the case for ‘pre-loved’

Anyone who knows me knows I love a bargain. I break all rules of conversational etiquette when someone compliments me on something I’m wearing by responding with an enthusiastic declaration of how little it cost, and from where. Charity shops, second-hand sales, eBay – I love ‘pre-loved’.

But, over the last couple of years, I’ve been challenged to make this a central part of my shopping philosophy. Let me explain: I’m not talking about casually wandering into charity shops, buying the odd thing or two which, quite honestly, we don’t need anyway. I’m talking about changing our lifestyle so that we don’t buy new unless we absolutely need to.

Mister needs a bed – we search the community furniture store. We need a camera – we browse eBay. The kids need next season’s clothes – I scour charity shops and second-hand sales.

Joel's bed - or, should I say, 'hotbed' of pre-loved goodies: bed, bedguard and duvet cover.
Mister’s bed – or, should I say, ‘hotbed’ of pre-loved goodies: bed, bedguard and duvet cover.

Unless we need to buy something new (e.g. for safety/hygiene reasons) OR we simply can’t find what we need second-hand, my preference is to buy pre-loved.

Why such a fuss about pre-loved?

* To slow the unnecessary production of new goods. The earth simply cannot sustain the incessant demand on its resources to create yet more ‘stuff’ which will only be disposed of a few months or years down the line. We need to be re-using and re-using as much as we possibly can!

* To reduce the profits of companies which exploit their workers. For example: clothing. I’ve explored various ethical clothing options over the last few years, and have come to the conclusion that the most affordable ethical option is to buy pre-loved clothes. I hate the irony that my children’s clothes may have been made by similar-aged children who don’t share their privileges – and I was appalled to discover, shortly after the Bangladesh tragedy, that two ‘bargain’ cardigans I’d recently bought were made in Bangladesh. Buying pre-loved high street clothes doesn’t change the fact that they weren’t made ethically – but it does mean that those companies aren’t making extra profit from me buying their clothes brand new, and of course it frees up my money to give to charities and fair trade businesses who are working for justice.

* To lessen landfill waste. Why should someone have to chuck something still perfectly usable? If I can take it off their hands, that’s much better for the environment.

* It’s cheaper. This might mean that a better quality product can be obtained, or that more money is saved to give away. Or both.

If we call ourselves Christians, we have no choice but to be concerned about these issues. God is clearly concerned for the earth (He created it), people’s well-being (He created them), waste (which ruins the earth He created) and money (which is His anyway). We need to align our concerns with God’s concerns.

My beautiful sewing machine. The best thing Freecycle ever gave me.
My beautiful sewing machine. The best thing Freecycle ever gave me.

So what’s stopping us?

* Pride. Perhaps the biggest obstacle between us and the pre-loved market is that we don’t want to be seen with an older or scruffier version of what we really want. We’re concerned with what people think of us, and, to some extent, our identity is wrapped up in what we own. Amy Ross, CAP Intern, challenges us to be ‘free from fashion’ in her excellent article about being ethical on a budget.

* Choice. We live in a consumer-orientated culture, where we can be picky down to the tiniest detail of colour, shape, size, style and brand of whatever we’re buying. I do this regularly – and usually don’t even notice, sucked in as I am by the world’s way. I have to ask myself, Does this really matter in God’s kingdom? Whether I buy a doll’s pram which is wooden or metal, pink or blue, close to the floor or ever so slightly elevated? Does it matter, from an eternal perspective?

* Time. Finding what we want in a pre-loved state is often time-consuming. It could involve hours spent trawling through eBay and Gumtree, frequenting a large number of charity shops, or putting second-hand sales in the diary. It is much quicker to simply walk into a shop and buy what we want straight away.

* Organisation. Pre-loved items, unfortunately, don’t always present themselves at the time you need them. Often it takes a bit of forward planning to get them. If the fact that my children need wellies only dawns on me at the point at which they move up a shoe size, I probably have no option but to buy new ones. The cost? £10 for me. Rubber, plastic, fossil fuels for the earth. Perhaps a day’s badly-paid labour for someone on the other side of the world. But if I can predict that they will need wellies in the future (and in the UK, let’s face it, it’s not a difficult prediction), then I can search for them in the next few sizes up whenever I’m in a charity shop or at a kids’ second-hand sale. It’s difficult to be organised about shopping, when our culture is all about being able to buy whatever you want whenever you want it – but perhaps it’s a small price to pay in order for God’s earth and God’s people to be treated with respect.

Joel's wellies - a bargain at £2ish. I have a mild obsession with pre-loved wellies. I say mild obsession - it's bordering on mental illness.
Mister’s wellies – a bargain at £2ish. I have a mild obsession with pre-loved wellies. (I say mild obsession – it’s bordering on mental illness.)

* Quality. There are often no guarantees with pre-loved items. They could break within days of receiving them. However, my experience has shown this to be the exception rather than the rule, and with the money saved overall, the odd mistake is affordable.

* Instant satisfaction. We want something now and buying pre-loved takes longer than that. But perhaps instant gratification isn’t good for us. Perhaps we’ll appreciate our possessions more if they’ve taken longer to source. Perhaps we’ll appreciate them more if we know that, through their purchase, we have done some good.

Don’t some of us need to buy new items, so that the pre-loved market stays healthy?

Perhaps there is some argument here. But I don’t see any slowing down of the availability of pre-loved goods. Car boot sales and charity shops are everywhere, and Ebay ain’t going out of business just yet. Let’s first plunder the second-hand market for all it can give us – then perhaps we can argue this statement a little stronger.

But when I buy a new item, surely I’m helping to provide jobs for people?

Yes – kind of. You’re providing a job for a Western shop assistant, and others involved in the (probably Western) company. But perhaps somewhere else on the planet, another person has lost a job because their trade is dying out due to cheaper products being mass produced elsewhere. Perhaps the person who made the item isn’t being paid what they should. Yes, they have a job – but not one which can support them.

Also, some second-hand outlets do provide jobs – for those who really need them. By buying from them, you’re indeed creating the right jobs. The wonderful Bike Rescue Project in York (who supplied Mister’s new bike, his pride and joy) employ and train ex-offenders and unemployed people. I like that my money has gone to them. Some charity shops pay some of their staff. And, for all we know, people selling at a car boot or on eBay may be selling things in order to support their families.

Joel's new bike.
Mister’s new bike.


This is an issue which has been tugging at my heart-strings recently. (Can you tell?!) Of course there are lots of times when it’s just impossible to find things pre-loved. I have tried, and failed, to source pre-loved toys for the kids’ birthday presents this year. I’m currently not having much luck finding pre-loved bunk beds. It’s a real privilege to be able to buy new items whenever we need them – but from now on I want to make pre-loved my first choice.

* Do you buy pre-loved? If so, how do you go about it? How do you make it work for you?

* If not, what stops you? Is it lack of time, the possibility of damaged goods, or something else?

* How do you consider how you spend your money? Do you see it as a force for good?

(P.S. Sorry for the poor quality of the photos. My pre-loved eBay camera is currently having its flash fixed. I’d love to say this was an ironic joke but, sadly, it’s not. See point about ‘quality’ above.)


creation song for kids

I struggle to find Christian songs which are easy for pre-school kids to sing and remember. Most Christian kids’ songs have far too many words for tiny ones, and are clearly geared towards primary-age children.

So my preference, where possible, is to re-word a popular nursery rhyme tune with some simple, repetitive words which tell a story. As we know, it’s much easier to pick up a song when you already know the tune – and nursery rhymes have stood the test of time for a reason: they’re decent tunes! They’re easy to pick up, short with much repetition, don’t require instrumental backing, and (usually) have a limited range of notes, which means they can be sung in different keys with no problem of getting to the third line and realising you’ve pitched too high or too low. It also takes much longer to learn a song when you’re given written words to read, and most pre-school kids can’t read anyway, so having simple, repetitive words (which nursery rhyme tunes lend themselves to) makes aural learning easy.

This Tuesday, I’ll be kicking off the new term at Tuesday Tots by telling/playing the Creation story with the kids. I did this story last year, but without music, so this year I was keen to introduce an appropriate song. Now, how many of you adults can remember the order of creation? Honestly?! I know I can’t…so the song I’ve come up with has really helped me to remember the story accurately, never mind the children! It’s to the tune of ‘This old man’. (If you use it with your kids, or church group, I’d love to hear about it!)

Our great God

Our great God, on day one,

He said “Light!” and it was done –

With our loudest voices, everybody sing:

Our great God made everything!

Our great God, on day two,

Made the sky for me and you –

With our loudest voices…

Our great God, on day three,

Made the land and plants and sea,

With our loudest voices…

Our great God, on day four,

Made sun, moon and stars galore,

With our loudest voices…

Our great God, on day five,

Made the fish and birds alive,

With our loudest voices…

Our great God, on day six,

Put animals and humans in the mix,

With our loudest voices…

(slower, if you like!) Our great God, on day seven,

Had a rest after all He’d given…

With our loudest voices…

So there you go: a little sneak preview for all you Tuesday Tots regulars. Keen mummies now have two days to ensure they’re word-perfect before Tuesday morning. And all those who don’t come to Tuesday Tots can just spend a few moments being mightily jealous of all the fun we have!

If you like this song, check out ‘Easter bells‘!

holiday packing: my very favourite thing (not)

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If I didn’t need my holiday before, then I certainly need it once I’ve got half-way through the packing. It’s a flippin’ nightmare.

Packing is no hassle for Desert Dad. Wherever we’re going, and however long for, packing seems to take him just five minutes, and fit neatly into one rucksack. The possibility that he may have calculated how much underwear he’ll need by adding up the number of days we’re away and dividing it by two is neither here nor there. I don’t care anymore. Don’t care. There are enough cares in packing for me and the kids that I’m done worrying about what hubbie’s bringing (or not bringing).

I get a few minutes into the whole packing debacle before realising that we don’t have any stuff. I mean, of course, this is ridiculous – we have far too much stuff. We just don’t have the right stuff.

At best, I am a cautious and frugal consumer – but this backfires on me when it’s time to go away. I’m staring at the disorganised mess of clothes, shouting at myself for the times I stood in Next contemplating whether or not Missy needed more than two pairs of pyjamas, or if Mister really should have sandals that fit him. WE HAVE NO STUFF! NO SANDALS! NO WET WEATHER GEAR! NO PICNIC APPARATUS!  

This year, however, I managed to remember in time, and have spent the last week or two madly rushing into whichever shops are en route to toddler groups and preschool, cramming a basket full of whatever looks vaguely holiday-related. What is that? No idea. What does it do? Clueless. It has a picture of a sun on it. Do I need it? Don’t care…Missy is screaming…grab, pay, out.

Then there is the issue of having to pack light. Sticking to the UK for our holidays seemed a good choice when the kids arrived: no long flights, no jet lag, no airport delays, no customs, no hassle. But, right now, I would gladly take on all of those disadvantages for a bit of predictable weather, where our packing would consist of clothes for one season only. Today, I’m cramming my already-full suitcase with big jumpers, sunhats, raincoats, sandals, wellies, swimwear.

And take shoes. When we booked our holiday, I was all like Oh it’s great, such a lovely area for walking, and we’re not so far from the beach, and there are loads of lovely towns to potter round. Wrong move, Rycroft. At the very least, I’m going to need five pairs of shoes: walking shoes for country walks, flip-flops for the beach, smart shoes for going out, normal shoes for, er, normal things, and sandals for normal things in warm weather.

And that’s the bare minimum.

It’s pretty much a full bag already. You say, in your annoyingly calm way, “You can buy things when you get there, shops still exist on holiday”, to which I reply “Yes, where we’re going I will be able to buy organic veg and locally-made biscuits and, perhaps, a pair of Hunter’s wellies, and that is it.” Spending a holiday tracking down a Tesco when you’re in the middle of nowhere, just because I didn’t know whether or not we’d need suncream, is not my idea of fun.

I mentioned sunhats. Missy does not do hats. Still, I feel I must act the responsible parent and pack one anyway, in the vain hope that she and hat might click this holiday. But – because she doesn’t wear hats – I have no idea whether the hat she didn’t wear last summer still fits. So, I do this simple test:

Thank the Lord she's a deep sleeper.
Thank the Lord she’s a deep sleeper.

Packing is a drag, no two ways about it. But I do it for a) the holiday at the end of it all, and b) the calm I’ll experience tomorrow morning as hubby packs the car. This is a division of labour which works very nicely in our household: I pack the stuff, and Desert Dad packs it into the boot.

When women have kids, hormones kick in. They produce milk, develop a protective instinct, start to nurture their newborns, get very good at laundry, that kind of thing. But when guys become dads, their hormones kick in too, with very different results.

I’m pretty sure that as Desert Dad was handed his newborn son for the first time, several algorithms for packing the car boot were already taking shape. It’s all dimensions and shapes and nooks and crannies, and whether boxes or bags are preferable, and what can you squeeze between the kids’ seats, and what do we need access to, and all that shebang.

It’s Man’s work, that’s for sure, and for the half hour it takes, I’m enormously relieved to leave it to him. From experience, it’s best to keep me and the kids well out of the way, for this is His Time: a few special moments, just him and our luggage.

This was our car at Christmas. We nearly had to leave the kids.
This was our car at Christmas. We nearly had to leave the kids.

And then – we’re off!

Except – no, wait – we’ve forgotten water (which we’ll never drink), keys (in the front door), and CDs. CDs!! Yes, we’re that old. It’s time to leave, but still we must deplete the bulging glove compartment of all its stock, and start again from scratch. We must! It’s time, apparently, to relive the glory days of Beth Orton, or to rediscover that nu-folk-acoustic-rock-metal album which was a birthday present from Groovy Rob. Whatever is chosen, you can reliably assume that, one hour into the journey, he’ll declare that it’s not suitable for driving, that you can’t hear it over the noise of the road, and he wishes he’d kept Dire Straits in after all.

Friends, I need a holiday. See you on the other side.

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sabbath week day 4: cake

Today I was due to take cake to Mums ‘n’ Tots. When I signed up a few weeks ago, I hadn’t realised that this would be Sabbath week. And we have no eggs in the house. No problem – I love a challenge.

I started with an easy no-bake treat which didn’t need eggs. Fortunately I had all the ingredients from a couple of weeks back, when I’d hoped to make this particular treat with Mister. I forgot, of course, that as soon as the temperature hit double figures, he’d be wanting to spend all his time playing ball games outside. Silly me. (I don’t know if our garden’s become bushier or Mister’s improved his kick, or both, but I seem to be spending a much larger proportion of my days inside a hedge, retrieving lost balls, than I was last summer. Mental note: get hayfever tablets.)

So, anyway, Mister’s lack of interest in cooking fared me well for making these delish chocolate honeycomb crunchies. And there were lots of positive comments at the group this morning too. Win!

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But I felt I needed a second contribution – the crunchies alone wouldn’t feed many mums or tots. (Certainly not this tot, who spends the first half of Thursday mornings playing disinterestedly with the toys whilst keeping a watchful eye on the cake table, alerting me when the cakes have been laid out and a queue is forming. And, as if that weren’t embarrassing enough, she then proceeds to queue-jump, and stand, drooling, by the table until I catch up with her. I starve her, you know. The only reason she goes to toddler groups is for the cake.)

I turned to the Pink Whisk for inspiration and, lo and behold, an egg-less cake which would fit the bill for the group (no icing, not too messy, not too indulgent, not too boring, no nuts for choking, no alcohol for getting tipsy, etc etc): golden syrup cake. It tasted good – no melt-in-the-mouth quality like egg-rich cakes, but not unpalatable. I was very pleased to be able to use one of Ruth’s recipes – I was a big fan when she was on the Bake-Off t’other year, and don’t use her blog nearly as much as I should. The recipe makes two, so instead of taking one to the group and freezing one (which would inevitably have been for us, hence contributing to our already overly-abundant stock of food), I took everything to the group: the crunchies, and two golden syrup loaf cakes.

Why take one cake when you can take three?

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If you’re thinking you only spy two cakes, that’s because you do – the third ‘cake’ being the crunchies mentioned earlier. Stop scanning and read properly, you corner-cutter.

In the spirit of being generous with what others have given us, I then had lunch with a friend who’s just had a baby, and was able to take a good selection of fruit, veg, fresh bread and chocolate fingers. Tonight we feasted on beef, potato wedges, garlic mushrooms and roasted celery, courgettes and peppers.

Tomorrow, we shall eat like Kings…but you’ll have to wait to find out why.

I will blog more on the unexpected turn in our Sabbath week mentioned yesterday, I will, but today is for cake. I hope you understand.

stay-at-home parenting: where’s the intellectual stimulation?


(There’s still time to enter the giveaway! Free book, anyone?!)

2013-02-14 15.37.44This is not an advert for stay-at-home parenting. It’s not even an argument against those who might suggest that parents who stay at home with their kids run the risk of becoming bored. It’s actually just me asking myself a question: How is it that I don’t feel bereft of intellectual activity? Because on paper it looks like I don’t have much of it – and yet, three-and-a-half years in, I don’t feel intellectually inactive as a stay-at-home parent. So here’s me trying to figure out why that might be.

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1. I’m still me. It sounds obvious, but I have the same kind of thoughts and ideas as I always had. My brain, albeit a little slower and more forgetful, still runs through discussions and arguments in the same way. I’m interested by the same news articles, the same ethical debates, the same life philosophies.

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2. I’ve met a wider range of people. Parenthood, for me, has been incredibly social – I’ve not made this many friends since Freshers’ Week. And I meet new people every week. When I was in a paid job, I had many colleagues – but, largely, my work was independent. And the colleagues I socialised with were from a similar background to me – mainly white, middle-class, university-educated. As a mum, I’ve met others from all around the world (Japan, Korea, China, America, Mexico, Spain, Poland, Romania, to name a few places). I’ve met people with PhDs, and people who left school at 16. I’ve met people who were raised in a whole variety of different situations – and who are raising their kids in a whole variety of different situations. This has made my life and conversations rich in diversity and, I believe, intellectual interest, as I’ve absorbed a whole new set of ideas about life, as well as other countries’ histories and ideologies.

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3. My kids stimulate my mind. It might sound mind-numbing to hang out with pre-schoolers and do nothing but slot shapes into holes or read picture books – but the development of my children is fascinating, and requires a good deal of thought. I don’t tend to do a lot of reading on parenthood and child development, but I pick up bits and bobs, and simply how my children respond to things causes me to form ideas about what will be beneficial for them in the future, and how I can encourage their interest in different areas. I’m not a ‘natural’ when it comes to parenting – I’m pretty slow on the uptake, and so it takes a lot of brain-power to keep my kids alive…or that’s how it feels!

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4. There’s a lot to do if you’re available. Society can’t function at its best unless some people do things voluntarily. There just seem to be a lot of things needing to be done which can’t be paid. I’ve been in the fortunate position of being able to engage with a bit of voluntary stuff since being out of paid work, most recently running a toddler group. In the last few months I have: worked in a team, led initiatives, chaired meetings, organised rotas, communicated with a variety of people by phone and email, used social media for publicity and negotiated discounts. It’s intellectually stimulating to have an idea and see it take off, regardless of whether or not you’re being paid for the work. Yes, these jobs do eat into my evenings, as I try not to short-change my kids by doing them in ‘their’ time, but these other commitments do help me keep my brain active in different ways.

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5. Work wasn’t always that stimulating. I need to remember that, much as I enjoyed my paid job, it didn’t stimulate me every day. In every job there is the humdrum routine, the tasks you repeat over and over, the lack of variety and the days which drag. Likewise, some aspects of my life now are dull. Some days seem really long, and sometimes I get fed up. But, overall, if anyone asks whether I’m bored since leaving paid work, I’m confident in answering with a resounding ‘no’!

What stimulates you about the time you spend at home with your kids, whether all the time or part of the time?

Do you empathise with any of my feelings about being at home with kids? What’s mind-numbing? What’s interesting?

Oh, and did I mention the giveaway?!!

celebrating easter

2013, I have decided, is my year of celebration. And if ever there was a time to celebrate, now is the time. We’re getting ready to celebrate sacrifice, forgiveness, grace and the extraordinary hope of new life, motivated by a love that pales even the strongest human love into dull grey. Forget bunnies and chicks – this year, my friends, I want to celebrate Easter with a joyful exuberance befitting of its life-changing significance.

There are just two problems.

1) The Easter story is one of incredible joy – at the end. The rest of the story is filled with pain and suffering and anguish and mockery and beatings and humiliation and betrayal. Not easy to come up with a colour scheme for all that.

2) Easter should be bigger than Christmas, as far as Christians are concerned. But Christmas has become over-commercialised – we all know that – so how do we prevent Easter from going the same, horrendously materialistic route? And, even if our celebrations are not overly material, how can we keep our minds from being preoccupied with the celebrations, rather than the reason for it all?

I have come up with a few things. I’m not going with everything I brainstormed at the start of the year because, mindful of my latter point, it would be counter-productive to stress myself (and my family) out with too many little details. Also, this year my church is ‘slowing down’ for Lent – another reason to check my priorities, and spend this time with God, not planning Easter trimmings. (To read more about ‘slowing down’, check out the blog I wrote this week for my church womens’ group.)

My aim in all this has to be: to help our family understand and engage with the Easter story. So I’ve rejected ideas which wouldn’t work yet while my kids are young – or those which might distract us from worshipping Jesus more. Here’s what I’m left with:

1) We’ve already started some of the Easter stories from Alice’s wonderful blog (scroll down for Easter). If you have preschool children and you haven’t yet got the message about how much I LOVE Alice’s creative and playful re-telling of Bible stories, then you have a treat in store. (And you’re also probably blind and/or deaf. Get with it people – I’ve been moaning on about Play on the Word for an age.) My 1-year-old is riveted, wanting to listen and join in when she can. My 3-year-old is deeply moved (and so am I – man, I’m going to be a wreck when he leaves home). He’s asking questions and responding to the story in powerful ways.

2) I’ve just painted a hotch-potch collection of little Easter figures. There’s Jesus, the three women who stayed close, two angels, two criminals crucified alongside him, and two Roman soldiers. (These were my low point. Not so much soldiers as grey-haired, tabard-wearing nursery teachers.) OK, I’m not an artist. But we’ll use these figures – plus some rough crosses my lovely Dad helped me make – to act out the Easter story in our home over the next couple of weeks.

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3) Lent eggs. Similar to an Advent calendar, but lasting just a week. (Can you imagine trying to count down all 40 days of Lent with a 3 year old?) I have seven plastic eggs, and will invite the kids to open one each day from Palm Sunday onwards, so we can count down to Easter Sunday together. In each will be two small chocolate eggs – one each – as well as a clue to the day’s activity – for example: making Easter cards, hunting for an Easter sticker book, making chocolate Easter egg nests. I hope that this build-up helps the kids to realise what a special day Easter is – and that the individual activities will help encourage conversation about what it all means.

4) We’ll make resurrection cookies on Easter Saturday. This is SUCH a cool idea you just have to take a look – I won’t up my word count unnecessarily. (And, again, I’m indebted to Alice for posting this link on her blog originally.)

In future years I’d like to explore how we can use Easter as a time for givingIf we’re celebrating new life and new hope, then it’d be great to consider ways we could give a new start to people in our community. I’m not talking huge presents for my own kids, who already have far too much, but perhaps giving away some of our stuff to those who are desperate for it, or making something personal for a friend who’s having a rough time, or writing letters or cards to encourage others, or giving money to local charities. A small start this year is that we’ve grabbed a few real Easter eggs and will be giving them to Joel’s little friends – a kind of Easter/farewell present, as we prepare to leave York.

parenthood and bible reading

(This is part of a series. For the previous posts, see here.)

You know the phrase “If something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well”?

I have a new version, designed for parents: “If something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing at the first opportunity you get…you sure as hell won’t get another chance”.

Example: my kid goes down for a nap. “Great,” I think. “I’ll just empty the dishwasher, tidy away lunch, put a load of washing on, then read my Bible…” MISTAKE. I just know that I won’t get round to the last thing on the list. My kid will wake too soon, or I’ll get distracted by other needy tasks.

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There is, of course, no Biblical directive to spend time each day reading the Bible. And thank goodness for grace, which means salvation through Jesus, not through our own endeavours. But if I believe that the Bible is God’s word, then spending time reading it, hearing from God, needs to be my number one priority for those rare opportunities in my day when no one else is making any demands on my time. Unlike my kids, God never makes demands on my time. (He doesn’t repeatedly say my name over and over until I take notice, like my 3 year old, or bend His head round into my line of vision so that I can’t ignore Him, like my 1 year old.) But if I take seriously our relationship, I will choose to make time for Him.

I need to be careful that I don’t blame my kids for my own lack of discipline. Were my daily devotionals perfect when I was childless? Were they even daily? No they were not. As mentioned previously, I am hopeless at discipline. But – let’s be honest – protecting a bit of time each day for God is always harder with small people around. Our time is no longer our own, but theirs. For the hours of the day when our children are being looked after by someone else, or asleep, chances are we are at work, doing housework, calling the doctor, or just falling asleep, shattered by the day’s demands.

I would like to say that I’ve cracked this one, and here are five simple tips to help you find the disciplined life you’ve always wanted. But – again – no. This blog continues to be a log of my failures. (Failure log = flog??) But Jesus came for failed people, so that’s OK; I’m learning to see things through His eyes and not the world’s.

There is one thing, however, that I have learned: Bible reading requires some sort of routine. When you have kids, they also have some kind of routine. But it changes. Sometimes after a year, sometimes after a few months, sometimes daily. So, as parent-disciples, we need to be flexible to adapt our routine to theirs. When my kids’ routine changes, so does mine. God has given me 24 hours in my day as he has everyone else – so I know there must be time to spend with Him. It may look very different to pre-2009, it may look very different each day, and it may not be many minutes at all, but I believe in a God who is powerful enough to use each word of His word to grow us more into His likeness.

And this makes me very happy. 🙂


“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

2 Timothy 3:16-17