We’re Going On A Bear Hunt

After seeing the advert for this back in November sometime, I was excited when it finally arrived. We missed it live, but taped it for later.

And so it was, yesterday afternoon, my husband and I settled down to watch one of my favourite tales of all time. I cannot understate my love for this story / non-rhyming nursery rhyme. The sounds of the words are brilliant for small children, their language still developing. The rhythm of the tale is excellent for children, gaining an ear for poetry, rhyme and stories alike. Nothing needs adding to this story, nothing needs taking away.

It is safe to say, then, that I was more than disappointed with the television adaptation. This beautiful story loses its rhythm, and the onomatopoeic words lose their brilliance in the midst of further details. When The Gruffalo was adapted for TV, it remained intact and perfect. So why change what is wonderful the way it is?

I can only think that an adult somewhere, without much of an imagination themselves, decided that the story lacked detail and depth, and that it needed changing. But in its simplicity, this story is detailed. And by making it detailed, it loses its wonder and depth.

If you and your child want to go on a bear hunt, I suggest you put your wellies on, head outside and recall the original tale. The television is no substitute.


About Her: Gemma Tuson

Introducing my new monthly feature: About Her. Through this feature I want to showcase brilliant Christian women, their passions and their callings. It gives me great pleasure to introduce to you Gemma Tuson, creator of the new Be Loved course.

Gemma, what is Be Loved?

Be Loved is a course specifically devised for 14-17 year olds, and runs as six weekly sessions, lasting two hours, in groups of 8-10 with two facilitators. The heart of Be Loved is to see young women thrive within themselves, their relationships and with God. We are passionate about inspiring healthy self-respect and encourage the ability to make valuable life choices. Through the ‘Be Loved’ course we are equipping the group members to deal with life’s challenges head-on, using practical exercises and biblical truth. We love to see young women enjoying the life they have been given, and being excited for their future. 

Where did you get the inspiration for Be Loved?

I’d been working with groups of girls for a while doing various creative workshops, and I was very aware that the majority of teenage girls I met had moderate to low self-esteem. I knew of some fab self-esteem courses but I hadn’t heard of one that included some good, solid biblical truths that they could stand firm on. I felt a strong calling from God to write Be Loved, and through dreams, prayer and various words He definitely directed it.

You speak so wisely of the need to be sure God’s love for us, in order that we live full lives. Has there been a time when you felt unsure of God’s love for you?

Yes. My dad died 6 weeks before my wedding day. I really struggled to get my head round why my Heavenly Father would take away my earthly father so close to the most important day of my life. I was really angry, but didn’t know how to express it, as there was so much going on in my life around that time. I was getting married, leaving my family home and moving into my new house with my new husband. It all felt so surreal. People were telling me how brave I was so I put on a brave persona. Really though, inside, I was in a sad, angry state, but didn’t know how to show it.

That must have been an incredibly difficult time in your life, and faith. How did you come out of it?
It took me 6 years to come to a place where I finally recognised I wasn’t doing ok. I was going to church but I wasn’t praying and had lost my relationship with God. I went for some Christian counseling, which helped me talk about all the hurt I’d been holding onto, and I was able to process my feelings towards God. I knew I either had to work through it, and pursue God, or walk away from my faith. Just after that I read a book called ‘Crazy Love’ by Francis Chan, and it really helped me to realise how much God loves me, and I finally started to come to terms with what had happened.

Obviously faith is an integral part of our lives, but we are busy as mums. How do you pray and read the Bible?

My prayers are usually arrow prayers throughout the day. I have two children, and my husband works at home, so I never really have any alone time! 

I try to get up before the rest of the house and have some time reading the Bible. I like to use bible studies, as I find them really helpful. I love the ‘She Reads Truth’ app and I have found that their commentary gives me fresh insight.

I’m a massive fan of singing, and find such joy when singing to God. What’s your favourite worship song?
I often wake singing ‘Good, good Father‘. It’s like my soul is singing it. Which is amazing since I had a period in my life where I didn’t think He was a very good Father!

Do you have a favourite verse from the Bible?
I have a few favourites!

For being brave:

1John 4;4 “Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”

For work and relationships:

1 John 3;19 “We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.”

For my soul:

Matthew 11;28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

You have a clear calling to serve teenage girls. One problem that seems to come up a lot is the pressure to conform to societal expectations when it comes to sex and relationships. If there was a young girl struggling with pressures of a modern day relationship, wanting advice, what would you say to her?
Don’t do anything you don’t want to do. God wants the BEST for you and your relationships, if it’s not the best then it may not be right. 

Finally, what is your hope for Be Loved and the girls who use it?

My hope is that churches will provide the girls in their churches with the opportunity to do Be Loved. That the young women who complete the course, will leave knowing deep down in their hearts that they are so greatly loved, who they are and who they were created to be, and be completely comfortable with that.

Thank you, Gemma, for sharing some of your story and faith with me. 

If you would like to know more, please visit the Be Loved website where you can find out more information and even buy the course. When I was a teenager, I know I really struggled with self-esteem and finding my identity in God’s love for me. Despite the fact I went to a Christian school, the days and events put on to help build our confidence and self-esteem were very general and not built on the solid foundations of truth found in God’s word. Perhaps you’re a church leader, a parent of a teenage girl, or maybe you are a teenage girl who wants to access this course. Get in touch with Gemma, and allow God to build you up in the knowledge of his love.

Be Loved.

Life’s Not Fair

Great education relies on great teachers. Great teachers require the support of an equitable society.

Unfortunately, this picture depicts the truth of our society. Many many children come from great homes, with one or two parents who give them the love, stability and boundaries they require to thrive. They also have aspirations. Sadly though, many children in our society today come from homes where this isn’t the case. Our society is not equitable. It never has been. Life isn’t fair!

Children don’t need much to thrive, but if one little part of the jigsaw is missing their life can be very chaotic. Now, the government would like to have everyone believe that if we simply give them all the same opportunities at school, it will do the job. Some people would have you believe that if we just did things the same way as Scandinavian countries, everything would be sorted. Both of these groups of people are wrong. 

We live in our own society here. So we need an education system fitting the people of Great Britain, not simply a system that works for a vastly different society (like Finland, or Norway). We need something which crosses the boundaries of school and home, and gives the children who aren’t getting love, stability or boundaries at home whatever it is they’re missing. There are many ways to do that, and the last school I worked at did this particularly well, I think: caring for the whole child. 

One thing that could help though, is the government trusting teachers and support staff to do the jobs they’ve been trained to do; to help the children that they know and care so much about. Instead of blaming teachers for a recruitment crisis, or thrusting yet more unwanted and unnecessary changes upon schools, or cutting the money schools so desperately need (in real terms), why can’t Nicky Morgan et al listen? Instead of pointing fingers at teachers and schools, why can’t they look at the whole picture? The whole picture is like that above… many things going on in a child’s life outside of school that mean they’re not achieving what they should in school. Why can’t they offer support, instead of chastisement?

Now, I’m not naïve. There are schools out there which really aren’t doing all they can. There are teachers who dislike children, and there are teachers who can’t teach very well. But I like to believe they are in an enormous minority. Don’t be fooled by Nicky Morgan. We already have a highly educated and well trained teaching body in the UK. We already have a well regarded qualification (QTS), which many schools across the world require their teachers to have. We already have people with passion for their subjects, and fire in their belly. We already have supportive local authorities, who can provide what struggling schools need to turn themselves around. We don’t need more unqualified teachers, and we certainly don’t need our education system privatising to the point of no return.

Our education system may not be perfect. It may not meet the needs of all the children in our broken society, but it has to be better than schools being run by external agents for profit. Do not believe Nicky Morgan when she says academies are the way forward. Do not believe her when she says she wants what is best for your children. Do not believe her at all.