Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Praising my Saviour {all the day long}

I know that after a weekend, the devil will often try and get in and discourage us. Your days may be a challenge. Life may seem mundane. Trials and temptations to doubt God's never-failing goodness may come in like a flood.

Notoriously, Mondays are just not seen as a great day. (I even started this on Monday and am only finishing it today!)

But, as I opened God's word, to the Psalm that I was to read, before I had even hit the new working week,  I was given a reminder to boost me on my way. The challenge to cultivate gratitude has been a wonderful way to keep my eyes lifted to praise, and this Psalm reinforced that.

My eye particularly caught a phrase that was repeated several times. I read it, and my heart filled with song!

"Let my mouth be filled with thy praise and with thy honour 
all the day"

"My mouth shall shew forth thy righteousness and thy salvation 
all the day"

"My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing unto thee; and my soul, which thou hast redeemed. 
My tongue also shall talk of thy righteousness 
all the day long: "

What a challenge to read that the Psalmist spoke and praised aloud what great things God was and had done, ALL THE DAY LONG.

He didn't say,

"I'm not much of a morning person, so don't expect me to be filled with much praise first thing in the day"

Nor did he say,

"I can only praise God and acknowledge his goodness when things are going well" (In fact, the Psalm refers to things not going particularly well AT ALL!)

He didn't even say,

"Well, I'm feeling a bit down, so I will praise Him when I feel better".

He didn't utter the words,

"I'm just plain tired by the evening, so you won't find me in the mood to give thanks and praise in the evenings. Life is hard."



It's not an option. We need to take matters that arise into our own hands, and conscientiously praise.

Sometimes it's hard. Sometimes we need to flip our thoughts around. Sometimes we fail.

But, praise, we must!

With so much to thank God for - with our salvation - Jesus is MINE - with blessing upon blessing - with so much that God preserves us from BECAUSE we seem to have hard times - praise, all the day.

The hymn that sprang into my head, of course, was "Blessed Assurance".

IN the last verse are these words

"Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Savour am happy and blest;"

Isn't this what it all hinges upon. We are in our Saviour - one with the Lord, through Jesus Christ, and so we are happy and blessed abundantly. THIS is our son of praise. THIS is why we sing "all the day long".

"This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Saviour all the day long"

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

SATs {spiritual assessment test}

I was chatting with a friend last week about how we home educate our children. We were bemoaning the numerous tests that seem to be required in mainstream education. It seems that from a younger and younger age there is immense pressure to meet certain standards to be classified as "the norm", get onto the next level of learning, get into the "best" school, or certainly to be "not a failure". I've know of mums to have children come home from school in tears because they haven't done as well as they perceive they need to.

I'm not for having tests at every turn. It can put far to much pressure on a child, needlessly. However, tests can be a useful tool for a parent/teacher, just to identify areas that need more work, in order to HELP a child. If you don't know where they are struggling - if THEY don't know where they need to improve - then they won't make such effective progress,

Our conversation turned towards ourselves as parents. We were bemoaning our weaknesses - realising that many of our struggles in raising our children stem from the fact that we, ourselves, are far from perfect. I know, for example, that I have a tendency to be irritable when I am tired. I snap at the children. I don't use gentle words. I answer them too hastily, before thinking about a reply. I overuse sarcasm. I sigh and shout too much. Tiredness is, for sure, one of my worst enemies.

An interesting observation was then made by my friend and I.

Schools have SATs - we also have SATs.

Spiritually, WE are tested! We have "spiritual assessment tests". It should come as no surprise, because we are told to EXPECT times of testing and trial.

"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:"
I Peter 4:12

God looks on us and says "You need to get the opportunity to put into practice what you KNOW you need to work on".

You too?

If you are a Christian, seeking to walk the Christian pathway, you WILL be tested.

I'm going through that kind of time right now.

I am EXHAUSTED. I have a baby cutting 5 teeth at once, who wakens every two hours through the night. Paired with the fact that he is also pretty high maintenance in the daytime, I am beat.

THAT is giving me plenty of opportunity to have my patience put to the test.

When those impatient words come bubbling up, I need to choose to breathe before I speak.

When I am tempted to be irritable instead of gentle, I need to pause and give a kind answer.

"Testing" is pretty much like "trials". We refer to going through "trials", but what does that MEAN?

I was pondering what we mean by trials in a non-spiritual realm.

Maybe someone gets a new job and they will be taken on "on a trial basis". That means that the employer will get to see them at work and then decide if they will keep them on in the job. They are being tested to see if they are "up to the job".

Then there is someone being "put on trial" in a court of law. That refers to evidence being brought to decide on someone's guilt or innocence. Is there adequate proof that they are guilty or innocent?

I often think more of trials being "hard" times, but, really, spiritually they can be just like those other two examples.

The Lord allows us to go through certain circumstances to see if we are living up to the standards He expects of us. Are we "doing the job" of living the Christian life how He desires us to? According to His standards, laid out in His Word?

In another sense, we are "on trial". If others around us look on at our life, weighing up our actions to what they expect of a Christian - do we prove ourselves to be what we claim to be, or are we guilty of walking in ways that are not pleasing to God. Others are ALWAYS watching...

THESE are the kind of trials we often walk through. Proving ourselves to be who we ought to be, whilst facing challenges that test us.

We all have different areas that need to be tested - each trial individual to each person. What is a trial to me, may not be a trial to you. God tests us all according to the life He has given us.

But, do you know the most blessed part of it all?

I frequently have a maths-hating daughter bemoaning why she has to do certain areas of working WITHOUT a calculator. (I totally get her questioning, but that's irrelevant...) She has the trial of doing maths, and doesn't even have anything to make it easier.

When we go through trials and testing, we have the LORD with us. He is there like a mentor, or a defence lawyer - walking beside us each step of the way; defending us and upholding us through the trial.

We have the support of His Word, the guidance of His truth, the presence of His spirit. He loves us, cherishes us, shows us mercy and grace, and abundant kindness. There is simply no better helper that we could wish for.

Every promise of God's Word is ours to claim as we go through these times of testing.

Better still, we can fall down on our knees, like Job, and WORSHIP Him in the trial. Put the crown firmly on the head of the King who is wise and knows best, and praise Him in the storm. Thank Him, and find joy in the hard, because we CAN give thanks in all circumstances - even the trying ones.

So, as I continue to walk through my month of gratitude, I thank God for my trials. Even though I am physically exhausted, I am spiritually rejoicing. I have this wonderful opportunity to demonstrate to my children that I can be joyful and full or praise, even when I am tired and the baby is grumpy. I'm not entirely sure that I am anywhere near being an A star student, but I am getting through, learning and leaning - all with the assurance that I will "some forth as gold". One day, I will be a "gold star" student, when I am made perfect in my Saviour and am fully glorified in heaven. What a day THAT will be, when my "school days" are over, and my labours and trials are over. Haste the day!


The winner of the journal was entry "53" - Jodie Wilt!
The winner of the book was entry "56" - Lynn Pascoe!

Congratulations, ladies, and I will get those to you once I have your mailing addresses - look out for an email from me.

For the rest of you, I HIGHLY recommend the book, if you can buy yourself a copy. I am finding it to be challenging, as well as a great blessing. You can get it on Amazon, in a variety of formats.

(this post contains affiliate links)

Monday, 3 October 2016

CULTIVATING gratitude {how do I grow a grateful heart?}

I thought it would be a good idea to share with you some of my journey to "Cultivate gratitude" as I go through this month - just to share what the Lord is showing ME.

I think it's a wonderful thing that although we can all read the same portion of scripture, the same book, or hear the same sermon,God applies it to each one of us as He sees we need it.

As a parent, I would guess, like me, you seek to nurture your children as individuals? You can see that they each have their own God-given personalities. Equally, they have their own traits and qualities that require training and discipline to help weed out. It's a joy to see the little people (or big ones!) that they are. It's a heartache, often, to have to deal with the not-so-pleasant aspects of disobedience, attitude or other aspects of their sinful nature.

It's no different for our Heavenly Father. Well, it is. He is infinitely more patient, kind, and good than I can ever be as a parent. Yet, His desire is still to treat us as individuals that He created us to be. Each having our own struggles that the Lord has to guide us through, and our own sinful desires that He has to point out to us.

When we spend time getting to know our Heavenly Father, by reading what He wants us to know, we will each see how we need to be moulded and shaped to be more like our Saviour.

One of the first lessons that the Lord has laid on my heart is in the title of the challenge.

CULTIVATING gratitude.

As you may know, if you have been reading my blog for a while, I love learning lessons from my garden. It struck me, today, that "cultivating" is something that I haven't been doing in my garden so much this year.

"to promote or improve the growth of (a plant, crop, etc.) 
by labour and attention."

I simply haven't spent as much labour and attention on my garden this year and as a result there are parts that look neglected. It's evident, to even the untrained eye, that my garden could look better. There are weeds. There are pieces of edging that aren't where they should be. The mint has overrun a border. There are plants that need to be cut back and tidied up. 

Some signs of sporadic effort are evident. A few shrubs that have been cut back, on a whim, when I was fed up with lack of sunlight to a border one day. As a result, that border is doing much better. There are some pretty, newly-planted cyclamen, brightening a previously dull border and adding colour to the plants dying back in the chill of autumn. When work IS done it is equally evident.

It struck me that my life is the same. If I CULTIVATE gratitude - if I put in work and pay attention to living it out  - then others will see it. We're not doing it to receive praise, or accolade - no, quite the contrary. We should desire to be grateful, first and foremost, to give glory to GOD! As was the consideration in yesterday's devotional from "Choosing Gratitude", our praise and worship - our THANKFULNESS - should ultimately be towards our God and Saviour. He has done SO much for us, that we cannot be anything BUT grateful. Every. Single. Day. But, as a RESULT of our praise and thanks to God, others should see our lives to be one that is filled with gratitude. One that is quick to see the ways in which we can choose joy over negativity. A heart filled with thanks, despite our trying circumstances. But ONLY if we cultivate it.

We need to pull up the weeds of discontent and plant the beautiful flowers of thankfulness. We need to cut back the deadness of  grumbling and complaint so that the blooms of gratitude are seen instead. 

Gratitude is not our default attitude. It's far easier to fall into negativity and complaint than it is to be grateful, if it's not something we are used to doing. It only becomes our "default" if we work at it. 

My all-time favourite example of cultivating an attitude of gratitude, is from "The Hiding Place", by Corrie Ten Boom. I don't know if you are familiar with her life-story, but Corrie, and her sister Betsie, were imprisoned during WWII for helping the Jews. During their incarceration, they come to one barracks that is completely flea-ridden. As challenging as the whole experience had already been, this about sent Corrie to insanity. HOW could they get through such a trial??

Betsie discovered what they needed.

"'"Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus." That's it, Corrie! That's His answer. "Give thanks in all circumstances!" That's what we can do. We can start right now to thank God for every single thing about this new barracks!'

"I stared at her; then around me at the dark, foul-aired room…"

They thought hard, then they came up with things for which they could be thankful. They were together. They  had a Bible. They even managed to give thanks for the heaving crowds of prisoners, because they could share the gospel with them. But then, Betsie thanked God for the fleas.

"The fleas! This was too much. 'Betsie, there's no way even God can make me grateful for a flea.'

"'"Give thanks in all circumstances,"' she quoted. 'It doesn't say, "in pleasant circumstances."  Fleas are part of this place where God has put us.'

"And so we stood between tiers of bunks and gave thanks for fleas. But this time I was sure Betsie was wrong."

FLEAS, guys. They thanked God for FLEAS! 

But, do you know what? BECAUSE of the fleas, the guards NEVER came in those barracks! They had free reign to read their Bible and to share God's Word with their fellow prisoners! Those fleas gave them opportunity to extend God's love to those who were equally suffering around them.

THAT, my friends, is the kind of hard, messy gratitude that I want to cultivate in my own heart and that can be seen in my life. I want others to be blessed by my ability to say "thank you, Lord", in ALL situations. No matter how easy it would be to say "WHY, Lord?"

I have bulbs that I spotted on a good deal in Costco. The images on the packet were those of great beauty! I LOVE anemones, and I can't wait to see them next spring. 

At least, once I have actually PLANTED them, I hope to see them flowering. 

Yup, they are SITTING IN MY SHED. Until I plant them in the prepared soil - until I put them in the ground, where they will draw up water and nutrients from the soil, and GROW - I won't see any beautiful flowers at all. 

That's us. We need to actually plant the seed of gratitude in our hearts. We need to put into action the way we need to live, in order to be the fruitful Christian that God desires of us.

In the letter to the Colossians, in chapter 3, Paul reminds the believers of a frtuiful life that God desires of them. He lists the attributes that we should "put on".

Mercy.  Kindness. Humility.  Meekness. Longsuffering. 
Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another. Love. Peace. 

The list ends like this...

"and be ye thankful."

To crown off all the other things we should be, we ought to be THANKFUL. 

That's what God wants from us. Gratitude. Thankfulness for the life that HE has made new, and transformed to the image of His Son. 

As we carry on through the month of October, let's CULTIVATE gratitude in our hearts and lives and live a life that wee seek to intentionally "be thankful".

*** Don't forget about the give-away, which ends at midnight GMT, TONIGHT!  Head over to this post to enter! 

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Choosing Gratitude {and a GIVEAWAY}

It's been a busy day here, but I want to quickly share about something that you may wish to hop on board with.

I have been reading through the Psalms, along with the lovely Candace Crabtree,  from His Mercy is New. We read a Psalm a day and find ways we can pray those words for ourselves. It's a wonderful exercise in making God's Word our own, and making it applicable to the situation we are in right now. The relevancy of so many of the Psalms is staggering!  It's been such a blessing to go through the Psalms in this way, and find the truths that are contained in them.

Well, Candace is starting a 30 days of Gratitude challenge. She will be posting videos on her FB page and sharing about it on her IG account +Candace Crabtree  It's all about cultivating an attitude of thankfulness and gratitude -  and which one of us doesn't need that in our lives? We don't just need it in an accidental sort of way, we need to be intentional about CHOOSING to be grateful, no matter our circumstances.

Candace will be using Nancy Leigh DeMoss's book, "Choosing Gratitude". It's not essential to have it, but I am sure it will be a book that you will be glad you purchased. It's available in print and on Kindle, as well as an Audiobook! There are other books she will be referring to, but she shares about them on her videos. Hop over to her post today for more information.

I have some new journals all ready to start recording the things I am grateful for.  I plan to also use Ann Voskamp's "Joy Dare" resources to journal my gratitude journey. She has OODLES of beautiful printables, which you can have free access to by subscribing. (Details on the post here) I've always intended to take part in her "Joy Dare", so this seems like the perfect time to jump in. She gives three prompts for each day, to help you think of things to give thanks for. Some will come to mind quickly, others may require some thought, but all will result in gratitude.

We all have SO much to be thankful for. SO much. As we have been learning about so many countries around the world where they face persecution, poverty and illness on a regular basis, I have reminded the children JUST how blessed we are, and we take it for granted.

Also, I am going to be starting back with Heidi St John's scripture writing challenge. She shares a few verses every day for you to read, meditate upon, then write out. The act of writing something out will aid you in remembering it, and we can all benefit from having scripture engraved on our hearts in any way we can. You can find out more about that on Heidi's IG account, her FB page, or on her website.

Whatever you do, make sure you try and get into God's Word when you can!

I can't wait to get started on my "Choosing Gratitude", and also hope to have my 13 year old daughter, Beth, joining me on this journey. I may get her to do a guest post on the way through, to share about what she is learning.

I will share what I have been journaling, as I go along - on IG, FB and on here. I can tell this is going to be just wonderful, and my heart if filled with joy just thinking about it.

We have our Harvest Supper at Church tonight, so I hope to spend some time this evening on these challenges. I can't wait!


To kick start this season of gratitude, what better way than to give someone another reason to BE grateful?? I haven't had a give-away for ages, so I would love to share some joy with others!

I am going to give-away a couple of things! There are two items, and you can enter to win either of them.

Firstly, I have a large Moleskine Journal that I have hand lettered and painted. These journals are ruled, with 80 pages (16 detachable), so just a nice size for a month of journaling gratitude. I have hand lettered it with silver sharpie, and used shimmering paints for the flowers. It's really pretty, and it was going to be for myself, but I thought it would be much nicer to give it away (and fits right in with studying the trait of "generosity" with my children this week). I can always decorate another for myself, which would be such a chore... aherm.

 I am also going to give away a copy of the book that we are using during the challenge - Choosing Gratitude, by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

You can enter to win either of these below. This is open to anyone, as I am happy to send the journal abroad. I'm all for sharing the love as far and wide as need be.

The give-away is only until Monday evening, so if this is a book you would like to have to join in with the challenge, you can get it as soon as possible! So, you have until midnight GMT on the third of October to enter (remember that is FIVE hours ahead of EST, and 8 ahead of Pacific). Share, share, share so people know, and maybe you will be the winner!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Out with the old, in with the (sort of) new {making changes in school}

A couple of weeks ago I had a rough few days.

Not that having rough days is anything spectacularly strange. Regular, more like.

I had a virus going through the house, with children dropping like flies, succumbing to a cough and a raised temperature. Wouldn't you know, but it hit the first "proper" week back to school (because every home school has a kind of "breaking it in gently" week first, right?... ).

The devil always seems to want to get in and pull me down whenever we come back from a break. I was armed and ready. I was expecting it. But, alas, my sleep deprived self didn't handle the attack very well.

I was feeling downright discouraged, and I had a morning filled with child "Ping pong" where I was going between one child and the next, trying to resolve issues in various subjects.

I wasn't quite ready to throw in the towel, but I was thinking "I can NOT go on like this - it will run me ragged".

So, I did what every self respecting homeschooling Mum does - I turned to valued friends and asked for help! I think, if nothing else, home educating teaches the parents a healthy dose of humility. Quite frankly, there's nothing so good as demonstrating that you do NOT have it all together, than to try teaching your children at home. It's less the content, and more the logistics. ESPECIALLY when you are a mum of many. Trust me. It's a leveller. Other parents are always willing to lend an ear, and give encouragement where they can. It's part of the job description. "Help and support your fellow mothers in the trenches". (Check the small print, if you didn't already realise....it's there, honest)

One of the things I was struggling with was grammar. Maths, they need to work at their own level. You can't do it any other way. Well, I certainly can't seem to. But, grammar. Could I be doing something different?

I loved the content of what we were doing, but with one child a slow reader, and needing me to read it ALL to them, and others just feeling it was hard work, I wondered if we could change it up.

To my surprise, one VERY experienced home ed Mum, who also teaches writing as a subject, said "You know you don't NEED to do grammar with younger children, right?" (Or words to that effect...)



I thought she had maybe lost the plot, but I remembered "in the multitude of counsellors there is wisdom".  Wisdom. That's the application of knowledge. Her knowledge of the subject said, no, you don't need to. And, I thought it sounded wise. And I needed to apply her knowledge. Wise.

However, I wasn't quite ready to take a complete leap in that direction. *hides*  I thought, rather, that we could go down the "one room schoolhouse route". Pitch lessons at a level they could all "get" and keep it simple.

I remembered that I had previously used a book called "Fix It! grammar", written by the wonderful Andrew Pudewa, and produced by the Institute of Excellence in Writing. (Having just checked out the link, I have an older version of this, but the same principles apply). The principle is simple. It works through classic literature texts, taking sentences, throwing in errors, and getting you to fix them. It's designed to be used by individual children, with them correcting it themselves, and rewriting it with the errors fixed. You also identify certain grammatical points, such as the subject and the verb in each sentence.

I figured it was something I could do with the children TOGETHER. I could write it on the white board, and they could "fix it".

All well and good if you can FIND the Teacher's Manual you need.


Searched high and low, I did.

Until I found it in a box, with all my other English materials, all just nicely collated together. Too organised for my own good, me.

*insert huge eye roll*

I also remembered a lovely book called "Daily Grams". This has a few short exercises for each day, again, perfect for the white board. It goes through all the grammar concepts, and gets the children to do simple exercises in identifying errors, or finding concepts in a sentence. It doesn't take long, but covers a great range of basic concepts.

Once I had it all found, I was ready to start.

And, wonder of WONDERS, the children are LOV-ING it!!!

They ask me EVERY DAY - "are we doing grammar yet?"

*jaw drop*

All three - 8, 9 and 11 - think it's SO MUCH FUN!  Yes, you heard right - FUN!

Do these children look miserable to you? No. They do not. No payment involved. No coercing. Just genuine straight up and down delight. 

We even stepped it up a notch today, and I got adventurous.

I ADDED some extra things into the lesson! 


 I know. CRA-ZEEEE.

We fixed our sentence, and then we found ways we could have written the sentence with more detail.

We had been learning about "-ly" adverbs, so we threw in a couple of those. Then we conjured up some fun adjectives to boot. 

Another thing we have been doing is listening out for grammar we have been learning about, whilst having our read aloud sessions. 

And can I tell you, C S Lewis uses a LOT of -ly adverbs. 

I regularly have children shouting them out, during my reading of "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe", much to the annoyance of their eldest sibling. 

"Enough with the adverbs, guys...."

I think they've "got" that part of speech....

This is a sample page of the "Daily Grams", As you can see, there is not a lot, but it covers quite a range of topics in one short lesson.

One of my favourite parts of it all?

No paper. Not exercise books. Nada. Just me an' my white board.


Another joy is that it requires no writing from the children. It is absolutely possible to learn a LOT without having to produce screeds of writing. I would rather get them to write when they REALLY have to, and produce something wonderful, than have them write in EVERY SINGLE SUBJECT until they are sick of school. ESPECIALLY boys, in my experience, limited as it may be. Being able to identify grammar concepts requires eyes and a mouth, but not necessarily a pen and paper. I lie not! Save your battles for the really big things. This isn't one of them, in my opinion. 

(Just to add, lest you think me completely negligent, my friend said that when they hit High School, they will turn the grammar thing up a notch, and still grasp it wonderfully.)

All my changes were confirmed to me when I then read a SUPER article put together by Sarah McKenzie, from "The Read aloud Revival".  She wrote it in 2009, and it is an overview of Ruth Beechick's teaching ideas. Ruth Beechick is a super experienced and respected veteran home educator. She has done extensive research and is someone I respect. I haven't read all her books, but what I have read I have loved. 

If you don't read anything else for your homsechool year, read this. You can find it here. It made my heart LEAP! It confirmed what my wonderful fellow home ed Mums had suggested to me. It was a real word in season, and confirmation that my changes I was making were not as "way out" as I may have first thought! 

I will share more about Sarah's own book very soon. It's another "Must read".

How about you? Are you struggling through the mire of frustration because something you have always done isn't working any more? 

BE BRAVE! "New" is sometimes EXACTLY what you need. Maybe not even new curriculum, but a new way of doing it. I am using things I already HAD, but weren't what "fit" our way of doing things more recently. Now, they are just perfect.  Don't be afraid of change. It could be just what you need to reignite the fire of enthusiasm that you have lost in your homeschooling life. 

The same could be said about ANY part of your life. Routines and schedules come and go, and we need to be willing to bend and change according to the season we are in. It's ok to say "let's switch things around, and change things up". REALLY fine. "Not working" doesn't mean failure. It just means that you need to look at things a bit differently and try again. 

Change can be one of THE most freeing things you can do. Saying "no" to one way, and "hello" to another, can turn your frown upside down. 


Monday, 26 September 2016

When we only see our failings {He makes all things new}

As I sit at my laptop, after a another ridiculously long break from blogging, the words of one of my favourite characters in literature come jumping into my head.  Once again, as I try to shake off the guilt of not doing things as I would like to, these words leap out.

"Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?"
Anne of Green Gables

I think it's fair to say that every mother has come to the end of a day and had that thought. Our days don't always go swimmingly. Anyone who suggests that staying at home to raise her children is the "easy option" has never done it. 

Days are HARD. We faces so many challenges and struggles on our journey. We have abundant blessings, but with blessings come hard times, too. 

I often feel I have failed, or at the very least I've not done a great job. It's a fairly frequent feeling, to be completely honest. 

But, then. 

Then, I am faced with a truth that my Dad reminded me of yesterday. The truth of the "new". 

We read in the Book of the Revelation

"Behold, I make all things new"

As much as this verse may well be singularly talking of the "new" of heaven, undoubtedly our life here on earth - our spiritual life - is all about the "new", too.

Our old life - our old "man" - was that of sinfulness, mistakes and erring. Following after our own ways, and stumbling along in darkness. 

When we found life in Christ, it was a NEW life! Old things were passed away and all things were new.  We had a joy, a delight, a pleasure in knowing that we had something new, and wonderful.

It's so easy to lose sight of that, though, isn't it?

We are still battling the old man - the flesh - and that's WHY our days often end with the "boy, I didn't do so well" mentality.  

Christ, however, is the author of the "all things new". That same joy we had when "first I saw the Lord", can be ours EVERY DAY.


Well, because when we run to Christ, confessing our sins, failings and struggles, His mercies come to us NEW. We come to Him, asking for a clean heart, and a right spirit to be given new to us, for a new day. We come, waiting upon Him, to have our strength given to us, new for the challenges of another day. 

Precious mother - don't look on those things you struggled with yesterday, or last week, or last month - or even just 5 minutes ago! Turn your eyes upwards, and look to the one who can give you that newness to face another day. He has promised us so many mercies to help us on our way - His love, His kindness, His strength, His peace, His faithfulness - so that this day can be conquered.

And yes, even if we feel we've messed up again, another day brings new mercies again. 

Our spirit must be that of humility, grace and determination, in order to fight on and win the victory against the things with which we struggle. 

We don't need to wait for heaven to have "all things new". It doesn't even need to be a new morning. We can breathe in that spiritual breath of life, and be renewed when we come to God in prayer, seeking His strength and mercy. "Forgetting those things that are behind", we can press on. 

Will you join me in looking to a life of a renewed spirit, and remembering that God's mercies are new every morning? 

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Ascribe Greatness {Week 2 - lettering challenge}

Well, I have reached the second week. I have a little catching up to do, but as no-one has joined in with the challenge, I don't feel so bad! LOL

I am certainly enjoying dwelling upon the words of the hymns as I do my own lettering. There is so much doctrine and blessing in the words.

So, here are this week's prompts.

Day 8 - Immortal honours

1. Immortal honours rest on Jesus’ head;
My God, my portion, and my living bread;
In Him I live, upon Him cast my care;
He saves from death, destruction, and despair.
2. He is my refuge in each deep distress;
The Lord my strength and glorious righteousness;
Through floods and flames He leads me safely on,
And daily makes His sovereign goodness known.
3. My every need He richly will supply;
Nor will His mercy ever let me die;
In Him there dwells a treasure all divine,
And matchless grace has made that treasure mine.
4. O that my soul could love and praise Him more,
His beauties trace, His majesty adore;
Live near His heart, upon His bosom lean;
Obey His voice, and all His will esteem.
William Gadsby 1773-1844

Day 9 - How Deep the Father's Love

This is a modern hymn, so you need to go directly to Stuart Townend's site to find them, here. 

Day 10 - Before the Throne of God Above

1 Before the throne of God above
I have a strong, a perfect plea;
a great High Priest, whose name is Love,
who ever lives and pleads for me.
2 My name is graven on his hands,
my name is written on his heart;
I know that while in heaven he stands
no tongue can bid me thence depart.
3 When Satan tempts me to despair
and tells me of the guilt within,
upward I look, and see him there
who made an end of all my sin.
4 Because the sinless Savior died,
my sinful soul is counted free;
for God the Just is satisfied
to look on him and pardon me.
5 Behold him there! the risen Lamb,
my perfect, spotless righteousness;
the great unchangeable "I AM,"
the King of glory and of grace!
6 One with himself, I cannot die,
my soul is purchased by his blood;
my life is hid with Christ on high,
with Christ my Savior and my God.
Charitie Lees Bancroft
Day 11 -  I Will Stand on Every Promise of His Word
Another modern one, by Stuart Townend. Find it here.  
Day 12 - O Thou by Whom we Come to God
    O Thou by whom we come to God,
    The life, the truth, the way,
    The path of prayer Thyself hast trod:
Lord, teach us how to pray.
Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire,
Unuttered or expressed;
The motion of a hidden fire
That trembles in the breast.
Prayer is the burden of a sigh,
The falling of a tear
The upward glancing of an eye,
When none but God is near.
Prayer is the simplest form of speech
That infant lips can try;
Prayer, the sublimest strains
That reach the Majesty on high.
Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath,
The Christian’s native air,
His watchword at the gates of death;
He enters Heav’n with prayer.
Prayer is the contrite sinner’s voice,
Returning from his ways,
While angels in their songs rejoice
And cry, Behold, he prays!
The saints in prayer appear as one
In word, in deed, and mind,
While with the Father and the Son
Sweet fellowship they find.
No prayer is made by man alone
The Holy Spirit pleads,
And Jesus, on th’eternal throne,
For sinners intercedes.
James Montgomery 1771-1854

Day 13 - Take My Life and Let it Be
1 Take my life and let it be
consecrated, Lord, to thee.
Take my moments and my days;
let them flow in endless praise.
2 Take my hands and let them move
at the impulse of thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
swift and beautiful for thee.
3 Take my voice and let me sing
always, only, for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
filled with messages from thee.
4 Take my silver and my gold;
not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use
every power as thou shalt choose.
5 Take my will and make it thine;
it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart it is thine own;
it shall be thy royal throne.
6 Take my love; my Lord, I pour
at thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself, and I will be
ever, only, all for thee. 
Frances Ridley Havergal 1836-1879

Day 14 - Blessed Assurance

1 Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine;
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood. 

This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.

2 Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

3 Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest;
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

Fanny Crosby 1820-1915

I'd really love it if others join in, sharing these words with others in this lettering challenge. 

Saturday, 6 August 2016

"Bible" isn't just a subject {how we start our school day}

I've been meaning to share with you, for a while, about our new morning routine, during school time.

I can't remember exactly where I was challenged about our mornings. It may have been a podcast, or a book I was reading, or a Facebook post from someone.

That part doesn't matter.

What I WAS convicted about was that our schooling was working around me desperately trying to get the children to complete X, Y and Z. It was always a rush to DO. Any Bible learning we did was just part of any Bible centred curriculum we are using (and I try to use plenty with a Bible-centred emphasis). I became convicted about my priorities. Instead of rushing to do "learning", I needed to start off the day with what was most important. God, His Word, His people. If we didn't do ANYTHING else then so long as we had spent time learning about God, His Word, and His ways, then we had learned something FAR more important than any intellectual gain.

I decided we would jump back in with Sally and Clay Clarkson's "Our 24 Family Ways".  It's a great book guide that uses 24 "ways", that the Clarksons used in their own family, as the backbone. They are all based on scriptural principles, and each day has scripture that ties in with the character trait being taught. We have used it before, but it had been a while. I saw some character traits in my children that needed some training, so it was perfect to go through again.

I also decided to use "The Gospel Story Bible" every morning. This book takes all the major Biblical events and ties the gospel into each one, teaching children to see everything as working towards the Saviour coming, and the great plan of salvation. It's wonderful to see it all woven together and a simple read aloud for children.

Recently, I was talking to some homeschool friends about geography, and what curriculum they used. They told me about using "Operation World" prayer guide as a backbone to learn about countries and cultures around the world. I had NO idea what Operation World WAS! It turns out that it is a FANTASTIC resource. (As a side note, this is a "Must have" for any Church! It is packed full of helpful information that could be used in multiple settings as  Church - prayer meetings, children's ministry, youth work, outreach - it's simply super!!!) It goes through all the countries in the world, outlining some basic general information, and then praise and prayer points for that country. Some countries have fairly extensive information, which we have picked through. It's a massive tome, but an incredible resource. We also got the book "Windows on the World" which goes through many people groups, specifically from a child's perspective, and again highlights areas for prayer. It isn't as extensive as the Prayer Handbook for OW, but it's more child directed and visual. Operation World also has a fantastic website, also including prayer videos for many of the countries in the world.

What we will also be adding, in September, are the scripture memory verses from "Matters of the Heart". I think that Scripture Memorisation is something that I have not been intentional enough about with my children. They learn their memory verse for Friday Club, but I don't even put as much effort into THAT as I ought to.  *blush* As I plan to learn these verses myself, it seems sensible to do it as a family.  I  have now printed out the printable verses, which we will then learn together daily, with a new verse each week.

Don't forget that for this week only, all the Matters of the Heart product are on special offer, for the launch! (Click on the visual below to go to the online shop.)

scripture memorization

And, I have also found out that if you order the book this week, you get ALL the products below for FREE! Yes, for FREE!!! There are some really helpful resources in there. 

31 Days to a Better Marriage eBook by Carlie Kercheval of Fulfilling Your Vows
12 Printable Pocket Bible Verses for Women from Today's Frugal Mom
More than Words for Moms Devotional by Stephanie Eidson of Multi Taskin Mom
Mini Prayer Book Printable by Brittany Ann of Equipping Godly Women
DIY Personal Spiritual Retreat Kit by Arabah Joy
Without Regret (a Christian Fiction Novel) by Elaine Mingus of Radcial Christian Woman
Inspirational Quote Pack (3 Printable 8 x 10’s) from The Modest Mom Blog
Family Favourites Meal Plan from Sharla at Freezer Meals 101
3 Printable Scripture Verses (8 x 10) from Sunu at Faith Art Designs

That's a whole lotta love and kindness given to you for NOTHING, out of the generous spirit of those who have produced them - they want to bless YOU! These are other mums and women in the spiritual trenches, who desire to build up others in their faith, to the glory of God.

In addition, don't forget about the prayer and praise journal to go alongside the book, as well as the printable verses, all available at the special launch week prices, or as an extra special bundle price. 

One of my favourite parts of our new morning routine, though, is that I am now regularly praying with, and for, my children. They have heard me pray for them before - but now, specifically, they hear me plead before the throne for their souls. There is nothing I desire more in life than that my children come to know the Lord as their Saviour. I can teach them character - that's great. I can teach them facts and figures - useful and profitable. But, the best thing I can do is point them towards the one who alone can be their life and all, and only if they place their faith in Him, and seek forgiveness for their sins. That is what they hear me seeking the Lord for EVERY DAY. I trust that the Lord would even use that to lead the to Himself.

I think it's so important to have God and His ways at the centre of all we desire to teach our children. When we raise our children, God's Word shouldn't be incidental - it should be intentional. How can we ever expect our children to follow God's ways if we don't TEACH them to our children?

I'd love to hear what other people do to teach their children about the Lord and His Word. Do you have a daily Bible time? How does it work for your family? What do you love about it?

I trust you have a blessed Lord's Day tomorrow, and don't forget to make use of the Matters of the Heart book deal. Don't miss out - it ends in around 48 hours! 

Monday, 1 August 2016

Matters of the Heart {a 52 week scripture plan for memorising scripture}

scripture memory
(This post contains affiliate links)

I am SO excited to be part of launching an UH-MAZ-ING book this week!!

How often do verses come to your mind in a situation? Verses that suit the moment, and you are SO thankful you memorised them? Perhaps it's only the verses you memorised as a child, or verses that are so "well known" they are on the tip of your tongue? Perhaps they are verses you have only learnt because you have read them so many times?

Have you ever actually commited, as an adult, to memorise scripture, though? We are told to hide God's Word in our HEARTS, and that will only happen if we place it there. We need to commit it to memory, so it springs up when when we need it most.

Carlie has written a wonderful book that combines the memorisation of scripture with a devotional just for women. It deals with issues that we face on a daily basis, and has a verse to memorise each week for a year. ONE VERSE. It's something we can ALL do, if set our minds to do it. I'ts not a big ask, but I just know it will bless your souls! I can not WAIT to get started with it.

Each week's devotional comes with a challenge and ways to put the verse into action. It really gets you thinking "How is this relevant to ME?", and applying it to your heart and life. It's not long. It's not time consuming. But, it is perfect for getting you to work at getting closer to Jesus.

Also available are some fabulous printable resources - very pretty scripture memory cards and prayer and reflection journal.  These will help you as you commit these scriptures to memory, and apply the truths contained in them to your heart and life.

There will be some special pricing ONLY for this coming week.  They are fantastic value, especially for us in the UK (even if the exchange rate isn't as good as normal...!)

There are several great ways to buy things. The best deal is the bundle.  This includes the digital book, the prayer & reflection journal, and the printable scripture memory cards, all for a fabulous price of $15! (After this launch week it will go up to $20)

If you only want to buy individual elements, you can just buy them alone.

scripture memorization

If you buy the book on its own it is $8 (will go up to $10 after this week)

There is also a lovely Prayer and Reflection journal, here, which will be $6 during launch week, but will go up to $8. 

And then there are also the 52 printable scripture cards, which you will find here. these will be $5 this week, but will go up to $7 after the launch.

I know that Carlie has put so much time, attention, and prayer into this project, She is SUCH an encourager, and just wants other Mums to be built up, too. 

If you are wanting to start the new school year with a heaping dose of God's Word hidden in your heart, then this is for you.

If you want to journal your way through scripture, finding truth and applying it to your circumstances, this is for you.

If you are needing a new way to boost your understanding of scriptures, this is for you.

If you are busy and need something simple to draw you closer to the Lord, this is for you.

If you are a woman who needs to spend more time in God's Word, this is for you. Hang on, that means it's for ALL of you!!! 

So, what are you waiting for?

Jump on in, and be encouraged as you seek to commit God's Word to your heart and mind.  Don't miss out on the great prices for this week only!