{My One Word} Discipline

The Open Home 592

This year I decided to get in on the whole one word for the year thing.

The idea is to change your life with just one word. To skip the long list of new years resolutions and just pick one guiding word that is at the very essence of what you want to be or achieve throughout the year.

Now I am a big old planner at heart so do enjoy setting a few healthy goals at the start of each year to help me as I journey towards the person I hope to be.

However, this year when setting my goals I started to notice a recurring theme, so much so that choosing  a guiding word to focus my days and encourage me throughout the year made so much sense.

Discipline.

Nothing fancy, pretty unoriginal really, but it’s the word for me.

So we’ll see how it goes! By the end of 2016 I hope that my 365 days with a focus on discipline will have helped me to establish the habits that will enable me to live a fuller, healthier and more intentional life.

For more info or to pick your guiding word for the year check out these sites HERE and HERE.

Do you have a guiding word for 2016?

16 Facts You May Not Know About Me

The Open Home 398

It’s still the first month of the year so in honour of 2016 here are 16 things you may not know about me… enjoy!

  1. I have been a vegetarian since I was 11 years old – simply because I don’t like the texture and taste of most meat.
  2. I love a good murder mystery, Agatha Christie’s Poirot is my favourite.
  3. I talk about names a LOT. The meanings of them, why people choose them, what names go well together, etc
  4. I think all the best animals have big ears – donkeys, rabbits, elephants… I rest my case.
  5. I’m a geek and love the timey-wimey-ness of Doctor Who and kinda wish I lived in Hobbiton.
  6. Bats and crabs freak me out.
  7. I make a miserable shopping companion, my Mother will confirm this. MISERABLE!
  8. I don’t drink tea or coffee.
  9. My dream holiday destinations are New Zealand, Hawaii and Alaska.
  10. Autumn is my favourite season (and Summer my least favourite).
  11. I don’t wear black, I’m far too pale and look ill in it.
  12. My favourite Disney film is Tarzan.
  13. If you want to send me flowers I particularly like freesias and tulips.
  14. One day I want to get a British Bulldog and call him Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore.
  15. I have visited 20 European countries to date (and really must do a post about my favourites!)
  16. I’m an ISFJ for those of you who speak Myers Briggs.

Tell me something I may not know about you?

{Twenty Fifteen} in Review

Here are some of my favourite photos and highlights from 2015…

The Open Home 557

The Open Home 559

The Open Home 560

IMG_0027

IMG_0405.jpg

The Open Home 556

 

The Open Home 346

The Open Home 352

The Open Home 350

The Open Home 360

The Open Home 361

The Open Home 363

The Open Home 370

The Open Home 372

The Open Home 375

The Open Home 394

The Open Home 562

The Open Home 398

The Open Home 412

The Open Home 413

The Open Home 417

The Open Home 418

The Open Home 425

The Open Home 430

The Open Home 440

The Open Home 446

The Open Home 450

The Open Home 459

The Open Home 498

The Open Home 521

The Open Home 541

Life in 2015 has pretty much been one big adjustment for us all. We started the year with a 3 day old baby girl and the reality of life with a baby and a toddler was slowly setting in.

In the spring the Husby started working as a professional teenager (aka. Youth Pastor) with our home church which resulted in a house move, lots of DIY, even more gardening and a new life style and schedule to settle into.

So the first part of the year was in many ways very hard, exciting but hard. There was way too much mummy anxiety for me and way too little sleep all round, but as the summer came it brought with it new hope as the newborn fog began to lift and life with two little girls finally found it’s rhythm and began to taste all the sweeter.

Life with a baby and toddler this autumn has been a real joy. There has been whinging and crying, squabbles and even chicken pox, but there has also been so much laughter and chatter, ample amounts of cuddles and lots of repeat readings of The Gruffalo.

So as winter begins and the year of 2015 comes to an end it is with a full and thankful heart that I look back. I definitely feel older, perhaps a little wiser but I’m definitely feeling content with life and with where God has placed us for this season.

So here’s to 2015, I hope it has treated you well. What are you looking forward to in 2016?

Fifteen Things I Learnt in Twenty Fifteen

This week that follows Christmas is one of my favourite times of year. I love the ending of the year with it’s reflections on what has been and it’s anticipation for what may be. So as 2015 comes to a close let me share with you fifteen things I have learnt this year.

1. Having a baby and a toddler is hard!

The Open Home 558

Duh! I know, I know, surely I already knew this? Well yes, but only in theory. I now know this to be true in practice. The age difference between my girls is 20 months so I currently have a 2.5 and 1 year old. It’s been the most demanding, sleep deprived and challenging year I’ve ever had, but it has grown me as a person, as a mother and as a wife, it’s stretched my faith and filled my life with more love and happiness than I could ever have imagined.

2. Exercise should take priority

The Open Home 299

At the start of 2015 I read an excellent book called Everybody Matters, which I reviewed {HERE}. This book really challenged my priorities and helped me to see that focusing first on physical discipline will in turn lead to spiritual discipline. This is something I’m hoping to focus on in the new year.

3. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful

The Open Home 414

I struggled with perfectionism in my teens and early adult years, something The Husby has helped me to overcome, but this simple phrase from the Nester has truly made a difference. Decorating our home and completing craft projects are the only areas where I tend to find my perfectionist past creeping up on me but I now simply recite the above phrase and feel refreshed and liberated to know that it truly doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.

4. I finally like living in Guernsey

The Open Home 290

After many years of planning to get off this little rock I actually realised this year that I am finally happy living where I am. Maybe it’s because I am older, wiser and more appreciative of my home town or perhaps it’s because I feel we’re exactly where God wants us to be.

5. Post natal depression comes in different shapes and sizes

The Open Home 306

I hadn’t realised that I had a stereotype of what post natal depression was until I found myself with it earlier this year. Perhaps I’ll share about my experience at a later date but for now all I’ll say is that mental health is a complex thing and not a one size fits all. Don’t generalise. Don’t assume.

6. Love languages are so very important

The Open Home 571

I personally find the 5 love languages to be fascinating and such a useful tool. I heard of them back in 2010 but actually only read up on them in depth this past year. Don’t underestimate the importance of expressing love to your partner in a way that communicates deeply with them – it really is what makes or breaks a marriage.

7. I am a minimalist

The Open Home 511

I’ve always been super organised and a bit of a neat freak, but I hadn’t realised until this year that I was in fact already a minimalist. It turns out that books on decluttering, tidying up and organising my home really aren’t that life changing for me.

8. Gardening should be a family affair

The Open Home 353

I don’t understand people who don’t like gardening, I mean what’s not to like? Fresh air, green grass, pretty flowers, tweeting birds? Gardening really is one of the best therapies for all ages and a great family bonding activity, we’ve made some wonderful memories this year working alongside each other in the garden.

9. To embrace white

The Open Home 464

Despite all the nay sayers who said go cream we decided to go with our gut and embrace white walls and I am so glad we did! Don’t be afraid of white – even with children!

10. Welsh cakes are my favourite food

The Open Home 543

It’s no secret that my family are partial to welsh cakes. They tend to be our fancy breakfast treat of choice and a Christmas morning tradition in our home. It was in fact this Christmas morning that I realised that if I were on my death bed and told I could eat one last meal, it would be welsh cakes! So please, no chocolates, just welsh cakes!

11. Marriage is more about making us holy than it is about making us happy

The Open Home 470

A tough concept to swallow but it in fact holds many truths. Marriage highlights our flaws and refines us like no other human relationship can. It is not the easy, fairy tale route to happiness that many assume it to be, it takes work and it takes commitment.

12. Women are scary

The Open Home 521

Being a stay-at-home mum can be pretty isolating at times, especially with a newborn in the house and nap schedules to work around. In my attempts to find mum friends to walk through life with I have come to the realistation that we women are scary! We hang out in protected packs that are hard to infiltrate, we have our preferred parenting styles and unwittingly add to each others mummy guilt. Here’s hoping 2016 is a little less scary on the mum dating scene!

13. Teenagers aren’t as scary as I thought!

The Open Home 386

When The Husby became a Youth Pastor in spring of this year I was slightly nervous about his focus on pastoring youth despite knowing this was where God was leading us. I mean, teenagers didn’t really like me when I was a teenager so why on earth would they like me now! So yes, I was daunted to say the least but it turns out that God knows best and the teenagers we work with are all pretty great. Phew!

14. I’m not as adventurous as I used to be 

The Open Home 432

This realisation made me a little sad. Perhaps its because I’m older or now a mother with more to consider but I do not feel as bold and courageous as I once was.  So my challenge for the new year – how can I maintain an open heart and adventurous spirit?

15. I have a holy discontent

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 12.31.34
Photo Credit: Home for Good

Whatever we want to call it – a mission, a purpose, a passion, a calling, a God-sized dream or even holy discontent, we all have something that breaks our heart, shakes our soul and makes us want to take action and make things right in the world. Personally, my heart breaks for the vulnerable children found within the care system. I believe all children deserve a loving and safe family home and I believe the church is the answer in finding them. Like Popeye, I have realised that “I can’t stands no more” and  I look forward to sharing more about my passion for fostering and adoption with you here in future posts.

What did you learn in 2015?

Healthy Goals

Twenty Fifteen Healthy Goals | The Open Home

We’re keen goal setters in this house and write down our goals each year, regularly checking in to evaluate our progress. Technically though, we’ve come to realise that we only really have one main goal each year and that goal is quite simply to improve our health.

Each goal we then make is really just a specific way of working towards improving our health in a certain area of our lives, be that our physical health, spiritual health, marital health or even financial health.

In practice this means that we make both personal goals individually and marital goals together, breaking down our personal goals into 4 categories (Physical, Spiritual, Relational & Professional) and our marital goals also into 4 categories (Physical, Spiritual, Relational & Financial). 

When setting goals under each of these categories we then simply ask ourselves, ‘How do I want to improve my health in this area?‘ It’s a question that I have found to be incredibly helpful, keeping our focus on both the big picture of improving our entire lifestyle and the smaller steps that are required to get us there.

If you too would simply like to focus on improving your health this year then below are some ideas of the sorts of goals you could set under each category.

 

Personal Goals:

Physically you may want to improve your flexibility by signing up to a yoga class, reduce your intake of caffeine or maybe arrange to finally get that dental work done.

Spiritually you could start journalling, set up a prayer triplet or perhaps memorise a piece of scripture each week.

Relationally you could join a social group that will encourage you to build new friendships or book in regular coffee dates to invest in your existing ones.

Professionally you could try a new course of study or block out time each month to work on your CPD. Or if like me your current profession is being a stay-at-home mama then you may want to establish a daily storytime or take your little one out on a monthly mummy date.

 

Marital Goals:

Physically you may want to set intimacy goals together or perhaps you want to find a common hobby and could do something sporty together, maybe even work towards some sort of physical challenge like a race or hike.

Spiritually you could set goals to pray with each other daily, sign up for a marriage course or even block out some time for a spiritual retreat.

Relationally you could invite dinner guests round to your home each month or regularly book in skype dates with your friends living overseas.

Financially you may want to build up your savings to a realistic target, start living on a cash budget or maybe even give more generously to charity.

 

These categories make a good starting point and you can easily tweak them to suit you. For example, if you’re single you can of course still make financial goals on your own! Whatever categories you do choose to use just remember to keep asking yourself ‘How do I want to improve my health in this area?’.

Hopefully with this sort of focus not only will your goals be healthy in the sense that they will be realistic and attainable, but the outcome will also hopefully be healthy too, resulting in you making progress towards the healthier lifestyle, attitude and relationships you desire.

What goals are you setting yourself this year?

{Twenty Fourteen} in Review

Twenty Fourteen in Review | The Open Home

 

Highlights of 2014…

 

Looking forward to 2015 because…

  • Sweet cuddles as I nurse my new baby
  • Continuing a year of dates with The Husby
  • Second birthdays and another party to plan
  • Making a play kitchen for our little ones
  • Continuing with my monthly baking goals
  • Lots of staycation time on our little island
  • Celebrating 70 years of freedom on the island
  • Getting back to my long country walks
  • Getting fit and strong after baby arrives
  • Creating a capsule wardrobe
  • Building on new friendships
  • A college friend visiting from the UK
  • Planning a big trip to Australia & New Zealand
  • A new niece or nephew to welcome to the family!

Happy New Year! What are you looking forward to in 2015?

Living the Life we Lost

Living the Life we Lost | The Open Home

It’s been over two years since we lost the international life we had longed for in Malawi. After years of planning and four trips to the southern African country, the call we had felt throughout our entire five years of marriage and the dreams we had built together were coming to an abrupt end. We had come so far in our journey, but the door was closing and we knew it was time to stop pushing.

For the past five years life in Africa was all we had dreamed of. We felt called to full-time service and had felt sure Malawi was the place for us to be. We could almost taste our lives in this vibrant culture, our family living on less but gaining so much more.

Instead we were left with the option of raising our family in Britain, something we had never pictured. We dreaded having to be ‘normal’, living a hectic life fuelled by the societal expectations and consumerism that leaves people always wanting more.

We felt lost and bereft and few understood our pain. Where did we go from here?

Continue reading