Children’s Album Reviews

Hey!!!

This week I have had the huge privilege of being sent some new Children’s CD’s by 10ofthose.com to review, both of which appeal to my children (and me as a new Children’s Worker in Church!).  I’ve also reviewed an extra album which I bought myself too!  So buckle up ready for some rocking reviews…..

Awesome Cutlery – All Together Now

I hadn’t come across Awesome Cutlery before, although I was vaguely aware that every time some asked for recommendations for family devotion books they were mentioned.  This is a really fun CD to listen to, as there are little sketches interspersed with songs.  The sketches are conversations between Captain Awesomeness and Cutlery Boy (just the concept of this made my boys giggle) and in hilarious situations they try to find parallels with God and our faith.  It is done very well, and the songs that follow are often along the same themes.

Some of the songs are a bit cheesy (its a kids CD afterall) but some are really catchy!  It’s not ear vomit (like the annoying songs our alexa is asked to play on repeat….), and I have happily listened to this in the car on my own even without the kids there.

I think my favourite song is “Who I am”.   The CD is only £9.99 and available online here.

Dumbrocks – Your Word

Not sure if this is specifically a kids CD, but the upbeat songs definitely would appeal to children.  Every song is linked to a specific bible verse and has a strong biblical message.  Again I am loving the songs and listening to them on repeat in the car.  There are some simpler ones on here that would work for congregational songs, but if not then it makes good background music for family events and activities.

My favourite song has to be “Awesome Redeemer” which is sung in a round, and is one that I am planning to use in my children’s work.  The CD is £10 and available online here. 

Rend Co Kids – Sparkle Pop Rampage

OK, so I have a disclaimer here.  When Rend Collective first came on the scene I disliked them greatly.  They murdered one of my favourite old style hymns, and I hadn’t forgiven them.  My Lighthouse was an annoyance to me and I was generally grumpy in their direction.  But as my children’s ministry has increased, and I’ve seen the reaction to their music, I have softened.  So much so that I bought this myself on a book stall last weekend!  It is a little on the crazy side (this one is definitely just for kids!), and there are some hits and some misses on this album, but all in all it’s a whole lot of fun!

My favourite songs are “God is a Scientist” and “My Gods the King of Me”.  Both very catchy and funny, and my 6 year old finds the list of things that God created (which repeats “pandas and nostrils and trees” many times) absolutely hilarious.  This is a must buy if you have younger kids, and I am hoping to use a few of the songs in church.

You can buy it online here for only £7.63.

NOTE: I was sent two of these CD’s for free to review here on my blog.  My thoughts above are all my own. 

2019 Praise Points

Oh I so so love this time of year, looking back and looking forward.  As is my tradition here on my blog, this is the first in a series of two posts.  Every year has its highs and lows, it tears and joys.  But the most important thing is to praise God through them all and thank Him for what He has done in our lives.  So here is a quick summary of my 2019 (check out my plans and prayers from the start of the year here!):

  1. Becoming a School Governor.  Early in 2019 I got a phone call out of the blue asking if I wanted to join the board of Governor’s at my son’s school.  I didn’t even know what a governor did, but after a bit of research, prayer and contemplation I decided to step up to the role, and I am so glad I did.   I have made new friends and colleagues on the governing body, as well as feeling like a part of the school in a way I wasn’t before.  It’s been a steep learning curve, but such a rewarding one.
  2. Mummy Meditations New Website and Award.  My aim for early 2019 was to get Mummy Meditations set up as a website in its own right and to give it a unique identity, separate to this blog and my random ramblings about life as a Christian Mum!  Just after Easter I achieved this and it’s gone from strength to strength, even coming Runner Up in the Up and Coming Category at the Premier Digital Awards.  My plan now is to truly make it a multi-author blog and to have new voices and writers join the team, to empower other mums in this season.
  3. New Job For Hubby.  This year we really stepped out in faith and God delivered a new job for my husband at the Bible College he trained at.  It hasn’t been plain sailing but he is definitely in the place God wants him, and there is a joy that comes with knowing that.
  4. ROME!!!!! Yes we FINALLY got round to our big trip to Rome.  It was planned for our 30th Birthdays, then as a 10th Wedding Anniversary trip, and this year we made it.  It was an amazing trip, and we saw so many great sights.  All the saving up paid off.  Now where to go next?!
  5. Two more rooms finished in our home.    We have continued to crack on with DIY this year, as well as investing in the conversion of our garage into an en-suite bedroom and storage room.  The boys bedroom got decorated in the summer whilst they were away and prep work in the hall/stairs/landing area has been slowly continuing.  Bit by bit we are modernising this sixties house!
  6. Lodgers in and out. Following on from the garage conversion, we were able to welcome a new lodger into our home this September.  We also said goodbye to our other lodger who had been able to save up to buy her own home!  We love the hospitality of opening up our home to others, and being able to be a platform to the next stages of their lives.
  7. New Job For Me.  Well this wasn’t on the books at all at the beginning of 2019.  I was quite happy in my job at Teenage Cancer Trust.   But unfortunately in September I got the news that my role was being made redundant.  I am amazed by how God has used this sad news to bring even more joy, as I start the role of Youth, Children’s and Families Worker at the church in my local community, that is linked to the school I am a governor at.  So although this hasn’t technically happened yet, it all got confirmed in 2019!  Watch this space for more news on how I get on…..
  8. Northumberland.  We went camping as a family up to Northumberland this summer, and enjoyed exploring the beaches, Holy Island and castles.  I can highly recommend it as the beaches were beautiful and kept us entertained for hours.
  9. Joining NewLife.  Another big change for us was moving churches this year.  It wasn’t something we planned, but we felt God saying it was time for us to move on to somewhere new, and we always find family in church wherever we go.  The pastors at NewLife in Scunthorpe have made us very welcome, and we’re looking forward to getting more involved there in the new year.
  10. Bible Journaling Opportunities.  This year has seen lots more chances for me to run Bible Journaling Workshops, including monthly funshops in Doncaster.  With my new job starting in January I’m not sure how much I’ll get to do this year, but its been lots of fun introducing people to creative worship this year.

Wow, that’s quite a list of things that I am praising and thanking God for this year!  And I was thinking it had been quite an emotional and stressful year, but there really has been so much great stuff happen.

Things I didn’t get to do

The only plan I didn’t get to see through this year was going to Hillsong’s Colour Conference.  Due to a ticket mix up I gave my place to someone else,  but I’m booked to go again this year with some friends so hopefully that will happen!

Soundtrack to 2019

A new addition to this year’s post, but I felt like I wanted to share two songs that have impacted me hugely in 2019, and will forever be the soundtrack to this turbulent time.

My Verse of the Year

My word of the year for 2019 was “SERIOUS” and the verse that inspired that was the following:

“When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll fine me. Yes, WHEN YOU GET SERIOUS about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed” God’s Decree.” Jeremiah 29:12-14 (MSG)

After a rocky 2018 and not taking prayer and God seriously, I wanted to change that this year.  In so many situations we have just had to have faith that God would work it out, to take Him seriously on His promises.  And looking back now I can say with confidence that we have not been disappointed.  This verse has been such a comfort and an inspiration to me this year, through job changes and consultation periods, and I have found that when I put things in God’s hands instead of mine, things work out much better.  2019 – you have been a true roller-coaster, but the ups have made the downs worth it.

Christianity and the Consultation Period

Sometimes life throws you a curve ball.

For me that was getting the news in September this year of being “at risk of redundancy.”

Being at risk of redundancy means that you enter what is called a “consultation period”.  It is a stressful time where emotions are high and your future is unknown.  You get a chance to discuss the plans with your managers, suggest new ways of doing things and try to figure out what happens to you next.

My initial reactions included anger, sadness, hopelessness, betrayal and upset.  I tried to embrace these emotions and just let them come out for the first few days – we are emotional beings and I can’t stop those feelings happening.  But after a few days of feeling sorry for myself and wanting to punch someone in the face (in the nicest possible way!), I pulled myself together and went to God with it all.

I needed His guidance on what to do next, how to respond in love and how to be a great witness during all this.  And here is what I came away with:

  1. Be there for those who are going through it.  Yes this is a tough time for me personally, but there were other colleagues also going through this.  This provided a unique opportunity to show them love and support where I might not have been able to before.  I am speaking encouragement into their lives and sharing part of how I am dealing with it.  I am living out my faith in front of them (even though we are all remote workers so hardly ever meet up in person).
  2. Be at peace with what God wants you to do next.  After praying it through I felt an immense peace about accepting the decision of the leadership team where I work, and moving on.  By sharing the peace I feel about this with those at work, even though that meant I am accepting redundancy without knowing what was coming next, I showed the faith that I have in God to come through for me.  I went into my one to one consultation meeting with this peace in my heart and it showed in the way that I was able to talk so positively about my decision.
  3. Treat those in leadership with love throughout the process.  Consultation is a high stress time for all those involved.  Those in leadership have had to make some very tough and heartbreaking decisions for the good of the company.  And despite my desire to death stare them all when I found out, I know that is not the right way to do things.  In my one to one consultation I was able to empathise with those conducting the meeting and that meant that when I shared what had upset me, they actually took it more seriously.
  4. Seize the opportunity to share your faith.  In times like this people start to see how others react, they look for solutions to their problems, and this opens up doors to share what your way is.  I was actually able to share about my experience in church during my one to one consultation meeting with people that I have worked with for 8 years and never said a bean!!!  The unique conversations and emotion lead discussions give space for these conversations to happen, so seize the opportunity if it comes.

I am now at the end of this process.  Friday will be my last day before I am made redundant.  But I am so excited that having trusted God in this process, I have a new and exciting job to look forward to starting in January.  If it wasn’t for the consultation period looming in my mind I may never have applied for this new role, so I am thanking God for it.  Yes its been stressful, there have been visual migraines and tears and nights where I just wanted to curl up in a ball and it all disappear.  There have been tense phone calls and butterflies in my stomach before meetings.   But over it all God has been sovereign and I have trusted He knows best.

I am hoping that me sharing this story now gives some hope to anyone going through something similar.  Keep going in the uncertainty and cling to God.  That is all we can do.

 

 

 

Gifts from Wanapix – a review

I love personalised gifts, something that shows you’ve put a bit of extra thought in and that is unique to the person you are giving it to.  There are plenty of places nowadays that offer this service, but I was recently contacted by Wanapix, a Christian company that has some really unique and special gift items available for personalising.

 

table with floral tablecloth on

After spending hours on their website, I decided on a tablecloth for our home.  We love hospitality, having people over for meals, and we also run a Pudding Club every other month, so this seemed like a great item for us.  We affectionately call our house “Ridlerville” so I wanted a tablecloth that reflected that, and this design was perfect!  All the designs are modern and you can customise in many ways.  There are also some great Christmas themed tablecloth designs if you want something to make you Christmas table extra special.

The other item that I thought was really unique is the personalised doormats.  These items get regularly worn through in our house anyway, and if you have someone who is harder to think of ideas for this might be a good one.  They have cute family doormats with pairs of shoes (or pet paw prints!) on that you can add all your family names to.  But I loved this Beauty and the Beast inspired one.  I have covered the name over as this will actually be a gift for some friend (shhhh!!!).

doormat

What I also loved about wanapix was their attention to detail and little extras.  The website is really easy to use and makes customising items simple.  When I received my parcel there were also some extra goodies included!!  Gummy bears always welcome, but on the bottom of a very generous return offer there were some cute stickers that you could use in your diary/on presents or elsewhere.  What a lovely touch!

I did receive these good for free in return for my review, but I will be using wanapix again for future gift inspiration.  Wanapix have generously offered my readers a discount code  which will get you a whopping 50% off on tablecloths, placemats and doormats!!!!  Just use “MUMONAMISSION”  when you get to the checkout.

Enjoy!

Book Reviews – A Fruitful Home and Head Heart Hands

Thanks to 10ofthose.com for sending over copies of two new resources for me to review – one aimed at Christian parents, A Fruitful Home, and one aimed at teenagers, Head Heart Hands.

A fruitful home

I get sent lots of books, and I try to provide honest reviews of them.  So occasionally I come across some books that I just don’t get along with or click with.  We all have our own styles of writing that we enjoy, and personally I just didn’t click with Ann Benton’s style of writing.

Writing from the perspective of a grandparent who was parenting in the 1970’s means that some of the examples and viewpoints are maybe slightly outdated, despite Ann herself referring to how damaging this can be!  The language used is quite formal, so instead of feeling like I had a friend or mentor journeying with me and providing advice, it felt more like an instructional manual that I was trying hard to understand.  There were many references to traditional literature and stories, such as The Wind in the Willows and Mansfield Park, which I found quite alienating as I am not familiar with and don’t enjoy those classics.

If you click with that kind of writing then please do buy this book – there is a lot of wisdom and advice inside to help you set up the culture of your house and really start to think and consider whether our parenting is gospel focused or not.  The book is available for only £4.99 from 10ofthose.com. 

Head HEart Hands

Head Heart Hands is a new collection of bible study resources aimed at young people and teenagers.  In three volumes, they split up the book of Matthew into manageable chunks, highlighting the themes and the big picture of the book.  There are anecdotes mixed with insightful questions and space to write answers.  There are simple prayer suggestions in response to each study, and 40 studies in total in each book.  There’s plenty of blank space and pages for own notes and sketches, as well as pleasant artwork illustrating each study.

These books would be ideal for a young person who wants to start being more independent in their own bible study, or to use as a group together.   The set of three books is £12.99 (multi-buy discounts are available if buying for a group!).

 

GUEST POST – How to Journey Creatively Through Advent as a Family

Welcome everyone to November, the month where I am starting to make sure all my plans are in place to have an awesome December and festive period!!!  So I was over the moon when a friend in blogging approached me to write a guest post for us all so get us thinking about advent this year.  So without further ado, I will hand over to Lucy to tell us more…..

How to Journey Creatively Through Advent As A Family

Lucy RycroftI think we can all agree that December is a busy month.

With presents to buy, cards to send, food to prepare, and road trips to plan – on top of all the other daily pressures of having a family – it can be all too easy to allow ourselves to be distracted from who we’re celebrating.

And yet there is so much potential, as the nights draw in and we spend more time indoors with our families, to use this special pre-Christmas period – known as ‘Advent’ – to focus on Jesus.

As a mum of four children aged 5-10, I have tried and tested a huge range of different approaches and resources over the years, always knowing that we wanted our children to be in no doubt about what we were celebrating each December.

One thing we have always stressed is telling the Christmas story interactively throughout Advent.

Don’t rely on school or church or outside influences to do this work for you! As we know, sometimes the story gets distorted (anyone remember Octopus no.8 in the Nativity play featured in Love Actually??).

But even if it doesn’t, our children need to know that the Nativity story is important to us as their parents, and they will know this if we prioritise sharing the story together with them. We can also take time to explore different thoughts about the story, answer their questions, and ponder with them the unanswerable ones.

We are much more likely to remember things we do than things we read, so why not use a Nativity set to share the story simply with your children? This could be over breakfast, after nap-time, just before bed, or whenever suits your family best.

As your children get involved in moving the figures and saying the words, they will absorb the Christmas story from head to toe!

Another activity our children love is our Advent basket. It comes out at the start of December and you can read more about it here, including what we put in it.

Very simply, it’s a basket full of Christmas story books, toys, games and puzzles. Most – not all – are focused on the Nativity. The novelty of it only coming out for one month every year means that our children get excited to see it, and re-connect with items they haven’t seen for 11 months!

Why not group together all your Christmas resources into an Advent basket this year? If you have a few pounds spare, you could even buy a new book or two to add to old favourites – and this is a great time of year to scour charity shops for Nativity books and toys.

The beauty of an Advent basket is that it encourages unstructured, free play around the story of Jesus’ birth. You’re doing the ‘structured’ stuff of sharing the story most days – but the free play bit is where our children get to really absorb what they’re learning. Often we will be challenged too, if we take a moment to watch.

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t LOVE an Advent calendar! Instead of – or in addition to – a secular calendar, why not buy a Nativity advent calendar which tells the story each day? This can become your daily storytelling, or add to what you’re already doing.

If you have a perpetual Advent calendar (i.e. one with pockets or drawers which you can use each year), why not fill it with small Nativity figures, pictures representing the Christmas story, or words/Bible verses telling the story?

You could even link it in to a Jesse Tree, with a new ornament to hang on the tree each day.

Along with this, our family have always appreciated having a simple Advent candle (you can buy them from Eden, or your local Christian bookshop or Fair Trade shop, if you’re lucky enough to have one).

When it comes to sharing what you’re celebrating this Christmas, don’t underestimate the power of decorating your tree in ways which point to Jesus. I’m not saying burn all your Santas or snowmen! And I’m definitely not saying you should only buy twee Christian ornaments with Bible verses and bad art.

But how about a subtle shift from celebrating Stuff to celebrating God-Made-Man? I’m a big fan of hearts on our tree – love, after all, was the motivator to God sending Jesus to live, die and rise for us.

Lights are traditional, of course, but we can ‘reclaim’ these to share our belief in Jesus, Light of the World. I love having loads of lights up around our home during Advent!

Small Nativity figures, crowns, babies, angels – when you spot something which will help communicate what we’re celebrating to our families, friends and anyone who visits, snap it up!

And, finally, don’t neglect yourself this Advent. We parents spend our lives caring for others – but if we don’t care for ourselves, we’ll be no good for anyone else!

Make sure you’re topping up your tank this Advent by making a habit of spending time with God. You could use an Advent devotional to do this – my book, Redeeming Advent, was written to help busy people doing All.The.Things to connect with Jesus. Each of the 24 days starts with a typical Christmassy family anecdote, which leads into a Bible reflection, questions to ponder and a prayer suggestion.

There are plenty of other devotionals out there if mine doesn’t appeal. Or maybe you’ll make a habit of weekly meeting with a prayer triplet, or joining an Advent course.

However you connect with God this Advent, I hope and pray it will give you the fuel to ignite not only your passion for Christ, but your children’s passion to get to know their Saviour more.

JOIN ME BACK ON MY FACEBOOK PAGE LATER TODAY (5th November 2019)  FOR THE CHANCE TO WIN A SIGNED COPY OF REDEEMING ADVENT!!!

 

Christianity and The Class Bear

Hey everyone,

It’s been a while.  Life has taken over, with school work, job changes, new ministries and lots more.  But I want to be back here encouraging you all to keep going in your mission as a mum.  I want to share some stories of things that have been happening in my life where I’ve had a chance to provide a small glimpse of Jesus to people in my community.

The first story I want to share is called “Christianity and The Class Bear”.

If you’ve got a child in nursery or school then you’ve probably encountered the class bear.  If you have a baby then at some point in the future you may well do!  My three year old has a class bear (although his name is Peter Puppy!) that every member of the class gets to take home one weekend out of the year.  Whilst visiting the class member, the bear gets to experience life in that household and the lucky parent gets to document it in a book that comes with the bear.   Photos, drawings, tickets, etc can all be added in so that the other members of the class can see what the bear has been up to.

Well, I overheard a lot of parents saying what pressure there was to do something exciting whilst the bear was with them.  Trips out or exciting activities will surely show the other class mates what a great family you are.  So when Peter Puppy came to stay with us I had high standards to live up to!

But instead of buying in to that theme of trying to outdo the other parents for what we had planned, I decided to see it as a mission opportunity.  As a family we are quite unique, because we have Jesus tying us all together.  I wanted that to show through in the photos we shared and the activities we did.  So I included a picture of Peter Puppy worshipping at our church service.  I included a picture of him meeting our lodger, because our family welcomes people into it even if they aren’t flesh and blood.

So if you are the recipient of the class bear anytime soon, what window into your life can you share?  Maybe you can show the parents and children in that class that there are others ways of living, and the difference that going to church and having Jesus in your life makes.

What I’m Reading This Summer

Who doesn’t love a good reading list!  Since getting a kindle, I’ve been reading lots of fiction books, but I’ve also got a big pile of normal books that I’m looking forward to reading.  So if you need some inspiration for over the summer then here we go…..

(DISCLAIMER – I was gifted copies of The Heart of God and The Mind Muddler by 10ofthose.com and gifted a copy of Are We Brave Enough? by the author)

THe HEART OF GOD

A devotional style book, this has three months worth of material to help you pray through the scriptures.  I am finding this book really interesting, as my prayers are normally quite freestyle, so this is challenging me to increase their content and form.  In the introduction the author explains that over the centuries people have tended to two extremes – either excessive form (too repetitive) or excessive freedom (whatever comes to mind).

If you find yourself in one of those categories with your prayers then give this book a try.  Each day has some scripture to read and pray and also some questions to inspire prayer around that scripture, so it is a good mix of form and freedom.

The Mind Muddler

Ok, so this is technically a kids book, but its been an interesting read and sparked some thoughts about concepts I wanted to teach my kids.  It is tackling the subject of sin and how to explain that to children through rhyme and fun graphics.  I still think its a bit confusing for children, as sometimes the concept is lost through wanting the words to rhyme, but overall it is a helpful book to add to your collection.  It talks well about how our thinking gets skewed and tangled and we don’t see things clearly without God.  There are also lots of resources at the back of the book to help parents and downloadable resources online to go along with it.

 

52 Uncommon Dates

Early this year I read the 5 Love Languages for the first time, and found it to be really helpful in the way I looked at my marriage. However, its not always easy to put everything into practice!!  Gary Chapman who wrote the 5 Love Languages does a foreword in this book, and the author takes the love languages into account all the way through this.

It is a really fun clash of practical ideas and including the bible in our marriages.  It has 52 ideas for dates that married couples can do, with a bible verse to inspire it, things to pray around it, how to make it happen and ideas on how to use it to love someone with different primary love languages.  All in all its a bit of fun with the bible thrown in too, an idea match in my opinion!  I have yet to put one of the dates into practice – I feel they might be once a month and so this book will last us an eternity!

Are We Brave ENough?

I was gifted this book by the author and was really excited to get reading it as the author has been instrumental in the church unity movement here in Doncaster for many years.  Having been a part of many different denominations of church and seeing the different styles of worship on offer, I strongly believe that the church as a whole is stronger when we work together instead of pitting ourselves against each other.  This book provide 5 changes/challenges to ourselves and our churches if we want to see our local areas transformed by the church as a whole.

Peppered with lots of illustrations and first hand stories from the front line, this is a challenging read for all Christians to see the church as a whole body and not our own separate kingdoms.

 

 

Plastic Free July, Parenting and Powering Down

So its been a little while since I’ve had head space to write on my blog.  Personal circumstances have been stressful, and whilst we’ve been trusting God in the waiting, its not always conducive to coherent thinking!!!  But I wanted to pop back and share a few of my thoughts from the last few months, and hopefully inspire you in your parenting journey.

Plastic Free July

The first thing I want to talk about is Plastic Free July.  Now, you probably think that I’m mad for signing up to take part in this whilst my head is already swimming, but I decided that I had ignored my part in plastic pollution for too long now and it was time to do something about it.  Now, our monthly budget is pretty slim so we haven’t been able to make all the changes I wanted to, but the boys have really enjoyed thinking about how to use less plastic.  So here are some of the things we have done (or are thinking of doing) if you want to do the same:

  • switch back to using bar soap (or rubba dubba soap as the boys call it!).  Its mega cheap compared to liquid soap and lots less plastic used.
  • consider using a local milk man with glass bottles.  We are still considering this one because there are many pros and cons – one being financial, but also we use a lot of milk in our house and there is the possibility of it going off on the doorstep.
  • Order toilet roll from “Who Gives A Crap where it is wrapped in paper, recycled and delivered in bigger boxes for economy.  If you want £5 off your first order here’s a voucher for you!
  • Start making ecobricks with your single use plastics.  It stops whatever plastic we do have coming in from just being thrown away into landfill.  Find out more here.
  • buy reusable lunch boxes, packaging and beeswax wraps for food out to stop the use of clingfilm.
  • Take a travel mug with you wherever you go and remember to ask for take out drinks in it (you might even get a discount!).  I have a “keep cup” and I love the swivel lid that locks into place to keep your hot drink from spilling.
  • Take reusable shopping bags with you EVERYWHERE
  • Try to choose lose vegetables in the supermarket

Ok, so we’ve not done amazingly, but I’m quite happy that we’ve made a start with some little changes.  Hopefully if we all do it will start to send a message to the suppliers that this is the way we want it.  Find out more about Plastic Free July here.

What can you do to help reduce plastic usage this July?

Parenting

So we are all aware that the summer holidays are here, and I have been meticulously planning our calendar and summer holiday bucket list.  Parenting has been up and down over the last few months, with a few blips in behaviour, so I want to make sure this is a positive summer where our boys grow in faith, love and knowledge (and have fun along the way).  Amongst our daily tasks as drum practice, chores, bible study, reading, cooking dinner together and handwriting practice.  We are also planning a charity event too for our neighbourhood.

What do you have planned for the summer?

Powering down

Me and my husband lead a youth weekend at the beginning of July, and the theme was “unplugged”.  It really got me thinking about making sure I have time to power down from life and connect with God properly.  It’s a bit depressing that this is constantly something I have to remind myself to do.  But technology is an addiction that is tough to break.  I am really valuing the “HOLD” app on my smartphone to help me with this (it gets me rewards like free popcorn at the cinema!) as it stops me from serial checking my phone all the time.

What helps you power down so you can connect with God?

 

In HER Shoes – Esther (Week 16)

mummy meditations banner

It’s the LAST WEEK studying Esther!!  Who else is sad to say goodbye to this woman from the bible?  I think this has been one of the biggest characters we have studied so far, with her story quite well known by all of us.  But even so, by stepping into Esther’s shoes we have discovered far more depth to the emotion of this story and the things that might have been playing out for her.

Our final verse to meditate on was:

“In every province and in every city to which the edict of the king came, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and celebrating. And many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them” Esther 8:17

Zooming out

This week the verse is unusual compared to all the others we have studied, in that Esther is not actually mentioned in it at all!  But I wanted to close on this scene, where the author of the book (remember this would have been a male writer) zooms out from the action at the palace to look at the whole region.  It feels like Esther is not important anymore, now she has completed her part in saving the Jews, but for good reason.  The important thing is the reaction of those who depended on her – that there was joy and gladness and celebrating.

In a way it’s a little sad that Esther isn’t mentioned here – I mean surely this is her victory?  She put in the time, the effort, the risk.  But actually, God is the hero here.  He planted the idea in Mordecai’s mind, gave Esther to confidence to approach the King, gave the King a dream which put him in the right mind to agree to Esther’s requests, and ultimately save the Jews.  How often do we get caught up in getting the credit when really it all belongs to God?

It’s all ok in the end

I was reminded again this week that God never does anything the way we imagine or think.  Mordecai and Esther were purely focussed on saving the lives of the Jews, their own bacon!  But once again God has something bigger on his mind – not just the Jews but many many others too.  At the end of this verse, we see that people of other nations became Jews!  Maybe that was his plan from the beginning, the Jews and Esther were all just a detail along the way to the salvation of some more of his precious children.  How amazing is that!!

Our worst failures, our most complicated problems, our dilemmas and tragedies and curve balls in life are maybe just there so that God can bring even more of his precious children back to him.  Doesn’t that put things in perspective for us?

In Her Shoes

My biggest thing this week was to try and put myself in Esther’s shoes in the midst of this verse.  Yes, the author may have zoomed out from her at this point, but she is still there.  Where was she during this?  Was she alone in the Palace, not really getting to celebrate after her part in this?  Was she allowed out to see the jubilation?  Was she just completely and utterly exhausted after the emotional and spiritual battle she has just taken part in?  I think probably the later.  That she was happy and relieved that things have turned out well,  but well and truly exhausted.  Too exhausted to really celebrate in the way that the Jews outside the Palace walls were.

I hope that Esther was thankful too.  After spending all that time praying and fasting beforehand, I really hope that her first instinct after this result was to praise and thank God for answering her prayers.

What happened next?

The rest of the book of Esther (do read it if you get a minute) details the final points of setting up Purim as a holiday to be celebrated every year.  Nothing else much is mentioned of Esther after that, so we don’t know if she had a happy ending or not.  Did she have children?  Did the King love her more as Queen after this episode of their lives?  We simply do not know.  And it isn’t important, otherwise it would be documented.  Some parts of our lives we see God clearly moving, directing every step and making huge changes and advances with us.  Some parts we are simply getting on with the day by day.  And that is ok.  That is life.  If Esther teaches us anything, it is that we should remember to turn to God in those big moments, as he is the one who has the power to change the final outcome.

What was your biggest thing to take away from Esther?  And what did you learn that surprised you?  I’d love to hear!

New Series

We are now going to have a week off from Mummy Meditations whilst I finish preparing all the resources for our new series – Unnamed Women of the Bible (Part 1!).  I hope you will join me next Sunday 5th May when the first verse is announced!

In the meantime, head over to the new Mummy Meditations Website – all the summary posts for the new series along with all info about how to get involved (including our new Mummy Meditations Family membership….) will be on that dedicated webpage now:

www.mummymeditations.co.uk