Thursday, 24 December 2009

Cooking with the children

Today the children have been making their Christmas presents for the family - except Joe who has all of his done.
Ashleigh has made chocolate orange cookies and bags to put them all in, Hana has made Rocky Road cakes and decorated boards for them to go on, Katie has made vanilla fudge - milk and dairy free, which needs wrapping tomorrow. Needless to say this has required some supervision, some help, a large amount of clearing up and has taken all of my day.
This evening we had pizza, and watched the final Santa Claus.
It has been great to spend the whole day with my children, having fun. The hymn numbers and readings are done for Sunday and this evening I finished the last of the wrapping ( I know I have claimed that before, but there were some last minute bits still to do)
My advent reflection today is about seeing things from someone else's point of view, which is just what I am planning on talking about Sunday morning - It was enough to help me believe that I'm going the right way with Sunday's service - a kind of God confirmation, and we can all do with plenty of those.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Being listened to


A bit late for a Tuesday blog, but my blogs often look like they are on a different day than I say they are because it's past midnight. After 20 minutes trying to find a parking space at Holmbush, I had a lovely meeting with my Mentor Ian - he always helps to put things back into perspective and focus back on the bigger issues - I'm don't know if he realises just how useful our chats are to me. It's great to have someone to listen and help sort things out in my head - someone who understands the way things are for me right now.
The afternoon was a bit of a mix up - some crossed wires I think!! It did however give me a bit of time to get on with some stuff for Sunday's service. The Hymn numbers and readings are due in Wednesday so I need to be at least that far.
The evening was the second part of the traditional Santa film watching in our house. Things have calmed down considerably, and if I could just shift this cold, that I have been avoiding all month, and have finally gone down with since I slowed down, Christmas is looking good.


Monday, 21 December 2009

missed two


Haven't written for two nights - not much has happened really, Saturday shopping then home with the family. Sunday church then Christmas dinner with Keith's Mum. All very nice but nothing to really write about and today was much the same, Beryl's hair, shopping, helping Joe and Kate with their presents then the annual Chinese and Santa Claus with the whole family.
You see, just calm normal life - so very nice.
I still have a service to prepare for Sunday, a meeting with my mentor, two funerals and a 3000 word essay for January on my "to-do" list but I can see then end of it for once. I don't like to speak too soon but after the January essay deadline the rest of the month looks quite quiet.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Swan Lake, funerals and Christmas TV


Today I woke to a bunch of excited children as there was a good covering of snow outside and the schools were shut. Kate and Joe went off into the garden for the first snowball fight of the day.
This afternoon I met with Tricia to have a lesson in funerals - we've got two in the next two weeks, it was great I learned loads and am very grateful to her - these are the bits of training that I think the Methodist Church is very bad at. SEITE is quite good at the funeral stuff and our next Module is on Occasional offices, but some of the Methodist bits are different and that never gets tackled at college, so I am grateful for Methodist friends who give up their time to help.
This evening I went to Eastbourne to see Swan Lake which was great - it is one of my favourites and so beautiful.
Now I have discovered that sky have a channel called Christmas 24 which is one Christmas film after another, and am currently watching a musical version of A Christmas carol. My Advent reflection today was about being confident that God is with us when we struggle, and backing us up even when we are not conscious of it.
My final thought this morning as it is now twenty to two is this:

Your Time: Look for ways to help those who cannot help themselves
Your Love: Give love freely to those who need it most and deserve it least
Your Life: Your life was a gift to you from God; make it a gift from God to others
Your Lord: Jesus is the greatest gift of all. Introduce him to a friend.

(from A Stocking full of Christmas compiled by Mark Stibbe)

Knees


Today I went to London to visit my knee specialist - I had to wait ages because I always have to see the boss because the ACI operation was his invention - it was weird a bit like catching up with a friend I haven't seen for 5 years, he even asked how the children were and if I had qualified as a Minister yet!
The news on my knee wasn't quite so great though, I have to go up to Stanmore and have some specialised tests and then go back to London to see Mr Briggs in February, more waiting, more patience and more pain.
I managed to get to Regent Street on the way and stopped at the Apple store to get my Birthday Present from my Mum - a very nice red, phone cover which is really an external battery it's pretty and serves a useful purpose too - thanks Mum.
My Advent reflection today was about accepting people even if they are different from us, just as Jesus did.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Silver bands and curly hair

I have spent much of today setting my essay into some sort of reasonable order and it now seems to have a firm structure, about half of it is now actually written and the other half is well on the way. It has been a productive day's writing and although the deadline isn't till the twelfth of January, it would be really nice to at least get a first draft of the whole thing done before Christmas.
I did stop for long enough this morning to have my hair permed - in a desperate attempt to make it a bit easier to manage everyday. It seems to be ok so far and hopefully it will be easier longterm.
This evening I went with Joe to the Community Silver Band Carol service, one of my favourites - so there have been many reflections on the reason for the season at that. My advent study today was about remembering to lean on God. About reflecting on the strength and vulnerability of God incarnate. All of this fits well with my essay which is on the Doctrine of the Incarnation and leads me full circle to where I started.


Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Cyril v Nestorius


Wow what a day - I went to college early to take part in a Fourth century debate, which was part of this modules assignment, it was my job to sum up it's relevance to 21st century theology - I think it went ok, it felt like it did. And because my group had gone in early, I was home from college by 7 which felt like I had been given an extra evening.
Inspired by the extra time, my study skills lesson tomorrow and by the fact that the debate is over, I carried on working (well it is college night!) and have now set out the first 600 words of my next assignment, about the Doctrine of the Incarnation and written my blog before midnight!!
In the morning I am having my hair done, then I must get the next few words done before my lesson (hopefully another 1000 or so) - the more I have done, the more productive the lesson is.
From a reflecting point of view today's Advent reading was also about God becoming incarnate - God loves us enough to come and share in the struggles and joys of being human. And maybe more importantly we don't need to change to be loved.
We are encouraged to:
Rejoice in the encouragement God give us to accept ourselves just as we are, and
Remember to remind ourselves regularly that GOD LOVES ME!!

Taking the choir out


Not done much today - this morning I played chauffeur to seven members of Joe's school choir who were going to a residential care home for the elderly to put on their Christmas show - it seemed to be appreciated by staff and residents alike. I had a great surprise on my return home, a very unexpected but most welcome Christmas gift in a card from some dear friends.
This afternoon I shopped and cooked, and then finished the present wrapping - so I would like to officially announce that today - on the 15th of December I am ready for Christmas!!! - good job really I have plenty else to keep me occupied!
This evening I watched "My Sisters Keeper" with my big girls as the little two were out at the BB Christmas party - needed the tissues!! Lots!! I did however get some good stuff about donor babies from it that I think I can use in my essay (this was, of course, the real reason for watching it!!)
My Advent reading today was about being places you don;t want to be and finished with the words:
Remember - just because I don't know where I'm going doesn't mean God doesn't.
Resolve - to look out, when I'm not where I want to be, for good reasons for being where I am.
and on that note, and at 2:14 I will say goodnight.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Gaudete Sunday


Today hasn't seemed that busy, but I do seem to have got a lot done (I like days like that - it's the ones that are really busy and you get nothing achieved that I don't like much!) This morning I went to listen to one of the most inspirational preachers on our circuit who talked about Rejoicing in God - which is very apt because today is Gaudete (or rejoicing) Sunday - the third Sunday in Advent which is marked with wearing rose coloured vestments instead of the normal purple of Advent, and in contrast to the other more somber readings of the season which show the need for penitence, the readings on the third Sunday emphasise the joyous anticipation of the Lord's coming.
Keith and I spent the afternoon in Intenso, drinking tea and writing Christmas cards - and got them all done!! (this is my very worst job of Christmas and I am so pleased it's done)
Then we went to St Luke's to see Joe do Herod again - still a bit smiley for someone who thought his whole world was being challenged!!
This evening Han and I watched Elf - she and I do films together as our time together - and now she's big she even makes the tea!!
All in all a good day!

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Be still


My advent reading today talks about being able to see God's long term plan for our lives, to view our lives as part of a longer term project and trusting God to be master of that plan we would be able to approach our lives in a less frenetic way. This whole weeks readings have been about being still and waiting. I am drawn again to a message I need to hear often -"Be still and know that I am God"
Today I had a very funny note from Sheila on my facebook page - she reckons that I should make a New Year's resolution to go to bed on the day I get up!! At the moment I seem much better at getting up on the day I go to bed!!

Decorations and "to-do" lists


Yesterday's blog said I was going to carry on till midnight then get an early night - well that didn't happen I was still up at 3. On Wednesday night I popped into GB and Sheila was making Christmas decorations they were great and I asked her to show me how - I am a complete addict the picture on this blog shows one of the decorations I have made this week during the experiments(mostly the others are red and green and more traditional than this one!), One that size takes about 15 minutes start to finish! Some of the smaller ones I've done were more awkward and took a bit longer. I always forget just how much I enjoy creative stuff until I do some and I have really enjoyed making decorations and some presents this Christmas - I've obviously got better at fitting in things into my day that I enjoy as well as work and as the first two bits of work are done this is obviously not doing me any harm.
Next on the "to-do" list is: to start a 3000 word essay on the Incarnation and what it means to Christian Living especially ethical questions around beginning and end of life issues, look at what to do for my service at Crossway on the 27th, finish wrapping the presents, start writing the cards, get my knee sorted out and generally sort out the stuff that needs doing before the kids break up Friday.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Calming down a bit


Yesterday I spent most of the day under a pile of books - working double extra hard to get the two pieces of work due on the 15th and 22nd of Dec done and put to one side so I can get on with the next round of things - my hard work was rewarded and I finished early enough to make an unscheduled visit to see some friends and catch up a bit which was a great end to the day - I fell asleep early, having read my Advent reading for the day which finished with the words - resolve to be still for a while today it was only midnight which some of you might not think is that early and I hadn't written my blog but the sleep was obviously needed.
Today was much calmer - I went for coffee at Church, and caught up with everyone there - went shopping for Christmas cards and dinner - cooked dinner - made some decorations - went to the Local Preachers Meeting - continued with present making - wrote my blog.
It is now only half past eleven and I'm going to carry on with the present making till midnight then another early night.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Busy but enjoying it!


This afternoon, with great pride, I watched my Son as he narrated part of his school production of Hansel and Gretal, he was of course wonderful!! He knew all his lines - spoke slowly and clearly - and with great enthusiasm for what he was doing. He is also playing King Herod in the school choir performance of the Nativity story, his schedule is grueling, he is performing either one production or the other every day for nearly two weeks at the Congress theatre, St Luke's Church, at school, at various residential homes in the town and even in Morrisons.
I realised as I rushed from today's performance to get the train to London that this is the last year that it will be like this - next September my final child goes to "big school" life will take a different turn and for the first time since Ashleigh started playgroup in 1996 (13 years ago) I will have no Nativity to go to - no school Christmas show to watch - how things change.
Things have been busy for me too this month, and I wished that I always showed the same keenness and enjoyment as my Son, for the things I have to do and the being busy - some of the things have been fun, buying and wrapping presents, putting up decorations, spending time shopping with each member of the family and watching well worn films (as I wrap) with the bigs!
Helping out at L'arche, various Christmas gatherings, the Church fair, coffeepot lunch and helping with the wedding have all been interesting, fun even and a chance to catch up with people I don't get to see much these days. College work goes on and I think I'm back into the swing of things (just in time for the Christmas Holidays)
Taking time out in the whirlwind just to write this blog (I have managed 5 out of eight days I think) means that I am at least sometimes reflecting on what is going on this Advent season - last Friday at Homegroup we looked at the Annunciation. This week in those stolen moments of quiet I have spent a lot of it reflecting on that one word that Mary seemed to find so easy to say to God and I often find so hard "Yes" When I take time to consider all that God has done for me and in comparison the little he asks of me it shames me to remember how reluctantly and how grudgingly I do it ...
And so I set out again on another week ...determined to do better......sure that this week I will respond to God's call with good grace.... happier in the business of life...enjoying the moment.....watch this space!!

Monday, 7 December 2009

Present Wrapping


I spent 8 hours today wrapping presents, so plenty of time for reflecting and just being around the family - Keith and I wrapped the kids stuff whilst they helped clear the house up a bit, then I did a whole load more whilst listening to Christmas music with Kate and Joe, watching Santa Claus 3 with Ashleigh and Hana, and then Love Actually with just Hana.
Over 90 presents are now wrapped and I bet it won't take their recipients 8 hours to open them!! It's 1:15 again now so I must go get some sleep and I'll try harder to be earlier and hopefully more able to concentrate tomorrow.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Work, work and writing!


Well missed one day's Advent blogging already!! - which is a shame, I'll try and catch up though because yesterday I had a great day on my final day of my placement at L'arche Bognor, helping in the candle workshop and making Christmas cards, a relatively easy day brain wise, but I have been really surprised from the beginning, how tiring emotionally the placement has been.
I had a hour long catch up with Alex and the first Advent study at Homegroup so it was a good day all round. It's a really shame L'arche isn't closer - I would love to keep going even though my placement is officially over.
Today I caught up with Ali over coffee and then got loads of Christmas shopping done so lots of things are crossed off the to-do list, it's just a shame that the work's not done so that I could enjoy the rest of December a bit - just had an email outlining the Methodist Cohort weekend and the extra work that entails - what joy, more work!! - just as I thought there might be a light at the end of the tunnel. There are still 10 days to go before the presentation and I only have 650 more words to write - which would be fine if there wasn't so much else to do!!
Still the blog is written and it's only quarter to ten!! I did wonder if starting writing again when there is so much else to do was really a good idea - but the discipline is good for me and taking time to recall and reflect on life is good for me too - and then there's the little matter of the training journal being part of what I am supposed to do everyday!!
Tomorrow is Christingle at Chyngton, catch up then.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Early tonight!


Well earlier than yesterday anyway, it's only 1:15. I have no real idea where the day has gone to - but at least I seem to be having an impact on the things that need doing round the house and for Christmas as well as just the external Church and College stuff. I bought a copy of 'The Heart of Christmas' by Chris Morley which is a book of Daily Reflections for Advent and am sorry to say that although Advent only started on Sunday - by Tuesday I was already behind - I am determined now I have caught up with myself to keep the readings up because each day has something to reflect on. I am so glad I caught up with Mondays it said
Reflect - Am I too concerned about doing well in any of my activities?
Remember - that God gives me permission to stop trying to be perfect.
Resolve - not to lower my standards but to be more relaxed about achieving them
Thank you Chris - these were just the words I needed to hear at the start of another unbearably busy month. Now I'm off to do today's reflect question - Am I too hard on myself? whilst holding on to the remember, which is that I am loved by God in spite of myself.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Been a long time


I knew it had been a long time since I had stopped and taken time out to write my blog - which is a shame because I was just managing to write more regularly, which in turn means I was allowing some time for reflecting on things, not just doing them which is hugely important part of what ministerial training is about.
I have decided during Advent to get back to it - reflecting that is and writing it here too if there's time. The trouble is that the diary is so full up with things to do - it being that time of year, that there is very little time to just sit and reflect.
Today is a Tuesday and therefore easier to find time I have a long journey home from college, and I spend the end bit, after the others have all left, on the train alone, so today I reflected on time and space. Advent is a time of waiting on God, yet checking my diary there is no time to wait for anything, let alone God - not a single gap between now and Christmas Eve. I seriously worry that the essential is being squeezed out by the merely important.
So how can I re-find time to wait on God and just listen - do I tell my Son that his school production is being cut from my to do list - of course not!! - do I miss a college deadline in favour of Christmas shopping - unfortunately not much choice there!!
I can make sure that I don't write anymore stuff in my diary - except emergencies (and them seem to creep up with alarming regularity) and I can make the most of the hours I do have and change the usual frustration of insomnia into some good use for a change - right now it's 2am - I have several train journeys - to college, to the hospital in London and car journeys to placement, mentoring and work, maybe I can put these times to some constructive use too.
It's been a difficult week - and that may be because I am too busy to keep all the balls in the air - my reflection at this late hour is that it is time to stop writing now and sleep a bit. Catch up again tomorrow maybe.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Painting and Pastoral care


I've quite enjoyed the start of term, BS3 suddenly made sense (lets hope that carries on!!) and Synod was quite good fun (it was nice catching up with people, even those I had faced at District Candidates last year!)
Over the last two days, I have painted a room for two young girls who really deserved a treat in their lives and it got me thinking about the possibilities of painting as part of pastoral visiting. There must be lots of people who for different reasons are less able to decorate rooms in their houses - because of illness, finances, time, age etc. And there are many people around with time and skills who maybe able to help - I think it's worth thinking about more for the future.
Transforming things in peoples' lives, might just be a practical way of demonstrating to them Christ's transforming love in a very practical way.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Back to school

Well my twelve week summer break is finally over and this week sees me back to college for the next exciting step of my journey, back to SEITE but this time as a Student Minister and so no candidating lurking in the shadows.
I feel rested and refreshed I have spent lots of very special time with my husband and children, caught up with friends old and new, had plenty of time for the hospital visiting that was needed and generally didn't do much at all - lots of being and not too much doing.
I have looked at my diary for this month and it has that familiar busyness of term time about it already but I have taken a tip from my Aunt and put in some appointments with myself, to just sit and ponder or do whatever I feel will give me a break from the business of life.
On top of college and the new placements that I am really looking forward to, next Saturday sees my first ever District Synod about which I have very mixed feelings mostly because it all feels very real if I have to go to Synod - all a bit too grown up!!
I will write more as term hots up - catch up soon.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

"THE shirt"

This was the weekend of our Circuit(sorry United Area) farewells - yesterday saw the departure of my Superintendent minister (the poor man with pastoral charge of me!!) I will miss Him, his wife and their combined wisdom a great deal, although I'm sure it won't be too long before I see them it will be on very different terms than it has been over the last three years as he has helped me in my journey -  from the day in April 2006 when he interviewed me to see if I should be allowed a note to preach, though the ups and downs of Faith and Worship and recently holding my hand throughout the candidating process. Chris has been a source of great support, someone to share good times with, often a shoulder to cry on and I will miss him lots.
Today was time to say goodbye to Sheila as she moves to a time of semi-retirement (I am sure I will still see her as she is on the committee at SEITE, and continues as Assistant District Chair). 
Today's formal goodbye service was also the first public appearance of  "THE shirt" which I am sure will feel less weird as time goes on. I thought I would post a picture for those who missed it!!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Doing Less


One of the things I enjoy most about my blog is that I can go back and read how I was feeling about certain points in my training, which is really useful when writing reflective practice reports and nice for me to see just how much I have moved on. 
This morning I looked at the stuff from the last summer holidays, and read with exhaustion the list of things I had done/was planning to do. I have been officially broken up for 6 weeks now and although I have managed to catch up with some great friends for coffee/lunch, have joined in with the children' s usual end of term stuff (including "The Prom"), caught up with a few overdue haircuts for people and cooked for the Church anniversary I feel very rested and not pressured (unlike term time!)
I have changed a lot during Foundation Training and I have definitely started to really appreciate time for not doing, but just being. This holiday I haven't arranged loads of things to do - although I spent a lovely day out with my Son yesterday (just the two of us, doesn't happen much when you are the youngest of four!). I am only on the Plan once in August (usually I offer more if I am on holiday from college).
The children are off camping next week and are going to spend some time with my Mum later in the holiday, and we are all going away together camping at the end of August. I'm sure there will be stuff planned in, but within those plans there will be quiet as well as busy.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Conference 2009


I listened to the Methodist conference on line last week. I listened as our new President took office, to decisions about the BNP, to debates about Ministers pensions(and felt mine slipping away before I begin!) and about "the way forward" - I laughed, cried and shouted at the computer during the debates.
 I listened to the fantastic service on Sunday morning and joined with the 1700 Methodist's in worshipping God, and heard the moment when our new Presbyters and Deacons were received into "Full Connexion" before being ordained that afternoon. 
However by far the best for me was on Thursday 9th July 2009 when I heard the standing vote on 601b - the moment when Conference accepted for pre-ordination training those of us who have just successfully candidated. I played the recording  to my husband and children (they were quite unimpressed!! - all you can here is the sound of people standing up from their chairs and then sitting down again!!) and gently reminded them that this was one of the most significant moments in my life so far.
It is often in the quiet, seemingly insignificant moments that the greatest changes to our lives are brought about.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Endings and new beginnings


The last three days were my final time away as a Foundation training student which was very strange indeed - the seven of us have travelled a long way together in two and a half years, and shared many things both good and bad. 
I set off believing I would be in need of my tissues for this emotional time, but for most of the time we were together we celebrated our training together. 
It was a time to reflect on where we had been, how far we had come and where we are going. And we had a great meal out, on Friday night, accompanied by the various staff who have walked alongside us. 
It was only Saturday morning as we gathered on our own to pray together as a group, before two of us had to leave earlier than the formal goodbye timetable had planned, that the true weight that we will never really be together as a group in the same way really hit home. 
We have a reunion planned, and all have emails, mobiles and could even get in touch by snail mail at a push but the monthly sharing of our lives together is over. It will now take effort on our part, to stay in touch and not let the pressure of the next two years and new friendships stop us from supporting each other. 
This was the time that the tissues were needed - and in no way just by me!! It is hard moving on but the time is right for the next stage in our journeys to start.
Methodist Conference is next week, and this is where where the decisions made at the Connexional Committee will be ratified and I will formally become a Methodist Student Minister. It is a significant moment in my journey and one my Church have decided to recognise formally,  during the service this morning.
The reason I had to leave the GCC early yesterday, was so that I could go to Rochester, to the cathedral, to see two very special friends Ordained Priests, the next stage in their journey. My love thoughts and prayers are with them both as they celebrate their first Communion this morning - with Jeremy as he is Priested today and celebrates his first communion on Tuesday, and with Lincoln, David, Gwilym and Martin Ordained as Deacons yesterday.
For all of us it has been a weekend of significant endings and significant beginnings.
The next step along the path, the way ahead is different for each of us, we will each have different travelling companions - but the one thing we can all be certain of is that as we travel, Christ travels with each one of us, whatever the next step is and wherever the path leads.

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Training and Trust

The training allocations panel have met and decided that from September I will be staying at SEITE to complete two years further theological study before being stationed. There are many reasons that I am very grateful for this decision - My Learning Support is all set up through Kent University and it will be easier to continue that now. My children won't have to move schools/colleges for another two years. I haven't got to pack all this stuff up again. I quite like SEITE in a funny sort of way, and it saves having to leave my comfort zone and try something new.
However this is me trying to find the positives in what feels like a really horrid decision because what this actually means is another two years caught in the poverty trap with no obvious means of escape - we have spent the last two years living by faith and although God has never let us down and the money we have needed has always turned up -eventually!  It has been quite a tiring way to live and I was looking forward to a grant and a change of lifestyle. It seems strange that, what for many people would seem a small amount of money would have made such a huge difference to our lives. I have no idea how we are going to manage another two years, I just have to trust God has it all in hand


Friday, 8 May 2009

Tiggerish

I have now spent an exhausting 40hrs bouncing about, since the news broke of my acceptance for Presbyteral Ministry within the Methodist Church. Swinging between being absolutely overjoyed and almost overwhelmed by the immensity of what those words actually mean.
Today I have come down from the ceiling a bit because there are still things to be done - real life things (even though it doesn't feel much like real life at the moment!).
I have filled in my forms for the training allocations panel and now I have to wait(again!!) until they meet on the 20th May. After that I will be informed of their decision about what happens next and where I will be in September.
Monday sees the return to normality properly - there are essays to write as usual, and services to prepare.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Three more nights

I really believed that once the interview was over and there was nothing else I could do, that I would feel better. I had no idea that the waiting would be this painful. I have re-lived in extraordinary detail, every single moment of the interview. Especially the bits I don't feel like I did very well in. The weekend was quite a nice distraction, but my stress levels are reaching the peak of their limits. I have three more restless nights to go. The up side of all of this waiting, has been the chance to listen to the audiobook of Brian MacLaren's "New Kind of Christian" because I am unable to concentrate on anything else - like essay writing!! Tomorrow I am off to college and Wednesday I am speaking at the Women's Friendly Hour then the waiting will be over and the results will be out - next update then.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Today's the day!!

Well here it is, the morning of the Connexional Interviews. It was very unlike me but I woke at 5 this morning (maybe my body is a bit nervous!!) and I still feel strangely calm. Much better than I did on the day of the district interview. Whatever happens over the next two days I am at least assured of a mountain of prayers to sustain me - thank you all x 

Sunday, 26 April 2009

one left

Sunday and it's the day before the interviews. I have been overwhelmed  with the messages and love shown by so many. This mornings service at Hailsham was incredibly affirming, and the last thing on my "to do" list before "panic about candidating" but actually I am feeling surprisingly calm about the whole process.

Friday, 24 April 2009

3, 2, 1 we have lift off!

Three days to go - I can definitely feel the stress levels rising. I have finished Sunday's service and the presentation for the interview (but will probably fiddle with that till I am ready to go!)It is so lovely to have heard from so many people that they are thinking of me and remembering me in their prayers( Catholic prayers from Kate added to the list today!!), I do feel very supported and uplifted. But I knew today as I cleaned the cooker that the nerves had indeed set in!!(apart from when we moved house, the last time i willingly cleaned the oven was the day before my one-to-one foundation training interview!!) I have become very aware of God's presence and marvelous hand holding ability and hope to cling to that throughout the weekend

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Six days

The two outfits for the interview are complete - I haven't done that much shopping for me since I was a teenager it was quite fun really. So day one black trousers, with black top, black shoes and Mum's cream black and red scarf and my black wedding anniversary cross. Day two blue trousers, cream shoes, blue top, cream and blue scarf and silver birthday cross. I'm not sure what it says about me, if anything, or whether it's just because smart isn't really my thing but I feel much better now that's settled, not worried about the presentation not quite being finished - which you would think would be slightly more important!! I think the lunch with James helped to sort a few things out, he's such a calming influence, and the chat with Rob helped too (got proper Anglican cathedral prayers lined up for Monday and Tuesday!! Ha Ha :-) ) Service for Sunday first job of tomorrow, then the finishing up of "the" presentation.


Monday, 20 April 2009

There are just seven days till the Connexional interview (I feel a somewhat stressed week approaching!!) - I think I am on the way to working out what to wear on each day - definitely one outfit is settled, thanks Mum, Hana and Keith for advice, loans of things and help. Hopefully by tomorrow outfit number two will be settled and then I can stop worrying about them and get on with the presentation. Got a busy week to keep me occupied - Back to college Tuesday to start the final module of this year. Off to work Thursday. Out for pre-interview lunch with James, to chat through some stuff and help calm me down!! (Ha Ha!) Service to prepare for Sunday and the dreaded presentation for the interview to be done. That lot should keep me out of mischief.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Resource list


I have finally made the decisions:
Theological book - I am Somewhere Else - Barbara Glasson
Non Theological book - Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
Film or Theatrical performance - Grease
Exhibition, display or cultural event - Beyond Church stations of the Cross - Brighton.
I am now finding it hard to believe the interview is only two weeks away - I still have two services and two essays to get finished, before I start on the Hymn book presentation. 
Some good news though, today I finished my Lent faithbook - 60 hours of Reflection and a beautiful book to show for it  - much better than giving something up for Lent.

Friday, 3 April 2009

What needs to be done


I thought it would be good to write some of what needs to be done at the connexional interviews - to make it clearer to me as much as anything. I have to attend for a 24 hour cycle from 2pm Monday 27th April till 2pm Tuesday 28th. During this time there are three different processes:
Triangle interviews (20 minutes each) three interviews each with two members of the panel
The first looks at spirituality and being in relationship - with God , self and others this panel will have read the reports on my preaching!
The second looks at 'The Church's Ministry in God's World'
The third asks for a list of
 - A theological book
 - A non-theological book
 - A film or theatrical performance
 - An exhibition, display or cultural event
which have been significant to me and apparently I will be asked to talk about one of these (details to follow when I have decided!!)
Then there is a group exercise in collaboration and decision making - instructions will be given on the day!
Finally I have to give a 5 minute presentation about a hymn (choice of three) and whether it should or should not be included in the new Methodist hymnbook and why - face questions on my presentation and a general interview with about eight people.
In between this there appears to be time for worship, food and possibly some time for reflection.
All this takes place in the beautiful setting of the All Saints Pastoral Centre -  London Colney.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Connexional Committee

Well, today I went out for coffee with a dear friend and we chatted about the District interviews and about any lasting scars either of us were still carrying and I came home to discover my call up papers had arrived. My presence is requested on the first day the committee sits - Monday 27th April so not as long to wait as some people only three weeks to go but the longest wait until the results come out - maybe I could do with a lesson in how to wait patiently without biting everyone's head off!! It is good news really because I would have hated it to clash with Kate's birthday or our weekend in Skegness with the family.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

A brief reflection on the events of Friday


It has take a couple of days to think straight again, I really did feel on Friday that I had been put through a mangle and been wrung out - even at housegroup in the evening I wasn't really able to articulate my thoughts which is not like me at all!!
I suppose that because I had decided to give my absolute all to the interview, I laid my heart on the line for them - It was very personal and every question delved deeper into things that for most of us it is not usual to share with 15 relative strangers.
Most of the time in our lives people check out the outside of us - our appearance and maybe look slightly at who we are on the inside. The group I sat in front of on Friday did the opposite and might have noticed my outward appearance but spent a long time trying to find out who I am on the inside.
I was as honest as I could be, and was rewarded with a 1 for communication skills and a 2 over all, I have since Friday had the chance to talk it over with a dear friend, my husband and my Superintendent Minister and finally the pieces inside me that were jolted about are beginning to feel more settled again.
I now have six weeks to wait and recover before the final Interview's, good job I have three services and two essays to keep me occupied in the meantime.

Friday, 13 March 2009

One to go!

Well they said YES!! I feel a bit battered but all in all the day wasn't too bad. So now only MCSC to go - final interview on the last week of April.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

District Committe Interview


Well this is it, tomorrow is the District interview - the next step in the candidating process.
 I still feel very calm about the whole thing, which in itself feels very strange for something of such great importance to my future.
I have been focusing hard all week on the words of a wise friend, who wrote me a note saying " Have a peaceful and contented week God is in charge and all will be well"
So I am going to the interview with the confidence of one seeking only to do God's will, WHATEVER that may be.
My tutor prayed on Tuesday that I would know God's peace, that peace which passes all understanding, so maybe the way I am feeling is more than just unexplained calm. Maybe it is peace knowing  indeed that God is in charge and all will be well.

Friday, 6 March 2009

This week

Well it's now down to the final week before the district interview next Friday. I am completely surprised about how calm I feel.
However I think one of the reasons for the seeming composure may be the service at Haywards Heath on Sunday which is taking all my nervous energy - I've been asked to speak about Pioneer Ministry as it's 'Mission in Britain' Sunday, so no real problems there just normal preaching angst.
Maybe on Monday, when that's over, some nerves will set it- but on the whole there is very little I can do other than be myself on Friday, and trust that God has the whole thing in hand.
I have kept up the faithbooking. I've been trying to do something everyday during Lent but have been increasingly surprised at how tiring it is, even for someone like me who finds it really easy to think in pictures.
I think after Easter my aim will be to get a larger album poss A4 and try for one page a week - because I think it's important for me to try and set attainable goals for myself, that way I won't give myself too hard a time if it doesn't go according to plan.
Also during Lent this year I decided to try and stop running around like a headless chicken and concentrate on doing fewer things, and doing them better - more being, less doing. This seems to be going ok - I am definately aware that life is going one pace slower than usual (however to anyone watching it may not seem that way !!)

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

The Results


My meeting with the Psychologist was good and the report he wrote was very affirming, ending with this comment - "Overall, I can see no obstacle, as far as I am concerned, to her progression and in fact I can imagine her as a fine and very human minister."

Well it was enough to cheer me up!!
I have kept the Faithbook up everyday, so all is good there too.
Not much else to tell, the next step is the District Committee on March 13th.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Psychological Assessment

This Saturday(Valentine's Day no less!) I have to go and have my Psychological Assessment, at 11 am in Findon. I am unable to let you know what it entails because I really don't know Will tell all soon. However for those of you praying me through this whole process Saturday may be when I need it most!!

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Faithbooking


Probably for as long as I have been saying I would write a blog I have been interested in the art of Faithbooking. As last year I finally got the blog going and although it is still a bit erratic I am still keeping it up I decided it was time to start something new. I like to take something up rather than give something up for Lent and I realise I am a bit early but the Retreat weekend seemed the perfect opportunity.
"So what is Faithbooking?" I hear you ask,
There are different definitions of what faithbooking means,this is my personal favourite, it is simply incorporating your faith throughout a scrapbook. It is:
A means to express our faith.
A journey of faith.
The ability to capture life's lessons that God teaches us.
An eternal legacy for our children.
A witnessing tool.
An incredible, permanent reminder of our God Moment and His hand in our lives.
It is a collection of Scripture, thoughts, prayers, blessings, memories, letters, and stories combined with photographs to always remember our personal and spiritual journey with the Lord.
It seemed like a good enough reason to try it, and a way of adding some more creative processes into my quiet time each day.
So I started last weekend whilst on Retreat and am currently 15 pages in. I decided to use quite a small book so I didn't overwhelm myself and each page takes about half an hour so two in my morning quiet time fits nicely. It has been a good way for me to concentrate on a single verse of Scripture or a hymn and really see what God wants to say to me on that day.
And as a bonus I'm left with a beautiful reminder of my journey.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Candidates Retreat


WOW

What a wonderful few days that was - before I went I was a bit apprehensive and though it would be much like all our other weekends away. I couldn't have been more wrong - the guys from UTU Sheffield really changed the dynamics it meant there were two groups of people, each group contained people very familiar with the others in their own group and total strangers to everyone in the other group. We were able to integrate and share common ground of candidating almost imediately, soon it was as if we had always known each other and I for one left GCC with five new friends.

There was lots of quiet times to be able to really wrestle with what God is asking of each one of us and plenty of time for sharing, including being sent out in twos to speak about and to listen to each others journey storys.

It was a time of sharing the highs and lows of the whole Foundation Process and a time to set aside difficulties and current issues, before the interviews begin.

And I found lots of time to start my Faithbook.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Three years.

Today I head off  to London for the wekend that marks the start of my third years Foundation training. It is hard to belive that it will all be over soon, one way or another. It is very hard to have met with a small goup of people once a month for all that time without becoming very attatched to them, and it is the change that will occur in those friendships which will probably be the hardest part of this process. Some will probably continue, some will inevitably fall by the wayside, a vital part of this part of my journey, but not part of the future journey.
This comes to mind as my jorney with these people changes gear.
People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. When you know which one it is, you will know what to do for that person.
When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually. They may seem like a God send and they are. They are there for the reason you need them to be. Then, without any wrong doing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand. What we must realise is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled, their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time
to move on.
Some people come into your life for a SEASON, because your turn has come to share, grow or learn. They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it, it is real. But only for a season.
LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons, things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.

I hope that for some of those I journey with I am a Lifetime.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

If God Hasn't Told You.......


And this from "Lessons from a Cuckoo" by Hilary Malpass

How often we wish that we knew,
Just what it is that lies ahead,
We'd like the future all mapped out,
But we walk in the dark instead.

We think that if only we knew,
Then we would be more prepared,
We'd be able to cope much better,
And be less worried or scared.

But an all wise God decided,
That all we needed to know,
Was just the next step along the way,
Of the path He wants us to go!

So all God's children have to learn,
To walk by faith and not by sight,
To trust in the Lord's direction, and
In the dark, to follow the light.

For as Lord, HE is in control,
But fear and pride won't let us rest,
We must learn to leave things in His hands,
For he really does know what's best!

So, quit fearing for the future,
About what to do, where to go,
Remember - if God hasn't told you yet,
Then you obviously don't need to know!

Conversations with Muse



I found this in "Praying like a Woman" by Nicola Slee.

Dare to declare who you are.
It isn't far from the shores of silence to the boundaries of speech.
The road is not long but the way is deep.
And you must not only walk there,
you must be prepared to leap.

Clouds gathering again


Well I have a really quiet week and I've caught up on all those things that I haven't done whilst I was so busy - why is it then that the black clouds that I thought has passed by seem to be gathering on the horizon.
I can't quite put my finger on what's up, nothing really. Maybe I like working in a storm and the calm afterwards doesn't keep me occupied or stimulated enough. 
Whatever is causing it I would like it to go away again.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Supports

I want to celebrate the wonderful fact that God always puts in support systems for each one of us, before we even know that we are going to need supporting. 
Several time in the last few (somewhat stressful) weeks the gentle encouragement of the people that God has sent to support me, has been the lifeline I have needed to get through and not to throw in the towel. 
There are a couple of people in particular without whom the black clouds could have so easily have turned into a terrific storm.
It is important to remember that we are all called to support others and to be supported by them at various different times in our lives, both jobs require a great deal of humility, and both should be treated as a privilege.
Thank you to all my supports.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Paperweight.


Just had a quick check back through the blog and noticed that my first answer to a candidating question was written on September the 23rd. They were finally posted on January the 8th - sixteen weeks and two days later it's no wonder I felt like a great weight had been lifted from me.

Light

This week I really have glimpsed the light at the end of what has at times seemed like a very long tunnel.
It has been such a productive week - the candidating paperwork has now been sent off (what a weight off my shoulders that was I spent the rest of that day walking around not quite knowing what to do with myself!!)
Both assignments are finished and posted, and Sundays service is done.
There were moments this week where I didn't think this would ever be the case especially when the water was comming though the living room ceiling on Tuesday morning. Fortunately the prayer team were quickly put to work and we didn't suffer too much damage. But it did put my schedule out a bit!!

Friday, 2 January 2009

Busy week

I think this comming week(or ten days) will be one of the busiest I've tried to tackle in a long time. Tommorow (Sat) we are off to the pantomime with the children and Sunday I have promised everyone a proper family day at home before the mayhem begins.
Monday is my youngest's 10th Birthday and the day that everyone goes back to work college or school, so it will start a bit on the hectic side. Whilst they are all out I will try and finish the two pieces of work for college, unlikely to get them both done maybe I'll try for one completed (deadline for posting Friday!) and make a cake for Joe(deadline teatime!).
Tuesday I can then get the other college essay completed checked and printed and start to gather things together for Sunday's service(deadline Sunday morning! Except choosing hymns/readings deadline Wednesday).
Also on Tuesday I must spend some time printing and photocopying the right number of papers for the candidates meeting with Chris on Wednesday(deadline Wednesday).
Wednesday I have a meeting with my Superintendent Minister to cross the t's and dot the i's of the candidating paperwork, it shouldn't take very long but I have to travel to Haywards Heath and back. (Paperwork deadline for posting Saturday!)
Thursday has a space in the morning to attend the midweek communion at church so that the important doesn't get oushed aside by the urgent. In the evening I'm up to Westminster for my final evening at the Sanctuary before I start back at college next week. It really has been a great placement - I will miss you guys.
Friday is the sorting out day for anything still outstanding, including all that hasn't been done round the house during the week.
Saturday a trip to Felpham Methodist Church to see John  accredited as a Local Preacher, a candidating requirement(five days before his deadline!)
Sunday I am leading an alternative service at Hailsham Methodist Church.
Monday I will sit and rest(Ha Ha).
So on top of the usual wife and mother stuff, some quiet time with God and maybe a cup of coffee with Janet to stop the clouds rolling in (please see previous post for explanation) That's all I have to fit in - Doesn't sound too bad when you say it quickly does it?

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Black Clouds

I have to admit that I have spent quite a lot of time in the last month or two sitting under a big, black cloud.
There are many reasons I could give for my gloom - too much to do (candidating, college work, Christmas etc)- being away when my housegroup meets( it's the place I put down my weekly woes!!) - not fitting in time for coffee with friends (baby glooms, if not chatted through, can quickly turn to big black clouds) - Candidating( I know I already mentioned it but it deserves a category of it's own!) not just the ammount of extra work it's bought but the emotional pressure it brings. What happens if they say no?? Worse still what happens if they say yes??? It will be a great relief when May the 7th comes and at least I know one way or the other.
Having said all of that, there is I think a little piece of each of us that sits under black clouds because they are a nice place to wallow for a while. It is very easy to get into the habit of only noticing the bad things that are going on in life, the difficult and stressful bits. So.......... I'm going to make an effort to at least come out for a walk in the sunshine everyday, even if I go back under the cloud afterwards. So at least one positive thought, something to praise God for, every day. That shouldn't be too hard should it? And who knows maybe there will be a break in the clouds and some sunshine back.

2009

Happy New Year!
2009 is upon us, I hope it brings peace and hapiness to everyone.

It is of course for me the year of candidating. Many of you have asked for a timetable of what's going on so you can keep me in your prayers. Here it is as I know it so far. I will add in more specific dates when I know them
  • 15th January paperwork due in
  • sometime before 20th March psychological assessment
  • 13th March District Panel (first big interview)
  • Two days during the week of 27th April - 1st May Connexional Committee (This is it)
  • 7th May Results day
A very special friend, who knows exactly what candidating feels like, said " It may feel like you are climbing a mountain, but just keep imagining the view from the top"