Wednesday, 2 October 2013
Sunday, 8 September 2013
Thursday, 5 September 2013
I'm sitting at home in my lounge, kids fed, bathed and in bed and watching an old episode of 24 hours in A&E. And as I sit here, watching the stories unfold, I'm remembering being by a hospital bed only a few short days ago and saying goodbye to my Grandad. After 6 years of extra time, post diagnosis of cancer, he was clearly in his final days or hours and my mum and I were sitting by his bedside, chatting to him and to each other although he wasn't conscious and his eyes were unseeing.
In 1998, they visited me at University in Leeds - coming for a weekend in my first year, sitting in the parlour at Charles Morris Hall with my flat mates and inviting various people to join us for meals over the course of the weekend. They just absorbed everything I was doing, loved meeting people and being given a tour. I took them to the Royal Armouries in Leeds and to the Jazz Cat cafe for dinner.
Later on, after I was married, they came even further north to visit Andy and I in Gateshead - we took them to Cragside National Trust, Beamish, all the Quayside attractions and a fantastic lobster meal!
Grandad was so interested in people - he would always enjoy chatting to my friends when I was at home and they would cross paths. He always remember details and ask after them weeks later. I always remember how delighted he was when my friend Yousef from Uni finally passed his medical exams!
I am sad to be writing this post, but I am relieved for Grandad, that he is no longer in pain and that we are able to look back on a life well lived. A fantastic legacy has been left to us - both in generations of people and in the character and values he has passed to us. He and Grandma epitomise what marriage is all about - journeying together through tragedy, heartache, every challenge and opportunity being something to embrace and learn from. I hope that we can have half as good a marriage as they have.
I miss him but am so grateful for him, so grateful that both my children got to meet him, particularly that Matilda will remember him as time goes on. I remember my Grandad - outgoing, supportive, fun, determined, loving. My Grandad.
At his funeral on 10th September, I am reciting a poem by Joyce Grenfell:
If I should go before the rest of you
Break not a flower nor inscribe a stone
Nor when I'm gone speak in a Sunday voice
But be the usual selves that I have known
Weep if you must
Parting is hell
But life goes on
So sing as well.
Friday, 16 August 2013
Thursday, 15 August 2013
Wednesday, 14 August 2013
Saturday, 27 July 2013
Monday, 1 July 2013
Saturday, 15 June 2013
Sunday, 9 June 2013
I'm in Sheffield this week, at Pilgrimage. It's my 4th visit. I blogged pretty extensively a few years ago when a lot of the stuff taught and modelled was pretty new to us and before we became part of the Order of Mission community.
This time, I'm coming from a different place. Missional community, which is the focus of the conference, is much more at the heart of what we're doing in our home and surrounding vicinity. So I'm here expecting challenge, which I'm getting and hoping too for clarity on taking things further and where God is calling us to step into.
A few highlights so far:
- travelling up with my lovely friend Esther and staying with Diane Kershaw and others in Parsons Cross as they live in community and offer their home to us this week. We have a very cool Fiat 500 for hire which is providing us not only with transport but lots of giggles too!
- experiencing a real sense of the stilling of God in worship this morning, enabling me to receive some quite profound encouragement.
- prayer and intercession seminar and spiritual warfare seminar earlier today. I've usually been to seminars which covered the more practical elements of missional communities, life shapes, huddling, transitions etc. so I enjoyed this more personal approach today. It's challenged me in my rhythms of prayer, worship, intercession and will definitely provide a focus in this next season.
- living in community has led to a number of conversations around 'what if' which it will be exciting to explore. In our married life, Andy and I have always had someone stopping with us on extended stays for a whole number of reasons. Increasingly we're unsettled by the isolation of just our family living in our house and having our own lawn mower or our own washing machine etc. Within that, a rule of life and rhythm of worship provides a purpose and a bedrock to building relationships with others, sharing all of life not just on an as and when basis. So lots to think through there.
- meeting some new people - some twitter friends, those I've only had email contact with or who I've me briefly before, just great to connect, chat, share experiences and eat together. An extroverts dream!
- highlights too of lots of questions...which I'll maybe post on another time.
Heading for bed - long days, much brain power exercised so need rest for all that is to come.
Wednesday, 22 May 2013
Saturday, 18 May 2013
Thursday, 9 May 2013
Tuesday, 12 March 2013
We're coming up again to that anniversary which is always a time of reflection and sadness on what could have been, particularly acknowledging the craziness that toddlers and preschoolers create! There is also huge thankfulness for what we have been through and the way it has shaped us and strengthened us.
Within all that, we are overwhelmed by the blessing of Isaac to us particularly but our family as a whole is a fruitful and joyful place, something which we couldn't imagine 3 years ago in the midst of our grief and disappointment.
I wrote about it all at the time here, just over a month after I'd been in hospital.
Easter has huge significance for us - which it should obviously! - but 3 years ago, as we journeyed to the cross there was something new and revelatory going on where we understood a little more, albeit it dimly, of the pain, sadness and grief Abba Father was choosing to go through, for us.
Last year, the anniversary fell on Mother's Day which was especially hard.
This year, I shall have a quiet day at home, doing some work, preparing dinner for my family and knowing that my Ginger Twins will never leave our memories.
Saturday, 2 March 2013
Andy has been to Tanzania and returned safely - having had a life changing, challenging and amazing experience of how a community can be mobilised to make a difference to it's own people. Some of his photographs are absolutely amazing and I'm still hearing new stories and reflections as he chats to others and responds to questions. If you'd like to know more, check out this link to Tearfund Transform's info page
Sadly, while Andy was away in Africa his grandfather died on 20th February after suffering a massive stroke on 2nd February. The funeral was this Thursday just gone, up in Newcastle so we've both been doing a lot of travelling. It was a wonderful day of celebration and remembering, obviously tinged with sadness but so many slivers of joy and hope breaking through into the grief. I know Andy is in the process of writing some of his own thoughts about Grandad Jack (or Gramps as our kids called him) and he will post them on here in due course.
I've been really snowed under with work and it's pretty full on right up until the end of term when I'm off for a week and we go away as a family. It's been a privilege (and a very daunting one at that!) to be teaching on the St Mellitus Youth Ministry degree course last Monday and this Monday coming. A really great group of engaged and interesting youth workers with a multitude of experience behind them. Couple of other exciting projects include starting the Innovate training for youth leaders and volunteers after Easter and the Growing Young Leaders programme for young people aged 14+ in April. I'm away quite a lot in the next few weeks - National Youth Advisers conference, Diocesan conference and Pilgrimage in Sheffield - all great opportunities in their different ways.
We've just filled in a preference form in connection with Andy's curacy starting in summer 2014 - requesting our ideas on where we might like to be, what kind of context, churchmanship and community and any other thoughts about where God might be calling us at that stage. This is probably not the place to discuss things too openly apart from to say we're up for anything really and have chosen a wide range of options and now need to sit back and let the process work. Which is another daunting prospect!
Lent disciplines are going well on some days and not so on others. I have managed, on most days, to keep to my limit of £1 extra spending - usually involving a chocolate injection! It's been important to plan what we eat and also challenging to still be hospitable within reasonable limits on spending. After a number of months of quite tricky times with Andy being under considerable pressure and then his grandfather being poorly, it now feels as though we can cement things at home a bit more, beginning with two families coming for lunch tomorrow after church. The stuff going on amongst school mums and local community events is also exciting.
I've been prayerfully considering some options for how my work might pan out over the next few months and years. Again, not able yet to say anything concrete but much of the supervision, coaching and huddling work that I do in my 'day job' has some possibilities for ongoing work, depending on where we might end up in 2014. Within all these wonderings, God is clearly at work and reminding me that I need to be patient and trust His timing. He has been faithful up until now and that will not change!
So, March begins with a renewed sense of focus and drawing near to Easter, that seems very hopeful.
Wednesday, 13 February 2013
So we/I made some decisions about how we're going to approach Lent this year. As Andy heads off to Tanzania tomorrow for a trip with his college and Tearfund, we've been thinking ahead to some of how that might impact us. I have decided to try and live, as much as is feasible, on £1 a day for Lent. For me this is about recognising the poverty of the world, particularly the part of the world where Andy will be next week. I don't want to just get absorbed in parenting, holding the fort and getting through til he comes back and I hope having this challenge will enable me to journey a bit with him in a small way. Alongside that, I also want to acknowledge that I don't think very carefully about the random little purchases I make, most of which are unnecessary. I want to try and curb my luxury spending.
We have a veg box delivered each week and our food shopping is pretty standard to complement that, same stuff each week. At present our freezer is in a good place so during Lent I will be cooking from our veg box contents and food that's in the freezer and will be attempting to buy as little extra as possible. Setting myself a £1 limit will also mean I think more carefully about impulse buying a bar of chocolate, although I recognise that need may hit at some point! After the day I have had today, I'm just grateful for pancakes to satisfy my need for comfort food! My plan is also to make a packed lunch when I do the kids lunches - unless I'm fortunate enough to be fed at work which I will be tomorrow.
We're obviously not including the kids in this - plenty of healthy, nutritious and balanced meals for them to come! But I do hope that some conversation will spring from it for Matilda who doesn't miss a trick!
Blogging this Lent is something I want to do more regularly...your feedback, comments, questions always welcomed to keep me motivated!
Love this prayer from Everyday Liturgy
We come before you and request that you touch us and heal us,
that you stir the waters and make us whole again,
that whomever seeks you should find living water,
and never thirst again.
you will heal our blindness, and we will see you
as the God who bore our iniquities and conquered the grave,
who scattered all evil, malice and shadow,
and claimed victory over sin and death.
And give us the hope of your salvation,
that having been cleansed we may offer your grace
to all we know and meet.
Monday, 11 February 2013
Alongside that 'overwhelmed' sense on Saturday came a recognition, a word from God about how He desires for me to be overwhelmed in Him. That the flood of love, peace and comfort He promises cuts through all those random, jumbled thoughts and worries. And now comes the church's calendar and we're heading, already, into Lent. In previous years, I've done various things like coming off Facebook. Still deciding on that at present.
But what I am thinking is that, despite failing abysmally in December, I may set myself a Lenten writing challenge and bring in a few friends to help. Members of TOM (www.missionorder.org) are taking part in a twice weekly devotional online, with various members contributing via Facebook and the website and so I hope to connect in with that. It's prayer focus is on the TOM Project (http://tomproject.org/) - fruitful kingdom communities amongst young adults on university campuses. As our path beyond summer 2014 is currently uncertain, it seems pertinent to be praying for such wide, big purposes of God rather than the stuff which I've found is filling my head. I have a few things in the pipeline at the moment - work projects and other future stuff which I need to give adequate prayer and focused space too rather than seeing them as a task. Just need to document that process of asking 'What is God saying and what am I going to do about it' on a more regular basis.
So, a variety of disciplines are being prompted this year. I know my jumbled thoughts often seem so minimal when written down and articulated to my journal, to those I Huddle, to this random collection of blog readers so I hope that as I write, I will feel less overwhelmed by myself and more by God.