The holiday snake

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Here in the UK, the school term has just come to an end which means the majority of children’s groups close for at least six weeks. For us, this means no nursery, no toddler groups, no Creation Station. All organised activities on hold, oh, except for the the crèche at the gym… Praise the Lord for small mercies!

Phoebe, like every other three year old on the planet, has absolutely no concept of time, referring to what happened yesterday as, “when I was a baby”, and “in six weeks time” to her may as well be six years.

So, to help her understand she won’t be going back to nursery for a long while I decided to draw a huge ‘Holiday Snake’, with a segment for each day that she can cross off; a super long advent calendar if you will, counting down to nursery. I’m hoping this will make the transition of getting back into the nursery routine easier at the end of summer, seeing as she’ll literally be able to see it coming on the calendar.

A snake seemed the obvious way to go, given the shape of its body lends itself well to accommodating seven weeks worth of segments. I drew it out on a roll of lining paper, then we all joined in to decorate it before sticking it on the back of the porch door.  We can fill in activities on it as we plan them, and it’ll be fun to look back over them at the end of summer to see just what we’ve been up to.

Enjoy the pics…

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Chocolate and peanut butter cheesecake

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This cake is not for the faint hearted, or weak hearted for that matter. If you’re watching your calorie intake you’re reading the wrong blog, as this is the ultimate in chocolate peanut butter blow outs.

A friend had given me a jar of chocolate spread, and because it’s not the type of thing I’d usually spread on my toast I wanted a recipe to use it up. Hence coming up with this beauty!

For the base I used a packet of chocolate digestive biscuits, some salted peanuts, and melted butter. Having accidently put too much butter in the biscuit crumbs, I needed to ad-lib a little using whatever I could lay my hands on to soak up the excess butter, as we didn’t have any other biscuits in. So, some pretzels and granola later the base was ready. I pressed it into a springform tin and chilled it whilst making the topping.

The topping was completely made up as I went along. I whipped approx 300ml double cream  then mixed in 500g mascarpone, a jar of smooth peanut butter and a jar of chocolate spread. It needed a bit of something sour to cut through the richness and about 200ml of natural yoghurt did the trick.  After spreading the topping on the base I drizzled about 50g melted milk chocolate over the cheesecake and sprinkled with crushed salted peanuts. Leave to set in the fridge over night.

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This dessert was one of a few I did for a welcome home party for some friends who had just arrived back from a round the world adventure.

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I also did a rhubarb, strawberry and rose water pavlova:

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Mini creme pat and filo, fruit tartlets (recipe here) :

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A fruit platter and a cheeseboard.

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It was a great success and a lovely evening was had by all.

Choosing joy in the midst of adversity

“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18

There are times in every person’s life when being joyful, praying and being thankful for our circumstances may not come naturally. Times when the hurt is heavy, the sickness crippling, the family falling apart or the finances in the red. These are spiritual sink or swim moments. Often the easier choice to make is to sink, falling away from the truths the bible teaches, trying to make sense of the situation in the natural, drowning in a sea of grief feeling and feeling isolated, vulnerable and alone. However, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Life for us has actually been pretty difficult in a few different ways lately. We’re a young (ish!) couple, trying to lead a church in the direction God wants it to go, doing what we can to reach the community we serve as well as balancing that with supporting our existing congregation pastorally, bringing up a fiesty toddler, being squeezed financially and attempting to grow our family.

It’s the ‘attempting to grow our family’ part which is the catalyst for writing this post today. Earlier in the week Ste and I went for an 8 week pregnancy scan after getting a positive result on our final round of IVF a few weeks ago. We were expecting to see one or two perfect little heartbeats but this wasn’t to be. Both embryos had implanted but our twins hadn’t developed properly and we were told to prepare for miscarriage. At that moment our hearts shattered. All the hopes and dreams of giving Phoebe a sibling, all the prayers we, and so many others, had invested in these two little lives, all the faith we had had that God would breathe life into these babies gone, in an instant. We haven’t felt heartbreak like it before, and we certainly hadn’t anticipated that the grief we feel would be so intense.

There were lots of tears that day, some as a result of overwhelming sadness, some borne out of sheer frustration, and some being of downright anger with God for allowing this to happen after all the years of infertility we’d gone through to get to that point, and on top of everything else we have to deal with at the moment.

I woke up the next day knowing I had a choice to make. I could sink, allowing the grief to over take me, wallowing in my own self pitty and risking becoming bitter about the whole situation, or I could swim. There was no contest.

We know God loves us. We know His will for our lives is better than our own. We know that being a Christian does not mean a life free from heartache and difficulties, but we also know we are not going through this alone. God will not give us more than we can handle, and he will give us what we need to get through this and come out stronger. We fixed our eyes on Jesus once more, and began thanking him for all the wonderful people and things he has blessed us with. Slowly our joy is being restored.

I began to remind myself that good can still come out of this horrendously sad situation. This could be the springboard we needed to launch us into a deeper relationship with our Saviour. How can that be anything but good?! We pray that God is glorified through this, that others will know that they don’t have to go through their heartbreak alone. You too can have the incredible and immeasurable peace of God. If one life is transformed by God as a result of this situation then our temporal earthly loss has been worth it. Be blessed friends, and know that whatever your circumstance you can choose joy, you can choose to be thankful, you can pray, and God will sustain you, carry you and bring you out of this stronger than you went in.