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Wednesday, 24 June
Hey everyone! My name is Josiah, together with my wife Hannah we have two amazing kids! Judah (6) and Roman (4). My heart has been stirred to write a blog about showing our kids what christainity looks like in a day to day way. I pray that you get something out of this blog! Bless you!
I know I still have so much to learn about being a parent, but each day I get up and I try again to be the best parent I can. One of the most important tasks I know I have in parenting is representing who God is to my two boys. I remember back to my family and the way I was brought up, I know now that they didn’t get it all right but they made Christianity natural to me. No one has the perfect parents, not me or my kids.
My parents weren’t the ones you’d find on their knees in prayer at 2 am in the morning or the ones who woke up early to read the bible for 2 hours. But they did show me, more than anyone else, how real and true our God is. They took on what it is to follow God and outworked it in every area of life.
I was recently listening to Jonathan David Helser’s podcast and he mentioned that he used to feel pretty good about himself because he always got up before his wife and spent more time in the morning with God than her. However, one day, God spoke to him about this and said ‘that’s great that you give me this hour or so in the morning., I really appreciate it but your wife gives me her whole day.’
It is so easy to only want to show our kids the best parts of life. The positive times where everything works out and God always answers every prayer we pray. But if we only show the highlights, we’re not showing them the truth. I have seen in my own life the power of parents and leaders being real. God can’t be put into a box. He should be in every decision we make, we need to include God in our career, finances, and family decisions.
I want my kids to see me wrestle to unpack and live out the Bible daily. I want them to see how to wrestle and then how to choose God’s way. I am very aware that I don’t want my kids to know me for all the time I served at church or for how good I was at praying, I would rather they remember me for being real. That I lived out Christianity day after day.
My kids are only 4 and 6 but I’ve noticed lately that if I say the same thing every day, they start to tune it out. I make sure I say I love you to my kids every day but I’ve found that if I switch it around and say it in a different way or be specific and say one reason why I love them it means so much more to them. This is the same when it comes to teaching them about God. I’m so careful not to get into the habit of saying the same old things. If I can relate God to their circumstances or what is going on in our world it holds so much more meaning to them. I know that my two boys won’t be living at home forever. So, for the time they’re at home my goal is for them to hear what God thinks of them every day, but each day is different so what I share with them should be different too.
What an incredible responsibility and honour it is to raise our kids. I am so thankful for every day I get with them. I know I won’t be perfect but I can choose that I will be real. I will be there every day to answer their questions, to model faith, and tell them again how incredible and real our God is.
#Parenting in a New Normal
Wednesday, 17 June
The parenting journey in ‘normal circumstances’ takes huge adjustments; just as you get your head around the current nap regime that’s working or a discipline method that is finally making progress - a developmental leap happens and parents need to adjust to the ‘new normal’ once again. This year more than ever, we’ve had to adjust to an extreme series of ‘new normals’ on a world-wide scale due to the pandemic we are currently facing.
Many of us have experienced a combination of social isolation, home-schooling and church at home for the first time ever. There have also been significant job changes and effects on income, as well as heightened health - risk especially for the more vulnerable.
There has been a lot to manage and parenting is one role that amidst all the changes we face in life, that remains an ongoing 24/7 investment of love, care and provision. There are no penalty rates or sick leave.
As christians, our faith journey is one that winds upwards. We can cling to the hope of Jesus and the certainty of His promises, even when the circumstances around us seem the opposite to what we are believing for. Life is a series of adjusting to the ‘new normal’ and as we walk this journey in personal connection with Jesus, we can see the impact He has on our lives as individuals, but also in the way we parent.
I remember my first year as a mum, I was like most people, ‘learning on the go’ and wondering if I was getting it “right”. Watching to see if my son was making the milestones on time or not. Whilst these milestones and an expectation of progression is good to be aware of, it should not be the main goal - it should not be our measure of our ‘parenting success’. As a young mum, I realised that I needed to reassess what my goal in parenting was.
As I took a moment to question my goals and how I would measure my success, I went to the word of God. Romans 12 reminded me that I want to raise my children to be the unique individuals that God has designed them to be and not conform to the patterns of this world. I want them to be open to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. I want them to always know how much they are loved. I want them to be confident of their God purpose and chase the destiny He designed specifically for them. This is the lens I choose to view the way I parent and what I hope to exemplify. I want attitude and effort to be celebrated more than achievement alone. Honesty, justice, confidence, generosity and mercy to be values that are fostered in our home.
So as the next round of ‘new normal’ is upon us, how will we navigate the changes that come? When we are looking to assess how we are going as a parent, what criteria will we measure ourselves against?
The word of God teaches us many things about parenting with wisdom, discipline and ultimately sacrificial love. As we go to God’s word it is like a mirror and the way we can truly see ourselves in God’s eyes. As we can better understand ourselves as God’s children, we can parent from a confidence in our unique call and purpose.
So here’s to the ‘new normal’ of this season, may we choose to allow the Holy Spirit to continue to transform us to be the best example for our children. To keep in mind the Kingdom goal in parenting and not get caught up in the patterns of this world that seek to define our ability to parent.
#Filling the Tank
Wednesday 10, June
I was listening to a message from Ps. Michael Murphy the other day and he started his message titled "EQ - Emotional Quotient" with this question: "Is it just me, or have you been feeling more emotional than normal lately?"
To this, many of us listening to the message nodded an emphatic YES - we have been feeling more emotional than normal.
His message then went on to encourage and challenge us to take this opportunity we've been given in this season and allow our emotions to be a signpost for us. To see our emotions as a signal that show us there might be something deeper going on, and to take some time to process that thing with God. It was very challenging and inspiring.
Ps. Michael's message got me thinking about and noticing my kids, and I asked myself "well if I've been more emotional, does that mean my kids might also be feeling more emotional than normal too?" to which I gave myself another emphatic YES!
If we do use our emotions as a signpost to notice some deeper stuff going on, and then use that opportunity to process some things with God, maybe I can do the same with my kids?
When my boys were younger, I found the toddler tantrum stage pretty full-on. I felt unsure about how to navigate that season and help my kids to deal with their own emotions. But I did learn a very valuable truth about children in that season.- I learnt about filling the tank.
Let's say your children have two tanks - one is called the 'positive affirmation tank' and the other is called the 'negative affirmation tank'.
Children will first seek to fill their positive affirmation tank with you, seeking attention through cuddles and one-on-one time and verbal praise. However, if your child is feeling like their tank isn't being filled (mum & dad are busy with people over or we're out doing the groceries etc) then they can switch to their negative affirmation tank - throwing a tantrum or being difficult to receive attention. Essentially, gaining your attention at any means.
When I learned this it really helped me to see that emotions aren't a bad thing, they are a signpost to highlight something deeper that is going on. As adults, the world feels a little uncertain at the moment, and there are a lot of things that we are navigating right now. I think this is the same for our kids. They are picking up the uncertainty and the changes and are also learning how to process those things.
So, if like me, you are noticing some extra emotions around your home recently, here are some thoughts about how to navigate it:
1) It's ok to be a little bit emotional sometimes. When we learn to use emotions as a signpost for something else that's going on, they become a valuable tool for us as parents to unlock our children.
2) Ask Holy Spirit to help you process with your child the deeper emotions they are dealing with. Just like with you, Holy Spirit knows what’s going on and He wants to help you unlock your kids. Ask him to help.
3) Look for the deeper thing underneath the emotions - it might be that they are actually devastated that their Band-Aid only has Elsa on it, and they wanted the one with Anna & Elsa together (true story)... or it might be that there is some uncertainty in their little heart and they need help to process it.
I hope this has been helpful and encouraging. And remember! You are an incredible parent and your kids are so blessed to have you in their corner.
Keep loving and leading them, you are doing an amazing job.
Wednesday, 3 June
So last Tuesday, on my way to picking up my boys, I was chatting to God about the afternoon-to-come and I asked Him, “God, how can I example Jesus more to the boys? How? Because there’s got to be more than this routine of: pick up, afternoon tea, homework, play time while I prep dinner, have dinner, bath time, bed time, and RELAX…God, if this is our life for the next 12 years, teach me how to lead my children better during this time of the day.” My prayer stopped there as I pulled up into the school car park.
When we arrived home, it’s as if I’m on auto-pilot. I set the boys up with afternoon tea and asked L to bring out his homework. He pulled out his sight words and a picture he had started colouring in at school, and asked if I could colour in the rest with him. I said yes.
As we’re colouring in I noticed the silence from both my boys and it was bliss – not like our usual afternoons. Then almost out of nowhere L asks, “Mummy, do you know what this is called?”
“What’s this called, darling?” I asked. (Meanwhile thinking, umm colouring-in??)
He goes, “Mindfulness. Miss McLeay said when we are colouring in, we are being (practicing) mindfulness.”
At the moment, I felt the Holy Spirit do a mic drop on me (but in a loving non-boastful kind of way). I sat there surprised at what just came out of L’s mouth but realised God just answered my earlier question on “how?” with my children.
Stay with me here parents, I’m not saying, “God said we ought to colour in with our children so as to practice mindfulness with our kids, and that’s how we example Jesus.” No, but from this moment I was prompted to think about where Jesus’ focus was during His years of ministry.
When we read the gospels, we find moments where Jesus would be on the way somewhere but He would stop to heal the sick, stop to comfort the brokenhearted, stop to speak truth, and most importantly, how he loved people. We find that He was more concerned about a person/people, especially those in His presence, than achieving what was on the agenda for the day.
So am I thinking Jesus is saying we should stop and ignore our responsibilities every time our children call for us? No, because at some stage, they will need to eat dinner right? However, I think it can be helpful to shift our focus on who Jesus was (and still is), who we are called to be and how we are carrying ourselves as we try to complete our responsibilities.
Of course it can be easier said than done so let me share a few practical things I’ve found helped me over the last week:
- Praying – Seeking Him because He wants to guide us in raising our children, and He will empower us.
- Giving/setting realistic expectations – Being honest with what we think we can achieve because who knows that when we’ve set too high an expectation we can get caught up on trying to meet it and our character changes?
- Setting boundaries – In a world where many things compete for our attention, being selective on what we want to invest our time and energy in helps. It’s okay to tell others to wait, or to say no if it’s going to create unhealthy pressure on us.
There are more that can be added to this list but hopefully that’s a good start.
Parents, thank you for letting me share with you. I pray this blog has encouraged you or inspired you in some way.
If we can be praying for you, I’m thanking God for you and praying you sense His Holy Spirit guiding you throughout the rest of the week.
Bless you Xx
#Another Excuse For A Celebration
Wednesday, 27 May
Do you remember the day that you made a decision to follow Jesus? When I ask people this question whilst a handful of people know it instantly, the majority of people struggle to remember an exact date. Why do I even ask this question? It’s because I believe I’ve discovered another reason for us to have a party with our family and friends; and everyone needs an excuse for that surely!
Sunday July 4th 2004 is without question the greatest turning point in my life; why? It is the day that I walked into a church literally hours after coming off the effects of a drug induced Saturday night. I remember having a conversation Saturday night with someone who was a Christian, and even in my drug affected state I still remember distinctly that after that conversation I had an extremely strong urge to finally give God a chance. I had ignored God all through my childhood, despite my amazing Mum’s persistence to share her faith with myself and our siblings. I want to start by encouraging parents who have children you desperately want to see know Christ to never give up praying. With tears in my eyes as I write this, I am very aware and extremely grateful for the many prayers and seeds planted by my Mum, and the church family around her that I know would have been standing with her in those prayers. There are many of us in a relationship with Jesus because of the parents, siblings, friends and church communities that took the time to stand in faith and pray on our behalf - thank you Jesus for these people!
So what has that story got to do with parenting? The Bible teaches us how much heaven rejoices when just one person makes a heartfelt decision to follow Jesus (Luke 15:7). Our family decided one day that If heaven is having a party, then so shall we! In our family we call it our ‘Yes to Jesus day.’ It’s an opportunity to celebrate as a family the eternal decision we have each made to live for Jesus. I believe this is one way we can consistently reinforce how amazing God is to our kids; by helping them to experience and reflect on salvation. It is always awesome to tell our kids (the Disney-rated version) of our testimonies; about how Daddy used to not be the nicest person, how he used to make not-great choices….But God! I could talk about grace all day, because when I think back to who I was, there is no doubt in my mind that grace got me to where I am today - if there’s one thing I want our children to catch, it’s a picture of how extravagant this grace is for every human being!
For our YTJ day, at the bare minimum ice cream is involved, sometimes little presents, but the main thing we always do is take 5 minutes before the ‘stuff’ to remind each other what it mean to say yes to Jesus, and why it is the greatest thing we can ever do with our lives. We want each of our children to arrive at that decision for themselves, but once they have, our job as parents is to nurture (Hello! throwback to last week’s blog…) and water that seed.
To sign off, I want to leave you a little bit of homework. My wife Nichy grew up in a Christian family and wasn’t sure when she made a decision to follow Jesus. I’ve found a lot of people from a similar upbringing have the same experience; there never was a ‘before’ and ‘after’, God has just always been there! Nichy decided to just pick a date, mark it in the calendar and celebrate regardless of whether it was the exact date. Your homework, if this is you also, is to pick a date and make a big deal about it too! In the Prodigal Son story, there is a Brother who begrudged the return of his wayward Brother. Much like Nichy’s story and so many others, the Father had always been there for the Brother also, but for whatever reason, he did not have a heart of celebration for his Brother or for Himself. What was lacking? A conviction of the grace and love his Father had for him. We can’t all have a story like the wayward Son (drivebys, drugs, drinking Pepsi Max, and skydiving), but we can all place ourselves in the narrative of His story to remind ourselves what God has also done for us. This my friends, is what gives us another excuse for a celebration!
Enjoy eating ice cream with your children!
#Nurturing my toddler’s Faith
Wednesday, 20 May
I watched Boaz, my two-year old, run and play outdoors with our beautiful, bombproof staffy dog, Narla. His joyful laughter erupted as the puppy tried to lick his face and smother him with love. I thought about how the sound of a child’s laughter must also bring such joy to God. Boaz ran over to give me a cuddle, and as I wrapped him in my arms, I told him, “God loves you so much, he made a dog like Narla just for you!” He grinned and repeated, “God make Narla!” I’ve had many similar conversations with Boaz and I’ve often caught him unpacking his thoughts with our beloved dog and informing her that God made the sky, the trees, and then the conversation moves on to other things dear to his heart, like cars, trains, Mickey Mouse and ‘choc.’ He’ll then find something to pull apart, or cover himself in mud, as I’m sure all two-year-old boys must do (after all he is very much your typical, delightful, toddler).
I used to feel unsure how to nurture my young child’s faith, which is slightly funny considering how I’ve been involved in Kids Church ministry for quite a while now! From time to time I still feel inadequate teaching and training my child to know and love God - where does one even start with such a gigantic and amazing topic? I had a light bulb moment one day when I felt God impress the word ‘nurture’ on my heart. The ‘google’ definition is: ‘care for, and protect (someone or something) while they are growing’. To me this describes an inbuilt, God-given faith our children naturally possess, not necessarily something we need to teach from scratch. Matthew 21:16 (paraphrased) says, “Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise.” I believe that God speaks to our young children’s hearts very early on, preparing them to grow in relationship with Him. It felt so transformational to know that my role was simply to begin to unpack and nurture this natural faith that already was planted in my toddler’s heart!
There are so many amazing resources out there to equip us parents to minister to our children, recently however, I have felt to put more focus on bringing God into our everyday conversations, and simply make God a natural part of my toddler’s world using creation and what is happening in our lives as a real, tangible way to explain the brilliant nature of God.
I’m certainly not suggesting that we stop reading our toddler’s bibles, or throw our Veggie tales DVDs in the bin, but our faith is so much more than simply reading and learning stories. I want my little boy to see the beautiful big sky and know God made it! I want him to understand that Jesus is like his nightlight, when he feels scared and its dark Jesus can make him feel; safe like putting on the nightlight in the dark. I want him to learn that faith is like a seed that starts small and grows big. I want Boaz to see his blessings and know God loves him and is a real part of his life. I want to affirm both my little boy and my baby everyday and speak over them that they are loved, they are strong, brave and how God loves them even more than I do (and that is a lot!)
In Matthew 19:14 Jesus says, “I want the little children to come to me, so never interfere with them when they want to come, for heaven’s kingdom realm is composed of beloved ones like these! Listen to this truth: No one will enter the kingdom realm of heaven unless he becomes like one of these.” Jesus holds such incredible value to our children’s faith and this verse teaches us to be a bridge not a barrier to his love for our children. Our child’s simple faith is just as valid and valued as our own; a concept which was truly counter-cultural during biblical times! Our kids don’t need perfect doctrine or understanding of all the bible stories, God loves their simple, wholehearted and sometimes messy faith! It is beautiful to Him.
To sum this all up, I think the main lesson that I am learning is that we as parents have such an incredible opportunity to reveal Jesus to our children through simple everyday opportunities. We get to play such a privileged and significant role in their faith journey! My hope and my prayer for myself and anyone reading this, is that we would not lose sight of what a powerful and exciting opportunity this is and take advantage of every moment to bring Jesus closer to our precious little ones.
# Outside Our 4 Walls
Wednesday, 13 May
When I stopped to think about the way that we live here in Australia and specifically the way my family lives (in a townhouse), I began to think about how much things have changed and evolved in housing over the last 20 years.
I grew up living in a large house on a large block of land, a substantial distance from my neighbours. Despite the distance between our buildings, we always knew our neighbours by name, how many kids they had (if any), what they did for work and what their normal sort of weekend would look like (mowing the lawn, washing the car, out for church and then back home for a bbq with friends). It wasn’t a strange thing to borrow flour or eggs or to have a chat about work over the back fence while you hung out the washing… connection with people outside of your close circle of friends was a fairly normal thing.
I now live in a townhouse with our family of 4. I not only live in close proximity to my neighbours but we even share a wall!
When we first moved into our place, I would drive out of my garage that I accessed internally through the house and would return the same way, closing the garage before I even opened my car door. Without realising it, I was closing off any personal connection that I could have had with people who literally shared a wall of my house.
Regardless of personality type or personal convenience, Jesus is calling us to live outside of our 4 walls!
Mark 16:15 And he said to them, “As you go into all the world, preach openly the wonderful news of the gospel to the entire human race!
Wherever we find ourselves, may we know the great privilege and responsibility it is to share the wonderful news of Jesus.
3 Ways we Have Learned to Live “Outside Our 4 Walls”.
Bake & Bless
Don’t know your neighbours and not sure how to go and introduce yourself? We do a little thing called the “Bake & Bless”. We bake anything... cookies, cupcakes, bliss balls, slices, banana bread… anything we have the ingredients for and then we bless our neighbours with it. (See below for our easy to follow Honey Oat Cookies Recipe).
Giving a gift can open doors; it gives access to important people!
As we are generous and thoughtful of the people God has placed around us, he will open doors for conversation.
Eat a meal or 2 outside
We live in one of the most amazing places in the world. Almost every day we have the opportunity to eat a meal outside our 4 walls. In summer it’s all year round and in winter perhaps a lunch outside is one of the only warm moments you will steal. Regardless, choose to sit outside even just for 1 meal a week.
Let your neighbours know you’re eating out there and invite them to join you!
Choose opportunity over convenience
Let’s be really honest with each other for a moment… It’s not always convenient or easy to be looking for or pursuing the opportunity to meet others. It takes intentionality and sacrifice of our own needs and desires and the choice to ultimately do and pursue what pleases God.
God gives us both convenient and inconvenient opportunities daily to reach people. Let’s lift our eyes to see them. We never lose by living for Jesus!
God will continually revitalize you, implanting within you the passion to do what pleases him.
We hold a message that will change lives, families, hearts and generations. I know that as we each choose to step out in faith to see those outside of our 4 walls that Jesus will meet us right there and give us boldness, confidence and wisdom to speak out the truth of his goodness and faithfulness!
Honey Oat Cookies
Makes: 12 Small Cookies
1 Cup Quick Oats
½ Cup Desiccated Coconut
½ Cup Wholemeal Flour (Can use almond flour)
½ Tsp Bi-Carb Soda
¼ Cup Coconut Sugar
¼ Cup Coconut Oil
2 Tbsp Honey (Or Maple / Rice Malt Syrup)
Preheat oven to 180 and line a baking tray with paper
Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl
Add wet ingredients until just combined
Roll into balls and slightly press down on baking tray
Bake for 8 minutes or until slightly golden
#Anchoring your Family through Change and Uncertainty
Wednesday, 6 May
I grew up in three different countries, moving between them at 5, 8 and 15 years old. The sudden change to day-to-day life we have all been experiencing felt familiar in some ways.
Okay, so we may not have just packed up our whole lives, left everything we know behind, and moved continents. But truth be told - the upheaval our kids are experiencing right now is similar. They have been moving through natural feelings of grief, an off-kilter sense of balance and control, and a loss of identity. And it can be hard for them to articulate.
Separation, albeit temporary, from friends or family, changes to the security found in daily routines, or no longer being the “basketball kid” or “playground monitor” is felt by kids big and small. When we stop, listen and watch - we will see it. I asked my eldest to describe something she is finding hard right now, her answer: “being apart from friends and family you love is hard, it can really impact your mindset”. My youngest often tells us she wants to be a swimming teacher, and I know she’s missing that part of her life as I watch her recreate lessons with her dolls.
As a wife and mum to two girls (10yrs and 5yrs), I find myself reflecting in this season on what helped me as a kid. Practical things - that our family, and yours, can use to anchor our kids sense of self and identity at this time. As a parent, it is reassuring to know I can lead my family by being intentional about creating a familiar and calm atmosphere which brings stability to their worlds.
Hold fast to your identity, culture and values - the ties that bind.
Whether you have a plaque on the wall, or never spoken about it - every family at their core has values, norms, rules and traditions that woven together guide everyday decisions and routine. With all the external noise and advice right now from friends, family and social media - being clear about what the important threads are for your family can help reduce the overwhelm, navigate options, and make decisions that are right for you. In fact, it’s key.
Your family is unique and distinguished by your values in action. At Life Church, our church family is known by our L.I.F.E. distinctives - you will recognise us as people who Love, Inspire, have Fun, and Empower others. What defines your family? What’s important to you (or not)? What do you look forward to? When? What would you miss - smelling, hearing, seeing, singing or doing together?
Maybe you start every day with stacks-on snuggles, always eat evening meals together, say “I love you” often, use mottos like “we do hard things”, hold weekly family movie nights, enjoy a regular favourite Tuesday meal, play favourite songs on repeat, always tuck kids in goodnight, end the day with three things you’re thankful for, or pray together before bed. The everyday norms and routines, unique to you, are the key to your rhythm - and can remain constant in seasons of uncertainty.
Keep it simple. You already hold these in your hand, use them, repeat them, indulge in them, and fiercely protect them. Play your favourite songs over and over. Rediscover old ones. Watch that movie for the 17th time. Linger longer at dinner or bedtime. Read another story. Anchor in the familiar and fun.
If you do one new thing - sit down together, write a shared Family Vision Statement, and have fun discovering the values, sayings, and activities that make your family great! Stick it up somewhere you can all see - and celebrate who you are!
Anchor your identity in Jesus.
As a family, core to our identity is the decision to follow Jesus and a life committed to serving in God’s house. Living in alignment with our identity, while physically separated from our church family, has been so important.
The vision of our church is to reach and empower people, and we can still do that! We are blessed with lead and location Pastors at Life Church who value families, and have made so many resources and opportunities available so we can continue to connect, worship, serve, and encourage others through this season.
I love how God reminds us through His Word that, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain...” (Hebrews 6:19). Our hope in this and every season is in the real, risen Jesus.
I was reminded this week of a Bible story where Apostle Paul sailed a stormy and near disastrous voyage. On the fourteenth night, they finally saw land - so stopped, dropped not one, but four anchors - and slept. The next day, exhausted from their voyage, they first shared in communion and gave thanks to God, before finishing their journey together - strengthened and encouraged (Acts 27:27-35).
God is bigger than our now, He is steadfast with a birds-eye view of this season, and we can fully trust in Him. Our family and yours can rest and be refreshed in Him. He anchors our souls.
I would love to hear what family values or traditions have been important to you in this season - and the verses that anchor you!
#Janine Vasquez - Get Up And Dance!
Wednesday 29th of April 2020
Like all of you, I’m missing a lot of things right now...having friends over, playdates and outings and date night. One thing though that has hit us, is quite simply not being able to take my kids out to playgrounds. We don’t have a trampoline, a yard or playground at home, but it never really mattered before. We have about 3 or more playgrounds that are in a 2 minute radius from us that we normally love to frequent.
Not being able to go out to a playground or park and have that freedom has made me realise how blessed we really are here in Australia, and how much I really do take for granted. Things like the place we live, the freedom we have, the community we’re a part of. Honestly I’m not a hugger, but after this expect lots of hugs from me, friends!
In the midst of what feels to be constant bad news, I’m trying to find the silver lining in things. And to be honest, it does seem to be a rollercoaster of emotions at times. I’ve decided to treat this COVID season as an extended sabbath season. A time to rest, recoup and rely on God and to focus on family. And in all of this, what I’m really appreciating is the undivided time I get to spend with my kids without meeting any physical social obligations.
I’m so thankful that my relationship with Jesus is really flourishing at the moment. He is really my source of strength, and that becomes so much more evident in times like this. I think that’s definitely one thing I hope to bring with me out of this period - a constant reliance and dependence on Jesus despite whether circumstances look grim or great.
With the playgrounds shutting down and the kid’s sporting classes paused, it has a lot of us parents thinking of new ways to keep our kids active. For my family we decided we may not be able to play in the playground, but we have enough space in the lounge room to do some dancing. We may not have a yard, but I have enough concrete to draw up an obstacle course with some chalk. And of course the occasional morning walk is definitely doing wonders for all our mental health.
While looking for kids exercise videos on youtube, I thought it might be fun to make our own dance video to a praise song. Being a dancer, it’s definitely one of my favourite ways to worship and a great way to kill time. So I asked my lovely friend Liz to help me make this dance tutorial video. She choreographed some amazing dance moves that you could do together with your kids, to get a bit more physical, all while worshiping our awesome Jesus. The kids always have more fun when Tim and I are playing or dancing with them. So I encourage you fellow parents, let’s work up a sweat together with our kids and spend some quality time, all while worshiping our faithful God. Let’s continue to treasure every moment and continue to praise our Jesus throughout this season, because our God never changes and He is always good.
11 You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, 12 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. LORD my God, I will praise you forever.
#Saskia Hill - Thankfulness & Gratitude
Wednesday 22nd of April 2020
I saw this image the other day of a mum and daughter sitting on a couch. They both had a speech bubble over their heads, the mums said something like “I hope that I’m a good enough mum” and the childs said “I love her so much I could burst.” This image stood out to me so much. It’s easy for me to relate to this image, not just because of what we are navigating in this season but because none of us are experts, right? There are lots of wonderful resources to be read and people to learn off, but if you are anything like me there is also a degree of winging it (prayerfully) and hoping you are doing this parenting gig ok.
Right now we are in a season that looks different to any we have experienced, I guess the cool thing about that is we are all novices in this together. Perhaps you are feeling the weight of the 24/7 time at home (the constant cleaning, and cooking and eating), the learning from home life that has begun, the juggle of working from home and being a parent, or going to work and not being home with your children. Maybe like this image I mentioned you’ve found yourself questioning if you are doing a good enough job, if you are navigating this season the way you should be. I’ve been thinking alot about this, I love what the child is thinking. I love her so much I could burst, maybe your child can’t articulate that in words to you right now, but what is happening right now are the most amazing memories that are being created. Our kids aren’t going to remember the fighting with their siblings and they probably won’t be too fussed that they didn’t go grocery shopping. What they are going to remember is being together, the board games, the cooking at home, the adventure walks around the block, the camping in the backyard, the dance parties. The bond that are being formed right now are going to make for closer, deeper, richer relationships in the future.
Here’s a two things I’ve found helpful for me:
We’ve created a thankful jar.
I love what it says in Romans 12:2, Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
So we are making thankfulness one of our focuses, we are writing down all the things we are thankful to God for, the funny things that have happened, the face time calls, all the memories of the fun things we are doing with the goal to read through them on New Years Eve. I’ve seen other people make a list of all the things they are looking forward to doing when restrictions are lifted. Whatever it may be for you, I’d encourage you to give it a go. It's nice for everyone to focus on the things that bring us joy.
2. Filling our own tank first.
When you are on a plane the safety briefing always talks about putting your oxygen mask on first before assisting others. It is natural for us to give out everything to others first before we look after ourselves. So what does filling your tank look like, maybe it's going for a walk alone before anyone else is awake; waking up early to have a coffee or tea and read your devotions in peace. This morning as I was reading through Matthew in the Bible I was reminded of what God wants to do in me and the importance of having a soft and grateful heart. A nice reminder as I go into the day. Maybe it's night time when the kids are asleep and it's a clean of the mess so you can sleep in peace knowing it's a new day tomorrow, perhaps journaling your thoughts and feelings, writing your prayers or reflecting on what worked and what didn’t. Having date nights at home, your marriage is important, dress up and get something delivered, or google some date night at home ideas (that may be my favourite part of this year is the date nights at home) Whatever it may look like for you, do take the time to look after yourself.
Remember you are doing a good job, you have been chosen to be the parent for your little people for a reason. In this you are not alone, the days may seem long, so let’s keep encouraging each other, praying for each other and reaching out to others. You’ve got this.
#Dan Nott - A Thank You Letter To Parents From All The Children Currently Self-Isolating
Wednesday 15th of April 2020
On behalf of all the children currently self-isolating at home, we want to say a HUGE thank you to you, the real heroes of the hour!
Thank you for allowing us the great privilege of spending so much quality time with you; we love spending time with you so much that even when you decide to go to the toilet, we decide to come and hang with you there too - who knew bathrooms could be such a fun place to catch up!
We want to congratulate you on helping us to discover the secret, extra meal between morning tea and morning tea part two; we are well on our way to our target of eating all of yesterday’s grocery shopping by the end of today. Also just a quick FYI, whilst you were having a quick power nap, we helped ourselves to a healthy dose of easter egg on hash brown.
We are super grateful that even when you are working at home you let us join in your video conference calls for hugely important meetings; even allowing us to come to these meetings without any clothes on! If you need any assistance with your work, just let us know and we are sure we could boost morale in these meetings by staring awkwardly at your work colleagues.
We know that you have a lot on your mind at the moment, so thanks heaps for collaborating with us on fifty million, zillion different craft ideas to help create “memories” and leave a slight mess in the house- don’t forget to put on your schedule to clean our mess up (we don’t want the people on the conference calls to think we’re monsters now!)
Our favourite part of each day are the parts where you let us watch tv, but we do have concerns that your twelve hours of screen time a day limit is just not enough- we’ll never get through Disney plus at this rate! Just a quick note too; we know that you would like us to watch more ‘educational’ programs like Playschool and Pokemon, but we are really eager to watch shows about tiger kings and bad hair cuts - that Carole Baskin seems like such a nice lady!
We want to thank you for all the motivational pep talks you’ve been giving us lately; the one you gave last Tuesday about, “if you hit your brother one more time, you won’t have any Christmas presents until you’re fifteen,” really brought a tear to my eyes and I could feel the emotion in your words (the vein popping out of you’re temple was particularly impressive; I named it “Jerome”). I am sooo inspired by these pep talks that one day I might even listen, but for the moment, I’ll just nod my head and do the complete opposite of what you say.
Thanks heaps for being our teacher in the interim to this crazy season, we have just a tiny feedback sandwich on this one to help you improve. Firstly, you’re actually doing really great and even though you don’t actually know how to help us with our grade one maths assignment, we appreciate that you’re really old and that school was a loooong time ago for you, so no stress there.
However, we do need to take issue with you over some of the classroom rules you’ve established. We don’t see the educational value in just “being quiet and not talking to you for five minutes,” and wanted to know if this is anything to do with the fact that on average we ask you six hundred questions a minute about, “when can we have something to eat?”
If you really were employed to be a teacher, I think we could all get on board with what must be your favourite lesson of the day; PE. It has been such a thrill to see you trying to keep up with us as we scooter at full speed towards busy intersections (intending to stop at the last moment). The best teachers are the ones who immerse themselves in the lesson, and we can certainly see how much you appreciate PE, by the way you shout at us from two kilometers away as we bump into another jogger desperately trying to socially distance from us germ-infested little people.
You are an unsung hero, and that’s why we felt it was important to write a letter expressing our appreciation to you. Never forget that we truly love you and even though we never say it, when we are in our twenties we might even buy you an almond milk flat white to say thank you (unless you insist on paying… #unistudent).
Some people look up to athletes, or musicians, or movie stars, but we look up to Mister Maker and that lady on playschool… nah just kidding, we look up to you!
Love from all the children in isolation XXX
P.S - What are we having for that meal between afternoon tea and dinner today?
Quick note from author
Parents, you are AMAZING! Today we celebrate you and all the energy and investment you are putting into your family. We want to encourage you that you are doing a super job and to be super kind to yourself. Your homework for this week is to make yourself a tea and to eat unusually large amounts of food with calories in it left over from Easter - you deserve it :-)
#Emily Higgins - Creating Connection & Community To Combat Cabin Fever
Wednesday 8th of April 2020
Last week was my first parent teacher interview via phone call. I received one call after the other from the teachers of both my school children and they were very similar conversations overall. My two eldest children have very similar strengths and weaknesses when it comes to their classroom work and social behaviour at school. Our biggest strength can often be our biggest weakness - and my highly social children get along with everyone and could talk the legs off a chair.
Our children need connection as much as we do, if not more than us! They are used to having their friends around them all the time and even when they are doing their school work, the social element is very high. Personally, I have four children and you would think that was community enough, but it definitely isn’t! This is their normal.
We all know that with social constraints, it brings that feeling of ‘cabin fever’ that our children just aren’t used to, causing increased levels of tension between them - as they are relying on each other for not just their normal sibling interactions, but they are looking for their social needs to be met also.
I have already had conversations with my children about how to go about dealing with conflict and that getting angry and using our words or actions to hurt each other, is not how we are going to solve our problems. We need to help our children express what they are feeling, but do so without blaming or hurting others. We need to help empower them to come up with solutions where there is compromise on activities chosen and how best to work and play together.
The fact is, that as highly social as they are - when they are in each other’s space much more than usual; we need to structure some time when they are playing alone also. Reading on their beds is an activity that seems to calm my children down and help keep them seperate for a short while. Reading out aloud to the children is also a really calming activity in our household. We have chosen Narnia to read together, because it is engaging enough for my almost 8 year old - but can still capture the attention of my 4 year old also.
As we continue to navigate this time of social distancing, where schools are closed for at least the next few weeks, we do not know yet what term 2 holds in terms of face to face contact.
This is a time of innovation and creativity and for social connection and community to grow, despite the restrictions. Let’s ask our children for their ideas - I’m sure they will come up with some great ones!
We could get our children reading to other children online, like a book club where we read the same book together and then discuss it. We could have a few people on a facetime call and play some games together, like hangman or Yahtzee where you don’t have to be in the same room to play.
I have already seen so many proactive solutions in this space already, like one parent deciding to do ‘Fancy Friday’ where her and her children get dressed up and have a tea party and including others online. Who knows the thrill of being in our pyjamas all day will soon wear off?!
Younger children have something to offer older children and visa versa. Children can connect with friends they already have, as well as friends across other ages; because a conversation between a 2 year old and an 8 year old goes a lot better than between two toddlers.
What are the skills that we have to offer and what are the skills that others can offer us?
I know I’ve already asked my sister, who is an amazing teacher - to come up with some lessons for all her nephews and nieces and to do some online lessons over this next little while. We do not have to ‘go it alone’ or reinvent the wheel.
Let’s not be afraid to offer what we can to others and ask for others to fill in the gaps, because we are always better together!