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Seasons of Joy: Living a God-fashioned Life

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Ribbet collageSeasons of Joy

I’m still sugar-free people!  That’s a few weeks now and the lack of sugar has meant I’ve finally lost the stone I put on after the operation.  I’ve done nothing but stop eating sugar and yet that stone has just dropped off.

I know I have a big battle ahead of me but it feels so much easier because I’m following God’s lead on this.

Right now I am focusing on two very similar verses (Romans 8 v12-14 and Ephesians 4 v-20-24).

Romans 8v12-14:  So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!

Ephesians 4 v-20-24:   Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life

Here are some of the things I’ve been learning:

  • I love the contrast between Romans and an old ‘do-it-yourself’ life and the Ephesians new ‘God fashioned life’.  I have been trying to conquer these food issues by myself probably for 30 of my 40 years.  If God made me then He knows what will work for me and my body.  It’s funny, after spending nearly my entire life attempting to curb my eating and become as slim as I am certain I should have been (!) I am finally realising that I have both ingrained ‘dieting’ habits which are my go-to methods of losing weight.  I also realise that most of them are quick fixes and geared towards a fast and immediate weight loss but ultimately can not be maintained in the long-term – hence the weight off/weight on.
  • I am in the process of figuring out what belongs in the past and what belongs in my future.  Romans says that there is ‘nothing in it (the past) for me, nothing at all’.  All my go-to methods need to, well, go.  Ephesians emphasises this point by saying that ‘everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go‘  Sugar is the first step, but I think it is probably the first step of many and I am trying to listen very hard for the next one.
  • I love the Romans bit where it says that we don’t owe anything to our old life.  That to me, in this situation, means that my feelings towards food are not worth anything.  Yes, I do fully realise this passage is talking about a new life in Christ but God highlighted this passage to me with regards to my eating.  I know I have turned to food throughout an unhappy young childhood and at challenging times throughout my older teen years and adult years.  I also know that I use food to celebrate (I mean, who doesn’t?), meaning I eat when I’m happy, sad, stressed….basically whatever the emotion, I eat.  I realise I put too much value on it as a comforter and a fellow celebrator.  I am aware that food, whilst vital for survival, has been given far too great a role in my life, far too much power and worth.
  • There’s more, though, because believe it or not this isn’t so much about food.  Food is the plaster I use to self medicate.  I have feelings about myself which can not possibly be accurate.  I am almost certain that no one exists who is as ugly as I believe I am.  One’s self-image is firmly planted and grown in one’s childhood and I was told repeatedly that I was an ugly embarrassment.  My mum always told me the opposite, that I was beautiful, but as the cancer doctor said to me when he was explaining my diagnosis to me, ‘Humans like to gravitate towards the worst possible scenario, rather than the best’.  All these years I have chosen to believe the words of a man who was ill over the words of first my mum, then my husband.  We are all beautiful, even if not conventionally so.  We all contain beauty because we are created by a God who takes the greatest pleasure in us, all quirkiness included.  We are beautiful, every single one of us.  And that includes me.  I am choosing, from this day on, to believe in my mum’s words and my husband’s declarations, and not those of my dad.  We are all beautiful.  Period.
  • Finally the last sentence in Romans ‘There are things to do and places to go!’ excites me.  My perception of myself has held me back so many times in my life.  I hate being the center of attention or being in any situation where I feel I will be looked at (ie swimming pool), I lack courage to do simple things which I would love to learn to do (such as tackling my tone deafness and learning to sing in tune).  I know for certain that I have places to go, people to see and a life worth living fully.  Things are changing deep inside me.

I have more to learn from these passages but I thought I would share where I am right now.

Precious Moments

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This week we have been on our half term.  The children have been busy with all manor of artistic pursuits as well as a small amount of maths, just to keep their hand in.  We also managed to squeeze in a visit to the beach, my very most favourite thing to do in the world.

The weather wasn’t going to be great, but these beach visits somehow stock up my energy and enthusiasm for the next month of home school (we go once a month).  However, when we arrived we were blessed with the most glorious weather the whole time we were there.

T was off with friends for a paint balling birthday party so it was just Gary and his five girls:

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The twins said it was one of the best days out ever, and I would agree.  I spent the entire time reading, whilst the little ones played in the small patch of sand and the older girls sat in the green opposite making daisy chains.  Does life get much better?

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I mean how can anyone see this view and not be completely inspired by it all?

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The rest of the week continued to be chilled in the extreme.  Usually the half term breaks are still busy for me planning for the next five weeks of school, but this week I have done very little.  I obviously needed the break.

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I seem to have many photos of the little ones and not so many of the older ones, which is a shame because they were just as busy and creative as their little sisters.  The little ones have painted, made crowns, dressed paper dolls and made clay jewelry, as well playing dressing up (complete with goggly eyes), making loom band necklaces and hosting dolly tea parties:

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Gary even managed to find the time to make a gate for our garden to prevent Oscar (our lab) from wandering down the track road:

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And last but not least this is a card hand made by A6 completely in secret to give to her little sister:

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It says ‘I am so sory for oll the tims that I wok yoo up’  I just though it was the cutest thing.  A6 needs the least sleep and no matter what time she goes to bed she always wakes up before 6am.  B4 needs the most sleep and A6 always woke her up.  This card is to say sorry (she has since stopped).

I hope you all have had a wonderful week!

Linking up:

Homegrown Learners

When a break becomes an excuse to do nothing…

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This is one of those pointless posts written from me to……me.  Yes, sometimes I need a good talking to and who better to do it than yours truly?  So Claire, this is for you:

  • It is not a good use of time to become lost in the YouTube blackhole.  In fact, some might say it is a colossal waste of time.  And singing your heart out to Glee music?  It is not healthy, I tell you.
  • No one should know every word to every Glee music video.  No one.  That includes you. Just sayin’.
  • It doesn’t matter that you are on your half term break, you have rooms that could do with a deep clean and I’m sure the freezer needs to be defrosted for the first time in forever.
  • Staying up until the early hours, even if you are on a half term break, watching back episodes of Glee is not conducive to getting up early- you know, that goal you set yourself days weeks months years ago?
  • Glee is not real.  It is not normal to burst into song when you feel the need to express yourself.  And dancing at your age? – Really not a good look.

Yes, I have become slightly obsessed.  I happen to be of the all or nothing persuasion.  Frankly, I rue the day I was introduced to Glee and the incredibly good music numbers that go with each episode.  It is Wednesday.  I have been on half term break since Monday and I have done very little in this time. This is not normal for me.  I need a kick up the backside and this is it.  No more behaving like a fourteen year old.  I am forty and need to start behaving as such.

And I will, after I watch just one more episode of Glee……

Precious Moments

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The weeks are rushing in and out with a blink of the eye!  We are having such a fabulous term.  We are working hard, playing hard and joking hard.  Routines and habits are slowly burning their intentional permanence into our hearts.  Things, dare I say it, are feeling easier all the time.

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I have realised this week just how much the older ones are taking on the responsibility for their own education.  As I told T, only he can decide how hard to work and whether to knuckle down.  I can’t make that decision for him.  It is his life.  As I spoke I could see him physically rising up, shoulders straightening and pulling back.  Yes, he is ready to be a man in charge of his own destiny and is proud to do so.

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A6 has been happier and all the measures we have put into place have seemed to work well.  I wanted to give it a couple of weeks before I shared, after all there would be no point if it hadn’t worked!

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We are continuing to do well with lowering our sugar intake.  The children have commented how much better they are feeling.  I still have not missed it at all and neither Gary or I have been snacking at night.  This is really for another post, but something has changed.  Really changed.  No is still no and it feels easy to say and do.  Praise God!

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What has been particularly interesting has been to see the knock on effects such a choice has.  The older children are biking every lunch time; Gary and T13 have decided to go biking each night-time together; I am resurrecting my evening walk with God which I have really missed but didn’t seem to have time to do.

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There has also been lots of time spent together in the garden.

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The little children had bought a couple of seed kits which Gary helped them plant out:

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The girls and I had a lovely Bible scrap booking night on Wednesday.  I just love spending time with my girls:

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We are incredibly busy over the next few days so I have decided to take a blogging break for a week until things calm down.  I hope you all have a wonderfully happy weekend spending lots of time with those you love!

Explorers Age: Conducting a Blanket Trade

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explorer's age button

One of the main reason for exploring the world was to trade goods with the natives of the land discovered.  But how could they do this if they were not able to verbally communicate with each other?  Blanket, or silent trade, was a method whereby two different language speaking groups were able to trade without the need for speech.

I challenged the children to set up their own blanket trade, researching it first and then acting one out, without the use of speech or sign language.  T13 decided he would direct and take photos, whilst L12 was a native and C12 was a Spaniard.  They gathered props (dress up and goods to trade) and narrated as they went along:

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And that is how one conducts a blanket trade (although (my) pink crocs are not an absolute requirement to have a successful trade).

Renaissance Explorers: Making and using a Quadrant

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explorer's age button

During the renaissance, if a sailor lost sight of land he needed to have a method available to him which would help him determine his direction.  The quadrant was an instrument which allowed him to work out which latitude he was at:

quadrant

 Source

 We had already covered some navigational methods used by the explorers during the time of the explorers age.  These included making a chip log, a sand glass and a compass.  Collectively these are known as dead reckoning and, as methods of navigation, were very unreliable.

Often, therefore, the sailor would turn to celestial navigation.  Sailors in the past would have been very familiar with the movement of the stars across the sky at night-time.  The most important star to recognise was the Polaris or North Star:

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The North Star or Polaris is known as such because of its position relative to the North Pole:

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Once a sailor knew where Polaris was, he would also know where North was, and therefore South and so on.  However, simply finding the North star would not tell the explorer where he was on the globe, only which direction he was heading in.  This is where having a quadrant came in handy.

Navigators were able to calculate how far north of the equator they were by measuring the altitude of the North Star from the visible horizon. The altitude describes the height of the North Star measured as an angle.  This measurement of altitude could then be converted into the ship’s latitude position.  If Polaris is on the horizon, the quadrant will measure no angle (0 degrees latitude).  In this instance the ship would be on the equator.  If Polaris is situated at a 59 degree angle, then the ship is at 59 degrees latitude or 59 degrees North.

Whilst the Tudor explorers were able to measure latitude (how far north they are away from the equator) there were not the tools to measure longitude yet (distance from the prime meridian).  This meant they could not obtain the exact position of their ship.

An additional problem arose from the quadrant reading itself.  As we would soon find out, getting an accurate reading on terra firma was hard enough, we couldn’t even imagine attempting to obtain one on a rocky ship!

Making our own quadrant

DSC_0250quadrant and explorers

  • We gathered supplies: thick card, string, a metal button as a weight and a photocopy of a quadrant (found here)
  • The children cut out the quadrant and a similar shaped and sized piece of card, sticking one to the other.  A piece of string was then attached to the corner.  A button was attached to the other end of the string:

Ribbet collagequadrant and explorers

  • Each child attempted to measure ‘latitude’ by pointing towards a fixed point (it was a rainy day and there were no stars (on account of it being day light) and no sun, so just to practice using the quadrant and to give us an idea how it worked, we pretended the roof of the house was Polaris :)

T13 got it straight away:

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L12 required a bit of help, which T was more than happy to give:

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After which she was able to use it herself:

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As for C12?  Not a clue.  I know she did it, but I don’t have even one photo of her.  Poor girl.

Renaissance Explorers: Making and Using a Magnetic Compass

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explorer's age button

Compass Rose

It was during the Explorer’s Age that cartographers began using a compass rose to display orientation with regards to the map on which it was placed:

compassrose2compass-rose

 A compass rose displays the cardinal directions of North, South, East and West on a map or nautical chart:

compass rose 3

Source

We had already come across the compass rose when we built our own map of the world:

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A6 had stuck it into the corner of our map.  This compass rose made it clear that, for example the Antarctic was down south, as was Australia; whilst the Arctic circle was up north, alongside Iceland and Norway.

Compass rose is also the term used to describe the graduated markings found on a traditional magnetic compass:

compassrose compass

Source

We would be using a compass rose for our home-made compass.

The Mariner’s Magnetic Compass

The magnetic compass was probably the most important navigational instrument the sailors had at their disposal.  It is an incredibly simple tool, consisting of a magnetised needle which points to the north.  Once the sailors knew where north was they were able to find other directions.  The introduction of the compass rose to the design of the compass made this even easier.

The Pole star or North star, known as Polaris, had been known as the sea man’s lodestar, as it guided them through waters when they had no other equipment.  It is therefore no surprise that the stone containing magnetic properties (it attracted iron), first mentioned by 6th century BC Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus, was known as Lodestone:

SONY DSC

Lodestone is a magnetic, north finding rock capable of magnetising a compass needle.  On a long exploration the sea-captain would always keep a lodestone to remagnetise their compass, which would lose its strength over time.

Making our own Compass

  • L12 magnetised our needle by stroking its tip from one end of a magnet to the other 70 or so times:

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  • The needle was then placed next to a magnet to see if had successfully been magnetised.  It had:

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  • The needle was taped onto a polystyrene disk:

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  • I photocopied a compass rose.  The compass was placed on top of it and the compass rose paper was moved until its north lined up with the north on the compass:

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  • The polystyrene disc with the magnetised needle attached was floated on a petri dish of water and observed.  The top of the needle slowly moved around until it was pointing North.  We had made a compass:

DSC_0234compassmaking

In addition to a compass we also made a quadrant.  But you will have to wait until tomorrow for that post.  Yes, I know, you just can’t wait…..

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