Coffee and Colouring

Tuesday was our Coffee and Colouring morning.

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We love our tinies and their wonderful parents and like to do something good to help them through a rainy half term break.

We have laid out our toddler height tables and miniature chairs, our cut and colour activities. We have glue sticks and round ended scissors, tissue paper, split pins and paper plates. We have tuppawares full of crayola crayons and brand new felt tip pens in paper coffee cups, rolls and rolls of cellotape, blu-tac and coloured card. We have borrowed the smallest plastic slide from the toddler group store and set it up with a rug and a crate of toys. All the cakes are homemade with butter, full fat milk and dark dark chocolate. We cut the brownies in perfect triangles, lay them out on doilies, next to cupcakes with white frosting swirls, pink and purple sprinkles. There are flasks of coffee and jugs of juice. All the toddler cups have sippy lids, the milk is chilled and the mugs are big enough for a proper drink of tea.

Our first guests arrive and rows of prams are parked up by the door. There are welcomes and smiles, introductions and names exchanged. Some of these mums have done more to get out this morning than a grown professional man will do in a whole week at the office.

My own children and their friends, now grown, help at the tables, with difficult cutting out and kind words, for every little-child likes a big-child friend. When a colouring activity is complete a little exclamation of praise erupts like an applause, tiny certificates and stickers are given out and little ones run to show and tell. And all our children shine! Everyone of them from your youngest to my oldest!

Because you gave them breakfasts and wiped their runny noses, dressed them and found enough coats and shoes to make it into the car, we would like you to sit at a table free from crusts and smears of jam. We would like to help you have a cup of tea in peace and you don’t have to wash your own cup.

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We made it through the supermarket tantrums, picky-eating, double-buggy days and here on the other side we know our worth. We know our worth and we know it is worth it, every terrible joy-laden, heart-wrenching scrap of it, every tissue, every baby wipe, the nights of lost sleep and the hard to maintain disciplines, the never ending star-charts and lost library books, the spilt drinks and leaking nappies, the days when the washing pile could not throw up enough socks and pants to get us through another day and we’re drying items of school uniform with a hair dryer already late for the bus. It was all worth it and it will all be worth it, the carefully prepared dinners that no one would eat, when cough followed cold and the teething tears never dried up, good intentions, failures and successes, every bad-mum moment you ever had.

This morning we would like to say a ‘thank you’ to our communities’ mums, and to the dads too.

We are thankful for all you do. You are worth it, it is worth it.

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If you couldn’t make it to Coffee and Colouring yesterday, please feel free to download our happy ladybird PDF cut and colour craft to use at home. Open the link and click on the word ‘ladybird’.

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Something lovely for the Bank Holiday

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.

Philippians 1.21, 9-11

Like children

What a holy moment on Sunday.

A holy moment when Jan came leading the children with their ribbons and their praise.

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Right up to the front of the meeting place where the preacher stands, and the musicians play. Child-like yet unabashed, taking the platform of the wise, where leaders lead and prophets proclaim, where revelation is uncovered and the prayer line is formed, the smallest children danced and laughed for the longest, loveliest time.  And all their clumsy little arms and legs were bumping and tripping, the ribbons were tangled and the bossy toddlers shoved the only-just-standing-up babies until they shrieked and a whole muddle of anxious mums and dads came running to the front to rescue their jubilant tinies.

In the front were the singers, and then the musicians, and behind them the children with the florescent rainbow ribbons and the big, big, smiles.

And God arose, and his enemies were scattered.

Kings and armies fled in haste.

The Lord announced his word and the children proclaimed it.

Psalm 68 (my paraphrasing)

The children proclaimed it and they told us grown-ups, ‘Come!’ and out we came from hiding places, safe places, clefts and caves. The scared and the lonely, the wounded and the timid, out in the open, vulnerable but free.  Hard hearts made soft by the pummeling of tiny dancing feet and the clapping of patter-cake hands. We allowed our expectations to be frustrated and we abandoned our preconceived ideas. Singing and dancing like children we came, waving flags, clumsy, foolish grown ups, humbled and  unashamed. We came with our mustard seed faith and our small, small love and we came remembering  Jesus who said,

Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

Matthew 18.3-5

kids ribbons

Spring

By Gerard Manley Hopkins

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Nothing is so beautiful as Spring –
   When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
   Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
   The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
   The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.
What is all this juice and all this joy?
   A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden. – Have, get, before it cloy,
   Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
   Most, O maid’s child, thy choice and worthy the winning.

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For Cathie, who reminded me of this beautiful poem this morning, thank you.

 

Sometimes giving up is not failure

I am recovering from three weeks of ill-in-bed. But this week I’m trying back-to-work-as-usual. This week I’m determined.

I went into school this morning and took a breakfast revision class. It was worth it, the kids have worked so hard and I like them so much. They needed to see their regular teacher on the morning before an important exam and I liked seeing them. Hard working, sweet kids. I took them some orange juice and donuts and Danish pastries.

I had thirty PowerPoint slides on ‘maximising your marks’. These are all my top tips on how to do extremely well in a Religious Studies exam: a Bible quote you can use to pep up almost any answer, five responses a religious believer is almost bound to make to any given situation, what to do if you are asked your opinion and you just don’t have one etc. etc.

I was finished by 9.15 and off to my church job. Work really shouldn’t be this much fun. I love my job! Today it was time spent with people I love and their tinies. God at work in people’s lives and I get to join in. Coffee, lunch, chatting, laughing, some sadness and struggles, lots of joy. I got home and I was TIRED. Dog tired and nearly asleep. So I texted Andy,

‘Day going well but feeling I can’t go on without a nap. Shall I resist or surrender?”

 

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The to-do list said ‘press on ‘ but my body said ‘sleep’. I am conscience driven (guilty conscience driven?): letters to write, phone calls to make, praying, reading, planning, organising, meals, housework, kids. No time to rest. Keep going.

But does success always look like an obstacle overcome, a pain threshold raised, a new strategy implemented, smarter and harder, the extra mile? Is success forever saying, ‘Knock me down and I’ll get up again. Discouragement only serve to make me stronger’. What if you knocked me down and I just didn’t get up? What if I fell and just lay there, forever. What if following one discouragement after another I just threw in the towel and walked away never to return?

  • Sometimes giving up is not a failure. Sometimes giving up is a success in disguise
  • Sometimes giving up is the full stop that gives pause for the new sentence to be written
  • Sometimes giving up is the sleep at the end of a long night of tears and when you wake the next day you wake to joy
  • Sometimes giving up is curtains to something that has been plain bad
  • Sometimes a thing gets too hard (like staying awake) and its just time to quit (have a sleep)

So I had a nap. It was GOOD.

And I’d like to thank Jen Hatmaker who said,

“Girl, sometimes the juice just ain’t worth the squeeze”

And I’m going to be learning a little bit more about saying ‘No’ to things that drain and ‘yes’ to things at give life. I’m going to work my hardest, persevere, go above and beyond whilst the battles on, but when the battles over (or over for me) walk away without looking back.

And how will I know when to stay and when to go? In the words of Jen Hatmaker,

What is the tipping point? There is no formula here and I can’t give one. This requires honest self-evaluation, safe and wise counselors, the close leadership of the Holy Spirit, a sobering assessment of reality. Ask, “Is the juice worth the squeeze here?” and sometimes it is. You might discover signs of life and possibility rising up through the efforts, or the task at hand is simply too worthy to abandon, regardless. There may be necessary work left to do, and it’s too soon to assess. Or maybe the Spirit holds you in place for unclear reasons, which you may or may not ever know, but you will find peace in obedience and continue to listen for marching orders.

And now I thinking there might be some other dilemmas where habit is telling me push on but it might be better to just walk away.

Jen Hatmaker blogs at, http://jenhatmaker.com/blog.htm

Choc-chip banana muffins

I must be feeling better.

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I caught sight of two weary past-the-sell-by-date bananas in the fruit bowl at lunch time and before I even realised what I was doing I’d turned up the oven and was reaching for my sieve.

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Last week’s muffin post was my most popular post in the history of this little blog.

I especially enjoyed hearing from friends who had made the muffins with success. So here is another muffin recipe: really just an adaptation of last weeks recipe. You get a choice, choc-chip or double chocolate, which ever takes your fancy. To ensure superior results, my best suggestion is that you use the best chocolate and the best cocoa you can find. The bananas should be ripe to the point of rotting.

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Choc-chip banana muffins

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Ingredients

9oz/250g SR flour

4-5oz/100-150g castor sugar

1 heaped teaspoon baking powder

2-4 mashed bananas

4oz/100g dark chocolate cut into small chunks

4-5fl oz/100-150ml  milk or butter milk

3oz/75g melted butter

teaspoon of vanilla essence

2 eggs

Preheat the oven, 160 or gas mark 3

Combine all the dry ingredients, including the chopped chocolate, in a bowl

Lightly beat the eggs then, combine all the wet ingredients, including the mashed banana, in a second bowl

Combine the dry and the wet ingredients, being careful not to mix them too thoroughly

Divide the mixture between 12 muffin cases in a muffin pan

Bake until the muffins are well risen and lightly browned, 20-25 minutes

Cool on a wire tray

Double chocolate banana muffins

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Ingredients

9oz/250g SR flour minus 3 table spoons (heaped)

3 tablespoons of cocoa powder (heaped)

2-4 mashed bananas

4oz/100g dark chocolate cut into small chunks

4-5oz/100-150g castor sugar

1 heaped teaspoon baking powder

4-5fl oz/100-150ml  milk or butter milk

3oz/75g melted butter

2 eggs

1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

Preheat the oven, 160 or gas mark 3

After you have weighed out the flour, spoon three heaped tablespoons back into the bag and replace them with three heaped tablespoons of cocoa powder

Combine all the dry ingredients,including the chopped chocolate, in a bowl

Lightly beat the eggs then, combine all the wet ingredients, including the mashed banana, in a second bowl

Combine the dry and the wet ingredients, being careful not to mix them too thoroughly

Divide the mixture between 12 muffin cases in a muffin pan

Bake until the muffins are well risen, 20-25 minutes

Cool on a wire tray