a place of worthlessness, he was able to see a much larger plan with a God that preempted their actions and used it to save lives.

You are loved with an everlasting love, beautiful, unique, chosen, loved, set apart, and accepted.

I am loved with an everlasting love, beautiful, unique, chosen, loved, set apart, and accepted.

 

New Keys, New Start, Broken Heart

And so starting a blog is easy, you get an idea and a plan then you slowly work towards making it happen. It is easy to create a long term vision. Then along comes a big wave and you get thrown over and spun 180 degrees the other way and wash up on the beach not really sure how you got there. You can’t really go back into the wave, the only real way is forward. It’s like the Bear Hunt story – you can’t go over it, you can’t go around it, you have to go through it.

It’s like the Bear Hunt story – you can’t go over it, you can’t go around it, you have to go through it.

When I decided to create a blog about intentionally building a home, I had this idea of what a home looked like. Then in a matter of months I became a single parent of two children, living in a two bedroom apartment. An apartment that can only really be called a blessing as it came at just the right time, in just the right place. Was it even possible to write a blog about home building when my home fell?

And so broken imperfect messy families are where Grace can shine through if we let it. They are still families and we can still parent with intention.

I was taken back to something I wrote a few months ago. What our children don’t need is to see our perfection that leaves them floundering in their own imperfection. They need to see authenticity and the consequences of decisions. If they see our false perfection how much more likely are they to live out our failure? And so broken imperfect messy families are where Grace can shine through if we let it. They are still families and we can still parent with intention. We can still see that if this is not the end, then surely, maybe, it is a middle or beginning? It is just a different plan to the one we had. Its a quite voice of Hope. It doesn’t negate the pain – but as I read ‘ Girl meets Change’ by Kristen Strong I am reminded that change is part of growth and ‘Time doesn’t heal all wounds – time with the Healer does’.

That maybe right now, this is the season we need, even if we don’t know why.

Healing happens as we let go of our paper thin dreams, desires and wants. We just have to jump and let go of control and trust, for me, a God that is higher and greater. That maybe right now, this is the season we need, even if we don’t know why. Even if it hurts, and feels like such a complicated mess that we cannot seem to fathom how to unravel any of it.

So the words of Isaiah 61.3 ring true ‘To all who mourn in Israel, He will give a crown of ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.’ and Isaiah 43.19 ‘Behold, I am doing a new thing’ now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.’

We still have purpose, our family still has a purpose – its only the end if we let it be. So we begin to rebuild the walls

And so I am learning to let go, lean in, breathe and trust. When I was handed new keys, I was also handed a new start. A new home that needs building, the start of another sanctuary, refuge and shelter. We still have purpose, our family still has a purpose – its only the end if we let it be. So we begin to rebuild the walls.

Beauty from Ashes

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Having

I have taken a break for the last few weeks to welcome in the New Year and relax and refocus. I have in part neglected my blogging. However, I am back. There have been many things I have been thinking about over the last few weeks, but one of the biggest things has been the idea of having everything I need. How is it when we feel we cannot pay bills or factor food shopping in for meals that we can believe we have everything we need? We have small children, so not having a lot of money is standard.

So those moments of feeling like we did not have enough, did not have everything we needed, helped to magnify and focus on the moments when those needs were actually provided

Yet, the great irony of the situation was that on the week we were suppose to have no food I had mangoes and fresh berries for breakfast. The day my shoes fell apart, I was able to get new shoes. The month I did a wardrobe stock take and felt I did not have enough clothes, I soon had enough clothes. So those moments of feeling like we did not have enough, did not have everything we needed, helped to magnify and focus on the moments when those needs were actually provided. On an even bigger level, we sometimes get provided with things we don’t even need, things we want. In hindsight we see our family provided for in many ways and so moving forward we need to keep that perspective so as to not worry and fear.

It can be so easy to focus on the things we need… this so often means that we can loose a perspective of gratitude in those moments

It can be so easy to focus on the things we need, especially when those needs are things like bills to be paid and food to eat or houses to live in. Yet, this so often means that we can loose a perspective of gratitude in those moments. There is always something to be thankful for. You can always read Glennon’s post Give me Gratitude or Give me Debt if you don’t believe me. It also does not mean we can’t do house renovations, but does mean we should do it from a place of Gratitude. Which again reminds me how behavior is never the best judge of heart. Because the behavior and outcome can so often look the same even when the heart attitude may be so very different to someone else.

If I can afford to have a dirty shirt missing, and still be wearing clothes, then I really do have clothing

When I went through my wardrobe, it was so easy to see how little I had, how everyone else in the family had more. To feel undervalued as a result, feel like I did not have everything I needed. Yet, when I stepped back and put things into perspective, there was a dirty shirt on the floor that had been mislaid. If I can afford to have a dirty shirt missing, and still be wearing clothes, then I really do have clothing. I want more than a few outfits, but I don’t necessarily need more than a few. Then I was able to get a few more and now I have lots.

When we have what we need before we need it, sometimes we miss the opportunity to be grateful for it

So I think that not having is sometimes a good thing, because it really does help us to be thankful and focus on the times when things are provided for us even if we don’t believe it will happen. When we have what we need before we need it, sometimes we miss the opportunity to be grateful for it. While sometimes things come together at the very very last minute and a lot later than I really would have liked it to happen, it still happens. If we are focused on being grateful there is not a lot of room to focus on being worried and fearful.

I have everything I need

So despite the moments, when I feel like we are not going to make it through a tough time, I do believe I have everything I need, not just in terms of things but also skills. So no matter what the circumstance, I can be confident and remember what I do have and what has been provided for me. So this year, I am trying to remember I have everything I need.

A New Year

Yet again we welcome a new year, with new possibilities and plans. We look at what we have achieved, we think about what we want to achieve and in general do a lot of reflection. I know having a new year helps us let go of the old year and marks an ability to move on. Yet I am unsure why exactly we must do this every year and not every day.

If we treated every day like new years eve, we would constantly be assessing our direction and focus of energy. It also allows us to place things behind ourselves more easily, so that we can move on. How much lighter does the first few days of January feel compared to the last few days of December.

Maybe for us, this is a little bit easier as we are now painting the house, a physical reminder of refreshing. It is lovely to see the new colour going on, modernizing the place – but it does lead me to reflect on my motivation for updating the house colour and furniture. I could easily be grateful and content with what I have. However, the spaces have so much more potential to serve our family. I don’t want to update the place because I need to be on trend or to impress others. I want to update the house so each room invites me to rest and feel at ease. These are my internal motivators.

At new years eve, it is so normal to reflect on those motivators, the driving force for my doing. So this year I am hoping to keep remembering to reflect on those motivators. To make more space for intentional rest, especially with how easy it is to become busy. To continue to work on our home and house holistically – emotionally, physically and spiritually.

If I can keep coming back to  my place of rest, how much easier is it for me to come back to a place of reflection and focus? If I can just make small amounts of time to be still – I can make sure I am focusing on the right things, and not wasting time and energy on things that do not matter.

Yet, on the opposite end of the spectrum, I want to spend more time in community  with other people – getting to know them, sharing with them, being with them. Realistically, I am not sure how I could live without all the other people around and so hopefully this year we can focus on community as well.

It is not just us that needs to focus on living intentionally in 2015, we can also invite our children to live with intention. Hopefully we can all step forward this year as if every day is New Years Eve – and really focus on the things that matter!

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Christmas Gift

I love the concept of being the change you want to see in your children. It really helps to focus on our own attitudes and responses – which we are actually able to change. So, when it comes to bringing up children who have a heart attitude that demonstrates love, I must first examine my attitudes and outworking of that.

I want them [our children] to see us giving because we have a lot to be grateful for and we value peoples contribution to our lives

One of my love languages is gift giving. I like to give people meaningful gifts. With a young family and not a lot of spare cash this has left me feeling divided this Christmas. It would be so easy to decide not to give gifts. However, when I reflect on what I want my children to see, I want them to see us giving because we have a lot to be grateful for and we value peoples contribution to our lives. I also believe that Christmas is about giving. Yet, I don’t want to go into debt, nor do I want to give people meaningless gifts because I feel obligated. How easy is it to feel obligated to get someone a gift because they give you one, or because you expect you will receive a gift? Instead, we should be able to give without any expectation of receiving. Not as a reward to good behavior, or with the expectation that the recipient must like and use it.

…at a time when people can feel isolated and overwhelmed we can demonstrate, through giving, that they are known and not alone!

The Dignity of being known came up in my news feed recently. I encourgage you to click through and read it. In part it talks about how we can show people we know them through giving them meaningful gifts. How awesome is that, at a time when people can feel isolated and overwhelmed we can demonstrate, through giving, that they are known and not alone! Yet in contrary, how isolating can obligated gift giving be.

I hope to demonstrate to my children that we can give authentic obligation free gifts

So this Christmas I hope to demonstrate to my children that we can give authentic obligation free gifts. Those gifts, they don’t even have to be things, they can be time listening to someone who needs to be listened to. They don’t even have to be on time – especially if money is tight and we don’t want to go into debt, sometimes they will come after the 25th of December. Sometimes, they don’t have to be given just because of a day.

As a parent we can demonstrate to our children that we know them and that we want to know them through simple acts of giving

Everyday we have opportunities to show people we know them and they are not alone. With a toddler it can be as simple as washing her favorite dress so it is clean when she asks for it the next day – because I know she will want to wear it. As a parent we can demonstrate to our children that we know them and that we want to know them through simple acts of giving. That we want to build a relationship and disciple them (the base word of discipline). The fundamental of that is knowing them.

When we write our list of people we want to get gifts for and struggle to come up with a gift for someone on that list, this year we can use that as a reminder to get to know them better.

Lets focus on Christmas again. When we write our list of people we want to get gifts for and struggle to come up with a gift for someone on that list, this year we can use that as a reminder to get to know them better. So that at Christmas time next year, we know that person well enough to get them a gift that says I know you, you are not alone.

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Messy Christmas

I want to be intentional about Christmas so we are not swept away in the commercialism

It is the first day of Advent, the season of Christmas. Wanting to start new traditions it has taken me a while to decide on what we are going to do. I want to be intentional about Christmas so we are not swept away in the commercialism. However it has taken me ages to decide upon what will be included and has meant that ‘Unwrapping the Greatest Gift’ by Ann Voskamp is in the post – we were supposed to start reading it today!

Our messy families – messy houses and messy humanity – feel like a stark contrast to the perfect ‘Peace on Earth’ happy families

It would be so easy for me to feel defeated by Christmas. Maybe Christmas snuck up on me because I am not a fan of Christmas. There are many dates in December that evoke negative emotions due to past memories. Our messy families – messy houses and messy humanity – feel like a stark contrast to the perfect ‘Peace on Earth’ happy families that are suppose to celebrate Christmas. The beautiful Christmas trees and constant positivity sets an expectation, so much in contrast, that makes me feel even more messy. Even more unable to embrace Christmas.

Instead I think back to a messy unplanned journey to a town where there was no place to stay, meaning a baby needed to be born in a stable. Birth is not exactly clean and I am not exactly sure what happened to that Placenta. There is nothing straight forward about that story. St Nicholas lost both his parents and spent time in prison – if that is not a messy life I am not sure what is.

That every time our messy juxtaposes with Peace on Earth we are reminded that we can have internal peace and external messy

What if instead of feeling depressed and defeated by our messy families this Christmas we embraced them and accepted that Christmas is as much about messy as it is about Peace on Earth. That every time our messy juxtaposes with Peace on Earth we are reminded that we can have internal peace and external messy. It’s not about being good to receive presents, or preforming to some expectation.

…there will be days in December that evoke negative emotions. On those days I can seek internal Peace

This year I am intentionally going to accept that Christmas is as much messy as Peace on Earth-y. That Advent doesn’t have to be perfect as long as it helps me remember to be still, focus and rest. I don’t have to commit to 25 days of Advent ‘doing’ unless it feels authentic to me. I can start reading my Advent book a week late and it will be ok. That until my new traditions create personal excitement, there will be days in December that evoke negative emotions. On those days I can seek internal Peace. I can embrace Christmas. I can embrace messy.

Let us not run from Christmas this year because someone wants us to take on an expectation. Let us embrace an authentic messy Christmas, that is sometimes confusing and painful because we can use that messy painful to help us refocus on family, thankfulness, gratitude and peace one intentional step at a time.

The least of us…

Let us talk about building homes, homes that positively impact the world. From which our family, our children can go and fulfill their purpose in life. Homes that create spaces to rest and find sanctuary. Homes that inspire us to learn and create. Homes that serve us and not the other way around.

An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field – Niels Bohr

However, at the moment I am intentionally working towards this goal and not quite there… so how is it that I can blog about building homes? I have stories to share and yet I am in no way an expert in this field. My children are still very small. It was at this point that I read the words of Niels Bohr, which he clearly wrote for me in this moment. ‘An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field’. There is at no point I will ever become an expert because home building, let alone parenting, are such huge fields.

As needs and wants are constantly changing so too are the things we must do to create the home we need

I am not even sure it is possible to have built a home. As needs and wants are constantly changing so too are the things we must do to create the home we need. Rather than being disillusioned by intentionally working towards an unobtainable goal. Let me refocus the goal. We are working towards intentionally building a home in order that our family can fulfill their purpose (and we our purpose). This is hopefully an achievable goal – it is a goal I am working towards.

We are working towards intentionally building a home in order that our family can fulfill their purpose (and we our purpose)

And since there is no time like the present, I with my intention and no expertise, one of the least qualified, am going to write a blog about my journey to create a home. In that I am at least qualified as I am the only person who has lived my life! There is a proverb that reads ‘A wise woman builds her home’, so it is here we will start building a home one small step at a time.