Sunday, 29 January 2017

By grace you are saved through faith

P1&2's craft today. We decorated it in wrapping paper, because 'grace' means a good gift we don't deserve.

Children making a collage of Ephesians 2:8

Saturday, 28 January 2017


JONAS: So far, my track record is not great.
TEAL'C: Perhaps that is so. But there are many battles left to be fought, Jonas Quinn.
~Stargate SG1 6.03 (Descent)

Friday, 27 January 2017

Vacuum cleaner palaeontology

I was emptying the hoover at church. The layers of dust in the drum reminded me of layers in archaeology or geology.

Then I looked a little closer...

The layers aren't so clear in the photo.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Reading carefully

A couple of days ago, I was reading about Mary & Martha. A story I know well. Martha invites Jesus & his disciples for dinner and then gets in a stooshie over Mary not helping  with the cooking.

But that's not what it says. It doesn't say she invited them for dinner; it says she 'opened her home to him'. In context, Jesus and his disciples are on tour. Previously in the chapter, he sent out 72 of them, in an advertising campaign to the towns he was planning to visit. They were to stay with people in those towns.

Now 'Jesus and his disciples were on their way'. The tour has begun. They don't just need a nice dinner; like the 72 they need a place to put up for the night (or several nights). So Martha doesn't just need to cook one dinner for 13 extra people*  She needs to cook for several meals, buy the extra food, fetch extra water, make beds, perhaps rearrange rooms, dust... As Jesus said, 'you are worried and upset by many things'.

Available soon...

Then I was preparing a Sunday School Lesson about crossing the river Jordan. Another story I know well. After they cross, they are told to take 12 stones from the river and pile them up, so that people would remember what God had done. Sunday School lessons state this. This is what the Visual Aids I have used always show, as has every illustration I myself have drawn.

But that's not what it says. It says 'put them down at the place where you stay tonight', and 'Joshua set up the twelve stones'. No mention of a pile. They might have been stacked in a tall pillar, if they were flat enough. Or arranged in a row. Or a circle.

In fact, having just done some Googling, and looking at the Blue Letter Bible, it turns out that:
  • 'Gilgal' means 'circle' or 'wheel'. This is explained in Joshua 5v8-9 as referring to God 'rolling away the reproach of Egypt' when they were circumcised. But it could easily be God making a pun. He frequently does.
  • The word 'Gilgal' is certainly used in Hebrew for a stone circle, such as the (very different, very large) stone circle called Gilgal Refaim.
  • There are also small stone circles in Israel like the kind I'm imagining at Gilgal.
Next time I illustrate this, I will draw a stone circle.

Do either of these things matter? No, they don't (except insofar as the truth  matters).

But it does show that you need to read very carefully. Because some things really do matter, and you don't want to read them wrong.

*Or however many, but I'm assuming the whole 72 were not there! But maybe more than 12? What about the women who followed Jesus? Of course, the disciples might also have split up between different houses. Who knows? It was a hassle, anyway.


Listening to the Unbelievable Truth, I was glad to discover that pandas are, in fact, bears.


DIY advice

Just because the four wall shelves you have bought are identical, don't assume that the positions of the screw holes are also identical, and so drill the holes accordingly.

Monday, 16 January 2017


Me: So all the mums and dads and children and grans and grandpas and donkeys and cows and sheep and all their things went across where the river had been.

Child: Their things couldn't go across; they couldn't walk.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Skype and Sign Language

We were Skyping my brother last night, when suddenly the mic went haywire. We could hear him, but he couldn't hear us. So we came up with an interesting workaround: He talked out loud, and I replied with BSL finger spelling :-) That was fun. If a little tedious...

Here it is, should you ever need it:

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Cultural superiority

SG1 Season 5 Episode 18 'The Warrior'

O'NEILL: Yeah, well, where I come from, we do things…a little differently.
KYTANO: And you would have us change our ways to suit yours.
O'NEILL: I didn't say that, but if it's not too much trouble…
BRA'TAC: Kytano. Colonel O'Neill. It is my hope that we can learn from our differences, that they bond us together, make us stronger.

O'NEILL: What the hell are you doing!?!
KYTANO: Do you now see the strength of our resolve?
O'NEILL: I see the strength of your arrogance!
DANIEL: I think what Col. O'Neill is trying to say is that we do things a little differently.
KYTANO: Yet again, you remind me your ways are different. We should abandon centuries of Jaffa tradition and follow the ways of the Tau'ri*. Which of us is arrogant?

Their concerns about Kytano's approach to things are legitimate (and, it turns out, very justified). And, while some things may be a matter of opinion, there is also absolute right and wrong. But when dealing with people from another culture, 'we do things differently' is not an argument. Especially when - as in this case - you're on their home territory.

Something for everyone - but particularly, in our time, white westerners - to remember.


Monday, 9 January 2017

Leaven bread by Rain for Roots

This is better if you click through to Vimeo - it's rather blurry here.

Leaven Bread by Rain for Roots from Rain for Roots on Vimeo.

I came across this recently and I like it. Partly because I'm illustrating this story at the minute. I also like the fact that it is filmed in a real, lived-in house, not one that looks like it comes from a magazine or Pinterest :-)

Sunday, 8 January 2017

When you forget your Sunday School Visual Aids. Also, a good song.

Running at the last minute, (my fault mostly) I forgot a record number of things for my Sunday School lesson today, and various other things didn't work out as planned. It was one of those 'jar of clay' mornings - when you're tempted to trust in your own abilities it's good to be reminded that is not where the power lies...

Anyway, one of the things I forgot to bring was my Visual Aids. I'm not one of those people who can carry a story just by their storytelling skills - I need visuals. Here's what I do when I don't have any:
Stick figures!

This is why I went to art college :-)

It does keep the children's attention - although only do this if you are willing to have your drawings constantly commented on and criticised:
Why have the houses got dots on them? (They're windows. Yes they are, because I say they're windows, and I'm drawing the picture.)
Why haven't they got faces? Where are her arms? (Oops!)
Why isn't there a door? (Because it's on the other side)
Why are there two windows? (Because I felt like it).
Why did you draw the stars blue? (Because if you think I'm going to carefully colour the whole sky blue, leaving little white star shapes...)

It works even better if you're actually planning to teach the lesson this way, as you can plan what you'll draw instead of making it up as you go along. But in a pinch it's always good to fall back on.

We also learned Open our Eyes from Rain for Roots (lead inexpertly by me due to wifi issues...) I hope to sing this often as an introductory prayer song. Listen below:

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Spinach French toast roll-ups

I read a recipe for stuffed french toast here. She used strawberries.
So I tried it, but with spinach instead. 

I used frozen spinach, added some spring onion, Lea & Perrins and ground black pepper. Microwaved for a couple of minutes, and then pressed in a sieve to drain. Followed the rest of the instructions (Obviously don't put sugar/syrup/vanilla in it! I just used an egg with nothing added)


Friday, 6 January 2017

Happy New ... Day

Swans in Rouken Glen on New Year's day

New years are good, because they're a new start. The old year, with all its failings, is gone, and a new, empty one is ahead. It can be good to look back, and look ahead. You can set goals. Aim to do better this time around.

But that puts a big burden on one day. What if you just weren't in the mood for reflection and planning on the 1st of January? What if the new year gets off to a bad start - the first week isn't over and you've failed already? What if you need to sort things out mid-year?

I had this verse in my head (sort of, though I didn't remember it very well), and then someone prayed about it in the prayer meeting last night. So I looked it up.
...this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,

     for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning;

     great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3v21-23
Every day can be a new start! 

Also - Happy New Year!