Implants, menstrual cups and reclaiming my womanhood

DISCLAIMER – this is a bit of an over-sharing kind of post, so only read on if you’re ok with that!!

For many years I have been a user of hormonal contraception, with just a few brief windows when we were “trying to get pregnant”. I knew how to be responsible, and so once I knew I was getting married I started on the pill in preparation, before moving on to the hormonal implant which I have been on ever since. At first I thought the implant was a miracle – my periods stopped completely the first time I had it (and who wouldn’t want that!). You don’t have to remember to take anything each day, and it is not affected by illness or other drugs. I could happily enjoy married life safe in the knowledge I wouldn’t get pregnant. After my first son was born I knew straight away I wanted it back in, and the same after my second son. I was safe and sensible, and for almost 10 years it has seen me through. But today I finally said goodbye to my implant for good. Our child-bearing time is over, and more permanent measures have been taken to ensure this (I’m sure you catch my drift!!). And whilst I am glad and thankful of the security the implant has given me during that time, I am so over the moon to no longer have artificial hormones swimming around my body.

You see, our bodies are a temple, and whilst I don’t always look after it that well (I am a fan of the takeaway curry and have a sweet tooth), I am well aware that some of these great ideas of the 21st century affect our bodies in ways we can’t even explain or understand. As a woman, I am supposed to have monthly periods. I am supposed to ovulate. I am supposed to get pregnant. Having extra hormones to stop those things, although seemingly convenient, must play haywire with our natural rhythms and cycles and who knows what else. I am well aware that hormone changes can affect your mood, your weight, your desire for sex and even cravings for different foods. So bring on my hormone free body and all things natural!! It feels wonderfully freeing to know that I am not being affected in these ways anymore, and I look forward to seeing what that is like.

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;  you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Recently I have also started using a menstrual cup (I thought I’d throw that out there given the deep sharingness of this post!), and I have to say it is a GAME CHANGER!! For so many years (apart from the few where my period stopped altogether and the blissful period free time of pregnancy) I have begrudged having to use sanitary pads. Running back and forth to the bathroom, hiding pads up your sleeve to smuggle them in, the inevitable leaks (sometimes onto cream carpets – not a great moment of my life) and having to get a note to get out of swimming at school. It is not a fun part of womanhood if we’re honest. But having a menstrual cup means that there is no smell, there is no ticking time bomb if you forget to go to the toilet every few hours. You can happily get on with life for up to 12 hours without emptying it. If you’ve had kids then you’ll already be accustomed with hands and other objects being up in your stuff, so really there’s not much difference there. There is a bit of an ick factor when you empty it and come face to face with what your menstrual blood actually looks like, but one month in and it will feel totally normal.

So, why am I sharing all this with you?  Well I guess in a way I feel like I am reclaiming my womanhood a little.  I am stopping letting the world take over and dictate how my life must be – controlled by hormones and a slave to my period.  No.  I am a woman and I can make my own choices thank you.  You don’t need to follow me or copy me in this (we’re all at different stages in our reproductive lives and have to make decisions accordingly), but maybe just take stock of how your contraception can affect you and think about whether that is the best thing for you and your family, as it might be having a bigger impact than you realise.  x

relaxing bath

Give Yourself Some Sanctuary

A few years ago (OK, maybe it was 7 or 8) my husband and I went to a taster day at a bible college.  We were looking for a place for him to study theology and I wanted to check it out with him too.  We had a “sample” lecture, and the lecturer (whose name I cannot remember) said that in life you need to remember to keep refilling your tanks.  Whether that be social, emotional, spiritual, mental, physical.  Whenever one of those tanks runs out, thats when you’ll be in danger.

For a parent, we often find that physically we are run down from sleepless nights or just the energy it takes to run after the kids or get them to and from all their activities.  We are mentally drained from thinking about everything the family needs to do and everywhere they need to be.  We are emotionally drained from trying to deal with tantrums, figure out what the baby wants or be super enthusiastic about something they are in to at that moment.  We might find we are spiritually drained too from not finding enough time to spend in the bible or just sat with God.  Everything about parenthood leaves us drained and our tanks running on empty.

relaxing bath So when Sanctuary Bathrooms approached me to have a bit of quality relaxing time, indulging myself, I was in!!! They wanted to know what would make the perfect night in – well I’m not sure if it was perfect (our bath tub in our new house is super shallow so parts of me get cold – it definitely needs replacing with one of Sanctuary’s lovely baths!) but it was definitely what I needed.  I was able to chill out in the bath with space for my cuppa and my book on my new bath shelf, and also treat my body with a face mask and body scrub.  Thanks!!!

A perfect night-in for me is one that refills some of those tanks – that provides physical rest for my body, but also mental and emotional rest from the strains of the day.  That means switching off from thinking about my to do lists and not having to answer to anyone else for a few hours or deal with their emotions.  A good soak in the bath with a book is the perfect way to do that.  moisturising face mask

Apparently a relaxing bath helps to stave off colds and improves your mood, so I need to schedule in some more!!  I think the bathroom is definitely one of the places that we fill our tanks and have me-time, so thats why it was one of the first rooms to be renovated in our new house.  We are even looking at putting en-suites on some of our rooms, so perhaps we’ll find space to squeeze in another bathtub….

Have you given yourself some sanctuary lately?  Why not go and treat yourself right now!

 

NOTE: I received a blogger box of treats and bath shelf from Sanctuary Bathrooms in exchange for taking part in this campaign.  

Starting something new is scary

mummy meditations mugThe last few months have seen me start many new things.  I have started my Mummy Meditations Shop, selling goods to help those studying in the Mummy Meditations Community.  I have started a new series in Mummy Meditations on the Proverbs 31 wife.  And scariest of all, I have started running my own “Introduction to Bible Journaling” Workshops under a new banner of “Bible Journaling on My Bed”.

All of these things have three things in common:

  1. They are amazing!  I love doing them and my heart is filled with joy at new possibilities
  2. They are all things God has been prodding me to do for a while now
  3. They all TERRIFY the life out of me!!

I was sat in my lounge last Saturday with 2 minutes until my first ever bible journaling workshop started, no one else had arrived yet, and I was so terrified.  But I also had this amazing sense of peace, that God had lead me to this place and would carry me through.  That translated into an amazing morning of teaching 5 lovely ladies, and sharing my passion with them, and I was able to praise God for the whole weekend afterwards.

I was once again reminded of that feeling of my spirit soaring with God’s when you step out in faith.  And I wonder why I don’t do that everyday!!

This verse sprung to mind when I was trying to describe that feeling:

But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” Isaiah 40:31

It is only when our hope is in God and we are relying on his strength to bring us through something that we experience that feeling of flying and soaring.  There is something so special and unique about feeling utterly ill-equipped and yet God coming through for you. Have you had that?

What are you doing that is both scary and amazing at the same time?

 

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.

birthday wishlist

31st Birthday Wishlist

birthday wishlist

When you’re a mum, your birthday is a time when you can ask for things for yourself (not the kids), perhaps enjoy a meal out, or maybe even get breakfast in bed!  Unfortunately for me, my birthday lands on a Sunday this year, which means instead of enjoying a nice relaxing day I will instead be preaching in our kids Sunday School and rushing around like a mad lady!

Instead of thinking about the craziness of my birthday morning, I thought I would put together a nice wishlist of things that I would love to get as gifts (not that I’m expecting any!) or might spend birthday money on if I get any.

  1. Letter Board.  I bought one of these for a friend’s baby shower and loved being able to create messages with it.  If I get one then I will use it as a welcome board in our new house, leaving fun messages for those who come to visit!
  2. Holy Hope Bible Journaling Kit. I don’t really have any Christian stamps to use in my bible, so this would be really fun to have a go with. I have been part of the team helping getting this to launch but not had the spare cash to order myself one, so would be lovely to get one for my birthday!
  3. Acrylic paints and a watercolour pen brush.  As I spend more time doing bible journaling, I realise how awful my art supplies actually are!! I bought myself some watercolours last year but really need some acrylic paint to be able to paint more intricate designs. I also would love to try out a watercolour brush pen and try to do some brush lettering!
  4. Christian music -Need some recommendations here really, but I need some updates to my Christian music collection as its about all I listen to in the car!
  5. Die cutting machine and binding machine I am desperate to get started on some new ideas for bible journaling and products linked to my blog, so getting both of these would be a huge help.  Plus lots of fun to play around with!
  6. Tapas.  I normally celebrate my birthday with a meal out with my lovely hubby. We both enjoy good food, and it is a treat to get an evening out together. This year I am also having a party with some of my girly friends, but really hope we get a chance to eat out too.  Tapas is one of our new favourite cuisines so it would be lovely to go to a local tapas restaurant.

 

preparing a place

Preparing a Place

preparing a place

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.

Life: Revisited

life revisited

On my to do list for the past three (almost four!) months has been to put together our family yearbook for 2017.  It is a tradition we started after our second child came along, as it was no longer easy to categorise time based on how old Sam is!  A yearbook seemed like a great chance to get printed the millions of photos we had taken during each year and to have something to remember all our family adventures.

I think I love the process of it just as much as the finished result.  Take 2017 for example.  In my head, the only thing that happened in that year was dealing with HS2.  We submitted our blight notice, entered into negotiations about the value of our house and generally got thoroughly depressed about it all.  But when I looked back through the hundreds of photos we had taken, none of them showed that.  There were fun family times, celebrations, holidays in the rain and so much more.

I was also reminded of an old blog post this week – one I had written almost two years ago called “Hey! Get your own relationship with God.“.  It wasn’t until I re-read those words that I realised I had forgotten the message.  I was speaking those words to myself all over again, and reminding myself to stop comparing my relationship with God to others, but to embrace what is it during this current season.  I am now past the sleepless nights and craziness of newborn babies, but my current season has been just as challenging.  I have been lucky enough to get more time on my own with God, and I have needed to push into Him just to survive.

I am a little sad to not have midnight prayer sessions anymore (although I do very much enjoy unbroken sleep!), but revisiting this post has reminded me most of all to just grab what you have with God at the moment and cherish that.  It’s the same with life – revisiting it by making my yearbook has reminded me to grab hold of the amazing moments I can have with my family now, even throughout the stress of moving house, as I will forget the stress but the memories of times with my boys will last forever.

Other People’s Success is NOT Your Failure

Have you ever found yourself in one of the seasons of life where everyone around you is doing new and exciting things?  They are getting new jobs, new opportunities, success in areas of their life  and you are not.  (or at least you don’t see it!)

These last few weeks I have trawled Instagram and seen happy announcement posts – new ventures, someone picked to be a rep for an amazing company, positivity and excitement all over it.  And I felt bitter and angry that it was not that way for me and my family at the moment.  I begrudged them their right to be joyful and shout it out, and instead of congratulating them, I ignored it and seethed.  Which did not make one ounce of difference to them (as they are Instagram friends who don’t normally see me in person!) but had a huge impact on my own heart.

Then a few days ago God whispered into my ear “other people’s success is not your failure”.  I stopped and thought for a second.  God was right (isn’t he always!).  Just because someone else is succeeding doesn’t automatically make me a failure.  It’s not an either/or situation like my head had been telling me previously.  Other people can be successful and it doesn’t stop me from being successful too.  What does stop me from being successful however is sitting and sulking rather than working hard to achieve something!

It is a well known saying that “comparison is the thief of joy” and truly I can attest to that.  I have been reading a book this week called "and the Shofar Blew" by Francine Rivers.  It’s been a difficult one to get into as it is quite negative from the start.  There are people making mistakes and being bitter and angry about the achievements of others.  The over-riding message coming through it for me is to check who I am serving and where my heart is in what I am doing.  Am I serving myself and my own reputation (do I want to make my brand and blog bigger just to feel good about myself) or am I doing it for God.  If it is for God then I will be happy to see it grow in the way He wants, that will accomplish things for His kingdom and not just build my own reputation.  Seeds of bitterness about other people’s success shows that perhaps I hadn’t got God’s motives in mind but my own.  And so I am working to bring that back into sight.  I will be celebrating the successes of others now, and hopefully with my perspective back in the right place they will be able to celebrate with me too in the years to come as God works through me also.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”  Romans 12:15

trying to follow the cloud.

Trying to Follow the Cloud

trying to follow the cloud.

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.

desert place bible page

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.

 

 

grand total steps

10,000 Steps a Day for Charity

As some of you may know, I have been doing a 10,000 steps a day challenge throughout January to kick start my New Year in a healthy way.  I’m not here to preach at you that this is what you should all be doing, but just to share some of the ups and downs, highlights and achievements of my 31 days of attempting to walk more!!

I took on this challenge primarily to raise some awareness and funds for Teenage Cancer Trust (please do donate to my justgiving page here), the fabulous charity that I have the privilege of working for.  But I have found it immensely enjoyable too.  I liked to think that I walked a lot, but at the end of last year when I got a new phone with a pedometer app, I realised that some days I really didn’t.  On my full days working (I work from home in a tiny office) I would only clock up 2-3,000 steps, and on other days I was hitting maybe 6-7,000.  I decided that if I was to have any chance of achieving 10,000 steps a day I really had to make some changes.

boys walking

One of my walking trips out with the boys – puddle jumping as we went!

And I did!  With a Christmas treat of a new smart watch which counts my steps all the time, I was able to have sedentary reminders.  This was really helpful when working at my desk, as if I’d been sitting for too long it would vibrate and remind me to just get up and move around for a bit.  I also tried to get in one big walk a day, whether that was to school and back or down the canal in my lunch break – to reach 10,000 steps I needed a good half hour block of solid walking at least.

swans on the canal

A lunchtime walk by the canal on a very cold day saw the swans doing some skating!

I also made some other changes – you can read my post about getting in more steps here.  There were lots of tough days when I didn’t reach my goal, but then lots of days when I did lots more than 10,000 steps.  Overall I did 297,756 steps out of 310,000.  That’s an average of 9,605 steps a day.  Which I think is pretty close!!

grand total steps

What else have I achieved?  Well I have lost over half a stone (which really shocked me!!).  I am sleeping lots better (when you take away the stress of moving house!!).  And I feel like every day I have a goal to work towards.  I might not reach it every day, but every day I am trying and that’s what counts.  Walking is something I love to do and it is exercise that I don’t have to think about or force myself in to.  I can do it with my kids, and it fits in with my daily schedule.  It is even beneficial for me when working at home to get up and walk about so that I’m not getting back ache and other problems.  Even when it means walking round and round the kitchen table whilst the kettle boils, or up and down the bedroom as I brush my teeth, this challenge has really helped me to put some new healthier habits in place for 2018.

Walking selfie with boys

Quick selfie by a sculpture whilst on a walk

If you want to do the same, then why not try it for Lent this year?  40 days of 10,000 steps.  I know I’ll still be trying!!   Or you can take on your own challenge for Teenage Cancer Trust here.