Monday, December 29, 2008

HIghlights of 2008

HT to BrunetteKoala for this:

Ten good things that happened this year…

1. I passed all of my 2007-08 college assignments. I also managed to get an 8000 word extended placement report and research paper done even though it took some 4 a.m.-ers which is ridiculous at my age with a family, a job and a social life as well as an academic life. What was I thinking when I started this degree, I wondered to myself!

2. Without going into detail, this year I have been so encouraged by individuals who have taken time to speak or write to me to give me specific encouragement. I never seek to do things in my job to please people or make them think well of me, I simply try the best I can to please my heavenly Father. Before anyone reading this thinks I am some sort of saint (as if!) I muck it up, I fail often, I criticise, I get grumpy or sad and I have to come back to him and to others again and again and say sorry. It's been a year of tremendous difficulties and yet tremendous encouragement. Ain't that just like God? :-)

3. God's provided for all our needs and more, including some very special gifts.

4. Going to Toronto to TACF for (my) third Families conference was just amazing. I was there once again to receive as much input as possible - teaching, prayer, advice and time. Got to spend quality time with the children's pastors at their home. I value and love them loads. To spend time with folks who do exactly the same job as you (although on a much larger scale!) is fantastic. This trip was rounded off with some quality family time in a rural cottage on Lake Huron.


5. I've stepped out into a new job into a new staff team I knew almost nothing about. But they are the most awesome group of people; sometimes I almost rub my eyes in disbelief that I'm actually here. I am growing to love them very, very much in just for short months.

6. My children have been a source of joy - they are growing up fast but yet are holding on to a childlike-ness in the right measure, particularly with regard to the move that has taken place. They have trusted implicitly that to be with mum and dad and with Father God directing everything that happens is by far the very best thing to happen to them, even when they are missing their grandparents, friends and old school. I love them to bits and am so blessed by how easy they are to be with. I am so grateful for the very close friends they have made here already.

7. The holiday club has undoubtedly been a highlight of the year. This happened during my last week on staff in my previous church. It felt like it was the best club ever. I think there were lots of reasons for this; not least of all because of the TREMENDOUS team and my right hand woman who assisted me in every way, Guacamole Girl, but because there was such a sense of God's presence - perhaps some reading this may recall the Monday morning when two of the elders came to pray with the team and then the last morning, the Friday, when we stood together as a team before God for one last time.....many children experienced God's love and healing power throughout the week.

8. The camping trip with my dear friends from the Costa squad (aka mums' playground gang) - so good to go away and do something completely different without it raining!!

9. Spring Harvest at Skeggy - again, "working hard" with several hundred 5s to 7s(really. It's a long day!) but being with our Powerpack friends, Nick and Kath, Heather, Chris......
It's an area of service that our whole family are involved in and this year our very good friends, the Merries, came with us to be on team too.

10. Spending time with some dear friends who travelled some distances to stay with us - you spoke such wise words to us - Kath and Nick, Gillian and George, various Carruthers in different combinations....! Love you, love you, love you <3

High point of 2008:
The Move. High, but didn't always feel it. Scary, yes. Challenging, yes. Life-changing - yes!!

Low point of 2008:
1. 8 June 2008 - the day I told my church I was leaving to serve in another. Audible gasp. Loads of tears. I cried a lot the day before (whilst watching Chris Tomlin on GodTV play at Frenzy) and on and off the next afternoon and evening. As did my husband. This was not a girl thing!
Why so upset? Because it was leaving family to step into the unknown in so many ways yet out of a deep conviction that it was a call from God to take all we had learned in our wonderful upbringing in our previous church (a) somewhere else and (b) so that we could be unrooted and disorientated to allow him to build something very new and beautiful in our lives and hopefully in others lives....

2. the month of November. Lots of stresses came to a head.

3. I was saddened by what felt like some untimely deaths this year...dear Elma in January, my 35 year old penfriend Gwyn in April and Ted Herbert in September.

Person of 2008:
Like BK, I can't really pick just one. Given the turmoil of leaving somewhere we have known our whole lives long to move somewhere new, my friends have been OUTSTANDING = every one of them, one after another.....we have been blown away by the messages of love and support that come still even tonight, 5 months after we moved away. We feel incredibly, incredibly loved and humbled and privileged that they care for us so much. If I experience ten percent of that in this new place, I will be blessed indeed.

Best film you saw this year:
Australia (got to say that as I saw it yesterday). So challenging and emotional on so many fronts - racism, stolen generations, the realities of war, love and romance, a child's future, the value of culture and custom ....

Best book you read:
The Shack - read in almost one go. Moving, thought provoking, revealing the heart of the Father.

Best sporting moment:
Watching the Olympic race where Usain Bolt won the 100m in *stunning* fashion....reminded me of a leaping springtime lamb!

What you are looking forward to most in 2009
Being able to have a permanent residence in this new city (we are living out of literal suitcases in temporary rented accommodation)

Thing you will miss least about 2008
Financial stress.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

still here....

Oh. my.

tomorrow it will be a fortnight since I last posted.
I am still here! Just been so so so busy....just not had the will to blog!

Some snapshots from the month of December -
I've been - Brian McLarening - pouring forth on an afternoon on theology and children at a denominational training conference - struggling with housing concerns - out on trips - bowling with marvellous primary sixes and sevens and taking over warehouses of soft play with 80 younger primary children - trying hard not to over-do Christmas - catering for 9 year olds (daughter's birthday tomorrow) - arranging nationally significant child protection training - pastoral visiting a number of families which has taken up some evenings - planning and preparing for 4 services with SP....everyone loves a Children and Family Pastor at Christmas - have been stressing at not writing Christmas cards; stressing about the essay I have to write; the magazine article I said I would do and the research paper that I kinda shoulda begun (I blame Calvin. I picked up a commentary on Joel and nearly passed out when I read something in it. More about that another time) - meeting with denominational core leader about the future of children's ministry blah de blah

None of that includes my regular stuff - communicating with volunteers as I have quite a lot of new stuff coming up in January and a lot of folks needing drawn in tighter toghether in their respective teams. Plus admin that's suffocating me. Bleuuggh. Pauline - I love you!!! [some readers will understand that reference from days gone by!

You get the drift. It's been a busy month. Doing all age service with a nativity cast of *lots* tomorrow, an increased wattage on the illumination front (your light has COME (flip that switch!!) and several cracking visual clips (why do I choose such challenges....????)

Had to do severe speaking to self this morning. Feeling quite sad and I really shouldn't be. God's been so good to us this past week. Psalms are made for moments such as those. Being sociable in a new city at this time of year requires such effort and the longing to go back to the old place is stronger just now....plus I'm missing my green leather sofa (in the unsold, un-let house) so much. Then you realise how ridiculous that sounds and you get cross at yourself. In the getting cross at yourself, (and at others) sadness follows. And THAT'S when I need to open up the Bible and get some truth in......if you have a moment, please pray that I stick so close to those precious promises.

Thank you!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Children - an issue?


I read this (below) on a large church website today (ON ANOTHER CONTINENT - guess which one!) and it's making me very annoyed. It's part of a FAQ section on "joining small groups":
Is there childcare available?
Every group deals with this issue in its own way. Some of the groups go in together and make arrangements for a babysitter or take turns watching the children. Other groups require each participant to make their own arrangements.

Am I over-reacting to the use of the words "every group deals with this issue in its own way?"
Are children "an issue?"
Are they an inconvenience to how we "do church"?
Do they - annoyingly - require looking after in order that we may grow spiritually or make connections with other adults?
Is it not possible to make connections with other adults and grow spiritually when we have children with us?
Must we, the church, be childcare providers for those who come along to have their needs satisfied?

I'm VERY concerned about the Western cultural context which pushes children to the outside. We seem to place more value on material fulfillment, good money coming in to the home etc; than on fulfilling the spiritual needs of our families. I hope to post in the next few days on spiritual formation, which is what this blog has banged on about since its very first day.

I have said it before on this blog but I'm gonna say it again [...someone I respect hugely told me blogs were mainly full of hot air; with the same old thing being said over and over again. I'd like to prove his point]........we are not so different from Greco-Roman culture today - children are sometimes persona non grata in the church - send 'em off for education in their separate groups and let us debate and talk with our peers at the areopagus.

Then we'll go home from church, get our kids to watch a DVD so we can put our feet up, then later have a quick game of Wii sports with our child and tuck him/her up into bed. Perhaps I sound cynical. I like to think I am being honest as I have done all of the above!! Please note that I am not against DVD watching and game playing. I used this as an example only to prove the point that our busy lives spill over into the realm of our own spiritual development and that of our children's - we can't cope with our lives without things to distract our children and babysitters to help us enjoy fellowship. I walk the narrow path on this one and I have to be honest and humble about this.

However, I see a difference from sticking a DVD on to get some peace and quiet post-church, with getting together with other families where all might eat together, adults and children chat then adults chat and children go off to play together, using their imaginations or some creativity....this allows the development of social skills, being in community and also gives us some down-time from the hard task of raising children, for it is not always easy. But lots of families find getting out and going to church tiring and prefer to eat lunch and chill after church, rather than have their house messed up and their children running around in a gang of 4/6/8 getting excited.

Here are some of the things the Bible says about children:

• Children are a gift from God – God gives them to adults as a special sign of His love to us and as a means of personal fulfilment (Deut 7:13, Ps 127:3)

• Adults receive special blessings through their children. (Num 5:28, Deut 28:4, 11, Lam 4:2)

• Children are desirable. (Gen 9:7, Deut 6:3)

• To have a fruitful relationship with God, children must be taught to obey Him. (Prov 8:32, 19:26)

• Children are so valuable to God that He commands us to protect them (1Sam 20:42, Ezra 8:21)

• God wants to have a genuine relationship with His children – He describes how children may enter His presence and enjoy His company (Ps 8:2, 34:11, 103:13, Mal 2:15, Matt 21:15, Mark 10:13-16)

• God loves children enough to ensure they receive discipline. It is a reflection of His passion for a child’s well being.

. God enjoys the nature and personality of children – attributes such as sincerity, humility, naïveté, vulnerability and simplicity. He treasures these characteristics (Matt 18:3, 19:14, Phil 2:15)

. Children were so special that the Lord Jesus rebuked his closest friends when they stopped parents bringing their children to him to have him bless them.
He brought a child into the very centre and said "let the little children come to me, do not hinder them for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these."

Later this week I am going to post some personal thoughts and practices that I have led as a children and family pastor which counter this trend of "children at the edge". But be warned, it's not a simple list of "do this and do that" - reading it may cause some folks to freak out!

I led a seminar on this very issue to a truck-load of pastors. Lots of grey hair and splendid sweaters. And shaking heads as I spoke. Most unnerving. Or recently I went to speak at Another Church's training day and asked innocent questions about their leadership's view of children. Seemed to cause a bit of bother but in a good way (if that makes sense).

To tackle this head on is to be counter-cultural. Dare I say even - subversive???

if this post interestes you, please also see: children and family - a theological overview (my own!)

Friday, December 05, 2008

A Day in the Life of A Children's Pastor

Of course, this bears absolutely no relevance to anything at all to that experienced UK kids pastors/workers!?!?

(I am very grateful to the staff team and a lot of other people who help me as we share loads of stuff out together)


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Blog Comments Day

Thanks to John Smulo (and if you've never checked out his blog, please do so, its immense!) for bringing Blog Comment Day into being.

In the meantime I am somewhat dazed. Stayed up far too late, woke up with a spring in my step and then a slide on the ice into a brainstorming/vision casting meeting on children and family ministry at denominational headquarters AND a final Doctrines exam today.

(yeaa haaa, no more, ever, ever again!!)

Exams ON doctrines, that is. Not doctrines themselves. Like now I can teach properly (!!!)

So when I get back tonight I'm going to go c-r-a-a-a-a-z-z--y and comment on a few more unknown to me (as yet) blogs.

Happy conversations! Please do leave me a comment or even consider becoming a Follower ....sounds cult-like, eh?

Monday, December 01, 2008

Hopeful Imagination

Blogging here today.
Advent has begun.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

New Gadget

I've just added a new gadget to this blog - blog followers.
(see very bottom of the page - you gotta scroll right down there \/)4
I've just discovered there is a benefit to doing this; like an RSS feed; on your blogger homepage all the updates to the blogs you're following are shown in the one place.

I know there are people who follow this blog - I see your locations, Mr/Ms Milton Keynes, Ms/Mr Fauldhouse, Ms/Mr Perth, Mr/Ms Bayern, Leeds, London, Livingston.....

At the very least, please do consider leaving a comment on Blog Comment Day, Wednesday 3 December....
Would be great to welcome a few more regulars onboard.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Ten Things I Love Beginning with "M"

Over at Get Out of Jail Free, Annedroid assigned me the letter "M" to particpate in a meme that looks fun. I am going to attempt to blog about Ten Things I Love beginning with "M"......

1. Is My Mum. She's patient, tolerant, totally dependable (if I needed her for anything, even though I am now not a wee girl, she would come) and I do love her to bits (though she does talk about the weather a lot when I phone her, which drives me daft) I wonder if that'll be me in 25 years time....
hello Lynn, my washing's drying awfae well in the sun, stiff breeze blowing...how are you? how are the kids? My word, it was cold last night. Did you feel the chill in the air when you went out first thing? Ah, you got a new car? They say it's going to rain later on.....

2. Mountains
Here's a picture of one of my favourites - Buachaille Etive Mhor. The picture is(c) to John Arthey images - thanks for the permission!



I walk round them rather than up them (shall leave that to Mr Smelly Socks and Gaiters, aka That Hideous Man) and this is in part due to my previous life as a full time Geography teacher. Once a field-sketcher, always a field-sketcher. The topography of our mountains is fascinating. The results of ice action and subsequent weathering over the last 10,000years has left us magnificent mountains. Dream on, oh great Alps, stand and shiver, Himalayas. We may be pint sized but our mountains are magic! A dream day out for me is paddling my feet in a plunge pool at the foot of a Scottish mountain. I have spent many happy hours in Glen Etive.....gazing wistfully....time to move on.

3. I love Maltesers. Quite simply - mmmmm. Eat one whilst having a hot cup of tea. Melts in the mouth.









4. I love melon. It has to be my most favourite fruit. You eat it and afterwards it feels like you have had a good drink. And all children, everywhere, eat it. Unless they are allergic to it.

5. I really like Meeting People (had I typed Meeting Men I'd have been in deep trouble. I actually wanted to make "Men" one of the ten things but I'd spend months protesting my innocence). I just love how different we all are; how no two human beings are exactly the same but how enjoyable it is to spend time with other human beings, talking, laughing, drinking coffee or wine, sharing food, watching Jack Bauer on 24 :::smile:::: I love how God made us for interaction. I love how part of the pleasure of having friends is finding out what makes each other tick and creating and sharing common experiences to make that grow.

6. I absolutely LOVE Me-time, which seems to come in complete contrast to number 5 above. When I am not at work I am cooking or washing or cleaning, OK, scrub that one, I don't really clean (dust!! bleughh) but I do tidy up, or going over homework or repacking school bags or sorting out bills. I have a very lovely husband who dusts and does the bathroom and supports me in indescribable ways (we make a good team) and allows me Me-time occasionally: to go for a facial (clearly its time for another: I got a very large spot last week) or to lie in a little bit on a Saturday or to read a Heat magazine. Love people, also love little bits of Me-time.

7. I love Miracles. I long for miracles. I've been privileged to see miracles. The most recent is a friend who has seen three tumours disappear and this has been medically substantiated. A terminal diagnosis has been reversed by her consultant. Stories like this make me long to see more - I struggle with the "now" and "not yet" of the kingdom of God but every bit of me is crying out for more of the things that Jesus did. Another miracle that I see often is a transformed life; a new sense of purpose, a walk with Jesus when before there was a life lived alone.
Want to recommend a book at this point: Heidi Baker's The Hungry Always Get Fed: A Year of Miracles



8. I love two more M's. For reasons of confidentiality I can't use their names. They are two whole sets of families in two different cities who love my family unreservedly and we love them back, every one of them i.e. not just the mum and dad. They are incredibly important to us and actually, I don't know where we would be right now without their love and support. I hasten to add that we have many families and couples who offer us such love and support; we are deepy blessed with very good friends in a number of places round the country, but this post happens to select some letter Ms....

9. I love Magazines. The more pictures the better.
I think this is because I often engage with heavy-duty reading, I like to switch off with something that doesn't smell musty, have small print and comes with a burgundy hard cover. Regular readers of my blog will know I love Heat. And I don't buy it every week!! Only about once a month (the content doesn't change that much. X Factor, Allan Carr, Russell Brand and Kate Moss just about covers it). I've had to watch where I put Cosmo (which I only get occasionally) as my 8 year old daughter asked her father last week about the lady who slept with 54 men, wasn't she awfully tired?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Canvas

I have asked permission from Lucy to post this poem of hers. Lucy has published an anthology of her poems, "Fragile World", which she put together in order to raise money for women in Darfur who have suffered horrific abuse, almost unseen by the eyes of the outside world.

I love this poem.

Come with me, be one tiny streak of brilliant white rather than choosing a safe passage to mediocrity.

Canvas

inspire me
do not leave me
in my world
of waste,
the place
where I crawl
inside my own
apathy.

strengthen me.
do not let me give in
to the voices
which say:
forget
what you do -
you will never change
the world.

remind me.
that on a canvas
composed
entirely of black,
one tiny streak
of brilliant white
can change the whole
picture.

(c) Lucy Mills

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Children Under Attack - Sign the Petition

If my last post moved you in any way, please consider signing the online petition here. The aim is to get 2,000 signatures and its up to 1400 now. Promise the next post will be a cheery one......!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ashamed to be a called a Christian


I am ashamed to be called a Christian tonight.

Strong words indeed.

Please check this out

It is, quite simply, one of the most painful things I have ever had to watch on TV. And I know it is not fictional reporting. Trainers from this organisation have told me of similar things.

I wept and wept.

There are really no words of my own to explain how I feel about what I saw. The pain and misery on a child's face as a man, face full of hate, on camera, tells her he is going to machete her. She is about 6 years old.

Lord, Lord forgive us. Church, cry out a lament that such things happen in our name.
Liberty Films "End of the Wicked" is used as propaganda from village to village to turn adults against children "scream through the night; show signs of fever or a tendency towards ill health". This means, they claim, that they are witches. Pastors teach this as truth to be actioned. Children are tortured and killed. They are separated from their parents and abandoned, or worse. What must go through the child's mind as this harm is done to them?

In truth, the only comfort I find just now is in the words of Jesus in Matthew 18:
verse 10 "See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven."


and in Lamentations 2:19 - a reminder that the Lord hears our cries in prayer for the abandoned children:
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.


Consider writing to the Nigerian government to complain. According to the documentary, no pastors have been imprisoned for inciting child abuse, as yet.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Vision

My church family, hunnerds of them, is gathering around a vision meal tomorrow.

Vision is absolutely essential. Communicating it is a rare gift which my SP possesses in abundance.

My take on "vision casting" , from my little bit of experience, is that getting people to let go of their own ideas of what is best is the hardest bit of all. We like our ideas, thank you very much! They have been with us a long time! I'm no exception to this.

My prayer this week is simply for open hands; a loose grip on the things that we perceive dear and a heart to bless others. To speak blessing over "signs of life" and to resist the urge to go "hmmmm" because it looks and feels different. I've done it and I freely confess my own lack of immunity!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

my week

Hello dear blog

Realised I haven't posted any sort of update on the denominational conference. That's mainly because it's been a testing week - not insurmountably difficult because of the way people around us have pulled round us - but not an easy one.

My seminar at this went well; it was packed out and I was delighted that so many pastors and leaders were present, including Mark Greene of the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity.

My friend and colleague had a tremendous turnout at her seminar the next day, c'mon the women :-) :-)

On Sunday it was the all age service - I meant to take a photo of the tremendously awesome banquetting table (but I forgot). I really enjoyed the worship and doing the teaching but I was too long :-(

Felt disappointed with this on Monday morning. Why do we always remember the negative and not the positive? Some of the reasons for being too long were under my control i.e. it was my mouth, not anyone else's, and one or two of them weren't.

On Monday I lost all my keys (and got into fear about telling the office manager)
On Tuesday I crashed the car
On Wednesday I was late for my Moltmann class due to the above and also things house-wise came to a financial head and
On Thursday God answered a crisis prayer
On Friday the courtesy car I thought I was getting was withdrawn as I was told the car was a write off
Tomorrow (Saturday) I am heading North to do some teaching and training on faith development and disruptive children.
On Sunday I repeat the all age service with the 9.30 congregation

Promise to write more next week.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Humour, Seminars and All Age Services

I'm off to our annual denominational conference tomorrow. I would be relaxed about it as I will get to catch up with lots of friends who will be there but I will be slightly nervous on Day one as I am leading a seminar on discipling children and families new to faith.

Hmmm.

I've been trying to guess - how many people will be there? - do I have enough packs of information made up? - will I hit the mark in terms of what information people are looking for? - am I going to be explaining something that makes me look like I'm wired to the moon ("space cadet")? or will I be teaching something that is far too basic? Dear reader, I just don't know. I'll update you.

I've got a big day on Sunday as well. I've organised an all age service in my new place and I am teaching on the parable of the wedding feast as well. Ah. Senior Pastor is away somewhere. So if I make a horrible mistake with something.....?? (I might get away with it? 'cept its recorded)

I'm tempted to play the Hidden Word game sometime. If you don't know what that is then I can't tell you - watch the film Leap of Faith and listen out for "aluminum sidings". But I had the utmost respect for a friend who responded to this challenge almost exactly one year ago and totally pulled it off.

Does God have a sense of humour? This was the subject of devotions at college this week. Watch this and see what you think.........but laughter is infectious - and made by God to be so!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Mid term break










We returned on Friday from 5 days in rural Perthshire. It was beautiful.

Highlights
- the wee boy learned to ride his bike and managed a fair distance to the village (as he can't do the brakes yet this included squealing at high volumes when minor hills were traversed)
- laughing, chatting and sharing food with our good friends D and M, who now pastor a Baptist Church near where we were staying
- spending lots of time with a lovely family from our new church who were staying next door to us
- swimming every day
- not getting up before 9am every day
- plenty of time to think, pray, talk and reflect - particularly about our future with regard to housing

Thanks Father for holidays and friends.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Great evening

Tonight has been one of the best nights out since I arrived in this new city.

Started off at a Worship Central event and ended up in my favourite pub (so far in my 8 week adventure in this new place) with mountains of friends all around, in the kind of wee booths where you could chat to people (a sure sign I am getting old)

The event itself was great. Tim Hughes and Al Gordon are not only sensitive and skilled musicians and worship leaders, but they also have an ability to teach right into the heart of issues that affect worship leaders and worshippers. They teach into a specialised area as guys who are living it.

Lots of my friends from my last church came for drinks with quite a few from my new church and it was great for me to see people chatting. It felt quite emotional for me; knowing that two teams of people were there; one with whom I had shared life for years and years; who knew me; who know my heart; who would do anything to help me; who I love so, so dearly and still acutely miss .....

......and also the new friends; with whom I am shyly falling in love with; into community with; where as each day passes the insecurity of "how do I fit?" "am I supposed to be here, really?", "what can I bring?"; "why on earth did they want me to come here?" is lessening each day as I am loved into life here for who I am. They've seen me in tears; they've seen me frustrated to the eyeballs (16 rotas!?!?!?!?); they've seen me miserably homesick and incredibly alone in the midst of a busy church; they have seen me as a moany cow too.

Where do I belong? Here.
Should I go back to my old church? No. Door's closed, shop's shut.
Will I ever forget the children, teams, families, clubs in my old church? Never.
I learned so much, grew so much, received SO MUCH and now it's time to sow it elsewhere.

Lord Jesus, I commit myself afresh to this task to serve my new family.
Thanks for what I saw tonight.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Stuff coming up




Trying to set a record for my shortest ever blog postings. That was two in a row down there \/

Got a lot coming up but thankfully I have a few days off next week to head to That Hideous Man Country. I can see this is going to be one of the fastest passing (school)terms, like last January to June was (work, exams, research papers, Major Life Decisions)

Studying third year level belief and thought, Christology, on a Wednesday which involves me setting off v early in the morning once a week to travel to college, having dropped my kids off with one of my new friends here (don't know what I would do without her as I would not be able to finish this degree). The institution has moved to two semesters therefore the courses are now 15 credits long instead of 10 .....I will find this hard. Foolishly perhaps I am undertaking a 15 credit research paper on children and the Holy Spirit; far too wide a title I know but I will hone it down once I have constructed an indicative bibliography. Hah!

I am holding a repeat of the September Envisioning Day and this time I have a couple of folks from other churches coming, along with what may be a goodly number from my new place. I did enjoy presenting the last day; it really is a great privilege to talk about something I am passionate about and I like to build in time to worship and pray on these kind of days, and vary the presentation style to take account of learning styles, so there was probably something for everyone there. I think we ended that last day with a very powerful sense of God's presence; his committment to us as we committed to love kids and see them the way he does. He was so ready to take our way our guilt for the times we are awful parents or impatient carers and no-one was to go home feeling bad about themselves. I love it when that sense of "Father" being very present takes away all sense of having to perform and "do better".

Tomorrow I really have to organise the material for a seminar I am presenting at my denomination's annual conference. Was kind of hoping to use a Tubesucked clip but I've been asked to make sure I have copyright - does anyone know if its OK to show something that was on free-to-air terrestrial TV? I'm sure the answer is probably no as we have become so litigious. I'm tempted to work on the principle that it's better to seek forgiveness than to ask permission.

I am glad to say that this week has been much better. Communication has been great as we are all learning what it is to stretch and fit into becoming a new team. I've not felt as unsettled as I did last week as I feel this unmistakeable sense of God saying "it's going to be OK at work". Does that sound too simplistic? Perhaps. But I managed to get a bit of time on Saturday night and Sunday night to really talk to him about it and just wait on him in the quiet and as a result I felt something "shifted". But I'm not perfect. There are stresses around our personal circumstances in being here. I have been worrying about money a bit and this affected me one evening.

The men around me (work and home) seem to be sniffing and croaking for Britain with the dreaded man flu so we have had a good laugh in the office with this clip:-

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Vaccination for HPV virus and pre-teen/teenage girls

This vaccination is being rolled out in Scotland before the rest of the UK (reminds me of the Poll Tax in 1986) - if you have daughters, read this blogger's account of an incredible violation of their and their daughter's rights (scroll down the page a little)

Friday, October 10, 2008

the week that was

It's not been a great week.
Every meeting bar one (fun ones, helpful ones) that I thought I would be having has not happened - for a whole variety of reasons (not all negative ones). I've felt frustrated and unsure of how I proceed with some stuff this week.

Praying that next week will be better.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Another week begins....

I can't believe its October already. We've got a house we need to sell this autumn! Prayers VERY much appreciated in this regard.

I'm continuing to adjust and I think this blog is going to become a little inward-lookng and narcissitic (? is that a word?) if I say much more about life in a new city. I'm constantly right on the edge of not feeling like I belong, missing friends so painfully, but at the same time burning with excitement about the new things beginning here.

I was at the Global Leadership Summit on Friday and Saturday and got a lot from it once again this year. The two talks I found most stirring (and that I can't get out of my head) were by Gary Haugen on Courageous Leadership and Craig Groeschel of lifechurch.tv, on Finding IT

Gary Haugen heads up the International Justice Mission. Absolutely breath-taking stuff - investigating injustices (wrongful imprisonment, for example); swooping in to literally free slaves from backbreaking employment, and release children from prostitution and trafficking rings. But they sort out aftercare and long term placements as well. Do check out the website here and consider supporting it prayerfully or financially.

Craig Groeschel (aka Tom Cruise look-a-likey) is the Senior Pastor of Lifechurch.tv, a multicampus church of 25 000 people. I was overawed by the way these guys do church; it's just culturally way outside my little experience, (satellite link up! worship set of exactly 18 minutes! DVD recording of senior pastor preaching shown simultaneously at each site! Staff team of hundreds!) Craig Groeschel's life script was truly inspiring and his honesty and hunger for God infectious. And the fact remains that 14 years ago the church had 30 members.

In this session, Craig Groeschel described "it"-the intangible something that some churches have and some don`t. When "it" is present, lives are transformed. When "it" is absent, ministries feel dead. Although "it" cannot be manufactured, Craig outlined four qualities that tend to be present in churches that have "it." He explained that many churches do great things but are lacking something, which he defined as "it".

My take on this session was that Craig's talk was encouraging the listener to engage in a radical persuit of God; in the words of Tommy Tenney: be a "God chaser"; that we would never be satisfied with the middle road, the easy life, the "just enough".

In fact, I want to post here Craig's Franciscan Prayer with which he ended the session:

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain in to joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Return to Study

Tomorrow I return to studies.
Regular readers of the blog will know that back here I ran the very real risk of complete meltdown. But all was well and the research papers got good marks.

How can a mother of two small ones, dutiful wife, children's pastor and partaker of Costa produce with the mothers' mafia of the local community manage to be officially classed as a full time student last session? (Answer: due to the number of hours of classes/study/research undertaken. You can't lie to SAAS to get money!)

More importantly, how can a working mum manage to get this degree? Answer: (truly) - with God's help, giving me discipline (though I freely confess I am not moan-free) and committment to the studies, grace to get through it, financial help from sources that were not my own and help from friends at various points throughout the year to keep my chin up, lend me lecture notes, explain terminology to me and generally be there for me at all times during the term.

And now it's back for just a little more. One third of third year; the remainder having been passed already.

But this year I have to travel to get there......

Mark July 2009 in your diaries as its party time when I graduate!!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Envisioning Day


Today I had two long car journeys which meant I was able to (hands free) make some long phone calls I've been trying to make all week. I *am* enjoying open plan but it's not the place to make pastoral phone calls. I'm sitting near the door; a real hubbub of conversation sometimes, beside the laminator/guillotine/comb binder thingy. And near the 14 different recycle bins (eco-warriors are very active here. Of course this is a good thing.)

And I'm pretty guilty of being chatty sometimes too.

A new thing about open plan: I'm finding all sorts of interesting things left on my desk by other people; my desk seems to have a kind of a "hot desk" feel to it as I am part-time and it's next to an empty desk that other people come in and use. I need to remember to put away some things I leave out; something I am not used to doing.

I've spent a little more time working at home this week; which has been good for me personally but also results in me feeling a bit on my own, sad individual that I am. I'm just missing friends! People you can call in on; people to talk and pray with; people you can just *be* with. There are some folks here who I would consider very good friends already but when you are feeling your way a little bit in a new community you don't want to overdo it. I may only be suitable to have round in small doses!

Saturday is a very big day for me as I outline a vision for children, family and all age ministry. I am expecting thirty to forty people and this day will be repeated in October, for more folks to come.

I hope to teach on some foundational building blocks for any church which considers itself to offer any kind of ministry to children and families.

Without these kinds of topics being discussed at a leadership level, I don't know how a church can interact with the families and young people who live around them. We have got to know what we believe; at a foundational level; do we really want to welcome children into our church? Do we know what the Lord Jesus said about children? Do we understand the implications this has for everything else we do?
.."unless you change and become like little children you will not enter the kingdom of heaven"..heavy duty words to exegete......

I'm going to teach on/dip into most of the following:- (probably)
- why work with children?
- God calls children
- the significance of children
- personal faith journey
- faith development in children (Westerhoff/Fowler)
- what is the status of children before God?
- the ingredients of children's evangelism
- church vs school - not the same!
- risk taking with your team (* not specifically about children; but its a training need I have identified)
- how to choose a children's bible - just an advice sheet; need something very practical for parents
- vision and value statement; this governs everything I am and everything I do with regard to children and families and intergenerational, all age stuff.

There was so much I could cover on this day but I felt God asking me to concentrate on these areas as I need to get some firm foundations in place for what is to come. I need to re-establish quite a lot of teams and therefore I need people to get VERY excited about the potential of the young lives they shape. I am still stirred from the quote contained within this post here....why is the greatest status afforded to a University professor and not a nursery nurse?

Plus I have some great emergent-type visual clips, pictures and thought provokers. And a lovely big bookstall with all my favourite Bibles, books, Cds and DVDs on it. I think I might enjoy this day with the great folks from my new church family!

Monday, September 22, 2008

wobbles

I've just had a day of salutory reminders that I haven't moved here to have an easy time.

How do pastors cope when they come out of a meeting and are reminded of all the things that need to change? When the stuff that is wrong is categorised (in neat lists) for you? When you know change needs to happen but you have to wait because:

(a) you can't do it all yourself and anyway you'd burn out if you did
(b)everyone would run away from you if you did what you REALLY wanted to do? (think total dismantling and start again)
(c) you are waiting patiently for the right people to be revealed to you; where are your vision carriers and runners?

I *do* have fairly wide experience of (c) happening. Over the past years, I have needed to build a strong, strong 8s to 11s team, with as many guys as gals leading, and it fell into place. Then I needed an under 3s leader and that too, happened. I needed to see an Additional Support Needs team build up, and that came about fairly easily. I wanted to see an effective midweek club run, and that happened under an awesome leader. Each year I needed 30-40 people for holiday club and for summer cover teams - ya de ya de ya....it all happened. Pretty effortlessly, probably because I was known and knew people in return, it was easy to be a team together.

And now I am in the position of greatest human impotence that I have ever known. I don't know people well yet.

I'm coming back to the Exodus 33 passage again (posted about here)....put most simply ....what can I do here or anywhere without God's presence being with me? I'm not satisfied with just getting by. I don't do half hearted or mediocre and pretence has never really suited me. I need the raw, tangible presence of God leading me and directing me.

We sang the song "Facedown" at church last night. I have no other choice than to go face down, which I did, near the exit (oh dear, a trip hazard) because I need him so much.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Children and Family - A Theological Overview

I thought my blog has got a bit personal recently (how strange a concept that is, a blog that is personal) and its time for a change of focus.

I'm preparing for a big vision day for my new church, putting a framework around children and family ministry there, and I have been reading back over my research paper submitted last session (see here for a precis!)

Here is a short excerpt, on the role of the family:-
It assumes a knowledge of the work of Westerhoff/Fowler, on faith development, which I had written about in an earlier section. You can catch it here and here, if you so desire.

Who should be nurturing children's faith? Who is responsible?

If there is consensus that Christian parents are the best people to nurture their children’s spirituality from birth onwards, then it follows that the best way of discipling children is directly through their parents and no further models or methods are needed. This view could be too simplistic for the post-modern Britain and there may be other lessons to be gleaned from the Old Testament.

The Old Testament does outline steps to take to ensure spiritual formation but this learning was not merely to be memorised and recited, but was to be lived (Deut 6:7-9). This principal is as pertinent for today as it was then. The youngest to the oldest were part of the whole community of faith and the clan-type structure of living indicates that other adults apart from the biological parents would have played a part in rearing children. “The larger body of people took precedence over the interests and concerns of man, woman and child”

Gordon Wenham has analysed the pattern of family life in the Pentateuch and substantiates this description of a large body of people: social order is demonstrated where everyone cares for the other and lives in harmony with the other, in larger units rather than as individual families (1). This is a model that could be emulated in churches today.

Edesio Sanchez states that no other book in the Bible gives more teaching to children and young people as Deuteronomy (2) . There are key principles in Deuteronomy for families today, if we read it with a “family oriented hermeneutic” as there are countless references to the people of God in the past, present and future along with the exhortation to “impress these commandments upon the children” (Deut 6:7). There are clear promises of blessings that will affect families who make up the nation (in verses 1-3) for remaining obedient and faithful under the terms of God’s covenant with his people.

As well as personal instruction within families to talk about the covenant, there is evidence of corporate remembrance and celebration. Catherine Stonehouse points out that many events recorded in the Old Testament included children as well as adults, for example, celebrating alongside adults when the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt by Nehemiah (Neh 12:27-43) (3)

Turning to the New Testament, children were included in the home-based meetings for worship, teaching and learning. This evidence suggests that Christians valued children much more highly than the Greco-Roman culture around them. (later note: what about Christians today? Is there any sign to those outside our church culture that we value children highly?) Judith Gundry-Volf notes that Roman children were on the lowest social rung and exposed to the potential brutality of the father; he literally had the power of life and death over them (4) .

Are there any New Testament principles that assist in developing a theological consideration of families? John 1 outlines one of these. Jesus became flesh and lived among us (v14). He was born into a human family. Grenz states “Jesus participated in our existential humanness….knowing human needs" (5) . Jesus developed cognitively just as ordinary humans do. There were things that he could not do and as he became older he learned to do them. He needed the support of his family to grow and learn. This is an important principle.

Jesus words and actions towards children; of blessing, nurture, promise and protection (contained in passages in Mark 10, Matt 19, Luke 18) speak clearly to those responsible for the discipleship and integration of children and their parents into the community of believers. The faith community, gathered congregation or small groups, should exercise blessing, nurture, promise and protection upon the younger generations. (later note: and not ignore children!)

An interesting question to be considered by pastors and leaders is that there could be something gained by interacting with children in a discipleship or worship setting. Children model something for adults; demonstrated by Jesus when he elevated their status by saying that adults should become like them. Westfall states that it was “unusual for a rabbi to give children precedence or elevate them as models of humility and faith, let alone single them out as his personal representatives” (6).
There are lessons to be learned from these words and maybe we should consider what opportunities, if any, there are for children to “be” with adults in a way that avoids tokenism but genuinely allows them to express their faith.


(1) G. Wenham, Family in the Pentateuch in R Hess and M Carroll (eds), Family in the Bible, Grand Rapids, Baker Books 2003, 31
(2) E Sanchez, Family in the Non-Narrative Section of the Pentateuch in R Hess and M Carroll (eds), Family in the Bible, Grand Rapids, Baker Books 2003, 43
(3) C Stonehouse, Joining Children on the Spiritual Journey, Grand Rapids: Baker Books 1998, 32
(4) J Gundry-Volf, The Least and the Greatest, Children in the New Testament, in M Bunge, ibid, 33
(5) S Grenz, Theology for the Community of God, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 1994, 278
(6) C Westfall, Family in the Gospels and Acts in R Hess and M Carroll (eds), ibid, 127

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Deep calls to deep

Re: the title of this post - I have always loved this verse from Psalm 42

Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls - a phrase loaded with imagery; of rushing waters and roaring sounds; of immense power in the cascade of water which erodes a path through the most resistant rock. Nothing can stand in its way! Our landscape today is marked with the paths of former rivers, pools and waterfalls formed by the excess water running off the land after the last Ice Age. Yet we know water also to be a soft, gentle, cleansing substance which we desperately need for refreshment and washing; essential to even the most mundane daily task. Without it, we die.

What does "deep calls to deep" mean?
I'd suggest it means that there is a place deep within each human being that longs and yearns for communion with God. There is a lot of talk in contemporary theology about community; a lot of the things I dip in and out talk about this. But for me, on Sunday night, with tears running down my face as my friends preached on Acts 2, it was a yearning that I could have screamed out loud about. believers who loved one another and belonged to each other and yet saw miraculous signs in their midst. I'm FED UP with busy-ness. There IS another way.

Deep calls to deep means to me I can whisper the things I am most afraid of to God and I feel an immediate comfort coming to me. It means I can sigh and he knows what I mean. It means I can howl and words aren't necessary. And on Sunday night it meant that even when I felt I didn't belong, he told me I did.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Follow on .....

After having had a weeny little splurge (posting below), I went over to SB's blog where I haven't been for a week or two and read this. Fitted how I was feeling perfectly. I'm pretty sure Stuart won't mind me quoting him and Shane Claybourne (what book is that from Stuart?)

"The things that 'deceive' us I suspect are much more likely to be subtle temptations of suburbia than some big heresy issue.

On this Shane Claybourne writes:

‘Sometimes people ask me if I am scared living in the inner city. I usually reply, ‘I’m more scared living in suburbs’. The Scriptures say we should most fear not those things that can destroy the body but those things that can destroy the soul. While the ghettoes may have heir share of violence and crime, the suburbs are the home of the more subtle demonic forces – numbness, complacency, comfort – and it is these that can eat away at our souls’
.

I think we need some folks to create a few collisons for us between commonly accepted values and behaviours in our church life and the inconvenient ways of Jesus.

(Excerpt from a sermon preached last night at an ordination and induction)

Recent Discoveries

I've now been here for three weeks and I have made some very important discoveries.

1. buses are great
2. Starbucks is not an option for morning coffee for people on a budget
3. my accent stands out in the school playground
4. it's possible to play piano proficiently, sing beautifully, canoe for Scotland, play tennis like Andy Murray and swim like a fish before the age of 12
5. my new colleagues ARE wonderful
6. spiders of gargantuan proportions rule the city
7. Earl Grey tastes like tea that's gone off
8. I'm not very good at telling polite lies. (yes, at times, no, at other times!!)
9. ceilidhs are possibly the best kind of social function to ever have been invented
10. children, however full their lives are of activity, achievement, belongings and friends, all have have the same desires and longings. They want to be listened to, they want to have fun, they want to have access to all the good things of God that they perceive adults do. If taught well, they will take on the rights and the responsibilities.

I'm here helping with that because I believe, as do all my family, that we were called by God to do so. But I'm uncomfortable with the growing sense that I just might have to go against the flow sometimes; and this has the potential of being perceived as bolshey (sorry, can't think of a better word to use)

Before I came here, I was asked what my greatest fear was. It was of being misunderstood. But the greatest role model ever was the Lord Jesus who was despised and rejected. I'm sure I can face anything that comes before me at any stage in my life if I only draw in close to him :-) And I love people; and since coming here have felt an even stronger sense of desperation for those OUT there, not in the warm and comfort of the established church, to know Jesus, to know how brilliant it is to be loved and have someone walking with them every day.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

It's my birthday

Hey, it's my birthday today and I am feeling old....I made a Farrah Fawcett reference in the New Office today and was reminded that some people present wouldn't know who she was!

Ah, time is most def catching up with me.

Things continue to unfold in an exciting manner here in the new city. Can't really say much more than that other than we know on an almost daily basis that this is where we are meant to be. But I do feel a bit different in the playground. My kids don't bring 100% organic stuff for their playpiece - oh, sorry - SNACK. And I *really* notice the accents much more in this city; but it is a beautiful place.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Office


Thought I might post a few thoughts on My New Office as it is so different from anywhere I have ever been before.

It's open plan and (I think) spacious, although pretty full of people and equipment.
There are nine people working in the main space. It has a mezzanine level with two more desks at it and a little kitchen area. The first time I saw people working on the mezzanine level - and yes, they are guys, I just thought of Daniel Cleaver's office in the film Bridget Jones. The architect MUST have had it in mind!

It's not actually all that crowded; perhaps a little cluttered (that'll be my stuff!) but if you have ever worked in a large office (as I did when with the RBS Head Office)or in dreaded "pods" then there is quite a lot of space with storage perhaps being the main issue.

Very appealingly, there is a kind of communal cup when it comes to office snacks - there is a staff fruit bowl or staff donuts/biscuits, depending on the mood of the staff. There is "emergency chocolate" (80% cocoa solids, none the less) in the Office Manager's drawer. And a lovely atmosphere too. I was worried that I would really miss that about my previous place of work (the main office was a bit of a hub, but we all had small personal offices too).

I can also see the great benefits in communication; a walk down the corridor just becomes a gentle call-out to ask a question or check a detail with someone.

I've not been here long enough to comment if it's too noisy to work in or not, but it does feel kind of weird when it's totally quiet and you need to make a phone call. In an open plan office you *do* hear what other people are saying. I'm much more aware that I shouldn't be sound as flippant on the phone - the person on the other side of the call knows me but those around don't necessarily (yet).

The reality is that I don't spend all my working time in this base as I am required to meet with so many people and I delight in doing that. I love visiting and chatting to people, finding out what they think about children's ministry here.

It begins!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Resurfacing.....

I'm BACK!! Like the Olympic flame I never disappear.
Two weeks away from this blog is enough as now I really do need it for its cathartic value.

I don't know how I survived the emotions of last week. I know a lot of my friends will be reading this and I have to say I have never felt so loved. Two weeks ago we were treated to a leaving party replete with "Farewell" photographic HUGE banner (handy for my next leaving 'do) and squillions of people at it, then the next week on to the business of leading the holiday club with a brilliant, brilliant team supplemented by fab devotional times led by fellow leaders, where we really entered God's presence in the 9-9.30 times. This was exceptionally special in this club, looking at the book of Luke with 110 children, many of whom who had never looked at a Bible before. The programme ran like clockwork, time went by so quickly, the DVD/powerpoint/embedded sound files/drama team/band worked together perfectly and made my job as event leader so easy. I love my deputy leader to bits and am still missing her (((((( V ))))))) A week past Friday the wonderful J and J, ably assisted by another fab team (incl the assoc pastor grilling burgers like nobody's business!) fed 300 people in our bedecked.....errrr, lane..... down the outside of the church, and celebrated the kids week with a homemade DVD of the week and other pictures. I might sneak one on here.

But is this nostalgia, the cloudy fug of good memories speaking? Absolutely not. We had a great week and it was a great way to end 25 years in this church (I really was very young when I came to faith)

The morning service at the end of the holiday club was just a tearfest for us personally as not only did we receive humungous amounts of gifts but after having hands laid upon us and lovingly prayed for, the worship ministry leader snuck round to where Mr HIWWC had been leading worship throughout the service to lead the congregation in one of his songs (currently being recorded on an album). We knelt at the front with tears streaming down our faces. We've never left a church before. I wonder if that is an increasingly rare thing?



And into this week. I hate first days. I remember them all. First day at primary school (I cried), secondary school (I was sick with nerves as I knew no-one), university (was hung over), RBS Bothwell St branch (I trembled), RBS head office marketing dept (I was petrified) , Social Work Department (also petrified), teacher training college (actually, this one was OK), P Secondary School (underconfident and scared), B Secondary school (I cried, it was a compulsory transfer due to a schools merger), last church (nervous and in awe) and now this church on 18 August 2008. On Monday I had to go away for a stiff talk to myself and to God because of "stuff". I know how to deal with it and I'm called to deal with it and get on with why I was called to come here. Oh my, comfort is easier but dealing with this next stage in our life's journey is going to be so good for us.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

For smile purposes.....



Holiday club is going really, really well. The team are absolutely AMAZING.
Wanted to post this as it made me laugh so much tonight.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Week So Far.....


:::::phew:::::: one big week has just past and one more is ahead......

I needed to be up extra early today to get a lot of things said to God. I awoke feeling a tad on the low side; overwhelmed; in need of "coorying up" with the one who created me.

I feel a weight of expectation on me as I lead the club this coming week. This morning I needed to cast that aside and ask for the Holy Spirit to help me do all I have to do this week for the sake of the children who are coming for the week; I so, so, so want them to encounter Jesus. Something touched me this morning; about how attractive Jesus was to people; they crowded round him; they wanted to be where he was. I've loved the Genesis narratives we have used over the past few years to tell the story of Joseph but I'm excited to be ending my time in this fellowship with stories from Luke.

I've worked full time since returning from Canada on July 16th and I'm feeling a bit tired. We've been trying to keep our house clean and tidy for potential viewers; no mean feat during school summer holidays. We've also been organising lots of visits for the kids to various generous friends who have had them round to play/eat/even sleepover :-)

So in some ways I am looking forward to a little rest or break in the week between leaving this job and starting the new one; though the reality is with the move happening a week on Thursday we'll have less time for that than we thought. Can't pack up the house or clear out my office while the holiday club is in full swing. Still, three days of long lies i.e. past 7.30am is very appealing at this moment in time!

The church family organised a Farewell Party on Friday night. It was a great night and we are very touched by the love shown to us. If I speak about it more I will cry on this blog and that would be messy. More about that in a week's time after our final service. Particular thanks are due to our dear friends Pete and Henry who trawled through my musical history on Facebook and iTuned music for the disco from my "music i like" preferences. I have a suspicious feeling that there is more Mac'd Visuals coming my way..I spied an embarrassing photo on a desktop at the sound desk (OH NO!)

How many church leaving do's have Sparky's Dream on the playlist by the awesomely wonderful Teenage Fan Club? :-) Classic tune.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Out or In...?



Doing my usual nosey round children's ministry websites/local church developments. I have copied this from a church website from somewhere far, far away:

" Since children's ministry is one of the most important things we do and the main service is designed for adults, children 6th grade and under are not permitted in the adult service. They will have a better experience and learn about God in a more appropriate manner in KidVenture. Check-in begins 20 minutes before each service."

Any comments?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Blogging slowdown



Every time I go to blog, something stops it happening.

Ah, that's right, it's called LIFE! :-)
As our house is on the market, if we get a call to say a viewer is coming then everything has to stop for Operation Tidy-Up. We have two of the untidiest kids ever. Fortunately they are on a "holiday" to grandma's for two days so last night's Operation Tidy-Up went smoothly. We can rest assured that the ant collection will remain in the garden (thanks to a Canadian bug vacuum - the joy of North American toys) and that the doll's nappies (soiled) are packed away in the Baby Annabel suitcase and will REMAIN THERE.

Did mean to post some Canadian pictures last night, will get round to it soon, I promise. Our main prayer is for our house to sell so that we can count up all the pennies so we can buy a house in the new town. However, we are not homeless and in a little under three weeks time we will be renting. Wow. Haven't done that since I was 19.

Had a bank interview yesterday and some of the mortgage and financial stuff happening in the UK today makes for grim reading. We are affected by it in some ways (stamp duty agghhhhh!) and yet I feel strangely calm. I can't explain it beyind the fact that God started this process of moving and he will oversee every detail of it. He has been nothing but good to me my whole life long. This journey has showed us as a family that all we need is him. I have just done a little study on the word "riches" and in the New Testament Ephesians is flooded with references to God's riches for those who believe. This does not necessarily refer of course to material wealth, although I have always known "enough", some of which has come in amazing circumstances. Encouraging stuff.

Hopefully post more soon.
Deep in preparation and work for leaving and for the summer holiday club - this year almost 70 children out of 120 have no church connection at all! (We always have lots of our own children who come). I am looking forward to it very much.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Help Ma Boab

The title of this post refers to a unique Scottish expression of disbelief - as perpetuated by that well known Dundee based family - The Broons.
Help Ma Boab! (cried Daphne)
I've just read some suggestions for doctrinal books for children from a non-UK blog (she says tactfully). The person who put this list together clearly has no affinity with a child's world and that's really all I am going to say.

I found two of John Stott's books suggested for Third Years (age 13-14)
I'm not saying that John Stott writes loftily (I freely admit I had to read The Cross of Christ slowly and carefully. It had lots of pages and small print. And my SP's copy had a broken spine so I had to make like sudoko and get the pages to add up to something corresponding to chapter and page numbers) but check out an example of an Intermediate 1 English paper and you will see what I mean. Print that off and put that side by side with The Bondage of the Will by Martin Luther (recommended for 14 year olds).

But I'm being unfair. This list may have been compiled for third and fourth years who have been privately educated or homeschooled and who will read at a higher level than the majority of children. I can't help but admit my bias, which is often tilted towards the low achiever, the one with less positive life chances, the one looked down upon or forgotten. I can't help but love on them...and be passionate about wanting knowledge of our wonderful God to be theirs too.

I get quite frustrated sometimes when things about God are made inaccessible by our wordiness or lengthiness and I am getting more certain that the time is coming in my life when I may attempt to write a series of booklets to explain a little more about theology and doctrine at a child's level of reading and comprehension. I have spent a pretty long time thinking that I just don't have the ability to do this but I'm beginning to think - "well, why not? Why not combine my years in teaching, my knowledge of children's human and spiritual development, my theological qualification-to-be, my present practice and my feel for the "gap" in information and just give it a go?" If it's rubbish, I can take being told that.

There is so much bias out there in theology anyway, can I attempt to present some information on the meaning of salvation and the atonement from all angles (much like one of my favourite books does, which I have raved about before: The Nature of the Atonement) because children can understand pictures a little easier than adults at times? A child of 5-7 is capable of understanding the healing metaphor of the atonement (hat tip to Joel Green), s/he understands the principles of substitution (he took my place), s/he understands market place and courtroom pictures to explain the atonement; s/he understands Christus Victor theory in that she knows that Jesus defeated God's enemy once and for all - in fact by the time a child reaches 8 or 9 years of age she or he can understand that many pictures can be used to explain what God has done through Jesus.

An 8 year old would agree that a "rainbow of metaphors" are possible. S/he wouldn't refuse to stand alongside someone that thought - and even spoke out about - another view of the meaning of the atonement. S/he probably wouldn't fall out with someone (and I do truly presume this has not happened in the real world today) because they thought that God sent his son to die because of X Y or Z. They would simply say "he loves me and I love him". We are to become like unsophisticated little children. Simplify.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Midway through the Canada trip.....

Ooooh, at this stage in our holidays, I have some amazing photos to share but forgot to bring a USB lead for the camera and dear reader, you understand that I would much rather be swimming in Lake Huron than sitting here in the public library uploading photos (mainly of my scared children as we wooped and screamed with delight approaching the tumbling Niagara Falls in the Maid of the Mist)

Had an awesome time at our all age conference in Toronto and now we are on the Bruce peninsula, Lake Huron, Ontario, enjoying balmy weather and more majestic scenery.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Oh Canada!

We're off to Canada later today - on Canada Day, appropriately.
We're going here again for three days, where I went in March 2006 with my six year old daughter and a friend and her six year old, and had a great time at an all age conference, returned home, sat on my bubbling feelings for three months (I kept really quiet!) then spoke to my then-SP to share the vision I had to bring the conference over here.

He said YES (he is such a releaser of people. Or was retirement-happy. You choose!), the church promised to financially underwrite the idea and eighteen months later, in October 2007, Families on Fire took on a Scottish twist. It was the fulfillment of a vision and an incredible time. You can probably read about my digging back through the archives to October and November 2007. So I am so looking forward to going back as a participant and not host :-)

Then we are off to Niagara and downtown Toronto, then spend a week up north in a lakeside cabin, then back to spend a day with the children's pastors who have become our friends. They are great!! Love them.

Wishing you, dear readers, a wonderful rest whatever you do and wherever you go. Please pop a comment in the box below to tell Something About Your Summer. Don't be shy - leave a wee message to cheer me up in the hotel lobby!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

I've been tagged!

Thanks to Anne for this great meme. I've only been tagged once before so I hope I've done it right!

My ex... boyfriend was a fisherman from Orkney. This is quite some time ago (she adds hastily) and he had loads of money and bought me the most expensive bible I have ever owned - a leather bound Thomson Chain Reference Bible, giant size - and then flew me to Shetland for my birthday (how romantic. Seagulls and freezing fog) Oooops, how come everyone else has written about their bosses? As a true-to-form Heat reader, the phrase "my ex" can only refer to romantic attachments from the past....

Maybe I should
... start packing for my holiday instead of blogging here!?!?

I love...
my Father God, my family, my friends, my job! I love this country too. Is it OK to say that and not sound nationalistic? I mean, I love what is ahead for us here, I sense God is stirring the church in Scotland up for the good and I think there could be a dropping of denominational barriers ahead as we get on with the job of bringing the kingdom in.....

People would say ....like Anne, I find this hard to speculate on as I am leaving my current situation and city and people are saying lots of nice things to me and generally make me go all weepy. I am pretty certain some would say I can be cheeky and a bit irreverent (only a few months ago our office administrator and myself took it in turns to fire elastic bands from the office photocopier the length of the office to try and "score a goal" through the narrow window vent. Then we had a phase of using only Jack Bauer 24 speak in the office - she'd "patch people through to me" and "reposition the satellites to trace the Senior Pastor's whereabouts" etc, to much hilarity which got us frowned at a little.)

I don't understand... How working families tax credit is calculated. Roadworks planned to start on Mondays. Why it rains after you put your washing out despite the sky being sunny. Men (sometimes).

When I wake up in the morning... I immediately snuggle down again and try to ignore the noise from my children.

I lost... respect for the current government when the Home Office locked away a family of ours with four children under 10 for 31 days in August 2006 in an English detention centre for doing nothing wrong other than being asylum seekers from Rwanda....

Life is full of... purpose. Not a single thing I have ever done, been or experienced is wasted.

My past is...something I look back on with gratitude.

I get annoyed when... people drive at 25 mph. Hog the middle lane. Put their fog light on at dusk AND IT'S NOT FOGGY. Turn right with no advance indication. (do you spot a theme here? Driver. Lynn. Intolerant. (<--- rearrange to form a phrase)

Parties are... a chance to chat and laugh and dance (depending on the party); a definite occasion for a babysitter. Unless its your child's 8th birthday party of course. In which case you'd be a bad parent.

I wish... that NEVER again would any child be harmed. For that transformation to be amongst the first in the new heaven and earth

Dogs... are smelly.

Cats...
are less smelly. Unless you're beside their litter tray. Then they're smelly too.

Tomorrow... I'm going to have a lie in. Then be a "chatting person" at a local community festival where our church is getting involved in providing children's activities and free food and chat.

I have a low tolerance for... miscommunication in any shape or form. I am pretty sure it accounts for about 95% of all fall-outs in this world. Take emails for example - I try to send even just a short acknowledgement "thanks for this" etc - prevents miscommunication/misunderstanding/disharmony! Sometimes emails don't get through whereas paper put in the boss's tray always does get there, if you put it there. If I haven't returned a phone call, I'm bothered by it until I do it! (I'm probably like this because I work with so many volunteers and people need to feel I'll listen and respond to them)

If I had a million dollars... I'd bless my mum and dad with all they needed for retirement, invest the rest, tithe to my local church, with gifts and offerings above that to children's projects e.g. Tear Fund's work to provide refuges and skills training for child prostitutes in Thailand. Or Iris Ministry's babyhouse in Maputo.

I'm totally terrified of... nothing really. There are things I don't like, like spiders, and I don't relish the thought of having a major illness or operation, but I'm not walking in fear of any of these things. On the spider front, that's what a perfectly good shoe is for.

Now I tag: Amie, Lorraine, Lucy, Brodie and Stuart.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Results

I received my results today and I was overwhelmed and delighted. I got the highest marks I have ever got in 5 years of very part-time study, whilst I was cramming in more modules than ever before in a term.

God is so good and faithful to me. Every hour that I struggled with my assignments and reading I talked to him about it (using, in the main, the word "help!")

I got 17 for my New Testament studies on the Gospels. (you write three short essays under unseen exam conditions, marked out of 20 and then averaged). I got 18, 17 and 16 which made 17 overall.

In the OT theology class, my three essays scored 16, 16 and 16. Regular readers may know I was really worried about the OT as I struggled with the amount of Hebrew knowledge it felt like one needed to know but as I sat down to sit the exam last Thursday I nearly exploded with joy and praise all the way through as I just knew what to say. It was an exam that felt like worship to the one true living God indeed.

And for my extended placement and research paper, I was marked on an 18 for the actual placement and then 15 and 15 for research and placement papers (I'm always better at the practical stuff; just let me get on with it and do it!) but then that's a pretty respectable 16 overall. Can't remember if 17 upwards is Outstanding on the Common Assessment Scale or "just" Very Good, but I'm chuffed to bits.

Only 3 modules to go next session then its all over!!
The BA Theo party is booked............

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Busy Sunday

Today was the penultimate all age service that I will lead and the "moving up" awards for the under-12s as discussed here. My final Bible selection ended up being:-


Jesus Bible Storybook for the Beginners (age 3s)

My First Message for the P1s

NCV International Children's Bible for the P3s









Here Comes Heaven paperback for the P5s (they got the NCV Bible two years ago)


Youth Bible for the P7s









I want children to love God's word, to love reading God's word in exciting, changing forms and styles that suit their age and stage of reading. There is a wealth of resources out there and so I decided to post these recommendations for this current year in case it assists any readers.

Our church didn't recognise the "moving up" of children until I came into my post but I've made no apologies for spending quite a lot of money on these gifts as each week the older children in particular bring their bible and "parent history-maker" ringbinder along proudly and regularly use their prayer journals and bibles by themselves. I have seen real improvements in the 8s to 11s skill in knowing their way around their bibles and I don't claim any credit for this as all I have tried to do is facilitate and bless parents in their job as the primary spiritual educator of their child.

I wonder if you would believe me if I told you that prior to starting the gifts of Bibles I found that very few church family children owned their own bible. There was often a family bible but nothing specifically for each child to help their love for God grow and develop. It's true and it really surprised me.

I have a truly awesome (patient!) volunteer who scribes over 130 certificates from Beginners upwards beautifully and handwrites a message in all of the Bibles, according to registers and my main database. It is a massive undertaking relying on my good record keeping but I always find I have made a mistake and today was no exception....grrrr, I was so disappointed with myself!

Oh - THM - you can just guess whether I dared to play a clip........

Home for a sandwich and then out again for a short dedication service in the local park which had been closed for a few weeks due to a tragic murder. Our senior pastor had done a fabulous job in putting together a service involving three or four other churches from very different traditions and backgrounds. As we sang "How Great is our God" I couldn't help but look around and think of Psalm 133, the blessing of being together in unity, all coming out of very sad circumstances. We made an important verbal declaration in the park itself. This service culminated in representatives from many different churches driving a wooden stake into the park soil, upon which was written a verse about seeking peace in the city (I must check the reference and post it here)

At 4pm it was time for our family cell barbecue ...in our garden in the rain.....

Friday, June 20, 2008

Location location location

This week has seen the beginng of tying up loose ends. The house went on the market and I had forgotten how stressful it is being tidy. And dust free. Dust came in with The Fall, you know. Loose skin cells, bedbugs, ooze on black clothes, fluff on rugs, soot and pollen were probably not in God's original plan as then my Goodwill antique bedroom furniture would look like the mahogany it is and not covered in a grey-white frosting.

We had some viewers last night. The slow walk-round, the oohs and aahs, the incessant questions (in my head), the need to hide your clothes, paperwork and children. I just want to shout out: "take it! It's yours!"
Gathered with some close friends to pray last night and we realised though, that in four days we got a flat to rent, our children into school and a job for Mr HIWWC, therefore shifting a house is not hard for God to do.

My darling children received their school reports this week. No 1 child had an excellent one. No 2 child, who, if you have followed this blog from the earliest days, will know has a feisty temperament and not an inconsiderable propensity to rebel, also did get a really good report as he has matured considerably since January. His teacher knows him so well - this is very clear in her detailed comments - and she has been absolutely brilliant with him. Miss C - you are a star!

We had to giggle at this comment under Religious and Moral Education: "A has developed a good understanding of religious practice and traditions and speaks enthusiastically about his personal experience of religion" An evangelist at 5 years old :-)

I am leading my last all age service on Sunday morning, where all the children who are moving up groups in August are presented with their Bibles and speaking on the Great Commission, using High School Musical song as the theme "We're all in this together". But then I would never dare to play a clip of a wordly, secular song in church.......