Adoption, Homeschool, Lifestyle, Parenting

Why we stopped homeschooling

I am sat drinking coffee alone in my favourite coffee shop reflecting on the last 12 months. Today is the first day back at school for our boys after we spent a year home educating them. The irony is not lost on me that it was in this coffee shop that we spent our first morning of homeschool last Easter.

There were many reasons for choosing to bring our children home, but the main reason was that we wanted Jesus to be at the centre of everything; our home life and the children’s education. They were in a faith school, and one that they loved, but we felt that we needed to give them something more. I was more concerned with their character than with their class performance, and decided to spend a year working together as a family at home.

I was more concerned with their character than with their class performance

The homeschool lifestyle is incredible. We thrived outside of timetables and schedules, we loved the freedom and spontaneity that homeschooling afforded our family, and we found such incredible friends within the homeschool community. We read books on books, we spent endless hours outdoors and learned a great deal about ourselves and each other. It was such a privilege to watch my boys grow in confidence, learn new social skills and make new discoveries.

So why end it all? That is a very good question.

We always said that we would homeschool for a year and then review our decision. On reviewing, we realised that our eldest was missing school terribly, and the truth was, I was floundering under the demands of educating two very different children while running two very different businesses. Home education is most definitely a ministry in and of itself, and is a huge sacrifice for parents.

I felt that God called me to homeschool, however it wasn’t my ‘calling’ and at times, I struggled to find my identity over the last year. I loved being with my children all the time, but as God continued to speak into my heart I felt a tension between teaching them and spending quality time with them, alongside doing things that I wanted to do or felt called to. It is fair to say that the children have missed corporate learning, and although their social lives have been off the charts, the majority of their education has been in the home, one on one with me.

So what was the purpose of these last twelve months? Well, I believe that this year has not been about heart education not head education.

Our homeschool journey has been about heart education not head education

Prior to homeschooling, we were struggling at home. We were still blending as a family of five following our daughter’s adoption and still recovering from my maternal mental health challenges. Last Easter we needed to press the reset button. So we did.

As we took school out of the equation, and put God and family first in our home, we have gotten to know each other again. I believe that we have grown tremendously, in faith and in relationship. As we leaned in, God bound us together and we have now laid the foundations for a stronger family unit going forward.

Since December, God has been challenging me, guiding me and equipping me in so many areas; business, serving, faith and family. I believe that He called me to homeschool to lay down the foundations for our family future. God never said for how long we would homeschool, He just asked us to step out in obedience. We now believe that this season has come to an end and we need to build on what we have started. I am pressing in and listening hard. It feels like I am listening to a new song on the radio and God is tuning the dial so I can hear it clearly. I can hear the melody but now I need to let him refocus me so I can hear the words too.

Can you homeschool? Of course you can. Should you homeschool? Yes, if you feel led to.

I absolutely advocate home education and have seen firsthand how my children have thrived in the home environment. But I have also seen the delight on my children’s faces as they walked into their classroom, watched their eyes widen with excitement about the things they will get to see and do and the friends they get to meet.

So although my heart was a little sad as we waved them off this morning, I also felt incredibly excited for this new chapter of our story – both for them and for me. Here’s to the first entry on the page.

R x

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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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Parenting

Just a mom?

You are more than just a mom. Those words actually make me wince.

Today is International Women’s Day and social media is all lit up with phrases like ‘you are more than just a mom, you are a woman, you can rule the world’. Hashtags like #girlboss #bossbabe #girlpower and #thisgirlcan constantly remind us that we can have our cake and eat it, that our identities are not found in the mouths we feed or in the nappies we change, but are found in the very core of our being, in our passions, gifts and talents.

As the next generation of powerful women, we are called to use our passions and become entrepreneurs, CEO’s, politicians and public speakers. We are women, hear us roar, and we are destined for greatness.

But what if you are destined to be a mother?

But what if you are destined to be a mother? What if, since you were a little girl, all you have dreamed of is holding your very own baby in your arms and raising a family?

What if you just wanted to be a mom?

I am a big advocate for women achieving all they can be and more, and I don’t want to offend anyone who thinks I don’t approve of their life choices. Your personal path in life is exactly that; personal. I love that women can run FTSE100 companies and manage to run a household at the same time. I love that women can hustle with the best of them in the board room then come home to read bedtime stories. I love that women can lead our country, do all these things and more, providing that they are happy and fulfilled while doing them.

As for me? I have always just wanted to be a mother. Sure I have talents; I am a voracious reader and as you might have guessed an avid blogger to boot. I love networking, communicating and being creative. I am passionate about writing, in pretty much any form, from web content for a client, to worship songs on my piano. But I don’t see myself as a writer who is also a mom, I see myself as a mom who is also a writer.

I don’t see myself as a writer who is also a mom,
I see myself as a mom who is also a writer.

Rightly or wrongly, motherhood is an identity that I truly identify with. I see it as less of a label and more of a mantle bestowed upon me by God Himself. Yes, there are days when I might gladly trade my beautiful children for wild animals, in the hope that the animals will be easier to control, but by and large, motherhood is, in my humble opinion, the greatest role I will ever have. And if you don’t agree with my thinking, then guess what? That is ok too!

Alongside my husband, I am responsible for shaping three little lives. I am responsible for keeping them safe while teaching them how to eat, drink, speak, dress and navigate this dark world in which we live. As a mother, my role is to ultimately prepare my children for life without me, and I don’t want this responsibility to fall on anyone else’s shoulders but mine.

I am so incredibly grateful for my self-employed businesses, which means I get the best of both worlds; the freedom to raise my family and the finances to help support our home lives. I love my work and I don’t take it for granted. But I do want to acknowledge the stay at home mom’s who have chosen to commit to the most incredible, selfless and, at times thankless, job of raising their family full time.

On International Women’s Day 2019, whether you are high flying career mom or homeschooling hippie mom, (or both!) please remember this:

You are not just a mom, you are a manager of a human being.

And that, my friend, is pretty awesome.

R

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Essential Oils, Faith

Finding my purpose

I’ve written so many blogs but not published them. I’ve poured my heart into pages and pages of notes. I’ve felt Gods presence so powerfully and cried so hard while writing that I’ve had to catch my breath.

Many of these words need never be read by anyone other than Jesus. Like many prayers that we just can’t find the words to express or the energy to utter; they are heard in heaven.

So tonight as I sit in my garden, thinking of the rollercoaster that has been the last 12 months, hot tears of gratitude fall in place of grief. No longer am I lost and overwhelmed, not knowing where I belong or to whom. I know that I am a daughter of the King, a precious child of God blessed beyond measure.

And I am blessed to be a blessing.

You see, if I hadn’t have gone on this journey, if I hadn’t experienced the rollercoaster I wouldn’t have found my purpose.

I believe that God has called me to help others. He wants me to come alongside His children and support them, pray with them and empower them. I’ve been told by some lovely people that my blogs have encouraged them, and to hear that as a writer just blows me away.

But God didn’t just give me a gift of writing, but a gift of communication and compassion. He has also brought some beautiful people into my world who have supported me physically and emotionally through Young Living Essential Oils. I was sceptical at best when given some oils to try but when they helped me sleep for the first time in weeks I was sold. I am now completely in love with the products and am building a business to support my family financially just by sharing what the oils did for me.

Sounds crazy huh? But it feels so right. I feel like my blogging and my business go hand in hand; I can communicate what God reveals to me, show compassion to my lovely readers and also care for them practically by offering oily support suggestions.

I don’t want my blog to become a sales pitch. Far from it. But I do want to share the Good News – of the gospel of Jesus and of a way to live a healthier, happier life using the very things that God created.

Their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing – Ezekiel 47:12

Never heard of essential oils? I’d love to share them with you. Want to get your own? I’d love to hook you up with some.

I am hosting my very first oily event – An Evening of Summer Essentials – on Saturday 14th July 2018 and I would love it if you could come! We are planning a relaxed, fun evening of treats and pampering so you can come and be spoilt, hear my story and go home with a goody bag, for just £5! We have only 30 tickets available so book fast. Click this link to register free online then please forward payment to me via PayPal. (We are a fledgling business so haven’t paid for the Premium Eventbrite package where they charge us per ticket booked!)

I would love to see you and meet some new faces for the first time!

Until then my friends

R x

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Faith

Running with others

“Oh, I don’t run with others.”

This was my response to friends who had done Couch to 5k and wanted to join me on some of my regular runs. It makes me cringe now, looking back but there was a reason behind it.

Running for me is more than just getting fit. It is my headspace, my self-care, my therapy. It is my place to run away from my worries, to run through my frustrations. It’s often pretty messy and it wasn’t a process that I wanted others to witness.

When you run with others, there is an assumption that you are going to talk. Talking wasn’t always something that I was comfortable with, so it was easier to put my earbuds in, get my head down and keep going. I joined a running club last January and was the slowest runner there. I hated watching others overtake me, but what I hated even more was when people hung back for me.

Crazy, right?

But the kinder and more encouraging people were to me, the angrier and more embarrassed I felt. I have been conditioned to independence. Much to my poor husband’s dismay, I am fiercely stubborn and determined to things my way, on my own, in my time. (Our eldest son has sadly inherited this same fierce independence!)

If things get tough? Its okay, I’m tough enough to cope.

If things get messy? Its okay, I’ve got it under control.

If things get sad? It’s okay, I can paint on a smile.

Just run with it. Run through it. Run from it.

This philosophy is okay for a while, but running alone gets lonely. Running uphill gets hard. Running on empty is draining.

This is why God put people in our paths, to encourage us, to equip us, to energise us, to excite us. Those people who encouraged me are now seeing me keep up with them, hold a conversation with them. Over the past 12-18 months, I have entered races, run distances I could only dream of and smashed personal bests. All because I am running with others who propel me forward, running in a club that cheers me on.

We were never designed to live alone.

It is no surprise that we were never designed to live alone. We are made in God’s image, and even He doesn’t live alone. He exists as part of the Trinity; Father, Spirit, Son. The Bible is packed with men and women who needed relationship; with Jesus and with other people. God created us to live in community with others, and regardless of whether we are living the dream or lying at our lowest, we need people around us.

This week is maternal mental health awareness week. I have walked (and ran) through postnatal depression and anxiety twice in the last five years. I know first hand that despite all the treatment and all the therapy in the world, it was my community and my church that got me through. As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child, but I believe it takes a village to raise a mother.

As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child,
but I believe it takes a village to raise a mother.

Wherever this finds you today, whether you are a mama who is walking a rocky road alone, or running with others, know that you are not alone. God never left you and He never will. He sent Jesus to crawl, walk and run alongside you. He sent His Holy Spirit to guide you. Even on your darkest day, He will be your brightest light.

God never left you and He never will.

When running, especially uphill, you need to keep your head up and fix your eyes on a focal point ahead. This is the best way to keep going, keep moving and get to the top. Running the race of life is no different. We need to keep our heads up, fix our eyes on Jesus and run towards Him. And He will take you through the deepest valley and over the tallest mountain out to the other side.

R x

Photo Credit: FreePik
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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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Parenting

To the mom at the nursery gates

“It does get easier I promise”.

The words I gently spoke to a mom at nursery this morning as her son buried his head into her shoulder, crying before we even got through the front door. Her own lip wobbling, and tears filling her eyes, she tried to smile and spoke in a soothing, singing voice to reassure her toddler that he was doing so well and everything would be OK. She was dressed for work, and this was only his second week in to childcare, and the novelty of new toys and new faces had clearly worn off as he cling to her side. He didn’t want new toys or new friends today, he just wanted his momma.

My heart broke for them both. I wanted to tell her to quit the job, to scoop up her baby and take him home. I wanted to tell her that he needed her more than her manager did, more than her clients did. I wanted to tell her that she needn’t miss out on a single second of his precious little life for the sake of a few pounds in the bank.

But of course, that is ridiculous.

Some mothers work. Some mothers have no choice but to work, some are single moms who are fighting to keep the bills paid and food on the table. Some are high flying business women who have overcome incredible odds to establish their enterprise and they need to keep their business going. Some are climbing the career ladder now while they are young so they can provide for their children’s future. Some just flat out need a break from motherhood, and being an employee for several hours a day allows them to have the mental stimulation and adult company that they have craved during the last 12 months of maternity leave.

There is no right or wrong here, and far be it from me to judge any mother, whether she works full time in the office or works as a full time mom. In my humble opinion both roles are equally challenging and equally rewarding. But I do want to reach out to all the moms out there this week who have had to leave their crying babies at nursery or preschool, for all the moms who tried to hold back her tears until she got back in the car, for all the moms who are clock watching until it is pick up time.

I want to tell you that you are a good mom.

You are doing your level best for your babies, and sometimes that means walking them through difficult but necessary separation as they grow. Tears will cease and smiles will take their place, and you will both get through this tricky transition time unscathed.

Take a deep breath, take one day at a time, take the pressure off, and know that this too will pass.

He gently leads the mothers with their young ~ Isaiah 40:11

R

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