Thursday 30 June 2016

Reasons to be Cheerful - So, So Many...

I'm going back to old school ways today. When I started Reasons to be Cheerful back in 2011 it was a simple post detailing three things that had sparked joy in the last week. This week I have no fancy ideas or different takes on the theme, I'm just going to list all the things that have made me smile and say thank you Lord.
  1. I had my eyes tested and they were worried about a torn retina but after further tests all is fine. I did however, end up with my first pair of glasses and I'm picking those up today. They are those above in the photo, what do you think?
  2. A chilled and relaxing weekend with my Mum attending a Christian women's conference
  3. Watching Me Before You at the cinema (yes it was fabulous and yes it will make you cry)
  4. Taking the dog for a walk with my Dad on Sunday morning. One on one time is so special
  5. Enjoying French toast for breakfast with peanut butter and maple syrup - super yum!
  6. Clearing seven bin bags of stuff to the charity shop
  7. Spending time with some friends chatting about blogging and each writing a post in companionable silence.
  8. Having a cuppa and a slice of malteaser cake with a friend I haven't really caught up with for a couple of years
  9. Having a cuppa with another friend and her two gorgeous littlies and being able to be authentic and honest
  10. Being able to talk to JJ about growing up and some of the more difficult stuff, as long as he knows he can always come to me or his Dad I'll be happy
  11. The girls homework being complete for the week
  12. I'm really enjoying the Talyton St George series of books by Cathy Woodman. I do love a good dose of chick flick!
  13. Miss M's birthday present being delivered and she is super excited for Daddy to build her new bedroom furniture
  14. Spending time getting to know some of the new members of our community. This has been a big change over time and I have about 25 new people to meet and make friends with.
Loads and loads of reasons why I am feeling cheerful, why don't you share yours too?

Link up with Becky at Lakes Single Mum who is hosting during June and I'll be back hosting here next week.

Catch you soon. Mich x

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

Tuesday 28 June 2016

Coming Through the Hard Times and Making Space

There is nothing boring about being a Christian, just as you feel happy and settled I find that the Lord has something new in store for you and bang, along comes a new challenge! It’s good of course but it does make for some interesting times, ones that are not perhaps comfortable and not even very welcome.

My husband and I have been having a really challenging time of late, from mid-April to mid-June was particularly awful. I won’t go into all the details but suffice to say we felt at the end of our tether and had to cling on to each other and to the Lord very tightly. It would have been all too easy to just shout ‘No, I can’t go on’ but of course we can go on. He is our rock and we must turn to Him.

“He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken.” Psalm 62:2 (NLT)

Things are looking up now, we are able to see the light at the end of the tunnel and we’ve even booked a summer holiday for us all to look forward to. Truth be told after the time we’ve had we needed to do something different to give us a positive future focal point.

A friend reminded me today that it is in our tribulations we experience the most spiritual growth. It is not when we are sat happy and content on the mountain top that our character evolves and matures but when we are at the bottom of the pit and we are placing our faith in the Lord and saying ‘your will be done’. I can definitely see this for my husband, some good has come from a horrid situation but of course it is harder to discern for myself, so I can’t tell you that I’ve changed but I do trust that good will come.

“These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” 1 Peter 1:7

What I do know is that God is changing things for me. He is clearing the decks and opening up space for the future. I have to admit that I feel a little lazy right now, like a lady of leisure. The only thing I can sense God asking me to do at the moment is to connect with people and to be there for them. It is very nice having coffee and time with lots of different people but it also feels a tad decadent, like I’m slacking off. But I suppose it goes back to the message that God has consistently been giving me for over a decade now – to be and not to do.

Of course in just three short weeks the school summer break will be here and then I’ll be busy with my three children and it is definitely right to focus on them and to make sure they are supported and encouraged over the summer. We have lots planned already and at least two or three weeks with nothing at all. I do throughly believe that kids need the space to break through the boredom barrier, this can be when some of the most fun times happen. JJ will be 13 in the Autumn and I want to ensure that he still acts like a child this summer and has some crazy fun with his sisters.

People keep asking me what I’ll be doing once the summer is over and I have no idea. God has asked me to step back from volunteering at the conference centre where I live, I’ve finished life coaching (for now) and you’ll have noticed I’m blogging far less. So there is time available, I have space to take on new ventures. Just this weekend I am training with TLG follow(Transforming Lives for Good) to become a coach working with a child who is having a tough time at school. I feel so encouraged that from September I’ll be able to help at least one child explore their behaviour and improve their level of learning but that is only a couple of hours a week.

There are plenty more hours in the week to fill but I do feel that it is not my place to do so. If I fill my time just for the sake of it, God won’t have the space to allow His (perfect) plan to work out and thus what I’ll do in September is sit and wait. I’ll take steps to exercise and get outside so I’m looking after my physical wellbeing. I’ll read, pray and soak so I look after my spiritual wellbeing and I’ll invest in my important relationships so I’m looking after my emotional wellbeing. If I manage to do all three of those things in good measure I’ll be looking at a balanced life and a productive and happy Mich.

It sounds good.

Tuesday 21 June 2016

Reviewing Our Camping Equipment from Outdoor World Direct

In just over a month my girls are going on their first official camp as Cub Scouts. They have been going on about this for quite some time and are on countdown, even to the point that they keep convincing me they must try out camping first and are taking over my house one room at a time for indoor camping.

When Outdoor World Direct heard that my twins needed to get kitted out for camping they were very happy to help us out and agreed to send me some items for review. I then spent a couple of enjoyable hours browsing their website and deciding what might work for the girls. I opted for a sleeping bag and self-inflating mat each and choose differing ones so we could really try them out and see where our recommendation would lie.

There is loads of choice on the Outdoor World Direct site and I found it easy to navigate as the menus are clearly set out. There also appears to be loads of good deals, with discounts off many everyday essentials for camping and outdoor fun.

Saturday 18 June 2016

Streamlining my Life the KonMari way

Folded clothes in a Drawer from Shutterstock

Earlier this week I was having coffee with about eight friends, we had met with the specific intention to discuss the KonMari way of decluttering and streamlining your home and life. I had no idea what I was letting myself in for if I am honest. I've heard of Marie Kondo, the Japanese Organisational Consultant who has termed her way of streamlining as the 'KonMari' way but I knew nothing of her and her methods.

I was offered the book to read in advance of the session and given links to YouTube videos and various websites but I avoided them all. Not because I'm burying my head in the sand as I am a terrible hoarder and have a house that needs KonMaring but because I'm pretty organized. I regularly gut rooms, I get a real sense of satisfaction about drawers that are divided by boxes of similar items and my home is mostly clutter free.

It was with much interest that I learnt I already do some of the KonMari tactics as a natural instinct. I keep regular lists of the next area to be cleansed, I empty my handbag and reorganise each day and I clear my paperwork approximately every three months. I can't think of anything worse than a garage or loft full of rubbish, luckily I have neither of those areas.

Thursday 9 June 2016

Reasons to be Cheerful: Our Angel in Yellow

Last week we went away for a few days to Kent. We really needed this break as a family, time to be away from hubby's work and just forget the crap of everyday life (it's been a hard month).

The weather was miserable with an overcast sky, high winds and scattered rain but we weren't going to let that deter us. After an amazing day at Dover Castle enjoying a truly brilliant English Heritage site we were heading back to our Premier Inn to get changed and go for pizza when clunk the car made an odd noise at a busy roundabout and that was it, we weren't going anywhere!

Luckily for us we have cover with Club Toyota and one call to them set in motion our rescue from start to finish. First off an angel in yellow arrived, our AA man Wayne was the ultimate in efficiency and friendliness. Within moments he diagnosed our car with a broken drive shaft and set about getting it towed to the nearest Halfords who would be able to fix it for us.

Sunday 5 June 2016

Meeting the Deer at Knole, Kent - National Trust

Last weekend we had a fabulous visit to Knole in Sevenoaks, Kent. I've mentioned many times before how much we enjoy National Trust sites and this is one that has been on my hit list for quite some time. JJ had gone camping and the weather was due to be nice so we took the hours drive over to Kent. As always my 8-year-old girls were moaning that they didn't really want to go out, they wanted to stay home and thank the Lord we never listen to them as they had a truly wonderful time at Knole.

Why? Well, take one look at these first few pictures and it is easy to see... The girls could not believe how close you can get to the deer at Knole and they are everywhere, hundreds of them and seemingly quite friendly too, although of course, they are a wild animal so we would never get complacent around them.

Saturday 4 June 2016

They Don’t Know What’s Best For Them

It’s funny how children often think they know best. So sure of themselves and their decisions. Not wanting to open their minds and try something new but just wanting to go along with what they know and what is easy. It’s to be expected though, right? Kids grow up far too quickly and want to be the boss but of course, it is our job as parents to rein them back in and to present new opportunities to help expand their minds.

The worry comes when you see parents that never challenge their kids, they just fall into step and go along with whatever the little one is asking for. How does that end up? With children so spoilt and used to getting their own way that they have no grip on reality and no resilience to deal with the set-backs and rebuffs that will come when they go to university or start to work.

Our job as parents is to help our children grow up to be well-rounded adults. That won’t always be easy and it certainly won’t always be fun but our guidance and correction will help them so much in the long run. I think there is a lot to be said for tough love; us being consistent and carrying through on a consequence when we have issued one is super important.

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,” Colossians 3:23

If we teach our children that it is OK to be flaky and to say something one minute and then not to carry through, what happens when they have that first paid job but are too tired to get up in the morning? Well, they just choose not to and instead of working for their money and feeling good about a proper days work, they just ask us for a handout as they lost the job because they couldn’t be bothered to turn up.

I was really sad the other day when I read a post on Facebook about how a company is having trouble recruiting for their esteemed graduate programme. Why were they having trouble? Because it is an early morning start and the graduates don’t want to get up at that time of morning. My word, what kind of world are we now bringing our kids up in? One where they are so pampered and pandered to that they don’t have to make any effort anymore and they are not willing to put in a hard days work.

They are missing out on so much satisfaction and personal growth. I used to love falling into bed after a 12 hour day on my feet when I was a hotel trainee manager. I knew I had worked hard, learnt loads and achieved a real sense of satisfaction with the service I had provided. My JJ is 12 now, coming on 13 and already he knows what it is like to work and enjoy it. I have to admit that I do feel proud that my 12 year old willingly volunteers at the local food bank warehouse every other week. He also helps out with many different tasks at the conference centre where we live – marshalling races, being a parking attendant, helping in the tea room, joining the maintenance team or stock taking in the kitchen.

The girls want to be involved too, even though they are still only 8 they are happy to pick apples or price items in the bookshop. Of course the tasks they can be involved with have to be age appropriate but they love to help out. Kids like to feel useful and when we don’t allow them to do the simple things like prepare dinner, make their bed or hoover the lounge we take away their learning and rob them of their self-satisfaction.

“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35

Acts 20:35 reminds us that ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive’ and I want my children to be in the business of giving, to be generous in spirit and worldly goods. When we choose to focus on others, to serve, to work hard and to give away what we have then we will find true satisfaction.

In this age of instant gratification and sky-high expectations we have to ensure our children understand that things have value and they have to be earned and that means work in whatever form it takes.

Are you with me? Will you help your children to learn a strong work ethic?

Thursday 2 June 2016

Reasons to be Cheerful - Hooray for Half-Term

Hooray for Half-term, we have had lots of fun. In fact as this goes live, we are still away having fun. I hope you've been enjoying the kids being off school if it has been the holidays for you and you still have them young enough to enjoy. If not, then I still pray it has been an enjoyable week.

What have we been up to? All sorts but mostly really enjoying family time and being outdoors.

JJ went to water camp and the rest of us enjoyed a fish and chip supper and a fabulous sunset walk around Rye nature reserve afterwards. Sadly I don't have any photos as my iPhone has gone berserk on me and I'm now waiting out the days until I can upgrade without extra cost. It is infuriating.

Here is a beautiful sunset captured from my front door instead. May is definitely the month for pretty pink and purple skies.