Friday, 31 August 2012


1. Family time
2. Laughing with friends
3. Rachel's play dates
4. Chatting
5. Singing at the top of my voice
6. Dancing like a crazy (in private)
7. Reading for fun
8. Watching movies
9. Writing anything
10. Taking photos
11. Eating out
12. Cooking (for fun)
13. Walking in the countryside (flat)
14. Cycling downhill (not too steep)
15. Sleeping
16. Watching nature documentaries
17. Looking at old photos
18. Playing board games
19. Learning new stuff
20. Debating anything
21. Praying with others
22. Retreat days
23. Drawing
24. Collecting leaves
25. Stroking cats
26. Hugs
27. Pretending I'm not awake in the morning
28. Hippos
29. Travelling the world
30. Greek Islands
31. Taramasalata
32. Tsatsiki
33. Humous
34. Pitta Bread
35. Lardy Cake
36. Crumpets with butter and marmite
37. Cold nights and a warm coat
38. Silence (for short periods)
39. Art galleries
40. Museums
41. Baby toes
42. Baths in the dark
43. Swimming in the rain
44. Finishing a work out
45. Children's work
46. Playing the fool
47. Going to the theatre
48. Musicals
49. Professional Ballet Shows
50. Pantomimes (oh no I don't)
51. Cold drinking water
52. Home made ice lollies
53. Galaxy Minstrels
54. Cheese and Biscuits
55. Having my haircut
56. Sex
57. Summer evenings in the garden
58. Planning a holiday
59. Being on holiday
60. Coming home from holiday
61. Receiving letters from friends
62. Sending letters
63. Thinking
64. Facebook
65. Twitter
66. Reading blogs
67. Meeting online friends
68. Hearing from friends after ages
69. Old comfy shoes
70. Reminiscing
71. Charity work
72. Conkers
73. Bird spotting
74. Giraffes
75. Penguins
76. Writing to MPs
77. Monkeys trashing my car
78. Talking until 2am
79. Croissants and Hot Chocolate
80. Meeting interesting people
81. Big soft towels
82. New Bras
83. Live music
84. Camping with friends
85. Having the house to myself
86. Having the house full of people
87. Organising a party
88. The end of a party
89. Percussion
90. Oasis
91. Coldplay
92. The Killers
93. Muse
94. Ed Sheeran
95. Take That
96. Dali
97. Yoda
98. Dalai Lama
99. Jesus
100. God

This list is:
Not exhaustive
Not in any particular order
True at the moment it was written
A very strange window into my world

#365photoproject day 254

Title: guess where we are
Date: 31st August 2012
Location: that'd be telling :)

31st August 2012 Matthew 25:1-13

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’. “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’. “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’. “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’. “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’. “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

The theme of being ever ready and eager and watching in the waiting continues today. I like the idea of the oil; it speaks to me of being resourced in our faith so we keep going. This is where bible reading, prayer companions, home groups, churches, friends and spiritual directors come into play - be resourced.

Look and you will find

Ask and it will come to you;
Look and you will find;
Knock and the door will be opened.

Matthew 7:7

I was thinking about how I can help people find Jesus in their lives and ..... Bingo, Jesus Delivered.

Do you see it?
It was in the sky today for everyone.

I'm quoted about Miscarriage in The Church Times "Greenbelt: Talks"

What more can I say?
I was astounded enough to be invited to talk.
I was thrilled (and petrified) to have every chair full.
I was amazed and privileged to have unending questions.
And now I'm quoted in The Church Times edition for Greenbelt.

There's hope for all parents whose babies die; change will happen and you will be supported.

Thank you Greenbelt
Thank you Church Times
Thank you to everyone who cares

Greenbelt: Talks

Now let's pray that the Saying Goodbye services are as well publicised and valued so that everyone looking for support can find it.

#RememberMay @MakeAWishUK

Back in the summer of 2010 Make-A-Wish UK granted the wish of five year old May who was fighting a rare cancer called Rhabdomyosarcoma – she wished to be a princess for the day. Sadly May passed away just a couple of months after her wish, two years ago today, on 31st August 2010.

May’s family have been involved with Make-A-Wish ever since, raising as much money as they can to ensure that other families going through the same awful experience can have their wish. May’s Dad, Neil, has made this short video and would like as many people as possible to watch it and support Make-A-Wish:


It's only a minute or so long, so please watch the video if you have a moment to spare. And if you could share it with as many people as you can it would mean so much to Neil and his family. If you are able to make a donation too, to help grant a wish to another child like May, you can ‘Remember May’ at

I will be tweeting about Neil’s appeal today, why not join in with @MakeAWishUK using the hashtag #RememberMay.

If you'd like to share the campaign then use the following shortened link:

Your support in sharing this video really means a lot to Neil, and all the other families we work with so thank you.

Thursday, 30 August 2012


Obviously I'm a mum
A mum to one you see
But you might not know I'm also mum
to four others you can not meet

Obviously I'm a minister
I work in the church for you
But you might not know that doubts
were my life for a year or two

Obviously I'm open about depression
That I've lived with it for many years
But you might not know that often
Talking about it brings me to tears

Obviously I'm a blogger
I write about stuff in my life
But you might not know that sometimes
I worry that it'll cause me strife

Obviously is such an underused word
For everything we take as real
We need to look beyond what we see
And understand what people feel

#365photoproject day 253

Title: cousins on a train
Date: 30th August 2012
Location: Moors Valley Park

30th August 2012 Matthew 24:42-end

"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

I adore the story of Papa Panov which illustrates this lesson; the man invites in people who are hungry and poor and lonely and he helps them. Throughout it all he is waiting for Jesus and is sad Jesus doesn't arrive. Papa Panov teaches us how to wait for Jesus, how to treat our fellow man; and that Jesus is in that waiting.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

A baby died; it couldn't be worse

When talking about your loss
Your miscarriage, ectopic or still birth
Being clear is essential to make others know
That "A baby died; it couldn't be worse"

Don't go beating around the bush
To save other people's feelings
Your grief is real, hard and true
Whether old or in it's beginnings

Of course there are those times
When we don't have any energy to share
In that moment just hold on tight
To friends, please don't despair

Together we can make it
Through the dark days and nights
We can lean against each other
And our babies we'll always hold tight

This poem was written as part of the 100 word challenge for grown ups for the prompt .....being clear is essential to .... If you'd like to see the other entries then please visit Julia's Place blog.

If this poem has struck a chord abs you would like support or more information then please look at my other posts on miscarriage, visit Saying Goodbye or the Miscarriage Association or contact me directly or throw a comment. You are not alone.

29th August 2012 Matthew 24:1-12

Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ, ’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Can I pretend this reading hasn't come up? No; oh. Why do we have to think about "the end?".

I always thought this and similar passages were referring to the end of all time; but now I believe Jesus is talking about the end of His time. Read it again in that light and suddenly we see the truth of what happened.

#365photoproject day 252

Title: In a "cool" birthday present outfit
Date: 29th August 2012
Location: Red House Museum, Christchurch

28th August 2012 Matthew 23:23-26

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

Do not be greedy
Do not hold onto things you need not
Instead, be full of justice, mercy and faithfulness.

Whatever is in our hearts is what we are truly; if we aim for the best in the world then that will be what happens.

#365photoproject day 251

Title: hello sun
Date: 28th August 2012
Location: Barton on Sea

#365photoproject day 248

title: an archway to paradise
Date: 25th August 2012
Location: Greenbelt

Paralympic Games are Opening

20 events
Over 11 days
All tickets sold
You'll be amazed

There are more athletes
There are more sports
There are more spectators
There are more media reports

Trials of courage
Feats of endurance
Events with competitors
Who are super human

We can't wait to go
And see events of all sorts
From tennis and athletics
To archery and other sports

I pray that the athletes
Know that we're impressed
That we value them entirely
And want then to be valued and embraced

27th August 2012 Matthew 23:13-22

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are. “Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gift on it, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? Therefore, he who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And he who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. And he who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.

Jesus is clearly angry with the system of the temples, monetary requirements and sacrifices; you can feel it through his words.

We may feel far removed from this but in reality we're closer than we think. We worry about the church building, we focus on the money, we decide what's not possible rather than trusting God. Jesus would rant at us too.

Praying for New Orleans and all in the path of hurricane Isaac

We are sitting here watching the news as Hurricane Isaac batters New Orleans and the Gulf States of the USA. We have just heard that a sea wall has been breached and we are praying that all others stay firm.

We pray that all the communities stay safe, that all those in the path of the hurricane are unharmed and that those protecting the people are brave without putting themselves at risk.

Father be with them
Father protect them
Father guide them

26th August 2012 John 6:56-59

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.” He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

We come not because we have all faith but because we have some faith. We come knowing that by sharing communion we accept Jesus into ourselves and there he works on and through us.

What joy
What honour
What blessing
Thank you Lord

Elvis Presley's King Bible For Sale

I didn't know that Elvis Presley had a strong Christian Faith; but then to be honest I don't know much about the king of rock and roll apart from his music. So it made me smile when I saw the BBC news report today that Elvis Presley's KING James Bible is going up for auction next month. There's something special about the KING of Rick and Roll's KING James Bible.

Elvis owned this bible for 20 years and clearly read it all the time. It's beaten up and bent and marked up. It looks loved and carried around. It was obviously an important part of his life.

It makes me wonder why I am so careful with my bibles. I never write in them and I am precious about them. For me I think it's a mark of respect and how much I value them. In fact I feel enbarassed about my teenage bible is very much marked by my thoughts and feelings.

Yet I love seeing this bible of Elvis' with his markings and even his own quotation "To judge a man by his weakest link or deed is like judging the power of the ocean by one wave"

Perhaps I should consider having one bible with my thoughts written inside it. Not because I'm famous or anything; but it might be something which then feeds me through the years ahead as I read it.

What do you think?

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

#365photoproject day 247

Title: sleeps like a baby anywhere
date: 24th August 2012
Location: In a tent at Greenbelt

25th August 2012 Matthew 23:1-12

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. “Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi.’ “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Isn't it nice when the Sunday readings follow on from those of the week between. We are called, as leaders, to serve others and to lighten their load; we are called to act in the background and in the places where most don't go. We are called to focus on God and His desire for the world; rather than on the world and our desire for it.

It's hard; it's a challenge; but God is there to help us.

#365photoproject Day 250

Title: mud, mud, we've begun to love mud
Date: 27th August 2012
Location: Greenbelt

#365photoproject day 249

Title: all family smiling after Greenbelt communion - believe in miracles!!
Date: Sunday 26th August 2012
Location: Greenbelt Mainstage

24th August 2012 Luke 22:24-30

Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. You are those who have stood by me in my trials. And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Jesus is telling the disciples that they will be sitting in judgement; but he tells them that this judging is one of service and compassion and understanding. So we are called to lead through service and giving of ourselves; what a world we would live in if we all managed that.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Greenbelt Talk: Miscarriage; a baby does how do we mourn?

This weekend is... Greenbelt 2012; the arts, faith and justice festival with its roots in the Christian tradition.

I adore Greenbelt and am especially thrilled to have been invited to talk at this year's festival on a subject very close to my heart:

Miscarriage; a baby does how do we mourn?

At this one hour talk I will be:
- sharing my own experiences of miscarriage,
- overviewing the grief process and what families need after their baby died
- discussing the way churches can help families mourn
- sharing my experience of setting up a support group for families
- giving details of organisations who can provide information and support such as the Miscarriage Association and Babyloss
- providing details of the new Saying Goodbye remembrance services for which I am a Champion.

If you are at Greenbelt then I hope to see you there; if not, then feel free to contact me or download the audio of my talk directly from Greenbelt.

23rd August 2012 Matthew 22:1-14

The Parable of the Wedding Banquet
Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. “Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’. “But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend ?’ The man was speechless. “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’. “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

This parable is fantastic at the beginning; but the throwing out of someone from Heaven because they are wrongly clothed, what's that? Jesus was saying how all are invited to come and join the kingdom of heaven on earth; how background makes no difference. But there's also something about being clothed with our faith; taking it on board and really changing.

#365photoproject day 246

Title: A new skill for being 7: Bike Riding
Date: 23rd August 2012
Location: the park

#366photoproject day 245

Title: 7th birthday girl
Date: 22nd August 2012
Location: home

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

My Greenbelt Five

Greenbelt have been asking people for My Greenbelt Five – five things at this year’s Greenbelt that they’re excited about. I thought it'd be crazy to try and get it down to five, but here are five I definitely won't be missing.

1. Small talks, Big ideas
I'm looking forward to all of them but especially the set at 13.50 on Monday entitled "Including" with the following talks Who are you online? (Andrew Graystone), Me, myself, we (Alom Shaha), How to pray online (Pam Smith), Church of the latter day gamers (Andy Robertson) and The cross (Peter Graystone)

2. Worship Pageant
How can you go wrong with an event with the words worship and pageant in the same name? There's Blessed, Messy Church, Psalm Drummers, Dream and Movement in Worship - wow! We'll be starting at Messy Church and then exploring everything there is.

3. Wired Worship and Virtual Virtues
The fabulous Vicky Beeching is talking on how the internet and social media reflects our spirituality and how and what Jesus tweets? Right up my broadband stream.

4. Circle of Tales: a myth from Africa
This is a choice for Rachel which I know ill I'll love and learn lots from. There are puppets, live music and fabulous storytelling.

5. The Proclaimers
There's nothing like embarrassing the kids by dancing along to music from your youth; watch out kids!!

I'm going to be cheeky now and add in another which I'd see if I could somehow be in two places at once, talking in one and listening in another. What happens when you pray at Saturday at 10.30 in the Big Top; it looks like it'll be amazing and I'll be downloading it to listen to at home.

That's my Greenbelt five right now; I'll post my Greenbelt fifty after the weekend.

22nd August 2012 Matthew 20:1-16

The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard. “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. “He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’. “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered. “He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’. “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’. “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’. “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’. “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

I am thinking about how I can get in a really negative cycle of comparing myself to others and feeling less than. It's a very common trait of a recovering overeater. Today God is telling me that we are all valued by Him no matter what. Thank you God.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

#365photoproject day 244

Title: She loves me
Date: 21st August 2012
Location: home

It's Greenbelt Time

I've spent a lot of hours over the last week pouring over the Greenbelt App and I now have 69 talks, musical sets, comedy performances and kids sessions favourited. That's 69 hours of things I'd like to see, hear and experience; and it doesn't include my own talk.

Those good at maths have realised that this is clearly impossible; correct. I face at least 2 clashes all the time; which could be examined by the fact that I'm coming as me and also as Rachel's responsible adult. But it is mainly down to the fact that the Greenbelt 2012 programme is stonkingly amazingly overwhelming fantabulous.

How did we ever cope before there were Apps released before Greenbelt? How did we know what we were going to see, when and where?

One thing's for sure; we probably took the whole festival much more gently. And yes, of course we left at the end of weekend having missed some stuff; but that still happens now, as well as at the beginning.

So how will I cope with these clashes?
I have a few simple rules:
1. Talks can always be downloaded afterwards - that removes some
2. Rachel needs to enjoy herself so kids things have to make up about half of each day
3. Greenbelt is as much about spending time with friends as anything else - I let that lead me
4. Folk On MUST be seen :)

And finally. What's happened to Tickling in Public? That was always our other must-see.

Five things I didnt expect about motherhood #listablelife

Since today is the eve of Rachel's 7th Birthday it seems only right and proper to join in with this week's listable life Five things I didnt expect about motherhood. It's worth noting that this list could also be named The five biggest surprises of the last seven years.

1. Love love love
I honestly didn't realise that I would love Rachel so absolutely massively and completely. I loved her before she was born, but when I first held her it was like a lightning bolt of unconditional love. I didn't really "see" her for the first day; I just loved her. I say holding her in my arms just marvelling at her and soaking her up. Never have I felt anything so intense and joyful. (Almost) Seven years on the love I have for her is even bigger; I love everything that makes her her. I would do anything for her and when I'm away from her I miss her so much. She is the centre of my universe, a part of Mike and I; and I love love love her.

2. Heartbreak
I didn't expect the heartbreak which comes with motherhood. I didnt realise that my heart would break every time she cried as a baby. I never thought that I could feel someone else's pain. I had no idea that being apart from her for even an hour would hurt so much. And that was all in the first week. Now the heartbreak I suffer is around her friendship ups and downs, her disappointments and her upsets; my heart breaks for her and it's worse than my own heartbreaking ever was.

3. Hilarity
I hoped that there would be laughter and joy, but I realise how funny Rachel would be, especially when she was breaking the rules. I never thought I'd laugh myself funny at her toddler tantrums. I didn't think I'd giggle for ages over being raspberries by tomato purée. I thought I'd be good at being firm; but usually I'm desperately trying to another a grin. Kids are hilarious and Rachel makes me laugh ever day; often by accident.

4. Friendships
I hoped that I would find people I liked who had kids a similar age to Rachel; but I didn't expect to make the greatest friends I could wish for. My life is more full of friends than its ever been and I love it. I also didn't realise how my existing friendships would change; life gets very full and tricky to organise when kids arrive and I miss those friends I see only occasionally. It's a life change entirely becoming a mum and friendships are a part of that.

5. Contentment
I never said I wanted to be a mum as a child; in fact I was into my twenties before I ever thought it might be a good idea. I didn't expect to be a good mum; I thought it would be a hard thing for me to do. I clearly underestimated the power of counselling. In reality it's what gives me the most contentment in life. Mothering Rachel always feels instinctive and fun; I know I get it wrong all the time, but it doesn't stress me too much. I never expected such contentment.

It has been a joy to spend an hour remembering and cherishing the last seven years of motherhood; I hope you enjoyed reading with me.

Remembering Grandad

No doubt you've seen these humorous images doing the rounds of Facebook of perhaps you've seen them on cards in shops, or been sent one. Today this one was posted by a friend and it reminded by of my maternal grandad.

There is a family tale from way before my time, in fact the tale's a vague memory from my childhood, about grandad and his solution for reading words he didn't know. He wouldn't struggle over the word or try to sound it out; he wouldn't look at the context and try to figure it out; no, he'd quite simply replace the word he didn't know with wheelbarrow.

Can you imagine?
Once upon a time there was a girl called wheelbarrow who lived in a castle with her wheelbarrow step sisters. She wore rags and had to clean and wheelbarrow all day long. One day her fairy wheelbarrow visited her and turned her into a wheelbarrow so she could go to the ball....
You get the idea.

It's been a lovely reminder of the man who I only have a few memories of; the other being him tinkering in the garage with his model boats.

What's your favourite memory of one of your grandads?

21st August 2012 Matthew 19:23-end

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”. When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”. Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”. Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”. Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

All is possible by God, even that which is impossible by man. When we find ourselves at the end of what we believe is impossible, that is when we find God. But why is it we usually wait until then to turn to Him for help? We can ask anytime and give ourselves to Him.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Stairway to Heaven

Over the last four weeks the Church of England lectionary for Sunday services has given us the Gospel according to John chapter 6. For those of you that don't immediately recall what that includes let me provide a summary.

Jesus feeds the 5000 on the hillside by miraculously turning a few loaves and fish into enough to fill everyone's stomachs.

The people follow Jesus looking for more food and He tells them that they're searching for the wrong thing; that don't need actual food, they need Jesus as a food for the soul.

The religious leaders can't believe that Jesus is comparing himself to the Manna Moses provided in the wilderness; Jesus put them right and told them that He is the true food from God that lasts eternally.

Jesus refers to himself as God and as the Bread of Life; he is telling the people that he is their sustenance, their everything; their food for ever. Jesus is the bread of life to be digested by us to give us energy for life.

Over the weeks that I've been living with, researching and preaching on these teachings I have come across two photos that have spoken to me. You may well wonder why these pictures have come to relate to the passages for me, me too at first; but then I realised that they are like stairways to heaven.

One is a staircase which leads to a circle of light. It speaks to me about the endless journey towards salvation and heaven and happiness which many people wrongly feel is their task as a Christian.

The other is the memorial to the twin towers which shows the connection of light and love directly from earth to heaven and back again. This is the faith I know to be real; the living of heaven on earth now because Jesus came as our bread of life and died to save us for all evil.

Are we on a stairway to heaven?
Yes, but it's not a stairway we have to suffer; it's a stairway that brings heaven within our reach from the first step.


Post Script
Almost as soon as I posted I found a third photo which just adds to this.
See the few easy steps into the light? That's heaven, right here on earth for us all.

Lets encourage children to play outside

BBC south today and the Bournemouth Echo have reported the most bizarre news story. A Dorset Montessori Pre-school has been banned by their council, and a government inquiry, from allowing the children to play or learn outside for more than 2 hours a day. I was gob-smacked and wanted to know what it was all about; here's what I found.

- the preschool nursery is in a converted house in a residential area
- the local residents have complained about the noise nuisance that the children create
- the preschool obtained funding and permissions to build an outdoor classroom
- the preschool would like to have learning opportunities outside in small groups; the free-play time wouldn't increase
- the majority of commenters on both the newspaper and news websites feel that the preschool should have the children inside

What is society coming to?
People used to be pleased to see kids outside and revelled in the sheer joy of childhood.

Since when was the noise of children playing a nuisance?
It always brings a smile to my face; it's the sound of hope and life and happiness.

Why aren't we encouraging children to play outside?
Society likes to critics parents for relying on the TV and computer games to entertain their kids; yet when kids do play outside its too noisy. This is not going to encourage parents to change things.

Is it a mere matter of time until we are chastised by our neighbours for the noise of kids playing in our own gardens?
This summer Rachel has played in the garden at least three hours each day; and sometimes we've been outside all day. It's not been overly noisy but it's been effervescent and energetic with sounds produced. That's the sound of family fun. I hope the neighbours like it. I like to hear their families, especially when they're with Rachel.

Let's encourage children to play outside; at home, at nursery, at preschool and at school; it's good for them and great for society to see that kids matter.

I have to end it there; Rachel wants to play out on her bike.

20th August 2012 Matthew 19:16-22

The Rich and the Kingdom of God
Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life ?”. “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”. “Which ones?” he inquired. Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honour your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”. “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”. Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”. When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Jesus tells us to follow the commandments; most of us can manage that most days.

Then Jesus tells us to sell and give away everything earthly that we own and to rely on him, knowing that he will provide now and always. How does that feel? It's hard to hear and harder to do and yet that's what Jesus asks of us. How do we respond? I wish I knew; I pray I do enough.

#365photoproject day 243

Title: we love our loveys
Date: 20th August 2012
Location: on our beds

19th August 2012 John 6:51-58

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”. Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”. Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”

And so we reach the 4th week of preaching on the bread of life. It concludes with the digesting of Jesus and all that he is with us and for us. John calls us to eat Jesus; to munch and chew on Jesus and take him deep down into ourselves.

I still need to write out my sermons from the last two weeks on the subject and also on this; soon, I promise.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Saturday, 18 August 2012

#100wcgu legacy

Legacy, that is the brand new "in" word
All about London2012 and from it what will remain;
It's focused on buildings, infrastructure and stuff
Rather than on what our society will gain

Where are the thoughts for the ones so in need?
Those without work, pride or health?
If this was the focus then legacy would
Be worth all the time, energy and wealth.

Do not get me wrong, I approve of the plans
For housing and schools and green space
But I'd like to see within it some social reform
For those who's lives can't ever keep pace

This was written as part of the 100 word challenge for grown ups. For more entries please visit Julia's Place.