Monday, 27 July 2015

Guardians Of Ancora: Review

Premier Childrens Work magazine this month had an interesting article on a new game launched by Scripture Union.  It's called Guardians Of Ancora and is aimed at 8-11 yr olds, I thought it looked pretty cool but being in the wrong demographic I encouraged my 11 yr old daughter to download it onto her tablet and let me know what she thought.

Although we are a church going family and she attends Sunday School, she is not, how can I put this, a keen Biblical scholar.  There was an embarrassing episode a while back in church where she volunteered to go to the front and take part in a quiz, it became awkward when the quiz master started to get the congregation to shout up the answers to her while I slowly sunk down in my chair amazed at just how little she was able to to answer!  It was all taken in good humour though and a few heckles were thrown about how the Sunday School teachers were obviously not doing their job.

But there the point was perhaps made that if church going kids aren't taking in Bible stories, how on earth do we expect non-churched kids to have a clue who David was and why his story is important today?
  
And this is where Scripture Union did their research and hit upon designing a game that can be downloaded for free onto a tablet, to engage children from all walks of life and bring the Bible alive, whether they're church attendees or not, and Guardians of Ancora was the result.

I had actually forgotten I'd suggested it to my daughter and I honestly thought she'd be put off by it being Bible based, but after about a week she came up to me and said "that game you told me to download, it's actually pretty good!"  She even told me that she didn't know the story of Jesus filling Andrew and Peter's nets with fish and now she did! 

I mean, come on! Eleven years of Sunday School and they haven't covered that story?! Nearer to the truth it's probable they've told that story dozens of times but she just hadn't taken it in, we certainly are living in an era where children engage with the world differently, we are the immigrants and they are the natives of this digital age!

The game is in its infancy so could do with a few glitches tweaking, occasionally your character can get 'stuck' in the graphics and you have to exit and start again, and I personally found it almost impossible to get the timing of the characters jumps right, meaning it got very frustrating and repetitive, the advantage being you don't lose lives, so the jumps could be attempted until you crossed the gap or threw the tablet in frustration, whichever came soonest; but as my daughter pointed out, I struggled to play it because I'm not 11!

Having said that, the graphics are great, the story's easy to follow and there are lots of extras like quizzes, missions, audio stories and places for you to make your own notes and drawings which can be shared with other players or kept private.

Also at the moment there are only 2 playable quests, which she has now completed, hopefully the others will be unlocked soon or the game may lose momentum for its early players.

I think my daughter is looking forward to the next quest. (And I must admit, I am a little bit too!) 

Friday, 24 July 2015

The Prayer Course: Review

Pete Greig says in the opening session of The Prayer Course that after the six weeks we will be "better at hearing Gods voice, experiencing more of his prescence, have processed our dissapointments and struggles with prayer and will possibly even be witnessing more miracles having unlocked the power of prayer!"

Johnny Hughes responds with "I'm in!" and that was how I felt too!  Which Christian amongst us wouldn't want that?  Although I was uncertain it would 'work' for me so to speak.

Along with so many other Christians I have found prayer so difficult, sometimes boring and
even pointless; I have gone through phases of praying for everything to refusing to pray for anything, but I knew I had to get this prayer part of my life in some sort of order so I suggested to our home group that we followed The Prayer Course.

Taking the process of prayer step by step following the Lord's prayer as a guideline, it was an interesting, thought provoking and sometimes heart wrenching journey through adoration, petition, intercession, perseverence, listening and warfare.

I can honestly say that having completed the course about a month ago now and taken the time to let what I learned settle, I have had answeres to prayers that have been ongoing for many years, been able to sense Gods leading and presence in guiding me through some big life decisions I have been working with over the last year, and I have seen a miracle in our financial circumstances in that the life change I am undertaking means giving up my job and being funded by the government, the grant offer is the same amount as my wages!

I feel a lot more in touch with my prayer life now, there is more meaning and understanding behind it, I'm not just randomly waffling away to the thin air (well I kind of am, but I fully believe there's more than just thin air there!)

If you are part of a small group I would recommend it as a course to follow but I'm certain even as an individual you would get something out of watching the short video clips! 

Try it and let me know how you get on!

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Throwback Thursday - A Post From The Past

This post was first published on 26/3/13. Quite apt to choose it now as I will be blogging shortly on The Prayer Course that our homegroup have just completed.

It's often said God gives three answers to prayer - "yes", "no" or "wait".......we seem to be getting the bulk of the "no" answers at the moment and it really does make me think 'why am I even praying?' I thought I'd be really clever and prove my point by specifically not praying and then if what I would've prayed for went the right way - case proved - circumstantial!



Don't misunderstand me and think I am losing my faith, I completely know God is there and loves me and cares about what I need, but I am starting to think what happens to us in this life is very much down to our own control and circumstances, the thing is..........I can't not pray!

I have developed such a relationship that even if the answer is going to be "no" I still find peace in having had the conversation and I know I will look back at this period of time in the future and make sense of the "no's"!

So I still pray, but avoid the specific subject of our want/need at the moment! I know many of my friends are praying for the same thing for us so I leave it in their hands! Pressure!

I have found recently the easiest way for me to pray is to elaborate on the Lord's Prayer something like this:


"Father, you are the one true God,
the only God who deserves all my praise & worship.
I pray that your world will be filled with people who follow you,
& every day your work will be done.
Thank you for all you've provided & continue to provide for me & my family.
Please forgive me for the things I've said & done that've hurt you & others,
help me to think before I act & help me to forgive others who hurt me.
Help me to not be tempted by things that are not good for me
& keep me safe from things that can harm me.
In your son's precious name. Amen"

Why pray? Because Jesus taught us to, and whether we believe it or not and even when it seems like God's not there, He is, and He's listening and it'll all be alright in the end, and if it's not alright, it's not the end!

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Big Lunch and Benefits Street

I totally didn't go on the bouncy castle after church this morning, well not until I'd intimidated the little kids off of it first; I was only thinking of them I wouldn't have wanted to land on them.

Our church hosted a Big Lunch where we invited the families from the toddler group and coffee shop to join us, and after the service we had face painting, pool tournament, balloon modelling, loom bands and the aforementioned bouncy castle!

The idea behind it is to build community and for neighbours to get together with each other in their streets and share lunch together and bond I guess!  It's true not many neighbourhoods do this, I know in our street we had a shindig for the Queens jubilee as did most of the country, but aside from that I can probably count on one hand the times since then I've had a conversation with any of my neighbours.

This was highlighted to me last week as I watched the final episode of Benefits Street, seen by some as 'poverty porn', to me I saw people who cared about each other and looked out for one another and actually knew their neighbours and their needs.  None more so than Julie's friend Sue, who went door to door collecting loose change from the residents to pay for Santa and his reindeer to visit Kingston Road, and in particular Julie's severely disabled son Regan. Remember, this is Benefits Street, most of the people featured were unemployed, scraping money together to feed metres, but they were more than happy to donate to see Regan's dream realised, because they knew him and they cared.

It may be because they aren't rushing off to work each morning that they are able to forge these bonds, but I started to feel sad that in my street would I be aware of someone genuinely in need, and if I was would I do something about it?

It's somewhat easy to offer hospitality to the community from the security of our church and that's definitely a good thing to do, but how can we, if we live in a street where most head off to work daily, build a rapport with our neighbours in which we can understand their needs and offer that hospitality where needed?

Monday, 18 May 2015

The Trauma Of Pet Loss

What a traumatic weekend!  Which culminated this morning with all four of us hugging and crying while the worship team played "I'm desperate for you, I'm lost without you"...... I'm sure anyone standing nearby just assumed we'd been overcome by the Holy Spirit, but sadly, we were mourning the loss of our pet rabbit, Silk.  

Well, the kids were mourning the rabbit, I was mourning the £60 we'd spent at the vets on medicine that clearly hadn't worked!

Poor Silk, she lost her friend, our other pet rabbit Snowball, to a fox last Spring and since that tragic night I'd always felt worried Silk would meet the same fate.  

My husband came home from work on Friday night and chased a cat out of the garden and found her hiding, petrified, he brought her in and could immediately tell not only was she terrified but she was unwell and decided to summon me.

I was watching a film with our youngest two and thought it best we finish the film before we broke the news to them, it was going to be traumatic enough to discover their pet was dying, they didn't need the added trauma of delaying the climax of the film; some kids had been going into unused mine shafts looking for a ghoul who had kidnapped their friends and it was getting to the dark bit where we were sure the ghoul was going to grab one of the main characters and the tension was really building, we wanted to see this ghoul get got!

When we all got up Saturday morning we were amazed to see Silk was still fighting on but obviously not well and although we're not hugely sentimental 'pet people', neither are we heartless, we didn't want to just leave her to get worse and worse so off to the vets we went.

Apparently there was something wrong with her gut and she was in a lot of pain, so an injection for the pain, some medicine for her gut, and £60 thank you very much and she was given a 50/50 chance, turns out they weren't great odds.

Our daughters dutifully attempted to give her her medicine every half hour or so but on our last attempt, she went all floppy while my daughter was holding her, we turned her every way trying to find a heart beat, my daughter wondered how to do CPR and attempted a few chest pumps but we both agreed we weren't going anywhere near mouth to mouth. We both breathed a sigh of relief when we could feel a very faint beat, but it was short lived and she had gone.

Both girls were very brave and although teary, they held themselves together very well, gave her a last cuddle and then we buried her.

I thought they coped with losing their pet extremely well and I had been amazed at how composed they had kept themselves.....until this morning in church.  I'd said to my daughter before we left I was hoping for some really good worship, well we certainly got it because it was singing that song that opened the floodgates for all the emotions to come out!


Friday, 8 May 2015

What Do We Want? A New Voting System!

The country has awoken in uproar (well, mild grumbling) at the electing of a Conservative government - which is odd, because apparently we elected them!

Maybe I should've kept the views I was brought up with and that is 'Christians shouldn't vote' but I didn't, I got involved, I went to the hustings, I emailed candidates, I watched the Trews, and because I invested, I am now upset that the vote I cast wasn't a winning one.

But where are the jubilant voters who have done this to our Country? Not surprisingly, today on Facebook and Twitter a lot of people are upset, in fact I have only come across two voters who are happy with the result: Katy Hopkins, the lady who says drowning people (immigrants) are cockroaches, and a farcebook friend who works in education - unfathomable!  Everyone else who voted Tory is keeping their head well and truly below the parapet.

Of course if my vote had been a winning one, (which it never could be in my constituancy) many others would now be feeling upset and let down by the system, you can't please all of the people all of the time, only some of the people some of the time. (Who said that?)


I went to bed last night praying for change, hoping to wake to something new & exciting, a fresh start....turns out it's still Friday & I have to go to Asda.  Which, incidentally was a lot quieter than usual, perhaps their clientele have assessed the situation and taken their custom to Aldi, which is marginally preferable to a Food bank.

But enough of the doom and gloom, as Christians now, if this was not the result we wanted, we need to rise above it with prayer and petition, with responding to need as we see it, and being thankful that we have a voting system, albeit a pants one.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Noah 8 Track Experiment

I came across a group that are looking at different ways of studying and reading the Bible by doing various experiments.  One that particularly attracted my attention was the 8 track experiment where you look at a Bible story and pick up to 8 music tracks to tell that story.

I thought I'd have a go at the story of Noah, mainly because I know the story well and thought it would be a simple one to start with.  I went about it by picking songs I thought were suitable based on what I already knew, it soon became apparent as I read the story that I had ingrained interpretations that weren't necessarily accurate, and so some of my song choices had to go!

Here's my playlist! Why not take part yourself, it was good fun if you're into music, and it definitely makes you think about what you're reading while you're picking the music!