A bit of fun

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Hurting and rejection






There are so many people hurting and suffering from rejection in our society. When we look into someone's eyes the evidence is clear when there is pain attached to the inner soul. 

Psalms 56:8 You have kept count of my tossing; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?

Indeed all of our tears are recorded in God's book, in God' heart, in God's compassion. How incredible it is that God recognizes every one of our tears. He gazes at them in the bottle and cherishes them. He mixes his own tears in with them to heal them, to heal us. 

Our God is the only God who came down to earth to live, heal and grant forgiveness. His tears are united with ours in such a passionate and personal way that he understands our hurts and rejection deep down in His Spirit.  
From that blessed place God will raise you, wipe your tears and give you new life. 

Psalms 71:20-21 You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again. You will increase my greatness and comfort me again.

This is God's promise to us. Stand on that promise and accept God's healing. 

We are beloved by our Father. A father who cries with us. When we understand His broken heart, we will understand how to love and our hurts and rejection will be washed away in the Blood of the Lamb. 

God knows all about a broken heart, because we have broken his heart many times throughout history, and unfortunately we continue to do so. But he has never given up on us and He never will because he pursues us with a passion. Therefore unite your broken heart with his and accept His love and forgiveness for all those times when you have been hurt or rejected. Your life can change by being united with the Character of God.


Saturday, 15 November 2014

Forgiveness

When I am in pain all I can think about is the pain. All my attention focuses on the area that is hurting.

When Jesus was hanging on the cross, the pain throbbing in his heart, mind, nerves, and body must have been excruciating. And yet his focus was not on himself and his physical pain. He looked out from his position on the cross and said "Father forgive them for they know not what they have done."

His whole focus was not on himself but on the world of man. In his most vulnerable moments when the physical pain totally encompassed his body, He thought of us. He asked his Father to forgive us. His soul and spirit cried out for us the perpetrators of His misery. 

This takes my breath away. 


When I have been hurt and have been the recipient of a bad word or action from someone, my reaction often is to reject them. To turn away from them. I doubt I would say 'Father forgive them'!  I would probably want to get away from them and have nothing to do with them for sometime. 

Without forgiveness, the result of that encounter and its pain will then go into a compartment somewhere in our mind's filing cabinet. There it will fester and grow. The relationship with the person who has dealt that blow will get worse and may even disintegrate. It might be the beginnings of a family fall out (if the words or actions were from a family member) and that could then spread over the years or even the generations. 

Jesus' forgiveness on the cross was not only for those who had nailed Him there, but for the generations to come. 

This is an important point. Our forgiveness is not only for the person who has hurt us but also for the generations to come too. If our family see us not forgiving then they in turn will not understand the importance of forgiveness. The seeds from these actions will produce runners. And what do runners do, they multiply and infect the gardens of not only our hearts but the hearts of our children, their children and those yet to be born. 

Have you ever had to overcome a garden full of voracious weeds that have taken root and embedded themselves so deeply that pulling them out only takes the tops off, and so returns another day to spoil and reinfect. Your hard work of clearing the ground is fruitless because the only way to get rid of the weeds is to dig the root out. So often we cannot be bothered to do the digging because it is too time consuming and also hard work. We might hire a rotivator to do the back breaking work instead. However, if we still continue to live an unforgiving life those weeds will come back because they have a propensity to find fertile ground to grow in. In other words an unforgiving heart, as that will be a fertile ground to bear weeds not fruit. 

God set the standard for forgiveness. The Bible is one long story of forgiveness. From the sin of Adam to the present day, God is constantly forgiving us. Extending his arms to receive us, His prodigal sons and daughters. He gave us his most precious possession, His son, to show us the extent of His forgiveness and love. 

Who are we then to deny forgiveness?

Who are we?

If we are Christians we are failing our Father in Heaven if we do not forgive, because forgiveness is love. We are not representing God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit. We may as well be those clashing cymbals as stated in 1 Corinthians 13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 

If God can forgive us, we must not deny this Grace to others. We cannot call ourselves followers of Christ (Christians) if we do not forgive. And that means any amount of acts against us, however small or large. It means everyday things as well as the monumental global occurrences. 

The Father Heart of God weeps for us each time we do not forgive. His Heart is broken. 

We break His heart when we do not forgive.

And our hearts become more and more like stones.

God promised us this in Ezekiel 36:26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you, your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 

If we truly want to be Christlike we must want a new heart and a new spirit. This cannot happen if we do not allow love to command our hearts. The gift of forgiveness will not grow in us unless our hearts are broken by God's love. 

God teaches us through everyday events, he gives us ample opportunities to learn forgiveness. Unfortunately so often we see them as personal attacks and not opportunities to experience God's heart, His love. 

Remember what he taught us in Matthew 14-15 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.  

And again in Matthew 18:22 when Peter asked Him how many times we must forgive. Jesus answered, "I tell you not seven times, but seventy-seven times."  

Do we know who the God is that Micah talks of in 7:18-19?

Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. 

We too must not be angry forever, but delight to show mercy just as our Father in Heaven does. 

Forgiveness heals, it heals you and the person who sinned against you. If you pluck that weed out immediately it will not have time to take root. 

Immediately you forgive pour Christ's precious blood onto the person and into the situation so that it is purified. 

Then we will know who our God is.

Don't allow unforgiveness to become an idol in your life. There must be only one God in our lives. The God who forgave and opened the gates of Heaven to us. We must only worship Him. 




Thursday, 6 November 2014

Wake up church

I feel like shouting from the roof tops "Wake up church" and I mean all churches.

I don't know who wrote this comment but it just spoke volumes to me:

"To receive you need to give.
When you give without strings attached,
you attract more."

This is so true and churches need to take note. If the churches gave without strings attached, more would be attracted. We ought to go to church (any church) because we love God, not from the fear of what might happen if we don't. God gave His love freely, so why do churches attach strings? Churches need to wake up to the call of God's Love and cut the strings, so that more can receive and be attracted. 

God came down from Heaven to earth through His son, Jesus Christ. He came to us and said believe and accept the Good News. He gave us freedom from our sins and access to Heaven through Jesus Christ. It is by His Grace and His Grace alone that we are saved.

To receive we need to give - God gave us Jesus Christ.

When you give without strings attached - God came to us.

You attract more - God's arms are outstretched waiting for us. 

When churches accept this formula people will be attracted by their unconditional giving. 

This is Love.

This is what church needs to be.

We need to stop discouraging God's people from being attracted to Him by our strings. 




Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Another review for "How to make Victoria Sponge".

A big thank you to Dana who herself has written a wonderful book called "In the Cleft: Joy comes in the Mourning" - her book is definitely  well worth reading. 

Review written on Goodreads and Amazon.com

http://www.amazon.com/How-make-Victoria-Sponge-journey-ebook/dp/B00NKDCWEG/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1414522511&sr=1-1


's review  
Oct 28, 14

5 out of 5 stars 

Read in October, 2014


Margaret Kazmierczak's book How to make Victoria Sponge was incredibly compelling. I fell in love with the Sponge family. The character, Victoria Sponge, continually responds to life's messiness with love and grace. 

In the most heart wrenching moments in the book, especially after her son Johnny is maliciously bullied at school, Vicki turns to Jesus so his love can smooth over all the rough spots. I found myself laughing and crying about the daily events this family came up against, yet how graciously Bob and Victoria (the mother and father) responded to their children and to their day-to-day challenges. 

One quote that was highlighted to me in the book was when, after a really traumatizing day, Victoria says, "may I have planted [Jesus'] seed into the lives 
of others through my work and actions, so that when [Jesus'] rain shines upon them they produce a rich harvest." To me, this is the theme of the book--seeds being planted even on the weariest of days. Nothing can interfere with Christ's love being lived out on a day-to-day basis. 

On her most gritty day, Victoria has her evening prayer and Jesus says to her, "Vicki, I asked you to be with me in the Garden of Gethsemane, to stay awake and be of comfort to me in my time of anguish. You were not found asleep or failing in your response." Vicki then asks, "When was I in Gethsemane Lord?" He gently responds, "When you listened to your son's anguish I was weeping too and when your heart was breaking at the sight of your son's agony, my sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood." 

Victoria's intimacy with Jesus during her most trying moments is what made me love this book so much. We can all find ourselves in this book, and in doing so we can live our lives differently, full of grace and hope and love even during despairing times. I would highly recommend getting to know the Sponge family in this beautifully written book.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Wow what a review of my book!

Praise God for such a wonderful review of my book called "How to make Victoria Sponge". 

I hope more people will find this book and be blessed by it through this review. 


Review posted by Traci Lawrence on Amazon.com kindle version. http://www.amazon.com/How-make-Victoria-Sponge-journey-ebook/dp/B00NKDCWEG/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1414150736&sr=1-1

This book is powerful in so many ways that I don’t even know where to begin! A major part of its power is in its uniqueness. I love the mixture of intense themes and slapstick humor. Specifically, I love the mixture of messages learned through comic situations and tragic situations.
The main character, Victoria Sponge, works in a preschool. This is the vehicle that the author uses to sweetly teach us some important life lessons. A few of the skills that Victoria learns from her students follow: stay grounded, live in the present, take a hands-on approach to life, keep it simple, be humble, be pure, and trust in God.
Some of the important issues addressed in the book include bullying and dealing with mental challenges.
The book is full of wonderful quotes. My favorites are “With Me everything is possible for those that believe.”; “Take something positive from a situation even when it presents itself in a negative form.”, and; “Never underestimate your potential.”
The ending of the book was completely unexpected, mind-blowing, and empowering. It was so unique and profound that it moved me to tears. To say that it really made me think would be an understatement.

I highly recommend this book to all!

Sunday, 19 October 2014

When we have good intentions

Rejection

It is hard to be rejected when your heart is in the right place and your thoughts are only to offer others a slice of something that will encourage and bless the person(s) who will read the contents of your offerings.

Such was a recent experience when I approached a Christian magazine who only saw my attempt as one of blatant advertising of my product. And my crime, asking if the magazine would like a free copy for them to review. The answer was abrupt, 'no we do not want to review your book', and as an afterthought 'but we wish you the best with it'. 

I can almost hear the Pharisees and the High Priests saying the same thing to Jesus. 'No we don't want to hear your message, but good luck with the Kingdom thing'.  

How can you know if something is for you if you don't even give it a try? If you don't open the book and read it. The same can be said of the Bible. Once you have read it (or feasted on the fruit of the content) then surely you are in a better position to make a decision. 

People rejected Jesus and He had a Kingdom to offer, so it isn't surprising that a humble first time author will be rejected. What did he do with the rejection? He carried it to cross and by His blood it was set free. Hope for me then! 

God bless 

Margaret 

Thursday, 9 October 2014

A small story with a big message.

A Jewel in the Sponge - Johnny's story

So far I have not mentioned the 'added extra' that comes at the back of the book "How to make Victoria Sponge." 

Once I had finished Vicki's account of her week, I knew that Johnny's story needed to be told as well in order to encourage other's who struggle with being different. 

In the main body of the Victoria Sponge's book, Johnny writes a letter to his mum. It bought tears to my eyes as I wrote and read it back to myself. It reminded me of the difficult times I  had had as a child. No one wants to be a square pin in a round hole especially not a teenager. But there are many adults who experience this feeling deep down too and grapple with self doubt, unworthiness, low self esteem or think themselves unimportant or not good enough. 

This small book is for all of God's children who need encouragement and a greater insight into God's awesome love for those that are different. In His eyes everyone is equal and enormously lovable. 

After writing the letter Johnny receives a visit during the night from God who takes him on a very important journey. 

I hope you will decide to go on that journey too and be hugged by Johnny's story. 

To wet your appetite here is Johnny's letter.....

    “Dear Mum  
   I am sorry for the things I said to you. I don’t hate you mum, I just get so angry inside with myself for being me. I don’t understand who I am, but thank you for your love, for knowing my limitations and accepting them.
   I feel like I am serving a life term in prison. I see you standing out of reach; I try to reach you but my body and mind are trapped behind the bars. I stretch my arms as far as possible but the bars prevent me from reaching you, from hugging you, showing my true feelings. I am a prisoner unable to escape the cell of my disability.
   I long to be free to express my inner self, to be part of your world, to join in and be like everyone else. I hate being different, trapped in a parallel world. A world alien to you and the family. Seeing, unable to partake. There is no key, not even a lock to put a key into, no release.
   I am a reluctant prisoner, confined indefinitely, with no reprieve date. What heinous crime have I committed to be serving this sentence? How do I find freedom?
   I may not show it but I do love you, I always have.
  Thanks for hanging in there for me.
  Johnny.”

Monday, 22 September 2014

Church is a hospital





If someone says to you in church, "Why is she/he here?" and points to a lady or man who is known to be a liar, cheater, abuser, user, or all round stirrer remind them that church is a hospital for sick people. 

Mark 2:17 When Jesus heard this, he told them, "Healthy people don't need a doctor- sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners."


God sent His son to heal us. He made his church a free sanctuary for all those that are sick and that includes everyone of us. None of us deserve His mercy and attention and God does not practice privately only for those that can afford it. His prescriptions are free of charge, ready to be collected through His body the church. 

If the churches were full only of self righteous people the church would be very sick. 

Don't judge who is sitting in the pews, praise God that they are there and that by God's Grace they will be healed of their sins. 

We need to celebrate God's open arms to all the sick and embrace them in our churches, minister to them by our love and non judgement so that they see the light and ask for forgiveness and healing. That includes the shepherds and the flock, none of us are spotless. 

If we are to see miracles of healing in our hospitals/churches then we need to be open receivers of the sick and dying souls that sit among us. Pouring love into their wounds and offering solace to their failing hearts. We need also to be observant of our own sins at the same time and asking pardon for our own sickness that causes us to judge with a false righteous mind.

If there is no healing in our churches and they appear soulless perhaps we need to heed Jeremiah 8:22  Is there no medicine in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why is there no healing for the wounds of my people?Are our own prejudices keeping the sick away, are we pouring the medicine down the drains with our opinions and lack of love? We must be mindful of God's question: "Why is there no healing for the wounds of my people" (and we must add) in this church?  

Let us all sing these words from Psalm 103:2-4 Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits-who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,  who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion. 

Father may we not be responsible for turning away the sick from our churches but be the forerunners of Your Love and compassion. Amen



Saturday, 20 September 2014

God's Kingdom is here



John 16:33 Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.  

How emphatically do we believe this? 

If we understand the meaning of this text then we have nothing to fear as God's kingdom is here because he has overcome the world. 

So often we live our lives believing the lies that are spoken around and to us. We sink into darkness because we listen to the lies that say we are ugly, we are stupid, we are not worthy, we are not good enough, we are full of sin, we are not lovable, we are useless, we are bad parents, we are terrible daughter's/son's, we are not successful, we are hopeless and helpless, we are basically a failure. 

Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. 

Who has overcome the world? 

God the Almighty, God the Creator, God the Potter, God the Maker, God of the Universe. 

It is this God who made us, this is the truth. God did not make mistakes, he did not make any mistakes, he did not make you a mistake. 

So why do we listen to the lies. 

God has overcome those lies that we listen to. His kingdom has come in the Truths. 

I am beautiful, I am intelligent, I am worthy, I am good enough, I am forgiven, I am lovable, I am useful, I am a good parent, I am a wonderful daughter/son because I am God's child, I am successful because God made me, I am hopeful and helpful, I am God's creation, made in the image and likeness of God himself. 

The evil one hates these truths, he wants us to be downfallen, to be crushed, to be unhappy, to be depressed, to disbelieve the Truth. He loves it when we bow our heads and give in to these lies. 

I have overcome the world. 

This is the Truth. It is on this Truth that we can lift our heads up high and say Amen, and not Oh man.

God has overcome the world, his kingdom is here. Sing and dance for joy because we are living in the kingdom of Truth. 

When we feel the lies creeping up on us, we need to embrace the Truth. To stamp out the lies with the Truth. To pray thank you that God has overcome the world. To praise this Truth. 

The evil one will try to derail you, he will use every cunning means to convince you that the kingdom has not come yet. He will whisper false lies into your life. He will use the media, family, friends, anyone he can to shatter the Truth. 

Do not listen.

Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. 

God is the Truth. Listen only to Him. 


Monday, 15 September 2014

Thursday, 11 September 2014

How to Make Victoria Sponge - Sample One of Chapter One


To all those who are interested in a Christian novel that speaks about everyday trials and triumphs and wants to know how God is mixed into them then please read and enjoy this sample of my book. God bless Margaret.





How to make a Victoria Sponge

1.  Take one recipe book off the shelf and follow the instructions
2.  Pop cake into the oven
3.  Trust temperature and cooking skills


How to make Victoria Sponge

1.  Take recipe book
2.  Throw it in bin
3.  Trust God 





                                   




Chapter One

Monday

Morning Prayer

   “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.”- Jesus of Nazareth; John 10:27-30

   Monday six fifteen in the morning and the alarm wakes me up for a new day. 
   My first words are ‘Yes Father’ although I do not know the question.
   Then I praise God for my husband Bob and my four children. Henry my eldest, Gabby and Johnny who are twins and lastly Lily Pink my youngest.
   The day begins very quickly with a yell.
   ‘Where’s my school uniform?’ Henry declares, ‘Where’s my PE kit?’
   Of course the items are in the wardrobe, but for a teenager that is like saying they are on Mars. They don’t see through doors and can only identify something if it is on their floor.
   ‘Look in your wardrobe’ I suggest helpfully.
   ‘It’s not there’ Henry replies.
   I wonder if he has actually looked and pop my head into his bedroom. Henry is still under the duvet.
   Oh Lord, give me eyes that can see and ears that can hear. Give me a love that is patient, kind and tolerant.
   I suggest that my son gets up and has another look, this time opening the door of the wardrobe. I dare not venture inside his room as it is a health and safety nightmare. First I might catch something and second I may end up in hospital having fallen over an object on the floor.
   Oh Lord, please help me to keep to the straight and narrow road that you have prepared for me. But when I stumble and fall remind me to look where I am going!
   I hear Henry yelling again, as I descend the stairs. He can’t find his pants now. Then there is a rather large clonk.
   ‘Oh that frigging drawer, why doesn’t someone fix it?’ he says frustratingly. 
   Oh Lord and carpenter, fix and heal those things in me that are troubling my soul and keeping me away from your presence.
   From the commotion coming from Henry’s bedroom the drawer sounds like it is being relocated, probably with all the contents still in it, to the other side of the room.
   Oh lord, may your peace descend on this household!
   With the bacon spitting and the kettle steaming, toast popping up rather blacker than anyone likes it, I ask my husband, Bob to watch the breakfast cooking, and then I ascend to the room of another teenager.  Dare I knock?
   Oh Lord, give me courage in the face of tribulation and strife, help me to see beyond the darkness into the beauty that I know is residing somewhere behind this door.
   I knock; will it be a good or bad day today? Nothing stirs. I sheepishly put on the light.
   ‘Good morning dear’ I say.
   ‘I’m behind you mum’ I hear. I jump out of my skin; Gabby is already awake and smiling. What a relief, it appears to be a good day. I sigh and say a thank you to the Father. Gabby is looking a picture of happiness.
   Oh Lord, thank you for this moment of joy.
   The smoke alarm starts to penetrate my being; its ear piercing wail puts my nerves on edge.
   ‘Something’s burning!’ Bob yells.
   I’m sure it is the bacon. When I return to the kitchen Bob is sitting at the computer not nursing the bacon, no wonder it is burnt. All that remains are charcoal remnants. Bob then leaves the computer and places a couple more slices into the frying pan and cooks up a meal that resembles an edible form. 
   Oh Lord, help me to rejoice for the help I receive however late it may be.
   Back upstairs I trudge, two more little treasures to awake. I decide to check on Johnny first. He is still sleeping even though his alarm is trying its best to wake him up.
   ‘Johnny’ I say quietly. Nothing.
   ‘Johnny’ I repeat with a little bit more gusto. Nothing again.
   ‘JOHNNY’ I yell as loudly as I can. But still not a peep or any sign of movement, so I pull the duvet off his head. No wonder he can’t hear me he still has his ear phones in.
   Oh Lord, so often I am deaf to your calling, because I would rather do my own thing. Help me to listen to YOU.
   Gabby enters her brother’s room.
   ‘Uh Johnny, your room stinks, open a window.’
   She brushes past me and takes out his ear phones. ‘Its half past eight, you are late.’
   A bemused young man looks up at his sister; she must appear bleary without his glasses.
   ‘Stop winding your brother up, it’s not that late’ I say to my daughter.
   She prances off to do her make-up and then all hell breaks out.
   ‘No you can’t borrow my make-up, go and use your own.’ Lily Pink, Gabby’s younger sister says in an irate voice.
   Oh Lord, so often I am late in talking to you about matters that concern me. I know that you don’t mind being bothered about my needs and long to hear my requests. Help me to remember that we only have to ask and we shall receive.
   Gabby and Lily Pink have an off/on relationship and today it seems it is an off one.
  ‘Well thank you very much, I am going to be late now because I can’t find my foundation’ she yells. The girls share a room which is divided by a curtain down the middle to give them each a little bit of privacy. Their make-up takes up most of the surface of their individual chests of drawers; however Gabby also uses her floor space too, the carpet having been ruined by spilt or trodden on remnants.
   ‘All I want is a little bit, oh, you are so selfish’ she says.
   This is not an argument that I want to be part of so I walk downstairs again and am handed a welcome cup of tea.
   Oh Lord, it is easy to become argumentative and angry during the course of the day. Help me not to be selfish and distracted from focussing on YOU.
   I believe that two elephants are descending the stairs as the racket is deafening.
  ‘Mind the light’ the kid’s father reminds them as they jump the last four steps. Too late, there is a ping and the light blows as Henry head butts it out of the way. Johnny is the first to the kitchen and picks up a plate with eggs and bacon on it. His hair is all over the place and it looks and smells like he did a spot lick instead of having a shower.
   Oh Lord, wash me clean from my sins and renew my flagging spirit.
   ‘Thanks mum’ he says and opens the fridge. He downs a pint of milk in one go and puts the empty bottle back. He then takes half a loaf of bread for his lunch and leaves for school.
   ‘What about your sandwiches son?’ my husband asks.
   ‘I’ve got them’ he calls out, not realising that the half a loaf of bread was for the other sandwiches I need to make for the hungry mob that is left. 
   Oh Lord, give me wise words to feed my children with each day. Help me to point them to your LOVE and quench their thirst.
   I quickly defrost another loaf of bread in the microwave. Henry meanwhile is bemoaning the fact that Johnny drank all the milk. I reassure him that the milkman will be here in a minute with enough for everyone. The telephone rings, it is Johnny; he has left his maths book at home. As soon as I put the phone down it rings again. Surprise, surprise it is my son again; he needs his science folder too. My husband and I search the possible places that might camouflage the two items but we find nothing. Gabby who has vacated the bathroom and ventured downstairs, holds up a wet plastic folder.
   ‘Do you think Johnny needs this?’ she asks. Thank the Lord it is the science project, not only is it wet but it is sticky with some sort of fluid all over it too, but at least it has been found. Unfortunately, the maths book is still elusive.
   Oh Lord, thank you that you are not elusive. Help me to seek and find you in all things, both great and small.
   Gabby looks like a million dollars and much older than her fourteen years. My breath is taken away by her beauty. I am not sure if her make-up is part of the uniform, but she assures me that it is in compliance with the regulations. I suggest that she pulls her skirt down and she agrees to unroll it a fraction. Gabby doesn’t do breakfast, but removes the empty bottle of milk that Johnny left in the fridge, has a cursory glance at the rest of the contents and then closes the door. Well I suppose she looked at the food. She stuffs her pocket with snacks for the bus ride and takes her sandwiches and drink. Gabby air kisses us both, takes Johnny’s folder and departs for school. Henry meanwhile is still waiting for the milkman.
   Oh Lord, you blow me away with your beautiful creation. You have painted a masterpiece from an empty canvas. Nothing is bland or ugly in YOUR vision, so help me to see everything through YOUR eyes today.
   Johnny appears at the front door, he is worried about his maths book. He is almost in tears as he doesn’t want a detention. We search the house again and then I search Johnny’s rucksack. I find it in the front pocket looking more like a fly swat than a book. His relief is very apparent and he rushes off with a hasty thank you. He bumps into the milkman who drops our long awaited delivery. The milk smashes on the drive way and splatters all over our son’s blazer and trousers. But Johnny just brushes himself down and runs as fast as he can to catch the bus.
   Oh Lord, thank you for finding me when I was lost and alone. Help me never to lose sight of YOUR way.
   Henry is now upstairs on his computer; he loves to cut everything fine.
   ‘You are going to be late Henry’ I call out.
   ‘I won’t be long’ he calls down.
   The front door bursts open, it is Johnny again.
   ‘Where’s Henry?’ Johnny asks anxiously.
   If Henry isn’t on the bus with Johnny he panics. I am not sure what he will do when Henry leaves school and Johnny is left to do the journey with Gabby.
   Oh Lord, often the road seems long and hard when we are frightened. Give me courage to walk the path you have chosen for me each day.
   Henry swings down the dogleg stairs and picks up his school bag and I toss him his sandwich box and drink. He hugs his brother and tells him not to worry so much as they have plenty of time. They try to leave the house side by side, but the door isn’t wide enough and once they sort out who is going first they slam the door behind them. From a distance I hear my husband’s exasperated voice.
   ‘Don’t slam the .........’
   Oh Lord, please protect my children as they start a new day. Help them to cope with the ups and downs of school life and support them in their friendship issues which will invariably challenge them today.
   I hear a little voice coming from upstairs.
   ‘Mum, I don’t feel very well, can I stay at home today?’ questions Lily Pink.
   She has the shortest distance to go to school as she is in the last year of primary education. It is just a short walk away and Lily Pink usually makes the trip with some of her friends each morning. I take a look at her face, her tongue, feel her temperature and generally use a sympathetic tone stating that she will be much better at school if she makes the effort.
   ‘But my tummy hurts’ she pleads. I sigh, but don’t give in, as I have to go to work today.
   ‘Please’ she whines. I stand firm and help her to get dressed. At 10 she is perfectly able to do this herself, but she likes the fuss and decides that perhaps she can struggle in today after all. She gives me a hug and a kiss and says that she will be alright now.
   Oh Lord, bless my youngest child and help her to be brave in all that she does. Thank you for her smiles and cuddles that light up her face and make me feel warm inside and remind me of your loving gaze as you watch and care for us in our daily lives.
   There is a commotion downstairs, rushing of feet, a yell of ‘where’s my keys’ and the door slamming again. I look out of the bedroom window and see my husband with Henry and Johnny. They obviously missed the bus so need a lift into school. I look at Lily Pink and think how pretty her blond curly hair is. She is so different from the others, she has brown eyes and an olive toned skin. I am not sure who she takes after, perhaps she is an off shoot from a distant relative.
   Oh Lord, thank you that we are all unique.
   Lily Pink has a hearty breakfast of bacon, sausage and egg washed down with fruit juice. So maybe her tummy ache is better now! She packs her own bag and gives me instructions as to what she wants in her lunch box. All sorted she messages her friend to say that she is ready. Her thumbs travel over the key pad at an alarming rate and then stops for a second before answering another message from another friend. I am beginning to wonder if we will evolve into a thumb only race. I mean what do you need the other fingers for?
   Oh Lord, I am not sure how we keep up with all the technology that floods our market place. Thank God that you are consistent and we can rely on your presence in an ever changing world.
   The doorbell rings
   ‘Don’t worry mum, I’ll get it as it is bound to be for me!’
   My daughter has a better social life than I do! But it is good to see her happy and excited about life. My shoulders relax at the thought that I have managed to complete the first phase of the day without too much hassle. Now it is my turn. Shower, get dressed, breakfast, teeth, lippy and prepare bag. The bathroom is strewn with wet, soaking towels thrown on the floor. Shampoo drips from its container into the bath and the soap is sliding around precariously close to my foot which is about to step in to the shower. I have let the water run for a little while to warm up. As I think about the delights of washing away the stress of this morning’s preschool antics I step under the shower head. IT IS COLD. I jump back out of the way shaking with the shock of being drenched by such a stark realisation that my family have left me with no hot water. I grind my teeth in frustration and mutter impure thoughts about each of my offspring. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
   Oh Lord, I understand that the first shall be last and the last shall be first. But could you organise a warm shower for me just for once. I have served my family this morning and the least I ask for is a little bit of consideration. You said ask and you shall receive, well I am asking for a shower with hot water. It’s not much!
   I do a quick over the body flit with a kettle of boiled water into the wash basin. Spray lots of all-purpose smelly all over, smudge some lipstick on and throw a few things into my bag. I forget to have some breakfast and open the door to the outside world. Oh great, God is having some fun because it is pouring down with rain. By the time I walk to work I will have had a shower. And who said God doesn’t have a sense of humour!
      And as I walk in the rain God says:
     Vicki your prayer today was ‘Yes Father’, even though you didn’t know what the question was. My dear daughter you have been holy this morning through your service to your family. Be blessed by my outpouring of the Holy Spirit into your everyday situations.  
   Eight forty five and the team are nearly ready to open the doors to the preschool where I work. There is a bubbly atmosphere and the fact that we work in a church building helps us to focus on our service to the children in our care.
   Oh Lord and teacher, help me to be open to the needs of the children today. May our enthusiasm rub off onto the children so that they can believe that they can attempt anything that we have prepared for them or they initiate for themselves. 
   As the doors open there are eager faces from both the children and the adults. The young ones run in and some put their coats on their pegs and others just throw them at the hooks. The parents follow by picking up their child’s coat or nipping out quickly after their charge into the main room. All ready for the action, some have found the activities and start building, climbing or enthusiastically greeting friends they haven’t seen since their last session. With the image of a happy child resting calmly on their hearts the adult leaves content that all is well and they say their goodbyes. Some children are too absorbed in their world to say goodbye.
   There is one child who refuses to leave their parent and starts to become hysterical. I gently encourage her mother to walk away and look through the glass door from the hall way. I create a distraction for the little one and after a few screams of, ‘I want my mummy’, and she slowly looks around to see what the other children are doing.
   Oh Lord, sometimes leaving my comfort zone is very scary and I would rather not make that move. I might have a tantrum or thrash about, pushing against the idea. When this occurs Lord, help me to be brave and take your hand knowing that you would never lead me to some place that I cannot cope with.
   When all the children have arrived we sit them down on the floor and the manager tells them about the exciting morning ahead of them.  The team have already been allocated their duties so everyone knows the general run of the morning’s session. I get to do the creative stuff and toilet duty!
   Oh Lord, if only my day was written down in a book with easy instructions of what and where to do and go, life would be so much easier. Instead my world is crazy and confusing most of the time. Grant me the flexibility and patience to cope with all the dramas each day presents to me.
   My remit is the Art Room today, making bubble pictures. I sit ready with a straw in hand waiting for my first three year old to appear. But instead of one keen pre-schooler, four arrive at once eager to get paint all over them. One dives straight in not wanting to hear instructions, another asks for help with their apron, the next starts drinking the paint through the straw and the last just stands there watching, looking very hesitant. I deal with the paint drinker and get the first child to put on an apron otherwise he will be covered in red, blue, green and yellow before he finishes his masterpiece. Then I gently encourage the little girl who doesn’t appear to want to join in. I take a piece of paper and blow red paint onto it, then accidentally slip with the paint and end up with a blob on my face. She laughs, thinking this is very funny and slowly applies her own finger which she coats in yellow and draws on my face. The ice is broken and before you know it the shy eyes have gone and a beautiful picture covered in bubbles produced. My little student is delighted with her efforts.
   Oh Lord and artist, how overjoyed You must be when we overcome our fears and try to bring colour into our lives. Help me to mirror your beauty to others through the gifts You have given me.
   A teenager on work experience joins me and figures that I am not in control of the children’s play, so she suggests kindly that I might like to go to the toilets and clean myself up! Several more children arrive in the room who don’t want to get their hands messy. This time the children and I decide to produce a collage which, of course, involves me first getting my hands painted. Eagerly the group slop the colours over my outstretched hands. At this point a preschool assistant pops her head into the room and laughs at the state I am in. Surprised at the reaction of another adult to my chaotic condition the children realise that it is okay to have messy hands, so the aspiring artists get stuck in. They make swirls and blend colours on a large sheet of paper, dotting hand prints in any empty spaces. My teenage shadow decides after a while that perhaps getting down to the nub of the problem means that a hand on approach can reap many rewards.
   Oh Lord, help me not to prejudge a situation before I have the whole facts. Help me to be humble in my opinions and generous in listening.
   With the art session over the room has to be cleaned up for snack time. Paint is wiped off all surfaces, including my face and hands; with pots, straws and other items taken out for washing. The tables are put together to form little areas for socialisation and eating. When all is ready the children are seated and we show them how to pass and share the fruit with each other. Some little ones like to dominate while others sit and survey the proceedings. Drinks are handed out and a general noise of chomping, slurping and plate moving fills the air. All is relaxed until someone spills their drink. Chairs scrape, shrieks are emitted from other children, tears flow, cloths appear to mop up the fluid, and wet clothes are replaced with dry clean ones.  Quick, calm, efficient, loving.
   Oh Lord of Calmness, when storms gather and life seems to take on a wobble or two, enable me to stay grounded and firm in Your power.
   With snack time over the children are taken outside to let off some steam. There are scooters, trikes, and little cars, push chairs with dolls in them, a playhouse and a climbing frame. All manner of things to keep the young mind happy and occupied. Meanwhile I am in doors changing the pull up of a lad that doesn’t want to wear another one. I try him on the potty and he sits happily doing nothing. After he says he has finished and with some coaxing I achieve the job of putting a clean pull up on, only to see the little boy going red in the face and pushing very hard!
   Oh Lord, mess happens. Give me strength.
   I strip him down, trying to keep him distracted with ‘Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall’ smiling as I sing. He chuckles, is it my singing or the fact that he has given me a present to clean up?!
   Oh Lord, how many times have you had to clean up after me? Thank you for your patience and love.
   Having finished this service, I take the little boy outside where he instantly rushes around feeling free and at peace with his world. It is truly amazing to see children with arms outstretched embracing their world. No worries, just enjoyment of the present. We can learn so much from these young ones.
   Oh Lord, you said ‘bring me the little children’, and ‘unless you become like children’…. Help me to see and trust You by embracing the simplicity of a child’s view, uncomplicated and pure.
   With outdoor play over we head back indoors where we get the parachute out. There is a lot of excitement as the children love this activity. The rules are explained as usual for their safety and an adult stands next to the smallest girl to make sure that her feet stay firmly on the ground when the parachute is in full flight! Hindsight is a wonderful thing! I cannot help but smile and laugh at the little faces as they ooh and ahh at the rising and falling of the piece of material. After a bit we let the youngsters go under it and lie down while we shake it vigorously over them. There are shrieks and screams of delight, their trust in us complete. They emerge with hair standing on end and an excited cry of ‘again, again!’
   Oh Lord, help me to fly with you through the winds of enjoyment that come unexpectedly during the day. Help me to catch these sudden air currents when they present themselves and use them to glide me into your presence.
   We let the children have another go under the parachute and then play a little game with them to see if they know each other’s name. When the parachute goes up two names are called out and the two children have to swap places. Davy looks bemused as Lucy heads for his place. He doesn’t want to move and she wants his handle. He pushes her and she falls down, tears well up from Lucy and Davy just looks at her. He doesn’t understand what the commotion is all about and runs off.
   Oh Lord, it is so easy for me to misunderstand other people and to feel hurt by their actions. Please heal my lack of understanding and help me to discern their true intentions.
   An assistant leaves the parachute activity and sits down close to Davy. He is standing with his arms folded and tapping his foot. He is confused and angry by the situation that has just occurred. He doesn’t want to hear about his actions and closes down his receptors. My colleague is gentle and compassionate towards him and diverts his attention by bringing out a little puppet from her pocket.  She talks to the puppet and uses it to talk about being kind to other children. Davy slowly unfolds his arms and makes a request to see the puppet. He talks to it, vents his anger at what has happened and then punches it several times before throwing it away. He is a lot calmer now and moves towards the assistant laying his head in her lap and closing his eyes.
   Oh lord, sometimes a problem seems too large for me to handle when I cannot see a solution. When this happens help me to rest my head in your lap knowing that you are the answer to everything and can bring healing and solace during these times.
   The fun with the parachute is nearly over and Becky, the manager of the preschool, suggests that an adult crawls under the colourful material. The children are allowed to choose who. A chant goes up and it appears that it is me who they want for this treat. I get down on my hands and knees and crawl into the middle of the parachute. As the swishing and laughter grows louder the air underneath builds up and it sounds like there is a storm brewing above me. The parachute goes up and down and side to side wriggling over my body. It is a funny sensation knowing that you have no control over what is happening. By the time it all stops I am completely blown away and my hair is standing on end. I must look a state but the children all think it very funny. When the parachute is folded up and put away, some of them come over and give me a hug and tell me how funny I looked when I emerged from the experience.
   Oh Lord, thank you that I am able to laugh at myself, even when it puts me in a vulnerable situation controlled by others. Help me never to lose that trust in YOU knowing that you always have my best interests at heart, and are in control of my life even when I am not.
   We sit the children down for a quiet time with a story. As I make myself comfortable on the floor several children come and lounge on me with big smiles. Everyone loves story time. What will it be about today? Oh, it is my favourite, ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’. The children join in with the verse that runs through the book, ‘you can’t go over it, you can’t go under it…..’ it is a wonderful end to a fun filled morning. As the mums, dads, grandparents and carers begin to filter in to collect their charges, we see the excited faces on the little ones as they scan through the expectant faces looking for a familiar smile. They run to their adult with outstretch arms and full of news about their morning. One child hugs her mum and then decides she has forgotten something, she turns and looks at me and rushes back to give me a thank you cuddle. A perfect end to a morning full of service.
   Oh Lord, how you delight when I rush to you with all my news whether it is good, bad, celebrating or complaining. You love to hear all about my day. Thank you for always being available when I need to share.
   But this is not quite the end of the session for the rest of us, who have to tidy away all the efforts of the day. All the outside toys need to be stored in their shed and the indoor toys stacked neatly away in cupboards for another day. The floor needs to be hoovered and records written up. I share with the other members the highlight of my art morning and they talk about their experiences. We eat chocolate and relax, happy to be in one another’s company. The team is supportive and challenging towards each other. I enjoy their company and the time spent in this way. It is a different kind of busy ness in my life as it is not in the confines of my home. I can leave it behind me at the end of the morning, hoovered and clean, and find it in that state the next day! It is an atmosphere of sharing with everyone helping, supporting and carrying the load together.
   Oh Lord, thank you that You see me for whom I really am. You see the beauty and the warts and You still love me. Even though I hoover on the outside there is so much to spring clean on the inside; but You are gentle and kind, encouraging and compassionate, patient and challenging, always prepared to support me when it is time to spring clean.
  And God said:

   Vicki, you have delighted me all morning with your smile and laughter, what a wonderful daughter you are. I am so proud of you. Thank you for bringing me to work with you today. For some people the only Bible that they see or read is you.