motherhoodfaithfitness

sharing the joys, triumphs and struggles of faith, family and fitness!

Part 3, a day in the life of a school chaplain, other activities…

The bell sounds and lunchtime has ended, only an hour and a half left of the school day and the children can sometimes be tired and grumpy, and looking forward to home time. Sometimes I’ll use this time to catch up on emails, finding out what is going on in the area for parents and children, writing notes home, or getting party invitations or birthday cards ready. If time permits I’ll pop into a class, hang out with the parents at the school gates, or talk to a staff member about their day. 

On Mondays I run a walking group for parents followed by a coffee and chat time. We walk around the  neighbourhood and enjoy the fresh air and company, after an hour walk we are ready for our coffee. The times I spend with the parents help me to understand the needs of the families and the wider school community. Food parcels, one on one parent support, referrals to different groups and agencies, or just regularly touching base with their child are all ways of supporting and caring for the families. I have made many wonderful friends at the school, seen babies welcomed into families, year 7s graduate to high school, wept and laughed with this amazing school community.  

 

I have run a year 6/7 girls group for the last 5 years, these beautiful girls are a joy to be with. Over the years we have danced, created, painted, discussed, relaxed, dreamed, and talked about the big questions of life, from graduation dresses, to divorce, to cyber bullying to self harm to One Direction. I am constantly amazed at the pressures and worries girls of this age face, and in the light of technology and the ever increasing sexualisation of girls I feel it’s important to keep lines of communication open, discussing frankly and honestly the issues that face young women today. I love pamper sessions, last week we had a guided relaxation and foot massage, and worked together on finding other ways to deal with anxiety. 

  

I tried to find a photo I could use for “girls group” and checked out the images on Google…and every photo was of a half naked or suggestively posed group of girls, this is why it’s so important to have these chats and challenge the stereotypes girls face every day in the media and society. 

These are just some of the activities I get involved in as a pastoral care worker. If you have one in your children’s school, find out what they do, as we are all so diverse and we try to work with the needs and culture of our own school. 

  

And for a smile…here’s me as the Fairy Godmother for Book Week! 

  

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Part 2, A day in the life of a school chaplain, Lunchtimes.

Lunchtime for me depends on the day, on Mondays I set up beading and loom banding in the library. This is a great warm place in the winter months and both girls and boys enjoy creating bracelets, necklaces and key rings for friends, parents and themselves. I have done beading with the children all the years I have worked at the school, I find it is very soothing and relaxing for the students and helps with hand eye coordination as well as being a quick project that can be taken home to show to the family. Beading was always popular with the girls but  this term I have seen lots of boys coming in since I brought the loom bands and boards in. I love seeing the bigger students helping the younger ones thread beads, knot the elastic and show them how to use a loom. 
 On Friday lunchtimes I meet a couple of girls for a session based around grief and loss and anxiety. We do relaxation exercises, breathing techniques, chat through stuff and play “Operation” and “Tummy ache” board games. We often use Strengths cards to identify their areas of difficulty and most of all, where they excel and are thriving.

  
One lunchtime a month I celebrate the children’s birthdays who were born that month. This is best lunchtime activity ever! We have fairy bread, chocolate, chips, lollies and a home made cake. The children wait eagerly for the invitation to come out to them the week before. We play pin the nose on the clown, musical statues and find out how they are celebrating their birthday or what they hoped to get for a present. The food is kindly donated by the local church and Foodbank. I make the cake as for some kids it’s the only cake they have for their birthday, so chocolate butter icing and sprinkles are very necessary! At the end of the party the children each get a present from the party box, again donated from lovely members of my church, little cars, bracelets, hair ties, pencils and erasers, small gifts that the children love and are grateful for. I am blessed to have a number of faithful ladies who make birthday cards for the children too. Many children tell me years later they have kept their cards, the power of something made with love and care is tremendous, and the children feel valued and celebrated. The birthday parties have to be one of my favourite roles as a pastoral care worker. I am constantly blown away by how such a simple and easy 40 minute party can bring so much joy and excitement to a child, whether they are 5 or 13!   

The role of a pastoral care worker is to celebrate each life, and help the children find their value, purpose and hope. A party is a perfect opportunity to show every student they are important and worth throwing a party for! 

Roll on Friday…it’s the June party!!! 

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A day in the life of a school chaplain, part 1

School chaplain, Christian pastoral support worker, Pastoral care worker, these are the 3 job titles ive held in the last 5 and a half years of working at a local primary school. The job title changes with every change of government it would seem, so I choose to call myself “friend”. 

There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding about what a school chaplain does, so I’ll enlighten you about a typical day. 

I get to school early and run a program called Get Ready Club, where the kids can come, brush their teeth, get their hair brushed and styled, gelled and spiked, plaits, ponytails, and get a little glitter for the day. They earn stickers for each time they come, and can win a prize at the end of the term!  

I regularly have 20 children a day come through, and it’s a joy to see their happy faces coming in, sharing their news and excited to see their friends in the morning. Get ready club not only addresses the physical needs of keeping teeth clean and hair tidy but provides a social and caring aspect at the beginning of their school day, which for some children is a huge factor in whether they will have a good or bad day. 

After the bell goes I help run a Playgroup in the school, we are “SA Playgroup” affiliated and have families from both the school and wider community attend. It’s great to see mums, dads and grandparents bring their little ones along. We are a very friendly and relaxed playgroup, with crafts, free play, fruit and music time. The song time is my favourite part of playgroup, playing my guitar along with the merry band of tambourine and maraca shaking toddlers, who love the songs whether I hit a bum note or sing out of tune, a perfect audience! I attended a music and movement workshop last month and it gave me lots of ideas to integrate learning opportunities like numbers and colours into song time as well as songs that use the whole body, dancing, clapping, twisting, using those large muscle skills, and songs that use fine motor skills like Incey wincey, and Twinkle twinkle.  

 

After singing the goodbye song, we wave our families goodbye and clean up. I then run a year 6/7 boys cooking group, where I take a small number of boys and we make, bake, chop, slice, and prepare delicious and (usually) healthy food. I try to use ingredients that are fresh and good value. Last week we made a vegetable soup for under $8 and it fed the whole class. Cooking is a great time to connect with these young men, chatting about their day, school, sport, home, girls, crazy movies, games and jokes. I laugh a lot! I love hanging out with these boys, and I know they love eating food, so cooking is a great medium to do both, and it teaches them so many kitchen skills that I’m sure their parents and future partners will appreciate! 

So that takes us to lunchtime. As you can see a school chaplain supports, listens, has fun, cares and is there for the school community. It’s not my job to “Bible bash”, judge, be a holy roly or brain wash people, it’s simply to show love, kindness, respect, and grace, just like Jesus said to. 

Part 2 to follow….lunchtime and beyond! 

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Daughters of Sarah update

A little group of women have been meeting in a chilly church office the last few weeks. We have laughed, we have cried, we have been silent and we have talked incessantly (until the timer goes off!) This is Daughters of Sarah, a course that helps relationships, with yourself, with your Hubby and with Father God. 

So much to learn, so many stories to hear and share. I am finding it both challenging and rewarding, (they kind of go together don’t they?) The daily devotions, the worksheets, the homework, the conversations with loved ones, they all add up to a lot of investment, of time, energy and focus. But with investment comes reward, with labour comes birth, with growing pains comes an enlargement, a development. I am learning so much about not only the brave women who are open and vulnerable about their lives, their families, their marriages, but I’m learning about myself, my life, my family and my marriage. We are all on a journey to deepen those relationships, but most of all to draw closer to the giver of life, family and marriage, Father God. 

My verse in thinking about for this week is:

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭15‬:‭1‬ NIV)

 
So many of my conflicts and hostile interactions with others could have been spared if only I had lived by these words. But the past is gone, a new day is ahead, so I’m praying for gentleness and patience. 

If you are interested in this course you can find details at Nina Roesner’s page or at Greater Impact Ministries

 
 

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Sleep, free but a mum’s luxury! 

Back in November I posted a list of 20 things that would be beneficial for me to start or continue doing. 

Here’s the picture if you missed it last time.  

 

A fine list to endeavour to follow.

Today I am focussing on number 6. “go to bed earlier” 

My 2 year old son is awake and firing on all cyclinders anytime between 5-5.30am. I have found myself longing to go back to bed mid morning, and if that works and daddy is about, I can do that, but when it’s a work day, or I have several errands, appointments or play dates organised I have to trudge on, wearily. Now I don’t know about you but my mood is severely affected by lack of sleep (or food). Sleep is a great luxury as a mummy, but often at bedtime I’m still bustling about, watching tv, checking facebook, texting friends. So again I’m challenged to get to bed early, switching off the phone and spend that time in a bedtime devotion or writing in my journal. I then wake up a little less irritable and more willing to play cars, pack lunches and stack the dishwasher at 5.30am. I am still using this time to stretch, read my Bible, eat a healthy breakfast and prepare for the day ahead, this is all so much easier when you don’t feel like death! 

  
When I have “enough sleep” (that’s an oxymoron right there) I have energy, I have enthusiasm, I’m positive, I recover from sickness of mind and body much quicker, sleep is awesome! I just wish I remembered that on an evening! Get sleep and the whole world is a better place! 

  

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The Respect Dare, Daughters of Sarah and my new Gym buddy! 

Last year I completed a book called The Respect Dare. The 40 days of “dares” are based on research that both men and women need mutual love and respect to have a happy healthy relationship (Gottman).  As a woman who’s been married a long time, (23 years) I find it pretty difficult to be respectful at times, there are habits that annoy me, tendencies that frustrate me and general niggles that all couples face. The Respect Dare helps you focus on the positive, look for ways to encourage your hubby, and work upon your own “issues”, be they childhood, learned behaviors, cultural expectations, or simple pigheadedness! Our relationship with each other and my self awareness and walk with God deepened and grew over the 40 days. So when Nina released a 14 week course to build women and grow relationships both marital and with God, I jumped at the chance to lead a small group. This course is called Daughters of Sarah.

Last week 4 women and I met together in a church office, huddled around a lap top and eagerly anticipating what we could learn and how we would develop. It is a privilege to journey with women of faith, flawed but hopeful, with dreams and visions of the future, with hearts full of love for God and looking to be transformed and become more like Christ. Our relationships with our husbands will be changed forever, our self awareness will be piqued, our faith journey will be nourished as we walk the path together. We’re on week 2, and I’m blown away by the conversations and discussion so far! Here’s looking forward to the next 12 weeks! To find out more information on The Respect Dare or the Daughters of Sarah course, have a look at the Greater Impact website or Nina Roesner’s blog. I can sincerely recommend it. John Gottman‘s research and website is really interesting and helpful too. 

 As for hubs and I, today we joined the gym together, I’m so excited! I have a gym buddy again. Going back to the gym after an almost 2 year hiatus was like coming home! So many hours spent here, friendships and fun memories have been made, as well as kgs gone and iron pumped. I’ve realised that stretching and working out at home isn’t always productive with a dog or 2 year old jumping on your back or licking your face, so back to the gym it is, and I couldn’t be more pumped! 

  

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Lord, I want to be a cheerleader! 

if you’ve been following my blog or know me personally, you’ll know I want it all! I’m not talking money or possessions (unless it’s Black Milk goodies) but I want to live to the fullest, achieve whatever I can in the short years I have on this planet. I want to make a difference, push my boundaries whether it is physical mental or spiritual, see it all, feel it all, do it all! 

 Ahhh here are my favourite Disney twins, singing “I want it all!” (Happy happy place!) 

I get told constantly “you do too much” and I wearily agree, but how do you decide what dreams, passions, commitments need to go, or be put on hold? Obviously my family, home life and work commitments are non negotiables (and I wouldn’t change that for the world). But where does social justice, community involvement, exercise, study, friends and hobbies come into the equation?

My last post was about maximizing my early mornings with my sweet toddler, who gets me up super early and won’t let me out of his sight for at least an hour. This is going really well, my devotions, journaling, Bible reading and stretching are happening. It’s the best way to start the day, along with a hot lemon drink and healthy breakfast. Feeding the body, soul and spirit first thing is awesome! 

  
Still, I want more…

This week I went to a seminar by Melinda Tankard Reist (activist, founder of Collective Shout, Women’s and girls advocate, etc etc) about the sexualisation of young people, called “Too much, too soon”. What can I say? I was blown away! The industries that prey upon the children and adolescents of today need to be brought to reckoning. (I’m going to write another blog on this as it deserves as much attention as possible.) Anyway I came away thinking “What can I do?” “How can I be part of the solution instead of turning a blind eye?” This is my dilemma, so much to do, so many valuable causes and battles to fight, but I am one woman, and I have my limitations. I am surrounded by beautiful amazing women who visit brothels, rescue animals, home school their children, run businesses from home, represent child sponsorship, cook from scratch, represent Australia in ultra marathons, run an organic farm, raise big beautiful families, run soup kitchens, welcome new arrivals to Australia, and the list goes on… women I am privileged to do life with. So I guess my role is to encourage, pray for and support these legends while walking the path and following the destiny set out for me and me alone…..

However i can be a cheerleader! 

I can sign petitions, I can send a note of encouragement or even a text to say I value them and their work, I can donate money or supplies, I can cheer on my girls and help them reach their goals and full potential. I can speak about the great causes and works they are doing. Let’s encourage one another and build each other up! We can’t do everything alone, but we can work together to help our husbands, our children, our extended families, our neighbourhood, our suburb, our country and even the ends of the Earth! Goooooooo Team!!!!! 

 

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Morning routines, a time for renewal and refreshing! 

I have a little boy, who doesn’t like to sleep! I’m writing this as I’m patting his back whilst playing piano lullaby music on spotify. Not only does he not like to go to bed, he doesn’t like to stay in bed either. With daylight savings, his new wake time is 5am. When I say wake time I mean full on, jumping around, telling me hilarious stories, and demanding “I want to eat!”. My mornings have been mostly bleary eyed, in ugg boots and my daggy dressing gown, watching episode after episode of “Paw Patrol” and counting the moments until daddy gets up so I can crawl back into bed. Not a great way to start the day! 

This is what I’m told by society I should look like…ready to face the day, fit, fantastic and fabulous! 

  
In reality, I look like this… 

 
And I bet if you’re a mum of a preschooler you do too most mornings! 

Anyway because I’m such a busy beaver, working studying loving worshipping poling cooking crazy lady, I decided if I couldn’t change my wake time, I could change what I did in it, watching Paw patrol is not on my bucket list, though it entertains my bairn for a little while. 

Then I found a blog post: http://blog.paleohacks.com/the-perfect-morning-routine/ and it is amazing, a little on the hippy dippy side for me but hey, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water and check out the ideas for starting your day right. 

So the night before, I squeezed my lemon juice, prepared my chia yoghurt, found a morning devotional, a journal and got my yoga mat out, ready for the morning, I even prepared the weetbix and sippy cup for little mister! 

 
The next day…5am start, I sipped my warm lemon water, I read my 5 minute devotion and journaled 3 things I am grateful for, (how do I stop at 3? I have SOOOOO much I am thankful for!) I stretched on my yoga mat for a few minutes and then went outside.it was still dark, and cold! I took my uggys off and walked in the cold wet grass for a minute. It was a bit chilly, but quite a pleasant experience, not sure if I “discharged all my negative energy into the Earth” but it felt ok, and certainly woke me up! Meanwhile my son was still watching Paw Patrol and was oblivious to the writing, stretching, sipping and walking in wet grass Mummy was doing. All up it was probably about 20-30 minutes. It felt really great to do something productive, meaningful and intentional with the first few minutes of my day, and it certainly set me up to have a more positive and healthful day. I had nourished my mind, body and soul and all before 5.30am.

This week I have tried to continue this routine and it has been great. As long as my son has his breakfast and tv, and knows mummy is there to answer his funny questions and cuddle him whilst I write, he is happy too. 

Multi tasking, ‘finding the time where there is no time’ is an art, and I’m not there yet, but I’m working towards it. As for being tired…yes i am exhausted, but I try to sneak a nanna nap or an early night in most days. I’ve realised that sleep is a beautiful gift I can give myself, and I should grab it whenever I can, and if not…

 
This is my prayer, Now I’m off to squeeze a lemon and get my chia seed yoghurt ready! 

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Take 2, maybe 3!

Goals are mystical things, they move, they grow, they disappear sometimes. They have the power to overwhelm or motivate. The secret is to set sensible achievable goals.
My four goals for the year are:

1. Read through the Bible in a year
2. Study 7 units of my degree
3. Get middle splits
4. Run another half marathon

How am I going? I’m a month into the year 1/12 of the way through. Am I progressing?
Yes, and no!
These are all long term goals so I haven’t achieved or been able to tick anything off yet.
But…I have completed a month of my daily reading plan. the bible in one year and am up to date! Win!

My second goal of study has been going well too. I am currently doing summer school and the unit is on Positive Psychology. I am absolutely loving the subject, it is so close to my heart and I definitely want to implement these theories into my everyday life. My first assignment on Happiness received a distinction which I’m so delighted with.

My third goal is a long term one, I’m about 6 inches off the floor in middle splits and I know those last few inches are the hardest and most painful…but I’m not giving up, I watched the tennis last night while stretching, my poor hubby had to endure me rolling around on the floor while he was trying to watch the game!

My last goal of running has fallen a little behind schedule, the combination of squeaky knees, hot weather, exhaustion from a 5am riser aka my son has impacted on my training.

Rather than be discouraged I have come up with a plan that will rein in my goals and keep them under my control rather than overwhelming me,
Work on at least two a day, the Bible reading is always on the list, and then pick one or two of the others. On work days two is all I can manage, but other days I can often manage three, depending on family commitments, assignments due and physical health.

Breaking goals into bite size chunks really helps me focus and not get disheartened. If I’m working on two I’m doing well, if I get three done I’m overjoyed! But no matter how I do today or yesterday, tomorrow is a brand new day!

P.S Today I read my Bible, studied for a couple of hours and plan on stretching while the men’s tennis is on!

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Middle splits progress

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Bible reading progress

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Take my life and let it be….

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.” Romans 12 v 1 (The Message)

Today is Sunday, for many of us that means church, family, rest, recreation. A time to organise and prepare for the week ahead and reflect on the week that was.
I’m singing in church today and one of the songs I have chose is:
“Take my life and let it be, consecrated Lord to thee”
It’s an oldie but goodie and the message is clear, take my body, take my time, take my mind, take my love, take my all and let it be used for good, for a kinder world, for Gods work.
Whatever your belief system, I think this is a valid and useful exercise. I commit my life into Gods care and try to be the best that I can be, with His help and grace. You may interpret that as living the best life you can, for others, for the good of your community, for your health and family.

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Presenting my body for Gods purpose and pleasure means, looking after it, keeping it healthy and working efficiently, this includes medicine, exercise, nutrition and how I treat it. Where I take it and what I do with it is important too. Our bodies and lives are amazing gifts to us, whether you believe in God or not. The clichéd “you only get one body, treat it well” is true, as is “we only get one life, live it well!”
So use this day wisely,
with family, with friends,
in reflection, in hope,
with kindness, with gratitude,
for others, for your soul,
Preparing, reflecting,
Offering and receiving,
Loving and living out your identity and purpose.
Have a blessed Sunday!

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