Mother’s Day Ideas

dead-flowers

Now I know this post is titled Mother’s Day Ideas, but if you’re looking for suggestions for the ideal bouquet, where to buy the cheapest chocolates and tips on how to cook the perfect roast (you are at least taking your mum out for lunch, aren’t you?), this is the wrong place.

But what I can give you is a small selection of clips and skits which can be used in your church, either to publicise your upcoming Mother’s Day Service (you are going to celebrate the mums on Mother’s Day, aren’t you?), or as a great opener, discussion starter, or just a celebration of mums…which, lets be frank, is just what Mother’s Day is all about)

Now this has been doing the rounds on Facebook this week…a really cute little short which should raise plenty of smiles (and nods of appreciation from the mums…)

We are thinking of using this next one as publicity (and a reminder…you did remember it’s Mother’s Day next week?) for our special next Sunday. Great idea, brilliant content, and I would say it appeals to the men in the congregation as much as the women. My wife put me onto this one, she thought it was great (and who am I to argue?)

And then finally, a slightly longer (and all together great) short from the Skit Guys and their Mom Goggles…premise: they are looking after the kids for the weekend, and when they put on their Mom Goggles they see the world…differently. Very funny, very touching, I properly Laughed Out Loud at points…this is going to go down a storm in our services.

We’re also going to be treating mums with special cakes, hopefully a bit of silver service from our youth, chocolate, hand cream and George Clooney. Well, that’s the intention…if George turns up.

Of course we should be celebrating our mums every day of the year, but in case you need reminding again…Mother’s Day is next Sunday (you haven’t forgotten, have you?)

So Help Me God

I’m just emerging from a particularly busy and difficult season in my life. Our senior minister has been pretty unwell since last summer, so I was doing a lot of extra work at EBC (which I really enjoyed doing) in addition to my usual responsibilities. But I only “work” at church 1.5 days a week, and the rest of my working week I work for my own company doing royalty accounting and specialist music business advice for musicians, bands and labels. And I am very happily married with three wonderful children…who are all at school, have homework, go to bed late and still get up early…(I thought it would all change once they were out of nappies?) And I do try (sometimes!) to have a social life and date my wife…who is also working full time! So with all of the above, and of course Christmas…I was (we were!) somewhat frazzled by the end of 2014

Now I’m pleased to say I’ve come out the other side, church have been particularly kind and given me a lot of recovery space in January (I felt semi-retired to be honest…but they assured me I am wanted back….) and now we’re at the end of February, I am right back into the thick of it. And we’re again ramping up…we did a great joint service at the beginning of the month with our friends at FBC, we’re planning a big church weekend in May, service prep is well under way. I’m in the middle of setting up a new limited company to take the music business forward, there is just as much homework to do, the house needs redecorating desperately (our middle daughter Naomi has been diagnosed with severe dust allergies, so we need to rip out the carpets and remove the soft furnishings a.s.a.p.) and we’re still attempting to squeeze in a social life and actually date.

When I were a lad…

I remember from when I was but a young boy (not that long ago…) we used to listen to the Kids Praise cassettes in the car, even today I can remember most of the songs which Psalty the Singing Songbook used to sing. Do My Best came from Kid’s Praise 5, Psalty’s Camping Adventure, and the opening line was

“I can do most anything, through Christ who strengthens me. Even climb a mountain when I’m four (even three!)”

I am sure that under many other circumstances we would have just crumbled, and there are still days when it’s the most we can do to crawl out of bed in the morning. But I know I’m not doing any of this alone. We work together as a couple. We do it together as a family. We share it all as a community at our church. And we do it all through God, who strengthens, guides, and carries us when it’s too much.

This is an oldie but goody from dc Talk…so the clothes may not have dated well, but the song and the sentiment are bang up to date:

You’re there when I call
And You’re there when I fall
Even though I don’t deserve it all
You, You light my way
Through the night and the day
And from You I will not stray

So help me God
To put my faith in You
So help me God
Before I come unglued
Call it my addiction
I can’t get enough of You
So help me God
To put my faith in You

I have days, and will continue to have days where I try to do everything under my own steam, and in my own strength. But more and more I’m learning that if I share the load, stop trying to do it on my own, and look to Him who is here for me…I can do a much better job of everything. So Help Me God. 

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

OK, I admit, I am a Christmas addict! I Love Love Love Christmas…getting the family together, all of the food, carols, and of course decorations! Now I know today is the 2nd of December….but we couldn’t wait…so our decorations went up in the Kerslake house this weekend…yes, it was still November!

In years past we have looked at gifts and giving at Christmas, the colours of Christmas and their meaning, we did Simple Christmas which examined the main message once all of the trimmings and sparkles had been stripped out. This coming Sunday we start our Christmas series for 2014, and this year we have themed it on the phrase and song Waiting Here for You. This Sunday we’re using Come thou long expected Jesus, and the video above (from the SkitGuys) is superb.

Christmas is all about anticipation, whether it’s looking forward to holidays, getting the family together, or trying not to peak at the presents under the tree! And not just at Christmas, as we plan ahead we are waiting for holidays, birthdays, surprises…we even wait for the weekend to arrive! But waiting isn’t a bad thing, it can be a good thing because of what God does in the waiting.

Jesus’ coming had been foretold all through the old testament, but there were 400 years of silence between the last prophet in the old testament and Jesus arrival in the new testament. 400 years! My mum thinks I’ve forgotten about her if I don’t ring for a week or two…can you imagine what 400 years of silence is like?! And yet believers stayed faithful, scriptures were passed through the generations, and Jesus’ coming was anticipated, believed in and waited for.

While God rarely comes at our appointed time, He always comes at the right time. It’s easy to bale on God at the first sign of trouble, to worry, make new plans and take shortcuts. But there is another way, the quiet way of rest and trust.

We couldn’t even wait to put our decorations up, and are so excited for Christmas day when we can give our kids their presents, pull our family and friends together and enjoy the celebration. But that is only 23 days away…I cannot begin to imagine what 400 years of patience and waiting looks like.

How good are you at waiting?

Christmas is all in the heart

I know it’s only November, but that means that its just 43 days till Christmas! Yay!

I have always always been a huge fan of Steven Curtis Chapman…he seems to have an amazing ability to put the perfect words to the perfect tune, and then sing and play it…well, perfectly! I have mentioned him before, and no doubt I will mention him again…and again…and again…. This song is from one of his older Christmas albums, and although the haircuts and shirts may look a little dated (I did get away with a 90’s Friends clip the other week….), the song and the sentiment far outweigh.

I find more and more as I get older that the cliche “it’s better to give than receive” becomes more and more true. My kids are getting older, so the Christmas present lists change. Hannah and I still buy for each other, although these days there is so little that we actually want for, let alone need. In fact my Christmas list doesn’t exist this year…I’m happier planning the food and festivities for the family and friends that are coming with us.

This Sunday at EBC we’re filling shoeboxes for Samaritan’s purse. This is something we have done for many years now, and the effort has spread across all of our Sunday services. We’ve always had the ethos of setting aside some Sundays to do community projects…for some we shut up shop altogether and go out into the community, for this one we start with a time of worship, and then devote the rest of our service to filling shoeboxes.

There is more information about Samaritan’s Purse here, but the basic premise is that they distribute thousands of filled and wrapped shoeboxes to children all over the world, that otherwise would not get anything for Christmas. We put in toys, games, soap, toothpaste and brushes, pens and pencils, pads, cuddly toys, scarves, hats…as much as will fit!

So much of Christmas gets lost in the commercialism…the real sentiment, the humble beginnings…the real story.

Lets make sure that this year, the true story of Christmas doesn’t get pushed down the Christmas lists.

Legacy part 2

Friday has come around again, and I look back on another nice summer holiday week which has included (between work) a trip to the Tower of London with the family, food with friends and time out watching Castle with my beloved once the kids have gone to bed. All things which I will look back on with fond memories. Earlier this week I shared the great song Something Worth Leaving Behind by Lee Ann Womack, and looked at the legacies which we all leave. I thought as rather wonderful way to wrap up Legacy Week, I’d share this clip, Yes to Love:

You may recognise the couple: Isaac and Amy shared the most amazing Lip Sync Proposal on YouTube back in 2012, something we at EBC used as part of a marriage series we were doing. This video is a follow up to their proposal which they put together, and it shows the whole family and legacy that they and their parents and their siblings are leaving behind them.

The relatively simple act of Saying Yes to Love has led to 14 children and 40 grandchildren…and 35 great-grand children!

Purpose

Now I don’t think you need to purposely set out to create a legacy, I am sure most of us don’t wake up in the morning and think “I’m going to be known for…” and then set along a path to do it. But I do think we need to be aware of our legacy, and acknowledge the decisions we make will affect where we’re going, and also the trail which we leave behind. Everything we do and say has consequences, positive and negative, especially when it is dealing with other people.

Foot in Mouth Syndrome

I used to be a fan of Changing Rooms back when it was on (showing my age again…), and one of the useful pieces of advice was “Measure twice, cut once” when it came to Handy Andy and his DIY. I believe we should apply the same ethos to our words, thoughts and decisions….”think twice, speak/do once”. I have been on the end of plenty of conversations where things are said and thought about afterwards, and I am as guilty as anyone for “foot in mouth” syndrome. But simple adjustments to the way we say and do things can make significant changes.

Leaving a legacy does’t have to involve lots of money, charitable foundations, art installations or best selling albums. Legacies don’t even have to include large families and multiple descendants. But leaving a legacy must involve love at its core, and saying Yes to Love may be the first step towards leaving your legacy.

What is your legacy today, if you look back? Where do you want it to be in 10 years time?

Dreams

We use a lot of media clips in our Sunday services, as they are great for opening a service, introducing a subject and focusing on a specific topic. But probably most importantly, the right clip will appeal to all and draw people in; young or old, men and women, wherever you are on your walk…a well chosen and appropriate media will bring everyone together in a shared experience and common starting place. This is probably why we use animations so often…although it could just as much be to do with the fact I have three children, so Disney/Pixar has been our friend for many years now. 

Now our senior minister has for some reason always had an aversion to animations. I don’t know if this was caused by a particularly hard episode of Tom and Jerry, or whether he never quite got over Bambi. But in the past whenever I’d suggested a clip which didn’t have real live people in it, he tried to deflect…and it was pretty much guaranteed he’d never seen it. That said, his anti-animation stance did mean he hadn’t had to endure several Barbie movies as I have (fortunately my girls have grown out of them now, although my wife did have to sit through a particularly torturous 80+ minutes of The Moshi Monster Movie recently, something she still hasn’t quite recovered from).

Up

These days it is acknowledged Disney/Pixar can almost do no wrong in our church, their movies hitting the perfect balance which delights and entertains both children and adults, something the Muppets used to do perfectly. Today’s clip is taken from the film “Up“, a quite wonderful movie about Carl, an elderly widower travelling to South America with a stowaway called Russell who is a Wilderness Explorer trying to earn his badges. Carl was a balloon salesmen, and so when his house is threatened with demolition he does the only reasonable and sensible thing…he attaches thousands of balloons to his house and simply floats away.

The movie is a thing of beauty, full of humour and warmth, it won two well deserved Oscars. The clip here which we used for our service focuses on the opening scene, a mini movie in it’s own right. It tells the story of Carl and Ellie; from when they first met, through their highs and lows, right through to Carl being widowed, which is where Up properly starts. As you’ll see in the clip, Carl and Ellie had a dream to visit Paradise Falls in South America, and they were constantly saving for their trip. But, as inevitably happens in life, other things get in the way, whether a punctured tire, house maintenance…something always depletes their dream jar. And just when they have enough to book the tickets and realise their goal….Ellie becomes unwell.

It is an emotional roller-coaster of a story, condensed into 5 minutes, which sets the scene for the movie to perfection. But it also reflects real life; so many of us had hopes and dreams, especially when we were younger. But as life goes by and the reality of the world takes over, too often our hopes and dreams are put aside, parked, or just plain forgotten about. I remember back when I was a kid, I was full of dreams, goals and ambitions…and then further down the line when the reality of mortgages, work and having a family took over, some of those dreams were parked, some drifted away, and many were forgotten about. But I still haven’t stopped dreaming, and my goals and ambitions are different. Our goals and ambitions are different. But we still have them, and are still creating them and realising them from day to day.

Dreams

At the end of the clip, Carl is going through their photo album and on the last page there is the inscription from Ellie…“Thanks for the adventure…now go and have a new one! Ellie x”. So while I’m not suggesting that you tie thousands of balloons to your house, I do encourage you to write down your dreams, share your ambitions and go and have some adventures, no matter where you are on your walk.

What dreams have you let go of? What ambitions and goals do you have now?

They are the Roses

I have a confession.

I will admit now, openly, I do have a penchant for country music. Now I don’t do line dancing, I am very much a Brit, and although I have been to the USA a few times, I have never got very far south. But as time has gone by, and my listening has grown, I have developed a real love of country music.

The stories within the songs, the accomplished musicians, that Nashville sound, stetsons, cowboy boots… OK, scratch the last two*. I am aware of course that country music covers many bases, and so I speak of country with the broadest brush, which in my library includes Vince Gill, Brad Paisley, Martina McBride, Alison Krauss, Alison Moorer, Nickel Creek, Jonny and Rosanne Cash, Dolly (of course) and many others. And as of late Mrs Kerslake and I have been quite addicted to ABC/More4’s Nashville series…and while I’ll be the first to accept that it’s essentially Dynasty with Country Music…the music is oh so special. Guaranteed that every week between the arguing, the intrigue, the love trysts and dirty dealings, there are some great songs performed by great musicians. And as a musician myself, I am really appreciating the attention to detail when it comes to the guitars (Gretsch and Gibson are clearly sharing some endorsement), the live performances, heck even the microphone placement in the studio scenes (admittedly I probably need to get out more…)

Which leads me to: They are the Roses. (apologies for the quality of the video…it’s all I could find…)

I discovered Jessica Andrews on the Prince of Egypt soundtrack (the “inspired by…Nashville spinoff…why release one soundtrack when you can release three?) singing another great song, “I will be there for you”. So when I went hunting out some more songs, I found her wonderful album Now, Jessica’s last album before she was unceremoniously dropped due to label downsizing. Sigh…

The track is a stunner, the opening line “Born with heaven in their eyes, God sent innocence, the promise of life” . This is a song all about children, and we have used it for children’s dedications, family Sundays, Mothers Day…the list goes on. The chorus: “They are the roses, they are the lights that shine” always brings a tear to the eye and a lump to the throat, as we usually pair it (as on the video here) with baby and childhood pictures. The album is great too, more pop-country than “& western”, but great none the less. And she did all of this aged twenty (Now is her third album…) I highly recommend it as a purchase, perfect songs for a summer’s day. Here’s hoping that Ms Andrews releases something soon. And on the subject of albums, I can completely recommend the Nashville soundtracks from the TV series…

*OK, second confession, I do still have cowboy boots in the wardrobe but they’re actually leftover from my hair metal band days when we used to play Bon Jovi covers…honest…

I’ve never dated John Mayer / Daughters

John Mayer. To some, he’s Mr Jennifer Anniston/Katy Perry/Taylor Swift etc…. To many, a cute musician. To others, he is a guitar hero. I (being a guitarist myself…and having never dated him) fall into the latter camp.

Guitar Hero

I discovered Mr Mayer during his Continuum phase, when he became a serious blues guitarist and rose further to the attention of the guitar playing/chin stroking/forum discussing public. And then following this masterpiece came Battle Studies…which everyone thought was too pop. And then Born and Raised and Paradise Valley….which coupled with a move to Montana was then too country. Although of course they were (are) all great albums that sold millions of copies. I personally don’t think he’s ever produced a duff record, I do have all of his records and they are regularly on repeat…but then I am a big fan (again, I’ve never dated John Mayer)

But before that was Room for Squares and Heavier things, which this little gem comes from.

Daughters is the most perfectly sublime acoustic pop song…timeless melody, clever chords, intelligent lyrics. It’s no wonder it won him a Grammy.

I know a girl, she puts the colour inside of my world

But she’s just like a maze, where all of the walls are continually changed

And I’ve done all I can, to stand on her steps with my heart in my hands

Now I’m starting to see, maybe it’s got nothing at all to do with me

Fathers, be good to your daughters…it’s a lesson to all of us dads, that we have the responsibility to nurture our daughters for their future relationships with men*.

Rather obviously, we used this for one of our relationships series…and it is applicable and illustrative for many discussions around family, children, love.

You can guarantee that there will be more Mayer on this blog in the future….

Do you have any songs that have helped in your relationships?

*for the record, my two daughters aren’t actually allowed to date until they’re 35. Under strict guidance. With a vetting procedure. And a dowry.