Thursday, 29 May 2014

Thoughts on Thursday - On The Bookshelf

Despite having a five year old who refuses to sleep until silly o'clock I have been and still am an avid reader. Sometimes I have more than two books on the go at one given time.

Recently I finished The Ministry of a Messy House by Amanda Robbie who tweets as @TheVicarsWife  and also blogs at

Available for £6 via thinkivp

Amanda Robbie miraculously found time to write this laugh out loud book which tackles the misconceptions that a vicars wife has to be perfect. This is a topic close to my heart especially as I rock the pyjamas under my jeans look for the school run while everyone else in their big four-by-fours or convertibles strut the latest catwalk fashion.

I have had a few conversations with Amanda via Twitter and she is every bit as lovely and down to earth as she comes across in this book. Though I do not have the three children or a Vicar for a husband like Amanda does but I feel we are on the same page with our priorities. Even down to fitting in our daily devotionals on a phone app before we get out of bed of a morning, and that's ok.

We cannot live a perfectly clean life, clean from sin, clean from piles of washing up or running early instead of late. But through our trust in God, some sound advice from Amanda and some amazing scripture references we can strive to de-clutter our lives of mess and reorganise our focus. I found scriptures I had never heard of before which inspired me to look them up in my bible and read on. I have written my memorable verses in my purple journal.

I feel that the heart of this unputdownable book is a message of perspective. Yes we will inevitably be late to school or Church at some point, yes we will have that unexpected guest turn up on our doorstep while still in our pj's and the living room still has last weeks birthday balloons wilting at the windows. Yes they may notice the pile of dirty dishes from last nights dinner sat on the kitchen surfaces but they are more likely to accept your gracious offer of a cup of tea and a good ear to hear them. 

I think this book would be a great gift to new members of our Church, a way of welcoming them into our parish and saying "actually we are not perfect, but we strive for our faith and most of all we are family".

If you can't already tell I would highly recommend this book and will be donating my copy to our Church library - as long as nobody bends the corners or breaks the spine ;-) See this book was written for me I'm a perfectionist at heart.

What have you been reading lately?

Until next time,
Every Blessing

Kate at S-T-O-C-K-S

Monday, 26 May 2014

Monday Musings: Fishers of Men

Life is a little bit of trial and error and teaching Sunday School is no exception. I bought some plastic fish for the children to play a game of fishing to re-tell the Gospel story of when Jesus walked along the beach and helped the fishermen (John 21: 1-14). I hadn't anticipated that these fish weren't magnetic and actually needed a paddling pool of water - which of course I was not about to do in the Church Hall during the service.

So I decided to make some wooden fishing rods and promptly ordered some magnets while I was sipping my tea in Parish Breakfast - the joys of modern technology and mobile internet shopping.

Bargain from Ebay

Once the magnets arrived I used some bbq skewers to form the rod and by cutting the ends off - for safety - and sticking together with sellotape. Then I took some string and wrapped it round the ends to cover the tape.

At one end I left two ends of the string so that I could do a simple knot repeatedly to form a rope effect until the length of the rope was long enough to dangle a magnet at the end.

Here is the fishing rod:

We can use these for Holiday Club events and it will be fun to create lots of other fishing cards (with the use of laminated paper and a paper clip) for the children to play with. I have only made two rods so far but am making an extra one to go in one of our borrow bags - which are coming along nicely now.

"And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men"
Matthew 4:19 KJV

Until next time,
Every Blessing

Kate at S-T-O-C-K-S

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Throwback Thursday - Books

Have you ever heard the saying "If something works don't change it"? The same goes for session planning with S-T-O-C-K-S and our Holiday Club. So when my Vicar shared some of these old books which are full of ideas for skits/shows, craft ideas, art ideas etc.

I would be truly honoured if someone found our S-T-O-C-K-S sessions inspirational as well as fun and educational. It would be a true credit to the collaborative hard work put in by the congregation of St. Thomas' of Canterbury, in Wilbury.

Do you have an old favourite? A tried and tested product/book/session plan?

Until next time,
Every Blessing

Kate at S-T-O-C-K-S

Monday, 19 May 2014

Monday Musings: A Decision Is Made

Coming up with new and exciting, but Christian, Holiday Club themes can be somewhat taxing, but not for us folks at St. Thomas' of Canterbury in Wilbury. It's an opportunity for me to get out of an evening and have my wonderful mother babysit as I go to the Vicars for a cup to tea (and sometimes biscuits) and discuss our successful Holiday Cub.

This year we had much deliberation over a theme. My personal choice would be World Faiths and how we as Christians welcome everyone into our Church. I thought this would be a great opportunity to add even more colour into our Holiday Club with vibrant dances and dressing up opportunities and new music. I have seen first hand how receptive children are to learning about different faiths during my time in Primary Schools and feel it would give them a deeper understanding of our faith at the end of the week.

We all chose to celebrate the world and creation by setting the theme for our Holiday Club as Elements. By discussing the Earth, Air, Fire and Water we will hopefully help the children understand through experiments and play that we cannot exist without all of these elements and that what God had intended for us.

Now we just have to come up with a nice logo which the children can have on their badges and can go on our programme too.

I have a few songs which we can sing but I will also have to look out for some new ones - any suggestions are desperately welcome ;-) All that springs to mind is 'Relight My Fire' - by Take That featuring Lulu. Am really struggling unless I want to stand up and sing re-written rock. Not my forte I must admit. I may even have to write some myself eek.

So there you have it. This years Holiday Club theme. I hope some of you can come along for some water games in the Vicars Garden with a potential visit from the lovely Bluewatch Fire Fighters - North Herts finest.

Until next time,
Every Blessing

Kate at S-T-O-C-K-S

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Throwback Thursday: Mad Hatters Tea Party

Some of us say "humph" when we have had enough of something but to my son Joseph Humph is a friendly little furry thing.

I'll explain.

My son has Developmental Verbal Dyspraxia and through my social media connections I met the wonderful team at the children's charity for communication called I CAN. I was asked to be an ambassador for them so Joseph, his Nanna and I were invited to a mad hatters tea party where we met a character called Humph.

Here are some pictures of our lunch at The Hilton Hotel in London with Humph:

My little Joseph so proud of his Humph sticker :-)

Joseph and I meeting Humph :-) 

Joseph hugs Humph - brought out his confidence :-)
Humph is a character from a tv series and is great at helping explains feelings and generally communicating with his friends. It's enjoyable and the children seemed to really like him.

At the event there were also some musical leaders from a  group called Boogie Mites  where they help parents and children learn through music and play. Their songs explore a range of mouth movements which may be alien to some children but by exploring these new notions in a safe and fun environment can help the children explore communication.

As part of the fundraising scheme with I CAN ambassadors are invited to host and encourage others to host their own tea party. I took the opportunity to have a tea party with the young members of S-T-O-C-K-S and give the congregation a yummy alternative to our Parish Breakfast.

Here are some pictures of the event at S-T-O-C-K-S:

The children's tea party tea plates - aren't they great :-)

My mother (aka auntie Barbara) and S-T-O-C-K-S leader
preparing the templates for the tea party crafts.

Work in progress templates of the tea set.

This is why I am not a chef ;-)

Joseph displaying our spread for the congregation.

The non invasive donation table - simple - successful.

Our party celebration for I CAN Mad Hatters tea Party 2012

I am pleased to say that we raised over £100 for the charity in just one small morning event. I am so proud to be a part of such a giving community here at S-T-O-C-K-S and I look forward to hosting another event in the future as this charity is very close to my heart.

Until next time
Every Blessing

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

Monday, 12 May 2014

Monday Musings - Purple Book

I think I may be having a mini - early - life - crisis as I am to turn the big three-o in eleven days. Yes that's right I am in the last days of my twenties, and while I try not to hyperventilate to the point of passing out I have to recognise this daunting milestone. I feel proud and thankful for all that I have achieved up to this point but I also feel I may have missed the bar on other aspects of my life. I feel my Christian journey is only just beginning despite having gone to Church since I was born.

This birthday I am planning on throwing a Thank You party to friends and family who have helped me over the years, especially over the past six months since having major knee surgery. Instead of receiving presents I will be giving them a little something, a token if you will of my appreciation.

For my birthday a few years ago I was given the most beautiful Purple notebook. Those who know me well know that I love stationery, all sorts of shapes and sizes. While I know it isn't so great for the environment I cannot help but treat myself to a good notebook and pen when I see some.

As much as I think we have been blessed with modern technology and the use of computers and the internet there is still nothing like receiving a hand written letter. Or even finding the right writing tool to compose your masterpiece without getting crippling cramp in your hand.

The trouble with me is I buy these beautiful creations and then I don't want to write in them for fear it may ruin the aesthetics - I have a tendency to scrawl my thoughts down in a rush so I don't forget them. But how can you deny the thoughts from our Lord?

I decided to use my Purple notebook from my birthday to write down Bible Passages which have shown me inspiration along my walk with Jesus. I also have my own poetry, songs and prayers which I have composed too.

My Purple Book

On the front page of the inside of my Purple Book

A random page from my Purple Book

It's a handy reference that I can always look to when I feel lost or I want to help someone in need but not sure which verse to share with them for comfort.

I think this simple idea would make a lovely gift for someone, especially if you were to write in the front of it for them. Something along the lines of: 'This book was presented to.... on the occasion of their.... with love and every blessings from...' Underneath you could share our favourite verse/passage for guidance, hope and encouragement. As you know my all time favourite is Jeremiah 29:11 which would be ideal.

Do you keep a diary or a journal? If so do you keep a separate diary/journal for all things Christian?

Until next time
Every Blessing

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

Sunday, 11 May 2014

S-T-O-C-K-S Sessions - Borrow Bags

I have been trawling the internet almost hourly since I have had knee surgery and unable to work. I haven't been wasting this time looking at the latest Hollywood trends or anything I have been researching the latest ideas and trends in Children's Ministry.

I came across a 'grab-a-bag' technique on Pinterest to help children of different ages explore their faith through prayer from using playdough to building blocks and plastic spoons. I also know of other Churches who use sharing baskets and bags to tell different stories of the Bible. This inspired me to encourage the members of S-T-O-C-K-S to borrow a bag with activities to use at home.

So today's session was a mix of talking about John 21: 1-14 and creating a fishing net scene and then creating a display table for all the items which will go into our Borrow Bags once myself and the Mothers Union have created them.

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John 21: 1-14 The fishermen see Jesus for the first time.
They throw their net over the right hand side of the boat and they catch fish.
Here I took a paper plate and cut a Blue sea to cover half of the base. I drew a big sun and with extra time I would have stuck a small fishing boat (or half a boat for a better effect) on the water. I covered the bottom with clear netting which I secured behind with tape and then placed glass fish in the net - you can use card fish templates if you don't want to splash out - no pun intended.

Here are a few examples of what we have in mind for the borrow bags - thus far - it is all work in progress at this stage. I have thought of doing a bag for the story of Joseph, Noah, Jonah, Values, Welcome, Prayer and possibly one for Teens. I can't wait to make the Joseph bag with a felt base on a take away container and have a felt cut out coat (for Joseph's coat) and then different coloured felt strips to then place on the coat. Not to mention spoon puppets of his twelve brothers etc.

For the story of Noah and the ark we will have a book of the story a dvd of the story an ark, two of each animals, making a dove activity etc.
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Noah Bag thus far
For the welcome bag I want to introduce Christianity gently to new comers who may not have been to a Church before. I thought we could vary it for new comers over a few weeks so we have three dvds including volume one and two of  What's In The Bible by Phil Vischer which is fabulous and fun. Then we have The Jesus Movie  which again is very enjoyable and children relate to the format of visuals. There will also be a book about God and in the bag with the Bible dvds there will be a Childrens Bible. I will also include a creation wheel activity for the children to keep at home along with an information booklet about S-T-O-C-K-S and our leaders.
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Welcome Bag thus far

My favourite bag is the Prayer Bag which I think the entire family can enjoy together as the younger children may need some help with this. The idea is to talk about prayers so by reading some prayers from a children's prayer book they can then have their own chance to write/draw their prayers on a wipeclean board. following that they can then enjoy creating their own prayers by using prayer stones to create individual sentences such as this one I made earlier:

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My creative streak coming out ;-)
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So as you can see this is a work in progress but I wanted to share it with you and with members of our congregation who are kindly donating to the S-T-O-C-K-S fund in order to bring this vision to life.

Until next time
Every Blessing

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

Monday, 5 May 2014

Monday Musings - Mothers Birthday and Mothering Sunday

Today is my mothers birthday and we have had a great weekend celebrating, with far too much food to mention. I cannot help but think that my mother should be celebrated more often. Not just on the two occasions a year where it is 'socially expected' - her birthday and Mothering Sunday.

This year we chose to celebrate our Mothers and Others in a different way to previous years. We decided to make the service a more interactive service which involved everyone sitting around tables and helping each other make a gift for our mother, or other.

The gifts we made were an ever lasting flower and a cake, which of course I couldn't get a picture quick enough as they seemed to go down extremely well ;-)

Instead of the usual Eucharist and Communion we had blackcurrant juice and biscuits and we shared them with one another around the tables. This was the original communion so it was nice to take part in it and be a part of something with our neighbours.

We listened to some beautiful poems read out by our very own S-T-O-C-K-S members.

We even listened to the Spice Girls believe it or not. Mama was played while the children went up to the alter front to collect these beautiful bookmarks and hand them out to their mothers and others.

Handmade bookmarks in varying colours made by members of the Mothers Union.
The S-T-O-C-K-S children handed these out.

If you haven't heard Mama before here is a you tube clip of the song. Happy Birthday Mum I Love You:

Until next time,
Every Blessing

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

Sunday, 4 May 2014

S-T-O-C-K-S Sessions - The Good Shepherd

I have some amazing resources for S-T-O-C-K-S including some inspirational guides which follow the liturgy to the day and year. These are a great help for a group who are relatively new and sometimes lacking guidance/inspiration.

I dipped into one of these books for a reference and decided on creating an activity for the story of The Good Shepherd (John 10: 7-17). This would be fantastic if we were on year 2 and not year 1. I persevered regardless of my mistake and the children had such a fun time playing games. They thoroughly enjoyed the reading and discussion time where they had the freedom to explore the story and values for themselves.

So heres what we did. We made some Sheep and Wolves masks/headbands (I drew the sheep which I am super proud of and my friend helped with the Wolf which is fantastic). We played "Sheep sheep, shepherd" and another game of blowing white mini marshmallows which represent sheep into a pen. I was due to sing "The Lord Is My Shepherd" but we ran out of time.

Herd The Sheep game (rules below)

An organised work place encourages organised and fun work.

Some childrens sheep and wolf headbands

A very colourful and well blended wolf and sheep headband.

You will need:
A sheep template
A wolf template
Mini Marshmallows
A tray
A small cardboard box

How to:
Prepare the tables according to how many children you cater for
Have a sheep and wolf template per person
Place card per mask per person to make sure they really stand up on the head band.
Cut strips of card to create a headband

1. Firstly sit the children on your carpeted area/allocated storytelling area. Tell the story of The Good Shepherd (ref John 10: 7-17) 
2. Ask questions eg: What animals were mentioned? (sheep and wolf) Who was the Good Shepherd? (Jesus) What does it mean to "lay down my life for the sheep"? (You would do anything to protect the sheep). If Jesus is the shepherd and he protects us who are we to Jesus? (sheep).
3. Invite the children to choose a place at the tables and begin colouring in the wolf mask
4.Encourage the children to stick their sheep and wolves to the card and cut around it (young ones may need help)
5. Once cut out get a helper to measure the childrens head with the card strips and then invite the children to play Herd The Sheep (rules below).
6. Once all headbands made and everyone has had a turn of the game invite the children to sit back on the carpet and recap the story.
7. In a circle play "sheep sheep shepherd" (rules below).
8. If there is time either recite/teach the hymn The Lord Is My Shepherd (video below).

And there you have a pretty organised and successful session from S-T-O-C-K-S which went down so well the children. There are so many variations of games which you can play for others years and age groups. Including blindfold searches, word searches, making sheep, colouring in pages, singing baa baa black sheep.

Herd The Sheep Game
With a straw each the children have to blow the mini marsh mallows from one area of the green pasture (the tray) to the pen (cardboard box) at the other end. For older children make it more difficult by keeping their hands behind their back. Put some pink mini marshmallows in the mix to act as wolves and make the game more challenging. They mustn't let any marsh mallows escape the field (aka the tray).

Sheep, Sheep, Shepherd
Have the children sit in a circle. To the same rule of  "Duck, Duck, Goose" choose one person to be a wolf. This person wears their wolf mask/headband and the remaining circle wear their sheep mask/headband. The wolf walks around the circle tapping the children on the head (or shoulder) saying "Sheep" per person. Then they can choose someone to be the shepherd. They tap them on the head/shoulder and say "Shepherd". The shepherd then stands up and chases the wolf around the circle. The aim is for the wolf to run faster and sit down safely in the shepherds place. The roles are then reversed and the wolf becomes a sheep and the shepherd becomes the wolf and begins walking around tapping the children on the head saying "sheep, sheep...."

So I shall leave you now to enjoy The Lord Is My Shepherd:

I am happy to email the clip art of the sheep and wolf if you would like to partake in this activity - please email me at:

Until next time,
Every Blessing

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

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Throwback Thursday - Holiday Club 2013

With the sun shining it has had be reminiscing to last years sunny summer, as well as being thankful for no more rain. Thinking of last summer then led me to think of The Holiday Club at St. Thomas' and what a fun and energetic week we had. Even though it was tiring I wished we could have done a second or even a third week - but perhaps that is the vision I have been given for the future ;-)

Here are some pictures of our activities from our Holiday Club - entitled 'High 5' - for the summer 2013:

'High 5' were teaching the Parab

As a time filler we made place mats (a picture the children drew and then we laminated for them).
My son Joseph (then 4) drew a picture from a TV show called Cloud Babies.

We drew ourselves to decorate our groups board
and a place to keep our name badges over night.
We were the Green Group.

These were our name badges with the 'High 5' sign.

I am so excited for this years Holiday Clubs :-) It is so much fun. If you would like more information on this years Holiday Club at St. Thomas' then please do not hesitate to get in contact.

What did you do last summer?

Until next time,
Every Blessing

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