Sunday, 31 December 2006

Bloggin' Question.

Hey Bloggers!!

Just interested to know if, when you are posting a new post you:
a) title it first or
b) change your mind at some point and re-title it at the end or
c) just title it afterwards?

I title it first, I publish as soon as I've blogged, I don't do drafts and I don't type it up in another document - just so you know.

I know NYE is a complex time for some people but,whatever you are up to later, I hope it's great fun, it's with people you love best, or at least second best and that 2007 dawns like any other day - full of possibilities and opportunities.

Friday, 29 December 2006

Just a breath.

Christmas cheer temporarly halted in the Hall household.

Our ancient cat Smudge has been getting older really quickly, lately and this morning we had to take him to the vets. He isn't coming home.

Quite sad actually.

The difference between life and death - well just a breath really. It's all the stuff in between that's so cool isn't it, but that depends on what life you've got or what kind of mood you're in or even what age you are, I guess?

I hope our cat knew he was loved, because he really was.

I hope my friends and family know how much they are loved, but only I can make sure they do. Resolution for 2007 -make sure I do!!

Thursday, 28 December 2006

It's not over yet - is it?

Highlights of the season so far:
Christmas Eve - the visit of the Youth Fellowship, resplendent in fancy dress as kids TV characters, singing (!) carols outside our house ( we weren't going to let them in - not in the mood they were all in!)
Christmas Day - well prezzies of course. Elyse thought she might start extra early and came in at 4 am saying she was cold ( this has never happened before!) I persuaded her to go back to sleep, but at 5:30am she returned and began discussing her strategy for the Grand Opening, which began something like,
'well I should really go first as I was up first, but should it then go in age or height order, mum......mum........ mum, wake up, what do you think?'

It seemed like HOURS later that we were at Church ( That's The Salvation Army, if you're reading this mum - see a blog in the future re this) and our ministers ( officers) did a really great Christmas Day service ( meeting)
What was extra lovely was having the time at the end of the service to chat with some people over a coffee and a(nother) mince pie.

In the afternoon, we went to visit, well I say visit, they are only up the road really, my brother, sisiter in law and niece ( SO CUTE) and my mum and dad were there too, so that was.....well, lovely!

Boxing Day - went to visit Keith's sister and family + his mum and dad. We got there using MY SAT NAV ( He's called James, as in 'Home James etc' and is very charming)They live in Enfield, so it was worth turning it on and Keith drove, so I could play with all the buttons.

Phew, surely that's enough I hear you say.....hello, anyone there?

Weds saw the return visit of my bro and co to our house and Keith tricked us all into watching the DARTs, which according to Sarah IS a Sport.

Thurs - we chilled in the morning then had more visitors this arvo ( Ann and Richard Borrett, Hannah and Ed and Ann's mum and dad)So we chatted and the kids played then we cooked a monster chilli, bits and bobs for the kids and far to many desserts, but hey, it's still Christmas, isn't it?

So, we're having a cool, if VERY fattening time and it doesn't stop here - fill you in later!

Thursday, 21 December 2006

It's happenening!!

Well, finally, over the last couple of days that Christmas Buzz is working it's way though the layers of ...normality for want of a better word, and there are THOUSANDS of those, but none that fit it the special way that 'normality' does at THIS moment in time. Anyway, I digress ( often!)

I think it's because my Christmas Hols have begun, and I'm remembering what it's like to be 'just Mum' and I've wrapped some prezzies...and I'm even having a trial run at Christmas Dinner tonight - just in case I've forgotten.

HOWEVER, a few things, so far that have really filled me with Christmas Joy this week, in no particular order - oh I really miss Xfactor :
1) Going with our Junior Choir to an Old People's Home on Monday evening. The children were really giggly and excited and the folks responded SO well to them.

2) Going to an Carol Service in a Barn with real animals!
Hadleigh Training Centre does an amazing work and provides hundreds of opportunities for adults with special educational needs, and the trainees took the lead roles in the Nativity. They were so excited too and their enthusiasm really was contagious.

( The Three Kings were dressed as Elvis!!)

Oh, and I've lost my voice - nuff said!

Tuesday, 19 December 2006

Things that make you go 'hmmm'!

Watching the news with Joe (12) is brilliant. Tonight he had a comment about every item, some thought provoking, some....well funny really.

Here's his take on the budget for the Olympics.
( and he laughed with us, so I'm not exploiting him... I don't think!)

'£8million pounds? That's lot of money, I mean all they need is somewhere for the dry events and a pool!'

We can see the application forms now:
Wet or dry?

Oh, and here's a question to consider for a split second - Is darts a sport?

Is there the relevant amount of activity required to catagorise it as sport, or is it just a 'competitive event'?

You see, it's not in the Olympics, is it?

And finally, why do red and green look SO festive?

Monday, 18 December 2006

Come on...use your imaginations!

So, if Christmas were a person ( an anthropomorphic personification!!)...what would he/ she look like?

If it were a smell, what would it smell like?

If it were food, what would it taste like?

If it were a song, what song would it be?

The reason I ask, and I am interested in your responses, is that when a cross section of our church community were asked, What does the Joy of Christmas mean to you?, they all more or less said the same thing and it referred to children and presents.

So my final question to ponder is that very question.

What does the Joy of Christmas mean to you?

Travelling home from an engagement this afternoon, I was listening to the radio and heard some rapper, soz, don't know his name, tell the story 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas' - the Dr Suess kids classic tale!

He kind of experiences a conversion at the end of the story and the only thing it is put down to is The Spirit Of Christmas.

And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: "How could it be so?
It came without ribbons! It came without tags!"
It came without packages, boxes or bags!"
And he puzzled three hours, `till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store.
"Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"


Sunday, 17 December 2006

Hogswatch III

Um...disappointed really.

Thing is Terry Pratchett's humour is very verbal - his descriptions are clever, genius even, and it all got lost if I'm honest. I had to keep explaining things to Keith and Joe, which was frustrating for all of us. Still there is always tomorrows episode, which from the LONG trailer, looks like it may contain all the action.

However, Torchwood was VERY good this evening.Even Keith stayed awake and he's ill.

So, all the carol services are done,* just a few bits and bobs of carolling to mop up, and this time next week, the Youth Fellowship will be singing carols outside our house to herald in Christmas Eve - brilliant!
* By the way, the kids at our Corps were amazing in the meeting this morning: fun, games, a few carols, cutting egde Primary item accompanied by the Worship Band - how cool is THAT?, the obligatory sketch by the Junior Bible class - highlight of the morning, the narrator saying,'Thus spake the Seraph and forthwith appeared a shining THONG, and raised £41 selling cakes afterwards for International Development, along with a few eyebrows.
Oh yeah, and The Way It's Gonna Be as a grand finale!

JOY to the World - it's out there somewhere!!

Thursday, 14 December 2006

Hogswatch II

Click on this for a sneeky preview.

Soundbite from the director:
It's actually about one of the most fundamental things in the world which is - what do people believe in?


The incomparable Terry Pratchett finally agreed to have one of his incredible books made into a film, and so, on Sky One on Sunday at 8pm you can see the results and watch his amazing characters come to life, if you like. I like!!

Monday, 11 December 2006

This week's Big Issue....for me that is!

My rant of the week is about Salvation Army Uniform.

I wear SA Uniform and yes, I’m proud to wear it. I have never really questioned why I wear it, there perhaps have been times when maybe I shouldn’t have worn it…and there possibly are times when I SHOULD wear it and don’t, but I have never resented putting it on.

Initially, I made a faith commitment becoming a Senior Soldier and the upshot of that was that I could wear uniform – an outward sign of my commitment to God and the SA. It also meant that I could be in the Songters and play in the band, and as this was something all my friends were doing then I wanted to as well.

I wanted to be seen to be belonging.

The questions in ‘this day and age’ seem to be:
Is the Uniform relevant?
Is it a barrier to people coming into our buildings and services?
Can I effectively work in Children’s Ministry in it?
Can I be actively involved in my Corps if I don’t wear it?
Am I a second class ‘citizen’ if I don’t wear it?

Thing is, I am not in the band and songsters anymore – my choice, I wasn’t ASKED to leave -so essentially I don’t HAVE to wear my uniform on a Sunday and I have nothing to prove to anybody in my Corps, but I still wear it.


Could it be due to the stigma attached to leaving it off?

a) One weekend I had inadvertently left my uniform in the cleaners and MORE people came to speak to me on that Sunday morning than usual. They wanted to know if I was ok? I explained that I was embarrassed, but that was about it. They thought something was wrong – that I had done something wrong or that someone had offended me SO much that I had decided to leave. I wondered why I might have turned up at the SA that day to prove that I had left? Very odd.

I had left my uniform in the cleaners, hardly a hellfire and brimstone offence.

b) Attention seeking?!

Could it be that I don’t have enough variety of smart casual clothes to wear to church, so I have no choice?

Mmmm, possibly!

Could it be that I am so programmed to put it on that it wouldn’t occur to me to leave it off?

Mmmm, possibly THAT too.

Could it be that I think I am being a super role model to the children and young people in the Corps?

I actually don’t know about that – I mean, why would the children and young people want to wear the same clothes as their parents?

Could it just be that I see it as part of my ‘duty’ ( naughty word) as a soldier ?

Oh, it’s all very confusing?

Here’s the thing:
Wear it or don’t , but don’t ever, ever treat it as a costume!

Call me old fashioned and sentimental if you like, but it is actually worth more that that.

Thursday, 7 December 2006

Who are you...again ?

Seriously, the whole world is getting in on this!
Transcript of phone conversation I had today:

Dialed phone number expecting to speak to a certain person.

Person picks up, says - Hello, in a warm welcoming way.
I say - Hi , how are you?
They say - their name.
* not the response I am expecting and a totally different person too.

I say - Oh you sound just like - the person I was expecting to speak to.
They say - Oh I thought you said - who are you? That's why I said my name.

Well, you had to be there but oh, how we laughed!!

It was very quiet in the office this afternoon, that's why the above was a highlight, together with the very Neo- Christmas decorations that have appeared suspended above our desks. Looks a bit like Debenhams now, only on a smaller scale obviously.

Tuesday, 5 December 2006

Who am I and more importantly, what's my favorite carol?

In response to a number of my friend's thoughts on identity - theirs and mine, I add this to the mix. It's certainly NOT a definitive answer, but it might help? If it raises more questions than answers, which it MIGHT, then please comment:

I am accepted...

John 1:12
I am God's child.
John 15:15
As a disciple, I am a friend of Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:1
I have been justified.

1 Corinthians 6:17
I am united with the Lord, and I am one with Him in spirit.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20
I have been bought with a price and I belong to God.

1 Corinthians 12:27
I am a member of Christ's body.

Ephesians 1:3-8
I have been chosen by God and adopted as His child.

Colossians 1:13-14
I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins.

Colossians 2:9-10
I am complete in Christ.

Hebrews 4:14-16
I have direct access to the throne of grace through Jesus Christ.

I am secure...

Romans 8:1-2
I am free from condemnation.

Romans 8:28
I am assured that God works for my good in all circumstances.

Romans 8:31-39
I am free from any condemnation brought against me and I cannot be separated from the love of God.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22
I have been established, anointed and sealed by God.
Colossians 3:1-4
I am hidden with Christ in God.
Philippians 1:6
I am confident that God will complete the good work He started in me.
Philippians 3:20
I am a citizen of heaven.
2 Timothy 1:7
I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind.
1 John 5:18
I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me.

I am significant...
John 15:5
I am a branch of Jesus Christ, the true vine, and a channel of His life.
John 15:16
I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit.
1 Corinthians 3:16
I am God's temple.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21
I am a minister of reconciliation for God.
Ephesians 2:6
I am seated with Jesus Christ in the heavenly realm.
Ephesians 2:10
I am God's workmanship.
Ephesians 3:12
I may approach God with freedom and confidence.
Philippians 4:13
I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.

"The more you reaffirm who you are in Christ, the more your behavior will begin to reflect your true identity!"(From Victory Over the Darkness , by Dr. Neil Anderson)

MOVING SWIFTLY ON...the title of this blog is not meant to belittle our searching for identity, but I wasn't oringinally going to blog about that. What I WAS going to ramble about was my favourite carol.

It's a shallow tale, but worth the telling.

In the 'Olden Days', when I was bottom second trombone in our Corps band and when the SA Carol Tune Book was different than it is now, number 1 was Hark the Herald Angels, and as such became the first carol of Christmas - we had a methodical bandmaster!!

So , even though I recall my part being all the same note, or maybe I was just rubbish, those first chords of that classic Christmas tune really heralded (!) the start of Christmas for me.

I've scanned it for 'dodgy theology' and I THINK it's pretty clear of it,at least, there is no mention of Christmas Bells or candy canes.

Hark the Herald Angels sing Glory to the New Born King!!