Thursday, 26 January 2017

Hygge - what's it all about ?

There's been this trend for a while now and lots of books have come out all about "Hygge" the Danish art of happiness. I'm a bit late to the party but I've just been enjoying one of those many books that I picked up recently and it had some lovely instagram-like pictures in it and looked worth a browse!

If, like me, you've somehow managed to miss the Hygge-train until now, the word is pronounced "h-ou-gir" and although we don't have a word for it in the English language it's that feeling of peace, contentment and like everything is right in the world at that given moment. It's about resting, relaxing, togetherness and being fully present.

"Its in the Hygge that I put life on pause and remember to enjoy the little things" -Lea Sommer 

I love everything about all those things, and without having had a word for it until now it's something I very much seek out for our day to day lives. Being a stay at home mum means that there's lots of routine and rhythm to our lives as we revolve around mealtimes, naptimes, bed times... eat, sleep, repeat! At times it can feel monotonous, but the antedote to all that is to slow down and and truley take in the moments. I even have a little piece of framed calligraphy on my mantle piece to remind me: "Wherever you are be all there"

"To me, hygge is a moment of letting go - a moment without limitations of time, duties, stress or distractions. A moment of love, warmth and time to gather round the small things: a card game, a book or a bath.... Hygge is that extra time I give myself to fully enjoy a special moment but at the same time something that magically happens every single day if I simply open my eyes." - Nanna Mosegaard, mother of two, Norrebro, Copenhagen 

That said, sometimes life doesn't seem so #hygge after all. Everyone knows the rat race, the stress of busyness, too much to do on too little time. There's a time to work and a time to play, and it's the rhythms of working hard and being productive with our days that make those sweet moments even sweeter.

For me, I'm naturally task oriented so it often takes a lot of discipline for me to set aside the to do list for a while to enjoy being fully present with my boys or to slow down enough to let them "help" me in my tasks and enjoy each other that way.

What would hygge be to yout?
For me it's sweatpants and reading books under a blanket with my boys, 
candles lit enjoying drinks and snacks and good chat with friends, 
cosy pjs tucked up under fresh sheets listening to the rain outside, 
eating a well earned picnic on top of a Lake District peak with my man by my side 
or enjoying a cup of good coffee and a piece of dark chocolate.... 
now those, I believe, are glimpses of eternity!

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Do something about Dinner!

Hello again!  I hope you're all still where you want to be with any New Years Resolutions you've made now that January is well under way.... and if not, it's not too late, just jump back on!  If you're in need of a little inspiration, here's my third and final New Years Resolution:

**Do something about dinner!

This one might sound a bit silly in light of the "depth" of my other two, so let me explain!  Whether you call it dinner time, supper time or tea time, if you have little kids, or a job that runs late or school runs, clubs... whatever, that early evening hour or two where everyone is tired and hungry can get a bit chaotic.  (Not to mention the hanger that has been known to rear its ugly head around here!)  In our house the addition of a one-year-old finding his feet has just recently added to the pandemonium to the point that I knew something needed to change.  So, I did what any other millennial might well do... and asked for advice on Social Media!  I guess I was hoping for some kind of life hack that would take the stress out of cooking the evening meal, but still leave us with something healthy on our plates come 5:30pm.  

After weighing up some great suggestions I have decided to batch cook and freeze meals during nap times, days where the boys aren't at home, or when I have an extra pair of adult eyes to look out for them while I cook.  

So far this has been working so well.  I actually don't know why I haven't thought of or done this before!  It's meant that the evening "witching hour" isn't so witchy anymore because I can give my full attention (mostly) to the (very needy) needs of the moment.  My stress levels are lower, and I no longer dread the tea-time pandemonium.  I feel like I'm able to be more present, enjoy my boys and set the tone for a better start to the evening.  And, probably best of all from my husbands point of view, he gets to come home to the smell of good food without the frazzled wife, screaming kids and demolition-site looking home!  Win win!

If you're inspired to do something similar, here's some links to recipes that I've found work really well for this kind of batch cooking and freezing.  Enjoy! And if you try doing things this way I'd love to know any recipes you've enjoyed and how it's been making positive changes to the routine in your house too!

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Creative joys

Towards the end of 2015 I read a book called "The Fringe Hours" it's a book that I still think of and that still inspires me even though I haven't read it again since. It's impacted the way I think about creativity... and so my second goal for this year is 

**To make more time for my creative joys! (And I call them that because making and creating really is my happy place!)

I wrote about this back in 2015 after I'd finished reading that book, and I really can't put it any better, so here's some thoughts from that post:  

"She writes that we're all creative by nature whether we realise it or not, we've been made by a Creator God and made in His image, and so that made so much sense to me. The problem is that we spend so much of our time and our days consuming that we forget about the joy of creating. 

So I've purposed to organise myself and prioritise time for creativity above other things...What would those (creative) things be for you? It's the gifts and talents God has given you, the things that you get excited about or that make you feel fulfilled and satisfied. The things that bring you joy and others too. How amazing would it be if we all set aside some of the consuming to get creating instead? I think we'd live fuller, more interesting and satisfied lives and probably bless others in the process.

So that's my challenge, to create more and consume less... Screens, TV, social media... To make time for things that matter by filtering out the things that don't. To prioritise the fulfilling and side-step the time-wasting... "

To thrive. Not just survive!


Friday, 13 January 2017

The Game-Changer

My first resolution or goal or whatever you want to call it is this:

**To wake up earlier for some time to read/pray/have peace and quiet before the day gets going.

 For those of you who don't know, I have a one year old and a two year old, both of whom are BUSY! Our days are full but so good. I usually like to take time while they're both napping to read and journal, sometimes with a bible study guide like the Beth Moore ones that I've been enjoying a lot recently. I know that my nap time days a numbered with my oldest though and so wanted to get into a habit I can stick to long term. Also, the days don't always get off to the best start when I'm woken up by being jumped on and pulled at and have to just hit the ground running... I'm hoping this new habit can change that. 

I recently listened to a podcast interview with Kat Lee called "The Mom Game Changer" where she talks about her Hello Mornings idea and the 3 minute morning 30 day challenge. It was so inspiring, you can listen to it here.  I've been intimidated with the thought of getting up any earlier than absolutely necessary because sleep is so. so. precious these days. This interview really helped me to feel like this goal could be an achieveable one for me, even in this season of life with little kids, and actually how it might even be the best time to start, so that I can do each day well instead of just trying to survive.

I'm already feeling the positive benefits of starting out my day this way. If you're wanting to make a change in this too, here's a few ideas and tools to inspire you...

Kat Lee - 3 minute morning 30 day challenge
Beth Moore Bible Study Guides
Lara Casey podcast interview on "Cultivate what matters"
Ann Voskamp's blog and One Thousand Gifts devotional

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

More than just survive

Here I am again! Sporadic blogger that I am! I do love January though for the inspiration it brings, to think about life, where we've been and where we're going. I enjoy the fresh start. 

Over Christmas we chose again to slow down and take some time to think and pray about what our priorities might be over the coming months. What might need to shift or change and what could stay the same. For me there's a few "resolutions" if you want to call it that, so I thought I'd share some in the hopes of maybe inspiring and encouraging some of you too :) 

Yesterday I was listening to a band I enjoy called Casting Crowns and the words of their song "Thrive" shouted at me so loud I had to listen to the song again and keep pausing it to write them down!...

We know that we were made for so much more than ordinary lives
It's time for us to more than just survive.
We were made to thrive.

Joy unspeakable 
Faith unsinkable
Love unstoppable
Anything is possible

So good! And such a challenge at the same time. As a busy mum, it's easy for me to slip into survival mode. To just make it through the day. But those words ring true to me "it's time for us to more than just survive"... "for so much more than ordinary lives"..."we were made to thrive!"

So if you feel like you're just in survival mode and wishing you could find a way to thrive. If you think joy unspeakable, faith unsinkable, love unstoppable sounds good... then stick around for the next few blog posts, (sign up to get them by email if you really don't want to miss any!) I'll be sharing my resolutions for the year ahead and maybe you'll be inspired to set some of your own.... or press on to keep those youve already started out on. 

Anything is possible!

Saturday, 10 September 2016

God speaks... Not just on Sunday!

Its a good book and some deep thoughts that bring me back to the world of blogging. I've almost finished reading "Roots and Sky", by Christie Purifoy, and it's one of those books I'll be sad to turn the last page. One of those books I'm choosing to linger over and will leave many pages dog-eared. 

Lately I've been rediscovering Gods voice and relearning how He speaks, guides and directs me. I believe that He does speak to each of us individually and I believe it's a process of learning, growing, maturing and discerning that leads us to be in close and constant communication with Him.  My journey in learning to discern His voice was interrupted a few years ago when, I heard wrong and it ended in heart ache... In hind-sight I didn't hear wrong, the journey and His timing was just different than I had imagined in the midst, and so looking back, He has proved Himself faithful once again. That said, since then, I've gone through various stages and seasons of doubting, questioning whether He really does speak to me, whether I am actually capable of hearing His voice and lots of other questions and confusion in between. 

Recently, I've felt Him calling me to test Him in this. To listen. To obey. And to watch His hand at work. And it's been an amazing journey. It's in the midst of this that I'm stumbling across these words from Christie Purifoy in her book and finding they resonate with me in a new way. Having recently moved to a new home, she feels Gods gentle nudge to open her home to all her neighbours for an Easter egg hunt. Way out of her comfort zone, and yet she chooses to listen and respond.

"It seems that so much depends on listening to the quietest whispers. "How perfect this long, green avenue is for an Easter Egg hunt." And so much depends on following, even if we drag all our fears and doubts along for the wild ride. I don't think following Christ is like aiming at a tiny Bulls-eye on a diminishing target. We are not in constant danger of missing the one right road God has mapped out for us. And yet. Perhaps the mystery who first breathed life into our dusty bones is always ready and waiting to carry us over some new cliff. To draw us deeper into unknown territory and toward unimaginable things. Unforeseen gifts."

I love those words, that He is waiting to draw us deeper into the unknown and unimaginable, a potentially fearful prospect, and yet we can count it all as gifts. Amazing unforeseen gifts.

As Christie gets deeper and deeper into the planning and planting of her new garden, she finds herself listening to His voice beyond the pages of her Bible. I find myself identifying with her words again and want to share them here, but know this... I'm encouraging you to buy her book and read the whole thing, it's worth it! 

"It is late April and I have abandoned my books...even my Bible... I worry over the pendulum swing I have made since Lent. From a winter of words, in nursery catalogs and Tolkeins tales, prayer books and my Bible, to this Spring hustle of digging, planting, weeding, pruning. from contemplation with Scripture to contemplation with spade and watering can. There was a period when I would have narrowed my eyes on hearing someone say they felt closer to God outdoors than in a church. I was sure, and I am still sure, that we mostly find God in the rubbing shoulders with other, difficult people. Like ourselves. God shows up in the jagged edges between us. I believe this... I have learned how much I miss when I assume God speaks only on a Sunday morning... Pulpit words. Hymnal words. Devotional words. These aren't the only words in which to hear Gods voice...some of Gods words can never be heard unless we set aside our books, quiet our usual prayers, and look. Listen. Wait." 

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Rest in the chaos

In the front of my journal I have notes and thoughts from some quiet time spent in the first few days and weeks of this year. It's something I've purposed to do and enjoyed the process of this past few years. 2016 started with getting to grips with becoming a mum of two as we welcomed our 2nd son into the world right before Christmas.  All that in mind, I knew that my "resolutions" for 2016 needed to be realistic! You can read my post on that right before this one, as I have not actually blogged since then! with two little guys is pretty much as full as I thought it would be!

My "resolution" was this: 

Last weekend I've been thinking about this again as I stumbled upon a blog via Instagram which has totally resonated with these resolutions of mine. The bloggers' name is Terrica Joy and I'd highly recommend her most recent post on Sabbath Rest: aswell as her Instagram account @terricajoy

Sabbath is a bit of a strange word and one we don't use anymore really. Sometimes church people call Sunday the sabbath and the bible talks about it too.  I personally believe that "sabbath" is more than just a day of the week for going to church and enjoying a good roast dinner with friends and/ or family. I think "sabbath" is a principle of rest. Resting in God and enjoying His presence 7 days a week. Not just in a church building, or around a formal dinner table, but also in the trenches of everyday life - elbow deep in nappies and baby bath water, or around the conference table, in the car commuting, out for a walk, eating dinner with friends, on a play date.... You get what I'm saying. Sabbath rest is a mindset and a mentality. It's a peace and a contentment. It's a slowness and present-ness even in amongst full days and weeks. When we rest in God we recognise that there isn't a need to be always striving for recognition or power or influence or "success" or a spotless show home worthy house or the next must-have whatever. With that comes freedom. Freedom to slow down, take notice, soak in each day, count gifts and acknowledge God for them, enjoy the small seemingly insignificant moments that are actually beautiful and life-giving in and of themselves. 

Maybe that's all a bit too deep and nebulous. So here's what these resolutions have been looking like for me practically the past few months:

- using my boys nap times to sit and read/journal/rest knowing that the housework or whatever else can wait.

- prioritising play dates and visits with friends

- simple hospitality. Good food with friends + kids + sometimes a bit of chaos. It's all good

- going for walks most mornings and being present with my boys. Letting my two year old play and explore along the way rather than being on a mission to rush the time away so I can get onto the next thing.

- time in my kitchen. My happy place. Planning and cooking good food for us to enjoy as a family (see @kargskitchen on Instagram)

- starting the year off with a Bible study in the book of Daniel by Beth Moore and another one that I'll do later on in the psalms. 

- not over cramming my days. Leaving time and space to read books to R, go outside, drink coffee with my man. 

- rocking my baby to sleep, drinking in that baby smell, holding him, cuddling with him, letting him sleep on me. Napping with him from time to time and just generally enjoying this short baby season as much as I can in my sleep deprived state!

There's more, and there's also areas of my days and weeks that I still need to work on too. It's been a full six months - taking care of two boys under two as well as being in the middle of a house move and a change of job for Ken. I think the Lord really knew I needed to focus on these things so that He could bring me out through the other side of all of this in one piece! There's days I feel far from "rest", contentment, being present or living slow. Sometimes I'm frazzled, stressed, snappy with my kids and husband and just generally frantic. But for the most part, I see His hand at work giving me peace and calm and enjoyment in a season that has the potential to be full of stress and anxiety.

Rest in the chaos.