My congregation got smaller last year.

I began 2011 working fulltime as the pastor of West Baptist Church in New Plymouth, a place of shelter, faith and laughter, where I was responsible for a lovely, diverse community of people aiming to make a difference in a challenging part of town.  It was my job to help us to listen to God, to become more like Jesus, and make our patch of earth a bit more like the kingdom of heaven.

I ended 2011 working fulltime as the mother of an extremely charming newborn, responsible for … what?  In a while, the two jobs will be more similar, as I help this little boy listen to God, become more like Jesus and make his patch of earth, wherever it is, a bit more like the kingdom of heaven.  But right now, my small congregation of one requires simpler things: milk, cuddles, warm flannels on his posterior, and triple the amount of washing on the line.

So my job for the next little while, and the focus of this blog, is to listen for God’s voice in this very different life, to become more like Jesus in my new role, and to make this household and the community around it a bit more like the kingdom of heaven.

Feel free to join this conversation about the spiritual practice of parenthood on your own terms.  Comment, question, offer your own experiences of listening to God in the challenges and delights of family life.

This month, as we at Kiwi Families focus on the back-to-school transition, I’d love to hear your stories of transition – becoming a parent; guiding kids go through different stages; moving town; losing someone important… where is God to be found in times of change?

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Thalia Kehoe Rowden began 2011 as the minister of West Baptist Church in New Plymouth and ended it as the mother of a charming newborn baby. She's also an awesome parallel parker, a wannabe runner and enthusiastic but rubbish at gardening. She blogs at Kiwi Families on the spiritual practice of parenthood: listening to God as we parent our children, hearing God's voice through them and through the delights and despairs of bringing them up. Thalia also blogs at www.sacraparental.com

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Thalia Kehoe Rowden

Thanks heaps, Mumof3 and Esmee, for joining the conversation.

Something you both touch on: I find it really interesting how we value or devalue parenting as a useful or important thing. The proposed benefit changes regarding paid work, the question of what we ‘full-time parents’ call ourselves, how much our church experience connects with our parenting experience… lots of stuff to think about and talk about, I reckon.  

If anyone has thoughts about topics you’d like to open up here, I’m keen to hear them!


I was at a lovely school today working with a team from the school and community to raise achievement especialy for those learners at risk of underachievement.  The highlight was the visit of a mother of 5 children and her second to youngest child.  They shared their story of making time for each other to work together on a school project which was aimed to help parents become more involved in their child’s learning.  The delight from both of them was magic.  The mother said she thought every parent should have to experience what she had.


 Awesome! I remember having two little ones, aged 3 and 1 years old and reading a book that told me I may not be responsible for a congregation or a manager in a large company but my responsibility as a mum and the role I had in raising my children was every bit as important.  We have little ones and their eyes and ears are watching and learning through everything we do.  And we want to teach our children about the God who loves them. This is actually harder than it sounds.  As our own experience of God and how… Read more »

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