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Tuesday, 30 August 2011

The Romans 1:25 principle

'...because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.'


Let's say there's a wife out there, and what she desires is a loving, understanding husband. All of us would say that's a desire for a good thing. We don't see anything that's wrong with this, because it's a good thing.

The Romans 1:25 principle helps us understand how that good thing becomes a bad thing. Here it is. Desire for a good thing becomes a bad thing, when that desire becomes a ruling thing. When that desire takes control of me and now sets the agenda, now I can only respond to you in one of two ways. If you're helping me get it, I love you. I thank God that you are in my life. I think good thoughts about you. But if you are in the way of it, I'm angry at you. I have spontaneous irritation. I think bad thoughts about you.


Now, the problem is what I would call the 'changing of desire'.


Desire in and of itself is not a bad thing. God has given us the capacity to desire, but those desires must be held with an open hand. That's like Christ saying, "Father, if it's possible, let this cup pass from me." That's not a bad prayer – “But not my will, but yours, be done.” It's always a submission to a greater agenda. You are not wrong for having an agenda – but you should always hold your agenda in a submission to a God's greater agenda.

Now, here's what happens. Desire quickly morphs into demand. Now you've closed your fist around the desire, and if someone is going to take it from you, they're going to have to fight with you for it. Demand is "I must."


You see desire has begun to claim territory in your heart and you are not holding it in an open-handed way any more.


Now it goes further – demand quickly gets viewed as need. You know that the vast majority of things we call needs, just aren't really needs. You can see how quickly desire becomes need if you have children.


I would love to have William come up to me and say, "Mummy, I think it would be nice to have ketchup with my dinner." He will always say, "I need ketchup, please."

I look at his plate, full of delicious (sometimes!) home cooked food, and I know he's not going to be malnourished. The food is completely edible without ketchup, but he has convinced himself that his desire is essential.


Now, that's all happening inside me. I don't realize it's happening, but I am growingly being controlled by a desire for something. My 'needs' set up expectation, which in turn leads to disappointment. You'll understand this if you've ever looked at a holiday brochure before going to a resort. You shouldn't. Just go on the holiday, you'll have a much better time when you haven't got expectations.


This all becomes particularly dangerous in a marriage. We have expectations from our spouses, and when we feel that they are trampling on or stealing our desires, we strike back. We all knew they were a sinner when we married them, we can handle that; what we can't manage is having the things that control our heart snatched away from us.


But let's take a step back.

Let's say you have a desire that your husband would lead your family spiritually. We'd look at that, and we'd say, "That's a legitimate desire and, in fact, it's a biblical expectation." So if I have that desire, and I need to be open-handed and kind of leave that before the Lord, does that mean I just desire it, but I remain passive?

If this is a good thing, first of all, what are the ways that I can be too focused and too controlled by this good thing? In other words, I just become a condemning wife because I listen for spiritual leadership all the time, and it's like life is a final exam of spiritual leadership. You want to drive a man underground? That will do it. You're actually pushing him in a very different direction. He becomes defensive, he becomes angry, he feels like nothing he can do is right.


So what are the ways, what are the places in my life, where I tend to be over-controlled by this

desire for a good thing? Maybe a wife would say, "Hey, I just realized I've been way too critical in our personal family worship times. It's great that this guy even wants to have these. And, no, he doesn't always lead us like an eloquent teacher, but he's doing it.”


So I'm looking, first, not at him but at me. Where are the places where I allow myself to be way too controlled; therefore, way too demanding; therefore, way too critical in this good thing and actually push us in a very different direction?


You want to retain the expectation or the desire, because the desire is a good thing. You want to make sure that you're not too controlled by that desire, but there's another thing.


You need to ask yourself the question – how can I be part of the production of this good thing in the life of this man that I love? Rather than where are the places where I can just point out that he's not measuring up? Where are the places that I can encourage and stimulate this good thing that needs to be in his life?


It's fine to have Godly desires, but don't worship the desire.

Read to me

''You may have tangible wealth untold: Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. Richer than I you can never be - I had a mother who read to me.''

- Gillian Strickland

Do you take those precious moments to read aloud to your children? Did you know that establishing this simple habit can greatly impact the future success of your children?


I recently discovered 'The Read Aloud Handbook' by Jim Trelease and I've found it quite inspirational. His emphasis throughout the book is proving the point that reading aloud to your children throughout their childhood and teenage years can make a greater impact on their education that almost anything else you do.


Story after story is told, detailing these successful students and they trace back their success to the consistency of their parents (both father and mother) in reading a lot to them as children, even well after they had become competent readers themselves.


Why Read Aloud?


The commission on reading performed a study, in 1985, title 'Becoming a Nation of Readers' that showed that:

  1. “The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to your children.”
  2. “It is a practice that should continue throughout the grades.”
The experts discovered that reading aloud was more important than work sheets, homework, exams, book reports and flash cards. One of the cheapest, simplest and oldest tools of teaching was being promoted as a better teaching tool than anything else in the home or classroom!

The more you read, the more you know; and the more you know, the smarter you grow.

Jim states “A nation that doesn’t know much is more likely to make poor choices in the home, the marketplace, the jury box, and the voting booth. And those decisions ultimately affect the entire nation – the literate and the illiterate.” So reading is an important social factor, not just for our children, but for the wider community.

Reading also builds relationships and increases vocabulary.

“Whenever an adult reads to a child, three important things are happening simultaneously and painlessly:

1) a pleasure connection is being made between child and book,

2) both parent and child are learning something from the book they’re sharing together (double learning), and

3) they adult pouring sounds and syllables called words in the child’s ear.”


So here are my highlights of the book for you:


Encourage daddies to read to their kids

A study conducted in Modesto, California, showed that boys who were read to by their fathers scored significantly higher in reading achievement, and when fathers read recreationally, their sons read more and scored higher than did boys whose fathers did little or no recreational reading. Fathers have a great influence on their children and what an opportunity to invest in their lives.

Lead by example - become a reader!

Our children are like sponges, soaking up the values of their parents while they sit in living rooms, kitchens, and cars. The more the parents read, the more your children will read. The more we talk about what we read, the more our children will be intrigued as well. Place books, magazines, and newspapers, all over your home. Saturate your home with books. Find snippets of time to read personally while you wait, in the bathroom, before bed, and watch your children’s interest grow. When reading is our hobby, it may very well become their hobby.


Fill your home with a wide range of suitable reading materials

Surrounding our children with a wide variety of reading materials – books, newspapers, magazines and the like, statistically leads to a higher success rate in school and the greatest interest in books in general. Jim Trelease goes so far as to state that series of fiction are significantly beneficial if not for the content but for the love of reading they inspire. It doesn't need to be expensive either. Try and fit regularly trips to the library into your schedule where new material can be borrowed for free.

Don't be afraid to make it a rule

The author presents the challenge, “we require our children to pick up their rooms and get dressed, why should we not require them to read?” We think that requiring them to do something will discourage their desires, but statistically it is just not true. The more you read, the better you get at it; the better you get at it, the more you like it; and the more you like it, the more you do it.


There is no doubt that reading aloud to your children is a very bonding experience. It is cheap and simple. It only requires time investment – but it is the best investment!

Free Movies!

Did you know that as a home educator this autumn you and your children can go and see some free movies? Not only that, they are giving away free educational resources to go with the movies.
You need to check in with your local cinema about what's available, but if you live in Bedford you can see Rio, Cars 2, Rango, Winnie the Pooh or Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief.

So... who wants to come with us?

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Getting super powers

Hooray! You'll be glad to know we have the internet back. Did you miss me?


A friend of mine, who is a single father, recently asked me for some practical tips about getting organised. During a discussion with my sister he brought up a movie, (the name of which I can't remember) where a guy gets super powers, and realises that it's in part just from being more organised than his peers. Streamlining his life means that he has more time to get stuff done.

This resonated so true with me. When my son was first born I used to think 'how do people even have time to shower with children?' now I have two and people are asking 'how do you have time to sew/cook/blog/study etc...

So I think I'm going to run a few posts on organising your life. I hope they'll be helpful to some people. We've just moved house, so some of my systems aren't in place here yet, which is kind of great, because I can blog them as I work them and I won't forget anything!

I'm no FLYlady (you should try it sometime - she is awesome but too intense for me to keep up with!) but I do have some systems in place that I find really helpful, and looking back, I definitely have more time for other stuff since I started using them.

The first thing I use is what I call a 'box system'. It sounds basic, it is.



Haul everything you have out of storage. Throw out or donate what you don't need. Amazing, I bet that's half of everything you own you clutterbug! Oh, just me then...

Next, group stuff, where possible for when it will next get used, or any other way that seems obvious to you (original CDs that you have loaded on your mp3 player might go with photo albums, or not, up to you).

Now box it up, but as you do, write down in a notebook every item in that box and a big number on the box. This is very important. Make sure you can see it on the top and sides.

I like to put all my Christmas decorations in box 25. If I have too many I make a box 25a. You don't have to do this.

Next, create a database on your computer. If you don't know how to do this, google it. There's loads of softwares, but I use Microsoft access, because its what we have.

You data base should include your entire inventory of what is in each box, the number of the box and the location of the box.

Next time you need a scart lead you type in 'scart' and your computer says 'box 3 under the stairs'; or you child needs the next size of shoe, you type 'size 4' and it says 'box 8, attic, trainers, galoshes and sandals x2'.

This should take you at least a week to do thoroughly, so I'll give it that long before my next installment

Have fun - happy organising, you are part way to being supermum!


- Kj
Xxx

Monday, 22 August 2011

Guess who lives in Bedford...?

Still no internet I'm afraid, but couldn't resist sharing with you all who we saw this morning...



It's Lightning McQueen and Mater!

Some guy in Bedford Modified his cars to look like the real thing. The attention to detail is awesome.




Will was a little bit nervous and wanted to look at them from the car. Not sure if he thought they might try and really talk to him(?) but now I know disneyworld would not be a great trip...

Still, he was really excited to see them from the car.

Lightning even has a cute little tongue!




And Mater's teeth are hilarious.




I can't believe they live just down the road! We'd seen Mater driving around town before, but now we know where he lives, and that Lightning lives with him, we might have to walk past that street a bit more often.

Kj
Xxx

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Why God Won't Go Away

I've been so excited waiting for my latest book to arrive, so I got it and read it in 48 hours!

It's called 'Why God Won't Go Away' by Alister McGrath and it really is quite brilliant.





First off, let me just say that if you are looking for a book on apologetics, this is not it. This book is critique of new atheism, and critique it does! The religious fanaticism of the neo-atheist movement is exposed and shredded easily and in a very readable manner.

There were points where I was concerned that McGrath may resort to personal attacks on authors such as Dawkin's and Hitchen's, but whilst anecdotal evidence of them is used to discredit their statements of belief, he never goes so far as to ridicule or humiliate - something that ample evidence of the new-atheist community engaging in is provided. I was glad to see that he didn't stoop to their level, even though it was clear that he could have.

The arguments of the fanatical atheists that all science and reason belong exclusively to their camp are clearly and concisely opposed and McGrath does this in a manner that means you don't need a PhD in philosophy to follow it.

This isn't necessarily a Christian book, although written by a christian, it doesn't try to persuade or inform of Christian doctrine. It is purely a criticism of fanatical atheism, and McGrath speaks highly of many atheist scholars, even including their quotes in the defence against the fanatics. In that sense the book could easily be enjoyed by a person of agnosticism, atheism or any other faith - except neo-atheism!

The tired old arguments against religion that have been repeated since the 18th century enlightenment are shown for exactly what they are, despite the 'brights' trying to claim they are something new. This is definitely a book I will be keeping for children to read when they are older as there is 'nothing new under the sun' and I'm sure that they'll be confronted with the same evangelical atheism in the future.

I give this book 5 stars and totally recommend you get your hands on a copy.

- Kj
Xxx

Friday, 19 August 2011

Making Caffeine Work For You

First off, we still have no Internet, so excuse the lack of tags/formatting on this post.






I've been reading some interesting articles on life hacker recently, and I thought I'd like to write a little post for busy mums on how you should use caffeine to work to your advantage.

Use caffeine? Am I sounding like a drug addict? Probably, but I'd reason that most people are tolerant to caffeine (a nicer word than addicted, but with the same implications).

People who have general anaesthesia often wake up with a thumping headache. Until recently doctors blamed the anaesthesia, until it was found that a post-operative cup of strong coffee had an amazing effect. They now believe that 12 hours with no caffeine (and then the surgery) is causing peoples bodies to go into withdrawal.






Don't think you have much? How often throughout the day do you sip a cup of tea or coffee, or a soda, or even nibble on a chocolate biscuit? All of these things are giving you small hits of caffeine, just enough for your body to maintain it's tolerance.

An alcoholic that only drinks enough to maintain their addiction (eg isn't drunk all day) is still an alcoholic and is still damaging their body. If they need to drink a few units everyday to maintain normal functioning without withdrawal, they are still alcohol dependent, whether or not they drink enough to get drunk. The good news is that in the same way that you don't have to be tee total to not be alcohol dependent, you don't have to give up caffeine completely to not be caffeine dependent.

The way caffeine works is not actually to give you more energy.
Stephen R. Braun, author of the excellent book Buzz: The Science and Lore of Alcohol and Caffeine, described caffeine's effects as "taking the chaperones out of a high school dance."
It's a similar shape as adenosine - a chemical that your body uses to tell you it's tired. Caffeine blocks up your adenosine receptors and prevents your body from getting those 'tired' signals. This is why it's a great tool before exercise/training (but it does dehydrate you, so remember to drink plenty of water).

As with most drugs, your body builds up a tolerance to caffeine (even just that one latte in the morning) scientists say it takes about 10-12 days. Most helpfully though, you lose that tolerance in roughly the same amount of time.

So, if you switched to decaf for two weeks, when you next have that manic weekend where you really need to get stuff done, that one coffee will really do the trick.

This goes a long way to explain why as a student I would happily drink several red bull's on a shift at work feeling no effect, but nowadays half a can keeps me awake for days.






Speaking of staying awake, those with small babes who only nap for short amounts of time, a study at Loughborough university shows that a cup of coffee (or other caffeine hit) quickly followed by a fifteen minute nap, may be all that you need to feel fully refreshed for the rest of the day (please ignore this advice if you are breast feeding!).

The final piece of advice is that when looking for a caffeine free replacement for your tea or coffee, go for a good brand. You'll feel better about drinking it if it tastes great, but more importantly the label 'decaf' doesn't necessarily mean caffeine free. Look for a "Swiss water" blend that's 99.9 percent free of caffeine.






'It might seem a bit severe, but read up on proper decaf making, and realize that other coffee compounds, like GABA, are also impacting your alertness and energy levels, and you'll see the importance of keeping unplanned caffeine away from your fine-tuned system. Spend the time shopping around for good decaf roasts that you'd spend on standard beans. The Swiss Water logo is a good starting point, but not the only conveyor of serious decaffeinated intent.'

For the full article on how to strategically plan your caffeine intake, check out Life hacker.

- Kj
Xxx

Friday, 5 August 2011

On holiday!

Sorry its been a bit quiet at the moment. We're all on holiday!



You can keep up with what we're up to at:

Www.offexploring.com/graciefamily


- Kj
Xxx

Monday, 1 August 2011

God's Love Letters

This month I've been reading through 'God's love letters to you' by Dr Larry Crabb.


I'd heard some excellent things about this book, or so I thought, but don't be fooled - this is not the full book, but only extracts of it remixes into a 40 day devotional.

I have to say, it was quite disappointing. I'm sure it's a fine book; if it hadn't been hyped up so much I probably would have liked it. Unfortunately it does come across a little brief and really more of a teaser for the full length version than a book in it's own right.

Good gift, maybe for someone who actually doesn't like reading but wants some help structuring their quiet time.

I'd give this book 4/10.

- Kj
Xxx

 
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