Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I must be mad

I've only just sat a sack-load of exams/essays and here I am hitting another deadline. And its an optional one! ::::::::::slaps head::::::::::::
Why am I so last minute (truth be told; had an agony-fest weekend: see last post) plus the admin person at college was hiding all the forms that I needed to submit this appeal for credit.

(actually, like most large institutions: universities, the Health Board, the Home Office, the Dept for Work and Pensions - only One Person can give you the form you need and if that One Person is sick or on holiday or nipped to the 'loo you've had it; you'll need to come back another day to Get The Form)

Thanks for good friends who take sympathy on part-timers and take library books back, pick up forms, hand in paperwork etc etc :-)

Actually I am so busy with kids work with so many things kicking off just now, both positive and errrrr, more challenging, that I almost don't know what to do next. I seem to remember November as being quiet in my schedule....umm, nope, not this year! I've been digging out my Willow Creek leadership stuff to check what I am supposed to do next. Don't think that's the point somehow but don't tell on me!

What are your handy tips for managing time and tasks?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

God made dentists

I want to record here how fantastic my dentist Tracey is.
I have been suffering from niggly on-off pain for a couple of weeks in the lower jaw. It ERUPTED on Friday night to full blown "I'm crying" pain. Nurofen Extra and Brufen calmed it a little - till 3am .......

Phoned my dental surgery's emergency number and got to see Tracey at 10.30am today (a Saturday!). It's been fairly complicated to diagnose but I have acute pulpitis - an inflammation in the pulp of one of my teeth. I have had this before. The scunner is that my filling was taken out to check for this and there was no more decay there..apparently sometimes the nerve shrinks back and gets inflamed in response to a filling, which it senses is a foreign substance in the tooth.

Wow, and there was me thinking teeth were fairly inanimate pieces of ??? hard stuff (don't know what you call it!)

I have had loads of ligacaine (isn't that in an Eels song?) and am feeling sore but better.
Tracey has phoned me twice to check I am OK - God bless her - and also to see if she needed to start yanking the root out tonight in an emergency procedure.

I received some prayer from other members of church on Friday morning; at that point it looked like I wouldn't be able to get an appointment to see my dentist till later in the month; and it was a precious 10 minutes where I felt "safe in God's hands" - that I could trust him with my teeth. Makes sense really - seeing as I am supposed to trust him with my life.

Thank you Father for Tracey!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Things I Read

Thanks to Hippo Critic, who helped me make my blog a nicer place to visit today. All he needs is a cup of coffee and a laptop and he's a happy guy.

I need to explain my "What I'm Reading" list, before you think I'm either a bit-over-the-top on the religious front or a shallow "footballers' wives" fan (and I'm not saying there's anything wrong with either!!!!!)

1. The Bible.
I try to read this every day. I almost manage this but I don't beat myself up if I don't. It is immensely important to me. We didn't mean the picture to come out that huge. Roll on blogspot version 2.

2. The Herald should be no. 2 but I got my html a bit muddled. Because I used to teach politics I feel unprepared for the day if I haven't read a quality broadsheet. I kind of like having the Scottish dimension. The Herald manages this and doesn't skimp on the International section. However, it doesn't feature enough in-depth analysis like, for example, the Guardian/Independent manage. I am also rather fond of a couple of the Herald journalists. I like their campaigning stance. (headnod to Billy Briggs and Damien Henderson - liking your style)

3. Heat magazine. I DO NOT buy this every week. But hey, I like reading it.. I maybe buy one once every six weeks? Does that make me a shallow person? I like to think of it as my homework for my contextualising the gospel class. For the same reason I like some of the glossies like Cosmo. Can't stand OK and Hello though. In my church there is a squad of us who recycle glossies like Heat so loads of people get to read a bundle.

Also beside my bed (and propping up my Things To Do List nicely) are volumes by RT Kendall, Robin Parry and David Crowder.

What's on your bedside table just now?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Down in the dumps...

Down in the jungle yesterday, down in the dumps today. Not like me. I must be incubating something. "Stuff" that wouldn't normally upset me is making me teary. (and it's not PMT!)

I fell asleep on sofa during Spooks.


Sunday, October 22, 2006

Down in the jungle...

Work today was like being in the Amazon. Average temperatures of (what felt like) 90 degrees, humidity 98%.

And all because of two thermostat-less radiators - so hot they could hardly be touched- in a small room with twenty 4-5 year olds (my own striptease loving son one of them). Hats off the the group leader who had them dancing, drawing, playing blind man's buff, shooting hoops (is that what it's called?) and doing a "Rolf Harris" to tell a Bible story with a thick marker pen and flipchart paper. What a talented guy. I stand and marvel. Yet again I feel so privileged to be in my job. I miss my old job so much sometimes as I have gone on about before in this blog, and at other times I don't at all. I can't deny that God has called me to be where I am.

A quick shufty-round the other groups found hot toddlers throwing mega bloks in frustration. Owch.
Oooops, time to call maintenance in to deal with the radiators. Why oh why in church buildings is it either freezing or boiling? Answers from the QSs who read this on a postcard, please!

I'm not feeling so well today - very unlike me - so off to sleep now.
(It's probably due to the diurnal temperature range!)

Friday, October 20, 2006

Inverse law of tidying-up

Why is that when you have a day clearing out and tidying up, you actually end up with more mess than you started with? That was one of today's experiences, in these last few days off.

Yesterday I had a (half) day in library, reading about contextualisation of the gospel, which I rather enjoyed, but then I realised that I had a case study to do for the final assignment and I started to panic a little in thinking about where I'd find my cross-cultural case. Pah, why couldn't I just end the day enjoying the feeling that I am actually ahead of reading rather than at the dog's tail of the work needing done?

Today I had a (half) day clearing out and tidying up, ending up with more mess in the process. Why is that? I call it the inverse law of tidying up or sorting out filing. It's the same in my office.

What are your techniques for dealing with troublesome piles of paper/mess/household junk?

Decluttering gives me more clutter to get rid of..............

Thursday, October 19, 2006

One week on.....

Wow, can't believe a week has passed since I last blogged. I had a lovely time in Aviemore and Inverness with the family. The batteries are fully recharged and I am raring to go - just home and the phone is ringing ferociously with questions about the kids work over the coming weekend.

Got loads to post - including "just how many members of your home church can you meet during one trip to the Highlands?" "Hospitality - the continuing drama of life with a 4 year old" and more on "Labour's get-tough policies on asylum and immigration".

But it will have to wait - am off to see Children of Men tonight. I am looking forward to admiring the work of Clive Owen - is it OK to say that? He really is a great actor.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Bob Holman in The Herald, 10 October 2006

Note: this is a straight copy of the words of the column.

Last Wednesday, immigration officials arrived to deport an asylum-seeking family whose application had failed. They smashed open the door on their 20th floor flat. The husband threatened to jump from the balcony.

I live nearby and two asylum seekers asked me to help. Like all citizens, I was powerful. Eventually the man surrendered, his wife collapsed and was treated by medics, the children were taken.

They are not alone. Following Home Secretary John Reid’s “kick-them-all-out” instructions, 70 families in Scotland have lost their benefits and been ordered to leave. Most have disappeared. Homelessness is better than the torture and death they would have faced if they returned to their homes.

At the Labour Party conference in Manchester, I went to hear Immigration Minister Liam Byrne. Unadvertised, an asylum seeker addressed the crowd. His political beliefs in an African state led to imprisonment, a year on the run and an escape to Britain. His applications and appeals have been turned down.

Niall Cooper of Church Action on Poverty accepted that some asylum seekers would be helped to return. But he showed that many suffer unjust decisions and lack effective legal help. He condemned the New Labour policy of using destitution as a tool to make people leave, which in one case affected a woman who, along with her two children, suffers from rickets.

Why is this happening? Cooper read out headlines: “Kick out the scum” (Daily Star), “Britain: the dustbin of the world” (Daily Express), Stop the asylum invasion (Daily Mail). In fact, Britain only takes 3% of the world’s refugees, asylum applications are dropping and asylum seekers are not the same as the more numerous immigrants who come seeking work.

There is little evidence linking asylum seekers with terrorists. But these headlines stir up prejudice that might cost Labour votes if the government appears soft. Expediency requires harshness against asylum seekers. Byrne said he was new to the post and wanted to learn. He feared that immigrants might take jobs and force down wages. His statement was challenged from the floor. He said nothing about the policy of destitution and dawn raids. He did not reveal that he had already pledged himself to “a tougher enforcement of the rules”. I can’t see him standing up to John Reid.

I was cheered by two factors. First, the dignity and courage of asylum seekers in the room. Secondly, the large numbers of Christians who were present. Faith groups are in the thick of the campaign to protect and support asylum seekers. A forthcoming meeting will focus on organising shelters, daycentres, accommodation and food for the destitute. This is subversive Christianity, which believes that obedience to the gospel is more important that submission to repressive legislation. A leading campaigner has been so impressed by the concern of Christians that she has decided to become one.

The task of those who want justice and compassion to prevail will become harder is, as he wants, John Reid becomes Prime Minister.

Situation Vacant?

Am very excited. Six more new children at club tonight (it's only the second week); I was especially pleased to see a boy who I have got to know at the local school's SU group, which has also only just started (it's in its fourth week).

Apart from 5 or 6 of the children, the majority don't attend church. But the great delight for me is that I know them all, either from my work in the school or from their parents attending groups or events I have run before for children and families. Most of them have attended other "church ministries" like the kids' summer club, or the partnership-funded nursery. I love to see what I call "joined up church", where one form of outreach or ministry neatly leads a family onto another and then another and so on.

I am also delighted that I don't run the midweek kids club :-) That a great team has been put together by the co-ordinator. If I'm there, it's a bonus for them, in that it's another pair of hands to do door duty or give out the juice. But if I'm not there.........it runs wonderfully :-)

A previous minister of our church said to me that my aim should be to do myself out of a job!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

And my answer was.........

"Picture the scene if you will, last Sunday morning.Father and mother of said child "up front" during opening worship. Congregation singing heartily away, all facing the front.Small child edges further and further to the front holding something in his hand.....with an "I dare you to react" face on. The thing he is holding is used for the discharge of urine from the body...and he's walking this way with it on view.....during the opening 10 minutes of the service.............................................Before I tell you how I reacted......over to you:in this scenario WHAT WOULD YOU DO NEXT?"

I promised I would tell you what I did:
As he edges forward to the front of the church, "body parts" in hand, I snuck up to him, lifted him and cuddled him close, taking him back to my seat where he remained cuddled in over my shoulder while the next part of the service took place (which I wasn't involved in). I whispered very close to his ear "mummy loves you very much" "you're my special boy" and similar sentiments which calmed him, reassured him and obviously settled him. After this short burst of focussed attention he was well behaved.

Should I have taken him out of the service to the front door, because he had deliberately pulled his trousers down? Maybe.
Were my affectionate actions rewarding his bad behaviour? Possibly.
Was this indulging him? I believe not.
Was this costly to me in terms of reputation, standing and the smooth running of the service? After all, the person MCing events this Sunday had a badly behaved child! Not at all.

Small children, especially when they are required to wait while pastoral staff parents busy themselves with service "stuff" for some time before the service actually starts, need to know how special they are; that they have a very unique place in your affections.

Thank you Father, that when I am pretty badly behaved and disappoint you - as can happen - you do the same thing for me!
The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love.....Zephaniah 3:17

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Random Thoughts of John Reid

Things are beginning to kick off again for some of the women and children I love.

Secrets are being kept from the children. Parents disappearing off to be cross-examined without a solicitor present. Benefits about to be withdrawn; education disrupted, friends lost, belongings thrown into black bin bags.

What did these (mainly women) do wrong? They fled war-torn nations for their lives, having witnessed the disappearance and murder of many of their male family members. If they could have stayed, they would - much loved mothers and sisters left behind. Their own siblings scattered - to the Netherlands, to Canada, to Belgium, to the USA......

A group of us who met with our local MP a year ago were disappointed and hurt by the response to our concerns. By his dismissal of Christians as being naive, short sighted and gullible. If only he knew the bigger picture that we see in all the instructions given to us to look after the widow, the alien, the orphan, the strangers in our midst.

Last year I visited four children (all under 10) and their parents who were locked up in Yarl's Wood (Bedford) for 30 days and treated like criminals - I had to be searched/X rayed and go through twelve locked doors myself to see them. I would have treated a dog better!

The tide is rising again: the forced removals have returned after a summer of quiet. I pray that mercy and justice will prevail; for correct decisions to be made on a case-by-case basis rather than the cycle of:
NAS repossess house -----> benefits cut ------> destitution brought about intentionally ------> so that resistance is low -------> family accedes to all demands made of them.

If you have access to it, please read Bob Holman's article in Tuesday's Society section of the Herald. It's late now, tomorrow I will post some of it here.

Lord, have mercy.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Easy like Sunday morning.....

Hmmm, was thinking I don't have anything particularly clever to say on this blog today. However, it was an interesting day.

Slept in (never! with kids! yes indeedy! Think they got up early and snuck Monsters Inc on to the DVD player then decided to go silent so they were undiscovered) - this long lie would have been truly heavenly except that we woke up at 9.20am and at 9.45am I was supposed to be meeting one of my small teams for pre-service prep and prayers.

yet again, unbrushed hair, sleepy eyes, and a stressful mad dash to church. No cup of tea either!

I had spent hours on Saturday night searching for pictures of Ahab and Elijah for my "meant to be as visual" as possible brief teach on the evil Omri dynasty and God's man, Elijah.
I think it went well. In terms of 5-14 learning outcomes, I am confident that I achieved the following:
(a) describe the nature of Omri's reign - (nasty and evil)
(b) state the name of God's man on the ground (Elijah)
(c) name the two kingdoms (dur)
(d) What was not good about Jezebel and Ahab's marriage? (foreign god worship x 100)

You are deemed to have success in teaching if 90% of your listeners achieve the learning outcomes. Hmmmm. Think the kids did; not sure about the adult listeners!

Anyway, I enjoyed my OT studies over the summer holidays and certainly didn't mind digging into 1 Kings again.

Then onto a lovely afternoon having lunch-till-5pm with friends and then I popped out to church tonight as usual so I could get my "input" (what I do is classed as "work" in the mornings. :-) I love doing it - I feel so privileged!). I took 10 minutes to singe my ears xxxxx I mean, straighten my hair - which resulted in lots of people generally being very complimentary....what have you had done to your hair etc etc...what must I have looked like this morning?? (hedge and backwards come to mind)

Ooooh, another highlight; I got to sit in what my friend J calls "the cool zone" in church - where all the students and twenty-somethings sit. Didn't feel too old on account of my new shoes.

Which leads me back to my favourite topic - why I like kids - they don't mind if you haven't brushed your hair (probably because they haven't either); they are just delighted to have you with them.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

I passed it.......

..........not a kidney stone, but my theology exam.
I am officially armed and dangerous. A little Moltmann makes one a dangerous woman!

Heresies - watch out! Have got my Grenz book ready. And it's heavy!

(thanks to the community of God around me who point out when I am in danger of walking into one. A heresy, that is)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

What happened next? (over to you)

I am back on jolly form today, although this is perhaps not something to boast about, since the church administrator and I dissolved into giggles during a rather important meeting with lots of blokey types discussing serious church welcome issues.

I am afraid it was my fault.

Back to the weekend - all age service.
My little chap turned four last week and said to me, in a serious tone, "now, mother, I promise to stop being naughty; never to shame you and always obey you and daddy for you alone know what is best for me and promise always to love me and protect me".

Uh-huh. As if.

Picture the scene if you will, last Sunday morning.
Father and mother of said child "up front" during opening worship.
Congregation singing heartily away, all facing the front.
Small child edges further and further to the front holding something in his hand.....with an "I dare you to react" face on. The thing he is holding is used for the discharge of urine from the body...and he's walking this way with it on view.....during the opening 10 minutes of the service.............................................

Before I tell you how I reacted......over to you:
in this scenario WHAT WOULD YOU DO NEXT?
(remember that within the next ten minutes you are personally back on the platform/stage leading the congregation in worship. Therefore placing the hand of correction firmly upon the seat of learning is not an option in front of hundreds of pairs of eyes who pay your wages. Also, there are none of said child's grannies or aunts around to bail you out. I'd love to be a second generation Christian...)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Known to God

I have had a very emotional few days.
Like many others of us, I too wept for the needless deaths of those young Amish girls in Pensylvania. It brought back memories for me of the Dunblane tragedy.

Today I attended a child's funeral. I felt extremely upset about the loss of that child that I would have got to know and I felt acutely the pain the family felt. I find incredible comfort in that phrase "known to God"; and I pray that the parents know God's comfort tonight as I type this.

I went from that straight to a class at college and didn't quite "tune in" at the right frequency - partly because I felt emotional and partly because the only free seat was all alone at the very front of the class. Norma No-mates!

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart (Jeremiah 1:5).

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

9 to 11 year olds

Spent a little while with an SU group today; all aged between 9 and 11.
I am just getting to know the children.
I thought they would all be regular church attenders - they aren't.
I thought they would know a little about today's topic; prayer - they didn't.
I thought the ones who had Christian parents would know how to find a passage in the Bible - apart from one, they didn't.
I am so glad that we've made a little safe place for them to come at lunchtime.

Look forward to talking with them more about their loving Father.

Just three years ago if you had told me I'd be working with under-12s, I'd have guffawed with laughter. No, I'd have run a mile. I didn't do wee kids!

I like spotty, awkward, gangly teenagers who growl at you and look like they'd rather be anywhere else than in your classroom then end up mellowing when they realise you're (a) pleasant to them (b) pretty fair and consistent with rules and consequences and (c) actually have a life. They start to tell you about their weekends (which, in my scheme-school experience, involved turf battles, creative "menchie-ing"**, blockbooking tanning sessions and the best place for under18s to go if you want to pull)

It's been completely and utterly God at work to call me out of that and into the world of primary children.
I wonder what else the future holds?

** menchies = scrawling your name or symbol. if I were to "menchie" a desk it would say "lynn-o" or "lynn young team" and have wee arrows coming out of the final letter "n"