“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:17 (NKJV)
In the first quarter of 2021, I started a “Give Thanks Jar” at home where you can write a little note of thanksgiving any time and drop it in. No one was allowed to read any of the notes till the last day of the year. A great idea to instill thankfulness, especially in a day and age where my kids can be so self entitled at times. Myself included!
I got a plain jar from the AS-IS section at Ikea and customised it little with my trusted Sharpie markers. The thanksgiving corner includes the customised jar, stacked of plain coloured paper and a pen.
We finally unveiled the jar just before the girls’ bedtime yesterday. Taking turns drawing out a note and reading them aloud. Much to be thankful for as we review the notes and recalling events.
Ending the year with an awesome gift of God‘s opened door; I passed my RES exam!
“A soothing tongue is a tree of life but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.” Proverbs 15:4
The catchy tune of “Fruit of the Spirit” by Uncle Charlie has been a recent favourite on the girls’ playlist and they managed to pick up the tongue twisting lyrics in no time. Living our lives with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control is a lot more daunting than singing it. Head knowledge does not translate to daily life application and God sees the latter. God sees our heart.
I had created fruit of the spirit family devotion, decorated Christmas tree with the nine fruits of the spirit previously and repeatedly told the girls off for not applying what they learn. It’s always easy to tell the girls’ the expected behavior in a situation but yet as an adult I can’t behave as I should when I am put in a difficult situation.
Modelling good behaviour and living a godly life to my girls has proven to be a daily challenge and God presented me a test.
Couple weeks back, hubby came into the bedroom with a letter in hand as I was about to read the bible to the girls before their bedtime…
Hubby: “You had the car last Wednesday morning right? Speeding ticket; $150 fine plus 4 demerit points.”
Oh my, it’s like returning the GST vouchers I just received! I recalled after finding out the location of the mentioned offence. I had brought older Gem to the zoo that morning before picking younger Gem from school and the fuel tank was running low. Knowing hubby needed the car that evening, I decided to be nice and make a detour, a deviation from the usual route, to fill up the tank for him. The following was my response/excuse in my defence.
Me: “Ya la, blah blah blah… had to fill up the tank for you. All your fault.”
Why did that even come out from my mouth? All the fruits of the spirit I know and taught crushed in the bin. No love, no joy, no peace, no patience, no kindness, no goodness, no faithfulness, no gentleness, no self-control. The ugly side of me displayed before my girls. I know speeding has no connection to the route, to me being nice to go pump petrol etc. but the natural reaction just like Adam and Eve was playing the blame game; creating excuses.
Oh, I just wanted to dig a burrow and hide! Ashamed of the summon, my reaction and in my heart, I remembered I took the same route the day before, anxious if I will get another summon.
As parents, hubby and I quickly turned this into a lesson for the girls. A negative example, exactly what we should not do because mummy made the wrong choice and my reaction is not pleasing to God.
There was no love as I thought only for myself.
There was no joy as my reactions did not reflect my sovereign God was in control.
There was no peace as I was anxious about receiving another summon.
There was no patience as I sped.
There was no kindness in helping to top up fuel as true kindness does not expect anything in return.
There was no goodness. I was not ready to give.
There was no faithfulness as my actions did not glorify God.
There was no gentleness in my speech for playing the blame game.
There was no self-control as I spoke in haste.
One of those days where you rate yourself a zero for parenting! Let me try to be better tomorrow!
Anyway, hubby furnished my particulars and I have since received the notice. The Traffic Police has very kindly treat this incident as a warning. Thank you very much!
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)
Family had an early start this morning as we made our way to the Merlion Park to experience sunrise. We did our research the day before to determine our time of arrival for the event!
It was also a good time to educate the girls on the differences between dawn, twilight and sunrise.
We took a stroll from the Red Dot Design Museum to the Merlion Park during nautical twilight while watching the sky turned brighter. Finally found a spot to “park” ourselves after an argument with the mister. The girls were busy with their breakfast of overnight oats before painting with an awesome view in sight.
While today’s sunrise may not be the most spectacular I have experienced, it reminded me of a time some 7 years ago where I was nursing older Gem in NZ in the morning and the first light shone through the window blinds. How wonderful God has watched the family of three then, to a family of four now!
The sun comes up. It’s a new day dawning. It’s time to sing Your song again.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”. Genesis 1:1 (NKJV)
We began our study on the book of Genesis with the story of creation. There are many ways to approach the story of creation with young kids. What better way than to bring our kids outdoors and experience God’s creation firsthand. However, just this approach can be overwhelming for the young minds. Younger GEM and I spent a couple weeks to run through the six days of creation; reinforcing through craft and play using Spielgaben. We looked at the process of how God created the world, how it was carefully planned from the atmospheric elements to vegetation to lifeforms.
Other than using the playboards or story mats provided with the Spielgaben set as a base for play, I prefer to use alternatives such as mirrors, gym coloured markers or by creating your own!
Using Spielgaben 3-6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 we built scenes of creation from day one to six.
Day 1 – Light (Genesis 1:3-5)
First day of creation and it was light. Just like how Jesus came to be the light of the world (When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12). We used Spielgaben 8 – Sticks to spell “LIGHT” using a mirror base.
Day 2 – Sky and sea (Genesis 1:6-8)
We created our sky and sea background canvas by painting the Ikea roll of drawing paper. Light blue for the sky and a darker shade for the sea. This story mat will also be used for activities for day 3, 5 and 6.
Using Spielgaben 9, semi-rings to create waves. For the clouds, we used Spielgaben 7. Younger GEM enjoyed the process of creating funky shapes for the clouds. While it doesn’t appear to look like clouds to me, it certainly did for her! Her favourite was the rocket! Are you able to spot it?
Day 3 – Land, plants and trees (Genesis 1:9-13)
Using the same canvas as day 2, we painted the bottom right, brown, for land. We planted some flowers and her favourite apple tree using Spielgaben 7 and 8. We followed the Spielgaben guide for the flowers and apple tree. It was challenging for younger GEM to follow the guide so I had to assist her. For example, dissecting the “apple tree” by identifying the different parts that made up the tree and rote count the parts while looking for them in the respective drawers. Use your intuition on how much help your child needs.
Day 4 – Sun, moon and stars (Genesis 1:14-19)
We used a piece of drawing paper to create the day and night sky as our backdrop. Dividing the piece of drawing paper diagonally in half, younger GEM painted light blue (day) and black (night) on each half.
We used Spielgaben 7 and 10 to create shapes for the sun, moon and stars.
Younger GEM used a square piece for the centre of her sun initially and she decided it did not look quite like the sun and swap it for a circle. Let your child take their time and decide, let them think and rationalise for themselves. You will see they them delight in their accomplishments.
Day 5 – Sea and flying creatures (Genesis 1:20-23)
Scrolling through the Spielgaben user guide, younger GEM picked the sea otter (sea creature) and seagull (flying creature) to represent each of the two categories of animals.
Day 6 – Land animals, man (Genesis 1:24-31)
Again, using the Speigaben guide, younger GEM chose the bear to represent land animals. The bear mainly uses Spielgaben 3-6. Spielgaben 7 for the ears and 10 for facial features. She exclaimed that the bear was the easiest compared to the otter and seagull. Indeed, she could execute the task with minimal help since the parts (Spielgaben 3-6) used were 3D; much easier for her to handle.
Finally, God created man, which He claimed was “very good”. We added stickmen to represent Adam and Eve on our story mat.
At the same time, we used Spielgaben 7, 8, 9 & 10 and gym coloured markers, to form the faces of Adam and Eve. Each of the family members made our attempts!
“And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.” Luke 24:45
Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) adopts a four-fold approach of Question, Discuss, Listen and Learn. First we attempt the questions individully then the group discussions followed by a lecture by the teaching leader and end off with the reading of the notes. Each year studying a book or theme in the bible with your discussion group reassigned allowing you to meet ladies from all walks of life.
I started attending five years ago with the Women’s Day classes when older GEM started Nursery 2 after a church friend’s recommendation. My intention was to make better use of my time. Looking back now, BSF has been a great part of my life as well as my family’s. Although it can be challenging completing the “homework” before discussion, I always draw new insights from the study which keeps me going. To me, BSF is multi-facet; knowledge gain from the studies, non-judgemental discussion and sharing of God’s grace and mercy. It is not about finding the right answers to the questions but challenges you to think and change for the better in Christ’s likeness. It makes application of the principles learnt more natural. I feel recharged after each study.
BSF has been a great part of me especially in the first year of study when I was contemplating for a second child after a difficult six months post birth of older GEM. Seeing many ladies who have multiple kids (like 4 and 5!) and it just seems natural for them. Turning point came when someone shared with me the following verses.
“Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:28
“And as for you, be fruitful and multiply; Bring forth abundantly in the earth And multiply in it.” Genesis 9:7
God gave the same instructions, first to Adam and Eve then to Noah. I was encouraged. Younger GEM then came along!
BSF also conducts a Children’s Programme (CP) so the kids are well-taken care of while the ladies can participate in the group discussion and lecture in peace! The CP is run by CP leaders and each lesson’s study runs in tandem with the adults’. Younger GEM started her BSF journey at six months old. The CP leaders would pray with and for them, sing praises, have bible story and verse time. The highlight for younger GEM is “quiet time”, where the kids will lay quiet on their blankets for a couple minutes to be still before the Lord. She would often practice “quiet time” at home!
Then came COVID-19 where I thought BSF might come to a standstill but God has greater plans. BSF moved on virtually and group discussions started on ZOOM in February 2020. My mum, who is in her 70s, had to start going tech savvy in order to participate in BSF too! CP and lectures moved to recorded sessions.
Hubby and I started doing BSF questions together as couple studies in 2019. I have always asked him to join the Men’s Evening classes to no success so when BSF started a mini-study series of Noah over ZOOM, I signed him up. Subsequent to the mini-study, he signed up and is now a BSFer!
Thanks to daddy, older GEM is also on board, attending BSF over ZOOM every Monday! I must say she is the most disciplined amongst the family to complete the homework and pressure mounts when she asks if I have done mine!
So here we have the family studying the same passage of the bible each week with our respective groups!
I found it beneficial to make a case in point when I have to reprimand my girls for inappropriate actions or attitudes. Just the other day in the midst of their screaming and shouting at each other, I reminded them of how Joseph forgave his brothers for selling him to slavery. Joseph did not blame his brothers but shown forgiveness. As the study was still fresh in their minds, the girls apologised and gave each other a hug immediately.
Now you must be thinking that embarking on BSF is a huge commitment. It is! Try it out and see for yourself God’s purpose in your life!