Moments to hold close

There is such beauty to be found in the everyday-ness of life. It’s easy to get distracted by the big picture, sometimes. You know, the ‘what have we got to get done today’ mindset. We go through our day focussed on the ‘next’ thing we need to do, then the next, then the next. Then all of a sudden it’s the end of the day, so we sleep and wake up ready to continue the endless list of tasks, and forgetting the joy and love of life.  As good as it is to be diligent and busy, it is just as good to pause to notice how many little joys are sprinkled in and between our daily jobs and routines. In fact, I think that with ‘stress’ so familiar to the modern adult, taking time to simply notice and give recognition to the joys of each day are vital combat strategies that we should all employ.

Love every moment of life with this family of mine!

Love every moment of life with this family of mine!

Whenever I share cute or funny moments with my Dad, he is always telling me to “write it down!” He tells me I’ll forget – and regret – if I don’t. And he’s right! So here are some of the beautiful moments in my family this past weekend. Moments I want to remember and treasure for years to come, and which make the normality of life sparkle and shine.

  • As we drove home from church the journey was filled with worship. The CD player was loud, but the voices of my husband, son and daughter were louder. Prince held my hand, his sweet, strong voice finding the words as they came and he raised our hands up high. Princess danced, played air guitar, danced, played air drums, danced and danced some more.
  • Saturday night Hubby & I stayed up late, just watching our cute new bunnies explore the lounge. They bounded around, and we laughed together.
  • Sunday morning Hubby sat down on the couch with his Bible. One by one, without being asked, the kids and I picked up our own Bibles and sat quietly down to read, too.
  • Hubby put country music on the CD player one morning. Some songs played that I hadn’t heard for ages. We delayed our jobs to dance together in the middle of the lounge.
  • As I brushed Princess’s hair before church, we all sat on the couch together looking at old family photos on the TV slideshow, chatting about memories we share.
  • Sunday night we all snuggled up close with popcorn, fruit and veggies, and laughed together as we watch ‘The Cosby Show’ before bed.
  • My Prince so often tells me he loves me. This weekend he also reminded me that I am his best friend.
  • Bed time = prayer time. Each night we pray together, and I am always moved by the deep heart-felt prayers of my kids. Sunday night Prince prayed he would be a ‘faithful warrior’ for God, and Princess thanked her ‘Dear Father in heaven’ for friends.

Ten ways to say ‘I love you’

Having a family is a beautiful gift. I am daily overwhelmed by the blessings God has chosen to give me!  Today I want to encourage us to remember to tell our husband and children how special they are to us.  Here are ten simple ways I thought of…

  1. Leave a note in a packed lunch.  Thank your husband for supporting your family. Tell a child you are praying for them today. Draw and colour a heart for your toddler.
  2. Plan and prepare a special meal.  It could be your husband’s favourite dish, a picnic on the dining room floor, or a themed dinner with decorations.
  3. Take time to join in a favourite activity.  Suggest an evening of computer games to your husband. Ask your children if they want to play hide and seek. Say ‘yes’ without hesitation if asked to join a family member in something they are doing.
  4. Say it. Say ‘I love you’ when your husband leaves and when he come home. Say ‘I love you’ when your kids wake up and when they go to sleep. Say ‘I love you’ at random times through the day. And when you say it, say it whole-heartedly.
  5. Go on a date.  Find a babysitter and take your husband out to the movies. Treat each child to a special one-on-one time at the park, McDonald’s, or Dairy Queen.
  6. Honour a person for a day.  Choose one family member and put and pictures of them around the house, leave encouraging messages for them on the fridge, pray over them at meal time. The next day/week/month choose a different member to honour.
  7. Be understanding.  If your husband comes home exhausted, offer him a hot bath and the remote control instead of expecting him to help with the kids. If a child is disappointed over something you consider insignificant, make the effort to see things from their perspective and offer support rather than simply dismissing the issue or disciplining unfeelingly.
  8. Save treats for your family.  If you make brownies for the neighbours, save some for your husband and children. If you knit blankets for charity, knit one for your family too. Don’t offer to others what you are not offering to your husband and kids.
  9. Create a family night.  Whether regular or a one-off, choose a night to devote to your family. Watch a movie with popcorn. Have a board game marathon. Tell funny stories. Eat homemade snacks.
  10. Serve with joy.  Sing while you wash dishes. Smile when you serve up lunch. Mention things you are thankful for instead of things that frustrate you.

What can you add to this list?

All things bright and beautiful

Yesterday the kids and I went with some of our homeschool friends to the Natural History Museum in Tring. It was incredible! If ever you need a reminder of the awesomeness of creation, this is a great place to go. By the end of the day I had a renewed appreciation of the beauty and wonder God has put into the world, and of His majesty and power.

The green field - I caught it on camera on the way back home.

Tring is about just over an hour away from us, but due to rain and road works the journey took us two hours to get there. It was a pretty grey day, and I was looking out the wet windows as we drove along the motorway, not seeing anything of particular interest. Suddenly, as we rounded a curve in the road, a gorgeous bright yellow-green field came into view. It took my breath away! I was awed by the simple beauty of the crop, as it stood out bold and cheerful though dull, damp air. Wow – God can sure paint a scene!

The view across the hills as we left the motorway.

As we drew nearer to Tring the weather cleared up a bit. The blue sky brightened the day as we turned off the main motorway and began to drive along the winding roads. The countryside here was soft and green, with rolling hills, grazing sheep, and dandelions providing spots of yellow colour. I wished I had time to stop and walk though it all, and really take it in. As it was I had to simply enjoy it as we whizzed past, and attempt some pictures with my HTC phone camera!

God is amazing!

By the time we arrived I already knew that I would have to share this wondrous beauty with you all today. Little did I know what was waiting inside to confirm that decision! The car park was tiny and subjected to construction work, and the building looked like it could hardly hold anything of value. I gathered a few of the kids while our driver kindly went to look for a parking space further afield, and we walked into the building. We were greeted by friendly people, who showed us where to buy some activity sheets for the children. After spending £1.50, gathering pencils and drawing boards, and checking I had the right number of kids with me, we entered the first gallery.  Wow.

I could have stayed in this gallery for hours. I think we did spend about 45 minutes there. It was a small room for a museum – hardly bigger than the square footage of my flat – but it was packed from floor to ceiling with animals. There were bears, wolves, gorillas, big cats and birds of all kinds. Up above we could also see glimpses of safari and ocean creatures, which we saw in more detail when we got upstairs to gallery three.

It’s hard to say what my favourite part of the museum was, but I can narrow it down to three top experiences:

  1. Seeing the incredible beauty of a huge variety of birds up close.  I  have never been particularly interested in birds, but I’ve been getting more taken with them as I get older. Yesterday upped my interest a lot!  There so many varieties, and all so beautifully and intricately designed.
  2. The delighted cries and amazed faces of the children.  From the moment we entered until we left the children were moving from display to display, calling out for us to look at each new amazing discovery. They loved being so close up to the animals, seeing what they really look like. They took time to learn new facts, compare and contrast species and draw their favourite creatures.
  3. The ocean gallery.  Prince is very into ocean creatures at the moment, and whenever he is passionate about a topic I find myself being drawn into it too. The coral, crabs and sharks were particular favourites of mine in this section.  There was such detail, beauty and power in these creatures.

We stopped for a yummy indoor picnic half way through our exploring, and then made our way around the last galleries in the museum. After browsing the gift shop (Prince bought a pen for drawing with his own money), and a last trip to the loo, we walked back to the car. It was parked down a little village street, opposite fields where a few handsome horses were grazing.  Just lovely.

In our bedtime prayers we all thanked God for the amazing day out, and for the creation which we were blessed with witnessing that day.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Romans 1:20 (NIV)

Blessed be Your name

Everyone knows life has its ups and downs. Right now mine is on an ‘up’! Eight months ago my husband, kids and I followed God’s direction and moved back to England after three amazing years in Canada. It was – and still is – a wrench to be away from people there whom we love very much. But our God is so faithful, and He has blessed us so much.

  • My husband recently got a job that he LOVES, and it’s going well (he’s had a series of not very nice jobs before this).
  • We moved into a flat on our own for the first time in nearly nine years (that’s an ‘apartment’ for those of you on the other side of the Atlantic).
  • We joined a local homeschool club, and the kids and I have both made lots of wonderful new friends.
  • I have ministry opportunities in my church here which allow me to use the skills I learnt in Canada, but in a way which doesn’t encroach on my time at home so much.
  • I now have more time to focus on raising my kids and tending my home.

My precious kiddies on a walk with our homeschool club.

I’ll stop there, but you get the picture: God blesses us daily!

Sometimes people say it’s hard to praise God when times are tough, as you are so frustrated; Sometimes people say it’s hard to praise God when times are good, as you are so distracted. But I want to praise God whatever my situation, just like it says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Choosing a favourite song  is very hard for me, but when pressed, there is one song that I come back to again and again: ‘Blessed be Your name’ by Matt Redman. I love the simplicity of this song – whether your life is going great or you feel like it’s crashing down, you can still praise God. You can listen to it here, and I’ll leave you with the lyrics to dwell on:

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s ‘all as it should be’
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

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