Starting from scratch – mission in a new place

So, the eagle eyed among you will know that recently we moved house.  It was a really exciting move, away from a stressful situation, and into a new and exciting place.  But with the arrival of a new school term, with my son starting in a brand new school, I was suddenly struck with how we are starting from scratch.

Starting from scratch with the neighbours.

Starting from scratch with the mums at the school gate.

Starting from scratch with different school routines.

Starting from scratch with our local places – library, post office, swimming pool.

Everything is brand new, and that means having to start all my relationships from scratch.  And when I looked at having to get to know teachers, kids, parents, office staff at my sons new school this week it was all looking a bit daunting.  I thought about the mums from the old school, the chatter on the school yard and the friendly welcoming faces that would have been there and I felt sad.  I thought about all the teachers who I had gotten to know at the small school of 140 pupils and my heart-wrenched. I had lost my whole network.

But then today in our parents lifegroup, another mum reminded me of something.  That those former relationships didn’t start up over night.  Not at all.  It took 4 years to get to know my neighbours like I did.  It took a whole year for me to get to know the mums and teachers at the school.  I cannot expect to jump back in to a place of intimacy within this new setting.  Instead I should just see where things go.  Let things start organically rather than forcing things to be like they were.

So I will start off with chatting to the neighbours I see out on the street.  I will start off with trying to smile at some of the parents in the yard.  I will seek out new opportunities to get to know people – such as joining the library and going along to the school church for its coffee morning for new parents on the first day of school (what a great idea!).  I don’t need to be super confident or even to look at ways to “do mission” here yet.  I just need to get to know people.  In my own time and my way.  That is a very relieving and releasing thing to realise.

amazing reviews

Amazing Reviews from 2017

amazing reviews

I am now entering that strange reflective zone that characterises the end of the year.  I have been thinking back over everything I had done on the blog this year and was amazing by how many reviews of things I have had the chance to do.  I only really accept reviews if I think they are something I will use and if I think they will have a use for my readers too, so just in case you missed any I have categorised my reviews from 2017 below:

Bible Journaling Products

Children’s Items and Family Fun

Mission and Faith


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:


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…..

free nativity treasure hunt

FREE Nativity Treasure Hunt

free nativity treasure hunt

Last year I was involved in running a nativity themed treasure hunt at our estate Christmas event.  I wanted to add some fun for the kids, but also bring in the real characters of Christmas. 

The idea was really simple.  Give each child an envelope and hide the nativity characters around the estate (I provided a simple map in case they got lost!).  At each stop they would find a bag of smaller versions of the character, which each child could take one of to put in their envelope.  At the end of the treasure hunt, glue and pens would be provided so that the characters would make a nice nativity picture for the children to take home.

As I was making it I thought perhaps it would be good to share with all my readers.  You could use this at Christmas events or parties, or it would also be perfect to use inside throughout your house on Christmas Eve.  Why not print it off and add it to your Christmas Eve box 

You can download the free printable nativity treasure hunt here – enjoy!  And if you like my treasure hunt then please do share it with you friends, family and church members. 

free nativity treasure hunt instructions

candy cane bombing

Candy Cane Bombing!

So I am feeling rather festive at the moment after weeks of preparing everything at work and now the decorations have gone up at home.  It got me thinking about how I am going to bless those around me this year.  I have done numerous things in the past – leaving secret hampers for neighbours, having an open house – but this year I wanted to do something fun!  So I have chosen to do some CANDY CANE BOMBING!!!

My friend mentioned this on social media last year, and it felt a bit too late to do it then, but this year I am on the ball!  Basically, you get some candy canes and all a little message (see below for my free printable sheets).  Tie it all together and then hook them on to the handles of cars so that when the driver comes back they get a little Christmassy treat.

To tie in with our Mummy Meditations theme of joy I have chosen to put the following verse on my cards to go with the candy canes:

“Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger” Luke 2:10-12

To get your free printable pdf version of the candy cane bombing tags and have a go yourself just click here.
Why not share some photos of where you have been bombing on my facebook page or tag me one twitter (@ace_rach) – I would love to see!

Why I fasted Facebook but never Quit it

Yes I had a facebook low point last month.  I wrote a slightly rantly post and I fasted facebook for the weekend and I felt the benefits.  But just because I know I need to slow down in my use and schedule regular breaks from it all doesn’t mean I am going to quit it altogether.

Everytime I think about how awful social media can be, I am then reminded of the relationships I am able to have through it that would be impossible without!

The mum’s who connect to my blog through facebook and comment and share – love you guys!

The friends from uni who live far away but are able to encourage me via facebook

The family who I don’t get to see most years but I can share photos of my boys with

The neighbours I have gotten to know and meet through our new residents facebook group

The ladies who I share bible journalling inspiration with from across the world.

The list could go on and on, but I know that without facebook non of that would be possible, and my life would be less rich.  What do you love about facebook?

Monthly Mission Update – Doing it for the one!

I was going to start my monthly mission update with a list of all the “things” I had done and achieved this month, but then God hit me with something else.  So this won’t give you practical ideas as to what to do in your missional life as a mum, but hopefully it shows a bit of my heart for why I do this and why I write this blog……

I always try to remind myself that I am living a missional life and showing the love of Jesus just for the ONE person that might see, that might benefit and that might come to know Jesus a little bit better through it.  But sometimes the number counting kicks in (partly my own fault for setting number related lifegoals, but you’ve got to aim at something right?!) and I feel down hearted.

Then God comes along and shows me what a difference that ONE can make.  When that ONE person tells you they feel at home in a strange country because of something you have done, when that ONE person opens up for no reason other than the words you have written, when that ONE person gets a treat instead of an insult and sends a thankful text doesn’t it make it worth it???  

Sometimes I feel like I am chipping away day after day and nothing makes a difference.  Like what the point of writing this blog is and then BLAMO!  God gives me an evening like tonight when he shows me that I am doing it for the ONE.  If just ONE person gets empowered, built up, changed, helped, inspired through what I do then it is worth it.  And I don’t know what your “thing” is, what your mission or passion is, but just keep doing it for the the ONE.  You might never know who they are, you might never get that thank you text, but it is still worth it.  Sometimes we get that feedback into how it has helped, and it is completely heart filling and awakening.  But sometimes we don’t – KEEP GOING

Tonight God has hit me like a tidal wave – his love is fierce…..  so I will leave you with this song which is my favourite at the moment:

Car Seat Chaos – Mum on a Mission buys a new car…

Our God really does care about the little things.

And our God really does use the little things to break the ice.

Here is a short, and quite amusing, story that happened to my family a few weeks back:

After weeks of praying and searching God’s heart, we decided it was time to buy a new car.  Our old car was started to be a bit dodgy and we had a feeling that sooner or later it would cost us a LOT of money to fix.  So we wanted to trade it in before that happened!  We went out one weekend to look at cars and came back having made a decision that we wanted to test drive and buy a new(ish!) Vauxhall Vafira.  You know, one of those big boxy family type cars with extra seats in the back in case you accidentally have two more children than planned….

The next weekend we booked in three test drives of three similar cars and prayed for the best (I really wasn’t looking forward to a whole saturday being wiped out spending it in cars and car showrooms).  So off we all drove to the first car showroom excited to start the day and find a new car.  It was all going well until Rob went off to get the car seats out of our old car so we could put them in the one we wanted to test drive.  10 minutes later he still hadn’t returned – that couldn’t be good….

When we all went out to check (me, sam, reuben in his car seat and the sales lady), Rob was wrestling with Sam’s car seat – it was stuck.  Our old car had this annoying feature that if you stopped pulling it out, it had to go all the way back in again to come out again.  And when undoing the seatbelt, it had gone in too far and got wrapped around the arm of the car seat.  There were only two options here – cut the seat belt of the car we were hoping to sell with the sales lady stood right in front of us, or destroy the car seat in some way.  We went for the second option, and Rob sawed off the arm of the car seat with his pen knife.

It made for an interesting ice breaker with the car sales lady, who we entertained around Chesterfield on our test drive.  When we got back to the showroom we got such a deal from her that we couldn’t refuse, and we bought the car there and then.  It was lovely though to be able to spend time talking to her and getting to know about her.  She obviously felt valued in speaking to us, as she then sent extra goodies for Sam when Rob picked up the car, a handwritten thank you card for buying the car from her and then a parcel of goodies for Sam’s birthday also turned up in the post a week later!

It all seemed to turn out ok (and we had managed to time our test drive perfectly to fit in with their company’s promotion of offering a free night away in a hotel when you test drive a used car!), but my heart was heavy that my son was sitting in a car seat that could possibly be dangerous.  I mean, it was still strapped in with the seat belt but having a sawed off arm couldn’t be great, could it?!  I hadn’t prayed about, but God knew it was weighing heavy on my heart.  Then a couple of days later I got an email from Argos.  The car seat was being recalled due to faulty plastic used in it.  We could have a complete refund of £50, no questions asked, it we took it back!

I sometimes stand in awe and wonder at how amazing our Father God is and in his timing.  We bought that car seat over 9 months ago and yet the timing in the recall fitted perfectly with when we truly needed it. 

So many positive things came out of this experience for me – getting to speak light and truth to the lady at the garage, getting a new car seat for free (when it all seemed to have gone wrong), getting a free night away in a hotel and finally my son being blessed with presents as well.  God uses every little experience in our life for His glory and that really and truly excites me.  I hope it excites you too.

Our 40 acts adventure begins!

So we are now over a week into the 40 acts lent generosity challenge, and I am loving it!  It is so exciting to be bringing Sam along for the ride with me this year and to be taking on the family version as well the normal version. We already have so many great stories to share (which I will in a minute!) but I wanted to start off by sharing this song.  I have been reminded today that generosity is a big choice – it makes you wrestle with your selfish inner self, but everytime I let generosity win I am always amazed at the outcome!

Love is something if you give it away

So many time in life we have the choice to hold everything tight to ourselves – love, money, time, objects.  We end up just having lots of stuff but being lonely and excluding others.  When we open our arms and our hearts we all benefit and we end up having more.

So this last week I have completed the following individual challenges:

All set for mr postman….. #40acts @40acts (praying we’ve got mail!)

— Rachel Ridler (@ace_rach) February 16, 2016v

-Circles – thought about who I connect with who might benefit from my generosity
-Roots – connecting with my local community, I signed up to be a friend of a new library starting up nearby
-Cupboard love – cleared out my cupboards and there is now a big pile ready to go to the charity shop!

We didn’t make it, but here is sam’s generosity box for day 3 of #40acts @40acts – raising money 4 @TeenageCancer

— Rachel Ridler (@ace_rach) February 12, 2016

With Sam I have also completed most of the family challenges:
-Made a generosity kit to take around with us
-Left cake for friends to enjoy
-Sellotaped a chocolate bar to the letterbox for the postman
-made a grateful list

It has been amazing seeing Sam get excited about doing generous things – his face when we got home from nursery to see the postman had collected his chocolate bar was worth every penny! And today I ran into the postman to find out that normally there are two of them on our round, but that day there was only him so it had been a great boost for him.

Today I even got my own little generous gift in the post – a fabulous box of thorntons chocolates from a mysterious sender (big thanks to whoever it was!). I was on my way to a Baby Fun group with Reuben and had a big internal fight – should I take them in and share with the other mums who I know will appreciate them too, or should I save them to scoff all by myself on the sofa later.  Luckily, my generous side won out and we ll had a great time at baby fun chatting and eating chocolates. As I said before, everytime I let my generous side win I am always amazed at the result.  So why not join in and take part in 40 act….