Saturday, 16 July 2016

Lettering {which tools do I use?}

So, a quick second post about lettering.

The last post I told you about where I get my inspiration, so I thought I could now share about the pens/brushes I use.

It's been a journey, really. As I started off with Bible Journaling, I started off with pens for that, and progressed from there. I have two photos for you, and I will talk you through them all, and tell you where you can buy them.





1. Staedtler Triplus Fineliner

This is one of the first pens I started with. They come in a fantastic range of colours, but in order to do calligraphy type, you need to do "faux calligraphy".  For this, you need to add a second line on the downstrokes of your letters. Then, fill it in. I have demonstrated this technique on the photo. It works well, but you can sometimes end up with very tiny lines where you don't "keep in the lines". It's probably imperceptible, but I see it! lol  You can get these pens many places, including Amazon (UK) . 

2-4. Pigma Micron 

These come in a variety of thicknesses and colours. These pens, and the Staedtler Fineliners, are both pretty good for using in Bibles, as they don't bleed unless you do very thick and heavy lines. The very fine ones are great for print style lettering, or for very small lettering. All these first 4 pens don't work very well on watercolour paper, though, as they tend to gouge into the heavier weight, with their harder tips. 

This (UK) set has a good range of the nib sizes, all in black, including a brush pen (which I just don't like at all) and a thicker "graphic" tip, which is a nice thick tip for solid lines. You can also get them in sets with colours, but with that you have to decide on one nib size, as they are all the same in the multi-coloured pack. 

5. & 9. ( 9 is in the image below) Tombow Dual Brush Pens

These are a MASSIVE treat to myself. I got them for a knockdown price (with the pre-Brexit exchange rate!), and a friend who was returning to the UK kindly delivered them to me, so no postage costs!! I got the full set of 96, and have been LOVING them. I had already bought the primary set from Amazon to try them out, and had fallen in love with them. It's these pens that I have used for my entire series of pictures that went with the #animalpartychallenge on IG. Because they are water based, you can blend them on watercolour paper with a brush and water. You can also blend two colours together and create your own blends (simply just blending them on a piece of plastic)! The tips are self cleaning, so the new ink runs through and it goes back to the original colour. One end has the brush tip pen, and the other end is a finer nib. It takes a bit of practice to master using these (I initially didn't like them, because I didn't crack it as quickly as I wanted to!!! - patience.... ), but once you have, they write like silk. The textures and tones are beautiful, especially on very smooth paper. These are best for doing BIG lettering, although some people seem to be able to achieve much smaller text than I can! 

If are wanting to get serious about your lettering, the 96 box set is a very sound investment, as it's a lot cheaper per pen than buying the smaller packs. It's also massively reduced in price over this side of the Atlantic, compared to a matter of months ago when it was over £200 to buy it!!! 




6. Pentel Fude Touch Sign Pen

These pens are the ones that are able to give a lovely look to a more "normal" sized lettering. As with all the brush tips, you need to master the basic technique of modern calligraphy to be able to use them best. The ladies in my last post have videos that demonstrate the technique - think upstroke, thick down stroke. You can get practice drill sheets for this on many sites - free and "pay for" ones. 

These pens are a bit trickier to track down in the UK. The cheapest way I have found to purchase them is from an Etsy store. They come in a range of colours, and you can get the full set of 12 for £17 including shipping from Japan. You have to be patient, as it takes time to get here! If you can't wait, you can also get them here for a little more money.

I really love the gold and silver in the multi-pack, and the black is a pretty fundamental piece of kit, in my opinion.

7 & 8. Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen - soft tip and hard tip

These, like the black sign pen above, as what I would consider "essential" if you are serious about lettering. They give slightly different effects. The soft one gives a thicker line, and the hard one gives a very fine line on your upstroke.  These are available on Amazon, and are best value in a 5 pack - soft and hard are both available in these 5 packs.

10. Pentel Aquash Water Brush

I love, love, LOVE this tool!!!! This is a watercolour brush, in essence, but has a water barrel attached. You can either fill the barrel with liquid watercolour inks, or keep dipping it into liquid or solid watercolours. I just love the variation in tone that you get with each stroke. It's simply beautiful. There are three sizes available - think medium and thick brushes. Obviously you can achieve a different look with each. They aren't overly expensive, and are available as a three pack on Amazon. These absolutely work best on watercolour paper, as it's far more absorbent than other papers.

11. Paintbrush (I used a Taklon Size 3)

A good old fashioned paintbrush is also a tool you can use. This is one of the ones I found hardest to crack, and I still don't feel I have mastered it completely, but it gives a lovely effect. Again, like the Aquash brush, you have to use watercolours with it. But, you have to keep dipping it into either water then paint, or a liquid watercolour. I found I had to get my grip right with a paintbrush, moreso than other pens, and also the quality of paintbrush MASSIVELY matters. A round brush is best, and don't just use a child's cheap one. You just won't get the brush to move smoothly enough, in my experience.

So, there we have it.

Those are the pens and brushes that I use, and my limited experience with them so far! You don't need expensive pens to get lettering. You can even use Sharpies (which I have never tried!) or Crayola supertips!

Just grab a pen and start trying, and then take it from there!

I think I also need to do posts demonstrating each of these pens, just to give a better idea about how they write and look. No promises as to a time scale for doing that, but I will get started ASAP.  Any questions, just ask away in the comments below, or find me on IG @thejoyfulkeeper and ask there. I will also start trying to record which pens I have used on my IG pictures.

I am SO far from being a pro at this, so I hope this has been useful!?




Wednesday, 13 July 2016

When the Master calls {how we respond in trials}

I am confident that I am not alone in my observation that there is a distinct difference in nature and personalities between my children. The more I have, the more i see the difference. Even though I have 9 children, I can safely say that no two of them are very alike in personality, nor really in looks. They are all individuals, with a God-given personality that makes them "themselves".

I was reading the passage about the death of Lazarus, the other day. I was struck, again, like I have previously been when reading the "cumbered about" account, that Mary and Martha, although sisters, had quite distinct personalities.

Mary is the quiet, more withdrawn one. I can imagine her, quietly sitting beside Jesus, listening to Him teaching. Martha. She's the one I relate to more. The one who is more bustly, busy, and quick to speak, instead of listening. And yet, passionate in her devotion.

These differences are seen once again in this narrative. IF you remember, the news that Lazarus was sick came to Jesus. He seemed His usual, calm self, and told the messengers it was fine. Don't worry. He's not sick to die. He, in fact, said it was going to be to God's glory.

Let's pause. What a great reminder. Trials come into our lives, and we should realise, right at the onset, that all these things happen for God's glory. It's not so much the incident that glorifies God - rather how we respond to it, and how we deal with it. We don't all get the outcome that Lazarus did, but we still have the God-given opportunity to give praise and glory to the one who "hath done all things well".

Jesus, the one who they KNEW was a miracle worker, announces he is going to just sit where he is for a couple of days. THEN, he decides to go to Bethany, whilst announcing to His disciples that Lazarus is, in fact, already dead. But not dead. Just sleeping. His disciples were understandably confused, but just accepted, and travelled with Him. The purpose for the delay was explained by Jesus, again.

"And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe"

This was all an exercise in faith and trust. It was to point people to His saving power. So that they would know He was GOD.

Pausing again. THAT is why we are allowed to go through struggles and trials. So that others may see GOD in it all. His power. His glory. His perfect will.

He carries on along the road.

Martha hears He is nearby and comes rushing to Him.

Mary sits in the house.

There we have it, again. Two different personalities. Two different natures. Two different ways of approaching the Saviour.

Martha rushes to Him, with a slight accusation, and yet GREAT faith and trust in who Jesus is.

"Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee."


Oh, I LOVE that "but I KNOW".

She knew that Jesus could have prevented his death. But, OH, she knew he could also bring him back to life!!! Such enormous trust and faith.

I SO need more of that faith. TO be in the middle of sad and serious circumstances but to KNOW that Jesus can work it all out, because He is God, and He just can. My faith is so weak.

Jesus then ascertains her understanding of who He is, and what he is capable of. Upon her acknowledgement, she rushes back to Mary, telling her

"The Master is come, and calleth for thee"


I LOVE Mary's response. Yes, she had stayed where she was, when Martha had run to meet Jesus. But,

"As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him."

The Master called, and she jumped to do His bidding.

This made me think of times of trial and difficulty. On difficult days, do we jump to do what Jesus requires of us, or do we sit wallowing in our trials until we feel like being obedient and submissive to the situation we are in?  The Word of God is to be obeyed no matter how down or sad we are feeling. Our feelings don't hold a candle to the importance of being followers of Jesus who come when we are called.

The Lord calls us to be so many things. And those things don't change just because life is hard, or we are facing a bad day. No. We are still to seek Him and follow Him. Not everyone responds the same way to trials and struggles. We may be the kind of people who need to talk to others - we jump up and rush to Him like Martha did. Others may internalise their struggles, quietly - we may sit quietly alone, and then respond as soon as we hear His "Words" whispered to our heart, like Mary. But, obey we must. Seek Him, we must. Be in His presence, we must.

Mary and Martha were tested in a deep way. The whole situation was so emotive that Jesus, himself, wept. When He saw His dear friends in such agony of spirit, He, too, wept, even though He KNEW what He was about to do! He knew the end from the beginning, but was still touched by their sadness.

Jesus sees our sadness. He weeps with those who weep.

But, He still requires that we follow Him and obey His bidding.

Those sisters went through an agonising few days, but just look at the outcome! Their faith was rewarded, and God was glorified in an amazing way. That trial was used for good.

Many Jews saw that He was the Saviour and put their faith in Him.

It also set in motion the events that would lead to Jesus' death.

God's ways are perfect. Trials come, but we need to still be ready to jump up at His bidding, and obey Him in every part of our lives, no matter how we are feeling. WE may come weeping and sad, but come, we must. Come to the one who is control of the situation we find ourselves in, and place our trust entirely in Him, knowing that "all things work together for good".

No matter the situation you find yourself in, run to the Saviour, obey His bidding, and wait to see the great things He has in store to His glory.




Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Lettering! {where do I get my inspiration?}









I have been meaning to write this post for a looong time.

During my period of "blog silence" I took up creative lettering. It started off as an interest in being able to do nice lettering for my Bible Journalling, but it turned into a hobby along the way! I am now LOVING doing my lettering, and continually trying to improve on my new found love.


Some of my Bible Journalling




Journalling quotes from books I am reading.


What I have been meaning to share about is the resources I have used and the materials I use, as I have had so many people asking me on IG and Facebook!

I am no authority on these things. I share them with you on the basis that I am no expert and I can only tell you what I have learnt from others who are FAR more experienced and talented!

So, where to start?!?

I think I will do these as a series of posts, and begin with some of the inspiration for my lettering. First off, it is SUPER helpful to be on Instagram! That is THE visual place to watch and learn from others. It's where I found my first inspiration, and continue to be inspired on a daily basis.

My first ever "teacher" was a lady called Lisa, and you can find her at a few places.

IG: +Lisa Walters
Facebook: creativLEI
Pinterest: creativleimade
Periscope: +Lisa Walters
Website: www.creativlei.com

She is an extremely gracious and gifted lady, who has a great love for all sorts of crafty and creative things. She is regularly on Periscope, gladly sharing her tips and techniques, and Periscope (which I only recently discovered!!) is a fabulous place to ask questions, which she always tries to answer.

Lisa also offers a brilliant FREE course, "31 days to love your lettering", where you can watch videos and learn the various techniques involved in getting started with lettering.

She is really inspirational, and has helped me a whole lot! She has also recently dragged me kicking and screaming  lured me into the world of chalk lettering!






More of that at another time! Beware - letterers will lead you down bunny trails of all sorts of creative yumminess....

Another favourite of mine is Liss. I came across her on IG, and am currently signed up for her lettering class (not free, but it was my summer treat to myself!!), and you get to be part of a private FB group where she gives loads of advice and support, and where you get a stack load of inspiration from others who are learning, too.  Again, you can find her in several places.

IG: +liss letters
Facebook: Liss Smith
Website: www.liss.com.au/ 

Another favourite of mine from IG, is @handletteredtruth. Debbie produces beautiful lettering, and inspires me on so many levels.

There are loads more, but I will share them as they tie in with the various topics I share about to do with types of lettering, or materials used.

Another great way to "meet" other letterers is to do a month of writing prompts. Folks give all sorts of different prompts, and it inspires various contributions. I have just finished one about collective nouns for animals, in which I also started doing paintings of the animals using brush pens, which I previously had no idea I could do until I tried! Then there are ladies who run ones that are Bible verses for each day. It's always good to get scripture into our heart and mind, and what a nicer way of doing it than creatively?



#30daysofbiblelettering





#animalpartychallenge


My current one that I am following is #letterHISname (they all have hashtags, so you can find other people doing the same thing, for those who don't know these things, like I didn't until recently...) and it is run by two fab letterers - @coldsnowinharvest and @brittanyluiz. It's been precious and interesting to look at the verses where these different names are mentioned, and choose one to base my lettering on.




#letterHISname




#letterHISname



There are LOADS more lettering prompts out there.

I have one, myself, in the pipeline! I have created the graphic, but want to write a weekly blog post to accompany it. to help people out, due to the topic. I don't want to say much else JUST yet, but I plan to do it in August, and plan it all in July. Watch this space!!

I try and practice my lettering when I can. You can do it as doodles, or do it as something more creative. I like to do things with scripture and just pop it on the fridge!



This lettering was scripture from #scripturewriting with +Heidi St. John 


I am also trying to learn how to do watercolour painting - flowers, wreaths and writing. It's one of my favourite mediums, which I dabbled in as a teen.




I will tell you more about that in a post about materials and mediums.


So, there's a start for those of you interested in lettering. I will return with more helpful (hopefully!!!) info on the topic.  Check out my Pinterest board for places to find lettering inspiration, too. (See the link in my side bar!)

So GO! Have fun lettering! Learn something new, and get creative.


Monday, 4 July 2016

Character training from the weeds {pull them out while you can}

Finally. It happened.

I had a day with no rain, and a chance to go to the shops and buy some plants for the garden.

Yes. I was finally in my garden to sort it out properly, for the first time this year.

It was a mess. Weeds. Plants that hadn't been cut back. Dead plants that needed to be lifted, and which I hadn't even noticed were rotting away at all.

Usually I am well sorted by July, with plants growing nicely, and flowers in abundance. However, a combination of a small person who is quite high maintenance, and nasty damp weather, had held me back from getting to the garden to sort it out.

I forgot how much I missed it.  The feel of the earth on my hands.  The satisfaction of getting rid of weeds and creating cleared space. The joy of purchasing and planting beautiful things, resulting in a much brighter garden.

There is still much to do, including more pruning and weeding, and a painting job I want to do.

But, the best part? How the Lord whispers lessons into my heart and soul, whilst working with the wonders of His wonderful creation. Nearly EVERY single time, I seem to see something valuable to learn.

Today was no exception.

Four lessons, no less.

But, I will only cover one per post!

The one I want to share first is one that is so important as a parent.

Weeds. Weeds. Weeds.

The bane of gardening life. One of my biggest jobs that I still need to work on is to get rid of weeds. Not only do they spoil the look of the garden, but ultimately they stop the plant from growing as it should, and can sometimes kill the plant entirely.

The lesson I considered today was one of nipping things in the bud early. Pardon the pun. As a result of not dealing with the weeds when they were tiny, and only beginning to grow, I now have some hum-dingers growing around my dahlias in the front garden. It looks 50/50 weeds plants. That is never good.

I have nettles (don't talk to me about nettles - my hand hurts as I type!) - I have thistles - I have kinda' pretty looking pink ones that will go to seed and multiply if I don't sort them out. In fact, most weeds will eventually do that - think dandelion, for a start. (oooooh... something else has just sprung to mind!!!) All mixed liberally in with what SHOULD be there. My soon-to-be-beautiful dahlias.





It got me thinking about my children. Do you ever feel, particularly with children aged between about 2 and 4, that you are scolding them and telling them "no" a LOT? It you don't feel like that, you maybe should!! It's that formative age where they try and push boundaries, trying to get away with wrong behaviour every opportunity they get. It's part of human nature. Some of it is simple childishness, but much of it is sin. If you don't sort it out - by training and by discipline/consequences - whilst they are little, these sinful traits will just grow until they are choking out the good in a child, or at least spoiling the "beauty" in their character. I've seen it before. And, I can also see in my own children where I could have done with "weeding" more diligently when they were younger, because there are traits that are spoiling things now.

There is no such thing as perfect children. Likewise, there is no such thing as a perfect parent.

BUT, we CAN work at doing all we can to faithfully train our children, to the glory of God, whilst they are young. We can't save them, but we can guide them into ways that are God-honouring. We can teach them faithfully of what God expects of us morally, and spiritually. We can train them to behave in a way that shuns the behaviour that is wrong, and embraces that which is right. It's not our role as parents to save our children - we cannot - but it's our job to honour the Lord in how we raise them. We don't want an ugly mess when they are growing up, all because we don't tend their hearts and lives when they are young.

It's hard work. We need to keep at it and be consistent. Like a garden, weeds will keep cropping up. But, trust me, sorting it out when they are small plants is FAR easier to do than when the plants grow up. Now that my plants are bigger it's MUCH harder to get to the weeds. Firstly, because the roots of the weeds have got deeper and thicker. Then also because it can cause hurt to the plant to try and get rid of the weeds.

What a powerful reminder to me of the crucial work of tending to the behaviour of my children! If I neglect it whilst they are young it is SO much harder to deal with when they are teens. That time when the plant should be growing strong and blooming beautifully is NOT when I should then be starting to think "hang on, how did I not notice these "weeds" of ugly behaviour until NOW?"

We, as the parents, are the "gardeners" responsible for pulling out the weeds of deceit, lying, stroppiness, laziness, argumentativeness, rebellion and disrespect whilst our children are young. It's definitely easier to teach them when they are little, than when they are more strong willed and older. Not easy, but easier.

And, like the weeds, if we wait until the weeds have taken root, and starting to seed, then these sinful and ugly behaviours will just spread and take hold further, the later we leave it.

We need to recognise those things which God does not want in our children - spot the "weeds" - and pull them out when they are just beginning to rear their ugly heads. If we know ourselves what is right and wrong, according to the gardener's manual - God's Word -  then we will know how to sort it out. We need to be fully aware of what those traits are, in order to weed them out.

Keep at it "gardener" of little souls. By God's grace and help, you can train your children to be those who honour God.

Keep at it "gardener" of those who are getting bigger. Pull out those weeds whilst you can still grab them and get all the root out.

Keep at it "gardener" of those who you look at, like my ugly garden, and think "help!!! - what have I done??". God is able to redeem those years. Don't look at what you haven't done, but look at what you can STILL do!

Above all else, remember that the Holy Spirit is able to do that work of saving grace in their hearts and lives. Cry out to Him daily to help you as a parent, and to save their souls and do a personal work of grace in their lives. He is able and willing to save.


"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not"
Galatians 6:9







Friday, 10 June 2016

Perspective {from frustration to fulfilment}

As I log into Blogger to write this post, my eye is scanning down the list of most recently published posts, and I inwardly groan.

ONE post in May?

REALLY?

I thought that once I was feeling better, after having had Ezekiel, I'd be back to my normal blogging schedule, and sharing with the world again. But no. I have failed dismally.

Or have I?

Well, if I want to look at it from the point of view of blogging to reach out to others, yes, I may have "failed".

Perspective.

THAT is the key word for me.

We had a visiting preacher at our Annual Service of Thanksgiving, last weekend. His sermon on the Saturday was all about perspective. He was particularly emphasising that THANKFULNESS is all about perspective. If we look at our circumstances from the wrong perspective, we will not be a thankful people. Change your perspective, and you will find something to be thankful for.

I think one of the keys to having a correct perspective is all about change. We need to move to the right position in order  to gain the right perspective. We need to be willing to move from wherever we are, in our thoughts an attitudes, and get to the right "place".

It's a bit like when I am walking along, all adult size, and I see something and yell to the children "did you see THAT?"

There ensues a cacophony of

"I can't SEE it"

"Where, WHERE?"

"MUUUUUUUM, I can't SEEEEEEEE it"

Then, I help them to adjust their stance, in order to see what I can see. Maybe I lift them onto my shoulders, or gently re-position them a couple of inches one way or another, to get a better perspective on what I am viewing.

THEN, we  get a different response.

"Oh YES Mum - I see it now!"

"Wow, yes"

From frustration to fulfilment.






That's where perspective brings us. Perspective brings us from a place where can easily become frustrated and disheartened, to a place where we are fulfilled by God's goodness and mercy, because we are seeing things how GOD wants us to see them. The Lord lifts us up on his shoulders, like the good shepherd lifted that wandering lamb, and brings us to a place where we can see His goodness.

It's like that old adage "the grass is always greener on the other side". Someone seems to have life better than you do. If you change your perspective, you may see your grass longer, or that you have more grass, or that you have someone to help you look after your grass, and they don't, or that your grass is getting greener, but it's just slow. Perspective.

There is ALWAYS something to be thankful for. There is ALWAYS a better way to view our circumstances. There is ALWAYS a reason to rejoice.

But, we must be willing to move away from the position we are in, and see things from a different perspective.

Effort.

A teachable spirit.

Joy and contentment.

It's all needed to gain perspective.

Have I been quiet on here? Yes.

Am I failing to keep up with writing blog posts, or, if I gently nudge my perspective, am I busy looking after a precious, but slightly high maintenance baby, who will grow up soooooo fast, that I shouldn't feel bad for spending time caring for him?

Perspective shifted.

Frustration gone.

Fulfilment found.










Friday, 6 May 2016

You CAN fly {lessons from a bumble bee}

(This post contains affiliate links)


Yesterday I went for a walk. It was supposed to be a power walk to try and get a bit fitter. A pleasant walk in the sun, whilst also exercising. Plus, I had Ezekiel attached. He has another cold, and I thought that a walk, with him in the sling, would settle him.

Best laid plans, and all that...

He cried. He cried for most of the 1.3 miles round our village. I'm sure that people were peeping out their windows, wondering who was torturing the small person. It was certainly a motivation to power walk as fast as I could, to get home and feed him! (It was that, or plonk myself down in the middle of the pavement and feed him instantly - on second thoughts, I decided I already adequately fulfilled the criteria of "local crazy woman", with my band of 9 offspring, who are home educated, without adding any further to my qualification...)

But, in true home educating mother style, I saw something on the ground and picked it up to bring home.

Ezekiel wasn't very impressed with me bending over at such a strange angle, but I was determined to bring it home, and do some impromptu, Charlotte-Mason-esque learning with them. All in the name of education, my son.

What do I speak of?






This little guy was just lying there, sadly dead, its work on earth complete. I felt it should continue to be of benefit, beyond its days of pollination. So, home it came.

(I say "it". It's probably female, from our further studies...)

We studied it carefully. I used "Are you a bee?" to learn more about bees. The book is about honey bees, and Daniel then managed to find a dead honey bee in our garden! It's a book perfect for younger readers. (I used it with mine, up to age 9)  We did a compare and contrast venn diagram to look at differences between bumble and honey bees. Then, the children drew pictures and wrote down some of the facts we learned. It was fun, and I recommend learning about bees! 

To top off our learning experience, I remembered that my sweet friend, Jan, away over in the US of A, keeps bees! She had previously shared a video fo how they caught a swarm, so she sent me the links for us to watch.

This is them installing bees on a rooftop.









And this is the one of them catching a swarm.



capturing bees from Tessa Danielle Anderson on Vimeo.


Thanks, Jan, for educating us!

But then, I had one of these moments where *I* did some learning.

Not in an "educating the mind" sense, but a whopping "spiritual lesson" moment.

I remembered we had a book called "Bombus the Bumblebee".  I decided it would be a good book to read together, as I knew it was a book written by Christians. I, however, had never read it. The children have, but I haven't. Bad Mummy. 

So, I curled up and started to read. 

It is all about a bumblebee who doubts his purpose, because he's not quite like the other bees - the honeybees.

They tell him he cannot fly because he is big and heavy. He's not built like them, so he couldn't possibly fly like they do. 

The ultimate lesson of the story culminates with God giving Bombus this message...

"I told you to fly.  No matter what your shape or weight, you can fly because I gave you flight. Now, lift up your wings.... and FLY...... and away he flew - not like a honeybee or a dragonfly or beetle - but like a bumblebee"

The book went on to explain how God has created to the bumblebee to defy the odds, and fly - despite their body "not shaped for flight", and their wings being so short. God gave them the power to fly. 

What a message to MY heart!

How easy it is to look and listen to those around us and begin to doubt our ability to live fully for our God and Saviour. If we constantly fall prey to the comparison disease, then we will just sink into depression and misery, and never attempt to live out abundantly for Christ. I may have already told you, I can't remember, but my word for this year - the one I am keeping in my heart and mind to encourage me - is ABUNDANT. Christ came not only to give us life, but so that we could live abundantly! Fully living out our life for Christ. We can only do that if we "fly".  We need to accept who we are  - even if we aren't quite like the next person, whether it be in our skill set, circumstances, or our looks - and rise high on the wings of faith and live out our life as God intended us to.

Don't look around at everyone else. Just obediently and contentedly be satisfied with your circumstances. Don't crawl along, dragging yourself around in misery, because your situation looks different from someone else's. 

Rise.

Rise high and soar. 

Soar above disappointment, trials, negativity and comparison. 

Rise up to the heights of communion with the Lord, and acceptance of the circumstances HE has placed you in. He has given us all we need to be able to do what we are to do, in service for Him. We aren't called to do what someone else is doing, but simply what we are to do. 

Our situation may not even look like we should be able to "fly". Others may look on and think that our trials are too great, or the circumstances are overwhelming. But, if God has given us a job to do, He also gives us the ability to do it. We rise "on eagles wings" because we trust in the Lord, and receive strength from Him. We only rise because God gives us the power to do so. 

I wonder if you are feeling like Bombus today? Are others looking at your, in  your circumstances, and expecting you not to be able to "fly"? 

You CAN soar, because God created you to fly. 









Thursday, 7 April 2016

Blokus {game review}

(this post contains affiliate links)

I have been intending, for a looooong time, to share with you about some of our favourite games around here.

We are a family who LOVES games, and I am sure there are other families out there like us - always looking out for new games to enjoy!

I am going to start with our most recent addition - one that we got for Susie for her birthday.  Susie is one of our children who especially loves games - particularly ones involving logic and strategy. She's very much like me, in that sense.

She's very much like me in many ways, but that is another story.

Susie was 9 this week. NINE. (We differ in age - definitely - add another nearly THIRTY years to mine... yikes) Last year of single digits. And yet, she seems so much older than that in many ways.

Again, another story.

Back to games.

I asked her what she would like for her birthday, and she thought she'd love a new game. I researched a few options, and she liked the look of this one.






Good choice, Susie. Good choice!

It wasn't one I was at all familiar with, but the rating on Amazon was fab, and it looked like our kind of "thing".

So, what is it?




I'm guessing the pronunciation is block-us - as in trying to block?

The game consists of:

- a special playing board - a grid with ridges you can place tiles in. (You couldn't play it without the board.)

- 4 sets of coloured, clear tiles, of various shapes, made up of squares.

- an instruction booklet

It's a simple game with one simple "move" - place your tile on the board touching ONLY at a corner with another of your tiles. It sounds simple, but the further into the game you go, the harder it gets! You can have your tile touch the edge of a different coloured tile, but not of the same colour.

That's it.

Simple!

You can play with 2 to 4 players. Rule play is slightly different with 2, 3 or 4 players. If there are only two of you, you have two sets of coloured tiles each, with a set order of play, rotating through the colours. If there are three of you, you split the third colour (red), but we played it without doing that, and it still worked.

Best, and most challenging play, is with 4 players.

For all the games I review, I am going to give you a list of Pros and Cons. I will also tell you why we loved it, or not!

So, why we love it! It's different every time you play. There is a compelling desire to get your pieces down and fit them in SOMEWHERE. You end up sitting and saying "I must be able to get this down?"  As you play it more you realise certain pieces are harder to place further through the game, but because it varies each time you play, sometimes you end up placing tricky pieces further through the game, even when you couldn't another time. I guess you could say we love it because of the endless possibilities?  We also love it because any child who understands the basic rule could play it. We haven't tried yet (because every time we've played the older children have all been wanting to play!), but I even think my nearly 6 year old could play, although the box says 8+.

PROS - bright; fun; engaging; challenging

CONS - lots of pieces that could potentially go "Missing", and the game wouldn't be so good without them all there; no bag to keep the game pieces in once you take it out the box



This is us playing with three. As you can see, the pieces only touch at the corners of the same colour.




This is the birthday girl playing. Smiling Susie.





This is us playing again in the evening, with 4 players. You can see here that pieces are now touching along the edge of OTHER colours, but not of the same colour. 

I find the game rather therapeutic and pretty. Lots of coloured pieces, fitting together neatly. This, from the lady who loves sorting newly sharpened pencils, by colour. 




Another couple of great points. It's not overly expensive. I wouldn't say it's a cheap option, but it's certainly not extortionate. It's currently just under £18 with Amazon Prime.

Another plus is, that, although it is only 4 player, you could easily turn it into a "tournament" type game play, with knock out rounds leading to a grand final. That way, everyone gets to play, but the best players get to have an equally challenging opponent for the final. Win-win! (because we all know that it can be a little frustrating playing with a younger child who hasn't got quite the same strategy and logic skills!...)

So, there we have it!  Blokus - a fab game for all the family, that's easy to learn and simple to play. What's not to like?

(I'm thinking I may come back and do a star rating for various aspects of each game I review, but that's too much for my sleep deprived, Mummy brain right now.)

If you have played this before, please share what YOU think, in the comments!