Consuming content or choosing content?

Staying home has meant more time on our hands. We are scrolling more, reading more and watching more. But what are you watching?

God has been really speaking to me out of Proverbs 31 and I wanted to share some thoughts from verse 27 with you.

She carefully watches over everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness ~ Proverbs 31:27 NLT

She carefully watches. She watches what is going on in her home, what her children are watching, what they are watching her watching.

Over the last two weeks I have found it so easy to mindlessly scroll, reading reports that bring fear and despair, watching programmes that make me angry or on edge. What we watch has an impact on our soul.

Jesus said “Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body.” What He meant by that was that we need to be mindful of what we look at. Be careful what we watch, because we cannot unsee something we have seen. The truth is the world is a scary place right now. But rather than consume content which further heightens our anxiety, we need to choose content that fills us and builds us.

The dictionary tells us that the noun content is a thought, a subject, or subject matter. Content can be a burden; as we consume it it can sit heavily in our hearts, dominate our thoughts. Jesus doesn’t want us to hold these burdens, He wants us to exchange them for His peace. But even more than that He promises to show us how.

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-fighting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly Matthew 11:29-30.

I won’t lay anything heavy on you or ill-fitting on you.

There is a lot of heaviness in the world, but we aren’t called to hold it. There is a lot of darkness in the world but we don’t have to be a part of it. If the eye is a lamp to our body then we need to make sure that what we are watching floods our soul with light not darkness. Watching movies and scrolling Facebook isn’t the problem, but what we are looking at can be.

As Christians, we can choose to be content despite the chaos. To choose to be still when the storms rise around us. But to do that we need to be carefully watch everything in our household.

R x

Learning lessons

At first glance this looks like a father and son moment; a lesson in handling a saw and managing a garden. The truth is it is a lesson in handling consequences and managing poor decisions.

Look closer at the picture, do you see the tree on the right? It has a huge branch torn off the trunk because my son swung on it and it ripped the tree.

That wasn’t just a tree, and the damage isn’t just a broken branch. That was my favourite tree, adorned with lanterns and bird feeders. It was special to me because it helped me manage my discontent in living in the city, it brought me such joy to seeing the wild birds hopping around in its branches and it provided shelter as we played in the garden

As a new homeschooler I am trying so hard to cultivate an environment of love and joy both in my garden and in my home, but I rarely seem to succeed of late. We have strong willed children who challenge us often and at the end of the a tough week this broken branch spoke of my broken my heart.

I knew parenting wouldn’t be easier but I never dreamed it would be so hard. I didn’t know how much it could hurt when your flesh and blood acts out. I want to fight for my children, not against them. I often wish I could ‘fix’ them, but perhaps this has more to do with my own iniquities rather than theirs.

I am not just a mom, I am a daughter of the King. And when I feel like I can’t, He can.

God created me to be a mama and He gave me these children to raise. I am going to need to learn some lessons of my own in raising my wildlings.

So today as I gather the remains of my beloved boughs, I gather my thoughts and give them to God. Time to go back to the Source to find our Selah. 

R x

The Home School Diaries #3

I got it wrong today. Okay not just today, but spectacularly so on this occasion. This time it was with my middle child, my easiest by far and my least demanding. He is so often overshadowed by his more vocal siblings or overlooked as he is generally happy to go with the flow.

We were doing our daily devotions (yes I know, the irony is not lost on me) and I was asking him to read aloud from his Bible, like I do every morning. He was dragging his feet, messing about and flicking through the pages at a snails pace. My impatience boiled over, my little boy crumpled, his tears tumbled and my heart broke.

I drew him into my arms and said I was sorry. He said he didn’t understand how to find what I had asked him to read and I realised he needed me to explain it better. All too often I expect so much of him as I am busy dealing with his two year old sister (I had already dealt with two potty incidents before I finished reading my devotional page aloud).

I lifted my son onto my lap and I asked if he wanted me to sit with him and talk it through with him. He looked up at me with tearstained cheeks and nodded. We then spent a happy half hour together, my boy snuggled on my lap while I spoke softly and encouraged him. I showed him the different parts of the Bible, how it is made up of the Old and New Testament, and contains 66 books. We looked at the content page and we found today’s scripture together. He read it beautifully and we finished our devotional with smiles on our faces and love in our hearts.

Being a mom of three, I feel constantly pulled in every direction, and never more so than when it comes to teaching my children. They all need different approaches, different atmospheres, different content. But one thing that they all need is love.

The one thing that my children need most is my love

I need to teach them from a place of love, of patience and of acceptance. I am their mom first, educator second. My job is to love the bones off those kids so that they feel safe and cherished, which will empower them to learn. I need to not bark out instructions but learn alongside them.

That is just the way that God works too. He is a loving Father who wants to love the bones off us, if only we will let Him. He doesn’t want us to flail around or panic because we don’t know what to do. He wants us to come to Him and say Papa I don’t understand. Then He can swoop down and scoop us into His arms and talk us through it.

When I experience the love of God it makes it far easier to love in all circumstances.

As they say, every day is a school day, and this new homeschool mama is on a learning journey too.

R x

The Homeschool Diaries #2

So by the school calendar, we are about to complete our first half term as homeschoolers! People keep asking me, how is it going? How does it feel? The short answer is liberating and exhausting!

First off, my favourite thing is no school run. Let’s be honest, NO ONE likes the school run. Getting three people out of the door by 8.20am required the patience of a saint and a miracle of God. In their absence it resulted in rushed breakfasts, tired kids, shouty parents and tears on the journey. Not fun.

Now our days start slower. Still early (thanks boys) but not rushed. We have a leisurely morning, and try not to arrange things before 10am. Our girl is in nursery two days a week so the boys and I hit the library or attend home ed groups such as CHEW (Christian Home Educators Warwickshire). Other days are taken up with National Trust trips, picnics and park dates.

As we aren’t starting a curriculum until September it all feels very much like the school holidays with projects thrown in. But as any parent will tell you, 4-5 weeks into the summer break and we all ready to send them back to school. And we are there.

It’s not all fun and games finding a new rhythm

It’s not all fun and games, and finding our new rhythm as a family has been hard on us all. My eldest misses structure and routine. My two boys are bickering A LOT. And I have a two year old. Enough said. Our home is busy, but when you are together 24/7 things can feel very intense.

I have been tempted to start our curriculum early to placate my 9yo, but I know we all need this period of deschooling. Even their stomachs are run by the school timetable! They routinely say “we would have a snack now at school”. What I have implemented is a weekly homeschool planner to plot our events, groups, library visits and play dates so the children can see what’s coming up. This will also help me to indicate the days I need to work, so we can all be respectful of each other’s time.

That said, we are all loving not being tied to the school routine. I believe that children are meant to be wild and free. We can now play out a bit longer at the park, or linger over treasures found in the woods. We can read an extra chapter of a book or watch another episode. And all the time that we have this extra time, I am watching.

And all the time that we are together I am watching.

Watching what they like and dislike. Watching how they play and interact. Watching what they need and when they need it. Trying to be intentionally present so that I might better meet their needs.

Homeschool is hard. So is parenting. But I am choosing to be present over perfect and trying my best. And so far, it’s the best decision I ever made.

R x

Just Another Manic Monday?

Monday’s are the toughest day of the week for many. Statistically, it is the day with the highest number of heart attacks and suicides. At some point our mind or our bodies gives way to mounting pressure, at work, at home, at school, at university.

I used to dread Monday because that was the day Dave went back to work and I was left all alone with three kids. It was a time when I was struggling to love myself much less anyone else, and my mental health left me reeling, afraid and anxious. If you had told me two years ago that I would be healthy, happy and homeschooling I would have laughed in your face.

But God. 🙌🏻

He never left me and I know He won’t leave you. Even when I felt like I was crawling through Monday on my hands and knees, even when I felt alone, even when I wanted it all to end, to run away and start again, when I look back now I know that He was with me.

No matter what has happened, no matter what you are facing, know this: you are loved by a creator who finds such joy every time He lays eyes on you. And friend, He never takes His eyes off you. Not for a minute.

Progress can be painful, change takes time, and life can seem like a struggle. But I want to encourage anyone who is gong through something that you are also growing through something. God doesn’t leave us foundering, He can make a miracle out a mess. I can say this because I was there, and He has brought me here today.

Write down where you have come from and what you have been through. I promise you, the seeds you have sown, the toil that you out in, and the tears that have watered it, will bring forth growth. It may be slow and steady but it will happen. Shoots will spring up and buds will form. Even if you can’t see the growth right now, rest assured that just like a spring bulb wrestling in the dirt to find the light, there is movement happening in the darkness.

One day you will read your story again and see God’s love, grace and provision woven through every page. There is a plan and a purpose on your life, just sit still in the Son and trust God to get you there.

R x

Everything I never wanted

It is Mothers Day, and this is the first one as a mom of three that I am actually looking forward to. Last year I was dreading the emotions (or lack thereof), that I would feel when my children bundled into bed with me.

I consider myself crazy blessed as a mom of three, but I wouldn’t wish my motherhood journey on anyone. Before I had my first child I knew a little about postnatal depression and knew of people who experienced it, but I learned so much more when I actually experienced it. I had moderate postnatal depression after my second son was born.

I put my tiredness down to juggling two, I put my desolation down to long days and sleepless night. It took me five excruciating months to get professional help with my maternal mental health and medication and conversation helped me through one of the darkest times. Fast forward a few years to the adoption of our daughter. A perfect princess to complete our family, yet when she arrived, my world came crashing down once again.

Motherhood seemed to be everything I never wanted

It seemed so unfair. I wanted to feel happy and proud but I felt terrified and trapped. I wanted to cherish and treasure my babies but I was angry and ashamed. All I had ever wanted was to be a mom, yet not once, but twice my mental health suffered as a result. I had done everything ‘right’, prepared, planner and prayed, yet postnatal and post adoption depression and anxiety tried to crush me.

But it failed.

Because my God is greater.

If you are facing tough times please know that you are not alone.

God will never leave you nor forsake you, even if you feel like He has.

I spent hours, literally hours on my knees crying and screaming out to God to fix the mess I was in, to take away the pain. I didn’t feel Him but I know He was there. And now as I look at my babies, I look back and see that while I was holding on to hope, God was holding onto them.

He cradled my baby when I couldn’t.

He soothed troubled hearts while mine was overwhelmed.

He did what I wouldn’t, then when I was ready He gently handed them back to me.

Mama, if you are reading this in the wee hours of the night because you cannot sleep, or with tears rolling down your cheeks because you know how it feels to want to just run away from everyone, everything, please know you are not alone. I was there, twice. I made it through and you will too.

Check out our Facebook group Moms on Mental Health for friendship and support with other mamas who have overcome depression or are still battling through it. We are stronger together and we would love to cheer you through the dark days.

R x

Just a mom?

You are more than just a mom. Those words actually make me wince.

Today is International Women’s Day and social media is all lit up with phrases like ‘you are more than just a mom, you are a woman, you can rule the world’. Hashtags like #girlboss #bossbabe #girlpower and #thisgirlcan constantly remind us that we can have our cake and eat it, that our identities are not found in the mouths we feed or in the nappies we change, but are found in the very core of our being, in our passions, gifts and talents.

As the next generation of powerful women, we are called to use our passions and become entrepreneurs, CEO’s, politicians and public speakers. We are women, hear us roar, and we are destined for greatness.

But what if you are destined to be a mother?

But what if you are destined to be a mother? What if, since you were a little girl, all you have dreamed of is holding your very own baby in your arms and raising a family?

What if you just wanted to be a mom?

I am a big advocate for women achieving all they can be and more, and I don’t want to offend anyone who thinks I don’t approve of their life choices. Your personal path in life is exactly that; personal. I love that women can run FTSE100 companies and manage to run a household at the same time. I love that women can hustle with the best of them in the board room then come home to read bedtime stories. I love that women can lead our country, do all these things and more, providing that they are happy and fulfilled while doing them.

As for me? I have always just wanted to be a mother. Sure I have talents; I am a voracious reader and as you might have guessed an avid blogger to boot. I love networking, communicating and being creative. I am passionate about writing, in pretty much any form, from web content for a client, to worship songs on my piano. But I don’t see myself as a writer who is also a mom, I see myself as a mom who is also a writer.

I don’t see myself as a writer who is also a mom,
I see myself as a mom who is also a writer.

Rightly or wrongly, motherhood is an identity that I truly identify with. I see it as less of a label and more of a mantle bestowed upon me by God Himself. Yes, there are days when I might gladly trade my beautiful children for wild animals, in the hope that the animals will be easier to control, but by and large, motherhood is, in my humble opinion, the greatest role I will ever have. And if you don’t agree with my thinking, then guess what? That is ok too!

Alongside my husband, I am responsible for shaping three little lives. I am responsible for keeping them safe while teaching them how to eat, drink, speak, dress and navigate this dark world in which we live. As a mother, my role is to ultimately prepare my children for life without me, and I don’t want this responsibility to fall on anyone else’s shoulders but mine.

I am so incredibly grateful for my self-employed businesses, which means I get the best of both worlds; the freedom to raise my family and the finances to help support our home lives. I love my work and I don’t take it for granted. But I do want to acknowledge the stay at home mom’s who have chosen to commit to the most incredible, selfless and, at times thankless, job of raising their family full time.

On International Women’s Day 2019, whether you are high flying career mom or homeschooling hippie mom, (or both!) please remember this:

You are not just a mom, you are a manager of a human being.

And that, my friend, is pretty awesome.

R

Finding me

All I have ever wanted is to belong. Isn’t that what we all want?

I grew up surrounded by abusive relationships, marriage breakdowns and bitter individuals. I have seen families torn apart by anger that was incited decades ago. I was fought over in the courts. I have never known, nor perhaps ever will know the full story behind the turbulent childhood I had. But what I do know, is that I have always sought to belong, to be accepted, to be approved of.

Thinking I could rectify the past with good works, I have always strived to be good – good at school, good at horse riding, good at art. I was always in the top sets and always pushing myself but this was never enough to gain the love and acceptance that I craved.

I went to university to study, one of the first in my family to do so, and I thought would impress, but it didn’t and I left without graduating.

I felt like a failure. But God.

He didn’t need me to do anything to impress Him or make Him take notice of me. God had watched me all along, He never took His eyes off me. He knew me inside and out, and He was insanely jealous for my affection. When I turned to Him, aged 21, He became the Cornerstone in my life, the anchor for my soul.

But I still strived. It’s all I knew to do.

I thought I could make up for the past by creating the perfect family. I pinned my hopes and dreams on creating the perfect home, the perfect family. I married an incredible man and we begin to build our family, but even so things began to unravel.

Sometimes it’s only when we are on our knees that we remember to look up

I found myself spiralling in anxiety and depression wondering where it had all gone so horribly wrong. I found myself floundering, utterly lost and asking Who am I? What am I here for? Do I need to be a Wife? Mother? Speaker? Writer?

I cried out to God and His reply was simple; You are my daughter.

Ever impatient, I asked, so what am I supposed to do?

His reply; Do what you love.

I sat back reeling, because I didn’t know the answer. What did I love? Jesus, family, friends? No the answer to finding me wasn’t in who I loved but what. And slowly over the last five years God has been peeling me back later by later, to rediscover my loves.

Do what you love ~ Father God

When we bought our first house, God whispered into my heart to get a piano. I found a beautiful vintage one on FreeCycle and arranged to collect it. My husband thought I had gone insane and that it was a fad that I would get bored with, but three years on I still play my piano almost every single day.

Our house is in a busy area and it wasn’t until we lived somewhere so urban that I realised how much I craved the great outdoors. We make an effort to get the children outside the city and into the woods, fields and mountains as often as possible. Both Dave and I grew up in the countryside and we continue to feel such a pull towards a simpler, rural way of life.

And then there is my writing. I have written as long as I can remember. Poetry, stories, songs and later blogs. But only in recent years have I realised the power in sharing my musings. I have always searched for a niche, not feeling that I fit into the usual parent blogger or lifestyle blogger categories. God gave me incredible tools in essential oils to support my emotional and physical health, and lately I have used this platform to share more about my wellness journey with others.

So what have I learned in all this? That God has given me gifts and talents. He has given me hopes and dreams. And He doesn’t need me to ‘be’ anyone or ‘do’ anything. In the same way that I take delight in seeing my children come alive in their giftings, so too does God delight in me. I don’t need a label, or a category. I just need to rest in the knowledge that I am a child of God and do what I love.

I am still finding ‘me’. But there are less layers to peel back and she is starting to peek through.

R x

You make it possible

Wednesday is my favourite day of the week. Why? Because it is a downhill slide on your backside to the weekend! Anyone who is parenting one small person (or multiples if you are truly reckless like me) will know that when your other half walks through the door on a Friday you can finally relax knowing that no longer are you the only source of entertainment / food / drink / discipline in the house.

To all the Dad’s, Step Dads, partners and parents of stay at home or self-employed moms; we salute you.

You make it possible to face another day of refereeing bickering boys and darling divas. You make coffee. Seriously, this is better than diamonds for most mommas! (OK maybe not quite). You make it possible for us to cook a reasonable dinner once or twice a week while you entertain the masses. You make it possible for us to resist cracking open a bottle of Pinot Grigio before 7pm (just).

But, more importantly, because you are working all the hours of the day (and night) you make it possible for us to do the school runs and wish our babies a great day as we wave them on. You make it possible for us to sit in assemblies with tear-soaked tissues as we watch our little one make their stage debut. You make it possible for us to cheer them on at sports days and you make it possible for us to be at home to mop fevered brows and give cuddles on demand when needed.

Children need their mommas, whether that is a birth mom, step-mom, foster mom, adoptive mom or spiritual mom. To be a full-time parent often requires a full-time salary sacrifice, and this usually has to be made up for somewhere else, be that benefits, partners or your own parents.

Being a full-time parent often requires a full-time sacrifice

To other halves everywhere, and especially to my own, thank you for enabling me and other mommas like me to raise our babies at home. Thank you for then coming home to take some of the load off us, despite having had a crazy week yourselves. Whether  we are juggling diapers or deadlines, you are our constant source of love, support, encouragement, guidance and strength. On the days when we can’t go on, or flat-out just don’t want to, it is your hand that pulls us up, dusts us down and sets us on our way again.

You make it possible.

We couldn’t do it without you, and quite frankly we wouldn’t want to.

R x

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Finding the lovely in everyday life

Nothing like quite a blog rebrand is there? My blog has enjoyed several face lifts and name changes over the years, but this current one somehow seems more poignant than ever.

Have you ever wanted to find your place? Your purpose? Your calling?

I am a self-confessed people pleaser, searching for the one true reason that I was put on this earth, wanting to hone in on that talent, that gift, that passion that I have been blessed with and run with it to the best of my ability.

Of course, the truth is we all have many talents, many gifts, many passions. I love to sing, and worship music is something that is incredibly close to my heart. I have tried to pursue this calling and advance in my ministry but have been met with a wall limiting my growth and holding me back. I love to write, and dream of writing my own story, pouring my life into the pages in the hope that my experiences could help somebody else, yet it never seems to be the right time. I love being a mother, and this lifelong desire to raise a family is now realised, yet I have found myself struggling with depression and mom-guilt.

Trying to fixate on just one gift is like trying to a child that once he has learned to walk that is all he can ever do. He shouldn’t try to run, ride, hop, skip or jump – sounds ridiculous, right?

All through my life, I have tried to please others. To get others to notice me, to recognise my giftings, to use my talents. Not in an egotistical way, but because rightly or wrongly I find my self-worth in what other people think. This applies to my blog too, to a certain extent, as I have always wanted to find my ‘niche’.

My very first blog was a craft blog, Sing Sew Write, inspired by my heroine Kirsty Allsopp following her successful series Kirstie’s Homemade Home. I documented my attempts at patchwork cushions, decoupage and even managed a crochet blanket, however, I soon ran out of ideas within my skill set, not to mention time after my second son was born.

I then thought that a mommy blog was the way forward, and Boys and Babyccinos was born. I loved documenting my adventures with my sons, but soon felt torn between wanting to share their lives and wanting to protect their identities. My husband and I agreed that in this media hungry world we needed to limit our children’s exposure on the world wide web, and so Boys and Babyccinos was no more.

After that I decided to go for a more generic blog, using my name Rachel Rae Writes and began sharing my journey with Jesus. As I was taking to time to study the Bible or spend time in God’s presence, He would drop little nuggets of wisdom into my mind and pretty soon I was writing mini-sermons that spoke into my soul. This has continued for a while until we embarked on our adoption journey and our third child, a daughter arrived.

To say that adoption rocked our world is an understatement. The assessment process itself is at best like having your home life raided by social workers with a search warrant. The approval process and eventual matching are both extraordinary and excruciating, and the introductions and birth parent meetings leave you reeling in every which way. Then there is the integration of a brand new little life into an established and, in our case, exuberant family. We have been on the most incredible journey, one that has left us elated and exhausted, delighted and depressed, complete and cautious. Yet, to protect our family we have chosen not to share the details publicly.

So where does this leave my blog? What should I write?

As a professional writer and chronic oversharer, I am rarely left without something to say, however, I feel that the focus of my blog needs to not just shift, but be removed entirely. Why can’t my blog cover many topics? Why can’t I be interested in and passionate about many things? I believe that over the past 12 months or so, I have undergone a major change in my thinking, I have found my worth in God and not in my giftings. He doesn’t want to pigeon-hole me, He wants to pursue me. He wants to see my find my feet as a daughter of the King and not be defined by a role or responsibility. He wants me to live free from restriction and restraint, to run with my imagination, to realise my dreams.

I want to share my life with you, the journey that I am on personally, both with God and with my young family. We are about to embark on a new chapter in our story and are so tantalisingly close to an exciting future as a family of five. My impatient nature wants to run ten steps ahead but my heart tells me to be still and wait. There is beauty in the waiting. There is a miracle in the middle. There is lovely in life. While I wrestle with my new normal there is much to see, much to enjoy. There are moments of pure calm and sheer bliss amongst the many moments of muddied waters and stormy seas.

As I navigate unchartered territories, I cling to the One who calms the storm, the One who created the seas, and I will seek to share a window into my world with this new blog Little Rae Life. I hope you will join me on the journey, I thnk we are in for quite a ride!

Rae x