Wednesday, July 5, 2017

It's Who I Am

I have heard the song “Good, Good Father” by Chris Tomlin a few times recently. (I love the Anthem Lights version at the moment.) I find that, when God wants to speak to my heart, things start repeating themselves around me. Either God wants to make his sweet message very clear, or he knows full well that I am a bit of a slow learner! When songs really reach the depths of my spirit, I find that I am drawn to them and listen to them over and over and over again. My children often hear me listening to a ‘new’ song and ask, “Is that your new favourite song?” They get to know the words of my favourites, too, and I like to hear the girls, especially, singing along. (I tell myself that the boys are singing along in their hearts!)

“Good, Good Father” was not a song that hit me hard the first time I heard it. For me, it didn’t have the immediate powerful message of Lauren Daigle’s “Trust in You” or Matthew West’s “Grace Win Every Time”. It was when I was exercising at home in front of a mirror one day that this song spoke to my heart for the first time. Yes, I did say I was exercising in front of a mirror! At first this was not intentional! Over the years I have watched, bemused, as people work out in front of the floor ceiling mirrors at the gym, marvelling at their vanity. We had recently tidied up a spare room with a large mirror, and it became the perfect place for me to work out on winter mornings.  At first I felt uncomfortable, but after a while, I realised that it was the perfect way to check that my technique was correct. It was also humbling to see all those jiggly bits that I didn’t realise were so noticeable! (That’s it: no more burpees or jump squats while exercising in public at the gym!)

On this particular day, I was having a good day. It was a peaceful time of the month for me. All was right in my little world. I watched as all those parts jiggled. I watched as the waist band of my pants rolled down a little and my shirt lifted as I jumped up. Instead of feeling down on myself as I often do in these situations, I laughed out loud. “It’s who I am,” I thought to myself. Then the song started playing over in the recording of my mind. “It’s who I am.” I love to exercise, but I have all these jiggly bits. “It’s who I am.” I love good food, but I also struggle in a big way with emotional eating. “It’s who I am.”

As I continued to squat and crunch and stretch, this ideology seeped into other areas of my life. I am a crazily dedicated homeschool mum, but my boys hate school and I struggle to maintain a good school routine as a result. It’s been a battle the whole way through! “It’s who I am”. I am not always a crazily dedicated housewife, and I struggle to keep on top of the mess, the dirt, the cockroaches. “It’s who I am.” I have made such stupid mistakes with money over the years that have caused such stress. “It’s who I am.” Our current living arrangement consists of three mobile homes that feel far from a normal house. Sometimes this makes me very embarrassed and ashamed. “It’s who I am”. We are in a complex and hectic stage of life where everything feels like it’s falling apart: our cars, our furniture, our clothes, even my underwear! “It’s who I am.” I know I am slowly learning from my mistakes. One step at a time. I am a work in progress, but in the midst of all this: in the midst of all the debts, the cockroaches, the broken stuff, the jiggly bits and the kids who hate school, I am loved by God.  What a blessed, delicious relief.

Monday, February 20, 2017

A Sunset, a Story and a Game with the Kids

Inspired by a story that I have just submitted for a university subject, I sat down for a moment and enjoyed a beautiful sunset tonight. It was absolutely magical, but I'm usually far too busy and distracted to enjoy these remarkable moments.

Since we have a rare night at home, I am going to sit down and play game with my children. I will not be distracted by the washing up. I will not get up to fold washing. I will not check e-mails. I will stop and enjoy my children.

Here is the story that I wrote called "Voices". It's simple, perhaps unsophisticated, but it's a reflection of me and my life at the moment.


“The room was too hot last week. My son doesn’t handle the heat well.”

“I’ll contact the office this afternoon and see what I can do. He is doing so well in drama class!”

“Thanks for that. If you can just do something about the heat. See you next week.”

                        To Do:

                        Contact office

“Slow down.”


“Mum, there is no food in the fridge again!”

“I bought milk and bread and cereal just yesterday! How can there be ‘no food’?”

“I want something more interesting.”

“Please, you really need to make do with what we have.”

“When are you going shopping next?”

“I’ll go this afternoon on the way home.”

                        To do:                          Shopping List:

                        Contact office             Food for boys

“Slow down. Pause.”


“Babe, did you pay for that air filter I bought on ebay?”

“What air filter? What is an air filter?”

“Oh, c’mon, you remember I told you about needing an air filter for the Landcruiser!”

“Um, no I don’t.”

“Have you paid for it?”

“I didn’t remember that you asked me to.”

“Can you please make sure you do it today? You know we need to get that car fixed.”

“I’ll try to get it done this afternoon.”

                        To do:                          Shopping:

                        Contact office             Food for boys

“Slow down. Pause. Exhale.”


“Mum, I failed my spelling test.”

“You what?”

“I failed. Only 4 right out of 20.”

“How did this happen? We practiced those words until late last night!”

“Yeah…but um…”

“You knew them!”

“We practiced an old list. I accidentally brought home an old list.”

“We what?”

“We practiced the words from week 8.”

“Week 8?”

“My teacher has sent an e-mail with extra spelling practise. She said you should be spending more time with me on spelling practise at home or I’ll keep getting behind.”

“I see.”

To do:                          Shopping List:

                        Contact office             Food for boys
                        Woolies                       Panadol

“Slow down. Pause. Exhale. Breathe.”


“Mu-u-u-um! There’s a red stain on my new white shirt!”

“Which white shirt?”

“The one I just got for my birthday.”

“Oh dear, I must have washed it with the colours.”

“Mum, I want to wear it tomorrow!”

“I’ll just have to give it a soak this afternoon.”

“Please make sure you get it out. I love that shirt!”

To do:                          Shopping List:

                        Contact office             Food for boys
                        Woolies                       Panadol
                        Ebay                            Napisan
                        Soak Shirt

“Slow down. Pause. Exhale. Breathe. Stop.”


“Darling, when are you going to come and visit your father and me?”

“Oh, mum, life has been hectic.”

“We hardly ever see any of you.”

“I know. I’m sorry.”

“What about dinner tonight. Save you having to think about it.”

“I do have a lot to get done.”

“Well, you let me know when you are free. We want to see you.”

“I promise I’ll let you know.”

To do:                          Shopping List:

                        Contact office             Food for boys
                        Woolies                       Panadol
                        Ebay                            Napisan
                        Emails                         Coffee
                        Soak shirt
                        Visit mum

“Slow down. Pause. Exhale. Breathe. Stop. Rest.”


“Are you free for Amy’s party this weekend?”

“Um yes, we should be.”

“Great. She is so excited. We have chosen a fairy theme!”

“She will love that.”

“Do you mind bringing a couple of fruit platters?”

“Sure. Watermelon? Rockmelon? Those sorts of fruits?

“Yes, and she has also asked for fruit skewers. And she loves strawberries. We have invited about 60 people.”

“Wow. OK. Looking forward to it. I’ll go to the fruit shop this afternoon.”

To do:                          Shopping List:

                        Contact office             Food for boys
                        Woolies                       Panadol
                        Ebay                            Napisan
                        Emails                         Coffee
                        Spelling                       Fruit
                         Soak shirt                    Skewers
                        Visit mum                   Strawberries
                        Fruit Skewers

“Slow down. Pause. Exhale. Breathe. Stop. Rest. Relax.”


“Mum, I need help with this English assignment.”

“Right, what do you need to do?”

“I’m supposed to go watch a live show and write a critical review. It can be any show as long as it’s live.”

“What? That’s a bit much. How long have you got to finish it?”

“It’s due tomorrow.”

“How on earth do they expect us to organise a trip to the theatre in such a short time!”

“I dunno.”

“When did you get this assignment?”

“I dunno. Maybe week 1.”

“It’s now week 9!”

To do:                          Shopping List:

                        Contact office             Food for boys
                        Woolies                       Panadol
                        Ebay                            Napisan
                        Emails                         Coffee
                        Spelling                       Skewers
                        Soak shirt                    Strawberries
                        Visit mum                   Fruit
                        Fruit Skewers              Chocolate
                        Library                         Valium

“Slow down. Pause. Exhale. Breathe. Stop. Rest. Relax.Enjoy”


“Mum, it sounds like there are rats behind the pantry again.”

“Mum, where are some AAA batteries for the remote?”

“Mum, I am supposed to have a graphics calculator for physics.”

“Babe, I just got a fine for an unregistered trailer. Didn’t you pay it?”

“Mum, I think the dog just got bitten by a brown snake.”

“Mum, grandma’s tried to call three times. She sounds angry.”








Sinking, swirling, tumbling, twirling. “Breathe.” Diving into the depths of desperate insanity. “Stop.”





 There is a still, small voice telling you to slow down. Each moment of the day it is reminding you to exhale. You need to learn to breathe. Only you can hear it. Only you can stop. Only you can find the time to rest. When you learn to relax, you will notice a difference. Your eyes will be open and you will truly be able to enjoy what you have. You will truly begin to live.

                        Notice the beauty.
                                    Smell the flowers.
                                                Hug your children.
                                                            Kiss your husband.
                                                                        Enjoy life.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Being Patient with Ourselves

I am slowly learning to be patient with myself! It is a skill that is taking me years and years to develop. A few years ago I realised just how hard I am on myself. I was treating myself a lot worse than I treated other people.

Here is an example that has reminded me of this idea today.

I am having one of those days where I feel like I am totally snowed under. It is understandable. My last week has been extremely busy. (And that is not even taking into account a very busy month!) One week ago, I left early to drop my husband at work. I came home and sat with my children cramming in as much school work as we could. The older boys had a small piece of English due that we finished. Then I spent two hours packing for a BMX trip. We then headed off to pick up my husband. Off we headed to Shepparton: 1500km. We attended the BMX meet (part of it in the rain; bringing home wet and dirty clothes, bikes and helmets). After having driven all night to get home, I had a drama lesson to teach, then a birthday dinner, then straight into school and other events the next day! Needless to say, my house is a mess, and there is little food in the fridge. I am struggling to keep sane today!

Anyway, to cut to the chase: my husband just called to ask me to email a list he needs for someone who is taking over some of his work. The list that I need to e-mail is on an old computer that will not turn on. Why do I need to send this list today? Because the young man who needs it lost the list that my husband has already given him. A young man with no wife, no children, who likes to surf on the weekends. If I can be patient with this man who has lost a list that will take me 20 minutes to retype (when I have piles of work all around me), then I can be patient with myself when I make silly mistakes sometimes, or forget things, or am late with something.

I can get through step at a time.

Monday, October 17, 2016

My Life as an Old Wooden Pallet

My husband has recently developed an interest in building furniture and accessories out of discarded pallets and wood scraps. I love that he has found a hobby that gives him satisfaction.

Here is a pile of wooden pallets we have at our place at the moment:

They're not too much to look at, are they?

After they have served their purpose to package, store or transport goods, they are potentially thrown into the scrap heap. They can become an eye sore, a waste of space.  However, with a bit of time, attention and creativity, there is more to these poor old, discarded pallets than meets the eye. When someone sees the potential in an old pallet, when they make an effort to take it home and work with it, wonderful things can happen.
From what I have heard, the most time-consuming and frustrating part of working with pallets is breaking them apart to get them ready to use. My poor husband has recently broken an important part of one of his tools due to some hidden nails in the pallet. (He has been running about to different shops to try and find the replacement parts he needs, so he can keep going with his current project.)
After he has broken the pallets apart, they are more of a mess and look more like rubbish than before he started.
There doesn't look to be much potential in that pile of rubble, does there?

My clever and creative husband will reach into that pile of 'junk' with a particular project in mind. He sees each piece of wood for its potential.

He first started by making practical little things to help combat the storage problem in our very tiny home. He made a small ledge to sit the television on, creating space underneath for other things. Upon request, he made a shelf for one of our sons to store his shoes and hats.

He made this handy shelf to perfectly fit on our kitchen bench, giving extra storage for small, but important, things.
He worked with our sons over a few days over a long weekend making a beautiful and sturdy coffee table.

We love this beautiful and rustic piece: partly because we know how much love was put into it during its creation, but also because it has been genuinely useful.

He even surprised us all, after purchasing a router, by starting to make beautiful signs for our home.

What a lot of wonderful things have come from that old pile of pallets and wood scraps!

The humble pallet has taught me a very valuable life lesson, too. In all honesty, sometimes I feel about as interesting and useful as an old discarded wooden pallet.

Sometimes I feel like I am being pushed and prodded into so many directions and broken apart just like the pallets. I often wonder, “Once my days of cooking, cleaning, tidying, sorting, organising, teaching, soothing, reminding, disciplining, helping, fixing (etc) are over, will there be any more use for me?” Or will I be a worn out mess, just like that pile of scrap rubble?
My husband has a plan for each piece of wood that comes from the pile that resembles a scrap heap; and I know that God has a plan for my life, regardless of how messy, tired or broken it seems at times.
Perhaps his plan is for me to be practical, useful and sturdy like the furniture. Perhaps his plan is for me to be beautiful and inspiring like the sign. Perhaps it is a combination of both.

God doesn't see us for the pile of mess that we feel to be, but for our true potential. Whatever happens, we can trust that we are daily growing to be more valuable, useful and beautiful in the hands of our Creator.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Lessons from Life: Slow Down

I had about fifty ideas jotted down for this week’s blog post. I actually had four of those ideas half-written. Last night, I completed one full post for publication. This morning I woke up and knew I needed to write about a different topic altogether!

To quote Toad from a section of a Frog and Toad book that two of my speech students performed this year, “I feel down in the dumps.”
I get like this sometimes. About once a month, I think. The thing is: it took me literally fifteen years to figure out that there is a physiological reason I feel like this!

During these times, everything seems wrong. I feel like a failure in every area. Every ‘problem’ that I am facing is magnified one thousand times. I am tempted many times during the day to grab a block of chocolate, climb back into bed, pull the covers over my head, and stay there all day...just like Toad. Some days ,I have done just that! Unfortunately for me, it usually isn’t just one day that I feel like this. It usually lasts a few days; although, last month it lasted for nine days! Nine days where every day felt like I was running a marathon through a deep mud pit.

My diligent friends who are more in-tune with their bodies than I am, would probably have lots of ideas to help me through these times. I have tried different things in the past. Perhaps it is lazy and foolish of me to keep soldiering on when there probably could be some help for this problem. But sometimes the demands of life take away any motivation and energy to deal with a problem that just seems to be ‘part of being a woman’. When I feel like this, I couldn’t be bothered. When I am over this, I seem to forget just how hard it was.

I remember the advice I got from a respected older mother a few years ago when I described one of my hard days to her. She said something like: “It sounds as though you just need to take a breath, slow down and be kind to yourself today.” Now that I’m more aware of the fact that it’s my hormones wreaking havoc on days like this, I am able to follow that wise advice. In these instances, though, life goes on: my children still need to be educated; the dirty dishes still pile high on the sink; the dirty washing still overflows from the basket; there are still hungry mouths to feed; there are still children’s needs to be met; there are still bills to be paid, appointments to get to, little emergencies to tend to…etc.

‘Slowing down’ and ‘being kind to myself’ are two things I am learning to do. When hard days creep up on me when I least expect them, it’s easy to get frustrated with myself. I have gotten very angry with myself in the past for not being able to keep up with the demands of life. I would never treat another person with the disrespect that I have treated myself during these challenging days.

I know I will probably have lot of well-meaning friends who want to give me tips and advice to deal with these times, and I appreciate that. But I am not writing this for advice or sympathy; I am just writing it in my quest to be real. It’s not a topic I like to burden people with in my conversations, but it is a real battle I face each month.

But as I mentioned earlier, I am getting better! Even when the hard times last longer than I expect, I have learnt to slow down, eat plenty of good food, rest when I can, and take the time to enjoy the simple pleasures of life: hugging my children, having a laugh with them, having a coffee in the morning sunshine.
The life of a mother is like a constant battle. At times, it seems there is no rest and no place to hide. But, we need to be patient with ourselves, give ourselves a little kindness and grace sometimes and just….slow down.

I am reminded about a poem I learnt when I was a teenager.  I have never forgotten the  last verse:

“Quit! Give up! You’re Beaten!”
They still shout in my face,
But another voice within me says,
“Get up and win the race!”

I might take some time in the pit area today; but I will be up to face my race very soon!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

An Introduction

I have been wanting to start a blog for a long time. I read recently in “Blogging” by Jill Walker Rettbert that blogs have been around for about 15 years. They followed on from the old genres of personal diaries, autobiographies and memoirs. In today’s age of social media, anyone can have a go, share who they are and become a writer. It is my hope that this blog will capture a little bit of who I am and may encourage other women and mothers along their journey of life.

 I first came across blogging five years ago. I found many inspiring blogs by Christian women. I would have an allocated time most mornings where I would sip my coffee and browse a few of my favourites. At first they would inspire me and give me ideas to improve my life (whether it be in regard to parenting in general, homeschooling, marriage, budgeting, housework or other housewifey pursuits.) My life was far from being so cookie cutter perfect. My children didn’t respond to these beautiful educational ideas and philosophies. My husband was different to the ones that other women described. I felt like a failure. After a time, I had to ban myself from reading them as they were making me depressed. The ones that I had chosen all painted this idyllic picture of perfection that I felt I could never reach. Over time, I have sporadically partaken in other blogs that have been recommended to me and found that many women do write in real, honest language that does indeed resonate with my crazy and very imperfect life.

Still, during my sabbatical from reading blogs, I developed a passion to write raw, gritty and real blog posts. That is what this blog is about. Those who know me personally see me as a good little girl with all her ducks in a row. So some of these posts may shock people! In fact, someone labelled me just on Friday night as being ‘pure’. “Don’t use that language around Alex; she’s pure.” It was a joke. They were my friends, and I laughed along with them. My answer was, “Talk how you want. I have a good filter!” The thing is, people see me as having things together. The truth is: I do love God; I do read,  and try to obey the Bible; I did grow up in a Christian home; I have a genuine love for people; but I fail dismally every day! I’m never the perfect wife, the perfect mother, the perfect daughter, the perfect daughter-in-law, the perfect friend. I have made so many mistakes; but the thing is, I make a huge effort to learn from them. One of my life’s mottos is: I may be a slow learner, but at least I’m a learner. My mum and dad will heartily concur that I learnt my lessons painfully and slowly as a child; but looking back over the roller coaster of my life, I can see that I do learn. I am reading through Proverbs at the moment, and am loving all the references to wisdom. This is something I have prayed fervently for since I was a teenager.  Someone with a wise heart learns from her mistakes.

Even though it has taken me years to develop the confidence, I am finally starting to call myself a writer (after having written passionately all my life); but I don’t see myself as having anything unique. I don’t have a huge vocabulary; I don’t have a clever way with rhetoric; I’m not overly funny.  I use clear and simple language that is real and honest and displays my heart. I hope and pray my stories can help others along the way.
(At this stage I plan to add a new blog post each Monday.)