Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Homeschooling - why and how?

Homeschooling Questions

Should I homeschool?
Every year I have wrestled with this question before commencing.
Its not because I don't enjoy to homeschool.. but as any parent can attest, carrying the weight and responsibility of raising kids - and especially their education - is no light matter. I don't believe we should dismiss the learning process with cliche answers such as "learning is life" and "learning happens as life happens". Absolutely discovery does. But learning is far more than discovery. It is the development of a child's giftings, character, strengths and awareness for the purpose of fulfilling their God given calling. Is it enjoyable? Yes! Is it handwork? Yes! Do yourself a favour and knock on the head any pretenses you held that homeschooling mothers possess an extra measure of grace, patience, or divine heavenly sweetness. Comparison is a bad place to start.. "The cause of much insecurity is the human inclination to compare ourselves with one another. Success lies in what we are becoming, not in what we are accumulating, or achieving." David Riddell
Do I enjoy it? Yes I do love it. Teaching is in my bones. I spent my childhood teaching my teddy bears on a rug and when my kids were toddlers, I loved taking them on field trips and creating learning opportunities. I love to research and to understand what makes people tick. I will mention David Riddell a few times in this blogpost, and Ill explain why soon.. but it is he who said something that hasn't left me: Success is first and foremost good mental health... "You may become powerful, wealthy or popular, but you can’t take any of it with you! Think carefully about your definition of success – you won’t be in this world much longer".
I enjoy to create memories and an environment for my kids that nurtures and enables them to grow and discover their strengths. I love to learn alongside them. Our days are full and often creative and we are ever discovering new ways to relate to each other and love Jesus. Homeschooling offers us the opportunity to have healthy relationships with each other, and the kids with their siblings. I often remind them: If you can get along well with each other, you will do much better at getting along with your peers and employees as an adult. The greatest strength, in my opinion, of homeschooling is being able to stop at any given obstacle, difficulty, thought or moment in a day and talk to Jesus. I personally believe the best learning environment, is the one where what He says, believes and thinks about you, matters most. Being able to provide an environment where I can constantly bring back our goals, character growth, difficulties and struggles, to the truth? YES IM WINNING.. because there is nothing more valuable, more healthy, more brain growing and real than Gods truth.

Okay moving on to resources for them:

We don't use a set curriculum and I don't use any resource that is ill fitting to our dynamics. By way of routine I try to move the kids co jointly through their subjects so there is a cohesiveness in the home. Thats what works for us.

We use math u see which is a book and DVD and progresses through levels. I am so impressed with this resource! It's thorough and manageable.
I also use the games (found online) for the NZ Numeracy Programme, at TKI, to reinforce mathematical skills for Amy.

I heard it said that a group of successful homeschooled students described that their two key learning successes were; being read to aloud and unit studies (projects). So if you can read books to your kids and you can take a current event, a topic of interest or a query and turn it into a project.... You're capable of being a homeschooler!
I read 20-30 minutes every day to the kids together while they draw and I constantly scour out good books to read together. We use the library a LOT.
I also have the kids choose one novel a week to read, and at least one non fiction- they often choose a dozen. I get all Amy's early readers plus story books from the library also and each day we read 2. One she reads to me, the other I read to her.. The next day she reads me the book I read to her the day previous. I also read a lot of picture books to her also. In addition we progress through a series called Phonic Readers which is a small set of 4 books. They are absolutely brilliant! Amy also does Jolly Phonics and the accompanying activity sheets. We will transition her to activity sheets working with blends as she gets more proficient (blends being sounds like Sh, ch, tr etc).

There are SO many great writing resources and Ive changed and swapped amongst many of them.
My favourites are:
Handwriting Without Tears (and despite 'experts' saying that computers are replacing handwriting, I disagree that its an unneeded skill.
Draw.Write.Now. I use this teaching the kids to learn to write and draw. Its a copying exercise and simple, but helps them develop awareness of letter formation, pencil grip, sentence structure etc.
The Writing Book by Sheena Cameron. I love this resource. Its so thorough and multi levelled and full of ideas, writing planning sheets and examples to follow. I use this a lot to compliment our project and personal studies. For instance, when we focussed on Autumn, I followed all the toolkit ideas to develop a unit around poetry.
I also have begun using Institute of Excellence in Writing which has been highly recommended. In retrospect I wish I had of commenced my homeschooling with this under my belt, as it is really thorough.
We also do diary writing (recount) a lot of time, speed writing and use Fix It Grammar and Excel books to work through writing skills.
In addition I also frequently have the kids memorise poems and practise impromptu speeches in front of one another.

We do a lot of spelling as a process of correction in writing and incorporate these words into their learning. In addition we use the online game, Spellodrome and the book series "Spelling Workout" found online at Book Depository.

We have a combination of resources:
At preschool level I use Suzys World and a book called Mugpies and Magnets, which is really fun. Its short lessons that incorporate an awareness of science around us.
Ive used Winter Promise in the past to do some neat science topics, but hands down my favourite is "Apologia". Its not cheap, however it comes with accompanying activity books and presently I am progressing all four of my school kids through Physics and Chemistry.

I love Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer. It comes with an activity book which includes maps, games, puzzles, projects etc.

I try to have the kids work through one project or topic of interest a week and generally I give Fridays to project day. Over the years, we have used current events to create some amazing learning projects. When Catherine and Prince William were getting married, we studied the Westminster Abbey, created our own 2D replica, explored the ringing of the bells and their significance. When Christchurch had its earthquakes, we collected newspaper articles and researched earthquakes, survival kits and stories of survival to create a scrapbook that is every bit a history record in our home. When the ship Rena was grounded, it launched a study into ecology, marine life and environment. After watching the movie Paper Planes, we studied paper plane designs, flight techniques and had our own paper plane competition. Hands down, projects are the most fun in our home. This week our theme is Pizza. A friend gave us a cheese making kit so we are going to make our own Mozzarella, study Italy and have a Pizza Party. And I cannot recommend enough, this resource for project ideas that will blow you away: Amanda Bennett.com

We enrol the kids into swimming lessons over the summer period, and the boys attend the Aspire Gym once a week. Amy attends ballet also. We enrolled the kids in music lessons last year, however this year we have reduced our schedule significantly and given that a break. I have had seasons of doing many activities, and seasons of none. My recommendation is try not to do more than one or two activities a term per child.. set a limit. Music is often a very pushed subject, and its important but remember; not everyone has to learn an instrument as a young child, and you are never to old to learn to play. Some of the most gifted musicians I know are self taught so think and look beyond the boxes.

Ive put this last but it isn't last in our home. We start the day praying and we often take seasons where we read through devotionals daily. I haven't done it a lot recently but I love starting our learning day reading one proverb and discussing its meaning, then copying into our Bible book.

Finally, the question I get asked most... what about ME time???

I think the greatest gift you can give your kids as a homeschooling mum, is looking after yourself.
Exercise daily and eat healthy!! I do 30 minutes a day through the app Sweat With Kayla. In the past Ive walked, attended the gym, ran, done bootcamp etc. Just move! Its good for you :)
Regularly pause and slow down. If you don't, don't be surprised when you get burnt out and run down. This message changed my life!
http://bethlehem.org.nz/sermons/sunday-nights-rhythms-sabbath/ along with the resources he recommends in the message.
Take time to play! Its easy to stop enjoying the kids when the balance gets lost. Don't lose the balance. Have good boundaries and take time regularly to create memories, go on mini breaks. Sometimes I just do simple things like sneak out for breakfast on my own, or take an hour to write, walk or create beauty.
Having a healthy self awareness is so vital to coping as a homeschooling mum. In a way, as a homeschooler you live in a glass bowl with many people (rightly so) viewing, observing, and noting your journey. You don't get an annual report, you get a weekly assessment by way of the older woman in the shopping supermarket, the other mums in the local playground and the people you bump into on your daily walks. Most of the time its really positive. And sometimes the greatest criticism is the way you interpret a look you got, or the things you tell yourself. How you cope with that, will very much depend on your ability to not take things too personally, know your beliefs and values, take control of your thoughts, identify and lower expectations, and live in the grace of God. One of the most life changing things I have done for myself, at the recommendation of our insightful Pastoral Care ministers in our Church, was to study "Truth Coaches" by David Riddell. I did the online course and I truly believe it is the first resource any homeschooling mum should get her hands on... well any parent full stop!

I hope that helps and Im always happy to answer any questions I get asked.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Opinion Bias

I pulled into the drive outside a white house ~ #7.
I sat with the kids in the car, weighing up the prompt I felt in God to go here... against the facts Id been told.
Id been told the right house was #57: Thats where the couple lived whose meal I was dropping off.

I had all the kids in the car while I sat engine running, mulling over the weight I felt to go knock on this door.. ignoring it, I drove on to the right house, #57.
I congratulated myself as I pulled into the 'right' driveway and took the meal in. The carpet cleaner met me at a now empty home;"Oh, you're looking for them... they are actually just at friends house down the road, why don't you drop the meal off there?". I hesitated for a second, wondering whether I should even bother them.. yet with his super warm smile he said "Theyre just at the lane a few doors down, at house #7.
The penny didn't drop right there.
I got back in the car, drove up to the road again and said "okay, #7, where is that?.... oh wait! I know where number #7 is". And back I went to the white house. You better believe that I sat outside that home for more than just a moment with a little awe.

I was watching Aircraft Investigations with my son yesterday, and one of the investigators was explaining how he felt when he arrives at a crash site.
He went on to describe how investigators purposefully don't turn on the news or radio prior to visiting a crash site. They don't allow outside opinions to creep in, before beginning their work: simply because it subconsciously affects the way they undertake their investigation. He explained how important it was to begin investigations with no subconscious bias so they can search thoroughly for accurate clues.

We all hold opinion bias and the reality is, it makes us blind to the potential of the bigger picture - especially what the Holy Spirit is saying. Thats the danger of gossip. We hear partial facts, and even if we don't necessarily feel that we've taken on board those ideas emotionally, it creates an "opinion bias" in our interaction with people. I know because Ive been there! When you hold that partiality, all behaviour subconsciously filters through what we've been told.. and we can often conclude "They must be right, because it makes sense!".

The Holy Spirit has no opinion bias. He is the prompt that says #7 not #57 against all your logical facts. He is the one that says "This person is mine" when you're about to write someone off. He is the one that says "Talk to them" when their countenance says not to bother. When we ignore that prompt, we miss the hidden blessing that God has in store for our lives. The tender conversation, the opportunity to minister and bless, the indescribable joy that comes when we know our lives are in tune with His. Its not that its easy or without inconvenience... it ALWAYS requires us to be brave and say "Im going to take a risk here!"

I was talking to a friend today about the times we hesitate to listen to that prompt...
"What if Im wrong?, What if they don't like me? What if they think less of me? What if Im just being a pain!?"
Have you ever had that? When you felt you should pray for someone, or give someone a gift, or tell someone you care about them, or let someone know you're thinking of them.... but ignore it because that person is complicated, or youve heard some things about them, or maybe you just think they really don't need to hear it from little old you... and what if you end up looking like a ridiculous idiot?

But what if you actually saw yourself the way God sees you?!!
What if you were brave enough to step up and speak the truth?
What if you dropped off that meal to that house that you keep feeling you should, but why would they need it?
What if you dropped a note into your friends letterbox that said "You're valued and heres why..?"
What if you stopped to talk to that person who you had written off?
What if you told your leader how much they bless you, even though you're sure they don't need to hear it from you?
What if you phoned that person that youve had on your heart all week?

If you and I are going to stop operating out of those places of Opinion Bias... we need to slow down enough to hear what God is saying. We need to lean into the EXTRAVAGANT opinion He has of us and hear what He is saying. We need to stop listening to the reasoning voice of fear and timidity and start listening to the voice of God which says "I AM AND IN MY NAME"
And who knows what door that could open?
What Opinion Bias do you hold right now that is stopping you!? What is stopping you stepping into that place of service in the Church that you feel God has laid on your heart? Maybe you love children but won't step up because you feel its insignificant, or maybe you want to reach out to someone elderly and drop around flowers, but are scared they might just think you're a pain? But what if there is one child in that Church whose life you can forever change, because you showed up? And what if that elderly person is going to speak words of wisdom and insight into your life that will empower you forever? How will you know if you don't dare to let go of only half the facts?

Next time the Holy Spirit prompts you to stop short of a destination or a conclusion about someone you were about to make.. lean in... God has something more for you!

Monday, 18 April 2016


I remember as a little girl, opening up the dressing table drawer in my mums room.
It was like the place of treasures; Make up, perfume bottles, notes.. for some reason I was always captivated with its contents.

And today as I sat with God, I saw a picture of an old french worn drawer handle, worn but graceful and I felt the little girl in me whisper “open it up, whats inside?”

And I somehow knowing what inside, was still surprised...

Theres a beautifully inscribed notebook with my name on it and all the details about me. Stories and love notes that God has captured, stories still being written, songs and sometimes just pages with tear drops that need no words, just whispers “Im here”

Theres a rose still wet with yesterdays rain - the one I saw yesterday and longed to pick. The one that reminded me that I too can be as tender as a petal and as sturdy as a bloom in a downpour.

There is an ornament of a mother holding her child, peaceful and radiant. My heart skips as I count through my kids .. and skips a beat when I think again of Poppy. Tears are never far when I think of her. He reminds me once more “Im holding you both”. I wish I could plant a kiss on her tender wee head and I wish my arms could wrap her up. I wish I could feel like I have it all so better sorted with the precious wee ones I can hold. Yet He knows and my heart knows ‘Grace upon grace’.

Theres stitches and glitter and confetti - stars and hearts and tiny diamonds. The delicate details of celebrations, memories, dreams, creations and things that speak to all the dreams He has placed in me. He reminds me - this is the season Fleur. You are living the season I have prepared you for, and I will prepare you for the season to come as you give yourself now to this. Stitch upon stitch. Moment by moment. Day by day.

And then there is a word on a chain:

I pause a moment. I love that word! Its my favourite word in fact.. yet why is it sitting here in my drawer? I am not lovely... surely He knows that, He only needs to flick through the pages of that precious journal and see how many times my life is not lovely.
I open the journal with Him.... where are those pages? Where are those stories? They are gone. Instead tears have blotted ink where my ugliness stood and page after page blends into a pattern that whispers to my heart “Lovely”.

I lift my eyes to meet His and He holds my gaze:
“I create Lovely in all things and you are Lovely to me”.

I open my eyes to the mounds of laundry and dishes in the sink and I realise what He is showing me.. its all lovely to Him.. and as I once again go to bring order, and life, once more to put a meal on the table, once more to wipe the bench while I hold all these longings and dreams and wonderings in my heart.. I hear Him speaking “Lovely”. I wipe a tear from the corner of my eye. His approval, his smile, is the loveliest part of my day.

Philippians 4:8 "And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise."

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Budget Follow Up

Ive had people ask me, not wanting to sound nosey, but also curious.. how am I making my budget work some months on?
I thought Id give some super honest feedback... so those of you who were wanting to ask the questions but didnt want to pry: Here goes!

So we set a weekly budget of $530.
At a breakdown.. that is
$300 food and nappies
$40-50 petrol
and then the rest is for things such as mine and kids clothing, homeschool supplies, Friday fun night, gifts for friends and parents, hair and make up supplies, kids haircuts, small house maintenance items, library (fees for holds, DVD's and fines-of which we always have some!), any subscriptions or downloaded files for personal study.

Ive found this figure pretty realistic to work with and its given me flexibility while also allowing me to plan well for those unavoidable expenses such as the fact that all my kids are nearly due new running shoes.

What didnt work?

Gym membership. At $25 a week it was a pricey sacrifice. I love exercise and the gym had a mountain of equipment, including a pool and spa. However, the class times were always a wrestle with juggling baby Joseph and at the best, I was making it twice a week. Thats $12.50 a time! More to the point, I missed the fresh air and quiet like crazy. The blasting music may do it for most people, but when I had time alone, I just wanted something peaceful. I picked up running again and my Pilates DVD and I am happy.. and am better off financially.

My favourite ever hairdresser left our local Hair Salon last year. So loyalty in this area wasn't hard to break. I now use Grab One and am quite happy to float the salons. You have to be a bit more vocal as to what you want, precisely, as one salon will differ from another in how they describe colour and cut.. but you aren't going to get a disaster when you're simply getting a natural recolour and a trim.. which is what I do.
Loyalty to brands and products is something to question too .I loved Janesce and used it also for years but its expensive. I googled and did some research and decided to try a much cheaper alternative made in France, and found at Strawberry Net called Bioderma. Its half the price and my skin loves it. Im still entirely loyal to Pure Fiji however.

Trying to cut the grocery budget.
I rarely do this, ever. Theres weeks Ive wanted to try and make do with less food, to use the money for something I want (not need), but it messes with our basic supply rotation and causes me a level of stress while I try and plan meals around missing ingredients (which lets face it, when you're a busy mum, thats totally draining right?!)

Things that absolutely work!

When Im off to do the shopping with the kids in tow, I pray. I ask the Lord to help us to be wise, to be creative, to honour dads hard work by being good with our finances. Im not perfect (you ask Sam), but I have a desire to get it right.

Knowing what refreshes you inexpensively.
I think as woman, when were tired, we tend to make expensive mistakes. Not hugely impacting, but budget breaking.
Ive learnt instead to know what things truly refresh me. Im blessed to have a mum who has done some extensive research on the the healing power of beauty, and my own journey has included, noting what is beautiful to my eye. Those are the things that I enjoy. When I reflect on seasons of life where I have felt my best, I see patterns of beauty emerging: self care, rest, creativity and order.
For me those things look like this:
* Flowers. I had Sam plant me roses and flowers that I can cut and pick and enjoy. I will also buy an inexpensive bunch of flowers from Countdown once a fortnight and mix them up with what I have at home and place little arrangements in places that I enjoy: Beside our bed, in the kitchen, by the front door.
* Books. I love recipe books and books that inspire me, on homemaking, cooking and sewing. I use the library extensively. Im a total library nerd in that, if a book I want, is available to loan, I basically float out of the library.
* Walking. When Im shattered, I throw on some make up and something that makes me feel a little bit pretty, and go for a walk. Taking a gentle stroll around the neighbourhood does wonders for me. I try each time to just find one thing thats beautiful - the colour of flowers, the sound of the wind, acorns and leaves fallen to the ground, or a little kids giggle as they play.
* Reading a blog. One of my favourites is Kaunispienielama (A Beautiful Life). Its all in Finnish and even when translated it doesnt make a whole heap of sense, but she captures the beauty of motherhood and life in ways that make you want to slow down, play, and get creative with your kids. Granted there will be times you will wonder if you are devoid of some secret dose of time and mental capacity to come up with ideas.. and you may have the urge to paint your entire house white and dress yourself and your kids in shades of pastel only.. but! If you can keep some reign on reality that these pics are simply SNIPPETS of her world, intended to minister beauty back into your reality: you're winning.
* Order. I need not explain. Having my home looking orderly makes me function a thousand times better and the only way that ever really works is for me to constantly clearing the clutter.
* Writing and Craft. I love to create and I love words.. sometimes the best thing is combining those two are doing something entirely for someone else. Even something small is so life giving!

Writing down everything you spend.
I did this for the first couple of months and it was really good for me. I used an app on my iPhone and overtime I spent a cent, I logged it in under the budget titles. It gave me a much better grasp on those hidden expenses and how things add up: parking, treats etc. It sure made me savvy! I carry around cash with me all the time now in coins, and I set a $1 limit on each kid for treats. After time I found I didnt need to do write it all down, as I had a much better grip on where things were going... that saying, the practise is a good one and I should probably do it again.

Keeping a pinterest page of needs/ wants and not buying at full price.
Case in point: I had my heart set on a beautiful shirt that was $109. I waited a few months and the other day it came on special for $29. I have a personal style page on pinterest but make sure that I only pin things in there where I actually own one or more of the items in the pic. Then I know ways I can realistically work with what I own. I also tend to look for accessories that make an outfit work, rather than new clothes, and when I do buy, I generally order from the UK (Next, M&S etc) as you pay a little more but those items last years down the line.

Pay the Kids.
I don't just buy the kids anything.. they know they can earn things on their wish lists by doing jobs around the home (in addition to their daily chores). It helps me get the house in order and they love earning some money too. Sam has then write down anything they've earned in a little book, and when it accumulates we take them shopping. They know the drill: If they see a toy, they work to earn it.. and Im not having to pay someone outside the home to do what my kids can do.

Putting wings on each others dreams.
I don't have any financial goals such as saving for any large amazing item (sorry), but I do have the goal of creating memories, investing in the lives of others and honouring my hubby. Sam is the visionary financially out of the two of us and quite frankly, I am in awe of him. What a job he does! Knowing that this was never my strong point, I came up with the idea of a budget that related to all things for me. That way, I can keep track of a much smaller picture and leave the bigger picture to him. That saying, he knows my dreams are travel, and I know his is investment. Respecting those things in each other makes the day to day finances run well. Perhaps thats more about communicating with each other, than it is about money per say, but its been our experience the two are very intertwined.

Get great advice.
One of the most enlightening comments someone made to us this year, was to ask us how we were investing in ourselves. It wasn't that we had never thought of it, its just that it always took second priority to everything else financially. Some decisions you will make, won't reflect excellent budgeting and great investing. You may not be mortgage free by 30, but you might be healthier and a better parent because of some choices you made to get the best counselling, go and do a course that totally spins your wheels, or swap the job that you don't like, for a less paying job you love. Get advice and get it from great sources. One of the best moves we made last year was to invite the input from our financial adviser, not just into how we run our money, but what our calling us. We've invited some amazing people around to dinner, and we've asked them questions and had them share their experience and our lives are richer for it.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

A faulty oven

I'm sitting here with a sparrow for a company and a coffee.
And my heart feels refreshed.
I was driving here thinking about the way it's hard for me sometimes to not operate in a deficit mode.
I know it's easy to justify that because I have 5 kids, homeschool, sleep training etc...
yet it's never really about what's on our plates is it?

I talked to God about it and He reminded me of something:
Last week the oven in the house we just sold wasn't working. The new owner rung me and explained he'd fiddled with it, had an electrician look at it, swapped the fuses and still it had blown the circuit and wasn't going. Under buyer warranty we would need to pay for a new oven. I reassured him we would absolutely honour our end and asked him if we could take a quick look at it before buying the replacement. I took my handy brother and he checked it still had power and then I saw it.. The oven switch had been turned to automatic. I switched it back to manual and bingo! We had a giggle and I showed him the manual and breathed a sigh of relief.

Funny little story yet you and I aren't too different. When we're not functioning well.., or maybe not at all... Its time to look at our mode of operation.
I smiled as I sensed God whispering to me "flick the switch Fleur"
What does that mean?
Well... His Word says "a single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else"
His perspective, His presence, His whisper is peace and joy regardless of circumstances.

So I'm encouraging my heart today: look for Him! He is good!

Thursday, 31 December 2015

My 2016 Resolutions

I loved 2015. The Word the Lord gave us for that year was "enlarge". He did enlarge us.. our hearts, our lives, our capacity and our vision.. and family.
Joseph Edward Cahill. What a gift he is!

And going into 2016 I have been praying and asking God for what word to enter the year in...

I flicked on the radio for all of ten seconds and there was the word... "Clarity".

noun clar·i·ty \ˈkler-ə-tē, ˈkla-rə-\
Simple Definition of clarity

: the quality of being easily understood
: the quality of being expressed, remembered, understood, etc., in a very exact way
: the quality of being easily seen or heard

Viewing my goals through the eyes of clarity means that theyre not a vague expression of something idealistic or unreachable.
They are a means of seeing through decisions with the perspective of what matters.

Clarity is most present in the light of Christ. And that is foundational to my new years goals. Sam has such a sound understanding of the Word, as a result of three years of study in Bible College. So this year we will read through the Bible in a year together.. and I cant wait to pummel him with questions!

Next is loving others. We have so much to learn from others and we learn from them best, when we love them, when we invite them into our lives. So one of my goals is to once a month, invite someone new for Sunday Lunch.

One of my giftings is writing. I have a love of the written word, and I desire to grow and attain to the purpose for which Jesus has given this to me. I want to establish and grow my skills as an author and set up a blog that Ive been itching to do for quite some time.

I have long had a pile of books that I want to read through, and one of my plans this year is to research and discover more of the foundational principles and wisdom that is available, including undertaking a paper or two in Carey Baptist.

Im so aware that my kids are growing up so fast. My eldest is nearly twelve and you better believe the responsibility sits heavy on Sam and I. Investing in these relationships is so vital. I want to step back this year from the 'ought to' demands on our schedule and purposefully seek to invest in their lives, and into the Kingdom. We are going to make some brave decisions this year!

The most important relationship in my life, outside of Jesus, is my husband and I love him dearly. This year were going to make a point of doing twelve amazing dates, one a month. Something thats just us.

We hear it all the time, 'Take time for You'. Ive already made some great changes to that end. I go to the gym three times a week, Ive started running, walking and doing Pilates. I eat healthy and Im fairly careful with what toxins I have around the home. So the changes I want to make are to get to bed earlier, focus on intermittent fasting and doing small things.. like starting the day with a glass of lemon water while I read the Word.

Each of these spell CLARITY. Christ. Love. Author. Read. Invest. Twelve dates. You.

Today I started the year by buying a new pair of walking shoes, going for a run, and then a swim. While shopping I tried on a pair of shorts for running which had me cringing at the post baby evidence. I shared with Sam what I felt and then showed him my instagram feed and why it depressed me. I told him about this years word "Clarity". He was awesome. He promptly blocked all the images that come up that are not helpful.. and unfollowed me from fitness feeds which he could see throw me into despair. I thanked him. "Thats okay he said, Fleur, clarity helps us make good decisions fast".


Friday, 25 September 2015

Just Love

This week I was asking God about whether or not we should go, as a family, to a conference next year that looks pretty amazing.
And so as I was researching and talking it over with hubby, I did what we naturally do, I started pressing the doors open. I didnt get far because the major obstacle I hit, was, where to find accommodation for 2 adults and 5 kids. Put that into any 'Accommodation' search engine and it comes up with "Sorry, we have no spaces". Seriously. The best I could come up with was a camping ground or that hubby and I split up for the week, staying in separate motel rooms with 2 and 3 kids respectively.
Not my idea of a great family bonding time!

Then at last, I found the perfect place. The only place in fact still available! And it was only (drum roll) $2300nz for a week.

I get thats fairly reasonable but here's where the rubber meets the road in my faith. I know thats not a lot of money to God. I know thats not impossible for Him. And I even came up with some pretty awesome scenarios for Him of how He could provide $2300... you know those fall of the back of the truck kind of answers?

Let me go there for a moment...
Do you remember in Childrens Church the story of the family that had nothing, not even a loaf of bread left, and then around the bend a bread truck comes and it just happens that a bunch of loaves fall out the back of the truck and God answers the prayers of the family. Or what about the stories you hear where a missionary needs $10,000 and then they go to the letterbox and theres a cheque for $10000 anonymously given. I love those stories. Ive spent a lifetime hanging off those stories and I probably will till the day I die because thats the God I know and love. He is faithful!!

So you bet ya that I had a whole script written for how God can provide $2300. Here I was trying to pray and Im telling God "oh well you know that Bonus Bonds money, well you could just let me win next month, and it could just happen to be $2300 and that would be so cool! Or wait, you could just have us sell something and we get exactly $2300 for it.

I know I know, my faith reeks of immaturity sometimes. But truly, this was Mrs. Fleur Cahills internal dialogue in prayer time.

And then I picked up the Bible and read Galations 5. "What is important is faith expressing itself in love."

God had a conversation with me He's had a few times now.
"Fleur, you are FULLY RESOURCED for everything I am asking of you right now". Stop and insert your own name and say that back to yourself.

Because we live in a world, in a Christian environment where its tempting to always be looking for the upgrade, the where its happening, the amazing study. And none of these things are bad, they really aren't. In fact, often they are pretty awesome.

However, in looking for the upgrade, we can often miss "what is important".

Operating from a position of realising were FULLY RESOURCED changes everything. Why? Because when you're sitting with the knowledge that God has and will give you all the grace, energy, strength, provision to accomplish His calling on you, it results in action in the now. Its not dependent on whether or not the things YOU perceive you need will arrive, be it a conference, a car, a room or a position. Like dye seeping into fibres, that calling in you will find a way to penetrate the environment regardless.

Have you seen those sort around you?

I have a friend like that. She felt called into Childrens ministry. Well in truth, she just loved kids. She has a bundle of her own but when you wanted to find her in Church, she was in the childrens ministry room.. doing what she loved. Eventually a position became available which she didn't apply for, because it didn't cross her mind... till someone in the childrens ministry team told her she should, so she did. After a few interviews, she was in the childrens ministry room one Sunday and someone said to her "Oh Im sorry you didn't get the job". Her heart sunk. Guess what she did.. served anyway. NOTHING could stop her heart from doing what God had called her to do. The next day she found out she actually did get the job. It was wrong information but oh, what a test huh?!
And oh man, she is dynamic in that room and the energy and love that she has for the kids! But if you meet her, you won't be wowed by her position or impressed by her attributes. She's beautiful. But she possesses a beauty that expresses itself in eyes full of tears when you mention something that hits close to her heart. It expresses itself in a smile so warm, that your kids will feel Jesus regardless of the challenges going on in her world.

You want to prove your love is genuine? Let the obstacles and disappointments and things that you dont have be the vehicle by which you love even more. Let the lack be the place where God can shine. Let Him trust you with the little and watch Him grow the great.

If you're like me, and praying about the next thing... remember what is important. Galations 5. Thank God that He has given you everything you already need to love and serve Him and get on doing that which He has already asked of you. He will take care of the rest.... and the script?.... Well that will be nothing like you imagined and will have Gods original glory stamped all over it.