Sunday, 23 December 2012

A Breath of Christmas

Two more sleeps until Christmas. I could use another week!

It seems we’ve been doing a lot of surviving lately. Putting one foot in front of the other until the end of the school year finally arrived.

In the week since (yes, just a week - though it feels like two), we have already made a quick dash to visit the in-laws a few hours away.  Since returning the air-conditioning at the shops has been far more inviting than the sticky heat at home.

Gifts are all purchased now, but certainly not wrapped.

We’ve been madly cleaning and I’m happy to report that the rumpus room does still exist. Which is just as well, my family is hoping to celebrate together in there.

Last night the first of the decorations were hung. Umm, better late than never? 

I’m beginning to breathe again. I’ve decided that bedroom doors exist for a reason. The joy of the season is not worth trading for a perfect abode.

So here’s to happy memories made with family, quiet moments with meaning, and plenty of peculiar treasures.

Happy Christmas everyone! May peace and joy abound in your hearts as we celebrate our Saviour’s birth!






PS: I’ll be taking a blogging break for a week or two. Once the parties have quieted down - the renovating begins! I’ll do my best to pop in somewhere between the restoring and building. Please forgive if I have paint on my nose. 

Thursday, 20 December 2012

A Star Called Yonder

I was asked to write (and perform) a puppet play for our Church Christmas Carol service. I had a ball putting it together. Sadly we did not think to record it on the evening - but I still wanted to share it with you. 

So here it is, performed especially for you from behind the lounge chair! (Please forgive the fuzzies). 

Enjoy!!

video

Thursday, 13 December 2012

A Squishy Stocking Stuffer


Since my last post about Squishy Men I've had a few requests for a how to. I've also had time to think of a few adjustments to make it better. So without further ado...

Squishy Man 3.0



You will need:
1 Pattern (found here)
Cotton fabric – print or plain for outer; calico for lining (though you could use whatever you’ve got)
Sewing thread
Brown/black embroidery thread 
Wool/yarn (for hair)
Needles – 1 embroidery; 1 wool
¼ cup (dry) rice, roughly ground.
Funnel

How to:
  1. Cut 4 pattern pieces.
    1. 2 of lining
    2. 2 of main fabric
  2. Sew darts in all four pieces.
  3. Sew lining pieces together leaving a small opening for filling (pattern allows for a 5mm seam).
  4. Fill and sew opening closed. Set aside.
  5. Embroider a face onto 1 piece of main fabric (I used 4 strands).
    1. Mouth: back stitch
    2. Eyes: colonial knots
  6. With right sides together, sew main pieces, leaving an opening for inserting inside part. Turn.
  7. Insert insides and hand stitch closed using ladder stitch (twice for extra strength).
  8. Using wool needle pull several strands of wool/yarn through the top of the head (in a line) and knot. Trim to desired length.
  9. You should now be holding your very own Squishy Man!
  
With Christmas fast approaching these would make great stocking stuffers.



NB: You are welcome to make as many as you like for yourself or family and friends. Please respect my copyright and do not make them to sell/for a profit. Thanks.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Sometimes Squishy Men Die

If you are an angry child in this household, you will likely be sent to your room to calm down. One technique we use is ‘Squishy Men’ (aka stress balls). Ours have faces and a tuft of woolly hair. The storm soon disperses into smiles as the latex face is contorted in all manner of ways.  I suspect they get played with at other times too.

Today there was sudden wailing. Long and loud and oh-so-sorrowful coming from my baby (though really, he is a very grown up four year old thank you very much!). I went to investigate. He met me halfway, balling his precious little eyes (and heart) out. In his hand, lovingly cradled, was his Squishy Man. With a leak. Friends, there are only so many times a Squishy Man will squish.


He laid his treasure to rest in the rubbish bin, then came and sat on my lap for a hug. Pressing his face into my chest he wept some more. His darling heart was plain broken. Apparently this was one very well loved Squishy Man.

In an effort to console him I suggested we would purchase another one – identical. The idea was appealing enough to momentarily stem the flow of the salty torrent. Then the cogs in my brain crunched into gear. Why not take the opportunity to create a better, stronger, model?  In less than half an hour we had Squishy Man 2.0.



The new version has somewhat different features. He does not squish in the exact same manner but is still able to produce a giggle worthy face contortion. Better yet, it is made of more durable stuff. As a bonus, this model also allows for the (sneaky) addition of soothing essential oils…

The whole fiasco got me thinking. 

Sometimes the Squishy Men have to die – in order to make way for something better. It hurts to let go of the old, but the new will be greater.

If you are a regular reader you will know that I have been daring to dream.  I was particularly grieved at the loss of Idea2.0. God has been taking me on a journey. Each time asking me to let go of my version of the vision until finally Plan 4.0 is a goer! (Just need to finalise the paperwork).

Excitement flows through me! But this is not just about finally being able to put passion into action. It is so much more. As I handed over my blueprints, releasing the tight grip on my precious ideas, God has been able to point a few things out.  Improvements if you will. He is showing me how to use what I already have. Ways to create something beautiful from significantly less.  I am reminded of the old chorus…

“Something beautiful, something good.
All my confusion He understood.
All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife
But he made something beautiful of my life".


Ecclesiastes 3:11a 'He has made everything beautiful in its time'. 


Friday, 30 November 2012

Soul Wonder


Join me in the Five Minute Friday Challenge hosted by Lisa-Jo Baker. Participants write for 5 minutes with no editing, no over thinking, and no backtracking. This week’s word is: Wonder.


(Go)

The humid early evening air clung to my sticky skin. I had just reminded the oldest boy for the umpteenth time to stay on track with his jobs that should have been finished an hour ago. The youngest had been sent to his room to play – in the hope of there being one less distraction for his brother.

I just needed to escape. To sit and focus on breathing. Sometimes my chest aches with the need. This was one such time. My mind was as messy as the room around me. Barely holding it together emotionally. I reached for the laptop. To see how other’s lives were. To take a brief holiday from my own. Desire for distraction went deep.

And then I saw it. In all its glory. The moon peeking in at me. It was stunning. Hiding behind a thin veil of clouds. Big and round and still. I went outside to get a better view.

In the midst of the mayhem I stood in wonder. Soaking in the quiet beauty.

'He restores my soul...' Psalm 23:3a

Unfortunately the photo doesn't do the reality justice.
For better effect - cover the streetlight with your finger


(Stop)

Now, your turn…

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Nifty Notion #5: Super Simple Guilt Free Ice Cream


This is so yummy. So simple. So (actually) good for you!


Banana, Mango, Coconut 'Ice Cream'.
Serves 3-4

You will need:
2-3 bananas
2 mangos
½ cup desiccated coconut (optional)

chopped fruit - ready to freeze
How to:
  1. Slice and dice fruit into small pieces.
  2. Spread evenly in a single layer in a container or on a tray.
  3. Freeze.
  4. Once frozen, place chopped fruit (with coconut) into a food processor and blend until smooth.
  5. Scoop into bowls.
  6. Devour!!! (In the most lady-like/gentlemanly manner of course!)
yes, it was as good as it looks!


Tips:

  • The most basic ‘ice cream’ can be made with banana only. You can experiment with whatever fruits you so desire but it is important to use banana as the base - otherwise the consistency may be too thin and runny.

  • Once made, it is best to consume the entire quantity straightaway. Only blend up as much as is needed at the time.

Experiment, have fun, and report back here with all successful (i.e. delicious) blends!


Friday, 23 November 2012

Thankfulness


Join me in the Five Minute Friday Challenge hosted by Lisa-Jo Baker. Participants write for 5 minutes with no editing, no over thinking, and no backtracking. This week’s word is: Thank you.


(Go)

Things I’m thankful for…
House to call home. Heaven sent and provided.
An amazing husband. He’s awfully nice.
Not so wonderful days – to help me better appreciate the good ones.
Kids who send me crazy but then do sweet cute things that bring a smile.

Yummy food in my pantry and on my plate.
Ordinary. Who really needs big and fancy anyways?
Understanding Heavenly Father who loves me. Wow!

(Stop)

Now, your turn

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Just Because


He sat there, smiling, as the tears ran in rivers down his freckled cheeks. Finally grasping the meaning behind the symbolism in his story book.

We bought it for him when he was about three or four. Love is not a strong enough word. We would read it over and over again until he could quote it word for word even though he could not yet read for himself.

Several years have passed. He has moved on to other stories now.

We have also learned more about him; that he takes everything literally. That he needs help sometimes with comprehension. All part of the Asperger's he was finally diagnosed with last year.

He gets down on himself. Really down. He does not require anyone’s help to do that. So when other kids at school notice him, notice his quirks, and comment - it’s not good. Maybe they do not even realise what they said. Or that he would take it that way. Maybe they were not even being nasty.

Determined not to let him spiral any further down in this latest ‘I’m no good’ session, I stepped in. Or rather God did – and He let me help. It was Mummy and her boy time.



Gathering Max Lucado’s ‘You Are Special’ and leading him by the hand to a quiet chair at the far end of the house, we read the story together. And then we did what I only wish had occurred to me much, much sooner; years sooner.

I explained what it all meant; who the characters represented. What their actions symbolised. He had never understood any of this. I told him over and over again, “You are special because God made you. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks or says. He doesn't make mistakes. You are special just because.”

He cried. I cried. It was sacred…

Dear friend, I share this with you because I want to be sure that you grasp this all important truth too. Let God take your sweet face (yes, that’s yours) in his gentle hands and listen to Him say, “You are special just because I made you. You are loved. You are enough. That is all.”



NB: I am in no way being compensated for sharing about Mr Lucado’s book. I simply believe it contains truth that every heart needs to know.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Flimsy Boundaries


Join me in the Five Minute Friday Challenge hosted by Lisa-Jo Baker. Participants write for 5 minutes with no editing, no over thinking, and no backtracking. This week’s word is: Stay.


(Go)

3pm. Time to walk to school to collect my eldest son. His soft little hand in mine my younger boy and I head out the front gate and up the street.

Greeting us at the house next door is a sweet but grubby faced toddler. She is alone. I can hear her parents yelling at the older brother in the house. I wonder if they realise she has wandered out of the open door.

She smiles at us and we say ‘hello’. She pushes against the rusty metal. The flimsy gates do little to retain her. They don’t really close properly and she could easily escape.

I’m really worried. Two houses up is a main road. What if she tries to follow me? I close the gate again and latch it as best it will – which is barely at all. Glancing at the gaping space where the front door should be I pray that the people belonging to the loud angry voices realise she is there. I tell her to stay. To go find Mummy.

Looking back as I reach the corner, I am relieved to see that she has remained where it’s safe.

(Stop)

Psalm 19:7 The law of the Lord is perfect,
    refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
    making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
    giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
    giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure,
    enduring forever.
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
    and all of them are righteous.
10 They are more precious than gold,
    than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
    than honey from the honeycomb.
11 By them your servant is warned;
    in keeping them there is great reward. (NIV)


Now. your turn…

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Nifty Notion #4: Pill Popping Preparation


I take tablets. A small handful every day. At least I should. The truth is I often can not be bothered. I know I need them. I know they will help me function but in the moment am often too tired to be bothered standing there opening all the containers and getting them out. So I don’t (and end up paying for it).

A month or so ago a brilliant idea whirled into my head. I often say that I would be happy to take them if someone else would just get them all ready for me. What if that someone was me? What if I could get all my tablets for the week prepared and only have to deal with all those containers once a week?

I became a woman on a mission. I needed one of those handy compartmentalised pill travel sets. A big one. Most of the ones I had seen around were too small.  Just when it seemed all options had been exhausted (as was I), my ‘Hallelujah’ moment arrived. The girl at the chemist was very helpful. She listened to my dilemma. Looked at me as if I was a bit strange (let ‘em think what they like) and then sold me the most expensive piece of plastic I have bought without a lifetime warranty attached.



This has space for four lots of tablets per day for a week. Twenty eight wonderful sections. Requiring only two spots a day, I can fit a fortnights worth in this handy apparatus. Yeah!

So far the whole concept has worked really well. The costly contraption has earned its keep. I guess that means it can stay.


PS - Cheaper versions of this do exist. I know. I saw one the other day *sigh*



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Friday, 9 November 2012

Along Came Heartburn


Join me in the Five Minute Friday Challenge hosted by Lisa-Jo Baker. Participants write for 5 minutes with no editing, no over thinking, and no backtracking. This week’s word is: Quiet.

 Five Minute Friday

(Go)

Be still. Be quiet. Oh I have needed to do that so much lately. The desire has certainly been there but somehow life gets in the way and well…you know.

And then along came this week. Exhausted and dizzy. Did I mention exhausted and dizzy? Energy. What’s that? Try to do a simple task? Dizzy.

I did what I could, which wasn't much and just sat and thought the rest of it. Not sure last night how the house was going to get clean before my step-son arrived today, prayers were sent upwards.

Along came heartburn. And not just any old mild version of it. Noooo we couldn't do that! It had to be the full on don’t-move-or-you’ll-get-massive-pain version. Too painful to do much talking even.

This isn't what I asked for!!! It’s what I needed. No not the exhaustion or dizziness or heartburn. But quiet.

Quiet. Time to think. To re-evaluate. Time to rest. Time to be still and know that ‘I am’ God.

(Stop)

Now, your turn…

Friday, 2 November 2012

Weeds Have Roots


Join me in the Five Minute Friday Challenge hosted by Lisa-Jo Baker. Participants write for 5 minutes with no editing, no over thinking, and no backtracking. This week’s word is: Roots.

Five Minute Friday

(Go)

Weeds have roots. Lots of roots. I can verify this - I have been weeding my garden. There are more weeds than plants we want to keep. We’ve neglected it a bit, but it feels so good to get out and clear the unwanted stuff out the way.

The kids want to help. We show them what to do. Most importantly we tell them to make sure they get the roots. If they don’t, the weeds will just be back quicker than ever. The whole process will have to start over.

Troubles have roots. You can’t deal with an issue by just getting rid of the bit you can see. Lurking underground are the roots, just waiting to sprout again. Sometimes it takes several attempts to get them all out. Persistence is the key. A willingness to keep coming back until it’s all gone.

The good plants have roots too. If you break them, the plant suffers. Roots are important.

Eph 3:17  Then Christ will live in you through faith. I also pray that love may be the ground into which you sink your roots and on which you have your foundation. (GW)

(Stop)

Now, your turn…

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

REC Button Faith


Back in 1980-something were two little girls. Sisters. The younger one thought the older one to be very wise and would listen to all she said as if it were gospel truth.

Little Sister was still learning how to operate a cassette tape player. Big Sister had already mastered this fine art and decided to play teacher.


She pointed to each of the buttons, explaining what they were for. The little arrow meant ‘play’. The two lines meant ‘pause’. The square was for ‘stop’. ‘REW’ was to rewind the tape, while ‘FF’ would fast forward it. Little Sister listened carefully.

Pointing to the ‘REC’ button, Big Sister became very serious.  Lovingly but firmly she made very clear that one must never ever push this particular button. No matter how badly tempted or curious. For you see the letters REC when sounded out say “r-eh-k” which is exactly what would happen to the cassette tape and player should this button be pushed.

For a long time afterwards Little Sister treated that button with great reverence. While it puzzled her that the manufacturer would include such a bizarre function, she heeded the advice given and left it well alone…


Mark 10:13-16 People brought their small children to Jesus so that he could lay his hands on them to bless them. But the followers told the people to stop bringing their children to him. Jesus saw what happened. He did not like his followers telling the children not to come. So he said to them, "Let the little children come to me. Don't stop them, because God's kingdom belongs to people who are like these little children. The truth is, you must accept God's kingdom like a little child accepts things, or you will never enter it." Then Jesus held the children in his arms. He laid his hands on them and blessed them. (ERV)


So how does a little child accept things? What does it mean to have faith like a child?

Young children are typically humble. They do not see themselves as greater than another. They are in a position of obedience rather than authority.

Matthew 18:4 The greatest person in God's kingdom is the one who makes himself humble like this child.

They are accepting. This is not permission for ignorance though (we are called to know what we believe and why - 1 Peter 3:15). Rather, this speaks of a ready acceptance of God’s promises; having faith in His abilities and power. We do not need to be grand philosophers to come to Him. Simple faith is all that is required. Trust and obey.

It all sounds too easy doesn't it? Sometimes our adult minds want to fluff it up and add a few rules. Over complicate things. When God gives us direction we sit and have a big evaluation session. We want to know what, why and how. And somehow in the so doing, we lose sight of faith.

I seek God and want to know everything. A detailed plan. But He keeps bringing me back to simple faith. If He said he would do something then He will. That is all.

What is God asking you to trust Him with today?

Friday, 26 October 2012

Squeaky Ants



Join me in the Five Minute Friday Challenge hosted by Lisa-Jo Baker. Participants write for 5 minutes with no editing, no over thinking, and no backtracking. This week’s word is: Voice



(Go)

In a quiet, incredibly squeaky tone he gives voice to what he imagines the ants are saying as they make their daily pilgrimage across the kitchen floor and up the wall.

I ask him why he speaks that way. It’s how the ants do apparently. They’re tiny don’t you know Mum. So naturally their voices would be too…

In the grand scheme of things we’re a bit like ants ourselves. But our voices are not unheard by heaven. God does not have to lean down and listen carefully only to be left imagining what we might be saying. He knows and he hears our voice. He wants very much to understand. He does understand.

And he replies. Not in a great big booming voice as would be fitting such a scene if it were a film. No he speaks to us in a gentle whisper. A voice that our hearts can hear if only we are willing to listen.

(Stop)

Hebrews 3:7-8 “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…” (NIV)


Now, your turn...



Sunday, 21 October 2012

Peculiar Rethink


This morning was slow. My body struggled to get into gear. On such days staying home is often best. After checking the kids were semi decently dressed I waved them goodbye as they headed off to Church with Daddy.

In the quiet moments that ensued I had a peculiar time… (Ahem)… Or rather, did a mini study on the word ‘peculiar’.

You see I thought I knew what it meant. Strange or unique right?

Well yes it does, but I had never looked up a commentary or Bible dictionary on the matter. I was curious. So I hauled them out along with Strong’s concordance. Then realising it had been a while, I changed to the computer version (much easier!). Exodus 19:5 was the verse of choice. KJV to get the phrase I was after - peculiar treasure.


Here’s what I found


Strong’s definition:

H5459
סגלּה
segûllâh
seg-ool-law'
Feminine passive participle of an unused root meaning to shut up; wealth (as closely shut up): - jewel, peculiar (treasure), proper good, special.

The being shut up part stood out to me here. Clearly very highly valued.


The commentaries gave me something to think about too.

Exo 19:5  Then ye shall be a peculiar treasure to me - He doth not instance in any one particular favour, but expresseth it in that which was inclusive of all happiness, that he would be to them a God in covenant, and they should be to him a people. Nay you shall be a peculiar treasure: not that God was enriched by them, as a man is by his treasure, but he was pleased to value and esteem them as a man doth his treasure; they were precious in his sight. He took them under his special care and protection, as a treasure that is kept under lock and key. He distinguished them from, and dignified them above all people, as a people devoted to him, and to his service. (Wesley)

And…

Exo 19:5 

if ye will obey

(Cf) (1Pe_2:9); (Rev_1:6); (Rev_5:10). What, under law, was condition, is under grace, freely given to every believer. The "if" of (Exo_19:5) is the essence of law as a method of divine dealing, and the fundamental reason why "the law made nothing perfect"; (Rom_8:3); (Heb_7:18); (Heb_7:19).

The Abrahamic: (See Scofield) - (Gen_15:18) and New (See Scofield) - (Heb_8:8) covenants minister salvation and assurance because they impose but one condition, faith. (Scofield)


So there you have it. If we are God’s peculiar treasure we are highly valued - like a precious jewel. Not because we deserve to be, but because He chooses to see us this way.

We are also set apart. For Him.

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (NIV)

Now that is something to smile about!




PS – As you can see all this has contributed to a new look for the blog. I am seeking to get to the heart of what it all means to me. My sincerest apologies if the page has been different every time you've visited here lately. I’m pretty sure I’m happy with it this time (but we’ll see) ;o)

Friday, 19 October 2012

On Looking Alive: Five Minute Friday


I’m starting a new adventure. On Fridays at least. I’m linking up with ‘Five Minute Fridays’ by Lisa-Jo Baker. The rules are simple:

  • Check her blog to get the topic.
  • Write for five minutes about whatever that brings to mind. No editing, just fun.
  • Post it! 

So I gave it a go… Today’s word is ‘look’.



(Go)

I look around me. What do I see? A mess.

But look closer.




I see a wooden train track. I see a hat; shoes discarded after a long day; a box of nappies; my own crafty mess; a story book; crumbs. Lots of crumbs. I see a lounge that has been bumped from its perfect ‘lined up neatly with the fourth floor board position’; A crooked rug.

I wish it were so much neater. The quiet contentment that brings.

Look again.

A family lives here. LIVES here.  How much better to be alive than stifled by perfection.

(Stop)


Now, your turn...

Friday, 12 October 2012

A Giveaway from We Live Inspired



My friend Rebekah over at We Live Inspired is doing a giveaway to raise awareness for National Feral Cat Day. Please check it out here. Thanks!

Asperger's (and Other Big Words That Come From His Mouth)


Nobody got a card the same as me on Mother’s Day this year. Nobody.

A folded page from an A3 sketch book. The edge is torn where the perforation resisted letting go. Swirls of green, smudges of brown, squiggles of red and purple adorn the outside; no doubt contributed by little brother.

The front bears a cute (big brother) rhyme about this day coming but once a year.

Inside is mostly blank. In the top left corner, neatly framed in a box, there is a message:

Dear Mum,

Happy Mother’s Day!
May God bless you &
our descendants, yet also our
ancestors with the unpainful
cost of not only believing in
the Lord, but also the great
gift of eternal life! We
love you lots.

Sincerely sigged signed,
(His signature and little brother’s initials)


I must confess to smiling when I received this card. Then later, reading it over the phone to my mother, dissolving into an uncontrollable fit of giggles. He heard and was upset. I had to explain myself.

Amused by his peculiar way of saying things, it struck me as genuinely funny. Yet at the same time I was falling in love with him a little bit more. A moment to treasure. His curious way with words; you never quite know what will tumble from his lips next.

My son has Asperger’s Syndrome. There are times we manage. There are days we are driven mad. Then there are moments, sweet, sweet moments where he blesses us with his quirky personality. Our eyes are opened and we see what a precious gift he truly is.

He is one of a kind. I can not imagine him any other way. He has no shame in what he says. He does not know how to be anything else. So he is authentically himself...


There are two reasons for writing this post.

  1. I want to share a little more of my world with you. 
  1. There is a lesson here…

We will need to go back in time just a bit. All the way to creation. 

Genesis 1:27 So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them. (NIV)

Just ponder on that a moment if you will. We were made in Gods image. The image of the divine creator and owner of all that is. Wow!

Fast forward to our own individual beginnings.

Psalm 139:13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be. (NIV)

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (NIV)


God knew what he was doing when he created every one of us. As he dreamt us up there was nothing random about it.  He made me; he made you, on purpose.

It has been said that Asperger’s is not a disability. It is a different-ability. Whether we are on the spectrum or not, I suspect that many of us fall into that category.

We each have something unique to offer the world. Never doubt it.


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