Lessons from HS2 for Online Community Building

Four years ago my life split apart at the seams, along with the lives of 200 other families on the estate that I lived.  Emotions ran high.   Anger and fear and sadness.  Some people hid in their homes.  Others sought out solace in those around them.  News crews swarmed and reported and blew out of proportion.  What would happen in the end?  Nobody really knew.  But I knew that if we were going to get through it, we had to pull together.

The news of HS2 coming through the estate where I lived happily brought so many similar things to what society as a whole is feeling today as the coronavirus pandemic worsens.  Yes it was on a much smaller scale, and the outcomes are very different.  No-one was going to die of HS2, and nobody was stock piling toilet paper!  But the feelings that it brought were very similar.

I decided that standing out on the street and crying wasn’t the most helpful of reactions, and instead set up a Residents Facebook Group.  We needed to be community, to strengthen each other, and the best way to do that when we had no community hall or space to gather was online.  Today we see many churches and organisations trying to figure out how to be community online.  And I wanted to share my wisdom and learning from what happened with us four years ago.

Not everyone will want to be involved

My heart for setting up a Residents Facebook Group was so that no-one would have to deal with that news on their own.  I imagined a utopia of support and encouragement, community events off the back of it with happy smiling faces, everyone patting me on the back and saying how great it was.  But that is not the reality.  Truthfully, not everyone will want to be involved in an online community, and THAT’S OK!! Maybe they already have their own support networks – leave them to do their own thing.  Maybe online isn’t for them – pop round and see them instead.  Maybe they just want to deal with it on their own – you can’t force them not to!  But providing an option for those who are feeling scared and vulnerable to connect with others in the same boat is a really valuable thing to do.  Don’t let those who don’t want to be involved stop you from doing it.

emotions will run high – don’t take it personally

In the first few weeks after the news had dropped on our estate, everyone was dealing with it differently.  My husband was calm as a cucumber.  I was crying at every little thing.  My next door neighbours were angry with the government and ready for a fight.  Emotions were right on the surface and people were all to ready to share them online.  Yet there weren’t so good at accepting others had different views to them.

I felt like, as the admin of the group, it was my job to calm everyone down and make it all better, BUT IT WASN’T!!!  We must not fall into the trap of feeling responsible for the wellbeing of those in our online community.  Let them process what is going on.  Let them share their fears and emotions.  Let the group as a whole minister to them.  And don’t take emotional outburst personally – you are just the person providing the forum for it.

aim to be a peacemaker Not a peacekeeper

Sometimes, as the admin of the group, you are going to have to make controversial and difficult decisions.  You won’t always be able to placate everyone and keep the peace.  Sometimes you will have to stand up and MAKE the peace (read my keeper vs maker post from 2016!).   Fight for what is right – freedom of speech but not those who abuse others from behind their keyboards.  Maybe sometimes you’ll have to offend or upset your friends or neighbours by doing that.  It is really really hard to be the keeper for an online community.  But try being a good role model, sharing positive and encouraging things, and praying for those in the group.

digital detox will be needed

Some nights I literally could not put my phone down.  There would be a constant stream of notifications and comments to vet on the the group.  It started to take over my life and head space.   And with so much of our lives likely to enter into an online space over the next few weeks you may just end up with square eyes!!!

So schedule in some digital detox time.  Put do not disturb hours on your phone so notifications don’t ping all night long.  Make it clear on your online group when you will or won’t reply to comments.  And then switch off.

Spring Book Reviews

Are you ready for a bit of sunshine in your life?  Excited to be starting the exit the great cold and darkness that is winter?  Well have a read through my latest book reviews to find somethings that might give you some inspiration ready for Spring!

(Disclaimer: I was sent these books for free to review, but all opinions are my own)

The Essential Guide to Family Ministry

I have found this book so fascinating, and for anyone who is involved in children’s or families ministry, or church leadership in general, I think this is a must read.   The first part of the book sets up how family life has changed through the generations, leading us to the world we find ourselves in now.  How the “extended family” of the pre-1900’s where everyone lived close and was in and our of each others lives changed to the “nuclear family” ideal of the 50’s and 60’s, to the many many different ways that families can be now, with more acceptance of step-families, working families and dispersed families.

The author then goes on to talk about the theology behind family ministry and what it should look like in our churches today.  That actually we need to encourage faith at home, be more inter-generational rather than always splitting off age groups, and be missional in our activities too.

The last part of the book outlines 7 habits for highly effective family ministry, and these are all really thought provoking.  It has certainly got me thinking about how I plan the activities in my new role.  So if you are re-thinking how you reach families or just if it is even important, then this is one to read.

Available to buy for £8.99 from the BRF website. 

Parenting for faith course booklets and DVD

If you haven’t heard me talking about how great the Parenting for Faith Course is already, then let me say it again!  I LOVE the parenting for faith course.  So when I got sent the printed copies of the resources to review I was over the moon.  I ran the course using all the free online versions of the videos and booklets, but I have to say that sometimes people didn’t bother to watch the videos at home or print off the booklets.  So to have it on DVD would mean that you can easily watch this in churches where there is no wifi (yes those places do still exist!!) and altogether as as group.  I loved the quality of both the leaders and participants books, and there is plenty of space to write answers in.   The booklets would be much better looked after than flimsy print outs and hopefully would mean people would keep looking back at the materials and resources from the course in the future.

You can check out all the different bundles and resources in this series here on the BRF website.

2020 Plans and Prayers

How on earth is it March already?!

And this post, which I am normally very quick to get written in the first week of January is still sat in my drafts folder.  Has the year been zooming past quickly for you too?  As a mum on a mission life can sometimes seem to just slip out of our hands, and yet it is still really valuable to make sure that we take time to pause, review and put God at the centre.

2020 Plans

My 2020 has already started, but I want to encourage you to stop and make sure your year is going the way you want it.

  • New Job – I’m going to be honest here and say that this is taking over my life, but in an amazing, God given, happy way!  My role as Youth, Children’s and Families worker is such a blessing.  I love that now I get to spend my time intentionally connecting with families and children.  That I can put into motion events and activities I want to see happen.  This year I know will be filled with many thoughts and much time spent on work, but joyfully!  By the end of 2020 I hope I can say that I have made some amazing friends, worked my hardest for God and brought some new people into his kingdom.
  • New Kitchen – With the little bit of redundancy money I got from my old job, we decided to tackle one of the rooms in our house which really needed doing.  The kitchen.  If I’d written this in January it would have been a plan!  But now, in March, it is almost finished!  So it’s nice to know I’ve completed at least one of this years plans already!  This might also transfer into some other DIY projects over the year – hopefully the hall stairs and landing will get done and a possibly an upstairs bathroom.   But we will just have to wait and see.
  • Walking and yoga – As with most homeworkers, exercise can be hard to come across during the normal working day.  So this year I am prioritising trying to walk more and do daily yoga to help with those aches and pains (I feel like I am getting older!).  I’ve tried going to classes and other things but it just doesn’t work for me and fit in with family life.  So walking to school is a great way to get some fresh air and exercise.
  • Reading more – I love escaping into a good book, and I also know the value of reading books that will inspire my faith journey or help me in my new role.  So I am going to try to read at least 2 books every month – one fiction and one non-fiction.
  • Adventure/Pilgrimage –  We don’t have any holidays booked, don’t know what is happening with my husbands contract, and no clue how life will go this year, so I am embracing adventure and following God on this crazy pilgrimage that is life!  I don’t really have any plans or care where we end up as a family as long as God is there with us.  I hope by the end of 2020 that my boys have grown spiritually and us too.
  • Other stuff – I really don’t have any plans or know what 2020 holds for my side projects.  This blog, my bible journaling ministry and Mummy Meditations are all there but not my priority right now.  Perhaps God will inspire some others to take up these mantles.  Or perhaps I can weave them in to my new job.

Verse for the year

My word for the year is “ADVENTURE” and this links in with how pilgrimage is an “intentional adventure in to God”.  That is what I want for this year.  I can’t see or plan how it might pan out, so instead I am aiming to adventure in to God.  The verse that goes with this is:

“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage”  Psalm 84:5

 

Children’s Album Reviews

Hey!!!

This week I have had the huge privilege of being sent some new Children’s CD’s by 10ofthose.com to review, both of which appeal to my children (and me as a new Children’s Worker in Church!).  I’ve also reviewed an extra album which I bought myself too!  So buckle up ready for some rocking reviews…..

Awesome Cutlery – All Together Now

I hadn’t come across Awesome Cutlery before, although I was vaguely aware that every time some asked for recommendations for family devotion books they were mentioned.  This is a really fun CD to listen to, as there are little sketches interspersed with songs.  The sketches are conversations between Captain Awesomeness and Cutlery Boy (just the concept of this made my boys giggle) and in hilarious situations they try to find parallels with God and our faith.  It is done very well, and the songs that follow are often along the same themes.

Some of the songs are a bit cheesy (its a kids CD afterall) but some are really catchy!  It’s not ear vomit (like the annoying songs our alexa is asked to play on repeat….), and I have happily listened to this in the car on my own even without the kids there.

I think my favourite song is “Who I am”.   The CD is only £9.99 and available online here.

Dumbrocks – Your Word

Not sure if this is specifically a kids CD, but the upbeat songs definitely would appeal to children.  Every song is linked to a specific bible verse and has a strong biblical message.  Again I am loving the songs and listening to them on repeat in the car.  There are some simpler ones on here that would work for congregational songs, but if not then it makes good background music for family events and activities.

My favourite song has to be “Awesome Redeemer” which is sung in a round, and is one that I am planning to use in my children’s work.  The CD is £10 and available online here. 

Rend Co Kids – Sparkle Pop Rampage

OK, so I have a disclaimer here.  When Rend Collective first came on the scene I disliked them greatly.  They murdered one of my favourite old style hymns, and I hadn’t forgiven them.  My Lighthouse was an annoyance to me and I was generally grumpy in their direction.  But as my children’s ministry has increased, and I’ve seen the reaction to their music, I have softened.  So much so that I bought this myself on a book stall last weekend!  It is a little on the crazy side (this one is definitely just for kids!), and there are some hits and some misses on this album, but all in all it’s a whole lot of fun!

My favourite songs are “God is a Scientist” and “My Gods the King of Me”.  Both very catchy and funny, and my 6 year old finds the list of things that God created (which repeats “pandas and nostrils and trees” many times) absolutely hilarious.  This is a must buy if you have younger kids, and I am hoping to use a few of the songs in church.

You can buy it online here for only £7.63.

NOTE: I was sent two of these CD’s for free to review here on my blog.  My thoughts above are all my own. 

2019 Praise Points

Oh I so so love this time of year, looking back and looking forward.  As is my tradition here on my blog, this is the first in a series of two posts.  Every year has its highs and lows, it tears and joys.  But the most important thing is to praise God through them all and thank Him for what He has done in our lives.  So here is a quick summary of my 2019 (check out my plans and prayers from the start of the year here!):

  1. Becoming a School Governor.  Early in 2019 I got a phone call out of the blue asking if I wanted to join the board of Governor’s at my son’s school.  I didn’t even know what a governor did, but after a bit of research, prayer and contemplation I decided to step up to the role, and I am so glad I did.   I have made new friends and colleagues on the governing body, as well as feeling like a part of the school in a way I wasn’t before.  It’s been a steep learning curve, but such a rewarding one.
  2. Mummy Meditations New Website and Award.  My aim for early 2019 was to get Mummy Meditations set up as a website in its own right and to give it a unique identity, separate to this blog and my random ramblings about life as a Christian Mum!  Just after Easter I achieved this and it’s gone from strength to strength, even coming Runner Up in the Up and Coming Category at the Premier Digital Awards.  My plan now is to truly make it a multi-author blog and to have new voices and writers join the team, to empower other mums in this season.
  3. New Job For Hubby.  This year we really stepped out in faith and God delivered a new job for my husband at the Bible College he trained at.  It hasn’t been plain sailing but he is definitely in the place God wants him, and there is a joy that comes with knowing that.
  4. ROME!!!!! Yes we FINALLY got round to our big trip to Rome.  It was planned for our 30th Birthdays, then as a 10th Wedding Anniversary trip, and this year we made it.  It was an amazing trip, and we saw so many great sights.  All the saving up paid off.  Now where to go next?!
  5. Two more rooms finished in our home.    We have continued to crack on with DIY this year, as well as investing in the conversion of our garage into an en-suite bedroom and storage room.  The boys bedroom got decorated in the summer whilst they were away and prep work in the hall/stairs/landing area has been slowly continuing.  Bit by bit we are modernising this sixties house!
  6. Lodgers in and out. Following on from the garage conversion, we were able to welcome a new lodger into our home this September.  We also said goodbye to our other lodger who had been able to save up to buy her own home!  We love the hospitality of opening up our home to others, and being able to be a platform to the next stages of their lives.
  7. New Job For Me.  Well this wasn’t on the books at all at the beginning of 2019.  I was quite happy in my job at Teenage Cancer Trust.   But unfortunately in September I got the news that my role was being made redundant.  I am amazed by how God has used this sad news to bring even more joy, as I start the role of Youth, Children’s and Families Worker at the church in my local community, that is linked to the school I am a governor at.  So although this hasn’t technically happened yet, it all got confirmed in 2019!  Watch this space for more news on how I get on…..
  8. Northumberland.  We went camping as a family up to Northumberland this summer, and enjoyed exploring the beaches, Holy Island and castles.  I can highly recommend it as the beaches were beautiful and kept us entertained for hours.
  9. Joining NewLife.  Another big change for us was moving churches this year.  It wasn’t something we planned, but we felt God saying it was time for us to move on to somewhere new, and we always find family in church wherever we go.  The pastors at NewLife in Scunthorpe have made us very welcome, and we’re looking forward to getting more involved there in the new year.
  10. Bible Journaling Opportunities.  This year has seen lots more chances for me to run Bible Journaling Workshops, including monthly funshops in Doncaster.  With my new job starting in January I’m not sure how much I’ll get to do this year, but its been lots of fun introducing people to creative worship this year.

Wow, that’s quite a list of things that I am praising and thanking God for this year!  And I was thinking it had been quite an emotional and stressful year, but there really has been so much great stuff happen.

Things I didn’t get to do

The only plan I didn’t get to see through this year was going to Hillsong’s Colour Conference.  Due to a ticket mix up I gave my place to someone else,  but I’m booked to go again this year with some friends so hopefully that will happen!

Soundtrack to 2019

A new addition to this year’s post, but I felt like I wanted to share two songs that have impacted me hugely in 2019, and will forever be the soundtrack to this turbulent time.

My Verse of the Year

My word of the year for 2019 was “SERIOUS” and the verse that inspired that was the following:

“When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll fine me. Yes, WHEN YOU GET SERIOUS about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed” God’s Decree.” Jeremiah 29:12-14 (MSG)

After a rocky 2018 and not taking prayer and God seriously, I wanted to change that this year.  In so many situations we have just had to have faith that God would work it out, to take Him seriously on His promises.  And looking back now I can say with confidence that we have not been disappointed.  This verse has been such a comfort and an inspiration to me this year, through job changes and consultation periods, and I have found that when I put things in God’s hands instead of mine, things work out much better.  2019 – you have been a true roller-coaster, but the ups have made the downs worth it.

Christianity and the Consultation Period

Sometimes life throws you a curve ball.

For me that was getting the news in September this year of being “at risk of redundancy.”

Being at risk of redundancy means that you enter what is called a “consultation period”.  It is a stressful time where emotions are high and your future is unknown.  You get a chance to discuss the plans with your managers, suggest new ways of doing things and try to figure out what happens to you next.

My initial reactions included anger, sadness, hopelessness, betrayal and upset.  I tried to embrace these emotions and just let them come out for the first few days – we are emotional beings and I can’t stop those feelings happening.  But after a few days of feeling sorry for myself and wanting to punch someone in the face (in the nicest possible way!), I pulled myself together and went to God with it all.

I needed His guidance on what to do next, how to respond in love and how to be a great witness during all this.  And here is what I came away with:

  1. Be there for those who are going through it.  Yes this is a tough time for me personally, but there were other colleagues also going through this.  This provided a unique opportunity to show them love and support where I might not have been able to before.  I am speaking encouragement into their lives and sharing part of how I am dealing with it.  I am living out my faith in front of them (even though we are all remote workers so hardly ever meet up in person).
  2. Be at peace with what God wants you to do next.  After praying it through I felt an immense peace about accepting the decision of the leadership team where I work, and moving on.  By sharing the peace I feel about this with those at work, even though that meant I am accepting redundancy without knowing what was coming next, I showed the faith that I have in God to come through for me.  I went into my one to one consultation meeting with this peace in my heart and it showed in the way that I was able to talk so positively about my decision.
  3. Treat those in leadership with love throughout the process.  Consultation is a high stress time for all those involved.  Those in leadership have had to make some very tough and heartbreaking decisions for the good of the company.  And despite my desire to death stare them all when I found out, I know that is not the right way to do things.  In my one to one consultation I was able to empathise with those conducting the meeting and that meant that when I shared what had upset me, they actually took it more seriously.
  4. Seize the opportunity to share your faith.  In times like this people start to see how others react, they look for solutions to their problems, and this opens up doors to share what your way is.  I was actually able to share about my experience in church during my one to one consultation meeting with people that I have worked with for 8 years and never said a bean!!!  The unique conversations and emotion lead discussions give space for these conversations to happen, so seize the opportunity if it comes.

I am now at the end of this process.  Friday will be my last day before I am made redundant.  But I am so excited that having trusted God in this process, I have a new and exciting job to look forward to starting in January.  If it wasn’t for the consultation period looming in my mind I may never have applied for this new role, so I am thanking God for it.  Yes its been stressful, there have been visual migraines and tears and nights where I just wanted to curl up in a ball and it all disappear.  There have been tense phone calls and butterflies in my stomach before meetings.   But over it all God has been sovereign and I have trusted He knows best.

I am hoping that me sharing this story now gives some hope to anyone going through something similar.  Keep going in the uncertainty and cling to God.  That is all we can do.

 

 

 

Gifts from Wanapix – a review

I love personalised gifts, something that shows you’ve put a bit of extra thought in and that is unique to the person you are giving it to.  There are plenty of places nowadays that offer this service, but I was recently contacted by Wanapix, a Christian company that has some really unique and special gift items available for personalising.

 

table with floral tablecloth on

After spending hours on their website, I decided on a tablecloth for our home.  We love hospitality, having people over for meals, and we also run a Pudding Club every other month, so this seemed like a great item for us.  We affectionately call our house “Ridlerville” so I wanted a tablecloth that reflected that, and this design was perfect!  All the designs are modern and you can customise in many ways.  There are also some great Christmas themed tablecloth designs if you want something to make you Christmas table extra special.

The other item that I thought was really unique is the personalised doormats.  These items get regularly worn through in our house anyway, and if you have someone who is harder to think of ideas for this might be a good one.  They have cute family doormats with pairs of shoes (or pet paw prints!) on that you can add all your family names to.  But I loved this Beauty and the Beast inspired one.  I have covered the name over as this will actually be a gift for some friend (shhhh!!!).

doormat

What I also loved about wanapix was their attention to detail and little extras.  The website is really easy to use and makes customising items simple.  When I received my parcel there were also some extra goodies included!!  Gummy bears always welcome, but on the bottom of a very generous return offer there were some cute stickers that you could use in your diary/on presents or elsewhere.  What a lovely touch!

I did receive these good for free in return for my review, but I will be using wanapix again for future gift inspiration.  Wanapix have generously offered my readers a discount code  which will get you a whopping 50% off on tablecloths, placemats and doormats!!!!  Just use “MUMONAMISSION”  when you get to the checkout.

Enjoy!

Book Reviews – A Fruitful Home and Head Heart Hands

Thanks to 10ofthose.com for sending over copies of two new resources for me to review – one aimed at Christian parents, A Fruitful Home, and one aimed at teenagers, Head Heart Hands.

A fruitful home

I get sent lots of books, and I try to provide honest reviews of them.  So occasionally I come across some books that I just don’t get along with or click with.  We all have our own styles of writing that we enjoy, and personally I just didn’t click with Ann Benton’s style of writing.

Writing from the perspective of a grandparent who was parenting in the 1970’s means that some of the examples and viewpoints are maybe slightly outdated, despite Ann herself referring to how damaging this can be!  The language used is quite formal, so instead of feeling like I had a friend or mentor journeying with me and providing advice, it felt more like an instructional manual that I was trying hard to understand.  There were many references to traditional literature and stories, such as The Wind in the Willows and Mansfield Park, which I found quite alienating as I am not familiar with and don’t enjoy those classics.

If you click with that kind of writing then please do buy this book – there is a lot of wisdom and advice inside to help you set up the culture of your house and really start to think and consider whether our parenting is gospel focused or not.  The book is available for only £4.99 from 10ofthose.com. 

Head HEart Hands

Head Heart Hands is a new collection of bible study resources aimed at young people and teenagers.  In three volumes, they split up the book of Matthew into manageable chunks, highlighting the themes and the big picture of the book.  There are anecdotes mixed with insightful questions and space to write answers.  There are simple prayer suggestions in response to each study, and 40 studies in total in each book.  There’s plenty of blank space and pages for own notes and sketches, as well as pleasant artwork illustrating each study.

These books would be ideal for a young person who wants to start being more independent in their own bible study, or to use as a group together.   The set of three books is £12.99 (multi-buy discounts are available if buying for a group!).

 

GUEST POST – How to Journey Creatively Through Advent as a Family

Welcome everyone to November, the month where I am starting to make sure all my plans are in place to have an awesome December and festive period!!!  So I was over the moon when a friend in blogging approached me to write a guest post for us all so get us thinking about advent this year.  So without further ado, I will hand over to Lucy to tell us more…..

How to Journey Creatively Through Advent As A Family

Lucy RycroftI think we can all agree that December is a busy month.

With presents to buy, cards to send, food to prepare, and road trips to plan – on top of all the other daily pressures of having a family – it can be all too easy to allow ourselves to be distracted from who we’re celebrating.

And yet there is so much potential, as the nights draw in and we spend more time indoors with our families, to use this special pre-Christmas period – known as ‘Advent’ – to focus on Jesus.

As a mum of four children aged 5-10, I have tried and tested a huge range of different approaches and resources over the years, always knowing that we wanted our children to be in no doubt about what we were celebrating each December.

One thing we have always stressed is telling the Christmas story interactively throughout Advent.

Don’t rely on school or church or outside influences to do this work for you! As we know, sometimes the story gets distorted (anyone remember Octopus no.8 in the Nativity play featured in Love Actually??).

But even if it doesn’t, our children need to know that the Nativity story is important to us as their parents, and they will know this if we prioritise sharing the story together with them. We can also take time to explore different thoughts about the story, answer their questions, and ponder with them the unanswerable ones.

We are much more likely to remember things we do than things we read, so why not use a Nativity set to share the story simply with your children? This could be over breakfast, after nap-time, just before bed, or whenever suits your family best.

As your children get involved in moving the figures and saying the words, they will absorb the Christmas story from head to toe!

Another activity our children love is our Advent basket. It comes out at the start of December and you can read more about it here, including what we put in it.

Very simply, it’s a basket full of Christmas story books, toys, games and puzzles. Most – not all – are focused on the Nativity. The novelty of it only coming out for one month every year means that our children get excited to see it, and re-connect with items they haven’t seen for 11 months!

Why not group together all your Christmas resources into an Advent basket this year? If you have a few pounds spare, you could even buy a new book or two to add to old favourites – and this is a great time of year to scour charity shops for Nativity books and toys.

The beauty of an Advent basket is that it encourages unstructured, free play around the story of Jesus’ birth. You’re doing the ‘structured’ stuff of sharing the story most days – but the free play bit is where our children get to really absorb what they’re learning. Often we will be challenged too, if we take a moment to watch.

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t LOVE an Advent calendar! Instead of – or in addition to – a secular calendar, why not buy a Nativity advent calendar which tells the story each day? This can become your daily storytelling, or add to what you’re already doing.

If you have a perpetual Advent calendar (i.e. one with pockets or drawers which you can use each year), why not fill it with small Nativity figures, pictures representing the Christmas story, or words/Bible verses telling the story?

You could even link it in to a Jesse Tree, with a new ornament to hang on the tree each day.

Along with this, our family have always appreciated having a simple Advent candle (you can buy them from Eden, or your local Christian bookshop or Fair Trade shop, if you’re lucky enough to have one).

When it comes to sharing what you’re celebrating this Christmas, don’t underestimate the power of decorating your tree in ways which point to Jesus. I’m not saying burn all your Santas or snowmen! And I’m definitely not saying you should only buy twee Christian ornaments with Bible verses and bad art.

But how about a subtle shift from celebrating Stuff to celebrating God-Made-Man? I’m a big fan of hearts on our tree – love, after all, was the motivator to God sending Jesus to live, die and rise for us.

Lights are traditional, of course, but we can ‘reclaim’ these to share our belief in Jesus, Light of the World. I love having loads of lights up around our home during Advent!

Small Nativity figures, crowns, babies, angels – when you spot something which will help communicate what we’re celebrating to our families, friends and anyone who visits, snap it up!

And, finally, don’t neglect yourself this Advent. We parents spend our lives caring for others – but if we don’t care for ourselves, we’ll be no good for anyone else!

Make sure you’re topping up your tank this Advent by making a habit of spending time with God. You could use an Advent devotional to do this – my book, Redeeming Advent, was written to help busy people doing All.The.Things to connect with Jesus. Each of the 24 days starts with a typical Christmassy family anecdote, which leads into a Bible reflection, questions to ponder and a prayer suggestion.

There are plenty of other devotionals out there if mine doesn’t appeal. Or maybe you’ll make a habit of weekly meeting with a prayer triplet, or joining an Advent course.

However you connect with God this Advent, I hope and pray it will give you the fuel to ignite not only your passion for Christ, but your children’s passion to get to know their Saviour more.

JOIN ME BACK ON MY FACEBOOK PAGE LATER TODAY (5th November 2019)  FOR THE CHANCE TO WIN A SIGNED COPY OF REDEEMING ADVENT!!!

 

Christianity and The Class Bear

Hey everyone,

It’s been a while.  Life has taken over, with school work, job changes, new ministries and lots more.  But I want to be back here encouraging you all to keep going in your mission as a mum.  I want to share some stories of things that have been happening in my life where I’ve had a chance to provide a small glimpse of Jesus to people in my community.

The first story I want to share is called “Christianity and The Class Bear”.

If you’ve got a child in nursery or school then you’ve probably encountered the class bear.  If you have a baby then at some point in the future you may well do!  My three year old has a class bear (although his name is Peter Puppy!) that every member of the class gets to take home one weekend out of the year.  Whilst visiting the class member, the bear gets to experience life in that household and the lucky parent gets to document it in a book that comes with the bear.   Photos, drawings, tickets, etc can all be added in so that the other members of the class can see what the bear has been up to.

Well, I overheard a lot of parents saying what pressure there was to do something exciting whilst the bear was with them.  Trips out or exciting activities will surely show the other class mates what a great family you are.  So when Peter Puppy came to stay with us I had high standards to live up to!

But instead of buying in to that theme of trying to outdo the other parents for what we had planned, I decided to see it as a mission opportunity.  As a family we are quite unique, because we have Jesus tying us all together.  I wanted that to show through in the photos we shared and the activities we did.  So I included a picture of Peter Puppy worshipping at our church service.  I included a picture of him meeting our lodger, because our family welcomes people into it even if they aren’t flesh and blood.

So if you are the recipient of the class bear anytime soon, what window into your life can you share?  Maybe you can show the parents and children in that class that there are others ways of living, and the difference that going to church and having Jesus in your life makes.