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!

Friday, 29 July 2016

Ascribe Greatness {WEEK 1 - lettering challenge}

This has been a crazy couple of weeks. Planning and tidying up school related things. Getting ready for Holiday Bible Club. A little boy having hernia repair surgery. And then, this week, the crazy, but rewarding, that is Holiday Bible Club. I. Am. Wrecked. It's 7.30pm, and if I didn't have a high maintenance 5 month old who doesn't go down for the night until silly o'clock, I would be in my BED!!!! (I think I am getting old....)


I am SO excited to be starting off with my FIRST EVER lettering prompt series, starting on MONDAY!!! 

As long as I can remember, I have LOVED singing. I sang in the school choir. I learned to sing alto when I was quite young, just by listening to the older ladies in the Church singing. I love to lift my voice in praise to God. In Church. In the car. In the home. I love to sing. 

The words matter to me. 

If your singing of Christian praise is NOT about the words, but only the emotion or the music, then there is something wrong. You've missed the purpose of praise in song. I digress.

I was travelling with Robert to a wedding, recently, and we were, as we often are, listening to Christian praise - hymns and songs. I was thinking about some of the words that I hold very dear, and I thought "these would make great lettering prompts!"  Sometimes it was only a word or two, sometimes a phrase or line. Some hymns have whole verses that are precious to me. The wonderful thing about hymns is that, for each of us, the Lord may use different words to speak life to us, whilst we worship HIM! It's a perfect combo for lettering, I reckon.

I scoured through Instagram, but couldn't find any obvious challenges revolving around hymns and songs, so it was a perfect opportunity!

I made a list of some of my all time favourites. They are mostly traditional "older" hymns, but some are more modern. All of them have solid Christian doctrine and scriptural basis, and have an amazing depth. In some ways, they just don't write 'em like they used to! Maybe there are many you don't know at all, because you've only  known more modern worship? Don't miss out on these superb words of praise. 

Every week I will either share the words or a link to sites where  you can find the words to these hymns, so that you can find them easily if they are unfamiliar to you, or if you don't have a hymn book that has them. (I don't think any one hymn book will have them all, anyway!)

So, from August the 1st, jump in and join us on Instagram and Facebook. You  don't need to be able to write "fancy", but maybe this would make a great opportunity for you to jump in and join with learning lettering? A great way to be creative and relax over the summer, whilst dwelling on these great words of praise and worship. 

(This whole endeavour has sent me on an educational trip all around hymn copyright! It's involving maths, and working out dates and years!!!)

1. I lift my heart to thee

I lift my heart to Thee, Saviour divine;
For Thou art all to me, and I am Thine;
Is there on earth a closer bond than this,
That my Belovèd’s mine, and I am His?
Thine am I by all ties; but chiefly Thine,
That through Thy sacrifice Thou, Lord, art mine.
By thine own cords of love, so sweetly wound,
Around me, I to Thee am closely bound.
To Thee, Thou bleeding Lamb, I all things owe—
All that I have, and am, and all I know.
All that I have is now no longer mine,
And I am not mine own; Lord, I am Thine.
How can I, Lord, withhold life’s brightest hour
From Thee; or gathered gold, or any power?
Why should I keep one precious thing from Thee;
When Thou hast giv’n Thine own dear self for me?
I pray Thee, Savior, keep me in Thy love,
Until death’s holy sleep shall me remove
To that fair realm where, sin and sorrow o’er,
Thou and Thine own are one forevermore.

Charles E. Maudie (1872)

2.  When peace like a river

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought—
My sin—not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
But, Lord, ‘tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh trump of the angel! Oh voice of the Lord!
Blessèd hope, blessèd rest of my soul!
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so—it is well with my soul.

Horatio Spafford (1873) 

3. His robes for mine

Find the lyrics here. This a new hymn, but the words are incredible. I first heard it three years ago,
 when tragedy struck the heart of a Church where I had visited in Indianapolis. The youth pastor, 
and his wife - Chuck and Courtney Phelps - their unborn baby, and a lady from their congregation,
 Tonya Weindorf, all tragically lost their lives in a coach accident, returning from camp. 
This is a hymn that was sung at their funeral, which I watched via livestream. 
The words really challenged me, especially the words at the end of the chorus. 
"Bought by such love, my life is not my own.
My praise-my all-shall be for Christ alone."  Their lives were lived faithfully for the Saviour, and I want my life to be lived the same way. 

This site has many newly written hymns. They marry up wonderful words and beautiful melodies. They make them free to use and print for worship, because they desire that God should be praised more than making money. You will be blessed by the hymns you will find there. 

4. Great is thy faithfulness

Find the words here. This is one of my all time favourites, because my heart is so thankful for God's faithfulness to me. 

5. Come, thou fount of every blessing

(I've added this one as it was written, although it's not in the format I am used to singing it - we have some parts skipped out, to make three verses.)

Come, Thou fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.
Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I’ll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothèd then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send Thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.

6. When all thy mercies

(Another one that had many more verses than I am accustomed to, but I loved how it tells
 a life story of God's mercy!)

When all Thy mercies, O my God,
My rising soul surveys,
Transported with the view, I’m lost
In wonder, love and praise.
O, how shall words with equal warmth
The gratitude declare,
That glows within my ravished heart!
But Thou canst read it there.
Thy providence my life sustained,
And all my wants redressed,
While in the silent womb I lay,
And hung upon the breast.
To all my weak complaints and cries
Thy mercy lent an ear,
Ere yet my feeble thoughts had learned
To form themselves in prayer.
Unnumbered comforts to my soul
Thy tender care bestowed,
Before my infant heart conceived
From whom those comforts flowed.
When in the slippery paths of youth
With heedless steps I ran,
Thine arm unseen conveyed me safe,
And led me up to man.
Through hidden dangers, toils, and death,
It gently cleared my way;
And through the pleasing snares of vice,
More to be feared than they.
When worn with sickness, oft hast Thou
With health renewed my face;
And when in sins and sorrows sunk,
Revived my soul with grace.
Thy bounteous hand with worldly bliss
Hath made my cup run o’er;
And, in a kind and faithful friend,
Hath doubled all my store.
Ten thousand thousand precious gifts
My daily thanks employ;
Nor is the least a cheerful heart
That tastes those gifts with joy.
Through every period of my life
Thy goodness I’ll pursue
And after death, in distant worlds,
The glorious theme renew.
When nature fails, and day and night
Divide Thy works no more,
My ever grateful heart, O Lord,
Thy mercy shall adore.
Through all eternity to Thee
A joyful song I’ll raise;
For, oh, eternity’s too short
To utter all Thy praise!

Joseph Addison (1712)

7. How sweet the name of Jesus sounds

(We have just finished Holiday Bible Club. Our "Missionary story" was about John Newton! 
What a life of testimony to God's redemption and grace! I live just a few miles from where he 
ministered, in Olney)

How sweet the name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.
It makes the wounded spirit whole,
And calms the troubled breast;
’Tis manna to the hungry soul,
And to the weary, rest.
Dear name, the rock on which I build,
My shield and hiding place,
My never failing treasury, filled
With boundless stores of grace!
By Thee my prayers acceptance gain,
Although with sin defiled;
Satan accuses me in vain,
And I am owned a child.
Jesus! my shepherd, husband, friend,
O prophet, priest and king,
My Lord, my life, my way, my end,
Accept the praise I bring.
Weak is the effort of my heart,
And cold my warmest thought;
But when I see Thee as Thou art,
I’ll praise Thee as I ought.
Till then I would Thy love proclaim
With every fleeting breath,
And may the music of Thy name
Refresh my soul in death!

John Newton (1779)

There you have it. All the hymns for the first week of #ascribe_greatness, starting

I hope you join with me, and that your heart is truly blessed by these great hymns. 

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Lettering {which tools do I use?}

So, a quick second post about lettering.

The last post I told you about where I get my inspiration, so I thought I could now share about the pens/brushes I use.

It's been a journey, really. As I started off with Bible Journaling, I started off with pens for that, and progressed from there. I have two photos for you, and I will talk you through them all, and tell you where you can buy them.

1. Staedtler Triplus Fineliner

This is one of the first pens I started with. They come in a fantastic range of colours, but in order to do calligraphy type, you need to do "faux calligraphy".  For this, you need to add a second line on the downstrokes of your letters. Then, fill it in. I have demonstrated this technique on the photo. It works well, but you can sometimes end up with very tiny lines where you don't "keep in the lines". It's probably imperceptible, but I see it! lol  You can get these pens many places, including Amazon (UK) . 

2-4. Pigma Micron 

These come in a variety of thicknesses and colours. These pens, and the Staedtler Fineliners, are both pretty good for using in Bibles, as they don't bleed unless you do very thick and heavy lines. The very fine ones are great for print style lettering, or for very small lettering. All these first 4 pens don't work very well on watercolour paper, though, as they tend to gouge into the heavier weight, with their harder tips. 

This (UK) set has a good range of the nib sizes, all in black, including a brush pen (which I just don't like at all) and a thicker "graphic" tip, which is a nice thick tip for solid lines. You can also get them in sets with colours, but with that you have to decide on one nib size, as they are all the same in the multi-coloured pack. 

5. & 9. ( 9 is in the image below) Tombow Dual Brush Pens

These are a MASSIVE treat to myself. I got them for a knockdown price (with the pre-Brexit exchange rate!), and a friend who was returning to the UK kindly delivered them to me, so no postage costs!! I got the full set of 96, and have been LOVING them. I had already bought the primary set from Amazon to try them out, and had fallen in love with them. It's these pens that I have used for my entire series of pictures that went with the #animalpartychallenge on IG. Because they are water based, you can blend them on watercolour paper with a brush and water. You can also blend two colours together and create your own blends (simply just blending them on a piece of plastic)! The tips are self cleaning, so the new ink runs through and it goes back to the original colour. One end has the brush tip pen, and the other end is a finer nib. It takes a bit of practice to master using these (I initially didn't like them, because I didn't crack it as quickly as I wanted to!!! - patience.... ), but once you have, they write like silk. The textures and tones are beautiful, especially on very smooth paper. These are best for doing BIG lettering, although some people seem to be able to achieve much smaller text than I can! 

If are wanting to get serious about your lettering, the 96 box set is a very sound investment, as it's a lot cheaper per pen than buying the smaller packs. It's also massively reduced in price over this side of the Atlantic, compared to a matter of months ago when it was over £200 to buy it!!! 

6. Pentel Fude Touch Sign Pen

These pens are the ones that are able to give a lovely look to a more "normal" sized lettering. As with all the brush tips, you need to master the basic technique of modern calligraphy to be able to use them best. The ladies in my last post have videos that demonstrate the technique - think upstroke, thick down stroke. You can get practice drill sheets for this on many sites - free and "pay for" ones. 

These pens are a bit trickier to track down in the UK. The cheapest way I have found to purchase them is from an Etsy store. They come in a range of colours, and you can get the full set of 12 for £17 including shipping from Japan. You have to be patient, as it takes time to get here! If you can't wait, you can also get them here for a little more money.

I really love the gold and silver in the multi-pack, and the black is a pretty fundamental piece of kit, in my opinion.

7 & 8. Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen - soft tip and hard tip

These, like the black sign pen above, as what I would consider "essential" if you are serious about lettering. They give slightly different effects. The soft one gives a thicker line, and the hard one gives a very fine line on your upstroke.  These are available on Amazon, and are best value in a 5 pack - soft and hard are both available in these 5 packs.

10. Pentel Aquash Water Brush

I love, love, LOVE this tool!!!! This is a watercolour brush, in essence, but has a water barrel attached. You can either fill the barrel with liquid watercolour inks, or keep dipping it into liquid or solid watercolours. I just love the variation in tone that you get with each stroke. It's simply beautiful. There are three sizes available - think medium and thick brushes. Obviously you can achieve a different look with each. They aren't overly expensive, and are available as a three pack on Amazon. These absolutely work best on watercolour paper, as it's far more absorbent than other papers.

11. Paintbrush (I used a Taklon Size 3)

A good old fashioned paintbrush is also a tool you can use. This is one of the ones I found hardest to crack, and I still don't feel I have mastered it completely, but it gives a lovely effect. Again, like the Aquash brush, you have to use watercolours with it. But, you have to keep dipping it into either water then paint, or a liquid watercolour. I found I had to get my grip right with a paintbrush, moreso than other pens, and also the quality of paintbrush MASSIVELY matters. A round brush is best, and don't just use a child's cheap one. You just won't get the brush to move smoothly enough, in my experience.

So, there we have it.

Those are the pens and brushes that I use, and my limited experience with them so far! You don't need expensive pens to get lettering. You can even use Sharpies (which I have never tried!) or Crayola supertips!

Just grab a pen and start trying, and then take it from there!

I think I also need to do posts demonstrating each of these pens, just to give a better idea about how they write and look. No promises as to a time scale for doing that, but I will get started ASAP.  Any questions, just ask away in the comments below, or find me on IG @thejoyfulkeeper and ask there. I will also start trying to record which pens I have used on my IG pictures.

I am SO far from being a pro at this, so I hope this has been useful!?

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

When the Master calls {how we respond in trials}

I am confident that I am not alone in my observation that there is a distinct difference in nature and personalities between my children. The more I have, the more i see the difference. Even though I have 9 children, I can safely say that no two of them are very alike in personality, nor really in looks. They are all individuals, with a God-given personality that makes them "themselves".

I was reading the passage about the death of Lazarus, the other day. I was struck, again, like I have previously been when reading the "cumbered about" account, that Mary and Martha, although sisters, had quite distinct personalities.

Mary is the quiet, more withdrawn one. I can imagine her, quietly sitting beside Jesus, listening to Him teaching. Martha. She's the one I relate to more. The one who is more bustly, busy, and quick to speak, instead of listening. And yet, passionate in her devotion.

These differences are seen once again in this narrative. IF you remember, the news that Lazarus was sick came to Jesus. He seemed His usual, calm self, and told the messengers it was fine. Don't worry. He's not sick to die. He, in fact, said it was going to be to God's glory.

Let's pause. What a great reminder. Trials come into our lives, and we should realise, right at the onset, that all these things happen for God's glory. It's not so much the incident that glorifies God - rather how we respond to it, and how we deal with it. We don't all get the outcome that Lazarus did, but we still have the God-given opportunity to give praise and glory to the one who "hath done all things well".

Jesus, the one who they KNEW was a miracle worker, announces he is going to just sit where he is for a couple of days. THEN, he decides to go to Bethany, whilst announcing to His disciples that Lazarus is, in fact, already dead. But not dead. Just sleeping. His disciples were understandably confused, but just accepted, and travelled with Him. The purpose for the delay was explained by Jesus, again.

"And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe"

This was all an exercise in faith and trust. It was to point people to His saving power. So that they would know He was GOD.

Pausing again. THAT is why we are allowed to go through struggles and trials. So that others may see GOD in it all. His power. His glory. His perfect will.

He carries on along the road.

Martha hears He is nearby and comes rushing to Him.

Mary sits in the house.

There we have it, again. Two different personalities. Two different natures. Two different ways of approaching the Saviour.

Martha rushes to Him, with a slight accusation, and yet GREAT faith and trust in who Jesus is.

"Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee."

Oh, I LOVE that "but I KNOW".

She knew that Jesus could have prevented his death. But, OH, she knew he could also bring him back to life!!! Such enormous trust and faith.

I SO need more of that faith. TO be in the middle of sad and serious circumstances but to KNOW that Jesus can work it all out, because He is God, and He just can. My faith is so weak.

Jesus then ascertains her understanding of who He is, and what he is capable of. Upon her acknowledgement, she rushes back to Mary, telling her

"The Master is come, and calleth for thee"

I LOVE Mary's response. Yes, she had stayed where she was, when Martha had run to meet Jesus. But,

"As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him."

The Master called, and she jumped to do His bidding.

This made me think of times of trial and difficulty. On difficult days, do we jump to do what Jesus requires of us, or do we sit wallowing in our trials until we feel like being obedient and submissive to the situation we are in?  The Word of God is to be obeyed no matter how down or sad we are feeling. Our feelings don't hold a candle to the importance of being followers of Jesus who come when we are called.

The Lord calls us to be so many things. And those things don't change just because life is hard, or we are facing a bad day. No. We are still to seek Him and follow Him. Not everyone responds the same way to trials and struggles. We may be the kind of people who need to talk to others - we jump up and rush to Him like Martha did. Others may internalise their struggles, quietly - we may sit quietly alone, and then respond as soon as we hear His "Words" whispered to our heart, like Mary. But, obey we must. Seek Him, we must. Be in His presence, we must.

Mary and Martha were tested in a deep way. The whole situation was so emotive that Jesus, himself, wept. When He saw His dear friends in such agony of spirit, He, too, wept, even though He KNEW what He was about to do! He knew the end from the beginning, but was still touched by their sadness.

Jesus sees our sadness. He weeps with those who weep.

But, He still requires that we follow Him and obey His bidding.

Those sisters went through an agonising few days, but just look at the outcome! Their faith was rewarded, and God was glorified in an amazing way. That trial was used for good.

Many Jews saw that He was the Saviour and put their faith in Him.

It also set in motion the events that would lead to Jesus' death.

God's ways are perfect. Trials come, but we need to still be ready to jump up at His bidding, and obey Him in every part of our lives, no matter how we are feeling. WE may come weeping and sad, but come, we must. Come to the one who is control of the situation we find ourselves in, and place our trust entirely in Him, knowing that "all things work together for good".

No matter the situation you find yourself in, run to the Saviour, obey His bidding, and wait to see the great things He has in store to His glory.