Saturday, 31 August 2013

Organising your Life {5-day blog hop, coming up next week...}

I am really pleased to announce that I am hosting my first ever blog hop, 5 days next week - Monday to Friday - on the topic "Organising your Life".  

That may cause some of you, who know me quite well, to spit out your cup of coffee in unimaginable ways. 
I want to be the first to stand up and admit that I am NOT the world's best organised person. I do follow some semblance of routine in all the areas that we are covering this week. People may not realise it, and it may not be immediately noticeable in ALL areas of my life, but I have to have routine and organisation, or my family life would not function.  It may not be as perfect, shiny and sparkling as another's idea of "organisation", but it happens!! You'll see, as I share each day.

I think organisation is all about what works for YOU.  I think we can all be more organised, and so getting ideas and inspiration from others can at least help us towards improvement.

This is NOT about making anyone feel they are inadequate, or to feel pressurised to copy what someone else is doing.  The purpose of this is for all who are interested in organising their life a bit better, to prayerfully ask the Lord how they can be making changes, and to perhaps get ideas form those who are taking part in the blog hop.

Not one single lady taking part has her all her ducks in a row.  We are all imperfect, sinful beings, who never get it all right.  Just because we are sharing ideas, does not mean we even always get it done that way.  It's our ideal - it's our pattern we try and follow - but it's not some standard of perfection.

IF you have never come across a blog hop before, then you may be a hermit somewhere , then let me tell you how it works.  Each day, several blogging ladies will all write a post on the same topic.  On each of our posts we will link back to each other, so that you can "hop" across to the other blogs and read what they want to share on that topic.  Some ladies have other commitments on some days, and won't share on all the topics, but I have let you know by each of their biogs below, which days they will take part.  I will also give you the chance to JOIN us in our blog hop! You can link up any relevant blog posts that tie in with these topics, on any one of the given days! We would love to hear what YOU have done to make these topics work for you. Then, you will REALLY be living the blog hop experience to the max! Whether you have no children, only small children, a bigger family, or your children are nearly all grown up - we would love to hear your experiences!

So, let's firstly meet all our bloggers!  I am really excited that all these ladies have kindly taken the time to join in, and make this commitment. It's no small thing to do something which requires a particular topic to be covered, at a particular time.  So THANK YOU, to all of you lovely ladies, for taking part!

HeidiBioPicHeidi St. John has been married to her husband, Jay, since 1989. They have seven children (and a son-in-law) ranging in age from toddler to young adult and have homeschooled their children all the way through high school. A popular author and conference speaker, Heidi brings a refreshing mix of information and inspiration to listeners on the radio, in person and through the written word. Heidi’s transparency and honesty are like a breath of fresh air in a world where too many speakers seem to have all the answers. Find Heidi on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and on her Blog!

Heidi will be joining in the hop for all 5 days.

Amy Roberts of has been married 17 years to her high school sweetheart, Ty, and is blessed to be the homeschooling mother of 7 living children and one precious little girl named Emily being held in the Lord’s arms. As a blogger, conference speaker and author of several homeschooling and homemaking ebooks, it is her deepest desire to encourage moms in the trenches to stay focused on what truly matters and live a life of abundant blessings in Christ.

Amy is able to join us on Monday, Thursday and Friday. 

Lisa Keva,Spirit-filled Christian, Wife of 19 years, 'Veteran' Homeschooling Mom of 4, ages 3-14 years, Creationist/Young Earth believer, Blogger, and Curriculum/Book reviewer.  Just relaunched myself into the blogosphere at Tales of a Homeschool Family.

Lisa will be with us every day.

Heather is a child of the King and in need of His abundant grace every day. She’s never found Him to give up on her, although she admits He should have a long time ago! Married to her best friend Jeremy for 6 years, together they have been blessed with three beautiful children. Heather blogs full time at Raising Mighty Arrows about raising children, home preschooling, homemaking, marriage, and ministry. She is also an Independent Distributor for Young Living Essential Oils.  You can connect with Heather on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.  

Heather will be joining us on Wednesday and Friday.

Sarah Jones is a wife, mother of five and carer for an elderly relative. She is a relatively new home educator. In her first couple of years as a home educator, she combined this with being a physician but has been at home full time for the last two and half years.  Being at home has been both a joy and challenge. Sarah and her family live in London, UK. 

Sarah will take part all 5 days.

Caroline is wife to Robert (Pastor of an Independent Baptist Church, in Bedfordshire, England), and mother to 7 blessings, soon-to-be 8.  She has been home-educating for 8 years! She loves to blog about what the Lord is teaching her from day to day, as she seeks to live her life as a woman who loves God. 

And "moi" - I will be here every day!!

So, how about our topics??

Each day we are covering a different area of life.

Monday, we start with a key area of life - our spiritual life.  There is no more important area to be organised in, than to make sure our walk with God takes first place.

 Tuesday, we look at the topic of laundry.  There are so many ways to make this work for each family, but there's no two ways about it - we need to get laundry done!

Wednesday, we are covering the topic of chores.  Whether it's how we sort out our own, or how to get the children involved, chores should be part of our every day life.  How do our ladies do it?

 Thursday, we look at the essential element of meals.  Do you just get to the middle of the afternoon, and have the panicked thought "what shall I make for dinner"??? It doesn't have to be like that, so join us to see what others do to keep this part of life in order. 

Friday, our last day of "hopping", and we look at the topic of organising our home schooling.  I know this doesn't apply to everyone, but I am sure there will still be helpful ideas about how to organise supplies or paperwork, as well as ideas about how to sort out curriculum and books.

There you have it - our exciting line up for the week!  I really hope you will have a look every day, and see what ideas you can glean from all these ladies.  Better still, why don't you link up with me, and share any relevant blog posts YOU have written on these topics, and give our readers even more inspiration?!?  We would love for you to join us in that way!

Please pray for these ladies, as they put together their blog posts, and for me, as I try to make sure it all runs smoothly.  Please try and be patient with me, if there are any technical glitches through the week. This is a new area of life for me to delve into, and my head is already spinning slightly, with graphics and HTML floating in front of my eyes, even when I close them!!

Roll on Monday!.....

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

"Dear younger me".... {a letter to myself, that I wish I could have read}

Dear "me",

I wish you could have read this letter many years ago.  I wish you could have learnt lessons sooner, and avoided "messes" in your life. I wish you could have had a heart that was more willing to learn, and avoided mistakes.

My first advice would be regarding submission.  Submission is not something to dread and rebel against. Submission is God's perfect way for a marriage to function, in order that God would be glorified. You see, it's all about protection.  God protects you, as a wife, by giving your husband the responsibility of being the authority in your marriage.  If you would just accept that and submit to it, lovingly, willingly and graciously, your life will run far smoother, and you will have far greater peace and unity in your marriage.  Is it always easy? No!  Is it best in the long run?  You bet! Is it your job to criticise your husband's decisions? No.  It's your job, as long as he is not asking you to do something God forbids, to submit.  You may turn out to have been right about things, and it may take your husband longer to realise, but just do the right thing.  If submission is God's plan, (ad it is....) then it's the BEST plan.  Going your own way will only lead to unhappiness and discontent.

Don't be so stubborn. Have a heart that is receptive to rebuke, open to teaching and willing to say when you have done wrong. Don't think that you have to always be right. Don't let pride stop you from being willing to say "You were right, I was wrong. Sorry."

Search God's Word for instruction on how to be the child of God you ought to be.  Being the best wife is all about being the best for God.  If you don't immerse yourself in the Word, and find out what God wants you to be, then you will not be the wife that you need to be. Being a good wife begins with being a faithful child of God.

Learn what true love is.  It's not just that wonderful, warm feeling that comes with the territory of finding the "perfect" man for you.  There's way more to it than that.  Read I Corinthians, and meditate upon it.  Put your name in, instead of "charity", and let it challenge your heart.  Let love, and the outliving of it, be the most important thing in your life.

Don't be selfish.  Put the needs of your husband before your own needs.  Do all you can to give of yourself, in every aspect of your life.  Your time, your efforts, your emotions, your desires, your motivations and your body. Don't let life be all about "me", but all about "him".

Don't allow any part of your marriage to be conditional.  Don't always be thinking "I will do such and such, if HE does such and such". Just keep doing what YOU should be doing, and not worrying yourself about what he is doing.  You are only accountable for yourself, before God.

Don't start arguments and be the first one to end one. Make the words "I'm sorry" be those that slip easily from your tongue, instead of forcing them out like poison.

Don't let the sun go down on your anger.

Be an encourager. Don't have a negative and critical spirit, but seek to encourage and build up, instead of being a foolish woman who tears down her house with her very own hands.

Do not publicly criticise or be negative about your husband. Yes, he may have faults, but parading them in front of the whole world will not help the situation.  Talk about things in private, and not in front of everyone else.

Appreciate every God-given moment you have together.  You don't know when your time together may come to an unexpected end, and it's best not to have any regrets.  God gave you to one another, and you need to enjoy every moment that you can.

Yes, there will be tough times.  No, it will not always go smoothly.  Yes, it is SO worth it.

Your love will grow deeper.  Your bond will grow stronger.  Your affection will be more meaningful.  Only if you keep working at it, and honour God above all else.

I wish you had learnt sooner, then you could have avoided many moments of regret.  I am thankful you have learnt what you have, your marriage is so much richer now.  Never stop loving and learning.  It will only get better, if you follow God's Word and obey His instruction.

Keep on, keeping on.

With greatest love, hope and grace,


(PS - I so wish I had known more about the way God wanted me to be, before I even married, and certainly when our marriage began.  I am so thankful that God has been gracious, and we are so very blessed now.  I want it to carry on, and so I keep reminding myself of how I need to be, and what I need to put off.  I cringe when I think of how awful I was, but thank God for His goodness and mercy.  Do you have anything YOU wish you had known earlier in your marriage, or scriptural principles you consider important? Please share in the comments below.)

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Simply trusting {facing difficulties, God's way...}

I had one of those moments the other day.

An "I spoke too soon" moment.

In past pregnancies, I suffered fairly significantly with SPD - "symphysis pubis dysfunction", or Pelvic Girdle Pain.  It is when you have pain caused by an instability in the pelvis, caused by hormonal changes in pregnancy. I had it get progressively worse throughout pregnancies, but had it much less with Elijah, and virutally nothing with Simeon's pregnancy.  I had got all the way to nearly 28 weeks, and said to Robert last week, and again the other morning, about how belssed I was to have had NO problems again this pregnancy.

On Sunday, I had a slight twinge on my left side, whilst holding Simeon on my left hip.  I prayed it would not get any worse, and tried not to hold him.

Then came Monday and Tuesday.  We went shopping in our main shopping centre, getting much needed clothing and shoes, and various other odds and ends.  I don't particularly ENJOY taking 7 children to the shops, let alone a whole day doing so. To top it tall off, my head-strong 1 year old decided he didn't like being in a pram all day, and started to get mega grumpy.  All the older children took turns carrying him, but he is no light-weight. I ended up carrying him, too.  Yes, on my left hip.  I was starting to get a few twinges with my pelvis, but nothing major.  I got home, after a long day, pretty exhausted.  To top it all off, I realised we had "lost" a bag, filled with about £50 worth of goods, from Lakeland. I was just so tired and frustrated, but realised I needed to just pray about the lost bag, and wait until the shops opened again the next day, to see if it was there. Praying for someone honest to have found it!

Yesterday, after phoning the shop, I was thankful and relieved to discover that my bag HAD been handed in there, and was waiting for me!  We spent the morning making a start on a LOT of sorting and tidying that needs to be done over these summer weeks, before going BACK to the shops in the afternoon.  Bag retrieved, we then went to Tesco (a large supermarket with lots of other household goods/clothes/all sorts) to get stationary for school. It was another long, tiring day.

We got back home, had an easy dinner, and I pottered around trying to finish off some tidying that we had not finished before dashing out to the shops after lunch. I swept the floor (Beth had been sorting out a box of craft materials, which included glitter.... I feel we may be seeing glitter around the house, for some time to come...), brought a box to the car, stooped to dead head some flowers, and BAM! I stood up to walk back into the house, and could barely walk!! The pain was awful, and every time I stood on my left foot, to take a step with my right, it was just unbearable.  I eventually got into the kitchen, and told the children I needed to sit down.  The tears were unpreventable, as the pain was simply so bad.

Thankfully, Robert came home very soon afterwards, and took over the post-dinner/end-of-day tidying and supervision.

I just knew I had to sit and rest.  That I had to accept that it had happened, and do what I could to rest it and hopefully recover.

Sit still.

For the second time this pregnancy, I was having to sit still.

My mind flew back to my morning devotions on Monday.  I had wanted to write a post about it, but my busy days had prevented me from doing so. Here I am now, with a very relevant personal application, writing it!

I read about the Israelites, as they fled Egypt.  They had just been so wonderfully released from their bondage, after many years of hard labour, and were on their way to freedom.  Suddenly, everything looked far less rosy.  The Egyptians were behind them, and the Red Sea was ahead of them.  They had nowhere to go, and there seemed no way out of the predicament.

Listen to what the Lord tells them.  I LOVE this.

"stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD...

The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace."
Exodus 14:13-14

There are simply times when despite our desire to do all we can to escape a situation - to fight our way out of a difficult corner - to move forwards in our own strength - or when we simply feel defeated - the Lord says "stand still - I have this - everything will be fine".

That's where I am right now.  I've done too much, and if I am not careful I could end up crippling myself with pain for the rest of the pregnancy.  I need to stop my little home organisation spree, and reassess how I am going to do things. I desperately want to do things myself, in my own way, in my own time - but it's just not going to happen that way.

It's where I have been on countless occasions in the past.  Thinking there is no way out of a situation feeling defeated and worn.  Parenting can certainly bring you that place, often. 

Remember, these Israelites had just endured generations of struggle, and were fleeing Egypt, following a tremendously high tension situation - plague after plague happening around them. If that was not stressful enough, they now were blocked in.

Or so they thought.

How many times do we think that we are "blocked in"?  When we are faced with a situation where we think we are at the end of ourself, and there's no way out?  It happens.  Sometimes, it seems, all too often.

It's all about trust.  It's about hitting a trial, and trusting God can, and WILL, take care of it.  Standing still, and just "seeing", shows that we have no control over what will happen, and we are truly trusting God to be in control.  We need not "fight" - God will do it all for us.  We don't need to fear - we can have peace.  Why?  Because we are trusting Him to be in control.

We may not have quite the same amazing intervention that God provided for the Israelites.  NO fiery pillars, cloudy pillars, or seas literally opening before us. They may not be physically so amazing, but they can certainly be equally spectacular in our own little lives.  God can step in, in ways that take our breath away.  Or, it can be just in the simple things, in ways we never expected.

I don't know why, in the weeks when I had plans to be SOOOOO busy, that I am now going to need to take things VERY steadily.  I don't know God's plan, but I *DO* know that I need to just "sit still" and trust Him.

The Israelites were about to see a truly amazing scene, that would finally free them, once and for all, from Egypt.  Without lifting a FINGER. Without getting a foot wet.  They crossed that Red Sea.

Are you facing a difficult situation today?  Are you struggling with trials that you just can't seem to see a way out of?  Maybe it's time you stood still, and let God fight for you?  Maybe you need to simply trust Him to have the situation in HIS hands, and in HIS way.  Stop struggling and fearing, and trust, and He will show you HIS way forward.

Simply trusting every day,
Trusting through a stormy way;
Even when my faith is small,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Trusting as the moments fly,
Trusting as the days go by;
Trusting Him whate’er befall,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Brightly does His Spirit shine
Into this poor heart of mine;
While He leads I cannot fall;
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Singing if my way is clear,
Praying if the path be drear;
If in danger for Him call;
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Trusting Him while life shall last,
Trusting Him till earth be past;
Till within the jasper wall,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Glorifying God {rejoicing in affliction}

It wasn't my usual viewing and listening choice for my Saturday ironing.

I usually watch something light-hearted, or listen to some kind of audio book.

Not today.

Today, I watched a funeral.  A funeral for people I never met, and whose family I do not know.  Yet, the death of this couple touched my heart, and I wanted to watch the live-streaming of the service.

The couple was Chad and Courtney Phelps.  They were a young couple, only in their mid-twenties, with a little 2-year old son, Chase.  He was the Youth Pastor at Colonial Hills Baptist Church, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Both this young couple, and a mother-of-five, Tonya Weindorf, were tragically killed one week ago.  Their Church youth were returning from Church camp, when tragedy struck.  The coach they were travelling in had a mechanical problem, and it crashed, and all three died, including the unborn, baby girl that Courtney was carrying, but Chase, the son, was spared.

So, so sad.

Such a heartbreak to hear of such a thing.

Incredibly hard to understand.

It really struck me in a deep way.  My husband is a Pastor, I am pregnant, and I am a mother of many children as Tonya was. Things that are so near to my own heart and circumstances.

When I discovered that the service was streaming, just as I was ironing, I felt compelled to listen in.

It was heartbreaking.  I cried.  A lot.  My heart ached, right beside those brothers and sisters in the Lord, who had lost their family members.  Both families personally spoke of their love and thankfulness for the lives of Chad and Courtney.  Theirs was a testimony of a couple who were devoted to the Lord, and working for Him.  For helping others.  For caring and supporting those in need.

Yet, the Lord saw fit to take them, so young in life.

The words of the family members were heavy with emotion, but none so much as Chad's younger brother.

He witnessed the death of his brother and sister-in-law.  I cannot possibly imagine the horror of seeing such a thing.  However, it was his words - spoken through the sobs of a brother, broken with sorrow - that really spoke to my heart.

I know I have not got the wording perfect, but he said something almost exactly like this...

"God is most glorified when we are most satisfied with in Him"

 He was deeply, deeply saddened.  Heart-broken.  Yet, he was satisfied with the providence of God at such a time.  He was accepting of God's will, to take the lives of those he held dear.  By having that satisfaction in Christ, he was glorifying God the most.

In ALL our lives, we bring glory to God by being satisfied and content with what God chooses for us.  No matter what our circumstances - whether joyful or tragic - if we are satisfied with God, then we bring glory to His precious name.

I wept with those who wept, as he spoke those words.  They challenged my heart.  Do I bring glory to God, in ALL circumstances?  Do I show others that I am satisfied with Christ - that He alone is my all in all - when times of trouble and testing come?  I fear I do not.  I still am tempted to look to people and things for satisfaction, when God is all I need.  I need to rest and rely entirely upon Him alone, for my joy and satisfaction.

If he, through his heart-rending tears, could sob those words, how can I live out anything other than that in my own life of blessing and comfort?

I was challenged today.  Challenged to be satisfied with Christ alone.  Challenged to appreciate each day, no knowing if it could be my last.  Challenged to appreciate my loved ones, because I don't know if it could be THEIR last day.  Challenged to live my life as a living sacrifice, being willing and ready to say "for to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain".  Challenged to reach others with the gospel, whenever I can.

It was such an amazing blessing to hear of many who have come to saving faith in Christ, through hearing about the life and death of Chad and Courtney.  Amazing.  God is using their lives, through their DEATH, to bring people to a saving knowledge of Himself.  Only God can bring about such a work.

The gospel was brought so very clearly.

I was challenged to make sure that I do the same in my life.

Did you know we are all sinners?  Chad, Courtney and Tonya were sinners.  I am a sinner.  We are ALL sinners. We are sinners, who must be separated from God, because God is pure and holy, and sin cannot be where He is.  Sin must be punished.  It is the breaking of God's law, and as His word says, if we have erred in one, we have broken them all.  Sinners, deserving death and hell, and heading that was if we continue in our sin.

But, there's good news! The "gospel". God, in His love and mercy, not willing that any should perish, sent His only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to die in the place of sinners. He bled and died, on the cross, to take the punishment for sin. It's not complicated. We can be saved from the eternal punishment for sin, so very simply.  We don't have to do good works, or live a perfect life, or go to Church.  We simply need to accept that we are sinners, believe that Christ dies for ours sins, and confess our sins to Him, asking Him to save us.  The, like Chad and Courtney, we need to live for Him. All out for Christ.

Maybe you are not saved, and can see your need for salvation.  Trust in Christ as your Saviour, and you can know that you will be with Him, in heaven, when you die - as Chad, Courtney and Tanya are today.  It's so simple, and yet so necessary.

Maybe you are saved, but your life is not fully given up to the Lord, and you are not serving Him and following after Him as you should? You need to have that same spirit as they had - willing to live, and willing to die, to the glory of Almighty God.  Giving over your life in complete surrender to His will, to do with as He pleases.

I go to bed tonight, appreciating those nearest and dearest to me, and wanting to hug them close and be thankful for every moment I have with them.


I will leave you with the song that was sung at the funeral today.  I had never heard it before, but the words are so precious.

I pray that my life, not my own, will be as theirs was - to the praise and glory of Christ alone. 

Pray for their families, especially in the days ahead, as they live with their loss, and seek to bring up both Chase, without his parents, and those 5 children, and Mr Weindorf, without Tonya. 

His robes for mine: O wonderful exchange!
Clothed in my sin, Christ suffered ‘neath God’s rage.
Draped in His righteousness, I’m justified.
In Christ I live, for in my place He died.

I cling to Christ, and marvel at the cost:
Jesus forsaken, God estranged from God.
Bought by such love, my life is not my own.
My praise-my all-shall be for Christ alone.

His robes for mine: what cause have I for dread?
God’s daunting Law Christ mastered in my stead.
Faultless I stand with righteous works not mine,
Saved by my Lord’s vicarious death and life.

His robes for mine: God’s justice is appeased.
Jesus is crushed, and thus the Father’s pleased.
Christ drank God’s wrath on sin, then cried “‘Tis done!”
Sin’s wage is paid; propitiation won.

His robes for mine: such anguish none can know.
Christ, God’s beloved, condemned as though His foe.
He, as though I, accursed and left alone;
I, as though He, embraced and welcomed home!