Monday, 25 February 2013

Messy Church Craft Share - Jesus' Baptism

Image used with kind permission
As I was sorting out my display for Messy Church at work today, an idea came to me. But first of all - you may ask, "What IS Messy Church?!"

Well, Messy Church founder Lucy Moore (along with Diane Louise Jordan no less!) explains it best herself on their website. It is a church for people who don't go to church. It isn't on a Sunday, there's no sermon, no standing up and sitting down in certain places at certain times. It isn't an outreach event designed to get people in to Sunday morning services. It is a chance for families to spend time together, having fun, experiencing Christian community, sharing in yummy food, and learning a little about God in the process. The "Messy" part comes not only from the crafts we do (which do get rather messy!) but also the fact that community can be a bit messy! We have messy lives and creative minds and that is something to be celebrated.

So anyway, as I was sorting out the crafts from this month's session I thought, I wonder if these ideas might be helpful to someone? I see loads of parents blogging about the craft they do with their children, and perhaps they might find some inspiration here. For Messy Church, the crafts are "Bible based" - that is, we link them to our theme and Bible story for the month. But they are not exclusively religious (in fact many aren't religious in the slightest!) so they may be helpful if a parent, teacher or fellow Children and Family Worker is looking for inspiration.

This month's theme was "Jesus' Baptism" and these are the crafts we did:

Water pictures (adapted from Messy Church 2)
We used various colours and shades of paint to recreate the many hues we see in the water around us. I especially like the dark moody one at the top!
Water pictures

Glitter bottles (taken from this website)
We added glitter and sequins to a bottle of water (I used the travel bottles you can get in Boots... you can imagine the looks I got when I bought 30 of the things), along with a squirt of glycerine to make the water thick and gloopy. The children loved swirling them around.
Glitter bottles

Sandy footprints (adapted from Messy Church 2)
Because baptism is something that Christians do when they decide to follow Jesus, we picked up on the "following" theme with these sandy footprints. We drew around our feet, cut them out, covered in glue and dipped in sand.
Sandy footprints

"Footprints" poem (adapted from Messy Church 2)
If you haven't read the footprints poem there is a link on the caption. I think it is beautiful, and makes me a bit emotional. I see it as a reminder that God is always with me, I am never alone. And it is also a timely reminder that in those times when I feel that God has deserted me the reality is I will look back and see that he was the only thing keeping me going. We used foam footprints to decorate the poem and if they wanted, children could write a message to someone so that they could be encouraged by it.
"Footprints" poem

We also made dove shaped biscuits, the dove appearing at a key part in the story of Jesus' baptism, which we decorated with white icing and lots of sprinkles. No photo though, sorry!

I also really wish I had taken photos of the "celebration" time, when we gathered together to listen to the story. I opened up the baptistery in the main church and the children all sat around the edge with their legs dangling. No water in there obviously, but it was still wonderful for them to be able to see it. It made describing baptism so much easier and I hope it gave them an experience that will stay with them.

Let me know if you use any of these crafts!

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Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Chicken fried rice

I luuuuurve Chinese food. Chinese food makes me so very happy. It is a real treat for us to get in a takeaway or head out to the all you can eat buffet. However I've never really attempted Chinese cooking at home, save for honey chilli chicken and Mary Berry's sweet and sour chicken. And of course, Mr's famous curry sausages and rice are made with Chinese curry sauce concentrate we get at the Chinese supermarket. But apart from that we haven't been very adventurous, and I always worry that without the MSG from takeaways it won't taste as good!

This recipe - loosely based on a Slimming World recipe I saw at my mum's house - is hardly adventurous either but it is so deliciously authentic I'd actually say it was as good as the real stuff. Give it a go and tell me what you think...

(Apologies for lack of picture, every time I make it I am so keen to get stuck in I forget to take one!)

Chicken Fried Rice (serves 1)

Before you start, it's helpful to have the following ingredients chopped and ready to go. This dish is stir fried and needs to keep moving in the wok so you won't have time to prep as you go. It seems a lot but worth it, I promise.

One garlic clove, minced
Small piece of ginger, chopped finely or grated (sorry for vague amounts but I use 1 tsp of the Very Lazy stuff!)
One small red chilli, finely chopped, or 1/2 tsp of chilli flakes
Half a carrot, sliced into thin batons
Half a red pepper, sliced into thin batons
Handful of frozen peas
Shredded cooked chicken breast
One portion of COLD cooked rice (do not used recently cooked rice or it'll turn to mush)
One egg, lightly beaten
5 spice powder
Soy sauce
Shaohsing rice wine (if you have it, not necessary)
Sesame oil (ditto)

1. Heat a couple of tablespoons of vegetable or other flavourless oil in a wok. Add ginger, chilli and garlic and stir fry for a few moments.
2. Throw in the carrots, peppers and peas and stir fry until beginning they start to colour and pick up all the flavours.
3. Add the rice and chicken and stir well. Slosh in some soy sauce and a sprinkle of 5 spice.
4. After stir frying for a few moments, push the rice to one side and pour in the egg. Wait until it sets a bit then start breaking it up with a fork. Then mix the whole lot together - the egg should mix through in little shreds.
5. Add a splash of rice wine - this will help deglaze the wok if the egg has made everything catch a bit.
6. Finally sprinkle a few drops of sesame oil over the rice (only a few, this is a strong oil and would quickly overpower everything else).
7. Serve up and eat immediately.

When I have made this, the flavours exactly match those you get in the stuff from the Chinese. And it is low fat too - only about 400 cal according to MyFitnessPal!

Let me know if you give this a go!

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