Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The humble sheep

He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. (Isaiah 40:11)

Sheep, now that is a topic that most don't write about and they should !! Isn't this a gorgeous photo of mother sheep and her lambs. 

I grew up on a farm and when I was quite young my dad own sheep that were sheared and the wool sent to market. I can remember the shearers coming each year to shear, but my fondest memory of the sheep was during lambing season. Every now and again I would find a baby lamb in a box in the kitchen keeping warm by the wood stove. Sometimes they could be found in the warming drawer of the wood stove for extra warm.  I always thought it was very sweet and a wonderful sight to see at breakfast in the middle of winter. 

There are over 600 references to sheep, lambs, shepherds and ewes in the Bible, more than any other animal. The lamb is used in scripture to teach us biblical truths, one of my favourites would have to be Matthew 18:12-14. Like a shepherd who cares for his flock and searches for any that go missing, Christ will go looking for that one lost sheep out of the hundred and make sure He bring ALL the sheep home to Him. We are like sheep and wander away from the Word, get distracted and need help in finding our way home. God loves us so much that He will never give up on us and rejoices when we rejoin the flock.  He doesn't want any of his children to perish. 

If a man has a hundred sheep,
 and one of them goes astray,
 does he not leave the ninety-nine
 and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? 
And if he should find it, 
assuredly, I say to you,
he rejoices more over that sheep 
than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. 
Even so it is not the will of your Father
 who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd and we are His sheep and He is our provider and protector.  However watch out for wolves in sheep's clothing bringing false prophets.  They promise and never deliver, the tear down and cause divisions, smooth talking, cause grief and turn people away from the truth.

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 
(John 10:27-28)
Sheep are weak and many die when the weather turns bad. They are also vunerable to foxes and wolves and cannot protect themselves. Many baby lambs perish in the winter months. Some farmers use Maremma dogs to protect the flock. These dogs are accepted into the flock and the sheep know that they are there to look after them. We too are spiritually weak and need the Shepherd to guide us and protect us. The Shepherd is like the Maremma dogs - watches over us and standing guard. We know His voice, as the sheep know the voice of their shepherd and will follow him, likewise we need to stay close to our Shepherd and listen out to His voice. He will protect us in bad weather and from those who want to destroy us, like the foxes attaching the flock of sheep.  If we follow our Shepherd we will remain stay safe. 

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. 
(Psalm 23:1)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Guest writer: Miss Holly writes about handicraft skills

I would like to introduce you to my very first guest writer - Miss Holly. Miss Holly is 10 years old and my cousin's granddaughter.  She is homeschooled along with her brother. One of her hobbies is sewing and she is very talented. I thought I would ask her to share some of her projects that she has been working on which may encourage other young women and girls to sew. As Holly says, sewing allows you to make your own clothes, but as you will see in this blog post, you can also make gifts for others too. 

I hope you enjoy this blog post.

I love sewing.  I think it is an important skill for young girls to start learning at about the age of 8 (or younger if they can), and use that skill for the rest of their life.  It is important because you can’t always buy clothes that are modest or the right size.  Also, when you buy something you can’t really pick the colour of the fabric, or the print.  You can’t really pick whether it has lace or ribbon or ties at the back or not.  And if you don’t want to copy people by wearing the exact same thing, then you can sew it.  It is your choice of pattern and your design, and nobody else can have it unless you give it away or someone else copies you.
When you draw a picture, you just have a picture to show for it.  But when you sew, you feel very achieved, as if you’ve accomplished something.  You can use it, like if it’s a bag, or you can wear it if it’s clothes, or you can give it away as a gift because handmade things make great gifts.  
If you haven’t learned to sew yet, you could start by sewing something simple, like the Simplicity “Learn to Sew” patterns.  From that you will learn more skills until you are confident enough to sew anything you want, like my mummy and aunts and Cousin Jo do.

I have been sewing for years, and now I am ten years old, a decade.  I have sewn many things for myself using my sewing machine, such as:

  • A dress: the dress was rather easy, and I only made two mistakes.  I always need Mama’s help with my sewing (she did the over-locking to stop the seams fraying, and she did shirring on my dress neckline and waistline).

  • Three skirts: one skirt I sewed three years ago. The fabric is see-through, so I have to wear a slip beneath. (above - pale blue skirt with white print)
  • Another skirt I sewed a few months ago.  Two of my cousins have this style skirt with the same fabric; I helped them sew theirs, then sewed mine. (below - blue skirt with pink flowers)
  • The third skirt’s flowery fabric was bought by my honourary aunt for me on my birthday.  Mama already had the blue fabric and ribbon which we matched with it. (below - peachy-red floral skirt with blue band)

  • For two of my cousin’s birthdays, I made a headband.

  • I made some tissue holders, and Mama put them in her online shop.  Just a few of them sold though.

  • For my cousin Sammy’s birthday I made a pair of teddy pyjama shorts. 
  • I’ve also made two pairs of pyjama shorts for my Papa, which he has worn many times.
  • I made a bag for myself.  It’s a rather clever style bag because one handle slips through the other to make it closed.
  • I also sewed a winter vest using soft minky fleece.  It was thick fabric and difficult to sew on the bias binding on the edges, so Mama sewed it on for me.

I have also learned to sew by hand.  I have learned to sew on buttons and press-studs/snaps so I can repair clothes when the buttons fall off.  And Mama and I have been working on a hand-sewn quilt together.  We’re both sewing strips of squares, which we will then sew together to make the quilt.  Hand sewing is a really good skill to learn so you can mend clothes (like putting up hems when they fall down) or just sew things by hand rather than always using a machine.  It’s important to practise making very tiny, neat stitches. This is the first strip I’m working on for our quilt.
I learned to crochet, too.  It’s rather fun and easy.  I plan to make a doll’s blanket when I’ve made more granny squares.  Crocheting is a good skill to learn because then you can make warm blankets and things.  You don’t need many tools or much equipment to do it, which means you can easily take it places with you. I wanted the centre of the doll blanket to look like ladybug colours, and then with a white border. 

Years ago, Mama tried to teach me how to knit, but I just couldn’t catch on.  Then I learned how to crochet, and Mama showed me how to knit again, and I “got” it.  Then I knitted a doll shawl.  I wanted to make a scarf, but it turned out more like a shawl!  I haven’t done much knitting yet, but it is also a handy skill because you can make lots of things and you can easily carry it around wherever you go, too. (above)

For my tenth birthday, Papa and Mama gave me a weaving loom set.  I have made a purse with it already, and now I’m working on a scarf.  (above)

I have also started learning to cross-stitch.  This is the first thing I’ve been working on and it’s still not finished yet.  (above)

So as you can see, there are many things you can do with skills such as sewing, crochet, hand-sewing, knitting, cross-stitch and weaving.  I’m very thankful God has given me a mother who can teach me how to sew and learn other skills, too.  I hope you are encouraged by what I have made so that you can make things yourself like that as well!

~ Miss Holly ~


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Home is more like a bus-interchange

The buffet with some my birthday cards

Housekeeping and home life are in a state of decline. Comfort and engagement at home have diminished to the point that even simple cleanliness and decent meals - let alone any deeper satisfaction - are no longer taken for granted in many homes.  Homes today are often seem to operate on an ad hoc basis. . . . 

I couldn't agree more with Cheryl Mendelson, home has started to loose its appeal and it has become more like a bus interchange than a place where a person stops and recharges. It is now a location where family members wave at each other as they rush through on their way to all the many activities that modern families seem to be involved in.  

I have friends that not only work all day, but are often out most evenings - to restaurants, to sports events, to the cinema, visiting friends and I wonder when they are ever home. Whilst I do work during the day I rarely go out in the evenings (especially doing the week) as I love being at home doing things around the house and being with my husband. Even on weekends I avoid to many away-from-home activities so I can enjoy all the time I have at home.  Home is no longer considered a sanctuary after a weary day. Its a place to sleep and store belongings.  

. . .  Although a large enthusiastic minority of home cooks grow more and more sophisticated, the majority become even more deskilled. 

Not only are women becoming deskilled in the kitchen, they are becoming deskilled across all aspects of housekeeping. This is a serious problem because who will teach the next generation to take care their homes . . .  how to cook, wash clothes, keep the house clean all the way through to creating a "home".  My son has shared rentals with a number of young males and from what I have seen they have no idea how to keep a house clean and tidy and it frustrates my son endlessly. 

Homes are loosing their personal touch, that special feeling that you get when you walk into a well loved home. As Cheryl Mendelson points out in her book "Home Comforts", modern homes are often one extreme or the other; looking more like a hotel room or a picture from glossy magazine or the complete opposite, dusty and unloved. They have lost that special atmosphere.  Sadly these home are uninviting even though they are full of "things". I suppose if you are hardly ever at home, it no longer matter how the homes "feels".  Its very sad we have reached this point in society.

The sense of being at home is important to everyone's well-being. If you do not get enough of it, your happiness, resilience, energy, humour and courage will decrease. . . Home includes familiarity, warmth, affection and a conviction of security. Being at home feels safe; you have a sense of relief whenever you come home and close the door behind you, reducing fear of social and emotional dangers as well as physical ones. 

Our homes are important and we need to take good care of them.  Whilst everyone else may be giving up on "home", we have a responsibility to keep the "home fires burning" and teach our children to do the same. Home is far more than a house and we don't pour our love into our homes for nothing, we do it for our husbands and children and we do it for Christ to whom we do all things for. 

And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.

1 Peter 4:8-9


Friday, August 29, 2014

Art Friday: sunlight

Charles James Lewis
Art Friday: Sunlight

I love homes that are flooded with light, especially in winter. Sunlight really does make me feel happy and so pleased that I am alive. This isn't surprising as sunlight is like a medicine the boost the spirit on a sad day, it is a  powerful healer, tonic, germ killer, remedial agent, and relaxer. Have you ever sat quietly in a sunny spot in your home and go from feeling frustrated and irritable to feeling happier and more joyful? I have. 

Your husband and your children will also enjoy these sunny spots and get the same pleasure as you or I. As homemakers, we should always be looking for way to make our homes as healthy as possible, not just physically but mentally and a sunny room does wonders to the mind. Sunny rooms encourage laughter and smiling, one can't remain glum for very long in a sunny room

All these paintings have a lovely homely feel about them, rooms that I would love to wander into and sit down with a cup of tea and book, or perhaps meet a friend for a chat or a place for quiet reflection. Some have chairs by windows which would be perfect for reading or napping. These are my sort of rooms that I would love to have. 

Cats also love sunny aspects in a room and are always able to seek out the sunniest spot in the home, like me, they took love rooms flooded with sunlight. 

Are you a fan of sun flooded rooms? If you have rooms that are dark, think about painting the walls a light colour such as white, add bright colours (perhaps yellow) in the way of cushions and throws, make sure that curtains can be drawn back to let in as much light as possible and rearrange the furniture so those favourite chairs catch as much sun as possible.  I like flowers and pot plants in a room - choice  cheery flowers such as daisies and select pots that are bright and sunny in appearance.

If the problem is bad, perhaps consider adding a skylight. 

Todays art is all about rooms washed in sunlight.

Light gives of itself freely, filling all available space.  It does not seek anything in return; it asks not whether you are friend or foe.  It gives of itself and is not thereby diminished.  ~Michael Strassfeld

Patrick William Adam - Interior, Morning

Where there is sunshine the doctor starves.  ~Flemish Proverb
Patrick William Adam - can't you imagine eating breakfast at this table and enjoying the summer breeze through the window. 
Patrick William Adam
Josephine Grant - The Green Chair
 Stephen Darbishire  - a perfect place for reading. 

Stephen Darbishire
Stephen Darbishire

There is nothing wrong with having a bright and sunny bathroom - would be just gorgeous on a summers evening!!
 Stephen Darbishire - my sort of kitchen!!! 

If there is one spot of sun spilling onto the floor, a cat will find it and soak it up.  
~Jean Asper McIntosh


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Quick update on my activities

Quick update on my activities

What a busy week thus far - busy nice, not busy bad!!  

Even after a hectic day where I may feel weary by the time I crawl into bed, I still feel so blessed that the Lord has provided me with a suitable job, a loving family, a cosy house and cute cats. I have no complains and very content with my lot in life.  Why would I complain, many people are far worse off than I am. I have many reasons to say "thankyou Lord" over and over again. 

My quilting classes have come to an end and I feel as if I have learnt enough of the basics to go off and make my first quilt (this one will be a gift). This is the start to that new quilt and I am using a block known as a "Disappearing nine patch" and its fun to make.  Looks far much more complicated than it really is. Its my sort of quilting block!!

I had a birthday last week (yes a year older but I am not sure if I am any wiser). I went to the Craft and Quilting Fair in the morning (and came home with more fabric and bits and bobs for quilting, as one does!!) and in the afternoon my sons and daugther-in-law took me out to lunch.  It was a beautiful day and I felt very blessed and spoilt.  I received lots of lovely gifts, however son and his wife gave me the most interesting (besides a book) - a cat (above) that looks very much like a bear!! I call her my Catbear!! She is very soft and looks pretty sitting in the corner!

Spring is in the air - still a bit cold but there is a hint that warmer weather is just around the corner. I noticed that my first jonquils are flowering, the snow peas are doing very well, the kale is almost ready to eat and I can't wait until the sweet pea started to flower.  The Australian wattle is all in bloom (not that my husband is excited as it gives him hay fever) and looking gorgeous. I just love the golden colour. 

Whilst I was at the Craft and Quilting Fair I picked up some ribbons - aren't these just gorgeous. No idea what I will use them for, but I am sure one day when I am blessed with a granddaughter they will become very handy!!

And a very special thankyou to all the wonderful ladies out there who have left encouraging comments that I have received over the weeks. I love hearing your views on topics that I write about and I don't mind if you disagree with me.

And I will leave you with these bright and cheery yellow skirts. I am on the hunt for some bright yellow fabric so I can make for myself. Yellow goes so well with navy. 

And do check out my blog on Monday as I have a young guest writer sharing her sewing and handicraft skills.  Miss Holly is 10 years old and a talented seamstress. 


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Book review: Birth Cry

Book review: Birth Cry - A personal story of life of Hannah D. Mitchell, nurse midwife 

Author: Shirley Roland Ferguson

Birth Cry documents the journey of an ordinary woman (born in 1907) from a very poor, hard working Christian farming family from Missouri who works her way through school all the way to University to become a nurse midwife (long before women were encouraged to attend university). 

Hannah, through her entire life, followed the Lord. Her faith was always strong and it never left her. Whilst she had ideas of what she wanted to do - such as marriage, God often changed her plans and took her to places she least expected. She never married  and suffered heartbreak over a broken engagement but she accepted what God asked of her and continued to follow Him through her entire life. She is a great example of how we need to behave - we may want to do one thing, but God has other ideas that are quite different to what we had dreamt. Don't fight God, follow Him as Hannah did. 

Hannah committed herself to God's perfect will and found comfort. 

So what did Hannah get up to:
  • She helped her brother run a chicken ranch. Very tough and didn't last very long.

  • Bookkeeping during the depression.

  • Went to John Brown University with her brother to become a teacher (her mother was very encouraging of educating her daughter), however in her second year God had other plans for Hannah and through Him, she changed from teaching to nursing and this became her calling. Whilst  financially it was almost impossible "The Heavenly Father provided the means. So, it was with great gratitude that I made preparations to enter the first of many educational doors that would continue opening throughout my life". For those who doubt sending your daughters to college/university - God may have plans for your daughters you least expect, don't fight Him, trust Him. 
  • Hannah's plans were to marry and work overseas as a missionary - God had other ideas and sent her to the Kentucky Hills (1938) to work among the impoverished migrant community as a midwife. She not only delivered babies, she took care of everything from snakebites to gunshot injuries and she brought many people to Christ as her faith shone strong. 
  • God doesn't let us get too comfortable, in 1944 God decides it is time to move Hannah, this time to South America. "Thank you Heavenly Father, I prayed again and again, for His Providence, by hiding me in Christ. My life had changed direction many times, most of the changes contrary to my plans and painful to me to accept. But I probably will never know of the numerous times that a Providential God has shield me from deeper hurt, and real calamity, even an early death" (page 205). We need to remember to thank God for any plan he throws our way, rather than grumbling because it isn't what we want. 
  • In 1948 Hannah moves back to the USA to teaching midwifery (shortly after receiving her Bachelor of Science) in Atlanta. She was given the task of lowing maternal death rates that were very high in the area. She continued this until the 1969. 
It was at this point that her health started to fail, but once again she never stopped trusting in the Lord "I went to bed at night saying . . . In God have I put my trust . . . The Lord is my strength . . .  I will not be afraid for the terror by night . . . ". Even though her health was failing, she never stopped sharing the Christ's word with others and it wasn't until 1990 did she stop teaching bible classes.  Sadly Hannah was one of many in their latter years is struck down with dementia and after spending time with her sister-in-law was placed in a nursing home.  Hannah never at any stage doubted where all her skills, knowledge and energy came from  "All my talents must be attributed totally to Him."

I loved this book and could hardly put it down. Hannah never dreamed that her life would take her along such an interesting path, but it did - but not by her own doing - but as a direct result of her Heavenly Father. We too must do the same, even if the path is painful and not what we want. We also must allow our children to do the same, even if it isn't what we had planned. God is always right. 

Five stars

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)


Monday, August 25, 2014

We are all different but the same

If I gathered a group of Christian women together I would find that they all very different; they would look different, do the same tasks differently, bring up their children differently, even talking differently  and there is nothing wrong with that at all. 

Some may be great list makers, others wing it

Some may be very organised, whilst others live in a happy muddle

Some may love to cook, others may be great at sewing

Some may be very feminine in their dress, others practical

Some many be very creative, others not as much

Some may work outside the home, others may have a home based business

Some may be mothers, other have not been blessed with children

Some may be very quiet, others a little more boisterous

Some have been born rich, others poor

Some are very busy, others have lots of spare time

Some have lots of energy, others may not

Some have chosen to home school, others have not

Some cover their heads, others don't

Some wear long skirts only, others wear pants

Some have suffered much sadness in their lives, others have only known joy

Some are older, others are younger

Some great listeners and others great doers

Some love detail, others love the big picture

Some are leaders and others are followers

We are all different and that is what makes a group of Christian women so special. 

We will never all be the same because of our family circumstances, the country we live in, the way we were brought up, our mothers influences, our husbands, in what area we live in, our education, the number of children we have, our health, our wealth, the passions we have, our likes and dislikes . . . 

Because we are different and do things differently, we need to respect these differences (and I am not referring to sinful activities here) and not think of our fellow sisters in Christ as lessor Christians, lesser homemakers, lesser mothers . . . because they do things differently.  I am not a list maker, I don't own a "housekeeping folder", I never will - however I am very organised and chores get done and I love being a keeper of my home. However I not excited about housework, but I do love to cook and sew and make things pretty. I can be quite noisy and I love people. I like to smile and bring joy to others. I am feminine in my dress and come from a comfortable home financially. I have never known poverty or ill health, however my marriage hasn't been smooth sailing.  I love being creative but I am hopeless at singing or playing music. I love to read, but don't ask me to write a book. I didn't homeschool my children and I believe in vaccination. 

Sadly Christians have a bad habit of takes sides - the homechooling team, the anti-vaccination team, the working team, the "you can't be a homemaker unless you are always at home" team, lots of children team, living off the grid team, head-covering team . . . .  Why do we do this to ourselves, why can't we be accepting of others? We cannot accomplish what God has for us to do it we do not reconcile with one another. In His most impassioned prayer on the night before He was crucified, Jesus pleaded with God to unite His followers.

That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. (John 17:21)

So lets focus on what is important:

Putting God first

Being our husbands helpmate

Loving our children

Loving one another

Giving generously

Forgiving quickly

Be kind always

Never hate

Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment’ (Matthew 22:37-38)

If we all have these in common, does it matter whether I write lists or home all day, whether I homeschool or only have two children, fit more into my day than you? Does it matter whether I can cook well or sew? No, it doesn't. As long as our families are content and happy, we are our husband's helpmates, our homes are cosy and we all do as the Lord Jesus Christ has asked of us. 

Commit your works to the Lord, And your thoughts will be established. (Proverbs 16:2)

So lets focus on what is important and not worry that you aren't doing the same as another blogger (or the woman next door).  Remember their life story is likely to be very different to yours.  We need to live by faith, we are accountable to God in the chooses we make. Focus on what God wants for you and your family - it is likely to vary from one woman to another and one family to another. And that is perfectly ok.

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
(1 Corinthians 10:31)


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