Thursday, 18 September 2014

Will they still or will they go? {Scotland votes}

Today heralds a day which will go down in history, one way or another.

One little Island, being pulled in so many different directions.

Scotland will vote on Independence

I must confess, I have not followed the debates AT ALL.

Being a Scot who has relocated to England, and who married an Englishman, my mind was already made up, in one sense.  My family is united by an English father and a Scottish mother.  I am very happy to be a part of the UNITED Kingdom.

I am very "proud" of my heritage.  I say "pride", but it's not the right word, really. I love that I am Scottish.  I love our history.  I love the place.  I love the people.  It's an amazing place, and if you ever have the chance to visit, please do!

However, the issue of pride is something that seems to drive forward the many of the ones who want to divide from the rest of the United Kingdom.  Scottish people who are so proud of what they think they are, and what they think they can be without the rest of the kingdom, that they think they can "go it alone".  Proud of Scotland's resources.  Proud of its determination.  Proud of its driving force to be independent.

I'm not suggesting that this is the motivation for everyone, but I know it is a large part of the argument for many.

Just listen to a tribe of Scots singing "Flower of Scotland", and you'll hear nationalistic pride by the decibel....

I fear such pride, although possibly based on potential truth, is falsely based, and we certainly know what the Bible says about pride.

It comes before destruction.

I really do wonder if Scotland voting for Independence will destroy SO much.  A lot of their history, from the days when they were independent before, is very ANCIENT history.  It was a very different world to the one we live in today.  Life has moved on. I feel they are clinging to a romantic dream, desiring something that's a rousing concept, but a sad reality.  Dividing up something that has for CENTURIES functioned successfully.

Scotland has had many of its own ways, which made it different from the rest of the UK, anyway. Its legal system, its education system,  devolved government (without total autonomy, of course), and even sport leagues which are different.

What of our Royal family, our currency, our military? What would happen to that? Could the country survive financially?  What will happen to the rest of the Nation?

I know that there is much that is imperfect and far from ideal about the way this nation is run, as  a United Kingdom, but is it really reason enough to want to break that all apart, for some rousing notion?

I could be very wrong.  Perhaps Scotland will become independent and thrive. Perhaps it will all work out in many ways, but would destroy so many other lovely things, humanly speaking.  That part I would mourn, for sure.

The thing that disturbs me most, and this doesn't simply apply to any potential new government or nation, is the lack of Christ in it all.

Our United Kingdom government does not have Christ at its centre.

A Scottish government would not have Christ at the centre.

"Righteousness exalteth a nation:"
Proverbs 14:34  

I don't see much evidence of righteousness on any side of the debate, or in any government.

I really can see how this whole thing could be God's judgement upon a nation who used to hold Christ, and His Word, in high regard. We are ripe for judgement, really.

The future is unknown.

By us.

God knows.  He is still on the throne.  He is still in control.  He still knows best.

Whatever the outcome of today's vote, I know who holds the future.

I will be very sad if the outcome is a "yes" vote, but it won't change one thing.

My life is, and always will be, one which centres upon the daily nuts and bolts of honouring God in the place He has put me.  I am a wife - I'll keep working on doing that the best I can.  I am a mother - I'll not stop mothering my children because Scotland isn't in the UK.  I am an educator - well, some of that will change, because we'll have to include this era in future history - ultimately, that won't change either.   Who I am, and my goal in life, will remain unchanged.

Kingdoms come and kingdoms go, but my God is still ruler over all, time and for eternity, world without end.

Oh, and before I finish, the other issue that has been raised in my mind is this.  Christians can have different view points on secondary issues.  I am not condemning or criticising anyone else's point of view - we are all entitled to our own. How these things are handled, and the grace and love that is extended between parties of differing opinions, has not always been ideal.  For some reason, Christians so easily forget how they are to behave when any inflammatory issues are raised.  THAT is sad.

If you vote for Independence, I will still love and respect  you.  If you don't, I love you equally.

Oh, and so long as I can still freely access my beautiful homeland, along with my family, I don't really mind who is running it! It will still be as stunning, in God's beautiful creation, as ever.

AND, if you want a video that explains a little of what it is all about, watch this...

The end.





Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Out of the valley {filling in the gaps}

Have you ever travelled through a valley?  It can be quite a daunting journey, especially in gloomy weather.  We once travelled through the Highlands of Scotland, to get to the Hebrides, and it was a dreech day. Those valleys seemed never-ending, and the journey seemed even darker at those points.  The mountains rose beside us, making us feel very tiny and vulnerable.  It was much better when the cloud lifted, and we got into more open roads.

Often in scripture, valleys are points and references to doom and gloom.  Battles would happen in a valley, because it was a place where one side was vulnerable, and easily attacked.

We also have the well known verse in Psalm 23.


"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death"


It's a valley that holds the shadow of death itself.  You can't get much darker than that.

The "mountains" of our circumstances can tower over us, and make us feel very, very small.

It can feel that we are wading through a darkness that is never going to pass.

There is depression, anxiety, doubt, and fear.  Many, many women have a tendency to think of ourselves in a low way - we see our negatives, our failings and our faults. Like we find in The Pilgrim's Progress, we fall into slough of despond. Overwhelmed by our circumstances.

When we get into that place, it is an obstacle to being in a place of blessing from the Lord. We're stuck in the valley, far from the mountain top where He longs to encourage and bless.

Our sin can make us feel like we are in the valley.  Whether it's the sin you feel, because you are a sinner who has never trusted in the Lord for salvation, or if you are a child of God who is acutely aware of their sinful nature daily battling with the Spirit.

There are many things happening in the world today that make us feel like we are in a valley - the valley of death itself.  So much fighting, death, pain, and hurt.  It aches my heart to hear of things that are happening around the world, and even closer to home.  It can make us feel very low.

Last Lord's Day Robert preached from Isaiah 40. He read a verse that I have heard many times before, as well as heard it sung as part of Handel's "Messiah".

"Every valley shall be exalted"

I had never really about what it really SAID.

The valleys will be "exalted".  Well, we know what a valley is - it's that low point, between the hills or mountains.  What about "exalted"?  It means to be "lifted up".

So, if valleys are going to be lifted up, it means they are gone - they are brought up to the same level as the mountain top.

That's exactly where the Lord wants us to be - in that place where He came to be that blest Saviour and comforter to us.

To be there with Him, we need to lift ourselves out of that valley.

 See what else Isaiah says?

"Prepare ye the way of the Lord"


Prepare YE.

We cannot slip down into that valley - the valley of despair and misery - and just sit comfortably, waiting to be air-lifted out. The air-rescue don't know that someone needs to be rescued if they don't put in some effort to alert the rescuers.  We need to exalt those valleys, and claw our way out to the Lord.  If we come to the Lord, He will come to us.

We need to cry out to the Lord, and make our way to Him.

The Lord came to bring us out of those valleys.  He came to save and to BLESS.  He wants to bless, but until we prepare the way, it won't happen.

We need to turn our back on the valley - turn away from those things that would make us doubt and despair - and lift our eyes UP to the one who can bless and encourage us.  Who will fill us with His love and grace.

It is no passive experience.

  "Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them. 
  Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools.
They go from strength to strength"
Psalm 84:5-7

This Psalm shows us the way out of the valley - placing our strength in Him.  Making our way one that is in HIS ways.  We pass THROUGH the valley - and it is filled with water and rain - the blessings of God.  We GO from strength to strength.

We don't sit, huddled on the valley floor, silently waiting in vain hope to be refreshed and lifted up.

No.


IN Him.

Our WAYS.

Passing THROUGH.

GO from strength to strength.

There is action required, by us.

The Psalms are filled with things that the write "will" do, and the resulting blessing that ensues.

We need to DO.  We need to be a woman who says "I will".

"I will rejoice"

"I will praise"

"I will be glad"

"I will sing"

"I will bless the LOrd"

"I will be satisfied"

"I will love thee"

"I will trust"

"I will call"

"I will declare"

"I will pay my vows"

"I will fear no evil"

"I will walk"...

I could go on - that was only up to Psalm 26, out of 145 "I wills" in the Psalms alone!

Valley experiences are both real and no respecter of persons.  They happen to us all.

Women who feel they are failing in their parenting skills.

Women who doubt they are doing the right thing in the choices they make.

Women who look around and see others, then fall foul to the comparison bug.

Women who have regrets and remorse for sin, which they fear is too great to allow them to have fellowship with their Saviour.

We cannot allow these valley moments to keep us from blessing.

Prepare ye the way of the Lord.

Come to the Lord, with a heart empty, ready to be filled.

Turn your back on your circumstances, doubts and fears, and lift it up to a place of communion with the one who can fill the valley like a well, with waters of blessing.

God is still great.  God is still good.  His ways are still perfect.  He is still able to do exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think.

We only need to remove that obstacle to blessing, and climb out of the valley, and level it with the mountaintop.

Don't be discouraged, sisters.  The Lord has come - He is our Saviour still - He LONGS to bless.

Exalt your valley.









Friday, 5 September 2014

My Menu Planner {FINALLY, some "prettified" organisation}

Today, I have a "Ta-da" moment.

Over a year ago, I shared about Organising your Meals. I found a really great idea for doing a meal-planning board.

It looked lovely.







Just my kind of thing.

I thought it would massively help my organisation.

Yes.

If I DID it.

Well, over a year later.... I DID IT!!!!

I am LOVING it.  I love how it turned out. I love that it has buttons.  I love that I will HOPEFULLY be better at planning meals now.

Do you wanna see??...

Ah! You want to know how I MADE it, first? Oh, ok then!

So, I salvaged a magnetic white board, from the back of beyond in my school room.  I used it pre-large-whiteboard, and forgot I had it, until a clear out the other day. Perfect size, perfect shape.



I got some double-sided tape, and put it all over the surface of the white board.






Then I covered it in pretty paper. I didn't have enough of one type, so I used two, complementing designs. 





My principle was based on using pegs (clothes-pins) to clip my meal cards onto.  I was in The Range, just last week, and they had these sets of pegs, with the days of the week ALREADY PRINTED on them!!!! ONLY £1!!!! BARGAIN! (I now have some family members who have a set - I thought they could be useful!) Buying these are what inspired me to FINALLY get this board made!

I also wanted little pockets, to put the meal cards into.  I found some little envelopes I had, and with a bit of cutting, sticky backed tape and pretty paper, I made three pockets.  I think they will work on the principle of "meals we have regularly", "meals we have less regularly" and "meals we have rarely".

I was  thrilled to find, in Bethany's stash of craft items, some stickers on a kitchen theme!  So, I used them to decorate the little pockets.  the children INSISTED on the first one, as I was reluctant to describe myself thus....







This next one is certainly how I TRY to make my meals, but Elijah sometimes questions the first part (he's my fussier eater!)






Then, I embellished and prettified it! I had a LOT of fun, picking out buttons, sticking on flowers, and finding ribbon!


  




I ended up with a bit of a "gap" at the bottom, so I thought it would be good to have a space to hang up some scripture, perhaps any memory verses we have, or simply good verses to be mindful of? 




This seemed like a good one to begin with.



So, that's my board!




TA-DA!!


I am really pleased with the overall effect...  the colours tone in with my kitchen and dining room, so I plan to (sorry, I plan to have ROBERT....) hang it on the hatch doors, so that it is visible from the kitchen with them shut, but also seen in the dining room, when they are open.

That's the plan.

So far, it's not quite happened, and this leads me to my last picture.

Can you see?.....




I learnt a spiritual lesson, on the way through.  I was reminded about the life that God has given to us.  Sometimes it is less than perfect, or a bit "messy".  Sometimes the imperfecttions are invisible.  Sometimes they are visible, and we try and cover it up, to make our life look more "normal".

Ultimately, like my imperfect board (people who know  us well may guess the culprit, who pulled SEVERAL pegs off the board, requiring repair....) we just need to pray for grace from those around us.

 I kind of hope no-one will point out its flaw! It will probably not be seen most of the time, but I will know it's there.  So, I need to show MYSELF some grace, as it hasn't quite ended up as perfect as I wanted. 

Likewise, as we hit problems and imperfections in our life - our marriage, our children, our relationships, our choices - we need to show ourself some grace. Not beat ourselves up about the "messy" parts. Instead, we need to put our best foot forward, making things right as we are able, and move on.

I COULD have thrown the whole thing out, because it wasn't right.  That would have been SUPER silly.  It will be barely noticeable, and still perfectly functional.

Our life is the same.  Even with messy bits, it's silly to just give up when things are less than perfect.  We need to press on, and make the best of it, most of all remembering that GOD shows us grace, even with our imperfections! 

"But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble." 
James 4:6

See, the HUMBLE! I have to be willing to put my imperfections on show, and press on!  Not one of us is without the messy parts, so receive grace, and give it in return, in equal measure.

So, there we have it.

My Menu Planner. 


Oh, if you are interested in my master list of meals, I can share! Let me know!

If you make your own, please send me a picture - I'd love to see it.  Or, link up and tell me how you show your weekly meal plan!






Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Blogging Through the Alphabet {Quickened, Redeemed, Saved... }

"But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)"
Ephesians 2:5

"redeemed.... with the precious blood of Christ"
1Peter 1:18&19  

"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;"
Titus 3:5


I don't think there has been any other post that has given me as much joy, as this one has.

Having to catch up on three weeks of Blogging through the alphabet, just LENDS itself to something splendid.

Something so special, it needs multiple words to describe it, yet it won't do it justice.

This week is the week that my eldest daughter, Bethany, came to us and told us that she has trusted the Lord for salvation, and has asked to be baptised.

It was funny how it came about, that she told us. I had been chatting with some online friends about believers baptism versus infant baptism.  I proceeded to further discuss it with Robert, when he got home.  As the children were gathering for family worship, we had concluded our discussion, so Robert took the opportunity to explain what Paedo-baptism is, and why we believed in baptism of believers, by full immersion. 

After family worship, I went off to make dinner for Robert and I, and when I came back through, a teary-eyed Bethany was talking to Robert. He told her to tell me what she had told him.

When Beth was 7, she knelt by her bed and asked God to save her.  The only motivation was fear of punishment in hell.  Earlier this year, I took Josh and Beth to the baptism of a friend's daughter.  By listening to all that was said that night, Beth realised that her prayer, aged 7, was not one of true repentance for sin, only a desire not to be sent to hell.  She realised that salvation only comes from true repentance, and an acknowledgement that only Christ, through His shed blood, can save from that punishment for sin.  She cried out to God, that night, and asked him to save her. In her words "my tears of sadness turned to tears of joy, as I realised that God had saved me from my sin". 

What utter, and sheer joy.  My heart was full, and my own eyes filled with tears.  

To hear your precious child claim Christ as her Saviour, is a very, very precious thing.  Not only is she my daughter, she is my sister in Christ - we are joint heirs with Jesus! 

In the coming weeks, we will arrange a baptismal service for her.  Then, she will be able to publicly profess her faith in Christ.  Baptism will not save her, or sanctify her - it is simply her profession that she is Christ's, and He is her's. 

Our prayer is that others will come to a saving faith, through her profession, as the profession of faith of ANOTHER Bethany, earlier this year, brought her to an understanding of her own sinful state before God.

Interestingly, Robert had prayed, with a deacon on Monday, that they would see souls saved in the Church, and that especially the baptistery would be opened and baptisms would take place!  How quickly God answered prayer!

If you are reading this post, and you call yourself a Christian, look at the three verses I shared at the beginning, with my Q, R and S. They pretty much sum up the way of salvation.

We are all sinners.  Dead, in trespasses and sins.  Not dead in body - we are very much alive.  Dead in our souls. The Bible says "the wages of sin is death".  Our sin has a price.  We deserve death.  Bethany was right to fear such, because it is what happens, not just to our bodies, but to our souls, if we die in our sin.  We will be eternally punished, in hell.

Praise God, that's not the end to it.

We CAN be saved!

The verses make one thing VERY clear, though.

We CAN NOT SAVE OURSELVES.

No-one else can save us, either.

I couldn't save Bethany.  I desire that ALL my children will be saved, but I cannot save them.

"What can wash away my sin?"

NOTHING BUT THE BLOOD OF JESUS.

Because God loves us, He sent His one and only, precious Son, who died on a cruel cross, shedding His blood, to save us - quicken - to make alive. Spiritual death, to spiritual life. Redeeming us - paying for our sins, so we belong to Him. Saved - from death, unto life.

It's by grace - that special love which God loves us with - His riches, at Christ's expense - that we are saved. 

Washed clean from sin - into new life.  Not walking in our old ways, and the ways of the world, but in God's ways, by the presence of the Holy Spirit in our life. When we are saved, we are regenerated, by the presence of the Holy Spirit within.  

THAT is what has happened in the heart of my precious daughter, and it thrills mine beyond words.

I can only imagine how emotional it will be, the day she is baptised! 

I love how the Lord used so many things to shape that moment on Monday.  Working over many different occasions, to bring her to Himself.  

I think, when we have been saved for a while, we can too quickly forget that immense joy that new life in Christ brings.  My heart is full, as I see it afresh, and rejoice, once again, for my own salvation - that Christ has drawn me unto Himself, also.

As the angels in heaven rejoice, over one sinner that has repented, will you not join me, too, and rejoice also? Pray with me, too, that we will see many more souls saved - especially our own family and friends - to the glory of God.






I pray that the Lord will help me to guide her in her new-found faith, and help her to grow closer to Jesus, and that the Lord would use her mightily in the extension of His kingdom.




Ben and Me


Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Looking for rainbows {finding the REAL treasure}

Rainbows are a thing of beauty.  I love to see them in the sky, and I love to use their colours in crochet! I have made various different items with those colours in them - they are always so cheery!  I have one, very special one, waiting to find a way to its new home....more about that another day.

I have had children, in the past, ask if we can go and find the end of the rainbow - to chase it down so we can be right next to it. Legends talk of pots of gold at the end of a rainbow, but of course, it's not true (if only!....)

A child, of course, doesn't always understand the concept of a rainbow.

There is science behind it, but the basics of it are simple.

You are standing in one spot, and the rainbow is there due to your situation.  You have to be near both rain and sun, and the direction of the sun in relation to the rain, makes a rainbow.  If you tried to chase it, those optimal circumstances would go, and the rainbow would disappear, too.

You caught that part, as you well know - you need RAIN and SUN.

Sun alone will not produce a rainbow, neither will rain.

The rainbow is a sign of God's promise - his covenant with Noah - that he will not destroy the earth with a flood again. We have come to think of it as a sign of God's promises, in a general sense.

He has given us SO many promises, in His Word. There are promises to suit every situation.

The thing is, we can't go chasing promises. We can't go making changes in our life, just because we don't like we we are now. We can't go looking for promises that don't suit the situation we are in RIGHT NOW.

Instead, we need to see the presence of the "Son", and find the "rainbow" for where we are right now.
Often, my children see the sun shining, whilst the rain is falling, and shout, excitedly

"Look for the rainbow! There has to be one!"

Such confidence in the laws of God's creation.

Do we have the same confidence in God's promises in our situation?

Where you are, RIGHT NOW, precious friends, is where you will see God's promises.  He is there, whilst the "rain" falls around, bringing trials and a feeling of gloom and darkness. God is with us always, giving us all we need.  If you look, right where you are, there will be a rainbow of promise, to give you hope and encouragement.

If God says "I will", he WILL.

If He says "I shall", he SHALL.

If He says "You will", you WILL.


"For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us."
II Corinthians 1:20

We can have confidence, no matter our situation, that God has promised us SOMETHING to help us in our time of need.  


 "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus" - His Pardon

"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee" - His Peace

"I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" - His Presence

"He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength" - His Power

"we know that all things work together for good to them that love God" - His Perfect Purposes


The list goes on - whatever your struggle and trial - whatever hardship is "raining" down - there is a promise just for you, waiting to be seen and to bring you blessing.  Like my children, you just need to look for it.

Don't try and get to the bottom of it - don't try and run away from the rain - just accept it, and find the rainbow where you are.  

There's no pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. 

There IS a treasure to be found, in every circumstance that the Lord allows us to pass through. There are those "rainbow promises", that we can claim.  What a treasure there is - what a wealth of treasure - as we claim God's promises, in those rainy days.  

And, don't go LOOKING for the rain, either! God has given us promises that are ours ALWAYS! Be glad if it's just "Sonshine" in your life, right now - the rain WILL come, as it does for each one of us! When it does, the rainbow will be there somewhere. Whilst the "Son" shines, there is much to give thanks for, and be blessed in.

Give thanks for the rain, and watch as the Son shines on your day, spreads that bow in the sky, giving you promises which are yours to claim. 





Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Have you got your brolly? {how we need to pray}

Elijah is one of my favourite Bible characters. The scene where he confornts the prophets of Baal is both amusing and challenging. So many parts of his life are challenging, but I was reminded of one last Lord's day, in the morning sermon.

It was a concept that brought memories, of my years in Scotland, back to me. You see, Scotland is notoriously rainy. Did you know? It rains a LOT.


It's still beautiful, obviously... 

Who am I kidding, though? It looked more like this, for me, a city girl....



You don't really think about it much if you grow up there. It's just part of life. One thing you DO learn, from a young age, is to be ready for rain at any point, and you carry a brolly everywhere.

Brolly?  An umbrella! (Not sure if that's an American word?)

I have left many a brolly behind on a bus, because the rain can stop as quickly as it started. I can also still smell that "wet brolly" smell, in my sensory memory!

Where I live in England gets far less rain, and because I homeschool, we also go out in the rain less. (No essential walk to school, rain or shine...) So, the handy brolly isn't so necessary.

If you know the life of Elijah well, you know that he was a man of great faith. He is recognised, in the New Testament, as a man of faith, who was fervent in prayer. It's what we think of, when we think of Elijah. He prayed for no rain, and it didn't rain for YEARS! Then, he prayed for rain, and it rained! 

What was noteworthy about it all, was that he prayed with great FAITH. He absolutely believed, without a shadow of a doubt, that God could do what he asked. 

No rain? No problem! 

Rain? You'd better believe it! 

Elijah had such great faith, that when he prayed for rain, he sent his servant running to look for the cloud, and he spotted it when it was still the size of a man's hand. Have you ever thought about how tiny a cloud is, of that size, away up there in the sky?? But he saw it, because he was LOOKING FOR IT. 

My husband had a relative with great faith like that. They were farmers, in a farming community. They had no rain for a long time, and the crops were suffering. They knew that if they had no rain the crops would fail, and they would struggle financially. His great-grandfather (I believe?), went along with some of the other men, to a prayer meeting, specially to pray for rain. They knew they needed to ask The Lord, and made special effort to do so. The thing is, only his great-grandfather came with living faith. He brought a pile of potato sacks, the old, burlap style ones, to the meeting. He BELIEVED that God would answer their prayers, and he would need to take shelter from the rain that would come. Not a single other man came with a brolly or rain covering. Do you know what?? IT RAINED ON THE WAY HOME!! He was able to hand out the sacks to the other men, who hadn't been prepared for such an immediate answer!  Praying, in FAITH.

It got me thinking about my prayer life. I think our small, human minds, can too easily take away from the absolute omnipotence of God. HE IS ABLE to answer our prayers, if we pray according to His will. That simply means not praying for anything sinful, which goes against His Word. He can do "great and mighty things" which we know not, if we but call out to Him in prayer. Praying, in FAITH.... BELIEVING. 

Have you got an unsaved husband, unsaved children, unsaved family members?? Keep calling out to God in prayer... BELIEVING that He can answer!

Are you having problems in your marriage? God, the creator of marriage, longs to hear and answer your prayers. Have faith....He can answer! 

Are you struggling as a mother? Is teaching and training your children tiring you out, and frustrating you? Do you long to see The Lord at work in their hearts and lives?  He can answer prayer! 

Is your health a trial? Do you suffer in physical ways, and struggle to find a remedy? God, the great Jehovah-Rophi, can answer your prayers! 

Work, relationships, health, emotions, attitudes, day to day life situations. Everything. Anything. God can do it!

But.....

Are you praying with your brolly in your hand? 

We must not neglect to BELIEVE. To really, truly, with FAITH, call out to God. Waiting, expecting, for the "rain" of answered prayer to fall. 

Before Elijah even went to look for the rain, he told Ahab it was coming. His ears were sensitive, or His eye of faith was 20-20 vison, because he told his there was the "sound of abundance of rain".  He wasn't just expecting a light, English shower. He was expecting "tipping it down" torrents! 

Oh, for faith like Elijah!! I WANT a prayer life like that. I WANT to see God's amazing answer to prayer, in so, so many ways. 

Don't you? 

Get praying, with your brolly in your hand! 



Monday, 18 August 2014

Character over curriculum {a review, and give-aways}

I mentioned to you, last week, about a new idea we were trying out.  I had come to the realisation, or rather, had realised we need to WORK on, character over curriculum.

Heidi St John had made shared this nugget of an observation, and I had agreed heartily.

What we choose to teach our children in an academic sense is always going to be important.  We all have different goals and methods, of course, but we all agree they DO need to learn.  Maths, English, Writing, History, Geography, and myriads of other subjects, are all diligently taught to our children. We delight to see them learn, and  to LOVE to learn.

Unfortunately, I hadn't really implemented the same level of diligence in training their character, as well as I ought to.

No matter what my good intentions were, I was still worrying more about which academic achievements were going on in our home-schooling, and less about the general character of the children.  I knew certain areas of their character needed work, but I hadn't actually got around to INTENTIONALLY working on it.

Along came a bundle sale, which included CHARACTER BADGES!

It's a very simple principle, but BOY have I already had some great results from it.

The principle is based around charts, and badges.  The charts record their behaviour - whether bad, or good - and the badges are given when certain points are reached on the charts.  Then, you can choose to reward them in whatever way will motivate, when they reach higher goals.

Simple.

But EFFECTIVE!

All the character traits are based on basic scripture principles, and include a card with a verse, and a Biblical application of the principle.

Then, each trait has a badge to correspond, with the picture symbol on it to tie in with the Bible lesson.

When the child reaches various goals, there are then 6 different award badges they can receive as a result, after marking their progress on a chart.

I have decided to do this in a focussed way, by concentrating on learning about one character trait per week, and building up to monitoring them all, once they fully understand what is expected for each one.

I decided to work on Kindness, first of all.  I read them what was on the character card, and we discussed HOW we could show kindness to each other. It was interesting hearing their different perspectives on that!

Then, I decided to add an extra, more focussed element.  I wrote each of the oldest seven's names, on lollipop sticks.  I then got them to each choose a stick, each day, and THAT was the person they were to particularly show kindness to. It was good to be able to remind them, throughout the day, to specially make an effort to be kind to that sibling.  I emphasised that it didn't mean the rest of them didn't deserve to receive their kindness, more that they were to make SPECIAL effort fort hat one person.  I know Simeon is still quite young, but I figured it was good for him to learn this principle whilst he is young, and also for another sibling to specially care for him each day.   It worked pretty well, although some children needed a bit more prompting that others! *aherm*  They enjoyed choosing their person each day, and I tried to vary it so that they didn't have the same sibling for two days in a row. There was the odd chuckle when someone picked their OWN name, and had to swap it for another! *I* had a chuckle, one day, when a pair of children who had already been "sparring", chose out the person they had been "sparring" with! Good lesson in being kind even when you don't feel like it!

I also chose a Bible verse, which we chose as a "theme" verse. We chose the obvious, but good, one "Be ye kind one to another"! Simple, but direct...

So, that's my plan for each week.  A new emphasis, adding to the already learnt ones, along with a verse to emphasise it.  I also plan to use ideas such as the lollipop sticks, to focus their attention on what they are learning.

I would add, that the lollipop stick idea will only work if there are more than two children.  I had a chuckle with my sister-in-law about that - she has two boys! *grin* "Here, Jasper, who are you to be kind to today? Zak? Wow! What a surprise!!"..... LOL

With my brood, it gives plenty of scope! (Equally, plenty of reasons to do this, as there are plenty of moments where they don't always choose kindness...)

I had one STAR child this week, who truly took on the challenge with great enthusiasm.  She has been VERY kind, and ALSO took on the "helpfulness" trait, as well.  She's already notched up the maximum ticks for that, on the chart, and WILL be getting a prize this week.  Voluntarily, she has been kind and helpful to me, doing jobs and willingly going "beyond the call of duty" to achieve her badges!

Another child has responded well to the concept of NOT wanting ticks on the "disobedience" chart.  He doesn't like to think he hasn't pleased me, but hasn't quite grasped, in equal measure, the concept of DOING the things that he ought to be doing.  He's young, and I trust he will quickly learn.

I would add that this works better with younger children.  My oldest two are not "doing" it, but they DID take part in the kindness pairings, and were also to take part in the principle being taught.  They just didn't have a chart, or wear badges. They ALL need to learn, AS DO I!!!!

So, who would like to win one of these sets?

I am giving away one of the Character Bundle Bundles - you can choose either the set for younger children, the set for older, or the combined bundle.  You will need a computer to download it, a printer to print it, and ideally, a laminator to laminate it all, for durability. It really is a lovely way to encourage your children to build Bible-based character!






Now, this is where it gets better!

Which home-schooler doesn't have financial pressures? Who wouldn't benefit from a cash injection into their home-schooling world?  A group of educators have put together a whopping prize of FIVE-HUNDRED DOLLARS, for one winner! They have called it "Bless a home-schooler", because THAT is the aim of it! Blessing someone who needs that kind of money, will bring much joy to the team.  So, if you also want the chance to win that, you can enter below!  We are really praying that God directs the money to the perfect person. (NB - You need to have a Paypal account to enter/win)





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