Monday, 28 February 2011

God loves all, even us.

And by us I refer to the body of Christians in the UK who deem to speak on behalf of all Christians regarding homosexuality. Thankfully God loves them too. God does not discriminate against those who discriminate. Nor do I think society does, it is merely stopping those who do.

I am so fed up with the constant media prevalence of christian groups who loudly voice heir prejudiced views about the right of homosexuals to practice their live for each other, marry or adopt children. But more than that, I am angry that these same Christian groups are now complaining that Christians are not allowed to foster if they are openly discriminative towards the LGB community.

God loves us all!
Straight or gay
Black or White
Accepting of all others or not

And yes, this is the same issue as racism and slavery were; they were backed up by biblical verse too, and were also inappropriate and unacceptable. And so I believe history will frown on those who persecute the LGB community. And I do not want to be lumped in with them.

I am a Christian mum, a passionate Christian mum; I bring up my child with a strong Christian grounding. I explain all nature of difficult things to her including God, Crucifixion, Resurrection, evolution, love, marriage and yes, homosexuality. She's 5, I clearly don't go into any details; but she knows that two people can live each other and choose to spend their lives together whether they are man and woman, two men or two women.

Why do I tell her this?
For two main reasons:
1- she will encounter gay relationships and I want her to be accepting and aware of this as part of one way of living as adults.
2- I want her to know that if she discovers herself to be gay, or one if her friends, then that is just fine with me and with God

So yes, I think it is imperative that foster Carers will not openly discrminate against anyone; surely that doesn't mean openly accepting an LGB lifestyle, but being open to discuss the issues with a child and nurture them.

There you go, that's my tuppence worth, a balance to the endless articles I've been reading today complaining that society is discriminating against Christians. No, society is discriminating against those who discriminate.

Calling or skills?

I have held off writing this post until my emotions were less heightened.  I'm not sure I'm going to be calmer about it that now, so here goes.

I am called by God to ministry; to caring for people and sharing the gospel  and that is felt strongest in the community I live.  It is in the church but it is also very much at the school gate, inside pre-school and at the park.  This feels right, given, called to, natural.

Through training I have experienced the Diocese; they undertake the selection, provide the training, and arrange the LLM forum and conference.  I was asked to help with the website and I agreed; I am passionate about Internet support and usage.  But then I realised diocesan activities can be political, and I feel sucked in and overwhelmed.  It doesn't feel like my calling, it feels uncomfortable, although my skills are useful. It feels political, and competitive and far away from God. I feel like a pawn in a game, much as I was used to in a professional environment; and this is not where I see God wanting me. Some aspects of my skills I really do appreciate and use for God; I use my mentoring to encourage others in training; I happily present if asked to. But I don't want to be used by a large structure; and right now that's how it feels.

So how does this work? Should I focus on my very internally felt and outwardly confirmed calling; or should I use the God given skills of organisation and strong-mindedness? And more than that comes the fear aspect; could this post itself put my licensing at risk? Should I just agree to do what I'm asked to?

For now, with guidance from my spiritual director, vicar and ministry support group, I am stepping back into my parish focussed calling.  It feels right.  It doesn't mean I am closing doors on the skills driven activities, but for now this is my path. I am called to the community, to individuals, not to a structural organisations operations and management. I will minister within the church with integrity and thankfulness for the support, but my ministry for now is to those who God brings in my path.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

God Squad 'Samson' session

Today in God Squad we looked at Samson; here was how my plan looked:

Message: God called Samson to save the Israelites, he wasn’t perfect but he was chosen by God anyway.

Mission: We need to know how much God loves each of us, and chooses each of us to do His work.

Introductions and prayers:
Forgive me God for things I’ve done that were not kind and good, forgive me God and help me try to do the things I should.

God made me as I am, part of creations plan, no one else can ever be the part of God’s plan that’s me.

God loves you, God loves me,
We’re a happy family,
With a lot of fun and a prayer and story too,
God Squad welcomes any one new.

Game: Guess the Leader.
Everyone sits in a circle; one child chooses to leave the room.
While they are outside a leader is chosen among the kids in the circle.
The child returns and tries to guess who the leader is.
The leader will be doing things such as crossing legs, winking, yawning etc. The other players will be imitating him/her.
If the child can guess who the leader is, then they choose who guesses next.
If not then the leader has to leave the room for the next round.

Samson’s good deeds and Samson (Delilah and Philistines) on pages 42-44 in The Storyteller Bible. Samson wasn’t perfect but God called him. I’m not perfect but God calls me. Neil’s not perfect but God calls him. Are any of you perfect? I don’t think it’s possible. But God chooses you.

Let’s write a recipe card for each of us, it will say what our ingredients are which God gave us and uses for his work.

Also there’s a poster to colour if you’d like and have time.

And there’s a take home sheet for you to look at with your mum and dad.

I would like to tell you it all went completely to plan, but I'm not a liar.
The game was fun, lots of fun but it was then tricky to get the kids back into story listening mode. But they did, and they were engrossed and they answered some questions after. However I think the rain meant they were FULL of energy and so the writing/drawing activity wasn't received with too much enthusiasm. That said they all joined in and thought of all the wonderful traits God has given each of them. They fed back delightfully in church, mentioning spartacus (?) and also Samson and his hair.

The BIG news today was that I issued the invitations to the God Squad sleep over next month; should be fun, perhaps, I hope, please God!!

Sunday school joy

7:48am Sunday 27th February 2011

Rachel: is it Monday?
Me: no, it's Sunday
R: yeah, it's church; is it God Squad (Sunday school)?
Me: yes, I'm doing it this week
R: wow, I'm so lucky, it's sad other people don't get to come to church and join us in God Squad

I'm recording this for posterity.
It might not last through her teens (or it might, who knows) but at age 5 she is thrilled to go to church and join all her friends in Sunday school. St Nicolas, Earley: great Sunday school as voted by the kids!

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Knitting and Prayer

I have got very into knitting, have become a crazy knitter. I haven't found anything quite so relaxing in a very long time. Of course my infamous addictive personality means that I've ceased on those knitting needles with avengeance.

I learned how to knit a mere one month ago, and have so far knitted over a dozen items including a few small prayer cushions. I'm not sure where the idea came from for these, I just saw a rectangle of knitting and thought I could make a little cushion (literally only 2 inches square that time) and then wondered if I could sew a cross onto the front.

Rachel was blown away by that first one and comandeered it. She then said I should make one for the lady opposite and pray for her to get better when I was knitting. So I did. And it strikes me that it is a lovely thing to make for someone, a small cushion they can use to focus their prayers on and also an item which has been made with prayers said whilst knitting.

So today I have decided I might as well open my new idea to the world, and have offered individually made prayer cushions for people to buy.

I don't think I'll be getting rich anytime soon, but at least I will cover my costs and perhaps spread some joy and prayers at the same time.

Online life after death

This article by the BBC has got me thinking. 

A Box of electronic photos - the article centres on the new technological idea of putting a persons life in a "electronic memory box".  In some ways I can see it is a fab idea to have a lifetime of photos in a timeline in a special box, but it seems unnecessary really.  I can't actually imagine anyone but a genealogist being tempted to invest in this.  At the moment people either prefer hard copy albums or online albums of photos; surely this box idea falls in-between failing both sorts of people.

Online clear out - the article also refers to the need for an online clear out.  why would it be necessary to have an online clear out? After all it's what is left and provides a picture of a life.  I am happy with my online information being open to people now, why would that change.  Of course I am careful with what I share online, others might not be.  So yes, some might want a clear out - but surely this would be a good idea every year if you're not so careful with your online presence!

Online life after death - So... Who decides what will remain of a person online? the one who shared it online or their family members?  I worry that it will be all in the ownership of the next of kin.  Might they choose to present a departed's life in a different light? I wouldn't want someone else deciding what of me would remain online; surely it's all or nothing.  Memories are for our own specific recollections of the departed.

Eternal online life - the question is, will we now live forever in our online personas? And if so, Is this a good thing? Certainly it will be interesting for future generations, but are our online lives really showing our real lives.  I am guardedly open online; I don't put up any details of family fall outs or arguments and that might make my life look completely perfect - it's not!  But I have written a lot on my blogs which I would hope wouldn't be destroyed on my death; I'm not writing it for any historic purpose, but it would be a shame for it to die with me.

Bereavement aspects - I finally wonder how the online presence of a departed loved one might affect the grieving of those left behind.  It could be a pleasant place to visit the one you're missing; but this has the risk of placing your relationship with them into the online space which could affect your ability to grieve.  It could be that the online presence throws up sides of the person you didn't know or chose to forget; this could adversely change your memory of the loved one and make grief more complex.  It could be a place for you to express your grief, much as a box if photos would be.  Bereavement is a complex issue, the process of grieving important; an online presence might complicate it.  But it might also be comforting to know that someones life and musings and thoughts will remain, to be read or viewed, after their departure.  

We remain in memories of our loved ones when we die; and now we remain alive for others to share our shared moments online.  Online life after death is a minefield, but I'm glad I'll have it.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Contentment is this

I wouldn't have thought that it would be possible to have quiet reflective prayerful retreat time with Mike and Rachel in tow, but these few days at the flat have proved me wrong. Yesterday we walked along the cliff top for two hours; chatting, watching the birds, listening to the sea and just enjoying being together - perfect. Yesterday evening Rachel and I watched shooting stars, her first time; amazing at the greatness of the universe and the smallness of us.

Then this morning I took myself off for 30minutes sitting on a cliff top bench watching the sea mist burn off, the best morning prayer I've had in a long time. Pure retreat conditions.

Contentment is this!

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Thursday, 24 February 2011

Five things I want Rachel to know about my faith

1. Christianity is relational, it is about loving and being loved by God.

2. Prayer is quiet most of the time, tingly occasionally and speaks back to us rarely.  What matters is that God always listens.

3. The Bible looks like the most ominous tome but if you break it into chunks it's easier to get through and has a lot to say.

4. The church is the people not the building or the bureaucracy, keep focussing on the people if the rest gets tricky.

5. I will never criticise your faith choices, please know you can share your concerns, queries or downright disbelief with me at anytime.

 The Friday Club

Census is a coming

Census is a coming

Yes, next month we will each be sent the once a decade census form to be filled in for the household.  It will ask questions related to the number and age of the inhabitants and whether they are a family or not; it will ask for ethnicity and employment and it will ask about religion.

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I have heard on twitter that a bus advertising campaign is being launched encouraging people who don't believe in God to say so, to state "no religion".

I am thrilled by this!  sure it might mean that the census might show a drop in the number of Christians (and other religions) in the country, but at least it will accurately reflect our society as it is today.

Where I live the 2001 census showed 80% of households as Christian; so where are they all on Sunday morning? And no, I don't think you have to belong to a church to be a Christian, I wasn't for over 10 years, but you get my point.  

Being a Christian is a choice, a turning to Christ, a commitment to follow.  It'll be nice to see how people many in the in 2011 consider themselves as religious; exciting times.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Fix You

Five hours in the car in motorway traffic jams. Umpteen games of I-spy, 20 questions, I went shopping and guess who. Listening to stories being read to me, making up stories for her. And then the quiet of a snoozing child.

I guess the conversation with Rachel this morning about my miscarriages was still with me, even after blogging about it; I was deep in thought and memory and then this song came on.

Coldplay live at Gladtonbury sing Fix You

Fix You

When you try your best but you don't succeed
When you get what you want but not what you need
When you feel so tired but you can't sleep
Stuck in reverse

And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can't replace
When you love someone but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

And high up above or down below
When you're too in love to let it go
But if you never try you'll never know
Just what you're worth

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

I have been working so hard on the urge to "fix" me, them and everyone; but in the last year that need in me has been fixed and I now walk alongside rather than try to do anything. This song will always speak to me, but not in the soul torturing way it did.

Sunday School is a Ministry

Today I have been working on preparing a session for this weeks sunday school; it has taken me about 2 hours and there'll be at least another hour or two before the session is delivered. At least half of this time is prayerful research, thought and listening to what I am meant to be sharing with the kids. The process is exactly the same as I use when preparing a sermon; no more, no less.

After my post on children's ministry a few days ago I have had a lot of positive comments about how important it is and also how concerning it is that the majority of those leading our children on a sunday morning have no training or qualifications. This does not mean that they are any less called or skilled, I believe those called to children's ministry are some of the most amazing people in the world; but it draws attention to the fact that the "church" organisation views ministry to children as less difficult or important than ministry from the pulpit to the adults.

There is no doubt in my mind that my preparation and delivery of sunday school has changed and improved since I have been trained in preaching and leading worship; I have learned skills and gained confidence and now rely more on prayer than on my own intellectual knowledge. I am much more willing to let a session go where the Holy Spirit (often through the kids) takes it; knowing that a message will be given and received. I make sure I prepare thoroughly, but I am not a slave to that prep when it comes to the delivery.

These things I have learned I have shared with the other sunday school leaders. I hope to pass on the confidence to allow God to work through them. I hope to encourage them and build their belief in their abilities. I hope to help them see their very important role in the life of the church and especially the children they minister to.

And that's what I'd like the church to know;
Sunday School leading is a Ministry!
Of God, for God, with God.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Prayers for the new Zealand and the world

I am shocked this morning to see the news of a large earthquake hitting Christchurch, New Zealand. Today let us include this city and all it's people in our prayers.

Lord we bring before you those suffering in Christchurch today, we ask that your arms surround them in love and healing. Amen.

Seeing the destruction of the beautiful city and especially the cathedral has rocked me. It seems that the natural world is on a rampage at the moment; earthquakes, floods, hurricanes. And then there's the human world in turmoil in the middle east. I could just watch BBC news 24-7 and pray endlessly for the needs in the world.

Father we see suffering across the world, we know you share in our anguish and grief, may you continue to be a comfort for all those in need. Amen

And yet today we see the miracles:
- the conference of doctors and the naval ships in the harbour in Christchurch, ready to help.
- the activists demanding and obtaining peace, stability and equality in the middle east
- the care and love of all in the world for those separated by distance but not love

Jesus we thank you for your presence in the world; for the courage you showed us and which we draw from, for the compassion you gave and which we mirror, for the concern for the injured and oppressed which we continue. Amen

Monday, 21 February 2011

Children's ministry

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First off let me be clear, this post has been in my mind for many months but has been prompted today by some fantastic writing by "random doodles from the curates wife" blog here

"Children’s groups during the service do not exist to take the children out of the service and create a sense of calm and order, they exist because we all need to be spiritually nurtured and receive teaching according to our appropriate stage of development and for most children the sermon does not meet that need.  Children need to be accepted for who they are, as individual children of God. They come with their own needs and it is our duty as adults, in prayer and action, to support their spiritual growth.  The children who worship with us are not “the future of the church” they are fellow members of the church."

Sunday school (God Squad, Focus and Focus plus at St Nicolas) exists to spiritually nurture and support the growth of children according to their relevant stage of development.  It is NOT a crèche or a form of entertainment for the children.

As Sunday school leaders we plan sessions prayerfully; thinking about the message and mission of the session and how it can be delivered in a manner the kids will understand and enjoy.  We meet as leaders, pray as leaders and speak the word of God as leaders.

I put as much effort into my Sunday school leading as I do into my preaching; it is of at least equal importance in my mind.  We have up to 20 children age 4-10 in God Squad (and at least 12 more in the older groups); sure it is challenging to meet the needs of all of them, but we do the very best we can with our resources and the children enjoy it and are growing.

I have heard several people comment about how the children seem to be learning a lot from Sunday school these days; alleluia!  How they go in eagerly and have lots to share afterwards; yeah! However I have also heard comments from some about how the kids would be better off just hearing a story and doing sone colouring; aaaargggh!

What I do know is that working with children is as challenging as it is rewarding, shares as much as it teaches, and is a key part of Christ's ministry.  Well if Jesus told us to come as children, that's more than good enough for me.  I just wish more adults could do the same. 

Middle east prayers

I was reading The Guardian today and focussing on the news in the
Middle east here. I have been shocked by the unrest in the middle east, glued to the tv news (BBC news is my preference) since things started getting 'exciting' in Egypt. I was thrilled to see the influence of the people bringing about change on the streets of Cairo and felt fear of unrest change to hope for a free future. And then the change inspired others around the middle east to demand their own changes. But of course this involves each country experiencing their own demonstrations with possible violence, injury and loss of life. And so we now see Bahrain, Tehran, Libya and Yemen all suffering instability. I hope and pray that personal freedoms are achieved, that change for the best is brought about, that loss of life is avoided.

But that's not really what this post is focussed on.
I have heard a number of people in real life, bloggers and church leaders I follow online voice the possibility that this unrest is the bringing about of the biblical prophecy of destruction of non believers. I am shocked and dismayed by this proposition, the idea that retribution is being enacted by God. I am worried on a number of levels:
1- God is a God of love, of forgiveness, of tolerance; I cannot believe He is not grieving loss of life along with us all
2- the proposition is exclusive; suggesting that the Islamic faith (which dominate this country) is against the will of God
3- the possibility discussed is divisive; possibly causing further rifts between the christian and Muslim communities in the middle east and world wide. At this time especially we need to focus on how we can all live in harmony together, as faiths different but respective and tolerant of each other.

So I pray; that peace and progressive freedom is achieved in the middle east; that Christians and Muslims can continue living together and develop the success of their relationships alongside each other; and that any mention of Gods retribution in that area be eliminated, instead allowing us to focus on God's love for us all.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Formed by God

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I'm obviously breaking my #silentsunday agreement but that's just the sort of loose canon I am :)

Yesterday LLMs in Oxford Diocese spent a day together in fellowship for prayer, reflection, sharing on our future, lunch and saying goodbye to our much missed LLM Advisor. It was an emotional day but immensely positive and healing for me to see how passionate us called lay people are to God's ministry.

Sheila led us through the morning wonderfully, as always, and the part that struck me most was about how we are each formed by God very specifically. She showed us how if you take a ball of clay in the palm of your hands and mould it, it becomes stone shaped. The result is different every time depending on the suze and density of the clay and the pressure and heat of the hands. But the result is always a perfect, stable, individual stone shape.

As a civil engineer I studied geology and was intrigued and beguiled by the formation of pebbles; yesterday took me back to that and put myself into the place of the pebble - perfect, always changing to fit and be as required. Of course civil engineers are also taught how to build - pretty important that. We are taught about the importance of uniform shapes and known densities and strengths and bending moments and various forces (wow, that takes me back). However we are also reminded about the ancient techniques of arch construction and even dry stone walling. A dry stone wall requires stones of all sizes that are put together, just so, to fit perfectly in a strong formation.

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Sheila spoke of this; how we as LLMs are the various necessary stones in a dry wall, that it's together that we are strong and supportive and load bearing. How powerful a thought. And it's as true for families and communities and churches. It's fantastic because God formed us each individually, perfectly; knowing that together we would be even stronger.

Thank you Sheila for this message, thankyou for your inspiration; thankyou for reminding me that I am formed by God, in the palm of his hands, just as I am. The stone you made, that I selected, will forever be part of my prayer basket now.

Silent Sunday - The Maker of the Sun and Moon

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Saturday, 19 February 2011

Gay weddings in churches

I'd just like to come out of the closet and say.....

I will celebrate when the Church of England joins other churches in holding and encouraging gay weddings in our churches.

This may not be a popular view, nor that of the CofE, but it is mine and I await the day

Friday, 18 February 2011

God at Kwik fit

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I have spent an hour this morning at kwik fit having my tyres replaced, not something I enjoy because it costs a fortune, but hey.   Whilst I was waiting I was tweeting and emailing and doing my daily bible reading on my iPhone, I don't waste opportunities like this to catch up.  

I hadn't really noticed a mature lady sitting next to me until she said "that looked like a cross on your phone screen, what are you reading?". So I told her I was reading my bible.  
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She was amazed that I had a bible on my phone but equally surprised that I read it every day.  So we got chatting and God got into the conversation.  It turns out she lost her faith a decade or so ago and stopped reading her bible then. She asked me what I got from my daily reading and I told her I learned more about my faith, about God and mostly about me and how I live my life.

From this she started asking what I do in life and I told her about motherhood, volunteering and being an LLM.  She told me about her life at my age which was surprisingly similar.  It was lovely to share.

Her tyres were ready before mine and when she left she said "I think we were meant to meet today, I think I might dig out my bible".  

Wow, I would not have picked Kwik Fit to see God at work!

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Comic Relief - getting involved

Rachel and I were watching Blue Peter today and hearing all about Red Nose Day events. Rachel has never before been particularly moved by appeals, but this time it is different. She was as moved as I always am and asked if we could do something to raise money for "all the children in africa".

So today we make our commitment to organise and run a cake bake sponsored event followed by a cake sale with all money going to Comic Relief 2011.

The thing is Rachel is a child of the 21st century, a child of love, a child of the church, a child of God; and she sees bigger than I ever did at her age. For her it is great that we are doing something, but she says she's going to ask all her friends to join in and also said "if you put it on your blog and tweet it then lots of people you know can do it too!"

she's 5 and she knows "tweet" as a verb
she's aware that blogging something means people read it
she really thinks she can get people to join her

I'm not sure, I'm worried she'll get her hopes up.... BUT maybe I should have her faith and go with it.

so who's with Rachel?
who will join in her plan to have sponsored cake bakes and sales around the country?
I can't tell you how much I'd love it if her faith was proven true!

Everyone who wants to take part will bake cakes of any shape, size or form on Wednesday 16th March 2011.
You get sponsored for how many cakes you can make in the day.
Then you take these cakes to people and sell them, collecting money for Red Nose Day.
Sounds easy, is easy, could raise lots of money, will make a difference!

Here is Rachels RND URL -
And join her Team at URL -

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

God loves me as I am

This week, as part of the Open Door Retreat I have been praying on Luke 7:36-50.  It has had much to tell me but the part which has resonated particularly is this

"Her sins which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much.  Your faith has saved you, go in peace."

I have sinned, I do sin, I am a sinner.

I'm not proud of it, I try my very best to do better everyday, and I still fail.  And then I beat myself up and feel worse and get despondent and downhearted.

I confess my sins, I try to do better, I am forgiven.  But I find it hard to believe that I am good enough for God to love.

Well this quote from Luke reminds me that Jesus net and accepted the fallen woman and forgave her.  So perhaps, maybe, possibly ... No, definitely, I can be forgiven too.

Jesus forgave her, he forgives me too and he loves me as I am, sinner and all!

All you need is love

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The three loves of my life.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Happy valentines 2011

Fifteen years ago tonight Mike and I went on our first date, after weeks or maybe months of something that might seem more than friendship.

15 years!
Where have those years gone?
And tonight we celebrated with a meal at home together knowing Rachel was safely snoozing upstairs.

Would we have anticipated this all those years ago, no way.
Do we look back to those days with longing, not on your nelly.
Have the love changed, yes, many times.
But today I still choose Mike, he still chooses me and we both choose Rachel above all else.

Happy valentines night

Valentines: love or hate?

I had no idea what Valentines would cause such pain for a gorgeous 5 year old Rachel; after all she had a valentines card from me and even a perfect handmade one from her boyfriend Adam. But I was being far too innocent; I didn't realise that school would be a valentines fest today and that she would feel dejected by not receiving a card from anyone at school. This is year 1, she's 5, what has the world come to? I suddenly hate valentines day!!

It's funny really because for the last 20 years or so I'd forgotten the utter pain and humiliation and dejection that was valentines day. Of course this didn't start at age 5, no, not in our day; it started at secondary school. I remember that awful knowledge that everyone would be talking about how many cards they received and I would have to lie or be humiliated. Well I've always been an awful liar so humiliated I was, year after year after year until I was 16 when things started to change.

20 years on, during which time I have had many lovely valentines days (including for the last 15 years the meeting anniversary with my fabulous hubby) I had forgotten the pain but now it's right back in my face. I am not a happy bunny!!

Just look at my gorgeous girl, look at her; and she's even more adorable when you get to know her and hear all her fabulous chatter about life, the universe and everything. How could she be anything but a magnet for valentines cards?

Well I am learning something; unless you are brash and loud then you are nothing in the school environment. She is neither; she is quiet, preferring small groups and proper conversations, than popularity contests. I am proud of her, she is full of love and has amazing confidence I never had and I am DETERMINED that today will not knock this.

And so I am thankful upon thankful upon thankful for a fabulous new school and church friend who made her some heart shaped biscuits which helped her recover from her tears as we left school. Thankyou, you know who you are; today you brought smiles and love back to my heartbroken girl and reminded me that Valentines day is about love and we are surrounded by it.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Salt of Earth, Light of World Sermon

Here is it finally, a week after it was preached, the sermon from last sunday (6th February 2011) on Salt of the Earth and Light of the World.

Lectionary readings:
Isaiah 58: 1-9
Psalm 112: 1-9
1Corinthians 2: 1-12
Matthew 5:13-20

Sermon Points:

1. Praise or Criticism?

Do you prefer to be praised or criticised?
Carrot or stick?
Certificate or naughty step?

Praise encourages us to try more, do more, it is Good News.
Criticism makes us miserable, there is little point in trying again.

This is what Jesus is talking about in the sermon presented in Matthew’s Gospel.

2. Salt of the Earth
Salt – valuable – used as pay for roman soldiers
As valuable as gold or oil is today
It was important that there was salt in the land, to fertilise and nourish, if there was no salt then land was unusable

Jesus uses this analogy to show us how we need to be the salt,
we need to be God’s disciples in the world
enriching, nurturing, nourishing, useful

3. Light of the World
Jesus then says we should be the light of the world
As Jesus was himself
Light is:
- vision in the dark
- direction to guide others
- reflection of Christ in the world

Jesus is telling the disciples, and us as disciples, to light the way
To help people see God
To guide others to and through faith
To be Christ like ourselves
All thanks to the work of the Holy Spirit in us all

4. God at Work today
Today as I have said, our lectionary readings focus on
Salt of the earth and light of the world

Today Neil, Maureen and Wendy are in Ndola in Zambia at the Jubilee Centre. The Jubilee Centre’s mission is “to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world”.

God is at work as much today as he was when Jesus was walking the earth. As the Holy Spirit, in us and everyone.

5. Mission in Zambia
So if we are called to be salt and light the question is …
I’m going to read a letter that Lawrence at the Jubilee Centre wrote to the local children……..

This speaks to me of the need for mission to Zambia, as to many other countries in Africa and throughout the world. Zambia needs money, support, prayer, campaigning, justice and more.

But more that that, Lawrence’s letter tells me of all we can learn from the people of Zambia and from the mission activities of places like the Jubilee Centre.

A relationship with a church in Zambia could give us a better understanding of community and how we could encourage it; a reflection on the materialistic culture we live in and it’s problems; and the real meaning of giving. A two way mission.

6. Mission at Home
So how do we enact this learning from Zambia here is Earley?
Let me take you back to the first things I said.
Do we prefer to be criticised or praised?

God empowers us to work with the Holy Spirit in the world.
To be the salt
To be the light
We should reflect God’s goodness in our lives, in our actions.
We spread the Good News through ourselves, more than words.

Let us not criticise the world,
Let us change it with praise and encouragement,
Let us demonstrate God within us as the Holy Spirit,
Let us be Paul like, as the people at the Jubilee Centre show us.

Jubilee Centre in Zambia

Last week I preached on Being the Salt of the Earth and the Light of the World and about the mission work being undertaken by the Jubilee Centre in Zambia. Our clergy and church administrator were worshipping at one of the churches in Ndola at the same time, as part of a visit to look at twinning with a church there. The lectionary and the trip fitted perfectly, God at work.

So here I want to share the very little I know about the Jubilee Centre and their amazing work. I hope one day soon to go visit myself, and then you will hear ad infinitum about their work; but for now I will share what I have learned from my research and from hearing from our church travellers now they're home.

From the Jubilee Centre website:
"Jubilee Centre is a Zambian Christian NGO - working to empower churches, communities and their leaders to grow spiritually, flourish physically and have a voice in the world."

There are a myriad of projects being undertaken by the Jubilee Centre including:
borehole drilling

training teachers

childrens work

opening churches in old beer halls

developing church leaders

feeding projects

supporting child led households
Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

and many more; being...salt of the earth and light of the world.

We in the UK and around the developed world have much to learn from the Jubilee Centre; about community, love, caring and supporting each other. How much are we truly aiming to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world?

for the other posts in this series see:
What a difference positive feedback makes
Preparing for a service
God at work
and Salt and Light Service

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Would God like a valentines card?

This weekend there are bound to be thousands of people buying cards, bears, flowers, and other valentines paraphernalia ready for the Monday love in. Restaurants will be booked, money spent, post awaited and possibly surprises given. There might also be the disappointment and loneliness for those who perhaps do not have that one special someone in their life right now, for them Monday could be a day to endure. Personally I have mixed feelings about valentines, I think the cards are wonderful but I refuse to pay the inflated prices for flowers and restaurants.

This year I have bought cards for Mike and Rachel and will, as ever, enjoy their happiness as they open them. I have already received a gorgeous hand made card from Rachel and watched her make one for her special someone.

But I haven't made anything for the other major love of my life, the one whose love I am thankful for and celebrate each morning and night. Would God like a card? Where would I send it? How long would the post take? Would He appreciate a gift in His name instead? Perhaps a goat to a community in India, or Medicines to children in Africa.

I have never before thought of God as part of my valentines plans; but this year I will at very least send my thanks for His unconditional love in prayer on Monday morning. How about you?

Friday, 11 February 2011

Caring Society part2

I have the feeling that I might have quite a number of posts about our Di called social "care" system, so I'm embracing it and calling this part two.

This post is in response to the news today, best written by the BBC at about a young mum whose 6 month old was taken into care in Oldham 18 months ago.  This mum, herself brought up in the care system, is fighting for her child all the way to the European Courts.

I have two sets of emotions about this case and the care system:

1 - what a fabulous job the care system did for this young mum, she has clearly learned the importance and meaning of true love.  Sure she might have made mistakes, but show me a mum who hasn't.  But she is fighting for her own child, she is concerned to break the circle of care, she wants to nurture her child and will do whatever is needed to do so.  I applaud this nameless mum; I wish her well; I pray she wins this case.

2 - what does the Oldham social care system thinks it's doing taking a child into care on "possible future threat". You've got to be kidding!  Provide support, input, training, supervision, resources; keep a child with their parents wherever possible.  I worked with a family that had a similar situation and had a similar outcome; it is, in my view, inexcusable.  As a society we should be telling the "care" systems to care for families, not destroy them!

I pray that the now 2 year old is being well cared for, and that the care system can bring her back to her mum's care and support them as a family unit.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Egypt Crisis and Mubarak's Speech

I am not quite sure what to say. I really thought Mubarak would step down. But no, he has got a stubborn streak greater than mine and he's sticking in there until September.

I don't think I've been this shaken by a news event since 911; I am upset, concerned and fearful for how poor Egypt is going to cope with this over the coming days, weeks and months.

So tonight, as the Muslim Egyptians head into their day of prayer, I pray with them for peace, compassion, progressive change and understanding throughout the country. Let us pray that Egypt does not erupt, that no more lives are lost, and that their positive exciting future is not marred by a bloody, horrific period of change.

Schindler's List by Emma

It has been many years since I have watched Schindler's List, at least 6; so this is the first time since becoming a mum.  I was reading something recently about the holocaust and the film came to mind and I knew I needed to watch it again.

This must be the seventh or eighth time I've watched the film; the first being at The Odeon Cinema in Cobham, with my dad, in 1993 on it's release. I remember a cinema in tears that day; red eyes and sobs as well as left; I remember being completely moved by a film for the first time.

And today the same reaction but in a very different way.  Today I watched it as a mum.  With an even greater empathy for the separated families and the horror of it all for children and parents.

Today, knowing the plot and cinematography so well, I saw different things.  I saw the pure philanthropy of Schindler knowing more of what it took to somehow be playing two roles.  I saw the amazing acting of Mr Fiennes (why did he not win an Oscar for his acting?) whom I detested at a new level and was warmed to see changing under nurture by Schindler. I heard the music, it had never really struck me before.  And I saw the girl in red, more times than I thought I saw before, and she moved me.

But more than this; today this film has reminded me how important it is that we never forget the holocaust.  That we keep a close eye on the world for the same going on today.  That we stand up as individuals and say to our leaders - never again.  That we teach our children about acceptance and togetherness and that discriminatory behaviour is unacceptable.  That we ask our churches to stand in the world and demand, with all other religious leaders, that we can all live together in peace.

Today this post will go on both my blogs; as a film review on and as a reflection on history and society on

On both aspects of the review the line of the film which stays with me is:
"this list is an absolute good, it is life."

Schindler's List saved but a few; but his actions for change must speak to generations throughout time as a model of doing the right thing even when it seems impossible.

God at work

God at work in church

Church is God's house.  Church is NOT the bricks and mortar and stain glass windows and candles and banners.  

Church IS the people of God, the community of Christ.  God is not at work in the church; God works in, with and through the church.

So how is God at work?
God calls us to mission work, He calls us to follow Jesus' example to undertake mission within our communities and further in the world.

For many of us this is through parenthood.  For others it is through caring professions such as doctors, nurses, teachers and social workers. And for Christians it is through loving and caring for the community through service inside the church itself or outside with home visiting, pastoral care, Children's work and campaigning against the unjust.

I believe (and preached on Sunday) that the carrot works better than the stick.  In St Nicolas Earley we have a myriad of missional people who give their time, resources and energy within and out with our community.  It reminded us all of our calling to mission, to see Gods work through ourselves; we are God St work.

Simplifying Baptism language 

General Synod have this week been discussing the proposal to simplify some if the language in the baptismal liturgy.  This issue has been in and out of the news for several weeks with all sorts of crazy headlines including "taking Christianity out if christenings" and similar.  

I'm pleased to say that the BBC has reported sensibly, as I expect of them; discussing the real issues about parents and godparents understanding the service when they choose to have their child baptised.

So what do I think?
Well I am no liturgical traditionalist, but I love the formality and weight of the baptism service. It is a weighty decision to have your child baptised into the church, I like that the service shows this.

We are discussing re-introducing baptism courses at church which will help that parents and godparents understand the decision, commitment and service.  Surely this is a better idea than simplifying the service alone.

The service can be hard for the guests to understand, but surely it is down to the priest to help explain the service as part of the presiding role.  I have never just blindly read a liturgy at a service, it is explained and enhanced as part of the presiding.

Basically I'm not opposed totally to these plans, but I do wonder whether it is perhaps missing the bigger issues of education of both churches and baptism families.

What do you think?

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Do you have DAD?

And no I don't mean do you have A dad!
According to this BBC article by Colm O'Regan there is a condition called Divided Attention Disorder which you and I and most people you know could be said to suffer from.

So let's diagnose ourselves.
1. Do you have many Internet sites open at once?
2. Do you check twitter, facebook and blogs regularly?
3. Do you multi-task at work, home and play?
4. Does your phone have your calendar, email, photos and more on it?
5. Do you watch tv and surf the Internet/read/knit etc?
6. Do you worry about your work to-do list whilst on the way home?
7. Do you have a fiction, reference and other book all being read on your kindle?

If you answer yes to more than 4 of these (no this is not scientific) then I diagnose you with DAD!
Either that or you're a woman, or a successful business leader, or an entrepreneur, or a mum or dad; or perhaps you're a doctor, nurse, lawyer, engineer, teacher or anyone who works these days.

You see I agree with Colm O'Regan; surely this has always existed. Surely in our caves millions of years ago we were flitting between collecting bugs, lighting fires, fighting off mammoths, searching for food and looking after the kids. In those times I'm sure DAD was a survival technique.

I am the first to diagnose myself, but I value the skill.
I can read for hours at a time. I can loose myself in an activity. But I can also balance many thoughts, ideas and activities at once when needed or wanted. I like to maximise my time, I'd hate to go back to my first work days where I wasted half my working day waiting for something that technology now assists.

So come on, join me in the proud declaration. I have DAD!

Preparing for a service

I said I would blog on the preparation needed for a service such as the ones I prepped for last Sunday. I am doing this both as a way of reflecting on what I did and how it worked; and also because I think it might be interesting to people who have not before prepared for a service.

So here goes; here are the stages I went through in preparing for the Sunday Service.
1. Get the readings for the day - 3 weeks beforehand
For me this means going to the lectionary, finding the right week, the main service and then noting down the OT, Psalm, NT and Gospel readings allocated. I tend to load them onto my iPhone so I can read them easily each day.

2. Pray on the readings - for 2 weeks
I like to read and pray on the readings for a couple of weeks before the service. This helps me really enter into the text, the meaning and hear what message I am meant to be conveying. At this point I will usually note down any thoughts or themes which are speaking to me.
This photo shows my thoughts on the themes for last sunday.

3. Finalise the order of service
For last Sunday I was focussing on mission in Africa so I used the Kenyan Anglican Church liturgy. easy; pull it off the shelf in the sacristy and run with it.

4. Organise the hymns
For our church this means speaking to the organist and other musicians about who wil be playing; and then liaise with them to ensure that the theme of the service will be reflected through the hymns. It is an iterative process I have discovered and works fabulously as long as the preacher knows enough in advance what they plan to say.

5. Research the text - 1 week before the service
I sit down formally a week before the service and read the texts in different bibles; I look at commentaries getting some more detail about the historicity, theology and interpretations of the readings.

As you can see, this means a desk full of information which can be overwhelming but is easier to cope with when prayer is used.

6. More prayer - ongoing
You can't underestimate the power of prayer in the preparing of a service; for inspiration, for messages, for calm, for words. And for me, for images because those I know don't come from me!

7. Develop the themes - the week leading up
I keep going back to the themes from the readings and with prayer look at the three or four main points that are to be focussed on in the sermon. This I find hard because I hate to miss anything out; but I have learned the hard way that too much dilutes the whole thing.

This week I was clearly guided and it was given to me that "Salt of the Earth and Light of the Earth" should be the focus.

8. Draft the sermon - week leading up and by Thursday.
I have a number of techniques for drafting the sermon.
First I make notes, normally on my iPhone - rambling, confusing if necessary.
Second I try to form these into the structure.
Third I write bullet points for a sermon that I could read if necessary.
Fourth I mind map the outline of the sermon which is a back up if needed.
Fifth I write the four or five messages on a small piece of paper, this is my crib sheet for the podium.

9. Add elements of the sermon's message into the whole flow of the service - by Thursday
As a member of the congregation I value the work put in when a service feels like a whole; when the messages of the sermon are introduced and reviewed throughout the liturgy. This is what I like to do myself and this takes work once the sermon is written; it is well worth it though.

10. Rehearse, pray, hand it over to God - till the second before the service starts
did I mention prayer? without it I would never embark on the crazy activity of putting myself in front of a congregation. I pray mostly for the holy spirit's words on my lips, strength in my stomach and love in my heart.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Psalm 139 speaks to me

Psalm 139
O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. 
[2] You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 
[3] You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 
[4] Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. 
[5] You hem me in---behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. 
[6] Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. 
[7] Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 
[8] If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 
[9] If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 
[10] even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. 
[11] If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," 
[12] even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. 
[13] For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. 
[14] I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 
[15] My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 
[16] your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 
[17] How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 
[18] Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you. 
[19] If only you would slay the wicked, O God! Away from me, you bloodthirsty men! 
[20] They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name. 
[21] Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord, and abhor those who rise up against you? 
[22] I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies. 
[23] Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 
[24] See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

I have been praying on psalm139 as part of the open door retreat this week.  This is my adopted psalm, always has been.  

Usually I focus on "you created my inmost person" because it speaks to me as a sinner, that I may fail but God created me inside and out.  It also speaks to me as a mum, especially a mum of angels, because it reminds me that they were and are loved by God.

But this week the verse that has spoken to me is "All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.". 

God knows my past and knows my future, not the details specifically, not in a way that he controls my actions or what happens to me; but as a whole. He knows my path, my reason for being, my meaning and my calling.  It reminds me how He knows me intimately and has me safe.

This week I have moved from fearful and childlike and grieving for that, to loved by a Father who knows me.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Talking therapies for children

Here is the link to the BBC story.

I hope this does happen because talking therapies for children who are depressed or anxious is very much needed. I have to say though it seems surprising against the backdrop of NHS cuts, but hope shall not fade.

I think society is finally coming round to the idea that children's depression, worries, anxieties and panic are very real and inhibiting and need to be supported wherever possible. In generations gone by it has been assumed that children would "get over it", but statistics show that this rarely happens. In fact it is often found that children who suffer with depression subsequently, in their teens, turn to alcohol or drugs to help themselves feel better, leading to addiction and worse mental health problems. Helping children who need it can only be a good thing, it will allow them to reclaim their childhoods as well as reducing the likelihood that their mental health will decline in adulthood.

Let's all hope this plan is true because the children of today are the adults of tomorrow and their mental health matters to us all.

Miscarriage and Still Birth

I know I've posted on it before, and no doubt will again, but the news today has brought baby loss very much back into everyone's minds. So let me start with prayers and thoughts for Amanda Holden and her family as they grieve the loss of their baby.

I have suffered four miscarriages in first and second trimesters, the loss of these babies was the most traumatic experiences of my life and have shaped the life I now lead. I see each and every birth as a miracle now, how could it be anything else when for so many pregnancies birth is not guaranteed. I value human life above all else. I thank God for each successful healthy birth. But more than that I attempt to raise awareness of miscarriage and still birth where-ever I can.

I am a telephone support for the Miscarriage Association and run an annual Service of Remembrance for the Babyloss awareness week. I speak about my experience as part of my life, which it is; and hope that this means that people know that it is much more common than many believe. If even one person can reach for support or help support someone else they know, then my sharing is worth it.

So today as we think of Amanda and her family I also ask you to think of the charities which support families who will not their children grow up. Please support the Miscarriage Association and SANDS.

links to my other posts on the subject:

Sunday, 6 February 2011

What a difference positive feedback makes

Later this week I will provide a detailed post on a number of things from today including:
- preparing for a service
- God at work in our church
- Jubilee Centre, Zambia
- 6th February 2011 sermon

But for now I just want to briefly comment on the feedback I have received today.

I naturally best myself up, I worry about the mistakes and get concerned that I haven't lived up to expectations. This has always been true, through school, university, my professional career and now in ministry. However the stakes feel much higher in ministry because it is so important to me that I get it right, it feels like I could fail God if I go wrong. And yes, this is being tackled in supervision!

So I appreciate feedback, especially positive, because it balances out my inner feedback.
Well today I have been blown away.
The main service was amazingly encouraging and I can't count how many people came up to me to thank and congratulate. I even had one member of the congregation say that was the first sermon they've ever listened to all the way through (shush, don't tell the vicar!). People said it touched them and informed them and was real and interesting.

Then the family service, always a select and lovely bunch, shared how much they love my sermon style and how it always opens the gospel to them. It was unexpected since I preach and preside at that service all the time, and it was much appreciated.

I have a fear that my ego is basking too much in this praise (see how I beat myself up) but honestly, it means more to me than words can express and makes all the hard work oh-so-worth-it!!

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Save our libraries day of action - 5th February 2011.

Today from midday there will be read-ins inside libraries around England and Wales.  This is a peaceful mass action event to show just how much we love and need our network of local libraries.

Why are they proposing to close libraries?

The recession is here to stay for the foreseeable, we all know this requires that district and county councils reduce their costs by as much as 20%.  However the way these organisations are saving this money seems to be by attacking the easiest targets first, and libraries are one of these.

Libraries are seen as "non essential" services

Libraries do not rank highly on the traditional rankings of services we public want.

Closing a small local library, well I bet the powers that be thought no one would really notice.

Why do I oppose these plans?

I love our libraries.

I see the broad service libraries provide across the whole age range of our society.

I borrow books from the libraries for my own personal reading.

I borrow factual books for us and our kids if we need to research something.

I take my children to libraries from as young as 3 months for rhyme times and story times and to introduce them to the fantastic world of reading.

I use library computer resources when there are no others.

I appreciate the skill of librarians to help us find books, try new books and order in books we would like to borrow.

I believe that removing libraries will affect the individuals and communities who use them.

What can we do to stop these library closures?
- write to your mp
- ask your local paper to cover the issue and how it will affect you all
- speak to your local library and join in any action they are planning
- start or sign a petition

For a child's view see

If we think we have no power to stop these closures then we will not try.  Please do what you can, together who knows what we can achieve.

Friday, 4 February 2011

My Dream Home

There are two pictures in this post that I drew in "my dream home" exercises we do with kids age 7 to 11. The idea is that you draw any house you like, anywhere you like, anytime you like, with whoever living there you like. It's a complete dream so it can we as wild and wacky and off the wall as you want. The kids love it, it's not often they're provided with a blank sheet of paper and a free reign. I love it too; it's great to see what the kids produce and it's also fun to have a go myself and see where I am taken with art materials.

So here is the first one I did, in November 2010.

And here is the second one, from last month.

So why am I posting these?
Well I have been worrying about them a little bit. Not staying up at night stressing, but just returning to thinking about it in a spare minute. Let me explain.

The first dream home is a castle; a large fortress of a castle with tall towers, protected windows, a substantial moat and a heavy drawbridge. There are pretty stars and butterflies and a huge moon and the family seem happy; but it is overall a fortress.

The second dream home couldn't be more different. It is a cottage in the forest, like something from a Mr Men book. Again there are a happy family and the house is pretty but look deeper. Around the house on one side is a wood with crow/raven type birds flying around and some protective owls; on the other side is an overly large meadow of flowers with huge insects and spiders. There is a road around the perimeter of the house but between this road and the front door is a maze of complicated maze like paths. So again I am looking at my creation and seeing a fortress.

So why am I drawing pretty houses protected as fortresses as my dream homes?
No doubt I am feeling the need to protect my family from the outside influences of the world, and possible some closer to home; but more than that I think I am showing how fearful I am about our happiness and safety, issues for prayer and therapy and more thought over the weeks and months to come.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Open door retreat: ANNIE'S SONG by John Denver

This song was one of those played at the open door retreat this week.  It has been in my head ever since so this morning I prayed on the words.

Here they are:

You fill up me senses like a night in a forest 
Like the mountains in springtime, like a walk in the rain 
Like a storm in the desert, like a sleepy blue ocean 
You fill up my senses come fill me again. 

Come let me love you, let me give my life to you 
Let me drown in your laughter, let me die in your arms 
Let me lay down beside you, let me always be with you 
Come let me love you, come love me again.

You fill up my senses like a night in a forest 
Like the mountains in springtime, like a walk in the rain 
Like a storm in the desert, like a sleepy blue ocean 
You fill up my senses, come fill me again.

The words are speaking to me in a number of ways:
- they capture the very essence of the relationship I have with God, and for me that connection is never stronger than in nature.
- they speak of the love I have for Rachel, so pure and all consuming
- but also they speak of the love I wish I shared with my mum.  They capture the grief I feel for not having a mother relationship with her, especially now I know the sheer joy of being a mother.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

What I'd spend £1000 on.....

I follow @NickiCawood on twitter and read her blog curly and candid.  She wrote a post ( asking what you would spend £1000 on if it couldn't go in the kids or bills or be given away or invested.  

I commented with the following:
"west end musical with girlie friends, weekend at a luxury hotel with Mike, photography family session by professional and new bedroom wardrobes for our bedroom"
Nicki remarked how very lovely and luxurious all this sounded.  And that got me to thinking.

My life is very much about giving out my energy and emotions; to Mike, to Rachel, to church, to charities, to other things I can't find the names for right now.  I adore this, love it, feel energised by it; but I also get exhausted and need treats for me.  Pure, unadulterated, me focussed pampering.

The other things I've realised is that I treasure memories above almost all else (and the photos that trigger my memories).  I love to think back to great times and events, to reminisce alone or with others, to smile at the times gone by.  And therefore I also love to look ahead to memory giving events, it's the anticipation of the memory that will be created.

So yes, if I was gifted money I would spend it on time with family and friends that was memorable.

Oh, and in reality I'd like to bring Rachel to the west end musical as well so we could enjoy together, and probably review it.  And I'd replace wardrobe purchases with a treat family day designed by her, but that was against the rules. 

Posted both on and

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Open door retreat week2

Today was the second of the open door retreat mornings. We started by sharing where our prayers have taken us this week which I expected to be straightforward, but what poured out of me was anxiety and fear, I hadn't expected it to be so overwhelming right then.

The morning went downhill emotionally from that point and only thanks to God's arms round me did I manage not to completely break down. We were thinking about our creation as Christians, how we can experience God through our senses and each other and how we can pray. There was a testimony which moved me to my core and then two pieces of music which mean a lot from my childhood; memories and annies song. I was in bits; sobbing, nose running, tears pouring, wish I could run away bits.

Somehow I managed to make it to the end and then took the opportunity to make tea for everyone.
One of my friends, another retreatant, came and held me whilst I sobbed some more and managed to connect to the fear of going into the childhood stuff. It helped to know she understood, but boy am I scared of what the prayer and reflection will bring during the week!