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Posts Tagged ‘Kids’

The Joker is teaching Junior Church tomorrow. If we have some kids in… Yes, we have got to that stage of life here – where the teenagers are taking up leadership roles. The Joker and the Engineer and their pal Miss Clean all teach at our Kids’ Club on Wednesday evenings. The group is thriving – recently they’ve had almost twenty kids most weeks. All three of them run games, give short talks and take responsibility for the group in many different ways. It’s a real pleasure to see them maturing into service – and enjoying themselves in the process

And the Joker and Miss Clean also teach the small (but perfectly formed) group that meet on Sundays. It was a bit of a shock for them both when they started. Instead of a good size group of kids that includes every age from 5 to 11, we normally have a couple of small girls, aged 3 and 5. Although sometimes we get others. But we still teach them a proper curriculum. And tomorrow is the final session of a short series in the book of Esther. Which happens to be the Joker’s favourite book of the Bible, ever since he developed a serious crush on the VeggieTales Esther at the age of five.

VeggieTales Esther

I guess she’s pretty for a spring onion

And the theme of tomorrow’s session is how God does the impossible – saving his people from certain death by sending his saviour – for such a time as this, at just the right time. A truth that gives us hope for today and for all the days to come, even when facing uncertainty and global turmoil. For entertainment in the Vicarage this evening, the Joker practised the opening illustration – cutting up an A4 piece of paper so that he can walk through it. Impossible, you say? But look! Ta-daa!

Teenager stood in paper cut up so that you can step through it. In messy living room

The Joker does the impossible

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I blogged for four whole days! In a row! More blog posts than in the whole of 2017, 2018 and 2019. I wrote on Ash Wednesday and then all the way to Saturday. And then it was the First Sunday in Lent and I had small rest. A lifting of the fast to feast for the Lord’s Day.

And a very good Lord’s Day it was too, thanks for asking. We had more people than usual at the All Age Service, with more songs than usual and a great feeling of joy as we read through God’s Very Good Idea together:

This is God’s very good idea: lots of different people enjoying loving him and loving each other.

God MADE it.
People RUINED it.
He RESCUED it.
He will FINISH it.

One of the final pictures in the book is of a church family eating together. A good illustration, because is that is what we did after we went through this story. Because the first Sunday of the month is our Community Church Day.

gods-very-good-idea-feasting

We didn’t have pink tablecloths but otherwise this is a pretty good depiction

Community Church Day is when we invite people who attend our midweek church groups (toddlers, kids club, Open Church) to join our Sunday congregation for lunch, with crafts, games and a Bible story in the mix. Other members of the community are also invited – we always try to take some invitations around to neighbours.

A few of us bring food to eat, and everyone pitches in to help with putting up tables, serving food, wrangling toddlers, playing games, clearing up and sweeping the floor at the end. This Sunday we had chicken curry, a yellow dhal, roast gammon, a huge lasagne, a vegetarian pasta dish and carbs in pretty much every form (including an enormous pile of chapattis). The glorious mix of food was matched by the mix of people, a reflection of the wonderful variety of God’s good creation.

A day like that is part of God’s Very Good Idea: lots of different people enjoying loving him and loving each other. And our next Community Church Day is not on the first Sunday, because we’re going to celebrate Easter Day together: the very best part of God’s Very Good Idea.

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Wednesday was quite a cluttered day here in the Vicarage. Jolly left for a new safe home, and the Vicar spent the morning with him, the Hope for Justice team, and CID. As you do. Meanwhile, I was with the team running our monthly soup lunch. For a chilly February day we served Melrose lentil soup and an approximation of Spiced Root Soup. There were also whole orange cakes for afters. And then our dear friend Song came to spend her day off with us and so Wednesday disappeared with rather a lack of attention to the mess.

Pleasingly, today’s rummage in the boys’ bedroom meant I could knock out 3+4 items easily. Look! Lots of picture books that haven’t been read for quite some time. And I’m not even going to hold some of them back for later in the month – I’ve barely started with the book shelves in there.

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In my week and a bit of Doing the Next Thing, I have failed to do various admin tasks. They are glaring at me from the planner and I will need to make friends with them next week. I’m not even going to mention the ironing.

But I do seem to have a genuine, not-seen-before, result. I managed to get my head around the term for Junior Church. That means that the other leaders will have their planning notes ahead of time. I’ve done a little of that before. But my completely new achievement is a set of visual aids for the new series (on Elijah and Elishah). They always suggest them in our On The Way materials. But when I’m planning on a Saturday evening, there isn’t usually time (or energy). I am also quite pleased with the discovery of wooden skewers to make the pictures into puppets. They slightly remind me of the characters from the Victorian style puppet theatre I had as a child.

I think we’re going to have fun with these on Sunday morning. I’m going to give different children a couple of puppets each and see if we can act it out as I read the passage. Who shall I cast as the bowl of flour, I wonder?

junior Church characters

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WE’RE HO-OME! Actually we landed on Friday evening and have been home for three whole days now. The Vicar left Devon at 2pm on Friday with our car and trailer with a couple of Pathfinders and Mac from church who’d been helping on the Task Force, following the minibus. Dreamer and I departed at 3.30pm, but rocked up at the Vicarage just twenty minutes after the rest of the crew. With holiday traffic, departure time is everything. Anyway, we’re still in recovery mode here and I thought I’d share our key techniques with you:

1. Unpack. On arrival dispatch all non-residents of your home to their respective families asap. When Dreamer and I drew up, there were still a few waifs and strays at the Vicarage. Plus we still had five Indian missionaries staying. It took us a little while after all that to unload all our luggage and decompress. But you need to get all the kit out of the car/minibus. It’s not fun realising the next day that your sleeping bag is in Tipton because you didn’t unload things properly.

2. Takeaway for tea. Or something you froze before you went away. No matter how perky you think you feel on leaving camp, you will definitely be too tired to do more than pop something in the microwave or call EatWise. Consume in front of a movie. Do not attempt conversation.

3. Sleep. As much as possible. Do not arrange to play in a golf tournament early on Saturday morning *looks hard at someone resident in the Vicarage*. One of the main leaders from our venture slept 14 hours on Friday night. This seems like a suitable amount to me. NB Golf tournament didn’t happen in the end. Too tired, obvs.

4. Reminders. Note that you will have to regulate your life without the aid of a hooter (or bell, depending on your venture’s choice of noisy reminding instrument). Set alarms to remind you to come in for tea. Don’t set a morning alarm if at all possible (see point 4 above).

5. Laundry. There will be many loads. Take your time. You are unlikely to need the multi pocketed shorts in the week to come. Unless you are super keen and have a quick turnaround for another venture. Then you deserve a medal and a laundry company calling round.

Up later this week: more reflections on venture life, including an analysis of best costumes for the last night and tried and tested techniques to get your dorm to be quiet and go to sleep. Or something like that.

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We’re off to camp in a couple of days. No, we’re not actually camping. But we call it that because it’s always been called that. Maybe because people used tents when they took young people away in the 1950s. Who knows? We’re actually off on a CPAS Pathfinder Venture – taking 76 11-14 year olds from youth groups round the country to a boarding school in Devon for a week of fun, adventure, beach trips, crafts and learning about Jesus. The whole of the Vicarage are going, even the Engineer, who is still too young to be an official Pathfinder, but will buddy along with the rest of us and join in where he can and hang out with the Task Force team (who do all the practical stuff) when he can’t.

Also round the country are about 40 leaders of all shapes and sizes getting prepared. Here in the Vicarage we have our part to play. So what essential things do we need to get done before we leave?

1. Reply to the gazillion emails about transport, bible studies, menus, equipment. The inbox tends to heat up red hot in the days before we land in Devon.

2. Concoct suitable costumes for the theme. (France this year). Personally I’m hoping that stripey t-shirts will cut it. Although I know that there will be a few people dressed as baguettes and the Eiffel Tower – the team is a pretty creative bunch. Me, not so much.

3. Prepare the Bible study for the dorm. Although miraculously this year I have done mine already *smug face*.

4. Receive, check, price up and then repack the bookstall. This will take a day or so. There are a lot of books (I just counted and I think we have ordered 251). It will involve post-it notes and patience. It’s arriving from 10ofthose tomorrow!

5. Acquire all the sweeties, craft items and other bits and bobs I have agreed to bring for our dorm times. After first checking through the email that itemises them. If I can locate the email in amongst the gazillion.

6. Sleep for as many hours as possible. Sleep is in short supply in Devon what with early morning leaders’ meetings and late night dorm patrol. My aim is to arrive there *not* completely shattered.

7. Find my shorts with the capacious pockets. And the flip flops. And a raincoat and a couple of fleeces. Doncha just love a summer holiday in the UK?

8. Fill out all the health forms. For me, for the Vicar, for the children. And possibly for the cat aswell; I’m losing track.

9. Obsessively monitor the weather forecast for Barnstaple, praying that we won’t have to book out an entire cinema for an afternoon like we had to that year that Devon was subjected to sheet rain for the almost the entire week of camp.

10. Pray for the team, the kids, the families who send them, the home churches and the Ventures team at CPAS, who all work together to provide a fantastic week of holiday and happiness that can be so important in the Christian walk for so many. My own faith came alive on a CPAS venture in 1981 and I’m praying that all our Pathfinders will grow in faith in Christ next week.

Thankfully we have people staying in the Vicarage whilst we’re away, so we don’t have to work out who’s going to feed (and clear up after) our arthritic cat. I’m leaving early on Friday with Dreamer and we’ll be with the advance troops setting everything up before the kids arrive on Saturday. Then it’s all go until we land home on the following Friday, filled with tales of faith and fun and starting the plans for next year.

We get to go to a lovely beach on camp. We make it a lot busier than this one though…

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Do you have a child with a smart phone or tablet? Are they reluctant to remove their eyes from the tiny screen because someone is droning nasally on YouTube about Minecraft? Do they fail to hear calls for meals or run away from table too early in order to play Angry Birds? Let me share with you an app I came across recently that has aided our parenting and helped us to ease the Queen (aged 13, now a proud possessor of a smart phone on a super cheap but strangely comprehensive contract) into learning some self control:

DinnerTime

Seriously, I cannot recommend this free app highly enough. It works by allowing you to control your child’s smartphone or tablet from your own phone. It’s available from Google Play, the Apple App Store and the Amazon App Store. We have the Queen’s set to switch off at bedtime and we can summon her to the table at the touch of a screen. She doesn’t mind, and it can be quite funny to see how quickly she appears once I’ve used the ‘Take a Break’ function.

Of course, I want her to develop self control, but I never had the challenge of having to switch off my phone at night when I was 13. It was bad enough trying not to read under the covers. So this app enables us to help her let go of the phone without having to physically remove it from her grasp. If you are buying a device for a child this Christmas, you could install DinnerTime (or DinnerTime Plus for even more functionality) before the child has it and then bedtime screen battles will not even begin. I have mentioned DinnerTime to other parents and to a headteacher recently, and there seemed to be some keen interest. Perhaps it will help you or someone you know who’s battling in this area. It’s been a blessing to us.

A great weapon in the battle of the screens

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