Why I have four and no more

Kids at Box Hill

I am a competitive women.  I love challenge, goals and lots of work.  I thrive on that.  My husband is super chill.  He loves lie-ins, days on the beach, barbecues (or a braai as my South African hubby will insist I call it) and golf.  When we first talked about having kids (which was on our honeymoon in case you were wondering) we talked about our dreams of a large family and settled on the number 6.  When I had my fourth I went into it knowing that this would probably be my last.  And then my husband told me that he definitely wanted it to be our last.

But I must confess, to this day whenever I see a mother of five or more kids I get a  jealous pang in my stomach.  My competitiveness strikes up and I start convincing myself that I could easily do that and that we definitely need to have more kids.  And then I’ll see smaller families with nicer clothes, cars and lifestyles and feel a jealous pang of desire for the finer side of life.  This is totally ridiculous but this is the battle field of my mind and emotions.  The only way I can get the right perspective on this is to get God’s perspective.

There is no perfect number of children, there is no right or wrong sized family.  I’ve heard and read so many different opinions of why we should never stop having kids to why we shouldn’t be having any.  But lets be willing to hear from God about our own family.  Only he knows the end from the beginning and he is the one who has prepared good works for us to do.

I see the mum of two very presentable children with a successful career looking down at the stay at home mum of more kids wondering how much of her taxes is going to supporting that family.   And then there’s the stay at home mum of growing numbers of children shocked and appalled at the neglect of the working mother.  Do you see where this is going??  Around in circles.   Lets stop comparing and start preparing for the work God has for each and everyone one of us.

When I had to come to terms with having four and no more this is what God shared with me. “Husbands love your wives and wives submit to your husbands” Col 3:18-19.  Now my mum could preach a whole other sermon on that scripture but I’m just going to say this.  My husband loves me – really, truly, deeply and madly.  So therefore I definitely, absolutely, whole-heartedly and respectfully need to submit to him.

I always think of this when it comes to family decision making.  Our marriage came first and then our children, and our marriage will go on after our children are grown and gone.  Invest in the marriage, keep it healthy, happy, growing and thriving and we’ll always have success in our family.

Let me just leave you with a few things to check in your heart and pray about when deciding on the size of your family.

1. Is this what God wants for us?

2. Am I in agreement with my husband?

3. How will this affect my marriage?

4. How will this affect the children we already have?

Now may the God of peace… equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him.
All glory to him forever and ever! Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21

Mind Over Matter

White peach and Asparagus Salad

White peach and asparagus salad

The past 10 days my husband and I did a Daniel fast.  This is basically like going vegan plus no caffeine.  We both felt God had put it on our hearts to do this and so we started it together thinking we’d go for 21 days.  We were fasting, praying and excited about hearing God speak to us.  Then something happened.  I hit day 5 and something just snapped in my brain.  By three o’clock every day my brain and body just started to shut down.  I couldn’t answer questions, I couldn’t lift up the kids and all I wanted to do was sleep.  Patience, long-suffering and self-control were completely out of the picture.

Feeling called by God to do this temporary partial fast seemed completely doable and totally worth the sacrifice but then my husband saw me struggling and told me I needed to stop.  I eventually gave in on day 10 and went out and ate a big piece of steak.  I felt energy sinking into my bones and was instantly happy again.  That night I felt like a huge failure.  How could I give up so easily all for a piece of steak???

I felt embarrassed and spiritually deflated.  How could God speak to me now?? My mind was slipping.  But was this a spiritual attack?  No, this was a lack of nutrition.  My body was lacking, not my spirit.  This is what God showed me.

Sometimes we can feel unmotivated, unambitious, lethargic and even moody.  We can think it’s just the way we are.  This is who we are and we’ve just got to do the best with what we’ve got.  But I’ve discovered that our bodies need to be taken care of in the same way we take care of our spirits.  And we need to discipline our bodies so that they can submit to the spirit.  I remember thinking, “How can I have the mind of Christ when my mind is broken?”  I thought I was a spiritual failure and that God couldn’t use me.

But that’s not the truth.  We all have to renew our minds AND our bodies.  We have to nurture, discipline and exercise our spirits and our bodies.  This is a daily thing.  We can’t run a marathon one day and then never run again and think we’ll be fit for the rest of our lives.  Neither can we attend Bible college for a year and think we’ll walk with God for the rest of our lives. We have to train in order to sustain.

Time To Purge

Josiah's room messy

As we come to the end of the month I’m heading towards a move – within my own house.  Sounds crazy, but it seems like its just as much work.  I have to sort, pack and purge absolutely everything from socks to beds.  I have had to do this many times in my life, but every year without exception I seem to have more stuff to sort out.  How does this happen?  I’m not a shopper, I don’t just buy things from the shops for leisure.  So where does this stuff come from??

Inevitably with more people definitely comes more stuff.  So when I have to sort out and remove things from our house it always reminds me of the purging I need to do in my own heart.  As I sort through my living room I find items brought in around the time I fell in love, got married, had my first child, had my last child and I realise that I’ve held onto them no matter how useless or tacky they are simply because I obtained them at very special and happy time in my life.  You know, like when you see someone holding onto that haircut that made them look 10 years younger and 10 lbs lighter – back in the 80’s.  Then I find hair ties, dozens of half used rubbers, broken pieces of leggo and the tops to at least 10 pens all collected with the hopes of being used again.  Suddenly I realise how easy it is to just grab onto things and never let them go again.

Just as our houses collect things so do our hearts.  A disappointment, failure, insecurity, shame, un-forgiveness, regret.  We can hold on to these things all too easily and with time forget they’re even there.  We have to be intentional about the things of the heart.  It’s easy to forget what’s in there and how much of an impact unnecessary clutter can have on our daily lives.  It gets in the way, slows us down, and sometimes stops us from moving on.  Years can go by with an unnoticed and unwanted issue and then suddenly it needs to be dealt with.  I don’t want to be scared of letting go of the junk to make way for the new.  Let’s get good at letting stuff go so we can let God in.

“…let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”  Hebrews 12:1-2

Happy purging!

Let’s Dance

Josiah & Olivia dancing

My husband and I love to dance.  We fell in love dancing and haven’t stopped since. We also love to praise God.  We turn up a praise song good and loud and just go dance crazy with all the kids.  It’s so much fun.  But sometimes it can be hard to find a good dance song that worships God.  But we found it.  The Young and Free album by Hillsong is such a breath of fresh air.  It’s like nothing I’ve ever heard from a church before.  It will get your blood pumping, your body moving, and your heart focused on Jesus.

Take a listen and see if you can’t resist a good groovin’.

Coming Home

When I was hurting, angry, bitter and lost in my shame I made the three classic mistakes that Simba made, I listened to the lies, ran away and tried to hide from my problems thinking I would have to make a new life for myself as a different person.  And while I was hiding I forgot who I really was – a child of God.  But I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life stuck in the wilderness.  So I stood up to the enemy and decided to take back what was mine.  

I stayed at church, I stayed married, and bit by bit I remembered who I really was.  I realised through every worship song, every bible verse and prayer that I had been forgiven.  And with that forgiveness comes freedom.  I didn’t have to live in the turmoil of my past mistakes.  I was given a new life.  I was given a new hope.  I was given salvation by grace.  I just had to take hold of it.

The question we need to ask is why did Scar (the enemy) want Simba out of the Pride Land?  Why did he want him to not just leave but never return?  I’ll tell you why, he wanted to steal the promise and inheritance of Simba’s throne.

As sons and daughters of the King, Jesus, we are all included in the inheritance of God.  We are all royal.  And that’s the one thing the enemy will always try to take away from us – our inheritance and promise of eternal life.  The enemy does not want us in God’s house, he wants us in the wilderness.  So he will do anything to make you run away from the Kingdom of God and believe you don’t deserve His inheritance.  That God doesn’t love you or want you.  These are all lies.

To remember who we are  we need to remember who our Father is and where we really belong.

“In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope… and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.”*

Don’t let the enemy rob you of what is rightfully yours. Don’t give in and surrender your birth right. Choose to believe the truth – that Jesus died on the Cross to bring salvation and set you free from the lies of the enemy.   You are royalty, you have a promise of an inheritance.  You belong in the Kingdom of God.  And like Simba did, run back to the Kingdom and take back what is yours.

In the words of Rafiki – “It is time.”

*I Peter 1:3

This is the last the Lion King Lessons.  To read the series click here.

Lion King Lesson III – Remember Who You Are

This is Lion King Lesson III.  Read post I here and post II here.

Do you remember that crazy baboon in The Lion King, Rafiki – ‘Asanti sana, squashed banana’.  That baboon seemed totally nuts, but he loved the King and was its helper – just like the Holy Spirit.  He felt despair when he saw the Pride Land fall to ruin under Scar.

When he found Simba in the wilderness he led him back to his father.  That is what the Holy Spirit does.  He’s our helper, our guide and our comforter.  He always draws us to the Father God.  When Simba realised that Rafiki knew his father and told him that his father was still alive Simba chased after him.

At first Simba thought he found nothing but his own reflection.  But he looked closer and found his father within him.  This is what his father said to him:

‘You have forgotten me… You have forgotten who you are and so have forgotten me… Look inside yourself.  You are more than what you have become… You must take your place in the [Kingdom of God].”

Simba replies “How can I go back? I’m not who I used to be?”

“Remember who you are. You are my son and the one true king. Remember who you are.

I had been lost in the wilderness so long I had forgotten who I really was.  I forgot that I had a heavenly Father who loved me and always forgave.  I believed the lie that my sin was too big and bad to forgive.  But then the Holy Spirit helped me find my Father God again and remember who I really am.  He made me see that just because I had made mistakes in my life his love for me never changed. I felt like I would never be able to go back and do the things I was born to do because I just wasn’t the same person any more.  But that didn’t matter because I was his daughter, an heir to the throne and nothing could change that in my life – no matter how far away I had gone from him.  I was still his daughter and he still loved me.  I just needed to remember.

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love… indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

But how could I go back and do the things I knew God wanted me to do???  Find out in my next post…

Lion King Lesson II – Don’t Get Stuck in the Wilderness

This is Lion King Lesson II.  Read the first post here to follow the story.

After the death of Simba’s father, Mufasa, Scar blamed, shamed and scared Simba into running away and never return.  That was the first mistake Simba made.  He believed the lies of the enemy and acted on them.  He ran and kept running until he ended up in the wilderness.

But then something happened to Simba out in the wilderness, he made friends.  Friendly and funny, Timone and Pumba enter the scene and show him how great the wilderness is to live in.  They tell Simba that he doesn’t have to worry about the past, that he can run away from it and life will be fantastic – all you gotta do is sing ‘Hakuna matata’ – no cares, no responsibility and no worries.  Oh yes, it sounds so care-free, spontaneous and therepeutic that it can be very appealing.  But these are merely more lies that instead of bringing fear brought trust.  Timone and Pumba do such a great job at deceiving (I mean convincing) Simba into staying in the wilderness that they even convince him to eat bugs for the rest of his life.

Now that sounds completely insane, but when we’re hurting and lost we’ll try anything to make us feel better.  Simba was willing to live like a meerkat instead of a lion as long as he didn’t have to face his fears.  Simba started living the lie rather than living the promise, all he had to do was sing along.  They made him believe that the wilderness was better than the Kingdom and he got stuck there.  The worst kind of wilderness to be in is the one we think looks like a Kingdom.  Simba thought he was living like a King but he was really living like a peasant.

There was a time in my life when I got stuck in the wilderness.  I thought that was where my life would be forever and tried to make the best of it singing away my troubles – as they say.  But it didn’t change the fact that I was broken and hurting.  I ran to the wilderness to hide and left all my gifts, talents, hopes and dreams behind.  And rather than feeling better I felt more and more lost.  Nothing seemed to make sense any more and I lacked purpose in everything, so all I lived for was myself.  I grew more and more bitter, angry and disillusioned in my wilderness.    But weeks, months and years went by and I thought nothing would ever change, until one day it did…

 Look out for my next post, coming soon, to read more of this story.