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Who is my neighbour?

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How is it three months since I last posted?! Crazy. This week has seen both my little cherubs heading off into higher places of learning, and so I had one hallowed (unlike the previous four harrowing) morning of peacefulness when I actually looked around my house rather than rushing through it, and I noticed something chalked up on the top of our blackboard. It occurred to me that this was the perfect quotation to read this week – I have been introduced to a whole new myriad of actual neighbours whilst hovering anxiously in the playground – and my holey brain has retained a sum total of two of their names (never mind all their kids names!). Who is my neighbour indeed.

Happy Friday!

p.s if you’re looking for a spiritual boost, this blackboard quotation writing has been working really well for us as a family. Jon chooses a different quote for each week, and not only does it give me inspiration for the day, it also provides an insight into what Jon has been thinking about spiritually this week. Not always easy to find the time to sit and talk about those things.

What about you mums and dads? How have you been finding these going back to school weeks? Has it made life easier or harder? Has it raised any spiritual questions? Let me know, so we can all share any tips or answer questions.

 

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Healing

Friends, sisters – here is a guest post by a dear friend Kate Turner, who has been brave, honest and open, and has written with strength about her experience with miscarriage, and how it has touched her spiritual life…

Healing

I feel exhausted, wrung out and desperately sad. As a logical, practical individual I can appreciate that the statistics are actually quite high – 1 in 4 – and yet somehow I didn’t expect it to happen to me. I’m talking about something that is rarely discussed in our society, or our church community – the sensitive issue of miscarriage. 

Because despite the pain and the sadness I can’t help but notice that I feel closer to God than I have done in an awfully long time. Surely it can’t be coincidence that since I realised what was happening I feel like my eyes have been opened. You see, as the guilt sets in and I desperately try not to over analyse why this has happened and what I did wrong then I can’t shake the sense that I was going about this the wrong way. I dutifully brought my prayers for a child before God, and joyfully rejoiced when this prayer was answered. And then I swiftly went back to my daily life of work, toddler, husband, chores, shopping and socialising. Child number two on the way, successful career, nice village existence; job done, box ticked, sense of achievement and pride firmly in place. 

What a difference 48 hours makes. I’m not an emotional person – and yet now I can’t seem to stop the tears streaming down my face. I’m not one of life’s “sharers” – and yet now I’m writing down my thoughts and feelings ready to share with my sisters in Christ. I’m not someone who naturally asks for help – and yet in the last few days I’ve had to lean on my husband for support, and good friends for emergency childcare. 

 My hope and prayer is that by being brought low, and turned inside out our heavenly father is working to build me back up – with a renewed focus and a revised set of priorities.

I know of many who are struggling at the moment – as new mums, expectant mums, those who’ve decided not to have children, those who desperately desire to be a mum, and those who are living their life outside of society’s view of the traditional family unit. But do we share our hopes, our fears and our struggles with each other as we try to be women after God’s own heart?

Becoming a mother is genuinely the most divisive thing I’ve experienced. From the early stages you are questioned as to how you’re approaching this; finding out the gender, birth choices, name, will they sit in the meeting or out the back, will you work or will you stay at home, how do you achieve a balance of family time versus “adult” time. It’s quite exhausting; just when did choice and difference equal judgement? It’s human nature to want to pigeon hole peoples experiences so that we can compare and identify them with our experiences.  What I’m realising is that this is where we have to work hardest to emulate our saviour. We need to embrace our differences; are we not all wonderfully made?! We need to share, care and try to empathise with each other (even if we can’t quite understand or it doesn’t make sense to us!) Our journeys are different, and pain can strike us at different times and in different ways – but the key thing is that we all need healing. 

As for me, I’m going to pray; to try to focus on one day at a time and not look to the next big event happening in my life. And I’m out of my comfort zone – sharing my feelings, and confessing my faults (as we are guided in my absolute favourite book of the bible). For having first looked to our heavenly Father, through Jesus, for healing and guidance and then leant on my husband, should I not naturally look to share with the ready-made support group of my fellow sisters in Christ?

How do I feel now, a few hundred words and several cups of tea later?! Calmer, more peaceful, and more purposeful – clearly there is something in this sharing business…

 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is the Father who is full of mercy and all comfort. He comforts us every time we have trouble, so when others have trouble, we can comfort them with the same comfort God gives us. We share in the sufferings of Christ. In the same way, much comfort comes to us through Christ” 

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Sister’s Day 2016 – Celebration

The annual Sister’s Day in Solihull had it’s 10 year birthday this year! To recognise this, all the activities and thoughts of the day were themed around Celebration and thanksgiving.

It was a refreshing, uplifting and positive day full of wonderful and inspiring thoughts to carry away with you. Included in the day’s line-up was a talk about the benefits and spiritual foundation of eating meals together and nourishing others by providing food (there will hopefully be another post on this theme soon), followed by a presentation about the Christadelphian charity Meal-A-Day, which attempts to fulfil this need for many vulnerable people overseas. Do go and visit the link and read about this fantastic charity work – especially if, like me, you find yourself eating and drinking three or four meals a day without even noticing!

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We also did a 100’s-strong crowd-craft! The picture above shows a beautiful board-garden of origami lilies, crafted by all the sisters present at the gathering, excellently led by Mary Ryder. It was such a fun and inclusive craft, and we all benefited from creating together as a collective body. We wrote something down that we wanted to celebrate or give thanks for on the petals of the flowers, and Mary read out some of the themes that arose from this – and it was heart-warming to hear all of the thanksgivings.

If you happened to be there, tell us your thoughts and favourite memories from the day🙂

Image credit:Rachel Otter

 

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5 little fishes

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Here’s a quick Sunday School/craft idea…both of my boys have enjoyed playing with this game, and it can be used for so many stories – feeding the five thousand (with play-dough bread rolls), 1,2,3,4,5, once I caught a fish alive etc – or even just normal fishing play! The original idea came from the lovely and useful http://www.theimaginationtree.com.

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Tutorial:

Very thick card or millboard (I used millboard so it would stand up to the rigours of small boys, and it’s lasted well for two years so far)

Split pins

Paint

Decorations; tissue paper; sequins; glitter; felt-tips; crayons; stickers etc

Eyes

Marker/Sharpie for mouth details

Number stickers

Fishing rod and string/blind cord

Magnet

  1. Draw a fish shape onto thick card.
  2. Use the fish to trace 5-10 other fish. Initially I only did five, and then added another five a year or so later.
  3. Cut them all out (use a stanley knife or scalpel if using millboard)
  4. Paint one side.
  5. Pierce a hole at the nose large enough to put a split-pin through, then put in a split pin.
  6. Allow the children to decorate the other side with whatever you have/like. We used glue, tissue paper and paint for the first five, then felt-tips, glitter and sequins for the second five.
  7. Glue an eye to each fish.
  8. Turn over, and put numbers 1-5/10 on the painted side. We used foam stickers.
  9. Make a fishing rod – I cut a short piece of dowel, painted the end red, and tied a length of blind cord around the top (secured with superglue). Then I tied a magnet onto the end of the cord.

Happy and peaceful fishing!

Do you have any great tutorials that you can share? I love getting new ideas for Sunday school!

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What if this is as good as it gets*? Or TOLO

Good morning! Today we have a guest post by Miriam White, friend and mother-extraordinaire, on a really pertinent topic. Enjoy!

“These are the best years.  They grow up so fast – make the most of them.  They’re only little once.  Enjoy every moment!

I seem to have been told this a lot recently.  Maybe I don’t look as though I’m enjoying myself and need the encouragement.  Or maybe seeing my three young boys running me ragged brings out the wistfulness in parents of grown up children looking back with rose-tinted glasses to an elusive golden age of parenthood.

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My response is pretty negative.  Really?  This is as good as it gets?  How depressing.  I was hoping that at some point it might actually become more enjoyable, fulfilling and rewarding!  Surely people wouldn’t continue to have children all the time if this is really the best it can be.

I know parenthood is about the children and not the parents.  I know it’s not about what you get out of it, it’s what your children get from you.  But I didn’t have children for their sake, I had them for mine.  I wanted them – I felt that in some way I would enjoy having them, loving them and caring for them.  And I would benefit from the reflected love and pride in who they are and who they become.  It’s not as if we have a duty to have children, it’s a choice we make (in most cases).

It can be very easy to lose yourself in the hard slog of motherhood in the early years.

To get through, you tell yourself that there’s ‘light at the end of the tunnel’.  Most things are just phases and they’ll come out of them eventually.  So, the early sleepless nights will eventually get better.  At some point you’ll be able to leave the house again.  When they’re a bit older, going out for a meal won’t be quite so exhausting and might even be enjoyable.  And then they’ll start school and you’ll get some time back to yourself.  The tantrums will reduce; you might be able to reason with them occasionally.

And these things are all true.  But it can feel like there’s not much reward for all the hard work in the early years.  And to be told that it doesn’t get any better is not helpful!

However, I read a few things recently that have made me think differently about my reaction.  One of them is this:

50 things about motherhood that will make you smile

The reality is that every age has its ups and downs. So, while some things will get better, new challenges will come in.  It’s too easy to miss the good things about the early years while you’re waiting for the hard things to be grown out of.

What if these ARE the best years?!  Let’s not live in the future all the time but learn to be content in the state we’re in (1 Phil 4).  I don’t want to look wistfully at someone else’s children when mine are grown, wishing I’d enjoyed the early years with them more.  I want to enjoy any and every moment I can of every age.

Links that might be of interest:

http://www.stevewiens.com/2013/03/12/to-parents-of-small-children-let-me-be-the-one-who-says-it-out-loud/

http://happinessisajourney.com

Lovely poems here  especially ‘just for this day’

Don’t let yourself become so concerned with raising a good kid that you forget you already have one (Glennon Melton).

Life is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans (John Lennon).”

*Quote from the film As Good As It Gets

Image credit:Miriam White
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Covet

Dear mums (and dads, and others!),

I’ve been meaning to write a follow up to the last post about praying with children (note to self: write blog post about finding time to write blog posts), but haven’t managed it yet in between all of the sicknesses (mine), tantrums (not all mine) and general life chaos (definitely mine). And so here’s a post about that very thought. I want to do 2 things; firstly, to draw your attention to this article http://www.raisinggodlychildren.org/2013/01/dear-moms-jesus-wants-you-to-chill-out.html,

and secondly, to think super-quickly about a little point from said article, “don’t make homemade bread simply because you see other moms posting pictures of their homemade bread on Facebook.”

We all know that to covet is a sin. But think how easily we slip into it – more so than, let’s say, stealing, which we would perhaps have stronger guilty feelings about. This is something that I see creeping into my own behaviour. If you’re a stay-at-home mum, then it’s easy to look at Facebook, Pinterest (this one perhaps more than others) and blogs without being called into question for doing it. We don’t have a boss looking over our shoulder, or someone who goes through our internet history. Perhaps we’re looking at other houses, decorating, parenting styles. Or going to a play-date at a friend’s house and thinking ‘that’s a great toy/playroom/puzzle/craft idea…I need to do that’. It seems harmless enough – almost like we’re complimenting the other mum on their choices. But actually it’s generating a feeling of not having enough or doing enough. I’m not sure that it’s particularly easy to feel content with what you have. It seems like it should be an active feeling that requires a bit of work, rather than a passive feeling that we’re born with. Let’s work hard this week to register all of our many blessings.

lots of love and relaxing thoughts to you all x

p.s what do you think? do mums find it harder to resist coveting than everyone else? Are you a working mum and find it a similar problem?

p.p.s praying with children part 2 coming up next…see here for part 1

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#justpray

Many of you will have seen the news articles last week about the Lord’s prayer featuring in an advert, that was then deemed unsuitable for viewing in a cinema setting.

It got me to thinking – how extraordinary, that prayer is such a controversial subject. Surely it’s a subject of non-interest, to those who are…not interested? What was the first response to the tragedies that happened in Paris on Nov. 13th? #prayforparis. A twitter hashtag that was used extremely widely, even by those who would not consider themselves to be practising Christians. So what does this mean? Who is everyone praying to?

It seems that it is a facet of human nature, to call for help when in trouble. The natural response is to look around, as the meme says, ‘for a more adultier adult’ than yourself, to ask ‘what’s going on? help! I can’t do anything about this myself!’. How wonderful that we are built with this inside us, so that we use it whether we want to or not!

I’ve had a little idea bubbling in my head for a little while, about the links between meditation, and children’s behaviour. Some of you may have seen this news article http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tyne-21865083, and also this one…

It occurred to me, that seeing as prayer and meditation are very closely linked, it would be an excellent thing to do with our children. And by that I mean, teach our children to pray in a very direct way, such as these meditation classes do. Perhaps even as way to control or understand behaviour. Perhaps even talk them through it step by step…wait a minute…the Lord’s prayer….step by step….

Look out for my next post on this very subject!

Happy Saturday!

Video clips credit: Youtube.com