Thursday, 26 January 2012

A bunch of sweet peas

(taken in the garden at Shugborough Hall)


I love sweet peas.  I must make sure I find a space in my garden for some this year!

However, I am not really referring to the flower!  More accurately, it should be...

...a bunch of sweet "P's".

I saw this in a little publication that we get, called "Cheering Words".  It's a collections of short articles and anecdotes, with spiritual encouragement and application.

This one is from the issue brought out last November.  The author and source are unknown, but it was punchy, and a clever way of looking at the 23rd Psalm.

P's, by the way, are the Preacher's best friend, if he likes to alliterate, as there are always plenty of them to use!  Well, so I have been told, and observed, not being one myself! ;-)

A Bunch of Sweet P's
Gathered from Psalm 23

Possession - The Lord is MY Shepherd
Provision - I shall not want
Position - He maketh me to lie down
Privilege - In green pastures
Preservation - He restoreth my soul
Progress - He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness
Peace - I will fear NO evil
Presence - Thou ART with me
Preparation - Thou preparest a table before me
Plenty - My cup runneth over
Pursuit - Goodness and mercy shall follow me
Prospect - I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever


I think I will PONDER these things today! Much to dwell upon, and be thankful for.  And, something for everyone - no matter what your circumstances are today, I am sure that one of these "Sweet P's", will speak to your heart.


(not taken by me at all, but I like both the flowers and the GORGEOUS looking journals in the background!)


Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Chatting with Patrice





I am afraid that I didn't make the chat last week...things were a bit hectic.  But, back to normal today, all ready to answer some questions!

1.  Kimberly asks: How long have you blogged?

This, I need to check....I created this blog in 2009, and posted 2 times...so I don't think that counts! I restarted it properly last July.  Having read both Anne and Patrice mention 1 year anniversary's of blogs passing them by, maybe I should try and remember and do a give-away when then time comes.  Well, of course that all depends on what life is like PB.....post baby.  If this one is like my first 5, it will be a doddle.  If it is like my last mischief, life may be slightly insane.  (what do you mean "is it not insane already?"....)

I love him, even if he was my hardest baby.


Who couldn't love a cheeky face like that?

2.  Lana asks:What is the most difficult part of taking care of chickens?

The most difficult part, I would guess, would be HAVING them at all?....

Rats.  I know they can attract rats.  That would put me off something chronic.  It is, however, a little dream of mine, to have chickens.  Sadly, it appears not to be in the dream life of my lovely husband.....

3.  Susannah asks: Would you prefer to live where it's hot or cold?

Hmmmmm - either extreme.  I love our seasonal weather, so it would have to be somewhere similar.  My perfect day is a warm, sunny one, with a lovely breeze keeping things from being overly hot.  Sadly, it seems to happen rather rarely.  I don't like it when the temperatures hit the 30's C here.  It's just TOO hot for me.  Being a Scot, we are not accustomed to such temperatures.  The cold?  They have NO idea how to deal with it down here.  I used to wander out to my detached garage, through the garden, in the winter, with no coat on...whilst my husband and children insisted there was NO WAY they could go outside without one.  Huh....softies...

4.  Farm Girl asks: What sort of things are you looking forward to in 2012?

Well, I guess the biggest thing would be our new baby!  The weeks are fast ticking past, and i have only 11 weeks until my due date!!!  How fast they have passed! I am praying that I have another labour like my last one, and that the baby is as contented as the 5 BEFORE that...however, God knows best, and I will be delighted with whatever He has in store for me, on that front.  

There are no other major events planned for this year.  We do have a holiday (sorry, VACATION) planned in the near future, and I am looking forward to that.  We go away with our friends, and their 5 (soon-to-be 6) children.  It's a mad house, to say the least, but it's fun.  One of the best parts is that we womenfolk only cook ONCE each in the whole week!  The men sort out dinner for the children, and lunch for all every day.  We grown ups take it in turns to cook each of the 4 nights we are away, just for the consumption of the grown ups.  My friend and I reckon, as we are both pregnant (she will be 37 weeks...) that we will be having something very easy the nights that we cook!  Certainly, she has more right to that ease than I do! We are just hoping and praying that we don't suddenly get a cold snap, and get snowed in, with an early baby making an appearance! 

5.  Dreaming asks: What's for dinner?

Macaroni cheese.  I made it this morning, before breakfast.  It means that all I have to do is put it in the oven to reheat, and I can get school finished with the little ones. Although, I also have a grocery shop arriving between 12pm and 1pm., tokeep me on my toes! 

So, that all said, I must dash and get some work done with the children.  The morning has gone well, so far, so there isn't too much left to do.

It's Burns Night tonight....celebrating the life of the Scot's Poet, Robert Burns.  So, I think we will do some poetry work, and look at some of his more well known works.  See if my children can understand his broad, Scottish lingo...*laughs wickedly*

Nice to chat again, Patrice!


Monday, 23 January 2012

Matriarch's on a Monday - Achsah

Achsah?

"Who....is....Achsah????"  I may hear you tentatively ask?

Not one that you hear of many girls names after! *smiles*

Her Dad, however, is a name you will recognise.

Caleb.  Caleb - that faithful and mighty man, who saw God, and not the dangers.

Well, it appears that he raised a daughter with as much confidence as he had.

I love this story! I love the closeness that she had with her Dad, that she felt able to come to him with the request that she did.

The story starts in somewhat of a "fairytale" manner.


"And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjathsepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife."
 Joshua 15:16

The story begins with her being the "trophy" for the man bold enough to battle and conquer the city of "Kirjathsepher" (boy, am I glad that isn't a name I have to spell out on the phone, when telling someone my address......).  The man, bold and able enough, to fulfill this task, is none other than Caleb's nephew - Othniel. Othniel, you may remember, was one of the Judges, in the early years after the Israelites had conquered the land.  And TRUST me....you don't even want to start thinking about spelling the name of the KING he conquered, in the book of Judges....Chushanrishathaim...


Moving on...

Othniel won Achsah's hand in marriage, the city soundly conquered.  Of course, in those days, it was alright to marry your first cousin.  Just sayin'. It's not, now....

As a dowry, the father would give something, along with the daughter.  Animals, possessions, and in the case of Achsah, LAND.  A portion of the PROMISED land!   Their own place to call home, and build a life.  Quite a generous dowry, there is no doubting of that.

But Achsah was confident that if they just asked, they could get more.  Her original thought, was for Othniel to go and ask for it, but whether he "bottled out", or whatever the reason, she confidently and boldly stepped in.  It may just have been, that Othniel knew that she was close to her Dad, and that she was the best choice to talk with him.

 "Give me a blessing; for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water."
Joshua 15:19 

The land that Caleb had given was a blessing, for sure.  It was generous and kind to give such a dowry.    But, it was a South Land.  It wasn't the most luscious and productive patch in the Promised Land.  Achsah and Othniel had presumably discussed their lot, and decided that something more would be valuable, in order to make the land into something productive.  Water.  You cannot have a productive land, without water.    In their joint wisdom, they thought it best to plead with her father for springs of water, as well as what they had been given.

And, what kind of Dad was Caleb?  The harsh and unloving sort, who didn't want to give away any more than he had to, and certainly not to someone who was bold enough to ASK, and not just be offered it? 

No, no, no.  He was a kind, and generous father, who could see the need that they had.

His response?

"And he gave her the upper springs, AND the nether springs."  (emphasis mine)

Joshua 15:19 




With the love, generosity and kindness, that any father should have, he didn't just fulfil her request, but he gave her MORE than she asked for!  What a lovely scene! 

What a lovely picture!

What can we learn, today, and EVERY day, from Achsah?

Have we not a Heavenly Father?  A Heavenly Father who has given us so much more than we could ever ask or think?  Who has given us our salvation - our knowledge of an eternity, safe and secure, in His presence.  The certainty of eternal damnation, gone.

But we have many needs in our life.  There are things which we can clearly see, which are needful and necessary, in order for our life to be "liveable" or productive.  Should we fear to come before our Heavenly Father to ask for such things? Or, should we be so close to Him, that we can boldly come before Him, with our desires, and plead with Him for them?

Of course we should!!! Our gracious Heavenly Father WAITS for us, to come with such requests to Him.   He longs to meet our needs, and to bless us.  We need to come and ASK Him to bless us, for we know that true blessing can come only from Him.

Achsah and Othniel could have simply not bothered, and tried to acquire what they needed themselves.  They could have thought that Caleb had been generous enough, and that it was down to them to find water for themselves.

Oh, that we would never feel like that about coming to our Father in Heaven!  That we should ever think that God's storehouse of blessing has run dry, or that He wouldn't want to give to us...over, and over and over.  And,  certainly, that we should NEVER think that we can meet our own needs, without relying on the Lord! 

"Ask, and it shall be given you; .....For every one that asketh receiveth;" 

Matthew 7:7-8 

 "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?"
Matthew 7:11  


"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." 
Hebrews 4:16  



"Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God....But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:6 & 19



SO many promises from His Word, that He WILL give us, if we but come and ask!  Come boldly to your Heavenly Father, as Achsah came to her earthly father, and plead with Him for those things that you need this, and every, day.  Knowing this, that God can and WILL supply all your needs!



Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Sowing seeds, after the storm.

Do you ever get to the end of the day and say "that was a really bad day!"?

Do I EVER!

It was kinda like that yesterday.  We only started back school last week, and so we still are not back in the "swing" of things.  To top it all off, the children had left things around on Monday (a non-school day), and Daddy had declared they were to have no "free time" yesterday, as part of their punishment.

School jut didn't go "well".  Everything seemed to take forever.  I had to make dinner for the middle of the day, as Robert was going to be out in the evening.  Trying to juggle that (I hadn't planned the simplest meal - home-made pizza and potato wedges....but they started with "p" and that was the phonic I was doing with Susie!!!!.....), with the new schedule that my mornings have, with 1-1 with 2 children, was a LOT of work.  I felt like I was constantly running from one "thing" (be it a person, or a duty), to another.  My brain felt frazzled!  On top of all that, the older ones were simply NOT getting on with their work, and I was having to keep telling them to WORK!!!

Dinner, at least, was tasty, and enjoyed by all.

Then, we came to the afternoon.

I have a schedule that I operate.  It works well for us.  Mornings are "bookwork" - "Studying God's Word", spelling, grammar, maths and phonics.  Afternoons - "room time" from 2-2.30pm; book time from 2.30-3.00pm;  Tapestry of Grace work from 3pm-4pm; extra work from 4pm-5pm (such as science, Latin etc...)  Then we have tidy up time, and then if everything is done, they may get a treat of some sort, or just some more time to play, as well as dinner-time/tea-time chores.

That's the PLAN...but, they didn't get their bookwork done in the morning, and they weren't allowed to play....so it all went pear-shaped.  They did some "tidying" in their rooms - cleared up after dinner - and then took the REST of the afternoon to JUST DO THEIR BASIC SCHOOL WORK!!!!

I tried VERY hard to be patient, and just not let it worry me, but I "lost it" a couple of times.  To top it all off, Elijah fell asleep on my knee for about 1/2 an hour, and woke up VERY out of sorts.  (and you all know what a grouchy toddler is like?!)

Testing of patience?.....oh YES!!

But, on the whole, compared to normal, I just took it on the chin, and figured "it's just one day - tomorrow is a new day".

Bedtime was welcomed!  I had a lovely catch up with a couple of people on the phone, and it really cheered me up.

Today?  Well, I figured it couldn't get any WORSE...

So, Daddy said that if they got all their bookwork done by dinner time, they would get  a treat.  I also planned a dinner that I prepared before school began, so I could give all the time to the  younger ones, instead of running around like a headless chicken!  (albeit, a rather "round" chicken!!!!!)

More than anything, I had prayed that today would be better.  I am pregnant.  I am tired.  I need order!

So, the challenge was a great incentive for the children!  Even Susie was working desperately hard, on the little that she does!!! And, everyone was done by lunchtime!!!

I even had little moments to make me smile through the morning!

I had Susie seeing me take a chocolate biscuit/cookie (choose your description, based on your location!!), , for myself, out of the cupboard.  She said to me "Mummy, when I am a lady like you, *I* can steal chocolate biscuits from the cupboard, too!"  I had to then explain that *I* am allowed to "help myself" to my own biscuits - it's only when you take without ASKING, of something that is nOT yours, that it is stealing!!!! *grin*

Just a little opportunity.  Sowing seeds.

Then, I asked Beth to get Elijah to help her set the table, as he was getting "under my feet" a little, in the kitchen.  So, she merrily went off, giving him jobs that a 20 month old can do.  She gave him the forks to just put on the table.  I looked in though the hatch, because he was clapping and saying "good boy" to himself.  And, there he was, with most of the forks set around the table, neatly beside the mats.

"Did you put the forks around the table, Beth?"

"no, Mum"

Around the house I went, checking with each child, if THEY did it.

Nope, nope, nope, nope.

ELIJAH did it!!

Boy, that made me smile!! He had watched the others doing it every day, and had just done it himself!

"good boy"?....understatement!!! Clever, precious little one!!

And, on the afternoon went.  Children playing happily in their "room time".   Coming to finish work in the afternoon.  Lovely time of discussion, with plenty of sidetracking, for one part of school.

More seed sown.

We had pancakes for tea.  Made on my new frying pan (the old one had started to make them burn when I cooked them....joy of joys, the new one had them turning out perfectly!).  With bananas, ice-cream and syrup.  Such a special tea, to crown our better day.

Then, a phone call from a friend.  A chance to witness, in the clearest way I have ever had a chance to do with her.  Strength given, to speak that word in season, when the Lord gave me the opportunity.

More seed sown.

You know, in our day to day lives, some days are stormy days.  The "rain" -  falls.  Sometimes just gently - enough to disrupt our plans just a little.  Sometimes it falls hard.  That "rain" of things not working out - of plans being altered.  Of trials, dripping - dripping.  Some days its a storm.  Things just flip right upside down, and you feel you are never quite going to feel the calm again.

But, then, it ends.  A new day dawns.  New opportunities arise.

Children, all ready to start over with the things they failed with the day before.

Us - the Mums - with a refreshed heart, and renewed vision.  Ready to carry on sowing the seeds in the life of our family.  Sowing seeds of order.  Of learning.  Of right attitudes.  Of a good example.

We need the rainy days.  They are  chance to see how much we can run under the umbrella of God's grace, or whether we try and stick out the storm, getting drenched by the "rain", and only feeling miserable.

The rainy days moisten the soil - the soil of our souls.  Of the souls of our children.  Ready to sow the seeds, after the rain has gone.  Ready for growth, and for new beginnings.

Don't despair in the rainy days.  Even a whole stormy season will eventually pass.  And a day of showers isn't so hard, really.  Take shelter with the Saviour in the tough times.  Rejoice when the sun shines, after the rain has gone.

The Son is still there, above the clouds.  We may not see it, but He's there.

And, there will be shining again! ....

Keep looking for the "sun"!

Here's hoping for a "sunny" one tomorrow!

Linking up with the lovely Courtney today.






Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Tapestry of Grace....our "main curriculum"

Right....*cracks knuckles, and limbers up for a major ramble*.

Let's get to it.  The main curriculum we use.

TAPESTRY OF GRACE




So, how did I find it?  We used to use ACE.  I will not go into the why's and wherefore's of why we stopped using that.  We decided it wasn't for us, but I had noooooooo idea where to turn next!!!  I had ALWAYS used ACE, but as much as it was patently NOT suiting us, I didn't know where to start looking for an alternative.  So, I thought about the way the children enjoyed learning.  I thought about the fact that I had 5, going on 6 children at the time.  I considered that cost was an issue.  And, I started looking.

I figured that, having heard about them before, unit studies may be a way for us to go.  I first of all looked into the Weaver curriculum, produced by AOP.  However, I just couldn't find enough detail about it, or examples of it online. (This may have changed now, but when I researched it, just over 2 year ago, this was the case)

I then went onto Cathy Duffy's Review Website, to look at other Unit Study type curricula.  It flagged up Tapestry of Grace.

I clicked on the link.....


And I was thrown into THE most amazing website for a curriculum, that I had found to date!  It was SO transparent. They were happy for you to see and understand EVERYTHING. It allowed me to download 3 weeks of the curriculum, to see what it was like, and get a feel for it.




 There were support forums.  There were people online who answered queries really quickly.  It was bright.   It was interesting.  And, when I downloaded Marcia Sommerville's Philosophy of Education (she wrote the curriculum) it made so much sense.  I cannot seem to easily find this online.  I must ask some fellow users if it available to read!

It is a 4 year, cyclical, multi-level curriculum!  In other words...it runs for 4 years.  Any level and stage of child can be doing it AT THE SAME TIME.  Once you have done the 4 years, you go  back to the beginning, but the child will be at a more advanced learning level, and will use different books, and study it all at a more advanced level.  History is a major backbone, and it runs chronologically.  Being a "Christian" curriculum, it begins in Egypt (as Moses wrote the first 5 books of  the Bible, and HIS life began in Egypt!), and carries on through the Bible times, and then into post-Bible history.  It has LOADS of different fantastic books that they use.  *POINT OF NOTE* - if you don't like to use any non-fiction, and certainly not any myths, legends or "fairy stories", then this is NOT for you! You could try and cut them out, but there are quite a few of them in there!  They DO teach, right at the beginning, what myths, legends and fairy stories ARE, and how you can use them to your benefit.  That aside, I LOVE the choices they use!

It is a "classical approach" to home schooling.  What IS that anyway?...


What is Classical Education?

The core of Classical Education is the trivium, which simply put is a teaching model that seeks to tailor the curriculum subject matter to a child’s cognitive development. The triviumemphasizes concrete thinking and memorization of the facts of the subjects in grade school;analytical thinking and understanding of the subjects in middle school; and abstract thinking and articulation of the subjects in high school. Subjects unique to Classical Education which help accomplish the goals of the trivium are Grammar, the science of language usage; Logic, the science of right thinking; and Rhetoric, the science of verbal and written expression. Classical Christian Education is further characterized by a rich exposure to the history, art, and culture of Western Civilization, including its languages (Latin and Greek), its philosophy and literature (the Great Books of Western Civilization and the Christian tradition), and the development of a Biblical worldview with Theology in its proper place as the Queen of the Sciences.

(from http://www.classical-homeschooling.org )


So, to me, with many children, this approach made sense!  Having seen that different children have a different rate, and way, of learning, I decided this seemed a good way to educate.

Another winning factor for me...was that it is downloadable!  So, no expensive international shipping costs!  A few items DO need to be shipped, but the folks at Lampstand Press were quick and efficient, and overall the cost worked out so well, especially with the exchange rate! *grins, in a frugal, kind of Scottish, way*.  Since originally writing this post, there are more things that are now downloadable, including being able to access the curriculum from your iPad. (You have to get an extra license for that, which only costs an admin fee of $5).

The books that you need to use, are mostly available in the UK.  Many of them I COULD have got in the library, but as I LOVE books, and was still saving so much money, compared to the cost of ACE, I decided just to start buying them for myself.  Most of them have come from www.amazon.co.uk or from the Book Depository (the latter being the cheapest, the last time I bought!).  A few have been unavailable here, but I have just worked around it easily enough, so far!

The other thing to bear in mind...is that is IT American! So, year 2 covers a LOT that is VERY American.  I just supplemented with plenty of British History, whilst still covering the events in the curriculum.  On the whole it has a very broad world-view approach, and recognises that a lot of what has shaped history happened OUTSIDE of the US! ;-)

One of my favourite supplemental books, is....



Is is a great resource, and I love reading it myself!

I also used....




Being a faithful Scot, I didn't want them to miss out, despite them being half Sassenach! (and if you don't know what that is.....google it!)

The main structure is that for every year there are 4 units - each unit has 9 weeks. (For those wanting a longer school year than that, I added in review weeks...)  Your child will study at one of the 4 levels - lower Grammar, Upper Grammar, Dialectic or Rhetoric. (I now have experience with using the first 3, and by God's grace, and the amazingly supportive community out there, it's slowly working out fine!...).  There is a plan given for each week, with all the possible activities listed and suggested.  YOU then pick and choose what you want to do and what you will leave.  Maybe your child is more of a writer (WHAT is THAT like?!?!), and you will want to do fewer of the "hands on" activities.  Maybe you child learns by doing the "hands on" and you will have less writing.  Maybe your child struggles with reading - read aloud to them!!!  (Mine LOVE being read aloud to, even though the older ones love reading anyway!) WHATEVER YOU DO - do NOT try and do everything!!!!!!  YOU will become worn out - burned out - struggle to keep up.  Certainly, if you try and do it all when you start out.  Then you will want to give up.  But, that is not how it is designed to be used, so just do what suits your family.

I especially found the first year a lot of fun, and very interesting. It was very Bible based, and it tied in so much of the general world history, with what was happening in Bible times and eras.  Fascinating!

Undoubtedly, this is a parent-involved curriculum...and I don't just mean you set the work and mark it.  You need to be more involved than that.  If you don't want to be involved in learning with your child, again, this is not for you!  If, like me, you love to learn TOO, then it will be perfect!!!  I am sure I have learnt more in the last 2 years, than I did in a whole lot of my Primary Years at school!!!

There are just so many ways to learn, with Tapestry of Grace.  You are constantly reading and finding out answers for yourself (well, *I* do, too....but, I meant your child/children!).  There are assignments to go with literature - geography assignments (with maps available to use) - things to make and do - lots of writing suggestions (they have a whole writing program, called Writing Aids ) - discussions - spelling and vocabulary - a whole wealth of resources and links to tie in - and lapbooks, which are a lot of fun!


I have also written a post about the workbooks we now use, which I print and bind.  It makes everything far more organised here, and lets us easily see what the week has in store for each child.


I don't know if I have described it very well! I am sure I have missed things!! But, the best thing for you to do, is see for yourself!!!

If you go to this page, on their website, you can explore the curriculum, and see how it works.

There is also a forum you can go on, to ask questions, which you can find here.

So, there we have it!  If you have any questions, feel free to ask.  Better still, look on the site...it will probably answer your question better than I can!

Whatever you use to homeschool, may the Lord bless you today and every day, as you seek to raise your children for His kingdom.














Monday, 16 January 2012

Matriarchs on a Monday - Rahab

Rahab - this is one lady who I always struggled with.

Because she was a prosttitute?  No.

Because she told a lie, in order to hide the spies.  I could never quite understand why that seemed to be, well, ok?!  She was still saved, despite sinning to help the spies.

However,  I was thinking about her in the summer, as I was teaching a lesson about her, at our Holiday Bible Club at Church.

Rahab was considered worthy, to be mentioned in the "Hall of Faith" in Hebrews chapter 11.


"By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace." 
Hebrews 11:31


Ahhhhh!  So, this is a blog post about faith!!??  We need to live a life of faith, right?  We need to trust God for everything?

No....and yes!  No, the post is not about faith. Yes, we do need to live a life of faith and trust God for everything! 

When I got thinking about Rahab, a simple, yet deep and profound truth rang out to me, amidst all that you could sling against the character of Rahab.

Grace.

Simply. Grace.

What is grace, exactly?

God's unmerited favour.

But, do  you know what?  Unmerited simply tells me that I have done nothing to MERIT His favour.  When, in fact, I have actually done things that "DE-merit" His favour.

I am undeserving of any favour, because I am a filthy, wretched sinner, in the sight of a holy God.  I can do nothing - NOTHING - to merit esteem...

"What was there in me that could merit esteem,
Or give the Creator delight?
‘Twas even so, Father, I ever must sing,
Because it seemed good, in Thy sight."

(author unknown)

I have sinned....oh, how I have sinned.  I have done SO much that would remove me far from God's love and mercy - far from communion with Him.

But, oh!  God's grace.  His merciful, full and free grace.  His love for hell-deserving sinners, that led Him to die upon a cruel cross, and take the punishment that I deserved.  So that I could be saved from an eternity without Him, in hell.

So, Rahab.  Who was she?  She was a sinner.  She was a harlot.  She was a liar.  She was....exactly the kind of person that needed TO be saved.  Like me.  Like you.  A sinner.  That simple.

Was being a harlot worse than being a liar?  Sin.  All sin.  All sinners.  We are ALL sinners.

And, by God's grace....by her faith, trusting in the one true God alone to save...by His grace, she WAS saved.

"for by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:" 
Ephesians 2:8



God's gift to Rahab...through her faith...was salvation.

God's gift to us....through faith....is salvation.

A gift so undeserved.  DE-merited, from receiving the gift of His grace.  Undeserving.

Ahhhhh - this is what makes it grace.  

Undeserving merit.  

Undeserving love.  

Undeserving favour.

How can we look at Rahab, and see anyone other than ourselves?

Sinners.  Deserving destruction.  But saved. Saved from destruction, by God's grace.

How can we do anything but thank Him?  Thank Him for His grace. For without it, we, too, would be condemned for destruction, as all those other occupants of Jericho, so long ago.

May we never cease to thank Him, for His great mercy toward us.  His grace.  His all-sufficient grace. 

Naught have I gotten but what I received;
Grace hath bestowed it since I have believed;
Boasting excluded, pride I abase;
I’m only a sinner, saved by grace!


Refrain
Only a sinner, saved by grace!
Only a sinner, saved by grace!
This is my story, to God be the glory—
I’m only a sinner, saved by grace!


Once I was foolish, and sin ruled my heart,
Causing my footsteps from God to depart;
Jesus hath found me, happy my case;
I now am a sinner, saved by grace!


Tears unavailing, no merit had I;
Mercy had saved me, or else I must die;
Sin had alarmed me fearing God’s face;
But now I’m a sinner saved by grace!


Suffer a sinner whose heart overflows,
Loving his Saviour to tell what he knows;
Once more to tell it would I embrace—
I’m only a sinner saved by grace!
James M. Gray


Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Godliness with contentment

Do you know, life gets tough?

Did you know, that a lot of days it's far from easy?

Had you noticed, that when you are at your lowest, the devil is trying to just pull you further down?

That he doesn't WANT you to be happy?

That he doesn't WANT you to like your circumstances?

That more than anything else, he wants you to NOT like the plan that God has for you?

Marriage takes work.  There are REALLLLLY tough moments.

Moments when you are really not sure about how things are working out.

(*whispers*  that's what the devil says to you, anyway, in a quiet, subtle kind of way.)

It's lies, though.  ALL lies.

Trials are ALLOWED.  Allowed?

Yes, allowed.  God allows them to happen.  They are meant to be there.

But you have a choice.

WHAT choice?  A choice as to whether they HAPPEN?

NO.

You have to choose how to deal with them.

Are you going to deal with them GOD'S way, or YOUR way. (read that as "the sinful way")

There's no such person as a completely sinless and sanctified person.  I KNOW that.  I am not saying that's how you will be.

But, do you know what?  We need to at least TRY!

If God's Word tells us we are to have self-control, then we are to have self-control.  Yes, even though our child is having a wobbly, again - even though our spouse may say or do something that we want to give an "I know better" retort back to - even though someone has said something, or done something hurtful to us...AGAIN..... we still need to have self-control in what we think, say and do in return.

If God's Word tells us to love...to love in spite of failures - in spite of the faults of others - in spite of a day being tough - then, we MUST love.

Love....unconditionally.   

 Love.....unfailingly.  

 Love....with faith, with hope, with endurance.

What does it all, in essence, boil down to?

The title of this post.

First, seeking to live a godly life.  Seeking God's Word about how we ought to behave.  How we ought to think.  How we ought to speak. 

 DOING it.  

LIVING it.

BEING it.

And, what else?

Being CONTENT.  

Accepting our circumstances.

Not seeking something else 

ALL. 

THE. 

TIME.


Are you a wife and a mother?  THAT'S what you need to get on with doing. There's nothing better out there for you.

Yes, you may be busy from dawn up until sundown (and the rest).  But, if it's God's plan for you, is there anything better?

You may have a husband that is busy...who gets to go OUT.  Who gets to meet other REAL, GROWN UP PEOPLE!  You get to be with the children all day long...

The precious, wonderful, amazing little beings that God has blessed you with. That need you SO much.  That will be formed for the future by how you raise them, deal with them, love them.  Who are SO blessed by having you there with them.  YOU - the MOTHER.

Dear, sweet sister.  Do not long for something else.  Do not long for the "trials" to be gone.

Embrace the trials.  Embrace them as a time to put into practice the words that are given to us by God.   As a time to live out the life that we are blessed with, DESPITE the trials.

LIVE a life that demonstrates that godliness WITH contentment....is GREAT gain.

Not just required.

Not just to be endured.

But, GREAT gain.

Keep looking to Jesus.



"But godliness with contentment is great gain." 
1Timothy 6:6  



Linking in with A Holy Experience.


Chatting on the Snowy Farmhouse porch!




Can I just say "WOW".  Sorry, that's too soon!  I need to wait until my answer to number 3 before I get to say that!   Suffice to say, Patrice is, at least, getting some wintry weather.  She has snow.  I'm sorry, I have forgotten what that is, due to our lack in this part of England, so far this winter.  We had a smattering in december, but nothing to write home about.  I get fed up with the snow, but in all honesty, I do like to get at least ONE decent snow fall in the winter.  It's NOT, however, allowed to be when we are away on holiday with friends - the friend who is due to have her baby about 2 weeks after the holiday.  Although I am sure I could cope with such a thing, being snowed in, in a remote location, with someone giving birth, just might NOT be our idea of a chilled out holiday! :-D 

Moving swiftly on.  The questions.  The first ones of a new year (for me, anyway!)!  Missed these weekly chats, but life has been hectic.  More of that in a moment....

  1. How often do you wear a skirt or dress?
Erm, that would be every day?! I am a "skirts and dresses" kind of girl!   I am NOT anti-trousers, just pro-skirts...if that makes any sense?!!  I like being a lady.  I like being feminine.  I ADORE my very long skirts and dress (I only have one dress at the moment, but would like to get more.   Hang on....nursing baby coming up....so, scratch that plan! lol )  My favourite skirts are my denim ones.  I live in them.  I rarely stray from that style.  I have some needle cord ones that I like, too...but they are not maternity ones, and although, due to the style, I can still fit in them, I still prefer my denim.  My lovely online friend pointed me in the direction of a sale at jojomamanbebe, and I got a NEW denim one, this pregnancy, for NINE POUNDS!   BARGAIN!  

2.  Did you feel unmotivated after Christmas and New Years?

This year, definitely NO!  I felt VERY motivated!  We have just been through our house move, only a month ago.  It was such a joy to move into somewhere bigger, but the whole packing, moving and settling in had MAJORLY disrupted our routine.  I had missed our routine, so it was GREAT to get back into it yesterday! We had a new "pupil" starting school yesterday,  so it was all the more reason for me to get a routine going! 

3.  What was the last thing that made you say "Wow"?

Now, there' a question! I originally read this question on my friend's blog, and had planned that the asnwer would be, the owl that flew over our car on the way back home from being out the other day! It swooped in low over our car, and we all said "wow"!!!  But THEN I went to Patrice's blog, read about their wintry weather, and said "WOW"!!! Out loud, no less.  To what?...I hear you ask....snowflakes the SIZE OF YOUR PALM?????

WOW!

Even if I misread, and it was that a few of them TOGETHER took up the size of your palm, that's STILL big snowflakes!!!  We just have NOTHING like that over here! 

So, WOW!

4.  Do you shop with a list, or do you "wing it"?

I like to make lists, if possible.  Lovely lists.  With lots of things on them.  All ready to be purchased on a shopping trip.  They are a great thing to have.  With you.  Not left at home.  I do a good line in "left at home".  I left a cheque at home, when I specifically went out to lodge it, one day. *sigh*

Food shopping wise, I do my grocery shopping online.  It has a facility to type in a list, and I do that with the things I know I may not remember, and that I don't get very often.  Because, other than that, all my "favourites" are saved on the grocery store website, and I just glance merrily down the list....click, click, clicking on all the needed items! :-)  It's a great way to shop.  No trying to keep children in a trolley (shopping cart, for you foreigners....!) - no trying to negotiate hoards of people - no taking ages to queue up and pay (stand in line, for you foreigners...!) - no trying to get children AND shopping into the car, without bumping into the cars parked alongside - no trying to get everything INTO the house again, when you get home.  No siree.  Just click, click, click...wait for the allotted 1 hour slot....have a nice, friendly man (most of the time!) bring it all to your front door, and have your children ferry it from the door, to the kitchen, and, even, PUT IT AWAY for you! ;-)

*happy sigh*

So. lists are good.  

If I do go to the store, and wing it, I bring home completely unnecessary items.  Online grocery shopping is much better for my bank balance! :-s lol


5.   What questions would you like me to ask on our Chat? 

NOW you ask... I had thought of some, but I can't recall them now.  Hmmmmm.

"what makes you smile - a happy, contented smile - in the course of a day?"

There you go!  A question! It seems quite general, but if you know the kind of smile I mean, your answer would be quite particular! :-)

So, there we have it.  Nice to chat again, and catch up with folks!

Hasta la vista.

Monday, 9 January 2012

"Tomorrow, tomorrow, we start school tomorrow, you're only a day away....."

Where did the winter break go to?...

Oh yes, it got lost amidst a house move, and all the work that entails!!!

*grins wryly*

So, here we are.  School resumes tomorrow.  Am I ready?..... erm, pass?

Actually, I am...sort of.

I have all the books.

I have a lovely, new school room.

I have the children.

If you add all that together, does that equal "ready".

As I say....pass.

So, I thought, to help myself, I would outline what we are using this year.  This may, in fact, freak me out somewhat, but I am going to give it a whirl anyway!!

So, I will start with my youngest "student" this year, who is formally beginning schooling, Susie!


(Can I just add, she will NOT be doing school in her PJ's, but it's a cute picture!)

When we switched curricula a couple of years ago, I needed to find a new phonics programme to use.  I chose Jolly Phonics.  I have a friend who was using it, so I got to see it and get a feel for it.  I particularly liked it because it is British.  No weird (sorry, folks) American pronunciation of phonic sounds! *grins*  Sorry, that's not entirely true, as they are ENGLISH British people - *sighs*! It is also readily available from various sources.  I find that I can get most items I need from Amazon, for a good price.  With Daniel, we used the older style work books, but since doing phonics with Daniel, they have brought out these more fun and interesting Activity Books.  



They are much more fun!  We will also use the pupil book.  


It is all guided by the Teacher Book which has guided lesson plans, for working through the programme.  There are lovely resources that go alongside it all, such as songs to teach the soundsthe teaching guide with photocopiable pagesprogressive reading booksa story book incorporating all the phonic sounds and wall friezes.  



I also use lots of general phonics resources, such as magnetic letters, Jolly Phonics flashcards, and lots of free, downloadable and printable resources from places such as 1+1+1=1 and homeschool creations.  

For maths, I will use a whole set of books I have, with photocopiable worksheets, called Developing Numeracy.  I have "solving problems", "numbers and the number system", "measures, shape and space", "calculations" and "using and applying maths".  They have teacher's notes at the bottom of each page, with ways to apply and reinforce the concept.  

For science, she will join in with the others using God's Design for Science, where we are studying the book about "Our Weather and Water".  





General and fun project work will be done to tie in with themes we pick up on using the Jolly Phonics, in our reading.  I also plan to print an A4 size upper and lower case letter, for each letter learned, for Susie to colour and stick on things beginning with that sound.  I have some sticky-backed stars, all ready for "s" tomorrow!! I will take a photo of her finished "picture"! 

Phew.  That's Susie.  I think I will need to some back later, to give an overview of the curriculum used by the older ones!  Right now, I need to go and make some dinner!






Matriarch's on a Monday - Miriam

I have to say, firstly, that I am really enjoying studying these "matriarchs" and sharing my findings with you!  What a blessing it is to look for lessons to be learnt, from these ladies of old.  Often, the Lord has been showing me things that I had never before thought of, or seen!

So, on to today's.  Miriam.  She is the first lady we have considered, who is not a married woman!  That does not mean that we have nothing to learn from her - oh no! We don't have to share the exact circumstances with someone, in order to learn from them.

Last week, we thought a little about Miriam's early years - in relation to her younger brother, Moses.  She was given a vital role to play in the faith-testing situation that came about.  She was sent to keep watch over her little brother - to make sure he was safe, and to find out what would become of him.  She was the one that was able to run back to her mother, Jochebed, with the almost unbelieveable news - that the Pharaoh's daughter wished to adopt him as her son, and wished for a Hebrew mother to nurse and wean him.  HIS OWN mother! What a wondrous reception Miriam must have had from her mother.

The next time we read of Miriam, she has another joyful role to play.  We find her leading the Israelite women in a song of triumph, as they had passed through the Red Sea in safety.  What a joyous occassion that must have been.  Tensions had been high, as they were being pursued by the Egyptians.  They had seen them getting ever nearer, whilst they faced the barrier of the Red Sea.  And then - OH, so mightily! - God had parted the sea, and they had crossed to dry land!  What is more, the waters fell back, as the Egyptians attempted to follow them.  They were safe, and the Egyptians were defeated.

They didn't stand, with great "stiff upper lip" sincerity, and say "oh well - jolly good show - all is well - let us carry on"!  NO!  They picked up their timbrels (yes, like a tambourine! - all us Reformed ladies would do well to remember!), and (shock HORROR!) they DANCED!  They danced, and they sang, as they praised God for His saving hand upon them!  For His preserving power!  For His sufficient grace!  Who says that a holy life should be dour and miserable?!  (more to follow on that, when I share about the sermon I heard recently...)

They were not afraid to show their joy.  And, neither should we!  We should not be Christians who never thank God for His goodness.  Who never smile.  Who never laugh.  Who think that a Christian life should always be serious, and never joyful.  We shouldn't be dour, or starchy.  YES - the Christian walk involves a lot of issues that are serious and important.  But, at the same time, we have so much for which we ought to rejoice and give praise and thanks.  Not in words only.  Not just silently, in our hearts.  OUT LOUD! With a smile! With singing and praise!

 A little children's song I know, says this...

"When I put my trust in Jesus,
He made my heart so glad
That I put away my frowning face
For I could not be sad.

Chorus:
Oh, let the joy of Jesus put a smile upon your face
And let the joy of Jesus every little frown erase
Proclaim His grace, with a happy face, let His glory shine
And show the joy of Jesus on your face!

Did you ever meet a Christian
Who only could complain
Did you ever meet a gloomy grump
Who always was in pain?"

Oh BOY, do do I know some people that don't know what it means to live that principle!

"A SMILE?  You're KIDDING, right!?"

No, I am not!  We are to rejoice in the Lord!  The JOY of the Lord is our strength! In EVERYTHING give thanks!

Really, we have a lot to learn from the response of Miriam, to the victory over the Egyptians!

As we seem to keep finding, however, we seem to have to accept the "rough" with the "smooth" with these ladies.

A bit like me, really.

Hang on, who am I kidding...a LOT like me.

We find Miriam again, alongside her brothers - Aaron and Moses.  This story is humbling.  Challenging.  Spine-tingling inspiring.

It's grumbling time.  That joyful outlook she showed after the Red Sea triumph, was soon overshadowed by the reality of a sinful nature.

We read....


"And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman."
Numbers 12:1

Ohhhhhh dear.  The old "we don't really much like the wife you chose.  You could have done sooo much better.  An ETHIOPIAN?  A FOREIGNER?  Not one of our own?  Oh, and since we don't like your choice in wife, we'll just start to pick on something else we don't like"....

"And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it."
Numbers 12:2

Simply put?  They were jealous.

They did not like the fact that Moses had a special role.  That he was the messenger, who brought God's Word to the Children of Israel.

"We are Prophets, too...Aaron is the High Priest....what makes Moses so special?", was their basic attitude.

God gave them the answer.


"If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. 
 My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. 
With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches;"
Numbers 12: 6-8


We were also told a few verses earlier, in verse 3...

"Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth."


There's your answer, Miriam.  Moses was meek.  He was faithful.  He walked in such a close relationship with God, that He came down and spoke to him, face to face.  As one person speaks to another.  Not in special visions.  That was something special all on it's own.  Miriam seemed to forget that in her moment of anger and jealousy.  She already had a special job, not belonging to any average Israelite.

But, she wanted what Moses had.

She wanted.

Well, there it is.  The answer to her question,  all wrapped up in her desire.  She WANTED.  She wanted something that she didn't have.  In wanting, she showed quite clearly that she didn't have that same closeness to the Lord...that same meekness of heart...that same faithfulness...that her brother, Moses, had.  That heart that led him to being ABLE to have that special relationship with God.

Oh, how dangerous WANTING can be.  Wanting something that someone else has got.  What does an attitude like that demonstrate?

It demonstrates discontentment.  It demonstrates that we are not satisfied with the blessings that we already have.  It's not an issue of a NEED, and seeking the Lord to meet it.  It's a WANT.  And, as we say to our children "I want, gets nothing."

Or, if we are not careful, as in the case of Miriam....

"I want, gets leprosy".

Pretty harsh.  Or is it?  Complaining directly to God, that He isn't giving you something that you WANT?  Like a spoilt and indignant CHILD?  Leprosy, for only a short time, seems rather tame, really.

Do we deserve to stand before our awesome God, and dare to complain that we haven't got something that we think we ought to have?

Us?...would we do such a thing?....

Oh, dear heavenly Father, forgive me.  Forgive me for the times that my defiant heart has said "why can't I have...they have got it,, so why shouldn't I?"

We have all done it.  We have looked upon the possessions, or the attributes of others, and WANTED.  Our only motivation being that we are not satisfied that they have something, and we don't.

I am not saying, for one little moment, that we shouldn't have a godly desire for something that we SHOULD possess.  Like a more meek spirit.  Or a more contented heart.  Or a more faithful life.  No, I am saying it is wrong to desire something with a motivation of pure jealousy and covetousness.

Let us not forget the good, in the bad.  God's mercy.  He could have struck Miriam and Aaron down - just as He had in times past, with those who rebelled and murmured.  But, God is gracious...merciful....full of love and compassion.  He didn't take her life - He gave her a chance to think about her actions and thoughts, by having her struck with leprosy, and cast out from the camp whilst she went through her period of cleansing. 7 days of being "outside the camp" - separated from all the others.  Time to think upon her sinful heart, and renew her relationship before the Lord.

Lord, show mercy on us this day...this week.  Cause us to not seek after what others have, but rather to work on our relationship with Thee, and take our thoughts away from what we have NOT got, and rejoice in what we DO possess.

Thank you Miriam.  Thank you for teaching us so much.

Dear one, go into your day, rejoicing over God's goodness and protection over wickedness, and guarding your heart against wanting what you haven't got.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

To every thing there is a season

Happy New Year! 2012 has arrived, and 2011 is gone.

We were blessed last Lord's Day, in our Church, to have our good friend Mr Jeremy Brooks preaching on the first Lord's day of the New Year.  He brought to us, as our motto text...

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the sun."
Ecclesiastes 3:1

I really thought that this was an incredibly apt verse for me, at this season of my life.  We have had so much going on in the last few months, and plenty set to happen in the ones to come!

We have just moved house....we are about to start a new school year....we have holiday's coming up....we have a baby due.  Even day to day life throws up many different events and incidents.  It is a wonderfully reassuring thought, that God has ordained these things in our life, and that He is the author of all things.  He has a design for our lives.  A design that is for our good and for His glory.  Does it mean that we "get it" all the time?  No!  But, it is enough for me to know, that His way is perfect.

I think that when we think of the different seasons in nature, it gives us a fair idea of the different "seasons" that we can, too, experience in our lives.



Spring.  It's my favourite season in nature.  It's a season of new beginnings, of everything becoming new and fresh, after the cold, harsh winter months.

I like new beginnings.  I like, as simply as anything, a new day.  As Anne of Green Gables said

"tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it"!!!

I find myself failing....often.  And, to know that we can start again the next day, is like spring happening on a daily basis.  The past is the past, and today has so much potential.  We need to embrace all that a new day offers.

The best part about spring?....spiritually speaking?....is that God is ready and willing to forgive us for past mistakes, and wipes our sin and failures away, so that a new, spring-like day is even possible.  Such an amazing and wonderful thought.

I like the "spring" of starting a new schedule, a new plan, a new curriculum.  The "spring" of having the chance to do a better job of something.  The "spring" of doing something that I have never done before, in order to make life better.

So many "spring-like" opportunities which we can grasp, with two outstretched and welcoming hands - embracing someone with energy, joy and passion.



Summer.  In England, I can find this season a bit too hot! *grins* (spot the Scot!)  If we think of it as a season, though, we think of maturity - of blooming and growing - of warmth, and establishment.

This is when we are able to get our roots down.  Refining and developing skills or abilities that we already have.  Making improvement in areas of our life that already exist.

Getting deeper into God's Word.  Growing closer to the Lord.  Studying Him, learning about Him.

In the home, we can be developing relationships with our spouse, our children or our wider family.  Working on areas that we see need to be strengthened.  These special people that we have known for so long, and may take for granted.  They need to be deepened and nourished.  This doesn't happen without work, for "summer" is a time where we need to work.  A time when the conditions are just right to get things moving along in the right direction.

We need to identify these areas, and make them bloom, like a beautiful rose - opening up, petal by petal - to create beauty in our home and life.




Autumn - or, for you foreigners, Fall!  It's that time where we reap the fruit and bounty, of all those things that we have lovingly, and devotedly, been putting effort into.  For days - for months - maybe, even for years.  Things that finally come to fruition, after patience and hard work.  

Spiritually, these may be areas that we thought that we would never see fruit in.  Maybe, a child finally behaving in a way that we have been training them in, for what seems like forever.  Maybe it's something in our own life, that has been a struggle and a challenge.  Sin that we have been battling with, and that with God's help we have overcome.  Maybe it's a child who has come to faith in Christ, after years of prayer and tears.  Perhaps, it's a practical skill that we have mastered, or improved in.

Whatever it is, it is a time that the Lord blesses us with.  A time to give thanks for the fruit that is produced.  A time to see the blessings that have come to pass after waiting and watching.



Winter.  Cold.  Barren.  Dead.  Depressing.

Maybe these are words that make you think of winter.  Maybe it's a season of your life, where you think there is no growth.  That, in fact, you think that there is complete death of an attribute, skill, relationship, emotion.

But, do you know, winter is not a time of death.  There is an illusion of death.  Everything seems to be ended, and no fruit is obvious.  Winter, however, is a necessary, and God-given, time.

Plants need that time of barrenness - of the dying off of the old. Of the coldness settling into the branches.  It's a time that is needed, in order for new growth to occur in the spring.  In order for damaging disease and problems to be eradicated, in order for things to begin anew.

It;s a hard time in our life.  Spriitually, feeling death and barreness.  But EVERY season is from the Lord.  He may have allowed the "winter" of our life, in order for us to see afresh the new life that we have in Christ.  For us to die to the old self.  To put off old habits and behaviours.  To deaden them with a coldness, in order to awaken with the warmth of a "spring-time" found in a renewed fellowship with the Lord.  A throwing ourselves upon the Giver of life, to rise us, as it were, from the spiritual winter that we have been struggling through.

You see, the thing is about winter, is that the life never goes.  It is still there - hidden under the cold and barren  landscape.  Trees and plants just waiting - waiting for that warmth to return.  For the winter to pass.  For the nourishing rains and sun to bring life back.  For the leaves to bud - slowly, but surely.

We need the "Son" and the "reign".  We need to have Christ taking that centre-place, in order for growth to return.  We need to seek Him first, and "all these things shall be added unto you".

Whatever season you are going through (and you may be in different seasons, in different areas!), the Lord is still there.  The Lord knows your joys and your struggles.  He has a plan, that is perfect.

My prayer for you all, is that you see Christ  in your life.  No matter what "season" you are in, that you remember that God is the author of your "story" - that He is allowing that season for your good and for His glory.

Happy New Year!