Where have I been?

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Hi it’s me : She Makes Moments.

6 months is a long time huh? So where have I been? If I said I’d been changing my life that would probably sound a bit sensationalist wouldn’t it?  But, it’s the truth.

In April, I found out I was being made redundant from my teaching job. This was the second time this had happened and for me the final straw between me and teaching so I decided after 14 years to retire my whiteboard pens and walk away from my career, the only work I had known.

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You see, I had already been training with @digtitalmums to become a Freelance Social Media Manager and although I may not have chosen to forge my new career path so soon it seemed that everything was pointing that way.

So, in September I set up Louise Upchurch Social and am now working as a Social Media Manager and Consultant. If you are in need of any help in these areas don’t hesitate to contact me!

Oh and the other life changing thing? A second pregnancy, bump is due in February and we recently discovered we are Team Pink.

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My aim to get my blog back up and running and re-connect. Turns out She Make Moments was a real indicator of things to come.

So how are you and what has been going on with you in the last 6 months?

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.

Behind the scenes life… Living unedited

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I posted this image on my Facebook page recently –

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It seemed to resonate with many people and yet we all continue to do it.

It started me thinking about how I could live more of my behind the scenes life in the open. I don’t want people to think that they know me, or create a version of me from my highlight reel.

Truth be told much more of my behind the scenes life can be seen on Twitter rather than Facebook. This is partly because of the nature of the sites and also personal choice. I have made attempts to be more open by sharing my blog posts on Facebook, something I never would have done a year ago.

I also decided I needed to show more of my behind the scenes life day to day too. It’s scary and it makes you highly vulnerable but there is something really releasing in it. The realisation that there are people who accept you just as you are, exactly where you are.

I experienced this on Friday firstly with friends from our antenatal class – It had been a tough night with little man and my energy levels were at an all time low which in turn affected my conversational ability and a I felt a wreck but I walked to our baby sensory class and was met with hugs and support. We then had lunch and I could just sit and be, nothing was expected of me.

I then visited a friend, another mum, someone who doesn’t quite realise how brightly she shines in what can be a very grey world. Someone who despite feeling rough herself was happy to hang out ‘warts and all’ and who without knowing it reminds me who I am and can be every time I am around her. I truly live my behind the scenes life with her and it is when I am most alive.

I lived unedited, unfiltered. I need to do it more and I think you do too.

It scares me, it’s uncomfortable, it’s far easier just to hide.

But…

It becomes all consuming living a highlight reel. The desperation to post the beautiful photo, the clever status, to come across as the perfect mother, sister, wife, friend, worker, Christian. It’s tiring. It’s unsustainable.

It’s a waste, a waste of us.

What's on your mind?

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Today, as I sit writing this post looking out of the window at the sunshine, I want to ask you a question: What’s on your mind?

Before you saw the image with this post did you realise that is what Facebook asks you every time you update your status?

Why is it that we happily post on Facebook and Twitter about our thoughts but if I were to ask you that question right now I am guessing the initial answer might be ‘Nothing.’ or ‘Not much’ but is that true?

Even discussing ‘What’s on your mind?’ on social media is somewhat of a facade – no one ever really posts exactly what is on their mind. We post modified thoughts, acceptable thoughts, things that will appear funny and engaging. Things that will will portray what we want them them to.

What about with God? What do you say when God asks you the same question? Do you modify your answer? Go for the ‘acceptable’ stuff?

We are often carrying many thoughts in our mind, it is often full of questions, concerns, worries, to do lists. We can lose ourselves in it all sometimes. 

I really feel that today God wants to free you from all of that. Free you from your ‘thought baggage’ the things  that play in your mind over and over again that you have just accepted and learnt to deal with. The things that wake you up at night that you have never shared. The worries that you can convince yourself you have overcome but that catch you unawares when you are least expecting it. 

We are told in the word:

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

Are you experiencing the freedom of a ‘sound mind’ today?

What are the things that are plaguing you, keeping you captive, holding you back?

Are you afraid to speak them aloud?

I believe today that God is calling us to speak them aloud so that he can deal with them, so that we are not held prisoner to them, so that they do not have control over us.

We do not need to be fearful – we do not have a spirit of fear.

We need to remember we are loved. We are love with an unconditional, everlasting love.

Perfect love casts out fear…

Will you tell God what’s on your mind today? The unmodified version?

 

 

Enjoying God

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I spent the morning listening to a preach by Judah Smith about Enjoying God.

http://thecity.org/message/enjoying_god

There was so much in it that really spoke to me about where I am at the moment. It follows on from my posts about Coffee with God and Walking with God

As I was listening, I tweeted some of the content because I couldn’t help but want to share it. I also emailed the link to some friends who I know will be blessed by listening to the message. 

I am so fired up and inspired by what I am learning and experiencing at the moment from changing my whole approach to my relationship with God and my Christian walk. I am seeing how God is moving and working in my life and the lives of others in such a short space of time.

Keeping a journal really helps – not in a strict, I must write in it everyday kind of way but in a Wow! I need to write this down – I need to remember this, I need to be encouraged by this and I will need this to keep me going kind of way. 

There were a few snippets of the preach that really struck me…

‘A lot of us treat our relationship with God like a formal living room, to be looked at and admired but we don’t live with him.’

I was immediately reminded of my grandparents house. They had a formal living room at the front of the house and it was never used apart from on very special occasions. It was beautiful and awe inspiring but we hardly went into it. 

How true can this be of our relationship with God? We acknowledge that he is amazing, awesome, wonderful but we don’t take it any further – an arm’s length approach. A head knowledge approach – we know how to describe him and all that he is but do we know him?

Abide – continue, stay, dwell, remain. Don’t treat God like an antique piece of furniture but an Ikea couch!

I have a carving chair in my house, it was my Granddad’s. When I first got it I didn’t want anyone to sit on it. It was just to be looked at. Now, anyone can sit in it, after all that is what it is for!

I love the analogy used here – you are far more free to let people live on your Ikea couch than your antique furniture – you recognise it is it to be lived on and in. The same is true of our relationship with God – it is to be lived on and in. 

You have permission to enjoy God. You have permission to let him love you.

How often do we reduce ‘relationship’ with God to :

Daily quiet time

Reading the bible

Praying

Nothing wrong with any of those things but God wants all of our life and that means the making dinner, sitting in the sunshine, going for a walk, having a coffee, relaxing on the sofa parts of our lives too. The writing blog posts, posting on social media and watching a film parts. 

We need to stop ‘doing’ and start ‘being’

We need to stop trying to earn God’s love and favour.

We need to accept – we are loved, we are loved, we are loved.

We need to enjoy God.

How are you going to enjoy God today? How are you going to give yourself permission to accept his love?

 

 

5 things I am tired of people saying…

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I am currently 17 weeks pregnant. When I announced the news publicly on Facebook most people missed it as apparently I was too subtle. Posting my scan picture was not for me so I posted the picture below:

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I have since discovered that everyone I meet is a pregnancy expert and wishes to share their wealth of knowledge with me, while I am entirely grateful that I have people to talk things through with, there are 5 things I’m tired of people saying:

1. ‘Your life will never be the same!’ (with an added look of glee)
Actually, do you know what? I really believe that my life will carry on just as it is. I hadn’t taken into account the thought that things would be different. Excuse the sarcasm but stating the obvious isn’t helpful. Also, why is everyone suddenly so happy at the notion I will have to change my life and at the fact that I have no idea what is coming? It isn’t exactly encouraging.

2. ‘ Have you felt the baby yet?’
No, the answer is no and now I am starting to get anxious about it. Actually, it is completely normal for me not to have yet. How about waiting for me to tell you about it?

3. ‘Have you decided on names, what are they?
Yes, names are decided. No I am not telling you. I am allowed some secrets. The likelihood is you won’t approve of my choices and I’d rather not see your ‘really?’ face.

4. ‘Don’t plan anything in advance, you don’t know how you’ll be.’
Ok, I will just assume that I need to stay in my house for 12 months after the birth. Again, this isn’t encouraging. Yes, it will be different but it doesn’t mean I am not allowed to do things. For me, having some things planned will give me things to work towards.

5. ‘Insert birth horror story here…’
All births are different. Yes, I am aware that it isn’t all fluffy clouds and rainbows but going into minute detail about all the complications, difficulties and issues that were encountered isn’t going to help me.

Don’t get me wrong, I love that people want to talk about it and share and be part of the whole thing but I am still me as well. I haven’t become just a pregnant woman. I am still able to talk about anything and everything.

Also, I am anxious enough as it is and dealing with that. What would be really helpful is for you to talk about all of the good things about being a parent. How about sharing some of your joys and happy memories?

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-22057246

This story has been all over the news. There have been a number of responses. Some calling for her to be sacked, some raising questions about social media and whether teenagers understand the potential ramifications of what they post, some stereotyping ‘teenagers’

This got me thinking back to when I was 14-16 and all of the silly things I said and did, which are not recorded on any social media sites as they weren’t around then. Lucky for me I would say. Social media can be a mind field. If you don’t have a full grasp of privacy settings or the true public nature of what you post. Facebook can be used to document moments of life, rather like a diary used to. The difference is a diary was kept hidden under your bed and Facebook is there for all to see.

Twitter captures 140 characters of thought, links, opinion. How many of us think through our tweets every time before we send? At times, the timeline becomes a battle ground and everyone is exposed to the argument or disagreement.

Do we hold ourselves as accountable as we are holding Paris Brown?

I do believe that a new type of parenting has evolved through social media, digital parenting. Children and young people do need help and guidance with navigating social media as they do in all areas of life. I feel for parents who have suddenly had to try and get their heads around Facebook and twitter, cyber bullying, trolling, giving their children a long view about the permanency of what they write.

I also believe that we have a tendency to vilify teenagers for their behaviour. We are quick to judge and write them off. We are happy to lump them all together and see them as a group to be avoided rather than individuals who deserve to be given a chance.

Recently, there have been a number of programmes about improving opportunities for disadvantage young people. Secret Millions is a good example of this. We are at last exposed to the truth of the situation. Many young people do not feel valued, do not feel they have opportunities and don’t have people around them willing to work with them and build them up.

This is not a post about parenting, we all have a responsibility for the young people in our communities. We can all speak into and affect a young person’s life for good. We are often quick to judge parents and blame them for all the problems, the same way we do with teachers and schools.

We are all accountable.

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