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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What I’m Reading – November

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Beware of the person of one book.

–Thomas Aquinas

So here we are in November; we’ve had incredible weather here in the UK, the sun has been shining as the beautiful coloured leaves fall to the ground and there’s that perfect crisp ‘nip’ in the air, enough to get you under a blanket whilst picking up a book or two!

If you read October’s post on What I’m Reading you’ll know I’m slowly making my way through Annie Dillard’s ‘Pilgrim at Tinker Creek‘ with my book club and I’m dipping into Charlotte Masons ‘Original Homeschooling Series‘ as an ongoing part of my learning rhythm.

When writing to mothers, Karen Andreola in A Charlotte Mason Companion suggests that we all have three books on the go at one time so that we can pick up the one we “feel fit for” at that time, she suggest:

  1. A Stiff Book (ie, a challenging one)
  2. A Moderately easy book (ie a biography)
  3. A Novel (preferably good ones – not twaddle.  examples included George Eliot, Charles Dickens, etc)

I don’t quite follow her pattern but I like having a few on the go so I can choose which one suits the mood or time of day! I make it my goal to finish this group of books within the month before I move on…

Never be without a good book on hand –  Charlotte Mason

Without further ado, here are my November reads!

In the hand

Composing a Life by Mary Catherine Bateson

I  listened to an ‘On Being’ podcast with Krista Tippett and Mary Catherine Bateson and was inspired to read her book ; I snatched it for 18 pence on Amazon Marketplace!

Composing a life

BIG MAGIC, creative living beyond fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

So excited to dive into this one; especially after reading Brene Brown’s ‘Rising Strong’, apparently the books work well together!

Big Magic

On the Kindle

Own Your Life by Sally Clarkson

I started this a while ago but never finished it for some reason, after following a few periscope book clubs using this book I decided to dive back in this month. 

own your life

Audio Books

Platform: get noticed in a noisy world by Michael Hyatt

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Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

(This is on Kindle with an add-on audio so I can do both!)

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I’m also re-listening to It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig as I’m on round 2 of the Whole30; I didn’t quite catch everything fully during the first listening so once the two above are through I’ll start on this one again whilst doing dishes!!

Thank you for all your comments and recommendations on Instagram and Facebook from last months ‘What I’m Reading’ post – I’m lining some of them up for the new year…watch this space!

So what have you got picked out of the book shelf for November?

5 Reasons (or reminders) Why We Should Read Aloud To Our Children

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“Reading aloud with children is known to be the single most important activity for building the knowledge and skills they will eventually require for learning to read.”
― Marilyn Jager Adams

In a time where there are SO many distractions and forms of digital entertainment for our children it’s so easy to drop the beautiful habit of reading aloud. Whether you have babes in arms, preschoolers, homeschoolers or children in full-time school; reading aloud is a gift we give our children, a chance to snuggle up with them and a perfect opportunity to slow down and immerse ourselves in a child’s literary world.

Some of the happiest memories of my childhood were when my beautiful mother would gather myself and my siblings on her bed and she would either read a book or make up an adventure story! The bed would become a flying carpet or a ship at sea; we’d be lost on a desert island or taking flight over sights and scenery that she would describe and that I can still ‘picture’ today.

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“To receive many blessings, read to your children from the womb to the tomb.”
― Joyce Herzog

So here are 5 reasons (or reminders) why we should read aloud to our children:

  1.  Improves Their Long Term Reading Success

Decades of research shows that reading aloud to a child daily is one of the most important activities for their reading success. That goes for older children, too. Studies show that children who are read-to are more likely to have good vocabularies, write well, and do well overall in school . They’re also more likely to keep reading on their own

2.  Helps Expand Their Vocabulary

Your child’s auditory understanding is higher than their reading comprehension. When you pick a difficult book that your kids can’t read on their own, you are exposing them to a treasure chest of new vocabulary words. This stretches a child’s language development, particularly if you stop to talk about the meaning of these harder words.

I encourage my children to write down ‘hard words’ on a piece of paper whilst they are reading, and look them up later; a little habit I picked up from my Dad. Obviously if they can’t understand the story due to said hard word I help them out!

3. Increases Their Imagination And Creativity

When our children have travelled to the country fayre with Wilbur and Charlotte and ‘tasted’ Templeton’s treats, when they’ve ‘smelt’ the Shire and lost themselves in Middle-earth; when you’ve gasped together and cried (that would be me) whilst reading about the life of Bruno and Shmuel the books do their own work in our listeners hearts and imaginations. I finished reading ‘Charlotte’s Web’ to my youngest children over a week ago and they are still playing and crafting games around the characters they’ve fallen in love with!

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4.   It’s Time Spent Together.

Reading time is time when you’re focusing on no one else and nothing else but them. It’s impossible to read to your son or daughter and look at your smart phone or watch TV at the same time! It’s a prime opportunity to slow down, sit down, snuggle up and breath in a book with your children – now, who doesn’t want to do that?!

5.  It Builds Life Skills

It builds listening skills, increases a child’s attention span, and develops the ability to concentrate at length of which all are learned skills.

So where should I Start?

  1. Pick a perfect 15 minute slot every day and create a habit
  2. Pull yourself a book list together; there are some helpful ideas here
  3. Ask your children what they would like to read
  4. Just DO IT! It doesn’t matter if you’re not the best reader or eloquent speaker; you’re creating a bond, amazing memories and instilling life skills into your children!

We have an obligation to read aloud to our children. To read them things they enjoy. To read to them stories we are already tired of. To do the voices, to make it interesting, and not to stop reading to them just because they learn to read to themselves – Neil Gaiman

Want to hear more? Tomorrow morning on my radio show ‘Live With Leah’ I’m interviewing primary school teacher and English subject leader Jenny Jenkins. We’re going to be chatting about the joy of books, reading aloud to our children and how we can encourage this in family life amidst the digital distractions we’re bombarded with!

Check out the show live at 8am (GMT), listen locally on 101.5fm or stream from Radioplus.org.uk.

Connect with us during the show via our Facebook page – tell us where you’re listening from and ask questions to add to our live conversation!

And finally, check out this book for more inspiration:

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Caught up in story by Sarah Clarkson

What I’m Reading – October

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If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.

–Ralph Waldo Emerson

Yep, I love reading and I’m probably devouring books now more than in any other season of my life (maybe excluding all those sociology texts I had to read at University); I don’t really watch T.V (unless it’s Sherlock…) and I’ve stopped that mindless scrolling through Facebook, seriously try it – put down the phone and pick up a book, it’ll change your life (wink)!

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I obviously read my bible everyday and I have a ton of poetry books that I have in various place around the house to pick up when I have 2 precious minutes to read a poem; I read at least 1 a day (not including what I read to my children, this is for my own pleasure…it’s a real thing!!)

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I’ve also not included the read-alouds I’m working through with my children; the books listed below are ones I’ve chosen to read for my own enjoyment and education.

So here are my October reads, I’m not going to say much about them in this post but happy to answer any questions:

Books

Rising Strong – Brene Brown

Almost finished this – it’s blowing.my.mind!

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Pilgrim At Tinker Creek – Annie Dillard

I’m slowly working my way through this in a book club with two precious friends – it needs to be read slowly, it’s amazing!

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Kindle Books

The Miracle In The Middle – Charlotte Gambill

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Home Education – Charlotte Mason

After flicking and breezing my way through this series in my early home educating days I’ve decided to start from scratch and study the original series; totally worth it if you’re using the Charlotte Mason method!

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Audio Books

I listen to audiobooks or podcasts (another blog post…) whilst doing dishes, which is quite a lot!!

It Starts With Food – Dallas and Melissa Hartwig

I’m 23 days into my first Whole30 so this was really helpful to my journey.

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Lioness Arising – Lisa Bevere

I’ve had this in my audio library for a while, this is my second listening.

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So what are you reading? I’d love some recommendations for November!

If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.

–Haruki Murakami