20 December 2008

chocolate nativity

The Girls Brigade leaders in church decided that instead of buying presents for all the girls and wrapping them, that they would have Thorntons come with a whole pile of advent calendars and lots of icing filled piping bags. I was able to make one myself and was so thankful my name is so short!

It was real hard for some girls with longer names like Christine or Danielle or Rebecca trying to fit their names on. But it was so much fun and the girls all enjoyed it.

I've had fun opening my advent calendar this year, it's been the first year in a while that I've had one.

The first few days started off with chocolate stars and trees and crackers but the last few days have had kings with gifts, shepherds, angels and now today the nativity scene....

It excited me to see that the birth of Jesus hasn't been completely forgotten by a commercial chain store like Thortons. I couldn't help but say a prayer for everyone else opening their Thorntons advent calendar today that the chocolate treat would be a little reminder to them of the reason for the season too.

15 December 2008

Christmas No. 1

I'm so "uncool" according to my youth group cos I don't watch shows like Strictly Come Dancing or I'm a Celebrity or even worse.... X Factor!!!!! It makes me the weirdest person ever apparently, but hey I'm not that worried - I kinda suspected it.

X factor just annoys me to be honest. I like hearing people sing and do it well, but I get a bit fed up watching the same people every week and in the end whoever wins gets fame and fortune handed to them on a plate. I just think it's a little unfair given that so many have worked hard to get where they are but it's no newsflash that life ain't fair.

What really annoys me is that every year the winner releases their first single the week before Christmas and are pretty much guaranteed a Christmas No 1. When I was growing up I used to have fun trying to guess who it might be and often bought a single that week trying to help my favourite to number 1. Now though X Factor has taken the fun out of all that given that the past 3 years has been an X Factor winner and now it looks like Alexandra will be number one with her cover of 'Hallelujah' which isn't a great version of the song really.

So now I guess all the fun is guessing who'll be number 2.....

12 December 2008


Part of what I enjoy in my job as a youth and family worker is that I get to know parents and through them I get to know their kids better too. This past few weeks have been enlightening in lots of ways as I've spoke to several parents and ended up in conversations about what their kids did when they were little. I love it, it fascinates me how parents recall certain events and when they retell them they seem to become more animated and excited. However, with hearing all these stories I'm learning one of the darker sides of parenthood - storing up embarrassing stories about your kids. I wasn't completely unaware of it, sure I have parents too who liked to embarrass me by recalling the stupid/weird/crazy/mortifying things I've done, but I was a little surprised at the lengths some of these parents have gone to in keeping evidence of some of these embarrassing things. Photos, videos, diaries, the items involved in these stories etc all stored in little safe places that the kids don't know about (or at least they hope they don't know about). What's more is that they use these stories as ammo in order to get their kids to do something or even not do something..... it's scary the power people can have over each other.

10 December 2008

the real x factor

I want to tell you about 'J'. I first met J in September 2008, I can't remember where we were exactly when we met (though it was bound to be somewhere at church), or what was said but I remember being struck by his generosity and his concern for others, but most of all how alive his faith in Jesus was. As the years have gone on I have heard many many stories about J, stories of how he has gone out of his way to care for others, how he has welcomed people to our church with such great warmth and sincerity which has led them to join our church, stories of his patience in many circumstances, stories of how he has led others to care for various groups of people too and stories of how his relationship with Jesus has led others to faith too.

I have visited with J and his wife M quite a bit and everytime I have they sing each others praises - "he's one in a million", "she's my precious wife". It's refreshing to see a couple expressing their love and admiration for one another instead of complaining about how "my husband doesn't do this" "my wife doesn't care about that", J and M can't help but show how much they love each other and weren't afraid to tell others. This has been a real lesson and example to me because in the time I have known them I have gone from being a singleton to being part of a marriage myself. I learnt from them how to respect and honour your spouse, to speak words of love and how to strengthen a marriage.

A year and a half ago J was taken into hospital. It shocked so many in our church because J was extremely fit and able for being in his 90s. He was always more involved in things than the average person, he always stood at the door to the church on a Sunday morning welcoming people in whether his name was on the rota or not and he came to any and every event he had time for. I remember praying that if ever I get to be his age that I'd be of similar health and able to do all he was able to do too - a selfish prayer, definitely not characteristic of J.

His health improved enough for him to be at home again, however a week ago he was taken back into hospital after not feeling too great and then on Wednesday he passed away. I thought I had already heard such incredible amazing stories about J while he was alive but since his death I have been in such awe of the wonderful incredible man he was. He was humble, patient, kind, generous, caring, genuine and most importantly a true man of God, an inspiration and example to us all.

J had the real X factor in his life - Jesus - and it was evident to all he met and has impacted on them in ways they probably never expected to be impacted. I can't help but think that as amazing as J was and is, how much more amazing is Jesus for J to have followed and served Jesus all his life?

I miss J a lot and have been fighting back tears when I talk to people about him, but I praise God for J and being able to know him for the little while that I did. I'm thankful and excited to think that J is now in heaven amongst Abraham, Moses, David and all those other great witnesses in the Bible and that they're all cheering us on to reach that goal too.

I'm thankful for J, for the life he lived, the love he shown and the example he shared. I hope and pray people will see the x factor in my life too.