Strengthen my feeble hands

“I am going to die in this house!”

Those were my first words when we moved into our current home.  Such was the stress of moving house and the relief of finally being in, that all I could think in that moment was that I never ever wanted to do it again.

And yet here I am, only 4 years later, facing the stress of moving house once more.  Much like being pregnant, moving house turns me into an emotional, irrational, anxious ball of agitation.  I am not fun to be around, and any comments can trigger crying, anger, or a whole array of emotion.

But add to that the accumulation of 18 months of build up and worry, having to deal with a uncompromising government with very little compassion for the situation they have put us in, and I am like a monster.

I honestly don’t know how I am going to deal with the next few months.  Just one week of house hunting has left me shaky, nervous and resulted in numerous heated conversations with people.  I hate myself when I become like this, as I truly try to deal with things differently.

My verse for this year is two-fold, and at the moment the second half of it is speaking the words I need to hear:

“Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, “Be Strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you” Isaiah 35:3-4

How do I be strong in the situation when I am empty and hollowed out from the last 18 months?  How do I not be fearful when I bear the scars of the stress of our last two house moves?  How do I find the energy to do it all again even when I don’t want to?  Because I know my God is going to come through.  I know He is going to find us the right house and get us to it.  But like with most things, He never promises that it will be an easy journey.  He says that I need to strengthen and steady myself, but that I can trust in Him.  My prayer today, as I feel weak and feeble, is that I can look above the stress of moving house to the God who is over all and will come through for me.

Will you pray for me as I start on this journey?  I will probably be sharing some of the ups and downs of this house move with you all, and I would love to hear from anyone going through the same.  x

2018 plans and prayers

2018 – Plans and Prayers

2018 plans and prayers

So you may have already read my highlights and praise points from 2017 (if not do head over and check them out!).  It is at this time of year that I also look over my plans for the year ahead and start thinking about what I am going to prayer for the year.  Here is what 2018 has in store for me:

  1. Captivated Conference – I am already booked on and paid up for the Captivated Mum’s conference this year!  After enjoying it so much last year I am hoping to take some more mums along with me for a day of rest, praise and teaching.  It is always good to plan in some investment days for yourself, so this is mine for 2018.  Let me know if you are coming too as I would love to meet some readers!!
  2. Lake District Trip – Family holidays are always something to look forward to, and this year we are venturing away from the Yorkshire Coast to camp over by Ullswater and explore the Lake District.  If anyone has any day trips or recommendations for over then please do let me know!!
  3. ROME (and 10th Wedding Anniversary) – We WILL be making this trip happen this year.  We are hoping to coincide it with celebrations for our 10th Wedding Anniversary, but the money is saved ready and new suitcases have arrived.  Planning to book the flights and hotel early in the New Year.
  4. Moving house – Last year we didn’t know where our heads were at in regards to whether we wanted to move quickly due to HS2.  We prayed that by the end of 2017 we would have a clearer idea, and we do.  We are hoping to move around the summer time this year, although the exact location and time is TBC.  Please pray for wisdom as we decide where to move and what type of house to look for, in knowing when to accept the valuation from HS2 on our house and that God would provide the perfect place for His plans for the next stage of our family life.
  5. Blog Developments  – When looking over my blog posts from the last year, I noticed a very clear new part of it emerging.  Bible Journaling has now become a huge part of my life and I love it, so I am going to be trying to add some more resources and ideas on this theme in 2018.  I will also be looking at trying to get some products together to help you in your walk with God and mission.  So keep your eyes peeled for more info!!
  6. In HER Shoes – I am really looking forward to spending the whole of 2018 walking in the shoes of women from the bible.  We started this new series back in September and it has really deepened my knowledge of these characters and brought new revelation on how God worked in their lives.  I hope that you will join me and Naomi as we finish looking at Mary, the mother of Jesus this January (you can sign up to join us via the form below).
Verse for 2018

Last year’s verses were all about keeping going with God and not worrying (Matthew 6 – check out last year’s post) and even though I have worried and gotten anxious this year, I have been constantly reminded to keep coming back God as my provider and comforter.  This year I was praying for a new verse and God revealed this one to me (through a Christmas gift):

The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.  Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.”  Isaiah 35:1-2

Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save youIsaiah 35:3-4

I am looking forward to seeing all the Lord is doing in my family’s life come into bloom – everything that we have planned, prepared for and endured through will hopefully spring into life this year.  But I am also aware that we will need to be strengthened to see these changes happen.  We cannot be fearful, but instead need to trust in God to do the work.

what Are your plans for 2018?

Whether 2017 has been good or bad, 2018 is a fresh start.  What do you have planned and what are you praying for the year ahead?  I would love to hear from you in the comments below.  If you would like a New Year’s habit to bring you closer to God in the chaos of motherhood, then why not sign up and start doing Mummy Meditations with us over 2018?  It is fun, free and easy to fit into your family life with just one verse a week to focus on.  Sign up below….

[contact-form to=”rachel.ridler@gmail.com” subject=”MM sign up”][contact-field label=”Name” type=”name” required=”1″][contact-field label=”Email” type=”email” required=”1″][/contact-form]

 

2017 highlights

Highlights and Praise Points from 2017

2017 highlights

I’m putting this out there – 2017 has been a pretty rubbish year.  For me personally it has been hard work.  The whole HS2 fiasco has been sitting over our heads for the whole year, and just when we think we are taking one step forward another road block comes up.  It has been tiring and stressful and I don’t think I’ve ever felt so helpless.  I have felt directionless and the frustration of being in a period of waiting.

But in the midst of that, I have had some amazing moments and breakthroughs, and I have a God who has stuck with me.  So I wanted to share with you all my highlights and praise points from 2017:

  • Royal Albert Hall Trip – I mentioned this in my post looking ahead into 2017, and the tickets had been booked!  It was a really memorable trip to go and see one of my hubby’s favourite comedians.  However,  did almost fall asleep at the gig and we had to go home early, missing a surprise guest at the end – only MICHAEL MCINTYRE!!!  Oh well, it was still amazing to go to the landmark gigs that my charity puts on after 6 years working for them.
  • Captivated Conference – As a last minute decision I ended up going to the Captivated Mum’s Conference this year.  It was such a soul filling day and God stoked some desires in my heart whilst there.  I also got the chance to meet the lovely Naomi from the Organised Life Project in person after running Mummy Meditations with her for months!  Such a special day and I am taking some more mums from my church with me to the 2018 conference.
  • Hubby Graduating – It was such an amazing moment to see my hubby graduate with his masters in Theology this year.  He has worked so hard whilst also being an amazing Dad.  My hope and prayer is that he can start his phd this year and the long road to becoming a Doctor (of Theology, not medicine….)!
  • Sam Starting School – Sam not only got into the school that we wanted but he is totally and completely thriving!  He loves learning, has made loads of friends and I’ve even made a few mum friends at the school gate too.  I am so thankful to God for providing a loving place for Sam to spend so much of his time, and I love that prayer is a normal part of the school day there too.
  • Turning 30 – I didn’t quite complete my “30 before 30” list but I had some great times along the way, and I actually feel very happy to be 30.  For my birthday treat we went and did the Room on the Broom Trail as a family, and it was very definitely my happy place.
  • Starting a Bible Journaling Group at Church –  In response to what I took away from the Captivated Conference I approached one of our church leaders, who has let me promote and set up a bible journaling group at church.  I love how relaxed it is, and that we just come together and chill whilst doing a bit of journaling and sharing our bibles around.  It is definitely ones of those things that fills my soul!
Things I didn’t get to do

Looking back at my plans and prayers for 2017 there is one very big thing that we haven’t managed to do this year, and that is take our planned trip to Rome.  Last Christmas I did the very silly thing of driving our car into my in-laws metal gate which cost me a lovely £500 bill to repair.  So unfortunately Rome was out of budget after that.  We have been saving like mad though to try to go in 2018 as a 10th Wedding Anniversary Trip so watch this space!

Do tune in early next week for my plans for 2018 post (including my new verse for the year….).  What have been your highlights and praise points this year?

mum on a mission versus the train

UPDATE Nov 2017: Mum on a Mission VS The Train

mum on a mission versus the train

It has been a fair old time since I’ve written an update about how I am doing with the whole HS2 situation.   I thought perhaps I had better write something and share where we are at and how I am doing with it all.

The answer is quite simply, we’re still here!

Everyone told us it would be a long process selling our house to the government, and they were not wrong.  But unfortunately in our case, with all the complexities of us being on a new housing estate and so many of us doing this all at once, things are moving even slower.  We are waiting for HS2’s surveyors to give us a valuation on our house that will actually enable us to afford to move, and until we get that we aren’t going anywhere.

So even though we haven’t moved forward with that, it is still an emotional drain on us all.  Me especially.  I have found it very emotional with Sam starting school and settling in so well.  I am making friends with the mums there and wanting to get involved, but then part of me is always reminded that he might not be there next year.  It is so hard to build relationships not knowing if they’ll be destroyed if/when we move.

Physically it is having a toll on my health still.  Although I have tried to give it all over to God and not to worry, sometimes my anxiety kicks in and I end up suffering with headaches, tiredness, jaw ache and faintness.  Constantly carrying a question mark about your future around with you all the time is hard work!

Every time a new letter drops or progress is made  it all comes flooding back, and my poor husband gets the full force of emotional Rachel.  The verse that God has been giving me lately is this one:

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” Exodus 14:14

Spoken to the Israelite’s as they faced their first battle after leaving slavery in Egypt, Moses reminded everyone that it is the Lord’s battle and not theirs.  God reminded me of this too – that ultimately He can see the offer that we finally get given, He can see the house that we will move in to and His hand is over all that to bring about His purposes for our future.  The battle is already won.  I need only to be still.

school sign

A letter to my son on starting school

school sign

Dear Sam,

I am so proud of you today as you walk into your new school with excitement in your eyes and confidence in your step.  Your teacher told me you were “energetic” and I know what she means!  You have always been full of beans, your own spirit, and I really pray that school doesn’t take that away from you.

There will be tough days ahead, when you miss being with me or playing with your little brother all day. When the other kids might not want to be your friend or you find the lessons too difficult.  But just know that I love you no matter what, and that Father God is there with you every step of the way.

I will never forget your first day at nursery when you were only two months old, and I will never forget this day either.   Each day one where you sprouted your wings a little more and I stood back and watched in amazement as you took it all in your stride.  I am not sad to have to leave you at school as I know it is where you will flourish for the next portion of your life, but I am nervous as to how the world will treat you.  I hope I have been a good enough mother to prepare you for that – that is our role after all, to train you up to cope with the next challenge of life until eventually you can cope with it all on your own.

So I love you and pray for this precious time when you are at school.  I pray that God fills it with joy and wisdom, friends and laughter, fun and learning.  Go and take on the world my son!

Love Mum x

 

 

Share The Joy Linky @ LizzieSomerset.com
pray more worry less

Pray More, Worry Less

Pray more, worry less” has kind of become my mantra recently.  Since the stress of HS2 news dropping on me last July, I have been slowly sinking in a sea of anxiety and stress.  I had been feeling overwhelmed to the point that is was physically affecting me.  I had constant headaches, normally dull enough to cope with, but more often than nope escalating as I felt the stresses of each day rising.  Normal painkillers had stopped working, and the doctors couldn’t find anything else wrong with me, so I deduced it must be stress.

I knew why.  I hadn’t been actually giving these worries to God.

pray more worry less

I knew the verses, and could tell you them before well meaning people quoted them at me if I mentioned my stress.  But it wasn’t until I actually accepted that I had a problem that I was able to start dealing with it.  When I went to Captivated Conference I decided enough was enough – I had to get over  this.  I bought a book dealing with anxiety and contentment and started reading.  I am still only a third of the way through, but one story in the first chapter hit me.

It was a story of a night when the author couldn’t sleep.  Something was worrying her.  She knew the verses too – pray about everything and give it over to God.  She prayed.  Got back into bed.  But it still kept bothering her.  I really identified with that.  I knew that there were times when I prayed out of habit but still kept hold of that worry, and so the thing she said next really hit me hard.

She said that she got up and prayed again.  And she repeated the process until she had actually given that worry to God.  That was when it hit me – I needed to keep persevering in prayer, to be praying until the anxiety went.  I had prayed but only briefly.

So now I am trying to pray until the feeling of uncertainty and anxiety leaves me.  I am trying to pray away the worry.  I am praying until I feel God lift the weight off me and take it into his burden.  And I do feel better.

I have had significantly less headaches since then (ask my husband if you don’t believe me!), although driving to unknown places often sets them off no matter how hard I pray!  I have had no more panic attacks or days of overwhelming anxiety.  I am now looking for physical reminders to do this and make it easier for me to remember to “pray more, worry less“.  I am thinking a notebook I can carry around with me might help, where I can write any and all prayers for any and all worries during the day.  We shall see!  Does anyone have any other ideas on how to deal with this?  Do share below….

(P.S  the artwork on this post is taken from an amazing notebook that I got sent by God at My House.  You can read my review of it here)

blank label

What “kind” of Christian are you, and does it matter?!

blank label

Has anyone ever asked you what kind of Christian you are?  If yes, then am I the only one who finds that questions a bit odd?  I am not a lover of labels and if anyone ever asks me, my answer is “I guess I am sort of a happy clappy kind of Christian, but I’m not sure!”.  You see, I have been a part of many different kinds of churches, and I have liked and disliked different parts of how they do things.  For me it is not important what kind of Christian you are, but that you have accepted Jesus into your life as your Saviour.

I know there are some big differences between the major denominations, and to be honest I haven’t quite decided where I would choose to be if it wasn’t a “family decision” and I was a single person in the world on my own!  But I know that I have learnt something different from each I have been at, and I am truly grateful for the rich tapestry that makes up the UK church.  Here are my highlights:

  • Church of England – I had the great privilege of being brought up in a Christian home, and my parents always took me along to the local CofE church.  It was a joy to be a part of a lively Sunday School, taking part in the annual nativity play and then migrating up to ACE (After Church Experience) our youth club.  I had the honour of growing up alongside some great friends, journeying through our faith together and questioning things as we went.  As I grew older I had the chance to get involved in the life of the main church as a server/altar boy, and it was through that I truly started to appreciate the value of the rituals and liturgy.  The words started to really mean something to me, it wasn’t just repetition for the sake of it.  I did wish that we could have had a bit less organ music and bit more band, but they did try with a Songs of Praise style monthly service and a youth music group.
  • Evangelical Church – When I moved to uni and had the chance to choose my own church to attend, it was a scary prospect!  I did plenty of research before going and had decided that the CofE church in Lancaster which had a student service in the evening was probably the best option.  It had a band too!  But a friend from a summer camp also said he knew someone who had recently gone to lead a church there and I should pop in and say hi.  So my first Sunday I did.  And I loved it!  I ended up spending the best three years at Moorlands Evangelical Church and growing in my own faith and understanding phenomenally.  The church was an independent evangelical (which just means bible believing) church, affiliated with the North West Partnership (a group of similar churches in the North West of England).  They had a big heart for student ministry and in using the three years of uni life to train students up in the bible.  It was here that I got a real thirst for bible study and truly started to understand how powerful it was.  I also got a glimpse of how amazing hospitality can be, through the many student lunches I got to attend in peoples homes!
  • Elim Pentecostal Church – At uni I met the man of my dreams, and we got married soon after graduating.  At the time my husband felt called back to his home church so as a dutiful wife I followed him!  It was definitely a culture shock for me, as I learnt about the Holy Spirit more and the gifts that he gives. To be honest, this is still a journey for me!  However, what I loved most about Beacon Community Church was their heart. Their heart to serve and to love the community around them and not to let anything be a barrier to their faith.  And I got to be a part of that.  I got to volunteer in the charity shop, at the toddler group and the youth work.  I got to be in the band and help lead the women’s ministry.  I got to be involved and feel wanted and see the power of prayer as buildings were claimed and lives restored.  It was this church that really fired me up to the power of God.
  • Small church plant – After a period we felt God telling Rob to go to bible college and train properly, so we moved back up north (yey!).  At that time we got involved in a one year church plant in the town we were living, called Hope Church.  It was only about 30-50 people strong, but the love was immense.  We formed some amazing relationships in this church and saw the struggles of church planting first hand.  I loved the welcome we got each week and that I could actually speak to EVERYONE in church on a Sunday morning.  They also knew the power of cake, oh amazing cake, and its ability to bring people together.  When we got to visit their new building a few years ago there was a sense of feeling at home in it, and making people comfortable.  This church really knew how to look after its members, and we were so blessed during the weeks after Sam was born with food and presents and comfort.  I learnt a lot from this.
  • Large Pentecostal Church –  Going from our small church plant to a church of over 300 was an even bigger culture shock!  This really hit me hard when we started, as I found it difficult to move from speaking to everyone on a Sunday to almost noone speaking to me.  But once we got stuck into a lifegroup all that changed and some of the deepest relationships of our lives have been formed.  Yes our church now is a pentecostal one, and I am learning more about the Holy Spirit again, but it is also a loud one!  Our church meets in a warehouse with a band and flashing lights.  Some people would say its more like a gig than church.  But with the lights out and the music loud, I have finally learnt how to truly let go and worship my amazing God, without the thoughts and pressures of what the people next to me are thinking.  And that is an amazing gift.

So there you have it!  I have also had the pleasure of visiting Baptist, Methodist and African Style churches through my travels, and every one has taught me something new about myself and my God.  So I ask you – what kind of Christian are you? I am a whole mixture of kinds, as every church I have been too has left its mark on me.  And does it really matter?  I certainly don’t think so.  I am just thankful that I know my Father in heaven and that I get to spend every day of my life with him.

captivated conference surrender

Captivated Conference – what I learnt and why you should totally go next year!

captivated conference surrender

You know God is going to move when you plan on not going somewhere and last minute end up going!  Well that was the Captivated conference for me. I had rationalised why I shouldn’t go (I was too busy, it would be too difficult to get there and cost too much) but then a good friend gave me one final prod and I caved.

what is captivated conference???

As a mum, we often think we the kids are solely our responsibility, that life will stop if we’re not there, that our husbands can’t cope without us for even a day.  Well you know what – THEY AREN’T, IT WON’T and THEY CAN!  Don’t we owe it to ourselves to recharge spiritually every once in a while?  To be able to actually spend time worshiping and being taught, instead of always having one eye on the kids.  I think we do.  I think that every mum should be able to have one day off (at least!) to spend a day with God and others in the same position as them.  We will be better mothers and wives for doing so.

That is what Captivated is.  It is a day conference especially for christian mums (their slogan is “Mums journeying with Jesus”), where we get teaching into our specific needs.  This year the fabulous Anne Calver was the speaker, and she was powerful!  The biggest thing I learnt from her was to stop putting things in the way of acting on what God has called us to do.  We can far too often say “I am only a mum, I am tired, I am not as good as them” but we forget that God called US to do it.  He didn’t call someone else, and he doesn’t ask us to do something that we are not gifted or equipped to do (or that he won’t equip us to do on the way!).

what did God challenge me on?

For me, the challenge was about a particular ministry I feel called to – using creative arts to reach i am not an artist, i just have a creative heartpeople, especially teenage girls.   I have always used the excuses of not enough time, too tired, being a mum gets in the way (I closed down my wedding stationery and craft business when I had Sam) and lately just that I’m not as talented as others in creative arts.  But God really challenged me on that this weekend.  Because my calling isn’t to be a Christian Artist with a beautiful etsy shop (there are others who are doing that amazingly well!) but it is to be a facilitator to help others discover their creativity and to connect with their creator through that.

The lady who I ended up sat next to on Saturday had also come on her own.  And as we were chatting in one of the breakout sessions, she said that she was getting excited when I was talking because she could feel the passion there for what I wanted to do.  I am now praying that my fears (of rejection, not enough money to do it and energy) are knocked over one by one and that I am able to move forward in my desire to run creative art workshops.

are you Interested?!

So if you came to Captivated, what did God do in you on Saturday?  I’d love to share in some of your hopes and dream and stand with you in those.  And for anyone who didn’t make it, would you like to join me next year?!  It is only one day, and for a conference it is very affordable (this year’s early bird tickets were around £17 – and that included doughnuts!!).  One day to invest in yourself as a mother and a child of God, whats not to love?

If you want to find out more about captivated, you can join their facebook group here or find more info on the website.

tiny prayer in planner

A tiny little prayer….

Last week I prayed a tiny little prayer.

It was half finished.

It was rushed.

But my heart was in it.  My desire was felt through it.

And God answered.

tiny prayer in planner

This tiny little prayer, when I looked back in my planner, reminded me of how much of prayer is about aligning our hearts with God.  Powerful prayers come from places where we are desperate to see God’s Kingdom worked out here on earth.   Powerful prayers are the ones where God knows we truly mean it.

And I did.  I meant it.  Every last word. I wanted to have the chance to talk to people about God.  I wanted it not to be awkward to talk to people about my love for him.  I wanted it to come up naturally so that people can see that I’m not trying to ram things down their throats, but that it is just a part of me that I can’t contain!  And God came through (with a little help from my little man dressed as a wise man for world book day…).

Why am I sharing this story?  Because I want you to be encouraged to pray the tiny small prayers that are really whats on your heart.  If I’m honest, sometimes I don’t care about the big picture – sometimes I just want to have that one meaningful conversation with someone.  Sometimes I’m too tired to take in all the problems of the world, so my heart focuses on one.  And God hears my heart for that thing.  I love that about God.

rach cycling around the world

Rach round the world….

rach cycling around the world

Round the world – 40,000km
Radius of the world – 6,000km

One of my goals for 2017 is to fit into my wedding dress again by our 10th wedding anniversary (which is in September 2018).  But my main problem is that I love cake. And pudding.  And all things sweet/take away.  I also struggle to get out of the house to exercise given the kids, so last year I bought myself an exercise bike.

To make sure I use said exercise bike and actually achieve my goal of fitting into my wedding dress, I have given myself a challenge.  I am going to ride round the world.   Or possible the radius of the world.  Whichever is actually achievable for me!

To keep me accountable, I will be writing up every so often how far I have gotten.  Since the start of January I have cycled 71.71km (which is more than I probably cycled last year!).  It may not seem like much to hard core exercise people.  But to me, 10 minutes of cycling a day is more than I was doing, so I will just do what I am able to do.

how you can help me

Please be the finger that prods me and reminds me of this goal.   I know I will definitely need that every now and again.  When I get further into my challenge and better on my bike I may do some longer cycling sessions and look for sponsorship towards a chosen charity, but for now I just want to get fitter and stronger.  I hope that maybe you can follow me in this – in my head even 10 minutes a day is more than I was doing before.  It may not be the hour long work out people do at the gym, but it is good enough for now.  It is good enough for whilst I am exhausted rearing children.