About Me

Saturday, 30 April 2011


I do not like it when I cannot post on my blog. Some would call this a kind of addiction and perhaps it is. But I think the reality is that it is keeps me sane. I find it very therapeutic to write and I have a real need to get things out of my head. In writing I often find an answer to things that have been going round for a while, which is probably why my posts are often a bit disjointed.
Anyway, I rather hope that as the kids finally go back to school for any decent length of time and my husband back to work, and lots of responsibilities that have been looming finally gone, I can get back in routine. (I am also obsessed with routine...)

So anyway over the last 3 weeks various post ideas have been going round my head so much so that I just don't know where to start. So instead I am starting with a quick round-up of the last few weeks. Perhaps to remind myself that I haven't been slacking (!), or perhaps just to get it all out of my head so I can move on... This is the last 3 weeks in a paragraph:

Tower of London (with kids not as an unwelcome break); swimming, movies, tea (lots of); singing in the pub's open mic night for the first time; more ill health (but hopefully on the mend, gosh its sooo boring being ill); sunshine!, painting - front door not canvas, enormous ironing pile, BBQs, Easter Sunday - awesome massive service with Matt Redman; 24-7 Prayer room; latest visit with VC;  DDO comes to visit; lots of reading; Sunday lunches with friends and family; digging a friends veg patch; walks, picnics; Bluebell Railway; DVDs a plenty; building camps in the garden; paddling pool; very messy house; veg planting; McDonalds for tea; 4 hours in front of the telly followed by street party & BBQ...

Hopefully by Tuesday normal service will be resumed!

Cartwheeling Verger

I expect the whole blog world is going gaga over this clip (so apologies if you've seen it 100 times)  but as I've been blog-absent for a few days I hadn't seen it - just read about it in this mornings papers. I love it. It looks like a spoof clip! but I am sure no one would have gone to this much trouble to spoof it. I just love the thought that just minutes before, this ancient building would have been filled with royals, dignitaries, celebs, you name it... and I am sure the whole team at Westminster Abbey must have been under so much pressure, I reckon this shows the relief that it all went so well. What fun! And I'm impressed he can even cartwheel anyway. Most blokes are not quite so co-ordinated!

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Volte Face

(sorry second time of posting, it deleted half the post last time and had to start again. grrr blogger...)

Last weekend I was asked to share some testimony at a joint churches service on Easter Sunday evening. The subject was 'how do we know Jesus is alive today' - the answer being that he is working in my life and countless others. I was asked for some examples and one that I seem to have shared a lot recently is about some words I felt God had given me in prayer.They were 'Volte Face'. I didn't know what it meant other than asuming it was Latin (odd language for God to use though!). Anyway it wasn't, it seems to be dervived from French or Italian, meaning a change of opinion or position:

Volte-face (pronounced /vɒltˈfɑːs/ or /voʊltˈfɑːs/) is a total change of position, as in policy or opinion; an about-face.

The expression comes through French, from Italian voltafaccia and Portuguese volte face, composed of volta (turn) and faccia (face). In the context of politics a volte-face is, in modern English, often referred to as a U-turn or a flip-flop in the UK and the US respectively.

I have realised over the last few months of rather intense reflection on my life how much these words are true of my life. I knew we were transformed in Christ, but not to what extent. It seems there is not an area of my life that is untouched by Gods hand. Where I was stressed I am calm; where I had to be in control I have let go; (in fact have pretty much no idea where my life is going whereas before, the next 20 years where mapped out..); where I wouldn't talk about my faith, now you can't shut me up - I wouldn't even do the reading in my old church, now I am leading a service every now and then; I pray for people at every opportunity, before we said we would never be the kind of people who asked others to pray about things for us... Oh dear, how God laughed I am sure...
And throughout all this change, and transformation, and U-turns I have the most amazing calmness about me. I can't believe how unfazed I am by all of this. I don't mean in terms of being calm all the time, I still shout at the kids sometimes, but underneath all of that there is a sense of peace. Perhaps I am finally becoming the person God intended me to be!

Monday, 25 April 2011


As I sit here watching Masterchef and seeing the pressure the contestants are under I have been thinking about the pressure I put on myself. In all situations. Even with this blog, I have had a hectic few weeks because of the school hols and being busy with commitments, and yet I am still thinking, I really need to post something...

I thought this was something that I had overcome. But perhaps that is what makes me, me...? Whatever I do, I throw myself into 100%, well more probably. I have to know everything about what I am doing, I embrace it, I dive right it. I do not do things by halves. I am sure this can be a good trait, in that I put my all into things, but sometimes I think I go too far. I put so much pressure on myself to do well. Failure is not an option, in anything.

It's almost like I have to prove something. But to who? Is it to myself? To God? I don't think I have sussed that one out yet.

I wrote a few weeks back about accepting a compliment and finding it hard. I think that is related to this too, in that perhaps I cannot accept when I do something well. Because I know I could do better.. Am I a perfectionist? Is that an unattractive quality? Am I not enough?

Ultimately none of it should matter, what should matter is that I do my best and I do it for God. I think I find it hard to accept that God will love me no matter what. Love has always been an issue for me, as I have written about before, but is this what this is about too? Love has a lot to answer for... that and our ability to both give it, and receive it.

Friday, 22 April 2011

24-7 Prayer Room

This week I have been involved in a 24-7 prayer room, setting up some of the stations and doing some kids activities. It has been really interesting to be part of. At least 5 churches came together to organise it and several more have sent people along to pray as well as independant people who have come of their own choice. It has been such a blessing! So many people have met with God there this week. People have wept, prayed, worshipped, sang, got creative, tried things for the first time... and the best thing for me has been the unity. It has been great to see people who don't know each other, from different churches coming together in their joint love of Christ.
 I love this picture, from a station where you tie knots in a piece of string to represent things that get in the way of your relationship with God, then you tie it to the cross. Then you take a new piece of string home with you to remind you, you are renewed in Christ. I have tied mine to my wrist as a permanent reminder! Although it has fallen off several times, not sure what that says about my faith... ;)

I set up a few stations for the praise and worship area, with a vintage theme (so they basically represented half my house...) which had the obligatory bunting included...

And we have got through at least 60 bunting flags, I have had to restock the bowl twice!

Our Tree of Hearts: The text reads:

Praise the Lord for his wonderful deeds, let your heart leap for joy, Praise him in your heart…

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. Psalm 28:7

I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. Psalm 9:1

My eyes have been opened to so may things in this room. My favourite station was 'Have tea with Jesus', where you sit at a table and imagine what you would say if you were having tea with Jesus. It is set up with mugs and all! And on the table is a copy of the book 'Dinner with a Perfect Stranger' where the main character gets invited to dinner with someone proffessing to be Jesus. I only got to chapter 2 so not sure if he actually was, but it certainly made me think...

I found myself wishing there was somewhere one could go to like this, 24/7 all year round. (And before anyone says go to your local church, ours is not open all the time!) There was just an amazing air of calm and peace in the room, and none of the distractions of home. I wanted to stay all day, it was just so easy to pray in there!

Thursday, 21 April 2011

What should be the correct Easter week prep?

I love the school hols as for the first time (since not working) I can actually enjoy spending time with the kids in the hols rather than stressing about childcare. But my gosh where does the time go? I realised today that it has been a week since my last blog post and yet the post ideas are queueing up!! I literally have not had a spare second... Sadly I can't get the scheduling thing to work for me either. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, blogger obviously has a mind of its own - or perhaps it's a cunning form of censorship...

Anyway it has caused me to think about what one should be doing in 'Holy Week', because mine has been far less than holy I can tell you. I guess last year Easter must have been at the beginning of the hols, but I know that I had time to relfect on Easter before it was upon me. I read a lot about the resurrection last year, I wanted to look at it from different angles and get a real 'handle' on it.

This year, by comparison, my kids have been off school, my husband has been off work, I have been involved in setting up a church 24/7 prayer week and subsequently I think I have prayed less this week than any for the previous 6 months! I'm sure Holy week should be more about gentle reflection than running around like a headless chicken. (Note to self, mention this to school holiday planners before next year...) Has anyone else had this craziness or is it just me?

I realise tonight, as I have come back from setting up for tomorrow mornings kids activities, that it will be Good Friday tomorrow and yet I feel totally unprepared. I have not prayed, I have hardly opened my bible, I feel like I am letting God down.

It's so easy to get bogged down in the busy-ness of life, something I have fallen to in the past, and miss the really important stuff. This is what has happened this week. Last year, as a church, we held an event on Good Friday and I remember feeling exhausted at the end of the day and really could have done with some quiet time and yet this year I am in the same position. Will someone please remind me next year that I should not book anything in Holy Week...

Saturday, 16 April 2011

The Future of the Church

I've been inspired recently by a number of books/reports/conversations about the future of the church. In particular I just finshed the CofE Report from a few years ago 'Mission-Shaped Church'. I don't suppose it will be of any surprise to you to know that it totally struck a chord with me. What I find frustrating is that it seems most of the church are comepletely ignoring it, so what is the point in the 'management' commissioning a report and then doing little about it? The report basically challenges some long-held beliefs about church attendance, and raises potential ways of looking to the future. Yet in my own experience the age-old petty squabbles and arguments of the traditional church are still ongoing. As a member of a fresh expressions church, all too often I hear the complaint that our church is 'sheep stealing' from other local churches. To which I have little sympathy. and I mean none. If you cannot provide the spiritual nourishment that your parishoners need, don't complain when they go elsewhere. I had a conversation recently with someone related to ministry, nowhere near our church I shuold say, but where there was a similar plant in her area and she was bringing up the same accusations. And, 'if only we had had those resources...', 'if a few couples came and livened up our congregation'... It was sooooo defeatist. If you want to change your church, DO IT! It's no good not wanting to alienate people. I'm sorry to say it, but most of those who would be annoyed by change will be dead in 20 years (or 10...)... Now I am not anti- the more traditional approach to church, as I have said before I recognise there is a place for it, but what I am anti is when people moan about falling numbers but are not prepared to do anything about it. And I can think of several examples near me where that is the case...

What 'Mission-Shaped church' talks about a lot is the need to 'go to people' rather than expecting them to come to us, which is something I have been banging on about for ages. no one told me I could have been quoting from a CofE report (and I probably wouldnt have believed tham anyway!)  A line in the report says:
Yet there is still considerable resistance in practice to giving church plants and fresh expressions of church the right to Anglican citizenship. In a few cases the process of acceptance and recognition has been so reluctant and slow that valuable resources to the Church of England have been lost.

By valuable resources I am assuming they mean skilled people, again which I have seen. People so disillusioned that they go somewhere else, often outside the CofE. So what are we doing about it? Not enough frankly. WAKE UP SLEEPERS...! where will the church & Christianity in ths country be in 50 years time if we don't seriously addresss this NOW?

I am thinking about Pioneer ministry. Can you tell...?

Thursday, 14 April 2011

What is Heaven...?

Recently I've been thinking about heaven. It's a word often used lightly: 'this ice cream is just heaven', a good holiday retreat is 'heavenly', even Belinda Carlise sang 'ooh heaven is a place on earth...', perhaps she wasn't far from the truth...
I am reading (amongst a million other books, really must focus...) 'Surprised by Hope' by Tom Wright. It's an interesting book and has challenged me in so many areas. What has got me thinking most though, is why we are obsessed with heaven. I mean as Christians we can pretty much guarantee that it is going to be a good place, right? So why do we feel this amazing need to know now what it is like?

The bible is surprisingly unforthcoming about what it will be like. There are a couple of visions but not much else. There is also very little said about what happens to us after death. Yet the world, our culture seems to have a specific view - heaven is 'up there', in the clouds, angels and harps that kind of thing, all generally speaking inspired from the art world - both literary and visually. But there is little descriptive scriptural basis for that kind of view.
Tom Wright is suggesting that heaven will be on earth. not just in the sense that we have the kingdom of God within us, but a future, post-death heaven after a bodily resurrection. And in that sense, it is important to clarify between the Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of God and the heaven of the afterlife. As Christians, followers of Christ, we carry Christ, and therefore the Kingdom of God, within us. But is it true that there is another Kingdom of God, a heaven where we will go after death? (if we're lucky...;) )

Interestingly many of the references to heaven in the bible simply refer to it as the place God inhabits, where his voice comes from, where he rains various things down from. In that sense heaven is undoubtedly 'up there', above us (although when the bible was written they still thought the earth was flat - so is that above us in the UK or above us Australia, hard to know...) But is that the same heaven we will be going to after death? Well not according to the bible, because that says that there will be a new heaven and a new earth and that we will not remember the old one or have need of it. (Isaiah 65, Revelation 21, 2 Peter 21)

Personally I'm not that bothered about what it is like. It is an interesting subject, yes, but I believe that after my death I will, in some way, be spending time with God (assuming I don't cock it up between now and my death...) and that is something I can really look forward to. Even if my body is resurrected (rather than some kind of spiritual resurrection of the soul) then I can't believe it will be anywhere near what it feels like to be human now. We are talking about eternity so whatever its like, it's got to be miles from anything I can imagine for myself and in that sense what is the point wasting my time trying to imagine what it will be like? And if I'm wrong, well then I guess that's it and my body will rot away somewhere and I won't be any the wiser anyway...

Some time ago I read on a blog (might have been Lesleys) an alternative view in which God came to earth whilst the believers were whipped away to heaven, and those that chose to stay with the desperate, non believing, hurting souls were in the true heaven, the true presence of God (thats how I remember it anyway...) and that really made me think. (whilst I am not sure it was particularly scriptural) Would a loving God really leave all those people behind to fend for themselves in some kind of 'hell' on earth? and wouldn't it be far more like Jesus to stay and help those people even if we were condemning ourselves to a life on a broken planet with the desperate and hurting. Or perhaps we are already doing that?

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Ordination Training & Funding

Can someone help me out on this? Does funding for ministry training vary in different dioceses? Someone told me this week that the diocese takes a large chunk of your partners income to cover your tuition cost. Is that right? Apparently at his college there are a few house husbands (wives in training) as they can't afford to work... slightly freaked us out.... I was under the impression that we would get money if I studied not lose it! Can someone point me in the direction of a good source on this? I will be contacting my DDO but need a heads up first really... Also does it vary if you are studting part-time, rather than full-time? All help gratefully received!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

The Beautiful Game?

This week I have been putting together some prayer stations for a local 24/7 prayer week. The theme I have been given is praise and worship but in particular relation to the beauty of God. I've not done anything like this before and it seemed all my stations were becoming very Cath Kidston and ver definitely girly... So I went online to find some more male-influenced ideas and found it very hard to find anything! No wonder there are not many men in our churches, we just don't cater for them! has anyone got any ideas for less girly prayer stations? And please don't tell me they don't have to be stereotypical, I do know, this is just the way it all worked out... Anyway this is what I came up with, what do you think? Bit contrived maybe? would appreciate advice... :)

Football: The beautiful game?

Football is sometimes referred to as ‘the beautiful game’, when players move in symmetry with each other, pass to one another as if they are of one mind, or control the ball seeming to defy gravity. When we move in symmetry with Gods will, we are moving in His beauty, as part of His bigger plan. Can you see yourself as part of Gods bigger plan? What opportunities has He given to you, what doors have opened as part of the bigger plan? Thank Him for those opportunities. Or are you a lone player on the field? Do you feel lost? Ask God to reveal his plans for you as part of his ‘beautiful game’.

Monday, 11 April 2011

How much freedom do we really have?

I've had a lovely few days enjoying the sunshine and the start of the Easter hols with my kids. And after 'the disappointment' from last week I've taken a few days off from anything theological, rather fed up of reading uninspiring books about becoming a Priest. Surely someone can write about the joys of Priesthood rather than the depressing reality of it all...
Anyway I digress. I have been meaning to read 'The Shack' again for a while, so in these few days I have been doing just that and really getting into it. It has been so nice to have one of those 'can't put the book down' moments, rather than the slight drudgery of the other stuff I have been reading... Anyway The Shack is one of those books that divides people and invites debate, which is great. When I first read it I was completely overcome by the emotions it envokes, and this time I have found so much more in it, as I know what is going to happen, so I can see past the tragedy at what the writer is really trying to say. Lots of things ahve stood out to me but I was particularly struck by several references to freedom. As Christians we talk about freedom a lot. Having free will, the freedom to chose faith, the freedom of living in The Truth...  but what do we mean by all that talk about freedom? What does living in Gods freedom actually mean to us?
In the book the main chacter Mack is talking with Papa (God), who says this:

Does freedom mean that you are allowed to do whatever you want to do? Or we could talk about all the limiting influences in your life that actively work against your freedom. Your family genetic heritage, your specific DNA, your metabolic uniqueness, the quantum stuff that is going on at a subatomic level where only I am the always-present observer. Or the intrusion of your souls sickness that inhibits it and binds you, or the social influences around you, or the habits that have creayed synaptic bonds and pathways in your brain. And then theres the advertising, propaganda, and paradigms. Inside that confluence of multifaceted inhibitors... what is freedom really?

Indeed, with all that in mind what is freedom? Even in church freedom is only freedom to a point. Yes the truth sets you free, but only if you adhere to these guidelines, or pray in this way, or  sign up to what we believe.  Propaganda and advertising and social ihnfluences are just as apparent in church as they are elsewhere, perhaps more so, peer pressure is often greater, or even the feeling of guilt. How is that living in freedom? The conversation in the book goes in to say:

freedom is a process that happens inside a relationship with him...
yes, with Him, with Jesus, not with your church...

I think real freedom comes when we really recognise the love of God. And that is not easy, even when you believe, to really know Gods love, in fact for some it is a massive stumbling block.
But in that knowledge of love, can we really be free, free from our fears, from our past, from what others will think of us... and that is true freedom. But how many of us actually live in that freedom? I am sure I don't. I want to and I desire to, but I'm not there yet.

And that, just aiming to get there, that journey, is really hard but necessary. Later in the book Jesus is talking to Mack, who has said that if God had stepped into his life in places in the past it might have saved him and his loved ones pain, but Jesus says:

To force my will on you... is exactly what love does not do. Genuine relationships are marked by submission even when your choices are not helpful or healthy... submission is not about authority and it is not obedience; it is all about relationships of love and respect.

hmmm. submission is one of those words that makes our hackles rise, especially us girls! But I love that line, submission is not about authority and obedience, but more about love and respect. It's actually quite easy to submit to someone that you love and respect, without being subservient, but all too often we ignore the love and repect bit and go straight into thinking we have to be obedient. I think sometimes we all need to remember that.

Friday, 8 April 2011


Today I am disappointed but I am not sure why. Gods will has been done and I thought I was prepared for that, so why do I feel crap? Basically I put myself forward for something, I stepped out, but I wasn't chosen. I knew there was a chance of this, quite a big chance actually, and I also wasn't anxious about this, I felt that Gods will would be done and I had peace about it all. But today I feel really disappointed. I find myself questioning my motives, questioning myself, questioning my choices. I find myself angry, at others and at myself. It's very strange. I wasn't prepared for this at all! I think part of it comes from the fact that originally I felt that God wasn't calling me to step out on this and I was fine with that. But then I think I allowed myself to be persuaded into it. So I am cross with myself for allowing myself to be persuaded. But then I am a strong person and I don't let peple talk me into things if I don't want to do them so I must have wanted to, and indeed I did. I think that was part of my problem initially that I didn't want to step out because of what I wanted, but because of what God wanted. So still, why do I feel rubbish today?! Actually not doing this means I have more time on my hands and that is what I need right now. I know there is a chance that people from my church will be reading this and will know what it is all about, but that's a risk I'm taking becuase I feel I need to write this and be honest today. But I don't want it to be a big thing, I totally feel that Gods will has been done and the people chosen are awesome and I absolutely feel they are the right choices. So Still, why do I feel like this? Those who believe in the devil would probably say that it is him having a go at me, trying to condemn me, so I need to stand firm. and I am doing. As I said I know Gods will has been done I just can't understand why I am feeling this way! So I'm off to drown myself in cake and tea, always helps :)

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Motherhood: Joy or Pain?

So last weekend the papers were full of articles about Mothers, Motherhood and Mothering, from every angle possible... I read them with some interest and increasing annoyance. Everyone has an opinion on what being a mum is about these days, and as one article pointed out home-making is very 'of the moment', so true - Cath Kidston et all forcing us all to rethink our homes and our lives so that we can all fit into this super mum with super house mode. What a crock... What I have realised over the last few years is that no two mothers are alike. We may follow a particular pattern but when it comes to our own kids we differ hugely. We will defend them to the death, we will stand up for them, support them, clean up after them, we love them, but all in our own ways.

I have been, at different times, a stay at home mum, a working mum, and a self employed mum. I have loved being with my kids but I have also found it hugely irritating, I have loved being there to see their first steps and I have cried in anger when I had to sacrifice a long needed day out because one of them is puking. I have missed assemblies to go to meetings, I have palmed them off to friends and family in the school holidays, and yet if need be I would have given it all up, and indeed I have for the short term.

The thing that irritated me most in the Sunday papers was an article about a book called 'Shattered: Modern Motherhood and the Illusion of Equality' by Rebecca Asher. I haven't read the book I should say, my annoyance was based on an article in the Sunday Times, (which even more irritatingly the website won't allow me to link to). I think the book title is awesome and if I had written a book about modern motherhood I might just have used something similar but the content would be very different. Ashers approach seems to be one of selfish self-sympathy and I can recognise this in some of my own friends and possibly my past self if I am honest. Let's face it, having kids is bloody exhausting, you cannot expect to get through parenthood without the exhuastion, general brain-failure and loss of self.  But women of this century are expected to (and possibly expecting to) be super mums. I am sure I have written of this before. We are expected to be high fliers at work, whilst raising the most darling little beans with perfect manners and school results, all the while growing our own organic veg and still getting to the gym 3 times a week, oh, and not forgetting baking cakes for the PTA coffee morning. And that is frankly impossible, I know my opinion is tainted by my own experience and subsequent illness but I honestly don't think that kind of perfect life is possible for anyone. Well not without hired help, marriage issues and a bit of insanity (or maybe a lot..). And should it be anyway? I mean why do we have kids? Not to palm them off on someone else surely? Asher seems to be rather bitter about the changes she has had to make to her life since becoming a mother, but isn't that what we are supposed to do? having children means sacrifices, that is part of being a parent. It's no good saying that society and laws need to change so that we can have the same life as we had before children. It doesn't work like that.

Gosh, I'm not anti-women working and I fully intend to go back to work, albeit in a very different area, but I think some women need to accept that they are mothers first and foremost and that carries with it responsibility...

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Homosexuality & Faith

I'm reposting this video which I saw over at The Pink Sheep blog, which really spoke to me today. I don't think it's any secret that I haven't quite got my head around what I personally feel about homosexuality in relation to my faith. I have been challenged whilst going through the discernment process for going into ministry in the CofE, and found it hard to come to a particular view point. Pre-Christianity I never had an issue with homosexuality, I've always been a very tolerant person, particularly for those who were persecuted - I always stood up for the underdog. So now, mixing with a lot of people who believe it is a sin has been hard. I struggle with scriptures on the subject because I can't believe that God would condemn anyone for their sexual orientation, but at the same time I accept the bible as Gods word. In fact the bible says he loves us all, as we are and it is not my place to tell somone they are commiting a sin - take the plank out of your own eye before talking about one in your brothers... I am not perfect or a saint and I never want to be in a position of condemning someone for their actions. However I can't quite get to a stand point I feel comfortable with. I should just say this is my personal view. I have quite strong views on lots of things but they are mine, no one elses and whatever I believe is for me and no one else, so in this post I am not suggesting that any particular view is right or wrong. This is a not a forum for a debate on whether homosexuality is a sin. I am just laying down where I am.

So this morning I saw this clip on the Pink Sheeps page. I cried my way through most of it. Please watch it, it is 12 minutes long, but a very moving account by a very brave man, and worth watching. I was sickened by the fact that young people, teenagers, felt that they had no option but to commit suicide after bullying about their sexual orientation. I am staggered that in this day and age in a western country, this could still happen.  I don't care what anyone thinks is right or wrong, it is never right to condemn someone or bully them or put someone down for their sexuality. And I know that I may be put in a position if I get into ministry where I will be expected to say what I think. That is my struggle, and I resent that I am being put in that position, and if it jeopardises my journey, so be it.  But I cannot condemn someone for their sexuality. (I cannot condone it or put it on a par with heterosexuality (my view only)), but I will not condemn it either. I just cannot. We take our words so lightly sometimes but even the bible says the power of life and death is in the tongue. So yes, I may be sitting on the fence and I know that I may get splinters in my bum because of it.  I suspect I will come up against people disagreeing with me, particularly at church, and I won't get the support of the other side as I can't condone it either. But this video made me realise this morning that we should guard our words carefully. I cannot believe that it was Gods will for any of those youngsters to die at their own hands. I may be struggling to come to a viewpoint, but speaking out and into peoples lives like that, is just not acceptable, on any level. How is that spreading a message of love?
I hope you will all read this in the spirit of love in which it is written, no matter which viewpoint you are coming from.

Glory in the Garden...

I don't care what you say, but when I look at the glory of my garden in the sunshine, I can't not believe in a God as creator...

Monday, 4 April 2011

Analysing the internet: religion

On persuing the papers at the weekend (benefit of mothers day I didn't cook the lunch so had time to read them for more than 2 minutes...) I noticed in The Guardian a little column by Aleks Krotoski, ' Untangling the web' apparently each week there is a theme from the internet, although in my usual 2 minutes I have to say I hadn't come across it before...
So, next weeks theme is religion (although I notice the website doesn't say this, seems to be a week behind...) and it does invite you to get in touch via the website or twitter @aleksk
I know some of you will be champing at the bit to have a say on religion on the net so you might want to get in touch with him, might be a followers numbers boost too...

The skills of Church Leadership

So... I'm onto section F of the Selection Criteria for the Church of England: Leadership & Collaboration. I thought this would be a category I would fly through. I have had various positions of responsibility and leadership in my life, and I like to think I am a natural leader (I say that with no shred of pride, just that I recognise my God-given skills.). However I have been very definitely humbled as I am struggling with this category! Questions like 'reflect on leadership styles', or 'reflect on the significance of contextual issues in leadership' are taxing my brain! (Lesley I feel a long email coming your way..!). If anyone can point me to books in this area I would be grateful.  Anyway to start with my required reflection I have put together a list of leadership skills that would make an effective ordained minister. This is from my own reflection of church and leadership outside of the church. I would love to hear peoples thoughts and of course additions... 

1. Live out the Gospel: There is nothing worse than a minister who preaches a message of forgiveness but cannot forgive themselves.

2. Be Compassionate: There will be very needy people who come to you. Be sympathetic to their needs. Even when they are annoying, continually coming to you with the same needs, or even unwilling to help themselves.

3. Do not Judge: It is so easy to do, particularly with those who are more involved in the life of your church, on committees etc. You never know what is going on behind the scenes...

4. Be honest: I can't stand ministers who claim everything is hunky-dory when actually their teenage kids are running a-muck and the whole congregation knows it. No one is perfect and we don't expect ministers to be either. If you have an issue ask for help or prayer!

5. Be unflappable: I am not there yet but I know from friends in ministry that chances are some pretty odd and awful situations will come your way. Trust in God to guide you, don't run the other way. and if you really can't help, find someone who can.

6. Be available: When my Dad first came to our church, depsite the fact that there was a problem with our hall and at the last minute the whole service had to be shifted elsewhere (on Easter Sunday!) the Vicar welcomed my Dad and had a chat with him. He did not seem flustered even though he had every right to be. A good minister should be welcoming and approachable, not distant and aloof. (you'd be surprised how many still are!)

7.Teach and Preach: This is a huge part of the role of a priest. Don't feel you have to appeal to your congregation, you are there to preach the Gospel, so preach it! (although at times this may be unpopular...)

8. Encourage: be an encourager to those in your congregation. They all have their own skills and gifts, so encourage them to use them. Sometimes people just need  a gentle nudge to get up and do something or to go out and help.

9. Know your Congregation: In relation to no 8. Know the people who come to your church, then you will be able to discern their skills and gifts, but also their needs. (obviously in a big church this is harder to do, but try wherever you can, all the same!)

10: Be organised: From what I already know, ministry life is full on. You need to be organised! If you need someone to do admin for you, then do! and for goodness sake delegate wherever you can (no's 8 & 9 will help with this!)

So there you go, have I missed off anything vital?  I wonder if, in 10 years time, assuming I get into minstry, whether I would change this list at all!

Friday, 1 April 2011

Leaving the last behind...

Whilst sorting through the blog I came across this photo which I was going to post ages ago when I finished my grand clear out (both physically and mentally!). I never got around to it becuase I kept thinking I'm not sure I've actually finished the clear out. I kept coming back to the notes I made when doing all that reflection and thinking there was something more to come. But what I have realised recently is that there will always be more to come. God is always working in us to make us more holy. Our aim is to become more like Jesus and that doesn't happen overnight! Hey even Jesus waited until he was 30 to actually start his ministry...! So I think I had been hoping for some kind of deliberate end, but now I know there never will be. I will always be seeking to be more like him and so there will always be things to deal with. They might not all come in one go like they did recently, but they will come, and I will deal with them, with His help obviously. And as I posted the other day in relation to forgiveness, sometimes they will need to be dealt with more than once and I think I've just come to terms with that.

Incidentally this photo is of one of my diaries, all of which I burnt in the fire as I had finished going through them (very therapeutic!). I love this photo because you can just see the sticker I had stuck on the front, a not very flattering description of myself which I thought funny at the time, but look at now in a different light. To see it burning in the fire like that was quite emmotional for me, but at the same time symbolic of leaving all that behind (even if it was 20 years ago...).