“Selah” is  a word that appears in two books of the Bible- Psalm and Habbakuk up to 74 times. Despite its frequency, there is a great deal of confusion over what it is supposed to mean.  One thought is that it derives from two Hebrew words: s_lah, “to praise”; and s_lal, “to lift up.”

Another possibility is that it comes from another word: salah, meaning “to pause.” As a result, there is a belief that because of these two words that“selah” is therefore a musical direction to the singers and/or instrumentalists who performed the Psalms, which was the hymnbook of the Israelites.

If this is true, then each time “selah” appears in a psalm, the musicians paused, either to take a breath, or to sing a cappella or let the instruments play alone. Perhaps they were pausing to praise Him about whom the song was speaking, perhaps even lifting their hands in worship.

This would encompass all these meanings—praise, lift up, and pause.

When we consider the three verses in Habakkuk, we also see how “selah” could mean “to pause and praise.”

This is perhaps my favourite meaning, mostly because right now, I have so many reasons to pause and praise.

A year ago in May, my husband, children and I  moved from a home that we had lived in and loved for over 5 years. We had stayed in it, hoping to buy it and despite prayer and promises that this was to be our home, we were unable to secure it and lost it. I was devastated. But I have to trust that God is in control. Despite not knowing what His plan is for a home for us even now, I choose, with all my heart to pause in this- still very painful -time and say: ‘thank you Jesus’, whose plan is bigger than me, whether I see it or not. Selah

Two months after moving out of our much loved house, we were involved in a very serious car accident. The driver who hit us was drunk and careless and nearly took the lives of my beautiful little babies. It felt as though things were going from bad to worse for us and I didn’t understand why. But I remember very clearly as friends and family gathered around us, allowing to mourn and cry and be upset in that moment. And God, in his never ending kindness giving us real moments of rest during that terrible time; to heal, to recover and recharge. To this very day I cannot find the right words to express how held I felt during that very difficult period. All glory to Him. Selah

But as I lay on my hospital bed, unable to walk without the help of a zimmer frame (true story), I began to find healing in writing again. As I recounted the story of my family’s search for home as we fled from a very violent outbreak in our beloved country of Rwanda, God began to heal me from more than the physical wounds that were keeping me immobilised. Selah.

I set out to write the story for my daughter so that she will always know of God’s kindness to her mummy when her mummy was a little girl. It is an honest account of God’s protection and provision in the most unlikely places. I also wrote it in part to escape the devastation that I was feeling, when i realised that I couldn’t walk now or go for a run even, which i’d previously taken for granted or do most of the things that I was previously able to do without help- like being able to pick up my son for a cuddle or cook a meal for my family or jump in the car and drive. I wasn’t even sure that I was going to be able to ever get back behind the wheel- I was that filled with fear.  As doctors told me, one after the other, how long my recovery was likely to take, I could see very few reasons then to hope, let alone praise. But I do nowSelah.

When my mind was crumbling under the pressure of post traumatic disorder (PTSD) and I was reliving the scenes of the car accident each time I closed my eyes, Jesus powerfully walked into my room one night when I couldn’t sleep and began to heal me from anxiety, and spoke over me in a way that only He can and afterwards I was able to sleep again after nearly a month of insomnia. I now know Him powerfully as Healer. Thank you Jesus. Selah. 

Afterwards a friend began to read my story and loved it- the story that was intended for my daughter and not at all for the public-or so I thought!  Miraculously, my friend fell in love with my scribblings and so did a publisher, who rang me shorty after reading it, and while I was still recovering from the effects of the car accident,  offered me a contract to publish my story into a book. It is, to this day, the most surreal thing ever. One that I still struggle to process. But nevertheless it is part of this most incredible story that God is writing for me. Giving me beauty for ashes. Selah

In March, as I sat in the surgeons’ room of the Manchester Royal Infirmary’s fracture clinic to hear the words ‘we can now, with confidence, discharge you’, followed by the words ‘you may jog if you wish, but try not to run any marathons’- as I tried, with every fibre of my being to suppress jumping up and down in joy, it was God who had accelerated my healing process. Who was allowing me to run again. On the 22nd May, less than a year after I almost didn’t run again, I was able to take part in the Manchester 10k for the Boaz Trust, and I genuinely felt God run beside me with every step as He reminded me of the miracle of my healing. Selah. 

It is from a place of rest that Jesus was able to heal the sick and feed the hungry. he often went away to a quiet place to pray. We don’t read about Jesus being so overtired that He dropped the ball; and yet we so often do it in life, without really stopping and resting with him, before moving on to the next thing.

Lately I feel really challenged, especially for a many heart wearer like me, to learn what it  truly means to rest in God. To find times where I pause and calmly think about all that He  has done. And I know that there is strength waiting to lift me up when I finally do that. I wonder, what can you pause and be thankful about today?










Even though Habakkuk was not written to be sung, Habakkuk’s prayer in chapter 3 inspires the reader to pause and praise God for His mercy, power, sustaining grace and sufficiency.

Elmer Towns, a Bible commentator and renowned professor in all things Bible in his book ‘Bible answers for almost all your questions’ put it like this:

“Perhaps the best way to think of “selah” is a combination of all these meanings. The Amplified Bible adds “pause and calmly think about that” to each verse where “selah” appears. When we see the word in a psalm or in Habakkuk 3, we should pause to carefully weigh the meaning of what we have just read or heard, lifting up our hearts in praise to God for His great truths. “All the earth bows down to you; they sing praise to you, they sing praise to your name.” 



Why I spoke Up

I’m not a connoisseur of history- My husband will tell you a lot of the time, he has to correct my historical facts- I don’t know a lot about a lot, least of all American history but over the past week or so, I found myself unable to switch my heart off from what I was seeing and hearing.

I think a lot of it stems from the fact that I can empathise- as a black person, I have experienced first hand the pain of racism. And it is always shocking whenever it has happened to me. And I think the reason why it shocks me is because unlike some black African Americans, I don’t have to live with the culture of it all of the time.

So last week I found myself really disturbed by the plight of black people in America. And even though I am not American, it made me sad that many African Americans were expressing the feeling that they live under a different regime to the rest of the nation. Now I don’t know all the facts; but as a fellow human being, that made me sad.

A lot of the time, I watch the news and there is one tragedy after another and I struggle to understand- so, often times, I find myself unable to articulate any words or emotion and find myself falling silent, despite knowing that what I have seen is not ok.

But this time around, it was much harder to detach because more than ever, even in this country in the UK right now, racism is still alive. I got told the other week to ‘go back home’- I can only think the lady in question meant for me to go back down south because of my London accent- maybe.

When the shootings in America happened, it brought it home just how much more we need to be having conversations about race. Because unfortunately, whether we like it or not, racism is still alive even today and silence is not an option when it results in the devastating loss of human life on the scale that we are seeing on both ‘sides’ of this issue.

This week I have felt more than ever the need to speak up. Mostly because if this type of thing was happening not to me but to my friend, I would speak up. I would say something. I wouldn’t just stay quiet, I would tell everyone who would listen that something bad has happened to my friend and that my friend needed help.

Martin Luther King once said that “In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends”- Our voice, as human beings, as people, as friends, matters right now. Our friends in the USA, our black friends who have endured gross injustice for hundreds of years need our voice now more than ever.

When we don’t speak up, nothing changes. The same cycle is repeated over and over again- and I believe as a Christian that I am not only commanded to pray but also to ‘loose the chains of injustice’.

As I watched the news this week, I desperately listened out for voices of hope in this situation- sadly, when it comes to such divisive issues such as race, there are less and less voices speaking up about it. And sadly, the church has been the most silent.

But I believe that we are missing a trick here. Conversation and dialogue, especially at a time like this, is vitally important. Conversation isn’t possession of all the facts but to start a conversation with me at a time when I am facing  persecution because of my race makes me feel like you care. It makes me feel like even though you may not fully understand what I am going through, you are interested in me as an individual. It makes me feel as though my struggle matters to you.

And more often than not, conversation leads to understanding, understanding to compassion and compassion to action. But action can only happen when a choice is made, first and foremost to speak. If not to the public, then at least to me, the one who is going through it. And that is why, this week, I chose to speak up for the first time ever at a rally. To say it’s not ok. To say that even though I may not get it, I stand with those who are impacted.

My voice this week expressed that I am interested in having a conversation about this. And even though I have no idea what can be done right now in this moment about the complex issues of race that face us and inequality both in the UK and abroad, I chose to use my voice at this time to express my sadness at what I am seeing, to commit to seek understanding and to pray that compassion grows in me from that place that leads to the right action. But first, I must speak up.

Isaiah 58:9-12

If you get rid of unfair practices,

    quit blaming victims,
    quit gossiping about other people’s sins,
If you are generous with the hungry
    and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out,
Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness,
    your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.
I will always show you where to go.
    I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—
    firm muscles, strong bones.
You’ll be like a well-watered garden,
    a gurgling spring that never runs dry.
You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
    rebuild the foundations from out of your past.
You’ll be known as those who can fix anything,
    restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate,
    make the community livable again


I’m a strong starter. I always start well. But in the past i haven’t always been a strong finisher. Thankfully, i don’t need to be too concerned yet because the race of life that I’m in still continues for me and ultimately only time will tell what kind of finisher i become.

But recently i had the privilege of actually finishing a race and being given at the end of it, a medal, that read on it ‘finisher’. And I’m not gonna lie. I LOVE this medal. Mostly because unlike who I’ve been in the past, when i look at that medal, it speaks to who I’m becoming. I’ve just attended a two day women’s conference where we were spoken to by Bob Goff, a man who passionately loves Jesus. He talked about speaking to your mirror self and to other people, not about who they have been but as who they could be. And honestly it was revolutionary!

When i hold my finisher medal, I am filled with hope. Hope that tells me that this could actually be me. As i navigate through life i could begin to become a finisher of stuff. There’s so much hope in this medal that i hold that it makes me want to attempt other things because even though I’m not a finisher in every thing, I’ve finished THIS.

I heard recently a story of a teacher who gave her anxious student an A before she even attempted to sit the exam. The teacher wanted to boost this student’s confidence by taking away the fear of the test. And as a result of that ‘pass’ she went on to work hard and did actually get an A at the end of the term in that particular course.  I love that. The teacher spoke to the student’s potential and  called it out of her. Thankfully, that’s what Jesus does for us, too. He takes the fear away and gives us a ready-made pass. He died on the cross and won and by believing in him we can step into his victory; into his A.

My medal is a pass for me even though I’m yet to finish the exam. It gives me  hope that one day i will wear the ultimate medal that reads finisher on it from Jesus and because he calls me finisher now, while I’m  barely even practicing, stumbling towards several finish lines -if i get to finish at all. But he sees who I’m becoming and cheers that person on. There’s a verse in the bible that talks about how it’s he who has began a good work in you anyway.

What  ‘good’ work, i hear you ask? Well in Genesis it talks about how God created man and he thought that the work that he did when he made you and me was ‘good’. He began a ‘good work’ by making you. And this verse in the bible that I’m referring to says that because it IS him, not you, who started a good work in you, who placed you on the starting line of the race of life in the first place, how then it is He who will be faithful to complete this good work that he began in you and I. Doesn’t that take the pressure away? He’s almost giving us a money back guarantee. If we would only come to him and enlist in his race. He knows the way already.

And like the race i recently ran, everything has been prepared from the start for you, setting you up already so that you could win.  All you have to do is start. And once you do, keep running.

“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”- Philippians 1:6

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us”- Hebrews 12:1

Heart made whole

God is in the business of fixing our hearts. True story. He really doesn’t like it when our hearts are broken, or sad or indifferent to injustice or worse. He made us to be wholehearted. And if we could only let him in- oh the wonders he could do!

I’m not speaking in parables- over the past year, I have had the opportunity to witness this for myself, first hand. Last year, God began the process of mending my heart from years of heartbreak that I didn’t even know I had. I was born in Rwanda, you see,  and I was unfortunate enough to be around when the genocide happened and so had been carrying around years of trauma that I wasn’t even aware of.

Without realising, this had affected my identity and the way I related to the idea of home in every sense. Every time someone asked me where I came from, it was like they were asking me to solve the square root of Pi- it was complicated.

But God cares about the condition of our hearts and so, when I was most willing, he began to help me realise that I needed healing. But in a way, this was an easy one to work through. It was years ago so less ouch- you know?

But the real test, that came last November. I’m a mum of two. I am a mum of one strong determined, 6 year old world changer and one equally world changing, but slightly more compliant 2 year old boy. Back in November, I had the incident every parent dreads- the one where you and another mum disagree on parenting methods, resulting in lost friendships. Anyone been there?

Well, needless to say, my heart was broken for a while. Having gone through all the classic stages of grief, the last thing I expected was for a text, seven months later from my friend, asking to meet up and talk about November. And suddenly my heart beat raised higher than it medically should, indicating that it wasn’t entirely whole. A great opportunity for God to come in and work.

I love what Jesus does though. He fixes our hearts. Like I said, he cares about the condition of our hearts. And i will tell you why; in the Bible, in Matthew 22:37,  Jesus asks us to love God with ‘all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”- bit tricky, when your heart is in pieces!

So I have worked out that God mends my heart so that I can love him and others better. Broken hearts may love, but they can’t do it wholeheartedly. Whole hearts love wholeheartedly. So that is why my issue with my friend was of great concern for God; so that He can heal my heart, and i can love people and God better.

Today was a good day. I went and met with my friend. We had an awkward coffee at first- it wasn’t easy. But I also had people praying for me to be strong, so I was able to handle the chat better. And as we talked through things as mums, God brought healing to us both. And I can honestly say that when I left today, i felt whole.

And that is what He wants to do with all of us. So I ask you now, do you have a broken heart? Good news, God wants to make your heart whole. Maybe it is broken over the political state of our nation or a broken friendship- or maybe it’s your kids…whatever it might be. God can and wants to heal it so you can love better. So I can love better…and that’s got to be good, right?

Psalm 34:18: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Here is a prayer for those who have suffered a broken heart:

God, you care deeply for broken-hearted people.  This is a promise you make: You are close.  We pray for all those who are crippled by broken relationships.  Our hearts take the blow of disappointment.  We feel crushed because our hopes are dashed.  God, heal broken hearts.  We cannot fix our own wounds.  But you can.  If pieces of our heart have been lost, or are held captive by another, recover them and bring them back to us and miraculously “put us back together” so that our heart is whole again.  You are a mender of broken hearts.  We ask for this miracle, in the name of Jesus.

Fearless (in the hands of a good father)

This evening on our last day in Crete i’m stood by the beach watching my amazing husband teach our two children how to skim stones. Nothing extraordinary about that-except this is the scene that almost wasn’t as almost this time last year we were all taken out by a pretty horrific car accident. Thanking God for his healing power, which restores both body and mind.

One of my favourite things this holiday apart from literally the holiday itself- which has been heaven on a plate- has been watching my little son conquer his fear of the sea.  When we first arrived here he screamed each time he was put in the middle of the waves- ever  the lover if order and structure, his little heart couldn’t understand why it would be fun for him to be put in the middle of such unpredictable waters that almost always knocked him right back in his backside as soon as he was able to stand.

And yet tonight, here he is,  confident  as ever, screaming right in the face if the raging waves. If ever there was a picture to illustrate  wgat restoration looks like, THIS is it..right  now. In THIS moment. But he didn’t get to this moment on his own. Behind THIS moment has been  a patient  father who  has encouraged him every  time  he made it close  to the waters and held him close each time the fear became too overwhelming. Who  cheered his every progress  no matter  how small  and high fived each show of bravery.

Little by little he’s been coached into strength, moving  closer to courage. and  as he stands here now, fearless in the face of  what used to make him  crippled with fear, this victory is his. But as much as it is his, it is mostly his father’s. You see his father knows something that my little boy is yet to learn; with every agonising step he took, he was never once on his own.

Whenever he fell, there were the strong arms of his father, ready to catch him should he fail or fall. And catch him they did. Time and time again. Just like they caught me. And just like they can catch you. It’s ok to be afraid. But if you lean into him as you try, your father God will begin to make you stronger. Before long you’ll even begin to feel brave enough to show courage where you had none. And eventually you, too, will become fearless. Today, whatever your circumstances, dare to trust in these arms. They Will catch you. Even if you fall.

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10



(Don’t) Go compare

Over the past couple of days, the song from THAT advert has been literally stuck in my head. It has been incredibly irritating and I have tried nearly everything to get it out- worship music, radio, nursery rhymes- and nothing could get rid of it. Kudos to the guys who made it up- they knew what they were doing!

But today as I was once again at my kitchen sink washing the dishes (God speaks to me an unusual amount here)- I felt God start to show me the cost of the message of this song.

We live in a culture that is constantly inviting us to go compare. If you are buying a car, never mind the joy in the fact that you can actually afford one- you are encouraged to look on comparison sites to check out how its features compare with another before you make your choice. And we can compare so much nowadays that before long, our entire lives will be marked by comparison- and that’s where it gets dangerous.

While there is nothing wrong with trying to get the best deal, there is something deeply disturbing about living a life of comparison. Comparison breeds discontent- if we are constantly invited to go compare, we will never, ever, be satisfied. There will always be a part of us that leaves us wondering whether we shouldn’t have held on THAT little bit longer for a better deal, better holiday, better spouse…and from that vantage point, joy is ultimately impossible.

In the past I have struggled with comparison- and in the present- yes, even now, I have found it hard at times, especially as a writer (first time i’ve publicly called myself that)- not to compare my writing style to others- or even my style, period.

As a woman, I often wonder how my clothes compare with others, or my hairstyle or my shoes..the list goes on. As a mum, how my children’s behaviour compares to others or how their progress or academic performance is, in comparison to their peers. Or as a Christian, how my life measures up against all the other amazing people i see around me. The thing is, whenever I have allowed myself to dwell in the valley of comparison- whenever I have gone shopping for more, because my trolley doesn’t seem as attractive- I have never come back happier; I have always felt emptier and unhappy about life. And that is the opposite of God’s plan.

I have noticed that whenever the need to compare comes in, it is most always, for me, rooted in fear. Fear that whatever aspect of life I feel the need to measure simply doesn’t measure up.

But that is simply not the truth. The truth is God has a plan for you as He does for me. And it is good, and exciting, but most importantly, it is unique. Comparison whispers the lie that the plan that He has for others is better- in fact the plan that He has for me is just as good and it is tailor. In a world that is inviting us to go compare, I feel instead that the antidote is gratitude. Because there is always someone wishing that they had what you had, comparing their lives to yours.

So instead of going off to compare, what can you be grateful for today?

My heartbeat

I am a passionate lover of people. Once, when asked in an interview what my greatest strength was, I answered, unashamedly: ‘people’- to the surprise of the serious-faced corporate person across from me. Thankfully she did allow me to elaborate on my answer, and because it was a heartfelt, genuine answer, she bought into it!

I do very much love people. ALL people. I love speaking to the cashier at the supermarket and asking her about her day; I like talking to the lady (or gentleman) sat next to me on the bus, I like smiling at babies and generally always start a conversation with their mums and find out how old their wonderful treasures are, which then leads to questions about their sleep patterns and eventually birth stories.

I guess it helps that I am also incredibly nosy; I hate not being in the know about anything. But I am genuinely interested in everyone’s stories, much to the chagrin of my introverted husband (sorry babe! #notsorry)

As a child, I was always tuned in to conversations that I wasn’t supposed to be listening to; and my parents found this quality about me incredibly dangerous. If they were sharing any information of great importance or secret, I would be listening. And as a child, I generally used to then repeat said confidential information! Not good for a couple who were regularly entrusted with most of their congregation’s secrets!

Growing up, this gift to listen and to be interested opened a lot of doors for me; but it wasn’t always my favourite thing about myself. Sometimes i’d really want to connect with someone. And the best way for me to do that is generally to ask a LOT of questions. And occasionally, people would misinterpret my interest for something not kind. As an interrogation, or as nosiness-and as they’d reject my friendship, this would really hurt. But each and every time, I would always get right back in, talking to people again- because it is my heartbeat.

Someone asked me once how I relax after a long and busy day; yesterday was a long and busy day.

I had spent the morning  with OFSTED and being observed  teaching at College , after picking up my son and dropping him off at home to my tooth-achy husband,  I left for my second (the best in the world )job in the afternoon showing some visitors from Swansea around some projects that we work with in Manchester.

After dropping them off at their accommodation for the night I headed home to eat dinner, spend time with my children and husband and collapse on the sofa with a cup of tea, right? wrong!

After food, I realised that we had a parenting course that I had forgotten about but could cancel- but I am energised BY people. So the thought of giving up an evening of connecting with a new group of parents and exchanging anecdotes about the struggles of parenting was just too much of a temptation for me. So at 7pm, I was back in my car for the fourth time, heading out. To connect. With people. People. My strength. My weakness. My heartbeat.

There are times when I have quite frankly felt like I had nothing to give. Especially when i’m surrounded by people with incredible gifts- people who can sing, dance, people who are incredibly artistic, driven, organised, and efficient. I can quite honestly say that I have never felt efficient.  or organised. The only thing I have ever really felt good at, was talking to people. Little did I know that this was the stick that God had given me that later, He would turn into a staff.

Today, I had the privilege of asking my Swansea visitors what their heartbeat was. It isn’t an easy question to answer. But they both knew what truly makes their heart beat. That thing that makes them feel alive. That makes them feel like they could stay up longer because of it. And when they naturally reversed the question, I didn’t have to think about it- I already knew. Because from a very young age, I have always loved being with people. talking with people. Hearing their stories. Making connections. And that, honestly, makes my heart beat.

What is yours?


Exodus 4: 2-3

Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?”

“A staff,” he replied.

The Lord said, “Throw it on the ground.”


Children play

The children play.

Pieces of rubble become construction bricks, they play.

Plastic bags and leftover strings are transformed into balls, they play.

Ragged clothes become head-scarves that shield hot faces from the scorching sun and still, they play.

Broken down homes replaced by tents become a place where friends are made.

Fetching water and splashing each other in laughter, drowning out the distant sounds of exploding bombs. Oh how they play!

Filling the desert place with innocence, joy and hope.

The children play.

And powerful men play carelessly with their care free lives.


“For I will fight those who fight you, and I will save your children”-Isaiah 49:25


photo credit: AP/Khalil Hamra


Truth or dare

I once heard the story of a woman who was driving along on the motorway and then felt to pull over and go into the services and do a handstand by the coke machine.  Like any sane person,  she ignored the urge and continued to drive but as she got closer to the services the feeling intensified so much that she eventually gave in pulled up to the services,  went into the nearest shop,  found a coke vending machine and proceeded to do a handstand.  Within seconds a woman approached her crying saying that she had just been bargaining with God,  while battling with feelings of suicide.  In a desperate moment of life and death she has asked God to prove to her that He was real and that he cared about her by sending someone into the shop she was in and to have this person do a handstand by the coke machine, otherwise she would kill herself.  So you can imagine the conversation that took place between the two women as they both rediscovered anew the depth of God’s ability to rescue. When I heard this story, I was amazed. But as wonderful as this story is,  it is not the greatest story of God’s rescue. Today, at church, as I sat in a normal Sunday service, God spoke to me powerfully through a story that I have heard so many times and yet was new again to me this morning. Christians know this story so well; a few thousand years ago, in a place not unlike that shop with the hopeless lady,  we too were headed towards certain death unless God proved his existence to us by pulling a powerful trick.  Except it was no trick; He heard our desperation and really sent His son who came and died on a cross,  taking onto himself every shame,  guilt and fear that you and I have ever felt. And three days later he rose again and suddenly we were no longer hopeless. We had hope and a new life. And as I sat in the service today I realised that the story I heard a few years ago about a hopeless woman in a shop is nothing compared to the miracle of a God who answered our cry for a God we can see and came to show us that He is real and because He is real,  there is no need for us to die.  He instead wants us not only to exist but to really live life in colour.  And it’s no trick.  Don’t believe me?  Try him.  Ask him now to prove himself to you.  Go on.  I dare you.

Start with kindness. ..

Before the end of 2015 my husband and I noticed something about ourselves that was both upsetting to realise and humbling to admit.  Amid the busyness of everyday life,  we had forgotten how to speak kindly to each other and to our children.  I first noticed it when we were both helping to get our two ready for school and nursery and ourselves for our work day;  I was in the kitchen ironing a shirt and my husband was telling our distracted six year old to put her tights on, an instruction,  which by now was basically yelled rather than given.  I flinched at the loudness of my husband’s booming voice and immediate knew I didn’t approved of that tone. ..I hate shouting.  So how had this problem come to sit in our house?  Ironically a few minutes later the tables were turned and I was shouting angrily at my children to both stop messing with the fireplace and to locate their shoes.  Didn’t they know we were running LATE? ??
As we walked out of our house that morning I realised two things; we were all angry and we were all unhappy.  It was a terrible lesson in how not to start your day.
That night I came home remorseful about our awful start to the day and tried my best to make it up to my little family.  After the kids went to bed,  my husband and I finally sat down and addressed the elephant in the room.  We had to admit it to each other and to God.  We had turned into angry people,  yelling parents and frankly not nice; individuals. We repented and asked God to help us and to show us where we needed to improve.
The next day and in fact that whole week our days were a little similar but less intense but slowly God began to show both of us areas that needed to change.
As we listened to the holy spirit we realised that kindness was missing massively in our dealing with everyday life. We just wanted things done and quickly,  and didn’t always take care of people involved along the way. And sadly,  God showed us first hand how this was creating a negative impact on the children.  And how a lot of the things we bribed,  begged and coxed them to do could all simply be solved by one ingredient; Kindness.
And so on the first of January 2016,  we felt led to start our days in our house with kindness. What followed both shocked and amazed us.
Before this,  we’d practised memory verses with our children at bedtime. On this occasion though,  we felt God leading us to a specific verse that we were to write on our hearts as a family and use as a basis of our new season.

In Proverbs 16:24 it says: “kind words are a honeycomb;  sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. ”
Because our issues were speaking to the kids unkindly mostly when we were stressed and running late,  we found this verse really helpful in highlighting the importance of reversing this in our house. We wanted our words to be sweet to the soul and to bring healing,  not stress.

We felt led to do two main things:

1. Wake up half an hour earlier and begin our day with 5 minutes of praising God (good word from Ben Jeffrey when he spoke here)- therefore beginning our day with gratitude followed by reading the bible together as husband and wife.
2. Ensuring that every word that left our lips towards children and each other was uplifting.

Now, I have to let you in on two things; our days start early in our house anyway. The kids generally push the doors of our bedroom open between 6:30 and seven,  and generally act as our alarm clock.  The other thing is,  I’m so NOT a morning person.  Honestly.  I am a complete grump. So when I’m woken up,  I’m cranky,  irritated and irritable. So to wake up earlier was probably not going to go down very well with me.
But Jesus is so kind to us, it says in Matt 11:28 that his “yoke is easy and (his) burden light). So when we woke up half an hour earlier,  we would stay in bed and do our devotion from there.  I could handle that.  That was better. Easier.  And on the first day we tried it the children woke up as they generally did but this time,  when they barged into our room,  mummy and daddy were already awake, reading the Bible and in a better mood.  So they crawled into bed with us and snuggled into us as we took turns going through the HTB One Year Bible and devotional.
And that first day,  as we made our way down stairs as we always did,  something small had changed.  And it was lovely. I noticed that I was genuinely smiling as i made my way to breakfast. And I was encouraged and optimistic about our ‘month of kindness. But the following few days,  in fact the first three weeks,  things actually got worse in our house. It seemed that all our efforts to try and be kind were just not working.  I felt more frustrated and angrier than ever. My husband too.  It was terrible.  We’d do well for a few days and then fall off the wagon for a few more. It was like we’d invited anger into our home by deciding to be kind. The first few weeks were just marked with mistakes and constant sorrys often spoken remorsefully after failing to speak kindly.  And we’d hug and start again.  We considered giving up.  But we felt supernaturally pressed to carry on.
And then on day 21, (it takes 21 days to form a habit,  scientists say) as I stood in the kitchen washing the dishes my daughter walked in and began to star jump and shout as she often does and I wasn’t paying that much attention to her until I realised what she was shouting. ..

She was saying “I’m powerful,  I’m wonderful,  I’m smart,  I’m beautiful,  I’m a good sister. ..I’m a good friend. ..” and she went on like that for over ten minutes declaring positive words over herself.  It was remarkable!  As I stood there,  where I’d just been feeling like we were failing this assignment,  tears flowed freely down my face as I realised what God means in the verse when He says that “kind words. ..are healing to the bones”
What a beautiful illustration of why we had to keep doing this!
So the few days after that anger and all negative words began to lessen in our speech and our home.

I’m not saying we’re there yet at all. .I actually wasn’t going to share this as today was a major fail from start to finish. ..we’re still learning.  But as I got ready to deactivate my social media accounts for lent, I felt led to share this for someone who perhaps is on the same journey as us and might be wondering what to give up or take up for lent.  And to genuinely encourage you; why not start with kindness?

Below is a powerful video about the power of kind words…I love it! #KindnessGoals