Lifestyle, Parenting

Dear Harry and Meghan

Two days in to being parents, congratulations! The adrenalin is still running, hormones flowing, body aching and heart bursting. You are besotted with your beautiful boy and cannot bear to take your eyes of him for fear of missing something. Netflix has nothing on watching a newborn sleep.

Any parent will tell you that raising children is the most exhilarating and exhausting, beautiful yet bewildering role they have ever had. Being a mother was, and still is, my greatest ambition and my greatest achievement. But it has not been without its challenges, namely around maternal mental health, which was overcome with a lot of love, faith, prayer and communication.

I want to encourage you both that you have a winning formula to start your new role as parents. When we watch you in public, we see warmth, love and respect, a genuine affection for one another that overrides the world around you. This love, this bond is your greatest source of strength as you navigate your new normal.

To any new parents I say this; keep checking in on each other. Sleepless nights can strain solid marriages, teething tests a mother’s bond to breaking point and tantrums can make the most patient parent tear their hair out. These seasons of motherhood are messy and miraculous.

It’s normal to find the days long and the nights longer. It’s natural to go into survival mode as the days blur from one to another in the early weeks and months. My advice to all new parents is to keep looking at one another. Keep locking your gaze and speaking words of love, encouragement and understanding through your eyes in the way that only couples can. Talk often and openly about everything and anything.

Be patient with each other, hold hands, hold your tongue and hold on for the ride. And above all, trust God as you embark on the best role there is.

Enjoy every minute.

R x

Photo Credit: Chris Allerton ©️SussexRoyal
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Faith, Lifestyle

Loving me

Love. Love is a many splendid thing. I can sprinkle love like confetti wherever I go, with a smile, a laugh, a hug or a gift. But loving me? I find that incredibly challenging.

I can give advice to a friend, help her with decisions, encourage her in a new venture and tell her she looks beautiful. But I can then go back home and rip strips off myself. You aren’t good enough. You aren’t strong enough. You aren’t liked enough. You aren’t successful enough. If I heard you talk yourself down like that I would take your face in my hands and plead with you to see your worth, your value, your beauty. But me? Not so much.

Why do I do it? Is it because I am British and ridiculously modest, or it is because on some level, I genuinely think I’m not good enough?

It seems so much easier for us to give love rather than receive.

No one wants to blow their own trumpet, but I think that self-love struggles are down to a lot more than self-deprecating humility. I blame a lot of things. Firstly societies perpetual need for perfection plays a major role. That coupled with celebrities splashed across social media and broken families can leave us in a spin. We are living in a reality TV bubble that is not real life, trying to Keep up with the Kardashians, then wondering why we are floundering. Constant pressure to be, to do, to achieve weighs us down. We either spend our weeks keeping up appearances on Instagram then hiding away at weekends, or we live wildly and extravagantly on Saturday and Sunday, then spend the week eating beans on toast.

We think we need to be seen a certain way, we need to do a certain thing, and then we will have joy, happiness and success. But the truth is that the only way to feel true happiness is to love yourself.

The only way to feel true happiness is to love yourself.

Loving yourself means embracing your idiosyncrasies; the figure on the scales, the wrinkles around your eyes and the moles across your back. It means seeing your insecurities and recognising them as beautiful vulnerabilities. It means learning something from mistakes, rather than dismissing them as failures.

Loving me isn’t easy. But it is a journey I have started and am committed to staying on for the long haul. If I don’t speak kindly to myself, if I don’t look after my body and carry myself with grace, how can I expect my children to do so? I look at my beautiful babies, each wonderfully unique, with awe, excited for their future. But they are already self-criticizing at ages 5 and 9. When I hear them say, ‘I’m so dumb’ or ‘I look stupid’ it breaks my mama heart.

That’s how God sees you. When you say I am too fat, too thin, too old, too young, too thick, too scared, His Father heart breaks. He sees beauty, wonder, creativity, humility, gentleness, kindness, goodness and boldness. I imagine God swooping down, taking my face in His hands and saying, ‘Baby girl, you are everything I created you to be, you are fearfully and wonderfully made. I know every hair on your head and every word on your tongue. I have a purpose and a plan for you.’

When I find loving me too hard, I don’t try, I just let God.

He designed me just as I am, my perceived flaws are His fingerprints, my imperfections His indentations. I am not a failure, and I am not an accident. I am loved by God unconditionally, and you are too.

R x

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Parenting

You make it possible

Wednesday is my favourite day of the week. Why? Because it is a downhill slide on your backside to the weekend! Anyone who is parenting one small person (or multiples if you are truly reckless like me) will know that when your other half walks through the door on a Friday you can finally relax knowing that no longer are you the only source of entertainment / food / drink / discipline in the house.

To all the Dad’s, Step Dads, partners and parents of stay at home or self-employed moms; we salute you.

You make it possible to face another day of refereeing bickering boys and darling divas. You make coffee. Seriously, this is better than diamonds for most mommas! (OK maybe not quite). You make it possible for us to cook a reasonable dinner once or twice a week while you entertain the masses. You make it possible for us to resist cracking open a bottle of Pinot Grigio before 7pm (just).

But, more importantly, because you are working all the hours of the day (and night) you make it possible for us to do the school runs and wish our babies a great day as we wave them on. You make it possible for us to sit in assemblies with tear-soaked tissues as we watch our little one make their stage debut. You make it possible for us to cheer them on at sports days and you make it possible for us to be at home to mop fevered brows and give cuddles on demand when needed.

Children need their mommas, whether that is a birth mom, step-mom, foster mom, adoptive mom or spiritual mom. To be a full-time parent often requires a full-time salary sacrifice, and this usually has to be made up for somewhere else, be that benefits, partners or your own parents.

Being a full-time parent often requires a full-time sacrifice

To other halves everywhere, and especially to my own, thank you for enabling me and other mommas like me to raise our babies at home. Thank you for then coming home to take some of the load off us, despite having had a crazy week yourselves. Whether  we are juggling diapers or deadlines, you are our constant source of love, support, encouragement, guidance and strength. On the days when we can’t go on, or flat-out just don’t want to, it is your hand that pulls us up, dusts us down and sets us on our way again.

You make it possible.

We couldn’t do it without you, and quite frankly we wouldn’t want to.

R x

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Faith, Parenting

To moms who need their moms

I just read a beautiful instagram post where a new mom honoured her own mother. Her simple statement read; “when Mom arrives and everything’s OK again”, and the deep vulnerability in this heart offering brought tears to my eyes.

Being a mother is such a magnificent, messy miracle. As a mom, I get to hold my babies every day, to kiss their sweet faces, to breathe in their scent, to ruffle their hair, to throw them into the air and hear the fits of gleeful giggles. I get to pour love out on to them, I get to build them up and tell them they can do anything, they can reach the very stars in the sky if they want to, and I will be the first one with a step-ladder to help them do it. As a mother, I get to hold their hands and guide them as they walk, to catch them if they fall and to carry them when they are tired. I get to kiss them and make them feel better if their teeth are poking through, or knees are grazed, or their temperature is raised.

Mother’s have an ability to make things OK. To reassure that you are safe, that you are loved. That you are doing great, that you have got this and they have got you. And even if you fail;  if the grades weren’t good enough, you stumbled at the last hurdle, you didn’t make the cut or one of the plates you’d been spinning came crashing down, your mother will scoop you up and soothe you.

But what if your mother can’t be there?

I understand that not everyone is blessed with a mother close by, either geographically or emotionally, whether separated by words or worlds.  understand that no matter how old you are, or how far you have fallen or how you are hurting, everyone needs their mom, that unequalled individual who loves you so fiercely and so unconditionally, that person you can turn to, day or night, about anything and everything. My heart grows heavy as I think of

I understand that no matter how old you are, or how far you have fallen or how you are hurting, everyone needs their ‘mother figure’, that unequalled individual who loves you so fiercely and so unconditionally, that person you can turn to, day or night, about anything and everything. My heart grows heavy as I think of

My heart grows heavy as I think of moms who may be all alone, either single or without a mother or mother figure in her world. I wonder how on earth she could navigate the precarious path of motherhood without the guidance of a mother who has already dodged or overcome the pitfalls she is now facing. How would she be strong for her children with no one to comfort her, how would she know which way to turn without her own mother to lead her?

Then I remembered what God has said to me.

He tends his flock like a shepherd:
    He gathers the lambs in His arms
and carries them close to His heart;
    He gently leads those that have young.

Isaiah 40:11 (NIV)

He gently leads those that have young. The words sprang off the page and wrapped themselves right around me like a warm hug.

Dear friend, being a mom is the most precious gift, one that you will cherish for the rest of your days. One that will transform your world in every which way, one where you have to find your ‘new normal’ and learn to embrace it. There will be times when your little one doesn’t sleep, when you don’t know why they are crying, when you find yourself fighting back guilty tears as you dream about your old life. There will be days when you feel like a hero and days when you feel hopeless. There will be moments when you lock yourself in the bathroom because you just. need. five. minutes. alone.

You may find yourself in these moments wishing that your mom was here with you, and for whatever reason, she may not be able to.

But in every moment, good, bad or ugly, there is always Jesus.

When you feel overwhelmed or alone He will comfort you. When you fall, God Himself will come down and scoop you up into His arms and soothe you. When you don’t know which way is right the Holy Spirit will lead you.

If you are a mom who needs her momma, please remember that Papa God is here.

He always has been and He always will be, watching and waiting for His daughter to seek His face and rest in His embrace.

R xx

 

Feature Image Photo Credit: sundaywomen.com 
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Faith, Parenting

You are mine

Seven years ago today I was in the throes of welcoming our first born into the world. He arrived in a peaceful birthing pool at 11.47am and my heart felt like it could burst as I gazed at this warm, wriggling pink body snuggled up to mine.

The love I felt for my baby, even from the first preganancy test, was nothing compared to the maternal surge that rose inside me, as I marvelled at the perfect little boy in my arms. It was like my whole world perspective shifted, everything else zoomed out and he became my focus. 

He was mine.

I was now a mother, and my husband and I simply couldn’t wait to start our new life together, getting to know each other over the following days, weeks, months and years.

As I reminisced about those early days, I felt God whisper into my heart;

“That’s how I feel about you.


You are my beloved daughter, my beautiful creation, you are mine and I just can’t wait for us to get to know each other.”

God is our Father in Heaven. He is the ultimate parent, our Maker. He created us in our mothers womb, He fashioned us and formed us, He gave us individual gifts, unique talents, distinctive features. More than that He chose us to be His sons and daughters. Whether we believe it or not, He bought us with the precious blood of His Son Jesus so that all our wrongs would be forgiven and made right. 

Because of Jesus, I am His and He is mine.

I am forever a daughter of the King, I am forever a child of God, always beloved and  always belonging, no matter what the world throws at me. 

And you are too.

God is patient, He is kind and He is gentle. He will not force Himself on anyone, He will knock the door and wait for you to open it. But know that He simply cannot wait to get to know you, to hold you in His ever loving arms, to gaze in to your beautiful face and say;

“You are mine. You are just what I have always wanted, just as you are, and I love you”.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son ~ John 3:16

Why not come home and sit with your Daddy today and let him love you back to life.

R

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Faith, Parenting

Put your hands up

“Mommmmyyyyyyyy!!!!” came the urgent cries from my two year old today, whilst I was washing up the dishes. I dried my hands and hurried to the kitchen door to see what mischief he has gotten himself into and I was greeted by the sorry sight of a very tangled up little boy. We have a small goal post in our garden, that is more often than not used as a net to catch monsters or to hang toys off of rather than to field incoming goals. My youngest had been playing with his ‘arrow’ (tin opener… go figure) and had somehow managed to get his hi-top clad feet hopelessly entangled in the goal net and was now stood in the middle of the garden with tears of frustration streaming down his cheeks.

Goal

I ran over to him to assess the crystal maze-esque task of getting him out of the goal as he pulled at the ropes wound tightly around his legs. “Its OK baby” I soothed, “put your hands up and Mommy will pull you out”. Keen to escape the confines of the goal post, my son immediately put his hands in the air and reached out to me as I pulled him up, clear of the net without a struggle.

As I pulled my son close, God whispered into my spirit “If only you put your hands up to me so quickly. Daughter, I love you and always want to help you, I can see when you are struggling and if only you would reach out to me I would pull you out of every situation that you find yourself in.”

My heart quickened as I recalled the many times where I have inadvertently gotten myself in to a tangle, and rather than calling out to God and reaching up to Him to pull me out I have picked at the knots and strings entwined around my life getting more and more tangled and increasingly frustrated.

When my son was in his tangled moment, I had the vantage point of being above him, I could clearly see where the strings were wrapped and how to move him so that he would be freed. God has the ultimate vantage point in heaven, He knows all things and sees all things, and He can see the things that bind you right now. He can see the situation you are in that you think is impossible to leave. He sees the financial burdens that keep you locked in to place, unable to move forward. He sees the physical limitations that sickness and chronic conditions have over you.

But He wants to set you free.

He wants you to move freely, unbound, unshackled, moving forward into all that He has planned for you.

“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb” Jeremiah 1:5

If only you would put your hands up. Put your hands up to the one who formed you in your mother’s womb. The one who created you and ordained every single day of your life even before time began, the one who loves you so much that He sent His son Jesus to die for you. If only you would realise that by putting your hands up to the loving Father, He will take your hands and pull you up and out of your situation. Just as we love, nurture, protect and rescue our children so too does our heavenly Father, but we must be willing to surrender, to reach up to God for His love, His help and His protection in our situation.

Friend, please don’t give in to fear, shame, guilt, debt, sickness, relationship breakdown, abuse or addiction. Instead give it up to God today.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” Jeremiah 29:11

R

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Faith, Parenting

Come and rest awhile…

“My not sleep now” insisted my 2 year old son this lunch time, despite my best efforts to coax him in to a slumbering state (including me reaching said state without him). I knew he was tired, and especially so due to a lingering cold, so I pulled him in close for a mama cuddle but he arched away, resisting my lullabies and caresses indicating that this was indeed the best thing for him. I eventually relented and shut the stair gate, much to his dismay, allowing him to potter in his darkened room in desperate hope that he would take himself off to sleep.

He did not.

And as I climbed the stairs a short while later, my red cheeked, bleary eyed little boy reached out to me and said “Need a cuddle.” A cuddle (and necessary nappy change) later, and my previously boisterous boy had ceased careering round his room with a duplo car and was now completely relaxed in my arms, clutching his favourite bear. He looked at me through sleepy eyes and said “my sleep now” and promptly closed his heavy eyelids, causing my heart to melt as he gave me the most adorable view of his chubby little face, cherub like lips and exquisite eyelashes.

Oh if only you had done this sooner and saved yourself the fight, I thought to myself, as I held my precious bundle close. I leaned in to bury my face in his soft, wispy hair, inhaling the soapy scent of my second born and God whispered to me “Me too.”

You see, as parents we have a different perspective on our children, we know what is right for them, what they can handle, what they need (and what they don’t), and our heavenly Father is no different. He knows how long you can take enduring that illness, that overbearing boss, that rogue relationship. He knows how far you can take that project or that ministry and he knows when you need to stop, take time out, hand it over or move on or simply and rest awhile.

“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31 NIV

So often in our lives we try and do things in our own timing and in our own strength, and it is nothing short of exhausting. We end up tired, red cheeked and bleary eyed, crying out to God, why? Why is this happening? Why can’t I run round doing what I want to do? Why can’t I have that house/job/relationship/ministry?

But God is saying to us just wait a while, precious one, I know what you need and what you can handle right now and in the future. Allow your heart, mind, body and soul the chance to breathe, to rest and ultimately to grow.

It is no secret that the body does most of its growth and repair while we sleep, and so in order to be strong enough to take the next challenge and move in to the next season we need to make sure that we rest in God. Take time out to be still in his presence today. Listen to some worship music, light a candle and read a psalm or two before allowing your mind to drift in to the heavenly realms where your heavenly Father is waiting to draw you close, bury his face in your hair and shower your head with kisses.

R

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