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Proverbs 31 Week 6

Ask any mum how she’s feeling, and the chances are that ‘tired’ will feature somewhere in the answer (probably just after ‘fine’).

Motherhood is exhausting. That feeling of being constantly ‘on,’ watching, anticipating, attending. The countless responses to cries, questions and ‘Mummy.’ The countless snacks.

So honestly? I’ve found this week’s verse a little challenging:

She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.

Do I really have the energy for this?

‘Vigorous’ has connotations of energy. ‘Vigorous’ implies energetic, fast, motivated and strong. It’s a very active adjective. Often, I feel the opposite of vigorous.

Then I looked at other translations. Older translations have the phrase ‘she girds up her loins for the task.’ This is literally talking about tucking up your skirts! Tuck your long skirts up out of the way and get on with the job.

Now this, I can get on with. If there’s a task to be done, we can do it. There’s also a ‘masculine’ quality about this – getting rid of the encumbrance of skirts so that the task gets done. This is reinforces with the idea of strong arms.

Can I be strong for the task?

We discussed in the Mummy Meditations Facebook group (join it here) about how the strength may be physical. It may also be emotional, mental or spiritual. The strength is appropriate for the task.

There’s the idea of excellence here: her arms aren’t ‘adequate’ for the task; they are strong. This woman pursues excellence in everything she does. She has high standards.

There’s also a note here about physical strength. Christian women rarely talk about being physically fit, in my experience. I know that when I’m busy, my workout routine is the first things to go. But God is interested in our physical fitness as well as our spiritual fitness. This is part of my own journey, but I think it’s something that Christian women should be talking about more.

What’s my trading? How do I make it profitable?

The idea of excellence is seen later on in the verse, and the typically ‘male’ role of the trader is given to the woman. Not only does she trade, but her trading is profitable.

I don’t have my own business, but I think this a great encouragement to all those women who do. It’s empowering – in your pursuit of excellence, make sure your business is profitable. This is building on the idea of the vineyard that Rachel looked at last week, about making the most of every opportunity, while acknowledging that this is hard work.

Because for this woman, her lamp does not go out at night. She is hard working to the max. She’s putting in those long hours. We’ve seen women like this throughout history, from the matchbox makers in Victorian times to the mum-bosses of today. Here, the Bible celebrates and acknowledges those long hours.

So yes, this verse is challenging. But it’s also encouraging to know that God is with us as we pursue excellence. He’s with us as we put in those long hours. He’s with us as we wonder if our arms really are strong enough for the task.

Next week, Rachel is looking at verse 19-20:

In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.

 

A huge change of direction

I’ve been trying to get this post published for a month. When you read it, you’ll understand why it’s taken me so long. I haven’t really disappeared off the face of the earth, just the blogosphere.

The September rush…

September is usually a really busy time of year for me. It’s the start of the school year, and I’m a teacher, so things are hard. You’re getting back into routines – something I love and enjoy – but you’re also having to establish new routines, new relationships and adjust to whatever the focus is for this academic year. Add two children into that mix, both of whom have been off with you over the Summer holidays, and it gets a bit more stressful.

This year, it’s got a different focus. On the last day of the Summer term, I had an interview. I got the job, so I’ll be leaving my school at Christmas.

A change in direction

It’s a complete career change for me. I’ll be working as an Operations Manager for my church, running the day to day business of the church as well as working with the leadership team to implement various projects and systems.

I am so pleased to have got the job, and so excited to start, that there’s a real frustration there for me. As any teacher will know, schools completely shut down over the Summer. My contract demands a term’s notice, and school have asked me to fulfil this. So despite getting the new job back in July, I won’t actually be there full time until January. In the meantime, I’m taking my Year 11s, 12s and 13s through as much of their curriculum as I can.

As I’m part-time at my school, I have actually started working at church one day a week, getting to grips with the day to day aspects of the job. So I’m juggling two very different jobs, running our home, doing the school and nursery runs and trying to keep every healthy and happy, as well as keeping up with the blog. Plus my youngest has stopped napping!

Just to add to the craziness, I’ve been part of a team organising a women’s conference, Fearless, which happened a couple of weeks ago. Conferences are huge amounts of work, and we just didn’t stop.

What about the blog?

Well, something had to slip, didn’t it? That’s why I haven’t been around much of late. To be honest, I won’t be around a huge amount between now and Christmas. My family have to come first, and the time I spend blogging is now going to be time away from them. My evenings are even more taken up with marking, planning and meetings, and my weekends are squeezed too.

I have no doubt that things will get easier once I finish teaching. Although teaching looks like a family-friendly profession, the reality in term time is that a full time teacher works 50-60 hours a week. A part time teacher like me can easily notch up 35-40 hours. So with a day in church, additional commitments and one day off a week with my youngest, it’s easy to see where the time goes.

As for the blog… Well, to be honest, I don’t know. Maintaining a blog, plus the social media, takes up a huge amount of time and mental energy. I’ve never felt that I’ve been particularly ‘present’ on social media, and I often feel like I’m playing catch up, compared to bloggers who don’t work outside the home or perhaps have church related commitments. However, I know I have a great audience, and a really amazing email list that I’ve worked hard to build up. I wrote the ebook, and I’d love to see that become a real book. I’d love to see OLP diaries, planners, calendars and notebooks. I’d love to create meal plans that are actually useful. One day, I’d love to run a membership community and really coach people through organising their lives.

But that’s a huge commitment, and one I cannot make at the moment. When I blog, I’m constantly thinking, ‘When I have more time…’ I’m wishing my life away, and I don’t want to live like that.

So I’m asking for a bit more time. Let me work out this new ‘normal’ for me and my family. There’s a new normal for now, and an adjustment again in January. So please give me a few months – and then I will be back on it and with a new plan for The Organised Life Project.

If you want to hear about these new plans, make sure you’re on my mailing list.

Proverbs 31 Week 4

Week four of our Proverbs 31 study, and it’s a real challenge for some of us. Last week, Rachel looked at how this woman provided food for her family, like the merchant ships. It’s a great post, so do pop over and catch up.

This week, we’ve been looking at verse 15:

She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.

What does it mean?

Well, are you a night owl or a lark? I have to say, I’m a lark myself – pretty good first thing in the morning, but terrible after about 9pm!

There is a Biblical truth to getting up early – Jesus got up very early in the morning and went to pray. Lots of people, myself included, like to have a quiet time with God first thing in the morning. It sets that day right.

But is this an expectation? Do we really have to be up at 5am (or even earlier) to be a good Christian woman?

Let’s look at the rest of the verse. ‘She provides food for her family and portions for her female servants.’

Quite simply, in Biblical times, if you wanted to provide food for your family, you had to get up early. There were no refrigerators, toasters or microwaves. Grain had to be ground, bread had to be made, and animals had to be tended to. This woman isn’t getting up early because of some outward sense of obligation – but from a sense that it was necessary.

The verse also tells us that she ‘portions for her female servants.’ For us in our Mummy Meditations community, this was really crucial to our understanding of this verse. She takes care of her employees – her servants. This may mean that she assigns tasks for them, but probably also means that she makes sure they have everything they need. There’s almost a role reversal here, and it makes us think about how we care for our employees or those who volunteer.

How does it apply to us?

Well, one of the first things we agreed in our Mummy Meditations group is that it does NOT mean that we must get up early! While there is a real value in dedicating early morning time to a quiet time, it doesn’t work for everyone.

However, the key to this verse is about time and preparation. The Proverbs 31 woman sets aside time to prepare food for her family and to organise her servants. In fact, The Message translation reads, “She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast for her family and organizing her day.” This isn’t about being up at 5am; it’s about being prepared.

I know we all think about this as mums. We check the calendars, check the school letters, pack the lunches, meal plan, make lists… When something goes wrong (often because we’re trying to do too much), we blame ourselves and think about how we could have done better.

Sometimes, we need to think about the female ‘servants’ in this verse. I’m not suggesting we start employing servants, but I do think we could learn about delegation, and asking for help when we need it. I frequently say that when I was teaching full time, we employed a cleaner, once a fortnight, and it was the one thing that kept me sane. The same can be said of the Asda delivery driver, the babysitter, the after school club or nursery workers. When we are so busy, we need to make the most of these people, but we also need to take care of them.

Sometimes, it’s hard to remember that organising and running a home is godly. It’s easy to think we should shoulder all the burden. But actually, part of organisation and preparation is delegating and working out who can help you with your work.

Next week…

Rachel will be looking at verse 16, which I think is a really exciting verse:

She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.

Do come and join us in the Mummy Meditations Community and join the discussion!

 

Proverbs 31 – A Marriage Challenge

Our current series on women in the Bible is focusing on the Proverbs 31 wife. Rachel started us off last week with this post, looking at the first verses in this poem, and looking at the real purpose of this passage. In short, this passage describes something to aim for – yes, the ‘perfect’ woman, but with the implied message that it’s a work in progress!

This week, we’ve been looking at proverbs 31 verses 11 and 12.

Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.

Once again, my understanding of this passage has been really enhanced by the Mummy Meditations Community. It’s been a really busy week for me, with lots of things on my mind, so I am so grateful for their thoughts and wisdom.

Her husband has full confidence in her

The writer of this has started with the idea of the value of a woman. He now moves on to what that woman brings to a relationship. The foundations of a relationship are trust and confidence. As one Mummy Meditations member explained,

“All relationships are built differently, each couple having a unique culture that only they can create. But here we see that one of the things every relationship needs to be built upon is Trust. Establishing and maintaining that is so important, and makes our relationships stronger and able to withstand times where we may have to un-build and re-build certain areas.”

We looked at what it means for a husband to have “full confidence” in his wife. For some, this was in the small things, and the detail. The husband knows if he asks for something to be done, it will be done. She can be relied upon in the big things and the small. But another Mummy Meditation member interpreted it slightly differently: “he/the hubby has full confidence, he builds her up, he dreams with for her and with her in her dreams. That he sees the potential, the good that is in her.” I love this interpretation – the sharing of dreams and potential, and his willingness to support that. This supports the original purpose of the Proverbs 31 passage – it’s a poem that men read aloud in order to celebrate and praise their wives, rather than a kind of checklist. The idea of a marriage where both husband and wife fully support each others dreams is a wonderful one.

There’s also an element of openness and vulnerability in how we interpret confidence. This interpretation is that the husband can share anything with his wife, in his most hidden self. Then he can trust that she will take care of him. This is also a lovely image of a marriage.

She brings him good, not harm

We spent some time thinking about what we bring to our marriages. In many marriages, it seemed that the husband and wife really complement each other, so where one is careful with money, the other is generous. Where one is more organised and disciplined, the other may be more fun.

While we were discussing this verse, one Mummy Meditations member wrote,

“I actually think this verse might be quite forward thinking in some ways. I like the fact that there is a reciprocal nature to the relationship. The husband trusts the wife, in fact he gives her his heart and depends on her, and she gives him all he needs, greatly enriches his life. It appears to me to be a very full relationship with both parties giving wholly of themselves. A big challenge in the day to day!”

A challenge, not an intimidation

When I first read this verse, I was pretty intimidated by it to be honest. We’re in the phase of life where our children demand a lot of attention. We’re both involved in separate ministries in church, and it can feel sometimes like we are co-parents and housemates rather than a married couple. We avoid this with regular date nights and time to just talk, so I was prepared to spend quite a lot of this week thinking about how I’m not prioritising my marriage as much as I should.

In fact, as often happens, I’ve been struck by the simplicity of these verse. We trust each other, and we try our best to do good for each other. We share our hopes and dreams and support each other in them. That’s a pretty good basis for a marriage if you ask me!

What’s next?

Next week, Rachel will be looking at verses 13 and 14:

She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.

She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.

If you would like to join the Mummy Meditations Community, you will need to sign up to my mailing list (I’ll also send you a free workbook and prayer journal). It’s a lovely group full of wise, wonderful women. I really hope you can join us.

 

Rachel and Leah: Rachel’s Death

After 10 weeks, it’s our final week of studying Rachel and Leah and walking in their shoes. There have been LOADS of developments in the Mummy Meditations Community this week – Rachel has worked so hard so please have a look at:

The Mummy Meditations Etsy Shop – Treat yourself to amazing resources to help you to study the Bible and to keep the verse of the week in your mind.

The Mummy Meditations Facebook Group – This is where the real action happens. We discuss the week’s verse and these women share their wonderful insights.

Rachel’s Live Facebook Video – Where she explains the heart behind Mummy Meditations and share our next passage.

Rachel: Her second son is born

 

So this week, we come to the end of Rachel’s life. While they are travelling to Bethel, she goes into labour. It’s a difficult labour, and it seems that either the baby or Rachel, or both of them will die.

This child is a really longed-for child. After years of infertility, watching her sister have 6 sons and a daughter, her servant having 2 children and her sister’s servant bearing 2 more sons all to her husband, Rachel had Joseph. But she’s not satisfied. In Genesis 30 v 24, Rachel prays for another son.

God has given her so much. 2 weeks ago, we looked at the wealth that Jacob’s family had accrued. Rachel has her son, and she is the more beloved wife, as indicated last week, where Jacob places Rachel and Joseph in the safest place in the travelling party. Others must look at Rachel and think she has everything. Yet she’s still not satisfied. Is it still her competitive, jealous spirit, comparing herself to Leah? Does she still feel so insecure?

It’s made me wonder whether I do this. I have so much, and yet I am still so unsatisfied. I find myself falling into the trap of wishing I had more money, a smaller waist, a bigger home. I think this is a real danger in our society today, where it’s all too easy to scroll through Instagram and feel like our problems will be solved by another purchase or another acquisition.

It’s a bittersweet end to Rachel’s life. She gets the sons she has longed for. Joseph, in particular, is beloved of Jacob, as Rachel was. Joseph and Benjamin go on to have amazing lives, and become the heads of two of the tribes of Israel. Yet was she ever truly content?

God has been speaking to me a lot this week about contentment. 1 Timothy 6:6 tells us that ‘Godliness with contentment is great gain.’ After 10 weeks of studying Rachel and Leah, I think we can see that Rachel was so discontent. Comparison, jealousy and greed take away her potential for contentment. We have to be careful that the same doesn’t happen to us.

The midwife sees this, and tells Rachel she should be grateful for what she has. “Don’t despair, for you have another son.” Sons were so important for this family, as they are throughout the Old Testament, and Rachel had already provided a healthy, beloved son. I can’t help feeling a bit annoyed at the midwife, though. Rachel is already in great pain, despair and facing death – but at least she’s got one healthy son. Poor Rachel!

Throughout this story, I’ve been struck so many, many times by how modern it was. This story happens back in Genesis, but it could so easily play out on social media, or in our own lives – and it does, day after day. Comparison, envy and greed take away our joy, take away our contentment and ultimately, shape our lives.

I really wish Rachel’s story had a happier ending, but it doesn’t. Yes, her sons, especially Joseph, go on to great things, but for me, these have been pretty sad, painful shoes to walk in. Even if they are not issues that you are struggling with, other women are struggling with Rachel’s pain, so let’s be kind.

What’s next?

From Monday, we are starting our BRAND NEW SERIES, looking at Proverbs 31. Rachel and I are so excited about this, so I really hope you can join us. Our first verse is Proverbs 31:10 –

A wife of noble character, who can find?

She is worth far more than rubies.

30 things to declutter in September

I actually love September, and the whole ‘back-to-school’ feeling. I’ve been a teacher for 14 years and there is nothing that makes you feel more organised than a whole load of stationery. On the other hand, there’s nothing that makes you feel more overwhelmed than the start of a new school year!

If you’ve been following my monthly decluttering posts, you’ll know that we’ve pretty much decluttered the entire house (an average house). This month, I want to focus on digital clutter.

Digital clutter is the curse of the 21st century! It steals our time, makes us feel stressed and overwhelmed, and we numb these feelings by scrolling through Facebook yet again. When you’ve sorted your paper clutter, you move more things to digital – but we need to keep on top of it. I promise you, this month is going to make you feel lighter and less stressed than you realise.

You’ll notice that digital photos only appears once. That’s because in October, we are really focusing on photos. The whole of October is going to be about sorting your digital photos into albums, deleting those you don’t want and sorting them out. So don’t worry about photos this month.

30 things to declutter in September

  1. Unsubscribe from any unwanted mailing list emails that come into your inbox this month
  2. File or delete emails from the last month
  3. File or delete emails one – six months old
  4. File or delete emails six to twelve months old
  5. File or delete emails over a year old
  6. Facebook Groups (Go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/)
  7. Facebook Pages (Visit your own profile, then click ‘More.’)
  8. Facebook Events
  9. Facebook friends
  10. Chrome browser extensions
  11. Bookmarked pages
  12. Unwanted digital photos from the last month
  13. Your downloads folder
  14. Your twitter feed
  15. Unused apps on your phone
  16. Podcasts
  17. Your saved documents
  18. Any email accounts you no longer use
  19. Your instagram feed
  20. Dropbox or Google Docs
  21. Pinterest feed
  22. WhatsApp groups
  23. Computer desktop – try using a minimalist image to help you to organise your desktop
  24. Any computer apps or programmes you no longer use
  25. Defrag or clean your computer disk
  26. Old digital devices (cameras, memory sticks etc)
  27. Cables and chargers
  28. Printer cartridges
  29. Programme packaging and instruction manuals
  30. Spend time creating a decent folder structure

 

The Meal Planning Linky – Week 35

Welcome to Week 35 of The Meal Planning Linky. This is a linky hosted by Katy at KatykickerAnyone is welcome to join – just check out the rules below.

I know we all need a bit of inspiration and motivation when it comes to meal planning. That’s why we’ve launched The Meal Planning Linky. We’ll share our posts about meal planning, and you can link yours up too. Seeing others’ meal plans – and sharing our own – not only keeps us accountable but also will inspire us.

Our Meal Plans for the Week Ahead

So this is my last meal planning linky! Over the next few months, I’m changing jobs, and will be out at work 4 days a week instead of 3, and rising to 5 days in January. I’ll share the details in another blog post, but it basically means I’ve had to really cut back on my blogging commitments. I hope I’ll still share my monthly meal plans, but I’m not really able to keep up with the Linky commitments.

I have absolutely loved running The Meal Planning Linky with Katy, and she is an excellent host. Katy will keep the linky going so please do pop over and share your meal plans. Thank you so much for all the meal planning inspiration of over the last 8 months – so many of our meals have been inspired by you all.

The week ahead is a back to school week. Our shopping at the market last week was brilliant, and definitely cut down on both our food waste and our packaging waste, so I’ll definitely be doing it again. We also substituted salmon which was on the meal plan for swordfish, as the fishmonger had some in. It was expensive but delicious. The fruit and veg we bought was fantastic – amazing quality, all local and absolutely delicious. Plus it was a lot cheaper than fruit and veg from the Supermarket (which made up for the expensive swordfish).

Saturday: Roast veggie and halloumi wraps

Sunday: Sticky mango chicken from The Sainsburys Magazine this month

Monday: Spiced marinaded steak with rice and salad – Tim bought a whole lot of steak hugely reduced from Co-op last week.

Tuesday: Chicken bites, chips and peas

Wednesday: Market day! Fish, new potatoes and vegetables.

Thursday: Spaghetti bolognese – I’ll make double and freeze half

Friday: Sausages, mash and gravy

 

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Organising Summer Learning with Matific

This post is in collaboration with Matific.

The Summer Holidays are almost over. I’ve got a pile of uniform to label, PE kit to organise and my own lesson plans to sort. At the beginning of the Summer, I set Ben a few challenges: to learn to make his own bed, to complete a few chores every day, to learn to swim, and to read The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. He added his own challenge to the list: to become a maths superstar.

In the Summer holidays, it’s easy for good intentions to go out of the window. However, I’d booked Ben in for a couple of intensive swim courses, and he’s now swimming without any floats or armbands. He grumbles and moans, but his bed gets made. We’ve read The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, and have moved on to Prince Caspian. But the maths? Well, the workbook I dug out just wasn’t quite cutting it. If I’m honest, it wasn’t engaging or challenging enough – and it only focused on addition and subtraction.

A Maths App with loads of variety

Like most 6 year old boys, Ben loves playing on a tablet or my phone. We downloaded the Matific Galaxy app for First Graders, having decided that Ben was probably best suited to Grade 1. He’s just finished Year 1, and I knew he’d been learning about 2D shapes, addition, subtraction, basic fractions and measurement.

The game’s levels are planets, each with a resident alien: Dusty, Rocky, Ice, Jung Jung, Nickel and so on. Each planet has a number of games, and each game has a specific maths skill. For example, on Nickel planet, there are 9 games. There are 2 which practise addition, 2 for numbers, 2 for data analysis, one for geometry, one for counting and one for mixed operations.

The variety of the games is impressive, as are the graphics and the funny sequences. In one comparison game, Ben had to decide in each image if there were more bees or more flowers. Once he had completed the activity (5 images), a bee from the final image flew off to startle a bear, which ran away.

In a subtraction game, Ben had to count the cherries on a plate, and then decide if a monster was allowed to eat the cherries. Once the monster had eaten the cherries, Ben had to count the remaining cherries and work out how many the monster had eaten. Not only is this one of the maths skills that his teacher specifically suggested that he practise, but he found it hilarious if he refused to let the monster eat the cherries as the monster cried.

A progressive spiral of learning

Matific describe the learning system as a progressive spiral. I can certainly see that – the skills are repeated and developed in a range of different activities. In one number activity, you have to place the numbers along a line. In a later number activity, you have to work out the correct combinations of numbers which will then allow you to bounce a ball into the net. The number line is still there, but you use it in a much more challenging way.

The 2D shapes games were really challenging. The game asks you to ‘cut’ a shape into another combination of shapes. For example, cut a hexagon into 2 triangles and 1 rectangle. You have to drag the scissors across the original shape. In a classroom, this is the kind of activity that drives me crazy – it takes ages, yet the learning is small in relation to the time spent on it. Using the app was brilliant – Ben has really consolidated this, and corrected my own understanding of a trapezoid.

After each game, the player gets to earn a prize – an item of clothing for the resident alien of the planet you are currently visiting. I actually didn’t feel that this is necessary, and found it a bit distracting, but Ben enjoyed it.

How do you know how well you’ve done?

You get ‘graded’ on each game according to how well you have done – this is out of 5 stars on the planet screen (a star for each one you get right). You have 3 tries for each question before the app shows you the correct answer. Even if you don’t get any correct, you still can unlock the next game in the sequence. I actually think this is pretty helpful – you don’t get any stars, so you can see which games you need to practise, but you’re not held back if you haven’t secured that specific skill. So Ben is not 100% on telling the time yet, but that doesn’t hold him back on his numbers, for example. This is really helpful for parents as well.

What else do I need to know?

In the App Store, the App is labelled as ‘In-app purchases,’ because you start off with the free version, have a quick go and then download the full version. You only need to pay the amount once (for the Grade 1 it was £5.99) and you can access everything in that grade. So avoid your child getting frustrated by downloading the full version straight away – it’s definitely worth it.

I really wanted to see an overview for parents for each skill. Matific have actually created a way to do this, but you have to access the desktop version. This is more expensive – £15 for a year for one stage, or £30 for all stages (K-6, which is roughly equivalent to the progress through Primary School). You can add additional children for 25% off.

The Parentzone is excellent. You can see exactly which skills your child is strong in, what they need to develop – and it suggests a specific practice game for them to use to improve that skill. So in the screen shot below, Ben needs to work on his Patterns. The App then suggests an additional game for him to practice his patterns.

 

This is absolutely invaluable if you really want to help your child improve their skills. Many children will practise the skills they are good at, but will avoid those they find more difficult. Without a subject specialism, it’s tricky to identify what they are struggling with. The Parentzone does all of this for you.

The only disadvantage to the Parentzone is that it doesn’t interact with the App – the desktop version and the app are separate. It’s a shame as the Parentzone is so good, and is definitely worth the extra cost.

Who would benefit from an app like this?

Overall, this app has been absolutely brilliant for Ben to consolidate his maths skills. He’s played it for several hours this week (having a review to do has given him an excuse for extra screen time) and he’s still got four more planets to complete. I’ll be investing in the desktop version for Year 2 as the Parentzone is so good.

It’s the kind of app that all children can get a lot out of. It would be brilliant for children who are struggling with maths – because the game elements and the humour make it fun. The variety of games works really well because the skills are practised yet the children don’t get bored.

It would be great for extending children who are working well in Maths – each game unlocks as the previous one is completed so there’s a natural progression. Matific Galaxy games go up to 6th Grade, so it would work for all Primary-aged children, and beyond.

This kind of app is definitely worth investing in, and it’s the kind of thing that works really well in the school holidays especially – because it doesn’t feel like work, it feels like fun. The more we can make learning feel fun, the better.

Matific Galaxy Apps are available in the App Store and on Google Play. For more information, please go to Matific Galaxy. 

The Meal Planning Linky – Week 34

Welcome to Week 34 of The Meal Planning Linky. This is a linky hosted by Naomi at The Organised Life Project and Katy at KatykickerAnyone is welcome to join – just check out the rules below.

I know we all need a bit of inspiration and motivation when it comes to meal planning. That’s why we’ve launched The Meal Planning Linky. We’ll share our posts about meal planning, and you can link yours up too. Seeing others’ meal plans – and sharing our own – not only keeps us accountable but also will inspire us.

Our Meal Plans for the Week Ahead

It’s the last week of the school holidays! Next week is also my last week of hosting The Meal Planning Linky as I’ve got a few changes coming up in my life, so Katy will be continuing to host from Week 36 on her own.

This week, we’re trying to focus on reducing our waste. Ben is really keen on reducing our plastic waste, and so far, we’ve reduced some of our waste by making bread, cakes and cereal bars from scratch, and by buying large tubs of Greek yoghurt and swirling some jam or fruit into them, rather than buying expensive corner yoghurt.

Our next step is to try buying fruit, vegetables and meat that isn’t wrapped in plastic. So this week, we’re going to shop at our local market, and see how we get on. I’ll take cloth bags for the fruit and veg, and plastic boxes for the meat – I’m just hoping they won’t think we’re too weird!

Saturday: Pasta with chicken, tomatoes and basil

Sunday: Eggs, chips and beans (we haven’t had this for ages and I really fancy it)

Monday: Out for lunch with family

Tuesday: Spaghetti carbonara

Wednesday: Lamb curry with rice and flatbreads

Thursday: Homemade tuna fishcakes and salad

Friday: Traybake salmon with vegetables and new potatoes

 

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Rachel and Leah: Saving the household gods

The more I get into this story, the weirder it gets. To put it into context, at this point, Rachel and Leah are married to the same man, Joseph. Leah has children (6 sons and a daughter at this point) but Rachel has none. Both Rachel and Leah have given their servants to Jacob to bear his children – both have two, so four more sons. Finally, Rachel has her longed-for son, Joseph. The sisters still seem to be fighting over Jacob – as Rachel explored in last week’s post – but things are about to change. Slightly.

Everything seems to be going pretty well for Jacob – this is definitely a time of riches. If Laban (his father-in-law and employer) chooses to pay him in streaked or spotted sheep, all the ewes give birth to streaked or spotted sheep. His family is growing. His wealth is increasing. But Laban is not happy. He’s noticed that Jacob seems to be gaining his family’s wealth.

God tells Jacob to go back to the land he came from. He left there in fear, having stolen his brother’s birthright and blessing. But he is obedient to God (and perhaps he feels he has no choice, given than Laban’s sons are turning against him). What’s more striking for us is that, for the first time in many, many years, Rachel and Leah are united in their support for him.

The statement they make in verses 14-16 is striking, considering that in the previous chapter they were fighting over fertility aids. They say, in verse 16, “So do whatever God has told you.”

This is generally interpreted as a sign of Rachel and Leah’s faithfulness, and their united support of Jacob. They see Jacob’s wealth as being part of their inheritance, and they certainly feel that their father has turned his back on them – he calls them ‘foreigners’ and says he has ‘sold’ them. I can certainly understand Rachel and Leah’s anger towards their father, and their love of the man who has taken care of them, and has provided for them.

So Jacob packs up his family and their belongings, and heads off to Canaan. Rachel steals Laban’s household gods.

There’s the first weirdness. If she’s devoted to God, she knows that household gods are nonsense. So why has she stolen them? Perhaps she’s not quite as devoted as she appeared – after all, she was relying on mandrakes to help her to conceive a son. Is she ‘covering all her bases,’ if you like?

Perhaps the gods had some material value – but given the wealth that Jacob has, it seems strange that she would steal them.

Other commentators suggest that she stole them to stop Laban from worshipping them. Perhaps she even saw them as being part of her dowry, which she never received?

Whatever her motivation, she is prepared to humiliate and embarrass herself in order to protect them. She lies, and tells her father and husband that she is having her period, so that she does not have to stand up, and therefore can hide the gods under her skirt. This is the second weirdness.

I have to say, it’s fairly difficult to be sympathetic for Rachel here, without understanding her motivation. Even though I’ve spent time putting myself in her shoes this week, I still feel that this shows more of her manipulative and weak character rather than being an example of living by faith.

But I was challenged by some of the comments and thoughts in our Mummy Meditations community.

Firstly, how often do we take matters into our own hands – or turn to idols -rather than trusting God? If Rachel does have idols as ‘back up’ if her prayers to God aren’t heard, what can we learn from this? Do we turn to idols? Perhaps food? Money? Possessions? Rather than the comfort of God.

There’s a difference – and it’s a fine line to walk in my experience – between being a good steward of your money, and putting your faith in money. There’s a fine line between celebrating God’s provision of good food and finding comfort and security in food. The same can be said for possessions or even relationships.

God must come first. For me, that’s a constant discipline, and, like Rachel, I don’t always get it right. I rely on my own strength and ignorance instead of resting in his love and wisdom. But, like for Rachel, there is always grace and forgiveness.

Next week is our penultimate week looking at Rachel and Leah, and Rachel will be leading the discussion in our Mummy Meditations facebook group. We’ll be focusing on Genesis 33:2, when Jacob arrives in Canaan: He put the female servants and their children in front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph in the rear.