Sunday, July 31, 2011

lookie-look

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Have you seen these handmade Victorian-style stoneware beauties from Cats Paw Pottery? Aren't they lovely? So romantic and elegant -- really reminiscent of a more refined, bygone era. I especially love that cat food tray!

Friday, July 29, 2011

on bullies and parents

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So B had her first real taste of bullying in school. This older, bigger kid apparently had it in for this girl "Kitty" -- picking on her, making her do things, etc -- and subsequently decided to spread her intimidation to a couple of the other kids in Kitty's class as well, including B.

So B would be walking to the washroom with Kitty, for example, and "Harriet" would stop them and order them to do something. If they didn't answer appropriately, she wouldn't let them pass. Or, she'd see Kitty somewhere downstairs, and tell her to go look for B somewhere
upstairs, to tell B to "go down and see Harriet now". That one particularly annoyed me, because B yielded to Kitty's fearful urging and obediently went downstairs to find out what Harriet wanted (it was to tell B that she'd better not catch her running).

This had been going on for a few days before B finally told me (though Harriet had apparently been going at Kitty for quite awhile already before that). It bothered me to see that B was quite affected by it -- it disturbed me that she finally said that she wasn't upset by Harriet's behaviour per se, but by the consciousness that she was being picked on and meanly treated, and that she was actually afraid.

Like most grown-ups, my first reaction was to tell B to "just ignore her", but I was aware as I said it that it's just not that straightforward. I've been a victim of bullying in school myself, and while, like B, I never showed my fear and in fact fought back -- I hated that feeling of intimidation and anxiety. You should be able to just go to school and do your lessons and play with your friends -- not continually keep a fearful eye out, wondering when some ass is going to pop up and mess with you.

I was very glad though, that B chose to tell me, that she had that... I don't know... confidence? trust? in me, and was comfortable with confiding in me, that I was the first earthly person she turned to. I was glad that she felt the injustice, the "wrongness" of the situation, enough to want something to be done about it. And I was glad too that she cared about the unhappiness of her classmates (it turned out that Harriet was bullying other kids as well, including one on her schoolbus, whom she'd tell to "go to sleep or I'll punch you").

I decided to address the issue as practically as possible. I felt there wasn't any point saying, "Just ignore her" when I knew it was easier said than done. It is, I think, the easy-way-out option some grown-ups choose. Instead, I talked to B for a good hour or two, explaining why bullies might behave the way they do, and how she could avoid being bullied.

I told her that she should not ascribe any power or importance to Harriet just because she was bigger or older -- and she need not obey or submit to Harriet's bullying, and that doing so in fact "fed" Harriet's meanness and blustering.

I also decided to speak to Harriet's form teacher about her -- not just for B's sake, but for the other kids as well.
That seems to have been very effectual -- Harriet has not messed with B since. But I was a little perturbed that those other kids had just been suffering in silence all the while; for some reason, they just didn't feel they could approach their parents about it. But if, as a child, you can't turn to your own parents for help... Kris, the girl on Harriet's schoolbus, was so miserable that she confided in Beck.

I feel so strongly that parents -- at least one of them -- must be there for their kids. Take the time to
know your child so that you can pick up on anything that's not quite right; take the time to know what they're going through every day, what they're experiencing, dealing with, having to overcome. Just because they're little doesn't mean that what they're going through isn't important, or of enormous, far-reaching significance.

So many parents are out at work, busy making money and material investments; of course that's important, a practical necessity, but I really believe that somehow parents have to make the time and effort to factor their children in -- not just in a "I'm making and investing money for my kid's
future" kind of way, but in a "I'm growing and investing in my kid's emotional and spiritual welfare now".

It's common these days for kids to be left in the care of relatives or nannies or people at daycare, but I don't think it's really their responsibility to mould our kids into truly successful human beings. We're call
ed parents -- we need to parent.

Self-confidence, emotional stability, proper values, a real sense of right and wrong, of peace and security -- these are all things, call them "life skills", which children need to develop in their formative years. I don't know if Harriet's parents are taking the time to do this with their little girl, I don't know if they're even there at all.

Author and psychologist Dr James Dobson once wrote in a newsletter: "What a price we pay for the speed at which we run. Most of us remember these last 12 months as a blur of activities. There is so much work to do, so many demands on our time. There is so much pressure. Meanwhile, what should have mattered most was often put on hold or short-changed or ignored altogether.

"Millions of children received very little love and guidance this year from their busy parents. Husbands and wives pass like ships in the night, and our spiritual natures languished amidst over-crowded schedules and endless commitments".

In his book
Margin, Dr Richard Swanson writes: "Progress has given us unprecedented affluence, education, technology and entertainment. We have comforts and conveniences other eras could only dream about, yet somehow we are not flourishing under the gifts of modernity as one would expect.

"We have 10 times more material abundance than our ancestors, yet we are not 10 times more contented or fulfilled. Margin has been stolen away and progress was the thief. We must have room to breathe. We need freedom to think and permission to heal.

"Our relationships are being starved to death by velocity – no one has time to listen, let alone love. Our children lay wounded on the ground, run over by our high-speed good intentions".

In the meantime, B has learnt to "just ignore her". Also a useful life skill.

Kids Health has a great article about bullying here.

box 2

Spare room / parlour / boudoir / whatever:

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And in the meantime, I find the Cats and their extended family have settled into Box 1:

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

loving today

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reflection

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I realised today that I had on two things from two awesome Etsy sellers:
my Art Deco black glass necklace from Jean Jean Vintage,
and my 60s John Romain handbag from Bess Georgette!

(I know I know, the background props are terrible, the light's behind me, and the mirror's dirty -- next time, if I'm feeling brave enough again, I'll get B to photograph me :)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

loving today

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on imperfection and pressing on

B

During my prayers this morning I was telling God how wonderful it is to know Him, I mean to really know Him, like deep in my spirit. I was marvelling at how I knew Him before -- I was baptised as a baby and went to church and Christian schools -- but it was more like I knew of Him; it was only a head sort of knowledge, I did not have a real revelation of Him in my heart, and I lived a decidedly un-Godly life.

Which was what then led me to tell God how frustrated I am by my thoughts and behaviour. I mean, I know him now, in my spirit, yet I still act badly -- my thoughts and behaviour just don't match up with the fact that the Holy Spirit lives in me. I'm anxious, impatient, intolerant, etc etc -- I certainly do not behave as if I had the mind of Christ.

And right as I was lamenting this, I felt the Holy Spirit telling me that I was like Paul, who said, "For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled, bewildered]. I do not practice or accomplish what I wish, but I do the very thing that I loathe which my moral instinct condemns]". Well right away I grabbed a piece of paper and wrote that down, so that I'd be sure to remember to look it up when I'd finished praying.

Which is what I did. I found that verse in Romans 7, which so powerfully captures my own feelings:

"For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot perform it. [I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out.]

For I fail to practice the good deeds I desire to do, but the evil deeds that I do not desire to do are what I am [ever] doing...

O unhappy and pitiable and wretched man that I am! Who will release and deliver me from [the shackles of] this body of death?" (
Rom 7:15-24).

Naturally, I read to the end of the chapter with bated breath, and I was not disappointed:

"O unhappy and pitiable and wretched man that I am! Who will release and deliver me from [the shackles of] this body of death?

O thank God! [He will!] through Jesus Christ (the Anointed One) our Lord!" (Rom 7:24-25).

And so I keep pressing on, "not having any [self-achieved] righteousness that can be called my own... but possessing that [genuine righteousness] which comes through faith in Christ (the Anointed One), the [truly] right standing with God, which comes from God by [saving] faith.

[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly]...

That if possible I may attain to the [spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body].

Not that I have now attained [this ideal], or have already been made perfect, but I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own.

I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,

I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward.


So let those [of us] who are spiritually mature and full-grown have this mind and hold these convictions; and if in any respect you have a different attitude of mind, God will make that clear to you also.

Only let us hold true to what we have already attained and walk and order our lives by that (
Phil 3:9-16, italics mine).

Monday, July 25, 2011

lookie-look

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Aren't these sweet? You can find them, and more precious goodies by Marie, at The Whirlwind (even cooler? she's having a 15% off Christmas in July sale till the end of the month!).

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So you have an old box. And paper. And a really sharp knife. And you know that recycling is a good thing. What do you do when the kids say they need more dollhouse space?

Start building a basement.

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

on John 5, and getting up!

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Our hyper-vigilant, but thankfully always mistaken, fire alarm woke me up at 5:30am, and after rolling about for a bit I finally decided to just get up. What better time than this to consider John 5!

The chapter tells of Bethesda, and a miracle Jesus performed there. Bethesda was a pool with five porches at which sick people would wait for a miraculous healing:

“For an angel of the Lord went down at appointed seasons into the pool and moved and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was cured of whatever disease with which he was afflicted.

There was a certain man there who had suffered with a deep-seated and lingering disorder for thirty-eight years.

When Jesus noticed him lying there [helpless], knowing that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, Do you want to become well? [Are you really in earnest about getting well?]

The invalid answered, Sir, I have nobody when the water is moving to put me into the pool; but while I am trying to come [into it] myself, somebody else steps down ahead of me.

Jesus said to him, Get up! Pick up your bed (sleeping pad) and walk!

Instantly the man became well and recovered his strength and picked up his bed and walked…” (John 5:4-9).

As I read that, I wondered if many of us go through life like that, just “lying there [helpless]”, having already “been a long time in that condition”. We mope about, wallowing in dejection and self-pity, perhaps even expecting somebody else to pick us up, to “put us into the pool”, perhaps thinking defeatist thoughts about how other people always get ahead of us.

We say we’re believing God for miraculous breakthroughs, and yet do nothing but keep a negative confession and a pathetic, negative attitude.

I thank God I’m no longer in that deep rut of depression, just “lying there [helpless]” and complaining, but I know I’m not where I need to be yet. Having occasional bouts of “helplessness” and negativity is very frustrating in its own way. In my spirit I know it is no way for a victorious Christian to act, and yet… “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak”.

I think there’s a definite lesson for me in these verses. When the man had told Jesus what his problem was – and it actually did sound pretty bad to me – Jesus didn’t go, “Aw, poor you… yeah, you’ve got every reason to just lie there sad and depressed”.

Instead, He said, “Get up!” (note exclamation mark!)

Get up!” Whenever I’m tempted now to wallow in useless self-pity and negativity, whenever I take a perverse pleasure in being dismal and pessimistic, I remind myself of Jesus’ rousing, energising command.

“Little children, you are of God [you belong to Him] and have [already] defeated and overcome them [the agents of the antichrist], because He Who lives in you is greater (mightier) than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

It’s interesting that Jesus asked the man, “Do you want to become well? [Are you really in earnest about getting well?]” It’s like He was asking, “Do you really want to overcome this? Or are you actually content to just stay stuck in your familiar, comfortable, miserable rut? Are you prepared to make a real effort and rise up in faith in order to see God’s power at work?”

It is an effort to pick ourselves up, to take those steps of faith, one after another after another… keeping a good attitude, and staying positive and peaceful all the while. Trust me, I know.

Jesus told the man to “Get up!” and the man did – he took that literal step of faith. He believed Jesus had the power to heal him, that Jesus was willing to, and had, in fact, already done so.

I believe God expects us to do our part, to do what we can. Then when we get up and walk in faith, He takes care of the rest. I know, through conviction and experience, that when I make that effort, suddenly I find that I’m on my feet, and that I’m well.

Monday, July 18, 2011

eeBoo

Look what I found today! eeBoo.com!

eeBoo describe themselves as a boutique toy manufacturer that specialises in useful, beautiful and well-made educational games and gifts.


Their products are sold in both specialty toy stores and high-end gift shops, as well as museum stores, bookstores, art supply stores and other non-big box venues. eeBoo creates refreshing toys and gifts that are 100% original (no licenses) and commission their artwork from well-known and well-loved children’s book illustrators.

Just look at these goodies -- aren't they lovely!

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1. Fairytale activity book
2. I Never Forget a Face matching game
3. Wildlife matching game
4. Pre-school Lotto game

I'm also digging the adorable flash cards :)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

on John 3, and getting caught in the act

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Well, I am happy to say that we are just going to quietly
repair the roof. I am so much more at ease now. As Romans 12:21 says, "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good". So yay.

In other news, I have finished
really reading the Gospel of John, but just didn't have time to share my thoughts on each chapter. I was in fact led to read the Gospel of Mark next, which I'm midway through now.

John 3 is a lovely chapter because it is full of verses describing God's boundless love and goodness. There's the famous 3:16 of course, but this chapter has so much more than just that.


"And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert [on a pole], so must [so it is necessary that] the Son of Man be lifted up [on the cross],

In order that everyone who believes in Him [who cleaves to Him, trusts Him, and relies on Him] may not perish, but have eternal life and [actually] live forever! For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.

For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him.

He who believes in Him [who clings to, trusts in, relies on Him] is not judged [he who trusts in Him never comes up for judgment; for him there is no rejection, no condemnation -- he incurs no damnation]; but he who does not believe (cleave to, rely on, trust in Him) is judged already [he has already been convicted and has already received his sentence] because he has not believed in and trusted in the name of the only begotten Son of God. [He is condemned for refusing to let his trust rest in Christ's name.]


The [basis of the] judgment (indictment, the test by which men are judged, the ground for the sentence) lies in this: the Light has come into the world, and people have loved the darkness rather than and more than the Light, for their works (deeds) were evil.


For every wrongdoer hates (loathes, detests) the Light, and will not come out into the Light but shrinks from it, lest his works (his deeds, his activities, his conduct) be exposed and reproved.


But he who practices truth [who does what is right] comes out into the Light; so that his works may be plainly shown to be what they are -- wrought with God [divinely prompted, done with God's help, in dependence upon Him]" (
John 3:14-21).

One thing I've definitely noticed about having a closer walk with God, it's that feeling of "coming out into the Light", having my works "plainly shown to be what they are" -- they're often far below the bar, unfortunately, but now I am far more sensitive to the Holy Spirit's promptings and convictions, so that bit by bit I am overcoming them.

It's strange how, before I started having this closer walk with God, I was quite content to dwell in the darkness, and carry on there as if nothing was wrong. How often do we do our own thing, indulging our carnal desires, and ignoring the little nudgings in our spirit, the gentle promptings of God, that try to tell us that what we're doing just isn't right, and isn't going to bless us, or anyone else.

We think we're ok if we're not completely evil, and yet we indulge in daily little bites of meanness, cruelty, selfishness, ill-temper... and then get upset if anyone even vaguely points it out to us. We think we're ok if no one witnesses our compromises, our transgressions, our "lapses", if no one knows what goes on in private.

Now I feel terrible if I even have a mean
thought, and if I actually do something I know grieves God, well -- it's like when Dr Evil has the searchlights turned on him as he tries to escape from prison. I'm glad of the Holy Spirit's convictions now, of getting "caught in the act" as it were; I know I'm being guided, led "into a level country and into the land of uprightness" (Ps 143:10).

"O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your dwelling" (Ps 43:3)


"Clothe yourselves therefore, as God's own chosen ones (His own picked representatives), [who are] purified and holy and well-beloved [by God Himself, by putting on behavior marked by] tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feeling, a lowly opinion of yourselves, gentle ways, [and] patience [which is tireless and long-suffering, and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper].


Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you, so must you also [forgive].


And above all these [put on] love and enfold yourselves with the bond of perfectness [which binds everything together completely in ideal harmony]" (
Col 3:12-14).

Friday, July 15, 2011

little kid necklaces

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I've got new charm necklaces in the shop now, for kiddos or grown-ups! They're simple, comfortable pieces that are perfect for everyday. Their cheerful colours go with anything -- my own kiddos regularly wear their fruit necklaces :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

on peace, and loving thy neighbours

They don't have these problems in Sylvania.

My in-laws have these neighbours who are real... not nice people. I kinda sensed it before, but now it's definitely confirmed.

It's hard to tell whether it's because they're uneducated, or uncultured, or plain selfish, or all of the above. But they're the sort of people who don't do anything about their house unless it's negatively affecting their comfort. If it's affecting their neighbour's comfort, well, it really isn't their problem.

This would be fine if they were living quite apart in some isolated, distant mansion, but unfortunately they're not -- my in-laws are their neighbours and they live in semi-detached houses, which means they are connected -- very much stuck together -- on one side.

I think their relationship soured ages ago when my mother-in-law finally felt compelled to tell them that dogs needed to be trained to obey their owner's command to stop barking, and that this required dedicated effort and consistency. These people were into dog breeding, if you can believe it -- and had several large-breed dogs in their home which they neither understood nor trained.

The dogs would bark non-stop at virtually anything that moved, and that included my in-laws -- despite the fact that they saw them more than once every single day. My in-laws concluded that although they were, to all appearances, intelligent, trainable breeds like German Shepherds and Labs, they were deficient in brains because they had been inbred. I suppose it didn't help that they were never taken out or played with, and were therefore bored out of their skulls.


Anyway, these neighbours have been having roof troubles for quite awhile now. However, rather than give their roof a complete overhaul, with quality materials and workmanship, they've just been patching it up here and there, wherever and whenever the leaks start affecting
their home.

Almost needless to say, they don't choose the best kind of people for the job either, presumably in an effort to cut costs -- this was most clearly evidenced when, some years ago, during one of their little stop-gap patch-ups, their workmen damaged my in-laws' roof so badly that they could actually look up through their wardrobe at the stars.


You'd think, when they were told about it, they'd have gone something like, "O no! We're so sorry, we'll send the men over to fix it right away!" No. Instead, the husband (a retired Major! hello gallantry, honour, integrity, etc etc!) rudely told my mother-in-law that there was no way his men -- carelessly throwing stuff and clambering on my in-laws' roof -- could have done it, and that she was being difficult. She was forced to let him into their bedroom during a thunderstom so he could see for himself the water gushing into her closet.


So -- that's what Mr Major is like. His wife, a schoolteacher (!), the sort of lady who sits on the porch with her whole head in curlers, reading the papers while her husband does the housework, aids and abets him in his immaturity and boorishness.


About a year ago, my in-laws started noticing substantial leakage in their dining room -- on the side they share with their dear neighbours. They called their own roof fellow in, who found that the water was in fact being forced in from the Major's home, through some clogging in his roof drainage system.

However, on telling him this in the hopes that he would fix it, he said -- yep, you guessed it -- it wasn't his problem. So my in-laws -- anxious to avoid fighting with him -- put up with it.

For
months they lined that whole area in the dining room with towels, and shuddered with worry every time there was a rainstorm. My husband was seething the entire time, but they told him to let it be. So he did.

Finally, whatever was clogged up in the Major's roof became so bad that it finally forced its way out into
their home, and so then he really had no choice but to call in the experts. And lo and behold -- as soon as they fixed whatever it was, the leaking in my in-laws' dining room stopped completely. My in-laws were thankful, despite the fact that the wall and ceiling there are now damaged and discoloured.

Now, similar bad leaking has started in an upstairs bedroom -- yup, on
that side -- and the roof guy has told my in-laws that it is again water being forced in from the Major's ill-kept roof. The damage is quite alarming -- besides the bad water stains, it has caused considerable warping in the ceiling. This time, my husband dealt with the Major. And guess what Mr Major told him? "I don't want to talk about it, it's not my problem" (and Mrs Schoolteacher on the side added, "It's hot. Let's go").

The especially stupid part about the whole thing was that when my husband said that he needed Mr Major's permission for the roof guys to go up on to
his roof, because the problem was on his side, he actually said ok. He was basically telling us that it was our problem, that he wasn't going to do anything to help, but that sure, we could go ahead and fix his roof.

Kev kept his temper throughout, for which I'm proud of him, given his intolerance of bullying and idiocy. But he did rant about it to me, and I in my turn got upset. In fact, I continued being upset about it the entire day, and frankly, even now, days after, I'm still disturbed when I think about it.

On the superficial level, I'm disturbed that Kev got spoken to like that. I'm disturbed that the situation wasn't dealt with amicably and fairly. But on a deeper level, I'm disturbed that there really are such people in the world. Not outrightly evil people, but people who really are criminally unethical, dishonourable and small.


I'm upset that after all my efforts to be pleasant and courteous to them, the fact is they still hate our guts. I'm upset that they manage to make me think uncharitable thoughts about them. I mean, I actually find myself thinking, how can she possibly be a teacher? What school does she teach at?? Which poor children are under her mean, small-minded tutelage?

And I'm upset that they drive Kev to think of ways of effectively dealing with them. His brother says they are hoodlums and must be dealt with hoodlumishly, and he agrees; it's the only language such people understand.

Kev wants to pursue a legal course, and honestly, I'm more than half in support of that.
But it's hard to reconcile it with my faith. I hate conflict, I hate strife; I am largely a "let it go" kind of person.

"You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.

But I say to you, Do not resist the evil man [who injures you]; but if anyone strikes you on the right jaw or cheek, turn to him the other one too.


And if anyone wants to sue you and take your undershirt (tunic), let him have your coat also.


And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two [miles]...


You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy;

But I tell you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

To show that you are the children of your Father Who is in heaven...
For if you love those who love you, what reward can you have? Do not even the tax collectors do that?

And if you greet only your brethren, what more than others are you doing? Do not even the Gentiles (the heathen) do that?


You, therefore, must be perfect [growing into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character, having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity], as your heavenly Father is perfect" (
Matt 5:38-48).

It isn't easy. One can't be a doormat, and yet I'm not at peace in my spirit with things like damage suits.
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time" (1 Peter 5:6).

The Bible tells us to "Be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of [and produced by] the Spirit in the binding power of peace" (Eph 4:3). "Depart from evil and do good; seek, inquire for, and crave peace and pursue (go after) it!" (Ps 34:14).

Am I striving earnestly enough? Am I craving and pursuing peace enough?

Trust me, I know where Kev's coming from. I feel the injustice of it all. I feel indignant for him and for my in-laws. But
I've told Kev that we must not act in anger; we must be scrupulous and fair, not malicious or vindictive, and of course he agrees. He says he simply wants a disinterested third party to authoritatively see that justice is done. That is roughly what justice systems are in place for I suppose. Human justice systems.

P
eter asked Jesus, "How many times may my brother sin against me and I forgive him and let it go? [As many as] up to seven times?" And Jesus answered him, "I tell you, not up to seven times, but seventy times seven!" (Matt 18:21-22).

Well so far, Kev is not into the forgiving or loving thy neighbour thing. I mean, he does have to pay for the repairs. So I've been praying about this, for peaceful resolution and healing of relationships. I've been praying for Kev, because really, you need a certain wisdom, inner peace, and strength of character to deal with the likes of Mr Major and his wife. And I've been praying for myself; I definitely need divine help to keep "a clear (unshaken, blameless) conscience, void of offense toward God and toward men" (Acts 24:16).

Monday, July 11, 2011

little kid satchels

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I've got new little kid satchels in the shop now! I made this messenger-style satchel especially for young children. I based it on the satchels I made for my own kids to carry their stuff in when we go out, or to keep the things they pick up along the way -- like bank brochures! I prefer having the bag carried across the body so that my kids always have their hands free. And isn't it so much better when they help carry some of their own stuff??

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R and a couple of her own satchels.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

John 2, and just doing it

Just do this.

I am happy to say that I have been keeping up with my real reading of the Gospel of John! Honestly, I now find so much that is noteworthy and of value in every single chapter. It obviously makes a lot of difference when one consciously chooses to read, indeed study, with sincere concentration.

I'm doing two chapters a day, as each chapter is fairly long, and I don't want to feel overwhelmed, and start cutting corners.

In Chapter 2, Jesus performs his first miracle, turning water into wine:

"And when the wine was all gone, the mother of Jesus said to Him, They have no more wine!

Jesus said to her, [Dear] woman, what is that to you and to Me? [What do we have in common? Leave it to Me.]...

His mother said to the servants, Whatever He says to you, do it" (John 2:3-5).

Wasn't Mary great? She didn't get all negative, or freak out. She knew who to go to when there was a problem. And she had no doubts that Jesus could, and would, take care of it.

"Just do it". That's supposed to Nike's nifty tagline right? The line, coupled with images of powerful athleticism, basically implies that with Nike's products, we average folk can be as awesome, overcoming odds and opponents, emerging triumphant, whether in sports or in life -- we just need to "do it" -- no questions, no reasonings, no fear or dread.

How wonderful if we really lived our lives like that -- following God's directions, without questions, reasonings, fear or dread, holding fast to our faith and confidence that God can and will help us overcome all our odds and opponents.

There'll be times in life where we're out of wine, or hope, or joy or peace -- but thank God we have a Saviour who cares about us and wants to help us. It may not always be in the most expected or conventional way -- Mary might perhaps have just expected Jesus to pop out to the nearest store -- but He will help us.

"For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning.

Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God's unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it]" (
Heb 4:15-16).

Isn't that wonderful?

Truth is, I've been facing some things lately and, unfortunately, have not been having a "Just Do It" attitude. It's been more along the lines of, "O no, this is terrible, there's no wine, my whole party is ruined", embellished with, "Poor me, why don't I have wine, do I even have water, how will I get through this".

Writing this now, I feel the Holy Spirit reminding me again of all my blessings, and how God meets all my needs, without fail.

"Why are you cast down, O my inner self? And why should you moan over me and be disquieted within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, Who is the help of my [sad] countenance, and my God" (Ps 43:5).

Like the servants who obeyed without question,
who exerted and applied themselves and filled the stone pots with water, I will keep pressing on in faith.

1 Peter 5:6-7 says, "... humble yourselves [demote, lower yourselves in your own estimation] under the mighty hand of God, that in due time He may exalt you,

Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully".

When we're out of wine (or hope, or joy or peace), it's easy to fall prey to discouragement, despair, hopelessness and depression. But verses 8 to 9 remind us to resist the devil and be firm in faith.

"Whatever He says to you, do it". Thank God for your party, thank God for your water and your orange juice and your coffee and your hot chocolate, even if you don't have wine. But don't forget too -- through conviction and real experience -- that God works miracles in your life continually, that He cares about you, and His plans for your life are good.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

on B's nose, courage and joy

So poor Beck's cold descended into acute sinusitis and otitis media, and she finally had to have a nasopharyngoscopy. She'd had horrible nasal congestion and a bad phlegmy cough for pretty much the entire June holidays, and had already been to see two different GPs (which honestly just tells me that you shouldn't see a GP except for the most basic of ailments -- the kinds which you could just as soon get treated by the nearest pharmacist).

In case you don't know, nasopharyngoscopy is a procedure which enables an ENT specialist to examine the internal surfaces of the nose and throat. A local anesthetic is squirted in the nose, then a fiberoptic nasopharyngoscope is used. This basically involves inserting a tube through the nose and down the throat (because the tube has its own eyepiece and light, you can actually follow its movements on a TV screen). Yep.

Well, if you've ever had this procedure done, then you'll know that the things they use look like torture devices. They're big and long and metallic -- B was definitely
not relishing having to have them pushed up her nose. But -- though she was clearly afraid -- she just gritted her teeth and went through with it. And for that I am so very proud of her.

The whole thing took quite awhile, because the goop in there also had to be vacuumed out, but B kept her head still, and her spirits up, the entire time. And at the end of it, she joyfully declared, "I feel so much better now!"

That's the wonderful thing about Becks -- her unfailing joy; her positive, upbeat attitude. Though she was very uncomfortable, and hacking a great deal throughout the holidays, and had to, as a consequence, spend her vacation largely at home, she remained her usual lively, cheery self.

Part of her aftercare now includes rinsing out her sinuses twice a day; this involves squirting an entire bottle of saline solution up her nose. While she prepares for this process with dramatic groans and laments, she goes through it with good-natured patience (the rinse was apparently developed by a "Dr Mehta"; for some reason there is a duck on the box declaring this. B says that's Duckter Mehta).

Like
Kipper in her collar, B does not let circumstances get her down.

Not too long back, we saw the emergence of one of B's first adult teeth --
while her baby tooth was still in place. Double-rowed shark teeth aren't really what you want in a human, so we kept a watch on that adult tooth pushing its way up behind the baby one.

After awhile, because the baby tooth showed no signs of coming out, or even being a little bit shaky, I told B I'd have to bring her to the dentist to get the situation evaluated. The mere thought of tooth extraction can strike fear even in grown men, so it was no surprise that B got really anxious and fearful.

What was a surprise was that she told me that her school has a resident dentist, and that she would go see the dentist herself. And you know what -- she did. The dentist told her to keep shaking her baby tooth, and to go back for weekly reviews. And Becks faithfully did (of her own accord, for which I also applaud her). But the baby tooth was stuck firmly in place.

Then, after about three or four weeks, B came back with her baby tooth in an envelope -- she had gone to the dentist herself and had it extracted.

"Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear -- not absence of fear", said Mark Twain. Better yet, "God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control" (2 Tim 1:7).

I am so very glad that Becks has that. And I am so glad too that she has that innate joy and good-naturedness, that ability to truly live in the now, and be peaceful and positive in spite of circumstances. May I never ruin -- or even weaken -- that wonderful, sunny nature with negative, critical, harsh or belittling words or behaviour.

Proverbs 4:23 says "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it". I pray that B will always guard her joyful heart, all the days of her life, and that I will faithfully help her do so.

The way a joyful heart looks after having their nose vacuumed.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Great Balls Of Fire and loving today

There wasn't anything much to watch on the movie channel last night except Great Balls Of Fire, the "biographical" Jerry Lee Lewis film from 1989. I thought it a fun, frivolous sort of movie, nothing really in-depth, but the music was great naturally, and of course -- Winona Ryder looked adorable as Lewis' cousin Myra (who was 13 when he married her).

There's one particularly inane scene where Dennis Quaid, as Lewis, drives over to Myra's school; somehow, the song "High School Confidential" starts playing really loudly -- presumably blasting from Lewis' state-of-the-art car stereo -- and all the kids start dancing outside the school, on the stairs, on the pavement, and even around the car (some of them even pop open the hood while dancing; not sure about that). Well, one can't really analyse such a scene too much, but gee -- the clothes sure were cute!

Here's a Myra-inspired "Loving Today" -- enjoy :)

lt4

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