Archives For Melanie

A June to Remember

Melanie —  July 8, 2017

The month of July has come now and we Meads are enjoying being finished with our schooling! The weather has been wonderful so we’ve been enjoying bike riding, roller blading, picnics and a few outings.  We’re looking forward to some fun times with friends this summer, as well as doing what we can to serve others as a family with the extra time we have.  Peter has been travelling quite a bit this past month so we’re looking forward to having him around a bit more too.

On 4th of July, Aliyah made a special cake and the kids dressed up in their Chicago Cubs shirts (red, white and blue!) to celebrate. We brought the cake to share with our homeschool group friends at our Sports Day in Bristol which was so much fun!

But really, I want to share some photos from June.  It was a special month!  To start with, I had a grand surprise when I walked into church one Sunday afternoon just before my birthday!  It was pretty funny as I was not at all early to church (i.e. nearly late!) and the very friendly guy on the door kind of “hurried” me inside. (Hmmm. . . he’s never done that before, I thought).  As I entered the room, Mariah asked me with a big grin if I’d like to “get ready” for church (not sure what that meant!!).  Then a friend who knows well that I don’t drink coffee, asked me if I’d like to go get some coffee from the refreshments table! I said, “Well, I’ll get some water,” and turned towards the table, only to find  . . . MY SISTER (from America) standing there!!! Oh, my goodness!!  I was completely shocked.  What a wonderful surprise! I kind of felt like the whole ten days she was here with my nephew was a dream.  But an amazing one!

 

This was taken just after the surprise at church! I love you so much Amy!

So after that, I thought I’d had my birthday surprise! (Yup, it was a big one – the big 40!) The next day was our anniversary (day before my birthday) so Peter and I were planning on going out to dinner.  Well, after what seemed a LONG drive around the countryside, we finally go to the restaurant.  I thought something might be up, but I was not prepared to see a large number of ladies from church all there and shouting surprise and happy birthday! Peter excused himself after taking the photo below. 🙂 Oh, my goodness, another shock!

Here I am with my lovely sisters in Christ at my surprise birthday meal. Thank you all – you are such a blessing!

The next day was my birthday.  We had an amazing day out at Bowood House – a beautiful place with an adventure playground, lake, house and gardens, waterfall and caves.  We are blessed to have passes, thanks to my Aunt Carol!

 

It was so special to have Amy and Matthew there too!

 

We enjoyed a picnic together. . . (excuse the funny expression captured on Peter’s face – ha!)

 

It was adorable watching Jessah eat her lunch on the bench with Peter.

 

This girl is so full of fun! (She’s also starting to grow a little fro!)

 

Matthew and Joel had a fantastic time together doing all things BOY!

 

Here are Aliyah and Hannah at the waterfall.

 

And Amy and I in the gardens.

 

And our whole family . . . I truly believe I have the best family in the world.

 

Peter had one more birthday surprise for me – a jar full of memories/notes of appreciation from him, the children and some of my friends and extended family. I laughed and cried my way through reading them. What an amazing and precious gift to treasure!

So turning 40 was actually a really nice experience!  Getting older is a funny thing . . . while we were away on holiday in the spring, I did some processing with Peter about the whole idea of getting older and the emotions that come with it.  There is a certain wistfulness that comes when you look back and realise that your youth is gone and so many good memories are now in the past.  However, I know that God is the author of the past and the future and my times are in His hands – well, my whole self is in His hands! The verse that I was pondering last year when Peter turned 40 has meant a lot to me . . . “Therefore, we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly, we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:18.  With Jesus, we know the best is yet to come.

So here are a few more photos of our time with Amy and Matthew.  What a gift those ten days were!

We drove to London one day, parked in the outskirts and took the tube into the centre. Here we are having a picnic in St. James’ Park! We were enjoying it so much, we lost track of time and realised we needed to get moving to the Westminster area and catch the boat we had booked!

 

Amy and the kids outside Buckingham Palace.

 

The Meadlings with Buckingham Palace in the background!

 

Trafalgar Square lions! We even managed a few minutes in the National Gallery after this photo was taken.

 

The boat ride on the Thames was a great way to see the sights – nice and cool too, as it was a hot day! It was a very memorable day out.

 

Another day we took a walk in the woods above the nearby village of Castle Coombe.

 

The kids absolutely loved being in the woods, digging for wild garlic (we realised after we got home that it’s the leaves, not the bulbs that you eat – oops!) and playing army, in the case of Joel and Matthew.

 

It was another hot day so the children spent a lot of time in the stream.

 

They found a dead crayfish and proceeded to make a memorial for him. (That’s the crayfish on the rock in the middle! He was promptly dubbed Lecrae after an American Christian hiphop artist – hilarious!)

 

Thanks so much for coming Amy and Matthew!  And thank you to everyone who helped to make my birthday special.

Peter has just returned from a few days in Ireland, helping teach at the Impact Ireland outreach training.  Hannah went with him and will be staying there until the 18th as she is participating in the outreach.  I know she would value your prayers.  Peter is will be preaching tomorrow in our series at Trinity called, Dear Church, on the seven letters in Revelation.  Here is a link if you are interested in listening to any of the messages.

Happy Summer! May God refresh and bless you over the next weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Reading Ideas

Melanie —  June 4, 2017

I have been recently inspired to start regularly sharing resources again that have been a blessing to our family!

More and more I am becoming convinced about the power of stories in our lives to shape and teach us and inspire us to greatness.  Just consider the number of stories that Jesus himself told!

Read the World – summer book club

First, if you are looking for a fun idea to get your children reading this summer, and also help them learn about other cultures and countries, check out the Read the World summer book club.  This can be a very simple thing (i.e. read one book each week as a family) or it can be more involved (i.e. read lots of books each week, try recipes from different countries, give your children prizes, raise money for a charity, etc).  The great thing is that you can customise it for your family. Our family is excited to participate.  The book club starts this week but it’s not too late to sign up!  If you don’t own Jamie Martin’s, “Give Your Child the World,” you can still glean book ideas from friends, google for ideas or use the library. (If you live near us, we are happy to suggest and loan books!)

Read the World is being promoted by Jamie Martin and also Sarah MacKenzie from the Read Aloud Revival podcast.

A friend pointed me to The Read Aloud Revival  a few months ago and I have been eating it up ever since.  I don’t get much time to listen to podcasts.  They are my “treat” if I have to drive somewhere by myself or I am actually cooking in the kitchen alone! (which rarely happens).  The tagline of the podcast encourages listeners to “build your family culture around books.”  So many of us think that reading aloud is something we should do only with young children.  Not so! The research (and our family experience too!) shows that reading aloud is an incredible way to build family bonds and of course to develop a moral foundation, imagination, English skills and much, much more!

I recommend you listen to podcast number one first but then just pick out which ones look interesting to you (feel free to ask me for my favourites!).  Sarah also has a list of the most popular episodes here.  There have been episodes with Sally Lloyd Jones (author of the Jesus Story Book Bible), Sally Clarkson (one of my very favourite writers) and her daughter Sarah Clarkson and many more wonderful authors and speakers.  Don’t miss the incredible true story of a girl and her father who read aloud every night for nearly eight years!

If you read aloud to your children for only 10 minutes a day, that adds up to 60 hours a year! From our family experience, it’s totally worth it to start this as a new habit!  Audiobooks work great too if you don’t fancy reading aloud yourself. If you are already into reading aloud in your family, this podcast will be the source of fantastic book ideas.

One book idea I got from the podcast is The Green Ember.  (Check out the fab video at this link with the author and his children.) With Mariah and Joel having chicken pox this past week and me having a heavy cold, we have been listening to it as an audiobook together. It would be a great family read-aloud for middle grades on up (this nearly 40 year old is loving it!). I can’t recommend it highly enough!

Thankfully, the chicken pox Meadlings (Hannah, Mariah and Joel) are feeling much better.  They are now just waiting for their spots to heal and so they are non-contagious.  The trip to Cadbury World tomorrow with our homeschooling friends is looking in doubt for Mariah and Joel but hey, we’ll have the Green Ember to listen to and maybe we’ll have to get some of our own chocolate to munch while we listen.

Happy Summer Reading!

 

 

God designed the family and relationships in general in such a beautiful way.  They are such a gift.  We just returned from nearly 3 wonderful weeks of together time as a family in France and Spain.  We are so thankful to God for such a special time!  Here are a few pictures that tell the story of our time away.

Our first stop was Normandy and our focus was on soaking up the history of the famous D-Day Landings which turned the tide of WW2. It was incredible to walk on the beaches where it all happened.

 

Here we are on Omaha Beach. We were thankful for dry weather although it was quite cold.

 

The Visitor’s Centre and American Cemetery which overlooks Omaha Beach was a very moving experience.

 

Another amazing place was Pointe du Hoc, a German stronghold high on the rocks above the sea. The US Army Rangers scaled the cliffs under heavy fire to take the site on D-Day. You can still climb in and out of many of the bunkers and Joel and the girls loved climbing and exploring them.

 

Pointe du Hoc is full of large craters which were created by Allied bombs just prior to D-Day. Here are the Meadlings inside one of them.

 

 

The Germans had heavily fortified the Normandy coast and had spread thousands of obstacles all over the beach to stop an invasion. You can still see many of them today. Here is Joel with a “Czech hedgehog” near Utah Beach.

 

There are many, many memorials all over the area to honour the thousands of Allied soldiers who gave their lives in the D-Day invasions and in the weeks of fighting that followed. This memorial was in an old German bunker and caught my eye especially because of the verse inscribed on the plaque: “Greater love has no one than this that he would lay down his life for his friends.” The many stories of bravery and sacrifice that we read were truly inspiring. I plan on writing a separate post soon with my reflections on our time at the D-Day Beaches. I was incredibly touched by all we experienced.

 

It wasn’t all serious though . . . there’s always time for some light relief and humour when Joel is around!

 

Our next stop was in central France at a friend’s parents’ house in Civray. We had a delightful time there. The house is an old mill on a river. It was beautiful.

 

The children enjoyed playing around outside, swimming in the small indoor pool and eating French bread and cheese!

 

The weather wasn’t too great while we were there but we made the best of it and enjoyed being cosy around the fire and of course enjoyed the sun when it came out. Here are Aliyah and Kaylah out on the river.

 

I love this photo of Jessah watching the action down the stairs (I was watching that she didn’t fall!) and Hannah in the background, reading a book up on a concrete ledge!

 

It was so nice to be together with no time pressures.

 

Unfortunately, our last hours in Civray included Kaylah tripping and cutting her chin. We had a great experience at the French hospital though . . . (I was grateful Peter spoke enough French to help us communicate) and three stitches later we were on the road again!

 

Our last stop was the gorgeous Pyrenees in northern Spain. What an amazing part of the world!

 

My parents flew over from the USA and met us there for a very special time together. We stayed in an old stone house in a very quiet village. The kids said it felt like we were living in a cave.

 

It was so special for the Meadlings to get time with their American grandparents.

 

Thanks Mom and Dad for flying across the world (not without a few hassles!) to see us.

 

We did a lot of hiking, including climbing a hill just outside our village. Here are Mariah and Joel a short way up the trail. The house we stayed in is near to the church steeple.

 

And here was the awesome view from the top!! God is amazing!!

 

We all fitted in plenty of reading time . . . Joel’s book was so good in this case that he needed to finish it during a picnic in the mountains.

 

Miss Kaylah is also becoming quite the reader.

 

It was fun to explore the medieval town nearby . . .

 

. . . paddle in the mountain streams (brrrr . . . cold!!) . . .

 

. . . and enjoy simple pleasures like throwing rocks . . .

 

. . . enjoying good food . . .

 

. . . and playing with the village dogs who never tired of having us throw pine cones for them to chase . . .

 

Joel enjoyed watching the lizards which frequented a rock outside of our house.  There were also birds of prey everywhere.  One day Peter and I had a magnificent display of a huge flock of vultures who landed on something dead near the road we were driving on.  We got to see them right up close.

 

The Ergo baby carrier came in handy for all the walks and hikes we did – thanks to my sister for that!

 

 

I think the hiking and the gorgeous scenery was probably my favourite part of being in Spain.

 

A holiday with my Mom is never complete without doing at least one jigsaw puzzle – we ended up doing three this time! (The person who stole the last piece of one of them shall remain nameless 🙂 )

 

 

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Heavenly Lights. It was such a gift to be able to soak in His beauty, goodness and love these last three weeks.

 

We are back now but cherishing the memories.  The time away has been very restorative and we are trusting God as we re-enter life and ministry here in Chippenham.  We plan on writing a ministry update shortly.  Peter is off to Poland on Friday for his annual teaching week at the European Leadership Forum.  Please pray for him to have a time of significant and fruitful ministry.  Also we would ask for your prayers for Jessah who chipped two teeth the night before our holiday.  A dentist told us that she would probably need to have them removed and that her adult teeth may also be damaged.  We have been praying for healing and that this would not be the case.  We see our normal dentist on Thursday so please pray if it’s God’s will, she will be able to keep her teeth.  Thank you for all your prayers for us.