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.

Displacing Worry For Wonder – A Devotional

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The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything – The Bible

I love God’s Word; it shapes, guides and creates patterns in my life that make me more like Him. The Bible is so far from a dry and irrelevant text, it is living and active, and if you let it do its work in your life it NEVER returns void. Hear it, speak it and allow it to go deep, to sooth your soul, strengthen your spirit and blow upon those glowing God embers in your heart.

We can’t do Christian life without it – so open it today!

Twice a month we gather our Connect group in our home; we sit around cake, tea and God’s Word and share what we see and what He is saying. I not only love this bringing together of community and family but I love seeing one verse come to life before our eyes through simply allowing time and space to talk about it. Conversation is a catalyst.

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I was reminded of one of my favourite verses in the bible, a verse that I live by and put into practice daily, here it is in The Message:

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Philippians 4

This Pauline instruction to the Philippians is poignant and pivotal to our lives and our daily walk. At the end of verse 5 Paul states ‘the Lord is near’, followed by ‘do not worry’. What an incredible statement to surround this whole section of scripture, before we even start talking about your worry and what to do about it, remember, the Lord is near!

The fact that we know that He is near then urges us to follow the next instruction, ‘do not worry’, instead of carrying worry, turn all that emotion and distraction into prayer. I’ve learnt to practice this, I’ve created a devotional default when my heart is heavy. When something is going on in my life that is distracting and dissolving me into a bit of hot mess, I pray. Declaring first that I know He is near, I then pour out everything I’m feeling, carrying and burdened with to my Father God, who loves to listen. And what does He do? He doesn’t promise to fix it, make it all better and resolve it as we would want with our earthly understanding, no – but He does replace our heavy heart with His gift of peace. His overwhelming, life transforming calm that we can’t fathom or start to understand. He allows us to walk in wholeness and freedom with a light heart DESPITE our situation.

He brings calm to our chaos, stillness to our striving and turns our worry into wonder.

Talk to the Father today, open His Word and be transformed.

You are loved.

Loving this song at the moment; may it bless you today!

Simple Steps To Kick The Winter Blues

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A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones – Prov 17:22

The days are shorter, our mornings are darker and the trees are stripped of their splendour, it’s so tempting to hibernate and live shorter, darker, slightly stripped lives – I’m here to tell you that a bit of early evening hibernation under a blanket with a book is fine but if you’re already feeling the winter slump, the deep sigh of another day, it’s time to lift your head friend!

I don’t think I’d describe myself as genuinely suffering from Seasonal effective disorder (SAD) but I’ve had years of waves of the winter woes (and I’m  a happy, glass half-full gal through and through); wanting to rush through the season, just ‘get through’ to Spring when we can really live again! Not any more!

So here are fives things that have helped me give the winter slump a kick in the behind!

Practice Gratitude 

“…the secret to joy is to keep seeking God where we doubt He is.”
― Ann Voskamp

Ann Voskamp’s book ‘One Thousand Gifts‘ started a powerful process in so many of us around learning the power of a thankful heart, but not only that, we write it down, everyday. Everyone from life coaches to counsellors are advising people to keep a gratitude journal and it really is a poignant tool for directing our simple, thankful lives to God.

Write three things down that you are thankful for at the beginning or at the end of everyday.

Get Outside (Exercise)

My lovely friend Alex, (aka Fitness Mama) talks so much about the impact of exercise on our mental health and wellbeing. We don’t have to become weight lifters, triathletes or marathon runners but a 15 – 20 minute daily commitment to move our bodies (brisk walk, work-out video, exercise bike etc.) can transform the way we feel about ourselves and our day. Exercise resets our hormones and releases a wonderful happy feeling – go on, try it!

Clear Out A Cupboard

Whether you’re a ‘clean freak’ or not, there’s something so therapeutic about cleaning out a cupboard, a drawer or that overflowing bag of ‘stuff’ under the stairs – especially in winter. Don’t save all your spring cleaning till spring, make a short list of 5 decluttering projects you could do over this winter and schedule them in, one a week.

Eat Happy Food

Okay, so I’m not talking about picking up a  bag of donuts on your way home from work or polishing off a whole bar of chocolate every night, no, I’m talking about real food! Real nutritionally packed foods that make you feel great!

Almost two years ago now I quit sugar; this made a huge impact on my emotional and hormonal wellbeing; right now I’m taking it a step further and I’m over halfway through my second round of the Whole30 where I have eliminated not only sugar but grains, dairy, legumes, alcohol and all processed foods . I can honestly say coming into this autumn/winter period that I’ve never felt better. The right foods can absolutely increase happiness, lessen symptoms of depression, and quell anxiety.

It all comes down to the brain.A healthy cognitive system is essential to regulating mood, and certain nutrients have a profound impact on maintaining normal brain function

Try adding these fabulous food into your winter menu and see how you feel!

Smile

Crazy, I know, but it works – a simple change in the setting of your face can have an impact on how you feel. Researchers in the 80’s and 90’s tested this theory out and it’s true, smiling makes you happier!

Smile at your kids, smile at the stranger on the street, smile at the cashier in the supermarket, or go wild and smile at yourself in the mirror this morning!

A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.

Phyllis Diller

A Reflection On Rest

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“Rest and be thankful.”
― William Wordsworth

I am totally your classic ‘always something to do’ gal; I would have been your nightmare manager at McDonald’s (never actually worked there…I was a Pizza Hut waitress through my university days though) singing gleefully on an early shift ‘if you’ve got time to lean, you’ve got time to clean’ and all that – I’m a little exhausted just thinking about it! My University friend, Claire, would despair at me for never being able to relax and watch a film unless I was doing something else; writing a letter, writing in a journal, making my life goals etc.

A few weeks ago my son, Micah said “Mum, please come and sit with me and watch a film…and DON’T bring your book”. I laughed (cried a little inside) and met his request; we snuggled under a big Mexican blanket (which of course invites other little ones…and the dog) and melted into a film together. After a while Dave appeared at the door after being out, with a look of shock and awe on his face and said “wow, Mum is watching a film with you”!

Okay, okay – it’s not quite my jam to sit and watch any old film,  I really don’t like T.V and I am very intentional with my time – but I have had to learn to add into the baseline (and schedule) of my life a rhythm of rest.

And before you start to feel really sorry for my kids and plan to whip them off to the movies without me; I am with them 24/7 people! We sit with piles of books, we linger over tea and conversation at the table, we walk together and I hold them, kiss their little Boden faces and tell them emphatically that I love them many times a day!

BUT, I am learning to rest on their terms at times. We have a such a mulch of personalities and love languages in our home (moi: INFJ, Acts of service and time come out pretty high on my love tank needs) and as much as I need to be energised and fueled for life, so do my family – with me in the mix!

A few times a week I like to bring them over to my side (insert evil laugh); twice this weekend I planted myself sprawled full length on the sofa with Big Magic in hand and shouted ‘it’s quiet (book) time’! My 4-year-old grabbed a couple of Donaldson classics and found a nook between my body and the sofa we were on and wedged herself in; the dog snuggled on my feet, my husband read the newspaper, my (almost) teen flicked through Spotify on my Kindle Fire to plan her birthday playlist and while Joel napped upstairs Micah adventured through his favourite dinosaur book. I could hear a gentle hum of a child, the flicking of pages, the deep inhale and exhale of a black Bassadore heavy on my feet.

The left-overs remained on the table for a little longer, the dishes were piled up in the kitchen and who knows if anyone had clean underwear for tomorrow; that moment, right there is where I was fully present.

Over the top of Micah’s hum and Sienna’s quiet recitation of ‘The Gruffalo’, I looked up at my husband and said “this is a thousand times better than watching T.V”.

And it was.

The War On Insecurity – Our 4 Pronged Attack!

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“There will always be someone willing to hurt you, put you down, gossip about you, belittle your accomplishments and judge your soul. It is a fact that we all must face. However, if you realize that God is a best friend that stands beside you when others cast stones you will never be afraid, never feel worthless and never feel alone.”
― Shannon L. Alder

The signs of a life marked out by God is a life marked out by God; recognising and activating His Word and spirit in our lives, in every situation, every day. Why do we find it easy to pray for our work situations, pray over our children, trust God for our futures but when we’re paralysed by insecurity we lean into it and succumb to the impact on our lives and those around us?

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.; In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Prov 3:5,6

The feeling of insecurity is not wrong, it hits us all at the most surprising times but the test comes in our reaction to that feeling, what are you going to do with the way you are feeling right now?

Here’s the truth girls; we’re not called to feel anything less about ourselves than what God thinks and feels about us. I loved hearing Margaret Stunt talk about this at our women’s conference a couple of years ago; she strongly called us out on ‘insulting’ God on doubting His craftsmanship and creativity, He made us in His image, knitted us together perfectly yet we grumble, doubt and deliberate whether He has done a good enough job. Your Father is the master craftsman; His hands formed you, loved you, shaped you and put His destiny in your heart. You are incredible girl and it’s time to start believing it!

Now, I’m trying to speak beyond learning to love that mole on your cheek or your 5’2″ fully grown stature; a message you may have heard at your youth conference a few years ago (wink); I want to delve into the secret place; the hopelessness, the confusion and the silent sick feeling of I don’t match up to the rest of the world. It’s a lie and it’s time to throw it back in the enemy’s face, stand up straight, eyes on the Father and walk wholeheartedly into this overflowing life you’ve been called to.

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The feeling and sound of insecurity is a ‘voice’; we’ll call it an IV (insecurity voice); it’s not real but it’s often loud, but you girl can silence it and you can practice this today!

Isaiah 54 is our ultimate silencer – learn this scripture and stamp down on that IV; NO weapon, no lie, no crazy soul-destroying voice will rise up against me, it will NOT prosper and it will be shown the way home. We can not live like this any longer; time to blast that IV away!

But no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall show to be in the wrong. Isaiah 54:17

So here is our 4 pronged attack when the IV is loud in our life:

  • Recognise it – call it what it is, even tell a friend “my IV is loud today”
  • Speak to it; (King David did this a lot) – speak to your soul, tell yourself ‘this is not who am, I will not let this affect what I’m supposed to do today and I will not let if affect how I treat the people around me’
  • Apply the Word; it never returns void, it’s living and active and ALWAYS does what it is sent out to do. As soon as you confess God’s Word over your IV, it will flee! Try this list for starters.
  • Pray. Paul, in the book of Philippians instructs to not be anxious, pray about everything and then peace will guard our heart and our mind! Wow – there it is, right there, our tool to not only silence our IV but guard us from it rearing its head again!

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Phil 4:6-7

Check out part 1 of our insecurity series here.