No Shame

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“The parent’s chief care is, that that which they supply shall be wholesome and nourishing whether in the way of picture books, lessons, playmates, bread and milk, or mother’s love.”  Charlotte Mason

I was speaking this morning to a small group of employees and volunteers at a local Christian charity; they’d asked me to come in and share for thirty minutes or so at their weekly day time church gathering.

As part of my introduction I mentioned that I spend my days home educating my four children; I went on to take the session and enjoyed spending those moments sharing life with this lovely group of people.

At the end of my session we prayed, I was applauded and thanked but from the corner of the room I spotted three pairs of wise eyes wanting to grab my attention. Sat around a table near to where I was stood were two retired teachers and a husband of one who also was intrigued by my passing introduction as a ‘home schooling mum’.

For the next twenty minutes or so as kind workers cleared our table of coffee cups and plates with remaining uneaten bits of bacon sandwich they threw question after question at me about ‘how that works’. By my estimation these beautiful souls were born in the 1940’s, they reflected on how they handled a classroom of forty plus disciplined students singlehandedly in their teaching days who knew the consequence of a slipper or cane if they fell out of line.

I passionately spoke of our home educating journey, our days, our rhythm and our philosophy; they almost tried to bedazzle me with the ‘socialisation’ issue but I was armed with years of wisdom (and quick answers) that left them smiling.

One of the gentlemen asked how I taught my children about music and art of which I’m sure he didn’t expect me to answer “yes, we study a different composer and artist every six weeks”; he revelled in our dwelling on habits, character and memorisation and went on to recommend various lesser know but impressive galleries in a nearby city.

About 10 years ago I was sat amongst a gathering of women, I guess a kind of discipleship group with women at a similar age and stage of life as I was. One of the ladies in the room had started her home school journey and was being challenged on her decision; I felt for her as she fumbled through an explanation of where they were at but ended with “I realise my children are missing out in certain areas”. I didn’t know much back then but that answer just didn’t seem  quite right. The UK has come a long way since then, in most area’s in the country it doesn’t have to be such a lonely journey. Despite my recent audience not being very aware of the growth within home education, most people have either heard of someone or know someone who educates their children at home.

As I smiled my way through my answers, drew my wise new friends in with my joy I realised the deep work God had done in my life over these past eight years of homeschooling my children. I was confident in my convictions, reassured in the pedagogy and philosophy of our learning days and encouraged by the fruit I see in my children every day.

There is no shame in choosing the road less travelled; there’s something quite therapeutic about relaying our journey to new listeners, I don’t get involved in debate or argument about whether we made or are continuing to make the right choice but I’m happy to share our story.

It’s a story of adventure, intrigue, surprise, hard work and I most definitely anticipate a happy ending!

Maybe this summer is a good time to refresh and remind yourself of where your home schooling story began.

The Struggle Is Real – Sunday Morning Mothering!

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Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! Psalm 95:6 

One from the 2015 archives; I was reminded of the importance of it again during worship this morning.

I’m calling out to every Sunday morning mother who has thought ‘why do I bother coming?’

Roughly calculated I reckon I’ve been in around 1,925 Sunday morning church meetings in my lifetime! Different experiences, all unique, imperfect and incredible. From living rooms in Coventry to lavish orthodox gatherings in Athenian buildings, I’ve met with my Father, been loved on, welcomed and caught another glimmer of the many faceted God through each unique pocket of people.

I believe in the gathering of God’s people; whether large or small, coffee shop or school hall, community is important. There’s something so real, so vibrant, so holy when we embrace the potential of God’s company of lovers lavishing praise, honour and affection upon Him, together.

This passion for the Church has grown in me, been nurtured and drawn out of me by those near and far. This ‘I.can.not.keep.silent.’ cry from my heart lingers in the air through each season of my life, and it looks different year to year. Forming, changing and emerging like the magnificent monarch leaving its cocoon.

And this passion wasn’t left in the delivery room when God brought my children into His world. The call and ‘spoken out’ adventure over my life didn’t expel like a final breath as Dave cut the umbilical cord separating each of our four children from their 9 month life source. If anything it became greater.

So I’m calling out to every Sunday morning mother who has thought ‘why do I bother coming?’

I need you to see the worth and the power in connection; whether finger tips touching or group hugging affection. Life source to power force we’re ultimately entwined; spirit binding, commonality finding, to you I am assigned.

I know that Sunday after Sunday is an epic tale of ‘get up and out’ and success is marked by your children wearing matching socks. You get home and realise you didn’t speak to one person, your three year old was hanging from your leg and getting tangled up in your stretchy wrap encasing the baby who has been feeding constantly since 10.30am. Missing naps and endless snacks mark your day of rest but mama I know you’re doing your best.

I know how ‘worship’ can be an endless cacophony of  ‘shhhh’s’ and rushes to the nearest convenient spot to place the potty because life doesn’t stop on a Sunday. As you lift your arm to ‘surrender all’ you’re hit by a crayon and the loose lidded sippy cup takes another fall.

And I also see your little one snuggle in close as you sing and sway, arms aching – heart swelling. I see you pull in your distracted eight year old and ruffle his hair as he mumbles the words from the screen. I see your tears as God reaches into the depths of your longing soul and continues to make you whole.

I need you to know that motherhood shapes a generation, it breathes life into our changing culture and form beyond this local congregation.This is not just a passing season and a quest to stay alive; this is our day and our moment to thrive.

I want to shout loud like a cheerleader declaring victory, ‘you’re doing amazing’. I need to tell you it’s all ok and we’re all walking this together; the stress, the mess and this seeming test; you’re not alone. I want to look into your face and tell you we need you. The Church needs your ache, your tired eyes, your listening heart, your warm smile, your incredible strength and tenacity, the Words He whispered to you at 3am, the song in the shower and what you’ve been bursting to share for the last hour.

So the next Sunday you spend sipping on cold tea and clearing up the polystyrene cup your five year old just shredded, look around at those who love and celebrate you…oh and make sure your coffee is fully leaded!

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!

No Shame In Being The Same! Ordinary Girl Speaks Out…

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In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they are still beautiful – Alice Walker

I love the hashtag #nothingisordinary; it speaks of detail, insight and beauty from the most overlooked things in life. I can easily hashtag a fallen leaf, a ticked off ‘to do’ list or completed pile of folded laundry (certainly not ordinary) but can we hashtag ourselves?

I grew up in a peaceful home in Yorkshire with God fearing parents who loved and nurtured my siblings and I all the same. I am the middle child; sister of an outgoing, bold and brilliant older brother and an incredibly talented, creative and feisty little sister. I was happy, content but just went with the flow of my ‘ordinary’ life. I was never a high achiever, pretty average across the board really, but scraped the exam results I needed to get me through to the next phase of education. I loved to sing and was part of the choir; I remember eagerly anticipating a performance that we had worked hard towards, on the day of the concert our soloist fell ill and the choir master needed a stand-in to do her part. I knew it well and had good singing ability, but they went with Claire, the head-girl at the time, because she could ‘project’. Fortunately my parents and my faith had instilled a strong spirit – I still sing to this day (smile) #quietgirlswins

I was never the prettiest, the thinnest or the trendiest girl; I discovered make-up later into my teens, finally got through my Gloria Estefan perm stage and only once wore my brothers jeans for a ‘non-uniform’ day because he was trendy (I was a bit before the times with the ‘boyfriend’ jeans trend).

I didn’t grow up in the world our children are facing today; I didn’t scroll through the daily outward expectations of society before breakfast but we all faced peer pressure, even without Pinterest. It’s not that different now, just deeper.

But I was ok with ‘ordinary’. I was ok because I knew a hidden work was taking place; it was whispered to me daily. I stayed close to His heart.

I was shy an untapped introvert with a deep developing soul life, I was loved, encouraged and actually, I never felt ordinary.

In Annie Dillard’s ‘Pilgrim at Tinker Creek‘ she intricately describes her 25 cent goldfish swimming around in his bowl on her desk as she writes. She unfolds the cellular make-up and the God formed gills of this very normal life form that lives in thousands of homes across the globe. Dillard’s description is a beautiful example of honing in on the ordinary and revealing the wonder.

And isn’t that what God does? He pays attention to the intricate design of who we are and what we’re made of; He fully and mindfully forms the finite detail of our lives.

Psalm 139 shouts louder than the screams from our screens; those words turn our wailing to wonder. He wants us to hear the click click click of those knitting needles that patterned our purpose and stitched our soul, but it doesn’t sound like the clash of metal on metal, it sounds like a heartbeat. His heartbeat.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb

So I’m sure that ‘ordinary’ isn’t a word that God ever uses to describe His kids but I know that He uses ordinary people in extraordinary ways.

You’re an ordinary wonder, created and to be celebrated; used and fused with the life YOU live and love.

So I guess it’s true, nothing is ordinary, and neither are you.

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Col 3:2

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…

My Year Of Paying Attention!

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To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work – Mary Oliver

Happy New Year to all those who spare a moment to click across to my space here on the big wide web; I appreciate your support, encouragement and friendship, both spoken loudly in real life or quietly whispered through your comments.

I pray that you’re able to embrace 2016 with hope and expectation; may it be a year of great opportunity, boundless strength and abundant joy!

You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.
Psalm 65:11

I generally face the new year with scribbled notes, quiet contemplation and a spider diagram of how I envision this coming year to look. This year is no exception; I’m busy goal setting and schedule planning to boost the beginning of what will be a great year. I’ve often approached a new year with a specific word or scripture that has delicately marked my path; but this year I’m naming my year, a bit like a banner perpetually hanging over the days and weeks to come. I find that intentionally naming your year, after prayer and process, is an incredible prophetic declaration covering the next 365 6 days of opportunity.

So, 2016 will be my year of ‘paying attention’ – I will be paying attention to my God-given:

  • Passions
  • People
  • Places
  • Pursuits

I’m still processing the details of these; but I’m more and more aware that focus isn’t just honing in on one small space, but it’s more often the art of taking away what shouldn’t be there. I want to pay attention to what God has placed in my path in this season; I want to be content to emerge strong out of that place and establish rich ground for each of these areas of my life, some of that might be practicing the discipline of saying ‘no’ or even moving things out of the room for a while ever.

When we pay attention to something it grows and flourishes; the small things become the big things and the insignificant become magnificent.

I want to focus my attention and set my affection on Jesus – He leads me into all truth and that’s what my heart desires most.

So, have you named your year? What’s the banner over 2016 for you?

 

Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it. – Mary Oliver

 

Owning Your Year – 5 Tips To Getting 2016 Off To A Great Start!

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You will never see the full path. The important thing is to do the next right thing ― Michael Hyatt

December is such an unusual month isn’t it? You want to stay in the story, soak in the spirit of advent and keep a peaceful attitude but we’ve got lists and stuff and shopping and pressure from all corners of our lives. We’re 7 days away from Christmas day, I’m not ‘ready’ (so many shop assistants have asked me that!) but I will be and we’ll make fun memories and eat good food! I’m out of routine, I’m SO not on the Whole30 and I’m secretly longing for new year already!!

I love a fresh start and am excited about 2016; I’m drafting goals, dreaming up ideas for the months ahead and choosing to own my year! But dreaming and drafting won’t change a thing – we need to write it down and do it!

So here are 5 practical tips that you can do over the next 5 days to get you ready for a great 2016.

Day 1 – Clear Your Email

Seriously friends – this will give you wings! Clear the clutter in your in-box, file what you need to file and ditch the rest. Start 2016 with an empty in-box.

Sign up with Unroll me and get unsubscribed from all those billions of companies you’ve given your email address to over the years (I’m embarrassed to tell you how many I had!!)

DO it!

Day 2 – Make Simple Goals

Grab a piece of paper and write a list of ALL the area’s of your life (i.e. church, home management, homeschooling, blog, job etc.); write down ONE THING for each area that you’d like to improve/work on/get better at…just one!

These will form the beginning so some simple goal setting which I’m going to talk about in a post next week – stay tuned!

Day 3 – Fill A Bag – Fill 5!

This one I’m doing with you – take a black bin bag, one a day over the next 5 days and fill it with ‘stuff’ you really don’t need or want. This a pre-Christmas decluttering exercise; donate it, recycle it or throw it but don’t fuss over it AND don’t store in the hallway for the next 5 weeks! Fill the bag and get it out of your house TODAY!

Let’s go!

Day 4 – Pick A Habit, Any Habit 

Doing the same thing at the same time everyday can TOTALLY change your life. Today we’re going to choose something that we can do for 10 minutes a day, just 10 minutes (or less) and decide when in the day you’re going to do this. Maybe it’s drinking a glass of water as soon as you wake up, maybe it’s committing to reading a chapter of a book everyday, maybe it’s choosing to pray for 3 people at 9am every day – be creative, be real, be you, but do it!

No matter how many children you have, how busy your job is, how much you travel or if you have a crazy schedule – we can all find 10 minutes a day to do something!

We become what we repeatedly do ― Sean Covey

So what did you choose?

Day 5 – Name Your Year!

Pray and pick a word, a phrase or a short sentence that will mark out your year. Write it down in various places around the house, journey all areas of your life into that word and live it!

I’ve chosen one for 2016 which I’ll be talking about in a blog post in early January – you’ll have to come back (wink).

Here are a few to choose from if you’re totally lost for words: freedom, intentional, joy, fun, fly, saying no, create…

 Have fun with it!

So what are you waiting for? Put on some Christmas music, grab a bin bag and fill it – then make a cuppa, head over to your computer and clear that noisy in-box…then breathe, breathe deeply!

Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
and he will establish your plans.

Proverbs 16:3

Social Media Straight Talk – ‘Advice To My Daughter’

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As a daughter of the king of kings, your purpose is not to turn heads but to turn hearts toward our Heavenly Father.

Today we’re celebrating the 13th birthday of our brilliant and beautiful first born, Nyah Bethia! We’re celebrating the faithfulness of God, the wonder of a daughter journeying into womanhood and the adventure of finally becoming parents to a teenager after working with and investing in young people’s lives for many many years (we love them).

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On Saturday we threw her a party; surrounded her with friends, family and significant women who have journeyed so far with her. We ate cake from vintage plates, took crazy photo’s, danced to an awesome play-list, my friends shared with her what they would say to their 13 year old selves (that was amazing, one to share another day) but more importantly we prayed, we gathered a circle of sisters around her and prayed over her life.

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I’m not going to linger on my blog today, more celebrating to do – but I wanted to share with you 13 bits of advice that my husband wrote for Nyah alongside the log-in details to her first facebook account; it is brilliant advice for for anyone starting up on social media, or for those of us who have been around for a while – check them out:

“Nyah, welcome to Facebook, here is some fatherly advice for you”

1. Real life is always more interesting. Don’t ever miss a moment for a megabyte.

2. When you feel the pressure to go with the flow of the latest cause, charity or viral “do good” thing make sure you don’t just respond for show. If you really care about it, pray, give, serve and DO Something… remember that the first person you can change is yourself.

3. Celebrate life. It is absolutely fine to share what you do and see and think with others. I don’t expect you to only communicate by carrier pigeon.

4. Some of what you see on social media will try to mess with your head. You will feel that nagging voice come in and tempt you to believe you are not enough. You are enough. You are more beautiful than any photo shopped scantily clad fake model. You are more famous to your friends and family because of your kindness and grace than they will ever be because of the fact that they happen to be in the spotlight for 15 minutes. You will be remembered for who you are long after they will be forgotten for what they did.

5. People are very selective about themselves online. Sorry but it is a fact that some downright lie. I don’t just mean the weirdos who make up false identities and try to befriend you. I mean real people. Don’t judge them. You are only ever responsible for yourself. But don’t be misled into thinking that everyone else has it altogether all of the time. You know your dad well enough to know that he might be brilliant at some things, but he falls apart if he can’t find his shoes in the morning. You won’t ever hear about this online (until today).

6. Authenticity is more important than conformity.

7. If someone adds you as a friend on Facebook, make sure you are their friend in real life.

8. Check your privacy settings

9. Before you ever post a status just to get likes or seek attention if you are feeling sad, scared, upset or worried, you might want to come for a hug from your dad first. Seek your father in heaven.
Then see if you still want to post it. Unless you are upset about your dad. In which case talk to mum. Or follow the usual family protocol involving your little sister.

10. Read your bible more than you read blog posts, statuses and twitter comments about God. Check your sources. And try to ask why they might be posting. Sometimes Christians want to sell their ministry, their ideology or their product and event more than they want to encourage you in Christ.

11. Facebook is an amazing way to encourage people and build connections around the world.

12. Don’t post anything online you wouldn’t say in real life or to someone’s face

13. Have a blast. Live your life. You will always be my daughter. I love who you are offline. Be yourself online.

You can find Dave on Twitter here.

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!

A Reflection On Rest

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“Rest and be thankful.”
― William Wordsworth

I am totally your classic ‘always something to do’ gal; I would have been your nightmare manager at McDonald’s (never actually worked there…I was a Pizza Hut waitress through my university days though) singing gleefully on an early shift ‘if you’ve got time to lean, you’ve got time to clean’ and all that – I’m a little exhausted just thinking about it! My University friend, Claire, would despair at me for never being able to relax and watch a film unless I was doing something else; writing a letter, writing in a journal, making my life goals etc.

A few weeks ago my son, Micah said “Mum, please come and sit with me and watch a film…and DON’T bring your book”. I laughed (cried a little inside) and met his request; we snuggled under a big Mexican blanket (which of course invites other little ones…and the dog) and melted into a film together. After a while Dave appeared at the door after being out, with a look of shock and awe on his face and said “wow, Mum is watching a film with you”!

Okay, okay – it’s not quite my jam to sit and watch any old film,  I really don’t like T.V and I am very intentional with my time – but I have had to learn to add into the baseline (and schedule) of my life a rhythm of rest.

And before you start to feel really sorry for my kids and plan to whip them off to the movies without me; I am with them 24/7 people! We sit with piles of books, we linger over tea and conversation at the table, we walk together and I hold them, kiss their little Boden faces and tell them emphatically that I love them many times a day!

BUT, I am learning to rest on their terms at times. We have a such a mulch of personalities and love languages in our home (moi: INFJ, Acts of service and time come out pretty high on my love tank needs) and as much as I need to be energised and fueled for life, so do my family – with me in the mix!

A few times a week I like to bring them over to my side (insert evil laugh); twice this weekend I planted myself sprawled full length on the sofa with Big Magic in hand and shouted ‘it’s quiet (book) time’! My 4-year-old grabbed a couple of Donaldson classics and found a nook between my body and the sofa we were on and wedged herself in; the dog snuggled on my feet, my husband read the newspaper, my (almost) teen flicked through Spotify on my Kindle Fire to plan her birthday playlist and while Joel napped upstairs Micah adventured through his favourite dinosaur book. I could hear a gentle hum of a child, the flicking of pages, the deep inhale and exhale of a black Bassadore heavy on my feet.

The left-overs remained on the table for a little longer, the dishes were piled up in the kitchen and who knows if anyone had clean underwear for tomorrow; that moment, right there is where I was fully present.

Over the top of Micah’s hum and Sienna’s quiet recitation of ‘The Gruffalo’, I looked up at my husband and said “this is a thousand times better than watching T.V”.

And it was.