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  1. Advent ReadingMy advent book finally arrived at the weekend [very rarely do I pay extra for express delivery, but whenever I do I'm always left feeling like it was a total waste of money!] and I cannot help but feel I have rather missed the boat this year. So caught up in looking to and preparing for baby bear's first birthday, I have missed the run up and looking towards Christ's birthday! And this does make me sad. I know there is still time and to be honest this fabulous book by John Piper is in such delicious bite size pieces, I could quite happily read two a day and almost be caught up for Christmas day! I will be pleased when hubby finishes for Christmas, we can breathe out a sigh of relief and start thinking about Christmas as more than just some frantic shopping, but as a time with family celebrating the birth of our saviour.

    Isaiah 9:6
    "For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
    And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

  2. ThankfulBearOver the weekend we celebrated baby bear's first birthday. I can hardly believe a year has passed already, although at the same time it feels like she has always been a part of our lives. The last few days have been full of #thistimelastyear moments, the actual moment she was born, coming home from the hospital etc. As with any anniversary, as well as remembering it has made me think about the future. I have been trying to think about ways I can improve in the future. How can I be a better Mum? Pray for baby bear more and make sure she's growing up knowing The Lord. Am I appreciating and thankful enough for her and the blessing, the precious gift, she is in my life? Which got me onto thinking about other gifts I have and if I am appreciating and really utilising them? What am I doing to try and stretch and grow this gift of the prophetic God has entrusted to me? How can I develop it, how can I bless others with it and how do I step up into the things he has spoken over me that I'm not yet walking in? So far I have a lot of questions flying about my head and not many answers! But at least I've started to think about it and challenge myself! That's a start...

    As a child until my mid twenties ironically I prayed and prayed asking The Lord to make me prophetic, having really taken on board 1Corinthians14:1 "Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy." [ESV] - I say ironically, because for years I was prophetic and did not realise. I dreamt about the future and when it happened in reality thought "cool, I dreamt that years ago"! I saw pictures and visions, but just assumed everyone did and that these were things for me, not realising that they were intended to be shared!

    Over the last decade as things have been explained to me and I have started to understand - actually you are prophetic, this is your gift and this is how you can use it... it's been really exciting. I've been privileged to be taught, encouraged and discipled by some fantastic prophets. But what is next? Where do I go from here? I strongly feel I am meant to start doing the discipling and teaching part from the other side now, but when, with whom and how I'm not sure. I want so much to be doing all this regularly once more, nothing gives me life more than doing prophetic ministry - not even baking (& eating) cake! To know you have shared something of God's heart for a person with them - is such a privilege and a joy.

    I need to work out how to balance my two biggest roles, of "Mummy" & "Wife" with the role of "Prophet". I want to achieve the super woman that is Proverbs 31... But one step at a time!

  3. Pslam 140ESV Journalling Bible

    So following my last post a few people have been asking which journaling Bible I use and which pens I like etc etc… so if you read my last post and are interested in which journalling Bible I have etc here is some more information...

     My Bible - personally I bought the single column ESV journaling Bible which is hardback with a red cover and has a handy elastic strap to keep it closed (it looks a bit like a fat Moleskin journal). (I bought it online in the uk from <a target="_blank">Eden.co.uk</a>) ISBN 9781433536045

    I chose it as I love the English Standard Version translation, but also because of the fact it was hard back, yet opens completely flat. I also LOVE the fact it's a single column Bible - that makes it so much easier to read in my opinion. Also I read <a href="http://www.bibledesignblog.com/2013/05/crossways-esv-single-column-journaling-bible.html" target="_blank">this review</a> and that sold it to me enough to order one without seeing one "in the flesh" first!

    You can get some really fun looking NIV ones, and at the moment seem to have a lot of them on sale...

    Cryola TwistablesPilot Frixion Pens

    For highlighting - Crayola twistables, sounds crazy using crayons in your Bible, but it works. You can highlight text without bleeding through to the next page and still read the text you've highlighted through the line.

    For note taking - I use Pilot Frixion pens, they come in a range of colours and the best thing is they are erasable!! So if you make a mistake you can sort it out. In the UK you can get a fair range of colours, but I found a huge pack with massive range of colours in Japan! Brilliant.

    Stamps

    Stamps - I wanted some big letters, the best I found were by Amy Tangerine at American crafts. I have upper and lower case. It wasn't the cheapest option, but I'm thrilled with them. Personally I love Versasmall ink pads as they don't take up much room and come in a fantastic variety of colours. 

    Blogs, Instagram etc for inspiration - so many! Check out my Pinterest board which is full of ideas and links ... Then these are probably my top three peeps on instagram!

    @shannanoel fabulous blog.. http://shannanoel.blogspot.co.uk

    @Marine_parents not sure if these guys have a blog, but their instagram feed is great!

    @valeriewieners - see her amazing artwork on her website... http://valeriewienersart.com

  4. Bible study in the car

    It has been an interesting learning curve finding time to invest in my spiritual life now that life is all about being "Mummy". Oh how many times have I wanted I time travel back to when I was a student and shake myself silly saying "appreciate how much time you have right now!!" (How much sleep you have!!) "Read things, do things, travel! Do it all!!" I will be honest, I have really struggled, as an introvert, having little to no "me time" since baby bear arrived. (I love her so much, she is a complete blessing in my life and I cannot imagine life without her, but sometimes I just need some time out and I'm counting down to bed time! That being said, whenever I watch her sleep my heart just explodes and I want to wake her up and give her huge cuddles!) So when I do get some time to myself, my first thought I must admit has not always been "where's my Bible?" (and not because I was so holy I knew exactly where it was)! But having "survived" the first six months or so I realised I really needed to carve out some time for God & I to spend together. I went to older, wiser, more experienced women I know who have older children and asked for advise on how they managed. They came back with some useful suggestions, but as great as they were, non of them really worked for me. I have UCB radio on almost constantly if I'm in the house, baby bear and I sing along to worship music as we have our breakfast... But for me, that isn't enough. It's amazing and inspiring listening to the talks and it's certainly a real source of life in a busy day - but personally I need more. Just like - personally - lying on my bed listening to a podcast during nap time didn't work. Either I was so shattered I struggled to stay awake, or I found myself thinking about all the things that needed doing, like the washing, clean the bathroom etc etc.

    Then more recently I spoke to a long term mentor and friend about it, she made similar suggestions and I felt a bit disheartened to be honest - it made me think that these things worked for everyone but me! However she then said something that really helped, she said that when she had her first, she struggled with taking time out for God when they were all the other jobs to get done, but she decided to dedicate an hour each morning in morning nap time to God - listening to worship, reading her Bible, whatever. Apparently once she did, without worrying about how she would get everything else done, she was amazed at how it all started to come together. If she dedicated that hour to her relationship with God she always found everything else did get done and the day was much more productive. That was very releasing and inspiring! Once I had heard that I prayed about it and said to God I would do the same, morning nap time belonged to him, please could he help me to get all my jobs done through out the day! (Risky some might think, as morning nap time is pretty guaranteed, afternoon nap time is very rocky, both in terms of its length and will it actually happen!)

    I thought about what had worked for "quiet time" previously and for me personally sewing whilst listening to a podcast has always been very edifying. I have the attention span of a goldfish most of the time, so listening to a podcast alone (no matter how good) is not enough to keep me focused. But if I sew, the sewing takes up enough attention to keep me focused, but I am on autopilot at my machine enough to fully listen to the talk. For me, it's the perfect balance. So I started to do this and was amazed at the difference it made, I felt I had done something for me in the sewing which boosted me and I had also ha my time with God which was an even bigger boost. Plus, I did become more productive through out the day and all my jobs still got done, probably more so than before! It sounds crazy but I really does work for me.

    Then at the start of September this year I somehow stumbled across an Instagram account of someone with a journalling Bible. I had never seen one of these before, a Bible with columns to take notes in either side of the text. This lady had used all kinds of scrapbook supplies to create beautiful quotes etc it was fantastic. I then saw the hashtag #journalingBible and clicked on that to see many other fabulous creations. (Then #illustratedFaith and that was that!!) I googled and found some fantastic blogs on the subject. That was it - after checking my local Christian book shop and drawing a blank, I went online and ordered myself one and even paid extra for express delivery! Part of my reasoning was I have always wanted to highlight in my Bible, but always been too scared to in case I mess up. When Bible apps became available I was really pleased as I could freely highlight and note take without fear :) however about a month before I discovered journaling Bibles my phone had needed a factory reset - and with that reset I lost all my Bible highlights and notes! All gone. With that heartbreak I decided to go back to paper, so discovering journaling Bibles so soon after seemed like a real God moment. I have to say, for me, my journaling Bible has totally changed reading scripture. The freedom to highlight, note take and create "art" - really helps me not get distracted and drift off but focus on what I'm reading/studying. Since getting it in mid September I have already read through almost the entire new testament. I'm a slow reader, and quite often hate reading - so to read that much, especially now I have a baby, is a breakthrough!

    I have also learned that you need to seize every opportunity you are given. If Baby bear and I are out at nap time, she will still fall asleep but I am left with her in her pram or car seat debating what to do. If I pick her up, that is the end of the nap and she won't resettle, even if she only fell asleep ten minutes ago! This can lead to grumpy bear and exhausted Mummy! So I tend to let her sleep now. If she is in the pram I will bring her into the utility room, still in her pram, unbutton her coat and then potter in the kitchen (which opens into the utility room so I can see and hear her). If we are in the car I stay in the car (through the cooler months only, not when it's hot)! Through this I have learned to pack my journaling Bible when we go out. That way, when she falls asleep on the way home... I can pull up on the drive and turn he engine off, pick up my Bible and have quiet time! It's all about working with what you have been given.

    For example, right now, I'm sat in the car on the driveway, baby bear asleep in the back, rain pouring down on us. It's quite relaxing, like being in a tent listening to the rain!

    [P.S. She slept for TWO HOURS and twenty minutes! This is unheard of! But it gave me an hour reading, then time to write this post - after I felt God asked me to share how I have managed QT with a babe. I have stressed throughout that things have worked, or not worked, for me personally - because I feel that is key. What works for one, won't always work for another. It's about thinking outside the box!]

  5. Maurice in StarbucksBaby bear and I have developed a mutually agreeable arrangement for midday fun known as "The Starbucks agreement". She lets me enjoy a break in Starbucks, so long as I choose a window seat and order her fruit toast. With these two requirements met she can happily entertain herself people watching out of the window lent over the back of my armchair whilst munching her fruit toast; whilst I can catch my breath and enjoy a hot chocolate and some spiced pumpkin loaf. We are not quite at the stage where I can read my Bible, as I need to ensure she doesn't nose dive off the back or smash Maurice the monkey into the window so hard it disturbs others (other than poor Maurice who is quite used to having his face smooshed!) but she enjoys the time and finds it fun, I enjoy the time and find it relaxing. I even feel like I have regained a bit of 'normal life' - if that exists! Win win!

  6. Arabella's selection

    This week I had the pleasure of handing over a quilt I started over a year ago at the start of February 2013. I had not long been back from the Far East trip with my hubby, but he was away again in Germany and I was sat at my sewing machine working on a large Dragonfly quilt for a double bed. Whilst I sew I’m usually listening to a podcast, which is either Bethel Church’s Sermon of the week or Friday night comedy from BBC Radio 4. At that particular moment I was listening to a really great preach from Bill Johnson all about standing with one another as we petition God for things [Philippines 4:6 [ESV] "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."], he encouraged the congregation to tell people that they were standing with, that they were them in situations and to do things to demonstrate this. I immediately thought of some of our dearest friends who were trying to conceive at the time. Since the previous September I had had an alarm on my mobile phone set for 12noon every day – which was a reminder for me to pray for them and this situation. I felt really encouraged to stand firm with them in their situation and at that moment I felt God say “start the quilt for their baby, in faith that she will come”!

    Straight away I put aside the dragonflies and went to my stash of material to search for ‘neutral baby’ material. The collection started neutral because despite the fact I had heard “she” I wanted to be safe, so I picked little lambs on green background, blue grid, blue spots – if anything it was leaning more male… then all of a sudden I caved and went super girlie. For various reasons we all believed this baby, when it came, would be a girl. So I went with it, I felt spurred on to make a quilt for the little girl we all felt God had promised.

    I didn’t make it all and finish it back then in February 2012. I made the whole quilt top, then folded it up and put it to one side in order to finish the commissions already waiting – like the dragonfly quilt that was a 60th birthday present! But I didn’t stop praying for that baby, every day at midday at the very least. It was not quite two months later that I found out that we were expecting ourselves. Such exciting news, but only moments after reading “positive” on the test my heart was breaking again for my friend and her situation. It was another six months or so after that before this quilt’s recipient began to be formed!

    Closer view

    As soon as my little one started sleeping through and having good lengthy morning naps I took this quilt back out to make it into the finished quilt, I found some fabulous map material for the back which nicely complimented the front as well as the nursery – although I didn’t know that at the time! The most time consuming part to finish was of course the hand binding and now morning nap time is an hour tops – it was a good 8 sittings at least! So this quilt is filled with more love and prayers than any other I think!

    The beautiful baby arrived in May this year and yes, she is a girl! Despite the huge warning I had time wise, I still did not get the quilt finished before she arrived – but she seemed very happy with it when she finally received it this week!