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)


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 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.