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



July Monthly Inspiration

Welcome to my inspiration post for you this July.  This is just a snippet of posts and links that I have enjoyed online this last month and wanted to share with you.  I hope you enjoy them too!

  • Motherhood as a mission field – Love this article about motherhood being a mission field.  My favourite quotes from it include: “Look at your children in faith, and see how many will be ministered by you ministering to them” and “A true love of the gospel overflows and overpowers.  It will be in everything you do, however drab, however simple, however repetitive”.  Definitely worth a read!
  • Loving the Little Years – This is a book written by the same person as the article above.  I haven’t read it yet but it looks super helpful for where I am right now.
  • Saying Goodbye – I had the privilege of being asked by Liberti Magazine to write an article on a charity called Saying Goodbye.  It helps people who have experienced grief in miscarriage, still birth or early childhood.  I was so moved by speaking to Zoe, the founder, about her experiences that lead to her setting it up.
  • Loving children with holes in their buckets – I have shared previously about my heart for adoption and came across this article explaining some of the challenges with it really simply.
  • Jamberry Nails – so this isn’t a spiritual one!  But after my post this week on money, I can’t stop thinking about which designs to buy next ……    

 

A cuppa with…. Rachel Edwards

 
Its Friday and my kettle has just boiled – it means just one thing.  CUPPA WITH TIME!!!  This week I had a chat with the lovely Rachel Edwards (but if you missed last week then catch it here)
 
It’s really nice to meet you – please introduce yourself to us all!
My name is Rachel Edwards, I am a thirty something mom of two, soon to be three God willing, as we are currently in the early stage of the adoption process! I am married to my best friend, Dave and we are part of the pastoral leadership team and worship team at our local church Renewal Christian Centre. I run my own content writing business Rachel Edwards Writes, and as well as being an avid reader/writer, I love nothing more than playing my beautiful upcycled piano whenever I get chance!
 
Where do you live and what do you like/loathe about it?  
We live in the heart of England, in Birmingham and we moved here from Warwick 4 years ago specifically to be closer to the church. Growing up in the countryside, I love green fields and open space which is of course a rarity in our part of the world, although we have access to some pretty spectacular countryside and parks within a short drive. The benefits of city life is that I love being able to travel by train or bus and having everything that we need as a family in close proximity, however I do frequently find myself craving a woodland walk or green view every now and then!
 
How many kids do you have? 
We have two beautiful boys aged 6 and 3, who are the centre of our world. They are both polar opposites, one is adventurous and creative one is sensitive and snuggly. They are such an incredible blessing to us, although having two accident prone and boisterous boys has meant that my trips to A&E have been far more frequent than I had anticipated at such a young age! 
 
What is the best thing about motherhood for you?
Nothing brings me greater joy than seeing my children’s smiling faces excitedly greet me with a kiss each morning. To have been entrusted with these little lives is a privilege I don’t take lightly and I am their biggest cheerleader. Watching them grow, develop and discover new things  is just the most phenomenal reward for all the sleepless nights and toddler tantrums.
 
And what is the worst thing?! 
For me the worst thing is seeing your children reflect the worst in you. So often I find myself in a face off with my 6.5 year old whose wilful nature and stubborn streak remind me more of myself at times than I would care to admit. My eldest is a born leader with big ideas and a big personality, and one of my toughest challenges as a mother is going to be trying to tame his spirit whilst still giving him rein to be all he can be, while his brother is a gentler character who will need a little more guiding and guarding of his vulnerable heart. The biggest struggle I have in motherhood is not treating my children’s mistakes as my own, and not taking their tantrums as a mark of my personal failure as a mom. Yes I have a responsibility to model the right way to do or say something, however if they choose not to replicate this then this is not necessarily a reflection on my ability to be a mother, but it is highlighting a child that very much still needs mothering. 
 
How do you try to help your children connect with God and the bible?
We try and read the Bible to the children every day, and bring God and Jesus in to our every day life with a constant prayer conversation. We have a little song that we sing when we are driving to or walking to school where we ‘get dressed’ in the armour of God, complete with actions too! “We’ve got our feet in peace, we’ve got the belt of truth, we’ve got the breast plate of righteousness, we’ve got the shield of faith, we’ve got the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit!” We pray every night before bed and encourage the boys to pray through out the day for a friend or family member if they come to mind and even for passing ambulances! Our eldest attend a wonderful Church of England school and we are blessed with a truly incredible children’s ministry at Renewal, and the bible studies and workbooks that the children bring home from both settings give us plenty more opportunity to talk about God and Jesus.
 
What is your “mission-field” at the moment?
As part of the pastoral care team I am blessed to meet a wide range of people both in and outside the church. I don’t know that I have a specific mission field, as I believe that anyone who doesn’t know Jesus, whether that is at the school gates or sunday service is someone that I have the potential to encourage and share the gospel with.  My hearts desire is that everyone should feel included, wanted, welcomed and valued in the Kingdom of God. I have a heart to help women and young people realise their worth and reach their potential in Christ and also the inclusion and encouragement of the older generation whom I love for their wisdom, teaching and direction. As a christian on a personal and leadership level I want to see the church fully represented by all demographics and empowered, equipped and mobilised to lead the next generation.
 
What causes or activities are you particularly passionate about and why?
Compassion UK is a cause close to my heart, and my husband and I are proud sponsors of two gorgeous Ugandan boys who are the same age as our children. I think that the concept of being able to be a sponsor, or an advocate to another human being who is in desperate need is one of the most humbling and most heart breakingly beautiful things anyone can ever do. Child sponsorship is the greatest gift that these children will ever receive, and expressing love by reaching out to another is the very essence of what Christ did for us; showing compassion, care and unconditional love to someone who can never repay you for what you are doing. 
 
Where do you blog and what do you blog about?
I write a faith and parenting blog called www.racheldedwards.com ‘the musings of a momma in ministry’ which covers a wide range of topics and themes that I have navigated in my journey with Jesus. I believe in writing real, raw blogs that reveal probably more of myself than I should be willing to share, however my favourite writers are those that write from the heart, therefore I hope to follow in their very fabulous footsteps.
 
 
Wow – thanks so much for sharing with us Rachel and praying for all these amazing things you are involved in.

A cuppa with …. Joy French


I am really excited about today’s interview because she has been an unintentional positive influence on the way I view motherhood and mission.  Please do read on and I will explain why at the end!!!  (P.s. if you missed last weeks cuppa with michelle pannell catch it here)

It’s really nice to meet you – please introduce yourself to us all!  
Hi there, I’m Joy. I turned 40 last year, but in my head I still think I’m 22. I’m a trainee pioneer vicar, which means that I’m learning how to lead churches that think outside of the box. I’m the only girl in a house full of boys. As a result, I only allow female pets and Godchildren! (2 hamsters, a puppy and 5 God-daughters so far…)

Where do you live and what do you like/loathe about it?  
We live in Sheffield and we’ve been here for 21 years now, since I came as a student in 1995. People often think that Sheffield is an industrial city, but the thing that I fell in love with is how green it is, and how many parks there are. We also have the Peak District on our doorstep, which is a massive bonus.

How many kids do you have? 
I am Mum to Isaac, who is 16, Caleb, who is 14 and Moses who is 7. I love them all to bits, and they have each taught me so much. People often talk about the teenage years being a challenge, which they can be, but I love teenagers. I love watching them grow into who they are going to become, and I love laughing with them and being able to be more real about the complexities of life than you can be when they are small. Having Moses alongside the teenagers is lots of fun – he absolutely loves his brothers and their friends. He is a real character and is always making us laugh. As a three year old, we were in a queue for a slide at the swimming pool when he out of nowhere kissed the butt-cheek of a rather large lady ahead of him in the queue. Just last week he announced whilst in the shower that he wanted to learn the bagpipes…There is never a dull moment with that boy!

What is the best thing about motherhood for you?
The absolute best thing about being a mum for me is watching my children grow into totally different characters, and seeing their unique gifts, abilities and ways of seeing the world develop. I enjoy getting to know each one of them as an individual and helping them to pursue their passions. I love it when I get the chance to spend quality time with them doing things that we both enjoy. We are all big Coldplay fans in our house, and I took Isaac and Caleb to their gig recently. I knew they would want to stand near the front rather than have seats so we went for it, and stood for 6 hours! It was an amazing night that we all really valued. We’ll really treasure those memories.

And what is the worst thing?! 
I think the worst thing about motherhood for me is those times when life is stressful and relationships are strained. One of my children was very seriously ill a couple of years ago, and it was an incredibly stressful time. It was during this period that I realized how much I struggle with conflict – I love to be surrounded with harmonious relationships, and my family are quite into banter and happy to have loud debate and conflict. I’m wired differently, and I find it a real challenge. Also, realizing that I’ve passed on some of my bad habits – like my terrible skills with time – to my children is a real bummer! 

How do you try to help your children connect with God and the bible?
Over the years we’ve done this in various ways. When my big boys were small, we ran a cell-group for a while with some of their school friends, many of whom weren’t from church families. We’ve also been involved in church ministry for a number of years, so our boys were involved in helping us to lead – either doing the PA, or being involved in some of the grunt-work of putting out chairs or tidying up. We’ve always tried to be real with them about our faith journey, and not to hide those times when we’ve had questions. We encourage them to be honest and to ask questions too. More recently, we were running a youth group for a couple of years for our kids and their friends. In many ways, it’s not ideal to be running your own kids youth group, but it seemed to work for us. In the group we ran Youth Alpha, and taught the kids to pray for one another. It has been a huge privilege to be allowed to share in this way with our kids and their friends.

What is your “mission-field” at the moment? 
Over the last year, our family has been in a period of transition as we moved from the church where we had both served on staff and are now part of a new church as part of my vicar training. This means that we’ve needed to disengage from mission that we were very passionate about in our previous church, and this has been a real challenge. In my new church, I’m about to initiate a project that uses donated food from supermarkets to make a community meal once a week. The project hasn’t started yet, but I’m excited to see who we gather and how relationships develop in the community. 

I also like to use social media in a missional way. I was recently at a party where a lady I hardly know said “I don’t know you, and I don’t believe in God, but I like everything you write on Facebook and I want to talk about why you believe what you believe.” That was a great way in to a conversation about faith! I think it’s good to use social media intentionally – not to curate this idea of a perfect life, but to thoughtfully share from the heart things that we are passionate about. 

What causes or activities are you particularly passionate about and why?
I have been massively impacted by the refugee crisis. So much so that I kind of accidentally set up a project in response to the pictures we were seeing in the news of destitute children. I began Project Paddington (www.projectpaddington.com) last September as a way of enabling children to respond with kindness to the refugee crisis. The initial idea was for children to send one of their teddies with a personal note to a refugee child. When I started it, I thought we might send a couple of boxes of teddies to Calais. In the end, we sent over 20,000 teddies to Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon and raised over £60,000. I have handed over the reins of the project now so that I can continue my training, but Project Paddington has continued to raise money for refugee children and their families, and they are running an art and writing competition for refugee week on the theme of “From Scared to Safe” (More details on the website). Running Project Paddington was a huge challenge, but it taught me so much. One of the things I learned is that however unqualified and out of our depth we may feel, it is possible to have an impact, albeit small. As Mother Theresa is reported to have said, we may feel that what we are doing is a tiny drop in the ocean, but the ocean would be smaller without that drop! 

Thanks so much for having a cuppa with me!
Joy is also the co-author of one of my favourite books – “Ordinary Mum, Extraordinary Mission” which I reviewed here on my blog a couple of years ago – read the review and please do buy the book!

But what does it matter? Mummy Meditation Week Six

I read somewhere that out of all the letters Paul writes, Philippians is the happiest.

And in a week of bitter arguments about the EU, the sad loss of Jo Cox and the devastating news of a toddler being taken and killed by an alligator, surely we need a bit of happiness??????

But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached.  And because of this I rejoice.” Philippians 1:18

Politics is a bit of an evil beast at times, examining and cross examining what people say and their motives.  Sometimes we can bring that worldly viewpoint and way of thinking into our churches.  We scrutinise every little thing others do and gossip and put people down.  I think here in this verse Paul says a huge resounding “NO!!!”.

You know what – even if other Christians have different styles to us or approaches to things, surely that is good?  We are all different and respond to different things.  Lets REJOICE that Christ is being preached and the good news proclaimed even if it isn’t done perfectly or for the best reasons.  None of us are perfect you know!  Lets REJOICE and build each other up instead of entering into this political mindset.

Yes it is amazing and awe inspiring to hear Christ preached with sincerity and love.  But even when it is preached out of selfish ambition, God can still use it to bring people to know him, which is great news for us (I am sure we can all be a bit selfish at times…..)

I for one will be happy once this EU referendum week is over and the cards have been cast.  And whatever our country is like afterwards it doesn’t change my mission to show and preach Christs love to others.  I will REJOICE to still be able to do that, whether we are in or out.


NEXT WEEK – During my week under canvas I thought it apt to investigate and meditate on the following verse, so do join me…

Enlarge the place of your tent,
stretch your tent curtains wide,
do not hold back;
lengthen your cords,
strengthen your stakes.”  Isaiah 54:2

Mum on a Mission – Inspiration for June!



Here is a run down of what have I been reading and watching online this month:

Finally I will leave you with the awesome poem that another mum shared with me this week – it made me chuckle!!