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!!
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!
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
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!
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
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….
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!
- 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?
- Stuff for the boys – a new toy, treat or clothing is something I can normally justify
- 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
- “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!
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?
How many kids do you have?
What is the best thing about motherhood for you?
And what is the worst thing?!
How do you try to help your children connect with God and the bible?
What is your “mission-field” at the moment? too.
What causes or activities are you particularly passionate about and why?
Thanks so much for having a cuppa with me! Thank you for asking me!
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: