Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas is over.....


I have been incredibly tired all day today (but then I did hit the sales today and allowed myself one teeny-weeny shoe splurge - only £10!)

23 Dec and 24 Dec were busy days but great fun. The All Age service went well - huge thanks to G who organised the "Weegie" nativity (only 2 shepherds but 14 angels and about 23 kings - that's what happens when children have free choice as to who they want to dress up as)

Actually - it wasn't a Weegie nativity in the true sense of the word - see picture above!

I loved doing the crib service on Christmas Eve as always - the candles, the relatives and visitors present, the excited children, the sense of expectation; the mulled wine at the Batemans afterwards :-)

Our SP led a great wee service on Christmas Day. Lots of children with great pressies there, although it was perhaps a little risky of me to ask a child to demonstate flying a radio controlled plane in the sanctuary during the service. Before I could clear the "runway" and indicate a free take off slot, the bigger boys had rushed for the controls and the plane soared into the air, only to encounter a freak wind (perhaps??) and crash land on a 2 year old. I did check and she was fine. Surprised but robust (hooray for God making children robust!)

Oh - a highlight from that service - I have now found out that someone I welcomed is a BLOGGER - I recognise your name Doonhamer Geordie, from That Hideous Man! Well done on making the connection! (how did you do it??)

I'm now off to bed early. This is never a quiet holiday. Got loads of reunions on this week - all the parents who I became friends with from early post-natal days 8 years ago; pals from university days, friends from Oxford. Love it.

Wishing you all a peaceful and blessed New Year.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Friday, December 14, 2007

My Week in Statistics

Thursday 13 Dec, just before midnight....

Christmas parties/lunches down - 5
Christmas Parties/lunches still to occur - 6
No. of Christmas Parties/lunches with participants under the age of 12 - 8
No. of packets of marshmallows bought - 6
No. of children attending aforementioned parties - approx 270
No.of vomiting children - 0
(ah, but wait, last year's it was this man's offspring who broke that record)
Amount of budget spent on funding parties - no-one minds, really.
I kind of get free reign because I am careful with money.

One's for a school group, three are for under-5s (one;the preschool's; I don't have to fund; one is for children with additional support needs, one is for the midweek kid's club, two are for Sunday School (though I don't call it that - nor do we hold it in church but in a bowling alley and in a soft play area).

No. of under 12s parties that I personally organise - 4
No. of under 12s parties that others in my teams organise - 4
(50% delegation rate is not bad; could be improved though)


No. of secret Santa presents bought - 1
No. of services that I am fully or semi- responsible for over the the next twelve days - 3
(now that's a scary prospect, she says with glee)

No. of work colleagues who have helped me with all of the above - 6
No. of volunteers who have helped me with all of the above - loads and loads

The last two says it all really!!!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Quick update

Tired.
Busy, very busy.

Not had much time to talk to people in a relational and not purely task-driven way this week so far so today was a great day - lots of laughs in the office (need some money!?!?! Try the children's budget!) and then a very pleasant lunch with the group I am going to affectionally nickname the TheoBoyz - you know who you are.

(The book is called Jesus: Revolutionary of Peace by the way, by Mark Bredin)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Elf Yourself

Much hilarity in my house and office today.

You have got to try this out!

Go on, go on - elf yourself!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Exam over....




phew....this term's work is over, fairly painlessly I thought.
In today's exam I had to write two short essays; one asking to what extent (ah, that old phrase) the Exodus was a historical reality and one accounting for the the differences in the Joshua and Judges accounts of entry into the land.

We shall see if I have misguided confidence. Perhaps there is an OT scholar in me yet!

I'm having tonight off - its just me and Jack Bauer in the house and later in the week I am onto ...Christmas party organising; one an in-house children and family event and one an outreach to families-through-their kids event. Oh, and I'm attending a senior citz one and one at the club for children with additional support needs. And a midweek club one. I love Christmas!!

One of my leaders came in last week to talk through a training issue that is on his heart and it was important for me to take the time to listen to this. As a result we hope to organise a training morning on different types of praying for/with/about children (I do love a bit of O. Hallesby)

I am not terribly programme driven; i.e. I never feel the need to have X, Y and Z happening each week and if X is a success then its time to extend and add in A and B as well; the only way I know how to plan my work is to listen to what God is saying to my fellowship as a whole and to me personally, listening to other people, observing what is happening with the people I serve and then bouncing the whole lot (of ideas) to some trusted friends and colleagues. Dunno if this is how other people in my kind of role do things but it's how I do it. Of course, there are things that NEED to be done and these things happen as a matter of course; one tiny example is making sure Sunday mornings run smoothly.

It's pretty exciting. I am teaching in secondary school later this week but I am feeling I wouldn't give the flexibility, unpredictability and excitement of a pastoral job up for anything......

(you can and should quote me on that when I feel morose!)

What do you love (and hate) about Christmas? Please do respond in the comments.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

some humour

I'm revisiting a post made on 22 Sept 2006 with another installment:-


Things You Should NEVER Say To A Children’s Pastor


Do you think you’ll have a real ministry someday?

When I was growing up in church we didn’t need to have fun.

What do you do with all that money the church gives you?

You’re disturbing the MAIN service.

How come the holiday club is only five days long?

I don’t think anyone will mind if we add another worship service.

Just announce it in the bulletin if you need more workers.

Do the kids have to come back into the service?

I’ll bet you enjoy this as much as the kids do.

After church lets out I need to talk to someone, just keep my kids in their group for a while until I get back.

My kid says you won’t even last as long as the last one.

I told the senior pastor what happened in my kid's group time today.

Who’s Larry the Cucumber?

But I’ve been teaching the class this way for over forty years.

NB: this is humour and not necessarily representative of any church anywhere at anytime!!

Listening ears.....


You know who you are!

::::::::feeling better:::::::::::

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

ZZzzzzz

My daughter was ill during the night. To say "Both ends" will suffice. Seeing as she sleeps in a 7 foot high loft bed, we thought it best to do a family bed swap so that she slept beside me in the double bed on the side nearest the bathroom and that my husband slept in the loft bed next door. Picturing waterfalls of vomit from a 7 foot height was not pretty.

Big mistake.
Him - slept wonderfully
Me - sleep!?!? What was that!?!?
Her - up and down like a yo-yo. Shifting about, turning around, pulling the covers, saying "I can't sleep" etc etc - you get the drift.

Final lecture on hermeneutics this morning and my eyes are closing. The lecturer is engaging and vibrant but I'm in sleep mode and everyone can see it. How embarrassing.
I ended up leaving class early to have a nap for an hour and a half then returning to the library for the afternoon. I've got an exam on OT narrative on Monday and work for the rest of the week!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Nits


The title of this post refers to the heavy duty convo taking place at mummy central today (i.e. Costa)...no fewer than a dozen friendly parents for the quick half hour post-9am school drop off.

Head lice are rampant throughout various classes (doncha just feel the need to scratch as you read this?) and some of my friends themselves have caught nits. Great thing is that there is no shame - lice prefer clean heads anyway - and there is a kind of solidarity in being on egg-observation duty as mothers together.

You can see why I don't take this conversation into my work.........

Got a phone call yesterday from my old place of work, a school I worked in for 7 years, to come back in for a day to teach and they have actually asked me well in advance so I am looking forward to that. Its after my OT exam. It will be good to see my colleagues again who shaped me so much from 1994 onwards. They saw my ups and downs; my successes and achievements with groups of kids and the failures too; ::::::buries head in hands with shame::::: Mistakes - I made some crackers!

The most important thing after making a boob of something, I think, is to reflect and learn from it. Placement or practice debriefs usually ask you to answer the following question: "what would you do differently next time?"

I've tried to do this each year with major events like holiday club, where loads of people had the opportunity to be in a team I led (I ask them to shape the changes I should make each subsequent year); I have had the chance to ask this after the Families on Fire conference and I've had the opportunity to do this too very recently about a personal matter (even though, in my flesh, I wanted to stamp my feet and scream at the same time).

I've to undertake a MAJOR piece of practice work where I must also research, conduct interviews and then ask "what would you do differently?" - guess I'm not allowed to say: not do the BA Th. degree?!?!?

I hope I've got a teachable spirit. I expect it from others I manage or oversee so I'd better have one myself!

Time for you lurkers to contribute in the comments:
From recent years, thinking about the kind of things you are involved in, what would you do differently, if you had the opportunity to do so?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

yes, Yes, YES!

Marker's comment on my exegesis:

"Lynn, a well written exegesis in which you interact well with the text and scholarly views"- and I got my highest ever mark!

I'm not boasting, I'm just remembering what I wrote here:-
Studies


I'm with That Hideous Man and Margaret's suggestions: value added learning, or grades for Most Improved!

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Week That Was


Monday - went back to teaching for a day. In a department with an awful principal teacher - unsupportive, unkind, ill-prepared and unfriendly. Shan't be rushing back to her department to offer my services again! In the evening, I ran my triple p group.

Tuesday - lovin' old Testament class. Thought for the week: generational sin: anything in the OT has an application for us today, said the lecturer. Mmmmmm. Then had to rush off to a lunchtime school group that needed some support. A bit of disrespect happening to my team; can't have that. I went into "firm, no-messing" mode with some 11 year old boys!
Before 3pm I managed to briefly visit a family facing very difficult circumstances who a bunch of Christians from different churches have been able to help in the most amazing way. That was a real honour. They are lovely, lovely people.

Wednesday - did some admin and a zillion phone calls in the morning, then off to a meeting with fellow staffers from different places then back to meet a parent previously unconnected to our church who wanted some parenting help :::::from me!?!? see earlier post on dreaming:::::::
Seriously, this was also a real privilege. And all thanks to some very specfic input and training that I walked into in a fruitful Health Board liasion two years ago which allowed me to be trained and accredited in "triple p". It's opened unimagineable doors.

Thursday - team prayers, then off to the bustling parent/carer ministry that gives people a break from their screaming childXXXXXXX cute children for an hour or so. Very excitingly for me, my sister-in-law was coming for the first time AND one of my teaching colleagues, with her first baby! I think they enjoyed their break and chat with other carers. Of particular encouragement to me was the fact that 3 people at the table, spontaneously and genuinely raved about the group and the support and fun it gave them as their children were looked after lovingly by the team of "aunties" while they had a break.
Back to the office just really to sort out all my announcements for the bulleting sheet then it was time for all the staff went out for a farewell lunch to a much loved colleague who retires next week. He's my line manager and I am going to miss him deeply. Two people I am close to at work leaving within a month of one another.......

Friday - mummies Costa trip (if you know me by now you will know this is a weekly social event where a group of us from the "school gates" hang out together). It's one of my highest priorities in the diary unless I have to come in to work, depending on how many evening sessions I have worked. But this week so far that has been two. Tonight is family alpha.

So much of the time I spend "in contact" with (other) people but I work on my own a lot of the time, like all other pastoral jobs I suppose. Linkages become very important!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Lights, camera, action.....

Last night a film crew came up from London to catch a flavour of what an alpha course with families is like. I hoped that the children would just be themselves; that the hustle and bustle would continue as 30 folk share food together; with drinks spilled, chocolate covered faces and hands, lego everywhere, chatty adults, dig in and help yourself if you want seconds etc etc

And I'm pleased to say it went as normal, someone fell backwards off their chair, mini-disagreements occurred, sensible food was left on plates while lots of ice cream was consumed. Adults deep in chat and yet at one with their kids, prior to moving downstairs for 50 minutes of "separate" time; adults in discussion and kids making fantastic crafts to take home.

I was interviewed to say why and how this vision came about; I hope I was natural with what I said; I certainly didn't prepare a script nor did I get time to apply copious amounts of lipstick - though YES, COLLEAGUES WHO READ THIS, I DID WASH AND STRAIGHTEN my hair (there was an in-office debate about whether I would go to the hairdressers before 4pm!!!)

I hope it inspires people to open up their homes or churches to noisy, unpredictable, jumpy-about children and their parent(s), because community can be forged wherever we are willing to meet together and care and show genuine interest and concern. If you know anything about me and not much about alpha - the outcomes of the course is not my primary concern. I run it and leave the outcome to God. He does the conviction; the hard work; I've just got to be faithful to providing the means by which people can talk and ask questions and bounce ideas off other people in the group. So last night, when someone spoke about a theory I can in no way agree with; my response was: "that's an interesting point. Thank you. What do others think?" - in alpha your job is to allow people to discuss, and muse and listen, not to force your point of view.

I am very concerned when I hear people say: my church has no children or young families in it therefore I don't need to think about getting Disclosures or running a kids club or a family event etc. Not much is needed to provide a place of welcome for kids and teens and families and age, status and resources don't matter; it's the vision and open heartedness of those who provide such a time and space. People reading this might think "it's all right for her to say that, where she is" but I am sure that I would run teatime alpha no matter where I was; its not down to the church but down to friendships with people OUT there - all you need is a cooker, the alpha course and a floor to eat from!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Help I'm dreaming


I was having a bad dream. I found myself in my son's P1 classroom, sitting on a tiny chair with my husband opposite the teacher. Only 10 weeks of term had passed and here we were at the introductory "settling in" parents' night.

In my dream, Mrs C said: "I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but your son had been very defiant. He had to be physically lifted for refusing to get up off the floor and in a second incident he refused to get changed after gym and sat with no clothes on refusing to co-operate.He's lost ten minutes off his golden time"

"Oh no" I said, my mouth twisted into a half-grin, half contorted scream, partly disbelieving this and partly believing it all-so-possible; "I'm so sorry".

"Also", she continued....."he scribbled on a book and said it wasn't him. He said it was someone else but all the other children saw him. I gave him two chances to confess and finally he admitted it". In the dream I could really feel the embarrassment. Mum, a teacher! A children's pastor!She even runs parenting courses in the community! A guidance teacher for a dad! What kind of example to others is this? I could feel fear of failure slip in pretty quick as well as pride. Just as well we are able to learn things about ourselves in some of our dreams!

We had worked consistently on J's behaviour at home and had seen real improvement - and now this!?! Four major behaviour lapses in ten weeks. Defiance is pretty major for a P1 in our books.

But at least it was a dream.............or was it? It wasn't night and I wasn't sleeping.......

Any advice welcomed!
(I think the lesson is: we're all real people with imperfect lives!)

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Reflections


I promised I would come back to the intergenerational conference held two weeks ago now. I have now had lots of time to reflect to read some emails and cards that have been sent to me over the past two weeks. This has been very humbling.

It clearly met a need. Scratched an itch for those who can't get out to conferences at night or weekends. Significantly, lots and lots of one parent families were able to come, which really blessed me. I have such a love for these folks who are outstanding parents to their children. I love them and I want them to be blessed and encouraged!

I work in a church with LOTS of families with primary age children. This means that I see (and experience myself!) the stresses and strains some families have as they arrive at church (late?!) and fight to find seats together. And hear of the merry-go-round of work, school, after school activities, car rides, social outings etc Most of the feedback commented on how precious time was spent being together in "spiritual nurture". After a little bit of teaching into this, individual family clusters spent one hour each day praying or meditating on God's word or listening to God speak flat out on the floor or relaxing in the chairs, but kids and parent(s) together. If you haven't seen this "soaking" kind of thing before you'd have wondered what you had walked into but time and time again people have told me or fed back in writing that this met a deep need; to simply "be" - with God as Father and with their children. Critics may have said that children would run riot but they didn't. They took part in the stillness (the preschoolers had a creche facility at this point because of sheer numbers - but of course a family at home continuing this activity in their own time would all be present together).

Teaching by the excellent speakers Daphne and Darrin Clark focused on what it means to pursue God together, and how to walk in blessing. (I didn't type prosperity, I typed blessing!) Foundational teaching on forgiving allowed all ages together to experience what it means to be forgiven and then to forgive.

I taught briefly on what I believe is a call to step out to the poor and lonely and prisoner and foreigner - which all ages together can be part of at different levels - to see our broken society restored. Central to this is that we need the help of the Holy Spirit to empower us to comfort and restore. For me the key song of the conference was Tim Hughes "God of compassion" - send us out Lord to the hurting, we must go, we must go (if you don't know it, its well worth downloading it/buying it). WHat is all this God time/infilling for, if it's not to make a difference out there and bring others to new life?

To see families with three generations standing encircled together praying with one another at the water fountain is something that will stay with me for a long, long time. To see lots of tiny 1 and 2 year olds (who I simply had no room to provide 6 hour creche facilities for) playing happily at their parents' feet or alongside other little ones whilst the sessions were going on, and seeing that there parents were not stressed because there was a peace around the place! I'm not imagining this - for so many children (over 85) to be present during every session and it not to be a cacophony of sounds, cries and squeals, was amazing. There was a godly presence. Please add to the comments section if you disagree with me and I will amend my claim! 15 more children were in the 3s to 4s preschool.

Probably what has evoked most of a response in me is to hear of a 9 year old boy who was dreading spending two days at church and by lunchtime on the first day he did not want the conference to end. I was touched deeply - not because of the marvellous thing I had done (honest!) but because there was a hunger and a desire in him to be part of something bigger, something foundational - part of being church.

I really tried to submit this conference humbly before God at every stage, because:(a) I didn't think I could organise a conference. So much to do when all ages are present, when you're running a preschool and then 4 separate workshops later in the afternoon!
(b) I was really worried about having unhelpful attitiudes and being caught out - ...HA! because God sees my heart and he might tell everyone else what it's like...!
(c) there's never been a conference like this in the UK - all together, all the time.
(d) It cost a lot of money. My leaders blessed me and would have underwritten it financially but it's been self-financing.

Finally - a prayer. All glory to you Lord Jesus. I pray that children, teenagers, all ages of adults! will be inspired to stay close to you for all the days of their lives and to impact this needy world.

Please feel free to leave comments.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Catch up

My goodness, I haven't posted on this blog for nearly two weeks.
I was in charge of a conference last week and this week I have enjoyed almost total media silence. I still ran two of my community/outreach groups this week but I've had lots of me-time for most of the week. As a result I'm feeling rather bored and looking forward to the primary school mothers' social Costa trip as usual on a Friday morning - I need to see people!! Let me at'em!

Actually, I popped into the office to spend some time with colleagues today. We had a leaving lunch today for a much loved and helpful colleague who was last seen buried under a mound of recyclable paper as he clears out 5 years of - ....paper?....- kind of a fitting tribute, really. We lose him but he becomes very useful somewhere else. Recycling of talents in the Kingdom of God.

Next week I have to work very hard attempting to exegete (or whatever the verb is - I seem to remember having this debate last year) for an OT assignment. I am very much enjoying the class and I find the lecturer entertaining and interesting and the content stimulating and thought-provoking.

Want to blog some thoughts on intergenerational stuff arising from the conference soon.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Some things I find hard........

I am struggling with one aspect of my character just now; when others to whom I am close have different priorities to my own.
When things that seem vital to me are not as important to others - whether it be house size/what to do with spare time/money/amount of time spent "out of the Christian bubble" - I can get intolerant, judgmental, on an ego trip, sad, disappointed even. I expect others to live up to my impeccably high (of course!) standards. Oh no - pride!!!

Jesus words flattened pride. I've just been reading some of his words to the Pharisees.

Forgive me, Lord.

On another note entirely, I have recently found myself becoming involved in the lives of two families who have suffered the most unspeakable tragedy. One is from Scotland, one is not. Both are bringing me to tears, I want to see a breakthrough. I want to see their lives changed. I want dramatic, miraculous, life-turning-around change. I can't bear the thought of their pain continuing. There *must* be healing for trauma in this good news, the gospel! And, if I'm honest, some of the tears are because I realise that there is a deep, personal cost involved in making myself wholly available to these families. It's comfier to not bother.

And again Jesus words go deep; "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it." (Mark 8:35)

I'm working a lot through - I sense some deep shifts in my thinking and in my call and purpose in doing what I do. And, oh yes, there's some dying to self having to happen.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

TOTAL Respect


I joked about issuing an impish challenge to a friend of mine. I wondered if this was a little foolish but hey - we all need to live a little.

And all credit to them - they took up the challenge to spend a few seconds on something really silly. They combined edgy teaching, prophetic challenge and a sense of humour. They took a firm line on some issues and yet maintained an approachability. They have a heaven-mindedness but also an earthly groundedness - and of course they know how to have a laugh. Personally, I've never got the "I've got joy deep down in my heart" thing. I've never been able to keep joy and laughter quiet!! (which has always got me into trouble). There are more serious faces in churchianity than there are broad smiles :-)

Studies

Some of you know I mark exam papers for a Higher subject.
There are very strict rules governing what you can and cannot write on an individual's exam paper - i.e. you can't write any words at all!! You use certain lines and symbols to indicate omissions, small errors and gross blunders. This is in complete contrast to my own papers I received back last week from a year ago - the word "random" and "I don't think so" featured heavily......

One year ago exactly I went through a number of stages to skip Year 1 of a degree in theology. I did work really hard but only for a short period of time (mid August to mid Sept) as summer is my busiest time job-wise. I guess I could have spent more time preparing but then it would have been in May and I would have forgotten it all (my memory is like a sieve).

I've had an embarrassed giggle at some of the comments on my scripts
Here's a selection: -
"very shallow" "no evidence of knowledge" "uninformed" and (my personal favourite) - "not pass". (whatever happened to the word FAIL?)

However, now that I re-read the answers I wrote under exam conditions, I am absolutely mortified at the complete tripe I wrote. What changed in the intervening week between the first exam and the resit was that I spent one hour in the local coffee shop with a friend who, without knowing what I had written, knew where I had gone wrong, because he knew me and he knew the style of writing I would use. He helped me change tremendously in that one hour meeting by going over the Grenz chapters and pointing out the slant I would have to take. I will never be a theologian but at least I have managed a basic grasp of some topics. And the resit one week later had "good" on it!

Apparently I tend towards the "Yoda" approach of sentence structure as this same marker highlights a paragraph in an essay a year later and comments "confused it seems". I don't really understand what "slow logic" means though.

This time last year I really enjoyed the mission studies essay I had to do and although the comment "random thinking" was also appended to this piece of work it was good enough to pass which is good enough for me, as I got a lot out of the reading I undertook for this. I'd rather be random than....errrr.....

On the positive note, I was delighted to read that I had achieved a "good pass" in Old Testament Studies. Again, I crammed for this in a month but this is the subject I am about to pick up again next week so I am looking forward to an area where I may have a little more ability than belief and thought. I studied archaeology for two years at university and one year of that was biblical archaeology. I can't help but wonder if this might help me a little in the class this year.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Upside Down, You Got Me Turning, Inside Out, and Round and Round**





Something happened to me on 7th September that has literally shaken my thinking on evangelism. It revolves around this passage.

Yes, I did know this story before that date and yet it came alive........(doh)
I had been preparing with a little team for an alpha course for families - we had prayed lots, we had planned together, we had prayed some more. Food for 30 was waiting. As 6pm drew near, no-one came. Ah well, I thought, a lovely meal awaits and this will be relaxing, all these folks are good friends of mine and it will be an opportunity to chat and catch up.

But something within me ROSE up - NO! It's not to be like this - we can't sit and share a meal so comfy and cosy - so it was coats on and into the street as we set off find people who will come eat with us. "Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find." So two of us set out and I invited families in the nearby park to our meal.

One family came - and the sense of God's love and care for them is moving me to tears every time I think of it. As a friend put it: think how much God loved them that he wanted to seek them out; it's as if the other people who were busy just weren't meant to come so that this family were reached with a meal which represented love, compassion and friendship. And they live on our doorstep.

It's this Lost Sheep principle which we lose when we become numbers driven...what? An alpha course with only two guests? And one a child! Hallelujah! Not just two people - it's a household! One of my most favourite speakers, Heidi Baker, who does phenomenal work in Mozambique and Malawi says "love the one, just the one. Everyone love the one in front of you. Then more will be added as they love the one in front of them".

And so my thoughts have turned to the flats in the streets around; the houses and streets aren't as wide and spacious and green as the houses which most of our congregation live in. The families perhaps not nuclear. And yet these are my neighbours. I feel some of my thoughts and strategies for the future being re-formed over the last two weeks in the light of this parable.

If the people we work and socialise with are too busy with their property (= field); their possessions (= oxen)or their partners, who are we to share the good news to?

**Can you name who sang this song? Answers in the comments!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Families on Fire



Families on Fire Conference, Queens Park Baptist Church, 19 and 20 October

For 18 months now I have been planning this conference, It's an exciting conference for families to attend together on Friday and Saturday 19 and 20 October. Age 5 and upwards are present in every session for all age teaching with Darrin and Daphne Clark, Children’s Pastors at Toronto Airport Church. The conference aims to ignite a passion for God in the whole family and foundational topics such as forgiveness and reconciliation within families will be presented. A separate workshop stream operates for the final session of the day, for parents, grandparents, teenagers and children.

All generations are welcome!

Further information is available at www.qpbc.org – click on the Families on Fire button! Booking forms can be downloaded online or we can send some out to you.

Call 0141 423 3962 or email office@qpbc.org

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Glory Hallelujah

It was lost and now it's found!
Yes, thanks to the prayers of the saints and a damp cotton bud, my S has returned to the fold.
Thanks to all who emailed and posted comments offering some of their Sssss from their bountiful provision. Took me a while to work out who uan was!

I removed lots of the key covers (they *do* make a satisfying snap once clicked back on again) on my laptop keypad and then got to work with a cotton bud.

The "t"s a bit funny just now so maybe it's on its way out now. I have heard that laptop keypads begin to deteriorate when worked exceptionally hard :)

Life at work is....interesting......lots of changes, lots happening. Am watching and waiting (hey that sounds ominous. It's not meant to be). I've worked hard recently with my 8s to 11s team to get their group organised; loads of changed and new things afoot - from coloured lanyards to loads of new leaders, who are committed, fresh, talented and envisioned. That's one team review meeting in October I'm really looking forward to!

I'm bursting with the desire to get the next round of kids' discipleship up and running - I hit a brick wall last year when a volunteer who was going to help me was no longer available to do so. I had potentially three groups of under 12s who wanted to learn more about God's heart for them, about God's word, prayer and evangelism and it was simply too much for me to take on. Yet after school was the best time to meet - evenings are no good for this type of input but after school is no time for adult volunteers. I'm starting to think of teenagers who could assist.....

I also felt it was time to share with this blog another major foray I am making for the first time - organising a conference. So I will post a promo for that tomorrow. I had the privilege of speaking to other leaders in my denomination to advertise this. I do hope some of our churches take up the offer to come as I have always gained so much from the conferences and bible weeks I have attended that transcend denominations.

I went out for Brunch today with my friend Fiona and also had another friend Philip round for tea, lovely, lovely people time.

Gotta go - Heroes has started - blame Brodie!!

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Miing Letter




Dear Reader

You may come here for deep theology (not); or for the cutting edge review of children' minitry literature (ahem); or for torie from my own enthralling life; more likely for the hambolic writing tyle of thi blog but never before have you come to thi blog TO HELP ME FIND A MIING LETTER!

My heart i inking becaue I have had thi laptop ince I tarted the my job almot 4 year ago. I have been kinda hinting for a while to the office manager that it' beginning to have thing go wrong with it - cracked cae etc, wonky key etc

But now one of the letter ha gone AWOL!

You can ee the ign that thi wa about to happen in the lat line of the previou pot.

Can I maintain a eriou witne to the profeional agencie I omtime write to when I have to type like thi?

Or do I hammer the keyboard very very hard to ee if the miing letter make a faint appearance?

One thing I know - it' driving me abolutely pitting mad. I'm getting frutrated. I'm eriou.

Even wore - am I going to have to go through a committee to get a new laptop? Pleae NO!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Most embarrassing moment........


Question: you're not yet five years old, its your first few weeks at primary school, it's your first whole school assembly with the Head Teacher speaking about an Important Matter as you sit on a wooden floor beside 150 other children and you need to go to the toilet.

What's the most embarrassing thing that could happen to you?

Yes, dear reader, that was my wee pet today. And apparently the dark circle is still visible on the assembly hall floor.

And I didn't know until I was in a meeting with said Head Teacher about the Christian club I run in the school and she remarked to me: "how's your little boy, after this morning?"

"WHAT ABOUT THIS MORNING?" I asked, mildly gritting my teeth and wondering if he had been extremely naughty (regular readers will know about his occasional spitting habits and his private part-revealing moments, to name but some of the reasons why I do love him so much. I really do)
She thought I knew.
Ah well. I'm an ordinary parent with an ordinary boy.

My husband tells me tonight he remembers wetting himelf in P3.
I feel so much better now!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Silly quiz part 2

HT to Brodie for this.
I think I may have taken part in a quiz like this a year or two ago and I can feel the effects of my DC class; meaning I can recognise the satisfaction and substitution questions!!

Unsurprisingly, given what I had to read this year, I come out as:
You scored as J├╝rgen Moltmann,The problem of evil is central to your thought, and only a crucified God can show that God is not indifferent to human suffering. Christian discipleship means identifying with suffering but also anticipating the new creation of all things that God will bring about.

Which theologian are you?
created with QuizFarm.com

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Wonderful day

Does it sound arrogant to say I had a great day today at a children's ministry training day? OK I did organise it but I didn't speak much as I got to sit back and listen to the highest quality speakers from my own church and from outwith. There was just a great............atmosphere as a fair number of us gathered with expectation and excitement on our hearts, I think. I really do sense a movement in Scotland where more and more people are excited about the opportunities to walk and talk the Good News to children and families - there's an open door for those preschool/primary years. To quote George Barna:
“The data shows that churches can have a very significant impact on the worldview of people, but they must start with an intentional process introduced to people at a very young age. Waiting until someone is in their teens or young adult years misses the window of opportunity”.
(Barna, G. (2003): Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions)

I read an email when I got home from the training day with some excellent news in it, the kind of news that makes you want to laugh and cry at the same time; where you feel very precious and valued. Do I sound like a page from a Mills and Boon novel? Hah! It's not a romantic love thang - it's a "I'm part of the Body of Christ" moment.

There are such, such a good bunch of folks who work with me and I am blessed by them all. They graft and serve on Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and at many times inbetween, in kids work or on alpha.

I just love being a Christian. I got a moment today to say to God that it's been the best thing ever in my life. Where would I have been without him?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Which LOTR character am I most like?



You scored as Frodo Baggins,

Frodo Baggins

87%

Meriadoc Brandybuck (Merry)

77%

Gandalf the Grey

73%

Galadriel

70%

Peregrin Took (Pippin)

67%

Gimli

47%

Arwen of Rivendell

47%

Samwise Gamgee

43%

Boromir

40%

Aragorn

40%

Legolas

33%

Eowyn of Rohan

27%

Saruman the White

23%

Gollum

20%

Which Lord of the Rings character are you most like?
created with QuizFarm.com



Thanks to Graham for this.
Hmmm, I wonder if most of us will come out as Frodo or Merry?!?

PS my preview shows the results have posted far too far over to the right but I don't know how to edit the html code......

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Back to School Sunday



Tomorrow I've organised a "Back to School" Sunday service, courtesy of the initiative set up by these guys, for whom I have the utmost respect. They are an organisation I want to do all that I can to promote, honour, encourage and participate in, partly because of the importance of the work that they do in schools and have done for years and years and partly because I feel that the non-denominational side of what they do is vital. It's one charity so many of us support no matter what kind of church we come from.

I want to encourage anyone reading this to pray for their local school. Brodie is going to speak tomorrow on one of my defining passages for what I do in my job, Acts 17,
about Paul being "in the mix" - at the heart of the hill of learning, allowing himself to be distressed by what he saw of the day.

Many of us have blogged about some of the tragedies on the news this summer; of young boys being shot and stabbed in this nation; and we need people - dare I say it - CHILDREN - yes, young ones too!! - who will chatter and talk of Jesus unashamedly in their schools - he healed me, he heard me, he took my fear away, he makes me feel good inside (oooh talking about feelings - is that OK? of course it is! How can we expect affiliative faith (HT to Westerhoff) to survive without feelings?!? -


I guess what I am saying is that when I train or teach children or children's team members I want them not just to "get by" as Christians; but to learn apologetic skills, to learn the tricks of warfare; to on the attack (spiritually speaking) and not always on the defence.

I'm going off on a rant here.
Quick advert - I'm holding a training day on 1st Sept for parents/grandparents/anyone working with kids or thinking of doing so in the future. It's open to all. Email me or leave a note in the comments box for further info.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Now I've.....

..........joined Bebo. Oooh sucked in, fished in, I am.

Wonder if John will also be there!?! :-)(we said hello on Facebook. John knows half the world :::smile::::)

I am not going to manage to keep up with these social networks. Apparently I have been sent a map, a flower, a drawing and some grafitti on a wall by friends, but I can just manage to check my emails and glance at a few blogs!!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Thursday, August 16, 2007

How time flies.....

I can't believe I last posted here on the 5th of August.

Since then, I have finished the holiday club, hosted a packed out parents BBQ, enjoyed the celebratory and age old custom of The Holiday Club Service, complete with stuff and nonsense, helped in no small fashion over the week by this man and this man and countless others, been on holiday here for two days, then flew here (and back 24 hours later) to catch this man in concert.

It was truly awesome :::::sigh:::::: Highlights were the crowd of thousands singing his version of Amazing Grace unaccompanied and the standout "Indescribable". Plus meeting up with good friends for a wee drinkie and late night pizza and a most eventful trip with an exceedingly crazy taxi driver.

Then later that same day I took my son to school for the very first time. (Child no 1 sailed in an hour earlier without a backward glance, giving and receiving hugs from her friends!) I had a wee tear in my eye; he gripped my hand very tightly as we entered the classroom but settled with no bother at all as I left him with the other children and his new teacher.

Starting school is indeed a rite of passage. Not just for parents and carers who feel a little emotional but for me as a Christian it represents a "handing over" of a lot of influence on my child to other people. In some ways age 5 seems a very young age to do that but we must remember that we still have masses of time to input into our child; to impart our vision and values.

Our children begin more and more to make their own choices. Will I eat my sandwich or bin it? Will I play with him or her? Will I do what the teacher says or question it? This is an important time and I urge those with children at school to continue to pray for your child regularly; to do this with authority and urgency, not living in fear of the "what ifs" but to pray for their safekeeping and most importantly for the development of character and calling. I want my children to be strong and secure in who they are, not apologetic about their faith, but radical, different, eyes open for the unloved or unfortunate, tuned in to sense need, resistant to apathy and consumerism. And take heart dear friend! - it is possible - I already see a remarakable lack of "wanting" certain toys/items with my daughter. I know this may change, but I have tried to set in place the values which I want her to have - which I PRAY with faith that she will have.

I have heard of those who become very anxious about sending their child to what they may call the "enemy environment and oppression" of school - errrr, welcome to the world! We were never promised it would be easy. I'm a bit blase about this as I have obviously been on the inside of school and am in a position to celebrate the goodness in schools - strong friendships are built there, esteem is raised, a sense of teamwork is fostered....just for starters. WE HAVE THE MOST INFLUENCE though - this must always be remembered. What goes on at home is far, far more important than anything else. And this is scientifically proven - as teachers we have long since known this anecdotally but there is now a wealth of academic research on the web to back this up.
See, for example - http://www.specialistschools.org.uk/article.aspa?PageId=1320
or this from the Literacy Trust -
www.literacytrust.org.uk/familyreading/ParentalInvolvement.doc

Sermon over!
What are your views on Christian schools? Or homeschooling?

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Going very quiet........

......my internet connection at home has died. More specifically, my BT Voyager modem is not playing any more. Says its disconnected all the time when the wee lights are clearly ON and somebody is IN.

So I am sitting here in my office typing this. Pah. (Had things to pick up for the holiday club anyway). Or could I have deleted an .exe file when I was tidying up my desktop?? ::::::bites lip::::::

Also, I will mostly be offline this week as I have great fun Down the Nile with 130 children in a hypothetical Egypt. Can't wait - the band sound great, the drama team are splitting my sides, the messy games are..........messy..........and the team are great.

All sorts of folks are stepping in to help with all kinds of behind the scenes things, which I love. The army mobilises!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

5 things about having a preschooler......

Here are five things that I thought of tonight that celebrate life with a preschooler - for I only have two more weeks of life with a preschooler - and then both of my wee ones will be Big School Children. I keep expecting to become emotional about that; not so far; but then she who types this is the one who booked tickets to see Chris Tomlin in Belfast the night before Child # 2 undertakes that rite of passage that is The First Day of School. We'd have been over the ocean at 9am if it wasn't for a quick change of flight to the first plane out of N Ireland......

Anyway - here are five things that mark these last few weeks that will be forgotten about in a few years time, when my children hurtle towards the teen years; in fact, readers with older children will probably go "ah yes, I remember that"

5 things that mark out the preschooler years:-

* You've Been Framed on a Saturday night becomes a powerful weapon in "you will eat your dinner" battle.
* having to read Thomas The Tank Engine (dire stuff)
* five pairs of jammies a night whilst toilet training the male of the species
* ominous silence equating with worry (what are they up to?) or fear (are they still breathing?)
* snails provide hours of entertainment and enjoyment

What marks or marked out preschooler years for you?

Monday, July 30, 2007

Today I....

...............joined Facebook.

How cool am I?

(my friend Elaine in Australia invited me in)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Great Day


Just back from a wonderful wedding of friends, Adam and Chloe, here. (anyone recognise the town?)

It was a really special day, full of friends, hope and promise, and I wish them God's richest blessing on their lives together (tho' they won't be reading this; they have two hours in their hotel before checking in at the airport at 4am!!!)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Preparing for the beginning...

.....of 130 children for a week long holiday club, culminating in some silly stuff where we showcase the week's activity with a family BBQ and fun night. It's perhaps my most favourite part of the club as the children bring their parents along - last year we fed 328 people that evening with elastic hamburgers and sausages.....
I am blessed with a large team, and new this year - a support team. Wonderful!
In three years the numbers attending the club has doubled, which is a little scarey and exciting. We have no advertising now and the club is full by June 30th.

But I am always, always blessed and humbled by the way the church pulls together. I think that's why these kind of projects/missions (call it what you will - I like to think of it as KA - Kingdom Advancement) are so good for the church, because everyone can get involved in helping or praying, if they want to. Tonight someone was offering to paint traffic cones (a task even more horrific in my eyes than dusting), the guys who made the scenery last year came out to check it was all OK for me and the team before they go away, someone else is sending all the consent forms out for me, others are making icebreakers etc

My beamer-pal and sometime reader of this blog always puts together a great AV show which we use at the BBQ and the guest service, I know for a fact that it takes him hours to do....(this is why I continue to act daft around movie maker software - it's too hard!)

God placed children in families - deliberately - for me to reach their parents :-) Much as I love the children, I also love their families :-)

Very sadly, I heard of someone who now doesn't want their child to attend Christian holiday clubs because their child enjoyed themselves so much last year, was singing the songs for weeks, for example, and wanted to know more about God - and the parent could not answer their questions nor feed their spirituality. Back to the old Hay and Nye book on the Spirit of the Child - it needs nurture.

My only need is for an experienced sound engineer for one day - so if anyone reading this knows of someone who can help.......please do email me!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

I'm back

Back from Spanish holiday. Hope to blog about some of the more fascinating aspects of this trip, rather than the "went to beach, went to pool, siesta'd, went out for dinner" ....but first - a picture of some young ruffians by the pool.....



Major achievements of this holiday -
Numero 1.
Got 3/4 of the way through THREE books (plus one Heat, one Cosmo and one Reveal; that doesn't count; it was left behind by someone else on the 'plane)
The books are a major achievement; due to the children sleeping every afternoon for a couple of hours because we emulated the Spanish way of doing things and went out to eat very late.
Books were: Crow Road by Iain Banks (It has been discussed while I was away on another blog! I'm "of the moment" for once!!!)
Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell (hmmmm)
Captivating by John and Stacey Eldridge (double hmmm)

Major achievement number 2:
Managed to get into a medical emergency. Was snorkelling and got spiked by either an urchin or a fish with a prong - cue loads of blood and crying with pain as my foot went purple and throbbed with intense pain. (i.e. Something Was Toxic). The creu roja (lifeguards) looked and said "get thee to a hospital". Have you ever tried not to whimper in pain while your two children look aghast and determine the sea must be nasty and dangerous. Had to be tinnily upbeat about the wonders of the waves whilst wanting to sob like a...a....a....baby!


There ensued a rapid drive by hubby to hospital with me kind of going: "hurry up, hurry up, its so sore; labour wasn't this bad" in a town we didn't know where people didn't speak English, for which of course, I hold no malice. We chose Spain. We stopped to ask three pedestrians the way to the hospital and managed to make out from gesticulations that it was "along there, up there, then turn there".

Arrived at the hospital to be refused treatment (I presume, as I wasn't greeted with tender loving care) because ...well, I don't know why. A group of white coated individuals with pursed lips talked quickly in Spanish with many head tosses and cusses directed towards the Creu Roja who sent us there (could understand that bit). Maybe cos I didn't have a credit card with me? Drove back to beachside, found a lifeguard who spoke English, got directions to nearest "clinica" who then wouldn't treat me till I paid them, saw a doctor who couldn't speak English and - you'll love this - I'm having to charade what happened i.e. it wasn't a crab or lobster but something with a spine that pierced me and it must be poisonous - had to grab her pen and draw a bottle with a skull and crossbones on it....!!

I had private travel insurance but that was not acceptable and they wouldn't accept E111 card either.

GOD BLESS OUR NHS I really mean that. I gained a real appreciation of the service, care and free availability that we have in the UK.

Here's the best bit: after two hours from biting/spiking/poisoning; the pain disappeared completely and I was left with a tiny puncture wound. I had to grit my teeth and get straight back in the sea to show the kids there was nothing to be afraid of.

Major achievement number 3: We got into an altrecation (first ever on holiday!) with "El Presidente" - a retired English bloke who lived in the small community of houses and who took it upon himself to police the pool and the gated entrance. He told us and another "renter" family that armbands and rubber rings were not allowed as the Rules Said: No Inflatables.
Yet the Spanish families (the majority) seemed to swim with inflatable paraphanalia unhindered. I can't abide inequality and double standards like that so I kept out his way (just as well I wasn't there when he first spoke to Mr HIWWC about it; I'd have lost it probably) but Mr HIWWC did take exception to his unreasonable and intimidating request - and El Presidente replied: "I'll call the police and you can explain your law-breaking use of small plastic swimming aids down the local nick. Oh and translation will cost you 75 Euros an hour". This is seriously what he said. I struggled all fortnight with putting him high up on the plonker scale (can I say that?....just checked with dictionary.com, yes I can: person with Little or No Knowledge (of small children and swimming pools)As you can see I am walking in complete forgiveness in this area ::::grimace:::: .....I was daily reminding myself of what I try to teach and practise: forgiveness is releasing the other person into God's hands for him to deal with. Doesn't mean it's alright; doesn't mean you have to be best friends; just means you relinquish your desire for revenge.....

Major Achievement Number 4:
had more searches and belongings scrutinised than ever before. Hand luggage unpacked, searched and tested four times out of four (we would carry drinks for the children and electronic games for two flights lasting all day ::::::::sigh::::::::) Was also patted down twice. Can't help but concur with news report today that the tight regulations are not the best use of resources as thousands of innocent people are inconvenienced but I do not grudge any checks that are fairly applied across all ethnic groups.

Had a great time though.

And so......how have you spent the last two weeks?

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Page 161


Brodie has tagged everyone to take the book nearest to them that they have been reading, and type here the fifth full sentence on page 161.

Pretty cool idea!

He urges us not to pick up the book that we may feel is the coolest, but to pick up that which honestly reflects our current reading. OK then.

I was fairly serious when I mentioned Heat mag to another blogger :0) I'm on holiday!
If I'd gone for my copy of Cosmo it would have been worse as the quote would probably have been rude.

But that which is nearest me, and I have REALLY been reading it, is:
Scottish Geographical Education, Teachers, Texts and Trends (be still my beating heart, eh?)

page 161, 5th sentence reads:
Specific coverage of the Scottish Studies syllabus, examined in Paper 1 and worth 40% of the mark allocation, mainly come from two groups of books and related teaching material from the mid-1970s.

Anyone still there.............?

Friday, June 29, 2007

The Countdown......

Ach. Last week the dishwasher broke down. I actually had to don gloves and wash dishes. My second hate, after dusting.

This week the washing machine broke down and I had to pay an engineer to sign its death certificate. I've been a little peeved with this and with a situation hanging over me, where I spoke out on what I perceived as an unjust situation. You know how sometimes you wish you hadn't bothered? I don't feel like this!! 'nuff said.

My little boy also celebrated his last week in nursery with his biggest tantrum ever - all records were broken; the gloves were off. This consisted of: spitting in his sister's dinner, slamming doors, kicking the bath panel so it came off and drawing pictures in the bath by squirting my shampoo and conditioner everywhere (when he was supposed to be in Triple P's "quiet time". Well, he was quiet at that moment. Artistic naughtiness takes concentration) All in half an hour.

I put him to bed at 6.15pm

I've got over that now. He's not too bad either! Never mind, off to Valencia in 5 days time.

It's going to be a good weekend. We're going to spend the evening with good friends tomorrow who we've not hung out with for a while. On Saturday I'm getting my hair cut (always a high) and going to hear this man speak. Everyone I know is raving about Velvet Elvis, must get it for holiday reading. (if anyone wants a ticket for this event, email me as a friend has loads spare and he would like to get rid of them)

Please visit Still Small Voices if you have the chance as it's been great for me personally to see a wee comment exchange going. Feel its been revived a little. Thanks to my comrades on this project, Brodie and Stuart for re-igniting this.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

And the winner is......


Last week I invited readers to undertake a "Leap of Faith" challenge - see here for details.

I happen to know for a fact that many considered entering this competition but few managed to do so; such was the challenge of writing utter nonsense in the style of a knowledgeable commentator. However I am delighted to reveal two people who exhibit exceptional gifting in this area and they cleverly wove *complete mince* into their usual posts, errrrrrr, I mean into carefully constructed literary pieces:-
Well done Guacamole Girl for this entry and also to Gadgetvicar - both pieces are completely believable. I laughed and laughed when I read each of them.

A donation has been made to Positive Action in Housing's destitute asylum seeker fund in honour of the Wordsmith of the Hour, Gadgetvicar!

Your next challenge is to weave the words into a real, live, sermon..........!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Gently reminded.....come Spirit of God....


I was half watching the TV news tonight at 6, when what I saw caused me to fall on my knees to cry, and call out to God.

Did any of you see this story? In scenes reminiscent of Ceacescu's orphanages, US soldiers find two dozen boys tied to beds, lying in their own excrement, dying, while staff cooked in a kitchen next door, with well stocked cupboards of food clearly in view.

My heart broke and all I can do even now is cry out to God for the lives of these children. For them to be able to trust and love again. How stark ring the words in Lamentations 2:19
Arise, cry out in the night,
as the watches of the night begin;
pour out your heart like water
in the presence of the Lord.
Lift up your hands to him
for the lives of your children,
who faint from hunger
at the head of every street.



We have had the musician Godfrey Birtill visit our church a few times over the years; he has become a friend, and he has taught about "songs of lament" that are found in the Bible. He has written some for the church to sing too. He says, it's time for the church to sing songs of lament again for the state of the nations, to cry out prophetically to God for justice and mercy, for the freedom for the oppressed. I physically shivered with the majestic sense of God's presence the last time we sang this song. It echoes his heart, I think.

Lord turn Your footsteps towards these ruins
We need You here...We need You here...
Our homes are broken
Our children are stolen
We need You here...We need You here....

Our God and King...Ancient of days...
Alpha Omega, Jesus, Saviour
Work Your deliverance in this place.
Yours is the night...Yours is the day..
No-one is greater...come Lord save us!
Work Your deliverance in this place...

Lord turn Your footsteps towards these ruins
We need You here...We need You here...
In these streets filled with darkness
Our children fatherless
We need You here...We need You here...
Godfrey Birtill
© Whitefield Music UK

It's hard not to feel a sense of hopelessness. How long, O Lord? Till you come again and the Darfurs and Baghdads stop? I want to spend my life on things that matter in your eyes, Father.

I also felt convicted about previous comments I have made about the US involvement in Iraq. Whilst not all of my beliefs have changed, I felt the Spirit say to me as clear as day: " be grateful for those US soldiers who found the orphans - they showed kindness and compassion to those boys; did you see the gentle touch of their hands?; I sent them to save them from certain death".

So thank you, God, for gently taking my eyes UP and OUT instead of IN on ME.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Highs and lows

I'm not talking about pressure systems in the title of this post.

I am struggling a little just now to get everything done that I have to do and in particular to balance the demands of church work (which is all consuming as I prepare for the summer activities), family and personal time. It's got to that time of year where I really need a holiday. Two weeks today I am in Spain - thank you Lord!

This weekend I was physically in the church building from 9am Saturday till 1pm Sunday (apart from a sleep) and then back at 5.30 for a clear-out of kids ministry stuff (thanks to the wee team that helped me with that particular job! I feel so much better!) The all age service and annual prize giving had been brought forward a week to Sunday 17 June for reasons outwith my control leaving me with the most hectic weekend ever as I had already booked the team training day on Sat 16th! Despite all my attempts at smart planning, still too much ended up happening on one weekend!

Today I got my essay result. I worked really hard on it and, although I was heading in the right direction, my script was dotted with not the most positive statements "random", "weak" etc. There was the odd "good point" in there too. Someone once said we remember 99 negatives and forget the one positive statement. So true. I am not a natural theologian. I struggle with the depth of thought required in pure, not practical, theology. However, the one thing I really like about college is that there is a wide variety of classes and courses ....and after all I did pass this one and with some comfort - so I mustn't be too hard on myself!

On the positive note, I have an interview next week for a very part-time teaching job. I feel a real need to be in the secular workplace a little. (interestingly, see Graham's post today).

Monday, June 11, 2007

Anyone up for a challenge? There's a PRIZE!


A few weeks ago, I was telling a friend about one of my all-time favourite movies, Leap of Faith, starring Steve Martin. It's a fascinating film, on the face of it a comedy, but actually chock full of deep meaning, and particularly at the end when something unexplainable happens leaving Steve Martin contemplating the faith of others. Read this great review of the film here but please note the warning that "those who take religion seriously may be offended". Therefore recommendation of this film is highly suitable for those of us in this wee corner of blogland ::::chuckle:::::

Anyway, one of the best bits is when Steve, pretending to be an evangelist-cum-showman appears to exercise words of knowledge in an evening meeting (these are really bits and pieces of information that he is team and have picked up from townspeople in the days prior to the "revival meeting"). Check here for an example!

His partner in crime issues him with a challenge every night; to insert some random words or phrases into his "message" for the evening.

And so I bring you..........the Random words challenge
, courtesy of this website.

The challenge is to use one of the pairings of random words in a blog post, in a serious thread, over the next week or so. Following Brodie's excellent idea, the example that tickles me most will win a PRIZE.

So come on all you wordsmiths; there are four pairings to choose from. One of these pairings (only one, to make it subtle!) must be inserted seamlessly into a blog entry of yours in as normal a fashion as possible. Will anyone notice? :-)

Your choices:

nonjuring capriole
reboant mutagenesis
semipellucid aspasia
curule thurification

Deadline for prize winning: a week on Friday - 22 June 2007.

Friday, June 08, 2007

I've been tagged! How exciting!

I should actually be posting my photo-journal today but I am going to respond to Brodie's challenge to spill the beans on 7 things about me. I have been in the library for most of the day, and I took pictures to prove it, but they haven't come out! I think people around me thought I was a little....unusual....for photographing my desk. I've been reading various critiques of the Christus Victor theory of atonement so I have come to the conclusion that either God doesn't want me to post photies today or the cosmic battle ranging in the unseen realm has prevented the photos uploading..........

Anyway:
<<(1) a baby (2) beer (3) girls (4) time (5) dislikes (6) hobbies (7) tomorrow>>

1. What was I like as a baby? I was going to say "cute" but I'm not sure that's the first thing my mum would say! My response is "not alone" as 11 months after I was born I was joined by my brother. Mum, what were you thinking........!?!?!?

2. Beer - oh sweet memories. Early university days - cider drinker. Only in small amounts (cheap). Then between First and Second Year I went to work on an archaeological dig with the most cosmpolitan and interesting bunch of folks you could ever imagine and I was indoctrinated into the world of hard liquor - well, vodka and gin. Hence began my short period of being quite far away from God but it didn't last long as a deputation from my home (and current) church came to find me as they were "worried about me". This pastoral visit from a trusted bunch of friends resulted in me repenting and coming back to God - but still liking voddy to this day. Mmmmm, with ice. And in moderation :-)
Don't really like beer that much - except Rolling Rock. Does that count?

3. Boys - how much detail do I go into here? I can remember every one of my deeply held infatuations, though my first proper "last song" snog was at a Scout Disco, age 14. Don't remember anything else except what I was wearing !?!?!?!? (blue sailor dress, from What Every's). Longest crush (about 3 years) was on Richard Phillips, mad scientist-type guy in my class, now a puffin watcher on Antarctica (so Friends Reunited tells me). Oh, also on Adam Ant - Stuart Goddard - for about 3 years. I really did kiss the posters on my wall every night.

I also fell into the non-Christian/Christian boyfriend dilemma at University but made some right choices, hard though they seemed at the time. Then I went to the Orkneys and was swept off my feet for a few months by a Christian fisherman (you couldn't make this up).....before falling for my to-be husband at the ripe old age of....19....Yet I had gone out with him two years previously and chucked him round about the archaeological dig time! Those years are testament to the grace of God and my heart that yearned to be obedient, even if I didn't always manage it!

4. time - I hate being late. Since having children I can tend towards being 5 or 10 minutes late for personal appointments (not school or work) but I try to be on time and usually manage it.

5. dislikes - intolerance, unfairness, procrastination and inaction, coffee, high heels, dust.... but also dusting. Oh, and my own judgmentalism.

6. hobbies - 24! Cinema. Listening to a wide range of music (and used to be going to gigs; not so often now). Going out with friends - I spend a lot of time with friends from outwith church - phoning or emailing those who are scattered across the country, going out regularly with those who live near here. This is very important to me.

7. Tomorrow - during the day, everyone is leaving me so that I can finish my essay on the meaning of salvation. So I'm going to be alone ::::sob::::: and distracted, no doubt. However at night, I am cooking dinner for friends who are coming round. A lovely way to end Saturday.

Now I tag:

The Boy Likes Butteries

Talk Rhubarb
Wood Street Girl

Monday, June 04, 2007

Photo-journalling


Some of my esteemed blogging comrades - I shouldn't really I mention names - but this one, this one and this one, have got lots of cool and funky visuals on their blogs with personal "motifs" that tell us a little about them and their lives. We see dogs, vegetables, megaphones, cast iron maps of the River Clyde, voluminous shelves of books, hats, YouTube clips a-plenty, clustr maps and the like....and all I have on neanderthal blogger (WHY DO I HAVE TO LOG IN EVERY TIME when it says it will "REMEMBER ME". Clearly it doesn't.) is the odd wee picture here and there.

I thought I would record my day with photos tomorrow and have a photo journal (this will be a laugh as I have just realised that I am out all day at LOADS of places) so hopefully this will provide a bit of interest for the visual learners (like me)....

Hope I don't get arrested at some of the places I will be photographing......

Friday, June 01, 2007

Fun Weekend


Taking seventeen 10 and 11 year olds up north this weekend with a small team for teaching on the theme of "Awesome God" and of course the usual fun, games, crafts, dvd, popcorn, angels and mortals, teaching, worship, discussion........one weekend like this is worth - I am convinced - HUNDREDS of hours of "Sunday School" time, when children are perhaps hurried out of the service to be looked after a la IKEA creche mode, with things to watch/make/listen to/run about doing until the bell tolls at midday and their parents come to collect them, having had their spiritual fill....

I'm NOT being cynical, but isn't that a fair description of how we do children and church in many of our places now?

I want to push the boat out a little and teach these youngsters that they are "CHURCH" now - armed and dangerous warriors, whose life, witness, prayers and action can have effect NOW (and ooooooohhh I love it when we do all this all ages together........)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Great news! There's a party a-comin'....

June is my absolute busiest month in my job and if I think about it for too long I will start to get anxious (one day at a time thoughts work best with me)...
However I got the best news on Friday, after spending an hour with my mentor at college. I am part-way through a BA in Theology and expected I had years still to go......however, I only have two years to go!!! (I only started in 2005, mind you!)

4 classes next year plus an independent study module, then write up reflections on my job next summer(as my "placement") means I will be in the third and final year in 2008/09! And I have already completed two of the Level 3 Children's Ministry modules so I should manage that year in one go whilst still working part-time.

I am so chuffed. I thought I had ages to go. There is going to be the BIGGEST party when I graduate - so keep Saturdays free in July 2009!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Living as community


Since January I have been stirred by this quote by Bill Hybels. It sums up my love for, and delight in, the local church:

"There is nothing like the local church when it's working right. Its beauty is indescribable. Its power is breathtaking. Its potential is unlimited. It comforts the grieving and heals the broken in context of community".

I was moved to tears at a wonderful celebration lunch on Saturday hosted by one of our families who have, after 3 long years of struggle, won the right to remain in this country in safety. I cannot go into here what they have endured, suffice to say that TRULY God's hand has been upon them, even using them to save other lives during years of fighting in their homeland. They have raised the most beautiful, polite and gracious children.

The family hosted lunch (in a borrowed large house! - more blessing of the local church!) to thank people in the church for standing with them - and three churches in different parts of the UK were represented. We were all joined in our love for this family. Chief amongst the guests was a man who had laboured tirelessly as advocate, friend and helper, to the extent that he gave up his job to help our asylum seeking friends. When it seemed as though things could not get any worse a few months ago, these two friends felt the promises of God revealed to them as they looked at a moon obscured by clouds. They sensed God say the clouds would clear. They photographed that moment to remember what God had said. K was presented with a painting by an artist in the church who had captured that vision from God exactly in oil. He sobbed as he received it. We all did!

And also chief amongst the guests was the senior citizen from our church who, many years ago now, caught God's heart for asylum seekers; for the alien in our midst. She has cried tears over the years and loved these guys unconditionally day in and day out. She is nearer 80 than 70 years old. She spends her life daily caring for these families who are in desperate need of love and support, from every faith and none.

And this is what I love about the local church and the graphic and stirring example of community this weekend; that God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. (1 Cor 1:27-29)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Reflections on "up North"


I met some amazing people at the weekend. That kind of situation where you walk into a place and you feel totally at one with the others who are there. I always thought, when I heard people say this; that they were kind of kidding themselves - after all, we all have a natural suspicion of other people, don't we?

I enjoyed the drive up - singing my heart out to a very loud Ipod and beautiful scenery - and a lot of time to reflect on what I was going to be speaking on that day. As those who know me can testify, I am not an exegetical whizz kid, but I do have a heart to train and equip; and that's where my passion is. I hope I got that right on Saturday!

I had the opportunity to spend an hour with the team from the Healing Rooms before I spoke at the final training session - they were going off to pray for a while; I didn't know them; they didn't know me; but I asked if I could join them and honestly - it was amazing. God's presence swept over us. We sat (or knelt) in a small room mainly in silence, or praying quietly on our own, but it was like "We belong here with you Lord. We're family".

Precious moments.

It was a great day; I met folk from all over the north west coast and heard great stories of what God is doing all over these rural parts. Encouragement!

And so I'd like to ask: what is encouraging you these days?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Can't wait..............




Tomorrow a friend is lending me Series 5...............

I'm picking it up at 1000 hrs precisely....................

Still Small Voices


New post on Still Small Voices. Please do read it.


Please pray for a friend of mine and her children who face their final hearing before the High Court. She has given me permission to ask for prayer. She knows undeniably that her future is in the hands of almighty God.

Please believe me that her reasons for not wanting to return to her homeland are immense and all to do with her safety. She met Jesus in a remarkable, supernatural way. He saved her.

I have heard some people question how and what we should pray. How about:
- for mercy and justice to be meted out, which will result in.....
- a fair hearing
- for God's will to be done. This is not overly simplistic; this will mean that the
family continue to know God's peace.

I have never met anyone like her before. She is amazing.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Busy weekend

I don't think I have ever posted twice in one day.......

This is a busy weekend. Going to a party tonight for a special friend's 40th - he also happens to be getting his hair shaved off for charidee on Sunday afternoon - so all of us are saying its the last time we will get to touch his long flowing locks - and the best of it is that his father is our senior pastor and he will miss the de-fleecing as he's sunning himself in Greece somewhere!

Then tomorrow I am going up north at 0630 to be a speaker at one of these.

And on Monday away before 8 to speak at one of these groups in our capital city!
Oh my exciting life ::::::grin::::::::

Wrestling with.......

John Smulo has raised some interesting questions about the problem of evil. It is inextricably linked with sin. I've been thinking...... (dangerous activity for Lynn!) I went back to this video, which I watched a few weeks ago. Please allow yourself to be moved by it. Each life is precious.

Why do bad things happen to good people?
Why is there sin and suffering?
Why is Madeleine McCann missing?
What is going to happen to her?
Why are countless vulnerable people (the young, the elderly, the poor.....) suffering as I type this all around the world?

Am I so comfy that I can become immune?
Can I lose my edge....by allowing the devil, the world, the sin that is prevalent around me to take my focus off the one who brought me out of the kingdom of darkness into the glorious kingdom of his son?
Why do insignificant internalised events take up my time when there is a world that NEEDS TO KNOW about the love of God which rescued me. My Saviour.