Friday, November 19, 2010

Lose the Scrooge

I've been busy writing a Church Magazine letter this morning. I've been spoiled over the last 11 years as my two churches share a bi-monthly mag. But now we are becoming a group of 5 one of the first things we have done is have the same Minister's letter in the 4 mags - and all the others are monthly. So I have been reflecting on the fact that I struggle with the C word at this time of year. Here is most of what I have said. I started by talking about what a moaning minnie I am this time of year and go on to say

But by the time of the Nativity and Carol Services, when the Advent wreath is heavy with light, I am always ready to hear again the stories of shepherds and young girls and angels and strange gifts. And wonder again at the strangest gift of all. That God should choose to become one of us - a living, crying, eating, sleeping, nappy wearing, learning, growing fully human being. And he did that in order to show us just how much he loved us. Its a gift for life - not just for Christmas. A gift that makes no sense at all without knowing about death and resurrection too.

And I wonder as well about what it is that makes other people love Christmas so - the sparkly lights and trees and decorations. I wonder if it is the sense of awe and wonder that we had as children that people want to rediscover in their adult lives. I wonder if it is the delight in seeking out the perfect gift for someone and anticipating the joy of seeing them open it ( and perhaps looking forward to presents themselves!). I wonder if it is that hope that this Christmas will be one of peace and love in the family (even if it has never quite worked out before).

And if I, as a Christian spend the whole pre-Christmas period looking glum about all I have to do and moaning that the decorations go up ever earlier each year - what message am I giving out?

I feel that awe and wonder still at Christmas time - especially on Christmas Eve, both at the Pyjama Service we hold at Upminster and Romford for the children and at the Midnight Communion Service. I feel that delight in receiving the gift of Jesus anew in my heart and remembering just what that means. I have that hope for peace and love - not just in my family but for the world too. And I need to share this part of Christmas with others so that they can feel it too. And at a time when people are ready to hear it - which starts - at least - in November!

So I am challenging myself to loose the Scrooge. To not pull a face when the C word of Christmas is mentioned. And not sigh when others talk about when they are putting up the tree or share that their present buying is all done. I don’t think I’ll ever go on a Tinsel and Turkey break but you never know.

What I am trying to say is that faith IS at the heart of Christmas and that when we meet people where they are and share that extra dimension that we know that we have, we may be able to pass on that special present of God’s grace, the gift that keeps on giving that is faith in Jesus Christ.

I print this here because it is a real challenge that I have to take on. Not just this year - which is slightly different as I did all my Christmas planning in the summer and that actually worked really well - but in the years to come.

However it didn't really start well this year as I avoided it despite Kathy's best efforts to get us to make a Christmas Card for this week's Daring Cardmakers! The dare is "We three" and - having seen someone (can't remember who sorry) using the Cosmo Togetherness Chipboard on cards, I was inspired to do the same.
The papers are all from the Togetherness range. I also used Brushed Corduroy Distress ink; Nestability Dies; Tim Holtz embossing folder; brads from stash; copper tack heads from Imagine That and a cute stamp from Papertrey ink that was just perfect for this card.

In other crafting news. I've been making a lot of birthday date cards recently for folk in Church who have reached special birthdays. Mostly large ones for people to sign but here is one just from me
Iris - who is moving to Aberdeen next week! - is vibrant and always well put together. More like 70 than 90 so I wanted a card that echoed her personality. I hope she like it. Papers are Cosmo Delovely.

And here is a layout
of Carys and I in our matching shoes. We now have the same shoe size which means all the more shoes for me to wear! The papers are all My Minds Eye Alphabet Soup (bought from Imagine That) apart from the white textured one which is Papermania. Letters are American Crafts and everything else I have had a really long time!

Imagine That is 4 this weekend and there are all sorts of celebrations. Why not pop in and join in the fun. Alas I have a busy Church weekend with a table top sale as well as the Sunday service so may not have much time to play there - but I do intend to pop in late ish on Saturday.

This will probably be my last blog post for a while as I have to do far more studying and writing than playing over the next few weeks. I won't be participating in either DCM or Salt until the new year :( Think of me as I try to explain what qualitative research is and the methodology I have chosen.
Happy Christmas!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Where has my baby gone?

When we moved to Upminster Carys was just turning 3. (Her first memory is her 3rd birthday tea with a pink pig cake). She was really too big for a high chair but too small for a regular one and so we purchased one of these.
Best IKEA buy ever. She was sat on a proper chair but with higher legs so that she could feel really grown up.
And she has never wanted to sit on anything else to eat her food.
Except this week she has finally had to admit defeat. Yes, at age 14 her (admittedly still very petite) rear end will not fit on the chair. Sob!
But we have had our money's worth out of it I think.

When we first bought it she was a year younger than she is in the photo I used for my Salt challenge this week. Pauline set the theme of Transformation. Although she talks about butterflies I was determined not to use them as they tend to be my go to embellishment of choice. So I decided to use the photo that Phil had just rediscovered on the hard drive of our wee three on the London Eye.
The photo says it was taken on 19th may 2000 but that is a bit odd as it is Em's birthday and it was when their cousins were over from Canada. Now I didn't go with them to London as I am wimpy about going on the London Eye. Plus mid May seems a bit early even for Canadian schools to be finished so whether the date is correct or not we can't remember. But they do look cute. Especially the Milky Bar Kid.
All the Papers are Crate Paper Restoration. Lots of hand cutting of the doily paper. I added a few nestability die cuts; a Prima glass bead; K and Co letters; button from stash and pearls from Imagine That. The two red hearts have glossy accents on them.

Here's the words in close up
I love this wood grainy paper from the collection. Well, I love the whole thing!

Today's Daring dare was set by Lynda. My card isn't bad but I am in awe of all the others. My Team mates are always awesome but somehow this challenge has seen them all raise the bar (while I sail blithely under it). I have banned the team from every doing themselves downand I am not doing it here so that everyone says "but your's is good Lyth". Its perfectly fine (as Mark Kermode says at least once a week on the Film Review on a friday afternoon) but the others are amazing.
The theme is "A time to remember" and the invitation is to use a poppy on your card. well I have the Papermania build a poppy stamp so used that. What I didn't have was a rich bright red to make the poppy out of. I used papers from the Basic Grey Cupcake range which I bought a while ago for about £3 the lot at Alexandra Palace. Some of the designs are a bit Hmmm but those solid colours that BG do so well are as fab as ever.
So its a white square card blank with rounded corners and lots of layers. I also used two Martha Stewart punches; an Imagine that pearl and a Waltzing Mouse sentiment (which is slightly squiffy I know). And I decided for once to go mad with the foam pads. Yes I know how to live a little. But it does man the card will have to be hand delivered
I'm starting prep for my Remembrance sunday service. Its a bit strange this year because having services at 9:30 and 11:15 means that we miss the 11 o'clock at both so it will be interesting to see how each church deals with it. I do think that remembering is important. not to glorify or glamourise war but to give thanks for sacrifice made - by men, by women and later by their families and to pledge once more to work for peace.

Friday, November 05, 2010

I'm wishing my life away

I am moaning again!
I just have so much on my plate that I kind of wish it was next year :(
By which time I will have done my MA work and my Dissertation proposal and ethical clearance and Christmas and everything.
some of those things are actually good and fun (ish) and enjoyable so I must remember to live in the present.
to enjoy the beauty of the leaves as they change colour
to enjoy the sound of my kids laughing as they tease each other
to chat to my other big kid on MSN and feel glad he is settled in Uni.
to have a good visit with my mum. Isn't it nice that she can pop in when she has meetings in London?
to be thankful that the new boiler system at one of my churches is finally working
and that there are so many good people in the congregations
to have the most wonderful husband in the world (sorry if you thought it was yours, he's mine)
and that even when I feel like I am falling, I know that God is there to catch me.

And I managed a teeny time to craft yesterday.
Its Daring Card day and the theme is Topaz as it is the first Friday of the month.
I know a few people who are having big birthdays at the mo' and so this might just be the prototype for all of them. I went for the orangy Topaz that is apparently the one for November. it does mean the clours are quite similar to the ones I used last week...

As the card will be hand delivered I could go mad with the foam pads! The dies used for the card are Paperartsy and Nestabilities; the kraft cardstock is Papertrey Ink. Punch is Martha Stewart; numbers are sizzix dies; Paper and chipboard are Cosmo Cricket Earth Love and the Distress ink is Marigold. The cream glitter card is scrummy. I have no idea where it is from and have very little left. I swooshed it with ink to make it a little more orangey in tone.

Right, back to the grindstone. The lectionary readings for the last few weeks before Advent are full of doom and gloom and thinking about the end times. Well kind of. This week the Apostle Paul says "forget all of that stuff, just stand firm and see what the Lord can do in your life".
Rather than running round and feeling like the sky is falling in, I think I had better take Paul's advice.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Road trip

well... we did it!
Is it possible to sing with our Choir in Germany one evening and attend a seminar in Cambridge the next morning? Just about!
Thursday - 5 am start to get the 7:30am ferry to Calais.
Then a trundle through Belgium, picnic stop at the Netherlands (quite expensive picnic stop when you think of the Pound/Euro rate and the fact we were just at a motorway petrol station. Still the bench we sat on amidst the trees was nice and we were given two free cans of Red Bull).
Thanks to a major motorway crash; roadworks and getting slightly lost due to Ken the Satnav being 30 seconds behind and not as clear as he could be for a while - it took 6 hours not 4 to get to Witten.
But we were there by 4:30. Which was when the rest of the choir were originally due to arrive too. However after we had booked our tickets the choir travel plans changed and they did not arrive until 11:30pm. By which time we had bathed, rested, wandered round Witten, found somewhere where we could eat vegetarian food that didn't cost much having established that the credit card is not used so much in Witten and we already were down on cash thanks to the expensive lunch. Still, we enjoyed a delicious Chinese meal at the Nam King Asia Bistro.

Friday - we had to check out so I had carefully worked out the time I needed to shower, pack, eat breakfast etc and set my phone alarm accordingly. Only I had forgotten to change the time to German time and so woke 40 minutes late. Major panic. But it was all sorted in the end. We had a choir practice and then whiled away the hours at the shops. Where we got out some money. Then some more. Then at a shop that takes credit cards found our card was declined. then remembered just how efficient our Co-op visa is at detecting fraud - things like - small amounts being taken out in a foreign country. So we had to phone and explain and hope we could get petrol on the way home.
Then we took photos. German towns always have fab statues and Witten was no exception. There were lots of middle aged men statues around (don't know why).

My fave moment came when a slightly tiddly German insisted on being in one of the photos.
Friday evening - choir concert. German choir, British choir and Russian choir. Russian's were AMAZING. Was it wrong of me to smirk that the totally gorgeous women that our choir men had been drooling over all day had to wear the most unflattering dresses known to humanity (stretch, floor length blue velvet). I suppose it is. We did pretty well though. We sang "The little jazz mass" by Chilcott in the first half and swing type numbers like New York and Cabaret in the second.
At half nine the concert was over. Phil and I grabbed jumpers and a picnic. I settled into the back of the car with sleeping bag and eye mask and we set off for the 4:15 ferry at Calais.

Friday to Saturday
I discovered it is not very comfy in the back of the car. I did kind of doze but didn't sleep. Especially not at the times that Ken was saying those awful words "Turn around where possible". It turned out there was a not very weel signposted diversion through the Dutch countryside. But Phil doesn't panic and got us to Calais in great time. Sadly, just too late to get the boat before. But for a few minutes we were the first car in the queue. Now we both thought that the 4:14 am ferry would be very subdued and we would both be able to sleep.
50% of those on board were hyper excited teenagers and the rest were just hyper. Most of the boat was cordened off so we were all together and the noise level was truly extraordinary. Funnily enough I did doze off for a while.

We arrived home and got into bed at 6:30. I got out again at 7:45 in order to head for Cambridge. my total star of a mother in law, Brenda, who haahd been kid/animal sitting, drove me there. It was more the way home I was concerned about as I had 6 hours of seminar to get through and thought it might finish me off. Phil had found the redbull helpful on the way home so I decided to buy an energy drink to keep me alert during the day. I bought a big one. I was wide awake all day. A small one will do next time. Dear Brenda was tireder than I - having walk around Cambridge for 6 hours!
But hey - we did it! From Witten to Cambridge - job done.

And here is my Daring Card for this week
Halloween theme.
I just went for the colours
All the papers, the letters and even the cardstock, are american crafts. The little chipboard bits are Docrafts and the letters are MLS. Punch is my fave (and first) Martha Stewart.

I've been plugging away at MA work today. There is sooooo much of it and it doesn't come easy to me - what is hermeneutic phenomenology anyway. In order to do it justice, something else had to give and so I am stepping down from the Funky hand design team. Ack - it is painful. Anice is the best and kindest boss ever. And it may not be forever but at least for a while.
So thanks Anice and all the amazing Funky Handers - its been such fun!

OK its tea time and then I have to write up some guidelines about various research methodologies. Don't you wish it was you doing that?