Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Apps to help you this Lent

Welcome to Lent 2017, the 40 days start today Ash Wednesday.
I don't know about you but over the years I have tried to give up almost every vice, have tried to take up almost every good habit and tried endlessly to be more prayerful but almost always feel like a failure by the time Easter rolls along.  And this year?  Well I'm not giving up trying, but I'm being more practical about it and decided to find some tools to help me with the praying bit at least.

In this search for tools I gathered together a whole heap of apps which I'll be using in different ways. Some of these I use regularly as it is, some occasionally, some I had forgotten about and others I've just newly discovered.  Anyway, now I have a list I thought it might be useful for others.

Daily Prayer apps
Pray as you go 

Pray as you go is a daily prayer session, designed for use on portable devices, to help you pray whenever you find time, but particularly whilst travelling to and from work, study, etc. find app here

Daily prayer from CofE 
Find complete services for Morning, Evening and Night Prayer from the Church of England with this official Daily Prayer app. find app here

Time to pray from CofE 

Time to Pray: Prayer During the Day from the Church of England provides a pattern of prayer and daily Bible reading that is simple yet profound. It will help you to create and enjoy a regular time with God during your day – whatever your lifestyle.  find app here

Reflections for lent 2017

Reflections for Lent offers a simple way to make space for Bible study and reflection from Ash Wednesday (2017) to Easter Saturday (2017). This standalone app provides a chance to try the readings from best-selling Reflections for Daily Prayer app for the season of Lent. find app here


For each day of the church year, it presents the Common Worship lectionary readings in full, complete with dynamic links to the Bible passages themselves (NRSV translation). All approved variations are clearly presented, including the Additional Weekday Lectionary. find app here

Daily office

Morning and Evening Prayer including psalms, readings, and commemorations by Rev. Christopher C. Richardson find app here

Daily lent prayers 

Daily Lent Prayers is an app which presents a series of prayers, one for each day of the Lenten period to help you grow in your relationship with God and to deepen your commitment to a way of life that stems from our baptism. In our busy world, Lent provides us with an opportunity to reflect upon our patterns, to pray more deeply, experience sorrow for what we've done and failed to do, and to be generous to those in need.  find app here

Ignatius Prayer apps
Reimagining examen

Reimagining the Examen offers a unique prayer experience that’s tailored to your needs and mood. Each Examen, based on St. Ignatius’s 500-year-old prayer, guides you through a stimulating reflection on your day, helping you invite God into your nitty-gritty. Choose an Examen that matches your current state of being, or pray that day’s scheduled reflection.  find app here

Sacred space

Spiritual freedom, a deeper relationship with Jesus, and finding God in all things are three basic precepts of Ignatian Spirituality. Sacred Space, a joint apostolate of the Irish Jesuits and Loyola Press, has dedicated itself to continuing the mission that Saint Ignatius began centuries ago. In 1999, Sacred Space went online, bringing faith to a new frontier of communication. Sacred Space expands the boundaries again with its new smartphone app.  find app here

Jesuit prayer

Jesuit Prayer is your one-stop shop for Ignatian Spirituality on the go. The founder of the Jesuits, Saint Ignatius of Loyola, created the Spiritual Exercises to deepen our relationship with Christ and to move our contemplation into service. Ignatian spirituality reminds us that God pursues us in the routines of our home and work life, and in the hopes and fears of life's challenges. find app here

Reflective, contemplative prayer apps
Reflections for Daily Prayer

This easy to use daily prayer app is based on the only Bible reading notes designed specifically for the Church of England by Church House Publishing. Following the Common Worship lectionary, the Reflections for Daily Prayer app allows you to read and reflect every day on the same passages as thousands of Anglicans worldwide. find app here

Centering prayer
Centering Prayer is a method of silent prayer that prepares us to receive the gift of contemplative prayer, prayer in which we experience God's presence within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than consciousness itself. This method of prayer is both a relationship with God and a discipline to foster that relationship. Centering Prayer is not meant to replace other kinds of prayer; rather it casts a new light and depth of meaning on them. Centering Prayer is an ancient method of Christian prayer adapted for modern times by Fathers Thomas Keating, William Meninger and Basil Pennington. find app here

Christian meditation and prayer

Christian Prayer and Meditation is a safe place for Christians to meditate through guided prayer and meditation while soaking in HIS presence! Christian Meditation through the Meditate on Me app is an easy way to connect and enter into the power and presence of God and is centered around Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life. You will get great Christian teaching as you focus on God and His Word.  find app here

And for the days when time is a luxury: 3 minute retreat

The 3-Minute Retreat, for a peaceful prayer experience that helps you re-connect with God, re-center your day, and relax, wherever you are. Every day, the app guides you on a new bite-sized retreat filled with Scripture passages, soothing music, and reflection questions that you can pray at your own pace.  find app here

Just in case you wondered; I'm trying to give up hoarding and have committed to emptying one bag load of stuff from my life every day through lent; and I'm trying the rethink church photo a day again this year.

Find more posts I've written about today here: Ash Wednesday
And if you're looking for books or courses: Lent Courses and Books
And if you'd like some resources for kids: Lent with Kids
And I'd forgotten I'd written about light as a theme for lent: Light of the World

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

My email to CofE General Synod: House of Bishops’ Marriage & Same Sex Relations after the Shared Conversations

Here is the letter I've sent to the Diocese of Oxford Bishops and General Synod Reps today.  This is the way our voices can be heard.  Feel free to send your own versions if you feel as strongly as I do.

I am writing to you and all General Synod representatives in Oxford Diocese to express my sadness, disappointment and concern over the document referenced above for the February 2017 session. I hope you are aware of the distress and anger with which this report has been received in many of us who serve and worship in The Church of England. I do not think that the report’s findings represent members of the Church of England or everyone who committed themselves to the Shared Conversations process.
I have a number of concerns about the report.

1. It presents only one interpretation of Biblical teaching; yet there are multiple ways of reading the Bible. The fact that these other readings have been dismissed without explanation or theological engagement concerns me. The purpose of the process and report was to provide theological diversity for LGBTI people and their relationships; it is a failure that this has not happened.

2. The report uses the phrase “those who experience same sex attraction”. This is not a term I have ever heard used positively and is offensive to most of the LGBTI community. This term denotes that being LGBTI is a choice rather than a part of someone's identity. The term used by the report is one preferred by a small group of opponents within the Shared Conversations, I am shocked that it has been adopted as suitable terminology for the report.

3. This report was intended to cover conversations about and with LGBTI people but there is no mention of the lived experience of bisexual, intersex or transgender people and their relationships. These groups of people are entirely invisible and deemed irrelevant.

4. I was one of the few people inside the CofE who expected some affirmation of LGBTI people and the importance of themselves and their relationships in the Church. I have obviously been disappointed. But even those who were more realistic about the process had hope that genuine listening would occur, and that there might be some openness to Priests whose conscience allowed them, to bless such relationships. What sort of church do we have when priests bless inanimate objects such as hunts, homes and second marriages but can not even bless a committed and loving relationship? The refusal to allow such blessings is to say, in no uncertain terms, that the Church is entirely convinced of the sinfulness of such a relationship. And if that is what we are saying, then it is clearly nonsensical to pretend that we are able to offer a genuine welcome to the majority of LGBTI people. Is that really the church I serve and worship within?

5. I'm aware that you might read this and wonder why I care, after all I'm a happily married heterosexual woman. But my life is blessed with friends who are gay and bisexual and I'm raising a daughter who thinks nothing of accepting anyone's sexuality as part of life. How do I explain to them that God loves every one of us equally, when speaking from a church which only has negative things to say about their relationships? The report may say that there must be a fresh tone, but without any actual change those are the emptiest of words.

6. Archbishop Justin has admitted that the CofE is seen as a “toxic” environment where parents fear their children are more likely to be taught about prejudice rather than love. How does this report help in our ministry to reach out to these families in acceptance, love and openness? I feel like years of conversations and services and has been undermined in one report which says we are unable to see goodness and love where it exists.

Please, on behalf of me, my friends, my daughter, my community and the future church, consider NOT “taking note” of the report when it comes before Synod.

Thank you for reading this.
With my prayers

Licensed Lay Pioneer Minister

Monday, 23 January 2017

See me at "The Mighty"

At the end of last year my first story was posted at The Mighty and I've just realised I forgot to link that here.


So here it is now

Into week 3 of positivity #positive #oneword365

Day 14
mission shaped ministry comes to an end on a high
Mike and Rachel tour the oxford castle
and we end the day with a well earned curry

day 15
I'm with the young people and learning lots
then enjoying time with the church family
before planning home group sessions coming up
busy busy positivity

day 16
there's been resting and chatting
back to choir and singing
and missional praying

My New Superpower: Invisibility

Becoming disabled means accepting a superpower or two.  You know, like x-ray vision, watch out boys; and telepathy, again watch out boys; and spoon bending, I'm not sure who should watch out now.  I however haven't gained any of these famous comic book inspired superpowers, mine is much less exciting; it's invisibility.

Typically I never fancied the superpower of invisibility, or even owning am invisibility cloak; but it's a fact of life now I'm severely sight impaired and using a wheelchair.  I'm invisible.  I can't tell you whether it's the blindness or the wheelchair that makes me invisible but Rachel (wise beyond her years) thinks it's probably just being disabled which does it.

I know what you're thinking. I must be on about the fact that I can't get out of the house much any more so I'm literally invisible in society; and yes there's that great annoyance; but I'm being more abstract in my thinking.  You see I've come to realise that I have become invisible because no one thinks about what it's like to be disabled.

I'm invisible to businesses
I'm invisible to charities
I'm invisible in the media
I'm invisible in social groups
I'm invisible in sports clubs
I'm invisible in music venues
I'm invisible in churches
I'm invisible in government
As well as being invisible in society

I'm not sure what's at the route of this invisibility; it might be lack of awareness or understanding or financial concerns or ignorance or laziness; but whatever it is it has to be brought out into the open and seen for what it is.  It is not funny. It is discrimination!

It makes no business sense to make such a large proportion of society invisible, why not make your premises accessible and positive for disabled people?

It should be something to be ashamed about when you fail to meet the Disability Discrimination Act by not thinking about disabled people and what they need you to do to be made welcome.

Come on society, stop giving me a superpower I don't need.
I'm not invisible!

Buggy vs Wheelchair: You Decide

I'm sure you've seen the news reports about how a wheelchair user "won his case" to have priority in the wheelchair space over buggy's on the buses.  I am sure you might have an opinion about this.  I am sure you're sure I have an opinion about this.  And of course you're right, I do, but it might not be what you're expecting.

My opinion is that we should stop!
Stop judging
Stop pitting parents against disabled people
Stop causing arguments on buses based on lack of facts
Stop distracting everyone from the poor state of provision for wheeled users on public transport

You see there are no winners in the fight between wheelchairs and parents with buggys.  Well, actually, to be more accurate there are winners, but only the lawyers and paid for media.
The debate just doesn't work when you look at it in any detail.  How can you pit a wheelchair user against a mother of twins who are asleep?  How can you pit a disabled toddler in a buggy against an elderly person with a walking frame?  How can you pit a blind man and his guide dog against blind me in my wheelchair against my friend with twins and a toddler?

You can't.
And that's the point.
There is no easy way forward.
But that doesn't mean we give up.

Instead we should start!
Start fighting together for more flexible space on public transport
Start seeing each other as equal members in community
Start working to find solutions that work
Start communicating openly

It shouldn't be either or, it should be more!! 

More buses on busy bus routes
More spaces on all buses for wheeled forms of transport of any sort
More accessible buses on all bus routes, there are some places without low floor buses
More conversations about the rights of everyone in society to be able to get from A to B.

Positivity Continues

I know what you're thinking
She's managed five days positivity
And now she's hit a wall
Well, that is what I expected
(Based on past experience)
But I am still positive 
Here at day 23
I've not written it all down
And of course it's not smooth going
Some days it's only minutes positive
But each day, so far
I've found something to celebrate
Here are the images created
From day 6 onwards
Now I'm heading off
To catch up on images

Friday, 6 January 2017

day 5 #positive #oneword365

today wasn't great
in fact it was shit
but I decided to do
something about it
so I went out in the garden
although it was cold
and took lots of photos
of the frost over the world
it made me feel better
to be creating again
and through it I could see
some detail within

day 4 #positive #oneword365

day four
came as a shock
back to school
hitting the books
my mood suffered
all on my own
but it wasn't that long
until she was back home
art homework was huge
and a bone of contention
but in the end
we avoided excess tension
during the day
I amused myself
with instant pot cooking
and phone calls too
it's good to achieve
these things I can do
despite exhaustion
and sight loss too