balance.

It’s crazy that the girls have less than two weeks left until they’re back at school.  If anyone asked I’d say I’d just got back from Soul Survivor, but in fact we’ve been back for over three weeks.  The summer holidays have FLOWN over.

Ruby had her fifth birthday last week and we took her and her sister to Manchester to pick out a new outfit for their Build-a-bear teddies (the cashier stood Roo on the counter, stopped everyone in the store to sing happy birthday to her.  Personally I would have died of horror but she took it in her stride as though she were the queen) and to climb another 12m climbing wall.  Both girls climbed for the first time in July at a camp with ‘the big kids’ and were desperate to do it again.

 

FYI, it is really tough finding places that will let Ruby climb.  So I was over the moon when I saw that Chill Factore let them climb from age five.

IMG_3746

They both had a mental block 2/3 of the way up but pushed on through to the top.  Stubborn, like their mother.

Now that the weather is being as indecisive as I am, I’m ready for autumn.  I’m ready to wrestle myself into skinny Jeans.  I’m ready to wear boots again.  I’m ready for knowing it will be cooler.  I’m not ready for the countdown to Christmas which I caught on twitter yesterday – no.  Not in August.  Cooler autumnal days yes, Christmas, no.

There are loads of exciting things coming up over the next sixth months with work/church that I’m chomping at the bit to get going on, but I know there’s the risk of imbalance.  Of getting home, particularly when the dark evenings draw in, and crashing until bed time (unless it’s already bed time when I get home).  There’s a risk of being all work and no ‘home’.  I can’t say all work and no play because most of my ‘job’ feels like play because I love doing what I do.  But I do need to ‘do’ home too.  Family, friends, laughter, downtime, adventure.

I’ve written before about being intentional with our time.  Making it count.  That’s what got me started on my challenge -30.  And so in this next season I’m conscious again of the need to be intentional at home, to dream and then pursue those dreams no matter how trivial or outlandish they may be (I think it’s good to have both types of dreams).  And it’s ok if those dreams are meaningless or maybe even nonsensical to others.  I’m pretty sure no one else would get why I’m super excited to start a compost bin.  And I’m ok with that.  It’s my (albeit little) dream, I own it, so I can own the excitement too.  🙂

Sidenote: Regardless of how unimpressed or indifferent you are to my compost-bin-to-be, that won’t stop me from blogging all about it in all it’s worm infested glory.

It’s funny how, when you have babies, you fantasize about all the time you will have to yourself when they get older.  But you forget the minute detail that at least babies sleep for intervals through day.  Older Children don’t.  I used to get a blog post rolled out during a half hour nap AND have time left over to go to the loo.  I had it down.  And then these sleeping beauties….stopped sleeping.  During the day that is.  I have to be fair, they’re awesome at sleeping at night.  But during the day, they’re awake, like all the time.  While I love my girls so very very dearly and genuinely enjoy their company, over the summer I juggle my job and these two non-day-sleeping beauties.  So there have been a great many times that they have had my undivided attention, but a also a load of times that I have really needed to sit and concentrate.  I keep expecting them to just decide to take themselves off a read a good book, or do a cross word, maybe ask their sister for a quiet games of chess or something.  But no, most of the time it will be gymnastics.  On my lap.  So today is a typical day with non-napping kids, and it’s taken four sittings to write these ramblings.

I’m sure when they’re teenagers life will be a doddle…Ha.

so did I mention I’m starting a compost bin?

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things to bring to soul survivor

The #thingstobringwithyoutosoulsurvivor trend is exploding across twitter and with Soul Survivor announcing a competition for the best camping tip this afternoon it will no doubt reach the same fever pitch as the arrival of the new prince.  So I sat deciding what to add into the mix and tweeted one thing or another.  And then a few minutes I came up with something else, and then something else and then I couldn’t concentrate on a letter to our young people’s parents because I was too busy thinking up camping tips.

Last year in my excitement for SS and the emotional trauma of a not-quite-grown-out fringe I wrote A girls’ survival guide to camping.  But then I felt sorry for the guys out there – maybe because I know for a FACT that some our teenage lads take way longer preening themselves in front of a mirror than their female counterparts.  So I’ve said I’d update my survival guide – with a more neutral perspective in mind…

Survival tip #1:  Pack a hat!

beannie

Baseball cap, cowboy hat, sombrero if you want to – just something to cover your head.  If it rains, it will keep you dry.  If it’s hot it will keep you cool.  In the morning it covers bedhead and will save the day on a bad hair day.  Pack it, you won’t regret it.

Survival tip#2: Take an eye mask.

eye mask

 

You can kiss a good nights sleep goodbye for the week.  It’s just not going to happen.  And though the longest day of the year has past and gone (sigh) it is still getting light around 5am.  You do not want the sun waking you up at 5am.  Wrap one of these babies around your head and it’ll be nice and dark, and you can stay in the land of nod until your youth-leader wakes you up for breakfast, beating a saucepan with a wooden spoon right outside your tent.

Survival tip#3: Gear up for wet weather.

wellies

I know, I know.  We’ve had the best July I can remember.  Dry sunny day after dry sunny day.  But we have been warned that the weather is on the turn and I don’t know about you but If it does become muddy I don’t want to be squelching through it in my flip flops.  Grab a pair of wellies and a light rain coat and stuff them at the bottom of your bag. Just in case.

Survival tip#4: Turn the brightness down on your phone, turn off Bluetooth and turn off emails

brightness

(I’m not even going to bother suggesting that you turn off facebook, twitter or instagram or I’d be subject to a flogging).

It will save a TON of battery life and keep your precious phone going for longer. You’re welcome.

Survival tip#5: A contribution from Mr Tutus and Trainers.

My husband has been to Soul Survivor about 18 times since he started going as a young teenager.  So he is a weathered camper, presumably wise through his experience.  I asked him for a tip and he immediately came up with this:

“Pack a couple of boxershorts –  but don’t waste space packing too many, just use a pair then turn it inside out the next day…”

Really?!!?!

DON’T DO THAT FELLAS!! Do not listen to my husband – if you’re in any doubt at all, put the idea past a couple of girl mates – the look on their face will point you in the right direction on that choice.  SO PACK PLENTY OF UNDIES!!

BONUS TIP!!:

Boys look away now, girls this one’s for you: Invest in a Venus Intuition Razor.

intuition

These beauties have solid foam built around the blade – so you won’t need to faff around with shaving foam in those beautiful showers – a little water and bob’s your uncle; smooth legs with minimal effort! Love it.

Final Thoughts:

Dry shampoo,

Torch (to save you from tripping over those guy ropes),

Baby wipes,

Earplugs,

Matches/lighter for your stove,

First Aid Kit!

Bible, notepad, pen,

Spare Roll of loo paper!

 

Happy packing!!

 

 

 

a fail is sometimes a good thing.

Today I’m entering into the last week of my twenties.  I thought about this week a lot last year, as I got ready to turn 29, half way through my self imposed 2-year challenge of ticking off 30 experiences before I have to admit that I am in fact a fully-fledged grown up.  But I’ve not so much as given a second thought to my much deliberated Challenge-30 bucket list recently; if it was an actual list, on an actual piece of paper it would likely have been scrunched up and thrown in the bin.  For a long time it just wasn’t important to me.

But these last couple of days, the achiever in me has looked at the list and shaken her head in disgrace.  I have not managed to tick everything off.  Tut tut tut.

Then I realised I’d turned my bucket list into something it was never supposed to be.  It had became all about achieving success in the challenge, getting it completed.  I’d missed the whole point of it – because I started this thing with the intention of creating opportunities to embrace experiences I’ve not yet lived, not about ticking off some words on a list.

images

 

 

It’s not like at thirty I’d suddenly become unable to live out these fun things! Quite the contrary I’m sure – the older I get the more I thrive on trying new things.  Although I’m all for living for today and (trying to) not stress about what tomorrow brings, I’m kinda ok that I’ll enjoy some of the stuff on my list at 30.  Or 31 or 41.  And the list will only get bigger because I’ll find so much more that I want to try out and enjoy.  I still hold that the idea of a bucket list is a good one, because it gets you thinking about what you’d really like to do that you’ve not done before.  A metaphoric kick up the backside to simply live.  It’s made me realise I need to give myself a break sometimes and let the completer-finisher in me a chance to have a nice ol’ nap.

So I failed my Challenge-30 Bucket List.  And for me, right now, I think that’s a good thing.

Hi, I’m back.

I’ve tried to do this a bunch of times over the last five months.  Jump back into the saddle.  Get writing again.  But that saddle just seemed too high.  Too much.  I’m aware that those readers who joined me along the way have long since given up stopping by my blog.  So I’m more doing this for me.  Because I love to write.  And because if I used a journal or notepad, sooner or later I’d end up losing it along with the thoughts I’m trying to preserve for the future me to look back on.

For more than four years I have put a piece of me into every blog post I write.  My dashboard tells me I did that 320 times.  But it’s not a matter of keeping it going for the sake of what I’ve already written; it’s a matter of preserving space for what I’m yet to write.  Not to be some big shot writer (I’m a realist to a fault) but just because it’s what I love.  It’s what’s good for me.

To say it’s been a hard year feels so understated.  There will be a time, and I feel strongly about this, that will feel right to talk about it.  To be real and raw and honest, to give hope.  But ultimately to give honour and glory to God who is able to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine.  I used to just believe that, but now I know it to be true, without a flicker of doubt.  Because I’ve seen it and lived it.  And whatever your experience, when you live it you tell it, you can’t not.  But that time isn’t now, not yet.  My now is full of embracing life as it is, scratching my head over tomato plants that don’t grow tomatoes and getting comfy back in this saddle 🙂

 

mountains.

It feels like I’ve not blogged for a cetury.  My iphone keeps me so connected with people that I can drop snippets of thoughts all the time rather than sit and be proactively thoughtful.  Lazy lazy.

I tweeted earlier this week that I’m now prescription meds free in over 16 months.  Yep, paracetamol is my drug of choice now.  And my hot water water bottle.  I love waking up in the morning feeling tired in the regular way instead of through the fuzz of amitriptyline.  It’s like I’ve come out of hibernation.

I’m confident to start building my walking up now.  One of the challenges I gave myself was to climb a mountain before I turned 30 this summer.  I guess I’ve climbed a whole other kind of mountain but it would be awesome if I could do a real one.  I expect it’ll be later than I thought – I may have to transfer it to what I want to do before I’m 40, ha! But I need to get stronger anyhow, so it makes sense to have an incentive.  I just need to find the lowest mountain in the uk…!

 

 

to do lists and hamster wheels.

Image

This is my huddle of gorgeous young women, or most of them.  My serrogate teenager isnt in the picture because she was having a teen ‘moment’, ha!  I seriously love them all.  I’m torn in a maternal struggle of wanting them to dream big dreams, chasing after those dreams with everything they have – and wanting to wrap them all in cotton wool, trying to protect them from any pain.  But when I step back and tell myself to get a grip (I have to do that a lot) I know that I could never do that and all I can do is try and equip them for the challenging but thrilling reaity of life and the awesome plans their creator has for them.

As I sat down with these girls yesterday, we started to look at the book of James in the Bible.  Its a letter written, most probably, by Jesu’s half-brother to the Jews during the time of the early church, after Jesus had smashed death and went back up to heaven.  Right at the beginning of the letter he approaches the innevitability of having troubles in life.  Cheerful start.

No one’s immune from having a rough time every so often.  Not me, not my pastor, not my baby girls and not my young people.  It’s part of life.

Our impulse with anything less than pleasant is to want out.  And fast.  I’m completely target minded and I have been known to do a little dance when I’ve crossed something off on a list, particularly if it was something I had been avoiding.  I love that feeling of phew I’ve done it, I dont need to think about that again.  It’s done.  Only with me, as soon as I’m done with one thing, something replaces it straight away (been there??) – so you find yourself on a hamster wheel always chasing being done.  But as a mum, and a mum that likes to be in control, I have become familiar with frustration for six years because I never seem to reach the end of ‘the list’ of what needs doing.

But this morning, listening to this podcast (Steven Furtick from Elevation Church) I just got it.  A lot of what Im writing is coming from a middle-of-the-night session of insomnia and this podcast.  You might have got it a long time ago and I’m just being slow.  But he was talking all about it being a process not a project.  ‘life’ isn’t supposed to be ‘done’ and polished off.  When I’m on that hamster wheel (I’d use a treadmill as an analogy but to be quite honest, a hamster wheel is probably more believable) and I’m trying to get to the end, to finish ‘it’, I’m just going to exhaust myself trying and become dejected with hopelessness.

exhausted

source

We can miss a lot of growth within the journey when we’re just trying to get it over with.  Even the hard and painful stuff.  Especially the hard and painful stuff.

Steven furtick talks about a Prison of war in Vietnam – Admiral Jim Stockade – who was held captive for over 8 years and regularly tortured.  He got out alive – and so its a happy ending.  It’s easy to see hope in something when you know the ending, right?  He was interviewed and asked how he held onto his faith when he didnt know what the ending was going to be.  His answer was this;

“I never lost my faith in the end of the story.  I never doubted not only that I would get out but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into a defining event of my life which in retrospect I would not trade.”

Impressed, the interviewer asked Jim who didnt make it out.  Jim answered “oh thats easy, the optimists“.

Completeley confused the interviewed told Jim he didn’t understand, after that what he’d just said about faith, and so Jim continued:

“They were the ones who said ‘we’ll be home by christmas’ but christmas would come and go and then they’d say ‘we’ll be out by easter’ but easter would come and go. Then it would be thanksgiving and then christmas again.  They died of a broken heart.  This is an important lesson: You must never confuse faith that you WILL prevail in the end, which you can never afford to lose, with the discipline to confront even the most brutal facts of your reality, whatever they might be.”

I found that staggering.  A beautiful balance of faith and the courage we need to face our realities.  Denial just pretends to be our friend.

Our situations sometimes really suck.  It’s not easy.  But there’s promise of growth and goodness in this process we call life and there’s someone who can walk with you through it.  He’s called Jesus.

Tv diet.

I’m always blathering on about being intentional. With what we do, in what we think and what we decide. Life can pass us by with us stuck in neutral. Maybe it’s just the control freak in me.

It’s way too easy to flop onto the sofa in the evenings and watch whatever is on tv whether we wanted to watch it or not. I don’t want to even try and guess how many hours I’ve wasted doing that. So we try not to do that in our home anymore. We watch what we want to watch, guilt free, via Netflix, sky plus and online demand tv. I may be slightly too addicted to Vampire Diaries but it does mean that when we’re not watching something the Tv Is actually off. Novel, right?!

Tonight is one of those rare nights that The Husband and I will be staring at the big silver box in the corner of our living room. We have a date with corrie. I don’t even really watch it anymore but we both wanted to see what crazy Kirsty does on her wedding day. Don’t say we don’t live on the edge!