Friday, 29 May 2009

Steward of God's grace.

I am reading the book "Bridging the Gap - Reader Ministry Today" edited by Gordon W Kuhrt and Pat Nappin. Within the first few pages it was speaking to me and I was underlining every second sentence. So seeing as how it spoke to me, I thought I would share some of my thoughts, here goes.

"Christian Ministers are simply 'stewards of God's grace' which will never run out even when the steward tires or wears out". This is such a reassurance for both myself and for others. We can do all we can and that is enough. I do not have to find time I don't have, I don't have to sacrifice my family, friends, energy, health or sanity; in fact those are all part of my stewardship of God's grace in themselves! The form this grace takes is not defined by me, it is given by God; I just have to be open to it and ready to use it when needed.

And so it was that as I was reflecting on the book and the issue of grace I had a 'strange' encounter with a window salesman of all people. we were signing the contract for a new back door when he suddenly told me that he was having a hard week since it was the 6 month anniversary of his daughters death. I asked if he would like to talk and he did, so the coffee was made and I was there for him. It took nothing of me other than the skills/grace I have to listen; I had the time and I was happy to be there. Mike has always laughed that I attract these people (it happens to me all over the place) but I now think that actually God puts me in the places He needs me to be to be a 'steward of God's grace'.

I know this post is short and sweet but it is a learning for me and who knows, perhaps for someone else who reads it. With blessings.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Ascension Day

Finally I have got onto my laptop and here is the post I wrote on Ascension Day.....

Ascension day

Today we as a church remember Jesus ascending to heaven, his risen form ascended to heaven leaving the disciples waiting, confused. They were told to wait in the city for, as we now know the coming of the Holy Spirit, but they had no idea why they had to wait or what for.

This has so many lessons for us; about waiting, obedience, patience, faith.

Would we wait without any knowledge of what we were waiting for?

Would we blindly obey even the most charismatic, holy leader?

Would we have the patience to trust that something would happen?

Would we have strength of faith to keep believing for 10 whole days?

Would I? I like to think do but if I honestly look inside myself I am not entirely sure I could. Or more truthfully, of course I Could but I doubt I Would.

Sure I would wait a bit but then I would let life butt in and I would get on with the normalcy of events whilst waiting. And I would start to question what I was waiting for, perhaps anticipating something fantastic and get overly excited, or perhaps decide it wouldn't be worth waiting for anyway.

Obeyance, well that's not my strong suit. I try, but then I get my head involved. I analyse everything and doubt and debate until I finally obey, or not.

"but if it was Jesus I'd be different" I hear myself say. Well I again hold up my hands, I don't know whether I would obey without question, I can't imagine it for all the wishing I could.

Patience, I point you in the direction of my blog articles on waiting for the results of the selection conference - enough said!

So to the strength of faith. Here I am drawn to the miscarriages and the years of the unknown path and pain. Somehow through that I kept faith in God and His plan as I lost all faith in myself and mother nature and science and medicine. So yes, I believe that I could retain faith and would.

The disciples were truly amazing men; the more I ponder and understand their journeys the more in awe I am. Could any of us truly say we could do the same?

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Love one another sermon - feedback and reflections

I gave the "love one another" talk today at the 1130 family communion service. Here are some thoughts, feedback and reflections.

I started by asking one of the older children to open the box from Jesus and read the gospel - this worked much better than I imagined, he could even read my writing! To see a young person read a gospel is an inspirational thing, I am sure it's the first time he read that passage and he didn't stumble, he just used his gifts and read it.

I then moved into the interactive session on love. The kids were great providing their thoughts on what is love, how it's different to "like" and how they show love. However when the subject got more theological the adults didn't get involved, a few tried but there wasn't the enthusiasm I'd hoped for. Luckily I had my thoughts that I provided but I think it lost some if the impact. However when asked about how we love God one of the boys wisely said "communion" - fantastic.

I asked for feedback on forms; these asked questions including:
1- what was the sermon about?
2- did the sermon relate to the reading?
3- was the sermon interesting/thought provoking?
4- did the sermon interest children and adults?
5- were there any distracting mannerisms?
6- any other comments?

I am awaiting my clergy's feedback but have back 5 from the congregation. 3 said it was an excellent sermon with all comments positive. 2 were more reflective and rated the sermon as good. One of these stated that the subject matter was excellent for the children but difficult for the adults to interact with in that environment but had given much to think on. The second said the sermon could have been one question shorter since the kids got bored.

My immediate thoughts were that there were too many questions and that I could have combined some together for the adults. It is a constant problem in this all age service how to entertain and educate the kids whilst also engaging the adults. I think the sermon could have worked better with just adults or just children.

My further reflection after seeing feedback and some prayer is that I need to find a way to give a message to the adults which they can ponderon afterwards, they find it hard to interact whilst fielding the kids. Perhaps sending them home with an activity could work? I know as a parent who listens to sermons that it's incredi my difficult to get much out if the kids are bored, but sometimes this means it's all focussed off the adults. I am also thinking that I could have had pieces of A1 paper to write down ideas/answers on which could have been more engaging.

I have to say there are a few further lessons I've learned:
1- feedback is really useful when I take the criticism aspect out of my mind
2- I can reflect and come to possible improvements for the future, this is the real learning
3-adults with children present are a different audience than purely adults
4- children have some of the greatest insights into faith and love

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Without prayer I'm bumbling in the dark

Thanks to an article on prayer and meditation by Mata H (author of Times Fool) on BlogHer, I got inspiration together to post on the importance of prayer in my life and realised I should share it here. so here it comes, with thanks for its inspiration to Mata and with thanks to many many others for their help in developing my prayer and meditation practices and life.

Without prayer I'm bumbling in the dark.
Literally!! I'm trying to run the shop myself and that quickly leads to bad decisions, muddled thinking, quick judgements, confusion and spiralling into my dark places.

I have had my christian faith for all my adult life but it's only in the last 2 years that I have finally handed my will and my life over to God. It sounds simple, it's no longer my decisions on my judgements; now it's God's will for me acted out by me. Of course hearing that will for me is the tricky part and that's where prayer and meditation comes in.

Every morning I spend at least 15 minutes (if I can I get 30minutes) in quiet reflective meditation and prayer. the location changes depending on the awakeness of the rest of the family and the pattern of the day ahead but what really matters never changes, I hand my day over to God. I start by thanking Him again for the blessings of yesterday and the good nights sleep. I then hand myself over with the serenity prayer
"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen"

After this I try to empty my mind of worries, concerns, resentments, fears and anticipations and let myself be open to hear what I need to hear. This period is often noisy as my mind has trouble letting go of fear especially but sometimes that blessed silence comes down and a deep feeling of being open is achieved. Once I have really reflected on the importance of me not being in the driving seat I start to think about the day ahead; the activities, the challenges and the excitements to come. I hand myself over with
"God, I hand myself over to you, to do as you will and to relieve me of self. May I always do your will."

I remember that yesterday is past and unchangeable and that tomorrow is still to come and uncontrollable; all that I have to worry about is what has to be done today and it's purpose.

And so I start my day, I am focussed, I am listening and I head out into the world. Several times a day I try and stop and listen again and I end the day in a similar vane, handing over my day with thanks, handing over my resentments and fears so they no longer haunt me and asking for the night to fill my spiritual vessel with energy for tomorrow.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Best laid plans

This morning was my time, to check over sermon, review essay, write in my journal about counselling course last night and perhaps even meditate. Wow, what luxury.

But best laid plans got changed, got to preschool and suddenly
"emmmmmaaaaa (like a child would moan) are you free?"
me: "not really (and the fatal hesitation)"
"it's just that we are running interviews and need someone who doesn't know the candidates and seeing as how you're becoming secretary tonight we thought .... (loaded hesitation)"
Me: "no one else available?"
"no, we forgot we needed to ask you"
Me: "ok but please give notice in the future!"

See the issue isn't that I can't do it, it's that I need notice so I can plan my life.

Of course this is not a rare occurrence and I know it's about me, I need firmer boundaries about what I am and am not willing to do. But that's something that takes time to set out with new people and that takes courage; I worry I'll be seen as less than!!

However I know I'll get better at it, and learn to tell people that I am busy when I have time scheduled for stuff that's about my emotional health and development. Or perhaps it's just me and that's why I am called the way I am

Things to ponder, any input welcomed


3 hours later - further thoughts

God moves in mysterious ways, I was meant to be there! Personnel unhappiness emerged and I was needed to calm, to contain, to appease and to help put back together.

So this makes it more tricky to get the balance right, how do I know when to put myself first and when to let it all happen? I know God needs me physically, emotional and spiritually well and that needs time for me

Still welcoming thought!

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Preparing a sermon on "love one another"

Next week I am giving the sermon to the 1130 family communion service (an all age workship service where the talk needs to fit for both the young children and their parents). The gospel reading John 15:9-17 for this week has the theme "Love one another as Jesus loves us".

Normally I try and work on my talks (I just don't like the word sermon but that's another issue that reaches into my psyche) a few weeks beforehand but I haven't had a chance. Today I have been nursing aches and pains when I suddenly got some inspiration and decided to try and get some of it down on paper. so here is the process I go through when writing talks/sermons:

1 - I write out the reading for the day.
This time it's John 15:9-17
"9"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. 11I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command. 15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17This is my command: Love each other."

2 - I read it at least 3 or 4 times.
3 - I note down anything at all that pop out at me.
4 - I go to the resource our church uses for sunday school and all age workship services - Roots and look at what angle they are taking on the reading and make more notes

5 - I stop and think and pray (this stage can take a loooong time because often I just don't get any inspiration when I am hoping for it) and so I wait till I am meant to be writing the talk.

6 - I break down the talk into an introduction, which especially gets the kids attention; the main part which brings the reading alive and gets them thinking about the subject; and the final section which brings it back to the reading and something to take away. (you can tell I haven't done my preaching course yet can't you because I'm not able to explain it very well)

7 - I review and review and review again and add prayer into the mix to make sure the message I'm meant to give gets given.

Because it's an all age service I try to include something fun for the kids, be it making something, or a physical activity or some Godly Play or similar. This time Roots provided a great idea of having the gospel written on a scroll as a letter, this is then put inside a box with a note on top saying "to my friends, love from Jesus". And that's where I started, I wrote a scroll, made a box and had a starting point which will grab the kids attention, I hope.

So to the main part. This needs to talk to both the kids and the adults and I try to make it that the family groups can work together to think through the issues. Although the subject of this talk seems very straightforward at first sight "love one another" it's actually quite a hard concept for young children who won't necessarily know what love means. come to think of it, it can be a challenge for us adults to define. This time I decided to come at the main part with a series of questions for the congregation to answer. Here's what I have written to allow me to lead; the provision of my own thoughts might or might not be used depending on how forthcoming the congregation is but I have learned that it's best to have some ideas in case it all goes eerily quiet!

This gospel tells us we are loved, Jesus fills us with joy because we are loved.

So what is love?
We often say we "love" something but is this real love?
- Eg I say I love chocolate but it's not really love, I just like it a lot.
- what do you sometimes say you love but really it's a liking a lot?
- ask for responses

What is the difference between liking and loving someone?
- ask for responses
- Its difficult to define but I think to like someone is to take pleasure in being with them, feeling happy and having fun. where as to love someone is to have a deep affection and attachment to someone so I think about them all the time and worry about them.

How do you know when you love someone?
- ask for responses
- for me it's easy to define, when I love someone they're always on my mind, where they are, what they're doing, and their happiness is more important than my own.

The gospel refers to "remain in Gods love"; other translations refer to "make yourself at home in Gods love"; I like this concept, being somewhere safe and comfortable; wrapped up in a blanket of love.
- How does it feel to know you are wrapped in Gods love?

Where do you feel at home apart from your own home?
- ask for responses
- I feel at home at rachels grannys house, and at good friends houses and sometimes anywhere where Rachel and I can cuddle up together

How do you make your friends feel at home with you?
- ask for responses
- I make their favourite drink, let them sit down and welcome them anytime

And so to the crux, the final section when I know the kids have started to drift away and when I can speak to the adults and try to link it all back to the gospel again. So to the big question and ending with a prayer which came from Roots again.

How can we be at home with Jesus?
- ask for responses
- it's all about prayer for me, to let him know I love him and that I bask in his love and to know that he is always there for me

The gospel ends with "love one another" to know we are loved by God and give that love to everyone else around. To support each other, to enjoy each other and to know that we are all responsible for each other.

So let us pray:
Loving God
Thank you for this time we have spent together.
As we leave this place, may your love shine through us and on others Amen

And so it's written, I will review it 3 or 4 times during the week to make sure it flows, has the right messages and that I know it since I stand at the front with no lectern, no reading a sermon for this service! On top of that I will spend at least an hour praying about it on Saturday afternoon at which point I will leave it in God's hands that the right message comes across.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Loss and bereavement part2

So perhaps I'm not so bad at endings as I thought. Sure I don't like them; and true I always had problems with them and abandonment issues; but it appears all that counselling and self reflection has brought about a change in me. But on what do I base this turn about? All shall be revealed I hope ....

We started the day looking at the losses we can suffer through life such as birth, weaning, starting school, leaving school, friendships, relationships, clubs, pets, status, age, retirement and ultimately death - the only guarantee in life! We then looked at the feelings around loss: shock, sadness, panic, anger, despair, numbness, guilt or relief.

And so to the first exercise; personal history of loss, and there's where it got emotional. First death I remember, grandad; memories of that, everyones relief because he'd had alzheimers; most recent loss, mikes gran; most difficult death - pass me the tissues!!! I have had 4 miscarriages, 3 before Rachel, and the 3rd (Kendi) was the worst thing I have ever been through. The exercise asked us to write why it was difficult and the feelings of guilt, failure, loss of hopes and dreams all flooded onto the paper. But although I was upset I was ok, it's not like it's not something j don't think about all the time. So to question 12 - of the important people in my life, the most difficult death for me would be: well it's a no brainer, Rachel of course and that thought was horrific. It's something that was always in my mind in her early months but now rarely raises it's head so it was an immense emotion.

We took a break and I sat with my feelings and realised that I have managed to deal with kendis loss, it has taken over 4 years but I have completed the grief process. His loss will forever be a part of my life but it is in it's place. And yes his loss, and that of the others, heightens my valueing of Rachel but that's ok, I can do endings!

Next we looked at theories of mourning. 4 phases:
1- numbness and disbelief immediately afterwards
2- searching and yearning
3- disirganisation and realization
4- ring your new identity

We also looked at the 4 tasks of mourning:
1- accept reality of loss
2- experience pain if grief
3- adjust to the environment as it is now
4- reinvest energy into other aspects of life

And this confirmed that I have passed through the stages and completed the tasks, although of course sometimes they need re-reviewing.

After lunch we examined influencing factors on the mourning process:
1- mode of loss
2- attachment to loss
3- past experiences of loss
4- social factors
5- personality variables
6- belief systems

And that's where it became clear to me. I have changed in 2 ways:
1- I am much more self aware, reflective and able to sit with my feelings; this has happened in the last 2 years or so and allows me to now experience the emotion of loss and accept the processes needed. Before this I couldn't bare being alone or saying goodbye to anyone; now I like myself and know I am never really alone.,. Which takes me to

2- I have a strong faith now. It was always there butnit in the same way as it is now where I know I am loved by God, know I am fulfilling a plan, know that He never will give me anything I can't cope with. I can now deal with loss because I am not alone, through friends, family, church and God I am supported. Don't get me wrong this does not make losses easier but it makes the coping acceptable.

I know I have dumped my thoughts and it doesn't particularly relate to LLM training but perhaps it is useful for someone else apart from me.
Actually, I am exempt from the pastoral care element so won't be blogging on that but at least this brings some knowledge if bereavement care which is essential for LLMs.

Sonow to see Rachel, I haven't seen her today yet so there'll be big hugs I hope.

Loss and bereavement

It's the last full day on my counselling course and the theme today is loss and bereavement. It could obviously be emotional but I am also expecting it to be insightful about losses and endings which happen throughout life.

For example; we lost the safety of the womb when we were born, lost the our baby years when siblings were born, lost the companionship of colleagues when we changed jobs, lost our loved ones when they passed over.

So why am I posting before the course? Well mostly because I have become aware that I have never dealt well with endings and still don't, I prefer to leave in a hurry because this is easier than facing the emotions. However, interestingly, I know I am good at helping others through their endings and find myself helping others through the miscarriage association and at church. So I ponder now - why is that?

I will be back later withthoughts from the day and possibly some idea on the answer....

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Christian Values

Thanks to @dailyprayers and their tweet "Pinpointing Christian values at the heart of great schools" I have been led to the Christian Values for Schools website.

15 values are provided by the Church of England project, these have been identified as the distinctive values that make Christian schools popular. The website then provides ways of living these values in the day-to-day operations of a school. I thoroughly recommend it to everyone, surely these values are important not just for our schools but for every aspect of our lives.

so to the values:
Reverence - profound respect for God
Wisdom - insight into the way life works, understanding consequences
Thankfulness - seeing the world as a gift, not a right
Humility - we should living in trusting dependence upon God
Endurance - important not to give up in the face of adversity
Service - in a life of service we become truly free
Compassion - imagination and humility sharing in the lives of others
Trust - be enriched by trusting in others
Peace - harmony, stability and security
Forgiveness - forgive and keep on forgiving without limit
Friendship - acceptance and close companionship through knowing God
Justice - giving all people what is right and fair
Hope - God can be relied upon
Creation - life is God's gift
Koinonia - fellowship - all are needed and valued and each is important to the whole

Most ministry is unseen

Again I take no credit for the wisdom of this topic, the wisdom originates from the book Total Church: A Radical Reshaping around Gospel and Community by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis via Alan Knox at his blog "The Assembling of the Church"

However I feel compelled to do some sharing on my thoughts since I think it relates to the role of an LLM.

Here's the quote which spoke to me:
Major events have a role to play in church life, but the bedrock of gospel ministry is low-key, ordinary, day-to-day work that often goes unseen. Most gospel ministry involves ordinary people doing ordinary things with gospel intentionality. Whether it is helping a friend, working at the office, or going to the movies, there is a commitment to building relationships, modeling the Christian faith, and talking about the gospel as a natural part of conversation.

Do you see what I mean? LLMs provide a preaching, teaching and pastoral care ministry and that can often be seen; but they also have jobs and lives in which they live the gospel.

So how about my life, how does this look?
I look after Rachel - that's love, moral values, right from wrong and more love
help at preschool - I listen to the Aunties when they're stressed and I chat to mums and I read bible stories at christmas and easter
volunteer with at need families - just being there for several hours a week, playing with the kids and listening to mums, it's not much but it seems to help and if Jesus taught us nothing it is to help those in need in whatever way we can
love family and friends- the theme for today is love.

Through the explorations, interviews, selection conferences and starting training portfolios I got focussed on the role of an LLM within the church and yes that's important. but thanks to this book's quote I now realise that it's the small things I do out there in the world, with the people I meet, know and love that matters the most. It's the living of the gospel more than the preaching and teaching of it that can really make a difference.

this has been you reading the messy inside workings of my mind and I'm sure it doesn't make much sense, but I make no apologies because it's been invaluable for me. thanks for sticking with it to the end.

Twittering the Gospel

I found this blog by Kingdom Grace entitled Twittering the Gospel and just had to share it, not only does it have a lot to say of interest but also it has a challenge to twitter the gospels in less than 140 characters.

so who's up for it, comment your results, here's mine

140 characters might not be enough until we know that what matters is “God is Love”

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Meeting my Mentor

So I have had my first meeting with my mentor this morning which went very well. of course I have to say that seeing as how I gave him this blog address, only joking!

After my mad burst of activity getting my portfolio started at the weekend I feel quite relaxed now. I seem to have everything in order and I know where I'm heading so now I just wait for my first course on 6th June and take it from there. Of course there will be a lot of work to do, but I will just take it one step at a time.

Which reminds me, I had a minor wobble last night in the counselling course experiential session when I realised that this June and July could be difficult with the end of my counselling course and the start of the LLM training. I tried to emotionally pull back from the counselling element but realised that's not possible and that I still have things to learn, I will just have to do what I can; that's all anyone can ever ask or offer!

As a quick sign off, I also wanted to share the Maynards Groovy Bible Tunes website which provides bible songs for children. I have downloaded one and it's already in my head (for good or bad) so will be something I will be looking at for future kids worship.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Pastoral Care - encouraging help seeking

I was reading The Psychologist this morning and found an article entitled "Encouraging help seeking" which spoke to me. The article referred to how people access therapy when they are in need but it strikes me that as pastoral carers within the church we have the same issue getting people to ask for help.

we have spent a lot of time setting up pastoral care systems at church to help support those in need physically, emotionally and spiritually; we can help a large number of people. However we hit a metaphoric brick wall when we realised that we have problems identifying those in need. There are the obvious cases such as those who go into hospital or are diagnosed with a terminal illness or those who have just had a baby. But what about the unidentified others, those who would accept help if approached with an offer but wouldn't offer themselves for fear that there are many others more in need.

Believe me I am the first to not ask for help when I need it. No one knew I had been in hospital until I was back in action and at church again. No one was told how depressed I was when I was in the depths of post natal depression, not until I started feeling better. So how do we conquer this reluctance to ask for help?

The article discusses how a person's identity is closely linked to their wellness. They might find it hard to admit a need since this could dent their identity of themselves as a vibrant, healthy, human being. This requires changes in others rather than the helpers but to do this we need to normalise the asking for help such that it is part of what strong people do to know that they need help and can be vulnerable.

The article mentions that one of the key issues is being able to identify emotional distress in others and offer help. This focusses on the helpers who need to know their community, their church members and notice when someone isn't quite themselves at the moment. Of course this is too much for the small number of pastoral carers and therefore it requires the whole church/community to share in the togetherness of knowing each other and identifying those who are suffering.

Interestingly the article states that the main factors which help people in distress are not the major changes but the small ways that churches and pastoral carers are excellent at: warmth, acceptance and unconditional positive regard. This in itself is reassuring that people who ask for help do not need to be scared about what they might receive; the simple things have the greatest impact, we will not be scaring anyone who asks for help.

So can I conclude my ramblings, possibly not, but I am heartened to know that we can continue in our pastoral care developments, being open about what we offer, showing that we will be caring for those in our community and asking that people come forward in the surity that they are no weaker for doing so.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Tweeting at Church

Through twitter, thanks to @pgw71 and @CynthiaWare, I have discovered that tweeting in church services might become the norm. I know many people will read this with shock and disdain but as far as I'm concerned it can only be a good thing, and here's why.

1 - it brings communities together; those within a specific church, those from different churches and those within and outwith churches. if we can tweet our thoughts, feelings and learnings from inside our churches then it can start to break down the barriers both physically and psychologically.

2 - it might start debate; about sermons, format, impact, music, ways of worship and many things besides. if we are all open about what's going on for us inside our churches then the discussions can start and we can figure out what works and what doesn't. don't get me wrong, this isn't me meaning that we should hear the tweets and change church, no; I think it means we can be more aware of works for each of us individually on any specific subject or day, this can only help us all.

3 - for many people (I'm sure I can't be alone) they remember things which they act on and summarise for others; therefore tweeting sermons and thoughts might mean they have more sustainable impact in our memories.

4 - you can review your tweets after the service and reflect on what you heard and said, keep that worship experience alive longer.

5 - you can't drift off or fall asleep whilst you tweet!

I would love to hear what anyone else thinks about this subject and if you'd like to read more, here's the Time article and the article that led me to it digital sanctuary

I for one will be tempted to tweet in church no matter how many dirty looks I might get from those who think I'm just "messing about on my phone"

Update 14May09
Orlando Sentinel provides an article further looking at tweeting in church. Flocks in for a tweet.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Portfolio taking physical form

Of course nothing has changed in my knowledge or skills since 6pm but I have now produced a physical portfolio of both under each of the gifts and competencies required of an LLM. It has taken 3 hours and it has been worth every second.

I have a file (well two actually, one physical and one electronic) with each of the gifts and competencies in a separate section. Under each section I have a cover sheet (as required) and the details of the gift/competency.

Under two of the gifts and competencies I have actually provided information which I think might be valid.

Planning and Leading Worship
* Summaries of the sermons/talks I have given over the last 6 months - 12 in total with links to the written sermons, feedback and photos.
* Details of the lent service that I designed with someone else from church this year including the order of service, instructions, introductions, photos and feedback.

Pastoral Care
* details of the courses I have taken related to pastoral care and counselling
* summaries of the work I do in this field
* linkings between the specific gifts and competencies in this area and the courses I have taken, the experience I have and the essays I have written
I have been told that I am exempt from this gift/competency but I wanted to provide some information just in case this is disputed for any reason. It has also been useful because I now am happy in myself that I can accept my exemption if this is seen as appropriate.

It's been quite a Saturday evening but it's done now and I feel prepared for my meeting with my mentor on Wednesday; what I have any experience in is documented, the rest I will learn as I go.

blogging on the go

This should be possible to blog on the go from my iPhone but connections aren't always great and my typing degenerates so we will just see what happens, please bare with me.

We've had an amazing day today having all woken late and mosied on down tto mothers union may fayre in the sunshine we picked up some bargains and chatted to some of the lovely ladies. Again it brought to my consciousness this feeling I should accept the invite to join the MU - what to do? I don't need to add more time commitments to my life right now as I start my training but perhaps I am meant to join in with their good works; it's so confusing, must pray and take advisement!

This afternoon we've been tidying the garden and pulling weeds and then relaxing together in the sunshine, wonderful to have that well deserved family time. My hope now is to get a couple of hours done getting portfolio information together so the rest of the weekend can be all us as a family.

Right, let's see if this works

Friday, 1 May 2009

LLM Courses

I haven't posted about the courses I have to complete to become an LLM so here goes nothing.

The training is portfolio based thereby incorporating both knowledge and experience. There are 11 gifts and competencies which fit the needs of LLM ministry, each one has a list of skills which need to be demonstrated to become licensed. The mentor is provided to help evaluate where the LLM is against each gift and competency and develop the portfolio of evidence including theoretical work, courses, examples of ministry, reflections and feedback. At the end of training the mentor assesses the completed portfolio which is then moderated by the diocese before licensing.

LLM Gifts and Competencies:
Living the Christian Life - The Inward Journey
Living the Christian Life – Discovering God’s Call
Theological Reflection
Exercising Pastoral Care
Planning and Leading Worship
Planning and Leading Worship – Preaching
Developing knowledge of the story of the church
Developing and Applying Knowledge of the Bible
Interpreting Christian Doctrine
Engaging in Mission and Evangelism
Ministry in the Church - Being a Licensed Lay Minister

I have been told that my counselling courses exempt me from the Exercising Pastoral Care element although I might need to provide some proof for the portfolio; I will know more about this when I meet my mentor. The courses above in bold are the two I take this June.

Mentor and Essay

Well I have contacted my mentor and we are meeting for the first time next Wednesday. I hope to grab a couple of hours this weekend to get my LLM files in order and have an idea of how my previous training and experience could count. beyond that I will just take the meeting as it comes.

other good news is that Rachel had a nice long nap today (sleeping off side effects from her immunisations) and I managed to finish my last essay for the counselling course. of course I will tweak it in the coming weeks but it is down on paper, referenced, formatted and within word limit so if worse comes to the worst it could be submitted.

I have just realised that although I was hoping to keep the blog LLM focussed it is already drifting into other realms of my life. I would beat myself up about that but I think it actually makes sense because being an LLM is meant to be a role that goes alongside the rest of our life; anyone else like my rationalisation?

For those of you who don't know about it, there is a weekly electronic Diocese of Oxford Newsletter online here, you can get it emailed to you every week if you don't want to miss it.

And last word for today....happy may day.