Saturday, 28 September 2013

35 weeks, and counting {how am I coping?}

Well, today, it is 5 weeks until my due date.

I can't quite believe I am 35 weeks already.

OK, so the pregnancy is 35 weeks, or the baby is 35 weeks.

Me, I'm 35 years.

I decided something today.

It's not fair for a pregnant woman to have to peel potatoes.  Or any other veg for that matter. Ok, so specifically, at the sink.  In that case, washing up has to be eliminated, too.

The weird kind of contortions you have to put your body into, in order to get those jobs done, is simply ridiculous. However, needs must, so a sore back it is, then.

I am already having loads of Braxton Hicks.  I take it all as a good sign, that my body is gearing up for labour in the next few weeks.  Up to 6 or 7 weeks, really.  I am NEVER early, always late.  My babies apparently take longer to "brew" than other people's babies.  I mean, early would be lovely.  Not TOO early, of course.  But, I go by the old saying....

"Blessed is he who expecteth little, for he shall not be disappointed"

Late it is, then.

I started on my Raspberry Leaf tablets today.  As much as there is not a whole lot of research to solidly connect the taking of such to any physical benefits, I think there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that they do something to help with labour.

My last 2 babies, I have taken it regularly and in the right dosage.  Is it coincidental that my 2nd stage for each of those babies has been MASSIVELY shorter.  Or, that the after-pains seem not to be so bad?  I have no idea, but one thing I *DO* know, I am not going to quite taking them, just to see if there is a difference!

The registrar I had the delight, privilege, burden  to meet recently, had not even HEARD of raspberry leaf.  When I was surprised, he did declare "I don't know EVERYTHING", to which I raised my eyebrows and smiled, seeing as I had just heard him sit and lecture me on a subject I had much researched and he didn't like me having knowledge about.

The other thing that 35 weeks heralds?  Tiredness.  And, apparently, the return of some evening nausea, at points.  Yes, we are definitely nearing the end.

What are my tips for surviving the end of pregnancy?

1.  Rest
I make sure that I get to bed a good time, and get a good night's sleep.  Certainly, as good a night's sleep that the discomfort of a bump, and painful joints, can bring. I have to say, since we got a new bed about 2 years ago, pain at night, in pregnancy, is not as bad.  But, it is still there.  Of course, a full night's sleep is also dependant on one's bladder not wakening one, either. I am blessed, in that way - most night's I manage nearly all the way through the night. Mind you, I maintain that disturbed sleep is a bit of a foretaste of the joys of night-time feeds.  Without the gorgeous little baby to soothe, sing to and coo over.

I also make sure that I don't do too much, physically, in the day-time, either.  I simply cannot cope with a hectic life, too much standing up, or generally taking on too many extra responsibilities.  I try and put my feet up for a little while in the afternoon, whilst the children have "room time". The one thing i can't seem to do is have a kip.  If I do that, I feel really grotty, and a bit nauseous, when I waken up. I would rather feel tired, than sick.

2.  Don't do more than you can cope with
I can remember, when I was pregnant with earlier babies, carrying on my hectic lifestyle all the way through pregnancy.  All it would achieve was me being a hormonal wreck, by the end of the pregnancy. Now, I not only do not take on more responsibilities than the norm, but I cut back on unreasonable expectations of MYSELF! I adapt school, so that it is in a format that I can cope with, and doesn't put me under extra strain.  I buy foods that make meal preparation easier, and try and fit in some kind of REALLY easy dinner (ie, take away) about once a week, in the last few weeks. Mentally, just knowing there is ONE night where the pressure is off, is great.

One thing I just refuse to do, in the last few weeks, is make a fancy birthday cake for a child.  I learnt my lesson about that.  When I was 39 weeks pregnant with Abigail, I decided to try and make a fancy cake for Daniel.  Put it this way.... it ended up on the floor, so did I (a screaming, hysterical, mess.... terrifying the children with my melt-down), and my lovely sister-in-law, Anna, stepping in to rescue the day.

Joshua's 12th birthday is 4 days before my due date.  I have told him, he can either have a shop bought cake, or he can make and decorate his own.  Oh, and clear up the mess, too.  Weirdly, it seems he wants to do the second option.  Being somewhat of a creative child, I think the thought of playing with coloured fondant icing quite appeals to him.  Each to their own, but I ain't doin' it.  I put myself under enough pressure, without the end of pregnancy hormones raging.

3.  Train your children to help - BEFORE you are at the end of pregnancy
Now, this one has improved over time.  When your older ones are, well, YOUNGER, they can't do quite as much.  Now?  Every little job they all help with, is a little job off my shoulders. They are such a great help, and it means the household just runs more smoothly and easily, with me needing to do less. I can remember having to leave Robert to vacuum, when he got the time, with earlier pregnancies.  Now, I just get an older child to do it. Things need picking up off the floor?  I holler for a child. No worrying about lugging laundry baskets around the house - the boys do it for me.  It all adds up to making life FAR easier at this later stage.

More children = more help.  (And none of them having to become child labourers to be helpful - each little bit adds up to a lot!)

4. Better eating and exercise habits
Due to the changes I made in what I eat, I definitely feel I have more energy than I used to.  I don't have the effects from the gluten that I used to have - that ALONE makes me feel massively better.  I am still tired, but all the other digestive problems are gone.  Also, I used to have major problems with SPD. I think, because I exercise better between pregnancies, I no longer have any problems with it AT ALL!!!! I could be almost crippled, in some pregnancies, but I had ONE evening of pain, this time, and that was all. Quite amazing!

4.  Casting myself upon the Lord, and resting in HIM
This one is the key.  ABSOLUTELY.  I used to be anxious about so many different little things, by the end of the pregnancy.  Worried about labour.  Worried about the other children.  Anxious about feeling tired and unwell.  How would I cope with everything, whilst I was so tired?  Worried about how the baby would be after they were born - easy going, or hard work?

The only answer to that, is to put Philippians 4:6-7 into practice.

"Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

Being careful = being anxious.  Literally, full of care.

Do you see what it says?  FOR NOTHING.

There is nothing that I can go through in the next weeks, that should make me anxious.

I have my part to play, though.  I have to pray - to cast myself upon the Lord, and ask Him to help me.  To sustain me.  To make me wise about the choices I make.

And, do you see the answer?  A peace, beyond my understanding.  A peace, that is beyond any other peace. It keeps my heart, and MY MIND, thorough Christ Jesus.  Don't skip over the "mind" part, because it's our thoughts that can send us into the most anxious tailspin.  We need to have our mind resting on the Lord, and trusting in Him.  THAT is the place I need to be right now.  Trusting the Lord, moment by moment.

When I do that, all I feel is excitement about the days that lie ahead.  Yes, I will have tired days.  Yes, I will have emotional, hormonal days.  But, God has a perfect time for this little one to arrive, in His perfect way. My job is to rest in Him, and wait patiently. Not to worry, not to fear. Not to get so bound up with the little problems of a moment, that I forget the bigger picture - of God, in control of ALL things.

I will leave you with one of my favourite tracks from my Scripture Lullabies albums, based on those verses.  I listen to these in labour - more of that in another post....

And, I will try and get a pregnancy update picture, as soon as possible. For those of you who like these things....

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Chatting on the farmhouse porch {long time no chat, Patrice}

Everyday Ruralty
Well, it's been a while, Patrice, but here I am, joining in on the chat, a bit late. I feel I have neglected our chats, and as you must be having nice "fall" weather, I fancied myself sitting, chilling out, on your farmhouse porch.  Feet up, cool breeze, and relaxing. I can dream, right?
  1. How well do you handle change?
Hmmmm, I *THINK* the answer is "fairly well".  If the question was "do you LIKE change", then I would say "no".  On the whole, I am quite happy for life to plod along the way it always has, without any major changes.  

IF there is change, I am quite happy to adapt and make it work.  Most of the changes that have happened around here involve new members of the family.  THAT kind of change I handle pretty well, and rather enjoy! It brings challenges, every time, but they are SO worth it! 

2.  What did you have for breakfast this morning?

This morning, I had a "green" smoothie.  (Although, it was pointed out, it looks more "brown" than "green".  Tastes good, though!) A bit of pineapple juice, a hand full of frozen mango pieces, some blueberries, some raspberries and a banana. Oh, a good handful of baby spinach, too, to make it "green".  Blitzed up in my blender, big 500ml glass, and a straw, thank you very much.

Trouble is, I had no protein, so I was a quivering wreck by dinner time. 

I usually have mushrooms and tomato fried in a little healthy oil (coconut or olive), a lean rasher of bacon cut up in it, and an egg fried in the centre after it has all gone caramel-y and lovely. THAT keeps me going until lunch. 

3.  What's your favourite kind of nut? (Almond, pecan, peanut, walnut,cashews, macadamia, brazil, etc)

Tricky.  I LOVE nuts.  Most kind of nuts.   I am not very keen on pistachios, though. I ADORE cashews, and would happily add them to many things I eat - salad, curry, baked potato, just on their own!!  As a HUGE treat, I would get ones with a honey-roast coating. Naughty, but nice!

Or should that be, NUTTY, but nice?....

4.  Do you have a pumpkin in your house or yard?

Erm, no.

This is England.  We don't really "do" the all singing, all dancing, seasonal outdoor decor thingy.  OR the seasonal INDOOR decoration thingy, either.

Unless I am just totally ignorant to some huge change in the ways of the British??

5.  Would you like it if I changed the format of these Chats? What do you think would be good? Would you enjoy fill in the blanks, one big topic to discuss, or something else?

I am happy with whatever you suggest.  Maybe a change would be nice, but I enjoy the random questions you throw out.  It's insightful!

Big topics could be interesting.

"Something else" would require me thinking, so I am afraid you will have to forgo that privilege, as my pregnant brain is not into "thinking" today.  


Monday, 23 September 2013

Remembering a birthday {God's ways are perfect}

Last week was a busy one, with some "milestones".  First of all, Abi began school!  I can hardly believe she is old enough to begin  - time has passed so quickly.

She is absolutely loving it, and complains when all her work is done (which, of course, does not take long when done one-to-one at home!).  Somehow, she thinks she is being deprived when she has finished and no-one else has!! I think iI need to find her some other things to keep her busy, that she thinks of as "school"!

I have the added "fun" of trying to juggle FIVE children now of school age.  It went well last week, and we will add a bit more to our schedule this week, and build it all up gradually.  I I think an important part of schooling adjusting to your circumstances, and so whilst Abi needs a bit more 1-1 and Susie still needs some extra, I need to be flexible with everyone else.  As well as all that, I need to remember I am PREGNANT - just over 34 weeks, no less - and need to cut MYSELF some slack.  So, when I had a day on Friday, when ALL the older 4 seemed to struggle with understanding their word problems in Maths, I decided there as not point ME stressing, NOR them, and just took as long as we needed to get it done. At the same time, I made a double batch of chilli, and a massive cottage pie for visitors coming this week. I managed to end the first week back at school, without copious amounts of stress and agro!

Then, it was Abi's birthday on Thursday.

5 years since I had an emergency c-section.

I hear of so many people who find a c-section a traumatic experience. I find it a great blessing that I can say that I did not find mine to be such.  It was weird.  It was unexpected. Not traumatic.  Perfect, in fact.

My labour had seemed to be going ok. In fact, at one point I thought I was going to have her very quickly, at home. After my waters broke, the pressure relieved and we calmly went to hospital.  On the way there my contractions actually slowed down, and I was worried we would arrive and labour would have stopped!! Instead, we arrived and I was coping really well.  I was so calm, that they took their time just getting me into a room, introducing me to my student midwife, then doing my obs. I pottered off to give them their "sample", and then had them check my temperature, BP and pulse.  On went the monitor, to then check the baby. I had probably been there about 15 or 20 minutes by that point. Then, the student MW commented that the baby's heart rate was fast.  I pointed out that it was my HR she was hearing - the baby's was too slow.  She waited for another contraction, it was the same again.  I told her to go and get her supervisor. (Not that I was a knowledgeable mother, who had already had 4 babies, or anything...!!!) The REALLY lovely senior MW came in, and immediately was concerned.  She quickly did an internal.  I was 7cm (yay!), but there was a limb presenting first, and there were non-recovering decelerations of the baby's heart beat.   I knew RIGHT away that I was having a c-section, and I was filled with complete peace.  I even said "this is going to be a c-section, isn't it?" People came flooding into the room, and they started, in a  very panicked way, to get me out of the room. They got the bed stuck in the doorway, they were rushing so fast!! Robert had gone to the loo, somewhere in all of this, and as he came back, they were wheeling me away!! I had ONE moment of slight concern, when I suddenly thought "will the baby be ok??" With it being such a rush, it was a general anaesthetic.  I went into theatre and had LOADS of people doing things all at once.  It was kind of amusing, in a weird way! Again, they got the bed stuck, because they pumped one bed up to the theatre table, with one slightly underneath the other!!  Then there was one person putting IV access in, one putting on blow-up thingies on my legs, to prevent clots, and one lovely lady saying "we're just going to shave you, darlin'" - they weren't talking about my legs, either...*aherm*  The nastiest was the lovely liquid they gave me to drink, to dissolve anything in my stomach (ie, the banana I ate to keep my energy up in early labour at home!!), so I did not aspirate under GA. The next thing, they were putting oxygen on, telling me to breathe deeply.  They told me not to let my eyes close, and I knew I would be under shortly. (I was slightly confused about why they were not telling me to count backwards from 10 - I found out later - years later - that they only tell children to do that!!! *chuckles* )

Next thing I knew, I was waking up in quite a bright room, with someone handing me a baby, saying "Here's your baby, Caroline".  She was born at 8.40am, and this was after 11am!! I don't know what they did after the surgery, maybe let loads of students practice their stitching on me??

It was not pleasant to recover from.  The morphine made me feel icky, and recovery is WAY harder than after a "normal" delivery.  However, it transpired that the cord was wrapped around her wrist, a couple of times around her neck, and her arm was coming out first. It was the right thing for her to born that way, and I have always felt a peace about it. It was certainly better than the alternative. I don't know what life would have been like without our Abi-doo.

I had prayer, all through the pregnancy, that I wouldn't have to push when I gave birth. My pushing stage always took ages, and was tiring. I didn't quite expect my prayer to be answered that way!! Now, my prayers are a bit more specific!

Praise God, I have since had 2 successful VBACs, and pray that I have another very soon. VBAC, that is.....

I rejoice as I look back to the day she entered the world.

I rejoice that God gave me peace, in the midst of the storm.

I rejoice that Abi and I were kept safe and well.

I rejoice that God's ways are prefect.

I rejoice that I have been blessed with more babies since then, and that they were able to be delivered without repeating a c-section.

I rejoice that was such a content and happy baby, which aided my recovery no end!

I rejoice that Abi is a happy, fun, smiley and loving little girl, who brings us much joy on a daily basis.

I rejoice that I know that GOD holds the future, and no matter what lies ahead with this baby and delivery, God is in control.  I can plan, and be prepared for the best that I can be in labour, humanly speaking - at the end of the day, God has a plan, and it may not be what my plan would be, but it's BEST!

It's a good, daily reminder.  We plan, in so many areas.  We try and do our best, humanly speaking, to do what we should be doing. Sometimes, however, God changes our "plans", and throws a curve ball into our life. We need to remember that God's ways are perfect, and that our ways are not always HIS ways, but they are the BEST ways.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Binding {and 3-fold cords....}

Today, I need to finish off the loose ends for school starting back tomorrow. My main job of the day is binding.  I love my comb binder, and it keeps my pages, that once would have been loose, together in one place.

It got me thinking about marriage and love.

My binder?


I know it's not exactly the same principle, but hear me out.  My comb binder keeps something together, that otherwise would not hold itself together.  It needs the extra strength and binding of that comb, in order to keep it together. It is all intertwined, which gives it extra durability.

The verse in Ecclesiastes 4 is what came to my mind.

"a threefold cord is not quickly broken."

This verse follows on from another 2, that talk about the value of "two being better than one".

It's a general principle,talking about the importance of team work, and that an isolated and lonely life is not such a good one,  but I think it can specifically be applied to marriage.

Marriage should be beneficial, because we help each other.  Marriage should be about mutual comfort and support.

The thing is, there is an important third element, and I think that the reason why many Christian marriages are failing and struggling, is that it is missing.

When we think of that 3-fold cord, we consider it as a  husband, wife and GOD.  

God NEEDS to be the centre of our marriages.  He needs to be the one who will bind us together, and make our love strong.  It is HIS wisdom, HIS word, and HIS ways, that need to be entwined in our marriage, for it to grow strong and STAY strong. 

I think many marriages don't even BEGIN this way, as they should. They are built solely on the fact that they are both "saved", but it needs to go far deeper than that. Each part of the union needs to be in a strong relationship with the Lord, and then they need to weave that together, as a couple, to make them strong as ONE. 

When the marriage doesn't even begin like that, it doesn't bode well for later on down the line. Spending time together reading God's Word, learning about how God views our roles as men and women, husbands and wives, and praying together that God would strengthen and unite us spiritually above all else, should be vital in our marriages.

Sometimes it may be that our marriages BEGIN like that, but things start to unravel. Usually, it's because one of the "cords" is not as tightly wound together with the Lord as they were. We each need to make sure that we are still walking with Him as we ought to be.  Still doing our part, even if our husband is not doing his.  If one keeps holding on, they can pull the other tighter - whether by speaking to them directly, or just being a godly example to the other.  We NEED to keep holding on together, because our marriages are a covenant promise to God, and we can't just pull away because things are not as perfect as we hoped, or even because they are far from desirable at ALL.  We promised, before God, "until death us do part".  With God still in that cord, He can hold everything together. You will not be so strong, whilst one part of the cord is "Loose", but it will still be together, nonetheless.

I certainly know that the times when I have struggled most in my marriage. are when I have not been walking with the Lord as I should have been, and I was not seeking and following after God's ways in my marriage.   It was only when I (and probably Robert, too, but I try and focus on myself more!) put God's ways first, that those cords became tighter again, and our marriage grew stronger. 

The thought of my binder today has been a reminder that I need to keep my marriage strong. That I need to keep striving to improve in my walk with God, and in my role as a wife and mother, to help KEEP things strong. To spend time talking about the things of the Lord, discussing things that need to be worked on, and praying about them together. Having a heart and mind that is at one, and goals and aspirations that are united, through Christ.

Not one of us can become complacent.  The devil is always lurking around, trying his best to pick apart that cord - to loosen the strands, and even to cut right through them all. We can't let him get a foot hold - we need to keep our focus on the Lord, and have him bind us together.

The best binding agent, in it all?


I am going to read I Corinthians 13 again today, and put my name in there - remembering that I need to love in all those ways, to keep my marriage strong. 

Praying that you all have a week blessed by God, and that those of you who are married will strive to keep those cords pulled tightly.

Friday, 13 September 2013

A bad start to the day {labouring in my own strength}

Wakening up in the morning is sometimes hard work.

Do you know that feeling?

The alarm goes off.

"I REALLY must get up, but I will just shut my eyes for a few seconds."


An hour later, I woke up again, and jumped out of bed. Thankfully, with a busy week behind us, the children were still asleep.  I crept downstairs, and popped a load of shirts in the washing machine, before I owuld head to the lounge to read my Bible.

Then a child appeared.

She knew the drill. Mummy was reading her Bible, so she sat beside me.  Tapping something against her leg, noisily.

"Please, can you stop doing that?"

Who can concentrate with tapping?  Not me.

Then another child appeared, and I had to sort out the "who gets to have a turn sitting mext to Mummy" issue.

Then a 3rd child appeared, and the same issue arose.

All whilst I am trying to keep my train of thought on the chapters in Luke, which I was TRYING to read, even if I couldn't note down any thoughts.

Then the smallest "appearer" started to whine about breakfast.

"Please wait, Mummy is nearly finished".

But the whining carried on, and he wouldn't believe me, and I had to sort out his disobedience just THREE verses before I was going to finish reading my chapters.

His whinging and moaning carried on, not happy with anything I was doing.  Simeon was brought downstairs, and that extra, toddler element, of the day began. Only noises and basic words to communicate.  Oh, that, and shrieks of frustration.

Tummy ache was mentioned (a sure stress-inducer to my day....)

Older children had to be woken.

Squabbling started, about sharing a frying pan to fry eggs for 2 children.

I had to bring coffee to Robert, and I happily escaped, with the noise of whinging, squabbling and general grumpiness disappearing behind me.

"I would just love to go back to bed, and shut the door on the day", was my thought.

I'm tired, it's my 3rd trimester, and I forgot how you feel as the days get closer to impending child birth.

But then, the verses I read this morning came back to me, with clarity.  It was the chapter in Luke, where Jesus tells Peter, and the other men, to go back to the boat and cast their nets out the other side. They had been fishing all night, and caught nothing, and they couldn't quite understand how simply casting their net out the other side, could possibly yield them a greater catch.

They obeyed.

They hauled in so much that they couldn't lift the nets!

I had started out my morning like those fishermen, from thousands of years ago.  I had been starting the day in my own strength.  I was relying on my own efforts, my own mindset, my own energies, to get me through the day.  I was already failing, and it was only 9am!

But the Lord was showing me I still had to go back out there, and haul in the "catch".  I still have my responsibilities as a mother, no matter how hard they may seem. If I go under God's guidance - His strength, His wisdom and His grace - then I can haul in a better "catch" than I had managed so far this morning.

I need to enter EVERY day, remembering that I am going forth, as a wife and mother, under the instruction and direction of the Lord. It is HIM I am labouring for, and not for myself.  If I remember this simple, but important truth, then my day will be more successful than the beginning of this one.

Not only are we doing a practical work, in our lives, but we are also reaching our children for the Lord.  They are watching to see how WE behave - how WE deal with problems - how WE respond in a crisis.  All of these are opportunities to show the love, grace and kindness of the Lord to our children.  We are being soul-winners in our own home, and there is no greater work we can do than THAT.

The Lord followed that incidence with the command to "follow me".  We need to be following after the Lord, and keeping our service for Him at the forefront of all we do, every day.

Are you having a hard day, wherever God called you to be?  Remember that you are going out in GOD'S service, and He will help you to bring forth fruit for your labour.

  1. There’s a work for Jesus, ready at your hand,
    ’Tis a task the Master just for you has planned.
    Haste to do His bidding, yield Him service true;
    There’s a work for Jesus none but you can do.
    • Refrain:
      Work for Jesus, day by day,
      Serve Him ever, falter never; Christ obey.
      Yield Him service loyal, true,
      There’s a work for Jesus none but you can do.
  2. There’s a work for Jesus, humble though it be,
    ’Tis the very service He would ask of thee.
    Go where fields are whitened, and the lab’rers few;
    There’s a work for Jesus none but you can do.
  3. There’s a work for Jesus, precious souls to bring,
    Tell them of His mercies, tell them of your King.
    Faint not, nor grow weary, He will strength renew;
    There’s a work for Jesus none but you can do.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Organising your Home schooling {Blog Hop Week}

Can we hear an "awwwwwwwwwwww"?

It's the last day of our blog hop! I truly hope and pray that these posts will have been a blessing and encouragement to many ladies, and perhaps help them along the road to being more organised in at least some parts of their lives.

Now, I know that this may not seem to be relevant to those who do NOT home educate their children, but you may well discover that some of the practical ideas of how to organise in THIS area, may carry over to others.

The topic of organising home schooling could cover quite a few different areas - simply because it is such a varied topic, with so many elements involved.  There are supplies, books, papers, curricula, stationary, schedules, shelves.  LOTS of things that COULD be organised.

Maybe you are an educator who is so laid back that you think that being organised is not important.  Hats off to you, but I have found that I can NOT home educate my children, WITHOUT being organised.  Some people can manage without a curriculum, for example, but I just would be lost without any!

There are a few areas, regarding home schooling, that I find helpful to be organised about.

I am not someone who can manage without a curriculum.  I need all the help I can get, in structuring my children's schooling.  Having a curriculum does that for me. We switched curriculum almost 4 years ago, which I blogged about here. When choosing what is right for your family, I think there are several influencing factors, to help you organise your thoughts.

1. What is your family structure?
If you have only one or two children, your needs will be quite different.  If you have lots of children, like me, you may want to look at something that helps you include your children together, to make things easier for you as the teacher. Perhaps you have special needs children you have to consider, and you will need add in particular elements to accommodate that.

2.  How are you, as the parent, at planning and organising?
If you are not very confident at planning things out for yourself, it's better to go for something that is very parent-guided, and makes life easier for you.  Perhaps you even need a workbook type curriculum, which has everything planned out to the nth degree, and which requires very little input from yourself. These types of curcciula are also good if you are on the go a lot, or are just starting out, and are not very confident about the how's and wherefores of home-ed. You have to be happy, as the teacher, with whatever you choose, ad be comfortable knowing you can facilitate your children's learning to their best potential, without feeling stressed out or out of your depth.

3.  What styles of learning suit your children?
Some children are fine with workbooks, which are more "fill in the answer" types.  Some need more art and craft stimulation. Some love having their nose in a good literature or reference book.  Some like lapbooking, or notebooking. They all have ways which they naturally learn better.  I would suggest taking the time to observe how best your children learn, then trying to incorporate that into your curriculum choices.  That, by the way, is why i love Tapestry of Grace.  It covers pretty much all learning styles, and you can adapt it to suit each child in your family, whilst all covering the same content! Win-win

It's not very detailed, but those would be my main pointers for how to initial choose your curriculum, and organise that initial aspect of what you are DOING!

Planning/scheduling your days
This is an area that I have some amount of structure in, but it could be improved.

We have a schedule that we follow every day, which allows me to fit in my 1-1 time with any subjects that require it.  We always have maths, grammar, spelling and writing int he mornings. The older children do it in whatever order they like, but I do spelling and grammar with them.  Before break, I do 1-1 with younger children, and the older ones get on with any independent work.  after break, I do writing with Daniel, then, Beth and Josh, then spelling likewise. Thankfully, with Josh being a boy, and Beth being a younger, but, erm, enthusiastic girl, they work together on things.

Afternoons we work together on our other subjects, with the children working at their appropriate level on things.  At the moment, science, music and art we do all together. We also, in  the afternoons, do most of our Tapestry of Grace work.  That is done at the child's level, and can be very different for each child. It includes map/geography work, literature assignments, writing assignments, arts and enrichment, or lapbooking. I often read aloud to them, too, and we spend time discussing what we have been reading. It's a very inters ting time, and we learn a lot, chatting together like that!

Something else that's involved in this area, is deciding what OUTSIDE activities you commit to. Some manage to be out a lot, and still get book work done.  We just find that if we go out a lot, we can't get it all done.  We have our co-op once a month, and the odd trip out, but otherwise we do a 4-day week, and stay at home. We don't have any clubs, sports etc.  To some, they are important, and need to be scheduled in, but it's not something we consider vital.

What I plan to incorporate, when we begin our new year of Tapestry of Grace (we work January-January on that), is to allow the oldest one or two to be more involved with planning out their own week, and scheduling their days.  I think it will be good to give them a level of accountability and learn time management skills a bit better.

I also want to start using planning grids, so that the children can see better what they need to accomplish in a week.  It will also help me to think ahead a bit better, and not be so with making sure I have all the bits and pieces we need throughout the week.

There are multitudes of free, printable planning grids available.  I have looked and looked, but I think i have concluded that I need to make my own, to suit our own schooling subjects and needs.

Organising supplies

My main tip for this, before diving into explaining how I do things, is to make sure you have a home for everything.  If everything has a place that it belongs, then you, and your children, will know where everything needs to be put BACK!  It's a key to keeping tidy! Our last house was a struggle, because we had a lack of space, but now it's a lot easier to keep tidy.

The bane of my life, in the tidiness department, is PAPERS.  Loose papers.  Where to put them.  How to file them. How to stop them migrating around the house. How to stop them multiplying, because they do, don't they?  They breed, like rabbits. So, my plan for THAT, is to use ring binders better this next year.  Having a binder for each child, with any loose papers being filed under a separate tab, per subject.  I think, with so many children, it's one of the only ways to keep on top of it all.  Plus, training the children to file their OWN papers, and NOT leave them lying around.

Then, there's books.  I LOVE my books.  I LOVE getting new books.  I LOVE them looking tidy.

(Sadly, that part doesn't always happen.)

Now, my messy house has prevented pictures in some of my posts this week, but because I organised my shelves earlier in the summer, and only a few boxes needed to be moved to photograph the shelves, I HAVE PICTURES!!!

Having now looked at them, I bemoan, once again, my camera.  But, they will give you an idea of what I do.

This is a general piccie of my bookshelves. This one is organised the best, and I am really pleased with my re-organisation that I did. Let me break it down for you.

The shelf here is all my phonics related books. These are what I will use with my newest pupil, Abi (eek, can my FIFTH child be starting school next week????), and Susie and Daniel are still using some of the readers on the left. It's a combination of Jolly Phonics and the Oxford Reading Tree set, about Biff, Chip and Kipper.  I can't wait to start using these again.  

These shelves show SOME of Tapestry of Grace books. You can't see very clearly, but I recently colour dotted them, with the correct colour for each year - red, gold, green and blue. I plan to cellotape over the top of the dots, as they look like they want to come off. I have them put them into alphabetical order for each year, so they are easy to find and put back.  Now to train the children to do so - huge lesson in alphabetical order coming up.... The top shelf has the bigger books, the one underneath has smaller ones. There are other shelves with TOG books, both to the right and to the left. And, there will be more!  OOOOH, so exciting! 

The bottom shelves, on all 3 bookcases, have bigger, reference books. Things likes atlases, history books and things like that. 

Right, this is my shelf to keep manipulatives for early years and phonics.  Lacing cards, puzzles, matching activities. I just thought they needed to be all together, instead of all around the house. There are a lot of fun things on that shelf.  Well, I think so, anyway!

On the top 2 shelves here, I have literacy manipulatives, of various types.  This includes the things we need for our spelling curriculum, and for phonics. 

The shelf underneath has the things we use from day to day - maths books, grammar books, etc.  

This is a close-up of the files, which are arranged by subject.  I bought these cardboard files from Ikea, but they are really not strong enough for ones being used all the time.  Tip - but sturdy magazine files if you will be pulling them in and out every day!

This shows what is on TOP of the shelves. Don't be afraid to use the tops!! These are all things that I either use infrequently, or I don't want the children to touch - paper trimmer, comb binder, and the like. (bag of percussion = noisy, unless supervised = top of shelves.....)

This, my bloggy friends, is what the rest of my school room looks like just now.  


And we start back school next week?..... *whistles*

The other thing that I want to show you, I can't take a picture of just now.  It's in front of the wall map, in the picture above.  It's blue.  It's hiding behind a stack of empty storage boxes.

I use this to put all the books we need for the week, for Tapestry of Grace. It means the children always know where to find them, and where to put them back. Then, at the end of the week, I can file them back on the shelves, with the other TOG books. It's made it a lot easier to keep tidy, and for the children to find what they need.  Not that they ALWAYS go back where they belong, I hasten to add...

All my stationary, of the paper type, is in cupboards, or in my old favourite - Really Useful Boxes.  

Another one which I can't quite decide how to keep organised, is my pencils and pens.  I have a tried various types of pencil cases for each child, as well as various types of general storage - boxes, pots and random containers. I had wanted to make a carousel, of sorts, that would hold pens, pencils, erasers, etc.  But, I feel it may take up more room than is necessary.  I am also pretty sure I don't want pens kept at child level. I have learnt that lesson.  

So, any great tips on how you keep these, would be MASSIVELY appreciated. 

I want to finish (because, I could go on forever.....) on the note of my favourite gadget for helping organise papers and school work.

We all have a "pet" gadget, right?  Well, every normal home school Mum has, anyway... 

Mine is my comb binder!!

I LOVE my comb binder.

If you, like me, like curriculum that you can purchase in digital format, and then you need to print yourself, then you NEED one of these.  Ok, maybe not NEED, but your life will be tidier, more organised, and much happier if you have one. 

My writing curriculum, Writeshop,  is one which I print off each lesson - 10 for each year, usually at least 3 on the go at once. Having the comb binder makes them look neat and professional.    If you look back at my picture above, with the white magazine files, then you will see my Writeshop lessons bound in a red comb. I use it for grammar books, and also any printable worksheets for any child, which will require several sheets being printed at once, and then can be kept in booklet form.  

I will also be using it when I print off Heidi's Firmly Planted books.  *smiles*

I also love my laminator, but I will not begin to wax lyrical about that! 

SO, come on, last day, SHARE with us all!!! What are your favourite Pins on Pinterest, for orgnasiign school.  Your favourite planning grids or printables? Have you got hints and tips on what helped you get your school supplies organised?  Please either link up blog posts, or share in the comments section below.





Thursday, 5 September 2013

Organising your Meals {Blog Hop Week}

I may be wrong, but I think this is an area of my life that I could be FAR more organised.

This post is going to be more about what I NEED to be doing, rather than what I AM doing!

I should start, first, with what I AM doing.

I feed my family.

Every day.

With food that I make pretty much from scratch.


That's good, right?

Now, ORGANISING my meals. That, my friends, is something a little different.

I feel I am in a "lean" season (HA!) on the organising meals front. I went through a fabulous phase, of having it all planned out, a whole month at once!! It worked well, and I always knew what we were having, as well as planing in special meals, such as take-aways.

"What happened?" I may hear you ask.

I think it involved either pregnancy or a new baby.  Kind of the story of my life. Pregnancy and new babies seem to have that effect with certain elements of my life.

Chores carry on.  School carries on (in some way, shape or form).  Laundry carries on. Meals, somehow take a bigger hit.

In my brain, somewhere in the deep recesses, I have organisation.  I shop for my groceries online.  I have a huge, big, long list of my "favourites" that I have previously bought, and my organisation goes something like this.

"fruit - check.
vegetables - check.
Meat - hmmm, mince is always useful, a bag of frozen chicken for one meal, let's see what else is on offer... - check.
Dried goods - I THINK I need some more rice, and a pack of spaghetti is always handy - check
Any other things I think I remember we are short of - check"

And on I go, through the list...

So, in other words, I mentally have an idea of what we need in general terms, and vaguely plan out what we are having in the week.  Then, it's just a case of remembering what my mental planning had in mind for each day, once we hit that day.

Ok, so I am right, right? I need to do some work on organising meals.


SO, the good news is, I HAVE A PLAN!!

Can we have a "hooray"???

(Plans are good... especially if you actually put them into practice.... *walks off whistling*)

Firstly, I need to get back into knowing what I am doing in advance.  I saw a lovely idea on Pinterest, which is rather pretty, but also very functional.

I love this idea for a few reasons.  First off, I love clothespins!  We use them quite a bit for early years activities, in school, and I bought a whole load "just to have".  I love that it looks pretty. I love the cute colours.  I love that you just make a whole load of laminated cards with all the meals you make, and then decide, week by week, which ones you are having.

I may change it slightly, to have a "use a lot" pocket" and "less often" pocket.  Maybe slightly cleverer and attractive titles than that, but you get the idea.  You see, in my mental organisation, we do have certain meals nearly every week.  Baked potatoes is one, and bolognaise is the other. We ALWAYS have a roast on a Sunday, so I almost don't need a peg for that day.  We do have a shared tea at Church twice a month, so reminding myself of that instead, may not be a bad idea.

If I am VERY canny, I may get this project done in the next day or so, and have it on this blog post by Thursday.


I can see this type of menu planner would make it simpler to plan, as it is reusable.

Did I mention it's also pretty?

The other thing I plan to do, is start making double of certain things.  I also used to do this, but am guessing the whole pregnancy/baby thing may have also halted THAT.

We hope to get a new fridge-freezer soon.  Currently, I only have a chest freezer, which is actually not very practical for putting pre-prepared meals into, AND be able to easily find them again.... underneath bags of frozen peas, joints of meat, and loaves of bread. If I get a fridge-freezer, I think it may be easier to put whole meals into the drawer type storage, and be easily able to compartmentalise them?
Well, that's my hope, anyway!

Therein is  my confession of the week.  I am currently a "winging-it-for-mealtimes" mother, with good intentions to become more organised.

PLEASE (she pleads, longingly....) share what you do for meal planning, so I can be inspired!!!

Read what the other ladies do, and also, LINK UP, if you have written a blog post about meal planning!!

(Are you getting the hint of desperation here?....notebook at the ready, to jot down your ides.... GO...share!)




Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Organising your Chores {Blog Hop Week}

Now, THIS is an area of life that I feel I am always tweaking, and feel needs constant updating and improvement.

I am not one for amazing charts and lists, highlighting exact details and times for each chore to be done.  We tried it, and it just didn't seem to work for us.  Part of it stems from the fact that Robert doesn't like things so regimented, so we fit in with that.

Instead, we work more by a system of just KNOWING what they are to do, and when they are to do it, rather than any charts up on walls.

We tend to work with having particular times of the day to do particular jobs. After each meal, the oldest 3 have a job to do.  Josh sweeps the floors, Beth clears the table and work surfaces and Daniel empties the dishwasher. Setting the table is whoever I ask, but I would like that to have better organisation, so I plan to allocate that out with more routine.  We only really need the table "set" for dinner, so I could allocate a child per day, with an older child helping the younger one on their day. It's handy having plenty of children! *grin*  Clear up after dinner is also a "Pitch in" job.  No-one leaves the table without their own plate/cutlery/glass, and then they all help put things in the dishwasher and clean the table.  I should have that organised more particularly, as it would prevent squabbles over whose "turn" it is to do it.

As well as after meals, we have jobs that get done after breakfast, in their rooms.  They MUST have their bed made every morning.  Daddy checks, and they know all about it if they don't do it!

At the end of each day we have "clear up" time. At 5.30pm, they are all given a job to do, to make sure the hall, lounge and kitchen are tidy for Daddy coming home.  There's nothing quite like a nice, welcoming tidiness, for Daddy to return home to.  I know it bothers him if it is messy when he gets in, so we do our utmost to make sure it is tidied, and preferably vacuumed, before he sets foot over the doorstep.

Throughout the day I will have random "spot tidies".  I will maybe tell the children to find 5 things each, in a place they don't belong, and to run quickly and put them away.  Again, with plenty of hands, this makes light work!

The other main way we divide up chores is that each child, over a certain age, has a "dominion". It's an area that they have to do a "proper" clean and tidy, every Saturday morning. Josh looks after the dining room, including the bookshelves in there, Beth (10) is in charge of the downstairs loo and the bathroom,  Daniel is responsible for the utility room and Susie the toy room. I try and give out jobs like that according to age and ability. Abi will soon be in charge of daily checking that the hand towels and toilet rolls are supplied in the bathrooms, once we get our shelving back in the airing cupboard. I plan on putting it all at her height, so she can easily reach things.

My "dominion" is the school room (control issues - I know I will do it how I like it!), and my own bedroom. I also make sure that the kitchen is done in a more thorough way.

More "deep clean" jobs are done less frequently, and I just assign them to a child, as I see that they need to be done.

The children are responsible for tidying their own rooms, and I give them a gentle reminder each day, to get it tidied up.  Then, they spend a bit longer on a Saturday doing a "deeper" job. That would include me checking there has been no "shoving" going on - ie, under beds....

I would like to have more of a routine with some less frequent jobs, such as cleaning cupboard fronts in the kitchen, or cleaning out the fridge.  I tend to do it, at the moment, when I see it needs to be done. If I had a better routine, I think it would save such a big job when I *DO* notice that it needs to be done!  It's another one that I need to have a search on Pinterest for ideas about.

Another thing, which I saw mentioned on Heidi's FB page, is payment for chores, or not?  We don't pay for regular chores.  When we are coming up to a holiday (vacation), we find them extra chores to do, for which they get paid, which are not "run of the mill".  Then they get paid a set amount per chore, and less if they do not do a good job!!!  We feel that helping with chores is just a part of normal family life, which they shouldn't expect payment for. We all work together, to make the home run as well as possible, and it'a labour of love.

Again, this is what works for *US*.  I am always happy to learn about what others do, and be inspired by fresh ideas.

So, once again, please share links, Pinterest boards, or blog posts that you have written that tie in with today.

More importantly, don't forget to hop on over to these ladies, and see what they have to share about chores!




Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Organising your Laundry {Blog Hop Week}

Welcome to day 2 of our Blog Hop Week!

Today, the mountainous subject of LAUNDRY!  Which house does NOT have an ongoing battle with laundry?  That love-hate relationship.... those clothes which we need, and often rather love, but which need to be regularly cleaned. Throw small children into the mix, who seem to care less fro their clothes, and get through more than ONE outfit a day, and your mountain starts to build!

With 7 children, and 2 adults, in our home, laundry is a big thing. It's something that cannot be ignored. It cannot be neglected.  I do NOT want our family to look and smell like a band of homeless people, so laundry MUST happen.

As with pretty much everything in life, if you can organised about your laundry, it won't become the Mount Everest that it has the potential to be, and maybe stick to a Nevis proportion, instead.

There are so many different views on how, when and what way to organise your laundry.  I read an interesting discussion amongst some friends recently, about what age they get their children to do laundry. I found it particularly interesting, as it is not really an area of life I have got my children to take charge in.

When I got to thinking WHY that was, I realised that the logistics of laundry depend a LOT upon the size of your home, or the space you have to put laundry baskets around the house.  Also, if you have a laundry room, or not.  Various other things factor in, too.

This will also be a blog post about how I would LIKE to organise things, as I have not fully got my desired system into play, as yet.

When we moved to this house, in December 2011, I was THRILLED that I finally had a utility/laundry room.  As it transpires, the only thing I actually have IN the room, at the moment, is the washer, a dryer and a sink.  No cupboards, no work space. Just the machines, and floor.  Now, the extra floor space is a lot of help, because in the last house we didn't even relay have the space to BRING the dirty laundry to the machine! It was ever so easy for the whole process to get backed up, just through lack of space to put the dirty clothes, and the clean, unfolded ones. I would invariably end up with random baskets of clothes, in various states of cleanliness, folded and unfolded, around my house.

One of the first things I think is important is to have some kind of storage for your dirty clothes.  Whether it's baskets in each bedroom, or baskets in a laundry room (or, erm, the floor in front of the ashing machine??... )- the children need to know WHERE to put their dirty laundry.  In our home, the children bring their dirty laundry down at the end of the day, after they get ready for bed.  Well, they should.... Robert and I have a laundry basket in our room.  For our laundry, I sort through it once or twice a week, dividing it up into the type of wash I will put it in. (more on that in a minute...) It's amazing how much we can squish in there, if I only get to it once a week.... *whistles*

Once the the laundry is brought down, *I* then sort it into the right "wash" for it to go in.  Now, this is a job that will eventually be done by the chidlren, when they bring their dirty laundry downstairs.  At the moment, I do not have the space to implement it. I do "light", "dark", "denim", "shirts" and "towels".  I used to throw the denim in with the dark wash, but when it needs to go in the drier, the denim never dries properly, and it can cometimes stop some of the t-shirt type things from fully drying, too.  My dryer works more efficienctly (it's one of these "smart" ones) if the majority of the clothes are of one fabric type.  Hence why I separate out shirts and denim. Shirts dry VERY quickly in my dryer, and also dry nicely on the line.  Sometimes I used to hang them on the shower rail in our en suite, but since our refit, we now have a shower screen, and the rail is gone.  I will miss that! At the moment, it's easier for me to go through the children's washing, and sort it myself.

When we get some cupboards and shelving into the room, then THIS is how I plan to organise it.  I will have a work surface, with open shelving underneath - ie, no cupboard fronts.  I have these Ikea baskets...

I found this image, which shows you the idea of what I would like.

I plan to have at least 6 of these in the shelving, under the work surface/counter.  One will be for light, one for dark, one for denim, one for towels, one for shirts, one for ironing. The dirty clothes will get sorted into these baskets as soon as they come downstairs. When the basket gets full, I plan that whoever sees there is a full load, will put the wash on. Now, this will be a trial and error issue. I may find just one person needs to be responsible for it... maybe me.  I don't want children either over or under-loading the washing machine, and either things not washing properly, or wasting water. It will certainly keep the whole process tidier, once we have these shelves.  It's on our to-do list, but I would like it to-done pretty soon! 

When the wash is done, and the clothes are dry, it used to be fairly common for me to NOT get the folding done straight away.  Then I got my new kitchen table.

  I realised that the reason for me not doing the folding immediately, was a lack of reasonable space to do it. If I did it on the lounge floor, I had to wait until the children weren't around to kick it over. If I did it on the kitchen table, I was limited by children using it for school, or using it for meals and meal prep.  If I used the dining room table, the same problems applied.  Once I got this EXTRA table, its function was for me to HAVE a work table.  It's eventually going to be used for sewing (once i get my machine fixed...), and other crafts, but I realised it was PERFECT for folding laundry.  I lift a load onto the table, and sort it into piles for each person in the house. the table is big enough to have a pile for each person, so it's perfect!  I then shout for the children, and they bring the laundry straight up to their drawers, rooms. (yes, it's supposed to go straight into their drawers, but this does NOT always happen....)

I have never kept on top of my laundry so well as this, until I got that table!  I have ALWAYS maintained that you can be more organised and tidy if you have a HOME for everything! It's TRUE! Find a home for things, and tidiness will be far easier!

Yes, I could get my children to take over laundry folding, but I am quite particular about how I like my clothes folded (ask anyone who has helped me with it before... I sit, trying not to tell them they are folding something "wrong", and then just try and subtly re-do it myself...which kind of defeats the purpose of them helping, but some people still fold it their way, after I have asked them to do it another way.  The problem is with me, not them... lol )I find it's just quicker and more efficient if I do it myself.  I think I need to "give up" my control over that area at some point, and let the children help!

I seem to also do something else with my laundry, that is a dying art.  Ironing.  Yes, I iron.  My husband wears a shirt EVERY day.  I can NOT have him going out in a crumpled shirt, and I especially cannot have him standing in a pulpit looking crumpled! I don't iron everything, by a LONG stretch.  I know some people who literally do, and think I am some kind of sinner because I don't iron my bed-sheets/denim skirts/t-shirts or tea towels. If I fold them as soon as they are dry, and especially if they have been in the dryer, then the creases come out just fine.  The same does NOT apply to Robert's shirts, my blouses, the children's Sunday clothes, and Robert's cotton hankies.  Yes, cotton hankies.  (You DON'T use cotton hankies??... tut tut... LOL )  That is all I iron, and THAT takes me long enough in a week.

Personally, I think that these choices are completely personal, with issues like ironing.  For me, its more important to spend my time doing something other than ironing bed-sheets that you sleep under, with your eyes shut, in the dark.  If someone else has the time and energy to put into such things, good for them!  But, you can't say that someone else is WRONG for not doing it!!! It doesn't mean you are lazy, that you "don't care", that you are messy or whatever accusation people make..  It means you have prioritised life differently, and do you know what?  That's FINE! 

So, there we have it.  Washing, folding, putting away and ironing.  That about covers laundry, right?

Oh, hang on.

Let me just finish with my bug bear, and how I am trying to sort it out.

Wait, TWO things.

Odd socks.  

Enough said.

Children who put clean clothes in the dirty laundry pile.  PET HATE.  I think that is one reason that I hang onto the sorting/washing job.  Then *I* can look at the clothes and decide if they REALLY need to be washed, or the child has simply routinely chucked it in the washing pile. I am trying to train them to CHECK, and only put things in if they look or smell dirty.  The odd spot we can clean off by hand. 

Other pet hate... FOLDED laundry ending up back in the dirty washing pile.  They really get in trouble for that, because it clearly shows they have not even bothered putting it away, and it's ended up on the floor with the dirty washing they have taken off! Mostly a boy thing, I hasten to add.

Final pet hate.  INSIDE OUT CLOTHES!! I give it back to the child, to turn the right way round, before I will wash it.  Also, girls leaving pants inside tights. GRRRRR! 

Hey, that was more than 2 things.... oops.

To be fair, most of those issues are child-training issues, and it's down to me, as the mother, to consistently teach them how to deal with their clothes, and discipline them if they don't obey. That's ME needing to be organised.

Oh, I didn't mention bed linen.  I wash that whenever I get a moment in a day when there isn't endless other washing to be done!!  I wash ours more frequently than the children's.  For mine, I just have to set my mind to get it done, and it doesn't always get washed the day it gets taken off (we have 2 sets for our bed), but because it takes up so much space in the dirty pile, it gets done within 24 hours. With the children's beds, I usually just make sure that the whole set gets washed, dried and put back on, in the same day.  

That's about it, I think.  The short version is that I organise my laundry to suit our circumstances, but I plan to organise it better once I have the space created to do so. 

Hop on over to the other bloggers, to see what they do! And, please link up with your own posts, if possible, and share how you keep on top of Mount Laundry! 




Monday, 2 September 2013

Organising your Spiritual Life {Blog Hop Week}

Welcome to Day 1 of our blog hop!  It is my joy to have this event happening, and my prayer is that many ladies will be encouraged and inspired by the posts shared by us all this week. 

God is a God of order.   The Bible tells us so.  We see it in creation.  We see it in the world around us.  DISorder is a result of sin. Sin brought chaos into this world, and it's the direction our hearts tend towards. We all have a tendency towards disorder in some shape or form.  Yes, there are those rare people who seem to have it all together, and have a nature which inclines towards being permanently organised.  I know very few of them, and most people I know will bemoan the fact that, try as they might, being organised is a struggle.

It's because we are sinners. And, ALL being sinners, we all struggle.

I am not saying it's a SIN to be disorganised, but it's our sinful natures which cause us to procrastiante, be lazy, selfish, or too preoccupied with the wrong things, to keep on top of life.  It's why it's a struggle!!

THAT is why I came to this topic as the first one.  If we can't get a semblance of organisation in our SPIRITUAL life, then we are truly going to struggle with all the other areas.  If our hearts have a desire to honour the Lord in all that we do, we will have a desire to be organised, and keep our lives running as smoothly as is within our power.

I wamt to first of all share some Bible verses, which should be the spiritual motivation for wanting to be organised, before going onto what I consider important, in organising my spiritual life. 

One of the most challenging verses, regarding all that we do as wives and mothers, is this.

"Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." 
I Corinthians 10:31

Now, I am not one for taking verses out of context, so I will first of all acknowledge that this verse comes in a passage which teaches us about Christian liberty, particularly in regard to what you can and cannot eat. The first part of the verse alludes to that, but it then carries on to say WHATSOEVER YE DO.  We are are to do ALL to the glory of God.  If I divert slightly, it does remind us that the whole topic of being organised is not one in which any of us can be legalistic!! There are no scriptural LAWS or RULES about how to organise your life, how you should clean your house, or do your laundry. Anyone that tries to tell you that there way is right, and makes you feel bad for not having the same standards, is plain WRONG! I know people like that.  They try and tell you that you should have the same priorities as them, and attempt to make you feel like some kind of sinner because you don't dust every day like they do, or clean around your windows once a week. This is certainly NOT what WE are trying to do.  We are trying to share ideas, suggestions and to say what WE find helpful, in the hope that it may help another.

What we DO need to grasp, from this verse, is the SPIRIT of it.  Whatever we do, and however we do it, our motivation should be that we should be trying to glorify GOD.  Not to make ourselves look like the perfect housekeeper.  Not to pridefully be better than anyone else.  Not even to please our husband (although, that's certainly not a bad motivation!).  We should be doing everything for GOD.  To please HIM.  That means, if we have a trying week, where God allows certain circumstances to come our way, that prevent us from doing all the jobs we would have liked, or that throws our normal organisation out of the window, so long as we know that we are still glorifying God in all we do, in the midst of it all, THAT is what counts.

I can tell you about a week like that.

Suppose there was a woman who decided to host a blog hop about organisation.  Suppose it turns out that she goes away to a Bible conference, and there is some refit work being done in her home whilst she is away, which she is expecting to be finished when she gets back, or certainly soon after.  SUPPOSE she gets back to find it's NOT finished, and it won't be, until the blog hop is in full swing, or maybe even AFTER it's finished.  Suppose she has ended up trying to do a lot of cleaning and tidying, and general catching up from being away, and she isn't even ORGANISED enough to have begun her blog posts sooner than 2 days before they are due to start going out.  SUPPOSE she was supposed to get pictures done relating to her blog posts, in those days when she got back, and her house is too messy to get those pictures done.


Well, suppose that in the midst of it all, she can still glorify God, by keeping on doing what she can, and making sure her family is cared for, fed and clean clothes on their back.  Suppose she even ends up slightly delaying her start-back date for school, so that she CAN keep glorifying God, and not get stressed and bogged down by things that are not done when she thought.

Ladies, this is the first spiritual organisation we need.  KEEP GLORIFYING GOD, in ALL that you do.

If we start to get stressed, tired, grumpy, irritable and wazzed up, we are NOT doing it to His glory.  It doesn't help us, it doesn't help our family, and it doesn't glorify God, if we are so busy trying to do X, Y and Z, that we are losing the plot.  Go with the flow.  Accept that things are not always the way you want them to be, and keep glorifying God.

That brings me onto my second mantra.

"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might;"
Ecclesiastes 9:10

So long as we are doing whatever we do, with all the effort we can muster, then we are doing well. 
No half-heartedness.  No procrastination.  No reluctance or reticence. 

Just, doing our best.

THAT'S what counts.

What is "our best" for one, may not be "best" for another.  We need to search our own hearts, and look to our own set of circumstances, and gauge what our "best" is.  Right now, I know that I have the physical limitations of pregnancy.  I have to adapt how I organise and implement a routine, in order to cope with the demands that pregnancy places on my body.  Yes, I could keep going at a crazy pelt, but I'd soon burn out, or come to physical harm, in the process. I need to still be able to nurture and care for my family, so "my might" is somewhat less right now! 

Right, I am getting hugely side-tracked, and I want to still tell you about how I organise my spiritual life. But, those two verses I consider to be important, so I felt that was the best place to start!

How, then, do *I* organise my spiritual life.

There could be many ways to legitimately define one's "spiritual life", but I am going to break it down into just 3 areas, for the purposes of this blog post.  Most of the emphasis will be on the first, but I will touch briefly on 2 and 3.

1) My quiet time
2) Our family worship
3) Church life

The first two are areas which the scriptures do not give specific COMMANDS about.  There are verses that give us guidance, but there is no right or wrong way to go about it.

Let's start with,

1) My Quiet Time
This is an area which is going to look quite different for each person.  I think it's something that is good and right to have.  I think there is a scriptural principle to make the reading and studying of God's Word, and a prayer life, quite clearly important.

The Psalms, particularly, are filled with references to prayer, meditation and the primacy of God's Word. You read through, and you will find numerous references to these subjects.  We can think of many examples of people praying, and how God answers prayer. People praying everywhere from captivity, to the temple, to a "closet". Prayers whilst busy working, praying at set times, praying aloud, praying silently, praying alone, praying with others.  We can find of varied references to the meditation upon God's Word, and the reading of it - of hiding it in our hearts.

None of this can be part of our life, if we don't commit to DOING it!  We MUST read our Bibles.  We MUST pray.  If we don't we are never going to get the rest of our life the way it needs to be.  Having a close walk with God is the key to success in every other area.

My quiet time has changed format, as I have gone through different seasons of life. I have had my "quiet time" in the evenings.  Then, I started to struggle with staying awake, so I tried to change to the morning.  Then, I was struggling with children waking before me, so I tried to make time in the day.  With small children, that was nearly impossible, so I came to the conclusion that I needed to organise my sleep and waking life, and get up earlier!! I cannot begin to tell you how much of a blessing that has been.  I am not going to tell you that you must do the same, because I know there are some with children who waken earlier than they could think of getting up, because they cannot get to bed any earlier due to husband/family commitments. That's fine. But, for those who COULD try, TRY IT!! It will take you several weeks of keeping at it, and gradually changing your waking time, little by little, but you will eventually find that your body adjusts.  Then, oh the joy of waking to a peaceful house, and meeting with God before you meet with the world. Such a sweet time that can be.  Tucking your feet underneath you on your favourite chair.  Steaming mug of your favourite wake-up beverage (or, perhaps ice-cold drink??) to hand.  Bible at the ready.  Just you, and God.  Bliss.

As my time of day to have my quiet time has changed, so has my actual format of WHAT I do.  It has ALWAYS involved reading my Bible! Of course! I do know some who only read a devotional, but I personally consider that as an extra, not as the main part. Scriptures, first and foremost, should be the centrality of our time spent with God, alongside prayer. Not just reading someone else's thoughts on a verse, but pondering it for ourselves, and searching out what God wants us to learn from it. 

I have gone through using devotionals as the springboard, and then reading the entire chapter that perhaps goes along with a verse contained in that day's reading. I found that to be ok, but not very methodical.  Then, I tried using a one-year Bible.  I found that a bit soul-destroying, as I ended up getting so far behind, and so mixed up with where I was (which was SO not on the day that I was actually living in!!....), that I kind of gave up. OOPS. I then found my Good Morning Girls group.  It was SUCH a blessing, and really got me back into the habit of getting up and having my daily quiet time. The study was good, and it particularly helped me get a method of HOW to study a scripture passage.  I began using the SOAP method.  You write out verses of SCRIPTURE (S), then your jot down an OBSERVATION (O), then and APPLICATION (A) then you PRAY over it (P).  It's a simple, yet effective, way to actually STUDY what you read, and not simply gloss over it mechanically. It's amazing what you can find, when  you ask the Lord to open you eyes and apply His Word to your heart!  I began using notebooks to keep a note of what I was learning, which was particularly good with GMG, when we went through a portion over a period of weeks, such as the book of James. And, any excuse to buy a pretty notebook, and I am straight on it! (I belong to the "I-am-addicted-to-buying-pretty-notebooks anonymous" group.... ) When the GMG group started more into studying through devotional type books, I stepped back a bit, realising I wanted to just stick to spending my quiet time digging into God's Word on its own. I love reading devotional books in my spare time (when I find some!), but not as my main source of daily, spiritual Manna. 

So, I went back to trying to find a "read your Bible through in a year" system. I googled, and I got this title as a hit....

"Read your Bible through in a year, for shirkers and slackers"

HA! That was ME!!!


Just trying to "keep it real", in the words of my esteemed friend, Heidi.....

If you want to read a full review of how it works, read it here, but it basically runs like this.

Sunday: The books of poetry
Monday: The Pentateuch
Tuesday: O.T. history
Wednesday: O.T. history (There is a lot of it.)
Thursday: O.T. prophets
Friday: N.T. history

Saturday: N.T. epistles

It's not tied to specific dates, just broken down into chunks of about 4 chapters per day, from the Biblical section for that day.  It's great, because you know you will be reading the books of Moses every Monday, or the epistles on a Saturday.  If you fall behind, you just pick up at the next portion you are supposed to be reading, with no gaps, or pressure to "catch up", because you have missed your "day's" assignment.  It's going to take me more than a year, but I know I can get through the whole Bible!! I am loving it, and finding precious truths on the way through, that I had never picked up on before.

It works for ME.  If you think it may work for you, then give it a whirl.

Whatever you do, READ YOUR BIBLE!!  The lady, in my link above, gives a great quote from John Stott.

Christians who neglect the Bible simply do not mature. When Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy to the effect that human beings do not live by bread only but by God’s Word, he was asserting that the Word of God is just as necessary for spiritual health as food is for bodily health. I am not now thinking of remote Christian tribes people into whose language the Bible has not yet been translated, nor of illiterate people... I am thinking rather about ourselves. Our problem is not that the Bible is unavailable to us, but that we do not take advantage of its availability. We need to read and meditate on it daily, to study it in a fellowship group and to hear it expounded during Sunday Worship. Otherwise we shall not grow. Growth into maturity in Christ depends upon a close acquaintance with, and a believing response to, the Bible.

[Source: God’s Book For God’s People, John Stott, IVP p. 76]

Oh, such a challenge, and so true!

Now, prayer time, in my "quiet time", is something I plan to organise better. I have tried several different ways of keeping track of prayer requests, and praises.  Of trying to methodically pray for various people.  I have some semblance of organisation - I pray for my husband, and each of my children.  I pray for my wider family.  I pray for my friends.  I would love, however, a better way of keeping track of prayer requests I hear from others, and following through on seeing the outcome of such requests. Seeing prayer answered, because I have noted it down, and followed it through.  I am sure that I can find some system, and it's on my to-do list to find one, or create one!

So, if any of you have a great system, PLEASE share it in the linkie facility below!! You may inspire many with your great idea!

Let me also mention, just now, about Pinterest.  I have found it to be a great place to store ideas, on various topics, and to find great ideas, of course. If you have something relevant to this week's blog hop, that you have a board or a pin on Pinterest about, please share it, too! you can find me on Pinterest, here. (Note to self - put a "follow me on Pinterest" button onto your blog....)

So, that's a quick overview of my current quiet time!  I waken before my children, read my chapters for the day, take a note of what has jumped out at me, prayer about it, and pray for those the Lord lays on my heart.

Could it better?  ALWAYS! 

Onto points 2) and 3), quickly!

2) Family Worship

Now, this is something that I just think you can NOT be legalistic about.  Undoubtedly, there is instruction in scripture about teaching our children about the Lord, and His Word.  HOW we should do that is not prescribed.  Family Worship is good, in fact it is often excellent, but not a COMMAND, as such.  

We have a formal time of Family Worship, to start every school day.  Robert reads from God's Word, teaches us something from it, we sing together, and he prays.  It's a great way to start our school day, and we didn't always do it.  We have used various Bible tools.  "Leading Little Ones to God", and "Our 24 Family Ways" are 2 that spring to mind.  Another memorable one was Robert reading through the book of Proverbs!!! He REALLY brought that alive, and used many object lessons which I believe will stick with the children for years! (They have certainly stuck with me!!)  It was so good, that I hope he does it again, perhaps when the younger ones are bigger to appreciate it a bit more, and the older ones could do with a review! We are hoping to begin using Heidi and Jay St Johns "Firmly Planted" studies, in the coming months, and possibly tying them in with Family Worship, as well as in the rest of our school studies. They are doing an introductory offer on their set on the Gospels (Volume 3), PLUS, it's a download!! So, go and have a look at that, on their website! (see my link above...) 

In the evenings, before the children go to bed, we "sing and pray".  Robert will usually bring some spiritual application to end our day, as well, but it's our main singing time.  We LOVE to sing!!! We just sing choruses and verses of hymns from memory.  We all have our favourites, and the children learn them from a  young age. Robert regularly will remind the children of what it says in Psalm 92:1

"It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High:"

It is GOOD to sing praises to God!! 

If you don't already have singing as part of your normal family routine, try and begin! It's a joy and blessing to sing praises to God, together as a family.  It can also be a great way to learn scripture, because there are many scripture in song versions available, to make scripture memory easier! There is one of the above verse, which is a favourite in our family, and you can find them here.  These particular ones are in KJV format, which is our preferred version. 

3) Church Life

I think this is a vital part of organising your spiritual life.  There is a direct command in scripture regarding not forsaking gathering together with God's people, the Church.  I think it's really important to find a local Church, and to commit to regularly attending, and coming into membership with them.  There is such a blessing to be found in having a "family" like that - a spiritual family, with whom you feel at one.  A family with which you can all feed together upon God's Word, brought to you by a faithful preacher. I am doubly blessed, because my faithful preacher is my husband! The Bible exhorts us to build each other up, as a body of believers - as His Church and Bride. We can't do that if we never attend, and don't want to make a commitment to being a formal part of such a group.  

As a family, we attend both services on the Lord's Day.  We train our children to sit in the service, so they are learning the importance of hearing God's Word preached, from a young age.  For them to realise that God's Word is for THEM! As my husband is the one in the pulpit, I am the one responsible for the children.  Currently, all children aged over 5 sit together (five-in-a-row!), without adult supervision.  They have their "wobbly" moments, but generally they sit nicely! I take the youngest two out, when Simeon gets too vocal. (Since typing this post on Saturday, I had my 3yo sit in for NEARLY all the service, beside his big brothers, without me!!! He managed until half way through the sermon,which I still thought was great... I was especially thrilled that others noticed, and told him how good he had been!) Robert is very easily distracted, so I exit fairly quickly upon the beginning of too much child-made noise!! Thankfully, our service is relayed through to his study, so I sit with them out there.  I don't always get to concentrate fully, but every week I pray that God would at least give me some golden nugget to take away, and to bless with in the coming week.  If nothing else, I am training my children to sit and listen, and for them to learn the importance of gathering together with God's people.  For me, I am also benefiting from the encouragement of fellow-shipping with the rest of my church family.  I love them all dearly, and they are such a blessing to me.  I really miss them if I can't be there, whether through illness, or trips away elsewhere. 

All in all, I consider my attendance at Church to be a God-given source of growth, blessing and encouragement to my heart, and my spiritual life. If I can't get out, I find a service through, and join them as they worship elsewhere. That is only if we are ill, which thankfully is rare. It NEVER takes the place of joining with my own Church family, if at all possible.

So, finally, there we have it.

How I organise my spiritual life.  No doubt there are things I have missed out, or MUCH more I could have said (believe it or not, lengthy as this post already IS!).  These are the main elements, which *I* consider are important, and that help *ME* to organise my spiritual life.

It is my prayer that they may be of encouragement or inspiration to someone else, and that the Lord would use my experiences, to bless another.

Now, PLEASE join in with the blog hop.  Hop on over to the other ladies' blogs and see what they are sharing today