Friday, 31 October 2014

Day 31: I did it! (and plans for the future)

I started the 31 Days writing challenge spontaneously with no plan and not even an established blog. It hasn't been a smooth journey but I have made it to the end! I missed several days due to illness but didn't give up. For that, I am proud of myself. I often prefer to give up rather than not do the job to the high standard I hold myself to. I am learning to relax and reassess what I view as success.

I will say that I haven't truly found my voice yet. There is still much swirling in my mind and heart that hasn't found expression. It has been frustrating battling tiredness which numbs my brain when sitting down to write. I trust that this will become easier as I practice and get bolder.

My plan moving forward is to continue writing my blog, even if it is only ever for me to express what is inside. I will not be continuing daily blogging though. This is not practical in my current season of life if I want to keep my priorities in order. I will aim for twice a week posts (but this may end up being once a week!). I would like to keep one of the posts a musing on faith, life and parenting. The other may follow different themes, starting with the messy play ideas that I try with my daughter or wish that I could try.

If you have missed any of my posts from this challenge and are interested in catching up, click here. I hope you will join me as this blog continues to develop.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Day 30: Suddenly overwhelmed

Today had been tracking along with a few unexpected mishaps but nothing hugely wrong. As the time to cook dinner approached, I suddenly felt overwhelmed with everything I hadn't finished that I needed to have done by the next morning, my poor time management today and emotions from a difficult work call I had made earlier. I found myself frustrated at the sudden dips in the roller coaster of emotions. I had lost the peace and rest that I had been experiencing with God. How easily it had been shaken loose with only mild testing! 

I had two options at this point- continue to dwell in these emotions and sense of overwhelm, likely taking it out on my daughter or put in some more healthy ways of processing or at least getting through to a time when processing was more possible. I chose to put on praise and worship music and dance with my daughter while prepping dinner. I chose to focus on the next task that needed doing rather than the entire list. I chose to refocus into the present with my daughter with a moderate level of success. I chose to allow myself to feel the sadness that came from having to exit a much prayed for student from the school I teach at but trust in the decision made with God and colleagues. I chose to let go of some of the ideas of what I had wanted to achieve in this day. 

I would love to say that the tiredness, feelings of overwhelm and general emotion all dissipated with these steps. They certainly helped though. It is amazing what a slight change in perspective can achieve. Life will continue to drop the unexpected, both large and small, into my days. I will choose to deal with these by going to God, changing my perspective and giving myself grace (or at least I am working on making those choices). Maybe one day the little things won't have the ability to shake me as I am more grounded and established in the love of God. 

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Day 29: Changing the world from where I am

When did I start thinking that I need a position to make a difference in this world? I shared at the start of this series that I had been feeling trapped. There are all of these issues in the world that call at my heart. But what can I do while being a mother, a wife, a teacher, a housekeeper and all the roles I play in life? This is what I have been wrestling with.

I have always known in my head that we can help no matter where we are. It takes a little longer to sink into my heart. I think that part of the issue is that I want to get my hands dirty, so to speak. I want to be there in person. This is not a reality for me in this current season. This is what I have concluded for my season in life:

  • Raising my daughter is one of the most important parts I have to play in changing the world. The time and energy I put into her will help her to blossom into a world changer too. It also shapes my character in a way that nothing else does.
  • While I don't have much extra cash flow around, I am blessed that I am able to give small amounts here and there. The $10 or $20 that I am able to give may not be much on its own but will combine with other donations to make a real difference. If we all would give just a small amount, the impact would be huge.
  • I have had the pleasure of sponsoring a Compassion child for almost 11 years now. It may not be much to me to have that amount leave my account each week or write a letter and pray but to her, it is everything. She wants to be a teacher. What an awesome privilege to enable someone else to achieve their dreams. Who knows what ripples that will create through her home country of India?
  • I can pray. If you don't believe in God or the power of prayer, this may seem like a cop out. To me, this is a vital part of my role in God's kingdom.  I believe in the difference that prayer can make. I have had special friends encourage me in this area whenever I feel that I am not living up to my dreams of helping.
  • I can raise awareness of issues close to my heart. One organisation that has captured my attention is the A21 Campaign, which seeks to end human trafficking. The simple act of wearing one of their bracelets can open conversations about this issue that so many are ignorant of. I can share Facebook statuses. I may even be brave enough to rally some people to help me to organise a Walk for Freedom to raise awareness and funds here in Perth, Australia next year.
  • I work in a unique area of teaching where I have access to very broken students coming from traumatic backgrounds, dealing with mental health issues or having been bullied. I have the opportunity to speak into their lives and help them to change their future. This can feel like a huge responsibility but I know that God has placed me in this position for a reason and will continue to equip me for this work. I am with Alta-1 College until He moves me on.
Who do you have influence over right now? What has God placed on your heart? Search out ways to help right where you are. Change your perspective on what you do and recognise that God has you exactly where He wants you. Keep listening to Him, building your relationship with Jesus and embracing the opportunities in your everyday life. (Yes, this is written for me to remember.)

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Day 28: A short musing on God through the eyes of a parent

The frustrations of parenting a toddler have opened my eyes to how toddler-like I can be towards God. How many times does He have to say the same thing to me before I listen and obey? I get so focused on my insignificant things that I don't even hear His voice! I'm sure some of my prayers can seem like tantrums about not getting my own way. 

What has struck me the most is how God responds to me as opposed to many of my responses to my daughter's frustrating behaviour. Grace, grace, grace. Patience, patience, patience. He still convicts me of things and loves me too much to leave me how I am. He does this with gentle strength. I want to model my parenting on that. 

There is so much more to process in the swirl of thoughts and feelings I have on this topic. Maybe there will be some more posts on this in the future as I find words for what is inside.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Day 27: A few lessons I've learned from my daughter

  • Elevators are magic boxes that transport you to a new place and deserve a high level of excitement every time.
  • No matter the weather or how rushed we are, the day can be greeted with "Wow, what a bootiful day!" when we step outside.
  • Going shopping in a trolley is a real treat!
  • If Mummy (or somebody else) is upset, then she will be too- what a heart of compassion and empathy!
  • Cuddles will solve most problems.
  • You need to know what every little noise is and be able to figure out what sound she is tuned in to when asked "What is that sound noise?" I don't know is not an acceptable answer.
Overall, I have learned to appreciate the simple things in life and to notice what I would normally miss in the rush of my standard pace. She is a blessing beyond words.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Days 25 & 26: A prayer from where my heart is at.


When did I get so indifferent to the miracles recorded in Your Word? When did this familiarity with the stories cull the faith they should inspire? Ignite that fire within me again. Open my heart and mind to what You are teaching me in this season. Sickness and tiredness have robbed me too often by numbing me to everything going on around, including Your voice. I refuse to sink into that same pit again. I deeply desire a more intimate relationship with You. I feel a holy discontent with where I am at in my faith walk. I thank You for the progress I have made though. Imperfect progress. I sense a shifting deep within, where the current wrestles with You over issues seem to be coming to an end. I don't have the words or cognitive awareness of exactly what those wrestles have been about but You know. You are in control. I trust that You are good and are faithful to complete the good work that You have begun in me. You may not be "safe" in the way my flesh would want but I trust You. Your ways are higher than my ways. Your thoughts are higher than my thoughts.
You are bringing me to a place where uncertainty is more ok with me. I am slowly letting go of my need to control, millimetre by millimetre. I don't know what You are planning for me but trust that You will guide me each step of the way. I realise now that it is not about the what or where but about my heart and my connection with you. Am I where I need to be? Is there an opportunity I'm missing? Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.
Jesus, flood every aspect of my life. If there are rocks blocking deeper growth of my faith, even good things, show me. My mind is screaming at me with wanting to hang on to it all but I want You to be truly number one in my life. Whatever You want for me to let go, reveal that to me. Strengthen me to obey. It is only by Your Spirit that I can be transformed. My efforts are futile without You.
Be in my parenting, my marriage, my work, my rest this week.
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.


Friday, 24 October 2014

Day 24: 14 years in Australia

Image courtesy of taesmileland at

Today marks 14 years since I moved to Australia with my family. I simultaneously feel like that number is too low and too high. To be honest, I am not sure how I feel right now. Australia is home now and I cannot imagine ever moving back. My life in Zimbabwe feels more like a dream than reality. And yet, there is still a part of my heart there. 

I am beyond blessed to have much of my extended family in Australia with us now. I think this helps in making Australia my true home now, however, I miss the family and friends that are still there. Nothing can replace the history of growing up with friends who were more like siblings. It saddens me that we are now spread all over the globe and cannot share in raising our families and the minutiae of our everyday lives. I have been lucky in being able to attend my two closest friends' weddings. I have yet to meet their children and feel the distance keenly when tragedy happens for them. Tears are welling just writing about it.

There is no way to resolve being at home here and wanting to be with so many others scattered around (at least not without an unlimited bank account to spend my time travelling around!). So I choose to focus on the very long list of things I am thankful for living in Australia while living with the pain of missing loved ones.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Day 23: Rewarding Rest

In this season of my life, I have been finding that my rest is often not restoring or refreshing. This lead me to choose rewarding rest as an intentional focus for this year. I have had to rethink what I viewed as rest and try to change ingrained habits. I will say that this is definitely going to be an ongoing process as it has not been the most successful of my goals!

My previous view of rest was mostly sitting and doing as little as possible, usually in front of the TV or another screen. This was partly due to the sheer exhaustion I live with most days from a daughter who has never slept well. Tiredness does not lend itself to reading, crafting or anything requiring an active mind. This type of rest only does so much in recharging my batteries though. I wrote about increasing my creative time over this year in yesterday's post (read it here). This has helped in my rest goals as well. Using some of my evenings in creating gifts or working on a project has brought rest of a different form. I still battle the tiredness though, which makes it more difficult to make more positive choices. 

I don't really have the answers on how to change this right now. I remind myself that this is a season and it won't last forever. In the meantime, I will strive to switch off the TV more and find something else to read or create. I will take opportunities to get out into nature and appreciate the beauty of God's creation. I will attempt to get out for walks more often.

My quest for rest has peaked my interest in Scriptures that talk about receiving rest from God. There are so many. I shared one of my favourite passages here. I still have a long way to go in processing what is meant in these Scriptures and how I can apply it to my life. One of the main lessons that I am chewing on at the moment is not relying on how I'm feeling to be the control in how I respond or the choices I make. I am sure that true rest is less to do with what I feel physically or even mentally and more to do with the state of my spirit. Jesus grew weary in His human body but drew on His relationship with His Father as the source of strength and peace. Now to apply that everyday!!

How do you rest? What restores you?

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Day 22: Creativity

photo credit: Tim Noonan via photopin cc

Does anyone else find that spending time in creative pursuits is the first thing to go in the busyness of life? I guess time isn't really the issue as much as the headspace in the exhaustion. I wanted to make a point of allowing my creative side to come to the surface more often. I think this was motivated by the need to feel more like 'myself' again after feeling lost in motherhood.

This intentional focus goal has been quite successful overall, although not consistent. I have enjoyed making gifts for people, an ongoing crochet project that is close to my heart and starting to write this blog. I am part of a craft group once a month (although don't necessarily get much done with kids around) and have dabbled in card making workshops too. 

Being creative has certainly helped to bring my sense of self a bit more into balance. I look forward to creating more in the future.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Day 20 and 21: A verse on my heart

I have again been struck down with illness so taking a short moment to share a passage of Scripture that I am loving this week.

photo credit: Hussain Isa via photopin cc

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Day 19: Preparing the soil series at church

Today was the first in a four week series at my church called 'Preparing the soil'. It was awesome! It is based on the concept that our hearts are the soil for the seed of God's Word and we need to do our part in getting ready to receive it. There is such an excitement and anticipation building in my spirit for this next season in my church family. God is preparing us for something new.

Staying soft was today's focus. I felt God confirming and expanding what He has already been speaking into my heart for the past couple of years. The key take away points today:

  • Staying soft can come from saying "Yes Lord" to something we never imagined. (May not be what we think we are suited to or make much sense)
  • Softness- willingness to move from good things to new things. (Can be hard to make way for new things when it means giving up the good things we have been doing)
  • Softness- leaving certainty for a 'need to know' basis (which is how God generally communicates)

If you would like to listen to the podcast of this message, click here. (The whole series will be available here, with the podcast generally being available from the Monday each week.)

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Day 18: Clean, organised house (the quest of an undisciplined housewife)

I know for a fact that the natural housewife gene is not contained within my DNA! In some areas of my life, I am well organised. When it comes to my house, clutter and chaos are an ever growing battle. My stress levels rise when the house is a mess and it does not make for a pleasant home environment. Being home for a significant part of each week with my daughter makes this even more of an issue. Thus the intentional focus on establishing a clean, organised house this year. 

Another motivating factor for me is that we are hoping to sell this house and buy a slightly larger place in the not too distant future. The thought of home opens left me sick to my stomach with the way the house had been (and continues to be). We need to declutter, spruce up the place and generally make inroads in getting the house to a place where it can be sold.

You know that imperfect progress I've been working to embrace? This is certainly needed for this goal. I have had successes, set backs and absolute failures in my quest to discipline my mind and habits around housework and getting organised. 

For the general housework, I've been using an app called Motivated Moms 2014. This has generated checklists that you can customise and tick off each day, breaking down larger jobs into more manageable chunks. I love that a daily quiet time and reading to your kids is included. I am far from completing that list each day but it has certainly made a difference in keeping me more on track with what needs to be done and not forgetting some of the more infrequent jobs around the place. I have also made it a point to put relationships first before housework, which means sometimes the list will be ignored in favour of a play date with my daughter or needed catch up with a friend. It will still all be there the next day!!

I have had flashes of brilliance in getting organised and decluttered. The most recent cleaning bug hit me this morning actually. My husband was fixing the drawers in my daughter's room leaving all of their contents on the floor. This was the perfect opportunity to sort through all the clothes and donate what no longer fit. I forgot to take before pictures (think overflowing, overstuffed drawers) but am happy with the results:

The biggest area left to be tackled is our study/storage/chuck everything we don't want daughter to get hold of room.

Believe it or not, this is actually an improvement on how it looked earlier in the year. I have started in this room multiple times but have never gotten to the point of actual declutter and organisation. Part of the issue is that it is an impossible job with a toddler around. Being a teacher has the perk of school holidays. The plan every holidays has been to use the days that my daughter is in daycare to tackle this mammoth task. Every holidays either my daughter or myself has been too sick.

I am seeking solutions to how to store my daughter's numerous busy bags and arts/crafts supplies in here. I also need to take my emotions in hand and sell the baby gear that is being stored. The biggest challenge will be finding homes for what is laying around as we are short of storage opportunities in this small place. Getting the headspace to find creative solutions has been difficult. As the time draws closer to getting this house on the market, the urgency escalates. Maybe I will have success over the summer/Christmas break?

If you have any creative ideas for storage, let me know!!

Earlier this year I was chaffing at the mundane tasks of housekeeping. I have dreams bubbling down deep that seem so far beyond my current daily existence. The Holy Spirit brought some much needed conviction. If I cannot discipline myself to get organised and maintain what I have been given, how can I be trusted with more? This comes down to my character, my habits and my self-discipline. I was cut deeply by this and it has given me a fresh perspective on my everyday life. My house will never be a display home but I will get to a place of order and taking the time to keep it that way (eventually!).

I also want to pass on better habits to my daughter. One of her favourite activities with me is doing the dishes. Seeing the world through her eyes has made daily tasks more fun. We have a ball doing cleaning some days. I have made an intentional choice never to complain or grumble through doing my chores. Time will tell what legacy this leaves in her life.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Day 17: Sitting less

I have been searching my heart while reviewing this intentional focus: sitting less. It has probably been the one that I have been the least successful at. I now wonder if that is because it was never truly a heart conviction of mine, but rather a "should" I was trying to adopt. I have certainly never been an athlete or lover of exercise.

I have been successful at beginning to add in short workouts to some of my mornings, thanks to the Hello Mornings challenges. I have my own little encourager in my daughter. She often asks me if I'm going to exercise. Her favourite of my workouts is a short Pilates workout set to the Frozen song "Let It Go."

It is the cutest thing watching my three year old trying to copy me while doing this.

For now, I will celebrate my imperfect progress with slowly improving my physical fitness.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Day 16: Frustration at my humaness

I want to do what is good, but I don't. 
I don't want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.
Romans 7:19 NLT

I can relate to this verse everyday. Oh the frustration at myself at times! Reviewing my intentional focus goals has brought up these emotions again, as well as messy mothering moments, irritable marriage moments and a hundred other moments in between. It can be so easy to feel completely overwhelmed by all the "shoulds" from both external and internal sources. I find myself wanting to give up at times. The volume of information and opinions available to us these days is both a blessing and a curse. 

My Christian walk can take this turn too. When I read Scriptures and realise how far short of Jesus' standard I fall, I can stumble into a legalistic trap of wanting to cross things off of a checklist of what makes a good Christian, without even being conscious of it. Bible study done this morning- check! Prayed for my church leadership- check! It is no wonder that I run into dry spells so frequently. Where is the joy of my salvation? Where is my daily drinking in of grace? Where is my intimate relationship with God? Where is the Holy Spirit guidance? 

I want to be that little child approaching God's throne with complete abandon. I want my everyday life to be filled with God's leading and Godly character shining through me. I want my internal world to reflect Jesus and then spill out on others. Thank God that His mercies are new every morning. 

I've been listening to Lysa Terkeurst's book "Unglued" and love the concept she reiterates of imperfect progress. I embrace the holy discontent in me that is the Holy Spirit's nudging to push in closer to God but I remove the shame and self-criticism. I know that I won't get it all right all of the time, but I am a work in progress. I choose to cling to this promise:

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
Philippians 1:6 NLT

God loves you and me. He has extended His grace and purely desires us to be in relationship with Him. Every else will flow from that. 

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Day 15: Play!

This is one intentional focus goal that I have maintained this year. I LOVE playing with my little girl and finding new experiences for us. Sensory and messy play are favourites around here although possibly more with me than with her!

I was honoured to speak at my local MOPS group (Mothers of Preschoolers) about my love of messy play and what God has taught me through learning about the benefits of it. I think that I will do a separate series on this when the 31 Days challenge is over.

I have aimed to create memories and relationship with my daughter over less important tasks. The housework can wait but she will only be little for such a short time. I certainly don't do a big play or messy play everyday but aim to join in with her play each day. We can all start with something even if play doesn't come naturally to you.

Stay tuned for a more detailed look at play starting in November. If you are interested in more play themed posts, click on the 31 Days button in the sidebar and explore the Family Life category. There are some great bloggers writing about play for this challenge.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Day 14: Maintaining friendships as an introvert

I am definitely not an extrovert. I love spending time in my own company, struggle with small talk at times and am happy staying home. This makes creating and maintaining friendships an interesting challenge. This lead me to creating "Connect with friends" as an intentional focus for this year.

I am pleased to say I have made some new friends this year and deepened a couple of friendships. However, this has been more in bursts and not a consistent priority for me. In fact, if not for my daughter wanting to go out often, I probably wouldn't get out as much as I do. I find it especially difficult to keep up conversations when I'm tired, which is most days when you have a 3 year old who doesn't sleep through and is an early riser.

So why bother? Mainly, I don't like who I become when I've been in my own company for too long. I am self-focused and allow my mind to dwell in fantasy/escapism way too much. It isn't healthy for me or my family. I also have some awesome friends whom I don't want to lose.

The year isn't over yet. I have a new opportunity each day to renew this focus. I will push past my comfort zone and keep making the effort to go to a playgroup where I don't know many people. I will make time in my schedule for play dates. I will make time to organise coffee catch ups in the evening when I usually prefer to be in my pyjamas.

We can do this, fellow introverts! We can contribute to social gatherings. We can maintain meaningful friendships. We can overcome the barrier of our comfort zones and reap the benefits.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Day 13: Scripture memorisation

If you have missed any posts in this series, click here.

The first item on my list of what I wanted to focus on this year in my quest to be intentional was spending more time alone with God. (You can read more on this here). Next, and closely related, was my goal to memorise Scriptures. How can I effectively follow what is set out in God's Word, pray through it and meditate on it if I don't have verses memorised? Last year, I attempted Beth Moore's Scripture Memory challenge. This involved a new Scripture twice each month and you chose your own verses to memorise. I went well for a few months but the wheels quickly fell off. I found it difficult to keep choosing new Scriptures and would get very indecisive.

This year, I decided to tackle Ann Voskamp's Jesus project with 48 verses from the book of John memorised over the year. She produces some beautiful artworks of each verse that I have put up on my wall. I have found the visual reminders that I can see at every meal time and through out the day have made a big difference. I am far from able to recite them all as I had hoped though. I trust that they are still being stored somewhere in this mess of a brain through the frequent repetition of reading them. I printed out smaller versions with grand plans to make a little flip book to carry around but this is yet to eventuate (and it's October!!). 

I look forward to finishing this project by the end of this year. Even if I can't recite them all word for word, I know that there will be a benefit in my spiritual life. Next year? I don't know yet. I do know that this will be a life long pursuit.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Day 12: Church and another look at phone addiction

My three year old has been melting my heart recently by asking me to pray for the church whenever it is our prayer time. I will admit that this is not an area that I naturally think of praying for so it is all from her own heart. She loves going to church on a Sunday and I do too. It was great to be with my church family this morning, even if my strength was not quite where I want it to be.

You may have seen my post on my battle with getting my phone use into balance again (Read it here.) This week I found this video on one of my favourite You Tube channels. It gives another take on it that I had not thought of before.

Join me tomorrow when I can finally launch into unpacking my focus areas for this year.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Days 7-11: Lessons learned while sick

Whenever I have holidays with plans to complete projects around the house and get ahead of my to do list, sickness seems to find me. This one has been intense and wiped out my whole week. I was unable to look at any screens until yesterday, so no posts were written. I still have to keep to short bursts only.

I have had my moments of frustrated tears but have had to make a choice to let go of everything I had wanted for this week. My recovery is way too slow for my liking but I choose to rest. I choose to recognise that I will be able to get the house clean again when my strength returns. I choose to be grateful for the family and friends who have stepped up to help this week, especially my fantastic husband. I am also truly grateful that in a few weeks this will be a blip in my life, not my everyday existence. There are many who live with much worse daily.

I would like to say that my faith has been glowing in this time but my whiny complaining side came out. My conversations with God were sporadic and self seeking. Thank God for grace! I am reminded anew of how far from His standard I am in my own strength. I continue to look to Him for my transformation.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Day 6: Pain

I was all set to start my reflections on my goals today, however today is day 4 of a migraine. It is at times like this that I am in awe of those who live with chronic pain. I have friends who do and I forget sometimes.

For now,  I am taking time to rest and pray for a reprieve.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Day 5: My 2014 "goals" and intentional focus

I am not a person who does New Year's resolutions in general. The start of this year was a whirlwind of random God encounters. I had no idea of the journey the year had in store for me yet. I had come into contact with the Hello Mornings community (read more on that here). I then came across the My One Word movement around the time that I had been feeling prompted to develop more focus for what I wanted out of this year. I chose the word "Intentional" for 2014. I felt I needed more though. I needed to figure out what my priorities were. I needed to articulate what being intentional would look like for me. I needed a way to keep these life areas at the forefront of my mind. That is when I saw this video:

I sat and wrote a list of what I wanted to be intentional with for the year. Not a particularly easy task! I felt that I was just emerging from the haze of taking care of a high needs baby, which had swallowed my life and focus (hmmm, I may need a post just on this sometime!). My life was not what I had imagined it would be, I had to figure out what my new normal was and it certainly was not all that I wanted it to look like.

This is what I created:

It reads:
  • More time alone with God
  • Memorise Scriptures
  • Connect with friends
  • Play more
  • Sit less
  • Clean, organised house
  • Creativity
  • Rewarding rest
This sits in my lounge reminding me each day. I would love to say that by now, in October, I am completely on track with each of these. Each day this week, I will write a reflection on my progress in a particular area and what I've learned from God along the way.

This could easily become an exercise in self-criticism for me. I have recently had the revelation that deep down, I believe that God is disappointed in me. I am still processing this against what His Word says but have come to realise that, as always, His ways and thoughts are higher than my own and not human in nature.

The Lord your God is in your midst;
he is a warrior who can deliver.
He takes great delight in you;
he renews you by his love;
he shouts for joy over you.
Zephaniah 3:17 (NET)

I have seen several other 31 Dayers blogging about being intentional. If that interests you, click on the button in the side bar to go check out some of the awesome blogs out there and get inspired!

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Day 4: The extraordinary in the everyday

Have you ever stumbled across a blog or writer that speaks right to your core? Ann Voskamp has been that for me this year. Her words are full of grace but also hard-hitting truth. I have been challenged and stretched by her words. I have found a peace and centring in the nuggets of truth she brings. 

This one above was the inspiration point for my 31 days topic. It sums up so much of what God has been brewing in me in this season of my life.

To read the post that this comes from, click on the picture to take you to Ann's blog. I pray that you get as much encouragement as I have.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Day 3: Confessions of a phone addict

You know that mask we wear? The one that we wear because we're convinced that if people saw into the real us- our thoughts and hidden behaviours, they might be horrified. Maybe it is just me? Today I am choosing to let mine slip a little.

I have realised that a major barrier to being more intentional with my time, more present with my daughter and increasing my prayer time is the amount of time I spend on my phone. Smart phones have allowed some incredible new uses but, for me, it comes with a price tag. I have been forced to admit that I have become addicted to it. I am ashamed of how often I tune out something that my daughter has said or how many supposedly important things remain undone because the time has disappeared into the vortex of meaningless games or social media reading. I find myself growing increasing unable to sit and think, spend a spare moment or even watch TV without a device in my hand. The question is what to do about it. These are some of the steps that I am taking:

  • I choose to leave my phone on a table instead of in my pocket. If not in easy reach, I am less likely to fill those moments.
  • I have switched off all notifications for social media and email. I find it difficult to ignore them so ignorance is the better option.
  • I have installed an App Usage Monitor. There is something confronting about seeing exactly how long I have spent on them each day. As of today, I have also committed to sharing these numbers with a friend each week (gulp!!).
  • I have deleted all the games off of the phone.
  • I have set up accountability with a friend (it worked for my daily God time, as I discussed yesterday, so should help, right?)

I have read several articles about the damage smart phones are doing in families and to children (hello extra heaps of guilt!) but have rarely seen them written by someone who is working to change this in themselves. I hope that someone out there can get some benefit from the suggestions I am working on. This is an ongoing daily challenge for me. It has been suggested that I give up my smart phone altogether for a simple one. I an not there yet and may never be but my goal is to use my phone for the specific purposes that I have need of and not be consumed by it any longer.

What about you? Do I have any fellow addicts brave enough to step forward? Any suggestions that you have found helpful?

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Day 2: Daily God time, accountability and Hello Mornings

I assume that it goes without saying- for my faith to be embedded in my everyday life, I have to be spending time with God everyday. I have had flashes of consistency with this in my life, but it has always been a struggle. There have been many devotionals purchased and started, many reading plans attempted. All with varying levels of impact and completion. This year I finally realised what had been missing- accountability.

It started out with semi-regular catch ups with a friend to check in with how we were going with our daily God time. This was a start but not consistent enough to produce the change I was desiring. The catalyst came in the form of a Facebook post, one of many in my newsfeed that day. A friend posted about the Hello Mornings Challenge that was about to start. She was an Accountability Captain for one of the groups. I had not heard of these challenges before and was intrigued. I joined up, not fully realising what it was all about. Suddenly I was part of an online community of women, studying the same passages, discussing how the Scriptures applied to our lives, praying for each other and being held accountable (but done with love and grace).

That first six week session was the start of a deeper change. God truly rewarded the times I prioritised my time with Him. (The lessons I have learned have been the inspiration for this series.) I have continued to participate in each session this year and now have a deep desire to get into the Bible each day and serve as a co-Accountability Captain with the same friend who had posted on Facebook. The Hello Mornings Challenges also include exercise and planning components. These are still a work in progress for me, but strides forward have been made.

A huge shout out is needed for my amazing husband. He has given me the time I needed to invest in my God time each morning by entertaining our gorgeous girl (not an easy tasks some days!) There are still many times that I have had to get creative in spending time with God while with my daughter. I love that this is a foundation I am building into her life as well.

The next session of Hello Mornings is about to start on the 6th October. Do you need more accountability? Maybe this post is your catalyst. Click below to find out more.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Day 1- It begins...

31 Days 2014- a post a day for October

Do you write blog posts in your mind? I do. Often. I have never gotten around to making it real. Today, that changes. 

I have had several people in my life suggest that I write a blog. The 31 Days challenge came to my attention and I thought, "If you're going to start a blog, may as well jump in with both feet!" (Yes, this scares me but I say yes anyway.) The Nester runs this challenge to encourage writers to write a post everyday for the month of October. Find out more here.

This year has been significant in ways that I don't yet fully realise. I started this year feeling restless, trapped even. God has taken me on a journey deep inside. I have been stretched, pruned, challenged in ways that are hard to put into words. I sense a season of preparation. For what, you ask? I don't know yet. 

It astonishes me how many seemingly random and insignificant pieces God can bring together to give the same message. The biggest lessons I've learned so far? It is about who I am, not what I do. It is about my relationship with God, not what I do for Him. My everyday moments are key. Raising my daughter is not a side story to what God has for me, but the core. I can make a kingdom difference today. I can contribute to world change in my everyday life. I don't have to wait for a position or until my daughter has grown up.

I have so many thoughts swirling and waiting for expression. I look forward to finding the words for them in this next 30 days. I want to share what has spoken to me, inspired me and changed me. After that, who knows?