January Blues(tone)

January Blues(tone)

How are you combating the January blues?

We’ve got a holiday coming up in Bluestone, the Welsh equivalent of Centre Parks. One of the great things about homeschooling is out of season holiday prices!

We booked the holiday a while back knowing that having something fun to look forward to would help us through the dreary month of January.

While running the marathon of motherhood it helps to have something in the future to fix our attention on. Tests to our patience can be endless. And behavioural changes can seem to take place at an exceedingly slow rate. If we’re only focusing on our struggles, we can easily become downhearted and despondent. 

We need something to motivate us when we’re weary and tired. 

Holidays are good, but they are, of course, only temporary. Our trip to Bluestone will come and go – and when we get back there will be the rest of the cold, wet winter to contend with. It would be better to look forward to something more permanent.

Last week our kids had a sickness and diarrhoea bug. After five frequently interrupted nights, cleaning vomit, and comforting poorly kids I was running on empty.  Caffeine and sugar were my crutch. 

Then, our two year old thought it was a good idea to test how many ‘forbidden’ items he could touch in one day. 

Among other things, I caught him pressing buttons on the CD player – at one point ‘accidentally’ throwing the whole thing on the floor. He emptied the coins out my purse. Punched keys on the laptop. Touched wires. He unscrewed the lid of my shampoo. Thankfully, I managed to stop him before he could fill it up with bath water. My patience was at an all time low.

In the end, I confined him to the time out step for the last 20 minutes of the day and put him to bed early. Attempting to keep my heart tender, I apologised for losing my temper with him, which, sadly, I’d done more than once that day. We prayed together and asked God to help us both do better in the morning.

That night, the fourth child came down with the bug, and vomited all over his wall, bed and carpet.

It can be exhausting when there are so many tests to our patience. Why do kids repeat the same bad behaviours over and over again, no matter how much we tell them not to? Even without the sick bug it is trying. 

That day was tough. But, however much I struggled with toddler rebellion (and my own short fuse), it was not as much as Jesus struggled for us in his battle against sin.

Jesus sweat drops of blood. He was publicly shamed and humiliated. Finally, he was hung on a cross, slowly suffocating to death. His suffering has never been surpassed. And Jesus didn’t endure this because of his own wrongdoing – he never did anything wrong. He suffered for everyone else.

Looking to Jesus can help to put our struggles in perspective. We can draw strength and comfort from his example. But we can also learn from him. How did Jesus endure the greatest suffering the world has known? We are told he did it for the joy that was set before him (Hebrews 12:2).

We are not specifically told what this joy was. However, the same verse reminds us that, after the cross, Jesus was able to look forward to sitting again at the right hand of the throne of God. One day we will stand before that same throne (Revelation 7:9).

Holidays are temporary. So too are struggles. But our future joy is imperishable (1 Peter 1:4). Like Jesus, we too can be motivated to persevere in our challenges by the joy set before us.

We can look to Jesus who endured more than we will ever have to. We can also look ahead to a time when there will be no more suffering, no more pain and no more tears (Revelation 7:16-17); and an ‘eternal weight of glory’ (2 Corinthians 4:17).

I trust that this joy will keep me going when we get back from our holiday and, by God’s grace, all through 2018.

Recipe

Pasta bakes are great. They can be prepared at any time of day and then cooked just before dinner. With the spicy sausage and slight heat from the chili, this is a great one to keep you warm in the winter months. It makes enough to feed a small army – or save yourself some time and eat it two days in a row.

Tuna and Chorizo Pasta Bake

Servings 8 adults

Ingredients

Pasta Sauce

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 large celery stalks finely chopped
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 3 medium carrots roughly chopped
  • 200 g chorizo finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp chili flakes or to taste
  • 2 tins tuna
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 400 g tin chopped tomato
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 450 g pasta ragatoni or penne

Cheese Sauce

  • 300 g Low fat crème fraîche
  • 100 g Parmesan finely grated

Instructions

  1. Fry onions, celery and carrots till soft

  2. Add chorizo, paprika, oregano and chili. Fry till chorizo begins to release oil

  3. Add tomato puree and garlic, cook for 1 minute

  4. Mix in tuna, chopped tomatoes and sugar. Simmer on low heat for 30 mins

  5. Meanwhile cook pasta according to packet instructions

  6. Mix together crème fraîche with Parmasan, salt and pepper

  7. stir tuna sauce through the pasta, place in a large casserole dish and top with cheese sauce

  8. Bake in a preheated oven 180C for 30 mins (40 mins from chilled)

  9. Serve with salad and extra chili flakes

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