You Can Always Start Fresh: On Purpose, Daily Life, and Moving House

This past Thursday, we moved out of the house we have lived in the past ten years. Even though I have spent weeks slowly packing, decluttering, and cleaning, the day was ginormous and exhausting – but we did it. Tim, my lovely husband, drove the truck down south to the new city we are moving to – Dunedin – and our new house, the derelict 100-year-old villa on a hill. The children and I have come out to my father’s, a beautiful bay in a harbour. Very few people live here. It’s just the sea, the native birds, and clear and clean time.
I grew up here from about nine. Though born in the city, I quickly adjusted to quiet and slow country life and it has been in my blood ever since. I remember days at home, reading or writing, walking the hills or throwing rocks into the sea. I remember days at the beach doing nothing but play. I remember fishing, and exploring farms, riding horses, and just spending a lot of time in real life. By real life, I mean that which God has created and which has been life for people for thousands of years: slow, day-by-day living, anchored by the rising and setting of the sun and the meals eaten.
I have longed for country life ever since I moved back to the city. But, as yet, it is not what God has for me or our family. That is something I have to often lay down at His feet, trusting that He knows the yearnings of my heart. Though our new home and our new life is still in the city, Dunedin itself is a beautiful harbour city, situated over bushy hills. It isn’t a large city, and it has the old-New Zealand feel still. Our home on the hill overlooks a valley. And it feels as if God has given all of the family a piece of their dream altogether: convenience of city living, the beauty of hills and valleys and views, the relaxed way of Southern New Zealand, and a home with history. Honestly, we are just blown away by God’s kindness to us.
But here I am, still in Wainui for a few weeks, enjoying time in my childhood home with the children enjoying all the nature and stunning surroundings that I did. I am thankful for this time and I see it already as a time apart, ordained by God for us to rest, refresh, and restart our home life together. There is literally almost nothing modern to do here. It is only time outside, or books, or conversations, or walks, or helping Poppa garden, or kicking the ball around, and a little television.
For me, I am relishing time focused on the Lord. I have had a difficult year in my faith, and only in the last few weeks do I see Him easing me out of several valley’s. Hunger for His Word is coming back and I am seeing clear answers to my pleas in the passages I read, thrilling my heart and lighting that flame more fiercely. I also see God helping me to step back from all the busyness that has been these last few months and enable us to reset our purpose in homeschooling together and our daily life.
I’m asking myself,
What do I believe about our home learning?
What do I want for the children?
What do I need for me as a homeschooling mother?
What do I want to anchor our days together?
What am I failing in?
What am I strong in?
Where do I need to speak Truth to doubts?
What do I continue on in?
It is easy to get stuck in a rut, or to feel like you cannot get a hold over your days. It is easy to feel like we can’t do anything different because the term is half way through and we’ve hardly done anything we wanted to or we need to complete the workbook. But, actually, none of these things really need to determine how we spend our days. We can never kid ourselves into thinking we are in control of our lives, yet, God’s Word exhorts us to make the most of each day – to “number” them – so we are responsible for our purpose and our daily life. And we can always start again.
And, even though moving house – and city! – is the perfect opportunity to re-evaluate daily life, I am reminded that each and every day is a fresh start. We can always re-evaluate, or start anew, or be refreshed. We are not bound by anything – not even the philosophy or curriculum we love. We are bound by the Saviour of our souls and every new morning is fresh with His mercies (Lamentations 3:21-25).

“Those who know Your name trust in You, for You, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.” ~ Psalm 9:10

A Homeschool Day: Stepping Back In Time (+ Life Update)

Today the children and I went to our local heritage centre with some of our homeschooling community to see what it was like when the English first started settling in Canterbury. I love, love New Zealand history. And, being a European descendent, settler history is a deep passion of mine. So I felt like this field trip was just as much for me as it was for the children!
It was a lovely morning, even when the weather turned a bit cold. Though we had gone to Ferrymead as a family a year or so ago, this time as an education group, we had classes and interesting activities to do. The first thing the children did was get dressed into their colonial outfits. And, honestly, they looked adorable! All us mothers were gushing over the children and dreaming of Avonlea days!

We learned what it was like to live as a settler. Before the first cottages were made in Christchurch, many settlers lived in tents or V-huts. They were the real deal of modern-day tiny homes. Around the V-hut we practiced cleaning, washing clothes,roof thatching, ironing, gardening, and sawing wood. My children loved the cleaning (?!) though they are allergic to it at home.

We saw what kind of toys children played with. We baked biscuits. And we looked around the quaint little cottages. As the children were playing, I walked around, taking in the simple goodness. Though I dream of living in such days, I am not unaware of the hard work it was. Yet, that life still appeals to me. Not just because of the slow and simplicity of life, but because of the goodness that was commonplace. From the way they raised their children to the way they made their clothes – quality was the backbone of their ethic. 

It was a fun, interesting, and exhausting day! I can see that both the children absorbed and took away different ideas and learned new things about the past. And I am positive they made connections of what they saw to their present day.

Life Update

As I mentioned a week or so ago, a new adventure is awaiting us. This past week, we made an offer on a house and it was accepted! Our potential home is an old gold miner’s cottage. Built in 1903, it is very similar to the houses we saw today, which made it more real and thrilling for me.
If this cottage comes through, God will be giving me a delight of my heart. I have always longed to live in a cottage. I cannot wait to bring all that I love – history, quaintness, simplicity, homemaking, gardening, quiet living, and thankfulness – to fruition in this new season in our lives. Hopefully I can share some pictures of our new home soon.

How has God been blessing your heart lately?

Quieting My Spirit in Jesus (So I Can Love My Husband)

Here is a story about God leading me to trust Him so I can love my husband.

There has been a possibility of us going to England for a number of years now. Tim, my husband, has a passion and gifting for apologetics, and there is an excellent school there. When we first applied in 2017 (for the 2018 year), everything was so hopeful – people were encouraging, provisions came from left-field, and we were easily accepted into one of the college’s required. But then, the other university (Oxford, to be truthful) couldn’t accept us for that year, but would hold a place for us for 2019.
Fast forward to this year, we reapplied for both schools. After months waiting, we found out that we were declined at the main apologetics school because of things out of our hands. So we had to turn away Oxford’s place for Tim and, after two years of many up-and-down’s, we were back to square one. It was so confusing and disheartening…What seemed clearly something the Lord wanted us to do for ministry, apparently was not.
And then, things got more confusing.

A friend, with connection within the apologetics school, communicated to us that there had been a mistake and we were actually supposed to be accepted. We just needed to reapply again (for the third time). This, we found out in early March.
By this time, everything seemed so unclear that we had decided not to pursue this door, even with this new encouragement. There seemed to be no strong direction from the Lord. Furthermore, in the up-and-down’s of the previous year, both of us felt drained and thankful for a home to be rooted in.
I have an anxiety disorder and, for me, with all the uncertainties, my anxiety had flared up and I was struggling to even be open to going. Even though I had been the one to encourage Tim to do this, anything to do with leaving home (safe) and pursuing England (bad) caused me to shut down.
Overtime, I had built up in my mind all the negatives and, because stability enables me to function well, I began to see all the things that could cause me to find England very difficult. There was a source of tension between us as I could not even have a discussion with my lovely husband, who was so disappointed, because – in all truthfulness – all I could think about was me.

Turning to the Lord the other night as I went to bed early in a low mood, I opened my Valley of Vision, hoping for a prayer that would turn my heart toward Him and give me wisdom. I sensed that my resistance to England was only partly rooted in my genuine anxiety, there was sin lurking in my heart, and I didn’t know how to find it out. It can get dark in there.
Turning to the page ‘Shortcomings’, the following lines lit up the lurking darkness,

“My sin is to fear what never will be; I forget to submit to Thy will, and fail to be quiet there. But Scripture teaches me that Thy active will reveals a steadfast purpose on my behalf, and this quietens my soul, and makes me love Thee.”

My sin was not being anxious, but to fear what may never be. There are things that my brain does that I cannot control. But when I actively fear and train my thoughts upon what could happen, I sin. I forget to be quiet in the safety of God’s will where there is peace, even with chaos without.
I forgot that God’s will for my life as my husband’s wife is to be his helper. In so many ways, I seek to be a pillar of strength for him, even in my weakness. Going to England causes parts of my brain to trigger off my anxiety, but my will shut down my heart to the possibility. God’s steadfast purpose for me is to love my husband and “do nothing out of selfish ambition or empty pride, but in humility consider others more important than yourself” (Philippians 2:3).
Source
So, we have reapplied. A few weeks ago, neither of us would have believed we would. But our friend asked us again…and again…So, we are listening. It all may turn out, again, that this isn’t God’s will for us as a family. And that would be perfectly good (we are homebodies, after all). But, if it is His will, I don’t ever want to not listen and follow it, despite my anxieties and fears. 
And that is what drives me, even with an anxiety disorder. I love my God, and I want to follow Him, wherever He may lead – even if it is a quiet life at home or flying to the other side of the world with challenges unknown. Sitting and submitting and trusting Him will always keep us quiet under the rest of His care, in those pleasant places.

friend, have you experienced something similar?