I go to a great Bible study group where we use the KYB (Know Your Bible) studies. It is one of the coolest things that I do.
The studies have been sparking thoughts in my mind about what being a Christian is. I grew up as a Christian and part of me hates the word (sorry, but it's true). Admitting to being a Christian is such a loaded thing. So much culture of so many different types is associated with Christianity and so many people have such strong associations with Christianity and the Christian church. Obviously, not all of these associations are good. And many people seem to have really strong, emotive and conflicting feelings about Christians. Me too.
But what KYB lately has been reminding me is that the important thing is following the man of Jesus.
I feel relieved with that thought. If other people find it easiest to throw a label on me, then I guess that the best fit is "Christian". But in my heart I just want to follow Jesus. The way that he viewed the world was and is revolutionary. And the people who I see puting his teaching into practice are the people who I genuinely admire.
Jesus told his followers to
Love their enemies
Be generous and not to tell anyone about it
Care for others before themselves
Talk to God
Look past cultural boundaries
Take care of the disadvantaged
There's a lot which I have missed in this list but it's not a bad start is it? Just imagine if we all lived like that!
So anyway, I've been inspired lately to get back to the roots of what I believe and look more closely at the teachings of Jesus. When he left the earth (crazy, hey, going up in a cloud after rising from the dead... don't be fooled by people who tell you that Christians are conservative and unimaginative) he said that he would send someone to guide his followers and give them good counsel, the Holy Spirit. And he said that by believing in him (Jesus) they would have access not only to freedom from their own failures, but also to the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit would be evident to others by the way they would live their lives... the fruit of the Spirit. So I thought that it would be great to have one of those designer lists made up... one that lists the fruit of the Spirit.. something to encourage our family to be striving to live lives that shine. I'm planning on getting this one printed onto canvas so I've made it to fit on a 40x55cm canvas. You are welcome to click here to download a PDF image. It's a big file but that's so that if you want to print it for a 30x45cm you shouldn't lose any text in the edges. If you plan on printing more than one or two for yourself then drop me an email to confirm permission, especially if you intend to sell them. Thanks.
There's something good for the soul about driving out of town to spend a day on a farm. How cool to be invited to show the kids a cotton harvest in full swing.
After some laying down of the law (safetly first!) we got on in and started helping out. Okay, I'm kidding... we gazed at the fields in awe; we gazed at big machines in awe;
we gazed at some more big machines in awe;
the kids picked cotton to try to help a broken-down picker (hmmm, well their heart were good);
they embraced the hard work of helping push all the cotton out of the picker bucket into the module builder (read softest jumping castle with the best outlook ever);
jumped in the aforementioned piles of soft and fabulous cotton (my photos just don't do the fun of this activity justice... but if anyone ever invites you to jump in cotton you should definately jump at the chance); and generally lapped up the perfect weather and magic twighlight light.
Thanks guys! This is the stuff that famliy memories are made of... Sammy's still carting around his little bag of cotton...
The simple truth is that lovely fabric begets lovely things. (I'm pretty sure that "begets" is the wrong word there but I'm choosing to leave it... it sounds poetic and deep. I like it. Sorry.)
This is one of those projects which I discussed with a friend, looked at some great patterns for, then decided to freestyle with my own concocted pattern.
It's just a simple nappy wallet for a friend who's expecting twins. I hope that it makes her smile when she manoeuvres her big old double pram into a change room somewhere and deals with one or more of the never ending stream of dirty nappies. My twins specialised in synchronised pooing. Not sure if others do too...
May we all find beautiful fabric to brighten our hearts as we do our most disliked jobs.
In all its glory. Here is the second sticker chart (up cycled from the back of the first sticker chart... I'm classy).
Current behaviour being targeted includes landing wee and poo in the toilet; staying in bed in the morning until papa fetches them; doing chores with a good attitude; and anything where a mum or a dad need just a little bit of leverage to encourage good decisions.
As yet, there are no rewards for getting any number of stickers on the chart and apparently the kids haven't realised that that is what other families do. And you may notice that the paths of the stickers aren't too closely aligned. I am really trying to enforce the idea that this is not a competition or a race, but a chance for us to give the children who we love so much a few small things to encourage them to be the best that they can be quite separate to whatever anybody else is or isn't doing.
A few weeks ago Sam had a friend over for a play. We pulled out all the big guns... chalk drawing; playing on the swingset; helping me clean out the car; and the big one... marbles. With cooking utensils, no less.
For me it was a chance to realise how different life is now that two of our three are over five. The little ones move at such a different pace. They take joy in such small things. And have so many questions.
Watching them learn is magic. And it is exhausting. Things need ot be learnt and tested... and thrown. And touched and pulled and pushed. Then filed behind the couch for good measure.
I'm still finding marbles posted carefully round the living room. But I'm pretty sure that all the kitchen utensils were rescued and washed. At least I think they were...
Stickers hold a funny power over kids. For a while there my kids had been asking me to make them a sticker chart. But I had some mental block that made me push it away... Until a few behaviour patterns reached a point where some kind of new approach was desperately needed. Most of it boiled down to the fact that the girls were exhausted by the end of a school day and couldn't be bothered being nice to the people around them (us and each other).
So this monstrosity was born. Pretty simple and practical. I bought a big sheet of card and a packet of stickers. As you can see, the drawings are very precise and exact... and the kids care... They are getting plenty of counting practice as they continually tally their stickers and compare (something which I am absolutely working against). And the lure of each of these tiny little artworks is magic. They sure aren't perfect (neither am I...) but it is amazing that they can find the energy to be nice with such an insignificant carrot to dangle.
Naturally, the chart is only a means to an end (in my mind, at least). I am hoping and even beginning to observe that the standard of normal behaviour is changing. New precidences are being set all the time and the old grumpy standard is slowly being forgotten. Of course, new challenges will arise with new seasons... But then there's always the back of the piece of card for a new and more exciting chart when these behaviours seem like innocent hiccups in our routine.
With new growth comes new training. And I've got a lot of learning to do just to keep up!