FLASHBACK: Reflections on a year of missional motherhood



Earlier today, facebook kindly reminded me that it has been a year since I started maternity leave.  A year since I took 6 months off to be with my two boys and away from the safety of my job.  It was a scary, but exciting, prospect as I have never been a good stay at home on my own kind of person (I get bored way too quickly!).  I wrote a lovely blog post about my hopes and dreams for that 6 months so I thought it would be good to reflect on whether I have achieved what I set out to do.

The first thing I wanted to do was deepen my relationship with God through praying and reading the bible during nighttime feeds.  Although this was always a challenge and a battle against falling asleep, I did manage to follow a bible reading devotional each day on my phone, normally whilst doing my morning feed.  I found this really helpful in learning more about biblical parenting as that was the reading plan I downloaded – one verse that I read early on really challenged me for the whole 6 months of my maternity leave:

“The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love” Psalm 145:8

This verse helped me when Sam was being a nightmare and struggling to adjust to having Reuben about.  If God is gracious with me, then I too should be gracious to Sam.  Yes there are times to be angry, but the best parenting I could do was being rich in love and compassionate, understanding the changes he was going through and helping to guide him through that rather than just shouting at him because I was tired.  

The second thing I wanted to do was forge new relationships with other mums.  I really tried to join new groups and meet up with mum friends (mainly just to escape the prison of my own home!!!).  This meant that I was able to develop some amazing mum friendships and start some new local ones too.  I hope that I am able to keep in touch with some of these, but even just being able to say hi when out and about is a great encouragement to me, and hopefully them too!  Motherhood is best done together – there is real strength in numbers. 

So I would say my 6 months off (and the following 6 months back at work) have been a huge success and not at all wasted.  I have grown as a parent (there are soooo many more challenges with two kids), I have grown as a child of God and I have grown many new friendships.  I feel so blessed to have been able to have 6 months off this time round instead of 6 weeks but now I am back into the crazy busyness of being a working mum, and I love it!!  

Be Still – Mummy Meditation Week 13

 

Aannnnnd breathe.

Well that’s what I needed!  Not sure about you guys but I’ve had a humdinger of a week.  Important work meetings, community fall outs, and stress after stress.  But last week I chose this verse as my meditation and I want to tell you all how I have failed (yes you heard me right..).

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

Be still.  Sounds simple right?  But I know many of you with kids and jobs and responsibilities (that covers most of us I think!) will find it hard.  One of my friends commented on my post of this verse this week.  She asked me if I could find a way to make my soul and spirit still, even if my body isn’t – basically the verse doesn’t say “sit still”, it doesn’t say “stand still”, it says “be still“.  And that can be on the inside even when you aren’t still on the outside.  So can we be still and calm with God on the inside whilst sorting out dinner for the kids or whilst in a work meeting?  

I have struggled with this this week, and have found it really hard to calm my spirit and find peace in God, but I have tried to push through it.  When I have felt uneasy I have repeated this verse and emphasized different parts of it “Be still and KNOW that I am God”, or “Be still and know that I AM GOD”.   And I have tried to make sure that during my time of devotion to God I take some time to just sit in stillness.  Not to read, not to pray, not to journal, but just to sit in stillness with God and think upon his character.  I wanted to try to REALLY know that he is God.  Why not have a try!

NEXT WEEK
I feel like this week I have had to step up and be a peacemaker in certain situations, and God kept reminding me of the verse below.  I really want to dig deeper into the true meaning of peacemaker this week and what it means to be a child of God, so please join me x

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” Matthew 5:9


Mum on a mission vs the train: Episode 1


Episode 1

Why can human life always be devalued to just an amount of money? 

Animals are irreplaceable, habitats can’t be destroyed as it would have lasting damage, but human communities are worthless and can easily be recreated elsewhere.  Well that’s according to HS2 and our government. 

Our fragile, fledgling community on our brand new estate is worth nothing more than “market value of your house + 10% compensation and reasonable moving costs”.  No value is placed on the relationships built with neighbours or the future needs that will be met through others.  No value is placed on the unique setting in which our homes were built and chosen by us – steps right down onto the canal tow path for early evening walks and a play park in the centre of the estate for children to use.  Nope.  All that can be demolished as long as we have monetary compensation.

I am so glad that my God and Father sees me as more than that. 

“Look at the birds of the air;  they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:26

I am much more valuable than an animal and I am much more valuable than the price tag put on my and my family’s head by HS2 – I am a child of the living God!

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



Mum on a mission is devastated….


So today our family had some bad news.  A letter through our mailbox first thing this morning.  

Our brand new estate that we moved on to 2 years ago is now in the firing line for the new route of the HS2 railway.  This means that the government can force us out of our homes to make way for it.  This means that the community we have built here, the lives that we have made for ourselves and our sons, all of that is at risk.  

I am devastated.

I am unsure.

I am upset.

When we moved here we had a clear image from God about the location – next to a river/canal.  That our house would be a metaphor of our relationship with him.  At the time I also had the word “roots” given to me and that where we moved next would be the place we would set down roots and grow as a family.  And I have thrown everything into this community trusting God to grow our roots here.  So you can understand why I am upset.   

I don’t know yet all the details or all the information/time lines etc (and of course we would be compensated) but I feel like this is not right.  I guess that might just be my emotion and God might be doing something amazing through this, but I wanted to share how I really truly feel.  Hopefully you will pray with me through this and join me on this journey to see where we end up.

My prayer is that our community is united through this, not divided.  My prayer is that people will come to trust in the security of God’s Kingdom in heaven, and not in property here on earth.  My prayer is that God’s will is done in all this. Amen…. 

Money, money, money – Mummy Meditation Week Eight

 

 

 

 

Recently my husband and I have been doing a “financial review” in order to save money and make sure we’re not overspending on things.  It has been really interesting to see where our money has been wasted, over paying for things that are cheaper elsewhere (e.g gas and electric) and squandering money on things we probably don’t need (lots of sweets!).  However, I have been struggling still to restrain my spending – until I read this verse!

 
Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labour on what does not satisfy?  Listen, listen to me and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.”   Isaiah 55:2
 
I have three spending weaknesses:
 
  1. Pretty things that make me feel pretty (currently trying to decide which designs of jamberry nails to buy) – everyone likes a new t-shirt/necklace/bag to cheer them up right?
  2. Stuff for the boys – a new toy, treat or clothing is something I can normally justify
  3. Sweets/cake/chocolate – It will not be news to most of you that I have a sweet tooth, and often I will turn to this to cheer me up when I am down/bored/PMT/grumpy
This week during my meditation I tried to stop and replay this verse in my mind before going in to any shop.  “Why spend money of what is not bread?“.  Now I know that God isn’t telling us here JUST to buy bread and have a bread only diet.  And I don’t think he is saying just to buy food or to stop buying anything else at all.  But rather, he wants to remind us that buying things does not fill the void/satisfy our souls.
 
You see often we shop not because we NEED something, but because we are trying to make ourselves feel something or trying to mark something else.  What do we REALLY truly need in those moments???  Is it another chocolate bar, or is it actually some time with God? Spiritual food/garments.  These are the ones that satisfy and are richer and more filling than anything we can buy in the shop.
 
By saying this verse whenever I entered a shop or went on Amazon, it forced me to stop and think about my motives.  If it was necessity/need, then I carried on.  If actually I was just feeling down or wanted a pick-me-up or was feeling selfish/angry/WHATEVER ELSE!  Then I stopped and spent a minute with God instead.  I prayed and addressed the underlying want and desire, and I felt God fill that, deal with it and satisfy me.
 
Will I still buy chocolate?  Yes! But will I make sure I have spoken with God first.
 
Will I still buy pretty things?  Yes!  But I will make sure it is not to boost my ego when I could get my approval from God first.
 
This week I have saved myself a lot of money by coming to God first.  So why not try it?!
 
 
NEXT WEEK:
The verse for next week (which came to me through a mum in the Captivated facebook group) is this:
 
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” Psalm 46:1

What’s your tent? – Mummy Meditation Week Seven

Mummy Meditation – Week Seven (pssst if you missed last weeks the link is here)
 
This week I went on a camping holiday with my lovely little family.  It was fun and family all rolled into one (along with frustrating and tiring!) and so to help me with my meditation I thought I would choose a connected verse to bring me a bit of inspiration whilst under canvas!
Enlarge the place of your tent,
stretch your tent curtains wide,
do not hold back;
lengthen your cords,
strengthen your stakes.”  Isaiah 54:2
 
This was quite a direct prophesy to the Israelite’s as they prepared to return to the promised land after being exiled, but after pondering it I think it does hold value for us today.  In essence it is a verse all about PREPARATION.  I think the tent can be likened to our relationship with God.  In the same way that the Israelites physically and mentally had to prepare to re-enter the promised land and all the challenges (from other nations) and destruction (including of their temple and cities that needed rebuilding) that they would face, we too need to prepare for what the future holds.  We often prepare physically and financially for what lies ahead of us, maybe we even prepare emotionally, but do we properly prepare spiritually?
 
I do not know what the future holds but I am sure there will be grief and suffering in some forms – that is why it is so important that I invest now in my spiritual health and relationship with God.  Here are a few things that I have taken from this verse:
 
  • “enlarge the place of your tent” – make the “pitch” of God in your life bigger, allow him more space in your heart.
  • “stretch your tent curtains wide” – make your relationship with God transparent and open, share it with others and become accountable to them, don’t carry out everything behind closed doors.
  • “do not hold back” – don’t be afraid of what this increase in God might be encroaching on or what others think.  Throw your all into your relationship with God.
  • “lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes” – guy lines and tent pegs are what keeps your tent upright during the storms (a tent is pretty ok on its own when it is calm) so dig in to God, expect the storm to come and be ready for it, don’t leave it til the storm comes to get to know God better and don’t think that life won’t get at you – bad things will always happen so be ready with your guy lines bedded firmly into God!
 
What did you think of this verse?  Do share your ponderings below.
 
NEXT WEEK:

 

‘Why spend your money on what is not bread and your labour on what does not satisfy?  Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.’  Isaiah 55:2
 

 

“Anchor?”- Mummy Meditation Week Five

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” Hebrews 6:19
 
I started off this week thinking it would be pretty boring and I didn’t really need to think this verse through much at all.  I mean – we all probably get the pretty obvious anchor illustration and what that means don’t we?  Like an anchor holding a ship firm through a storm on the seas, God holds us firm through life (after all this is the wording in various well known Christian songs and hymns).  But then I starting thinking about what it actually is that is likened to an anchor – it is not God himself, it is our HOPE that through Christ Jesus we will be with God in eternity.  
 
It seems a bit crazy in our world that HOPE in something would be described as firm and secure.  You see earthly hopes are quite often disappointing. They cannot live up to our expectations and hope comes coupled with fear as well (we might hope we get the grades in our exam, but we also fear the worst).  In order to fully understand this verse we have to try and break away from this earthly view of hope, as the hope we have in Jesus will definitely not disappoint. 
 
The other odd thing is the our hope/anchor is also in something unseen. In the same way that anchors are thrown in the ocean and drop way down deep in the water beyond where we can see but the sailors still trust that it will grip on to the bottom and hold them secure, we too have to put our anchor into Jesus.  Jesus takes our anchor through the “veil” (the divide between the earthly realm and the spiritual realm) to God and grips on, holding us firm through life’s storms from there.   
 
This metaphor became more and more powerful to me throughout the week that I was meditating on it, so much so that I could feel the pull on my soul of the chain between myself and my hope of being with God in eternity.  It is comforting to know that Jesus took that anchor through to God for me, and that even though I can’t see it he has given me assurance that it is there.  
 
The thing that then struck me was that in order to have an anchor that could hold you during the storm, you also had to maintain the chain whilst it was calm.  If the chain between the boat and the anchor breaks, then the anchor is no use.  This means that I need to maintain my relationship with Jesus when the going is easy, so that when the storms hit I know for sure where my hope is placed.  
 
I am going to finish with a picture that came really clear to me this week, that I have stuck into my journaling bible (excuse the awful drawing….).  This is me choosing to attach myself to Jesus, and allowing myself to be anchored in that hope of eternity with God.  
 
 
 
Anchored: cause to feel attached or secure, to provide a basis for, to have a source of stability or security, to have a rigid point of support.
 
(and if you are wondering how my bible journaling is coming along, take a look as this new page below that I did using washi tape…..)
 
 
Next week’s mummy meditation verse will be back in Philippians:
 
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
 

 

A cuppa with Gemma Tuson



Sit down and join me for another cuppa this week (if you missed last weeks here is the link!)

It’s really nice to meet you – please introduce yourself to us all! 
Hello, my name is Gemma, I’m 36 and I’ve been married to Mark for 11 years. I’ve just launched a resource for young women called Be Loved that I have been working on for 4 years!! (I thought it was going to take me 6 months max!) 

Where do you live and what do you like/loathe about it? 

I live in Manchester and have done my whole life! I love that I live in a smallish village, but I can jump on a train and in 12 mins I can be in the city! 

How many kids do you have? 
I have a girl who is 8 (going on 18) and a boy who is 5. They are the complete opposite of one another but generally get on most of the time! 

What is the best thing about motherhood for you?
 
I have loved and embraced every stage of them growing up so far, but I have to say that I really enjoy having ‘older’ children. I love seeing their character developing and discovering who they have been created to be. 

And what is the worst thing?! 
I think in the earlier years I completely lost my identity and I didn’t know who I was for a while. I found that really difficulty. I remember saying to a friend one time that I had accomplished everything that I wanted in life and wasn’t sure what my future looked like! She replied ‘You need to dream some more dreams.’ And she was right! 

How do you try to help your children connect with God and the bible? 
My daughter has a great prayer life. She depends on God a lot as she suffers from anxiety.She prays constantly thoughout the day. We found a lovely scripture colouring in book at Spring Harvest this year, and she finds great comfort in some of the verses. It’s really helped her to memorise some of them. My son is a little harder to engage with. He’s a great reader thought so we have some bible story books that he reads and we have some flash cards with short stories on the back. He gets quite a lot out of kids church on a sunday too. 

What is your “mission-field” at the moment?
 
I have a great group of school mums that I am praying for.

What causes or activities are you particularly passionate about and why?
I work with young people, especially girls who need some one-on-one mentoring for various reasons. My heart definitely aches for young women and the crazy things they have to face whilst going through the most difficult years of their lives.

Thanks so much for having a cuppa with me! Thank you for asking me! 
 
If you want to find out a bit more about what Gemma has been working on please do visit her website www.be-lovedbeloved.com  and be sure to join me next week for another cuppa x

Monthly Mission Update – Doing it for the one!



I was going to start my monthly mission update with a list of all the “things” I had done and achieved this month, but then God hit me with something else.  So this won’t give you practical ideas as to what to do in your missional life as a mum, but hopefully it shows a bit of my heart for why I do this and why I write this blog……


I always try to remind myself that I am living a missional life and showing the love of Jesus just for the ONE person that might see, that might benefit and that might come to know Jesus a little bit better through it.  But sometimes the number counting kicks in (partly my own fault for setting number related lifegoals, but you’ve got to aim at something right?!) and I feel down hearted.

Then God comes along and shows me what a difference that ONE can make.  When that ONE person tells you they feel at home in a strange country because of something you have done, when that ONE person opens up for no reason other than the words you have written, when that ONE person gets a treat instead of an insult and sends a thankful text doesn’t it make it worth it???  

Sometimes I feel like I am chipping away day after day and nothing makes a difference.  Like what the point of writing this blog is and then BLAMO!  God gives me an evening like tonight when he shows me that I am doing it for the ONE.  If just ONE person gets empowered, built up, changed, helped, inspired through what I do then it is worth it.  And I don’t know what your “thing” is, what your mission or passion is, but just keep doing it for the the ONE.  You might never know who they are, you might never get that thank you text, but it is still worth it.  Sometimes we get that feedback into how it has helped, and it is completely heart filling and awakening.  But sometimes we don’t – KEEP GOING

Tonight God has hit me like a tidal wave – his love is fierce…..  so I will leave you with this song which is my favourite at the moment: