Wednesday, 30 December 2015

'Cling' 2015

Last year I decided to pick a 'one word' for the year. I picked 'faithful'. Here's why.

I love the idea of having a 'one word' for the year instead of a bunch of resolutions. I think it's quite a cool idea. You are supposed to pick one word for the year and focus on that.

I've decided to do that this year instead of a resolution, just like I did last year. My word isn't really so much to do with a resolution. My word is more a reflection on my spiritual walk with God and a word to remember throughout the year and try to use to keep focused, I guess.

This year, my word is 'cling'.
hold on tightly to.
"she clung to Joe's arm"
Synonyms: hold on to, clutch, grip, clasp, attach oneself to, hang on to, hold tightly, clench, embrace...
I love those synonyms, don't you? Clutch, grip, clasp, attach oneself to, embrace, hold tightly! 

I want my relationship with God to be one where I am clinging on to Him. Where I am clutching, clasping, attaching myself to, embracing, holding tightly to Him. 

Hebrews 10:22-24 (emphasis mine)
....let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;  and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,…

Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering for He who promised is faithful. Let us not only hold fast to the confession of our hope, but hold fast to our hope itself! Let's cling to Jesus! 

He's strong and secure and can handle anyone clinging on to him.... 

So yeah, that's my word for the year.

May your 2016 be absolutely amazingly incredible. May the Lord's presence feel very near to you and your loved ones as you serve Him.

See you next year!

PS. This was originally going to be posted on New Years Eve, but I want to do a post on New Years Day too so this has been shifted forward! :) Anyway. I'll still see you next year.
PPS. Are you doing a 'one word' for the year? What is it?


Monday, 28 December 2015

Hand Lettering Tutorial (video)

Good morning!

I have something a tiny bit exciting for you today....

I've no doubt you remember a post from a little while back which entailed me talking about art in general and the different ways I like doing arty sort of things. I mentioned that I was using entirely photos in the post because I didn't like doing videos because of how annoying they are to work with. Well, I've finally gotten myself a cellphone and decided that maybe doing a video would be a tiny bit easier on a cellphone... long story short here's my experimental video, a tutorial on my favourite kind of hand lettering.

It's a bit of a basic tutorial but I hope you like it... and Ashley, I'm sorry it's been so long in coming!

How was your Christmas? Ours was fantastic. We had a lovely day with our family and some friends.
Have a great week! :)

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas!

Luke 2:1-20 (emphasis mine)

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

There was no room available for them....
I came across this great quote the other day - isn't it fantastic?? Had to paint it. :)

I wish you great joy this Christmas and blessings abundant for 2016. :) May the Lord be with you and may you shine His light and declare His glory wherever you go.

Monday, 21 December 2015

A + A // Christmas is for Secrets

- Losing my voice completely for the first time ever.
- Getting really used to Chinese people asking me if I have a boyfriend (and occasionally people who kindly provide me with a couple of options :P)
- Being completely sure about a piece of factual information and informing others about your excellent facts.... then discovering you actually weren't right about it.
- Discussing a Christmas present with Mum and having the intended recipient walk past the door to the room in which we were in and overhear tantalising and oh so tell tale tidbits of our conversation. Note to self: check doors are shut before talking secrets in future.
- Leaving personal belongings behind.
- Not being able to make it to an important event you were expected to attend and having to explain the reason you were unable to attend.
- Which happened to be that you were going to be out of town visiting your extremely unwell grandparents which is always awkward telling people because no one quite knows what to say to "My Grandma is dying of cancer".
- Completely missing perfect cues for puns in conversations. Like, come on Bonnie! You can do better than this!
- Trying to wrap awkward shaped gifts. How is one supposed to wrap a ukulele in a way that makes it seem extremely un-ukulele like when you have no suitably shaped cardboard boxes and nothing very useful apart from gift wrap?
- Making plans then having to unmake and remake them oodles of times because your plans just don't work out.

- Finding funny things in English in China.... for example this restaurant that on their business card claimed to have 'Lady-like Kind Gentlemanly Taste', whatever that cryptic phrase really means!
- People who take you seriously.
- That incredibly suspenseful few seconds when you see your exam results have arrived in the mail and you're opening up the envelope, busily imagining all the possible scenarios that might happen. ("So if I get an A+, I'm going to whoop and scream and phone up all my friends.... if I fail I'm going to crawl into a hole and never come out.... if I get one of those annoying in between marks I'm going to pretend I'm disappointed by the lowness of my mark but really I'm going to be secretly thrilled I didn't fail... etc)
- Sunny skies. I have never appreciated sun in the sky so much after seeing all the pollution in the sky in China.
- In itself, the ability to be thankful. So much we often take for granted!
- Having fun with family.
The latest craze amongst some of my younger siblings (especially Ben and Johnny) is carefully building things with wooden domino-like blocks. Then you knock over one end and have a nice carefully planned trail of knocked over wooden domino-like blocks. Or you can build pyramids and things like Caleb is doing here.

- Fresh strawberries and peas in the pod
- Christmas carols!!!! (You knew this one was coming, didn't you.)
- Having brainwaves. They don't happen terribly often, let's be honest, but when they do it is certainly something to celebrate! ☺
- Life in general.
- When you manage to clear away and actually do that one frustrating item on your To Do list that had been sitting there and bothering you for ages.
- That one shade of colour that is pretty much a perfect cross between pink, orange, red and yellow and looks SO BEAUTIFUL whenever you see it... come to think of it, it often crops up in sunsets.
- Sunsets

What do you think we take for granted too often?
Do you have any funny stories about secrets around Christmas time? Do share!
How's life going for you? Anything majorly awkward or awesome happen?

PS. Also, I've posted my family's Christmas Newsletter written by Mum if you feel like you want to read it. Link here . I put it on it's own page since it's so gigantic so if you're looking for it look at the top of my blog along with the other pages.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Paper Booklet Tutorial

Good morning, friends!

Today I'm going to be teaching you how to make a neat little paper booklet using only one piece of paper, a pair of scissors and a pen/pencil.

Sounds weird, right? I mean, a paper booklet? (Has Bonnie gone bonkers?)
No seriously, this is such a great method and is so little known I decided to share it with you. I'm sure it will come in handy at some stage, trust me.

Materials needed: One piece of paper any size (I'm using A4), a pair of scissors and a pen/pencil

Cut the paper down the middle so you have two equal sections.

Fold each section in half (you can't really tell here but that's what I've done)

Make a tiny mark about an inch from the top of the paper on the FOLDED side of one of the halves.... and repeat about an inch from the bottom of the paper on the same side

Put the two folded sides together so you can transfer the positions of the marks onto the same place on the other half of paper

On one of the halves, cut from the top of the paper until you get to the mark. Then stop cutting. 
Now cut from the bottom of the paper until you get to the other mark. Then stop cutting. 

On the other half of the paper, cut FROM the first mark to the other mark, opposite to what you just did on the first half of the paper. (Confused? See diagram below.)

Now, take the paper that has the slits on either side of the fold and insert it into the hole in the paper that has the slit down the middle of the fold, aligning the two slits together.

The two papers should sit evenly together. If they don't, maybe you've got one paper around the wrong way. If so, take it out and try again, turning it round.

And that's pretty much it! It should sit evenly and the pages should turn easily.

It's really easy to make a bigger booklet by using more pieces of paper, just fold them together, making sure you have an even amount for each kind of slit. 

Have you tried making a paper booklet like this before?

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Guest Post by Ashley // Sweeter Every Day

Hello everyone.
First off, I would like to say I greatly appreciate Bonnie for asking me to do a guest post for her.
I decided to share one of my favorite songs with you all. Sweeter as the Years Go By ~ by Lelie Morris. A video of the music is below. Why don't you listen to it as you read. 

At age 52, Lelia became blind. She loved to sing as she did chores around the house, and once in a while would pause to write down the words or tunes she made up. Since she couldn't see to write her songs down, her family built a 28 foot long chalkboard with lines like on a music staff so she could tell where she drew in the right notes. She wrote 1,000 texts such as Let Jesus Come Into Your Heart, Nearer, Still Nearer, Sweet Will of God, The Fight Is On, 
‘Tis Marvelous and Wonderful, What If It Were Today, and the song I'm talking about, Sweeter as the Years Go By.  Even though Lelia lost her sight, she saw that Jesus' love became better and better, and sweeter and sweeter as the years went by. Jesus' great love was so much better than her ability to see, and it was worth singing about.

  1. Of Jesus’ love that sought me, when I was lost in sin;
    Of wondrous grace that brought me back to His fold again;
  2. Of heights and depths of mercy, far deeper than the sea,
    And higher than the heavens, my theme shall ever be.
  4.  Sweeter as the years go by,
    Sweeter as the years go by,
    Richer, fuller, deeper, Jesus’ love is sweeter,
    Sweeter as the years go by.
  5. He trod in old Judea life’s pathway long ago;
    The people thronged about Him, His saving grace to know;
    He healed the brokenhearted, and caused the blind to see;
    And still His great heart yearneth in love for even me.
  • Sweeter as the years go by,
    Sweeter as the years go by,
    Richer, fuller, deeper, Jesus’ love is sweeter,
    Sweeter as the years go by.

’Twas wondrous love which led Him for us to suffer loss,
To bear without a murmur the anguish of the cross;
With saints redeemed in glory, let us our voices raise,
Till Heav’n and earth re-echo with our Redeemer’s praise.
  • Sweeter as the years go by,
    Sweeter as the years go by,
    Richer, fuller, deeper, Jesus’ love is sweeter,
    Sweeter as the years go by. 
What about you? Is your God sweeter to you as the years go by? Is He nearer and dearer with each passing day? 
  • Warmly yours and eternally His, in the unbreakable bonds of Calvary, 

 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.

About the Author // Ashley
I am a homeschooling Christian teenager that enjoys writing, reading, blogging, photography, baking, crocheting, crafting, and many other things. Jesus is my love and old hymns are my joy...I love playing the piano for God's glory, especially hymns. 

I blog at Precious Moments; feel free to check it out. :D 

Sunday, 13 December 2015

The Sound of Christmas

Today marks the official twelve days to Christmas countdown.

What makes it seem like Christmas is coming for you?

Is it the excitement of choosing and wrapping presents? The knowledge of what Christmas means? Decorating the house and finding a tree? Planning Christmas Day? Hearing Christmas music?

It's all of those for me. One of my favourites has to be Christmas music though.

I love traditional carols. They are fantastic. Carols are wonderful to sing and proclaim the good news of Jesus' birth through.

I also quite like some of the newish carols that are coming out. Mind you, I don't know many of them, mainly because I don't listen to popular music! :) However occasionally you come across a new one that was definitely written with Jesus in mind and you go, yes, this is good.

Here are two of my favourite new-ish Christmas songs for your enjoyment!

This first one is a take on the original song (that wasn't explicitly Christmassy) written by Leonard Cohen, I believe.

I've heard about this baby boy
Who's come to earth to bring us joy
And I just want to sing this song to you
It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
With every breath I'm singing Hallelujah

A couple came to Bethlehem
Expecting child, they searched the inn
To find a place for You were coming soon
There was no room for them to stay
So in a manger filled with hay
God's only Son was born, oh Hallelujah

The shepherds left their flocks by night
To see this baby wrapped in light
A host of angels led them all to You
It was just as the angels said
You'll find Him in a manger bed
Immanuel and Savior, Hallelujah

A star shown bright up in the east
To Bethlehem, the wise men three
Came many miles and journeyed long for You
And to the place at which You were
Their frankincense and gold and myrrh
They gave to You and cried out Hallelujah

I know You came to rescue me
This baby boy would grow to be
A man and one day die for me and you
My sins would drive the nails in You
That rugged cross was my cross, too
Still every breath You drew was Hallelujah

The second song is kind of new.... it was written in 1994 by Mark Lowry and Buddy Greene.

Mary, did you know
that your baby boy would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know
that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know
that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.

Mary, did you know
that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know
that your baby boy will calm the storm with His hand?
Did you know
that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little baby you kissed the face of God?

The blind will see.
The deaf will hear.
The dead will live again.
The lame will leap.
The dumb will speak
The praises of The Lamb.

Mary, did you know
that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know
that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know
that your baby boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?
The sleeping Child you're holding is the Great I Am.

What are your favourite Christmas songs? What makes it seem like Christmas is coming for you?
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Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Trip Summary

Well, hello, hello! Fancy meeting you here!

I'm back from my big overseas adventure and haven't told you all about it yet. Never fear, my summary is here.

So I have just come back from a three-and-a-bit week trip to the land of China with my sister Danella. We went with a team from New Zealand.
We had the most incredible time!

Most of the time we were helping foreign English teachers teach the English language in university classrooms. They would usually do some sort of lesson, then divide the class into small groups and we would discuss the lesson together so they could practice their English. 

We met (and promptly forgot the names of) heaps of Chinese university students, spent some time helping in various group gatherings and did a tiny bit of touristy sightseeing. 

As I said before, we had the most incredible time. We did things like tasting chicken feet, climbing a mountain that was literally a giant staircase all the way up and took us four hours to get to the top, experiencing many crowded Chinese buses and underground trains and meeting lots of wonderful people!

Thanks so much to all our amazing friends who prayed for us before and during our trip. We feel like it was a very fruitful time.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, it's really good to be home. :)

Below are a few photos. Enjoy!

View of a small part of the city from the 25th floor of an apartment building

One of our favourite street foods: deep-fried potato chunks coated in spice! Amazing.

They had all sorts of random potato chip flavours... here are just two we discovered.... grilled squid and cucumber. Who's hungry?

The travellers

We hired a tandem bicycle and rode around a wall for 13.7 km. It was really neat.

Typical university classroom - their classes are usually two hours long.

Here I am, being really intrepid and trying chicken feet! They don't actually taste awful, they just taste like chicken. I think it's the thought of them that is so off-putting. You know, knowing where they've walked and so on...

And here's Danella trying chicken feet. The funny part of this photo is not her or the chicken foot, it's the expression on the face of our team member beside her! Hahahaha! :)

Danella and I had the opportunity to teach a craft to a group of university students. We taught them quilling (rolling up paper into designs). They loved it.

At one point we went out of the city to a village school. The kids at the village school loved playing games with us.... I taught them all sorts of games through mime since I know virtually no Chinese (here we are doing follow the leader) and they knew basically no English at all... that's why we were there, to teach them English. 

We climbed a mountain that was 944 meters high and was basically a giant staircase the entire way.... singing Christian songs all the way up! It was awesome.

We visited a tourist attraction that had a whole lot of miniatures of famous touristy places in China. Here we are in front of one of them, I don't remember what it was. 

And here is Danella hugging a nice big terracotta warrior statue.

We saw all sorts of things, including these animals, coypu. They are about the size of otters but look like giant water rats and have webbed back feet! 

China was fantastic... I'd love to go again some day!

How has the last month been for you and your family?
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Thursday, 12 November 2015

Bonnie's Good Game List + Goodbye

I'm sure you've been at an event where games have been run before. Whether it's icebreaker games in a more formal group setting, vigorous games at a kids camp, competitive games at a birthday party.... games are great for having fun. And someone has to run those games.

I've had to run games at kids camps, birthday parties, family get togethers and all sorts in the past. I'm sure I will need to in the future, too.

So, given that it's likely you'll end up running games at some point in your life, how do you know what games to run?

Really, the best way I've found to find good games is to watch closely when others are running games and you're a participator. 

That way you can easily and quickly see if it works. How it's run. How it plays out in a group setting. What the group thinks of it. What group size it works with. And the best thing? It becomes tried-and-true.

Of course, you can go through a games book and pick out a couple that sound good. But you don't know how well they'll work because you haven't tried them before.

Whenever you're a participator and someone else is running games, take careful notice of what games they play. If you finish the game thinking, "that was fun!", "that was a good game!" or "I wanted to keep playing that game", you've quite possibly found a new game to add to your list of good games.

Now that I've just been preaching that the best way to find good games is to find them in real life, I'm going to give you a list of my favourite games. :P Haha.

Maybe you've heard them, maybe you haven't, but here are my top seven favourite games to run.

1. Ball Through Legs (I don't know it's actual name)
Group size: Any
Agility level: Somewhat high
Equipment needed: A ball

All participants, facing outwards, stand in a circle. Each participant has their feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Everyone must be touching the feet of his or her neighbour so the circle is continuous and there aren't any gaps in the circle of feet apart from in between the legs of individual players.
The aim of the game is to try and get the ball to go through the legs of another player, while keeping it away from the gap between your legs. Everyone is facing outwards of course, and they can only use their hands to push the ball around. As soon as the ball goes through someone's legs from inside the circle to outside the circle, that player is out. When someone is out, the circle must be closed up tighter.
Works well with vigorous people and can be quite hilarious because when you're facing outward with your hands in front of you so the ball doesn't go through your legs, it can be hard to see what's going on with the ball in the circle!

2. Empires
Group size: Between about 10 and 30ish would work best
Agility level: None needed
Equipment needed: Slip of paper for each player, pen for each player

Each player sits around the room. Everyone writes on their paper a secret name for themselves. It could be anything - Cleopatra, Gerald, Ferdinand, the name of someone in the room, whatever. All the papers are then folded and given to someone (best to be the player who won't know anyone's handwriting; or an innocent bystander). That someone reads out each name, one by one. Everyone tries to remember as many names as possible. The list of names is read twice. Then someone begins the guessing.
The aim of the game is to build your own 'empire' by correctly guessing which fake name belongs to which player.
For example, I might say to Danella, "Danella, are you 'Herbert'?" If Danella's secret name wasn't Herbert, Danella would then be able to guess. If, however, I had guessed correctly, Danella would leave her seat and come sit next to me. She would have become part of my empire. I could then have another turn.
While my own secret name remains unguessed,  I am able to guess others and add them to my empire. As soon as my name is guessed, me and my whole empire of people I have guessed go and join the empire of the person who found out my secret identity.
The winner is the person who stays right to the end and remains unguessed. They will end up with the entire group of players in their empire.
This is a truly great game. :) Definitely one of my favourites!

3. Balloon Stomp
Group size: Any - more is better!
Agility level: High
Equipment needed: Piece of string (1-2 feet long) and a balloon for each player

Each player blows up a balloon and attaches it to their ankle using the piece of string. Upon the game beginning, players must run around and try to stomp on everyone's balloons using their feet. If your balloon is stomped on, you are out. Of course, each player is trying to get others out while protecting his or her own balloon. The last player with an intact balloon is the winner.
This is always a high-energy game that is rather fun to watch.

4. Taco, Nacho, Burrito
Group size: Any
Agility level: Low
Equipment needed: None

All players stand in a group with the leader in front of them, like in Simon Says (I'm going to assume you know how to play that one!). The leader turns around so his or her back is to the group. Each player standing in the main group then individually chooses and assumes a position - either Taco, Nacho or Burrito.
Taco = Arms out to the side
Nacho = Hands above head with fingertips touching forming the point of a triangle
Burrito = Forearms together up against chest
When the group is all in a position, the leader quickly chooses and assumes a position also and turns round to face the group. Each player who is in the same position as the leader is out and must sit down. The game is played as many times as it takes to whittle the group of standing players down to one, who is the winner.
This is a great game and works well with people of any age. Warning: it doesn't take very long! Don't play it if you're looking for a long game.

5. Plain Clothes Man
Group size: Any reasonable size
Agility level: High
Equipment needed: Handkerchief or small object

One player goes out of the room, while the others stand in a fair-sized circle, putting a handkerchief or small object on the floor in the middle. They also settle upon one of their number to be the plain clothes man.
The one from outside is then called in; he is of course ignorant of the identity of the detective. His aim is to snatch up the object from the middle of the ring and escape without being touched. Those forming the circle must be careful to stand sufficiently far apart to allow fair gaps between each two players. As soon as the thief has picked up the object, but not before, the plain clothes man may spring after him and try to touch him, but if both thief and plunder get to the outside of the ring then they are safe.
I haven't actually tried this game myself yet (I know, shocking!) but it sounds like a really good game and I'm planning to try it. I have a friend who has tried it and said it works great, so it is tried and true. :P

6. Picture and Sentence
Group size: Upwards of four or so, large numbers don't matter at all
Agility level: None
Equipment needed: A strip of paper and a pen/pencil per player

The game begins with each player writing a short sentence or phrase at the top of their strip of paper. It could be anything, from "The apple has a worm in it" to "I can't tell the time".
Then the papers are passed around to the next player, which direction it doesn't matter, as long as the direction is the same the whole game. We usually pass the paper to the player on our right.
Each player then looks at the sentence on his new paper and draws a picture of the sentence underneath it. If it was my first example, for example, I would draw an apple with a worm in it. Then the sentence is folded back so only the picture can be seen, and the papers are passed once more.
Each player then looks at the picture and writes a sentence below it describing the picture. When that is done, they fold the picture back so only the sentence is visible and pass it on again.
The game continues in this vein. If a picture is visible, you write a sentence; is a sentence is visible, you draw a picture. The pictures don't have to be incredible- stick figures are always good! :)
When you've filled up the whole strip of paper and you get to the bottom, the game ends. Unfold the papers and pass them around for general enjoyment. No one wins but everyone wins. I guess it's not such a 'game' as such but I'm putting it in the list because it's really good still. The papers are often hilariously funny.
This one is a favourite in my family. It's especially great to play with friends.

7. Continuous Tag
Group size: Any - the more players, the longer the game will go for.
Agility level: High
Equipment needed: None

This is a game of tag where every player is in. The only way to tag someone is to touch them below the knee. The rules are simple: If you are tagged below the knee, you are out for the time being and must sit down where you were tagged. Then you watch the person who tagged you. When someone else tags them, you are allowed up again and can run around tagging others below the knee as before. Basically, if you're tagged, you're down, if the person who tagged you is down, you're up.
It's called Continuous Tag because it keeps going - players popping up and down all the time.  The only way to win is to tag every player, hence the game is more difficult with more players. You will likely find it keeps going on forever because none of the players can tag everyone - so stop it when you see fit.

And there you go! My seven favourite games. I tried to pick ones you may not have heard of before.

Also, to completely change the subject, Danella and I are going on an overseas missions trip for three and a half weeks leaving on the 13th of November. Annnnnd given that I probably won't have much internet access (also I will be kind of busy) and that I haven't scheduled ANY posts to cover that period, you get to have a break from posts being posted on Bonnie's Blessings for a month or so!

So, I hope you have a fantastic month and that you don't miss me too much... and I'll tell you about the trip when I get back!

(Also this is my 550th post!!!)

God bless you! (Also what are your favourite games?) Wow that was a lot of 'Also's.
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Monday, 9 November 2015

Your Man Needs Prayer

Someday, Lord willing, I hope to marry a wonderful Christian man.

I believe in the power of prayer. I also believe that each of us can do with as much prayer as possible! :)

Since at the moment I don't know who this wonderful Christian man is, I think it's a good idea to pray for him (okay, okay, I'd still pray for him even if I did know who he was). He might be going through hard times. He might not even be a Christian at this exact moment. Whoever he is and wherever he's at, I think it's a good idea to pray for him. So I do.

Over the past year or so, I've been writing letters to my husband-of-the-future. I've been writing them and then putting them all into a special box which I hope to present to my husband one day. And, just recently, I've started writing down some of my prayers for him and popping them into the box, too.

Some people are into notes and stuff. Others aren't. Whether I marry someone who likes encouraging notes and letters or not, I think he'll still appreciate it! Besides, there's something so special about being prayed for. And I'd love to receive prayers that had been prayed for me years before! Who wouldn't?

I wouldn't normally put this sort of thing on my blog. But I was writing one of my prayers for my future husband down and it struck me that maybe there might be some girls out there who would like to do it, too, only, they haven't thought of it yet.

You can never start too young! Why not start today, if you feel like that's something you'd like to do. It doesn't have to be elaborate. Just from your heart. Your heart's desire for your future husband... prayers that his walk with the Lord would be strong.... anything really.

There's some lovely inspiration for prayers and things on this website. I also really love the book 'The Power of a Praying Wife' by Stormie Omartian. Sure, it's about wives praying for their husbands, but I don't see any reason us girls can't get a head start on the praying by starting early!!!!!! :)

And for you young men reading this - feel free to do the same if you're so inclined. I don't think I know any young lady who wouldn't be enormously blessed receiving handwritten-with-love prayers for them from before the young man even knew who she was!

May you be richly blessed today! :)
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Friday, 6 November 2015

A + A // Such an exciting $5 note

- Having one of those awkward days when you drop just about everything you pick up, dirty just about every article of clothing you wear and stuff up many of the sentences you say.
- Being asked directions to somewhere you don't know.
- Knowing someone's name, but saying the wrong name because your brain decided to pop that in the sentence to surprise you.
- Being given wrong information to find something so not being able to find it.
- When you're making a customer's sandwich and they creepily stare at you the whole time. Most people look at the sandwich I'm making, but this guy watched ME the. entire. time. Totally weird (and it makes you wonder if a gigantic iguana lizard is sitting on your head and making faces at the guy).
- Discovering new ways to accidentally embarrass yourself in public that you hadn't discovered previously.
- Walking along and watching something so intently on one side of you you bang into a stationary object in front of you.
- Being so tired you ask the same question about four times because you couldn't remember the answer given.
- Driving home from something late at night with your sister, and you come to an intersection and wonder which way to go. You reckon you should go right, your sister reckons left. She turns right (for some reason - she should have known my sense of direction is really bad!) and you go down that street for a while and eventually decide you are now well and truly lost. This happened more than once on that same drive back home.
- When two people are casually talking about something really interesting and you want to join in their conversation... but they're two strangers and probably wouldn't like some random person joining in!
- Discovering your littlest sister getting into the banana box something like the fourth time in one day.That girl is an absolute banana addict and doesn't take any notice of consequences!

- Being able to casually pun. Case in point:
Coworker (busily tying up a rubbish bag): "Hey, look, a bean bag. This looks comfy."
You: "That looks comfy?! Rubbish!" ;)
- Waking up when it's light outside and going for an early morning walk. There's something special and sort of magical about the world in the early morning.
- Getting to see and bring home one of the new $5 notes (New Zealand is changing the look of some of its money). It looks pretty cool.
- The Bible in 50 words:

- My newest favourite quote, from a Winnie the Pooh book by A.A. Milne:
“Supposing a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?'
'Supposing it didn't,' said Pooh after careful thought.
- Spending time with the Lord and coming away from it feeling completely refreshed. :)
- Beautiful colours in nature. God made us an amazing world!
- Finishing off a packet of something ON THE DAY OF ITS EXPIRY.
- Going shoe shopping and finding nice shoes that you like, that are comfortable, and that are on sale for a rather good price.
- When you say something and someone else says exactly the same thing at exactly the same time. It's quite a neat feeling, really.
- Finding money you didn't even know you lost

What is your favourite quote?
If you're a New Zealander, have you seen the new currency yet?
Had anything super awkward or awesome happen to you lately?
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Tuesday, 3 November 2015

From Access to Kingship

I want each of you to imagine a house in your mind's eye.

It can be any house. Your house, your dream house, a palace, a mud hut, whatever. Decorate it however you like, whether you want to have soft leather couches in the living rooms or ornate carved pillars in the formal hallway. You choose.

This house represents your heart.

After you've had your house for a while, it gets a bit dirty. Some cobwebs start appearing up by the corners of the ceilings. Dust gathers on the windowsills. The sheets on the beds get a bit dirty. Maybe sticky liquid gets spilled on those soft leather couches.

And we start to notice the dirt. We don't like dirt in the houses of our hearts. So we try to fix it ourselves. Maybe we try to sweep up the cobwebs. We might wash the sheets. But the dirt keeps coming back, and no matter what we do we just can't get the stain off those soft leather couches!

And all the time while we're trying to frantically clean up our house, a professionally trained cleaner is standing, knocking, at the door. Eventually we get sick of all the dirt everywhere and invite the cleaner in to our hearts. The cleaner's name is Jesus.

But lots of us stop there. We invite him in and show him into the kitchen. We politely give him a seat and show him the dirty stove top and fridge, which he lovingly helps us clean. Then he sits down at the kitchen table for a while and waits for us to talk to him and tell him where you would like cleaning. We awkwardly stand there, hoping he doesn't ask to see the living room, with those stained couches and dusty mantelpieces.

Jesus helps us clean where we ask him to, he mops the muddy kitchen floor and even ventures out into the foyer (at our request) to mop out there, too.

Our kitchen's nice and clean. But the whole house of our conscience is still rather dirty, because we haven't granted him access to our entire house!

You see, we shouldn't grant Jesus just access to the domain of our hearts. We must grant him ultimate kingship. 

We must give him the key to the cleaning cupboard, then step back and say, "Lord, you have complete reign over my entire heart. Clean my house. I don't want to live with the dust and dirt of my sin anymore. Cleanse me completely - I want to be clean. Do whatever it takes, no matter how painful the process is."

We must surrender our cherished cleaning cupboard key. Because he is a gentleman and will politely wait for us to tell him what we want him to clean. But He is so much more effective in our lives if we allow him to cleanse us completely and purify us utterly... from all sin.... not just the sin we're not uncomfortable about!

Give Him ultimate kingship and reign and access over ALL your heart. Don't just give him little bits here and there. That implies you're still in charge. Make him in charge. Give him the responsibility. He is a cleaner like no other.

Psalm 51:2
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.

Hebrews 9:14
How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Psalm 51:10
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

No matter how embarrassed you are to give him the key of your cleaning cupboard, knowing full well how stained your soft leather couches are, give him the key. Throw wide your doors and let the light in to your house.

Give him kingship. Not just access.
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PS. I'm back!! I know you missed me terribly :P

Saturday, 31 October 2015


I got all I need when I got you and I
I look around me, and see a sweet life
I'm stuck in the dark but you're my flashlight
You're getting me, getting me through the night
Can't stop my heart when you shinin' in my eyes
I can't lie, it's a sweet life...

- From 'Flashlight' by Jessie J

This song continues on the main theme. When I first heard it, I kind of figured it was probably written about a relationship between a girl and a guy (or a woman and a man, whichever way you want to look at it). It's the sort of song people write nowdays. About how a relationship (the perfect relationship, no less) and being in love will make you happy and complete you.

I got all I need when I got you and I
I look around me, and see a sweet life

It sounds like such a nice, box-of-fluffy-ducks thought, doesn't it. Doesn't it? It does to me. :) A girl and a guy, together, in the perfect relationship, happy and fulfilled in each other. Aah, how nice. Surely this is how relationships work.

Hang on a minute. Maybe we should have a bit more of a think about this.

I got all I need when I got you and I

Excuse me? You what?
Since when did finding a flawed human being to attach yourself to gave you everything you need?

On the surface they sound like such nice, innocent lyrics. But they aren't.

This song - and countless songs and movies and media presentations like this one - are very responsible for society being what it is today.

You see, we hear songs like this and think, oh, the reason I'm not happy is because I don't have a boy/girl to love me. I'm not happy because I don't have a 'you and I'. But do you know why that's dangerous thinking?

Because it isn't true.

You get into a relationship. You get a 'you and I'. You will very quickly discover that being in a relationship does not make you fulfilled. Being in love does not mean you are complete. The other person will not, and cannot, complete you.

Because that's just how it works. You are flawed. So is the other person. (Spoiler alert: this fact is absolutely guaranteed.) Being in love will be absolutely wonderful, sure. But it will not be the fulfillment of everything. It will not make you a complete person.

Ladies and gentlemen, the only thing that can complete you, the only thing that can fill that empty, aching hole in your heart... is our Lord. God created you with a hole that only He can fill. People search everywhere for things to fill their holes... but they search in the wrong places. They think being in love will complete them, fill their hole, make them happy. And then they are surprised when it doesn't work that way.

Because in a relationship you must give all of yourself. You have to work at it. It's a journey. Give 110%, every day. And if you think marriage will be easy? Think again. (Read this blog post. It's brilliant.)

So what am I trying to say in all this? I guess I'm trying to say how foolish it is to get all wrapped up in lyrics like the lyrics to 'Flashlight'. They're nice lyrics. But whatever you do, don't expect all your troubles to magically end as soon as you fall in love.

One thing I thought of was the fact that the lyrics to 'Flashlight' could just as easily be sung about Jesus as about anyone else. No really, it's true. See -

I got all I need when I got you and I
I look around me, and see a sweet life
I'm stuck in the dark but you're my flashlight
You're getting me, getting me through the night
Can't stop my heart when you shinin' in my eyes
I can't lie, it's a sweet life...

I got all I need when I got you and I - yes, yes, yes! If we have God, our life is complete. Fulfilled. We have everything we need. So true. Philippians 4:19 "And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus."

I look around me and see a sweet life - yup. God is faithful. Life truly is wonderful when you're following the Lord. :) Psalm 36:5 "Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds."

I'm stuck in the dark but you're my flashlight - John 8:12 "When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." Jesus is the light of the world. He's definitely a flashlight, only brighter!

You're getting me, getting me through the night - When God is with us, we can go through anything. Job 1:21 "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised." He gets us through any darkness, night or trials we may go through.

Can't stop my heart when you shinin' in my eyes - God is absolutely wonderful. As the hymn says, "Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small; love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all." We could never express the magnitude of our love for him... and that could never compare to the magnitude of God's love for us.

I can't lie, it's a sweet life... - We have been greatly blessed. Lamentations 3:22-23 "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."

What do you think of when you hear the song 'Flashlight'?
Doesn't it make you so grateful when you think of all the Lord's wonderful blessings? :)
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Wednesday, 28 October 2015


Art. Aaaah, what a lovely thing. The ability to express one's thoughts by putting lines on paper. How nice.

One of my lovely readers (yes, I'm talking about you, Ashley) asked me if I could do a tutorial on how I do my art. First I was like, "sure!". Then I was like, well, I have no idea what sort of art I should do a tutorial on, and besides, doing videos are SUPER annoying (this is why I rarely *read: never* post videos) because they take literally forever to upload. So I'm going to do a post on art, sort of chatting about how I like to produce my art and maybe giving you a couple of tips here and there.
Firstly I'd just like to say that I'm in no way an expert artist. I am learning a lot as I go along, and I think that's really the best way to learn. There's no one way to draw. I'm just doing my best, hopefully producing elephants that look somewhat like elephants, and having lots of fun in the process.
Speaking of elephants, look who we have here!

Behold, you have before your eyes the first official peek into my sketch book. :P
The reason I'm showing you one or two sketch book pages is because I wanted to use my sketch book to illustrate (ten points if you get the pun) my first point.

Point Number 1:
The most important and helpful thing you can do to improve your art is to (yeah, you guessed it) PRACTICE!!!!

You know what they say - practice makes perfect. The only way to improve is to practice.
I'm always drawing. I'll be sketching the backs of people's heads while on the bus (case in point: First drawing on the left page of the photo on the right just above) and all sorts. I'm really lucky that there are great resources out there. One book I've been enjoying lately is How To Draw Everything, by Barrington Barber (note, if you get this book, you'll have to be a bit careful because some of the drawings in it are unnecessarily detailed, especially when it comes to the human body, if you know what I mean). It does have a lot of other great stuff in it though.

The violin drawing on the left page above was done on the morning of a big orchestra concert. The orchestra was all tuned up and was waiting to be called down to the wings of the stage. I was sitting by my violin case so decided to just sketch my violin sitting in the case. An example of how you really can draw anything, anywhere. And really, anything is a great opportunity to practice your skills.

Right, now we'll move on from that little illustration (you know I'm quite proud of that pun, don't you). I'd like to talk about my favourite art supplies (or rather, the art supplies I have, with a commentary on the pros and cons of each supply).

The best thing you can have is this. A book in which to sketch in. Or paper. Any paper will do. Goodness, even dirt will do (you can use a stick to scratch with, if that's how you're planning on doing it). Just find something to use to draw on.

And, just as importantly, find something you can use to draw with. As long as you have something to draw on and something to draw with, you're really all set. Everything else is just extra. (Even the rubber and sharpener aren't completely necessary. Well I guess the sharpener is unless your pencil somehow magically self-sharpens.)

  The next two art supplies on the list are the coloured pencils and watercolour paints. Coloured pencils are great for if you want to colour something in. You have lots of control over what you're putting on the paper, how you're doing it, and the final outcome that is going to be made.

Watercolour paints have the advantage of being really easy to use and spreadable. I love these things. They are in fact, great for backgrounds, for when you want pastel colours, light colours, for when you have a big area to paint and don't want to waste acrylic paint, and just for when you want the outcome to be smooth and beautiful. With watercolours, you mix the paint with water, then brush it onto the page. It really makes a little paint go a long way. I love watercolours, personally. They are so versatile.

Next we have acrylic paints and brushes. (Note: brushes are also useful for watercolour painting.)
Acrylics. Hmmm.. Acrylics are great for when you're doing a detailed scene. Say, I'm painting a flower and I want it to really stand out. I'd use acrylic paints. They don't go as far as watercolours do, because you use the paint by itself. You can mix the colours more easily and make a wide variety. Acrylics are more difficult to make a nice outcome with, maybe easier to mess up.  
And the brushes. Brushes are great. Great for painting.

 The next category of art supplies I'm going to be talking about are pens. Now, if you're not really into artist pens, feel free to skip this bit. If you are, or are curious, read on.
The above are my favourite pens. They are Staedtler fineliners. They are smooth, easy to use, beautiful, come in a wide range of colours (I only have four but would love all the colours haha!) and are so fine. Fineliners are fantastic. They can be used for absolutely anything!! I've used them for decorating my Bible, writing letters, underlining, creating sketchnotes, creating art... really, anything. These things are fantastic.

Ah. These things. On the left we have some Faber Castell Pitt pens. These guys are really awesome. I purchased these tentatively because I wanted some artist pens and didn't really know where to start. It was a good choice.
I have them in four sizes - Bold, Medium, Fine and Small. They are all fineliners, apart from the Bold, which actually has a brush tip. Actually maybe the B stands for Brush, not Bold... anyway I digress! The Brush one is a great option if you want to get into brush pens. The only thing is, it's quite thick and will become worn down really quickly if you press hard. Be careful. The other three are nice. It's great having the different sizes to choose from when lettering.

On the right we have a gold metallic calligraphy pen. I'm not too sure why I bought this, seeing as though I don't use it much. I'd rather have had the silver one, to be honest! Still, I really like how it has two ends, a thick end and a thinner calligraphy end. It is a lovely pen and I have nothing against it, I just don't find it too useful for my purposes!

And last but definitely not least is my Kuretake Zig Calligraphy 2.0 pen. This is pretty cool. It is a proper calligraphy pen, with a lovely end and making a nice line. If you want to try calligraphy or just want a really cool pen, this is a great option. Just be warned though, this particular pen seems to be water based so be really careful if you're using it with watercolor paints or similar.

My biggest piece of art advice, is, as you'll probably remember,

I don't care how you do it, just do it. Actually doing art is so valuable. Drawing, painting, sketching, doodling... it's all very pleasureable and what's more, you'll improve the more you do.

You don't need a bunch of supplies. Pencil and paper is awesome. Anything else is really just extra. You do not need a whole lot of pens, either. I just happen to be a bit of a pen collector. It's quite terrible really.

I'm sorry, Ashley, this didn't really end up being a tutorial, did it! Forgive me!
If anyone would like any specific art 'advice' and you feel I may be able to provide it (who knows, miracles may happen), feel free to leave a comment.

Other than that, have a fantabulous day, and I shall catch you later.
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