A Message from Theo Platypus

A plush platypus puppet holding a pink platypus toy

Exciting News!

There’s going to be a new Platypus arriving sometime next year! And it’s very exciting.

I’m supposed to be a puppet, but I was designed for children to use, not someone who uses puppets for work. This means the boss is struggling to use me (she has wonky hands!)

Apparently I’m a little too podgy to move my neck and beak much, which is hard when I need to turn my neck to look at Kay and talk to her. It also means it’s hard for me to show people how to do creative prayer activities or help Kay tell stories! 

She say’s I’m perfect the way I am and she wouldn’t want to change me at all (and I agree with her).

So……Team Platypus have had a talk about what to do.

As a result of that chat, the boss (Kay) has asked One Way UK’s Creative Productions Workshop to make her a special platypus puppet that she can use properly!

Therefore, when the new Theo arrives, I will stay with Team Platypus, but let Him do the stuff on camera.
I’m very happy with this, and I’m looking forward to meeting him. But I’m going to need a new name – any ideas? Let us know if you have any suggestions.

I’m not sure If I’m supposed to tell you this or not….. so keep it a secret, but he’s going to be………PINK! Just like Anno, the smallest member of Team Platypus.

One Way UK’s Creative Productions Workshop will be starting work on the new Theo in January, and we will give regular updates on how things are going.

I’m soooo excited!

What was I Praying?

Let’s be honest – we all find prayer difficult at some point in our lives, and for many different reasons.

If you were like me, you were brought up in a church where great value was placed on how long you prayed for in a morning – to rise early and spend at least 30 minutes with God. (Subtext to that – “but an hour makes you a better Christian”)

To be honest, some of us just don’t have the concentration to cope with praying for 30 minutes at a time (especially in the morning). And it’s not just those with ADHD!

There are some who can do all this – but I suspect that it’s often more due to personality than it is to being an uber-amazing Christian. It’s at this point I usually get shouts of ‘Heretic – burn her’! (Or the modern-day evangelical equivalent)

I totally agree that without prayer and without time to study God’s word our faith would just sink. It is vital to our survival.
But if you have one of many chronic illnesses, it can be quite hard to do what well meaning Christian teachers tell us we should do.

There are many conditions that make first thing in the morning the worst time to pray and read, there are conditions that make concentration hard too – at any time of day.

For example, one of the conditions I have has an associated problem that can affect concentration, memory, the ability to put sentences together and being able to remember exactly what you were saying by halfway through that sentence. You can blank out very quickly too! This is worse first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

I’ve chatted to others with similar issues who not only struggle with quiet times/prayer, but also the guilt laid on them because they can’t ‘do prayer like they’re supposed to’. They are adults, teenagers and children. For many children and young people with additional needs, praying at length in a morning on a school day when stress levels are already high is going to be hard. They just don’t have the emotional energy – and I know God understands that.

The truth is, over many years the ‘church’ has added to the rules of praying. We’ve put these rules on to new Christians and our children for all the best intentions – we want to make sure the habit of prayer is formed early.

It’s a great aspiration!

But we forget the God has made us all with different personalities and abilities and not all of us can follow this prescribed way of praying.

I was really helped by a comment by a friend in my home group. He said “Prayer is about my relationship with God, not what I ask for”. If we pray, and our relationship with God grows, does it really matter how we get there?

Maybe in a morning the best thing for us is to have something to touch and hold – just for a moment. Something that reminds us of God’s presence with us. And as we touch or hold – say a simple thankyou to God for a new day and ask for His help to be like Jesus as we head into our day.

And maybe I need to write some prayers that would help people do that! Edit – I have – you can find a couple of Prayers for Foggy Brains here

A Pondering Place

Depending on whether you went to church or not as a child, and if you did -the ‘flavour’ of church you grew up in, you will view the idea of spending time with God in different ways.

Many people call it a ‘quiet time’, others call it their ‘daily devotions’.

I was brought up with the notion that this quiet time was something all good Christians did, it happened early in the morning and the length of it was the measure of your faith. The earlier the time and the longer the prayer would give more God brownie points. Of course that’s not true, and these things won’t change God’s love for us – that will remain unchanging and profound.

I was just given a book to read and told I should pray, and basically left to get on with it. I was never taught about prayer other than – when (morning – early, and/or evening – with extra points for both….)

Mornings were and still are painful for me, my brain can take a while to function in a morning and I’ve always struggled to read….so it didn’t go so well! (I have a weird visual impairment, am dyslexic and my disabilities inflict their greatest pain first thing in the morning and evening.)

Over the years I’ve started to see jokes about how people ‘do’ their devotions/quiet time, and how a ‘liturgy of actions’ gets built in to them: Make a coffee, sit in a comfy chair, either ensure silence or worship music, and then work through your chosen notes. (To many of you reading this – I know doing that might seem like a far off dream!)

But there is something helpful in this.

This liturgy of actions helps to build a habit – a routine. This routine can settle us into preparing to speak to and hear from God. To associate a particular place with the peace of meeting with God can give a place to sit, calm ourselves and say that one word prayer ‘HELP!’ when things get too much.

When you have children, especially children with additional needs, finding a place and regular time for private devotions is nigh on impossible! This is one of the many reasons I started Pondering Platypus Resources!

Most children need routine, so to identify a specific place or object with a spiritual activity is helpful. But I believe it is the same with adults too, especially adults dealing with constant pressure in the home.

We need to identify that place or object of safety – a chair, a blanket, sitting under the table, the edge of our bed, an electric candle or even a lava lamp. For me it’s a glitter stick.

In another post on this, I will be pondering some ideas on how to choose and create a ‘pondering space.’

(Note: If you are children/family worker looking to support families in doing this – first understand the family dynamics of different homes: the pressure points, the difficulties, what brings a smile, what gives a feeling of safety).

About Our Resources

All of our prayer resources are for families to use together – whatever your family looks like.

We’ve been hearing that for many, family devotions have been a stressful step too far during lock-down, and that grownups in some households have lost some confidence in the area of nurturing faith at home.

We really hope this resource will help to rebuild confidence, be lots of fun to do, and help all who do them to grow in faith.

We have tried to make them broadly accessible for families who have children with additional needs – but with such a wide spectrum of additional needs, we appreciate that one or two may not work for individual children with specific needs.

Try to view the activities as a launch pad for your imagination! You can use them as written, or change them to fit how your family works. If you want some ideas to make them accessible to specific needs, do send us a message.

Many of these activities would work with small children’s groups too – but be aware of Covid rules as you choose them. I’ll be writing another post on using them safely with groups under the current restrictions – for example, blowing bubbles might not be a good idea!

Have fun!