Archives For Family News

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!

 

Poland and Pox

Peter —  May 29, 2017

Last Thursday I got back from Poland (report coming below).  It was a great time and it was also encouraging to get home and find out that our dentist said Jessah’s teeth do not need to be removed at this time.  He is also confident that her adult teeth should not have been damaged – we are thankful!

This morning we discovered that several of our children have chickenpox.  This is also good news.  We have been trying to get it for years and have finally succeeded.  Nobody is particularly comfortable or happy, but we are trying to care for each other and make it an adventure.

Over 700 participants enjoying John Lennox’s Bible teaching…

So, how was Poland?  I would say it was probably the best European Leadership Forum I have experienced as far as ministry goes.  I have been able to attend the forum eight times, and the last five times I have been leading the Bible Teachers and Preachers Networks.

Every participant in the Forum comes as a guest of one of the 28 networks that run every morning.  Participants from Eastern Europe get a hefty scholarship to make their attendance possible.  My colleague Huw led the foundational network and I focused my energies on the advanced network.  It was the best year yet in lots of ways.  We were so encouraged by the feedback from this year and previous years.

Honestly the only discouragement was the number of people who wanted to be in the network but could not because of a lack of scholarships (if you know a church or wealthy individual who might like to help with this specific project enabling Eastern Europeans to attend this network and the Forum, please put them in touch with me).

The translated food descriptions offer amusement every year (the food is good though!)

As well as the networks the week also involved so much more.  There were the final sessions with last year’s year round mentoring group, followed by the first sessions with the new group for this coming year.  I was able to interview John Lennox again, I gave two workshops which were well attended, and recorded several video interviews which will become available in the coming months.

There were good meals with friends and contacts from across Europe – it is a wonderful event for seeing old friends and making new ones.  I was able to grab some time with the group of Cor Deo guys that went over together (graduates from years 2011, 2013, 2015), and also was able to watch a football match on the final evening before returning home.  What was the highlight of the week?  Honestly I think we would all say it was our friend Mike Reeves on Justification … if you look that up online you will find him speaking on the subject somewhere!

Thank you for praying for us in Poland, and for praying for Melanie and the children at home.  It was a great week and we thank God for the privilege.  Right now thanks for praying for us to have the strength we need to care for the chickenpox clan!

 

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.