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Eve restored

I was reading an article about women in the Church today. And as I was talking about it to my husband afterwards, a thought struck me.

You know Peter, he of the three denials? Remember all those sermons you’ve heard about how Jesus said “Peter, do you love me?” three times, thus showing he was forgiven and restored to full relationship with God and no less than the disciples who had not deliberately denied Him three times?
Probably you do. It’s a popular theme, and a good one.

Here’s the thing.

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.*

And then:

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”**

Eve brought sin to the world. And the Gospels, without exception, tell us that womankind brought the first news of the resurrection to the world. Forgiven, restored, no less than.


there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.***

*Genesis 3:6, NIV
**Matthew 28:8-10 NIV; see also John 20:18, Mark 16: 7 and 10, and Luke 24: 9-10
*** Galatians 3:28

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Lent Bible readings v 2.0

I posted my original set of Lent Bible readings for children here back in 2010, and thought now might be a good time to update. Last year we shuffled it all around a bit to include stuff Nutmeg and Froglet don’t know as much about and leave out the stories they already have on their bookshelves. I know it’s a bit early to post about it, but I wanted to get it down somewhere so I can recycle the piece of paper I have been keeping the details on since last year!

Page numbers refer to The Children’s (Good News) Bible, edited by David Edwards, as that’s what I use because of Guido Bertolli’s lovely illustrations – see picture, courtesy of amazon. But I’ve included chapter and verse for everyone else. The references jump between books a bit as I’ve tried to pick the same segments used by Mr Edwards. They aren’t in chronological order, but begin with things Jesus did and then move on to things Jesus taught, followed by the Easter story.

I have included Sundays in our reading schedule, so below are the 39 days leading up to Holy Week, and then Holy Week itself, counting down to Easter Sunday. There are paragraph breaks before each Sunday, to help you keep track. This year Lent begins on Wednesday, February 13th.

1. The Baptism of Jesus Mtt: 3: 13-17
2. The Temptation of Christ Mtt 4:1-11
3. Jesus calls 4 Fishermen Mk 1:14-20
4. A man with an evil spirit Mk 1:21-28

5. Jesus heals many people Mk 1:29-34
6. Jesus preaches in Galilee and makes a leper clean Mk 1:35-45
7. Jesus heals a paralysed man Mk 2:1-12
8. Jesus calls Matthew Mtt 9:9-13
9. Jesus chooses the apostles, and his mother and brothers: Mk 4: 13-21 and 31-35
10. Jesus rejected at Nazareth Luke 4: 16-30
11. Jesus heals a Roman officer’s servant Luke 7:1-10

12. Jesus raises a widow’s son Luke 7:11-16
13. Jesus and Simon the Pharisee Luke 7: 36-50
14. Jesus heals a boy with an evil spirit Mark 9: 14-29
15. Jesus calms a storm Mark 4: 35-41
16. Jesus heals the man with Legion Mark 5: 1-20
17. Jairus’s daughter and the woman with the issue of blood Mark 5:21-43
18. The feeding of the 5000 Mark 6:31-44

19. Jesus walks on the water Mark 6:45-52
20. A woman’s faith Mark 7:24-30
21. Deaf and dumb man Mark 7:31-37
22. Jesus on loving enemies (p.227) Matthew 5:43-48
23. Jesus on prayer (p.228) Matthew 6:5-13
24. Jesus on possessions (p.229) Matthew 6:24-34
25. Ask, seek, knock (p.230) Matthew 7:7-12

26. The Greatest Commandment (p.233) Matthew 22:34-40
27. Who do you say that I am? (p. 238) Matthew 16:13-20
28. Jesus speaks about his death Mark 8:31-9:1
29. The Transfiguration Mark 9:2-13
30. Who is the greatest? Mark 9:33-37
31. Jesus blesses the children Mark 10:13-16
32. The Rich Man Mark 10:17-25

33. Sending the 72, and their return Luke 10:1-12, 17-20
34. Jesus heals a sick man Luke 14:1-6
35. Humility and hospitality Luke 14:7-14
36. Mary and Martha Luke 10:38-42
37. James and John’s request Mark 10:35-45
38. The blind beggar Luke 18:35-43
39. Zacchaeus Luke 19:1-10

Holy Week:
Palm Sunday: The Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem Mark 11: 1-11
Monday: Jesus goes to the Temple Mark 11:15-19
Tuesday: By whose authority? and the plot against Jesus (p.254 and 257) Mark 11:27-33
Wednesday: Jesus in Bethany, and Judas Mark 14: 3-11
Thursday: From the Passover through to Peter’s denial Mark 14:12-72
Good Friday: Jesus before Pilate through to the burial Mark 15 (see footnote!)
Saturday: “On the Sabbath they rested, as the law commanded” – Luke 23:56; you could also read Exodus 20:8-11
Easter Sunday: The Resurrection John 20:1-29

Footnote: The Children’s Bible has amalgamated all the different Gospel accounts of the crucifixion into one, so that it includes Jesus telling John that he is now Mary’s son, the insults of the crowd, Jesus’ promise to the criminal that they would be together in Paradise, and so on. Ditto for the Resurrection account.

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All the rest have 31…

Anyone else here a big fan of December?

Now chances are you are either cheering or staring at the screen in frank incredulity. December! Christmas! Preparing for Christmas! Woohoo! Or alternatively: December? Time of frantic Christmas shopping and big Christmas and New Year get-togethers where someone is sure to end up in St Mungo’s with a satsuma or walnut up his or her nose? Stress on earth and ill will to all men!

Be that as it may, I love it.

I love the fairy lights on the houses. They make up for the dark mornings and evenings. People here don’t go in for the different colours so much, just the starry white ones. Beautiful.

I love the anticipation of the first snowfall on our balcony, as we watch the snowline moving further and further down our mountain.

I love preparing for Christmas. I even love planning how we’re going to prepare for Christmas (which admittedly happens in November but never mind).

I love doing Bible readings and lighting candles and having special baking or craft activities with the children all through Advent. Some that we loved last year, and some new ones. If you read on here regularly, you already knew that, because I’ve posted photos and links for the last two winters.

I love December food. When I was little we always had hot-chocolate-with-candy-canes as one of our special Advent treats. Now one day we have hot chocolate with marshmallows with our little ones, and another day mincepies because they’re hard to come by here, and another day a cream tea with strawberry jam and freshly baked scones. I know that’s traditionally summer fare in the UK, but December is perfect for baking in a way that summer really isn’t here. And of course I love cranberry sauce, stuffing, Christmas cake and Christmas pudding too.

I also love that every year our month-long schedule looks a little different – one bonus of being an expat and the daughter of expats is that we have to travel to two different countries to visit both sets of parents. Which means we can’t possibly be expected to do that every year. Which means we can be on a three-year rota – one year here, one in the UK, one in Belgium – and no one will think to complain. (Actually, probably neither his parents nor mine would complain anyway. We’re very blessed in that respect). I love that we get to fully take part in three different sets of family traditions because of only being with one (extended) family for the whole Christmas week.

And I love that as a result there’s very little, if any, arguing or insertion of satsumas into noses, because we want to make the most of seeing each other while we can. Which in turn means I can look forward to the family reunion without apprehension, and enjoy the whole month of December.

I also like May. But that’s another story.


Christmas fake-Danish-hearts

This post has been linked to learning cooperative ABC&123 – check them out!

This is a close-up of our Advent calendar. These are “real” Danish hearts. You can find a tutorial for making them here or by Googling “Danish heart baskets”. They’re fun to do if you’re old enough, but no good for our five-year old. Also they’re much easier with paper than with felt – I know because we tried felt last year. But here’s what I’m talking about today:

This is our Advent “wreath”. Cute, and much easier! We got ours from Ikea, full of tea-lights. Now the tea-lights are hidden it looks much better.

Here’s what you need. Well some of what you need. Old wrapping paper or craft paper in various colours – we used both. Scissors, pencil, ruler, template…

You can use the template for making real Danish hearts too – click on the picture if you want a better look. To make the template, we used the bottom of a wine glass and then extended the sides till they were the same length as the diameter of the wineglass (you can see I’ve marked the identical lengths “A”). To make our decoration we needed to cut out four hearts from plain paper (any colour would do) because I wasn’t sure about Froglet gluing stuff directly onto the backdrop. And for some reason I started drawing six. Never mind eh.

Don’t worry about that little mark on the template where it says “plus a bit”- that’s not relevant here. It just shows to make the cuts a bit longer so it’s easier to weave the strips together on a real heart basket.

Here I’m cutting out the template from the coloured paper that we’re using to decorate our hearts. Whatever colours you like – we always used red-and-green when I was little.
Cut out the semi-circle and then divide the square into equal parts – I think sixteen would be more traditional but we chose the easy option and did nine. Froglet only cut the little squares out because I don’t really trust him with curvy lines yet for something that’s actually going to be in the middle of the table for a month! Yes I know. One day I may be less of a perfectionist.

Glue your cut-out paper onto the plain paper heart, making sure your child knows to alternate the colours like a chess-board. Then stick your heart onto whatever you’re using it for, if you didn’t do that directly. I glued ours on a piece of gold wrapping paper cut to more-or-less fit around the inside of the Ikea candle vase…

Turns out I didn’t measure that carefully enough and the vase is wider at the top than the bottom so it doesn’t sit quite flat. But at least my semi-circles are well-cut-out. 🙂

Advent activities – Week Three

The last week of school was a busy time
Baking and cake decorating
Sewing, knitting and crocheting
Ironing new patches on very old jeans
Reading Christmas books
Playing with friends
Building with Lego
Sledging in the wonderful foot-deep snow on the hill outside
And wondering whether Christmas will actually be spent where we intended…

Christmas cake shared with dear friends…

…who brought us this lovely gift

First gift from Froglet opened
Second gift adorning the shelf
in a beautiful bag he decorated himself at school

“We three kings of Orient are
With our psychedelic camels we travel afar…

…Field and fountain, moor and mountain
Foll’wing a felted star!”
Didn’t Froglet do a lovely job on those camels?
Wooden shapes from the DIY store which he coloured with felt-tip pens and glitter glue.
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Advent activities – Week Two

Froglet’s wrapping paper made at school…
“Mummy, it has to go on the wall, Miss said so!”

Scones, strawberry and rhubarb jam…
with our advent “wreath” behind them…

We give thanks to Ikea for the flat-packed gingerbread house…
and to God for the fun we had decorating it…

A reindeer with handprint antlers to adorn the front door…
although he seems to prefer the floor…

Toilet roll snowflakes, painted pearl and white, strung together for a garland…
much prettier than our blinds outside…

Waldorf-style shepherds…
with misshapen sheep…

And we still have time to hide in boxes too!


Advent activities – Week One

Advent calendar finished and hung up…
Tree decorated with unbreakable baubles, to the great delight of one small girl…

Some Christmas cards made…

New Jesse tree acquired (last year’s died) and Holy Family settled beneath it…

Great concentration is required for making jingle bell necklaces…

Pipe-cleaner, beads and bells for a lovely jingle bell bracelet/tree ornament!

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Stocking fillers

Here’s what’s going in our little ones’ stockings this year:

A home-made Waldorf baby doll and carrier sling each, if I get them finished in time…
A balloon each
A banana, satsuma, piece of pear-and-rye bread each
Chocolate coins – one bag between the four of us
A piece of Haba pretend food each, probably a muffin or berry of some sort
A matchbox car each – Nutmeg likes cars just as much as Froglet does!
A bracelet for Nutmeg, which Froglet will help me choose.
An umbrella for Froglet, for walking to kindergarten with
A mini-archaeology kit (semi-precious stones to dig out of a block of plaster)
A spoon with a coloured handle each. We’re always short of spoons.
A blank mini-sketchbook of some sort each, so we can start having family drawing time as suggested in this post from The Green Parent.

This year our stockings are also our main presents, because we know we’ll get lots of things from the grandparents.

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Advent activities list

Did you know Orthodox Advent has already started? For the Eastern churches (including Byzantine Catholics and perhaps others I don’t know of), Advent is a time of fasting similar to Lent. A bit different to what we’re used to here, and Priest’s Wife over at Fear Not Little Flock has a rather lovely post about how she intends to celebrate it, following the Proverbs 31 model. Check it out! 🙂

Here in the more Western tradition, I have finally organised my advent activities list. Not quite the same as last year’s, and I think it’s a slightly different set of Bible verses each day too, as there seem to be different variants of the Jesse Tree. (You can see the set we used last year here) The verses are not related to the activities in the slightest this year however!

Update: I’ve linked each week to the post showing (some of) those activities now that we’ve done them. This post is also linked to ABC&123’s Show&Tell series – for lots of other great Advent/Christmas/general activities, check out their site!

First week of Advent
Sunday 28/11: Put up Christmas tree (no reading)
29/11: Make Christmas cards (no reading)
30/11: Get out Jesse tree, Christmas bookshelf and red postbox*; read a Christmas story (no reading)
1/12: Make Xmas cake (Creation: Gen 1:1-31; 2:1-4)
2/12: Learn Jingle bells (Adam and Eve: Gen 2: 7-9, 18-24)
3/12: Make jingle bell bracelets (Adam and Eve cont.: Gen 3:1-7, 23-34)
Saturday 4/12: Make stable and Waldorf-style Holy family (Noah: bits of Gen 6 and 7)

Second week of Advent
Sunday 5/12: Bake scones, have cream tea (Abraham: Gen 12:1-3)
6/12: New Christmas book about St Nicholas (Isaac: Gen 22:1-14)
7/12: Candlelight dinner (Jacob: Gen 25:1-34, 28:10-15)
8/12: Public holiday – Make gingerbread house (Joseph: Gen 37:23-28, 45:3-15)
9/12: Learn Away in a manger; Reindeer paper plate craft (Moses: Ex 2:1-10)
10/12: Make toilet roll snowflakes (Samuel; 1 Sam 3:1-18)
Saturday 11/12: Make Waldorf shepherds, sheep and angel (Jesse: 1 Sam 16:1-13)

Third week of Advent
Sunday 12/12: Make felted star, eat gingerbread house (David: 1 Sam 17:12-51)
13/12: Buy gift from World Vision (Solomon: 1 Kings 3:5-14, 16-28)
14/12: Learn the Holly and the Ivy (Joseph: Matt 1:18-25)
15/12: Paint a Christmas tree or possibly some holly (Mary: Luke 1:26-38)
16/12: Open red postbox, hang up cards; make ironing-bead ornaments (John the Baptist: Mark 1:1-8)
17/12: Take Christmas card to school, eat mince pies (Jesus is Wisdom: Ecclesiasticus 24:2, Wisdom 8:1)
Saturday 18/12: Make Waldorf wise men, centurion, star, camels (Jesus is Lord: Ex 3:2, 20:1)

Fourth week of Advent
Sunday 19/12: Toast crumpets, play Christmas tree game (Jesus is Key of David: Isaiah 22:22)
20/12 Make felt crowns, hang stockings** (Jesus is King of the Gentiles: Psalm 2:7-8, Eph 2:14-20)
21/12: Play out nativity story with Waldorf figures, celebrate Christmas (Jesus is Emmanuel: Isaiah 7:14, 33:22)

* the Red Postbox, constructed out of an old nappy (diaper) box, red paint and some cotton-wool “snow”, is where we keep Christmas cards that arrive so we can open lots and hang them all up on the same day. It’s a tradition I carried over from my own childhood. I don’t expect to get very many this year because we are absolutely rubbish at sending any out ourselves!
** A few days early, yes, but we will be away visiting relatives over the actual Christmas period so we are having our own celebration at home and with friends first using our own traditions.

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