Wednesday, 29 April 2015

I don't want to pet a snake - A Dose of Encouragement 70




"Mummy she wouldn't let us out until we did it"

This was what my daughter told me when she got off the school bus and I could see that she was still very upset.

Linda was only in Kindergarten in a school in Delaware, where we had moved to live for a few years because of my husband's work.

Now we had come from Northern Ireland and  there are no snakes in Northern Ireland (but actually nothing to do with St. Patrick).  So the only time we needed to come into close proximity with one is when we saw one in the Zoo.

I have never liked snakes so even when we would go to the Zoo I quite often would just pass by the area with the snakes and my kids had never really complained about this because they were not keen on snakes either.

Well there we were in Delaware in 1993 knowing that there were snakes in America but hoping that they were confined to the hotter, drier mid & south areas of the country.

Wrong!

One day while we were walking with a friend and her children in a large parkland I saw a snake on a rock.  I didn't say a thing but just hurried on by with all the children.

Philadelphia Zoo had snakes but same as before we just didn't bother to go near them.



But never did I think that my daughter's school would be the place where she was going to be confronted with a snake.

Never did I imagine that in her school she would be forced to touch a snake!

Never did I imagine that her Kindergarten teacher was going to be so nasty as to tell the children that they would not be allowed out of the library until they petted this snake.

It was not even a pet in the school but had been brought in by the librarian.

Who would ever think that they were sending their child off to school one day to be told they would not get out of school to get the school bus home without petting a snake.  A child that age would believe what they are told and would worry about how else they would manage to get home.

Linda was like me she hated the sight of snakes and the thought of a snake being near her but the teacher didn't care about that.

Bullying can be done by teachers as well as by pupils and this was bullying.

Touching the snake did not physically harm Linda but it did emotionally for a while.

Thankfully we are not a family to make something like this grow and fester in a child's mind by going over and over the incident or by showing her how really annoyed we were that this had happened because children do not need to know every feeling we have or action we take over things as a protection for them.

Unfortunately we can all go through forms of this kind of thing where people, through some means of manipulation, pressure us into doing things that we really don't want to do.  That we are really uncomfortable doing.  That is just not a right fit with us.

Those things will not harm us physically but they do harm us emotionally and sometimes spiritually too.


God made us all and He made us each as a unique person.

Our thoughts each day are different from others thoughts.

Our feelings are different from others.

Our needs, our gifts, our physical abilities are all different.


What one person does not mind dealing with, the rest of us may cringe from, like Linda and the snake.

God has not made us as we are to then expect us to do a job for Him that we are not suited to.

Sometimes God will bring us to deal with something we are not so keen on but He is there to help us through that and if He is bringing us to deal with it He will not do it through the bullying tactics of another person.

We do not have to listen to people if they try to claim it is something God wants us to do - if God wants you to do something He will confirm that in your heart.

We do not have to listen to people if they try to persuade you that we need to do it because there is no one else to do it - remember if God wants you to do it He may use someone to cause you to know of an opportunity, but He will still confirm it in your heart.

I want to

Learn to seek God for wisdom to know when to say Yes and when to say No

As Linda grew up she learned to say No when something was not right for her, to stand up against the manipulation of others.


However we also cannot take the "say No" idea to mean that we don't have to do anything and that we can just say No to God as He stirs us toward His service.

We can learn to say No 

when it is a man-made opportunity and Yes when it is a God made opportunity.


We can learn to say No


when people think they know best and Yes when we know that God knows best.


We can learn to say No


when others try to manipulate us into the wrong road for us.

BUT


We can learn to say YES 

when God confirms in our hearts that this is something He is preparing us for.




I want to

Learn to stand up and say Yes when it is a God made opportunity


I don't want to pet a snake, do you?









Monday, 27 April 2015

10 Things That Made Me Laugh in Ireland



Laughter is good for you.

I have often said it and I do believe it is true and it was certainly good for us during that trip we made for Fred with work in Ireland.

It's the trip that produced the blog post Top 10 things that make a good Hotel Room.

The first comment I had on that blog post was about a hospitality tray and it really made me laugh as I thought of a certain incident during that trip.

So where better to start my list of




1. The Missing ....?

It was in the same bedroom that had all those other failures of being a good hotel room and although it was something we definitely noticed we had to laugh at it because it just seemed so funny compared to everything else that was wrong in the room.

Have a look at this picture and see if you can notice the mistake.


Yes we were in a double room with 2 saucers & 2 spoons 
but only 1 cup.

I can quite understand it if a spoon is missing because well who takes sugar these days (don't laugh - we do) but I certainly think we might need the cup to actually drink the tea or coffee out of.



2.  No Room for a Chair.  

Doesn't seem that funny well at least not until you see where there was no room for the chair.



Yes just the very place you need a chair - at the desk/dressingtable.

So little space between it and the bottom of the bed that a chair could not be placed there and the only way I could work at the laptop was to pull the bed down closer yet and sit on it.

Oh yes and guess what it was that same room again.



3.  The Gift of a Crunchie.


In a lovely hotel near Athlone we were greeted with this in our room.

We wondered how they greeted guests on any other days.

Maybe
"Make it a Malteser Monday"
"Turn in with a Twirl on Tuesday"
"Wake up to a Walnut Whip this Wednesday"
"Take a Taste of a Twix on Thursday"
"Sit down with some Smarties this Saturday"
"Snooze after a Snickers on Sunday"




4.  The 9 Colours of Light.


One of the hotel rooms had a large wall mirror which was not unusual.

Then we discovered a panel with lots of buttons & switches beside the bed.

The buttons were numbered 1 to 9 so of course we had to press each one to see what it did.

And the result was the 9 different colours of light which appeared at the opt of the mirrored wall.

The last one was just normal light but hasn't come up well in the picture.

It was rather hard to take all 9 pictures of the lights because I was giggling so much.

I just thought - What a waste of money!



5.  The Picture Mystery.

The very next hotel brought us this puzzle.



How could they possibly manage to lose two parts of their pictures?




6.  The Cow Roundabout.

I enjoyed walking around this little town with its narrow streets and just as I realised I had got myself lost I saw this large roundabout with a cow.



Now I have nothing against roundabouts with animals as we had a beautiful one close to where we lived in Belgium but then it had several animals creating the Tervuren Fountain.
It always made me smile.

I really wasn't too sure whether it was the cow that made me laugh or because the roundabout was too big for the streets.


7.  The Case of the Missing Hotel Information Books.

We wanted to find out the usual information about the opening hours of the hotel pool and restaurants along with info. on the surrounding area and the ever important checkout time.  So we hunted the room for the Information book or file.

The only thing I could find was a plastic covered page containing the Room Service Menu which had a rather ragged edge (never thought at the time to take a picture).

Eventually I rang reception to say that the hotel information was missing from our room only to be told that they had removed them from all of the rooms because

        wait for it

                they were getting new ones the following week.

Surely the sensible thing would have been to remove the old after they had received the new?

They must not have thought of that.

Oh and the ragged edge of the Room Service Menu   -  was obviously because they had torn it out of the old info. book to be able to leave it in the room.


8.  The Foggy Morning.

 Our last morning was the morning when there was to be an eclipse of the sun but in Clonmel there was


as we had fog to cover the sun.



9.  The Toilet Key.

Driving back home late that afternoon we had to make a pit stop.


and I laughed when Fred held up the key on a chunky chain.

I had only ever seen that happen in the movies.


10.  A Very Appropriate Song.

We enjoy listening to music and chatting as we drive along.

Then at one stage Fred started to sing "It's a Long Way to Tipperary" at which I really laughed because we were actually driving through the County of Tipperary.

Then I suggested we might make a wee detour to go see


Tipperary town itself and we followed a few signposts only to find out that it actually was a Long Way to Tipperary from where we were.

One of the hotels did give us a complimentary bottle of Tipperary water so that just had to be our Tipperary memory instead.





Oh and I almost forgot to mention that the 

first thing we saw on TV in Ireland was the film 

"The Quiet Man"





Sunday, 26 April 2015

Songs for Worship #17


Last year from January to June I wrote a series on
Why We Worship  where I considered an attribute of God each Sunday.

Now I'm following the weeks of Why We Worship from last year and sharing a song which I feel links in with that week's attribute.

I hope you will follow along with me.
(Just head over to the side bar and join up if you would like to receive a reminder of my posts)



                         Looking today at 


God is Wise







Perfect Wisdom of Our God


The perfect wisdom of our God,
Revealed in all the universe:
All things created by His hand,
And held together at His command.
He knows the mysteries of the seas,
The secrets of the stars are His;
He guides the planets on their way,
And turns the earth through another day.

The matchless wisdom of His ways,
That mark the path of righteousness;
His word a lamp unto my feet,
His Spirit teaching and guiding me.
And oh, the mystery of the cross,
That God should suffer for the lost
So that the fool might shame the wise,
And all the glory might go to Christ!

Oh grant me wisdom from above,
To pray for peace and cling to love,
And teach me humbly to receive
The sun and rain of Your sovereignty.
Each strand of sorrow has a place
Within this tapestry of grace;
So through the trials I choose to say:
“Your perfect will in your perfect way.”





If you would like to see the post from last year that this is based on please click on the graphic below







Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Please Do not Tell Me What To Do! - A Dose of Encouragement 69

Throughout his career my husband has travelled a lot all over the world but I have very seldom travelled with him.

Most people who know that he travels will at some time or another ask me why I don't go with him or presume I have gone several times or they tell me I should go.

Over and over I find myself explaining that I do not like spending so much time alone in strange places because not only will I be on my own during the day while he is working but also there are evening work dinners and other meetings out of the "normal" hours for discussion or report writing etc.

Most people then proceed to advise me or tell me what I should do when I go with him; how I should go shopping in these different places or how I should go about finding out the best places to go sightseeing.  Some will even find out things for me and tell me where to go and later expect me to have done this.  Leaving me feeling as if I need to make excuses when I don't go.

Firstly, shopping is ok for a day for me but not for days on end but also I find that most places now have the same shops in similar shopping centres wherever you travel to.  If I can find somewhere with unique little shops then I will enjoy browsing round for a short time but I am not a great shopper, or one who delights in spending extortionate amounts of money on anything.



Secondly, I am not fond of going sightseeing on my own so it would have to be something spectacular or something that was of great interest to me to make me do that and even then I would prefer to share that experience with Fred or someone else.  Making memories are much nicer when they include others.


If you have read my previous post on Top 10 Things that make a Good Hotel Room then you will know that last month I did travel with Fred for a couple of reasons and during those two trips we stayed in 6 hotels - the problem was we were only away for 8 nights.

Checking out of a hotel by 11am or noon practically every day of your trip gets to be rather annoying not just boring and people who have not experienced these types of trips just do not understand how I feel.
Photo credit:  Pixabay

But then there are many, many things that other people have experienced that I never have and so I will not understand how they feel in those circumstances.  I have to accept that and not presume to offer them advice or tell them what they should do in those cases because I don't have the right knowledge or understanding of their feelings.

There are also times when people want to give me advice or detailed information on things that because they are interested in they assume I will be too.

If you have read this far then I am sure that you are nodding in agreement because you have experienced similar "well intentioned" advice and can understand how it feels.

Having experienced this all of my life perhaps partly because I may be described as an introvert and then people believe I need their help; I have learnt from my feelings so that I hope I do not do the same thing to others.


How should we treat others?



In Love, before we even open our mouths to say anything we should pray about it and make sure we know enough about the person to know that what we say will be edifying, helpful and relevant to them.


In Love, accepting that none of us are perfect but that each deserves from the other the respect and care that God shows to us.






This is not always easy because our normal attitudes are to completely think of ourselves and hence see each situation as to how it affects us.

But everything involving more than one person will ultimately affect more than one person.

Each conversation will affect both people in that conversation.

And we can be the one to make the difference in that conversation.


Everything involving more than one person will ultimately affect more than one person.


The two verses quoted above are commands.

If God has told us to do this then we should do it and it must be possible to do this, even through all the events of our everyday lives because God does not expect us to do things in our own strength.
 He wants us to rely on His.

If this then is possible we have the opportunity to see people as God sees them and to treat them as God would treat them.




Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Patio Furniture - Tips, Tricks & Projects

It's Springtime!    The sun is out!

Something I love to do at the start of Spring is have my breakfast on the patio and I have been known to take a picture of the first day I can find it warm enough to do that each year.

This was the picture I took last year


and this was the picture that made me see that my patio furniture that I loved was not looking like it was loved but more like it had been neglected and was very, very rusty.

That day was the start of knowing that I had a hard job ahead of me and I would have to do a bit of thinking and planning to get my patio furniture back into good condition to enjoy using again because I did not want to have to buy a new set.

But where was I going to find out anything about restoring my table and chairs to a much nicer condition?

The internet of course and there we can find a site called HOMETALK

Now the only problem with this site is that there are so many interesting projects to read about and admire the before and after pictures from that I can forget just how long I browse around it.

Anyway I did get round to my own Patio Furniture restoration project eventually when I could get my husband home from work travels long enough to help me and I was very happy with my result.

Plus of course I followed some boards of others who had joined this site and have created some boards myself whilst also posting some projects.

A board on Hometalk is simply like a board on Pinterest where you can gather together projects that you are interested in.  In Hometalk you clip a picture from a project unto your board just as you would pin a picture in Pinterest.


Last year I was asked to curate a board about Storage Options because I had posted about this subject on Hometalk and I had some fun doing that, so I was delighted when they asked me to curate this board



So why not click on the picture above and head over to Hometalk to see my board full of wonderful Patio furniture tips, tricks and projects for restoring, recycling and upcycling from some very talented people.

Then of course you can have a look at some other boards and projects while you are there and don't forget to follow me on Hometalk too.









Linking up with METAMORPHIS MONDAY

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Songs for Worship #16


Last year from January to June I wrote a series on
Why We Worship  where I considered an attribute of God each Sunday.

Now I'm following the weeks of Why We Worship from last year and sharing a song which I feel links in with that week's attribute.

I hope you will follow along with me.
(Just head over to the side bar and join up if you would like to receive a reminder of my posts)



                         Looking today at 


God is Alive






He's Alive


Hallelujah
Jesus is alive
Death has lost it's victory
And the grave has been denied
Jesus lives forever
He's alive! He's alive!

He's the Alpha and Omega
The first and last is he
The curse of sin is broken
And we have perfect liberty
The lamb of God is risen
He's alive, He's alive!
Jesus is alive!





If you would like to see the post from last year that this is based on please click on the graphic below










Saturday, 18 April 2015

Walk This Way to Tayto Castle

We can get soooooo excited when we are going to do something that we have always wanted to do.

That's the way we were just after Christmas in 2012.

We were nearly more excited about going to Tayto Castle than we were about our Christmas Dinners.

This was going to be one of our Xtra Special Days



If you are not Norn Irish then you may well be puzzling over where and what is Tayto Castle.

If you were born here in Northern Ireland or have come to live in this beautiful country then you will probably have heard of Tayto Castle in the small town of Tandragee.

But one thing is sure if you are in Northern Ireland and have not heard of Tayto Crisps then there is something badly wrong because they are the best crisps in the world.

Please note I have NOT been given a big box of Tayto Cheese & Onion or Smokey Bacon to make me write this - unfortunately.


Tayto Castle is the home of Tayto Crisps.

Yes they make the crisps in a Castle.

Only a Castle is good enough for the best crisps in the world.



When our three kids were young I kept saying that one summer we would organize a day trip to Tayto Castle to get the tour and see the crisps being made.

Yes I kept saying it but that didn't make it happen and the years went on with people telling us that you have to book months in advance if not a year in advance if you wanted to go during the school summer holidays.

So we never did make that trip when we were living almost 2 hours away but now we live only 30 mins away and yes we finally got to make that trip.


Only a Castle is good enough for the best crisps in the world.

The Tayto signpost points you to a door in a stone wall for your adventure to begin.

Our fun had already begun as Linda and I were giggling away while I was trying to take pictures.



There is an intercom but it was fun to knock as well.

Then when they released the door for us we were



ready to enter the grounds of Tayto Castle.

Inside there is a short walk up to the part of the Castle where we had to go for the tour




and we saw this lovely feature on the wall of the Castle.




As we got closer there was a part to walk through
and of course we had to stop to get a picture of Mr Tayto and his crispy, crunchy crisps.



Inside and we were greeted with masses of crisp signs hanging from the ceiling.

See the yellow pack that's my favourite - Cheese & Onion.




Photo opportunity with Mr Tayto himself and he wasn't the only one who was laughing, we could hardly stand still for the picture we were all laughing so much at the thought of this grown up family (including the boys) getting their picture taken with Mr Tayto.




Everyone working there was so friendly and chatted to us while we sat and waited for the rest of the people on the tour to arrive.

All over the walls were letters from children saying what a great time they had had on the tour.

None of the tour could be photographed and there were rules and regulations about going around the factory which is understandable as safety and contamination has to be of the utmost importance, but no one minds rules for this type of thing.

We walked round and saw
the potatoes,
the slicing,
the cooking,
the flavouring
the sorting
and the packaging
and also all the different types of crisps that they make
as well as "testing" out all the flavours.

Yes "testing" as in TASTING.

There is quite a lot of "testing" going on as the tour goes round.
We really enjoyed that part!!!

No handbags, phones, cameras, keys etc. can be taken with you on the tour because of the risk of contamination of the product so basically you take off your coats and empty your pockets and hand over your belongings before the tour starts.

Plus you have to put on an apron and hair nets just as the workers have to wear.


Here we are at the end of the tour when they have a very important moment.

The moment when you have to make the big decision as to what flavour of crisp you want because everyone gets bags of crisps to take home with them.

Now my favourite is Cheese & Onion but I chose Smokey Bacon for my free gift because I had already decided that on the way out we would be buying a big box of Cheese & Onion (they are cheaper to buy in the big box & since then we have rung up and ordered boxes whenever the kids are coming to stay for a while and then we just drive over and pick them up at the Castle).

All the way round in the tour various people were asking questions and the tour guides are very willing to answer and explain almost everything.

Everything except

"What is the secret of the great Tayto Taste?"



That has to remain a secret or Tayto Crisps would not be the greatest Crisps.

You may not learn the secret but the tour is well worth the money and the time.
You will find more info on Tayto HERE


In case you don't know, the pink packet is the Prawn Cocktail flavour crisps.

Remember back to the picture above with the hair nets?

In it we all had our free crisps.

3 of our family Fred, Jonathan & Linda had yellow Tayto Carrier Bags with their choice of crisps whereas Daniel & I had Tayto Multipacks.

Well 2 of the three with the yellow bags had prawn cocktail and salt & vinegar crisps (the two types represented in this picture above).

Can you guess who had the pink packets and who had the blue?


Well the tour was over and we had got our free gift and the last thing was the shop.
We stopped there and got our box of Cheese & Onion and also bought a few little gifts one of which was a yellow Tayto Mug.

Then it was on out to have a last look around outside before we hurried home to finish making our second Christmas Dinner because my sister and her family were coming to visit and it was the 27th December.

But before we got back in the car another picture had to be taken to encourage everyone to go visit Tayto Castle.



Ever the crazy, fun loving, younger sister; Linda had to pose while the boys walked away hoping no-one would know she was with them.


I think it was almost better to have done the tour now because of the fun and humour between us all at this stage in their lives than when they would have been so much younger.

I'm sure they would have been too young before to have enjoyed it as much as we did now.




Wednesday, 15 April 2015

An Aladdin's Lamp - A Dose of Encouragement 68

A few weeks ago I went online to do my travel map for fun
and even though I have travelled to quite a few places it decided that I had only visited 12% of the world.  (you can see it at the very bottom of the blog)

I asked Fred to go and do his because he has been to so many more countries than me but he just laughed and said he was too busy.


Fred travelled a lot last month but I saw him each weekend and I even travelled with him for 2 of the weeks.  This was because he was doing all his work in Southern Ireland and drove everywhere.

Now this month he will travel much further away and I won't go on any of the trips with him and I will not have him home for all of the weekends.
In fact I will not have him home for many days at all for the rest of the month.

He is going to Sweden, Qatar, Abu Dhabi, and finally back to Southern Ireland.
This will be his first visit to Abu Dhabi but it is not his first time to the other places.

Some years ago when he went to the Middle East he brought me back a little gift.

Now because Fred has travelled with work for many many years he has not brought home gifts every time.  The first few trips he brought gifts for the children because they were young but then as the travelling continued he would only occasionally bring something back.  Mostly he would bring me a plate from a new country or a different State in America because a plate from Delaware was the gift he had brought me on his first trip to America.  So years later I ended up with quite a collection of plates.

But this little gift from the Middle East was not a plate - it was an Aladdin's Lamp.



The lamp is metal not plastic - we already had a plastic toy one that Linda had with the genie from the movie Aladdin.

It was not a very expensive item but rather attractive.

Fred knows me well enough to know that I like things that are a little bit different to the norm.


It sits in our dining room most of the time as an ornament but has occasionally been taken with me to be used as a visual aid when I'm speaking at a Kids meeting.

One of the first things I am always asked by the kids is

"Can you make a wish?"

followed by

"Is there anything inside?"

So the lid has to be lifted off and little eyes peer inside only to be disappointed that there is nothing there.

No the lamp is empty.
No it is not a real lamp.
It is not even an expensive item.

BUT

That little lamp reminds me of Fred every time I look at it and it makes me smile.


I don't think that I can get Fred back home by rubbing the lamp and making a wish.

I simply know that one day in a foreign land Fred saw that lamp and bought it for me.

I wasn't with him to make him think of me but he still did.


It makes me think of how God thought about us all the time


God thinks about us at all times. He always has and He always will.

EVEN


when we did not speak with Him,  He still thought of us
when we wanted our own way,  He still thought of us
when we were disobedient,  He still thought of us
when we were not children of God,  He still thought of us
when we were not even born yet,  He still thought of us

EVEN

before the world was created,  He had thought of us

YES

God had thought of us and Jesus was already prepared to die for us




We are 

     delighted 

     excited 

     proud 

     thankful 

     when people think of us, 

     when people remember to include us in their lives.


Should we not be the same because God thinks about us at all times.

He always has and He always will.