are we nearly there yet book cover

Are We There Yet? An Easter Book Review

Disclaimer – I received a free copy of this book from 10ofthose.com to review, but all opinions are my own. 

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I love love love that there are so many great resources out there to equip up to use every opportunity to connect those around us with the gospel.  With Easter coming, I am sure you are all thinking about how to use this time of the year to share the message of the cross.  In kids work, toddlers groups, your local school, there are loads of kids that we can connect with, and I want to tell you about a new book which I think will help you in this.

are we nearly there yet cover“Are we nearly there yet?” is a short booklet style book, but with a strong card cover so its doesn’t just feel like a throw away pamphlet as some books like this can.  The front cover design is modern and eye catching, and because the title isn’t really “in your face” Christian, I think it would work really well as a giveaway in non-Christian environments, such as schools.

The story itself follows a narrative of a family in a car, and the familiar question of “Are we nearly there yet?”.  Whilst they are waiting to get to Granny’s for Easter, their parents tell them the Easter story, and all the way through they see the disciples asking similar the question of “Are we nearly there yet? When will you be king?”.  The pages go through the familiar Easter sequences – palm Sunday, Garden of Gethsemane, the crucifixion and the stone rolled away at the tomb, but not just in a plain story telling way which the kids will be all too familiar with.

The illustrations and use of speech bubbles throughout the book is very good and engaging for kids.  I would probably say that this book would be useable for 2 years up to mid primary age (maybe 8) as it could be read to children, or they can read by themselves.

At the end of the book, there are included some ideas for taking it further, discussion with the children and playing through the story too.  These would be useful for parents, toddler group leaders or teachers if they wanted to include it in their pre-Easter activities.

All in all, this a very well thought out book, and one that will work well as a giveaway instead of chocolate this Easter (who needs more chocolate!!).  10ofthose.com sells the books individually for £3.50 if you want to grab one for your family, or if you are planning to give them away then you can take advantage of their offer of a box of 50 for £50 (RRP £175!!!!).

Why not invest £50 into your world this Easter and use some of these ideas:

  • Buy a box to give to your kids class teacher to give out to the whole class
  • Buy a box and go round your neighbourhood and give to kids at their doorsteps
  • Bless your church’s kids ministry by buying a box so they can give them out free to anyone who comes into church over the Easter period.
  • Take a box down to your local library and ask if they will give them away to any children who come in over lent/Easter

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In HER Shoes – Esther (week 8)

 

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We are now HALF WAY through our Esther Series!!  It has been great to really get underneath this story and look at the details, and this week has been no different.  The verse we meditated on was:

All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.” Esther 4:11

This was Esther’s rely to her cousin Mordecai after he asked her to approach the king and beg for the Jews to be saved.  Behind this verse we can be sure that there was a heap of emotions and thoughts and conversations taking place that we don’t hear, so this week we have been trying to think through what those might have been like.

Real fear

On initial reading, Esther’s response is pretty understandable – we would probably all do the same.  When faced with almost certain death, the answer is no!  No I won’t do that favour!  At this point in the story, Esther’s nationality was still hidden amongst those in the palace, and so she probably thought she was safe.  Self-preservation would be kicking in here, and Esther can see that if she does nothing and keeps her mouth shut then she will be safe.  But her cousin and all those other Jews won’t be.  Esther is experiencing real fear.

Compounded fear

week 8 lock screenThis is a huge decision for Esther, and in the Mummy Meditations Community we talked about similar decisions that we had had to make (none of them life or death!) and how our brains became a jumble of thoughts, perhaps we couldn’t sleep properly because of them,  we get nervous, it feels stressful.  We have to consciously step away from those fears and thoughts and try to stop them taking over.  It sounds like perhaps Esther is wrestling with this decision in the same way, trying to play out every outcome in her head and figure out what the best one is.  But going over and over it in your mind only serves to compound and exaggerate the fear, making this all the more worse for poor Esther.

Peer fear

A lot of us mentioned have trusted counsellors or friends who we could turn to when making big decisions, but Esther probably wouldn’t have had any.  Yes she had eunuchs and servant girls, but despite their willingness to share an opinion, they wouldn’t have had all the facts and hence their counsel wouldn’t have been all that helpful.  None of them would have known Esther’s fate due to her Jewish heritage.  We also see that she mentions that ALL THE KINGS OFFICIALS know she would be killed, and EVEN THE PEOPLE IN THE ROYAL PROVINCES.  That peer pressure of knowing that everyone would think she is stupid and ridiculous and clearly insane for approaching the king uninvited would have been huge on Esther’s shoulders.

Separation fear

Thirty days.  Thats a month since she had seen her husband.  And yes it probably wasn’t exactly the same as our relationships now (we would clearly all fall apart if we couldn’t see our husbands for that amount of time – some of us can’t last a few hours without texting our spouse!) but there would be a certain sense of fear that came with the unknowing.  If she had seen him the day before she might have known what kind of mood he was in, what political challenges he was facing, how likely it was for her visit to be approved with the gold sceptre.  But with not having seen him there is a bigger element of unknown.  There are thoughts that start to creep in that perhaps  he doesn’t like her as a wife anymore, maybe he’s looking for another new one to replace me, maybe I am out of favour with him.

Fear upon fear upon fear upon fear

That is a lot of negative emotion and fear building up in Esther.  And lets not forget that this could be a teenage girl facing this decision.  How on earth could she break through that piling mound of fear??!  I think I would be crippled by it all.   We will have to read on in the story to find out.

Next week

Well it is poster verse week, yes the one I’m sure you’ve heard quoted before:

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

Do join us as we see if there is more to this verse than meets than what is on the surface.  You can join the discussion with questions and prompts during the week, as well as a Facebook Live Discussion at 8pm on Monday night over in our Facebook Community.

If you’ve joined us halfway through, then great!  There’s still loads to get out of this story, and you can find some helpful resources over in our shop.

 

 

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Mum on a Mission Podcast – Episode 4 Litter Picking

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Mission with kids is difficult.  We can make lots of excuses.  Listen on to hear one way I have found to love my community with my kids tagging along (no matter what age).

 

If this episode has interested you, the check out this link for information about The Great British Spring Clean 2019, and how you and your family can take part.

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In HER Shoes – Esther (week 7)

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Hello Mummy Meditators!!  Welcome to week 7 of our Esther series, and to a summary of what God has been revealing to me and others this week.  Our verse this week was:

“He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told him to instruct her to go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people.” Esther 4:8

Mordecai’s desperation

I think the first thing that struck me in this verse was the desperation in Mordecai’s message.  Here is a man who is weeping and wailing outside the palace, making a scene and refusing to stop.  Here is a man who desperately wants to see his last remaining relative but can’t.  Here is a man who is going to be murdered in a few days time, along with many other people from his nationality.  Here is a man thinking of any crazy idea to try to get out of this predicament.

And that is when it comes to him.  I don’t think that in any way this was planned or that he sent Esther into the palace “just in case something bad happened”.  No, I think he is just standing outside the palace grieving and wailing, and then it comes to him.  ESTHER COULD DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS!!!!

You know that tone people get in their voice when they are grasping at straws, at any possible way out of a bad situation.   Begging, grovelling, wild eyes and crazy voice.  I imagine Mordecai speaking so quickly and excitedly that the messenger had to ask him twice what he was saying.  And I imagine him hopping up and down with nervous excitement that it might work.  Yes, he might have just sorted out this pickle that they are all in.   And so he sends his message to Esther…

Esther’s realisation

Up until now, Esther was probably unaware of what it was that had made her cousin go slightly crazy and refuse to come see her, despite her best efforts to send him clothes.  And so I can imagine her nervously pacing up and down in her quarters of the palace.  Perhaps her servants are telling her to relax, trying to comfort her, but she is having none of it until the messenger she has sent comes back.  He walks in and she rushes over to him, desperate to hear what Mordecai has to say.  But its not good news.

In our discussions this week, some of our community members highlighted how alone Esther would have felt receiving this news.  Yes, she was probably surrounded by people (servants and eunuchs), but she was the only one there whom this message had deadly consequences for.  As this news was read, I can see her staff being confused as to why this was affecting Esther so much – she hadn’t told anyone she was a Jew.  Perhaps at the reading of the edict she just crumpled in grief and pain at the knowledge of what was going to happen to her people.  To her beloved cousin.  To herself.

And yet there was one pain more than that.  A personal pain that Mordecai had requested of her.  To go into the King’s presence.

Asked to do the unthinkable

Have you ever been asked to do something you really don’t want to, but its by someone you really respect, trust, honour or love?  Have you experienced that sinking feeling that you don’t want to do it because you know its going to be awkward or uncomfortable or dangerous, but you know that that person wouldn’t be asking unless it was entirely necessary?  That would be the heavy sinking feeling Esther would be having right now.  That would be the lump forming in her throat.  That would be the tears coming to her eyes.  Her head would be in overdrive thinking through the consequences, the other option, any other way to sort this out that didn’t involve her having to approach the king.  Why?  Well that is for next week to discover….

next week

Esther sends a message back to Mordecai next week, and we will be meditating on this verse:

“All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.” Esther 8:11

I hope you will join me in thinking and discussing this verse during the week over in our Facebook group.

There is also the chance to join in a Happy Mail exchange for Purim (the celebration of the story of Esther) later in March, so don’t forget to sign up here!

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New PJ’s from the Pyjama Factory

DISCLAIMER: I was sent free items by the company mentioned in exchange for providing a review of them here.  All opinions are my own. 

With the arrival of the warm spring weather, it has got me thinking about spring cleaning, updating our wardrobes and when I can turn the heating off!!  So when Pyjama Factory asked if I would like to review some new pyjamas for my family I was over the moon!  I immediately thought of getting myself some nice shorter PJ’s than the ones I have been living in over the past 4 months, and so I treated myself to these lovely panda themed ones:

They fit me really nicely (I ordered size 12-14 and thought they might be a bit tight, as I am more on the size 14 side of that!) and I love the cute panda design on them.  The shorts aren’t too skimpy either.  The material feels soft and better quality than you might get at some cheaper high street shops.  This set was only £12.99, so worth investing in for the warmer summer nights that are coming (yey!!!).  See gallery at the bottom of this post for more pictures of them.

You can buy these ones here from size 8 up to 22.

 

I also got some new PJ’s for the boys, as they are constantly growing!  I kept with long sleeved pyjamas for the moment, as its still a bit chilly at night.  There was such a huge selection on the website that it was hard to decide!!  There were lots for older boys, with flossing and gamer themed designs.  But I chose Hey Duggee for my littlest and a funny face design for my eldest:

My littlest one has a really skinny waist, and so we really struggle to find pyjama bottoms in his size that will stay up!  Unfortunately these were no exception, but that is a challenge only we face!!

Our eldest loved his funny face ones and they fit him perfectly.   There were also some great “Birthday Pyjamas” with number on, which I thought was a lovely idea similar to Christmas eve PJ’s that would help grow the excitement for their big days.

Sam’s blue funny face PJ’s were £8.99 and you can buy them here.

Reuben’s Hey Duggee PJ’s were £7.99 and you can buy them here.

Overall, for the price I thought the quality of the pyjamas was good, and it was nice to be able to browse through a large collection of designs, rather than the limited selection you might find on the high street.  I was really impressed with the selection of items for older boys, as sometimes that can start to be a problem when they hit 8-10years and want something less character based.  Shipping is free if you spend over £20 (which is easily done if you are shopping for all your family!!).

So go and have a scroll through the www.pyjamas.com website and see what you like. (And see below for some more pictures of the items we ordered)

In HER Shoes – Esther (Week 6)

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Good Morning Mummy Meditators (or good afternoon/evening if you are catching up later today!) and welcome to week six of our Esther study.  This week has been an emotional one for me, as I’ve tried to step into Esther’s shoes and imagine what she was feeling during this verse:

“When Esther’s eunuchs and female attendants came and told her about Mordecai, she was in great distress. She sent clothes for him to put on instead of his sackcloth, but he would not accept them.” Esther 4:4

Something Awful had happened

We have jumped ahead in the story quite a bit this week.  Last week we left on a high as Esther had been crowned Queen, and a big party commenced.  But then a chunk of the story happened before we next saw Esther.  Mordecai uncovered a plot to kill the King (a side-note really but crucial later on) and then we are introduced to Haman.  Haman had risen in the ranks and it had kind of gone to his head.  He liked it when people knelt down and honoured him, but Mordecai wouldn’t do so.   We’re not told why exactly that Mordecai won’t do this – perhaps it is because he sees this as idol worship in a way, and like Daniel refusing to worship the king, Mordecai refused to taint himself by bowing down to anyone other than God.

Haman hears about this, and that Mordecai is a Jew, and gets the hump.  He decides to deal with it by blowing it out of proportion and making it sound like the Jews are about to revolt against the King.  The King acts appropriately and wants to quell any potential revolution, so allows Haman to issue and edict to kill all the Jews.

grief kicks in

So perhaps we read out meditation verse and thought Mordecai was over-reacting – verse 1 of chapter four says this:

“When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly. ” Esther 4:1

But if you knew that yourself and all of your friends/family/relations (even if you didn’t have many) were going to be mass-murdered in a few days, what would you do????!  Would you carry on going to work?  Would you smile cheerfully as you carried on normal business?  Or would you cry like you’ve never cried before?  We deduced earlier in the series that actually it might just be Esther and Mordecai left from their family, and so Mordecai heads to the one person he wants to share his last few days with.  Esther at the palace.  Only he can’t get close.

“But he went only as far as the king’s gate, because no one clothed in sackcloth was allowed to enter it.” Esther 4:2

Just reading this makes my heart go out to Mordecai.  It makes me want to hug him and make it all better.  So can you imagine what Esther feels when she hears this?

separated from each other

Esther is in the palace and probably isn’t allowed to leave the palace grounds.  Mordecai is outside the palace and isn’t allowed in the way that he is dressed.  So Esther thinks of the easiest solution that will mean she can comfort her cousin – sending him clothes.  Clothing is the barrier between them, and so she tries to fix that.  When I read this story as a teenager I always thought she was ashamed of Mordecai for making a big scene outside her palace, but reading it again I see the compassion here, the ache to be with her last remaining blood family member.  After losing her parents, it must have been agony not to be there with him.  It says in the verse she was in “great distress” and I imagine she was inconsolable by her many servants and eunuchs.  As nice as they may have been, they weren’t the one person she wanted to see in that moment.

In the Facebook Community we shared experiences of not being able to physically be with our loved ones during times of need.   We said we might feel sad, frustrated and confused as to why our help had been rejected when it would have brought us together.   We also mentioned possibly feeling resentful for the position that we were in that was stopping us from getting to our loved one – perhaps Esther also felt resentful that she was now Queen and now allowed the freedom to go outside and see Mordecai.  If she had just stayed at home and not tried to become Queen they would have been able to spend those last few days together.

Overall, it sounds like it would have been a very confusing and heart-breaking time for the two of them, and the phrase “great distress” is a very simplified way to describe all those emotions going on.  Lets try to remember the state that Esther would have been in as we come to next week’s verse.

Next week

From this place of emotion we now see Mordecai’s attempt to solve the problem, as we meditate on this verse:

“He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told him to instruct her to go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people.” Esther 4:8

I hope you will join in the conversation over in the Facebook Group, and join me at 8pm on Monday evening for a Facebook live discussion to kick off the week! You’ll also find the free phone lock screen over in the group tomorrow morning so you can keep the verse central during the week ahead.

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Three Fab Books for February

I am so thankful to be sent some great resources for parents to read through and review on your behalf.  This month I want to share three books that I’ve been asked to review, my honest opinion on them, and who should read them.  Lets begin!!!

Lessons I learned from My Little Girl

lessons i learned from my little girlHave you ever realised something new about God from something your child has done?  I am a firm believer that becoming a parent helps you understand the father-heart of God in a more real way, and that is what Dai Hankey is trying to capture in this beautiful coffee table book.  Full of beautiful illustrations, endearing stories of his daughter and perfect parallels drawn into parts of God’s character and story, this book is a delight to read.  Each of the 8 chapters takes only 5-10 minutes to read, and so is perfect for a coffee break.

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This book would be a lovely gift to give an expectant or new parent, and with its gospel themes it would be ideal for those who are on the fringe of church or non-Christians to point them to God in that new season.

Buy it here for £7.99 from Christian Focus Publishing

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Idols of a mother’s Heart

idols of a mothers heartHave you ever wondered why motherhood is so hard and why it brings out the worst in us sometimes?  It’s because God is trying to sanctify us and make us more like Jesus.  This book explores how idolatry is something that really manifests itself in motherhood and how we can recognise and deal with that. The book is split into three sections – the first one setting the scene and getting you up to speed on idolatry in the bible (I found this quite a dull section to be honest, as I was already aware of what it was), the second section identifying what idols might be prevalent for mothers, and the last section helping you deal with those.

This book has been one I have had a love hate relationship with.  I have enjoyed reading some chapters, and others not so much.  But each chapter is finished with some questions to ponder over and a well thought out prayer that captures the heart of that chapter.  I have been forced to look at myself and what things might have taken the place of God in my heart as a mother, and just in general.  It is a necessary but not easy read, and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to properly check their hearts are in the right place during this season of life.

Buy it here for £7.99 from Christian Focus Publishing

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Raising Kids in a You Can Do It World

raising kids in a you can do it worldI have loved this series of books as they are short, snappy and to the point, whilst dealing in a biblical way with some of the biggest issues we face as parents in our current world.  This one particularly deals with our over positive world, where you are told you can achieve anything and everything, and yet we have to balance that with what the bible teaches us about sin and needing a saviour.

I love the way that each chapter only takes 5 minutes to read – it is bitesize and perfect for parents to be able to digest in the time they have spare.  There are 8 different “signposts” on how to approach and deal with this world in a biblical way, and all are very practical such as “Thrill them with the gospel”, “team up with a faithful church” and “teach them God is awesome”.  I was left feeling equipped and as if actually this wasn’t a big problem anymore, as I am already doing lots of the things suggested in the book to give my children the tools to deal with the world we are in.  For the sake of a couple a quid (yup, the book is really that cheap!) it is worth investing in and preparing yourself, even if you only have young children, so that they have the best foundation to take on this current world from.

Buy it here for £2.99 from 10ofthose.com

DISCLAIMER: I was sent free copies of these books by the publishers for my honest review.  I have received no payment for doing this, and all opinions stated here are my own.