How did you wake up this morning? 

How did you wake up this morning? With sunshine streaming through the windows? Anxiety filled? With shouts of “Mummy!”/ Heavy with grief/ Excited for the day ahead/ On a pillow still wet with tears/ refreshed/ exhausted/ Having everything you ever dreamed of/ frustrated /angry at the world/ in a tender and loving embrace/ Still drunk from last night/ discovering an unidentifiable human snoozing next to you/ the happiest you’ve ever been/ shaking in the grip of addiction/ hurt/ isolated/ afraid/ lonely/ with wonderful plans for the day/ drowning in struggles / wanting to sleep and never wake up/ not knowing how to get out of bed let alone make it through the day or with everything just perfect?

However you woke up this morning know that Jesus will meet you exactly where you are. You don’t need to move a muscle, all you need to do is ask.

Unfortunately some religious institutions, our conscience or when we put our faith in the opinions of men or human traditions it makes us feel we have to dress up in our “Sunday best”, try to be a “good” human, bury our mess and struggles. It convinces us to use our every effort to change our behaviour, it can crush us with strict impossible demands, it can confuse, divide, anger or isolate.

Putting faith in religion can be so overbearing or leave us feeling total desolation in the absurdity of rituals.

The good news is you don’t have to make any effort at all. So however you woke up this morning, if you want to know Jesus, just simply ask him. You don’t need to try to change yourself or hide or disguise because we have a God who doesn’t mind meeting us in the mess, he is ready to heal, ready to turn our lives around, his love for you is bigger than any problem, shame or pain. He has dealt with it all once and for all at the cross. He will meet you wherever you are right now and wake you up in a way you’ve never been woken up before. 

“This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Ephesians 5:4

Sand Garden

One of my favourite things to do with the children is going on walks and collecting pebbles, shells, feathers and flowers.

Last year we made this pretty sand garden with an old plastic tub, some sand, rocks and flowers. My daughter, who was two and a half at the time, really enjoyed arranging it all.

   

Make a cushion cover

Cushions are an easy way to update a room by adding colour, texture and reflecting the changing seasons or celebrations throughout the year. 

They are simple to make and a luxurious and professional finish can be obtained for a fraction of the cost of a retail equivalent.

We have a nearby shop that sells the scraps from a high end furniture upholstery workshop. The fabric for the cushions I made here cost £4. It’s always worth having a root around in a remnants box.

MATERIALS & EQUIPMENT

Fabric (medium weight)

Fabric scissors

Pins

Pattern paper

Ruler with set square 

Pencil

Matching strong cotton thread

50cm invisible zip

Sewing machine

Overlocker (or alternative seam finishing materials)

METHOD

I’ve run out of pattern paper so I used some baking paper to draw the pattern. This makes a 50x50cm cushion cover. Each piece, as shown below, has a 1cm seam allowance. 

(Adjust measurements to your requirements – always remember to add 1cm seam allowance).

   

Use a set square to get the right angles straight. Double check all the measurements, cut the templates and pin in place on fabric. 

If you are using fabric with a pattern, remember to pin template according to pattern. If using velvet, be sure that the grain flows in the same direction for all the pieces.

I made two cushions so folded fabric to cut x2 pieces at the same time.

 

 
Cut fabric and overlock the edges. If you don’t have an overlocker, fabric glue will seal edges or iron on webbing, binding or zig zag stitch.
 
Machine stitch the open zip in place with an invisible zip foot. 

It should like this from the back (picture above)

And like this from the front (pic below)  

Change machine invisible zip foot to a zip foot (looks like a regular machine foot that’s been cut in half).

Next, with the zip open, sew 8cm in from the sides of cover to close the openings on both ends of the zip (sew as close to the zip as possible – you’ll be able to feel the zip through the fabric). 

The gap shown in the above picture should now be sewn together so there should be a neat finish when opening and closing the zip.

Pin front and back pieces together with the wrong side showing (making sure grain and pattern is matched) **Leave zip open halfway -so cushion can be turned the right way after stitching edges.

Sew all edges leaving 1cm seam. 

Turn the cover the right way through the open zip and gently push the corners out with a blunt intrument such as a knitting needle.

Insert a duck feather cushion pad. 

I’ve used a 56cm cushion pad but one up to 60-70cm can be used for extra plumpness.

   

Spaghetti & Meatballs

I’ve made this a couple of times recently and our 23 month old has loved it. It’s got grated carrots and courgettes in which is great for children, like our three year old, who don’t like eating big chunks of veg, or toddlers just getting used to a variety of textures.

I’ve used ready made meatballs but homemade ones can always be prepared beforehand (much better if trying to keep salt to a minimum for younger ones). 

serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS

olive oil

1 medium onion (grated)

2 carrots (grated)

1 large courgette (grated)

1 garlic clove

Red wine (optional)

24 meatballs (4/5cm diameter)

x2 400g tin finely chopped tomatoes

1 tbsp tomato puree

1 tbsp sugar

200ml vegetable stock (salt free if preferred)

1 tbsp fresh basil (chopped)

Parmesan (grated)

Spaghetti

Salt and pepper

METHOD

Heat 3tbsp oil in a large frying pan. 

With a low heat fry onions for 3 mins

Add carrots, cook for further 2 mins

Add courgettes and cook for 10 mins

Add tomato puree and garlic and cook for 5mins

Add a splash of wine (optional) turn up heat and reduce 

Then add the stock, chopped tomatoes and sugar. Bring to a simmer whilst browning meatballs in another pan.

Add the browned meatballs to sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Continue to simmer for 20-25 minutes. 

Cook spaghetti. 

Add basil to sauce and serve with Parmesan 

  

Made to Praise

The last ten days has seen us go to A&E twice, 2 emergency doctors appointments and I had my long awaited maxillofacial appointment which was great news (the bone in my affected jaw now looks even better than the healthy side). As one child recovered from a chest infection, my other daughter came down with one. My husband then got struck with a virus. I also had a flashback yesterday, my first in 2 years and it was so much more positive than my previous one.

Through it all my heart keeps leaping with gratitude. I feel we are all resting in this warm blanket of goodness.

Walking in a hospital corridor last week, a tremor of fear rose in me and my helpless heart leaned into the Lord. Fear was extinguished on his words “I’VE GOT YOU”. Such peace, wondrous peace. I’m so thankful for his heart bursting, soul igniting, truly unconditional love that is equal for every one. I will never be able to get my head around this kind of love, steady and unfailing.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:

Mountains

Mountains. We all face them at various points in life. How we choose to climb these mountains will make the difference in how much we enjoy the difficult journeys.

Most of my life has been a series of treacherous mountain ranges, I’ve wearily travelled through the black valleys of depression, faced the frightening jagged edges and avalanches of PTSD, the sweeping storms of self destruction, the fog and mist of abandonment and numerous blizzards of grief. My problems governed me, ruled me with fear, held me hostage, dictated how I lived and convinced me the best I could ever have was to work on myself to be able to manage my pain for the rest of my life. What a self-centred life sentence! But the wisest of man or darkest of demons can not contend with the supreme power of our Lord.

When we stand at the foot of a mountain, we beg for it to be got rid of or we plead for a way around it. We tend to limit God by our limited understanding. Impatient for answers. We ask why a righteous, powerful, loving God allows us to go through these terrible times. But our Almighty God doesn’t move our problems out of the way because he IS mighty. He shows us he is by safely, joyfully and peacefully leading us through them. When we put our trust in him, these difficult journeys allow us to experience his awesome power. A power that is far greater than can be described by human words.

It’s often these difficult times that break down our barriers and leave us so helpless that they push us to go from depending on ourselves or others to depending solely on him. When we open our hearts to know Jesus, not only in part with our problems but trusting him with our whole lives, we are set free. He freely gives us the fullness of life. He takes our burdens, extinguishes our worries, he shows us the footholds, pitches our tent, shields us from the storms, provides an abundance of healing and comfort, we can rest always safe and warm in his unfailing love.

God absolutely delights in every single one of us. He wants nor needs absolutely nothing from us. Love is not earned, it is freely given. He will never let you go, he will never leave you and he will always carry you through the storms.