Moving On UP!

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Things are looking up over here at Leah’s place; we’ve moved over to a self hosted site so I have Leahboden.com all to myself! I also have a little more freedom to move around, be creative and build for the future – so who’s coming over?

It looks the same at the moment but we have some great things planned for 2016 so watch this space…

If you ‘follow’ me here, you won’t necessarily follow me there so you’ll need to add me to your blog roll again!

Still finding my way around and rearranging furniture etc but please take us as you find us and I’ll put the kettle on (smile).

See you over there!

What I’m Reading – December

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Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. – Joseph Addison

And here we are, December has crept up on us and the next thing you know we’ll be cleaning up bit of Christmas tree and making goals for 2016. I keep hearing ‘where did the year go?’. As ever, I’m approaching the end of this year with a desperate plea of the soul to slow down, savour what God has for us in the quiet of Advent and the Christmas season and maybe pick up a few more books whist snuggling with my family by the light of the twinkling Christmas tree lights. Slow is a discipline, it’s intentional and some days I feel like I’m digging my heals in and dust is flying behind me – but slow is my jam, slow is on my ‘to-do’ list (wink).

So here are a few books on the shelf this month.

In the hand:

The Greatest Gift – Ann Voskamp

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Unwrapping The Greatest Gift – Ann Voskamp

(reading this with the children everyday)

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Creativity, Inc – Ed Catmull

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Still reading…

Composing A Life – Mary Catherine Bateson

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On Audio

For The Love – Jen Hatmaker

(This is SERIOUSLY laugh.out.loud funny!)

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On The Kindle

A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

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As ever, my reading repertoire also includes lots of bible, poetry and various read-alouds with the children.

So what would you recommend for my ‘must read’ list for next year?

Catch up on my last few ‘What I’m Reading’ posts here and here!

Advent – He Is Coming

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Take time to be aware that in the very midst of our busy preparations for the celebration of Christ’s birth in ancient Bethlehem, Christ is reborn in the Bethlehems of our homes and daily lives. Take time, slow down, be still, be awake to the Divine Mystery that looks so common and so ordinary yet is wondrously present – Edward Hays

Our lives are marked with moments and monuments of celebration and gratitude for who God is and what He has done in our lives. Christmas is no different I guess but instead of walking this Christian existence in homes and pockets across our cities, in this season, the whole of the western world are trying to make sense of what Christmas is and means. As Christ followers we get to inject meaning into the those moments and memories.

This Christmas I want to celebrate not consume; I want to open my heart and my home and make Him room.

I want to minimize the crazy and maximise Christ

For the past 6 or so years we’ve walked the advent journey with the Jesse Tree, inspired by Ann Voskamp. Even before the glossy book and the pottery ornaments we used her printables and taught my children that through Genesis to the manger His name is whispered – He is coming. Advent.

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We take time every day to read, reflect and place our ornament upon the tree.

Each card, each ornament represents a story through the old testament, a story which represents His character, his coming and our calling to draw Him close. Each story talks of the power of God throughout history, His redemption and salvation for His people. His amazing way of taking what was broken and almost gone, damaged destroyed and making it whole again.

Whatever your tradition or expression at this time is , give Him room. We’re not only preparing our hearts for a birthing but also the dawning of a new year. Consider now what God has done, contemplate what He has ahead for you and allow Christ to do His transforming work in your life.

Let me encourage you at the beginning of advent to allow His peace into your pace, to slow down and give Jesus some space.

Stay in the story.

 

 

To The Mentees And The Mothers – An Open Letter

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If I could have, I would have hand written this note to all of  you with a fine writer and had it posted to your house. Here’s the next best thing.

Dear ones,

Thank you for believing that my journey is worth something, thank you for believing that by taking pieces of my story, it will help yours. Some of the pieces that glisten now were once broken and dull; Jesus has taken them into his wondrous workshop and spent time on them. You’re welcome to those too.

I want to remind you that you’re doing an incredible job, your children play, laugh, come to you for comfort and delight in the joy they bring you. I saw how you smiled at your son and your heart brimmed with love afresh; I know that look, I’ve felt it too. I love how you hold your 6 month old close, wrapped into your body – but I know you cry because some things aren’t perfect.

I’ve loved watching your journey, listened to you talk about the books you’ve read, the people who inspire you, the patterns you want to follow. I cried when I’ve heard of your pain, the loss of  a promise into the ‘old-familiar’ of a hospital where they see it everyday, but to you (and I) it was your baby and you have to wait for heavens hallelujah to embrace that child again. I remember seeing your face, being brave, but swirling inside. I know that feeling. I’ve felt it.

I know you feel you haven’t made the best choices, the right turns or danced to the same beat as your peers. But God. His redemption is now. His mercies are new today. Your strength is renewed in this moment. He is the God of fresh starts, I thank Him for that everyday.

And I hold your baby, giggle with your toddler, tease your teen because they are an extension of you and that is a sign and a wonder. I see the power of your prayers and the torment of the tears you have sown into this week and I praise God for the fruit of your toil, your labour and your longing. The years don’t go so fast when you live them fully. When we’re present in our children’s lives we live every moment.

That can be exhausting. That can be exhilarating.

I know you feel lonely at times. Sometimes even I miss that look amongst the crowd of masked faces. I like it when you take yours off and tell me. And we cry messy tears and make plans to make it better.

There are many inspired moments and methods and ways to do this and that, but I have to show you Jesus, He is the WAY.

There are many stories and successes and picture of grace and beauty; but I have to teach you through His Word. He is the TRUTH.

There are many elaborate celebrations, well-timed snapshots of light, life and creative callings, but life is the stuff we live between the clicking of the camera. Life is what I want to show you. He is the LIFE.

If my journey ever shows you the way, leads you into truth or draws life from your bones, it’s all because of Jesus.

There’s no such thing as super mum.

Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. James 1:17

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Brave And Beautiful Act Of Asking For Help

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Every woman must and will walk her own journey of motherhood treading carefully in faith and fragility

 

Micah was three weeks old when the excruciating pains in my body left me doubled over; just as I was beginning to recover and my womb had reduced back to that pear-like shape that the Miriam Stoppard books so beautifully describes. The bleeding and the after pain and the walking like John Wayne had diminished and then I got ill. It was a summer’s day; the warm sun was glistening and comforting on my home birthed boy who needed nothing more than a cloth nappy and a sleeveless white vest showing off his kissable arms. I traipsed my three children to numbing doctor’s appointments, chemists, blood test clinics yet no one seemed to know what was going on. I finally called in the cavalry; my mother-in-law held down the fort downstairs whilst I slept, held my stomach and cried between feeding intervals when she would bring Micah upstairs so I could nourish my son. What would be my final trip up to my doctor’s surgery with my brood resulted in two doctors trying to convince this super-woman-being-so-stubborn mother to go.to.hospital. My infection levels were really sky rocketing and my doctor commented on my obvious high pain threshold and said I shouldn’t have even been walking. I called Dave at work and all fell into place; like it should when we let go.

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I was admitted to a private room at the local hospital with a transparent cot by my side so Micah could stay with me; the interns and student doctors and consultants busily researched the appropriate antibiotics for a breastfeeding mother who refused to ‘pump and dump’ and with a final diagnosis of a major kidney infection (mostly major due to the fact they discovered one of my kidneys has been non-functioning since birth) I was cared for, medicated, hydrated and after two nights sent on my way to heal but mostly to realise that it’s ok to not be ok.

Authentic, wholehearted parenting means being exactly that – authentically you. Every woman must and will walk her own journey of motherhood treading carefully in faith and fragility. It’s that perfect place to be able to believe in ourselves and our ability to raise our children but being free to sing of our imperfections and ask for help when we need it.

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Let vulnerability reveal her freeing ways and watch; maybe a community of not-got-it-all-together mothers will gather around you.

You may not have a mother rushing to collect your washing, a neighbour eagerly ready with a casserole and home-baked ciabatta. You may not have sisters to help scrub and clean and de-ice your windscreen but you do have a voice. Let vulnerability reveal her freeing ways and watch; maybe a community of not-got-it-all-together mothers will gather around you.

It really is ok to not have it all together, to not get it right first (or second) time, to be in a mess or not quite know what your next move is. Grace is the forever giving and living hand of God reaching out and saying ‘let’s do this together’; and His grace is infectious and explosive and leaks out of us and makes us like Him. So let’s reach out to each other in heart and words and deeds and let’s ‘do this together’.

This is an excerpt from ‘Moments On Mothering’ – available on Kindle today!

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Get The Most Out Of Monday!

 

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I have many childhood memories of that crazy cat Garfield constantly moaning about how he hated Mondays; that mindset and culture has seeped into our lives, (beyond the cat community) and we generally start our week longing for the weekend!

I guess this comes from the stark contrast between our work and our play. We can’t handle the difference, and If we don’t find joy in our work, then Monday will be hard.

It seems like such a waste doesn’t it? God gave us 7 glorious days; 6 to work and 1 to rest. All to be done as unto the Lord and for His glory. Yet we value 1 (or 2 at a stretch) but the other 5 seem to be kept in the dark.

The book ‘The Practice of the Presence of God‘, contains interviews and letters from a man named Brother Lawrence. He was not a religious professional; he was one of the laymen who lived alongside the monks who inspired and provided support for those in the community through his attitude to his work and its place in his life.

In his business in the kitchen (to which he had naturally a great aversion), having accustomed himself to do everything there for the love of God, and with prayer, upon all occasions, for His grace to do his work well, he found everything easy during the fifteen years that he had been employed there.

He spent much of his time in the kitchen; peeling potatoes was more essential for Brother Lawrence’s spiritual growth than attending the evening prayer service because Brother Lawrence recognised that God was there in the kitchen as much as he was in the chapel.

Mondays are the start of the work week which offer new beginnings 52 times a year!
― David Dweck

If we have the right perspective about our work, no matter how menial or mundane it may seem, our daily activities can shape our characters and change our lives (and the lives of those around us).

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Monday is an opportunity to press the restart button, shape our week and allow transformation to take place through our heart and mindset towards our work. Whether you’re tackling life in the home and mountains of laundry or happen to be the CEO of a large corporation – your work is holy and meaningful.

The prayers we weave into the matching of socks, the stirring of oatmeal, the reading of stories, they survive fire.
― Ann Voskamp

 

Katch Me On Periscope!

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So, after months of trying to get this working for me I’m finally making some headway yay!

Simply put, Periscope enables you to “go live” via your mobile device anytime and anywhere. The app enables you to become your own “on the go” broadcasting station, streaming video and audio to any viewers who join your broadcast.

I’m not committing to a schedule at the moment but may do in the new year.

You can follow me here (search for me on your app @leah_boden) or catch the replays on Katch.me (see below for example).

 

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Click on this link: https://katch.me/embed/v/76b6062b-312b-3e85-bfec-1ce9ab9d8ad0?sync=1

So, come and join in the conversations around leadership, books, healthy lifestyle and loving our families or catch the replays. I’ll post them up here too as much as possible!

Have a great weekend!

Just Another Day

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God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning

For some reason the 90’s hit ‘Just another day’ by Jon Secada was on the play list at our local Body Shop in 2002. I was working part-time as a supervisor whilst running a graphic design business with my husband. I loved the rich creams, the poignant fragrances and the free make-over we pretty much got before each shift!  It was early spring when the waves of nausea started, I didn’t so much like the smells then. I remember serving a customer and having to abruptly excuse myself to run up to the staff toilets to, well, you know!

My motherhood journey was beginning right there in the midst of customers, chaos, retail and the rawness of real life. I had to deal with the dire, the delicate and the dream of motherhood amidst the busy world around me.

My introduction to the rhythm of motherhood didn’t come from the bowels of the Body Shop toilet, although it was a big part of it for a while – it came from a change in my womb, in my circumstance and in my life. I fell in love with this kidney bean Boden that was causing disruption to my day. I woke up every day knowing that there would be growth, knowing a new day could mean anything and just maybe this would be the day when I didn’t feel sick!

And these ‘disruptions’ mark our day; from never being able to go the bathroom alone or the little step that gets pulled up in the kitchen as you’re just about to start a ‘quick’ dinner and you hear that voice “I’ll help you mama” or maybe now you’re laying awake in bed late at night waiting for your older teenager to arrive home.

Children change us, they stretch our hearts, homes and pelvic floor muscles to the greatest extent, and only one of those has any hope of returning to its former state (smile). And our days are full of moments; glimpses of wonder that bring a wide smile to any tired mama’s eyes, moments of mayhem when you’re desperately googling ‘how to deal with tantrum’ and moments that bring us to our knees knowing only Father God can help and heal this one.

I’m not sure what your day was like yesterday or what your hopes are for today but my encouragement to you is that it IS a new day. The possibilities are endless and there is always hope. There will be growth, change is inevitable and maybe, just maybe today will be the day when you don’t feel sick.

I love the Italian phrase ‘attraversiamo‘ which means ‘let’s cross over’. Elizabeth Gilbert brought it to our non-Italian attention through her 2006 bestseller ‘Eat, Pray, Love’. It literally means let’s cross over to the other side of the street. Or maybe today for us it means ‘let’s cross over to another day’. Let’s draw a line, not turn back and believe that today can be so much better.

Your strength will be renewed each day like the morning dew – Psalm 110:3

 

Social Media Straight Talk – ‘Advice To My Daughter’

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As a daughter of the king of kings, your purpose is not to turn heads but to turn hearts toward our Heavenly Father.

Today we’re celebrating the 13th birthday of our brilliant and beautiful first born, Nyah Bethia! We’re celebrating the faithfulness of God, the wonder of a daughter journeying into womanhood and the adventure of finally becoming parents to a teenager after working with and investing in young people’s lives for many many years (we love them).

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On Saturday we threw her a party; surrounded her with friends, family and significant women who have journeyed so far with her. We ate cake from vintage plates, took crazy photo’s, danced to an awesome play-list, my friends shared with her what they would say to their 13 year old selves (that was amazing, one to share another day) but more importantly we prayed, we gathered a circle of sisters around her and prayed over her life.

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I’m not going to linger on my blog today, more celebrating to do – but I wanted to share with you 13 bits of advice that my husband wrote for Nyah alongside the log-in details to her first facebook account; it is brilliant advice for for anyone starting up on social media, or for those of us who have been around for a while – check them out:

“Nyah, welcome to Facebook, here is some fatherly advice for you”

1. Real life is always more interesting. Don’t ever miss a moment for a megabyte.

2. When you feel the pressure to go with the flow of the latest cause, charity or viral “do good” thing make sure you don’t just respond for show. If you really care about it, pray, give, serve and DO Something… remember that the first person you can change is yourself.

3. Celebrate life. It is absolutely fine to share what you do and see and think with others. I don’t expect you to only communicate by carrier pigeon.

4. Some of what you see on social media will try to mess with your head. You will feel that nagging voice come in and tempt you to believe you are not enough. You are enough. You are more beautiful than any photo shopped scantily clad fake model. You are more famous to your friends and family because of your kindness and grace than they will ever be because of the fact that they happen to be in the spotlight for 15 minutes. You will be remembered for who you are long after they will be forgotten for what they did.

5. People are very selective about themselves online. Sorry but it is a fact that some downright lie. I don’t just mean the weirdos who make up false identities and try to befriend you. I mean real people. Don’t judge them. You are only ever responsible for yourself. But don’t be misled into thinking that everyone else has it altogether all of the time. You know your dad well enough to know that he might be brilliant at some things, but he falls apart if he can’t find his shoes in the morning. You won’t ever hear about this online (until today).

6. Authenticity is more important than conformity.

7. If someone adds you as a friend on Facebook, make sure you are their friend in real life.

8. Check your privacy settings

9. Before you ever post a status just to get likes or seek attention if you are feeling sad, scared, upset or worried, you might want to come for a hug from your dad first. Seek your father in heaven.
Then see if you still want to post it. Unless you are upset about your dad. In which case talk to mum. Or follow the usual family protocol involving your little sister.

10. Read your bible more than you read blog posts, statuses and twitter comments about God. Check your sources. And try to ask why they might be posting. Sometimes Christians want to sell their ministry, their ideology or their product and event more than they want to encourage you in Christ.

11. Facebook is an amazing way to encourage people and build connections around the world.

12. Don’t post anything online you wouldn’t say in real life or to someone’s face

13. Have a blast. Live your life. You will always be my daughter. I love who you are offline. Be yourself online.

You can find Dave on Twitter here.

A Micah Moment

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And since creativity is still the most effective way for me to access wonder, I choose it – Elizabeth Gilbert

Micah woke up early and came out to me in the cabin whilst it was still dark; I was writing, he was waking. We smiled and greeted each other a happy good morning, he beautifully commented on how bright the stars were – I had noticed the same thing as I walked through the yard an hour earlier.

He wrapped himself in a blanket, brrr’d  a little in the chilly air “because it’s early” and asked when the sun would be rising so we could watch it together.

He then left the cabin and disappeared into the dark, dimly lit house but reappeared 2 minutes later with a pot of pencils and a drawing pad. He gathered his things, sat quietly on the two-seater sofa tucked into a quiet corner of our cabin and got to his creating.

Man, I love this kid.