Friday, 16 January 2015

Happy Newish Year! From a land of snow and ice! This has been the first time my feet feel like they have touched down so far this month, with travels to London and France then back into the rush of our usual life. The weather this week has been dramatic - wet, wild, windy, freezing and snowing by turn. However, today gave the gift of time to enjoy the beauty and magic of snowy woods. My resolution is to get into them as often as I can.

Yes, it's been a loooong time since I was in this space, but I notice that many of my favourite bloggers have also had their quiet seasons, so that frees me up to come and go too. And after so much time, what to say? We are still part of L'Arche, enjoying a peaceful and happy time in the Community with a renewed sense of calling. But the professional side also has its demands, lately some studies to be fitted in somewhere, somehow. Personally I'm not very motivated by them, but they need to happen so...deep breath and get stuck in.

Our lovely chaps are growing and J is moving towards High School this year, he's probably more ready than I am! He is getting ready to spead his wings a little, and seems to be responsible when he does. For us, it is harder to know when the time is right but we are thankful for good friends who tread that path ahead of us.

Our younger son is continuing to be the creative, artistic inventor. Years ago, I had a feeling school would cramp his style a little. I'm happy to say that his school is great and his teachers have been really lovely. However, for a while we were noticing that he was losing confidence and interest. We considered a number of options. Home education wasn't possible for a number of reasons - and he does actually enjoy school most of the time. Then we came across 'flexischooling' and this was a lightbulb moment for us. So, we took the decision to try keeping him at home one day a week, to spend time with him on the things he struggled with and to focus on the things he is interested in. He loved it! And I do too, it's been wonderful to spend this time together. And his big brother has been fantastically supportive, not envious in any way.  And it turned out that this was just the right thing to do, as earlier this year he was diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum. The one day at home just gives him enough breathing space and time to be himself, to manage really well the rest of the week. How long we'll continue, I don't know, but I think that's probably up to him. For now, I'm grateful to have this time together and to enjoy the moments of grace.

Other parts of life sqeeze in here and there too. Still loving being part of our wee church community locally. Godly Play hasn't had the attention I would like to give it, but the stories sit on the shelf and when I pass them, they give me a sense of promise. Advent gave some beautiful moments for revisiting the story. On the crafting front, there were a few projects finished for Christmas, and for now, just a little bit of simple knitting, warm and uncomplicated. That's probably going to be the way ahead for 2015, trying to keep things warm and uncomplicated! And you? How's it going so far this year?

Thursday, 17 April 2014

The Art of Easter

For this Easter...something different. My husband and I were invited to offer some work to an art exhibition held at our church over these days of Holy Week. The whole building has been turned into a gallery, and the collection has been put together beautifully, with the theme 'Love.Loss.Hope: The Art of Easter'. You can see a little more here. If you are in the Highlands, do visit! My piece is a photograph entitled 'Cross Light'.

For me, it represents my walk with Christ. He calls me to 'take up my cross' which has something to do with surrendering myself and sometimes walking a hard path in trying to follow Him. However, the reality is, wherever I go, His light and presence is there. On the cross, He has already been to the darkest place imaginable for a human, and whatever I experience in life, He walks with me through it, giving me light and love all the way.

Friday, 21 March 2014


How time flies! Life continues to be full-on for the Featherglen family, but I thought I'd pop up to say a wee hello. There hasn't been time or energy to do an Easter Club, which I'm a bit sad about, but some other good things have been happening instead. Lent is being lived here in a very simple and low-key way, so I'm grateful to have L'Arche as a place to live it out in Community.  I'm still doing Godly Play here and there, and managed to get the stories of Jacob and Joseph made.

I also made these little characters, with inspiration from this lovely book. I made them as a gift for some very kind friends, who enjoy celebrating the Jewish festival of Purim each year. Like us, they are not Jewish, but as I have discovered this year, it is a wonderful way to spend an evening. We were invited to dress up in fancy dress, the children were given craft activities, including mask making, while the adults read aloud the whole story of Esther, a fantastic biblical story of courage. It is the only story in the Bible where God is not overtly mentioned, so you might say he is hidden, despite being present in the life of Esther, hence the dressing up to celebrate! We went on to share lots of good food and to relax with friends. You might enjoy this song about Purim - and some other brilliant covers by the same group, The Maccabeats. Emily also shares her experience of celebrating of Purim here.

The peg dolls were a very enjoyable project, and I found a nice box to put them, so they could be used to retell the story or just have as decorations.

In the meantime, happy springtime! We've had the mildest winter for years here in the Scottish Highlands, but ha, ha, today it snowed! They call it the 'lambing snow' here, and it can hit us any time over the next two months. However, the garden has resolutely decided it is time to flower, and I'm loving making new discoveries each day,

Monday, 6 January 2014

Happy New Year! Happy Epiphany!

After a lovely Christmas, holidays and many visitors, it's time to settle back into our usual pattern of life. However, one lovely tradition my husband brought into our family is the French way of celebrating of Epiphany, and this is a wonderful way to round off the holidays - the final feast and gathering before easing back into school and work.

Epiphany marks the later arrival of the wise men to visit Jesus. Having packed away the other Christmas decorations, it's nice to have something to cheer up an empty looking house. I also like to have a flowering bulb to put on our table after Christmas - just to help point us toward spring and to take the place of the Advent wreath.

The little boxes contain Frankincense and Myrrh . I used them in our final Advent Club. I think the children enjoyed discovering their scents. You can hold the grains in the flame of a candle and they release a scented smoke. I love the smell of Frankincense, it is so rich and beautiful.

This year I remembered a story for Epiphany. As a child we welcomed a young woman from the Bruderhof Community into our home for a while. She gave me a copy of this book 'Behold that Star' which is a Christmas anthology of stories. Most of the stories are folk tales but with Christ at the centre. Lovely black and white illustrations accompany the text. I lost it during a move so I was thrilled to discover it still in print a few years back. One of the stories, 'The Three Gifts' explores what might have happened to the gifts the wide men brought.

Along with some simple decorations and a story, the thing we enjoy most is a 'Galette des Rois'. This is a truly scrumptious French concoction that my husband makes for us each year. A recipe can be found here but we usually omit the rum. It is topped with a gold crown and a bean or little clay model of the baby Jesus is hidden inside. We always invite a few friends or neighbours to share it with us. The youngest sits under the table and calls out everyone's names as the cake is served. This ensures total fairness! The person who finds baby Jesus in their slice is the wise man - or woman.  

That person can either keep the crown for themselves or give it to someone else to be their king or queen. One of our neighbours found Jesus, and with the wisdom of Solomon offered the crown to my two sons, to have for six months each!

I must confess that I'm not really one for New Year resolutions, as I'm dreadful at keeping them. But this year I have decided to get more into the Gospel of John, and I've already bought 'Water into Wine' by Stephen Verney which was recommended to me. Ann Voskamp has produced some lovely printables to help memorise some chunks of John, so I will be heading over to her blog often this year. And you? Any hopes or plans for this coming year?

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Advent Club - The Names of God

For the second week of Advent I tried out another new story on the children. As we don't have liturgical church I can play hard and fast with what we do in Advent!  This story is based on the book 'In God's Name' by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso. It explores the different names for God and how each person has their own special name for God. At the end, the people of the world come together around a mirror-like lake, they see themselves and others reflected in the mirror. Their voices join together as they discover that God can have many names and yet be the One God.It's a beautiful book with wonderful artwork.

The story has been put together by some of the Godly Play trainers in the UK and I have it on loan for a while. It is still in development. It has the usual wondering questions but then I asked the group to bring something to place in the centre that expresses who God is for them.

As part of our activities we try to have an outward looking focus. This year we decided to make a banner to decorate the local community hall where we meet for worship. We'll be inviting guests for a couple of events this coming week, so we decided to make something that communicates who God is for us. So, building on the children's ideas, we took a long length of paper, sponged it with red, yellow and gold. As it dried, each child took a letter, spelling out JESUS, and then collaged it in the way they wished to. I provided a pile of different materials and glue and let them get on with it...Everyone was very engrossed.

Finally, when the letters were dried, they were cut out and glued on the background. I waited a week to do this, and the children had put a good coat of PVA over each letter, so they dried really securely.

This week - just yesterday, the group started the Club by writing on many names of God - the ones they chose - around the big letters. It was a good way to get ready. The banner looks superb! There is a lot of sparkly material used which doesn't show up in these photos - the light is so poor at the moment.I'll tell you more about  Week Three in my next posting...

Friday, 6 December 2013

Back at time for Advent

 Hi folks...oh my goodness it has been a long time. Our computer died and we've been limping along with a variety of solutions, we're not all sorted yet, but hopefully soon! And we have had a lot going on. We are all well but life has been very full. Hopefully more of that soon. In the meantime we find ourselves back at Advent! When did that happen? But, no matter how busy, it's always a special time of the year. We started with a celebration at L'Arche, and then my lovely local children asked if we could do Advent Club again. So, here we are. At a recent Godly Play training day, Alex our trainer showed an alternative way of telling the Advent story. I called it The Story of the Advent Wreath.

Afterwards we all made Advent wreaths using oasis rings, loads of greenery and candles. here. Some of the girls work really fast so I have learned to always a few extra choices! I forgot to take photos of their wreaths but they were much like the one we made last year:

The children did really well, especially at helping one another. Two of the wreaths were given away to older people in our village, which really touched me. I also gave the option of making a nativity set using some beautiful Holy Family Cutouts from Good Ground Press. As usual Sheila has lots of lovely inspiration here. I'm sure I'll be using some of her ideas. Hopefully I'll be back again soon. For now, it's time to snuggle in with knitting by the fire this evening. We had plenty of snow today - winter has begun!

Friday, 12 April 2013

Easter Garden

 It's become a family tradition to make an Easter Garden, usually on Easter Saturday. We take the Lent Garden and transform it with from sand and rock to plant and seed filled soil. One of my sons came around the woods to gather some of the natural elements and the other helped sow grass seeds. Little jars are tucked in place to hold flowers and candles. For the Saturday we put a big stone across the moss-covered 'tomb'.

On Easter Sunday the garden comes alive with added flowers, figures, candles and Easter decorations suspended from budding branches. The boys wooden eggs from Easter Club take pride of place.

What I love seeing is how the garden changes over the weeks that we will have it. Already a few little chicks and some eggs have crept in, thanks to my younger sons. I know there will be a variety of visitors to the garden! But somehow it brings the story of Easter into our everyday, announcing good news to all! The grass has sprouted, and now ten days later, it has had it's first haircut, with the trimmings going to our real chickens, happy for some spring greens. If we remember to water the garden, it should be with us for the whole six weeks of Easter, reminding us of new life daily.