After my somewhat melancholy post last week I thought I’d step into a more joy-filled sphere and share what we’ve been up to.

Christopher has been home for a few weeks, whilst waiting for his new job to start. It’s been absolutely wonderful having him home. He’s been an enormous help with all the big jobs on the land and he’s just been a joy to have around. He’s 21 now and it seems that maturity has really begun to take a hold. He’s thankful, polite, kind, helpful and everything I pray my children grow up to be. It gives me such hope, because he was a really challenging child, full of energy and very difficult to engage with schoolwork. It’s so good to see all that energy being put to good use helping us and also when he’s working on the farm where he’s now employed. God had a great plan when he gave us our little whirlwind, but we didn’t know that on the tough days when his frustration would wear us all out.

Jonathan and Christopher recently climbed Scarfell Pike, another opportunity to use their boundless energy. Jonathan was on his way back from a trip to Scotland, as part of his degree, and Christopher met up with him, so that they could meet the challenge of climbing England’s highest mountain. They took a very difficult route, in the snow and with 80 mile an hour winds, but they made it and built a deeper friendship with one another in the process.

Madeleine is loving college and is now home for Easter. A couple of days ago, Jonathan was on his way back from Portsmouth and he spontaneously decided to pick Madeleine up from college and he took her out for dinner. These are the moments that warm this mother’s heart and give me strength to keep going. To know that my children are friends with one another means so much and fills me with joy.

Elizabeth and Madeleine chose to go shopping together today. It’s interesting seeing their different styles emerging and watching them banter over whose style is best! In all the jokes over town versus country style, they still seem to enjoy each other’s company.

Matthew, Hannah and Stephen are busy making a film with some of their home educating friends. Together they have written a script and are busy making costumes, props and learning editing skills. This is all on top of their schoolwork, but seems to be teaching them a huge amount, all without my input, it’s a win win.

Michael, Katie and Timothy are currently into den building and love making dens out of cushions. Now the weather is warming up they are all going outside to play a lot more (I’m always relieved when Spring arrives). Katie and Michael use our driveway as we used to use our street, riding their bikes up and down, without me needing to watch them every second. I’m so grateful for God’s provision of our drive, and land, which gives the children the freedom they need to thrive. Timothy has recently made firm friends with the sheep, who have taken up residence in the field behind our house. Everyone in the family takes it in turns to take him outside, so that he can watch his ‘baas’ (he can’t say sheep yet!).

Phil and I are as ever very busy, but knowing we are doing what God has called us to gives us both peace, even in the storms. We are a team and together, with God at the centre, each day seems to work out. God is good.

I asked the children if I’d ever done anything to help with the process of them becoming friends and one thing did stand out. I’ve always taught the children to appreciate the unique gifts each of us has and to work together as a team. If we can embrace the differences and work with them, we can get lots more done and find value in each and every person. It’s a work in progress and sometimes the differences spark frustration, but on the whole I think this approach has considerable merit. The other thing I do consistently is pray. I pray for each of them to become friends, to value their differences, to love each other and for each of them to put Christ first in their lives. None of us can really get along with awkward people unless Jesus helps us and there is often no one more awkward than siblings. With all these different personalities, it is Jesus who becomes the most essential family member, to keep the peace and by His spirit to help us all to love one another.

Raising our large family is a huge blessing and one I never expected, it’s a daily challenge, but I’d have it no other way. With Jesus at the heart of all we do, it’s a blessed life and a brilliant adventure.

I like it keep it real and I could mention, children squabbling, endless washing, never enough time and yet those things really aren’t important. When we look at the big picture it’s really beautiful and the difficulties we experience add character to the canvas of our lives. If I had my choice, I would do it all again in a heartbeat. I thank God for giving us the faith and the strength to do what He has called us to do.

Sending blessings to you all, Vicki

If you want to receive regular updates, please subscribe to the blog. You can also follow us on Instagram at goldbyfamilybusydays

It’s been a while since I last wrote, as I find some things must be thought and not communicated, thus the silence from my pen. Thoughts have been whirling round my mind, permeating my heart, some breaking it and others healing. Matthew (aged 13) often reminds me, when he’s tidying, that you have to break the egg before you make the omelette, and that’s never truer than when you are unpicking the strands of the past.

Sometimes memories open up and perhaps, to continue the metaphor, we need to allow God to make the omelette in order to see why he allowed them to break out of their shell in the first place.

I personally find memories locked away far less troublesome than ones which spill out and whisk around my mind. And yet…I’m beginning to see God forming something beautiful from the broken past I’ve recalled. Our God wastes nothing, and there’s nothing we have done, or been through, which he won’t ultimately use for our good and his glory.

One of the difficulties I have had, which I feel able to share, has been with my name. Vicki. Victoria Charlotte. It’s a pleasant enough name, but I was struggling to take ownership of it and I couldn’t fathom why. Phil calls me Sweetheart, to the children I’m Mum or Mummy, to my sister I’m Vicks and to my dad I was Wix. The last person, who really loved me, to regularly use my name was my mum. That was over 30 years ago, before she passed away. Vicki was important to her, loved and wanted, and yet when she died, so, in some ways, at least by name, did Vicki. It seems here lay the root of my issue. Mum and I were a very attached pair. I have the sweetest memories of sitting in bed with her, as her illness progressed, just cuddling. I loved those last months in many ways, she was finally not busy and had time to just be. It’s a lesson I try and remember when I’m running round after the children, they don’t need me to be super mum, they just need me to be present and full of love.

Realising that this problem with my name needed fixing, I asked God to help me embrace the name I was given, for God says, in Isaiah 43, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.

My parents may have chosen my name, but in His sovereignty, God guided their choices. So in many ways this is God’s name for me. It was only after research that I discovered the real meaning behind my name, Victoria Charlotte. It means, victorious free woman. I love that. In Corinthians God says that we have, ‘the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’, and then in in Galatians 5 we are reminded that, ‘It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.’ Yes, I am free in Christ from sin and all the consequences of it, both my own sin and the sins of those who have sinned against me. I am also victorious, because in Jesus we have victory over sin, both past, present and future.

What is it that damages each of us? It’s sin, it’s the consequences of living in a fallen world. Death, sickness and emotional pain are all consequences of the Fall. Even those who have had an idyllic childhood are not immune to the effects of sin. The wonderful news is that Christ is the antidote. By handing over everything, past, present and future to Him, we can be free. All pain, physical, emotional or mental won’t necessarily disappear, but we will have the grace to no longer be slaves to it, we need no longer, ‘be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.’ (Galatians 5:1).

As I have navigated my way through these stormy memories I have constantly felt God’s presence at the helm and finally I think I might have spotted land ahead, a green and pleasant land.

I have found hope, and like the hope of Spring, it is not a vague hope, but a certainty that brighter days are ahead.

I do love hearing from you all, so please feel free to share whatever you feel led to, I know it will be a blessing to each of us.

Sending blessings to each of you, Vicki

If you want to receive updates please subscribe to the blog, you can also follow us on Instagram at goldbyfamilybusydays

I’ve recently found my head swirling with long forgotten thoughts, thoughts so deeply buried, so intentionally hidden that their surfacing has rocked me. It’s got me thinking about the solutions the world offers to help us cope with emotional and mental pain and then to consider how, as Christians, we might respond in these situations.

Memories from childhood are often a blur of loosely connected events, combined to create a recipe of flavours unique to each child, some sweet and some which leave a bitter taste. Even within the same family, memories are interpreted through the individual lens of each member, each affected differently by the events and people surrounding them.

Our present reality cannot be experienced outside of the confines of our mind’s childhood memories. Sometimes we subconsciously mirror our own childhood and other times we will seek to live in the opposite way, with the intention of breaking away from the past and living in a new and better way.

If our childhood was unhappy the world tells us that our past will forever disable our future. Modern psychology doesn’t fit Jesus into the equation; they just add adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) together and the number produced (0-10) will tell you whether or not you will have a happy and successful life. I’ve done the quiz and I know that there is hope beyond their prognosis.

The outcome for adults who have suffered many ACEs is a cocktail of mental health issues, addictions and physical ailments. Even with years of therapy, CBT and various drugs, the prognosis for such individuals is grim. There’s a better way though, a way which offers freedom from the past. It’s a way that Mary Magdalene found and we can find it too. That way is found through Jesus Christ.

Jesus didn’t just come to save us from our sins, but also to heal our wounds. ‘He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds’ Psalm 147:3, Jesus came, ‘to set the oppressed free’, Luke 4:18 and ‘He daily bears our burdens’, Psalm 68:19.

When we have gone through pain, we don’t need to suffer alone, but we can take our memories and ask Jesus to the heal the consequences of those experiences. He won’t just put a sticking plaster over them, but he will wash them and His love will gradually soothe them and heal them, so that these events don’t break us, but they become the conduit for his love to us and through us, to others. Our suffering, when put into the hands of Jesus transforms into something extraordinary.

Our suffering is never wasted; instead he uses it to shape us, to soften us and in our vulnerability we can honestly say that we are nothing without Christ. It is at that point of vulnerability that he can truly be glorified through us. It’s at the end of our healing journey that we see the beauty in what he’s allowed, for it is then that, ‘we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God’ (2 Corinthians 1:4).

Practically speaking though, how do we move forward, when memories from the past begin to overwhelm us, and we feel like we’re drowning? With Jesus as our guide, prayer becomes even more essential, for in the darkness we must cling to the light, even if it seems to be just a glimmer. Sometimes we only have the strength for an arrow prayer, but, however small our prayerful offering, God hears and answers.

During my darkest nights, as I’ve lain awake with memories knotting together in my stomach, I have recited Psalm 23 over and over. One night recently I was doing this and I got up, opened my Bible, with the hope of some comfort and immediately fell upon Psalm 23. Yes, he was there during that night and as the Psalmist says, ‘he restores my soul’. There is no greater peace than the certainty of knowing that God sees you and cares about everything you’re going through. That morning I wept, as the feeling of safety engulfed me, safe in the arms of the One who saw everything and weeps with me.

He’s not just there for me, but for you too. If you are going through your own ‘valley of the shadow of death’, please know that Jesus is with you and he’ll get you through this. You aren’t alone.

If I can pray for you, please let me know in the comments.

Sending blessings to you all, Vicki

If you want to receive regular updates on the blog, please subscribe, you can also follow us on Instagram at goldbyfamilybusydays.

Dare I say it out loud? I’m not sure it can be said in polite Western society. I am not a Christmas fan. There I did it, admitted my secret thoughts.

Christmas growing up wasn’t filled with memories that I treasure. Perhaps I knew that Santa, presents, chocolate and television weren’t the essence of Christmas? Perhaps I just missed eating meals at conventional times or maybe I felt overstimulated by the music and the excess of everything? Deep down I know it’s more than that.

Christmas as a smaller child was all about the big man in the clouds, the one who’d watched me all year and had my name written in his big book. Once I came of age and the reality faced me, what was left of Christmas? No Santa, no Christmas?

I remember the first Christmas without mum, I was still a child but not yet a Christian and the pointlessness of the day rattled through my bones. We opened presents after Midnight Mass, why wait for the morning, why keep tradition? Money was tight and every gift felt an unnecessary expense, wasted on a day we could just pass by. Passing it by seemed easier, the pain less noticeable if we could just pretend. That’s my coping skill, just smile and keep saying you’re fine. Fake it ‘til you make it.

But God reached into that brokenness and showed me a real man who would return on the clouds of glory, who has written my name in His book and who doesn’t just watch me but he lives in me, loving me back to wholeness. Jesus is the only one who can give us each the Christmas present we really need. He offers us the gift of himself, we just need to accept that gift.

Why then is it that Christmas is still so uncomfortable for me? Surely with Jesus at the centre everything is wonderful? The reality is that healing is a process and none of us will be completely whole this side of Heaven, but each day God continues to work on our hearts, continues to draw us to himself.

Each year I stuff down those old painful memories and put on top the Jesus filled, family focused Christmas we desire for our family. The problem is, the memories keep rising back up and fill my stomach with butterflies. I think perhaps saying it out loud to you all is the first step in letting go of the past. I guess I have to admit the hurt exists in order to ask Jesus to heal it.

In an effort to break generational patterns Phil and I are writing a new story onto the hearts of our children, a true story, one which they won’t grow out of but they’ll grow deeper into. The truth of Jesus Christ is so much more beautiful than the childhood tale of the man with the stuff-filled sack.

Christmas is hard for so many people and although I don’t want to dampen anyone’s joy, I want to be real. It’s easy to see the images of saccharine-sweet families, seemingly perfect and joy-filled and yet the reality is so often different. My prayer this year is that God uses my brokenness to reach into the lives of those who know pain, who carry emotional scars and for whom Christmas is filled with darkness.

It was into the darkness that Jesus was born, to bring light, hope, joy and salvation. His love is what carries me and it can carry you too, you just need to receive it, and that would be the only present you would ever need.

Sending you all love and blessings this Christmas time.

If you want to receive regular updates please subscribe to the blog or follow us on Instagram at goldbyfamilybusydays.

Motherhood is hard. From morning sickness to teenage meltdowns, the challenges are endless. The world offers mothers criticism and guilt, but rarely praise and encouragement. Social media is filled with fake glimpses of people’s lives, shielding us from their reality, but giving us a false picture to aspire to.

Some mums seem to have it all together and if only we follow their suggestions we too can have children who fall in line. Really? I’m not buying that. Children are unique and so are their parents and therefore each family will need to go to their creator, our Lord Jesus Christ, and ask him for parenting advice. The Bible is full of parenting advice but it’s also full of grace.

If we are to use the Bible as our number one parenting handbook, then we need to submerge every rule in grace. We need to allow the living waters of God’s love to become the conduit of those guidelines, as they soak into the hearts of our children.

Yes, we need rules, but rules without grace will only harden the hearts of our children and give them a false picture of the God of all grace.

God forgives us and shows us endless mercy, he also disciplines us out of love, but thankfully not for every misdemeanour, and so that’s our parenting model.

I recently learnt that the ‘discipline for every misdemeanour’ school of parenting was still alive and thriving in parts of the Christian world. I naively was shocked by this because this is definitely not my style of parenting.

So the question is, how to discipline a child without harsh punishment? And how does discipline work in the Goldby house? Our approach is that we explain something is wrong and that there are consequences (often extra household jobs) for wrong behaviour, we model what is right and explain what the behaviour we expect is. It might involve removing a child from the situation and then setting them up for success by changing the ongoing scenario. For example if the children are arguing over toys I would explain that it’s wrong to argue, I would encourage sharing, but if that fails then we change the activity. I would probably set them an age appropriate household job to change the mood. I also use this as a time to share the gospel story about giving extra to the one who asks.

I know that Christ has shown me so much grace, whenever I’ve taken a wrong turn, he has lovingly guided me back to the narrow path and this is how I choose to parent. I guess the phrase might be parenting by grace, not legalism. I fear that the harsh disciplinarian style of parenting teaches children to be outwardly well behaved, but doesn’t transform their hearts, only grace can do that.

The gospel is all about grace and so that is at the centre of everything I want to communicate to our children.

I’m writing this as a way of thinking through these concepts, as I never feel truly confident that I’ve figured parenting out. I know I’m a soft touch, as I really struggle with confrontation, but I do expect obedience and mostly we get it, even if we get grumbles first! We don’t get obedience through harsh parenting, but through trying to set a good example, reminding them of our expectations and reminding them that there are consequences if they step over the line, like removal of phones for the teens or no screen time for the littles, or straight to bed if necessary. We focus on the big issues and let go of some of the petty squabbles.

I also think that bad behaviour has causes other than just sin. Often children are more badly behaved when they are tired, hungry or bored and so, where possible, I will try and make sure these needs are met and thus avert many issues that would otherwise occur.

I haven’t mentioned Phil much in this and I think fathers have an essential role to play in discipling (yes discipling, not just disciplining) their children. The route word of discipline is disciple and so that would be our goal, to have children who want to follow our example, as we try to lead them on the narrow path, pointing them to Christ. Of course we do have boundaries and Phil is better than me at maintaining them, I’m grateful everyday to be a team in this parenting challenge.

For us, our main goals would be that our children love God, love one another and are servant hearted, so everything we do would be to encourage those things.

How about you, what are your childhood experiences of discipline or your parenting discipline choices? Maybe you don’t agree with our way, that’s ok, we’re all different. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

Blessings to you all.

If you’d like to receive email alerts when a new blog is sent out, do subscribe to the blog. You can also follow us on Instagram at goldbyfamilybusydays .

I’m Vicki and I’m a perfectionist. I can’t do anything by half, I’m an all in kind of girl. I gain no pleasure from a job done quickly but which is rough around the edges.

Motherhood has given me many opportunities to express my perfectionism, be it washing Terry nappies instead of using disposables, cooking everything from scratch, making dressing up costumes, making cards or Christmas presents. I love to grow, pick, prepare and eat our homemade produce all the while passing on these skills to our children. For years it seemed I was doing quite well, holding it all together.

And then we moved to the country, we built a much bigger house, fitted a new energy system, had another baby, got livestock and we’re still not finished. Everyday is different, perfectionism has become impossible.

My perfectionism is dying by a thousand tiny cuts, a thousand letting goes, a thousand moments of grief. Each time I see a drawer full of unfolded clothes I wince, or books on the floor, or shoes left out, or a vegetable garden hiding beneath the weeds.

Caring for my family brings me so much joy but I’ve realised that my desire for perfection is stealing that joy.

Thankfully, but painfully, God won’t leave me wallowing in my pride, taking pleasure in my achievements. He’s calling me to something deeper.

He wants the deepest parts of me, the parts that lie beneath the achievements everyone sees, to let go and to let God do all that I can’t do. I’ve spent years believing that through sheer effort of will I can make everything beautiful. Who was I fooling? Certainly not God. He’s bided his time, allowing me to enjoy the temporary satisfaction of my labours and then he’s swooped in, pulled the rug from under me and I’m still falling.

I know I’ll keep falling until I stop looking at the unfinished jobs around me and start looking up, up to the One who has given me all these tasks.

I know in my head that God doesn’t expect me to do everything perfectly this side of Heaven, so why do I expect it of myself? I think it’s a heart issue, it’s asking myself the question, is my joy found in my achievements or is it found in God? I’m learning that I need to let him into the mess, let him see what he already sees, and admit I can’t do it.

Admit my failings.

That’s hard to say and the difficulty I have saying that, shows my pride. I often think that I’ve done that, told God how hard this is, but I’m not sure the deepest part of me has fully relinquished everything to Him. I need to only do that which I can do, all the while praying to the One who will multiply my efforts and create more beauty than I could ever dream or imagine.

‘God is the God who makes all things beautiful in his time’ Ecclesiastes 3:11, He is the ultimate artist, the perfect creator.

I love to create beauty in everything, from my words to the children’s clothes, hairstyles, soft furnishings, homemade gifts, home cooked meals or cakes. I know that the desire for all of this beauty comes from God, but I suspect I am looking for beauty in all the wrong places.

I was out taking pictures for this blog post when I happened upon the raspberry canes. I thought they were finished for the season and now it was just weeds and thistles taking over but on closer inspection there were multiple sweet raspberries just waiting to be picked. I’d been so busy looking at the weeds that I almost missed them.

I think that’s the lesson God wants me learn today. He doesn’t want me to look at the mess, to focus on the big picture, he wants me to see the beauty that I’m missing whilst I’m stressing about the mess. I suspect that beauty will be found in the faces of the people living in this home. If I can pause long enough, I might just see what God sees and I know that will bring me real joy.

Sending blessings to you all, Vicki

If you want to receive an email when a new post comes out please subscribe to the blog. You can also follow us on Instagram at goldbyfamilybusydays.

Our home education ethos can be summed up with the phrase, ‘Raising children to embrace their place in the Body of Christ’. In fact this is the topic we will be sharing about at the ‘Chess’ home education conference, at the end of the month.

So how does this play out in our day to day life? Education begins the moment our children are born. In many ways I wouldn’t call it education, more facilitation, for my job is not merely to impart knowledge upon these new creations, it is to reveal their hidden characters and then foster the skills God has graciously imparted upon them. For none of us really ‘teach’ our children to feed, walk or talk, but we live alongside our children, demonstrating how to eat, encouraging their efforts to step forward and embedding them in a world of conversation, including them before they can reply. Is that education? I think so, but not in the traditional sense. And so begins the journey of raising and educating our children, without sudden interruption at 4 years old, the age of formal schooling, but an organic process where they lead the way into the next stage they are ready for.

So how do I help them uncover their God-given gifts? It is in the silence of those moments, the ones when they don’t know you’re watching them, that you can see the early formation of their personality. The activity that draws and holds them, consumes their unplanned time, that is the beginning of seeing the unwrapped present hidden within each child.

Here’s a real life example. When our eldest was about 7 months old he started crawling and from that moment on I couldn’t keep him away from the tech equipment. Once, when he was 9 months old, we had a 5 hour car journey and I knew I needed to keep our wriggly boy still and quiet for a long time. The week before we left I popped into the jumble sale and bought an old Walkman, with headphones to push in and pull out, a tape to put in and out, a travel plug and adapter to put together and separate, an old calculator and a remote control with no batteries in it. It was so obvious at this stage what he was ‘into’ and baby toys were just not going to cut it. Moving forwards ten years and he was setting up the hifi amps and rigging torches to the ceiling lights for the sound and lighting for our family ‘shows’, which the children used to put on daily.

Moving forward to present day and he has recently spent a week organising the sound and lighting for our Christian home education holiday for 400 plus people.

Our other adult son is Jonathan, who is now 18. When he was 3 he was junk modelling buildings, colouring immaculately and doing huge puzzles upside down. I remember saying to Phil that he might have the skills to be an architect. He spent much of his childhood building go carts, treehouses and models. This term he has started his Degree apprenticeship in Architecture.

Not every child has such easily discernible gifts, but every child is gifted at something. I see it as my job to help our children unwrap their gift and then help them to develop it.

Each child we home educate will have a basic grounding in the 3 Rs, but they will also have many free hours to pursue their individual interests.

Coming forward to look at our current home educated children and again I can see particular interests on display. Matthew, Hannah and Stephen have been making costumes for their battle re-enactments. They were inspired by a reenactment we recently attended at a nearby castle and since then all things historical and battle-worthy have consumed their free hours. They learn so much more when they lead than they could ever learn when I ‘feed’ them information. Home education is often described as lighting a fire rather than filling a bucket.

One of the most fun parts of parenthood is when I get to see the creativity of God in each unique person he’s created. What a privilege it is to have a part in watching him ‘sculpt’ one of his masterpieces.

If you want receive an email when I put up a new post do subscribe to the blog. You can also follow us on Instagram at goldbyfamilybusydays.

Sending blessings to you all, Vicki

We’re currently away on a Christian home education holiday. There are hundreds of us here, all forging our own paths in a world going in the opposite direction. I’ve been speaking to many new home educating mums this week and their questions often remind me of questions I asked many years ago, when we began this journey.

I thought I’d answer these questions on the blog, so that the answers are here for me to point anyone to, should they ask. I’ve started at the beginning…

What led you to home educate?

First and foremost it was a God led decision. I was always somewhat alternative in my thinking and having trained at Norland I could see that play was indeed the very best way for young children to learn. I passionately believe that children don’t need to start formal education until around 6, which is when they start in many European countries, with excellent long term results. I also feel that children are all unique and their education should ideally reflect this.

With all these high ideals in mind I posed the home education question to Phil. He cut me down at the first hurdle, telling me, in no uncertain terms, to leave the subject alone. So I committed to not speaking about home education to Phil, but praying fervently for God to put us on the same page.

Phil put up several hurdles, which he only told me about months later, God knocked each and every one down. Hurdle one was about his working hours. He was very concerned that I wouldn’t have time to teach Maths adequately and he would want to have an input into this subject, as it’s his area of expertise. He therefore would want to work at home a couple of days a week. Within a few weeks of my prayer mission his boss asked him, out of the blue, if he would like to work part time from home!

Hurdle two was money. Phil was aware that resources for home education would come with a cost and he would need a pay rise to cover that. Again within a few weeks he had been given a very generous pay rise, and this occurred around the time of the 2008 financial crisis, another miracle.

Hurdle three was university. He wanted our children to have the opportunity to go to university, should they be academically inclined. Phil was, at the time travelling frequently to America, he happened on this occasion to be in Boston and met up with a friend who worked at Harvard. He posed a home education question to his friend, this question was about what universities thought of home educated students. The answer he received was not what he expected. He was told that the university loves home educators because they are self motivated thinkers who ask great questions. From his friend’s perspective the unique home based environment had better prepared these students for university than elitist schools! God was certainly on the move, not that I, as yet, knew anything about this.

I had asked God not only to change Phil’s heart, if home education was the right path for us, but I had also laid one more fleece. I was determined that this decision must be mutual, for we would come across difficulties and I never wanted to have Phil say, “this was your decision, you deal with it”. So I asked God to get Phil to ask me if we could home educate, then I would know for sure that this was God’s will.

Well….two months after our initial conversation, I experienced one of our first amazing answers to prayer. Phil sat me down and asked me if we could home educate the children, just like that! Well you could have knocked me down with a feather. I’d prayed with just a mustard seed of faith, but God had answered and had shown Phil his heart for us on this matter.

Now everyday that we have a struggle I can look back on that evening knowing that God chose this path for us and I can move forward without doubt, safe in the knowledge that this is God’s best plan for our children.

Long before the days of social media, and LGBTQ rights taught to infants, long before lockdowns were even a thought, God called us to home educate. Long before these challenges came along he protected our children, he knew what would be best for them. In many ways we were just following God, unsure of of the path ahead, but simply trusting that he promises good things for those who trust him. He hasn’t let us down. He has good plans for us and good plans for you. What’s he calling you to today?

If you enjoyed this post and don’t already subscribe, just click on the link at the top of the page. You can also follow us on Instagram at goldbyfamilybusydays.

Sending blessings to you all, Vicki

I’ve never really thought about the concept of frugality and creativity being bedfellows until today, but it’s a thought that’s been banging on the door of my mind and today I let it in.

I often think about the gifts God has blessed people with, but rarely give thought to the gifts he’s given me. I find myself frequently feeling inadequate as I line myself up against people who are better educators or more organised, but God didn’t give us all, all the gifts, but we’re all good at something.

I’m going to have a shot at being honest, without bragging, I think I’m quite good at creative frugality. So what is it?

It’s the basic idea that the less you have to work with, the more creative you have to be.

This plays out in every part of my life and it’s so instinctive that I never realised it was a gift.

Let’s take cooking as an example. I love to be creative with the contents of the fridge. I take no delight in buying food for a specific recipe, but I find it immensely satisfying to take some slightly worn out vegetables, slowly caramelise them with potatoes and onions, add milk to near the top add some stock and cream and blend…mmm, everyone gobbles it up and I know it’s cost us pennies and is full of home cooked goodness. I love to add croutons on the side, using left over bread and then maybe add in some cheese scones (to make the most of the oven) as they only take up regular store cupboard/fridge ingredients.

I take no pleasure in buying anything I can make, but I am aware that time sometimes insists upon it. During pregnancy and early baby days I’ve bought more and created less, due to exhaustion, but that was the season and that was a compromise well worth making.

Now Timothy is walking and starting to sleep better I am finding windows of time where I am prioritising more home cooking. I’ve begun to realise that my creative outlet doesn’t need to begin when the children go to bed, but it is intertwined into every hour of my day.

Cooking can take up hours each day, but I can often delight in those hours, if I’m making use of leftovers and creating something from practically nothing. Muffins are one of my favourite ways to use left over fruit and they make a great breakfast. Sometimes I make them the night before if we have to rush out in the morning.

Outside of cooking I love sourcing clothes or furniture off Facebook marketplace. I’ve just bought a bundle of clothes for Timothy for £5, they would have cost nearer £80, if I’d bought them new.

I love making fancy dress costumes instead of buying them off the internet. My favourite memory about costumes was the day of a nativity play and our little ‘angel’ was running to the car and fell splat in the mud, her white costume now more suited to being a donkey. What was I to do, we had no time to dither? I sent up an arrow prayer, grabbed a white pillow case, folded it in half and cut a semi circle for the head, the same for arms and we were off, newly dressed white angel in tow! We may not have the costumes that all the other kids have, but we have unique outfits made with love (thankfully the children never seem to mind my creations 😉).

I even enjoy folding Terry square nappies, as opposed to disposables, it’s like origami for bottoms 😂.

Here are some of the other things I have done to add frugality and creativity into our lives: homemade pizza,

nuggets and burgers instead of their frozen counterparts, homemade cakes, especially celebration cakes.

I’ve made a few pieces of clothes, headscarves, a modest boy leg swimsuit (think Minnie Mouse colours with floaty sleeves) and a christening gown, I would love to make more, as time allows.

I love to repurpose old worn out clothes and sheets, turning them into dressing up costumes, dolls clothes or skirts. We also love to make presents and cards.

I’m really excited to be growing more of our own food and learning how to use and preserve it. I think this will keep me going for years, creating new ways to use it all and developing new skills in gardening, cooking and preserving.

I’m not a modern eco zealot, but before it became a ‘thing’ I was a person who wanted to live lightly. I want to leave a positive impact on this world, not a negative one. I know I have high ideals and it’s not always possible to achieve them, but it’s an aim and we won’t get anywhere if we don’t aim somewhere.

The thing that I most enjoy is creating under constraints. For example when we’ve forgotten someone’s birthday and I don’t have time to buy anything, or when we have unexpected guests and I need to multiply the meal. I just find it fun to think on my feet and come up with a plan.

I feel so blessed that I get to use the skills God’s given me everyday in my role as mum and homemaker. I’m not sure if my skills would be useful in many other settings, but I know that God created me for this job and gave me the skills to do it, if I lean on him.

What’s your thing, what do you love to do?

Sending blessings to you all, Vicki

Unpeel the silken layers of perceived serenity, the contented smile, the calm responses to whining children, just beneath the surface can lie a churning whirlpool of fear.

Stomach churning, chest so tight that breathing comes in only short breaths and mind clouded, all sense hidden by the fear of something which doesn’t even exist.

Anxiety, the foe which follows me around, hiding in corners, awaiting his moment to pounce and steal my peace. I knew he was there, I’ve felt his eyes boring into me for weeks, watching my every move, seeing the chinks in my armour. He’s an evil genius, he knows just where to strike to cause me maximum damage.

This week he went for it, he found my Achilles’ heel and took me down, almost drowning me in a sea of fear.

For a few days I wrestled with him and he seemed to be winning. I tried to pray, but to no avail, I was consumed with fear, irrational fear.

I’ve spent weeks transferring my anxieties from one thing to the next, a sure sign that it was anxiety that gripped me and not genuine concerns. I suspect my hormones are struggling as Timothy weans, as it’s not the first time I’ve felt this terror.

Why would I be afraid? My God loves me, I have nothing to fear.

Sadly I know all too well that he allows his children to suffer. My childhood was peppered with pain, death, financial crises, walking on egg shells, feeling invisible after Mum died, as Dad threw himself into his own life, his own grief, and I just felt like a giant inconvenience.

God’s allowed me to suffer before, so he could allow it again.

Is that it then, is that why I’m afraid, is the inner child in me still frightened? Maybe. Perhaps it’s just hormones, or my highly sensitive personality, after all God’s healed me of my pain from the past, hasn’t he?

I often feel guilty when I’m afraid. I shouldn’t feel this way, I’m a child of God. Where’s my faith? Perfect love drives out fear, doesn’t it?

I feel guilty because I feel, at that moment, unable to be full of joy and yet, as Christians, aren’t we supposed to have joy in all circumstances?

You see, I was wrestling. Satan wanted to bring me down, to whisper these doubts into my ear, to whisper fears and gradually turn up the volume until the noise of my fears drowned out the voice of God. God’s still small voice was always calling me, but FEAR and DOUBT were shouting.

Finally it came to a head on Wednesday, tears choked my voice as I pushed them back, I was broken, but then God intervened.

Wednesday was my prayer night with my ever faithful prayer partner, Jennifer. I shared the emotional horrors of my week and she prayed, bringing me before God’s throne and petitioning him on my behalf.

It was like the mist cleared, my senses sharpened, my mind became still. The wind and the waves of fear listened to God and obeyed him, the storm in my mind subsided.

God gave me a new perspective on the problem that I’d blown out of all proportion, the one which appeared unsolvable. God cleared the confusion from my thoughts and showed me the way forward. It was so simple, why hadn’t I thought of it already? Panic is no friend of clear thinking.

The battle for my peace is over, as if it had never occurred, except for the immense gratitude I feel towards God for saving me once again.

I know Anxiety is waiting just around the corner, he’s been forced into retreat, for now, but he’ll have another go, next time I need to be better prepared.

I’d best put on the full armour of God to defeat this enemy, he’s a wily one and determined too, he knows anxiety is the sin which so easily trips me up.

‘Therefore since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.’ Hebrews 12:1

‘Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.’ Ephesians 6:11.

I have learnt through this that prayer may not change the situation but it can change our perspective and that, for me, changed everything.

Sending blessings to you all, Vicki

You can follow us on Instagram at goldbyfamilybusydays and do subscribe to the blog if you want to be notified when I send out a new post.