Sunday, 26 March 2017

Lent 2017 Day 26 #rethinkchurch #celebrate


It's Sunday again
Mothering Sunday
A day of joy for some
But pain as well for many

God is our mother
She knows a mother's pain
I remember how she held me
Whenever suffering great strain

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Lent 2017 Day 25 #rethinkchurch #journey


Life is full of journeys
On planes, trains and ships
But the most valuable amongst them
Is the one we take within

Friday, 24 March 2017

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Lent 2017 Day 23 #rethinkchurch #rest


We are all filled with action
Things to do and say and be
But sometimes all we need
Is to be still and rest with thee

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Lent 2017 Day 22 #rethinkchurch #joyful


Allow your heart to sing
Joy will flow from every pore
Ensure God can hear He's king
Invite everyone to sing some more

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

MS Pain: The Reality

I'm in the second week (feels like lifetime) of the worst pain I've ever experienced thanks to the MS Hug.  It sounds so lovely, a cuddle from MS, but believe me it's torture as the MS Trust explain.

I started off determined not to take any pain killers beyond the neuropathic pain relief I take every day; but within 48 hours I gave in and took the prescribed analgesic and 24 hours later doubled the dose.  At this level I don't actually have less pain, but at least I can sleep through most of it which makes each day more bearable.  

In my windows of consciousness I am spending quite a lot of time thinking about pain and it's causes; it's different forms especially of MS pain and pain relief.  I haven't come to any great conclusions; but thought my ponderings and diagrams (created to help explain my pain to Mike and Rachel) might be interesting to others.  If you'd like actual facts about pain then I recommend Pain by MS Trust.

I'm sure most of you have been asked to rank pain you've experienced in your life.  From 0 for no pain to 10 for the worst pain you've ever experienced.  I never got much above 5 with childbirth but way up at 9 with gallbladder pain.  But this pain, on my old scale, is way over 15 which probably just means I was over-judging the gallbladder pain.  I've been wretching with this pain and a few times have thought I would pass out, it's not great at all.  

I've made my own pain scale diagram to help see the funny side of pain.

  1. Pain
  2. noun
  3. highly unpleasant physical sensation caused by illness or injury. "she's in great pain"
  1. mental suffering or distress. "the pain of loss"

Until the last few months I'd never really thought about pain and what different people might be experiencing every day or when they're in pain.  According to this dictionary definition, pain is a highly unpleasant sensation caused by illness or injury.  But what about pains which are just part of life?  I have had strange physical sensations which I guess might be considered unpleasant.  Have you ever thought about  what you feel and if it's normal?

On a normal day; what do your arms feel like?
How about your legs?
Your stomach?
Your head?

I don't remember a time when my left arm doesn't feel useless.  I mean that it's always heavy and feels dragged down and takes a huge amount of effort to move it.  It's been like that since my teens at least and I put it down to being very dominant right handed and therefore my left arm is a bit useless. 
 Is this normal?  

And my stomach, it has always rumbled and been sore after every meal, that's my normal and I just assumed everyone could feel their stomach moving after meals.  
Is this normal?

How about loosing the feeling on your face?  I often can't feel my face especially my left cheek and forehead and then it will come back and feel strangely warm.  I never even thought about why that might be.  
But now I'm wondering, is this normal?

Perhaps these were and are all symptoms of MS?

MS Pain
I have broken down the various pains and other strange feelings I have experienced into seven forms. 
I think about them as building blocks, with the lower numbers being annoyances which I've got used to; and the higher numbers having a dramatic impact on my life.  The higher the blocks of pain stand on any given day, the worse I feel and the more my day is negatively impacted.



0. Strange Sensations 
The foundations of MS pain are not pains, I have named them as strange sensations like temperature changes or tickling feelings or the current super strange sensation of my knee bleeding.  They are not debilitating, they can be quite entertaining to identify, but they are all part of the pain structure and they do take part of my brain time to process and they can be very distracting.

1. Pins and Needles
I get pins and needles in my limbs all the time, I've even had it in my tongue or in patches on my body.  They are a huge annoyance and a distraction which I can ignore through mindfulness or by applying pressure on points elsewhere on the body.  They bothered me a lot when I first got them, but not anymore.

2. Numbness in limbs
I often loose the feeling in my left leg and I don't think I've really felt below my left knee for about 6 months.  I get bruises on my left foot and have cut myself and not noticed.  It doesn't bother me although I've come to realise I do need to be careful.  More recently I can go numb in the right leg, which isn't funny when the left leg is also being useless; or in my arms which means I drop things. 

3. Shooting pains in limbs
These are like electric shocks and they can happen in any part of the body.  They demand my attention, especially the first few times they happen in a day; but then I can normally distract myself from them.  After an hour though they're tiring and mean I can't concentrate properly and get exhausted quicker than normal.

 4.  MS hug low level
I used to think this was horrid, but since I've had the proper full on MS hug I long for those days.  This lower level hug, once I've got used to it, can be blocked out but that takes energy and concentration, I need to lie down to get any relief of any sort and this is a huge impact on my day.


5. Spasms in limbs
I tend to find them funny in my legs, although means I can't walk safely, but really difficult to deal with in my arms because can't do anything reliably, tend to tense muscles so need to be constantly aware of this and relax, stops my ability to think clearly; 

6.  MS hug with spasms in torso
I can't distract myself from it, every breath hurts, can't get comfortable, pain moves as spasms move and then I find myself tensing other muscles to try and get relief.  It takes all my cognitive ability to relax and cope, pain killers have their own side effects including sleep which doesn't solve the exhaustion and disrupts my day.

7. Headache/Migraine
 I often get a headache, mostly associated with optic neuritis and therefore through the eye balls which affects my vision and really gets me down.  I can't distract myself and can't sleep with this which makes me really irritable.  Sometimes I get migraines, these are impossible to ignore and I need a  complete shut down and sleep for a few hours.   

But that's not the whole picture!
This is....



There's more to pain than just pain.  There's the ability to cope with pain.
I can cope better with any of these types of pain, or buildings of pain, after a good night's sleep.  

How the building combination is made up of these different pains complicates how I feel.  And when they change in a day that means everything is up for grabs.   If I'm ill, especially with a temperature or with swollen glands, then everything is exacerbated. And then of course there's the constant tinnitus which is at two pitches all the time and sometimes as many as four and is really distracting.  Everything is worse in a noisy or busy place because that's too much sensory information to process.

And MS likes to throw in fatigue and exhaustion separately into the mix, and this is like a load pushing down on top of the pain making it all so much heavier and harder to lift off.

And then there's the pains of mental health, both because I'm feeling rotten and that's depressing and because the cause of pain is anxiety inducing and also because MS affects mood.  Put this anxiety and depression into the foundation of the pain blocks and the whole system becomes less stable and more inflamed; an even harder situation to manage.

PS. There's a TBA box on the top.  
I don't know what this is, but I didn't want to tempt fate by saying I had this pain thing all sorted out, so this allows for something I'm yet To Be Advised about.  I'm hoping I never get the memo.

PPS. This is not a pity party.
Please don't think I've written all this by way of getting your sympathy. 
I have written this as a way of trying to understand my own pain and my life and how I can manage my pain to live life the best I can.  I have written it because I have family and friends who want to try and understand what it's like and I hope this might help.  And I have written this because writing and creating diagrams is a great distraction from pain and has been helpful over the last week, although I've been typing too long now and I'm tired and in pain so there I'll stop.

Lent 2017 Day 21 #rethinkchurch #go


Fear makes us stop
Dead in our track
Faith helps us to go
Never look back

Monday, 20 March 2017

Lent 2017 Day 20 #rethinkchurch #afraid


Do not be afraid
It does no good anyway
Better to take an action
The best of these is to pray

Tell what it is makes you fear
Ask for ideas you can face
Listen to plans that will work
Slowly pick up the pace

God will provide solutions
Jesus will make sure they work
The Holy Spirit will be alongside
Soon you'll see hope through the murk

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Lent 2017 Day 19 #rethinkchurch #celebrate


Celebrate every day
Especially on Sundays
That God loves us
Jesus forgives us
Holy Spirit is with us

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Lent 2017 Day 18 #rethinkchurch #beloved


We are beloved
More than just loved
We are dearly loved
As God's children loved

Friday, 17 March 2017

Lent 2017 day 17 #rethinkchurch #speak


Speak only kindly
Listen always carefully
Hug very gently
Love extravagantly

Lent 2017 Day 16 #rethinkchurch #presence

Be still
Be strong 
Make your presence calm

Do not fear
What you hear 
But know God had the steer


Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Lent 2017 Day 15 #rethinkchurch #see


What can you see?
And what about me?
Blind I might be
But
God shows clearly
What I need to see



Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Lent 2017 Day 14 #rethinkchurch #faith


We live in faith
Not in certainty
Or knowledge
We live in faith

Our faith is tested
Each day
In many ways
Our faith is tested

Faith grows
Blesses
Sustains
Faith grows

Monday, 13 March 2017

Lent 2017 Day 13 #rethinkchurch #kindred


We are all connected
Families together
Across churches and communities
Countries and continents
Kindred spirits
Following Jesus' example
Excluding no-one
Ever



Sunday, 12 March 2017

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Disabled Access Day: Is your Church Accessible?


Close your eyes and imagine standing on the road facing your church on a Sunday morning.
How accessible do you think it is?

Give it a rating from
Poor     Needs Improvement     Almost there    Accessible

Now go through the questions in each section below and think about accessibility.

Entrance
Can you see the door?
Is it well lit?
Can you see how it opens?
Can you open it with one hand if you aren't very strong or aren't standing up?
Is it open already?

Is the path to the door smooth and without loose trip hazards?
Any holes to fall down?
Is the path well lit?
Is the path wide enough for two people to walk down next to each other?

Are there any steps?
Is there a ramp available if there are steps?
Is this in place?
If not, is there someone obviously making a move to put it in place?


Welcome
Is there someone at the door welcoming people?
Are they smiling and looking pleased to meet you?

As they welcome you, do they ask if you would like large print information?
or help with finding a seat?
 do they tell you about the t-loop?
do they show you where the toilets are?
are they accessible toilets?

do they give you a brief outline of the service and what will happen?
do they perhaps offer to sit with you through the service?
if you don't want any help, do they take that well and go back to welcoming someone else?


Internal Furniture
Are there spaces for wheelchairs?
How many?  3? 4? 10?
Do these locations feel part of the body of the church?
Or are they off to one side and feel isolated?

Are the seats comfortable for people in pain?
If the chairs or pews are hard and narrow;
are there chairs for people who could not sit on them for more than a few minutes?

Is the lighting providing good light levels to everyone?
Do any of the lights flicker?
Are there are dark spots in the building?

Are there any steps or raised platforms in the church?
Are these used by congregation during the services?
Are these ramped to allow full access to all areas?
Can anyone with any mobility or sight disability access all parts of the church they need?


Service
Does the person who opens the service introduce themselves?
Do they welcome everyone?
Do they give an outline of the service?
Do they say it's OK to leave if anyone feels they need to?
Do they point out people who are available to help anyone through the service?

Is the t-loop working?
Is the screen well placed for light levels?
Are the words on the screen in a clear font and large enough for most people to read easily?
Does the screen flicker?

Is the order of service and hymn book well laid out so anyone can read it?
Does the service leader refer to page numbers to help anyone new to find where they are?


After the Service
Does the person closing the service invite everyone to stay for refreshments?
Does anyone offer you a drink?
Do people talk to strangers?

Is there a team of people who give information about the church community to new comers?
Is it OK to say you're happy to say you're just visiting?

Is there space to move around the church?
Is the exit clearly signed?
Are there people at the door saying goodbye with a smile and an invite to return?


Now you've gone through these questions 
(it's not a complete list by any stretch of the imagination)

How accessible do you think your church is?
Give it a rating from
Poor     Needs Improvement     Almost there    Accessible

What action are you going to take to increase the accessibility of your church?

Lent 2017 Day 11 #rethinkchurch #led


Jesus said "follow me"
Sounds a very easy decree
But what it means can be hard to see

Each day in prayer
I say from my chair
"Where you lead I will go there"

Friday, 10 March 2017

Lent 2017 Day 10 #rethinkchurch #free


we take for granted
that we can believe what we wish
but around the world
this is not always how it is
there are people dieing
for not giving up their faith
today we remember
those not free to live in grace

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Lent 2017 Day 9 #rethinkchurch #live


What does it mean to Live?
Feel love
Whilst you Go or Stay
Smile and Laugh
As you Live, Listen
Give Open Invites
And Share your Welcome
Greet everyone in Trust
Appreciate it All

Ask don't Stare

Last weekend we were in a local supermarket and, as usual, most people either ignored me in my wheelchair or tried not to stare while staring none the less.  I am used to it now and with my sight loss I don't even see it happening, but it really bothers Rachel who gets wound up by the behaviour.

But she and I were reminded just how lovely some people can be when two little boys (probably about 3 and 5 years old) ran up to me 

"Excuse me, excuse me; why are you in a yellow chair?"
"Because if I tried to walk like you I'd fall over quite quickly"
"How does it work?"
"I use this joystick to go forward and backwards and left and right"
"Can we have a go?"
"Sorry no, that's not safe, but you can press the horn button if you want"
So they pressed the horn button
And then their mum emerged 
"No boys, no, don't touch, come away, come on"
"Don't worry
I reassured her 
"They are fine"
"Boys, come away, stop bothering her
she said without actually speaking to me.  
And off they went chatting about how clever my wheelchair is.

Rachel and I were so happy to have had this interaction with the boys; it is just wonderful to be able to talk to people and answer the questions they are bound to have.  Rachel summed it up perfectly
"Young kids aren't scared about asking but when they grow up they learn (wrongly) that they mustn't ask because it's rude.  But then they just stare because they are still curious."

She's so wise.  Our curiosity about difference doesn't diminish as we get older, it's just that societal norms tell us we shouldn't ask about people's personal business.  And of course there might be people who don't want to be asked; but I'd much rather have a conversation with people, especially friendly kids, than be stared at or ignored.

So if you ever see me out this is my permission 
in fact it's an invitation 
to ask me anything you want, 
within reason.  


And please don't ever rush your kids away, 
they might just be the highlight of my day.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Review: Smart Phone Microscope

I have not been given this nor am I being paid for this review; I am purely writing this after being blown away by the benefits of such a simple and low cost magnifier.



Rachel has always enjoyed using her microscope but it's not exactly easy to carry around and has no flexibility for viewing anything bulky.  I saw smart phone microscopes advertised online and thought they might be fun and useful; and at less than £10 I bought one for Rachel for Christmas.  She opened the microscope on boxing day, put it on her phone and bingo!  She was off looking at the detail of the carpet, her clothes, random food, dust, leaves and more.



About an hour later I managed to get a go and was amazed to find that I could read words on a newspaper using it.  This might not sound that special, but when you're vision is as poor as mine (I'm severely sight impaired - blind - and can't read text below 20 font and even that can be a strain) it's a huge cause of excitement.



I spent the next few days trying out all sorts of text on different types of paper and found the microscope unbelievably easy to use; in fact it was just as good as the Rehan Looky 4 which I had spent £400 on to help me read.  It is small and light, simple to use - you just put it on the phone and switch on the camera - and because of it's low cost you don't have to be anxious about using it.

Don't get me wrong, the looky 4 is far and away a better magnifier and has lots of useful tools including reverse colour and blue and yellow; I wouldn't be without it for reading letters. But for less than 3% of the cost of the Looky this smartphone microscope is amazing and can fit in my small bag for checking small print on packets when I'm out and about.  It even uses the phone light (camera flash) so works in dark places.  In these photos you can see the small print on my eye drops really well magnified.



And if you're more like Rachel and love looking at clothing under the microscope, here you go





Lent 2017 Day 8 #rethinkchurch #preserve

For some people preserve means keeping things as they are
Or perhaps taking things back to the way they were
Yet we can do nothing but keep moving forward
So what does preserve mean for us?

It means making the best decisions to follow God
Because God preserves His hopes for us
He gives us prayers which preserve the truth
And the Holy Spirit which preserves His presence

 

This pot is fermented cabbage and carrot
The freshest veg preserved for months to come
Through the winter months when supply is low
This is what God wants us to do

To preserve ourselves and our healthy habits
So that we can be sustained through dark times
When we find it hard to connect with God
Without vinegar of course



Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Review: Amazon Echo Dot

To be clear at the get go; we were given one Amazon Echo Dot to review. Subsequently we have bought ourselves three more.

What is the Amazon Echo Dot?

  • Amazon Echo Dot is a hands-free, voice-controlled device that uses Alexa to play music, control smart home devices, provide information, read the news, set alarms and more
  • Connects to speakers or headphones through Bluetooth or 3.5 mm stereo cable to play music from Amazon Music, Spotify and TuneIn
  • Controls lights, switches, thermostats and more with compatible connected devices from WeMo, Philips Hue, Hive, Netatmo, Nest, tado° and others
  • Hears you from across the room with 7 microphones for far-field hands-free voice control, even in noisy environments or while playing music
  • Includes a built-in speaker so it can work on its own as a smart alarm clock in the bedroom, an assistant in the kitchen, or anywhere you might want a voice-controlled device
  • Always getting smarter - Alexa updates through the cloud automatically and is continually learning, adding new features and skills


Image from Amazon Website


Why did I think Amazon Echo Dot would be helpful?

  • I didn't. 
  • I really couldn't imagine how it would be of any use to me.  
  • I could use my phone for everything I thought it could do and thought it was a gimmick. 
  • But hey, it was worth a try and Rachel was going to enjoy trying it out so I thought I'd have a go and see what it could do.


How did we use it in the first week? 

  • Jokes - Alexa tell us a joke was surprisingly entertaining in the first week
  • Music - Playing music from Amazon Music where we keep all our music was really useful and we were surprised by the strength of the speaker and the ease with which it found our playlists
  • Weather - It is so much easier for me to hear the weather than try to have my voice over read my phone's weather app; this was a big advantage
  • Lists - I used the list feature a fair amount in the first week and although I've barely used it since it will be helpful when we're creating family lists for packing for holidays etc
  • Alarms - we all now use Alexa for our morning alarm calls and it works better than a phone alarm, it must be the pitch
  • Timers - this has been helpful for all sorts of things from cooking to challenges to games to medication reminders


How did we use it in the first month? 

  • Controlling light bulbs - Mike got over excited with the idea of helping me with light levels around the house and has spent many many hours buying new light bulbs and programming them so that we can now control every single light in the house to turn on and off, change light level and for some of them even change their colour
  • IFTTT triggers - we have been using a range of the IFTTT triggers with favourites being connected to the lights so the trigger "Alexa trigger night night" turns off every light in the house in case we forgot any
  • Home security - the great thing about having the lights under control is that we can turn them on and off when we're not at home - at least Mike enjoys this and it makes him feel that the house is safer
  • Door bell - even the doorbell is Alexa controlled


How has Amazon Echo Dot helped me as a person with sight loss and mobility issues? 

  • Can control light levels with voice
  • Can control colour of lights with my voice
  • Can set alarms and timers easily
  • Can listen to my audio books and music louder


Our future plans
We're looking into new door entry systems so I can open the door without having to spend 5 minutes hobbling around the house.  We're hoping to use voice commands for this.

Any negatives?
Only when Rachel's friends come round and think Alexa is the best thing they've ever found to talk to and just don't stop.
Alexa....
Alexa.....
Alexa.....
aaarrrggghhhhh

Anything else? 
It's worth mentioning that Mike is a computer programmer and has spent dozens, if not hundreds of hours writing code to get the lights to be this clever.  But he's enjoyed doing it and has helped him feel like he's being useful.

Blue Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday Too

I wrote this in January this year and just found it.
I'm not sure why I didn't post it here, 
perhaps it was a symptom of just how blue I was feeling.  


I’m sure you heard
This time last week
About the Monday
They call blue
A day of sadness
And deep despair
One day a year
When they all share
Just how it feels
When depressed

Especially
In January
The blue is bold
And light and dark
Overwhelming
Everything
More like black
In fact
And heavy
Without tact

But it’s not OK
On any other day
To share the blue
It must be bright
Breezy and light
That’s what the world
Expects of me
You see
They can’t cope
And nor can I

Monday blue
Tuesday no new
Wednesday too
Thursday, phew
Friday it grew
Saturday flew
Sunday blue hew
Whole week long
What would you do?
I just stay blue

Lent 2017 Day 7 #rethinkchurch #forgiven

What does forgiven mean to you?
A sorry said, or roses in blue?
For me it means so much more than this
Greater than a word, or hug, or kiss
It's an action taken many years ago
By Jesus on the cross, his pain on show
By giving himself for all of us
He saved and forgave in endless love
This is what forgiven means to me
Yesterday, today, tomorrow, eternally


Monday, 6 March 2017

Review: Instant Pot for Visually Impaired Cooks

Right up front I want to confirm that I am writing this because I am so impressed with the Instant Pot.  I was not given one, I bought it for myself and I am not being paid in any way for this review.

What problems do I have cooking?
I have two problems with cooking:
1. My Sight
I am severely sight impaired which means I have a small £1 coin sized field of vision which isn't even perfect in clarity.  I am not safe with a knife, I discovered this by experience.  And I find it really hard to tell one tin from another let alone when things are cooked.
2. My energy and pain levels
MS is a disease which causes pain (in many different and changing places on different days) and exhaustion.  Every day is different but even on a good day I can not stand for more than a few minutes or stir a pot for more than a few times.

Why did I buy the Instant Pot?
I wanted to try and take some of the load off Mike and Rachel and help cooking meals again.  I had heard from some visually impaired friends that the Instant Pot was great and after reading lots of reviews decided it was worth trying out.  I knew you could cook from frozen and leave the pot to do it's thing without having to stand and stir or watch and check.

What is the Instant Pot?
This is my instant pot on the side in my kitchen.  It is a pressure cooker which plugs into the socket behind it.  I place it close to the hob so that any steam can go up the extractor fan. 

Instant Pot is a Programmable Pressure Cooker designed to be Safe, Convenient and Dependable. It speeds up cooking considerably, uses up to 70% less energy, and produces nutritious healthy food in a convenient and consistent fashion.

How does the Instant Pot help me?
It takes me no more than 5 minutes to saute any meat and onions and then add in whatever frozen veg I want to use (or come to hand) for whatever I'm cooking.  I can sit on a chair to do this and this saves my energy.  It only needs stirring a few times and then I put the lid on, press the button and leave it.
On a good day, so usually about once a week (not at all last week but twice the week before) I can now prepare a meal in the morning, when my energy levels are at their best, and know it will be ready for our evening meal.  This is not only wonderful for Mike but also good for my own self esteem.
And to this the fact that the food I am preparing is healthy and balanced and provides meals for 2 days and this is more success than I even hoped for.

What have I cooked in the Instant Pot?
This is the lamb casserole I cooked in the Instant Pot this morning and is being kept warm until we eat it this evening when Mike gets home.  It is bright in colour because all the vegetables keep their form and colour and nutrients.  To make this I used the saute function to brown the garlic and onion and lamb pieces; I then added a huge range of frozen prepared veg including butternut squash, brocolli, cauliflower, spinach and mushrooms; plus a tin of chopped tomatoes and herbs.  I set the timer to manual for 20 minutes and let it do it's thing.  Within an hour I heard the beeps to say it was ready and it's been keeping warm ever since.

In the last two months I've made:
chicken and lamb casseroles
bolognese
curries
tagine
soups

Lent 2017 Day 6 #rethinkchurch #wise

Day 6 of lent #rethinkchurch challenge #wise

What is wisdom?
I wish I knew
The older I get
The more God renews
That unlike the owl
What matters most
Is doing your best
And not fearing the worst


Lent 2017 Day 5 #rethinkchurch #celebrate

lent 2017 #rethinkchurch day 5 #celebrate 


we plant seeds of faith 
and celebrate when buds of relationship with God bloom


Lent 2017 day 4 #rethinkchurch

 #rethinkchurch lent day 4 #treasure 

there may not be gold at the end of the rainbow, 
but it reminds me of God's treasure of love


Lent 2017 Day 3 #rethinkchurch #sacrifice

Lent day 3 #rethinkchurch #sacrifice

It can be a sacrifice to be different 
But God asks us to challenge ourselves every day


Lent 2017 Day two #rethinkchurch #injustice

Lent Day 2: injustice #rethinkchurch 

There is so much injustice in our world and it can feel like we have no power or influence to bring about change. 
It's like looking into a uncontrollable vortex. 

But there are ways we can address the balance:
Immediately - donate to a charity that fights for justice
Locally - give a coffee or sandwich to someone sleeping rough or volunteer at an old people's home
Nationally - email your mp about an injustice you want dealt with
Eternally - pray


Lent 2017 Day 1 #rethinkchurch #heal

Day one of lent. 
Day one of rethink church photo a day challenge: heal.
#rethinkchurch
And I'm thinking positively this year even if I'm not writing about it all the time.

I've found painting to be really healing over the last few weeks. 
Here's Rachel's favourite of my creations to date. 
There's a lot to read into it.
But I won't elaborate today


Pounds from pounds

Mike: Where are all those £1 coins you've been collecting? We need to spend them before they're worthless. 

Rachel: they'll be worth even more when they're not in circulation

Mike: no they won't, give them here

*argument evolves*

I turn to Google
Rachel turns to maths

Rachel: our collection is worth over £70 already

Mike: well...... £££
😍


Spring has Sprung



There are many signs
That spring has sprung
Like daffs in bloom
And trees in bloom

But, for me
The first main sign
Is Tommy outside
Sat on the trampoline



On The Mighty: "I survived January"


My latest post is live on The Mighty

Actually it was live a few weeks ago but I was trying to catch up on everything I'd let slip in January and so didn't have time to share it here.  But perhaps I'm back on an even keel again now, for now.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Apps to help you this Lent

Welcome to Lent 2017, the 40 days start today Ash Wednesday.
I don't know about you but over the years I have tried to give up almost every vice, have tried to take up almost every good habit and tried endlessly to be more prayerful but almost always feel like a failure by the time Easter rolls along.  And this year?  Well I'm not giving up trying, but I'm being more practical about it and decided to find some tools to help me with the praying bit at least.

In this search for tools I gathered together a whole heap of apps which I'll be using in different ways. Some of these I use regularly as it is, some occasionally, some I had forgotten about and others I've just newly discovered.  Anyway, now I have a list I thought it might be useful for others.

Daily Prayer apps
Pray as you go 


Pray as you go is a daily prayer session, designed for use on portable devices, to help you pray whenever you find time, but particularly whilst travelling to and from work, study, etc. find app here

Daily prayer from CofE 
Find complete services for Morning, Evening and Night Prayer from the Church of England with this official Daily Prayer app. find app here






Time to pray from CofE 

Time to Pray: Prayer During the Day from the Church of England provides a pattern of prayer and daily Bible reading that is simple yet profound. It will help you to create and enjoy a regular time with God during your day – whatever your lifestyle.  find app here




Reflections for lent 2017

Reflections for Lent offers a simple way to make space for Bible study and reflection from Ash Wednesday (2017) to Easter Saturday (2017). This standalone app provides a chance to try the readings from best-selling Reflections for Daily Prayer app for the season of Lent. find app here




Lectionary

For each day of the church year, it presents the Common Worship lectionary readings in full, complete with dynamic links to the Bible passages themselves (NRSV translation). All approved variations are clearly presented, including the Additional Weekday Lectionary. find app here




Daily office

Morning and Evening Prayer including psalms, readings, and commemorations by Rev. Christopher C. Richardson find app here







Daily lent prayers 

Daily Lent Prayers is an app which presents a series of prayers, one for each day of the Lenten period to help you grow in your relationship with God and to deepen your commitment to a way of life that stems from our baptism. In our busy world, Lent provides us with an opportunity to reflect upon our patterns, to pray more deeply, experience sorrow for what we've done and failed to do, and to be generous to those in need.  find app here



Ignatius Prayer apps
Reimagining examen

Reimagining the Examen offers a unique prayer experience that’s tailored to your needs and mood. Each Examen, based on St. Ignatius’s 500-year-old prayer, guides you through a stimulating reflection on your day, helping you invite God into your nitty-gritty. Choose an Examen that matches your current state of being, or pray that day’s scheduled reflection.  find app here


Sacred space

Spiritual freedom, a deeper relationship with Jesus, and finding God in all things are three basic precepts of Ignatian Spirituality. Sacred Space, a joint apostolate of the Irish Jesuits and Loyola Press, has dedicated itself to continuing the mission that Saint Ignatius began centuries ago. In 1999, Sacred Space went online, bringing faith to a new frontier of communication. Sacred Space expands the boundaries again with its new smartphone app.  find app here


Jesuit prayer

Jesuit Prayer is your one-stop shop for Ignatian Spirituality on the go. The founder of the Jesuits, Saint Ignatius of Loyola, created the Spiritual Exercises to deepen our relationship with Christ and to move our contemplation into service. Ignatian spirituality reminds us that God pursues us in the routines of our home and work life, and in the hopes and fears of life's challenges. find app here



Reflective, contemplative prayer apps
Reflections for Daily Prayer

This easy to use daily prayer app is based on the only Bible reading notes designed specifically for the Church of England by Church House Publishing. Following the Common Worship lectionary, the Reflections for Daily Prayer app allows you to read and reflect every day on the same passages as thousands of Anglicans worldwide. find app here


Centering prayer
Centering Prayer is a method of silent prayer that prepares us to receive the gift of contemplative prayer, prayer in which we experience God's presence within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than consciousness itself. This method of prayer is both a relationship with God and a discipline to foster that relationship. Centering Prayer is not meant to replace other kinds of prayer; rather it casts a new light and depth of meaning on them. Centering Prayer is an ancient method of Christian prayer adapted for modern times by Fathers Thomas Keating, William Meninger and Basil Pennington. find app here

Christian meditation and prayer

Christian Prayer and Meditation is a safe place for Christians to meditate through guided prayer and meditation while soaking in HIS presence! Christian Meditation through the Meditate on Me app is an easy way to connect and enter into the power and presence of God and is centered around Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life. You will get great Christian teaching as you focus on God and His Word.  find app here


And for the days when time is a luxury: 3 minute retreat

The 3-Minute Retreat, for a peaceful prayer experience that helps you re-connect with God, re-center your day, and relax, wherever you are. Every day, the app guides you on a new bite-sized retreat filled with Scripture passages, soothing music, and reflection questions that you can pray at your own pace.  find app here





Just in case you wondered; I'm trying to give up hoarding and have committed to emptying one bag load of stuff from my life every day through lent; and I'm trying the rethink church photo a day again this year.

Find more posts I've written about today here: Ash Wednesday
And if you're looking for books or courses: Lent Courses and Books
And if you'd like some resources for kids: Lent with Kids
And I'd forgotten I'd written about light as a theme for lent: Light of the World