Friday, 29 June 2007

tales of a nursery worker and a little bit more...

Over the last month I have had the joy of experiencing the high's and low's of nursery work, so I thought I'd take a few minutes to paint you a picture of what it's like...

Life working in nurseries is one where you get shown a whole lot of love by children in a way that we as adults are hopeless at doing, where children accept oneanother in spite of any frailties; where you can fly around the world and back in a few minutes, where feeding 20 children at once can actually be surprisingly easy.... Nurseries are places where giraffe's get mistaken for rats, where it is fun to eat soil, sand, uncooked rice and glitter, where I am told by a two year old boy that he has a big bum like me; where I have gained the world record for the highest number of cups of tea to be drunk in the space of 15 minutes by a non-tea drinker; where it is ok to ask who has done a poo, then use your nose to sniff out the offender, and where children love to tell you that they have just done a 'humungous' poo; where you get covered in puke and have to sit on the bus on the way home, aware that you smell of baby sick, but are just too tired to care. Don't you wish you could do this job?!

Today is moving day for me, and I awoke at 5.45am, probably because I was trying to make lists in my sleep of all the little things I need to remember not to forget. Bit by bit, I have removed the marks of me in this flat - the photos, the breadmaker, two (of our 5) cupboards filled entirely with baking ingredients and equipment, the cd's, the pretty candles, the African drums...and so from today, this house will lose its housemate who has become a recyling fiend and insists on trying to be as eco-friendly as possible, often to the annoyance of her housemates; who always gets up at ridiculously early hours and has almost mastered the art of stepping over the broken floorboards to minimise the risk of waking her housemates, but still manages to sound like an elephant; who every now and then takes over the kitchen for 9 hours to bake for 200 people. It has been a quality two years sharing this flat with three wonderful girls who I will miss very much.

I will probably not have much internet access for the next couple of weeks as it'll take a while to get it all set up, so sadly there will be a blogging break for that time.

Sunday, 24 June 2007

mother hen

well, my feminine response to the common cold (a.k.a the 'man-flu' for all you men who have not heard of such a thing) presides once again. Despite having been out last night and not being in bed before midnight, I still awoke at 6.30am this morning. Naively, I thought that just this once, I might be able to trick my body into going back to sleep. Yeh right. Instead, I just started thinking about all of the little things that I mustn't forget to pack when I move in a week and a half. My housemates are off to London today for a fun filled couple of days, including a trip to Wimbledon, so as they were up bright and early this morning, I decided to get up too. This was when the mother hen in me reared its lovely head (which I genuinely am beginning to love) as I looked around the flat and saw what a mess it was in. So, at 7.15am I started tidying. I wanted to hoover as well but thought the boys who live below would not be so appreciative of my nesting tendencies at this time in the morning. I am very much looking forward to moving in to my new abode and having a fresh canvas to inspire creativity, so to speak. I love homemaking.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

croydeliafever...

ok, so here's the post I promised...Last week involved working for the most part with lots of wonderful children who come out with some wonderfully classic comments, like, "my cat got dead. It was walking very slowly across the road and a car was coming very fast, and it got dead." and from Madeleine as we were walking back from the park, as she stopped, I asked if she was ok, to which this particularly special 2 year old replied, "yeh, I've just got a wedgie. Just sorting it out...ok, it's gone now." Legend.

On Thursday we ('we' being 23 of our friends) took a trip down to Croyde in Devon for a day at the beach. And what a wonderful day it was. I cooked a good old barbeque, using the stones as my utensils and we had rather a fancy lunch of bacon and beefburgers with salad and all the trimmings (well, nearly all). It was wonderful to have a good old swim in the sea and try and catch a few waves on the body board. The journey home was blissful - the feeling of having sunkissed skin, salty hair, and sand ingrained into your skin, along with the immense tiredness that I finally allowed to settle after a long week of being ignored was brilliant. I could totally get used to going to the beach every day.

On Friday I went up to Spitten Farm in Evesham, with 150 people from my church and another 700 people from other New Frontiers churches across the Southwest for the weekend. Due to the British weather being truly faithful in its nature, we got incredibly wet and muddy, and spent most of the weekend this way. It was a fantastic weekend where God moved incredibly powerfully amongst all who were there - the young and the old. It is amazing to see how God responds when people are hungry to meet with Himand have hearts that are willing to hear what He has to say.

Monday morning was spent manically preparing beef goulash for 10 people before going to childminding. I don't think I've ever cooked with such speed - I felt like I was on ready steady cook - how much fun would that be!?!

Over the last couple of days I have had a runny nose and have been sneezing an unusual amount - it doesn't feel like a cold so I am hoping it's hayfever - a slightly funny thing to 'hope' for, I know, but if it is, it means that a few pills should sort me out. If it is a cold, I could be in a spot of trouble, as I have been asked to sing at a wedding in 2 weeks time (which I have to confess, I found highly amusing when I was asked - I never envisaged myself singing at someone's wedding), and my cold's are usually pretty persistent. Ho hum....

what was I thinking - it's bed time, not blog time!

Every day for the past week or so I have intended on writing a new entry but I have had very little spare time. So the time has finally come, at 00:10 - a time which is usually unheard of for me to be up at. Why am I up now? because I have been out celebrating with one of my medic housemates who intercollated this year (did a degree in a year), and she got a first, the clever girl. So, after my church small group, I joined them at a Thai restaurant for a very late dinner - well, they ate and I watched! Actually, there is so much to write about that I am not going to delve in now, so this will have to serve as an appetite whetter (if that is such a word!) for what's to come...goodnight lovely people.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

To my Dad

Today is my Dad's birthday. 48 years ago today, my Daddy was born into the world and had it been any number of days or years later, none of his four wonderful children would be here today. If you haven't met him, my Dad is a wonderful man, who doesn't get anywhere near the credit he is due for all he does (but God sees it, Dad). He is incredibly committed and dedicated to everything he does, everything he is passionate about he approaches with an awesome determination. He is a wonderful father, a loving husband; he's been a teacher to probably thousands of people in the time he's been a lecturer, and has taught both the young and the old. He has an amazing ability to communicate with all ages and all types of people. He is a talented artist and a gifted musician. What a legend. Thanks Dad for all you do for our family - for the way you have always provided for us and never once complained about it; for the phenomenal patience with which you have raised us, and trusted each one of us to God. I love you very much Dad, and would love to be in Herne Bay with you on your birthday to give you a big old hug.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

play time

Today I spent the afternoon working with the wonderful toddlers of Torwood House Nursery, which consists of three four storey houses all interconnected. Pretty amazing. The kids were great - with a constant stream of runny noses, sunhats falling off, poo-ey nappies and fun. It was slightly surreal in that I just rocked up, told the first person I saw in uniform that I was Hannah from the agency and then someone took me to the kids. No-one else asked my name or told me what I should do - they just let me get on with it. It's quite funny the number of children who call you 'Mummy' after spending just a few hours with them, yet struggle to remember your name despite being told numerous times what your name is. It's also amazing just how trusting and affectionate children are - it never fails to amaze me what an incredible transition happens somewhere between childhood and adulthood that means that you stop showing affection and trust in such a selfless way...

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

cookies, cakes and children ...oh, and illegal activity

The last week was my first week of free time since finishing my degree. Much to my surprise, I found myself lying in till 8.30am, which is virtually unheard of for me, and I have to say, I am not really a fan of this laying in malarky. I know that to most people 8.30 does not constitute a lie-in, but to me, it's almost 2 hours later than when I would normally get up, so that's a good chunk of the morning for me. Anyway, the bonus of having a whole lot of time on my hands was that it meant that I could finally get stuck into working on the canvas I am doing for a friend's wedding reception (see above for a snapshot). It basically consists of hundreds of beads stitched on with a few rose petals here and there. It has been wonderful to finally get my creative brain working after a long break due to my degree.


My free time has also meant plenty of time baking yummy treats for various people's birthdays, and for lots of children. It was my flatmate Sarah's birthday on Thursday, so I made here a mountain cake, which was demolished way too quickly, but that's what happens when you've got lots of hungry friends, and when you give someone their cake with all those hungry friends there, waiting to be fed! Unfortunately Ben's birthday cake wasn't quite so spectacular, as his had to be posted to Cambridge, which makes for chocolate-mountain-transporting- difficulities.

Some exciting news on the summer job front is that I start childcare temping tomorrow! I'll also be working on Friday, and both of the nurseries are really close to my house, which is always a bonus. I am trying to value my prime housing location as much as possible for the next few weeks, as I will be doing a whole lot more cycling over this wonderfully hilly city (that has succeeded in reducing me to tears with cycling frustration during the winter months) when I move house in July.

I suppose I should give an explanation for my reference to my 'illegal activity.' Today, Katie asked me to take back a dress and get a refund for her, as I was going to that end of town. So she gave me her card and wrote her pin on my tummy in case I forgot it. All fine. When it came to getting her refund, I put Katie's card in the chip and pin thing, as directed. All fine. Then the lovely Bristolian lady put a pen down in front of me. In the few seconds of her putting the pen down and processing the refund, I realised she had put the pen in front of me for a reason. She wanted a little thing called a signature - just a formality when it comes to proving who you are. Hmmm. So, I explained that actually the card I was using was not my own so should I fake my friend's signature. In the proper Brizzle accent, I was told, 'well iss gone throughinnit so yer...ang on...'Kenya, is gone through an its not her card so she'll 'ave to sign it won't she?' Kenya, the co-worker confirmed that yes, I would have to forge Katie's signature. They were slightly unimpressed, though I couldn't determine whether their annoyance was any more exaggerated with a crim like me than with anyone else, as I had not seen their expressions change in the whole time I was in the mile long queue. They then told me I'd have to fill out 'this' which was asking for my name and address. As I was not sure whether this was to cover their backs against forgery, or just protocol for returns, I asked if I needed to pretend to be Katie again. Turned out I did, so another forged signature. I was quite surprised at how natural I looked, writing this signature like a pro - not that I am impressed at my ability to forge signatures...sorry mum and dad.

Friday, 1 June 2007

Grace...



There is something truly remarkable about grace. Grace is something that is massively misunderstood in our culture, and it's something that when we even just begin to grasp, revolutionises our understanding of God.

I am having great trouble in finding the words to explain what I want to say - I guess because I am aware of the enormity of grace, yet also incredibly unaware of just what it means for God in His grace to choose to dine with the outcasts, the sinners, the broken - all those who society in their piety cast aside and see as unworthy. To understand that grace means that even though God hates our sin, he welcomes sinners - no matter how ugly their sin is in the eyes of the world; it is not that God overlooks our sin, but that He pardons us in spite of our brokenness. What kind of a love is this? Something that a huge proportion of the world dismisses as impossible - as an ideal, a cover-up excuse for messed up people being happy when they find God.

The fact that God's grace means that even those who have spent the majority of their lives making others' lives a misery, can know God's grace, disgusts a world that thinks it understands justice.

My mind boggles at this grace, but my heart is awed by it.

I've been re-reading Brennan Manning's 'The Ragamuffin Gospel', which is an incredibly refreshing insight into God's grace. Thinking about grace got me thinking about the title of my blog. I chose to call it 'running for grace' because I want to know more of God's grace, and I want to be running towards it rather than away from it. But actually, the whole concept of running for grace is slightly paradoxical in that the whole point about grace is that we do not receive it by striving for it, but simply by the fact that Jesus' death made us worthy to receive it.

I think that sometimes I drastically miss who God is because of my striving - my running out of a desire to know more of Him. In this striving, I am becoming more aware of the reality in what Manning says about the 'graced life';

'The child of God knows that the graced life calls him or her to live on a cold and windy mountain, not on the flattened plain of reasonable, middle of the road religion.'

In experiencing God's grace, there is a responsibility to show others that same grace - even though we will mess up in this, God gives us the grace to be gracious. In knowing God's grace, it no longer suffices to live a life characterised by 'middle of the road religion', which can seem like the far easier alternative. It's a big old challenge, but one that I want to embrace...