The head knowledge

Do you ever find yourself coming across the same topic from numerous sources? Like it keeps coming up over and over and you get to the point that you start thinking that perhaps you should start piecing together?

For me the past few days have seen the same topic coming up. The topic involves self worth, body image, caring for and loving yourself. It’s not a new topic for me but it is something that I’ve never come to a positive conclusion on.

I didn’t lose weight the way I wanted to this week. I was annoyed. I didn’t deserve a tiny gain (and yes I can see that it is a tiny gain, but I still didn’t deserve it!) I was cross that my body doesn’t respond the way that scientifically it should. Calories in minus more calories out should scientifically equal less weight. SCIENCE SUCKS. Well that’s my current opinion! I’ll get over it, well I may get over it!

Going back to the topic of self worth and body image, the question my devotion book (Savor: Shauna Niequiest) posed to me today was:

What would it take for you to live well in your body this season?

My immediate reaction is to think along physical lines; lose weight, lose inches, get nice clothes. I move onto mental thoughts; be more confident, accept where I am, recognise my progress. However, because of the series of repeated messages my brain moved on to the idea of the renewing of my mind.

The devotional email that I had read first thing this morning was all 3 steps for renewing your mind. And so with that fresh in my mind I was prompted to back to look back to the email and I pulled out a few keys words for each of the steps:

Renewing you mind

  1. Recognise negative thoughts – Does this thought help me? Is it true? Does it steal my peace? Does it match with God’s word? – Awareness is the first step to controlling thoughts
  2. Reject negative thoughts – If you’ve decided it’s not really true, don’t allow yourself to entertain it any more. – Take control of what you’re thinking rather than letting it run rampant.
  3. Replace negative thoughtsWe have the authority and power to reject those negative thoughts and shift them to be more positive. 

Tracie Miles: Proverbs 31 Ministries

I think I probably do step one most of the time. I think I probably don’t do step two or step three! I’m an overthinker. I’m a look at the worst case scenario and then let that develop for the next 3 days thinker. I recognise this as part of my personality but I just don’t seem to be able to win. Although to be fair on myself I’m not sure how much I try and there are times when my overthinking is actually a positive part of my personality it’s just that for it to be a positive part it was to be based on step one above in particular IT IS EVEN TRUE?!?!?!

I decided to spend some time thinking about what I know (my head knowledge) of what God thinks about me. I came up with 27 “I am…..” statements.

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I was quite surprised how many I could come up with and to be fair I could probably think of more if I hadn’t filled the page with these ones. 

What I’m beginning to realise is that I have the head knowledge for a transformed heart and for the negative to stop winning, I’m just know sure I have the heart feelings to go with it. As a feeler in personality that’s a big deal! 

Perception or more?!

This is mostly a rant at myself but you know I can rant at you too if it’ll help?!

Why am I so easily influenced by the worldly perception that showing weaknesses is failure? Why do I let that perception rule my internal thought processes? Why do I seem to think that only perfection is enough for those around me. My whole emotional existence seems to be easily destroyed by such simple comparisons, comments, observations and overthinking.

I’m tired of trying to be wonder-wife, supermum, the incredible friend, captain weight loss and any other super hero you can think of.

It can be putting myself down as a wife because I failed to clean the bathroom or didn’t finish dinner at the time I was aiming for.

Or berating myself because the supermum I aspired to be first thing in the morning turned into the toddler watching almost an entire serious of Fireman Sam whilst the baby naps instead of doing fun activities like making a fire engine out of a box! (and I somehow still didn’t manage to clean the bathroom?!?)

Or a rubbish friend because I forgot something like sending a message or not encouraging someone enough.

Or even just as a person aiming to lose weight. I *should* have lost more. I *shouldnt* have eaten that.

My overthinking mind influenced by a perception from somewhere, where I don’t know, tells me I am not enough and I cannot be enough until I am always achieving.

One of closest and most valuable, lovely friends sent me this the other day.


What if I could live in that mindset?! I don’t really know how it would help me get the bathroom cleaned, the fire engine made, the messages sent or the weight lost but I suspect somewhere God would make it work!!

Achieving is important. Achieving gets things done. Achieving motivates me to do more achieving but the perfectionism and the negative impact that goes with that achieving will destroy me.

So when I feel overwhelmed with an under whelmed soul and an overthinking mind maybe I need to just stop and remember I was made for me!

Being a mum is hard

Now before you jump on me I’ve already written a post about being a dad being hard so you’ll have to scroll and find it, but it’s true that being a mum is hard.

Being a mum has probably always been hard. Let’s face it the physically hard part hasn’t got harder, maybe it’s actually got easier with all the gadgets we have to help us. But maybe, just maybe the mental side has got harder. Bare with me…

Physically, carrying a baby often sucks. Sickness, nausea, heartburn, sore back, sore hips, sore tummy, sore boobs, needing to go to the toilet all the time….I don’t think I need to go much further!

THEN there’s HAVING a baby. I only did labour to a certain point. Admittedly that certain point took 37 but both boys were csections so the pain I recognise to do with child birth is probably quite different to others BUT it still physically hurt!

THEN there’s breastfeeding. Anyone who tells you it’ll only hurt if you’re doing it wrong is lying to you. Nipples suddenly being used to feed for almost 180hours in 30 days are going to hurt. The most important thing you need to know is if you keep going chances are it won’t hurt as much or at all!

But all those things will always have hurt. What I’m contemplating is whether being a mum has maybe got more mentally and emotionally hard?

Mentally and emotionally mum’s face a world that is bigger and more in your face than ever before because of the internet and social media. Now don’t me wrong this has MASSIVE benefits. We ask google for advice (Top tip: never google medical problems! Dr Google is unlikely to ever be right!!), we can join forums with mum’s who are due at the same time or have children same age or who wean in the same way or who are as ecologically minded as we are and we find ideas for activities for our kids (read put on iplayer/netflix/amazon video).

BUT this often comes at an emotional or mental price. You browse facebook and see all these mum’s who’ve done crazy crafts, baked cakes with children who are still smiling (because when you bake either you or the toddler end up crying), built towers, had lovely days out or whose houses/children/cars look immaculate and if you’re not careful you are lead to compare, to feel guilty or to feel like you *should* be able to be doing the same.

Firstly there’s the matter of *should* to be dealt with. Should creates instant pressure and instant guilt. It makes many people feel like a failure before they’ve even climbed out of bed because they *should* be happy, they *should* go out or they *should achieve something because Jane Smith on Facebook managed it and she’s got THREE children and her youngest is only 1 month old whilst you’ve *only* got 2 children and your youngest is 5 month. As an aside as Christian mothers the bible tells us there’s no condemnation in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1) and so therefore *should* is actually quite a distructive thought process and one we *should* probably be handing over to God regularly.  I think *should* often stops us from asking for help because we *should* be able to cope, we *should* be enjoying being a mum and we *should* be able because every other mother on Facebook seems to be able to.

The key word in that sentence is SEEMS. On Facebook we create a different reality. I don’t think we do it on purpose but it certainly happens. No one really wants to see my toddler and baby screaming but the true reality, particularly with the smallest one, is that often what he’s doing. I post pictures of them smiling and cheerful and often want to write a “by  the way most of my day they’ve cried but they’re so cute when they smile”

In a world of Facebook and Pinterest and Instagram it’s incredibly easy to be overcome with inadequacies but worse than that we create the notion for parents, and particularly mums to be, that this parenthood thing is easy and clean and predictable and pain free and something we all take in our stride. Of course no mum to be really wants to know what’s really coming and actually often you don’t really understand what it’s like till you’re actually in depth of it but maybe its worth a little more reality, a little more of an accurate perspective with those we know how are having children and with those mum’s we spend the most time with.

Perhaps that extra honesty will relieve one mum’s feeling of being overwhelmed, of being a failure, of not being as good as the person next door and allow them to better enjoy the reality of this challenging but oh so rewarding, messy but oh so worth it experience.

I also think that sometimes we take being a mum for granted in those moments of despair. There have been many times, as a direct result of having struggled with infertility I suspect, that in my lowest and most frustrating times I have turned to these little people who cause my world to run in chaos and been overwhelmed with gratitude that they are here to cause my chaos. Being a mum is hard. Wanting to be a mum when it isn’t happen is just as hard, if not harder and to anyone in that situation reading this I sending you such a huge love and grieve with you your monthly disappointment at not being the mum you long to be. xx

Who goes with you?

IMG_2454Community is a beautiful thing. Real community is there in good times and in bad. They stretch us and encourage us to grow and become better versions of us. They keep us accountable and they hit us with spoons when we do stupid things – normally metaphorically not literally!

I’ve found myself pondering my small group of friends and I found myself feeling sad that I have so few friends in recent days and weeks. I know a lot of people but I’m not sure I have that many friends.

I know this sounds like a sob story and truth be told for much of the time I’ve been pondering my friendships and community I probably have been looking at it as more of a sob story.

However, there’s a but, a big BUT. The friendships that I have, the people who I spend my time with, the people who spend their precious time with me and invest in me are precious and amazing friends.

They are the types of people who I want to help, invest in, build up, encourage but also to challenge to do more, different, less, change and just generally be the best that they can be. I want that because whether verbally or through their actions that what they do for me.

Who goes with you? Who challenges you to be the best person you can be? Who really wants a bunch of yes men around them who pay lip service but not heart service.

Yes my group of friends is small. Yes there are times when I wish I had a bigger pool to pull from (to be less of a burden more than anything) but this group are friends are the perfect group of friends for who I am now and where God would have me go.

I am BEYOND grateful.

Bottom of the pile or worth the effort?

Do you see yourself as worth it?
For years I, without knowing it, did not believe I was worth it. Now by it I mean the effort from myself or from others.
For years I tried to lose weight using weight watchers, tesco diets and slimming world. For years I would lose a bit of weight and then stop and start putting it back on.
For years I put myself at the bottom of the pile thinking that everyone else’s needs were more important and needed to be met before my own.
For years I put myself down and thought negatively about everything I did and everything that was said to me as a compliment.
Then after a life changing moment of heartbreak and the encouragement of a friend I started to realise that I was worth effort. I was valuable and mattered. My feelings didn’t always have to be compromised for the sake of others. My losing weight was important and worth putting effort into because I was worth putting effort into and it mattered to me.
The key phrases from the course Freedom in Christ ;
“I am accepted
I am secure
I am significant”
I began, with a whole lot of help from God, to change a mindset that which had been so deeply instilled in me from so many sources which should have been instilling the complete opposite that I had not spent any of my adult life believing any differently. In conversation that made me feel down and insignificant I would repeat in my head the three phrases above. When a negative thought came into head I would remind myself of those phrases.
I also had prayer and that opened the freedom from negative thoughts using what I now know to be God’s whisper to correct thoughts of maybe even 15 years history. Whispers from God about being worth time, him seeing me as beautiful, wanting the best for me, looking after my heart and building me up those helped to change my mindset!
So having had my mindset changed and having found a way of losing weight which worked for my personality type I started to see progress in something that meant so much to me. I invested time in myself and what I needed to do to stay on track and I was proud and encouraged by those around me.
Do you believe that you are worth the effort? Chances are if you consistently put yourself right at the bottom of giant pile telling yourself you do because you are called to serve others that you don’t recognise your need to made to feel worth it. It’s exhausting to love from a tank that is empty.

Bittersweet

Have you come across the idea of bittersweet? The idea is that we need the bitter to grow and to make the sweet, feel sweet.
“When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. When life is bitter, say thank you and grow.” Shauna Niequist

It’s hard to imagine being thankful for the experience of a parent dying. In fact, it’s ridiculous to imagine it BUT actually the practice of living a bittersweet life allows you to look at the circumstances around the situation and be thankfully for what it reveals. Friends who are there; cry with you, step up when you just can’t go on, who help in emotional and physical ways, are revealed in the bittersweet of the circumstances. It’s easy to see this in the early days of grief.

What’s taken longer is the bittersweet thankfulness of what God is doing in my mum death in me. God is using the experience, the vulnerability, the passion for keeping her name alive, to grow me as a woman, a mother, a daughter, a wife, a writer, a creative spirit but most importantly a child of God.

When mum suddenly died it was like her light suddenly went out but as I reflect now I see that she leaves behind a legacy of lights in her husband, her children, her friends and family to keep her faith alive. Particularly for me and my husband we are trying to keep her presence real with our boys so that they know the faith Granny Sue had (she was grandma when she was alive but Zac was getting confused with his other grandma!) and how much love she would have shown them!

As I explore what it means to be a part of Mum’s legacy and all God has called me to be I’m praying God will guide my path.

Please understand I’m certainly not saying I am grateful my mum is gone. I miss her daily, sometimes hourly. I miss her part in my adventure and I hate that she is gone. I do not believe she was taken to teach me a lesson or that somehow her death was a positive thing but I have to believe in a God who deals with the bitter and can show me the sweet around it. I’m not sure I explain myself very well on this topic!!

To build up or squash down?

When I sat down this morning after my time with God reading my bible plans and praying to be creative in my me and God time I found a blank piece of paper and a pen but no inspiration to DO anything. I’d no thoughts on how to express myself. And the more I think about it the more sad that makes me.
I loved being creative when I was younger. I drew and I painted and chalked and used charcoals and tries to express myself thought something creative and I loved it. I’d spend hours drawing something from a picture or sat looking at a view.
But one day someone told me I wasn’t creative. They told me I couldn’t draw. What I did just wasn’t good enough. That was my art teacher at the age of 14. The funny thing was at no point had I thought of doing art for GCSE but she felt the need to tell me not to. And from that point until very recently my creative drawing spark went out leaving the occasional cake as the only visible creative out let.
The power that voice had over me put out something which I enjoyed for 15 years because by her standards I was not good enough. But the voices I have around me today encourage me to express myself and build me and it ignites that desire to more, express more, create more.
That is the power of our words. We can put out flames of passion and interest in seconds or we can carefully and sensitively build people up to help them grow, develop and improve.
I want to be one of those people who uses my words to encourage and not tear down. To stretch and not squash. To express honestly in love recognising that my words have power.
I’m hoping when I sit down tomorrow in front of me will be a pieces of paper and a pen and in my heart will be the words or pictures that I would long to draw! I’m also praying Sully stays asleep long enough to let me!!! 😉