The Dark Secrets Hidden in your Tea: A Twinings Investigation

Although I’m usually a coffee person, I have recently increased my tea intake and trying new blends. As with most thing, this led me on an ethical journey to discover the story behind the brands I’m drinking. This is what I found out about one popular company Twinings & Co.

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The good ol’ Twinings & Co company sells Twinings of London, a large range of delicious teas for around $2.70 AUS in a pack of 10. Every now and then they have a special of $0.99 AUS and we all rejoice… but my friends there is a reason why you can buy tea for this price. The reports from 2015 and 2016 are not good:

  • 2015, BBC investigation found workers were paid so little they lived in horrible conditions, suffering from malnutrition and illness. Workers were also exposed to chemicals with no health and safety standards. On some estates, it was found that child labour was being used.
  • 2015, Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare scored Twinings a tier 6 on their farm animal welfare policies and practices. Tier 6 is the worst score a company can receive.
  • 2016, Newsweek Green Ranking of 34.2 out of 100 when measured against 8 indicators: energy, greenhouse gas, water, waste, fines and penalties, relating executive pay to sustainability targets, board oversight of environmental issues and external audits.
  • 2016, Rank a Brand (for use of cotton) scored Twinings 2 out of 19.5, making it one of the lowest performing companies assessed.
  • 2016, Oxfam’s Behind the Brands Scorecard ranked this company equal last on their agriculture sourcing policies with a score of 36%
  • 2016, given an ethical rating of F from Shop Ethical (the lowest possible score)

However, don’t throw out your tea bags yet, there are some great alternatives out there. Yes, they are more expensive, but the thought that my tea is keeping someone else’s child in forced labour horrifies me. I will not support modern-day slavery once I’m aware of what’s happening.

Let me offer three alternatives:

Peppermint Tea: English Tea Shop

  • 100% Fair-trade certified – sometimes Brands use a percentage of fair-trade products so they can put the logo on their packaging, this one is 100% fair-trade
  • NON GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) project verified nongmoproject.org
  • Certified Organic – All agricultural ingredients are organically grown and processed.

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Camomile and mint: Planet Organic

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Camomile and Apple alternative: Pukka Planet

  • 100% Fair-trade certified
  • Certified Organic – All agricultural ingredients are organically grown and processed.
  • Environmentally friendly packaging including envelopes.

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I hope this blog has opened your eyes a little to how YOU can fight against modern slavery and help change the environment. Another popular brand to stay well away from is Tetley as it also ranks an ‘F’ on the Shop Ethical website. Bushells, Liptons and T2 all receive a ‘C ‘rating, so they pass, but it’s up to you to decide what you believe is acceptable.

I personally don’t want to be so removed from the production of the what I eat and drink (and wear) that I embrace a consumerist attitude towards my planet’s resources that keeps other in bondage and negatively impacts on future generations. The good news is that with tea, there are a number of positive brands including: Lotus Peak, Nature’s Cuppa, Madura, Dilmah and Nerada. So, the power is in your wallet and in your cup.
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Yes, the issue of ethical consumption can be a bit of a rabbit warren, but if you are interested in it, start somewhere. Why not start with your tea and help someone feed their family?

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Love Jess xxoo

PS – I wrote this while drinking my English Tea Shop peppermint tea and it was delicious!

References:

The Bitter Story behind the UK’s national Drink

The Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare – 2015 Report

Newsweek Green Ratings – 2016

Rank a Brand – Top brands failing on Cotton Sustainability

Oxfam, Behind the Brands April 2016 Company Scorecard

Into the pit and back again – A story about depression

I sat on the floor in the kitchen in front of a clean dishwasher that needed to be emptied. After angrily telling Tim to “leave me alone”, tears ran down my face and all I wanted to do was pick up all those clean dishes and smash them on the floor. I felt like I had fallen into a dark pit, alone with no way to get out. I rang my sister. When she picked up I sobbed and sobbed into the phone and told her what was going on in my mind.

Before (when I was pregnant)

Amy was my miracle, my long-awaited baby! God was on this and He was with us, it was going to be amazing! I prayed that He would prepare my heart and that I would be a perfect example of His love to my kids. That I would represent Him well and be the physical manifestation of His heart towards my kids. I ‘rejected in Jesus name’ any of the negative stories that I heard about parenthood, because I was doing this with Jesus. Holy Spirit and I…. man we were tight. I knew how to hear His voice so well and I certainly had His joy living inside of me. I felt I had been through enough personal ‘fires’ to be prepared. I had been through a lot, including seasons of loneliness, anxiety (with heart palpitations) and the pain of a miscarriage; I had the tools to get through the tough stuff.

Worship has such a central part of my journey when we were trying to fall pregnant. I would worship God when I was in pain and instantly be lifted up and filled with joy and freedom. I (naively) dreamt that Amy and I would worship for hours and hours together. That the atmosphere in our house would be as it always was, a place of peace and rest, where the presence of God would be so tangible.

Additionally, I was so conscious of the negative impact that parents can have on their kids. Little people’s personalities are developed by the time they are four, so what I did in those early years really mattered. I didn’t want my kids to have to ‘forgive my mother for (insert reason here)’ in a therapy or sozo session years later.

During the first year

During Amy’s first year of life she cried – A. LOT. – and so did I. I clearly remember one Sunday afternoon she cried for 5 hours straight. I did everything and I really do mean everything: Feeding, burping, cuddling, pumping her little legs, leaving her to cry it out (it got worse and worse), every holding position I knew, bathing her, giving her Panadol, walking up and down the house, changing the nappy, praying in tongues, praying with words, singing worship etc. Nothing helped and some of it made it even worse. I had nothing left to give… absolutely nothing. I put her back into her cot, shut all the doors and with tears slowing rolling down my face, I sent out an SMS to a few people and asked them to pray. Amy fell asleep 20 minutes later and I sobbed on the bed. People may say “Amen, yeah she did, those prayers worked.” All I felt was my failure. I had tried everything and I was carrying the Holy Spirit with me. His love never failed, but apparently mine did.

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Church life, which has one been a place of pure joy and freedom, become an isolating experience. Tim was on staff, so we rarely got to be with him during a service and he was unable to help me. I would drive to church and spend most the time in the nursing mothers room or unsupervised crèche. After the service one of my beautiful friends would usually seek me out for a quick hello, but by then Amy was in the ‘feral zone’ so I would dash off not having heard the message, been able to engage in worship or connect with my church community. I would then drive the 30 minutes home with a tired child screaming at the top of her lungs. We would arrive back home both in a mess of tears and totally exhausted.

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I started to become angry and I wasn’t a naturally angry person. I thought things and said things in my head that I never thought would enter my life. I would hear people say how well I was doing or looking etc. and all I could think was “You don’t know the half of it.” I was also constantly told (by people who no longer had young kids) to “Treasure every moment, because it goes so fast.” So, I started stressing about ‘treasuring every moment’ and tried to put my energy into that. Turns out that ‘treasuring EVERY moment’ is hard to do when your little one cries a lot and you are running on empty.

Looking back, I clearly didn’t ask for help as much as I should have, mostly because I believed the lie that I shouldn’t. I prayed for this, I asked for this, this was my new ministry and my responsibility. I also didn’t think people would understand why I was in so much pain and I didn’t know how to articulate what was I was going through. I had also heard it said (unfortunately many times) that when Christians ‘burn out’ it’s because they aren’t getting their strength from God; that it is somehow a reflection of their relationship with Him. They are a failure. The thing was, I was actually inviting Holy Spirit into everyday, I would say it when I woke up and asked Him to help me constantly. I was trying to get my strength from Him, but I wasn’t able to spend time with Him like I used to. Plus, any time I planned a worship session at home, Amy would go ballistic and cry the place down. I was trying so hard to not become self-centered and continued to pour into other people’s lives like I used to. I spent a lot of time praying for and ‘counselling’ other people through their own pains. I wasn’t working after all so ‘I had the time’. I was giving out in excess, while feeling as though I was letting everyone down.

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Just to add to the growing burdens that I was carrying, I knew there were many other people in the world who had it worse than me, which of course made me feel worse about feeling worse. I ‘should be able to do this’ and I ‘really didn’t have anything to complain about’. It was a downward spiral. I didn’t understand that I was burning through my serotonin levels faster than a mentally healthy person. All I knew was that I was somehow ‘failing’. Failing Amy, failing God, failing at this thing called Motherhood. What made it harder was the fact that I had prayed and dreamed about this season for over 3 years. Amy was a miracle, she was a precious gift, but all I wanted to do was be alone so I could cry without her seeing.

I asked God to help me. I asked Him to remove my heaviness, my sadness and my anger and yet… it remained. I meditated on scriptures, stuck them all around the house and yet it remained. I made declarations and proclamations and yet it remained.

The phone call

So, just before Amy’s 1st birthday, I sat on the kitchen floor talking to the safest person I knew – my sister. She listened and loved me so much. Looking back, she represented Jesus to me in that moment; a perfect example of God.

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She met me where I was at and listened to the state of my heart. She loved me completely. She told me to go onto the BeyondBlue website and take their online questionnaire. We chatted for a bit and then she said she’d check back in with me every day for the next few days.

I did the questionnaire and it told me to see my GP ASAP because I was in the danger zone. Two days later, after being told I had post-natal depression, I started my healing process with the help of medication. They say it takes about 2-3 weeks before antidepressants work, but I honestly noticed a difference straight away. For the first time in about a year, I could think clearly.

And so my next journey began. Three years on I have come a long way in some areas, while others require a bit more attention. Honestly, sometimes I don’t feel completely victorious in these things but I chose to believe that I am a great Mother. With the help of Holy Spirit and others around me, I am gradually taking back the ground and replacing the lies and unrealistic expectations with truth and rest. I look back and I’m grateful for how far I’ve come.

After

My family and I were recently talking about whether or not God heals people with serious mental health disorders. The Flatt clan likes to talk about the deeper issues of life, like really talk them out and challenge each other… I seriously love it. This is where I land in any area of healing… Jesus is the standard. What I mean by that is when you look at the life of Jesus he healed EVERYONE that came to him. EVERYONE! So, regardless of my experience, it’s God’s heart and intention that everyone is healed and whole. If I pray for someone and they aren’t healed, I believe God still wants them to be healed. Really Jess? Seriously, read the Gospels, there is not one example where Jesus wasn’t willing or where he said ‘No, healing it not for you. I’m not doing it. It’s not my will for you to be healed.” So where does this leave us?

This leads me once again to the Goodness of God. He is so wonderful, so loving and so aware of our individual journeys that He meets us where we are. I prayed that God would remove my depression, but for whatever reason it didn’t lift. And so, He made a way for me. Does God want to heal depression? Absolutely. Did He miraculously heal mine? No. Wait a minute, does that mean He doesn’t heal depression? No. For me, my experience does not alter the person of God or His good intentions for His children. Jesus is my standard. Where there is a gap, He meets me where I am and continues to help me along my journey to healing.

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If my leg was broken and after being prayed for it was still broken, I wouldn’t pretend it was healed just to prove my faith was strong enough. I would go to a doctor and get that leg fixed. Why struggle through the pain and possibly cause more damage and increase the healing time? I view mental health issues/illnesses in the same light. I will pray and believe for healing in the mental health zone, but if it’s not healed, I’m not going to pretend it is. I will take myself to a doctor and recommend others do the same. There is no point carrying guilt and shame, because you haven’t been miraculously healed. Would you judge someone else for taking a clearly broken leg to a doctor? I seriously hope not 🙂

My own journey

I am not ashamed to share this with you, but I do feel slightly vulnerable. To share my own journey and own perspective is a scary thing to do at times, but we each have our own story and there is power when we share them with each other. I can learn something from you and maybe you can learn something from me.

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I hope you are encouraged by my journey out of the pit, because if you’ve never been there, believe me, it really does feel like a pit. If you are in that pit yourself, you are not alone. Many more people have been there than you realise, in fact 1 in 5 Australian adults will be diagnosed with a mental illness this year. There is hope for us, for you and for me. God has made a way.

Love Jess xxoo

20 million dreams

What would you do if you won 20 million dollars? Oddly, it was this question that started us on our journey to resign from our jobs and head overseas. It’s funny what God can use to prompt you.

The question of $20M came up again in our household recently. The idea of winning that much money actually makes me sick. Who on earth would need that excessive amount when there are children dying in war, families being ripped apart by false promises of a better life and drought crippling whole nations?

However, if for some reason I did win $20 million, I would call together a group of like-minded individuals and dream away the week with ideas about how to invest into people. We would turn those dreams into reality, not by rushing into things, but wisely researching and establishing meaningful and sustainable businesses and programs. I would call Sarah Starrenburg, Adam James, all of our siblings and their wives/partners, Will and Laura (by Skype of course), Ben and Amy, Rian and Sally, The Hannaway Clan, Mike and Karen (more Skype time) and… ok, ok, that’s already a lot of people!

I would:

  • Open a store in inner Brisbane stocking only ethical, eco-friendly and sustainable fashion and beauty products
  • Build a house for my family with spare rooms and living areas to provide a sanctuary for tired families, missionaries or anyone needing a Selah (with an extra car for them to use)
  • Do something in Africa around eye health
  • Establish ‘something’ with (not for) the homeless in our city
  • Do something to empower our beautiful Indigenous people
  • Create and empower already existing support-networks for refugees
  • Look at some of the worst areas for human trafficking and empower the locals to stop the cycle
  • Fund couples looking to adopt
  • Support foster children and families in some way
  • Bless local school Chaplains and youth workers
  • Get along side and support the many wonderful and best-practice not-for-profit organisations that are already up and running
  • Take my whole family over to Rio for the Olympics and work with a group like Exodus Cry or Save the Children
  • Fund all sorts of small business ideas and local enterprises

And that’s just me, in the last five minutes… I might need more than $20M 😉

The question of $20 million might sound fun and silly, but for the Greenwoods it seems to push us into action. It reveals what we are passionate about and what God is stirring. It is a little scary really because last time we lightheartedly pondered this question, God followed it up with a “Is money really all that’s stopping you?”

“Oh dear” I hear myself think. You may recall an earlier post about rest; the main idea was that we were in a season of rest until we could dream again. Oh dear… haha.

I personally love the season Tim and I are in. We have the space to process, hear, learn, grow and it’s thrilling and stretching all at the same time. Almost every day we are sharing ideas and discussing the deeper issues of life, love and identity. Amidst the sleepless nights, grumpy Mummy moments, baby talk, Lego building and housework, God is continuing to move. We feel a stirring again. However, I have to warn you, it’s not the typical type of ‘stirring’ we expect from Christians. Although we can have big and grand dreams, those are not the end game. For us, success is not measured by what other people see us doing. It’s the little choices, conversations and relationships that we invest into every day that matter. Our 20 million dollar dreams start with our every-day, ordinary lives and how we choose to live them.

Love Jess xxoo

What’s on our radar in human trafficking

We just thought we’d share a few things that are on our radar (click on the links). Most are related to human trafficking or slavery and they are in no particular order.

10,000 children refugees have gone missing

Exploitation in electronics

(Get the full report here)

Recent change of focus for Destiny Rescue

We were so encouraged to see the latest reports from DR in late 2015. Rescuing girls is one thing, but having a best practice approach to rehabilitation and reintegration is another. Based on the numbers of rescues they were reporting in the beginning of 2015 we were concerned about how they were keeping up with the massive after-care process. We love that these guys are willing to go back to the drawing board and make sure they are complying with Governmental standards and helping these precious souls have long-term healing and change.

Shopping ethically

You will be horrified by some of the latest news stories you’ll read:

Most Aussies don’t know that in December Woolworths, Coles and Aldi were all buying prawns and seafood from a Thai company involved in the forced labour of men, women and children. If we knew our prawns caused someone else to be trapped in hell I’m sure we would all have a re-think about where we bought them.

This job in Margate with Save the Children

Maybe it will suit someone else 🙂 If you don’t know who Save the Children are check them out here.

Zika virus and travelling to Brazil

Obviously most things concerning Brazil are close to our hearts and this one is no exception. Another level of concern is that Tim and my Brother will be heading over to Rio in August this year to once again serve and observe all that God is doing in this country. We watch the spread and handling of this virus with deep concern and pray for the beautiful babies and families that are affected.

What is causing the microcephaly outbreak?

Olympics and Zika

Zika related abortion debate

That’s all for now…stay educated. Don’t shut yours eyes because it’s painful, but keep it balanced or we’ll all end up depressed.

Love Jess xxoo

Unforced Rhythms

Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message Version)

28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

I recently left Tim at home with the girls so I could attended a local church by myself, but what unfolded was not the spiritual connection I was hoping for. The service was lovely, the atmosphere friendly and the people had beautiful intentions and yet… as the Pastor’s message unfolded I felt like I was witnessing two separate and competing schools of thought. Needless to say I was perplexed by the contradictions I heard during the hour and a half I was there.

The first main train of thought was that all you had to do to be a follower of Jesus was to come to Him. Nothing else. There is nothing else you need to do. The second was that to be a ‘true’ Christian you must attend a local Church. Without local Church fellowship Jesus died for nothing. What the? Do we have to come to church to be classified as a ‘true’ Christian? Does Christian fellowship and spiritual growth only occur within the context of organised religion? When you quote “I will build My Church”, I’m pretty sure God had more in mind than Western Church structures and Sunday meetings.

I desperately wanted to sit with this Pastor and ask questions about what He was saying, but unfortunately large gatherings don’t lend themselves to open discussions. Perhaps he was having an off day and wasn’t articulating what he wanted to say very well? Perhaps I was actually ‘hearing’ something different to what he was saying (I know this happens to preachers a lot)?

In the past I might have agreed with most of the things this passionate preacher was saying, but those days are looooooooong gone. I am living in the ‘unforced’ zone these days, refusing to march to someone else’s expectations (or my perceived expectations) of what ‘being connected’ means. I am continuing to learn the unforced rhythms of grace within a transparent and loving community… and sometimes we even go to Church 😉

I LOVE doing life with my family and close friends. Many of them challenge and encourage me to think outside the box. They aren’t afraid to highlight lies I’m believing and through open and honest chats we discover more about our King called Jesus. It is not heavy or ill-fitting. Tim and I will chat for hours and hours about the character of God – podcasts or sermons we have listened to, books we’ve read, scriptures we have encountered and other conversations we’ve had. It is exciting and we treasure it. It is a delightful season of growth and even though it is stretching and challenging, it is also free and light because it is unforced. It is like listening to a heart beat. It is like a bird flying effortlessly in the sky. It is the rhythm of grace.

Love Jess xxoo

Inspiration for January

A few pieces from around the place that I’m ‘collecting’

“If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it.
If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.
If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.”
– Nora Roberts

This blog post about a different approach to ‘missions’. Some people are on non-traditional missions and I love it.

These beautiful necklaces from Kita Designs.

This stunning dress from Sustainable Fashion

Puzzles… how great are they!

Jack the Cockatiel on Instagram

Love Jess xxoo

A little light

I haven’t posted in a while – I have written, but not posted. For some reason I feel as though this one might make it, but we will see.

An older friend recently commented that she thought the world was going down the toilet. I understand given recent global events, but if you look back through history, tragedy, war, slavery and the love of money and self are nothing new.

Knowing this does not make me indifferent by any count. I read stories about sex trafficking, see pictures of war and starvation on the TV, witness friends lives blindsided by the death of a family member, the ache of infertility, depression, sickness and so on. It can be crippling and leave your heart aching.

“Well Jess, this is all rather depressing”, I hear you thinking. The realities of life can be at times, but there is good news as well. I also read stories of great courage, see pictures of aid organisations helping others on the TV and I witness friends pick up the pieces of their lives and move slowly towards healing. It is encouraging and can leave your heart full of hope.

The sweetest thing I’ve ever heard
Is I don’t have to have the answers
Just a little light to call my own
– Sleeping at last

And here is my little light, it is the best news… it is beyond good, I can hardly describe it:

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Obviously I don’t have the answers and I don’t pretend to, but this prophecy by Zachariah (about Jesus) recorded in Luke 1, fills my heart with joy. According to this ancient text Jesus has already visited us and He is available to guide us to the path of peace amongst unrest. So, I ask Him today to show me how to bring peace and find peace in my day and in the world I live in.

If you need Morning Light from Heaven (as I daily do), He is here. He is with you. He is for you. He will guide you.

I picture it a little like this:

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Love Jess

PS – Life is a rather grand adventure isn’t it? There is so much to learn about and so many different ways to ‘grow’ as a person. You may not hear from me as much as you used to because there are things that I am learning that are only meant for me. We shall see what happens as the adventure continues to unfold.

 

 

Living Simply without the shops – Part 2

At the end of August I wrote a blog about trying not to spend unnecessary money in the month of September (read it here). Having just realised that it’s now October, I thought I’d give you an update on the month that was.

It was a rather interesting 30 days for me and I’ll try to be as transparent as possible. During the month of September I wanted to incorporate three things into my every-day-life. These three words were my mantra for September:

Simplify. Enrich. Focus

It was important to me was that it wasn’t a pass/fail ‘project’, because that would totally undermine the point and only become a burden. My approach to September was not to just have nice ideas, but to have practical ways to incorporate these ideals into my life-style. I wrote down nine things to could do to simplify, enrich and focus my life during September and off I went. Some I did well in and others went by the way-side… I didn’t end up planting those herbs after all. Looking back, I think there were two things I really wanted to do: stop spending unnecessary money and create a culture of thankfulness. Realistically, this meant staying at home more and being mindful of my thoughts.

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Obviously, just because you can’t spend money doesn’t mean you can’t go out. You can go to the park, visit a friend, go on little adventures and a host of other things all of which are fun and interesting. Unfortunately, little Bella does not like going out. My little darling will scream the whole way of a 30 minute car-ride at times and a trip to the park can require more emotional energy from me than I used before having kids. There are times when Bell-Bell is awesome during an outing with not a tear in sight, but they aren’t that common. A trip in the car, no matter how short can easily be a joy killer. It is the age and stage – this too shall pass.
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(Cheeky monkey)

Two and a half weeks in, I was waking up every morning seriously depressed. After a few hours (and a double shot coffee) I would find myself again and the day would be pretty good. Bella was still doing two to three nighttime wake-ups, I was with the girls 24/7 without a break and we were all coming out of our third bout of illness. However, my morning depression was pretty bad, so having had horrible post-natal depression with Amy, I took myself off to see my GP. The diagnosis? Exhaustion… of course. So, I decided to ignore my Simplify and Focus mantras and took myself and the girls straight from the doctor’s office to get a coffee and some cake. It was time to relax and enrich my life a little. I believe Bella screamed the whole way home (as usual), but I had some real coffee and the memory of a nice ‘date’ still in my mind.

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From then onwards things got easier. Bella started sleeping more at night, we all became healthier, I upped my coffee intake and I knew what was going on with my emotions, which that helped at lot. On the whole I enjoyed the month of September and I know I will continue to do some of the nine things I wrote out. It’s odd that to living a simpler life in our culture is something you have to ‘fight’ for at times. You would think it would be easier, but it goes against cultural norms. Why be happy with what you have when you can have and/or could afford more?

With September at an end, I have $45.60 to donate to a worthy cause. I don’t know who I will donate to yet, but I know it will focus on children either in trafficking or community development.

And if you’re wondering… yes I did my share of baking and slice making this month 🙂

Love Jess xx00

PS – I read this awesome blog this morning and just had to share… Are you living Deliberately?

Living Simply without the shops

Sometimes it’s hard to keep little people entertained. I’ve found (and so have other mums) that if we do an activity in the morning my kids are less painful at the end of the day. The problem is, going to the shops can be an easy way to burn up time and create extra stimulation for their little brains. We don’t often buy things, but I have been thinking a lot about the lessons this is teaching my dear ones. Am I teaching them that shopping equals happiness? When I do buy little things (they don’t need), am I teaching them that to value the many toys they already own? So, we do stickers and colouring, water play and dolls-house, Lego and pretend to be horses (ugh, the horses), and… we bake.

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Amy’s at that wonderful age where she wants to help me.

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This morning I woke up with baking on the brain, but my rules were simple: If I don’t have it, we can’t make it. I didn’t want to spend any money and make a trip to the shops. If I needed a piping bag, well too bad. If I didn’t having baking powder, I’d have to find a substitute.

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Turning to the very yummy and creative Sweetest Menu, Amy picked out some cupcakes she wanted to make. I had to do some serious substitutions and managed to distract her with the idea of strawberry infused icing instead.

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My favour part of the whole exercise was packing up a few little cakes to take to our neighbours.

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As I struggle with the consumerism machine I’m continually fighting an internal battle. I want to buy my family treats and toys ‘just because’, but there are kids in the world who don’t have clean water. So here is a strategy I will put into place for the month of September:

  1. If we go to the shops and I’m tempted to buy that unnecessary gift for my immediate family, I will exercise more self-control and transfer the amount of said item into another account when I get home. At the end of the month, I will use that money to make a donation to an international relief agency.
  2. I will be more conscious of what I’m teaching my little ones. We can have fun in so many different ways and most of them don’t involve money. Although I rarely spend ‘just because’ money on myself, I need to make sure I’m not setting that example or expectation for my kids.

Love Jess xxoo

God, where were you?

In early 2010 I lay on the gurney alone in the halls of the hospital. I remember being left by myself as tears streamed down my face along with the crushing revelation that the baby we had hoped for was no more. They had not allowed Tim to come with me for the scan and I felt so sick that He didn’t know and I would have to tell him. I felt completely and utterly alone. 

Amy has had two seizures in two and a-half-weeks. It has happened to her before when we were overseas, so it wasn’t so shocking for us this time round, but it’s still not very nice. A virus enters her little system and her temperature can spike up to over 41C (106F) . If you’ve never seen someone have a seizure it is can be frightening and when it’s someone little it’s even worse to witness. We know in Amy’s situation that it is ok and it’s not uncommon for kids to have febrile convulsions.

The problem is, that as parents you can tend to worry more after the event has taken place. Visions of Amy’s body convulsing can haunt you when you least expect it. Unhealthy imaginings of when it will happen next and what will transpire do not help you sleep in the wee hours of the morning.

In recent years when Tim and I have faced difficult situations and not had peace, we will undoubtedly ask Holy Spirit to show us where He was when the event was taking place. For example, I asked Holy Spirit where He was when Amy was having her seizure. He showed me that as I had my hand on her forehead, He had His hand on my shoulder and at the same time, He was holding Amy.

*sigh*

Peace like a river. Fear, time to move along.

Years later, in a moment of beautiful Worship with Daddy God, Tim had a picture of me laying alone in hospital and he saw the word ‘abandonment’ written over my head. He felt God wanted to show me where He was when I was facing my darkest moment.

I want to encourage you, if you have been through a negative or traumatic life event, it’s important to ask Holy Spirit to show you where He was. If you see anything other than a loving, caring response, you need to go read about the life of Jesus. He was moved by compassion for people in all sorts of situations and He is a direct representation to us of what Father God is like. Asking God to answer this question can really start the healing process if you’re carrying trauma.

As soon as Tim explained what He saw, I knew what He was talking about. I knew that God was good, but somehow the feeling that I was alone had snuck in to my thought-life, so I asked Holy Spirit to show me where He was. And being so wonderful, He showed me. He was holding me so very close, arms wrapped around me, understanding all my pain and loving me so completely. The secret fears that I held started to fade and another level of healing started taking place.

Sometimes, it’s only when we ask this question do we realise He was there all along. Don’t wait years to ask it, don’t let the little moments go by without questioning those fears. Say it with me… God, where were you? Can you hear Him answer… I was right there.

His truth sets us free.

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Love Jess xxoo