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On the Purpose of Herbs and Dogs

Sometimes the purposes of God never cease to astound me. Nothing He does is by chance but by design.

For many years my husband and I have had an interest in herbs. We love to grow them, eat them and use them in various ways. At one time we had quite substantial herb gardens. Now, due to a different lifestyle, we simply grow a few herbs which require little maintenance.

Some we grow simply because they look good in the garden. Some are there because their history interests us. Some are edible herbs and we take pleasure in using them in breads and stews for example. One herb would often creep out of the garden and land itself in the lawn. Our neighbour would then comment on the wonderful aroma whenever the lawn was mowed. He said he and his wife would feel more relaxed at those times. Glad we could help!

As we learned about herbs we realized that herbs are more than just plants. In the spoken word of God at creation He actually planned to benefit man through various senses.

We just watched a T.V. show on “medical alert dogs”. These dogs both large and small have abilities way beyond our understanding.

On this programme we learned about a small dog which was trained to alert his owner whenever her diabetes was not balanced. He can let her know if her reading is too high or too low. Great news since she is not always aware of the changes in her glucose levels. Owning the dog gives her much more freedom.

In this same week we met a woman in the local shopping centre who had a medical alert dog with her. She suffers from epilepsy but has found that the dog can warn her of an oncoming seizure. Having the dog as her constant companion means that she can go shopping and is given enough warning to find a quiet corner, lie down and wait it out.

Dogs are used in many ways such as in rescue missions, hunting wild animals to protect them and in some animal eradication programmes to name a few.

Until recently I simply thought that God made dogs as pets but even in this area they serve us. Scientists now say that when we bond with our dog our blood pressure is lowered when we sit and stroke or pat them.

As I write this small article the family dog is lying next to my feet where he has been almost all day. He is a faithful little pet who adds a great deal of pleasure to all of our family.

As a thinking person I find it difficult to believe that all this happened by chance. No, for me, commonsense dictates that only a mind far beyond our comprehension could create such a world and place within it plants and animals for the sole benefit of man and I am in awe of Him!

P.S. I still don’t like the dogs to pee on the herb garden though!

A Disturbing Conversation

A recent conversation with one of our adult daughters almost ended in a disastrous argument. This ill fated conversation centred around a small country town in which she had spent many of her formative years. To clarify, she is not our birth daughter but we love her that way.

Anyway the basis of this “conversation” was that this tiny town has a high incidence of teenage pregnancy. When asked what she thought was the cause of this huge challenge the answer was “well there really isn’t anything else to do there.” Intrigued I couldn’t help but ask the obvious question “is there nothing at all for children and teens to do other than sex?” Again the answer “no, the council will not provide facilities for them. They only have a pool manned by volunteers, paid for by the community and only open through seasons other than winter.”

It was all I could do to stop myself asking the obvious question “am I to assume then, that all these teenage pregnancies begin in the winter months only?” I managed to stop myself from such a dry comment. Another question burning on my lips and of more significance to me was “How does the community pay for pool costs?” The answer was the expected one “They do fund raising through the year and the actual owner of the pool works as a volunteer without wages.” It is to be assumed therefore that he is independently wealthy. Another unspoken question desperately wanted to ask was “do the kids who use the pool help in raising funds to keep it open?” It didn’t need voicing because the answer was clear.

What on earth are we doing to our children? Our daughter is a lovely, intelligent woman with a heart of gold. However in her mind the government is at fault for teenage problems in this area because they do not provide enough activities for kids to do so they can be kids and play. Now I have no problem with community centres or with community facilities such as parks and pools but please don’t blame the government for not raising children with a moral compass and an ability to work out how to spend their time. It seems to me that would surely be the parents’ role!

I suggested that if the kids had nothing to do perhaps they could help with chores around the home. This was definitely met with negative comments as after all, children and young people need to be left alone to enjoy their youth. Dry comments such as “is being pregnant at the ripe old age of 15 an enjoyable experience do you think?” only caused anger and frustration.

We had to agree to disagree. She takes the view that children of today are totally different from children in previous generations. It would seem that their has been some change in the gene structure of babies at birth to cause this anomaly. At least that’s the only way I can understand it. I take the view that children of this generation are just the same as in other generations and that the challenge we face is in training parents to teach their children common moral values and a work ethic – an ethic to which she holds by the way.
I would like to talk more on this subject and probably will but wonder what others think? Please feel free to leave a comment in the box. I would love to hear your views.

Death by Chocolate

This was a big hit in our family over the Christmas break. Here in Australia Christmas falls on the hottest part of the year. No snow for us believe me!

The school holidays last for six weeks as the weather makes learning after lunch almost impossible. So we spend a lot of that time at the beach, at the river or at the local swimming pool. If those avenues to cool down are not available then we loll around the house reading, watching t.v. or sleeping away the stifling heat.

Six weeks can be a long time for school age children and boredom can be a challenge. So one morning the kids woke to signs welcoming them to “Death By Chocolate Day.” Here is how it went:

Breakfast: Cocoa Pops
Morning Tea: Chocolate Pop Tarts
Lunch: Sandwiches made of chocolate spread and strawberries
Afternoon Tea: Chocolate chip cookies and milk
Tea: Salad (they were begging for it lol)
Dessert: Ice Cream with chocolate flavouring [if they wanted it – most didn’t. Can’t imagine why not :)]

We watched an afternoon dvd.  You guessed it Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  We know chocolate is junk food but not much of that is available in our home and it sure was not requested for quite a while after. It was a great day and a huge memory builder.  Probably should have offered certificates after that I guess!

If you would like to make your own version of this idea check out this offer of a great chocolate recipe book available on the web. Here is the link:

http://chocolate.zooloot.com/how-it-works.php?ref_no=22457927423653

Or just click the banner on the welcome page. Enter your email address so the book can be sent. I have it as I am a shameless choc-o-holic. It’s well worth the small investment.

Make Even Ordinary Days Great

Every day can be great if you want it to be.

Apart from this site my husband and I run www.grandmastoyshop.com.au where we try to provide great toys and gifts that will add some benefit to family life or to individuals within it.

As part of this particular business we attend local markets with some of our products. Recently I attended a relatively small market on the waterfront. At this location there is a busker who mimes his character parts for gold coin donations. This time he brought along a small stereo and proceeded to “play” a harp while occasionally beeping a little horn  in time to the music.

It was a quiet evening with sporadic through traffic. Along came a small family comprised of mum, dad and a young child. They stopped by the busker with mum swaying to the music. The young child joined in with mum while dad took photos. They danced with joy as the busker put away his harp and danced with them beeping only his horn to the beat of the music. Some stall holders joined in while others looked on. The concert lasted three to four tunes before the parents made their donation and moved on.

They moved through the market examining the produce and making several purchases. Their young son was well behaved, occasionally wanting to handle an article which he did with parental supervision. Everyone enjoyed that family and their visit.

Did the nights entertainment cost the family much? Not really and mum explained that there little one displayed a real interest in music so they took every available opportunity to encourage this. They were not pushing him into anything just simply encouraging his interest. They made the evening a good time for everyone near the event.

Seems to me that it had been an average market up until that visit. The family took the opportunity which had presented itself and made the most of it. Perhaps we can do the same.

While we may not break into dance in public places we might find that we have just a few spare moments for a quick phone call to a friend or to write a thank you note for something we saw our children do today.

Even ordinary days can be made into extraordinarily great days by taking things as we come across them. In doing so we just may brighten someone elses’ day also.

Maybe one day you could be involved in something like this :):

Wise People – My Parents.

Recently my needle has been stuck on family traditions. I have been wondering if they have any value in todays society. Thinking back led to some interesting memories which I would like to share with you.

Family Picnics

We were raised in a low socio-economic family. In those days we just said that mum and dad didn’t earn very much, life was so much more simple then. Our parents worked long hours for little money so a picnic far from home was a rare event.

The favourite spot however was a national park quite some distance from home.  It didn’t have a great deal to offer except nature walks and pleasant picnic spots but to two city girls it was a great experience!The singing in the car wasn’t that great though.

The best part however was the finding of stone models of a pyramid and a sphynx. These were flawless examples of Egyptian monuments. On reading the plaque we found that they were built by a blind returned soldier. Amazing! He was totally blind and yet these were perfect in every detail. I think my parents knew about this when we first went there but they never acknowledged it.

What did we learn from these pleasant trips to the same place?

Well, we quickly learned that mum (who loved a cup of tea) would always forget the teapot – no tea bags in those days!

Everytime we visited that park we inspected the monuments and read the plaque. None of us ever tired of it. My sister and I learned that no matter the obstacle, if we want something badly enough we can achieve it with dogged perseverance and patience. After all this man did it, didn’t he?

Christmas.

We emigrated to Australia from England in November. My parents were very excited about their first Christmas in their new country. It didn’t take too long though for mum and dad to declare that there would be no more Christmas roasts in this heat.

From that first Christmas on our family joined another for picnics at various places. We enjoyed many different festive salad dishes which mum felt was much more in keeping with this new country they had adopted. Lots of fun but no more tradition or was there?

We continued this way until we children all entered adulthood and began raising our own families. Little by little the picnics away dwindled and we celebrated the occasion differently. Our parents were older, our children were younger and it was more convenient to celebrate in our homes now, at least that was what mum and dad suggested. They were right of course. Our friends had moved away so we all agreed that change was definitely in order. A new tradition began.

What did we learn from this change in our traditional Christmas celebration?

We learned to embrace change in all its different ways. Each stage of life needed to be accepted and enjoyed. Change is not to be feared. Tradition can be adjusted to suit differing needs. As mum was fond of saying “Nothing lasts forever.”

She was right of course nothing does last forever but somehow my parents wordless teaching has stood the test of time in her childrens lives. Wise people my parents!

Finding Time In a Busy Lifestyle

Some of us are raising a large family. We acknowledge that it is of vital importance to spend time with each individual member of that large family one on one, but this can be sometimes seem an impossible task.

Weekends are filled with a myriad of things which need to be done especially if both parents work outside of the home. There are chores to be done both inside and outside of the home. Then there is the weekly grocery shopping and on top of that at least one child has a sporting event of one kind or another. How in the world can you slot in one on one time with that type of scenario?

Here is one possible suggestion:

Allow the majority of children to stay home with your partner and tend to the normal necessary weekend chores. These can be assigned according to age and ability.

Then, in turns, take one child to do the shopping with you. Give them a minuscule amount of money (maybe two or three dollars) to spend as they wish. The amount is not important as long as it is small. While they help with the shopping they are free to choose the item/s they would like to purchase.

It’s fun to watch them trying to choose the one thing they would like for that amount of money. Many times they will struggle to choose but will eventually settle for something. You may be surprised at how ingenious they are  – some will have to spend it all even if they have to settle for something they don’t want, others will squirrel away some of the money because their eyes are on a higher prize, some want quantity only and will buy anything as long as it is cheap, some will want a toy and others only want lollies (candy). Some may even try to negotiate for more money but in this case the suggestion is that you hold firm.

With the shopping trip finally completed it might be a good idea to take home a lunch time treat. While the other children weren’t out shopping with you they have all been working so a treat is in order for all. It is also a great way to relax together after all that work. Only the one out shopping with you gets that small amount of extra money though.

What is the purpose of this exercise:

1.   The people at home learn the importance of working together to achieve a common goal. They also begin to understand the need to respect and look after the things we have. They might learn patience as they wait for their turn on the shopping roster also.

2.   One by one the children who shop week by week learn the value of budgeting. They understand that the small amount of money they have is all that they have for today. Not a bad life skill to acquire  while they are young! They also begin to realize that even though yours is a busy lifestyle there will always be time for them.

Over lunch together might I also suggest that if you had an enjoyable morning together you thank your willing helper for spending the time with you and for being a fun companion. Also thank the children who stayed home for doing such a great job. Come to think of it it might not be such a bad idea to thank your partner later also! This simple little thing will build into the kids a sense of  worth and don’t we all need that?

A Trip to the Mall

We are so used to hearing about crime, disrespect for others and a general lack of concern for the good of the community that I have to report this interesting trip to our local shopping mall.

We live a distance from any reasonable sized shopping centre and make periodic trips whenever necessity demands.  On this occasion a friend and I travelled together, so I actually had some spare time just to browse around.

Two young boys began tussling on the centre floor.  They were approximately 8 or 9 years old. Not an  unusual sight then, for this age group. As I looked on they both seemed  to be grappling for something. One of the boys said “Get away. I am keeping it.”  The other replied “It is someone elses’ money.”  With that he won the battle, grabbed the coin and high tailed it off to catch up with the man who dropped it. He returned that coin to its rightful owner who walked off smiling.

I think he was in shock – I know I was! That child needed to be rewarded for his honesty. It was hard to resist the urge to locate his parents and ask permission to give him money as a gesture for such good behaviour. On reflection though I thought that may cause resentment on the part of his brother. After all he may not have wanted that money for selfish reasons and his thinking patterns are that of a child still. In the end it seemed wiser simply to speak with the child and thank him for his honesty. It also seemed right to say that he should be proud of his actions. I praised him highly and he ran off with very straight shoulders.

Well done to the child and kudos to the parents who obviously have instilled high ethical and moral standards into their children. The battle for the next generation is not lost yet, it seems.

Following this incident I walked into the bookstore. Definitely one of my favourite places to be.  While I looked over the tantalizing titles looking for a gift for my son, another couple entered the store. The following conversation took place:

Owner “Excuse me”

Couple “Yes?”

Owner “I am really glad to have you in my store and appreciate your custom.”

Couple “Thank you?”

Owner “However, would you mind finishing your breakfast outside the store before coming in. I am sure you are very careful with food but it is so easy to damage books and make them unsaleable. I hope I haven’t offended you.”

The young couple left the store smiling and I am certain they will come back.  This owner may never have seen them before and there are clear signs urging customers not to eat within the bookshop. Regardless of this he did not berate them for not noticing the signs but treated them with respect and courtesy. It wasn’t appropriate to speak but maybe a written note to thank him for his courtesy might be in order.

That particular mall is in an area known for crime. It has a reasonably high crime rate but on this day the whole shopping experience was a pleasure. In fact this time I look forward to our next shopping experience. Now that is unusual.

The Message of the Skirt.

I’ve got to tell you this story, I just have to ^_^.

As most people know, we women (regardless of age) love to buy clothes. I am no exception. This being the case the majority of holidays (or vacations) taken with my daughter and myself involve a lot of shopping.

On our most recent holiday the family went on a day trip to our favourite shopping mall in another state. Each of us looking for a specific item of clothing. I spent the day looking for a grey skirt (had been looking on and off for a week actually) but right at the end of the day there it was! It was exactly the shade I wanted so I grabbed it and victoriously brought it back to my sons’ home. There I carefully laid it in the suitcase with visions of wearing it to church when we went home. Mission accomplished.

On arrival home I dutifully wore the skirt that first memorable Sunday. I was sure it looked great! First comment over a cup of tea “I like your skirt.” Now I felt good. “But you might like to look at the cotton on your hem.” Well it did seem like it was a little unraveled but I decided to ignore it and press on regardless to a restaurant for lunch with friends. I would deal with it later this evening at home.

Being a busy time of day we were forced to park quite a way from the restaurant. The shortest route was through an unkempt park but off we went. Next remark “It might be best to hide that cotton in your boots, it seems to be getting longer.” It was and I did.

On leaving the restaurant we walked through that park again. This time the unraveled cotton streamed behind me like a hideous and embarrassing train. Hubby (my hero) now remembered a penknife he had put in the car so off he went to find it. I carefully picked my way through the park but on getting to the other side realized I could not walk correctly. Something seemed to be holding me back, getting in the way of walking.

Finally at the car we examined the hem again and there was a small twig which we assumed to be the problem. My hero hubby took the trusty penknife and severed both cotton and the entangled twig. There was of course a small lecture on checking goods before we buy them but you get that!

On arrival at our next appointment I was not feeling so good about this new skirt – it definitely did not seem so glamorous now. Again I found it hard to walk so there, in front of everyone, hubby put his knife to work on an even larger length of cotton tightly wrapped around an even larger twig. Peals of laughter all around. My glorious skirt was definitely not looking its best – things are not always as they seem I guess.

God taught me something from that skirt. It could represent our lives. We want to walk with God and we genuinely want people to come to Him. So sometimes we take action without first examining the action we plan to take. We skip going to church (after all its only once) and we say we will go next week but we don’t. After a while our friends tell us that they miss us. We tell them its fine and we will be back in a week or two.

Then we continue on with our lives getting busier and busier. We become careless about spending time with God and reading His word. Just as I did not notice the cotton train on my skirt unraveling even more we do not notice that our relationship with God is not the same as it was.

Finally even we realize that the things that we considered important enough to keep us from obeying God and spending time with Him and with His people, are now hindering our walk with Him. No satisfaction here now!

My husband found a solution and attacked the skirt with a knife twice to fix the problem to some extent. I will of course have to repair it at some point. God is different though. John simply says “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) The forgiveness is immediate, the cleansing often takes time.

I’m grateful for the experience and the lesson it taught.  My prayer is that all who read this may heed the message of the skirt and take whatever action God would have you to take in order to live a life free from all hindrance before Him. I did and I am grateful.

Solving Daily Challenges with Respect

One of the tasks my son has taken on in our home is to hang the washing on the clothes line. He does this regularly and in general there are no issues except for one which continually rears its ugly head.

To him clothes do not look good on the line unless they are almost glued there with the pegs (clothes pins). Anything placed on the clothes line is literally jammed in place by the force of the pegs – I am sure a hurricane would not displace them! Delicate clothes often have holes in them where the pegs are jammed so tightly that force is needed to release them. It is a problem to which we have only recently found a solution.

At first we thought that new pegs which cannot be jammed on was the solution. Not likely :) His disability would not allow him to choose the new pegs over the ones he has always used.

Now we faced a choice:

1. We could and actually did place a trial set of the new pegs (pins) in the container and remove all the older ones altogether.

Problem solved or so we thought. Our actions were met with an angry response. My son felt violated that the decision to change was not his. He felt that we were treating him like a child. On reflection he was right, we had not considered his chronological age (he is over 21) nor his feelings in our problem solving equation. It had to be acknowledged that this was a failure in terms of the outcome. Another course of action needed to be found and implemented.

So. . .

2. All pegs were returned to their receptacle along with a plea to be a little less forceful in future. No change. Over morning tea the subject was brought up for discussion, this time with respect and caring. We outlined the challenge pointing out that property was being damaged on a regular basis. We also pointed out that regardless of how hard he tried he was unable to change the habit but that we understood that he did not mean to damage peoples’ clothing. We asked if he found it easier to use the newer pegs and his considered answer was “yes.” Then we asked his permission to replace all pegs on a gradual basis with the newer, easier to use pegs. He agreed and is happily instigating the new system. Everyone else in the family is happier also.

Lessons Learned:

1. Meeting the needs of the total family can at times be a minefield of feelings and emotions which must be considered.

2. Actions without forethought can result in hurt and anger rather than actually solving the problem.

3. Disabled or not, everyone needs to be respected and changes which involve the disabled person need to be discussed with him/her not just implemented without discussion.

Moral of the Story.

Think before you act.

P.S. If this article reminds you that you need more pegs (or clothes pins) you can buy them here:

Or maybe you want a whole clothes line:

Or maybe you want a whole clothes line:

A Plea for our Children

I recently saw a video on the heinous treatment of a harmless little boy who could not protest against his treatment.

BabyP as the courts have directed him to be called,  lived a life of utter despair. His mother found herself someone new who was nothing less than heartless. Their treatment of this little boy was simply unbelievable. His back was broken and he was tortured in more ways than we can imagine. Eventually, mercifully, he was murdered which released him from his torturous life.

This is an impassioned plea for parents, however young, to love and care for the precious life which has been entrusted to them.  Having a baby is rarely an easy task. They are not dolls and are forced to make demands on their tired parents. Babies cannot change their own nappies, they cannot feed themselves. They need their parents to care for them.

When we bring a child into the world we make a commitment to love, care for and nurture that special little being so that he will grow up to be all that God meant him to be. Becoming a parent is a wonderful blessing and a huge responsibility.  It means sacrificing your own freedom to care for and raise a child to become a happy, healthy adult. It does not mean that we have the right to harm him because he is a burden to us.

Parents who do these things to children deserve the punishment the courts meet out to them. However I wonder sometimes why it takes so long to act on the behalf of little people who cannot speak out for themselves. How many must die before we find a way to stop this cruelty. I don’t believe that we should give government more powers but I do think that there are times when they need to investigate more thoroughly rather than just make notes on behaviours.

Also if you are a parent who sometimes feels that they are in danger of perhaps going over the edge and seriously harming your child. Please, please, please seek help. If you can’t access support from your parents or other family members then approach others. Counselling services abound in every area, visit your local church and ask for help (you don’t need to be a member). If all you need is a break to sleep perhaps your friends might take your little one for a few hours at least.

Protect yourself, protect your child and go on to feel fulfilled in a way you could never dream. Don’t feel cheated of a life but embrace the future with hope and joy.

P.S. If you would like to see a video about this little fellow initiate a You Tube search for babyP. There is much there. I do apologize but I could not seem to make this particular video embed here.