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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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 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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Freedom from fear…don’t look back!

Don’t you just love the feeling when you wake up in the morning and think…today is a brand new day!
A day of possibilities and potential.
A day to start again…
As I was taking communion at church this morning I reflected on the meaning behind it.
Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we are free to start over again!

I’ve had a rough year…there…I’ve said it. There has been a lot of fear, uncertainty and anxiety. But I’m ever thankful for my closest friends and family who have been there for me and most of all to Jesus who has been with me every step of the way. When the path ahead was rocky or unstable I knew He was right beside me, carrying me at times and wiping away the tears.

When you go through “stuff” whether it is an illness, separation, crisis or life upheaval, it’s hard to remember that after all the tumult has subsided and things are sorted out…you are free!
When we bring our prisons of frustration, guilt, fear and doubt to God, He is able to break us out and let us escape.
It could be the all clear at the doctors, a healing of the spirit, a restored relationship, forgiving yourself or another or knowing the peace of God after a time of unrest.

So often we live in the fears and prisons of the past, forever looking over our shoulder at the demons we have encountered on our journey, never really knowing in our heart that we are free!
The Bible says “Whom the son sets free is free indeed” John 8 v 36
And “Walk in newness of life” Romans 6 v 4
If you are experiencing rest after a battle or given a second chance to start over again, then walk in it, celebrate it, dance like nobodies watching, sing and praise God. Don’t look behind…don’t go back to that place of fear, you’ve been set free my friend! Don’t dwell on pain, fear, “what ifs”, doubts and insecurities. Put them behind you. Take a deep breath, pray for strength and walk in freedom!

Time to start again, and enter a brand new day!

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How healthy are you?

This week I went to a training morning as part of my role as a CPSW (school chaplain).
The morning was called “Restoring balance, avoiding compassion fatigue”
It was a great session, we learnt about the physiological responses to stress and how amazing the human body is in the face of stressful situations, think fight or flight, hormone response, or “what happens when we encounter a roaring lion!”
We looked at the different kinds of health…
Physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual health, and what we do to build up those areas.
Eg physical health may be nourished by eating healthy food, exercising, and getting medical check ups. Spiritual health might be nourished by spending time in prayer, talking to others of your faith, or listening to uplifting worship music.
I loved the part of the morning where we did a self assessment of how healthy we are, in all areas.
We used a chart which showed us what areas needed to be worked on and a piechart to see where our time goes, whether we spend more time caring for others than ourselves. As a mum I think we are always going to be busy with the needs of others…nappies, feeds, baths, storytimes, taxi service, watching sports, attending parent/teacher interviews, parties, washing…the list goes on and on and on!

Some of these activities are nourishing for the soul too, watching your child playing with a toy, enjoying the hilarious conversations and getting lots of snotty kisses are all wonderful mummy moments, as well as these there are many other ways for me to recharge and renew my health,
I love working out, I love my quiet times with God, I love going for long country drives with my hubby, I love eating meals with friends and family, I love receiving a gift from a loved one, I love learning and expanding my mind.

What fills you? What brings health and strength to your body, soul and mind?
It’s easy to burn out with the demands of others;
work, family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, community, even pets add their own demands.
We can’t help or care for others in the long haul if we don’t care for ourselves too. Take some time this weekend for yourself, do something that nurtures YOU! Set aside some time to plan “you time”, read a book, go for a run, watch a sunset, have a yummy dessert with a friend, learn to loom band…whatever fills you, give yourself the gift of that time.
After all how can we “Love our neighbour as ourself” if we don’t first learn to love ourself?

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World Kindness Day

It is World Kindness Day today! What a lovely sentiment. Taking time to be kind doesn’t have to cost a thing. It can be an encouraging word, a smile, a wave, a hand stretched out in compassion or arms that hug a hurting friend.

IMG_4430.JPG What simple act of kindness can you do today? I’m looking forward to the return of Elsie and Elwyn our Kindness Elves on December 1st. I have lots of ideas for this years missions and acts of random (and intentional) kindness. If you have children or grandchildren, this is a special way to focus on the beauty of Christmas. It highlights the true meaning of the season to me, one of peace and goodwill to all. My children have Advent calendars but this is a practical and proactive way of preparing for the birth of Jesus and spreading the joy around. I bought my elves from Cheap as Chips, but I’ve seen homemade ones, barbies dressed in elf outfits, Lego elves and even soft teddies used. Mommy savers have some ideas to get you started and The Imagination Tree is the home of the original Kindness Elves. It’s a fantastic site with lots of crafts, fun, and creative play ideas.

IMG_1044.JPG Here are Elsie and Elwyn, our family Kindness Elves. Do you have any suggestions for our missions? I’d love to hear them! Be kind to all, and don’t forget to start with yourself!

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Procrastination…the thief of time!

One of the 20 challenges I’m trying to do is to “stop procrastinating”
There’s a saying “Don’t put off ’til tomorrow what can be done today”. Wise words…
I wonder what are some of the reasons to procrastinate?

Mine are…
I can’t be bothered,
Other stuff needs doing,
I’ve got plenty of time to get it done,
Oh look a shiny object,
I wonder who’s on Facebook?

I bet you can relate!
Not procrastinating takes energy, and focus and discipline sometimes. Doing the horrible chore, finishing an assignment (or worse…starting one), going for a run, doing your tax return or contacting someone who you need to talk to but know it will be awkward. These all require a level of motivation, whether it’s ticking a to do list, a reward after finishing it, or the satisfaction of a job well done!

What motivates you to get stuff done?
At the moment I have an essay to finish and my monthly spot at worship leading at church to plan, but it’s hot, and the paddling pool needs filling up, tea needs to be cooked, washing has to be put out and there’s lots more time tonight when the children are asleep…..see it’s not so easy is it?

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But as I was thinking about the peril of procrastination it dawned on me that it can be very dangerous, and lead to the tragedy of a half lived life. If you have children you may be familiar with the phrases “Not now, maybe tomorrow”, “Next time we will”, “Perhaps in the holidays”.
How often are those promises kept? It’s so easy to put things off, there’s always pressing needs and other “stuff” to do. But how about instead of putting that bike ride, that beach walk, that story time, that baking session off, if we grabbed the opportunity if at all possible, and if not making a firm time or date to do it. How many more memories and fun times we would have. When we make that awkward phone call, what relief we feel, no more worrying about how it might turn out, when we get that horrible chore out of the way, we can be free the rest of the day from the nagging of what needs to be done and get on with life!
So I’m watching the children playing in the pool, enjoying the sunshine, the laughter of my boys and sun on my face, because actually I’ve been promising to get the pool out for ages, but guess what…I put it off! I can plan the church songs while I’m watching,
It will be an easy tea and I will finish my assignment tonight. Everyone’s happy!

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