How Social Media is Killing my Homemaking.

I’m so ashamed to say it, but it’s true. Those beautifully curated square pictures are killing the fire in my heart for homemaking.

My feed of late has been inundated with beautiful pictures of beautifully clean and organised homes – and I love looking at them. There is something inspiring about them that keeps calling me back to scroll through them. Our hearts are designed by the Great Designer to love beauty (for He is Beautiful). And these homemakers have done wonderful jobs of making beautiful homes.

Yet, at the same time, there is only so much a poor girl can take.

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Honesty.

 

I will be straight up honest and say that jealousy does lurk in my heart. I feel jealous, not for the homes per se (I love our derelict-doer-up-villa) nor the things in their homes; rather, I am jealous of the ability of these incredible women.

And I mean that, to me, they are incredible.

They do what I do each day. We cook, clean, mother, homeschool, wife, garden, mother culture – and probably heaps more (especially if they farmstead or work outside the home). But, in all honesty, they do it better.

That can be hard to swallow.

I want to be like them. I want that ability or skill or energy that enables these incredible women home-make like they do each day. Yet, for some reason, I have only little amounts of these to be able to achieve what I do each day.

 

How.

 

I think mostly, though, I don’t understand. I don’t understand me. These words in Psalm 40 resonate with me deeply in regards to my struggles with homemaking:

“But as for me, I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me” (vs 17).

As much as I believe and love and try to create a home that looks like these dream pictures on social media, I just cannot do it. I get overwhelmed, or I burnout, or I stress at the children when they ruin my hard work, or I just don’t know how to do it and maintain my work.

And in my weakness, I wonder – why bother? I’m not going to be able to do that, so I wonder why I keep killing myself over those pictures.

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This is not my kitchen.

 

Upwards and Outwards.

 

Thankfully, Psalm 40 continues on for the poor and needy, like me:

“You are my help and my deliverer; You are my God, do not delay.”

When I am struggling and feeling like I cannot keep up, the Lord gently lifts my eyes upwards to Him, the very reason I do this anyway.

My flesh wants to serve myself in homemaking. I want to feel good about myself and the way I home-make. If I make it a day creating and working in our home that meets my standard, I feel good. But why? I have been serving myself. So, the next day when I can’t because the children are sick or I’ve used up all my energy the day before, then my self-worth plummets.

I need to check my heart about why I am trying to make our home a certain way. Who am I really working for? I know the answer by how the state of my home makes me feel about myself.

And this is why social media has such an effect on me: I make it all about me – what inspires me, what my things look like in a picture, and how my home compares.

 

True Homemaking.

But why am I a homemaker?

It is because God has made me one. I live in a house He has provided for me. I care for a husband whom He clefted me to. And I nurture two children who He brought to life through me.

Homemaking is about God and responding to what He has given me.

This post by Mystie was so encouraging to me today. And when I read the dictionary definition of homemaking, my heart smiled. The definition is this:

homemaking (v): the creation and management of a home, especially as a pleasant place to live in.

A pleasant place.

This was a word straight from the Lord to me, knowing how poor my heart has been feeling lately.

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Am I the best homemaker in the world? No.

Is my home perfectly curated? No.

Do I have all the Waldorf toys and Charlotte Mason posters? No.

But – and this makes all the difference – is our home a pleasant place to live in?

Yes, yes it is.

That is the standard God wants me to live up to. And it is so easily attainable, even for a poor and needy homemaker like myself. And, for you too, dear friend.

Let us put social media where it needs to stay and just seek to make our homes a pleasant place. It won’t be hard nor a yoke to serve the Lord and our family in this way.

Birdsong on the Bad Days (+ Printable)

So far, our family have been enjoying our lockdown life. I am surprised how happy the children are and that they don’t seem to be missing their friends. Of course, they have their moments, but there has been a settled spirit in them. I think our daily routine of lessons have helped this immensely, as well as having a general routine for each day. Oh, how precious routines are! I realise now the importance of them, more than ever before. And it is something I am pondering during this time, hoping to have a plan for when lockdown lifts, how to keep this precious routine going.

Yet, we had one particularly rough day this week. It was one of those days when one or two of the family just woke up on the wrong side of the bed, and it was a challenge to say the least. I spend much of the day in prayer, asking the Lord for help because I myself, was feeling particularly weak. I am so grateful that His power is made perfect in my weakness, and that I am free to give of myself, not counting the cost.

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One of the many steep streets we walked down (then up!)

It has been our routine to go for an hour’s walk from about 3pm each day. This day, however, I decided to take Josiah for a walk just on his own, knowing that he needed that special on-on-one time with Mama.

It was a glorious Autumn afternoon. The sun was warm, there was no wind, and the birds were out in their song. We were delighted to hear and see a native Tui which, usually, is found only in forests and bush. The new city we live in, Dunedin, has quite a lot of native bush within it, and so it is actually quite common for Tui to be seen. It was the first time in my life.

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Autumn colours everywhere.

As we walked down hill, through streets and bush, we chatted and discovered and listened. Both of us felt the peace of birdsong: these beautiful creatures that do what God made them to do – to be birds and sing for His glory. Their precious trust and simplicity always speak to me, and as we walked, I was just thankful for their audible praise.

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We saw the beautiful dark Tui with the white tuft.

The walk and birdsong restored our boy and he was much more settled afterward. Nature has always been, in particular, a balm to his soul. And on this day, it was the exact medicine he needed – as well as that special attention from his Mama.

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How hard and precious Motherhood is. It is crushing and stripping, but soul lifting and rich in joy. And there is something about the relationship between a mother and son that is unique and fragile. There is such a balance between closeness and space. I am so grateful this is all in His hands.

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A historic house of Dunedin.

The love of nature that my son has always reminds me of Wendell Berry’s poem which resonates with all who feel called into the wild. I have designed two printable pages for you of his poem ‘The Peace of Wild Things’ . I hope his words echo to you in this season as they have for many.

Click on the image to downloadwildthingsprintable1-page-001

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Being Intentional During Lockdown

We are on Day 3 of lockdown here in New Zealand. It is Saturday and feels as if we have been on holiday in a remote place for a week. I am both loving it and thinking what a challenge it will be in many ways, for all people. We are made to be with people and interact with people – yes, even us introverts! – so it will be by Grace that we all will get through this time.

I believe deeply that God is Sovereign and therefore, I believe this time of isolation is ordained by Him. It needn’t be just about surviving four weeks (or more) of lockdown, we can thrive during this time! We can redeem this time for His glory and our good as we live simply at home.

I’m realising how important it is to have both a routine for our days and to have goals to work toward over the next month. I mentioned in my last post two specific ones, but I have been pondering more since, and I have come up with a broader vision for goals, as well as specific ones.

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I am not usually a goal-setter. Perhaps it is my Type-B personality or that I don’t like feeling like I am failing at something so I just tend not to make goals for myself. I am generally happy just pottering and slowly working on something over time (like the garden).

But I am coming to see that goals with intentionality doesn’t have to be the hustle-like goals I see around that make me feel like I would never live up to them. I believe that being faithful toward little things is something I can, by Grace, do. And, at a time like this, how important it is to have intentionality about our days.

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I have a bullet journal that is where I record my weeks and lists and homeschool things. I call it my Homeschool Mother’s Journal, though I actually record what we do for schooling elsewhere. This is more of my Homeschool Mother planner with books we read, curriculum plans, daily tasks etc.

In my Mother Culture section (more specific to me and my own education), I have a two-page spread of my goals for the lockdown. I have created six categories with three different goals beneath: Faith, Reading, Hands (or Hobbies), Homemaking, Homeschooling, and Home Projects.

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If I complete only half of my hopes, I will still feel good. In the end, redeeming the time during lockdown is more about how I am using this unique time for the Lord rather than achievements. I dislike so much that our world is all about how much we do and not who we are. This time ought to be a cultivation of our character, a resting in His grace, a seeking of Him, and spending our days with submissive hearts.

This blog post by Rebekah at Ready to Be Offered shares my thoughts so well on accepting where we are right now, laying down before the line, and embracing the limitations put before us. This period of social isolation and home-living will be fruitful and peaceful as we do this, rather than a time of chafing and biting at the bit.

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So I encourage you to sit down and pray about redeeming this time and being intentional about lockdown. How can you cultivate your faith? How can you grow your habits? How can you improve your mind? How can you nourish your children? How can you build your home? How can you have a settled and joyful heart?

Friends, we can really flourish during this time!

What are some goals you might have during lockdown?

Lockdown: A Call Home

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Tonight, as of 11.59pm, all of New Zealand goes under lockdown. Our Prime Minister make the announcement on Monday in our bid to stop Coronavirus and protect the vulnerable people of our country. (In horrible irony/hypocrisy, this week our Parliament also voted to decriminalise abortion – but that is another complete post.)

After the initial sense of “oh my, a whole month”, I am now settling into the reality with relish. Obviously I am not happy for the reasons for being on lockdown, as an introvert and homebody, I am thrilled to have no outside pressures of “have to’s” demanding my attention and pulling the children and I out of the house.

We are allowed to go for walks around the neighbourhood, or go grocery shopping for essential supplies, but other than that, we must stay home.

This view will keep my soul still as we live in a still half-done house.

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In many ways, it is a call for an entire nation to simple living for a whole month. To step back out of the crazy busy world of 2020 living, and take a breather, and live the way (I believe), we are meant to. And I really pray that God uses this time to turn people’s hearts to Him and, for Christian families who have been caught in the current, draw them back to the peaceful waters of living a quiet life.

There is nothing more that I love is being home with my family, pottering around the house, and doing things I love like reading, writing, and growing in Jesus.

And I have two goals for this lockdown month: 1. Get in a good daily rhythm of learning with the children and; 2. Paint the stairwell and downstairs hall. (I haven’t done an update on the house in a while but will do so soon.)

I plan to finish reading Black Sheep by Georgette Heyer (a reread from many years ago). Have you ever read any of the novels by Georgette Heyer? They are so witty, delightful, and full of regency goodness.

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I also plan to start getting back into writing a novel. I have always desired to write about what it was like going from England to New Zealand as a colonist. There is a story in me but I am my own worst critic. Yet, through God’s grace, I will do it (eventually).

So I hope to enjoy and delight in this time and use it well for His glory.

How are you going to spend your lockdown?

Our 100-Year-Old Villa + Our New Life

In October 2019, we sold our house in Christchurch and moved five hours down south to Dunedin. Caught up in the whirlwind of when God (seems to) finally act on all your prayers and petitions, we hardly tapped on doors and they flew open. It shocked everyone, not just ourselves, how quickly everything happened. Even three months before we moved, I would have laughed if someone had told me we would be living in a very run-down house on a hill in Dunedin. I would have laughed hysterically. Perhaps we should name our house ‘Isaac’, from Sarah’s surprised laughter.
The first weekend our brick home was on the market, we had five offers on it. Within in a month it was sold to one of those buyers. In fact, it was sold exactly ten years, to the month, of when we had originally bought it. Suddenly we had to find a house to live in, quick smart. So we drove down to Dunedin one weekend to see what was on the market. Unfortunately, not much and what was for sale was way overpriced. Tim was going to be studying for three years – how could we afford such places? And then, we discovered the green house.

The green house is over one-hundred-years-old. The floors slope downwards, the roof leaked, the foundations had sunk, the front right-hand corner drooped. The title of the real estate ad was ‘DETONATE OR RENOVATE’. We found out later, once we bought the place, that we were the only ones at auction that were not destroying the house.

Tim has had to put 21 new piles into the foundation of the house because it had sunk so badly.

 

When Tim wanted to look at the house one more time before we left that weekend, I thought he was joking. It smelled horrible, there was graffiti on the walls, it felt like it was going to fall in. But, that second time through, I cannot explain it…We had prayed and prayed for the Lord to guide us and help us find the right house for us. The only other house we thought was possibly good was a 1.5 bedroom home, on a busy street, and pushing our financial limit even without the necessary renovations that would be needed.
As we walked around, though we saw how bad it was (though I really don’t think we knew how bad), it is as if we both saw the house in the future. We saw it revitalised, restored, redeemed. We saw love in it again and family life.

Honestly, as I thought about it afterward, it felt as if this house was a Gospel-picture of every sinner and what happens when Christ saves him. The sinner’s rotten brokenness is forgiven, wiped clean and, not just that, but every aspect of him, from his very core, is given new life. I believe God gave us that vision for this house.

The kitchen is usable but needed a good clean before we felt safe using it. The floor slopes toward the window.

 

Fast forward three months, with two-and-a-half months of living in it, as beautiful a picture as that Gospel-vision is – the reality is still very broken. The days have been long and hard. In fact, quite easily, this has been one of the hardest external things Tim and I have been through together.
We have had some dark moments, literally lying in the dark, wondering what possibly could have God been thinking of when He led us here. My darling husband, who bears the brunt of restoring this house, has been going through the Refiner’s Fire and it has been a joy and a heartache to see him through it. I, too, have struggled deeply with living in mess and dirt and cold and, well, discomfort.
But, this life is so good. Eight weeks with no hot water – God was good and provided. Ten weeks without a shower in our own home – God was good and provided. No carpet, wonky floors, draughty windows, rats in the roof, bad weather, and anxiety and fear and vulnerability. BUT, I could list the blessings and joys threefold more than the struggles. 

 

When a Christian follows the Lord and genuinely walks in obedience where He wants him to go, this does not mean that it will be easy. But it does mean it will be incredible. Your sins and weaknesses will be exposed, and the lies you believe about comfort and rights and needs are laid bare before you. Something as little as how the weather affects your mood will be from the Lord and is an opportunity to submit to Him. Yet, there is so much grace in Him and I have found so much deep JOY and REST in Him, even as I eat ice cream and mint biscuits every night.

We cannot see into the future, of course, but something in our spirits tells us that we will be here much longer than the three years of Tim’s theological study. This house, as it becomes restored, will be an enormous part of our family story – especially the children’s childhood. How they see their parents tackle hard things and awkward living and plain rough days will echo into their adulthood. Our school mornings around a table that leans with the front of the house. Playing on plywood floors that constantly have a layer of dirt on them. Watching their father sweat and battle and accomplish. Seeing their mother help, support, and make do with what they have…

 

Though this house and our living in it and making it new is now, I can see that this has eternal significance for our family. Eventually, all this work will pass away when Jesus returns to call us to our True Home, the sweat and tears and frustrations will be investments in something bigger, better, and more beautiful – in Tim and I, and our children. But that is something to rejoice in as we persevere and endure and believe in hope.
For now though, we battle on daily in grace. Each day, we make a little progress and genuinely rejoice, however small it may seem in the grand scheme of things. But one thing we are learning very clearly from the Lord in this time is this: we only have today, let us be faithful with the little things.

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?

New Season, New Life at Home

Autumn. It truly is a wonderful time of year. The strong heat has lessened. Flowers bloom their very last. Mornings are crisper. All the rich colours of the leaves. And, the very best, the warm sunlight that pours inside, inviting me to rest whenever I move through it.
My thirty-third birthday is coming up and I am in a new season of life. Our two sweet children are no longer super little. Josiah is six and Rosalie is speeding toward five. We’re learning to read, growing as people, and there is nary baby paraphenalia in sight. Goodness, it feels like opening the window to a warm sunny day after a long winter.
Life is no longer survival and getting through. There are hard days and weeks, yes! Oh, yes. Both children seem to tag-team struggles like a never ending relay race. But we’re all sleeping, and moving through our days with (most of the time) purpose and enjoyment. I am so thankful.
Just as our family is in a new season of childhood and homeschooling, I am changing, too. I have found myself deeply hungry for slow living and simple living over the last year. I can see how it is a long process of change. But I need it. I need a new level of being rooted. Not just rooted to our home (now almost ten years here), but also rooted to this life. Rooted into the rhythm of the days, of the months and seasons, living in a way that is in tune with all that surrounds.

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing.” ~ Annie Dillard
Summer brought much time outside. The beach, walking in the forest, playing outside, digging in the garden (still so naively), just enjoying life in the outdoors. With Autumn comes more time inside, more reading on the couch, more time to see the state of the home and, dare I say it, my homemaking habits and skills.

For Christmas, I bought myself The Made From Scratch Life. I have always wanted to live a quiet life, but in the last year or so, I have had a seed slowly growing with the desire to live a simple life. To take notice of everything I do. To watch my hands and slow down as I wash dishes or fold laundry. To enjoy good books and learn about good and beautiful things with the children rather than rushing through a curriculum. To keep learning to grow our own vegetables and relish making a home.
Much of the time, this can feel overwhelming. There is so much to learn and understand. Often my mood cannot be bothered and I don’t know enough to just push through that feeling. There are also many places to start living simply, where do I begin? 
But I know that Rome was not built in a day and neither is a good life. So, slowly, slowly, I’m reading and doing little things, getting into a better rhythm as a homemaker. We made the big decision to not sell and buy a new home (giving us a bigger mortgage), so we’re beginning major renovations on the home. It really feels like a new season and new life, at home.

What season are you in at home? Please share.