Appreciating people

I’ve been thinking a lot about appreciation of people recently.  Whenever I am at a leaving do or similar and there are lots of nice things said about someone, I usually find myself thinking, “Yes! But did this person know how much you appreciated them while they were here?” It’s even more poignant at a funeral or memorial service, of course.

I know of someone who didn’t think anyone would miss them when they changed churches. They were genuinely surprised to get a message a while later saying “We miss you!” They were left wondering why the person had hardly spoken to them before. Maybe they would have remained at that church if they had been helped to believe they were a valued member of the congregation.

But thinking about this leaves me with questions.  How do you let people know in a sincere and non-cringy way that they are special to you? That you appreciate what they do and who they are? That your life would be less without them?

Recently at our home education co-op, I surprised the children in assembly by asking them to tell someone else there that they appreciated them being there – and give a reason.  There was much giggling, but they all had a go and perhaps they’ll remember the experience.

What would you say to someone in a group you belong to? What would you like someone to say to you? Let’s get appreciative!



A grace to sing

I’ve written some words for a Grace to use as a family.  We quite enjoy them!  Feel free to use them yourself but I’d appreciate my name staying with the lyrics if you post them on…

To the tune of “Supercalafragilisticexpialidocious”:
If you have found there is some tasty food upon the table
You should thank God joyfully as long as you are able
But if you don’t quite know the words to thank Him every day
Believe me when I tell you there is something you can say:
Super thanks almighty God for everything you’ve given
(x 4)
(Tune copyright The Sherman Brothers, Lyrics copyright H Brunning)

Friendship Maps – an activity with my children

We’ve had some fun creating friendship maps over the last couple of days so we thought we’d share our “How-To” guide…

How To Create a Friendship Map

131      First gather your supplies.  You will need:

A map – to a scale so you can fit your friend’s house and your house onto a single page (more comments about scale below)

A piece of white paper – we used A4 so it fit into the frame we already had

Some blue-tack

A pencil

Some colours – we used fine-line pens and coloured pencils

106 Check out your map.  Find your home and your friend’s home. Plot out the route you take from one house to the other. This is such a fun time to practice map-reading skills. Just because “everyone has a Sat-Nav” doesn’t mean maps are redundant. Perhaps that’s a topic for another post!

108 Tack your map to a window. Keep it smooth…

109 Tack your white paper on top of the map. Make sure your whole route is covered by the page. You may like to put the paper up at an angle to get it all in. This is totally fine, but make a note of “which way is up” – particularly if you want to add a compass rose later.

111 Carefully trace your route and any landmarks on the way. We thought about the landmarks we wanted to include – those shared with our friends (the park) or those we particularly enjoy about the area (the library).

121 Still using your pencil, have a look at your tracing and see if there are any other details you want to include. Sketch in decorations. We illustrated the library with a book, the cycle path with a bike, the Scout Hut with a campfire. Add labels such as road or place names.

122 Add some colour. This is the fun bit! For larger areas, we outlined in pen and coloured in with pencil. This prompted discussion about suitable colours for certain symbols – would the colour we chose for our shopping area suggest an allegiance with a particular brand?

126 Here are the final details going in.

Friendship Map a When you’re happy, go wild with your presentation. Mount the map – cut it straight or wavy. Add a title and a compass rose (make sure you know which way really is North!) Scan it so you can keep a copy of your hard work.  Then all that’s left is to present it to your friend. Hope they like it!

Another word about scale: If your friend lives close, a local map will be great.  A little further afield and you may like to use an OS map. Of course, if your friend is many miles away, you may have to use a whole country map. The larger the scale, the fewer small details you will be able to include.

I would love to know if you try this idea.

Can’t decide…

I have two ideas for a sticker in the back window of my car and I can’t decide which one to put up.  Either one of :

“Yes. I agree with you. 20mph feels like a ridiculously low speed limit. But please write to the council instead of blaming me … And until then, please take your nose off my bumper. Thanks!”


“Apologies. Since someone I knew was killed by a speeding driver, I’ve been a little more aware of speed limits.  So I’m afraid it’s going to take you a smidge longer than usual to reach the end of the next traffic queue.”


I have recently noticed another key difference between mental and physical illness – the direction of the sympathy.

If two friends hear that Fred has broken his leg, the conversation is full of concern for him – “Poor Fred.  Wonder how he’s coping? Hope it won’t take long to heal.  Must send him some fruit.”  Some concern may or may not also be expressed for Freda, his wife.

However, when two friends hear that Fred has got depression, the conversation hardly mentions Fred at all.  “Golly!” they say. “Poor Freda having to cope with a depressed husband.  It must be very hard for her.  It’s so difficult to care for someone with a mental illness.”

Tradition… Or not?

I recently read this post about the importance of traditions.  Usually I would agree with it wholeheartedly.  I love all my traditions – especially at Christmas – and enjoy adding in new ones from time to time.  But this year I find myself feeling … heretical.

This year I find myself disgruntled with tradition.  This week I have thought things about traditions I have never thought before.

Here are three reasons traditions may not be so great:

1. You do them because you do them.  Not because you choose to do them.  Not because they add meaning to your life.  Not because you have carefully added them to your schedule to help your family understand the message of Christmas.

2. They can be a source of marital disharmony.  After 2 decades of living with one family’s traditions, you have to merge them with someone else’s family traditions.  And that’s before your siblings get married and there are even more “We-always-do-it-this-way”s to incorporate.

3. It hurts like billy-oh when a key person isn’t there any more taking their traditional role.

What to do?  Well now I’ve got that all off my chest, I’ll carry on as normal.  Traditions will remain in place as a source of strength, continuity and belonging.  After all, there’s always next year to do it all differently … or perhaps the next … or the one after that …



An Advent Calendar for my Mum

Last year I made an advent calendar for Mummy.  24 small envelopes with a little gift and a prayer or verse or wise thought inside each one.  This year I didn’t get round to that so I have been sending a mail a day with a link to something fun or thought-provoking on YouTube.  It’s been fun doing the selections.

Adding them here, I see some gaps!  Either I didn’t manage to send one every day, or for some reason it didn’t get added to my sent email…

24 December:

23 December:

22 December: and

21 December:

20 December:

19 December:

18 December:

16 December:

15 December:

14 December:

13 December:

12 December:

11 December:

10 December:

9 December:

8 December:

7 December:

5 December: and

4 December:

3 December:

2 December:

1 December: