Ever had a 'should I have got out of bed?' day

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So today didn’t start well. Had a row with my husband before church and made him late for serving on PA ( am sure no one ele has ever done this, I realise I am a complete minority in this)

At this point, the day could have been a write off. Mainly due to my mind continually letting me know what a screw up I am and how I had ruined everything (my mind is a drama queen – anyone else’s?)

I managed to stop sobbing and text a few friends, telling them exactly what had happened and how I was.

I then partook in a bit of blowing raspberries therapy, which if you haven’t heard of it involves blowing raspberries at your small child to make them giggle. 15 minutes of this and I was semi normal again – enough to make it out of the front door and head to church.

I arrived and was happily greeted by a friend who chatted to me and gave me a hug. Got a bit teary again but then felt ok.

The thing is, the last place I wanted to go was church. I was feeling a bit broken and vulnerable and yet my natural reaction was to hide.

This is not a comment on my church or my church family. It is recognising the fact that there is something a little inherent in me, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this, that makes me feel I have to be perfect and smiley and raring to go on a Sunday and quite frankly that’s the biggest lie we can hold on to.

Jesus himself said he did not come for the righteous – so why do I aspire to be like that on a Sunday.

Church should be a place of refuge and yet today I was afraid of judgement of appearing a failure and that has nothing to do with anyone or anything said. It has to do with my own battle with perfection and owning up to the fact I struggle.

Right now, I don’t feel I am a good enough mother, wife, friend or family member. That’s my own journey and it’s ok for me to be on it, there isn’t a quick fix in all this.

I cancelled going to my son’s swimming lesson today ( Mum guilts kicked in big time) but some vindication came in the fact he napped for over 2hrs in the time we would have been. Sometimes, I really should trust my instincts and stop using the selfish word when I make these decisions.

Friends invited us for lunch, and I was nurtured and refreshed and offered a place of safety where I could be just as I am.

So, even though it was tough today, it was also important as I learned how to share those parts of myself that I would rather hide, I realised it’s not so bad saying it how it is and feel a little more confident in my messiness but still have a way to go – work in progress right?

Tonight is the church prayer
meeting and I am sat instead at home in my pyjamas. Another chance for my mind to tell me I have my priorities all wrong… at one point someone told me ‘Sometimes the most holy thing you can do is rest.’ and I am very good at saying this to other people but right now, I think I need to say it to myself, believe it and remember that there is no condemnation.

Things are all a bit messy

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So I am currently in limbo. There are a few things I was expecting to be resolved by today and they aren’t.

There are a few loose ends that remain untied, a few extra things yet to be ticked off the to-do list, an a couple of big unknowns.

Funny isn’t it, how the unknowns seem ok to begin with but then they creep up on you at the last minute ( 3am if you’re like me)

The fact is, things are all a bit messy and yet, in the midst of it all I find myself straying into a place of stillness and peace. Maybe it’s the eye of the storm? Maybe it’s a mirage? A created oasis in this desert place. But, when I find myself there, even though I can’t make sense of it, I am calm, at rest, my soul quietens.

I found that place at the end of my Zumba class on Wednesday, as we warmed down and the last song began my eyes were drawn to the wooden cross at the side of the stage. My Zumba class is held in a Salvation Army building.

It felt poignant so soon after Easter to find myself staring at an empty wooden cross and to be reminded of the ultimate sacrifice and then this song began…

I felt tears form and realised that I was having a moment, that something was calling deep into my heart. That this was a message for me.

You could write it all off as coincidence, I was just reading too much into it all but there in that moment I experienced God more closely than I had in a very long time and had a renenwed understanding of it all… The Cross, the love, His sacrifice, my response and although I have no idea how, I knew it is all going to be ok but at a cost.

At life group last night we sang the following words:

‘And no matter what the cost I will follow you. Jesus everything I’ve lost I have found in you…’

There’s a cost, a cost to all these loose ends, the unknowns and there has been loss but there is hope and right now I will hold on to that and to ‘My Salvation, my my’

Today I'm a mum and still in my pjs

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So, little man is 6 months and having a period of wakefulness at night.

The initial reaction is to Google and come up with 100 different explanations ranging from growth spurts to not following a sleep training method.

It can be a minefield and there are always plenty of smug ‘experts’ ready to tell you everything you are doing wrong and why you should buy into their particular methods.

Truth is, no-one knows the answer part from little man and he isn’t in a position to tell me.

I have developed my own coping mechanisms for these periods and they happen every so often.

At first, it was easy to beat myself up about it, to feel I had to put a brave face on it and just keep calm and carry on.

Before… I would have forced myself to get up, get dressed, face the world and even get a morning walk in to ensure little man napped. I was slightly crazed about just getting on.

Today… I posted in my secret mums group on Facebook about our shocker of an evening, whats app’d my post natal group and was hugely delighted to be presented with a cup of coffee by my husband before he left for work.

Instead of focussing on getting up and getting on, I sat on the bed with little man and played, enjoyed staying in my pyjamas and dressing gown. I can shower later – for now I just need to be.

I received plenty of words of encouragement from other mums who are experiencing similar and was spurred on by the knowledge that I am not alone!

I did the breakfast routine – weaning has begun. Mashed banana on toast – what a choice for a day when I’m living on coffee and prayer. It was fine, what are baby wipes for anyway?

Now, little man naps and I’m still in my pjs and you know what? I feel liberated. Liberated from the need to be up, showered, dressed out and facing the world.

I will be going out later but I’m not looking at the clock and fretting today.

Today, I am struggling to stay awake a little so I’m going to take my time. I’m not going to buy into questioning myself, or rushing to do everything.

I am leaving Google and forums alone.

Today, I’m a mum and I’m still in my pjs.

Combating the inner critic – choose encouragement

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I came across this in my social media feeds today and although it’s nothing I haven’t heard before, today it resonated. Maybe because it is a Monday or maybe because it is important right now to me and many others.

It’s just 9am on a Monday morning. Many people will have completed the commute and be on their way to the office, those who work at home will be sat in front of their screens, maybe with an empty bowl of cereal nearby. Teachers will be well into teaching their first lesson of the day. Parents may have just finished the school run, some mothers will be building up the will to get through the day after a sleepless night, some, like me, will be sat in a slight daze as their little one has their morning nap wondering if they have time to do the list of jobs piling up on that ‘to-do’ list. All of us navigating the thoughts in our minds.

How have you begun your day? Have you already given in to that well of criticalness that seeks to take over? Have you been a ‘Monday moaner’?

The sunshine at the weekend changed people’s moods. There were smiles and a sense of being upbeat. However, there was still the tendency from some to start with the critical ‘It’s too hot.’

There is a sense that whatever circumstances we are in, the voice that tends to be the loudest is that of the critic.

I know that you have an inner critic who gets at you all day long, I know that often a way to deal with it is to become negative or sharp tongued with others.

The truth is, we all crave a bit of encouragement, a sense of being built up, of being offered an alternative but despite that we rarely offer it to others.

For Lent this year, I am following the #40 acts challenges and today we are asked to have ‘an attitude of gratitude’ you can check out further details here 40 acts

We have been asked to write a thank you note. I was quite convicted as I can’t remember the last time I did this. I have sent emails and texts but not a hand written note or card.

I know how much I like to receive cards and notes and yet I don’t offer that to others very often.

Sometimes we spend so much time and energy on combating our own inner critics that we don’t reach out and help others with theirs. Surely it would be easier to share the load?

So instead of listening to your inner critic, instead of letting that be your voice and shape your words, how about letting the encourager take over for today?

So many of us get caught in a shadow of discouragement – how about offering an alternative? A way out for those that you are in contact with today? You never know, you may even silence that critic for yourself.

I would love to know how you get on! Please feel free to leave a comment telling me how it goes.

Letting go of 'perfect'

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So, my son fell asleep and I placed him in his cot for his nap and I thought that I would make a cup of tea and sit quietly for a while…
Then a large lorry drove up, parked outside the house and now incessant drilling echoes.

It made me smile because I realised how often life is like that. You have these intentions you carry around with you each day about what you are going to do when you have a moment and then the moment arrives and… Roadworks, the phone rings, there is a knock at the door, an unexpected email hits your inbox or a random thought takes hold and distraction kicks in, the moment is gone, disappearing into the ether.

But, does it have to? My initial reaction was one of annoyance that this loud, unnecessary noise would dare to ruin a time I wished to spend in quiet contemplation.

Now, I realise it has given me an opportunity to face up to the fact that there are no ‘perfect’ moments. Things are never going to be exactly as you want them and coming to terms with that can be hard – we create this delusion that perfect moments can be obtained and work so hard to achieve them when in reality they cannot be.

I don’t mean to sound depressing, of course we have moments we enjoy, that we love, that we want to hold on to and desire to capture – these days we do it in a filtered photo that we have re-taken three or four times to ensure the ‘perfect’ shot. The fact is, if we wait for the right time, the ‘perfect’ time it is unlikely to come and we hold ourselves back. We put limitations on ourselves that don’t need to be there.

So today, instead of having my time of silent contemplation, I wrote this post. If the drilling hadn’t been going on maybe I wouldn’t have as I tend to wait – ‘I won’t write yet.’ It’s almost like the drilling woke me up a little to a weird mindset I had fallen into and I wondered if other people may have fallen into it too?

I wonder what I have been missing out on because I have been waiting for the right circumstances.

Sometimes, I wake up not wanting to see the world and feel like hiding because I don’t feel I have anything to offset.

Sometimes, I tie myself up in knots about ‘what ifs’ and ‘what do people think’

Sometimes, it takes every ounce of my being to get going and walk out of the front door.

I am not perfect, far from it. My hair needs a cut, I wear it tied up all of the time to avoid thinking about it and because it is far easier as a Mum to keep it out of the way. I can get overly emotional, I can be quite antsy at times and negative.

There are people who will tell you I don’t care enough and people who will tell you I care too much. Some people would describe me as clique-y and some as inclusive.

I can’t get it right for everyone all of the time and the only pressure to do that comes from myself and this striving for perfection and the perfect moment and perfect circumstances.

This post could be better no doubt and it would have been so easy to delete it but I didn’t because it’s time to accept that there is no ‘perfect’ and to stop hiding, holding back and avoiding.

Where are you with this concept of perfect?

I am reminded of the song ‘Perfect’ by Alanis Morisette that ends with the line :
‘We’ll love you just the way you are, if you’re perfect’

I will admit that is how I often feel and I know it’s not right.

I don’t want to pass these ideas and feelings on to my son. I don’t even want him to entertain them – so why do I allow it for myself?

So today, I am not re-editing, I am not waiting, I am not engaging with myself in striving for perfection. I am going to be my unadulterated self and I am going to love it just the way it is!

A different love story

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Being Valentine’s Day it seems fitting to post about love. The problem is, as a society our idea of love has become synonymous with flowers, chocolates and hearts or worse still we have confused the concept of love with lust.

For me personally Valentine’s Day is just like any other, not because my husband is unromantic, or because I myself am, but because I don’t think love is something you express on only one day of the year or that it should only be focused on for one day.

I was asked by yesheis.com to review their new video for Valentine’s Day – it is entitled ‘A different love story’ and can be found here

The video begins with a girl telling us she was waiting to be swept off her feet by a Prince Charming the way it is portrayed in films and songs. The fairytale of love we are taught to buy into.

In fact all she really wanted was to be treasured.

Then the voice changes to a male voice saying ‘We are all just looking, looking for someone.’

Both tell their own stories of seeking love as they believed it should be and how it left them wanting.

They tell the story of their own
journey in finding the love of Jesus.
What I like about this video is that it is based around the whole idea of personal story – we are being told about their journey first hand.

There is something powerful to me about someone’s story and experience – getting to know where they were and where they are now.

There is contrast in the two stories in their starting points and how they came to seek out love and although they both find that it is the love of Jesus that ultimately satisfies it shows how different that relationship is for each of them.

We are left with the text ‘Jesus thinks you’re to die for. Get to know him for yourself.’

A clever play on words – it makes you think and that is the ultimate success of the video – it makes you think.

If you were asked to define love what would you say? If you had to talk about your experiences of it would they be similar to the stories in the video?

You see even though they are two personal stories they could be any of ours.

This Valentine’s Day, why not watch the video for yourself and think, really think about your understanding of love.

The 'I'm not good enough' mantra

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I’m currently lying in bed attempting to sleep and failing miserably.

My issue is I have the ‘I’m not good enough’ mantra playing on repeat in my head. I have managed to pause it for a while but then that wave of sickness hits my stomach and off it goes again.

I have always had it, ever since I can remember and I spent years believing I was the only one.

The fact is, we all have it at some point. In some way, about a particular part of our life or perhaps all if it. Sometimes it quietens for a period but then it rears its head once again and traps us in a spiral of self doubt.

Being a new mother mine currently stems a lot from my belief that I’m not good enough at it. I replay my labour, the first days and weeks of my son’s life and mentally berate myself – the ‘should haves’ fly around and are slowly fought off with the realisation that all is well and all was well. Just because I don’t have a hundred photos of me in those first days doesn’t mean I have failed. I did in fact cuddle my son enough, I do interact with him enough and yes sometimes I take him out of the house in his pyjamas but why is that even an issue? Why is it something I feel I have to explain, as if it even matters?

Before motherhood became my all consuming ‘I’m not good enough’ it was work, marriage, family, friendships, faith. They still arise sometimes just so I don’t get too complacent.

There are a whole barrage of thoughts that I wade through on a daily basis that seek to wear me down and sometimes they do, if I leave them in my head.

This post is raw, it is unadulterated vulnerability and it is scary to write but I have to. Fear tells me not to. Fear says to keep quiet.

I write this to dispell the lies I tell myself about not being good enough and I write this for you.
I write this for every single one of you who is hindered each day by a sense of not good enough.

You are good enough.

Whatever is playing on your mind right now, whatever you are in secret turmoil about, whatever pulls you down.

It’s a lie. The mantra is a lie.

You are good enough.