Thursday, 25 April 2013

A picture and an explanation {news}

You may have noticed that I have been a bit quiet lately.  Not quite up to my usual posts and regularity?

There's a good reason.

Yep.  My Birthday Boy is announcing that we have a new baby due some time in early November!!!  We are so incredibly excited and happy.

I have been feeling rather tired (scrub that, VERY tired.....) and rather very nauseous.  Things are starting to improve, and in a few weeks I should have my energy back and the nausea will be gone.

So, I should hopefully back to my normal "blogginess". Is that a word?  Never mind, you know what I mean!

Hopefully, my children should all hopefully be illness free as well.  That would be REALLLLLLY nice.

In the mean time, I am going to go and frost a birthday cake.  My children have all had my Mum's recipe Chocolate Fudge Cake for their 1st birthday.  Beyond that, they get to choose a design, but it's always that for number one! We give them a big slice, and they have fun! Photos will follow.....

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

What a beautiful day {for a chat on the porch}

Everyday Ruralty

Patrice!  THIS is the kind of day that I wish I had a house like I see in the good old US of A.  With a long, inviting porch, with the sun shining beyond, making the day warm, and a breeze blowing through.  Me, sitting in the shade, enjoying  a perfect kind of day.  Birds singing.  Butterflies, all golden yellow, flittering around. A good book, and my feet tucked up as I enjoy my swinging seat. Better still, friends and family sitting talking with me.


I can dream, can't I?

I have no porch, but the description of the day is bang on.  It's a gorgeous day in rural Bedfordshire.  Birds, butterflies and breeze.  I, however, am inside with poorly children.  I went out with Simeon for a little while earlier, but he kept trying to go over the edge of the lawn (which results in a drop onto the path), so we came back inside.  Honestly, these babies who insist on moving around.  Three other children have a virus, and they don't want to move very far at all.  It is our delayed Easter break.  Nothing like spending it indoors.  But, do you know what?  God is still good.  All things for a reason.  And, at least I am being forced to rest.  That can be bad, surely?

So, on to our chat, Patrice.

1.  Do you prefer to drive or be driven?

Ah, tricky.  I do love to drive.  I really enjoy pretty much any kind of driving.  Every kind, except driving in London.  Those people are CRAY-ZEEEEEE.  Seriously.  They just keep moving all the time, and if you don't make the decision to change lanes sometime YESTERDAY, you run into danger moving from lane to lane.  Scary stuff.  It's either all crazy go, go, go, or else deadlock.  Either way.  No likey.  I drove through the centre of London one night, to show the children the famous landmarks at night.  For a start, it took me FOUR attempts to get the right road to bring me in front of Buckingham Palace.  FOUR.  We had a good tour of Parliament Square and another enormous loop around the BACK of the Palace and down Piccadilly to Whitehall, before going back through Parliament Square. Not to mention how long it took to go that way at night. I won't be rushing to do it again.

Back to the question.  I do like driving.  Even though we have a minibus, it's lovely to drive.

Driven?  Not especially.  It DOES mean I can sleep on long journeys, but I don't like being in control, and get a bit nervous.  That, and travelling anywhere but in the front makes me ill.

So, drive it is.

2.  What's your favourite jam, jelly or preserve?

I'm not sure what the technical difference is between the three, really? I LOVE proper strawberry jam.  I remember having it as a child, and trying not to break the household rule "do NOT dig for the whole strawberries"!  I love raspberry jam on Scotch pancakes.  You can NOT beat it.  Oh, and preferably made with Scottish raspberries.  Ginger jam, I also love. And, I am a huge fan of marmalade.

Slight problem.

I have realised I have a problem with gluten.  The best place to have any of those things is on TOAST.  Especially a huge hunk of home-made white, toasted under the grill.  But, my stomach does NOT like it.  It means I don't get to sample such things very often. Sad, but true.

Let's move on before I cry

3.  Do you have any special plans for this spring or summer?

I did have some ideas of things to do, and places to go.  They have been somewhat changed.

"Best laid plans of mice and men gang aft awry."

Thanks, Rabbie, I agree.

I want to do more work in the garden.  Last year was my first year with something decent to work on, being in the new house.  I would like to add some flowering shrubs.

Mock orange blossom - one of those scents that throws me right back to my childhood.  It's a delicious, heady scent.  

Lilacs - another lovely scent, and my favourite colour, to boot.  So many different shades and types of panicle. 

I also adore jasmine.  I have some already, but up the side of the house, on the way to the bin, where you can't really catch a whiff of the scent.  I would like one closer to where we sit in the garden.   

I'd also like to plant some annuals, and maybe get some better seating - think "something that you can put your feet up, and recline slightly".  My dream would be a swinging chair, but I think, with children, this may not be a plan. 

There are also some inside jobs that need to be done.  I have an end of my kitchen that I want to get sorted so I can use it to do sewing and to keep my craft things.  I have this in mind....

I'm seeing fabric folded, in those dookets.  And, yarn all stacked neatly, looking all colourful and beautiful.  Some kind of hanging thing on the end, to keep rick-rack and threads in.  Ohhhh yes.  

We also need to rethink sleeping arrangements.  Elijah really needs to go in a bed, and Simeon in a real cot. But, that is probably going to involve a bedroom switch with the girls, and having a triple height bunk. 

So, yes, a few things to think about. Probably some day trips thrown in, as well, and hopefully people coming to stay.  We like people coming to stay! :-)

4. The next question asked things about GMO, pesticides and allergies, all relating to food.  It said to skip and have a cookie if it was of no great interest. 

Is it ok if it's a brownie, instead?

5. Do you use nail polish often? Finger nails, piggies, or both?

It's GREAT for stopping a ladder in your tights from going any further.

That's it.  That's my answer! 

Along with all other make-up, I gave it a miss quite a few years ago.  The reason is three-fold.  Firstly, Robert isn't keen.  He thinks I look beautiful without, so I am inclined to believe him, as I love him loving me in my raw state. Secondly, I had one too many incidents of my chidlren getting to the make-up and causing havoc. Life is too short to worry about lipstick in the carpet.  Eliminate the lipstick, and "voila", problem solved.  Thirdly, I don't have the time.  I hardly have time to brush my hair, for pity's sake! And, don't you need to have steady hands for such things as nail varnish?  If you knew me, you would know that was not a strong suit of mine.  

So, there we have it.  Albeit, the chat has taken 2 days to materialise, but, hey ho.  I have sick kiddos.  Life gets like that.  So, now I will go and change some dirty nappies/diapers, and allow my life to hit back to reality.

See ya next week!

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Guest Post {Homeschool on the Croft}

Today, it is my joy to introduce you to a lady who I can truly call a friend. 

We met YEARS ago, when I was just a girl, and she was expecting her oldest child.  I always recalled meeting this teeny (but rather largely pregnant), bubbly and very welcoming lady, with her lilting Island accent. 

Years went past, and I distinctly remember hearing about what you are about to hear about, and praying for her.  I was expecting my second child at the time, and it really touched my heart and drove me to the Lord, to pray for His hand upon my own situation. 

More years passed by, and I found her blog, before finding that she had joined the same Good Morning Girls group that I was on!

Then, I was finally able to meet, in person, the lovely little lady herself, through connections on Facebook.  Once again, Facebook has been wonderful in facilitating a precious friendship, and I value the wit and wisdom that Anne brings to my life.   God is good!

(Anne is second from the right, I am on the left, in case you weren't sure!)

So, enough of me.  Let me hand over to the writer of Homeschool On the Croft, to introduce her own post.  Oh, and get your tissues ready.  It's an emotional read. 

Hi, Joyful readers,


I'm Anne, I come from the Isle of Lewis which is the largest of the islands in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. I grew up less than a mile from where I now live with my Builder husband and our four children - children, who are, for the most part, not even children anymore.

My *baby* is ten tomorrow. He told me when he was four that he would reach five, but then he would stop so that I'd always have a baby. He *said* that, but has he done it? Nope. He continues to sprout and to add the years onto his age. And so now we are on the brink of double figures for my BABY.

Caroline, though, didn't ask me on here to sniff and bawl, to moan and groan about my baby's non-baby-ness. She asked me to visit with her to tell you about the day my non-baby baby was born.
Ten years ago tomorrow, this was my experience ...

On that day, in April of 2003, we were given our fourth child. Our second son. I also almost lost my life.

I was in Week 33 of my pregnancy. Bearing in mind that I was a whole two weeks late with my other three pregnancies, in my own mind I had eight or nine weeks to go. At the time, I certainly did not feel organised. Then again, I wouldn't have been organised at forty-two weeks either, knowing me!

My sister and I had been in Inverness for a couple of days. I remember we had a mad rush driving from Inverness to Ullapool, but caught the ferry just in time. We laughed so much whilst shopping, and on our mad dash to the ferry. How little we knew of what was just around the corner.

This was to be the first of our children born in Lewis: we'd been living in Glasgow when the other three were born. We were now living 25 miles from the hospital, and because I'd always had very quick labours, we used to joke about this baby being born in the moor on the way to town! We knew that we'd have to head off once I began contractions.

On that Sunday morning, my waters breaking woke me (I'm sorry, I don't want to be graphic, but the story can't really be told without some general labour details!). I sat up in bed, woke hubby and went into my normal panic mode: I sat and did nothing! 

A short while later, we were off. My sister-in-law stayed with our other children, and we began our journey to town. We arrived at the hospital half an hour later, still totally unaware of the situation we were in. This baby was six weeks early -eight weeks earlier than I'd planned on! We were in shock, but apart from that, I wasn't unduly worried. 

When we arrived at the hospital, the midwife we met led me - not to the labour suite - but to the ward. Because we'd had our other children in Glasgow, the midwives in Stornoway weren't to know that my babies normally made quick appearances into this world! I seemed, to her, in the very early stages of labour, but when I hesitated, she agreed to take me straight to the labour room. 

Let's just say it was just as well! The Wee Guy was born very shortly after this, and everything seemed normal at that stage. After the midwife had cleaned the baby up, she handed him to me. This was when I realised I felt odd. I nodded to her to give the baby to daddy. I felt so weak, but couldn't even say it to her. I remember she looked at me, realised I looked 'odd', took a look at my hands and said to another member of staff: 'Her peripheries are going purple!'. She pressed the emergency button, and it seemed that within seconds the room was filled with doctors and other medical staff. 

I was aware of everything that was going on. I was especially aware of the looks on the doctors' faces. I was seriously ill. I knew it by their expressions. The truth was written all over their faces: I was dying, and they didn't think they were going to be able to save my life.

They were mentioning clots, pre-eclampsia, blood pressure. A couple of times, I saw a look of resignation on the doctor's face. 

I knew I was at death's door. The room was full of people. They were busy, but it all seemed quiet. I lay back and thought of the time. It was late morning. Sunday morning. The morning of the Lord's Day. I thought: 'By afternoon of this Lord's Day, I will be with my Lord. What a Lord's Day it will be for me! I will see Him face to face.'

I thought of my children. I prayed for each one of them individually, and handed them over to my Heavenly Father. I remember thinking that no matter how much I loved them, He was able to take better care of them than I ever could.

I realised I would be in Heaven because - and only because - of Christ's saving work in my soul. I had done nothing to earn my salvation. I deserved none of God's grace, yet here I was, on the threshold of heaven. God gave me total peace at that moment. Only His grace would have allowed me to feel that way because, humanly speaking, I would never have 'let go' of my children in that way. 

If you are a mother and you're reading this, you will know that there is nothing -nothing - that your mother's heart will hold on to like it will to your children. My instinct is to protect them, nurture them, be with them. And, of course, I think nobody can do what they need but me - their mother. To have had that peace, then, that Sunday morning, was nothing short of miraculous. I praise God for the peace He gave me. Humanly speaking, my blood pressure was so high, the doctors were waiting for my organs to fail, and for me, ultimately, to die. Any additional anxiety, surely, would have made things even worse.
But I thank God especially for that peace, because I understand that His grace can take us to places we would think impossible. The bond I have (and all you mothers will know what I mean) with my children seems too strong for me to be able to let go of it. But God showed me that day, that He is able to draw us to Himself with bands of love that are stronger than anything this world knows of.

I spent the next week in High Dependency. I remember on Day 3, a nurse saying to the doctor that my 'bottom line pressure was down to 124'. It was down to 124, and that was seen as an achievement!

In all, I spent three weeks in hospital. The medical staff never really understood what went wrong. There were more questions than answers. I ended up, apparently, with  pneumonia in both lungs, but some doctors disagreed with the diagnoses, and believed it was fluid in my lungs; I had a heart condition that may have been the result of the extreme blood pressure, a clot, pre-eclampsia, or a combination of some of these conditions and/or others. Every day the Builder drove over to see me at the hospital. He made the journey filled with dread each day, not knowing what new discovery they'd made or what new symptom I displayed. He was beside himself with worry!

During the second week, when my lungs were filling with fluid (though that hadn't been realised quite yet), and breathing was becoming increasingly difficult, I remember sitting up in bed, propped by pillows. I couldn't lie down because of lack of breath, and I couldn't sleep. I hadn't slept for about thirty-six hours and I was desperately tired. As I sat there, I couldn't even pray. I just wanted to sleep! I remember such an assurance coming into my soul that although I was unable to pray, I was being upheld by the prayers of my brothers and sisters in Christ. It was the first time ever I was made truly aware of the blessing we have when others pray for us.

It's a lesson I've never forgotten, and I know it affected the way - to this day - in which I pray for others.

God does hear prayer. And those who were praying for me that night (and I know there were many) were more of a blessing to me than they can ever know.

Before this illness, I'd never had more than a cough or a cold. I was as healthy as could be, and the truth was that I never, ever expected illness could hit me. Oh, I know I would acknowledge that my health was a gift, and that we don't know what a day might bring.... But really? Did I mean this? I'm not sure that it was any more than idle words. I lived as though I were invincible.

I'd had three children before this. Having them was as easy for me as going to Tesco for my weekly shop. I went into labour, had a baby, stayed in hospital for the obligatory eight hours, went home, and resumed life as though I'd done no more than go to Tesco. No kidding! It didn't occur to me that this kind of thing could happen to me.

But God showed me - really showed me - that we have nothing....nothing.... but what He gives us. Every day we have on mercy's ground is an undeserved gift. Every day of health and strength is a blessing for which we ought to give thanks. God was good to us as a family: He left me with my family, and for that I am so thankful. I wish my life was one of greater service to Him, but I know the experience changed me forever.

I know that life is fleeting. However long we have - it will pass in a blink.

I know that nothing in this life really matters other than having Christ as my Saviour, and that my children would have Christ as their Saviour. Nothing compares with this in importance.

Now, eight years on, I have no health issues whatsoever as a result of what occurred at that time. When the doctor finally discharged me a year after Calum's birth, he admitted that he had no idea how I'd survived. When I told him that God hears prayer - it was His will for me - the doctor sighed and simply said, 'Well, something bigger than us saved you, because I have no idea how you're here'.

It was not my time. But one day, it will be. 

A HUGE thank you to Anne, for sharing her story here.  You can read more about the thrills and spills of Island life on her blog.  You will not be disappointed!  And, if you like sheep, beautiful scenery and dogs, you will be especially thrilled. 

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Chatting on the Sunny Farmhouse Porch!

Everyday Ruralty

Hello, hello, hello!!!  It's sunny, Wendell!!! What a day to join you and Patrice on the Farmhouse Porch.  The wind is blowing, the window is open in the lounge, and I am enjoying the warmth of spring.  FINALLY!!  Before we know it, it will be autumn again, so I will enjoy every moment.

So, my feet are up, and we can chat away merrily.

1. From Suzanne at p.s.Annie!:  Are you part of the back to nature/ecological group or are you more of the mindset of "I'll do what I want and everything will work out in the end"?

I am in neither, fully.  I think that nature, or what I would call "God's creation", has so much to teach us.  There are lessons to be learnt about so many aspects of life, if we learn about the way that creation operates, and how things function.  I think we have a responsibility to care for the world that God has given us - because, it is a gift.  A wonderful, beautiful and amazing gift.  I think we should appreciate its beauty, and have our eyes open to see the wonders that surround us.  Why?  Because the heavens declare His glory and the firmament showeth His handiwork.  If we want to appreciate GOD fully, we should appreciate all the wonders of creation that are around us.  We are a family who spot all the amazing things around us, as we travel along or when we go for a walk.  Unusual birds or animals, interesting things in the geography of the countryside, or the way the clouds look when a storm is coming.  Seeing, and appreciating.

I try and recycle things, because that facility is available in our Council. Some would say it uses up more energy to recycle than it does to make new things, but I am not convinced.  I DO think that mankind is generally  wasteful, and we should care more for the resources we use and not just throw away so readily.  However, I am no eco-warrior, and I do not lose sleep if I decide to throw a plastic container in the bin instead of having to rinse it and put it in the recycling.  It;s the personal choices I was talking about the other day - sometimes my time is simply better used elsewhere than sorting out the recycling!

I'm never a "do what i want person" - everything I do, I try and do to God's glory, and to please Him and not myself.  However, one thing IS for sure.  If you are a sinner, saved by grace, trusting in God alone for your salvation, then I know that everything WILL work out in the end. *smiles*

2. From Stacey at Happy Bride To Be:  What's a favourite dinner dish to make?

This is tricky.  I think my favourite dinners to make, are the ones I know I am going to enjoy EATING the most.  I don't particularly LOVE cooking dinners.  I'm more of a baking girl.  I love how cakes look if you make nice ones.  That's me getting distracted...

So, favourite dinners to make would be....

Any roast dinner.  I love a roast meat, with vegetables.  Better still is if you throw in a Yorkshire pudding....or two..... (with any meat that needs gravy).  Better yet, some stuffing.  I just LOVE the herby flavour in stuffing.  although, the best stuffing is a bread and onion one, made from scratch.  Make some breadcrumbs, chop up an onion as roughly or finely as you like (red is best...), mix in enough salt and pepper and butter to make it all stick together, press into an oven-proof dish and bake in the oven until it's all crispy on top.  Mmmmmmmmmm.  Thing is, since finding out that gluten makes my tummy unhappy, I have been avoiding bread.  Maybe a LEEEEETLE bit would be ok, 'cause I'm now hungry.  Anything with cooked onions = me drooling.

I also love Southern Fried Chicken.  The taste of that chicken, all gently golden, but so moist inside.  Mmmmm, mmmmmmmm.  With buttery mash, corn and broccoli.  Better still would be with broccoli cornbread, but my Mum used to make it with a Jiffy box mix she'd bring back from the USA, and we can't get it here.  I MUST be able to get a good recipe elsewhere and source the cornmeal?  Surely?!  Help, Americans!

I also love a good fried steak.   Bash it well with a meat hammer, rub with oil and a good dose of S & P.  Fried in a pan until medium/rare.  Add a generous side of baby veg, fried onions and mushrooms and buttery potatoes and a nice sauce.  LOVE.  IT.

So, where's the steak?  It's breakfast time, and I'm hungry......

3.  From Melanie at A Year of Jubilee Reviews: What animals have you seen give live birth?

Well, the short answer is "a sheep".

The long answer involves a bit more detail.  The first time was on a Church holiday on the Isle of Arran.  It's a stunning island, and I would love to go back one day.  One day when you can fly to the Island and not go on a boat, maybe?  (It's actually a not too bad a crossing, so long as you don't do it at Easter, when the waves are going over the top of the harbour walls because it's so choppy....).  It's called "mini Scotland", because it has mountains in the north, and more lowland in the south, like Scotland.

Anyway, we were going for a walk one morning all of us together.  A big long line of Church members, walking down a country lane.  One of the children of the party (or, maybe it was a "townie" adult...) said "that sheep's got a black plastic bag attached to its bottom".  We all stopped to look (as  you do....), and a minute or so later we realised it was actually a LAMB being born!  We were all so excited (being Townies....) and hung about, being generally enthralled with the "spring-ness" of the moment.  When, to our surprise, a second and third lambs were then delivered!  The first one was a black lamb (hence the "black bag", of the lamb in its sac), and I think the other 2 were white.  We all thought it was wonderful, and it made our trip!  Being general Townies, it was not something that most of us had ever seen.  You don't get many sheep on the streets of Glasgow.....

My second experience is not QUITE "live". I watched "lambing Live" on BBC.  Thing is, because we have no TV license, we can only watch things on iPlayer, after they have been aired live.  So, it wasn't QUITE "live".

However, I DID learn a lot about sheep and lambs.  I found the whole thing fascinating, and it now means that when I read Anne's blog, I know what she is talking about!

4.  From Anne at Homeschool on the Croft: If you had the opportunity to teach something, what would you teach?

Well, that's a bit of a funny question for a home-schooling mother.  I DO have the opportunity to teach, and I teach just about everything.  If we are talking specifically about what I ENJOY teaching, I love history.  It's partly why we chose to use Tapestry of Grace, because I find history an totally captivating subject.

I find it interesting reading Anne's answers on her blog, as they are often incredibly like my own! I am NOT copying her, honestly!

So, again, I love the period of the Tudor's.  There was a lot happening from a Christian persepctive at that time - a time of great turmoil and change. I also loved the period of the industrial revolution.  The Roman Empire is fascinating.  They were so advanced, and brought us so much order and improvement in this country, for which we should be extremely thankful!  (hot water in houses and toilets...thank you very much....)

I also love science - particularly biology.  The way the human body works so wonderfully, is truly designed by God in an amazing way. The way that everything works TOGETHER, and fits so perfectly to its function.

5.  From Madonna at Butterfly Acres: What did you love most about school?

I LOVED primary school.  I loved the learning part of secondary school. I still love to learn, which is why I so enjoy home educating - because *I* get to learn so much at the same time!

I LOVED music.  I so enjoyed those times in the week when I would get to go to a class and get to take part in something that I enjoyed so much.  Singing and making music!  To do exams in something that I could do standing on my head, and know I could pass without the struggle I had in other areas.  I loved to learn, but I HATED exams.  I do not do well under pressure, and struggle to recall facts and information.  ask me to tell you verbally, in context, and I could tell you all you wanted.  ask me in an exam, and I would crumple.

I did get teased and bullied at school, for being a Christian.  I just learnt to ignore it, and not care whether the "in crowd" liked me or not. I became the "patron saint of lost causes" and befriended all the people that got left out of life by the more popular crews.  I felt sorry for them, and tried to be kind.

I think Robert married me for the same reason....

It was lovely to chat, with the spring breeze blowing.  Let's hope it's even warmer come next week's chat.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Matriarchs on a Monday - The Shunamite Woman {Part 2}

We come back to the Shunamite woman this week, because there is another precious truth that we can learn from her. One that every single person could benefit from applying to their life.

Before we get there, we first of all have to recollect the first miracle that God grants to her.  Elisha desired that this woman, who had shown so much kindness to him, should be blessed in some way as a recompense.

She didn't want recompense.  She didn't want special treatment from kings and captains.  She was happy to just to be with her own people.  Content, right where she was.  However, Gehazi discovered that she had been unable to have a child, and her husband was too old to father one.  So, Elisha told her that she would have a son.

She simply couldn't believe it!  But, exactly as he had said, she had a son the next year.

What a joy it must have been for them! To be blessed with a son, when they thought their arms would be forever empty.  To be blessed with a child, to bring them joy and blessing.  To see him grow up and carry on the family name.

That was a great blessing and lesson all on its own.  God does miracles.  He STILL does.  Things that seem impossible to man, are possible with God. We need to remember that EVERY day.  To hold onto it with both hands, when things seem bleak and the things we long for are outwith our grasp.

Precious as it is, we're only now getting to the best bit.

How would a woman like this cope in a crisis?  When her faith and trust is tested?  When things are not going so well?

THAT is what I want to think about.

The years must have passed, because we then hear about "when he was grown".   They had raised him, as it was in those days, to go and help in the fields wit his father.  And, there he was one day, when tragedy struck.  He suddenly complained of a terrible pain in the head.  The father told someone to bring the boy to his mother, where he sat on her knee until noon.  You can imagine the scene.  The gentle, kind mother, holding her precious son close.  Rocking him on her knee, trying to soothe him in his pain.  There was no Calpol of Nurofen.  No doctors or A&E.  She simply held him, and gave him all the love she could.

It wasn't enough.

He died.

Sitting there, on his mother's knee - the child she had waited so long for, and had been so thankful for, was dead.

What happens next blows my mind.  At the same time, it gives me courage.

Carrying his heavy, lifeless body in her arms, she brought him into the special chamber they had built for the prophet, and laid him on the bed.  Next, she went to her husband, back in the fields, and asked for an ass to be saddled, so that she could go for a quick visit to the prophet.  Her husband was confused.  It wasn't a special holy day, why would she need to go and see him?

She assured him, with simple words.

"It shall be well"

She ordered the servant to get them going as quickly as was possible, and they headed to Mount Carmel, where Elisha was.

He saw them approching, and recognised the woman.  He sent Gehazi to enquire as to the wellbeing of her family.

Her reply?

"It is well"

Her son was dead.  But, she could say with peace and assurance that "it is well".

Wow.  What an incredible response.  No panic.  No distraught hysteria.  No tearful breakdown.

She just KNEW that all was well.  How could all be possibly "well", when her long-awaited and precious son, was DEAD?


Se trusted God.  It's that simple.  She knew that God was good- that He was in control - that He was able to do miracles.  If that was all true, then all WAS well, because it was what God had in His plan.

I read this account, and I feel shame.  I have struggles far less serious than hers was, and yet I don't always have the peace and trust that she had.  Just the other week I was worrying about something I shouldn't have been, and within a few days I saw the silliness of my anxiety.

Do you know the story behind the hymn "When peace like a river"?

Let me just remind you of the hymn, first of all.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But, Lord, ‘tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh trump of the angel! Oh voice of the Lord!
Bless├Ęd hope, bless├Ęd rest of my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

The story behind this hymn is heart-breaking.  Mr Spafford had sent his family ahead of him to the UK, from the USA.  In those days, they travelled by ship.  On the way there, the ship went down.  Mrs Spafford prayed with her girls as the ship went down, that there lives may be spared if it was God's will, but they all perished that day.  Horatio Spafford received a message from his wife, with these words.  "Saved alone".

He went to England to bring his wife back, and on the return voyage, as they passed the spot where his daughters died, these words came to his heart and mind.  Thinking about the rolling sea billows, and his intense sorrow, he could still say "It is well with my soul".

The second and third verses sum it all up, though.  It's only because Christ has shed His blood for us - because our sins, ALL of our sins, nailed Him to the tree - that we even have this peace at all.  Faith in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ.  that is the only source of true peace.

Such was the peace of the Shunamite woman.  The trust and Faith that she had in the Lord was so complete, that she knew that all was well.

The end of her story is one of joy.  Despite the fact theat Gehazi's faith is so lacking, that he could not facilitate the return of life to the boy, Elisha's was not lacking and life indeed was returned!  What an incredible miracle.

From start to finish, this woman's life is a challenge.  A challenge to live a life fully for the Lord, and filled with faith and trust.

My prayer is this - that no matter what trials and struggles the Lord may allow in my life, that I have the faith and trust that this woman had, and I can say confidently "It is well"!!

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Choices {when life is about priorities, not principles...}

Do you ever find that you do things, just because other people give you the impression that you should?   Or, that you are not meeting certain standards if you don't do something?

Are there things that you do, that others don't?

Are there things you DON'T do that other people do?

Do you ever feel that you just don't cut the mustard, because you don't do these things?   That you are somehow inferior because others do things and you don't?

I was thinking about this today.  It started off with something that made me smile.  Recently, I was chatting with a group of friends about what we do and don't iron.  Now, I have felt, in the past, that if I don't choose to iron X, Y or Z that I am lazy or a sub-standard housewife.  Gracious, if you don't iron your bed linen, well you must be less than perfect.  Well, so I was made to feel. Now, that may have been me misunderstanding, I hasten to add, but it's how I felt.  But, when I was talking to this group of ladies, I felt much relieved.  They are all sorts of ladies - from one or two children, up to twelve children.  Some of them ironed a  lot - some of them actually LIKE ironing (shock, horror....).  Some of them ironed a little.  Some of them ironed not AT ALL. There was so much variety amongst the ladies, it was quite refreshing.  All of them gave a reason for what and why they ironed certain items.  All valid reasons.  One pointed out that ironing tea towels was a good idea, especially if your neck hurt - it gives it gentle movement.

Iron TEA TOWELS?  (for Americans, they are the towels you use to dry dishes....carry on reading now that you understand....)   Who does that?  Well, I know my Mum always did. She gave good reason for it, they fit most neatly into the drawer. But, with my mountain of other jobs to do, I figured it was far from essential.

THAT'S the key.  That's issue that is crucial here.  What we prioritise in life.  We all have completely different lives.  Different sets of circumstances.  Think just about the ironing for a moment.

Some women have husbands who do physical work and wear very few formal clothes - they may iron little to nothing.  Some women have husbands or sons that need formal clothing daily and need to iron a lot.  Some people maybe feel they must iron the bed linen.  Maybe some people have no drier and they need to iron more because it dries to a crisp on a sunny washing line.

Me?  I iron all of Robert's shirts.  I couldn't possibly have him standing up on the Lord's Day with a crumpled shirt.  I love him, and I want to care for him and help him look presentable. Likewise, all of our clothes we wear to Church get ironed.  Boys trousers and shirts, girls dresses. I iron my cotton blouses and shirts, as they would look awful otherwise.  And, I iron Robert's cotton hankies.  "Cotton hankies?" you ask.  Yes.  Those.  Apparently not all men have such things, but that was an entirely different subject.  I don't iron anything else, especially because after most things come out the drier they only need a flap and a fold and they look perfectly presentable.  I simply do NOT have the time to iron everything, which is a bigger issue.  So, in my life, I decide how I should spend my time, and ironing all day is not my choice.

Many of the choices we make in life have nothing to do with PRINCIPLES.    Principles are "A fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behaviour or for a chain of reasoning."

So, they are truths and standards that others can conform to.  So, being a housewife, you could say it's a principle that you should look after your home.  It's a general principle. The standard that you need to meet in that domain, however, is a personal choice.  What works for YOUR particular home and circumstances, you can not possibly enforce upon someone else, and make them feel bad for not meeting YOUR standard.

This is simply because we make our individual choices based upon priorities.  Is it more important to get all your ironing done - every single thing you wash? - or that you spend time with your children?  Is it more important to clean the windows twice a week, or only when you notice (aherm).   Is it more important to dust daily, or only once a week because you are busy playing with your children and it gets forgotten.

You may be reading these and thinking about a completely different time frame for each thing.  Why?  Because YOU have your own circumstances and priorities.  And, THAT'S OK!!!

As with all things, we certainly need to make sure that we are a good testimony as Christians, and that our house is not a complete filthy pit, and that we do care about our home.

However, we must be careful to choose what is important in life.  It can become so easy to spend all our days worrying about a spotless house, and neglect to spend quality time with those we love.  It can become easy to judge others based on our own standards and principles and have a critical heart by judging them based on things that are not important eternally.

"Is there a chapter and verse for that?"  Those are words I often ask people who try to enforce THEIR choices on me. Ultimately, if there is no Biblical command for something, then it IS just a personal choice.  It's up to us to be wise, in the situation that God has place us in, and make our own choices accordingly.  I always ask myself, "would I be dishonouring the Lord to do this, or not do the other?"  If the answer is "yes", then I base my choice upon that answer.  If the answer is "no", then I make my choice accordingly.

It's OK if you don't iron everything.  It's OK if you don't shower twice a day.  It's OK if you don't think dusting is important.  It's OK if you don't always remember to mark your children's Maths.  It's OK if your children don't learn to play sports.

Life is about priorities, not the principles that someone else tries to make you conform to.

So, how does that bring us back to tea towels?

I ironed mine today.  I got the rest of the ironing done, I had a few minutes spare, and I quickly ironed my tea towels.  Do you know what?  My Mum was right.  They look so much better, and they fit in my drawer better?

Am I going to do them every week?

Possibly not.

Am I going to tell you that you need to iron yours?


"whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."
I Corinthians 10:31

Thursday, 11 April 2013

I'm still here....

Just a quickie to say I'm still here.  I have had a poorly little Simeon this week, and he got worse over the last 24 hours.  I am having a rare moment without him on my lap, whilst he sleeps, and thought I'd let you know that I should be back blogging soon.

I am a voma-phobe. I hate vomit.  I fear vomit.  I dread a vomiting bug hitting the family.  However, even though I am fairly sure this is something isolated to Simeon, I have really felt the Lord's peace about it all.  If they all get sick, a) the youngest will be over it all already, b) I have the house tidy and laundry caught up to deal with the mess and c) the groceries have just arrived, so we have food in the house!

The older ones are better at dealing with illness now, and I would only have 2 little ones that would need more help.

Besides which, poorly children = more cuddles, and getting to rest from my normally busy life.  That has to be a bonus, right?  In EVERYTHING give thanks!

My one battle, though - I get quite stressed when my children are ill. Kind of easily irritable.  So, spiritual challenges still remain, and I just need to rest in the Lord, and keep calm.  It's not fair on the other children for me to get snappy with them, because I can't explain to my baby why he is ill, and I don't like it.

Out come the board games (SO educational - adding up scores (Maths), working out strategies (Logic), discussing rules (Erm, Drama or Debate?.....) ) and more reading happens.  Learning can be done, no matter what "school" is like. I love home-educating!

So, I must go and whizz around like some kind of woman possessed, whilst Simeon sleeps, and get laundry swapped between washer and drier, ready for the next "batch".

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble"
Psalm 46

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Honesty - the best policy {keeping it real}

I have toyed about writing this post for a long time now.

It's about something that many women face, but you'll not always hear about.

It's about broken days.  Days when you feel that the "perfect" life you hope for is far from your grasp.

Not only is it broken, but you're willing to admit it.  THAT is the issue.

Do you ever have those days?  I am convinced that some people think that I don't.  Ashamedly, there may be a reason for that.  I find this hard to write for several different reasons.

But, it's time to get real.  For the sake of the good that can come of it, instead of what I may have perceived as the good of covering it up.

What on earth do I mean?

I was fearful.  Fearful of what others would think, if I admit that I find life can be difficult.  REALLY difficult. Fearful of their reaction.  Fearful of their perception.

Maybe, in fact, fear is less correct as proud.

Worried that they may think less of me.  Worried that they would not accept God's plans for me, if I don't seem to be "coping".

The truth of it is simply this - some days I would love to crawl in a hole and hide away forever. I have school work to get through, housework to keep on top of, character issues to deal with, more housework, more school work, more character.  Things going wrong.  Schedules going awry. Tiredness.  Emotional weariness. Physical burdens. Trials I can't always even share at all. Spiritual battles.

You see, I worried that if I told people that I struggle, that I would hear something like this.

"Well, YOU chose to have all those children."

"It was your CHOICE to home school."

"You could go back to work if you wanted, and it would be easier"

"I'm not surprised you're tired, but you can only blame yourself"

I have, in fact, heard as much from people in the past.  It may be why I tend not to share all my struggles.  Why, though, should the opinions of some prevent me from being honest?  The simple answer is, it shouldn't.

By not admitting my struggles I could be putting across a false picture of either a woman who doesn't HAVE any problems, or as someone with super-spiritual proportions who floats through the "trials of life".

Neither of those pictures if true - especially the last one.

Do you know what has allowed me to break free from this prison of silence?  A reminder of one simple thing.  All that we have in our life stems from CONVICTIONS.  Based on our understanding of God's Word, Robert and I have been convicted to allow God to plan our life.

I am a "stay at home mum".  We chose that path because we were CONVICTED by God's Word and teaching about the role of motherhood.  We felt that was best for our family. I can lead you to the Bible and tell you how God convicted US about that.  What verses we read that led us in that direction. But I won't TELL you you should do the same.

That includes the number of children we have, given to us by God.  We look to Him to control and lead us in every other area of life - why should we suddenly decide that we know better when it comes to the number of children we should have?  We trust Him to provide for every other need, so why not trust Him to provide for all the children we may have?

It's a CONVICTION.  OUR conviction.  I'm not going to stand with a placard and tell you to have the same one.  I can tell you why it is a place of privilege and blessing.  I can tell you how we got to that conviction.  But, I can't MAKE it yours.

Same with home educating.  We became CONVICTED about it.  God spoke to our hearts, through the study of His Word.  We go forward, by faith, trusting in God's leading for our family.

Again, it's a conviction.  I could lead you to the scriptures that were our guide and leading.  I could explain to you the principles behind our decision.  But, it's OUR conviction, and it's the Holy Spirit's job to convict, not mine.

So,  all that said, the reason I have hard days is then not ANYTHING to do with the "choices" we have made.  It's not just choices.  It's a conviction, which if we had not followed it, we would have be ignoring God's leading in our lives.  If I then have difficult days, you can not say it is BECAUSE of these convictions. It's just part of it.  It's not "my own fault", it's God's plan.

Plus, if I am not mistaken, no matter what your life's choices are, EVERYONE has hard days.  If you leave your children at home, and go out to work, and only have 1 child, I am NOT going to say when you have a bad day "well, you chose to do those things"!  I would like to hope I would sympathise, and try to encourage and help in whatever way I could, instead of just saying "On your own head be it."

We all have struggles, and we should all want to help others who are struggling, no matter why we "THINK" those problems are there.

It brings me to another reason for this post, and why I was reluctant to share before.  I was worried that people would think I was not doing a good job.  That's pride.  Big, bad and shameful.  Why?  Simply because anything I DO get right is only God's grace and goodness, not anything of me, anyway!  If I'm struggling, it just means that I am prone to the same trials and struggles are everyone else.  That's normal.  It's part of the Christian walk we are on.  Whether your family is large or small, you home educate or not, go out to work, or stay at home - we all have trials, because we are told we WILL on our Christian walk.  My trials will, inevitably, circulate around children, the home and home educating, because that's where God has led me to be! Admitting the trials are there, is just me being humble enough, by God's grace, to admit that I am normal.  I'm just an average person, living by the strength of an extra-ordinary God.

So, there you have it.  Today I have lost my patience with the children, I need to clear my pile of laundry, we haven't finished all of our school work yet, I am not entirely sure what we are having for dinner, and I am dog tired.  Do you know what else?  I am  doing my best, I am at peace in God's plan for me, I know that tomorrow is a new day, and God is still good.

I continue to rest in the promise

"my grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness."

Are you struggling today?  Do your struggles come from a life that GOD has led you to, like me?  Are you struggling, despite your obedience?  It's ok, you're not alone!  It's ok -  it's not BECAUSE you are obedient, it's just because you are a Christian!  Being God's child equals having trials, and they will always be connected to the life that God has called you to. It's because you love the Lord, not because you have convictions.  Keep looking to the Lord for your strength, just as every child of God should. No matter the path you are walking on, God's grace will still be sufficient for you, too.  Don't turn your back on your convictions, mistakenly thinking they are the cause for your struggles.  It's not the convictions - it's being a Child of the King.  And, THAT can never be taken away from you, so the trials are going to keep coming, no matter what path you walk upon, until the day you are united with the Lord in heaven.

If, by sharing this I have been able to encourage even one person, then it's worth it.  You're not alone - I have hard days, too.

Honesty - the best policy.