To venable (verb): To randomly muse upon this and that.

Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Family Bible Reading

When we first walked out together on November 5th 1994 May Lin and myself started reading through the Old Testament (OT). When we married we set up a pattern of reading through the OT  at Family Time in the evening and the New Testament  (NT) before breakfast in the morning. We started that on August 20th 1996. Over that time we have either used the AV or the NKJV. Until today that is when the Venables family engaged in revolution and adopted the ESV for our family readings. We also switched today to having the NT in the evening and OT in the morning. Such a revolution leads me to ponder upon:

  • I certainly don’t say that you everyone has to follow our pattern. However, the benefit of reading through the scriptures is incalculable. As a result you have to cover everything. You can’t miss out or avoid anything that is uncomfortable. Some times you gain more than others. Sometimes we have just read, sometimes I have made a comment, sometimes we have discussed.
  • In continually reading through the scriptures you are relentlessly giving a message to ourselves, to the children and to all who have been with us at different times that this book is important.
  • And it all brings back memories particularly of the boys starting to join in participating in the readings through reading first one verse and then more as they started to read. Also, I remember, that first time we dated in the Buckinghamshire countryside and turned to Genesis 1:1. Good to have memories formed around the reading of scripture.

So if you are not doing family Bible Reading I encourage you into that path. Read and pray together and that will be good for your family.

 

Auntie Kath

My Auntie Kath would have been 111 today. She was a special lady who had an immense impact on my life. She was in many ways the Grandma I never had. Although she would never have liked to be referred to in those terms.

She was my Dad’s elder sister, some fifteen years older than my Dad. She shared our home with us. She had her own kitchen living room and bedroom. We would generally have our “tea” with her on Sunday afternoon. The way she did her onions and eggs are abiding memories.

We would often be going in to see her. Talking with her, annoying her, eating her food, playing with her and so many other things. Oh and she could tell us off. I remember her scolding me when I asked here for some money for doing something; taught me a lesson.

She was a naturally intelligent lady who never had any formal education to speak of. In many ways her life was given in service for the benefit of others. She never married. The love of her life was apparently killed in a motorcycle accident, although we did not know much about that.

We, that is myself and my brothers and sister, spent so may happy times with her. Our bond to her was very strong. I for one, spent so many happy times going around Derbyshire with her; what great days they were. I remember persuading her to drive her Austin Allegro through a ford. Alas it was not such a bright idea as we had to seek to find a garage for the car to be checked over thereafter.

We would talk about so many things; she would often disagree with me. But she always interacted with love and concern even when we got a bit heated.

She was respected in the local community, Siddington in Cheshire, through her work with The Womens’ institute, chapel and church. She was “Auntie Kath” to so many. In fact her memory lives on in the annual bowls event at Siddington Bowling green entitled “Auntie Kath’s Bowling Event”.

She took me for my interview for university. She drove us down and then we had to, unexpectedly, battle back in the snow. She helped me with my dissertation research going around the livestock markets of Cheshire in the summer of 1984.

In a sense she was a great friend. She enriched my life in so many ways. She had wisdom through the “rough stuff” and “not so rough stuff” of life. I miss her. I wrote here about one of her musings.

I wish I could share so much with her now. She would love to know of our children and how they are doing. Alas she was taken from us in 2007 just short of her 99th birthday.

Welcoming People

I am thinking here of welcoming people to our homes and particularly when we have guests over for a meal or some time together. Now there can be no fixed formality about how we welcome people and what we do will depend upon our relationship with them and the context in which they are visiting. However, notwithstanding the flexibility involved I do wnat to offer some thoughts:

Informing your visitors, upon their arrival, that it is good to see them and to have them with you makes them at ease and aware that they are welcome in your home.

As a general rule, whenever guests arrive we must make it clear that they are welcome. To just carry on with what we are doing and give them a nod and a grunt seems to be impolite. As a parent it is good to get your children into the habit of coming from their rooms and activities to welcome people. They may return from whence they came after the welcome. But in doing this they have given some honour to your guests who are visiting. This would be similalry doen when your guests leave.

Mr Hinton, who i referred to here, used to have the unique way of using his handshake to pull you into his house when you visited. This was actually quite endearing and expressive of him welcoming you. He would also move you away from the house through his handshake when you left. I never thought that this was a “glad to get rid of you gesture”, but rather that he was sending you lovingly on your way.

This leads me to how we send people away. When your hosts send get you out of the door and immediately close the front door behind you always leaves me a bit dismayed. No ill-will may be meant by this. However, it does convey the “glad they are gone” impression. Accordingly, when people leave it is good to exchange wholesome words relating your pleasure in having them with you. You express this in a way without lying, of course. Then when you have seen them through the door you wait until they have walked away from your house or departed in their car. If they specifically say that you should go inside then that makes the matter different.

All in all it is good to show politeness and courtesy so as not to needlessly offend people.

Let Them Be Bored.

One of the great doctrines of parenting today it seems is: “they shall not be bored”. As a result parents fuss and stress over making sure that the children are fully occupied. I am somewhat unpersuaded by this dogma.

It seems to me that it is a very good thing for children to get used to being bored. Through this the children will soon stop being bored. Why will this happen? It happens through the children being forced to take initiative themselves to make their own fun. Games and activities can be spawned from the most limited of resources, when children are allowed, either individually or collectively, to break their boredom through the designs of their imagination.

My parents were busy throughout my childhood, in fact I don’t remember my Dad playing with us. And yet we just got on with doing things.

It would be my conclusion that children develop better when they are forced to make their own entertainment. Imaginations flourish and the ability to take initiative is fostered.

In saying what I have said I do not want to take away from the value of parents doing things with their children. This is a most important aspect of parenting. The thing I do want to speak against is that of a parent being obsessed with doing things with their children.

And lurking in the background is the tendency to default to the computer taking over as the maker of entertainment. Although this can be an appropriate tool for a child’s development, it does have to be monitored so that children make their own entertainment in other ways.

Bless Your Home

The ark has arrived in Jerusalem and David has been celebrating and praising the Lord for this tangible evidence that God has come among His people. After his celebratory praise we read Then all the people left, each for their own home, and David returned home to bless his family (1 Chron. 16:43). I want to focus on David here and learn:

  • Church and home are not enemies in the service of God. David had enjoyed His time in the Lord;s place with the Lord’s people, but now it was time to return home. So we learn that there is a time for each.
  • Moreover, we learn that the time celebrating with the Lord’s people was actually beneficial for his home life. He would now go home and be a blessing. The spiritual energy developed “in church” would be expended for God among his family. Church and family can and should go together. this means that that the family do not begrudge Dad being in church, but rather love it because they know that blessings are bestowed to them as a result.
  • He actually went home. He was not a stay-away husband and dad. He was there among his family. It is a disastrous development for our society that Dad’s are absent from families. Dear brother in Christ you need to have time in your family.
  • He goes home to bless. There seems to be a purpose here. He actually goes into the home with a goal of blessing. This means interaction with your wife and children. It means that you purpose to do good.
  • He wants to serve. Many husbands and fathers treat home as a hotel where they get board and lodging and a bit of pampering. But no! It should not be. Home is to be a place where I engage and bring blessing.

Confusing Times

We live in confusing times. The two most powerful men on the planet, namely Presidents Trump and Putin are maligned by the liberal western media relentlessly. In many ways there is much to malign them for. President Trump seems to have a prevailing spirit of arrogance about him which unpleasantly, mixes in with moral indiscretions in his private life. Whilst President Putin does seem to display megalomaniacal tendencies where any means are acceptable just so long as Russian power increases.

And yet both seem to have a sound moral compass in many ways. So for a couple of examples:

  • Here we have President Trump giving testimony to God’s great salvation workings.
  • Here is president Putin saying something immensely sensible about a wholesome upbringing.

I know through being in Ethiopia that Christians are glad that President Obama has gone and President Trump has replaced him. The fact that under President Obama economic support was promised at the end of the gun of moral conformity. So to get the aid there had to be a move towards embracing the LGBT agenda.

It’s all confusing. I think one thing for sure is that the power of the media cannot be underestimated. They have an agenda; and that agenda is focussed on a destruction of Judeo-Christian moral values. I know I make a vast generlization, but that would be my observation.

My Dad

My Dad would have been 95 today and I do so very much miss him. I share this which I wrote shortly after his passing:-

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During the afternoon of Tuesday January 3rd 2006 a great man passed away. Clarence Venables died in Chapel Brook Nursing Home in Congleton. This man who lived all his days in a small village in a pleasant part of rural England was a great man. Not known outside of a relatively small circle and yet a great man. How do we measure greatness? One way is to consider the beneficial impact that a man has on the lives of others.

A great family man Married to Evelyn for nearly 54 years (they were due to celebrate their anniversary on January 9th), he kept to his wedding vows in loving and cherishing his wife over this long period of time. And was it all straight forward? Of course not! Whenever is marriage all straight forward! And yet through joys and sorrows, easy times and hard times; he continued as a devoted husband.

Four children were given to them in marriage; John, Christine, Andrew and Philip who were born over ten years between 1952 and 1962. Through diligent hard work he provided for his family so that they never lacked. All were supported in their chosen careers. He never wavered in his duty to be a supportive father. Even when they grew older he was always there as a wise elder statesman to give his caring wisdom. For example, when John was going through hard days as he settled at High Lees Dad was there to call upon for support and give advice.

His family being together was always special and important to him. He was perhaps never happier than on those occasions when his children and grandchildren were surrounding him. There was, no doubt, some poetic providential beauty in the family gathering which took place at Mere View when all children and grandchildren were together on the night before he died. Of course he was absent, but it would have been such a special joy to him.

A great farmer He took on the tenancy of Hills Green Farm upon his marriage in 1952. He thereby was involved in managing the farm over a period of unprecedented change in the agricultural industry. Under his capable management the farm changed and moved forward. He farmed with due care for his animals and the countryside where he was privileged to work. He saw the business through great transitions whilst gradually from 1968 transferring responsibility to his sons; first John and then to Andrew.

A great employer His employees always would know his reasonableness. He expected them to work and work hard, but never exploited them. Due wages were always paid on time. Workers were always supported. He stood by his staff during their difficulties when possibly others would not have been so understanding.

A great community man He served his local community with diligence. His main contribution was in his service to the Siddington Parish Council which he served as a member from 1972 until 2002 being Chairman from 1982 until 1985. True to his character he fulfilled his duties with undemonstrative reliability.

Further he was a National Farmers Union (NFU) member. He served as chairman of the Chelford branch in 1975 to 1976.

A great man of sport Herein lay one of his great interests outside of his farming. All sports were of some interest to him except for motor sports which never really captured him. Football and cricket were his main passions. In the football realm he actively supported, Macclesfield Town, Stoke City, Siddington and Congleton Young Farmers over different periods. He was not the detached analyst rather he was the committed supporter. So at the matches there was always a passionate desire for his team to win. And as a committed supporter he had the natural tendency towards bias.

At different times the children were taken along as Dad would go to support his team. One highlight was in 1971 when they ventured down to Wembley to see Macclesfield triumph in the FA Trophy final against Telford.

Then there was the great love of his summer life; the life on the bowling green. Whether it was for the Dixon Arms or the Chelford NFU teams, he plied his sport with great success. Clarence urging his “woods” on with due fervour was a familiar sight across the bowling greens of Cheshire. Moreover, he treasured the camaraderie that he shared with “friend and foe” alike.

A great visiting man Oh how many people were thankful for a visit from Clarence. Unannounced he would drop round to many who were lonely and desperate for someone to talk to. The widows of Siddington and communities were kept from feeling forgotten and alone because one man cared enough to visit. He surely could have given night classes to teach others the skills of caring visitation.

It is worth noting that in this age when values have been so corrupted it is mark of his integrity that his wife, Evelyn, never had any reason to question his motives in doing this.

He is missed by so many in this respect. He was a man who even in the midst of a busy life had enough time to be kind to so many. He was a generous man.

A great market man He was a man who loved his visits to Chelford Market. His time with other farmers and cattle dealers was special to him as he discussed prices and market movements along with other issues of greater or lesser weight. Monday was a special day for him as it was market day. And after lunch with his group of friends at the market he set off on his round of regular visits.

A great man of principle This perhaps gets to the heart of who Clarence was. This is because he was a man who had firm principles. Through thick and thin he did not depart from the deep seated principles which he had learned in his early days. These convictions undergirded by biblical moral principles were the basis of his operations in the family, business and community spheres. So, for example, there was no working on Sunday other than to do the essential farm work.

With this moral framework determining his conduct he was a man who was respected by so many. A reliable and trustworthy man; one who gave his word and stuck by it. Yet he was not afraid to give a rebuke if he thought someone’s conduct warranted it. Accordingly, he was truly a man to be respected. He knew that money and temporary success were not the key issues in life. Clarence was a selfless man who preferred others rather than himself.

However it must be mentioned that he was not a dour man. He had a splendid understated sense of fun. Many will remember that little twinkle in his eye as something humorous struck him. But in having fun he always sought to maintain purity and it would never be at the expense of others.

A great caring man He was no Pharisee because his commitment to principle never prevented him exercising great care to other people. In fact it was, no doubt, his commitment to principle which drove him on to care for others. The comforting arm around Bunty Reeves as she mourned the loss of her husband, Cyril, at his graveside in early 1981 was just an example of his thoughtfulness.

His daughter, Christine, returning home too late one night from a night out was greeted with an arm of comfort and “I am glad that you are home”. Christine did not need to know that she had done wrong. Such welcoming words were honey to her heart.

A great religious man Brought up in Methodism he switched allegiance to the Anglican Church in the village in the 1970’s upon the closure of the Methodist Chapel. As he outworked his commitment to the church he desired that his children be given opportunity to learn of the things which he believed to be important and be found in the church. He served as a Church Warden and Sidesman at Siddington Church.

A great persevering man Life was not always easy for him. He lost his Mum when he was thirteen. The day was like any other day until he returned home from school to find that his mother had suddenly died. As can be expected this event had a massive impact upon him. What is more, in his late teenage years and early twenties he was particularly afflicted by severe mental troubles. These tendencies in many ways never fully left him and few people know how he fought against depressive illness throughout his whole life. What Winston Churchill called “his black dog” was also an unwanted companion for Clarence.

Herein perhaps lies the key determining factor of Clarence’s greatness. He was great because he accomplished so much even though he had suffered so much. These sufferings would have beaten others who were of a lesser calibre. Perhaps, his wife Evelyn and sister Kathleen are the people who really know the depth of these afflictions which would have destroyed many.

 

Clarence was, then, a great man. The Telegraph will not carry his obituary, but the farming community in Cheshire know that they have lost one of their greatest. We mourn, but we remember; a great husband, a great father, a great farmer, a great friend; …… a great man.

 

Family Time.

We, as a family seek to have our family worship time each evening, Monday to Friday after our evening meal. I have written about “Family Worship” here. Recently, we have introduced the following and so far found them beneficial.

  1. We have started using the New City Catechism (see here). This provides brief questions and answers, along with supporting scripture, to seek to establish us in the truth.
  2. Alongside this resource there are songs which reinforce the truth. These can be found here.
  3. We have used the Operation Word Book before and found it helpful, but it is somewhat unwieldy. We have now started using the online version which is here. This helps us educationally to find out about countries, but most importantly sets us to be praying for countries around the world.

So, thus far, I feel these resources have enhanced our family time and given us some direction in our family worship time.

Problems And Solutions.

We breathe in the air of secular humanism constantly in the West. It is the dominating philosophy and we as Christians are relentlessly exposed to its insidious teachings. Continually, we are told that God either does not exist or if He does He is not relevant. The message is that it is material goods and possessions which are vital in determining our welfare. 

In such an atmosphere, all issues are viewed from a resource perspective. So governments are continually responding to matters by ‘throwing money’ at them. Politicians prove their success in dealing with a situation by how much resource has been put into a situation.

Having imbibed this culture we so easily follow suit in how we deal with matters in church. Accordingly, we look to bring blessing through bringing resources. Now, this of course has its place. Taking food resources to an impoverished family is going to bring blessing.

However, the reality is that the core problems of humanity are not to do with resources but to do with relationship. We were created to live in relationship with God and with other human beings. So much of the collapse of our society is to do with relationship breakdown. This may be on a macro scale when many people believe themselves disenfranchised from achieving in society. Or at a micro level with marriage and families in breakdown.

Resources do not rectify these breakdowns. There needs to be something deeper. It is only the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ that can ultimately touch these issues and bring healing. When people are returning to a relationship with God then relationships with others start to heal.

Family Worship

Here is an article on the vital subject of family worship.

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