2019 plans and prayers

2019 Plans and Prayers

 

2019 plans and prayers

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

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

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

verse for 2019

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

When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen.  When you come looking for me, you’ll fine me. Yes, WHEN YOU GET SERIOUS about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed” God’s Decree.”  Jeremiah 29:12-14 (MSG)

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

will you get serious with me in 2019?

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

 

praise points

2018 Praise Points

praise points

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

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

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

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

My verse of the year

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

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.  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.  and a .  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.  and 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 .  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