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The Benefits of Reading Biographies

My big girl and I have been having a read-aloud together for a while now. She’s a very competent reader in he down right- she doesn’t need me to read to her, in fact she kept me right with the Elvish whilst I read aloud Lord of the Rings! But she still enjoys being read to, and it is a special time for us to spend together. About a year ago I started to concentrate on reading Christian biographies as her read aloud. These are not the children’s versions of biographies, but the kind I would read. This practise has been of benefit to us both. We are both partaking of the pearls that the patriarchs of the faith have gleamed. From Corrie Ten Boom we were inspired by her faith under great trial, and we’ve been inspired by those who lived by faith for their every need: living lives of prayer. I found last year the biographies we read inspiring for myself. They helped me remain focused despite the struggles we were facing. They helped me stay faithful in prayer, when I felt like giving up. Seeing how God acted through the faithfulness of his servants encouraged me to trust in the God who never changes. Reading biographies of those who have gone before: men and women with the same failings as us all, and yet doing extraordinary things for God creates a treasury of testimony to draw upon. The Bible teaches us to “keep the testimonies” of God: “Ye shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your God, and his testimonies, and his statutes, which he hath commanded thee.” Deuteronomy 6:17 Deuteronomy 6 also impresses upon us the importance of passing the testimonies of God onto our children. By reading biographies of the men and women of God who have gone before us we pass on the testimonies of what God has done in their lives. The Hebrew word for testimony comes from the root word meaning to “do again”. This is why testimony is so important. They teach us that the God who was faithful in the Bible, who did extraordinary things for His people thousands of years ago, has been doing extraordinary things throughout his dealings with men, and therefore will do extraordinary things with us too. Share this:PrintFacebookTwitterEmailLike this:Like...

Keeping Your Vision

I lay in bed almost paralysed by fear and hopelessness. The grey morning light of a winter’s morning in Scotland beginning to illuminate the room. I could hear the boys in the other room, playing and chatting away. A pretty normal morning. Except for the crippling fear, the exhaustion making me want to hide from yet another day. This was how the days met me in my early pregnancy with John: the combination of grief after Lucy’s death and the fear that John too would be born with ARC was almost unbearable; and I had to still get up everyday and raise my four children, educate them, keep the house, and cope with the issues that accompany first trimester pregnancy. These were hard days. I knew if I did not find a way to cope all of us would suffer. I’ve noticed that a lot of hard things can happen in a child’s life but if mummy has it together they can cope with it. But even with little problems, if mummy is losing it then everyone is all at sea. In the charismatic church we can major a lot with “God’s plan for your life”, when we talk about God’s Plan we are thinking big, purpose of life stuff. But in this season I learnt the value of focusing on today. What was God’s Plan for today? God had given me four wonderful healthy children- they were his plan for me today. Keeping my vision in the small things of life, the day to day and mundane things helped pull me through. It’s easy to drown in a sea of grief, to allow despair and hopelessness to win. But it’s vital to find the hope for each day. “Where there is no vision, the people perish:” Proverbs 29:18 For me it was important to maintain my vision for the here and know. I focused on homeschooling with renewed intentionality, I read books that affirmed my role as a mother, and I spent time with people who would encourage me. I found great comfort and encouragement reading Sally Clarkson’s books. I shut out the “voices” that would make me feel pressure to be what I was not, and could not be. And now that John has died I again recognise that need to recalibrate and renew my vision for today. I think part of the nature of grief must rob us of our vision. Share this:PrintFacebookTwitterEmailLike this:Like...

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...

Self Care as a Homeschool Mama

The days are long, but the years are short is a very wise saying that pertains to parenthood. Surviving those long days means applying wisdom, and being intentional to manage your own mental, spiritual and emotional health. Finding ways to look after yourself is an essential part of being a mother. When we become overwhelmed and burnt out, we are not able to give our children our best. This looks different at the different stages of motherhood: the demands on our time vary from when we have babies, to when we have older children. I have found some basic principals that can help our mental health as mothers: Find Your Tribe This is basically finding a source of fellowship. In the many and varied relationships we have not every person will be the right one to share life with. I find I need other home educating mothers around me to encourage and support me. They have an empathy as to what my day looks like that other friends cannot have. It’s also about finding those people who you just “click” with; those people you can share your weaknesses with and know you won’t feel condemnation, but will be supported and loved by. It’s also about having friends you can meet up with who have a depth of spiritual maturity who can encourage you to grow in faith. If this is lacking in your life, pray God will supply this need. When I first had children, I had to develop this area in my life. As a natural introvert, I found this difficult, but I have reaped the rewards of having a wonderful network of wonderful friends to do life with. Spend Time in Nature My love of nature is no secret, I truly believe God has placed within us a need to be in His creation. Walking through a beautiful wood, or hiking up a magnificent mountain revives and restores the soul. Countless studies have proven the link between time spent in nature and improvements in mental health. Rest Time There are times when the demands of life mean that “getting away from it all” simply won’t happen. But I find just being able to settle the children either in their rooms, or in front of a DVD; whilst I can go to another part of the house, alone with a cup of tea, will be enough to refresh me so I can be a happier mama for the remainder of the day. I have also made Saturday’s a “Sabbath” day, practically speaking this means I make sure Saturday...

Guarding the Atmosphere in Your Home

As a teenager one of the things that had the biggest impact on shaping my spiritual development was by friends home. My best friend through high school was my now pastor’s daughter. I went to church (not their church at the time), my mother went to church; but there was something quite different about this family, and about their home. I knew nothing about them when I first started visiting their home, but I knew there was something that made their house different to mine! As I grew closer to the family in general, two things really stood out to me about the way they lived their lives: firstly my friends parents prayed, and secondly they hardly watched television, and it was not the background noise to which they lived their lives. My home was a little different, I had no real awareness of my mother’s spiritual life- she had a Bible at the side of her bed, but I never saw it open, secondly the television was almost always on. The atmosphere in my friend’s home was, and still is, lovely. The kind of place where you want to stay and just be. As a teenager I determined I wanted my home to be like this when I grew up! Older, and hopefully a little wiser, I understand more about the spiritual principals which create a healthy environment to live in. Our homes should be places of healing and safety; a sanctuary against the harshness of the outside world. Therefore it is important to nurture and guard the atmosphere of the home, making it Christ centred. The Holy Spirit comes and resides in a place where God is worshiped: “But thou [the Lord] art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel” Psalm 22:3. Our homes will be places of His Presence when they are places where he is worshipped and honoured. This is what God wants our homes to be like, He desires to be at the centre of our lives, that our homes will be places of peace. The building of a spiritual life as a family is important, so children learn to pray, and are taught God’s Word; but they also need to know that what you do in public is also what you do in private. It was obvious that my friend’s parents were people of prayer, you only had to look at their Bibles lying on the table to see they were the most well read books in the house. And despite being the busiest people I knew, I was aware that...
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