Wednesday, September 30

The Day Autumn Arrived - A Dose of Encouragement

I know I wrote a post previously about

but it seems that in September each year (the start of Autumn I suppose) we really do notice all the spiders coming out of their hiding places.

So we get quite used to the fact that they are there for a while.

However just this morning I really was reminded of the spiders in a very different way.

Just look at those webs.

I know they were obviously not made overnight but I hadn't noticed them the previous few days.

Today however there had been a bad fog overnight which lasted until quite late in the morning and as it cleared this was my view in the patio.

The webs stretched all around the gate and the fencing (even some over the bushes)

and they were linked to the patio table and chairs as well.

They made a beautiful pattern between each fence post and also between the patio table & chairs.

I stood in amazement wondering how I had not noticed these webs before, so many of them, and then I realized that they would normally have been difficult to see from inside the house (and I had been inside for a week ill with flu).

Today however was different.

They were so noticeable because the icy fog had left a kind of glistening effect on them.


A short while later they were no longer noticeable from the kitchen window.

They had needed this special effect to make them stand out clearly and attract my attention.

We also need a special effect to make us stand out as followers of Christ.

We need a special effect to make us stand out

God has given us His Holy Spirit to produce good fruit in our lives and catch the attention of others, not to be directed to us, 
but to Jesus.

In today's world more than ever we need to allow the Holy Spirit to work through us and draw the attention of the rest of the world to our loving Saviour because that is the job of the Holy spirit and our job too.

So let's think of the arrival of this autumn frost as a sign to remember that God will use His Holy Spirit to make our lives beautiful and attractive to others so that they will say they hadn't noticed that before and want to find out more  -  about Jesus.

Monday, September 28

Northern Ireland Barista Championship 2015 - Xtra Special Day

This weekend saw the Northern Ireland Barista Championship take place in Belfast.

Yes I know I love Coffee but not so much that I would be interested in this event


that my son was taking part on behalf of Common Grounds Coffee Shop of which he is the manager.

Now Daniel has worked in other coffee shops and has trained but now that he is a manager he is not doing the actual manual work every day of the week because of the many other tasks that fall to him.

So off he went on Saturday for the first round of the challenge.

He even missed his favourite football team Tottenham Hotspurs win against ......  well some other team - I'm not a football fan.

He had some tickets and I would have loved to have been there for this event but I was ill.

Yes - An Xtra Special Day for our family and I'm stuck at home with a throat infection.

You can imagine our excitement when he messaged later in the day to say that he was through to the final on Sunday.

We were delighted that he had got through to the final and more people will hear about the good work of Common Grounds.

On Sunday

He was the first one up of the 6 for the final.

His wife Suzie was there with him and the credit for these photos go to her.

As you can see from the pic above he was on at 11am.

No idea what they had asked him but no doubt he was having a bit of fun with them as he did not think he stood a chance of winning.

Apparently cameras and notes were important and everything focussed on how Daniel made the various coffees.

So Suzie messaged us with some pictures and then of course the other 5 baristas had to make their coffees.

We were making a late Sunday Lunch when the message came just after 4.15pm


So proud of our son 
and of 
Common Grounds Coffee Shop

If you have not read my other post about Common Grounds and their charity work 
and their Suspended Coffees 
then click HERE

Why not use this twitter link to let others know about the good work of Common Grounds

Great coffee, great charity at Common Grounds Belfast

Sunday, September 27

Pondering the Psalms - Psalm 32

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

Today I'm looking at Psalm 32

I'm looking at this Psalm in 6 parts:

V. 1-2
Here we are told who the "blessed" are

V. 3-4
Here we see the condition we have due to the guilt of sin

V. 5
Here we see how to deal with sin

V. 6-7
Here we see the only one we can turn to

V. 8-9
Here we learn how God will look after us & guide us when we turn to Him

V. 10-11
Here we have the great example to end with

The Godly Man.
Basically those who are blessed are those who no longer are condemned by sin.
It refers to openly sinning and also sinning in your heart or spirit.

The Ungodly Man.
Before we renounce our sin our condition is dead to spiritual things.
So we need to know how to deal with our sin.
We need to be responsive and willing to turn from our sin and not be stubborn like a mule.

Is our sin covered in the right way?

We need to know that God is the only one to turn to when we are ready to repent & renounce our sin.
Then we can be like the Psalmist who ends with a note of Praise and thankfulness.

The one things we must not overlook is dealing properly with our sin.

Changing our life from 

Only Jesus is the one who can take our sin and give us His righteousness.

Wednesday, September 23

The Day I Spoke like an American - A Dose of Encouragement

We lived in America in the lovely State of Delaware for 3 years, 1992 - 95, while our three children were young. 

Coming from Northern Ireland, UK, we were determined to say the words the proper British way like garage and not ga-raase, tomato and not tomaayto, aluminium and not alummmminum etc.   

I was pretty good about this! 


           I was pretty stubborn about this.

However, you cannot live among Americans for long before you pick up the accent. 

 When we returned to Northern Ireland our daughter aged 8 was referred to as the "American Girl" by her classmates at school for quite some time as she took longer than the rest of us to drop the accent. 

The Kids & I at the Grand Canyon

On the way home from America we had a layover in London for a few days and while there we headed into a McDonalds for lunch one day.  I'm not a very picky eater but I do not like all the sauces and pickles you get on the burgers & they never get it right in America when you say you don't want certain things in it so I had spent my time there perfecting the way to say the word "plaaain" like I was a real American so that the servers in places like McDonalds would know what I was saying.  

This time in London I reckon they can get my order right as they will understand everything I say so I don't have to think so hard about it.  

So I'm trying to order a bacon cheeseburger with only lettuce and tomato & guess what happens when I get to the tomato bit? 

I say tomayto instead of tomato.

3 years of saying it properly in America and as soon as I get back to the UK out comes the American pronunciation. 

What was wrong with me?

Needless to say, I have told this story numerous times because I can laugh at myself.

Anyway, then one day in 2012, 17 years since we had returned from living in America I had to revive my American accent.  

Why was this?  

I wasn't speaking to American visitors or even to other foreigners who have learnt their English by listening to American films, TV programmes and pop songs. 
(we met many people like this while we lived in Belgium)

No, I was sitting at home trying out my new iPad.  

I was doing a test on the voice thing to see if it really would write down what I said.

This was the result: 

          I said    "So from now on I want to take all my notes by voice"

         It wrote  -  So Canion I want to take all my notes bivoice

          I tried the same phrase again
                         So from now on I want to take all my notes By Voice

          It wrote  -  Abigail.            seriously???????????????
Once again .....

       and it worked!

                    So from now on I want to take all my notes by voice

It worked that time because I used an American accent

                     The iPad works best if I use my American accent"

For a machine to understand me I needed to talk the way it expected me to talk, 
the way it was programmed to understand.

It worked that time because I used an American accent

All of this made me think about how we speak to people.  

Sometimes we just speak out not thinking of how we phrase something or the tone of our voice because we are talking to our family or someone we are very close to.

Other times we are conscious of our voices and words when we are talking to someone new or people we feel we need to be careful with so that they understand exactly what we mean.

We got very good at speaking more clearly and slowly when we lived in America and in Belgium because people from Northern Ireland tend to speak very quickly.

During the past year I took a short course in teaching English as a second language and I am now even more conscious of my pronunciation.

Then there are the times we talk to God.

I am so glad that God hears us 

  • whether we whisper or shout, 
  • whether we can find the right words or not, 
  • whether we even speak something out 

and that God knows 

  • what we are really sorry about, 
  • what we are worried about, 
  • what we are care about 

We can be thankful that our language does not have to be perfect for God to hear and understand and undertake for us. 

He knows, no matter how we try to express ourselves.

However God does wants us to to be truthful from our hearts.

In Psalm 51:6 the Psalmist says 

"Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts:"

How can we have this truth?

The Psalmist goes on to show he knows the answer in the following verses and then acts on this knowledge he has by praying specifically to God. 

Oh that we will be like the Psalmist and know the answer but also act on it.

Monday, September 21

The Discipline of Grace - 2

Click here to read  Grace 1 which covered the first chapter of the book

  The Discipline of Grace 
by Jerry Bridges

 Now let's take a look chapter 2  this time.

 Chapter 2

This surprised me at first because it was so different to the first chapter.

Here he takes a look at the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican going to pray.

I loved the way he explained what this parable is all about.

What it boils down to I think is the fact that when the Publican says

                         "Lord be merciful to me a sinner" 

he is able to say this because he is sure of the grace of God.

Isn't that so ironic that he understands grace but the Pharisee doesn't.

If the Pharisee truly knew what the grace of God was, he could not have been so confident in himself.

The Publican did understand but still he was not confident in himself instead he was confident in God because of grace.

Of course the author has a lot more to say than just this and again this chapter is full of truth and I found it so encouraging.

If this encourages you to read the book you'll find it on amazon for kindle or in paperback.

I promise that later posts on this book will contain shorter notes on each chapter.  

For other posts on this book see Links below:

Grace 1
Grace 3

Sunday, September 20

Pondering the Psalms - Psalm 13

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

Today I'm looking at Psalm 13

This is not one of those very well-known Psalms.

This Psalm falls into three parts:

V. 1-2
It was because of his enemies that David turned to God here and cried out.
He could feel the oppression of the enemies but not the presence of God.

V. 3-4
David wanted to be refreshed so as not to get tired and relax and let down his guard.

V. 5-6
Even just crying out to God has started to change David and he starts to look on the positive side of God's goodness to him.
Appears that perhaps David has realised that his feelings do not have a direct correlation with the presence of God.

God's presence is not dependant on our feelings.

David had questions about the presence of God because he could not feel that God was with him or showing him favour.  He was questioning himself and was sorrowful because of the oppression of the enemy.
How often do we feel like David did?
Do we tell God truthfully how we feel - Yes I know we can say that God knows how we feel, but He also wants us to keep up communication with Him and we can start with expressing our feelings truthfully.

David knew the situation he was in was a grave situation.
He knew death could be the result of the heaviness and tiredness he felt in the midst of his situation because he could do the wrong things, make unwise decisions when he felt as if he was not in counsel with God.

This Psalm ends up with David lifted up in his spirit and therefore refreshed.
Just by thinking on God and restarting communication with God which we may even feel is one-sided can change our outlook and determination in any situation.

Yes David may have started with

"How long will thou forget me, O Lord"

but ends with

It is important we remember to keep an open communication with God.

Talking to God, even when it starts with moanings about what seems to be happening around us, will end up with us thinking of God and not dwelling on ourselves.

Saturday, September 19

Christian Songs for Kids - Jesus Loves Me

Do you find it hard to get visuals and recordings for different kids songs?

I have always found this a problem so I am now sharing songs that I have used with children providing you with

(Powerpoint or Picture or details of how you can make one) 

(chords also available)

(mp3 or video to learn the song) 

Then if you would like to download the visual of the song there will be a link provided to my creation, or I will direct you to where else you can find it.   

This month I am taking the theme of

The Love of Jesus

The song I have chosen is 

Jesus Loves Me

This must be the most well known Christian song for kids.

Based around  Ephesians 3 v 17-18

The first verse and the chorus were written by Anna B. Warner and then other verses were added at two different times later.

When one of my kids was very young they misheard the words and for quite some time they thought that everyone was singing "Tea is weak but He is strong" and we still talk & laugh about that today even though he is now a Pastor.


Bible Photo credit:

To Download a copy of this Powerpoint slide presentation for projecting    
CLICK HERE for (4:3)
CLICK HERE for (16:9)

To Download a copy of this visual for printing on A4 Card    


Jesus loves me this I know
For the Bible tells me so
Little ones to Him belong
They are weak but He is strong

Yes Jesus loves me

Yes Jesus loves me
Yes Jesus loves me
The Bible tells me so

To Download a copy of these words with chords for guitar and piano 


Jesus  -  Simply point and look upwards
Loves me this I know -  Place two hands palms over heart

For the Bible tells me so  -  Bring hands together in front and open them to represent a book

Little ones  -  Hold hand palm down to your side indicating small height

To Him belong  -  Simply point and look upwards
They are weak   -  Flop both arms down by your side
But He  -  Simply point and look upwards
Is strong  -  Make fists with both hands and hold up to represent strength 


This may be a suitable video for pre-school children

Written by Anna B. Warner 1860    Ref. by William B. Bradbury 1862
This song is in the Public Domain, see HERE for further info

Wednesday, September 16

The Day the Wave was Too Big for Me! - A Dose of Encouragement

You have probably often seen me write that I am from Northern Ireland and if you don't know too much about our lovely "wee" country then here is one great fact:

Northern Ireland has some really great sandy beaches

it's just unfortunate that we do not have the really great sunny weather to go with them.

However when you are very young you don't think so much about the weather you just get excited when you are going to the beach.

I have various memories about playing in the sand but one of my strongest memories was when I was quite young.

Dad was watching me,
         but I didn't know he was watching me.

I wasn't looking to see if he was watching me.

I wasn't even thinking about him at all.

That was when it happened.

Other times I had filled my bucket with no problem at all.
Running up and down the beach from mum and dad to the water's edge trying to get enough water to fill up a hole or a moat that dad and I had dug round a little sandcastle.

But this time it just caught me off guard.

The wave was probably not much bigger than the one before but it seemed so much bigger to me as it knocked me over and water filled my eyes and mouth.  I was terrified and so shocked I couldn't even try to get up and I think I screamed but I'm not sure.

I have never liked water over my face and still don't let a shower pour over my face or put my face in the water when I swim.  Maybe it is a result of that day or maybe I was always like that but certainly that day the water covering my face scared me.

It was not long before my dad grabbed me and lifted me out of the water and carried me up the beach to my mum, although to me it seemed like ages. 

Approximately a year before the wave

I don't remember much more about that day except for the time when I kept pulling away from my mum as she tried to brush my hair after I had been bathed and I didn't want her to do it because of all the tats in my hair.

Having since had a daughter with long hair I know the times when it was a joy to brush it and other times when it was an ordeal to brush it so I can understand that it was not pleasant for me or my mum that evening going through the entanglement of my hair.

The solution my mother decided was to whisk me off to the hairdresser the next day and get it cut

Some months after the wave

That day at the beach I had no cares just the determination of wanting to get enough water in my bucket each time I ran to the sea.  So engrossed in my plan I didn't think about the wave let alone notice it coming towards me.

But my dad did.

My dad saw me run down to the sea.

My dad saw the wave.

My dad saw me get knocked over and came running straight away to rescue me.

My dad was watching out for me, keeping an eye on all that I was doing and where I was going.
He knew exactly what was happening around me while I played happily on the beach, oblivious to everything else.

Probably I didn't even realise that my dad was always doing his job of protecting me, that my parents were always thinking of my well-being; because as a child we just take for granted that we are the centre of the world.

I am thankful that God is my Father and He is even better at watching over me than my dad could ever be.

He sees the waves that come at me.

God sees me wherever I go, whether happily or unhappily.

God sees the waves that come at me before I feel them hit me.

God sees how they affect me and He is immediately there to take care of me.

God is watching out for me, keeping His eye on all that I do and everywhere I go whether physically or in my thoughts or spiritually.

God knows everything that is going on around me when I do not see any of it at all.


God sees you wherever you go whether happily or unhappily.

God sees the waves that come at you before you feel them hit you.

God sees how they affect you and He is immediately there to take care of you.

God is watching out for you, keeping His eye on all that you do and everywhere you go whether physically or in your thoughts or spiritually.

     God does all this
          even when you are not thinking about Him
               even when you are not talking to Him about the situation
                    even when you are not aware of what is going on around you.

God knows everything that is going on around you when you do not see any of it at all.

We do have to play our part but it is a simple part to play

All we have to do is trust Him

All we have to do is trust Him.

When my dad grabbed me out of the wave - I trusted him because he was my dad.

So let God be your Father and trust Him

Sunday, September 13

Pondering the Psalms - Psalm 91

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

Today I'm looking at Psalm 91 

This is one of the Psalms that are full of Promises.

Lets look at the promises we have from God if we simply abide in His presence.

He will:

V. 1
keep us under His shadow

V. 3
deliver us from the snare of the fowler
deliver us from deadly pestilence

V. 4
cover us with His wings of protection
cover us with His shield of faithfulness

V. 5-6
take away our fear by day or night

V. 7-10
not permit the wicked to come near us

V. 11-12
give His angels charge over us to guard us

V. 13
give us authority over satan

V. 14-16
directly give us the assurance of
  • deliverance
  • protection
  • answered prayer
  • companionship in hard times
  • salvation
  • satisfaction in life
  • honour in Him
  • long life

A Psalm of Promises.
Such a long list of promises and He is the one who can fully keep these promises.

A Psalm of Declaration.
The Psalmist declares these promises and so should we.
The more we read them and say them the more we will see the greatness of our God.

A Psalm of Praise.
The Psalmist is praising God in the way he is acknowledging all that God does for us.

A Psalm of Promise, Declaration & Praise.

Do we think enough about what God has promised to do for us?

Do we also think on the part we have to play in this relationship with God?

Remember God is faithful and will not forget His Promises.

Are we dwelling or abiding in His Presence?

Friday, September 11

How to PREPARE for a Car Boot Sale! - 13 Helpful Tips

Very busy recently with clearing out some of our daughters things from our house while she was here for a short holiday from South Korea.

She was sooooo good about making decisions on the things that she had left behind in our Guest Room.

I should have taken pictures of the before but I didn't think at the time.

Anyway she had things in:
  • two sets of drawers, 
  • one hanging rail 
  • several bags and boxes piled up in another hanging area

Now she has things in:
  • one sets of drawers, 
  • half of one hanging rail 

Didn't she do well!!

She spurred me on so that I packed up quite a few things for the Church Car Boot Sale (as well as the things she was donating) and actually was able to go and help out at one of them.

Here again I should have got some pictures of the Car Boot Sale but hindsight is a great thing.

I do have some pictures of the things I decluttered and put out for the Car Boot Sale however.

Car Boot Sale

Before going to a Car Boot Sale it really is a good idea to be as organised as possible as well as making sure that the items you are going to sell are clean and not broken or chipped.

I was going with a friend but we were both taking our own cars and setting up our own tables.

# 1.   Make sure you go early, yes earlier than the organisers of the Car Boot Sale tell you to be there because the people who want to buy will come early and you really need to be set up first.

We parked the cars side by side and had our Church Charity Banner to tie between the two cars.

# 2.   If you are selling for a charity or special cause do make sure you have some kind of banner or sign up because some people will be a little more generous when they know the money is not just going into your pocket.  

Our church has been doing this for a few years now so we have a good banner and we also have some postcard sized cards with more info. printed for giving out.

I have two tables to take with me:  a large square one and a small, low rectangular one.

# 3.   Not everything you have for sale should be on the one table and two different heights is also a good idea drawing the eyes to look around more.

# 4.   A table always looks better if you have a cloth draped over it.   Yes you are selling things cheaply but presentation still draws people to look more closely.

Then I can also put some baskets on the ground too.

I put all the Dvds into one basket

I put all the books into one basket

I put small items that I could charge 20p for into a tin

I put items I could charge 50p for into a basket

# 5.   Not everything you have for sale should be placed on the table for everything to get moved around by the buyers as things will get hidden from sight and the tables will start to look very untidy very quickly.

# 6.   Putting similar items eg. the dvds into the same basket will draw the buyer to take a minute to look through each one.

# 7.   Smaller items are better in baskets, boxes or tins to have less items falling on the ground or getting missed under larger items and simply to keep the area neater.

I put all the clothes into one bag for carrying there and then they can be placed neatly on a table or hung up on a rail.

# 8.   Clothes should always be kept separate where possible so that people can spread them out and have a good look at them without hiding the other items for sale and a rail shows garments off better than having them all bundled on top of each other on a table.

I put all the kitchen, dining or ornamental things in one bag for carrying to the Car Boot Sale and then these would be placed on the table there.

I put all the candles into one lidded container

# 9.   Use sturdy plastic containers which can be placed on the ground giving another place for buyers to look instead of everyone at the same time trying to stretch over the main table.

I placed all the Christmas items in one bag together.

Yes I know it's only September but people are buying Christmas decorations already.

# 10.   Christmas items will sell at any time of the year but it is better to keep them to one side of the main table or on the smaller table so that they have a specific place and do not seem strange mixed in with other household items.

I had a brand new King size Sheet and a brand new pair of pyjamas to take as well

I had 3 large craft type bags and two handbags but only took this picture of 2 of the bags (all 3 large craft bags sold easily - should have asked for more money)

# 11.   Bags are always an attraction for the ladies to have a look at but remember to try to display them nicely and not just throw them into a bag or box as they are never seen to their best advantage in that way.

I also had a pile of hangers to use or to sell

I also made some notices on card to show the price of the items in certain containers

# 12.   Never go to a Car Boot Sale without some price signs.  People will buy quicker when they know the price (and maybe try to do a deal), whereas they may think twice about asking for the price of every object they are interested in.

All of this makes it easier for you to:

  •  pack the car to go to the sale, 
  •  unload unto the tables and ground for the sale, 
  •  pack the things away again into the same bags 
  •  lift the baskets back into the car.

Then of course when I got home again it was easy to unload the bags and baskets etc. into the garage to wait for the next one.

Of course there is the last very important thing that you must never forget and should have it prepared in advance.

#13.   Don't forget to have a float of money with you (and a safe place to keep it) to give 
your customers change from the nice large notes you hope they will be parting with 
and also of course to pay for your spot at the event.

A Car Boot Sale can be hard work but if you are friendly with the people who come to look around then they will be friendly too and make the event more pleasant.   Plus going with a friend means you can have a chat now and again and a break for coffee as you can take it in turn to look after both sets.
So it can actually turn out to be some Funwork instead of Housework for a morning.

The first time takes a lot of preparation but once everything is well thought out and good containers acquired each time afterwards is easier to prepare for and more importantly the prep time is so much shorter.

Then just think of the help this will be in decluttering and organising your home.