Thursday 28 July 2011

Summer.

Sean's friend Nosi came over to hang out and they ended up having a huge community water fight!
I have started more work in the estate weeding and planting. Watch this space for more!

Yesterday we got to the beach for a few hours. The weather fas fantastic and sadly I only put on factor 10 so I got pretty burnt on my face... And of course today it's raining!!!!!
Hope you are having a great Summer.

Friday 22 July 2011

Hen party.

My sister Nicola is getting married soon and so she had her hen party today.
Being the last of 11 children we three were called the three wee ones.



My nephew's girlfriend Fionnuala.

They are away off to Carrick on Shannon in this party bus for the weekend. I left them to it!

Sunday 17 July 2011

Clothes

I thought I might share a little about dress/clothes. This can be a touchy subject, along with women's hair and make-up! But I will start with God and what I think He has to say about it.

In the beginning nakedness was not a sin. However, when sin entered the world we had to cover up. Why? Because our way of thinking is now perverted and corrupt and we are unable to look at the human body in the way we used to, without sinning. How do we sin? Well, I suppose the most obvious way is when a man lusts after a woman. A husband may desire his wife but a man who lusts after a woman is sinning. Women too can lust after men but, to be honest, we're just not in the same league as the men! However, we don't get away that easily, we can be envious of how other women look and that's sin.

Clothes can be worn to cover the body, to be comfortable and to keep you warm, and then they can be worn to cover the body but accentuate certain parts and draw the eye of the opposite sex.

Before I became a Christian I wore clothes for different reasons. Jeans, tracksuits etc just to hang around in and to work in, to keep warm and to be comfortable in. I also wore clothes that would draw the attention of men towards me, and then I wore clothes to impress other women... peer pressure! Other times I wore clothes as a kind of armour, power dressing. If I were going somewhere important and meeting somebody who intimidated me, I would put on the smart trouser suit, make up and hair... my armour!

When I started going to Church services I began to look at the way other Christian women dressed. Some, most, wore clothes that were not expensive. Others wore outfits that were put together with a little thought but again, not expensive and others didn't seem to mind what they wore so long as it covered them!

There were some young women in out Church and they really surprised me by how they dressed. They looked great! Trendy, modern, up to the latest fashions and discrete! They wore some of the same kind of tops that were out there in the boutiques but instead of wearing it low cut, they would put a t-shirt under it, or they altered it by sewing it and still looked great!
As I got to know the women in the Church, one by one, some of them told me that they shopped in second hand clothes shops as well as the regular shops. One woman, who was quite short, got almost all her clothes second-hand, gave them to a dressmaker to alter them and looked fantastic! You would never know she did this! Another woman I know in the Church dresses herself and her kids from the second-hand shops with the best of clothes, good labels and all, you'd never know!

I had thought nothing of wearing tops that didn't leave much to the imagination, skirts that were too short and clothes that were too tight. But how do we know what is too short, low and tight? What do we gauge it all against?

I came to realize what I was doing was wrong when I read in the Bible that when a man looks at a woman and lusts after her in his heart, he commits adultery...

When I go to church wearing something that is used to draw the attention of men to my figure and attract them to me, I may be stumbling them and possibly tempting them to commit adultery in their hearts with me and sin against God. Tough stuff.

Some would say that surely it is up to the men to mind themselves and just look away.

Well, yes it is, but it is also up to me to consider my brother, to esteem him higher that myself, to protect him and not to stumble him. Personally, I didn't know a lot about the Bible at the time, but I knew enough. The fact that somebody looking at me with lust caused him to sin. I didn't want to be a part of it, so I changed. It didn't happen straight away. It took months initially and a few years to iron out the finer points and if I am honest, even now I still find myself tempted to slide back into the ways of the world, but then God gives me a gentle nudge and pulls me back.

It can be a fine line sometimes. You can go too far one way or the other. It is up to you to love your brother and not stumble him so you can't go around wearing certain styles of dress. However, we are not called to cover ourselves from top to bottom.

Let's use a bit of wisdom here ladies and consider what we wear. Do we want our brothers to be talking with us after the service while trying desperately not to look at our cleavage, or can we give them one less thing to struggle with in the world that day..? We don't have much choice in what we have to look at from day to day in the high street and work place, but we can make out Church services a restful place to be, where our brothers, husbands and sons can rest from temptation in this area, even if it is just for a couple of hours.

At home.

When I lived in Dublin City in the early 80's I used to work. Because I came from a large poor family, and because my father encouraged us to do well for ourselves and not rely on men to get us through life, (he had 7 daughters) I became very independent and would strive to be strong and not to be dependant on anybody, especially a man. I would pay my way in restaurants, holidays, anything, and felt awful if I were under any complement to anybody.

When I had my son Seán, I was just the same. Because I didn't drive, sometimes I relied on people to drive me here and there and would give them money for petrol and this would help me feel less of a burden. I really disliked cooking and thought it was the most boring thing in the world to have to do. My plan was, as soon as Seán was old enough, he would go to play school and I would get some part time work.

After my conversion things changed for me in these regards. I wanted to be with Seán more. I didn't mind spending most of my time with him. Also I longed to cook for somebody! My sister and my pastor used to call over every Tuesday morning and I used to be happy to make up something small for them to eat for lunch. Nothing fancy, a salad or omelette or soup etc. This pleased me and these feelings took me by surprise!

Before I married Niall I started to get used to making dinners for more than just me and Sean.... I would invite visiting speakers to my home, along with other people from the church, and that got me back into the swing of things. So by the time I married Niall I was very happy to cook and wash and keep home and homeschool... Something I would have once really disliked, I now love! Having said all that, I am not a fab cook and sometimes still get a bit bored cooking two times a day..

I am so glad and grateful that the Lord has taken me out of the workforce. I do have a small job cleaning a local community centre once a week that helps pay the bills. It is literally 3 doors down from my home which is great. Once we made the choice to home school Sean then that took the option of working outside the home from me. I am grateful for that.

I am not superwoman. I can't work outside the home, then come home and shop, cook, wash, dry, iron, clean, be mother, wife, helpmate, sister, be a regular church goer, let alone spend time reading the Bible, reading other godly books, pray and visit folk.... I just can't do it all and I don't want to.

So how do we get on? Just live a simple life. It may not be as simple as I would like it to be, but by today's standards it's pretty simple... But the benefits are amazing! We son't have a lot of spare cash but God provides for every one of our needs. So, right now, this is what my life looks like.

I get a lot of hand-me-downs... I quite enjoy that!
I buy second-hand.
I buy new in the sales.
I buy very little make-up.
I don't buy perfume.
I very rarely buy magazines.
I have a great friend who cuts my hair for free :0)
I don't drink.
I don't smoke.

What we do...

Sometimes we go to the movies.
We go to the pool.
We go to the Library.
I go to visit my sisters and brothers in the Lord.
Sometimes we go on holidays.
We light a fire and settle down to watch a movie or read out loud to one another.
We have a family bible/prayer/song time most days which we all enjoy.
We go on outings.
I visit neighbours and friends.
We visit family.
We visit a local nursing home.
We go to church services.
I walk.
I blog.
I read.....
This September I hope to go to a Baptist college for a part time three year women's ministry course.
I do a lot of community gardening in the estate where I live.
I am on the residents committee.

I couldn't do the half of this if I were working, and I would be working if God hadn't given me the desire for a more simple home life.

I love my life, I really do. I love my home which I call 'my nest!' I love my family. I don't care if the world thinks it is unusual for me to be home so much, to be fulfilled with my life as it is.

Not too long ago I would have despised this kind of lifestyle, now I love it.

I am not is any way putting down women who work. I am just saying that I believe that at this time and moment, this is what God wants 'me' to do and I am grateful.

Friday 8 July 2011

The source and beginnings of christian love.

We know that the source of christian love is God and the beginning of christian love for us started when God created the first man and woman. The love Adam had for God was a true, perfect and clean love, as was his love towards Eve.
I can't help but wonder what it would be like to live in a world where people had this kind of love for one another. After all, this is what God intended when He created Adam and Eve, isn't it? It's very hard to understand what it should be like because when we destroyed our relationship with God we also destroyed our relationship with one another. Now we are left with a world full of people who are only capable of self love unless, that is, they are saved and converted by God and even then, due to our sin this new love that is planted in our hearts is just a vague impression compared to what it soon will be.

In his book 'Christian Love,' Hugh Binning begins by talking about God's creation of His world with unity and order and then goes on to say,

'Now, it is most reasonable to suppose that, by the law of creation, there was to be no less order and unity among men, the chiefest of the works of God. And so it was indeed: as God had moulded the rest of the world into a beautiful frame by the first stamp of His fingers, so He did engrave upon the hearts of men such a principle as might be a perpetual bond and tie to unite the sons of men together. This was nothing else but the law of love, the principle fundamental law of our creation - love to God, founded on our essential dependency on and subordination to God, and to man, grounded upon that communion and interest in one image of God.'

But things have changed so much that men's only love is turned inwards and it is only self serving. We turn everything towards ourselves and no one, least of all God, gets a look-in. God has to convert us and teach us how to love the right way, and at a high cost.

If God is love and we are made in His image then I think is it a very good starting point to base our christian lives on. It doesn't really matter how old we are as Christians, if we haven't got a proper understanding of what love is and who we should love, then nothing else that follows in our lives will grow to the potential that it otherwise should.

Let's consider 1 Corinthians 13:1-3,

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

Just consider that list. Amazing! God is saying that the first thing to get right in our new lives as christians is love and if we don't get that right, well, everything we do that follows is, at the least, questionable. It seems to me that if we don't have a proper understanding of how to love God and our brethren properly then our motives for doing anything in the name of God is tainted. I suppose what I am trying to get at is that this is not only a fundamental doctrine but the fundamental doctrine and it is vital that we find out more about it and then do it.

Right now when I think of the scripture that tells me how decietful I am (The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked - Jer 17:9), and then I think of the things I do for the Lord, I can't help but want to go back over my reasons for doing them and check if they were out of love for Him and the brethren or were the reasons tainted with sin.
Did I do stuff out of love or because it may have looked good in God's and the church's eyes.

Starting with myself first, I think it may not be a bad thing to examine ourselves and look back over some of the things we have done during our christian life and see with what intentions we did/do them. Here are some things coming to my mind...

If we go to the church services just to get fed, well that's wrong. We should go not only to learn and grow, to be helped and encouraged but also to worship God and love Him and His by ministering to other saints, not least our elders and their wives.

Do we go to visit other christians for our own edification or for theirs?

When I pray, is it mostly for me and mine, or do I consider others, above and beyond my own needs?

When I make life-changing decisions, are they based on me and mine only or am I taking my church family into real consideration?

Have I a decent knowledge of the Bible but don't share it with others. Do I encourage and help others to understand it and to get them through hard times?

Friend, it's real hard fighting against the old man and against putting ourselves first.
It's real hard putting God and His children first, before ourselves and not just making an outward show of it.
It's real hard crucifying ourselves for others who are in our immediate family let alone our church family but we are called to do that.
It's real hard to only see this current world/situation we are in and not look forward to a time when we won't have the choice to please God any more. This is a crucial and fantastic time when we have the choice and can say yes (or no) to God.

But I am very encouraged to know that God has supplied me with everything I need pertaining to my life and godliness (His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness - 2 Peter 1:3).
I am very encouraged to know that when I do these things and practice them that they become a part of my life and I tend to hold onto this world and the things in it a little less every time.
I am very encouraged to know that God is pleased with all my efforts to obey Him and He will help me, every step of the way, and I am very encouraged to think that rather than suck my church dry, I can give a little back and maybe even surprise myself and be a good example to others.

Wednesday 6 July 2011

A bit of sport.

Today we went to visit the Kirwans and Sean took his javelin along. Ann''s son is great at that sport, winning all Ireland's gold in the under 18's and 19's and was happy to give Sean a bit of instruction. He is 20 in two weeks time and is getting baptised into our church on the same day! You have to play the video through two times to get a decent picture.

Monday 4 July 2011

Fun day in a nursing home!

This morning I had great fun with my family. These past few months it has been on my heart to visit the old folk in the local nursing home and read the bible to them. A sister in the Lord goes there on Wednesdays and Fridays for a few hours and asked me if I would do some kind of craft with them. I had a chat with Niall and came up with an idea that we thought was good. We were going to pick a christian song every week (say Amazing Grace), play a couple of different versions of it, give the people there a bit of background about the writer and a piece of scripture.
Well, the sister didn't think the idea was so good but we did talk things through and came up with another idea which we got to do today.

We got a projector and large screen and showed old and new photos of Dundalk town to the folk. It sure did start some very interesting and fun conversations. After doing that to our captured audience (over 40 people) we finished off with some interesting facts about today's date, the 4th of July. Niall did quite a bit of research into the subject and came up with some interesting facts. One old gent (below in the last photo) called Michael who couldn't be heard very well took quite a while on his walking stick to get to Niall and told him that Louis Armstrong was born on the 4th of July and then walked back to his seat :0)
The lady in the photo above is called the 'Queen of Mondays' as that is her day for attending and she is a bit of a bossy boots, although very nice!!!
By all accounts the staff really liked the slide show and were kind enough to give us refreshments. The nurse in the white coat is Kevin's mum.
All in all it was a fab morning and we are looking forwards to going back every Monday at 11 this month with the option of continuing for many months after that. We were even given some requests by the folks. They want us to look up information on the Internet about some areas in Dundalk where they lived.
We had to laugh, there was even talk about a famous one armed footballer!

Happy 4th of July to my U.S. friends.

A most unusual package

Today something most unusual came literally through the letter box in our hall today. Top marks to the post man for his patience having to push that through the letterbox!
Sean's belated birthday present... a javelin!

Saturday 2 July 2011

Saturday sailing.

Today we were sailing again. When I way 'we' it is more like Sean... and I watched :0) Niall was out on the speed boats again setting up the buoys for the races and we all had a good time of it.


These guys had fun jumping off the pier.
I was given the grand tour of this beautiful yacht.
Today Sean sailed on this boat.
And Mick came along for a chat.