Monday, 28 April 2014

Monday Musings: What Would Jesus Do?

In our little town of Letchworth Garden City we only have one small, but very resourceful, Christian bookshop. While browsing I came across this bracelet last summer and since these have my favourite colours in it I thought I would treat myself:

What Would Jesus Do bracelet 
We are living in a material world and though I am not a particularly material girl (try saying that without getting Madonnas hit song stuck in your head) I cannot help but like pretty things especially when they are pretty Christian things.

For me personally I am proud to show the world that I am a Christian, and I am even happier when I can find something that matches my outfit or looks reasonably stylish.

I cannot help but wonder however if these 'fashion' designers are aware of the importance of the Christian symbol of which they are using on the high street. Symbols are everywhere and symbols have meanings. When you see the golden arches of a fast food chain you know what you are getting. Is it the same then when these mass produced fashion statements are produced for the worlds catwalk?

When doing a spot of window shopping I sometimes get offended when I see a tshirt or dress with a cross and then scary skulls all over it. I would happily wear the tshirt or dress with just a tasteful cross on it. It has given me an idea for S-T-O-C-K-S in that if we get some plain tshirts we can get the children to colour over a template of a cross on top of a hill. I found the following image on My Pinterest which I think would make an excellent template for a tshirt, with the potential of writing S-T-O-C-K-S on the back:

Picture from Pinterest

As I said I am proud to wear my faith I even have rings, and necklaces. As long as what I wear is not garish or outlandishly offensive then I will wear it wisely. Last year for my birthday one of our congregation members and friends bought me this beautiful bracelet to match one of my rings:

I wear them on my left hand as that leads directly to my heart. What could be closer to my heart than God.

What's your view? Would you wear your faith on your sleeve as it were?

Until next time,
Every Blessing

Kate at S-T-O-C-K-S

Sunday, 27 April 2014

S-T-O-C-K-S Sessions - Recycle Flowers

I am forever trying to come up with ideas to teach the young members of our Church about God and the Bible. Sometimes I come up with ideas while in the car, or waiting for my son to finish his afterschool clubs. Sometimes they come while I am at home with my son and we are talking about the Bible and Church. He is a great source of inspiration.

I know it has only just been Easter but I thought of a good way to recycle your Easter Egg wrappers which reminded me of a project Joseph and I did just after Christmas last year.

In the lull between Christmas and New Year we were sat eating our body weight in chocolates and wanted to do something creative. Joseph came up with the idea of making a flower for our family. As he continues to munch through the chocolates I cut out a template and got the glue. Straight away he started to stick bits of the shiny paper wrapping from the chocolates onto the card.

These would make a great May day gift or Mothers Day or just for Family Day. To be honest who doesn't like receiving flowers and the great thing is with these, apart from eating the chocolate, is that the flowers last forever.

I must say it looked rather sparkly so of course we had to eat a few more chocolates to complete our flowers - we could only manage one in the end ;-) But here are some how to's if you would like to try this at home or for your Sunday School as a May Day present:

You will need: 
Card/thick sugar paper
Chocolate wrappers
Old wrapping paper

Picture 1. - Draw your flower template. Start tearing pieces of tissue paper for the centre of the flower.

Picture 2. - Tear some of the chocolate wrappers and start to stick those down on one petal. Mix in some old wrapping paper patters also. add a boarder around the centre of the flower to really make the different colours stand out.

Picture 3. - Continue to decorate the petals around the rest of the flower - *warning* you may have to eat a lot of chocolate in order to do so.

Picture 4. - Attach a thick straw to the centre back of the flower using sellotape.

Picture 5. - The finish products ready for you to give to your family members.

Picture 1.  Draw your flower template. Start tearing pieces of tissue paper for the centre of the flower.

Picture 2.Tear some of the chocolate wrappers and start to stick those down on one petal. Mix in some old wrapping paper patters also. add a boarder around the centre of the flower to really make the different colours stand out.

Picture 3. Continue to decorate the petals around the rest of the flower - *warning* you may have to eat a lot of chocolate in order to do so.

Picture 4.Attach a thick straw to the centre back of the flower using sellotape.

Picture 5. - "For Nanna and Bampa"
 The finish products ready for you to give to your family members.

Until next time,
Every Blessing

Kate at S-T-O-C-K-S

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday is a chance for us at St. Thomas' to look back at at all past events and share them with you. I have so many pictures from different services to when I was a child at one of our fairs on the grassy grounds in front of our Church. Sadly we don't get chance to do any of these any more but what fond memories we have of them. 

I also have a collection of leaflets advertising our Church and our services for the local community. One of my favourite cards was a Welcome Back to Church service invitation. I liked the fact that we dedicated an entire service to welcoming people to our family, but I think it is something we should do all year round and so I would like to see a variety of invitations which we could use all year round.

Here is the invitation we used a couple of years ago:

We also had some postcards with some great art work on them created by which was supported by Traidcraft. Here is my favourite postcard entitled A New Day by Nigel Done:

If you were thinking about coming back to Church or coming to Church for the first time, how would you like to be welcomed?

Until next time,
Every Blessing

Kate at S-T-O-C-K-S

Monday, 21 April 2014

Monday Musing: Kate on Teaching

Education Sunday was on the 16th February 2014. It was a chance for me to stand up yet again and speak to our congregation on why I want to teach. I am like the young lamb of the congregation bounding about with enthusiasm and energy but I do take time to take stock and listen to those who have had more experience than me. For as many fresh new ideas I may have been blessed with there will undoubtedly be more than double tried, tested and successful ones from before my time.

One reading was an excerpt from the German theologian Hans Kung on Education from 'On Being A Christian':

The Christian message gives no detailed information as to how the scholastic and vocational training system is to be better and more effectively organised, how curricula are to be worked out, training and educational programmes implemented, education problems solved, institutions governed and children educated. But the Christian message has something essential to say about the attitude and approach of the teacher to the child and the child to the teacher, and also about the reason for commitment even in the light of the face of disappointments and failures; that in the light of the person of Jesus education can never be for the sake of my own prestige, repute, interest, but for the sake of the one who is entrusted to me. Education is understood therefore as non-repressive, as mutual; service regardless of precedence. This means that the child never exists simply for the sake of the teachers, nor indeed the teachers simply for the sake of the children; that the teachers may never exploit their children, nor indeed the children their teachers; that teachers may never impose their will in an authoritarian spirit on their children, no however may children impose their will in an anti-authoritarian spirit on their teachers. Mutual service regardless of precedence in a Christian spirit means for the teacher unconditional trust, goodness, loving good will, in advance, and without any compelling reasons. And in all this they will refuse to let him deter them.

When it came to my turn to speak I chose to share my personal statement which I used for my Post Graduate Certificate In Education application:

For the majority of my life I have tried hard to be a certain someone or a certain something. I didn't know what or who that was. I just knew that I wanted to be socially accepted and boy what a lot of pressure that was. 

What I didn't realise was that I already was someone. I was the daughter of God and I was someone with a  gift. It was those around me who could see it more than me. That gift was, and still is, working with/connecting with children. I had always enjoyed working with children as a playleader and babysitter but I didn't want to work with children as a professional 'just' because I enjoyed it. 

That all changed when I had my son Joseph. Over the past year I have learnt so much and have been on an incredible spiritual journey. I have really heard God and accepted his confidence in me becoming a teacher. So here is my application for the PGCE course.

I can remember few teachers growing up. One who inspired decades of pupils to pursue their dreams and live for the moment through his commitment to music and storytelling. The Church was overflowing at his funeral, a testament to his character. A second who had a good ear for listening and encouraged students to step outside their comfort zones to reach beyond their capability. I don't want to teach to be remembered I want to teach because I want to make a difference. I wanted to teach when I had experienced life and 'lived'.

When I had my son I realised through teaching him to, walk, talk and now read that teaching is living. It's one experience that I could not do without. My experience as a volunteer TA to key stage1 and 2 has lead me to believe I would thrive as a Primary School Teacher. I have found it fascinating seeing the variation in teaching styles and the ways in which children learn, through my observations I have realised my strengths and weakness in the classroom. For example having created and run my own children's group and Sunday School I am aware of the importance of research and lesson plans/preparation. 

I found that having trained in the arts to be of great benefit in a class setting. Not only in these specialised areas but also when conveying historical stories, literacy and numeracy. I remember learning my Times-Tables to song and performing them on stage in a tap routine when I was a Junior. 

I have taken advice from my mentor at Norton St. Nicholas C of E VA Primary School, and implemented some co-operative learning strategies into my sessions. This has given the children a sense of independence and personal achievement and also teaches them the importance of teamwork and taking control of their own learning. Transferring the skills I have learnt during my time as a TA into my personal life has proved positive which only encourages me to pursue my passion to teach.  

Having completed various courses demonstrates my flare for learning and by my volunteering has given me the confidence that I have the ability to manage a career in teaching and juggle family life. The most recent of external courses relating to children for example was run by the Family Lives organisation which was a course on Dealing With Anger for children. I fed the information back to the teachers at my placement which they are happy to use for training and/or to pass on to any parents who have concerns regarding their children's behaviour. 

Another course was a short course on sign language which was run by The Childrens Centre. My son has struggled with Developmental Verbal Dyspraxia, a speech impediment, which has at times been distressing for him and for those around to watch. Helping him overcome this hurdle has been a credit to my patience and commitment and really helped my compassion for other children who struggle with communication. I found it particularly comforting to help children in differing year groups with differing abilities. 

I have also found reading on a one to one basis has shown how diverse the children's levels/needs really are. It reinforced how important it is to continue working with phonemes when learning phonics especially when it comes to segmenting, blending, decoding and their overall comprehension. 

This has given me a firm understanding on how children develop these essential skills. Working so closely with the children there is nothing more rewarding than seeing them move up a reading level once they have achieved their targets, this making the job extremely satisfying I can see myself trying to make a difference in children's lives for the rest of my working career.

Well they must have liked the application for two days after my interview I was offered a conditional place out of one of the eighty places available. So it looks like I am once again to be a student. Thank you for listening.

Until next time
Every Blessing

Kate at S-T-O-C-K-S

Sunday, 20 April 2014

S-T-O-C-K-S Session - Easter Sunday

Our Easter Sunday service sees lots of non-regulars attending our Church with their families. It's a great opportunity to really welcome new faces and make them feel at home at St. Thomas'

The children are invited to stay within the body of the Church for the duration of the service should they/their grown ups wish. We cater for them by encouraging them to dress our tree which was laid bare before us. Also they take great delight in an Easter Egg hunt - providing they share the eggs with the Vicar of course ;-)

If anyone gets restless I/S-T-O-C-K-S had prepared the Wilbury Hall with activities and songs to entertain them until we are called in for the peace and communion.

So one of this weeks activities was to make a 'Jesus Is Risen' picture frame. Here's how: 

You will need:
A vast work space
Crayons for the younger children
Felt tip pens for the older children
'Jesus Is Risen' picture cut out
(additional craft - 'JESUS' bookmark - self explanatory)
(additional craft - gems and jewels to stick on the bookmark - self explanatory)
(additional craft - glue - self explanatory)
Multi coloured lolly pop sticks
Double sided tape

How to:
1. Lay all the tables in an inviting and accessible manner
2. Set all the materials at easy reach for the children
    Guide the younger children to sit by the younger children crafts
    Encourage the older children to help the younger members
3. Colour your card cut out
4. First place your lolly sticks to frame the picture.
    With double sided tape stick the lolly sticks down to make a frame
    Cut any excess card from the edges
5.  Make a loop with the ribbon and fix behind the card hiding the tape.

Lay all the tables in an inviting and accessible manner

Set all the materials at easy reach for the children
Guide the younger children to sit by the younger children crafts
Encourage the older children to help the younger members

Colour your card cut out

First place your lolly sticks to frame the picture

With double sided tape stick the lolly sticks down to make a frame
Cut any excess card from the edges
Make a loop with the ribbon and fix behind the card hiding the tape.

This picture frame would look good in any youngster room or even on an Easter Tree if you made one of these - details on how to make one coming soon.

He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee,
Saying, The son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.

Luke 24:6-7

Until next time,
Every Blessing

Kate at S-T-O-C-K-S

Saturday, 19 April 2014

A S-T-O-C-K-S Production - God Loves Me - action and song

So I was editing some old videos I made for the children at S-T-O-C-K-S to learn the actions to some songs and I came across this video of my son Joseph and I dancing to God Loves Me! by Pete Bigall, Peter Tye and Steve Whitehouse.

It appears God did not bless me with technical talents for you will see/hear that the CD starts skipping/jumping which has Joseph and I laughing.

You get the gist of the song and actions and I thought the end was too cute not to share:

Until next time,
Every Blessing

Kate at S-T-O-C-K-S

A S-T-O-C-K-S Production - My God Is So Big - action and song

I have been editing again. This time I have edited the Kingsway Music arrangement of My God Is So Big So Strong And So Mighty. An old classic within the childrens ministry.

Here I have added some simple movements/actions to help the children remember the words and the meanings behind the song:

Until next time,
Every Blessing

Kate at S-T-O-C-K-S

A S-T-O-C-K-S production - Oi Oi We Are Gonna Praise the Lord - action and song

As a single mother I understand how difficult it can be to physically get to Church. One week the car might not work. Another my son may be having a 'I'm refusing to listen and do as I am told' day. Or like recently when I have been recovering from major knee surgery. That is why I have compiled these videos for you so that you and your little ones (or big ones - I know a few of our older congregation members have taken part in these also) don't have to miss out and you can still worship from the comfort of your own home, or wherever you may be.

I once asked my Vicar if I was praising and praying when I sing. He asked me why I questioned it and I replied because I enjoy it so much. Sometimes I get goosebumps when I am singing and dancing and I feel very enlightened and close to God. To that he responded with - you have just answered your own question. Yes you can praise and rejoice when singing and dancing. So if you are like me and enjoy this form of worship then please join in and as long as people are watching and worshiping I will keep on making these videos.

This song is one of my favourites. It was one that I first learnt when starting out with S-T-O-C-K-S in association with the St. Thomas' Holiday Club. I have added/changed a few of the moves but though it is fast paced it's a great little number. If anything else it could be used for a workout at home ;-) What better way to stay in shape than to be healthy and praise The Lord at the same time. Enjoy:

Until next time,
Every Blessing

Kate at S-T-O-C-K-S

Friday, 18 April 2014

S-T-O-C-K-S in association with The Holiday Club

The childrens Easter Gardens

Good Friday

This day is one of the, if not the, most holy of holy days. It is the day that Jesus died for our sins in the most horrendous way one could. It is a day of sacrifice and it is important to help the children understand and remember this day for more than just chocolate. Keeping this day special with age appropriate lessons and activities is at the heart of St. Thomas' Church and we pride ourselves on providing a jam packed morning session for our youngsters.

Today we made Easter Gardens, told The Story Of Easter in a craft wheel, decorated and wrote Easter Cards, Crafted Flowers, made Chocolate Nests with Easter Eggs (well you've got to have some chocolate in there - if only for me to eat the left overs if nothing else). We also played hoopla, parachute games, ate hot cross buns and drank juice - this was all before the sing alongs with actions and a talk from our Vicar.

Jam packed but so much fun. All the children enjoyed their time with us today and we hope to see them all, and a few more, at next years event. Though there will be many more events where S-T-O-C-K-S and The Holiday Club come together - mainly because the leaders help out for both.

Here are some of today's activities, one with a how to step by step guide:

St. Thomas' Church Good Friday 2014

Our Church hall - The Wilbury Hall - all set up and ready for the day.

First table Make and Decorate Easter Cards
Samples of the childrens Easter Cards

My son Joseph's Story Of Easter wheel.

Joseph's Story Of Easter wheel, flower and Easter Card.

The childrens flowers, cards and the start of their wheels.

As you can see we had lots of fun but were very busy. Here is a 'How-To' make of the Easter Garden.

You will need:
Take away food tins (if you can recycle all the better but for health and safety purposes we could not at this time)
Toilecardt rolls (folded at one end)
Stones (big enough to cover one end of the toilet/card roll)
Pre-made cross made out of coloured lolly pop sticks (pre-made due to age range if older children they can make their own but depending on time as to whether the glue will hold the sticks etc)

Sample of the tins we used.


Moss representing the hillside.

Toilet/card roll representing the cave.

Stones for the rock in front of the cave.

 How to make your Easter Garden:
1. Cut the base of your flowers then place at the far end of your tin...
2. Scatter some earth around the flower and enough to cover the base of the tin...
3. Place your toilet/card roll on top of the earth so it emerges from the landscape...
4. Cover your 'cave' with some more earth...
5. Then add your moss to make it look like a hillside landscape...
6. Finally add your rock and then your cross...
7. End result, your Easter Garden

1. Cut the base of your flowers then place at the far end of your tin...

2.Scatter some earth around the flower and enough to cover the base of the tin...

3.Place your toilet/card roll on top of the earth so it emerges from the landscape...

4.Cover your 'cave' with some more earth...

5.Then add your moss to make it look like a hillside landscape...

6. Finally add your rock and then your cross...

7. End result, your Easter Garden

Mother and son's gardens side-by-side

What have you made this Easter? If you haven't made anything this Easter why not give one of these a go? 

Isaiah 40:8
The grass withereth, and the flower fadeth:
But the word of our God shall stand forever

Until next time,
Every Blessing

Kate at S-T-O-C-K-S

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday is a chance to look at at all things past and share them with you. I have so many pictures from Christingle services to when I was a child at one of our fairs on the grassy grounds in front of our Church. Sadly we don't get chance to do any of these any more but what fond memories we have of them.

In this first Throwback Thursday I thought I would share with you another first. These pictures are when St. Thomas' set up the Wilbury Hall Development Fund to raise money for a new hall for the Church and community to use. A community newsletter was produced in 1993 to publicise our activities and get the ball rolling. This is a copy of the first edition:

Until next time,
Every Blessing

Kate at S-T-O-C-K-S

Monday, 14 April 2014

Monday Musings: Soul Surfer Series

One of my biggest influences in life, and as a Christian (other than God) is that of the incredible Hawaiian born Bethany Hamilton. I will often mention her on this site as I tend to mention her in everyday life so I thought I would introduce her to you all.

I first heard about Bethany when I was in my late teens/early twenties. She was an up and coming young surfer and I, despite living hours away from any coast, was obsessed with surfing (however I didn't manage to get on a board until 2012). 

It wasn't just Bethany's surfing which caught my eye. A short while after I had heard about her, Bethany, at the tender age of thirteen, survived a horrendous shark attack while out surfing on the Napali Coast on Kuai Hawaii.

Bethany was a mermaid through and through and would probably have slept in the water if she could. It was
while out practising for a major competition with her surf buddy Alana Blanchard, her father and her brother, that the attack happened.

It was unprovoked and unforeseeable. The shark came up from the dark depths below and in one swift motion took a bite at Bethany. She lost a chunk out of her board and her entire left arm.

Bethany's story, now a motion picture.
Available from Amazon

When Bethany was just a little girl she approached her parents and said she wanted to accept Jesus into her heart and her life. It was God who kept her calm during and after the attack, keeping her focus and keeping her alive. On the way to the hospital a paramedic leant over and whispered in her ear "God will never leave you nor forsake you".

As her family travelled to the hospital one of Bethany's two brothers contacted her youth missionary worker who was out with a team helping clear up after the Tsunami in Thailand. Immediately God spoke to Sarah Hill and gave this verse to share with Bethany's family "For I know the plans that I have for you, says the Lord, plans to keep you safe and prosper you" - Jeremiah 29:11

Bethany made a full recovery and her first question after coming round in hospital was "when can I surf again". Bethany overcame all the odds and not only survived from losing her arm to the shark she achieved her dream of becoming a professional surfer.

Picture courtesy of Bethany's Facebook Page

To this day Bethany's day job is that of a professional surfer and recently taken part in the Womens Pipeline Pro competition. For those of you aren't surfing savvy Pipeline is one the worlds, if not THE, most prestigious surfing competition in the beautiful setting of Bethany's back yard - Hawaii.

Not only did Bethany take part in the competition she went on to win it. These waves are huge and it is with her talent, dedication/devotion to God and sheer determination that Bethany won. Yet again inspiring a world of hopefuls that you can overcome all the odds and achieve greatness.

Picture courtesy of Bethany's Facebook Page

Today Bethany never tires of her story and shares her hope and good will with thousands if not millions. She looks to help young girls find their faith through devotion and has reminded adults across the world to gain some perspective. Before the attack Bethany was praying for guidance and listening to what God had planned for her. She is now a voice for him for his word speaks through her and she is his vessel for all that is good.

That is why she inspires me. Who inspires you?

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. (John 15:5-10 ESV)

Until next time,
Every Blessing

Kate at S-T-O-C-K-S

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Easter Chick

Easter time is one my favourite times within the Church. Not only for it's importance of when Jesus died upon the cross to save us and then rose again, but I really enjoy the crafts we can do with the children. You'll be pleased (surprised) to know that they do not all involve a manufactured chocolate egg.

On a quiet session the children and I chose to make this Easter Chick which was nice and easy and I will now tell you how:

You will need:
Two different colours of card
Black and Red felt tip pen
Gold fabric and netting or yellow feathers
Double Sided Tape

What to do:
1. Draw round a plate/bowl for the body.
2. With any spare draw and cut out two big feet (add stripes or colour in).
3. With the same colour draw a diamond shape and cut out for the beak. Fold in half.
4.Cut 2 strips of the opposite colour and concertina for the legs.
5. Get 2 feathers or cut a jagged feather shape out of material (a rough triangle will do).
   (Do the same with netting if using fabric. This will stick on top of the fabric for texture)
6. Stick it all together with glue or double sided tape depending on the age of the child.
    Legs and wings are stuck behind the body. Draw 2 eyes and colour/decorate as preferred.

Hope you enjoy making this Easter Chick, this can also be adapted into a Red Robin in Autumn time.

Until next time,
Every Blessing

Kate at S-T-O-C-K-S

Friday, 11 April 2014

A S-T-O-C-K-S production - All That You Are - actions and song

Every Sunday I try to encourage the children to sing a song. Sometimes we will learn new material and sometimes we go over some old favourites.

When I had to take some time away from S-T-O-C-K-S due to having major surgery I was unable  to attend Church for many weeks, let alone to teach them any new songs. It was whilst lying in bed one day that it occurred to me I could keep in touch with everyone via the internet. So with the supervision of their grown ups the children (and their grown ups of course - we don;t want anyone missing out) could watch and learn some new songs and actions.

So here is one video I have made to the song You Are The Sunshine (All That You Are) - by Ralph Ward - choreographed by non other than me, myself and I.


Until next time,
Every Blessing

Kate at S-T-O-C-K-S

Striding On - a sermon

Striding On Into The Digital Age –A Sermon  - by Kate Ladd- 2/4/2013

As some of you may have heard Joseph and I have a new addition to our home, a new puppy, who we have named Ollie. I was as excited getting him as I was when I was expecting Joseph. Though like babies puppies don’t exactly come with ‘one for all’ manual. Each one is different but there are of course many sources of information and advice in various forms. My favourite guide is that of the guru famously known as Google. 
Google is the world’s largest online search engine which has resources in the billions. For those of you who aren't familiar with Google, all it requires is that you turn on your computer or laptop, plug it into a phone line with the internet and then access the World Wide Web.

The web, in its shortened form, can sometimes feel like you’re a little fish swimming in the middle of the ocean. You can drown in the terminology of technical jargon alone. Like the topic of this talk, for example, social media. Social media is an interactive means for people to meet in a virtual existence, to connect and create an online community. These can be in several forms from online newspapers, magazines and blogs, where readers are encouraged to write replies or views to the articles, or to a networking platform such as Facebook or twitter.  Facebook and Twitter are the most talked about and publicised of the social media networks and have helped families and businesses connect from across the globe.

But what does any of this have to do with religion I hear you ask. Well simply all and nothing.  There are many religious entities which believe it isn't necessary to join the twenty first century and embrace the use of technology and all that comes with it. Yet there are others, like me, who believe it is essential to keep up with the times, to keep the Church alive.


Can’t our Church survive without the use of social media? Yes it can if we merely want to survive. But what if we want it to thrive? We have to embrace the movement and thank God for this wonderful gift so that we can spread his voice for all to hear, well technically read.

I would like to share with you all my own personal experiences of how social media has brought me closer to God.

In the summer I went to a conference with five hundred like- minded delegates. It was a conference for bloggers. A blogger is someone who writes an online website log, generally in a journal form documenting their inspirations, thoughts and life. I started my website log, blog, back in 2009 when Joseph was born as a way to start my career in writing. I had hoped a famous publisher would stumble across my work and offer me a publishing contract right away. Three years later I realised that it takes a lot more than a crafty quip, but time, talent and dedication. Back to the conference, then, I attended several seminars on how to improve my writing, how I can use photography to enhance my writing and I met some of the best friends I have ever had the honour of knowing. I met some fantastic contacts and through handing out my makeshift business cards it wasn’t long before I was asked to write reviews for companies such as Tesco, Petplan and Warner Bros.
Soon after the hype of the conference had died down and everyone in the blogosphere had knuckled down to work a sombre tone began to appear in everyone’s writing.

A pro-blogger, a queen bee of blogging, if you will, had become very poorly. A young mother of three called Kerry had suffered a brain haemorrhage and was in a coma in hospital. As you can imagine to those of us who had met her in person, messaged her online or simply read her blog, it came as a shock. It was so sudden and there was no warning. That was in July. In November last year the entire blogging community including dads, business persons, local councils and news reporters united in a prayer day for Kerry even though she wasn't a devout Christian. It was suggested that if one did not have Christian faith that they make a wish for Kerry and her family since she had seemingly taken a turn for the worst.

Sadly Kerry lost her battle on the 14th December but I know how touched her husband, family and friends were that such an enormous amount of support was and continues to be given to them in their hour of need.  As Jesus said in Matthew 18:20 "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."

I would never have known of this bond between virtual strangers had it not been for the internet and my own blog and I only hope that my prayer helped Kerry in one way.

As I mentioned before I use various forms of social networking for work and to generally keep me sane from motherhood. One of my popular uses is Twitter. Twitter is slightly different to most other sites in that you can only send messages of 140 characters.  Since I am only half way through this speech you can see how much of a challenge I would find that.

Twitter is home to many a celebrity, owners tweeting as though they were there pet, bloggers of course and even The Queen.  I don’t follow The Queen but I do follow God, or those tweeting on his behalf. From clergy members, like Father Darren from St Georges, to laypeople and celebrity Christians such as the professional surfer Bethany Hamilton and the author Beth Redman. I take hope and inspiration from individuals who have taken the time to write their entire Church services into 140 characters long. I have found many a new Bible passage or psalm from them. Some post breath taking pictures while others post their own prayers or meditations.

This has helped me hear the voice of the Lord louder than before and has given me strength to spread His love. Another virtual friend, one whom I have never met, sent me a private message on Twitter to ask me to pray for her when I came to Church. I said of course but what I can pray for in particular? She opened up to me about how her partner had to give up work in order to look after her and their son as she too wasn't very well. It didn't seem like much at the time but upon reflection I helped a non- Church goer hear the voice of our Lord from simply tweeting one Sunday morning, ‘Right I'm off to Church now folks’.

As the rev. Wendy read in Psalm 29 last week: The voice of the Lord is a powerful voice; the voice of the Lord, is a voice of splendour.

That is it, for not only have I reached out to several people through social media but virtual friends have also reached out to me. I could reel off example of example of how God has guided me to people in their hour of need and how he has guided people to me but I fear we’ll soon be running out of time.
These are but a few positive examples of how I have engaged with God’s Love in the community, albeit through a computer screen. However, there have been some negative aspects of social media and religion.
As with anything things can be taken in the wrong way or out of context and sadly there are just some very misguided minds beyond these walls. Nowhere is safe, even when you are sitting at a desk spreading the good news, there will undoubtedly be someone, somewhere trying to quash it instantaneously. This not only destroys Churches and the people in it, it can blacken the name that we know to be good. God.

So why bother?

I would love nothing more than to reach out, spread the word of our Lord and to see our congregation grow. One of the ways of doing that is by promoting our Church. I am not suggesting we start a live video feed every Sunday services but that we stride on in this digital age and catch up with like-minded Churches and organisations.

Why not start a blog which we can feature on our website? We have so much talent and beauty before us that need not be confined to these four walls. If I alone can touch the lives of so many with 140 characters just think how many lives could be changed if we all tried.
Here are a few words from a poem I had to stop and write on the way to dropping Joseph at school: 

‘Stride on stride on till I reach you. Loving you is all I can seem to do. With arms outstretched I’ll take yet another step. I’ll keep on until I reach you.’

Thanks for listening.

Until next time,
Every Blessing

Kate at S-T-O-C-K-S

Footsteps - a poem

Footsteps - a work in progress poem - by Kate Ladd

And I will follow the steps of the Lord,
In every shape and form.
I will love Him and honour and obey,
For I know that He’s here to stay.

I will answer His every call
Without His love I would fall.
I need His strength, mercy and His might,
To rid demons that I must fight.

My heart says is pays to be a dreamer
My faith is proud to be a believer.
So what would Lord Jesus do?
Open His arms and reach out to you.

In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost
I know where my heart belongs the most.
And I will follow the steps of the Lord
In every shape and form.

Every Blessing

Kate at S-T-O-C-K-S

Tonight - a poem

Tonight - a poem by Kate Ladd 3/10/2011

Tonight I read the bible
Well just between me and you
It was a book of Bible stories
So I thought ‘yep that’ll do’.

You see its been a tough
Old time for me as late
So I needed a gentle push
To re-confirm my faith.

I know I’m not the only one,
So please don’t get me wrong,
Sometimes I just can’t hear the others
Who too are lost in this throng.

Although I’ve been a Christian
For many a year now
When I go to Church each Sunday
It’s like I’m only just learning how

To be a good Christian
And the true meaning of my faith.
If only I could change
Some of my many mistakes.

That’s why I need God’s guidance
To stop seeing things as blurred,
To diminish all confusion
And to hear his loving words.

I really enjoyed reading
The Bible, or book, tonight.
Now I can see things much clearer,
Like I’ve just regained my sight.

Now it seems to be getting late
Where does the time go?
God, cant you add a few more hours?
That’s what I’d like to know.

So please forgive me if I yawn and stretch
As I lay down in my bed,
Your thoughts and words and wisdom
Still floating round my head.

I love you God, and thank you
Especially for my son
I pray to you for guidance
To be the best ever mum.

Goodnight dear God and have sweet dreams,
Actually can you do that?
Either way speak to you soon

For I surely will speak back.

Every Blessing

Kate at S-T-O-C-K-S