What different ways are they to get involved in your child’s school? Listen on…..
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
Have 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.
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.
Idols of a mother’s Heart
Have 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.
Raising Kids in a You Can Do It World
I 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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- . 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.
- . 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.
- . 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.
- . 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!
- . 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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Reuben starting school nursery. 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.
- 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.
- Mummy Meditations growth. 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!!
- 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.
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.
- MOVING HOUSE!!! Have I mentioned this at all? Maybe not, but the big milestone event of 2018 (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!).
- 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.
- 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.
- 10th Wedding Anniversary. Yes, 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.
- New school. A 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
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!
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!
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:
It will be no surprise to most people reading this that I am in middle of moving to a new house. It has been in the pipeline for two years now, ever since we got told that a train was coming through our estate. And as we approach the (hopefully!) last few weeks living here, my heart and mind have become set upon our new house. I have been so excited to start dreaming about the different rooms, what they might look like with our furniture in and how we might decorate them.
One room in particular has been on my heart to get ready as soon as we are there, and that is my boys new bedroom. You see, as much as moving to a new house is stressful for us and emotional, I don’t want the boys to experience that. Sam was under 1 year old when we moved to our current house so he doesn’t really remember it, but now he is 5 and starting to grasp what is going on. He knows he will get a new room and that he will have to change schools at some point. And as a mother I wanted to help him focus on the positive and exciting parts of moving to a new house. So I started collecting little treats and things for their new room.
This week one of the biggest things I have ordered for their new room has arrived – the bunk beds!! Yes in my insanity the decision has been made for the two boys to share a room and so we also decided to invest in some pretty epic bunk beds (they have steps up the side with drawers in them). But I have also stashed away name signs and new bedding, ideas for how we might decorate it and wallpaper samples. I am preparing a room for my boys that they will hopefully love and feel at home in.
Then on Sunday we were singing a song with the following lyric “In my Father’s house, there’s a place for me” from the Hillsong chorus “I am who you say I am”. My mind raced to the verse in John 14:2 “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?”. A lovely image of God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit came to my mind in that moment. An image of them preparing me a room in heaven just how I would like it. An image of them researching and doing everything they can to make it the best room for me, so that when I arrive there it is exciting and comforting and homely, and not a scary transition at all.
It will be a big change when we go from living here on Earth to wherever the Father’s House is, so I know that God will do everything possible to make it a joyful transition, just as I am trying to do for my sons as we move to a new house.
I like to be honest here on my blog. And honestly – I’ve not been doing very well lately.
I thought that once we were in the process of moving house it would be more positive and I would cope with our situation better, but I’m not. I’m constantly emotional, doubting everything that God has ever said to me and thoroughly annoying everyone around me in the process.
Maybe you’ve noticed my lack of posts, maybe you haven’t, but I’ve been struggling for inspiration and desperately trying to cling on to the God I know and love. Some people talk about a battle that takes place within, between good and bad or right and wrong. Maybe it is that angel on one shoulder and demon on the other. Maybe it is something else. But the last few weeks I have been, and continue to, fight a battle within myself. Not necessarily on of good versus evil, but one of trust versus mistrust. And once that seed of doubt is planted it takes a lot of digging to get it out.
So here I am being honest. Please forgive me for not inspiring you all at the moment and not writing about my mission. The thing is that I everyday I am just struggling to not cry, and even though I know I probably am loving others, I am certainly not choosing to go out of my way to do this or to do be a good example. I am existing.
But that’s not where I want to be. This week my husband spoke some words that I needed to hear – am I actually enjoying living in this sad place? The answer was probably yes – it had become home and the stress and misery was what I knew best then. But now I know I don’t want to live in that place anymore – I want to be a mum on a mission out there in the world with a desire to share the good news of Jesus. I want to have energy and zeal and shine the love of Jesus everywhere I go. So I am asking for help and starting to rewind to where everything went wrong.
A couple of months back when we started the whole moving house process, I felt God remind me of the pillar of cloud and fire that went ahead of the Israelites when they were travelling in the desert. Whenever the pillar moved (God’s presence with them), they moved. Whenever it stopped they stopped. They fully trusted God to lead them out of the desert place that they were in. Right now I am in a desert place and I know that God is the only one with a map of the way out. I need him more than ever now. At the time I thought the verse was just about where we should physically live, and that the cloud of his presence has moved from our current house to our new house, but actually the spiritual significance to me right now is even more.
So there you have it. A little confession and a little bit of my low point for you. If you are there in the desert too, then remember its only God who knows the way out – follow his presence and you will get out at some point. But its a journey and I know that I can’t expect to be right as rain tomorrow, or even the day after we move house. But as long as I am following that pillar of God’s presence I know I am heading in the right direction.