Thursday, 26 June 2014

Thoughts on Thursday - On The Bookshelf

I am an avid reader and I think it is important to be ever expanding ones knowledge and exercising our brains muscle. It is especially important when we are working with children. If we are not open to learning new things and passing on that information how can we expect the children to want to learn?

This week I have been reading a book by one of my biggest religious influences, whom I have mentioned several times before.

Body and Soul is the latest book from the inspiring shark attack survivor Bethany Hamilton. In this book which is aimed at aspirational teenage girls, but is a great read/reference for any age, Bethany encourages you to get yourself healthy.

Available from Amazon

With the help of her personal trainer Dustin Dillberg Body and Soul is divided into easy to digest chapters with eye catching pictures illustrating some of the exercises Bethany uses in her training as a professional surfer.

Together they offer a few mouthwatering recipes which make me want to hop onto a plane and move to Hawaii - who wouldn't. Most of the ingredients are accessible here in the UK and can be easily adapted - for example I have never seen a purple sweet potato so I would just use your average sweet potato bought at a super market or local fresh produce market. The fresher the better.

There is a chance to get to know Bethany a little better with a Q and A chapter. I relish in her honesty and open answers. My particular favourite was:

Page 84
Q: I absolutely hate the gym. I know it's good for me, but I just can't drag myself there. Any advice for what I can do instead?

A: Girl, there's a whole wide world of awesome, body-blasting activities out there. While It'd be great if you loved to hit the gym daily, it's not for everyone (trust me)

Then there is a small list of healthy and fun exercise activities which don't require a gym membership, such as Water sports, Zumba and Aerial Yoga.

Bethany is a voice for Jesus Christ. She uses her experience of surviving losing her left arm to a Tiger Shark to educate and inspire people in God's word and spreading God's love. Throughout this book there are some of Bethany's favourite Scripture passages for example:

Page 25
Therefore, I urge you, brothers ad sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God - this is your true and proper worship.
Romans 12:1


Page 102
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interest of others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.
Philippians 2:3-5

I personally like reading a book where there is a verse or Scripture passage besides it which helps me relate the experiences and my emotions to that of The Lord and how I can implement them in every day life.

The Bible is full of illustrations that we should look after our bodies and cleanse our soul in order to keep our promise to God and worship Jesus Christ. For example:

First Corinthians 6:19-20 says, "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body."First Timothy 4:7b-8 says, "Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come."

How do you keep you and your family happy and healthy in body and soul?

Until Next Time
Every Blessing

Kate at S-T-O-C-K-S

Monday, 23 June 2014

Monday Musings - Bumble Bees and A & E

I am sharing this from my sister site of Makeshift Mummy because it will explain some of my absences on twitter and this blog:

It's been a glorious week filled with sunshine, friends and family and my positive outlook has not wavered. Even when walking the dog with Youngling and I get chased down by a gigantic Bumble Bee.

Oh yes folks I was taken out by little critter. It literally had it in for for me on Friday. It started buzzing playfully in the field teasing us with its summer dance of flitting from one flower to another. When suddenly it's attitude changed and it circled me and when I thought it would admit defeat and retreat it dive bombed me making me lose my balance.

I started to hop away from my attacker but we were in the middle of the field and each direction looked further and further. I felt helplessly trapped. Again and again this vicious creature circled me and again and again it took a dive, stinger first, towards my innocent skin.

I stumbled and felt myself falling so I let go of my walking stick to brace myself only my foot went in one direction and my knee - yes the operated one - went in the other. I squealed as only I could squeal and then I heard the most almighty crack. A snap as if a breaking branch had lost the will to hold on any longer. I too lost my fight and fell in a crumbled heap on the muddy ground.

Youngling laughed his infectious laugh and asked if my tears were happy tears. I screamed for help as the beaten track lay empty. Youngling began to cry and then took a deep breath and came to lift my head onto his lap. "If I stoke your hair it will make you better Mummy" he whispered leaning over me with a gentle touch.

I fumbled for my phone realising the pain in my foot and daring not to move in case the fall, the silly embarrassing fall, had undone any of my surgery from seven months ago.

I dialled my mothers number, no answer. I dialled again. Again and again. Still nothing and by this point I was conscious that I was still in the field and so was the blessed Bumble Bee.

Just then a vision appeared before me. Two strangers were walking in our direction and I asked Youngling to stand up bravely and ask for help. He did, and they helped a wailing me, flapping dog and brave five year old back to their car where they took us home.

The kind strangers generosity didn't end there. While waiting for a friend to come and assess my need for medical attention these strangers played with Youngling under supervision, fed my dog, gave me water and a sugary treat for the shock. But nothing could take away the embarrassment. Nothing could take away the pain.

So to the hospital having dropped Youngling to my parents where mother felt guilty for not hearing her phone and wanted to come with us. I was glad she did. I needed the light relief and funny entertainment from my friend but even at thirty I needed the cuddles and hand holding from my mother just like when I was three.

Five and a half hours later most of the tears had stopped, thought the pain had not. Five and a half hours later I saw my feet, knee and leg from the inside out. A rare beauty which should be looked after more carefully.

I may have been in pain but I only came away with a sprain, a small mercy to be thankful for. I said so many prayers on Friday night, not for my foot to have not been broken or my knee to be ok but for a lady who lost a life that night. Right before our eyes, she was miscarrying her unborn baby.

Five and a half hours wait isn't really that great for me but five and a half hours wait for someone losing a life is simply unacceptable.

On Friday night I was extremely thankful.

On Saturday night I held Youngling tight.

My foot is bruised and my foot is sore. But something so precious was lost on Friday something much more than my dignity.

A life was lost.

A mother lost her unborn baby.

Two friends actually broke their feet over the weekend and one is still in hospital undergoing a series of serious surgeries.

My bruises will heal, theirs may not.

The lessons I learnt that in the midst of an emergency the human race can be the most kind hearted and generous of beings. There will always be someone who needs our prayers more than ourselves. And finally if in doubt pray.

Until next time
Every Blessing

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

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Elements have arrived!

Our holiday club booking forms have arrived and I am so excited to hold a wad of them in my hand. So if you or you know of anyone who would like to come down for a week of fun filled mornings then ask me for a form and I can get one sent to you.

I will be there everyday singing and dancing and creating chaos and fun crafting ;-) If it's anything like last year I hope it will be a blast.

Until next time,
Every Blessing

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

Open Church

Today was Open Church Day in our diocese which means that all the Church of England Churches will stay open for the whole day. This is an opportunity for the public to come and have a look around the Church without having to stay for a service. It is also an opportunity for church goers to visit other churches without having to miss out on their own services.

Since there were only two children and two babies at our service this morning I asked the children if they would like to help me prepare the Borrow Bags for a display for the Open Church. They were quite enthusiastic and enjoyed a bit of drawing also.

So after parish breakfast we set up in the isle of the main body of the Church, and flung open our doors. It was quite refreshing and I wish we could keep them open more often.

We had tables from the Mothers Union and the vicar had displayed some interesting artefacts too. I managed to hand out some leaflets to a brave cyclist who challenged himself to cycle around all the Churches in Hertfordshire - quite a task I can imagine.

We provided some light refreshments of sandwiches, biscuits and tea for any passers by, and managed to enjoy a few for our lunch too. It was such a glorious day that a few of us went outside to soak up the sun and get our fill of vitamin D.

I feel that small Churches like ours need to do something above and beyond to advertise these events because if people don't know about it then we can't be shocked when they don't come.

Here are some of our displays:

Did you go to an Open Church today?

Until next time,
Every Blessing

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

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Thoughts On Thursday - God is my highlight

A very special friend bought me a very special gift for my thirtieth birthday. A new Bible.

I have my traditional Cambridge Bible which was given to me by my soul mate, my beloved late Grandpa. It is a very special book not only for it's content but for the sentimental value in that it came from such a special person.

Since my faith is deepening and I am taking my Christian journey deeper than before I am starting to really study the Bible. However I don't feel that highlighting my grandfathers Bible would be appropriate. When a friend offered to buy me a beautiful Bible in which I could highlight and underline important verses, scriptures and question how I am using God's word in my everyday life, I couldn't say no.

So I am eternally appreciative for my new Bible, which is the NKJV (New King James Version) in large print and beautiful binding:

Yes I have started highlighting important verses which I believe God has made stand out for me. I am starting to read the book of John and then the Gospels in my attempt to read the entire Bible. It's something I have never done before and I hope it will bring me closer to God and my understanding of the life and times of Jesus. I expect it to be an emotional read but with a positive outcome at the end.

When I was highlighting passages before bedtime - hence the floral duvet cover - my son asked me why I was colouring in my new book. For the past five years I have taught him to value books and only to colour paper or paintings that are specified for that purpose. Now I have to try and explain to him that its ok to highlight Gods word and remember his love for us through his son Jesus Christ. By writing in the Bible it helps Mummy remember important lessons which I can then teach the Children at S-T-O-C-K-S Sunday School. I then went on to read:

1 John 2:28
And now, little children, abide in Him that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.

It is important to teach the children not to be ashamed of their faith to stand proud just as Jesus has done and to do good. This verse has really inspired me to encourage the children of S-T-O-C-K-S to say it loud and say it proud - How I am not quite sure yet ;-) But I will keep highlighting my new Bible as much as I can for God really is the highlight of my life, is he yours?

Until next time,
Every Blessing

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

Monday, 16 June 2014

Monday Musings - Give In And Believe

Last week I was in the car with my mother and we were dropping a friend home after a hospital appointment. As we approached her road we saw a gentleman in what looked like folk wear coupled with a guitar and full on beard and carrying a sign that said "Have a wonderful day".

This really made my day and I wanted to go and thank the man for making such a positive statement in times where he could be ridiculed for being 'different'. Unfortunately when trying to find him after parking the car at my friends the kind stranger had simply disappeared.

Luckily I wasn't having a mirage and my mother and friend saw this man and agreed that seeing him put a smile on their faces also.

We took the opportunity to seize the day and treat ourselves to lunch as I had also passed an important test earlier that morning.

When I took my son to dancing that evening I saw a sign on the wall and re-created said strangers smiley positive message and shared with my online friends and fans - it was a bonus that my message was from the Bible so I felt even happier that I was spreading God's Love:

John 20:27 - Stop doubting and believe.

I shared my smiley outlook with my friends and family in a blog post at my sister site Makeshift Mummy and I want to get everyone making a happy sign and spreading the love. I think it's important to put the positivity back into a world which has so much to be thankful for and so much to smile for. All too often we are drowning in a sea of negativity and adopt the 'woe is me' attitude' We can help change that:

Don't Worry, Be Happy :-)

If you were to make a make your day shine sign what yours say?

Until next time,
Every Blessing

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

Monday, 9 June 2014

Monday Musings - Messy Cathedral 2014

I am very fortunate to have some amazing guidance, and friendships, with some very influential people within our Diocese. One of these is the Revd Ruth Pyke the Children's Work Advisor for the St. Albans Diocese.

Ruth and I meet up occasional to discuss how things are going at S-T-O-C-K-S and me generally asking hundreds of questions about how to equip our children with God's love. Ruth invited myself and any members of our congregation to attend the St. Albans Cathedral Messy Cathedral worship (SAMC14). Myself, my son and our vicar went along and I thoroughly enjoyed myself and I know my son did too.

After signing in we were given a large brown paper bag to decorate. So I asked my son to write his name, though he was distracted by some toys he did want to draw a wolf:

After decorating our bags we gathered at the top end of the naive - the longest naive in England - and were officially welcomed. Then we were let lose to roam the various craft tables and partake in all sorts of amazing activities to celebrate Pentecost:

There were glass candle holder decorating tables, twirly's, key rings, hats, shakers, bracelets, windmills, sensory tents and cake stalls. There was even a table making the pentecostal dove I showed you HERE.

"Look Mummy it spins" *blows* nothing *blows harder* nothing.
"Look Mummy it really does spin" Pushes it with his finger.

"Mummy God made the rainbows so I'm making a rainbow candle"

Excitement inside the sensory tent.

Exploration and use of his different senses
 - sometimes we can all forget what's it feels like to use them.

Almost cutting the volunteers finger when making his fiery bracelet.

Hot air melting to make key rings

Joseph was so excited in the days leading up to the event that I hopped onto the laptop and showed him pictures of the Cathedral so he knew where he was going. He said it looked beautiful. He also added "Mummy if you find your prince maybe you could get married there" Bless him for having high hopes ;-)

I took away quite a bit from SAMC14. I liked the fact that the layout of the activities/stations were easily accessible an gave the children lots of choice. I think we should try doing more work stations at Church although continuing to stick to the same lesson we are trying to teach of course.

Joseph particularly liked the music and singing but I felt he was getting a tad restless as the worship service was a little too long right before lunch. What can I say, he's a growing boy and needs his fuel. The event provided a simple but beautiful lunch of a roll, fruit, juice and a chocolate bar. all in recyclable packaging.

There were so many left over that our Vicar took some with him to drop into our local homeless shelter. I had wanted to go with him but after such a long day thought it best to do that another time. I really do want to help more in our local community. It is a great reminder to not be so greedy with our food. Even though it is easily disposable I should try and be more frugal with portion sizes and teach Joseph to give thanks for what we are given.

For the homeless shelter

So that was SAMC14 I cannot wait until next year and will try and find some of the music and show you the actions/routines. I am sure you will enjoy them.

Until next time,
Every Blessing

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

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Thoughts on Thursday - Investing in Faith

Baby Brain is a proven condition with pregnant women but I don't think I can get away with saying I have Baby Brain five years down the line. However sheer tiredness and therefore forgetfulness are very familiar to me. It is no wonder then that I cannot remember for the life of me where my son got this beautiful money box:

I am forever teaching my five year old to put his pennies away if/when he is kindly given any from friends and family. It is important in today's economic climate to teach children to look after their money. I am of the moral upbringing that if you want something you have to work hard and then save to get it. Even my brother, fourteen years my superior, still to this day follows that ruling.

If we are putting in the hard graft and saving for materialistic rewards then surely it stands to reason that if we invest in our faith and save the information/lessons from Our Saviour, we will then reap the rewards in the Kingdom of Heaven?

When I say invest in faith I don't mean financially speaking I mean by your attending Church services, bible study, religious reading, teaching your children to pray with you, meditating, saying grace, even reading this post and memorising the verses at the bottom of the page. You can only get something out of what you put into it. But are we putting in enough?

How much should we invest in our faith?

This is an opportunity to keep your promise to be faithful to God from the comfort of your own home. Why not sit with your children and have a look through their Bible with them and write/draw all the promises God made. If you don't have a journal already - have a look at mine HERE for inspiration and start something special together.

Creating a journal is a great idea for a Sunday School and gives the children a physical item which also gives them a sense of belonging. They can return to it every session and could be a great record for their achievements also,eg: Christian stickers which we give out at the end of every session.

I made a promise to God when I chose to be confirmed, I also made a promise to God when I chose to have my son Christened/Baptised. God made a promise to us too:

Deuteronomy 7:9
Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, 
which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him 
and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;

Numbers 23:19 - 20
God is not human, that he should lie,
    not a human being, that he should change his mind.
Does he speak and then not act?
    Does he promise and not fulfill?
20 I have received a command to bless;
    he has blessed, and I cannot change it.

If God keeps his promises to us can we say we are keeping our promises to him? How much are you putting into your faith box?

Until next time,
Every Blessing

Kate at S-T-O-C-K-S

Sunday, 1 June 2014

S-T-O-C-K-S Sessions: Pentecost Mobile

Pentecost is a difficult time for anyone to get their head around let alone for children who have just learnt all about Jesus dying on the cross, being buried and then rising from the dead.

I didn't know how to approach this session with the children but found a friendly storytelling version via my closest friend Uncle Google. I came across a website called DLTK's and found their children-friendly version of story telling Pentecost:

What is Pentecost?  This is a very special time in the Bible when the disciples and other Christians received the Holy Spirit.  Before I explain why and how this happened there's a few things you need to know first.
God didn't just pick any day for this to happen.  Like everything God does, he has a specific time, purpose and reason for it and Pentecost was no exception.
Pentecost occurred 50 days after Easter Sunday or 50 days after Jesus rose from the dead.  Jesus had already gone back to Heaven so the disciples and new believers of Jesus were waiting to receive the Holy Spirit because that's what Jesus told them would happen.  Plus, since Jesus wasn't with them any more the Holy Spirit would help bring them closer to God.
Just before Jesus was taken up to heaven he told them that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on them and they'd be his witnesses in the whole world (Acts 1:8).  Even more, he told them much earlier that the counselor (or Holy Spirit) would be sent by the Father, that He would teach them all things and remind them of everything he said to them (John14:26).
So, the Holy Spirit is super helpful to us! He becomes a part of us when we become a Christian and understand that Jesus died and rose for us.  When we're ready to try to live a life pleasing to God the Holy Spirit becomes part of us so we have a part of God with us all the time. By Leanne Guenther

When looking on Pinterest I found lots of different activities from decorating the altar front with a huge hanging dove mobile and flaming altar cloth to a single flame headband. I decided to follow the steps from a Catholic blog called Catholic Icing Although we have different beliefs I found some similarities and some lovely crafts which we can adapt to fit our faith.

This Dove mobile for example was a template from Catholic Icing  Here is a picture from their site:

Picture courtesy of  the Catholic Icing Blog

And here is a picture of my template for the children:

I just changed the hanging pear-drops to flames to represent the burning bush and then I changed the wording to familiar words told in the story/explanation.

To make the dove mobile you need:
Paper Plates
Red, Orange, Yellow and Black felt tip pens
Red wool/string/ribbon
Red, yellow and orange card

First cut out six flame shapes (two of each colour). On the flames write, or ask the children to write the following words:

The words we used were:
Holy Spirit

Then draw two lines on your paper plate - these will become the wings. In the centre of the plate draw the doves body - this will be a half circle for the head, a body shape (or rectangular shape for the younger ones) then flick the two sides out for the tail:

Please ignore the hole in the middle we were recycling old paper plates - the children didn't notice.
Once these are cut out and you have drawn eyes, a beak and some feet on the dove you can secure the wings to the back of the dove using sellotape and begin sticking different lengths of the red string/wool again to the back of the dove. You will need 6 different lengths for the flames and one long piece to hang the mobile when its completed:

One of our S-T-O-C-K-S members dove :-) Great first effort.
The last bit is self explanatory in that you attach the flames to the wool/string with a little tape on the back of the flames:

Some of the childrens work :-) 

Great job by the children :-) With their additional word searches and colouring in pages too.
The children weren't the only ones who learnt something today. I learnt that anything is possible and that people may just surprise you but their willingness to listen and therefore learn. Everything is subject to change and maybe we all need to make a few tweaks/adjustments to make our lives fit in with our faith. For our faith is our life.

Until next time,
Every Blessing

Kate at S-T-O-C-K-S