Psalms 107:19-21 – Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble and he saved them from their distress. He sent forth his word and healed them : He rescued them from the grave.
Lately, I have felt I have been struggling with adversity. It often feels like one wave crashing over me again and again with no break in between for me to catch a breath. During times like these, I become distracted by the waves that are crashing over me and I forget that I have God to pull me out of the waves.
The Bible defines adversity as adverse or unfavorable fortune or distress. When I feel distressed, I lack joy and peace and when I am not at peace, I cannot think or hear God clearly. It is as if my mind is in a state of confusion in that distress and I struggle to think straight. During times like this, I become so focussed on that distress and forget to look to God to save me from my troubles.
When I look to God in times of distress, I have the assurance of his safety and his peace. When I am focussed on who God is and what he can do, I no longer have to fear what I cannot see because it is God who goes before me. He sees what I cannot see and he is the one who is guiding and protecting me regardless of what may come my way. I must remember to take hold of the day for it is the Lord’s day and I will rejoice and be glad in it!
“Don’t be afraid”, the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, O Lord, open his eyes so that he may see.”Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all round Elisha.
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;Your works are wonderful, I know that full well
I was around 9 or 10 years old when I realised that academically, I wasn’t doing too well compared to my peers and classmates at school. I was falling behind and often struggled to pay attention in class. Throughout my schooling career, there were some teachers who cared and tried their best to help me while others probably thought I was a lost and hopeless case. It was around this time that I started to believe the lie that I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t intelligent enough, I was a slow learner and that I could not do maths. Maths was the subject I struggled the most in school. When I started to believe this lie, it filtered into other areas of my life and I started to believe that there wasn’t much that I was good at.
I was an athlete and the lie that I was not good enough began to affect my performance in sports, particularly running. I stopped trying my best when it came to running and other sports because I really believed that I wasn’t good at running. I went from excelling in sports to being mediocre. The truth is that running was an outlet for me. It gave me the freedom to express myself in areas of my life where I wasn’t able to or did not have the opportunity to express myself.
As I grow older, I have to come to realise that I am enough because of what Christ has done on the cross for me. He has shed his blood for my weaknesses, my failures and even my successes in life. I do not need to live up to the standards of the world, I look up and live to who God says I am. I am fully created in his image and my identity lies in him. He makes up for my shortcomings and regards me as qualified in his eyes. When I am qualified, I don’t need to strive or to look elsewhere to know who I a and to know who Christ has created me to be.
FEARFULLY AND WONDERFULLY MADE
I thank you God that you have created me with purpose and intention
I thank you that I was on your mindbefore I was formed in my mother’s womb
You thought longandhard before you decidedthat I was ready to be brought into this world
I thank you God because you knew what my characteristics and my personality would be,
What my journey in life would look like
I thank you that I am NOT a mistake
That I am your work of art- a Masterpiece you call “WONDERFUL“!
I thank you God because everything that you have created about me is indeed
You moulded and shaped me into what you wanted me to become
I was a mystery to the world
But to you, God I am not a mystery- I am FULLY known
You know my comings and my goings
You know what I need and when I need it
You knew what I was to become – you chose ME!
Every detail of my life has been laid before your eyes
Everything you had planned and prepared for me is not a mystery to you, oh God
“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the door-frames of your houses and on your gates.
Being introduced to God
When I was a child growing up, I attended a Christian school. On Sundays, I regularly attended church with my family. The way in which I was raised has had a large impact on how I raise my children today. I am grateful that my parents raised me in a christian home because this kind of upbringing allowed me to raise my children in a similar environment and to introduce them to a God who knows and loves them unconditionally. Although I was raised in a christian home, I did not come to really know God until I reached my mid-twenties. As I raise my children in this early years and as I nurture them, I am introducing them to a God who will one day remind them of what they have learned in our home. They will know that they have someone they can turn and trust in their moment of need.
Leaving an Imprint
When we parent our children in a godly home based on christian values, we leave an imprint. As a family, we have traditions for every season. At Christmas, it is our family tradition to decorate the Christmas tree. At Easter we have an easter egg hunt for the children and every Friday in the last few years, we introduced a traditional family movie night in our living room. The way in which we parent our children much like our family traditions, instills life-long godliness in them. Each time I say a night prayer with one my children, I am teaching them that there is a God who loves, protects and cares for them. When I play worship music in our house, my children see the joy I have within from being able to connect to our heavenly father through music and when we give thanksaround the dinner table, they are learning that God cares about the very small details of our lives. When I teach them to forgive a friend who has hurt them, they are learning that God wants us to forgive those who have hurt us. I have scriptures placed on the walls in my house that I use to remind me of God’s truthwhenever I forget who I am in Christ however it doesn’t always occur to me that I am exposing my children to the wisdom of God. When they walk around the house and see read God’s truth each and everyday, they are being transformed without knowing. They are unknowingly being spiritually fed. Ultimately, my role as a mother is to introduce my children to God and for God to do the rest. Whenever I feel that I am not doing enough to teach the kids about God, he reminds me that he sees my passion and desire to raise Godly children and he honours that.
Why I should introduce my children to God
They will know that there is someone who loves them more than I could ever love them.
They are fully known by the Almighty who has their best interests at heart.
They were created with a purpose in mind and when they are fully aware of this truth, they can walk in God’s truth about who they are and who God has created them to be.
They will know that they are God’s treasured possessions and that they are valued and forgiven.
They will have the mind of Christ Jesus
They will know that they can always trust in a power which is greater than their own power
They will be confident in who they are in Christ
Introducing my children to God from their own perspective
Sharing my struggles
When I share my struggles and how I have managed to overcome many obsticles in my life including my struggle with anxiety and fear, I am introducing my children to a loving father who gave his life to save us.
I have always felt the need to put on a brave face and to make sure that my children do not see me struggle however if I am vulnerable, it shows them that it is acceptable and allowed not to be okay all of the time.
Asking tough questions
I have always shied away from asking tough questions. However, when I ask tough questions, I am in a position to better understand my children’s perspective and why they might feel they way they feel about certain things. Asking tough questions also allows them the opportunity to express themselves.
Assuring my children how much I love them
When I tell my children how much I love them, I am sharing God’s love for them too. When we are assured of God’s love for us, we do not have to look elsewhere for love and acceptance. They can be secure and confident knowing to whom they belong.
Spending time with my children creates a bond between us. The more time I spend with my children, the stronger that bond becomes. The stronger that bond becomes, the more our relationship grows.
When I love my children unconditionally, I am showing them that they do not need to perform to be loved. They do not need to do the right thing in order to be loved. They are loved regardless. By doing so I am demonstrating the same love that Christ has for us. He loves us regardless of whether or not we do what we are supposed to do. He loves us through our struggles and failures and still sees us as his special treasure.
I am patient when I allow my children to make their own mistakes and learn from them. When I allow room for their mistakes, it is an opportunity for them to develop their character and gain wisdom.
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”I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever. The Helper is the Spirit of truth.
What it means to parent the Jesus way
I have dealt with mom guilt for most of my parenting journey. The feeling of guilt is a very heavy burden to carry. Being a mother is a very fulfilling role however, that is not to say that the journey so far has been easy. When my children were very little, I would experience guilty feelings about the smallest things such as going shopping and leaving my kids behind, even if in the trusted hands of their father. I felt I had to have them by my side each and every minute of the day otherwise I wasn’t being a good mother. As parents, God has called us to parent his way. When we parent his way, it results in complete freedom from guilt. He did not create me to carry the heavy load of guilt. My children were brought into the world to give me joy.
Parenting God’s way allows me to make mistakes. When I parent God’s way, the mistakes I make along the way do not damage my children in the long term. Instead my mistakes and failures help me to grow and become an even better parent. God’s grace makes way for my parenting mishaps. Parenting God’sway is about exposing my children to God and his infinite goodness and mercy. This might look a little different to how other parents expose their own kids to Jesus. I use worship music when my kids first wake up in the morning because I firmly believe this sets the tone for the day. We say what we are thankful for around the dinner table and more so when one of the kids has had a tough day so that they remember than even in hard times we can remain thankful for the smallest of things. Practicing the gift of patiencein my parenting is a way in which God would want me to parent. Being patient allows them to make mistakes and gives room for growth and the ability to learn from those mistakes.
Why I should parent God’s way
He is a patient and loving God who gives wisdom to all who ask. When I am worried about my children, he calms my fears and gently reminds me that he is always in control. Parenting God’s way allows him to guide and lead me in my parenting. When I lack confidence, he assures me that I am doing a better job than I think. Sometimes God gently whispers something my children might need from me. One Friday morning while making my coffee, God gently nudged me to tell my kids how very proud of them I was, that they were doing such a brilliant job at school and how well they were working. It just so happened that on that Friday, that the school was giving out their weekly awards to all the children. My kids didn’t get an award that day BUT, I know that they did not feel too disappointed at not receiving anything because they knew that their hard work had not go unnoticed. When I parent in his way, he gives me the grace and strength I need when parenting feels tough. When all seems to go wrong in my eyes and I don’t feel I am winning at being a mother, his grace allows me to move forward from my mistakes.
Being intentional in parenting God’s way
1.Asking God for wisdom
When I ask God for his opinion when it comes to parenting it removes the pressure to do or say the right thing. It might be as simple as asking God what my children need from me each day. Do they need me to shower them with compliments? Do they need a simple hug or do they simply just need to be left alone? As kids start to enter theirteenage years it becomes a little more difficult to read their body language. Sometimes they do not want me to hug or cuddle them because to them I am treating them like babies however there may be times where they might really need that hug if they have had a particularly difficult day at school.
2.Giving myself Grace
I don’t always get things right, I may be distracted or busy at any moment and not recognise what my children need, I may shout and get angry when we don’t leave the house on time to get to school. At times I also lack patience. I have days where I simply don’t feel like parenting especially when I feel burnt out and exhausted. When this happens however I need to give myself grace in those situations.
3. Not making comparisons when it comes to parenting
I have the habit of comparing my parenting to others. This only makes me feel less competent as a parent. We all have different styles of parenting. My husband and myself have a balanced but relaxed style of parenting. If my children were out of control then perhaps this would not be the correct way to parent, however they are well behaved and respectful children and this means I don’t need to be particularly strict apart from exeptional circumstances.
4. Asking for help
Since leaving my home country nearly 10 years ago, I have struggled to ask for help when it comes to parenting. I remember when my daughter was a baby, I was desperate for advice on parenting, what to feed her etc as I didn’t always know what to do as a new mother. When I moved to a foreign country, my support system was no longer available and I had to manage on my own relying on my instincts. However, my children are not far from teenage years and I am finding myself looking for parenting advice from those with older children. Parenting God’s way means asking for advice from friends and family. It means asking friends to pray during difficult situations that make parenting a tough journey.
5. Sharing my concerns with my husband
At times when I find parenting tough, I fail do a good job of letting my husband know how I feel. I try to manage difficult situations on my own. Parenting God’s way means I have to be honest with my husband about how I’m feeling and how I feel in a tough situations. If I am open and honest, it takes the load off my shoulders because I have a partner to share this parenting journeywith me and I do not need to attempt to manage it all on my own.
6. Finding fullfillment In other areas of my life
As my children become older, I find myself having more time on my hands. I have started new hobbies and I am developing new interests such as joining a running club, swimming and decorating various rooms in the house. I am beginning to embrace thisnew phase of parenthood. Being intentional in my parenting is about pouring my love and efforts into other areas of my life, more specifically, my marriage as well as my business. By doing so, I am not over-investing in my children and I am ultimately allowing them to grow and develop in the way that God has intended them to grow and mature.
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Motherhood is one of the greatest sources of fulfilment in this world. For me, motherhood means trusting God with my children even though it has been a process for me to get to a place where I feel I can completely allow myself to let go and trust him. God knows what my children need more than I do. Once I got to that truth, it helped me get to a place where I was able to place my trust in him especially during times when my children would have to pass through emotional difficulties.
Motherhood has taught me to let go of the many expectations I had for my children. One of my expectations as a mother was that my children would be raised in a similar way that I was raised. I was brought up in a township in South Africa, I had good parents and a good upbringing. Despite my hope for my kids having a similar upbringing to my own, God had to remind me that there are some factors that exist that ultimately would mean that my children would in fact have a very different upbringing to my own. Firstly, they have been brought up in England which is culturally very different to the township that I grew up in between 1984 and 1998. Secondly, they are being raised by two parents who are from two very different backgrounds and cultures. My husband was brought up in a small coastal village in the North of England. At times when I have had conversations with my husband, I know that he too would have loved for his children to be brought up in the same village. We both have such fond memories of our upbringing and so it would be natural to have the same dreams for our children. I was raised in a typical African household where adults were adults and children were children. When I look at my kids, I fully acknowledge the stark differences between own my upbringing and their own. They are not as naive as I was at their age, they freely speak their minds and they well aware of what is going on in the world.
The reality is that I am still trying to figure out what motherhood really means. I believe the learning will stop as long as I am still alive. As my children grow older, I am purposely attempting to be a little more relaxed in my parenting to allow them to express themselves as individuals. I am beginning to learn how not to parent out of fear.
My Fears about motherhood
I used to be afraid that my children would not be self sufficient when they became adults. This stems from my own fears as a young adult where I struggled to become self sufficient. More often times than not, I made the mistake of comparing myself to my peers. Some of my peers had cars by the age of 23 and yet there I was struggling to simply hold down a job. I have learned to lean on God in this area and trust that his promises are yes and amen!
I was bullied as a child and I was never able to stand up for myself. From these childhood scars, I had an inherent fear that my children would not be able to stand up for themselves. However, the truth is that my children have been brought up in different circumstances and have been raised in a different environment to the one in which I was brought up. This does not mean they will never been bullied but it does mean that when they do need to stand up for themselves, they have the tools that they need to look after themselves. They are confident, strong-willed and secure. Something I lacked as I was growing up.
I grew up in a home were my parents were overly protective of myself and my siblings for their own personal reasons. This may be true to a large extent, however my unhealthy fear led me to believe that because the world was not a safe place, I needed to shield my children from the world because if I didn’t protect them then something bad would happen to them. As I have begun the process of letting go and let God take over, I have started to experience an inner peace in me. One where I am more relaxed as a mother and where I have no longer stress out about the small things.
What Jesus says about my Fears…
I am fully equipped for my role as a mother
I believe that God matches children with their parents in terms of personality, make-up and character. I know that my personality and my fun character draws my children towards me.
“I praise you for I am wonderfully and fearfully made” . God has created me the way he has for a purpose and a reason. I believe my calling to be a mother has a lot to do with my character and my personality.
I do not need to work extra hard to ensure my children honour and love me. I am enough as I am.
I do not need to compare my parenting to others
My parenting is unique to my own children and my parenting matches their personalities. My parenting style matches my own personality. I have a gentle personality and therefore my parenting style is gentle but firm when needed.
I am doing an amazing job as a mother
I need to let go of the self-doubt and the guilt that surrounds me and learn take hold of God’s promises and his faithfulness.
It is the LORD who goes before you.He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
He sees my passion for motherhood and he honours it
God honours my love for being a mother and the effort that I put into what he has called me to do. He see me as strong and capable, brave and courageous, wise and fearless as a mother.
“She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future.“
How I grow in confidence as a Mother…
Mistakes are necessary
Without mistakes there can be no room for growth. My mistakes do not define me. Neither will my parenting mistakes define my children but they will help me to grow.
I am enough
I am enough as I am. I cannot give what I simply do not have and that is OKAY!
It’s ok to have a bad day
I am allowed to have days where I do not feel like parenting. This doesn’t make me a bad mother.
I must run my own race
I cannot model my parenting based on parenting books or someone else’s style of parenting.
I do not need to make small things into bigger things.
Stop doubting myself
Self doubt reduces my confidence in parenting and stifles my growth.
“God is within her, she will not fall.”
I can be thankful that God had given me the opportunity to be a mother.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
Remembering that God is always working in me
God works in me helping me to parent and to be the best mother I can be to my children. I can trust that he has and will always have me in the palm of his hands throughout my journey as a mother.
The Lord God said, “it is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
Genesis 2: 18
The book of Genesis explains how God formed the first man and woman. What I find most significant is that the very first miracle Jesus performed was at a wedding in Cana. It was at this wedding celebration where Jesus turned water into wine. The marriage of the groom was indeed a blessed union because the couple had invited Jesus to their union.
In my own marriage, I have found that inviting Jesus to be the centre of my marriage has helped me to become a better wife to my husband. God has so far used my marriage to discipline and to humble me and this has in turn helped become the wife that my husband needs. God also knows my own needs. He knows that I am far from perfect. I have strong opinions and beliefs, I am headstrong in more ways than one and I often find it difficult at times to compromise on certain issues however, when God works in me, he changes my heart and as my heart is changed, my husband’s heart is changed and this means we are able to work together simultaneously towards our common goals – growing together in love as a couple, enjoying each other’s company and raising our children the way God would want us to raise them.
How God views Marriage
God views a marriage as a blessed union, a partnership and a source of joy and companionship. More importantly, God views marriage as an extension of his love towards us – his people. In God’s eyes, marriage in it’s entirety, is a human fulfilment which he has intentionally designed for us because of his great love for us. Christ likens the relationship between himself and his people-the church to a husband and wife.
“Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives be subject to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church, His body, and is himself its saviour.
God loves the institution of Marriage
Then the Lord God made a woman out of the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man
Genesis 2: 22
When God created Eve from the rib of Adam, from that moment on, both Adam and Eve were in a marriage union. God created a desire within Adam for a wife. As a result, Adam loved Eve in a godly way. When I love my spouse the way that God intended only then am I able to love all those around me, my family, my friends and even strangers. The love that I have for my husband is intentionally meant to spread to all those around me. John 15:12 commands us to love each other the way that Christ has loved us.
God achieves his Purpose through Marriage
The book of Ruth and the story of Esther in the Bible shows how God was able to use the institution of marriage to fulfil his purpose here on earth. Firstly, God used Boaz to meet Ruth’s destiny. Ruth bore a son for Boaz ad the very son that Ruth and Boaz gave birth to was the future father of Jesse who would then become the father of the King David. Generations later, Jesus Christ would be born into the world through the same lineage of King David and would come to rescue us all from sin and death so that we could come to live with the father for all eternity.
God was able to use Esther’s marriage to King Xerxes to save the Jews who were under threat of being wiped out. It was God who divinely set up Esther and the King to meet at the king’s banquette. The King was immediatly drawn to Esther despite him having many concubines in the palace and treated Esther more favourably than the other concubines in the palace. After being informed by her cousin, Morcedai that a decree was in place to wipe out all Jews, Esther and her people, the Jews in the city of Citadel fasted for 3 days asking God to come to their rescue. Now the King had a law in place that stated that nobody was to make any special requests to him unless they were summoned by name. A period of 6 months, a year or more could pass before any concubine would be summoned by the King. If anyone went against this law, the consequence was death. After fasting, Esther made a very brave and courageous request to the King asking to have a meeting with him without being summoned. It was in this meeting that Esther finally revealed her true identity to the King after keeping it a secret for fear of being put to death. Esther also requested that the King revoke the order that all Jews in the city be killed and that he should spare her people. The King’s favour towards Esther meant that the decree of death on the Jews was revoked by the King. Not only did the King do this for Esther, but he made sure that the very person who issued out the decree, a man by the name of Haman was put to death. God used the marriage between Esther and the King to save the Jews from total annhilation.
Marriage makes us the best versions of ourselves
We all have different strengths as individuals and I have found that in my own marriage, my husband is always quick to forgive when we disagree. I often wish I could be just as quick to forgive and find myself trying to change my ways because of his patience and his forgiveness towards me.
God’s Design for Marriage
“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
God’s design for marriage is one where both individuals are dedicated to one another, ensuring that one another’s needs are always met. He wants us to pick each other up whenever any of us stumbles. If I face a struggle, it becomes my husband’s struggle too and in the same way, his struggle becomes my own. God wants to share in each other’s joys, successes, achievements, and grief. Marriage should be a source of intimacy, strength and joy for both individuals.
If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
Lessons to be learned from Marriage
Being married has taught me how to be humble and to respect my husband. This is one of the areas where I have really struggled. It takes a heart of humility to admit when I am wrong. Thankfully I have a husband who is always patient with me.
God loves an obedient character. Esther was obedient to Morcedai when he instructed her on how to behave when she was placed in the King’s palace. Her obedience won her favour with God and the King who later chose Esther to be his wife out of all the concubines in the palace. God rewards obedience and he rewarded Esther for her obedience to him.
As a naturally impatient person, marriage has taught me to have patience and to persevere through trials. My marriage journey has taught me that tough times do not last forever. Instead tough times have made us a stronger couple and has turned us into stronger individuals. Each time we go through a tough period as a couple, we become more cemented in God’s love and who he has called us to be. I become more content and joyful about the small things in my life. I appreciate my husband more and I enjoy the privilege that comes with growing older with him each day.
Banana bread is one of my favourite baked goods to make. When I discovered that I was gluten intolerant I spent the first year totally giving up on all baked products because I felt a lot better in myself when I wasn’t eating baked goods and breads. I had not yet learned that I could still enjoy my favourite gluten-free baked goods. When I finally discovered this recipe, after much failure, I decided that this was the recipe to settle on. The recipe is not only tasty without the use of eggs (I am intolerant to egg yolk too!) but also has no processed sugar which is excellent if you like to avoid instant sugar highs. @fivesehealth
2 ripe bananas
3/4 Oat flour
6 tbsp Almond Flour
1 tbsp Maple syrup
1 1/4 Baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 Tspn Vanilla essence
Blend bananas into a smooth consistency or mash up with a fork.
Add dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix with a spoon.
Add banana mixture and vanilla essence with the dry ingredients and mix well. (Make sure that you have a fairly thick consistency)
Place the mixture onto a small sized baking tray and bake in the oven for 55-60 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius in a fan oven or 200 degrees Celsius in an electric oven.