Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Christmas Letter from the Blacks 2015 - A dose of Encouragement 103




2015 has been one of those years that has gone so quickly,
 I felt like I never got caught up with myself.



The biggest event in our family this year was the birth of our first grandchild Matthew 
born to Daniel and Suzie 
on Monday 2nd November.  





Jonathan has continued to Pastor the church in Leeds while finishing off his Phd - well just the very last bit to go now.  He has also been around various churches teaching on different aspects of Theology
He has been over to visit us a few times this year but we believe we were not the real attraction for the last two visits!





Daniel & Suzie had a very busy year with Suzie being pregnant and little Matthew being born in November.  Unfortunately Fred was away on business when Matthew decided to arrive but that just meant that I got to cuddle Matthew before Fred did.




Daniel is still busy managing Common Grounds Coffee Shop near the university in Belfast and won the Northern Ireland Barista of the Year Championship in September.





Suzie was enjoying teaching P1 but was happy when it came time to go off on her maternity leave and we are not sure how happy she will be to return to teaching because she is so happy being at home with Matthew right now.





Linda is still in South Korea but has moved to a different area, Wongju in February to teach English at a university now.  It means we have new names to remember of friends that she has now made but she is still keeping in touch with her other Korean friends in Gangneung too.

She was able to come stay for a few weeks in August after having one of her best friends visit her in Korea.  Of course when she comes, she always brings some fun presents and this trip meant a selfie stick for Fred and of course he had to try it out straight away.




She is sad because she hasn't met her nephew yet except on facetime, so she has booked to fly over for the whole month of February and we are all looking forward to that.



Fred is doing the consultancy work that he moved into with Dupont during 2014.  This means he is travelling a lot to places like Saudi, Morocco, Germany, Switzerland, Ireland, England, Finland, Australia and I've probably forgotten some others.
When he is here he is still leading worship and helping on the leadership of our church.


The Four Black Boys


This year I finished a Tesol course at Belfast Bible College along with a friend from our church and in September we started up weekly English Classes in the church.   There are about 35 people (mostly from Poland) who are regularly coming to learn English.  We did 10 weeks of classes before Christmas and we hope to have another 20 weeks before next summer so that takes a lot of time in preparation each week to teach a two hour class and I am back writing Lesson Plans again after all these years since teaching Maths.
I'm also continuing with the Sunday School Curriculum for our church and helping in other ways there too.

I have been busy with this blog that I started in 2012 but really got wholeheartedly into at the start of 2014 and enjoy the writing and making the graphics for it.  Quite often when we are out somewhere Fred will say "I suppose you want a picture for the blog?", or when we see something or talk about something someone will say "I can see a blog post coming out of that" and they are mostly right.


Fred & I did not get away on a nice long holiday this year (because he has been so busy with work) just two days in Ballycastle and the Dark Hedges but we thoroughly enjoyed that little weekend break for my birthday.




We also drove around various places in Southern Ireland for almost two weeks but that was not a holiday it was for Fred's work and I went along to make sure he stayed awake as he had to drive so many miles each evening from one place to another.
We did manage to have a few laughs along the way some of which you can read about in 10 Things that made me Laugh in Ireland


To finish up I would just like to give thanks to God for the fact that He has continued to be with us all in all our different locations and has guided each of us through our various experiences of this year.




Love to all

Sandra  &  the rest of the Black family



Sunday, 13 December 2015

Pondering The Psalms - Psalm 141

Each Sunday I am going to choose a Psalm and write down some brief thoughts on it.


Today I'm looking at Psalm 141 


This is a Psalm of David


This Psalm falls into 4 parts:


V. 1-2
A prayer up to God


V. 3-4
My influences on my heart


V. 5-7
Outward influences on my heart


V. 8-10
My refuge


A Prayer up to God.
A plea to be heard by the Lord but respectful and offered in a reverential, sacrificial, form of worship.




Our influence on our hearts.
David is asking for God's help so that he can control his fleshly attitudes and not be enticed into any evil ways.


Outward influences on our hearts.
David is well aware of the evil around him and knows that he can trust God for protection from others and that God's Word is more powerful than man's.


Our Refuge.
David knows exactly where his help and refuge is.  They are in the Lord.
He can seek God for all the protection and help he needs.



Where is our help?




Is our prayer to God offered respectfully?

Is our prayer a reverential,  sacrificial form of worship?

Is our prayer for the protection of our hearts from ourselves and from others?

Our we as sure as David that God is our true help and refuge?






Wednesday, 9 December 2015

3 Christmas Hats - A Dose of Encouragement 102


Many years ago in a far off land......


Well it is true!

It was over 25 years ago,
and it was in America which is a long way 
from Northern Ireland.


Many years ago in a far off land a young father was shopping in a really large shopping mall when he got lost......

No sorry that's another story!


Many years ago in a far off land a young father was shopping in a really large shopping mall when he saw something that he just could not resist buying for his 3 young children.

It was December and so it was getting close to Christmas time and in that shopping mall there was a stall where someone was selling Santa hats.

Now these were not just ordinary Santa hats, they were personalised Santa hats.

This father thought his children would love to have Santa hats with their names in glitter so he (probably spending more money than he should) bought three hats:




one for Jonathan, one for Daniel and one for Linda.

If you look closely at the picture above you will see a school photo of the 3 kids at roughly the ages they were when these hats were bought.

The hats come out each Christmas and it just would not feel the same without them we have got so used to propping them up together each year and always think back to when they actually fitted on the kids heads.

In our family, Christmas would just not be the same without remembering something else too.

Yes we give and receive presents,  eat a large turkey dinner and gather together to enjoy each other's company but the most important thing is:


Thinking back to the marvellous event of over 2,000 years ago when Jesus was born.


We know just how much difference it made in our family as each of our 3 children were born and the family grew, but in this new family in Bethlehem there was the biggest difference there could ever be to a family.

They had just welcomed God Incarnate into their lives.

They had just welcomed God Incarnate into their lives


The Son of God became a man and dwelt on earth, He truly was Immanuel - God with us!


Yes, they had just welcomed God Incarnate into their lives and into the world and this was to make the biggest difference the world would ever know.

Today I would love you to look back to those well-known passages of the Bible that tell us the Christmas story and acknowledge that it is actually Christ's story, the telling of Jesus Christ becoming man and joining the people of the world so that at a later time He could give His life to be the Saviour of the world.




Our family know the difference that Christ has made in our lives and we pray that you have allowed Him to make that difference in your lives too.

My God truly be with you.





If you would like to know more about the difference He can make in your life please click on the 3 2 1 video in my sidebar.



Tuesday, 8 December 2015

The Murder at the Vicarage - Book Review

I am trying to read through the novels of Agatha Christie in the order in which they were written and write a review on each one.
  

The Murder at the Vicarage. 

1930  
A Miss Marple Story.


Shelfari Description


'Anyone who murdered Colonel Protheroe', declared the parson, brandishing a carving knife above a joint of roast beef, 'would be doing the world at large a favour!'
It was a careless remark for a man of the cloth. And one which was to come and haunt the clergyman just a few hours later - when the Colonel is found shot dead in the clergyman's study. But as Miss Marple soon discovers, the whole village seems to have had a motive to kill Colonel Protheroe.
The first Miss Marple mystery, one which tests all her powers of observation and deduction.





My Thoughts

This is the 13th book by Agatha Christie and the First involving Miss Marple.

Oh how no-one thinks an elderly spinster could be interesting or knowledgeable when it comes to - well almost anything except perhaps her garden.

This book is full of endearing characters and infuriating characters which are probably the norm in an English Village the difference here being that one of those infuriating characters gets murdered.

Plenty of suspects and a complicated timeline of events makes this a difficult case to solve until Miss Marple can see around and through various aspects of this mystery.

A great storyline to introduce this sleuth and one that is definitely suited to her personality and insight.   So read and enjoy (as I did) and watch out for the clock, the garden and all the people that see everything in a village.


 Here is a link to a list of her novels on Shelfari
Books by Agatha Christie








Sunday, 6 December 2015

Pondering the Psalms - Psalm 113


Each Sunday I am going to choose a Psalm and write down some brief thoughts on it.


Today I'm looking at Psalm 113 


This is a Psalm of Praise from start to finish.



This Psalm falls into three parts:

V. 1
Praise the Lord!

V. 2-4
Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

V. 5-9
Who is like the Lord our God?




Praise the Lord!
Just go on and Praise Him is the feeling blasting out in this verse.
If you serve the Lord then Praise His Name.


Blessed be the Name of the Lord!
Now and forever.
During every part of the day.
Because He is the greatest.


No-one cares like Him.

Who is like the Lord our God?
No-one because no-one does what He does.
No-one cares like He does.





Even though we have just been told by the Psalmist that the 
Lord is seated on high,

we are also told of the needs He meets for His people 
and 
the love He bestows on them.


He does not ignore our hurts and our feelings.


Praise the Lord!





Wednesday, 2 December 2015

A New Christmas Decoration - A Dose of Encouragement 101


I really shouldn't have!


We have so many already!


I'm supposed to be decluttering, not bringing more things into the house!


But I just couldn't resist buying that new decoration for the Christmas tree.


I was out buying special Christmas Cards and looking for ideas for gifts in the Faith Mission Book Shop when I noticed it and the temptation grabbed me.

Fred just smiled when I showed it to him and didn't say the obvious

"not another decoration"  

 he can be so nice to me sometimes ( ok I admit it's not just sometimes but most of the time ).


It's not the only one I've bought this year, but ssssshhh that's a secret until closer to Christmas.


I have to admit I really like tree decorations that bring back memories like our 3 sleighs and the fan that get hung up each year.

But there is something special about bible themed tree decorations and the one I got was definitely bible themed with Mary and Joseph holding the baby Jesus.





Yes I admit is is rather similar to the the one I wrote about in the True Christmas blog post last year.  

But I think perhaps I was drawn to this new one because we have been doing a lot of holding and cuddling of our baby grandson since he was born at the start of last month.

It is amazing how one small child can change the structure of a marriage relationship - it is not just a couple any more it is now a family with another person there forever making a 3 Sided relationship.  This is a life-altering event in any marriage and as was mentioned in a recent post Congratulations;  it can be the best day of the lives of the couple.


Jesus obviously changed the structure of his family not only in the obvious special way as a new life born into that relationship but also because of exactly Who He was - the Son of God.  His birth was not only the best day of the lives of Mary and Joseph but also the best day in the life of the world thus far - God had come down to earth.

Look at the wording on the decoration



Jesus came to be the hope of all the world,

                                                          of everyone,

                                                                           of you ,

                                                                                      of me.


This was definitely a life-altering event for the whole world.

Our new decoration reminds us of the new Hope we have in Jesus when we acknowledge He is Lord and accept His gift of salvation.


Born as a baby but born to be the Saviour of all.




Jesus is all this 
and 
our true hope, 
regardless of us or anything else that is going on in the world.


I am thankful that I have a Saviour and that I have the Hope of all.

If you would like to know more about how you can personally experience this life-altering event please take a few minutes to watch the video 3 2 1 on the sidebar.


Sunday, 29 November 2015

Pondering the Psalms - Psalm 100

Each Sunday I am going to choose a Psalm and write down some brief thoughts on it.


Today I'm looking at Psalm 100 


This is a Psalm for the Thank Offering.


This Psalm falls into three parts:

V. 1-2
What?

V. 3
Who?

V. 4
When & How?

V. 5
Why?



What are we required to do for this thank offering?
Be joyful in our Praise unto the Lord and not just us but all the earth.
Serve the Lord not as a duty but gladly.
Enter His presence with a song on our lips.


Who is this thank offering for?
It is for the Lord and He is God.
He is our creator, we belong to Him and he is our Shepherd who cares for us.


How to give a thank offering to God

When is this thank offering to be given?
It is to be presented to the Lord when we are within the gates of His Holy presence.
Then also when we are even further into His presence. with all Praise and Blessing unto Him.


How is this thank offering to be given?
It is to be presented with all Praise and Blessing unto the Lord our God.


Why should we bring this thank offering?
Because the Lord is good, He loves us continually forever and ever and He is a faithful God.






Where is this thank offering to come from?

From our hearts because of the joy and gladness there.

From the knowledge in our minds of how Good the Lord is to us.

From the honour of being invited into His Holy presence.

From the understanding that there is no-one like our Lord.





Friday, 27 November 2015

A Great Idea for Moving Rooms - Housework/Funwork 64


It's that time of the year again.

The time
when in Northern Ireland
we get much colder and wetter weather
and
in our house we move

                             from
              relaxing in the Sun Room
                               to
                   living in the Lounge.


I love being in the Sun Room but I also really like my lounge since we got it decorated a year ago and got the new suite.

We try to get as long as we can out of the Sun Room but by now it means the heating on a lot to keep it warm however we did manage to use it from May to middle of November so that's not bad.



There is one thing I got this year that has made the move from the Sun Room to the Lounge with us and that's what this blog post is all about.

I saw a Slim Cabinet Wagon  (which I prefer to call a caddy) on a website I had found in early springtime and I just knew it would be ideal for the lazy person I become once I sit down.
You know - I don't want to have to get up again to get my book or puzzle magazine or crochet or nail file etc.

One of the really enticing features was the fact that it was on castors and I knew straight away that it would be great to take from room to room.




So I treated myself to an early birthday present and ordered the caddy.





I knew I wouldn't need any help in putting it together even though I'm not a great fan of DIY because it would have few pieces and there would be nothing difficult about it and anyway I can read instructions (even when the men in this family don't think that's a necessary task).

It only consisted of two tubular sides, some rods, 2 metal plates, 4 castors, the cover and a smaller thin tubular part  -  no problem!

Yes no problem until I see that the instructions on the back of the box are in Japanese or Chinese or Korean or something but certainly not in English.




However I couldn't go far wrong with the few parts that had to be assembled!

The box came in handy for resting the sides on to join them with the rods to form the frame.



Very simple to do - just slot the rods through the holes and then use a screwdriver.

A bit wobbly to work with with the first few rods



but very steady when all the rods were fitted.




I then put the castors on the base plate ready to attach it to the bottom of the frame.

That was my only mistake.



I had to remove the castors as it was easier to attach the base to the bottom of the frame as each castor was was tightened in.




With the base and four castors attached I was only left with the smaller metal piece to be placed.




It screwed into the base plate and formed a divider for the central bottom part of the caddy.

All that was left was the cover


It fitted down the outside of the caddy but had a centre section into which a thin metal plate was slotted and this would form a shelf about halfway up the caddy.




Then the cover was fitted on securely using velcro strips along the bottom of each side of the frame



and the top of each side.


The finished Caddy

The two sides have slightly different sizes and arrangement of pockets.

The profile view clearly shows the shelf and the divider within the caddy.


There is plenty of room for anything you might want to have at hand when you are sitting watching TV or relaxing reading a book etc.

Because it is a slimline trolley it will fit in nicely beside chairs or a couch.


Here it is in the Sun Room beside the chair




What do I keep in it?
Books
Bible
Puzzle books
Crochet
Hand cream
Nail file, scissors etc.
Hair clip
Bookmark
Pens, Pencils
Glasses
etc.
Oh yes and all the remote controls


Last year in the lounge I had this basket but it was getting too full.




Now  I can have the caddy instead of the basket





or in a better position for me right beside my usual seat on the couch




It fits there really well and can easily be rolled out when I need to get at the lower  parts.




But when it is in it's place it isn't even noticeable as you walk into the room.





365 in 365 Days  -  Decluttering Update

We had previously got up to the end of September so I need to update for October and November now.


OCTOBER

9 items Thrown Out
A bundle of clothes
A pair of slippers
A pile of papers from Fred's files
4 puzzle magazines
2 books

2 items To Car Boot Sale
2 books

1 item Given Away
A Bundle of pens

Total:  12  Not so good


NOVEMBER

11 items Thrown Out
Another pair of slippers
Another bundle of clothes
A pile of papers from my files
7 books
1 lipstick


8 items To Car Boot Sale
3 books
1 picture frame
1 dvd
1 set of crafting stamps
1 craft stencil
1 clock
1 gift box
1 small tray


9 items Given Away
A Bundle of clothes
2 boxes
6 glasses


Total:  28   Better but still not enough


So running total gives me

January        29
February      42
March          31
April              8
May               0
June             57
July              26
August         67
September    9
October       12
November   28
TOTAL     309 items  in  334 days  

Still behind so I need to clear 56 items in December!