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A Cuppa With Haidee from Holy Hope

haidee from Holy Hope

Do you ever pick up the phone and spend an hour talking, dreaming and losing track of time?  Well that is what happened when I interviewed a new friend of mine, Haidee, from www.holyhope.co.uk.  So grab your own cuppa and sit down to find out more about how it all started and Haidee’s latest exciting project….

1. Introduce yourself to us in one sentence ….

I’m a Northerner living in the South with my husband and family, running creative business Holy Hope.

2. What is it that you make/do?

I run a website which aims to gather Christian creatives and encourage people in their creativity.  I am also an artist, so sell some of my one of a kind pieces on the website too.  At the moment we are developing Bible Journaling Kits and products to accompany them to help people explore bible journaling and their own identity in Christ.

Holy Hope banner

3. Tell us the story of how it all started.

I had been creative for a long time, enjoying doing prayer collages long before bible journaling became popular.  Twelve years ago, just after giving birth to my daughter Isobel, I suffered with post-natal depression, and to help deal with this I started painting.  I heard God say that I should go and do an art GCSE, but when I signed up they didn’t have enough students to run the GCSE course so I ended up doing an A Level in art instead.

A little after this we moved down South, and I was thinking about doing a degree in Art.  I went along to a meeting and they said that next year university fees were going to be going up considerably.  It was now or never, so I ended up doing my second degree in Art.  Half way through my 3rd year of the course, the college came into some troubles.  I ended up getting some compensation money because of this, and I used it to set up my own art studio and website.  God gave me the name “Holy Hope” for it, and it all started to fall into place!  A friend offered me her stall at New Wine festival as she couldn’t go last minute and so Holy Hope was launched as a community of Christian artists.

Since then I have been gathering other Christian creatives with different skills to be part of the Holy Hope team.

4. How do you include your faith into your work and what you make?

When I am painting, I like to focus on a particular bible verse which I will try to illustrate.  I find it is a form of prayer and meditation for me.  With the Holy Hope website I am excited to use Christian art to reach out to others.  I love running craft evenings myself too, and find that creativity really builds relationships.  People let their barriers down when they are creating and start to connect with each other.  One example is that I have been teaching my cleaner, who isn’t a Christian, to do embroidery using bible verses, and she is taking those words into her heart.

5. What is your latest project about?

Bible Journaling KitOur latest project is some great quality Bible Journaling Kits which have been written and made in the UK specifically to encourage our nation.  Each kit will contain a set of specially designed stamps on the theme, an ink pad, cut out tabs on the stamp packaging and a bible journaling companion book containing four guided studies on the theme.  These are available now to pre-order for a reduced price of £22, ready for launch on April 3rd 2018.

Complementary products will also be available on the website soon, produced by other Christian artists in the UK, including stickers, mugs, badges and bookmarks.

The first kits will follow our Identity collection and will explore our own identity in God, so a fantastic way to start your bible journaling journey.

identity collection mugs

6. Do you have any inspiration or encouragement for us?

Just have a go!  Even if all you can do is just colouring, you can make your bible change and speak to you in different ways by being creative in it.  Make sure you spend lots of time in the word.

7. Please share a photo of your favourite mug!

This mug is “I am enough” and is one of my Identity collection mugs.  I love this one as it seems to be something I write in my diary a lot and is something that as women we need to take hold of and believe.

I am enough mug

Huge thanks to Haidee for taking the time to talk to me during the busyness of launching Holy Hope’s first ever Bible Journaling Kits.  I do hope you will head over and check out all the other lovely items on her website too, and I will be praying that the launch goes well in April!

cath kidson mug

A Catch Up Cuppa with Michelle Pannell

Michelle Pannell

Back in June last year, I had my first virtual cuppa with Michelle Pannell, blogger over at Mummy from the Heart.  And since then we have become good friends online and Michelle is a constant inspiration to me of what the next stage of parenting my own children should look like.  So I was very excited when she agreed to have another cuppa with me and let me know how things have been going.  Pull up a chair and join us……

Hey you!  Its been a year or so since we last spoke, so remind us a bit about yourself in one sentence…
I’m Mich, mum to three and writer at Mummy from the Heart. Gods placed me in the privileged position right now of being able to be home to support my husband, be with our kids and volunteer for various local charities.
What has happened in the last year for you and your family?
If I’m honest I’ve avoided responding to your questions Rachel as I read this one and though ‘well, nothing’. Life is exactly the same as it was this time last year and I felt a bit inadequate but then I got over myself and placed my eyes back on God and realised I am right where he wants me to be at the moment. My husband is a Director at the Christian conference centre where we live and as part of this community we get to nurture and care for around fifty international volunteers at a time. Living here also means I can volunteer for a number of charities like the food bank, school PTA, homeless night shelter and TLG coaching a vulnerable child. Our children are growing up surrounded by amazing Christian role models and I have the time to focus on what God is asking me to do, which is work through many character traits and past issues.
Have there been any answers to prayer or moments when you have seen God moving really clearly?
From January to May I took part Ina Freedom in Christ course and this was really good. I found myself relearning all Gods truths that I seem to have let slip over the last decade. The follow up interviews have been even more revealing and God has been speaking to me powerfully about staying in tune with him and not letting my will get in the way.
How have your kids grown and changed?  Has this changed your parenting style?!
Obviously they are all growing up but a year hasn’t made too much difference at their ages. My girls are 10 and now in year 6, so we’ve just had the joy of secondary school visits and making their applications. JJ is 14 and in year 9 and he continues to do well in school but we are having to coax him out of his bedroom and the online world and want to do more outdoors activities. I don’t think my parenting style has changed, I’m very open with the kids and give them a good amount of responsibility but they have firm boundaries to work within.
What does the next year hold for you and what can we be praying for?
I have no idea and God is telling me to just enjoy that. We moved to where we now live because God asked us to and we’ll move again when he next makes it clear we should, so this makes it a little difficult for forward planning. At the moment God has told me to keep working on getting fit for purpose, this means working on breaking strongholds around my weight and overeating. So please pray that I hear God more clearly than the devil and I can make the choices that will help me be ready for whatever He decides is next.
Have you come across any great resources for mission or teaching our children about the bible that you can share with us all?
Not really, as a family we don’t tend to use any aids to study together. Our conversations tend to come from our individual bible readings, school lessons and things just going on in our community life.
Finally – show us a pic of your favourite mug!
cath kidson mug
One of my many Cath Kidsons
Thank you so much for joining me again Michelle, and I will be praying for break through in getting fit this coming year. x
catch up with joanna may chee

A Catch Up Cuppa with Joanna May Chee

catch up with joanna may chee

I offered all the lovely people that I spoke to a year ago in my first series of cuppa with interviews the chance to catch up and tell us all what they’ve been up to.  Joanna was the first to take me up on the offer, so lets see what’s been going on in her life…..

1. Hey you! Its been a year or so since we last spoke, so remind us a bit about yourself in one sentence…

I’m Joanna, wife to an amazing man, mum to four incredible teens, and I blog at MumsKidsJesus.com.

2. What has happened in the last year for you and your family?

It’s been a huge year. We moved back to UK from Turkey. It’s been a time of adjustment, getting used to English culture again, making new friends and enjoying easy food!

3. Have there been any answers to prayer or moments when you have seen God moving really clearly?

Lots! The six of us arrived back in UK with six suitcases and no home! God miraculously provided a wonderful house, a job for my husband, and schools for our kids. A lovely answer to prayer has been being able to get pets for our kids. We promised them a dog and cat when we moved back to UK but our landlord had a strict ‘no-pet’ policy. Miraculously, after he met us, he allowed us to get a puppy, and now one year later, after many prayers and continued begging from my daughter, he has also allowed us a kitten!

4. How have your kids grown and changed? Has this changed your parenting style?!

It’s been a year of change for our children. Two of them miss their friends in Turkey terribly, and have found it very difficult to settle here. Another, who was very unhappy in Turkey, is thriving here! Our eldest has left home and is hugely enjoying university life. I don’t think our parenting style has necessarily changed but we have had to be very sensitive to our children’s needs, and help our kids through the grief of leaving home and friends, and help them deal with anger and upset, which at times has been directed at us. I have needed to apologise to the two children who have had the toughest time (for uprooting them), and they are slowly becoming happier here.

5. What does the next year hold for you and what can we be praying for?

I’m really excited. Some of my life-long dreams are becoming reality! I’ve always wanted to write a book, and my first book ‘Forever Loved: Eve’s Story’ is going to be published in the next few months. It’s a creative retelling of the Bible story of Eve, focusing on God’s incredible love for Eve (and for us as women). I’ve also just released an online course called Knowing God: Going Deeper. This is a free 3-day course for women who are hungry for more of God. I’m quite nervous about putting it out there as it’s the first time I’ve ever videoed myself, but I really pray it reaches and blesses many women. God’s done so much in my life, and I want to share it.

On top of all that, I’m about to launch a new website – JoannaMayChee.com – which will feature my upcoming books and courses and be a devotional resource for women. I’d love you to pray as I put the finishing touches to all these projects, especially to get the book out there soon – there have been many hitches and delays, and it will be amazing to just have it done! Thank you!

6. Have you come across any great resources for mission or teaching our children about the bible that you can share with us all?

A great resource for families in transition (especially going to or from the mission field) is 22 Activities for Families in Transition by Amy Young (scroll down her page to view it). It’s filled with fun activities to help you and your family prepare for and process change. I also recommend Girls Created To Shine – a fun 12-week course in God’s word and the issues girls face today. This course is created by a wonderful friend of mine, and I hugely respect her heart to reach tween girls with God’s truth and love.

7. Finally – show us a pic of your favourite mug!

I don’t actually drink tea or coffee, so this mug gets used more by my daughter! But it’s still a special mug, given to me by my lovely sister-in-law.

sister mug

Its been so great to catch up with you Joanna – praying for this next amazing step in your writing dream x

fallen warriors

A Cuppa with Mark Anderson Smith

a cuppa with mark anderson smith

Welcome to another cuppa with interview – pop the kettle on a get comfy as we get to know Mark a little bit better…

1. Introduce yourself to us in one sentence ….

Hi, I’m Mark Anderson Smith and I’ve been a missionary, a mystery shopper, a health care assistant, and have crewed on a North Sea helicopter, but now make a living developing applications and databases for businesses.

2. What is it that you create?

fallen warriorsI’m a writer and have published two novels: Christian thriller—Fallen Warriors, and political novel—The Great Scottish Land Grab

To read more info on these and find out where to buy visit www.dragonlake.co.uk

You can also read reviews of Fallen Warriors on Goodreads.

3. Tell us the story of how it all started.

It started many years ago aged eight when I realised I wanted to create worlds like the ones I was reading about and tell stories about those worlds. Fast forward a couple of decades to 2007 while I wrote short stories and articles, when something said in a church service sparked the thought that it would be great to create a TV series where the characters performed miracles like we read in the bible. I hadn’t a clue how to get a TV series made so decided I would turn the idea into a novel which became Fallen Warriors.

I jotted down ideas and made a start and then realised that an idea I’d had ten years previously—about a terrorist attack in York, England—could work really well if I joined the two stories up. The story turned out to be harder to write than I’d believed possible and I stalled a few times. Then on a business trip I had another idea.

I’ve always been interested in owning land and found a website called: Who Owns Scotland. The website highlighted that much of the land we think of as publically owned is actually owned in secret by a few wealthy people. Looking deeper into the history of how that land came to be owned by them revealed a sordid tale of greed and violence and deception. It got me thinking: what if we could grab that land back. Within a few minutes I’d turned that thought into a title: The Great Scottish Land Grab.

All well and good, but I was already working on one novel and knew I needed to finish that, until someone suggested I try the NaNoWriMo challenge – write a 50,000 word novel during November. I couldn’t use Fallen Warriors, but knew this was a chance to complete a first draft of a novel and so accepted the challenge. By the end of that month I had my very first draft completed!

The problem then was that I had no experience of editing a story. I now had two novels, one partially complete and the other with a few major flaws and didn’t know how to turn them into the gripping stories I wanted them to be.

In the meantime I was developing my career as a software developer. Early in 2014 it occurred to me that I spent all day, every day, writing and editing code and documents that were being used by hundreds of people. I’d never thought to link my day job to my fiction writing. While editing a story is very different to editing a computer program, I realised I did have editing skills and just needed to work out how to use them to improve my novels.

2014 was a crazy year in Scotland. We held an independence referendum on whether or not to leave the UK. As I started to get caught up in discussions about how to vote, I realised The Great Scottish Land Grab could be adapted to be set during the referendum and that I could introduce some cliff-hanger events that would propel the story along. I set myself the task of writing a series of four short books to be released in the months leading up to the referendum. The Great Scottish Land Grab was eventually completed in three published ebooks just a week before the vote was due!

Having successfully edited and published Land Grab I then turned back to Fallen Warriors which was published in March this year.

 

4. How do you include your faith into your work and what you make?

In Land Grab it was quite subtle. I wanted the main characters—Robert and Helen Castle—to have the same worldview that I have and so in my mind they are Christians. However, some of the choices that Robert makes are quite extreme. There was more than a little Mussolini in him! At times in the story, the way he faces off against the police and High Court judges and politicians is revolutionary, and I felt it was important to push him as far as I could, to get under the skin of what it might take to transform a nation

In Fallen Warriors I wanted to avoid clichés that I’d seen in Christian stories before. The underlying story is of broken and damaged people being called to do great things by God, yet struggling with real life problems. It’s been quite satisfying to find that readers are able to relate to the struggles and suffering the characters face and also find hope that God is at work even in the darkest places we find ourselves.

5. Do you have any inspiration or encouragement for us?

Probably since 2003 I’ve been very focused on goals. I had a mini mid-life crisis when I turned thirty, realised I couldn’t really support my family, that I had two children and no career. I made the decision to go back to school, got a Higher National Certificate and found that focusing on clear goals could have a transformative effect on my life.

I would encourage everyone reading this to think about what you want out of life, to think about what is really important, to think about where you want to be in five and ten years time. Set some big, scary, ambitious goals and start thinking about how you could achieve them, and asking God and discussing with friends. I found that as I did this, my priorities changed and that I found true friends who came alongside and helped me.

Recently I’ve been reading In His Steps by Charles M. Sheldon. This is posing a new challenge to me…

6. Please share a photo of your favourite mug!

Mark Anderson Smith I’ve a few favourite mugs, but the one I’m holding in the picture means a lot to me. If you zoom in, you might just see the Microsoft Access database logo with a little wizard’s hat sitting on top. Recent clients gave this to me after I completed a project for them developing a database system that automated the creation of Power-Point slide decks. It meant a lot to have the work I did and the time I spent mentoring the team valued by them.

And that’s me!

 

Thank you so much Mark for sharing a bit of your creative journey with us!  Praying all goes well with your two books (don’t forget to check out the links to where you can buy them!).

bible verse bracelet on backing card

A Cuppa with Katy Day

katy day

Sit down, snuggle up and get ready to know the talented Katy Day a little bit more, one of the amazing Cheerfully Given sellers….

1. Introduce yourself to us in one sentence ….

Katy Day- A work in progress (Philippians 1:6) mainly running on coffee and Jesus!

2. What is it that you make?

I design and make jewellery, my passion being creating Christian jewellery that will spark conversations about the gospel. I have a shop on Etsy that sells a mix of secular and Christian jewellery and also on the new website Cheerfully Given which a Christian based website .

3. Tell us the story of how it all started.

I started making jewellery when I was pregnant with my son, 12 years ago, as a hobby. After bible verse bracelet on backing carddabbling with selling it to friends and family and at craft events I went back to work as a primary school teacher when my youngest started school. However, it became apparent in only a few years that teaching and motherhood weren’t compatible due to the long hours worked and a very grumpy snappy mum not being around for those all important chats and laughs that are fundamental to family life. After praying and trusting where God was leading, I left teaching in 2014 in order to seriously concentrate on my business and it has been blessed by God and growing steadily since! God has directed my path the whole way along and continues to do so, he’s the ultimate ‘Boss’!

4. How do you include your faith into your work and what you make?

katy day jewelleryAt craft events/parties I always take a mix of Christian items and secular, as a a kind of silent witness. I try and conduct my business relationships as an example of my faith as well, remembering that I should work ‘wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people,’ (Ephesians 6:7) It’s important to me to try and include God’s word in my pieces, either directly as part of my designs, like my fabric bracelets which I print myself or the stamped bracelets, or in a personalised way, such as my sterling silver jewellery which is presented on a card with scripture.

5. Do you have any inspiration or encouragement for us?

That everything takes time! When I was younger I was so impatient and used to run ahead of God a lot when He gave me an idea and then I’d waste time having to turn round and come back into line with Him! Now I’ve learnt patience and not to be so hard on myself when I don’t get it ‘right’ the first time. Or the second. Or the tenth! That time with your children, not things (or even ‘experiences’) is what really matters. Those times in the car chatting, or when they climb up on your lap just before bedtime (my kids still do this!!!) or want to tell you about their day…those are the times that your relationships get closer. Honesty as well, I tell them when I don’t know the answer, I say sorry a lot when I’ve done something wrong. Pray with them, even when it seems they don’t take any notice, you will look back and see God’s hand on their lives and be able to tell them. My daughter is 14 and has just made a re-commitment (praise God!) after a difficult few years, my son is nearly 12 and also made a re-commitment this summer. I can see that God still has a lot to do in them, but that’s ok, He is still working on all of us! The most important thing…teach your children about Jesus, or the world will teach them not to. Talk about God, His word, the truth of it every day in ‘normal’ conversations and situations. As the world grows more fake they need His truth to stand on more than ever.

6. Please share a photo of your favourite mug!

mug

Thanks so much for having a cuppa with me Katy – praying your business goes from strength to strength x

mug and teapot

A Cuppa With Johanna Baldwin

johanna baldwin

Welcome back to another in my cuppa with series!  I have my tea in hand and am ready to get to know another amazingly creative lady (whose new book I actually won and reviewed on behalf of Eden.co.uk!) ….

1. Introduce yourself to us in one sentence ….

Hi, I’m Johanna, I’m 33, I have two beautiful children and a very lovely husband, and I’m trying my best to listen to and live out God’s callings for my life.

2. What do you do at the moment and how did “A Really Incredible Feast” come about?

Johanna's familyAt the moment I am a full time mum to John (3 and a half) and Sophie (20 months). I also lead a Roots Group along with my husband Andy as part of our church, have recently joined the team that plans and organises our church’s annual women’s conference (Winter Glory) and will be helping out with the daytime Alpha Course starting at our church in September.

My book of rhyming Bible stories for children, “A Really Incredible Feast” was published by Scripture Union in July this year. I wrote the first two stories over four years ago now, after struggling to find what I was looking for when I wanted to buy a baptism present for the baby of friends who aren’t really believers themselves. There were lots of great Bible story books out there, which I knew that parents who knew Jesus would be keen to read with their children, but I was concerned that any Bible or Bible stories I might give to my friends might just get put on a shelf and forgotten. The children I knew were really into fun, rhyming books like Julia Donaldson’s “The Gruffalo” or “Stick Man” and I wanted something that would grab children’s attention in a similar way, with fun rhymes and rhythms, and great illustrations to engage them in the stories.

Before becoming a mum, I was a children’s speech and language therapist, so I know that hearing and reading rhyme is really good for children’s development of speech, language and literacy, and is a powerful way to help make things memorable. Having been unable to find what I was looking for, I decided to have a go myself. I wrote the first two stories, and sent them off to one publisher, but received a reply to say they weren’t interested. By this stage I was part-way through my first pregnancy, pretty tired and pretty busy, and the project got put to one side for a while.

johanna baldwin and daughterWhen my son was 1 year old, we went to Spring Harvest, which was the first real time out I’d had to reflect and listen to God in a while. In one seminar we were encouraged to write down our ‘dreams from God’ and to think about steps he was calling us to take towards those things. One of my dreams was the rhyming Bible stories idea. Back at home afterwards, I shared this with my church Roots Group, read them the two stories I had written, and they were all really enthusiastic and encouraging. Spurred on by these things, I sent the stories to Scripture Union, and after a long wait, heard that they wanted to use them, but wanted four more stories to create a collection of six.

By this stage my son was 2 years old and I also had a 7 month old baby who was not sleeping at all well! Finding time to write was definitely a challenge, but I thoroughly enjoyed writing each story, and it was really fun to do something that was me ‘being me’ as well as the all consuming sleep deprived mum role! From there, SU found the amazing Hannah Wheeler to do the illustrations, and in July this year it was published! A very surreal feeling for me, seeing my name on the front of a book, but it really is a dream (from God!) come true.

3. Do you have any more books planned for the future?

I’m just starting to have some regular time to sit down and think about/write some more stories. My cousin’s children have requested some stories from the Old Testament next, so I will see what I can come up with! I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in to writing some more, as it is such a fun process when it flows well. I’m really hoping that “A Really Incredible Feast” will be popular enough that SU will want to publish some more!

4. How do you include your faith into your work and writing?

I may have answered this in Question 2… but the whole thing has been very much inspired by my love of God, and my desire to be able to help children to enjoy reading about him in order to get to know him better, and to understand how amazing and exciting he is. Each story in “A Really Incredible Feast” is about a miracle that Jesus did, so before starting each one, I spent time reading all of the gospel accounts of the story, thinking carefully about the interesting details, and the ideas and messages I wanted to communicate to the readers, and praying that God would inspire my writing.

5. Do you have any inspiration or encouragement for us?

When I first started thinking about writing the stories, the idea of actually seeing them published felt like a really improbable thing to the rational part of me, and that first rejection was really discouraging, but God kept nudging me and prompting me, and although it felt like a very long process, his timing has been perfect, and it has been so exciting to see this dream come to fruition. I am sure there are many other people out there who could have written these stories just as well, if not better, than me, but nobody had, so I listened to God’s quiet prompting and gave it a try. So I’d like to encourage others to persevere and keep trusting God when things that you believe he is calling you to do take a long time to happen. And also if you see a gap that needs filling, and no-one else is doing it, and you have the skills and can make the time, then give it a go!

6. Please share a photo of your favourite mug!

mug and teapot

Thanks Johanna for sharing that amazing journey of writing your book with us!  You can follow Johanna on twitter @johannarbaldwin , read my review of “A Really Incredible Feast” here or grab your own copy for only £5.99 at Eden.co.uk

rory henderson

A Cuppa With Rory Henderson

 

rory henderson

I am carrying on my series of “cuppa with” interviews by chatting to the very talented Rory Henderson, who has been working on something very exciting…..

1. Introduce yourself to us in one sentence ….

Hi, my name is Rory and I’m a graphic design student that likes to make nice images.

2. What is it that you create?

boatEverything! That may be a slight exaggeration, but I enjoy a wide range of things. I like to make posters and videos and all sorts of imagery. I mostly use a computer, but I always involve a large range of techniques in what I do, like photography, illustration, CGI and typography. I especially enjoy working with others, as it means I can help them express their ideas in the best way possible. I try to be as flexible as I can as an artist, and that means I usually end up producing a wide range of things for a wide range of ideas. At the moment my interest is primarily in typography, but in the end I could probably be summed up as an image maker. There’s so many different ways out there to make art, the endless possibilities are very exciting. And I’m only really at the beginning of it all!

3. Tell us the story of how it all started.

I never considered doing art seriously until after looking at potential universities, when I found out that you could make a career out of being creative, who knew! I wasn’t even taking art as a subject at the time, so I took some convincing and encouraging from friends and teachers, but I ended up making a portfolio in my free time which showed me how much I enjoyed being creative, and got me into uni. I originally wanted to do a subject called creative advertising – as the emphasis was all on idea generation and being innovative and thinking outside the box – but I am thankful that I ended up doing graphic design, as it offers me such freedom in my creative practice.

4. How do you include your faith into your work and what you make?

Because I make a wide range of things, I often end up working on projects that don’t allow me to express my faith in my art. But I try to always include it, to whatever extent possible. The graphic designer however is almost always serving others, so I can do this to the glory of God! Creating and being creative is a wonderful gift and it always makes me think how much my own creations pale in comparison to His.

I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity of my most recent project, a collaboration with the blog Gospel Centred Parenting, as it allowed me to put the expression of faith as the most important aspect of the project, with the aim of communicating that to families and helping people grow in love for Jesus. The project was a set of Jesse Tree Ornaments, each with a design relating to a story from the Jesus Storybook Bible to help families anticipate Christmas. For this I reimagined old woodcut techniques, and it was incredible being able to follow Jesus through all these stories and make images out of them. I really enjoyed this and hope others enjoy them too, and I look forward to more opportunities to share my love for Jesus through art!

(I spoke to Cathy from Gospel Centred Parenting earlier this year – catch her cuppa with interview here!)

 

 

 

5. Do you have any inspiration or encouragement for us?

When I create things, rarely if ever am I fully pleased with the end result or the way things turn out. I find it incredibly encouraging that our own creator doesn’t feel that way about us! We were made through him and he rejoices and delights in that creation, so much so that he would die for it, for us!

6. Please share a photo of your favourite mug!

This is my tiny minions mug! Sorry, I’m not much of a tea or coffee drinker but it works just fine for hot chocolate.

rory henderson

Thanks so much for having a cuppa with us Rory!  You can browse Rory’s other work on his behance page

cuppa with martha moger

A Cuppa with Gidsy and Jo

gidsy and jo

IT’S BACK!!!  Yes, your favourite tea time interview series is returning, and this time with a creative theme.  I have been speaking to lots of creative Christians to find out what inspires and motivates them.  So snuggle up on the sofa with your favourite mug as we chat with our first cuppa with our first suspect…..

1. Introduce yourself to us in one sentence ….

I’m Martha – I design embroidery and sewing projects for mums to do with and for their kids, then write all about it on my blog ‘Gidsy and Jo’.

2. What is it that you make?handmade dolls

Although I started out making soft toys for my sons and their friends, I realised that so many mums I knew wanted to make and craft for themselves, it might be better to turn the toys into beautiful, high quality kits that mums could afford. Making bespoke soft toys can be a pretty expensive product! At the moment I sell on Etsy and Not on the High Street, but my big passion is writing about creativity and creating projects for the web. I do this on my blog and guest post on some others too. Basically, if I can enable you to make something you’ll be proud of, then that’s what I want to do!

3. Tell us the story of how it all started.

embroidery mermaidI’ve got a degree in textiles and embroidery and worked sourcing shoes for the high street after I finished uni. At that time I was travelling quite a bit and learnt a lot about how products are sourced and developed overseas, then brought back to the UK high street to sell. After I had my first son the place I was working at told me I could go back full time or not at all. Faced with that choice I chose the latter. My boys are quite close in age (18 months apart) and by the time the little one was about eight months old and I was up to my eyes in nappies and sleepless nights, I found I was desperate for a creative outlet. I couldn’t get my head round making anything – I was just too tired! Somehow I stumbled on a blog from a link out of Etsy and thought I’d like to have a go at it. My husband set up my first blog. I had no idea how to use WordPress, take good photos, or what to write about, but over the space of about three years I just kept posting, really for myself, and had also started an Etsy shop. When my youngest son went to school last September, I decided to really concentrate on growing my products and my blog and write for other people, to solve their problems, rather than for myself. Although there are quite a lot of ups and downs, I feel incredibly fortunate to have that opportunity.

4. How do you include your faith into your work and what you make?

I think we’re made to glorify God and enjoy Him and be satisfied and reliant on Him, and I don’t think that having a faith means you have to make creative work specifically about what you believe to do that. God’s nature is as the most wonderful creator there ever was, so making things is in His likeness. When we do that to serve and help other people, and do it as beautifully and excellently as we can in the world, I think that’s an expression of being like Jesus. I talk to Him every day and ask for the wisdom to take my business forward and to hold it lightly and not let it become more important than He is.

5. Do you have anything to encourage us?!

My encouragement would be that nothing, not even doing what you love (because it’s always fraught with uncertainty, doubt, highs and lows!) can give you satisfaction or security like knowing Jesus will. Also, something I’m learning is to trust Him more, so that when my plans don’t come out the way I thought, I know He’s still in charge and it’s still all good.

6. Please share a photo of your favourite mug! 

This is a mug my sister bought for me and I love it. You can’t beat a bit of pattern and colour in my book!Martha Mogers favourite mug

Thank you so much for taking the time to have a cuppa with us Martha!  If you would like to find out more about Martha’s awesome materials, and her free online course to get your making more, then you can find her:

Blog: Gidsy and Jo
Free Course: A short, free email course to help mums make more of what they love.
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gidsyandjo/
Facebook: Gidsy and Jo

a cup of tea with cathy thomson

A Cuppa With Cathy Thomson

a cup of tea with cathy thomson

I got the chance to catch up with Premier Digitals “Up and Coming” award winning blogger Cathy Thomson from Gospel Centred Parenting!  I can’t wait to share our conversation with you all, so make sure you have your cuppa and find a nice snuggly corner for 10 minutes….

It’s really nice to meet you – please introduce yourself to us all!

Hi I’m Cathy. I’m wife to lovely Scott, my childhood friend, and stay-at-home-mum to two cheeky chaps – Reuben who is two and a half years old, and Boaz who is 6 months old. They keep me on my toes and thoroughly reliant on caffeine and chocolate! I have future aspirations to embrace an extreme sports lifestyle with my boy-clan, but in reality I love nothing better than drinking a glass of red wine in front of our wood-burner! Scott and I blog together at www.gospelcentredparenting.com

Where do you live and what do you like/loathe about it?

We live in Hartlepool in the mighty North East of England! Scott and I met at a little Baptist Church here when my family moved to hartlepool years ago – Scott was 13 and I was 9. Little did we know that we would be getting married 12 years down the line! We love Hartlepool, there’s gorgeous coastline, a beautiful nature reserve and friendly people here. After living away for several years, we moved back to Hartlepool to plant Grace Church.

How many kids do you have?

I’ve already mentioned them, but I could talk about them all day – they’re ace! One of our most popular blogs gives you a little insight into the craziness of life with two tinies, and it gives you a flavour of the vivacious personality of our toddler! It’s a good read if you’d like to feel better about your own parenting! 😉 You can read it here.

What is the best thing about motherhood for you?

It’s so hard to pick one! I love cuddling my little ones when they’re sleepy. I love it when Reu has just woken from his nap and be nuzzles his nose into my neck! Or when baby Boaz falls asleep in my arms – it’s just the best feeling.

And what is the worst thing?!

Also hard to pick one…. I think the horror of seeing your child’s sinfulness for the first time. I remember when Reuben purposefully scratched his brother’s head out of jealously, it drew blood and we were all horrified! All three of us cried!

How do you try to help your children connect with God and the bible?

It’s really hard to do with tiny children I think. Reuben is starting to get to the age where you can have proper conversations that sort of make sense, but before this developmental stage it’s really hard to chat about God, because you’re just not sure what they’re computing – it feels a bit like talking to yourself! We’re trying to get more purposeful with our speech in ordinary life though, and we’re beginning to chat to the boys about Jesus in ordinary situations. We’ve written a series on our blog “Gospel in the Everyday” which seeks to help us think about how the everyday things of life can point us as parents to gospel, and then how we might communicate this with our children.

Scott reads a children’s Bible with Reu on a night and they pray together before bed (I eavesdrop next door as I feed baby Boaz to sleep). During advent we did some family devotions as a family of four (which was more about trying to form a habit of doing this, rather than because any of us particularly got much out of it!) But we think it’s really important to set the precedent now, as there’s probably no easy time to start these things.

We’re really grateful for Grace Kids at our church. We have some really gifted people who help teach the little ones the same things that we as adults are learning during the Sunday sermon – this is intentional so that we are able to chat to our children about what they’ve been learning about (which is hopefully the same thing as us!) We also have weekly “life groups” where we meet in someone’s home and have a meal together (all the children come for that part) and then we have a bible study once the children are in bed. This is a great way of helping the kids to feel like they are an integral part of the church, for them to see Christian community lived out and for other adults to disciple our children too.

What is your “mission-field” at the moment?

Being a parent to young children is such a gift evangelistically! It’s great getting to know other parents at play groups – there are few other scenarios where you are free to meet the same people multiple times in the week and chat about whatever you want (even though the conversation is often interrupted to wipe noses/ clean bums/ break up fights etc!). We’re blessed that we have several families in our church with young children which means that as a group of Christian mums we’ve been able to get to know other mums at play groups. Excitingly two of the mums that we’ve met are now regular attenders at our church and are participating in a Christianity Explored course! Praise God. It’s so much easier doing mission in community.

What causes or activities are you particularly passionate about and why?

If I’m totally honest, I would feel like a bit of a fraud to say I’m an activist for a particular cause – most days I feel like I’m doing well if I manage to keep both boys alive and brushed my teeth before leaving the house. In this season I’m investing in our church plant and our tiny kids. Scott is just about to start working a day a week for Grace Church and part of his role will be thinking through how we as a church community can bless Hartlepool. We’re not sure what this will look like yet – perhaps getting involved with the food bank, setting up a Christians Against Poverty debt centre or running a parenting course at a local primary school. When God makes it clear what cause he wants us to champion in our town then that will be our passion. Having said that I care a lot about pro-life issues and we like to promote adoption and fostering on our blog whenever possible.(

Thanks so much for having a cuppa with me!

Thanks for the opportunity Rachel. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you through your blog. Keep up the great work!

a cuppa with interview

A cuppa with Helen Sanderson-White

a cuppa with interview

Are you ready for another inspiring interview?  Then grab your cuppa and settle down as I chat to musician Helen Sanderson-White…..

It’s really nice to meet you – please introduce yourself to us all!

My name is Helen Sanderson-White and I am 40 years old. I’m a singer-songwriter and musician. A weird fact about me is that I was born with six fingers on one hand! The sixth finger was deformed and had no bone it, so it was removed from hand.

Where do you live and what do you like/loathe about it?

I live in Buckinghamshire which I love; I’ve lived in the area for ten years now. It’s a county full of history and spirituality, with lots to see and do. I used to live in London, so I love that I live only 40 minutes away from the theatres, concerts, museums and shops!

How many kids do you have?

I have two children: my daughter is about to turn nine and my son will be four in the summer. They are very creative and love dressing up and putting on shows. Music is a must in our house and they enjoy singing and playing instruments.

What is the best thing about motherhood for you?

I love playing and chatting with my children. They have such an interesting point of view on life; it’s refreshing to see things through the view point of a child as it reminds of us of how over complicated we can make things! My children also remind to enjoy the simple things in life, such as a walk or reading a book together.

And what is the worst thing?!

Early mornings! Fortunately my daughter has grown out of this now but my son still gets up between 6am and 6.30am! I’m not a morning person so I don’t know where he gets his energy from!

How do you try to help your children connect with God and the bible?

We read bedtime Bible stories and pray every night. They like the Kids Kindle Bible App which has cartoon Bible stories. You can interact with the story and make the characters move, so they often end up fighting over who’s turn it is! I encourage them to pray when they are worried about something, it’s good for them to see God moving on their behalf and begin to develop their own relationship with God.

My daughter has a Bible that has different topics with relevant verses in it. She likes to go through and ask me questions and tell me what she thinks about situations that are arising in her life. I think that’s healthy and it’s good to sit with her and chat things through. Exploration of faith is important at all ages.

What is your “mission-field” at the moment?

My mission field has always been creative people, in particular musicians. I write a blog (www.helensandersonwhite.com) each month on various aspects of being a musician, creative and a Christian. The musician and entertainment world is a vast mission field and many Christians avoid it as they think musicians and artists should just be involved in church worship. I beg to differ. The role of an artist is to portray the world as they see it; it’s a prophetic role. Society takes it’s cues from celebrities and artists and not politicians these days. We have the power to speak hope and good into dire situations. Many musicians are broken by the industry (me included!) and finding our place and healing is tough. It’s an area ripe for God’s love and hope.

What causes or activities are you particularly passionate about and why?

In light of my life experience, I’m passionate about women’s rights not just in third world countries but here in the UK as well. Women still struggle to be recognised as valuable and of equal importance. My generation have more opportunities than my grandmother’s generation had, however I would like to see my both my children go on to have equal opportunities in life.

Thanks so much for having a cuppa with me!

Thanks for inviting me! Helen