Summer days bring hours of time missing from the daily grind. Time, that illustrious gift we all desire. Days of running in summer meadows, picking blackberries. Days of building forts and making dams. Hours of fun playing hide and seek among the leafy trees.

Summer is also full of insect bits, hay fever and sibling squabbles, but nothing’s perfect this side of Heaven, so I guess we’ll roll with the seasons and embrace the good bits.

What are the Goldby family up to during these heady summer days? The oldest two boys have ventured north to undertake the NC500, driving the northern tip of Scotland with friends in tow. They’ve eaten and slept under the stars, swam in waterfalls and embraced the exhilaration of youth.

And what of the others? Still more adventures awaited them. Madeleine has ventured forth to the rainy, but very beautiful coast of Wales. She’s been given an amazing opportunity to work and train at a stables where they train horses in liberty work and dressage, think horses doing tricks on film sets. She’s learnt to cook for herself and is thoroughly devouring her first foray into independence.

Elizabeth has thrived at school, where she has been attending for the last two terms. She’s now ready to tackle GCSES and is revelling in her last summer of freedom before the work sets in.

Matthew has built, with Stephen and Hannah’s help, this rather cool fort in the garden. With hand sewn flags, hand carved shields and a super powerful catapult from which they have fired windfall apples. I’ve been as delighted in the team work as I have with the construction, this joint venture seems to have bonded this little team together.

Michael often joins in with these exciting games with his older siblings, but sometimes is content to ride around on his bike with Katie, or build furniture out of logs, cut down from the storms last winter.

Timothy has undertaken the challenge of walking and is delighting us all with his wobbly but determined steps.

Phil continues to juggle small holding life, fatherhood and holding down a full time job, working with folks in the UK, Asia and the U.S., which often means late night meetings and more recently a couple of trips to the Big Smoke. He’s recently being laying cables for the new solar panels we’re fitting, ready to increase our energy independence and hopefully save some money as well.

I’m gaining head space, something I deeply crave. With schoolwork off the summer menu I can consume the delights of time. Time alone and time with less pressure. Space to garden and potter in the greenhouse. I’m loving the weather this summer, warm enough to work outside and cool enough to work in the kitchen…perfect.

Today we’ve picked French beans and covered some unused beds with sheeting, hoping to avoid an invasion of weeds. A friend visited and the children played with her children whilst we chatted and prayed together. What a gift fellowship is, so much more than friendship, a connection on a spiritual level, true sisters.

I’m just thankful for these everyday activities, our life filled with gifts from God. Some days I struggle to focus on the positive and get dragged down into negativity, dwelling on the grumbles, squabbles and plain hard work; but then I pull myself up by my bootstraps and reframe my thoughts. When I put my challenges in perspective I can see them from further off, I can see the patience God is trying to grow in me, the tolerance the children develop for people who push their buttons(their siblings) and I see so much to be thankful for. When I give thanks in everything my mood changes and I see the beauty in the everyday moments.

What are you all up to this summer? Sending you all blessings, Vicki

It’s taken me a while to pluck up the courage to write this blog post. It’s not that I have anything particularly shocking to say, it’s just…well it’s been quite a while since I last wrote and it’s kind of hard to get back in the saddle. I’ve written posts in my head a hundred times and then second guessed myself and thought better of it. I see the outcome of my words and dwell on how they will be received.

My problem is largely perfectionism. A fear of getting something wrong. A fear of offending. A fear of letting my family down.

I think, to an extent I was born this way, but perhaps there was some nurturing involved in the formation of my fears? I see perfectionism in Elizabeth and Jonathan, who are both, in many ways, quite like me. It’s strange seeing aspects of my own personality from the other side.

I see perfectionism can lead to procrastination and can be something of a disability. The reality is that nothing will be perfect this side of Heaven and trying to create perfection will only lead to frustration or pride.

So, instead of perfection, I will have to satisfy myself with good enough. By the Grace of God I pray that something I say will be of use to someone.

I’ve been learning a lot about personalities recently. I have a great interest in the workings of the human mind, what makes us tick. Each of us are unique, but within a family we see overlaps in personality and understanding a little more about why we think or behave the way we do helps us to be the best version of ourselves.

It is my aim to honour God in my thinking and not to overly secularise this topic. God has created each of us and I see that for every weakness there is a strength. For example, Jonathan is a very skilled craftsman and makes beautiful things, but oh my, he is slow. He’ll get the job done, but timing isn’t his specialist subject. Christopher, on the other hand, will have a job done before you’ve even thought of it! It won’t be perfect, but it will be done. The amazing thing is when these two young men work together. The job gets done with efficiency and beauty.

I’ve learnt that I’m a highly sensitive INFP. For those who need that translated, it means I’m an introverted mediator, sensitive to bright lights, sounds and emotional stimuli. I feel all of these things on a deeper level than most people, apparently 20% of people are made this way. Without thinking about I’ve learnt to deal with this by, among other things, having dimmer switches on all our lights, avoiding using the bathroom fan and opening the window instead and avoiding background music. I can’t eliminate all stressful noises (I have ten children😜) but I can recharge regularly by sneeking off for 5 minutes alone. I’ve found having emotional teenagers to be really draining, as I absorb all their feelings, but knowledge is power and so I’m learning to set boundaries to help them and preserve my sanity.

The flip side to this is that I’m deeply empathetic. For example, during the lockdowns, when everyone was clapping on doorsteps and baking banana bread, I was churning inside, thinking about children living with abusive parents, unable to escape. I prayed for children with alcoholic parents, children who took responsibility for caring for their siblings in the absence of parents who had to work.

Carrying around so many feelings is often exhausting and yet it means I have to draw so close to God, to hand over everything that weighs me down, to trust that he watches over everyone and he hears my prayers.

But God created us to be part of a body and no one part is better than the other, we need each other in order to thrive.

In our marriage I see that Phil is a doer, not a feeler and I’m so grateful for this. Whilst I’m busy dwelling on the problems of the world, he’s busy fixing them. I share my concerns with him and he’s the first to ask what can be done. When I had the vision of living on this smallholding, Phil was busy working out the finances and practicalities.

Recently Phil has been laying cables ready to install some solar panels, enabling us to rely less on the grid and preparing our family for the days ahead.

Marriage and family can be a beautiful picture of God’s body, the key is perspective. We need to look at situations from a distance, see the bigger picture and in everything give thanks.

I’m still working on this…I’ll let you know how it goes.

What about you? Have you done a Myers Briggs personality test, this one is free

Are any of you highly sensitive? Here’s a test

I’d love to hear from you if any of this resonates with you.

Sending blessings to you all, Vicki

He was sitting with a Gin and Tonic in hand, relaxing back in his chair, watching the celebrations unfolding, unaware of the tornado of fun spinning his way, ready to sweep into his life and turn it upside down. His sensible and predictable life was about to change forever.

As the music played, a young girl came spinning in his direction, losing her balance she fell into his lap, looking up into his eyes she declared, “you’re lovely!” And the rest, as they say, is history.

That was me, twenty-five years ago today. Admittedly I’d had a more than my fair share of Malibu (what was I thinking) and may have not been entirely sober, but God orchestrated my steps and allowed me to fall into the safest pair of arms.

In three days time we’ll celebrate our twenty-second wedding anniversary, but there’s something about the anniversary of the day we met which brings me particular joy. Our wedding day was organised by us, but I feel like our meeting was entirely organised by God. It was a meeting made in Heaven and I think the angels were smiling that day.