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!

summer holiday ideas

20 Ideas to Grow Your Child’s Faith During the Summer Holidays

summer holiday ideas

As the school year comes to a close today, many of us are now thinking about the vast expanse of the six weeks summer holidays.  If you are a geeky organised mum like me, then you might have put together a list of trip and activities you want to do with your kids, or maybe even a calendar planning out your every move!!  Or maybe you’re the opposite and like to just go with the flow.  Whatever your style ,why not try to use this summer holidays to be intentional with your children and grow their faith.  I’m not talking about family church services every morning, but there are lots of fun ways in which we can act out our faith and teach our kids a bit more during this period of extra time with them.

So here are just a few ideas that you might want to try:

  1. Order a Treasure Box to try out and explore a new bible story
  2. Buy a Godventure Sticker Book and work through it together
  3. Learn a new worship song each week and have a praise/dance party in your lounge
  4. Try out “chat and catch” from the Parenting for Faith Course
  5. Visit a Cathedral or Minister and chat about the different areas in it and what they are used for
  6. Find a Messy Church or Holiday Club that your kids can go along to (even if its not run by your normal church)
  7. Buy Bake Through The Bible and explore the bible through food
  8. Spend a day making or baking gifts for your neighbours and go and pass them out door to door.
  9. Have an open garden afternoon and invite children from your street
  10. Pick a charity and fundraise for them over the summer, seeing how much you can raise in total (perhaps pick out 3 or 4 mission related charities for your kids to choose from)
  11. Set up a new child sponsorship account with Compassion and write a letter to them
  12. Visit activities in your local community and make new friends (try your library, children’s centre and local parks for what is already going on and support them)
  13. Recreate your favourite bible story through dress up/puppets/lego/playdough
  14. Make your own flags to wave during worship at church
  15. Make a bible themed assault course in the garden – go through “the den of lions”, across the sea of Galilee, roll the rock away from the Jesus’ tomb, etc!
  16. Commit to pray for their new class teacher and class mates over the summer and make a “we’ve been praying for you” gift to give to the teacher on the first day back
  17. Make parent survival kits for the new reception class parents to hand out in September or welcome to school gifts for the new pupils themselves
  18. Offer to have their friends over for the afternoon to give another mum a break
  19. Make bible bunting and add a triangle everyday with a picture of a bible story you have read
  20. Try out the new Devotional Dippers from 10ofthose.com

Happy Summer Holidays!! 

P.S.  Do share how it goes, and if you have any more ideas on how to grow your child’s faith during the summer holidays then post them in the comments below…

catcus mug

What I ACTUALLY got for my Birthday!

I loved sharing with you all my birthday wishlist, and I had a lovely birthday weekend with my boys (eating pancakes in bed and going our for all you can eat lunch!).  So I thought it would be good to share some of my favourite things that I did get for my birthday (in case you want to buy them too….)

  • Lauren Daigle Album – I first heard the Lauren Daigle song “I will trust in you” during my HS2 drama time and it really spoke to me.  Lauren has an amazing voice and some really inspirational yet simple songs about biblical truths.  My sons love this album and it has started some great God conversations, so definitely one to invest in.lauren daigle album cover
  • Dymo Label Maker I love finding new ways to write in my bible, and I saw someone else using a retro label maker with her bible journaling.  I used to have an electronic one but really hated it as the labels printed were quite tacky looking, but I love the way these labels look.  My hubby also got me label tape in luminous colours so going to have some fun typing bible verses using this!!!dymo label maker
  • Cactus mug and pencil case I have always loved God at my House’s products (they were some of my first bible journaling items to review!).  And you are all aware of my mug addiction.  So what better than a new mug with biblical humour and a matching pencil case to stash some of my bible journaling goodies in.  Yey!!!catcus mug
  • Roman soldier wall art One of my lovely Lifegroup members surprised me with a very special gift.  She prints vinyl wall art for a living, and about 4 years ago we had discussed how I would love to have a roman soldier where all the armour is the armour of God spelt out in my hallway to remind me and the kids to always put on our armour of God before going out into the world.  But then the news came that our house would be knocked down and I forgot.  Well as a birthday/new home gift she gave me the vinyl wall art to put up in the new house.  I was gobsmacked that she had remembered and look forward to finding a special place for this.armour of God
  • Sam made birdbath – my little man spent his half term with Grandma and during that time painted me a very special birdbath made out of plant pots.  It takes pride of place in my new rockery.  Love me some handmade gifts.Sam's birth bath
  • Die Cutting Machine – Another crafty present that I received was a mini die-cutting machine.  This will be useful not only for personal bible journaling to provide accurate shapes, but also for some possible future business ventures.  I’m having fun playing around with some die cut shapes I bought cheaply from the range (currently made a bird and some buttons….)
birthday wishlist

31st Birthday Wishlist

birthday wishlist

When you’re a mum, your birthday is a time when you can ask for things for yourself (not the kids), perhaps enjoy a meal out, or maybe even get breakfast in bed!  Unfortunately for me, my birthday lands on a Sunday this year, which means instead of enjoying a nice relaxing day I will instead be preaching in our kids Sunday School and rushing around like a mad lady!

Instead of thinking about the craziness of my birthday morning, I thought I would put together a nice wishlist of things that I would love to get as gifts (not that I’m expecting any!) or might spend birthday money on if I get any.

  1. Letter Board.  I bought one of these for a friend’s baby shower and loved being able to create messages with it.  If I get one then I will use it as a welcome board in our new house, leaving fun messages for those who come to visit!
  2. Holy Hope Bible Journaling Kit. I don’t really have any Christian stamps to use in my bible, so this would be really fun to have a go with. I have been part of the team helping getting this to launch but not had the spare cash to order myself one, so would be lovely to get one for my birthday!
  3. Acrylic paints and a watercolour pen brush.  As I spend more time doing bible journaling, I realise how awful my art supplies actually are!! I bought myself some watercolours last year but really need some acrylic paint to be able to paint more intricate designs. I also would love to try out a watercolour brush pen and try to do some brush lettering!
  4. Christian music -Need some recommendations here really, but I need some updates to my Christian music collection as its about all I listen to in the car!
  5. Die cutting machine and binding machine I am desperate to get started on some new ideas for bible journaling and products linked to my blog, so getting both of these would be a huge help.  Plus lots of fun to play around with!
  6. Tapas.  I normally celebrate my birthday with a meal out with my lovely hubby. We both enjoy good food, and it is a treat to get an evening out together. This year I am also having a party with some of my girly friends, but really hope we get a chance to eat out too.  Tapas is one of our new favourite cuisines so it would be lovely to go to a local tapas restaurant.

 

wooden gifts

Mum on a Mission Reviews Kent-Made Signs

kent made signs

Who doesn’t love a customised gift?  Something a little more personal and unique than anything you can find in the shops.  Well I for one do, and I want to share with you a lovely website that I came across which has some really special things and what I love about them – KENT-MADE.

fun for the kids

wooden arrow signs

The first thing I ordered was two wooden signs with my boys names cut out.  I absolutely love these.  They look modern and fun, and I know that the boys will love them too.  I chose the arrow ones so that I can put them on their bunk beds when we get moved house, with the arrows pointing at who is in which bunk.  But they would work really well on a bedroom door too.  They are lightweight and thin, so you would be able to stick them up anywhere.  I would definitely choose to order these over other personalised bedroom door signs I’ve seen.

You can decorate them your own way

wooden signs

If you are a little bit creative like me, then maybe you will want an even more unique sign than just the names customised.  As these are not finished in anyway (like with varnish or paint) it leaves the options open to you to paint, decopatch or do whatever you like to them!!  My eldest son really wants a rainbow bedroom when we move, so perhaps I will paint these in rainbow colours to fit in.  The wooden signs pictured are only £8.99 including customisation and free postage.  If arrows aren’t your thing then there are also lots of other shape options available with either cut out or engraved names – just take a look!

unique gifts too

thank you wooden flower

As well as the lovely signs, KENT-MADE also have a lovely range of gifts for different occasions.  These include wooden postcards that you can personalise with messages and use for mothers day, birthdays, anniversary, best teacher or even wedding save the dates.  But the item that most stood out to me was the wooden flowers.  Wouldn’t it be lovely to open a surprise parcel with one of these in?  What I hadn’t realised when i ordered it was that it comes with its own glass vase to display it in.  Such a lovely detail!

wooden flower tag

I hadn’t decided who to send this to so my tag is blank, but you can of course personalise this with to and from.  The wooden flowers (which come with a variety of messages) are only £9.99 and will last a lot longer than actual flowers.  With mothers day coming up why not send your mum something a bit different this year.

I was sent these items to review, but I have actually fallen in love with them.  I am so looking forward to moving house now so that these can be displayed, and will definitely be heading over to KENT-MADE next time I need to send something special to a friend.  Why not go and have a look on the website and see what you fall in love with.

Disclosure:  I was sent these items for free in return for my honest review.  All opinions are my own. 

 

grand total steps

10,000 Steps a Day for Charity

As some of you may know, I have been doing a 10,000 steps a day challenge throughout January to kick start my New Year in a healthy way.  I’m not here to preach at you that this is what you should all be doing, but just to share some of the ups and downs, highlights and achievements of my 31 days of attempting to walk more!!

I took on this challenge primarily to raise some awareness and funds for Teenage Cancer Trust (please do donate to my justgiving page here), the fabulous charity that I have the privilege of working for.  But I have found it immensely enjoyable too.  I liked to think that I walked a lot, but at the end of last year when I got a new phone with a pedometer app, I realised that some days I really didn’t.  On my full days working (I work from home in a tiny office) I would only clock up 2-3,000 steps, and on other days I was hitting maybe 6-7,000.  I decided that if I was to have any chance of achieving 10,000 steps a day I really had to make some changes.

boys walking

One of my walking trips out with the boys – puddle jumping as we went!

And I did!  With a Christmas treat of a new smart watch which counts my steps all the time, I was able to have sedentary reminders.  This was really helpful when working at my desk, as if I’d been sitting for too long it would vibrate and remind me to just get up and move around for a bit.  I also tried to get in one big walk a day, whether that was to school and back or down the canal in my lunch break – to reach 10,000 steps I needed a good half hour block of solid walking at least.

swans on the canal

A lunchtime walk by the canal on a very cold day saw the swans doing some skating!

I also made some other changes – you can read my post about getting in more steps here.  There were lots of tough days when I didn’t reach my goal, but then lots of days when I did lots more than 10,000 steps.  Overall I did 297,756 steps out of 310,000.  That’s an average of 9,605 steps a day.  Which I think is pretty close!!

grand total steps

What else have I achieved?  Well I have lost over half a stone (which really shocked me!!).  I am sleeping lots better (when you take away the stress of moving house!!).  And I feel like every day I have a goal to work towards.  I might not reach it every day, but every day I am trying and that’s what counts.  Walking is something I love to do and it is exercise that I don’t have to think about or force myself in to.  I can do it with my kids, and it fits in with my daily schedule.  It is even beneficial for me when working at home to get up and walk about so that I’m not getting back ache and other problems.  Even when it means walking round and round the kitchen table whilst the kettle boils, or up and down the bedroom as I brush my teeth, this challenge has really helped me to put some new healthier habits in place for 2018.

Walking selfie with boys

Quick selfie by a sculpture whilst on a walk

If you want to do the same, then why not try it for Lent this year?  40 days of 10,000 steps.  I know I’ll still be trying!!   Or you can take on your own challenge for Teenage Cancer Trust here.

steps in wellies in the mud

Getting In More Steps

steps in wellies in the mud

This January I have taken on the “Party Hard, Train Harder” challenge from Teenage Cancer Trust, and set myself the target of doing 10,000 steps a day.  It’s talked about a lot as a good goal to have for a healthy lifestyle so I figured it would be the first step on a journey to losing a bit of weight and fitting back into my wedding dress (a goal I have before my 10th Wedding Anniversary!!).

(YOU CAN SPONSOR ME IN MY CHALLENGE HERE!!)

Before I started tracking and thinking about this I would have a few days where I would reach 10,000 steps – mostly the days I walked my son to school.   Other days I would struggle to get up past 3,000 steps – these were the days I was working from home all day and doing not much else – and my average daily step count was probably more like 5-6,000.

I am now at the end of my second week of the challenge, and although I haven’t reached 10,000 steps every day (some would call me a failure) I have massively increased my daily step count.  There hasn’t been a day where I have done less than 7,000 steps, and those days have been rare.  My first week’s total was around 71,000 so my average was over 10,000 steps a day (yey!!).

If you, like me, want to take a first step on a training journey but aren’t ready to become a serious runner or anything (you know work and kids get in the way….), then here are some of my tips for getting in more steps:

  1. Walk whilst you are brushing your teeth – seriously.   This is dead time otherwise, and if you have an electric toothbrush that times your teethbrushing then that is 2 minutes of pacing up and down that could add a few hundred steps to your total.
  2. Go to the bathroom on a different floor – OK so maybe it’s just me that lives in a three storey town house with a toilet on every floor, but rather than going to the nearest one, why not actively choose to go to the toilet that is furthest away.  Or if you work in an office building, go to the furthest bathroom on your break.
  3. Walk whilst your kids are eating or watching TV – I eat my dinner after the kids are in bed, so normally during their tea time I am sat doing nothing or playing on my phone.  Now I am actively choosing to be up walking around whilst they are eating and watching TV.
  4. Walking whilst working – I work from home, so I’m often just sat at my desk on my computer.  Now I am trying to think what tasks I could do whilst walking.  Could you do phone calls whilst walking up and down the stairs?  Or thinking tasks maybe?
  5. Try to take one big trip out every day – I always think about trying to do one bit walk out everyday.  Whether that is to take the kids to school (my son’s school is 1.1 miles away so I clock up a good 6000 steps going there and back) or a walk down the canal in my lunch break, the only way I can reach a good total is to be out for half an hour or longer every day.
  6. Park a bit further away – This one sounds really simple, but how many of naturally just park in the closest space.  Why not park a couple of roads down when doing the school run and walk an extra bit.  Or park in the far corner of the car park at the supermarket.  All those extra steps will add up and get you closer to your total!
  7. Give yourself some fun weekly challenges – if you like taking photos or just a bit of a game, then each week set yourself a challenge that will encourage you to get out walking.  Maybe its to find the muddiest path, or the highest mountain.  You could write them on slips of paper, put them in a box and let your kids pick on each week.  That way you’re all enjoying getting out walking more!

Don’t forget to pop over to my justgiving page and leave a little donation towards my fundraising goal!

advent happy mail

Advent Happy Mail

advent happy mail

Here’s an exciting advent idea for you!  Every day in advent, send a letter.  In this digital era, lets take this advent to get back to writing and encouraging others through it.  Just download your advent happy mail poster below, and everyday cross off one person from it.  You could even change some of the squares and put your own ideas if you want.

what is happy mail?

Happy mail is something that you receive in an envelope that makes someone else happy!  It is not a bill, statement or junk mail leaflet, but a thoughtful item of mail.  It is something you’ve put a bit of thought into and done to make the recipient smile.  The mail doesn’t have to be a parcel, it can just be a well meaning letter, or lots of other things too.   It could be an extra special Christmas card with an envelope you’ve decorated to make them smile!  There really are no rules or limits.

To give you some ideas and inspiration, here are some useful links:

GET YOUR FREE ADVENT HAPPY MAIL POSTER HERE!!

I will be sharing over on my facebook page and instagram account some of the happy mail items that I am sending out, so do check it out for inspiration. I would love to see what you send too, so share your photos using #adventhappymail

free advent happy mail poster

Share The Joy Linky @ The Family Patch
app for loving your community

Can an app help you love your community?

app for loving your community

can an app help you love your community?

I live in Doncaster, and despite it being crowned the “most chilled and least stressful place to live in the UK”, most people’s reaction to this announcement is “oh that’s a shame!”. You see, Doncaster isn’t the nicest place in the world (although I’m sure it’s not the worst!). It is a typical slightly rundown town surrounded by ex-mining communities.

the problem i face in my community…

Sometimes I walk around my town and feel sad. There is litter, broken things that no-one has fixed, buildings that no-one cares about and general signs of poverty all around. It makes my heart sink and my soul feel heavy. I cry out to the God who created and loves this world – why has it become so unloved by those that live in it?

Practically I try to look after my little corner of the world – my house, my garden, my estate. But try as I might, I can never clean up everything. Even when I go out with the community action team at church and litter pick the streets for a couple of hours it isn’t going to change everything. And yet the impact of just simple litter can be HUGE. Health, crime, anti-social behaviour, loss of business are all things that stem from and can be worsened by the presence of litter in a neighbourhood. Once that pride in a community is lost, it is difficult for it to be rebuilt.

a new strategy…

So I decided a new strategy was called for. I could not be a one woman army who tackles the whole of Doncaster’s litter and other problems (there would be little time for looking after my kids if I did that!!).  But I could flag up every problem I saw that made me sad to live here so that someone else could deal with it.

Who might that someone else be? Well they came in the form of an app on my phone, that goes by the name of My Doncaster Council. (Yes the council).

Our local councils are there to help do tasks that no-one would normally do if it was left to us. They provide public goods and services. We pay them through our lovely council taxes to look after our local environments so that we don’t have to. But lately councils have had to cut back on a lot of things, and so they won’t be out patrolling and checking the local area as much. We can be their eyes and ears on the ground. The app I have means that I can report litter, fly tipping, graffiti and a whole host of other things right there and then. I can post photos and videos so that the council can see exactly what the issue is. I am doing their investigating for them.

will my community feel the love?

Why is this loving I hear you ask? Because I want my community to feel good when they step out the door. I want them to have pride in where they live, to be healthy and happy.  We joke that it’s a British pastime to moan.  Well I want to try to report everything that would be the cause of that  moaning (although I can’t change the weather so we’ll always have that to moan about!). I don’t want to just keep walking past the litter and the broken things and expect someone else to do something about it.  I am loving my neighbours by using this app to get them fixed and cleaned up.

Why don’t you see if your local council has an app too…..

quirky christmas gift ideas

Quirky Christmas Gift Ideas for 2017

quirky christmas gift ideas

Whoop Whoop!  It’s Christmas shopping time, and I wanted to share with you all some great shopping ideas you might not have thought of (that are secretly on my own Chritsmas list)…

For the men in your life
James Acaster Classic Scrapes

A few weeks back, me and my husband went to see James Acaster live on his Classic Scrapes book tour and it was a hilarious evening.  If you or the man in your life enjoys funny stories then this is a great present for them.

Find it here at amazon

 

for your mum and best friend

gingerbread tea towelEven if you have a dishwasher you still need to dry some things, and everyone will love this quirky and amusing Christmassy themed tea-towel.  Designed by Frog and Gnome, this would make a great present for your mum or a best friend who has a good sense of humour!

Find it here on the Cheerfully Given website.

 

 

for your bible journalLing bestie

book tab punchSo this really is on my gift list and will make it easy to create my own bible tabs from whatever paper and design I want to.  So if you are in to bible journalling and have a bestie who loves it too, then why not get them one of these (and maybe you can borrow it!!!)

You can find this one here on amazon.

 

To keep in the cupboard “just in case”

creative bea christmas decorationI love this little Christmas decorations which feature bible verses.  I have ordered three as little additions to some of my Christmas presents, but they would be perfect to keep in the cupboard in case someone gives you a gift that you might have forgotten to get one for….

You can find these on Creative Bea’s website, and they come in silver sparkly or plywood and are only £3-4 each