So things have been a little quiet on this blog for a while because I’ve been working on turning it into a podcast! Even though this is maybe a bit of a Lockdown 2020 cliche(?!), I’ve really enjoyed taking the time to explore lots of the topics from my blog and unpacking them in different ways.
The ‘I Should Probably Change’ podcast is for anyone who wants to wrestle with what it looks like to follow Jesus in the everyday moments, the mundane moments, the moments that actually make up our lives.
My hope is that as you listen along you will be encouraged to keep walking in Jesus’ footsteps and challenged to make some practical changes.
You can find the podcast anywhere you get them – enjoy!
Hello again! Welcome back if you’ve done one of my Bible Writing Plans before and it’s great to see you if this is your first time joining us.
I love writing out parts of the Bible, I wrote a blog about why I do it every day here.
This new writing plan is aimed at helping us prepare for Pentecost, to think through who the Holy Spirit is and what He does. The plan lasts the 10 days running up to Pentecost Sunday, the day we celebrate the birth of the church, the day the Holy Spirit came powerfully on the disciples.
This new practice doesn’t have to be perfect, or correct, you don’t need a special notebook and the results don’t have to look pretty.
Grab a Bible (any translation will do) find the passage and copy it out. This practice can grow at much at you like – you could start by saying the short prayer ‘Speak Lord, your servant is listening’. You could highlight a few words that stand out to you that day, ask the question ‘what does this show me about the Holy Spirit?’ and maybe finish by thanking God for His Word. There’s no blue-print – be creative!
I don’t know about you but I know I can come to the Bible with a ‘me, me, me’ attitude.
“What’s the Bible going to help me understand about myself?”
“Is there a verse that can speak into the situation I’m in?”
“I need encouragement, God help!”
Of course none of this is wrong (I come to the Bible in these states frequently!) but we live in a ‘me-centric’ world. I’m aware that I curate a version of myself on social media, the Netflix homepage is tailored just for me, advertising tells me to ‘treat yo’self’.
Lent is the opposite of this. Traditionally a period of preparation before believers were baptised on Easter day, Lent reflects Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness – 40 days. All over the world people still observe Lent as a time to focus on Jesus’ journey to the cross. Many choose to give up certain pleasures so that they can embrace suffering and focus their hearts and minds.
This Bible Writing Plan is designed to help us lift our eyes from our own circumstances and focus on who God says He is. My hope is these verses will help us grow our vision of God, rather than letting the circumstances of life cloud our view of Him. We’ll start with what God says about himself and as we draw towards Easter Sunday we’ll move towards Jesus’ own words.
If you joined us during Advent then welcome back, if you are giving this a go for the first time, have a read of this blog which will explain why I’ve found writing the Bible to be so life-changing…
Each of these passages should only take a few minutes to write. It doesn’t have to be perfect, or correct, you don’t need a special notebook and the results don’t have to look pretty. Grab a Bible (any translation will do) find the passage and copy it out. Afterwards take a moment to reflect on what truth you can see about who God is.
I’ll be posting videos on Instagram stories throughout Lent to share what I’m learning. If you are giving up social media for Lent (well done you!) then you can print the pdf and enjoy your new practice free from all distractions!
Ever opened your Bible and thought ‘where do I start?’ – Me too.
I have a confession to make, I have always struggled to be consistent in my Bible reading. I’ve started more reading plans then I care to admit – especially in January! As I speak to friends I realise that I’m very much not alone here.
Writing the Word This year after hearing Lara Casey speak about the power of ‘Writing the Word’ I decided to give writing the Bible a go. I wish that someone had introduced me to the idea sooner.
We know that there are so many benefits to writing by hand (there’s a great summary on this blog). You retain information more, it engages your brain in a more active, full way and it often sparks creativity.
It’s changing me I can tell you writing the Bible is powerful stuff. After the first week of writing I realised that I had never written out a chunk of the Bible before. I’ve written the odd verse but mostly I copy and paste, I don’t even need to type it out these days.
There’s something about seeing God’s word written in our own hand that can speak more powerfully to us. And I’ve kept doing it! While Bible reading notes have been discarded, ‘Bible in a year’ plans abandoned, this practice has stuck. I’m reading and writing the Bible every day, not because I’m super holy or disciplined but simply because I’m doing something simple. And it’s changing me.
This experience got me thinking ‘what if this could be the kick start someone else needs?’. Enter the snappy titled ‘Advent Bible Writing Plan’.
Advent Advent is a time of preparation. Over hundreds of years Christians have used this season to reflect on God’s gift to the world and look forward to the future when Jesus will restore everything. Much like Mary we find ourselves in a period of longing for the promises of God to come into our reality.
But during Advent life can take over – we have presents to wrap, cards to write, events to go to, parties to plan, food to prepare, all the shopping, shopping, shopping…
How about this year we commit to taking just 5 minutes a day to pause in the busyness and wait?
The Writing Plan Click here to download the pdf. Each of these passages should only take a few minutes to write. I’ve chosen passages that speak to us about waiting, preparing and God’s ultimate faithfulness.
It doesn’t have to be perfect, or correct, you don’t need a special notebook and the results don’t have to look pretty. You can even fit it in while munching on your advent calendar chocolate. Grab a Bible (any translation will do) find the passage and copy it out. This practice can grow at much at you like – you could start by saying the short prayer ‘Speak Lord, your servant is listening’, or you could highlight a few words that stand out to you that day. There’s no blue-print – be creative!
Two years ago I spent every night feeding my ginormous one year old every hour (he for sure didn’t need the milk!). Life was tough, I was so sleep deprived I don’t know how I made it into work, let alone functioned. In those days the idea of ever setting an alarm to wake me before the screams of my child seemed madness. And it would have been.
I start this blog there, to say there is a season for everything.
If you are waking to babies in the night or suffering with chronic illness this may not be the season for waking early. This blog is not a guilt trip for you amazing people who long for health restoring sleep. No, this blog is not for you, take a big cup of grace and love and stop reading! This blog is for the rest of us. Those who maybe need a kick up the bum to make a change, to push through a little bit of pain and to set that alarm a little bit earlier.
My ideal day
When someone asks you ‘what’s your ideal day look like?’ what do you say? My answer would definitely include, being quiet, reading, exercising (though not the sweaty kind!) and taking time to breathe, to think, to process my own thoughts. Around 18 months ago I realised that these things made up zero time in my day. What with work, time with my husband, kids, friends, church, cooking, washing (so much laundry!), cleaning, the list could go on, the things that I knew would be especially life giving for me got pushed to the side. I would try and exercise in the evenings but I often had things to do or lacked motivation, I fell asleep reading every night and rarely had a quiet moment with my own thoughts.
A simple calculation
I realised that if I really valued those things the only regular part of my day that I had control over was my mornings. I wrote down my ideal early morning routine and calculated that it would take me 45 minutes to an hour. At first I was horrified. Surely I wasn’t considering giving up an hours sleep when my children were also asleep? That sleep had been a long time coming, it felt crazy to give it up! But I decided to give it a go. When my alarm went off the first morning I wanted to cry. The first week was hard. But a year and a half later I’ve hardly missed a morning (and when I do I suffer for it!) and I’m totally converted to the value of getting up early.
Here’s what I’ve learnt.
I’m a nicer person. I wake up ‘for’ my kids, not ‘to’ them. When I see them I feel ready to be their mum rather than resentful they are dragging me away from my duvet. This has been really wonderful. I actually smile when I see my kids! This was not the case in the past and even thinking about that makes me sad. It’s so great to know that I’ve given time to myself so now I’m ready to give time to them.
How else would I regularly exercise? It’s the only way I’m regular with exercise. Early morning is really the only predictable part of my day, which means I’m way less likely to have an excuse (or reason) to avoid working out.
Mental Health Boost. Having time to still by myself, to write and think has helped me start each day which much more positively. Being quiet and taking time to breathe made me realise I spend a lot of time holding my breath (anyone else guilty of this?!), using reading, prayer and meditation each morning has helped me carve out moments of calm to rest my all to frantic brain.
I set the agenda for how I feel. By not reaching for my phone and instead doing things that encourage me, I’m choosing to stop other voices influencing how I feel right at the beginning of the day. It’s so important to stop a social media or news app from setting the tone for my day.
Start small and build up. I didn’t begin with everything I do now. I started by simply getting up a few minutes early and writing 10 things I was thankful for, that was it. I slowly added to that and got up earlier to create the routine I wanted.
Preparation is everything. I put my Pilates mat out every night, along with my notebook and a bottle of water. It’s a small thing but it means I go to bed having set my intention for the following morning.
Grace, grace, grace. Sometimes the kids wake up early, sometimes I miss my alarm, sometimes I’ve had a terrible night’s sleep. I give myself grace, fit in what I can and I don’t allow one bad day to write off the whole week. I set my alarm for 5.20am and try again tomorrow.
There’s no perfect morning routine but I think a simple plan to, Move your body, still you mind, encourage your heart is a good place to start. Here’s what my mornings look like.
Thankfulness – Wake up and write my gratitude journal, I use the 6 minute diary morning and night.
Water – I was surprised at the difference downing a glass of water makes!
Pilates – 10-35 minute workout, I use The Balanced Life and love that there’s plenty of breathing and stillness built in (also a fair bit of lying down!
Bible – I write a passage of the Bible out each morning, it takes a few moments but is changing my life.
Prayer Journal – I write my prayers, I just get too distracted if I try to sit still and think them. I love giving my day over to God right at the beginning of it.
Stillness – I use the Calm app to have 10 minutes of stillness, sometimes this is totally silent, sometimes a led meditation. I use this time to think about the day ahead.
It’s not that tidy!
I know this sounds like I have it all together but the honest truth is that this is my morning at it’s best! Some days I have a child climbing on my while I’m exercising. More often than not the word ‘snack!!’ is being shouted at me repeatedly while I try to read my Bible.
And that’s ok.
Yes my mornings get disturbed fairly often but I actually think it’s great that the kids see their Mum prioritising those things, they know this is ‘Mummy’s quiet time’ and, though they are working on the ‘quiet’ bit, I know they are soaking up these moments.
Hopefully it won’t take them until they are in their thirties to realise they are worth the time, they are worth the investment, that looking after themselves is sometimes the best way to look after others.
Back in 2014 in a time before Boris and Trump were best mates I started this blog as a way of recording the slow, small changes I was making to live a more sustainable life. The first change I made was my shampoo and now nearly 5 years later I thought I’d revisit the topic since it’s still the one I get the most questions about.
Reasons for swapping There are several ‘ethical/sustainable’ issues that might drive a change when it comes to haircare but let’s boil it down to three, People, Plastics and Product.
People People matter. My whole ethical story began when a friend asked me this question; ‘how do your choices oppress others?’. That question has made me think much more about how the things I buy are made and who makes them. When it comes to hair-care, choosing products that use ingredients that are bought for a fair price, made for a fair price and help to liberate people and communities is important. Buying locally-made products is also great as independent makers are likely to know more about where their ingredients come from. It’s great to be plastic free but so important to look behind the cute paper packaging to see who’s making it and how they are being treated.
Plastics There’s lots of talk about plastic so I won’t add to the noise. The world is dying in single-use plastic and we can do something about that. In the area of hair-care reducing plastic has become much easier. When I started my search 5 years ago Lush were the only place offline that I could buy a shampoo bar locally, now the choices are endless, not to mention the brilliant zero-waste stores popping up.
Product Recently I’ve started switching all my body, hair and cleaning products to toxin free ones. The main thing I’ve focused on is removing synthetic fragrance. On most shampoos and conditioners you’ll see the words ‘perfume’ or ‘fragrance’. This is a placeholder for a whole load of different chemicals which we know very little about. I decided that I wanted to know exactly what I was putting on my skin so now I opt for products which use essential oils for scent. I was guided through this process by reading the Clean Mama book and I’ve already noticed that my hands which are usually dry and sore are totally clear, yippee!
You can decide that all the above issues matter to you or maybe only a couple. I wanted to share the things that shape my decisions as they are way more important than sharing the actually products that end up in my bathroom.
It’s Personal Before I move on and give you the low-down on my favourites I want to add another ‘P’ – it’s Personal. Your hair is yours and what works for me probably won’t work for you. The condition, colour, texture and style of your hair will affect how different products work, not to mention the kind of water in your area. Stick at it, the first shampoo you use probably won’t be the last, have fun and experiment, use a bar up and then try another one. Most people experience a detox when they switch, there’s various tips online with how to get through this but it does get better and hopefully you’ll come to love your new hair and products.
My current favourites
Faith in Nature refill – our local zero-waste shop sells refills of shampoo and conditioner. This is an awesome option if you don’t fancy going down the bar route.
Lush – honey I washed the kids – smells great, lathers up due to it including SLS which many shampoo bars don’t. SLS is the chemical that makes things lather, there’s questions about how good it is for you (it is quite drying) but Lush give a great explanation about it here. Due to the SLS this is a great bar for someone who’s trying a non-liquid for the first time because you lather it in your hand and then it acts just like ‘normal’ shampoo. One bar is the equivalent of three bottles of shampoo.
Beauty Kubes – Hands down my favourite haircare find. A little cube that you crush, add a few drops of water to and then lather. It smells incredible and my hair feels so soft afterwards. They look pricey at first glance but since I now only wash my hair twice a week (another perk of switching to natural products) a box of 27 can last me up to 3 months.
Conchus bars and hair-rinse – I’m in love with this hair rinse, I spray it on after shampooing, leave for a couple of minutes and then wash off. Here’s the Conchus explanation;
‘Naturally hair has a slightly acidic pH, and shampoo bars are naturally slightly alkaline in pH (nothing to be concerned about). A hair rinse will help to balance the pH of your hair, and keep it happy in harmony.
It will also prevent the waxy soap film, that can happen particularly in hard water areas. This waxy feeling is often when people give up on shampoo bars, but a hair rinse is an absolute game-changer for using them, and it replaces the ‘conditioner’ in your hair care routine.’
Sheffield Skincare conditioner – since the heat wave my hair has needed a bit of extra moisture and this bar is lovely and huge bonus to be able to support a local business at the same time.
Hope this has been helpful and encouraged you to have some fun finding some great alternatives to your supermarket favourites 🙂 Would love to hear what other people have enjoyed using.
Nine months ago I was part of a leadership team. I had responsibilities, people looking up to me, younger people to mentor and a platform from which to, very visually and audibly, lead others. I never questioned once whether I was a leader. Nine months later and I don’t do any of these things in an official capacity, I don’t have a job title and on my recent mortgage application I swallowed hard as I saw the words ‘unemployed’.
Last year I decided to stop working outside of our home, partly to enable my husband to grow his business and partly to support our family life more. I’m aware that I’m privileged in even saying this, so many people would love to quit their jobs, this truth is not lost on me, not one bit.
The months that have followed have been surprising, challenging, joyful and hard. Of course the biggest question in my mind has been ‘who am I now?’.
I was born in 1985 which means I just sneaked into the millennial generation. Growing up there was never any assumptions put on my generation that once we had children work would come to an end. Those before us fought many battles which meant it was not only normal, but expected, that you would be a working mum. I forget the number of people who asked me ‘when are you going back to work?’ whilst I was on maternity leave, a question I’m pretty sure our parents generation weren’t asked so easily.
While there are many amazing things about this (I will champion working mums until I’m blue in the face and I myself will soon be working ‘officially’ with my husband) I worry that we have been sold one picture of how to do life. The ‘do it all’ and ‘be it all’ messages thrown at mothers is exhausting! It’s exhausting for working mums, but for those who choose to stay at home it suggests that they are somehow ‘less than’.
There are a multitude of reasons a woman might decide not to go back to work; finances, child care costs, opportunities, health, personal conviction or heck, maybe they actually enjoy it! No matter the reason I’ve spoken to countless women who have chosen to leave positions in the workplace which gave them power, authority and leadership clout and now find themselves anchor-less. What’s more the idea of an ‘earth mother’ type who stays at home with her kids because she loves it 100% of the time is both untrue and deeply unhelpful for most women who find themselves in that place.
We need to redefine the role of motherhood for a generation which is in danger of being sold a lie that it is merely another tick on the ‘have it all, be it all list’.
Motherhood (I know this is true for fathers, but hey, speak to what you know and all that!) is the most powerful leadership role I will ever have. My children are constantly looking to me for the leadership they need. They are watching me. Goodness, they are turning into me in ways that I’m not truly comfortable with!
Raising children who are kind and loving, who have generous spirits and bravery in the face of challenge – that is a worthwhile and worthy endeavour. Of course working mum’s can absolutely do this too but today I’m speaking to the mum who has given up a place at the boardroom for a place at the craft table. I’m speaking to the mum who thrived on performance reviews and now feels no one sees her efforts anymore. I’m speaking to the mum who thinks ‘is this it?’ more than once a day. I’m speaking to myself.
I’ve addressed rooms packed with people, do they remember most of what I’ve said? Probably not. What I do know is that there are currently two pairs of eyes who follow my every move. They see how I treat people, they listen to my tone, they watch how I love their Dad, they take it all in. I want to be the kind of leader in my home that I would want to be in the workplace. One who leads with integrity, kindness, joy and hope. One who inspires, lifts up and encourages.
Am I totally fulfilled in my role as a mother? Of course not, no one role will ever totally fulfil me, but can I change how I view my role as a mother? I really believe I can and I should. Motherhood is not a break from a ‘real job’ or from leading. In fact the more I talk to other parents I’m convinced that for those of us who find ourselves with the gift of children to raise, it can be the most real, important and life-changing leadership role we will ever have the privilege of being given.
I love how Lara Casey puts it her book ‘Cultivate’;
“The greatest achievement I make to the Kingdom of God may not be something I do but someone I raise”.
This is a truth that I know I need to sink deep into my heart today.
Honestly? For all my talk of making changes, switching to natural deodorant was one change I’d been avoiding for years! Firstly, it had taken me most of my adult life to find a deodorant I liked so I was very reluctant to make any change. Secondly I hadn’t really considered what I was putting on (and therefore into) my skin. The options seemed daunting and I really didn’t want to end up smelling weird!
My reasons in the end were twofold, I saw it as a simple way to reduce a little plastic and more importantly a way to remove some ingredients I just wasn’t happy about using.
A wake up call
We all know that our skin is our biggest organ but I know I certainly hadn’t thought too deeply about what I put on it. Then one day I started wondering ‘how come my deodorant is so effective?’. ‘Surely there had to be something pretty powerful in it to stop the sweat?!’. For the first time I actually read the ingredients, I was surprised to find aluminium listed. I started researching and discovered that aluminium is one ingredient (along with others) used in antiperspirants to block the sweat glands. I discovered that the nice smell was all synthetic and hidden in the words ‘fragrance’ or ‘perfume’ were all sorts of unknown extras. This sounded like something I was keen to cut out and so embarked on my first deodorant detox.
I used two different deodorants from Kutis and Pit Putty. Kutis is a stick so a more traditional way to put on deodorant and I found this useful when I was in a rush. To my own surprise I absolutely loved Pit Putty. I wasn’t sure how I’d get on with a product you had to apply directly with your hands but it smells lovely and is so moisturising it didn’t bother me at all.
Week one – Better than expected, I liked the smell and feel of the natural deodorants and felt slightly smug at how easy this change had been!
Week two – Definitely felt more sweaty, I’ve been using deodorant and specifically antiperspirants since I was a teenager so this was a slightly disconcerting feeling.
Week three – All my smugness went out of the window. This was not a pretty week, I felt sweaty, stinky and nearly gave up. The smell was the worst! Turns out my blocked sweat glands had some readjusting to do after 20 years of not functioning properly. This was the point I nearly threw the towel in and now I totally understand why people give up at this point, it was grim.
Week four – Breakthrough! Suddenly is all got better, lots better. I could only smell the deodorant and my tired armpits breathed a sigh of relief!
This wasn’t the easiest change I’ve embarked on, I was very close to giving up mid-way through week three but I’m so glad I persisted and I now feel much more confident and informed about the choices I’m making.
Anyone else done their own ‘deodorant detox’? Would love to hear how you got on?
Ever had the sneaking suspicion that you are WAY too attached to your phone?! At the beginning of the summer I decided that drastic action was needed to curb my phone use and to create more undistracted space in my life. I wrote a little blog about my ‘phone box’ and the response was lovely. Lots of people took up the same challenge and I’ve been asked many times how the summer went, so here’s an update.
A new home Firstly my ‘phone home’ got a serious upgrade! My husband re-purposed my Dad’s old wooden index card box to be our phones new home. He even fitted a little charging station which is super!
In-house accountability My daughter was very diligent in her responsibilities. Putting my phone in it’s home and saying ‘are you on your phone’ when she clocked I’d sneaked it out. Having someone to keep me on the straight and narrow was really helpful, plus, you know, no-one wants to be told off by their kids!
Things I did instead of befriending my phone
Got on the floor and played. I read books, did drawing, I was all there.
Actually listened to my children. My phone was constantly pulling me out of my present moment. I was also missing things my kids said, precious, sweet, funny moments because I’d got sucked into so ‘very important’ task on my phone.
Watched lots of Disney films! Rather than them being background noise I saw them through my kids eyes, I also finally understand the plot in Tangled!
Napped. I rested with my eyes shut. I’ve realised phones and rest rarely, if ever, go together.
Did I slip up?
Oh yes! There were (and are) days when children wake up in the night, kick off in the day, and I’m tired and want to sit down and switch off for a bit. Two days ago I was sat on the sofa looking at my phone and my daughter snuggled up to me. After a couple of moments she said ‘I just want to be with you’. ‘I am with you darling’ I replied. ‘No you’re not, you are on your phone’. I’m still learning!
Will I continue?
Yes! Here’s the things we are taking into the rest of our post-summer life;
Keeping the phone home. I had a lot of bad habits around my phone. It was great to break those habits by simply removing the temptation altogether. Since the challenge our phones live (most of the time!) in the box when we are in the house. It is lovely!
Getting rid of nearly all notifications. I rarely need my phone to alert me to anything. I removed all but my text and call notifications and I really didn’t miss anything.
Keeping it out of the bedroom.
No phone after 10pm or before I’ve finished my morning routine. It’s helped my sleep massively, on days I don’t do this I really notice that my brain stays wired for too long at bedtime. When I succeed in starting the day without my phone I begin the day present and paying attention to how I’m feeling before I get influenced my whatever news my phone will bring me.
One of the big motivations for sorting out my phone habits is that I want to set good examples. I’m determined we set family expectations about what place technology has in our home. That even though we use it and love it, it shouldn’t take the place of real connection and relationship. I know this is a battle for me but with the long game in sight I hope this is one change that’s here to stay.
It’s my camera, I listen to music, track my runs, stay connected to the people I love, get inspired and do my weekly shop (not inspiring!).
It’s also really hard to put down, distracts me most of the time, and is a rabbit hole for which I can wonder for hours. If I’m honest I know that the more time I spend on my phone the less happy I become. It effects my sleep and I battle with staying content with my own life (especially when my feed is full of idyllic beach holidays).
Anyone else feel like that?
We know we’re kind-of addicted, we know that it’s something we should probably address but somehow we manage to avoid actually doing anything!
Here’s a selection of the excuses I make to justify my phone use;
I need it for work.
What if I miss an important message?
Someone might have a child and they’ll be 5 before I know they exist!
How will I wake up without a phone alarm?!
The real truth is that I am in a constant state of distraction. And what’s worse is when I reach for my phone I give my family unspoken permission to disconnect and disengage too.
Trying and failing I’ve tried various things from tracking my phone use – deleting apps, stopping ALL notifications, leaving my phone downstairs – but whatever I do my phone use slowly creeps up and up and up.
But I don’t want this to be normal. It’s time to bring in the big guns.
Enter my 5 year old daughter. If you need accountability I would recommend finding a small person and asking them to keep you on the straight and narrow, they transform into small army generals/ tiny dictators and they take no prisoners!
So we had a chat about how I wanted to use my phone less and sadly she agreed (this broke my heart). I told her I was really serious and we decided we would make a ‘Phone Home’ for my phone. My husband coined the term ‘Phone Coffin’ but I’m just not sure it has the same ring to it!
My daughter has decided that my phone will live in the box from when we get home after school to when she goes to bed. However she did write a note which says the only exception is that I can use my phone for adding things to my online shopping order, I think she’s worried I’ll start forgetting she needs five cereal options available for breakfast!
And so here we are, the box is made and I hope my phone will happily live in it for the majority of our summer. I know I’ll probably fail but then my conscience and my not-so-small blonde ‘phone monitor’ will keep me on the straight and narrow.
Wish me luck!
If you want to get inspired for your own hands free summer, I’d recommend getting your hands on the book Hands Free Mama, it will change things!