Everything for Him..

A couple of years ago if you were to hear Christian Mum in a sentence I think most would picture a homely looking woman, perhaps home-schooling her children with a swear jar on the counter.. okay maybe not.. thank you Instagram and FB- the modern Christian mum is young and hip looking, juggles multiple jobs while volunteering at her local church and pre-school. Perhaps she makes grain free banana muffins on the weekends and she posts pictures of cool looking food oh and her kids wear lots and lots of linen and never poxy pink tutus (guilty as charged..) Hats off to you if you are hip and with it.. I find myself striving to be this “modern Christian mum” swayed by Instagram and Facebook. I was listening to a podcast (crazy right.. 2 kids at home and a podcast playing.. it actually only lasted 15 minutes but more on that later..) this morning of a sermon titled “Everything for Him.” It was like a slap in the face if I’m being honest.. The sermon was based on the scripture: “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:3

I am the first to admit that I am struggling with embracing this season of my life. I’ve been on maternity leave for just over 12 weeks now and I can’t say the going has got any easier. It’s not that the girls are “hard”- by no means are they “hard”- we have been blessed with great eaters and sleepers. Having worked outside of the home since I was 16 (minus one year that was spent overseas) it has been hard to put the working Steph aside and take on mum Steph full time. Yes, I still volunteer at Church and have heaps of work there that I love doing, but you know that I mean. I almost resent my husband each morning as he gets his clothes on and leaves the house. I feel a twinge every time I hear the garage open knowing that I’ll see him in 8 or 9 hours.

Today I was really feeling it- that utter spiral of “is this what my life has been reduced to..”, “will I ever get to go back to work..”, “I wonder if I can end my maternity leave early..”, “I don’t want any more children”.. couple all of that with a massive blow out that actually saw me throw out a singlet (it wasn’t worth trying to save), a cold (that I’ve had since Saturday night) and an untidy pantry and spare room. This may seem ridiculous to you but for someone who thrives in organisation and ‘everything in its place’ I was beside myself.. and then I turned on the podcast. To be honest I’m only about 15 minutes in- the kids woke up so I had to pause it until maybe Friday (haha.. just kidding..but really) but just the idea of “all for the Glory of God” made me really stop and look at my life.

If you find yourself in the trenches of motherhood not knowing when the fog will clear or when you may have even a sliver of independence back let me remind you “all for the Glory of God.” From the minute your child makes a noise in the morning it’s go-go-go (today my day started at 6:15am..so I know exactly how you feel).. It’s hard to remember that everything I’m doing is for the Glory of God. As I washed another load of dishes, waiting for the familiar ding of the washing machine to finish the second load…

…hang on…time out…Raegan has woken up…I’ll be back…

Okay back…

..this is life at the moment..full of interruptions..but all for the Glory of God! My prayer is that my kids and husband see the love of God in everything I say and do.. as I cook another meal my prayer is that my family feel the provision of God and know that we are blessed to have what we have. Every dish in the sink means we had food to eat, every load of laundry means we had clothes to wear, every vacuum of the house means we had walls and a roof over our head to live in, every day of maternity leave means we had the finances for me to raise our children full time- when you look at it through the glory of God you really do see it differently..

I challenge you mumma- this week, start looking at things with “All for the glory of God” in mind!

Here’s an iPhone wallpaper I’ve designed to remind you!

Just click on the image and save to your camera roll.

32 weeks pregnant..

This week I celebrate 32 weeks of pregnancy..

I wanted to give special honour to my husband and every husband out there who has journeyed through many months of pregnancy with their wives.

For every meal that has been cooked..

Every tongue bitten when we demanded just one more thing from downstairs..

For every foot rub and back rub..

For every run to the grocery store or rearrangement of schedule because we absolutely just cannot get up..

For every bath time and bed time routine, for every early morning when you whispered to our kids “let mum sleep I’ll play with you..”

For every compliment when we just can’t stand the sight of our ever changing bodies..

While we physically and mentally journey through growing a baby I can never understand the struggle to walk that road with us and not be able to take some of the pain or be able to share in the uncomfortablity of it all..

For every prayer you have prayed over me and your child to be..

For every offer of early morning coffee to help get me moving..

Thank you for loving the wife of your youth when she is so far buried beneath the weight of pregnancy and for journeying through many months of the recovery process at the end of it all.

You are more than just a champion, when I look at you I see the Lord and His love!

I love you more today than yesterday.

Another day at the beach!

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We absolutely love the beach- Ava has inherited the traditional Aussie love for the sun and sand and it absolutely makes my heart smile!

We were in Perth over the weekend for a surprise 30th Birthday so we naturally had to find some ways to entertain Miss Ava..

This beautiful beach is at Hillary’s in Perth! If you have young children it’s a great area with a playground, man made beach, inflatable water obstacles, slides that lead into the water and shade cloths!

A letter to my first baby..

14987979562151837706You my darling girl are one of the greatest things your father and I have ever been a part of creating. I couldn’t help but let a few tears fall when I realised that you were not going to be my only baby come April. You have only known the undivided and devoted love of your dada and mama but come April there will be another set of tiny little feet in our home. I’m not worried about loving you less or loving your new sister as much, I believe everyone when they say that my heart will grow, but I am mourning the loss of not being a family of three anymore.

Over the past few weeks you have been spontaneously telling me that you love me- my heart feels like it’s going to explode every time – I image it’s how the Lord feels when His children tell Him they love Him, spontaneously.

You have been talking about the baby in mummy’s tummy almost every day- we talk about her eyes and ears and how she’s going to watch Banana in Pajama’s with you. We talk about how she is going to be your best friend and how you’re going to help mumma give her a bottle and wash her hair. I’m sure you will never remember doing this but often you check my belly with my iphone charge cord – one end around your neck the other against my belly- I’m assuming you’re copying the sonographer- you are one smart little girl my baby!

Today you asked to pray for the Baby. I bowed my head, you closed your eyes and you prayed “Dear Jesus, I pray for Baby Raegan, in Jesus Name, Amen.” You went on to pray for the stuffed animal that you were holding as well but I’m sure it’s because you were feeling the presence of God. I don’t know what your little heart was trying to convey to Jesus about your new sister but I know He heard you.

You are going to be the most amazing sister and friend… I know this because you are an amazing gift from God.

We love you forever and always.

Mum

Blessed..

img_8319If you follow along on Instagram you would have seen that I surprised my best friend of 25+ years at a hospital on the other side of the country on Friday. She had given birth 5 days earlier and wasn’t expecting me to fly in for a visit but thankfully we had a number of points that I could use- it was a beautiful (and very emotional) reunion. Her- just given birth and coming off the hormone high that comes with pregnancy and me- 25 weeks pregnant with a baby- we were blubbering messes for a few days.

The weekend was filled with time on the couch watching a newborn baby sleep and feed, kissing her every few minutes, changing itty bitty nappies that look like doll nappies and eating from a freezer full of leftovers from her mum! Liz has been an absolutely champion since giving birth- seriously- I am in awe of how well she has recovered and how well she is nursing Baby Adelaide!

Seeing this little baby brought back so many memories of when I came home with Ava- I was definitely a lot more emotional and uncertain that Liz appeared to be- I remember lots of tears and feelings of adequacy. With your first child you never really know if you’re doing things right- google became one of my most trusted advisories! Liz’s baby, Adelaide, is absolutely perfect. She has 10 fingers and 10 toes- she’s eating like a champion and filling up those nappies just as fast! She has a head full of jet black hair and really long fingers like her mumma! She is perfection..

I came home really early on Monday morning exhausted from the red eye flight but so so happy to see Greg and Ava at the airport! Ava came running to me yelling “mumma, mumma”- I was ready to burst into tears- blame it on the hormones and lack of sleep!

This week has been a pretty standard week for us- lots of cooking at home and family time- most of our church events are yet to start up- I have been reminded so often this week at how grateful I am for God’s many blessings- as lame as it perhaps sounds I seriously can’t count them…

I watched Greg and Ava play in the backyard yesterday- spraying each other with the hose to cool off in the weather- I made them dinner with food from a full fridge that they both loved! I followed a recipe for coffee choc chips cookies, I washed my dishes in a sink with running water, I picked a dress this morning from a closet full of clothes, I woke up to the sound of my daughter playing and talking…I drove to a job that allows me to balance motherhood and being a career woman.. I could go on and on..

Sometimes we don’t realise how blessed we truly are.

We have a large print in our lounge room which says “Count your many blessings”*- in 2019 I’m determined to focus more on what God has blessed me with and nurture and appreciate those then become blinded by what I don’t have.

* The print is from Caravan Shoppe- I’ve posted here before or you can go directly to Caravan Shoppe and purchase here– It’s part of their Woodland Thanksgiving Package.

 

A new baby!

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve been on here and so much has happened!

My husband gave me the whole guilt trip about letting this blog die.. well, here I am trying to resurrect it. WordPress has been less then inspiring so I’m currently looking for alternative platforms- send me your recommendations!

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If you only follow me on here (i.e. not on Insta) you should probably know that I am now almost 25 weeks pregnant! I know- time is flying! I partly didn’t want to post anything as I hadn’t told work yet before Christmas (I was barely showing) but now that everyone knows- here we are! This pregnancy has been great so far- barely any sickness, I managed to travel to the U.S for 3 weeks with only mild tiredness as well as attend a 5 day Conference in our capital city- I truly am blessed with really great pregnancies!

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Ava is getting used to the idea that there is a baby in mummy’s tummy- she has come with us to all of the scans so she often pretends to “check the baby” by putting objects on my stomach and listening for the heartbeat or pretending to look at the tv screen to see the baby! It’s very adorable! She’s also started calling the baby by name which has added a whole new dimension to it!

We are so excited to be adding to our family!

The helicopter mum jumps out of the plane..

IMG_5551.JPGHave you heard the term- Helicopter parent? It’s a mum (or dad) who pays very close attention to their children at playgrounds/out in public- I think we all know them- it goes beyond the general caring for your child to make sure they don’t die while at the park- I’m talking about the parent who is one or two steps away ready to jump in when needed. They are hyper aware, standing at attention to defend and protect their child. Was I a helicopter mum.. am I a helicopter mum? Thinking introspectively- perhaps. I make super conscious efforts not to be when out with friends or at a safe park but sometimes it just happens, especially with the sacredness that comes with your first child.

Last week at an indoor play place I let Ava go. It probably wasn’t the best play area to do so as it is a HUGE indoor area with really really high climbing areas (which she wouldn’t be able to climb to without my help.. I think).. but nonetheless, I let her go. I let her go and play independently- so much so that I actually couldn’t find her at one point. I had seen her enter one area of the large child magnet contraption but not come out so I headed over to see what she was up to. I called her name, I scanned all the little girls to see if I recognized her strawberry blonde hair- I couldn’t find her. My next thought was (though fleeting)- did someone take her.. quickly countered with, no- I was sitting near the door no one could have walked out with her without me seeing..

Eventually we found her coming down a makeshift slide that started up pretty high (how she got there I don’t know) but it was definitely a test at letting her go.

She came running to me, crying, twice because of “the ball.” We’re assuming she slipped on a ball twice, coupled with the fact that we were 2 hours overdue for a nap who knows what actually happened, but all in all she did great.

It took all the will power in me to not know where she was at all times. She’s not even two- what if she breaks an arm or a finger or gets a concussion and I can’t find her.. those were very real possibilities that quickly raced through my mind.. and then my logic kicked in- broken arms mend, broken fingers mend, there’s mum’s everywhere- she wouldn’t be concussed without anyone knowing.

When your little one suddenly becomes independent and starts to do things on her own, it’s as if the moment you have been dreaming about collides with this very real motherly need to be needed.

After a long day of being generally overtired she woke up at 9pm inconsolably crying- I picked her up, carried her into bed with me and we slept the night away.

While I worked on not hovering that day I think she realized I needed to be needed just a little bit extra.

Woven- When friends become family..

My interview this morning is with the amazing Annette! She used to baby sit me as a baby and now has become one of my nearest and dearest friends. Her and her family are family to Greg and I- they are amazing examples of following after God’s will and simply loving people! They pastor a thriving church up on the Gold Coast, parent two amazing boys and work full time as Pastor’s and (Annette works) part-time as a teacher. We seriously adore this family!

IMG_1311.jpegOkay, so- a few standard questions to start with, tell me a bit about your family.

I come from a Lebanese background. My parents and siblings migrated over to Australia in 1971, my siblings were very young! Lebanon was pretty war torn at the time so they migrated for a better life. My dad’s sister had some family here, so Australia was the obvious choice.

How many Siblings do you have?

I have four- three sisters and 1 brother. I’m the baby.

Are you Sydney born and raised?

Yep, I am. My siblings are a lot older than me. I had a great childhood but my siblings, because of the age difference, were more parental. I spent a lot of time with older people which is why going to school was so hard when I first started. I didn’t have many friends my age at the time.

You’re married to Jacob.. How old were you when you both met? I was 15 when we started dating, Jacob was 18. We dated for 6.5 years but our “dating” was so different to today. We were really good friends for a number of years and then got married when I was 21. We always said we would have children after being married for 5 years but I found out I was pregnant just a few months after our wedding!

Now, you have two boys? Yes, they are 16 and 13.

Whereabouts did you have them? I had Josiah at Bankstown Hospital and Judah at Liverpool Hospital.

Were you hoping to have two boys? I was actually hoping for a girl with Judah though in hindsight I was happy to have two of the same gender because the boys have become best friends.

How did you pick the boys’ names? Since Bible School Jacob loved the name Josiah and I loved it too so we knew our firstborn would be Josiah. Judah on the other hand- it wasn’t the original name we picked but someone had already taken it. We were back at the drawing board when we attended a conference where we heard a sermon preached about Judah, Judah meaning praise- it was a powerful service.  We fell in love with the name! We loved the meaning of it and knew it was the name for our second son.

Did you have the boys natural or C-Section? Both Natural! Labour was about 3 hours. For Josiah- my waters broke early, so I was in hospital for 18 hours, but the actual labour was only 3 hours or less.
They were both born on their exact due dates.

You were pregnant at your university graduation- tell us about it! Yep I was! To start with, when I was pregnant with Josiah I had morning sickness for about 7 months. I was working part time and going to Uni full time. I used to catch a train to work in the city, at that time, and I remember getting off at certain stops to throw up on the train tracks and then getting back on to keep going on my journey to work. 1 week after I handed in my last assignment for Uni to become a teacher, I gave birth to Josiah.

Shortly after giving birth to Josiah, I had to finish my prac for my degree- I did my final prac in February when he was 4 months old, and then got offered a full time job. I took the job! It was my first real full job- I worked 3 years full time. Now, in hindsight, I do regret it a little but he was with my mum and mother in law and they formed a close bond.

Josiah was just over 3 years old when I left my job and had Judah. When he was 5 months old, I went back to work part time but at a different school. Because I lived closer to my sister (we had moved house by now)- my sister watched the boys part time. I went back to full time when Judah was about 3 years old and switched to part time when he was 6. I still work part time at a school now.

Coming from a Lebanese background your mum is an amazing cook! Do you have any of her recipes? Well my mum made all her dishes by memory- when she received an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, my sister in law tried to record as many recipes as she could on paper.

Here is her amazing, world famous Tabouli! Friends I am telling you- this is hands down best Tabouli recipe you will ever have!!

Sis Ayoub’s Tabouli Recipe

7 Medium Tomatoes

2 bunches parsley, chopped

1/2 bunch of mint, chopped

1/4 bunch of shallots

1 onion chopped finely

1/2 cup cracked wheat

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 tsp salt

1/2 lemon juiced

1/2 tomato passata

3/4 cup olive oil

1 tsp pomegranate molasses

sweet chilli sauce or Tabasco sauce

How To

– Remove any stones you mighty find in the cracked wheat, then wash and drain it well by squeezing it with your hands

– Add the lemon juice to the cracked wheat and set aside.

-Wash the chopped parsley and mint then drain well by squeezing out excess water.

-Chop the tomatoes very finely and add them to the cracked wheat

-Chop the onion very finely and rub them with the salt and black pepper

-Combine all ingredients with the cracked wheat and stir in olive oil
You moved to QLD over 6 years ago.. I always thought that because I was born and raised in Sydney I would never move…I never wanted to move but my husband was feeling that the Lord was leading us elsewhere- we didn’t know where though. His prayer was God if you want us to go to another church, and Pastor, you need to speak to my wife.

When he was in Fiji a number of years ago he found out that there was a church in the Gold Coast that no longer had a Pastor- he knew God was calling us there but his prayer had always been that God would speak to me because of the heartache it would entail leaving my family in Sydney.

In the meantime, I had been going through some things and was praying that God would help me to work through these things positively, you know, respond to negative situations in a positive way.

A lady I respect, in my life, came to me in the altar one service and asked if there was anything specific I wanted to pray for. I said no… whatever you feel… she proceeded to tell me about a vision she had had that God was going to move us. The vision was of a really big beautiful house but it was isolated- what she felt the Lord was telling us was that He would move us, and we would be isolated at first but it would be something beautiful and God ordained.
I, of course, didn’t want to feel isolated so I called a prayer partner freaking out that God was going to isolate us! We prayed together and she said something that I remember to this day- she said Nettie, it doesn’t have to be a literal thing that God is going to isolate you but rather that he is moving you from your comfort zone.

The whole time that this is going on, Jacob is still overseas in Fiji.

Meanwhile, he’s been praying every day that God would speak to me

Jacob’s on the plane coming back from Fiji, on Fiji Airways, and he picks up the inflight magazine and there was a double age spread ad which read “If you’re thinking of relocating to the Gold Coast, do it now..” He came home and we went about our day. We were in our room, I was unpacking his stuff and he says “The Gold Coast church no longer has a Pastor.” And I knew… I knew that this is what God was calling us to but of course I was absolutely freaking out on the inside… I said nothing to him for a week about it..

I went back to my prayer partners and I really felt that this was it.. this is what we had to do.

After a week, I approached Jacob and I said I don’t know about you but I believe this is God’s will. He confirmed that that’s what he had been praying for since he first felt the call. We both determined that we would only go if we were released by our Pastor. We spoke to our Pastor, and though we were all really good friends, our Pastor was very supportive of our move!

So 3 months from that conversation we packed up our lives and moved. We never even saw our house before we moved there. We flew up a few times to view some houses but they had all fallen through- the real estate agent let us sign a lease for a place before even seeing it, which is generally unheard of!

Judah got cellulites before we left, the houses we saw fell through, we had left our jobs and had not yet received jobs on the Gold Coast, it seemed everything was fighting us moving but we knew that God had called us.

The whole process taught me so much about faith..

The boys were 10 and 7 at the time, so you can imagine the heartbreak for them. This was a mother’s heartbreak. Leaving Sydney we had some friends come and say goodbye… for about 90 minutes our eldest broke down weeping… which made me weep… As a mum I was crying more for him, but still about the major life decision we had made.

A funny story amongst all this pain… During our cry our 7-year-old (who was happy to move by the way) and my husband were smiling at each other through the rear vision mirror. Jacob decided to put on Andrea Bocelli’s Time To Say Goodbye and from out of my mouth came this scary voice threatening to throw the CD out the window if he didn’t turn it off… His thinking was that he wanted to cheer us up, which I reassured him that this was not the way!

When we arrived on the Gold Coast we were unemployed for 5 months… We used up all our savings. It was a huge step of faith but through it all, God always provided. There were people who knew nothing about the situation but blessed us until we found employment. God knew that we needed these few months to make connections with our neighbours and the people we were going to be pastoring.

Wow.. what a story of God’s faithfulness and your willingness to move!So, you’ve found work..haha.. Yes, I am currently working part time in a role that was created for me. I’m reading coordinator. I mentor teachers and do an intensive reading program. Jacob, is a full time Pastor – going on 3 months. We pastor Gracepoint Church, Coomera on the Gold Coast.

And the boys? They’re both still in school- Judah is really good with co design in an architecture class and Josiah is an entrepreneur! He has sold t-shirts, made his own brand label at 11 and is currently working on getting into a trade. This kid is very savvy when it comes to business… side hustle to the max.

And Gucci…Yes, we have a little dog- Gucci… we’ve had her for almost a year… 9-10 months.

What would you say is the hardest thing about this stage of life and mothering? I find the teenager years can be challenging. Being a Christian mum is so different to how other parents parent their teenagers. We truly have to fight for what we believe in. When your kids are younger you know everything about them, but as they get older I am having to learn to balance everything and let God have the reigns. I’m having to trust God a lot more… all I can do is pray… pray over them and pray with them…

Do you have any words of advice for mums out there? Enjoy every stage of your kid’s life. It goes so quickly… it will fly by. Don’t be so caught up, and busy, that you neglect your kids.

What would you say is your greatest achievements to date? My family, my boys. Although our family isn’t perfect, we have fostered so much love for each other… and what God has done at Gracepoint. From a church of a handful of people to where He’s brought it today; to see what He’s done in people lives. To see people who are new to church and be a part of their spiritual growth. I am so thankful.

So there you have it- we love and cherish this mum and her family! I hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about Annette and her family!

Till next time.

xx

Family Photos

We finally took the plunge and had family photos taken! We’re so happy with how they turned out. It was precious being able to document Ava at this age!

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Wedding Gift Ideas

Our 8 year wedding anniversary is only a few weeks away and still, to this day, I can remember some of the gifts we received! From cutlery to a TV- it was all in there. Lately I have been coming across a few gifts that I think would make amazing wedding gifts. Some keep giving- a 12 month magazine subscription while others last a last a lifetime- personalised first home print. There are some great ideas if I do say so myself! There’s a few Australian companies thrown into the mix here too- let’s support small businesses people!

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Magazines- Homelife | Magnolia Journal | Donna Hay

Things- I Love us Print | Tajine | Artificial Potted Plant

Personalised- Chopping Board | First Home Print | Family Drawing