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My Journey of Motherhood

The meaning of Motherhood

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.

Psalms 139:14

“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.

  • Cease striving

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.

Deuteronomy 31:6-8

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.

Proverbs 31:25

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.

  • Being relaxed

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.

Psalm 46:5

“God is within her, she will not fall.”

  • Thankfulness

I can be thankful that God had given me the opportunity to be a mother.

Psalm 118:1

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.

Proverbs 31: 27-28

She watches over the affairs of her household

and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Her children rise up and call her blessed;

her husband praises her as well:

“Many daughters have done noble things,

but you surpass them all!”

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Jesus at the centre of my Marriage

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.

Ephesians 5:21

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

Ruth

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.

Esther

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.”

Ephesians 5:21

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.

Ecclesiastes 4:10

Lessons to be learned from Marriage

Humility

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.

Obedience

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.

Patience

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.

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Letting go and letting God…

Photo by: Journey-of-Healing

Then you will know the truth and the truth shall set you free.

John 8:32

Letting go of the “small stuff”

I have noticed that the older I become, the more important I feel it is to let go of the small things in life. If I could turn back time, I would tell my younger self not to sweat the small stuff. I would tell myself not allow certain situations to overwhelm me or hinder my growth and what God is doing in my life.

I’m the kind of person who likes to keep my house fairly tidy and organised even with children in the house! In the past, there would be times where I would take one look at the state of my house – the pile of laundry waiting to be ironed, the untidy kitchen or the the toys lying all round the house and I would very quickly and easily become overwhelmed and feel like the whole world was on my shoulders. I have come such a long way from the person I was in those days. Emotionally, I’m a lot tougher and stronger than I used to be – however, even this I do sometimes forget! I could easily blame this on the many years of telling myself “I can’t”. “I can’t face the day today”, or “I can’t manage the kids for another day on my own!”. Today, as I walked into the kitchen this very afternoon and noticed the trail of sticky strawberry smoothie my precious daughter had just blended up, instead of going into panic mode, I counted my blessing that I have been blessed with a beautiful family and the mess they leave behind is simply evidence of how much God had blessed and lavished his love upon me!

Jesus Paid the Price

I feel as though I am continuously on a journey of discovering who God really is. So far what I have discovered is that he is not a judgmental God who points a finger each and every time time I mess up. I know that whenever I fail, I am completely covered by His grace. I know that he is pleased with me and he loves my flaws and imperfections. He certainly doesn’t expect me to be perfect because he has created me quite the opposite. He knows my weaknesses and he sets me free from guilt and condemnation – something that I have struggled with for a very long time.

John 15:2. He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, and every branch that does bear fruit, He prunes to make it even more fruitful.

John 15 lets me know that God is constantly working in me. That which may not be pleasing to him, he will keep working within me to make me better. John 15 says I am loved and accepted when I think the wrong thoughts and when I make bad decisions. When Jesus paid the price it not only meant that all my sins were forgiven, it meant that he had already paid the price for my inadequacy. I have a tendency to hide my feelings from God whenever I feel that I fall short except what I don’t always realise is that God already knew I would fall short from the day I was conceived so my shortfalls really don’t surprise him.

Walking in Freedom

John 8:32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

John 8 reminds me of the freedom that have today. The kind of freedom that comes with knowing God’s truth. The truth is that I am loved and I am accepted even when I fail. I am still loved and accepted when I think the wrong thoughts and when I make the wrong decisions. A part of walking in freedom is about being vulnerable with God and I often believe that I have to have it all together especially in my weaknesses. I can thank God that he sent his son Jesus to pay the price for my shame and my guilt. Instead of feeling shame when I mess up, I can come to the throne of God and ask Him to help me be better and I choose to walk in confidence with my head held high.

What I have learned from Letting go and letting God

As I learn to let go of what is not so important in this life and started to embrace what God has in store for me, I have learned to start trusting God to take care of my daily needs. I have learned that not everything is and will be in my control and what I cannot control I am learning to allow God to control. I can only handle each day as it comes without the added worries of the following day. Letting go of the small stuff has given me a sense of peace and calm for myself and even for those around me.

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How God Healed me of Anxiety

Do not be anxious for anything, but in every situation, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Phillippians 4:6

Defining my anxiety

If you asked me years ago how to define anxiety, I couldn’t give you an answer. I didn’t know what anxiety was until it started to take hold of me. I have always been a calm soul. I didn’t that I had anything to worry about and managed to live a rather carefree life.

Early trauma

When I was about 15 years old, my grandmother died. As I sit here blogging, the one thing that stands out to to me is that I didn’t cry. I remember visiting her in hospital after she had been in a bad car accident. Seeing her in the state she was in, I didn’t shed a tear. I walked out of that hospital like nothing had happened and life went on as normal. After a string of traumatic events, I believe my anxiety manifested itself because I tried to be strong for too long. Being anxious meant living with a flood of thoughts in my head- all bad thoughts each and everyday and I felt as if I couldn’t stop myself from thinking these thoughts.

My anxiety came about as a result of broken down relationships, stress, loss of people who were close to me and also as a result of not dealing with the trauma I had experienced earlier on in life. As I became older, I started to become weighed down by the cares of life. Trying to balance work and family life further contributed to my anxiety. I struggled to make use of the networks and support that God had already provided for me. I dealt with my personal struggles on my own and didn’t ask for help. I believe that God places certain people in our lives for a reason. We aren’t meant to do life on our own. We have a network of family and friends and I am thankful for the people that God has placed in my life.

Anxiety ruled my day to day life

Each morning as soon as I would wake , a flood of anxious thoughts would fill my head. All the things that could possibly go wrong that day, the fear of something bad happening to my children and family, the fear of losing my job over a silly mistake, it was endless. As these thoughts started to flood my head each and every day, eventually I stopped seeing the joy in life. Without realising, my worries began to send me into a depression, however, I didn’t know that I was depressed. I functioned with everyday life pretty well and there were no obvious signs. I took care of my family the best way I knew how but I didn’t do very well when it came to looking after myself.

I would constantly have this sinking feeling that something bad would happen to someone I loved. This feeling stayed with me for a few years. My anxiety affected my family relationships and I tried to find ways to survive and keep my head from going under water each and everyday. It was hard work! I remember how I used exercise as a coping mechanism although it never fully took my anxiety away, it would mask the feelings and symptoms of anxiety because exercise gave me a focus. When I think about it, it would have made more sense to speak to someone I trusted. The problem with silence is that if you remain silent, fears become bigger than they really are. This how the enemy uses these opportunities to instill more fear. Fear is the biggest liar of all.

How God began to heal me

I started to believe anxiety was a part of me and that my only option was to accept that it would never go away and to learn to live with it. However, I came to realise that this wasn’t God’s plan for me.

First, God showed me where my anxiety stemmed from – the years of trauma that I had not yet dealt with and the many years of pretending to be OK. In order for me to heal, I would need to deal with the root causes of where my anxiety stemmed from.

As God started to gently deal with each and every trauma from the past that had not been acknowledged, I started to realise that anxiety was no longer a heavy burden that I was carrying around. Suddenly it was not so hard. Days would pass without anxious thoughts and episodes. Eventually weeks would pass and I would struggle to remember the last time I had an ‘anxious’ episode. I started to noticed that I had joy – something I never fully had before on a daily basis. The more God healed each wound the further anxiety started to move away from me and my the light in me that was once dim began to shine within. I started to grow closer to God and eventually all the anxiety I had struggled with over a period of 5 years felt quite distant.

Being anxiety-free and what it means

To say out loud that I have been set free from anxiety feels like a dream only because I never believed I would be set free. There was a time I believed I would carry this burden for the rest of my life. It truly feels like God did an enormous miracle in life. I have lived in my anxiety state of mind for a number of years and at times I have to be reminded that I have in fact been set free and I am no longer a prisoner in my mind. God has given me a new way of thinking -one that is anxiety-free and I have to rejoice and live in freedom.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

2 Corinthians 5:17

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Perseverance

The Woman with the issue of blood

When I think of the meaning behind the word perseverance I am reminded of the woman with the issue of blood in the book of Matthew 9:20 who had been suffering with her condition for 12 years. I cannot begin to imagine how she must have struggled not only physically but emotionally during her period of suffering. The loneliness of isolation and the depression she would have experienced due to her condition.

Thankfully, Jesus had a specific time in mind for this woman to be restored back to her full health.

The woman was healed when Jesus was walking to the home of a ruler who had asked of Jesus that he heal his 12 year old daughter. As I read the words, I kept asking myself what God trying to achieve by choosing this specific moment in time? The woman who had struggled for so long came back to life when she touched the edge of Jesus’s cloak. She had been spiritually dead all of those 12 years and at that very moment of healing she came back to life. Her name was Veronica. She is said to be one of the women who walked with Jesus tending to him when he carried the cross. The two people whom God had chosen to heal on this momentous day also experienced an awakening and a re-birth in their lives. Both the life of the 12 year old girl and the woman were completely turned around from that moment onwards.

Why God wants me to persevere

I have realised throughout my struggles that each time God makes a promise, that very promise is already cemented in heaven. When he shines light onto a situation that I am facing this usually means he has already provided a solution. The beauty of persevering through situations whether they are health struggles or everyday struggles means that with each and every one of my struggles I become emotionally stronger and better able to deal with surprises that life brings along the way. If I can persevere through any situation and do so with joy, I can stand strong and tall and boast about the God who sustains me.

The Bible promises a reward for those who persevere.

James 1: 2-4

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Examples of people in the Bible who persevered

  • Abraham and Sarah in their waiting for a child that God had promised to them – Abraham believed God and this was credited to him as righteousness in Genesis 15:6.
  • Paul in the Galatians – Paul was persecuted and placed in chains and throughout all the turbulence he experienced in his lifetime he learned the art of being content in every situation thrown at him. Phil 4:11-12
  • Jesus persevered – Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you will not fall into temptation.’  He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’ An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” – Luke 22:39-44

What comes out of perseverance?

Patience

Patience is the waiting – Waiting on God in the fullness of his joy. In the past I would spend my time in the waiting desperate for my situation and circumstance to change. I have learned that a patient heart is one that is content in any and every circumstance.

Trusting God

God is always aware of whatever situation I am facing. Trusting God means knowing that he has made a way for my struggle. He has already walked the rugged pathway and has made provision for me to conquer.

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Strength

In times where I face adversity, I emerge stronger and more resilient. Perseverance reveals an inner strength that I would not otherwise realise existed within.

Wisdom and maturity

No negative experience is meant to break me. One of the rewards that comes out of persevering is God’s wisdom and maturity that arises as a result. I know that God is for me he is never against me.

You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out. The LORD will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven. … The LORD your God will bless you in the land he is giving you. Deut 28:6

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Blameless in the eyes of God

Galations 2: 19-21

For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God.  I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

How God sees me

I sometimes struggle to see myself the same way that God sees me. I am quite frankly rebellious in nature, impatient and I get frustrated quite easily. I get upset with myself for having these feelings. I too often forget that God has created me the way he has created me for a reason and a purpose. He knows that the rebellion me will one day serve a greater purpose. I now as an adult realise that I have always been a free thinker and the free thinker in me was created to have the courage to glorify him each and every day. He creates a beautiful artwork out of all the imperfections and gradually moulds and shapes me into what he wants me to become one day. He sees me as blameless, righteous and clean.

Why God sees me as Blameless

I am completely washed clean because of what Christ did on the cross all those years ago. In my mind it is difficult to understand or wrap my head around what Jesus has done. Abraham’s faith in God was counted to him as righteousness and because we are the descendants of Abraham, we share in his righteousness and thus we are seen as blameless in God’s eyes. In a nutshell, it is not anything that I have done to deserve that grace but because God sent his son to die on the cross for my very sins. Nothing I can do can make God love me any less. I fall short and don’t get things right. God’s grace means that He makes up for every area where I fall short. When I fall short as a being human and make mistakes, he makes up for those shortfalls.

There are things that stop me from seeing myself the way God sees me…

Sometimes I try to get right with God…

My upbringing was influenced by societal and cultural beliefs and expectations. As I young african girl growing up in the townships of South Africa, I was always into something a little different than my peers. The music I listened to was considered ‘different’. My clothes were different, my mindset in general was different to that of others. I didn’t always embrace being different because, I wanted to be like everybody else but obviously not enough for me to pretend to be something I wasn’t.

At times I care what others think

To tell the truth often when people ask how I am it seems the only answer I am allowed to give is the standard answer of “I’m fine” when at times I’m really not fine. Putting on an act can be exhausting. We live in a society where we don’t talk about not being okay. If we were courageous and spoke out about the way we feel then it normalises honesty and creates opportunities for sharing with others.

Being influenced by the opinons of others

People will always have their own opinions, however God’s opinion is the only one that matters. If I know who I am in God’s eyes, everything else falls away and I will only see myself the way that God sees me. He knows me better than anyone because it is He who created and formed me in my mother’s womb.

Not acknowledging how I feel

Often I tend to hide my feelings thinking that If I do so, I won’t hurt anyone else’s feelings. This in turn leaves me feeling like I can’t express myself. It’s important to ‘vent’ if I need to because when I acknowledge the times I am angry or sad, it means I can move on.

Experiencing guilt over having negative feelings

Feelings of guilt stop me from seeing myself the way God sees me. I sometimes feel as though I have no right to feel angry, sad or frustrated and that it is a ‘punishable offence’. At times, my guilt masks itself as anxiety and I do not realise that I am experiencing feelings of guilt.

I am learning that I am a fearless beautiful work of art designed by God and no matter how much it looks like I may be lacking in a particular area, God makes up for it all.

When Christ died, he took upon him the burden of guilt, anxiety, timidity, my sense of responsibility, and replaced them with courage and bravery, peace, joy and grace. For that I am thankful and grateful that I can live in the light and in his abundant grace.

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Guilt and condemnation

Psalms 103: 8-12 “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

What is Guilt?

One of my biggest struggles in the area of guilt is ‘mom guilt’. My earliest memories of feeling guilty were associated with motherhood. Before this, I don’t remember having many feelings of guilt. When I gave birth to my eldest daughter, I started to worry about things – things that to some might seem rather small and maybe even a little silly. When my daughter came down with her first cold, I worried that it was my fault. After all, she was under my care so how could I allow her to become ill? At 1 month old she was diagnosed as colic for which I also blamed myself wondering how I could allow this to happen. My mistake was not sharing my anxiety and guilt with anyone. The condemnation that I also struggled with meant I had a consistently nagging feeling inside me where I felt I deserved some sort of punishment for doing wrong.

What does the Bible say about how we should deal with feelings of guilt and condemnation?

The Bible tells us that Jesus bore our sins at the cross therefore in his eyes we are no longer guilty. As someone who struggles with guilt, these words are difficult to fully comprehend. The truth is, the devil enjoys watching me struggle with my guilt because he knows it removes the joy from within me, it hinders my relationship with God because often I hesitate to approach him when I have that feeling of guilt. God knows that if I begin to understand the fundamental core of what it means to be washed in his blood, only then will I begin to walk in freedom where I am completely free of shame, guilt and condemnation.

How does guilt affect believers?

Walking around with feelings of guilt all the time has affected me in different ways. I fail to make precise decisions and when I am finally able to make a decision, I’m constantly plagued with doubt. The Bible however has a completely different view of how I should handle the way I feel. I am learning that my feelings are just that – feelings. I’m learning slowly that I should never rely on the way I feel which varies from day to day and sometimes from hour to hour. I’m learning to take hold of what God says is true. It’s a journey and sometimes I forget to ask God whether the thoughts I have a based on truth or lies. Sometimes I’m so wrapped in my own head that I don’t even realise that I have to separate the lies from the truth.

Breaking free of guilt and condemnation

Hebrews 12:1 Therefore since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every burden and the sin that so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set out for us.

As God begins His work in me to break me free from all guilt, shame and condemnation, I believe in his promises. He is faithful even when I am not. At times I am doubtful and I may not always see that he wants me to live a life full of joy. Ultimately, he will do what is necessary to remove whatever might hinder me living the abundant life that he has promised.

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Esther – A woman of humility, courage and obedience

“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as you do the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church, his body of which he is the Saviour’ – Ephesians 5:22-33

Who was Esther?

Esther was a Jew, without parents. She was raised by her uncle, Mordecai. Growing up, Mordecai had taught Esther to conceal her identity and nationality as a Jew because at that time, Jews were looked down upon in society. As a young lady, Esther was introduced to King Xerxex who was ruler at the time. The king decided to hold a banquet over a number of days for everyone who resided in his kingdom. It was at this extravagant banquet where he invited a number of young women to stay in his palace over months or years. It was God’s intervention that allowed Esther, a mere Jew to be introduced to the King who upon meeting her instantly took a special interest in her.

A woman of Courage, humility and obedience

Unlike Queen Vashti who was removed from her position by the same king for her disobedience, Esther was humble in nature, obedient and an incredibly courageous woman. She lived at a time where women were expected to be respectful and obedient of their male counterparts. Esther displayed remarkable characteristics which would draw the king’ attention towards her and set her apart from all the other young women. As I read the book of Esther over and over again, I begin to admire her characteristics rather than feel sorry for her as I first did when I started to read about her. I have become drawn to Esther’s characteristics in such a way that I have been asking God to help me become more like her.

Using Esther as an example within my marriage

God wants me to be more like Esther in my own marriage. I initially didn’t quite agree with the way in which women were treated in those days. I have to remember the times in which the people in the citadel of Susa were living in all those years ago. The way in which women are still treated today sometimes feels unfair. The Bible however says that King Xerxes treated all the women he had extended an invitation to with respect and dignity. He gave them special treatments and even assigned eunichs and servants to each woman. Of all the women in the palace Esther stood out the most to the king. He would walk up and down the halls close to her suite each day to ask about her wellbeing. This means if I become more like Esther, my husband’s soft heart towards me will begin to soften even more.

If I am humble, respectful and obedient towards my husband, God will honour my obedience towards Him and make me fruitful in everything I do. I grew up watching women be subservient towards their husbands and I never fully agreed with the way in which it was done. When I initially read about Esther it reminded me about the subservience culture I grew up with but God reminded me that He doesn’t expect me to be subservient in the same way I have been taught culturally. He wants me to have an attitude of servitude towards my husband. When I finally understood this, it shifted my attitude towards Esther. Her obedience and humility was certainly not a display of weakness on her part, instead it helped her to become fruitful and God honoured her. She worked alongside God by respecting, obeying and showing humility towards her husband and by doing so, God was able to accomplished his mission to save the Jews. She is now a is a well known female figure in the Bible.

I wonder how the story would have turned out if Esther has been stubborn, prideful and arrogant? In my own life, I know that when God wants us to change our ways, He is asking us to obey him for a greater purpose.

What lessons can I take from Esther?

I sometimes I struggle to show the same obedience and humility as Esther. Society often tells us that women should aim to become “better” than men. This sometimes means that we are less likely to serve our husbands. A good part of me wants it to be all about me but it is important to be an equal partner rather than a competitive one, or even one that makes comparisons which ultimately leads to competition rather than partnership. An attitude of servitude for me means helping my husband in any way that I can and taking the toll of any stresses he might have. I might not be able to make everything right but I can do the very small things that make his life a little easier. These ‘small things’ that could ultimately make a world of difference!

How can I honour my husband?

I can honour my husband by cooking his favourite meals every now and again, praying for him on a daily basis and asking God to help him fulfill all his potentials and being thankful that God has put us together on this earth. Each day we are together is a blessing and a gift that I should not take for granted. Indeed it brought Esther joy to serve the king and in the same way it should bring me joy to serve my husband.

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“I am enough”

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:14

How does God see me?

If I were to ask God this particular question – “God how do you see me?” I believe his answer would be this: “I delight in you, you are precious in my sight, you are loved and forgiven, your are beautiful, you have peace, joy and inner strength”. I. truly believe He would say all this along with with a lengthy list of beautiful words He would utter that would make me feel like I was his special and only child.

I don’t believe I have always seen myself the way that God sees me. I’ve certainly allowed others to dictate who I was and how I should see myself. It’s taken me right up until adulthood to start to slowly believe I am who God says I am. That I am strong, I have hidden talents, I have inner peace…I could write a list however I think God’s list is much bigger!

Not feeling “good enough”

I often wondered why I never felt good enough..right from my childhood I felt I wasn’t good enough. I believe it all came about when I first started school. I never felt I was achieving academically like some of the other kids in my class. I honestly started to believe I wasn’t very bright. I know now that it was simply because I never believed in myself. Our minds are such powerful tools that we underestimate. If we consistently tell ourselves that we can achieve something that is difficult, our minds start to believe that this is true. The same goes if we consistently tell ourselves that we cannot do something. God knows were are limitless beings. If this is the case then surely it means we can do anything and we can achieve anything? Truthfully, the power is in the mind. God has given us all that we need to make a success of whatever we lay our hands on, but so often it’s easier to be filled with doubt.

Sometimes the world tries to dictate who we are. It dictates what we can do, and what we cannot do and this in turn affects confidence. For me, being constantly put down by my peers very nearly stripped me of my confidence. Over the years and months as God began to heal me from my emotional scars, he taught me that my identity begins with Him. If my identity is in Christ that is the ultimate foundation for whose I am. The devil tries to de-value us and attempts to take away our identity in Christ because he knows if he succeeds, we are left not knowing whose we belong to. If we do not know to whom we belong, we do not have the affirmations and the power he has given us in order to succeed in life. We put ourselves down and like I did, we start to believe the lies – one of them being that we are powerless. When we know who we are, we have an inner strength that exists within us.

God is building a new foundation

I remember not so long ago when I lacked hope. I wanted to achieve so much and never thought I would achieve anything, never thinking that I would be happy and that I would ever be a success. Sure, I don’t have buckets full of money, however, but I’m living a life which I love which is worth more than money. I strive to be better each day. God is building new foundations in terms of how I think of myself and what I believe I am capable of. My inner-confidence is being restored and I am starting to believe that indeed I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

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Surrendering control

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“Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” – Matthew 11:28

When God wants us to surrender control

I often feel it’s my duty to be responsible for absolutely everything in my home. I feel like the main character from the movie “Bad Moms“…running around on a daily basis attempting to organise my kid’s lives, taking the kids to after school clubs and extra curricular activities, making sure homework is done, ensuring sure there is some sort of order at home to prevent absolute chaos, and keeping up with work and my career. Unfortunately, I don’t do very well at attempting to manage everyone’s life let alone my own. Most of the time to be truly honest I’m hanging on by a thread.

Raising little people feels like a permanent full time job. My goals at attempting to be organised, efficient and tidy over time started to get a little out of control. I thought creating order would help ease my anxiety and reduce my stress levels. That if I walked into a neat tidy house after work everyday somehow it would help to declutter my mind. God revealed to me that this was one of the coping mechanisms I was using to help me deal with the anxiety that I suffered on a constant basis.

“For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future...Jeremiah 29:11

God’s will for us is to live everyday in abundance. That means pure joy, peace, anxiety free and present, living in the now.

I am the vine, you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

Attempting to do things all on my own resulted in anxiety, stress and mental exhaustion. For years I struggled to understand the concept of allowing God to take control or to even surrender control over to him. I knew I wanted to do so I simply just didn’t know how. I was drained almost all the time. The stress of dealing with work, and the pressure to keep up with so much in this modern world and still trying to take care of myself was seemingly impossible. How could I take care of myself when so many things demanded my attention? Trying to explain exactly what I was so stressed about to my husband made things even worse because of the guilt and fear of sounding as if I was complaining. The truth is, some of us are better able to deal and cope with the everyday stresses that come with life and for some of us it’s a bit more of a struggle. The Bible says that He shows his strength in our weaknesses and we all have we weaknesses.

I’m growing in my walk with God and slowly beginning to understand what it means when God asks us to surrender control over to him. He is calling us to lay our burdens at his feet. For me, this means waking up each morning asking God to help me to let go of what I cannot manage on that day. I’ve learned the importance of having a quiet hour to myself everyday. Sometimes it means going for a run/walk or having a quiet coffee in the early morning. When I do this I can step back and I’m not longer overwhelmed by the minute details that attempt to strip the joy out of my life. I can step back and enjoy my family and appreciate the good that God has provided for me and enjoy the abundance that he continues to shower me with every day.