Monday, July 28, 2014

Living in a bubble


This is a topic I have been thinking about latterly and one I know many of you don't agree with. Whilst the world is full of news that is both sad and tragic, I don’t think Christians should isolate themselves from it, literally placing themselves inside a bubble and removing themselves from what is happening outside their homes. This doesn’t mean watching every piece of news or being glued  to the TV 224/7 (as that is also bad), however it does mean having an understanding of what is happening both in our own country and in the rest of the world—being up-to-date with current events.

One of the reasons why we started sponsoring a little girl in Bangladesh (14 years ago) was to make sure our sons understood that many millions of children (and their families) did not live the fortunate life they did. As they grew up, so did Shoma and they developed a greater understanding of the struggles faced by her family in a third world nation. This reality didn’t hurt or damage them, it made them more compassionate and caring towards others less fortunate. It also taught them about other parts of the world which to me is critical in any teaching. We have never sugar-coat current affairs with our children (age appropriate) to avoid the nasty bits as we don’t believe in hiding them from reality. Once grown up they will need to function and work in the real work, therefore they need to know what is going on. They also need to have the capability to cope with real world issues. 

Shoma is almost 18 and our time sponsoring her is nearing completion. I will be very willing to start sponsoring another child and do my small bit to make a differences. This is part of “loving thy neighbour” and this is one way to teach children about other children in the world.

If we remove ourselves from current events and only focus on our own lives — how easy it is to become selfish and inward looking simply because you choose to ignore their plight because it is “unpleasant” or upsets you. How do they feel?  I often wonder if this is one of the reason why we treat asylum seekers so poorly. Is it because we choose to ignore what is happening in their lives because the truth sometimes hurts.  

A Malaysian airline MH17 was shot down over the Ukrainian two weeks ago, I heard it on the radio first thing in the morning. It was a very sad thing to wake up to—but my first thoughts were to pray for all the families who had lost loved ones. To me, this is important. To the Sudanese Christian woman who was going to be executed because of her Christianity—I was able to pray for her. Her circumstances also humbled me and reminded me of how fortunate I was to live in a country where I could practice my faith openly. It can be tough to hear these stories, but we do need to be brave and strong — our lives are a breeze in comparison to many. We shouldn’t be running away and hiding in our homes just because of these disturbing events — put your feet into their shoes and imagine their lives, just for a day. They are struggling just to stay alive whilst we are arranging flowers or deciding on what book to read. It might hurt to hear this news stories but they are living them. 

I care about the homeless man I see; the children dying in South Sudan as a result of cholera; the millions of children killed or alone due to the civil war in Syria; the Palestinian children living in fear etc….  I could choose to hide away and pretend nothing bad is happening (and think life is a bed of roses), or I can listen and learn and pray. I am truly blessed with my family, my  home and the country I live in — it’s important not to forget those less far fortunate than yourselves.  We need to be aware of their struggles and not put our heads in the sand.  

However it is all about balance and self-control  — do show some interest in world events and use that knowledge to pray for others and perhaps you can make a small differences to just one other person. Whilst it would be great to think the world all lived like you and me, but it doesn't — most live far worse and we shouldn't be living in a bubble.


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Friday, July 25, 2014

Art Friday: Farming

John McCartin
Art Friday: Farming

Artists, past and present, have had a habit of making farming look romantic and very beautiful. As a farmers daughter I know that farming is both back breaking and heartbreaking and to earn an income to support one's family requires years of hard work. I loved growing up on a farm - but then again, I didn't have to do the heavy work (sorry brothers!) so to me it was idyllic and beautiful.

Please enjoy this collection of art that reminds us of the importance's of farming - they do grow the food we eat.

Robert Duncan (above and below)


Mark Keathley

Robert C Flowers
Painting by Terry Redlin. It is hard to comprehend how the early settlers managed to farm and make a living. Many in Australia found it impossible, they were so unfamiliar with the harsh climate, especially in summer during the droughts that many were forced off the land. 
Rounding up the sheep on a hot summers day in Australia by Tom Roberts
Tom Roberts - Roberts had a way of capturing farm life so beautifully. 
Iain Stewart (Scotland)
Edward McKnight Kauffer
There is always something beautiful about black cows and red buildings!
John Sloane
It would be wrong to not include one of Monet's hay stack paintings
Chickens always make a farm!
Whilst a photo - I just love the light flooding in.
Marius Van Dokkum - farmers do love to stop and have a chat!
Women often worked besides their husbands on the farm plus ran the household and care for the children. Life for women in farming communities was hard work and certainly not romantic.
Women picking peas by Camille Pissarro 
Photography by Dorothea Lang - this is what farming can look like when things go very wrong. Taken during the depression in the USA when many many farmers and their families had no choice but to walk off their land. Life can be very cruel. 
After a hard day - now its time to relax. Painting by Doug Knutson
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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I am ready . . for quilting


Ladies, I am ready!!!

I started my quilting course last night and it was great. First class was all about drafting our own patterns. In the course we learn how to make 9 different blocks (traditional) and these 9 blocks will become a 2 metre square (almost 2 yards) throw. I have gone for shades of purple.

And to get me going, I have created my very own quilting folder which I will use for ideas, patterns/designs, projects, fabrics ordered etc.. There are so many great ideas hidden away in blogs, Pinterest and in library books, that I don't want to loose them - this way I can copying and placing them in my folder

I have borrowed a heaps of books from the library, started a Pinterest folder on quilting and one on favourite fabric, bought some quilting magazines from the news agency and a box to put my new fabric in.  I have most of the tools I need but I am sure I will gather more as time goes by.

Last week I ordered fabric from Hawthorne Threads in the USA (this is an excellent website and so user friendly) and waiting with great excitement for their arrival. This fabric will be used to make a runner for our coffee table and a throw for the study. Afterwards (once I am more confident) I will make a throw for my daughter-in-law.

I will keep you posted on my quilting adventure. And like most adventures, I am sure it will have its highs and lows!! 





Fabric ready to make a throw (for the study) and a runner (for the coffee table)

Gorgeous elephants

This is for quilting class


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Monday, July 21, 2014

Teaching self-control


Whoever has no rule over his own spirit Is like a city broken down, without walls. Proverbs 25:28

As a child, every Sunday my family and I went to our uncle's home for Sunday morning meeting. When my grandfather was alive, we would gather at his home. We didn't attend a main stream church, rather our family gathered together for hymns, bible reading and pray.  Between hymns there were periods of silent which, for any child, felt like forever. It was tough going at times. As children we were expected to sit quietly, no talking, no fidgeting, no walking about and we certainly weren't allow to have any toys to play with or books to read. As the youngest I sat next to my parents and if I did anything wrong I was given "that look" which I knew meant trouble. 

From memory, I can't remember any of us getting into major trouble, we knew what was expected of us from an early age and we did as we were told - otherwise it meant trouble and perhaps the wooden spoon on our bottom once we got home.  I think fear kept us generally well behaved.

We also had to sit quietly when visiting friends (something we did occasionally on Sunday afternoons).  This wasn't as strict as Sunday morning meeting, but we were expected to be polite,  well mannered and to behave as children should - not loud or noisy and certainly not talking over  adults when they were talking. 

The need to sit quietly (which requires self control) is a skill we are loosing all too quickly. Most children at church are no longer required to sit still and keep quiet. Many children go to Sunday school where they can make as much noise as they like. Children now take toys, books and even electronic devices with them to church to keep them occupied, however I am not sure if this is really a good thing in the long term.

Children do need to learn to sit still and quiet, even for short periods of time.  Not only do they need to sit quietly, they need to learn to listen and concentrate on what is being said and that is difficult to do when playing with devices or reading books. Learning to sit still and listen teaches a child self-control, something I think is lacking in many children (and certainly some adults) these days.

There is something like 52 verses in the bible regarding self-control, which tells me this is really important for Christians. We also have examples, such as Eve, where self-control wasn't used and the consequences were not pretty at all. We need to have self-control and we need to instil it into our children from an early age.

A fool vents all his feelings, But a wise man holds them back. (Proverbs 29:11)

Sadly, we live in a world without self-control which is evident in the increase in violence, stealing, gambling, drunkenness, pornography, lying, cheating etc... making it even harder for Christians to maintain strong self-control. For Christians who do say "no" to temptation are often ridiculed and mocked for "not joining in" making the struggle even more difficult.  No wonder some Christians backslide.  However this should not come as any surprise to us, as it is clearly written in 2 Timothy 3:1-5

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

Self control is not just about learning to sit quietly in church, it involves all aspects of our lives:

  • being able to control ones emotions e.g. anger
  • being able to control what one says to another
  • being about to control lust the wandering eye and staying away from pornography
  • being able to control the amount one eats and drinks (gluttony)
  • being able to control the household budget
  • being able to control how we behave at work, at church etc.
  • being able to stick at a task that isn't very enjoyable 
  • being able to say no to sinful desires
  • being able to go to bed on time and getting up in the morning
  • being able to control time spent on the computer/TV and other electronic devices

Self control isn't always fun and in fact it can be very painful and result in suffering. This is best illustrated in a marriage. A husband is ranting at his wife, saying very hurtful words and she just wants to respond angrily, however it is in this instant that she needs to use self-control and look to the Lord Jesus Christ as her example  her words and behaviour need to be biblical. However, this is incredibly hard in the heat of an argument where there is so much pain.

Whilst 2 Timothy 3:1-5 shows us what happens to those lacking self-control,  Titus Chapter 2 shows us how we need to behave - a long list of things that relate to self control for both men and women, young and old:

But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behaviour, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things — that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.
Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.

I am certainly still working on my self-control and struggle at times to do what is right. However through much pray and bible reading, it does become easier in time (and with age). However it is important not to turn "self-control" into a pride issue e.g. "I can do it better than you". This is no better than not having self-control.

So lets work on our self-control this week and perhaps see if we can make improvements in those areas we struggle with most.


So then, my beloved brethren, 
let every man be swift to hear, 
slow to speak, 
slow to wrath. 

James 1:19

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

A day of rest



Six days may work be done; 
but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest,
 holy to the LORD.
Exodus 31:15

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We live in a 24/7 world. 

A frantic lifestyle that has now become our norm. 

No one is willing (or perhaps able) to stop for just one day a week to rest and recharge the batteries. 

We need to "unplug" and make the Lord's Day a day of rest and a time for family. 

There are so many wonderful things you can do to unwind -- sitting in the sunshine with a book (perhaps your bible), going for a gentle stroll and talking, inviting friends or family over for afternoon tea (don't make it complicated and lots of work), writing letters to loved ones or perhaps listening to hymns on a winters day.  It shouldn't be a day that you need to rush to the shops for groceries or for cleaning the house, even dinner can be a simple meal that doesn't involve to much work. Children need to learn that one day a week is special and should be set aside to "unplug" from the world and connect with the Lord.

Sadly, even Christians have lost the importances of the Lord's Day.  

Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.
Psalm 37:7

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Art Friday: Are they real (Part 1)


Are they real?

Today's Art Friday is all about realism and the incredible skill some people have with a lead pencil. None of these are photos, they are all hand-drawn and they are amazing. 

I plan to do another one of these as there is so many examples to share. 

I hope you have all had a lovely week and may the weekend be enjoyable:)
















I hope I have inspired you to sharpen your pencils are start drawing!!

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Hello sunshine


Even on a cold wet grey old day, there is still plenty of sunshine to be found - you just need to look for it. Sadly so many people grumble on a days like this, rather than looking for the joy, the simple things that can create so much sunshine into one's life.

Here are  some to my favourite activities on a cold wet day:

Reading
Sewing
Watching a heartwarming film
Listening to beautiful music
Enjoying a hot chocolate with friends
Visit the library
Make a jigsaw
Make some birthday cards
Quilting
Baking
Creating a gift to surprise someone with
Call a friend you have spoken to in years
Build a photo album
Knit
Write a letter
Listen to an audio story
Playing a board game


What do you do to bring sunshine into your life on a grey day?

We live in a world full of people who complain - they complain about everything and anything. We need to be different. Instead of complaining we need to look up and say Thankyou for all the Lord has provided, including grey days.  The Lord doesn't want us to grumble - He wants to make the best of any situation, including ones that we don't like.

We need to look to the Lord Jesus Christ as our example - He doesn't grumble at any time and He died on the cross for our sins and not a word of negativeness or whining.

He wants us to find sunshine on a grey day. 

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