Starting from scratch – mission in a new place

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

Starting from scratch with the neighbours.

Starting from scratch with the mums at the school gate.

Starting from scratch with different school routines.

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

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

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

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

app for loving your community

Can an app help you love your community?

app for loving your community

can an app help you love your community?

I live in Doncaster, and despite it being crowned the “most chilled and least stressful place to live in the UK”, most people’s reaction to this announcement is “oh that’s a shame!”. You see, Doncaster isn’t the nicest place in the world (although I’m sure it’s not the worst!). It is a typical slightly rundown town surrounded by ex-mining communities.

the problem i face in my community…

Sometimes I walk around my town and feel sad. There is litter, broken things that no-one has fixed, buildings that no-one cares about and general signs of poverty all around. It makes my heart sink and my soul feel heavy. I cry out to the God who created and loves this world – why has it become so unloved by those that live in it?

Practically I try to look after my little corner of the world – my house, my garden, my estate. But try as I might, I can never clean up everything. Even when I go out with the community action team at church and litter pick the streets for a couple of hours it isn’t going to change everything. And yet the impact of just simple litter can be HUGE. Health, crime, anti-social behaviour, loss of business are all things that stem from and can be worsened by the presence of litter in a neighbourhood. Once that pride in a community is lost, it is difficult for it to be rebuilt.

a new strategy…

So I decided a new strategy was called for. I could not be a one woman army who tackles the whole of Doncaster’s litter and other problems (there would be little time for looking after my kids if I did that!!).  But I could flag up every problem I saw that made me sad to live here so that someone else could deal with it.

Who might that someone else be? Well they came in the form of an app on my phone, that goes by the name of My Doncaster Council. (Yes the council).

Our local councils are there to help do tasks that no-one would normally do if it was left to us. They provide public goods and services. We pay them through our lovely council taxes to look after our local environments so that we don’t have to. But lately councils have had to cut back on a lot of things, and so they won’t be out patrolling and checking the local area as much. We can be their eyes and ears on the ground. The app I have means that I can report litter, fly tipping, graffiti and a whole host of other things right there and then. I can post photos and videos so that the council can see exactly what the issue is. I am doing their investigating for them.

will my community feel the love?

Why is this loving I hear you ask? Because I want my community to feel good when they step out the door. I want them to have pride in where they live, to be healthy and happy.  We joke that it’s a British pastime to moan.  Well I want to try to report everything that would be the cause of that  moaning (although I can’t change the weather so we’ll always have that to moan about!). I don’t want to just keep walking past the litter and the broken things and expect someone else to do something about it.  I am loving my neighbours by using this app to get them fixed and cleaned up.

Why don’t you see if your local council has an app too…..

prompt 28

What is #Prompt28 all about?

prompt 28

I am sucker for a digital campaign that aims to try to connect me with God or the community more (you will already know how much I love 40 acts each lent!).  So when I heard about Prompt 28 I was very intrigued.  I signed up straight away with only a few days before it started the first Sunday in June.

What is the concept?

The idea behind Prompt 28 is that for 28 days you will ask the Spirit a question.  Being aware of what we are asking the Spirit (and taking our prompts from the daily text/email from Share Jesus International) will hopefully make us more open to opportunities and aware of the Spirit moving in our daily lives.  Some of the prompts are “Who can I pray for today?” or “Who could I eat lunch with today?”.  Some are practical and some are more spiritual, but all are eye opening if you let the Spirit use them.

has it helped me?

Yes and no.  The prompts haven’t been especially imaginative so far, and I have found some of them hard to fit into my lifestyle (I work from home on my own so have no-one to invite to lunch!).  But some of them have been very powerful and pushed me to pray things I might never have.  I have spotted opportunities to reach out that I may have ignored.  I have offered prayer to those on my facebook feed, I have been inspired to write notes of encouragement to those in power above me, and I have jumped at the chance to feed a family in need.  I prayed that I would have the chance to say sorry in person to someone who I never see, and then the next day their car was outside my house and I was able to clear the air and apologise.  I spent one whole day praying peace over my estate and I made an extra effort to be cheerful to all those I interact with during my day.

What has the spirit answered with?

The tag line of the Prompt 28 campaign is “Ask the Spirit a question, see what happens next..” and I love this!  You know what, when you invite the Spirit into your everyday life it is always a little bit scary.  You never know where He is going to lead you or what he is going to prompt you to do.  But it is exciting too!  To know that you could be used to bring someone one step closer to knowing Jesus is exhilarating.  To know that your prayers could change someones world, or your gift of love be influential in someone’s life is so exciting.  I really want to live like this everyday, for it to be Prompt 365 if I’m honest.  Don’t we all need that little kick in the morning to remind us what potential the day has to make an impact for Christ?  No day is a write off.  No day doesn’t hold something unique.  And if Prompt 28 does nothing more than remind us of that, then it is amazing.

But I know that it has done much more than that.  This is only its first year, and Share Jesus International have started off well.  I hope and pray that even more people take part and it becomes more widely known, so that more of us can be prompted to include the Spirit in our everyday lives.

£2 a day challenge for zambian children

Mum on a Mission does the £2 a day challenge

£2 a day challenge for zambian children

I always try to keep my shopping bills as low as possible, whilst still feeding my family well.  I try to keep to a £70 a week budget – this is normally £40 in lidl on my big weekly shop, with a couple of emergency trips to ASDA in the middle of the week!

So when I read about the £2 challenge with Zamcog and Voucherbox, I was really interested to see if we could do it.  £2 per head per day would mean that my family of 4 would get £8 to spend (slightly less than my £70 a week budget which would give me £10 per day to spend).

Why am I doing this?

It costs £2 per day to feed and educate a child in Zambia.   Charity Zamcog are asking bloggers to change the way we think about food, to spend less and try to cut out waste for just one day.  In exchange for blogging about this, Voucherbox will donate £50 to Zamcog so they can carry on their work in supporting Zambia’s at risk children through food and education (win-win hey!).

Planning for the challenge

Doing this challenge obviously took a bit of preparation.  Here is my menu plan for the day:

Breakfast – total 64p:

  • 3 x weetabix (my husband doesn’t eat breakfast!) – 12p
  • milk  – 50p
  • 1 x tea bag –  2p

Morning Snack – total 54p

  • blueberries – 45p
  • digestive biscuits – 7p
  • 1 x tea bag – 2p

Lunch – total 80p

  • homemade sweetcorn fritters – 50p
  • 3 x yoghurts – 30p

Afternoon Snack – total 82p

  • 4 x individual malt loaf bars – 80p
  • 1 x tea bag – 2p

Dinner – total £4.45

  • 4 x chicken kievs (on offer at lidl) – £2.18
  • 2 x supernoodle packets – 38p
  • 1/2 bag of frozen vegetables – 49p
  • jam roly poly – 99p
  • 4 scoops of ice cream – 39p
  • 1 x tea bag – 2p

GRAND TOTAL = £7.25

 

Doing the challenge

weetabix for breafast

Picking a day was hard, as the boys are often in nursery where I have no control over their meals, and we are always out and about making it harder to cook certain things. But what I love about the menu I chose is that I haven’t opted for lots of things that are different to normal, and I haven’t skimped on having snacks or pudding.  I have just been able to choose well using the range available in lidl and known that their prices are reasonable.  Meat is often the most expensive thing, so by choosing items that were on offer that week (we are always searching for the yellow reduced stickers to put in the freezer!) we have managed to have a healthy and filling meal as a family for a good price.

two pound challenge photos including dinner and pudding

It has really got me thinking about how I can cut out expensive things that aren’t necessary (chocolate, cookies, takeaways…) and actually how achievable it is to eat on £2 a day.  Yes we can afford to have treats every now and then, but those in Zambia don’t have that option.  If I planned more thoroughly like I did for this one day, then maybe I could donate more money to those who have no option.

why not take up the challenge yourself?  For every blog post written about it, Voucherbox will donate £50 to ZAMCOG so go on!  It will cost you nothing but will support children in zambia.

 

 

 

 

candy cane bombing

Candy Cane Bombing!

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

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

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

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

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




Mum on a Mission VS the Train – Episode 5

So the update this week is that there is no update.  We are still sat in limbo, waiting for the Secretary of State for transport (Chris Grayling) to make his decision about the route for phase 2 of HS2.  The word on the street is that this will be announced on the 22nd November, but who knows!!  At least the last few weeks our group of campaigners have been able to get out and spread the word in the local community by flyering and doorknocking – it feels good to be doing something practical and helps me to avoid thinking about it all too much (plus have had some great times with my neighbours and friends out doing it!).  There are plans to organise a peaceful protest march through Mexborough where I live, so I am sure I will tell you all about that soon.

This week I was particularly reminded of the following verse:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  Philippians 4:8

Sometimes our thinking can spiral into downward negative thoughts, especially when we are surrounded by others going through the same awful time as ourselves.  But Paul reminds us in his letter to the Philippians that our thoughts should be on higher things – than we shouldn’t allow ourselves to wallow in pity and gossip and moaning, but that we should be praising and speaking truth and filling our minds with pure things instead.  How great is that!!

I know it is hard (believe me I have bad days when all I want to do is cry, moan and gossip all day long), but it really can change your whole perspective on things.  So this week I have been trying to think positively about the whole thing and praise God for the opportunities it has brought.

I have also been reminded yet again to fight in the right way – yes campaigning is great and we all have our own ideas of what will get results (petitions, protests, letter writing etc), but unless I start with prayer then it is pointless.  So this week I have made a point of praying for Chris Grayling – that God will give him wisdom in reviewing all the options for this route.  I have been praying for Ed Miliband our MP, that he will have the strength and information needed to fight for his constituents in front of Chris Grayling.  I have been praying for all the staff at HS2 who have to face the pressure of dealing with grieving and upset residents from along the route every single day – they are still people who have to go home to their families and I pray that as they try to pay the bills they wouldn’t be persecuted. Would you join me in praying?

Larger and Larger – Mummy Meditation Week 12


The world of the generous gets larger and larger.  The world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller” Proverbs 11:24-26 (MSG)

Sometimes in the craziness of life, the simpleness of God’s calling to us gets lost.  There are two passages where this is made black and white, and where we can find clarity that pushes through all the other great stuff in the bible:

-Love God, love others (Mark 12:30-31)

-Go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19)

Now when thinking and meditating on this week’s verse I had lots of thoughts and ideas of how I could put this in to practice. Should I set up more groups, should I do more in my local community, should I serve more at church?  Generosity is a big part of me, but sometimes everyday life gets in the way.

I really felt God say to me that I don’t need to do more STUFF to be generous, but I just need to carry that generous spirit into every encounter in my everyday life.  That through what I am ALREADY DOING I should be more generous and more loving and more caring.  Sometimes we try to add more to our to do lists, when we just need to clarify our motivations and amend HOW we are doing stuff.

I want to warn you though – by being generous and opening up your house, heart, time etc to others you will get more stretched.  How can your world get larger without it being stretched?  It is difficult to invite others to things, it is difficult to be the one putting themselves out there (believe me this week I have felt the brunt of that!) but the reward is a full life with many blessings in it.  If you want to keep everything to yourself and lock yourself away from others, that is fine too, but remember that your world will only get smaller.  People bring problems, but they also bring great joy and great blessings.  I for one would rather live a generous life and deal with the problems that brings than lock myself away.  How about you?

This post reminded me of one I had written previously – so many good things but only one GREAT thing.  Do check it out if you have the time. 

NEXT WEEK:
Hey isn’t it great to have made it through almost 3 months of mummy meditations!  When I started I didn’t know how it would go, but I know that reading the bible in this way and spending more time on each verse is really helping me go deeper into things.  So next week please join me as we carry on and look at the following verse back in Psalms:

“He says “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”” Psalm 46:10

All that you NEED – Mummy Meditation Week 11

So I kinda missed a week of mummy meditation.  My mind was so full of jobs and thoughts and reactions to train news that I didn’t allow any space for my weekly verse.  I didn’t allow space to think over it whilst I was working, whilst I was walking to nursery, whilst I was in the shower.  Instead, that space was filled with useless worrying and going back and forth.  Nothing has changed and my worrying thoughts haven’t changed the situation we are in, but one thing has changed.  I definitely feel further away from God the past two weeks.  Instead of running to my refuge (see last time’s mummy meditation) and really clinging to my bible verse and the truth held within it, I have been tossed about by emotional waves.  

So here is my attempt at some thoughts on the last verse I set:

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”  2 Corinthians 9:8

Now first off – I love this verse!  It is all about generosity from God and generosity from us too (something I feel very passionate about).  But I had to stop myself from just reading it and it just washing over me and not really sinking in.  It is so easy to read this first bit and to stop – God is able to bless you abundantly.  That is fantastic!  Yes God is able to do that, and a lot of people preach this as a way to get people interested in Christianity.  But we need to make sure that we carry on through this verse.

Why does God bless us abundantly?  It is NEVER about us.  It is NEVER about us sitting in our nice comfy houses eating chocolate cake.  God never wanted us to be gluttons who love him, but to be able to take what he gives us and pass it on.  Maybe God blesses us with a whole chocolate cake – why?  It is NEVER so we can sit and eat the whole thing, but maybe we have one slice and then take it down the street and share with all our neighbours?  Maybe we take it into work and share it with our colleagues?  God only blesses us so that we can pass it on.  And yes he wants us to have what we need, but we should NEVER become a reservoir, storing up the blessings just for ourselves.  We should be a river, letting the blessings flow into us but also out from us, and they then increase for others further downstream. 

I am sure we all have stories of God’s providence in times of need.  I have another this week.  To add to my ever increasing list of things going wrong (see my last post!) our washing machine decided to break this week.  But it didn’t fill me with dread or get me upset because I knew that God had already provided the money we need for a new one.  Earlier that week I had gone to the bank and there was extra money in our account!  I thought it was odd, turns out it was tax credit rebate, but was pleasantly surprised and thinking of all the things I could do with it.  Turns out God already knew what it was there for!!

So God isn’t going to leave us in trouble – he can provide everything we need – but we really need to strive hard not to become gluttons of God’s blessings, but to make sure we use them to equip us for good works.

What did you think about this weeks verse?

NEXT WEEK Here is next weeks, and I am going to try to get myself back on track!!!

The world of the generous gets larger and larger, the world of stingy gets smaller and smaller” Proverbs 11:24

Nations You Know Not – Mummy Meditation Week 10

 

This week’s meditation follows on quite nicely for me from last week’s (do catch it here if you missed it).  Last week I spoke about God being my place of refuge throughout me dealing with some difficult news – this week I wanted to look at positively changing my response to this and chose this verse to meditate on:

Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations you do not know will come running to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with spendour” Isaiah 55:5

Now this verse is written specifically to the Israelites, who we called to be God’s chosen people.  They were supposed to be a lamp shining out to others so they could see how amazing their God was (this wasn’t always the case!). But sometimes God had to intervene to make sure that this plan worked.  

I like to think I am naturally community minded and friendly, but I know sometimes I do opt for the easy route out.  The last year or so I have been sitting on my laurels, using excuses of being pregnant and with baby to not reach out to my community.  So God had to intervene and do it for me.  BAM – HS2 going right through your estate!!  It may seem crazy, but this bad news really has brought opportunities running to me from neighbours I hadn’t even spoken to before that day.  I am not suggesting that God made this awful thing happen, but that he used the opportunity of it happening to push me into doing what I should have been in the first place!

This verse has also giving me comfort and encouragement this week as I have stepped out to meet up with new neighbours.  I have found myself no longer needing refuge from it all but actively seeking out “nations I know not” in order to make something good come out of this awful situation and share the peace that I have in it all because of my relationship with Jesus.

I know this is not a very profound meditation tonight – my brain has been fried most of this week – but it has been helpful for me nonetheless.  

NEXT WEEK
Going in a different direction next week and chosen this verse, so please do join me in meditating on it:

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8
  

Refuge – Mummy meditation week 9



So this week I chose a verse that had jumped out at me from a facebook group, one that spoke into a (relatively) dark day that I was having and brought light.  It is one of those “feel good” verses that people often quote when something horrible is happening and they don’t know what to say.  I know – I have been that person.  But this week I wanted to delve into it a bit more, a bit deeper.  I wanted to truly understand it.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” Psalm 46:1 

Firstly, what is a refuge?  I am not sure any of us have needed a refuge properly.  Perhaps we have heard of local women’s refuges where women running for domestic violence can go, or maybe you think of all the refugee stories hitting the headlines at the moment.  The definition is quite general – “a shelter or protection, from the weather or danger”.  I guess we can all think of times when there has been a heavy rain storm and we have found “refuge” under a bridge, doorway, in a shop etc.  But have we ever needed to REALLY find refuge from danger? 

When it is raining, the refuge keeps all of the rain off you.  Although it might be going crazy outside, in your little refuge it is calm.  You can watch the storm and wait until it is over or we have rested enough to cope to come out again.  What God offers us is a spiritual refuge.  The battles in our lives are sometimes just too much, so God gently calls us to come and take refuge with him.  With him we can still see what is going on and watch, but we get rest and refresh ready to go back out in it all again or we can wait until things have calmed down a little. 

Note: I wrote that first section before receiving the awful news on Thursday morning that our house is in line to be bull dozed to make way for a revised route of the HS2 railway. (Please read “Mum on a mission is devastated” to find out more)

WOW!  God really knows what we need before we need it.  I could sort of sense a storm coming, and was slightly concerned when this verse came to mind, and I guess I was right!  But having spent the time meditating on this earlier in the week, I knew that whenever I felt overwhelmed by this news I could run to God for refuge.  There have been times when the weight of my community’s need to vent/express/find answers has been so overwhelming it has felt like a whirlwind around me.  But luckily I can stand in the calm in the middle with my God.  There have been times when the uncertainty of our future has scared me, but I have tried my best to run to the certainty of my home in heaven instead.

Undoubtedly I will have ups and down’s in this journey, but I can hold on to the FACT that God is “ever-present” in my troubles.  He is not going to leave me to deal with this on my own and his arms are always open if I need to run into them.

I really hope you haven’t had as rough a week as me so please put your musings, meditations and thoughts below.  In the meantime here is a bit of bible journaling I did in response to this news:



NEXT WEEK: I have chosen a verse which I am hoping will encourage and inspire me as I go into this challenging time in my community.

Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations you do not know will come running to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with spendour” Isaiah 55:5