My Little Duke


Act Two.

Blogging, Motherhood, FaithSteph DukeComment

God has been taking me on quite a journey over the last 18 months or so. The life I’m living right now looks completely different to the one that I imagined I’d be living. My life looks so different in fact, that I would have laughed out loud if someone had told me that at just 29 years of age, I would quit my full-time, permanent teaching job because God told me to! I would never have believed that I’d be working from home: blogging, creating paid content online and curating a motherhood journal. I couldn’t have ever even dreamed that I’d get to be the mum who walks her daughter to school every morning and picks her up again when school ends. Me hosting a women’s weekend retreat?! Not a chance! I would never have ever thought I could do something like that … yet God did. Praise God that He got my attention during a season of my life that was headed for disaster. My rollercoaster cart was running at high-speed round a well-worn track. It never stopped. All day, every day it was whizzing round and round, twisting and turning. And the wheels were starting to wear thin. Just as my cart was ready to come right off the tracks … God stepped in. 

For an awfully long time I lived my life trying to be everything to everyone. This was especially prevalent in my job as a teacher. I was on a constant mission of seeking approval. Deep down my heart was in the right place, but my actions flowed out of a wrong personal desire. If I’m totally honest, even though I called myself a Christian, I wasn’t seeking to glorify God. I was seeking to glorify myself. I played many roles as I performed Act One of my life. I was the Playwright in charge of penning the script. I was Director too, with the mindset that as long as I continually tried to control the unfolding of my pages, things would work out ok. How wrong I was. Finally I was also the Actor who was sometimes so worn out from all the writing and directing jobs I’d given myself, that I had no energy left to actually be present and act out the life I’d been striving so damn hard to create!  But thankfully God has rewritten the scenes in Act Two. I’ve come through a really tough process of learning how to hand over the reigns, how to submit control and let God be the master craftsman – exactly what He ought to always be. And I must clarify here that I am still learning. I’m not yet at the place of total daily submission. It’s not yet a learned behaviour. I am really trying though. My default mode is always to revert back to ‘control’. It’s my coping mechanism and my well-worn pathway. Yet now I know how dangerous it is to allow myself to live and operate out of that place. It doesn’t make it any easier for me to stop and hand stuff to God mind you, but I’m becoming more and more inclined to do so in this new season. 

So how did I get to this new season? If I can summarise it for you, it would look something like this. I ended up off work for a number of months because of a horrible incident involving a pupil at school. I’m grateful to God that I wasn’t hurt and that it wasn’t my fault. However, it jolted me out of my high-speed rollercoaster cart and forced me to sit a’while with God. In this quiet place - away from the hustle and away from the noise - suddenly it was just God and I. I tried to ignore His gentle whisper but I knew we really needed to talk. There was a lot of stuff that wasn’t (and still isn’t) right. When I finally (after several months) chose to listen … He changed my world. He gave me such a clear word about quitting my job that I felt I didn’t have a choice not to. I received this word when I was at my absolute lowest; down on my knees, crying out to God in desperation one afternoon. It was a day when I felt like I had no-one to talk to and no-where to turn. I felt trapped, isolated and frightened about my situation in school and could not cope being so out of control. I feared the past, the present and the future in those moments before God spoke. I shouted at Him “WHY!” and furiously questioned “What are you doing God?!” Yet as soon as I heard His voice, everything changed. There would be no going back. 

I allowed myself to crumble and fall to pieces on that floor, that day. And in His goodness and grace, God picked up each and every broken piece of me and began to put my puzzle back together again. He is in the business of doing that you know? Fixing broken things, broken people. He is still fixing me. Still moulding me into the person He sees me becoming. It’s all about perspective you see. God sees the big picture. We see but a mere fraction of our puzzle. We get so hung up on that tiny portion of our life when God is trying to lift our eyes off ourselves and our circumstances, and onto Him. When we focus on who He is … not on who we are or what we are doing, perspective changes.

I still lose perspective, even in this season. Despite knowing and trusting God’s plans and purposes for my life – I still lose perspective sometimes. I still try and get that old rollercoaster cart moving again. It’s habit you see. Those pathways are well travelled. The territory is too familiar.  But there is a big difference in me this season. Instead of seeking to glorify myself, my goal is to always bring glory to Him. If I mess up, I come right back to the foot of the cross every time and I start all over again. Before, I would never have stopped for a moment to even allow God near.  I would have convinced myself that I didn’t need Him around, that I was fine on my own, that I was totally ‘in control’. Now, if I catch myself attempting to take control I run straight to God and surrender myself to Him all over again. It frightens me how quickly old patterns can creep back in and how the enemy waits ready to pounce like a lion when we have a weak moment. So my challenge this season is to continue to allow God to work in me, no matter what the cost, no matter how hard it feels sometimes. There is so much ‘unknown’ about my life right now but I face it with certainty for I know and trust the hand that puts the pen to my paper and writes the pages of my play. Act Two … I’m ready for you! 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Jeremiah 29 v 11

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"Motherhood looks good on you."

Motherhood, FaithSteph DukeComment

“Motherhood looks good on you.”

Said a sweet friend today.

And I wept.

Tears of joy and gratitude cascaded down my face as I Iet those beautiful words sink deep into my sprit.


Yesterday I posted on Instagram about feeling like a bad mum. And I genuinely did feel that way. I could have made better choices and mistakes were made. I ended up feeling all kinds of “eugh” as I reflected on the day. Some lovely friends threw their hands up with a “me too” and with their encouragement I woke grateful for new graces and mercies this morning!

With a thankful heart and a fresh perspective, I walked into today. Now, as I sit, toes warming by the stove, with a cuppa and freshly baked banana bread by my side, I’m completely overwhelmed with thankfulness. If I was still in my job, today could never have happened.

What makes today so special?

From the outside, today wasn’t anything spectacular! But for me, everything about this day - this average Wednesday - felt ... wonderful. Ever since I made the decision to quit my job I’ve felt a peace that I can’t quite describe. Today though, the peace has felt more real, almost tangible to touch, like I’ve been in the flow and riding the wave with ease!

I never thought I’d be a “stay-at-home-mum” - my goodness - not in a million years! I just didn’t think it was for me. In my early 20s and totally naive - I 100% thought I’d climb the career ladder. That was until the moment Phoebe was placed into my arms and my world as I knew it was tipped upside down! The moment I became a mother, everything changed. A new mantle was placed upon my shoulders and I became instantly aware of my newfound calling and responsibilities. I was a mum. And so my motherhood ministry began.

As the big 30 approaches, and as I begin a new season of mothering as a SAHM, I’m recognising and savouring the special season of life I’m in. These days are fleeting. The bad days and the good ones, like today. Every single second counts. Today I felt truly in the flow of mothering. While Phoebe was at playgroup I did some admin and planned for dinner. I nipped out for a few ingredients and picked up a Kinder Egg for a little surprise for Phoebe coming out of school. (Those little eggs were one of my absolute favourite treats as a child!)

Once home, the stove was lit and we enjoyed some croissants and pastries for lunch. This was closely followed by hot chocolates and keeping warm by the fire while the snow fell outside. (It is National Hot Chocolate Day after all!) We dawned our aprons (mini and mama) and prepped the ingredients for @strandandstipes Mayflower Chicken Curry. This was the first time I’d ever used a slow-cooker and I have to admit, the ease with which dinner was made and the aroma wafting through the house all afternoon was convincing enough! I felt a strange sort of satisfaction while the curry slowly bubbled away. A contentedness and a peace that, without any more effort, dinner would be ready when Matt got home. With the freedom knowing dinner was sorted, Phoebe and I turned our hands to bake our favourite loaf - banana bread.

We were relaxed and happy, no rush, no stress, no angst. Dinner was slowly cooking. We were slowly baking. It was bliss. The simplest of afternoons, the simplest of activities, yet I felt such joy. This is where I’m meant to be. Right now. These days. This nurturing and home-making role is suiting me. And I just can’t believe it. Like I said earlier, this is not how I pictured myself as I turn 30. Yet here I am and this motherhood “looks good on me.”

It’s timely that today marks the close of January’s door. A month that held great anticipation for me as I took the leap of faith to leave my job and step into new ventures. The new venture has yet to be unveiled and there’s a timing in that too. It’s being carefully and thoughtfully curated, making sure it is exactly what it’s meant to be. I’ve just jumped out of the boat and it’s ok to be treading water a little while - taking in the scenery and enjoying the sun - before jumping into a new boat! The biggest part of my new ministry is mothering - I need to be mothering well at home, before I can help other mums. So as February approaches and I now feel settled in my new routine, one that keeps me more at home, more present and more intentional, my heart begins to beat a little faster at the exciting things I know are coming. New waves of opportunity are rolling in, I can see them in the distance and I’m going to be ready!

What are the simple joys in your current season? I do hope you can find some?! I’m being intentional and starting each day with a grateful heart. I have so much to be thankful for. Please don’t get me wrong though, although things might seem a certain way (through the eyes of IG for example) things aren’t all rosy. Since quitting my job, we have and are continually making sacrifices financially. I have lost a significant, full-time, teacher wage - nearly half of our monthly earnings! It’s not an easy road ahead for us. But having the peace I feel every single day about the decision I made makes a huge difference.

Personally, my own quality of life and my family’s quality of life has reaped the benefits of me being more present at home. Also, me being more present as a mother has made some significant and visible changes. My own lovely mum noticed a change in how I deal with Phoebe’s tantrums. I’m not parenting from a place of stress or angst and I’m not continually out of patience or at the end of my tether any more. I’m parenting from a place of rest and calm, a place of gratitude and honour, a place where I’m savouring the seconds of being fortunate enough to be “present.” But, this was not an easy choice to make. Choosing to be “present” came at great cost. I can’t emphasise that enough. Yet, God whispered to the person He knew I would become and I listened. And today, that soft voice whispered again, affirming that, “Yes – Motherhood does indeed look good on you.” I know that there will be some who think I’m crazy, giving up a full-time, permanent teaching post; but if the Lord speaks, I’d be denying everything that I believe in, to go and disobey Him. Today was a little head nod, a thumbs up, a “you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing” – I’ll take that affirmation and enjoy knowing that I’m right where I’m needed. I’ve a heart to serve and I’ll do it in whatever way and wherever I’m needed! 

Bless you for reading!

Steph xx