019 How not to be bored or how to be bored (or 7 ideas for filling your Summer with relaxing stuff)

So in our house its the Summer holidays – we are 2 week into the holidays and already we are hearing the cries “I’m bored”. So today I took the proverbial bored bull by the horns and sat down with my kids to come up with a list of things they could do to fend off the beautiful beast of boredom. So here it is, our list of 7 un-boring things to do:

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Practice that instrument: does your kid play something? Have they a passion for piano? Do they go gaga for guitar, or are they ecstatic about the xylophone? Manipulate their passion to excel in and instrument or in using that wonderful singing voice.  Music fills a place and a heart with joy!

toddler reading book

Read a good book: I’m a mug for reading and for learning and I love that kids are like little knowledge sponges. I think there are few kids who don’t like a good book, but there are a lot of kids who don’t want to read books that don’t engage them. It took a while for my son to find books that engaged him when he was about 10-13 – then he found Lee Childs and BINGO he’s reading like a pro! I love talking with my kids about what they are reading, and more importantly about what they are observing and learning through their reading!

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A Trip to the Cinema: Kids climbing the walls? Do you need a break? Treat yourself and them to a movie. Once the lights are down they can enjoy the film and you might even manage 15 minutes sleep without anyone disturbing you, or even noticing.

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Bike Ride: What’s not to love? It’s exercise so its great for fun, health and your mental balance. It might even fill you with joy as you blow off the boredom cobwebs. Who am I kidding!!!! I hate bikes

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Go for a Walk: Now I’m back to good ideas. A walk allows you to slow the pace of life down. Choose somewhere you know the kids can run ahead a little bit (allowing you moments of peace). Give the kids a challenge: how many types of leaf can you find and identify? Lie down in the grass and see who can find the coolest animal shape in the clouds. Imagine you’re walking through Jurassic Park (might not be restful, but it wont be boring)

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Help your local coffee shop make a profit: Coffee is one of the gifts of God to the world, so it would be a sin not to indulge! My kids love when we go for a coffee, always hopeful that some cake will be thrown into the mix! Coffee shops are great for people-watching – one can learn so much about people and Hipsters when consuming coffee (or tea, or some other drinky thing!).

Bored

Get bored: My kids are ALWAYS telling me they are bored, and I now always respond with “It’s good to be bored – enjoy!” Someone once said that boredom is the birthplace of creativity (Ok, I admit that it’s only me who ever said that!). It is true though – when we allow our minds to wander around in boredom, our minds wander into places they might not otherwise have reached. Boredom allows us to mentally and intellectually go ‘off piste’. It helps us think where and how we don’t usually think. Embrace boredom and you will embrace creativity.

My 8 year old is currently building a house. Yes, you hear that right – building a house! She was bored last week and began to imagine a little house with rooms. She began collecting crafty bits and pieces and yesterday began constructing her house. She’s collected paper for the walls and carpets; loo rolls for cupboards; etc. All this came from boredom.

So I implore you to change how you view boredom – boredom is a pathway to joy. Embrace it like an old friend; wear it like a winter coat; wander in it’s directionless travel through the beautiful fields of your imagination – you never know what creative genius you will find.

we got bored

Ancient prayers and renewed thoughts

I came across this Franciscan Prayer on a memory stick when looking for some research notes – it struck me that sometimes ancient words have the power to create new thoughts within us. With all the pain in the world at the moment words of encouragement, hope and inspiration are medicine for our souls.  I pray that today these ancient words of prayer will resonate and reinvigorate your soul:

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers,

half truths, and superficial relationships,

so that you may live deep within your heart.

 

May God bless you with anger at injustice,

oppression, and exploitation of people,

so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

 

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who

suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war,

so that you may reach out your hand

to comfort them, and to turn their pain in to joy.

 

And may God bless you with enough foolishness

to believe that you can make a difference in this world,

so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

Things Jesus Modeled and Taught – Love

I had a chess set a long time ago, and I loved that little chess set. It was a rather funky, electronic board that meant I could play chess even when no one else in the family wanted to play – and that was always. So I played against the computer – an unseen opponent way smarter than myself (because truth be told, I ain’t that smart most of the time!). Anyway, I loved that chess board until way beyond the day it gave up the ghost and it could play no more.

Now I have different loves: I love my guitar (although I neglect it often). I have a strong attachment to my guitar and I’d be sad if it ever left me.

I love tasty food (but I don’t neglect that love!). Yet, I can live without food. I can fast; I can miss meals; I can go without – it truly doesn’t bother me. I love food, but I recognise that even when it’s tasty, It’s a means to an end of survival.

I am part of a family consisting of me, my wife, and my three children – I love my family beyond words. They are my deepest loves on this revolving planet in this great universe! If I ever lost them I would be a wreck, devastated with a hole in my heart. But despite my love, I still find that I do not treat them perfect, much as I try. I will let them down. There are times when I’ve not been there for them. There will be times when my love alone doesn’t seem to be enough for them. This is a deep love, but it is also an imperfect human love.

Jesus taught, spoke and modeled a life of love a LOT! But what he taught about love differs from the loves I’ve described above. He taught that there is a love so much MORE than the love we show. Many in the past have described or called it the unconditional love of God:

When you look at the love of Jesus in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) it is clear that God’s Love is a big love; a boundless love; a better love – it has no end to it. According to the God Book no matter what you do in life God never stops loving you. This does not equate to us acting how we want and God shrugging his shoulders with a ‘doesn’t matter what you do’ perspective – what we do really does matter to God, but what you do DOES NOT stop God from loving you – as already written: God’s Love is BOUNDLESS. I have seen this in my own life.

  • I have experienced loss and grief – God held me in his loving hands.
  • I have been an idiot and let people down – God gently led me lovingly back along the pathway called repentance into the wide street of reconciliation
  • I have experienced many failures – God loved me in the ditch and reached down many times to pick me up and set my feet on a secure path despite my failings
  • I have lived through horrendous abuse – God healed and restored my soul so that I could experience the joy of living well and happy

There is no part of your life that God cannot reach with his love if you will let him. He longs for you to open your heart to His goodness. The good book (the bible) tells us that Jesus ‘knocks at the door’ calling out for us to open our lives to Him (Revelation 3:20). Even while suffering on the Cross of crucifixion Jesus was still revealing boundless love – he cried out to God to forgive those who caused his suffering and impending death; he sees to it that John the beloved disciple will take care of of his mother; he assures the criminal on the cross next to him that he will enter paradise. This is the boundless depth of the love Jesus taught, spoke of, and lived out in his short time on earth!

The Good Book talks about how the invite to know God’s love is open to all today – it is an inclusive invite for all to come to God and experience His transforming love personally. Maybe today you can open the door to Jesus; open the door of your heart to the love of God; open the door to his healing work; open the door to happiness with Jesus in your corner.

His love is more. More than we have ever experienced – can you hear his love calling to you today?

Mindful Reflection

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It’s that day of the year again: you know the one where we think back and look forward?!

Reflecting back is great, and helpful, and we ought to do it more. Looking back is NOT about living in the past – it IS about learning from the past in order to move forward today.

As we reflect on this year, what learning can we share with others for the coming year?

Happy New Year

Stuart

On the journey there are valleys to pass through

Every adventure commences with great excitement and expectation. The heroes band together, united in their quest, hungry for success to greet and embrace them with the warmth of an old friend.

In life there are wide pastures where we can relax; enjoy the people we love; stop for refreshment; etc. In the pastures we are refreshed and restored. We smile, laugh and experience joy again.

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The Pasture

Life also has it’s mountains. These are the situations that develop strength in our ‘life muscles’ as we climb through life’s difficulties -and we climb with hope because we know there’s a great view to see at the top. On the mountain top we can stop; we take in the wide panorama of how life has led us to these moments and we are generally grateful for the positive and negative experiences we have faced.

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The Mountain

But what is there in-between the pasture and the mountaintop? What if we are neither on the mountain or playing in the pasture? Where are we then?

For a lot of people the in-between feels like a valley, and that’s not a great place to be. The valley is where the sun cannot reach; it can feel like utter darkness (how often have you heard someone say ‘I was in a really dark place’ when they are coming out of a life-struggle?); it can feel oppressive, hopeless, joyless, or worse. It can be a place where you feel isolated and lonely.

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The Valley

So how do we cope with life’s valleys? Here’s my three tips:

The Valley experiences WILL pass (and you don’t need to forget them)

Remember that our hard times will pass: they are not eternal – they ARE temporal. Time does heal, and we do find ways to keep on moving forward (and it’s okay to look back and remember where you’ve come from, as well as look forward to where you’re heading!).

The Valley teaches us about reality

In the valley the candyfloss of positive thinking and empty optimism is blown away and we are left with what is real – real emotions; real thoughts; real experiences. It blows away the dross of empty wisdom and meaningless clichés, as well as showing us the depth of friendships and relationship we really have. Although in the short/medium term this can be a painful process, in the long term our lives can only benefit from this raw sense of experiential reality.

The Valley is a transitional Place

This is a truth worth holding onto: the Valley is not a place we are meant to dwell in – it is a place to pass through. Humanity cannot dwell in darkness for long – we are created to live in the light. It is a place to walk through – not to sit in. It is a place to learn in – not to live in.

Are you in a valley of life right now? Is the darkness pressing into your mind or your heart? Are life’s struggles tipping your emotions into a dark place?

Keep stepping forward towards the mountain or the pastures. You will get there eventually, even if it feels tough right now. Keep on keeping on – the valley won’t last forever.

 

 

 

 

Partnership & perseverance move mountains (or fridges!)

The fridge stood in the middle of the room where the delivery guy had left it. It was huge! I unfortunately am not huge. How on earth would I move this fridge?

We’ve all had days like this: days when there’s something in our lives that appear to be immovable. It might be a big white fridge, a debt, or a housing issue. We each have our own ‘barriers to progression’ or ‘monsters to fight’. We all have complex issues facing us in our workplace or in our business. Life can be full of the immovable!

But back to the fridge…

So my fridge was intimidatingly large standing there in the middle of the room. I decided to start trying to move it. Sometimes you just need to make a start.

Sometimes you just need to make a start!

I pushed and pulled; I rocked it and tried to walk it… and I began to move it! Making a start on something is always the first step to moving the problem. But I got tired. My muscles ached. My hands got sore. My mind began telling me I couldn’t shift it. I needed help!

Sometimes you just need to ask for help!

I asked for help. A friend came round and moving the big white fridge became easier. I still felt the weight of it, but it became manageable and movable.

But what if we hadn’t been able to move the fridge? We couldn’t just leave it in the middle of the room. We would have kept on trying until that fridge was moved, plugged in, and working as it was designed to work. We would have persevered!

Sometimes you just need to persevere!

We all have the metaphorical fridge in the middle of the room. Who can you help today to move theirs?