Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Robin Williams and my black dog

Everywhere I've gone today I've heard the sad news that Robin Williams has (apparently) committed suicide.   Here's how it's been for me and my black dog.

Black dog has woken up after a lovely long sleep.
I feel desperately sad for Robin that he was suffering so badly and also for his family who will be grieving his loss.

Black dog is rubbing at my legs.
I can't stop thinking about how depressed Robin must have been and comparing it to how depressed I've felt in the not so distant past and what stopped me taking my life.

Black dog is curling up in my lap and making himself comfortable.
The news is full of Robin's struggles with drug and alcohol addiction. I "need to" eat but I'm stuck in a car for the long drive home from holiday.  I can't shake the feelings of sadness.

Black dog is wrapping himself round my neck.
Do other people ever feel jealous that someone has been brave enough to end the pain of depression?  I don't feel suicidal at the moment but the feelings are so close that I can touch them.

Black dog is in my lap asleep.
I can't shift the sadness and irritability I feel.  Why do I have up have this illness? Why did he?  Why does my family have to suffer?  Or his?  Will I be able to resist the black dog if a depressive cycle comes back? He didn't.

Black dog is on the floor by my feet.
I can at least write about it now. This is good; this is processing.  I wish we lived in a world where mental health was understood and appreciated properly; perhaps this writing will help just one person.  

Robin Williams RIP you gave so much joy to so many, I am so sorry you suffered so much. I wish I didn't understand and I wish you'd found someone who understood enough to help you.

If you are feeling suicidal please ring The Samaritans in the UK on 08457 90 90 90

Monday, 4 August 2014

What do I know about art? I'm a village idiot apparently #art #news

Have you seen the Independent and BBC articles about Jake Chapman and his comments about children and art?   No?  Then click here or here and then hurry back.

How are you feeling?
Unsurprised - he is a turner prize winner after all and likes to shock
In agreement - I'm amazed you've come back to read this
Incensed - aren't you the village idiot, you and me both!

Jake Chapman is happily telling all who will listen that children can't understand art and we're wasting everyone's t time if we take them to see art.  All I can say is

"Have you ever taken a child to an art gallery?"

I'm guessing he hasn't, because if he'd been with my Rachel or any of the thousands of other kids you'll see at at galleries, then he'd have heard profound commentary and insight from their young lips.  In fact if he'd ever taken a child to see art he'd know that as an adult you gain a whole new dimension of understanding when you hear what a child sees.

It may not be that a child can tell you about the political antagonism of a painting, but that is more due to their knowledge of systems that understanding of the work.  They may talk about arguments or friendships, of anger or love, of yellows fighting purples or textural differences.  The child sees the truth within so much more readily than we do as adults, and sometimes that is the truth of the artist which bleeds through their work despite their best intentions.

I love going to art galleries such as the Tate modern with Rachel, to experience the art with her and through her and visa versa.  Art, whether artists like it or not, talks to those who see it and experience it and I wouldn't change a child's eye view for anything.

Call me a village idiot; but listen to my words and you might just hear the truth you try to hide.  You can't hide from children; they see it all.

Holiday Club Crafts #messychurch #children #kids #families

We've had a lot of fun the last two Mondays at Noah's Ark @St Nics Holiday Club.  As well as the usual toys, chat, coffee and cake there have been crafts for both the older and the younger kids (and the adults).

On the first Monday we thought about friendship with loom bands and button caterpillars and heart pictures.  This week we focused on how we can look after people and the world and made pet rocks and corks and button wind chimes for the garden.

Here are some simple how to guides:

Button caterpillars
- cut a length of elastic
- thread on buttons of a similar size
- put on one larger button for the face
- tie knots at both the ends of the elastic

Button wind chimes
- tie a fairly long piece of elastic or string to both ends of a stick
- cut three shorter lengths of elastic and knot one end of each
- thread five or six buttons onto each length of elastic
- tie these pieces of elastic onto the stick so that they hang down
- hang the wind chimes in a tree or on a chair or anywhere

Pet rocks and corks
- you can collect rocks in the garden or beach
- or you can do as I did - make rock shapes from clay
- I got craft corks cheaply but you could collect you own
- paint the rocks and cork any way you like
- paint on or stick on eyes
- give your pet a name

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Loom Bands, the Bible and Children

If you don't know what loom bands are then you've probably been living under a rock (or no where near children) for the last few months.  They are little elastic bands which you can join together into bracelets, necklaces, skipping ropes and even clothing (apparently).

The craze has well and truly landed in our house and all the kids at church love them.  It therefore seemed like a natural match to bring loom bands together with biblical teaching.

I'm clearly not the first to do this, and I'm not even the first to write about it, but I thought I'd share some of the bands we've made and the stories and messages they relate to.  If you have any others I'd love to see them, links in the comments very welcome.

1. Creation

The story of creation in genesis is always one which mesmerises children.  By using a different colour loom band for light, water, land and a multi coloured string the abundance of plants and animals you create a wonderful recreation of creation.

2. Noah's Ark

It may look like blue, white and rainbow bands to you, but it's the story of Noah to the kids.  God told Noah to build a boat and he did.  It stated to rain, first lightly and then heavily. It rained and rained and rained and rained for forty days and forty nights and Noah, his family and all the animals were safe in the ark.  When it stopped raining Noah sent out a dove to find land and eventually they animals repopulated the earth.  God sent a rainbow as a promise that he would never again destroy the earth.

3. Moses meets a snake

The story of Moses is ripe for loom band creations. From brown and orange for a basket, to red for the passover, to blue for the parting of the sea.  The one I'm showing here is when God speaks to Moses and tells him that he is going to save the people of Israel.   God tells the disbelieving Moses that he should pick up the stick, he does and it becomes a snake.  What more could Moses need to be shown how powerful God is.

4. Baptism

This loom band design works for Jesus' baptism or for a general teaching about baptism.  The blue represents the water of baptism and the purple the kingdom of God.  We are baptised into the kingdom of God.

5. Fishers of Men

Jesus called the disciples together and told them to go to all the nations and baptise all the people in His name.  Jesus called the disciples to be fishers of men, we are called to be the same.

6. Jesus died for our sins

Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins, his blood was shed to save us.

7. Lost Sheep

This band tells story of the lost sheep.
One day the shepherd was counting his sheep; he counted once, twice, three times and ever time there was one sheep missing.  The shepherd didn't abandon his sheep, he searched all night until he found the sheep in a bush, trapped.  The shepherd picked up the sheep and brought it home safe and sound.

8. Care for the world

God made the world and everything in it and gave it to us to look after.  We are required as Christians to care for the world.

9. Kingdom of heaven

This band has a simple message; the message that being loved by Jesus brings us into the kingdom of heaven on earth.

10. Being a Christian

And last, but not least, we have the band which explains what it means to be a Christian.

Black - the darkness of life without knowing Jesus
Red - the blood Jesus shed for us
Blue - the water of baptism
Yellow - the glory of heaven
Purple - the kingdom of God
White - the pure joy of life in relationship with God