Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Halloween and all souls lights

This is our pumpkin of 2012
Sitting proudly on the shelf
Letting all know that we are here
Ready with sweets and much good cheer

There's a face which smiles with light and joy
A heart and cross show what we enjoy
And an R engraved upon the side
Denotes the designers obvious pride

So please come up and knock the door
We'll answer until there are sweets no more
Admire your costumes and gasp in fight
When we're tired we'll blow out the light

Tomorrow we'll light more candles galore
And pray for those with us no more
That's why tonight is all about fear
Fear of what it's like when we leave here

Do not be scared, please know that all
Are gone away, but having a ball
In heaven, life's worries are gone away
And in God's arms are where they stay

Our pumpkin shows our joy tonight
Our candles tomorrow share our plight
Life is a mix of joy and sorrow
We share both today and tomorrow

#365photoproject day 313 Halloween

Title: the faces of Halloween in our house Date: 31st October 2012 Location: home This is also being submitted as "frightful" at

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Written by Emma Major

I have been sitting on my (electronic) pile of written but not illustrated books for months, too scared to approach illustrators for fear of rejection and too lacking in confidence to release them into the world for criticism.  But things are changing, thanks to a combination of little, and large, pushes from friends; and a series of what I like to call God incidences.

I am about to publish my ebook entitled "This is my story; This is my song" having found the perfect woman to design the front cover.  This book is the story of my babies who died before they were born; it is my song of healing and hope in grief, given as a gift to others.  It is not a diary or an autobiography of my experience; rather it is a collection of poems and prose which I have written over the years in memory of my four baby boys and in the journey of grief which I have travelled. They were written as a form of healing and they are given now in the hope that they might help the healing of those who read them.  All proceeds from the book will be donated to The Miscarriage Association.

I am also in talks with the illustrator who I hope will agree to illustrate the book I wrote in Zambia entitled "Ten Bible Stories for Children in English and Bemba".  This book is written in English and translated into Bemba, the most commonly spoken language in Zambia.  Every book sold will actually purchase two books; one for the purchaser and the second to be given to the children of the churches, schools and communities supported by The Jubilee Centre in Zambia.

As for Divine Routes; I know the perfect illustrator will appear in God's time, I'm just trying not to second guess when that might be.  If you know someone who would like to see a series of bible stories for preschool boys illustrated with buses, brought to market then please point them in my direction.  I'm yet to decide which charity to give the proceeds of this series of books to, but I'm sure the illustrator that I'm meant to work with might have ideas.

I can't believe that I have all these books written, or that there are at least another dozen in various stages of production, but I think I might need to face the fact that I am meant to write in a way that is broader than just this little blog of mine.  I might have to start embracing the name "author".

#365photoproject day 312

Title: bouncing friends
Date: 30th October 2012
Location: home

Christians can celebrate Halloween

You will have seen two previous posts about Halloween; one being a prayer activity with pumpkin carving, the other being some Halloween related crafts which celebrate the animals of Halloween rather than the "dark side".

I believe that Christians can, and should, join in with Halloween celebrations.  We are called to be the light of Christ in the world and we can only do that by being in the world and meeting people where they are.

So yes we carve a pumpkin, but it is friendly rather than scary.  The carved pumpkin is a symbol of how we try to let the light of Christ flow from our eyes and mouths and hearts.  We usually give it crosses for ears as a sign of our faith and a witness that we listen to and follow Jesus.

Yes we happily open the door to trick or treaters and we met them with smiles and chat to them and give them sweets.  Anyone who goes out of their way to come to our door (we're at the bottom of a close that doesn't have many families) knows that I am a minister.  I see my happy welcome as a demonstration of my love for the community and the families I serve.  I am accessible.

And yes we dress up (although Rachel doesn't want to this year) and we focus on being cats, being the cat lovers we are; again this breaks down the preconceptions of how Christians can't join in with the fun of life.

Yesterday I knew our toddler group would want to join in with Halloween somehow and ignoring it was not going to be loving.  However I really won't have devil's and witches in the church, I'm clear about my lack of acceptance of the occult.  So instead I provided spiders and bats, cats and pumpkins, stars and moons.  I also drew a few ghosts, thinking it would allow us to talk about whether they think they're real, but no-one was interested in them - very interesting.

So many of my Christian friends will steer well clear of Halloween, they'll hide behind the curtains and not open the door to trick or treaters, they'll fear the evil of the night or they might open the door and give a lecture about how they don't agree with Halloween.  That's their own choice, but I'd much rather engage with people where they are.

What do you think?
Will you engage with Halloween this year?

As a post script, Crimperman offered me his very apt cartoon about Halloween, it seems there are lots of us thinking about how Christians interact with the world this All Hallows Eve.  Isn't he a brilliant satirist.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Pumpkin Prayer

Here's a great little Prayer activity I did with the kids using a Pumpkin as I carved it; now it's not something I've tried before but it seemed to go well.

Dear God,

As I open this pumpkin I pray that you help us all open up more to you.

As I clean out this pumpkin I pray that you clean us of our sins and forgive us.

As I cut eyes into this pumpkin I pray that you show us our work for you in the world.

As I cut a nose for this pumpkin I pray that you remove our stubbornness.

As I cut ears into this pumpkin I pray that you help us hear your message into our heart.

As I cut a mouth into this pumpkin I pray that you help us share your love with others.

As I put a candle into this pumpkin I pray that more of your light comes into the world.


Halloween Crafts for Kids

Today has been an amazing day of half term holidays.  We started with a lie-in and a very relaxed breakfast before messing around with all sorts of ideas for Halloween crafts.

I am so proud of what a bit of play, a certain amount of drawing prowess and a great group of kids can achieve.

In the photos below I've included both the templates for the bookmarks, masks and other Halloween critters as well as a few collages of the finished creations.

These cost nothing more than ten pieces of paper, some crayons, glue, wool, sellotape and enthusiasm.  Give them a go yourself.

#365photoproject day 311

Title: crochet fun
Date: 29th October 2012
Location: play date

#365photoproject day 310

Title: practising drawing moshi monsters
Date: 28th October 2012
Location: breakfast

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Five little pumpkins

Five little pumpkins
Sitting on a wall
One looks down
And then it falls

The Four remaining pumpkins
Sit on that wall
Make safety plans
Then one more falls

Three pumpkins left
Talk to themselves
But one, in worry
Falls off it's shelf

Two orange pumpkins
Cling to each other
One starts to slip then
They fall off together

Poor little pumpkins
Lieing on the floor
Wishing they were
Still up on that wall

But at least the pumpkins
Here on the ground
They're much less likely
To be carved when found

This poem was written as part of Saturday Centus at Jenny Matlocks blog with the photo as the prompt.

Where will we wait?

Where will we wait
When we come to the end
Will it be at pearly gates
Or will it be in arms of a friend

Will we know the change
Or will it be completely natural
I pray it won't involve pain
As we progress into the eternal

All that I know
About the end of our lives
Is that God will be waiting
Just as each of us arrives

This poem was written as part of alphabe-Thursday at Jenny Matlocks Blog for the letter W on the day of a friends funeral and in remembrance of her.

#365photoproject day 309

Title: godsons
Date: 27th October 2012
Location: home

#365photoproject day 308

Title: friends
Date: 26th October 2012
Location: home

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Travel Theme: Couples

You don't have to travel far from home to experience something new and learn something great. It's just that as we get older et become blind to the mystery and majesty around us.

Just ask the average child and they'll tell you about the strange spider in the garden or the bird nesting on the tree or about the importance of not stepping on the cracks in the pavement.

And kids will tell you how important friends are and they'll demonstrate how friendships need working at.

We are all traveling through life and most of us do so in couples, so we appreciate the experience along the way?

This post was inspired by the prompt at "Where's my back pack" at

What will winter bring?

This poem is written for the100wcgu at Julia's Place with the prompt ...and winter will bring...
What will winter bring?
Spring brought light and warmth on my face
With blossom and daffodils all over the place
Summer delivered heat and days outdoors
Playing on the beach or inside on cool floors
Autumn provided loads of leaves on the ground
With webs and dew and conkers to be found
And winter will bring, well I'm not yet quite sure
But I hope there'll be snow and snowmen galore.

This poem is also submitted at Poetry Jam at please go and read the other poetic entries.

Paper angels

I know I might get shot for saying it, but..... Christmas is approaching.

As a children's leader I am planning Christmas parties, Christmas sessions and the all encompassing and fabulous Christmas nativity play.  I've blogged already about how I'm inviting the children themselves to write the nativity play with me, well I'm also asking them to provide the props and decorations which bring the church to life on the evening.

This first week we thought and talked about angels, discussing ideas such as what an angel might wear, whether we would recognise an angel in reading and if angels ever age.

We then made our own fabulous angels.
These are so easy to make for all abilities.
I drew a template, and cut some out for the younger kids, before adding the kids to decorate them in whatever way they fancied.  Once they're cut out they easily slot together, and advise a little bit of sellotape to hold everything in place. Et voila.  Paper angels.

#365photoproject day 306

Title: look and find the beauty
Date: 23rd October 2012
Location: Highmoor Hall

I see God

I hear God in the birds in the trees
I hear God in the rustling of the leaves
I hear God in the coos of a child
I hear God in the call of the wild

I see God in the new day dawning
I see God in the mists of the morning
I see God in the light of the day
I see God as the sun fades away

I feel God in the breeze on the air
I feel God in the love of one who cares
I feel God when I stop and receive
I feel God when I see a child believe

I know God is at work in me now
I know God is at work, but don't know how
I know God is at work in the world
I know God is at work in leaves unfurled

I touch God when I touch the dew
I touch God when I met someone new
I touch God when I cry, laugh or shout
I touch God because God is all about

On retreat

I come away
On my quiet day
To sit and pray
Then I sleep

It doesn't feel right
I just slept last night
But although it's light
I sleep

Then I wake, refreshed
Awake much less stressed
So nice to be a guest
On retreat

#365photoproject day 305

Title: hula hoop hands
Date: 22nd October 2012
Location: Rachel

Sunday, 21 October 2012

All Hallows Eve

Look out there, do you see that sight?
It's truly spooky, hanging around in the night
I can't make out, quite what it is
All I can see, is an eye in the trees

What creature owns, an eye like that?
Could it be dog, or cat, or bat?
Or someone dressed up, ready to pounce
I really don't like it, not one ounce

I need to go past, that spot out there
There's no other way, I don't know where
To go to avoid, that eye and its face
Should I go slow, or should I race?

On All Hallows Eve, everything will scare
But we're told not to stop; and not to stare
So I'm going to go past, I will not be delayed
Wait its a ......

.... toy, I was never afraid!

This poem was written as part of Saturday Centus at Jenny Matlocks Blog with the picture being the prompt.

#365photoproject day 304

Title: sparkly nails
Date: 21st October 2012
Location: fingers

Church is my family

There is love
There are differences
There is shared experience
There are memories across generations
There is acceptance of each other

Child led nativity

This year we are writing the annual St Nicolas Earley nativity play with the youngest kids (aged 4 to 10); letting them make decisions about how the play should be presented and what should be said. 

I've been the Christmas story into five sections:
1. Angels
2. Jesus is both in Bethlehem
3. Shepherds visit
4. A star leads way
5. wise men come from afar

Over the next five weeks we'll explore the nativity story together, getting into what happened and why and thinking a bit about how we could explain that to people.

I am super excited about the whole experience and if it goes half as well as our first season today then it will be something not to miss on Christmas Eve.

Make a hedgehog and bug house

At people prayer and potatoes at St Nicolas Earley today we looked at how we wait and how we can be patient in that waiting.  We made all sorts of crafts to help us think about patience and we undertook a big group project in the church garden - we made a hedgehog and bug house.

To help the kids make the hedgehog and bug house I provided the following materials:
- bricks
- off cuts of wood of various sizes
- 2 squares of outdoor grade board
- old pipes
- old plastic plant pots
- dry sticks and twigs
- a garden full of autumn leaves and sticks

Apart from laying out the base bricks, placing the first square of board on top and putting the pipes and pots on top of that board I left it to the kids.  They enthusiastically placed leaves, sticks and lots of off-cuts of wood onto the platform to keep the pots and pipes in place.   They then put the last square of wood on top, before making a ramp for the hedgehog and lots of camouflage to keep them safe and to encourage bugs to nest for the winter.

I am so impressed by their enthusiasm, team work and passion to care for the animals in church garden and hope animals enjoy their winter hotel.

I'd also encourage anyone to give making their own hedgehog and bug house a go.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

#365photoproject day 303

Title: still energised after the disco
Date: 20th October 2012
Location: home at last

#365photoproject day 302

Title: autumn bugs
Date: 19th October 2012
Location: sunroof

Thursday, 18 October 2012

#365photoproject day 301

Title: first aid training practice with daddy
Date: 18th October 2012
Location: playroom floor

Va va voom

What I need is some va va voom
a shot of energy with extra time thrown in
do you think they sell it by the bottle
or is it a prescription I'd have to fill in?

I dream of four more hours
in every day of my life as a gift
some I would use for my work
but most used on the family shift

I would value each single minute
for at least the first few days
then I know it'd all be filled
and I'd be back to my old busy ways

So perhaps that va va voom
should be realism in my life
teaching me not to try everything
but to enjoying being mother and wife

This poem was written as part of Alphabe-Thursday at Jenny Matlock's Blog for the letter V.

Time for Tea #100wcgu

Oh no it can't be true
can't be that time already
where has the afternoon gone?
how will I ever get ready?

I mustn't be late in the playground
Mustn't be last mum picking up
But how am I going to get there
When I haven't finished my cup

You see I need to finish this cuppa
of tea that gives me the strength
to make it through the evening
as it extends for hours in length

At last I can see the bottom
I could read the leaves if I try
Now I have to run up that hill
If only I could fly

This poem was written as part of 100 word challenge for grown ups at Julia's Place with the prompt
…it can’t be that time….

18th October 2012 Luke 10:1-9 Luke the Evangelist

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.  He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.  Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.  Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road. “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’  If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you.  Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you.  Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’

And again, following on from the last two days, we hear what we are called to be as disciples.  We are called to spread the good news, to come into relationship with people who are seeking to understand and know Jesus and to heal and teach where we can.  This is not a calling to a few but to 72 then and to all of us now; and it's a living faith and a living commission.  This is what matters.  Go and live it.

17th October 2012 Luke 11:42-46

“Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.  “Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and respectful greetings in the marketplaces. “Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which people walk over without knowing it.”  One of the experts in the law answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also.”   Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.

This follows on from yesterday's readings.  We need to ask ourself if as christians and as church leaders we require, or seem to require, certain things from people who are seeking to be in relationshop with Jesus.  This is not what we are called to do; we are not called to put people on rotas or to get theoir signatures on membership rolls; we are called to love and embrace and disipcle people.

16th October 2012 Luke 11:37-41

When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table.  But the Pharisee was surprised when he noticed that Jesus did not first wash before the meal.  Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.  You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also?  But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.

It is not what you seem to be on the outside.
It is not what you do within the church.
It is not what you proclaim to believe.
It is what you are, where your heart is, what you believe and what God knows you are all about.

This is so important to me and it is why I don't worry about how regularly or otherwise anyone comes to church; what matters to me is that people know Jesus and are in relationship with God.

15th October 2012 Luke 11:29-32

As the crowds increased, Jesus said, “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation. The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the people of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom; and now something greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and now something greater than Jonah is here.

Jesus was showing the connection between the Old Testament and himself; showing that he knew entirely the teachings of the Jewish religion and that He had come to fulfil the prophecies.  Jesus is telling how people will now move to God's side even more than they did in Nineveh.  And so it was and is still today.