Saw this in Leicester yesterday
It wasn’t true!
Experiencing God's Grace in the Everyday
My Willow Tree Angel for this week is this one
‘Angel Of Courage’
Her tagline is ‘bringing a triumphant spirit, inspiration and courage’
It seemed sense to start last week with the ‘winter angel’ – but this one should probably have been my first Advent post- because she is the first Willow Tree figure I owned. Bob gave her to me as a gift when we visited the States in 2002.
This angel reminds me of the importance of the ministry of encouragement. The dictionary defines that word as “to inspire with hope, courage or confidence; to hearten.”
I love this angel so much, because this is a pose I so frequently adopt myself. I throw my arms in the air, and shout “Hallelujah!” or “Yessss!!” or “We’ve done it!” or “Jesus, you’re amazing!” or “It’s finished!” [sometimes my fists clenched purposefully, other times, hands open, fingers pointing heavenwards]
I walk through the busy streets, and see the people hurrying along, getting ready for Christmas – many look harassed, fraught, anxious, worrying about whether they should spend their money on all this stuff, whether they can pay off the Credit Card bill. Others are struggling to carry loads of bags [probably full of inappropriate, overpriced gifts, many of which will be forgotten very quickly. In the shop, the lady behind me in the queue is talking about a family member who has been diagnosed with major illness, and a neighbour recently bereaved. At the bus stop, they are discussing what will happen to their jobs next year, and how yet another local firm has gone into receivership, and how they will struggle to meet the mortgage payment in January.
And I want to encourage each one of them, and say “Christmas is not about giving stuff from Argos and Tesco and M&S…it’s about receiving hope. Not about feeling a failure because you cannot provide all the material things that the ads imply you must have if you are a ‘perfect’ family, it’s about triumphing gratefully in the many blessings you have been given. Love, friendship, home, family, friends, food and clothes. Not about being anxious about the things that might [or might not] happen in the New Year, it’s about receiving courage to face what lies ahead.”
I have quoted the Minnie Louise Haskins poem before [here] I have no idea what your situation is, what you are facing right now – or what you will be facing in the year ahead. But be encouraged, because Christmas reminds us that the Son of God became man, he lived and died – and rose again – for us. Immanuel – God with us. And He will walk with us through every day of our lives - to give us hope, and inspiration and courage.
I am not perfect – I have ‘wobbly moments’ [usually around 4am] when I start stressing about things [great and small ]…the lack of Supply Teaching Income, two daughters living 100 miles away, the many tasks I have ‘left undone’, the odd socks lurking in the bottom of the laundry basket forever seeking their mates, the latest proclamation from Mr Gove, my inability to make gravy, the troubles in Egypt and Syria…but then God’s gracious Spirit reminds me that He is there and He does care. And then I throw up my arms and shout “Hallelujah! Thank you Lord!” and I get on with my day [unless it is actually 4am, in which case I stay very still and rejoice silently, in case I wake my beloved ]
Be strong and of good courage. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go
Last Tuesday morning [25th] I started working with a couple of new teenage pupils, and they learned to thread up a machine and sew a straight line, as well as sew on a button. We had our second session this week. What enthusiasm! In two 2-hour sessions, from scratch, we produced
All quite simple projects, but they seemed so satisfied to actually produce something they could take home immediately.
Ornaments – front and back view – a little bit of wadding in each and a bead or button to emphasis the ‘cushion’
The handwarmer is a 4” square of Christmas cotton, backed with red fleece, and filled with rice, plus a teaspoonful of lavender buds. One minute in the microwave and it will be warm and toasty!
Seeing the sense of achievement on their faces was so rewarding!
Which angel is always late?
Whose halo is never straight?
Who’s still snoring at half past eight?
This is the ‘Out-Of-The-Ark’ production which the children I have worked with this term will be doing next week. I have been making extra angel costumes, including one for W-A-D herself. I was given one costume as a pattern and made four from fabric in the Great Stash – a length of tee-shirt fabric, and a pair of curtains [I think these were in Liz’s bedroom at some point] Plus odd lengths of lace and elastic.
The angel wings [yeah, I know, I know…] are simply rectangles, gathered up in the centre and threaded through a lace loop on the centre back of the robe. Elastic loops will hold them onto the girls’ wrists. I’ll add bells later, so they jingle as they dance!Whoops-a-Daisy’s robe has a zigzag hem, and patches – rectangles of white and gold Christmas fabric.
Just woken to the news of Nelson Mandela’s death – having gone to bed early last night after hearing of the death of my Aunt, Mollie Hall. They were both people of generous spirit, always concerned for others. They will both be missed.
Two amazing people who lived long lives and went about doing much that was good. The whole world knew of one and he will be mourned, and eulogised round the globe. The other served God faithfully for many years as a Pastor’s wife – but she too touched many lives, in the towns where she lived and worked alongside my late Uncle Ray.
I thank God for all those whose lives have made a positive difference – they lived by the values they preached - and I pray for those close to them who mourn their passing today
A couple of years ago, I copied an idea from Mollie Makes and turned an old tee-shirt into a fringed scarf. As I have worn it and washed it[lots] the fringes have rolled up nicely. My best A-bar tee shirt has had to be retired now – the logo completely disappeared last time it was washed. I suspect these things have a limited life- Hannah and Grace washed theirs at the same time and had the same result – the plastic transfer just disintegrated. Before…and after
So I turned this one into a scarf as well- and it is very red and Christmassy and will go beautifully with my best USA Xmas Woolly! Here’s the original coffee coloured one and new red one
And that jumper
…then I shall just have to post the recipe here! Mags mentioned that her trial-run slo-cook lemon pudding was not successful as a possible Xmas dessert, so I said I would send her my recipe for Snowy Mountain Pudding. For years the family opted for this one each December.
It was published [I think] around 1990 in Good Housekeeping magazine, and came originally from the Cadbury’s “Taste of Chocolate” cookbook. I have yet to make one this year – but here is the photo from my Red Book**. The clipping was trimmed to fit the page, so you will have to imagine the complete snowy dome shape
- 200g bar Cadbury Bournville chocolate
- 3-4 tbsp brandy
- 12 trifle sponges or 250g (9oz) sponge cake
- 2 eggs, separated
- 4 tbsp caster sugar
- 450ml (3/4 pt) double cream
- 4 tbsp single cream
Also: a 1.5l (2pt) basin SERVES 6-7
1. Warm the chocolate carefully between your hands for a few moments, then shave off enough curls for the decoration. Set these aside in a cool place.
2. Break up the remaining chocolate and melt it slowly with the brandy. Split all the trifle sponges neatly in half. Use some to line the basin, with the cut sides of the sponges towards the outside.
3. Cut further pieces of cake to fit the gaps and ensure the basin is completely lined.
4. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together and fold in the cooled, melted chocolate.
5. Whip half the double cream, then whisk egg whites until stiff and fold both into the chocolate mixture.
6. Cover the cake at the base of the bowl with the mixture, then arrange a layer of cake on top. Continue until all the ingredients are used, ending with a cake layer.
7. Cover the bowl with a plate, weight it down and leave overnight.
8. Turn the pudding out onto an attractive serving plate. Whip the remaining double cream with the single, then spread it in ripples over the pudding. Decorate the top of the pudding with the chocolate curls. Keep cool until required.
I should say that it ‘serves 6-7’ generously! It is very rich [and we’ve always omitted the brandy, and added 2tsp vanilla essence] It will freeze. Please note, recipe uses raw eggs
**I shall do some more posts about this amazing volume soon
My friend Rhiannon, from our church youth group, is off to Sweden for an International Guiding Event next summer, representing the East Midlands. But she needs to raise nearly £1000 to fund the trip. So her Mum, Emma, and fellow Guide Leader Teresa helped by laying on a Christmas Meal last Saturday.
Hayley, our Youth Worker, brought her band along as entertainment, and I provided the alco-free bar [using drinks generously donated by members of Connexion after our Conference – thanks everyone] The evening raised over £500. So Rhiannon is well on the way to her target. Somehow the photo I took of her didn’t come out!
But Emma and Teresa are shown in the collage below, along with band members and the fancy cocktails!
I kept the drinks menu incredibly simple, using the various bottles donated by Connexion friends to concoct four different coloured cocktails – red, orange, golden and purple [btw the ‘twist’ is some blackcurrant]
Memo to self – do not stay out till nearly midnight working as a barmaid when you are due to be preaching the next morning!
I have been catching up on recorded TV in odd moments, and as well as the Tudor Monastery Farm, I’ve managed to watch “Nigel and Adam’s Farm Kitchen” too. The critics seem to dislike it, but I thought it was fun. However, I cannot understand why the relevant BBC recipe page puts up a very old picture of clean shaven Mr Slater, when he is now exceedingly hirsute.
I did try out one of his recipes though, with moderate success, yesterday. Having a last minute request to preach locally [a minister friend had emergency surgery and was unable to take the service] I knew lunch had to be simple to prepare. I wanted something which wouldn’t take much thought and effort when I got home [but also substantial – preaching always makes me terribly hungry]
I opted for Nigel’s Cotswold Pudding [his recipe is here] It is basically a sort of Yorkshire batter pudding, but with added veg. I made mine with the carrots, sweet potato, celery and regular shallots. These were the veg I had in the fridge. I completely forgot about adding the thyme and garlic. For extra protein, I threw in a few IKEA meatballs from the bag in the freezer, and served it all with rich gravy [from granules, but with a splash of brown sauce] and spring greens as a side dish.
I prepared the veg and briefly cooked them before I went to church, leaving them, plus a jug of batter** in the fridge. I put the dish [with mixture of Trex and oil] in the oven on auto-timer. When I got in from church, it was sizzling hot. In went the veg for 5 minutes, then I poured over the batter and cooked it through. It was a satisfyingly filling Sunday lunch on a cold winter’s day. I put the gravy in my little Hornsea ‘Heirloom’ jug, bought at the yard sale in July.
After lunch, tiredness caught up with me and I dozed on the sofa for about 4 hours!
I have decided that I have got rather a lot of jugs – last week I started arranging them along the windowsill. There are at least 6 more which are not in this line-up. I really must cull this collection – but I cannot decide which ones should go. Some I keep for sentimental reasons – others are just a good size and pour nicely.
** made from my big pack of Approved Food Batter Mix, so it cost just a few pence and was very quick to make.
Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fuelled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality. If you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.[Romans 12- The Message]