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where ? - the new!
by Matt Parkins, 7 years ago (16.27 on Wednesday, 12th of January, 2011) |  permalink  |  Comments?

Just updating some links and getting some links out there. is a scrabble word finder and the new scrabble solver (which was – it finds words for lexulous, words with friends and scrabble. You put in the letters from your rack and it comes back with the longest legal words in the scrabble dictionary. I set it up mainly to solve scrabble arguments about whether words were legal and just who could make the longest word out of the same letters. If you plan to use it in a game of scrabble, lexulous or words with friends then do tell your opponent - ie, don't cheat, ok ?

Not Forgotten
by Jo Parkins, 8 years ago (20.52 on Thursday, 8th of October, 2009) |  permalink  |  Comments?

I wonder how many stay-at-home mums out there feel they are missing out on 'the race'? I know I sometimes do. Often I feel like the Kingdom is coming, but its not coming near me! Since my second child was born 10 months ago, my life has revolved around my two small children who take up my every waking minute; one of them demands my attention all day, and the other demands it all night! I know that being a mother of small children is often a barren time spiritually, but recently I realised it is also a time when I don't feel I'm making a valid contribution to the Kingdom either.

God recently spoke to my feelings of being on the sidelines when I was reading the latest Heidi Baker book, Compelled by Love. In the chapter I was reading, Heidi was talking about being spiritually poor and she quoted from 2 Corinthians 6 (from the New American Standard Bible): no cause for offense in anything, so that the ministry will not be discredited, but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; regarded as deceivers and yet true; as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death, as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things.

As I read the passage, some of the words jumped out at me in a new way. Instead of thinking this passage is for those people 'out there' doing hard-core mission, for the first time as a mum I felt like I was included in what Paul is talking about.

Though I am not on the frontline of ministry as Paul was, I too, go through 'much endurance' as I look after my two children at home day-in and day-out, and I too, feel 'imprisoned' when I am not free to leave the house as and when I want to because I can't leave the children, and I too, know 'labours' every day as I walk up and down the stairs a hundred times a day meeting the constant demands of little children, and I too, know 'sleeplessness' with my youngest who doesn't eat well in the day so makes up for it in the night with night feeds..., and the list goes on.

God was telling me that He sees my efforts at home as valid in the Kingdom. God made this passage speak directly to my life. He saw my hidden thoughts and spoke to encourage me. As mums stuck at home, our job of raising our children is important to God. As well as telling me that my sacrifices as a mother were noticed by God and were a valid part of the work of the Kingdom, I felt there was a second part to the message - just as Paul needed the power of God to carry out his work, so the power of God is available to us to empower us to carry out our work too.

Yes, I can relate to 'much endurance, distresses, labours, sleeplessness, hunger,' etc, but it's good to know that because the first part of the passage resonates with me, therefore the rest of the passage is for me too; in faith, I can carry out my mission to raise my children 'in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left,'.

How wonderful it is to know that I too, just like Paul, can call on the power of God to fulfill the demands of my day with the children! When I am at my wits end, exhausted and frustrated, with feelings of failure, instead of admitting defeat and giving in to my impatience or anger, I now know I have as much right as Paul to call on divine help to persevere.

If you can relate to what I'm talking about, then may God speak to you as He did to me - 'My Beloved, you are not forgotten'.

Am I presentable?
by Jo Parkins, 8 years ago (20.05 on Saturday, 18th of July, 2009) |  permalink  |  Comments?

When I was young and someone came to the door unexpectedly while my mum was in her 'around-the-house-clothes', before answering the door she would check with me, 'Am I presentable?'.

Now I have my own house, I like to be presentable before I receive guests too. I don't like feeling scruffy in front of other people, but with two children under the age of 3, there's no point in wearing nice clothes at home because they only get covered in baby food, play dough, paint, and other sticky things!

As with my physical body, so it is with my spiritual self too. I like to feel presentable on the inside before I open the door to God. If I had guests coming to my home for the evening I would at least take a moment to put a clean shirt on and brush my hair. But in the middle of the day with the constant demands of the children there's no time to have an internal clean-up to have an audience with Holy God, so I tend to avoid Him.

While preparing dinner the other day I was listening to a worship song. The words 'surrender to His embrace' stuck out at me. I wondered why. Thinking about it, I realised that I would like to feel presentable before receiving the Lord's embrace, but I rarely feel 'presentable' to answer the door to the Lord so I keep Him waiting until I have the time to clean myself up a bit. It came to me that because I have chosen to be a full-time mum, I am not going to get the time in the near future to have the internal spring clean I feel I need in order to feel comfortable in His presence. As I cannot make time to prepare myself for Him by clothing myself in quietness and giving Him the attention He deserves, through the words of the song, I felt the Lord tell me that my only alternative is to fall into His arms in all my chaos, mess, disarray, stress, and tiredness... and surrender.

It makes me feel incredibly vulnerable to step off the treadmill and drop all my coping and working and determinedness-to-keep-going in order to sink into His arms. I find it hard to let go, hard to let Him in to the constant feeling I have of being one step behind in life. Its as if I spend my life trying to make myself presentable for God, but I never feel I 'arrive'. I want to have a clean house, well-behaved children, a satisfied husband, an outward-looking social life, faith that moves mountains, and a committed prayer life too! If I had all that then I could open the door to my spotless internal self at any time and say 'welcome' to the Lord without cringing at the mess!

But life isn't like that. Who can live up to that? And besides, who says God is on the outside waiting for an invite into a glamourous home? Maybe God would just like to sit down and have a chat and maybe He doesn't care if there is a big orange juice stain in the middle of the lounge carpet (and there is in my house but that's another story)! Maybe God just wants to help?

'As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"
"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10 v 38-42.

Sitting at Jesus' feet doesn't just mean taking time out for a Bible study, or a retreat, or a conference; it applies to our hearts on a daily basis. I'm learning to come to Him in the midst my mess, and I feel much better for it!

Surprised by the power of the Word
by Jo Parkins, 8 years ago (20.20 on Friday, 26th of June, 2009) |  permalink  |  Comments?

I didn't have a good morning. As usual, it started the night before when one of my girls didn't sleep well. Sleep-deprived, I ploughed on through the morning, only to get more and more bogged down by negative thoughts. Accusations were flying round my head thick and fast. Sienna was constipated and every time I put her in her high chair she cried and refused to eat anything, making me feel I was failing at introducing my baby to solids; Scarlett spent the morning in just her nappy because her eczema is bad and I haven't done enough to make it better; when I looked at my weekly schedule I felt bad because I don't have enough friends to hang out with; opening the garage door to put a load of washing on, I was dismayed at the chaos of clothes strewn in front of the washing machine waiting their turn for a wash....the list went on and on.
It was lunch time by the time I was drowning in my own thoughts and sick of feeling bad when I decided to fight back. I thought if I fill my head with something godly, then there won't be any room for the negativity. Usually when my head is spinning I combat it by singing God songs, but I was too tired to sing, so I just said the words from Romans 8 v 1, 'There is no condemnation for those that are in Christ'. And in that instant the accusations stopped! My head cleared and straight away I was able to think positively again. Instead of focusing on all the things that were wrong, I saw my situation in a new light - I thought there will be plenty of time in the future to be busy seeing lots of people but for now I am thankful for the quality time I am able to spend with my girls when I don't have a busy social calendar. From then on, for the rest of the day I felt a whole lot better. Days like today remind me that the Word of God actually works, and maybe I should use it more often!

Revelation from a Crocodile Slide
by Jo Parkins, 8 years ago (20.55 on Wednesday, 17th of June, 2009) |  permalink  |  Comments?

I was recently in a swimming pool with my nearly-3-year-old daughter, Scarlett, at a Christian conference. There were 2 other mums there in the pool with their kids and they were all were queuing to go down a small crocodile slide. The other kids went down the slide into the water with great enthusiasm and much splashing, and the mums stood nearby cheering them on. When it came to Scarlett's turn, despite loving it the last time we were there, now she had an audience she wasn't so keen and she froze at the top. As we were being observed by the other mums, I was slightly embarrassed by Scarlett's reticence, and was a little irritated by her demands that I stand at the bottom to catch her. I did stand at the bottom as she asked but unfortunately I fumbled the catch and she went under the water and came up in quite a panic! The poor child was freaked out and made a great fuss in my arms as I tried to calm her down. In my embarrassment, I scalded her for being so silly, feeling self-conscious that the other mums had witnessed my child's pathetic attempt at coming down the slide!

Looking back at it now, I feel bad that I ridiculed Scarlett in order to save face in front of the others mums. In my head I was thinking that the incident surely showed them that I was a 'bad mum' because I hadn't nurtured water-confidence in my child! My impatient and embarrassed response revealed that, through Scarlett, I wanted their acceptance and approval when that's exactly what I should have given to Scarlett when she needed it most at her time of vulnerability. I felt my failure as a mum and I made Scarlett bear the brunt of it. Surely if I was a 'good mum', I'd have spent more time teaching Scarlett water skills? But even if that is so, (and its ok with me if it is - we can't all be good at everything), the incident made me really think about my acceptance of my child. Am I only going to show her love when she makes me proud by impressing other people? That's a road I really don't want to go down!

As a mother I feel I should unconditionally accept my child. In reality, however, in the heat of the moment, I was embarrassed by her poor performance in the water, and so I was sad to discover my acceptance was actually based on her performance and it wasn't so unconditional after all! I know it was only a minor incident, but it did make me resolve to never place my need for approval from others over my child's need for approval from me. That means, some time in the future I am going to have to put aside my insecurities and vanities and maybe feel the disapproval or disappointment of others in order to encourage my struggling child. Am I willing to make that sacrifice?

The incident also made me think about my perception of God. My reaction in the pool was a bad one, therefore it wasn't a response that God would have. It opened my eyes to realise that maybe I feel that God is ashamed of me when I don't 'measure up', but actually I think God has used the experience to reveal to me a little more of His compassion and unconditional love for me, and therefore the unconditional love I need to have of others inspite of their weaknesses too.

This passage comes to mind:
"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."
Matthew 7 v 9-12.

Faith of a Mummy
by Jo Parkins, 9 years ago (10.11 on Saturday, 25th of April, 2009) |  permalink  |  Comments?

I have been thinking about prayer lately. The prayer of a mother of young children - is this the prayer of faith?
When I am tired and my children are ill and my husband is busy at work and I haven't had a decent night's sleep in ages, I pray prayers like, 'Please, God, make her sleep through the night', 'Please God, help me deal with this tantrum', 'Please God, tell me what I can make for tea.' Those prayers are basic, simple, often desperate cries for help. It's times like that when faith comes into action; when I don't feel spiritual, when I don't feel God is with me, when I don't feel anything much at all! That's when my prayer is based solely on the fact that God is my loving Heavenly Father, only He can make my situation better and I can't go on without His intervention.

At times like those, when I am at the end of myself, that my faith is stripped back to its foundations. I find myself asking 'Do I really believe God is interested in what I'm going through?', 'Is it worth praying about this?', and at the end of the day my ultimate question is, 'Does God really care?'. I believe He does, though maybe He won't always get me out of the situation, its a comfort to know I can ask Him to be with me in it.

I wonder how many opportunities for God's intervention I've missed in life because I haven't felt like praying. Since becoming a mother of two, I am getting used to praying without feeling like it, and I think God takes that as faith. In fact, my feeble attempt is all the invitation He needs to step in. When I am 'on form' I can pray in the Spirit, prophesy, sing, and get into spiritual warfare, but when I am hanging on by a thread, and all I have to offer is a quick plea for help, then that's all God needs to get involved.

Like the old lady in the temple, God is happy when we give him what we have, and if all we've got is a couple of small coins, then that's ok:
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on." Mark 12 vs 41-44.

Its not the 'wealth' of my prayer that moves mountains - God is the mountain mover, not me. I might be a co-worker with Christ, but He is the one who comes alongside and takes the weight of my burden. I guess I'm learning the balance of being independent enough to trust He's given me everything I need to get on with life, but being dependent enough to ask for it!

I need to get out more!
by Jo Parkins, 9 years ago (15.22 on Thursday, 19th of February, 2009) |  permalink  |  Comments?

Yesterday I had a mare of a day. It started the day before, when Sienna, our 9-week old baby wouldn't go to sleep til midnight, then nextdoor had a burglar at 3am which woke us up, then Scarlett woke at 6am, so the day began on the wrong foot. We had just got back from a few days away at my parents' and the washing was in multiple piles all over the house. It was my mission to make a big dint in it but Scarlett, who is 2 and a half and still usually has a 2-hour nap in the afternoon, refused to sleep when I put her in bed. Thus, because she wouldn't sleep, I couldn't sleep, and by mid-afternoon we were both very grumpy, and Sienna wouldn't settle either so I didn't get much washing done! I eventually put both girls in the pram and went out for a walk before I threw something or someone out of the window!
Taking the girls out in the pram to get them to sleep for me is like admitting defeat, as I am usually adamant that beds are for sleeping in, not prams. Sure enough, after 10 mins, both girls were sleeping soundly and I had the opportunity to have some peace and quiet to myself as I struggled to push the tandem buggy along the road heading into town.
As I walked I felt miserable that I couldn't get my act together and my kids had driven me crazy. I was hungry and tired and I needed a wee; I hadn't done my hair or even looked in a mirror, and I'm sure my clothes didn't match either! I didn't want people to look at me and think badly of me, but it soon dawned on me that I was better off than most of the people I passed on the street.
I noticed that some people looked stressed, some lonely, some had obvious health problems and others just looked like nothing nice had happened to them in a long time. I started to catch peoples eyes and smile at them, hoping to bring a little light relief to their day. Most people smiled back, some had a little chat, while others looked away. Regardless of the reactions I got, it all helped me get over myself and be thankful for the loving home I'm walking back to, the health we have as a family, and the many other blessings I enjoy and take for granted. So what if I have the odd bad day with the girls? There's more to life than being a yummy mummy!

It's the small things
by Jo Parkins, 9 years ago (21.22 on Tuesday, 20th of January, 2009) |  permalink  |  Comments?

It's the small things in life that let me know that God is with us. I know most people just attribute something going well to good luck, or chance, but I know the Hand of God when I see it!
Like the other day when I was in M&S exchanging a 3-pack of tops that someone had bought for Scarlett that were too small. I didn't have the receipt, so I needed to do a straight swap for the next size up in the same style. However, when we got to M&S, they were sold out of the size I needed, all except a set of tops with one missing - there were 2 instead of 3 on the hanger! How frustrating.
We don't have much spare cash, and Scarlett is growing out of her clothes at an alarming rate, so I really needed these new tops. I walked around feeling a bit desperate asking God what I should do. I decided to find other tops of the same value and see if they would exchange without a receipt.
Here's the good bit - while I was in the queue, the rack of discarded clothes came into view. I wasn't really looking deliberately, but at the bottom of a big heap of clothes I noticed a stripey pattern like the one on the missing top. I left my place in the queue to check it out, and yes - it was the missing top I'd been needing!
I ran back to the rail, grabbed the set with one top missing, and pushed back into the queue (how un-british of me) and hurriedly put the errant top back with its companions, and handed it to the assistant telling her I wanted to exchange the tops. She didn't bat an eyelid and handed me the new ones with no fuss at all.
If you ask me, God knew my needs and kept the last set of Scarlett's size aside for me!

Another thing - Sienna generally doesn't sleep for long at night between feeds so I count on having an afternoon nap to catch up. The one night she did sleep well was the night before the day I didn't get chance to have an afternoon nap. In my book, that was God being kind, knowing that the next day wouldn't bring any rest.

My Birth Story
by Jo Parkins, 9 years ago (10.39 on Friday, 9th of January, 2009) |  permalink  |  Comments?

I want to put down in writing my experience of birth with Sienna, as I don't want to forget what a great testimony it is of God's faithfulness.

Scarlett came as a surprise, 6 weeks early, and a rushed labour was accompanied by a nasty tear. I didn't feel prepared for birth emotionally or physically and I found the whole experience rather traumatic. This time I wanted it to be different. This time I had my bag packed by 34 weeks, and I was taking evasive action against another tear (Ladies reading this might know what I mean by this, and men, you don't need to know!). I bought a book about hypnobirthing to try to have the most relaxed labour and birth as possible and read and re-read it. As 34 weeks passed and I was busy getting things ready for another baby, I asked God when we'd be ready for this baby, and 'heard' the words in my head 'just in the nick of time'. Strange words to hear, I thought, as it never occurred to me this baby would be late!

Over the next 7 and a half weeks, those words kept on coming back to me, and were even confirmed by a neighbour who out of the blue told matt the baby would come 'just in the nick of time'! I was adamant that I didn't want intervention to bring my baby into the world, and I was getting increasingly anxious as midwives started talking about induction that I wouldn't get the calm natural birth that I so desperately wanted.

At 34 weeks, 'Just in the nick of time' weren't words I wanted to hear, but as the time passed they soon became words that gave me a glimmer of hope that this baby would be ok. Eventually we couldn't leave it any longer and I accepted that induction was the best way forward. We had friends and family praying that we wouldn't have to go through with it, but the day came and I went in for my induction appointment at 10.30am on Sunday 14th December, 11 days after the due date.

When we got there we were given a private room and we were told the delivery ward was busy so they couldn't start the induction yet, so we waited. The day went by, and every so often a midwife would come and apologise saying they were still too busy to see me. I had lunch, and still no news. I had a nap in the afternoon, and still no news. After tea, at 6pm they hooked me up to a monitor to check the baby's heart rate and movement, and everything was fine. At 7pm a midwife said they would have room for me in the delivery ward soon so she gave me an examination to see if I needed the induction gel, and but it turned out I was 3cm dilated already and wouldn't need inducing after all! I was so relieved not to have to have my labour started by drugs. It was wonderful news.

Matt wasn't with me at that point, as he had gone home to put Scarlett to bed. I called and told him the good news, and said I was soon going to go to the delivery ward to have my waters broken, but they didn't expect labour to start any time soon, so there was no need to hurry back. At 8pm I was taken to my delivery room and met by a midwife, Sue, who had just come on duty. We didn't know it then, but she turned out to be a Christian. For weeks, Matt and I had been praying for the best nursing staff to look after me in labour, and in hindsight we think God might have had his hand on the day, holding us back until this lady came on duty to deliver Sienna for us!

Sue talked through my birth plan with me, and was as keen as I was to closely manage this labour to avoid another tear. She gave me another exam and broke my waters, saying I was now 4cm dilated, but not to expect anything to happen for 2 or 3 hours at which point she'd come back and give me drugs to get contractions started. In my heart I was still holding onto God not to let it get to the point where I needed drugs, so I agreed to wait and see what happened.

As soon as she left the room, the pains started. I got into my nightshirt and got the TENS machine out of my bag and knelt down on the floor, kneeling against the bed, thinking 'This is it, I'm in labour already', but there was no-one around! Matt wasn't back yet, and the midwives had gone to attend to other women. I spent the next 20 mins going to and from the toilet in between contractions as my bowels emptied which wasn't very nice, and then Matt arrived at around 9.15pm just as I puked my guts up, and in between contractions and vomiting I managed to tell him I was in labour and he needed to help me get onto the bed! He looked very shocked!

By that point my contractions were coming thick and fast and I knew I was well into labour already, feeling that familiar 'I can't take this anymore' feeling you get just before you start pushing. I told matt to get help. He went and got the midwife who came back calmly and was about to give me a painkiller before she realised I was pushing. She then flew into action and told me not to push until she got into position and then a minute later said she could see the head, only an hour after she'd left me saying not to expect anything for a couple of hours!

Sue was fantastic, and I gave birth to Sienna at 8lbs 15oz, half an hour later with only a tiny tear that didn't need stitches. I was so happy. God heard my heart's desire and made it possible, despite the circumstances of going overdue, for me to have my natural birth. Thank you, Lord!

The Parkins Picasa WebAlbum
by Matt Parkins, 9 years ago (22.34 on Monday, 29th of December, 2008) |  permalink  |  1 comment

We've started posting our pictures onto Picasa's webalbum so that everyone can see the pictures - it is easier than posting them on here and not everyone has access to facebook for the photos we post there (and not everyone gets the notification of new photos as we all have several hundred friends...).

If you create a picasa web album account then you can subscribe and be notified when we post new photos:

Who is your role model? A quick quiz!
by Matt Parkins, 9 years ago (09.04 on Monday, 22nd of December, 2008) |  permalink  |  2 comments

Here's a little quiz someone sent me to help determine who your role model is. It's very clever and doesn't take long to complete either:

1. Pick a whole number between 1-9
2. Multiply by 3 then
3. Add 3
4. Multiply by 3
5. Add the digits together

Now with that number see who your ROLE MODEL is from the list below :

1. Einstein
2. Nelson Mandela
3. Mike Breen
4. Tom Cruise
5. Bill Gates
6. Gandhi
7. Brad Pitt
8. Kofi Annan
9. Matt Parkins
10. Barack Obama

PS. Stop picking different numbers and just deal with the truth!

Scarlett's night-time routine
by Matt Parkins, 9 years ago (23.22 on Sunday, 21st of December, 2008) |  permalink  |  1 comment

Scarlett's night-time routine. Goodnight Pooh bear, goodnight Roo, goodnight Piglet, goodnight Eye-ore...

Scarlett at Starbucks
by Matt Parkins, 9 years ago (23.19 on Sunday, 21st of December, 2008) |  permalink  |  Comments?

Scarlett's first trip to Starbucks. Proverbs 22v6: Train a child in the way they should go, and when they are old they will not turn from it. :)

Scarlett dancing while sat down
by Matt Parkins, 9 years ago (21.38 on Tuesday, 16th of December, 2008) |  permalink  |  3 comments

Scarlett dancing while sat down - recorded the day before Sienna was born.

A new addition to the family
by Matt Parkins, 9 years ago (17.37 on Monday, 15th of December, 2008) |  permalink  |  1 comment

At 9.51pm on Sunday 14th December 2008 Sienna Jo Parkins became the latest addition to the Parkins family. She weighed in at 8lb 15oz.

We waited all day to be induced at the hospital but because they were so busy the induction was delayed 10 hours by which time the baby was on its way anyway. We had, along with lots of our friends, been praying for a simple, non-chemically induced delivery so we are glad we were delayed. The midwife we had was brilliant and Sienna was her 983rd baby. Labour itself lasted about 40 minutes though from contractions to birth was really about 1 hour 20 mins.

We were given the option of going home immediately though Jo decided that she would stay in until the morning. Mother and baby doing are doing well, here are a couple of photos:

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