Faith, Lifestyle

Consuming content or choosing content?

Staying home has meant more time on our hands. We are scrolling more, reading more and watching more. But what are you watching?

God has been really speaking to me out of Proverbs 31 and I wanted to share some thoughts from verse 27 with you.

She carefully watches over everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness ~ Proverbs 31:27 NLT

She carefully watches. She watches what is going on in her home, what her children are watching, what they are watching her watching.

Over the last two weeks I have found it so easy to mindlessly scroll, reading reports that bring fear and despair, watching programmes that make me angry or on edge. What we watch has an impact on our soul.

Jesus said “Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body.” What He meant by that was that we need to be mindful of what we look at. Be careful what we watch, because we cannot unsee something we have seen. The truth is the world is a scary place right now. But rather than consume content which further heightens our anxiety, we need to choose content that fills us and builds us.

The dictionary tells us that the noun content is a thought, a subject, or subject matter. Content can be a burden; as we consume it it can sit heavily in our hearts, dominate our thoughts. Jesus doesn’t want us to hold these burdens, He wants us to exchange them for His peace. But even more than that He promises to show us how.

Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fighting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly Matthew 11:29-30.

I won’t lay anything heavy on you or ill-fitting on you.

There is a lot of heaviness in the world, but we aren’t called to hold it. There is a lot of darkness in the world but we don’t have to be a part of it. If the eye is a lamp to our body then we need to make sure that what we are watching floods our soul with light not darkness. Watching movies and scrolling Facebook isn’t the problem, but what we are looking at can be.

As Christians, we can choose to be content despite the chaos. To choose to be still when the storms rise around us. But to do that we need to be carefully watch everything in our household.

R x

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Faith, Parenting

Learning lessons

At first glance this looks like a father and son moment; a lesson in handling a saw and managing a garden. The truth is it is a lesson in handling consequences and managing poor decisions.

Look closer at the picture, do you see the tree on the right? It has a huge branch torn off the trunk because my son swung on it and it ripped the tree.

That wasn’t just a tree, and the damage isn’t just a broken branch. That was my favourite tree, adorned with lanterns and bird feeders. It was special to me because it helped me manage my discontent in living in the city, it brought me such joy to seeing the wild birds hopping around in its branches and it provided shelter as we played in the garden

As a new homeschooler I am trying so hard to cultivate an environment of love and joy both in my garden and in my home, but I rarely seem to succeed of late. We have strong willed children who challenge us often and at the end of the a tough week this broken branch spoke of my broken my heart.

I knew parenting wouldn’t be easier but I never dreamed it would be so hard. I didn’t know how much it could hurt when your flesh and blood acts out. I want to fight for my children, not against them. I often wish I could ‘fix’ them, but perhaps this has more to do with my own iniquities rather than theirs.

I am not just a mom, I am a daughter of the King. And when I feel like I can’t, He can.

God created me to be a mama and He gave me these children to raise. I am going to need to learn some lessons of my own in raising my wildlings.

So today as I gather the remains of my beloved boughs, I gather my thoughts and give them to God. Time to go back to the Source to find our Selah. 

R x

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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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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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http://gcmsk12.org/first-day-of-school/
Parenting

Why first days break hearts

This week social media has been awash with smiling cherubic faces proudly wearing their school uniforms, and behind most camera lens is a misty-eyed parent. Walking my son to school for his very first morning was more than a tad emotional’ his little knees peeping out beneath his freshly ironed shorts and his chubby little hands clutching his book bag. Tears pricked my eyes for the umpteenth time that hour as I watched him skip into the playground to see his friends. Selfishly, I wish that I could stop time and keep him with me always, a small dependent little man who needs me always. The reality is that my four going on fourteen-year-old is more than ready to start school, just like his brother.

Once through the door, rather than waiting for the roll call, my cheeky chappy simply said “It’s OK Mommy, they know me here,” and with that, he bounded down the corridor and grabbed his teacher’s hand. All the feels.

As hard as it was for me to watch my baby step into the world of education, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. I want to be front row and centre in every step he takes, and the idea of missing this momentous occasion fills me with horror.

Yet so many parents don’t have a choice.

My heart is heavy for the working mama who couldn’t get the time off to wave her daughter off and had to send Daddy instead. I think of the separated parents who missed out on the first day

I think of the separated parents who missed out on the first day because it ‘wasn’t their week’. I think of the dad who works away for months on end and had to wish his son good luck via FaceTime this morning.

I think of the parents who had to drop their precious child off at wraparound and missed out on the hustle and bustle of 30 excited four-year-old in shiny shoes and new shirts. I think of high profile parents the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge; poor Catherine, pregnant with her third child and suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum, was unable to watch her firstborn take his first steps into education. As she witnessed the milestone on social media like everyone else, it must have broken her heart.

Then there are the parents whose doorways are empty. The moms and dads whose babies grew angel wings far too soon and didn’t live to their fourth birthday. These parents know all too well that their child should have had their first day at school this week, yet there are no new shoes in the hallway, excited chatter in the home or pictures on the walls.

I deeply appreciate how blessed I am to be a mom of three. I have always dreamed of being a parent, and although I fail massively on a fairly regular basis, I wouldn’t trade the tantrums and tears for anything. This week has been a week of firsts, the first year in Juniors for my eldest, the first day in school for my second son, and the first day juggling three children on a school run. But it was a moment that I was able to be part of thanks to being self-employed, thanks to a loving God, and a supportive husband, and a moment that I will remember for the rest of my life.

As much as it hurts to let them go and let them grow, the ability to be able to stay home and nurture three little lives is a privilege. So as I blink back tears at the unfairness of time not standing still and feel sorry for myself this coming week, I will remember in my prayers those who would give anything to be in my position.

R x

 

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Faith, Parenting

I will never leave you

I write this post propped up against a giant stuffed tiger on the bottom bunk bed watching over my youngest. He awoke in the middle of the night shouting for me as he was sick. He seemed instantly brighter afterwards, and even smiled his heartstoppingly sweet smile to crack a joke while washing his hands. 

He lay back down in to bed and I gently stroked his hair and prayed for him, but he seemed fitful and he kept looking up to check that I was still there. He waved my fingers away from his hair, not wanting to be mithered, so I simply sat in silent prayer watching him. 

After a few minutes of sitting on the floor next to his head, I shifted my weight slightly and he immediately looked up and said, “Where are you going Mommy?”

“No where baby,” I replied, “Do you want me to stay?”

He nodded quietly, so I grabbed my dressing gown, pillow and a book, and settled down at the bottom of his bed to watch him instantly relax and drift off to sleep.

As I watched him, my momma’s heart sad and prayerful, I felt the father heart of God remind me of how He watches us. He knows that sometimes we don’t need to be held,  we just need to know that someone is watching over us.

Indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber or sleep. Psalm 121:4 NIVUK

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety. ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭4:8‬ ‭NIVUK

Our Heavenly Father never sleeps, He never slumbers. He never lets you out of His sight, not even for one second. You may not feel His hand on your shoulder today, but I guarantee you that He has His eye on you today and always. 

Rest easy tonight knowing that the One who flung the stars into the sky and set the world in motion has you firmly in His sights and gently in His hands.

As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Joshua 1:5 NIVUK
R

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Parenting

Working Mom Woes

wahm

So here I am, sat in soft play, trying to bottom out some deadlines before the weekend. It is quieter than usual – possibly because most self-respecting parents don’t palm their kids off to soft play as soon as school’s out on a Friday – and I am trying to dodge the deprecating stares from moms who think I shouldn’t have my head stuck in a laptop.

Just to reassure you, I do know where my kids are. Mainly because I can hear their 100 decibel shrieks echo around the building, but also because I have placed myself right next to the exit with a full view of the entire place, so there is no way that they can escape without my knowing.

But alas, the mommy guilt is still there.

Yes, I am not playing with my boys right now, but that is because mommy has to earn to pay for their future. I also don’t want to be glued to the screen for the weekend as I firmly believe in setting aside Saturday and Sunday for quality time as a family, but in order to do that tomorrow I need to work now. The fact that the boys were ecstatic at the prospect of soft play madness straight after school is irrelevant, however, I still feel guilty. Then there is the distinctly un-homemade sausage, chips and beans dinner they have just wolfed down that gives me guilt pangs about processed food, despite the fact that I know they wouldn’t touch the Spanish paella I have planned for later.

This is not an everyday occurrence. Most days, my boys play outdoors, in parks, woods or wherever they can get to a patch of grass or puddle of mud. Most days they eat homemade food with me around the dining room table. Most days they keep me entertained for hours with Lego building and ninja battles.

But today is not that day, and that is OK too.

R

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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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Faith, Parenting

The letter I wish I had read as a new mom

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Dear beautiful,

Congratulations! You have joined the prestigious, bleary eyed, milk stained, caffeine fuelled club that is motherhood.

Firstly I want to tell you to enjoy these precious few moments as a brand new family.

Ignore the phone, wave off visitors and bed down with your baby. Cherish each gurgle, each smile, each milestone. Hold your baby. Yes, I mean ignore the do-gooders who advise you not to carry them too much in case you spoil them, there is such a thing as the fourth trimester and baby-wearing has proven benefits for both mother and baby in these first few weeks. You don’t see 14 year olds being carried by their moms. This phase will pass as your child grows too big for you to carry so jolly well make the most of it now.

Your role as a mother will not define who you are.

This is an important statement for you to hold on to when you are knee deep in nappies and can’t remember the last time you looked in a mirror, much less brushed your hair. You are more than a cook and bottle washer, more than a cleaner and laundry attendant. You are an independent woman who is strong, confident, accomplished and gifted, no matter how you may doubt and question yourself. Can I really do this? Can I ever be good enough? Am I qualified? The answer to all these questions in God is yes. If He has called you to it He will bring you through it.

Rather than breaking new ground in ministry, just getting dressed and brushing your teeth is your greatest mission right now and that is OK. Your girlfriends are your world and social media helps you stay connected to fellow moms who are going through the same stages as you. These wonderful women that you have so much in common with will be the lifeline you need to sustain you through sleepless nights and tantrum-filled days so invest in your relationships even if only through midnight whatsapp messages and mid feed tweets.

Make your motions effect your emotions.

There will be days when you want to flop in a heap and sob uncontrollably after six days straight of sleep deprivation, and this is ok, but remember this too shall pass. Allow the hormonal (and non hormonal) emotions to wash over you but don’t wade in the waters of self pity. Ride that tidal wave like a boss and get yourself to the shore asap with positive attitudes and a lot of prayer. Also don’t take things to heart when your worries or opinions are not received the way you would like. You have a tendency to wear your heart on your sleeve a little too much so why not protect it and keep some things just between you and God. He knows your heart, He knows your desire to be loved, accepted and to belong which is why He sought you out to become a daughter of the King, part of the Kingdom of Heaven. This is also the reason He gave you a great marriage, a husband who knows you intimately and loves every part of you. A strong man who will uphold you and strengthen you in every area, a man who has got your back. Open your heart to him and to God first.

In the years to come you will face trials and tribulations but you will never be alone. God is with you, He is for you and He has gone ahead of you. You will overcome redundancies, health scares and depression. You will rise above doubts and dilemmas, bad decisions and bad behaviour. You will learn the difference between being a friend and being faithful and your personal faith will reach levels you never dreamed of.

Take courage and stand tall, the future is bright, you just need to believe it and grab it with both hands.

R

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