Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Chatting on the farmhouse porch {hello, sun!}

Everyday Ruralty

Goooood MOrning Patrice!!! Sun is a-shining here, and if it is still nice tomorrow, I plan to be outside with our friends who are coming to visit. 

For today, it's a quick chat with you, then carrying on with tidying and getting ready for them staying overnight. 

  1. Do you enjoy grocery shopping?
Well, this is something I can answer easily.  Yes, I do.  

Why such a quick answer? 

Simply because it only involves me sitting with the laptop and clicking.  Yes, I order my grocery shopping online, and it is delivered to my door.  The number of friends in America who DROOL over this prospect, is amazing. 

There are pros and cons to this system.  

Pros are - it doesn't take long; I get it delivered when the children are around and they help put it away; no trailing around the shops with 7 children when pregnant; did I say it's quick? (there is a list of my favourites, and I just scroll down it, clicking...); no germy trolley handles; no temptations to impulse buy.  

The cons are - I probably miss out on certain offers and deals, as I don't always look at them online; I don't get the reduced item bargains; I only have the choice of that one shop, as it would start to become economically senseless to pay delivery to get things from a variety of stores.

There are probably pros and cons, more than I listed, but these are the ones I can think of just now. 

It takes only minutes to order, and then put things away when they are delivered.  Did I say it was quick?! For me, time saved is a MASSIVE thing. 

2.  Are you following any particular news stories?

News?  What is "news"???  We have no TV, so we don't get it on there.  I very rarely have the radio on at a news hour, and we don't get newspapers.  The only news I see is when I sign in to my emails, and anything that is shared on FB!

I guess the only "news" I am "following" is waiting for the Duchess of Cambridge to have her Royal Baby!  Yes, I am that shallow.....

3.  How do you feel about all of the technology we have today? Is it too much, just right, or not enough?

I feel that technology is a great blessing, but if not used properly, like ANYTHING, it can be a curse. I know that the Internet has blessed my immensely - all the friends I have made - some have carried through to meeting IRL, many I may never meet this side of heaven. The number of encouraging websites and blogs that the Lord has used to challenge my heart and life.

I love my household technology - as in, my washing machine, drier, oven, central heating, iron.  They all make my life so much easier than life was even 60 years ago! 

I think we all have to find the right level for our own lives.  We can't ignore it, like the Amish, but it can over-run our lives.  I love having days when we go out, and leave it all behind and have a day in the outdoors.  Life is more peaceful without it, as it all carries some element of noise.  Even as I sit typing, it makes noise.  I think we would notice the peace, if they were all turned off!

4.  On a scale of 1-10(1 being the least) how much do you worry?

Just a tad over 1.  I think maybe a little higher at points. I am generally a fairly laid back person, and I try not worry.  as my lovely husband points out, it is a sin to worry.  I really do try and rest on the Lord, and trust in Him, and not to worry. The only times it jumps up, is if something happens to a child, and until I know exactly what is going on, I guess my heart would jump to anxiety and concern.  Even, when I had my bleed, I wasn't worried.  I was sad at the possibility that the pregnancy was ending, but not worried.  I knew that it was in God's hands, and there was no need for me to worry.  I think other people were worried about the amount of bleeding I was having, but I wasn't!!! 

5.  Without any of your responsibilities or concern with how you would accomplish this, what would your three dream jobs be?

Oh, this is a fun question!! 

I ALWAYS wanted to be a florist when I was younger! I think it would be lovely to work with beautiful flowers all day.

I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to have a tea shop.  To do my own baking and have others come and enjoy it.  I would love to do that with my girls.

Hmmm, what would number 3 be??..... a food critic, and get to eat at fancy restaurants?.... a photographer?.... not sure, really! I would NOT go back to being a health professional.  It's too stressful.  

Right, onward and upward.  Have a great day, Patrice. 

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Proverbs 31 Ponderings {The dutiful seamstress?}

It's been a looooong while since I started looking at the Proverbs 31 woman, but, to be fair, I *DID* say that I was not going to promise with what regularity the posts were to be delivered!  I have decided I need to come back to looking at her, having been pondering it myself, for various reasons.

We come in our look at the Proverbs 31 woman, to some areas that may cast fear into the souls of some women.

They do, that is, if you take every single word in literally, and think you have to obey it to the letter.

"She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands."
verse 13

Some of you are going to see the words "wool, flax and hands", and run to the hills - as far as you can get from the nearest wool shop or haberdashery.  The words "knit, crochet and sew", cast fear into your very soul.

"PLEASE don't tell me I have to start making my own clothes... PLEASE?", I may hear you plead.

However, fear not!!!  I do NOT believe that this is the spirit of what this verse is going to teach us.  

We do NOT live in Israel, sometime in the BCs, or even the early ADs.  We live firmly planted in modern day Britain, (ok, modern day SOMEWHERE) in 2013.  We live in the land of Debenhams, of H&M and of Next. (Department stores, US folks...department stores)  

You're getting my drift, right?  We don't make our own clothes any more, on the whole.  Some still do, but it's not for lack of possible places to buy them from.  Our world is full of places to buy clothes from.  I do believe, that for those of us who like to dress our girls in skirts, and modest ones at that, that it is becoming increasingly harder to FIND any that are pretty and modest.  I am actually intending to get my sewing machine into use, and start making or adapting other skirts, to be more like how we prefer them to be.  (My newly created sewing corner of my kitchen will be another blog post of its own!....)

However, the spirit of this verse, I believe, is not necessarily to do with making things yourself.  There are many ladies who I admire greatly, because they are able to so capably make a skirt, or sew some other marvel.  Contrary to what many may think, there is nowhere in the Bible that tells you that you are a sinner, or even some kind of second-grade housewife, if you don't make your own clothes.  There can be a lot of pressure given and felt, when you see what amazing things other ladies can do.  You can perhaps feel that you are not up to scratch if you don't even try.  But, we need to be careful not to be legalistic, especially when we are not even COMMANDED to do such a thing!

However, it does not mean that this verse is not of any importance to us, or there is nothing to learn from it.

You are about to get a mini grammar lesson here, so brace yourself! It's the verbs and the adverb that we need to focus on.  THEY tell us the meaning of this verse for us modern-day women.

"seeketh"             "worketh"          "willingly"

(For those who are not sure, the first two are verbs and the third is an adverb! *wink* )

"Seeking", "working" and "being willing" are concepts that stand alone, and are applicable to us today.

First we have the WHAT we have to do.  We need to hunt down, and work to find the clothing that our household needs. If you have ever looked for modest clothing, I am sure you understand how much looking and working it requires to find the clothes we need!  No matter what your standards of clothing, it takes EFFORT to find clothing.  Whatever your search parameters are, you need to put effort into finding thr type of clothes worn in your household.  Maybe you are driven, through necessity, to buy clothes cheaply.  It's certainly an issue that we have to think about in our family, clothing so many! (Although, we hand down a lot, but that's another story....) If that is the case, the seeking may require going to charity shops or looking on ebay! I have a friend, Lydia, who, to me, is the Queen of charity shopping and ebay.  She regularly gets some brilliant deals, and I long to be as good a shopper as she is! I *DID* manage to get a skirt for Abi for just 50p on ebay the other week.  I know that shipping has become more expensive, but as I live in the middle of nowhere, it's still worth it for me. When I consider that the shops are simply not selling what I am looking for AT ALL, then I am willing to pay what it costs to buy it.

Then, there is the heart issue dealt with in the adverb.  HOW we do it.  "Willingly".  We need to be a wife and mother that is WILLING to manage our resources well.  We need to care about being faithful stewards of our money, and about what our family is wearing. I will deal more with the details of that concept when we get further down the chapter. We need to be willing to put in the effort to clothe our family, rather than have them running around in ripped, dirty, old and tatty clothes.  It may take effort, but there is no reason, in this day and age of those who cast off things so quickly, to not find things that look reasonable and well kept. I actually believe it can be a poor testimony to us, as Christians, if we do not look after our family's clothing.

Maybe your working willingly with your hands is typing words into a search engine, to find the right clothes, for the right price, for your own situation!??

This working can also include mending things. I have endlessly mended ripped and torn clothing - taken up hems - sewn on buttons.  We have to be willing to keep our clothing looking smart and presentable. Again, it's not a good testimony to look like we don't care about the things that are in our possession. Whatever we do, should be to God's glory.  I believe we glorify Him by not looking like tramps! Plus, as we can see from this chapter, how we dress DOES matter. Again, I will deal with this more at a later date.

So, there you see.  You don't have to worry about skirting (HA!!) around this verse, because you are worried that you are expected to become a professional seamstress.  It's more about making sure we clothe our family well, than HOW we do it.  If you want to make everything yourself - carry on!! Just don't expect me to do it, too!

Please feel free to chime in on the comments, if you have your own perspective on this verse.


Monday, 24 June 2013

Monday morning blues {and God's Word as the antidote!}

How do you feel on a Monday morning? Do you struggle to get going after a more relaxing weekend?  Do you find it hard to get your mind and body back into the routine of the working week?

For me, this Monday is particularly hard.  We educate with a 4-day week currently.  That may change somewhat when the children get older ant it takes longer to get all their work done.  However, for just now, a 4-day week it is.  Normally, we have a Monday off. If we have something we need to do later in the week, as a family, we switch things around and we have to do school on a MONDAY! Horror of horrors!!! For me, it adds an extra element of busyness.  I don't have that extra day to recover from the weekend, and get jobs done, I have to be ready to hit the ground running on a Monday morning.  I am not entirely sure how much of the rest of the world manages Monday mornings!!

When I got up this morning, my feet were metaphorically dragging on the ground.  I even managed to hit snooze on the alarm, instead of off - my half asleep mind KNOWING that, allowed me to go back to sleep, instead of getting up when I should have.  Starting even 10 minutes behind had me in a mental "blah" mode.

Thankfully, it wasn't late enough to stand in the way of having my quiet time. Whatever way your day starts, try and make even a few moments to read God's Word.  It is there to encourage us and bless us, and making time for it will  never be a disservice.  God is so good, because He knew I would need a challenge to set me up for the week, and my daily readings brought me to the first 4 chapters of Exodus.  There is SO much in there, and there were many things that struck me this morning.

It was the bravery and courage of 2 ladies - Shiprah and Puah - which struck me this morning. Not all the ladies of the Bible (nor the men) are mentioned by name, and so when they are, my ears prick up.  These are the Hebrew midwives, who chose NOT to kill the male children who were born.

On a side note, the picture of Pharaoh and his attitude toward life, was a stark reminder of how many view life today - the massive ending of early life, in the womb, around the world - selective abortion of little girls, and gendercide upon the birth of many baby girls around the world.  The fact is, millions of people, rather than just one dictator, are choosing death over life - it makes my heart sad beyond words.

However, Shiprah and Puah have a more positive message for us this morning.  The phrase that struck me was this

"but the midwives feared God"

The midwives' opinion of God mattered more to them than the opinions of man.  They feared, respected or revered GOD, more than Pharaoh.  Now, do not forget that Pharaoh was a mighty man, humanly speaking.  He held the power of life and death, and he was, after all, placing a death sentence upon all the Hebrew boys.  Could he not, too, do the same for all Hebrew midwives?  You may have thought that THAT caused them to fear more than anything else.  But,  no.  They had a God-given courage, which made them care more about GOD thought, than what MAN thought.

THAT is the message that challenged me this morning. Fearing and respecting God - looking for HIS approval above that of those around me.

There are so many challenges facing us, as women, on a day to day basis, where we have to choose whether to look for the "well done " of God, or of man.  Most of the time, we have to make a choice - we can't have it every way.  Whether it be our choice to stay at home and be a mother at all -  our convictions about education - what we wear - what we choose to do in our free time as entertainment - who we allow our children to play with - choosing to obey God and be a submissive, Christ-honouring wife, rather than an independent, feminist one - choosing to fight to keep our marriage alive rather than giving up. The list of choices is endless, and those who would challenge our choice to obey God rather than men are many. The only one who we should fear and respect is GOD.  Obeying God rather than men should be our daily echo in our mind.  Every time we are faced with opposition, no matter where it comes from (and it can be as near to home as family and very close friends), we need to think "am I pleasing God or man?"

We should not do things in life for anything other than that "well done thou good and faithful servant", upon the conclusion of our lives, but do you see that God honoured the midwives for their commitment to God and His ways? He "dealt well with the midwives" - he gave them success.  He also gave them somewhere to live.  He provided for them and made them to prosper in their work.  We certainly should not look for reward, but we ARE told that if we honour God, He will honour us.  We need to keep our eyes on God, and His rewards, not on the world and its favour.

As I enter into another week, with all its challenges that will lie ahead (because we ALL know that there is no such thing as a week without them!!), I can go in the knowledge that fearing God, and honouring Him in my choices, is always the best way to go.  The big choices, and the little, moment-by-moment, choices to do right and good (when children are squabbling and nothing seems to be going right...), all should rotate around pleasing God. If the Hebrew midwives could say "no" to Pharaoh and his demands, I can say "no" to the things that would tempt me to do wrong and fall away from honouring God.

Don't worry about the opinions of anyone else today - just respect and obey God, and He will show you favour in ways that matter more than the world and what *IT* thinks.

My prayer is that your week will be blessed as you honour God in your lives. 

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Pregnancy Update {more than half way to the finish line!}

Yesterday I had my 20 week scan at the hospital.  I am continually amazed by what you can see when they scan.  Robert was particularly struck by the detail.  We saw a little foot, with toes stretching and wiggling - a hand being lifted and the thumb going in the mouth - each individual  chamber of the heart, all beating away and doing its job.  The brain, the spine, the stomach, the kidneys - all appear to be in the right place, and doing the right job.

The area where there was an issue before is still present.  The sonographer explained that the area was looking more of a grey colour, which means it is not bleeding like before, and probably being reabsorbed instead of bleeding out. Her report said this "no obvious fetal abnormality detected.  However, this does not guarentee normality. The previously reported area of haemorrhage lying over the cervix appears reduced in size and now measures 5.0 x 1.6 x 6.2 cms.  Patient is no longer bleeding."

Don't you just love the "back covering" that medics have to do?  In case I was to ever blame HER if there was something "wrong" when the baby is born, they have to have disclaimers. A sad day and age that this has to happen, but never mind.  My hope is in the Lord, not in "chariots or horses".  I trust an almighty God to do all things well.

Based on that report, the consultant decided I should be scanned every 4 weeks until 36 weeks.  I am not sure why just until that stage, unless they decide to do it more at that point? I should have asked, but typically thought about it afterwards! It's my only ever pregnancy to need a scan beyond the anomaly one at 20 weeks, so it will certainly be fascinating to see the detail as the baby grows. It will be a bit of a pain, having to traipse to the hospital every 4 weeks, as these things are never quick.  However, I think it's worth just seeing that everything it still ok, and being able to decide on how busy my life can be, based on resolution of the problem.

Whilst there is still and area that looks like a haemorrhage, I will continue to avoid heavy work, and relatively rest. In other words, I will not sit with my feet up all day, but I will be careful what I take on, and certainly won't do any heavy lifting.  I would hate for the problem to return because I have not been careful.  Certainly, until the baby is bigger and stronger, and would be able to survive "on the outside", I will be especially careful.  As much as I have had nearly every kind of delivery, a premature one is not one I wish to add to my list!

The bonus, at least I know exactly what I will be doing, at 11am, on a Wednesday morning, every 4 weeks until early October!!! Also, Robert does not need to come with me, so it makes it all a bit easier.

So, there we have it.  The baby is looking healthy (as far as they can tell....) and I am certainly loving all the little kicks and wiggles I can now feel really clearly, and will soon be able to let the children feel as well, as they get more vigorous and obvious "on the outside".  I just LOVE this stage - feeling our little one moving around and making their presence known.  Precious.

You wanna picture???

Baby number 8. Blessed. 

We continue to rest in hope, as the pregnancy continues, and we look forward to the delivery of this precious gift from God in His perfect time. 

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

"Branching" out into lapbooks {including freebie resources}

I have tried multiple times to do lapbooking with my children.  Tapestry of Grace actually has lapbooking templates that you can purchase to go alongside the curriculum.  I attempted them in years gone by, but with all the other resources to tap into, we never seemed to complete a whole one!

So, what IS a lapbook?  A lapbook is a way of displaying things that you have learnt about a particular subject, in a visual form.  It is created by making lots of "minibooks", filling them with pictures and information, and then putting them in your "lapbook".  In America, they use "file folders" to mount everything.  We can't seem to easily get them here, so we just used card stock to create ours. You can do them on any subject you like, and make them as simple or detailed as you so desire.  We used a mixture of information I printed, and they stuck into their books, some drawing, some printed pictures and some handwritten information.

When Heidi St John was with us last year, she did  a talk, with Savannah (her daughter), about lapbooks. There were some AMAZING ones, and if I can get some pictures of them I will add them to this post at a later date.

Last week, I decided to have a break from Tapestry of Grace. (Only because there are only 32 weeks per year of the curriculum, and we do more than 32 weeks in our school year...) I decided it would be nice to do a lapbook with ALL the school-aged children together.  We started off the week by going for a walk and looking for the different trees we have in our village.  We used the printable from the Woodland Trust, which is free. (It would not be much use to American's as it is British Trees! Sorry!) Then, we spent the next days learning about the different parts of trees, and what their function was.  I learnt a lot as well, as is often the case with home ed!

We used the terrific resources from Homeschool Share.  They have an amazing number of Lapbooking ideas and templates, filled with all the information you would need to complete them. They also have some excellent Unit Studies, based around some lovely literature.  (This week I will doing that with the girls, on the book "Just Like Mamma", by Beverly Lewis, one of my favourite authors!) It's worth having a look, and using the site as a spring-board for trying out lapbooking.

We used the one called "Tree Study and Lapbook".

The children chose different ways to put together their lapbooks.  We dug out the sticky backed tape, the leaf stamp, skills in leaf rubbing and utilised the wavy line setting on my guillotine! They all did it slightly differently, in their own ways.  All were pleased with the outcome, and as soon as Daddy stepped in the door, he got bombarded with children showing him their completed lapbooks!

Susie with her lapbook - she did some leaf rubbings for the cover.

Inside, we had to add an extra "layer" to fit in all her books. 

This is under the flaps. 

This is a cute, twirly one. You spin it around to read different facts... did you know the oldest recorded tree was 4,900 years old?!?

This is Bethany's.

...and Daniel's 

... and Josh's. 

This is inside Joshua's

This shows Josh's love of drawing pictures.  His eternal cry is "do I have to write anything, can I not just draw a picture??!" 

Nothing quite like school that inspires children to share what they have done with others.

This week, I am doing the one I mentioned, with the girls, and the boys have each chosen their own.  Josh is putting his together from scratch, using the blank templates on Homeschool Share, and Daniel is doing one about Grey Wolves.  His one comes with all the information you will need to be able to fill in the lapbook, as well as information you could do more as a Unit Study.

I will let you know how we get on with those other ones.  I am particularly looking forward to the one with the girl's and spending some time looking at Biblical truths that we learn from it.

So, there we have it.  Our first ever COMPLETED lapbook!  Hopefully there will be many more to come.  All in all, they seemed to get on well with them, but my 6yo, Susie, was the most enthusiastic, and loved EVERY moment.

Have a look at Homeschool Share, and see if there is one that captures your interest. 

Thursday, 13 June 2013

My courtship story {part 2}

So, where were we?

I had his phone number.  Finally.  So, after much thought and deliberation I quickly decided that it was about time that we actually TALKED!

I chose a Sunday afternoon, as I knew we would both be available to talk.  I got the phone, punched in the number...and couldn't quite bring myself to actually CALL!  I "ummed" and "ahhed" until my Dad came along, asked what I was doing, and told me if *I* didn't do it, *HE* would.  Well, that was enough of a prompt, so I called the number.

The phone rang, and his Dad answered.  I asked if I could speak to Robert, and he said he thought that would be acceptable, and would go and get him.  The next thing I could hear him say "Robert, there's a young lady on the phone for you", followed by the excited shrieks of his Mum and sister!! The next thing I heard was Robert's voice.  Now, bear in mind I had not talked to him for about 7 months!!! It was a such a joy to finally hear his lovely voice again.  I think the feeling was mutual!

And so began the next "phase" of our relationship.  Talking.  Which I can do very well.... There was a funny element involved.  Well, a bit funny.  When I phoned Robert we could talk as long as we wanted.  When he phoned me, we had 1/2 an hour.  "Why?",  you ask.  It was the days with no "call free in the UK", and I paid my parents for my own phone bills (do you remember itemised phone bills?...sitting scoring out Robert's number and writing down how much I owed.... worth every penny!!!), whereas Robert didn't.  As his Dad was footing the bill, he put a limit on it.  So, we squashed a lot more into those 2-weekly, half-hour calls.

That brought us even closer.  Talking, as well as continuing to write, cemented the fact that we needed to meet up again.

At the beginning of May, a turning point occurred.  Robert's parents invited me down to visit!! Now, when I think back, it was quite a MAJOR thing, to let your 17 year old daughter go and visit a family who my parents had only ever met at the Annual Bible Conference.  I look back with thankfulness that they said "yes"!!  I had even recently got a new job, following the end of HIgh School exams, working in a Nursing home.  I was fairly sure they would say "no" to time off, so soon after starting.  However, God's hand was in it all, and the dear lady who was my supervisor said "yes"!!!! The planning began, and my hard earned money went into buying a train ticket from Glasgow to Ipswich. I would go for 5 days - Monday to Friday.  I had to get a VERY early train on Monday morning - I can't recall what time it was, but it MUST have been early.  I  know this because we went to an afternoon meeting at the Church Robert's extended family attended, and we had time to go to Robert's parents FIRST! Having a quick look at now-a-days train schedules, I think my train was just before 6am, and I would have left home not long after 5am!

I was so excited the morning of departure, but SO nervous as well.  I had a funny dream.  I dreamt I had been writing to the "wrong" brother.  That the one I THOUGHT was Robert, was actually Edward, and when I met him it was the "wrong" brother, visually.  I managed to put the dream to the back of my mind, and decided even if he WAS the "wrong" one, I had been falling in love with the young man in the letters.  I enjoyed the train journey, even if the scenery got progressively flatter as we got nearer Ipswich! (I *LOVE* my mountains!!!) The journey passed in a flash, and before I knew it, I was pulling into Ipswich train station. I had the good old "butterflies in my tummy" syndrome, as I got off the train to look for Robert....who was NOT THERE! I was rather anxious, as I went to the front to wait for them. Anxiously, I looked at every car approaching to see if he was there, and, before too long, out jumped Robert! An inward sigh and an outward smile as we finally met again.  The long-awaited for moment was here! Now, I can't remember whether we hugged or not, but being quite shy about those kind of things, I am not sure that we did. (I will ask Robert and get back to you on that one...)

The next couple of days were then filled with moments where I wondered if he would "ask me out" - formally make us "girlfriend and boyfriend".  Between the afternoon and evening service that first day, we walked down to Pin Mill. (As a side note, if you have ever read Arthur Ransome books, you WILL recognise this place.  It is REAL, and I was so excited to be there...I still get teased about my mentioning Swallows and Amazons so much!) It was a lovely walk, and I thought that Robert would just go ahead and ask me, especially in such a romantic setting.  But nope, it was not to be.

That evening we went for supper to his Grandma's farmhouse, which was FILLED with endless relatives of his.  I found that quite lovely, as I had no living uncles, and never had any cousins. Robert sat down with his supper on a sofa, and I went to sit next to him.  Not wishing to look too "forward", I left a seat free between us.  His Great Aunt Joan came up to me, and in a stage whisper said "you CAN sit closer to him if you like"!!!! So, I did.  I mean, when you get permission from the Great Aunt, you don't decline!

The next day, Robert had to work.  His Dad had a business (as I have mentioned before) as a tomato grower.  They had huge glasshouses that had thousands of tomato plants.  It was hard work, and he needed to help his Dad. I went out and watched, and chatted.  I can't remember much about that day, but I DO remember that, in the evening, as the sun was setting, Robert was sent up to the field at the top to turn on the electric fence around the lettuces.  We went together, and it was getting chilly, so Robert lent me his fleece.  It was so pretty, with the beautiful sunset, I was sure he was going to ask me out.... but no, the moment was not, apparently, yet right.

The next day we had been looking forward to.  It was the Suffolk County Show.  A large country show, with displays of various kinds, tents representing companies, and stall after stall selling art and craft items. It was a lovely day, despite a drizzly start, and I was in my element.  Being a Townie, I didn't get to events like that.  Just wandering around, seeing so many interesting things, and the freebie food was a bonus, too.  We sat down to watch the Heavy Horse display, at the central arena. You know, big, massive, Shire horses?  We were sitting on the grass, side by side.

Robert: "Do you still like me, then?"
Me: "yes"
Robert: "How much?"
Me: "A lot"
Robert: "Enough to go out with me?"
ME: "Maybe"
Robert: "WILL you go out with me?"
ME: "YES!"

I was just waiting for those words.  I think hearing girl after girl in school being asked "will you go out with me" by young guys, it was the special words *I* was waiting to hear!! It seems silly now, but it meant a lot at the time.

Of course, SUCH a romantic moment, too.  Watching the HEAVY HORSE display.... at least it wasn't cows or prize pigs!

We spent the rest of the day hand in hand, with big smiles on our faces!!!

The next day we managed to get some time, and went for a lovely walk in the afternoon, and then the day came to go home. Sadness.  In a BIG way.  And, so began MANY sad good-byes.  I only ever travelled by train one more time, as it was costly.  We began to travel backwards and forwards on the coach, from Glasgow to London, often stuck in traffic, in a hot coach, and then from London to Colchester.  Glasgow bus station and Colchester bus station were places of sadness and tears, as we said good-bye, because we didn't get to see each other a lot. Only in holidays, because I then began my University degree in the September, and only Christmas and Easter were times to meet up.

I also did something else MAJOR.  I worked for his Dad in the summers.  I would go down when Uni finished, and work for the long, hot summer.  It was HARD work.  It was emotional at times, working for your boyfriend's dad, miles away from home, under a lot of pressure.  But, it was character-building, and it meant we could be together!! The things you do for love!! The summers got shorter, as my Uni terms got longer.

We didn't have particularly "romantic" courtship years, by the standards of some.  We did have lovely trips to the beach, in the summer days, if we got finished work in good time.  Nice walks in the countryside around where Robert lived. I particularly loved that we started the day together, spiritually, when I worked down there in the summers.  We would do our devotions together, in the dining room, and those words we read, and the prayer time together, strengthened us for each day. We hardly ever went out for meals ( I say that, because I would actually say *NEVER*, but I may have forgotten some random occasion!...we were poor students, and did not have the money for such things!!!)

We went out for 4 1/2 LONG years before we could get married.  NOT something I would recommend to others, but it was what God had planned for us. During that time, Robert began a 4 year Theological course, at a Bible college, as well as me doing my Physiotherapy degree.  Our visits changed to me sometimes visiting him in Northern Ireland.  We got engaged in 1998, on a plane between Scotland and England (no, he didn't get down on one knee in the aisle...) and married at the end of 1999, on a chilly day in December.

We have been married for 13 1/2 wonderful years, and I am VERY blessed.

So, there you have it.  Our story.  We learnt a lot, and it formed our thoughts on how we would advise our children regarding relationships and courtship.  There were highs and lows along the way, but all of it was God's plan, and perfect.  We continue to grow, learn and most importantly LOVE, and SO appreciate that there are no more sad good-byes.

This was our verse, that helped us through the years as we waited for marriage....

 "Love....Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things."
I Corinthians 13:7

Chatting on a grey farmhouse porch

Well, FINALLY.  I get round to chatting to you, Patrice.  I have had a busy week, with jobs around the house, and visitors.  But, I am here now.  wishing it was was warmer and sunnier, so I could actually imagine being on a farmhouse porch this week.  As it stands, it's blowy, and not very warm.  Maybe we'll have summer start NEXT week?.....

On to our chat, even if it's over a hot drink, INSIDE!

1.  How many times a week do you have a green or veggie salad?
At the moment, a few times a week.  With me cutting out bread from my diet, lunches are more inventive.  At this time of the year, a salad is a fairly main part of what I end up eating. 

I miss bread.  

2.  Do you pray? 
Not as much as I should. I think that prayer is always something we can do more of.  I would say my prayer life is more of a continual thing, rather than long, set times of the day.  If I could get up a bit earlier, I would be able to have a  more focussed time of prayer.  At the moment, I do well to be up long enough before the children to do my Bible readings.  

I pray all through the day - whenever someone asks for prayer on FB, or some other online request, before I type that I am praying, I make sure to shut my eyes and MAKE that time right there. 

I long to have a prayer life like to so many great men and women I have heard of before.  I envy the quiet time my husband gets every day, at his study at the Church, where he gets peace to pray for as long as he wants and needs.  The Lord knows my heart and situation, though.  My prayers throughout the day, in not-so-quiet moments, are heard as equally as the prayers of anyone else. 

I do want to get back to my prayer diary, and pray for certain people on certain days, in a more specific way.  

3.  What season is your birthday? You do not need to give us the date.
I am a winter baby.  I always thought, as a child, that my Native American type name should have been "snowflake", as it was heavily snowing when I was born! The end of January can be like that in Scotland.   

I usually did quite well at my birthday - people managed to get post-Christmas sale bargains, and get more for their money! Plus, there are sometimes tail ends of sales by the time my birthday comes round, so spending my Birthday money was always fun! I sometimes wish it was further from Christmas, as there used to be times through the year where I would see something that I wished I cold request for a birthday, but whoever remembers by the time their birthday comes round again!?!?

Oh, and it's the 27th of January. 

4.  Do you have dinner guests often, every now and then or not at all? Wendell says he can be there for dinner as quick as a wink!
We always have my SIL, Bil and their boys, 2 Sundays a month - the first, and the last. Those are both days that we have Church related things that are closer to our house than theirs, so we have an ongoing arrangement that they nearly always come here. Then we often have some single folks from the Church, who it is always lovely to have.  The odd time we may have other Church people.  

Other than that, it's just whenever people come to visit.  It seems to go through phases.  We have some families, who are good friends, who we always enjoy having, and who often stay overnight as well. Some we cook for, some we go out for meals with, some we have take-away when they visit.  Does it count as "dinner guests", if I am not cooking?!? Then, there are family who come to visit, and friends, who just come for a meal or for the day.   

I LOVE having people to stay.  Life can be quite lonely at times, so having other adult company, especially female friends, is just lovely.  So long as people are willing to take us as they find us, they could pretty much drop in any time, and I could scrape a meal together to include them.

As for people who I *WISH* I could have as dinner guests - too many sweet people to count, and most of them over some body of water....

5.   Could you describe yourself as a DIY- Do It Yourselfer?
Well, if we are talking about life in general, then yes.  I do most things for myself, rather than asking someone else to do it.

If we are talking about actual "DIY" jobs around the home, then that's firmly my lovely husband's job.  And, he does it VERY well.  If something stops working, he fixes it.  OR at least he will give it a very good try.  My dishwasher stopped working, twice, and he worked out how to fix it!  He puts together flat pack furniture in a flash.  He fixes electrics.  He drills and hammers.  He put up my wall baskets for me yesterday.  He cleared trees from the back garden then laid patio slabs, because he's going to build  a shed.  I just love his abilities, and enjoyment, of DIY.  I am very blessed, because there are many men who are not as inclined or as capable as he is. 

Sorry I am a bit late with the chat, but we have had guests staying/eating/visiting for the last 2 days, and an Ikea trip on Monday, followed by putting together of furniture by hubby and me putting things ON the furniture, so I have been a bit tied up.  That sentence alone could have answered a couple of the questions, and if I had added that I had a green salad for lunch yesterday, that would have been another.  Saying I had been in much prayer for friends and family the last few days, would have answered another.  Not quite sure how I could wend in that I am a January baby into general conversation, though.

Until the next time, cheerio!

Saturday, 8 June 2013

FREE Printable - {alphabet theme}

I wanted to share a quick post about one of the learning resources that I have found. Actually, it's more RE-found.

I have been thinking ahead to Abi starting school officially in September, and wanted to get a head start with some alphabet and letter sound identification.  I had started by getting a great app for the iPad. It's called "Eggy Alphabet" and ties in with the award-winning "Reading Express" programme. It's a great app, which teaches them letter sound, formation and identifying the sound at teh beginning of words.  I will review it more thoroughly when I finally get around to doing my app reviews tab.  *aherm*

I wanted some non-media learning, too.  I was browsing through my newsfeed on FB this week, when my eye caught the Confessions of a Homeschooler updates.  I got down a rabbbit trail of looking at her website again, and found this printable.

Erica has a fabby website, and FB page, called Confessions of a Homeschooler.  She has created some very lovely free printables, particularly for pre-school aged children.  There are a lot of alphabet based activities, and she even has some curriculum you can purchase for VERY little money.  I so appreciate the effort that people like Erica go to, to share these things with other Mums, and so much for FREE.  All the time she must spend doing it is of a huge advantage to Mums like me, who have less creative genius!!

I found these alphabet block printables when looking at her alphabet themed activities which are based upon each letter of the alphabet.  The posts she has on the alphabet are just a FRACTION of the printables you get if you buy the curriculum.  It only works out at about £10, which I think is really great value.

I printed them out yesterday, and laminated them today. One had to wait for one's new laminator pouches to arrive. *aherm*

I already had these blocks to use with them, and they fit perfectly.  For those in the UK, you can also get them here (choose "mathematics" and then "manipulatives" and then "pattern blocks").  I like the Melissa and Doug set, as they are wooden and you also get their pattern boards to have fun with, too.  Well, for your CHILDREN to have fun with!

So, Elijah test drove them for me - after his bath tonight!!!

As you can see, he was rather pleased with his efforts!!

Erica also has a printable with a pattern line, using the same blocks. (You can find it if you look down the page on the link I shared above about the alphabet printable)  Abi had fun with these...

(she was so keen, I didn't even get to brush her hair, post-bath....)

There are 8 different patterns in all, and a line to make up your own. There are endless things you could do with these shaped bricks.  Please feel free to share if you have done anything else with them, or know of a website that shows us what you can use them for!

So, there we have it.  Part of my creative efforts for the last couple of days.  I also printed and laminated something else, but I will tell you about it next week, as I need to iron out an imperfection I spotted in my printable I have made, and want to fix it before I share the file with you all! Erm, well, I will share it at SOME point.... I have a love story to finish first..... *whistles* (or else I will be cyber-lynched by many people....)


Friday, 7 June 2013

Lesson from a burnt dinner {it only takes a moment}

It was the start of a day full of hope and expectations.

I *WAS* going to make a good start.  Keep the kitchen tidy - get on with the laundry.

Make the dinner, whilst making my porridge for breakfast.

It was all going so very well. The pasta sauce was made, and turned down to the lowest setting on the hob.  My porridge was made - complete with cinnamon and blueberries - and I went to sit in the lounge to eat it in comfort.  (Mums are allowed to do such things.....)

The door was shut and, as far as I knew, my beautifully made dinner - all ready for later - was simmering and improving on the heat.

That was, until I went through, with my empty bowl (yum), to the smell of BURNT sauce.

I rushed over to the hob (questioning a certain child as to WHY they couldn't smell it was burning, whilst they did their morning chore in the kitchen??), and stirred it, vainly hoping it would be enough to rescue it.  But, as I stirred, I could feel it was hopelessly stuck to the pan, and the acrid smell of burnt food overpowered any delicious scents that had previously pervaded the room.

I tipped it into another pan - trying everything I could to rescue my "burnt offering".  It was when I did this that I realised it was beyond rescue.  The bottom of the pan was charred and blackened.  Truly burnt, not just caught a little.

I went out for the day, and bought a substitute for dinner.  When I got home, I tasted what was in the rescue saucepan, but that only confirmed my suspicions.  It was foul, and I spat it out straight away, before I could vomit!  (Burnt food is a pet hate of mine - burnt = inedible).

What promise that morning had held.  All my good intentions - all my hopes of an easy dinner time, because I had planned ahead - dashed by a momentary lapse of concentration.  I had left it on the halogen ring, and had I only had it on the right ring it wouldn't have burnt.  Carelessness on my part.  Not taking notice.  Good dashed by a momentary lapse of concentration.

As I scrubbed the saucepan later - and, it was no mean feat to get that things CLEAN - the Lord impressed a lesson upon my heart.

It only takes a moment, just like my pasta sauce, to bring ruin to something good.  Particularly, the damage that is caused by the tongue.

You see, the Bible speaks much about the words that we say.  You can so quickly ruin all that is good by a word that is spoken hastily, or without thought.  It only takes a moment to open your mouth, and something negative to come out, destroying the the good you have previously tried to do by using your words wisely.

"He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction."
Proverbs 13:3

"Keep thy tongue from evil..."
Psalm 34:13

"Wise men lay up knowledge: but the mouth of the foolish is near destruction."
Proverbs 10:14

"A fool's mouth is his destruction..."
Proverbs 18:7

 "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. "
Ephesians 4:29

"Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones."
Proverbs 16:24 

So many verses referring to what we say and HOW we say it.  

It's incredibly easy, sadly, to open your mouth and say the wrong things, or the right things the WRONG way.   

As a wife, we can be unwise in what we say to our husband.  We can show a lack of submission by "having the last word", or by questioning the final say of our husband.  We can show a lack of grace by not using a pleasant and kind tone in our voice when responding to him. 

As a mother, its shamefully easy to "spoil" things with our children.  When you are placed on the "heat", it's so much easier to get "burnt".  The "heat" of children testing your patience - of being asked the same thing over and over, or a child questioning your decisions, or a child whining and moaning. The "heat" of a child being defiant or disobedient.  The "heat" of a child doing the same thing wrong again, even though your own lack of consistency has produced such an action.

As a friend, or family member, we can choose our words unwisely.  Familiarity breeds contempt, may ring true.  Just because we have known someone for a long time, does not give us the excuse to be less cordial, patient and kind to those who we should hold dearest.

As a complete stranger, we can let our Christian testimony be spoilt by a word spoken too hastily.  Being rude to someone else - being short when dealing with a problem in a store - not being gracious when speaking to another foreigner, who you can't understand, on the phone.  All these opportunities to show the love of Christ, shattered by a word that is NOT fitly spoken.

It only takes a moment, to spoil all that is good.  Like the saucepan, it can take an awful lot of effort to undo the ruin.