So I did this friends thing on facebook….

and I’m not sure how I feel about it! It was this status that you copy and paste that said …………………….write down how you met me……….. and most of the people seemed to be from church. I loved it and it reminded me of the friends I do have but….

Now don’t get me wrong, I love my church, deeply. But I do feel I’ve placed it and the area it is in on a bit of a pedestal when I should have been concentrating on where I am in Chesterfield. Just to be clear, my church is about ten miles from where I live, so not a massive distance, but when it comes to having close friends and community, it seems to make a massive difference.

I won’t lie, since having children I’ve been frequently lonely. I feel like I’ve wasted time being lonely actually. When I could have just been out there having fun and being with my kids and not worrying. That makes me sad. I should have concentrated on my own community where I live and made friends. The post natal depression didn’t help! But I’m fine now.

I know I did make a few and you are out there, but life with small children and friendships is actually quite difficult. Most women work as well as bring their children up and also have partners as well. So life is busy and time limited.

Everyone says “go to groups!!!” but to be quite honest I find a lot of groups to be more dispiriting that not going. I find it a fake indoors environment where you sit around talking nonsense or worrying about your child’s behaviour and being unsure as to whether it is “appropriate” (another word I don’t like). and trying to make friends with people who, quite frankly, don’t appear to want to actually be friends. Maybe it’s just our English non embracing of others, our restraint, but I don’t like it.

If I was staying here, I think I would have made more of an effort, invited people out, gone to the park and spoken to people. It’s actually quite easy, I did it yesterday, we went to our local park and stayed quite a while, J made a friend (amazing how easy we find it when we are three) and ran around for ages. The little one shuffled round climbing on things and I chatted with J’s friend’s grandma. It was great.

I have actually loved being a full time mum. Loved it. And I will keep on loving it. But now, I am going to embrace this time and love my kids and teach them and enjoy them. (and learn from them hopefully). J goes to school in a year, and I have beaten myself up in some ways because everyone seems so obsessed with nurseries and I seem to have been continually asked since J was born if he was going or when he was going to nursery.  Particularly when he was going through a tough time like when he went through a hitting phase (like nursery would sort him out??!!)

J hasn’t gone to nursery and still isn’t at the moment is the answer. And you know what? he is an intelligent, well adjusted and knowledgeable three year old. With all the traits of a normal three year old, including some defiance, screaming heebie jeebies, and refusing to leave the park when asked saying he wanted to stay there forever. He makes friends easily when out, he is sociable and he seems very secure. Again, not going to nursery when very young is not a bad thing… (neither is going, may I add to my working friends, I know how hard it is).

Having said that we will try and find a pre-school when we get to Ireland. But only because he is getting to that age where I feel it would be helpful and I think he would enjoy it. I have often felt that by being at home, what on earth have I given him? But more and more as he gets older I feel I am seeing what we have given him, and that is good.

Please don’t get me wrong, I am not slating working parents. I’ve been there, done that, and this parenting decision is entirely our decision. It is because I’ve been there, done that, that I made this decision. I did my nurse training whilst my daughter was little. We are also in the privileged position of (just) being able to do it financially.

So I suppose the point of this is, parenting is difficult, but I’m not sure we get it right in this country. There are so many lonely parents, being sold this image of parenthood that it just doesn’t live up to. Being told that nursery is the right place for their child, being made to feel that they have to work. Being told “you can have it all” when in fact it is incredibly difficult and something always has to give.

I also don’t get why we as parents don’t get this sorted, there seems to be a sort of paralysis of parents being perpetually lonely or unfulfilled. This doesn’t seem to have changed in the last 20 odd years (remember I have a 23 year old daughter too). I know I am generalising massively but I am speaking from my experience of trying loads of different kids groups over the past three years and meeting lots of different parents.

So, I’ve decided to try and do my bit from now on by simply welcoming other parents with a big smile and an ear to listen wherever I am. By being open and welcoming and take it from there. No agenda. No preconceived ideas.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
    the fruit of the womb a reward.
 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
    are the children of one’s youth.
 Blessed is the man
    who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
    when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

(Psalm 127:3-5)

(I’m really hoping this post is not offensive, massive apologies if it is…parenting and friendships are tricky subjects, I am working my own thoughts out really, I feel like God is doing stuff in me at the moment, working things through…)

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Why do I find being nice so difficult?

I do.

I confess.

I often find being ‘nice’ difficult. I get irritated and/or impatient and want to correct people, interrupt, or even just leave. Why??!! Other times, not a problem, patience unlimited… (This confession feels a little out there, and if you don’t like soul bearing please stop reading now! but I am telling myself it isn’t just me that feels like this ;))

I am asking God why. I’m sure there are many reasons…

Because I sometimes feel bad about myself or I haven’t identified why I’m upset or irritated and take it out on people. It’s when my identity is confused and I almost step back in time and become like the old Cathy, where bitching and being hard, putting others down and not caring about things was my protection, my shell. If you’re hard and don’t care you fool yourself that things don’t or won’t hurt and you can actually almost fool yourself into believing you don’t care and that the most important thing is to look after number 1 (and family) and that is it. Other people are never (or rarely) for you and cannot be trusted, so get in there first…. it’s when my priorities are mixed up or when I’m plain old tired.

Also, I hate fakeness and it feels fake to be nice when I’m not feeling it. But if I look at others as God’s creations and the precious beings that they are, then surely that should change? I am quite sure it will.

The fact is I get so hurt sometimes it’s unreal. Especially if I have trusted someone and I feel they’ve let me down or deliberately said something to hurt me, or if I think they’ve spoken behind my back. That’s a real deal breaker with me I’m afraid.

But you see, I know that is wrong… other people’s responses are not my responsibility. My response is. My attitude is.

I am called to love, to forgive, to proclaim the love of God and his salvation. To bring healing, to keep peace, to have mercy and show grace. That is who I am. A warrior for God. A peacemaker and healer. A restorer. A worshipper of Jesus. And that is what I will do, by the power of God in me. My mission, should I choose to accept it is to glorify God and show him to others so they can know his goodness and love for themselves. My mission is to keep looking at him and him alone.

He is good. I need to remember he didn’t choose me because of any qualities he put in me… He chose me because it is not his wish that any should perish. He chose me because HE is good, not me. But I now have the ability because of this to live my life differently. Just like you do if you accept him as your saviour. I didn’t go to our church on Sunday, but I did listen to the preach online – which was along these lines… and I feel that God really spoke to me through it.

I choose God. I choose to follow him. I choose to overrule my pride and hurt feelings, difficult though this may be, to follow him and I choose to do what is right. Well, after a little internal struggle maybe…but he usually works it out in me…although sometimes a situation feels impossible and I feel almost paralysed to do anything about it…he works in me/us for good.

And everything is fine…even good, even joyeous!

 

 

 

 

 

Be kind to yourself?

I was thinking this morning, learn to be kind to yourself, you don’t have to do, do, do, you don’t have to get certain things done by a certain time, you don’t even have to indulge in endless activities for the children – that does not make a good parent as far as I’m concerned. Giving time is better I think…However, I then started thinking, is this biblical? I thought, the bible tells us to “die to self” but then God’s grace is for all and he also says to love others as you love yourself.

How does he tell us to love? Love as he has loved us.

How has he loved us? An innocent man (God) died for us, in our place. Through this we have forgiveness of every sin, we have life – before we come to Christ we are dead in our sins and transgressions. We have restoration and freedom, we are back to how it was before the fall. We can walk with God in the garden. Jesus removes the barriers to God, all of them. We have healing, which seems to come in a variety of forms. The main one as I see it is of being restored to God, of the gap being filled, our purpose in this life being revealed. God’s healing is truly holistic, he heals the root causes and true healing then follows. God never papers over the cracks and is always truthful with us, lovingly truthful. God always listens to us and delights in us coming to him, he answers prayer. He delights in us being us (he made us). In short, he heals, he loves, he restores, forgives, accepts, changes us, listens, redeems, comforts us, counsels us, gives us wisdom and grace. I have probably left some points out, but you get the gist.

So how does this translate, before I go off at a complete tangent? How am I supposed to love myself and others without being self seeking and self absorbed? This is the famous scripture that is read at so many weddings:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind;

love does not envy or boast;

it is not arrogant or rude.

It does not insist on its own way;

it is not irritable or resentful;

it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends…

(1 Corinthians 13:1-8)

Doing this without the power of the holy spirit as far as I can see is hopeless. This is the template for love and how it is possible to love and as far as I am concerned it is an amazing checklist. No more fakey, kiss, kiss, type of love, but real, tangible, raw love. Love that requires sacrifice and perseverence, not fake smiles. Love that lasts.

I suppose all this love stuff, also goes hand in hand with the fruits of the spirit – “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control” (Galatians 5:22-23). So, I guess the trick is, abide in God, know who he has made you to be, ask for the fruit of the spirit and follow him. Aha! so easy 😀 haha.

So, back to the original question? is it biblical to be kind to yourself? I guess it is as long as it is being kind and not just indulging your each and every whim. I know I need to look after myself and in particular get rest, because if I don’t everyone suffers! The aim of being kind to myself should really be to show God and His love to others…not just for me to sit here thinking of ways to indulge myself. Outwards facing, not inwards….

On another note, we are definitely off to Ireland next week! I am so excited, I’ve never been before! So many adventures this year, a very different year to previous ones! Life has most definitely been an adventure since knowing God, but this year, things have changed again. “Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done wonderful deeds…” (Ps 98:1)

 

 

 

Joy comes in the morning..

I was listening to worship this morning and there was that line “and joy comes in the morning”. The scripture related to this is the psalm 30 and below is Psalm 30:1-5:

I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up
    and have not let my foes rejoice over me.
Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
    and you have healed me.
Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol;
    you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.

Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints,
    and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger is but for a moment,
    and his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night,
    but joy comes with the morning.

(The emphasis is mine,it is what speaks to me most this morning)

This is what God has done for me every single time I’ve done it, when I have cried out for help, he has healed me/the situation. So when I am feeling low, when I am in a situation in which I feel there is no way out, I KNOW from previous occasions and from knowing the love of God that all will be fine, no matter how it looks now. A lot of the stuff I worry about actually does not even matter.

This doesn’t mean it is easy, I find it very difficult when I’m lost in whatever has happened, or in circumstances or even my own feelings, but this does not detract from the truth that he heals and restores. He gives joy in the midst of mourning and difficulties as well as in the good times. It is a very weird thing, I’ve tried finding my own joy and it is impossible, but when I look at God, at who he is, at what he says in the bible and in my own quiet (or noisy) times with him, Joy comes.

So look at him, He knows where you are, He knows your tears and your fears and is with you, you don’t have to be any certain way with God. He created you and knows you inside out, every last little bit of you, every thought before you think it, every action. With Jesus, everything you have ever done wrong, everything you are doing wrong, every future sin, is forgiven. He is the giver of life and joy.

I am preaching to myself, yet again too, I’m feeling subdued and a little lacklustre at the moment, I really need to know his goodness and love and I am learning every day that all of this comes from Him. I don’t need to manufacture it myself.

he humbled himself in obedience to God
    and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
    and gave him the name above all other names,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
 and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

(Philippians 2:8-11)

Hello?..after a short break…

So I’ve not written anything for about a week and a half… what to write??

It’s been a fairly busy week or so, celebrating little one’s birthday, with the horrendous one year jabs the day after too. I had no idea until we got there that they now have one in each limb… We’ve also all been ill in some shape or form but are now better and have also knocked a couple of things off the “things to do before leaving” list – we went to Clumber Park, we paddled in the river, I made a very chocolately birthday cake, which was lovely if I may say so myself and just generally been busy with life. I also have a Sozo appointment that has come through and am trying to decide whether to do it.

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We have decided to go and visit Ireland soon to see what it is like and are just waiting on a passport coming through and then we will book. We’ve also had some questions through from our buyer’s solicitor’s and have answered them and are now awaiting a response to that….and hopefully a date at some point…we are still keeping an eye on the property in Scotland too, but nothing is drawing our attention at the moment.

Watch this space.

I just keep reminding myself that God is not just good, He is supreme and in charge and loving and kind. No matter what life throws at us, He is in charge. Our lives are not our own, they have been bought at a price. That price is Jesus. Just printing his name makes me feel better. Jesus. No longer a swear word but the love of our lives.

 

 

Family

I have to be careful today because I feel upset about something (partly my own fault) and what I really want to do is rant, but I made a sort of pledge when I started this that I would try not to use it to slate anyone or anything if I could help it.

Instead I will focus on my beautiful family.

My gorgeous husband, it has been a very tough, busy and awesome five years, we just get stronger and stronger because we are determined just to keep loving and going. He is amazing, he has a quiet strength and an ability not to care what others think that I just don’t have at the moment. He strengthens me through this. He is also brilliant with the children and often has more patience than me.

Our children, determined, lively, gorgeous, future world changers. J is amazing, he prayed for his dad the other day because he stood on a nail, the pain then disappeared. J tells me I’m beautiful when I’m sad (without prompting) and asks me how I am, he says thank you very much when you give him something, he tells you straight if he doesn’t like something, he often creeps in close when he is sat next to you and places his hand on you gently. He has so much empathy and compassion and love in him it is amazing. He is also very sensitive to environments.

The baby is just so so determined, if he wants something he will have it, he is smiley and cuddly and absolutely loves his brother to bits. Smiles and laughs every time he is around him.

We also have two other beautiful children who are not pictured but loved just as much.

And the only other thing I wish to say today is, we do our best. We always do our best. Our kids are going to be world changers, partly because we encourage them, love them and try to love them like God loves us. Mainly because they were made for that, by God.

 

Social Media is great…sometimes….but…

I’ve deleted facebook and messenger off the old phone and Ipad, I’ve been paying far, far too much attention to it during the day and I’ve decided to try just using the laptop for it and that is that.

It is all very useful and sometimes interesting, but I have decided to limit my time on them and try to get away from the got to deal with messages etc at once. When there actually is no need for it.

I want to be with my children during the day, to enjoy being with them, to be present, to be attentive, not distracted and so I am eliminating certain distractions. They are only this age once, and the time goes so, so fast. I know that because I already have one girl who is now grown up and in her early twenties. I still wonder where that time went and I sometimes regret working so much whilst she was young. However, regrets do nothing unless you learn from them, so I am attempting to learn from them.

I also don’t want my children having a mum who is constantly looking at her phone, I want them to have a good upbringing with good memories and not one where their parents were constantly ignoring them because social media was so much more important than that moment with them.

I’m still going to do this..I love doing this…I love writing and speaking to people on here, but my presence will just be a little more limited. Probably first thing and then maybe last thing. During the day I am going to attempt to stay off the social media platform. I’ve got into the rubbish habit of checking it and rechecking and it does not do me or my family any good.

I want to spend my time as well as I can and my family come first after God.

“…yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4:14)

Yes, I want to spend it well. I will make mistakes, I make many, but you know what, I am made for God and by God and I intend to do what I am here to do. Whatever that may be, and at the moment, that is being a wife and a mother.

This is purely reflective writing and is not intended as a judgement piece on anyone.

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Also, I used to read books, I used to draw, I used to play music and my flute. Where has all that gone? Gone in favour of staring at a screen? I don’t think so. Time to reinstate what is good I think. Time to have fun too!

See you all later!