Thursday, 28 June 2012

We have 100 - time for a give-away!

We have done it!  We have over 100 "Likes" on our FB page.  So, here we are with a give-away!

So, in order to win, simply comment in the post below.  That's it!

What's up for grabs?  An audio book of "One Thousand Gifts", from

This is a really great audiobook.  Even if you have the book already, listening to it whilst you are busy doing something else is always a great idea.  It's challenging, touching, refreshing and practical.  If you haven't read it, you will start to look on life in a new way as you hear God's Word on the subject of thankfulness. You will be touched deeply by Ann's life experiences that brought her to see how we should live life in thankfulness. 

You can download the audiobook to your laptop, and listen that way, or transfer it onto any listening device. 

If you are chosen as the winner, I will announce it on the blog, so keep your eyes peeled after you have entered!

You will have to enter before midnight of the 30th of June, so Saturday.

The winner will be announced next week!

So, get entering.  Share it with your friends.

***For an extra entry, blog about the contest, and COME BACK HERE WITH THE LINK, in the comments below!!!

***AND, if you share on FB, from the post about this contest on The Joyful Keeper's page, AND COME BACK HERE TO TELL ME, in the comments below, then you get another entry!  YOu MUST come back here and tell me though, as I have no way to track all the entries very easily, other than in the comments. Thanks!

Chats on the Farmhouse Porch - it's been a while!

PATRICE!!!  It's been a while since I checked in with you and Wendell, but here I am!

We have been having a horrible, cold, wet, British Summer, so far! But, we have some warmth back this week, and my kiddo's "caught the sun" yesterday at a lovely meet-up with some online friends! 

So, the questions....
  1. What's your favourite day of the week? Why?
That HAS to be a Sunday - the Lord's Day - the day of rest.

I *know* that a mother never completely has a day of rest, but on the whole it is more restful than the other days.

Firstly, I get to go and worship in the Lord's House, with the Lord's people.  Hearing His Word being preached, and worshipping in song.  

Secondly, we don't do school!!! So, I get a break from all of the busyness of that.

Thirdly, I do only the minimum of household jobs.  I make meals, with all the prep for dinner done on  Saturday, when possible.  I wash up what I have to.  And, I RARELY do laundry - only emergencies. No cleaning jobs.  Only the minimum of tidying, mostly achieved by making minimal mess!  All those things on their own, take away a lot of the work that I normally do! So, as much as I am still doing "mothering" duties, and regularly have visitors on a Sunday, it's far more restful than other days, and I generally spend the afternoon sitting down! :-) Either helping the children with their Postal Bible School, or watching a Church service online (via, or reading a book, or chatting with friends and family.

Yes, my favourite day - definitely! 

2.  Do you have a blog? Please tell us the name of it and how long you've had it.

Yes, I have a are here, if you are reading this! 

I have had it for nearly a year, and am having a week of give-aways at the begining of July! :-)   So, watch this space. 

3.  What's the last book you read? If you're not a reader, please tell us about the last movie you saw.

The last book I read, as in FINISHED reading?  If it is that, it would be "The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Romance", by Heidi St John.   It really challenged me in my role as a wife, before anything else...other than my walk with the Lord, of course.  

If it's just the last book you read at ALL, any part of - it was my bible this morning...Jeremiah Chapters 27-30.  Some really lovely, and challenging, verses today.  

"And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart."
Jeremiah 29:13

Such a  wonderful promise of the Lord!  But, I am reminded that God expects ALL of me - my WHOLE heart! 

Of the importance of needing to be saved at ALL.  And, that we need to seek Him while He may be found.

4.  Do you ever doodle with a pen or pencil while something else is going on?

Not really - my hubby doodles a lot.  I am usually so busy DOING things, that I don't have a free hand to doodle WITH!!!! I do jobs when I talk on the phone, and I usually read or catch up online when I feed Simeon.

Not sure when else I would have a chance  to doodle?....

5.  Tell me about your bathroom towels. What colour are they? Do they all match? 

My towels in my en suite are a purplish/lavender colour.  The downstairs loo has red, and the main bathroom has brown, or cream sometimes.  Dark colours are pretty important when you have little people around - you know, the kind of little people who use the towel to WASH their hands rather than dry them?  Hmmmmmmm

When we have the bathroom refitted, very soon, it will be granite and white - so, I think I will switch to black towels, or a strong colour to contrast.  

So lovely to chat!   Must get back to school-work with the children! 

Monday, 25 June 2012

Matriarchs on a Monday - Hannah - give and it shall be given unto you

We know, from our previous thoughts, that Hannah gave her much longed-for son to the Lord.  She willingly, but sacrificially, gave her son into the Lord's service.  After longing for a child, for such a long time, she was willing to give him back to God.  

Her sacrifice, however, did not go unnoticed, or unrewarded.

"And Eli blessed Elkanah and his wife, and said, The LORD give thee seed of this woman for the loan which is lent to the LORD. And they went unto their own home. 

And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters"
1Samuel 2:20&21  

After all those years of waiting for child - and, then being willing to give him away - Hannah is abundantly blessed!  She had no idea, when she so willingly gave her child to God, that she would ever have any more children.  For all she knew, Samuel would be her only child.  God is a generous God, though.  He wants to bless His children.  And, so, He gave her 5 more children.  Give 1, receive 5 more!  THAT is truly a multiplication in blessing!

When I think about this verse in Luke, I usually think of it in monetary terms.

"Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom."
Luke 6:38

Likewise, this verse in 2 Corinthians...

"He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully."
II Corinthians 9:6

I think, undoubtedly, that these COULD be applied on a financial level.  I have a blog post in the making on the topic of financial giving, and the responsibility we have to give to God.

But, I think that we can easily apply these verses in the context of the blessing that Hannah received, in recompense of HER giving to God.

She gave, and it was given to her - not just like for like, but "running over".

She gave, bountifully - she gave her precious child to the service of the Lord - and she received bountifully.

As we considered before, our children ARE something that we should be "giving" to God.  There are SO many other ways, however, in which we can give.  Thinking about the ways I can give has been one of these "Light-bulb" moments for me!

We can give time.

We can give belongings.

We can give money.

We can give effort.

We can give encouragement.

So many ways that we can give - that we can sow.  So many practical applications in the way we can give and have a generous spirit.  Some of them may actually be more of a challenge than money! 

And, we then see in these verses, just like Hannah, that there is a blessing in giving.  We are told that if we give, we will receive back - not only in equal measure to what we have given, but in GREATER measure! 

The Lord himself said,

"It is more blessed to give than to receive".
Acts 20:35

There is great blessing to be gained, by having a spirit of generosity.

Did you know where the illustration of "good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over" comes from?

I am reminded of what I do when I am filling up my Tupperware with my flour, and I am trying to get that last little bit, from the bag, into the container.

I bang it on the counter, "shoogle" it about, tap it on the sides, and press it down a bit on the top - to get as much into that tub as I can.

In the days of the Bible, when  a merchant was being generous and kind, when selling grain, he would shake the "measure" (or container) to get the grain filling all the gaps.  He would press it in, to get it all close together.  He would have it overflowing, to make sure it was filled right to the brim - as much as he could possibly give. 

That's how our Heavenly Father gives to us.  He is a generous giver. He longs to see us having a generous spirit, in order to give back what WE give to Him.  Not giving out of self-satisifaction, or to gain - but to glorify God, and honour Him in our giving.

How much incredible glory was given to God, by Hannah's giving of Samuel - how the Lord used him as a prophet in the land of Israel!  And, how much blessing Hannah then received, in the receiving of 5 more precious souls as her babes.

Let's give to God today, by giving to others.

We may not see a return immediately.

It may not come in the form we expect.

But, God will bless you, if you give to Him.

Friday, 22 June 2012

One year anniversary looms...shall we have another give-away?

I can hardly believe it has been nearly a year since I started to blog in earnest. Although I "created" this blog nearly 3 years ago, it lay unused for over 2 years.  It was last July that it became what it is today.

So, in true blog-tradition, I am planning to have some give-aways.  The main one will be at the begining of July, when we hit the 1 year.

But, to get the party started, if we can reach 100 "likes" on my FB page before then, I will kick-start the give-aways!

Once we hit the 100 likes, I will give-away a digital copy of Ann Voskamp's book "One Thousand Gifts", from Christian Audio.

So, go on over to Facebook, and round up your friends to "like" The Joyful Keeper page.  We are sitting at 57 just now, so that is only 43 more that we need, before I get the competition posted! :-) I was going to do the competition on FB, but could not get my head around the rules and regulations! *chuckles*  So, this way, the people who read the blog and are NOT on FB will get a back-road into the competition!

Let's see how quickly I can get this competition opened!

Go and get "liking"! 

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Occupation?....mother (you can stick your job as QC, Cherie Blair....)

I was going to blog about the subject of motherhood, and the joys it brings.  I had already started this post, and had it sitting in my "drafts" file!

And then....Cherie Blair comes along, and says the words that have triggered a frenzy of response from SAHM's around the UK.

Have you heard what she said?

Have a read...

“Every woman needs to be self-sufficient and in that way you really don’t have a choice - for your own satisfaction; you hear these yummy mummies talk about being the best possible mother and they put all their effort into their children. I also want to be the best possible mother, but I know that my job as a mother includes bringing my children up so actually they can live without me.”

Her basic gist was, you need to go out to work in order to have fulfilment as a woman.  That choosing to stay at home, and putting all  your effort into being a mother is NOT the best thing to do.  Finally, that somehow we do not raise our children to be independent by choosing to care for them ourselves.


Just, WHAT?

A friend I know online went to register her baby's birth - a homemaker is listed under "no gainful employment"!!!!  No gain in being a mother who stays at home with her children???

Now, I know that we have a God-given motivation for what we do.  That far transcends all other reasons.

But on a purely non-spiritual level, there is no sense in what Cherie Blair claims.  Instead, it sounds like a gibe at those who do not choose the same path in life that she has, and meanly tries to undermine its legitimacy and benefit, by criticising the role of a stay-at-home mum.

She claims that we cannot be truly satisfied in our womanly role, by choosing to stay at home to care for the children that we have been incredibly blessed with.  That somehow, that awesome responsibility and privilege is lesser to the choice to leave them in the care of someone else and to work outside the home. PURELY for the purposes of self-fulfilment, you understand, not just necessity.

What utter tosh.

Staying at home with my children is amazing.  It's filled with special moments that can never be taken away from me.  From daily joys and treasures - seeing them do things for the first time - hearing them say things - watching them as they learn to do a new thing.  To be able to nurture them and train them in the things of life. To teach them how to do many, many things that will be invaluable as they grow up.  As we train them how to live so that they WILL be able successfully live without us when they leave home.  It seems insane that she thinks that leaving them with someone else will BETTER equip them for the task?!

And, YES - I put all my effort into what I do.  It would hardly seem sensible to make the choice to stay at home and then NOT put all my effort into raising my family.

As I may have said before, it's one of the reasons why we go a step further and home-educate our children.  What better way could I choose to mould my children for adulthood, than to personally train them for the task - RATHER than handing them over to the ungodly around me to do it?

Feminism is seeking, day by day, to gain entrance into the lives of Christian women.  We are being told, as a lie straight from satan himself, that our role as a wife and a mother is unfulfiling, under-rated, demeaning to our role as women, unimportant and unecessary.  That we can not be reaching our full potential as women if we do not find employment out of the home. We are even hearing teaching in the Church that it's ok to abandon our God-given responsibilities in the home, to grasp for "more important things" in the workplace.  It's oh, so subtle.  But, it's happening.

Did you ever stop and wonder WHAT possessed you to become a mother?

I mean, look at all those high powered women out there in "working land", with degrees aplenty, and varied and interesting occupations.  All these women promoted by the likes of Cherie Blair - who have reached the highest echelons of working society.

And, you're a MUM?

How interesting and educated could THAT be, anyway?

Well now, what am I?

I am a mathematician - the times in a day that I count are inumerable.  The tiny toes of a baby, whilst ptuting on his socks.  Up and down the stairs with a toddler.  Hearing a little girl count playing hide and seek - "24, 25, 26, 27, 28 19....!!!"

I am an art critic - pictures aplenty, all to be taken in, admired and commented upon.

I belong to the "grammar" police - "I went, not I wented, darling"

I am a language specialist - I can translate from "Abigail" into English,  and am beginning to understand "Elijah" fluently.

I am a cooking genius - well, so I am told by numerous small people and a loving husband.

I am a laundry expert - I can get 6 loads of laundry washed, dried, folded and put away in the course of a day.

I can make dinner, whilst simultaneously....listening to a small child do their reading, unloading the dishwasher, thinking about what I will be doing that afternoon, sorting out a disagreement between 2 small children, conjugating verbs with a 6 year old, doing the 11 times tables with a 9 year old, and assisting a ten year old with a good "-ly" adverb to fit his writing assignment.   WITHOUT burning the dinner.

I am a judge, and jury - sorting out complicated and meaningful issues innumerable times in a day.

I am an accountant, who can juggle our income to accommodate multiple purchases of shoes, for the best price, as each season comes and goes.

I am a stock-keeper, who manages clothes rotation on a bi-annual basis.

I am interior designer - hunting for items of soft-furnishing and such like, to "build my home" into a place of beauty.

I am a teacher - I have now taught 4 children to read, and continue to educate them in all the essential areas of life.

I am a nurse, who can soothe the many ailments of  small people - from cuts, to bumps, to fevers, to little hurts that just need a "special kiss" to make them all better.

I am a musician - providing music and singing throughout the day, and every evening.

I am a politician - who sorts out issues with my "constituents", in line with my "Prime Minister's" requirements.

More than anything else, I am a "religious leader".

I teach and train my children, in the way that the Lord instructs me to, according to the precious word of God.

If we want to talk about being satisfied with our choices, then you are looking at one VERY satisfied woman.  I could NOT imagine wanting to leave my children, in order to find some ill-conceived satisfaction in something OTHER than my God-given role as a wife and mother.  To be off attempting to find joy in an occupation that doesn't involve that sweet, special and incredibly fulfilling bond with my precious children.

Cherie Blair?....

You can keep your QC job.

And I will keep my job as a mummy. :-)

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Bear with me...

I am having a fiddle with templates - it may stay this way, it may not!  Watch this space whilst I decide what I want!!!!

Announcement over! 

Priorities - and a WINNER!

You may remember, in my post about Heidi's book here, that I said that the main theme of her book is priorities?

Getting things in the right order - remembering what is most important?

Well, today I had the joy of listening to Heidi speak online, on a radio programme.  The lady who was hosting the programme mentioned this quote of Heidi's...

Character before curriculum - marriage before mothering.

Training our children up in the character that reflects God's Word and ways, FAR exceeds in importance over the nuts and bolts of our curriculum choices.

Nurturing our marriage - our relationship with our husband - must come first in importance over our mothering.  If our marriage is not strong...not a good example to our children...not honouring to the Lord...then the devil will wheedle his way in and destroy first our marriage - and then our children.

So, I got all creative and made some printables to remind me of this.

And, in the spirit of giving freely - I want to share it with you! :-)

Here is the link to print it. 

I thought it needed some choices, so....

Here is the link for this one.

And Here is the link for this one.

This is the last one.

I think I need this somewhere fairly central, so I don't forget!


And, drum rollllllll...................

The winner of Heidi's


It will be winging its way to you soon!  Look out for your e-mail from me!

Commiserations to the others - UK folks should be able to purchase them here soon.  Those from the USA need to look out on Heidi's website and FB page for great deals, as well as being able to purchase them directly from their online store.  Remember, you are helping to support their ministry by purchasing the books. 

Monday, 18 June 2012

Matriarchs on a Monday - Hannah - Praising God

My thoughts today turn toward the lovely portion of Hannah's praise to the Lord.

She had come to the Lord, seeking to have a child, and then so willingly had given him back to God.  and, now here she is giving Him all the glory and praise! Praising Him for being so many things.  For being God, who knows what is best for us ALL the time.

She begins, simply by showing her joy, and praising God.

"My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: "

How can we NOT praise God - He gives us so much more than we deserve, and all that we need.  And, we SO easily forget to take joy in these simple things, and even in the big things! We can be so caught up in the answer to our prayers, that we can forget to give the thanks back to God.

She then turns her thoughts to God's perfection.  It is this holiness, and perfection, that means He can do no wrong, and so whatever He deems our lot in life, is perfect also.

"There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God."

She carries on to acknowledge God's plan - His sovereignty over the ways of His children. 

"The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up. 
 The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up. 
 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory:"

Any merit and blessing that we see in our lives, is simply a gift and provision of the Lord.  

HE gives us life.

HE gives us riches.

HE gives us honour.

HE gives us an inheritance, incorruptible, undefiled, that fadeth not away - reserved in heaven for us!

We need to stop, today - stop, and take stock of what great things God has done for us.  Our humanity would incline us, as Hannah had done, to wallow in self pity and only see the bad.

But, that is not what God wants from us.

Man's chief end is to GLORIFY God, and to ENJOY Him!  That cannot be done when pondering the negatives, and forgetting to praise Him.

If you start to count your blessings - to find things to rejoice in - you will find that you can be lifted from sorrow to song.  Just like Hannah, who turned from dejection, to declaring God's goodness and greatness.  Even though she had just carried a life within her for 9 months, cherished him for a couple of years and then given him away - she was STILL rejoicing and praising God!!! 

SO much to praise Him for.  

SO much to thank Him for.

I have been listening to The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom.  It has truly challenged my heart.  To hear Bessie, her sister, pointing out the reasons to give thanks - in a flea-ridden, overcrowded, foul, stinking, depressing, Extermination Camp in Germany, with t he possibility of illness and death hanging over them ALL the time.  If SHE could give thanks in that situation, how can I NOT find so many reasons to be praising God in my comfortable life?

Let's raise our voices with Hannah today, in our praise to God for His wonderful ways in our lives!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Don't be a rotten egg

I just LOVE oppurtunities that God gives us to teach our children lessons.

Better still, I love that God teaches us Mum's lessons at the same time.

We had been without a microwave since last week, and the children had missed making themselves scrambled eggs for breakfast.  So, when the new one arrived yesterday, Bethany was quick to offer her services, making scrambled eggs for the children's breakfast today.

She started to crack the eggs into the bowl, as always.



"yes, Beth"

"I think there's something wrong with this egg - it just kind of exploded when I cracked it into the bowl, and you should see what colour it is!"

The colours you see above are VERY real, and not at all photo-shopped!  Green - yup!  And that manky black, too.  And, be glad there is no smelly-net....

It was my first EVER (quite an achievement, maybe?!?) rotten egg.

We had often pondered how we would know if an egg was rotten, and I thought it was just the smell.  But, nooooooo siree.  It looks pretty awful, too!

How could I miss the opportunity of using it as an object lesson?? 

First off, we had to throw that bowl of eggs out - in a bag ALL of its own, and straight into the outside bin.  NOT a scent you want to have lingering in the kitchen! *bleugh*

So, that led us to the multiple object lessons.  

That ONE bad egg ruined all the others.  The good eggs could not make the bad egg "good".  They were all fit for nothing once they had been contaminated.

I explained to Bethany that it was like sin.  If we let sin into our lives, it affects everything.  Even just one besetting sin, tarnishes us completely.  Sin ruins us.  It eliminates us from being "good" in any way, and are only fit for destruction.   Thank God for His grace, and that He continues to wash our sins away as we come to Him in confession! 

It was also a perfect lesson on the company we keep, and how it affects us.

If we choose a bad friend, even though we are surrounded by good friends, it's going to have a bad influence on us.  It's far less likely that the good will improve the bad.  We need to be so wise in the company we keep.

I also explained that it shows us how a bad attitude affects those around us.  If we let that "bad egg" personality come out, it's going to make those around us feel bad, or grumpy, or miserable, or angry - whatever that bad attitude is!  

So much to learn, from a bad egg!!!

We need to take these opportunities, and use them to teach our children.  They will remember these lessons so well, if we use memorable events to cement them in their minds.

And, as always, my own heart was pricked and I am trying my best not to be a "bad egg" in the home today, and there is no "bad smell" from my behaviour, tainting my children around me. 

See what you can use to teach your children, in the opportunities that God presents you with today.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Romance...and a give-away!

Finally, I am getting around to sharing with you about one of Heidi's books!

Heidi has written two books, so far, and this was her first.

Firstly let me address the title, which may make some of you think it is not relevant to you!  As much as the title refers to it as being related to the "Homeschool Mom", this book could be appreciated and valued by any wife and mother.  The issues which are dealt with can equally apply within the marriage of any woman.

I would sum up the book in one word.


So easily, we can lose sight of the things that are important in life. We can place more importance on things than they deserve.

Marriage is one of them.  Our relationship with our husband can easily fall by the wayside, if we become immersed in the duties and responsibilities of parenthood and home-schooling.  That's not how things are meant to be.

Heidi shares many important elements, from her years of marriage and being a homeschool Mom.  She writes with wit and wisdom, and is mighty good at "keeping it real"!  She encourages us to be honest about our marriage, and where our priorities lie. Heidi emphasises that in order for our marriage to be successful we need to keep our focus on the Lord, and our walk with Him.

Things are NOT always easy as a homeschooling Mum... in fact, as Heidi says

"homeschooling makes marriage more challenging, not less."

However, because marriage is the primary relationship in the family

"it's the first relationship the Enemy will try to tear down."

SO true.  So, we need to nurture our marriage - to protect it.

If we allow the spark to go, the flame will die out and there will be no warmth or energy in our marriage. We need to work at keeping that spark!

Heidi ably manages to address many different areas, in which we need to endeavour that our efforts are being exercised, to keep our marriage strong.

"there is no formula" - rather we are exhorted to "love our husbands as God designed you to love him."

The chapter headings will give you an idea of what you can glean from the book.

A Cord of Three Strands - this covers who we are in Christ, and the primary importance of identifying and working on that area before anything else.

That Girl - encourages us to think back to the girl our husband fell in love with, and grab her back again!

White Space - deal with making quality time with each other, in whatever way suits our home life. PLANNING to spend time with each other, instead of accidentally finding that our paths collide!

Virtual Reality - ensuring that we don't become ensnared in a virtual life on the internet, whilst neglecting the people that are real.

Hoomeschool Headache - this chapter deals with how our homeschooling life can profoundly affect our physical relationship with our husband, by sucking the energy away from our intimate time with our husband. A very practical, but crucial chapter!

Being Naked - we're not talking physical here - but in out communication with each other. How we communicate with our husband is SO important.

Parallel Lives - have you ever heard of parallel living?...when you both live a life, very close together, but never quite meeting at any point?  Heidi gives us advice on how to avoid this.

Moment of Truth - your marriage is NOT immune to the attacks of the devil and the threat of divorce.  We need to battle to prevent it happening.

When it Hurts - things may not be right in your marriage - but, it's never too late to get things back on track!

Love for a Lifetime - Heidi shares the touching story of her dear grandparents, and reminds us that we need to finish well.

The book is filled with great ideas from Heidi and scriptural wisdom from God's Word.  She will, almost certainly, make you laugh - and, as equally certain, bring tears to your eyes.

Challenging, encouraging and engaging - this book is a must if you want to relight the flame in your marriage.

I've had the privilege of meeting Jay and Heidi.  They quite clearly have a marriage that oozes love, tenderness and closeness - that is so very evident.  If the Lord has given them all of that, and her book is the  sharing of that experience...then you need to read it, too!

Now, to the fun part!  I like fun!

A give-away! Woohoo!

I have a SIGNED copy of Heidi's book to give away.

Last give-away, I did not make things very clear, so I shall attempt to do better read carefully and here goes!

There are several ways to have an entry, all of which will require you making a comment below to tell me you have done what you have done! *grin*

1. Comment in the "comments" section below, stating you would like to receive the book.  Otherwise, it means people who enjoyed the post, but do not need the book (eg they already have one!), cannot comment!

2. Share about the give-away on your blog or website - THEN come back and tell me you have done so - share the link to your blog, so others can come and visit you! :-)

3. Tell your friends about the give-away - and for every friend who tells me HERE that you told them, YOU will receive an extra entry, as well as the friend having their first entry, too!  Are you still with me here?

4. "like" The Joyful Keeper FB page, if you have not done so already, and after commenting on the wall, come back and tell me here.

5. Have your friends "like" The Joyful Keeper FB page.  If they tell me you suggested they do so, both of you will get an entry once they come back and comment here, telling me the referral was from you.

AND......if we get the FB "likes" above 100 by doing this, I will do another give-away!

I really hope that was all clear!!!

So, who would like one of Heidi's books?!

And, for those interested in purchasing, from the UK...I am hoping to have some of Heidi's books shipped over here for people to purchase, including her latest book "The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Daylight".  I still need to read and write a review on that one, and currently have no copies to give away.  *insert sad face*

The other good news is that Heidi is recording the "romance" book as an audio book, which will be available ASAP! Go Heidi!

So, join in the give-away, and learn about becoming "that girl".....

And, linking up with the Time Warp Wife, Darlene today! :-), and with Courtney at Women Living Well.


Monday, 11 June 2012

Matriarchs on a Monday - Hannah - giving our everything

"For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him: 
Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD;"
1Samuel 1:27-28  

Here we find a truly humbling, challenging, indeed ASTONISHING, act of sacrifice.

Hannah had gone YEARS without a child.  She had agonised and sorrowed over the barrenness of her womb.  Of her absence of the blessing of a child.

The Lord, in His grace and goodness, grants her wish.  Her prayer is answered, and she has a son - naming his Samuel, "heard of God".  His name expressing the joy and answer to her prayers.

And yet, she doesn't selfishly seek to hold onto him as tightly as she can, and never let him go.  It would be tempting, I am sure. To have him always by her side - to never let him out of her sight.  

However, her choice that she makes is an indication of her devotion to God.  

She gives him right back.

She makes a promise to give him to the Lord, in service to Him.

To let him go.

We're not just talking figuratively, here - but physically, GIVING him back.

I can hardly understand it.  In fact, it makes my heart do funny things just THINKING about it.  Having now gone through the process of pregnancy and child birth seven times, the thought of then raising them up for a few years, and then voluntarily giving them away, is unthinkable.

And yet, that is exactly what Hannah did.  With her one and only child, not even knowing if she would ever have any more.  Such was her love and devotion to God, that she was willing to give him back, as a sign of her thankfulness to God.

How sacrificially do we live?  

What are we willing to give up to God, to show Him that we love Him?

Do we happily give away a few second hand items to a missionary, hoping they may get some more use out of them?....or do we give our best to those who have a need?

Do we give the Lord the snatched moments of our days, to spend in communion with Him?...or do we make the time to read our Bible and pray?

Do we give the minimum tithe, and not a penny more?...or do we give as much as we can to the work of the Lord?

Do we help others in need with the minimum that we can get away with?...or do we give of our time, efforts, money or belongings in a sacrificial way?

What about our children?  Do we work away at making sure they "do us proud", or do we look to giving them wholly to the Lord?  Are we willing to say to the Lord "thy will be done", when it comes to the lives of our loved ones?  Can we fully leave their circumstances and needs in the hands of the One who gave them to us in the first place, or do we try and take control with our puny, weak and temporal efforts?

Are we willing to accept that God's plan for their lives, may not be our own plans?

My mind goes back to the day that I told my Mum that Robert felt the Lord leading him into the ministry.

Her face literally dropped.  

As a Pastor's wife herself, things had not been easy.  My parents had gone through trials aplenty, and struggled in many ways on a human level.  She wanted to think that I wouldn't have to go through the same trials and struggles that she had.  As a protective mother, watching us go willingly into potentially the same difficulties as they had experienced, was not her choice. By. A. LONG. Stretch. 

But, she had also dedicated my life to the Lord, when I was just a baby.  My dad and Mum had said that they would bring me up to follow the Lord - the Lord was leading in this direction, and we were following, just as they had prayed I would.  Just not in the way they THOUGHT it would be!

I, too, had always said that I "would never be a Pastor's wife".  DAN-GER-OUS! 

NEVER say never. 

(I also said I would never move to Australia.....hmmmmmm......better look out! *grin* )

But, similarly, as a teen I had dedicated my life to the Lord.  I had said to Him "where He leads me, I will follow - I'll go with Him all the way".  I had come to Him with tears and said "whatever you have for my life, I am willing to follow you".  I was willing to sacrifice my wants and wishes - my plans and purposes - to higher hands than my own. I had thought it may be some sort of missionary service...but, no - it was to be a Pastor's Wife! *grin*

I was willing to give up my desires - as Hannah had - to the One who is the giver of every good gift.  

Whatever we have in this life... 


THAT is the key.  

We ultimately have no ownership over ANYTHING that God has given us.  It's all loaned to us, for our good and His glory.  

So, we need to have that sacrificial spirit that holds everything lightly, nothing tightly. 

Possessions AND people.

For some, the first may be harder than the second, and vice versa. 

"Hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open."
Corrie Ten Boom

As Corrie Ten Boom says above, is we holding onto things tightly, when God DEMANDS them of us, because we have not been willing to give them up, it will be harder.  Always. 

So, how can we be more sacrificial in our lives?  If we think about it, there WILL be some, or even many, areas of our lives that we can give more of.  Whether it be belongings, money, time or people. There will be something.

Let's give our everything. 

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Family first...

People have been asking us what we were doing to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

The answer?  Not a lot! oops!

WHY?  Well, we have more important things to work around.  Like family.  And friends.  And Church.

So, we didn't have days off on Monday and Tuesday - my children did school.

Mean mother?


Why not?

Because they were making up for not having school last week, because we had family to visit, and have family again this week!

Family is more important.

Every. Time.

When you haven't seen your brother and sister-in-law for TWO years, they take priority.  Surely learning about the value of family is one of the major lessons of life?

So, I think pictures are in order!

We went to this National Trust property Wimpole Hall.  We have a family membership, that pays for itself after just a few visits each year. 

They had some lovely gardens - formal, informal and a walled garden.  There were stunning alium all down the centre - on of my favourite flowers. 

This is Claire, my SIL, with Elijah, playing peek-a-boo!

David, my brother, with Eliajh, when we were out for dinner!

Claire and Susie.  Love this picture. 

Susie and I...

Now, this shows what another day's focus was.  My brother is a landscape gardener.  He helped me plan my plants for the garden, and went with me to a nursery to buy the plants.  Then, we got home and got the children to plant them all! :-)

Another day's task was Claire helping me unpack the last of the boxes from the move, to make room for more family visiting this week.  And, which child can resist playing in empty boxes?   I SO appreciated her help with this job - it was driving me nuts not being able to use that last room.  Now, I can do something with it. yay! 

David encouraging Elijah in his obsession with Top Trump cards...that's him asking David "who's that?", which is what we ask him!!  I need to make some cards with countries or flags on them, and educate him whilst he is young!

This week is the turn of my youngest brother, his wife and 2 boys.  Pictures to follow! 

Family - what a joy!

More of a joy - all my siblings know the Lord as Saviour, and all my in-laws, too.  WHAT a blessing, and we pray that the children will come to know Him as Saviour, too. 

Oh, and Jubilee?  I had them watch the river Pageant and write a "newspaper" report on it!

And, when we had our tea for our Annual Service of thanksgiving, I did some Jubilee-esque cake decor....

The inside of my meringues!


This one looks like a smurf hiding in there! :-D

There are little fingers of cake made from whoopie pie mix.  I figured that if I put the frosting INSIDE a whoopie pie, you wouldn't SEE it, so, I did it this way! :-D

Family and food.  Perfect combo.....

Monday, 4 June 2012

Matriarchs on a Monday - Hannah - pouring out our soul.

"I ... have poured out my soul before the LORD."

How can we not learn a lesson from Hannah?

How can we not be moved from, by the depths of emotion and the brokenness of heart that we can almost touch here?

Hannah was deeply yearning for a child of her own, and so she did what we all should do.

She came to the Lord, and poured out her soul to Him.

She cried to Him from the depths of her being...




Crying out to the Lord, for the desire of her heart.

It was no use just being sad and moping about it.   She did the right thing, and sought the Lord.

It's not wrong to ask the Lord for things.

It's not wrong to ask the Lord to bless us from His great bounty and kindness. 

"Ask, and it shall be given you;"
Matthew 7:7

"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

"Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full."
John 16:24

"And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: 
  And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. "
John 5:14&15

Time and time again, we see the promise that God will answer prayer.

We need to come, like the importunate widow, and plead over and over again, that the Lord will hear our petition, and answer our cries.

We all have things that give us sorrow of heart.

Things that we long to see fulfilled.

Unsaved loved ones

must come near the top of that list.  

We all have them, I am sure.





Those who are outside of the fold.

We ought to come, with brokenness of heart, and plead as Hannah did for a child, for their souls to be saved.

We may have family divisions.

Problems in our marriage.

Difficulties with our children.

Do we come before the Lord - into that Holy place, as Hannah did - and weep over these issues, because our hearts are so burdened?

I fear not.  

I fear that my heart is not as concerned for these deep issues as it ought to be.

Do I care enough to open my heart like this?

Do I even pray as much as I ought?

We so easily give our time to every other pursuit under the sun, but prayer gets neglected. 


 Deep, and desperate shame upon my heart, that I don't pray as much as I ought.

I need to learn to come before the throne of God, and pour out my heart to Him, as Hannah did.  To be concerned and troubled enough in my spirit, that I cannot keep away.  To make that time every day, to plead with my heavenly Father.

And, do you see the effect that prayer had upon Hannah?

"So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad."

She immediately felt a peace in her heart, knowing that God had heard her prayer, and was able to answer. 
What safer place can we leave our cares and burdens, other than in the hands of a loving Father, who is able to answer our prayers?

May we, like Hannah, come to that Holy Place this day, and seek the Lord for the desires of our hearts. 

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
thy wings shall my petition bear
to him whose truth and faithfulness
engage the waiting soul to bless.
And since he bids me seek his face,
believe his word, and trust his grace,
I'll cast on him my every care,
and wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!
William Walford