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 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.

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


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 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.......

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Deliriously Happy (or relieved)

So much has happened these last two weeks, in fact, since i handed my dissertation in - scrub that - since the Easter holidays, no, make that since March!! 2008 has been a year of change, movement, action, shaking out of comfort zone, having to work extremely hard both at work and at college whilst still maintaining a family life and a social life. I am overwhelmed by God's gracious dealings with me in all areas of my life. I don't deserve it. But then, there's the thing - none of us do!

I went into my exam today, with great trepidation, which just isn't me. I had listened carefully to all of the lectures, done about 80% of the reading, tried to understand OT theology and yet I felt ill-prepared and nervous. I had to work so hard last week on preparing for the P6/7 weekend away - the programme, the finances, the paperwork and preparing letters for my admin assistant to print out and label this week - to the Preschool parents and to holiday club parents. I also had to do a lot of ordering (but then spending money is never a chore!) for the holiday club and for Sunday's coming awards service.....put simply - revising for my exam went on the back burner.

But I wrote my exam answers knowing that God was with me. I'm aware this might sound daft or trite and I can rationalise it away by saying I obviously know more than I thought I did. But as I sat back and considered the first question, about the uniqueness of Israel's God amongst the other gods of the period, it all came flooding back. Monotheism and the attributes of God - his holiness, his power, his love; his righteousness (hat tip to Dyrness!). Particularism v Universalism. His chesed; steadfast love.

The whole course and the knowledge I possessed before commencing the course, just "clicked" right there and then as I sat in the exam. This was God's Big Plan which I tried to explain to children at the weekend! I think I need to do some further work on writing some child-friendly material on this at some point in the future to provide a sequence of presentations. I didn't really cover the prophets in detail, for example.

Our weekend away was awesome. Lots and lots of fun. We had a couple of children with us who I was concerned about for various reasons but they had a great time (one said he wished he was in Primary 6 so he could come back again next year), in fact the child who was new to faith had an incredible experience of God's love and peace during the Sunday morning worship, teaching and communion time. God met with us all powerfully. The leaders and I had a significant time of prayer on Saturday night into Sunday morning. We literally couldn't get off the floor at one point as God's presence overwhelmed us. How he loves us and how he loves these children - please do watch this..thank you Father for your faithfulness and love.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Weekend Away

After the bombshell of last weekend I am away this weekend with 3 other leaders and a score of Primary 6s and 7s for a weekend Somewhere Up North unpacking the theme "Discovering God's Heart".

Being a weekend for primary pupils the three formal sessions are of course well interspersed with parachute games, unihoc, 5 a sides, craft time, visits to the shops for sweetie stashing, DVD watching (Enchanted - I can't wait!), popcorn, E numbers and more sweeties from the angels and mortals game.

I have found that worship really takes off on these weekends away.
Children are relaxed and in a safe atmosphere with other people they know and trust. They press in to Father God in a very wonderful way to watch. I wish that all adults, and particularly those responsible for worship, could see children worshipping - they are like flowers uncurling in the sun, but on time lapse filming i.e. it happens quickly - they are so sensitive to the Holy Spirit, who helps us to recognise the Father and worship in truth.

First up, we're looking at God's Big Plan for planet earth; how he wants the beauty and glory of heaven to invade the earth once again. He wasn't "caught out" by our evil ways and by having to send Jesus to the cross to die. In this session, because I know how well these kids know God personally, I plan to encourage the children to step out of their world to pray for people who don't know about God.

Then we move into to unpack his heart for us; what he thinks when he looks at them; unpacking some of the very great and precious promises in his word. I have a notion that we will use sugar paper and pastels somewhere in this session.

On Sunday our final session will look at his heart for his people; his desire for holiness and integrity in lives that are to display fruit and gifts.

A potential pitfall in children's ministry is to dumb down what we teach children. There is therefore a need to combine educational understanding with new spiritual eyes and to take account of voices nationally and internationally who believe that we have generations before us who are ready for more than we had when we were ten years old. Ivy Beckwith (in her book: Post Modern Children's Ministry) states that the millenial generation is hungry for spiritual experience; the challenge for me is to anchor spiritual "experience" into the development of character and calling. I will restate that experiencing the love of God in ways that touch us (emotionally. physically) is vital. The phileo love of the Father is demonstrated and felt affection; not just words.

So that's my weekend. Looking forward to it.
Only tiny wee cloud....I have my last ever OT exam on Tuesday, I was convinced it was on Thursday, so I'm going to be less prepared for the exam than I would like to be......

Monday, June 09, 2008

Help I Work With Children On The Move

I can now officially blog about the greatest event to hit my life since meeting Jesus, getting married and the births of my two children............(all several years apart!)

I am moving church. I have never done that before. Obviously this is something as a family we feel we are being asked to do. I came to faith age 14 in the church I am part of and work for. That was twenty-something years ago - so long ago I can't remember :-) Being called onto staff there five years ago was an awesome privilege. I remember still the feeling that I could hardly believe it....I got to work with and for my church family for God's kingdom to grow. How exciting was that!! And tremendous freedom to grow teams, develop vision and strategy, care for children and their parents, get stuck into evangelistic initiatives, disciple those new to the faith (or now release others to do that) and indulge in one of my greatest passions; lead/teach all ages together to hear and respond to God. How privileged have I been!?!? Spoilt actually. I've been resourced, supported, encouraged, released, forgiven (!) I've been given permission to dream big dreams, try new things and best of all, shape lives, as happened to me.

I will NEVER forget what has happened to me here in these "on the job" years but at a deeper level than that my current fellowship will always retain a memory of home; where a sparky teenager with far too big a gob was lovingly embraced.

Out of that which I experienced, I'm desperate to see that same nurturing heart towards children and young people demonstrated at the very core of a fellowship and if I can play even a tiny part in helping that to happen, then I will be satisfied. I will forever be grateful to the spiritual heritage and leadership of my current church who imparted so much to me.

So why the move at this stage of our lives?.... there's always to be MORE and we now realise as a family that we are being called out of a place of security and comfort and ease to minister to somewhere.........we don't know. In that fact that we don't know much about it, we will have to decrease so that he increases. What do I mean by that? Where it's me and you, God, chatting over many decisions, every day. Who will be my friend? Who will be my children's friends? And who can babysit? - that question on every young parent's lips.

It's been a long journey to get to the point where we were ready to move, full of questions, far too complicated to blog about here in detail, but all revolving around us attempting to walk in obedience to whatever God asked us to do. I'm ashamed of the moments where I hesitated but God is so faithful, he never gives up on someone who is honest and cries out "help me discern your ways oh Lord" (with loads of snotters and bawling and that was just Mr HIWWC)

There will be people reading this who have walked through the experience of being asked or called to work in another church and total respect to you: it's probably one of the hardest things I have ever walked through in my life. I thought giving up teaching full time to work for a church was jolly hard - pffff!! - at least in that job I didn't worry about my Principal Teacher's dismay at me leaving; nor feel disloyal, nor worrying about causing them hurt.

I was DREADING the announcement to the congregation and it feels like I have cried a million tears this week. People are gutted, there is no doubt about it, perhaps more because they thought we were in with the bricks. Some of the women with whom I had a deep pastoral input sobbed uncontrollably on my shoulder at the end of the service. THAT was hard :-( I cried a lot about that when I was alone at home.

One of my friends told me that when I spoke to explain why I was leaving there was an audible gasp; and I found it hard to keep my voice steady as I talked about the growing conviction of how it was time to be fruit given away; that it wasn't out of hurt of frustration or "not getting on with others in the team". The reality is that I truly love the people I work with, we do laugh a lot and we do support one another, so much that I was so afraid of making the wrong decision and hurting them badly. I'd be a liar if I said there was nothing that annoyed or frustrated me...but there was nothing bad enough to make me up and leave, making my family move house and leave friends and careers behind!

More about this will follow in days to come, as and when I feel able to blog a little about it. We move towards the end of the summer (ha. In Scotland the end of the summer could be.......28 June!) so there is much to be done. Apart from selling a house, I have a weekend away with P6s and 7s to finish preparing for in 5 days time and many summer activities to be worked on.

Oh gosh, and I have a NT exam on Thursday.......

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Break our hearts Lord

Kevin Prosch once sang "break our hearts Lord, with the things that break yours...."

My eyes are full of tears as I type this.
An eight year old boy, grieving for his mother and grandfather, hanged himself today in Lancashire. You can read about it here.

I am feeling such sorrow just now as I think of what must have gone through that little boy's mind as he prepared to hang himself. Oh God, how much longer must we see and hear of such tragedy on this earth? We long for your kingdom to come in power, for pain and despair to pass away. How far it is from your heart that little ones should bear so much pain.

Another life full of potential lost. Another child suffering the anguish of mental torment on the inside gone from this earth forever. All I could initially pray was thanks to God that Joshua was in his presence. I know that's where he is; where he can run and play again. I believe heaven is a reality!! In an instant, all was changed for Joshua. But not so for those left behind. Comfort them tonight Lord.
Pray for his dad, who has lost his wife to cancer and his son in three months.

I resolve again Lord, to watch for every child who seems to bear sorrow silently. To petition you concerning them, even when I don't know what to say. To stop for a moment in case they want to talk. To ask you for opportunities to be a listener to those who hide pain. Because it seems to me that as we do more "stuff", get busier, aim to beat deadlines, multi-task amazingly, co-ordinate work/family/social lives skilfully, we can easily miss the opportunity to love the one in front of us. "och, they'll be OK", I think. I know, I've done it so many times! Then the check in my spirit comes, take some time with this person, Lynn, I need to heed that prompting when it comes.

Lord, comfort those who mourn tonight.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Should I be worried?

Dear bloggers

Should I be worried?

At work, I opened my laptop bag today and found a damp (clean) black sock in it. I have no idea how it got there. It is mine though.

Two hours later, whilst walking across a busy road, a blue and white stripey (dry) (clean) sock fell out of my trouser leg. I picked it up pretty quickly, in case anyone spotted (and worse still, mistook it for a pair of pants).

Distractedly yours,

Monday, June 02, 2008

One for the girls....

Just back from Sex and the City movie with one of my girlfriends - what a great feel-good film about forgiveness (yes, really) and immutable friendships. There weren't many men there though!

This is a good week on the social front. Looking forward to it.