Wednesday, 29 April 2009


I am going off on a retreat this morning. It is an unstructured retreat, an experience I have never had before. The place I am going to was suggested to me by my Spiritual Director who belongs to the order of St Francis. The link below shows you how beautiful the place is, it is set in the middle of nowhere. The weather forecast for today is great so I am hoping to get out and take some photos in the grounds. Tomorrow it is due to rain all day, so hopefully this will be the time that I rest and read. I've got my 'stuff' ready as you will see in the photo - except for my camera - I had to use that to take the picture! Off to shower and pack some clean underwear, then I am off, hopefully will have new stories to tell when I get back, bye bye x. Ah ha, just looked at the picture again and remembered - must take some matches for my candle!

Monday, 27 April 2009

Christina Rossetti

The Church of England remembers Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) in its calendar today. I always take part in Morning Prayer at work on a Monday morning. I seem to be noticing poets rather a lot at the moment, I am presuming it is like when I was pregnant and you suddenly notice lots of pregnant women! As this poet is being recognised by the Church of England today and as it is still just National Poetry month I thought I would look into her some more. I was at first a little surprised at how melancholy most of her poems are, though when you then look at the fact that she spent a lot of time helping those who had nothing, maybe this isn't too surprising. This is one which particularly struck me, though quite sombre, there is a quiet hope and faith which I can see bursting through. Thank you Christina Rossetti.

A Better Resurrection.

I have no wit, no words, no tears;
My heart within me like a stone
Is numb’d too much for hopes or fears;
Look right, look left, I dwell alone;
I lift mine eyes, but dimm’d with grief
No everlasting hills I see;
My life is in the falling leaf:
O Jesus, quicken me.
My life is like a faded leaf,
My harvest dwindled to a husk:
Truly my life is void and brief
And tedious in the barren dusk;
My life is like a frozen thing,
No bud nor greenness can I see:
Yet rise it shall–the sap of Spring;
O Jesus, rise in me.
My life is like a broken bowl,
A broken bowl that cannot hold
One drop of water for my soul
Or cordial in the searching cold;
Cast in the fire the perish’d thing;
Melt and remould it, till it be
A royal cup for Him, my King:
O Jesus, drink of me.

Thursday, 23 April 2009


What do you think about choices? Do you like them? Loathe them? Are you indifferent to them? Are you aware of the millions of choices that you make everyday? We (the royal 'we' as in the whole of the human race) are the most advanced species that God made. We were the pinnacle of his creativity. How do we use this most unique gift that he gave us - the ability to make choices?

When the word choice is mentioned I usually quite quickly think back to the choice that my husband and I made when we decided to try and make a family. That was the choice that I would become a full-time mum. It was not an easy choice to make, as I have mentioned before, we felt the only way we could fulfill the consequences of this choice was to move North 200 miles so that we could reduce our mortgage. Where ever we have choice we also have consequences. We are shown all through the Bible examples of choices and consequences. From small choices, for example in the story in the New Testament of Mary and Martha where Mary makes her choice to listen while Martha makes her choice to serve with her hands. At the other extreme are choices like when the mother of Moses decides to ensure her son lives by placing him in a basket in the reeds to be found (hopefully) by the daughter of Pharaoh.

I have to confess that I get very agitated and upset by people trying to insist that they do not have a choice over stuff. I think there is very little we don't have a choice about. We can't always choose whether we are going to become ill or die (though there are choices that we can make that can make these a consequence, eg. smoking, high risk sports activities, etc). Even when faced with illness or dying we do still have a choice of how we are going to handle it. It was very difficult watching my sister face up to a life with Multiple Sclerosis. I would say it took her about 6 years to come to terms with it and to take hold of the choices that she still had over her life. Once she decided to choose 'life in all it's fullness' not only did her mental health improve but she physically improved to which meant more choices opened up before her. Big choices like this being made by people undergoing such adversity is probably one of the reasons I get so agitated and upset by the folks denying their choices under little adversity.

When someone says to me - "I would love to be a stay at home mum but we just can't afford it". I am sure what they are actually saying is "I would love to be a stay at home mum but have decided that faced with the choice of reducing the material content of my present life or staying at home, I am going to choose to stay at work". I am not trying to belittle the decision that thousands of people make, however I do want people to admit to the fact that they are making a choice. If we don't admit to ourselves that we are making choices then we are denying the fact that we are living by the consequences of the choices that we make - that is living a lie (in my opinion).

I don't think I stand on my soap box too often, and hope that you will forgive me for doing so today on this topic. I am presently trying to come to terms with making a huge decision over my nieces life, there are not a lot of choices available to me and my family, however there are lots of consequences that will not just affect me and my immediate family but also will affect my extended family and many friends as well.

So whether your choices today are easy or hard, take delight in this gift that our father God has given to us, and make your choices wisely and be prepared and willing to honestly face the consequences that your choices will bring.

Monday, 20 April 2009

I am


I was regretting the past
and fearing the future.
Suddenly my Lord was speaking:
"My name is I AM"

He paused.
I waited. He continued,
"When you live in the past
with its mistakes and regrets,
it is hard. I am not there.
My name is not I WAS.

When you live in the future,
with its problems and fears,
it is hard. I am not there.
My name is not I WILL BE. "

When you live in this moment
it is not hard.
I am here,
My name is I AM."

Helen Mallicoat

I have been feeling so blue the last few days, clearing my documents folder at work this morning I refound this poem, I cannot remember where I got it from. I think it's words describe exactly where I would like to be.

Saturday, 18 April 2009


I didn't realise until I published yesterdays post that I had kept God completely out of it. It has to be said, that apart from when we found our house, it was a time when I felt completely apart from God, totally distant. This was probably the first time this had happened to me to this degree in my short Christian life. It was very frightening. I still battle with how I feel about these 'desert' times, this one was by no means the only time it has happened, though probably remains the longest one. There are times when I can beleive that it was a time when I felt God had remained distant from me, however there are also times when I can beleive that it is that I was keeping distant from Him. I can know in my brain that the there are many examples in the bible that tell us that God will never leave us

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."Deuteronomy 31:5-7

But this does not satisfied a troubled heart and spirit. I found it very difficult to remain around mental illness without becoming afraid or terrified. I still find it difficult, despite the fact that I have had to return to tablets to enable me to function - maybe I am afraid and terrified of myself - I know there have been times when I have been.

When we moved from Manchester I definately feel as though I was escaping. I am presently surround by mental illness once again (not my m-i-l, she passed away just over a year ago). This time there is no escape, I try continually to cling on to God, but I do have very dark and bleak moments. I trust they will brighten again, and long for that time to come.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Mental Illness.

I think it is probably time for me to go back to my life story. The last post that I wrote on this was some time ago now, all about the couple of years when I gave birth to my two gorgeous children. They are 8 and 9 years old now, so quite a lot has gone on since their arrival. I mentioned before that my husbands father died shortly after my first born appeared. This was sudden and very tragic. He and my mother in law had already separated before I met my husband. They formally separated on their 40th wedding anniversary. As I have learnt more about their family life it is obvious that mental health was always an issue.

After their separation (instigated by my m-i-l) she proceeded to have a breakdown requiring her to be admitted to hospital. I met her approx 18 months after her hospital admission. She was reasonably stable if not a little eccentric at times. She was fully able to look after her grandchildren (from husbands sister) during school holidays etc, moved into a lovely flat and was still continuing with some services to keep her well.

My husbands father went on to re-marry the same year that we did, and remained with his new wife in the old family home.

There was always a bit of tension about all this when in the presence of family members, but things seem to settle down reasonably. That is until the death of my f-i-l. Actually it was some months after this. I was already pregnant with my second child. It started with reports from step m-i-l of strange goings on in her home (the old family home). Petty vandalism really, pots knocked over, etc. Then came the demands for furniture that m-i-l saw as belonging to her and not to this stranger living in her old home.

I have to confess that I was quite oblivious to this a lot of the time. Having a growing toddler and getting heavier and heavier in my second pregnancy. The turning point was when I went into labour. We had arranged for m-i-l to come and look after my son while I was in hospital. I was in labour for approx 16 hours, during which time, m-i-l kept ringing the hospital (the nurses had a discreet word with my husband). There was a very worrying couple of hours when we discovered that we couldn't get through to her as our home phone was continually ringing engaged prompting us to have to get a friend to go and check that everything was ok. It turned out that she had just not replaced the receiver correctly - a sign of things to come it turned out.

In the months that followed, my life felt like a nightmare, I was struggling to cope with two little ones, my sister by this time had moved into her own home and was requiring lots of support from my parents who were still the main carers for her daughter. My husband was really not enjoying his job, we were all still grieving the loss of his dad. On top of this it became very apparent that m-i-l was extremely mentally unwell. She was eventually diagnosed with bi-polar disorder however unlike her previous breakdown, this time she wanted no treatment. My step m-i-l and ourselves (both closest in proximity) were the main targets of her anger at life.

This sent me into a very deep depression. I was too scared to answer my own phone or door. Many occasions of her walking past my front window would see me scuttle into the garage to hide with the children (my arthritis was bad so getting up the stairs was not an option). Fortunately I had an excellent GP and health visitor who got me on medication very quickly. It was during this period that we decided actually we were going to move. I was no longer required as I had been for the last 18 months to continue helping with my sister as she was getting settled. There were new work opportunities opening up for my husband in the south, if we didn't take this opportunity then we would eventually be relocated 200 miles further north to a very dreary part of Scotland. All in all from interview to move we went 200 miles south in 4 months. But that is enough for today. This was hard to write but I do have the full permission from my husband who is sitting here with me trying to remember the sequence of events.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Busy in a Very Good Way

I know that sometimes I can keep myself busy to avoid stuff - maybe things I am worried about, or nervous about, sometimes to stop myself from 'feeling' the pain that my joints are giving me. Today though, I feel as though I have been busy in a very good way. I have had no agenda to my busyness, except for doing stuff I want to do, encouraging my children and spending time doing stuff with my husband.

To start the day I had managed to organise two good friends with daughters similar age to my niece to all get together. One of them suggested going to play crazy golf, which was fab - and very cheap. I took along one of my youngest's friends as well in order to try and ensure that she didn't feel she needed to disrupt the older ones. It all worked fab, they all seemed to get on really well, 2 hours flew by and left everyone feeling as though they could still spend more time together. Except for the fact that my back didn't enjoy me standing for the whole time, it was a jolly good outing and one that is sure to be repeated.

After lunch the weather had brightened up and my husband had done the washing and got it on the line while we were out, I had a great longing to go get out in the garden. I love my garden. We have been in our house for 7 years now and my garden has gently matured as I hope I have to. I have always found gardening and thinking about it, one of the best ways to assimilate my spiritual journey. Today we took up some more of the patio (the whole garden is paved - the one point that almost put me off buying it) to make a new border. I have to confess my husband did all the hard work under my direction (lucky me!). As with all fresh starts I have not rushed in and filled it with plants to quickly. First it needs time, fertilizer, rain and sunshine. As I need regular breaks when gardening I love sitting and looking at the area that I am working on and thinking up lots of different things I could do with it. Some ideas are only fleeting thoughts of fancy (or not), some are possible goers, I haven't got anything for this particular patch just yet. I also got my veg plot cleared. One of the jobs that I had to do today is to take up some of my perpetual spinach, which though too tough for our consumption now is perfect for the guinea pigs. I found it very difficult to make the decision to compost some of it. Reality though is that I really do not require it all, by composting it, it is not going to waste - having removed the bottom 1/2 layer of my compost bin today I am reminded just how valuable old vegetation is.

Once the gardening was done and the dry washing taken down, I made tea and continued another little project I am playing with. My son asked me a week or so a go if he could design a Spore monster (some PC game that he plays) to go on a t-shirt. I remembered that I had not long ago seen that Asda (the superstore) had got very cheap inkjet printable t-shirt transfers. I therefore encouraged him to do the design and use the first transfer a few days ago. Today with the nice weather I washed and dried the t-shirt and discovered that the transfers worked really well. Spurred on by this I asked my niece and my daughter if they would like to do one. They both did and wanted the lion picture from my last post, the photo that my husband took. So I have done those for them. While working at them I used up the spare space on the transfers to do something for one of my plain t-shirts. I'll try and take photos tomorrow to show you the results, I'm very pleased with them.

This evening I have managed to get all the washing ironed and hubby has put it all away. My niece has finally gone to bed (can't get used to losing an extra hour in the evening with her still up! Just leaving me with enough time to blog and have a very well earned gin and tonic.

I am now praising and thanking Jesus for being with me today, for helping me to leave all the worries that I have with him, to do the stuff that I have to do and the stuff that I wanted to do. I really do have sooooo much to be grateful for, night night x.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Longleat Safari Park

What a fantastic day out we had yesterday. At the beginning of the 2 week Easter holidays once my niece had joined us we sat down and discussed what we would all like to do during the holidays. My daughters wish was the ice-skating, which they all thoroughly enjoyed. My sons choice was to go to Longleat, it's about an hour away from us and is one of the places we have been saying we will visit for years. It was fabulous to discover it was well worth the wait. As a family we do try really hard to stick to our ethical and environmental passions. This is probably one of the reasons why we have waited so long to do this, however having seen a TV programme based on Longleat called Animal Park we decided that this place probably would meet these expectations. And it didn't disappoint us. I thought I would just put up some photographs that my amazing husband took through the day.

We started the day doing the simulator rides and then went to Pets corner. This gave opportunities for all the children and adults to handle some amazing creatures, a small selection here:

After doing this we watched a bird show, they were brilliant and not tethered or caged in at all.

We then did Old Joes mine which is a fruit bat house where they were very active having just been fed flying around us making us duck.

A big let off steam in a huge Adventure castle came next - no photos as we couldn't find them most of them time, it was huge and had lots of variety of climbing, sliding and swinging activities.

We had taken a picnic which we consumed in the sunshine, before heading off for a boat trip around the lake, here we met

A quick watch of the meerkats was had, a trip around the stately home of the Marquess of Bath before a very refreshing ice cream was then consumed.

We then got back into the car to go and do the animal safari - there was so much to see that I cannot show you all the photos, but could not miss out on showing you these

What a truly fantastic day, my body might be complaining today but I am not.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

How Easy to Feel sorry for yourself.

Ames (my niece) Si (my son) Belle (my daughter)

How come everytime I start to think, "right I'm getting sorted", something always comes along to put a spanner in the works again! What I find every so frustrating is that it is often something really small and minor that throws me off balance. I have spent the whole afternoon feeling sorry for myself because we took the children ice-skating this morning. I knew I would feel sad about not skating because I have very painful knees at the moment. I had therefore encouraged my husband not to skate either, thinking if he was sat with me then I wouldn't be the odd one out!

This plan seemed to be working okay, until my son started to get upset that he couldn't get the hang of skating (he's only done it once before). The problem was he didn't want any help from his sister or his cousin either (both girls!!). Therefore the plan was scuppered. My husband went and got skates and I was sat on my own. I had my book to read, photos to take, but it just was not the same. I get soooo frustrated with my body sometimes. However I can bring myself back to earth - so many folks can't go and do things like skating because they do not have the funds to do it or even the umph to do it! My sister couldn't have even walked into the arena never mind onto the ice! So I know I need to keep these things in perspective, and I know with Christs help I can achieve so much - just not ice-skating today - so I will pull myself back together!

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Starting Something New

I have so enjoyed this journey that I started in January with my blog. When life seems to be constantly throwing lemons at you, there is nothing like looking back at all the blessings you have been given as well. It has not only been an enjoyment that I have experienced, I also feel as though I have grown inches! Maybe I have off loaded burdens that have been weighing my shoulders down? I have seen this reflected in many areas of my life, particularly my work life and my family life.

After an action packed 40 years I think I had quite lost sight of who I was. I think we do get totally embroiled in daily activities and roles sometimes to the detriment of caring for our spirit. Having said that I am not sure that there is anything we can do to change this, except that I know that Jesus is the only answer.

We are fallen people, tainted by sin, unless we are willing to accept this daily and accept Jesus as the only one who has and continually redeems us (when we ask for it), we choose to stay as fallen people, without purpose and completely self consumed.

So in the midst of the muck that I seem to be continually wading through in my life, I will continue to count my blessings, I will continue to Praise God for the many talents he has given me. I will continue to try and find me but hopefully will also be looking for the me in Christ more and more. (And don't worry - the life story isn't finished yet - I am still alive!).

I have also decided to try and share some of the creativity that I feel God has given me in my work as a children and youth Pastor. Therefore you may find on my profile a new blog that I have started, The Life of A Children and Youth Pastor, hopefully I will be able to use this to share more of my work life, which I love with great passion. So if you are interested please take a look!

Saturday, 4 April 2009

A Poem - from me???

Well Susanne and Kathy you have inspired me - for the first time in a very long time (probably 20+ years when I was in school) - I have had a go at doing a little poem - I know it's a childish attempt - but then I also believe I have to start somewhere!

This is the view out of my living room window, where I sit with my laptop, and this is the little fellow I have been watching all week!

The Blue Tit in Spring

Busy busy busy

all through the day

in and out that little hole

beak full beak empty

the product is hidden

to me at least

though others of their kind

appear to be keeping a very close eye

are they thinking of stealing this hard work?

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Local Worshipping Church Communities.

Okay, tangent day today. I have just had a very interesting conversation with our curate this morning. Do you ever have those conversations where you suddenly feel God speaking out your mouth? (Well at least, I am praying it was God and not me!). We had been at a church council meeting together last night where we were particularly focusing on finance.

We belong to a reasonably well off church, if things are wanted to be done, the church community usually rallies and is able to ensure that things get done. However we have a majority elderly congregation. This means that it is a diminishing community as the elderly do have that unreasonable habit of going to meet their maker!

So we wrangle.......... we have an elderly congregation who find changing their worship style difficult to contemplate, however this leaves us with an ever diminishing number of folks worshipping with us. On the other hand we live in an area that has a very varied age demographic where there are a lot of young Christian families going to younger charismatic Churches in the two cities, 8 miles either side of us.

Now it has to be said that before my husband and I had children we would take a 6 mile car ride to worship at the more charismatic young church that we preferred to worship in. However we did make the conscious decision when we moved North to ensure that we moved to an area where we would be happy worshipping in our most local church. We therefore put aside our personal worship style preference to concentrate more fully on belonging to one church and community. We did not go blindly into this, when looking at areas to live we did consider and visit all the community facilities including the church. When we moved back South, we did the same thing again. In fact it has to be said that the first time we visited the area we presently live we arrived on a Sunday morning, heard a trombone in the worship as we parked the car and decided this is where we wanted to live! We then had to spend more money that we had intended on our home as they were all a little out of our league - Praise God - he works in mysterious ways!

Now having said all that, we have now left the church that is a 5 minute walk from our back gate. Not because we particularly wanted to but as we felt God calling us to our neighbouring parish - which is 20 minutes walk away. So I do feel a little awkward writing this as I do feel a little fraudulent - I do not live in my present church community.

What I felt God saying to me and our Curate this morning was that he is going to call back the young families in our area to worship in their local communities. That got us thinking. If people did this there would be several benefits:

1. The environment will benefit if people are able to walk to their church.
2. If people walk they will save money which they could put back into their local churches.
3. Those of us struggling to get our worship style more varied to take into account a broader age range in our communities will be better supported in numbers and therefore will be a visible force to encourage change.

Now I know that this is a bit of an 'ideal' outcome, however it has given me a new umph to get on and pray for more Local Worshipping Church Communities - it just seems to make so much more sense. I realise that for many this would mean forgoing the comfort and feeding that they feel they receive by travelling to other churches. However is the church only there for our benefit - I do not think so.

Father God if this is your desire, please use me to enable this to happen.