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Posts Tagged ‘stories’

It’s been a struggle to write this blog, this Lent, this #lentowrimo. Last Lent the pandemic had only just started, lockdown was looming, and then began. There were things to speculate about – what was going to happen, how the world was going to cope. There were new things to negotiate – social distancing, online church, finding a source of flour, developing a sourdough starter, advanced baking, homeschool protocols.

This Lent, it’s all old and wearying. We’ve had more than enough of homeschool. We’re fed up of not hugging people. I’ve not made sourdough for months, despite having enormous bags of flour stashed away. It’s been winter for months and months, and I still have toothache.

I had things to talk about last year. But I’m struggling this time around. Life is mostly all old hat.

An Old Hat (Photo by Yulia Rozanova on Pexels.com)

The more interesting things I’m doing are non-bloggable, as often seems to happen in life. I don’t write about everything, you’ll be shocked and amazed to hear (not). One of the dangers of our online lives is the way we curate them. We only tell part of the story – to protect ourselves or to shield others, to present ourselves as we want to be seen. But as we’ve lived so much more of our lives online of late, I’ve seen more of that part telling going on. I’ve done it myself. I’m more than the sum of my blogging and my Twitter feed. I am truthful online. But I don’t tell everyone everything. It’s only a glimpse of Vicarage life. So there are other stories here, but I’m sorry to say that they are staying here.

So tonight’s post is just me saying nothing much, because there’s nothing much that I can say from my small quiet life online and in the Vicarage. Thank you for listening in to me saying almost nothing though. Maybe I’ll find something a bit new hat tomorrow.

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Last year I blogged a few times last year about things that help me when I have a messy head. And I don’t think my head is any less messy twelve months on. Some situations have sorted themselves out, others rumble on, some are new, and rather larger than I was expecting to face – a global pandemic, for instance. So I continue using hacks that help – crochet and collects, being outside and time with Jesus, obvs. And I have a few others up my sleeve too.

When all is confused, I like to enjoy tales that end happily ever after. So I turn to stories that remind me of the best story of all time, where the hero kills the dragon and gets the girl, as Glen Scrivener puts it. Stories that remind me of the triumph of good over evil, of the reality that there will no longer be any curse.

Photo by Plato Terentev on Pexels.com

So in these recent months I’ve returned to Jane Austen, rereading through the whole collection (I’m sure that plenty of us would call Lady Catherine DeBurgh a dragon). But, for a change, I’ve listened to the stories on Spotify along with reading the books. And we’ve tuned to detective drama on Netflix. Nothing fancy, but stories with solutions. Today’s solution was in a series of Whitechapel. Where do you find satisfying story endings?

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Now it’s June, we’re into the preparing-for-camp season. My Facebook timeline is strewn with appeals for helpers for various ventures around the country, Rocky and Bee are busy confirming exactly who is coming from our youth group and making sure we have the funds, the Vicar has booked the minibus and now my thoughts are turning to the bookstall that I’ll be running again this year.

Last year I had lots of fun planning the stall and reviewed a few books in the process. We had 50 or so 11-14 year olds from a range of booky and non-booky backgrounds. That younger secondary school end covers a wide range of abilities and maturity. Some kids were from Christian homes, some didn’t come to church at all. So the bookstall aimed to cover a pretty wide base.

We got our bookstall from the always-obliging 10 of Those, who have just launched a special camp bookstall service which I’ll be using this year. If they don’t have the book you want on their website, they will get it for you.

Bibles – we had great value NIVs costing about £5 which went like hot cakes, but these will be more expensive this year because there’s a new translation out. So I’m not sure how many we’ll sell. This year we’ll be studying Mark’s gospel at camp so I’m going to stock them – and they will be affordable, even if whole bibles are too pricey.

Bible reading notes – I stocked XTB (for 7-11s0, Discover (11s-14s) and Engage (14s-18s). They didn’t sell all that well.

Bible guide – We sold a good few copies of the YP’s Guide to the Bible – it only cost £2.50 and was affordable and interesting to look at.

Boring Bible series and 50 Weirdest/Goriest/Wildest Bible Stories (and similar by Andy Robb) – these cost £4.50 and are undated bible devotions. They were very popular and I’ll be stocking up this year.

For Girls Only & No Girls Allowed – These gendered devotional books sold well – I stocked a couple of each, but could have sold more. These are a little more expensive – around £8.

Grill a Christian – We sold this book at £2 – it’s packed with apologetics. Very popular with older Pathfinders (and with folk at church where I sold off some spare copies after camp).

The Case for Christ (Youth Edition), Case for Faith for Kids, Case for Christ for Kids – these sold well too.

Deadly Emily by Kathy Lee – I was very encouraged to sell this book to a couple of girls who aren’t great readers. I will be stocking more fiction for those who find non-fiction (even biographies) a bit heavy going. I am increasingly convinced that teenagers and preteens who love to read stories (like the Queen) should be reading stories with a Christian worldview. You can tell the truth in fiction.

Trailblazer biographies – we sold a bunch of these shortish books at £3. They are biographies and we stocked a variety, including ones of John Newton, Joni Eareckson Tada, Mary Slessor, Amy Carmichael etc. There are lots of these, including a new Eric Liddell one, which will be on our stall for our Olympic theme this year.

Lightkeepers (Ten Girls/Ten Boys series) – these are also short biography books. They also sold well at £3.

Sneaking Suspicion, If I were God I’d… (by John Dickson) – We sold these to some of the older teenage boys.

School Survival – An excellent book on school life.

Peril and Peace – we sold this book of church history to an older Pathfinder who was looking for something stretching. This is one of a series of 5 Chronicles of the Ancient Church.

We sold a few booklets like: Why did Jesus Die? Why did Jesus Come? Why did Jesus Rise? How do I know I’m a Christian? How do I show I’m a Christian? These were only 20p so a few kids picked them up.

I also bunged a few books on the stall for leaders – including the excellent Enough by Helen Roseveare.

 Later I’ll post a list of some new books I’m planning to stock this year. Both 10ofthose and The Good Book Company have published books for younger teens this year.

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Last week I blogged about some poetry books that I like to read with my own kids, and with the schoolchildren that I spend time reading with each week. The other resource that I use every week at school and that my gang at home have loved are a series of short stories, two in each book which come in a series as ‘A Pair of Jacks’.

There are four books in the series, written by Michael Lawrence and illustrated by Tony Ross. Each story is about 60 pages long, with large print and good pictures. What makes them great for readers all through Key Stage 2 (the Juniors to those of us who went to school before the National Curriculum) is that although there are not many words, there is much rich vocabulary and lots of fun with literary form in just a few pages.

Fiction-averse boys have enjoyed these stories as much as the girls – they are clever and humourous. They often play around with classic stories – the first one in the book shown above is called ‘Jack and the Broomstick‘ and is a parody of Jack and the Beanstalk – great for more able kids to think about how the original story has been subverted, but simple enough for the less able to enjoy aswell. This week I was reading from Jack-in-the-Box with a few of the children and we were discussing the meaning of ‘console’, ‘magnanimous’ and ‘ingrate’ as well as the frequency of orphan stories in children’s literature.

I’m planning a bit of a Jack-fest this half term with my kids – I’m going to see how receptive they are to guided reading with Mummy. Wish me luck – it’ll not be the books that are the problem if it goes wrong…

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