Friday, 29 January 2010

Searching for Wisdom

What a rollercoaster of a week we have had this week.  Wednesday was a really fab day (as had been Monday and Tuesday) culminating in a big treat for the kids as we took them out of school early to take them in London to see a friend, (whose trying to break big time in the music business) Jem Cooke  performing live in the lobby at the National Theatre.  Trains went smoothly, much fun was had and then we arrived home to 3 messages on the answer machine from my mum.

My dad (in the picture with my eldest), had a stroke, he's only 65 years old.  He had just been on a 5 mile bike ride with my mum and was in the supermarket.  He has survived, though it is early days he is in hospital.  Now what does a daughter do when she is 140 miles away and has 3 children to look after and a husband who cannot take time off work.  My dad has been looking after my mum since my sister died 14 months ago - her mental health has been very unstable.  What do I do? My children (especially my eldest who is my sisters daughter) need me here, my mum and dad do not need them up there.  Yes I could make arrangements with very loving friends, but that is not what they need.  What do I need?  I feel guilty for not dropping everything and rushing up there like I did when my sister was hospitalised.  But I would also feel terribly guilty if I left the children (or took them up knowing they would be in the way).

I have a brother, he is helping out with lifts to the hospital for my mum as is one of mum and dads friends.

It is exactly this sort of dilema that leaves me begging for wisdom.  I had a nuclear body scan appointment this morning (Friday), and my mum had told me that my dad would be very upset if I had cancelled that (I've been waiting for it a while).  We are supposed to be getting our first puppy tomorrow morning, my son has been counting down the days.  Am I just wanting to go up to them to do the right thing?  I raced up to see my sister on several occassions when she took turns for the worse, and I still missed saying good-bye to her.

It is sooooo hard to sit and wait, but this seems to be what my gut is telling me to do.  All being well we will go and get the puppy tomorrow morning and when next Tuesday arrives, I will be free (my husband will have finished this shift) to go and see mum and dad and he will be progressing.

Your prayers for us all would be greatly appreciated. 

Much love,   Jane x.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Prayer finding the heart's true home by Richard Foster.

I was given this book several years ago by a friend with whom I am distant from at the moment, though I think about her lots.  She got it for me after we had been to a local Christian womens event and listened to a very wise older lady speak about Prayer.  During this ladies talk (very ashamed to say I cannot remember her name) she mentioned this book - a few days later my friend presented it to me.  I tried to read it several times and never managed to really get into it, just dipping in for the odd bit here and there.  However in this time of rest which I now find myself in I felt prompted to get it back out of my bedside drawer where it has been residing and start at the beginning.

Isn't it just wonderful when you read a book and find it speaking to you like a dear friend.  This is the experience I have had with this book, when I have one of my regular middle of the night awake hours it has been a blessing to pick up and listen to with my eyes and heart.

I found myself doing something that I have never done before, when I read something that really jumped out at me I turned the corner of the page over.  In the past I have really struggled with remembering where in a book certain things are,  I have tried underlining, but that doesn't work if you can't remember where in a big book you underlined!  By corner turning I have been able to move on from a subject knowing I can easily return to it.  After finishing the book yesterday, I took a break and then when I went to bed last night I went over the 8 pages that were turned.  I had to read the whole page to find out what bit had spoken to me, but there it still was, I knew it as soon as I found it. 

In this book Richard Foster goes through all the different types of prayer that he feels God wants us to encompass, they are all biblically based.  Each prayer type is explained, given its bible basis and then examples of its uses given and peoples experiences of using it.  In some ways it is quite a basic book, however it is extreemely well referenced and I will most certainly be looking out for some of the titles he has quoted from.

I thought I would write seven of the points that spoke to me down in this blog, giving me another reminder for the future. I think they all spoke to me in different ways and I know that some of them are going to be points for me to meditate on further in the future.  I have written down the chapter and page number and they are all in progressional order through the book.

1.  Unceasing Prayer, page 131.

"The second major expression of Unceasing Prayer is associated with such practitioners of prayer as Brother Lawrence (The Practise of the Presence of God), Thomas Kelly (A testament of Devotion) and Frank Lauback (Letters by a Modern Mystic).  Their profoundly simple approach is to go through all the activities of our days in joyful awareness of God's presence with whispered prayers of praise and adoration flowing continuously from the herts.  Brother Lawrence who called himself 'the lord of all pots and pans' crystallized this idea in his now famous comment ' the time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquillity as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament'."

Something I have learned well this last year is that God is ALWAYS with us, we might not feel him close by because our pain and suffering is so great but he is THERE, crying and wounded with us.  If in the pain we can just grab onto or cuddle into his outstretched arms in the midst of all noise and clatter there is a peace to be found, the pain the noise and the clatter won't necessarily disappear but there is a peace as well.

2.  Intercessory Prayer, page 211.

"Drawing upon the prophet Isiah, Jesus declares, 'My house shall be a house of prayer' (Isa 56:7; Luke19:46).  I would love to see our churches become houses of prayer.  I know you would, too.  All too often however, they are places for everythings and anything except prayer.  I say this with sorrow, for I believe it saddens the heart of God.  True, we need to have our business meetings and our committee meetings and our Bible studies and our self-help groups and our worship services, but if the fire is not hot at the centre, these things are only ashes in our hands."

All I can say to this is Amen, we seem to have had a lot of experience in the churches we have attended of this.  It makes my heart weep, we have also been blessed with experiencing a church where it is not the case, where prayer IS at the heart of everything (or was while we were there).  The result of this is an army of new leaders being raised up in all sorts of Church and charity work - and that's just from the small group of folk with whom I was friends with (it was a 500+ congregation).  I do however have a great feeling of HOPE growing in my heart for our Parish as we approach the time when our new Vicar will arrive.

3.  Healing Prayer, page 217

"Furthermore we can be greateful for every co-operative effort of the many branches of healing.  After all, the distinction between priest and psychologist and physician is of recent vintage.  Always before, the physician of the body, the physician of the mind, and the physician of the spirit were the same person.  The ancient Hebrews, in particular, saw persons as a unity, and for them it would be unthinkable to minister to the body without ministering to the spirit and vice versa."

Healing prayer is a subject close to my own heart, having suffered with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis for over 13 years now.  As you can imagine there has been a fair amount of healing prayer offered and requested during this time.  I have had some very 'poorly' times when I have only been able to work a few metres at a time.  I have also had some quite 'well' times, when medication has given me several years of stability.  The last couple of years have not been good, interesting though it has not just been my physical body that has been suffering during this time, I have also had to cope with the death of my sister, caring for my parents and grandparent and taking on kinship care of my sisters 12 year old daughter.  My spiritual life has suffered to, we moved churches so that I could take up a job with the new one, this was a step of faith as it is most definately NOT the type of church we would choose to worship in for ourselves.  With all the other things going on in life I have not been able to settle into my job and am now currently on 6 months unpaid leave.  On top of all this my training as an Occupational Therapist makes me all to aware of the importance of Holistic (mind, body and spirit) health care.  There is movement in my life on this whole subject at the moment, but it is too early to talk about at the moment - but I am hoping the time will come for me to share it.

4.  The Prayer of Suffering, page 235

"Another value: our hearts are enlarged and sensitezed by suffering.  We become 'wounded healers', as Henri Nouwen has taught us to say.  Gone for ever are the pat answers that zip, zap - make everything fine.  We wndure the agony that prepares us to enter into the anguish of others. 'The more love sandpapers our hearts,' writes Glenn Hinson, 'the more it quickens us to suffering.'  We come to recognize the suffering of our time in our own hearts, and that becomes the starting point for ministy."

Pat answers - now that is a subject I hope I never take for granted.  I am sure I have dished out many in my time of thinking I was HELPING others.  For all those times I am now so truly sorry, I now know how sharply they can pierce a suffering heart.  The best lesson I have learnt through my suffering is how much value there is in silence - not solitude, we need to know people are thinking about us and have their company somtimes.  To have peoples love, not their words has often been just what I have needed.  This won't be the same for everyone I am sure, but I am now aware there may be others for whom this is what they need.

5.  Authoritive Prayer, page 247

"'Prudence' says C S Lewis, 'means practical common sense, taking the trouble to think out what you are doing and what is likely to come of it.'  It is a virtue that is in short supply today.  Some people, once they understand the authority they have in Christ, seem to lose all good sense...and good manners.  They go round ordering this and that to happen in the most unking and destructive of ways.  Jesus never did that.  he knew when to speak and when to be silent.  He was always appropriate to the situation in which he found himself.  Even his teachings are filled with good, ordinary 'horse sense'."

Again I am sure this is something I have failed to comply to in the past, and I am very sorry for this. I am growing aware of the need to keep check on what 'I' think should be happening and concentrate and wait for confirmation sometimes to make sure I am listening for what HE wants to be happening.

6.  Radical Prayer, page 266

" A venerable old sage once asked his disciples, 'How can we know when the darkness is leaving and the dawn is coming?'

'When we can see a tree in the distance and know that it is an elm and not a juniper' ventured one studen. 'When we can see an animal and know tht it is a fox and not a wolf,' chimed in another.

'No,' said the old man, ' those things will not help us.'

Puzzled, the students demanded, 'How then can we know?'

The master teacher drew himself up to his full stature and replied quietly, 'We know the darkness is leaving and the dawn is coming when we can see another person and know that this is our brother or our sister; for otherwise, no matter what time it is , it is still dark.'"

WOW is all I felt when I read this, I so want to see others in this LIGHT.

7.  Radical Prayer, page 269

" Those seeking communal expressions of Christian community must wrestle with major issues: how to maintain proper authority without becoming authoritarian, how to maintain a high level of intentional community life without becoming ingrown, how to make this way of life accessible to families with small children and couples who are highly mobile.  Vigorous prayers need to arise for prophetic vision to create new solutions to old problems"

Boy is this a prayer of my own heart, sometimes I feel that my drive to find/see created the type of church that I feel comfortable worshipping in as extreemely selfish.  However I also am sure God has reminded me over and over that though even though I am individually made, there are many like me, and if I can find nowhere, then maybe there are others in the same boat.  Even more on my heart is the fact that if there are other Christians like me who do not feel they have a comfortable communal place to worship, how on earth are all their 'non' Christian friends every going to see the JOY that can exist in a community of Christians.

Well I think this is the longest blog I have written to date (mind you I had to use some other peoples words!).  I do so pray that I will not forget what I have read and written and that God will keep me growing.

Does anyone else have ways of remembering things they have read?

holy experience

Monday, 25 January 2010

So many Blessings.

holy experience

I feel as though the whole of last week was spent immersed in blessings, I am so thankful for Ann Voskamp and Susanne Barrett for inspiring to get on this journey of counting my blessings, just look at what I might have missed:

61.  The cheque through the post.
62.  The right summer holiday being found, even though it was 3rd on our list.
63.  My sons excitement at the realisation of an instantly answered prayer for him.
64.  My sons friends living just around the corner enabling him independance to go play.
65.  9 days taking only 4 tablets a day instead of 15.
66.  5lbs weight loss in just one week.
67.  The encouragement my children give me.
68.  The courage gained to return to our home church yesterday.
69.  Regular prayer times with my husband.
70.  Watching my son devour the whole bible in a week in picture form.
71.  Watching the girls play together.
72.  Quietness during the day.
73.  A walk by the sea on a Sunday afternoon.
74.  The freedom to do little jobs when I want to.
75.  Noticing my children growing both physically, emotionally and spiritually.
76.  The buzz of the scanner as my husband gets on with a project that he has been wanting to get done for some time.
77.  Happy memories shared as the 10th anniversary of my husbands father dying passes by.
78.  Being able to offer a comforting hug and meeting of eyes with someone who knows loss.
79.  The tingle of excitement at the good things our family has to look forward to this week.
80.  The steadfast knowledge in the dark moments that He is holding and guiding me.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Ethical Brighton!

Last week after going to visit my dear friend Helen, we continued our journey south to go back to Brighton, on the south coast of England.  We stayed there back in September for a couple of nights and found the best vegetarian restaurant we have ever been to Terre a Terre .  So it was the thought of visiting this and knowing that I had also discovered some great fairtrade shops that we decided to go back.  I had time to prepare myself this time so spent a few hours surfing the net the day before we went, finding the Fair trade shops that I wanted to visit and marking them on a map so that I wouldn't forget where they were.

We arrived late, booked into the same hotel as before (we are such creatures of habit!).  Fortunately they had space we hadn't dared to book anything as the weather had been so unpredictable and there was still lots of snow on the ground.  After a quick freshen up and a cup of tea we made our way down to the restaurant.

We both had potato rosti's, mine with spinach and poached egg, my husbands with spicy halumi tika, this was washed down with a fine local West Sussex white wine.  We then treated ourselves to one of their yummy puddings.  I had a cheese cake that was accompanied with a lemon and rosemary sauce which was just divine, while my husband had something very very chocolaty.  My husband brought me their cookbook for my birthday at the end of last year and so I now feel re-inspired to get it out and get cooking.

After a very warm nights sleep (we could not cool the room down, even with the window open!), we went off for a days shopping map in hand.

First we went to Gossypium which is a shop I have brought from by mail order many a time, they do a superb selection of fairtrade fabrics.  It was lovely to browse, I was interested to see if they had any sale items as they are usually a little bit pricy.  Unfortunately the only bargain I found didn't fit, but I enjoyed the looking.

There are lots of little gift shops in The Lanes, many of which stock fairtrade products, so I enjoyed having a little look around these.

We then walked up Bond Street in the North Laines area.  Here we visited a small gift shop called Evolution, they are almost all fairtrade, and we managed to pick up 3 lap trays for the children that were a little damaged but had their prices cut from £10 each to £2.00 each.  So we got those!  I loved looking at all their FT jewelry, but resisted it knowing I was going to the bead shop.

We passed another shop that I noticed had clothing by Nomads on a rail outside.  So I went inside.... there I found right at the back a whole rail of sale items and managed to pick myself up a lovely white long sleeved shirt (my husband loves me wearing white) for £15.  Another succesful purchase.

From here we went to my very favourite shop Infinity Foods for an organic ethical vegetarian you just cannot get any better.  Here we stocked up on lots of house hold items, chocolate shampoo, seaweed shampoo, lavender bath soak, Weleda rose cleansing lotion, replaceable head toothbrushes for my youngest - we got these last time we came and were very very impressed. We then went into the food section and brought some Vegan Worcestershire sauce, which I didn't know existed, the normal variety, used alot in sauces has fish in it.

We were now laden down with 'stuff', so my husband offered to take it all back to the car while I went on the a bead shop that I wanted to visit.  I eventually found it and spent 20 minutes in my heaven!  I was very restrained, I just picked up a few bits, jewelry fastners, earing hoops and a few packets of seed beeds in colours I had never seen before.  This restraint cost me £6.50, and I have enough 'bits' to keep me going for quite some time, so watch out for some more making.

We then went into Costa Coffee for a lovely fairtrade Late, shared a sandwich and lovely crunchy granola bar.  After a much needed sit down and rest we had a little wonder around the book shop we were in, I managed to find 'The Secret Life of Bees' by Sue Monk Kidd for my mum, I read this several years ago and thought so many bits reasonated with my mums growing up years that she would really enjoy it.  This made the perfect little gift to give her for looking after the children for us.

There was not much energy left in me after this, my husband on his way back from dropping the goodies at the car had managed to find a second hand copy of a jazz cd which had lots of clarinet playing on it - so he got this for our eldest (who has been asked to join the school jazz band).  He had also passed a second hand book stall and saw copies of the original Dr Who books, so he purchased one of these for our son.

I just had a couple of shops left on my list, on the way to one we passed a small tucked away shop called Fair Play, they did not have a huge collection, they had some People Tree clothing and lots of gifty bits.  What did catch my eye was bedding.  This is something we were looking out for for our bedroom, they had some gorgeous sets, but didn't have the one I liked best in King size which we needed.  I got talking to the sales lady who gave me the details of where they purchased them from.  This is the set from   Fairly covered that we are going to order.  It goes just perfectly with the husky pink and deep ruby reds we have in our bedroom.

There was just one shop left on my list but I knew that would be a car ride to make, so we went back to the car and headed off.  Kolkata has some very unique fairtrade clothing and gifts.  What I did find here that I have found no where else is fairtrade wools and cottons for knitting with.  We got a small hair band for my youngest, so that they all had a little gift, and headed home.  We were just commenting on how lovely it had been to spend so much time shopping in our kind of shops when I noticed a huge Co-operative Supermarket shop.  This store is a big favourite as they sell lots of fairtrade produce and we also use them for their ethical banking and insurance.  I remembered that I had a cheque in my purse that needed to be paid in so we pulled the car into the car park and my husband whisked the cheque in.

This made me realise, that if I had to move anywhere in the UK then Brighton would probably be my choice, just because it seems to so support the life style that we have chosen to live.  Moving is not something that I particularly want or would like to do, so for now,  I shall just treasure a lovely time away with my husband, chatting, shopping and eating.  I shall also continue to pray that the area of Hampshire in which we live might be transformed into a similar ethical living style one day.

It was fab to get home and discover there had been no upsets, the eldest went off to her Church run Youth Group, the younger ones went off to bed and we settled down to a nice treat of an Indian takeaway with my mum and dad before heading off for an early night in our own, cosy bed.  Perfect.

Monday, 18 January 2010


holy experience

A few things that I have been thankful for this last week.

41. Time for coffee and prayer with a friend.
42. Blue sky peeping out for the afternoon.
43. A new working shower in our en-suite.
44. A working fan in our main bathroom.
45. Brighton - and a day out shopping ethically.
46. Happy children playing with scraps of cloth for hours.
47. Listening to my girls role playing great friendship behaviour with their cuddly toys.
48. The anticipation of being able to book a fab summer holiday.
49. The weighing scales in the bathroom of the hotel we stayed in last week.
50. The opportunity to stop most of my medication to see what happens without it.
51. Listening to my eldest play her clarinet with new confidence.
52. The cosiest and most comfortable bed in the world - right in my bedroom.
53. A low energy lightbulb in a lamp in my living room that I can have on all day reminding me of the Light of Christ, each time I look at it.
54. The word LOVE made and put up in my kitchen.
55. The promise of spring peeking out in my garden.
56. Friends to do swaps with, tripp trapp chair for a dog cage - fabulous!
57. Fantastic people running great clubs for my 12 year old, puppets and church youth group are favourites at the moment.
58. Not having to use my personal diary, just the family calender which only works 1 month at a time.
59. Furry buds developing slowly on my magnolia tree out of the front window.
60. Listening to the central heating pump jumping into action when the temperature lowers.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

My Friend Helen.

My husband and I have had the great adventage of getting away for a night this last week, thanks to my parents braving the snowy conditions and coming to look after our 3 children.  We left home on Thursday morning and took a leisurely drive to Sydenham, South London to visit a very very dear friend Helen (she was my bridesmaid).  Since getting married about 18 months ago we hadn't seen her and so it was a great pleasure to go and visit her in her new home and with her 6 month baby boy!  He has the most stunningly gorgeous big blue eyes.  Helen was the person that introduced me properly to my now husband, our friendship has gone through what I would consider  'normal' times, sometimes seeing each other lots, some times having spaces, some times having to confess to behaviour that has affected each other or our other friends. 

It sounds very trite to say that it is during bad times you really know who your friends are, but I have to say that I have really found this to be true with Helen.  I have watched her be a gracious and loving sister when her sis was diagnosed with cancer.  I have seen her stand by practically and emotionally when one of her closest friends husband died just after Helen got married.

But as a friend to me she has just been quietly wonderful, especially over this last year.  She has called me at just the right moments and listened to my grief and frustrations when my sister died.  Having taken on teenage step children since marrying her lovely husband she is aware of the tangle of emotions that surround taking on roles in the lives of children whom those we love, love deeply.  However she is also deeply aware of the differences in our experiences, which probably have advantages and disadvantages on either of our sides. 

So Helen, this blog is about you! I hadn't quite expected it to be quite so gushy over you, but there you go, I love you deeply and thank God for having you in my life.

How amazing  God given friendships are, some may last just for season, but some you hope will last for a lifetime.

My husband and I did move on to have our night away after a fabulous home prepared soup and a good few hours chatting with Helen, but I shall leave the rest of our stay away for another blog.

Monday, 11 January 2010

One Thousand Gifts.

St Francis Church of England Primary School last wednesday.

It's been a funny old week gone by.  Last week has been one of the coldest and snowiest I have ever known in this country.  After having the children home for 2 weeks holiday over Christmas and new year they all went back last Tuesday.  Then the snow came, my 12 year old did not return to school for the rest of the week (It is at the top of a hill!), my 8 and 10 year olds had a half day on Weds and were in for the full day on Friday.  This obviously gave us all a few challenges - I was selfishly yearning for some time to myself.  The younger children were extreemly put out knowing the eldest was home while they were at school.

It all got me thinking a lot about Home Education.  Having several friends who home educate, I have always wondered if it were something that I should be doing.  I most certainly agree with all the reasons that they do it and do not agree with opponents of home education on any of the reasons they give for it not being appropriate.  So surely if you can see that there are only advantages to do it - I should do it!  However there is one big obstacle in the way that was most definately born out to me this week - I am just toooooo selfish.  I love having time to myself doing things without the children.  I sometimes even pray that I could be 'called' to do it, but then I have experiences like last week which seem to just make it seem an impossible dream.  I did attempt to do a few 'formal' bits with the eldest (12), she is very dyslexic, probably has attention deficit disorder and a reading/writing age of around 8 years.  I found the whole process just so difficult and certainly think my attempts to build her up soon come crashing down with one wrong word from me.

So this week I am going to try and focus on my children without the guilt of feeling as though I should be home educating them and see if I can build them up and improve their self confidence through daily 'normal' interactions with them.  I'll let you know how I get on next week!

21. The prompt arrival of an angel of an engineer to fix our central heating on the coldest day ever!22. Children getting up and ready for school without me moaning at them.
23. Schools which support my children and let me indulge my own selfishness with time alone.
24. The clickety clack of my knitting needles.
25. Parents prepared to come and help me nurture my marriage.
26. The wise words of Richard Foster in his book on Prayer.
27. Discovering we have a new couple joining our Parish from a similar church background to myself and a heart to see change.
28. For the person who has offered to help with my job while I am not there.
29. For quiet conversations on the street.
30. A yearning for reconciliation which is growing in my heart.
31. The generosity of friends with their time and gifts.
32. A thaw of the icy roads and pavements which is taking place as I write today.
33. The loss of my pride, enabling me to use a walking stick which means I am walking more and better.
34. Cuddles from my 10 year old.
35. Acceptance of consequences from my 12 year old.
36. The steadfast friendship of a best friend for my 8 year old.
37. My little night time reading torch which helps me to while away awake hours of the night without disturbing my sleeping husband.
38. Pictures discovered that were hidden away and now hang on my walls.
39. The comfort and warmth from home cooked meals.
40. The freedom from colds which the whole family have been enjoying so far this winter.

holy experience

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Home Made Christmas Presents.

Money has been a little tighter since I made the decision to stop working for 6 months, with a little more time on my hands, this meant I could actually make some Christmas presents - something I have always wanted to do, but only ever managed the odd present here and there. 

This outfit was made for one of my God daughters 'Baby Annabel' dolly.  I used fabric from my 'store' which I have to say is not very large anymore since I did a big clearout earlier in the year.  Thankfully these bits sort of go together and I am quite pleased with the results.  I use an electric sewing machine and even the poppers for the shoulders and the elastic in the headband were from my 'store'.  It took me about a day in all to complete it, though was doing lots of other things as well.
This small outfit was for another of my God daughters.  She had been to stay overnight for the first time this year and Bear had come along with her.  We chatted quite a lot about Bear and I asked if he had any clothes.  The answer was no, so I asked if she might like to have some for him to which she said yes, so she decided that a coat and hat would be a good place to start as he might get chilly in the winter.  The ball of wool cost me £1.99 and it took me several evenings to complete.
These cross stitched rulers were my first venture back to cross stitch in a very long time.  In my late teens and early twenties I used to do loads and have several large pictures that I did for myself as well as several family members having some as well.  I brought the rulers (which have a removable top so that you can insert the fabric) last year when they were on sale for £3.50 each, I made 3 altogether, these two are for two of my nieces.  'I also made one for a young lad, with his the letters of his name made us with 'stuff' that he likes (trains, cornet, football, etc).  Each one took me about a week of evenings.

This scrap book was for my son, it is the first time I have attempted to do one, having yearned to for quite some time.  The album cost me £2.99 and included 20 plastic leaves in it.  I then spent about £10 on nice card, paper and stickers to help create it.  I was also able to use lots of bits that I already had.  I buy photo paper in bulk, so had plenty of that.  I also do a lot of card making and so have lots of stamps,  cutters and other crafty bits that helped to make each page unique.  This wasn't the cheapest present to make but I felt well worth the effort and love the fact that my son has found a 'secret' place in his bedroom where he keeps it (I've no idea where that is!).

I was also able to make several bracelets for other God children, friends and family members, I didn't get any pictures of these but did blog on them some time ago you can see the post here.  All the bracelets were made with materials I already had. 

So I have to say I am rather proud of how much I got made and the fact that I used mostly bits that I had in my cupboards!  I started in October - maybe this year, I might get myself organised to start even earlier and might get even more done.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

The 12 Days of Christmas.

On the First Day of Christmas we celebrated with gifts
for each other and a celebration meal all together.

On the Second Day of Christmas we travelled to Bri's sister
and again exchanged gifts and had a celebration meal.

On the Third Day of Christmas we spent family time together,
watching Ice Age 3 and playing with our gifts.

On the Fourth Day of Christmas I took the children into town
to spend their Christmas money.

On the Fifth Day of Christmas the children and my husband had
a long cycle ride around where we live.

On the Sixth Day of Christmas I took the children ice skating
and then we went to visit a little puppy and fell in love.

On the Seventh Day of Christmas I had a migraine and spent the day in bed,
the children and my husband spent time with friends.

On the Eigth Day of Christmas we had a quiet day

On the Nineth Day of Christmas we had a family day out exploring some
of our Great English Heritage.

On the Tenth Day of Christmas we went to a friends church and
worshipped happily together as a family.

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas we took down the Christmas decorations
and lovingly wrapped them safely away.

On the Twelth Day of Christmas, all the children went
back to school and I thanked God for all the Good times we have had.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

One Thousand Gifts.

holy experience

Okay so I am a day late already, fine start to a new year and a new project.  I am not going to be put off though, towards the end of last year I started regularly reading a fantastic blog by Ann Voskamp, it is called Holy Experience and one of the things she regularly hosts is One Thousand Gifts, Multitude Monday.  You can find her site and more explanation of this here

  1. Time to sit in front of a lovely warming fire.
  2. Healthy children.
  3. Friends and family who appreciate home-made gifts.
  4. A husband who adores me.
  5. Dry weather so that I can take a walk.
  6. Food in my cupboards.
  7. Hot cups of tea.
  8. Scrabble on Facebook.
  9. The smell of freshly laundered bedding.
  10. The anticipation of getting a new puppy.
  11. Family meals together.
  12. Reading lovely stories to my children.
  13. Head lice free hair for my son at last!
  14. The opportunity to enjoy all 12 days of Christmas.
  15. The time to blog.
  16. A neat and tidy craft cupboard.
  17. A finance plan finished for the year.
  18. Watching my Amaryllis growing almost an inch every day!
  19. Children who give me unconditional love, even when I discipline them.    
  20. Scrapbooking

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Stonehenge and Old Sarum

Today we have had a lovely trip out and put a little culture into our Christmas Holiday break before the children go back to school next week.

Our eldest has never been to Stonehenge which is less than an hours drive from us, as she has had mention of it in books she has read we though this would be a good start.

We decided on a no games in the car day (electronic stuff), as we knew we would be doing some driving through beautiful countryside.  So listening along to I am Jem Cooke we made our way just beyond Salisbury.

It was busy but no queuing to park or get in.  To my surprise the two smallest (8 & 10 yrs), did not want audio guides, so I managed not to moan at them and just made sure I had one that I was willing to give up!

I used the opportunity (my second visit) to look more closely at the stones, take some photos and just enjoy being there.

Before being1/2 way round I found I was correct to have been willing to give my audio guide away as my 'fact gannet' son took full advantage of it in the end.  Even the youngest pinched her dads before the end of thevisit (after hearing one of the older ones mentioning it was talking about Merlin).

After a quick warm up and lunch in the car (me using my new flask that I had for Christmas!), we drove back towards Salisbury to visit Old Sarum.

There were no audio guides here (being a much smaller and lesser visited site I suppose).  However the signs were great and after reading a few aloud to the children they ran off to do some discovering of their own.

The ground might have been frozen but it was nice to feel that our brains and bodies had walked where others in generations before us for 5000 years had done before us.

To finish our day out as we were leaving we watched a magnificent hot air balloon float by, what a way to see these sights.