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Monday, 24 December 2012

December 24th - Jesus is Emmanuel

Jesus is Emmanuel
Isaiah 7:14; 33:22

Emmanuel - God with us."What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make his way home." (Joan Osborne)

Christmas. We celebrate the birth of a baby, not the arrival of a mighty power. (Though, if you've ever spent any time with a baby, then you'll know you don't have to be big and strong to be powerful!) The coming of another human being, not a heavenly army. An everyday event, not a great spectacle. And yet, each of those were happening simultaneously. While a young woman gave birth to a helpless babe, angels sang and a star moved. Peasants and wise men came looking for him. And God was on earth.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

December 23rd - Jesus is the Light of the World

Jesus is Light of the World

John 1:1-14

"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." (John 1:5 TNIV)

Light guides.
Light dispels darkness.
Light reveals.
Light helps things grow.
Light shows things as they really are.
Light cheers us.
Light warns.
Light highlights.
Light breaks through.
Light reflects.

Jesus is the Light of the World. Amid all kinds of darkness, we celebrate the birth of Light.

"Dear God, thank you for your Son"

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

December 18th - Jesus is Lord

 Jesus is Lord

Exodus 20

Jesus is Lord. So easy to say. But what does it mean?

"If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9)

I can confess it with my mouth, but if I do not understand, then how can I believe it in my heart?
The 10 Commandments - Jesus is Lord
"And God spoke all these words:
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
“You shall have no other gods before me." (Exodus 20:1-3)

If Jesus is God, then He is Lord. He is the Supreme Ruler of all. There can be nothing and no one above Him. In every decision, every thought, every action and word, Jesus must come first, before our families, our friends, our jobs, our money, our free time, our Christmas presents!

"Dear God, help us to put you first this Christmas. Help us to remember why we are celebrating."


Monday, 17 December 2012

December 17th - Jesus is Wisdom

Jesus is Wisdom

Proverbs 8

"And as Jesus grew up, he increased in wisdom and in favour with God and people." (Luke 2:52)

Proverbs 8 personifies Wisdom, and makes clear statements about Wisdom's role in Creation:

I was there when he set the heavens in place,
    when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep, 
when he established the clouds above
    and fixed securely the fountains of the deep, 
when he gave the sea its boundary
    so the waters would not overstep his command,
and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.
Then I was constantly at his side.
I was filled with delight day after day,
    rejoicing always in his presence,
rejoicing in his whole world     
Jesus is Wisdomand delighting in humankind. (Proverbs 8:27-31)

Sunday, 16 December 2012

December 16th - John the Baptist

John the Baptist

Luke 1:39-45, Mark 1:1-8

John the Baptist was Jesus' cousin. They quite possibly spent much time together growing up, and perhaps knew each other really well. Jesus grieved when He heard about John's death. Even before they were born, John recognised who Jesus was. He leapt in his mother's womb when the pregnant Mary approached. There can be no argument that John was merely brought up thinking that Jesus was special - his spirit recognised his God before they even met in person!
John the BaptistIt is difficult to acknowledge that someone you grew up with is better than you, more important, more special, and yet John willingly got down on his knees before Jesus. He reccognised God and responded to Him, acknowledging that he was not worthy even to touch his feet. Interesting to note that when Jesus was grown, He bent to clean the feet of others unworthy of touching Him.
John said of Jesus: "He must become greater; I must become less." (John 3:30)

Listen to the following song, written by Matt Redman, and meditate on what it means for Jesus to increase and us to decrease:
You Must Increase

"Dear God, help me to recognise you and respond to your presence. Enable me to become more like you. You must increase; I must decrease, Lord."

Saturday, 15 December 2012

December 15th - Mary

Mary

Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38

What a brave woman Mary was. She risked being an outcast, and even being stoned to death, in order to be a part of God's plan for the world. She was the perfect example of obedience to bring up Jesus to also follow His Father's plan. I wonder how much she understood about what God asked of her. The Bible account doesn't tell us whether the angel told her more about the plan, or the sadness she would face, but the young virgin bowed to God's will and agreed to follow Him. The following link will take you to a beautiful song about Mary and her journey with Jesus:
"When you kiss your little baby, you kiss the face of God."

Mary
"Dear God, help me to say, 'Yes,' to you, so that I can share in your plan for the world."

Friday, 14 December 2012

December 14th - Joseph

Joseph

Matthew 1:18-25

Joseph the CarpenterJoseph was chosen to be Jesus's earthly father. He agreed to bring up a child who everyone around them would have presumed was illicitly conceived, either through Mary's infidelity or through Joseph's premarital indiscretion. Either way, Joseph would have been the subject of a fair bit of gossip and perhaps pity. However, God revealed the truth to him. The child Mary was carrying was God's son. Not Joseph's, but not the son of any other man either.

Amid the gossip, the pity, the looks down noses, Joseph could be secure in the knowledge that he had been chosen to care for, bring up and teach God's own Son. What an honour. What a huge responsibility.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

December 13th - Solomon

Solomon

1 Kings 3:5-14, 16-28

SolomonThe people of Solomon's kingdom were more important to him than riches and power. When God offered him anything he wanted, Solomon chose wisdom, that he might be a better king and ruler for his people.

At Christmas we celebrate God coming to earth; a new King was born whose wisdom is infinite, and whose love for His people is greater even than Solomon's.

Solomon built the temple - Jesus is the temple.

"Dear God, help me to be wise and make good decisions."

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

December 12th - David

David

1 Samuel 17:12-51

David was a man after God's heart. He trusted his God to keep His promises.  He stood up to Goliath, secure in the knowledge that God plus one is the majority, and by defeating him, David saved the Israelites from slavery. He was courageous and strong and trusted in God for deliverance and victory. And he loved God deeply.

Star of DavidAt Christmas, we celebrate freedom. Jesus's birth prompted great celebration in Heaven. The angels sang to announce His birth, because it was the beginning of our release from the bonds of sin. It can be hard to remember amid all the parties and presents and family strife that Jesus is at the centre. We need to chase after God's heart and Christmas is a perfect time to start chasing.

"Dear God, help me to have a good and kind heart, and help me to be brave."

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

December 11th - Jesse

Jesse

1 Samuel 16:1-13

JesseJesse is almost a non-character. He is a shepherd and the father of eight sons; the father of the future king. But we know nothing else about him. He isn't powerful or famous. He doesn't perform any great feats. And yet he is chosen to father a king. And to be the root of the prophecy about the promised Messiah.

Parenthood can be a lonely road at times. We're on our own, even when well supported. Our decisions, our actions, will affect our children's futures. The responsibility is huge. There are daily screw ups. Constant feelings of guilt, worry, terror! If I do this, will she end up like that? Am I ruining her prospects? Should she be doing this, that or the other by now? I hope I will one day be rewarded by seeing that my parenting has paid off, that I have brought up a strong, generous, kind and clever woman of God. That she will be a credit to me.

Monday, 10 December 2012

December 10th - Samuel

Samuel

1 Samuel 3

Samuel
Samuel was another longed-for son. In gratitude for hearing her prayers for a son, Samuel's mother, Hannah, dedicated his life to God. Samuel grew up in the Temple, serving God. He heard God's voice. God spoke through Him. Samuel was with God. In Jesus we have Emmanuel - God with us. We can all hear God, all have a relationship with Him, because Jesus came to earth and lived like us.

Dear God, let me hear you when you call.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

December 9th - Moses

Moses
MosesExodus 2:1-10

There are so many similarities in the stories of Moses and Jesus. Matthew's Gospel draws many of these parallels out. Both were babies under threat of death from their rulers; both found safety in Egypt; both were given huge, terrifying missions by God; both were destined to lead people to freedom.

"Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:11) Christmas is the time to give thanks that God cares about us so much; that He loves enough to become like us and do what we can't to save us. Jesus grew like us, but was aware that His Heavenly Father had a bigger plan.

How do we respond? We can make sure our Christmas celebrations aren't entirely materialistic. We can use the time when we remember a birth and the threat to a baby's life as a time to speak out against the daily threats to unborn babies' lives. We can try to make the lives of those around us more pleasant and easier, and give from our plenty to those who have little.

"Dear God, let me have the courage to do what you ask of me and help me to bring freedom to all of your children."

Saturday, 8 December 2012

December 8th - Joseph

Joseph

Genesis 37:23-28; 45:3-15

JosephToday's symbol is a multicoloured tunic, representing Joseph and the great love his father had for him. There are a number of ways in which Joseph could be compared to Jesus. At Christmas we are celebrating the arrival of God's son, whom He would refer to as beloved. And, like Joseph, Jesus was betrayed by those closest to him, sold for silver coins. Yet both forgave those who had harmed them.

Friday, 7 December 2012

December 7th - Jacob

Jacob:
Jacob's LadderToday we read Genesis 25:19-34; 28:10-22. Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, met with God in a dream and learned that the promise made to his grandfather would be fulfilled through his line. God would bless all people through Jacob. Upon waking from the dream, Jacob announced, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” (Genesis 28:16)
My favourite advent hymn is O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. Advent is the time of waiting, hoping for the arrival of God in human form. Jesus was called Emmanuel, which means 'God with us'. At Christmas we celebrate God coming to earth to be with us, humbling himself to walk amongst us and be like us. He would no longer just be found in one place; He would no longer be unapproachable - in Jesus we find our personal, universal God, and we can be with Him anywhere and everywhere.

"Dear God, help me to see that the whole world is your home."

Thursday, 6 December 2012

December 6th - Isaac

Isaac:

A ramIsaac was a long awaited child. Abraham and Sarah were old, and despite God's promise of descendants, they struggled to believe they would ever become parents. When Isaac was born there must have been absolute delight and happiness - his name means laughter, after all. So when we read in Genesis 22:1-14 how God asked Abraham to sacrifice his precious son, it's impossible to understand how Abraham was able to trust God in that situation. He must have believed God's promises so strongly that there was no doubt that God would provide in some way, which He did with the ram in the bush.


Wednesday, 5 December 2012

December 5th - Abraham

Abraham

Genesis 12:1-3 is where we find God's promise to Abraham. The promise is that Abraham will have descendants too numerous to count, and that through him all people will be blessed.

Genesis 15:5Fast forward to Jesus, a descendant of Abraham. At Christmas we celebrate the birth of the one who would fulfil the second part of God's promise: Jesus, through His death and resurrection has enabled all people to be blessed, if they choose to follow Him.

This advent we can think about ways in which we can bless others. Inviting people for a meal; sharing the good news of Jesus; praying for someone; giving to charity. There are so many ways to share the blessings we have received.

"Dear God, help me to be a blessing to others."

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

December 4th - Noah

Noah's ArkNoah

The story of Noah is found in Genesis 6-9. We discovered a number of parallels between Noah and Jesus, the first being that they were both good at carpentry!

God used both for salvation: Noah brought a physical salvation for his family, the animals and the future of humanity through building the Ark; Jesus brought spiritual salvation for all who believe in Him through His death on the cross.

Monday, 3 December 2012

December 3rd - Fall of Man

Fall of Man

Forbidden Fruit
Forbidden Fruit
Whether we believe that Adam and Eve were real people, or representations of the whole human race, we cannot deny that somehow sin entered the world. The first people on earth disobeyed God, and everybody since has followed in their footsteps. From a very young age the forbidden is attractive. My fifteen month old daughter will approach the coffee table and look at me, shaking her head, before putting her hand on the mug that was supposed to be out of her reach. She knows she's not supposed to, but goes for it anyway.



Sunday, 2 December 2012

December 2nd - Adam & Eve

Adam & Eve Jesse Tree decoration
Adam & Eve
Adam and Eve

Today's reading comes from Genesis 2:7-24, where we see God creating man and woman. God says that it is not good for the man to live alone, which is why He creates woman to be his helper and companion. We humans are made for each other, not just as couples, but as friends, families, communities. We cannot exist alone; we must rely upon others and, in turn, allow them to lean upon us.
We remember also that it was through Jesus that we were created, and yet He chose to become like His own creations.


Saturday, 1 December 2012

December 1st - Creation



Creation

Beauty of CreationWe went for a walk at a nature reserve today, so that we could take some time to enjoy God's creation. And it really was beautiful. The sun hung low in the sky, casting a golden glow upon the water. The bare trees swayed gently in the breeze, dark against the frosty sky. The air was bitterly cold, making my ears tingle and adding a necessity to holding the hubby's hand, for I had forgotten my gloves. There's something thrilling about the cold of winter. It makes me feel more alive, though I did envy B, wrapped up in the sling, snuggled against Daddy's chest. When I see the natural world, I find it difficult to understand how anyone could fail to see the hand of the Creator in it all.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Jesse Tree


Isaiah 11:1-5 Jesse Tree
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse
Isaiah 11:1-5
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
    from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
    the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
    the Spirit of counsel and of might,
    the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
    or decide by what he hears with his ears;
but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
    with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
    with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
Righteousness will be his belt
    and faithfulness the sash around his waist.

Bible in a Year - Day 217

Day 214 - Psalm 65, 66 & 67; Romans 2
You who answer prayer,
    to you all people will come.

When we were overwhelmed by sins,    you forgave our transgressions. (Psalm 65:2-3)
You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds,
    God our Savior,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
    and of the farthest seas... (Psalm 65:5)
You care for the land and water it;
    you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
    to provide the people with grain,
 
 for so you have ordained it. (Psalm 65:9)
He turned the sea into dry land,
    they passed through the waters on foot—
    come, let us rejoice in him. (Psalm 66:6) 

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Women Bishops

This is going to be unpopular, I'm afraid, but I don't agree with women bishops. I don't agree with women vicars either.

But you're a woman, I hear you saying. How can you agree that women are second class citizens?
I don't. I firmly believe that men and women are equal. But they are also different. Just as 3+5 and 2x4 are equal but different. We have different roles to play.

How did I come to hold this highly unpopular viewpoint? I grew up in a Catholic family, so for the majority of my life I only saw male, unmarried priests. At my Catholic secondary school, all girls, I was taught my value as a woman, and even encouraged to question the seemingly inferior role of women in the church. And, as a teenager, I very firmly believed that women should be allowed to be priests too. Hadn't we been told that in Christ there is no male or female? I went to university and joined the Christian Union which was led by a fantastic female president. I went to various Protestant churches, all with varying views on female pastors - some encouraged, some refused, some allowed joint pastoring from a married couple with the husband the ultimate leader of that church. My mum became a Catholic chaplain, able to do much of a priest's role apart from the sacraments. This has frustrated her, because she must rely on frequently unreliable men, and be treated as though her 'thoughts' on the Word are not as important or helpful.

And I became increasingly aware of the lack of strong, masculine, Christian males in the Church. There were, still are, many strong Christian women, the majority of whom are single. I was blessed to snap up one of the few eligible, single men in my church. Of the other men, most were wishy-washy in one way or another - hen-pecked, soppy, heterosexual but not particularly masculine. Where are the Christian men of the New Testament? Strong, passionate, fiery. The Church has become the refuge of women and weak men.

I began to change my mind about women in leadership within the Church. I heard some female preachers and was impressed. I loved preaching and speaking myself. But I struggled to see how a woman could lead a man successfully.

There are many ridiculous arguments against women priests - outdated opinions, bible verses taken out of context, traditions. And I don't agree with them. But all the same, I just don't think women should be priests. I'm not saying they can't, but that they shouldn't. I believe we need to hear from men and women preaching the Word. I believe that women have a huge amount of experience and knowledge to offer. But I am quite convinced that if we are to enable Christian men to be strong warriors for Christ, then we have to stop feminising the Church and emasculating them.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Bible in a Year - Day 213

Day 207 - Psalm 44, 45 & 46; Acts 25
It was not by their sword that they won the land,
    nor did their arm bring them victory;
it was your right hand, your arm,
    
 and the light of your face, for you loved them. (Psalm 44:3)
God is our refuge and strength,     
an ever-present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

Monday, 19 November 2012

Bible in a Year - Day 206

Day 200 - Psalm 25, 26 & 27; Acts 20:17-38
He guides the humble in what is right    
 and teaches them his way. (Psalm 25:9)
The Lord is my light and my salvation –
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life –
    

 of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1) 
For in the day of trouble
    he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
     

and set me high upon a rock. (Psalm 27:5)
Though my father and mother forsake me,     
the Lord will receive me. (Psalm 27:10) 

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Thankful Thursday - My NCT Group

Today I want to tell you why I love my NCT group. We met when we all did the NCT Antenatal course together, back in the summer of 2011. We try to meet up as much as we can, and it is so encouraging when we do. B is entering the tantrum phase, and when we're at home alone I find it so stressful, even isolating. But when I get together with our NCT group, I'm encouraged because their babies are at the same stage. It's wonderful to know you're not alone, especially in the difficult stages.

I also love the fact that these 9 children will grow up knowing one another, and will hopefully all be friends for a good long time. They are so lovely together now, and while I know some parents feel competitive over their children, this group isn't like that at all. Everyone is so supportive and kind to each other.

It's also good to have these mums as friends. When we moved here, I knew no one but the hubby's family, so the NCT Antenatal course was perfect for meeting new people, and now I feel I have 8 lovely friends that I didn't have before.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Empowering My Daughter

An article I wrote for Plus Parents Magazine:
Personal Stories November 2012
By: Laura Moore
 


Being overweight has been a constant issue in my life. I worked hard at school; I learnt how to make people laugh; I was friendly to everyone; but I never felt comfortable. It was always a case of making myself seem as small as possible, in the hope that people wouldn't notice me, or of being over-the-top funny in order to take the attention away from my size. I absolutely hated my body, and I knew it was the reason I never had a boyfriend. There was no way any man would ever be attracted to me. I was wrong, of course. In 2009 I married a tall, handsome man, in whom all my husband requirements were fulfilled. And he thinks I'm beautiful.

I grew up in a Christian family. We were brought up to believe that God doesn't make mistakes, and that we were "fearfully and wonderfully made." My body is "a temple of the Holy Spirit," and as such I ought to treat it with the utmost respect and care. But from the age of five years old I steadily increased in weight. I was put on steroids for my asthma, and despite only eating what the rest of my (slim and slender) family were eating, I got bigger and bigger. There were clear signs that my hormones were at fault, though doctor after doctor failed to pick up or acknowledge that, until I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) at the age of 27. One doctor even told me that perhaps I was just meant to be fat! I was bullied at school. I couldn't find fashionable clothes to fit me. I felt decidedly ugly. How could I reconcile what I saw in the mirror with this idea that my body was a perfect creation?

It wasn't until just over a year ago that I finally saw my body for what it really is...

I still don't see the beauty that my husband tells me is there, though I'm working on it. I'm four sizes bigger than the average UK or US woman; my stomach is big and hangs down; I have bingo-wings. However, I now have deep respect, pride and love for my body. Yes, I love my body - not for how it looks, but for what it has achieved. It is imperfect, but it is incredible. This body grew a baby, and birthed her naturally. For 9 months a little person lived inside me. She grew healthy and strong, and she is absolutely perfect. She's only a year old, so she has no hang ups about her body. I don't know at what age she will start to notice herself or begin to doubt her own beauty. News articles speak of seven year olds going on diets; my friend's three year old is worried that she isn't pretty; I was five when I was called a witch because I had black hair.

For now she is safe, but the older my daughter gets, the less I will be able to shield her. I can keep fashion magazines out of our house, but I won't be able to control what other people say to her. I can tell her every day how beautiful she is, but I can't dictate how other children will treat her.  What I can do is give her the tools to deal with those words and the feelings they will evoke; I can teach her the truth about her body; and I can model good self esteem. I will teach her about the sanctity of life; that all people are to be valued and respected regardless of how they look or what they can and can't do; and that no matter what someone else says, it is how God sees her and how she feels about herself that are paramount. But the most important thing I can do for her is to be constantly affirmative and positive about myself.

Everywhere we look, women are being told what is beautiful, and if we don't live up to the airbrushed images we see, then we fall short of beauty. I do not know a single woman who is happy with the way she looks. We are striving for unattainable perfection, and even when others do not criticise, we are our own worst enemies. Sometimes I have to check myself as I become aware that if I spoke about someone else the way I speak about myself, then I would be the rudest, most unkind and insensitive person I have ever met. As Kate Winslet said in a recent interview, "When I was growing up there wasn't one woman in my environment who I heard saying something positive about her body. Everything I heard was negative, negative, negative." I have made the decision to be different, for if my daughter is to grow up thinking positively of herself and her body, I must model this behaviour myself. I must accept and love the way I look, and talk only well of it. I must be positive for her sake

Through her birth, my perfect daughter has enabled me to accept that I am a perfect creation, and I in turn will help her to grow up knowing that she too is perfect.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Bible in a Year - Day 199

Day 193 - Psalm 4, 5 & 6; Acts 16:16-40
In peace I will lie down and sleep,
    for you alone, Lord,
    make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8)
But I, by your great love,
    can come into your house;
in reverence I bow down
    towards your holy temple. (Psalm 5:7)

 Turn, Lord, and deliver me;    save me because of your unfailing love. (Psalm 6:4)
The Lord has heard my cry for mercy;    the Lord accepts my prayer. (Psalm 6:9)
...he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God – he and his whole household. (Acts 16:34) 

Monday, 5 November 2012

Bible in a Year - Day 192

Day 186 - Job 29 & 30; Acts 12
Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. (Acts 12:7)
Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.” (Acts 12:11)

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Thankful Thursday - The Right Support

Today I want to say how grateful I am for the Attachment Parenting group I am a part of. It's so wonderful to be with people who don't make me feel weird for 'still' breastfeeding. (Seriously, why would I give up the easiest way of calming a tantrum, easing the pain of a bumped head and settling to sleep?!) I love being able to discuss slings and cloth nappies. And it's so encouraging to be able to talk about frequent night wakings without hearing the dubious advice of controlled crying or cry it out; to learn what normal child behaviour is; and to feel reassured about the parenting choices the hubby and I are making.

I am also grateful for Attachment Parenting, because it helps me to understand how God parents us. He meets our needs, and never leaves us to cry alone. Even when we need to 'cry', He holds us throughout. I think I shall write a post about God as the Ultimate Attachment Parent one day!

If you're interested in Attachment Parenting, check out the following sites:
http://www.attachmentparenting.co.uk/
http://www.askdrsears.com/?q=topics/attachment-parenting
http://www.attachmentparenting.org/

What are you grateful for this week?

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Halloween

Evil exists.

Every time we read a newspaper or watch the news, we see the actions of evil in the world.

Paedophilia, murder, bombings, torture, kidnappings.

Every day we complain about the dreadful things that people do to each other.

Three Wise Monkeys
See no evil; speak no evil; hear no evil.
Except for one day.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Tagging Tuesday - The Arts

Today I have two arty recommendations for you:

Firstly, a blog that I was recently introduced to by a friend - The Imagination Tree. It's full of fabulous arty, crafty ideas to do with children. There are activities for younger children too, so I can even try some out with B. Interesting and useful for parents, teachers and children & youth workers.

Secondly, a site with some beautiful photography: Anna Hornby Photography. I think the photographs are beautiful and incredibly well shot. I don't know a lot about photography, so I can't talk technically, but they're definitely worth looking at. Some are for sale too.

And finally, here's a bonus - a site that might just help you out:
99 Life Hacks to make your life easier!

Any blogs or sites to recommend this week?

Monday, 29 October 2012

Bible in a Year - Day 185

Day 179 - Job 10, 11 & 12; Acts 8:1-25
You gave me life and showed me kindness,and in your providence watched over my spirit. (Job 10:12)
In his hand is the life of every creature
and the breath of every human being. (Job 12:10)

Friday, 26 October 2012

Foody Friday - Ready, Steady, Bake!

My week has been full of baking. Coffee and walnut cake for my Dad's birthday. I had to make this twice as the first time I forgot to dissolve the coffee before mixing it into the batter! Result: an ok tasting sponge with flecks of coffee granules through - saved it for home consumption only!
Giant Fondant FancyI have also made our Christmas cake, giving plenty of time to feed it full of sherry. Christmas cake making time is one of my favourites. The house smells warm and spicy, and my hands take on a citrus scent from zesting the lemon and orange. I love to see the jewelled fruits shining as they get stirred into the batter. And this year I added two tablespoons of sloe gin at the end, due to being short of brandy - touch I hope will add an extra depth to the cake. And having made the cake, we're now on the countdown to Christmas - my favourite time of year.



Thursday, 25 October 2012

Thankful Thursday - Mum's the Word!

This week I am super grateful for my Mum. The hubby was away for one night, and Mum came to stay over to keep me company and keep me sane. She took us out to Ikea too - always good for a fun day out. But there's so much more about my mum that makes me want to thank her.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Tagging Tuesday

I love reading other people's blogs. There are so many clever, funny and interesting people out there. Some of the blogs I read are really quite well known and popular; others have fewer readers and/or are just starting out. Most of them have entered my awareness through recommendations from others. So, it's about time I started recommending them to you...

Monday, 22 October 2012

Bible in a Year - Day 178

Day 172 - Nehemiah 12 & 13; Acts 4:23-37
With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there was no needy person among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need. (Acts 4:33-35)

Friday, 19 October 2012

Foody Friday

In a bid to save money, be healthier and eat a more varied menu each week, we decided to start getting an organic vegetable box delivered. So, last Friday we received our first box of Abel & Cole organic veg, and it was tasty! It's definitely saved us money, as there was no need to pop out to the supermarket for a couple of things, which always ends up with us buying a couple of bags worth and spending far too much. And we've enjoyed some really delicious meals this week. I always plan the menu for at least the week, though I did it for three weeks this month, and then I do an online shop for meat and long-lasting foods. Our dinners were starting to look a bit samey, so the injection of these scrummy vegetables - some of which I just wouldn't think to buy normally - has really livened up our meal times.

Romanesco Cauliflower
Romanesco Cauliflower - God's own vegetable!
What was in our box, I hear you asking.
Fennel
Kale
Onions
Carrots
Celery
Romanesco Cauliflower
Portobello Mushrooms
Cos Lettuce


Thursday, 18 October 2012

Thankful Thursday

Before I was a mummy, I was a teacher. An English teacher, to be precise. My love of correct grammar and punctuation was actually important, and something I could inflict upon others and be paid to do so. I loved teaching. I especially loved teaching my lower ability classes. At the end of each day I felt I had achieved something. With one class it might be that they could all now use an apostrophe correctly; with another it could be that they were able to construct brilliant introductions to their essays and understand how to include quotations; with one class, it was a successful lesson if I had got them all sitting where I wanted them to, and been able to do the register without interruption! It's amazing how thankful those little things could make me. And I rarely felt that a day had gone by without anything to be thankful for. Even if the kids had been difficult all day, my colleagues were fabulous. (Note here - I'm not talking about working at that dreadful school in Yateley, but the wonderful one in Winchester.)

Monday, 15 October 2012

Bible in a Year - Day 171

Day 165 - Ezra 3, 4 & 5; John 20
Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. (John 20:21-22) 


Day 166 - Ezra 6, 7 & 8; John 21
On the twelfth day of the first month we set out from the Ahava Canal to go to Jerusalem. The hand of our God was on us, and he protected us from enemies and bandits along the way. (Ezra 8:31)
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’
‘Yes, Lord,’ he said, ‘you know that I love you.’
Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs.’
Again Jesus said, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’
He answered, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’
Jesus said, ‘Take care of my sheep.’
The third time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ He said, ‘Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.’
Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep. (John 21:15-17)

Monday, 8 October 2012

Bible in a Year - Day 164

Day 158 - 2 Chronicles 20, 21 & 22; John 16:1-15
He said: ‘Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. (2 Chronicles 20:15)
 

Day 159 - 2 Chronicles 23, 24 & 25; John 16:16-33
‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’ (John 16:33)

Monday, 1 October 2012

Bible in a Year - Day 157

Day 151 - 1 Chronicles 28 & 29; John 11:47-57
David also said to Solomon his son, ‘Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished. (1 Chronicles 28:20)

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Growing Up

When I think of the achievements in my life - graduating, paying council tax, getting married, buying a house, having a baby - not one of them has made me feel as much like a proper adult as finding myself on holiday, eating homemade egg and cress sandwiches and drinking coffee from a flask at a National Trust site! Oh yes! In that, I reached the summit of growing up, and all before turning 30. It's all about maturity from here on in.

The hubby, on the other hand, took being a grown up a little too far this week. He had a rant about the council and their poor recycling policy, and he found his first grey chest hair. It's like being married to Victor Meldrew!

Monday, 24 September 2012

Bible in a Year - Day 150

Day 144 - 1 Chronicles 8, 9 & 10; John 8:37-59


Day 145 - 1 Chronicles 11, 12 & 13; John 9:1-23
The ark of God remained with the family of Obed-Edom in his house for three months, and the Lord blessed his household and everything he had. (1 Chronicles 13:14)
As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’
‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. (John 9:1-3)
After saying this, he spat on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. ‘Go,’ he told him, ‘wash in the Pool of Siloam’ (this word means ‘Sent’). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. (John 9:6-7)

Friday, 14 September 2012

Holiday?

They say a change is as good as a rest. Well, I'm about to put that to the test. You see, we're about to go on our first family holiday, just the three of us, not staying with friends or family. Only I'm not sure there is such a thing as a holiday when you have a baby.

Hubby gets time off work - he can sleep longer, leave his laptop and his Blackberry behind, and someone else will deal with the customers.

I will be doing what I normally do: being a mummy, with all that entails, including nighttime breastfeeds, waking when the baby wakes, keeping the three of us organised, watered and fed. I won't be resting.

He's going to be doing all the nappy changes though. That's our deal. And I'll be allowed to go to the toilet alone.

Now, if I can just wangle the odd relaxing bath, I can have a change AND a rest...

Monday, 10 September 2012

Bible in a Year - Day 136

Day 130 - 1 Kings 19 & 20; John 2
All at once an angel touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat.’ He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. (1 Kings 19:5-6)
Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water’; so they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them, ‘Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.’
They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realise where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, ‘Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.’ (John 2:7-10)

Friday, 7 September 2012

The Biggest Bed In The World by Lindsay Camp

The Biggest Bed in the WorldFor her birthday, B received many books. I am pleased - I'm an English teacher, remember - though I will have to start moving some of mine to our bedroom shelves to make room for hers in the lounge!
One of the best she got given was 'The Biggest Bed In The World' by Lindsay Camp and brilliantly illustrated by Jonathan Langley. If ever there was a story that supported our parenting choices, this is it. After seeing so many children's books where babies sleep alone in cots and drink from bottles, it was a pleasant surprise to see a picture of the mum breastfeeding her baby, and that co-sleeping was the premise of the book.
I was slightly discouraged when the dad made a fuss about the sleeping arrangements; such a stereotype, I thought. But, without ruining the story, I can tell you that I was very pleased by what I consider to be a happy ending!
I think this might become our family's biography.

What children's books have you discovered that support your parenting choices?

Monday, 3 September 2012

Bible in a Year - Day 129

Day 123 - 1 Kings 3, 4 & 5; Luke 23:1-26
When all Israel heard the verdict the king had given, they held the king in awe, because they saw that he had wisdom from God to administer justice. (1 Kings 3:28)
God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore. (1 Kings 4:29)

Day 124 - 1 Kings 6 & 7; Luke 23:27-38
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

Day 125 - 1 Kings 8 & 9; Luke 23:39-56
You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it—as it is today. (1 Kings 8:24)
Praise be to the Lord, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses. (1 Kings 8:56)

Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

Friday, 31 August 2012

Baby Weigh-In Surprise

So, yesterday, I fully intended to put B in the sling and walk to Tiny Times at the Sure Start Centre to get her weighed. I haven't done this for several months, and the curiosity was getting the better of me. No matter that she has her 1 year review next week - I need to put her weight at 1 year old into her baby book, don't I?
Well, it looked like rain. We stayed at home. No walk for me, so I decided I'd better get on the Wii Fit and burn some calories. And then I had my genius idea! I would weigh B on the balance board, no probs.
I designed a Mii to look a bit like her. Short, big round head, large doe eyes, little rosebud mouth. Fine, but she looked like a grown up - that was a bit freaky.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Take One Half Empty Carton of Buttermilk...

This week we are mostly using up leftovers and tins that have been in the cupboard since before B was born.
I have become quite aware recently that we spend too much money on food, and now our daughter will more often than not eat an adult sized portion for dinner, I need to find ways to cut back on the cost of food. With sensible purchasing of a few items here and there, I think we'll manage at least a week with what we already have in the house.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

My Breastfeeding Journey... So far

Yesterday was my daughter's 1st birthday. I have been breastfeeding for 1 year and 1 day.

Mother breastfeeding newborn
Our First Feed in the Hospital

I am so proud of myself for getting this far, when, at the beginning, it looked like we wouldn't even reach a week! It has not been exclusive breastfeeding, much to my dismay, but this couldn't be helped, and she has had as much as she possibly could from me.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Bible in a Year - Day 122

Day 116 - 2 Samuel 13 & 14; Luke 20:1-26 


Day 117 - 2 Samuel 15 & 16; Luke 20:27-47

Day 118 - 2 Samuel 17 & 18; Luke 21:1-19
For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. (Luke 21:15)
But not a hair of your head will perish. Stand firm, and you will win life. (Luke 21:18-19) 

Monday, 20 August 2012

Bible in a Year - Day 115

Day 109 - 1 Samuel 25 & 26; Luke 16:19-31
When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Praise be to the Lord, who has upheld my cause against Nabal for treating me with contempt. He has kept his servant from doing wrong and has brought Nabal’s wrongdoing down on his own head.” (1 Samuel 25:39)


Day 110 - 1 Samuel 27, 28 & 29; Luke 17:1-19
“If a brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” (Luke 17:3-4)


Day 111 - 1 Samuel 30 & 31; Luke 17:20-37


Day 112 - 2 Samuel 1, 2 & 3; Luke 18:1-17
For the Lord promised David, ‘By my servant David I will rescue my people Israel from the hand of the Philistines and from the hand of all their enemies.’ (2 Samuel 3:18)
And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. (Luke 18:7-8)
But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. (Luke 18:16)

Monday, 13 August 2012

Bible in a Year - Day 108

Day 102 - 1 Samuel 7, 8 & 9; Luke 13:1-21
On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God...Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?” (Luke 13:10-16)
 

Day 103 - 1 Samuel 10, 11 & 12; Luke 13:22-35
After Jacob entered Egypt, they cried to the Lord for help, and the Lord sent Moses and Aaron, who brought your ancestors out of Egypt and settled them in this place. (1 Samuel 12:8)
Then the Lord sent Jerub-Baal, Barak, Jephthah and Samuel, and he delivered you from the hands of your enemies all around you, so that you lived in safety. (1 Samuel 12:11)
For the sake of his great name the Lord will not reject his people, because the Lord was pleased to make you his own. (1 Samuel 12:22)
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. (Luke 13:34)

Monday, 6 August 2012

Bible in a Year - Day 101

Day 95 - Judges 12, 13 & 14; Luke 9:37-62
You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines. (Judges 13:5)
Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For whoever is least among you all is the greatest.” (Luke 9:48)


Day 96 - Judges 15, 16 & 17; Luke 10:1-24
Then God opened up the hollow place in Lehi, and water came out of it. When Samson drank, his strength returned and he revived. So the spring was called En Hakkore, and it is still there in Lehi. (Judges 15:19)

Monday, 30 July 2012

Bible in a Year - Day 94

Day 88 - Joshua 21 & 22; Luke 6:1-26
So the Lord gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their ancestors. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their hands. Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled. (Joshua 21:43-45)
Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?” He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was completely restored. (Luke 6:9-10)
Blessed are you who are poor,
    for yours is the kingdom of God. 
Blessed are you who hunger now,
    for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
    for you will laugh. 
Blessed are you when people hate you,
    when they exclude you and insult you
    and reject your name as evil,
        because of the Son of Man. 
Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets. (Luke 6:20-23)

Monday, 23 July 2012

Bible in a Year - Day 87

Day 81 - Joshua 4, 5 & 6; Luke 2:1-24
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord." (Luke 2:10-11)



Day 82 - Joshua 7 & 8; Luke 2:25-52
It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. (Luke 2:26)
For my eyes have seen your salvation, 
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: 
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel. (Luke 2:30-32)

Monday, 16 July 2012

Bible in a Year - Day 80

Day 74 - Deuteronomy 23, 24 & 25; Mark 14:51-72
For the Lord your God moves about in your camp to protect you and to deliver your enemies to you. Your camp must be holy, so that he will not see among you anything indecent and turn away from you. (Deuteronomy 23:14)
If a slave has taken refuge with you, do not hand them over to their master. Let them live among you wherever they like and in whatever town they choose. Do not oppress them. (Deuteronomy 23:15-16)
If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married. (Deuteronomy 24:5)
Do not take a pair of millstones—not even the upper one—as security for a debt, because that would be taking a person’s livelihood as security. (Deuteronomy 24:6)
Do not take advantage of a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether that worker is an Israelite or is a foreigner residing in one of your towns. (Deuteronomy 24:14)
Parents are not to be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their parents; each of you will die for your own sin. (Deuteronomy 24:16)

Monday, 9 July 2012

Bible in a Year - Day 73

Day 67 - Deuteronomy 3 & 4; Mark 11:20-33
Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you. (Deuteronomy 3:22)
What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him? (Deuteronomy 4:7)
But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deuteronomy 4:29)
Because he loved your ancestors and chose their descendants after them, he brought you out of Egypt by his Presence and his great strength, to drive out before you nations greater and stronger than you and to bring you into their land to give it to you for your inheritance, as it is today. (Deuteronomy 4:37-38)

Day 68 - Deuteronomy 5, 6 & 7; Mark 12:1-27
For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. (Deuteronomy 7:6)
Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. (Deuteronomy 7:9)