Saturday, December 27, 2008

Bits and pieces of Christmas

Christmas day has come and gone! I have loved this Christmas time, not just the 25th of December, but the days leading up to it.

I am slowly learning and realising that Christmas is not just about a certain day, but its something we celebrate for many days and treasure in our hearts always.

While chatting with a friend last night it really dawned on me that we don't have to sit and ponder the birth of Jesus all day on the 25 of December each year to make it meaningful, that's something we contemplate many times throughout the year and so much more around Christmas time.

I remember my days before I was married I would strive hard to make Christmas day meaningful by taking time out to think about the birth of Jesus, but I would often come away from the day feeling guilty that I hadn't spent enough time pondering, but much more time shopping etc.

But this year, and come to think of it in more recent years, I have spent more time leading up to Christmas day thinking about the wonder of Jesus' birth, and the whole nativity story.

Some of the things which I have done this year which has helped me to 'focus' more on Jesus include:

  • Reading the Nativity Story (even though I am still not finished!);

  • Reading when I can Immanuel - Praying through the names of God through the Christmas Season;

  • Going through Getting ready for Christmas with the kids, most days!;

  • Listening to lots more meaningful Christmas songs and carols;

  • Reading other people's blogs about their thoughts on Christmas;

  • Going to two carols nights, plus two church services, I have been blown away this year by the depth of the words in the traditional carols.

I feel like its one of the first years I have come away from Christmas feeling like I have truly celebrated Christmas, and it wasn't because I was super organised and got everything done that I wanted to, or that I had spent all day Christmas day meditating on the birth of Jesus.

I think its because I have taken many opportunities throughout the month of December to stop and think, not just leave it all up to Christmas eve or Christmas day. I also tried hard not to allow myself to become anxious or stressed about things to do and things I just can't do!
So here are some of my Christmas highlights for 2008.

  • Making nativity gingerbread stables for my neighbours;

  • Going to carols and Elder park and watching the awesome lightening over the river Torrens - God put on a great show (most of the singing was pretty good too!)

  • Going to carols at our old church with our kids and friends from England who had never been to anything like it before - it's pretty cold on the other side of the world this time of year!

  • Watching my husband coordinate an awesome Christmas eve service and then come home and put together two trampolines!
  • Hosting a birthday party for Jesus on Christmas eve for 23 kids involving cake, making cookies to give away and a nativity story!

  • Managing to avoid any crazy shopping expeditions by choosing to shop only in the quiet times (i.e early morning or after tea!)

  • Lots of Christmas cooking with my kids, they love to help and watch!

  • Going to the Lobethal Christmas pageant with our kids, they've never been to one before and it was so nice to see so many nativity floats!

  • Watching our 3 girls sing a Christmas song on stage for the Christmas eve service, our 2 and 1/2 year old didn't sing, but stood there looking pretty while swinging her dress!

Now that its all over, I need to make sure I write a list of all the things I loved this year about Christmas and a list of the things I would like to try or do differently next year.

In the post Christmas sales yesterday at Koorong I picked up this book which I will have to start reading next July called, Can Martha have a Mary Christmas? - Untangling Expectations and Truly experiencing Jesus by Brenda Poinsett.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Thoughts about Mary

I have been reading The Nativity Story a novelisation of The Nativity Story movie. I have really enjoyed getting into the characters, to take the time to ponder and consider what it would have been like for Mary, Joseph, their families, the wise men.

So far, I am loving the way the author, Angela Hunt, has portrayed all the characters, especially Mary. I have always been so drawn to Mary, and even more so since having children.

A few years ago I read through most of Francine Rivers, Lineage of Grace, but I chose not to read the account of Mary, I didn't want to to be caught up in the all the reality and emotions of what she may have experienced at the cross. But I have enjoyed getting to know the Mary of this story. In an interview with Angela Hunt at the back of the book she responds to this question:

Of all the women in Judea, why do you think God chose Mary to give birth to the Saviour of the World?

Angela Hunt: While I can't presume to know the mind of God, I realised something while I was working on the scenes in which Mary travelled to see Elizabeth. In my first draft, I had Mary thinking the sort of thoughts I'd think if I were her: Am I delusional? Was I hallucinating when I saw the angel? If Elizabeth really is pregnant, I'll know I didn't dream that encounter in the olive grove.

I had to strike all those thoughts when I studied Elizabeth's response to Mary. Luke 1:45 tells us that when she saw her young cousin, Elizabeth said, "You are blessed, because you believed that the Lord would do what he said"(emphasis added).

While I'm sure Galilee was filled with virtuous young virgins who loved and followed ADONAI, I'm not sure there were many who had Mary's pure faith. She went to Elizabeth not to test the angel's word but fully and happily expecting to find her aging cousin six months pregnant.

Mary provides a stark contrast with Zechariah - the priest doubted the angel, but the young girl accepted Gabriel's word with unquestioning faith and obedience.

I still marvel at Mary's trust and faith in God, an unbelievable miracle was about to happen inside of her and she didn't question the angel, she chose to believe and obey. The Nativity Story Movie gave me a glimpse into what it must have been like for her, the questioning, doubting, persecution, rejection. But God chose her and she remained faithful.

I pray that I will have a faith like Mary's, so trusting and confident in her God. He was all she had to trust, no one had ever been through what she was about to experience, she knew full well how impossible it would be for her to be pregnant for she knew she had never known any man. But her faith was in God, not in anything human.
I am daily confronted with so many distractions and temptations, and I put my hope and trust in so many things, but God alone is the one I need to trust and hope in, He alone is the miracle worker, my helper, my Saviour.

I pray that your faith will be simple like Mary's, a quiet, confident trust in an Almighty God.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Our ENORMOUS Christmas tree!

We started a tradition about two years ago, the boys go and find a tree and the girls decorate! Our son loves the fact that its just the boys who go, and he's not too fussed about not decorating! (Although he does add 1 or 2 decorations and then gets tired!).

They went out last Saturday hunting for a tree. After going to about 4 different places they finally found one at a Christmas tree farm, all the others they had seen were not 'good enough' for Mummy! They cut it down and dragged it to the owner, who then measured it and informed my husband of the price - probably the most expensive tree we will ever get! But it is beautiful, straight, tall, compact and wonderfully green!

The next day at church our son proudly went and told everybody about our ENORMOUS Christmas tree!

Whenever I think about Christmas trees I am reminded of Colin Buchanan's song King of Christmas.
Let the Christmas tree remind you of
the one who trusts the Lord
who walks the path of godliness
and loves to hear God's word.
Pray that as you grow up
that's just how you will be
Standing tall for Jesus
like the Christmas tree.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas links

Here are some Christmas links I have come across the past few weeks.


Gingerbread nativity

I am hoping to make an adapted version of this gingerbread nativity to give to my neighbours. I might also use bits of this design as well. I wil post some pictures!

Christmas crackers

We always make our own crackers each year. Our kids like to make them and give them out to their friends on Christmas eve. Here is a good idea of putting bible verses inside instead of jokes.

Easy Christmas ornaments

We made these easy angel and wreath ornaments in about 10 minutes this morning. Pretty and easy for kids to do. They put them on their own Christmas tree in the playroom.

I think we will also try these paper lanterns with some of my scrapbooking paper.

These tinsel stars can also be made out of glitter piper cleaners and beads.


Here are some easy handmade gift bows.

And some pretty gift wraps and bows.


Distracted or downcast?

If you find yourself distracted or downcast this Christmas listen to the sermon at this post.

5 Keys to joy at Christmas

Here is a series of posts about 5 keys to joy at Christmas.

Christmas books to read

The Nativity - Angela Hunt. This is a novelization of the 'Nativity Story' movie.

God in the Manger: The miraculous birth of Christ - John MacArthur. MacArthur explores the miracle and mystery of the birth of Christ.

Stories behind Christmas; Stories behind the best loved Christmas Songs; and More stories behind the best loved Christmas Songs - Ace Collins. Stories behind Christmas explains the history of the common Christmas traditions such as the origin of Christmas, the Christmas tree, advent, candy canes, Santa Claus.

Immanuel: Praying the Names of God through the Christmas Season - Ann Spangler. This book provides daily devotionals for 6 weeks over the Christmas season.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Handy shopping list

I just came across this handy shopping list. I am currently in the process of listing my shopping items in the order they are located in the shop I always shop at. But it is rather tedious, so in the mean time I might try using this shopping list.

I have this strange desire to create the perfect shopping list (perfect for my needs!). One that prompts me to go check everything in my cupboards to see if I need to restock and one that I can follow easily in the shop so I don't have to keep backtracking when I have missed something in an isle.

Grocery shopping for me has always been a lengthy, drawn out process. It got more complicated as kids came along, and then as they started to talk and walk and multiply!

But since the beginning of this year I decided to make my shopping trips more structured, consistent, and more specific! I used to try and juggle shopping trips around when my husband was home, sometimes he stayed home and looked after everyone and sometimes we would all go together. I have also tried early in the morning before he leaves for work and after tea when everyone is in bed. Then I was inspired by my friend who has always done her grocery shopping on the same day, and with all 3 in tow.

I knew I needed to get into a good routine of when I do my shopping, where and how. I shop on the same day once a fortnight. I travel about 10 minutes up to Gawler and shop at Woolworths. I must admit that I was attracted to the easy access to double trolleys and pram parks right outside the front door! Its great I don't have to push a trolley right around a big shopping centre and be distracted by clothes shops etc. I just go and do grocery shopping. I feed my two youngest a bag of snacks, which last just long enough to get through the shop, and then we head over to Hudsons for a coffee (for me) and babycinos!

So grocery shopping for me is now somewhat of a pleasant experience, and of course I know it will be so much better when I one day perfect my list!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Trusting and waiting

Don't you just wish sometimes that God would speak to you in an audible voice? I do. Sometimes I wish that He would sit down with me face to face and tell me exactly what I should do in situations. What to think, what to say.

But that's not how He works.

I want immediate answers and directions, and He wants me to trust and wait on Him. He speaks, directs and leads often in a way we don't expect, and He often doesn't give me immediate answers because He wants me to trust in Him, to seek Him earnestly.

The verses in this Psalm 37:3-11 tell me what I should do in times when I feel like I need Him to speak directly to me.

Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.

Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.

He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday.

Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him;

Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.

Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret—it only causes harm.

For evildoers shall be cut off; But those who wait on the LORD, They shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more; Indeed, you will look carefully for his place, But it shall be no more.

But the meek shall inherit the earth, And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

Trust in the Lord, dwell in the land, feed on His faithfulness, delight yourself in the Lord, commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him, rest in the Lord, wait patiently for Him, do not fret, cease from anger.

His way for me, the paths He wants me to take will become clear only as I am doing these things. He will give me the desires of my heart, He will bring my way to pass, He will bring forth my righteousness as the light and justice as the noon day, and I shall delight in the abundance of peace.

What amazing promises, but to get there, I need to come to that place of trusting and waiting. And not just waiting around, twiddling my thumbs, but I need to actively feed on His faithfulness - immerse myself in His goodness; delight myself in Him - meditate on and find joy in my salvation; and cease from anger and fretting - don't try and work it out in my head, leave it all up to God.

I like these words from John Piper from his book Future Grace.

"...loving God and delighting in God and drawing near to God mean looking to God as beautiful and worthy and precious. Waiting for God and taking refuge in God and hoping in God and crying out to God mean looking to him as valiant rescuer. Trusting God means counting on his trustworthiness to meet every need. And fearing God means standing in awe at the infinite chasm between his holiness and power on the one hand, and my sin and weakness on the other..."

You know before I started writing this post, my soul was downcast and heavy, but praise God for His word and way it has lifted me up and turned my focus all onto Him.

Show me Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me;
For You are the God of my salvation:
On You I wait all the day.
Psalm 25:4-5

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Getting ready for Christmas

I am now officially in the Christmas mindset! I am one of those people who choose not to get too involved in Christmas until the 1st of December, at the very earliest! I think that has a lot to do with the way we did things when I was growing up. Our Christmas tree went up the day we finished school, and Christmas shopping didn't start until holidays did.

I used to love doing my Christmas shopping in the City. Seeing all the Christmas decorations everywhere, listening to the buskers in the mall. The busyness and crowds never really bothered me it all contributed to the excitement of Christmas!

But that was back in the days before I was married and had kids! Now it seems I do all I can to avoid being amongst the crowds and craziness. I think ahead about what presents to buy and what meals to cook, all to relieve myself of extra stress and pressure as Christmas gets closer.

I must admit that I do miss those school and university days when I could drive into the city and spend a day getting all my Christmas shopping done, it was fun and exciting and back then it helped me get into the Christmas spirit.

But now that I am older and have a family of my own, I enjoy creating a different Christmas spirit within our home.I don't want Christmas to be all about Santa, decorations, presents and food. We have such a wonderful opportunity at Christmas to talk a lot about Jesus and how He humbled Himself and came to earth. That's why I love advent.

You may know that 'advent' means 'coming' or 'arrival'. Observing Advent is a way of preparing spiritually for Christmas so that our celebration produces a sense of joy and hope rather than feelings of cynicism and exhaustion. Advent, then enables us to celebrate Christmas authentically. (From Immanuel - Praying the names of God through the Christmas season - by Ann Spangler)

All day yesterday, it being the 1st December, I was rather mellow and not at all inspired to get out Christmas decorations etc. My heart was distracted and grieved about other things and I was not in the mood at all. I remembered a book I had bought at the end of last Christmas, the one I mentioned earlier. I picked it up and started reading the first chapter, and almost instantly I knew that God was stirring me to focus on Him first this Christmas. Not decorations, trees, presents, food, I needed to fix my eyes on Him first. I was feeling rather overwhelmed etc at the thought of Christmas decorations, Christmas cards, Christmas cooking, Christmas presents, Christmas parties and so on. I am so thankful that it was not until I came back to thoughts of Him and what He has done for us in sending His Son to earth, that I suddenly became excited about Christmas.

So the first Christmas thing I put out was a book I got last year called Getting Ready for Christmas - A Daily Advent Prayer Book for the Family. I put it on the dining table and we did the reading for day 1 after tea. Each day there is a couple of bible verses to read, a prayer and some kind of activity to do. Last night we made angels for the Christmas tree. My two youngest had lots of fun spreading glitter all over the table! I was feeling so much more into Christmas!

After the kids had gone to bed a wonderful friend of ours gave us some cute Christmas decorations she had won in a competition. A blow up Santa Claus and a singing, climbing snowman!

I am always so amazed at how God works! I had prayed that morning that He would help me to get ready for Christmas, and I while I was so focused on getting all the decorations up, He was leading me to a place where I could put Him first this Christmas. If I wasn't feeling so mellow and uninspired I wouldn't have searched for Him, chances are I would have got caught up with the 'doing' of Christmas.

I am looking forward to spending time each day getting mine and my family's heart ready for Christmas. To gain a deeper understanding of what God has done for us by sending us His son to free us from everlasting darkness. I also look forward to all the gift giving, eating, and fellowship that comes at Christmas time.

I was thinking about what it must have been like for Joseph and Mary when they entered Bethlehem. It would have been so busy and full of people everywhere looking for a place to sleep, probably a lot like our shopping centres this time of year. But God led them out to a quiet stable, away from the crowds, for Jesus to be born.

I pray that there will be many times when God will lead you away from the busyness into a special place where you can truly meditate upon what He has done for us, and the joy of our salvation.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

This Momentary Marriage

John Piper has completed his book on marriage, called This Momentary Marriage. I have been eager to see it as I have listened to a number of his sermons on marriage, this book stems from some of these. Some of these sermons have significantly changed my perspective and purpose for marriage.

You can download the book for free from the Desiring God website through this link. Through this link you will also be able to download the sermons on marriage.

Here are some of the chapter headings to stir up your interest!

Staying married is not mainly about staying in love

Forgiving and Forbearing

Lionhearted and Lamblike—The Christian Husband as Head: Foundations of Headship

Lionhearted and Lamblike—The Christian Husband as Head: What Does It Mean to Lead?

The Beautiful Faith of Fearless Submission

Single in Christ: A Name Better Than Sons and Daughters

Singleness, Marriage, and the Christian Virtue of Hospitality

Faith and Sex in Marriage

Marriage Is Meant for Making Children . . . Disciples of Jesus: How Absolute Is the Duty to Procreate?

Marriage Is Meant for Making Children . . . Disciples of Jesus: The Conquest of Anger in Father and Child

What God Has Joined Together, Let Not Man Separate: The Gospel and the Radical New Obedience

What God Has Joined Together, Let Not Man Separate: The Gospel and the Divorced

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Are you longing for home?

I have just finished our book club book 'In light of eternity - Perspectives on Heaven' by Randy Alcorn. What a life changing book!

It has been so exciting to read about our real Home, the one God is preparing for us.

Alcorn writes, "Like a bride's dream of sharing a home with her groom, our love for heaven should be overflowing and contagious, just as our love for God should be (Revelation 19:7). Our passion for God and our passion for heaven should be inseparable. The more I learn about God, the more excited I get about heaven. The more I learn about heaven the more excited I get about God.

How it must wound the heart of our bridegroom to see us clinging to this roach-infested hovel called earth, dreading the thought of leaving it, when he has hand built a magnificent estate for us, a place beautiful and wondrous beyond measure."

When we are blown away by an amazing sunrise or sunset, or marvel at great mountains and canyons we can praise God and 'these will prove to be but rough sketches of heaven'.

When we enjoy a night of sincere Christian fellowship it's only a glimpse of the deep rich, fellowship we will experience in heaven for an eternity.

When we take a bite of a fresh home grown tomato and delight in it's sweetness it's only a small taste of the food we will one day feast on in our everlasting home.

When we participate in an uplifting time of worship with our fellow believers that too is only a glimpse of what our worship will be like when we worship Him face to face with the entire body of Christ.

This earth is not our home! I am so thankful for the foretastes and glimpses He gives us of what is to come, and the dissatisfaction of worldly possessions and experiences remind me that deep inside I am longing for another place. A place where our bridge groom will be and where there will be no more tears because there will be nothing to be sad about.

"We spend our lives longing for this person and this place. Just as people restlessly move from relationship to relationship seeking the person they were made for, they move from location to location seeking the place they were made for. Somewhere new and better. A bigger house. A different city. The suburbs. A new neighbourhood - safer, nicer, with better schools. That dream house in the country. That idyllic mountain chalet. That perfect beach cottage.

Think about it - we have the very answers the world is crying out for, yet our wrong views of God's person and God's place silence and distort our message. What a triumph for Satan that we would actually pass on to our churches, our children, and our world a dreary view of heaven - and by implication a dreary view of God. "

Our view of eternity impacts everything we think, desire, say and do.

What a comfort....
To know that God and His saints are watching, cheering, praying for us.

To know that one day we will be rewarded for sincere, humble faithfulness to Him.

To know that one day we will be reunited with our friends and family, we will meet the faithful saints of the past, matyrs from oppressed countries, and millions of unborn children who will be dancing around heaven.

To know that God is preparing a place for each of us, unique and individual to us (I can't wait to see how God has decorated mine just for me!)

To know that one day we will meet Him face to face and He will wipe away every tear from our eyes, no more pain, suffering, and our deepest longings will be met in that place.

The greatest weakness of the western church today is arguably our failure to think of the long tomorrow - to take seriously the reality that heaven is our home. Out of this springs our love affair with this world and our failure to live now in the light of eternity.

I have been challenged to live so much more in the light of eternity. All I do, think, desire, say, spend, do has an impact for eternity. So expect me to be talking a whole lot more about our eternal home!

At the end of the day all that we have, our spouse, our children, our family, our possessions, our freedom, could all be stripped away from us, but what lasts forever is our eternal place in Heaven, and our eternal relationship with God.

God wants us to long for that place, to dream of it, to look up into the clouds and imagine His return. Thoughts of heaven will most certainly give us a dissatisfaction with this world, but it should also stir up a sense of urgency to tell others of a God that wants to spend eternity with them.
I will finish with some questions I was challenged by.

How about you? Are you following the example of the saints by longing for heaven (Hebrews 11:13-16; 2 Corinthians 5:2)?

Are you cultivating a passion for God's place?

Is heaven and all it represents a central object of your attention?

Have you 'set your heart on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God' (Colossians 3:1)?

Is your heart's attention there, rather than on 'earthly things' (verse 2).

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Friday, November 21, 2008

A week without Rickey

So it's been one whole week since our precious dog Rickey died. I was surprised at how miserable and flat I was all last weekend and at the beginning of the week.

There's a part of me that felt really bad for feeling really bad (hope that makes sense). Here I was feeling very sad and despondent about my dog dying when there are so many other people around me and throughout the world experiencing such greater losses and hardships...But I can't pretend that it didn't impact me in a big way, thank you Julie for sharing your story about the bond you had with your dog.

Even though it has only been a week, I have to say that we have already started talking about our next dog. I couldn't talk to anyone about it for at least 3 or 4 days after she died, but now I have been giving it some serious thought, and discussion with my husband!

We definitely do want to get another dog, there was never any question about that. Whilst it is so convenient not having to look after a dog, the benefits far outweigh the negatives.

The question we are now facing is what kind of dog should we get. I have never really had the opportunity to pick any dog I want before. Rickey was a gift to us, so we never got to choose her, and my mum chose most of the dobermans we had (and there was never any other option but doberman!).

It's something we are both researching. We both have similar qualities that we would like in a dog, we just have differing opinions in what size (sometimes), colour, fur length, facial expressions...! We have both agreed that we don't want a small dog, I am used to having reasonably big dogs around, they provide me with a sense of protection. And of course it needs to get on well with children.

So out of interest sake, what are your thoughts on what kind of dog we should get? Any recommendations or suggestions?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The story of Aggie Hurst

I read this article article the other day written by Randy Alcorn.

I'd heard bits of this story before. A story of a young missionary couple who went to the Belgian Congo. After his wife died during child birth, he gave his baby away and returned home discouraged and angry at God.

Such an amazing story of how God used just one seed to reap a harvest.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Learning to walk slowly

I have been learning to breathe lately, to take things slowly, to take time to smell the roses...

A couple of weeks ago I had a good chat with a friend who has been dealing with sickness and upheavals in her life. She told me she had been reading a book I gave her over a year ago called, Breathe, and she has been challenged to slow down.

I am naturally a very driven person, and much to my husbands frustration at times, I am hardly every lazy! Mostly that's a good thing, except when it hinders me from stopping! I find it hard to sit still, to dawdle along (just like my eldest daughter loves to do!). When I am walking I need to do it quickly, when I am doing the dishes they have to be done as fast as possible so I can move quickly on to the next task.

One thing I try not to rush though is my interactions with others. I hate having to rush off to meet someone else, to dash off to another appointment etc. It's my family who unfortunately have to suffer with my quickness, my desire for efficiency and organisation! It is such a retraining of the mind, I have to stop and ask myself, why are you rushing?

Moments after my conversation with my friend, I found myself rushing once again. Of course I had good reason to, if I didn't 'hurry' I would be late to pick up kids from kindy, so I had to hurry along my daughter to the car, drive as efficiently (without speeding of course!) as possible, all because I didn't want to put out the kindy teachers who would have to wait a whole 10 minutes with my children because I was late! I felt a bit trapped on this drive home and had a real battle with my flesh and spirit, my flesh would mumble words under my breath when there was a red light, whilst my spirit was saying chill out, don't worry, go slow and enjoy the moment, the drive home with only 1 child in the car!

Now 2 weeks later, my days have still been busy and full, but I am trying to go through them slowly, I am learning how to breathe, my steps are intentionally slower. I am constantly telling myself to take it slow. Especially at those times when the kids are arguing about something, or demanding something from me, I take a deep breath and remind myself that this moment, what they are doing is not an interruption, but it is part of how I need to serve them. I need to train them and teach them to interact respectfully with each other, to ask for things politely etc.

In a book called Your God is too safe I was reminded about how Jesus lived.

Jesus was slow.

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, come quickly, come now! Lazarus is dying, demons are wreaking havoc; people are hungry! Jesus, do something, and do it now!

But Jesus just strolls along, talking to this blind beggar showing kindness to that prostitute, taking a nap, eating a meal. As Philip Yancey says, the one person who never suffered from a Messiah Complex - an anxiety about having to fix the world - was the Messiah. Jesus took time and took his time.

I love that last sentence, Jesus took time and took his time. When I think about how it must have been for Jesus, I can't imagine Him ever rushing from one thing to another.

I know that sometimes when I am rushing and hurrying everyone along its because I am not trusting and waiting on God. When I am waiting and trusting I seem to have all the time in the world for my daughter to stop and pick up a bug, and to listen to my son tell me a funny joke. When I am conscious that God is sovereign, that He is in control of everything, when I am trusting Him with all my heart and not leaning on my own understanding of how things are going, I am much more willing to take my time and to enjoy each moment.

So if you notice me rushing or walking fast, please remind me to breathe and walk slower and to put my trust in God.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I hope Rickey will be in Heaven

Today we said goodbye to our precious furry friend and companion, Rickey.
She was given to us when she was 3 months old as a wedding present, 10 years ago

I had always lived with a dog, so I couldn't wait to get one when I was married. I had wanted a cat as well, but my husband was not so convinced.

Two weeks after we got back from our honeymoon, my husband informed me that we were going down to the animal shelter. I asked him why, and his response was that we were just going to have a look at some cats. I tried not to get too excited!

When we got down there, it didn't take me long to fall in love with a very affectionate, unusual looking cat. I went in and she was all over me straight away. I brought my husband over, and he too thought she was very special. So much to my delight we went home with a cat, and called her Mooshka.

My husband thought that if we were to ever get a cat we should get it before the puppy came, so the cat could make her standing as boss!
So 2 weeks later Rickey arrived, and the first time Mooshka saw her she went to scratch her. Rickey was about the same size as her, and she cowered!

We have so many fond memories of Rickey in our early years of marriage. For us the early years were difficult and Rickey was such a comfort to me in many ways. She was so fun and affectionate and was such a reliable, trustworthy dog.

She loved her ball and she was a great soccer and basketball player (many of our friends can testify to that!)
During our 10 years of marriage we have lived in 6 different houses for varying periods and Rickey and Mooshka have been with us each time. She was such a good dog and settled in well wherever we were.

When I fell pregnant with my first child, one of my biggest concerns was how Rickey would respond to a baby. She had never really been exposed to any before, and all those horror stories about dog attacks etc. started to worry me.

But prayer is such a blessed thing, I did lots of praying about Rickey and our new baby. And praise be to God, she has been such a wonderful dog to all of our children, she has never shown any signs of jealousy. She has been so patient, gentle, tolerant and fun to play with.

I was brought up with dobermans, 2 of them were often unpredictable. Although they never bit or harmed anyone, I learnt how to be careful, and respectful around them. I have always wanted to have a big dog around our children, it is a good opportunity to teach them how to handle dogs, to treat them with respect and carefulness, and to not be afraid of them.

Over the past 2 years Rickey has had trouble with her ears. Apparently her ear canals are very thin and dirt etc. gets blocked in them easily which then lead to infections. 2 years ago we thought she would have to have a $1500 operation to open up the canals so they wouldn't get infected anymore, but she seemed to get better with a dose of antibiotics the infections stayed away.

But a couple of months ago they got infected again, so we took her to the vet for more antibiotics, they healed up, but I noticed a few days ago she was scratching again. Each time these infections come they cause her a lot of pain, and she howls when she scratches her ears, it was so sad to see her in such pain and discomfort.

Yesterday I heard her snap at one of the younger two children, I didn't see what happened but from what I can tell one of them pushed the other accidentally into Rickey and being startled, she growled back. Thankfully she didn't bite her, but no. 4 was pretty upset.
She has been such a gentle wonderful dog, not a nasty bone in her, but I know what it's like when you are in pain, you are more irritable and can't handle surprises. She was scared when no. 4 fell into her and she responded out of fear. I spent the rest of the day observing her and noticed that she was walking very slowly everywhere and spend most of the day lying down when usually she is running up and down the fence, with the dog next door. I wondered whether she was experiencing pain all through her body, not just in her ears.

Later that day we made the decision to get her put down. She was in pain and we couldn't risk her biting one of the children or anyone else, due to her being in pain. I would have such regrets if anything ever happened, and it would be such an awful memory to have of her.

So last night and this morning we cherished our last moments with her, it was very sad to try and imagine her not being with us. She was such a cuddly dog, just like a bear. We explained what was happening to the kids and they seemed to understand.

My husband took her to the vet this morning, she could hardly climb into his car, it seemed like a big effort for her. He found it very sad and emotional, but I am so thankful to him for doing it.

I spent the whole day out, so when I got home, the backyard felt so empty. I have always hated it when she had to go to the vet and wasn't home, but now I will have to get used to it :(

But I am so thankful for her, she has been with us through so much happiness, sadness, and life changes. She has been one of the few constant, things in our life (apart from God!). I will miss her immensely.

I am comforted by these thoughts by Randy Alcorn though, this is taken from an article called Do dogs go to Heaven.

"In her excellent book, Holiness in Hidden Places, Joni Eareckson Tada says, 'If God brings our pets back to life, it wouldn't surprise me. It would be just like him. It would be totally in keeping with his generous character. . . Exorbitant. Excessive. Extravagant in grace after grace. Of all the dazzling discoveries and ecstatic pleasures heaven will hold for us, the potential of seeing Scrappy would be pure whimsy—utterly, joyfully, surprisingly superfluous. . . Heaven is going to be a place that will refract and reflect in as many ways as possible the goodness of joy of our great God, who delights in lavishing love on his children......'

We needn't be embarrassed either to grieve the loss of our pets or to want to see them again. If we believe God is their creator, that He loves us and them, that He intends to restore His creatures from the bondage they experienced because of our sin, then we have biblical grounds for not only wanting but also expecting that we may be with them again on the New Earth."

And I love this poem by John Piper Alcorn quotes in the article.

And as I knelt beside the brook
To drink eternal life,
I took A glance across the golden grass,
And saw my dog, old Blackie, fast
As she could come.
She leaped the stream—
Almost—and what a happy gleam
Was in her eye.
I knelt to drink
And knew that I was on the brink
Of endless joy.
And everywhere I turned I saw a wonder there.
Thank you Lord for such a wonderful dog.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My husband is an great cake decorator!

When it's birthday time, I bake the cake and my husband decorates.

Child no. 3 turned 4 yesterday. Leading up to her birthday we asked her what kind of cake she wanted, and each time she gave us a different answer! She loves to change her mind!

Finally the day before her brother suggested having a crocodile cake, yes, that was what she wanted. All day she was telling people she was having a crocodile cake.

Then on the morning of her birthday, her older sister was chatting to her, and she decided that she now wanted a Princesses cake!

We said NO you are having a crocodile cake, you can't change your mind again!

It didn't take long for her to be decide she did want a crocodile cake!

I must say that my husband is very talented at creating cakes. He never uses a book, he makes up all his creations. I just ask him how many cakes he needs and what shape, make the cake, then leave the rest up to him!

So here is the crocodile cake.

And here are some other past creations.

Friday, November 7, 2008

What would it really be like to live on earth with Jesus

I was chatting with a friend today about how I would respond to Jesus if I was around when He was.

It's so easy to read about His life 2000 years ago and think - if I was Peter, there's no way I would deny Him, if I was Martha surely I would have grabbed the opportunity to sit at His feet and hang on His every word, if I was one of the disciples in the garden, I would have fought off the desire to sleep realising that Jesus was deeply distressed and troubled.

It's so easy for me to think that now, just reading frivolously over the words, 2000 years after it happened. But when I think deeply and realistically about it, I would have been just like them all. I am certain of it!

My friend and I talked about the many judgements, opinions, criticisms Jesus would have faced, from all sorts of people.

But, He didn't become man to please man, He came to save them and to do the will of His Father. I know that Jesus was sinless on this earth, but in the eyes of many, he surely would not have been perfect, He would have fallen short of many of the standards of that society, because they would have been looking at Him through their eyes and standards, not God's.

As I tried to put myself in the place of someone who lived with Jesus, I wondered whether I would have judged Him or criticised Him, I have certainly been guilty of doing that with many godly men and women I know.

In my eyes they may have been living or doing things that I don't agree with, or that I think may be ungodly, but I have no right to judge, to criticise. What they are doing may be totally godly and right in God's eyes.

God is the only one who can see our hearts, He knows our desires, our motives, He is the One we serve.

While I know I need to be sensitive to others around me and be careful not to be a stumbling block, I need to be far more concerned about what God thinks rather than what men think.

I am reminded of these wonderful, amazing verses from Hebrews 12:2-3 that constantly lift me up.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith,
who for the joy set before him endured the cross,
scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men,
so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

When I fix my eyes on Jesus, I am reminded that He is the one I am living for, I may be judged, criticised, persecuted, or even neglected by men, but He is the One I want to bring glory to.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A surprisingly enjoyable shopping experience!

I am not usually one to take all 4 of my kids shopping by myself, with no restraints (i.e. pram or trolley) but on the way back from taking my dad and sister to the airport the other day, there were a couple of shops I really wanted to 'pop' into!

I don't usually have much patience or tolerance for shopping with kids, but today I was in a rather relaxed mood, and found it much more easier to turn a blind eye and ear to their requests - i.e.

I need to go to the toilet,

I'm hungry,

Come and look at this Mummy!

I just strolled through the store, happy for them to wander along behind me, browsing at this and that. I dragged them all into the change room and they helped me decide which top and skirt to buy.

Normally I am a pretty strict about them keeping right by my side and about touching things, but today, I was way more relaxed, and the store was not very busy - I was actually enjoying myself!

After the clothes shop I just had to go to one more shop - the shoe shop! It's more like a warehouse really, shoes and boxes everywhere! I was surprisingly still very relaxed in this shop, I was on a mission to buy shoes!

As it turned out, this shopping trip was a lot of fun for all of us, my 2 year old daughter stirred up a bit of attention trying on all sorts of ladies shoes.

At first I stopped her, but after a while I realised she was just copying me and all the other ladies in the store who were trying on shoes!

So many ladies were smiling at her and commented on how cute she was. She chose a shoe from the shelf, put it on, walked up and down and then put it back roughly where she found it!

I realised after that if I had been really strict and bossy and made her stop trying on the shoes, we would have missed out on making so many of the ladies around us smile and enjoy watching her.

I know that a lot of this surprisingly enjoyable trip had to do with my attitude!

I wasn't being neglectful, and my children certainly were not out of control, I was just way more relaxed and made the effort to enjoy my children and allow them to enjoy the experience too!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Are you working for God or with God?

I was confronted with this question yesterday when reading our current 'book club' book, Just like Jesus - Learning to have a heart like His by Max Lucado.

Before I read chapter 5, Being led by and unseen hand - A God-intoxicated heart I would have said I was working with God, not for Him.

But as I kept reading I started having second thoughts.

Lucado writes,

For years I viewed God as a compassionate CEO and my roles as a loyal sales representative. He had his office, and I had my territory. I could contact him as much as I wanted. He was always a phone or fax away. He encouraged me, rallied behind me, and supported me, but he didn't go with me. At least I didn't think he did. Then I read 2 Corinthians 6:1: We are "God's fellow workers" (NIV).

Yesterday I spend most of the day in and out of bed with an upset stomach and thick head.

So if I took on the above perspective of God, I would be telling God, as my compassionate CEO that I couldn't come into work today because I was sick, I needed the day off, and I'll get back to working for Him when I am better.

I must admit, I heard myself saying this to Him.

I just can't do anything, it's too hard to speak kindly to my husband and children, to pray or do the 'little things' around the home.

I felt myself saying I'll be back to work tomorrow when I'm better. Don't expect too much out of me today God, cause I need to rest!

But I was challenged to think about what I would be saying and thinking about if I was working with God.

Instead of being somewhere in an office in town carrying on with His own work, He would be right next to me, taking care of me.

He would be filling my mind with sweet scriptures about His goodness and greatness.

As my children approached me with requests and demands, He would give me the strength I needed to respond kindly and patiently with them.

When it was time to make meals, He would encourage me to take a step towards preparing a meal and He would sustain me and keep me while I got it done.

As I started to view God in this way, I started to experience such precious communion with Him, even though I was feeling weak physically, there was an inner strength being generated by Someone most powerful.

The rest of the chapter was all about pursing an unbroken, constant, intimate communion with God. Lucado writes,

"The more we search the Bible, the more we realise that unbroken communion with God is the intent and not the exception. Within the reach of every Christian is the unending presence of God".

Communion with God is not just something I do in the mornings in my devotions, it is something I can experience throughout the whole day - but it is my choice to commune with Him, to think about Him, to worship Him.

I would love to be like Frank Laubach, whom Lucado quotes, who wrote:

It is my business to look into the very face of God until I ache with bliss.....Now I like the Lord's presence so much that when for half an hour or so He slips our of mind - as He does many times a day - I feel as though I had deserted Him, and as though I had lost something very precious in my life. (March 3, 1931; May 14, 1930).

Thursday, October 23, 2008

10 years together!

I have returned from 3 wonderful days in Sydney with my beloved husband!
Tomorrow is our 10 year anniversary so our time away was a kind of celebration for that and we wanted to go see Louie Giglio, Chris Tomlin and the Dave Crowder band at the Sydney Entertainment Centre!

Despite the cold weather and intermittent rain, it was so wonderful to have our bed made every day, our dishes cleaned, not have to cook (or change nappies!) and most importantly to have uninterrupted time together.

It is hard to believe that 10 years tomorrow we were married on a magnificent day in October.

I absolutely loved everything about our wedding day (and still do!).
I chose to have a simple wedding dress and bridesmaids dresses, and dressed them up with wonderfully colourful flowers!
Our ceremony was held at the church I had been attending all my life, and our reception was held on the grounds where the church is located.
Our reception was like a great big picnic. We wanted to invite as many people as we could, and we are not sit down dinner people, so we had a big marquee, chairs, tables, umbrellas, picnic blankets and a jazz band which set the scene.
We had a simple ploughman's lunch (breads, cold meats and salads), and the only things which was missing was the jumping castle and pony rides (which my husband desperately wanted!).
It was so lovely to have so many of our family and friends and lots of children buzzing around the place and the weather was beautiful.
I am so thankful for such fond memories of that day, and I am still so grateful for the many people who helped out on that day to make it so special

Now 10 years on, I can't believe it was so long ago! We'll both admit that the first few years of our marriage were hard, I felt so naive as a wife, I really had no clue about my role as a wife and the whole submission thing!
But as the years have gone on, things have become so much better, easier in some ways, and I have learnt so much about what it means to be a wife!
However, like with every relationship we need to put lots of time, love, sacrifice, and prayer into our marriage, every day, and we should be careful not to take each other for granted.
A few months ago I came across a list I wrote before I was with my husband (back in April 1995!) called, 'My Perfect Partner'.
  • Someone who loves me for who I am and all that I am
  • Someone who absolutely adores me
  • Someone who is bright, cheerful, strong and sympathetic towards others and not critical
  • Someone handsome with a loving smile
  • Someone who loves animals
  • Someone who is very godly and a spiritual leader
  • Someone who can endure suffering and pain
  • Someone whom I can admire and respect
  • Someone who is clean cut and friendly with everyone.

As I look back over that list I am so thankful that my husband has all of those qualities and so much more!

I was 20 when I wrote that list and I am so glad I did, as it helped and guided me to my husband to enabled me make a rational decision about him, not one merely based on emotion and feeling (does that make sense?!).

I am so thankful for the prayers prayed on our wedding day, and for the way they have been answered.

I praise Him for the beautiful children He has blessed us with, and I praise Him for the trials, pain and suffering we have been through together!

There are many things I regret in our marriage, but God has allowed them and used them to build us closer together and to give us a deeper understanding of Him.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Big Kindy girl

My 3rd child started pre entry Kindy last week. She has been waiting for AGES to go to BIG Kindy. She has been going to occasional care, a 2 and 1/2 hour session for 0-4 year olds at the Kindy the bigger kids go to for the past 3 years, and the past few months she has been rather desperate to be on the 'other side'.

I couldn't get over just how excited she was on Friday. Every day last week as we got ready to take no. 2 to Kindy she would ask

"Am I going to BIG Kindy today?"

And each day I had to say, "No, not today, on Friday".

And every time I would get an "Oh...I want to go to big Kindy".

So it was soooo exciting to say to her on Friday, "Today you are going to big

I must say that I was amazed at how well behaved she was all morning as we got ready for Kindy and waited until it was time to go. I didn't notice it until I had dropped her off, but she had been so well mannered, so helpful (she watered all my plants!), there was no battle about what clothes to put on, there was no squabbling with siblings, just lots of joy and goodness coming from her! It made me think about how I am when I am excited about something, I am so much more tolerant, kind, helpful...happy! It was such a joy to see this in my 3 year old!

It was so wonderful to see her at Kindy, the place she has been waiting to go to for soooo long! She could finally put her bag on the 'Kindy side', no longer on the 'babies side'.

As soon as we got in there she joined in on group time and had no problems singing the songs, and sitting nicely. I don't like to think too much about how quickly our children are growing up, I prefer to focus on how delightful they are where they are at, and to enjoy them where they are at, not where they were or how they will one day be!

A few days ago while I was watching group time for no. 2's Kindy session, I watched one of the teachers trying to restrain a boy who did not want to sit still and quiet, he was screaming and squirming. It made me think, I am so thankful that my children are able to sit still and pay attention (most of the time!).

It hasn't been easy work though. I still remember no. 2 squirming and screaming on my lap when he was 9 months old because he didn't want to sit still, but I was determined to win the battle, and finally he gave in and sat still.

As parents we have had to battle this with all of our children on numerous occasions, so to see no. 3 on Friday sitting still and joining in with the group was a delight, and she did not bring shame to me, like this verse talks about.

A child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame” (Prov 29:15).

So when she got home, daddy asked her what was the best thing about Kindy, and her answer was "siah", which means "Josiah", he is a friend from church!

She then proceeded to tell him how she also liked playing with the boys!

Friday, October 17, 2008

My first priority

I have been challenged lately about life purpose in general. And I have come to the conclusion, that I have not been making my husband my first priority.

It is so easy to get busy doing things, and not that they're bad things, they are just things that take me away from making him my first priority (after God that is!).

Our relationship has not been suffering or anything, but I have been starting to fill my life with other things, that are distracting me from making him number 1 in a practical way.

This week while I have been thinking through all of this, I came across this post based on Proverbs 31:12. “She does HIM good, and not harm, all the days of her life.”

Kristin Chesemore writes,

'The object of this wife’s active do-gooding is her husband.......Sad to say, I don’t always do this. Sometimes I am quick to meet my kid’s needs or to agree to do a favor for a friend without considering whether or not it would serve my husband. Serving my children and those in the church is right and important--as we see in the example of the Proverbs 31 woman. But I must remember that I am uniquely gifted and called to do good to my husband first.'

I am uniquely gifted and called to be a helper to my husband, that is such a privilege, no one else has that opportunity or calling! I am thankful for the way God grabs my attention, even though I had to go through some pain and humility for Him to get me this time.

Please feel free to remind me and encourage me to make my husband my first priority, I have the gift of mercy and I love to help others, which is OK, if it is not causing harm to my husband. My goal is to do him good all the days of his life!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

When all is quiet in the kitchen....

This is what happened the other morning while I was on the computer!

I noticed that it was rather quiet in the kitchen, when is should have been noisy.
My 2 year old was left ALONE at the breakfast bar after morning milks (everyone else was in the bedroom cuddling daddy, and I was on the computer).
She can't get down by herself and the milo tin was left on the bench.
You can see her pointing to the floor, she was telling me there was milk on the floor, there was no conscience about stealing milo!

So I quickly got the camera and took a snap, and then left her to finish her milk!

And then this happened.

You would think I would have been smart enough to take the milk away as well!

I must say that she got out of being told off for it all, it was funny, and I was partly to blame!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog design change

I am in the process of changing my blog design. I am attempting to do it all from scratch so it's a work in progress at the moment.

If you have ever been to my house you will know that I am always changing things around, so sorry it will be the same here as well!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Frustration with sin!

I have been frustrated with sin today!

There was an 'episode' this morning where I sinned, regretfully, and whilst I am so thankful for God's forgiveness, His death on the cross, the hope of eternal life....

I am still so frustrated that sin exists.

I know we are being conformed to the 'image of His Son' but we will never be perfect or like Him until we get to Heaven.

It feels like sin just gets in the way of doing what I should be doing for God!

But....obviously God has sovereignly allowed sin in this life, and I know that He does use 'all things for good', I have a long heavy puritan book all about that!

I just hate it when I sin.

A friend of mine reminded me a week ago, that if our children never saw us sin or saw our faults, and if we never had to apologise to them, and their opinion of us was that we are perfect, then as they get older and realise what life is all about, they would become disillusioned, they wont know how to deal with sin, because they haven't seen us deal with it.

It's one of the hardest things, to let my children see, my weaknesses and pride.

I need to rely so much more upon the grace of God to keep me from being a stumbling block to my children, and that He truly would use all things for good, that He would be the one who saves them, protects them and keeps them.... especially from the sin of their mother!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Teddy Bear's Picnic

We had the Teddy Bear's picnic on Wednesday for my 6 year old and 5 of her friends. It was such a fun day!
I spent all day Monday sewing these backpack picnic blankets for each of the girls. I came up with idea when I was trying to think of a way they could carry their teddies.
The blanket folds up into a backpack and there's a pocket on the back to hold a teddy. I have so many odd bits of material that just haven't been used for anything so I didn't have to buy anything to make them!

I found some $1 baskets from some second hand shops and put some material in them. They used these to carry their tea cups and food.
I made cupcakes and the girls iced them and decorated them.
They also made pretend cupcakes and food for their teddies. Can you tell which ones are real?

Once we had made everything we went outside and had the picnic!

After eating the girls played while Emma and I sat down and had a cup of tea!
Then we played some games with the teddies.
Push the teddies on the car;
Teddy sack race;
And their favourite was hide the teddies. We hid the teddies all around the garden and they had to try and find them!
At the end, they decided to do some more making, this time clothes and costumes for their teddies. They were so creative and came up with costumes and dresses!
I am glad I put in the time and effort to make it a fun and special day, not just for my daughters but for her friends!
I thank God for such a beautiful sunny day, despite the rain in the morning!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Being sick = resting and waiting!

I love the way God always knows what I need and what is best for me.

It is so incredibly hard to trust Him sometimes, but when I do.....such amazing peace, and I wouldn't want to be in any other place (does that make sense?).

I have been sick the past few days, I always welcome sickness as a time for physical, emotional and spiritual recovery. When I get sick I see it as God's way of making me slow down, to stop and evaluate what I am doing and why, and what is most important.

I crashed emotionally on Sunday night when I was in despair about being sick!

All I could think about was all the plans I had made for the upcoming days and that my husband was going away and how was I going to cope with it all! I felt like my brain was about to explode with all the thinking whilst my body was in pain with the sickness I had.

Yet in my despair, what could I do but cry out to God, and wait on Him.

During that night of restless sleep I picked up a devotional book and I read over some familiar verses about waiting.

Psalm 27:14
Wait on the LORD;Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the LORD!

Psalm 39:7
And now, Lord, what do I wait for?
My hope is in You.

Psalm 40:1
I waited patiently for the LORD;
And He inclined to me, And heard my cry.

I knew I had to wait patiently on God to restore my health, to guide me one step at a time as to what to do with the plans I had for the coming days, and to trust that He will take care of me, my husband, my children and my house!

As it turned out, the following day I was no better and my husband organised for the children to be out of the house all day, while I spent the day in bed, reading, sleeping, and I was able to catch up on a bit of light housework.

He heard my cries, He knew what I needed and He provided for me, and I praised Him for it.

That morning in my reading I read over another familiar, favourite verse.

Psalm 50:15
Call upon Me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

More cupcakes and great recipe sites

The felt cupcakes I talked about in my previous post inspired inspired me to make some real ones! I googled the words 'easy cupcakes' and the first recipe that came up was from one of my favourite recipe sites.

I have been looking through all my cookbooks for an easy cupcake recipe and most of them required 5-6 eggs and beating butter and sugar together, which sounded like too much work for me! But this recipe required only 2 eggs, and no beating, the hardest thing was melting the butter in the microwave! And they turned out great, and very yummy! Check out all the comments about the cupcakes from those who have made them, there are some good tips about variations to the recipe. I am also looking forward to trying the Double chocolate cupcakes.

In the holidays I am planning a teddy Bear's picnic for my eldest daughter and her friends. I will make a batch of cupcakes (probably the small muffin size) which they can ice and decorate themselves, and then they can make some pretend cupcakes for their teddies!

My mum used to arrange craft days for my friends in the holidays, these were very memorable to me and I am sure to some of my school friends whose mums weren't very crafty!

I look forward to getting to know my daughter's friends more, and I love watching little girls create things, they come up with such beautiful things!

One other recipe I love from the site is a Broccoli and pasta bake. This recipe is also super easy and great for a crowd of people.

I came across another recipe site called cooking by numbers. I haven't as yet used any of the recipes, but the concept is good, you click on what ingredients you have in your cupboard and it comes up with a list of recipes that use the stuff you have. It would be great resource for giving ideas for new recipes and inspiration for when you just don't know what to cook for tea!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Felt food frenzy

I have been addicted to making felt food this past weekend!

I have been in a sewing/crafty mood lately. I have seen several blogs with felt food featured, but I haven't really been inspired to try making anything until I stumbled across some pictures of cupcakes. I suddenly had to give it a try!

So here are some photos of what I came up with.

Here are the cupcakes.

I made a cake with removable decorations and candles and tea bags.

Some donuts and strawberries.

Here it all is, ready for a tea party! I want to try making a pizza next with removable toppings.

If you would like to try making cupcakes, here is a blog which had a step by step tutorial on how to do it.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Spring has sprung!

Spring has always been my favourite season, here's why.

  • I love the way it's starting to get lighter in the mornings, I can enjoy a sunrise in quietness before my kids get out of bed!
  • The sun is so clear and warm, perfect for falling asleep under;
  • I love watching all the leaves come back on the trees, roses budding, and flowers blooming;
  • Its great to dig out shorts, skirts, t-shirts and sandals, to have a change from the Winter wardrobe!;
  • Being able to take the cover off the sandpit and watching my kids spend hours digging in the sand;
  • Getting stuck into the gardening, I don't mind weeding if it's an excuse to be outside in the sunshine;
  • Just being outside with my kids watching them playing with caterpillars, worms, and butterflies, riding their bikes, scooters, running around;
  • Going for walks and looking at all the gardens starting to bloom;
  • Celebrating our wedding anniversary cause I always wanted to get married in Spring (the best time of year for flowers!);
  • Revisiting places like the park and beach which have been a no go zone for a while during the cold and wet Winter;
  • Exploring my dad's and father in law's gardens, they are some much more interesting than my young 2 and 1/2 year old garden!
  • Spring cleaning and sorting!

I didn't realised how much I liked about Spring until I started writing stuff down!

I am so thankful that there are different seasons, it is so wonderful to have a change.

My husband bought two small grapevines last year and for the past 2 months we thought they were dead, I was ready to chuck them out. But the other day I saw some small green leaves start to appear.

Of course they had been dormant for the Winter, but I didn't realise how 'dead looking' they would get! But that was just for a season, now its time for growth.

I read that it's through the Winter when vines should be pruned, when they are dormant. It reminded me how sometimes in our lives when we are struggling it may appear that we are 'dead' or not going anywhere but that's probably when we are being pruned.

God is doing a deeper work within us even though on the outside it may appear that we are dormant or 'dead looking'. I shared this with a friend the other day who is struggling with their feelings about God. We may feel far away from God during this time, but He is doing a deeper work in us and its only for season that we may feel like this.

The grapevine needs to be dormant for a while so it can be pruned, so it can bear fruit in the proper season. During the Winter many of us experience times of sickness, isolation, weariness, because there is less sun, it is cold, we are more prone to illness - but God allows this season for deeper growth, to prepare us for the time when we will bear fruit.

So I am thankful for the change in seasons, and I look forward to seeing the fruit on the trees and the roses on the bushes!!

"To everything there is a season,

A time for every purpose under heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:1

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Reality check

Yesterday was a reality check day for me.

I was fighting with lies and thoughts in my mind which made me feel unloved. I should have seen it coming as we have just finished the book, "Lies Young Women believe". I felt attacked and struck down, but God in His great mercy allowed that time for me to take a reality check and examine my heart.

I am thankful for such a wonderful husband who, God sent to minister to me and serve me. But it wasn't until this morning after spending time with the Lord, that I realised how much I needed yesterday.

I needed to experience the victory, needed to examine my heart and confess, needed my husband to minister to me and to allow him to, needed this morning with God.

When I was feeling low, I even battled with the thought that God can't really make me happy, is He really out there, is He enough? I couldn't believe I was having those thoughts, I know the truth so well, but I pushed them out of my mind, and God sent along my husband to help me through!

Its so easy to get caught up in doing things, and if everything is all going well, there's a part of me that thinks I am doing OK and don't need God as much, but I am so thankful that He reminds me how much I need to surrender everything to Him, that when I am doing it in my strength I am doing it my way, not His!

This morning I reflected on this truth from the book I mentioned earlier.

When you want things to go YOUR way
Its not about me; it's all about Him (Colossians 1:116-18; Revelation 4:11)!
The world was not created to revolve around us. The entire universe was created to revolve around Christ. If our goal in life is to be happy or accepted or loved, than anything that threatens our well-being will be an enemy - an obstacle to fulfilling our objective. On the other hand, once we agree with God that we exist for His pleasure and glory, we can accept whatever comes into our lives as part of His sovereign will and purpose. We will not resent, resist, or reject the "hard things", but embrace them as "friends," designed by God to make us like Jesus and to bring glory to Himself.

I am thankful for this "friend" that God allowed to come into my life yesterday, it was a reminder about how much I need Him, and its all about Him.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I need to abide

"I am the vine you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruits; for without Me you can do nothing."

Sometimes I get so busy, and think I am doing well...cause I am doing lots of stuff, but I am not abiding, I don't take the time to really connect with the vine, to linger at the Saviours feet.

In Bible Study today we learned about abiding, and how we are not going to bear 'much fruit' by doing more, by working longer and harder. The 'much fruit' is only produced when we are 'abiding' in Him. I need to spend less time working for Christ and more time with Christ.

That challenging passage about Mary and Martha was brought up, "And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving........'Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.'" Luke 10:39-42

Mary wasn't being lazy, she just knew the one thing that was needed, to spend time with Jesus, that was more important than doing things for Him, she wanted to be with Him, and the amazing part is that He wanted to be with her too!

My time with Jesus is a huge priority for me every day, each morning I delight in spending time with Him before everyone else is awake, but its through my day that I need to put that time aside for Him as well.

There are many times I hear Him prompting me.. 'just sit down and talk to Me, don't worry about folding the washing, the dishes, I will provide you with the opportunity to do them later, right now while the children are happily playing outside, sit down with Me, read My word and listen to what I have to say to you. I want to give you an abundant life, full of joy in Me...'

It is so hard to stop sometimes, but every time I do it, my soul is deeply satisfied, my strength is renewed, my heart is refreshed, I am no longer 'worried and troubled about many things'.

"Do you face seemingly insurmountable obstacles to abiding? Remember Mary's choice, the circumstances in which it happened, and the favour it brought her. Remember Susannah Wesley. A busy mother of more than a dozen boisterous kids (John and Charles among them), Susannah found a way to abide. Whenever she put a bag over her head every Wesley child knew not to interrupt - Mother was spending time with God. And the fruit from Susannah Wesley's life (she's one of the most important figures in revival history) is still being counted.

Maybe today you should go looking for an old grocery bag!"
(Taken from Secrets of the Vine devotional)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I wish the tooth fairy was real

My oldest daughter lost her first tooth on Saturday! It was a rather dramatic experience, there was no lead up to it, it wasn't wobbling, it just came out - with lots of blood!

We were in the car on our way back from Ikea and she just started crying and she had her tooth in a tissue and blood coming out. The blood was what made her cry, she hates it! It was very exciting to see her lose her first tooth, but I haven't seen her cry so much for a long time!

Her brother was not so tolerant of the crying he said, 'Mummy, I just can't deal with all this crying!'

After a while the bleeding stopped, and was rather proud of her lost tooth. She looks very cute with one tooth missing.

Most of her friends at school have already lost one or more teeth, so she has heard lots about the tooth fairy. She asked her father a few weeks ago if the tooth fairy was real, and he, 'but I can come and put some money under your pillow.' She has yet to believe him, that the tooth fairy is not real, and she did not want him to put money under her pillow.

She has been waiting since Saturday night for the real tooth fairy to come, today she has written a note to the tooth fairy to tell her about her tooth - I wish she was real, I hate it when my kids get disappointed. But her friends at school tell her that they have seen the tooth fairy and that she has come to their house, so she is determined to wait for her, although I can sense an element of disappointment that she has not come yet, I think she must feel forgotten.

It will be an interesting lesson for her to learn, she will keep waiting and she will not come. I am so glad though that I can pass on to her the truths about Jesus and that He is real. And to teach her about the wonder of prayer, and waiting, and that though there are not fairies, there are angels all around looking after her, fighting hard to keep away the evil that is lurking about. And that one day Jesus will come back, that when we look up into the clouds, that is a reminder that one day He will return in the clouds. I am so glad I can pass on these truths to her, I look forward to the days when she sees God at work in her life and in the life of her family, when it hits her that He really is real and that He is all powerful!

Still the idea of a tooth fairy is so nice, I wish she was real...!