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Wednesday, 18 December 2013

In the Bleak Mid Winter

Ask me my favourite Christmas carol, and I will probably answer with, 'In the Bleak mid Winter.'
The words are very poignant, and the best is last, ''what I can give him: give my heart'' Pretty much sums up the Christian gospel, and why Jesus came to earth.
In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, Whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, Whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

I love the references to the cold winter. I see that as having double meaning, as our hearts, and lives before the Holy Spirit has touched them. We were hard hearted sinners, who needed to be warmed to Christ.
The second verse then talks about the power of God. We can't contain God, and he humbled himself in birth, but even to death on a cross!
The third verse pertaining to worship. What we were made for:to glorify God, and worship Him.
Finally in the last verse, as mentioned before, we give our hearts. We cannot be christians, until we have given our heart to Christ, and repented of our sin. It is God's gift to us. Often, if we are given a gift, it is expected to reciprocate. The fantastic thing about the gospel, is that we can ONLY give our hearts our all, but that in joy. We don't have to do anything, it is all of grace, and free.
Merry Christmas! Have you received God's free gift?

Friday, 6 December 2013

Power Cuts!

Yesterday's bad weather took our power out at 6:p.m. Just as I was going to prepare dinner! Of course, we have all electric here, and oil central heating, which of course doesn't work without the electric pump. Just as well my mum had rung just before, or the dinner would have been half way through cooking!
(I was pleased that I had bought the 6 pack of parrafin lanterns off ebay, the previous week. Ironically, we had bought a couple extra to lend out in emergencies.)
It was handy that we always had an emergency plan for when such things happen, and I am partly writing this to encourage others to do the same.
Hubby took a while to set up the gas in the caravan, and then I was able to cook the dinner. Having the paraffin lanterns meant we had light in the house, too. We also had a camping gas stove, which was excellent for heating up hot water for tea, and coffee, and washing up.
For heating, we have a log burning stove, and failing that a paraffin heater which is 6KW, and has a built in safety feature, so if it is knocked it cuts out. You can fuel them with home heating oil, as it is exactly the same as paraffin.
One of the reasons we have always been prepared, is our experience of the winter of 1994 in rural west wales. We were 3 days without power, and all the candles, lamps etc in the shops had sold out. We did have a camping stove, and we used it to heat up water for the neighbour's baby. They couldn't make up the formula. Also, we were off for days in rural Scotland.
So, would you have the bare essentials in a power cut? They are set to become common place, as the UK struggles with demand, and not enough power stations.
Here is my list of essentail items:
1) Candles with holders, paraffin lanterns, paraffin, torches, and extra batteries for lighting. Solar torches are fab. I bought one off ebay cheaply, a while back. Wind up troches are great, too.
2) Something to cook on. Obviously, if you have a stove, or gas cooker anyway, then this will still work, unless the gas is cut off! So, it still is an idea to have something to hand in emergency. A gas ring is great, and these can be bought from argos, are compact, and the gas bottles are tiny, making them easy to store.
3) Something to keep you warm- I think it is bad idea to build houses without chimneys, as an open fire or log burner is a good way to keep warm during a power outage. A small paraffin, or gas heater is ideal otherwise.
4) If you can afford it, a small generator will stop your freezers defrosting, if the power cut is to last beyond 24 hours. These run off either diesel, or petrol, and you can get quieter ones now, and quite small ones, for use with caravans.
As with everything, take care to keep all lighting out of the reach of small children, and out of the way of fire hazards. If you do not have a carbon monoxide detector, or smoke alarm, then get one fitted now.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Fun and Games

Just recently, we have been having regular games nights, where we play board games. For the past few months it has been trivial pursuit. I had forgotten about how much fun I had with this as a child. Sadly, because I was like an only child (brother 12 years older) I didn't get a lot of opportunities to play. I played with my mum, and occasionally with friends. One of the great things about a large family, as there are six of us playing. The children learn from it, and compete with each-other, interact with each other. Sadly, in this IT generation families are not interacting much anymore. As a result, you have whole families split up doing different things. I wonder whether we have gone backwards, and not forwards. Years ago families always entertained themselves with singing, games, reading aloud, or just talking, and sharing!
We are doing a scrabble tournament over December, and we will all compete with each other to win prizes. Again, they are learning, and the 11 year old just recently beat the 16 year old. They are learning healthy competition, and how to be a good sport, while having fun along the way.
If you haven't already, let me encourage you to set aside a couple of hours and try it out. You won't be disappointed.