Don’t Let Comparison Kill You!

The Braids

An excerpt from ‘Moments On Mothering’ – Reflective inspiration from one mother to another

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I often must sacrifice my own needs and desires for the purpose of giving my children what they need and modelling for them the depths of Christ’s love – Sally Clarkson

I was recently scanning Instagram – I like to read the ‘bio’s’ which tend to reveal what you’d like the world to know about you, to draw you in and win you to their world. Leave it blank, quote Mother Teresa or form a mini Curriculum Vitae – it all speaks. I came across one mother somewhere across the globe who was adamant that she wasn’t going to post ‘pretty pictures of folded laundry’ and luscious lavender trailing across her deck; neither was she going to quote ‘dead people’ but she was going to reveal her #reallife. The thing about that is that I can just look up and see my piles of dishes, unmade beds and unbrushed heads. I can smell the reality of my occasional unkempt life every time someone opens the fridge (it’s no.2 on my ‘to do’ list: clean out fridge) but I use Instagram because I am.

I am who I am – I’m a beauty seeker and treasure keeper; whether that’s in the form of a photo, a quote, a pine cone or a pre-loved coffee cup; I need these layers of simplicity to form in the quiet of my soul. Laundry will always be with us but that sunset that swept you away, that look of elation on your 4 year old’s face when the first snow fell and the page of that book that rocked your world, yes – I’m all about that. I’m all about celebrating the small, the seemingly insignificant; a well-crafted web of words, written or read that forms like a wax seal upon the envelope of another ‘normal’ day.

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We talk about ‘real’ and being authentic; we shout about our messy lives as if we have to prove to each other that these things exist – but mama I know. My day is filled with cleaning up spills, managing their (my) emotions, cleaning up dog mess from the yard, fighting off the temptation to scroll the day away on my phone, playing catch up and recovering from the repercussions of not finishing my ‘to do’ list last week! Yep, I’m there – I know it and I live it.

I am who I am – I’m a beauty seeker and treasure keeper; whether that’s in the form of a photo, a quote, a pine cone or a pre-loved coffee cup; I need these layers of simplicity to form in the quiet of my soul

The fact that I bare my soul through a book and a tea cup is a moment’s glimpse of treasure amongst a measure, of normal and beautiful…I’m not running away from being dutiful.

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My daughters and I have long hair; my eldest daughter likes to show me fancy braids on YouTube and we bumble along attempting to recreate them to some success. I was admiring (following, stalking – call it what you will) a displayer of braids from across the social media airwaves over a period of time and was quite abruptly stopped in my tracks and was shocked by what I discovered; her beautiful, long, blonde, thick, luscious, always looking fabulous locks were FAKE!! I trawled and discovered a video of her attaching her magnificent mane to a pretty average mop and naively sat there with my mouth open yelping “Nyah her hair is fake”, to which she obviously replied “yes Mum, how could you not know?”, to which I replied (mostly to Nyah but somewhat to said YouTuber) “but mine is real”. It’s sometimes messy and thrown up into a top knot, it’s sometimes blow dried and carefully curled, it generally gets in the way. But it’s real.

Mess is real and so is beauty. Unkempt and cluttered is real and yet so is neat and complete.

My favourite social scientist, awesome TED talker and shame researcher Brene Brown says “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it” and we run so much don’t we? We hear our songs in other musicians lyrics, we read our stories in other writers pages, we gaze upon art that came from our heart but we stay in the shadows, hiding under labels of ‘it’s all been done, said, painted or created before’ – but you, you have never been seen. It’s time to get our authentic selves out from under the duvet and step forward as it’s your time too.

We all have a story worthy of being told.

It’s time to stop being afraid of what might be and what could be and who you think you should be. Between the gaps of school runs, chopping onions and polishing taps there’s a dreamer. You’re pushing buggies and forming melodies and imagining words on a page or colours on a canvas or feet gently choreographed in movement to move people and lives and hearts. And if there’s time for this, there’s time for that.

That idea you can’t shake, that recipe you’re pining to bake is real and true. It’s you.

There’s so much of ‘us’ that we set aside for a time, especially in early motherhood, which is good and right because it’s all about sleep reserving and flying mushed food swerving. But stop looking longingly at that woman who’s creating and helping and doing and walking and see yourself as alive and able to do and be, at the right time; authentically and fully. Be you.

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So next time you’re scrolling and aching over a picture of perfectly folded floral napkins or a well kempt 3 year old wearing a floating dress and cute laced boots;  when you click onto Instagram tomorrow and she’s all over it again with her beach views and pastel hues – celebrate with her. That mama has carved some time out of her life just like yours to take a picture, savour a moment and share it with you.

Doesn’t that change our perspective? She’s not trying to portray perfection – she’s choosing a selection of important moments or creations that will mark her life and make her smile.

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Want to read more? Go over to Amazon and download your copy today; don’t miss the great $2.99 (£2.12) sale on now!

 

They’re Watching You!

 

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Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you – Robert Fulgham

 

The following post is an excerpt from ‘Moments on mothering

Who we are and what we say, what we do and how we play out our lives is really important to our children. Every day we influence and greatly impact the little lives in our homes and hearts – but often without even realising the longevity of our loving leadership.

A big part of my life is spent facilitating my children’s learning. We’ve been home educating for almost 9 years and my greatest thrill is seeing my children thrive in their learning, especially when we’re ‘off the clock’. I’m a huge lover of nature study; I frequently point out beauty with authentic awe and wonder on any journey; from picking up milk from the corner shop to a family hike in the Warwickshire countryside.  One of my greatest learning influences is an 18th century educator called Charlotte Mason, she put great emphasis (as many have done since her) on children spending lots of time outside; observing God’s incredible creation and making their own connection with what they see.

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I can often teach and share life with my children but with very little immediate feedback, and then just like that your 18 month old wanders out into the garden and by using baby sign language tells you there’s a ‘bird’ whilst she watches the sparrows tap for worms on the lawn. And just last night I was out in the car with Nyah; she stopped me mid conversation and said “mum, look at the moon; it’s majestic”. It’s not merely that we suggest to our children what’s important to observe and commentate on, but we do it ourselves; we live it, we breathe it, we experience it and they see all.

And what if we saw all of life this way, what if we saw mothering as a plethora of perception, a nullah of noticing and a flowing river of recognition; how we live our life is how they will live theirs. Their lives may take on a different shape, but an oval is just a circle slightly squashed right? We can’t get away from the fact that our children will end up a lot like us.

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The hard thing is seeing the reality of our frailties and imperfection when we were hoping for momentary deflection. But hiding isn’t an option and neither is sitting on that pedestal. Our children need truth telling and wholehearted dwelling. They need to see conflict and wrong actions forgiven. They need blatant veracity and loving tenacity knowing that real is the raw deal but it’s within our capacity to feel and to heal.

I tell my children that I’m hopelessly flawed, very much human and I ask for forgiveness, regularly. The scandal of grace is in my face, every day and I drink it in. There’s no shame in taking the blame for what they do and say, but we have to be quick to forgive ourselves and remember tomorrow is another day.

Robert Fulghum said “Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you”; and as much as I endeavour to daily win my children’s hearts through what I say and what I do, they certainly don’t miss a thing.

Your life and choices are important to your children’s day dreams and life schemes, so you’d better watch your back mama, they’re watching you!

 

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Moments On Mothering – Reflective inspiration from one mother to another by Leah Boden

Staying The Course – Encouragement For The Weary Soul

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What a gift life is to those who stay the course! You’ve heard, of course, of Job’s staying power, and you know how God brought it all together for him at the end. That’s because God cares, cares right down to the last detail.

James 5:11 (MSG)

Whether we’re waiting for spring, enduring a ‘stage’ with one of your children, writing a book or working through a health challenge, there is always an opportunity in each season of life to ‘stay the course’. I find myself saying this repeatedly to young, sleep-deprived mothers and home educating mothers in their early years, I whisper for them to not grow weary in doing good because in due season they WILL reap a harvest of righteousness (Gal 6:9). And it is the habit of remember this and treasuring that truth in our hearts that keeps our feet firm, our naps long and our coffee cups full!

I want to encourage you on this January Monday morning that you CAN do this; the light is in sight and God has given you everything you need to seek out his face through the fog, to take the next step forward and to feel Him breathing hope back into your heart again.

Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you.Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil. Prov 4: 25 – 27

Whatever you’re facing today you can rest assured that God is bigger and is interested in the details of what you’re carrying. The Apostle Paul reminds us in his letter to the church in Philippi not to be anxious about anything but to pray about everything; and there lies your invitation for God to invade your soul with peace, a peace that blows our mind every time, a peace that guards our hearts and our heads. A peace that will never be fathomed, never be explained, never be understood but is just as real as the nose on our face.

A peace that doesn’t eliminate the ‘problem’, but injects hope into our path.

Here are three things that have helped me stay the course and given room for God to graciously guide me through the sticky and the messy and the hard.

Gratitude 

We can’t get enough of this can we? Everyone from Benedictine monks to businessmen are telling us that gratitude is a major key to success and happiness! God has been whispering this to us since the beginning of time, to always be thankful – but His idea of thankful was not about selfish endeavour and personal outcome, it was and is about worship. Turning our hearts to gratitude turns our hearts to Him, it takes our eyes off ourselves and fixes our face on His, and when we look full into His face the things of this world really do go strangely dim. What can you truly thank God for today?

Perspective

My friend often uses the phrase ‘first world problem, third world win’ when people complain about their TV breaking or a long queue in the coffee shop; but isn’t it true that so many things we get anxious or stressed about, when given a bit of perspective, lift and fade in importance! I’m not saying that what you’re facing today isn’t real or hurting you but I’ve found (and I guess it links to gratitude) that when I consider those ‘worse off’ my perspective changes, I pray for them, my focus changes and heart is lighter.

So when you’re exhausted and up in the night for the fifth time breastfeeding your hungry nursling remember the couples who are longing and praying for children; whose wombs, hearts and hands are longing for a baby of their own and turn your cries to calls of hope and breakthrough for them.

Community

And finally – don’t go at it alone. So often when we’re struggling and we’re deep in the murky mire of life we want to run and isolate ourselves. I know this for real, both personally and as  a church pastor, I see it all the time. But it never helps. Get around those who love and support you and allow God to use His church to help YOU stay the course. God designed us to walk together as a mighty force to be reckoned with. Vulnerability is hard and painful – the enemy loves us to hide in it and stay silent, but God has called us out of the corners and has given us each other, in all our messy mistake making ways, to be there, to hold up each other’s arms and to win this battle.

Give the church a chance – don’t be silent in your story.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Phil 4:6

So, face up today mama, heart to Him – let’s do this!

Ease, Not Squeeze – Start Your Year Well!

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Sienna mastering the mighty ‘S’ yesterday; first day back into the ‘books’ after our Christmas break!

So here we are, 6 days into 2016 and If you’ve clicked on this you’re either reading all the ‘goal’ blog posts you can get your hands on or you’re just really kind and always read my posts (thank you…smile)!

Starting a new year can be a frenzy of change and ‘must do this’ or ‘stop doing that’; even the word resolution screams of failure before we start so why go there? But, I LOVE a new year; I love the fresh feeling and sound of begin again, I love getting back into routine, starting my day with a bounce and entering January with vision and vigor.

I set goals, not resolutions – but I’m pretty resolute about making them happen! I set my sights on what I can achieve in 90 days as a starting point, 12 months is just way too far ahead (and so much pressure) for anyone,  and then I speak a word or phrase over my year.

If you’re a natural list maker/goal setter gal like myself then you’ve probably been busy; but over the years I’ve learnt (and still learning) that too long a list or too high a goal post only results in unfulfilled dreams.

Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible – Tony Robbins

So here are 3 things that I’ve learnt about goal setting that I’m putting into practice in 2016:

  1. Simplify

Write your list (always write them down; you’re MUCH more likely to achieve your goals when they’re down on paper) and then scrub at least two things off it, go on – seriously, scrub them off and then breathe.

2.  Work With What You Know

Avoid starting new ventures every year; set your goals  building upon and strengthening what you started last year (or the year before). God doesn’t change His mind about what He’s got planned for your life – go back to the blueprint and revive those dreams you had this time last year. Life isn’t a sprint, it’s a blooming looooong cross-country race (the word ‘marathon’ evokes images of miles and miles of flat road and there’s not much flat road in my journey, so let’s go with the cross-country analogy hey?), great things take time, don’t give up!

 

The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals – Melody Beattie

 

3.  Do Something Towards Your Goals Everyday, Or Every Week

Work to a plan, break it down and make your goals realistic and part of your daily rhythm, Rome wasn’t built in a day! A friend of mine self-published his first book by committing to writing for 20 minutes a day over a year. Fitness goals can be achieved by starting with a 10 minute daily walk…then building up to that gym membership! Healthy eating goals can be established by changing ONE thing in your diet today (i.e. have eggs instead of cereal for breakfast), reading goals can be conquered by adding to your daily ‘to do’ list ‘read for 15 minutes‘ (that’s what I do as a baseline minimum). We generally fail because we over-achieve, I know because I am that woman!

Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success – Pablo Picasso

 

So where are my fellow goal setters? How do you start your year?

Have you subscribed to my monthly newsletter yet? Check out the box on the right hand sidebar and pop in your details; don’t worry, I won’t spam you, but I will keep you up to date with my writing projects (you’ll be the first to know – wink), giveaways, Periscope projects and others ventures I have planned this year. My prayer also is that the newsletter will bring encouragement and breathe life into your inbox! Sign up today…

To The Mentees And The Mothers – An Open Letter

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If I could have, I would have hand written this note to all of  you with a fine writer and had it posted to your house. Here’s the next best thing.

Dear ones,

Thank you for believing that my journey is worth something, thank you for believing that by taking pieces of my story, it will help yours. Some of the pieces that glisten now were once broken and dull; Jesus has taken them into his wondrous workshop and spent time on them. You’re welcome to those too.

I want to remind you that you’re doing an incredible job, your children play, laugh, come to you for comfort and delight in the joy they bring you. I saw how you smiled at your son and your heart brimmed with love afresh; I know that look, I’ve felt it too. I love how you hold your 6 month old close, wrapped into your body – but I know you cry because some things aren’t perfect.

I’ve loved watching your journey, listened to you talk about the books you’ve read, the people who inspire you, the patterns you want to follow. I cried when I’ve heard of your pain, the loss of  a promise into the ‘old-familiar’ of a hospital where they see it everyday, but to you (and I) it was your baby and you have to wait for heavens hallelujah to embrace that child again. I remember seeing your face, being brave, but swirling inside. I know that feeling. I’ve felt it.

I know you feel you haven’t made the best choices, the right turns or danced to the same beat as your peers. But God. His redemption is now. His mercies are new today. Your strength is renewed in this moment. He is the God of fresh starts, I thank Him for that everyday.

And I hold your baby, giggle with your toddler, tease your teen because they are an extension of you and that is a sign and a wonder. I see the power of your prayers and the torment of the tears you have sown into this week and I praise God for the fruit of your toil, your labour and your longing. The years don’t go so fast when you live them fully. When we’re present in our children’s lives we live every moment.

That can be exhausting. That can be exhilarating.

I know you feel lonely at times. Sometimes even I miss that look amongst the crowd of masked faces. I like it when you take yours off and tell me. And we cry messy tears and make plans to make it better.

There are many inspired moments and methods and ways to do this and that, but I have to show you Jesus, He is the WAY.

There are many stories and successes and picture of grace and beauty; but I have to teach you through His Word. He is the TRUTH.

There are many elaborate celebrations, well-timed snapshots of light, life and creative callings, but life is the stuff we live between the clicking of the camera. Life is what I want to show you. He is the LIFE.

If my journey ever shows you the way, leads you into truth or draws life from your bones, it’s all because of Jesus.

There’s no such thing as super mum.

Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. James 1:17

 

 

 

 

 

 

Displacing Worry For Wonder – A Devotional

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The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything – The Bible

I love God’s Word; it shapes, guides and creates patterns in my life that make me more like Him. The Bible is so far from a dry and irrelevant text, it is living and active, and if you let it do its work in your life it NEVER returns void. Hear it, speak it and allow it to go deep, to sooth your soul, strengthen your spirit and blow upon those glowing God embers in your heart.

We can’t do Christian life without it – so open it today!

Twice a month we gather our Connect group in our home; we sit around cake, tea and God’s Word and share what we see and what He is saying. I not only love this bringing together of community and family but I love seeing one verse come to life before our eyes through simply allowing time and space to talk about it. Conversation is a catalyst.

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I was reminded of one of my favourite verses in the bible, a verse that I live by and put into practice daily, here it is in The Message:

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Philippians 4

This Pauline instruction to the Philippians is poignant and pivotal to our lives and our daily walk. At the end of verse 5 Paul states ‘the Lord is near’, followed by ‘do not worry’. What an incredible statement to surround this whole section of scripture, before we even start talking about your worry and what to do about it, remember, the Lord is near!

The fact that we know that He is near then urges us to follow the next instruction, ‘do not worry’, instead of carrying worry, turn all that emotion and distraction into prayer. I’ve learnt to practice this, I’ve created a devotional default when my heart is heavy. When something is going on in my life that is distracting and dissolving me into a bit of hot mess, I pray. Declaring first that I know He is near, I then pour out everything I’m feeling, carrying and burdened with to my Father God, who loves to listen. And what does He do? He doesn’t promise to fix it, make it all better and resolve it as we would want with our earthly understanding, no – but He does replace our heavy heart with His gift of peace. His overwhelming, life transforming calm that we can’t fathom or start to understand. He allows us to walk in wholeness and freedom with a light heart DESPITE our situation.

He brings calm to our chaos, stillness to our striving and turns our worry into wonder.

Talk to the Father today, open His Word and be transformed.

You are loved.

Loving this song at the moment; may it bless you today!

The War On Insecurity – Our 4 Pronged Attack!

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“There will always be someone willing to hurt you, put you down, gossip about you, belittle your accomplishments and judge your soul. It is a fact that we all must face. However, if you realize that God is a best friend that stands beside you when others cast stones you will never be afraid, never feel worthless and never feel alone.”
― Shannon L. Alder

The signs of a life marked out by God is a life marked out by God; recognising and activating His Word and spirit in our lives, in every situation, every day. Why do we find it easy to pray for our work situations, pray over our children, trust God for our futures but when we’re paralysed by insecurity we lean into it and succumb to the impact on our lives and those around us?

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.; In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Prov 3:5,6

The feeling of insecurity is not wrong, it hits us all at the most surprising times but the test comes in our reaction to that feeling, what are you going to do with the way you are feeling right now?

Here’s the truth girls; we’re not called to feel anything less about ourselves than what God thinks and feels about us. I loved hearing Margaret Stunt talk about this at our women’s conference a couple of years ago; she strongly called us out on ‘insulting’ God on doubting His craftsmanship and creativity, He made us in His image, knitted us together perfectly yet we grumble, doubt and deliberate whether He has done a good enough job. Your Father is the master craftsman; His hands formed you, loved you, shaped you and put His destiny in your heart. You are incredible girl and it’s time to start believing it!

Now, I’m trying to speak beyond learning to love that mole on your cheek or your 5’2″ fully grown stature; a message you may have heard at your youth conference a few years ago (wink); I want to delve into the secret place; the hopelessness, the confusion and the silent sick feeling of I don’t match up to the rest of the world. It’s a lie and it’s time to throw it back in the enemy’s face, stand up straight, eyes on the Father and walk wholeheartedly into this overflowing life you’ve been called to.

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The feeling and sound of insecurity is a ‘voice’; we’ll call it an IV (insecurity voice); it’s not real but it’s often loud, but you girl can silence it and you can practice this today!

Isaiah 54 is our ultimate silencer – learn this scripture and stamp down on that IV; NO weapon, no lie, no crazy soul-destroying voice will rise up against me, it will NOT prosper and it will be shown the way home. We can not live like this any longer; time to blast that IV away!

But no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall show to be in the wrong. Isaiah 54:17

So here is our 4 pronged attack when the IV is loud in our life:

  • Recognise it – call it what it is, even tell a friend “my IV is loud today”
  • Speak to it; (King David did this a lot) – speak to your soul, tell yourself ‘this is not who am, I will not let this affect what I’m supposed to do today and I will not let if affect how I treat the people around me’
  • Apply the Word; it never returns void, it’s living and active and ALWAYS does what it is sent out to do. As soon as you confess God’s Word over your IV, it will flee! Try this list for starters.
  • Pray. Paul, in the book of Philippians instructs to not be anxious, pray about everything and then peace will guard our heart and our mind! Wow – there it is, right there, our tool to not only silence our IV but guard us from it rearing its head again!

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Phil 4:6-7

Check out part 1 of our insecurity series here.

Fighting Insecurity – Time to Win!

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I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. Isaiah 41:9-10

It’s time my friends – I’m calling you out on this business of insecurity and the way it’s eating you up inside everyday. Listen up to mama Leah, I’m 40 now so you have to (smile), pull up a chair, let me fill your coffee cup and let’s talk.

I’m going to break this series into 3 parts so we can process together, learn from God’s Word and make some changes that could radically change our lives!

The raging war against comparison and insignificance is seemingly at its peak right now but we’re about to bring it down; I’m fighting for you, I’m praying for you and this will NOT rule you any longer. Life is too short and too precious to be sapped by insecurity; it’s a total waste of time, energy and attention and it has.to.STOP!

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When you stop living your life based on what others think of you real life begins. At that moment, you will finally see the door of self acceptance opened. ― Shannon L. Alder

I could start by telling you that you’re beautiful, you ARE enough and that God loves you just as you are (all of which are true) but your heart and your head has to believe it. Maybe you’re not at your physical peak right now (wink), maybe you’re at the breastfeeding, three months postpartum phase where nothing fits, everything is hanging out, the babymoon has worn off and you’re lucky if you manage to get a shower never mind blow dry your hair! Maybe you’re heartbroken, beaten down or discouraged by very real situations; being told by me that you’re beautiful by me doesn’t quite hit it does it?

But something has to change! You can’t go on avoiding gatherings where other women are present and you instantly feel intimidated, you can’t allow social media to put you in a stinking, bad mood everyday just because you scrolled your way through someone else’s seemingly ‘perfect’ world, you can’t go on gossiping, quietly seething or judging others on the 1% of their life you just so happened to ‘see’. It’s eating you up and it has to end!

Before I go on, let me let you into a secret; Instagram, Facebook and blogs are mostly snippets of life and loveliness in someone’s day. I genuinely don’t believe that these beautiful daily gallery exhibits are trying to tell you ‘I’m perfect’, they’re sharing soul and creating memories. We all face laundry, tantrums, bad hair days and chaos but it’s too ‘normal’ (and slightly boring really) to tell the world about so instead we choose to photograph the morning light catching the edge of our recovery cup of coffee after we’ve dealt with the second tantrum that day, right?

I genuinely don’t believe that these beautiful daily gallery exhibits are trying to tell you ‘I’m perfect’, they’re sharing soul and creating memories.

There are many real and raw issues in my home and daily dire but you know it because you have them too! Once you remember and believe that about ‘Miss IG’ with her crusty homemade bread and tea cups (totally me, I know I know) then maybe we can move on?

You’ve heard it before, ‘comparison is the thief of joy’ which is true but it’s so much more. Insecurity changes who you are because of how you view yourself, which impacts how you see others, and in turn affects how you treat other people; hurt people, hurt people. Fact!

Insecurity changes who you are because of how you view yourself, which impacts how you see others, and in turn affects how you treat other people.

So before we move on into part 2 and 3 with further insight, some bible and a bunch of top tips here’s a question for you:

What would you (and your day) look like if you weren’t struggling with insecurity?  How would you feel? What would you do? How would you be around other people? What would you achieve?

Write down your answers and come back for part 2 next week; we’re going to talk about how to be the ‘Leading Lady’ in your own life!

Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out – Romans 12: 2 (The Message)

Finding Balance (dispelling the myth)

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“We are not what we know but what we are willing to learn.”
― Mary Catherine Bateson

So  maybe this is all a matter of semantics, but I’m pretty sensitive when it comes to language; I’m aware of the impact words have on the way we see and live out our very precious lives.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading, research and periscope viewing around issues of time management and organisation; I’m always looking to tweak my methods and shape my very full life more effectively. I’ve become overly aware of the term ‘balance’ and that as women and mothers we somehow have to find it!

When I picture balance I see me walking with a horizontal pole in my hand walking a very fine line (high in the sky) with the possibility of falling off at any one time. That’s not how I want to live my life.

So please excuse me as I process with you and share my developing thoughts on this motherhood ‘myth’ of balance over a couple of blog posts. Are you in?

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As for me, I am in your hands, do with me as you think best – Jeremiah 26:14

I guess I want to change and challenge the language we use; I want us to consider our journey with God in the fact that He brings us to a wide and spacious place to move, dance and shape our lives with our eyes fixed on Him, the author and perfecter of our faith.

…keep on doing what we told you to do to please God, not in a dogged religious plod, but in a living, spirited dance –  1 Thessalonians 4: 1-3

When Isaac was redigging the wells (Gen 26); after many miles, attempts and arguments they finally dug a well without any dispute and Isaac named the well ‘Rehoboth’ and declared “at last the LORD has created enough space for us to prosper in this land.”

God wants you to move, flourish and prosper in His plan for your life; the question is not ‘can I find balance’, the  question is ‘does this fit in my space right now’. Am I bold enough to put down a dream, an aspiration or additional work for a season because it clearly doesn’t not fit in the space God has given me?

Let’s imagine our life as a room; a big beautiful well designed one at that, and place into your room all that you’re working on, involved in and responsible for at this time. How does it feel? Are you squashed mama? Can you move freely in that living, spirited dance? Can you see clearly? No? Then something needs to leave?

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Over my 13 years of mothering I’ve tried to force ‘dreams’ into my space alongside babies, breastfeeding and minimal amounts of sleep; the result? Exhaustion, feeling inconvenienced by normal life and ultimately left me feeling frustrated. In some seasons it took a smack in the face to stop me in my driven tracks and slow down, in others, a gentle reminder from the Holy Spirit of what my priorities were.

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God has expanded my space as my children have got older, yes, I’ve had to rearrange, de-clutter and throw away ‘things’ from my room…but I’m going to tell you more about that next week!

So for now, let’s stop talking about trying to get ‘balance’ – God didn’t intend for your life to feel like a cumbersome package you have to carry whilst tip-toeing along a high-rope. God has brought you today to a wide, open space; a space that you’re able to move in, walk around in and hey even dance in if you dare!

There is more than enough room in my Father’s home – John 14:2

Swallow or Red Arrow – Which One Are You?

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Consistently do things at the same time everyday and find yourself a new person. Ann Voskamp

I’m just going to put it out there; I don’t like the term ‘networking’, I don’t! Although I appreciate the need for it in business and commerce, it just speaks of fast and shallow and temporary and a self-filled motive for ‘connecting’ with other human beings. The older I get (smile) the more I appreciate the slow cooked kind of life; the deeply seasoned souls that linger for longer.

I like journey and community and long heart filled conversations that take you past the comfort zone and into that, as C.S Lewis said so well, “what! You too? I thought no one but myself”

“Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .”” C. S. Lewis

Before we left the Lincolnshire show ground recently after an amazing 5 days at the ONE Event I was watching two spectacular displays in the sky; the Red Arrows practicing their routines and a group of swifts gathering before they began their travels back to Africa. As I watched, took photographs and pointed out each spectacular move to my children I was challenged as to which one of those sky dwellers I’d rather be.

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You see, the Red Arrows are fast and noisy and leave cool colourful marks in the sky; they are world-renowned for their displays of precision and excellence and are guaranteed to wow any crowd.  But the things is, they are pretty temporary sky inhabitants, they only travel as far as the eye can see (what would be the point of flying where the crowd couldn’t see you?) and they are mechanical creations flown by men. Once the pilot steps out they are mere metal eye candy for the aircraft enthusiast.

Swifts and swallows take to the sky with grace and dignity; they gather and dance in loops in the skies above our heads throughout the summer and are a common sight in barns across the British countryside.  Swallows inherently know how to take to the skies; they know how to travel together, how to gather before they take the long journey, they have patterns and rhythms of behaviour that mark their lives. They fly beyond our sight and their journey takes them beyond our shores for a season, but we know they will  be back. That speaks to me of beauty and integrity.

We can so often mistake rhythm and routine as mundane, but life on repeat goes deep. I want to pursue a depth of living and loving that goes far beyond the motives of personal appearance and public status; I want to truly say ‘it is well with my soul’.

Life on repeat goes deep

I recently read Emily Bronte’s final words which her sister published as a poem; the opening line is ‘no coward soul is mine’ and it hit me hard. It hit me because on her death-bed she could confidently declare that even to the core of her very soul she was no coward, there was no fear – but that takes work right?

If I’m spending more time on my public appearance, my social status and ‘keeping up with the Jones’s’ my life will only be skin deep; but it’s the moments and seasons in the fringe hours, the quiet corners of prayer, the reading and writing and negative thought fighting, that builds my spirit, ignites my soul and radiates from within; that’s what the world will see, Jesus.

Salt doesn’t have to work to bring taste, light doesn’t have to fight to shine in the darkness, it just does because it’s who it is.

You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colours in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. Matt 5:13 – 16 (MSG)

I want to take to the heights in the midst of community; I want to move in the seasons of God, ordained by Him. I want rhythm and patterns that deepen my years, strengthen my soul and bring light and meaning to the world.

I want to be a swallow, not a red arrow!