arise and call her blessed

In HER Shoes – Proverbs 31 Wife (week 14)

Welcome to another week of Mummy Meditations!

I hope you have been encouraged by the comments and thoughts shared in the Facebook Group. This week we have been meditating on the following verse:

Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all””

Proverbs 31:28-29
DISCLAIMER:

This verse was written about a fictional Queen who would be a match for King Solomon.  I’m pretty sure none of us are queen’s in here, so this verse is not about pressure to “surpass” all other women, but to figure out how we can be the best for our own children and our own husband in whatever situations we find ourselves in.

Setting the scene each morning 

So this summary post might be a bit different to others.  Mainly because the word ARISE has been the one standing out to me this week. I mentioned it in the middle of the week in our Facebook Community, but today is a prime example of how our mornings can affect the rest of the day.  With one little negative comment, I put my husband in a bad mood when he got out of bed.  He went into the boys in a bad mood, and hence they messed around and got punished.  This put them in a bad mood, and the sequence continues.  Does this sound familiar to you?  Do you ever wakeup and dread what the day is going to hold, so you are already in a foul mood when it comes to getting the kids dressed and out the house for school?

arise and call her blessed

Those first few moments in a morning set the tone of the day.  Yes, other things can happen and things can change, but the first few moments are very powerful.  That’s why so many people advocate for getting up early to spend time with God. But if we can’t do that, then this verse has been challenging me on how I speak about those around me first thing.

The kids and husband in this verse get up and immediately call their mum/wife blessed and praise her.  Wow, what that must feel like!!  To have the first words said to you be ones of love, and adoration, rather than “IS IT BREAKFAST TIME!!!”.  But you know what –if that is what we want, then we have to start that.  We have to wake up every day and bless our kids and our husband and speak out praise over them.  We can set the culture in our home and we can set the mood of the day, so lets make it one of praise and love.  If we start doing that, then quickly it will filter into everything else.

So what are the first words out of your mouth on a morning?  Is it “I love you” to your husband?  Is it “hello handsome!” to your boys or “hello beautiful!” to your girls?  The morning holds such promise for the day ahead so lets use it for build up our family, rather than spending it screaming at each other. 

Next Week

Don’t forget to share what God has revealed to you through this verse, as it may be something completely different!  Next week is our penultimate week in this series, so do join me and hundreds of other mummy meditators in pondering on this verse: 

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Proverbs 31:30

In HER Shoes – Proverbs 31 wife (Week 13)

 

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Happy Sunday Evening everyone.  I thought that I would put this post up slightly later, as I am sure you are all busy decorating your houses for Christmas!  What a joyous time of the year it is, and yet what a stressful time too.  This weeks verse has come perfectly timed, as I think it speaks some really useful messages as we enter December.  It is:

“She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness”  Proverbs 31:27

watching over

The big thing that has been niggling at me this week is this concept of “watching over”.  We had some great definitions and examples of what this might mean shared on the Facebook Community.  These included:

  • To protect someone and make certain that that person is safe:
  • Making sure everything is sorted for our families so that we don’t have to worry about things
  • Nurses on the night shift watch over their patients – they don’t touch or examine them but they watch and check to make sure everything is ok.
  • Making sure things don’t go badly, so giving attention but not interference

Its this tension between caring for, looking after, making sure things are safe but also not interfering or taking over.   Its the mum “watching over” as her kids learn to cook and cut things with sharp knives.  She is there to make sure the environment is safe, the kids are prepper and taught before being let lose and to watch for signs that things might go wrong.  But she is allowing the child to step out and learn a new skill and do it themselves.  This is a beautiful thing, and yet so difficult.  b

I think there is something huge for us to learn from this as mums, and that is that we have to stop interfering!!!  We have to let our household take care of itself once in a while, and watch what happens.  We as mums are getting more and more stressed, trying to control everything and sort everything, when that is NOT what we are supposed to do!!  We are supposed to delegate, we are supposed to train and teach others to take some of the load.  Yes, we are there to make sure nothing goes wrong, but we are not hand holding all the time.  That is what we should aspire to, and I want to challenge you today to take stock of how you treat your kids and your husband.  Are you interfering all the time and taking over, or are you watching over and allowing them to fly?

Bread of idleness

Its funny really that this over controlling is then immediately contrasted with not being idle.  As mums, this is a really tricky balance to strike, and I think that the passage is saying we have to get that balance right.  Yes, we shouldn’t do everything for everyone and not let anyone else get a look in, but we also shouldn’t sit back with our feet up as everyone else in our household takes the strain.  How often do you try to do everything, as let you kids just enjoy themselves, to then burn out and end up slumped on the sofa unable to do anything?  I mean, I love a good slump on the sofa, resting and recovering, but there is a difference between resting and being idle.

  • REST – cease work or movement in order to relax, sleep, or recover strength
  • IDLE – (of a person) avoiding work; lazy.

This is the big difference – rest is for those who HAVE worked, idleness is avoiding doing any work in the first place.  If you have been running around after the kids all day and you are exhausted, then it is absolutely fine to have a sit on the sofa, checking your social media with a nice cuppa in hand.  That is the rest that you need to face the rest of the day.  BUT if you haven’t done a thing, and just can’t be bothered to do the jobs that need to be done in the house so are sitting on the sofa avoiding those jobs, well that is being idle.

So rather that demonising sitting on sofa, watching TV and checking our phones, lets take the time to examine why we are doing that instead.

putting this into practice in the lead up to Christmas

As I said at the beginning, this verse has come for me at an very opportune time.  Christmas, especially for those of us with kids in school, can be ridiculously busy.  We can feel exhausted and over worked, stressed and not joyful.  But this verse says stop trying to do it all!  Delegate and let others do some of the Christmas chores – the kids can decorate the tree, the hubby can go to the Carol concert, the grandparents can take them to see Santa.  YOU don’t have to do it all.   Lets be there to watch over all the festivities, but not feel like we have to do everything.

Also, lets remember to rest.  Find times of peace, to meditate on our verses or ponder the Christmas story, or to just scroll through Facebook!  But don’t become idle avoid doing the jobs that need doing – they’ll only pile up for the week before Christmas and make you more stressed!!

So channel that Proverbs 31 woman this week and enjoy the start of the festivities!!!

Next Week

We move on to the following verse to meditate on over the coming week:

“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all”” Proverbs 31:28-29

I do hope you will join me and the other members of our Facebook Community in discussing this verse throughout the week.  The free phone lock screen will be available tomorrow, but in the meantime check out the 99p sale over in the shop:

 

us all with santa

Review: Wish Upon a Star with Santa at Meadowhall

wish upon a star meadowhall

Are you looking for something a bit different to do with your kids this Christmas?  Are you sick of the same old Santa’s grotto, where you wait in line for an hour at your local garden centre for your kids to rattle off what they want and then head on out, missing the magic of Christmas altogether?

wishmas forestWell then, you might want to take a look at the “Wish Upon A Star” Christmas experience at Meadowhall in Sheffield.  Yes, Santa is there in the mix (so your kids won’t be disappointed) but there are lots of other great surprises along the way.  They have dubbed it an “immersive theatrical experience”, which basically means there are very good actors looking after you and impeccably dressed theme rooms as your go through.

wishmas forestThe premise is that you are on a journey through the “Wishmas Forest”, meeting the “wish gatherer elves”.  This takes you on a 30-40 minute trip through 3 rooms.  The first is the forest, so it is decorated with Christmas trees and lots of tree stumps for the kids to sit on and watch a film explaining it all.  There is a very chirpy elf who teaches the kids the wish gatherers salute – something the boys found hilarious as it is a mixture of silly noises and actions.

From there they go into a second room with a giant telescope in the middle and a male elf who tells the story of Santa crashing into the forest.  All the whilst, we are told that shooting stars carry wishes.  The boys loved this room as there were big bean bags to curl up to and listen to the story, then they all got to look through the giant telescope and spot a shooting star.

From there we went into a workshop themed room where the kids could decorate cardboard stars with their wishes on.  This was a nice practical activity after a lot of sitting and listening, and there was glitter, ribbon and pens to decorate with.  I did feel that this was quite a basic craft, and that perhaps a little more could have been spent on a bigger mix of materials to decorate, or they could have been wooden to look a bit more substantial.

All the actors were very friendly and encouraging to the kids, speaking to them individually (which was achievable as there is a limit on the number of families going through in each session).  They were definitely in character, which the kids loved, but I found a bit annoying and far fetched! If you are not a cheesy Christmas person then this might not be the thing for you.

santas grottoFrom this room we were taken in to see Santa.  Now this was my favourite part.  It was a very intimate and cosy room, and Santa spoke with the kids about how Christmas is a time for giving and not just receiving.  He sprinkled some extra glitter on their wish stars and asked them to close their eyes and make a Christmas wish for someone less fortunate than themselves.  Sam, my eldest, ran over and whispered in my ear that he wanted to make a wish for his sponsor child in Africa, which just melted my heart.  Reuben, my youngest, wished for pine cones!!!!

There was no asking them what they wanted for Christmas, just a really sweet moment where they had a photo with Santa and got given a Mr Man book (an amazing gift as my boys LOVE the Mr Men!).  They left having had a lovely 40 minute trip. I left feeling slightly overwhelmed by jolly elves, but all in all it was a much better experience than standing in a queue for 5 minutes with Santa somewhere else.

price listThe best thing about this was that you book a slot online, so there’s no waiting about.  The groups are small and the price is actually very reasonable considering all that you get.  Its £6.60 for kids and £3.60 for adults (obviously only the kids get presents!).  So if you are happy with a non-traditional Santa’s grotto then book online here.  (Photos and mementoes were extra – here’s the price list)

 

 

 

My only concern (and final comment!) is that in trying to make this a magical experience, are we diluting the true Christmas message?  By adding wishes, and wish gathering elves, are we just confusing our kids more?  I am not sure, and on the surface it seems harmless, so I will let you decide upon that yourself.

Rachel x

us all with santa

In HER Shoes – Proverbs 31 Wife (Week 12)

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Happy Sunday Mummy Meditators!  Thanks for coming over to read my summary post on this weeks verse.  Have you felt challenged to change the way you speak this week?  I certainly have, and I want to share why and how with you below.  This was the verse we were looking at:

“She speaks with wisdom; and faithful instruction is on her tongue” Proverbs 31:26

following on from last week

Last week we spoke about how the Proverbs 31 woman needed to be clothed by God in the things that she was lacking and would need for the tasks ahead of her (you can read the summary post here).  This week, we see that after being equipped in this way, she is able to speak with wisdom.  I don’t think its a coincidence that this verse follows on – in order to be able to speak with wisdom we need God’s help!  We are not wise on our own (something that Solomon would find out when he asked God for wisdom) and so we need to remember that this is something that God can “clothe” us in too.

speaking when needed

One thing that God really challenged me on this week whilst meditating on this verse was that speaking with wisdom also means knowing when to speak and when not to.  She doesn’t just speak all the time and have a mixture of wise and unwise words, she only speaks with wisdom.  That to me means that I need to cut some of the crap.  I need to think over whether I am saying something wise, or just talking for the sake of it.  I need to choose my words, especially when it comes to my children, to make sure I don’t regret any of them.

Instruction is the overflow

What is on the tip of your tongue?  What comes out of your mouth when you’re not even thinking?  Its the overflow of your heart, what you are truly thinking and feeling.  Maybe its the snide comment that you say whilst half thinking that reveals how you truly feel about someone.  Maybe its words of love and care.  If our hearts desire is to instruct and care for others, then that will be on the tip of our tongue everytime we open our mouths.  But if negative thoughts and hate are in our heart then that is what will spill out.  So maybe this week, rather than trying to figure out how to control our words, we need to examine our hearts and see what is overflowing out of them.

faithful or kind?

I asked our Mummy Meditations Community to look at some different translations of this verse, and it brought up something quite interesting this week.   Some of the translations used the words “faithful instruction” but others had a very different slant.  In the Passion Translation it says “loving instructions”, The Message uses “she always says it kindly” and ESV “the teaching of kindness is on her tongue”.   There seems to be a tension between faithful and kind when it comes to the translation of this word, and the original Hebrew word (hesed) is such that it can’t be directly translated into our language.  The word represents loving kindness and being faithful to promises ,and so that is why it is translated as either faithful or kind.  So really, we can take both those words to heart when we think about our instruction (something that is at the forefront of what we do everyday with our children).  Lets try to make sure it is both faithful (that we keep our promises and are loyal to what we believe) AND kind (done in a gentle and loving way).

Next Week

We are now into the last month of our Proverbs 31 wife series, and we head into some really interesting verses to finish off this poetic passage.  Next week we will be meditating on this verse, I hope you’ll join me in the Facebook group to discuss it more:

“She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.” Proverbs 31:27

Don’t forget to download and print your bookmarks ready for the next four weeks here:

60p downloadable bookmarks

raising kids in the way of grace

Book Review – Raising Kids in the Way of Grace

raising kids in the way of graceOk, so I’ll be honest here.  I didn’t get this book to start off with.  It took me a while to understand the authors way of writing, and although it says you can read it in one sitting, I was struggling just to get through a page before I was confused or distracted.

But I persevered.  I knew that this was a book that I wanted to dig deeper into, and so I managed to find a few half an hour slots where I could read a bit more, and soon the nuggets of pure gold started coming out.

As a parent, I often struggle with this internal battle of loving my kids but them being so annoying and rude and naughty that I just don’t know what to do with them!!  I look to the bible and I see verses about how a child should not be “disobedient or wild” and that you “shouldn’t spare the rod”, but also that the gospel is one of second chances, and I just can’t weigh up the right thing to do.  This book has really helped to clarify that.  It has helped to clarify my role as a parent, as mouth-piece of God in their lives, a role model and it has reminded me that parenting is a spiritual battle I need to prepare for.

There is lots of wisdom and advice in this book that I haven’t even begun to digest yet.  On the back cover it says “Short enough to read in one sitting but packed with biblical wisdom, you’ll want to keep this little book handy to dip into for advice, encouragement and support on your parenting journey”.  I agree that this is a book I will be coming back to again and again until I fully grasp how to parent with grace.

This book isn’t quite as easy a read as “Parenting Kids in a Screen-Saturated World” which I absolutely loved.  But I guess its not as simple or easily applicable as that.  You have to mull over the things taught in this book and really get to grips with the biblical principles behind it.  So despite not being a fan to start off with, I am falling in love with this.  So far my favourite line is this:

“Parents are God’s moral ambassadors.  Our role is to fill the time delay between human disobedience and diving consequences.  In parental discipline, we’re making the long term consequences of God’s spiritual rule more immediately felt.”  

Available at the bargain price of £2.99 over on the 10ofthose.com website, there really is no cheaper way to invest in your parenting.  What is there to lose?!   Like me, you might just find a really valuable resource for the rest of your parenting years.

In HER Shoes – Proverbs 31 Wife (week 11)

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Welcome to week 11, and an absolutely fantastic week here at Mummy Meditations.  Discussion has been flowing over in the Facebook Group and so many great thoughts and insights given on this verse.  I guess it is one of the more well known verses in the whole chapter and I’m really looking forward to sharing my thoughts on it:

“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”

Clothing yourself or being clothed

The first part of this verse says “She is clothed”, and its quite easy to skip over this phrase and move on to what she is clothed in.  But this phrase is important, and a mummy meditator in the Facebook Group pointed it out.  It doesn’t say that she “clothed herself”, but that she “is clothed”.  This is an action of someone else putting the clothes on her.  Like you would clothe your children, this is an external action to her.   When we clothe our children, we do so because they are not able to do it themselves.  It is a skill they are yet to learn so we do it for them.  This is such a significant point to remember – this woman isn’t able to give herself the strength and dignity that she needs to be a great wife, she NEEDS someone else to give it to her.

Don’t be discouraged if you feel that you are lacking things as a wife or a mother (and definitely don’t be discouraged by the Proverbs 31 fictious wife!), as we are all lacking things.  It is important that we know to turn to the one who can clothes us in what we are lacking it – turn to God as ask him to clothe you today in what you need for the week to come.

Clothed with what you need

Now we have established that it is God who is clothing her in what she needs, we can now look at what it is she is being clothed in.  I love this image of strength being place on her and dignity too.  It’s a beautiful image of how we be stronger than we ever thought possible.  But it is important to remember who this woman was going to be – the wife of King Solomon.  This wife described was going to be a Queen, and that comes with its own challenges.  She would definitely need to be strong to take the weight of royal service (how amazing is our own Queen in how she has tirelessly served our country for so many years). But she also needed to be dignified.

I wanted to look at the word dignity, as the way it is used today is more surround death than anything else (when you google dignity the first results are funeral directors!!).  There were two definitions of this word that stood out to me:

  • The state or quality of being worthy of honour or respect” – this ties in nicely with the first verse of this passage – a wife of noble character.
  • A composed or serous manner or style – majesty, regalness, grandeur” – this has a real link to royalty – that you have to be able to act in a certain way and fill that role as Queen

When we put it in this perspective, then we realise that these two qualities that she was being clothed in were the things SHE NEEDED for that specific role.  Maybe they aren’t transferable to us here and now.  Maybe when we quote this verse to each, as nice as it is, its not actually what the passage was trying to say.  Maybe we need to be praying over each other that God would clothe us in what WE NEED for our specific roles.  Maybe that is strength, gosh as mums we definitely need strength some days!!  But maybe we need clothing in patience or generosity or cheerfulness.  Whatever we are lacking in, we have a God that can clothe us and fill that gap.  How amazing!!

Because you are clothed

The final part of this verse presented a real challenge to us mums.  It suggests that this woman has nothing to worry about and laughs at the future with no cares in the world.  We shared in the Facebook Group about some of our worries, and how a lot of them centre around our children.  We couldn’t really imagine not worrying about things really and being anything like this woman in the verse seemed unrealistic.  But I want to say that this care-free, laughter inducing state is not unreachable.  This queen, this wife, this woman, surely had many many things that she could worry about, and yet BECAUSE she is clothed by God in what she needs, she doesn’t NEED to worry about them.  It’s not that those things don’t exist, but that she knows God is equipping her to deal with them.  If we are well equipped to deal with things then we don’t need to worry about it, as we know it is all in hand.

So perhaps we need to change our prayers and our focus sometimes.  Yes it is great to pray for future issues and challenges, that God will change them or work through them.  But lets also pray that God clothes us in what we need for those seasons and challenges so that we can forget about them, knowing we have got it.  We can “laugh at the days to come” because we don’t need to think or worry about them at all.

Next week

We will be meditating on the following verse next week and discussing it over in the Facebook Group, so please do join us:

“She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” Proverbs 31:26

You can also find lots of great resources over in the Mummy Meditations Shop, as well as some great Christmas gift ideas and printable bookmarks of all the verses we are studying in this series.

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In HER Shoes – Proverbs 31 Wife (week 10)

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Happy Sunday everyone!  And welcome to this week’s summary post.  Ok – hands up who read this week’s verse and thought “BOOORRING”?  Well that was me on Monday.  I didn’t think there was much to learn from this simple verse, but boy was I wrong.  I hope you’ll read on to find out more about this verse in Proverbs:

“She makes linen garments and sell them; and supplies the merchants with sashes”  Proverbs 31:24

what’s with all the linen???!

Being ten weeks in, immediately I noticed that it wasn’t a coincidence to see the word “linen” again.  We saw it pop up in verse 13 where she chooses the flax (the plant that linen comes from) and also in verse 22.  In verse 19 when she is spinning thread, that could also be linen that she is spinning.  So we get it – the linen is important!  But why?  Well here are a few things I found out about linen and why it is important that that is what she is making her garments out of:

  • Linen is very laborious to make.  The thread used to make it does not have elastic properties and so the fibres often broke.  This woman is not taking the easy way out, making a quick buck.  She is working hard to make something difficult.
  • Linen is strong and highly valuable.  There were many great properties about linen, including its strength as a fabric and how absorbent it was.  It also dried faster than cotton, making it cool and fresh in humid weather.  This meant that is was very valuable and used by the wealthier class of society.  This woman is not making a sub-par item, but it working to make the best quality garments she can, even if it is hard work.
  • Linen represent purity.  Its no coincidence that linen is mentioned here in relation to a noble woman and good character – linen cloth was used to represent purity and righteousness.  It was what most of the priestly garments were made out of, and there is even a passage in Revelation (15:6) where angels are wearing it!  Apparently Egyptian mummies were wrapped in it as a symbol of light and purity too.   This woman is concerned with purity too and making something righteous.

So lots of great things to learn about why this woman chooses linen to make garments of to sell on.  I guess perhaps we can apply this by asking ourselves “Am I just taking the easy way out and avoiding hard work even if it would be worth it?  Am I creating some valuable with my time?  Am I creating some righteous and of eternal value with my time?”.  What you are creating may differ greatly (most of us don’t make clothes anymore) but think about this in regards to your own life.

The right order

We come to this verse after reading that the proverbs 31 wife has already:

  1. Looked after her family.  She has provided clothes for her husband and children and food for them too.  She has a blood responsibility to them and they come first.
  2. Looked after her servants.  She has made sure they are well fed and clothed as well.  Those she has a legal/employer responsibility towards she has made sure to look after next.
  3. Looked after the poor and needy.  She has opened her arms to those who can’t look after themselves and made sure they have what they need.  They are the next most important to her.

Only after she has done these three things does she look externally to how she can make items for others who aren’t poor and needy and who can afford to pay for them.  I think there is a great lesson in this as to where we put our limited resources and energy – make sure you cover your responsibilities first (both blood and employer) and then look at what you can do next.  It is great to sell things, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of those who truly need you to look after them.

What about those sashes?

The final thing that jumped out at me was the word “sashes”.  Now, when I think of a sash this is what springs to mind:

beauty queen sash

So this verse seemed a bit excessive and pointless – why did the merchants need pretty sashes?!!  But sashes in those times were much more practical.  In fact they were much more like a belt that went around their tunics.  They would have be woven around the body several times.  Priests used them decoratively, but they were also used by the military to suspend their dagger/sword in it and some also used it as a pocket to store purses inside when folded correctly.  This was a much more useful item of clothing!   So this woman is providing the merchants with something that would have been very helpful for them, stopping their tunics getting in the way of their work and possibly even more.  She is thoughtful and caring towards others.

next week

We move on to one of the more famous verses in this passage, so it will be really interesting to see what we already know about this one:

“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come” Proverbs 31:25

I do hope that you’ll join in the discussion around this verse over in our Facebook Community, where there will also be free phone lock screens for your to download and discussion questions to help prompt your meditations!

(Don’t forget to hop over to etsy and check out our shop – why not buy a gift for a friend this Christmas?)

advent 2018

ADVENT – How are you doing it this year?

advent 2018

Before we even get to the big questions of Christmas (how do we explain santa to our kids, what  evangelistic events can we put on for our neighbours, who is going to get socks as a gift this year?!), we come to the question of advent.

Have you even thought about it?

Or is it one of those things that just happens – it suddenly becomes the 1st of December so you rush down to B and M bargains and buy a cheap chocolate calendar and let the kids have two chocolates tomorrow!  This year more than ever before there are so many secular advent calendar choices – lego, sweets, beer, and even this one:

tool kit advent calendar

I want to challenge you (with just over 3 weeks to go) to think outside the box for advent this year, and really use it as a chance to deepen your own and your kids relationship with God.  Below are some great ideas for advent, please pick and mix to suit your family (and share this post with others too!!).

Jesse Tree

jesse treeUntil recently I’d not heard of Jesse Trees, but this year I myself have bought a set of these lovely ornaments from Gospel Centred Parenting ready for advent.  The idea is that each ornament has a bible verse accompanying it, telling the story of the bible from creation to the birth of Jesus.  It is a celebration of Jesus’ ancestors and everything leading up to him coming.  I am excited to explore this with my boys this year, as in the last few years we have just explored the Christmas story in isolation.

My plan is to do this in the evening as part of their quiet time, so that we can get the next decoration, add it to the tree, read the bible verse and discuss it and pray about it as a family.  If you would like your own set, then head over to Gospel Centred Parenting where you can get the full set for £35.

GOdventure sticker advent calendars

sticker advent calendarLast year we used a fabulous sticker advent calendar from Godventure to track through the Christmas story each day in advent.  If your kids are sticker addicts then they will love this!  I had to give up my desire for the stickers to be completely straight, but it was lovely to see the picture fill up with stickers over the 24 days.

You can get a giant A1 sized poster for £15, or if your budget is a bit smaller then the A4 sized one is only £5.

reverse advent calendar

You may have seen this one on Facebook a lot last year – the concept is that instead of getting something each day in advent, you give something away.  For most people this was items of food which would be donated to a food bank at the end of advent.  What a fantastic way to teach your kids about generosity and to have a tangible impact on their local community.  It would be great to take them each day to the shop (on the way home from school maybe) to choose something to go in the box for that day.

bible society Advent Challenge

advent challengeIf you are looking for a way to cultivate generosity even more, then perhaps take a look at the Bible Society’s Advent Challenge.  There is a task of kindness for each day in advent, and last year it included things like “say three kind things today” and “let someone out before you when driving”.

shepherd on the search

shepherd on the searchIf you have ever been tempted to join in the “elf on the shelf” crave then this one is for you!  All you need is a cuddly shepherd toy to hide around the house each day (you can buy the specific branded one or just use the shepherd from your existing nativity set).  Then on the website there are downloadable cards with activities and thoughts for each day throughout advent.

Make your own pocket advent calendar

If you have a pocket style advent calendar (or fancy a bit of pre-Christmas sewing!) then why not include some bible verses in it this year.  Godventure has free downloadable cards you can add which work really well, and you add a bit to the story each day.  The sky is the limit when it comes to other creative things you could add to the pockets.

The real advent calendar

real advent calendarIf your kids would still be disappointed not to have a chocolate advent calendar, then the real advent calendar is a great choice.  It comes with a nativity story book and the chocolates are nativity shaped too.  Some of the big super markets do stock these now, but you can also order online from eden.co.uk.

Our boys have been given these for the last few years and love them – my eldest who is five was able to do the puzzles inside the little booklet last year which made him really happy!

 

Thanks for checking out this post, and I hope and pray you have found an idea to inspire you for advent this year.  Please do let me know if you choose one of the options and how it goes!

christmas pledge

The Christmas Pledge for Mums

christmas pledge

Sitting in my parents bible study group this week, I heard all the stories of stressful Christmas decisions.  Who’s house to go to this year, which grandparents you would see on the day, who was going to do the cooking.  This, I know, is just the tip of the Christmas stress iceberg.  After hearing all that, I was moved to pray for us all – that we can make godly and wise decisions before Christmas that will ensure this can be a day where we celebrate and focus on Jesus and his birth.

So I want to ask you – what is stressing you out or making you dread Christmas this year?  Is it the millions of plays/parties/commitments you will have to go to in the weeks before?  Is it the cost of Christmas shopping and who to buy presents for?  Is it the logistics of the day and who’s house you will go to?

Have you thought of something?

Right.  Take it to God.  (And your husband too!)  And make a pledge to decide on how you’re going to handle those things now to take the stress away from them.

Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10), and he especially wants to do that at Christmas.  He wants to do the best he can to distract us from what this season is really about and to destroy any chance that Jesus is worshipped during this time.  He wants to kill our nice family time and steal the joyous moments with friends and colleagues.  So lets pledge to not let that happen – when we know that its Satan doing all that then we can disarm him.  How, I hear you ask!  Well here are a few ideas that you might want to add to your Christmas pledge this year:

  1. Pledge not to get annoyed that you are really busy in this season.  Instead, rejoice in the busyness!  Don’t complain about how many things you have to go to, but instead be present at each one and revel in the people there.  Whether its parents at the school nativity play or colleagues at the Christmas party – be with them and remember this is a great chance to build relationships and invest in others.
  2. Pledge to stop feeling guilty if you can’t do everything! We all know, as I said above, that this season is ridiculously busy.  If you are a working parent then you need to make your peace now with the fact that you can’t get along to everything.  So this November, sit down and look at your calendar and decide what is feasible and what isn’t.  By doing this then you can confidently say to others what you can do (and not feel pressurised into doing more than is realistic) and you can also prepare your children for any things that you can’t get to so they won’t be disappointed.  There are so many great things going on, that if your kids have to miss out on a trip to Santa’s Grotto or you have the sacrifice the sixteenth Christmas party for a team at church, its not the end of the world!  Prioritise what is important to you and let the other things go.
  3. Pledge to spend Christmas how you want to. Ok, so this a tricky one and we are always weighing up the feelings and needs of others, but take some time out with your husband to decide where you both want to spend Christmas and how you want to celebrate before the questions and pressure comes from others.  Just because you’ve always done something doesn’t mean you always have to do that.  Think about the implications for your own mental health and also whether you can truly celebrate Jesus’ birth where you are going.  Prayerfully consider the best option for your family.  If you give people enough notice and explain the reasons why you have made your decision then you have done your part.  How they react is not your responsibility.   Believe me – you’ll feel a lot better once you’ve made a decision and it’s sorted!
  4. Pledge to only spend as much as you can afford.  Another big cause of stress is the money Christmas costs.  So lets pledge to be good stewards of the money God has blessed us with,  set a budget now (if you haven’t already) and don’t be pressurised to sway from it.  Just because others are spending lots doesn’t mean you have to.  Don’t get drawn into extra present giving – if someone gives you a gift and you haven’t reciprocated thats ok!  Enjoy their generosity and be blessed by it.  You might be able to go above and beyond another year.

Pledge to make these decisions in advance, so that advent and Christmas can be a joyous, Christ centred season where we can fully take advantage of the gospel sharing opportunities and relationship building it brings.  Take control now and don’t let Satan get a foothold in your Christmas this year!  Happy *Early* Christmas everyone!

 

proverbs 31

In HER Shoes – Proverbs 31 Wife (Week 9)

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Welcome to another week of Proverbs! We are now over half way through this series (can’t quite believe that!) and I know I have been learning so much.  This week our attention has turned to the husband of this relationship as we pondered over the following verse:

“Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.” Proverbs 31:23

ARE YOU WORTH IT?

We have had eight weeks telling us all about what amazing qualities Solomon’s future wife should have to be the best aide to him as king, and now Bathsheba turns to him.  He is the fictitious husband in this passage and I love the way that Bathsheba is saying to him – make sure you are the husband that matches this wife.  Make sure you are the man who is worthy of this by being respected in your community.  After the mistakes that David made which undermined his role as king (having affairs etc!), Bathsheba is keen that Solomon safeguards his place.  I can imagine the sniggers of other men at the city gate when David would walk by – they knew exactly what he had been up to whilst they were out fighting his battles.  He would have lost their respect despite still holding the position as king.  Bathsheba was probably subject to this sneers and comments about her husband even whilst living inside the palace, so she doesn’t want that for her future daughter in law and son.  She knows the pain that it causes and the shame that it brings upon well-respected people.

pushing each other on

proverbs 31Some lovely ladies in the Facebook Community were researching the significance of the city gate, and all the places mentioned in this verse (do hop over and check out what they found!).  But my mind was drawn to the question – what does this mean for us?  As women who are to be motivated and inspired by this passage in Proverbs, what does this verse about the husband mean for us?  Surely it is just for the man?

But I think it means that we should always be championing, pushing forward and spurring each other on to be the best we can be.  If I want to be an amazing wife then I need an amazing husband by my side, and vice versa.  Have you ever noticed that when one person stops bothering about something, the other one quickly does too?  For us it exercise and eating well.  Once one of us starts snacking and missing exercise classes, then the other is quickly dragged down into that.  Its the same with the effort it takes to be a respectable member of the community.  So if we want a husband who WANTS to be respected at the city gate (whatever that means for us now!) and WANTS to be amongst the elders (perhaps in church or in their business lives) then we need to be modelling that in our lives too.  We need to be respected amongst the other mums at the school gate, we need to be respected as a volunteer and helper at church or as the best in our work places.  When you are both pushing forward and striving for excellence it is sooooo much easier.

but I’m on my own

I know for some of you amazing mums, circumstances mean that you are now parenting solo without a man by your side.  I just want to say this – don’t let this verse discourage you.  Just because you don’t have that husband with you now doesn’t mean you won’t in the future.  Prepare yourself to be the kind of person that will spur him on and will champion him.  Better still, remember that God is there to fill that gap for you, and he definitely is the perfect husband who is respected, so use that as motivation to rise to that level and strive forward in life.

next week

We move on to meditating on the following verse:

“She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes” Proverbs 31:24

We would love for you to join in the discussion during the week over in our Mummy Meditations Facebook Community, where you will also be able to get free phone lock screens of all the verses we are studying!