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 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.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Praying for Maddy

We took the decision earlier in the week to talk to our children about the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. We do shield them from some news, but not all of the news and not all of the time. We discuss what we consider appropriate and how much detail we feel is best to give.

Last week we began by not having the news (TV/radio) on when stories of Madeleine's disappearance came on; but then we felt that our kids are deluged outside the home by pictures of Madeleine everywhere and there IS discussion amongst other children and in school too about the case. While we want our children to hold on to their childhood, we recognise that they live in the world and that they are capable of sensing the hurts and sadnesses of the world to which they are called.

In particular I recognise a desire and I would say a gifting on them both to pray for the things that are causing hurt to this world. I think they are picking up God's heart for situations. They possess compassion. On many occasions over the last three days, the younger one (aged 4) has called us to pray as a family for Maddy, such as when we sat down to breakfast this morning, and again at tea-time. His first response is to call out to God, rather than problem-solve. There are things to learn from little children.

We are crying out to God for this little girl and her family - as a family.
Lord, hear our prayer.

The secret of theology

Am voluntarily reading a book on the atonement - it's not even on the reading list or anything!?!?!? - by Steve Chalke. Got a Heat magazine here as well, but haven't picked it up (too much on the Beckhams. As if I'm interested!)

and I have now realised the Secret of Studying Theology.

1. speak using questions aka "good morning, class. Is it a good morning? What makes this a good morning?"
2. ask questions ALL the time "Is it time for morning break? At what time do we usually reconvene? How do you feel about coming back at 10.35am this morning?"
3. leave questions hanging tentatively in the air, with a sideways lean of your head and a smirk, I mean, smile on your face
4. use the phrase "ah, but..." a lot
5. use praise involving the word "question" such as "that's a good question"/ "well thought out question"/"interesting question"
6. gently correct using the word "question" i.e. "is that a valid question?"/ "unusual question" NB "Interesting question" can be used in this context too

This is SO different from my background in education. Teenagers want the ANSWERS. They want absolutes. They want FED information. I am in a culture warp, adjusting from information provider to novice thinker. For the first few weeks of this class I wanted to grab my lecturer by the lapels and growl "just tell me the answers, man!" but he's hooked me in; drawn my attention, drugged me into thinking deeper, examining assumptions I had always made; auditing other views; causing me to re-examine the basic tenets of my faith. An amazingly skilled man indeed. Not a lot makes me almost 100% silent for 3 hours.

I recognise excellent learning and teaching approaches practised too. At the start of the class, he explains where we're going. He recaps and summarises so that we start with what we already know. {A la...ascertain what a child knows and teach him accordingly} He picks up on inaccurate learning or incorrect terminology/categorising and corrects it within the context of an "ordinary" class.

I'm very glad to be doing this class at this moment in time.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Within the circle

Here's a picture of my IKEA-sponsored joined up candle-Trinity:

I made this - with a little help from my friends - a few weeks back for an all age service. We remembered the widow, the orphan and the alien in our midst and people who wished to do so came out to the front of the church and received prayer and one of these candles to signify that they were part of us; part of the body of Christ.

I'd been meaning to post this picture for ages - the candles are all linked together at the base - and I felt it was a significant picture for our fellowship, which over the last 20 years or so has become more and more ethnically and socially mixed; which we could never have foreseen!

I've got a real thing about how we sit when we go into groups. Like my slight edginess around swinging on chairs and gum-chewing; not forming a circle to discuss together gets to me. It's a teacher thing - like Paul's "thorn in his flesh"!

Aside from not being able to hear or see everyone in the circle, the body language of having a wavy or straight line instead of a circle makes me think of little islands; separateness; voluntary exclusion. Children are very sensitive about being even slightly outside a circle. They feel they don't belong or aren't part. And so to link to the picture posted above - I have always love the celtic symbol of the Trinity; not just three circles, but interlinked; interdependent and mutually inclusive.

Friday, May 04, 2007

First reflections......

I posted the following comment on Stuart's blog about the Scottish elections but I want to reiterate the fact here.

Readers of this blog from outwith Scotland may not be aware that we still don't know which party has gained the majority of seats in the Scottish Parliament and its now 1pm. There have been problems with the electonic counting and with the number of spoiled ballot papers. This term in itself is misleading; it has now been revealed that the papers are not spoiled as such - but the voter's intention is not clear; they have not used numbers on the council elections (Single Transferable Vote System) and used crosses instead, or on the list paper (Additional Member System - one cross required), they have used numbers. Confusing, eh? Specially when the straightforward First Past The Post constituency vote and the proportional representation list vote are on the same paper....

I don't intend to comment on the data reader system, because I don't think that's the main issue. For me the number of rejected ballot papers has been of great concern. You'll have noticed that in some cases the number of rejected papers is greater than the majority (in my own constituency, for example)

I think Margaret will agree with me; the level of literacy and on-paper spacial awareness required to take in the instructions AND the choices on the ballot paper was very great. I thought Alex Salmond was very smart to have himself listed alphabetically first on the list paper as studies on research methods show that the eye is drawn to the top and the bottom of long lists; so if there is too much information to take in, there's more chance of you plonking your cross at the top or bottom of the list. Read more about it here

And for the non-reader or poor reader; the party logo pictures were too small. I met someone I know on the way out from the polling station and they said they got their 8 year old son to choose for them............

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Good day

Today I took part in probably the best team meeting in the world - ever (to me, anyway).
We had time to sit and discuss my new favourite theological subject - children and God - for an hour, listening to each other, discussing scriptural interpretations, highlighting our particular thoughts in the light of our denominational context and it was very helpful, and enjoyable, and encouraging.

Imagine if I had said "let's team hug!" at the end. Ahhh, who ever let women go on pastoral teams? ::::::::::chortle:::::::::

Have enjoyed a long, child-free wander round my local supermarket tonight too. I actually find that very therapeutic, even if I had gone solely to buy 32 boxes of Quality Street and 6 bubble machines (don't ask).

Another favourite thing of mine happened today - going to vote.
I love the sense of responsibility, the busyness of the polling station, the sense of anticipation, the canvassers at the door and the sense of satisfaction when you leave the polling station - I've played my part in a democracy! Plus it was a beautiful evening to walk through the park to the polling station.

I voted for the person who I felt had the most integrity; whom I felt I could talk to about matters that concern me. It's going to be interesting to watch the results - only 800 odd votes separated the SNP and Labour in the last Scottish election in my constituency.

So I am up to the wee sma' hours tonight and then a long lie tomorrow (kids away to grandma's!!)