Heart Reflections Live

Sunday, December 31, 2006

2006- What Impacted Me the Most...

What a tumultuous year it's been! What impacted me the most this year, was not the tragic death of Steve Irwin-despite the strong emotion experienced, living for 12 months in close proximity to Australia Zoo, when Beerwah for a week or 2 became the centre of world attention, but a tragic event & its astonishing aftermath that happened in the USA- the Amish school shooting.

It took a senseless tragedy like this, to show the world- and I dare say THE CHURCH what true Christianity & forgiveness are all about. These simple living, humble, camera-shy folk accomodated the world media by allowing a spokesperson to speak on camera of the tragic event, its impact, & the call to love & forgiveness in action as well as in word & in doing so became a witness to the world.

In their pain & grief, they realized that they were not the only victims:that the perpetrator had left behind a wife & child, ignorant of the horrible skeleton in his closet & his evil intent. What a beautiful act of grace & mercy it was to hear that the Amish had started a trust fund for his widow & child-he was after all their provider & protecter until that tragic day. They not only suffered loss, but pain & shame as well & maybe the fear that stigma can bring from guilt of association. My husband heard somewhere recently that they'd been invited for Christmas dinner, by one of the Amish families...

I've always been interested in Amish culture-living simply with family, in their community, where Jesus is worshipped openly in & through every aspect of their lives; being able to share that faith with outsiders who come into their midst- attracted & fascinated by the fact that they are indeed a "peculiar people"-KJV- & they don't blend in-isn't that what true Christianity is all about. I'm not holding them up as the perfect example of what God's Church should be. But Western Christianity can sure learn a lot from their witness this year & their simplicity in life contrasts greatly with the materialism that can come from an unbalanced prosperity message.

I'll get off my soapbox now & let God's Word be the final word:
"Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted by the world."- James 1 :27 KJV
posted by Father's Grace Ministries at 9:13 pm 0 comments

Thursday, December 28, 2006

If I Had My Life to Live Over...

Another year is coming to a close & the end of the year is always a good opportunity to reflect on the year that was to seek the Lord for His plans for us in the new one ahead. If you don't know our Saviour & Lord Jesus Christ yet, then there's no better time to repent of your sins, and to throw yourself into His arms of mercy & grace & receive His free gift of salvation.

For those of us who are walking with Him, it's time to gird our loins for the coming year, get into the Word & live each day, as if it could be our last. We need to keep our hearts & minds on what is Eternal, & not get pulled down by trivia & everyday worries. Let's live moment by moment & cherish each one...

If I Had My Life to Live Over
by Erma Bombeck

I would have talked less & listened more.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained & the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the "good" living room & worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up ona summer day because my hair had just been teased & sprayed.

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.

I would have sat on the lawn with my children & not worried about grass stains.

I would have cried & laughed less while watching television- & more while watching life.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.

I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil, or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Instead of wishing away 9 months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment & realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never had said,"Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.

There would have been more "I love yous"... more "I'm sorrys"... but mostly, given another shot a life, I would seize every minute...look at it & really see it... live it... & never give it back.
posted by Father's Grace Ministries at 8:05 pm 1 comments

End of Fantasy Series for Now

Regular readers will notice that I didn't do an Effects of Fantasy post this Tuesday. For the time being at least I'm discontinuing the series to write on other things. (Sorry for not letting you know earlier in the week.) If you found the series particularly helpful (or Not!) , please let me know or feel welcome to leave any questions on play, toys or fantasy in the comments section, & I'll do my best to answer your questions.
posted by Father's Grace Ministries at 7:57 pm 0 comments

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Babes In The Woods

This beautiful photograph was taken just over a week ago at a friend's 5th birthday party. Little Liana was 5 on the 17th of December, & Talitha had her 5th on the 11th. We met her parents at the ante-natal classes held at the hospital, before our beautiful daughters were born, & we still keep in touch.

You can't tell from the photo, but Talitha is "miles taller" than Liana, even though she eats the least of the 2.(People always ask what we feed her!) Liana's always had a very healthy appetite, but is quite small in comparison. It's hard to believe that they're only 6 days apart, when you see them standing side by side. Both the girls love healthy foods & are growing more beautiful with each passing year. Time flies too quickly!
posted by Father's Grace Ministries at 12:10 pm 0 comments

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Have A Blessed and Holy Christmas Everyone

To the readers of this blog,

Have a blessed, safe and Holy Christmas
May Christ's Love dawn anew in your hearts
As you celebrate with those you love this year.

God Bless You All,
The Roberts Family (Max, Claire, Talitha & Zara)
posted by Father's Grace Ministries at 12:03 pm 1 comments

Quiet My Heart, Lord

If you're feeling all stressed and shopped-out with the silly season, then this one's for you! We've stayed away from the shops as much as possible this year. We've enjoyed going out as a family seeing the Christmas lights & visiting different churches with their Christmas musicals & recreations of Bethlehem 2000 years ago-one of these we go to every year.

Quiet my heart,Lord,
And show me a Christmas
as peaceful & calm as
an old cattle shed...

Slow down my pace, Lord,
and help me seek Jesus,
the Son of your Love,
in a humble straw bed...

Steady my spirit, Lord,
call me from chaos
in simple surrender
to pray & rejoice...

Breakthrough the busy,
too-bright celebration,
and whisper your message,
"Be still...hear my voice..."

Be still, and know that I am God..."
Psalm 46:10
-Author unknown
posted by Father's Grace Ministries at 11:40 am 0 comments

Thursday, December 21, 2006

What's Your Favourite Christmas Carol?

My all-time favourite Christmas carol would have to be "O Holy Night". "Bethlehem Morning" & "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" would have to be 2nd & 3rd. I've heard a few different versions of "O Holy Night" over the years. Here are the lyrics to my favourite version.

O holy night , the stars are brightly shining. It is the night of our dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin & err repining, till He appeared & the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new & glorious morn.

Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices!O night divine! O night when Christ was born,
O night divine! O night O night Divine!

Truly He taught us to love one another. His Law is love & His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother & in His Name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in greatful chorus raising& all within us praise His holy Name!

Christ is the Lord! Let ever ever praise be! His power & glory forever more proclaim!
His power & glory forever more proclaim! O Holy night, O Holy Night
Jesus is Lord, Lord of all, O Holy Night...

So what is your favourite Christmas carol?
posted by Father's Grace Ministries at 2:38 pm 2 comments

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Effects of Fantasy- Part 4

Fantasy-It's Not Just Child's Play...

Adults watch in amazement as children recreate the world around them- through play. For children, play is not merely "having fun" but the method by which they gather information about the world around them. By playing, a child alone or with friends, uses toys & games to orientate himself to the world around him & rehearse adult roles.

Play is very important. It should be regarded as part of the "habit training & character building" phase of a child's life. Plus, children tend to learn more effectively when doing something enjoyable than by forced learning. Since play is an activity that children enjoy, it does have an effect on their views of the world.

Parents can influence how a child views the world by choosing toys that can help their child grow & learn. Toys need to be selected with care, because they effect the thinking process. (A good example here can be taken from one of my previous fantasy article where I wrote on Barbie & Bratz dolls.) Also toys that bring fear to a child should be avoided. Children should be encouraged to play with dolls, soft animals, & to act out different situations, because this allows children to imitate the adults around them- usually their parents.

Toys should help promote a wholesome personality. They should reinforce- not contradict- the positive values we are trying to instill in them- think Phillipians 4:8. Good toys should meet the following criteria: suited to the child in size & form, be educational as well as fun, help the child gain some competence for living in the world, promote good relationships with people, & arouse wonderment, imagination & creativity in the child.

I hope this information helps you understand more the role of play in the life of your child.
posted by Father's Grace Ministries at 10:52 pm 0 comments

Friday, December 15, 2006

Wisemen Still Seek Him...

I tore this poem from a Christian magazine over 10 years ago. It's sentiments are powerful & timely as ever, this Christmas Season.

Wisemen (by Janet Smith)
Christ came, the promised King, into this world.
By-passing pr incely palaces & thrones
He chose a cattle stall as his first home,
A straw-filled manger as his infant bed.
But wise men sought and found the royal child,
And, worshipping, they offerred costly gifts.

He came, the King of Jews, to Calv'ry's hill,
Labelled as such upon the tree of death;
His crown a thorny wreath, his kingly robe
The crimson mantle of his own life's blood.
Yet wisemen see He came to die for them,
And all else folly if it dims his cross.

He comes, the King of Kings. Some glorious day
The skies will open and the light be seen,
Not of angelic hosts, but of the One
Before whose face all other lights are dim.
And wisemen will be waiting, watching now,
In holy readiness to meet their Lord.
posted by Father's Grace Ministries at 10:44 pm 1 comments

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Effects of Fantasy- Part 3

Part 3 Dealing With the Santa Claus Myth

With Christmas fast approaching, & having discussions on the effects of fantasy on children, I felt that discussing "What to do with Santa?" was a natural progression & a natural one for Christian families.

This is what we do. I realize everyone is different & I'll welcome any comments sharing your views. We have come to our conclusions based on what we believe to be godly wisdom, & love & respect towards others.

1. The most important thing we do is aim for a Christ-centred Christmas. Our children know the Bethlehem story backwards & are far more excited over angels appearing than the big guy in the red suit. They know the Bethlehem story is a TRUE one. We foster this by talking of Jesus all the time, playing Christ-centred carols, & talking of Christmas being the day we celebrate Jesus' birthday. He is God's special gift to us. We take them to visit a couple of local churches that re-create Bethlehem in a tangible way. This has become part of our family's Christmas tradition.

2.We teach them the true story of Saint Nicholas. For those who don't know, Nicholas was born in AD 280 in Patara in Asia-Minor. He learnt of Jesus through his parents, who were faithful believers, but sadly they died when he was still young. The godly heritage they passed on to him took root in his heart & he entered the priesthood aged 19. He became the bishop of a small village & his influence spread into many nations.

Many accounts have been written about his life. He would spend nights studying God's Word so he could share it with the people, he reportedly raised twin brothers from the dead & lived to help the poor. The most famous story involved Nicholas secretly providing dowry money, to a poor man with 3 daughters, so that they could be married. While he was delivering the final dowry, he was caught out!!

When Nicholas died on Dec 6, 343 AD, he is said to have quoted Psalm 11 with his last breaths- "In the Lord I put my trust." December 6 became known as Saint Nicholas Day, & it was widely celebrated across Europe in different ways according to their countries' customs. His name varied from country to country- Father Christmas, Sinter Klaas, Belsnickle, Kris Kringle etc. All of these traditions blended with immigration to America & eventually he commonly became known as Santa Claus.

When "Twas the night before Christmas..." was written it brought us closer to the modern image of Santa, along with cartoonist Thomas Nast, adding a North Pole toy workshop in Harpers Weekly magazine.

The true story of Saint Nicholas is a story of loving & giving- not of a jolly red fellow who you can order toys from.!! When our children see a shop Santa, they sometimes say hello, but they are coming to realize he's just dressing up as St Nick. The real St Nick is in heaven with Jesus. They sometimes call him Father Christmas or Santa, but they don't believe he puts their presents under the tree. Their presents are gifts of love from those who love them.

We've avoided calling Santa "Satan Claws" or anything like that-they could ruin another child's Christmas and that's not walking in love. Everyone has a right to raise their children anyway they wish- even if they are wrong, so we must be wise as to how we approach such things. I feel it's more constuctive to handle things this way, than to turn them into Santa haters.

People's hearts are softer at Christmas time- let's use it as the evangelism opportunity it is. Let's face it, unbelievers are singing full-on songs about the deity of Christ-pray they'll get a revelation of the One they're singing about & show them "Christ in us the hope of glory" as we shine for Him!!

3. Lastly, please don't lie to your children about Santa...They take things to heart. When they find out you told them a fantasy about Santa, then they may think you're lying about the reality of Jesus too- that's my concern.

Anyway that's my view on Christmas & Santa-what's yours?
posted by Father's Grace Ministries at 10:14 pm 0 comments

Talitha & Zara Meet Terri Irwin

We recently visited Australia Zoo on Robert's (Baby Bob's) 3rd birthday. Entry is free to children on both Robert's & Bindi's birthdays & so many locals take advantage of the cheaper entry fees. There was extra children's entertainment on the day with Humphrey B Bear, Noddy & the Tweenies all appearing.

It was my first Australia Zoo experience- the rest of the family went a couple of months ago- & I really enjoyed it-especially the elephants. I don't think I've ever been that close to one before. I loved seeing our Australian native animals up close too-my favouites were the birds, kangaroos & koalas. We were running late for the tiger show, when who did we see coming towards us but Terri Irwin. Talitha politely asked for a quick photo & she was very kind & accomodating to both our girls. It was worth being late for the tiger show just to get that! You can see the excitement in Talitha's face!! She met Bindi's Mum! All things work together for good...

We saw an interview with Bindi & Terri on the TV last night- Terri's a tower of strength & is doing a great job raising her children despite the recent tragedy. I know many people have been praying for them.

By the way Bindi's "Kidfitness" DVD is great. Talitha received it as a 5th birthday present from Grandmother & Poppy & hasn't stopped bouncing like a kangaroo yet!
posted by Father's Grace Ministries at 1:11 pm 1 comments

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Morning Tea With Zara in our Sunroom

We have a 1970's glass sunroom on the front of our new house. It's a lovely place to sit & read the Word or for the girls & I to enjoy morning or afternoon tea together. I especially enjoy my one on one time with each of them.

When Talitha is at school, Zara & I often take out a little snack each, I sit in my wooden rocking chair, & Zara sits in the pint-sized one. Zara will be 3 in January & is constantly amazing me with her articulate speech. She nearly floored me during our first morning tea together in the new house when out of the blue she said- "Shadrach, Meshach & Bendigo" & it had been ages since we'd read the story of the boys in the fiery furnace! Of course we read the story again... It blesses my heart so much to know my little ones have such a hunger to learn the Bible. I pray it continues & that they will grow to love the God who authored it.
posted by Father's Grace Ministries at 2:53 pm 2 comments

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Effects of Fantasy- Part 2

Toys For Boys

I' ll start by emphasising what I said at the start of my article on girls' toys-THINK SIMPLICITY! A toy is not better just because it twirls & whirls & has 22 flashing lights on it. A child will tire far more quickly from such a toy, than from one that is very simple & that can be utilized in many different ways.

One dominant type of toy most associated with boys is the action figure. They've been around for years, but took off in a big way in the early 1980's when there was a huge surge in children's marketing. I believe "Masters of the U niverse" was the first "Commercialtoon" made. It was extremely occultic & in play the children would act out with the toys, the stories from the comic books & on TV. There is now a multitude of action figures on the market today & while all are not occultic, they are designed to be played with as per the movie, video game or book. For a start, while this is not wrong within itself, it kind of produces what I call "2nd-hand imagination"-someone else has already written the story. If little ones are playing together & one child starts pretending something not in the story-one of the others will usually say "That's wrong-that's not in the show!"

Personally, I would avoid anything like Pokemon, Digimon or anything that looked like it came from an Eastern martial arts background- because the spiritual side associated with these is at odds with Christianity. Many are quite violent too.

Has anyone noticed that the same kid's shows we grew up with (I'm late 30's) are now more violent & Pschological than the older versions- eg. Superman, Spiderman, Batman & Robin etc?
If you have a child mad-keen on the Superhero genre, why not try to get them copies on DVD of the older movie or TV versions of these? They are less violent & more slapstick. And speaking of older DVD's, why not consider for your sons, vintage Disney classics such as Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, Old Yeller or The Swiss Family Robinson. They certainly extol the virtues of courage & hard work & the blessings of family life much more than a lot of the modern stuff on the market.

Getting back to action figures, did you know that various companies produce bible toys & action figures? Do a search on the net. Some are silly & tacky looking but others are very reverently designed to help children to remember their bible stories. Also Fisher Price have a toy & video series called Rescue Heroes where the characters use their specially designed equipment to save others from danger- very positive play.

Sports equipment & active toys are a far better choice than video games for boys approaching adolescence. I heard a Pastor say once that the combination of energy exerted from sports & hard work helps keep hormones & wandering thoughts at bay.

For the littlies I've never found anything wrong with Thomas the Tank Engine, Postman Pat Bananas in Pyjamas, The Wiggles or the like. Stay away from Harry Potter or anything that looks dark or wizardy- if it looks bad it usually is-use your discernment & think Phillipians 4:8.

And lastly, you can't beat old fashioned toys: pull-along wagons, blocks, lego, meccano,construction toys,yo-yos marbles or boardgames- if you come up with any other good ideas, post a comment & let's share ideas together-that's what blogging's all about!!
posted by Father's Grace Ministries at 7:59 pm 0 comments

Monday, December 04, 2006

The TV Psalm

T echnology can be both a blessing & a curse. If used wisely as a servant, it can be be a blessing; but if it has mastery over you, then it's more likely to be a curse. Our TV could easily become a dust catcher to me, if not for Godly & wholesome DVD's & old movies. We watch some news & use a few children's TV shows- NOT the Saturday morning cartoons!! or The Simpsons!! & we don't have cable/ pay TV.

I don't know who wrote this poem, but every Christian should read it to assess if the media is affecting you in a negative way or not.

The TV is my Shepherd, I shall turn it on.
It makes me lie down on the sofa. It leads me away from the Scriptures. It ravishes my soul.
It leads me in the paths of ignorance & violence, for the sponsors sake.
Yea, though I walk in the shadow of my responsibilities to my family & my Creator, there will be no interruptions, for the TV is with me.
Its cable & its remote control, they comfort me.
It prepares a commercial before me. It plants lies within my mind.
It annoints my head with materialism. My coveting runs over.
Surely laziness & ignorance shall follow me all the days of my life,
& I shall dwell in the house watching TV & its propaganda forever.
posted by Father's Grace Ministries at 11:16 am 1 comments