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


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


The title of this post refers to the heavy duty convo taking place at mummy central today (i.e. Costa) 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:-

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


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.