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A Year Gone; New Year Approaching

As the past year is all but over I have been assessing what has worked and what has not. At the start of the New Year I resolved to be more intentional with rest. January 2015 found me pregnant with my 7th child, whilst still grieving the loss of dear sweet Lucy. I was emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted. This step was one of the wisest decision I made all year, and it is definitely one I want to continue, although it is harder to commit to when you have a young baby with rigid care needs. I also realised I needed greater intentionality in caring for my own emotional needs. I’ve had to learn to manage and deal with grief and fear this year. This is an area I need to continue to grow in. At the start of the year I could feel myself becoming overwhelmed by sorrow, but with children who need a mother I have had to learn to overcome the sadness in a healthy way. All in all 2015 could be called a year of intentionality. Sally Clarkson’s book “Own Your Life” was an excellent read to start the year and focus the mind- and I would highly recommend it. I can see 2016 growing on that, and taking it further. The winter months in general need more focused attention, as it is easy to slip into bad habits and being so much more together, with children unable to be out in the garden as much, moods can fray. Something that has been on my heart lately is the need to tell my babies stories: to record and tell Michael, Lucy and John’s stories before I forget (sadly we all forget even things most precious). Telling their story, is something almost scared, it is locked within my heart and has been largely untouched, but I feel now it is beginning to well up within me ready to come out. But this thought lead me to think that I want to record all the children’s stories. Record the funny little things young children say and do. Create in word a picture of these crazy precious years. So I don’t forget. So I have bought a diary to record, to tell our story- to remember. I also want to do more of the things I have said I want to do, those little projects that I think “we could do that” but never do. The things that fill up pinterest boards and Facebook feeds, that we all say we will do one rainy day which never...

The Blessing of “Normal” When Life is Hard...

Advent means starting our day reading Ann Voskamp’s book “Unwrapping the Greatest Gift” in it we were encouraged to think of a family going through a really hard time, a family needing encouragement. They couldn’t think of one. I could think of a couple of families, but they are not on the children’s radar. But I think a survey of the people in our circle of acquaintances would place us at the top of the Family-In-Need-of-Encouragement list. We have our second terminally ill child in as many years, life is sad. Yet they don’t see themselves in a place of need. This made me smile, but also made me think how we’ve managed to do this. I think one of the reasons is we try to keep things “normal”. We keep on with life. I love the verse in Thessalonians 4:11 ” aspire to lead a quiet life”. There is so much wisdom in this simple verse. The quiet, simplicity, of doing normal life, with it’s regular rhythms brings a reassurance to the lives of children and adults. I also think one of the reasons the children do not see themselves as suffering is that we try not to wallow in self-pity, or surround them with voices that tell them things are hard. Of course there are sad times, and stressful times but that is not the prevailing spirit in the home. And this brings nicely to the final point I think is important when life is tough- to laugh. We are silly together. We do silly things. There is a lot of laughter in our home. A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones. Proverbs 17:22 We have to find a way of laughing, it provides a protection against despair. Share this:PrintFacebookTwitterEmailLike this:Like...

Dealing with Tension: Sometimes All That’s Needed is a Hug...

We were having one of those mornings, you know the ones: where everything takes twice as long, where your clock seems to have entered into some weird quantum physical universe where time goes faster, and where no one is listening- this was a morning Noah took 40 minutes to get dressed, 30 of which were spent prancing around in his birthday suit (what is it with boys and being naked!). By the time we had started work we were all a bit frazzled. By the time Noah was reading to me he (and I) were rather grumpy. Reading didn’t go well, and I found myself getting-at-him for the umpteenth time that morning. I saw his shoulders drop and and head drop. I took a deep breath and held him close. I overcame my annoyance,and my own bad attitude to see that this little boy needed a bit of love more than “discipline”. We hugged for a couple of minutes. I felt the tension slip away from his shoulders, and he melted into me. When we resumed reading, all our problems were “fixed”. As I held him close I thought of the days I have, where I feel overwhelmed and like I want the world to stop, the days I want a hug. If I, a 34 year old adult, have days like this, of course my 8 year old boy will have them too. So often the tensions of getting-everything-done can be fixed with taking a few minutes out and having a hug. Working out of a place of love and feeling emotionally secure is good for everyone. In our homeschool I have learnt that when we start from the place of relationship we all have a better day, and better learning happens too. Share this:PrintFacebookTwitterEmailLike this:Like...

Creating a Culture of Reading

Rome wasn’t built in a day; and creating a culture of reading is not something achieved with a grand one off gesture, it is created with daily perseverance, with one more chapter, one more poem, one more book through the years. There has been a lot in the media lately about the importance of continued reading aloud even when a child is an independent reader. Now with four children aged 10 down to 4 years this means reading aloud to keep everyone happy involves many different books. My 10 year really doesn’t want to listen to The Tale of Tom Kitten, AGAIN (to be honest I’d like my little Beatirx Potter fan to broaden his literary horizons a little!); and the books that will interest and challenge my 10 year old are too advanced for the boys. So to create a culture of reading that we all enjoy I have different books on the go. Each child has their own read aloud. My 10 year old daughter and I read a Christian biography (generally) once the boys are in bed, something suitable for her but something I would be interested in reading also, we don’t do this every night I want this to be an enjoyable time, not a chore. My 4 year old has various books that preschoolers like, his night time story is important to him, but we also read at different times through the day as time allows (Beatrix Potter plays a big part in his life just now!). The other boys are read to when we can fit it in through the day. Some evenings we can fit in a read aloud time for each child, sometimes not. And there individual books often interest one of their siblings, for example, Just William was Noah’s read aloud but Beka sat in on it too and both giggled heartily. I will also add read alouds into our school day, for example we are reading the Bronze Axe as part of our history work just now. I will also have books we can dip into as a family, for example “Parables of Nature” or “Trial and Triumph”. Most of all I make reading a priority, the goal is to create a love of reading in the lives of all my children. Sometimes I feel like I’ve failed that day, that we have hardly read anything. Sometimes I feel like I can’t face reading another children’s book. But it’s about perseverance and finding books that you enjoy as well as your children. Share this:PrintFacebookTwitterEmailLike this:Like...

Some Summer Reading Suggestions: For Mama and Children...

With time freed up over summer it’s a great opportunity to do a bit extra reading. This year in general I have been reading a few Christian biographies, and found it encouraging and inspiring. I have been learning lessons I would not have expected from them, and found by reading them my own spiritual life has been enriched. Here’s a few suggestions: The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. Yes, as you may expect this book teaches perseverance in the midst of terrible suffering, and that obedience costs. But what I didn’t expect to find was lessons in parenting. Her childhood was simple, they were a rather poor family, but her parents taught her trust in the Lord throughout all the trials life through at them. I would encourage every parent to read The Hiding Place. The family teaches simply living ones faith out daily, keeping prayer and God’s Word central in all things will reap a harvest in the lives of your children. God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew. This year is the 60th anniversary of the founding of Open Doors. God’s Smuggler is the story of how Brother Andrew came to smuggle Bible’s into Communist Europe and how the ministry grew from humble beginnings into the worldwide ministry it is today. Given the significance of this year I thought it a good time to read his biography. Although I am still in the middle of it I am again finding this amazing man’s faith and trust in God inspirational. The testimonies of God’s guidance in his life, and the lives of those involved in his ministry are encouraging and faith building. For pure pleasure I have also been reading Emma by Jane Austen, this is the 200th anniversary of it being published. Austen is a happy place to delve into, reading her books is like having a cup of tea with a very dear and old friend. I have also recently finished Own Your Life by Sally Clarkson. I love Sally Clarkson’s books, they also encourage me as a mother, and this is an excellent book not only for parenting but living life intensionally. For the children we have been reading Alice in Wonderland, this year is the 150th anniversary of it being published (I seem to like reading books with significant anniversaries!). The Jedi Boy has also been introduced to the Just William books by Richmal Chompton. Think Jeeves and Wooster for children to have an idea of the kind of humour! They have proved a big hit- well written fun and nonsense. Share this:PrintFacebookTwitterEmailLike this:Like...

Our Sunshine List aka Bucket List!

It is quite common to put together a Summer Bucket List, however we have done something a little bit different this year. The end of the summer holiday’s will bring a new baby into the family, a new baby who will be very sick like little Lucy. Knowing this, is making us intentional about filling the children’s lives with enjoyable experiences before the baby is born. Therefore we have made up a Sunshine List- a list of things which are meant to be rays of sunshine for us as we prepare yourselves for a difficult road ahead. Each child could choose two things they wanted to do, with the stipulation they had to be sensible, and doable!   Some of the things that have made the list are: a loch-side walk and paddle with a picnic a bike ride swimming hillwalking (although approaching nine months pregnant this may not happen, although it may help put me into labour!) building a camp fire Studies have consistently shown that enjoyable experiences are more enriching than expensive gifts. And a recent study has shown that children find more pleasure in simple activities, and not necessarily the eye-wateringly expensive outings, like, theme parks, or even the zoo. Last summer one of their highlights was building a camp fire in the wood, and toasting marshmallows with friends- unsurprisingly this has made the list this year too. I believe one of the things that helped the children cope last year with the death of their sister was special families times away like the building of camp fires, and going hillwalking; I don’t think it surprising that many of these activities that we found so helping involved nature. So the next few weeks we will be intentionally filling them up with memories of summer adventures, and little treats. And to be honest these family times will not only bless the children, but will fill me up with happy memories to carry me through the hospital stays and the sad times. Share this:PrintFacebookTwitterEmailLike this:Like...
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