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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!

barely awake pyjamas

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

page inside idols of a mothers heart

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. 

 

In HER Shoes – Esther (week 5)

 

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As I came to think about this week’s verse I was acutely aware that I hadn’t found much time this week to ponder it and meditate on it.  I was gutted that I hadn’t given it enough time, as I don’t feel like I’ve got everything I could have out of this verse.  If thats you too, then welcome!  You are at home here with those of us who have rushed through this week with barely a moment to spare.  Instead of feeling guilty, I hope you read this post and that God reveals something to you through it, and I also pray that you (and me too!) can find just a bit of space in our coming week to meditate over the next verse.

It is weeks like this that I am so so grateful for the Mummy Meditations Community, for their comments and input and ideas, and I’ll be sharing lots of them below.  Our verse this week has been:

“Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favour and approval more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.” Esther 2:17

That feeling

I read this verse in the King James Version and it threw open a whole new understanding of it.  Instead of the words “attracted to” it used the word “loved“.  The king LOVED Esther above any other woman.  He loved her.  This had stopped being a contest to find the best woman in bed, because the king had felt something.  He’d been moved.  He’d felt a connection to Esther.  The bible doesn’t tell us what or how Esther felt about the King unfortunately, but I’m sure she would have wanted to feel the same way.  The way you feel when you both click, and you could spend all night up talking to the other person about anything and everything!  That rush of connection and emotion.  Esther was not just any woman, she was the one.  Lets not overlook how amazing this moment could have been for this couple.  We assume that because it was the king and there were hundreds of other women involved that it was all forced, but what if it wasn’t?  What if Esther and the King were truly in love?

When I asked the Mummy Meditations Community to think about what it was like to fall in the love, a “spark” was mentioned and that “fluttery feeling”.  If that was how these two were feeling then it would have been one amazing night.  In fact it doesn’t mention in the verse that she was asked to leave and go to the different part of the harem for the concubines.  Instead it says that he put a crown on her head.  So maybe this was a night that lasted longer.  Maybe they were chatting and sharing their hearts and bodies with each other in a way like the King had not done with anyone else.

I always thought she was being groomed to be raped by the king, and forced into marriage.  But that one word of translation – love – changes everything when I read it this week.

That “thing”

From Hegai, to the whole palace court, and now to the King.  Everywhere Esther goes she finds favour, approval and gets special treatment.  What is that all about???!  We chatted about this in the Facebook live and some of our thoughts as to what made her different included:

  • her faith in God – even when she tried to hide her heritage it shone through
  • her dependence on God – she would have had to trust in her as her Father after losing her parents at a young age
  • her lack of dependence on physical things to win people over – she didn’t take extras in with her, just the bare minimum.

In the same way that the light of Jesus shines out of us for all to see, the light of God shone out of Esther as her hope, her confidence and her provision.  This would have been starkly different to the other virgins there who would have been mostly Persian, and trusting in other things to win the King over.

We may not always think we are different to the world, in fact sometimes we might hide who we are in Christ, but lets not forget that the light within us will always shine through everything we do and be visible to others.

Royal crown

The climax of this verse is that Esther is made Queen, and lots of you loved the imagery of the Royal Crown being put upon Esther’s head.  There were lots of parallels drawn to Christ with his crown of thorns – being elevated into this position was not necessarily going to be an easy place to be, and like Jesus on the cross, it would come with its own sacrifices.   It also reminded us that we wear a crown now because of Jesus, and that if we continue through life and stand during trials, we too will be bestowed with crowns of life.

Stepping in to Esther’s shoes, I started to wonder how she felt in this position.  The previous Queen had been humiliated and cast aside, and so there may have been some doubt in her heart about her future in that role.  I wonder if there was also a sense of being a winner!  Out of 400 women, she was the one he chose.  Did she boast in that news?  Did she commiserate with the other virgins in the harem who might have either been her friends or enemies for the past year?  Did she take the news gracefully and accept this new role well?  Again, we can’t be sure, but when I put myself in her shoes I felt this torrential mixture of emotions – pressure of a new role, joy of security, sadness for those who lost out, compassion and perhaps the dizzy feelings of new love!  One thing is for sure this would have been an exciting and confusing time for her with lots of new experiences (she had just lost her virginity – thats big enough on its own without throwing in becoming Queen!!).

next week

Well, now that Esther is officially Queen, we are going to jump ahead in the story.  The rest of Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 of the book don’t actually mention Esther at all, but do read through them to catch up on the plot before meditating on our next 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

I would love for you to join me live at 8pm tomorrow (Monday!) night for a Facebook Live discussion to kick off the week!  I want to hear about how you deal with success?  Would you have reacted the same was as Esther when she “won” the prize?

 

In HER Shoes – Esther (Week 4)

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Well, its been an interesting weekend with out internet refusing to work properly, so its a miracle really that this is written at all!!  But welcome to week 4 of our Esther series.  We are now a quarter of our way through the story, and I think we’ve learnt a lot about Esther already.  This is a young women who hasn’t had an easy start to life – she’s lost her parents, been adopted, forced to keep a rather large secret and live in a harem with 400 other women.  But despite all of these challenges, she seems to be able to keep making a good impression and make friends where it counts.

This week we were meditating on the following verse:

“When the turn came from Esther (the young woman Mordecai had adopted, the daughter of his uncle Abihail) to go to the King, she asked for nothing other than what Hegai, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the harem, suggested.  And Esther won the favour of everyone who saw her.”  Esther 2:15

There are four things that I want to highlight that have come through in our discussions and in my own meditations on this verse:

Anticipation

Lets take a moment to think about the magnitude of this moment for Esther.  As a young girl in this culture, getting married would have been a big landmark in her life, signifying her separation from her old family and joining to start a new one.  Throw into the mix that this is with the King of the country she was currently living with, that she was in competition with 400 of the most beautiful women around, and that if she got it wrong she would be tossed aside like nothing, and you’ve got yourself a high stakes situation.  Nervous, anticipation, fear, stress?  Those would be the things that I would be feeling in that situation.  My own wedding night was stressful enough, and I was with someone I loved, trusted and knew! So I can’t even begin to imagine how this would have felt for Esther.  As she walked down that corridor towards the King I am sure there were butterflies in her tummy, but perhaps there was also a air of certainty or confidence, as we know that she had taken Hegai’s advice……

Advice

Esther wasn’t unprepared.  In contrast to the other women who were trying to think up all the amazing things they could take with them to woo the King, Esther took a different approach.  Instead, she befriended Hegai, the eunuch, and asked for his advice.  Esther recognised that she was young, naïve and didn’t know the King at all, and so went to someone who could help.  Hegai was older, wiser, knew more about the King than she did, but we also think he may have been of Jewish heritage, so possibly shared the same values as her.  He had the inside knowledge, and was able to wisely recommend to Esther how to proceed.  This must have been a great comfort to her, and Esther was wise enough to listen to someone greater than her.

Acceptance

She hasn’t even reached the King’s chamber yet (that happens next week!) but it mentions again that she is winning favour with everyone she meets.  I can’t help but see the hand of God in this, as she walks around the palace and has a different demeanour and attitude to the other women because of her relationship with God.  Perhaps she wasn’t trying so hard to catch attention or be flirtatious.  Perhaps she was more confident in herself as women.  We don’t know, but we know that she was making all the right steps.

answers

I don’t know about you, but for me this passage threw up way more questions to me than it answered.  I long to know what Esther took in with her, what the others took in, how were they being prepared in the harem?  So many things unanswered.  What questions do you have from this week?

application

The application that has been jumping out at me all week from this verse is this: WHO AM I TAKING ADVICE FROM????

Is it from the internet, is it from a person who hasn’t earnt that position in my life, is it from someone less wise than me?  Check who it is that you are listening to and taking advice from and follow Esther’s example – someone wiser/more experienced in that area, someone who has inside knowledge, someone who shares the same values as you.  If you are taking advice from someone who doesn’t tick these boxes, then that advice is useless.  There are so many pressures and stresses in this world that we need to make sure we are getting help from the right places.

next week

It’s a landmark week for Esther next week as we move on to looking at this verse together:

Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favour and approval more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.” Esther 2:17

There is a new FREE PHONE LOCK SCREEN design coming out to you all on Monday over in the Facebook community, along with the opportunity to join me at 8pm tomorrow night to kick off the week’s discussions and thoughts.  Do join me there and share your comments on this weeks verse below or in the Facebook group.