Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for February, 2011

Another book from the pile I picked up from CLC to review for our Pathfinder venture is Afterwards I Knew, which contains eight short stories, mostly set in Holland during the Second World War. The stories are fictional but are movingly told, recollecting hardships and difficult choices made by Christians in times of hunger and oppression.

The stories are peppered with lyrical language, scripture and poetry. They tell of families reunited, people finding faith and standing up for Christ.  There is rich theology here too – God’s grace in difficult times and despite our weaknesses and assurance of God’s love and the hope of the resurrection when we feel the weight of our sin.

Christian Focus recommend ‘Afterwards I Knew’ for children over 13 years old and I think 11 year olds with good comprehension skills (and knowledge of the Second World War) would be fine with it. The only rider I would place on this book is to ensure that those reading it know it is fiction. The stories are so uplifting and moving, it would be tempting to believe that they actually happened.

Who for: Boys and girls ages 11 and up (and grown-ups)
Genre: Short stories, historical fiction
Recommended for Pathfinder camp: Yes (for older Pathfinders)

Read Full Post »

I’ve just been enjoying some early Spring views from my kitchen window as the sun sets on a surprisingly balmy February day. First there was the cheering sight of the robin hopping about around the bird table that the Vicar was given for Christmas. He doesn’t seem to mind all the clutter out there in the yard.

The yard is also where the Vicar was then chopping logs in a manly way to prepare the wood for our fires for next winter. We’ve had a good haul of wood over the last few weeks, mainly due to some serious redevelopment going on in our town centre. They’ve been chopping a good few trees down and have left the wood out for the hunter-gatherer tribe, of which the Vicar is an enthusiastic member.

Watching the Vicar chop logs reminds me of Almost, who we’ve not seen for a few weeks now. Almost is from Kosovo and is once again trying to get leave to remain in the UK. Almost tells us that his 3 brothers got permission some years ago but he had to return to Kosovo with his wife and family. His wife was taken ill  (with a stroke) on the way back and died recently. So he is back here trying again. He is living in cramped conditions and occasionally comes to ask if we’ll pay him for some work or for help with his gas or electric.

When Almost was last here, the Vicar was log-chopping and was then clearing up the prepared wood before he was able to take Almost to the Post Office to top up his gas card. As he does with most visiting able-bodied men, the Vicar offered Almost a go of the axe. And although Almost is much slighter than the Vicar, his axe skills were far more impressive. We asked him if he’d chopped wood before, back in Kosovo.

Ah. Too many, too many.

I wonder if our boys will grow up with great axe skills but sighing about having to chop too many, too many.

Read Full Post »

As I mentioned the other day, I have a large pile of books that I thought might be suitable for kids on our Pathfinder camp this summer. Being a diligent sort of bookstall person, I’m aiming to read them all. And today I whizzed through the first one, Deadly Emily by Kathy Lee.

Emily Smith is a Christian. She’s still at primary school (I’m guessing Year 5 or 6) and her parents have split up so she, her brother and her mum have moved to live with her gran. Moving to a new place, coping with a new school, dealing with bullies and trusting God when everything seems to be going wrong are all covered.

Kathy Lee’s story is well written with an exciting plot which would especially appeal to girls who enjoy school and adventure stories. I liked the way in which Emily’s Christian faith is portrayed realistically without becoming cheesy. Emily clings onto God’s word in tough times but doesn’t always choose the godly thing to do. She’s a normal Christian girl and I think this makes her very accessible for the readers I’m aiming at. It’s not too long (138 pages), has no illustrations and would not be too intimidating for competent primary school readers or younger secondary school pupils.

Who for: 8-13 year old girls
Genre: School/adventure
Recommended for Pathfinder camp: Yes

Read Full Post »

Someone asked me recently for a low-fat traybake. Most of my cooking isn’t terribly healthy – I prefer to have a small slice of something delicious rather than a large wedge of something worthy. However, sometimes deliciousness and worthiness can combine, as is the case with these fantastic Date and Coconut Chews.

I was given this recipe by my friend Summer after we spent a very happy day off on a walk with her and her Vicar husband. We took a picnic lunch with us. I brought soup and Summer brought various treats including these. I’m not normally a fan of dates, but these slices are wonderful – chewy and sweet but full of fruit and coconut, which I think cancels out the butter and golden syrup.

Ingredients

  • 6oz/170g plain flour
  • 3 oz/85g dessicated coconut
  • 6oz/170g stoned dates, chopped
  • 6oz/170g caster sugar
  • 3oz/85g butter (you could use hard marg, but butter is tastier, isn’t it?)
  • 2 teaspoonfuls (1 dessertspoonful) golden syrup
  • 1 egg, beaten

Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup (I always do this in the microwave, but you can do it on the stove aswell). Stir the dry ingredients together then add the hot butter mixture and the egg. Mix everything well and then spread out in a lined 9″x11″ (23cmx28cm) tin. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 180ºC (Gas 4, Fan 170ºC).

When cooled a little, cut into 24 slices. I did a little maths and reckon that each slice has about 3.5g of fat. This isn’t quite low enough to classify as ‘Low Fat’ in the US , but I think it’ll do.

[Late Edit: A Twitter pal tells me he’s tried this recipe using prunes instead of dates and rice flour in the place of plain and that it worked really well. Good for those on a gluten-free diet then.]

Read Full Post »

Not my own, you understand. I am definitely morning-challenged and I have a battle with myself every day as I force myself to leave the cosiness of bed. But we have recently discovered the wonders of children with alarm clocks.

Some folk complain about how their kids are always up at 5am or some other hour before God has risen. But ours have always been blessed with a good sleeping-in instinct. This was great when they were tiny, but now that they need to be up for school it has begun to be somewhat problematic. The Queen, if left to her devices, will sleep until 9am. Not good when school starts at 8.45am and there are things like getting dressed and breakfast to be dealt with.

So we have been waking our children in the mornings and cranking them up for the school day. It had got particularly bad with the Queen as she likes to feel in charge of as much of her life as possible and recently, she has felt very strongly that getting up should be her domain. This means that she does not take kindly to being woken up, given a morning cuddle, having her clothes presented to her, having her curtains opened or any other morning activity being done for her by others. As you can imagine, there have been a few stressful mornings, when Mum or Dad appearing and trying to help has had the opposite of the desired effect.

Then I had a very helpful conversation with Glamourpuss, who also has a strong willed daughter, who was also getting grumpy in the mornings. Glamourpuss told me how she gives Wildchild her phone, with its alarm set. Wildchild is in charge of waking up to the alarm and bringing her mum the phone every morning. So I went straight out and bought an alarm clock for the Queen. We’re now a week in and our mornings have been transformed. The boys have one too, which has been helping them to rise, but it’s the Queen’s attitude that has undergone the greatest transformation. She has been delightful in the mornings – up and dressed without any shouting needed, and this morning she also went and spent time reading her new devotional book, praying and looking at her bible. All before breakfast.

Now a week is obviously not a habit, but I’m so glad that one of the big battles in our house seems to have disappeared. And so simply. Now I just need to find out how she bounces out of bed immediately the alarm goes off and copy her…

Read Full Post »

Every year the Vicar helps out on a CPAS Pathfinder venture (known as ‘camp’ even though we don’t use tents) in Devon, and I join him there with the kids. A great time is had by all learning about Jesus and having a fabulous holiday. This year I have volunteered to help out with the bookstall. They have one every year and I noticed last year that the selection of books was tailored more to the upper age of the camp and to the more literate kids.

A diverse range of children come along to our camp, from 14 year old clergy kids from the suburban Home Counties to 11 year old barely literate unchurched youngsters from the inner city. And I think it’s a real challenge to find books that will suit them. I’m currently hunting for recommendations and have bought a small pile of books to review from our local CLC bookshop.

In my review pile are the following:

Fiction

  • Deadly Emily by Kathy Lee (the Queen gobbled this up in a couple of hours and very much enjoyed it)
  • The Shock of Your Life by Adrian Holloway (recommended by the CLC manager)
  • Afterwards I Knew by Christine Farenhorst

Apologetics/Lifestyle

  • Jesus Rose from the Dead by Catherine MacKenzie
  • Friends First by Claire Pedrick and Andy Morgan

Bible/Devotional

  • For Girls Only! Devotions by Carolyn Larsen
  • No Girls Allowed Devotions by Jayce O’Neal
  • The Manga Bible by Siku
  • Esther: God’s Invisible Hand by Helen Clark

I’ve had a couple of recommendations which I’ve not managed to pick up: Hannah MacFarlane’s books and that old classic, The Chocolate Teapot by David Lawrence.

I would love to have an appropriate book for every Pathfinder this year. So I am asking around for recommendations. Have you found any good Christian literature recently? I’m not just looking for books either – how about journals, booklets or dvds?

If you’ve done youthwork, or have kids between the ages of 11-14, give or take a couple of years, or have any ideas at all, I’d love to get your recommendations. Have you run a bookstall on a summer camp? What sells well to younger teens? I’m especially interested in books that will appeal to boys, who I know are often not keen readers. All help gratefully received!

Read Full Post »

We struggle with music in our church. We have a lovely and talented organist, but he only comes in the evening. We have a Ministry Trainee who plays the guitar, but not all songs suit the guitar, and Rocky often has other things to do of a Sunday morning. There’s another lady who plays sometimes but she often plays at other churches.

So mostly we have cds. And midi files. Now I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to plan a service where you have to factor in ‘have we got a singable version of that on cd?’ but it complicates matters enormously.

Often the Vicar will come through humming a tune and I will mention how much I love that song and he’ll tell me how suitable it is for the theme of the service. And then he’ll have to choose something else because the version we have in our (now rather extensive) Christian music collection is utterly dire. Or it’s a version from a conference with far too much fancy twiddling in between the verses. *sigh*

We are continually praying that the Lord would send us some musicians, but since we’ve been here the best bet looks like training up the Vicarage kids into a band. But the Engineer, although the best pianist amongst them, is still only six. So in the meantime we keep on buying cds and smiling at anyone we meet who plays anything.

I was prompted to blog about our church music when Rachel tagged me in a meme. I’m not normally a memer (? is that a word?) and I notice that Rachel didn’t answer the question herself!

Please try to name ONE (I know, there are so many to choose from) CCM [Contemporary Christian Music – I know, I didn’t know what it was either] praise song that you find unbearable and at least 2-3 reasons why, pointing to specific lyrics if you must.

Since the Vicar mainly chooses the songs at church we don’t actually suffer from songs that we can’t bear very much at all. There are a few old faves of the congregation that wouldn’t make my top ten, but I’m glad to sing them for the encouragement they bring to others and the gusto with which they are belted out. So I’m struggling to think of a song that’s unbearable too. Apart from this, which isn’t actually unbearable either – it’s gone past unbearable and out the other side:

I know I posted this before. But it was ages ago. And sometimes I need to be reminded that having musicians who can play instruments isn’t everything. Although if you’re reading this and have musical gifts and think you could serve a small inner city church in easy commuting distance of Birmingham,  in a parish where 3 bedroomed terraced houses can be purchased for £90,000, we would be overjoyed to hear from you…

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: