Saturday 30 April 2016

Remembering I'm a Grown-up

It's funny how some things make you want to retreat back into yourself. You'd think that by the ripe old-age of 42 years and 257 days that I'd have it firmly in mind that I'm a fully fledged adult nowadays. But not so, I've been in London at an event today and there seem to be a few things that I've got mastered, like eating alone in a restaurant and feeling safe walking through London but then there are others that still give me the jitters; like rocking up at a blogging event and being fearful that you won't know anyone.

About a month ago HP invited me to an event in London. It was showcasing their Instant Ink service and I was keen to attend as not only did it sound like a fabulous chilled afternoon with spa treatments and afternoon tea but I've also used the instant ink service for the last two years and I love it. You'd never think that ink for your printer would be something that could excite you but it does. It makes a mass amount of difference to never run out of ink and to be able to say yes every time the kids ask me to print off colouring or to do their homework and what does this cost me? A mere £1.99 per month for 50 full colour pages.

Thursday 28 April 2016

Reasons to be Cheerful... School Reports, Banana Bread and Generous Hearts

Good morning friends, How are you all this week?  Mine has been a busy one so far but then I'm expecting a wonderfully chilled and fun weekend.

Here is what I am thankful for -

*  JJ's superb report from school. A couple of weeks back we got his first report from Secondary school and it confirmed what we already knew, that he is a very smart young man. This evening my husband and I are going to the school for his first proper parents evening and I'm super thankful that we do not have to worry about what we are going to hear there.

*  My girls generous hearts. At our Sunday celebration service all the children were encouraged to paint and just to allow their creativity to flow and to see what they produced during the time the rest of us were worshipping in song. They both painted a little canvas and then were encouraged to pray and see who they felt compelled to gift the artwork to. They each choose members of our community and I was especially pleased that Miss M choose a beautiful young woman N, as her father had passed away a short while ago and Miss E's painting was about God's peace.

*  Banana bread that I didn't have to bake. How cool is it that JJ now enjoys cooking and baking enough that he can just get on with it if I help him set up? Last Saturday he made chocolate brownies to be sold at church to help raise funds for a youth camp this summer and then last night he was chocolate chip banana bread on his own for all the family to enjoy. It is so important to work with our kids, train them up and then empower them to do these jobs safely.

*  A helpful husband. I've been invited up to London on Friday by HP Instant Ink for a bit of a pamper and then an afternoon tea with some other bloggers at a posh Kensington hotel. My girls are on inset day but my super hubby is looking after the girls so I can go long and have some precious me time.

It's then sure to be a good weekend as we have a free day Saturday to do all those little jobs, like homework and we are taking out a minibus full of volunteers on Sunday for some fun at a May Day festival. Then of course Monday is a bank holiday and that means community day here, where all 90 odd of us will eat too much, play games and generally have a day full of frivolity.

This week I am linking up with Lakes Single Mum who is hosting Reasons to be Cheerful and then as of next week it is back with me for the month of May.  I hope to see you join in.

Have a fabulous week, Mich xx

R2BC at Mummy from the Heart
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Tuesday 26 April 2016

Talking Stranger Danger

Stay Safe Stamp Image from Shutterstock

When I was a kid at school, this was the talk that happened at least once a year.  The stranger danger talk, the warning about lone dodgy looking men waiting outside school in cars, offering you sweets if you got in.

But how realistic is this and how often are children abducted or abused because they were approached in this way? Surely, danger is just danger?  A person does not have to be a stranger to be dangerous to your child. We know that - fathers abuse, mothers abuse, neighbours abuse, grandparents abuse. It is a really sad fact of life. According to 90% of child abusers are known to the child in some way and 68% are abused by a family member (Source).

Gosh, those statistics make me want to be physically sick. I'm now sat here wondering why on earth I googled on this subject but I can't just push it under the carpet and pretend it doesn't happen. The findings from the NSPCC state there are over 50,000 children identified in the UK as needing protection from abuse and that really makes me realise just how serious this problem is. Sadly, the true picture is probably many, many times worse than this as they believe for every identified child there is another eight suffering in silence.

Friday 22 April 2016

Realising They Have to Make Their Own Mistakes

Isn’t it a hard truth to face, that we have to let our children make their own mistakes?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve made so many mistakes in life. Some of them pretty big ones and I’d love to just do a brain dump or even sit there for a few hours (read days) and chat through my mistakes and the consequences of them if it could help my children not to have to go through the same painful experiences I’ve had.

But it just doesn’t work like that. Those painful experiences have also been my learning experiences when I have grown, changed and learnt resilience. I pray all my children learn Godly resilience and are able to stand firm in their relationship with God and get through whatever trial life has thrown at them.

Life throws up new trials every day, whatever age we are. Yesterday has been an interesting one with my 8-year-old twin girls and I won’t go into too much detail but my husband and I had to have a serious chat with them and make them realise that their actions have consequences and that by disobeying my direct instructions they were putting themselves at risk.

I think they got the message as we had some graphic conversations (at a level an 8-year-old can understand) and I continue to pray for their protection and for them to grow in wisdom and obedience.

Once they were in bed I sat down to do my daily bible reading and yet again I was really captured by the devotional insight written by Max Lucado. Today it was based around the verse from Luke 15:11-32. Why don’t you read this story, commonly known as the Prodigal Son? It might be that you have read it dozens of times before or it might be that it is your first time but it was so reassuring to me to read God writing about our children making their own mistakes and coming back from them.

Then Jesus said, “A man had two sons. The younger son said to his father, ‘Give me my share of the property.’ So the father divided the property between his two sons. Then the younger son gathered up all that was his and traveled far away to another country. There he wasted his money in foolish living. After he had spent everything, a time came when there was no food anywhere in the country, and the son was poor and hungry. So he got a job with one of the citizens there who sent the son into the fields to feed pigs. The son was so hungry that he wanted to eat the pods the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. When he realized what he was doing, he thought, ‘All of my father’s servants have plenty of food. But I am here, almost dying with hunger. I will leave and return to my father and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against God and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son, but let me be like one of your servants.”’ So the son left and went to his father.

“While the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt sorry for his son. So the father ran to him and hugged and kissed him. 21 The son said, ‘Father, I have sinned against God and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Hurry! Bring the best clothes and put them on him. Also, put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get our fat calf and kill it so we can have a feast and celebrate. My son was dead, but now he is alive again! He was lost, but now he is found!’ So they began to celebrate.

“The older son was in the field, and as he came closer to the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. So he called to one of the servants and asked what all this meant. The servant said, ‘Your brother has come back, and your father killed the fat calf, because your brother came home safely.’ The older son was angry and would not go in to the feast. So his father went out and begged him to come in. But the older son said to his father, ‘I have served you like a slave for many years and have always obeyed your commands. But you never gave me even a young goat to have at a feast with my friends. But your other son, who wasted all your money on prostitutes, comes home, and you kill the fat calf for him!’ The father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. We had to celebrate and be happy because your brother was dead, but now he is alive. He was lost, but now he is found.’”

I recognise so many of the personality traits of this younger son in one of my children and I do worry they will go off the rails. I can’t understand why they want so much more than life is already providing them with. Where does this sense of being disgruntled come from and whoever said they could expect everything they desire?

I don’t know the answers to my own questions and frankly, I don’t think it is really useful to keep meditating on them. Two of my children are happy with their lot in life and one of them feels that everyone else has it better. Have we parented them differently? No, I don’t think so. I just have to accept that each person is as God intended them and know that these tendencies to rebel and question everything will be used for good by the Lord.

My job is to pray and give thanks, he was quite clear when He told me this the other day, and who I am to argue with Him who knows everything?

So I pray for your children and I pray for mine that whatever mistakes they do make, they know we will always be there for them, supporting them, forgiving them, and welcoming them with open arms just like the father in the story told in Luke did.

With blessings, Mich x

Thursday 21 April 2016

Coming Full Circle - I'm Back! #R2BC

Good morning friends. It feels real good to be sharing this post today. I feel like I have a zest for blogging and sharing again, not just for the sake of it you understand, but when I have something I want to say.  And I can say for sure that each Thursday at 7am will be one of those sharing times for the foreseeable future.

Why?  Because Reasons to be Cheerful is coming home again for a while. I started the #R2BC linky back in early 2011 as a project that I would dedicate a year to. Each week (on a Friday back then, I had forgotten that) I would share three simple things that I was grateful for, those that were making me cheerful and I would encourage others to do the same. Of course back then #R2BC was one of only about 20 regular parenting blogging linkies around and it was very popular with 80-100 people linking up each week but many things have changed and now #R2BC is a small but loved community.

I absolutely love every one of the bloggers who still link up to this weekly feature. So many of them were around in 2011 when I started this and have probably shared as many of maybe even more times than I have on the subject of gratitude (I currently have 208 posts on Mummy from the Heart with this tag).We all know that acknowledging your blessings makes an amazing difference in everyday life.

Back in the day a linky wasn't started to make you popular or to help your blog rise through the rankings. It was started because you found a community of bloggers who shared a passion with you. The passion of the #R2BC community is that we know the power of positive thinking and gratitude.

Stupidly I lost sight of this passion. After running #R2BC every week for three years I started to get weary and felt really lost after my life-changing move to East Sussex, so I decided to put down #R2BC and make some changes. The super Becky at Lakes Single Mum and Jo at Ojo's World picked up the baton and carried #R2BC on and it has now been running for over five years, which is pretty good going.

So how some #R2BC has come home, you might be wondering? Well, you may have read that I lost my joy in December due to some crap on my blog but a blogging break, time with God and some perspective has done wonders and I'm feeling good again. My first thought for a post was of course to do an #R2BC one and that is what has bought me back here as Becky explained she is hosting alone right now as Jo is having a break. So we are going to take turns, a month on and a month off to host #R2BC and you'll have me back in May and guess what?  I am so excited, it is like returning to a very old and loved friend.

Here is what I said about #R2BC when I launched it -
Do you know what I believe are two of the fundamental keys to happiness? One, is to choose to be happy and the other is to want what you already have! Endless seeking of things, money, status, time or anything else will never fulfil you! This is where the gratitude comes in.... 
So do you fancy joining us?  I can't promise you 100 comments (or even 10) if you join in but I can guarantee that you will find a community of bloggers who genuinely care about each other and that by counting your blessings, or ticking off your reasons to be cheerful - however you want to phrase it - you WILL feel better. There are dozens of people who will testify that joining in with #R2BC helped them during a tough time. I know it lifted some from depression, got others through a painful break-up, helped after miscarriage and for me it found me some superb friends.

Have a blessed week, Mich xx

Becky is the host this week, so hop over and join in....

R2BC at Mummy from the Heart
If you like what you have read and want to stay up-to-date then subscribe by email for free and receive blog posts directly to your in-box - just click the link Subscribe to Mummy From The Heart... by Email or perhaps you like to keep all your blog reading in one place, if that is the case you can follow me on BlogLovin too!Follow on Bloglovin

Saturday 16 April 2016

Be still and know I am God

As I sat in the prayer centre the other day with my daily bible I felt God lift my hand and write me a letter but once I had finished I knew for sure that this letter isn’t just for me, it is for us all. So here it is shared with you. Take heart ..

Hey Michelle,
Relax, don’t worry.
I’ve got your back.
You’re mine,
I won’t allow harm to you.
You must know who I am?

I’m God. The big I am.
There is no-one above me.
I am the name above all names.
I love you.
So why are you fretting?

Just relax and allow it to wash over you.
Be still and know I am God.

I have great plans for you.
Plans for good, not to harm you.
They may challenge you.
They may push you into areas unknown,
But it is all for good.

You are mine,
and one day we’ll be together for all eternity.
Until then – trust me,
Rest in me and be encouraged.
For I am good and my love endures forever.

Go on, do it, whatever it is, I have confidence in you.

Love your Father.

So friends now is the time. Not tomorrow, next week, or next year. Now. He has confidence in us, let's make these changes we need to.

I’d love to hear how you are getting on and really happy to pray for you.

Be blessed, Mich x

How are our Hotter School Shoes standing up to JJ's Tests?

Back in January JJ was gifted a pair of men's Venture shoes from our local Hotter shoe shop in Eastbourne. We wrote a review of the enjoyable buying experience and I said I'd update you all on how these shoes are lasting.

JJ is quite a typical 12 year old boy, except for the fact that he is the size of a 15 year old and has size 9 feet. He is also very heavy footed and this means he has been going through school shoes far too quickly and now due to his man-sized feet they are costing us £40 or £50 each time. For this reason I asked Hotter to allow us to review some of their men's shoes to see how they would hold up to JJ's regular antics.

He has now had his shoes for three months and they are still wearing very well. Within a couple of weeks the leather had softened up and he found them like a glove to wear. Yes they get scuffed and look filthy at times but with a clean and polish they come up looking good as new.

How JJ's shoes arrive home from school
I didn't realise that JJ had taken me quite so seriously when I asked him to put them through their paces and give them a really good try out. Apparently he even went wading in the sea at the youth club treasure hunt the other week and yes these shoes with GORETEX technology really are waterproof (thankfully). But then he already knew that as his daily walk to the school bus is often down a flooded back road and he wades straight through the mud and water.

Returning home sopping wet

I asked JJ if anything could be improved in regard to his shoes and his only comment was that he would have liked longer laces, as there is hardly enough length in the supplied ones to tie them, let alone do a double bow, which is what he feels he needs. After about six weeks one of the laces did snap, so we have since replaced them but that was no issue as the laces are just a cheap consumable part of the shoes.

In general we are very happy with his Hotter men's shoes and we will happily invest in them again as shoes for school. Thanks so much Hotter.

July 2016 Update:  JJ's Hotter shoes lasted him right to the end of the term and I'd be sending him back to school in them if it wasn't for the fact that his feet have grown again!

Disclosure: we were gifted these shoes for the purpose of this review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

If you like what you have read and want to stay up-to-date then subscribe by email for free and receive blog posts directly to your in-box - just click the link Subscribe to Mummy From The Heart... by Email or perhaps you like to keep all your blog reading in one place, if that is the case you can follow me on BlogLovin too!Follow on Bloglovin

Thursday 14 April 2016

Things I love.... and am Grateful for...

I've been away for a while and blog topics keep coming to mind but then I do nothing about them, as to be honest I'm quite enjoying staying away from the (self-imposed) pressures of blogging. However, the other day on the long drive home from Spring Harvest I felt compelled to make a list of all the little things that make my heart sing.

You see I felt as if I lost my joy back in December and I havn't been able to re-find it but this time away from blogging has helped immensely and my joy is definitely returning.

So as I copied this list from my email into a blog post tonight, I thought why not make this a Reasons to be Cheerful post and share all the small things that I love and make me grateful to be alive.