Saturday, 29 October 2011

Silent Sunday

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

The after effect

I was watching the waves on the shore yesterday, they were quiet, calm and soothing. I was mesmerised, as always, by the sheer power of water and it's movement guided by the moon so many thousands of miles away. I started thinking about how the tides guided by the moon are a good analogy for Christians guided by God. But this was a mere passing thought compared to what this picture captures.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

You can see the sea and the beach, you can almost feel the power of the waves.
Then look closer to shore.
Do you see the bubbles?
And the wet sand?

This is what's left behind after the main show and power of the waves is over.
It has a role, it's important, it's beautiful and it remains.

Remind you of any lesson or teaching or experience?
I honestly believe that although the main event is important, usually it's what is left behind in your mind and heart that makes the lasting impact.

And of course that's a warning to those of us sharing the Gospel and living in discipleship; it's not only our words and actions at main events that have power, it's the message these leave and the words and actions on the edge.

Ministry is not a job, it's a life.
Scary? Yes.
Amazing? Indeed.

Rough with the smooth

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Rachel made this at the beach yesterday and it really caught my attention. As I was thinking about the way the smooth and the rough contrast and go together so naturally she said

"mummy you're thinking about something important aren't you, is it about good things on the smooth and bad things on the messy?"

Close enough; we are best to all remember that with the rough comes the smooth

Called past the horizon

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

I love light, sunlight.
I am fascinated by the way light can change the way a place looks.
I feel closest to God when I see rays of light emerge from the sky.
I long to capture that feeling through the camera, but never come close.

Today is no different.
Today I saw the light on the horizon.
Today I was drawn to that light and it's hope.
Today that light showed me that my calling is not ever ending.

My licensing is a step in my calling to God's work, one to be celebrated.
This photo can't capture the feeling.
These words can't explain well.
But I was helped by this today in my fear.

Resting at the cross

I am so full of emotional and spiritual fear at the moment.  As licensing approaches it increases and I find it almost impossible to explain.  

There's the fear of the service with all the people watching, it triggers feelings of being not good enough.

There's the fear of the culmination of training, how can I actually feel trained enough or ready enough?

There's the fear of "you will be changed" and whether I will and what that'll be, or I won't and then what!

There's the fear of the start of the ministry God wants me to undertake and where that'll lead.

It's been all consuming and completely overwhelming all week; but today I saw this necklace at a Halloween event (what a strange place to find this).

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Wearing it around my wrist is comforting; it's reminding me that I'm not meant to be perfect, I'm called as me.  

I'm resting at the cross; in my fear and unknowing, praying for strength and calm.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

St Pauls' Unsaintly Behaviour

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

St Pauls London has hit a new low by accepting the resignation of Canon Giles Fraser, was there no way to mediate inside the church in order to mediate with those outside the church and help them mediate with those they feel abandoned by?

What sort of example is the church providing?
Would Jesus be ignoring the problems and turning social issues away from his house?

How difficult would it be to communicate openly with the protectors so that St Pauls could remain open and host the location for protest?

I may be idealistic and politically and bureacratically naive; but I am dismayed to see the Church of England in this situation. The actions over the last week have given the impression that St Pauls is closed to the public (except those who pay to visit), uninterested in the social issues of our day and incapable of working together to find a solution for all.

I despair, really I do.
I wish Giles Fraser well and hope his light will shine brightly in the future of his ministry.

Tests and testimonies

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Smith Wigglesworth was one of the pioneers of the Pentecostal revival started in the USA a century ago.  He had a deep intimacy with his heavenly Father and an unquestioning faith in God’s Word brought spectacular results and provided an example for all true believers of the Gospel.

He wrote

‘Great faith is a product of great fights.  

Great testimonies are the outcome of great tests.  

Great triumphs can only come out of great trials.’

Well I've had fights and disagreements and challenges in my faith many times in life and I agree, coming through it does make your faith stronger.

I have been tested in my faith, in my decisions and in my calling and indeed I have been stirred to share my testimony of faith and calling, something I never imagined would happen.

And as for trials, I've had a few of them, but I don't feel any sense of triumph; the triumph is in my reliance of faith.

Every container needed

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

In the second letter to Timothy St Paul,   as translated by The Message, says

‘In a well-furnished kitchen there are not only crystal goblets and silver platters, but waste cans and compost buckets – some containers used to serve fine meals, others to take out the garbage.  

Become the kind of container God can use to present any and every kind of gift to his guests for their blessing’
(2 Timothy 2:20–21) 

I'm not sure which of this range of containers I might be, but as I approach licensing I find it reassuring to know that whatever container I am is right for me and right for God.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Silent Sunday

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

God Squad "Down through the roof"

Todays session is from Mark 2:1-12.  It is about people who came to Jesus for help.  For healing.

 1 A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2 They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3 Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
 6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7 “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

 8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9 Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

1. The Mat Race
Bath towels (one for each team)
Stuffed Animals (one for each team)
- Divide the class into two or three teams.
- Have the kids in each team grab part of the bath towel, corners or sides etc., and stretch it out to make it like a trampoline.
- The teams will start at one end of the room, and while staying together keeping hold of the towel, race to the other end of the room.
- they'll collect a stuffed animal and put it on the top of the towel.
- the teams will then race back to where they started while attempting to keep the stuffed animal from falling over.
- This game helps reinforce the story about the man lowered down on a mat from the roof

2. Read the story from the Lion Storyteller Bible

3. If we need to be healed then we just need to ask; ask Jesus.

How do we do that?  - prayer
Let's make prayers on mats and ask for what we need healing in ourselves.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

4. Sometimes we need to remember we can come down through the roof and be healed.

We just need to let go of our fears and worries.
Let's make our own models of ourselves coming down through the roof to be healed.

- toilet roll
- pens
- plastic cup with hole in the bottom
- string/wool/cotton to thread

A) Make two small holes on each side of one end of the toilet roll.
B) draw yourself on the roll.
C) thread the string/wool/cotton through the two holes
D) put the string ends together and thread through the inside of the cup so the ends are outside and the roll inside
E) knot the string tightly so it won't fall through the hole

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Now you should be able to lower yourself down inside the cup.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Rachel tries to understand justice and war Vlog

We were watching newsround this afternoon and Rachel was shocked by the sight of the Libyan people celebrating about the news of Gadafi's death. As we chatted about it I videod and here it is; philosophy, theology, politics and anthropology from the mouth of a six year old

I wish I could be so open about my confusions and so open to possible reasonings.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Less than 3 weeks

Less than 3 weeks. In fact it's more like two and a half weeks till .....

I'm feeling pretty calm at the moment; I know what's going to happen, who's coming, what I will promise and I even have my blue scarf. On the other hand my excitement is tinged with lingering apprehension and nerves.

What I'm loving right now is that I'm able to go so deep in my prayer, it's just happening every day and taking me to a very warm, loving place. Long may it continue.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

People, Prayers and Potatoes - light of the world

Today our People, Prayers and Potatoes (Messy Church) was on "light of the world".  I based the service on John 8:12
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

We started with Godly Play.
1. Gather everyone around the mat.
2. Light the central candle.
3. Once there was someone who said such amazing things and did such wonderful things that people began to follow him. But they didn't know who he was. So one day they simply had to ask him. And he said, "I am... the Light."
4. Sit quietly "Let's enjoy the Light."
5. People who love the Light can become one with the Light. The disciples shared in the light. 
6. Light another candle from the first 
7. And then they shared Jesus' love with others
8. Light another candle from the second 
9. Keep repeating until all candles are lit 
10. In this way we share in the light of Jesus and can enjoy and share the light of the world

Following Godly Play I invited everyone to make or do something that talks about this story and how this story feels to you.  I introduced each activity available and everyone chooses their first activity.

Craft Activities
Silhouette – God lights you always – draw round each others’ silhouettes

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Jam Jar Lantern – light your way – make your own holder of light

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Stars watch us - God made the stars – create stars to light in the dark

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Stained glass windows – Jesus’ light is amplified through the bible stories

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

As a group we will create a Firework picture on a large canvas– Jesus’ light in our lives is like multicoloured fireworks

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Other Activities:
Prayers – candles – our prayers are light in the darkness

Tent and Torches – we need light to find our way in the dark; Jesus is our light and we can find his help through prayer and faith

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

After an hour of creating and responding we moved into the church for Worship.

Neil used some photos I'd taken to see what we all think when we see sun light.  

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

We then lit the lights in the jam jar lanterns we'd made and prayed for those in need in our lives and wider world.

We finished by singing "this little light of mine" before sharing a Jacket Potato lunch together.

Equipment for the session:
- Spot light
- A3 pieces of black paper
- chalks
- sharpies
- felt tips
- crayons
- scissors
- glue
- sellotape
- jam jars
- multi coloured paper cut into rough shapes
- crosses printed out x20
- examples of stained glass
- silver and gold paper to make stars
- string/wool to attach to stars to hang them up
- canvas
- paint brushes
- candles – from church
- matches
- pop up tent
- wind up torches
- 30 Jacket potatoes
- 3x packs of 4 cans tuna
-  large bottle of mayonnaise
- 2 bags of grated cheese
- 2 big fridge packs of baked beans
- mixed salad
- margarine
- French stick bread 
- A large tray bake chocolate cake or similar for pudding.

Thoughts on the 16th October readings

Isaiah 45
I call you by name

Psalm 96
Declare his glory among the nations
And his wonders among all people

1 Thesaalonians 1
He has chosen you.  You received the word of the Lord in joy through the power of the holy spirit 

Matthew 22
Give to the emperor that which is the emperors and to God what is Gods.


Give to God what is Gods.

We are called by name by God, as we are made, as we live, as we are.  What are we called to? To declaring his wonders and glory to all people of all nations.  

He has chosen me, I'm no accident, no mistake; I'm chosen.  The Holy Spirit is around me and in me.

We all are chosen, we ALL! We are made in God's image.  We have Christ in us and around us.  We should rejoice in this.

So what does God ask from us?
He does not ask for taxes; he asks for our love, our energy, our gifts given to us by Him.  He asks us only to give what we can from what we are.

Silent Sunday

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Saturday, 15 October 2011

32 babies remembered

In light
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

In tears
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

In love
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

In prayers
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

In our hearts
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Our Wave of Light

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Tonight at 6.45pm Rachel, Mike and I lit our candles in memory of Kendi, Leof and their two brothers. We talked about love and loss, life and death and the importance of family.

For two hours our candles burned, in memory, in love and in companionship with all the babies now in heaven.

As the earth turns the wave moves around the planet; today we remember.

I never met my boys

I never met my boys 
Never shared their joys
But in me once they lay
And in my heart they stay

Today I'm remembering my two early angels with their brothers Kendi and Leof.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Babyloss Remembrance Service Songs

Service of Remembrance for babies lost before or shortly after birth.

3pm on Saturday 15th October 2011 at St Nicolas, Earley.

These are some of the words from some of the songs that will be part of the service tomorrow.

“My Baby” by Julie McMinn.
Jesus as you hold my precious baby in your arms
Can you whisper words to her for me
Hold her close and breathe my love into her velvet ear
Press a gentle hand against her cheek

Held in perfect love
Sheltered in the everlasting love
Cradled to your chest
Kept in faithful refuge from all storms
Held in perfect love…….

“Angel” by Sarah McLachlan.
In the arms of the angels
Fly away from here…….

In the arms of the angels
May you find some comfort here…….

“Precious Child” by Karen Taylor-Good
In my dreams, you are alive and well
Precious child, precious child
In my mind, I see you clear as a bell
Precious child, precious child…..

In my heart you live on,
Always there, never gone
Precious child, you left too soon
And though it may be true that we’re apart
You will live forever
In my heart….

“Amazing Grace” by London Community Gospel Choir
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me....
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.

T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear...
the hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares...
we have already come.
T'was Grace that brought us safe thus far...
and Grace will lead us home.

When we've been here ten thousand years...
bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise...
than when we've first begun.

Babyloss Remembrance Service Poems

Service of Remembrance for babies lost before or shortly after birth.
3pm on Saturday 15th October 2011 at St Nicolas, Earley.

“Footprints” by Dorothy Ferguson
How very softly you tiptoed into my world.
Almost silently,
Almost a moment you stayed.
But what an imprint
Your footsteps have left
Upon my heart.

“Forget me not” by an unknown author
Forget me not
My little one
You have left us too soon
Though my body can no longer hold you
I hold you forever in my heart
As precious and beautiful as this flower caught in time
A mother's love does not forget.

“They say there is a reason” by an unknown author
They say there is a reason,
They say that time will heal,
But neither time nor reason,
Will change the way I feel,
For no-one knows the heartache,
That lies behind our smiles,
No-one knows how many times,
We have broken down and cried,
We want to tell you something,
So there won't be any doubt,
You're so wonderful to think of
But so hard to be without.

The loss of a baby

This image has been doing the rounds of social media over the last week, but if something's good then it's worth spreading far and wide.

I saw it a few times, as you might expect during Babyloss Awareness Week but it was when one of my friends posted the picture with this amazing comment:

for all those people that have lost Babies, they are always with you if you look hard enough

believe me there are many days when this doesn't feel true, when the distance between life and death feels so very far and the loss so massive; but this image reminds us that they were with us once and will always be with us in our hearts.

Operation Christmas child

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

The charity Samaritan's Purse run Operation Christmas Child.  This is a scheme that we've participated in for at least ten years, possibly longer.

The idea is best explained by the organisation itself
Fill a child's life with joy this Christmas.  Wrap, pack and send your own gift filled shoebox to a child in need with Operation Christmas Child.  I prefer to think of it as sending a parcel of love across the world.

So how does it work?
1. Find a shoe box
2. Decide if you want to send to a girl or boy and what age range
3. Select things to go inside the box
4. Do not include food, medicine, anything toxic or sharp, nothing war related or political.  Don't worry, there is lots of help on their website
5. Donate £2.50 for postage, if you do this online then you even find out where your box ends up
5. Drop your shoe box at a collection point between 1st and 18th November.

Our boxes 2011

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

We are doing two this year; one for a boy aged 2-4 years and one for a girl aged 5-9 years.

Girl aged 5-9 box will include:
- toothbrush and toothpaste
- brush
- flannel and soap 
- hair clips
- bangles and necklace
- skipping rope
- inflatable beach ball
- note book, pencil, sharpener, eraser
- gloves
- scarf
- cap
- sweet lolly

Boy aged 2-4 box will include:
- toothbrush and toothpaste
- brush
- flannel and soap 
- two dinky cars
- crayons and colouring book
- inflatable beach ball
- gloves
- scarf
- cap
- sweet lolly

I have always enjoyed producing the shoe box for a child, but it is even more fantastic now I have Rachel; she learns about children who have less than herself and makes her own box for a girl her age across the world.

For more information and to prepare your own box if love and joy please visit the scheme website at

The rainbows end

I have enjoyed watching Stephen Fry's "planet world" on BBC2; factual, humerous and fascinating.  Episode 3 this week has spoken to me deeply in one tiny section relating to how nurses will refer to the death of a child....

A little one for the rainbows end

I've never heard that before, even though I've heard and even referred to the similar phrase for adult death "rose garden".  It's poignant that it's this week when I learn of this beautiful way of speaking with reverence about the loss of a child.

And it seems only fitting that the Babyloss remembrance service will be held tomorrow at the very place that I photographed at the rainbows end.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Steve Jobs RIP

Steve Jobs RIP

RIP is the acronym for "rest in peace" and I pray that Steve Jobs is now forever at peace.  

I also like to think of RIP for Steve Jobs as standing for....

Practically Perfectly

And who, knows; as this cartoon depicts, perhaps he still is RIPing.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Ministry is ......

Going to morning prayer and finding you're the only one there.

Finding the the psalm and gospel reading and settling ready to start.

Hearing the church door open.

Seeing someone who hardly ever comes to morning prayer come through the door and beam with joy to see they're in time to share together.

That is ministry to me.

Ask and be healed

Art by Maria Clara

I briefly mentioned, well skirted over, the fact that I had received deep healing from the story of the woman healed by touching Jesus' robes.  Well after another encounter with the same passage I'm going to share more.

But first, here's the scripture again

Luke 8
As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. [43] And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. [44] She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. 
[45] "Who touched me?" Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, "Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you." 
[46] But Jesus said, "Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me." 
[47] Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. [48] Then he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace."

I have struggled my whole life with feeling unworthy, of not deserving the complete, absolute, unconditional love of God.  I've never truly believed that I could be healed.  There was too much wrong in me, too many flaws.  Everyone else, yes, of course; but not myself.

Throughout my journey of calling to ministry it has been there, the monster in the corner, ready to show itself.  Sometime soon someone would realise just how unworthy I am.  I never expected to be healed of it; and although I let others pray for it's removal I couldn't; how could I dare to ask?

Then this week through the telling and retelling and hearing of the woman's healing I have been touched.  She was the most unclean of unclean in society; she was unhealable.  
But she had faith.
She had faith.
She had faith she could be healed.
And she was healed.

Jesus said to her "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace."

Hearing this on retreat was so powerful, it spoke to me about just needing to have faith.  Just ask Emma.  Just believe Emma.

And I did.
And I was.

Then on Saturday the same message was in my daily bible readings; a reminder to keep believing, keep asking.

And yesterday Bishop Andrew included it on his slides as the reminder that our strength and energy comes from Jesus, we just need to ask.  

Three times, 
in one week, 
I have been told,
I have been healed!

The result; I ended up sharing my testimony of calling to ministry.  Something I've never thought about really, it felt like being born again.


Jesus' Baptism

This session helps children to understand baptism better.  Why we do it and why God wants us to do it.  

Jesus was immersed and baptised as an adult where as most of the baptisms at St Nics are of children.  Both are the baptism into the community of Christians.

We made Flying Doves.  

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

The kids each make their own dove to take home and another one each to stay in church.  

The dove is the symbol of the holy spirit and it came down upon Jesus as he was being Baptised by John the Baptist.

Where else is there a dove in the bible? 
- the kids remembered Noah and the dove and told us all about it.

After hearing the story of Jesus' baptism we made a baptismal pool, with purple and blue water and lots of green plants and some very orange people.

I had a plan to act out the story of Jesus' baptism, but we ran out of time.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Pre-licensing retreat #4

The second day started early after a fabulous 10 hours of well rested sleep including my first nice dreams in weeks.  I watched the sun change the sky, had breakfast and was out in the sunshine for a walk by 7.30.

After wondering to the church and around the village and I came back and sat in the wooded area. Look who joined me:

I listened to the wind in the trees

Explored the cob-nuts - they're really furry inside the casings and just relaxed with nature and my camera

Neil arrived for the day at 10 and a more formal aspect of the retreat kicked off. We decided our agenda for the day, the things to think and pray about. We focussed on three things:
1. my calling and the process to now
2. my fears about licensing
3. coming as I am on the day

I'm not sure that I could explain what happened within me, but suffice to say it was healing and nurturing and reassuring. I have come away from retreat changed from how I arrived. I understand and feel my calling deeply, my fears have been reduced and I am actually looking forward to the licensing now.

What I do know is that Neil was moved to read these verses of Luke 8 to me:
Luke 8:40-49
[40] Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him. [41] Then a man named Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, came and fell at Jesus' feet, pleading with him to come to his house [42] because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying.
As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. [43] And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. [44] She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.
[45] "Who touched me?" Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, "Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you."
[46] But Jesus said, "Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me."
[47] Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. [48] Then he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace."

These words and the associated prayers healed me, deeply.

Pre-licensing retreat #3

The drawing theme continued through the first day on retreat; and believe me this is completely different for me, something not of me, something inspired and unbelievably relaxing and what I needed. It's almost as if God was in it, who'd have thought.

There are sunsets over the sea



and a rainbow cross on canvas in oil

Quite an outpouring and a completely therapeutic experience.
Thank you Lord