Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Determined not to spend these last two days....

....soley in prep. for the Big One, we ( me and the kids) went for a walk this afternoon.
Keith is at work, and tomorrow too - boo!

As we live in the town, we have to drive to anywhere half decent for a walk and had got a fair way to our destination + getting caught in 'Last Minute' traffic, before Thomas quietly said,
' Did anyone shut the front door?'

No-one could remember, so we had to turn round, go back home and check - it was shut (phew) but see comment.

The reason we couldn't remember was because so much always goes on as we walk out of our front door and today, the precursor to the door opening, was a row about what ball to take and who's ball it was - like it matters, but it quite obviously and painfully does!

As I was going through the rigmarol of 'Finding The Keys' the kids tumbled out into the street, playing with the ball and as I walked out of the door, it became apparent to me that Thomas had no coat on, so I asked him to get one. I then went to one of my neighbours to give them a prezzie ( the guy who couldn't sleep in a previous blog)...it's a book about God! My neighbours wife was emotional.

We eventually ended up in Bedford's Park - a huge expanse of woodland and parkland - we have a favourite walk to a blasted tree which is Monkey Heaven and my monkeys took great delight in swinging about on it. It was getting gloomy at this point and I knew we had forest to walk through, so wanted to hurry along. We saw a dead fox, which wasn't nice, but it gave the kids a sence of purpose as I suggested we should stop in the Visitor centre to let them know.

There was a real sence of adventure too as Joe took us through a shrubbery instead of walking along the path - holly hair was the result ( Hedge Backwards designs)

The Park boasts a huge herd of Reindeer so we went to check them out, to ensure they were ready for the Call Up from St Nick!

It was quite magical really.

As we walked back to the car park, it was quite dark and amongst the trees was a lamp post - Narnia style - lovely. We all stopped to gaze for a moment then walked throught the trees to the car.

One of the most evocative sound tracks to a movie I think there is, is 'The Lord of The Rings - The Return of the King' and it was on the CD player in the car as we drove out of the park and down the winding lanes back to reality. I took my time driving along as the houses, mostly very posh, had put on a fabulous Festive Light Show.

Awe and Wonder were in my heart, Thomas ,Elyse and Joe were in my car and the lights of Romford were glowing in the distance.

...to be continued.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Ok - it's NOT the Real Thing, but it makes me feel VERY festive!

Other things that give me that Christmas Glow are:

  • Hearing a Salvation Army Band play Hark the Herald Angels, but it HAS to be outside carolling!
  • Christmas Lights on my tree.
  • The last day of the school term, kids coming home in random paper hats and school bags full of cards from mates that they see every day, but sign the card with their surname too - funny!
  • The 'pop' that the Quality Street tin makes when you open it for the first time.
  • All five of us snuggled on a sofa for four watching a daft Christmas movie.
  • Hearing Thomas confess in a morning meeting that he doesn't ever think about what he wants for Christmas, but that he's just thankful for what he gets!
  • A 90 year old lady putting £2 in my collecting box and telling me that the Salvation Army looked after her when she was a little girl.
  • Seasonal Veg Soup (brussel sprouts!) with chestnuts, leek and bacon hand made by two of my lovely buddies.
  • Knowing that I can have a lie in tomorrow
  • Singing this, this morning, and getting emotional

Then let us all with one accord Sing praises to our heavenly Lord That hath made Heaven and earth of nought And with his blood mankind has bought. Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel Born is the King of Israel!

That's the REAL THING.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

The Advent Conspiracy

Check out this fab. site, bought to my attention by my cool friend and work colleague Michelle Leeder.


...and to help you out with spending less this Christmas Time, have a look at this list which I recycled from Judy's blog :

Christmas Gift Suggestions:

To your enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect."

Oren Arnold

I'd like to add one more:

To your family, TIME!

Happy Advent!

Saturday, 13 December 2008

No time to iron, but plenty to tidy up the Blog Roll.

If you haven't blogged since August basically - you're off ( for now)

Check out some new entries Faroe John, Ian M and Carus are worth a browse . Carus will link you to some other interesting types like Glyn and Katie. Steven O is CO at Failsworth in Manchester with his C-razy wife Lynley - she's Australian!...and Judy's is now linking to her new Blogspot Quiet Moments - lovely!

We're off to buy our REAL tree today with a root ball and everything :)


Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Curtain Update - because I know you care!

So, I got a phone call yersterday afternoon telling me that the curtains were in.

'Really?', I gasped, 'Oh my goodness that was quick....are you sure they are the right ones and not the original ones?'

'Oh, hold on' says the voice,' oh sorry you are right, these one have just been left in the trolley'

I am not too disappointed at this point but then the voice contunues with barely perceptable note of doom.

'Ah, Samantha ( my Nemesis) was just telling me about this one' she continues,' we are having to ring around as the material you want is discontinued, so we are seeing if we can source it from some of our other stores'

*gasp* again.

I go from feeling quite heartened by their service, which, if I hadn't goofed up would have been quite immaculate, to thinking that I reconfirmed my order last Monday and they are only just ringing round to source the fabric + they ring me to tell me that the curtains are 'in', when quite clearly they are not, and they have discussed the issue prior to me getting this call.

So there you go, I guess more will follow at a later date!

Monday, 8 December 2008

Please tell me if I've got the wrong end of the stick here but.....

.............I get an email from Children and Young People Now about ongoing and breaking news and quite a lot of it lately and not surprisingly, is about the reaction to various serious Child Protection cases that have been reported over recent weeks and months. This was in todays bulletin:

Kirklees Council announced earlier this week that two senior councillors would oversee a general review of the council's processes and working practices for child protection and safeguarding.

Jim Dodds, cabinet member for children and young people, said: ( italics mine)

"We are not carrying out this review because we have any specific concerns, but because we need to be seen to be responding to understandable and widely publicised national cases, which have an indirect impact on all agencies working in the field of child care, child protection, and safeguarding."

I have a real gut wrenching reaction about people doing things because they 'need to be seen' doing them. I have read this paragraph a number of times, and in the context of the article it was written, to see if I can somehow make it right in this case, to ensure that I am not flying off the handle here, but I just can't!

My question is - What will the review be based upon if they have no specific concerns and how much difference will the findings make if it's seemingly just a PR exercise?

Am I alone in thinking that sometimes I/we/people need to be brave enough to admit they have been wrong and step up to the plate, particularly when the safety of some of the most vulnerable people in our society is at risk?

I know the answer and I know the reality - sad isn't it?

Saturday, 6 December 2008

No time to blog? No time to breath.......

...but just two minutes ago I had a gift, a gift of an opportunity.

A chat with a next door neighbout as I was unloading shopping from the car - he asked me how we were going to celebrate Christmas this year - how has the credit crunch changed our plans? I had to confess, not that much as we have never gone really mad a Christmas Time anyway.

'Oh' he said, 'and the fact you have a faith probably makes a difference anyway?'

( Thank you God)

YES it totally does! He went on to tell me that he has suffered from ill health lately and isn;t really sure that tomorrow is promised, so when he goes to sleep at night, he's not really sure of his options - calls himself an agnostic and thinks that he'll end up somewhere, just where though?

We talked about the magic of Christmas Eve having kids in the house and here's where God stepped in.

'You know', I heard myself say, 'my faith means that when I go to sleep at night, any night, I have the hope and the anticipation of Christmas Eve in my heart, the promise of something better tomorrow'

He gave one of those lop sided looks that people do when they are maybe pondering something for a moment and don't quite know what to say...

( people DO look at me like that fairly often - is it just a ME thing or does anyone else ever get that?)

.....so I said,'Bless you, it was really good having this chat - hope you sleep well tonight'.

We both laughed and went on our way.


Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Tough week and it's only Wednesday? Pray this!

‘…‘I do not [make judgments] out of the narrowness of my experience, but in the largeness of the one who sent me…’ John 8: 14 – 18
God will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love…’Zephaniah 3:17

Verse 1
When the day begins
Let the morning bring
Mercy melodies that feed my soul
When the evening comes
And the day is done
Father, quiet me with songs of love

So I can know you
Hear what you say
So I can walk with you
To the places that need your grace

Verse 2
In my hopes and dreams
In everything I see
Your perception is the truth I need
In the things I do
All that I pursue
Thread your presence through the heart of me

So I can know you
Hear what you say
So I can walk with you
To the places that need your grace,

Lord I often trust in what I see and what I touch
Let my choices rest in everything you are

So I can know you
Hear what you say
So I can walk with you
To the places that need all that grace has achieved for us.

So I can know you
Hear what you say
So I can walk with you
To the places that need your grace
To the places that need your grace
Father this is my prayer today

Monday, 1 December 2008

It's Curtains for Me!

As feared, the curtains that were waiting for me at the Mill were indeed made to the original measurements - I take full blame for the wrongness of the measurements.

I visited the Mill this morning with my head so full of other stuff that I suddenly realise I am feeling no anxiety - OR maybe someone was praying for me. Either way, I was fortified.

My Nemesis turns to face me and I smile and say 'Hello, I'm Mrs Hall'. She gives me a blank look. I fill her in on the situation so far and the light begins to dawn. No-one has told her to expect me and I am disappointed, feeling guilty that I have more information that she does, and she works there.

Anyway, I trail behind her to 'The Desk' and she asks her supervisor if she knows anything, at which point I become invisible and the supervisor swings into full supervision by telling my Nemesis that she will have to sort it out.

I invite myself to take a seat and watch as the full horror unfolds - she can't find the paperwork, she refers to the Supervisor again who suggests she should make a phone call. She explains roughly what has happened to someone on the other end of the phone, getting a few facts wrong, but at this point I am beginning to feel sorry to her! The supervisor suggests that she check the curtains to ensure they are the wrong ones, and they are, but even wronger than my measurements. They have added a few centimetres, but not enough to make up the full metres I had missed, unfortunately.

While she is gone checking all this, the Supervisor turns to me to explain that she is encouraging my Nemesis to do this on her own as it will be good for her. I explain that I don't have all day.

Another phone call ensues and meanwhile I go and look at the short version of my curtains and I have to say, they are lovely - I could have cried!

Anyway, to cut a long curtain short, the Curtain Makers have actually mucked up, as the new measurements were sent through, but ignored as they are so busy and so my curtains are now 'remakes'.

The good news here is that I don't have to pay for them - only the wrong ones, essentially getting the ones I want for half price. Very cool indeed.

I am advised that I might not get them beofre Christmas but I don't care and suddenly I am their favourite customer - 'If only all our customers were like you', the supervisor says.

GASP! So, in this chummy mood that is enveloping us all, I begin to share my fears about habidashery and how this has only compounded them and the Supervisor confesses that she is intimidated by it all too, but the girls keep her on track.....on track....!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh dear me, how we laughed.

So yeah, my Nemesis, is just normal and we are now almost mates and I'm really looking forward to going to collect my new curtains - again!

Friday, 28 November 2008

Remember the curtains?

The ones that I had cancelled because of my awful measuring due to low self esteem with soft furnishings?

The ones where after I had phoned the shop to stop the order, I actually went back into the shopto the shop to confirm in person that they were wrong and gave then the right measurements that they actually put into the computer while I actually sat there?

Guess what's waiting for me at the shop?

After a fairly calm phone conversation today I have to go back to the shop on Monday to face my soft furnishing nemesis, as she had a day off today!

Hmmm, I actually have no words right now.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Woo Hoo - it's a zipedee do dah day! ( stolen from The Life You've Always Wanted)

I'm not massively well read, and it's all pretty mainstream, but a number of books I have limped through since the Summer have all converged today.

Put your seatbelts on and get ready to scream!

'We are in a war between dulness and astonishment. The most critical isse facing Christians is not abortion, pornography, the disintegration of family, moral absolutes, MTV, drugs, racisim, sexuality or schoool prayer.

The critical issue today is dullness.'

So says Robert Capon in The Astonished Heart - I'm currently re- reading Dangerous Wonder by Mike Yaconnelli ....

( I cannot recommend this book enough for those of us that need a reminder every now and again that, no matter how grown up, busy and important we might think we are, that we need to become 'like little children' to catch a glimpse of what God is about...in fact it's because we are so grown up, busy and important that it is of paramount urgency that you read this book!)

Anyway he uses this exerpt, which continues...

'We have lost our astonishment. The Good News is no longer good news, it's okay news. Christianity is no longer life changing, it's life enhancing.

Jesus doesn't change people into wild-eyed radicals anymore, he changes them into 'nice people'.'

I don't quite believe that bit - I think people are still called to be crazy for Jesus, but life, exprectation of others, dare I say church tells us to grow up and conform.

GK Chesterton suggests this:

'It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike: it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. '

I LOVE that.

Naive, innocent, playful, happy, risky, wide eyed - the easy option?

Do you want to change the world? ( one of my work collegue's favourite questions)

If so, I dare you to live in dangerous amazing wonder one day this week, or more if yu can manage it. Please let me know how you get on.

Dangerous Wonder is out of print now, but you can purchase on Amazon or E Bay second hand - it's how I got mine. ISBN 1-57683-128-0

Monday, 10 November 2008

Out of My Depth....in Dunelm Mill.

So, for far too many years the curtains in our bedroom have been AWFUL - they actually grate against my sensibilities, but I haven't had the time to sort them out.

Actually that is a huge excuse - what I meant to say was, I haven't had the courage to sort them out. Me and soft furnishings just do NOT go together.

The other issue is that our walls are made from cottage cheese so the curtain track is not at the top of the window, but actually within the window frame, meaning that the header tape needs to be 6 inches below the top of the curtain which equals Custom Made Curtains, which possiby equals a lot of money.

Frustratingly,I can't just wander into a shop, purchase ready mades and walk out - oh no , I have to speak to someone about it and I don't know the language - it's pathetic really!

So, today I had a day off and I took a deep breath, after spending the morning in prayer - I'm not kidding, but that's for another blog maybe and I wasn't just praying about curtains - I went to the local Dunelm Mill to chat things through.

After explaining what I needed to a helpful and friendly lady and making it very clear that I wasn't at all confident in this area, by actually saying, 'I am not at all confident in this area', to which she responded, 'You and me both, love' , she told me that she couldn't help me because they only did 6 inch header tape at the TOP of their curtains and that facility was only available in the Platinum Range, and something about me must have told her that I just wasn't a Platinum Range kid of girl.

However, she knew some people who could help me and escorted me round the corner to the Custom Made Section - my heart sank!

I had to tell my woeful tale again to a young lady who sucked through her teeth and had to refer to someone else, then beckoning me over to explain for the 3rd time what I thought I needed. I said, in a hopeful way that I couldn't possibly be the only person with this problem/. opportunity, but the looks on their three A level sewing faces told me that I was, and that they would have to ring the Custom Makers in Leicester to find out if this had ever been done before, while indicating to me that the Custom Makers were a touchy bunch who don't like change essentially. They are not even in transition!

At this point, I just want run away and I make the fatal error of telling them that that some other curtains in our house were made by a kind friend who didn't even flinch when I told her my problem - however the curtains I that I now need are really too big to ask her again.

They ask me to wait and slope off!

They return telling me that the Custom Makers are at lunch and can I come back? I know that if I walk out of this place, I will not return, so I helpfully suggest that I will browse around and maybe get a coffee, in their quite nice cafe. ( Another blog...hilarious!)

Eventually, I go back and one of the girls looks at me - she's in the middle of remembering a number - so she points at me and nods, then writes the number down and disappears.

I am asked twice if I need help (!) and respond by saying that I think I am already being helped, but am not quite sure, and then some one shouts, 'Is there a lady in a pink jumper out there?' (A dusty pink hoodie if you dont mind, but there you go)

Hurrah, they can help me,I am asked to go a choose the material I'd like and in a flash, it seems, my order is being taken.

I ask how much, expecting a substantial amount and recieve a lovely surprise - nowhere near as much as I thought, so I check the measurements again and it's all correct.

So, in four weeks time, there will be an update, but I feel quite grown up at the moment - I have ordered some curtains - a milestone!

Monday, 3 November 2008

Remind me why I worry?

Surviving Your Schedule by Rick Warren
An intelligent person aims at wise action, but a fool starts off in many directions. Proverbs 17:24 (TEV)

*** *** *** ***
Do you ever get to the end of your day and think “Did I accomplish anything today?” Where does all the time go? ( Nodding frantically!)

If you don’t master your schedule, it will master you. Here are three suggestions from the Bible for reducing the stress of your schedule:

Line up your priorities. Obviously, you don’t have time to do everything. You must make choices. You must decide what’s really important and what isn’t. Take some time to consider the direction of your life.

· “It is stupid to waste time on useless projects” (Proverbs 12:11 TEV).

· “You may make your plans, but God directs your actions” (Proverbs 16:9 TEV).

Lighten up your attitude. Do you really have to do everything on your to-do list? No one is holding a gun to your head. ( PHEW - I needed to hear that!) A lot of your stress is self-imposed. The Bible says that God gave us humor as a stress reliever.

“Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up” (Proverbs 12:25 NLT).

“A relaxed attitude lengthens life; jealousy rots it away” (Proverbs 14:30 NLT).

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength” (Proverbs 17:22 NLT).

Look up to God. Stress is always a warning light that you’ve taken your focus off God and are looking at your problems from your limited viewpoint. I believe the single greatest cause of stress is this: We take ourselves too seriously and we don’t take God seriously enough!
Need more time in your schedule?

“Fear of the Lord lengthens one’s life, but the years of the wicked are cut short” (Proverbs 10:27 NLT).

“Those who fear the Lord are secure; he will be a place of refuge for their children” (Proverbs 14:26 NLT).

This helped me today - it might help you!

Saturday, 18 October 2008

GOd had a plan when he made me, me because....

If I were a butterfly, I’d only have about 24 hours to live

If I were a robin in a tree, I’d be a right little bully.

If I were a fish in the sea, I’d .....um....what was it...um?

SO I just thank you father for making me, me.

For you gave me a heart and you gave me a smile,
You gave me Jesus and you made me your child
And I just thank you Father for making me, me.

If I were an elephant, I’d CHARGE!

If I were a kangaroo, .............BOING!

If I were an octopus, I’d probably end up in a tangly inky mess ( can't cope with two legs let alone 8!)

SO I just thank you Father for making me, me
For you gave me a heart and you gave me a smile
You gave me Jesus and you made me your child
And I just thank you Father for making me, me

If I were a wiggly worm, I’d not be tricked into coming to the surface by a bird tapping on the grass - uh uh NO way!

If I were a fuzzy wuzzy bear, I’d be really embarassed, as bears are not generally overly fuzzy wuzzy, would you say?

If I were a crocodile, I’d be a streamline supoer predator related to dinosaurs.

SO I just thank you Father for making me, me

For you gave me a heart and you gave me a smile
You gave me Jesus and you made me your child
And I just thank you Father for making me, me.


PS I hadn't realised just how resourceful this blog would be when I cut and paste the words to customise. If you click on the coloured words, it'll take you to a little craft idea about that particular animal!

Friday, 10 October 2008

Library Evangelism

Watching the news this morning, I was surprised to find that librarys are trying to think of others ways to get people to use them by, for example, putting a coffee shop in them.

One of the tv presenters has JUST said,'I saw the value of Libraries when I was a child, but as I got older, I felt that I didn't really need them any more. However, now I have my own children I really want to encourage them to use the library'

For Library, insert the word the Church.

The Librarian has just said that Libraries and more that just books, there is so much more to a library and people just need to come along and see. Librarians are normal people, just like me and you!

Seems like libraries have the same problem as churches and it's going to get worse for them too. With the internet, a whole generation of children will be raised without knowing the benefit of a local library, until one day, they will just become obsolete....unless..... The reality for churches is that we are a generation along and many parents have never experienced the value of church and a relationship with God, and so are not aware of the choice available.

Coffee - the way forward :)

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Safe and Sound Off!

For my friends who don't have a clue WHAT hat I'm wearing when they talk to me.

Liz Hall has a problem, she knows the policy and that means she is in a state of compromise the whole time.

As the DCO she sits in her Ivory Tower providing page and paragraph references to folks who actually can't believe what they have been told or what they have heard, and also a little bit of advice here and there....while trying desparately NOT to undermine the policy, as it shapes the world in which she works.

As the Children's Ministry Team Leader, she is trying to apply this policy to her Corps situation and finding it tough ( she's not alone here) so is considering tweaking it here and there, to be best fit....but her integrity is in danger. How can she say one thing from the safety of The Ivory Tower, but advocate doing another because it's what easiest for her, her team, people that support, and those that provide children and young people who attend the programme...parents, and the wider Corps.

As the Parent, she doesn't have a clue what's going on really. She isn't involved in high level conversations with the Youth Team. I suppose she could be, but she can't have her finger in all the pies - because she doesn't have enough fingers, but mainly because she likes pies and it would be a crime to stick your finger in one and not eat it and she's a bit overweight as it is.

HOWEVER she is concerned for the spiritual development of her kids and their friends, and she sometimes wonders why they don't want to be 'at the Army'. She wonders why some things that used to happen when she was a kid, don't happen any more and what might replace them.

While this might not be the best platform for my heartfelt feelings here comes my heartfelt feeling.

The SA Child Protection Policy has been in place for a really long time, but still issues arise around the safety of kids in churches, so it has been revised and the training is now longer ambiguous nor does in rely on people searching for implied meaning - it tells us what to do and how to do it.

For safety read not just physical, but emotional and spiritual too.

YES there's red tape and YES the cynics would say that it is actually only there to protect the SA, but here's what I believe the benefits are:

It means that we now have to think harder about what we provide for our children and young people and the people that work with them and it demands the best. It means that we have to consider recruiting more and better qualified human resources to support them and forces us to think and hopefully have constructive discussions about the way forward. It invites parents to have their say, it invites us to communicate better with parents.It empowers the children and young people and YES it makes us feel irritated and uncomfortable because the things that used to 'just happen' can't anymore, without more planning and provision.

It starts a conversation that might never have happened 'last year'.

On the face of it, it appears to say YOU CAN'T , and in a world where time is an issue, sometimes we may not get further than that but if Churches and Corps want to invest in their young people then this policy could be the tool to materially get us to start doing that, when looking through the sieve of common sence and sometimes under the banner of 'working towards....'

This blog does may not necesserily represent the opinion of The Salvation Army, but I would hope it comes close and it's what I think.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

To Do List

My 'To Do' list is pretty long at the moment and I'm trying to work out ways to spread this stuff out as there seems to be an imbalance from time to time.

Sometimes, I am figuratively twiddling my thumbs and other times I feel like so many things are coming up at once that as long as I'm pointed in the right direction I'll hit at least a few of them with a resounding YES, and the others will just get 'done'

I'm not appealing for your sympathy - we are all busy and often in fairly unmeasurable ways.

SO, if you asked me,' Are You Busy?' I'd probably say no...which is totally mad.

At the moment I'm blogging, so not busy in real terms, but once this is done and I've crossed it off my list.....*sigh*.....there are other things and people queuing for my attention.

Maybe I should patent a 'To Don't' list, would the Dragons fund me?

Saturday, 27 September 2008

That was the week - that was!

Saturday - My nieces first birthdays. Kids parties are so cool and man, those babies are cute!

Saturday Evening - Maze at the Apollo. See Mr Hall's write up about that but I agree, it was like being at a party and the worship was GREAT! ( Lost Wedding Ring)

Sunday - Was very tired...and had been given time off on FOJ in terms of leading. Just had to 'be there' and it was good. Looking at the Friuts of the Spirit and Peace was the theme this week, which fitted beautifully with Peace Week.

During the meeting,some of the guys who had gone to Zambia presented their thoughts,feelings and some pictures which was cool.

Sunday Eve - a Corps Finance meeting at our house about the Grand Opening of the SA Hall - exciting, but scary too.

Monday -official Work from Home day, and spent an hour looking around the refurbed Romford SA and meeting up with a couple of FAB people - you know who you are. Too much communication via email leads to a need to get grounded in company sometimes and it had got to 'that point' - again exciting but a bit scary too. Emails continued throughout the week, but I think it is safe to say that progress was REALLY made in some areas.

Monday Evening - Light Party Info Sharing Meeting. We are going head to head with Romford Town's Halloween Celebrations and hosting The Light Fantastic on 31/10/08. Other Churches in the town are supporting too which is really great. ( Wedding Ring found!)

Tuesday - See below.

Wednesday - Back in the office - Tom being looked after in shifts at home. Had a very dynamic meeting in the afternoon. Keith in The Wirral all day, so VERY tired when he got home.

Thursday - In the office again! and also met a buddy for lunch.

Thursday Evening - Classic FM Royal Albert Hall Gig. Brilliant. Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Emma Johnson ( Clarinet) Alfie Boe and Kate Royal ( Vocal) I cried in Ave Maria .Alison Balsom (Trumpet) and hosted by Simon Bates. Finale was the 1812 including fireworks!

Friday - Visit in the morning, office in the afternoon, Kids Club at The Base ( Chelmsford) in the evening - What a team!

I had been wearing my Wedding Ring on my little finger as my proper ring finger was sore and on the train on the way to the concert I realised that it was gone! (the ring, not the finger LOL) I am rubbish with jewellery, but had done pretty well with this ring up to that point! Quite honestly it could have been anywhere, but in Sunday Morning we were out in the garden where I had been hanging out washing, looking in all the places it might have gone- well obviously not ALL as we didn't find it. I had thought that with it being such a special thing it would just be there to find, but no.

ON returning home from the meeting on Monday evening, Keith and Joe had been playing Wii and Keith was complaining about a sore hand, asking me to have a look at it etc. I was telling him to grow up etc, but when I looked, there in his little finger was The Ring.. Turned out that it was in an overnight bag that I had packed for Elyse, as her and Tom had slept over at my mum and dad's. I had unpacked the bag on Sunday, but had mistakenly left her toothbrush in it, so Keith had gone to find it on Monday evening and there in the bottom of the bag was a glimmer of gold.

Hurrah all is well...until the next time!

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

I Love God!

Today, I was overwhelmed with Love for God. Nothing prompted it - that I was aware of - but I suddenly felt really full up with Good and Happy Feelings and didn't even think about attributing it to anything else but God.
I haven't had a particularly easy or reflective sort of day, if anything, it was relatively tough.
  • Argued with a family member over socks this morning - wouldn't wear them because they had holes in them - IT WAS THE PATTERN! What she really meant was that they were too small, but somehow couldn't say that, so I thought she was just being fussy.
  • Meeting in the office this morning - got out of it early which was a result and down to the graciousness of Mrs Boss.
  • Tied up a few loose ends - actually it sounds quite idylic up to this point doesn't it?
  • Remember to put my potato in the oven for lunch
  • Prepared for a meeting I was having after lunch
  • Sat down to eat lunch
  • Got a call from School - Thomas had been sick, and school is 30 - 45 mins away from work.
  • Phoned parents for assistance - no answer
  • Panicked - what to do about meeting?
  • Person I was meeting with arrived, went to meet them in the car park - had a chat in the car, will rearrange etc. They were very understanding.
  • Got to school and picked Thomas up,he proceeded to fill me in on how many bowlfuls etc
  • Got home and Thomas actually went upstairs to lie down. I was worried at that point - Oh he's actually really poorly.
  • 20 mins later he came down, hungry!
  • etc.

Tough, why?

Oh, that's easy - guilt, responsibility, guilt, resentment, guilt and so on.

However, taking Elyse to Choir later on I just was filled up and started laughing. Elyse wanted to know why, so I tried to explain how I felt - God doesn't just love us, he IS love and I love him!

Her response - Mummy, I God you!

Friday, 19 September 2008

8 Random Facts

I've been tagged by Judy, so here goes:

I was the best bottom second trombone player in the world - had to retire to give others a chance!

It was love at first sight for me when I met Keith - he took more pursuading!

My maternal grandma and my great auntie were twins, I have twins and my brother has twins.

When Keith and I were first married, we lived in a little flat in Barking.

I really wanted to be a PE teacher. ( see next fact)

I am a Homebird and the thought of going to Uni freaked me out, so I went to work for LLoyds Bank and spent a year doing Banking exams - Totally random. Passed Law and Economics, failed BANKING and ACCOUNTANCY!

For the first 18 years of my life, we went to Felixstowe for our Summer Holidays - Beach Hut, then moving up the Caravan. ( My 18th year we went to the South of France - SO cool!)

And finally - today I am going to have lunch at IHQ! ( Salvation Army International Headquarters)

People who should follow suit - Jenny Fox, Claire Tomkinson, Ann Borrett,Andy Hill, and Sarah Joy.


Friday, 12 September 2008

- isation or -ization?

The spelling is not the point actually. The point is that EVERYONE and EVERYTHING is getting '-isated'...or should that be '-ised?!

Words you can add - isation to :

Container - apparently soon the whole world will be containerised, which is what prompted this ranty response.
Forest...ok that's actually Forestation, but you mark my words, soon we'll be Forestised, once a global prgoramme of tree planting swings into action.

There's possibly more and that can be your Friday challenge, but the one that I can't quite get my head round is..... COLON!

I'm off to Clacton now for some Clactonisation - you all have a great day!

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Happy B'day! (Revised edition)

Yesterday was my birthday and it can be summed up using the letter B!

Barking and Babies - I visited and P and T group at Barking and spent some time chatting with a few mums about starting up a Bi weekly Toddler Church on a Sunday. They are excited and so am I!

Bug - Keith was laid low this week with a Flu Bug that extended to an upset tummy so yesterday morning I was kind of arranging the signing of my own birthday cards ( sad!!) as hde had taken the kids to town after school to buy them, and some prezzies, but the exertion of that had left him too exhausted to follow it through( possibly not a good expression considering his ailment ..eugh!). He was POORLY so, all is forgiven.

Bracelets and Beads - the kids got me some funky jewellery - looks a bit like a string of boiled sweets, YUM!! The kids at Toddlers were fascinated by the bracelet.

Birkenstocks - yeay, I got a pair for my birthday from one of my friends. Turquoise blue to match my toenail varnish.

Buffet - we had a buffet tea last night - for me, by me, as the poorly boy ( I can kind of tease him about it, now that he's feeling better)was still feeling averse to food. He did organise a rather splendid Chocolate Birthday Cake though, which can legally come into this blog as it was BROWN!

Blueberries - still loving them. They DO go with everything. Look great with strawberries and Granny Smith apples and taste just FAB.

( Bad News - a couple of my friends have had a pretty tough week, one thing and another and I caught up with some more bad news yesterday - thinking about you guys X)

So I'm considering having my Birthday extend through the month of September as we have a couple of events to look forward to which are 'Birthday Presents' - A trip to The Hammersmith Apollo to see 'Maze...featuring Frankie Beverly' who is probably about 100 years old now ( see Keith's Blog ).

When I first met Keith, Maze was his current fave band and he would sing and recite stuff from the current album ALL the time at work i.e.( imagine a Southern USA drawling accent)

'This is the place y'all, THIS is the place. ( sound of crowd cheering, yep he made the sound effect too)It's Sunday Mornin' y'all and THIS - IS - THE - PLACE. We're doin' a laav album and somebody said to me....( slightly more high pitched) somebody saaaaid, well waa did ( DID?) a laav album in New Orleens and Aa said well wa not...you dig,,,( high pitched) you dig?'( sound of crowd cheering).
The song was 'Joy and Pain' ( are like sunshan and rain oohh hoo etc ad lib)

I am also going to the Royal Albert Hall with Joe and my mum and dad to one of the Classic FM Live concerts - an enormous programme and featuring Emma Johnson playing Mozart's Clarinet Concerto, which Joe is attempting to learn - so pleasure and education in one evening.
Eclectic just doesn't come anywhere NEAR!
I've just got home from a trip to the town armed with an M and S Voucher and a Next Voucher . In M and S I bought what they are famous for....no, NOT food, and in Next, 2 bottles of perfume, one of which is remeniscent of my mate Fiona and I didn't realise until I got home and Elyse said - Oh you smell like Fiona!
This Blog was bought to you by the Letter B and the aroma of Passion! :)

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Wee Meme Too.

I have been nominated to fill you in on my recollections of these 5 eventful event and their impact on my life.

Princess Diana's death - 31 August 1997
This was the day after we had travelled home from a fab week in Wales with our good buddies Keith and Fiona Starling.Joe was and Mark were 3, Hannah was 7. I can't recall why I put the TV on that morning, but I did and just sat and gawped at the news. Keith was still in bed, so I shouted up to him and we both gawped. That day was the dedication of our friends Helen and John's baby Luke, so we had a lovely buffet lunch at their house and the talk was all about Diana.

Margaret Thatcher's resignation - 22 November 1990
To my shame, I can't rememeber the shenanegins surrounding this - We had moved into our house that year and were in the process of some rather massive renovation, living upstairs for about 18 months and I became quite ill at one point - this might have happened then - who knows?

Attack on the twin towers - 11 September 2001
I was just going out to get the children from school when the programme I was watching - some trashy chat show - was interrupted with this news. Another gawping in front of the TV moment. All the talk in the play ground was about the crash - at the time it was not known that terrorists were involved and it all began to unfold once we got home, but I had to wait for kids tv to finish before I could catch up!

England's World Cup semi final v Germany - 4 July 1990
This was the Saturday that the Romford Youth were involved in the Territorial Congress doing Drama, under the tutilage of Stuart Grinstead. So, as we were still in The Youth then, we all piled round to Keith and Fiona's afterwards to watch it on their tele - wasn't it the one where Gazza cried and... we lost. I recall Fiona being rather taken by Lothar Matteus ( SP??)

President Kennedy's Assassination - 22 November 1963
No idea - wasn't even a twinkle in my dad's eye till the January of 1964 - WHAT a year that was!

I nominate
Rich Borrett
Ann Borrett
My Bro Jon - if he's still bloggin that is.
Serena Hostler

Wednesday, 27 August 2008


So, there are always a few raised eyebrows when I tell people we have been camping. Some people actually look sympathetic as if it's a bad thing, others just laugh out loud or wrinkle noses in distaste.

I can appreciate that it isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I think camping has really bad press and so while we were away I tried to analyse what the good and bad things are and how, for us at least, the benefits far outway the inconvieniences.

First off, we generally book at a site that has superb reviews and great facilities - one year the Convienience Block ( Loos Showers Laundry etc) had a sauna and steam room!

Yes, you have to to walk to the Loo and yes, it can be annoying at night, particularly if one of the kids needs to go and it's raining and wellies and kagools have to be put on instead of your normal toweling dressing gown.This year the facilites were impecable - the cleaners were the most diligent I have ever met ( bar my mum). Ok, so the showers failed towards the end of the second week and that was just bad luck for us and the site owners , but we stayed clean and fresh smelling none the less.

Zips : can be annoying and there are loads on our tent, so there's a kind of zip symphony played as people go in and out, especially as we were battling wasps - but our tent has insect nets, so we won, most of the time.
The Weather : it rained lots this year and that can be noisy in a tent, but we were warm and dry when inside, which wasn't often as we went out everyday - part of the plan. However, when the weather is good, most things happen outside and that's lovely.

Food - well, we have a hob and grill and rustled up some magnificents feasts and barbequed too - not as much as we would have liked, cos of the weather though.
We never take any media tech with us - TV,Laptop etc, although we do have 'Electric Hook Up', so can charge up phones and DS's, have light at the flick of a switch, have a small fridge, use a hairdryer and have an electric kettle for that urgent cuppa. We nearly bought a cheap toaster this year, but Joe felt we would be selling out too much if we did, so we didn't!

Sleeping on the floor was never something I looked forward to and in our old tent, we were on a raised platform, but I was pleasantly surprised but how ok it was. Air beds are quite comfy and Keith and I use out normal bedding rather than sleeping bags, althought the kids sleep in bags. We have our own 'pods' to sleep in, so everyone has a place they can call their own and retreat to it as and when.

We live from day to day which is cool, and contrived this year to drive past Tescos every day on the way home from places to stock up for tea and breakfast.

So that's the mechanics of it and yes, sometimes you have to be very resourceful and sometimes it can be frustrating.

The benefits for us though are:

  • the simplicity of life - life at home is so complex
  • the 'being together' - having time to feedback to each other, playing games that we never play in normal life ( cards, Bananagrams etc). This really is the main thing for me. I appreciate holiday time is when everything gets easier and you could relive this experience in a cottage or a house, but there's a lovely intimacy to camping.
  • The fresh air !
  • The lack of pretentions all around - you can't hide much when all that separates you from the people next door is 6 metres of air and 2 nanometers of fabric

So, that's my case for camping and while some of you readers might know totally where I'm coming from, others might never understand, but that's fine - carry on camping, that's what I say!

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Clogwyn Station - Platform 9 and 3/4

Oh- er Big Hair! Anyway, here's one of the many pics we took on out recent holiday to North Wales - just about to set off on one of the shortest walks in the world, but made up for it in the afternoon by plodding around 6 acres of the most amazing garden and woodland at Glynlliffon , see below and well worth a visit - lovely!
Oh, and here's our new tent - love it!

We visited Canearfon, Harlech and Conwy Castles, went to the beach, walked, cycled a 16 mile round trip from Dolgellau to Barmouth to Dolgellau, spent a fab afternoon on a high ropes course, the grand finale of which was a 3G swing - Thomas's understatement was, 'That was emotional', saw lots of sheep and climbed Snowdon - well, we walked up the 'easy route'

At Halfway house, we had a picnic and purchased some Kendal Mint Cake for a treat when we reached the summit.

Helicopters were buzzing the trail the whole time as they carried stones from the bottom to various places along the path that needed some attention. We had originally thought it was for the Summit Centre, but were told NO - there's no work going on up there at the moment!

We carried on to Clogwyn Station - the final waypoint before the top, when I spectacularly hit the wall with about a mile to go to the summit. Would I have continued if it hadn't been Clogwyn 'Station' ( a misnomer if there ever was one - ok the train stopped there, but it wasn't like any station I've ever been to) - I don't know, but stop I did, got very emotional and sat down on a rock having waved my family off into the thick swirling mists of the summit to wait, like Gellert's dog, for their return.

( The following contains a massive 'spoiler' from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, so don't read on if you still want to read this book)

We had walked most of the way in t-shirts, but had carried plenty of layers to pile on, so I started by putting my thin sweat shirt on and began to take in my surroundings.

The train was in, but was just a shadow in the mist, as were the few people that were lingering near the train waiting to get back on, for it to descend back down to Llanberis. I could just make out a little hut and the track as it disappeared off to the summit, but visibility was poor and I suddenly felt very like Harry at the end of the book, where he meets with Dumbledore in a misty place reminiscent of Kings Cross Station, but not...if you know what I mean.

It felt as if the world stopped where my visibilty failed, and it was especially unnerving as there appeared to be a steep drop opposite me in the other side of the track. My eyes were almost watering with trying to see the track up to the summit and I was thinking that I wanted to go and catch up with my family, but I couldn't move - scary!

So there I was and to all intents it seemed, invisible to anyone else. Another train came along, disengorging it's passengers and the first disappeared down into the mist.

The passengers were mostly inappropriately dressed for where they were, and I guess as they hadn't walked up, were fairly disappointed with the terminus of their journey. The most imaginative comment was from a small boy who exclaimed that it was like being on the moon, ( which it REALLY was) but most others were moaning that there was nothing to see or do and what did 'they expect us to do for half and hour?'

I was cross really, and had bad thoughts about them all being freeloaders and wanted to laugh as they all wandered aimlessly in various directi0ns and vanishing into the mists to find...what? A gift shop, somewhere for coffee? Who knows. I had a vague memory of reading the Pilgrims Progress and thinking that there was a part where Pilgrim was tempted to wander off the beaten track to get totally lost. Would they return in time for the train, or were some going to attempt to walk down in Crocs, wedges, an assortment of flip flops? Who knew and who cared? Not me, I had walked there, earned my place on that rock and my family were currently showing Snowdow some respect - hah!

I put my thick sweatshirt on at that point and the cold began to seep in and with it a whole bunch of fears - stupid ones, but fears none the less. Having said that we had more signal on our phones than we had all holiday, so I could easily get in touch with Keith, but what if it started to rain, what if the last train had been and gone, what if I wasn't able to walk down the mountain....what if?

I eventually put my kagool on and began to wonder how the guys were doing, so text a message to say I was getting cold, so could they please run - they had been gone about 40 minutes at this point and how I began to wish I had gone with them!

Turns out the Kendal Mint Cake was in the bag they had left with me, so Keith phoned to say they has arrived and would be down soon, and I could eat some Mint Cake. You know, that stuff really works. It was the first time that I can recall of being aware that food is FUEL, not just for pleasure and could feel that sugar buzz generate some real heat and I stood up - yeay!!

Trains came and went and at one point a guard came over to make sure I didn't want to get on one and eventually the brave heros appeared through the mist. GREAT.Here's a pic of them at the top.

A group of people DID miss their train, but we managed to get 5 seats on one and began the slow descent. JOe was sad that we weren't walking down, but it was felt that a 7pm eta was not acceptable - however the train journey was awful. 3 of us were BUSTING and a baby was crying the whole time. Cries of ' Look at the lovely waterfall' were not helpful at all!

Anyway, the plan is that we return one day and try one of the other routes up - I will need to get into training and stick with my new found ethos of Food for Fuel, not for Pleasure.

So, the Halls are home and now have a new baby kite to care for -

Friday, 8 August 2008

This is my Mum.

She's going to be 70 on Sunday and I can't believe it. Neither can she to be honest.
My dad is not prepared to comment!

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Well, waddya know!

I have been visiting Summer Holiday Clubs over the last couple of weeks and have to say that I have witnessed some great and good practise, fab teaching, groovy dancing, LOUD shouting and stacks of fun. I have been really encouraged that folks are actually taking time out of their own holidays to ensure that kids get to find out about Jesus, that Church is a cool place and that people really care about what they ( the kids) think - YEAY!

Today was a bit of a milestone for one Corps who launched their Children's Ministry on the back of their Holiday Club last year, and this year, 25 kids arrived on the first day to learn about the Super Star children in the bible - DOUBLE YEAY!

I also spent some time with a friend who has been on a journey in every sence of the word, has made a pretty cool decision to continue on that journey and who I was able to chat with as an equal, if not the subordinate sometimes, in many ways - the YEAY GOES ON!

Finally, I popped into Tesco on the way home and bought, amongst other things, a bag of caramel coated sesame seed covered peanuts....JUST TO LOOK AT....and was checking out the pack for clues as to the the calorie content. There was no mention, so I am assuming they are calorie free(!) however, and I'm sure many of you have experienced this, but it's my first time, I was warned in NO uncertain terms that the product MIGHT contain traces of nut.

I really needed to know that more than the calorie content.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Juggling, Waiting and Praying.

Just an initial though - why is it that even when you....OK, I... get 999 things right, so that life runs smoothly and effectively, people will only notice the 1000th thing that trips you....OK, ME... up.

A second thought is - get a cuppa as this is a long old story, but hopefully entertaining!

This week as been a lesson in juggling - time , free time, kids time, work time, sleep time ( don't ever even think it's good to catch up on sleep when driving because it's not, and more to the point, don't ever try it) time to talk, time to dance, time to breath and have a chat...Ecclesiastes has a list. The funniest ( ie most frustrating) thing is trying to do two things that don't go well together, together i.e take Elyse and Thomas to work!

Ok, it was Kids Clubs and they can join in and the folks running them are kind and say the kids are great etc, but it feels odd for ME.

I also actually did try to learn to juggle hoops yesterday, and the concept is pretty different to juggling balls and also kids kept wanting to have a go too, which was ....annoying!

What is hard is being able to switch off when you can't quite finish what you've started because someone needs the loo or has spilled a drink etc and somehow, you...OK I...can handle it if it's someone elses child, but when it's mine it's just like being at home and I wonder why I have driven to Brightlingsea, Clacton or Colchester to do more of the same. Am I wrong? I feel wrong, but I know what I mean.

Anyway, I'm not the only person in the world doing this, so hats off to mums who work through the holidays - hurrah!

Our walk was great last weekend, but those of us who couldn't/wouldn't do the 17 miles extra had to find something else to do while the others did the walking. It was the most scorching day ever, so after a bit of time in a playground, we took the kids back to our lodgings to freshen up and go meet some more of the Mighty Fox Family, of which we are now Honorary Members, for a limited period of time.To be official you have to marry someone in the family and we can't really do that...although Elyse was getting on quite well with Nathan..hmmmm!

We spent a delightful afternoon siezing up in another playground by a stream and looking out onto the Peaks where our loved ones were being mercilessly burned to a crisp while singing Ilkley Moor no doubt, and where Jenny was driving up and down with supplies, to meet the walkers at pre arranged stop offs. Irritatingly, the signal was awful for mobiles, so there were some anxious moments when we really didn't know where anyone was, but ironically Zoe could get through from Zambia!

It didn't feel like waiting, because the company and the scenery and the weather were fab and I didn't worry that much either - which is amazing ( see praying)

What did feel like waiting though, because it was, was sitting in the most boring waiting room IN THE WORLD for Joe's name to be called to get his lacerated knee stitched up at the Hospital last night. I have blogged about waiting with people who have lost the will to live before, and I guess that the reason the folks were in this particular waiting room was that they were feeling poorly, but COME ON, it doesn't hurt to smile, does it? Obviously, it does!

Queens Hospital is by far and away the most confusing place I have ever been and when you ...OK, I... am a little stressed and all the instructions look like they are in Chinese and Thomas needs the loo and is STILL going on about the ice cream he dropped at the beach 2 hours ago and, Joe's shock has worn off and he's feeling pretty grumpy, and rightly so really, and Elyse is worryingly quiet, a decent waiting room isn't much to ask is it? Obviously, it is!

What added insult to the rather nasty injury was that we had given Joe's name TWICE at reception, but when Keith arrived, the receptionist swore blind that we weren't there, leaving him in a mild state of concern as the last time we had spoken, I was 20 mins off leaving Clacton, and the battery on my phone was running out, and working it all out using math, we SHOULD have been at the hospital...which we were, so the math was good - the receptionst was NOT.

I have also blogged before about an incident where I voiced a need - indoor plastic hockey sticks- and the need was met almost immediately. I recall praising God like mad about that because it was so cool.
My concern was and still is that I wasn't praying about it officially i.e. Dear God what I could really do with are .... Amen' but am convinced by the words in Psalm 139 that God did deserve the praise for that and here are two other examples of what you might call lazy praying, but the outcomes being absolutely worthy of praise.

Number One
The lodgings I spoke of earlier were in Pindale Outdoor centre and were utterly random, but fun. Jen and Den had also bought their tent, so as it was so sweltering, we stayed outdoors with them for as long as we could on the two evenings and shared breakfast on the Sunday. A number of families were camping as a Geocaching Event was taking place ( just google Geocaching, I'm not going into it here) and one family had decided that it would be convienient for them to park their massive 4x4 in a passing bay, thereby causing 'a bit of an obstruction' in the road.

Jen and Den had planted their tent at the top of a hillock over looking this family and SO the following day when it transpired that someone had let this guys tyres down, wrapped the vehicle in red tape and placed a parking cone on the bonnet, we had an ideal view ( this isn't the answer to prayer by the way - and NO it wasn't us) to see how it was all going to pan out.

I am ashamed to say that initially, we were all of the mind that it served him right. However, as time went on, and the jack had slipped causing the side of the car to scrape down the wall, we did begin feel a little uneasy, not least that we were more or less ready to go and would need to squeeze past him to get on our way. I began to wonder out loud where all the grace in the world had gone and then suggested that maybe we should pray, and possibly offer some assistance ( goody two shoes!) I then needed the loo, but Den's brother did go over to suggest a better place to put the jack 'avoiding the diff'.

On my return, I was greeted with - 'Your Prayer worked Liz!'

It just so happened that the Land Rover Club of Great Britain were having a drive out that morning past the Pindale Outdoor Centre and had every gadget this guy could need to jack the car up, crowbar the tyres back on and inflate them. Not just one Land Rover, but about 10 of them!! Lavish and Extravagant God - Bless You!!

I did own up to not actually praying the prayer in the formal way, but hey - the needs of a number of people were met that morning.

Number Two
And finally, I dropped the children off at my mum and dad's today and my dad who is a diligent War Cry ( Salvation Army newspaper) seller enquired whether DHQ, where I work, get a pile of War Crys delivered ,as our Corps order hadn't turned up ( this is a bit jargony , sorry!)

No, was the answer, because it is true.....normally!

I arrived at work to find Natasha, one of our Admin. Assistants standing at the door with a massive pile of War Crys ( LOL) asking if I could 'do anything with them, or might anyone I know need them'

Turns out, there was a bit of an 'oportunity'at THQ for things to go wrong this week and Harlow's papers had got caught up with another Corps, but they had ordered more thinking they had been lost ( which must have happened to Romford's too) meaning that when they came to light, they were returned to DHQ

My jaw is actually still in recovery from dropping to the floor.

Did my dad pray about the papers? I don't know.

What I do know is

'God,I am an open book to you; even from a distance you know what I'm thinking.... you know everything I'm going to say before I start the first sentence'

Psalm 139: 2 +4 The Message

Time to STOP

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Where there's Hope....actually where IS Hope?

I know where it is, and me and mine are going there tomorrow - how cool is that!?

Some friends of ours are lovely and mad, and love walking ridiculous distances over tough terrain and some times in the dead of night too and over the last 3 years have tricked Keith into believeing that he will have a good time if he joins them.
He has now tricked the rest of us, his lovely family, that it will indeed be 'bare jokes' if we joined in too.

So, I just found out about 2 minutes ago that the place where we are staying and starting the 'walk' from is in Hope,( which means 'a valley') in Derbyshire.

Apparently the walk is in a figure of eight and about 21 miles long, but it also goes up and down a few miles too - so add in that, plus any weather that there might be and the odd need for the loo and we are looking at a fair old yomp.

Having said that, Elyse, Thomas and I will only be doing the short walk - 3 miles + height and weather etc, along with another member of the mad family who has young-ish children. I have a feeling thought that they will already be accomplished in the walking thing, so fully expect to be bringing up the rear.
Joe and Keith will continue for the rest of the way with the others. Joe has been training and Keith is training tonight by going to play football with the guys from the Corps in the vain HOPE that running round a footy pitch at 10pm at night will provide him with all the condition he requires.
I too, have been training!
( Fiona, this will be just a warm up for you) I have been getting up at 6am, flinging on some 'sweats' and power walking for a half hour every morning this week. I think I found my stride today - a moment of suddenly thinking that I wasn't thinking about my technique ( heel, toe, hold in the tummy, swing arms and smile!), but was, infact humming a song. It was a fleeting moment and then the pain returned, mostly down the front of my legs at the moment, but I am advised that this will soon pass and then the real pain starts down the back of the legs. CAN'T WAIT!
Back to Hope then, at the north end of the village are two hills, one called Win Hill, the other called Lose Hill after some 7th century battle and Hope has the uncommon honour of having it's Church mentioned in the Domesday Book, something that no other North Derbyshire Town can claim. there is also an 'abundance of shops cafes and art galleries' . So certainly worth a visit...maybe some other time!
So yeah - three things remain- faith, hope and love. The greatest IS love, but I think Hope is going to be a great, if painful place too.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Am I Obsessed?

I bought a new beauty enhancing product a while back, one that needs time to be used properly - male readers, I'm sorry I can divulge no more than that - and have been umming and erring about using it. Oohh it's intriguing isn't it?

So this morning,as I have a 'certain amount of time' I 'm reading the active ingredients list and find that it contains alkali and thioglycolate. So what? you might be thinking.

Here's the thing and here's my concern.

I looked twice at that, because on the first reading, I read it as......


NOw that IS a problem isn't it?

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Sometimes, working from home....

...can be SO neat!

It was 10pm!!

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Welcome To My World.

The title of this blog is prompted by a comment on my previous posting and also is something that I actually wrote in an email this week...welcome to my world.

The email was about the intricacies of Safe and Sound - the SA Child Protection Policy - and I was quoting great chunks of it to a corps regarding how children should be transported in cars. Simple you might think...sit them on a chair, encourage them to do up the seat belt, turn on the engine and go? NO!

As I was writing, I could really sence the frustration that this might be causing and wanted to let them know that I know how they feel, how Safe and Sound shapes my work and how, yes, it feels hard,it IS hard sometimes, but with planning and risk assessing ( BORING, but so freeing!) etc it can all work for the good of everyone. Hence, WELCOME TO MY WORLD. Re- reading the mail ( way too much time on my hands!) I think it might have come over a bit naff, so, apologies to that corps if it did.

However, re: the comment on the previous posting suggesting that my world is, indeed, a strange and scarey place, which indeed, it is, I am going to rewind to Monday and our small group.
We had a very dynamic discussion, essentially about Grace Under Pressure. We majored on homosexuality in the church, as that was what Phil Yancy had set us up to do, but man, there is so much more isn't there?

How do you show grace to someone who just isn't in that zone, either ever, or at that particular moment and will misinterpret everything you say or even don't say as an attack, a judgement or a slieght ( right word??) I find that really hard in every aspect of my life; home, work, church.

I guess also, the times when I am feeling edgy, vulnerable,tired,stressed, bored etc would I recognise grace being shown to me ?

So my own response to my question, and I do that loads and it probably winds up my fellow Small Goupers like mad, was something like:

In the world of me, everyone will be like me...
I think I will make a Sims World of Me!

...which kind of indicates that I am the epitome of Grace and everything good, and my world is best.
Looking forward to any comments in support of this - those to the contrary will be EXTERMINATED!!

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

How do you know when.....

....you're too busy?

How can someone else judge if I/you am/ are too busy?

Surely it's all relative.....isn't it.
The picture is nothing to do with this blog - it's just pretty amazing and I'm still celebrating that I can upload pics again!

Thursday, 3 July 2008

For the Viewing Pleasure of my Friends....and then we will move on!

For certain folks information, it was actually quite difficult to find a demure picture of the lovely Halle Berry

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Fully Clothed - To Redress (!) the Balance.

Hmm, just as lovely with a top ON and not a porcupine in sight!( see comments on prev posting to get some context on that)
Normal sensible bloggage will be resumed soon :)

Monday, 30 June 2008

How to Measure Change.

I was just reviewing my blog, my body of work, my journal, my thesis, my LIFE!!...changed the template...hmmm not sure, then checked out my 'About Me'

Surely it will need updating, so much has occured since I wrote it.

No, it doesn't, and I'm not sure how I feel about that!

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

How Odd! ( See post below one this first)

Todays Purpose Driven Email


We Need Each Other: To Walk With by Rick Warren

Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, so walk in Him. Colossians 2:6 (NIV/NKJV)
*** *** *** ***
The Bible often compares life to a walk, because life is a journey; we’re not sitting still. Throughout the New Testament, we are told to walk in wisdom, love, light, and obedience. We’re told to walk as Jesus walked. We’re also told to walk alongside other people. Here are three reasons to walk with other people:

1. It’s safer. Have you ever walked alone at night through a dark alley or down a lonely country road? It’s a little scary. But if you have another person with you, you immediately feel safer.

2. It’s supportive. Life is not a fifty-yard dash; it’s a marathon. Walking with other people gives you the energy to keep on going until the end.

3. It’s smarter. You learn more by walking with others than by walking alone. If you’re walking alone in the wrong direction, you may never realize it. But if you have a friend alongside you, one of you is likely to recognize you’ve veered off the path and need to find the right direction.
We also learn some important lessons when we walk alongside other people. We learn how to get along with others, how to cooperate.

We also learn how to love. Genesis 2:18 tells us, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (NIV). God hates loneliness, and community is God’s answer to loneliness. When we walk alongside other people, we find a community where we learn how to love.
Walking alongside other people also teaches us hospitality. 1 Peter 4:9 says, “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling” (NIV). What’s your grumble? What’s your excuse for not opening your home to friends?

Maybe you’ve said, “My home is dirty!”
Well, clean it up!

Or perhaps your excuse is: “My home isn’t big enough.”
Can you put three people in it? Jesus says, “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20 NIV).

Everybody has a longing for belonging because God made us for relationships. When we walk alongside other Christians in community, we find that longing satisfied.

Been Walking Long?

Just a thought....

Last night Joe was involved in a music event at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the South Bank with the Havering Music School and we ( Elyse, Thomas and I) had arranged to go up on the train with another parent, to meet Keith at Liverpool Street and travel together from there.

Here's the thing - I don't know this parent, a mum, very well, and we have never walked anywhere together and on the jaunt from our house to the station we kept bumping into each other or catching onto each others arms. It was totally weird, try as we might, we just couldn't seem to do a straight line between us.
So, laughing by now, we swapped sides, she was now on my right - still no good.

Isn't it odd?

I guess if we walked more together we would get used to each others gait?

Make of that what you will.

PS the event was great, but another very late night!

Monday, 23 June 2008

2 Pints of Milk and a Packet of Ham...

...were my souveniers from Camp this year. Some people got sweets, other got baked beans, yet others received baking potatoes. The really quick ones bagsied the pallet of chocolate muffins - for their children - YEAH RIGHT!!

Everyone took home a little bit of sunburn after being surprised by the sun on Sunday, most took dirty wet washing - some ( not many though) left it behind. It's stinking out DHQ as I speak, but I'm ok as I'm not there!

I hope everyone also took a lasting great memory, as we were prompted to in Camp Fire Prayers on Saturday - the LONGEST day for so many mostly amazing reasons, not just because it was the Longest Day - by Ollie, to tied us all over especially today, when everyone will have struggled to get up and get going.

A third of the children who came to KAO this year were new to the event - for some, because of their age, it was their first and last KAO - shame, but just for a weekend we were able to get to know them, value them, teach them, listen to them and watch them find their feet, find some friends( sometimes partners in crime) find out about themselves too.

We saw little worship leaders emerging - ok they were urging on their teams in the Team Song, but the other kids were following them. We saw little pastoral carers, little visionaries, little fine tuners and big picture thinkers. We saw children breaking their hearts on Friday Night and then crying with laughter on Saturday. We saw team members doing new things like making scrambled egg, defying gravity on the high wires and sharing the news that on that very Sunday, their husband was going to the Army in his uniform again for the first time in a long time- emotional!

Lots of lasting memories for me, but the clearest right now was of one young man, an 11 year old tough nut who had fallen out with his brother during Get Out of That and taken it out on anyone who came near and had been confined to 'barracks' for some time out. During the final quiz time, the puppets were handed out and he was very keen to have one - he chose 'Lucy' and as I watched him chatting and playing with what was essentially a doll, sometimes giving it a hug, I saw the anger and frustration drain away from him and could really see the kid, the one whose mum would love him whatever he did ( I hope)

I hope he comes next year and even though I want to take my legs off and throw them away - I can't wait!

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Sometimes, You Can Know Too Much.

The Final Countdown has begun and I am now less that 24 hours away from the Divisional CM Residential Event of the Summer - Kids Alive Outside: Where The Wild Things Are - based on the book of the same name that was due to be released as motion picture in October, but now isn't - D'oh!

I have fulfilled the DCO bit as far as I am able at this late stage, bar packing the car to bulging point, and having a last minute catastrophe to deal with, and am now being a punter's parent, encouraging my kids to ' pack their own bags so they know where everything is'.Oddly enough, even though I know the answer to this, worrying about who they will be sharing a tent with and who they will be in a Small Group with - maybe because I DO know the answer!

I have planned every move that will be made this weekend if it all goes perfectly,and have contingencies if it doesn't. Then there is an amazing team of super dooper people who actually volunteer to support this event, and have given up hours of time already in planning meetings, running errands and preparation ( I HOPE...nah I KNOW!)and reading all my many emails.
I have even priced whole boxes of sweets at wholesale price, so that if they don't get opened during the weekend I can sell them on Sunday afternoon when it's all over, to Kids Club leaders and folks who might be running a Summer Holiday Club - that earned me some Brownie Points with the Business Department :)

I now want to forget all that and be excited for my kids who are REALLY looking forward to it - scarey!

Monday, 16 June 2008

1 Corinthians 13 - Piece of Cake?

I was feeling a bit fragile yesterday and those sitting around me in the meeting would have noticed, as I kept bursting into tears - sometimes in response to what was being said/sung etc and once when the band was playing - um - it was the tune which prompted the tears as opposed to the actual playing! One lovely friend gave me a tissue - kind :)

All kinds of reasons to be feeling this way I guess - a bit tired, a bit stressed, a bit busy with real life as well as work, being a woman of a 'certain age'? etc but also that very morning there had been a bit of a scene over a cake.

Elyse's friend is in a fund raising phase at the moment and her passion is St Francis Hospice, so they had rustled up a plan to sell cakes prior to the meeting while people were having their coffee. Elyse had volunteered us a to make a cake and had found a recipe in a Cook Book someone had bought her for a Christmas some time ago - Thank You Fiona! -The blurb under the title said,' an easy, everyday chocolate cake'

I was rather hoping to get away with some packet mix fairy cakes, but NO!

So on Saturday Afternoon we set about making our cake - I do NOT bake and so, dusty cobwebby ( not good) memories of Home Economics came drifting to the surface as we pondered over the meanings of 'beat' and 'fold'. Elyse and Thomas wanted to help which was lovely, but not feeling overly confident myself, I had to exude confidence and control in heaps, while trembling away on the inside.

Finally the mixture made it to the greased amd lined tin and into the oven - the kids were actually more interested in licking to spoons at that point.

A life time later, it was done and had risen in the middle - not the flat top of the picture in the book -and there was a rather large crack in it too but hey! and was then left to cool, until Sunday Morning when we set about the buttercream bit and the final flourish of frosting of icing sugar and cocoa.

To put what happened next into a bit of context, I have some friends who are great bakers, marvellous bakers, superlative bakers and although it is totally stupid, it really mattered to ME how this cake looked, so when I returned to the kitchen and looked at the cake to find that someone had gone to town with more icing sugar - it looked like Mount Everest had landed on the top - I shrieked, 'Who has done that to The Cake?'

The culprit wrongly suggested that it is only a cake and it doesn't matter how it looks and I made a knee jerk reaction at that highly charged point that we were not going to take the cake, at which point, a quite literally, all hell broke loose.

I have mentioned before that our family have a habit of arguing about the smallest thing and suddenly everyone was having a go and each other about this, while also dragging up any other ammo they could find. I found myself saying that it was ok, it didn't matter, it IS only a cake, and the Phantom Icer was profoundly sorry etc. and then I had to retreat to my room where these words popped into my head,

'Love does not keep a record of wrongs'

and I made up my mind there a then to intentionally live out 1 Cor 13 to my family, to role model love to them until it hurts.

Richard then said in the meeting that he had been speaking to a group of people about being the change that you want to see - or something like that - so I am resolved!

Thursday, 12 June 2008

A Bone of Contention?

Purpose Driven Daily Devotional today ends with this:

Focus on knowing God – Knowing God is more important than knowing the details. Oswald Chambers says, “Living a life of faith means never knowing where you are being led. But it does mean loving and knowing the One who is leading. It is literally a life of faith, not of understanding and reason – a life of knowing him who calls us to go.”

I have one friend who has profound thoughts on this, - whether they are expressed here in comments remains to be seen.

For me, a big picture person, this comes as a great relief. I struggle with the details; I prefer function over form, I am a do-er who just wants to reach out and know that I am holding God's BIG hand.

For the 'fine tuners' out there, this might seem like a bit of a cop out and it might also suggest that I am fab at living by faith - I'm NOT!

I HATE pardox too!

As an aside - I love holding hands generally anyway. Thomas held mine on the way to school today and I could feel that he has grown since the last time we did that, which wasn't so long ago. The fact that his trouser legs are flapping abound his ankels and his sweatshirt cuffs just about cover his elbows is also a clue!

Friday, 6 June 2008

HInts and Tips on How to Run, Win a Race...and wellbeing generally!

The walk to school was very informative this morning as Elyse and Thomas have been trying out for the school athletic team. Well, I say 'trying out'. It seems that everyone has a go during a PE lesson to be fastest, highest, longest and it can get quite cut-throat especially in the final stages when the kids who haven't got though start to cheer for their own personal champion - all of this and more in a 25 minute PE lesson ( taking into account getting ready, getting changed etc).

So, I was educated this morning in the finer points if I wanted to win any race I might find myself entered for.

Tip 1) Keep your head facing forward and look serious
Tip 2) ( this had to be demonstrated) Make sure your arms are going like 'this' - pistons on a train sort of thing
Tip 3) Make your legs go faster than if you were just walking...again with a demonstration.
Tip 4) Try not to be nervous - trembling and feeling sick were pointed out as indicators that I might feel nervous.
Tip 5) Ensure there is complete silence before the whistle blows for Go. If you miss the whistle, you are a loser ( harsh, I thought)

I was then given various accounts of children who hadn't followed these tips and the misfortunes that had befallen them yesterday afternoon;
  • Matteo fell over
  • Jake bumped into Jason ( they are joined at the hip anyway, figuratively speaking, so I wasn't at all surprised to hear that)
  • Faye didn't even start...AND she could hear the whistle and everything.

I suggested that nerves might have played a part here, but it turns out she was cleaning her glasses or something!

Thomas's class have to try out again today as Miss Andrews lost her piece of paper(!), but the tip of the day for all round wellbeing from Thomas was this gem,

' Don't spit into the wind'

and this, apparently, is good even if you are not running in a race.

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