What to say when you don’t exactly know what to say …

November 11th, the day where we remember the people who’ve served and given their lives for our freedom.

And every year I feel stuck not knowing what to say that will be of any use or do any justice to the day and the families who have lost loved ones and, as such, it’s so tempting to say or do nothing.

My dad served in the Falklands War as part of the Royal Navy when I was four and while I have no memory of that time, I can see ways it has shaped me into the person I am today.

It feels wrong to just brush over today, to write about something else entirely, to pretend today is just another day.

For my children it really is just another day of course.

They see the poppies, know the story of what today is about, and my eldest sang in a special Remembrance concert, but in practical terms, the day means so little to them.

And for that I can only be thankful.

I’m thankful that my children have grown up in peace with no concept of what it is to have a family member far away.

I’m thankful that they have their granddad in their life because he didn’t die on that ship.

I’m thankful for all their aunties and uncles who were born, post-1982. It’s weird to think how different life would be if I wasn’t the eldest of 6.

I’m thankful that they have the freedom to go from day to day without fear or worry.

And maybe that’s what most of us can take from today.

It’s important to remember, to look back and learn and appreciate what others have sacrificed for us but what honour are we doing to anyone if remembering doesn’t also lead us to thankfulness?

And so today, in the midst of whatever today looks like for you, I’d encourage you to take a moment to stop and say thank you (whether that be to another person or to God or just as a whisper in your heart.)

We don’t always know what to say but saying nothing isn’t really an option so, in lieu of knowing, here’s to saying and being thankful.

 

Read this if you’ve been waiting until you’re ready.

We’ve all been there.

Wanting to have every piece in place, every ‘t’ crossed and ‘i’ dotted. No mistakes, broken links or overlooked something.

That’s admirable and wonderful and totally understandable.

But sometimes you have to decide that it’s time and just go for it!

Imagine if Moses had waited until he was ready before going to talk to Pharaoh.

What if Joseph had decided he couldn’t do his thing until he was in a better position (like, not in prison!)

Suppose Mary had said, “I’m still just a child myself. I can’t have a kid!”

There are times when waiting and praying and resting and being still are the right things to do.

There are times when stumbling forward and just doing something is foolish.

But there comes a time when God says go. Do it. Move already!

Us faith folk can get ourselves into a right old pickle, trying to figure out if it’s the right time or not. We can’t see the big picture and yet we believe in a God who does, and really try to have all the pieces in place so that our stuff can line up with his stuff.

And that’s fine and admirable but you know what? It also causes us to spend a lot less time doing.

What if we woke up each morning and said, “hiya God. Fab new day. What can we do today?” and then, because most of us don’t have him on speed dial or iMessage, we do the very next best thing and move forward, one step at a time, trying stuff and seeing what happens?

Because sometimes we know what we should be doing next and we just don’t do it.

Sometimes we can have a thing listed as “number 1 priority for the week” and yet still get all the way to Friday and find we’re not ready.

What if you’re never ready? What if you can’t foresee every possible scenario and you will always overlook something?

What if, sometimes, it’s about deciding that ‘done’ is better than ‘perfect’?

And no, I’m not suggesting you just throw stuff together and put it out there, typos and errors and all.

Read through stuff, sure.

But ‘done’ is better than ‘perfect’. Every time.

Are you ready? Let’s go!

This is for when you’re having one of those perfectly ordinary days.

You know the ones where it’s just the same old, same old?

Same routine. Nothing new, unexpected or exciting. Just any old day.

But what if it was extraordinary?

What if today might actually be amazing? Maybe for reasons that are totally ridiculous and nonsensical.

It’s my husband’s birthday today. He’s 39 years young and he’s already starting to worry that next year he might have a bit of a mid-life crisis.

But then it hit me … you can only have a mid-life crisis if you’re in the mid point of your life. Half way. As much left to come as has already been.

I don’t know about you but even the last 5 years has contained so much incredible stuff, to talk about 39 years – wowzas!

Sure, it might all be downhill from here but what if every single one of the next 14,235 days (and yes, I cheated and used a calculator) contained something wonderful and brilliant?

And what if you could actually help bring the sparkle that made each day fabulous?

Silly stuff. Seemingly inconsequential stuff. Delightful, wonderful stuff.

There will be days when life is hard and it seems totally impossible to bring even a glimmer of light, let alone some sparkle and shine.

But for everything else, there’s you.

And what if you being you, all sparkly and delighting in the silly small stuff you, happens to coincide with someone else’s dark day. They can’t sparkle but you help do it for them.

What kind of a difference might that make?

A pretty wonderful, fabulous difference I think πŸ™‚

So here’s to sparkling and shining, God helping us.

Until next time,
Keep smiling, sparkling and shining πŸ™‚

 

Friday? It’s time for some fun :-)

Watching “The Angels Take Manhattan” yesterday morning (it’s the half term holiday here for the children so mornings have been quite relaxed this week!) The Doctor ripped the last page from his book, telling Amy that he does that because he hates endings.

I’m sure most people do of course. If it’s the ending of something or someone wonderful, who wants to help speed that along?

Contrast that though with the celebration that is the weekend.

Every single week we celebrate the end of one week. Congratulations, you made it through. Time to slow down and chill out a little bit.

We do the same thing on a larger scale at the end of the year. I think it’s no small coincidence that the date adopted to celebrate Christmas comes when it does.

As one of my friends in New Zealand tells me, Christmas in the summer just isn’t the same.

And sure, part of that might just be because she’s from the northern hemisphere originally. She grew up with Christmas in winter and anything else just feels weird.

(Incidentally, if you’re from the southern hemisphere, born and bred, I’d love to hear your take on this. Send me an email and tell me. Thank you x)

But there is something wonderful about taking time out, slowing down and enjoying time with friends and family, right at the very end of the year.

Every culture across history had its feast and festival days. Making time for fun and celebration, along with a good dose of thankfulness, is just a part of what it means to be human.

Maybe that’s what the resting on the 7th day was really about?

God knew we’d have a tendency to rush at life and so he built in a safety valve. A day where we could just be.

My husband works shifts and as such, his ‘weekend’ often falls on a Tuesday and Wednesday but whatever day it is, we all need that breathing room.

If you’re an entrepreneur, especially if you’re an entrepreneur with small children, there’s a good chance that you use the weekend to play catch up. Maybe there’s someone else around to help with the kids at the weekend and so you’re able to throw yourself into work.

I’m not knocking that. It can be the most productive time of the week for some people.

Remember though that, whatever day of the week it falls on, you really need time this week, and every week, to step back and just be.

It’s good for your health and your relationships. It’s even good for business. But most of all, taking time to just be is what makes us human.

Take your foot off the gas a little. Read a book. Have an extra coffee over breakfast. Whatever slowing down looks like for you, our challenge for today is to remember to do it, not just nod along because it’s a great idea but we don’t have the time.

If you’re brand new to slowing down, just try it for a few minutes. You don’t have to make any big, bold declarations. Just take 5 minutes and see how that goes for you.

Go on, I dare you πŸ˜‰

 

 

What do you do with a nudge that won’t go away?

Have you ever had a thought or idea or person that’s popped in your head, seemingly out of nowhere?

And maybe you let it sit there for a little while before either deciding to do something with it or just ignore it?

I get things like that, probably on a weekly basis, and there are times when I’ve got to believe that it was God, because the thought was just so random and left of field, but other times it’s just my brain catching up.

Like last Thursday night, as I was drifting off to sleep, I suddenly remembered the form I needed to take to school for my daughter. It was due in the next day and the two of us were going to fill it in together but then I forgot all about it, until last Thursday night.

Did I remember because she was already on my mind (because she was away overnight with her school) or did I remember because God reminded me?

You know what? I don’t care.

All I know is that there have been too many times when I’ve felt compelled to write or say something and, after the event, someone has said that it’s just what they needed at just the right time.

This big old world of ours is a complicated place and I can’t begin to understand how it all works but the one thing I do know is that there is someone out there, bigger than you or I, who can see the big picture.

My dad tells the story of how, the night before he became a Christian, he had a dream. He was married to my mum and, the next day, the two of them talked about it and the rest is history.

The part I find fascinating though is that he remembers having a similar dream when he was a young boy.

Was there someone around at that time who’d ignored a nudge?

We’ll never know and, ultimately, it didn’t really matter. God did his thing and it was all groovy.

But I love the idea that God likes to give us a nudge, for the big stuff as well as the smaller stuff. What might it look like if we kept our eyes and ears open for those nudges and acted on them?

Some of it might be what others call intuition. Sometimes it might be your clever, wonderful brain helping you out. Sometimes it might be God.

But whether it be God or intuition or your clever brain, what might today look like if we actually listened to and acted on those little nudges?

God helping you of course. Doing this stuff on our own can be scary and hard going.

But I’d love for us to try πŸ™‚

 

 

Stuck and can’t do the thing you’re meant to be doing? Here’s how to level up …

I started and re-started this post something like three or four times.

Having gotten up early, especially so I could get some work done before the rest of the house woke up (it’s a half term holiday here for the children so time alone with peace and quiet is at a premium!) I was determined to use the time wisely.

But then I got stuck.

Maybe you’ve had this happen to you?

It’s like you have this duel switch inside your head or something. You want to but you don’t want to.

You’re determined, but you’re just not sure.

Paul wrote about this in the bible. He was talking within the context of right and wrong so it’s slightly different (context is sooo important don’t you think?) but the overall sentiment is the same.

He wrote, “I don’t understand what I do. I don’t do what I want to do. Instead I do what I hate to. I do what I don’t want to do.”

Hate is a strong word.

It’s not like I hate checking my email, but having determined that checking it switches me into reactive mode, I know that it’s not good for me to do it first thing.

And yet I still do it.

What’s that about?!?

What do you do when you want to do one thing, take action on one specific dream, but find yourself a little bit lost?

The way I see it, you have two choices:

You can sit there, fighting and willing yourself to do what you decided you should do but are stuck on.

Or you can find something completely different to do, something where the very next step is easy and doesn’t require too much thought or internal debate, and do that.

If the ‘something completely different’ is also something that, ultimately, takes you a step closer to something that’s important to you, double win!

The funny thing about our wonderful, clever, beautifully designed brains is that, by shifting the focus and pressure, we magically unlock the very thing we were stuck on.

Ideas flow. Next steps become clearer. Forward action suddenly becomes easy. I have no idea why it works like that. I’m just thankful that it does!

So if you’re stuck in ‘doing what I don’t want to do and not doing what I want to do’ mode, try doing something completely different and watch how your magical brain helps you to level up.

 

It’s time to really party over the small stuff. You in?

Being an entrepreneur is a funny old life.

And for the record, you don’t have to own a bricks and mortar offline business to be an entrepreneur. A friend once told me that she believed not all self-employed people are entrepreneurs. “To be an entrepreneur, you have to own actual buildings”, she said.

I say that’s rubbish! Being an entrepreneur is a state of mind. A way of operating in the world. A view point. I was an entrepreneur long before I ever owned my own business.

Most of all, I suspect it’s about having a mind that sees opportunities. Generates ideas. Imagines possibilities.

That’s why so many of us have multiple businesses or projects. It’s impossible for us to have just one idea and stick to that.

Between you and I, it drives my husband potty.

“Why can’t you just pick one thing and stick to it?”

And I can, sort of.

But there always seems to be this flux between ‘this is the most wonderful thing I ever dreamed up’ and ‘this is a total pile of rubbish. I can’t believe I even thought this was possible!’

It’s just the nature of the beast and instead of fighting it, I’ve learned to acknowledge it and make no business or life changing decisions on the ‘this is total poop!’ days.

TITP days, as they shall from hence forth be known, require careful handling, kindness, lots of cups of tea and either ‘Blink’ or ‘The day of the astronaut’ (depending on where I am in my current re-run fest.)

Work can be done on TITP days but it needs to be the kind of work that doesn’t require too much thinking. Self-analysis is definitely not recommended on TITP days! πŸ˜‰

But do you know what the best medicine is for those days?

Taking time to celebrate the small wins.

Did you just roll your eyes? Shame on you! πŸ˜‰

I know, you’ve heard it before. The advice to keep a swipe file of nice emails and kind comments is not new. But did you ever actually do it?

My friend Stacy and I were chatting about this a couple of days ago. I’d had an email that had totally made my day. She had too. (And no, we didn’t just send each other an email!)

“How lucky are we that we get to have emails like this? We get to do stuff that actually has the potential to make a difference to someone else.”

I agreed with her of course.

But it’s so easy to negate that stuff. To get drowned by the TITP days. To allow ourselves to forget. Out of sight, out of mind, remember?

It’s time to start celebrating the small stuff, delighting over the little wins and really appreciating what a wonderful opportunity is in front of us.

You are brilliant and every time you step into the world, you have the choice to make it a more wonderful place.

You’re out there, shining your little light, never giving up, keeping on keeping on. And for that, you need to give yourself a standing ovation from time to time.

God delights in the little stuff. Jesus said every hair on your head is accounted for (which in my dad’s case wouldn’t take too long but it’s ok, he loves the attention) so maybe it’s time for us to follow God’s lead and start partying with the small stuff too.

Are you game? It’s easy, all you have to do is start.

 

 

What if we had a God who was interested in the tiny stuff?

I can guess what you might be thinking … “we do!”

Or if today you’re feeling a little bit meh about it all, it might be more of a “yeah right” kind of thought.

Maybe it’s just me but I can know stuff logically, academically, in my head, but some days I just don’t feel it.

Some days, God feels really far away and sure, I remember the trite expression reeled off at church: “if God feels far away, who’s moved?” and that maybe sometimes helps, a little bit.

But some days I really just need a big, bold ‘in your face’ reminder.

Cloud porn often does it for me. The way the sun and the clouds play and turn the whole sky orangey pink? I imagine God up there with a great big paint brush, making everything beautiful, just for me.

That sounds terribly narcissistic doesn’t it?

I don’t mean it to. I just want to believe in a God who knows and loves me individually, just as I am. And who knows and loves you, just as you are.

Does he really have the capacity or desire to be actively interested in the little stuff?

There’s so much big stuff happening in the world, surely his efforts would be better served focussing on them?

World hunger. Poverty. Sex trafficking. Abuse. Cancer. Tragic accidents.

There’s so much awful stuff happening, it’s really easy to wonder how it is even possible to entertain the idea that God can really be interested in the little things in my fairly ordinary life, seeing as he hasn’t stepped in and made the bad stuff better.

I don’t have the answer to that.

I mean sure, I can pretend if you like, spout the same old line about living in a fallen world of sin and evil.

But I don’t think that does us any favours.

Instead, how about we keep our eyes open for those little reminders?

The love notes dotted across the universe? The silly stuff that makes us smile. A giggling child. An extra hug.

What if all of that stuff was a note from God, reminding you how much he loves you?

That stuff is there, whether we see it or not. Sometimes it just needs us to keep our eyes open. Expectant. Anticipating.

What might your today look like if you stepped into it, ready to see that love note?

How might your interactions with other people in your day be different? (Because yes, you can be the bearer of someone elses love note.)

It’s time to slow down just a little, pull back your shoulders and step into this brand new day.

Are you ready? Go! πŸ˜€

What if we could wear resting and taking a break as a badge of honour?

Don’t tell anyone but I’m a bit of a hypochondriac.

After a day full of meetings and driving, sandwiched in-between recording a video and doing some work, by 8pm on Tuesday I was ready to sleep for a week!

Apparently it’s not normal to be tired by 8pm so of course I started Googling symptoms to find out what was wrong with me. I got myself into a right old pickle!

Turns out that there wasn’t much wrong with me other than I was just exhausted after a busy day.

For the last few days though, in true hypochondriac fashion, I’ve been keeping an eye on my symptoms and trying to be a little bit more balanced with how I work.

The result? The last two days have been fabulous!

I’ve gotten more done than I did all of last week (despite working like an idiot!) Better than that though, the last two days have been fun.

Lots of giggles and smiles. It’s been wonderful.

And so now, be warned, I’m on a bit of a rest quest – oooh, and I’m a poet and I didn’t even know it πŸ˜‰

But seriously, I just looked in the bible and, not even counting the obvious ‘and on the seventh day, God rested’ type verses, there are loads of examples of people being encouraged to chill out.

Do you remember what happened when Elijah got freaked out because Jezebel was after him? He was encouraged to rest, eat, drink, eat some more, and then finally, eventually, he got up and made his move.

Jesus too talks about how the weary and burdened should come to him and he’d give them rest.

Even Jacob is caught sleeping before his wrestling match with God.

If it was important then, me thinks it’s still important now.

You were not put on this planet to live to work. Sure, everyone needs to have some way to support themselves and it’s good for your brain to keep it active, but do you know what’s just as important as working?

Rest.

Recharging.

Smiling.

Giving yourself time to stop and actually notice what’s going on around you.

It’ll make you more productive and it just makes life more fun.

Just because you don’t feel like God loves you, it doesn’t change how much he does.

“Your office looks really tidy mummy.” Said by my eight year old, with more than a hint of surprise in her voice. “That’s the first time it’s been tidy since before when it was daddy’s study.”

Me: I tidy my office every Sunday.

Her: Do you? Well you didn’t do it this Sunday.

Me: Yes I did. It was tidy this morning too.

Her: Well I didn’t see it.

Me: Just because you didn’t see that it was tidy, doesn’t change the fact that it was.

It reminded me of two days ago when my daughter decided that everyone hated her. More specifically, she decided that I hated her.

I didn’t and don’t of course. And how she thought I felt about her didn’t change for one second how much I love her.

And then another ‘just because’ thought popped in my head …

Just because you don’t feel like God loves you, it doesn’t change how much he does.

We like to think that we’re in charge and can make a difference to the world but there is one thing we can not do and that is make someone love us.

I mean, sure, we can help the process along. I imagine my husband would have had a harder time falling in love with me if I’d refused to speak to him or spend time with him or said mean things to him.

But my children? My love for them just happened. There is nothing they did as tiny newborn infants that coerced me into loving them.

God is love. He wrote the book on it.

So if I, mere human that I am, have this ability to just love my children, how much more possible do you think that process might be for the author?

Just because you don’t feel like God loves you, doesn’t change how much he does.