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COMPARISON: The Dream-Slayer

A dream frustrated.

Truth: Sometimes I want to kick my dreams under the rug and leave it there!

Listen, I want to be transparent and real with you. Sometimes I get angry, bitter, frustrated; because the ladder I had been trying to climb, seemed to be laid out perfectly steady and stable- for someone else to climb.

And I question God. “Why would you give me this dream, this idea, and not make the way for it to happen like you did for the next person? What was I doing wrong? Why am I not good enough? Is this a dream too prestigious for me to accomplish?

Ever been there?

Every so often I fall victim to the “sit small ‘till your name get called” belief. It’s a saying that I have only ever heard in the ”islands”.  Thinking about it now, it could be interpreted two ways:

  1. “Stay in your small corner, let the ‘big’ (more important, most likely to succeed) names get called first.”

Or

2. More positively, “Do what you can with what you have, until God calls you to something bigger or something different”

And if I am honest, I pretty much began to believe the first version. I believed, when it came to my dreams, that I didn’t measure up. I believed that certain things were unattainable because it just was ‘not meant to be for me’  It’s a painful and destructive loop that encircles our mind. I’m referring to ‘limiting beliefs‘- you know, those incorrect and false assumptions we begin to believe about ourselves which lead to self-sabotage and eventually hold us back from everything that we are totally capable of and desire to achieve.

A passage of scripture that I revert to when I get caught up in this despairing mindset is found in Jeremiah 29:11. It says ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’’ so I have a choice to drop the former and run with the latter believing this for myself, believing that God has greatness already written onto the pages of my story. I am reminded that when I get frustrated, to take a pause and ask God to help me to trust what HE has already established in my future and to be obedient to follow His lead.

A dream  revived

I know there is room for everyone to win and that we should all share in each other successes. I am all the way there for it. For me, it wasn’t about not wanting others to succeed, and it wasn’t about racing ahead of someone else.
It was more about, ‘well God what happened to me? Why am I not good enough? Why didn’t you tell me the success secret as well? I was constantly putting myself down and making myself feel small because I felt unworthy and incapable.  I accepted the idea that I was being ‘pushed aside’. I was falsely conditioning myself to think that there was no more room for my ideas, my dreams, my goals.

There is room for all of us. From before we came to being, God had written the script and left the opening for each of our talents, giftedness and dreams. Why wouldn’t he? HE bestowed them upon us!  I am not declaring this because I want to echo the words of a mentor, a life coach, my pastor, Oprah… I am declaring this because it is an absolute fact that GOD made you. HE designed you and placed you here, at this moment, wherever you may be sitting and reading this. God has orchestrated this very moment to be a part of your life, -a life that He has filled to the brim with purpose. God doesn’t create anything that is useless. HE creates with purpose for a purpose. SO before he ever designed you HE had opened the space for all that you will be and all that you will do for His Glory on this earth. BE encouraged by that.

Your purpose, your dream is being realised even in the mundane. And when you attach those desires to the heart of God, it doesn’t matter if you perceive your piece of the ‘pie’ to be big or small. It has purpose sprinkled all over it.

If God has anything to do with it, its impact is already greater than anything that you could ever dream or imagine!

Comparison is the thief of our dreams

When we begin to look at what the next person is doing, when we dwell on how they are thriving when we wonder and obsess about their secrets to success, we begin to feel what I call the 3 D’s: Discontentment, Dissatisfaction and Discouragement. Comparing ourselves to others removes our focus from Jesus and, suddenly our portion seems small and insignificant.  Doing our ‘everyday’ part feels unsatisfying because we become self- absorbed and try to fill a selfish desire for recognition, acknowledgement, and personal achievement.

Reflect on this verse from Galatians 1:10.

Gal 1:10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

A dream surrendered

I know it’s real hard to get past those feelings, because we ‘r e human. I can tell you from experience.  As I sit here and reflect, my thoughts go to a scripture I took to be my personal reminder and motivational theme for this year in 1 Cor 15:58:

”With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort. ”(The Message)

This was encouragement to me and helped me redirect my focus on what was important, what I do is not for my personal gain or accomplishment, My life is a song of worship unto God. My tasks, my ‘everyday’ stuff is to glorify Him. God has sewn purpose into everything He has tasked me to do so I should give it all I’ve got! Whatever the responsibility God has given us, great or small, grandiose or seemingly insignificant to some, HE has sewn purpose into it. A purpose that is supernaturally inspired to showcase His Sovereignty and bring Him Glory.

So whatever it is you are hoping towards, dreaming to accomplish, don’t lose faith. Commit your heart desires to Christ and trust Him with it. Psalms 37:5-6 says

”Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn…”

Friends don’t allow comparison to steak your joy and your dreams. Instead allow your heart to be filled with God’s truth and promises.

Stop comparing, keep dreaming and Stop Doubting, keep trusting!

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Dust Off Those Dreams!

I am still learning that God’s plan for me is bigger than I can dream up! I am still learning that God will make space for the things he has placed in my heart!

 A few years ago, God had moved me to be more proactive in sharing my faith and being a witness for HIM. I wanted to change my interactions so that I would live a life that was intentionally showing more of who GOD was. I wanted to be more purposeful and I prayed for more opportunities to do so. 

A Dream Awakened

A part of me, is always searching for little ways to remind myself about God’s goodness, HIS love towards me and His promises for me. I would search through online stores for little things to keep me on track when my heart became overwhelmed by the distractions of life. A scripture verse inscribed make- up bag, diary, and planners, inspirational key ring. I wanted an everyday way to display, share and declare the comforting and life- giving truth found in the WORD of God and so was born the idea to design t-shirts that would open the door for conversation.

To start, I thought I would do some research and I sketched out a few designs for fun. I am no artist, but as I began sketching and doodling little quotes, Jesus literally flooded my heart, my journals, my written prayers with tons of inspiration…. but I wrote them down and left them.  I told myself, ‘You are no artist!’

A Dream Rekindled

A little while later, I was prompted in my heart to pick it up again, so I took another step in bringing the designs to life graphically. I invested in software, taught myself to use the program but again…. left it there.  I told myself that the designs I created just were not ‘good enough!’ This went on for a couple years. I was afraid. I kept finding excuses like: “it wasn’t the right time,” “someone else is already doing it”, “no one wears t-shirts anymore”, “I’m not a graphic designer.” “I don’t have a business mindset!”

 And some of those statements I was telling myself were probably true, but Jesus through His Love for me has made me realize that I don’t have to believe those things about myself as if it’s the end of the road. HE is the one who directs the path of my life. HE can change those beliefs I had about my capabilities and HE has the power to realize my dreams in the way GOD purposed it to be.

GOD reassures me that if I surrender the dreams and passions that HE had given to me, If I trust HIM wholeheartedly HE will prepare me, and equip me to realize them not only in HIS time, but when I was mentally and spiritually , and wholeheartedly ready!

I have realised that God will never leave us hanging out there stranded, on a compromised rope, grabbing on for dear life. HE is a God that loves his children unconditionally and only wants the best for us. There are some real difficult times we go through and some hard pills to swallow along the way. Many times, we feel like we are the only ones suffering through the challenging seasons of life, but HE is right there pulling us through, making sure we don’t fall and if we do, HE is there to pick us up and carry us the rest of the way.

 The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deut 31:8)

In Jeremiah 1, the LORD told him ,’Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.GOD formed you and I with the abilities and giftedness we need to accomplish the dreams HE has placed inside each of us. But like everything we aim to do in life, actions take preparation, skills need enhancing, knowledge and experience needs to be acquired until we are ready to conquer the dream as God purposed it. Without the process, we sometimes sell ourselves short. By rushing through the process and skipping past some necessary stops, we can, at times, limit our dreams and what GOD can and will do through us.

I’m sharing this with you today because I was filled to the brim and still am with desires and inspiration and ideas. There are things I want to do, start, try, but if I don’t see a clear pathway for it before me, I now know that it doesn’t mean I need to bury it forever. It also does not mean I need to abandon and give up on it and it does not mean that I am not on the right path for me. It just means that GOD is in control and HE is putting things in place, because when the time comes, and I promise you it will, HE must get the glory!

I shared all of this with you today, so that you can know, there is a place for you and your dreams no matter what stage in life you are at. So dust off those dreams and turn them over to God. Watch and wait for HIM to do great things in your life!

Psalms 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

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Owning Your Story

A couple weeks ago, I sat down with a good friend of mine ( I sometimes call her my big sister) Yolande for a little chit chat on life.
Yolande has recently launched her podcast Shifting Perspectives where she enters into conversations about real world issues from a woman’s perspective, particularly Caribbean women. She has interviewed some leading ladies who are breaking barriers and making their mark on society in powerful ways through honing their skills, following their divine call and being obedient and patient as they walk steadily into their purpose.

I was honoured to join her for this week’s episode. I hope that it blesses you. You can listen here! And don’t forget to subscribe and share while you’re there!
Sharing is Empowering!


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Destroying MOM FEARS with TRUTH- Part III

I am in a season of life right now where I can’t seem to keep up with the leaps and bounds are growing physically, and mentally. I keep thinking about possible ways to allow them to grow and mature while keeping them tied to my hip. I keep thinking about how I wish I could change the background, the settings and characters in this world I’m about to release them into. Yeah right ! On a different note, I feel very privileged to have the relationship I do with my Mom. I can honestly say I have witnessed her mistakes, and also her apologies. I have firsthandedly witnessed her growth and today, I still observe her grappling with the fear of my siblings and my well-being and safety as adults. She is and will alwaysb e a true MAMA bear. So I asked her to share some nuggets of wisdom on parenting adult kids, since this is the season of life that she is in now. Hope you enjoy the read!

What were your fears about raising adult children?
What did you and your husband do to conquer this fears?

To raise – within the context of this article it means to: bring to maturity, to grow or to cultivate or to develop

 To parent – to bring forth and raise a child; to cultivate, nurture, to care for…

As parents my husband and I have always been very intentional about, how we would raise our children, the values we would instil, how we would provide for and care for them.  We wanted to raise, well-adjusted independent individuals.  We tried our best to raise each of them as individuals while delivering and maintaining the same principles even though the disciplining might have differed.

I remember a pivotal moment in our parent – child relationship when we had the realisation that we were now parents of adult children. That realisation was overwhelming and intimidating for me particularly.  I have always imagined and anticipating being a part of every stage of our children’s lives, but this was now a reality that I had to figure out.  I have learned from experience that as a child you will always need your parents at some level no matter how old you are, and on the flip side as a parent you never stop parenting; you just change the way that you parent.

My husband and I have three biological children, ranging now from ages 31 years to 26 years and we are still very much involved in our children’s lives.  Involved, meaning there is an understanding that mom and dad are available for counsel, advice, assistance and support in whichever form it takes.

As adolescents we realised that we were nurturing three very distinct personalities and though it was challenging at times, I believe we’ve fared very well because we were careful to allow each of their individual characteristics to develop independently.

We were also careful to always parent in unison, there was never the deception that one parent’s word or discipline was all that mattered, instead we parented as a unit.  Of course, one of us was more of a stronger disciplinarian and the other was more of a softer, ‘let’s talk this through approach’ type but in the end, we came together in supporting and disciplining. 

We instilled the family values and laid a foundation as a unit and our children understood that.  Particularly, building a home based on Christian values we did what we could to establish the values and create a solid foundation that would take our children into their adult years.  Proverbs 22: 6 carries much credence in the truth of “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Am I saying that our children always made decisions as adults that we agreed with? No, but they always understood the principle that there are consequences for every action good or bad.  They understood that trust and integrity are major elements of the foundation, we as parents forged for their growth and development into adulthood.

I believe because of the intentionality of our efforts parenting adult children has not been as wary as we thought, however by far, not a walk in the park. The challenges came with hopeful anticipation of seeing how they navigate their lives independently and wholesomely. As adults their personalities are now fully developed, they have a sense of who they are, what they want out of life and hopefully, how they are going to achieve that.   They are thinking independently and making life changing decisions.

We are proud parents of three adult children. I am a mother who waits for my children to come to me but when I feel a considerable amount of time has passed and still no invitation to dip into a particular situation, in my very subtle motherly fashion I know how to open that door to engage in adult rapport with each.  It doesn’t always go smoothly but there is that level of respect and admiration for the courage to undertake such engagement.   As parents we are to be careful not to be manipulative in dealing with our adult children or we risk creating an irreparable divide in the relationship to compromised trust and respect for them as an adult.  We have to be able to differentiate between adolescent and adult methodical discipline in our approach and counsel.

  1. Telling them what to do vs. offering suggestions
  2. Providing solutions vs. offer recommendations
  3. Demanding vs. asking (if you want or need something)
  4. Listening vs. talking (sometimes they just want you to listen, hear them out when they say, “I want to bounce and idea off of you”)
  5. A closed door on the independent factor vs. the open-door policy (“we’re here if and when you need us”)

This is what I have learned over the years of parenting my children as they entered adulthood.

Written by Nadean (Mauricia )Parker over at divineinspirations2020.blogspot.com.

Be sure to stop by and visit her blog as she shares some profound gems of wisdom about Faith and Family Life.

My hope for all of the Moms out there is to know that you are not alone and never will be alone. No matter what season of parenting you may be currently in. We know each others struggles. But best of all, Jesus knows our struggles and HE has already written the instruction manual that comes with these kids. Let’s find some time time to tap into it to encourage ourselves, but also to reach out and encourage each other.

I hope that you now have some ammunition to conquer those fears FOREVER!

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Attacking and Destroying those MOM Fears with the TRUTH- Part II

Part II

Hey yall! I told you to be on the lookout for Part 2. So this week, I had to recruit some of my seasoned Mama’s to share their serious ‘mom fears’. I look at the relationship I have now with my mom and the way she remains apart of my siblings and my life. I realise that even though we have our own lives and families now, she is still mommy! Her role takes a different form than it did when we were much younger, but she still operates as how mommies do! Calling, checking in, advising, reminding and you know the rest!

I momentarily pictured my two littles all grown up, and it hit me that I have a whole different set of fears when it comes to Sarai and Hannah maturing and becoming young ladies. From making the right choices, peer pressure, following the crowd, getting caught up in toxic relationships, boyfriends, crushes …….. and then I had to switch the channel, because it was too much! So today I posed the question to some of the seasoned mama’s I know. The stories you are about to read are from mom’s who are now parenting adult children and have been for a few years now.

Happy Reading!

What are your greatest fears as a mom with adult children?

Kendra Parker, Mom of Kadrica, 31 & Juhnee

Kendra Parker, Mom of Kadrica, 31 & Juhnee, 19

Sitting here thinking of all my fears as a mother, not just a mother, but a single mother bringing up two girl children now all grown, I am grateful. Dealing with the fears of adolescence was not easy. The fear of losing my girls to abuse and mental stress, the fear of being introduced to drug and alcohol by peers, the fear or losing them from my life… I thought of the days as a child and placed myself as my parents and how they dealt with my siblings and I. I begin to look at life differently and acknowledge that my angels are loaned to me and my role is to teach them the spiritual morals of life.

After my eldest daughter had left high school we spoke about her dreams and she was cautioned, but encouraged to enjoy and embrace her youth. I shared my story to both daughters of becoming a mother at the tender age of 20. No regrets, but I had lost the opportunity of enjoying my young adult life because I had to be a mother. I dedicated my time to my daughters. We ate, prayed and generally travelled together. It was important to me that I point out to them the quality of life and to encourage them to not allow themselves to become a mother too early in life and to get the best they can out of life.

It wasn’t easy, but gradually they were allowed to date once they completed high school and had an interest and I am certain I was a voice at the back of their minds throughout. I often get involve and have conversations with them to get to know how their dates go or any other social gathering they attend. They were both encouraged to be involved in church and youth programs to keep them grounded spiritually. One of my supportive scriptures is ‘Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it, Proverbs 22:6. I am a living testimony of that scripture.

For the most part, I have spent time with God to help me on this journey, to keep them both grounded even when they stray, bring them back to that foundation, where they can collect their thoughts and continue to trust God for more direction for their life path. I am grateful to my parents and that I could refer to their spiritual and positive upbringing. My constant prayer to God includes asking for His wisdom, knowledge and understanding as a young mother. I know I am not perfect , but I am blessed to share my stories with my daughters, an I will always be watching what they do because they have a crazy mother(all in the name of love)!

Michelle, Mom of Makayla 19 & Malik 27

Michelle, Mom of Makayla,19 & Malik, 26

I believe that as a parent to young adult children in today’s’ society, whether the child is a Christian or not, I still have to approach giving advice from a biblical and world view.  You are asking how do I do this? I ask God for his wisdom as I try to balance it and sometimes I get it right.  My children know that one of my favourite scriptures is, as Paul instructs Timothy, I try to  instruct them like wise “For God had not given us a spirit of fear but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” 2 Timothy 1:7. I worry that they may get distracted and become fearful when they do not see their dreams coming to pass.

My experience has taught me that we may make wrong choices when we feel as if God has forgotten us or does not love us and I ask God daily to cover them with His spirit and wisdom so that they do not ever feel like that. I tell them that Satan is always on the look-out to destroy their destiny and they need to be alert in all areas of life- their friends, their spiritual leaders and family influence can help them or at times, take them off their destiny path. This world is full of good as well as evil and I tell them to always look at the good first. I encourage them to do good and seek those things that are pleasing to God, not a religion set-up but what Jesus told his disciples in helping those in need, do good always. I worry, yes I do! My mother instincts are always in the forefront and I have to ask God for his peace. Isaiah 43:5 Do not be afraid , for I am with you, I will bring your (my) children from the east and gather you (them)from the west”, is my constant prayer that He will never leave them. I try not to be controlling as I do not know the plan God has for them therefore my only right to declare in their life is that God does have a good plan and that they are speakers for Him, no matter where life’s path leads them.
In summary my instruction to them is that they need to always pray and ask God to show them and keep them alert to what is real in the world. Things are not always what it seems and they need God’s insights to make decisions.

Nadean, Mom of Yours Truly, 31, Nadidja, 28, Donval 26

My biggest fear as a mom to three(3) adult children has always been that their lives would become so busy with careers, new relationships and beginning their own families and that they would no longer need me and the connection would be lost. But quickly enough I realised that throughout their lives a strong bond has been established with each of them and they understand the value and importance of family. My relationship with my children are of love, respect and trust, they know what I expect of them and I believe I know what they expect of me so we will be okay.

It has been such a pleasure to listen to these Mom’s share their experience and to gain such assurance that no matter what season we are currently pushing through on our journey of motherhood, God’s grace will always surround us. The same prayers that kept our littles when they were tots, carry the same power even when they are grown-up adults!

I hope you enjoyed and was encouraged by this series so far.

Special thanks to my lovely mom, Nadean and to Michelle and Kendra who both are like additional moms to me!
Love you long time.

See you in Part 3.

If you missed part 1, you can get all caught up here.

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Attacking and Destroying those MOM FEARS with the TRUTH

Part I

I don’t know about you, but I find myself in a constant wreck as I try to cope with the daily anxiety of being a good Mama. I love my girls and I would give ANYTHING and EVERYTHING to make sure that they are safe, healthy and happy children. From the very moment I gave birth to my first, I was always wondering whether I am doing enough, too much, and if I am doing it correctly; If they are well -balanced, emotionally strong, too spoilt, overly protected. Like lets be honest, as moms we carry a load! And that’s on top of basic ‘life’ stuff. Being a mom consumes every ounce of your being at times and I am learning that I have to do my best to take a step back, release my grip ever so often to make sure that I maintain my own sanity and mental well being.

Now I know I’m not the only one, and this recently I reached out to some other mom’s to share what are some of their worst ‘mom fears’ and hear some of the life giving Truth that they use to destroy those fears and settle their minds with the peace that they are doing everything they need to be doing for their littles in in the strength that GOD has given them.

I hope you enjoy what these awesome mama’s have to say. Happy Reading!

Rayshell, Mom of 6 month old Jayce.

As a new mom, I was constantly reading about motherhood. I feared not having all the answers but the truth is, motherhood doesn’t come with an official guideline, instead, it is a journey. You simply learn through the transition. Three months postpartum, I accepted this reality through self love. I embraced devotional time, prayers and self care. Loving yourself isn’t selfish, it makes you a better mom and partner. A better you!

Odessa, Mom of 5 year old Jarrah and 2 year old Jada

My greatest fear as a mom is not protecting my girls from danger (physical, mental, spiritual harm); their safety is my most significant concern, and trust me; there are others.

I had a dream recently that left me feeling a little uneasy concerning my very adventurous 2-year-old. Initially, I immediately started to worry. However, I quickly reminded myself to renew my mind and thoughts concerning God’s purpose for their lives and to trust His word.  Proverbs 3:5-6 says,’ “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

Whenever I find myself worrying about their safety, I am convicted that I am not trusting God at his word. These episodes of worry usually remind me that it is time to spend time in his word, to seek him and build your faith. I know that the enemy is always lurking. But as a mom, having experienced multiple pregnancies lost and considering the circumstances surrounding their births, I know that my girls are both miracle babies.  God brought them both here for a reason.  He has a purpose for their lives and will guide their paths.  I trust that He will protect them regardless if I am able to protect them or not.

I can and will do my part by raising them to the best of my ability in God’s image, which is pleasing to him.  But as a mom, that is exactly what I have been tasked to do. Everything else is in God’s hand. I trust that his Will will be done.

Brittany, Mom of 1 year old Sanard

It took me forever to put my thoughts into words as being a mother is such an honour yet it is so terrifying at times.

You are no longer only responsible for yourself but you now have a little human depending on your every move for their every need.

My greatest fear as a new mom was me being able to get “everything right ” as it relates to parenthood.

I wasn’t sure if I would understand and know what each cry meant or I f I would know how to comfort and soothe my new baby. If I would be able to raise up a respectful young black man and instill in him positive morals and values.  Most of all if I would be able to break the black family stereotypes as it relates to showing my son love, affection and open communication.

I then realised that if I pray and trust in my Heavenly Father he would guide me and lead me along this new journey. I believed that if God was going to give me a son He was going to give me the strength, wisdom and knowledge that was needed to help me raise him. 

Overcoming this fear was a process. I had to constantly remind myself that parenthood does not come with a manual or a ‘one rule fits all’ handbook.

Reminding myself that it is ok to fail and I should appreciate my failures just as much as I do my successes.

I had to allow myself to be a beginner as no one starts off being a pro or excellent at anything. I had to allow myself to make mistakes and learn from them as the more you do it the better you become at it.

Philippians 4:11 says “I  can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. This verse tells me that if He brings me to it, He will bring me through it and with Him all things are possible. I made a promise to be the best mother that I can be to my little guy and in doing so I made some daily commitments that would help me break the black family culture.

1.       Everyday my son hears these three words “Mummy Loves You”. I want him to always know and feel that he is loved.

2.       Everyday once we get home I would ask him how was his day and give him a hug with a kiss. I want him to know that he is important and that he has a support system who is interested in him.

3.       He is always encouraged to express himself verbally or emotionally as I want to create an environment for open communication.

4.       I make time to teach him and play with him as I want him to learn that there is a time and place for everything.

5.       Family time is important so at least one of our meals we do together daily. I believe this time helps us to build bonds and connections, instil family values and it brings about a feeling of security.

6.       I always apologise when I’m wrong or if I’ve made a mistake. I want him to know that adults make mistakes too and it is important to own up to it and learn from it.

7.       Lastly, we pray together every night before bed. This is our time to reflect and give GOD thanks for what He has done and for what He promises to do.

God knew me before He entrusted me with my little one, so I believe He has prepared me to help him fulfil His purpose for his life. So I may not be the best mother everyday  but every day I am the mother that my son needs. I know that I may not have it all together but every day I make an effort to try.

“Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn’t know you had and dealing with fears you never knew existed” – Linda Wooten

I just want to say I was very much inspired by the boldness of these ladies. It feels reassuring to know for a fact that you are NOT ALONE! Hearing their experiences was very encouraging. We all experience fears at some point and I found strength in the words of advice shared with me and with you in this feature!

If you enjoyed this post, drop me a comment! I love to hear from you!

Special thanks to Rayshell Campbell, Brittany Palmer- Harvey and Odessa Forbes for agreeing to be apart and share their ‘MOM Fears‘ stories!

See you in Part 2!

Don’t forget to subscribe by clicking here! This will make sure that you know as soon as I post Part 2!

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O-B-E-D-I-E-N-C-E

Obedience… as a mom it’s something I live for. I set boundaries for my girls. I give them instructions to follow and inform them that if these boundaries are crossed or they fail to follow the instructions given, there will be consequences. I think about consequences in two ways; you can either receive something or not receive something, either way consequences come as a direct result of an action (or lack thereof).

I find as a mom, it is helpful to show or share with the girls the consequences that come with doing what mommy and daddy says. It shows them how their obedience benefits them and hopefully provides an incentive to encourage obedience. No this isn’t a psychology article on obedience and consequence, as you may be thinking, but in my prayer time recently, I felt a tug in my heart that I wasn’t operating in obedience in certain areas of my life. Was I being disobedient? The verdict is still out on that one, but I knew that some of the actions that I am called to take, as a believer in Christ Jesus and His truth, wasn’t being orchestrated in my life and therefore my efforts in various areas of my life have seemed fruitless.

I felt hopeless, miserable, emotionally exhausted and I realised that I had to make the deliberate choice to obey the Word of God and do what it says to shake my current state of mind and refresh my heart and soul. This mind led me to search the scriptures for the consequences of obedience as a child of God. Just like ‘children’ when we are aware of the benefits, it helps our hearts to make the choice to obey each time.

Today, I want to share with you 6 truths to obedience that I found when I began to search the scriptures.

I am not going to focus on the disobedience, because there are countless examples of the children of God disobeying the command of the Lord and inviting God’s wrath upon them in the scriptures. Instead I want to open your eyes and reveal the goodness that comes as a result of an obedient heart.

Stay with me and let’s discover what happens when we truly and whole-heartedly obey God.

When you obey God’s voice, whether through His Holy Word or through his Holy Spirit speaking into your heart:

  1. You show your love and devotion to Him.
    God created us to worship Him. He has given us free will, and He invites us to freely enter into a relationship of love, trust, and adoration for Him. John 14:15 says If you [really] love Me, you will keep and obey My commandments. [AMP]
  2. You remain under His protection and covering.
    His Word gives us clear instructions to stay connected to Him and receive the covering of protection and security that comes with being one of His own. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession…Exodus 19:5
  3. You will experience true joy in all things.
    When we walk in obedience, God’s Power goes before us and His Favour surrounds us as He fills our hearts with the joy of the faith, we have in Him to take care of us in every situation. If they hear and serve [obey] Him, they will end their days in prosperity and their years in pleasantness and joy. Job 36:11 [AMP]
  4. You not only remain in God’s Love, but you are moved to show and express the same love to others.
    Obeying God keeps us near to His heart and we experience the fullness of His love so powerful that it has to overflow from us into others. Obedience calls us to Love and His Love urges us to be a beacon of light in His kingdom, loving others as he loved us. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. John 15:10 [NIV] But if anyone obeys his word, love for God[a] is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. …..vs. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister[c] lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 1 John 2:5- 6 and 10. [NIV]
  5. You stand against conformity and become transformed into His light.
    When you obey God’s command to stand your ground against sin, you can walk in the purpose to which He has called you. Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2 [NIV].
  6. His blessings will follow you always in all things.
    Obedience brings an overflow of blessing into your life, in more ways that you and I can count. Things that we never asked for or even knew e desired, God will start to multiply and expand our territories because obedience to God show His Glory. It allows God to show off His Awesomeness, His Sovereignty His Might and Power. His GODNESS! Deuteronomy 28: 1- 12.

I hope that you can see that there’s a lot to be gained from an obedient heart and that you now have more than enough incentive to do what it is God is leading you to do. It’s hard, I’ll admit, especially when you have a million obstacles and challenges being hurled into your path, but the price of choosing Christ and choosing to obey our heavenly Father is nothing compared to the abundance of blessing, favor and security in return. I encourage you today, Choose to Obey!

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MARRIAGE NUGGETS FROM THE RUSSELLS

Anniversary Edition

Can you believe it? It feels like yesterday I was leaving for university saying goodbye to this young man, looking for adventure, new sights, new prospects, just everything NEW. I tried to say goodbye to Geron, but he wouldn’t let me go and here we are 7 years later.  I am grateful that God has given me this man to love on me for the last 7 years and I am excited for our next season together.

It is said that 7 is the year of completion, and I do believe that this past year is a completion of one season of our lives together and that we are crossing the threshold into another season. Together, we are turning another page in our story, and I can’t like I’m thrilled to do life with him,

This past year has had its trials and it has really put some muscle into our relationship. We’ve had to make hard decisions and tough sacrifices. It’s been a ride! But we have also found peace, and joy and have been able to celebrate great victories. We’ve seen God show up and show out. We’ve seen Him turn things upside down and then right side up. Like I said, it’s been a ride! But now more than ever, I am honoured to be walking into the unknown with my guy, my rock, my hubby!

So without further a due, we thought we’d share with you 7 gems we have learnt in our 7 years of marriage…. And the bonus: You get an exclusive once in a lifetime opportunity to get his perspective!
Keep reading, I hope you enjoy!

Niclair’s Lessons

1. We are on the SAME team! Partners not opponents.

2. To see my husband through God’s eyes. God has opened my heart to see Geron not selfishly as ‘my’ husband, but more as the spouse that HE has divinely created and placed in my life. Geron is God’s choice for me and he has a role to play that God has divinely given him as my husband.

3. I have a choice in our marriage, to either build him up or tear him down. If I’m not doing one, I’m doing the other! I try to choose to build him up, even if, to me, my efforts seem fruitless.

4. To see his weaknesses not as a DIY project but as an invitation to fill in the missing links gracefully and humbly so that we can grow together.

5. Just because we can’t read each other’s mind doesn’t mean that we’re not in sync, it’s more important to know each other’s heart.

6. Yes, I am a phenomenal woman! But I’ve got to give him a chance to do his part and let Him be the Man of Valour God made him to be.

7.  Control my tongue! Tell it to Jesus before I spit it at him.

Geron’s Lessons

  1. Small things matter
  2. Although we are married, we are still individuals with different personalities and characteristics that do/react to things differently. You must accept, respect, and learn.
  3. Listen carefully because she will come back to a previous conversation expecting you to remember the previous conversation in great detail.
  4. Sometimes you have to go out of your comfort zone to either keep peace or create happiness.
  5. Quality alone time with your spouse is paramount.
  6. Family time is very important.
  7. Be intentional about building a relationship with God and fostering the same in our girls.

People, Love is risky business…but MARRIAGE is a risk we chose to take with God leading the way!
We’re holding onto each other, but we’re holding onto Jesus too!

Cheers to 7 years!

Love and Light to you ,

Niclair

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Sit. Stay……. Rest.

I haven’t done a writing prompt in a few months, so I pulled one out from my stash that I use sometimes: ‘Write some words that speak to you.’

Sit. Stay. Rest.

The world seems to be spiralling out of control, between disease, riots, tragedy, job loss, economic downfall…. There is hopelessness everywhere, I breathe it in, the faces, the headlines, the images, the videos, it burns my eyes. Right now, I feel choked physically by the thick cloud of despair and I feel smothered by the desperation that surrounds me… But I have a hope, I have a promise, I have a Saviour. This knowledge allows me to exhale with confidence. It is times like these, when I look upwards to God and I say to Him, ‘‘my eyes are on you.’’ I run to Him, I hide in Him and I stay there. Sometimes hiding in God, is stopping the daily grind, lying on the floor with the kids and watching them play make believe. Sometimes hiding in God is putting the phone on vibrate or better yet, turning it off for the evening. Sometimes hiding in Him is -not checking and answering messages for the day. Hiding in Him is sometimes, going for a walk, taking in the beauty of God’s glory as He speaks to you through the breeze of His Spirit. Sometimes hiding in Him is leaving the wash sitting in the corner for just one more day. Sometimes hiding in Him means cancelling that lunch date… I’ve learnt that sometimes you have to remove yourself from the craziness, but remain in His Presence, in His shadow and under His wings.

It calls for turning off the expectations of the world and entering a place of rest and solitude with Jesus. Sit with Him. Sit in the Stillness. Rest in Silence.  The devil sometimes tries to make me feel guilty and tells me that I’m wasting the day, that i’m not being productive-but I know that time spent in the stillness of God’s presence, sitting with Jesus is NEVER wasted time. Here are a few scriptures that you can use as reminders, for when you need to hit ‘PAUSE’ and just rest in HIM and in the assurance of his faithful promises.

Psalms 119:114, You are my hiding place and my shield; I wait for Your Word [AMP]

Psalm 27:5, For in the day of trouble He will hide me in His shelter; In the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock. [AMP]

Psalm 17:8, Keep me as the apple of the eye; Hide me in the shadow of Your wings.

Psalms 4:8, In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.

Psalms 32:7, For You are my hiding place; You protect me from trouble; You surround me with songs of victory[NLT].

Psalms 23:2-3, He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul.

This has been my encouragement in the last few weeks. My ‘Woosah’ if you like! I hope that it helps you as well to navigate these stressful and crazy times. I’m also sharing a set of scripture cards that you can print and stick them up wherever you like to just remind you to Sit, Stay and Rest in Christ. Click download below to get the printable.

Be blessed.

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This Week I Was Most Blessed By….Connections!

The weekend is upon us and I have been reflecting: What am I most blessed by this week?
My Mum. My Hubby, Karlie, Donval…?

I began thinking, I can’t choose which one of them I was really blessed by, and then ‘the girls’ came into the picture as well. And I realised that it’s not any particular individual alone, I feel blessed by them all. This week all of them (and others) have poured into me, encouraged me, and laughed with me.  I feel blessed that I AM NOT ALONE. I am not alone in this world and I am not alone in this life.

 I am very aware that some people are physically alone, or at least they may feel so, and I pray that the presence of God surrounds you, if you are one of those persons, but I have to acknowledge the fact that God has surrounded me with persons who care about me, my well-being, who look after me, my concerns, my whereabouts. I am grateful to have persons who are there to celebrate with me during times of celebration, encourage and lift me up in times of despair, and comfort and support me in times of heart ache and loss.

I am confident in my relationship with Christ and I believe with assurance that with Jesus at our side, we are never alone. However, He does demonstrate to us throughout His Word, the power of human connection as well in our lives. Connection is so important for mankind. It is how God created us to be. It is why God created man AND woman. God created each of us with a desire to be apart of something greater than us, His Kingdom and connection is an integral part of building HIS Kingdom. ‘And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching’ Hebrews 10:24

I like how Brene Brown puts it, ‘’connection is the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.’’ Jesus wants that for us. This is why his greatest command is to love one another. Through that Love we can see, hear and value persons for who they are. Through Love we can give and receive without judgement, but with compassion. Through love we can build relationships and connections that sustain, strengthen and support each other.

Connection gives purpose and meaning to our lives. All of us have an important part to play in someone’s life. However, we are not always aware of these roles. It takes us acknowledging our purpose in the wider scheme of God’s will so that He can use us to bring joy, love, encouragement to the lives of others. These connections intended by God, are what enable us to do the great things that we may feel unable to do on our own. I could not raise my girls without my mom, my aunties, my best friends, my grandmother. They are important connections in my life, and they all have a part to play in helping me to carry out my role as Mom.

There are times we do feel threatened by certain people God places in our lives, and we do try to isolate ourselves or push them away. But God’s will is for us to honour those connections and grow. I am reminded of Moses and how he felt incapable and ill- equipped to go to Pharaoh when God had sent Him. But God had already worked it out by connecting him to Aaron. Connections take away our excuses and make ways for us to do what God has purposed us to do.

Let’s not forget Paul. In Paul’s writings you can always find him, advising, encouraging, reminding, reassuring or simply just checking in. He was a guy that valued connection and relationship. What I love about Paul’s writings was, he was very personal and transparent about his life to the churches. He was open and eager  to share his feelings and his state of mind no matter the situation he found himself in, partly because he wanted to establish that trust, but also because he relied on the strength of  the relationship he had with the churches to sustain him in difficult times. He trusted and depended on them to pray for him. Paul knew how important being connected to the body of Christ was in ministry. He understood relationship and brotherhood. He honoured the strength that lies in community.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:11 the word of God admonishes us to ‘’…encourage one another and build each other up…’’ The truth is, some of us will lose our way, many of us will lose faith and become discouraged but most of us will experience seasons of turmoil, weariness and disappointment; and this is why we need each other.

Ultimately, Jesus himself, is our greatest example. One of the first things he did at the start of his ministry on earth is assemble his ‘tribe’, his family of disciples, and although he had many disciples throughout His time on earth that he sent forth, the ‘twelve’ were his closest friends and he established relationship with them because HE needed connection.

Throughout the bible, we see where Jesus dined and fellow-shipped with his disciples and with people along His earth journey, building friendships, establishing connections. This is what we are called to do, this is how we survive life here on earth, as children of God. Galatians 6, verses 2 and 3 tells us to ‘‘share each other’s troubles and problems, and so obey our Lord’s command.  If anyone thinks he is too great to stoop to this, he is fooling himself. He is really a nobody.’’ We cannot succeed at life thinking we can do everything on our own or that we do not need anyone. It is the biggest lie we can feed our hearts. We may need to vet some of the people we include in our circle, but in doing that, we shouldn’t be self-centred in our thinking. We should not choose who we want to be connected to based on how they can help us advance, but sometimes be led to choose people who we feel we can extend ourselves to help. It goes both ways!
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 reminds us that ‘Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.’ This week I was most blessed by ‘my people’ and you know who you are. Near and far, every day and every couple weeks. It doesn’t matter, how often we get to chat or talk, I Love You! I appreciate you and I am grateful that God has divinely placed you in my circle, in my life.

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This Week I Was Most Blessed by…..Lock-down Reflection

Hmmm… thinking about this prompt is making me realise how I need to make this a routine to reflect on my blessings each week. As I sit here, drumming away at these keys, anticipating the awesome words that I hope will eventually cover this space as I stall while I gather my thoughts, what comes to mind is the number of times I  have witnessed the girls, sharing and getting along this week. Sarai has really been trying to be a responsible and helpful big sister and Hannah has been exercising true patience and cooperation as well. I am thinking now that I must make a reward certificate for them. Big sister has been emptying the potty in the mornings, preparing the bath water for bath times and doing her best to tidy her room daily. Of course, thrown in the mix is her ‘bossy’ nature but that’s her and while I have so many expectations of her, she is killing it as a very able 5-year-old. She deserves far more credit than I give her at times. I will not deny that she has tested my patience with her behaviour and attitude this week, but when I think about it, the good moments heavily outweigh those brief moments of obstinacy.

I started off the week, obsessing over filling my time and our days with what I deemed as productive activities. These were activities where we as a family engaged with each other lovingly and activities that promoted opportunities for ‘structured’ learning like the perfect world I sometimes try to pretend that I live in. HA! Immediately, my perfect picture shattered, because once again , I was taking the image imprinted on my mind by observing and reading countless social media posts and tried to paint the exact same scene in my home and instead of a masterpiece, I ended up with paint all over everyone including myself and empty canvas. A perfect, well-orchestrated and planned ‘mess’! It didn’t work! It couldn’t work! I spent days 2- 4 in prayer: ‘Lord, show me what to do, teach me how to be, give me a clue on how to make this work for all of us,’’ and I remembered someone once said, ‘‘Do the next right thing.’’ ‘Ok Lord, what IS the next RIGHT thing?’ He brought me to this verse in Colossians 3:23, Whatever you do [whatever your task may be], work from the soul [that is, put in your very best effort], as [something done] for the Lord and not for men….

What had God called me to do in this present season, serve my family and get to know HIM better. That is my worship to HIM. And I began to do just that. HE asked me to put my ‘ideal’ masterpiece of a plan to the side and do what was required of me by my family. Just do it! Do it with honour, love and humility. Do it with Joy! Do it in worship! I meditated on that scripture along with this one: Whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus [and in dependence on Him], giving thanks to God the Father through Him. Colossians 3:17.

Slowly each day as I released my need for an idolatrous plan, I saw GOD’s HOLY SPIRIT emerging in our hearts as we not tolerated each other, but loved on one another, demonstrated patience and grace with each other. This week I was truly most blessed by the Power of God’s word to change my mindset, my attitude, my heart and consequently the spirit and mood in my home. I was blessed to see God listen to my whining, be gracious enough to endure it and love me enough to help me get out of my own way.

I am Blessed through His POWER!

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3 Actionable Steps to Improving Your Bible Study.

Needs some encouragement for how to get started with your personal bible study time?

Read on as I share some ways that has helped me to purposefully spend time more time digesting God’s Word.

1. Choose and follow a bible reading plan

Youversion Bible App which you can get here has some great bible reading plans that you can select and schedule to follow daily. The app encourages you to set reminders as well. The bible plans help you to spend quality time in study as many of them start off with a brief, but enriching devotional, followed by several scriptures that follow the theme for that day. You can also develop a support community by inviting friends to study alongside you and share your thoughts on the application of scripture to your life. This is a great resource. I find it very useful and it also acts as a gateway to other resources to encourage you in your faith journey.
Biblegateway.com also has loads of bible reading plans and devotionals you can sign up for. They have an app that you can download as well by clicking here. It works quite similarly to Youversion. I’ve used it in the past for email devotionals. (Subscribe to my page for updates, as I will be posting some reading plans here very soon!)

First5.org an extension of Proverbs 31 Ministries is another option I found very useful. They have an app, but you can also use the website. What I enjoy about the first5 app is that the devotionals are powerful but short enough for you to follow if you don’t have much time. In the app you can also join the community with other readers who offer encouragement and share their testimonies. I plan to do another post on this in more detail so I can really express to you how valuable it was for me and why.

2. Use a bible study template:

Two of the most common ones are S.O.A.P. and H.E.A.R. I will explain them further below if you stay with me. If you don’t have time to read it all now, it’s fine. Add this page to your favourites so you can come back later.

  • SOAP stands for Scripture. Observe. Apply. Pray.

I use this method mostly during my study time, but more recently I have been merging it with my prayer journalling method. (This post coming soon!)
There are lots of information and templates on using this method, but I prefer to just use my own personal study journal.

To briefly explain:

Scripture:  You record a few verses of scripture from the passage you read that spoke to you.

Observe: What parts are most meaningful for you? What words, phrases, questions or commands speak to you? You can highlight them in different colours, underline them, circle them…totally up to you!

Apply: This is the part where you quiet your mind to really listen to how God wants you to use this scripture in your daily Christian walk. How can it transform your attitude? behaviours? conversation?

Pray: Use your answers to the previous section to help focus your prayer. Ask God to show you how to apply what you have learnt, studied, and meditated on and thank him for illuminating your mind with His Truth.

  • HEAR stands for Highlight. Explain. Apply. Respond.

This is very similar to SOAP.

Highlight: You are meant to highlight, colour, underline portions of scriptur that stand out to you.

Examine: You can pull apart the words of the scripture using a commentary or by comparing different translations to gather meaning from the verse of text. Ask questions like: What am I learning? What does this mean for me? What do I understand from this?

Apply: Much like I mentioned earlier. This is taking what you learnt from examining the scripture and noting ways that you can make these lessons a part of your daily walk with Christ. Here you are asking yourself: How can I integrate this wisdom and guidance in my decision making, my conversation and my daily interactions?

Respond: Your response can be  a responsive prayer to what you learned, thanking God for what he has shown you or asking him to help you make some necessary changes in your life. Sometimes your response can be a call to worship and how that looks for you. Sometimes a response can be something more practical like, sending an encouraging text or lending assistance to someone in need.

3. Bible Journalling

Bible journalling has become very popular in recent years. Some persons tend to think that it is just for the creatives, but if you find that it works for you, go with it! What is it ? Bible journalling is artistically or creatively representing scripture  or responding to scripture verses during times of study and meditation, either on the pages of a journal bible, a sketch book or your actual bible. You can use the link below to see a really good journal bible that I have gifted to friends who wanted to get started.
(Please note, by making a purchase using this link I may earn a little commission.)

These are 3 simple ways to be intentional about your study time that you can easily implement right now
It’s best to decide which works best for you and the dynamics of your daily life and how much time you can set aside to spend in study. I have tried a number of methods over the years and sometimes different methods worked better during different seasons of my life. If you have tried something that you believe is no longer helpful to you, it’s ok. You can change course, but do NOT give up!

Links to the bible app downloads mentioned:

Youversion
First5.org
Biblegateway.com

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Messy Lessons

A few weeks ago, I was cleaning up. To be specific, I was (in the America they say) vacuuming the carpets. I live in England however, so I should say: ”I went to ‘hoover’ the carpets.” But, since I am from a British overseas territory- in the Caribbean- which is heavily influenced by American culture, I will say that I was ‘vacuuming the carpets with the hoover.’ However, I digress, let me get to the point.

Anyway, I was having some problems with it and complained to the hubby. It did not seem to be working effectively, the floor was still quite dirty. I could see particles of all different sizes still stuck in the carpet. Basically, as he always does, he took it from me and gave it a try himself, and ‘Wallah’- it worked beautifully for him. Of course, I asked him what did he do that was different?

This was his response: ‘‘You need to take your time as you move it back and forth across the floor! Give it a chance to actually suck up the dirt. If you pass over so quickly, it doesn’t get a chance to really absorb the particles directly up the pipe and into the [holding] can.’’

And that was that. I said ok, but in my mind, I thought I want to get this done, I really don’t have time to be slowly passing this thing across the floor. I would like to do it quickly and do it once and for all!

Now, I was vacuuming with the hoover again this morning, and I remembered what he told me. I proceeded on this occasion to take my time moving the hoover back and forth across the floor, giving it time to extract the dirt particles from the carpet.
I thought to myself as I saw the pleasing results of taking my husband’s advice. The floor was gradually becoming spotless.

PATIENCE. PERSISTENCE. TAKING TIME. These words ruminated in my mind.

As I finished, and placed the hoover away for the next use, my mind went to the thought that sometimes, we don’t give our hearts enough time to extract what we need from the Word of God. We do not remain long enough in HIS presence to give our hearts time to soak in HIS guidance and direction, HIS truth and HIS peace. I realised that I run my life the same way I had been running that hoover back and forth across the floor, expecting it carry out its purpose but not being deliberate in my efforts to allow it to work efficiently. I move from one thing, one person, one idea to the other looking for answers, solutions, satisfaction. Instead of just deliberately sitting with God, being patient and consciously let HIS Word take root in my heart to fill me, encourage me and advise me. I find that even when I do open the Bible to search scripture, I flip back and forth reading chapter after chapter intent on feeding my spirit. But what I needed to do, was give the life- giving words I was reading, a chance to be consciously absorbed by my heart. Hubby revealed to me that I wasn’t giving it time to travel up the suction pipe and into the holding can of my heart.

This challenged me to be intentional about the way I study and use the Word of God to feed my Spirit, satisfy my soul and comfort my heart.  I know many of you probably make a habit to read your morning devotional or your evening scripture daily, but are you allowing it to take root in your heart so that it can be watered into wisdom for daily living. This is something I have been working on and I want to encourage you to do the same. You can have a look at this post on 3 effective ways to spend more time in God’s Word.

That was my messy lesson for you today. Be encouraged to keep growing.

Niclair

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3 simple and enjoyable activities to do to connect as a family

In a time where many of us are safe at home and spending a lot more time than we would normally have with our family, we have been pressed into each other’s space 24/7.  For me, I welcomed the opportunity to enjoy some family time but after a while I did feel like I wanted back ‘my space’.

With young kids, quality time is more than just being around, they actively want to feel your participation, they want you to be involved and sometimes being involved 24/7 can feel overwhelming if you give into their demands all of the time.

Today I’m sharing 3 simple ways to enjoy family time together.

I have found that it works better when we plan our family time. The girls are satisfied knowing that there is special time designated for them and they look forward to that with real anticipation. Like …. they don’t EVER let me forget!

I am very aware that many of us are not just sitting at home twiddling thumbs and looking for ways to keep boredom at bay. Many of us are working doubly harder than usual because we are stretching ourselves between our 9-5 jobs and managing the kids full time- at home- as well.

I still believe however that this ‘pause’ which has been forced upon us, is not a punishment but a blessing in many ways. My husband has been totally enjoying his time at home. The girls love having both of us around.  Yes, there is the hanging concern about the future and what that looks like for us, but Matthew 6:34 tells me that I shouldn’t worry about tomorrow because tomorrow will take care of itself.

Right now, we have today, and today I can make memories and build relationships.

Spending family time can make some of us cringe, especially if you have teenagers. Yikes (I’m not there yet!) but I do know how teenagers can be.
This week, I wanted to share some ideas on how you can connect as a family.

Here are 3 simple ways that you can spend quality family time together:

  1. Karaoke or Family Dance Party– All you need is YouTube. Pull up some old Disney favourites. The Disney films have something for everyone!  I have two daughters, so you know we live for Disney!

    If you have teenagers, this is a good time to get familiar with all the latest bands and what the teens of today are listening to. You can even give them a dose of the groovy music of your time.
  2. Watching Films– My girls absolutely love watching films with us. They enjoy snuggling under blankets, and it is a ‘big thing’ in our house. You MUST have popcorn ad set the atmosphere and everything to watch a family film! You don’t need a Netflix account or Hulu or whoever, Amazon Prime has films as well as Google Play and the Apple Store that you can rent for a small price or purchase and keep it forever if it’s a family favourite.

  3. Games- For us, games have been very tricky as the girls are too young to understand and follow the objective of some of the board games we adults enjoy, but UNO is a hit with my 5 year old and the 2 year old is happy to ‘pretend’  play with a few cards from the deck. ‘Tumbling Monkeys’ is a family favourite that everyone can enjoy, little ones and older ones. Dominoes are an easy one for little ones to join in on the fun as well.

    But there are some of us who don’t enjoy board games or you may not have any lying around at home. That’s fine! Charades is a great one as well. You can play individual or if your tribe is large enough you can split into teams to play. Hide and seek is a fun one. It becomes a challenge between hubby and I to see who can find the best hiding spots in the house.


Sometimes spending time is just hanging out together. I can’t tell you how refreshing it is sometimes, to just sit in each other’s company and share stories, reminisce and dream together as a family. It’s a great chance to find out what’s on your little one’s heart. What’s going on in your young adult or teenager’s or preteen’s world?  What are they feeling? What are they excited about? What they are looking forward to?

Meaningful connections are what shape the hearts and minds of our kids and is important for nurturing emotionally resilient children.

This week I’m challenging you to rethink and be intentional about quality family time.
I’d be interested to know what simple ways do you spend quality time with your family.
Share your ideas in the comments!

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Table For One

A few days ago, I was listening to a recording of a message spoken at a ladies’ conference. It really spoke to me, stopped me in my tracks and made me pause to have a heart to heart moment with GOD. She gave the illustration of God making this grand feast for us. He sets the table and fills it with ‘good’ stuff, ‘deliciously good’ food specifically for you and me. She continued preaching that GOD then invites us to come and take a seat and eat from the table. HE invites us to take everything that we need for nourishment and fulfilment. The part that really tugged at my heart is {she said} many of us get up from the table and leave what God has so exclusively prepared for you and I right there on the table. We do not bother to take our fill or even take it carry. Everything we need, everything that can and will help us in life, everything that will give us a more fulfilling experience, everything that will strengthen our spirit, our faith and nourish our souls, our bodies, our relationships, our finances, our dreams, we leave it there on the table. She continued by saying, when he calls us to feed us, HE is giving us everything we need to be who HE has made us to be. HE equips us, but we leave the equipment and pick up our own useless, makeshift ‘junk’ to go forth with. (my words, not hers.)

That really hit me. I began to talk to God, right there in the kitchen where I stood washing dishes. My prayer went a little something like this:

 Lord I have been feeling like I am stuck and my dreams or what I thought were the plans you had for me feel so distant. Lord I trust you, but sometimes it feels like YOU are taking me further and further away from where I thought we were going.
Am I just getting up from the table and not bothering to take the lid off these shiny silver platters? Lord am I not taking part in this feast you have personally cooked up just for me? This prayer has been on my heart from that day until now.  

What I have learnt about prayers is that they never go unanswered, but it is quite common to miss the answer, because either the answer was not delivered in the way you expected or it wasn’t the response you were hoping for.

In my prayer, as I lean into HIS grace daily, I am asking him to open my eyes that I might see the splendour of what HE has created especially for me. I am asking HIM to heighten my spiritual senses to the aroma of HIS plans and HIS purpose for me and for HIM to let me taste the tantalizing experience of HIS joy and fulfilment in my life just as HE has designed and purposed it to be.

Are you enjoying and filling up on the special ‘feast’ HE has prepared for you? Or, are you taking a few little bites and leaving it all there to potentially waste? Maybe you brought your own snacks to munch on but are realising that you’re not experiencing true ‘fullness.’ Maybe you need to pray a prayer like I did that God would help work up our appetites, so that you and I both leave nothing behind and take everything our Father has laid out for us.

I would love for us to pray on this together as you let your heart ruminate on these thoughts. Share your heart’s prayer in the comments!

Sending GOD’s Love and Light to you,

Niclair

*Thoughts from my heart, inspired by a message given by the HOLY SPIRIT through Mrs. Chrystal Evans Hurst.

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How GENEROUS are you?

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Luke 6:38

I really do not remember what sparked this line of thought, but I do remember that I had been scrolling my social media (not a junkie, but I have my days) and I saw a post. It made me ask myself the question, are you a generous person?

When I think of generosity, I always think of persons I know with a natural inclination to extend themselves to others, persons with a genuine giving nature. Those persons who always slipped a kind twenty in my palms or who buy little trinkets for my kids, who always volunteer to give you a lift or donate something to a good cause. I always thought of generosity in a tangible aspect. People who are always willing and want to do something for you… they are generous. Generosity for me, was something that could evidentially be seen.

I never think to describe myself as a generous person, and not out of modesty either. I love to give and make people feel happy, but I don’t always extend myself willingly. This is truth, but I have learnt over the years that by giving of myself, I then feel more blessed and eager to keep doing so. The more I gave, the more I wanted to give again and again. So, don’t worry, I am growing! 😊

As I am typing this sentence, it comes to me, I was reading a post that quoted a portion of Proverbs 31. 😊 Every now and again, I go and read Proverbs 31 and meditate on it and try to ‘will’ the persona of this awesome woman from the pages of my bible, or the screen of my phone rather… onto myself. I read it and try to clothe myself in her ‘virtuousness’. Don’t we all, strive to be her! She has got it all together! So, this time, a portion of the scripture jumped at me in verse 20:

‘‘She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.’’

And I began thinking, do I do that? I have given away some clothing and toys that my girls have outgrown before, I have bought baby necessities for other moms who were in need. I have given the homeless person a few coins or a loaf of bread before. But somehow ‘‘open her arms’’ and ‘‘extend her hands’’ made me wonder, if what I counted as generosity was enough? And further, am I only generous towards strangers who may be in dire need or do I have the same generous attitude towards my husband, my children, my friends, my inner circle?

Upon further thinking, the image of open arms, and extending hands, doesn’t just make me think of giving ‘something’ to someone, but it gives me the picture of welcoming and beckoning someone/something ‘into’ your arms, into your space. And so, I imagine that this idea of generosity is not just about giving of yourself it’s about inviting people into your home, into your company, into relationship so that they can be blessed by the compassion, understanding and love that is extended by the Saviour through you.

…for with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

I was reminded of the widow who gave all she had as opposed to the rich who gave a portion of their wealth. (Luke 6:21) Jesus said, the poor widow’s gift surpassed them all because she gave not only ALL of what she had but of what she needed to live, and that took sacrifice.  After doing a heart check, I can say that I have probably been opening just my hands, instead of my arms and I’m not too sure that that I was really extending or stretching myself in service and love towards others.

Looking into THE WORD, I’m asking God to show me how I can please HIM in this area. Read on to discover ways you can open your arms and extend your hands to those in your inner circle.

As a wife…

  • I can support and stand by him even when I am not entirely on board with his ideas. That’s extending and stretching myself past my zone of comfort.
  • I can go the extra mile to make him feel appreciated, honoured and respected.
  • I can listen to his thoughts and his heart even when it may not interest me or when I am sure I can find a million and one other things to get done.
  • I can humbly step in and mask his imperfections to ensure he looks good and is successful in what he does. And I say the term ‘mask his imperfections’ lightly because ain’t nothing imperfect about my man! 😊 But I genuinely mean not highlighting his shortcomings, but instead make your man look good. Talk him up! And where he may not get it all right, you ‘straighten’ his tie’ so to speak, but with kindness and admiration. (work in progress, over here!)

If you do this, that’s GREAT! I respect you and I am happy for you. I know that this is something I need to consistently work at, especially the ‘willingly’ part.

As a mommy…

  • I can intentionally give my time and attention, instead of being otherwise occupied. (and trust… it can drain you at times, I know, but the bond of trust and respect that is built is so rewarding and so beneficial – more about that later!)
  • I can find out, listen and help them through their deepest and treasured concerns. (Gal 6:2)
  • I can gracefully accept their slip-ups, messes and mistakes and show them love amidst the beautiful chaos of motherhood.
  • I can be self-less in serving my family, meaning do it in excellence and not out of obligation. You know what I mean, slapping together some dinner just to get it done. Sweeping the floor for the hundredth time in a day but grumbling all the way through. Picking up toys but screaming at them for leaving it on the floor. Instead, showing true and considerate effort in taking care of my family. (2 Cor 9:7)

Hey, if you’re rocking it out and acing this thing, I lift my glass to you, but I genuinely struggle at times and the Word of God keeps me in check. It is the most authentic mirror I have used to date!

As a Friend…

  • I can reach out to friends and check on them more than I do now. In this digital age, because we double tapped your post from last night, we feel like we’re in regular communication, like we are up to date with each other’s lives. However, I know that I need to be more intentional in typing a message to say ‘Hey, how are you?’ or better yet, dialling their number and asking ‘Did you enjoy your trip last month? How was the doctor’s visit?’ Not just because they posted: Everything checked out! Praise the Lord means that I am up to date on their life on their concerns or stare of mind. Send a note to show that you are genuine about your love and concern for them. Schedule a lunch date or skype date.
  • I can make myself available to assist by giving my time. I am guilty, for sure, of getting wrapped up in my own life of mommyhood and wifehood that I do use that as an excuse at times. And while I know my friends do understand I have different responsibilities; I should try to carve out time to support them. Notice I said time, not just buy gifts, but a phone call, a visit, a spa date, movie night, coffee stop. Pray for them through a voice note, send an encouraging word or scripture. (Prov 11:25)
  • I can pray for their success in life.

Essentially, I can demonstrate more generosity by establishing meaningful connections with the people in my life and pursuing quality relationships because that’s what the Proverbs 31 woman is doing by opening her arms. She is calling them into relationship and extends her hand to establish that connection. This is a part of living generously, God’s way. Christ never fed the people just physically, but he always fed their spirit as well as he ministered. Jesus walked this earth giving generously of himself to the end, by welcoming people into relationship with him and teaching them how to feed and nurture that connection with HIM.

Think about it… Are you really being generous in your life?

Hopefully this post isn’t too long, but I really wanted to share my heart with you on this. You can always save this, bookmark it and come back and read later:)

We say we are generous, but what kind of generous are you?  the ‘open hands’ generous or ‘open arms’ generous?

Thanks for sticking with me! Love and Light to you as we consider the well-being of each other during this trying and uncertain period. Let’s remember to not only pray for our safety and the safety of others, but for those who have already been affected and have experienced loss.

Niclair

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7 WAYS TO BUILD YOUR CHILD’S FAITH

Joshua 24:15

A– As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord. This was our memory verse of the week. The first one in our new scripture memory challenge.

I was listening to a sermon the other day, where a young man shared on the role of parents to instil good values in their children. He was reminding of us of our God given task to bring up our children to know the truth of God’s word. The truth is the family is of great importance to God. HE created family to show his glory and to share his love. Our homes are where our children will first begin to see and experience compassion and love, forgiveness and grace through Christ. Children witness the devotion, kindness and humility between their parents, and they experience first-hand the love and patience showered upon them from their parents.

I realise that I’m raising world changers! My daughters have a spirit about them that I know will impact lives and it’s my duty to make sure that I give them what it takes to make a powerful and positive impact. With all the distractions and antics that grab us and our children’s attention these days, this is something that I know I must be intentional about. It does take some effort, but I know that it is important to not only teach them God’s word but to demonstrate it in our daily living.

I know that a long bible study session shoving the scriptures down their throats is not going to work in my home. I don’t think I can maintain their attention for that long, but I have been trying a few different things that has been effective in developing their understanding of God’s word. You’re probably doing this already but today I am sharing 7 ways to intentionally build your child’s faith and strengthen their love for God.

1.Talk about Jesus in regular conversation.

Children need to understand that Jesus is not entirely abstract but that he is accessible to us as believers. Ask questions like, ‘what do you think Jesus would do in that situation?’ ‘How did Jesus help you today?’

2. Share an experience of your own.

To tell our kids about something is useful, but to show them is invaluable. It’s meaningful to share some of my own challenges with making the right choices. My daughter feels less defeated when I can identify with her struggle to do the right thing. I share how I ask God to help me with certain areas of my life and she draws strength and encouragement from my experiences. She knows that she is not alone!

3. Read Bible stories together.

Get a good Kids bible story book. We use the Beginner’s Bible which you can purchase from Amazon or most Christian bookstores. It has bright, colourful pictures and the stories are short and simplified. Perfect for my 2 and 5-year-old. I also love that you can find some animated versions of the stories on their YouTube page. The girls love watching these. They help to make the stories relevant and accessible to them.

4. Let them hear you pray out loud.

My girls know their morning, evening and mealtime prayers, but it’s also very important for them to know that they can make their prayers personal. I sometimes try to pray out loud so they can hear me personalising my prayers and asking God for help in different areas. I remember my mom doing this when I was younger. My siblings and I heard her pray all the time and this helped to shape our confidence in talking to God.

5. Ask them if there is something they would like to pray about or if there is someone they would like to pray for. Pray with them.

My mom is good at doing this with my girls. Any time the girls are upset, or in pain or feeling poorly, she asks them if they would like her to pray and they always reply with ‘Yes, NANA’. They crawl into her bosom and she prays with them. Sometimes she would tell them what to say and they will close their eyes and repeat her words with the purest faith I have ever witnessed.

Sometimes if someone isn’t feeling well, she would say, ‘Let’s pray that they feel better’ and they would do a quick prayer together in that moment. Take advantage of great opportunities to demonstrate ‘ACTIVE FAITH’.

6. Take a moment to notice the evidence of God’s glory all around you.

 Ask them what is the most amazing thing they think God has created. Look around you for evidence of God’s handiwork and talk about its beauty. We talk about nature, and how God made the birds. We talk about how God gave the ants strength to carry their own food for long distances. All the things that naturally spark curiosity in a child is an excellent way to remind them (and ourselves) of the wonder of God and his magnificent creation.

7. Worship Dance Party.

And of course, we gotta shake those wiggles out ever so often. Our dance parties usually happen in the kitchen when I’m cooking dinner or when we’re tidying up after playtime. We turn on some praise and worship music, sing and dance together as we worship God. It’s a good way to switch into a cheerful mood as well. We love Listener Kids videos on YouTube!

Tried not to make this one too long. Maybe there are a few things here that you do already, if you are that’s awesome! If not, please don’t feel like you’re failing and definitely don’t feel like i’m adding to a list of things that you have to make happen in your home. Most of these are probably things that happen in your home naturally, and you just need to work (like I do as well) at being more intentional about it.

My prayer is that you are inspired and challenged to live and demonstrate Active Faith for the little ones whom God has entrusted to you.

I am interested to know how discipleship looks in your homes. Share in the comments below!

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Kids have BIG EMOTIONS too!

Previously, I shared about my own experience with anxiety and how I am learning to focus on the positive and release my grip on things I have no control over.

Today, I wanted to share a little about what I have been observing in my 5 year old. I have a very clever and expressive 5 year old. Anyone who knows her, knows that she is quite the talker and full of life. An encounter with her is truly an EXPERIENCE  that will remain with you. I am incredibly inspired by her boldness and love for people and life. She thrives on social interaction and constant attention. She also is a very emotionally intelligent girl (for her age, I think). She would watch a film and become very upset by sad and unfair scenes from as young as 3 years old. I mean the girl was in tears during ‘Curious George’.

As I observe her, I notice a lot of myself in her- the way she carries the ‘weight of the world’ at times. Taking on the distress of her peers and family members. She would be so upset upon witnessing any injustice done to someone.

So recently, we have been in a bit of a struggle, because she has destroyed countless blouses from her constant chewing on the neck of them. Along with that, we argue daily about her putting things, small items in her mouth. It was like, every moment, you had to tell her ‘’take that out of your mouth’’ ”that’s not for eating!’’ Even after a trip to the hospital from swallowing a coin, she still didn’t seem to understand that nothing other than food and water, should enter her mouth.

I kept thinking to myself, this just isn’t normal! I don’t have this problem with my 2-year-old at all. Actually, the only thing my 2 year old ever puts in her mouth is food! But my elder, just didn’t seem as if she could help herself, and the more I got on her case about it, it’s almost like the worse it got. So I took to the internet to do some research on how common this was in 5 year olds.

It opened my eyes to the possibility that it was probably something that she was doing unconsciously as an emotional coping mechanism.

I have been biting my nails from a little girl and still do to this day! Nasty habit I know! Don’t judge me! But I have way more control over it than I did as a child. It was somewhat comforting it was a release of some sort. But my daughter doesn’t bite her nails like I did. She chews!

What I found from numerous sources was that she could be dealing with a level of anxiety. Some of the common signs in children included the following:

  • Chewing or biting on nails or objects
  • Unexplained tummy aches
  • Fits of crying for what may seem like ‘trivial’ things
  • Excessive questioning about what may seem to be ‘the obvious’
  • Overly- emotional over stories or movies etc.
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Sleeplessness

These are just some of the typical signs, most of which I have noticed in her behaviours.

I know that like myself, she is a high achiever, and she does put pressure on herself to get it ‘right’ all the time. She is very competitive. And so like I spoke about in my last post, just like me, she feels pressure to do things perfectly, consistently. This is part of the reason why I wanted to learn to manage the anxiety in my life. I could see an impending cycle and I don’t want my daughter to subject herself to that same sort of pressure. I believe that she has inadvertently learned this anxious behaviour by observing and watching me. Now that I have identified that she can be quite anxious I have been working on ways to help her cope when she begins to feel this way.

It’s important to me to me to address the emotional need behind the (irritating) behaviours first, so I will start with some ways to address and help relieve the anxiety itself.

IDENTIFY THE FEELING

  1. The first step is recognizing the feeling. For children at this age it may be hard to put in words what they may be feeling or thinking. She usually says something to me like, ‘‘mommy I don’t feel like myself, my body feels weird and different’’ or she may say ‘‘mommy I feel like my legs don’t work’’ Don’t worry I have checked that she is physically ok! Which she usually is, but she is trying to relate that she feels like she has no control over her body and her emotions that are overwhelming her at that time.

So I encourage her to describe to me what she is thinking about. I ask her pointed questions about her day, her friends, things she may be afraid of, or excited about or worried about. It’s important to note that you can be anxious about something good or something you are expecting, like a special trip or new baby brother/sister etc. So it doesn’t always have to be negative, but it helps that our children can identify the feeling and have strategies to self-manage and cope in any circumstance.

This is important in raising our kids to be resilient.

USE THE GROUNDING TECHNIQUE

  • When she is describing the different feelings in her body, I use the 5-4-3-2-1 technique that I described in my earlier post here. It works and it seems to break her fixation on whatever is turning in her mind to allow herself to regain a sense of control.

PRAY WITH THEM

  • Pray about it. If it’s something she is worried about or concerned about, we pray together. In instances when she can’t say for sure what may be bothering her, we still pray. I let her lead and usually it comes out when she begins to mention things in her prayer. I learned this from my mom. Many times, when I felt powerless to help, her NANA would call her and pray for her. Those NANA prayers are POWERFUL!

ILLUSTRATE THEIR THOUGHTS

  • Draw pictures. This is a good way for kids to express what they can’t say to you explicitly. You can derive lots from a child’s description of a few circles and scribbles. It’s also very useful as a calm down strategy, as they can transport their thoughts to the paper and off their mind.

CREATE A SAFE SPACE

  • Create an open and honest space. It’s important to me that she feels comfortable to come and talk to me about any and everything. I know that this will almost be non-existent when she approaches those teenage years, so I am trying my best to build the foundation to encourage that from now.

GIVE A CUDDLE

  • Sometimes a warm hug of reassurance is just enough to settle the nerves and remind our kids that they are safe, and you are there for them. It’s also very important that they get that cuddle time from you as a parent so that there is no desire to seek that comfort outside of the safety of your family or home. This is something I am still working on. Let me be clear in saying that I am not perfect and do not do this consistently, but I am working at it as I try to be what my girls need me to be.

ALLOW SOME QUIET TIME

  • Lots of people implement a calm down/ quiet corner to help children to settle and cope with their big emotions. This sometimes helps my daughter when she is in a crying fit. However, she better responds to closeness and attachment. So, sending her to a quiet space isn’t usually a good solution I find. Taking her and sitting with her would work better in her case. These quiet corners can include a calm down kit, with items such as a relevant storybook, sensory bottles, stress ball, stuffed animal, relaxation pictures. This is not something I have tried with her yet, but I have seen it being used effectively with kids in the classroom.

ENCOURAGE POSITIVE SELF TALK

  • Positive affirmations. I started this about a year ago with her, and I haven’t always stuck with it, but she does. At one point when she was very anxious about issues at school. I wrote down some affirmations on a poster for her which we would read every morning on our way out the door. Eventually she had learnt them by heart, and she would repeat it by herself just before she ran to her classroom. It really helped to settle her nerves and prepare her for the day ahead and it has always stuck with her. So up to this day, she would turn to me when she is uncertain and repeat it to me as if to say. ‘I’m feeling a little shaky today, but I know I got this!’  An example of the affirmation I did for her was I am brave. I am strong. I am beautiful. God loves me. I find it to be a little more meaningful than ‘’have a good day’’. You can also include things like I am a good friend. I am smart! I can do hard things…etc.

SET TIME LIMITS

  • Set a focus timer. This one may be strange. But because she gets super anxious when she is excited or sometimes worried about something not going right. This sometimes leads to less desirable behaviours. To help her to stay on track with what she needs to do considering her excitement, I use a timer. No, I don’t use a sand jar or digital hand timer. Although you can! But let’s be honest, we ain’t always got time for that! I countdown myself: Let’s get this done by the time I count to 5 or 10 etc. If she’s worried about something, she will become distracted in her thoughts or avoid doing things or just do them painfully slow! So a timer is a good way to snap her out of the anxious trance and get her going. The competitive nature in her allows for a good redirection of her thoughts.

GIVE THEM A SENSORY RELEASE

  • Lastly, there are lots of suggestions for using sensory chew toys, as excessive chewing, especially in older children can be indications of a sensory disorder, however we haven’t tried this. I feel if we are able to keep anxiety to a minimum then the chewing will eventually be non-existent! We will see! My goal is to deal with the underlying problem so that I can reduce the NEED to chew.

Note that the last few points address some of the behaviours that come with anxious feelings. I added this at the end, emphasizing that the CAUSE of the concern or worry should always be addressed first.

These are based on my observations with my girls and what works in our home. Yes, I have a psychology background but it is framed by my experiences as a young mom. If you as a parent feel that things are more serious. Don’t feel afraid or embarrassed to seek professional advice. As parents it’s our duty to do what we need to do to ensure our little ones are living a mentally healthy and productive life. We are living in a world where 6-year olds are committing suicide, 8-year olds are suffering from depression, 10-year olds are walking into schools and shooting their peers. Kids have stress too! And just like you need to offload as an adult, they need to offload as well. But they also need to be coached and supported in figuring out how this looks for them.

I know this was a heavy one, but I think it’s important to recognise and acknowledge that our kids are little human beings trying to navigate this world too! And truth is…you and I know how challenging it can be.

Until next time……Grow in Grace,

Niclair

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Let’s chat about ANXIETY.

I stood in the girls restroom trying to stifle my uncontrollable sobs so no one could hear. After a few minutes, I began to breathe easier. Looking into the mirror I dried my eyes. ”Niclair, you can do this! You’ve got to do this! You’re almost there! Pick yourself up and keep going!” I whispered these words to myself as I stared into my now red and puffy eyes.

This was one of several attacks I had suffered in high school and college. At the time, I thought I was overwhelmed and stressed and you know- over- emotional like we assume teenage girls are. I now know that I had been experiencing anxiety attacks.

The stress of constant studying and pressure to achieve the grades I needed, to be accepted to my universities of choice was overwhelming, especially in an academically competitive school like the one I attended. I was pushing myself beyond my physical capacity with late nights, early mornings and still failing to achieve the desired grades.

While I am happy I did it, and am pleased with my success, I can’t hide the fact that it was TOUGH! But, I wanted it, so I pushed for it!

Anxiety is something that I have always struggled with. It’s the ”perfectionist” side of me that I believe is the root of my anxiety. Not that I, myself wanted to be perfect, but I had always felt that people expected me to be ‘perfect’ and so I always felt that pressure to perform, to be the best, to do the right thing, to do the expected thing. There was no room for mistakes. People depended on me. I know that my parents only ever expected me to do my personal best, but I carried a misconception that ‘I’ couldn’t afford to ever disappoint, so I put pressure on myself to out-do my own ‘best’.

Let me just interject here that, Perfection is something none of us can ever achieve. Only CHRIST is perfect. The perfection that some us strive for is just a false sense of security and satisfaction that we get to shield us from our insecurities and vulnerability about others may think about us. I love how Brene Brown describes it in her book ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’.( Go read it now if you haven’t! I’ve read it twice. It’s so enlightening!) ”Perfectionism is , at its core, about trying to earn approval and acceptance……we want to be perceived as perfect.” Truth is, as long as it looks perfect on the outside to everyone else, we have achieved success!

I digress a little. I’m sharing my story- not struggle- with anxiety because it is real and many people are affected by it and don’t realise. As described by the NHS website, Anxiety is characterised by feelings of worry, uneasiness or fear. While feelings of anxiety are completely normal at times in ones’ life, for example, life- changing event, a big exam, etc. if these feelings are affecting your regular routine and daily life, then you may have to seek help.

For me, help wasn’t as serious as seeing a therapist or GP, but I do have some strategies on hand to help me when I feel an attack coming on and some ways to lessen my anxiety in general about certain life situations.

Just to give you an idea, some common symptoms of anxiety are:

-insomnia
-a sense of dread
-difficulty concentrating
-irritability
-constantly feeling stressed
-nail- biting/chewing habit
-refraining from unplanned or spontaneous activities
-the need for a predetermined plan all the time

Signs of an anxiety attack are mostly physical, and can include:

-dizziness
-Heart palpitations ( irregular heartbeat, strong or fast)
-confusion
-Shaking
-excessive sweating
-shortness of breath
-feeling nauseous
-Feeling faint or weak
-Uncontrollable sobbing

Please bear in mind that everyone is different and this is by no means to be taken as official medical advice! It is purely a synopsis of my personal research and experience. Anxiety doesn’t only affect your psychological health but can affect your physical health as well. I encourage you to do a self- evaluation and make the choice to see a professional if you feel anxiety is hindering your daily life and normal routine.

We were on our way to church, it might have been our second or third Sunday as newlyweds. Hubby was driving, and we were both just in our thoughts and I burst into tears. I couldn’t help myself, I didn’t know what was wrong. My heart just suddenly felt like someone had set a couple of bricks on it. Of course he was concerned and pulled over until I was calm. And I was so embarrassed, I thought, ”my brand new husband probably wondering what is wrong with this girl and fretting about what he may have to deal with in future.”

Truth: I had just done some major life changing stuff and I barely took the time to really let it sink in. I graduated school, returned home, started two jobs and got engaged all in the space of 6 months. A year from my engagement, I was married and ‘living with man’! (Homegirl grow up in church you know, that’s a big deal!) And it was all just hitting me like a ton of bricks and……yeah! However I am grateful for such an understanding and supportive husband. He is never and has never been judgemental or scared of these ‘imperfections’. He just goes with my flow! 🙂

Since then, I’ve had a few other attacks as an adult, but now that I can recognise them and understand that as a result of anxiety, I try as much as possible to release my grip on always trying to ‘have it together’ or knowing the plan.

I aim to keep my mind on the things that I can control and surrender what I can’t. And on those few days that everything falls to pieces, I use the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 grounding technique. This was suggested by a close friend of mine, and it really helps me during an attack.

During the onset of an attack, I take slow, deep breaths and look for
5 things that I can see
4 things that I can feel
3 things that I can hear
2 things that I can smell and
1 thing that I can taste

I also look for an object to focus in on and concentrate on its details. e.g a window drape, the colour, texture, pattern etc.

Anxiety is quite common with many people today, especially in woman because of the many social pressures to again be fit, be successful, be a model career woman, be an entrepreneur, be the ‘magazine’ mom, be the ‘trophy’ wife, to be…PERFECT!

I am at the point where I am so tired of trying to live to other’s expectations! it’s exhausting! It’s stressful and self- destructive! So while I know anxiety is real, and I accept that. It’s something that I am trying to reduce as much as possible these days by releasing myself from these pressures and just following, at my own pace, the path God has laid out for me.

Philippians 4:6-8:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

This verse is always in my back pocket. It’s a constant reminder to surrender my concerns, my worries, insecurities to Christ- and honestly, when you fully let go of them you will experience HIS Peace. His Peace will keep you. His Peace reminds me that HE has the power to ‘perfect’ everything that concerns me, so I don’t need to worry!

Matthew 6:25-34 reminds me that, if God has strategically and divinely placed everything in nature around me, then surely he has a divine plan for my life as well.

I also don’t need to try and keep up with everyone around me, I can run/ walk/skip at my own pace because Romans 8:28 tells me that ‘in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.’

I know what it is to strive for something with everything in you because you fear to disappoint yourself and others. I still struggle with that now, but I’m learning that my success and accomplishment cannot be based on other’s measuring stick. If that’s the case I will forever be trying to ‘keep up’ but instead falling short. I’m seeing the need to be compassionate with myself because I cannot control other’s perception of who I am or who they think I am suppose to be. What defines me is who God says that I am!

As I leave you with these thoughts, this scripture is one that I keep in my other back pocket:
Proverbs 3:5-6  Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Trust God to take you where he wants you to be!

If you feel like anxiety is something you struggle with and would like someone to talk to, I am happy to be a listening ear and shoulder for support. Get in touch with me! We can pray on this together!

Stay tuned for my next post, where I’ll be sharing about anxiety in children, how to spot it and coping strategies. Until then,
Keep Growing!

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Yesterday was a good day! How was today?- Ask me tomorrow!

Do you sometimes feel like you can’t ground yourself? What are you talking about Niclair? Today your feeling great, motivated, recharged, Tomorrow your back at the bottom struggling to bring purpose to your day. Well if that’s not you, awesome! Some people just always seem ready to bring the force! This is not me! Let me give you an example. Last week Thursday, I had a really good day. I was THE mom! I didn’t shout or raise my voice at the girls. We played and laughed together. They tried their hardest to play cooperatively and ate all their dinner without too much fuss! It was a GOOD day! And when I stepped into the shower that evening, all I could do was sing praises to God, because I had such a peace. I felt God’s presence with me all day. Fast forward to Friday…….it was dreadful! I started the day willing myself out of bed. I felt myself spiralling out of control all day. I ended Friday in tears as I stood in the shower, feeling guilty for not having a day like yesterday! I find myself constantly in this cycle so I prayed about it and told God this was an area I needed some help with. So lately, I have been working on some ways to help me keep a positive mindset and grateful attitude so that whatever drama the day brings, I am mentally prepared to take it on and not let it drag me down.

Truth is, this happens a lot with me. I have an awesome day and then a horrendous day! Like…. what gives? And when I reflect on it. It wasn’t really a horrendous day, but I did have some ‘stuff’ on my heart that were a real burden. Instead of laying them at the feet of the one who says to us to give HIM everything, I carried it around all day. The weight of the burden on my mind was hindering my focus so much that I couldn’t even tune in to my worship music. It affected my mood and because my mood was off, everything else became out of balance.

I replayed the negativity continuously in my mind and so I couldn’t steer my thoughts on the goodness of God and HIS love for me. We sometimes do this thing where we put something down but it’s still in our sight, so it remains on our hearts weighing us down. And you know us moms, when something is there long enough we pick it back up.

How do you give something to God and make sure you leave it with HIM? Choose to pick up something else instead. When you go to the feet of Jesus, in prayer and you pour out your heart to HIM, i’m encouraging you make sure you leave with something when you get up. Not the same thing of course but something which he has offered to you….HIS unconditional love for us, the promise that HE is always with us and a reminder of HIS all- sufficient GRACE. A reminder to give yourself a little more grace and to offer those around you a little more grace. BE GRACIOUS.

For me, if something doesn’t go as planned, or I lose track of time or the girls did something that threw my day out of whack, I always get stressed. There I begin losing control and falling into that disappointed, negative mindset as I scramble to get my day back on track. And I am realizing that I put so much pressure on myself and the people closest to me, no wonder I get stressed! We all get stressed! I’m learning to be gracious!

I sometimes take my thoughts towards others and pretend as if it was Jesus saying the same to me: ”This is your last chance. It’s about time you get this right, Niclair !” And immediately I’m like Whoa… ummm Niclair, where’s the grace? I recall once being quite frustrated with Sarai and I asked ”Do you think you deserve a second chance? How many chances have I given you already?” And in that exact moment, I heard God echo those words in my heart! ”Niclair, do you think you deserve a second chance? How many chances have I given you already?” And I thought in my heart, Lord please don’t put a limit on it, because I know I’m going to need more!

I say that to say sometimes those around us, those closest to us could use a little more grace. For me as a mom of a powerhouse 5 year old and a spirited 2 year old, I tend to be very firm sometimes. Firm, because I love them and I know that these are the tender years and I want to make sure that I am teaching them wrong from right and how to do the responsible thing. Still, i’ve got to remind myself to be gracious with myself and with them. We are doing this together. They can’t do this thing without me and I can’t do it without them for sure!

One of the things I began to do, is wake up with worship music and have it playing in the mornings as we start our day. Well it has been working and I am so much better prepared for the day and the challenges it may bring. I even find that I feel more in charge and in control of my mood throughout the day. It’s also been beneficial to spend more time in the word of GOD. Setting aside time to meditate on God’s promises makes it easier to draw on them during the day when I need a little boost.

As I am writing, in the time I have allocated as ”my time to write”, Hannah is demanding that I go and get her some food 🙂 . So before I go, I want to leave with you these scriptures that encourage me:

2 Corinthians 12:9 – But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Philippians 1:6- being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Until next time, keep going and keep growing!
Niclair x

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BE the one to kick ‘comfortable’ to the curb!

I always use to think that one should grow within the area of their strengths. I believed that one should develop what you’re good at, follow your natural talents and abilities because those were the areas you would excel in and more likely to be successful in. With this mindset I began to approach various things in my life. I stuck to (and still do) what I was good at. I restricted my self to doing what came naturally. That was ok for me, because I knew I wouldn’t fail in that area. I knew it was my strength and I was bound to be successful. So I entered into a feel good, all settled, comfort zone. This is dangerous territory for various reasons:

1- You can become complacent and start doing things at a mediocre level;

2- You can fall into a slump, where you don’t experience any growth.

About a year or two ago, I found myself slipping into this place. I wasn’t stretching myself and I wasn’t learning anything new. I began to feel bored and trapped because I refused to challenge myself. I felt comfortable in a box doing things I knew I could do well without much effort. I wanted more, but wouldn’t dare leave the box! Why couldn’t I leave the box?

F E A R! Fear keeps us from discovering what’s beyond the boundaries of our current experiences. It keeps us in the safe zone! And while I might have felt protected from the unknown, which may have included possible failure, defeat disappointment, the ”unknown” just might have included greater opportunities, growth and other successes. More importantly FEAR stunted my FAITH! FAITH in what God has already promised me. Faith in his HOLY Spirit to guide me and Faith in myself and my ability to do all things in HIS strength!

Fear hangs on to our skirt tail more regularly that we realise, but that’s why this year I am focusing on realising some of my dreams. The dreams that you know we pretend aren’t there, because we DOUBT they will come to pass. I am putting my faith to the test in 2020 by leaving that comfy spot on the couch. I am pushing myself to take on new challenges. I am pursuing ideas that are not within my areas of strength because I want to do more, grow more, be more and to do that I am going to have to encounter some new experiences. It will require a greater effort on my part, but that’s how you build muscle, You don’t get muscle lifting balloons.

People, we will meet resistance! It will take many forms! One to look out for is naysayers!There will be people who doubt your success and would encourage you to play it safe! There will be people who will tell you to ‘stay in your lane.’ And when they do, just say to them ”Tell Jesus, it’s him not me at the wheel!”

People it will feel HARD! The harder the task, the sweeter the reward! Jesus met resistance throughout his journey teaching, preaching and performing miracles. But I can just imagine how full his heart must have become when he met that woman whose faith was such that she only wanted to touch his garment.

People, it will get lonely sometimes but those are the opportune times to surround yourself in God’s presence! Look up encouraging scriptures to help you in these times. I’m not ashamed- I type into google ‘ scriptures to encourage lonely women’ and BAM! Hey, I’m still studying and still growing!

This year I challenge you to BE obedient to the call within your heart. BE someone who rises to the occasion and doesn’t sit back and let awesomeness pass you over. BE someone who crosses new territory in confidence because you got the BIG MAN leading the way. BE someone who is not afraid to FAIL because your FAITH is bigger than your FEAR.

BE COURAGEOUS!