Showing posts with label family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label family. Show all posts


The 3 Sided Kiss - A Dose of Encouragement

All those years ago when we only had one child.

Yes way back then we started a "Black Family" phrase

"The 3 Sided Kiss"

Very simply it was the result of our first child Jonathan trying to kiss both Fred & I at the same time, and it worked!

The three of us would laugh and squeeze in together for that family kiss.

Two years later Jonathan could no longer call for a 3 sided kiss because our family had grown to 4 with his brother Daniel.

But then he simply just called for a "4 sided kiss" and Daniel grew up being squeezed in as we tried (somewhat successfully) to make this new family kiss happen.

It took another 3 years for it to turn into a "5 sided kiss" when our daughter Linda was born.

Now a 5 sided kiss was not easy to try for and really not a success but for many years the 5 of us would just throw our heads together and end up kissing whoever was nearest.

Somehow just the idea of all of us trying to be united in this simple kiss would put a smile on our faces and make us giggle and haven't we been told on numerous occasions that it is good and healthy to laugh together.

It is the little things like this that make each family unique, the silly things that we laugh at, the unusual things we share, the days, weeks, months and years that have bonded us together to make up this special relationship.

No two families will have the same relationship.

Have you ever thought about our relationship with Jesus?

We all have a unique relationship with Jesus

We all have a unique relationship with Him and that is wonderful to know.

We have all had a different length of time shared with Him,

          different words spoken to Him,

                    different tears shed with Him,

                              different joys shared with Him,

                                        different gifts received from Him,

                                                  different requests made of Him,

                                                            different answers accepted from Him.

We may share the same Saviour, yes He is the Saviour sent into the world for everyone, He is the Saviour who loves each one of us, but we do not share the exact same relationship because we have all be created uniquely, we have all had different experiences in life and we all have different thoughts and feelings deep within us.

 It is great to know that He is the only one who knows all those secrets (good and bad) that He loves us and cares about all that matters to us.

 It is great to know that He wants to have this unique relationship with us now and forever.

Now that Daniel and Suzie are married and we have a baby grandson we should be calling for a 7 sided kiss but I think we all know that is just impossible.

When Matthew is a bit older I'm sure we will tell him about the "family kiss" and I think Grandma, Grandpa and Matthew could start the tradition all over again with the new "Black Family 3 sided kiss".

Congratulations! - A Dose of Encouragement

Our family "The Black Family" has changed dramatically in the last 3 years.

This change had nothing to do with Fred and I moving house or country or the children moving.

This change all took place here in Northern Ireland.

Our son Daniel told us he had met a girl.

Nothing unusual there as he has met and dated a few girls but usually we did not meet them within 4 months; if we met them at all.

He was telling us that Suzie was going to join us for lunch at the restaurant in Belfast where all of us were going to meet him.

Poor Suzie to have to meet us all together like that.

So that was the start of what we knew was likely to be a good relationship.

Then about a year later we were not surprised when Daniel came to tell Fred & I that he was going to get engaged on Suzie's birthday in April but we had to help him in the surprise.

We were delighted to help.

Suzie's parents were happy too.

Her dad had already named one of his lambs after Daniel.

So of course after an engagement we expected a wedding to be thought about and a date decided and plans started to be put together and well that could take a year or more depending on what type of wedding etc.


One month later they tell us they want to get married at the end of October that same year - 5 months away.

Things are moving fast!    

                  In the Run Up to the Wedding.

As October approaches everything is getting organised - even my problem of  What will I wear???

Because they wanted to do a lot of the preparation themselves it became a very busy time for the excited couple.

And then the day had arrived and what a happy day it was.

This was so very true it was the best day of their lives  -  so far.

We had a newly married couple settling into a new home, starting a new life together and working hard at their jobs.

Over a year later Fred & I got a special visit and a present for each of us.

Now what special occasion is this one?

                        Not Christmas.

                                          Not our wedding anniversary,

                                                                                Not either of our birthdays.

But a very special occasion for all "The Black Family" again.

The announcement that we were going to become grandparents.

Then we had all those long months to wait to welcome our first grandchild 


into the world 

Monday 2nd November 2015.

Now there is another beautiful addition to "The Black Family"

He is such a Blessing to have in our family.

Matthew is now 16 days old and one of the "Black Family Boys"

So from engagement to wedding and then a new baby means that the Black family went from 5 to 7 in less than 3 years and nothing but smiles on our faces.

What joy to have welcomed two new members of the family and happy days to be shared together.

We are thankful to God for these blessings.

We often only know how great things are as we experience them and that is another joy God has given us in our lives.

God gives the biggest blessings

In October 2013 Daniel and Suzie thought their wedding Day was the "Best Day of their Big Black Lives".

Now in November 2015 they know that the miracle of the birth of their son was the

"Best Day of their Big Black Lives"

This is a great example of how God is never finished with our lives 
even when we think we've had the biggest blessing 

He can give us more!


Family Photo Shoot - Xtra Special Day

Sometimes our Xtra Special Days are a long time in coming!

What I mean is they are thought of

          and partly planned

                    but then may take weeks,

                              months or sometimes years

                                        to actually take place.

Take our FAMILY PHOTO SHOOT for example.

This one was thought of by me many years before this, definitely prior to 2004 when we moved from Northern Ireland to Belgium.

It was then decreed by our kids in 2007 as the gift they were going to give us for our 30th wedding anniversary that August while we were still living in Belgium.

It actually took place in February 2013 after we had returned to live in Northern Ireland.

I guess this shows that we are not a family ruled by the mother anyway!

We were always (well practically always) flexible in when we did things before we went to live in Belgium but then while we were in Belgium Daniel was living in Northern Ireland, later Linda was mostly at university in Norwich and then Jonathan was pastoring in Leeds so it became harder to arrange times for specific things that were to be all-family events and there were certain things that we really wanted to still share together as a family.

The problem is I always say we should do something and then think "Oh when will we ever get it organised" instead of just going ahead and putting them all on the spot and saying "Right we need a date".

Let me go back in time and explain that this was not our first Family Photo Shoot.

Approximately a year after each of our children were born we had a family photo taken, so we have the early years where the family grew in number from 3 of us to 5 of us.

Then another one took place in 1992 just a few weeks before we left Northern Ireland to go live in Delaware in the US for 3 years.

This was also done by a professional photographer although it took place in our home.
There was one of the extended family involving my parents, my sister's family and then this one of our family which meant we had one with the kids in their pre-teen years.

My father died a few months after we returned home to Northern Ireland in 1995 so it definitely was a good time to have taken those pictures and the fact that all the grandchildren had already been born was just another blessing.

Several times in the following years I would say we should have another family picture taken because the kids were older but all through their teen years they were not so keen on the idea.

Finally the spurt of energy was on for this Photo Shoot to be done in Feb 2013 as our daughter Linda was heading off to South Korea at the end of the month and for that moment at least there were 4 out of the 5 of us living in the same country and within 40 min drive of each other.

Okay, so a plane journey was still involved for Jonathan but when we were trying to do this a couple of years ago in Belgium it could have meant 3 plane journeys from 3 different places to get us all together.  And of course Jonathan wanted to come visit and see Linda before she set off anyway.

Then the question was "What to wear?"

  • Do we take an change of outfit so that we have a formal and casual one?
  • Will we clash if we don't talk this over first?
  • Is there anything we should avoid wearing?

         Well we really did talk it over but .....

1.  Linda and I still ended up in colours which looked very similar in the pics yet no-one thought they were that close in reality, and we were living in the same house at the time.

2.  The boys ended up in almost matching casual shirts (my dressing them to match when they were very young could not possibly have had any influence on this as they have always told me how they didn't like it).

3.  The more formal outfits presented us very much as a black, white, grey type of family!!

The photographer was very nice and easy to talk to.
Some of us have no problem in front of a camera but the rest of us just do not relax too well in that kind of situation  -  eyes close at the wrong times, we speak or giggle at the wrong times, etc.

Well when it actually happened I really enjoyed the Photo Shoot - as much as a person who hates getting her picture taken can possible enjoy it.  But of course what I really enjoyed was the family being together, laughing and joking and knowing that we were actually doing what we had always planned for.

Anyway one hour later and we are all done and hoping that we can manage to have a few decent pics to choose from out of the dozens he took.

We did some more formal wear pics like the one above and then some casual wear and you can see our almost matching shirts and colours.

Unfortunately Linda was off to Korea before we had a chance to go back and view the pictures but that was ok as we were all able to view them online and make our lists of our favourites.

Now that was the next problem such a long drawn out procedure as it turned out that we had very different opinions as to what we each liked or didn't like.

In the end (months later) I just had to make the final decision on what to get and Fred & I were pleased with that even if the kids had a few comments.  I never claimed we were the perfect family just a loving family.

Of course when I think of that day I know that it wasn't just the photo taking time that I enjoyed but also the coffee time afterwards when we found a little coffee shop in Hillsborough, County Down, Northern Ireland.    It was nice to sit and chat about the different poses and how we thought it all went and relax together before heading back to our house in Banbridge.
Not only did we get good coffee but we also discovered they make great cheesecake as well.

I'm thankful that we were able to have this opportunity to have another family photo together because with Linda in South Korea & Jonathan in Leeds
we have only been together again twice. 

If you are trying to think of a nice way to celebrate a specific time in the life of your family why not go for a Photo Shoot.

And don't forget the coffee time together afterwards.


Who's the Bestest Boy in the World? - A Dose of Encouragement

Okay!  I know there is no such word as "bestest". 

 I even knew that before my spell checker 
told me so.

We have 2 boys and a girl in that order.

JONATHAN  was born 5 years after we married and was named for Jonathan in the Bible because we felt God telling us to do this as Jonathan had been the right friend for David.

DANIEL was born 2 years later (well just 2 weeks short of 2 years) and was named for Daniel in the Bible because we felt God telling us to do this on the morning shortly before he arrived.

LINDA was born 3 years and 3 months later and was not named for anyone at all, we simply only felt led to this one girl's name.


DANIEL  means  GOD is my JUDGE


You could not imagine the number of times Linda has said  

"How come the boys got Bible names and I didn't?"  

but more often than that she has been happy with her name and what it means.  

When Jonathan was still a small baby I started to say  

"Who's the bestest boy in the world" 

and lift up his two arms above his head and say 

"Jonathan is"

It always got a smile from him and soon he was able to lift his hands by himself as soon as he would hear me say the familiar phrase.

So when Daniel was born we did exactly the same thing with him and got the same reaction of 

"Daniel is"

while Jonathan would shout 

"me too"

and eventually we had two small boys running around reacting to the phrase together. 

 Never really with any queries about how the two of them 
could both be the best.

Then when Linda arrived, we naturally had to make a slight change and say 

"Who's the bestest Girl in the World".

It was simply a little "in phrase" that was special to the five of us.

But at the same time it was something that I sort of secretly hoped would show them how much we believed in them and inspire them to believe that they were of great worth.
Did it work?

    Well one thing I have always been so happy about in our family is that there was never any competition between the children, they all accepted that we thought they were all the bestest in the world and they seemed to have thought that about each other too.  They are each proud and supportive of what the others have done in the past and are doing at present.

    All three are unique individuals with some very similar interests but also some very different interests and always have been.

Jonathan is a Pastor, also working on his Phd in Theology and lives in Leeds in England at present.

Daniel is the manager of a Church/Charity based Cafe and the Sound Engineer in his church.  He is now married and living in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Linda is an aspiring writer, has written a novel (unpublished) and working on a novella but also teaching English as a foreign language in Gangneung, South Korea at the moment.

All three of them are saved, love worship music and play the guitar, as do Fred and I but it has to be admitted that the 3 guys are better on the guitar than us girls.

All three of them love babies; I know most people do but they go to the extent of having to take many pics & videos of their cousin's little boy and share them with us all.

Were we telling them the truth when we used that phrase with them for years?

Strictly speaking - possibly no!

But to us parents, YES.  

We thought of each of them as being the best because we loved each of them the same.

They were good children but probably not the best children in the whole world.
And also who are we to judge who is better than anyone else.
But this phrase meant a lot to us and to them and I do believe that it made them feel loved and happy and accepted and contented all those years ago.

At the Grand Canyon while we were living in the US over 20 years ago

Of course that phrase is not the only thing that would have led them to grow up with love and acceptance but then there are always a lot of factors in the formation of anything.

All I know is we loved them greatly and they knew they were loved and they loved us and each other.  Then later they grew to know about God and the salvation he has offered us through His Son Jesus and they each acknowledged that they needed to ask God's forgiveness and accept this gift from God.

Who inspires you?

I would like to think that if our children had been asked this question when they were young they would have included Fred & I in the answer.

If you ask me that same question today my answer would have to be, my 3 children Jonathan, Daniel & Linda for the people they have turned out to be, not dependent on us, not intimidated by others and taking a stand for God. 

What more could parents want in the lives of their children?

I am thankful to God for the husband and children He has given me.

Loving our Children in 14 inches of Snow!!! - A Dose of Encouragement

On 14th March 1993 our family awoke to 

14 inches of snow at our front door. 


Needless to say this was not in Northern Ireland, nor in Belgium but in the lovely village of Hockessin in the state of 

Delaware, USA.

The kids were young then and Fred and I were full of energy then too so as Fred dug down into the hard packed snow on the driveway and cut it away in blocks the kids and I used them to make an igloo on the front lawn.

Of course we could not form it completely to curve it in so it was an open-top igloo.

Then our neighbours (another couple from Northern Ireland) came out and we all went round to the back of our houses to enjoy sledding down the slope of our gardens which was a good distance because none of the houses had boundary fences or hedges or walls.  In fact our home garden just merged into the woods behind our neighbourhood or estate (as we call it in the UK).

We just got on the sleds and slid until we came to a natural stop, or an unnatural one where we ended up across the side cul-de-sac and up to the front door of another house (but that was mainly Fred).

That is one of the greatest memories we have of winter in Delaware.

Well last Saturday here in Banbridge, NI we had some snow and even though it made us think back to all those years ago, we could not even make a snowball let along an igloo in our front garden here.

Making lasting family memories is good for children.

Memories are great, especially when they make us smile or laugh, and they are something special that we have to share together. 

However we need to have spent time together to form these memories and these days I often look at the kids in church and everywhere else and wonder what memories they are building up with their families for the future while they are so engrossed in all these electronic games and gadgets. 

I am thankful to God for all the places we have been and all the experiences we have had as a family over the years but I'm also grateful for the fact that we became Christians before we got married and had our children so that God was a part of our marriage and family life together because that makes such a difference.

Are there any children in your neighbourhood or church who do not have the privilege of growing up in a Christian family?

Can we not find some ways of making a difference for Jesus in the lives of these children?

You may be interested in some other 
 Doses of Encouragement