Sunday, 21 October 2018

In A Nutshell

This was one of the banners which was hung in church the other week for Harvest Thanksgiving

It reminded me of this lady - Julian of Norwich. She was a mystic, and an anchorite, born around 1342, and living nearly 80 years in what was then England's second city.
I really must find out more about her. Her 1395 treatise called  'Revelations Of Divine Love' was the first book written in English by a woman.' In paintings she is usually depicted holding a hazelnut, having written these words
. . the Spirit showed me a tiny thing the size of a hazelnut, as round as a ball and so small I could hold it in the palm of my hand. I looked at it in my mind’s eye and wondered, “What is this?” The answer came to me: “This is everything that has been made. This is all Creation.” It was so small that I marvelled it could endure; such a tiny thing seemed likely to simply fall into nothingness. Again the answer came to my thoughts: “It lasts and it will always last because God loves it.” Everything—all that exists —draws its being from God’s love.

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Where Have All The Bloggers Gone...?

I've been blogging for almost 11 years- and reading blogs for a little longer than that. I have noticed that many of the blogs that were out there when I started have completely disappeared, and others have become more sporadic. Just recently someone commented on the fact that many of their 'old favourites' have 'gone dark' too.
I guess that our lives change and circumstances change, and for many people it becomes impossible to sustain a blog.
The 'monetised' ones, where people either get paid for the adverts they carry, and the 'business' ones, where bloggers are selling their crafts [or the patterns for replicating them] seem to survive. But many of the 'single-theme' ones go to the wall. And the 'I'm a Mum and this is how I'm coping with my kids' often dry up when the aforementioned kids grow older and wisely declare that they do not want Mum sharing all their secrets with the outside world. 
And if your blog is "My year of...dieting/renovating the barn/planning my perfect wedding/cooking all the recipes in Julia's book/getting out of debt/living biblically" then it inevitably has a time limit. It does seem that many of these ones end up with a successful book or film or speaking career. 
Sadly my blog has yet to be snapped up by a publisher. I am sure that's due to its weirdly eclectic nature. It's about....anything and everything - my crazily random everyday life which is underpinned by the grace of God. 
I have recently pruned my reading list - cutting out the blogs where no posts have appeared since 2017, or where the posts are increasingly repetitive. The list has got much shorter. I have not really added many new blogs of late either.
I thought I'd found a new one which promised me tips on preparing a Brexit Food Box and austerity in general. Then I read [I am not kidding you] the first item on the food list was Canned Lobster Bisque - and that I could save money on decorating by using Farrow&Ball paint on the 'feature wall' only, not the entire room. I read right through earlier posts- and realised this was not a spoof, but the author's genuine attempt to help us survive the expected economic exigencies. She's republished her blog in book format too  - that said, many of the online reviewers were pretty scathing. I shall save my money and not purchase it. [why would anyone buy it anyway, when the blog is still there for all to read for nothing?]
But many of the blogs I discovered back in the early days are still out there - and the writers have actually become 'offblog-friends' - so we exchange emails and cards and sometimes even meet in person. We've upped sticks and moved house, shared through the joy of new babies and the tears of bereavement together. You know who you are! 
I know that lots of you who read this blog also read this one. Today our good friend Sarah is getting married in her little chapel in the Fens.  I have no idea if she'll have time to continue blogging when she is loving up there in the frozen north - but I want to thank Sarah for her friendship and her lovely blog. I wish her and David every happiness in the years ahead. May God bless them both with love, life and laughter.

Just spotted a typo - I put loving instead of living. Either word will do! 

Friday, 19 October 2018

Finding Time

Finding Time in the sense of 'finding time to get things done properly' and in the sense of 'A time for finding things'. On Sunday a friend asked if I had anything suitable to lend her daughter who has a Victorian day at school coming up soon. "Yes" I said brightly "I have a Victorian style dress, apron and mob cap in my costumes box in the loft, she's welcome to borrow that - when do you need it?" - it transpired that the date was 29th - the end of our holiday at Cornerstones. I'll said I'd deliver it before half term
So I clambered up the ladder last Sunday after lunch - and could I find it? No...nowhere. At odd moments all week I have hunted up there again [it's jolly cold now!] and looked in the top of the wardrobes, and the drawers under the spare bed.... "If it gets to Thursday night, I shall have to find time to make something".  Bob pointed out that Jack's Mother's Costume was long dress/apron/mob cap, so perhaps I could let her use that for one day?
"I'll keep checking, and decide Thursday afternoon" I said.
I continued rushing about. On Wednesday I was going out, and felt I wanted to freshen my mouth which tasted of coffee. I grabbed the bottle of blue mouthwash, poured a capful and started swishing [slowly and purposely as per the dentist's instructions] I was dismayed to find my mouth tasted vile. I'd picked up the Savlon by mistake - and it doesn't leave your mouth minty fresh!
Then on Thursday, I had a partial day of work- as an assistant in a Day Nursery. I didn't need to leave till 10am. I suddenly remembered there was a box of costumes at the back of the understairs cupboard. Oh joy! I found the Victorian outfit.
But also I found something I thought I had lost in the move here...when we did the Joseph theme at Kids' Club, Bob reminded me I'd made a coat-of-many-colours [in 2001] We couldn't find it, and concluded it must have been left hanging on the door of the Minister's Loo in the Kirby Muxloe Vestry!
But it was there in the bottom of the box and at 9am yesterday I pulled it out and cheered. Not just because I had found it - but because there is a character in the play called Aloha, a Market Trader. I'd been asked to make him  "A very colourful robe, which he can flash open, and have all sorts of dubious merchandise pinned to the inside lining.
I realised it won't take much tweaking to turn this old technicolor dream coat into the spiv's outfit.
But time was pressing and I had to leave for work. Could I find my car keys? After a frantic five minutes [I know I had them earlier....] I took the 'emergency' set instead.
The Nursery was lovely. Best conversation of the day was with a three year old boy
"What's your favourite gamer"
"I like playing teenagers"
"Why - what is it that teenagers do?"
"They fight"
"Is that a good thing, to fight, do you think?"
"Oh yes, they go out and fight the bad guys"
I checked with a Staff Member- she says he is obsessed with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He thinks that to be a teenager means to be a turtle and to battle petty criminals in the New York sewers!
I left the Nursery at 4.15 with a smile on my face - and put my hand in my coat pocket for a hankie...and found my 'regular' set of house keys. I'd had them with me all along!

Thursday, 18 October 2018

A Free Kick For The Germans

This is Stalham Baptist Church- a large Victorian chapel in North Norfolk. I have been there a few times- most memorably in 1970, when a group of us from the Girls' Brigade camped in the church hall for a week. 
Two particular incidents back then - there was a clock high on the wall of the hall - it ticked loudly and chimed every hour, and we found it hard to sleep. One of the officers rectified this, by poking a broom handle up inside it. Then she panicked on the Sunday morning, as she struggled to get it going again before the worshippers arrived [and failed] The second thing was that we were supposed to take it in turns to prepare meals in order to get our cooking badge. I made a pink milk jelly for dessert, to be served with tinned peaches [so ambitious]. After three days, it had still not set. I didn't get my badge that week!
I'm happy to say that this church is home to a thriving congregation and doing lots of good stuff in their corner of my favourite county. They even have a football team, which is doing very well in the local league.
But I didn't expect to see the church, and these guys mentioned on the BBC News Webpage recently. It appears that a German gentleman, Thomas Selinger was taking a walk along the sand on Baltrum Island- a small island off the coast of Germany 250 miles from Stalham. And Mr S spotted a football.
It was labelled Stalham Baptist Church. Mr S kicked the ball around for a while, then gave it to some boys who were playing on the beach.
Then when he got home, he felt curious about the ball - and searched the internet and located SBC. 
Yes it was one of the team footballs- but they have no idea how it got to Germany. They suspect someone may have borrowed it for a game of beach football in Norfolk- and lost it in the sea.
I hope the German lads enjoy playing with it. I do enjoy stories of lost things re-appearing in random locations.
Have you any good stories of lost things being reconnected to their owners?

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Daily Bread - In More Ways Than One!

Bob and I went with Mim our Youth Minister, to Sandown Park Racecourse- for our annual trip to the Christian Resources Exhibition. As usual we had great fun, met some lovely people and discovered all sorts of resources of every kind.
This year I am just going to mention three things
[1] My lunchtime sandwich. All the sarnies were the same price, ranging from the egg-and-cress [ugh] through the usuals [BLT etc] to more fancy items [salmon and cream cheese]
But mine was amazing - I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed my Cranks "Argi Bhaji" - onion bhaji, mango chutney, cucumber and a minty yogurt dressing, in a delicious nutty brown bread. Mass catering sandwiches are often so dull, with mean amounts of filling, and little flavour. This was splendid!
[2] The Bible Society's latest publication - "Good News Bible - the Youth Edition"  I'd read about it, and been sent an extract in my mailing- but was thrilled to see it and hold a copy [and chat to the lovely young graphic designer who'd done work on it. I think this is excellent. Definitely worth considering as a Christmas gift for teenagers who are exploring questions of faith. It is bright, contemporary, and put together with input from the young people themselves. The Bread of Life for the burger generation
I love the stuff produced by the Bible Society. I was talking to the guys on the stand who were promoting the Bible Course [we are now halfway through at UCF] and enthusing about it. One of them asked if I'd like to join them on the stand to promote it to the other CRE visitors!
[3] Generous exhibitors. Nadia had said last week that when they get to Romania with the shoeboxes, they will take lots of them into the schools. She thought it would be good to take little 'goodie bags' for the teachers too - and so could I please blag her some freebies [toiletries etc] from the shopping centre. So last Wednesday I went up to the perfume counters and came away with about 50 samples of perfume [including man-scent!] Today I went to every stand which had a pot of promotional pens and asked straight out if I could have a pen for a Romanian teacher, please?
I came away with two dozen ballpoint pens, two fancy highlighters, and ten mini bars of soap! Thank you to all the exhibitors who were so generous! A cheap pen costs pence, but to a Romanian teacher with limited resources, it will prove really useful! 
What a lovely day out!

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Gabriel Oak Meets The Mad Hatter

Yes, I am making more costumes...this time for the local First School's Autumn production. It is a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk, called "Fee Fie Fo Fum". There are two farmers in the cast. This is Dorset so I decided they should be in proper agricultural smocks.
I dug out my Alice Armes book, and made a simple pattern using squares and rectangles. One single fitted sheet made the two smocks.
Authenticity is not essential for a short production - so I skipped doing the actual smocking stitches, and just used a contrast thread and fancy machine stitches. From a distance it looks fine. But what about the hats? I had two straw cowboy stetsons. But they looked more Wild West USA than South West UK
I stacked up some mixing bowls, with an enamel one on top. Then I used a steam iron to flatten the top and sides and make them more rounded. Note the black  oven glove on the stool - it is really important to protect your hands from steam and hot metal when doing millinery! Having steamed them to shape, I trimmed the brims to make them a better shape.
Here are my two smocks and hats ready for the farmers to go a-ploughing. All I need are a couple of bright neckerchiefs and that's two more costumes crossed off the list

Monday, 15 October 2018

To Be A Pilgrim

Who would true valour see,
Let him come hither;
One here will constant be,
Come wind, come weather
There’s no discouragement
Shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent
To be a pilgrim.
Oh the bizarre life of the Pastor's Wife! On Wednesday a boz was delivered to UCF - containing Paddington Bear, who is on a pilgrimage around the churches of the Wessex Synod [our church is joint Baptist/URC so we get included]
He brought his diary and itinerary with him. I tell you, this visitation was worse than the weekend with Rosie's Nursery Bear! If there's an ecclesiastical equivalent of oneupmanship [oneupchurchship?] this is it!** In the previous two dozen stops, the bear was pictured at a funeral, a christening, Christmas specials, a choir event...His duffle coat was festooned with badges. We decided he could just tag along to things and we'd snap a picture or two.
He attended- Tiddlers' Group, HomeGroup [Bible Study - Book of Judges] OAP Lunch Club, Friday Youth Clubs, and Sunday Worship. He investigated the Ferndown Big Questions, stood on a pile of shoeboxes destined for Romania, and inspected cake,trifle and tuckshop. It was a good thing he had wellies, Suinday was exceptionally wet!
I dutifully wrote up his daily diary. I did wonder about making him some pyjamas - some hosts have pictured him sat in bed, fully dressed! But as his hat and suitcase are firmly stitched in place, I decided against it.
Pilgrims in the old days used to sew a scallop shell to their hats. Instead I opted for stitching one of the Walking The Way footprints to the Bear's headgear.
And now he has gone to Three Legged Cross*** - and supposedly to forty other churches before Easter. 
The aim of the exercise is to encourage churches to think about Missional Discipleship - I'm happy to report that UCF already has mission and discipleship high on the agenda - so I hope the bear was happy with what he observed!
**I don't think anyone else has blogged about him yet
*** yes, that really is a place in Dorset