Wednesday, 28 November 2012

No pit so deep

I have been having a tough few weeks, hence the blog silence.

I have had one or more person ill in this house, for nearly FOUR weeks.

I have, too, been ill amongst it all.  Last week, and again today.

Swollen tonsils.

Chest infections.

Ear infection.




High temperatures.

Generally, yuck.

I. Am. Tired.

It's been the toughest time of sickness in this household, ever.

And yet, despite the fact that I feel so humanly weak.  So humanly weary.  So humanly fraught.

I am sustained by the power, grace and never-failing love of my heavenly Father.

My children are listening to "The Hiding Place" whilst tidying the kitchen for me. (There's a blessing all on its own - the older ones have been SUCH a help.....)  I just heard a wonderful quote, from Betsy Ten Boom.  If she could say this, what are my struggles?

"There is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still" Betsie Ten Boom

She, who was held in a prison in war-torn Europe, in conditions that were vile, filthy and humanly horrendous.  Yet, she still gave thanks to the Lord, amidst such conditions.

My days, over the last few weeks, no matter how hard, are nothing.

"This too shall pass"

No matter how deep we feel we have sunk, in difficulties, trials and hardships, the Lord is still there.  His love goes deeper than the depths of our despair, and He holds us up with His hands.

The verse of the wonderful old hymn "How Firm a Foundation" springs to mind.

"In every condition, in sickness, in health;
In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth;
At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea,
As thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be."

We are given the strength we need, for the circumstances which the Lord allows.  When we are weak, then we are strong.

Based on that premise, I am strong right about now. And, it's true, I am.  I am so incredibly strengthened, and have managed to cope, with few stressy moments, and mostly calmness.  Ok, I have had my odd moment, but all things considered, I feel so very blessed by God's goodness.

I have also very much felt the prayers of so many, who I know have been praying for me.  Had I had this happen even a year or so ago, and without the prayers of my friends, I would not have been coping so well as I am now.

All of the Lord, none of self.

So, I end another day, with a new child falling ill, and I look to the Lord for whatever tomorrow brings.  And a chorus of a hymn, based on a wonderful scripture (my favourite hymn), springs to mind.

"Great is Thy faithfulness,
Great is Thy faithfulness,
Morning by morning new mercies I see,
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided,
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me."

 "It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. 
They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. 
 The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him."
Lamentations 3:22-24

Looking forward to tomorrow, where His mercies will be new, and His compassions will still be unfailing.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

A REALLY important story you should read

I was doing a quick browse of recent FB posts this morning, when I came across THIS story.   It's about a horrible thing that happened to a 5yo.  Basically, whilst her Mum was chatting near their car, her little girl got tangled up in the car seat belts, and could have strangled to death.

Read the story.

Buy some scissors for your car.

I also personally learnt a lesson about giving children lollipops.

When Joshua was about 20 months old, someone gave me some of those hard, boiled sweet type lollipops for him.  I hadn't given them to him before, but I knew my friend gave them to her similar aged child, so I gave him one.  I was sitting RIGHT next to him whilst he ate it, to keep an eye on him.

But, it's amazing how quickly something can go wrong.

He managed to pull the sweet OFF the stick, and he choked.

I noticed STRAIGHT away, but it was stuck in there.  I did what they recommend for a baby who is choking, and tipped him up and hit him between the shoulder blades.


I repeated it, harder, and tipped him up more.


At this point he was getting no air in or out, and I was starting to panic.

I thought about calling 999, but I quickly realised that by the time they would get there, he would be dead.

I realised I needed to try the Heimlich maeuver, even though it's not what you should do for small children.  I figured better that he had damaged ribs and be ALIVE, than dead and intact.

So, I did the Heimlich, but it took a few attempts.  You know how the story ended, because Josh is indeed alive and well.  But, boy...was that a scary moment.

I now do not give children lollipops until they are a lot older, and have a strict "sit down while you eat that" policy.  I prefer them to have chewy ones than hard ones.  Actually, that's a lie.  I would PREFER that they have none, but that would be slightly over-protective.

I would certainly recommend that every Mum knows what to do if your child chokes.

I was less successful when Abi gave Elijah the last bit of a sweet she had already been sucking, when he was only months old.  We were at Church, and I could NOT get it out.  I was very thankful that 2 of our Church members were nurses, and I just handed him over to one of them, saying "you do it".  Very thankfully, he managed to do it. Poor Abi was just trying to be kind, and had no idea small babies do not eat sweets.

So, read the above article, and hug your children close today, and always be on the look out for their safety.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Beautiful - inside-out!

My children were watching a Bible DVD about David.  It got to the part where Samuel is choosing from Jesse's sons, which should be anointed as king.  Samuel doesn't understand why a prime specimen like Eliab should be passed over, and God tells him this...

"man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart."
I Samuel  16:7

Those words jumped out at me, as I was sitting doing something else in the same room as them.

I was struck by how this verse is truly a verse for women.  We live in a day and age where we are bombarded with advice, information and advertising, for things that will make us more "beautiful".  Weight-loss advice (which, I will say, is not always to do with beauty, but fitness, which IS good), how to style your hair, which make-up is best, which clothes to wear to flatter your figure.  We are given "examples" of beauty in models, actresses, celebrities.  We are constantly pressurised to compare ourselves to such "beauties", and made to feel we just don't cut it unless we measure up to how they look.

I actually know people who think they need to obsessively exercise for the perfect body - that they need to plaster their faces in make-up to hide every single "blemish" - that they need to spend a fortune on having perfect hair - and, that they need wear the latest fashions to look "right".

It makes me sad to see people caught in the world's "snare", of wanting to be beautiful.


Simply because they are looking to the wrong parameters of what matters.  Look at the verse above.  Eliab
was basically good-looking and tall.  He was, probably, the perfect picture of manhood.  I KNOW it's a man, in this particular story, but I think that in today's world, it's women who are judged in this way MORE than men.  The Lord is not looking for what looks good on the OUTSIDE, He is more concerned about the heart.

THAT, my friends, is what I am talking about.  

We could spend all the time in the world, preening and pruning and primping, to look "just right".   We could spend money we don't really have on make-up, hair products and clothes that we just don't need.  ALL to look good on the outside.  

What is all of that, if our hearts are not right before the Lord?  If we are harbouring sin, that we need to deal with.  If we don't have a loving heart.  If we covet the beauty or possessions of others.

We even have a more specific instruction for us women.

"Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; 
But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price."
I Peter 3:3-4

"Meek" and "quiet" seems to conjure up this vision of a  little mouse of a woman, who will not say a word unless spoken to. 

THIS is NOT what it means.

"Meekness" is NOT weakness.  

Meekness is humility and gentleness.  

"Quiet" is NOT being silent at every given opportunity.

Quiet is still, unruffled and immovable.

It is to do with being calm on the inside, whilst everything maybe be going nuts in the world around us!  

OH how like my outside world THAT is!!! As mothers, things can get pretty hairy around us.  Children get into all sorts of mischief, disagreements, scraps, bother and general mayhem! 

So, how do we live this out in our lives?  How can we make sure that this aspect of our "heart", which God sees, is pleasing to Him?

Those moments when we disagree with our husband's about something?  We DON'T descend into a crumpled heap of weeping woman on the floor - fighting to get our own way, and for our opinion to be heard above his.   We remain gentle and calm, and work it out in a way that doesn't involve an emotional outburst.

Those times in the day when our children are being wilfully disobedient?  We DON'T have an outburst of anger and discipline them in the heat of the moment.  We calmly speak to them about their behaviour, and deal with it in a gentle manner.

Those tired moments, when we are struggling to get it all done, we have children being, well, CHILDREN, and the house is descending into anarchy?  We DON'T start yelling at the children (because we haven't dealt with it sooner and it's escalated  by our own neglect, into this chaos), and having a melt-down.  We calmly look at what needs to be done, and gently get things into gear by being the example we should be. 

The examples are endless, and I am sure you will think of some way that you don't normally exhibit "meek and quiet", when you should!

I KNOW it's hard.  I KNOW days can be difficult.  Do you think I came up with my examples out of the fresh air?!? NO!!!  I am an expert at "NOT meek and quiet", to my shame.

I think, like so many other things, that if we have our heart focussed on the Lord through-out the day - if we are immersed in His word - if we live a life of "praying without ceasing" - all of this will help us have our hearts in the right place, where meek and quiet come more naturally.

And, do you see how God describes such a heart?

You can cast aside all the valuable jewellery you may possess, because a heart that is meek and quiet is,  in God's sight, "of great price".  It's a valuable thing to have, and God sees it as precious and worth having.  THIS should be my primary motivation, above all else.  Having a heart that is precious in God's sight. 

So, today, I am going to endeavour to work on my heart's beauty.  

Yes, I will shower, get dressed, and make sure I look presentable on the outside.  

But, my heart will have a work-out and I will do my best, by God's strength, to be that meek and quiet woman that we are told of in I Peter. 

Will you join me? 

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Titus 2 - Be sober?

I was reading Titus chapter 2 recently, particularly the passage teaching about how we are to behave as young women.  It struck me that it would be a good place to study through, phrase by phrase, and see what could be learnt from it.

I am tempted to jump to things further along, but if the order we are given is the order that God put it in, who am I to argue with it??

So, what does Titus 2 say?

"That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed."
Titus 2:4-5

Now, let's get something straight first.  Just because it is directed to young women, does not mean that none of this applies to older women, too!  So, no running off, you older ladies! *winks*

Likewise, just because I am not an aged woman sharing this with you, does not mean you don't have to pay attention, either!

Ultimately, this is GOD'S word to us.  It is Him speaking to me, and to you.

So, the first instruction we are given?  To be sober.

Sober, in this situation,  has NOTHING to do with the lack of alcohol.  It is NOT an indictment to become teetotal.  THAT, my friends, is not a debate I will get into on here.

The word "sober" literally means to be serious.

Now, I don't know about you, but to me that sends out images of a very straight laced and sombre character.  Never a smile.  Never any laughter.

However, I don't think it is meant to be taken to that extreme.  We KNOW that the Bible says that laughter is a good thing, so it can't mean we are to be sombre all the time.  Rather, I think it relates to how we view and live out our lives in a broad sense.  There needs to be a sincerity about what we believe.  A seriousness in how we perceive God's Word, and how we live it out in our lives. A seriousness about things spiritual.

I think it is particularly crucial, when you go on to consider what follows in these two verses.  If you don't take them seriously, then you can basically go and do whatever you jolly well please in your life as a wife and mother.  But, no - the Lord first instructs us to be serious about our lives, and how we live them.

Serious about reading God's Word.

Serious about listening to God's Word.

Serious about understanding God's Word.

Serious about OBEYING God's Word.

Being serious in all these ways is crucial.  It's of primary importance if we are going to be fully committed to a life of obedience, honouring the Lord in all parts of our lives.

So many today, who are often heavily influenced by feminist thoughts, think we can throw verses away.  That we don't need to take them literally.  That they are only figurative.  That we they are cultural.  Perhaps that we only need to keep the spirit but not the letter of what it says?

But, NO!  This is VERY practical.  VERY literal.  VERY important.

What follows in these verses is of utmost importance, and so very, very precious.  God has deigned to give us words that apply to our very heart and soul, and we must endeavour to take them seriously, and fulfil them.

So, before I go any further, I want to search my own heart and make sure that I am taking God's Word seriously.  That I truly desire to honour God's ways above the world's ways, and most certainly above my own sinful heart's ways.

Am I sober? Are we serious about God, and His word to us as women?

I pray that God will make it to be so, and that I will prayerfully consider and obey what follows on from here.

Monday, 12 November 2012

The joys of being a Mum of many

There are times when having a lot of children can become a circus act, of sorts.


That's the name of the act.

Juggling between a poorly 2 year old, a grumpy 6 month old, four doing school work, and a 4 year old who has  drama queen tendencies.

Those days can be tough, and I have had a few of late.

Then you get little moments like yesterday.

Simeon learnt to roll over a little while ago, but yesterday he did it in a bigger way.  He learnt to roll repeatedly, and get somewhere!!  I turned my head for a moment, and he was by the sofa, not in the middle of the floor!

"Did you just move Simeon, Joshua?"

"No, Mum!"

Well, talk about a cheering squad!?   The rest of the children shouted and cheered.  Many shouts of  "clever boy" and "Yay Simeon" erupted around the room.  Toys were found, to put out of his reach to fetch, with more shouting and cheering ensuing, when he dutifully complied and rolled to get them.

It really made me smile.  Seeing them all get as excited as me about their brother doing something new.

A whole troop of cheerers is always a bonus!

Days like that, it makes it all worthwhile.

Baby on the move, on the other know you're a mother of more than 1 when you DON'T want them moving.

Then, today...back to juggling.

Poorly baby, choking on phlegm and vomiting, needing lots of cuddles.  And, then the blessing of a 9 year old daughter, making Cottage Pie pretty much on her own, from scratch, to rescue the job of making dinner, leaving me to care for Simeon.

Blessings amidst chaos.  You have to love it!

Simeon on a better day! 

(not today, but Beth being typically helpful. Love that girl)

Sunday, 11 November 2012

We will remember them


11th hour.  11th Day.  11th month.

Remembrance day.

We have SO much to be thankful for in our country.  We have so many freedoms, which we take totally for granted.

It's incredibly easy to forget that many, MANY have lost - and are still losing - their lives, to ensure we have those freedoms.

The Great War and WWII were MASSIVE losses for our country, whilst men fought to defend it.

Men and women are still being killed and injured right now, whilst on active duty.

When I was in London with the oldest 3, just last month, I stumbled upon the memorial for the merchant navy. It's just opposite the Tower of London.

My Great Uncle died in WWII, whilst serving in the merchant navy.

I saw the front of the monument first, and it said it was in memory of those who lost their lives in the Great War - WWI.  I thought I wouldn't find my Great Uncle's name, and was disappointed.  Then I stepped behind and realised there was an enormously long wall - convoluted, snaking it's way around the back of a garden - with the names of all those in the merchant navy who had died in WWII.  They were listed according to the ship they had been serving on.

A call to my parents was required, to find out the name of his ship.  Then, a wander around the garden to find the name of his ship.

The Melbourne Star.

And, then I found it.

A.C. Christie.  

Alexander.  Sandy, to his family.

Listed along with the many others who had lost their lives.

It was a very touching moment.  To think that was my flesh and blood, listed there.  My Mum's uncle, who had lost his life serving his country.

Another of her uncles died in WWII.  In a Japanese Prisoner of War camp.

THAT, hardly bears thinking about. 

Such a loss.  Such a debt.

We need to be thankful for their sacrifice.

We need to make use of our freedoms.  Proclaiming God's wonderful grace, whilst we still HAVE that freedom. 

Thank you.  Thank you to all who have, and still do, serve our nation.  

We will remember you.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Build-upper or tear-downer

When Robert was about to finish his studies for the ministry, we were invited to sit on a panel for a Youth Meeting - a "Mr and Mrs" of sorts.  We were asked various questions about ourselves.  I can't remember much about it all, but I remember that we were on the panel with a godly couple who had been in the ministry for many years.  The opposite end of things from us, if you may.

They were asked to give us advice as we entered into this service for the Lord.  I can't tell you what Mr Begg's advice to Robert was, but I can remember what Mrs Beggs said to me.

"Encourage Robert.  Precious few others will do so in his ministry, and you must make sure that you are his encourager.  He will need it. " (that is not a verbatim quote - just the general idea...I have an awful memory for exact quotes...)

That has stuck with me ever since.  Those words, at least.  I have tried very hard, regarding his ministry, that I am an encourager.  I don't pick apart his sermons - I don't highlight his weaknesses - I am not negative - I don't complain about his content or the length of time he preached for.  It's true - plenty others do those things, and he doesn't need me adding to it all.  The devil uses God's people to be a discouragement - often.

Encouraging someone will build them up.  It will help them to be comforted in their labours for the Lord.

Being negative and critical tears them down.  It makes them sad, worried and anxious in their Christian walk and life.

The thing is, as much as I try and do it in his role as a pastor, I seem to forget to put it into practice the rest of the time.  Being a wife who is positive and encouraging should be something I try and do all the time.  I know *I* like to hear words of encouragement, but I don't give them out in the same measure as I expect to receive them!

Likewise, as a mother.  it's SO easy to hand out the negative.

"Don't do that"

"Why are you doing that?"

"I've told you a hundred times not to...."

"When will you learn that you shouldn't..."

It takes a lot more work and effort - a lot more time and thought - to give encouragement.  Sometimes it's outright HARD, because we seem to pick up on the negative so very easily - we see the bad, and don't immediately see the good!  How sinful our hearts are that we have to LOOK for good, instead of seeing it before anything else.

When you think about it, the very essence of consoling and comforting someone -  to encourage them - implies that the other person feels down or discouraged about something.  The point of us encouraging is to lift them up in their spirits.  To do what we can to comfort and console them.  Basically, to give them courage.  To make them feel strong again.

We are all human.  God gave us our humanity.  God KNOWS our humanity.  The Lord Jesus took upon flesh, and lived an earthly life.  He understands our frailty and remembers we are dust.  It is BECAUSE of this, that we are given instruction about giving encouragement to others.  To build the up.  NOT tear them down.

"Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another" 
I Thessalonians 5:11

The word in Thessalonians "edify", literally means "house builder".

Those around us are like houses.  If you build them up properly, they will stay standing through all sorts of onslaught.  All kinds of bad weather, attack from the outside, earthquakes.  The best built houses withstand even the harshest of conditions.

Of course, as with any house, it starts with being built on the good foundations.  So, this principle is especially true of those who love the Lord.  We need to train up our children in the truths of God's work, to prepare their heart for the Spirit's work.

That aside, we still must be encouragers, whether our children, or those around us, have made a profession of faith.  We don't want to tear others down with our words or behaviour - we want to be builders, not demolishers!

How should we BE that encourager  though?

Well, for a start, the words that come out of our mouth have SO much power.  The book of Proverbs has a LOT to say about our tongue, and how we speak to others.

"There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health."
Proverbs 12:18

"A wholesome (or healing) tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness (or visciousness) therein is a breach in the spirit." 
Proverbs 15:4

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue"
Proverbs 18:21

Do you see how it talks of the tongue in relation to HEALTH? How we can heal by the words we use?

You think of a small child, who is hurt or worried.  We talk to them in a way that will soothe and comfort them - to make them feel like everything is ok.

The same applies to life in general.  We will encourage by the words we use, and HOW we say them.  We will give them health in their hearts, by how we speak to them, and by what we say. 

" A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger."
Proverbs 15:1

Oh BOY do I ever find this one hard!  I see other Mums who are so gentle, and here's me struggling to keep calm and use soft words.   If there ever was a verse for me, on bad days,  on most days, it's THIS one. *blush*

The other one I need to be careful with, is sarcasm.  Scots are cursed with the ability to be sarcastic.  I don't think it's appreciated much by my English cohorts, and I must be careful to not use it so much.  We take it as humour in Scotland, but I think it can be offensive down here - people consider it as being condescending, not funny. 

We all know our own hearts and lives, and in what way we need to alter our words and how we say them.

This next verse, in Ephesians, highlights the responsibility we particularly have, regarding the words we use.

"Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers."
Ephesians 4:29

  This then tells us what we SHOULD say.  We need to speak words that will build others up.  That will help them feel better, and stronger - not worse and weaker.   This verse says that they should minister grace to those that hear them.  This means that the hearer will be grateful for what you have said. 

So, how can we encourage our husbands today?

We can thank them for their love.

We can thank them for their provision of a income.

We can thank them for their help in the home.

We can thank them for taking on responsibilities so that we don't have to.

We can thank them for the things they do for us that make us feel loved and appreciated.

We can thank them for SO many things.  I am sure you can think of things that apply to your own circumstances.

In what ways could we thank them?

With our words.

With actions - leave a note, do something nice for them that they will appreciate, buy them a small gift, make something for them - food usually works - give them some extra "lovin'" (*winks*).

How about our children?

We can praise them for a job well done, even when they think they have not done so well.

We can encourage good behaviour.

We can speak to them gently when rebuking and teaching them.

We can be patient with them, even when we feel frustrated.

There are many others who we can encourage, outside of our home. Extended family, friends, our Church family especially,  and even strangers!  Those who are ill, those who feel low, those who are discouraged by circumstances, those who feel they are not doing a good job of being a wife or mother, those who have needs.  SO many ways and people who we can reach out to today.

Even better, we can teach our children to be encouragers, too!  Help them to find ways to encourage those around them - starting at home first.  Doing little things for others.  Being kind in how they speak to each other.  Helping those in need.

So, do it today!  Find someone to encourage! Don't be weary in well-doing - keep at it, even when it's HARD (says the woman who struggles in SO many ways....).

And, more importantly than anything else...start at HOME.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

A door of utterance

For our family, home-schooling is a conviction.  It is something that we feel is right to do for our family, based on what we read in scripture.

We don't tell everyone else they are wrong if they don't agree with us.

But, it galls me slightly greatly when people tell us we are not doing the right thing.  They use multiple reasons, which those who home-school themselves are all too aware of.  I am not going to get into all of them just now.  I don't have the abundance of time that it would take.  Instead I am just going to focus on one, because during my devotions this morning I came across a verse that made me think of it.

What is that reason?

"You'll miss out on the opportunity to witness to the parents at the school gate."

Yes, you're right, I will.

We can be led to feel that there should be a level of guilt felt because we are missing out on an opportunity that MUST be ours. That we are somehow negligent if we don't have that particular opportunity.  That what we are doing is somehow lesser to this evangelistic opportunity.

I disagree.

We have been incredibly blessed with 7 children, thus far.  They are a truly precious heritage from the Lord.  By God's leading, we have them at home with us.  All. Day.  And, there you have it.  This is my most amazing evangelistic opportunity.  My own children.  I have the opportunity, day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment, to seek out opportunities to show them God's plan of salvation.   To let them see God at work in our hearts and lives EVERY day.  Countless, precious opportunities to show them truths lived out right here.  Right now.

"Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance"
Colossians 4:3

Like Paul, we must plead with the Lord that He would open that "door of utterance".  That our lips would be opened to speak of God's truths to our children.  These tender hearts, that need to hear the gospel.  We have the chance to use our words and ways to utter God's truths to them.

It would be so easy to waste that opportunity.   To neglect the responsibility we have.  To forget the words of Deuteronomy 6 verses 5-7.

"And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:

And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, 

and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, 

and when thou walkest by the way, 

and when thou liest down, 

and when thou risest up."

Morning, night, right through the day.  Teaching them to love the Lord with every part of their being.  To learn that we love Him, because He first loved us.  What that love looks like lived out in our lives. And, more than anything else, that they should accept God's ultimate love, in salvation - because we are undeserving sinners who can only saved through Christ's atoning death, through love, on Calvary. 

As the hymn-writer put it 

"My every sacred moment spend,
In publishing the sinner's friend".
(from "Give me the faith which can remove", by Charles Wesley)

What a tremendous opportunity we have!  Let's not waste it, but seek the Lord to open that "door of utterance", so that we share the gospel with our children.

Not wanting to neglect a single reader - this should be the desire of every single one of us!  This should be the prayer of us ALL.  That we should speak the gospel with those that we come into contact with every day.  When you read on, you see that Paul was "in bonds" - he was a prisoner, and yet he still sought to share the gospel with whoever he could.  

"Redeeming the time".  

Making the best of the time and opportunities we have.  

Yours may be at the school gate.  

But, mine is right here, in my home - and, oh what a precious opportunity it is. 

Monday, 5 November 2012

Don't beat yourself up

I have had a LOT of people, through my time as a mother, thinking I a some sort of superwoman.

I *HATE* it.  I really do hate it when people say such things.

Why?  Because, I know my own heart.  I know my own failures and weaknesses.  And, what they world sees is not always the reality.  I have struggles as a parent, just like anyone else, and just because the children may behave well when we are out, doesn't mean life is a bed of roses.

I'm going to share with you about one of my biggest struggles, because I am pret-ty sure that I am not alone in this one.

Self criticism.

"Beating myself up" when I don't get things right.

Blaming myself for things that I perceive to be "not going right".

I had Robert's family over for dinner last week.  In my opinion, the dinner was not that great.  The vegetables were not hot by the time we ate everything, and I was so annoyed with myself.  I should have managed to serve a dinner that was better than that.

I was SO annoyed with myself, and felt I had given them all something that was not enjoyable.

That whole toilet training thing that I told you about 2 weeks ago?

EPIC FAIL. *sad face*

Virtually no progress, and back in nappies today.  It is pointless carrying on, as he has NO idea what he is doing.

All my other children were toilet trained far quicker, and other people's children do much better.

Another biggie?  Susie started schooling 6 months ago, and her reading is still slow.  I look around at my amazing nieces and nephews and wonder why I am not doing such a good job.

I find it incredibly hard not to compare - not to compare myself as the teacher, and not to compare Susie to her younger, more capable cousins.  I had someone else compare their abilities recently, and I found it very hard not to crumple into a crying heap.

And then, I need to remember something.  I need to remember what I would tell ANYONE else, if they came to me expressing the same disappointments.


Comparison is a killer.  If you forever look at what other people do - what other people achieve - how other people raise and train and educate their children - you will forever be crippled in the comparison trap. Well, maybe not forever...but, you get the idea.  It will PULL YOU DOWN.

Your circumstances and situation are the ones that God has placed you in.

Your children are the ones that God gave you - unique and individual, and just perfect for  your own family unit.  They don't need to do X, Y and Z at the same time as anyone else.

How you run your home has to be what is right for YOU.  Looking at what other people are doing in such a way that will make you feel negatively about what YOU do is not right.  Yes, be inspired!  DON'T be discouraged!!!  You don't know what circumstances, conditions and influences are at work in the homes of other people.  Look at what God has given you, speak to your husband, and work out what is right for YOU!


Whatever you do in life, you will rarely get it all right all the time.  We are HU-MAN.  Humanity = frailty, imperfection and mistakes.  Things aren't always perfect!!.  Get over it!

ESPECIALLY don't expect perfection from children!! They are all different, and have their own strengths and weaknesses.  Some things you can try, try and try to do, and it just won't work the way you expected it to, because it's not the way your child works.  It's nothing to do with wilful disobedience, it's just they plain don't get or can't do it. THAT IS OK!


Did you do your best, in whatever you attempted?  Did you prayerfully lay out the options and circumstances, and attempt something to the best of your abilities that you believed to be the right thing?  If so, and it doesn't work out, then at  least you know you tried.  I tell my children all the time "I want you to at least try", when they claim not to be able to do something!  Same applies to us adults.  At least TRY something, before you give up on it!


Pride is another killer.  Sometimes it's hard to admit defeat.  We take it as a personal insult that we haven't achieved what we set out to do.  We expect criticism and scorn, because we haven't managed to do what we hoped to, or it hasn't gone the way we planned.   And, so, we don't admit that things haven't gone well.  We try and cover it up, or make excuses - when, in reality, neither is necessary!


Some things don't happen straight away.  Just because it's taking Susie longer than other children to read, doesn't mean she won't get there.  And, it doesn't mean she won't end up having the same abilities eventually!   If it's something you know you need to keep on with, but it's just taking you longer than you hoped/planned/expected, don't give up!  Keep on, and you will get there.


Sometimes we try something, thinking it was the best plan, and we soon realise that it wasn't.  It's OK to stop!   Whether it's a chore system, a family routine, curriculum choices, toilet training (*whistles*), or whatever - you CAN stop.  If it's not a command laid out in scripture, then you have a choice whether you do it or not!! Not everything in life is laid down in stone, and must be followed to a "t".   Be gracious enough to yourself to realise that we can't always finish what we started, and it's acceptable to quit. ESPECIALLY if it is going to harm how you manage to operate as a family unit.  If I carried on toilet training Elijah now, it would start to drive me demented.  I will get impatient, and struggle to hold the fort with everything else in the home. That will help NO-ONE!   So, it's ok to stop and try again another time.  He's not going to be wearing nappies when he finishes school, that's for sure!!! *laughs*


Are you struggling with patience?  Is it hard to feel humble instead of humiliated?  Is it a trial to do what you need to do?  Are you feeling tired, worn out or struggling in what you need to do?

God WILL supply all your needs.  he has promised it in His Word, and so HE WILL.


Yes, it's true!  You can wipe the slate clean, start again and it very possibly will NOt be as bad as today!  You'll have one more day's experience, for a start - ready to be able to deal with the same issues again with more wisdom and knowledge.  You'll have had a night's sleep, and everything is better after sleep.  Even if you HAVEN'T had a night's sleep, it's still a new day, with a new start!

Ok, so I have just read that all back.

I consider myself rebuked!  If I would tell everyone else those things, then I need to tell them to myself!  In fact, my lovely sister-in-law Anna asked me just the other day "what would you tell someone else in this situation?"!!!  I need to take my own advice.

Above all else, whatever I do must be Christ-honouring.  Doing all to His glory.  Making sure that I can continue to be the example I should be to my children in thought, word and deed.  If anything I do stops that from happening, then I need to stop it anyway!

So, there we have it.

A rebuke/pep-talk to myself, which I hope will help someone else, too!

Happy Monday!

PS - further lesson learnt?  Listen to your husband.  He didn't think Elijah was ready to start toilet training, but I thought he was, and went on ahead anyway.  Humble pie eaten (minus any cream, as I am on a diet....)

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Sharing on a Saturday

I am a Scot.  In case you didn't know.

Scots like to be frugal, and so when we find something that is FREE, it's a golden moment.

I am also a Christian.  In case you didn't know.

Christians share.

So, I am sharing.

Here are a few freebie resources, particularly for homeschoolers, but would be great for any involved parent.

This first one is  freebies from Heart of Wisdom.  They have many different ones, ranging from a free digital scrap-booking resource, to check-lists,  to printable games.  Have a look, and I am sure something will catch your eye.  I am particularly thrilled with the "ABC Bible Verse" handwriting practice sheets.  They are in my preferred Bible version, which is the KJV.  Remember to click through on each "freebie", as there are sometimes multiple things under each heading, which you can utilise. This week, I used the information from an excerpt from their Internet-linked Ebook on Egypt, which covers the 10 plagues and their significance in regard to Egyptian religion.

Would you like a little look at the cake I made for our home-school group, as we were studying Egypt on Thursday?

It was a bit of a rush job, as I only decorated whilst the children ate their tea on Wednesday.  You can get the general gist of what it is, though?! :-)

This next website is one I found just today, via Writeshop's Facebook page. The page is called "E is for Explore".     It's an absolute wealth of fantastic ideas for homeschooling, or for a parent who wants to create fun learning opportunities in the home, outside of school.   If you look at the column on the right, there are tags for the different topics, and you just click and look to see what they have.  There are SO many fun ideas, and I am thrilled because I found a brilliant activity for our next homeschool family get together.  Woohoo!

The last one is an epic find.  I am thrilled to bits.  We use the Oxford Reading Tree books for our early readers.  They enjoy the stories about Biff, Chip and Kipper. (I have always thought their names to be a bit weird, but there is more than likely some educational benefit in them....moving on...) There is a website where you can go and pick a book, and them you have interactive pages where they can be read aloud to your children, or your children can read them for themselves.  Also, there are activity pages to go with the stories, and you can print things as well.  SO, go on over to Oxford Owl and see if you can find something your child would like to read! They are categorised by age, book type, or the series the book is from (eg Oxford Reading Tree, Songbirds phonics).  I am not entirely sure, but am FAIRLY sure that it is accessible to those outside of the UK, as I can't imagine why it WOULDN'T be! If it is, Americans can merrily enjoy the sound of a British voice whenever they like! *chuckles*

So, there we have it - some freebies to cheer your day.  Here they are again.

Heart of Wisdom

E is for Explore

Oxford Owl


Thursday, 1 November 2012

The most important thing

What do YOU think the most important thing is?

We ask our children, on  a very regular basis, this question...

"What's the most important thing?"

From a very young age, we teach them the answer.

From the time they begin to talk, they know the answer.

We try and instil it in them - every day of their life.

We remind.

We demonstrate.

We perform it.

We try and live it.

What IS the most important thing?

That is the most important thing.

Says who?

Says God.

"And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity."
I Corinthians 13:13

"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 
This is the first and great commandment. 
  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."
Matthew 22:37-39

 "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 
  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. "
John 13:34-35

"Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
Romans 12:10

Just this morning I was reading in Colossians, and it struck me again.

"And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness."
Colossians 3:14

We have to teach, and remind our children to love.  To demonstate it and mean it above everything else.  In the spirit of keeping things real, let me just say it does not happen naturally or all the time.  It's why we have to TRAIN up our children in the way they should go.

But I was struck by these words of Paul, to the Church in Colosse. 

PUT ON charity.  It's a verb.  A word of action.  It's not something which always comes naturally, and sometimes it's outright hard work.  But, we are to put it on, nonetheless.  

Like a cloak, covering over all the garments of our character.  

Covering the beautiful garments of peace, joy, thanksgiving and praise.  Those things with which we clothe ourselves, as those who love the Lord.  

Putting love over the less-than-clean clothing that we have as part of our sinful nature.  That, though we have those beautiful garments from our Lord, are still present in our lives.  Love, covering all things - blanketing over all else that is good or bad. 

Some days putting on that love may be easy.  

Some days putting it on will be hard.   Very hard.  But, it's a choice we have to make, to put that love on.


Because, God tells us to.  Love is a command, not an option.

"Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 
He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love....

Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another...
If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? "

I John 4:7-8, 11, 20

Such sobering words.

If we do not choose to love...if we say we don't love...we are not God's children.

We are liars.

We MUST love.

We MUST put it on.  Pick it up, dust it off, and put it on.  Hard and heavy as it may at first seem, we remember that God loves US.

Us, in our sin.

So, we can love too.

What's the most important thing?