Thursday, 28 August 2014

Messy Beautiful Love... And some freebies :)

As you may have realised by now I am a reader. I love books - all types of books - fiction, factual, romance, thrillers, autobiographies, self help books... you get the picture!!! But without a doubt the best type of books are those which help me to grow in my faith as well as help me in a practical way. 

And today's post is about just such a book!!! 

Darlene Schacht, from Time Warp Wife is a wonderful example of a woman of God. I have been a fan of her blog for a long time and I love her honesty as she writes, and her wisdom as she shares practical tips and stories to encourage women in their marriages and their walk with God.

Well, I'm delighted to be part of the launch team for Darlene's brand new book - Messy Beautiful Love. It's a book about marriage and how messy but wonderful marriage and love actually are. I've been privileged to get a copy - and even though I will be totally honest when I write my review - I just know it's going to challenge me and it going to be amazing! I can't wait to get stuck in!! Here's a little about the book... 


"Messy Beautiful Love delivers an incredible testimony of grace that offers hope for today’s marriages and a spark for rekindling love. 
Love gets messy. 
Financial problems, sickness, aging parents, a chronically unhappy spouse . . . trials will inevitably come that threaten your marriage. No matter how long you’ve been married or how strong your relationship is, sooner or later you are going to have a mess to clean up. 
Messy Beautiful Love is about cleaning up messes God’s way, exchanging your ideas for His, and being prepared for both the best and the worst that marriage has to offer. 
When you surrender your relationship to God, then and only then will you experience the blessing of marriage as He intended. This is the blessing of obedience. 
Messy Beautiful Love is an invitation to that obedience. The cynical world says marriages don’t last, but God knows better. Tune out the world and tune in to Him. When you do that, a beautiful marriage is not only possible, it’s inevitable."


But as well as introducing you to the book, I want to let you know that if you pre-order it you actually get $50 worth of freebies :) Not only do you get the study guide to help you go through the book even more thoroughly, but you also get a bundle of 10 eBooks, a set of 31 printable prayer cards and an MP3 song to download. Trust me when I tell you that you definitely won't be disappointed. 

So why not head on over to Darlene's blog - here - and find out more about how to pre-order your book and get hold of your freebies :) 

I'm starting the book tonight so hopefully I'll have the review up very soon!!! 
Keep shining xx 

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

And back to school we go...

This morning 3 of my 4 wonderful boys went back to school. The other one goes back on Monday. Can I get a 'Hallelujah'??

As a mum you are in one of two camps around this time of year - you either are desperately sad that your kids are returning to school and you miss spending precious time with them... OR you can't wait to get them back into school to get back into routine... 

Of course this only applies to mum's who don't home-school. That's a completely different kettle of fish and I really do think you guys are saints - well either saints or totally off your rocker so I chose to go for saints!! I totally admire what you do, but I am sensible enough to know that I couldn't do it!! 

Which brings us back to school-going kids. I am in the 'can't wait for them to be back' camp - not because they've been hanging round my feet and I want rid of them, and definitely not because I have a whole list of different things which I want to do but can't because they're off school {ahem}. 

I'm glad that they have gone back into school today for 3 reasons - 

• They wanted to - yep - my kids are those weird kids who by the end of the summer can't wait to get back in to see their friends, do their sports and yes even do a bit of work! 

• They strive in routine - our summer was quite routines this year with a lot less activities but still they love the safety that being in the 'school year routine' brings them. And they love the fact that it also signals the start of the extra-curricular things they do too. 

• I get some free time again - mummy time, ministry time and time to do that to do list I haven't got!!! :) Like most mums, I'm on my own quite a lot in the summer because my hubby has been working - a little more interesting than most because he's been doing football camps, training football teams and even fitted in a trip to Lebanon but still working :) - so it's been a long summer. And as much as I love having them at home - and I do love it - it's a draining and tiring thing when it's 24/7. I am so thankful to all my family and friends who organised activities, invited us places and helped me out this summer. But now I get to do all the things have been buzzing round my head for the last 2 months!! Exciting times!! 

But as a mum - we're complicated creatures don't you know!! - I had to stop myself from tearing up as my 3 mini men walked out of the house in their new uniforms, school bags and lunch boxes, all excited and slightly scared!

And they each carry a note to their teacher for this year, introducing us - they'll know who we are soon enough anyway!! - and letting them know that they have people praying for them as they go through this school year. Because if I'm going to trust them to help me teach and mould my kids I need to pray for them. I need to give them totally over to God and trust that He will be there to help them. And I know how blessed we are to have a fantastic school and a fantastic bunch of teachers to work with. 

"Train up a child in the way he should go,
and when he is old he will not depart from it."
Proverbs 22:6

So here we are - the start of a brand new year - exciting, slightly scary and full of opportunity and potential!!! And of course every mothers dream job... 

Keep shining xx  

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Eat Pray Love - the Daniel Plan way :)

I haven't done one of these segments recently, and as I'm trying to get back into routine for the new school term starting soon, I thought I'd start with this! 

This week saw the start of a new Bible study in our house. We're looking at 'The Daniel Plan' by Rick Warren (of 'The Purpose Driven Life' fame) and I was very excited to get started. I have mentioned before about my journey to try to lose the excess 5 stone I have lying around :) and I've been neglecting it over the summer months, because I figured that planning my meals and eating healthier would be too hard with the kids off school. But eating clean whole food and being able to incorporate my faith into my healthy eating plan has always been my goal. So this week we met together to start the next part of our journey, learning how faith, food, fitness, friendship and focus are the key to a healthy balanced lifestyle. So my 'eat' comes from session #1 - our smoothies :)

I made this one - according to the directions on our ever helpful DVD - and it consists of almond milk, frozen mixed berries, banana and some baby spinach leaves. It was beautiful and definitely got us on the mood for healthy eating this coming week. And of course it's the very best thing to drink out of a Coca-Cola glass!!!

As well as the food and fitness choices that we have to make this week, Rick Warren also did a short talk on Romans chapter 8. It was fantastic and really helped me to understand and remember why being healthy is as important to my spiritual life as it is to my physical life. Its not just a physical battle, but a spiritual one. 

"So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. 
But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace."
Romans 8:6

God wants to help us and we need to give His Spirit - which is living IN US - control of our minds as well as our bodies. God really does want us to give Him EVERYTHING. Not just the big things or what we think is important. He wants all the wee things - the 'should I eat this bar of chocolate' questions as well as the 'but I'm tired and I just want to sit down first' excuses we made to get out of exercising. He wants it all. Because it's only when we give Him out all that He can truly do amazing things in our lives - in all the little bits as well as the big things! 

I truly can't wait to see Him work in this journey. I believe He can change my life, my thinking patterns and my body and really use me for His glory! 

And that brings me to my 'love' segment for this week. This journey wouldn't be possible if I didn't have people on it with me. I couldn't continue on, fight through the hard time and succeed in this without the lovely group of girls doing it with me. We've started this journey together because, ladies, we need them to encourage us and build us up when we have a down week or feel like a failure... And vice versa. 

We all start at different stages - some need to lose a few pounds, others need to lose a lot (like me!!) and some are joining in for the health benefits that a healthy clean eating plan brings. But whatever our reason, we have the best thing in common - a God who loves us and is there to help us every step of the way. It makes the foundation for a very special friendship and I am truly thankful for every one of these ladies :)

So that's my 'Eat Pray Love' for this week. What have you been loving this week? 
Keep shining xx 

Friday, 15 August 2014

Stars shining bright above you...

I mentioned in the post the other day that Ben and I visited the planetarium in the Glasgow Science Centre. I wanted to tell you a little more about my experience there because it blew me away. 

After you go in and sit down, they let your eyes get adjusted to the darkness and then show you the stars above a city - few and far between and with the yellowy orange glow from the streetlights below. They then tell you to close your eyes so they can 'transport' you to an area of dark space - where they aren't allowed artificial light of any kind - to get a better view of the stars. 

When we opened our eyes I cried. 

I was blown away by the magnitude of God's goodness and majesty. 

Really and truly - I completely teared up, and as I stared at the multitude of stars and the amazing sights of the night sky I actually had tears falling down my face. I felt so humble and so completely overwhelmed at God's creation, and even just writing this I get emotional. 

So I decided to take a wee look at some of the places where stars are mentioned in the Bible and here's what I found. 

• Obviously God created stars during the creation - the same day He created the sun and the moon. (Genesis 1:16) 
• Stars where used by God to demonstrate how many descendants Abraham was going to have in the covenant with him. In Genesis 15:5 we read -  
"Then the LORD took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up 

into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many 

descendants you will have!" 
• Stars were also used in the story of Joseph were he dreams about the sun, the moon and eleven stars bowing down to him much to the annoyance of his brothers. (Genesis 37:9)
• Stars are used to show Gods glory and power. We read this in Nehemiah 9:6 - 
“You alone are the LORD. You made the skies and the heavens and all the stars. You made the earth and the seas and everything in them. You preserve them all, and the angels of heaven worship you." 
• But the verses that really touch me and describe exactly what I felt sitting in that auditorium are these ones. Found in Psalm 8:3-4, it says -   
"When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers— the moon and the stars you set in place— what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?"

God cares for the stars - He counts them and calls them by name (Psalm 147:4), and brings them out like an army, one after another... (Isaiah 49:26). It all just works together to remind me of how powerful, loving, caring and strong our God is. Not a single star will ever go missing, because God is in control of them. 

And how much more does He love, care for and look after us. It's humbling, makes me emotional and gives me a desire to do something to show Him how much I love Him and how very thankful I am that He is in my life. 

So what can I do? Philippians 2:14 and 15 have the answer -

It's where I got my inspiration for this blog - because I desperately want to shine for Him. I'm totally useless sometimes, I get it wrong A LOT, and I fail more than I succeed when I try to put my points across, but I do it all for Him. And I'm delighted and honoured to have you along for the ride and pray that something I say might be useful to you at some stage! 

Next time you get a chance to look at the night sky - like this week when the big 'super moon' is on display - or visit a planetarium - remember how great our God really is and think about how you can shine for Him. 
Keep shining xx 

Thursday, 14 August 2014

The SBL review - part 2

It's time for the next update as we continue to tick off items on our 'Summer Bucket List'. Here are the next five completed activities - 

10. Bake - inspired by 'The Great British Bake Off' the boys made a sponge cake and some brownies - and they were all delicious!!!

18. Go to visit Nanna :)

29. Have a family game night - we love this - and this night I actually won!!! Yippee!!!!

5. Stargaze - I'm not sure this actually counts but Ben and I did go to the planetarium while we were on Glasgow :) We're hoping to get to do a little proper stargazing at the end of the summer with the rest of the boys, but in case we don't get to, I'm counting this!!!

16. Go cycling - every time we go up to Mum and Dad's house the boys go cycling. It helps that they live on a farm with a huge yard to ride around on and it definitely helps that Dad is a cycling nut - no really he is - and keeps bikes of all shapes and sizes for the to use! So this is a very easy one to fulfill but they love it so much it had to go on the list :) 

So that's 10 completed and 20 still to go.... Since we've less than two weeks left of summer we might be pushing it!!! But I'm sure this weekend will help - lots of fun things planned :) 

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Cornerstone... my hope


My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly trust in Jesus name

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly trust in Jesus name

Christ alone; cornerstone
Weak made strong; in the Saviour's love
Through the storm, He is Lord
Lord of all

When Darkness seems to hide His face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil
My anchor holds within the veil

Christ alone; cornerstone
Weak made strong; in the Saviour's love
Through the storm, He is Lord
Lord of all
He is Lord
Lord of all

Christ alone
Christ alone; cornerstone
Weak made strong; in the Saviour's love
Through the storm, He is Lord
Lord of all

Christ alone; cornerstone
Weak made strong; in the Saviour's love
Through the storm, He is Lord
Lord of all

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless stand before the throne.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014


This morning I woke up to the news that Robin William had supposedly taken his own life after battling depression. Even though I'm an emotional person (understatement of the year!) I don't usually make a habit of crying over people I've never met. But this morning broke my heart.

I cried for his family, for his fans and mostly for the horrible illness that overwhelmed him and made him do something so drastic. 

So, instead of the post I was going to share today I'm going to share something very close to my heart. 


Depression. It's a horrible illness. And one that really can hit anyone at anytime. 

The depression I have suffered from (and still do) is more post-natal depression than anything else. I got it when I was pregnant with the second and fourth of my four pregnancies and it was awful. 

It hit me firstly in the form of panic attacks - not wanting to go anywhere where I knew a lot of people who would be asking me how I was. This meant I couldn't even walk into church without hyperventilating and completely panicking. 

It was horrible. Such a massive part of my life and I couldn't even walk in the door. I came out in a cold sweat, was on an emotional tightrope - praying that NOONE would look at me, talk to me or dear forbid, touch me... If they did I'd just explode. Tears galore, hyperventilating and a 'please get me out of here' plea to my hubby. 

It was a dark time. I couldn't go out, I couldn't have anyone come to visit me and I couldn't enjoy my life. At home I wasn't on top of anything. The housework didn't get done, the laundry didn't done and the meals were basic at best. 

The one big blessing was that it has effected my relationship with my kids. Never. And from talking to other mums with PND who couldn't even lift their baby, I am so thankful to God for that. 

The first time this hit me was really dark - really dark. I can't even explain in words how dark. Suffocating panic. Inability to do anything. I couldn't focus, couldn't be productive, and couldn't get myself out of this hole. 

And it is just like being stuck in a hole. You can see a light where you should be able climb out but you can't even motivate yourself to try. It's a suffocating place - you really can feel as if the walls are closing in and as if life is no longer under your control. 

I was on tablets for years and have had to restart taking them so many times in the last 10 years that the doctor told me I should just accept that I probably need to be on them for the rest of my life. 

Yet through it all God was with me - the whole time - for the whole journey. There are bad bad bits that are too personal to share but I know that God have me specific verses at specific times and I couldn't have gotten through it without him. I don't think I would be here today or be able to even talk about this if it hadn't been for His voice leading me in the midst of the darkness. Really. Read this paragraph again and I hope you will really 'get' how much I've had to rely on God. I can't thank Him enough. 

And even though I've come through the worst of it, there are some lasting consequences. I struggle to go to church. I love my church and the people there, but I struggle to go regularly. I go once then can't go for 4 or 5 weeks. It's a mental struggle and I'm sorry to say that the devil wins far more than I want him to. I try and fail. But I'm going to keep trying and keep praying and keep trusting God that it will get easier. 

Like an alcoholic I know that this will probably be something that can take hold of me at any time throughout my life, but I thank and praise God that I know I don't have to do it alone. 

Please - if you feel down AT ALL - whether it's just a bad day or something that's bugging you - you NEED to talk to someone. It's unbelievable how many people we see every day that are going through horrible times but just don't tell anyone. We need to be more honest with each other and actually listen to each other when we talk. 

Praying for you all.
Keep shining xx 

Saturday, 9 August 2014

A trip to Glasgow :)

On Sunday night I took my eldest on his special mummy-son trip to Glasgow to watch some of he hockey at the Commonwealth Games. He was given this special treat as a reward for two things - firstly for actually sitting his AQE - the exams they do over here on order to see what school they get to go to the next year - and secondly because begotten highest mark in his whole school - go Ben!!! This was a great achievement so we told him that he could pick a special outing. 

He wanted to go to Scotland - he's kinda obsessed with it! - and he loves hockey - he's played for a couple of years - so when we spotted tickets for the men's hockey matches at the Commonwealth Games we thought that would be perfect! 

So we got our bags packed and set off for the plane to Glasgow... 

We were lucky enough to be able to stay with family - hubby's aunt and uncle who are a wonderful and incredibly fun couple -  so they picked us up and generally lifted and laid us the whole time. We were truly spoilt rotten!!! 

We started our day being woken by the beautiful singing of Loch Lomond as our uncle walked up and down his stairs (he said he'd wake us so not to set an alarm!!). It was a lovely way to wake up - much better than any alarm I know!! We then started our activities by watching two hockey matches -  

Australia v South Africa

which Australia won 6-0...

and Scotland v Wales 

which Scotland won 4-3 :)) We were extremely happy at this one and it was so exciting being in the middle of a Scottish crowd for it!

And then we headed to the Glasgow Science Centre where this happened... 

And this happened...

We thoroughly enjoyed going round it and we ended the day in the planetarium area, before back by train. 

The following day - after being woken by the lovely tones of the piano - we spent the day in Stirling Castle. It's a lovely place and well worth a visit if you are ever in the area. We got to see around the castle and hear the story of the Unicorn Tapestries (but that's another post!) and we even got to dress up as a court jester, a prisoner and a king... 

Before heading back to the airport and enjoying the various games fun!!!

Doesn't he look handsome!!! 

I am very like my eldest son in temperament so it was a really lovely treat to have a special weekend away without any arguments or 'discussions'! It was a wonderful two days and I'm so glad we decided to go. 

My next son does his AQE this year... so roll on next summer for his mummy-son trip!!! It definitely is a privilege that I get to share life with my four wonderful boys. 

What have you been up to this summer? Any highlights you'd like to share with us? 

Keep shining xx 

Monday, 4 August 2014

Busy busy busy...

I told you in a post a couple of weeks ago that we wanted to make the most of this summer, helping the boys to enjoy their break from school and to enjoy and understand the meaning of family time. 

Ha! Things don't always go to plan - and these last two weeks are testament to that! I have had the busiest two weeks ever and I'm sitting here totally exhausted instead of ready to embrace another holiday week! 

Two weeks ago we left for our trip to Fivemiletown, and I've already shared a bit about that with you. It was fantastic week - full of fun, food, fellowship and very busy busy busy!! 

And then we hit this week... 

On Sunday night I took my eldest on his special mummy-son trip to Glasgow to watch some of he hockey at the Commonwealth Games (more about this tomorrow). We stayed with my hubby's aunt and uncle just outside Glasgow and had a fantastic two days away! 

And then since we came back we've been busy little bees! I've had coffees with four different wonderful ladies in four days... and enjoyed time at the beach, movie time with my boys and a weekend of rain rain rain! Not great for outside-loving kids who were banned from the back garden as it looks a bit like a mudslide!! 

All in all I'm wrecked. I haven't had time to breathe, to stop and smell the flowers or even to go visit my lovely mum and sisters. All the things I've done have been wonderful - don't get me wrong - and I've loved every second of the last two weeks, but I feel drained and I'm very ready for a quieter week in the house! 

Embracing the summer really doesn't mean you have to do it all and pack everything into the 56 days we're off. Sometimes it means taking time out to just sit at home and rest as your son does one of his practice papers, or enjoy the simple things like hanging out a wash and letting the wind calm your mind. 

And of course when we are able to be still we get to enjoy the peace and rest of His Word too, having time to really meditate and read slowly so you can take it all in. I'm looking forward to a bit more of my slow but steady study of Job this week :)

No doubt next week will return to the normal summer organised-chaos, and I'll love every second of it, but for now, I'm happy to be having a quieter week that I can enjoy and rest in. It also gives me time to get some posts written so hopefully you'll enjoy it too!! 

Hope you are all enjoying your summer. 
Keep shining xx