Thursday, January 26, 2023
Monday, January 23, 2023
This year I am starting something new every Monday morning - sharing thoughts from God's Word or a devotional, with hope that it will encourage and grow us deeper into our walk with the Lord.
Today I was impressed to share a short personal testimony of how God can sharpen our character by revealing things we may not see in ourselves until His mirror is placed before us.
“We all with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image.”
2 Corinthians 3:18
Many people will write about their ‘word for the year’ and in the past I have done that a few times, but in the last few years God has given me more of an instructive life-lesson to pursue each January, and by His grace those lessons have led me through valleys and up the mountainside with each passing month.
This year His still small voice came to me in the deep darkness of a sleepless late December night, “Jennifer, stop striving”, and as my old Pop would say, He hit the nail on the head. Friends, when God puts a mirror before you, and shows you what He sees in your life that needs to change, you really want to take notice, and ask for the Holy Spirit to deepen your own awareness of those corrections and how to bring them about. Ask for His guiding hand to lead you day by day through the months ahead until you have shaken free of those chains which bound you for too long, the chains you felt, yet did not know, were there by your own making.
I was reading My Utmost For His Highest this morning (January 23rd) and found this to be another of the Holy Spirit's lessons with regards to the Lord’s directive to stop striving…
“The most important rule for us is to concentrate on keeping our lives open to God. Let everything else including work, clothes, and food be set aside. The busyness of things (my striving) obscures our concentration on God…never let a hurried lifestyle disturb the relationship of abiding in Him. This is an easy thing to allow, but we must guard against it.”
I can tell you that this will be a life changing year for me, just as the years before have been, and already three weeks in, His instruction resonates repeatedly as I go about my tasks, almost pulling me back time and again. Slowing down, not just in mind, but in all that I do; for example - no longer rushing to chop all those vegetables as quickly as possible so I can fit more tasks into the day. In fact, the Father has reminded me of a lovely homeschooling mum whom I gave the nickname of "tomato lady" to make His point clearer.
When I first met Caroline, a minister's wife, the thing which stood out that day was how slowly she cut the tomatoes. In 2003 our family had moved to a new town, and once we'd connected with the local homeschool group, Caroline invited us to lunch. When the children and I arrived, all the kids went off to play and Caroline made us both a cup of tea. She pulled a bar stool up to the kitchen bench for me to sit while she went ahead and prepared the lunch. Over the next hour I watched her slice, mix, fold, pour, wash, simmer and bake...slowly, intentionally, the whole time consciously lifting her eyes to look at mine as she spoke, pausing from her meal-making tasks, unhurried and calm. That first lunch with her was twenty years ago and yet today, so clear in my memory, it could have been yesterday. Even the setting of the table, the meal itself, the conversation, the clean up...all unhurried. During the two years we lived in that town and fellowshipped with Caroline, her husband and children, never once did I see her flustered or rushed. She was always open to the Lord's lead in her day to day life, never lazy, assured that consistently doing one task at a time, and not rushing to or being distracted by another, would be what He required of her each day. Consistent, faithful, trusting in His example, that was Caroline.
Revisiting those years, pondering the many memories and their significance to my need to "stop striving" - they are lessons from long ago which the Lord is bringing forth this year that I should learn from and gather in with other lessons and corrections He will be teaching me.
From experience I know that lessons from more recent years have already borne good fruit, the kind that doesn't leave you but becomes a very real part of your character...
Back in 2019, the Lord told me to "Use what you already have", and now, four years later, His words still echo in my mind at least once a day. That lesson completely changed my life, and is still changing it.
In 2022, His lesson was to "Be content with what you have", and I think over the past decade this has been the most profound change made in any year, a change which, once again, I am reminded of each day.
Is there a life-lesson God has you addressing this year? I am praying we all find our lives more deeply hidden in Christ through 2023, that the change will be noticeable to others, and that when God places a character-mirror before us again in December, we will feel His pleasure because the evidence will be obvious.
Bless you heaps!
Saturday, January 21, 2023
We've had so much rain this month that I've rarely needed to water the garden. In fact we've had so much rain that all four pumps in our front and back yards have been working overtime, and praise the Lord only one of them broke down. They kept our yards looking more like a lake than the oceans of times past. We are so glad hubby spent two weeks in May last year replacing and re-building all the pump wells and pipes because his hard work is paying off. We're still only in the first half of our tropical wet season, and more monsoons are yet to come, perhaps a cyclone (though we pray not), so knowing the pumps are moving the water out from the yards and into the council storm drain is a great relief.
Each day at morning tea I sit at my desk in the sewing room and work on blogging, writing, homemaking and sewing plans for the months ahead. On the rainy days it was simply beautiful watching the rain drops glisten and fall from the Grevillea, Syzygium and Bottle Brush trees outside the window, and the little honeyeaters darting to and fro from branch to branch.
While it's been so wet, warm and humid, my attention has been given over to a jolly deep clean of the living/dining room, kitchen, pantry, bathroom and entryway...the evidence of each day's labour being my aching muscles at night. But working hard around home brings great satisfaction, and definitely worth the aches and pains.
I got down into the window tracks one morning, after washing the inside of the windows, and was horrified at the build up of dirt and dust. Obviously it had been a long time since I did that task.
All the appliances were cleaned inside and out, and I must tell you that cleaning the dishwasher with citric acid is wonderful! Just add 1/4 cup where you'd normally put your dishwashing cleaner and run your regular cycle. When you open the door later it gleams and sparkles good as new.
I've also done some mending of clothes, some curtains, and cushion inserts. I find in our very hot tropical weather, many things become brittle, even the covers of cushion inserts. This one was crumbling before my eyes...
Just over a year ago we switched to all linen sheets, but I kept the old cotton ones because they are really good for backing quilts, runners, etc...but they also make excellent replacement cushion insert covers. I cut a rectangle from the old sheet to fit, sewed French seams along the sides, and hemmed the open end, before popping the crumbling insert inside and slip stitching the opening closed.
Now I can safely place the newly covered insert inside my pretty cushion covers without dealing with a crumbly mess whenever I want to change them.
After this repair I took my sewing machine in for a service. Blossom reminded me that our machines had not been serviced in a very long time (6 years - ouch!) and when we got them back they worked like new. We simply hadn't noticed any issues until then, as I find over time you get used to things not being perfect. Anyhow, this enthused me to get back to sewing on my machine more often, and that decision prompted a new tutorial which I'll be sharing next week.
Here's a little peek at what we will be making...
Even though it's raining a lot, the weather is still hot and humid, so cool afternoon snacks and soda water infused with frozen pineapple or citrus slices are my go to. At the moment I'm relishing grape season, and have developed a partiality for apple slices dipped in peanut butter. Oh my, it's quite scrumptious!
Did you make the bookmarks from my free Books & Roses block of the month last year? When I shared the first one last January I suggested some of you may like to use them in a quilt instead of a bookmark. Well, my good friend Joanne in the Netherlands, ran with that idea!
She's been sending me update photos every month, and here are her twelve Books & Roses embroideries displayed inside churn dash blocks...
...and the other day I received photos of the completed quilt. I think you will love it!
I have opened a new account on Instagram. The many months since I left IG were more beneficial than I can say, because though I may not have spoken or written of it, last year was (personally and for family members) a very challenging one.
Taking time out to examine my life, my character, my hopes and plans, my relationship with the Lord, my available time, and the very great responsibility of being a homemaker and the matriach of our family - those many months of social media absence proved beneficial, as they gave me needed space to sweep away doubt and cobwebs, and to become sure of exactly who I was and the direction God required me to pursue.
I actually did not think there'd be any return to IG, so making this decision over the past week surprised me...but we live in a time when the voice of conservatives, of Bible believing Christians, of homemakers, wives, mothers and grandmothers, of Titus Two women, are being drowned out. So while we're still able to speak, I'd like to encourage women in my own small way, and just as I do this on my blog, so I plan to do also on my new Instagram account.
You can follow along HERE or search for @jennyofelefantz
Well, I'll get back to my planning now, as I have a few tutorial ideas I'd like to work on for coming months, plus a new issue of The Homemakers Heart to compile...
...and with a great recipe book find from the op-shop recently I have notes to make because it's full of great advice for menu planning in the economy of today. So much of it I heard from my Nana's lips, but had forgotten. Now the memory is being jogged awake.
Bless you heaps, and I pray that whatever your season, you're finding ways to beautify your home environment and infuse joy into all your tasks. May the Lord bless the work of your hands today and every day...
Thursday, January 12, 2023
Saturday, January 7, 2023
We still have ample sheets and towels, fabric, kitchen items etc, but now we have only what we use, with some to spare of course, and a short list of things we'd like to acquire this year, such as a vacuum sealer for storing dehydrated foods, flour and grains. I lost 15kg (about 32 pounds) of flour this past week as it was all infested with Brown Flour Mites - and this is something we face living in the hot, humid, wet tropics. I freeze all my wheat grains and rice for days after purchase, and thank the Lord they are fine, but the flour was a completely different matter. So after disposing of the infested flours, vacuuming and scrubbing the pantry and the containers, then disposing of the vacuum cleaner bag immediately after, I researched for helps with preserving flour in our climate.
Next day I bought more flours, and after taping bay leaves inside the lids, refilled the clean containers. Apparently these bugs hate bay leaves and this method of prevention really works, but extra protection is to wipe around your pantry shelving using a cloth which has some essential oils on it (pine, eucalyptus or tea tree are recommended) so I'm doing that as well. Perhaps you can understand why we've decided to save for a good vacuum sealer?
Re-organising the lounge/dining room to suit summer, and also adding the leather chair which used to sit in our bedroom unused. We need a new rug, something to save for, as the dog destroyed the last one.