Being Present 366

Happy New Year :)

I've been given a challenge for this year and it's beginning here, today. 

I've found myself recently sliding into patterns of ingratitude and impatience and it's not been pretty. I have to face, like many other people do, that everything I do for the rest of my life will feel like it's got big holes in it, and that as great as every experience is, I know deep down it could be better if things had been different. But what I was doing at the end of last year was focusing on those holes. Mainly the people I miss, but also those other holes we all have - the stuff we're not good at, and the things that are not perfect. I think without a partner to balance those things out, they now seem so much bigger and insurmountable to me. So I tell myself constantly that I have more responsibilities than time to look after them and get stressed at the kids for not understanding that. I've been noticing what I don't like about my writing, and therefore have left a dozen unfinished blog posts because they weren't perfect enough. I haven't invited people round because my house wasn't tidy enough. I've focused in on every incomplete task at the end of the day instead of the ones I did accomplish, etc, etc, etc. 

Subconsciously the way I've been dealing with those holes is to either keep looking back and wishing things were different, or taking myself somewhere else in my head where I don't have to look at my life as it is now. Of course, neither of those things are useful, and there is another way - a better way.

The challenge God has given me for this year is to BE PRESENT. To stop looking back (even as small as "if I'd have started my day differently, this wouldn't have happened) and to stop looking elsewhere (daydreaming, escapism, focusing in on minor details that don't make a difference), and to be right here, right now. I know He's been nudging me on it for quite a while now, but I've been pretty good at looking everywhere else for answers instead. So I am ignoring it no longer, and creating a way of being accountable to others for this challenge, by creating 366 days of gratefulness. Every day this year I am going to focus on something right under my nose that I DO have, not on what is missing from my life. I am going to change habits I have fallen into and wake myself up to the many blessings I've been given. This is not revolutionary - many people have done this before me - I just need to put it out there so I don't slip back into old ways.

I'm trying to work out how to do this without being irritating and hogging people's newsfeeds, so I think I'm going to mix it up and do some days on here, and some days on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. After all, it doesn't matter if people follow it - it's an exercise in self-discipline for me. 

So here is my day one of being present:

Today I am really grateful that the whole family has been healthy for all of 2015. This month last year I was in a very dark place, waiting for the next crisis to hit, as it had done for so many Januarys previously. I couldn't shake the expectation of the next medical emergency, and was still in crisis mode in my head. I may as well have kept a packed suitcase in the car like I used to.

It took me till June to shake this, when we'd made it a clear year without new symptoms. Yesterday in the car we were chatting about it, and apart from one quick appointment for me to check something that turned out fine, and one A&E visit to remove the biggest splinter we've ever seen from a kid's foot, there were no other trips to hospital in 2015. This means for my two youngest children, it is the first year of their lives that they have never been to hospital. When I think that in the five years from 2010 to 2014 we spent a third of all our days visiting or staying in hospital, this is a massive deal for our family!

So I am grateful that this shadow has passed and I no longer live in fear of the next medical drama. Whatever happens in the future will happen, but it no longer has to consume me today. 


Day Two (Twitter) - Amazed this morning that after missing 5wks thru storms, was still able to run 3K! Last year's hard work paid off

Day Three (Instagram) - Day three of my #present366 challenge. I totally love board games and would play them so much more if I still didn't have to do all the parenting stuff while doing it - "Stay still, it's your turn, haven't you been paying attention, don't knock the board, I can't hear what your brother's saying over all that noise, if you listened I wouldn't have to say it four times, just because you didn't win doesn't mean they cheated.....blah blah blah." So I'm really grateful that my kids are getting older and I have to do slightly less of the verbal diarrhoea each time we play, and that I live so close to other people who love to play (but who I don't have to parent). With half the church moving into my block, I'm getting more opportunities all the time 😊

And it turns out I am an absolute boss at Rummikub, which my sister got for Christmas 👊


Day five (Twitter): Today I'm grateful for the many positive voices that drown out the negative ones & the wisdom God gives to tell the difference #present366

Day six (Facebook): Today I chatted with a friend who inspires me whenever we get together. She is fighting many battles but is choosing to focus right now on what she has and not what she hasn't. Made me smile that she was summing up the same thing that God has been saying to me through my challenge for 2016 😊
So that's my #present366 point of gratitude for today - when God brings you into new seasons and challenges, He always has other people to bring alongside you at just the right time so you can spur one another on!

Day seven (Twitter): God has placed people in my life now I've been waiting eight long years for. My heart is fit to burst.

Day eight: (Twitter) So glad God sets us in families, biologically & spiritually. We're not called to do any of it alone.

Day nine: (Twitter) God seems to be releasing things now that have been waiting for years. Don't know why it's taken so long but happy to see it.

Day ten: (Instagram) I love my church. I really do. There's so much I don't understand about how the last eight years have panned out, or even some of what's happening right now, but there's nothing else I'd rather give my life to than building the house of God. It's His Plan A for revealing His salvation to the world. That's good enough for me.

Day elevenTonight's prayer meeting was absolutely amazing. Every time we meet & listen, God speaks!

Day twelve: I read today in Courageous Leadership by Bill Hybels about finding safe people you can be totally open with. And it made my heart sing because I have found safe people.

Day thirteenToday I had incredible moments with all three of my boys individually, where they opened up to me and were able to articulate their feelings. The incidences were all independent of each other, unexpected and all came through three different things that went wrong today. So weird that for ages I've felt like I've been talking at them rather than with them, and then suddenly it all happened at once!

Day fourteen: After some great one-on-one time with my boys yesterday, today I got some with my girl. Why do i always enjoy the week more when all the sensible plans go haywire?

Day fifteen: My last two days have been study days. They're my favourite kind :)

Day sixteen: Today my amazing indulgent Saturday plans got scrapped because of more family illness, so I redeemed the day by nailing some jobs I've been putting off for ages instead.

Day seventeenI love that not only do I get to be part of an amazing church in my own community, I also get to be part of a family of churches that love to bless and inspire each other and keep each other accountable. Thank you Valley for lending Michele to us this morning, and thank you everyone at Fulwood FM for your love tonight. 

And that is also my Be Present 366 for day eighteen - I am so glad to live in a time where all these resources are so freely available, not just because of the print but because they can be ordered, borrowed or downloaded in minutes thanks to this high tech world we live in. I can't imagine my life without books and I don't know who I'd be without them. I feel like new worlds are opened up to us every day when we open a book and allow it to stretch our minds.

Day nineteenIf you are a Christian, I cannot emphasise enough how great this course (Freedom in Christ) will be for you. I really feel different on the inside since we went through this in our church and everyone who did it feels the same. Wherever you're at on your journey with faith, there will be something that needs greater understanding or clarification - without realising it, we forget important truths, harbour a grudge, forget our identity in Christ, struggle with some habit we keep reverting to.... This course is like a faith detox. It takes you right back to the beginning and reminds you of who God is, who you are, and all He's given you. And at some point you'll see something you've never seen before and realise what that blockage is. Then it walks you through what the real truth is and how to get hold of that for which Christ has taken hold of you. I don't understand how it can work so well with people from such different walks of life with different issues, but it does! It's not a fancy supplement - it's pure bible truth, just restructured in a way that makes so much sense to our postmodern minds. Thankyou @matthewjameshooper and @alliharvie for encouraging us to take the leap on this - it has helped me to stop looking in the wrong places for what I need and inspired me to be present.

Day twentySeriously easy to find a reason to be grateful today - any day you find these (Krispy Kremes) on your doorstep is a good day! 

😍 ‪#‎myfave‬ ‪#‎originalglazedalltheway‬‪#‎itsashameihavetoshare‬ 

Day twenty oneI find it so interesting that during the day there can be so much squabbling and shouting but at nighttime when my kids are in bed, that's when they have their best conversations with each other (probably because they know they're supposed to be going to sleep, not talking). It's not always this way, but at the moment it is so I'm making sure I log it in my memory. 
Sometimes they're not even talking about the same thing - one will waffle, and in the pause, the other will waffle about something else, then it's the first one's turn for their subject, etc, but the point is - they are talking. They are deconstructing their day, even if it's to say what they wish had happened differently. And they are doing it to someone they obviously feel they can be totally open with (even if it's because they know the other one's not actually listening!).
I know from my own love/hate relationship with my brothers growing up, that it is totally worth the stress of the refereeing all day in order to have moments like this.

Day twenty twoSwimming, bucket of KFC and now introducing the kids to The Three Musketeers (1993). Excellent Friday night.

Day twenty threeGot breakdown cover for the washing machine 18months ago. Had four repairs since! It's like Somebody knew I'd need it...

Day twenty fourHospitality is not my gift at all. But today I managed lunch for twelve at my house after church!

Day twenty five: I love doing life with people who love this community.

Day twenty six: The rest of my house might be a mess but I love how my attention-to-detail kid ALWAYS makes sure the cups and plates are in the right colour order in the drawer when he empties the dishwasher.

Day twenty sevenTired after too long in the car today but so glad my kids have found the best Christian therapy in the north west

Day twenty eightThe last two evenings I've had appointments with my older kids that have lasted longer than expected. Both times my younger kids have been fed, played with and looked after by everyone at connect groups, to make them into fun evenings. This is how I can make life work - thank you so much guys. ‪#‎ilovemychurchfamily‬

Day twenty nineHis 30th was last week but tonight we're celebrating as a family so I'm giving a shout out today to this guy. Dave Harrison is my brother-in-law and my pastor and he is AWESOME. Since Dave joined our family we have gone through more drama and trials than we have ever known. He didn't cause any of them (!) but I think when God knew all that was coming our way, He made sure Dave was going to be around to help us through it all. 

We were both on the leadership team at church and after Richard died we all had to make our own separate decisions about what we were going to do. That first twelve months were the hardest ever, and we almost decided to walk away. But in the same month as I felt God was gearing me up for carrying on, Dave also stepped up to the call to become the senior leader of the church. And what a great pastor he is - a strategic thinker, empathetic to people from all walks of life, passionate enough to raise an army, and a fantastic role model (despite what they may say) to the young men in our church. 

I am proud to serve alongside you Dave, and thank you for being such a fantastic husband to Naomi (and for putting up with our telepathic sense of humour that often gets in the way of pastoral meetings). 

Happy birthday!!!

Day thirty: Today I went to a Paperchase shop. That's a great day.

Day thirty one: Fab day in the house of God - got to preach at one, eat and play Rummikub at home with another, and go visit the vision evening of a third. 

Day thirty two: First evening at home in over a week! Me and my laundry had a lovely time together

Day thirty threeGot to speak to some lovely ladies at St Anne's tonight. I never tire of hearing people's stories & seeing what God is doing.

Day thirty fourThankyou so much Vicki and Graham for making it possible for Levi to start his new weekly challenge - Under 9s rugby! 

Day thirty five: I don't know if it's okay to have a least favourite book of the bible, but if I did, Job would be it! The beginning and the end are amazing, but the middle is baffling - stuff that seems like sound teaching actually gets rebuked by God later on - so I'm hoping this commentary can help me to slow down and get a better handle on it. Hopefully I will feel differently by the end.

Day thirty seven - Today I went to the chest freezer in the cellar and everything in it had defrosted. Turns out the extension cord to it had got knocked, probably a few days ago. But it's still my #present366 reason to be grateful in the here-and-now moment for today because: a) the freezer isn't broken so I don't need to buy a new one (which was the first worry for me), b) about half the stuff in the freezer was stuff that was questionable anyway - I just hadn't found time to defrost it and check if it was still edible, and c) yesterday I was financially blessed more than enough to cover replacing the stuff in there that I need. A great reminder that usually what we need is provided to us even before we know we need it!

Day thirty eight - Right now I am in a season where I can actually choose the pace in my day. For now I am choosing  s l o w  (it's a novelty)

Day thirty nine -  How good are these brick stormproof houses we live in? Can you imagine this winter with anything less? #present366

Day forty - Loved being at Lead today. Wisdom to chew through and catching up with friends. Happy happy. #present366 

Day forty one - I'm doing a lent challenge this year - to avoid box sets till Easter. I've chewed through too many whole series in the last year and a half and it's taken up a lot of head space! Managed to finish The U.S. Office last week (best comedy since Friends) and am now going cold turkey. Anyone else giving up something for Lent?

Day forty two - Writing up our DNA of Rest today. This truth is so important yet we spend so much time ignoring it. Anxiety is taking false responsibility. In reality, He's carrying it all. #present366

Day forty three - Such a good parents evening last night for my 12yo. He's made a lot of progress & the staff seem to know how to get the best out of him #present366 

Day forty four - Having to push hard today. Messy house from a busy week, toing and froing this morning to get everyone where they need to be, and the boiler is broken and I have to get it sorted asap. Fighting the fear and Eva calls me in and shows me what she's been working on: "These are labels to give to people at church tomorrow."
The interpretation:
Love that's how God made you
You have love
Love you
You have a heart
Love Jesus
Never give up

I think I'll take that last one ☺️❤️


Day forty five - Today we spread the love to our neighbours. Loved seeing the surprised faces behind doors as we get to tell them they matter #present366 

Day forty six - My boiler is fixed after 2.5 days.
My house has warmed up.
I can feel my feet again 😊


Day forty seven - Today, even though my heating is back on, I've been cold. I only had to go out for about twenty minutes to the sea front but when I got back I couldn't feel my feet. I couldn't warm up again after that and being cold makes me really grumpy, so my kids got the brunt of that. Later we were going to car to go out and I saw the homeless guy who spends all day on our block. He has a house but doesn't go there because of mental health issues. Today he looked different because as he shuffled the streets talking to himself he had a dirty big duvet thrown over his shoulders. Suddenly I didn't feel so grumpy anymore. 

Day forty eight - Good appt at allergy clinic today. Grateful to live in a time where medicine & clear labelling means my son is hardly affected #present366

Day forty nine - A great day for a scavenger hunt at Heysham nature reserve #present366 

Day fifty - Swimming, fish and chips and movie night. Love Fridays ☺️ #present366

Day fifty one - Whizzed through decluttering the kids rooms (with them) in the last two days with way more cooperation than ever before. Woohoo! #present366

Day fifty two - She's been begging me for weeks to make another dress for Baby. One thorough bedroom de-clutter later and this was her reward. She cut and sewed the "flower" all by herself ☺️ 

Day fifty three - Today I managed to successfully sneak out six bags of old toys, two boxes of papers and a heap of other large broken items to the tip, and when they got home, the kids didn't notice. Can I get some parenting high fives here please 🙌🏼
#icanseebedroomfloors #soreback #secretagent #present366 

Day fifty four - Somebody is very excited about her party on Friday. She has made all these messages for the hallway:
To frends love Eva
We love you
Happy birthday Eva Grac Scolls
I am your frend
You are the goodest frend I ever had
Welcom again if you didn't see the last won 
And I so wish I'd had a smart phone when all the kids were this age because it's frightening how much of this stuff you forget unless you capture the moment. Makes all the madness worth it (even I clog up people's feeds in the meantime) #present366 

Day fifty five -
Speak at school assembly✔️
Birthday shopping✔️
Meet with friend✔️
Kids to therapy✔️
Wrap presents✔️
Make pancake batter✔️

Day fifty six - I will never get tired of this face, her character, the grace in which she carries herself, and her cheeky sense of humour. I can't believe it's only been six years - so much has happened in that time and she has been a blessing every day for all of it. Eva Grace, you are a total superstar. #present366

Day fifty seven - How cute is this mini teapot and set of espresso cups? Perfect for Eva and her five friends at her tea party. Thank you Grannie and Grandad for the present, and to Hannah, Chloe and Ellie who helped keep the girls fed and happy ☺️ #present366

Day fifty eight - Great day with family. Grandad and Nanna had the kids while I went to Leadership Exchange, then we had a family meal in the evening to round off celebrations, with more cake and presents and my first experience of Bananagrams #ilovemyfamily #present366 


  1. Hi Esther, I'm really pleased to see a blog after such a long gap. I've been watching regularly and waiting since 2nd June! I do find you blogs inspiring: please keep them up.

  2. Yaaay! You are writing again! Happy New Year Esther Xxx


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