What I’m Reading – December


Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. – Joseph Addison

And here we are, December has crept up on us and the next thing you know we’ll cleaning up bit of Christmas tree and making goals for 2016. I keep hearing ‘where did the year go?’. As ever, I’m approaching the end of this year with a desperate plea of the soul to slow down, savour what God has for us in the quiet of Advent and the Christmas season and maybe pick up a few more books whist snuggling with my family by the light of the twinkling Christmas tree lights. Slow is a discipline, it’s intentional and some days I feel like I’m digging my heals in and dust is flying behind me – but slow is my jam, slow is on my ‘to-do’ list (wink).

So here are a few books on the shelf this month.

In the hand:

The Greatest Gift – Ann Voskamp

greatest gift

Unwrapping The Greatest Gift – Ann Voskamp

(reading this with the children everyday)

greatestgift 2

Creativity, Inc – Ed Catmull

creativity inc

Still reading…

Composing A Life – Mary Catherine Bateson

a life

On Audio

For The Love – Jen Hatmaker

(This is SERIOUSLY laugh.out.loud funny!)

for the love

On The Kindle

A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

christmas carol

As ever, my reading repertoire also includes lots of bible, poetry and various read-alouds with the children.

So what would you recommend for my ‘must read’ list for next year?

Catch up on my last few ‘What I’m Reading’ posts here and here!

Get The Most Out Of Monday!



I have many childhood memories of that crazy cat Garfield constantly moaning about how he hated Mondays; that mindset and culture has seeped into our lives, (beyond the cat community) and we generally start our week longing for the weekend!

I guess this comes from the stark contrast between our work and our play. We can’t handle the difference, and If we don’t find joy in our work, then Monday will be hard.

It seems like such a waste doesn’t it? God gave us 7 glorious days; 6 to work and 1 to rest. All to be done as unto the Lord and for His glory. Yet we value 1 (or 2 at a stretch) but the other 5 seem to be kept in the dark.

The book ‘The Practice of the Presence of God‘, contains interviews and letters from a man named Brother Lawrence. He was not a religious professional; he was one of the laymen who lived alongside the monks who inspired and provided support for those in the community through his attitude to his work and its place in his life.

In his business in the kitchen (to which he had naturally a great aversion), having accustomed himself to do everything there for the love of God, and with prayer, upon all occasions, for His grace to do his work well, he found everything easy during the fifteen years that he had been employed there.

He spent much of his time in the kitchen; peeling potatoes was more essential for Brother Lawrence’s spiritual growth than attending the evening prayer service because Brother Lawrence recognised that God was there in the kitchen as much as he was in the chapel.

Mondays are the start of the work week which offer new beginnings 52 times a year!
― David Dweck

If we have the right perspective about our work, no matter how menial or mundane it may seem, our daily activities can shape our characters and change our lives (and the lives of those around us).


Monday is an opportunity to press the restart button, shape our week and allow transformation to take place through our heart and mindset towards our work. Whether you’re tackling life in the home and mountains of laundry or happen to be the CEO of a large corporation – your work is holy and meaningful.

The prayers we weave into the matching of socks, the stirring of oatmeal, the reading of stories, they survive fire.
― Ann Voskamp


Simple Steps To Kick The Winter Blues


A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones – Prov 17:22

The days are shorter, our mornings are darker and the trees are stripped of their splendour, it’s so tempting to hibernate and live shorter, darker, slightly stripped lives – I’m here to tell you that a bit of early evening hibernation under a blanket with a book is fine but if you’re already feeling the winter slump, the deep sigh of another day, it’s time to lift your head friend!

I don’t think I’d describe myself as genuinely suffering from Seasonal effective disorder (SAD) but I’ve had years of waves of the winter woes (and I’m  a happy, glass half-full gal through and through); wanting to rush through the season, just ‘get through’ to Spring when we can really live again! Not any more!

So here are fives things that have helped me give the winter slump a kick in the behind!

Practice Gratitude 

“…the secret to joy is to keep seeking God where we doubt He is.”
― Ann Voskamp

Ann Voskamp’s book ‘One Thousand Gifts‘ started a powerful process in so many of us around learning the power of a thankful heart, but not only that, we write it down, everyday. Everyone from life coaches to counsellors are advising people to keep a gratitude journal and it really is a poignant tool for directing our simple, thankful lives to God.

Write three things down that you are thankful for at the beginning or at the end of everyday.

Get Outside (Exercise)

My lovely friend Alex, (aka Fitness Mama) talks so much about the impact of exercise on our mental health and wellbeing. We don’t have to become weight lifters, triathletes or marathon runners but a 15 – 20 minute daily commitment to move our bodies (brisk walk, work-out video, exercise bike etc.) can transform the way we feel about ourselves and our day. Exercise resets our hormones and releases a wonderful happy feeling – go on, try it!

Clear Out A Cupboard

Whether you’re a ‘clean freak’ or not, there’s something so therapeutic about cleaning out a cupboard, a drawer or that overflowing bag of ‘stuff’ under the stairs – especially in winter. Don’t save all your spring cleaning till spring, make a short list of 5 decluttering projects you could do over this winter and schedule them in, one a week.

Eat Happy Food

Okay, so I’m not talking about picking up a  bag of donuts on your way home from work or polishing off a whole bar of chocolate every night, no, I’m talking about real food! Real nutritionally packed foods that make you feel great!

Almost two years ago now I quit sugar; this made a huge impact on my emotional and hormonal wellbeing; right now I’m taking it a step further and I’m over halfway through my second round of the Whole30 where I have eliminated not only sugar but grains, dairy, legumes, alcohol and all processed foods . I can honestly say coming into this autumn/winter period that I’ve never felt better. The right foods can absolutely increase happiness, lessen symptoms of depression, and quell anxiety.

It all comes down to the brain.A healthy cognitive system is essential to regulating mood, and certain nutrients have a profound impact on maintaining normal brain function

Try adding these fabulous food into your winter menu and see how you feel!


Crazy, I know, but it works – a simple change in the setting of your face can have an impact on how you feel. Researchers in the 80’s and 90’s tested this theory out and it’s true, smiling makes you happier!

Smile at your kids, smile at the stranger on the street, smile at the cashier in the supermarket, or go wild and smile at yourself in the mirror this morning!

A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.

Phyllis Diller

3 Things I’m (still) Learning About Raising Children!

Charlecote House Park 057

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
― Benjamin Franklin

In just a few weeks time my eldest child will turn 13 – as much as that is a big deal for her, it’s also a monument in this journey for me! And I’m not sat here thinking ‘where did the time go’, I know where it went because I lived every moment of it; I’ve sown and prayed and fed and nurtured and cried over and prayed again every day of these passing 13 years. I thank God for His grace and I thank God for the enormous privilege of raising these children for His glory.

So as I’m almost a ‘teen Mum’, I’m reflecting on some of the immovables in my journey; here are three that have stood out to me recently:

1.  Get your Word from God!

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. Matt 11: 28 – 30 (MSG)

There are so many inspiring people, books and blogs in this global community we live in today and I hear you, some of them have saved my sanity, and here am I sharing my two penneth worth on the blogosphere too (!) but we’ll never fully be able to walk out a conviction or revelation going on someone else’s journey, story and most of all children! There are markers and pillars in God’s Word that reveal His father’s heart – that’s what I’m looking for! So next time you feel inspired by someone else’s convictions or journey, go to God, process it with your spouse and don’t try to make all the changes the next day!

Stay close to God, listen to His heart for your family, for your lives and be free, be secure and be YOU!

Charlecote House Park 035

There are markers and pillars in God’s Word that reveal His Father’s heart – that’s what I’m looking for!

2. Saying sorry is really powerful!

Wow have I learnt this! Our children need to understand our frailties and our utter dependence upon God; this doesn’t produce insecurity or fear, this produces freedom! I remind my children frequently that the Gospel is for ALL; I am aware of the Holy nature of God, the sinful nature of my heart and thus my need of a saviour. When I mess up, let them down, get angry, am hypocritical (you know the list…) I say sorry and ask for their forgiveness. By doing this we’re not only humbling ourselves before God and those we love, we’re setting an example and teaching them that this is how we live.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self. 1 Cor 13 (MSG)

Charlecote House Park 144

3. Keep check on the condition of your soul!

Agh this is really hard, and I say it a lot to myself and others around me, but we can’t get away from it friends – our children ultimately learn from us. We are their example, their pattern, their markers in the road and their place of safe growth. This doesn’t mean we have to be perfect (phew), it mean we have to be submitted to God; the closer we walk to Jesus the more we’ll look like Him.

Charlecote House Park 062

Yes our children belong to God and we trust Him for their lives but He has placed them into our hands for such a time as this. He has gifted us with these precious lives and I for one desire to live a life worthy of this incredible calling of motherhood.

The mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom. Henry Ward Beecher

I am responsible for the condition of my soul; no one else can cultivate a devotional life, daily fan into flame the gift that God has put within me or throw me at His feet everyday – that’s my job.

And out of this cultivated heart and this peaceful spirit I mother my children.

I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Phil 4:8 (MSG)

Have you read my book ‘Moments On Mothering‘ yet?


Available on Kindle today!

Why Home Educating Is Actually All About Me – Part 2


What we plant in the soil of contemplation, we shall reap in the harvest of action

 – Meister Eckhart

We’ve just finished our first week back into our learning routine here at the Boden Academy; it has been mostly a great, productive week but not without its tears or troubles. We’ve stuck to schedule and tackled everything from simplifying fractions to phonics and everything in between!

We started a conversation back in August inspired by a Henry Ward Beecher thought “the mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom”; I was challenged and beautifully reminded that it’s our hearts, our attitudes and our very present lives that hold theirs. Educating our children is an incredible investment which goes way beyond the books; it’s an investment of time, heart and soul – your time, your heart and absolutely your soul!


We must cultivate our hearts in order to win theirs; as promised here are 3 of my simple tips for daily cultivating our hearts:

  1. Have a devotional routine

Obvious I know, but how many of us don’t? It’s vital to be devotionally anchored in order to brave the waves and winds of the day. There are so many incredible tools available now to cater for all learning styles; I love to listen to the Bible on YouVersion whilst on my exercise bike first thing in the morning. The first thing I hear (after my alarm) is the Word of God, I pray in the shower and then spend 20 minutes reading/writing/reflecting with coffee in hand before (hopefully) the sound of little voices shouting ‘Mum, we’re hungry’! I can’t fit hours of bible study in during this season of life but I’m hungry for His heart and presence so will make intentional space to daily fan the fire.

It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. Isaiah 55:11

2. Do what you love

We so often seem to forfeit fun and creativity in favour of sleep (smile), laminating school resources and scrolling down our Facebook feed. In Brené Brown’s book ‘Daring Greatly‘ she reports that one of the habits of the wholehearted is that they prioritise creativity. Rather than seeing ‘doing what we love’ as an indulgence, we need to see it as a necessity of the soul. Take a photo, sew bunting, go see a movie, write a script, read a poem (not on the school plan), scale a climbing wall, sing in a choir, arrange flowers; it doesn’t have to take hours.

“Art is all just perfectly imperfect.”
― Brené Brown

I don’t have tons of time for creative writing and reporting but my whole family know that my soul is richer when I actively squeeze it into my week; I try take photo’s every day and read a poem or quote that inspires me and brings joy.

My life is full, I wear many hats but if you find me quietly arranging books and a glass jar in the September sunlight, leave me be – I’m cultivating my heart!


3. Reflect and Reboot

Having a rough morning? Don’t be afraid to make a hard stop. How many times have you let a melt down at 8am impact your whole day, or a sibling scrap at lunch time monopolise your whole afternoon? I like the term ‘reboot’ as to me that means we can save the good stuff and get rid of the bad; we’re not necessarily ‘restarting’ we’re just rebooting our day and getting going again. Every morning is a restart, and we get to reboot throughout the day.

The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease.  Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.

Lamentations 3: 22-23

I do this by gathering everyone around the table; usually with a pot of tea and a snack! We talk, pray, I eyeball my children, hug them, make any apologies that need to be made and I set my expectations (again). When hearts are forgiven and connected they are free – and that’s our goal for the atmosphere of our homes and our hearts; freedom!

So, how’s your heart mama?

When hearts are forgiven and connected they are free – and that’s our goal for the atmosphere of our homes and our hearts; freedom!

Moments On Mothering – The Book


“I’m not very creative” doesn’t work. There’s no such thing as creative people and non-creative people. There are only people who use their creativity and people who don’t. Unused creativity doesn’t just disappear. It lives within us until it’s expressed, neglected to death, or suffocated through resentment or fear.
Brenè Brown

One of my goals before reaching 40 this summer was to publish a book; for the most part I kept it pretty quiet but the few friends who I shared this with (before I even started) looked wide eyed with disbelief, smiled and nodded in that fake encouraging fashion, which is OK – I may have reacted the same way if I was in their position! I’m a pretty determined person but this ‘project’ was more than sheer determination – this was me finally daring to step out into the arena to craft words. I’ve talked and dreamed of writing for many years; blogging my way through a few seasons of life helped establish some of what was dancing around in my head but ‘putting it out there’ with a price tag is a totally different ball game.

So here is part 1 of my ‘mothering’ series, ‘Moments on Mothering‘ – it’s a short collection of individual reflections from my journey of motherhood so far; each pieces should take you no more than 10 minutes to read and you can dip in and out as you please; I wrote it with the busy mama in mind!

These musings are in no way parenting advice or a motherhood heist; I’ve promised myself that I won’t write a ‘parenting book’ till my kids are at least in their 30’s! Each essay or poem is a reflection of my journey and personal observations as I’m living out this mayhem of maternity whilst doing my best to love my children, honour God and enjoy the ride.

The book launches just in time for our UK Mothers Day this weekend but you can pre-order it today ready to go live on your Kindle or device on Saturday 14th March.

If you enjoy this compilation of pieces please leave a review on Amazon and keep a look out this summer for part 2!

Guide to Making New Year’s Resolutions


2015 is beckoning, and as much as I love Christmas with its celebratory sparkle, my soul longs for the crisp clean beginning of a new year. As the last pine needle is deceptively swept away (we all know we’ll still be finding them in July), the dust is wiped from the forgotten festive mantle and the jingle bells are a distant echo; we nervously jump out of Christmas firmly attached to our parachute and we hear the call. To be resolute.

As you’re clearing away the left-overs and the piles of tiny shiny ‘Celebrations’ wrappers in the corner of the room from where you were sat late last night scribbling out your ‘change me’ wish list for January (at the top of that of course is ‘stop.eating.chocolate’) you’re already predicting how long into the new year this personal motion will sink deep into that deep ocean of another year…failed.

I think in terms of the day’s resolutions, not the years. Henry Moore

I’ve won some and I’ve lost some. I’ve succeeded and I’ve failed; but in every far reached, wholehearted, ‘still glad I’ve started’ attempt to ‘do better’ I’m still me.

I believe when God intricately, perfectly and peacefully knitted me together in my mothers womb He designed a unique and unknown pattern; He knew His turning chain as he formed my brain, He played His slip stitch ace as He sculpted my face. He made no mistake with His crochet. And He knew how much I’d weigh.

There is no one like me. There is no one like you.

You see when we so desperately want to better ourselves, we have to ask, is that what we’re really doing? Fully forming who God made us to be or trying to better that other image of that other person we’d rather be?

Let’s not do that – let’s not tell God He didn’t do a good enough job. Let’s give the Master Creator the glory He’s due for His finest work. You.

I’ll let you into a secret. 2015 is a big year for me; in August I’ll be turning 40. I’m an absolute goal setting, list making, must have a celebratory cake baking kind of gal for most ‘normal’ days, and this is BIG.

So I made a list: ’40 things before I’m 40′

The pressure of this list occasionally trickles on me like a desperate attempt at a morning shower in a ‘youth hostel’ in a remote African village. I count the months left on my fingers (eightish…)and then check the list again; phew – some are done:

Quit sugar

Set up a business from home

Wear lipstick more


Yet so many left, and with 8 months to go.

We so constantly put ridiculous pressure on ourselves don’t we? I remember earlier this year mentioning to my life coaching/goal setting extraordinaire type friend (I have a few…maybe I attract them ha!) that I’d made a list of 40 things…they commented that even they didn’t think they could come up with a list that long. At that point I started to wonder if I’d pushed the realms of ‘objectifying’ by defying time and space and reality. I mean really – 40?

So here’s my resolution solution which must be worked out with heartfelt execution: take 4 things, already authentically part of me and well planted but water them and grow them 10 times bigger. 40, right?

So here are 4 things I do everyday to varying degrees; here are 4 things I’m passionate about and that make me me; here are 4 things that I want to put 10 times more effort, time and wholeheart into, here are my 4 things:

  • Be caught by His heart and respond to His pursuit of my heart – daily commit to going deeper in my devotion to Father God

  • Cultivate relationships. Be intentionally ‘present’ in my marriage, family and friendships

  • Care about myself. Consistently commit to self-care; physical, emotional and spiritual

  • Create. Pursue creativity; write something, draw something, take a picture or just sing…but do it everyday!

So rather than adding the new why don’t you add to the already incredible, spectacular and wonderfully made you? Take one seed of ‘real’ from within you; something you think about all the time, something you wish you had time for and in 2015 water it…

Be your beautiful authentic self in this new coming year, dare to break the mould of failing attempts of perfection and performance and continue to write your story; yes it’s a raw and messy and unpredictable and sometimes late and a ‘not quite thin enough’ life – but it’s real. It’s you.

“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” Brene Brown

Why it’s OK to have a hero (and be one)


“I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” Christopher Reeve

The problem with ‘superheroes’ is that they’re all capes and disguise; they’re driven by hate or hurt or hardship – but we love them! We love it when they fight baddies overcome their obstacles and take over the world!

I have a 6 year old son who is pretty much superhero obsessed. He talks about them, draws them, writes their names over and over (and over) again; he acts out superhero scenarios and of course dresses up as them. He often tries to educate me in the world of superheroes; you know, facts like the importance of knowing the difference between DC and Marvel. Dave and I sat down to watch a Marvel super hero film a few weeks ago; as the movie started I happened to ask who the cute dark haired chick was collecting Captain America (or ‘Cap’ for you know it alls) at which point he look at me in utter disappointment, paused the movie and said “WHAT? Are you serious, you don’t know who that is? That’s Black Widow”.  Shame on me! I was the talk of the dinner table the next day; but I will never make that mistake again (smile).

The thing about my hero is that He’s driven by love; He came as a baby quietly into the world but He grew in wisdom and in stature and in favour with God and all the people (Luke 2:52). He wore compassion instead of a cape but He came to seek and save the lost.

“All heroes are shadows of Christ” John Piper

So why is it important to our human nature to have a hero? I guess we all need an authentic, flesh and bones picture of hope in our lives.

Our culture is so full of seemingly ‘perfect’ looking lives and people staring at us through the eyes of social media. We’re desperate to reveal the cool, pretty, fun, living aspects of our lives; and that’s OK, really it is – it’s a bit like sitting down with the world and flicking them through your favourite photo albums (you only put the best ones in right?).

And heroism isn’t to be be mistaken for idol worship – you know the mild youthful kind when you wanted to stick posters of ‘New Kids on the Block’ on your bedroom wall but your responsible, protective Christian parents wouldn’t let you (or was that only me?); no, a true hero for me lives an authentic life, has triumphed through brokenness, brings hope and moves me into a new realm of possibility. A true hero for me is walking a familiar path but sheds light further down the road. Which brings hope.

A true hero for me reveals Jesus. They show me that their lives are hidden in Him.

My heroes are mothers, writers, wives, leaders, innovators, forward thinkers and pioneers

Historically a hero is a warrior (sometimes bad, sometimes good) but they classically defend and protect – a bit like our masked characters pictured above.

Maybe our modern day heroes defend and protect us from the impact of the pain of the world and keep hope beating in our hearts

Maybe our modern day heroes defend and protect our dreams; keeping them alive – showing us the reality of living out the path we have already committed to walk

Maybe our modern day heroes defend and protect the Gospel – keep it running through our veins, we are not ashamed – it has power 

“I am of certain convinced that the greatest heroes are those who do their duty in the daily grind of domestic affairs whilst the world whirls as a maddening dreidel.”

Florence Nightingale

So I sometimes play this ‘If I was throwing a hero tea party who would I invite’ game (you’re allowed 5); here’s who’s on my guest list today:

Charlotte Mason, Ann Voskamp, Sally Clarkson (I happened to have tea with Sally in Oxford with a few other ladies on Tuesday, but that’s another story), Heidi Baker & Susanna Wesley

Who’s on your guest list?