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.

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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. 

 

Down in the Dusty Basement….

These last few weeks, my husband and I have been attempting to improve our basement.  The house we bought has five amazing basement rooms,  but they were dusty, dark and not quite fulfilling a useful purpose.  What initially seemed like a quick job of just smartening them up is now taking a reasonable length of time, as we seek to do things properly and so that we won’t have to do it again anytime soon!

We started with clearing out all the stuff stored in them, which meant we had to make space for that in other places.  We then mopped and cleaned the floor numerous times ready for painting.  This was proceeded by a primer coat on the floor, then two coats of heavy duty grey floor paint.  The floor is looking mighty fine right now!!  Gone is the red dust, random sticky patches (don’t even want to know what happened there!) and dusty corners.

Next, my Father-in-law installed new lighting to brighten it up and make it more energy efficient.  He dug in the wires into the joists so that the roof could be boarded over, stopping draughts upstairs through the floorboards.

We then decided to move on to the walls. My hubby took down all the old shelving units on the walls that were sagging and rusting.  We brushed the walls down, hoovered up all the dust, primed them with a watered down coat of paint and did a full coat of white paint on every wall we could get to!

Every step took a day of our time, to let things settle and dry (and to let us recover from working hunched over – did I mention the basement rooms are half the height of normal rooms!).  It was slow, it took longer than hoped, and just when you thought you might be finished, another preparation step popped up.  As I type, we are now having to do another coat of grey paint on the floor to hide the white splodges that got there after painting the walls.  There is more sweeping to do after the mess made from boarding the roof, and then the job of boxing everything up in plastic to keep it dry and safe from rodents.

So what’s my point?  I guess all the DIYing has got me thinking about how long it really takes for God to move and work and change things in our lives.  Quite often I’ll identify an issue I have and pray about it, expecting it to be instantly resolved.  But then a year or so later it comes back, and I’m annoyed that I am still battling it.  I like to think that as I grew up a Christian, my problems aren’t that bad and I’ve never really sinned big style!  But I know now that the sins and issues in my life are ones that are taking many years to be noticed and then to be resolved.

I am currently reading a book called “Idols of a mothers heart” and the author says that motherhood is a season that reveals things in us in a way that no other season can.  The unique stresses, pressures and challenges of motherhood throw things out of us that we never expected, and only then can God deal with them.  Well I can certainly attest to that!  But what I now know, and hopefully will remember, is that most things take a long time to do right.  There are unexpected steps and extra steps we never bargained for, there are the times we have to go over the same job twice because we messed up again.  But if we do it right, and take the time, then we will make a positive change to our lives that will last through future seasons.  Just like we hope our new basement will.

Nothing is unfixable, we just have to deal with the next task on the list to making it better.

 

My 2019 Reading Wishlist

I love reading, but I often find that I don’t have the right books around me that I want to read, or sometimes I’ll hit a brick wall with a book that I really just don’t get!!  There is also that problem of finding time and planning it in to our already hectic lives as mums.  But I think there is great value in putting together a reading list for the year to inspire you and keep you going reading when life gets busy.

I have put together a few books on my list to inspire you, and the reasons why I want to read them:

  1. Raising Kids in a “You Can Do It!” World.  I have loved the “raising kids” series that 10ofthose.com have published, and have worked my way through two other titles already this year.  They are small enough to pick up when you have 5 minutes break, but really address current parenting issues in a relevant and biblical way.  This is the next in the series that I want to get my teeth into.
  2. Idols of a Mother’s Heart.  I was sent this book to review, and it’s been sitting in my pile for a while.  The first chapter has already captured my attention, as it refers to motherhood as a learning and stretching period for us as mums and I am fascinated to know more!  We often lay ourselves down on the alter of our children, but this book aims to dethrone the idols that we can so often pick up during motherhood.
  3. .  This book was recommended by a friend at church and as a self-professed worrier and stress head, I think this will be a useful resource to try and gain a biblical perspective on issues of the mind and to deal with them.
  4. .  I’ve read a few parenting books in my time, but this one was bought for me by my mum and I  am hoping to get a chance to read it over the year.  With two very clever and high energy boys, I want to escape the cycle of shouting at them and bring a sense of peace into the way we parent them.
  5. .  A classic marriage book that I have yet to read!  My hubby always goes on about my love language being gifts, and I get a bit annoyed with him as I have never taken the quiz to find out!  So we are hoping to sit down and work through this together over the year.
  6. I love Francine Rivers and the way that she weaves Christianity and biblical truths into her writing, whether that is by adapting stories based on the bible and taking them further, or writing new stories altogether with themes of love and restoration running through them.  This is one that I haven’t read yet so I’m adding it to my list!
  7. .  I have recently stumbled upon the author Jo Watson, and if you like a bit of chick lit escapism then her books are perfect!  Yes, there is always a happy ending, and yes it is a bit far fetched and romantic.  But they are lovely to get lost in the stories and characters.
2019 plans and prayers

2019 Plans and Prayers

 

2019 plans and prayers

Welcome to my second reflective post for the New Year – this time I am turning my attention to what I am planning and praying for in 2019.  If you missed my praise points from 2018 then catch them here!  Lets go into 2019 with prayerful hearts, dedicating this year to God. Here are some of my plans and prayers:

  1. ROME!!!  I write this once again, but we have now actually booked the flights and hotels so 2019 will finally be the year we visit this amazing city.  It was on the shortlist for our honeymoon, so this is our treat for the year.  If anyone has any recommendations on restaurants/tours etc that we should go to do let me know.
  2. DIY.  This year will be filled with a lot of DIY as we try to turn our 60’s house into a modern space.  Yes, this is partly because we want a nice place to live, but we also want to have a house that we can use for hospitality, a gift that we have both been given by God to bless others with.  This will hopefully see a new bedroom being created in our garage ready for another lodger, and the kitchen and other spaces being transformed so we can do more meals and open house days.
  3. Reuben starting school nursery. reuben in uniform My youngest is now the grand old age of three, and so after Christmas he has a 30 hour place at the school nursery.  He is so excited, and has missed nursery a lot the last 6 months.  It will also take away a lot of stress for me in regards to childcare, housework and blogging, as I will have at least one day a week where I am not working so can catch up on mum admin!!  I am praying that I can use this time wisely, and that it means I will be able to value the quality time I have with both boys after school instead of trying to be with them and do housework at the same time.
  4. Colour Conference.  This year I have signed up to go to Hillsong Colour Conference with the ladies from my church.  It is down in London, which scares me a lot, but I am praying now for an immense time of spiritual growth over those few days and for relationships to be build up during that time.
  5. Mummy Meditations growth. mummy meditations banner After launching the shop last year and rebranding, I feel like now is the right time to make Mummy Meditations even bigger and better.  I have been collecting feedback and planning new things, so my prayer is that whatever God wants me to do to encourage mums in their journey with him will be successful, and anything that is just my selfishness and pride will fall away.  I am praying for more mums to join us in this journey in 2019 too – maybe we’ll even reach 1,000 members!!
  6. Northumberland.  Yes I  am that annoying person who has their holidays all planned in and booked already!  Family time is so important, and so this year we are going to go and explore Northumberland with is castles, coastline and Holy Island.

So thats my 2019 plans in a nutshell!  Most of all my prayer is that I stay close to God through whatever 2019 throws at me.

verse for 2019

I stumbled upon my verse for the coming year quite by accident, but felt like it was right for the new season I will be in.  Last year was about strengthening myself, getting through things, and recovering ready to bloom again.  This year, I feel God saying this to me:

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)

This verse to me was a wake up call – stop just messing around at the desires I’ve put in your heart and GET SERIOUS.  If you want to follow me, then you have to actually follow me with everything!  If you want those things then you have to actually pray about them.  If you want those dreams then you have to actually pursue them!  If I do these things, then I won’t be disappointed with what God does through me. Am I brave enough to do this?!! We shall see!

will you get serious with me in 2019?

Is getting back on track with God on your list of things to do in 2019?  Then why not join me and over 500 other mums in the Mummy Meditations Community as we look to study the bible, one verse at a time, during the chaos of motherhood.   Make it your New Year’s Habit!   You can find out more over in our Facebook Community.

 

praise points

2018 Praise Points

praise points

This time of year is fast becoming my favourite – the empty space between Christmas and New Year when you get to breathe (the chaos of Christmas is over!), reflect and regather your thoughts ready for the New Year.  So, in my first in a series of a few reflective posts I want to share with you all my praise points from 2018.

It is so great to look back and see what God has been doing over the last year, and this has been a biggie for me and my family.

  1. MOVING HOUSE!!!  Have I mentioned this at all?  Maybe not, but the big milestone event of new house2018 (which finally happened in May) was moving house.  That means that HS2 and all the stress that it caused is now behind us, we are settling in to our new home and community and have a fresh start as a family.  At the end of 2017 I asked for prayers of wisdom about where/when we should move, and as we stepped in 2018 I felt God saying it was time.  So we found a house that I fell in love with in January, and then commenced the 4 month saga with HS2.  But its over now, and we have so much space and quirkiness in our new home (even if it is a DIY to-do list!).mummy meditations mug
  2. Launch of the Mummy Meditations Shop.  September saw a brand new look for Mummy Meditations, and with it a huge step in faith as I launched the Mummy Meditations Shop with a selection of resources for those taking part.  It is a slow start, but hopefully one that will benefit all the amazing mums who take part in Mummy Meditations each week.
  3. Hubby starting a PHD.  This has been a dream of Rob’s for a while now, and this year the government launched loans for PhD students which has meant he can take a day a week off to start on this (possibly 8 year long) endeavour.  I know this is pretty scary for him, but its so great to see him step out and start it.
  4. 10th Wedding Anniversary. 10th anniversaryYes, we made it!  10 whole years without killing each other!! We had a night away in a lovely hotel in the Peak District to celebrate, as unfortunately our Rome trip had to be postponed again.  I can’t imagine my life without this man by my side – he is my champion, my comforter and my best friend.  Words cannot explain how thankful I am for having found him all those years ago.
  5. New school. sam new schoolA real stress for me over the last year was finding a new school for my eldest son and whether or not he would settle in it.  He loved his old school, as did I, and had a small class of close friends. I also had many mums I knew, so this was a big step into the unknown.  But it has really paid off, and his new school is lovely.   Sam is flourishing, on the pupil parliament, getting Star of the Week and making friends.  Has it happened instantly?  No!  But I am gradually making friends at the school gate, and love the atmosphere around the school with many extra things taking place for the kids and parents.   It is a still a church school, so I know that Sam is getting spiritual input too.
  6. Launch of Bible Journaling on my Bed.  Another thing I wanted to take forward into 2018 was my bible journaling passion.  This started with a new Instagram and Facebook account dedicated to my journaling, and has expanded into hosting my first two “Introduction to Bible Journaling” Workshops in my own home.   I felt so spiritually alive hosting these – the kind of feeling you get when you KNOW you are doing what God meant for you to do!
  7. Fitness, friends and fun.  This past year I have been leading a parents lifegroup at our church, and I am so thankful for the growing and deepening relationships I have with those women.  They have been my strength and joy this year.  I have also taken up Airfit and tried to take back my fitness with a couple of friends which isn’t going quite as well (my pelvic floor is not quite trampolining ready!) but is a good laugh.
  8. Family time. I am always thankful for the times we get to spend together as a family.  This year my boys have started playing together nicely, sharing a bedroom, and life as a parent is becoming a little bit easier.  We had an amazing few days in the Lake District camping (cut short due to moving house that week!), a trip up to Scotland and many more days out.  I may moan about them sometimes, but I really do thank God and praise him for my family. Ridler family
Things I didn’t get to do

Once again, our Rome trip was postponed for various reasons, but as I type this the flights and hotel are already booked for us to go in June 2019!!!!  We are combining it with a friend’s wedding in Italy – it was the push we needed to actually book the trip!  Quite chuffed that this was the only plan from my 2018 list that I didn’t get round to doing.

My verse of the year

Last year’s verse was Isaiah 35:1-4 (check out last years post for a reminder!), and I can truly say that many things in our lives have come into bloom this year, although still much more to look forward to (life never works out perfectly like you expect it to!), but I have clung onto the final part of the verse for dear life through the tough times.  There have been times when I have given up praying as it seemed nothing could change the situations we were in.  There have been times when I have been so angry with things that I could have punched someone.  But my God is faithful, and He has strengthened my feeble hands and calmed my fearful heart.  I come to the end of this year with new dreams and plans that God has put into my heart, letting go of the perfect vision I had of our life.  Life is messy but beautiful.  What a 2018!

christmas pledge

The Christmas Pledge for Mums

christmas pledge

Sitting in my parents bible study group this week, I heard all the stories of stressful Christmas decisions.  Who’s house to go to this year, which grandparents you would see on the day, who was going to do the cooking.  This, I know, is just the tip of the Christmas stress iceberg.  After hearing all that, I was moved to pray for us all – that we can make godly and wise decisions before Christmas that will ensure this can be a day where we celebrate and focus on Jesus and his birth.

So I want to ask you – what is stressing you out or making you dread Christmas this year?  Is it the millions of plays/parties/commitments you will have to go to in the weeks before?  Is it the cost of Christmas shopping and who to buy presents for?  Is it the logistics of the day and who’s house you will go to?

Have you thought of something?

Right.  Take it to God.  (And your husband too!)  And make a pledge to decide on how you’re going to handle those things now to take the stress away from them.

Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10), and he especially wants to do that at Christmas.  He wants to do the best he can to distract us from what this season is really about and to destroy any chance that Jesus is worshipped during this time.  He wants to kill our nice family time and steal the joyous moments with friends and colleagues.  So lets pledge to not let that happen – when we know that its Satan doing all that then we can disarm him.  How, I hear you ask!  Well here are a few ideas that you might want to add to your Christmas pledge this year:

  1. Pledge not to get annoyed that you are really busy in this season.  Instead, rejoice in the busyness!  Don’t complain about how many things you have to go to, but instead be present at each one and revel in the people there.  Whether its parents at the school nativity play or colleagues at the Christmas party – be with them and remember this is a great chance to build relationships and invest in others.
  2. Pledge to stop feeling guilty if you can’t do everything! We all know, as I said above, that this season is ridiculously busy.  If you are a working parent then you need to make your peace now with the fact that you can’t get along to everything.  So this November, sit down and look at your calendar and decide what is feasible and what isn’t.  By doing this then you can confidently say to others what you can do (and not feel pressurised into doing more than is realistic) and you can also prepare your children for any things that you can’t get to so they won’t be disappointed.  There are so many great things going on, that if your kids have to miss out on a trip to Santa’s Grotto or you have the sacrifice the sixteenth Christmas party for a team at church, its not the end of the world!  Prioritise what is important to you and let the other things go.
  3. Pledge to spend Christmas how you want to. Ok, so this a tricky one and we are always weighing up the feelings and needs of others, but take some time out with your husband to decide where you both want to spend Christmas and how you want to celebrate before the questions and pressure comes from others.  Just because you’ve always done something doesn’t mean you always have to do that.  Think about the implications for your own mental health and also whether you can truly celebrate Jesus’ birth where you are going.  Prayerfully consider the best option for your family.  If you give people enough notice and explain the reasons why you have made your decision then you have done your part.  How they react is not your responsibility.   Believe me – you’ll feel a lot better once you’ve made a decision and it’s sorted!
  4. Pledge to only spend as much as you can afford.  Another big cause of stress is the money Christmas costs.  So lets pledge to be good stewards of the money God has blessed us with,  set a budget now (if you haven’t already) and don’t be pressurised to sway from it.  Just because others are spending lots doesn’t mean you have to.  Don’t get drawn into extra present giving – if someone gives you a gift and you haven’t reciprocated thats ok!  Enjoy their generosity and be blessed by it.  You might be able to go above and beyond another year.

Pledge to make these decisions in advance, so that advent and Christmas can be a joyous, Christ centred season where we can fully take advantage of the gospel sharing opportunities and relationship building it brings.  Take control now and don’t let Satan get a foothold in your Christmas this year!  Happy *Early* Christmas everyone!

 

How Bible Journaling Helped Me

Life can be tough sometimes, can’t it?!  Sometimes bad things happen, sometimes we have to wait for what we desperately want, sometimes life is just tiring.  I’m not immune to that as a Christian.

What is it that gets you through those tough times?  Is it food?  Is it alcohol?  Is it friends?  The thing that has kept me going and kept me connected to God during the last two years of my life has been bible journaling.  I only discovered it a couple of months before we were told the news that our house was to be compulsory purchased by the government, but I am so so thankful that I did.  It has been a lifeline, a way to communicate what I’ve been feeling inside and a way to let it out and give it over to God.  When sometimes words and prayers won’t come, art and creativity have filled those gaps and I can now look back at the journey I took and be thankful that God was there with me in it.

I wanted to share with you some of the pages that I created along the way, a little window into my journey, and hope that they might inspire you to keep journaling through your darkest days: