Thursday, 1 January 2015

Christmas decorations

Some years ago we made Advent ornaments, based on the Jesse tree idea which follows the story of Jesus, out of playdough.

Here is a good recipe:
4 cups of flour
◊ 1 cup of salt
◊ 1-1/2 cups of hot water

Bake in a microwave.  Using a microwave-safe plate (not paper or cardboard), microwave a plate of ornaments for 1 to 4 minutes, increasing the time by 1 minute increments and keeping a close eye on the microwave as the ornaments bake. Microwave power levels differ, so use high power in a less-powerful oven, but lower if your oven heats things very quickly.

There is another lovely idea: making boxes out of Christmas cards.

And then wonderful paper snowflakes:

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Personalised art and cards websites

Becoming more interested in creative crafts. Here are some web references.

Alice's Art and Crafts.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Notes for organising and leading a Quiet Morning

I wrote this a while ago, words and plans while contemplating our quiet morning in June 2013

Just seen these hugely creative and exciting ideas for praying with children at flamecreativekids.  Soooo excited!  Want to try them in school, in home group, ..... no limit!

Programme for the day: Welcome:

Listening to God: God's voice, Satan's voice.

Theme: Love God, love your neighbour
            Love God: Relationship with God - train journey cartoon - identify self at different life stages. Where am I now? Where would I like to be?

Do you need to forgive yourself?

"Today I will remember that my failure to forgive myself is a prideful choice to not receive your grace.

If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone. The new is here! — 2 Corinthians 5:17

What can we learn about forgiveness from one of the greatest saints in Christian history, who began as one of its greatest persecutors—Saul of Tarsus, who became Paul the apostle? We read in Acts 8:3 that, “As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.” It was Saul’s intent to destroy the church—until, as he traveled the road to Damascus to continue his murderous work there, he met the living Christ.

“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” was Jesus’ very direct question (Acts 9:4), and that question made no sense. As far as Saul was concerned, he wasn't persecuting God but was defending true Judaism. Imagine the shock as Saul recognized his actions for what they were: his misguided killings, the ripple effect on devastated families, and his affront to the Lord of the universe. Imagine the struggle to receive God’s forgiveness and to forgive himself . . . .

Paul did receive God’s forgiveness and went on to preach powerful sermons—teachings we still read today—about the gift of forgiveness available to all because of Jesus’ death on the cross. This forgiveness is a powerful weapon that overcomes the evil in this world and brings healing to our wounded souls, but we must reach out and accept it.

To say that we don’t deserve forgiveness is to make our sin more powerful than the blood of Christ. And since God forgives us, we must forgive ourselves.

When we refuse, we have made the court of our opinion more powerful than the court of our holy and just God. It must seriously wound the heart of our Father when we will not accept the gift he has given us, the gift of forgiveness that cost him so dearly. After all, our sin was covered by the lifeblood of the Lamb.

Prayer for forgiveness:

God of the impossible, you got the attention of murderous Saul, changed his heart, and made him a powerful voice for your gospel truth. You also got my attention, and I thank you for the grace of being able to acknowledge Jesus as my Savior and Lord and you as my Father. I ask for the grace to live in the freedom of your forgiveness and love.

Your turn:

What impact does the account of Paul’s conversion have on your understanding of forgiveness? Explain why our inability to forgive ourselves reflects an attitude of pride.

* * *

Leave a comment about this devotional or answer Sheila Walsh's questions on our blog"

            Love your neighbour: Relationship with others. How do we nurture our relationships? Why do relationship problems happen? Do you know why you don't get on with this or that person? What could you do about it? Are you a stuffer or an exploder?  (Lysa Terkeust Unglued) Forgiveness - what's stopping you? Carefronting.  Repent of unforgiveness. Reject false guilt - listen to God's voice, not Satan's voice (small picture resource)
'Envelope' exercise - Jesus inside me inside Jesus inside God

Philippians 2:5-8 New International Version
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

From Tricia Goyer via Good Morning Girls
"Many of us don’t understand what forgiveness is all about. It’s not forgetting or dismissing the impact of a wrong. It’s choosing not to let that wrong dominate the future of your life and relationships. Forgiveness is “giving” the infraction to God. It’s as if we’re saying, “Here You go, Father; this is no longer my concern. Please take care of the matter in Your wisdom and according to Your will.”
The price of forgiveness is letting go of the need to receive an apology or repayment for a wrong. If you hold on to either as a precondition of forgiveness, you’ll never have an unhindered heart.
You may understand all this, but inside you still may be fighting it: “I know it’s what I’m supposed to do, but I can’t do it in my own strength.” The good news is God doesn’t ask you to. Instead, He asks that you simply share your desire to forgive, and surrender to Him your unwillingness to forgive.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10)
What happens when we ask God to make forgiveness possible in us? The reward is a heart freed of bitterness. There is also the potential of restored relationship and new hope and joy for the future! What could be better than that?
In the encouraging words sent to me recently by a friend, “The one who apologizes first is the bravest. The one who forgives first is the strongest. The one who forgets first is the happiest.”
There is never a good reason to forfeit peace and freedom to an unforgiving heart. Will you turn to God today to help you be a brave, strong, and happy family leader? He wants nothing more than that."
Arrive 9.15
Start 9.30 15 minute introduction: 9.45 - 10.45 quiet time alone
10.45 - 11. 15 coffee
11.15 - 11.30 15 minute talk 11.30 - 12.30 quiet time alone
12.30 feedback and worship/prayer?
12.45 depart

Talking - only at coffee time!

However, if you find that you don't want to stop your quiet time, don't feel you have to stick to the schedule - especially after our second session when we close. You are free to take the rest of the day to suit yourself - the coffee shop is open for lunch.


FIRST, Martha and Mary. from Jen at Good Morning Girls on April 5th, studying Luke 10:

"I am an introvert through and through. Meeting new people is torture, I get cold sweats, my mind goes blank and I can barely remember my own name let alone hold a conversation. Having people over for dinner takes my people phobia to another level. Anxiety kicks in and I spend hours cleaning and preparing so that everything is “just so” when my guests arrive. If I had it my way I would spend my time serving my guests and then spend the rest of the evening cleaning up the kitchen instead of making conversation. But, what I am learning is that nobody cares if the house is in perfect order and that the point of hanging out with friends is to share life together. To talk about things that are going on in each others lives, to encourage and pray together. It’s about having fellowship. So when we come to the well known and well loved story of Mary and Martha I can understand Martha’s concerns. Let’s start at the beginning.

Jesus came to Bethany, visiting the house of Mary and Martha. Martha was hospitable, inviting Jesus and his followers into her home and immediately she gets to work preparing a great meal. Contrary to what some might believe, Mary did not shirk all of her kitchen duties, but after helping Martha for a while Mary boldly joined the men and, sitting at the feet of Jesus, listened to his teaching.

In the days of Jesus a home was divided into different domains. The “kitchen” was the domain of the women while the area where people ate and hung out was the domain of the men. Men and women, typically, did not hang out together.

As you can imagine, Martha gets a bit annoyed. First of all, Mary has left her to serve alone. Second, Mary sat with the men. And third, she scandalously took the posture of a disciple which, culturally, was set apart for men only. In Martha’s eyes these are three big no-no’s.

It is at this point that Jesus speaks. After hearing Martha vent, Jesus speaks words of correction. He did not rebuke her for being domestic. Actually we can commend Martha for the care she shows regarding her household affairs and for the respect she shows her guests by wanting everything to be done well. But it is these good things that distract and overwhelm her.

“But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42).

Jesus loves Martha and he kindly and gently shows her that while the things she has been doing are good, there is something even better. Something that is of much more eternal valuable than preparing a Martha Stewart worthy meal.

Mary realized this. She wasn’t lazy or uncaring. Jesus never rebuked Mary for leaving her sister. Most likely she helped prepare the meal and everything else that was necessary. But she then chose to boldly join the men and become a disciple of Jesus.

As a quick aside, a disciple was an apprentice—a person who was learning a way of life. “The first lesson of Christian discipleship is to sit under the Lord Jesus and learn from Him.” (Frank Viola, God’s Favorite Place on Earth)

This is what Mary chose to do–to soak in all that Jesus had to say.

Have we learned the lesson that Mary learned? Are our eyes open to the things that are of most importance? Do we seek Christ first?

We all have areas in which we are to serve the Lord. If you are married then your main ministry is toward your husband. If you have children then correcting, training in righteousness and showing them the beauty of Christ is another ministry you have. Many of us are active in our churches and communities. But the busier we are the easier it is to push Jesus aside, roll up our sleeves and try to serve according to our own will and with our own energy. Eventually we end up overwhelmed, with rattled nerves, emotional, worn out, distracted, frustrated, exhibiting bad attitudes and ready to quit.

We must learn to say with Paul that, “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ (Phil 3:8)

The question is not “are you a Martha or a Mary”? The question is, have you, like Mary, seen the supremacy of Jesus, and placed everything in subjection to him?

I like to think that Martha learned what Mary already knew and that she ended up joining Jesus and the others for a sweet time of fellowship and teaching. But I don’t know. My hope is that we will labor where Christ calls us to labor (in the grace and strength he provides), while seeing the priority and privilege of listening to and learning from the Savior."

Coming here this morning, you probably have a huge 'to do' list still in your head. Not just your own tasks, either, but possibly your list for your husband, or your children, or.... You probably feel more like Martha than Mary. Yet you are HERE. You have chosen Mary's part, to come and sit at Jesus' feet for a while. To listen. To learn from him.

Soon, we will have time to do that. To be quiet. I encourage you to write down the thoughts and impressions that you have - there are paper and pencils available if you would like to do so.
Listen to the song we will play on the CD and, when you are ready, if you wish you may go down to the lounges or wander outside in the grounds. We will meet back here at 10.45 for coffee for half an hour and then come together for a brief time. 

Tuesday, 19 April 2011


I am sometimes asked to lead the intercessionary prayers at church, in the Anglican tradition.
I don't like doing it - prefer something more interactive - but recently, feel it is right.
I feel it is right because the prayers are God-inspired, not of my own creativity or glorifying writing techniques.
I feel it is right because I feel no pride - yet recognise that they are 'right'.
Here are the last lot, on Palm Sunday:

Meekness and majesty
Manhood and deity
In perfect harmony
The Man who IS God.

Lord, those many years ago, riding into Jerusalem, Your people then recognized you as their king. Forgive us, Lord, for those many times in our daily lives when we fail to acknowledge your kingship and give other things more importance.

As the crowd hailed you as you entered Jerusalem, so do we. We know that you are healer, redeemer, saviour - and that with You, all things are possible. We bring you our hopes for the future: for peace in the troubled countries of Libya and Ivory Coast; for restoration of devastated lives after the earthquake in Japan; and we ask, not only for your intervention, but that you will be glorified, that men and women will see your great power at work in those situations.

We pray for your people who, like the disciples, know you as their king, especially for our leaders: the bishops, our Dean here in Guernsey and all those who guide us in Your ways. Give them wisdom, bless them.

And just as many flocked to you for healing, so we too pray for those who are sick, physically, or are burdened mentally and emotionally, and expecially for those suffering grief or loss.

Meekness and majesty
Manhood and deity
In perfect harmony
The Man who IS God.
(With thanks to Graham Kendrick for these words of chorus)

Monday, 21 March 2011

Baked white chocolate cheesecake

This is from Taste of Home...

16 ServingsPrep: 30 min. + cooling Bake: 65 min. + chilling

1-1/2 cups chocolate wafer crumbs (about 27 wafers)
3 tablespoons butter, melted

3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1-1/2 cups vanilla or white chips, melted and cooled

2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup vanilla or white chips, melted and cooled
Striped chocolate kisses, optional
Raspberries, optional
In a small bowl, combine wafer crumbs and butter; press into the bottom of a greased 9-in. springform pan. Place pan a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, cream and vanilla until smooth. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined. Stir in melted vanilla chips. Pour into crust. Place pan on a double thickness of heavy-duty foil (about 16 in. x 16 in.). Securely wrap foil around pan.
Place springform pan in a larger baking pan. Add 1 in. hot water to larger pan. Bake at 350° for 65-70 minutes or until center is almost set. Remove pan from water bath. Cool on a wire rack 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer. Refrigerate overnight.
For glaze, place chocolate chips in a large bowl; set aside. In a heavy saucepan, bring the cream, butter and sugar to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Pour over chocolate chips. Cool for 3 minutes. Stir until smooth and cool.
Remove sides of pan. Spread glaze over the top and sides of cheesecake. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
Drizzle melted vanilla chips over cheesecake. Garnish with kisses and raspberries if desired. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 12-14 servings.

Friday, 5 March 2010


I am a teacher. I teach. There, I've said it. I've come out. Yet over the round of Christmas parties, I found myself with a curiously new, unBritish attitude towards my job. Let me explain.
To be a teacher in certain parts of the world is one of the highest aspirations of youth. Teaching is a career of eminence. Teachers are well-respected members of society, referred to with deference and admiration. I am not talking about some outpost of the former British empire: look no further than some of our continental neighbours to find attitudes very different from those in the UK.

To be properly British, I should be mindful of my lowly status. Much of the publicity teaching receives is bad: dumbed-down exams, bullies, and the occasional criminal investigation. Rarely are exam achievements celebrated or teachers praised. I've been tempted to temper my vocation with a suitable excuse. "At the momentI " (suggesting I have other strings to my bow). Or "I'm taking a break fromI and helping out atI (substitute name of local school)".

I can't give that impression, so I vary my introduction from the belligerent "I am a teacher" (so don't mention bullying or lowering of standards or you're in trouble), to the cringing, don't hit me "I am a teacher" (it's all in the non-verbal communication involving an embarrassed facial apology and squirming tone of voice). My response varies according to mood and audience.

So what was my attitude this time? I found it transformed by a simple grammar change. "I teach." As I said it in the company of some high-flying financial executives, I felt myself transform into a caped crusader for my profession. Those two words empowered me to proclaim my skills and attributes to whiz-kids on monumental salaries. So what if they are good at juggling numbers and negotiating deals? My powers enable me to expand children's minds. I suddenly realised the value of my skills and qualifications.

Plus, my simple "I teach" provoked unexpected responses. I was taken aback by the admiration, the deference, the comments of: "Rather you than me," or "That's wonderfulI I've been wondering about a change of career, but I'm not sure I'd manage. All that preparation and marking." I listened to eager questions as high-powered people confessed their inadequacy in understanding their children's struggles with reading, or stress over their failure to form friendships. I realised I'd been belittling my achievements.

Many of us in teaching garner our rewards so frequently that we do not recognise them and fail to appreciate them. What is your response to the child's: "Oh, now I get it?" Is it, as mine often is, a silent comment along the lines: "Of course you get it, I've spent 10 minutes explaining it again and you've got a long way to catch up with the rest of the class"? Or do you accompany a mental victory punch in the air with a quiet "Yes!" in celebration?

Does a Christmas card from a child you barely notice, in a class you have maybe covered once, convey the depth of appreciation felt? Do you understand your value to your pupils? Be assured: these are no small victories. Yet they are swallowed up in a life of hectic busy-ness which means that in the classroom more can be accomplished in a single day than many office workers might achieve in a week.

Our impact as teachers should not be underestimated. It can be negative as well as positive, but one thing is certain: it is not negligible. We should not go on the defensive, or apologise to the rest of society. We teach.

That is something to be proud of.

Angela Pollard

Angela Pollard teaches maths at Crescent school in Rugby, Warwickshire

Sunday, 28 February 2010


We are performers. We perform our jobs, our roles – wives, mothers, daughters, friends. We judge our performances: do we perform well, or badly? Or just so-so, when we’d like to perform better?

Who do we perform for? Others? Ourselves? God?

OUR AIM: to be like Jesus:
Mark 7:36-37 (The Message)
Jesus urged them to keep it quiet, but they talked it up all the more, beside themselves with excitement. "He's done it all and done it well. He gives hearing to the deaf, speech to the speechless."

What NOT to do: showing off as the Pharisees did:

Matthew 23:4-6 (The Message)
Jesus was upset that the Pharisees were making God’s law difficult for people, but he also warned against ‘showing off’: 4-7"Instead of giving you God's Law as food and drink by which you can banquet on God, they package it in bundles of rules, loading you down like pack animals. They seem to take pleasure in watching you stagger under these loads, and wouldn't think of lifting a finger to help. Their lives are perpetual fashion shows, embroidered prayer shawls one day and flowery prayers the next. They love to sit at the head table at church dinners, basking in the most prominent positions, preening in the radiance of public flattery, receiving honorary degrees, and getting called 'Doctor' and 'Reverend.'
He also talked about this in the context of giving, and prayer:
Matthew 6:4-6 (New International Version)
so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.


Stress, tiredness, difficult people, deadlines, volume of work, illness…
This is not new! Philippians 4:12-14 (New International Version)
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.


Jesus said: So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be (wo)men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love. 1 Corinthians 16:13-15 (New International Version)

Be on your guard. Be alert for hindrances to performing well: other people – opposition; distraction; wrong prioritizing
Stand firm in the faith. My dear friends, stand firm and don't be shaken. Always keep busy working for the Lord. You know that everything you do for him is worthwhile. 1 Corinthians 15:58 (Contemporary English Version) But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.( 1 Corinthians 15:10)
Paul was saved to give us hope. If he, who opposed Jesus’ followers so vehemently, could be saved, then so can we.
Be (wo)men of courage.
Be strong.

…for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe
Philippians 2:13-15 (New International Version)

Philippians 2:13-15 (The Message)
Rejoicing Together
12-13What I'm getting at, friends, is that you should simply keep on doing what you've done from the beginning. When I was living among you, you lived in responsive obedience. Now that I'm separated from you, keep it up. Better yet, redouble your efforts. Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God's energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.

Titus 2:6-8
6Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. 7In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness 8and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.
1-6Your job is to speak out on the things that make for solid doctrine. Guide older men into lives of temperance, dignity, and wisdom, into healthy faith, love, and endurance. Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don't want anyone looking down on God's Message because of their behavior. Also, guide the young men to live disciplined lives.
7-8But mostly, show them all this by doing it yourself, incorruptible in your teaching, your words solid and sane. Then anyone who is dead set against us, when he finds nothing weird or misguided, might eventually come around.
(New International Version)

2 Peter 1:3-4 (Contemporary English Version)
Living as the Lord's Followers
We have everything we need to live a life that pleases God. It was all given to us by God's own power, when we learned that he had invited us to share in his wonderful goodness. God made great and marvelous promises, so that his nature would become part of us. Then we could escape our evil desires and the corrupt influences of this world.

So, we don’t need to perform for anyone else, not even for ourselves. We need to ‘perform’ only for God. And that ‘performance’ just has to be our best. No more, no less.


1 Thessalonians 1:2 – 5 We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father
your work produced by faith,
your labour prompted by love, and
your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

For we know, sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.

A final blessing:
Hebrews 13:20-22
18-21Pray for us. We have no doubts about what we're doing or why, but it's hard going and we need your prayers. All we care about is living well before God. Pray that we may be together soon.

May God, who puts all things together,
makes all things whole,
Who made a lasting mark through the sacrifice of Jesus,
the sacrifice of blood that sealed the eternal covenant,
Who led Jesus, our Great Shepherd,
up and alive from the dead,
Now put you together, provide you
with everything you need to please him,
Make us into what gives him most pleasure,
by means of the sacrifice of Jesus, the Messiah.
All glory to Jesus forever and always!
Oh, yes, yes, yes. (The Message)