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.

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!

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!

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

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.

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.

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!

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

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

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!