Posts Tagged ‘study’

We’re off to camp in a couple of days. No, we’re not actually camping. But we call it that because it’s always been called that. Maybe because people used tents when they took young people away in the 1950s. Who knows? We’re actually off on a CPAS Pathfinder Venture – taking 76 11-14 year olds from youth groups round the country to a boarding school in Devon for a week of fun, adventure, beach trips, crafts and learning about Jesus. The whole of the Vicarage are going, even the Engineer, who is still too young to be an official Pathfinder, but will buddy along with the rest of us and join in where he can and hang out with the Task Force team (who do all the practical stuff) when he can’t.

Also round the country are about 40 leaders of all shapes and sizes getting prepared. Here in the Vicarage we have our part to play. So what essential things do we need to get done before we leave?

1. Reply to the gazillion emails about transport, bible studies, menus, equipment. The inbox tends to heat up red hot in the days before we land in Devon.

2. Concoct suitable costumes for the theme. (France this year). Personally I’m hoping that stripey t-shirts will cut it. Although I know that there will be a few people dressed as baguettes and the Eiffel Tower – the team is a pretty creative bunch. Me, not so much.

3. Prepare the Bible study for the dorm. Although miraculously this year I have done mine already *smug face*.

4. Receive, check, price up and then repack the bookstall. This will take a day or so. There are a lot of books (I just counted and I think we have ordered 251). It will involve post-it notes and patience. It’s arriving from 10ofthose tomorrow!

5. Acquire all the sweeties, craft items and other bits and bobs I have agreed to bring for our dorm times. After first checking through the email that itemises them. If I can locate the email in amongst the gazillion.

6. Sleep for as many hours as possible. Sleep is in short supply in Devon what with early morning leaders’ meetings and late night dorm patrol. My aim is to arrive there *not* completely shattered.

7. Find my shorts with the capacious pockets. And the flip flops. And a raincoat and a couple of fleeces. Doncha just love a summer holiday in the UK?

8. Fill out all the health forms. For me, for the Vicar, for the children. And possibly for the cat aswell; I’m losing track.

9. Obsessively monitor the weather forecast for Barnstaple, praying that we won’t have to book out an entire cinema for an afternoon like we had to that year that Devon was subjected to sheet rain for the almost the entire week of camp.

10. Pray for the team, the kids, the families who send them, the home churches and the Ventures team at CPAS, who all work together to provide a fantastic week of holiday and happiness that can be so important in the Christian walk for so many. My own faith came alive on a CPAS venture in 1981 and I’m praying that all our Pathfinders will grow in faith in Christ next week.

Thankfully we have people staying in the Vicarage whilst we’re away, so we don’t have to work out who’s going to feed (and clear up after) our arthritic cat. I’m leaving early on Friday with Dreamer and we’ll be with the advance troops setting everything up before the kids arrive on Saturday. Then it’s all go until we land home on the following Friday, filled with tales of faith and fun and starting the plans for next year.

We get to go to a lovely beach on camp. We make it a lot busier than this one though…

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Do you have a child with a smart phone or tablet? Are they reluctant to remove their eyes from the tiny screen because someone is droning nasally on YouTube about Minecraft? Do they fail to hear calls for meals or run away from table too early in order to play Angry Birds? Let me share with you an app I came across recently that has aided our parenting and helped us to ease the Queen (aged 13, now a proud possessor of a smart phone on a super cheap but strangely comprehensive contract) into learning some self control:


Seriously, I cannot recommend this free app highly enough. It works by allowing you to control your child’s smartphone or tablet from your own phone. It’s available from Google Play, the Apple App Store and the Amazon App Store. We have the Queen’s set to switch off at bedtime and we can summon her to the table at the touch of a screen. She doesn’t mind, and it can be quite funny to see how quickly she appears once I’ve used the ‘Take a Break’ function.

Of course, I want her to develop self control, but I never had the challenge of having to switch off my phone at night when I was 13. It was bad enough trying not to read under the covers. So this app enables us to help her let go of the phone without having to physically remove it from her grasp. If you are buying a device for a child this Christmas, you could install DinnerTime (or DinnerTime Plus for even more functionality) before the child has it and then bedtime screen battles will not even begin. I have mentioned DinnerTime to other parents and to a headteacher recently, and there seemed to be some keen interest. Perhaps it will help you or someone you know who’s battling in this area. It’s been a blessing to us.

A great weapon in the battle of the screens

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Like Vicar’s wives up and down the nation (and around the world too) I am involved in our Sunday School – I teach about once a month and also help others by sourcing various materials. We base our teaching programme on the excellent TNT materials, which work well for our fluctuating numbers and wide age range. I supplement the TNT stuff with extra colouring and wordsearches. I have blogged previously on some of the sites I use for sourcing helpful extras, but now I have a couple of additional ones to share.

Mary at Mission Bible Class has a great site with lots of links and ideas, including helping children to pray and blank lesson plans.

I’ve been using Sermons4kids for a while, but only recently discovered their worship bulletins – these are great if you have an all age service with a visiting speaker who might not be that child-friendly. They’re also brilliant for your normal Junior Church. The bulletin contains colouring, wordsearch and other puzzles and can be printed back and front on an A4 sheet to give you a folded A5 bulletin. You can even customise it with your church logo!

The site is arranged using the Lectionary, but you can easily use the search facility to find the passage you’re using. You’ll find the bulletins (if there is one – they don’t seem to have them for every kids sermon on the site) at the bottom of the page eg see this one on Exodus 16.

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I’m a bit of a fits and starts reader when it comes to ‘proper’ books. My mother says I have ‘narrative hunger’, which means I will read a crisp packet just to keep words flowing through my head. These days the internet seems to fill that gap, and my reading of books has dropped off. But this summer I really enjoyed getting back to real reading and I’m hoping to continue this pattern as the holidays become a dim memory.

The Lord must have known my need to read, and not just read escapist fiction, and so somehow I have ended up convening a small study group of women from our church, two of whom were confirmed just the other weekend. Looking around for a confirmation gift for them, I came across a fairly new book by Australian evangelist John Chapman.

‘Chappo’ is a wonderfully engaging and straightforward communicator and I’ve loved listening to him (sermon tapes on holiness and evangelism) and reading his books (especially ‘Know and Tell the Gospel’) over the years. The book I chose for our friends – and then this little group – is called ‘A Foot in Two Worlds’. Its subtitle is ‘The Joy and Struggle of the Normal Christian Life’.

I’m now two chapters in, and I thought I’d try and summarise my reading on the blog, so I can be really clear when I lead our discussion tonight. The book very helpfully comes with a discussion guide at the back, which is a great boon for my fuzzy head.

The book has only seven chapters, and with the first and last chapters being introduction and summary. This means we should be able to finish it over five sessions, which I think is a manageable course length.

Chapter 1: Christianity is not for wimps

Chappo begins with the joys of the Christian life, reminding us that when we become Christians, God forgets our past, giving us continuous forgiveness and sending the Holy Spirit to live with us.

But he also gives us the full picture:

Right from the beginning, I also found living as a Christian much more difficult than I had imagined… Some days I felt overwhelmed. It seemed an endless grind…

He describes us as ‘people with a foot in two worlds’:

We have one foot firmly planted in this world and, at the same time, one foot planted in the world to come, where everything is perfect.

Chapter 2: This Present World

In his second chapter, Chappo helps us to think about the fallen world we live in, remembering how it is good but fallen, firstly with a brief sweep through Genesis 1-3. He also has a good section on the devil, giving some nicely alliterating points about the Father of Lies:

  1. He deludes us
  2. He discourages us
  3. He denounces us
  4. He diverts us
  5. His demise is sure

So he summarises

This…world. While it is good, it isn’t good enough. I am meant to be dissatisfied. Thankfully that isn’t all there is.

I am very much looking forward to discussing this with our little group. Chappo doesn’t shy away from the difficulties of the Christian life, but nor does he ignore its joys. There’s lots to talk about here.

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