“Don’t call it a mistake – call it an education…”

…quipped Thomas Edison to his colleagues. The man who invented the light bulb is estimated to have had approximately 2000 experiments that failed, before he saw the light. Ted Engstrom* encapsulates this philosophy in a wonderful way as relating to God’s grace – “God does not expect perfection; He expects obedience. And through obedience He can turn failures into triumphs”. Over the last year, we have tried to adopt that same attitude in our home – that we are not making mistakes, but having an education and looking for how God is going to use our weaknesses as opportunities for growth.


Picture in public domain from Pixabay

Nowhere has this theory been so well tested as my experience of learning to ride a unicycle! Mr T got the unicycle bug just over a year ago, shortly after learning to juggle. In fact, he asked for one as a Christmas present, but I didn’t really think he was serious, until one day this Spring he bought himself a unicycle off Ebay and began to learn. I really couldn’t see the appeal – it principally appeared to be an education of falling off and sustaining various bruises, although thanks to protective pads and helmet, no broken bones. However, Mr T persevered and soon began to be riding with some panache, albeit still using the wall for balance and the falls were fairly infrequent. He was actually doing bunny hops too (now he can ride a short distance without holding on to anything.) Not only this, but with only unicycling he was getting very toned and strong. Unicycles have no freewheel, so you have to pedal constantly and you quickly build up core muscle to balance and strength in your legs and arms for control and riding. Looking for a unicycle for Miss G, I found one my size on Ebay and bought it (what craziness was going through my mind???) It arrived just over 2 weeks ago and I began to learn how to fall off.

The first day, I literally fell on my butt twice. Another reasonably frequent injury was a thwack on the shins or back of the leg from one of the pedals. I was pretty bruised, however, I was totally hooked. There is something about the unicycle – it is a lot of fun. I know, you are not going to believe me, but it is, even when you are falling off… a lot.

By the end of the first week, through all my falls I had learnt the feeling of not being balanced and was able to correct myself or step off, sans injury. By the end of the second week I was able to do very short distances and step off, without falling. In the last couple of days I have been actually unicycling along the wall, doing pretty well and the injuries and falls are pretty infrequent. My body is already stronger and I can see a difference in looser clothes and just feeling better – my posture is also greatly improved, as you have to be sitting up straight, or yes, you’ve guessed it – you fall off!

You don’t need to learn to ride a unicycle to benefit from Edison’s philosophy and God’s grace (although, can I say, it is awesome fun). But I think you can learn the same lessons in life. After I had fallen off and hurt myself – my body was scared of being hurt again – though my crazy mind said, keep going! I think it can be the same every time we experience a fail – there can be fear that it is going to go wrong again – I think generally we just fear to fail, or look silly. However, it is so important to get up and try again otherwise we will never achieve anything. Imagine if Edison had given up after the 100th try, or the 1000th try of inventing the light bulb. Maybe we would still be literally in the dark in the evenings.

It is only in embracing our failures and using them to grow – even if it is just saying, “I have learnt another way NOT to do it,” – that we will move forward.

With God on our side we are capable of far more than we could ever imagine. The Bible is filled with people who failed, but who God used anyway and who became people of faith and triumph who still inspire us today. So when you blow it today, think – “this is not a mistake, but my education!”



Life is a leaf of paper white

Whereon each one of us may write

His word or two,

And then comes night.



Greatly begin, though thou have time

But for a line,

Be that sublime

Not failure, but low aim, is crime.

James Russell Lowell


Be encouraged 🙂

* Ted W. Engstrom quoted from The Pursuit of Excellence – a fantastic book, which I think everyone should read!

P.S. Time wise, I probably spent and still spend around 5/ 10/ 15 minutes twice a day, pretty much every day practising. I was limited by getting tired quickly in the beginning. It has been fairly easy to do, as I have just practised out in the garden while the children have been playing outside. To be honest, the time goes very quickly, as you don’t really notice that you are working out, as you have so much to think about, or perhaps not to think about. There is an odd thing that as soon as I think, “Look at me,  I’m unicycling” I fall off. Apparently this is a common thing. So, I try not to think about being able to unicycle, but concentrate on looking forward, holding my body upright, working out how balanced my body is, making sure no small child is running across the path etc. and save congratulating myself when I step off at the end. Maybe this phenomenon is an illustration of pride comes before a fall?!


The Isaiah Principle aka how I learnt an unhurried way to achieving goals in a hurried world…

I first used the Isaiah Principle to lose weight – 8 years ago. Back then I managed to lose 3 stone, in a year, by applying this simple principle that we find in the Bible in Isaiah. I am sure that you will have read the verse as applied to learning God’s laws and word, but I can testify that it really can apply to all kinds of other things we want to learn and achieve in life.

For it is precept upon precept
Precept upon precept,
Line upon line,
Line upon line,
Here a little, there a little. – Isaiah 28:10

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With losing weight it was straightforward. I began with one small change – swapping water instead of sugary squash and I weighed myself once a week. If I was still losing weight, I kept on as I was, and if I had stopped losing weight, I made another small change. Because I only made one small change at a time, I hardly noticed it and it just became part of my life. I found then, and now, that people tend to scoff at the idea of small changes and beginnings. Actually, God’s word even addresses this in Zechariah 4:10, when the Israelites began rebuilding the Temple – “Do not despise these small beginnings for the eyes of the Lord delight to see the work begin” (the Living Bible).

Just like the Israelites back in Zechariah’s day, we can be tempted to dwell on the mountain we have to climb and not believe we could ever reach the top, but in the same way those Israelites began the humble, slow process of rebuilding the temple, I have found if I can just find a way to begin and keep going, I will get there in the end.

Over a year ago, I found myself standing at the foot of a rather large metaphorical mountain. I am really blessed by the ministry of Sally Clarkson and at that time, after reading her book Own Your Life, I was convicted by the Holy Spirit of two things. One was that my time with God was very inconsistent, even though I agree with Emilie Barnes that “A regular quiet time with God is as important and necessary as sleep or exercise or food.” And Secondly, I spent very little time nourishing my own soul and spirit in any other ways. It really rang true to me when Sally stated that you can only pour out, what you pour in.

I loved the vision Sally had given me for being “the kind of resource that when my husband and children come to me they find truth, beauty, goodness and love” and I prayed, and God brought back to my mind that way I had lost weight all those years ago and reminded me of our own memorising programme. My husband and I are keen for our children to be great thinkers and with this in mind, we want for them to memorise scriptures, poetry, sayings and latin prayers etc. The way we have approached this, very much follows the Isaiah Principle. I keep a basket on the Dining Table, with a Bible in it, some prayer resources and index cards with things we want to memorise written on them. Most days, after lunch, we read and talk about some scripture and pray and then we read through one of the items we are memorising. We make it fun too by making up little actions to go along. We also have a great resource by the Worship Seeds, which puts many of the scriptures to music, so we sometimes sing them. We truly only spend a couple of minutes on this each day, yet have amassed quite a large amount of material we have memorised.


Could I use this same principle for quiet times? Like our Bible basket, I collected together everything I wanted for my quiet time (total misnomer, but I hope that if I keep calling it the ‘quiet time’ my children will get the hint and be quiet!). I also found myself an accountability programme – #coffeewiththeking (where I posted a picture to Instagram each day to record doing my quiet time). Then every day, I would look for an opportunity, usually while my baby napped, and I would have an activity ready for the other children to do and then immediately do my quiet time for at least 5 minutes. I noticed that as I sought to prioritise that time with God over everything else, God honoured my efforts. I began to notice the difference on those odd days where I didn’t make time, how much more frazzled I was and so, even on the busiest days, I make sure as a minimum I read a verse and if I can, copy it out to look at through the rest of the day. Also, my children and husband noticed the difference in me. Looking back over the past year, I can see how I have changed, although like everyone I have a long way to go and I love Sally’s reminder that we are working towards ideals, but living in reality!

As I found this worked, I decided to follow the same principle for getting nourishment for my soul and spirit. At the time, my baby didn’t sleep until late in the evenings, so I did not have any time to myself then. So, first I got myself ready to start projects. I put everything I needed for each project in its own bag and placed the bags in a safe place where I could reach them quickly (but little ones could not). I found that crochet works particularly well for me, as long as I choose a simple pattern that I can pick up and put down. The children might be out in the garden playing and I would grab my project or pick up a book to read) and spend what time I could get. Often this was literally just 5 minutes. Maybe I only got to sew in 2 ends on my crochet project, or begin a sketch or read a page. Yes, it was frustratingly slow, but I was still making progress! Sometimes, I got much longer before I was needed, or I needed to go and complete a chore.


I also noticed a side benefit to my children seeing what I enjoy and am passionate about (in addition to them, daddy and Jesus.) Both my eldest girls have also learned to knit and crochet and my younger daughter to sew and there is something very special about all of us crafting together. I notice when I have been painting in my art journal, my children will then go and get their art things out and create. I also know that when my children see me reading for enjoyment, this encourages them to read too. It blesses me to know that I inspire them.

I have also continued to use the Isaiah principle to achieve all sorts of other goals. Recently we bought my middle daughter the set of Little House on the Prairie books for Christmas and I was desperate to read them with her, but I just couldn’t see when to do it. So, I decided I would spend 5 minutes reading to her each night before I tucked her in – I knew I could manage 5 minutes. Sometimes, I might only manage to read 1 page, but we are still making progress. I noticed tonight that we are nearly at the end of the book and it certainly hasn’t spoiled our enjoyment of the book – if anything it has increased it, as we often end on a cliff hanger, mid-chapter!

We live in a very hurried world, where many people have become addicted to the thrill of instant gratification and this slow and steady approach is certainly the antithesis of our hurried modern world. However, I have found it a path that has enabled me to feed my soul and spirit and learn to appreciate enjoying the beauty of the process as much as the end destination. I am sure it might look very different for you in your life, but I hope that maybe my ideas might inspire you to go for one of your goals using the Isaiah Principle.

Be Encouraged 🙂


P.S. Fun fact – it was actually a non-Christian who introduced me to the concept of small changes to lose weight – Nick Crutch – personal trainer and exercise coach in Bicester (specialising in post-natal exercise too) Tel: O1869 253O3O

#coffeewiththeking –for more information on this see here.

Sally Clarkson – both my Sally Clarkson quotes come from her podcasts – At Home With Sally on Itunes podcasts, or via her blog at www.sallyclarkson.com

This article is also in the current issue of the Home Time Magazine, the magazine of CHESS – The UK Christian Home Educators Support Service. I am a member and I thoroughly recommend it 🙂

Man Blanket 2 and Little Boy Blue Blanket Ta dahs – AKA V-Stitch love

Honestly, I’m re-blogging this to see how it works, lol! But if you are interested in crochet and crafts, you might enjoy this post anyway…

Inspiring Crochet

I have to confess, in the past, the standard V-stitch had left me a bit uninspired, however, a little while ago, I spotted that the lovely Anita from My Craft Life had made a V-stitch blanket that looked truly beautiful, and not like the others I had seen. When I realised Anita had also made a handy, detailed photo tutorial on her version of the V-Stitch blanket and even how to do the border, I couldn’t wait to get started.


The Little Boy Blue Blanket was just a quick little make. I had noticed some of Mini Mr T’s baby blankets were getting a bit small and I had a large number of blue scraps left over the Sea Blanket, that were just ripe for using up on a small project and actually this V-stitch blanket is awesome for using up scraps. I used Stylecraft special DK with a…

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Choosing a Journling Bible in the UK

A friend asked recently about where to get a journaling Bible, and so I thought it would be a good opportunity to jot down some of my thoughts for a blog post at the same time and put up the links for anyone else who might like to get a Journaling Bible in the UK. [NB All the picture links are affiliate Amazon links, because it means I can show a picture, whilst still respecting copyright. I have listed all my favourite on-line retailers at the end.]

The Journaling Bible I use is the NIV Mint Polka-dot Bible (NB at the time of writing, this is currently being reprinted and is back out in February 2016). It is beautiful and I love it. It is about the size of an A5 notebook and 3.5 cm thick. The paper is quite thick, although you do have to be gentle with it. The margins are just less than 5 cm (4.9 cm precisely) from text to edge and they are lightly lined, with narrow lines (just less than 1/2 cm space between lines). I like the lines as I find it helps with getting  my lettering straight and because they are light, they are not noticeable on pictures I draw.

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What I do not like about my Journaling Bible is the new NIV text. For instance, it takes gender neutrality so far that it renders some passages nonsensical and some of my favourite passages I just don’t even recognise! However, I only use my journaling Bible for drawing and writing in, so it doesn’t bother me too much. I tend to read the passage in my every day Bible and then I journal in the NIV Bible. [Currently my every day Bible is an ESV Literary Study Bible and as an aside, this is the best Bible I have ever owned, but that is for another blog post…]

With hindsight, if I was buying a journaling Bible now, I guess I could choose one of the ESV ones, as they have a huge choice of covers and styles. Also, if you prefer another translation, you can get most Bible translations in the form of a Bible suitable for journaling in. For instance, The Note Takers Bibles, have a large margin and are available in many translations. However, in my meditation process, I usually use a parallel Bible we have at home, or the brilliant parallel Bible feature available on Bible Gateway, to read the different translations of the passage I am meditating on. I journal the text from the verse that reminds me most of how the Holy Spirit is illuminating the meaning for me and how God is speaking to me. So, for me, it still works well to use a translation for Bible journaling that is different to my preferred one.

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This text actually comes from the Living Bible Translation


I would recommend doing some research by asking Mr Google to find reviews on the Bibles you are interested in. Often you can find someone who has blogged about the Bible you are looking at, so you can see more of the inside and hear about how it works for journaling. Also, you can get 2 column journaling Bibles, like my NIV Bible, but there are also some single column journaling Bibles, which give a different space at the side of the text and a whole different feel to the journaling you do. (I am really enjoying the single column of my Literary study Bible, but it is a very different reading experience to the normal double columns.) If you go to Christianbook.com, whilst you may not want to order the Bible from them, as they are in the US, they have a brilliant filter function on Bibles by type and style and cover etc. and also many of the Bibles feature videos or pictures from inside , which is very useful.

Here are the on-line Retailers, that I would personally recommend and who sell journaling Bibles at the time of writing (NB these are just my personal recommendations based on my own experiences):

ICM Books Direct: The home of Christian Books… I think all the books ICM sell are discounted, but in any case, it is the best place to start to find discounted Journaling Bibles and books of all kinds.

Wordery – do a brilliant selection and are very reasonably priced.

Eden – again do a large selection of Journaling Bibles, although they are not always the cheapest.

Amazon does a lot of the journaling Bibles – again, they are not always the cheapest.

And then, once you have chosen your Bible, check out this great blog post by Deborah Gregg on getting started with your Bible and check out Faith Treasury Etsy Shop for some awesome art journaling kits to get you started with art supplies.

Enjoy 🙂

Encouragement is the oxygen of the soul…

“Encouragement is the oxygen of the soul” Dr John Maxwell.

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It can be easy to focus on the negatives and forget all the blessings that God gives us. I am currently enjoying Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts  .


I think at this time of year, more than any other, we can suffer from discouragement. As I mentioned in my previous post on performance vs peace, it is a time when we can desperately want things to be perfect, yet despite our best laid plans, it can all be somewhat of a flop. That is why I needed to remind myself of how to be an encourager this week, so I can encourage others, but also, so I can encourage myself!

Barnabas (son of encouragement) is such an amazing example of an encourager. Check out Acts 11:19-26, where you will find that Barnabas was full of faith, full of the Holy Spirit and full of fruit, which enabled him to be such a great encourager.

And isn’t this what our families and churches need? They should be places of encouragement! It is so easy to find things to criticise in church and at home – really anywhere. We can make a difference by looking for opportunities to encourage each other and making our homes and churches places of encouragement.

So to be like Barnabas:

When we are full of faith – we can be looking for God at work in all circumstances. We can ask, what is God doing, what might He do?

When we are full of the Holy Spirit – we can be led by the one who is called the encourager and helper. He is slowly changing us and improving our character, leading us to display more fruit in our lives. He is building us up, so we can build others up.

When we are full of fruit, we can be like Barnabas, who was full of fruit and then pulled the best out in others to make them fruitful for God too. God is saying, “I can achieve much through you”.

John Stott said that discouragement is the greatest enemy of the church, and I think it is one of the greatest enemies of the home too. So, let us encourage one another today – encourage our children and our husbands, and our brothers and sisters in Christ, and create a fertile soil for growth and fruit. Discover what God wants to achieve through you today, as we encourage one another.


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A little poem I wrote, reflecting on God’s love – He gives a waterfall, when all we need is a thimble, so that we can overflow His love into other’s lives and encourage them and have freedom to live abundant lives, whatever our circumstances are. Love Big – says it all!

Merry Christmas to you all

Love Michaela 🙂

(My Blog post is written using the notes I took from Geoff Colmers Sermon – “Encourage one another” TVBF Sermon 19 January 2014 )

Prayer: The World’s Greatest Wireless Connection

“Prayer: The worlds greatest Wireless connection” was a T-shirt quote I saw recently, which I just love. It reminds me of the Bible’s exhortation to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Now I love to pray, but  until recently I felt like a dismal failure at praying all day. I had been brought up to see prayer a bit like that chorus –“Prayer is like a telephone, for us to talk to Jesus”. Really, a telephone is not a great picture for me regarding prayer. I find using the telephone is highly stressful with little people around (or even big ones) and usually while I am on the phone some kind of minor accident or altercation or a burning desire to ask permission for X, results in it being nigh on impossible for me to hear the other person, let alone believe that they might hear me.

At the beginning of the summer a kind friend sent me a book by Evelyn Christenson called What Happens When Women Pray which revolutionised my prayer life. I’ve already shared that I love to pray, so I didn’t expect to find much to learn when it came to prayer, but I could not have been more wrong! If you have ever found prayer difficult, boring or dull or even if you think you are pretty good at it, you really need to read this book (that was just my roundabout way of saying everyone needs to read this book). The formula Evelyn gives for small group prayer and prayer meetings would really change the course of the church in the modern world, if people would use it, because instead of prayer meetings being the least attended church events, I think they would be the most attended.

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Prayer can and should be a joyful experience! (Yes, even prayer meetings…)


However, for today, I wanted to share about personal prayer. I love pictures and illustrations and I am eternally grateful for the picture Evelyn gave me to replace that old telephone analogy.

“Pray without Ceasing” 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Did you ever sit in a room before a glowing fire with someone you love? Did you talk every minute? Or did you feel compelled every now and again to clear your throat and say, “Now dear, I think I’ll say something to you.” Then with a bright introduction, did you proceed with a formal speech? Of course not. When you’re with a person you love, there need not be a bit of conversation in order for you to experience real communication. If you feel like saying something, you do; if not, you don’t, but the line of communication is always open.

Praying without ceasing is like that. How? It’s simply turning the dial of our communication system with God to on, making possible a two-way conversation with Him at any time. When that communication line is open, we can say whatever we want to Him, and He in turn can say anything He wishes to us. Yes, it’s possible to “pray without ceasing” 24 hours a day.

Evelyn Christenson What Happens When Women Pray (Victor books 1980) Page 89-90 *Used with permission from Evelyn Christenson Ministries

This was just so helpful a picture for me. I felt the pressure was off and I didn’t feel a failure anymore – this was kind of what I already did, but now I could be more intentional about it.

I am not a morning person, and I do not do my devotional time first thing (incidentally, Evelyn mentions the same thing), but what I now try and do every morning, is to say, “Hi Lord, good morning,” to remind myself of that wireless connection. I also try and finish my day with a “Good night, Lord” and I always try and think on a Bible verse before I go to sleep, which I find really helps me drop off to sleep peacefully.


Little moments of beauty are an opportunity to stop and say – “Thank you”



So, my prayer life now tends to consist of trying to live wirelessly and working in partnership with God, in the trenches, rather than seeing God as being off in some remote location that requires dial-up. When I need to I can say “Help”, “sorry”, “thank you”, “praise Your name” or I can just ‘be’ without saying anything.

The tremendous difference it has made is in my listening. I am not waiting for a phone call from God as though it is some big special occasion, but I am expecting for Him to speak, when I need to hear something, because He is right with me. I spend a lot more of my prayer time in my quiet time listening to what God has to say to me, rather than it being about me sharing a long list of intercession. And sometimes listening is meditating on a verse. Sometimes it is really thinking and pondering on a truth that I have discovered in my Bible reading. Sometimes for me, it is God whispering into my heart (which I would always test against His word). Sometimes it is recognising God speaking to me through a friend, or a child, encouraging me. For instance, one day in my quiet time I was struggling with feeling loveable and that God really had made me awesome (aka Psalm 139:14). I was interrupted by Miss G, giving me a picture she had coloured in, on which she had written, “Mum, I just wanted to say that you are awesome.”

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Bible Journaling is an awesome way to pray creatively and be quiet in your heart and listen. It’s not about producing a masterpiece, it can just be doodling fun and can be very helpful if you struggle with meditating.


So, I can do that for you right now too – “You are awesome!” You are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God and He longs to spend time with you and to be always connected so that He can provide the power source for your life. If you have never read Evelyn Christenson’s book, I really recommend you go and buy it or borrow it and read it! Your prayer life will never be the same again. And I really want to encourage you to listen for God’s voice. We are all unique and different, so the way you hear from God may well be different from the way I hear from Him. The principle way God speaks is through the Bible, His word, so a great way to be listening to God is to be spending time in the Word each day. That doesn’t have to be a whole lot of time. Let’s keep it real here, I have a busy life and a short quiet time (and it’s not really quiet, lol, although that is for another blog post). Maybe you are in a season where all you have time for is a verse. But just meditating on a verse – writing it out on a card and placing it where you see it or adding a screen saver to your computer or phone wall paper, you are going to be feeding on that all day and God is going to use that to speak to you.

Why would we live any different way, when we can be wirelessly connected to the power source 24/7?! Remember – Prayer: the world’s greatest wireless connection.

Be encouraged 🙂

P.S. You can find out more information about Evelyn and her ministry right here.

Faith and the Spyglass…

God has been speaking to me a lot recently about faith. As one of our advent activities this week, we read a beautiful book by Richard Paul Evans* called The Spyglass. It is a wonderfully told story about faith, and what stood out for me, was the role of imagination in faith, taught in the story. I’m not going to spoil the book for you, but the Spyglass of the title is a device that allows the user to look through it and to actually see with the physical eye, what the future could be like. Eventually the characters in the book must learn to have faith without this device, but it enables them to move on from where they are at the beginning of the book.

One of the most familiar verses about faith in the Bible is Hebrews 11:1 “Faith is being sure of what we hope for, certain of what we do not see.”(NIV) In the Spyglass story, the people needed help to be able to have faith, because they had trouble imagining how life could be any different from the depths their Kingdom had sunk to. They needed to remember that all of life requires faith – not just over the big questions, but the little things too. Atheist, agnostic, Christian, Muslim or Budhist all need faith to believe in the origins of the world, because none of us were there to see it with our own eyes and so far no video footage has surfaced. And all alike, when we plant a seed, we need to have faith to trust that the natural laws will function as we expect and that it will grow and come to fruit. The Spyglass story showed that without some measure of faith, it is not possible to thrive. That is because we need faith and a vision beyond our own physical eyes, since without that the people will perish (Proverbs 29:18).


People of faith are often depicted in our culture as weak, but I believe the truth is that without faith we would achieve nothing and it is those with the most capacity for faith, who actually have the most potential to achieve great things. I wish I could say that I lived a life full of faith all the time, but I still end up with doubts and fears and worries that I have to keep ‘fessing up and giving to God. However, the Spyglass book reminded me again of the importance of having faith in all aspects of my life and of that truth that the more I can grow my faith, the more potential I have to achieve great things for God. It also reminded me that we are in the long term investment category. The seeds we are planting now in our own lives and our children’s lives require faith and vision to see what they might become. The 5-year-old we are struggling to teach self-control to will one day use those very lessons to do great things for God. My little snatches of time each day with God are sowing seeds of character and excellence that will grow, even though it all seems so meagre in the present.


Sisters, do not weary of doing good, for in due time we will reap a harvest of righteousness (Galatians 6:9). Even though we may not have a spyglass to allow our physical eyes to see what the future might be, may we pray that God will give us the vision in our heart and the imagination to grow our faith and allow us to achieve much more than we ever thought possible, in partnership with Him (Ephesians 3:20).

Be Encouraged 🙂

P.S. *According to the Wikpedia Page on Richard Paul Evans, he belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Whilst I would not agree with many/ most of the claims of the Church he belongs to, I still think the Spyglass book has a relevant and interesting perspective on faith.

[Edit December 2015] P.P.S If you are interested in learning more about imagination and faith, there is a great podcast by Clay and Sally Clarkson here.