Sunday, July 27, 2014

Our Crazy Normal Life

Here we are, living on a daily basis on what seems to be the cusp of financial ruin but still living on 'the outer edges of normal'. I couldn't be more scared, more fearful or more exhausted but I also couldn't be more happier and more exhilarated either.  Likening our lives to a roller coaster seems so cliché but I struggle to find a better illustration.  This ride we are on is the ride of our lives. I laugh now, Jamie and I used to pray that God would use us in incredible ways, we said that we would be people of faith and strength.  And its faith and Gods strength that we are deeply drawing on EVERY. SINGLE. MOMENT. OF. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY!

I feel I am not ready for this and that some days are just too scary, too big. But knowing that God has it all under control (and the fact that I can ring my bestie and cry to her and she listens and then tell me its all OK) I KNOW with every bone of my body God has us exactly where he wants us.  And for that I am thankful. I say I "know" this but at times "feeling" it isn't a happening thing for me.  Its in those moments that I draw on the fact that I do "know" it and I draw on the strength of those that know and understand us and where we are and will pray for us like never before.
The following is my most favorite of verses EVER.  God gave it to me just before I gave birth to Jesse, during a moment when I was tired, emotional and oh so over being pregnant.  What I did not know that God was to fulfill every single one of his promises within that verse during Jesse's somewhat tricky but victorious birth and that's a whole other story.
"So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
                                                                 Isaiah 41:10
I see how far we have come and what has been accomplished through us. I am excited by it and anxious for more but at the same time feeling "Whoa hold up, let me catch up and breath a bit. Some days I long for normal, for slow and predictability.  Surely that time will be here soon.  But do I really want that?  Will we recognize the miracles and the workings of God as often and to the degree we have been?  Will we be this close to God and have that hunger for him if our lives became safe?  Do I want to give that up?
I don't think I do.

No dare I say that I think I want this to be our normal, a normal that isn't normal - far from it.  I want God to use me and us, to change me and us, to change the world (OK maybe not the entire world but at least have a positive impact on it)  I want our lives, our kids lives to be different to those around, to be affected, to have seen God at work in our everyday lives. I want them to have that privilege.  I want them to have seen and felt the power God in their lives.
I want them to have experienced the trust, the faith, the love, the providence of God as they journey through their own lives just by living as our family as it answers the call of God and puts him in the center of it all.
I want them to see outside of themselves, of their worlds, to REALLY see others and what the world is for them.  I want this for us. but all the while being scared stiff of what that may mean.

I was reflecting a few days ago about a time a few years back, a time that was so incredibly painful for me it still brings tears to my eyes. To a place that had me seriously questioning whether or not God knew what he was doing allowing this to happen.  For the life of me I couldn't see ANY good come out of it.  It was a crazy crazy time of hurting and loss of friends, good friends.  A few days ago I actually thanked God for that time (doesn't make that time any less painful) but I thanked him.  Because good, most excellent things have come out of it.  It has had amazing opportunities and personal growth that has blossomed into beautiful things all because God allowed that terrible time to happen.  Do I still hurt over it? Yes.  But I can now recognize that it needed to happen and for that I am thankful.

As it says in Romans 8:28 "All thing work together for good to them who love the Lord who are called according to his purpose"

Oh this rings so true, so true!  For if is wasn't for that terrible time I KNOW we wouldn't be where we are today. I truly believe that.

So if you find yourself on some kind of crazy wild God journey, on a journey that you don't know how its going to end up and where its going. Take comfort in knowing that God knows and he only wants the very best for you - that can only ever be a good thing!  It might not look like how you think it should or work out how you would of liked but its Gods best for you!

My most favorite photo!

My beautiful family!
I am so blessed.
I am going to need an update very soon!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Six Month Snapshot

Previously titled 'In my Life this Month' but I thought that I would rename it to the above as I only write one of these posts every six months.  I really don't think my life is THAT interesting to do one every month.  Today is Sunday and I am tired.  I think God had an excellent idea when he made the seventh day as a day of rest because today that is exactly what I felt like doing all afternoon.  Blessed myself I did with a L-O-N-G overdue chat with my bestie on the phone.  Lost count at how long we talked for because she had to ring me back and then I had to ring her back due to a wee man with a split lip and a banana that wouldn't properly peel for him.  You know tragic things like that!

So lets begin....

In our home school.....

Well its been the school holidays here for the past two weeks something that we observe.  There is no way that the kids would let me work them through the holidays for ANY reason.  Plus I need a break too....a break from the planning, the checking up on, the correcting, the hunting DAILY for pencils, pens, scissors and rubbers that mysteriously disappear EVERY SINGLE DAY!!!  I think there is a conspiracy going on here.

What we are planning to do for the upcoming term is follow a book called "How to Make a Apple Pie Around the World".  Obviously the lesson plans will be a little different for the older kids and the younger kids but they will both follow the book.  The story follows a young girl around the world as she collects different ingredients for her apple pie.  Each week we will look at the country that she visits and the ingredient that she collects, where it grows, how it is harvested, what its used for etc.  At the end of the book of course we will make an apple pie just like the girl in the book.  Also for the older kids I am planning to put together a MasterBaker programme. Where they can learn different aspects of baking (so they don't stick to baking the same thing as they tend to do). Biscuits, Slices, Pikelets, Cakes, Breads etc.  Once they have completed all those without supervision and are edible I'll award them with the MasterBaker Graduate Award.  So that is the plan for this term.  I say plan and use that term loosely as I know that at times my kids needs change. But that is the beautiful thing about homeschooling I guess.

I am inspired by..... this book as you know.

The beauty and generosity of people.
Just some of things been donated to Loving Arms
The beauty of colour.

Such vivid colours!

Places we are going....
Well even though it hasn't been the best holidays for us around here due to a number of things, ie Terrible winter colds and terrible winter weather, we haven't ventured to far from home. Even I have to admit that its been a little boring around here.  BUT we did manage to get to visit the zoo a few days ago.  It was cold to say the least but it was so nice to be out of the house and doing something together as a family. My favourite is and always will be the giraffes. I find them so fascinating.

People we are seeing....see above for reasons but not too many people.  I did however get to meet up with a very inspiring lady from the community who has big dreams and an even bigger heart for the people she wishes to help.

My favourite thing....
Not winter that's for sure! Hmmmm do I have a favourite thing?  My electric blanket at night, My husband been home for the past week on holiday, that's been cool.

What is working for us....
Turning down our hot water cylinder!  Knocked nearly $200 of our power bill!!  I know!!  I miss having an abundance supply of hot hot water but $200 when you don't have a lot is something I can live with.
Dividing up the areas of the house when it comes to tidying up.  Works reasonably well especially when I rotate who does what areas.  The worst area according to the children is the kitchen, the best area is the hallway and front and backdoor area!

What isn't working for us...
The kids playing soccer in the hallway. Results in a smashed window!  Not happy.
Winter colds and coughs - doesn't make for good sleeping.  Poor Jesse has had a bad head cold and all night I hear Mama Mama.  He sleeps holding my hand.

Questions/thoughts I have...
-How are we going to pay for the window? We can't go through winter with it boarded up.
-How much is too much?  We live in a society of inequality and excess.  Even though its a fact of life its not right and how do you fix it?
-Where is God taking us?  Even though I love the journey that we are on, it isn't easy at times and sometimes its a little unnerving not knowing where we are actually going?

Things that I am....
-Reading...Rhinestone Jesus by Kristen Welch
-1 Samuel
-Last Read...The Centurion  by Janette Oak and Davis Bunn
-Read...The Externally Focus Quest by Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson can't wait to read that one even though its been ordered and hasn't actually arrived yet.
-Watching...Not a lot really.  I have been quite busy with various projects on the go I don't have time to watch much on TV.  I can't even remember the last movie I sat and watched and enjoyed.

I am cooking...Spaghetti and meatballs, Pizza, and I am getting really good at doing roasts too even if I say so myself.

I am grateful for...
-My husband.  He really is super. Loved having him home this week and having no outside extracurricular activities to get to.
-Our upcoming weekend away in Taupo with my sister and her family and my Mum.  So can't wait for that.  Here is hoping we can get to the snow.
-The blessing of meat.  We were blessed with a large amount of meat a week or so ago.  Meat is expensive here and I only buy it if I have too. Up until now we have been living on venison (which isn't a bad thing) but it makes a nice change having beef.
-God's continual guidance and provision. This is a common theme in my posts I know but I really am very grateful.   Two and half years since our journey began and we are still here and our daily walk though hard at times is such a blessing.
-A supportive family, friends and church. Our journey would be that much harder without them.
-This new little life that grows inside of me.   I am just about to head into my last trimester and this little ones kicks and flutters will turn into cuddles and kisses.  I am embracing this precious time because he or she is born I will have to share.

I am praying for...
-Gods continual guidance and providence.
-Growth and direction of Loving Arms. For the community to be moved by the need and mobilized into action.
-The health of the family
-The birth of this wee baby.  Not even going to pretend that my last birth wasn't hard and challenging.

Day in the Life Photos...

A rest stop at the zoo!

Maybe its because the kids are home schooled but they seem to a bit slow on the uptake of 'school yard fads'. Is that a bad thing?  But once they were introduced into the house these loom bands threatened to overtake our house. Provided a lot of hours of entertainment though.

Me at 24 weeks pregnant!

How Kaitlyn and I spent one wet afternoon.
Winter Art!

I have been getting my knit on lately.  
This pattern is so easy and if I can do it anyone can!

Found this recipe for homemade crumpets...who knew!
They were the best, a little time consuming but oh so good!!!

What are you doing this July?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Book That is Ruining My Life!

Ruining it in a good way...... I think??  I hope??  But one thing I do know that it is turning my world, my life as I know it upside down.  Are books suppose to do that?   I am a reader and given the opportunity I would polish off an entire book in a matter of hours or at least a day.  I couldn't possibly tell you how many books I would of read over my lifetime but I would say that it numbers in the thousands.  But this book.....this book well I have no words.  Like I said before I usually polish off a book in hours but this one I am savoring each chapter, one a day allowing myself time to reflect, to meditate and to sort out my thoughts in regards to what I have just read.   I am enjoying taking the time to do that but still its also driving me nuts not reading on to see what tasty morsels the next chapter has for me.

I can probably count on one hand the books that have any sort of profound effect on me. Actually I can think of three (two of which are series of books but I still count them as one book).

The Externally Focused Church  by Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson
 - Challenged me to look at the community in which we live that is outside the church doors

The Yada Prayer Group Series by Neta Jackson (a novel - and not as cheesy as the title may suggested)
- Challenged me to look at the power of prayer and the journey that others outside your own circle of friends    are on.

Red River of the North Series by Lauraine Snelling (a novel)
- Challenged me on the power of generosity, community and to dive deep into Gods Word every single          day.

While two of the above are novel series, their message for me was still super powerful and they have left their mark on my life.

But this book...well its a whole new level.  I don't believe for a second that it isn't by accident that I am reading it now. I needed to hear the writers story and her story that precedes her story.  A few weeks back I shared that I launched what was a dream, a vision into reality, into being.    While I share much of the authors heart and passion, it still totally wrecks me as I read her thoughts as though they are my thoughts.  I sit as I read with tears and snot pouring down my face.  Yes it is that glamorous!  Not only do I sob but I break into laughter through tears whilst my children look on in awe, worry, disbelief, embarrassment and wonder at their crazy mother for whom this kind of reaction to anything is not uncommon.  Someone needs to tell them that I am normal??

By now maybe you are screaming at me saying "WHAT THE HECK IS THE BOOK CALLED?"  The book that is ruining my life and causing me to question everything, to seek out a deeper relationship with Jesus, that is encouraging me that even a normal everyday stay-at-home Mama can do BIG things in the name of Jesus when you say YES to Jesus and his will for your life.

Rhinestone Jesus by Kristen Welch 
 is that book.

As I told you it is no accident that I am reading this book now but rather its God ordained timing.  The time when I have put my heart out for all to see and saying "Here is a need, the need is real, the need is raw, the need is desperate! Lets do this"

While our journeys are the a little of the same they are also different. I can't pretend that the need here is even remotely the same as where her story takes place. But here in New Zealand, the urgency for young mums and mums in need to receive help, love, support and guidance is so very real. This is my YES to Jesus!

A few years back Jamie and I prayed that we would be a family of faith and as I said before 'be careful of what you pray for' as God will take every opportunity to take you at your word.  We are living that life, our crazy life that could almost be a book in itself.  While this is scary and unknown it is also exciting and privileged.  We can only benefit from his journey as he only wants the very best for us.  That stirs something deep inside of my heart, it thrills and energizes me all the while disturbing my nice little life as I know it. As if it hasn't been disturbed enough already.

                             What journey are you on?

Check out Kristen's Blog We are THAT family here.

NB//  Just in case something has been stirring in you and you want your heart to be stirred into saying YES to whatever Jesus has in store for you,  Rhinestone Jesus is available from most online booksellers, Amazon, Fishpond or The Book Depository. (Although the cheapest option for New Zealand readers is The Book Depository which is UK based but have free delivery worldwide. Price $13.07)

Sunday, July 6, 2014


Anyone who knows me or reads my blog will know that I am very big on traditions, very big.  We have traditions in our family surrounding everything.  From pregnancy and birth through to birthdays, Christmas and holidays and everything else in between.

We have the same newborn gown that each of my children have been dressed in for the very first time after they were born to giving the kids a present on Christmas Eve, which has always a pair of new brand new PJs until this year when the older boys got new pairs of undies because that's what they wear to bed during the summer.

It is the beginning of the school holidays and we even have traditions that mark the end of the school term.  Before you ask - yes we still do school holidays around here even though the kids are home schooled.  Do you really think that they would let me work through them?  Plus I definitely need a break from all that planning and hunting for pencils and rubbers on a daily basis.   (One would think that I would have an ample supply of those two items being that we school at home but I am ALWAYS hunting for them no matter how many I have in the house).

The end of the school term tradition is always marked with a last day ice cream sundae from McDonald's.  I can't remember when it started but no one lets me forget it and this time the kids went out with Dad who treated them to Sundaes after a trip into the city.  Bless him. I got to stay home ALL BY MYSELF for an entire three hours, something that NEVER happens around here. Oh the quiet!  It was so .......quiet!  What to do what to do??  I finished off some knitting, talked to my Mum on the phone, had a coffee in one sitting (with cream even) ate a caramel square without having to share any, had a wee nap, surfed the net and did some baking UNINTERRUPTED and started dinner.  While I did enjoy this time, by the time they got home I was ready for them to be home.

Another tradition that we do at any given time when a new movie is out is too all sit down and watch a family movie together complete with movie snacks.  The lights are all turned off and everyone finds their favourite seat and we enjoy the movie together.  I have to admit I am not the biggest movie fan so sitting down for the entire length of the movie is particularly difficult for me. I always have the desire to be doing something else as well as watch a movie.  This drives my husband nuts!

Whatever the tradition you celebrate or observe in your family, be encouraged that its all worth it even if it is a bit of an effort to make it happen, even if the kiddies aren't playing their part and are fighting over who gets the ice cream sundae with the most sauce or who is sitting in whose seat for the movie.  I tell myself that this is all part of the tradition itself. If you are striving for perfection then you are going to sadly disappointed because when you are working with anyone else let only children...stuff happens.  But it is all worth it.  I have said before, its all about creating memories and building relationships, cementing relationships within your family.  Its what makes you a family.  Its what holds you to each other.  So keep going, keep making that effort, keep celebrating and observing the traditions that you hold in your family.  Its what makes your family, your family.

What traditions do you have in your family?

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The start of something big....

          "And he placed his hands on their heads and he blessed them...."  Mark 19:15

Today, 29th June 2014 was the start of something big.  Something new and exciting was birthed. (No I haven't had my baby, its not due for another 16 weeks at least)  Today a part of me, a part of my heart was launch out into the world.  I am excited, I am thrilled, I am scared.  Today I shared my heart, my vision, God's vision with people other than those close to me.  It has been a BIG day.

Today is the day I am to start walking the walk and not just talking the talk  Oh boy do I need God now more than ever.  We are actually going to have to do what we say we are going to do. There is no going back, no back-tracking, no rewind button. I cannot stop this.  Wow that is scary, oh boy is it ever!!

Today is the day that we reach out into our community and help, give, support and love. Today is the day we start to fill the gaps, fill the needs and right the wrongs for people that can't do that on their own.   The need is there and the need is real.

Today we begin to really be the hands and feet of Jesus, to show the world a love that hasn't been seen in a while and that we are willing to roll up our sleeves and jump on in boots and all.
Today is the day that 'Loving Arms Te Awamutu' was birthed.  For that I am both grateful and excited.
Loving Arms


'Loving Arms' is a community outreach that would like to see 

To see every baby born in the community adequately clothed and every new mother (regardless of age or number of children) adequately cared for, supported, and encouraged during that all important time after the birth of her baby.

We can do this. We will do this. We all have something in us that wants to give to and to help others. We are not created to be doing this 'life' all on our own but for so many that is a reality. We need each other.

So here we are at the beginning......and we will clothe, we will feed and we will support. For that is our vision, this is what we are meant to do.  We will do this because the need is there and because we care.

Is there anything big happening in your life at the moment?

PS If you would like to know anymore about 'Loving Arms' please feel free to check out our Facebook page. You can also contact me through there.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Bedtime Reflections

A person's a person, no matter how small.”

Firstly let me say that we parents have taken on the one of the most mammoth tasks of all - raising children in todays world.  I get how hard it is, I truly do.  For I am raising six soon to be seven of them.  I face the same struggles and difficulties as you do, I am no different.  There is sometimes the perception that people that write or blog about children and parenting have it all together. That is simply not true. For I definitely do not. For most of us, we are doing the best that we know how to do with what we know and one cannot ask for anymore than what you know. The following is simply a reflection on my journey and my view on parenting. I also simply ask - do you know your journey, your story? Do you want to know more?

Do your best until you know better
then when you know better, do better.
- Maya Angelou

I was lying next to my son last night as he was drifting off into dreamland.  I allowed myself to be wholly in that moment. I let all my senses experience that precise moment.  Touch, Smell, Taste, Sight and Sound. The feeling of his small wee body curled and jigsawed into mine.  The smell of his sweet breath and the soapy fragrance of his pajamas.  The taste of little boy hair on my lips as I kiss his soft wee head.  The sight of him enveloped into my body, his soft chubby cheeks and his cherubic semi-closed fist and his to-die-for luxurious long eyelashes.  And the sound of his rhythmical deep breathing as he falls deeper into sleep. Could you get more peaceful?

In those moments I was always wonder if that is going to be a moment in time that I will always remember, always going to be etched in my mind.  I have a lot of those moments.  I reflected on how blessed I am and on how much I have evolved as a parent over the years.  I have come so far.  Bedtime in our house wasn't always so peaceful and still at times its not.  But the thing that I love the most is that this sweet wee man gets to fall asleep embraced by someone who loves him the most.  What a way to do bedtime!  To really embrace this time as a parent you really have to make a mind set shift, put aside all other agendas that you have, all the other places that you 'have' to be, all the other things you 'have' to do and all the other things you 'have' to watch/view/check and be totally in the moment with your child.

I know that this is not the ideal for a lot of parents, that this will not even be possible for some parents. There will be some that totally disagree with this bedtime routine and that's OK. I don't mind, it doesn't matter. For me it works and it is a time (mostly) that blesses us both - Mama and Child. Its an experience that I wish everyone got to experience.

As I said, I often look back on my journey as a parent and I see how I used to be and I am so thankful that I am not where I was.  While I am the first to admit I am not perfect (just ask my kids too) I am so blessed to be at this place where I can parent for me, my family, my heart and my God.  I only wish that other parents feel the same way.  For so many years, too many years I parented for other people, to textbooks, to advice that was cleverly and unfortunately disguised as scripture inspired. Oh how I cringe! I could never find the perfect fit until I let it all go and began to seek out my heart, my God, his wisdom and knowledge that fits us better.  And while at times especially under stress I fall back into what I call my 'default' parent mode, and that is never pretty, I still for the most part am happy with who I am becoming and how I am raising my children.

How have you changed you may ask.  How do you parent now?  In one word RESPECT.  Its a biggy in fact, its huge. And I am sorry but mainstream parenting lacks it. I know I have been there. The whole mindset that children must show respect for you no matter is unreasonable and wrong.  Children learn by what is modeled to them by the parents/adults in their lives.  If you aren't modeling respect to them, you can't expect them to show respect to you when they themselves haven't been shown it.  What happens is that when they are forced or controlled into 'showing' respect to you and other adults they might act it out or be respectful on the surface but that so-called respect that they are showing you isn't real, it isn't internalised and they don't mean it.  I am pretty certain that we all want our children to not only love us but really and genuinely respect us as parents.

Do I get it right?  No of course not!  I have a L-O-N-G way to go before I get it right all of the time.  I still loose it, still get unreasonable and stubborn,  still don't listen to them, still interrupt them and still shout BUT I am getting better. The best thing is that I am way more aware of my own behaviour and my interactions with my kids and my expectations of them.  I am thankful for that.

Whether I am right or wrong, or you agree or disagree that's OK. I don't mind as I certainly don't agree with most other people either.  My only problem I have is when it turns hateful and nasty and people start attacking each other out of what usually is ignorance and frequently fear.  Fear that if they are presented with a different view that they could be wrong and who likes to be wrong AND to admit that you might be wrong would require you to change and...well GROAN...change can be very hard work!

Anything that goes against the mainstream way of thinking and acting is usually there quietly ticking away in the background.  People who generally identify with a more conventional or mainstream way of doing anything are usually the ones who are shouting the loudest to be heard, wanting to be agreed with, can also be found as being the most stubborn and aggressive in their arguments.  I love this quote...

"The empty vessel makes the loudest sound"  - William Shakespeare

I know not everyone will understand this way of parenting or anyway of doing anything I (and others) do.  I also know that I can not change the world (nor do I want to) just by what I say.  We are all made to be different, that is our right.  So I will quietly carry on here in the background doing what I do and evolving into the person that God created me to be. For myself and for my children.

 I do want to say this.....Is there anything you are doing that you have never questioned or thought there might be a different way to do it?

How ever you want to parent, how ever you want to do anything in life make sure you are doing it for you and that it fits you perfectly. That is called living genuinely! 
 Go on you can do it!

PS I love when I start out to write a post and it ends up being completely different to how I intended it to be!

Photos from our week...

We rescued a cat with its head stuck in a cat food can!

One of the ducks got into our mostly emptied swimming pool. Needless to say it had the time of its life and spent the day calling to its friends to join it.  They couldn't work out how to get in.
 Bummer for them!

I love these two and their imaginations.
Take one ride on tractor, one banana box, one tonka truck, and some soft toys and you have 
a whole heap of fun!

I love that they thought this up.  Rather clever I thought!
And it worked a treat too!

One banana box jammed down over a tonka truck and you have made yourself a trailer with wheels!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Two of the Best.

Apologies to you all.....I am far too tired to write tonight and I feel I have nothing to say. (Shock horror I know!) So I will leave with one of my all time favourite quotes and a favourite photo of mine. Until next week then......

"I will not die an un-lived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance; to live so that which comes to me as seed goes to the next as blossom and that which comes to me as blossom, goes on as fruit". - Dawna Markova

I"ll never get tired of this view!
Photo taken one sunrise from our deck!