Pumpkin, Chorizo, and Chickpea Salad {GF}

This is a simple and delicious salad I made and took to a Youth gathering while I was in Australia. It was a huge hit!

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Pumpkin, Chorizo, and Chickpea Salad

Ingredients

100g baby spinach leaves

100g arugula

1/4 leftover roasted pumpkin, cubed

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

100g chorizo

1 red capsicum (pepper)

3 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1/2 tsp mixed spice

1/2 tsp rosemary

50g Kalamata olives

50g crumbled feta cheese (optional)

Extra Virgin olive oil

Sea salt

Cracked pepper

Method

  1. Wash the baby spinach and arugula leaves, pat dry, and toss them in a large salad bowl.
  2. Place the chickpeas and chorizo in a medium pan with a lug of extra virgin olive oil. Cook until chorizo is crispy. Put these to the side to cool.
  3. Add capsicum to the pan and saute until capsicum is soft.
  4. Put the chickpea mix back in the pan along with mixed spice, rosemary, balsamic vinegar, and the pre-prepared roast pumpkin. Saute for another minute, then add the mixture to the salad bowl.
  5. Toss in olives and crumble feta cheese on top.
  6. Add freshly ground salt and pepper to taste, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Serve on the side of a piece of grilled protein with a slice of my Kalamata Olive and Herb Spelt Bread.

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The Book [a Poem]

I did not often pick it up to take a closer look,

It really was not my first choice,

when it came to reading books.

Still, others thought I knew it well, and if the truth be told,

there were a few notes in the margin –

pages gilt with faded gold.

I was set an example of purity, a portrait of innocence.

Sure, my actions spoke boldly –

but my heart sat on the fence.

It was my dirty little secret that nobody ever knew,

I was so afraid to be exposed,

my ignorance just grew.

And sometimes I cried, but mostly – I did not cry at all.

My heart was very light, but heavy,

was the burden on my soul.

 

“You must read this book!” I would declare,

but what I said was hardly fair,

the book it was just sitting there,

upon my dusty shelf.

And with Pharisaic certainty,

I’d say it was my favourite read,

a true picture of hypocrisy,

seldom gaining from its wealth.

 

So my ignorance still grew,

for its words I hardly knew,

and time (as it does) just flew –

the clock a-ticking ticking.

and my feet they were a-slipping,

I was stumbling and tripping –

From the shore a-drifting,

further, farther, far away.

 

Then one day – I just crumbled.

I realized I had stumbled –

one too many times while walking down another way.

My voice, I realized, I was giving,

to something I wasn’t really living.

My heart it fell down, humbled – and at his feet I prayed.

 

The cover was all dusty,

the cover of this book.

It was never really my first choice –

now I picked it up and looked.

 

At His feet I fell down, at others feet I learned.

I found the more His words came in,

the more for them I yearned.

Its words at first seemed bitter, but after more time at his feet

The more I came to find His words

astonishingly sweet.

And the more I let others teach, the more I came to see –

The solutions all were in the book,

And the problem was with me.

I realized that along with works, I needed my own faith.

Not just to be reliant on

what the speaker says.

 

So now the clock’s still ticking, tocking,

and life is never stopping,

but now I take the time (with coffee)

to sit down with that book and read.

For deep within its pages,

is a wealth for all the ages,

wisdom more than all the sages –

and its treasure that I need.

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Connecting to God Through the Internet {12 Soul Strengthening Resources}

With all the things vying for our attention in this world, often we find ourselves going whole days, weeks, or months without connecting to God as we really should. Too often people have more time for Facebook than for God. I know I’ve been guilty there.

The response, however, is not to unplug and go off-grid – it is to accept that the Internet is a tool and learn how to use it wisely, in a way that helps us to grow rather than stunts our growth. Oh, it is so easy to make it your enemy. With Facebook and Facebook games (while we are on that topic – please do not send me any game requests), Instagram, Twitter, Periscope, Snapchat, and every other time waster and in between, it can be difficult to see how the internet can be of use in connecting us to God.

But, if we put in just a little effort to set ourselves up, the internet can actually be a great help to us spiritually.

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Here are some of my favourite resources I am currently using to draw me closer to God.

My Favourite Apps

  1. E-sword. This is one of the only apps I have paid money for, and it was worth every penny. You can get e-sword for free on your laptop (which I also have and use extensively), but it’s nice to have all those features on your portable device. Free commentaries, dictionaries, lexicons, concordances, and Bible reading plans make this app worth the little change you invest in it. I also enjoy the feature which allows you to create lists of Scriptures on various preset topics.
  2. Logos. This is another Bible program, but what it has over the i-version of e-sword is that you can take notes, beautiful presentation, and more options for Bible marking. I enjoy using Logos for note taking, Bible-marking, and e-sword for delving deeper into the study.
  3. Echo. This is a prayer app, and it’s simply genius. You add things you want to pray about, and can even set alarms to go off at certain times to remind you to pray.
  4. Bible.is. I like this app primarily because you can listen to the Bible on it. For reading the Old Testament, Gospel accounts, and the book of Acts, I appreciate the dramatised version. For some reason, listening to that helps the accounts to stick better – I think because all the characters have different voices.
  5. Facebook. This one might be surprising. Honestly, it gets a bad rep – and I even go through stages where I get rather sick of it and need a break – but it is such a great way to get in touch with other members of the body, and be encouraged. It can also be a trap in this way – so be selective about how much time you spend on there and what you are looking at! Tailor your news feed to suit your spiritual needs. Check out Digging Deep in God’s Word, Lysa TerKeurst, Tomorrow’s Church Today, Phylicia Delta Blog, Time Warp Wife, and The Light Network are all pages that I find encouraging… and while you are at it, join me at Happy Healthy Holy Home!

My Favourite Podcasts

Oh, podcasts – how I love thee! It took me too long to jump on the podcast bandwagon (mostly because I’m a rebel, so if everyone’s doing it I don’t want to!) – but now I have, I’m hooked. I listen to a podcast (or two, or three) just about every day while I fold washing, tidy a room, or do the dishes.

  1. Wifey Wednesdays. “Love God, love your husband” is the theme of this podcast which is all at once uplifting, encouraging, and practical. With a different guest every week and a vast archive of topics, this is a podcast that every woman can get into.
  2. Arrows in Our Hand. This podcast on “parenting with a purpose” is something I’ve just recently gotten into. Having a 4-month-old son, I need all the encouragement in this area I can get!
  3. Uniquely Woman. The two women who host this podcast begin by saying that they are exploring God’s idea of womanhood in light of the Bible – and they encourage everyone to check what they say against it. Having that foundation, it is a very scripture-full and encouraging podcast.

My Favourite Blogs

  1. Start to Finish. With different blogs to cater to different groups – Courageous Christian Woman, Strong Church, and Overcome Online (just to name a few) – there is something for everyone here. Start2Finish also have a range of Bible-based podcasts (which I am yet to explore!), and quality books for sale.
  2. Plain Simple Faith. This is a blog to follow – because it explores church issues on an attractive page from a modern point of view. It’s the same Bible message you’ve heard since young – refreshed and repackaged to suit its current audience. No fluff. Love it.
  3. Tomorrow’s Church, Today. This blog is full of promise and hope – as it present’s the writing of several Christian teenage authors. I love it because it makes me excited about the future of the church.
  4. Phylicia Delta Blog. Practical, smart, and highly Bible-based, this blog is great to go to when you have questions about what the woman’s Christian walk should look like. It’s particularly popular for its posts for young, single women – but I’m enjoying the posts she’s done on motherhood lately. We had our babies within weeks of each other!

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They are my top 12 – what are your favourite resources? Share them in the comments below!

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Dear Young Mum, Don’t Expect Sunday to Fill Your  Cup 

Today was Sunday, a day I have often thought of as the high point of my week – a day to refuel myself and refill my empty cup, allowing me to focus my mind and start off my week with God at the forefront of my mind.

But like just about every Sunday of late, it felt like it did little of the sort.

I suppose I should be grateful. At least, he sat through the Lord’s Supper for the first time in forever. Usually, he picks this time of reflection just when everyone is trying to focus on Jesus’ sacrifice to scream out as loud as he can and begin searching for food. Today we got through it. Well, kind of. The Lord’s Supper started with baby Z yelling at the people behind us for attention, and finished with me holding him tightly and calmly muttering in his ear over and over, “Shhhhhh… We’re all thinking about Jesus now. It’s time to think about Jesus.” 

Well, at least, I was trying to think of Jesus. I guess I was mostly preoccupied with keeping him quiet so everyone else could think of Jesus – and with working out how to receive my little cup of grape juice without having him knock it over.

As for the singing, thankfully he loves that. Guaranteed cry-stopper. He will sit through any amount of singing without complaint. So I take the time to try to focus on the words while also focusing on trying to hold the song book at just the right distance: close enough so I can see it, and far enough away enough so he doesn’t rip out the pages. His new trick is turning pages, however his fine motor skills are still somewhat lacking.

The sermon was about how we are made to be joyful; at least, that’s what I heard before I had to go out and feed him. I did hear something across the speaker about Asaph, and then something about Paul and Silas, but not really much else of any substance. Actually, I think I heard him say something about how babies were joyful, as my boy screamed away because he was hungry and wet. I spent my energy trying to settle him down into a feed between several nappy changes. That boy sure knows how to wet his pants.

He did manage to sleep a little – through the cradle roll class. Yes. At a time actually designed for him to learn and interact, he decides to sleep – and I am left awake singing and learning about how God made the clouds, and the leaves, and the crocodiles, and the giraffes, and the bees, and the flowers, and the rain, and the butterflies, and the birds, and the fish, and mummy, and daddy, and brother, and sister, and baby, and…

You get the picture.

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I really understand now. I used to think mothers were just lazy for not bringing their children out, but it really is hard. I now have every sympathy. It’s hard to go every Sunday to worship God and find that you are forced to divide your attention between God and the little boy entrusted to your care. It’s hard to spend time training a little one to sit. Because it’s hard, I see many mothers give up, and either spend their time in the nursery chatting with other mums or stop coming to the worship hour all together.

I get it. It can be so hard. So discouraging. So demoralising.

But I want to tell you, young mother, that Sunday is not the time right now for filling your cup. Yes, before baby it may have been a time for you to have your soul revived and refreshed; but now as one, two, three babies sit with you in the pew and you struggle desperately between feeds, changes, screams, spanks, and giggles to maintain some kind of order and perhaps maybe just take away something that can carry you through the week. Anything

Sometimes it just doesn’t happen. And it isn’t for not trying. Oh, you have tried, while you prayed and cried in frustration, but Sunday just doesn’t help you that much. Often it leaves you feeling emptier rather than full, as you give all your energy to others.

And I have to tell you if you are expecting for Sundays to be filling your cup – you’re going to be disappointed for a long time.

That doesn’t mean it is a time to give worship up, or give up trying to pay attention, however. There are so many reasons why sticking with the worship assembly right now and always is so important (that can be a whole another blog post!). Now is not a time to give up, but a time to let necessity change your habits.

It’s time, young mum, to learn to fill your own cup. It’s time to let God into your every day.

Maybe you’ve already had great study and prayer habits long before now and have been able to fit those habits nicely into your baby’s schedule – if that’s you – that’s fantastic!

For many, however, having a baby means such a huge overturning of their lives that they are left spiritually anaemic. They are used to being spoon fed, and aren’t used to hunting and gathering for their own sustenance. While Bible study may have been hard to get into the habit to learn before, it seems impossible now – and with the added burden of not being able to pay attention during worship service, they feel themselves drifting farther and farther away from God.

If that describes you, then now is the time for a change.

Look at your baby as a way to grow positive habits, rather than an excuse to shun them. There is no doubt that a baby is a huge life changer. It tests every synapse and sinew. It’s a huge challenge – but because of that, it also can be a great catalyst for positive habits to be formed. The greater the test, the greater the growth potential.

Do what it takes to teach yourself how to get in the Word and let it change your life.

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As for motivation, I use my baby as motivation to keep filling my cup.

I want him to see me have a personal relationship with God daily.

I want him to hear me speak God’s Word from the overflow.

I want to know wise and godly answers to his burning questions when he’s ready to ask them.

I want him to know Sunday is not the only time to fill his cup.

…and I need God’s wisdom. Oh, how I need it. I just can’t do this parenting thing on my own.

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So for now, I will hear snippets of sermons, balance song books just out of his reach, and try to think of God’s Son whole my son squirms around – giving up my free refill to reap those future benefits of faithfulness in my offspring.

But my soul will be satisfied because my child is not an excuse to be distracted, but a reason to stay focused.

I will fill my own cup – because no one else can fill it for me.

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If you are wondering just how to fill your cup, here are some suggestions:

  • Find time to read and intentionally move through Scripture. This is number one. No matter how many sermons or podcasts you listen to, this is the most important. Spend time getting to know and understand the Creator for yourself. The going may be slow, but the effort you put in will be rewarded. For more details, I recommend purchasing a copy of Women of the Word, by Jen Wilkin – it’s like a mini hermeneutics course for women.
  • Listen to Bible-based podcasts while you do chores. I don’t use this to replace my Bible study, but to supplement it. My favourite podcasts are Wifey Wednesdays and Uniquely Woman.
  • Make the Bible a topic of conversation around the dinner table. It doesn’t have to be forced. Share what you are learning. Discuss difficult concepts. Make the Word come alive in your lives, rather than having it be a Sunday thing.
  • Find a way that works with your personality. It doesn’t matter how you do it, but it matters that you do it. If you need accountability, take a course. If you need freedom, go to your favourite cafe. If you need time, get up a bit earlier than baby (tough, I know). Whatever helps you to get closer to God, do it.

 

Bible study looks different for everyone. – – – – – – – – – I was talking to my girls the other night about things that can help us develop habits and enjoy Bible study, when one of the girls asked me, "If we are studying just to use cute pens or drink coffee, are we doing the right thing? Are we studying for the wrong reasons? One reason I love teaching the teen girls is because I can remember feeling and thinking all the things that they ask me about. It used to upset me that I couldn't "just enjoy" Bible study. I felt like that made me a bad Christian. The way I explained it was like this: "Exercise is good for you, right? Well, I know I need to exercise, but sometimes I don't feel like it. So, one day I decide that I'm going to go for a run and afterwards go for a coffee at my favourite cafe. Do you think it would have been better for me to sit on the couch because I was using coffee as a motivator?" Of course not. And the girls could see that. For those of you who are like me and SERIOUSLY type B, sometimes we have to "trick" ourselves into creating habits. If we couple something we have to do with something we love to do, we are much more likely to do it. Don't feel like studying? Light a candle. Use cute pens. Meet with a friend and study. Go to a nice cafe. Climb a mountain (Jesus did). If you do this regularly, suddenly the thing you have to do becomes pleasant by association. It becomes something you want to do. – – – – – – – – – The problem is not that you had to motivate yourself to run. The problem would be never running in the first place. You get the picture. ❤ – – – – – – – – How do you "trick" yourself into creating habits? – – – – – – – – #strongwomen #fitness #strength #habits #hhhmcommunity #bible #biblestudy #motivation #createyourlife #rebel #coffee #runningoncaffiene #christian #womenoftheword #womenlivingwell #proverbs31 #titus2 #bibleverse #scripture

A photo posted by Chantelle Marie Swayne (@happyhealthyholyhome) on

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Cauliflower Pizza Crust {GF, DF, Paleo, Low Carb}

So this month has been sweetly sugar-free. Well, sugar-free apart from the 4 York mints I had the other day. They were tiny York mints. You know, the fun-size ones. My program coordinators said we were allowed a treat this week, so I wasn’t cheating. I promise!

So I was feeling pretty awesome… but, as usual, I wanted pizza. So I was forced to experiment and use my imagination when it came to the crust.

The resulting crust was perfectly crispy on the edges and able to be picked up by the slice and eaten by hand without falling apart. My husband also preferred the cauliflower crust to his own conventional one. Success!

This pizza crust is perfect for those who want to cut down on their carb and/or gluten intake. I made this cauliflower crust recipe because I didn’t want it to be full of the usual ingredients that cauliflower crust recipes call for to bind them together- a heap of cheese or a cup of flour. I wanted to keep it low carb, and, well – I like my cheese on top of my pizza.

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Ingredients
1 large head of cauliflower (stem removed)
4 tbsp almond meal
3 tbsp chia seeds
2 eggs
4 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for “smearing”
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried basil leaves
1 tsp dried oregano

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Steam or boil the head of cauliflower for approx 5 minutes – or until you can run a fork through the florets. You don’t want the florets to be too mushy.
  3. Process the florets until fine, and then thoroughly drained of liquid by squeezing through a nut milk bag, muslin, or cheesecloth.
  4. Mix all ingredients together – I used a food processor.
  5. Line a baking tray with baking paper and grease with olive oil.
  6. Spread the mixture evenly over the tray.
  7. Smear the top of the base with olive oil.
  8. Bake for 20mins @ 180C.
  9. Top with toppings and bake an additional 10 minutes.

 

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We Are the Brave Ones

You think I would get used to it. The quick skims over my chosen outfit. The you’re-wearing-that? faces. The discouraging trips to the active wear section.

As everyone else buys whatever they feel comfortable wearing, I carefully search the active wear section for something—anything—that doesn’t outline my buttocks and comes close to my knees. I mean, have you even looked at the ladies’ section? Booty-shorts and figure-hugging leggings are the way it’s done. There is literally nothing in between.

My spirits sink a little, and I find myself trying on shorts from the men’s section, thinking for the hundredth time, “Why is it that all the men’s stuff is long and loose enough?” I select an extra small pair, and as I turn and survey myself from every-which-way in the changing room mirror, I try to tell myself they don’t look that bad—that no one will notice the way they bunch up oddly in the crotch.

Men don’t quite have the same curves I do, it appears.

I know some women love wearing men’s tops and shorts, but not me—I love looking feminine. Sometimes I find myself looking at those gorgeous leggings that come in all the colours of the rainbow, cute matching strappy tank-tops, and short running shorts with pretty patterns—wishing that there was no such thing as modesty and I could just fit in for once.

Just to fit in for once. That’s what I’m looking for.

And then I see a new article or Instagram post. It’s a larger lady, or a lady who’s just had a baby wearing short shorts or attired in a strappy bikini. She’s written about how she used to hate her body, and now she’s decided to ignore all the haters and wear whatever she feels comfortable in anyway.

“Bravo!” yells the world, “you’re so brave!”

My heart sinks. Brave.

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If you are anything like me, you’ve never been the world’s kind of brave. You’ve cast longing eyes on a cute skirt that sits far too high above the knee. You’ve walked awkwardly across the sands of the beach wearing more cloth than all the girl’s at the beach put together. You’ve had to explain to someone just why you dress like you do.

Today, I want to lift you up and say, “We are the brave ones.”

Contrary to what the world may have you believe, taking off your clothes doesn’t make you brave. It’s just about the opposite. The world applauds those who take off their clothes. It takes no bravery to do something which you know you will gain a lot of support for.

But to put on clothes when most people are taking them off? Oh, that takes bravery.

I know, because I’ve fallen to the cowardice too many times. Sometimes my courage has faltered. I’ve worn the figure-hugging gym pants. I’ve taken off clothes because I felt I was wearing too much to be accepted. I want to be looked at—to have praise. But I would never, ever say that those moments were my brave ones. They were the ones in which my confidence and courage faltered.

For a woman to show up wearing what no one else is wearing—to wear what no one else would wear—to be different (and not in a cute, indie way)—now that takes a confidence in herself that rises above her pride in her outer appearance. That kind of action takes a deep-set confidence and faith in one’s walk—one that falters for no one’s disapproval.

That is true bravery.

The bravery and confidence to be different in every way that we need to be is the kind of bravery that’s called for as women of God. I am not called to fit in. I am called to be different. Called out of world to be so different from it that I shine forth as a light through its darkness.

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:15).

We are called out to be something. Chosen. Royal. Holy. Possessed by God. All of those things denote some kind of setting apart from other things. If we are just like everyone else, how are we sanctified? My dress is just a small part of me—but it’s a small part that God requires, and a small part that makes a big impact on those around me.

If you don’t think it makes such a big impact, then why do worry about it? Why do we even care what we wear? It is because it does make such a profound impact that this very action will make people stop and question us. People will think us strange because we no longer talk, dress, or behave in the way they do. God has told us to expect this.

“Arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, […] so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the [world] want to do, […] with respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they [mock] you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead” (1 Peter 4:1-5).

If it is expected that people will sometimes think you strange for not joining in—how are you being “strange?” When was the last time you showed yourself to be different from the unbelieving world around you?

When was the last time you were truly brave?

We—who take stands for our faith and do not falter.

We—strong, capable, confident, Christian women.

We—who out of our strength choose to submit to a higher standard.

We, my sisters, are the brave ones.

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Related Articles:

I Am an Average-Sized Woman and I Don’t Have to Wear a Bikini to Prove Anything

Jayla Sparks: Encouraging Young Women to Love God and Live for Him {Marvelously Modest}

Keep Your Shirt on: Living Without Regret

 

How to Let Go of Failure and Move on

Sometimes it’s crippling. The feeling that I’ve hurt someone I love. The knowledge that I’ve disobeyed God’s commands, and trampled upon Christ’s precious gift of grace.

I feel like I can’t possibly ask forgiveness from God. Surely He can’t possibly forgive me, after I’ve lost my temper at my husband for the tenth time this week.

Then I find myself unable to move on, crippled by my fear of failing yet again, and having to humble myself at His throne one more time. Surely He, in all His glory and majesty, cannot accept me…

I know I am not alone in this feeling. Many of us struggle with guilt. At times, it becomes hard to accept the fact that God has extended His forgiveness – especially when we have repeated a mistake – and we begin to feel that failure is constant and inevitable.

When I need reminding of the grace bestowed upon me and the attitude I should have towards it – I think of Paul.

Paul was a man who had a lot to regret.

  1. Before he came to Christ he was one that persecuted the church with a frightening zeal.
  2. He consented to the death of the first Christian martyr (Acts 7:57-8:1).
  3. In rage against this group of people, he went on to enter every house in Jerusalem, dragging men and women to prison (8:3).
  4. Not content with stopping there, he went obtained permission to go on to Damascus and bring any Christians there bound to Jerusalem (9:2).

It was at this point, while he was “yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord” (9:1), that he was met by the Lord as he journeyed on the road to Damascus. A bright light surrounded him and he fell to the ground. He heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? […] I am Jesus whom you are persecuting” (9:3-6).

Can you even imagine?

Can you imagine how Paul would have felt, having been one who had been trying to follow the Lord all his life? Paul, who was one who worked hard to keep himself blameless:

“circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee […] touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless” (Philippians 3:5, 6).

Yet here he was, listening to the Lord tell him that he was persecuting him! What an impact this would have had on the religiously zealous Saul.

It is does us well to remember that when we sin we are not only hurting ourselves and those around us – but we also cause God pain. Upon remembering this, we should have the attitude of Paul, and go to the Lord in humility – ready to change our ways. Paul, trembling and astonished, asked of the Lord, “Lord, what would you have me to do?” (Acts 9:6).

But what then? Paul had been a zealous persecutor of the church (Philippians 3:6). How would it be possible for him to ever forgive himself and forget? How could such a one move on? How can we forgive ourselves of our past foolishness and attain a greater relationship with God?

Happily, Paul penned the answer for us:

“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus… let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Philippians 3:13, 14; Hebrews 12:1 ESV)

Paul did not let his past failures define him – the same failures which were likely some of the some of the weights that he had to lay aside (Hebrews 12:1).

He did not look back. He did not wallow in self-loathing.

Just like Paul, we must learn from our mistakes, but not dwell on them. Dwelling on the past slows down growth. I believe Anne of Green Gables put it very nicely in expressing her joy that, “Tomorrow is a new day, with no mistakes in it yet!”

While we have made mistakes (and we cannot change that) we do not have to make those same mistakes again. What a comfort! And if we do happen to make the same mistakes, God promises to forgive us if we are truly repentant (1 John 1:9-11). He is gracious, and He is merciful. He is full of mercy, and so ready to forgive us.

The question is, do you believe that He will forgive you? And can you forgive yourself?

If God forgave Paul, and Paul moved on – surely we can do the same. And we must do the same – because it is only through forgiving yourself and moving on can you truly start to make positive changes in your life.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

With that knowledge, go boldly. A gracious God is waiting to give you grace. Complete, full, cleansing, grace. He’s always ready with open arms for us, as the prodigal child.

 “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

So how can you move on in your life?

  • Acknowledge your faults, and confess them. As with any pursuit, this is the first step on the road to positive change. Come to terms with the fact you have made a mistake and seek to rectify that in every way possible, starting with your relationship with God.
  • Know you have been forgiven and are covered by grace, washed in His blood. If we don’t feel we have been forgiven we can end up feeling like we can never do right – and we will often fulfil our own prophecy in that regard. Trust in His promises.
  • Focus on the positive changes you are making – no matter how small. Find out what causes you to fail, and work on avoiding those things that will cause you to make the same mistake again. If a certain place tempts you, don’t go there. If a certain friend is a bad influence on you, cut ties. Nothing on earth is worth as much as your soul. Lay aside every weight (Hebrews 12:1-2).
  • Focus on God. When you make a mistake, go boldly towards Him too seek grace- and continue the walk in His love to Heaven, with bold confidence.

The path isn’t always easy, and the path we take towards Heaven isn’t always in a straight line – we may make the same mistakes again. But the difference with us, as God’s children is that we have an avenue of forgiveness always waiting for us. With persistence and consistency we will get there. Trust in Him, and let Him guide you through His word each step of the way.

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(Linked to Make a Difference Mondays; Modest Mondays)

The Day I Remembered to Be Still

We were laying and chatting casually on the bed, when my husband suddenly got up.

“I’m going to have a shower.”

“Ok! Well, if you’re going to have a shower, then could you please bring me my iPad? The baby will probably feed for another 20 minutes.”

My husband rolled his eyes and laughed, “…Because God forbid that you should be without entertainment for 20 minutes!” He playfully flung the iPad in my direction.

What was meant as a casual joke came at me like one big sucker punch, leaving me dazed – and though he really wasn’t looking for one, I found myself wanting but unable to come back with any kind of acceptable retort.

Did I really need to be entertained all the time?

My iPad has certainly gotten me through many nighttime breastfeeds and served a certain purpose – but upon reflection I realised that I had let it get to a point where it was no longer serving me. I was serving it.

My life has certainly been a testament to the dangers that seeking to much entertainment can bind upon a person. I spent basically my whole teen life being a bludger by day and an internet gamer by night. I have often struggle with maintaining the balance between the internet being a help or a hindrance. In one of my previous posts, An Almost Perfect Picture: Social Media and Self Control, I talked about how the internet had at that point become overwhelming, and the steps that we took to prevent that. For that time, those measures served their purpose and we kept internet usage under control, and I felt like I had maintained that. I am now able to put down the internet whenever is needed and get stuff done or simply be with others. Yet however in control I think myself to be, I still found myself at 14 weeks postpartum drowning in a sea of glowing screens and floating in the constant hum of indie music and inspirational podcasts.

But I’m not neglecting anyone, so all that is ok, right? If my baby is down and I have an opportunity to be productive I will use that time wisely. If my baby wants to play, or I’m with company I don’t force anyone to compete for my attention (nothing bothers me more than someone messaging other people while on a coffee date!). It’s only while my baby is settled and feeding at the breast, I am doing the dishes, or I am folding the washing that I will read, watch, or listen to things. Sometimes those things are educational and inspiring, like TEDtalks, sometimes they are thought-provoking biblical sermons or podcasts, and sometimes they are simply something to entertain me; but all of them have one thing in common: They all distract me from myself.

Is this a problem? I have found it to be so – for while I was so eager to be engaged every moment of every day in some way I was missing out on something very valuable to my walk in this world.

I had forgotten to listen to God’s desire for me and my time. I forgotten what He said.

“Be still, and know that I am God.”

– Psalm 46:10

When from that point I decided to every-so-often wash the dishes in silence and breastfeed without distraction – I noticed things flooding into my mind: inspiration, motivation, self reflection, regret, prayer, praise, thankfulness, sorrow, a drive for self improvement, an itch for creativity, and a myriad of other ideas and emotions.They had been struggling for attention against all the competing noise I had surrounded myself with.

While seeking to be constantly engaged I had neglected to simply “be still and know.” I had forgotten the beauty of silence, and it’s necessity.

I don’t really love silence. Growing up in a large family I rarely had it – there was always the constant hum (or more like bustle and bumble) of activity surrounding me. I am the kind of person who is more productive sitting in a cafe than in a quiet room.

Yet, despite my preferences, that day I rediscovered the fact that I simply need time without distractions to help me process information, reflect, listen to the sound of my thoughts, generate ideas, foster creativity, and rekindle my relationship with God.

There were things I hadn’t wanted to think about that I confronted and conquered. I believe that is what having time to be with your thoughts will do for you – if you let your mind be free from distraction and you are meditating on the right things.

It came slowly, and it came painfully – but it came. A renewed love for time with just myself – and God.

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I honestly think that the skill of disconnecting is one that is dying fast in this generation. Even when we are in God’s Word often our study tool of choice is an electronic device and we are still connected.

It is so hard to be still in this age.

You see, we live in an age where we are presented with such a glut of information that often we are tempted to drown ourselves in a deluge of articles, podcasts, and motivational YouTube videos. And while this is all well and good, if we never take the time to process the information we have taken in and allow it to settle in our minds and change our lives – we risk never really thinking for ourselves, never really enjoying a moment, and never letting information change us for the better.

We risk never being connected to someone Higher than ourselves.

However we take the time, we all need to take time to be present. We all need to take time to be still and know.

Even Jesus saw this need to be rid of the outside noises. He was extremely busy with His ministry – and there was always more good to be done – yet He still took the time to reconnect with God.

“And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone” (Matthew 14:23).

Did you catch that? He dismissed the crowds. Can you imagine any preacher today dismissing a crowd of people that were so eager to hear him for longer? Some might even say that to do so would be wrong. Yet here is Jesus, One Who has the very wisdom of God, understanding the importance of disconnecting from everything to reconnect to God. Now that’s a powerful example. Even when there were important things to do – Jesus saw this time alone as being more important.

He took the time to be still and grow closer to God.

I challenge you – as I challenge myself – to take more of that time. If Jesus took the time to be still, I know that that needs to be a priority in my life. He is, after all, my perfect example of living.

Whatever that time looks like for you, it needs to be taken.

The time to be still. Disconnect. Reflect.

Maybe that time looks different for you than it does for me. For me it’s usually going for my walk, distraction free. In being outside and seeing God’s creation I feel closer to Him – and prayer and reflection come easily – that’s why I take a walk at least 5 times a week. I also enjoy sitting at a cafe with a notebook and pen – with all my thoughts (ok, and maybe my baby) my only company.

Take the time to truly connect with God, and know how your life reflects in the mirror of His Word.

Don’t let distractions steal true joy from your life.

Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance – then think of and connect to the One Who sits above them.

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“I hope you never lose your sense of wonder […]
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance
Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along
Tell me who wants to look back on their years
and wonder where those years have gone.”

– Ronan Keating

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Question: What things in life help you to be still and know?

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Chocolate Tahini Fat Bombs {Sugar Free}

I know, I know. I’ve been very quiet lately in the blog-o-sphere. I could say that my 3-month-old baby was a good excuse – except my blogger friend Phylicia, who just happened to have a baby at the same time as me, manages to turn out 3 posts a week or more.

Let’s just say she manages that by magic and call my 3-month-old baby a good excuse.

So this month I’ve decided to do this sugar-free thing. Yeah, I might be a little crazy. I would think it was ridiculous myself, except for the last two weeks I’ve been eating refined-sugar-free and managed to drop 3 kilos of my stubborn baby weight.

Suddenly it doesn’t seem so crazy.

It’s also not crazy because I’m seriously addicted to the stuff. Whether it’s bananas or milk chocolate – if I don’t have my sugar hit by noon I feel sick as a cow. And honestly I don’t think any woman should be that addicted to anything.

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything” (1 Corinthians 6:14).

I won’t be dominated by anything – not even sugar.

Just… don’t touch my coffee.

Umm. Let’s not go there.

*ahem*

Let’s get onto the subject of chocolate.

Now, there’s a pleasant thing to talk about – except for if you are eating sugar free. Then it’s not so great. I love eating dark chocolate (which is GREAT for you, by the way!) but I’ve committed to eating NO sugar for the next four weeks.

And 100% dark chocolate is awful. I tried to eat it and it quite literally almost made me cry. And gag. It spread all over my mouth and I didn’t want to swallow it.

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Don’t do it. 

So, chocolate junkie that I am — and having gotten the lovely-once-a-month’s on the very first day of the dreadful challenge — I needed to have a warm chocolate cuddle.

So I decided to make my very own Tahini Fat Chocolate to tie me through. Yup, fat chocolate. Not chocolate that makes you fat – but chocolate made out of fat. Full of fatty goodness and healthfulness.

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This chocolate is keto-friendly, almost paleo-friendly (if you sub protein for cocoa and add a spoon of honey or maple syrup), low carb, sugar free, and I believe THM friendly (an “S”). You could even make it dairy free by subbing the butter for coconut oil.

And yeah, they were super good.

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So really, you have no reason not to make this.

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Chocolate Tahini Fat Bombs {Sugar Free}

Method

In a food processor, mix until fully blended:
1 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup tahini
1/2 cup butter, cut into cubes (not melted)

Add in the following ingredients and blend till smooth:
1 cup unsweetened cocoa
3 scoops (30g each) chocolate protein powder (I use MRM natural, dutch chocolate)
1 tbsp cinnamon
Contents of one vanilla bean pod

Pour onto a tray lined with baking paper greased with coconut oil.

Sprint over sesame seeds and place in freezer for 3 hours.

Snap the chocolate apart and keep in an airtight container in the freezer.

These melt pretty quickly – so make sure you chomp it up once you take one out! xx

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What things have helped you stick to sugar free eating?

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Dark Chocolate, Toasted Coconut, and Sea Salt Brookies {GF, DF, Paleo}

These delicious bites are the best of cookies and brownies rolled into one – Decadent, chocolatey, little parcels filled with only whole food goodness.

The best thing about them? As great as they taste, they take less than 30 minutes to make from start to finish – so they are ready to quench your cravings within the hour!cc

If you are in the habit of whole food baking, you also probably have all (or at least most of) the ingredients on hand in your pantry right now.

Dark Chocolate, Toasted Coconut, and Sea Salt Brookies

Ingredients

1/2 cup cocoa/cacao

3/4 cup nut butter (almond, peanut, or cashew – I used one with no salt added)

3/4 cup honey

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

1 egg

coconut oil

sea salt

coconut flakes

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Mix all the ingredients together except chocolate chunks, sea salt, and coconut flakes.
  3. Gently mix in chocolate chunks.
  4. Spoon mixture onto a baking tray lined with baking paper and greased with coconut oil.
  5. Sprinkle over sea salt and coconut flakes.
  6. Bake for 12-18 minutes, or until cooked through (will still be very soft, but not runny).
  7. Let cool for 5 minutes.

 

Nourishing mind, body, soul and family.

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