Watch this space 


January is just gone and I’ve already slipped into the bad habit of busy. Something broken inside of me feels the need to fill the open spaces of my life with more appointments, tasks and responsibilities. The margin that I was forced to recapture last year is very quickly being swallowed up again. This morning though I have a couple of hours space. I need this space for my brain to breathe. To catch up on my bible readings, to pause and to reflect. To be on my own. No conversation. No verbal processing. Just brain space. 

It’s taken me longer than it could’ve to realise and accept my absolute need of this space. My mind cannot access its deeper thoughts, it’s creative room unless I give my brain this opportunity to slow down. Often it requires me to be in an ‘other’ place for my brain to breathe  more deeply. I sadly struggle to experience this in my own home – this makes me deeply sad actually and I have fought this for years. I’ve tried desperately to create a place or corner in our home for my brain to breathe and in the search stress myself out about it. 

It was accidently and through carefully noticing a reoccurring pattern in my life that I stumbled on my need for an ‘other’ place for my brain recovery. Almost each and every time I would go away for a holiday, on a short trip, for an overnight or even a day I began to notice this urge to write. Initially I thought it was as simply a time issue – I was away from home and the usual routine therefore I had more time. In reality time wasn’t the missing element, it was the opportunity to unchain myself from the everyday lists, the to-dos and the ‘should be doings’ that allowed my brain to breathe more. New surroundings and unfamiliar places awaken a deeper hidden place within me. Even on trips where the schedule was demanding I’d find myself staying up later than my tired body wanted so I could scribble furiously the 100’s of words that tumbled so hurriedly on the page I could barely keep up. 
I have spent the past couple of years frustrated with myself for not being more disciplined in my writing. I’ve lost count of the prophetic and encouraging words spoken into my life prompting, urging and cheering me on to write more. The frustration in my head would grow and sometimes the accusing voice in my head would taunt me with doubts hinting at failure and laziness. 

At last I’ve made the connection not with needing more time, but needing, and I mean I need to be in an ‘other’ place for my brain to breathe. My body and soul is replenished in our home – we have created a home well equipped for physical rest; comfy beds, sofas and an open fire. We nurtured a family space where my soul feels connected, deeply known and filled by the love of those I love most in the world. My kitchen is the centre of  the home where our bodies are nourished and where the souls of those we love like family are fed and loved. So can you see why I’m so sad that I can’t find a place, or a corner in my beloved home to nourish and replenish my mind?

During a session of counselling last year I was challenged to describe how I was nurturing the introverted 48% of myself. That was a quick and easy reply – I wasn’t. I had long neglected or felt almost ashamed of my introverted self and instead leant more into the extroverted side. I’m saying that to say this, that session challenged me to observe and listen to the hidden parts of me as well as the more obvious. On this path I discovered that while time is not the problem, home is not the place, travel is not always possible, the need of another space is essential for my mind to thrive and my brain to breathe. 

January was too full. I’m committing in February to prioritising the preservation of my space. Will you hold me accountable WisdomShouts friends? 

My ‘one thing’ for 2016 & 2017

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New Year’s Eve has to be one of the most reflective days of the year.  I find it melancholic, although since I tend towards melancholy it sits with me just fine. I’ve found myself in a reflective pose for the past 2 months.  Reflecting on this time last year, on how difficult that season was for us as a family and marvelling at just how far we’ve come and how wonderfully different life is this year.  My reoccurring theme in conversation especially with those who walked through Micah’s mental illness with us is God’s overwhelming care, His own self in the middle of the hardest thing we’ve ever faced, His provision through the right people, in the right place at the right time for Micah has completely blown me away.  God is good. He is faithful. God is kind, merciful, gentle, just and all the things that I’ve been taught about Him and the more that I’m yet to discover, they are all true. The one thing that I have learnt in the past 14 months over and over again is that I can fully trust my Father in Heaven.  Fully, totally and completely trust Him.  In the darkest moments, when fear gripped my soul, when I felt like I had lost my life forever, when I was totally out of my depth and didn’t know how to parent anymore, in those moments I heard him tell me,  “trust me, Michelle.”  So 2016 unfolded into a year of trust where sometimes it was easier than others.  At times I wrestled and took control again, only to hand it back again.

I’ve been pondering the year ahead, this time last year I couldn’t even do that, it was still a day at a time existence.  But this NYE I feel the freedom and lightness to look ahead with hope and expectation.  Something shifted for me during my trip to India in Nov, I still can’t articulate the what, but I felt it, the shift, a move in my soul.  I can look forward with a deeper understanding of what it means to trust God, it feels like new deep pilings in my foundation that give me the confidence to build this year without fear that I can’t sustain it.  

My one thing for 2017 is to be faithful.  Faithful to my family, to Jason and my boys, faithful to deepening my friendship with Jesus and faithful to the call he has placed on my life.  It’s not dramatic, it’s the ‘left foot, right foot’ approach to living my life well.  To be faithful means I am committing to being present, to being disciplined, to following through, to not quitting, to learning from my Father what true faithfulness looks like.  It might mean that I take some risks this year, it could mean that I stop putting off the things I have been putting off and finally get stuck in.  Or it could mean hunkering down and living life at a deeper, fuller more sacrificial level.

I’m expectant, I’m hopeful and I feel the wind of the Holy Spirit on my back as I step into 2017.  My prayer for you is that whatever year you’re leaving and whatever you are anticipating in the year ahead that you would know deeply the love of Father God, that you would experience the life changing friendship of Jesus and that you would know the power of the Holy Spirit in your life and bear witness to presence of God in the lives of those you love in 2017.

 

PS Micah approved this post before I shared it, its always my rule that my boys approve any reference to them before its shared.

PPS total confession time – this post almost didn’t get shared because when I was searching for a hashtag to accompany my image i realised that one of my favourite bloggers Sarah Bessey has also chosen ‘faithful’ as her one word for 2017.  Catch her brilliant piece here one of the reasons I blog so little now is that I fear that I have nothing new or original to say and here I am faced with that dilemma head on.  Any how I’m posting this, so very often in the Kingdom we will hear over and over the same truth in the one year because the Lord is looking to remind us of something important or timely, I’m choosing to believe that rather than allow my insecurities to win and to delete my post.  

Here’s the links to other posts that are relevant to this one and you might also enjoy.

When fear tries to steal your soul 

My ‘one thing’ for 2013

 

Wisdomeats : Bear’s smoothie 

The Hassan’s have inherited a sweet tooth through the generations. My Dad has one, I definitely have one and my Matty continues in the line of sugar and all things sweet lovers. I actually feel guilty about this. Every time I challenge the amount of sugary stuff he’s consuming I’d see the mirror reflecting back to me the amount I’d consumed that day too! Sometimes I’d feel like our love of the sweet and sticky things of life is a curse passed on, not a delight to be enjoyed (in moderation of course).

So Matty (or bear as he’s affectionately known) has always loved the sugary breakfast options, although when I think of it the other 2 brothers aren’t far behind him. Coco Pops, Frosties, crunchy nut cornflakes, frosted shreddies or current fav Krave! Or it’s 2 croissants smothered in a half a pot of raspberry jam. Or white toast (never ever brown but I have tried I promise, even sneaking a slice of white and brown in a sandwich when the white has run out – it can back home uneaten) with layers of Nutella. 

Earlier this year I began to fully grasp my unhealthy obsession with all things sweet and sugary and begin to tackle it.  The results to my well being felt so immediate that I became a preaching convert to the whole house on the evils of sugar and poor Matty was my main target. 


And here’s the proof that I’ve converted him to smoothies for breakfast!!! It feels like a bigger achievement than it probably is but I’m delighted, and he loves them. Started at exam time when I wouldn’t let him go to school without breakfast and he could have this in the car.  I confess that often my boys eat breakfast in the car, travel mugs are an invention I’m very thankful for. Grown up sippy cups!  The smoothie is now firmly the breakfast choice for Matty most days, I mean it doesn’t beat a bacon sandwich but it’s up there. I’ll be honest getting up to make him a pre rugby smoothie at 8am on a Saturday morning does make me feel like one of those ‘super mums’ that we will all aspire to be but  deep down know don’t exist (accept on Instagram or Facebook) 

Further Confession time, they do say it’s good for the soul; I fell off my low-sugar wagon in France and I’m struggling to get back on it, but I am trying. This week the goal was drinking more water and a couple of walks (thanks to my pal Janice who’s been sending me pics to motivate me and get me up and moving more). I want to be healthier;  eat less processed, less sugary food, and definitely be more active, but I’ll be honest I don’t find it easy and some days it feels like another thing to add to my ‘could do better’ list. My relationship with food and exercise has historially been accompanied by those bully boy friends; failure, guilt, and their side kick comparison. I’m 44 now and feel less intimadated by them and I’m slowly learning to be kinder to myself, kinder in my whole life, realising that eating better and moving more is actually a kinder way to treat my body. 

Meantime do yourself a favour and try Bear’s smoothie, the ingredients in brackets are my variation when I make it for myself. 

Bear’s smoothie

1 banana 

½ cup of mixed frozen berries *

1 small pot strawberry  yoghurt (Greek yoghurt & 1/2 tsp cinnamon)

1 cup whole milk (semi skimmed) **

1 handful or ½ cup porridge oats 

½ cup cashew nuts

1 – 2  tsps or a squeeze honey 

Blitz it until smooth. Sometimes it will be thicker than others so add more milk to adjust the consistency. 

* use whatever soft fruit you prefer. Personally I love mango, the men in my house all prefer the mixed berries. Frozen is cheaper and there’s less waste. If you’re using fresh fruit add ½ cup of ice to the smoothie. 

** use whatever milk or milk substitute you prefer

WisdomEats : simple quick pasta 

This is a quick meal. I mean really quick. Most nights no matter how fast I try to prep and cook dinner it takes at least an hour to arrive at the table. Especially if it involves potatoes! Not this one. This is ready in the time it takes the water to boil and the pasta to cook. 15/20mins max. 

Here’s the ingredient list:

1 chorizo roughly cubed 1 red or white onion diced 

1 red or yellow pepper diced 

1 punnet mushrooms sliced

3 cloves garlic crushed or finely chopped

1 fresh chilli finely diced 

½ tsp dried oregano 

1 packet brown pasta 

Parmesan or parmigiana reggiano 

Serves 4 or 5 

Put a large saucepan of water on to boil and add a good sprinkle of salt – as one of my favourite cooks and beautiful women says “it should be as salty as the Mediterranean Sea” (Nigella Lawson) 

Now heat a splash of olive oil in a pan or wok. Throw in the chopped veg and chorizo and fry until cooked through and even better if the chorizo starts to crisp up a bit. At this stage add the garlic and chilli and stir through for about a minute. Now add the canned tomatoes, oregano, some black pepper and if it needs it a little salt. Allow this to cook until bubbling and then turn to really low or turn it off. 


Meantime as soon as the water boil throw in the whole bag of pasta. Set a timer for 10 mins. 

Test the pasta after 10 mins it should be aldente (firm to bite) drain it and add to the pasta sauce, turn the heat on again and stir through until combined. Serve and grate the cheese over the top. 


Apologies for the lack of finished dinner pic, it looked and smelt too good and I forgot about the photo until this happened!! 

Tell you what why don’t you send me your pics when you give this a go. 

Wisdom Eats: Coconut cinnamon pumpkin seed granola 

Jason and I have been trying to eat more healthily (not including France!?!) and my friend Janice recommended a great blog called The Little Green Spoon. I wouldn’t say we’re totally doing the whole ‘clean eating’ thing but we are trying to eat more fruit, vegetables, whole grains, cut down on sugar and processed foods.  I’d never made granola before as I always thought it was too much hassle; that was until I tried to buy some that didn’t contain sugar. 

Sugar is my drug of choice and I have a problem with it. I LOVE sugar, most of my life I’ve eaten too much of it every single day. I know it’s my weakness and I didn’t realise it was beginning to make me feel awful most of the time. Mood swings, hunger, nausea, tiredness and restlessness. When I began to limit the amount of it I ate I couldn’t believe how different I felt. The sugar cravings started to ease the less I ate of it. The nausea totally disappeared. My mood swings settled and my energy levels stabilised! That lead me to reading granola labels like a crazy person and deciding I needed to make my own granola. My pal Louise talked me through it one night at her house and I headed home to give it a go. I adapted this recipe Coconut and pistachio granola to suit what I had in my cupboard! Here’s what I came up with.

Ingredients:

1 Cup of Jumbo Oats 

1/2 Cup of Desiccated Coconut 

1/2 Cup of flaked almonds 

1/2 Cup of pumpkin seeds 

½ tsp ground cinnamon 

1/4 Cup of Coconut Oil (60ml)

1/4 Cup of Maple syrup 

Method:

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl

Melt coconut oil and stir in maple syrup

Add wet ingredients to dry and mix well.

Thinly layer on top of grease paper on a baking tray.

Bake for 20mins at 180c 

Allow to cool

Completely and store in an airtight tub. 

Serve with fresh fruit, yoghurt and honey. Or with ice cold milk. 

Why not adapt it for yourself and share your variations below!