Monday, 29 June 2015

Encouragement for mothers {podcasts from Heidi St John}

Today, I started writing a post about what I've been up to. But, I now have a poorly boy (who may have an ear infection), and a grumpy baby, so it just ain't happening.

What I CAN quickly share about, is a fantastic resource that I have been meaning to tell you about.

I have followed Heidi St John's blog and FB page since before I met her, three years ago. I have read her books.  I have some of her Bible curriculum.

But, what I have been INCREDIBLY blessed of, lately, is her podcasts.

For those who don't know (there must be SOME, right?) - a podcast is a short audio production, that you can listen to online, or have downloaded onto your audio device of choice. Personally, I have the Podcast App on my apple devices, and it automatically goes on there.

Heidi's podcasts are straight from Heidi's heart.  They are on subjects ranging from parenting, to marriage, to homeschooling, to current events. Often she will invite one of her valued friends to talk alongside her. It's helpful to hear the input from these other sweet ladies, too. Heidi, in her own fun and witty way, shares both wisdom from God's Word - her central "selling point" is the authority of the scriptures in ALL our life - and her experience as a mother. To hear advice from someone who has "been there, done that", is invaluable.  

If you are a mother who could do with a spiritual and practical encouragement in her life, then look no further than Heidi's podcasts. You will smile, and you will nod your head furiously as you agree with her sentiments, and you will say a hearty "amen" to her Biblical truths. 

On a Sunday afternoon, I have taken to sitting with a hot mug of something or other, and hunkering down to listening to her latest podcasts. They only last about 15 minutes each, and air three times a week.  They are designed to suit the busy lifestyle of a Mum, so they are short, but very sweet. My soul has been so blessed, as I have listened in.

What is ALSO very helpful, is that Heidi links to a whole load of useful resources, related to the topic of the podcasts, on her website. Look up the podcast you have listened to, and you'll see them listed.  Books, websites, and other fantastic resources, all in  one handy spot. 

You could treat yourself to 15 minutes of peace and quiet by sending your kiddies off to do something in another part of the house, whilst you listen.  You could pop your headphones in and listen whilst you do chores, or make dinner. (Just check the subject matter before putting it out there in a "listened to by all" mode...)

What I hear from Heidi's podcasts reminds me of the verse from Proverbs....

That word "pleasant" has this expansion in Strongs - 

From H5276; agreeableness, that is, delight, suitableness, splendor or grace: - beauty, pleasant (-ness).

You will find yourself agreeing with Heidi, being delighted in the content, find it all most suitable and  heard words filled with much grace.  Like honey, it will provide an injection of "sweetness" into your day, as you hear her speak.

I am sure you will be encouraged and blessed if you listen in.  

Please pray for Heidi as she seeks the Lord's leading on what to talk about, and let her know if there's something YOU would like to hear about! You could drop her a message on Facebook, share on her page, or get in touch on her website. She's open to suggestions, and loves to hear any ideas you may have.  

So, head on over to her website to learn how to listen in.

You'll love it, I'm sure! 


Monday, 15 June 2015

Praising God {tune my heart to sing Thy grace}

Do you love to sing in your home?

We are a family who sings together every chance we get! We sing in family worship. We sing at the end of the day. We sing in the car. We sing along to music playing in the home. We sometimes sing as we walk along. We have even had people sing in the bathroom!

We also have a piano in our home. I learnt to play the piano as a child,  but have woefully neglected it in more recent years. There is one fairly major reason. Our piano is old, and it doesn't sty in tune very well at all.  I think there's nothing worse than playing or listening to music that is out of tune. It just sounds wrong, and offends my ears! Of course, with a piano, if it IS in tune, you can make a pretty good attempt at a tuneful rendition. The notes may not always be "right", but it's in tune. The violin, on the other hand?!... I used to play the violin, including in the school orchestra. I have horrible memories of the Radetsky March sounding both slow and torturous, played by a bunch of amateurs. Not pleasant!

Yesterday, Robert quoted one of my favourite hymns in his sermon.

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,

Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.

That second line really stuck out to me. 

"Tune my heart to sing Thy grace"

God is worthy of our praise.  He deserves our praise.  And yet, so often our hearts are "out of tune", and we don't praise Him as we ought to.

So many things can make our hearts "un-tuneful". 

Sometimes it can be our circumstances, with very legitimate feelings of grief or depression, as we go through trials and struggles. Such feelings can really make our heart feel out of tune.

Many are things that we DO have control over. Discontent. Ungratefulness. Selfishness. Misery. Rebellion. Lack of love. 

Whatever the reason for our heart being out of tune, we need to come to the Lord, every day, and ask Him to "tune our heart" again, to sing His praise. Why? Because we MUST praise Him! The Bible tells us we ought to, and so we need to obey.

18 times, in the Psalms, we are instructed to "Praise Him". 33 times we read of those who "praise the Lord", or that WE should praise the Lord.  Then there are the verses that specifically instruct us to SING praise! It's not just something that you should do if you feel like it - SING His praise! It's a command!

Is your heart heavy today? Are you struggling with a heart that is not "in tune", to be able to sing praise to God?

Ask the Lord to get out His divine tuning fork, and get your heart into tune. Have you seen how a violinist tunes his instrument? The pegs need to be turned, to make the string the perfect tension.  Not too loose.  Not too tight. Then, finer tuning needs to be done, with tiny little screws, getting the perfect tuning.  In order for our hearts to be in tune, the Lord may have to "turn the screws" in our life. It may not be a painless experience, being brought back into that perfect relationship with God, that we ought to be in. But, it needs to be done in order that our hearts can sing His praise as we ought to. 

If we only stop and consider God's goodness and mercy, we will have every cause to sing His praise.  As the hymn says 

"Streams of mercy, never ceasing,

Call for songs of loudest praise."

His mercies stream forth, every day. As undeserving as we are, if we but stop and think about it, even in the midst of despair and trial, God's mercy in never ending, and we MUST praise Him.

It may just start in our hearts as a simple, yet meaningful "thank you, Lord - thank you for your grace and goodness". But, as a stream begins as  tiny trickle, in the mountain top, the more we praise, the stronger the current of our praise will become, until our hearts roar like the mighty torrents of the greatest river, praising God with our whole heart. A heart so full of praise for God, that everyone around us knows of our love and adoration for God. 

"I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works."
Psalm 9:1

"O to grace how great a debtor

Daily I'm constrained to be!"

Daily, we should seek to see how much in debt we are to God and His grace, and seek to sing His praise from high and low.

Ask the Lord, today, to get your heart in tune with His, and start singing His praises!

"Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; 
To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever. "
Psalm 30:11-12

Friday, 12 June 2015

The art of deceit {when mothers pretend}

How often have you told a lie, or at least a half truth?  Do you consider yourself as someone who is deceitful?

If you are a Mum, you have probably mastered the art of deceit, and I think it needs to end.  

Pressures of motherhood have become so immense, and  we feel that if anyone asks "How are you", we must say "Fine thanks".

When the reality is's so often not true.

Our mouths say "Fine", whilst our heart screams "I'M NOT FINE!"

We put on a smile, which masks what lies beneath, and the words come out.  The deceit of motherhood.

"I'm fine, thank you".

You've done it.

You've heard it.

But, what needs to end is not so much the words that come out of the mouths of weary mothers.


They need to not feel that those are the words they must utter at all.

The only way that will happen is if people stop judging, condemning and criticising, and instead start showing love, compassion, patience, kindness and support.

Us mothers say "I'm fine", because we fear the response that we will get if we are honest.

We come to expect condemnation from those who will assert that struggles equal failure.

We shy away from honesty because we come to expect the response of "Oh well, it's hard being a mother. Never mind, it will pass".

We dread the reaction of "Well, YOU chose to have all those children!", accompanied by a wry smile.

We get despondent at the lack of community and compassion from those who could help and support.

We get disheartened when we get looks from others if we admit the struggles we experience with our children.

What we need is people who are willing to come alongside mothers and support them.  Let them know it's OK to be honest.  Let them know that it's OK to need help.  Let them know that telling people how you feel is allowing them into your life to HELP, not hinder.

Countless mothers feel discouraged because others make them feel small for being honest. People make them feel like a failure for being human. And so they continue to practice the art of deceit.

Precious fellow mothers, it's OK to feel tired.  Being a mother IS tiring.

It's OK to admit that your children are sending you to your wits end. No child is perfect, and they all send us to distraction, regularly.

It's OK to not be caught up with all your housework.  It will still be there tomorrow, and before you know it the children will be grown.

If you know a mother, especially with young children, be a support to them.  Let them know it's okay to be honest.  It's okay to share how tired they are. It's okay to admit your struggles. Ask them how they are, and let them know you ARE interested, and you care. Don't even ask if you don't want to know, because there's nothing worse than the vacant look of someone who asks "How are you" as an empty platitude, or conversation filling "nothingness".  Listen. Give them a hug.  Speak words of peace and love to them. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

Maybe you are simply a mother yourself, who knows what it's like. Remember to come alongside new mothers and let them know. "Hey, you're not on your own. I know what it's like.  It will be ok".  Even is you are a busy mother yourself, and struggle to have time to give, just letting others know you understand may be the balm their soul needs.

Maybe you have time to spare? Perhaps you could do something to help someone in need? Do the ironing.  Babysit.  Run errands. Make meals. Find out what their needs are, and see what you can do.

Maybe your have time to support in other ways? Just sending a note, a text message, or an email, with encouraging scripture, may be what they needed RIGHT at that moment.  God has a way of doing great things through small means.

Above all else, remember that we are all part of the same family.  Families should show love in every part of their life, unconditionally. The same is true, even more so, for our spiritual family. The scriptures say that if one member is hurting, the others should feel it.

"...the members should have the same care one for another. 
And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it."
1 Corinthians 12:25-26  

And, we are told to have an honesty with each other.

"speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another."

Ephesians 4:25

Let's not be women who make mothers feel they have to say "I'm fine".  Let's be women who provide community, encouragement and support for other Mums, and let them be honest.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Trusting Jesus {that is all}

Yes.  A new blog post!

I AM here! I have just had a plethora of things to prevent me from getting a blog post written. Ill children.  Visitors.  Church events.  Oh, and a laptop that's really not very happy.

As I have said before, my family and other commitments always come first, and blogging slips down the list at times of busyness. That said, I miss sharing what's on my heart, and, of course, I am still to share about our UH-MAZ-ING trip to "The Continent"!

I am still quite busy, catching up from a crazy week just gone by, so the holiday post will have to wait.

Today's post is immensely relevant, however.  It sums up what I have been dealing with these last few weeks - in fact, what we ALL deal with EVERY day.

Let me wind back a little, to the day we got home from holiday.  It had been a tiring couple of days, and it was past 9pm on a Saturday evening. We pulled into the drive, to see this....

OK, so, not exactly. What we see was our rose bush completely fallen in front of our front door! This is actually Robert moving it, so we can get IN our front door! 

I love that rose bush, and I really hoped it wasn't damaged. Thankfully, although fallen over (we had terrible windy weather when we were gone - shame, we didn't have that in Italy.... *wink*), it wasn't damaged. The trellis was totally ruined, though. No trellis, no rose bush.

Regularly, I am very thankful for my wonderful husband.  He reassured me he could sort it out. He'd build a new trellis.

Well, one day I came into the garage to find a few long pieces of wood. Apparently, that was going to be a new trellis. For a start, I couldn't quite "get" how you could get a rose bush to weave itself into a new trellis, as they grow INTO one, usually. Secondly, I had no idea how one would even build such a thing. It seemed slightly complicated, and such a big jumbled mess of fallen over rose, and pieces of wood. To my brain, it just didn't seem doable.

I mentioned that I was thankful for Robert. I am thankful that he DOES know what he's doing. He tried to explain, and I just said "Listen, you know what you're doing, and I trust you to do it. I know you are very capable, and it will get sorted. I'll leave you to it.".

And, he did.  I won't go into the technical details, but he got my rose bush pinned back up into the wall, intertwined into a very strong trellis that won't go anywhere in a hurry!

The whole situation reminded me of my life. So often, I have things that "fall apart", or situations that are out of my control. I don't understand God's hand in it all, neither do I understand how He will work it all out. This I DO know - God is in control. God has a plan, and I don't need to understand.  I simply need to trust. I can ask for answers, but I may not always get them. My job is to trust the God who framed the earth, who created all things, whose power sustains His creation, and whose plans are perfect and past finding out. 

There are so many verses in God's Word that teach us about trust. Overarching so many of those, is the concept of protection. Our trust in the Lord will protect us from harm. Does that mean we don't have struggles and trials? Of course not! It means we will feel safe and secure in the MIDST of those trials and struggles.  

So, what IS this trust we can have? God's Word spells it out clearly.

Trusting God is safety -   "And he said, The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; 
The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence."
2Samuel 22:2-3  

I don't think you can be more specific than THAT! We can trust God to be our rock of sure foundation, our rock. He is our fortress, a secure defence from the attacks of evil. HE is our deliverer, from the trials we face. He is  our shield, to defend us against the fiery darts of the wicked one.  He is our tower, that we can flee to from attack.  He is our refuge - we can run to Him and be safe. He is our SAVIOUR! WE can trust Him, above and before all else, for our sure salvation! WE can trust Him to fully, completely, and never-failingly to save us from eternal judgement. 

Trusting God is security - "How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings."
Psalm 36:7  

This may seem like safety, but, for me, this adds an even greater degree of trust. We may know we are safe from harm, but do we feel a SECURITY? A peace and rest in the knowledge of that safety? A CALM within the storm? That's what trusting God brings. Like a mother hen tucking her chicks in the safety of her wings, close to her side, so we know that we can trust God to keep us secure in His perfect plan and protection. 

Trusting God is confidence - "Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass."
Psalm 37:5  

What basis do we have for trusting God? Well, we trust that what He has promised will be fulfilled. We trust His Word.  If we are fully trusting God, and place our confidence in Him - if our ways are committed to Him, He will bring His promises to pass.  If He has promised something to you, in His Word, as one of His dear children, He CAN be trusted to fulfil it

Trusting God is extreme -  "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him:"
 Job 13:15

Job is the perfect example of "extreme trust".  Job was allowed to go through the most awful trials. You can hardly imagine the torment of mind, body and soul that he endured. And yet, he trusted God COMPLETELY. He said even if he was to die, he still trusted God, and what He was allowing Him to go through. Our struggles may be extreme, but our trust must remain.

Trusting God is guidance- "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."
Proverbs 3:5-6

This verse is so often read, and heard, we can easily lose its significance. First, we need whole hearted trust. We can't be half hearted, or even just a sliver of our heart. We need to fully trust Him, with every fibre of our being. Then, we need to not incline our hearts to our own wisdom and understanding. In everything we do, and in all the decisions we make, we need to acknowledge the Lord and His Word as our God, our leader, our authority. THEN....then, he will direct our paths. That whole-hearted trust will be the guide and direction we need for every step of the way. 

Trusting God is joy - "But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them:"
Psalm 5:11  

I love this one. LOVE. IT.

If we are trusting God, as we should, we need to have joy.  Not just have it, but SHOUT for joy! Why?  Because our trust is our defence. We are safe, secure and at rest in God, and all who He is, when we are trusting in Him.  How can we NOT rejoice?! We need to let the whole world know that NO MATTER WHAT life throws at us, we are trusting, and we have joy. Our heart should be so full of love and appreciation for everything God is to us, that we should rejoice.  Knowing that we can trust Him through all circumstances, no matter how trying, should be reason to shout for joy! 

Trusting God is blessing -  "Blessed are all they that put their trust in him." 
Psalm 2:12

It seems so short, simple and basic. Yet, there is so much richness bound up in this statement. If you begin to ponder the blessing we receive from God's hands, from simply trusting Him, the words become so full!  All these things that are a result of our trust, are blessings in and of themselves.  Strength, security, peace, joy, direction, guidance, and confidence. Blessing upon blessing. But, think!  think upon all the blessings that we experience because we trust God. There are so many.  The fulfilment of each promise is a direct result of trusting Him to be faithful and true. We may not deserve it, and we may not trust Him as we should, but His generous nature lavishes us time after time.

Today.  This week.  This year.  Whatever your circumstances are, and even if you can't understand why you are going through them, or how God will work them out, you CAN trust Him.  Not only can you trust God, but He will bless you abundantly when you do, time and time again.

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.

Edgar P. Stites

(as a side note, the fortress in the picture was from my travels in Italy! - a taster of what's to come...)