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Simple summer salads

I am a huge fan of salads. I judge a restaurant or food establishment based on their presentation and freshness of their salads – if a restaurant puts that much care and attention into the most simple of their dishes, then you know that their more complicated dishes will surely be a win. That or clearly they have a genius in the cold kitchen. You generally can’t go to wrong with a salad if you keep the balance of flavours right and follow these simple rules:

*Always use fresh ingredients. If you have some dodgy looking veg, use it in stews, where it is okay for them to be limp and soggy. Salads need to be crisp and fresh.

*Wash your ingredients well. Spinach and fresh lettuce are nefariously known to have sand and grit hidden in their leaves. Wash vegetables really well to make sure that they’re dirt-free . You WILL notice the difference.

*Don’t over-complicate with too many flavours. Choose a theme, i.e. Chinese style, Thai flavours, or Greek etc. and stick to those type of flavours. A “Greek influenced Chinese salad with a Malaysian style barbecue blue cheese dressing” is a bit like experiencing culture shock on a food scale.

*Keep a balance of textures. A good salad will have crisp veg, something with a crispy texture or an intense crunch, and then softer, easily chewable items. You don’t want a salad that has too many crunchy textures, as it will feel like you are chomping on gravel.

*If in doubt keep most of the ingredients bland. Good salads work because they don’t all have intense-flavoured ingredients. Lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes are generally soft flavours, and are enhanced by one or two intense flavours, such as a spicy meat or vegetable, and a flavourful dressing.

*Don’t experiment on guests. Rather save that for the comfort of your own home. If you are entertaining, use a recipe that you have used before that has been successful.

*Serve the dressing last. Most dressings contain an acid and an oil. The acid will firm up the salad ingredients, and start to break them down, and the oil will make them floppy. Dress your salad just before serving.

Strawberry saladStrawberry, feta and black pepper salad
Serves 4

120g Salad leaves

Half a cucumber

100g baby tomatoes

2 rounds of feta, cubed

8 strawberries, quartered

5 radishes, finely sliced

Olive oil

Balsamic glaze

Black pepper

Wash the salad leaves and arrange on a plate or in a bowl. Halve the cucumber, and arrange on top of the salad leaves. Scatter the washed baby tomatoes over the salad. Cube the feta, and quarter the strawberries, and arrange on the salad. Finely slice the radishes and layer on top. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic glaze. Grind with a generous amount of black pepper and serve immediately.

Almond chicken salad_Warm sticky chicken salad with almonds and apricots and a honey and mustard dressing
Serves 2

For the chicken:

1t olive oil 250-300g

(2) chicken breasts, de-skinned and deboned

2T apricot jam

2T teriyaki or soy sauce

1T sesame oil

40g (12) Turkish apricots

For the salad:

100g salad leaves

1/4 cucumber, sliced

100g baby tomatoes, washed and halved

1/4 red onion, sliced

40g toasted almond flakes

For the dressing:

25ml olive oil

20ml lemon juice

1t honey

2t wholegrain or plain Dijon mustard

Wash and cut the salad ingredients accordingly. Place on two separate plates and refrigerate.

Make the dressing: Mix the olive oil and lemon juice together. Whisk in the honey and mustard. Continue whisking until it forms a smooth, slightly thick dressing. Taste and adjust according to your palate – I like my dressings to be acidic and not too sweet. Set aside.

Make the chicken: Chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces and set aside. Heat a saucepan on the stove and add the olive oil. When the pan is hot add the chicken. Stir-fry until beginning to brown, about three minutes, and then add the sliced apricots. Cook for a further two minutes and then add the apricot jam, the teriyaki or soy sauce, and the sesame oil. Cook until the sauce begins to bubble, about one more minute. Check that the chicken is cooked all the way through, and has no pink shades in the centre.

Spoon the cooked chicken and apricots over the prepared salad ingredients and sprinkle with the toasted almonds. Drizzle over the dressing and serve.

View the recipe for roasted beetroot, butternut, feta and bacon salad with toasted pumpkin seeds on p32 of Radiant’s Jan/Feb issue.

Summer salads

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Top money management tips for 2013

1) Understand your money world-view

Our relationship to money is very complex – in most cases we have grown up with a certain understanding, either as a result of our parents’ model or as a reaction against their principles. We define ourselves as “spenders” or “savers” and, in both instances, are quick to fall into the trap of following the world’s view that our money is our own. It’s little wonder; when we are bombarded by advertisers telling us that this is the case, and that true satisfaction is possible through consumption (or wise investment). We are happy to give a percentage of our income for ministry purposes, but all too often simply add a Christian gloss to a view of money that looks no different from that of our unsaved friends and family. Getting to grips with a godly view of money starts with reflecting deeply on whether we really believe that God owns everything, that He provides for all our needs and that we are living for the new creation, where we’ll leave behind all the possessions we stashed up on earth.

2) Test your spending habits and what they reveal

We may believe the biblical view in theory, but in practice it may look a little different. In The Treasure Principle Randy Alcorn says Jesus put such an emphasis on money and possessions (15% of everything Christ said relates to this topic) because there’s a fundamental connection between our spiritual lives and how we think about and handle money. Is your heart deceiving you? Ash Carter (author of The Money Mentor) points out that the only reason advertising works is because we are sinful – “at every point in history, human beings have looked to their harvests, their families, their trinkets and their toys to fill the deep longing in their hearts that can only be filled by a relationship with God”. Diagnose where your heart really lies by asking these kinds of questions: How would I feel about losing X (your job, for example)? If I had to choose between X and Y, which would I give up? How do I actually spend 168 hours a week? Where does the money from my salary really go? (Recording these details over a two-month period may reveal a surprising reality). And ultimately, ‘In 100 million years, will it matter that I…?’

3) Know God’s priorities for your money

Fortunately, the bible is not quiet about how we should order our priorities in order to reflect God’s concerns and be responsible stewards of the limited financial resources He provides us with. Carter defines our responsibilities as starting with providing for our own needs (so that we are not a burden to others), then for those of our family (this includes our parents, whether they are believers or not) and then the local church followed by the global church. Remember that all important differentiation between needs and wants when it comes to looking after ourselves and our families! Ultimately, the more we appreciate the ongoing generosity of God to us, the more willing we will be to give freely from all that we already have (2 Corinthians 9).

4) Get out of debt

This is when it starts to get practical. Most developed countries are struggling with massive national and personal debts. Living on credit, through unsecured loans (where you have not pledged an asset of equal value) may be “manageable” if you can maintain the monthly payments, but it reveals the underlying problem of living beyond one’s means and the strong possibility of an attitude towards money that is not honouring to God. If you find yourself in this situation, the starting point is to make a list of what your debts are, what they cost you over a year, and whether you have any items that you can sell in order to reduce these loans. Develop a strategy to pay off the most expensive debts first – it may require a change in lifestyle to free up more money to get out of debt quicker. The advice of a professional can be invaluable here.

5) Break down your expenditure

The  Money Mentor divides spending up into five headings: fixed necessary expenditure (essential basic, unavoidable costs – rent, electricity, water etc), flexible necessary expenditure (these costs can change from month to month, for example groceries, depending on our consumption habits), long-term financial planning (we need to make provision for our retirement), giving (Randy Alcorn recommends thinking of tithing as training wheels to get you going: “Start at 10% of income, and then ramp up your giving from there, removing the stabilisers”) and variable discretionary expenditure (the category that covers everything not listed above; and also the easiest to overspend in!). Information is power, so once you are clear on the above (in practice, not just on paper) you can start planning to re-order the things in your financial matters that you are not happy with.

6) Make a plan

This is where the word budget comes in! To design an annual budget, set up a spreadsheet with the next twelve months across the top and your categories down the left-hand side. Put the income at the top, and expenses underneath, and using your records, estimate what you will spend in the year to come. Remember that plans change, so be prepared to be flexible. Also build in contingencies – there are always surprise expenses!

Try to think through one-off items that will occur, for example, a holiday, as well as events like Christmas and birthdays that will predictably break the regular pattern.

7) Think through future investments carefully

Bear in mind that all investments need to deliver returns. This is the case even when it comes to things like education, where we can be tempted to put sound financial practices to one side for the sake of emotional or other reasons. While there are many non-financial reasons to invest in your children’s tertiary education, at the end of the day their subsequent career needs to yield an appropriate return.

8) Remember cash is key

Any businessman knows that running out of cash spells disaster – and it’s the same when it comes to personal budgeting. Be sure to understand how your cash flows so that there is no point in the month when your expenses are more than the amount in your bank account, despite the theoretical availability of the money at a later point in the month.

9) Increase giving at every opportunity

Remember that our goal is to serve Jesus with our whole lives, so as soon as you receive an increase in income, or an unexpected bonus, consider how it can be used generously. Budgets are useful but at the end of the day they are simply tools to help free up more money for giving.

10) Keep records

Making real progress and change in the area of personal finance requires a long time – so commit to the long haul and keep going as you started. This means keeping your spreadsheet up to date, even when it seems that watching paint dry would be a more entertaining alternative. Over time, you’ll develop a system that works for you, but don’t expect it to be instinctive. And don’t be too hard on yourself when you don’t it right 100%. Success starts with that initial step – all the best for a disciplined and rewarding financial year ahead!

This article was published in Radiant’s Jan/Feb 2013 issue on page 11. Check out the article for budgeting tips and tricks from pastors’ wives!

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The adoption conversation

Adoption Dave and Emma had been married for a handful of years and already had two active children to show for it.  They were happy, and life was as smooth-sailing as it could be with two toddlers underfoot.  Yet at the back of their minds, they both remembered a conversation they’d had before they had said, “I do.”

“I’d love to adopt one day,” Emma had mused aloud to Dave one sunny afternoon as they sat in peak-hour traffic.

“Really?  Me too,” Dave affirmed.

Pleasantly surprised, Emma pushed gently, ““Even if we already had biological children?”

“Yes, I could do that,” he’d replied, half-concentrating on the road.

Now, four years later, the topic re-surfaced. “Now?” Emma thought to herself.  “Now, when our budget is already stretched with two kids in nappies day and night?” But she and her husband shared a common foundation – they both trusted in an all-sovereign God, One whose timing was always perfect. They began to pray about it, and even began the application process at a local Christian adoption agency.  But life meandered on its way, day after day, like a gentle, winding river.  Then one day, they heard: A teen mom had chosen their profile as the parents she wanted for her newborn son. In just six days, they would become a family of five.

Countless emotions elbowed at each other, fighting for a place in the spotlight – excitement, fear, apprehension, joy.  Then nerves prevailed, and questions pelted their minds like a hard, relentless rain: “What would he look like? How would the other kids respond to having a new brother?  How would we feel about him?  How would our extended family react to the sudden addition?”

Seeking wisdom

Emma decided to use the limited time she had to enlist the advice of experienced friends.  One morning after a church function, she found herself side-by-side washing dishes with an adoptive mother in their congregation.  She articulated her qualms as best she could to her new confidante, who reassured her that she, too, had experienced similar misgivings before their own adopted children had come home.

The words that this kind, gentle woman spoke to Emma over soapsuds and dishtowels stuck with her for years to come. “As we understood God’s love for us and our own adoption in Christ, adopting children became a no-brainer! Our mental barriers to adoption were removed and it became an outworking of what we believe – ‘We love because He first loved us’ (1 John 4:19) and Ephesians 5:5-6 – ‘In love He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will— to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One he loves.’” The truth and conviction of scripture washed over Emma like warm water cleansing a clouded glass.  Suddenly she could clearly see God’s big picture when it came to adoption.

 The unspoken fears

The woman at the sink continued, confessing that she, too, had wrestled with similar fears about her adopted children.  Then she concluded, “Ultimately, we realised that God would have prepared this child for us from before conception – because that’s how sovereign He is!  So we needed to trust that He had the child picked for us and wouldn’t give us anything we couldn’t trust and depend on Him for. Also, there were no guarantees that our biological children would be perfect -they may well have inherited some biological imperfections from us.  In the same way, our children by adoption may not have our genetic physical impediments like needing glasses or having eczema!  We would love and care for whoever God gave us.”

God Himself had adopted Emma into His eternal family, on the pure basis of His amazing grace, and not because of anything whatsoever that she had done to earn or deserve it.  He hadn’t chosen her or set His love upon her because she was loveable – she knew in her heart of hearts that Romans 5:8 was true: “…God demonstrated His own love for us in this – that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Yet what would it take for Emma and Dave to set aside their nervousness about the future to wholeheartedly imitate the sacrifice that God had made for them?  Was it even possible?  Again, another portion of scripture popped into Emma’s mind as she weighed out the pros and cons: ‘…with God all things are possible’ (Matthew 19:26).

Moulding and shaping

Feeling as though they were indeed making the right decision, Emma decided to phone one more friend, who had very recently welcomed a one-year-old boy into her home in addition to their two other biological children.  When Emma asked how it was going, the friend replied honestly, “We have felt God’s sovereignty in so many details helping to reassure us that the boy we have is just the boy God wanted us to have, which has given us the strength to cope with the early challenges and up-and-down emotions. By the grace of God, our feelings are slowly but surely catching up with our commitment!”

As soon as Emma shared the news with her friend about their decision to adopt, her friend was ecstatic, but she did offer this advice: “Remember that God is our heavenly Father who has good purposes for our lives, to make us more like Jesus – trust His sovereign hand and be willing to be moulded!” Upon hanging up the phone, Emma felt as though she was ready for whatever God had planned for their family.

The next day, Dave landed in a similar conversation with another dad, while pushing kids simultaneously on the park swings.  The topic again turned to the unknowns, and the Christian man with whom Dave was conversing laid it out, plain and simple.  “Look,” he said frankly.  “It’s not your sense of noble duty to society that’s going to get you out of bed at two o’clock in the morning when the kid is crying after a bad dream.  It has to be – it can only be – for the sake of the gospel.”

Dave considered these words of advice thoughtfully, grateful for the wealth of experience of another Christian brother who had already walked the densely crowded path that lay before him. But what if it turned out to be a disaster?  What if it was all just a big mistake?  No, they had to do it.  After all, they had the privilege of having Christ in their hearts and in their homes.  It would be selfish to keep Him to themselves. But surely they could rather just volunteer their time at an orphanage every Saturday?  Surely that would make a difference, right? It would make a difference, but as another parent had reminded them, “discipleship takes place in the home.”  How could they pass up this opportunity to live out the love of Christ on a daily basis to a child who might not otherwise be exposed to the gospel?

Part of the family

Four days later, through no small feat of God’s provision, they met their new son for the first time.  Both Emma and Dave were overwhelmed by the way they felt when they held their new baby in their arms for the first time.  A few days later, Dave confided to Emma, “It felt the same as it did when I first held the other two kids after they were born!”  “For me, too!” Emma agreed.   The early weeks were difficult, but the Lord was gracious. Dave and Emma were amazed by the way their church family rallied around them during this time, providing an abundance of supplies, resources and support.  The moms and tots group which Emma was a part of even threw them a surprise “Welcome Party,” in lieu of a regular baby shower. There were numerous challenges, and Emma found that she had to rely on the Lord’s grace more than ever before – and yet the blessings outweighed the trials.

Months later, Emma stumbled upon a wonderful book called Adopted for Life by Russell Moore.  In the first chapter of the book, Emma read, “Not everyone is called to adopt. No one wants parents who adopt children out of the same sense of duty with which they may give to the building fund for the new church gymnasium. But all of us have a stake in the adoption issue, because Jesus does. He is the one who tells us his Father is also ‘Father to the fatherless’ (Ps. 68:5). He is the one who insists on calling ‘the least of these’ His ‘brothers’ (Matt. 25:40) and who tells us that the first time we hear His voice, He will be asking us if we did the same.”

Emma closed the book and considered all of the people who had poured into their own lives before, during and after the adoption process.  Without a second thought, she realised, “Yes.  Adoption is something that everyone can support and be a part of, whether they actually adopt or not.”

Author note: This article is comprised of a compilation of experiences and quotes from several real-life adoptive families in South Africa.

This article was published in Radiant’s Jan/Feb 2013 issue. Read the sidebars, including what couple Aaron and Nichole Marshall learnt about God through the adoption of their son Zurich from Ethiopia, on page 21.

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Radiant Magazine January/ February 2013

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How to add some spark to your marriage…and avoid “the dragons”

Q: My husband and I love each other very much, but we’re going through a time of apathy. We just don’t feel close to each other. Is this normal, and is there a way to bring back the fire?

A: This happens sooner or later in every marriage. A man and woman just seem to lose the wind in their romantic sails for a period of time.

Their plight reminds me of seamen back in the days of wooden vessels. Sailors in that era had much to fear, including pirates, storms and diseases. But their greatest fear was that the ship might encounter the doldrums. The doldrums was an area of the ocean near the equator characterized by calm and very light shifting winds. It could mean certain death for the entire crew. The ship’s food and water supply would be exhausted as they drifted for days, or even weeks, waiting for a breeze to put them back on course.

Well, marriages that were once exciting and loving can also get caught in the romantic doldrums, causing a slow and painful death to the relationship. Author Doug Fields, in his book Creative Romance, writes, “Dating and romancing your spouse can change those patterns, and it can be a lot of fun. There’s no quick fix to a stagnant marriage, of course, but you can lay aside the excuses and begin to date your sweetheart.” In fact, you might want to try thinking like a teenager again. Let me explain.

Recall for a moment the craziness of your dating days – the coy attitudes, the flirting, the fantasies, the chasing after the prize. As we moved from courtship into marriage, most of us felt we should grow-up and leave the game-playing behind. But we may not have matured as much as we’d like to think. In some ways, our romantic relationships will always bear some characteristics of adolescent sexuality. Adults still love the thrill of the chase; the lure of the unattainable; excitement of the new and boredom with the old. Immature impulses are controlled and minimized in a committed relationship, of course, but they never fully disappear.

This could help you keep vitality in your marriage. When things have grown stale between you and your spouse, maybe you should remember some old tricks. How about breakfast in bed? A kiss in the rain? Or re-reading those old love letters together? A night in a nearby hotel? Roasting marshmallows by an open fire? A phone call in the middle of the day? A long stem red rose and a love note? There are dozens of ways to fill the sails with wind once more.

If it all sounds a little immature to act like a teenager again, just keep this in mind: in the best marriages, the chase is never really over!

Q: Would you identify some of the major “marriage killers” that are most responsible for the high divorce rate that plagues today’s families?

A: Any one of the following “dragons” can rip a relationship to shreds if given an opportunity to do so:

• Overcommitment and physical exhaustion: This condition is especially insidious for young couples who are trying to get started in a profession or in school. Do not try to work full-time, have a baby, manage a toddler, fix up a house, study and start a business at the same time. It sounds ridiculous, but many young couples do just that and are then surprised when their marriages fall apart. The only time they see each other is when they are worn out!

• Excessive credit and conflict over how money will be spent. Pay cash for consumable items or don’t buy. Don’t spend more on a house or a car than you can afford, leaving too little resources for dating, short trips, baby-sitters, etc. Allocate your funds with wisdom. • Selfishness: There are two kinds of people in the world, the givers and the takers. A marriage between two givers can be a beautiful thing. Friction is inevitable for a giver and a taker. But two takers can claw each other to pieces within a period of weeks.

• Unhealthy relationships with in-laws: If either the husband or wife have not been fully emancipated from the parents, it is best not to live near them. Autonomy is difficult for some mothers and fathers to grant.

• Unrealistic expectations: Some couples come into marriage anticipating rose-covered cottages, walks down primrose lanes and unmitigated joy. There is no way a marriage between two imperfect human beings can deliver on that expectation.

• Space Invaders: My concern is for those who violate the “breathing room” needed by their partners, quickly suffocating them and destroying the attraction between them. Jealousy is one way the phenomenon manifests itself. Another is a poor self-concept, which leads the insecure spouse to build a cage around the other. It often suffocates the relationship. Love must be free and it must be confident.

• Sexual frustration and its partner, the greener grass of infidelity. It is a deadly combination!

• Business collapse. Failure in work does bad things to men, especially. Their agitation over financial reverses sometimes sublimates to anger within the family.

• Business success: It is almost as risky to succeed wildly as it is to fail miserably in business. King Solomon wrote: “Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread” (Proverbs 30:8). It’s true.

• Alcohol and substance abuse: These are notorious killers, not only of marriages but also of the people who indulge excessively.

• Pornography, gambling and other addictions: It should be obvious to everyone that the human personality is flawed. During an introductory stage, people think they can tamper with various enticements, such as pornography, gambling, hard drugs, etc., without being hurt. Indeed, many do walk away unaffected. For some, however, there is a weakness and vulnerability that is unknown until too late. Such people then become addicted to something that tears at the fabric of the family. This warning may seem foolish and even prudish to my readers, but I’ve made a twenty-year study of those who wreck their lives. Their problems often begin in experimentation with a known vice and ultimately ends in death . . . or the death of a marriage.

These questions and answers are excerpted from books authored by Dr. James Dobson and published by Tyndale House Publishers.  Copyright 1997 James Dobson, Inc.  All rights reserved.  International copyright secured.

This article is with kind permission from Focus on the Family Africa. Copyright © 2011 Focus on the Family. Tel: +27 31 716 3300 or visit www.safamily.co.za.

Read the article in the Nov/Dec issue of Radiant magazine on page 31.

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Festive nibbles

Rosemary water biscuitsChristmas is a time of giving and sharing and thankfulness (and of course the birth of a rather important person). Most people celebrate with some sort of Christmas style dinner or lunch, whatever religion they belong to. Generally the meal will have some sort of meaty centre stage, roasted veggies of sorts and sauces, stuffings and puddings.

However, before the feasting begins, there are the entrees and the nibbles which come before. These, very often, are not homemade, because the cook needs to devote time to slaving over the golden turkey!

These snacky things can range from pies, pastries, cakes and tarts to nuts, cheeses, dried fruit and salty things. More often than not these little snacks are pretty filling in themselves and quite high in fat, sugar and salt.

If you want to avoid feeling bloated over the festive season (and consequently not having to make that New Year’s resolution to lose holiday season poundage) try your hand at making some of these snacks.

Switch to making your own water biscuits and avoid the over-salted and high cholesterol biscuits and pies.

Spice your own nuts to guarantee freshness and nutritional value.

And lastly learn to make Christmas caramel popcorn, with the fraction of the amount of fat found on store bought caramel corn.

Rosemary water biscuits

Makes 25 – 30 biscuits

Biscuits and cheese form a large part of my family’s take on Christmas snacks.

These biscuits are very easy to make and can be made into any shape you want.

They can be kept for two weeks in an airtight biscuit tin.

I used Rosemary in these; you can also use fresh thyme, or lavender, finely grated parmesan or mature cheddar cheese, or spices such as chilli, paprika, nutmeg etc.

  • 200g cake flour
  • a large pinch of baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons fresh or 1 tsp dried rosemary, finely chopped.
  • 50g butter, cubed
  • 8T cold water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt flakes


Preheat oven to 180°C.

Place the flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl.

Cut the butter into small pieces, and rub it into the flour.

Add the finely chopped or crumbled rosemary.

Add the water, and mix to form a dough.

Roll the dough out very thinly – about 3-5mm, and cut into squares, or use a cutter for shapes.

Place the biscuits onto a tray, and bake until lightly browned – from 5 – 10 minutes depending on size.

The biscuits will harden when they cool.

Top with your choice of toppings and serve immediately.

Suggested toppings:

Smoked snoek paté and rocket

Pepper ham and Ina Paarman’s peach and apricot chutney.


Festive nibbles

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Looking in the mirror…

A friend comes to you in tears.  She has had a rough week, and everything seems to have climaxed as she pours out her emotions on your shoulder and seeks your support and encouragement.  “Nobody likes me,” she sobs.  “I’m too shy.  Whenever I’m around other people, nobody even notices me.  I’m too much of an introvert and will never be popular.  My self-esteem is non-existent.”

How do we, as Christian women, help a friend at a time like this?  What is at the root of her problem?

Would it be in her best interest for us to try to boost her view of herself?  Would we be doing our friend a service to make her feel better about herself for the time being, or would that only be a temporary plaster that would inevitably come off in a day or two?

Let’s be honest, most of us have experienced a similar situation, haven’t we?  If not with a friend, perhaps we’ve even had similar thoughts and feelings ourselves. I know I’ve had days when I haven’t received a single e-mail or text message on my phone, and the temptation is there to mope about it and think to myself, “Nobody is thinking about me today.”  But is it really about me?

Sugar-sprinkled egos

Sadly, even in Christian circles recently, the pattern has been to focus on self rather than God, even if it is in subtle, sometimes unnoticeable ways. But where does this notion come from?  Is it a biblical mandate, that we should sprinkle sugar on top of each other’s egos? In actual fact, the term ‘self-esteem’ only became popular as a result of the rise of psychology in the 1960’s.  Now it’s a household term.  Schools have entire curriculums based around the so-called importance of thinking highly of oneself. But even in the church, we have fallen for the scam.  After all, don’t we all long to be built up, to be admired, to be made to feel worthy?

What’s your status?

Take Facebook, for example.  Facebook is fantastic, I love it – but it has its pros and cons.  It’s an amazing way to stay in touch, to see photos, to encourage one another. But isn’t there always the temptation to update our status in a way that will draw attention to ourselves?  We want to be loved, to be noticed, to be liked. We post about how miserable we’re feeling, either physically or emotionally, so that people will feel sorry for us and make us feel better about ourselves through public gushing.  We post about how terrible our day has been so that our ‘friends’ will build us up and tell us that tomorrow will be better.

I know I’ve done it.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve waited for my husband to come home from work so I could nudge him to notice my hard work and accomplishments of the day. As a family of five, our dirty laundry basket is almost never empty.  So on the rare occasion that I actually do conquer the mountain of smelly socks and grass-stained pants, I want to be sure that he notices, so he can say, “Wow, well done!”  (Okay, I’ll admit that there may have been one occasion where I even posted my accomplishment on Facebook.)  But why?  So people will commend me?  So I can get an emotional pat on the back?  In truth, yes.  I want to feel like I’m doing my job as a stay-at-home mom well, that my efforts actually pay off and don’t go unnoticed.

But is that really what I need?  Do I need to feel better about myself?  How much do I rely on the comments and approval of others to boost my self-esteem? Is our view of ourselves determined by the way the world sees us, or do we look at ourselves through the lenses of God Himself, according to the truths of His Word?

Please continue reading the rest of this article in Radiant’s Nov/Dec issue on page 19.