Building our Towers

Building our Towers

Life has been very busy lately. I can’t believe I haven’t posted since 2015! But when I read some of my old blog posts I realised I still needed to listen to some of my own advice. So, I thought it worth adding a new post about a new bit of wisdom. Not my wisdom, but something that came from listening to a song.

I have recently come across a new band to listen to called Lion of Judah  https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=156440664689816&ref=content_filter

Lion of Judah are local to me but the first time I saw them was at Creationfest in Cornwall last August. http://www.creationfest.org.uk/, which is a free christian festival.

I listened to some of their music at home on YouTube and soon began to be challenged by one song in particular. The song is called “Treasure” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kk9fbYtnOdw

treasure.jpg

These words really caught my attention and my heart…

 

“Have I been building up my tower so high? Is there something that I care about more? Is there something else I’m living for? Can you remind me that this isn’t my home, My Treasure is in you alone!”

 

I don’t know what made the band write this song, but this is what it said to me.

I doodled out a picture while I listened one night and added in a couple of bible verses along with the lyrics I quoted above. It got me thinking about our towers.

So what do I mean building our towers?

In Genesis 11 verse 4 the people are trying to build a tower.

“Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”

They wanted to make a name for themselves, they wanted to make something to be proud of, they were looking to glorify themselves.

It’s not easy to avoid doing this ourselves though. You see it doesn’t just apply to those things we might find obviously related to this, maybe looking for fame and fortune or wanting the most likes on our latest selfie!

But what about those good things we ought to be doing? Just who are we doing them for? For the benefit of others, the recipients of our work and ultimately to the glory of God? Or are we looking for praise and recognition for those things?

For me I realised that when I got married 17 years ago and then had children I had begun to build my own tower.

Yes as a wife and a mum it was only right that I devote time to my husband and children. But I had begun to build my work in them, not in God. My goal became to be the best family, to reach God through living a fairy tale family life. To basically say look Lord look what I have built. Instead of looking at my husband and children and family circumstances as God’s gifts. I don’t mean to say I shouldn’t care about my family, put them before myself or help the members of the family become the best they can be. But ultimately living for my family isn’t the kingdom goal.

My family are as temporary as my own life on earth! It will all fade away. Treasure that lasts can only be found in God.. here is where the other verse in my doodle from Matthew 6 verse 21 came in

“for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”.

My heart drifted from God, as it beheld my family as the ultimate treasure.

I didn’t go around boasting about my family, I didn’t put my children into lots of clubs intending to be doing more, better things, or succeeding at higher levels than someone else. I wasn’t competitive like that. I put expectations on them and myself to act in a certain way, to appear to be a perfect family. Sadly my motives weren’t just to cultivate good habits in my children but also to appear in a certain way to others.

Now, I am not saying all my intentions were based on my building self recognition, but I can see how I was using my family as a tower at times. Building it up to be something to gain praise for; for my own glory. I still need to step back and re check my motives. As the song says

” Is there something that I care about more, is there something else I am living for?”   

We can all benefit from asking ourselves these questions and asking God to show us whether we living for something else be it money, recognition, or many other things.

If my first concern, my first Goal, is to glorify God. If I am living for him, then I will treat my family right without the need to build recognition for myself, to store up my treasures in them. After all they are part of the treasures, the gifts, God has given me to take care of in this life. What greater treasure awaits in Heaven!

 

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Spontaneous schooling and shaking off old habits.

Spontaneous schooling and shaking off old habits.

Three weeks ago we decided to have a break from formal schooling. The reason, we haven’t had one since we started home educating over a year ago! We have had odd days and some time over Christmas, half days and outings but not time to switch our brains off. More importantly not enough time for me to be just mum for a while!

The first week was a holiday spent with my mum where we had days out to Alton towers, Warwick castle and saw family. Though during this time Luke also got some work experience too!

Last week we did some sorting and finally took down the wall between the boys tiny room and the big cupboard next door. So now we are slowly sorting the stuff from the cupboard that has spilled it’s from across the landing and into our bedroom!

But we have continued to do our reading together when ever possible. Today we began the next book in the chronicles of Narnia, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. We only read one chapter but from that sprung a spontaneous Literacy lesson and some art.

In the first chapter Eustace is teasing Lucy and Edmund saying

10306486_10153415383224525_8646371780790394193_n“Some kids who played games about Narnia. Got gradually balmier and balmier.”

In response Lucy says Narnia and Balmier don’t rhyme. But Eustace replies that it is an assonance. So together we found out what an assonance was and made some of our own. (Please excuse my untidy scrawl, I was writing quickly at a funny angle with a wriggly toddler by my side!)

Then we thought about what type of painting we would like to be pulled into like the children find happening with the picture of the Narnian boat in Lucy’s room. They then went off and drew their pictures. If you know the boys you’ll know that all their pictures contained cars!

I’m beginning to think that autonomous learning or at least spontaneous schooling suits us best. Today we have had a good productive but unplanned, unstructured day. Annie Rose and I made cakes, we all did a few chores like putting away washing clearing the draining board and washing up. Then we read our book, did our assonance writing and drew pictures. I even got time to do a little (little!) painting craft work. We saw grandparents and they told us about their holiday. The boys did their bible studies, sorted out a box of bits left from sorting out their room and are now playing darts in the newly hung darts board (great for practising subtraction or addition too!).

The difficulty is I am trained in childcare. I have worked for years in nurseries, reception, year 1 and year 4. I can’t get schoolish thinking out my head and routine!

So this term we are changing our approach slightly we will continue to do maths and literacy on an online program we have subscribed to but the rest of the time is going to be sharing literature, maybe with some spontaneous lessons like today, and practical life skills like gardening, cooking and home maintenance. I have to plan for September’s learning but will be trying to shake old habits that didn’t work for the boys whilst in school yet i find it so hard to drop!

 

Be thankful for the challenges children bring

Be thankful for the challenges children bring

While I was pregnant I read the hiding place by Corrie ten boom. One part that has really stayed with me is when Corries sister insists they pray a prayer of thanks for the fleas and lice. At first Corrie really doesn’t think it is anything to be thankful for, but soon she sees that the guards won’t come in the barracks because of the lice so they are free to have Bible studies with the other women there.

The verse that prompted their prayer was this “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.’” 1 Thessalonians 5 v 17-18

I was reminded lately to be thankful for the challenges children bring not just the fun and easy stuff. Remembering that to have children at all is a blessing some wish for but do not have and some have had but they have sadly not for long.Recently I have been asked to pray for a family that after lots of medical tests found that there young children have a disease that seriously shortens their life. This week they actually lost the oldest of the children 4 years earlier than they had expected and know the younger one will also die prematurely almost certainly not seeing any teenage years. This made me really appreciate anew how fortunate I am to have my children and what a blessing they are from God!

Toddler tantrums, teenage grunts and moans, toys left randomly round th house, toothpaste in the sink, muddy footprints in the hall, crumbs in my bed etc etc. Are all things I’d rather not have to deal with, though they are minor challenges, but we are called to pray thankfully in all circumstances. Not just for the milestones we celebrate in a child’s life or for their achievements and joy they bring. But to be thankful for the frustration and weariness they bring because they are a gift from God we can be thankful.
Friday as I cleaned my teeth before I went to bed I saw toy car in bathroom and it prompted a prayer of thanks for child that left it there instead of the normal frustration of yet another toy left where it shouldn’t be. It’s not always easy to sometimes look past these challenges, misdemeanors and annoyances. We can just berate the child at fault.

But again this week I was reminded also that we are all capable of being the one at fault and often are! So I want to choose to more often just quietly clean up muddy footprint, to calmly sooth the screaming toddler and not fly into a rage because once again the toothpaste is left squeezing out all over the sink. I pray also that others in my life may be gracious enough to give thanks even when I am at fault and leave a trail of muddy footprints in my life!

Cutting and colours

Cutting and colours

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Today our house has been slowly, or not so slowly, filling up with teeny tiny bits of paper. Can’t just blame the kids though I have been merrily cutting things out too.

I recently subscribed to twinkl  (http://www.twinkl.co.uk/). It has some great resource on and because it is all in one place it’s easy to use and i don’t waste time googling and trawling through lots of resources that don’t fit the bill.

My favourite at the moment are the fine motor skills and learning colours as that is what we are doing lots of with Annie-Rose.

 

11203075_10153336010264525_5681766777416087999_nToday I printed out a colour sorting cut and stick activity(http://www.twinkl.co.uk/resource/t-t-8939-colour-sorting-activity).I cut out the colour groups and put them on the door,whichseconds as Annie-Roses display board. I then cut out half ofthe little pictures and popped them in a tub.We both sat by the door and Annie-Rose selected a picture,matched it to the right group, put some glue on it and stuck it on.I needed to be there with her to name the colours as she matched as she is still a little confused and often says everything is green!This activity is simple and could be home made but I just found it so easy to print off. Also as the pictures exactly match the group colours it is easier for learning colours.

It is easy to extend it too. You could look through a magazine or catalogue together cutting out coloured items and adding them to the groups too, or maybe find craft bits to add like pom poms  , sequins, pipe cleaners, foam stickers and buttons.

We didn’t finish all the pictures but we will do a few more later or tomorrow. Then maybe the same next week and the next to consolidate what she has learned. In fact she has just taken herself back to the door to do some more as I type, she must enjoy it!

So with my cutting those out and Isaac cutting out some more twinkl10891489_10153336007114525_2389337295695065719_n goodies for his Human Body project Annie Rose decided she’d like to play with scissors too. Hence the pile of cut up paper on the floor!

She really got the hang of scissors at Messy Church the other Sunday. I was helping supervise a paper weaving activity and she sat nearly the whole time next to me snipping up strips of paper until the table had a pile of confetti on!

So I am compiling a list of scissor practice idea to try out soon here are some:

Play dough– use scissor to cut up play dough can be easier than handling a floppy piece of paper so I start with this activity quite early too especially with those plastic toddler scissors you can get.

Strips of paper – a strip of paper is also easy to cut compared to a sheet of paper or magazine page so this is my choice for a tots first paper cutting activity.

Greetings cards – old Christmas cards and birthday cards etc make an interesting thing to cut and being card, but not too thick, is quite easy too.

Building control – to encourage greater accuracy you can then move onto following lines either ready made sheets from twinkl or other online printables, or drawing your own. You can use greeting cards and draw lines on them with a marker pen. Starting with straight lines then slight zigzag and waves. The depth of the waves and zigzags can be increased as they become more skilled with the scissor and are able to keep to the lines more accurately. Simple shapes like triangles and squares and circles are also good for improving accuracy.

Magazines – these can just be cut up into random pieces or you can look for picture together either as a sorting activity or as a fun picture making activity or simply to just cut out pictures of things you like.

Water colours

Water colours

Doing our caterpillar craft Annie Rose enjoyed using the pipette so much we carried on playing with it. It is great for fine motor skills.

But I had another  idea too. We had been using water colours to paint earlier that day so I took a brush and used the paint to tint two tubs of water one yellow and one blue.

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I put them on the table for Annie Rose with an empty tub in between.

She enjoyed transferring the blue water to the tub in the middle.19522_10153308403709525_2368446677166776839_n

She tipped it back into the first tub, then transferred the yellow water to the tub in the middle.

She then decided to put both yellow and blue in.11156228_10153308402139525_5460543498143726154_nIt turned green and she noticed. “Look, green” she said.

(Although I am not convinced she knows her colours quite yet,

most things are green if you ask her!).

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Hairy caterpillar craft

Hairy caterpillar craft

We take part in a matchbox swop group on Facebook. Each month there is a new theme and those wishing to take part are partnered up. We then fill a matchbox with items fitting the theme and post it to our partners. This month the theme was spring so Annie Rose and I made our box and sent it off. Annie Rose was excited when she opened the one sent to her. They had made the box into a sheep and amongst lots of lovely stickers, activity sheets and even a cute sheep finger puppet was a packet of cress seeds. And so our next craft was born!
11188297_10153308404639525_2569034946834769675_nYou need:
cress seed
Long egg box
Googly eyes
Pipe cleaner
Scissors
Cotton wool
Water

 

11182034_10153308404729525_4742802111304399126_nI cut a strip off an egg box and an extra bit for the head. We stuck some googly eyes and two bits of pipe cleaner to make the head.

We then stuck it onto the strip of egg box.

 

 

 

Annie Rose put some cotton wool into each dip 1908198_10153308400784525_2630160479725269075_n

11188305_10153308402889525_4601682132332385379_nthen used her pipette to drip water onto them until they were damp.

 

 

 

She then took a pinch of cress seed from my hand and

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sprinkled the seed over the cotton wool.

 

We placed our little caterpillar on the window ledge.

It will be interesting seeing the cress grow and Annie Rose reaction to it.

Then we can eat it in our sandwiches 🙂

Don’t worry ….

Don’t worry ….

My little toddler can often be heard saying “Don’t worry” and “not matter” just tonight she lay in my arms after a conversation about a bumped chin singing gently and sweetly “don’t worry, don’t worry, don’t worry …”
We obviously often allay her fears and worries by telling her it doesn’t matter and Don’t worry, it’s ok. But it struck me as she lay there relaxed and peaceful how often we miss out because we don’t listen to that small voice telling us not to worry. If as a parent we can allay our child’s fears with those simple words, how much more peace could we receive if we let those words our almighty father and Lord also say to us. On the day I was baptised I was given this verse :

“…I will never fail  you, I will never abandon you. So we can say with confidence, The Lord is my helper so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me.” Hebrews 13 v5-6

God is a more loving parent than we can ever be. He will always be there to whisper Don’t worry, we just have to believe him and trust him. Then his peace is ours to share.