Where has the time gone?

Suddenly it is May and we are talking about coming to the end of our Living Faith journey. People are planning and starting to work towards future goals.

I have had some encouragements and some reasons to ponder and stress and doubt myself but then is that not what discernment is about? It feels at time that I am in need of full time therapy. That I am being judged and questioned and tested but that’s only right and how it should be, if Gods plan is now as I am thinking it might be.


But wait I have missed a whole load out, well actually I have written blogs, just not felt I could share them as they didn’t make sense or gave too much about my inner fears away. So here is a quick summary.

I decided that perhaps chaplaincy is my calling. Well it seems to fit but the idea of becoming a lay reader, who specialised in chaplaincy would free me up to be able (God willing) to help my own church and community. A plan yes?

So, pulling up my big girl pants, I sent the email asking if I could be considered to possibly start training to be a lay reader. Now they warn you it’s a slow process, nothing will happen quickly, your first interview (informal chat) may take months.

Four days!!! Four days!! That’s how long I waited. Four days.

So at the allotted time I bounced up to the door of the kind gentleman who had the task of trying to point me in the right direction or maybe no direction at all.

Full of enthusiasm like an overgrown puppy, really happy to be there, thinking of all the things I could mention to try and sell myself etc etc.

I arrived a bit early (we had had snow and I was keen not to be late) so went into the church next to the vicarage for some alone time and a quick prayer for courage.

Reassured by the stillness and peace of the church, I approached the front door and rang the doorbell.

It was at that point I discovered that the menopause had eaten my brain and the ability to speak had been erased from my hard drive. Suddenly breathing and grinning were my only functions.

In the next few hours I was asked my opinion on just about every aspect of church life, how I connected it with my own thoughts. Did I have a view on this? On that? On things I didn’t even know I actually knew about.

And then it happened. The big question. The one that I had been avoiding.

Why not become ordained? What’s stopping you?

What was stopping me?



Getting things wrong

Made a rooky mistake last night when leading.

I muddled names up and then carried on, without correcting myself, which just confused those listening.

Wasn’t the end of the world, I eventually  corrected myself and everyone laughed with me, at least I hope it was with me 🙂

But the lessons were loud and clear.

  • Do your homework.
  • Have notes to hand.
  • Own your mistakes.
  • And remember only God is perfect.

And get someone else to make the tea!!

End of term 2 (How did that happen?)

After the blur that was the start of the year  with flu and work and actually having a life, I seem to have become way,way behind in keep this blog updated – not that I have not penned things just sometimes not things I can really share.

No nothing of scandal to report! It is just that while reading more and praying in a more structured way my views are changing slowly.

Not my belief .

Not my core faith that I am here to Love and serve the Lord but that maybe I am seeing a broader vision of what I might be called to do.

I know we are all called to do something in our life for God. It might be something enormous like sacrificing your own life to save others. We can’t all be Jane Haining.

 Jane Haining was a missionary at a Church of Scotland-run school in Budapest when she was arrested by the Gestapo in 1944, having repeatedly refused to leave Hungary because she wanted to stay with her pupils. The frightened schoolgirls who watched her led away never saw her again.

But maybe we can be a bit more like the lovely lady who takes time each week to visit an old people’s home in Hastings to give  a time of prayer and worship, not for any other reason but that she recognised the need for companionship and fellowship through familiar worship amongst  those no longer in their own homes and communities.

Or the couple organising regular “HotDog runs” to the homeless in Brighton.

Yes evangelising but with actions to start with feeding and offering vital supplies to those just a little bit less fortunate than we are. Taking time to hear the needy, not only to feed them but to offer companionship, conversation laughter and the occasional clean pair of socks or warm hat.

Or like A Band of Brothers (ABOB). Mentoring young men who just need someone to take the time to walk alongside them. To encourage and point out sometimes right from wrong. With no judgement, no payment, just to see the potential in someone be encouraged and teased out.


Look them up!  Best non-Christian organization I know of!

Others of us are merely called to be ourselves to live out a Godly life. Being kind to one another to live a peaceful existence following Gods rules and the example of his son.

I know we are not commanded to stand on the roof tops and yell how good we are and what a lot we have done for others for the Glory of God. I know it the little things we do to the glory of God that are noticed. I know our Father misses nothing, is all-seeing and to him we can only be honest and true with open clean hearts.

I also know that sometimes to forgive and move on you need to express your pain that anothers have caused you with their wrong doing.

Being Christian isn’t about accepting pain and hurt afflicted on us but  at times with calm resilience to rise up and forgive by confronting the pain. Addressing the stumbling block that is clouding your judgement.

But what that do we do if we are not sure? What if we have followed all the guidelines and think you need to go one way but others think you need to go further in another direction? When do we stop listening for God to direct us and become guided by our egos?

Off to ponder that one.


Learning to listen

Sometimes when praying the hardest part is being still enough we can actually listen to what is actually been said to us.

We are all so wrapped up in the intensity of prayer – are we doing it right? – have we prayed for the right things? – if we prayed out loud did it make sense?

If we are listening to others praying do we hear them? Are their prayers really what they mean? Do we understand what they are saying?

A Vicar, who I  have a lot of respect for once said in response to hearing my intercessions. “Why do you have so much detail in your prayers? God knows the small print stick to the facts.”

Wise words and of course that’s true but what about the congregation ? Would they know that my prayers for the village school were because a teacher was ill and ofstead was looming? Or that giving thanks for the good weather was really relief that we had managed to get the much-needed work done on the graveyard?

But that’s not the main place we need to be listening. Not only do we need to listen for God to talk to us and guide us in our life but we need to listen to each other.

There is non so blind as those we cannot see except in this case hear!

Did the lady praying for the Food bank really mean to prompt people to donate as stock was getting low?

Did the request for good weather at the fete really mean a request for help as the prospect of organising was becoming overwhelming?

Prayers are a cry for help not only from the Lord but from each other.

Five minutes listening to the someone over coffee at the end of a service can at times be a struggle, there are other people you may want to chat to, there are chores to do to tidy away the church but stop take that time. You may be the first person they have spoken to in days.

Don’t talk over the person in your prayer group or bible study class as you feel your point is more valid or more important. Slow down and listen.

Thinking things to do for Lent why not pledge to listen – really stop and listen to someone this lent. You have no idea who God is using to talk to you.




Shapes-“My Gifting for Ministry”

Sitting down to write this and trying to sum up the last few weeks and explain where this journey has taken me I am really not sure where to start but I know that I am  ready to write something as there are jumbled up thoughts flying around my head, jutting out at the most annoying of times, what did that mean? have I read that correctly? DID he really just say that? DID I HEAR WHAT WAS MEANT?

To explain somewhat I have had the dreaded flu/virus that has been doing the rounds since the day after boxing day. I spent most of the Christmas and New Year holiday in bed with a fever or coughing in a most un lady like way. Too exhausted to even feel sorry for myself, never mind read what I should be reading or thinking about homework.

We had an interesting piece of homework. No really it was.

Reading it at first it was a bit daunting but by the 2nd or third read through it started to make sense.

The aim of this exercise was to help each of us to  understand the unique “shape” God has made us in, the gifts he has given us and how he might want to us to be serving him. We were asked to consider our:

Spiritual gifts   (God’s unique gifts to you as a member of Christ’s body)

Heart’s desire (what motivates and excites you, what you most love or long to do)

Abilities          (your talents, knowledge and skills)

Personality     (your character, style, preferences, personal qualities and strengths)

Experiences    (your life experiences – both good and bad – and what you have learned and gained from them)

We were asked to consider  these gifts and how they affect the way in which we engage with our family, friends, job, local community and voluntary or leisure activities. Did our gifts enhance our faith or our faith enhance our gifts?


By answering the questions and digging deep, we were encouraged to ask others about how they saw you?

So I asked three people to help me out.

Two who are very dear friends, who are always there when I come up with a hair brain idea or fundraiser to support and encourage me. One lovely lady who I work with who I know had enough Christian depth to answer me honestly and with comprehension of the work I was trying to undertake.

Now this wasn’t an ego massaging type of exercise, it was a warts and all tell me what you think I am good at and more importantly what are my faults.

They didn’t hold back.

All three wrote honestly with compassion both my good points and then my negative points. It’s hard to read and digest as I don’t take compliments very easily tending to brush off comments with a joke or rapidly change the subject. I am a fan of team work and sharing credit for things or doing things  quietly without help not to be a martyr but because its just quicker to get on with things.

I was humbled by the detailed honestly, often about things I wasn’t aware or conscious I was doing. Now I am no saint (But then we all are really are we not?) but when people you love dearly say positive things about you that really means a lot. I am a firm believer in being an encourager as the world has too many critics already and I would urge everyone to be positive and have faith but I was still blessed by the response.

EVEN the negatives – I cant not say it was not hard to read these mainly as I knew they are true but as they came with an explanation as to why my friends felt I have  these negatives it made understanding them a reality to be faced, dealt with and to move on from. When things you are afraid to face are spoken and out there, they are already a step closer to being resolved .

We are all a work in progress which I guess is the point of this course.

Sharing our findings about our shape with our group was not the experience I felt it would be. Maybe not all of us gained as much as I feel I did from it or maybe they are already confident in who they are with Christ and didn’t feel the need to share or didn’t want to be seen to be weak. Personally I felt I was being judged by confessing my negatives and came away feeling very vulnerable, that I had opened up too much and that was not what was wanted. Maybe I was being over sensitive or maybe I am just forgetting this is my journey I just bump into others along the way.





So what have I learned?

The first term seems to have flown by and we now approach Christmas and I feel a sense of loss not meeting every week. I have found some firm friends and enjoy the fact that we don’t always agree AND THATS OK.

During this term we have  been tested and challenged to see who we are, what our faith is and how we react to different situations. We have learned what boxes we should fit into, if we are a certain type of church or more importantly not to get stuck in a box.

All the time being gently nudged back to the bible and learning to look though fresh eyes at familiar passages. This for me has been my hardest struggle as I can never remember who said what when etc. On advice I bought a new bible specifically for this course and I have tried to keep notes of things that jump out or historic context or even the time of year this might be relevant. That has helped enormously and I have discovered that I have new favourite passages and books, something that has surprised me greatly. I am trying to be disciplined and read the readings in church with my bible in front of me and was caught madly flipping through the pages to write a note on a connected passage during a sermon – NO IT WASNT A SHOPPING LIST.

The most important thing I have learned and or achieved is to slow down and listen in our group. No really I have!!! I don’t have to keep the conversation going or be the first to answer to be quite and listen is ok – those in my group may find this hard to believe but honestly I really am trying! 🙂  Silence is acceptable.

I think I would be accurate in saying that everyone of us has taken at least one piece of information from our discussions that may be something we want to try to instigate in our own church as we have shared good practise ideas and failures too.

It has been quite clear we all need to work on our mission with youth but also not all of us do as much as we could to encourage men or cater for the elderly or disabled worshipers. This has proved easier for the large town based churches and they are blessed by good attendance and in general seem to find it easier to achieve fundraising or diocesan goals. Despite this, our rural churches are holding their own, finding other ways to attracted members and to in someway be a more inclusive and accessible part of the village.

We have been encouraged to learn and believe in our own theological opinions. To have the courage of our convictions. To be prepared to defend our Faith against those with different opinions. To this end I have been reading blogs, engaging on twitter, reading (well dipping in and out) of books on our reading list and others that have been recommended or taken my fancy in my pretence that I am  theologian. Some of the twitter feeds have been controversial, some have been infuriating, some have made me yell at my screen! BUT everyone of then have reassured me that  I am on the right track. God is a kind loving God who encourages and holds us safe in his arms even when we don’t deserve this.

Four weeks in I had a bit of a wobble – did I really have anything to contribute to this group? Did I have the talents that are needed to get to my end goal? Was I right in my end goal is that what is really required of me? I was a bit afraid, a bit uncertain was I just a huge phony? Have I been hiding behind church as an excuse not to face issues in my own life? ??

So with a brave face but a slightly heavy heart I went to session 5 which was “Learning to live well with difference”

We had our first case study.

Now I work with students studying to be counsellors and have had many a conversation with them ranting about a specific case study and had my own little chuckle with them as they  struggled with the black, white and grey of various situations.

Without going into too much detail, any worries I had about my ability  to engage with this course went out the window. I was so enraged by some of the possible outcomes suggested by the sheet and to be honest felt I wasn’t sure I wanted to be any part of that church if that was how it was going to react to the situation. It stirred up a lot of discussion and people commenting on similar situations in their own  churches and parishes, how they had handled the situation, what they felt should be done to prevent this happening.

I was so exhausted thinking this situation over and over even though I knew it was a hypothetical question and logic told me it was made up of several different possible situation.

After days of ranting in my head looking at all the different angles I took my outrage to my lovely Rector. He listened, smiled, smiled some more and said something very logical which I had thought but hadn’t really focused on.

Instantly I realised it wasn’t anything to be wound up by but was a way of being reminded of the passion  and the need to make sure everyone was cared for and being well treated that had got me into this course in the first place!!

Our final case study was approached with much more depth and theology by us all raising some really personal moments and forming us even closer as a unit.

My other stumbling block is off the cuff prayers that some people do with such easy and with such meaning.

Without offering, (See I am trying!) I was asked to pray. I must have been in the zone as I truly felt the prayers came from deep within and felt to me to be  a summary of the 6 weeks and how we had all grown together. I very much doubt anyone realised the significance of those prayers but to me it was a gentle shove a bit further down my path.

Home work has been issued for the break – What is the Shape of you???

Please tell me I am not alone in humming Ed Sheeran?

Christmas Blessing xxx

The first session……

So on a dark October evening,  I joined a group (one of three around the Diocese) of like-minded Christians in a church hall for the start of the autumn term.

Walking in I was immediately surprised by just how many of us there are and reassured by smiles that we all felt as nervous as each other.

After some prayers and an explanation  of the purpose of the course, to help people grown in discipleship and to perhaps find the ministry in to which God is calling them, we settled down to our first lecture.

Session 1: Making Connections

After reassurance there was no wrong answer  we started by discuss how our past experiences from all the different and varied church back grounds we came from might make for a fertile ground for us all to grow in faith. That to grown in maturity as a Christian we needed a two-way process with life influencing faith and faith influencing faith. In short we had to live our faith, not just turn up on a Sunday and by Monday be back to our old ways. It soon became clear that this course was going to challenge my whole way of living.

How do we use the bible? What is Theology? On what is your faith-based? How can that understanding grow?

My head was spinning.

THEN we were told we were all Theologians. ME!! the person who can’t quote anything or remember who said what when!!! A Theologian. DO be serious!!

But again I was told YOU are here to do theology.

An “ology!!” said the Maureen Lipman in my head.

And then the gentle reassurance. “Theology is faith seeking understanding.”

And it all made sense and as the night progressed it suddenly all started to slot into place. Understanding the context of the scriptures, the history and lifestyle at the time and then making it relevant to the here and now so that I could explain to people in a way they would understand and be encouraged. That  small voice whispered you could do that.

After a much-needed coffee break we split into smaller groups in separate rooms and headed off with our lovely mentors to discuss the evening further.

Now throw a group of very different people in a room who have never met and ask them to introduce themselves and to say a brief bit about their personal journey to date and you could get into a huge pickle. We might be all emotional and give testimony or stiff up lip and give nothing away but oh my, what a blessing our group are.

We did get a bit emotional, we did share very personal things quite openly, we did explain a little of our journey so far, but under our mentors guidance we all had a chance to speak, to express and to bond.

I came away from that first night so encouraged and enthusiastic and with some fab new friends. We all came from different churches with different styles of worship but we all have so much to give and share.

Never have Thursday evenings been so exciting!