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! 


Monday, 4 April 2016

Digging for gold {how to make the most of Church, when you don't always get to listen}

It was happening again.

I was at a Church meeting, and my baby needed my attention. Not just my baby, but my toddler. And then the next child up.

If you are also a mother with small children, I can guarantee one thing - when you go to Church, you don't always get to hear all of the sermon. In fact, sometimes you may do well to hear anything at all!

The thoughts of "Why do I even try?" can so easily try and push into your mind.

It would be very easy to become disheartened, and discouraged, but we mustn't allow that to happen. We need to to look at the situation with the right perspective, and yesterday I was reminded of WHY I have the perspective I have.

What is it?

Well, for a start, we don't just go to Church to benefit ourselves. We should be there, first and foremost, to worship God. It's about giving, not receiving. We also should be there to receive teaching. But, when we have children, we are also there to TRAIN them to sit. That, invariably means that we don't get to concentrate, in order to try and teach the CHILDREN to concentrate!

What I try and consider is that if I just take ONE thing away with me, that I can remember and put into practice in my life, or encourage someone else with, then it's been worth being there. In the moments between telling a child to sit quietly, and sit still, we hopefully get to hear SOMETHING of the sermon! I pray that the Lord will give me a "golden nugget". Just a little precious truth to take away with me. That's my "golden nugget" perspective!

Well, I was at a special Easter convention yesterday, where there were three sermons. One in the afternoon, and two in the evening. Needless to say, by the time we got to the third one, I heard little. I had just the baby through the first sermon, and that was my "golden nugget" moment. I actually was able to take away several things from THAT sermon.  The next one I heard even less, with my toddler there too (the first sermon my hubby had looked after the children, the second sermon was HIM preaching, so that didn't happen!), and by the third sermon my three year old had also come out the back! Quietness just wasn't happening, as they were tired and it was into the evening. I was so glad to have taken something away from the earlier sermon!

But, the moment that gave me joy was when I was able to so very quickly apply what I HAD heard. Speaking to various friends who I met at that Church, I was able to refer back to the sermon we had just heard, when trying to encourage them in their lives. THAT is what God wants. He wants us to hear and to put His Word into action - to be able to apply it to our lives, and to encourage each other with it. God's Word is LIVING! It's powerful. It's able to teach and guide us. It's certainly not something that should go in one ear and out the other, never to be thought of again.

Better still, the verse then came up in my everyday life in the days that followed. More opportunity came to apply those words to my heart and life, and the Lord engrained it further into my mind. He is faithful and good, and His word does not return void.







Take heart, fellow mother of small children.  Try and listen out for that "golden nugget" when you are in a Church service. Amidst the training of small children, which is very time consuming and can be distracting, we CAN take away precious truths and apply them to our heart and lives!

(I know this isn't a long post, but I am desperately trying to get back into blogging, even if my posts are short. Life isn't quite returning to the way I had hoped, as fast as I would like - a whole lesson on its own....bear with me, please? I trust that my words, though few, will still bless someone's heart, as much as the Lord blesses them to mine)

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Never underestimate {the power of a good example}

As a mother, I love the precious little moments where you simply have to stop and smile.

They happen pretty regularly. They are truly one of the highlights of being a mother.

Moments when my heart is so full it could burst, filled with the joy of parenthood. If you are a parent, you'll understand.

I had one of those moments the other day.

Susie had been helping me in the kitchen (she's only 8, nearly 9, but one of the BEST helpers in the universe, I reckon. Yes, I am biased, but even still....), but she got called away to another job. So, I was left washing up with no-one to help me dry up.

Or, so I thought.

Until my little 2 year old, Tabitha, came up to where I was, grabbed a tea towel, and enthusiastically began to dry up!






I didn't ask her.

I didn't even show her how to do it.

She just did it, all of her own volition.

But, DID someone show her how to do it?

Well, yes, they DID! I showed her siblings how to help, and she watched ME drying up, and her SIBLINGS drying up, and she just copied them.  She learnt by EXAMPLE.

I know it can work they other way, and I often tell my children to be careful what they do, because little eyes are watching. However, this was one of those heart-throb moments when you remember that they DO see the good, and they DO copy it, too!

Our role as a mother isn't just to correct and train, but it's also to be a good example. Not just in how to keep a house, but in our other behaviour, too.

If we are loving, affectionate, caring, tender, compassionate, helpful, and the many other things we SHOULD be, then there is a high chance of that good rubbing right off on our children. Only the Lord can do a true transforming work in their hearts, but He can use our good example as a means of drawing their hearts to Him. We are called to be Christlike, and little eyes are watching to see us put that into action.

So, whatever we do, day by day - whether it be something ordinary and mundane, or something more important - we must never underestimate the power of a good example.



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

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Be still.... {a message made for mothers}

I was browsing through Instagram last week, as I do. It's such an inspiring place with all the visual impact that comes from the pictures shared.

I saw a picture shared by Rebecca from Grace and Salt ink. It was very nicely showing off her lovely inkDori's (one of which I have), and the words on the journal said simply "Be still and know that I am God". (Psalm 46:10)

As you may know, I have a gorgeous little boy who is now 4 weeks old. Having a baby, and more particularly if you feed them yourself, you are forced to sit down on a regular basis, and sit still.

It's not a natural thing for a busy mother to do. We always have something we can be doing - especially if you have little ones, or if you homeschool like I do. Even if you don't, there are school runs and after school clubs. Mums, by their very definition, are active and "on the go". It's just who we are.

But, this verse reminded me of both a spiritual and a temporal truth.

It's GOOD to be still!

Physically, sitting still to feed a baby gives me the chance to rest. It makes me stop from everything else around me, and JUST SIT. It's bliss. There's no denying it. I love those moments where I get to bond with my baby, and put my feet up. Yes, I am often doing other things (like supervising school work, directing the children in their chores, or talking on the phone), but sometimes I just take the time to read, rest, and pray. Especially in the night, many people are prayed for in those still moments.

Everything else simply HAS to stop, because feeding my baby, which is something only I can do, MUST be done. It's an imposed stillness. If I didn't take that time to be still, my baby wouldn't thrive. He'd quickly let me know he wasn't happy, and he'd end up suffering from my neglect.

Our spiritual life is no different.

We NEED to make the time to "be still".

Why?

It's in those times, when we make everything else stop, and still our hearts before God, that we KNOW He is God. We are aware of His incredible attributes, and His wonderful nature. We truly KNOW He is God when we tune out the clamour of our everyday lives, of the world that surrounds us, and when we focus on HIM.

Mothers can be so busy listening to our husband, children, friends and other "voices" that we can neglect the time to just listen for what GOD wants to say to us. Stilling our minds and hearts, and finding God's voice in our lives.

It may be time spent in prayer. Something I MUST do more of.

It may be time reading His Word.

It may be listening to a sermon, or simply resting and meditating on how much we have to be thankful for.

But, whatever it is, we should take heed to these words if we want to know God better.

Be still.





(pen: Staedtler Noris Club double ended fibre tip
white writing: masking fluid with a paintbrush
background: watercolour wash)






(I listened to these albums during labour again, and this remains a favourite of mine.)


Wednesday, 9 March 2016

I'm back! {I should have said I was GONE!}

HELLLLOOOOO!

I feel terrible.

I should have formally announced that I was taking a break from blogging, but I didn't really PLAN it. It just kind of happened.

It went a bit like this.

I was tired. I was overwhelmed. I had so much I was trying to do that NEEDED to be done.

Then, I was passing on some advice to a sweet lady who was also feeling overwhelmed. Someone had said to me that it's easy to try and do things that are GOOD, but aren't actually the BEST thing for you at that time. Nothin' wrong with the THING, just that it's not best for that season.

I passed on the advice, then had a revelation.

I needed to take the advice for MYSELF!!

I took a FB break. It was just something else I didn't need to be thinking about. (I'm still not on my "normal" account. I had to set up another with the bare bones of necessity, because of groups I was in relating to school work we are involved with on the internet - but, I hope to get back soon....)

It then led to be me taking a general internet break. Which included the blog. It was something else that was GOOD, but not best for me in that season.

I have missed it more than the other internet related things. I love connecting with other Mums, but I just needed to connect with the Lord, and with my family.

I should have just let you all know, but that is how hard I was finding things. Just getting up the mental "togetherness" to write a blog post was beyond my capabilities at that time.

Truth.

For me to admit I was overwhelmed was a big step on its own. I'm a "get on with things" kind of gal, but I had to just acknowledge that I couldn't. And STOP! Rest. Have a break.

It's done me the world of good. It's been a help to body, mind and soul.

But, I'm keen to get back. Blogging helps me to thing about what I am doing, and to sift through my own learning and life. If it can help others at the same time, all the better, right?

So, what have I been up to??

I have to start with the most important thing, really....

I've had a baby.

I really must type up my birth story, but THAT is a whole 'nother story, not for today,

Suffice to say, he has arrived.

Yes, he.

Ezekiel Timothy Cordle - just a touch over 7lb 2 oz - born 16/02/16 at 6.30am. (After a looong night - but, I said, that's a whole other blog post!)

Enough of the gibbering.  Here he is...


Freshly newborn. Can you smell that sweet newborn smell?





I think he was a day old here. He's been so alert!





Sleeping...




More sleeping...



Oh, and more sleeping...





Just this last weekend he started smiling, too. Look at THAT for a smile! 





Mummy and Ezekiel.




I love this one. Tabitha had been so excited about the "baba". This was the evening after he was born. Look how pleased she is! SOOOOO precious. 




And this is when we went for a walk when he was about a week old. Yes, he's tucked in there in my Moby sling. All snug in my coat. 

Sorry about that. Got a bit carried away with pictures of a cute little boy.

I have sooo much more to share about what I have been up to, but I just wanted to say a "hello", and launch back into the blogosphere. 

Art and lettering.

Scripture writing.

Journaling Bible.

And, most of all I can't wait to share again what God teaches me as I walk daily with Him. 

I've had some really hard days in the last year, and especially the last 6 months. Really hard. I was soooo tired, emotionally, physically and mentally. 

Ezekiel's name literally means "God strengthens".

We chose it because that is how I got through this pregnancy. By God giving me the strength I need. (And, by the by, after the delivery I had, the name meant even more... more of that another day!)

I am so thankful for my faithful heavenly Father, who gives me the strength I need every day, unfailingly. As the hymn writer penned


"He gives me strength from day to day, without Him I would fall"


My verse for this year was Psalm 73:26. God is my strength, and He is my portion - He is EVERYTHING I need. He is sufficient. He is God. How could I want or need anything more?

I wanted to make a graphic but my photo editing program I use is acting up tonight. I remembered I have the verse on a special notebook I have (more about THAT in another blog post, too), but a shout out to the source, to give proper credit - Rebecca at Grace and Salt Ink, and her amazing lettering.





So, this is me - back. By God's grace and strength I hope to pick up where I left off, and continue to encourage other wives, mums, and women who seek to follow after Christ in an everyday way.

I can't wait to share with you about the things that I love and have learnt.

Be back soon!