Saturday, 17 February 2018

GUEST POST: Homeschooling - Week 2

Homeschooling 3 boys from ages 9, 11 and 14

Well, our second week just flew by in a blur!

My well thought out and pre-prepared weekly timetable has gone out of the window already.  It doesn't work out when each boy gets up naturally at a different time and works through their books at varying paces.  They never seem to be ready to take a break together.  So my plan of starting the day with a family devotional hasn't worked out - we tend to fit it in at the end of dinner instead. My daily chores list remains on the wall, unused, in the hope that one of these days the boys will all be up early enough to help me with some of the jobs needing to be done each morning!

I discovered this week that actually the boys should be aiming for double their age in total numbers of pages of book work per day.  Our 9 year old is managing to complete all his by lunch time!  Our other two are taking longer and not very often managing to do the recommended amount.  
We did manage to have a complete day off book work last Tuesday to go to a Meet with other local Christian home educators, which I enjoyed more than the boys.  We also met up with another group of home schoolers on Wednesday afternoon at an indoor play area.  Looking forward to the longer days and warmer weather so we can get out and about in the fresh air.


This week the boys actually completed their scientific experiment (salt crystals on a piece of cotton dipped in saline solution) and their arts and crafts projects (weaving with wool).  That's about the extent of my creative abilities!


Had a few tantrums to deal with during the week - had some nasty things shouted at me.  I win the prize for the "worst mum in the world" again (the amount of times I've heard that over the years!)  Later I had the priviledge of hearing that particular son say God had told him to come and say sorry.  I was then able to talk and share some Bible truths.  I love home schooling!


I am particularly loving seeing our sons learn Bible verses as part of each subject (even Maths!)  Our 14 year old was reading a Psalm and answering questions about King David's relationship with God in one of his subjects.


I'm also loving spending more time with each of them, getting to know them better, and encouraging them in their relationships with each other.  So far, so good - just harder work than I expected!  
Kind of thinking we should have taken advice from others and had a period of de-schooling before getting stuck right in (but previously I thought as we had just finished the Christmas holidays, we didn't really need to!) 

Boys' thoughts about home schooling at the end of week 2:

9 year old: "It's OK"
11 year old: "I'm glad that I won't be tempted to do wrong things"
14 year old: "I want to go back to school"


Sunday, 28 January 2018

GUEST POST: Homeschooling - Week 1

Please note: Someone very dear to me has just started homeschooling three of her children, but she would like to keep it anonymous for now. I have asked her if she would like the opportunity to post weekly reviews of how she feels this is going, and for you all to read and see what homeschooling is really like! Enjoy!


Homeschooling 3 boys from ages 9, 11 and 14

We're a mixed-race Christian family with five boys and have just started home schooling the youngest three.  Join us as we begin this brand new journey!

A few months ago, our 11 year old son said something to me which set this whole home schooling ball in motion, "I'm worried that at High School I'm going to be tempted to do things I don't want to do".  Home schooling is something I hadn't really thought about before, but that night, we started to seriously consider it.I made some enquiries, was added to several Facebook home schooling pages, met up with a few local home educators and we finally made the decision to take our three youngest boys out of the school system and use the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) curriculum at home . 

I joined The European Academy for Christian Homeschooling (TEACH), who provide support for home schoolers using the ACE curriculum.  The boys each had to complete a set of online assessments and were given a prescription to show where they were academically and which books we needed to order.  Our 14 year old was assessed as being ready to start his International Certificate of Christian Education (ICCE), which I then had to register him for.  This would give him a qualification equivalent to eight O'levels.  I also had to complete online training for ACE and ICCE to enable me to supervise their self-directed learning.

On Monday last week, the books all arrived.  I then discovered I had neglected to order our 14 year old's Social Studies textbooks (thinking the activity PACs were all that were needed in that subject).  I'd also not got any of the reading books for literature.  We all made a trip to the local library to renew their cards and find that none of the requested books were in stock and only three out of the twelve could be ordered from other libraries in Wales.  

I came home to order six others from Amazon!  Total cost so far is over £400, but we have enough books to last at least eight weeks in all six subjects for all three boys.  We also need to pay £150 for ICCE registration.

We started book work on Tuesday.  I thought I'd break them in gently and let them wake up naturally.  Our 9 year old was down at 7:45am for breakfast and had completed his required work in all six subjects by 12 noon.  Our 11 year old woke at around 10am and didn't finish his book work until around 5pm (he gets distracted quite easily).  Our 14 year old was still in bed when the man from ICCE phoned to interview him!  He started book work around 12 noon and was finished by around 5pm.  (again, there was a lack of concentration at times).  

As I'd promised them a bike ride once the book work was over, it meant going out in the dark and cold at around 6pm (by the time the lights were found and attached) to keep everybody happy.The next day was better as all three boys were downstairs and working by 8:30am.  I had to force them to eat breakfast!  They worked through until 2pm, with a few short breaks in between, in order to visit some other local home schooling families who meet at the local swimming baths every Wednesday afternoon.  Our 14 year old went on to do a session in the gym with a friend.  The other two ended up playing in the indoor play area too. 

Thursday, we had to be out before 1pm to meet other home schooling families at RAPA, a local outdoor adventure play area.  Our 9 year old had already finished his book work by 12 noon, but the other two didn't manage to finish their goals for the day.  They planned to finish off that evening, but didn't quite manage to.  We had a day off on Friday to attend a dear friend's funeral, so the book work for the week was completed on Saturday.The boys all agree that they've done more work this week than they ever have at school.  By looking through some of their school books, I definitely agree.  My thoughts at the end of a very busy week are that we need to reduce their daily goals. 

ACE recommends 3-5 workbook pages per subject per day.  The boys started off with the maximum, but we've decided to reduce it to the minimum for the older two whilst we all settle into our new routine.  Obviously our 9 year old is happy to get on with the maximum amount and still finish on time, but I don't want the other two burning out, resenting me and hating home schooling!  

Boys' thoughts about home schooling at the end of week 1:
9 year old: "I liked it"
11 year old: "It's OK"
14 year old: "Too much work"
Links to useful websites: www.aceministries.comwww.teach-at-home.org

Friday, 17 November 2017

Who Is TYPE0?

Who is Type0?

If you follow/are friends with me on any of my social media, you will see that I have been ranting and raving over this so called 'Type0' guy. But who is he?



Nathaniel Leacock a.k.a 'Type0' is an upcoming music artist in the UK, focusing on hiphop, pop and grime music. Growing up in London, Type0 now lives in the city of Manchester where he is signed to a label called CoolShade Records owned by Lennie Richards.

Type0 has just recently finished touring with the UK Hip Hop Legend 'Roots Manuva' on his UK tour, performing in the cities of Leeds, London, Glasgow and Manchester.

Type0 was alongside other supporting acts such as 'Chali 2na' from 'Jurassic 5', 'Oscar #worldpeace' and 'Krafty Kuts'. Together, they created a storm of an opening ready for the main act of Mr Manuva himself.




Whilst touring the UK, Type0 released his FIRST single with CoolShade records called 'One Thing'.

'One Thing' is a mixture of rap and singing and is definitely something you want to be hearing right now.

You can find it linked below, with a music video VERY soon! GO GO GO!!

Apple Music: https://goo.gl/XD36PH

More on Type0 to come real soon...




Monday, 16 October 2017

On A Sandy Path

God is mysterious. God works in ways that we cannot ever understand or imagine. He may reveal himself to us in the most normal way... But also the most 'magical' and absurd.

That is how my first revelation was. It was absurd. It got me thinking. It made me cry.

One night a few weeks before I got baptised, I was laying in bed thinking about if I was making the right choice or not. Whether getting baptised was really for me, or whether it was just a lovely thought that I had been thinking about for months on end. I couldn't make up my mind, so I decided to put my trust in God and ask him for guidance. After all, that is what He is there for isn't it?

So right before I went to sleep I spoke to God and word for word said, "God, I don't know if you can hear me or are taking any notice in what I am saying to you right now, but I need you to show yourself to me. I need you to show me that you are right here and that the choice of being baptised is the right one for me." Shortly after saying this I fell to sleep.

What happened next some may say is a coincidence. Some may say that it was indeed all just a dream, but it was VERY real. Things were said and revealed to me that there just is not an explanation for. 

I dreamt that I was stood on a sandy desert path. It sort of looked like something from the Aborigine times, but it also looked like a park in Manchester. It was really bizarre. All of a sudden, Jesus was sat crossed legged in front of me. He had is hand stretched out and He said to me "Take my hand Jess". I replied with, "I can't Jesus, I am not worthy enough of your grasp." Jesus literally laughed in my face, stood up and said, "Anyone is worthy, as long as they believe." So, I took Jesus' hand. 

When I woke up my arm was outstretched into the air, and I didn't really understand what was going on. I don't have dreams usually. I thought that I had either been sleep walking, or sleep talking or something. To be honest I was quite scared and I didn't want to go back to sleep, but this rush of tiredness came over me and once again, I was in a deep slumber.

I was back on the same sandy path. I was right back where I was when I had fallen to sleep the first time, except I was walking hand in hand with Jesus. On the other side of Jesus was a jet black shadow but in the figure of a man. All three of us were walking along this sandy path in silence, but it was comforting. I was at peace. Jesus then turned to me and said, "I have to let go of your hand now because someone else needs me, but carry on walking right beside me." So I carried on walking with Jesus and this shadow for ages and ages. It came to a point where we all just stopped on this sandy path and again, Jesus turned to me and exclaimed "you have to go now Jess. I am with you and I always will be." I felt heartbroken because I didn't want this feeling of peace and love to end, but I turned around and began walking the other way down the sandy path. I had no idea where I was going, but I headed the other way. All of a sudden, this incredibly loud booming voice shouted to me, "Tell Solomon I have heard his prayers, I am with him and I have got him." When I turned to look back, my partner's brother was staring right back at me and he was holding hands with Jesus. 

When I woke up it was the next morning, and I knew that I had to pass this message on to someone. I woke up my partner and I explained what had happened, and I also messaged his mum to say what had happened. I was in disbelief. I thought it was all a dream and I needed answers. Jesus had LITERALLY REVEALED himself to me, and yet I was still doubting it all. So Janet (my partner's mum) asked Solomon when he got home if he had been praying for anything recently. Solomon explained to Janet that he had been praying to Jesus about how to be a better Christian because he didn't feel as though he was on the right path. Little did he know he really was. He was on the path with Jesus, I had seen Jesus take him and walk with him. I had witnessed Jesus take Solomon on the right path where he needed to be. Jesus answered Solomon's prayers through me, and I was absolutely honoured. 

This made me realise that I needed to get baptised. I woke up feeling the same peace and love that I had felt on that sandy path. Not only do I never dream, but people rarely fall back in to the same dream twice. I honestly believe that this wasn't a dream. This was a revelation that I had asked for and got.

Obviously people are going to be like "it was only a dream", but you didn't feel what I felt. You didn't see what I had seen. I asked God for proof that He was there, and to see whether the decisions I was about to make were the right ones, and yes our Lord guided me. 

This was my first revelation of Jesus. People laughed in my face when I told them, and they told me to stop being so stupid. I knew that I wasn't the stupid one though- they were for being so ignorant. I felt blessed to be touched by Jesus. People will question Him revealing Himself through dreams, and question why He didn't do it when I was blatantly awake. But God is mysterious remember? And I love it. 

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Goodbye Old Friend

Goodbye old friend,
I've turned my back,
You said you were helping,
But you kept me off track.

Goodbye old friend,
You caused me pain, 
You said I deserved to lose what I lost,
But you didn't tell me what I would gain.

Goodbye old friend,
You told me to cut,
You said that the blood helped ease the feeling,
But those wounds you helped me shut.

Goodbye old friend,
You were very wrong,
Those gloomy chimes inside of me,
Turned in to such a beautiful song.

Goodbye old friend,
I have found my peace,
I've closed that lid,
And your existence will cease.

Goodbye old friend,
I have started a new,
And by saying goodbye,
I wholeheartedly grew.

- Jessica McKenzie -

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Being Christian & Having Ill Mental Health

(This is quite a long post... I do apologise! I promise, every word is worth reading though.)

I am a Christian and I suffer from ill mental health. Shoot at me the comments and remarks like "Well if God was all-loving then He wouldn't let you suffer" blah blah blah. I've heard it all before. 

I used to think that was the case... Until I opened my mind, ears and eyes. I have listened, read and sought for myself to try and unwrap the common stigma that holds over Christians who suffer from ill mental health. Some may say I have demons living inside of me, others may say I make scenarios up in my head for a pity vote. Neither of those are true. I am just a Christian lady with a broken brain.  There is nothing wrong with that. Yes I believe in demons. But trust me, if there was a demon living inside of you, you would know. 

I attended a 'Wholeness' conference today through a church in Manchester that focuses on inner, spiritual and mental healing and believe you me, it has completely changed my whole perception of what ill mental health really is.

Church doesn't really like to talk about ill mental health. When it comes to healing through the power of prayer and Jesus Christ, I feel as though those who have physical pain that needs healing will always be dealt with first. It is because it can be seen. But those of us that are in chronic pain from the inside do not really get the same amount of 'attention'. There is a stigma and for some reason, people are really quite scared to talk about it. 

Except today, I had the pleasure of listening to another Christian lady called Katharine Welby Roberts (click her name to access where you can buy her book!) This lady explained how she has been suffering with ill mental health for 15 years and is a Christian. She opened my eyes to how we should deal with ill mental health as a church, as a part of a church family and with Jesus. Something which I never thought could really be possible. I thought that if you suffered from ill mental health, then this was because you were too apart from God, or you were not taking your faith and walk with Christ seriously. How wrong was I!! My brain is just broken- nothing at all to do with my faith. All that is faith related is the fact that I have a different brain to others, and that I have the power to use my faith to encourage inner healing. Something so beautiful and deserving. 

For us Christians, Jesus lives within us. He is our God, our Saviour, our Father our everything. He has the power to guide us, teach us, HEAL us and comfort us. Something which every single individual in my opinion, needs. Healing is restoring, it is restoring the whole individual and free them from on outer and inner pain that they may be experiencing and feeling. I feel inner pain every single day, and trust me when I say that Jesus can really comfort me in my times of need because there have been many untold stories of mine where Jesus has quite literally, saved my life. Jesus doesn't need to prove all of the miraculous things that He has done, because He is still doing them today! Ignore the false claim that God creates suffering in order for Him to comfort us. The enemy unfortunately does exist and he unfortunately creates such suffering to turn us away from a loving God. It's what typical enemies do isn't it? Mislead people and turn them away from what is good?

People who have physical pains take medication every day to sustain what they're feeling and dealing with. People with mental pains also take medication every day to sustain what they're feeling and dealing with. They're both illnesses, so there should be no barriers. It is OK to take medication and have a broken brain. I do take medication, I do have a broken brain and I do believe in God. Cool right? I always say to people, "never underestimate the power of prayer". Bit hypocritical from a recently new Christian huh? BUT, really never underestimate. Again, I have many untold stories of mine where I have prayed and God has truly answered me. It isn't a magic trick or like a film, it's mysterious. Us and God are not on the same timing remember, so it could take a while for your prayers to be answered. However, God is always listening and He always wants to chat with us. Not only will it deepen your relationship with God, but it will also give Him the chance to perform some really cool stuff in your life. Just you watch. 

I cannot stress enough that there is NO magic wand. It is not magic. Again, we are not on God's timing. It may take countless attempts of prayer, and when you finally have that breakthrough there is also a walkthrough afterwards. I have seen deserving people have everything taken away from them, and I have seen people who literally deserve nothing have everything given to them. God is confusing, but God is never wrong. There are reasonings for His every move and actions, and we have to trust Him because He knows our hearts and futures. Those of us with ill mental health just want that release from the inner pain we feel, because it affects our daily lives. Not just what we think, but it also affects what we do with our lives. I used to expect instant healing when I received it, but when I never got it I was disappointed. I thought that God wasn't listening to me because I had illness in my head that I had to live with. I felt guilty, and I thought that God didn't care about me as much as He cared about everyone else around me at church. But then I realised, that isn't the God I know and love. Once again, I put my trust in Him. 

And He began to heal. He has healed me physically and I also believe that He is working with me to heal me mentally. This doesn't mean that God is in the process of wiping my ill mental health like wiping a hard drive, but instead I feel and know that He is helping me to cope with it. He is guiding me every day, helping me make choices, comforting me when I feel like a cannot breathe and instilling such courage in me to live my life through Him. 

So if you are Christian and suffer from ill mental health, or even if you are not Christian it is OK and you have a purpose. 

For the Christian sufferers, please don't be afraid to reach out to your church leaders and your church family. Don't be afraid to instil your trust in God, but also don't be afraid to seek professional help too. Don't be afraid to take medication if you need to. God will be with you every step of the way. Ask Him to walk with you and ask Him to present. Don't be afraid to break the stigma on ill mental health. 

For the Non-Christian sufferers, you are also not alone. I have not been Christian all of my life. I have suffered from ill mental health a lot longer than I have lived my life through Jesus, so I know it from both ends of the spectrum. Seek help. Talk to people and tell them how you're feeling and what you're thinking, because they love you and they want the best for you. They want to help you heal and guide you through the process. I mean, if you want to try seeking God too that would be fab. No pressure or anything.

"How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with Power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him."
Acts 10:38

Disclaimer: Keep in mind, I used to be one of the biggest sceptics about all of this, but God works wonders in our hearts. I have faith. 



Thursday, 7 September 2017

THE TRUTH ABOUT WORKING WITH CHILDREN


Hey guys,

Here I am, back again with a blog post all about working with children. I know there are many stories and myths floating around about what it is like working with children... But is that what it is really like?

Third year of uni, I was so broke and I knew I needed a regular income. I was not in uni a lot, so I decided to get a full time job. Now this was my third year of uni, so I had deadlines and a dissertation to write whilst juggling a full-time job. Yes it was very hard, but I was desperate and I needed a resolution. 

There I was late one night searching through Indeed.com looking for a job that I could use to fit around my studies. Nothing. Nada. I could not find anything for the life of me, so I decided to let out a silent prayer to God. I refreshed the page and a 'sponsored' job popped up on the top of the page. This job was looking for a creche assistant in an English learning school in the city centre with an immediate start. I thought to myself, "I have the qualifications so why not?" So I applied right away. Within 4 days, I was interviewed and given the job. 

Now this were to be completely different to the work experience that I previously carried out. The majority of the students in the building where I work are Muslim mothers and fathers who have come over from Saudi Arabia to learn the English language, so we therefore work in the creche inside of the building to care for their children. The language barrier between ourselves and the children is quite high, and I was scared that I wouldn't be able to create a bond with the children. What I found out though, is that because of the language barrier the bond between the children and yourself is stronger because they have to give you all of their trust. Over time, the children to begin to understand English and they pick up new words too which is even more rewarding. 

So what is it really like working with children?

Getting to know the children

First thing's first, you have to get to know the children and this is not an overnight job. It can take weeks to eventually know the children on a personal level- know their comforts and discomforts, know when they're tired, how they like their bottles being made etc. Every little detail to their personality is important. That important that we have to ensure we observe and note down their improvements and what they like/what they don't like. 

A child may only like to sit in his pram for the entire time that they are in the creche. Even though this is annoying and frustrating on your behalf, you have to respect that the child thinks of you as a stranger so you have to earn their trust. Eventually, they will be running around the rooms and interacting with the other children. I think the creche that I work in can hold up to 28 children ranging from 0months to 5years. That is a lot of children. Each child is unique and has different needs and preferences that all have to be acknowledged.

Language Barriers

Now not all establishments that care for children will have language barriers, but because I work within an English learning school and Manchester is a large city within the UK, there are language barriers in place. 

Believe me when I say this was daunting when I first began at work. I did not understand a word of what was being said to me, I felt like I couldn't communicate with the parents properly and I felt as though I was not going to get anywhere with the children. It is hard work. You feel like you have failed when a child is sobbing uncontrollably for their mother, they are crying to you in Arabic and you cannot understand what they are saying at all. All that can leave your mouth is "Mama soon". Eventually, I began to pick up words and phrases from the Arabic language without even thinking about it. The parents are great at helping you too. They will provide you with useful words and phrases that can be used with the children to make it easier for both parties, and it also gives us creche assistants the opportunity to get closer to the parents and the children and take another new challenge on. Something that I love.

Although the language barrier may seem like an issue to some people, it has encouraged me to self-teach myself Arabic. This is through online teaching, but also working where I work and being given that opportunity to converse with the parents. 

The illnesses and the sicknesses

It is true what they say about getting ill when you work with children. If one child has something, not only will the other children quickly pick it up but so do the creche assistants. This can range from a common cold, to a sickness bug to head lice. It is inevitable what you are going to encounter and have to deal with. This can put a lot of people off working with the children, but it honestly isn't all as bad as it is made out to be. It is not that common for a child to get ill and pass it on in the creche. It isn't all of the time that you pick up an illness from a child you were comforting a few weeks back. Everyone gets ill, and unfortunately because children have weaker immune systems than most adults they encounter it first. It's just the way the cookie crumbles. 

The messy bits

You cannot be shy when it comes to the time of changing a nappy, a leaked nappy or cleaning up sick. It has to be done, and you probably will have to do it. I can honestly say, this was the highest factor of working within the care environment that was putting me off. 

On my first day, one of the first things that I had to do was relieve a choking baby and change a heavily leaked nappy. When it comes to the point of actually having to do something, you don't ask yourself questions. You don't consider doing anything you just do it. You see past the messy bits, and realise that the children are helpless and can't do it for themselves so you have to help care for them. This really increases your bond with them. 

I've had heavily leaked nappies, children throwing up all over themselves, I've been urinated on but it doesn't change my perspective of the job. I love it nevertheless.

Attachment 

You will get attached to the children, it is inevitable. There's always that one cheeky toddler that catches your eye, the adorable 5 month old baby with the biggest smile or the little girl with the most gorgeous curly hair. But the children choose you too. You will always have at least one child acting as your shadow throughout the day; demanding your attention by throwing countless amounts of Duplo and train track pieces at your head... But it's all part of the job! Fab!

When people say, "don't ya cry when the kid leaves? Couldn't do that job me." Yeah I have cried. I can remember when it was one of the children's last days in the creche, and they were flying back to Saudi Arabia the next morning meaning I knew I would never see them again. I had spent every day for 8 weeks with this little boy, caring for him and being a part of his life. It absolutely broke my heart and I sobbed. It didn't put me off my job though. I meet incredible children all of the time, and when it is time for them to leave I feel proud and privileged to have been there for them at the beginning of their lives. It makes ya feel goooood.

So, if you're considering working with children or you have the qualifications but don't know if it is the path you want to take... I honestly advise to go for it. It isn't something that I pictured within my career path, but I am glad that I chose something different and I am glad that I chose something which has a positive impact on children's lives.