Mother’s Day….

And so another day to celebrate…..it’s MOTHER’S DAY!

I don’t actually know what I am going to write but I have this thing in my head telling me to write a post for Mother’s Day!!!!  Who am I to question the voices in my head eh?!?!?!

For me, this is my 21st Mother’s Day….I find that completely mad, there is no way I can have been a mother, a mum….actually a mummy for this length of time.  I remember Mother’s Day when I was pregnant with my first child…..little did I know that the reality of being someone’s mummy was going to be so much more than I was imagining!

So much more in that nobody can ever prepare you for what an impact this little bundle is going to have on your life…..in so many different ways!

Nobody ever told me that I would find myself walking around for the next how many years looking frazzled, knackered, wearing sick on my shoulder or worse still, in my hair!  Nobody ever told me that I would most likely never get a full night’s sleep ever again as long as I live.  Nobody told me that completely out of nowhere, I would find I had an overwhelming love, an urge to protect someone else on this earth, that someone else would always come first before anything  or anyone else and that whatever they needed, I would be there for them, no matter what.

Everyone will tell you the nightmare of losing sleep at night, the crying, the pacing up and down the landing making sure nobody else in the house is disturbed (why do we do this?) – but when they tell you the down side, do they ever stop to say to you, actually when your baby wakes up in the night to be fed, it can also be a special time, the house is quiet and it’s just you and them.  Okay, so maybe you’re not meant to fall back to sleep holding them….but hey, mine survived!

It only took me 5 years to break the habit of the last child coming in to my bed at night…..I survived 11 years of never having a full night’s sleep!   After  21 years now, I can’t go to bed at night without doing the rounds, checking each child is alright, okay so I don’t still put my fingers close to their nostrils to check they are breathing, but nearly!  It’s strange to think that each of these children were once tiny little bundles that kept me awake at night crying and hungry, and now I can’t let myself go to sleep at night without checking them when they are sleeping peacefully!

BUT, I wouldn’t change it for the world!

Nobody told me that it wouldn’t matter how many children I had, as much as I loved the first one, there would still be exactly the same amount again to give to the next one, the next one and even the next!

So for all the nights with no sleep, all the outings with sick in my hair, all the accompanied toilet trips, the constant asking me why?”, the ever growing mountain of washing, all the again, again” repeated stories, the nursery rhymes stuck in my head, for all the daily “don’t like it” dinners, all the constant “NO!” in full voice, the playing me up, the running me ragged, the tantrums, the foot stamping….I wouldn’t trade them with anyone because in return there’s a whole lot of fun, messing around, laughter and love.

For all the things in life that I have messed up, got wrong or just completely missed out on…..there are four things that I have got completely right and wouldn’t change for the world.

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.”

Psalm 127:3

This Mother’s Day I am turning it all around and saying thank you to my children because if it wasn’t for them, I would never have become what I am……

a mummy, a mama, a mot-her

(updated & reposted from 2013)

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Can you measure love?

It has to be said that when one of my children asks  for help with their homework, I get slightly fraught, to say the least!  Thankfully I can usually send them to their older sister, who has already been there, done that and got all the certificates….not me though!  It’s a looong time since I was at school and seriously, the subjects I studied were not the most ‘academic’, one could say!

Well, imagine my surprise when my child asked for help the other day and not only could I help but it was a question that got me thinking too!

The question was can you measure love?

I was well  away….I sat down, put my feet up even and talked and talked and talked…. about love!

I told her……of course you cannot measure love.  You can NEVER love somone too much, you can NEVER be loved too much, NEVER receive too much love.  The problem is, people talk about love as though it’s all a romantic, fluttery, butterfly in the stomach feeling….but that’s being ‘in love’….and that can wear off, in time.  What people don’t realise is that real love, is a choice, it is choosing to put someone else before yourself, all the time.  It is being Christ-like….doing what Jesus would do.  He would be patient, kind, not envious, proud or easily angered.   He wouldn’t hold grudges, store up wrongdoings to ‘get His own back’ at a later date, He would always forgive.   I told her that really people ‘think’ they love but they give up so easily, move on to the next one when it gets too difficult or hard, but love perseveres…doesn’t give up on someone.  I told her that we can only really love, because God loved us first.  He is love and without His love in us, we cannot truly love because we need Him, we cannot ‘do’ anything in our own strength….even love! 

Obviously, I was in my element….finally a piece of homework that I could help with….my favourite subject and nothing I actually learned at school!

The only problem with her homework was, it wasn’t religious education, it wasn’t philosophy, or psychology even…it was English!  They were studying short stories and this question was to do with a romantic one!  So everything I told her, kind of had to go out of the window…..but she did say oh mum, that was really good and really given me a lot to think about (there was far more than the paragraph above!), but how do I write it all down?

♥♥♥

When I started this blog post nearly two years ago, I have to confess to asking my trusted friend Google for a little help!   It would appear that I was not the only person asking though…. apparently, What is love? is the most searched phrase on Google!  It’s a sad state of affairs when we have to ask Google for the answer to this one, but hey, as I’ve said before, I Google everything!

According to all the different things I have read, love could be described as a neurological condition, like hunger or thirst.  There are different kinds of love ranging from the soppy, mushy kind all the way to the deep, intimate, close bonding kind.  There’s love for self, for a specific other, for all of humanity and then the passionate kind that easily fizzles out if it doesn’t develop into the deep intimate kind!

I don’t know much but I do know that we are all born with a longing to be loved…by God and also by someone else.  It’s very normal to long to be loved by that other person…..to find your other half, your soul mate, that particular someone who ticks all the boxes!  Most people do not realise that they actually were created with a longing to be loved by God – they search and search for the ideal other, someone who will make them happy, who will complete them and even when they do find them, there is still something missing…they are never completely happy.

I figured that most likely, Google, was not the place to find the answer I was looking for and that the answer would be found in the Bible because God is love and we love because He first loved us.

I decided to do a quick Bible study on love, but it seems that really, there is no quick studying of this subject!  You can never finish a study on love, it goes on…..it is at the root of everything, everything comes from it, and everything goes back to it.  and just as the question my daughter asked for her homework, you really cannot measure it, can you?

♥♥♥

 “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit.  And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.  If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.  And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.  This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.  There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

 We love because he first loved us.  Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.  And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”

1 John 4: 7-21

♥♥♥

And so, on Valentine’s Day, the day set aside for love….it seems we are led to believe you have to have a significant other to love and a significant day on which to love on….but you don’t.  We need to love every day and we need to show love to everyone.

re-posted from 14.2.15

And so we’ve reached the end of 2017…

I can’t believe we’re here again, the end of another year.

I say it every year….where did that go?  I know that every year the months seem to just fly by, but 2017….what happened to you?  Seriously, one minute we were just starting out, the possibilities, the hopes, the dreams….they were endless.  Now here we are, less than 24 hours before the start of 2018 and I don’t even know how we got here!

To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have been here had my youngest not said mummy, are you going to do your yearly roundup?  Obviously, I don’t literally mean not been here but what with everything that has been going on, I can’t write!  Well, I can write, I have endless blog posts going through my head but I can’t actually write them…..everything is a bit too close, a bit too ‘sensitive’, a bit too ‘private’ even!  I half-write them and then have to give up….one day maybe!

I do find it quite helpful though, to look back over the year…..there is always far far more that has happened than what initially jumps out to start with!  Before I started looking through my photos and remembering things that had happened, I had thought that 2017 topped 2016 in finishing me off!  I was quite convinced that 2017 had got the better of me….it just seems that everything has been so busy that there hasn’t been a minute to sit and take it all in!

Haha, looking over my blog post from the end of 2016….have I achieved what I intended?!  Maybe, maybe not!  To be honest, I’m not really sure what my intentions were…..to stay home on a Monday, to read more, to run less ‘religiously’, to write more again, ?  Hmm…..

 Among my ‘intentions’ this year was to read the Bible through from cover to cover but with no reading plan!  I got myself a new Bible….a colouring one!  Let’s just say, I didn’t reach the back cover….not in the right order anyway, so sometime in 2018 I might reach the back cover.  Something tells me that I will never finish colouring all the pictures in though, lol!

I think I can safely say that I definitely achieved the run less religiously intention!  I have hardly been running – probably averaging once a week.  As with everything, I wonder how I ever had the time to go more than that!  Life is definitely far busier than when I used to go out to work!  It does mean that when I do actually go out to run I am going because I want to, there’s nothing else I have to do and nowhere else to be so I am not squeezing it in because I have to!

So, in the year I became 45….things were off to a great start – I went along to the new year bank holiday football match with the lads!  Yeah, it would appear that somewhere in the approach to reaching my mid-forties (!), I realised I quite like going along to the football!  There’s nothing quite like the buzz when you’re on the winning side, but boy it’s not good when you’re losing!  I have learnt that on these occasions, no words are the right words – my son and my husband don’t want to hear my motherly words of support…..you know the ones – it’s not the winning, it’s the taking part or oh well, at least we won the other day or well that’s life, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.  Yes, on these occasions, stay quiet!

Only a few weeks into the new year we heard the news that someone we knew had suddenly passed away.  Whilst sad it was a real reminder to me that you really don’t know how long you have – we put things off until tomorrow,  maybe we speak words that we think we can try and take back – tomorrow….but sometimes, tomorrow doesn’t come.  To me, it was the reminder to live every day the best I can, making the most of situations, trying at best to live peacefully with those around me……so, my 45th birthday was a bizarre occasion really – I went to the funeral of a friend.  Even now, nearly a year on I find myself looking around expecting her to turn up to our ladies group, then I remember.

     

The year has flown by at such a speed.  I thought nothing of ‘significance’ had happened…..but the year I became 45 it seems there were quite significant events after all – we had a new pet hamster join us called Bartholomew Jehoshaphat (!), an interview meant a girly roadtrip to Swansea, a (half) family day out to Hampton Court, the man and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary visiting the Tower of Pisa, Lake Garda. the Dolomites and Venice – whilst we say it was the last time we would be going to Venice, I say watch this space…….♥ one of us reached the grand age of 18 and officially became an adult, she had a surprise party, passed her driving test and A levels and has also started university and has already delivered babies!  one of us became a non-teenager, started a second year of university and made me become ‘the girlfriend’s mother’!, a road trip with the youngest to Cheddar Gorge via Bristol Airport which was quite fun….we had to pull into a layby to watch the butting goats on the rocks on the side of the road!, we all spent possibly the wettest week ever camping at New Wine – as with everything they say, “there’s no such thing as bad weather just inappropriate clothing” –  a whole week of wellie boots, raincoats and we haven’t been put off, possibly even more determined to go back in 2018 because it has to be sunny…please!  one of us is half-way through GCSEs and now it’s the dreaded trying to choose what to do next, we’ve had college open days, sixth form visits….just when you get through it all with one child you start all over with the next….and then the next, when this one’s sorted it will be time for the youngest!  my parents moved to a new house after 40 years of living in the previous, we had a surprise 50th wedding anniversary celebration for them in the summer with all their children and grandchildren, we had a surprise 90th birthday party for the man’s nan,  at the grand age of 45 I ventured to the cinema alone – never done before and will definitely be doing again!, went on a spontaneous girly outing and went on the Babbacombe Cliff Railway, been to a few football matches and even had a whole family trip to the football just the once!,  one of us has done dance exams and piano exams – I must say, I do enjoy the ¾ hour sitting in the dance place while she has her lessons – I take my knitting! I’ve done a lot of knitting this year – making blankets, I’ve been really excited to have grown raspberry bushes in pots on the decking, we’ve had a family cinema trip to see Cars 3 (it was a must after Cars was such a major part of our life for so many years!), one of us had the end of year dance show which I was gutted to miss but it clashed with our Church Carol Service – I think it was the first time I have had to miss a performance that one of my children has taken part in (thank goodness for grandmas who are able to step in and play the part ♥), 

  

– there have been countless games of Words with Friends, monthly film afternoons at Church, ladies breakfast, afternoon tea and even Christmas Dinner, I think I’ve spent quite a few hours this year sitting in hospital waiting rooms – sometimes with family and sometimes with friends – I think I’ve seen the inside of all the main hospitals in the whole of the county this year! Christmas parties, the Hallelujah party, ladies Bible studies…..as I said last year, I never expected to find myself spending much of my time with people older than me and much older!  It’s funny because apart from a couple of close friends nearer to my own age down here, I have been reminded that all my friends live miles away!  However, I am grateful as ever, to all my friends for still being there, wherever they are…and how especially lovely it is when they make it down to visit for a long overdue cuppa & catch up!  

All in all, there always seems to have been something going on!  It’s funny because looking through all the things that have gone on over the last twelve months has made me completely forget that I thought it was pants!  When you look to find all the good things, you soon forget all the other things that seem to have been ‘hanging over you’.  All the happy memories and photographs are such a reminder that life is good, no matter what!  That whatever we are waiting for or hoping for, whatever we have questions about, living in the ‘unknown’ about ….all of that – they don’t really matter because whatever happens when I look back and see all the good, happy memories full of fun, laughter, happiness and love, these things far outweigh the stuff that wasn’t quite what I had thought would happen this year, the unanswered questions, the unanswered prayers, the dreaded ‘unknown’!  Again, another reminder to me for next year…..look for the positive things everyday instead of dwelling on the negative!

 Well, I never thought I would write such a long blog….sorry!  That’s what happens when you don’t write anything for a long time!  All that is left to say is thank you to my husband, my children, my family and good friends…all who have been there this year and who I know will be there next year too!

I am looking forward to a year’s time…when I sit here writing about the absolutely amazing year 2018 has turned out to be….and I am looking forward to looking through all the photos and reading the memories stored up in my jar!

National Best Friends Day

So, in celebration of National Best Friends Day, this is reposted from last year!

What actually is a best friend?

Maybe we should just start with what is a friend?

I started with the basics and googled the question, what is a friend?  And the answer was a person with whom one has a mutual bond of affection, typically one exclusive of sexual or family relations – some synonyms are companion, confidant, familiar, ally, comrade, pal, mate.

That’s just a few, but you know how it goes – you meet someone, you find you have something in common, something mutual, you become friends.  Often you have friends in different places, school friends, work friends, church friends, friends in your town, friends from when you were growing up, you may call them all your friends, but there are usually different levels of friendship going on.  Sometimes I wouldn’t describe someone as my friend, but just someone who goes to the same place as me – that would generally mean I haven’t had much to do with them, not much interaction with them where I have found anything in common that draws me back to them, there isn’t really any conversation going on.

One thing I have learned in life is, you can know a lot of people but that does not make them necessarily your friend.

Over the last few years I have looked at the friendships I have, or don’t have any more….and even now at the age of 40something, I am still surprised at how people go through life thinking people are their friends, just because they met them once and they are now on their Facebook friend list!  And that, sadly, seems to be what is nowadays described as a friend…..someone on my Facebook list.  With all the social media platforms there are, people are conducting ‘friendships’ virtually – they are no longer spending real time with people, actually speaking to them with their voices, looking at the other person whilst actually communicating, having eye contact – modern friendships  now seem to be all about texting, liking, poking, commenting, pinging, tagging, #’s, tweets, – everything to do with real, genuine, proper friendship, seems to have turned into what status can I write to get the most likes or comments?  It even appears that people are now spending more of their time virtually, with people they have never met, possibly never will meet but they are an online friend or follower, they are spending more time ‘liking’ people’s statuses, but when in the flesh, they don’t have the time of day for them – is this really what friendship has come to?

 Maybe I am showing my age, but take me back to the days when friendships were real.  You met up with your friends, talked, spent time together, wrote letters, sent cards in the post, spoke on the telephone.  Don’t get me wrong, I am glad we have modern technology, I’m glad I can text my friends whenever and wherever.  I’m glad we have platforms such as Facebook so we can stay in touch with friends further away,  but please don’t let these things replace real and true proper friendship.

Given how difficult the last few months have been, I was glad of our family decision to take a month off Facebook!!  I took the opportunity to do some life laundry – because I think we should do this every now and then.  I realised how much time is wasted, scrawling up and down the screen, looking at what other people are doing, not necessarily ‘liking’ because they aren’t really my friend, they are just someone on my Facebook list!  I realised that the only people I missed reading about, were in my life without the online reminder.  My real friends wrote to me, texted me, met up with me and were still in touch.  There was no ‘liking’, no ‘poking’, no ‘commenting’……just good old fashioned friendship, as it used to be!

I took the plunge to unfriend people, people who I know don’t consider me their friend, people who I have literally no contact with from one day to the next, with or without Facebook, I decided to get my ‘friend list’ back to how it used to be…..people who I know are my friends, people who I have contact with, people who I know want the best for me, and I for them.  I’m sure I am not the only one who wants their Facebook profile to be something that is ‘extra’ to my friendships, I want to be able to share my photos with my friends who are miles away and I don’t see very often, I want my status updates to be something that (as my son would say) keeps the banter going until we see each other again, that it really is just a way of staying in touch and up to date.  I don’t want Facebook friends to replace real friends and at the same time, if you are only a Facebook friend, are you really my friend?

Life is hard enough without wondering if people are really your friend or not!

Best friends don’t just happen – they are friends that have taken the time to nurture their relationship.  They realise the importance of the friendship and take the steps to keep it going!  They don’t happen overnight and if you don’t take the time and actually put into the friendship, but keep taking from it, it won’t last.  But that is friendship full stop isn’t it?

“Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?”

Amos 3:3 (NKJV)

You don’t just sit down with someone and say can I be your best friend? do you – best friends happen when your friendship has really taken off – when your friend is there for you no matter what, they have your back, they encourage you – not discourage, they don’t judge you, they love you, they want the best for you, they speak the truth to you (even if you don’t want to hear it), they know you well enough to know what to say – if anything at all,  a best friend helps you to be the best person you can be – BUT, a best friend relationship is not all about what your friend does for you, is it –  it’s two-way, reciprocal…isn’t it?

“As iron sharpens iron,
So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend”.

Proverbs 27:17

“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.  You are My friends if you do whatever I command you”.

John 15:12-14 (NKJV)

Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful”

Proverbs 27:6 (NKJV)

So, not only on National Best Friends Day, but every day be thankful for the friends you have and even more so when you know you can call them your best friend too.

 

Sometimes we forget!

Where would we be without FB acting like our personal diary eh?!

Yesterday, throughout the morning I kept thinking that something is happening today.  I couldn’t think what it was and then FB reminded me that on this day 5 years ago, we moved out of our house and all our belongings went into storage…..and so the journey began!

Today, FB reminded me of this blog post I’d written a year later to the day.

How is it that on reading it again today, I can honestly say that whether it’s four years on or five years on – the lesson remains the same?!!

Sometimes we forget that we aren’t in control of situations, God is.  We forget that we don’t have to know all the answers, God does.  We forget that we aren’t going alone, He is with us and we forget to trust Him.  We forget that it isn’t our timescale and that God’s timing is always perfect!

Sometimes we need to remind ourselves not to forget.

~♥~

I do like it when I find myself reading something that is highly appropriate to the day!  When I woke up a year ago today, I did my usual daily reading plan and actually remember kind of laughing!  I guess I really was chuckling to myself simply because something clicked, something dawned on me…..I was given some sort of answer!

“our God faithfully cares for us in numerous ways. In the different seasons of life, we find ourselves facing all sorts of challenges—but we do not face them on our own. As Christ said, “Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Matt. 6:8).

In our time of need—whether spiritual, emotional, or physical—we can depend on the faithful care and concern of the Father. He knows us so well that He chooses the perfect time to give us what is best and to send reassurance of His care. “Not one [sparrow] is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear . . . ; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Luke 12:6-7)”.

It wasn’t actually the above that made me chuckle…..it was just the words added at the very bottom of the page that said

“God’s timing is always right”

A year ago today, was it the end of the beginning of our journey, or the beginning of the end of it……when we didn’t know what we were doing, where we were going, we had no money, no nothing and right up until the last minute anything was possible!  Reading that God’s timing is always right in the early hours of the morning we were moving out of our home was to me, almost like God was saying to me, don’t you believe Me, don’t you believe that I am in control of your life?

And so it carries on doesn’t it….well, life carries on…..the days go by…..the days turn into months and the months end up being a year!  Every day that goes by, in theory, is a step further along the path isn’t it?  Every day that goes by, life is carrying on…it can even seem as though life is carrying on for everyone else but you….like you’ve got stuck, maybe even left behind!

I read a quote the other day that said you don’t need water to feel like you’re drowning and thought really how true that is!  When I was running yesterday I saw this little sign and thought it was quite funny…..I just saw the words Danger and you may be trapped – I thought it was such a stupid sized sign if they really did want to warn you about danger!Teignbridge-20130504-00951

It made me think that however far along our path we are, there are still times when it feels like the water levels are rising, things are trying to trap us, to pull us down….drown us and it made me think of the verses in Isaiah 43 where it says

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not pass over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour;”

I guess if there is anything I have learned from this last year is that whatever happens, whatever I come up against, whatever things are trying to pull me down, keep me from moving on, I am not going through it alone and that I am not going to drown!   Oh, and that God’s timing is always right!

H♥ME

Image result for home sweet home image

And so the day came, after about 40 years….my parents were moving house!

The place where I lived for much of my childhood was not going to be a part of my life anymore.

Friends asked me how I felt and to be honest, I said it’s only a house but then over the last couple of days, I started to think that actually it is a bit sad because we will never go there ever again!

The place that has always been there, even though I have moved a few times since moving out….the place that has always been there when I have gone home.

We were all wondering what the new house would be like, my children wondered what on earth they would do without the house their grandparents had always lived in, it was not only my childhood home, it was the home from home my children were always excited to visit and visits were never long enough for them!

It has to be said, I think everyone was excited as they explored the new house and garden.  It didn’t take long for the youngest child to ask if it was wrong that they had forgotten about the other house already?!

As we all sat around the familiar dining table eating – the only thing that was different, was the location of the table!

Nothing had changed – this was home.

Everyone I love was together.

Adults were pottering around, murmuring quietly about this and that, others were laughing, children were in full ‘banter’ mode….nothing had changed.  The house may have changed but nothing else had.

If  a stranger had been standing at a window peaking in, aside from all the boxes, they would never have known that this house had only just been moved into.

Home isn’t the location is it?

Our lives are filled with days that are filled with moments – all those moments make up the memories that we carry through life with us and I was thinking about the home I grew up in….yes, it is the ‘home’ I grew up in but the home is not the house is it.  We may live in a house, but it is not the house that makes the home…..home is the people we share it with!  When the house is filled with those you l♥ve, then you have a home, don’t you?

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My people will live in peaceful dwelling places,
    in secure homes,
    in undisturbed places of rest.”

Isaiah 32:18

“For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.”

Hebrews 3:4

2016…I wasn’t prepared!

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately – I guess the end of another year tends to bring that about.  However, this year has been different.  I have had so much going on, so much thinking has taken place but I have had a complete inability to write.  I think mainly because of all the situations and happenings that have gone on (there comes a point when you know you just have to leave your thoughts where they are and keep them to yourself!).

~♥~

It’s odd – you know when someone asks you, where do you see yourself in 5 years time?  Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

Well, this Christmas marks 5 years from the Christmas that changed things completely for me.  If someone had asked me back then, where do you see yourself in 5 years time? I would never in a million years have seen myself where I am now, and I never would have believed that 5 years would have gone by soooo quickly!

It’s mad how life can be so different yet some things are just the same!

~♥~

When I started to look back over 2016, I was convinced it had been a terrible year –  annus horribilis as the Queen once said!  but actually, as I sit here now, looking back through the photos, I have been reminded of the good times, funny moments, family days out, family holidays, parties, special occasions, embarrassing moments, sad moments, exceedingly happy moments – I can see that whilst it hasn’t been great all the time, there has been far more good stuff going on and if I’m not careful, I can let the bad stuff overshadow it, can’t I?

 I knew that 2016 was going to be a tough year, simply because my first baby was going to be leaving home, I knew I was going to be devastated but I wasn’t prepared for just how emotional it would all be!  Aside from that, I wasn’t prepared for all the other ‘tough stuff to deal with’, that was to come my way this year……I wasn’t prepared for the complete and utter sadness I would feel when a local homeless man died, I wasn’t prepared for just how much it would hit me.  I wasn’t prepared for the feeling of betrayal by people who were meant to be friends, finding myself and those close to me being blamed for other people’s issues.  One of the hardest things this year for me, has been keeping my mouth shut!  I have so wanted to shout from the roof tops, it’s not my fault!  I wasn’t prepared for the complete and utter lack of ‘structure’ and ‘routine’ to my days – it took me a while to ‘get’ that this was it, this was my life now…..it was up to me to work out what I should be doing on what day, who I should be seeing, who I should be helping…or not!  I wasn’t prepared for how completely draining some people can be – I wasn’t prepared to have to choose to stop helping someone because no matter what I said or did, I couldn’t fix them – only God could do that.   I wasn’t prepared for how difficult it would be to not have any wages coming in – but then I knew we had everything we needed and more, I guess I learned more so this year, that what we think we need and what we do actually need….God knows and He provides.

~♥~

Looking on the brighter side of things…….I wasn’t prepared to find myself becoming good friends with people, double my age….and older!   I wasn’t prepared to find these were the people I spent much of my time with.  I wasn’t prepared to find that people genuinely cared for me and my family, that they really love us and pray for us everyday.  I wasn’t prepared to find that some of the best days of this year were spent just sitting, chatting and spending time with people who aren’t related but have become family to me.  I wasn’t prepared for the kindness of people, who popped something in an envelope so my family could have an extra treat when we were away.  I wasn’t prepared for the generosity of a friend who surprised me with a gift that they knew I wanted but couldn’t buy….just because they wanted me to have it!  I wasn’t prepared for the surprise of an amazing gift of a much needed holiday in a few weeks time.  I wasn’t prepared to find that the majority of my time would be spent doing things for and with other people, with rarely a minute to myself, yet somehow managing to survive!  I wasn’t prepared for how much my children would accept that this is it and just go with the flow!

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I guess I just wasn’t prepared for the reality of being a (full-time) pastor’s wife!  Unfortunately, I wasn’t prepared by being given a ‘how to be’ book to read!  I wasn’t prepared to find that suddenly my life wasn’t just me, my husband, my kids…..it was all of that and so much more.

So I can honestly say, if you had asked me back then, where do you see yourself in 5 years time?  I would never ever have suggested that this is where I would be!  2016 has possibly been one of the toughest years of my life but it hasn’t finished me off!  If anything, it has made me even stronger, and more determined to be the best wife, mama, friend, daughter, sister – oh, and pastor’s wife!  

~♥~

 Hmm, I have read my intentions for 2016 and wonder if I achieved them!  Did I live making the best of each day?  Did I do more reading, writing, running, taking photos?  Have I got to the end of 2016 and am I surprised at how much I have done, how many places I have been to??

I guess I will have to own up to having allowed the tough stuff to cloud the good stuff but on closer inspection…..2016 has been filled with great stuff!

blog-year

2016, the year I turned 44 –  my husband took me for coffee high up in the Dolomite mountains, I waved one of my children off on a coach to stay with a family in another country, became that mum in wellie boots watching her son play rugby, became that mum that sits in the car outside reading while her daughter has a piano lesson, started wearing glasses for reading (ssh, and for threading needles!), ran nearly 333 miles, went to pilates, had 2 of my girls taking piano exams, had a park picnic with my oldest friend – just like the old days 25+ years ago but now with our children!, my second child passed her driving theory test, I took my eldest to vote for the first time and put my X in the box for the Brexit vote, had the French exchange girl come to stay for a week, had the annual family camping trip, had a 3 night family trip to London, had my first proper filling, rekindled my love of knitting!  knitted a blanket for a friend’s new baby, knitted a squidgy out of shape bunny rabbit for someone – everyone should have a ‘rad’,  packed my first baby and her rad off to university expecting her home any minute only to find she has settled into life in her new town/church and Christian Union – resulting in overcoming my phobia of video calls so we can Skype (thank goodness for modern technology eh!), have been amazed at the flexibility of my youngest child who never stops dancing/stretching/bending/doing the splits, been on several road trips with #2 daughter to university open days, taken #3 daughter to her dance exam, my not so little boy is now towering over me and became rugby player of the year, #2 daughter is taller than me now too, been to my first ever real live football match, completed the One Year Bible, read a few books but not nearly enough!, taken loads of photos, completed ‘3 things to be thankful for today’ every night, had a month off FB….and dare I say it – survived!, went to Gloucester Cathedral to see the grave of Edward II, went around Venice by water taxi, had a medical, had a Wimbledon tea towel brought home for me, bought ‘mother & son’ West Ham t-shirts, watched all of Anne of Green Gables,  saw The Lady of Shallott at Tate Britain, visited Dartmoor Prison Museum, watched The Lord of The Rings Trilogy for the first time, I ran beside the sea for the first time, took my son to watch the rugby on the big screen at Sandy Park, had breakfast at Ikea, and so much more….. after a brilliant family Christmas I’ve started to look forward to next year’s already!

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We have exciting times ahead of us, so to all of you travelling along the road with us, thank you for being there this past year and we look forward to what’s in store next year…… 2016, I wasn’t prepared for you but after all the lessons you’ve brought me – 2017, I think I am better prepared!!!

~♥~

“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 3:13-14

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28

World Kindness Day

Image result for world kindness day

Apparently 13 November is World Kindness Day so, Happy World Kindness Day!

On this day, people are supposed to change the world with a simple act of kindness toward another fellow human being…it is a day that encourages individuals to overlook boundaries, race and religion (Gulf News).

Personally, I’m sure that this should be a daily thing…not just something kept for 13 November but hey, at least people recognise the need for kindness!

It would be great if everyone could see the benefit of kindness, everyday, unfortunately it seems to miss some people out completely…..I can’t make anyone be kind but I know that I can be kind and I don’t have to leave it until 13 November every year to do so!

So what is kindness then….kindness is love in action.

We don’t have to look far do we, to see the need around us – there are people everywhere crying out for someone just to give them the time of day, a kind word, a smile, a hello, good morning as you pass by on your way somewhere, speak kind words to everyone you meet, hold a door open, helping someone carry a pushchair up some stairs, helping carry boxes/shopping, offering to do some shopping even, buying a coffee for someone, making someone a cuppa, baking a cake, doing someone’s ironing, giving someone a lift somewhere, sending an unexpected card/note, offering to babysit, doing the school run for someone, helping someone with the job……the list is endless.

There are so many ways that we can show a little bit of kindness to everyone we meet.  Rather than saying hello and moving swiftly on, say hello and stay and listen to how that person really is.  Instead of saying I’d love to stay and chat – stay and chat!  Rather than race up the stairs ahead of the crowds, slow down and help someone before they get crushed in the crowd!  Instead of keeping yourself to yourself, put yourself out there and offer to do something for someone….better still, do something for them and surprise them with it!  Make them a cake, a gift even, write a note, buy some flowers….it doesn’t even have to cost money, what it really will cost you, is your time.

Take the time to be kind…..everyday and to everyone you meet.

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things.”

Galations 5:22-23

“Love is patient and kind”

1 Corinthians 13:4

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Ephesians 4:32

“Kindness is the language that the blind can see and the deaf can hear.”

Mark Twain

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted”.

Aesop

“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.  The greatest work that kindes does to others is that it makes them kind themselves”.

Amelia Earhart

“When you’re a kid it’s people’s cruelty that makes you cry, then when you’re an adult it’s their kindness”.

Glen Duncan, The Last Werewolf

“Constant kindness can accomplish much.  As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.”
Albert Schweitzer
 ♥
“How you make others feel about themselves says a whole lot about you.  So, treat people right.  Kindness is a gift you can afford to give”

(re-posted from 2014)

You’re beautiful….it’s true!

(reposted)

I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, but how to get the thoughts out there, that’s a whole other matter!

The conversation has been popping up a lot lately, between us girls at home.

It seems we are constantly bombarded with people telling us, adverts telling us, magazines telling us – telling us to just use this product and then we will feel better about ourself….just use that product and then we will look better than ever before….just use the other product and we will find we have the confidence to do anything we want….just use this even better product and all your wrinkles and stretchmarks will be gone, in seconds – you know what I’m saying – all the adverts and posters that seem to tell us that all our problems will be fixed with a little magic potion…they don’t seem to tell you that it isn’t a permanent fix, that you need to keep re-taking that potion or keep re-using the product.

The first time I was pregnant, I remember the day I came across a strange mark on my oh so huge belly!  I didn’t have a clue what it was and thought it looked like someone had tried to remove a nail from me with a claw hammer!  When it dawned on me that I had my first ever stretchmark, I was partly gutted and partly proud of it…weird eh!  Gutted because people told me I would never get rid of them, and I was scarred for life but proud of it because in some strange way, it marked me as a mama…..okay, I wasn’t prepared for how many stretchmarks would come with that first one but to this day, I couldn’t be without them because they came as part of the package that is motherhood!  So many people would have us believe that they are an eyesore, they need to be got rid of and true, I don’t show mine to the world, but why be made to feel ashamed of them, embarrassed by them, be made to feel that they are something oh so wrong?

As a mama of three girls, believe me, I know the score when it comes to girls.  I know about ‘competition’.  I know not wanting to be the one who wasn’t included, the one with something ‘not right’,  the ‘ugly’ one.  I know not wanting to be the one ‘not picked’ because my face wasn’t right, my height wasn’t right, my weight wasn’t right, my hairdo wasn’t right.  I know about wanting to be in ‘the popular group’.  I know about just wanting to fit in – I know….I guess I know because I too was a girl growing up who went through all those issues too.  I know and actually, it isn’t only girls that feel that way, girls and boys alike have that deep down desire, need even, to know – that they fit in, that they make the grade, pass the test – that they are acceptable….that they are accepted just as they are.

Now I am a mum, I listen to my children telling me tales of who said what, who did what, who is in ‘the popular group’ – and more to the point, who isn’t…..I listen and I question.  How can children be so horrible to each other and about each other, has it always been so?  Have children always been so nasty?  Where do they learn it?  Who tells them that it is okay to treat other children like this?

I guess the point I am trying to get across, is that I know growing up is hard and can in fact be quite horrible.  I know that children can be cruel to each other and that children can grow up to become adults with many scars from the years gone by.

I guess until I had children of my own, I didn’t realise just how important it was that each of them, individually, knew that they were loved, that they were special, that they were beautiful….that whatever happened, they made the grade, reached the mark, that there was nothing about them that needed changing…..just as they are, they are just right.  

I know I’m probably a bit harsh when I hear that someone has been horrible to my child or about them.  Tell me a mama that isn’t on the attack when they hear their child’s tales of woe – there’s nothing worse for a mama than to hear that someone has been horrible to her child, been cruel to them,  found fault with them.   A baby isn’t just another person that she brought into the world, that baby is a part of her very being – when someone wounds her baby, they wound her.

 I remember when I first had a baby girl, I read how important it was, NOT to let her grow up hearing you constantly talking about being unhappy with your weight and needing to go on a diet, NOT to hear you saying you were fat, NOT to see you looking at yourself in the mirror and finding fault with yourself……children imitate so be careful what you are doing and saying in front of them.  I guess for me, I really took that to heart – I don’t even remember owning bathroom scales!  I know I must have been doing something right when she came home from school telling me a friend of hers was going on a diet – she was only in primary school!

I have made it my mission as a mama, ( I guess partly this stems from remembering the cruelty of other children when I was a child), to make sure that they absolutely know they are loved, wanted, thought about, planned, they are not a mistake…they were always meant to be.  Before they were even conceived, they were thought of, by their Creator – for some reason, He decided I was the mama for them, and they were the babies for me….way before whenever, they were loved and known by Someone far greater than their mama.

“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb”

Jeremiah 1:5 (NLT)

When God gives you a child, they aren’t yours to keep, they are entrusted to you, to bring up….in the best possible way!  Granted there are always going to be things you wish had been done differently, things you hope haven’t left great open wounds or scars.  If you can bring up your children to know that they are precious (I don’t like that word, but there is no other word suitable!)….they are individual, God created them to be exactly who they are, not like someone else, exactly who they are.  The features they have that someone else draws attention to, are a part of what makes them who they are….and they are unique.  There is no one else exactly the same as them, and they are not exactly the same as anyone else – God created them to be who they are.  They are His choice and He loves them.  He knows every hair on their head.

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
 You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed”.

Psalm 139:13-16 (NLT)

“And the very hairs on your head are all numbered”.

Luke 12:7 (NLT)

People need to bring up their children to know that true beauty is found on the inside, not on the outside, that in the end, true beauty is found in who you are, the kind of person you are and not what you look like, not your appearance.  Real confidence is not found in a bottle, in an easy-fix solution, real confidence is found in knowing that you are a child of God, that you are loved and accepted beyond measure by your Heavenly Father.

“Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience”.

Colossians 3:12 (NLT)

 You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God”.

1 Peter 3:4 (NLT)

 “Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
    but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised”.

Proverbs 31:30 (NLT)

Happy World Smile Day

(re-posted)

Today, the first Friday in October, is World Smile Day.

I’ve taken to looking on the internet to find out what day is it today? and I quite liked the thought that it is World Smile Day.

When I was a child, I seem to remember there being a plaque up that said,  if you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours.

Over the years I have often thought about that plaque!

If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours.

But we don’t tend to, do we?

We tend to rush around in our own little world, doing our own thing, busy, busy….smile?  Nah, we’re too busy to smile!

Smile at someone…someone you don’t even know?  Oh, I don’t think so, do you?

Can you imagine?!

How do we show ourselves to be different to other people?

How do people see that we care?

How do we let them see that they are not alone?

Maybe in our corner of the world where we are so busy, busy, busy…maybe we could just slow down,  start to notice the people around us, the ones we usually race past – start smiling at them!

Sounds silly doesn’t it…but if you smile at someone, you never know, you just might make their day a bit brighter….you may end up putting a smile on their face and they in turn may end up putting a smile on someone else’s face…..and so it goes on!

You never know….one day a smile…..then one day a hello….then one day a how are you?….then one day you realise you’ve got a friend and to think, it all started with that one smile!

You may not think you need another friend, but who knows, maybe someone else needs a friend…and it’s you?

~♥~

Although today is World Smile Day, maybe we could try to smile everyday, not just today.

Maybe we could make a point of slowing down, looking and seeing who is around us, noticing what’s going on, seeing who needs a smile in their direction.

And bonus…there are ‘benefits’ to smiling too – smiling is contagious, it lowers stress and anxiety, it boosts your immune system, it lowers your blood pressure, it is a natural drug – releasing endorphins, makes you look younger and  did you know it takes more muscles to frown than to smile, so you’re better off smiling eh?!

So, set yourself a challenge….SMILE!  Smile wherever you go, smile at whoever you see, just smile.

Get yourself a reputation….be known as that person who is always smiling….the one who smiles at everyone.  Better that than being known as the one who always scowls at everyone, surely?

So, today on World Smile Day…..do an act of kindness.  Make one person smile 🙂

“A happy heart makes the face cheerful”

Proverbs 15:13

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