Friday, 31 July 2015

Happy birthday, Sophie!

Today I'd like to wish a wonderfully happy 15th birthday to my beautiful sister, Sophie!

Sophie Elizabeth is the fourth child in our family. 

She's very gentle and peaceful, and is such a wonderful and sweet sister. She's a helper with a real servant's heart. She's always doing something sweet to help - whether it's making a pastry quiche for lunch, doing someone else's chores for them, reading books to the younger siblings or playing with Jana. 

She has a wonderful relationship with the Lord and has a heart to serve Him and tell others about Him. Most Sunday afternoons she goes out witnessing at a mall in town with some friends from Church. 

She's such a blessing to me, full of joy and fun. 

Sophie, I hope you have an absolutely incredible year being 15! Keep chasing Jesus! I love you so, so, so much!
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Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Fear of the Future

I was talking to a friend a few months ago, and I was surprised to discover that he was actually afraid of the future at times. I was only surprised because I suffered from that same fear (and still do, sometimes) not very long ago.

I meant to post this sooner, but I actually forgot all about it. Sorry! I don't know how many others out there are afraid of the future, but for those who are, I hope this is helpful in some small way.

My fear of the future consisted of being worried whenever I'd hear someone reading in the book of Revelation. I didn't like hearing about the antichrist, or verses where it talked about anything bad happening to the church. I got worried when I thought about what might happen in the future. Because I like to know what's going to happen. And I don't know what's going to happen in the future.

It got so bad that I'd purposefully try not to think about the future. If I heard someone talking about it, I'd purposefully try not to listen because I didn't want to hear about it and be scared. I didn't think of it as a 'fear' as such, just something I didn't like to think about.

Until I realized it was a full-blown fear. I'd blown it way out of proportion. Sure, some uncomfortable things may end up happening to me, and sure, I might not like them very much, but the truth of the matter is that God is in control, whatever happens. And I can trust Him. It sounds so easy and simple, and it's difficult to believe because we like to have our fingers in every pie, so to speak. We like to have our futures under our control.

And something we have to accept is that our future is not in our control. If we have a fear about the future, the only way we will be delivered from the fear is to speak the truth. And the truth in this situation is that God is in control. We have to accept that He's in charge. We have to give him the reigns and say, "Lord, I have a fear of my future. I'm struggling to trust you and I'm struggling to trust that you have a good plan for my future. I'm struggling to accept everything you have planned for me.  But I want to trust you. Help me to trust you and give me a peace that whatever happens comes from you. Replace all my wrong thoughts with the truth. I choose to believe in the truth of your word no matter what my mind tells me. I love you and know that you have a good plan for my life. Amen."

You might not feel very confident after praying that prayer. But you'll need to consciously pray something along those lines every time you experience fear or doubt about the future. Every time you face fear, pray, give the fear to God, and leave it with him. He can handle it. And then eventually, when you think of it, you'll feel peace, because you'll know he's in charge.

Something I did when I had fear of the future is to write up a whole lot of inspiring verses about not being afraid, and having peace through trusting Jesus. Then I'd go back through the list of verses (I have them sitting here in front of me, actually) and read them aloud, declaring the promises of Jesus. That helped me not feel so fearful. My list is like three whole pages long.

Maybe doing something like that will help for you. Here are five or six of my very favourite 'do not fear' verses, copied straight off the list in front of me.

Psalm 3:4
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.

Exodus 14:13-14
Moses answered the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.

Deut 31:6
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you, he will never leave you nor forsake you.

Psalm 27:1-3
The Lord is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid? When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.

Daniel 10:19
"Do not be afraid, O man highly esteemed," he said. "Peace! Be strong now; be strong."

Isaiah 43:1-3
Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

Isaiah 26:3
You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts you.

In summary, here's my list of things I recommend to do when you feel fear for the future (or any fear of anything at all, for that matter!)

  • Pray, give your fear to the Lord, and ask Him to fill you with His peace.
  • Go into Scripture. Read over your list of encouraging and inspiring verses for situations like this.
  • Believe the truth. Don't tell yourself that the future is scary, because it isn't. I heard somewhere that worry is fear of the future without God in it.
  • Know that others before you have struggled with this. I have, and still do, sometimes.
  • Remember that  no matter what happens, God's in charge, and he will never let you down.
  • Put a smile on your face and go to meet your fears with the confidence that God's sovereignty brings!

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Sunday, 26 July 2015

What is True Worship?

The following are the main points of a devotion I wrote and presented to the group of leaders at the camp I attended recently.  :)


What is true worship?
To find out what true worship is, it is first helpful to ask ourselves what it isn't.

True worship is not:
  • Us trying to get God to do what we want by bargaining with Him e.g.“If you do what I want, I’ll worship you.”
It doesn't work like that. God is the one in charge, not us. Who are we to bargain with the great and mighty King of the universe? We owe Him so much. We are in no position to bargain with God.

  • Something we do because we feel like we should.
Worship should never be done out of the wrong motives, such as guilt or shame. We must worship the Lord because we love Him for who He is, not because we feel guilty that we haven't gone to Church for three Sundays in a row!

  • Something we do because that’s what good ‘spiritual Christians’ do.
Nobody is perfect. If we look at others and secretly feel bad because we're not as good as them, it makes us the judge, not God. God is the judge and He's the only true judge. He sees our hearts. If we are worshipping out of a desire to glorify God for who He is, then that's all that matters. It shouldn't be something we do because that's what you're supposed to do as a Christian.

  • A ticket to get to Heaven
If we live sinful lives during the week, turn up at Church, sing a few songs and go home again to our normal lives, then expect God to let us into Heaven because we worship once a week, wow, we're mistaken. Worship is not a ticket to get to Heaven. The only ticket to Heaven is Christ. 

  • Something we do because we feel like it.
As I talk about a wee bit later on, sometimes the times when we feel the least like praising the Lord are the times when we need to the most. We should never worship only because we're in 'the right' mood!

  • Us worshipping our own gods that we’ve made for ourselves
This isn't talking about making a little wooden image and bowing down to it. This is talking about the fact that sometimes we can intentionally or unintentionally create a god for ourselves, by taking our God, then ascribing to Him attributes that are convenient to us but that are foreign to His true nature. This is making a false god. And when we worship a god we've created for ourselves based on who we'd like him to be not who He actually is,  our True God doesn't get the praise.

  • Something we do so the people around us will think better of us, or a chance for us to impress the people on either side of us with our beautiful voices.
Sorry, but you shouldn't be singing loudly and lustily so the people ten rows behind you will be impressed. Sing loudly and lustily because you're singing with all your heart and you're meaning what you're saying!

I'm sure you can all think of many, many more things that true worship isn't. So can I, but let's leave that topic for now, and have a wee look at some of the things that true worship is. :)

True worship is:

  • A heart to heart conversation between you and a Holy God.
Psalm 99:5
Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his footstool; he is holy.

Worship is a conversation. When you’re singing songs, the words in those songs is your prayer to God. How often do you actually think about the words you are singing? Or do you just sing mindlessly the words you've sung fifty times before, without thinking of what you're actually singing, and making it your personal prayer to God?

  • Honest and truthful. 
John 4:23-24
Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.

Sometimes we have our own agendas when we come before God. We want Him to do something for us. But we have to learn to lay aside our own agendas and desires and just praise Him for the wonderful God that he is. We’ve got to worship Him in spirit, so with the right motives, and in truth, so honestly pouring out our hearts to him, leaving nothing hidden or behind.

  • Free, not bound by rules
Isaiah 29:13
The Lord says: "These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.

True worship is a freeing thing. It’s coming to God bare and broken, if necessary. It’s giving up everything. It's not bound by the rules of the Church telling us how we should worship. Or the rules of anyone else, for that matter. It's not restricted whatsoever.

  • Born out of the desire to do nothing more than to just glorify our heavenly Father.
Psalm 34:1-3 (emphasis mine)
I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.

Even in the hard times, as well as in the good times, God is still God, and he remains the same, the same wonderful, holy God, who still loves our worship. I believe it is our privilege to praise God no matter what’s going on. 
Worshipping God when you’re at your lowest point is not an easy thing to do. And I can speak from experience when I say that, because I've been there. But there’s something truly special about that place when you come to God, absolutely broken, having nothing left, and truly worship Him, regardless of what's going on.

I’d like to close with two quotes on worship that I absolutely love.

John MacArthur: “Worship is our innermost being responding with praise for all that God is, through our attitudes, actions, thoughts, and words, based on the truth of God as He has revealed Himself”. Or, he gives a simpler definition: “Worship is all that we are, reacting rightly to all that He is”

William Temple: “To worship is to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God, to feed the mind with the truth of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty of God, to open the heart to the love of God, and to devote the will to the purpose of God”.

May you be greatly blessed! :)
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Friday, 24 July 2015

Bonnie's Terrific Travel Tips

I often help lead and run kid's camps during the school holidays. I also go on holiday with my family once a year or so. There are other miscellaneous home absences, too, of course.

When I go away from home, there are a few little travelling tricks that I use to make the most out of the space I have in my bag. Being able to travel light(ish) is a very useful skill. I'd like to share my favourite tips with you today. 

Terrific Travel Tip #1

You know these little things? Tic Tac containers? Turns out they are absolutely perfect for putting bobby pins into.

Not only does it make for easy storage, a Tic Tac container has just the right size lid for putting into and taking out bobby pins. Give the container a shake and one or two will fall out. They don't all fall out at once. Even better, although it's only a tiny container, you can still fit quite a decent amount of bobby pins in there.

Terrific Travel Tip #2

Shampoo and conditioner bottles are so annoying to pack if you haven't got much space in your bag. Guess what? Empty, washed pill bottles are the perfect substitute. 
Just tip some shampoo into the empty pill bottle, screw the lid on and you're sorted. I've found that if you fill them right up, they hold enough shampoo for three to four washes. Of course, you may not be able to get that number out of them, or you may be able to get more. I use them for hand cream /moisturiser as well, just make sure you label the bottles so you don't put hand cream in your hair!

Terrific Travel Tip #3

Make a packing list so you don't forget anything. I can't tell you how useful that is. It always shocks me how many people don't make packing lists, and then wonder why they forget stuff! I go on similar camps most school holidays, and I have a master packing list on the computer that I can just print out whenever I want to pack. Saves me so much time and makes sure I forget nothing.

Don't forget to put on your list things like chapstick, a little mirror, spare batteries for your torch and lots of plastic bags (because plastic bags always come in handy), extra pens, rubber bands and useful small containers. Little things like that are often forgotten and much regretted! Also, band-aids are very useful to have with you. And a pack of cards can be useful if you're going somewhere with friends and there's the slightest chance you might be bored.

Terrific Travel Tip #4

Plan what outfits you are going to wear on what days, and then pack only those outfits plus one spare outfit. It might sound like a silly idea, but trust me, it saves SO MUCH space in your bag!

Rather than just packing all your stuff, or not packing enough clothing and then regretting it, this method makes sure you'll have enough clothing... but not too much, so it frees up space in your bag. Of course, extra stuff like thermals and beanies and socks will have to be packed still, but it helps eliminating the "oh no I only packed two pairs of jeans, and I wish I'd packed four!" dilemma. 

Another thing, too, roll your clothes up. It takes up less room and makes them less creased. Socks and smaller items of clothing like that can also be rolled up and stuffed inside pairs of shoes.

That's all for today, folks! What are your favourite travel tips?
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Wednesday, 22 July 2015

I Love You

I Love You

I suffered, I bled, I gave up my life
Because of my great love for you
And with my dying breath I gasped out
“My child, I love you so.”

Do I not thirst in my soul to know you?
Do I not long for your heart?
Have I not wished for eternity long
My great love for you to impart?

I’ve held your name inside my thoughts
Since before the beginning of time
Have I not longed to envelop your soul
To hug you, and make your name mine?

My business is patching up shattered hearts
And giving you life to the full
I love to clear up sinner’s debts
Oh, will you not answer my call?

My dear, dear child, this choice is yours
And this new life is utterly free
I replenish, restore, rescue and redeem
How I’d love you to come to me.

written on the 19th of July 2015
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Monday, 20 July 2015

Guest Post by Tiffany // Making Old New

Quite a while ago I had this idea for getting round the 'I have no clothes to wear' problem and I thought it was pretty inspiring so I thought I'd share it with you. It's quite a lot of fun as well!

Ok, so for starters you're going to want take all of the clothes out of your drawer and lie them neatly on a flat surface (like a bed) Put them into four-five categories; tops, pants, skirts, sweat shirts etc. You can get real fancy with this and put them in colour groups, length, style groups whatever.

Then grab one item of clothing (say a top) and move it over to your pants group, and try and find something that goes with it.

You might be surprised with some of the combinations. And once you've got something, write it down (or take a photo) then try again, see if the top will go with anything else -does it look better with these jeans? Or is there too much solid colour?

This is also a good way of seeing any colours that you have too much of (read black) and opens you up to different ways of dressing. It also helps you cull some stuff, because if it doesn't go with anything you might as well chuck it!

The next step is to accessorize, scarves are especially good as you they add pattern -something all stylists recommend.

Don't be afraid to try something new! Clothing looks very different on the wearer, and now that you've written it down it's only going to take a second to try it on. And if you don't like it that's fine, you now have plenty more options!

One of my favourite combinations

Building an outfit from the other night

The finished result

And here's my littlest sister with her creation.

So as you can see it's really easy and fun to do... you can even do it in little bits at a time!

About the Author // Tiffany Henry
Tiffany Henry lives in rural south Island NZ, where she works as a caterer and is studying towards a degree in midwifery. She loves sewing historical costumes, writing and discussing thought provoking topics. She is the eldest of three home-schooled girls. 
You can find Tiffany on her personal blog and on pinterest.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Some cuteness for your day

Jana's 17 months old now, and growing cuter by the day. I thought it might be fun to video her 'performing' her cuteness for you all! :) So here we have Jana, in several videos. Enjoy!

(Also please excuse her black eye - she fell off a chair and managed to injure herself a few days ago...)


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PS. I'm back from camp now! :)

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Happy birthday, Ben!

Today I'd like to wish a very happy 13th birthday to my wonderful brother, Ben!

Ben's the firstborn son in our family, and the fifth child overall. 

He's a wonderful example to his younger brothers and sisters.

He's always willing to play with someone, or think up some new exciting thing for everyone to do together. He is practical and loves getting out there and doing stuff.

 Ben, as you enter your teenage years, my prayer for you is that your heart will grow ever closer and closer to Jesus. Remember that He is always there and will never fail.

I love you very much, Benjamin bunny rabbit!! :) Happy birthday!
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Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Happy birthday, Danella!!

Today I'd like to wish a very, extremely, happy 16th birthday to my wonderful sister, Danella.

Danella's the third oldest in our family; one down from me, and has always been an incredible sister. She's such a sweet girl, always ready to help out with anything!

Danella has an inspiring relationship with the Lord.

She's servant hearted and full of fun.

Danella's been there for me through thick and through thin. She's always ready to laugh, listen to my silly jokes and play card games with me. :P We make a great team and balance each other out.

Danella, I hope you have an absolutely amazing birthday. May you continue to be the wonderfully amazing girl that you are. May the Lord bless you greatly.

Happy sweet 16th!
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Sunday, 12 July 2015

Hair Tutorial: Simple French Braid

So today I am presenting to you a slightly 'easier' hair tutorial - well, easy if you're a hair whiz! I've only been able to french braid for a few years, and I would have really appreciated a tutorial like this when I was first starting out in the 'hair do-ing' world. If you're already a hair ninja, sit back, relax, and enjoy the photos (just be glad you didn't see me trying to hold the hair and take the photos at the same time... now that, my friend, was a real balancing act!). If you don't think you could be classed as a hair ninja (that's my camp, friends), sit back and relax as well, but take notice, because this is a really cool hairstyle that is versatile and great for any occasion.

Skills required
If you can do a regular three strand braid, you'll be fine on this. 

Materials required:
See photo above. One hairbrush, a hairtie or two depending on what you're hoping to do, a couple of bobby pins (disregard the ton I've got in the photo, I photographed my entire pin collection just randomly) and that's it. 
Optional: an alligator clip (that blue thingy) and a spray bottle of water (not pictured), if your hair is majorly frizzy and you can't keep it down.

Seat your victim subject in a comfortable chair and brush their hair.

Starting with the top right section, take a biggish section of hair. 

Separate the section into three smaller sections. It's hard to tell in the photo because I was struggling to hold it and take the photo, but there's actually three sections not three and another quarter of one.

Cross the rightmost strand over the middle section, and leftmost section over the now-middle section. This is a regular braid 'stitch'.

Pick up a piece of hair from the top of the head, next to where your left most strand is coming out. 

'Scuse the blurry photo. Add that bit into your middle strand.

As shown, add it into the middle bit.

Tighten everything up a wee bit, nice and neat.

Do another stitch, this time using the right most strand, and this time pick up a section on the right side of the head, over by the forehead. 

 Continue on in such a manner, doing a stitch on the left and adding a section of hair from the left side, then doing a stitch on the right adding a section from the right.

Keep going. It should begin to look like a braid is 'running' through the hair. 

When you reach a point that you're happy with, stop adding in sections of fresh hair and just keep doing an ordinary three strand braid. We're going to bobby pin it in place, but for now you'll need to do some ordinary stitches to keep it all from helpfully undoing itself.

Bobby pin it in place, then 'undo' the braid underneath the pins. That was just there to stop it unraveling. 

 You can do the same on the other side if you like, to give a sort of 'half up half down' look. Personally I quite like the look of one side french braided and then the rest out long. It's quite elegant and feminine, great for all occasions.

Variation possibilities:
There are a ton of possibilities with the french braid, but I'm showcasing two simple ones here today.

Variation 1: Instead of stopping the braid and bobby pinning it, this is what it will look like if you just continue french braiding right down to the end. When you run out of hair to french braid, continue regular braiding, and tie it off at the end with a hairtie.

This is what that will look like. I haven't completed the left side yet.

Variation 2: Start at the very top of the head with no part line. French braid, using the whole head of hair. This will end you up with something that looks somewhat similar to this.

So there you have it. A french braid tutorial. I'm hoping to have a slightly more complicated tutorial next time, only, I'm stuck with what that will actually be. Any ideas? Suggestions? :)

Sorry about the dark photos. I took them in the evening, when the lights probably weren't quite as good as daylight would have been!

Many thanks to Sophie for agreeing to be my model. :)
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PS. I'm going to be away on camp for all of next week, so any posts between now and next Saturday have been scheduled. I'd love prayer for my week at camp if you happen to think of me. Hope you guys have a wonderful week!