Monday, 26 December 2011

Waiting over

Christmas Day has come- we've had the children's crib service- which went amazingly smoothly to say we had 15 children sat round the crib and readers aged from 3yrs upwards. Theo we had a candlelit midnight mass. I think this has to be my favourite service of the whole year as we welcome the birth of our new King. Then after far too short a time in bed we had this morning's family communion. I'm well aware that compared to my ordained friends I got off lightly, I served but had no leading role so was able to relax and enjoy the worship. Now I'm able to have a few days rest- and a visit to my mum with my sons.
The waiting is also over with regard to my curacy. I have been invited to serve my title post as assistant curate to the Wirksworth Team Ministry. This is a part of Derbyshire I know very well having lived there 30 years ago and I'm really looking forward to returning. I'll be quite near to my eldest son, who has just told me that come August I'll be a grand mother! I have 4 step grand daughters but this has felt very different. So soon it will be 2012 and we start the waiting for the end of college and ordination.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011


So here we are, Advent has started and we are waiting. Waiting for the second coming of our Lord, waiting for Christmas and the birth of our Saviour, waiting for the end of term, waiting to see family again, waiting to hear more about curacy. The sermon on Sunday morning given by my friend the other sacristan, talked about NOT being busy because Jesus is coming. He suggested taking time to prepare, time to be silent, time to wait on God and listen to Him as we prepare for Christmas. I would love to take a couple of days for a silent retreat but can't see it happening anytime soon.
However I will be spending a few days up north, seeing my curacy again, spending a day with other Ordinands and the Bishop, enjoying company of friends and family and then back to college to write the rest of my last portfolio and starting the reading for my dissertation. then once Christmas is over I shall return to Lancashire with two of my sons to visit my mum. All great fun.
When we return to college in January we have just 5 months before we leave and begin the next stage of this wonderful journey. Yikes 5 months- will I really be ready!! Well after all the waiting to get here I trust that God will have done the work He wanted in me and that I will be ready to let Him take me on to the next stage. I will never be ready to go it on my own. That is one of the things I become more and more aware of, the deep need I have to rely on God and let his Holy Spirit lead me.

Friday, 25 November 2011


It's been a while since I posted partly through a rather busy life. I've also been trying to complete my next portfolio and still have some way to go on it. However reading a friends blog she talks about thankfulness.and it made me think about what I have to be thankful for. This is particularly important for me at the moment as college life isn't easy and it is so easy to slip into negativity and forget all the wonderful things God has done for me. So here goes with a few things I have to be thankful for:
A wonderful husband
Living in a beautiful place and being on the 4th floor having spectacular sunsets to watch
The friendships both here at college and around the world
Three wonderful sons, and two lovely step-daughters and 4 grand children
A very supportive mother who is always ready to listen
Two great sisters
What looks likely to be just the right curacy for me
Good health
God's love which is expressed in all the above
And much much more
Now to go and enjoy some more

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Called to be Incarnate

One of the questions asked of anyone considering ordained ministry is - why must you be ordained to serve God'? A good question and one which each ordinand has struggles with. My own answer had in it an element of wanting to bring God to the people and the people to God and therefore an element of called to be incarnate- as Jesus was God incarnate. Today I have read the following quote on a blog I had just started reading
' God calls us to follow and journey, but He also asks us to settle and be incarnate in the community we are and to show them His presence'It really made me stop and think. I believe I am called to be incarnate as a curate and a vicar but have I really taken on board what it means to be incarnate amongst the people I now live wit? Am I truly trying to be Jesus to the college Community? If we all were truly living out that calling here at college would college look any different to how it does today? K my husband often moans about what he sees as unchristian attitudes among other ordinands. I'm not going to comment on that. Rather I am going to reflect and pray that I would truly be what God has called me to be amongst this community for the remaining months. Its not something I should be thinking I will take up once I'm in curacy!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011


College life for the past week has been busy ( So what's new?!)
Our group was responsible for leading worship over last week and then today I was responsible for planning and leading the mornings Group worship. On Friday evening I planned and led a Service of the Word- an alternative to our college regular pattern of Common Worship or BCP evening prayer. The idea is to plan a service which would be pretty standard in an average parish church that didn't use straight evening prayer. I really enjoyed the challenge, and in fact used a standard structure from evening prayer but used modern songs and hymns rather than plain song and canticles. The comments I have received back have been positive which is always encouraging.
Then this morning I planned an act of worship for the group around Isaiah 6, using an interactive reading of the scripture and then various stations around the room to encourage people to reflect and pray on the reading. Again I really enjoyed the experience of planning this worship. In fact I know that the opportunity to plan and lead worship is something that makes me feel alive and fulfilled in a way that writing essays- however much I may be interested in the topic - doesn't. I'm having to sit hard on my patience as I wait for the time when I shall have finished college and be out living the life I feel called to.
In the meantime -back to that essay!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

A quiet interlude!

Normally yesterday would have been the first quiet day of the term. Last year that involved total silence around the college buildings from compline on Tuesday evening until 8.30am on Thursday. However this term due to other events in college the day became condensed. We met for compline on Tuesday evening and then a talk from +Michael, followed by silence. Wednesday we were in silence from waking and had morning prayer followed by +Michael's second talk then a couple of hours for reflection followed by silent lunch, service in the middle of the day and third talk by +Michael. Then just an hour later the bell went for the end of silence and we collected outside near the new building s for the blessing of the stones. This was a celebration of the college and the new building work. From that those of us in the choir or altar party went to church for rehearsals. This was followed at 5.15pm with a Service for All Souls.
The quiet day retreats are never easy in college but this last one has been anything but retreat like. We seemed to rush from one place to another not just physically but spiritually without time to reflect and absorb what we had heard. The change as well from quiet reflection, to celebration and back to the reflective requiem style service left us all a little disorientated.
Our thoughts have been fed back - and I do appreciate that it was an unusual combination of events that wouldn't normally happen. It reminded us all that when working in parishes we need to carry a single thought through a service.
After all that I am shattered and wishing it was half term this weekend and that I had been sensible and booked a few days away instead of staying in college and doing placement on Sunday.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

A glimpse of the future

Today was one of those days when I got a glimpse of what my future Sundays may look like. I feel called to rural ministry and in our modern church that means not just a single parish to look after but a number of parishes forming a benefice. My Sunday placement this year is a benefice of 3 churches all within 3 miles of each other. This morning I set up at the village parish church where the college is but didn't have top serve as it was a songs of praise service. The service finished at 10.40am and then it was a quick tidy up and putting things away before driving up to a second church where I was preaching. I arrived just as the clock struck for the 11am service. I was greeted by the Vicar asking me read the Gospel and to also do the intercessions and to serve at the Eucharist. Intercessions the only unexpected in that lot. Home form church for lunch and then out again at 3pm ready for a Service of Light to remember those that have died in the cluster of churches over the last 3 years. The church was packed- far more than I've seen at any other service in the cluster unless the whole student body is in the congregation.
It certainly spoke to me of the need for the church to offer this service and the pastoral needs it meets.
Home now and relaxing for the evening before back to essays tomorrow! Oh and I have an evening prayer service to prepare, a service of the word for next Friday evening and a morning worship to put together for the following Wednesday. I love this practical preparation for worship now and learning for the future.
Things are also progressing slowly with my curacy.

Sunday, 23 October 2011


Time has passed quickly with essays to write and the normal life of college. Slowly we are being reshaped as a community with the new ordinands becoming very much part of the fellowship here. It's strange but this year I seem to need space more and so spend less time in the college environs even though I chose this college partly so as to be living on site! It has also been good over the last few weeks to welcome back for visits those who left last year and to hear their stories of curacy.
Its been a strange few weeks as I prepared to go north to look at a curacy- the visit was last week and then I spent the day in York on the Saturday while K attended an AGM. The opportunity to take communion in the Minster was wonderful but the crowds round York made me feel hemmed in and lack of open churches made it difficult to find the space I needed.
As far as the curacy is concerned it all looks positive and I shall be making a return visit in December. Some time after that I shall hopefully be able to say more about it.
In the meantime I am continuing as sacristan here at Cuddesdon and also doing placement duties at two other churches in the cluster. As a result I attended an Emmaus course on Thursday evening- rather an odd one as all those attended had been christian for a number of years so we were looking at Augustines definition of sin alongside Kant and Schleirmicher (?Spelling) The others seemed to enjoy it though I missed having any real biblical study. that said it was good to be back in a small group situation. This morning I led morning service of the word at one of the churches. I had only worshipped there once before and on that occasion it had been a family service so I was caught out occasionally where they did things slightly differently to what was printed. but at the end my placement supervisor said I did well so its one more learning experience! Next week I'm preaching there- subject All Saints!
In the meantime I shall continue with writing my essay on how grandparents can pass on their faith and look at my dissertation on the use of the church building in mission to Tourists. Oh and its half term at the end of the week- we get 1 and half days off so I'm off to see my youngest son.
Then we have a quiet day when we return so perhaps I'll get some of the space I need then!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Getting on with it

College normal time table resumed this week and I spent most of the week preparing and then giving my presentation on my summer placement. I was amazed at how difficult I found it- I used to be a teacher so giving presentations wouldn't be a problem. The delivering the presentation went fine but I'd struggled to know at what depth I should theologically reflect. Anyway its out of the way now and with just 4 lectures a week for this term I should be able to get on with my final portfolio and dissertation.
This week sees the journey north for curacy interview. However this weekend has thrown up some spanners in the works. I'm not in a position to share that at the moment but would really appreciate prayer that I would truly know God's will and peace at this difficult time.
Thanks in anticipation :)

Friday, 30 September 2011

Morning reflection

This morning I led the daily office, which as it was Friday included a short reflection followed by 3 minutes of silence. Here is the reflection.
It was a misty morning in in November as we began to climb. The path was well marked but the thick mist prevented us seeing more than a few feet further on. Up we went, pausing to catch our breath and rest aching muscles. There was a well-marked path but every so often we would have to divert raound a boulder, leap a small stream, and scramble through low-lying shrubs. The further we went the steeper it got, the more energy was needed and still the mist prevented us from seeing our goal. Up, up and up we went. Then suddenly we were out of the cloud and into a new world. We were right at the summit of Snowden. The sun shone from behind us and we were looking down on to the clouds where we could see our shadows dancing. It was an amazing moment of joy and exhileration! That was 36 years ago but the memory lingers.
The journey here to college for many of us has been like that mountain climb. Our way has been shrouded in fog and mist of uncertainty. We have had to take diversions, there have been stops and starts and the summit still hasn't been reached. For those on the first year it's a strange new world, a world at times without a sure path to follow. Fior those of us returniong we have the uncertainty of curacies and the changing landscpae of the college community.
For most of my life my favourite musical has been the Sound of Music- more mountains! In that musical the song which has spoken most to me is Climb every Mountain which tells us:
Climb every mountain, search high and low,
Follow every by'way, every path you know
Climb every mountain, ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow, 'til you find your dream.

A dream that will need
all the love you can give
Every day of your life
for as long as you live.

Why are we here? Not for a mad cap idea of our own, but because we are following a dream, a god given vision.
What are the mountains that you are climbing?
What rainbows are you following?

the love of God will keep you going on to the summit where you will feel and see the light of God shining on you. The light of God will cast shadows back for those who will be following on behind.

Before the daily office started I had sat in silence in Chapel and though about and prayed for those who were at college with us last year. they have cast a long shadow and I'm grateful to God for their input into my life.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

All Change

College has started again and its all change. We have welcomed 38 new students along with spouses ( should that be spice??) and children. That's 10 more ordinands than in the combined 2nd and 3rd years and as a result it feels very overwhelming! I started to reflect about small churches who are suddenly inundated with new families. It may be what we have prayed for and worked for but when they arrive it can be very daunting. There's a sense of wanting to return to the safety of what we knew before and to stick with our friends where we feel known and understood.
At the same time with a new Director of Worship there have been slight changes to the way we do some of the services. They are only slight changes but there is still a feeling of uncertainty and wanting to hang on to the old. Funnily enough the change that seems hardest to adapt to is really slight. Cuddesdon has grown a tradition of not leaving the worship space until the candles on the altar are extinguished. As this comes after the dismissal of Go in peace to love and serve the Lord: it is liturgically correct to be able to leave as soon as we wish but most of us are waiting for the candles to be snuffed before leaving as we are more comfortable with it. Again this raises issues for me of how we introduce change into congregations, our reasons for doing so and how we actually implement the changes. I think I've suddenly taken a huge leap in understanding and sympathy for those who say "but we've always done it that way!!"

Friday, 23 September 2011


Thank you to all who have prayed. This morning I received an email containing the details of a parish profile to look at. I'm now awaiting a call back from the vicar to arrange a meeting. The profile is for the benefice I had told the Bishop was the type I really wanted to train in so is really thrilling.
In the meantime college has started and the place is swarming with new students- we seem really full this year. We had our welcoming service last night which was a very positive and uplifting experience, particularly for T and I as church sacristans responsible for making sure everything was done decently and in order.
On another front today is our fifth wedding anniversary. It seems like a lifetime and at the same time only yesterday since I married my wonderful H. He has been the most brilliant support over the last five years and has willingly followed me as I moved from Derbyshire to Devon to Oxfordshire in order to follow the dream God gave me. Thank you God for giving me such a treasure as a husband.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011


Thank you to those who have commented to let me know you are praying- I do appreciate it from both those who know me in person and those who are blog friends. It is good to have our circle of Christian brothers and sisters enlarged by the blogosphere!
I had a meeting with my Principal here at college this morning and on his advice have emailed the Bishop a chatty email re-iterating my willingness to return to my home diocese or to be released. So now awaiting a reply. The Principal was lovely and very affirming and encouraging.
Meanwhile now that is done I have felt more able to get my head around the essay I'm endeavouring to finish before Thursday.

Sunday, 18 September 2011


Well we are back from a lovely weeks holiday in Wales. Despite the weather forecast of hurricane winds and rain we actually managed good weather most days. I did enjoy walking along the shore on the days when the wind blew strongly and the waves crashed near by, but the sun also shone. We explored lots of west Wales, some parts I had visited in the dim and distant past and some were new to me. All were new to K.

I went away still waiting for news about curacy so just put it out of my mind as I knew there was nothing I could do for the week. We arrived back on Friday and I was disappointed not to have a letter. MY DDO in the middle of August said the letters of invitation were to go out at the beginning of September. As it was now the middle of September I had hoped to have heard something. I had email contact with the Rector who has mentored me through the whole discernment process and who had asked me to let him know as soon as I heard anything about curacy. He was very surprised that I hadn't heard anything as his church have been having discussions with a prospective curate for 6 weeks. Same diocese so why the difference? It felt like a kick in the stomach. I have spent 7 years with this diocese being given wrong information and seeming to be pushed to the bottom of any information lists being sent out. I love the diocese and the people, and also am grateful to the very pastoral Bishop who has always been very positive and helpful to me, but feel frustrated with others in the diocese. Not surprisingly my husband wants me to settle on the idea of being released, but doesn't I think understand that I have to wait for the diocese to offer me something or release me, I can;t just go off on my own. Tomorrow I must decide whether to phone the Bishop, the DDO or to wait and see what happens by the end of the week. I shall also see if I can get an interview with the principal of the college and see what advice he has.
However one thing I'm determined is not to let this get in the way of my relationship with God and my desire to serve Him. Its all about Him at the end of the day not me!
One other frustration, Blogger won't let me blog on others blogs or respond to comments on here. So Lankyanglican if you are reading, I just wanted to say how much I empathise with your situation over waiting for news of curacy- I would have commented but it wouldn't let me!!

Friday, 2 September 2011


This last week K has been away and I've stayed in Cuddesdon working on essays. One of the lovely things for me this week was the growing sense of community amongst both those ordinands like myself who have been here for at least a year and those who have just moved into their flats and are finding their way. We have a weekly Dunk- coffee morning where we all gather and try to learn about each other. The children play out on the climbing frame and enjoy the cakes, the adults chat and make connections. Alongside this there are informal gatherings for walks, treasure hunts and pub expedition. I've also enjoyed sharing fellowship and coffee with a couple of ordinands in my flat and visited others for coffee.
One of the sad parts of community though is when people leave. While we said goodbye to a number in June the sadness was tinged with joy as we knew they moving on to their calling to ordained ministry and we rejoiced in their next step. However, one family have made the difficult decision that this life is not for them at this time and moved out earlier this week. There were many tears as we said goodbye and prayed for them, knowing that for them the future at this stage is an unknown. There was a real sense of bereavement and mourning in college that day.
On a lighter note K is home again having thoroughly enjoyed his week w=away sailing and next week we are off on holiday. In the meantime I have had to dump 2000 words of an essay I had written when I had it confirmed by my tutor that I'd gone to much down a wrong direction and now I've done all the reading and note taking and am ready to rewrite the essay. My plan had been to have 2 handed in before holiday- I'll do well if I manage to get the one in!
One final joy, numbers at morning prayer are up this week- from a low on Monday of one- me- to 17 yesterday! I know that when I pray on my own I'm joining with all those other Christians around the world praying the morning office at that time- but it does make it a more joyful time when we are gathered in body as well as spirit. And the singing is better as well!!

Friday, 26 August 2011

A Hymn for all seasons

Travelling back from seeing two of my boys on the south coast I started to think about how my life can be expressed in the hymns I have sung. At each stage of my life a hymn has become a favourite and has had something very special from God in it. It seems that God speaks to me through hymns and sung worship almost as much as through His word in the Bible.
As a young child I went weekly to Sunday School and was always thrilled when invited to choose a hymn to sing. My favourite was Hold the Fort for I am coming ( probably because the tune seemed livelier to me than many other of the hymns we sang. However the central message of the hymn, to be patient and persevere is a message that has stuck with me throughout my life. Then as I became a teenager I sang in the church choir. We sang many hymns and sacred music but the one that came to be very special to me at that time was Thou didst leave thy throne, and thy kingly crown (// There was strong and strange yearning in my heart as I knelt and sang "O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee." But it would be ac ouple of years before I understood what the words meant and what relevance they had to my own life. then as a 17 year old I attended a friends baptism. I had for a few months been talking to friends about what it meant to be a Christian and had written a letter to a friend at uni the day before in which i told him that I knew I wasn't a christian but didn't understand what I needed to do to become one- one of the problems being a deep sense of not being good enough. then at my friends baptism the preacher spoke about how non of us are good enough to come to god and we can only be made clean by what Jesus did. It was one of those occasions when it seems the preacher was speaking only to me. At the end of the sermon there was an altar call and I responded. not caring what school friends might think of me. As I went forward the congregation sang what was anew hymn to me but one which became and remains very special- And can it be? ( As they sang " I rose went forth and followed thee, I made a declaration that I would always follow Jesus. It was a decision I have never regretted and has led 34 years later to where I am now. For years that hymn would be sung at special events and each time I'm back in that baptist church handing my life back to God.
A year later I went to college to train to teach and learnt many new songs but for a long time And can it be remained my special hymn. Then as I married and started to raise my children a new one became extremely imnportanr to me- Great is thy faithfulness. ( This hymn spoke so often to me of the love and faithfulness of God as I struggled particularly when my first husband left me. The words became my prayer especially the last verse-
3.Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside! I knew trhe strength of God in every situation and He kept me close to His side through all the pain and struggles.
Then cam the day when I felt God calling me to ordained ministry. I'd wanted to serve God all my life and always served in the church where ever I could but this was something else. As I prayed in the morning service the Rector prayed for God to call men and women to serve Him as ordained priests. Something began to grow in my heart that morning, a desire to say yes and do what ever God wanted me to do. As the day went on I became more and more excited at the prospect and more and more daunted as I thought about what it would mean as a divorcee with thee boys at home. That evening in church we sang what to me was a new hymn-
( The rector invited us to remain sitting as we sang it until we felt we could say yes to the questions being asked. I was soon on my feet saying yes God, I'll follow you and do all that you are asking me to. I loved the last verse, Lord, your summons echoes true
when you but call my name.
Let me turn and follow you
and never be the same.
In your company I’II go
where your love and footsteps show.
Thus I’II move and live and grow
in you and you in me.
Not long after I also learnt the song
I the Lord of Sea and Sky- with its refrain which I didn't realise until a week ago actually says Is it I Lord?- I sang it as It is I Lord. I never wanted to question what God wanted me to do. ( These two hymns were my prayers as I journeyed along the road to selection conference and on to theological college.
And now - in a place where we sing at least 3 hymns a day and where we are encouraged not to choose a hymn that has been sung in the term already- I have sung many songs and began to wonder which one means most to me at this time. Obviously many of those I have already mentioned are sung regularly and are still very meaningful. But the one that seems to resonate most with me at the moment is Lord for the years.( Perhaps because more than anything I am so grateful to God for the way he has led me and held me through so much. It speaks of just where my heart is at this time.
As I have written this post I have played the hymns on the computer and loved everyone all over again. It has been wonderful to remember how much God means to me in the music His people have written to express their own praise.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Having an audience

I have a friend who blogs wonderful conversations with God. She may not realise how wonderful they are but they touch me every time I read them. I struggle to know what to write sometimes- though I want to blog regularly if only to be able to read back and see how far I've come in a year. I struggle I think because I'm not always sure who I'm writing to or for. Yes its for me- but is it also for those who read. One of my intentions when I started the blog was to hope it would help others as a couple of blogs helped me when I was on the journey to BAP and theological college. My friends audience is God- she writes how she is feeling and what she wants to say to God- as a result their is a consistency and authenticity in what she writes. I'm sure that my own blogs don't have that- but does it matter. If its only really for me to look back on then I'm the audience and so what I say is just for me- or is that a selfish way of looking at blogging. In some ways I don't suppose it matters but it got me thinking this morning.
On a different note I had an email yesterday to reassure me that the offers of title posts won;t be sent out until September so now I can sit back and not worry whether the postman has been or not. Though I'm still longing to receive the letter I'm no longer worrying about when it will come.
Yesterday I took a day off from essay thoughts and writing and went for a day our with my husband to Cirencester. We had a lovely day just wandering around the town and through a park. The park had me thinking as there was a very long straight path which we walked along. We couldn't see what was at the end, and didn't know where any of the side paths might lead to. There were no sign posts and it was all new to us. WE got a way along the path having walked up hill for a while and still the path stretched on- with the gates due to be locked at 5pm and aching feet, we decided to turn back. Unless we go again we'll never know what is at the end of the path or how far it is. This journey has been a lot like that walk. I've never been sure what will be at the end of it, I've seen paths off to the side- even had to take a few, but never known what they would bring, and at times have wanted to turn back without reaching the end. however something ( someone- God?) has kept me going kept me coming back to the main path and kept me walking to the end. I'm not there yet, still don't know what will be there when I get there but God is in control and I'll keep on going.
now time to go back and write some more essays!

Friday, 19 August 2011


Life is beginning to pick up again around the college although we have a month before term starts. With so many new people arriving we are having to reform as a new community. New friendships are being made and strangers are becoming familiar faces around the buildings. This is made all the stranger as a number of people have gone away for the summer and won't be back until the middle of September. I am enjoying deepening friendships with some of the ordinands who were here with me last year and also starting to get to know those who are joining us. Before i went away for my summer placement someone commented that you are only ever 3 Christians away from someone you know. I found that to be true while on placement and am finding it to be equally true now I'm meeting up with new ordinands. the Christian world is a small world and we all feel like brothers and sisters when we meet which is wonderful. I'm looking forward this evening to playing host to a couple from downstairs. the husband is church sacristan with me and we both did rural summer placements so we have a lot to catch up on. Off now to make the meal ! :)

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Moving in

As I sit typing a new neighbour is moving into the flat in the next block. She isn't the first- two other couples moved into my block last week. This time last year I was preparing to move, preparing for a whole change of life. Today I watch others making that move and reflect on how my life has changed. I've spent the last two days closeted in the library reading and making notes on qualitative research methods. I'm not that interested but must complete an essay of 3000 words on a research method before getting started on my dissertation. This time last year I was looking forward to the studying, to learning how to be a vicar, and to making new friends. This year I'm struggling with the studying- only because there is always far more interesting things I'd rather be doing, I Love all the practical learning to be a vicar, and would love to spend some time at the moment just being rather than doing. I'm still looking forward to making new friends amongst those who are now moving into college, and looking forward in the coming month to renewing my friendships with those who have been away back to their families during the summer.
As new people arrive I'm reminded again of the many friends who left this summer and are now settling into their new role as a curate. It has been great hearing the many stories and the joy of those who have already started. I'm waiting to be asked to consider a title post- and patience is a virtue I have always struggled with. In a years time this college will be continuing, those who are new this year will be waiting for new arrivals and many of us will have moved on. The cycle of life continues and we all have our place. I need to remember to enjoy the place God has placed me in now- including the studying, knowing that at times in the future I will look back we nostalgia and longing for the opportunities I have now.

Thursday, 4 August 2011


As I said in my last post a month is no time at all. I've now been back a week and had all sort of plans as to the work I would get done- but time has passed by and little has been done. That's not to say I've been sat doing nothing. One of the problems has been deciding what to write about. Decisions on essay titles made a couple of months ago- or even longer seemed irrelevant and boring now and I came back from placement with so many other ideas I wanted to explore. fortunately my tutor is around college working this week so I was able to set up a meeting with her and have now sorted out new titles and a plan of work for the enxt 6 weeks. Now I'm reorganising my reading to make sense of the new subjects.
Time and its passing has been on my mind for other reasons. A year ago I was on the Isle of Wight with my son having a few days holiday before starting to pack for the move north. The time since has seemed to fly by and yet at the same time that time on the IOW seems a life time ago. I suspect its because I've changed as the year has gone on and so it feels as if it happened to a different person. This time next year i will be a curate working in my first title parish- and at the moment I have no idea where that will be. each morning I eagerly await the postman in the hope that he will bring em the elusive letter inviting me to contact an prospective training incumbent. So far I've been disappointed. Yesterday as I walked back from locking up the village church I found my self singing a very old song- from my first days as a student- The words are
In your time Lord in your
I will wait and not be anxious at the time
And though some prayers I've prayed may seem unanswered yet
I will wait and not be anxious at the time
In your time Lord in your time
It obviously came out of my subconscious as I haven't sung it for years ( and probably have some of the words wrong anyway) but it was at the heart of my prayer yesterday. Time is passing but god will bring it all to pass in His time- not mine. A lesson you would think I had learned by now.
Yesterday was also a wonderful time of meeting up with a friend who was ordained 5 weeks ago. it was a real joy to hear him share about his experience as a curate and settling into a new life and home.
So off to make a start on the reading for my essays. I'll be back when I've made some progress :)

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Back to internet access

Well my four weeks placement is finished and I've also had three days away in Devon for a friends licensing service.
Placement was wonderful. Everyone I speak to who has been on summer placement says the same- they don';t want to leave. It's what we are called to do and so we find ourselves fulfilled and living life to the full as we serve in a new place. Of course a month is no time at all. I was just getting to know people and being known when it was time to move back to Oxford. It was also of course very much a honeymoon period when there was little time to do anything wrong so reports back have all been very positive.
However I was blessed to be in a group of parishes where life is not all smooth and wonderful and so I was able to see the more difficult aspects of rural ministry. Seeing the reality gave me opportunity to consider how I would cope and deal with difficult situations between people of the village and as such make a more realistic appraisal of what I believe God is calling me to do.
I still came back feeling very reassured and confident that God has called me to rural ministry. I want more than anything though to serve God where ever He wants me.
During the last month I also had an interview with the Bishop and my DDO so I am now waiting to hear from a prospective Training Incumbent. I have to remain patient not a strong virtue of mine.
One other real pleasure of my time in Derbyshire was the opportunity to catch up with friends and family on my day off. I managed to meet up with half a dozen friends during my time there and also to have a couple of evenings with my son and a couple of days with my sister which was lovely.
Now its back to the final two portfolios and a presentation to complete before September then all out for my dissertation for next year.
I hope to blog more now that I'm back but we will see!!!!

Sunday, 26 June 2011

What it's all about!

Yesterday I had a wonderful day out in Wales. It was one of my friends from college's ordination and so I went to Newport for the service and then on to Monmouth for lunch with his family and friends. there were people from every stage of his life, who had travelled from all over the UK. It was a really inspiring service and I was reminded once again about why I am here. God needs men and women who are willing to serve Him, we all have a role to play and not all will be called to be ordained, but once He has called you there is such a strong pull that it is very difficult to say no. Not that I ever wanted to say no- only are you sure lord?
Well he does seem to be saying yes and so here I am in training and tomorrow I return to Derbyshire for four weeks placement. This is an opportunity to shadow a priest and learn what day to day life of a vicar is really like. I'm really looking forward to all my new experiences and also to being back in Derbyshire- a place I love. I'm not sure what Internet access I will have but if I have regular access I will try to post my reflections as far as I am able.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Pathways through a curacy

A large parcel arrived yesterday franked with the diocese logo. Great excitement as I opened it wondering if there may be news about a curacy. It turned out to be a large purple file with all I need to know about being a curate in Derby Diocese and a letter inviting me to arrange a meeting with the Bishop. And so it begins! It will be a while yet before I'll know where i shall be, and probably even longer before I'll be free to actually talk about it but at least things are moving.
This week in college is interesting- we are having a themed study week on communicating the Gospel. Today we had to give a three minute talk on a subject which interested us, and we were videoed and then watched the video. We had first go at commenting on ourselves and then everyone else commented. I realised as I watched myself that while my talking was ok I did';t know what to do with my body. As a teacher I always walked around, teaching without notes and often making notes on the board in response to answers the pupils gave me. Then when I started preaching I wasn't confident to preach without notes and so would stand at the pulpit hanging on as if afraid I'd fall over. Comments were made especially as I'm short and can easily end up looking like 'wotno'. So today I tried standing away from the lectern where my notes were. Unfortunately I ended up looking unsure what to do with my hands and moving around without purpose. This gives me an area I must work on.
Now I have just two days of this term left and then its 14 weeks of summer placement, essays and starting work on my dissertation- oh and a weeks holiday in Wales. Life is never boring.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Continuing Students

Well that's it- I'm now officially a continuing student as the previous year group has now left. We had our leaver's service on Friday. As church sacristan it was my duty along with my partner sacristan to set up for the Leavers Eucharist. We seemed to get most things sorted before the service I just forgot to put out the tissues on each pew. I'd been warned that they would be needed but had to go and fetch them at the Peace. The service was both joyful and sad at the same time as we remembered why we are here, blessed the stoles and then all those who were leaving both ordinands and their families. After that the first group left with their furniture vans!
I have a strange fascination with removal vans. I've moved so many times and enjoyed the experience each time so the sight of a furniture van reminds me of those times and often leaves me feeling sad that its not me moving! This time I was reminded that in a year it will be me and will mark the next stage of my training- curacy.
At the moment I'm waiting for THE letter from the diocese to invite me to consider a parish for curacy. Some of our group from one diocese are already in the process. On Thursday I received my college report for checking and comment. I was humbled at what was written but pleased that I seem to have made progress with formation this year.
Now I've got one week left of term- a week in which we begin to consider communicating the Gospel and in particular preaching. Still got a portfolio to finish and then the summer break comes with summer placement, two more portfolios and a presentation! We will have a weeks holiday in Wales as well, and then its back for my final year and a 20,000 dissertation.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Ascension day

At 7.15am I walked between college and the village church for our Ascension day service. As I walked I was struck by the circle of worship which we follow so closely here at college. Just 40 days ago we walked to church in the dawn of Easter morning, the birds singing the sun about to rise. now I walked with the birds singing brightly and the sun already risen on a glorious day. The service was a joyful Eucharist and after the Paschal candle had been extinguished, during the final hymn we processed out into the brilliant morning sunshine for the blessing. We started our Easter service with the lighting of the paschal candle and a procession into church. So here we had come full circle.
It's particularly poignant at the moment to be thinking about the ascension. The time when jesus left his disciples for a second time, this time commissioning them to go out and make disciples of the world. Next week the final year students leave, prepared to go out, to be ordained and to begin their ministry of spreading the Good news. Those left behind take up their mantle of serving and teaching the first years as they arrive in September. For the leavers it is a time of mixed joy and sadness, joy that they are to begin their next stage of life and ministry, sorrow at the friends they are leaving. For those of us left behind we are sorrtowful at our loss and apprehensive, are we up to the mark able to welcome and teach the new ordinands.
Yesterday we had a days retreat, away from college this time. the theme was very much about the ascension and the disciples left behind relating it to our lives now. I was struck by how many times I have had to leave beloved friends behind to move in the call God has for me. have I become immune to the sadness of parting from friends, more secure in the knowledge that those friendships continue? I don;t know but perhaps next week I'll know!

Sunday, 29 May 2011

How time flies

This week we had a day on healing and deliverance ministry and then half a day on Finding a curacy. The Healing and deliverance day was interesting, although nothing I didn't know from my days in a charismatic church. It was good to hear a balanced take on the biblical teaching on healing and deliverance.
The half day on Finding a curacy was the best half day I've spent at college- and I've had a few good lectures! Now I'm just waiting to hear from the diocese as to whether I am to be offered a curacy or released. As Derby is a net importer its likely they will offer me a curacy and I hope to know within the next couple of months.
I'm now working on my 4th portfolio and have also had a meeting with my tutor to discuss my dissertation which will be the focus of my work for my second year. I'm looking at how grand parents can pass on their faith so if any one has any stories or thoughts please let me know!
Yesterday I had a lovely day out while K visited a railway exhibition. I wandered around Princes Risborough and Monks Risborough. As a child (and even adult) one of my favourite series of books was the Abbey Girls book and they were based round this area so I enjoyed noting names and places that got mentioned.
Today I returned with Kevin to my first year placement church. I love going back as it feels very much like my home even though I can only go occasionally now that I have my role as church sacristan here in Cuddesdon. I must give some thought to what it is that makes me feel this way as I'd love to see churches I work in being so friendly and attractive.
Any suggestions what makes a church attractive.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Rural ministry

I managed to finish my third portfolio and give it in. This week I got my marks and was very pleased that I had a grade within 2% of my other grades. So I am managing to hold my own. Have started on my 4th portfolio and hope to have it finished by next weekend. This week I haven't done much work as we have had our third themed study week and this time I chose to do Rural Ministry. Its been an interesting week though I don't think I learnt much I hadn't already learnt from reading and spending time in rural areas. However we did get to have some nice walks and had lovely weather. Then again at least one farmer would prefer the rain to come!!
Today I went to the local church where I'm sacristan, for a funeral. This was an interesting experience as we had been warned it would be a humanist funereal! In the end it was a well blended mix of Christian hope and concern for the integrity of the wishes of the man whose funeral it was. I learnt a great deal about how to help the christian members of the congregation when someone who doesn't have faith dies.
what amazes me more than anything at the moment is knowing that in three weeks we say good bye to a number of our community as they prepare for their ordination. It seems no time at all since I arrived and now we will be the continuing students and teaching the new ordinands how to serve at services. Very soon it will be me leaving!!! Yikes

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Easter and all that!!

Well its been and gone and we now live in the joy of resurrection life. I'm going to list the programme for the Tridium ( the events from Maundy Thursday through to Easter Sunday)not because what I was involved in was anymore special that all those others who worked and worshipped this weekend, nor for pity, but as an indication for anyone considering ministry as to what the most wonderful weekend of the year can look like!
Maundy Thursday- rehearsal of hymns, psalm setting etc 10.30 - 11.45 followed at noon with opening service for college. Lunch. 2.15pm rehearsal for Maundy Thursday evening service, 4.15pm rehearsal for Good Friday service. Dinner. 7pm in church to set up for 8pm Eucharist and foot washing service. Sacristan duties in this service to direct people and to help with the stripping of the altar etc which form part of the service
Good Friday - 6.30am in church for last hour of the vigil ( students had covered the whole night) 7.30am clear away the altar of repose and place the reserved sacrament in the safe. 8.30am breakfast. 9.15am Morning prayer. set up for BCP parish communion and assist at the communion. 11.30am lunch. 12 - in church to set up for Good friday liturgy. back to colleger at 1pm for the start of the procession and liturgy which moved from college down through the village to the church and finished at 3pm ( no duties in the service ). Clear up after service. back in church 5.25pm to set up for evening prayer. 5.454pm evening prayer.
Saturday in church at 10am for cleaning and preparation.
3.30pm in church for rehearsal of Easter morning. Stayed and set up as much as we could for the easter sunday service. 8pm easter vigil in college Easter Sunday up at 4am in church for 5am to complete arrangements. Service started at 5.45 and finished at 7.15am(My duties- lights to signal to the bell ringers when to start and stop ringing, directing people for communion) Set up for parish communion back to college for cooked breakfast at 8am. Back to church for 8.45 to light candles etc for Parish communion (duties serve chalice). Home at 11.15 after clearing away for the service and to bed for an hour. lunch and then in church at 3pm to set up for baptism and communion at 4pm(Welcome and directing people). Clear away everytthing lock church and home by 5.45pm!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I loved the experience being so fully part of it all. I found that when I was sure of what I was doing I was able to relax and worship despite all that was going on. Living through the tridium in such intensity brought home to me the full message of Easter- both the death and resurrection. God blessed me through it all and I wasn't too shattered by the end of it- though glad of a lie in yesterday morning.
In fact compared to many of the blogs I've read of priests and ministers I seem to get off lightly yesterday. We went off shopping for new black sunday shoes for me to go under my cassock!and then had a lovely wander along the canal. Now its back into college and daily offices which keep me rooted in God and his love.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Palm Sunday reflections

How did you feel Jesus as you rode into Jerusalem and heard the cries of the crowd? Hosanna they shouted and palm branches and cloaks were spread before you. Did your humanity feel pride at the response of the crowd as I probably would have done? Did you feel you had made it? Were you thrilled and full of joy? Or in your divinity did you think instead as your rode on your donkey of the pain and sorrow to come? In your humility did you bow your head and think instead of your Father? What lessons can I learn from your journey that day?

Saturday, 9 April 2011

life in all its fulness

Back again after nearly a week away. Went first up to lancashire to visit my mum for mothering Sunday and her birthday on Monday. Had a great time with Mum and also exploring my childhood haunts with K. Mothering Sunday was especially interesting as I visited a village church which had organised its service with the local school. The church was packed as parents and grandparents had joined the normal congregation. I thoroughly enjoyed worshipping with so many- some of whom it was clear weren't used to church services. I was very excited by the idea of working so closely with a local school and the opportunities it raised. Talking to one of the regulars afterwards it seem that the church and school co-operate at four services each year. the children seemed to enjoy themselves, and had been very involved in illustrating the order of service and taking part in reading, presentation and prayers.
After the lovely time in Lancashire we returned via Derbyshire and met with he vicar who will be my summer placement supervisor. Again a really exciting time learning about the challenges of rural ministry. I'm sure I'm going to really benefit from spending time with this vicar and spending time in these 5 small parishes for a month. The more time I spend in rural parishes and with the vicar and congregations in these places the more certain I am that this is what God has called me to do.
Now I just need to get my head round the two essays I hope to finish before the end of the Easter break. holy week is fast approaching!!

Friday, 1 April 2011

joys of community life

This week has brought home to me the joys of living in community. Because a number of us are here through the holidays we are able to maintain regular morning prayer which I'm loving. Then earlier in the week K helped the wife of one of the students renovate a bureau and we were invited to have an evening meal with them. It was lovely to share a meal and chat with them. Today K has been back to help with the renovations and we learnt that our friend was to be on his own this evening as his wife was away to visit family. We invited him to share our meal and we have just shared a lovely time of fellowship. It has been wonderful to deepen our relationship and learn more about God from each other.
I've had my report back from my Sunday placement today- with he comment from the tutor that it was a good report and that next year he will have to see about finding me something more stretching!! As I'm going to be church sacristan for the college and this will be my Sunday and weekday placement I shall be stretched. I'm really looking forward to becoming more involved in this village community as well as the college community.
Off tomorrow for a few days up north - a time of relaxation and family visits.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Hearing God's word

This morning I read the scriptures for Morning prayer. The lectionary is working its way through Jeremiah and John's Gospel at the moment and as often happens it was possible to see a link in the two readings. It's not often that as I read out loud for a service I become especially attuned to what God is saying- I suppose because I'm usually concentrating too hard on not making a mess of the reading - but today the words imprinted themselves on me as I read. (Jeremiah chapter 14) Here Jeremiah is told not to pray for the people and to prophesy that God will punish them. Jeremiah argues that others are prophesying that God will bless the people and not punish them. God then says: "The prophets are prophesying lies in my name, I did not send them nor did I command them or send them" What struck me was how easy it may be to tell people good news, and to say what you know they want to hear rather than listening for what hod is actually wanting to say. Then in the Gospel Jesus challenges the Jews for not listening to what He says and not recognising that He is speaking the word from the Father. Again I ask myself do I listen to what Jesus is saying and recognise it is from the Father. Something to think about as I look to the future

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Keep on going

Back to work yesterday in the library and made some head way on my next essay. Kept going today as well and hope to finish this portfolio before we go away at the weekend. Then we are away for 5 days visiting my mum first and then meeting up with my summer placement supervisor. I'm looking forward to a few days in lancashire and possibly a day up in the Lake District and then 24 hours in Derbyshire. It will be good to have time with my husband away from books computers etc. I shall also enjoy the lovely scenery, time with my Mum and getting excited about my summer placement. Life is good :)

Monday, 28 March 2011

Lazy day

Not much to blog today. Got up for morning prayer but was so shattered after the weekend away that I actually went back to bed when I returned home. Got up an hour later and after breakfast went to get some groceries in. Spent what was left of the afternoon reading and watching tv. Did manage to go to the lent bible study and now I;m ready to go back to bed. Tomorrow I will actually do some work!
Perhaps by tomorrow I'll have something worth reflecting on.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Home again

I've been away for a few days visiting my sister in Derbyshire and then spent yesterday with a friend up in Lancashire. I didn't get to see the placement supervisor but I had a wonderful time with a friend who is in his first year of curacy and as a result learnt so much which will help when I do get to organise my summer placement.
I also enjoyed a restful time with my sister- I'd bought her a spa day for her Christmas present and so we went together and were pampered for the day. I don;t get many opportunities to spend quality time with her these days so we really enjoyed catching up.
Saturday was spent with an old college friend. Again it was lovely to have some time with her as we don;t get together very often. We first met over 30 years ago and lost tough for many years before finding each other on Friends Reunited. Since we've met a few times and yesterday I felt as if we were really getting back to how we were so many years ago. now I'm looking forward to her visiting me here in Cuddesdon and touring Oxford.
Then this morning I was training to be Church Sacristan for my next 12 months placement. Oh and I got my second essay back and I'm satisfied with my mark though I hope to do better on my next one as I think I'm getting a better feel for what is expected.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

More of the same

My journey toward training was one of false starts, long waits and cancellations.Patience had to become one of my virtues!!! Now its started again. A few weeks ago I made arrangements to visit my summer placement supervisor in Derbyshire, tomorrow. As I was going up there I made plans to also see a friend who is in his first curacy and to spend time with my sister. Now I've had an email to say there is sickness at the vicarage so the meeting is cancelled. I appreciate that this can't be helped and I'm grateful that the vicar has let me know so I don't risk catching it but now I have to arrange a second visit north. The whole thing just feels very familiar and I trust that I have learnt patience :)
Despite all that I am looking forward to seeing my friends and my sister and in particular the spa treat I have organised as her Christmas treat.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011


Not sure what happened to yesterday-I seem to spend all day tidying up and filing and then went to a lent bible study so didn't get to post.
Today I've been to visit my placement supervisor for the last time. I've really enjoyed my placement although its been very much an observation one. I have led intercessions and helped with one All Age service but the priority for this placement was to observe and reflect. So here I am reflecting.
What did I learn from this placement.
1. A welcoming church is lovely but can cause problems at the peace if the reason the church is welcoming is that it likes to chat
2. Church buildings - especially ancient ones can really undermine how worship is led and how creative you can be with services. Not that it isn't possible but it does need a lot of thought.
3. Coming into a church as leader where others already exercise some form of ministry can be a blessing but can also lead to tension and problems. If those who are lay readers etc are recognised by the church bu are struggling in some areas it can be very difficult to actually do anything as a new comer.
4. Worship is not something you merely do- it has to be from the heart. Merely changing the musicians from organ and choir to a modern music group will not achieve this.
I'm sure I've learnt a lot more but these were the points which I discussed with my supervisor today.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

different but the same!

Yesterday I didn't post as I was away all day visiting my wonderful boys.
Today as I am between placement churches I decided to visit somewhere different. With that in mind I went into Oxford and worshipped at a large Evangelical church there. It was different from the middle of the road style church I have just been worshipping with and will be worshipping with for the next year. However having spent 20+ years worshipping with a charismatic/evangelical free church I found it all too familiar. Long time of worship followed by a sermon. I was actually surprised the sermon wasn't longer- the lady sitting next to me suggested a length of an hour but as it happens it was only 25 minutes.
Being back in that environment I was surprised by own reaction. For years this was what fed me but today I left dissatisfied. the worship seemed repetitive and quite boring. The sermon was on the sower and I didn't hear anything new- which is perhaps not so surprising when I think about it as it seemed mainly aimed at those who were seeking God and those beginning to walk with Christ. My own spirituality had changed as I've aged. This isn't a criticism of the church I was at this morning, rather a comment on my own spirituality and recognition that God has done things in me over the past 10 years which make me more comfortable in a middle of the road church with a weekly Eucharist and a variety of musical worship. Just as well really I doubt that many rural churches are like the church I was at this morning :)

Friday, 18 March 2011

end of term

Didn't get round to blogging yesterday as I spent the evening at our end of term Bright hour. This is a fun time when students let their hair down and entertain the rest of us with comic topical sketches songs etc. As always it was great fun and I ache today from laughing so much yesterday!!
Today is the last day of term and I'm ready for the break. I have two essays to finish over the holidays but am also looking forward to a couple of weekends away visiting family and friends.
I have just been to an all age service and as so frequently happens came out thinking how I would have done it differently. I had begun to feel guilty about this tendency to critique every service I go to but then reading a book for my ministry essay today I realised that its a normal part of this life. I also realised that I'm not being critical so much as seeking to learn and to consider how I can develop my own skills.
Well time for last dinner of term and then a quiet evening.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011


Tonight I have been out with a group of friends from college. We are all of a certain age and a mix of those doing one year before staring as NSM curates and the rest doing the MA over two years. it was one of the groups birthday and so we went for a meal and a drink together. It was a wonderful evening of chatting through situations and ministry issues at a much greater depth than we would in college and at the same time laughing and having fun. This is the truly positive side of the community life here. I shall miss the three who will leave in June and start their curacies.
Earlier those of us doing the Ma had a research methods seminar where we discussed the possible dissertation subjects we will study. It was awazing to hear the differant subjects- I wanted to do them all!! however I'm happy with the topic I've chosen. Strangely I came with a definite view of what I would do and that has changed over time but my tutor was quite excited at my choice so I hope it will prove to be a positve experience.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011


Lovely day out today- I went to Kenilworth with friends who are leaving this summer and so needed to order stoles. I had briefly looked at the different stoles offered by various crafts people at the tat fair and would love to make my own. Today I saw some lovely designs and got inspired again to think about making my own. Now I just need to get on with my essays so I can justify the time to sew!
The weather was lovely by the time we arrived back and so the three of us went and had lunch at Waterperry Gardens- sitting outside to enjoy the spring sunshine.
Now I'm watching TV - Biblical Secrets and I'm not convinced by the presenter.

Monday, 14 March 2011

doubt and faith

Tonight I went to a fellow students home to the lent bible study. It was based on the York lent course and dealt with the inheritance left by Jesus after the resurrection. We spent much of the evening discussing how life comes out of death and our own experiences of death, resurrection, doubt and faith. It was very moving and helpful to hear others experiences of Gods blessing that comes out of times or trial and desolation.
I really enjoyed being back in a bible study group. Its been 3 years since I was last in a home group and I really miss the intimacy of studying the bible in small groups. I shall make the most of these next 5 weeks and look to opportunities in the future.
Off tomorrow to Kenilworth with a couple of the students to look at stoles. Great time out.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

being rather than doing

Today I had my last visit to my placement church. It has been a lovely 6 months and I've really enjoyed myself at the church. However I was only there to be, to observe and become part of the congregation. I wasn't expected to do anything- and in fact apart from leading intercessions on a couple of occasions and helping with All Age worship last week I have just sat and been part of the congregation. So I was amazed today when I had more than one person come and thank me for being there and saying how much they would miss me. I was also told I'd helped a few people which surprised me though I realised that what they were grateful for was that I had spent time listening to them. This got me reflecting on my role as a priest- there is often a debate about whether what makes one a priest is what you do- ie the sacraments, or is it something you are- an ontological change which God brings about. My experience at my placement church would suggest that there is a large element of being.
Since getting home we have taken advantage of the beautiful spring weather and had a long walk out through the fields and woodlands round here. I never tire of being here. Oh and the daffodils are out which raises my spirits even more. I don;t think theres a better symbol of God's goodness

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Day out

When we first moved to Devon and I started working for the church we got into the habit of using one of my days off for trips out to explore. Now I'm at college we have maintained that habit and spend Saturday's out exploring the Cotswold. We have gone back to a number of places that we visited on our honeymoon but today went somewhere new. We had a lovely day in Malmesbury and then an hour of Tetbury. Both are lovely towns and we had a really pleasant day exploring the towns.
In some ways this is an opportunity for Sabbath rest- a time of refreshment and time to enjoy each others company and also enjoy God's presence. It is my plan to maintain this as we move into my curacy next year.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Normal service resumed

Today has been a normal day and I've had possession of the computer for most of it- working on an essay. I had vainly imagined I could write 2 portfolios of 7000 words each before we finished for Easter. In the event I have managed 1500 on one and 850 on the second, plus some reading so my Easter break will be spent writing essays again. At least I've made a start which is more than I had when we began our Christmas break. Other than that the only major thing today was the worship committee meeting. As church sacristan I am now part of the committee. It was a good experience for parish ministry giving me insight to how worked up people can get about worship issues. Particularly issues that seem so minor to me. I was very impressed by the way in which the tutor chaired the meeting.
Time now to go and relax and think about where to spend tomorrow- Saturday is always a day away from college for K and myself. A time of normality :)

Accompanying towards God

Didn't get to blog yesterday as K had the computer. So here are my reflections from yesterday.
We have come to the end of six months of hospital placement. I think of all that I have done since coming to college this placement has been the most formational, enjoyable and spiritually sustaining. We have had a mixture of classroom teaching and ward visiting. The teaching has been very good and has included a mixture of information and real life stories. Yesterday we had Michael Welham author of My Donkey Body talking about disability. This was followed by a question and answer session with all the chaplains. One of the questions asked was -" What do you ( the chaplains) see the difference being between being a chaplain and a parish priest? The answer that sticks with me was that they felt parish ministry should be the same as Chaplaincy in that it should be about accompanying people on their journey. This really resonated with me, as more than anything I feel called as a priest to accompany people as they make their own journey's towards God. Having been with these chaplains as they have walked the wards and talked with people I hope I have learned new skills for pastoral care. I have also realised that though i feel very strongly called to rural parish ministry I could also be very happy in hospital chaplaincy if that is where God wants me.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011


Reflection is a large part of our life at college and not one I find easy to do on a daily basis so for my lent discipline I am going to reflect on my blog daily. (Well that's my intention anyway!)
I've been reflecting today on the connections we make in the Christian church- and how small the Church of England is!!! Yesterday chatting to the student who acts as driver for us all when we go into Oxford I discovered that he had been a Church Army youth worker at my sisters church- and she had helped him with the Toddler group. Then today I discovered that one of our lecturers is a good friend of a very old friend of mine, someone who was very instrumental in my being born again and also encouraged me a great deal when I felt the call to ordained ministry. S and his wife are both ordained and though I don't see them very often I do count them as very good friends.
I suppose what I have taken from these two events is the interconnectedness of the Christian life. As John Donne put it no man is an island and we all have influence on one another. The influence then spreads out like ripples on a pond. Or as Paul said we are all the body of Christ and no part can say to another we don;t need you.
It is also a joy when I realise people in my new life have connections with people in my old life.
Off to do some work now- another lent discipline!!!!

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Music- food for the soul

Yesterday we had a marvelous Eucharist- A Jazz service. The music was wonderful and the joy and thrill at the end when we sang How great thou art was extraordinary. We ended with spontaneous applause for God and the band - something unusual in Cuddesdon. I have always loved the worship but I felt lifted to a new place yesterday.
I had also really enjoyed a couple of the lectures yesterday where we engaged with Biblical text. Surprisingly being at Theological College has not meant more Bible study- as I have a degree I'm doing an MA in Mission and Ministry so have less than many others on the Bible. But yesterday morning was our Oxford lecture on Mission and Ministry and it was taught by our Principal and was one of the best lectures I've had since being here- and we have had some good ones! He spoke about us being the salt for the earth and gave a whole new understanidng of the phrase. Then in the afternoon we had Biblical perspective and looked at the whole question of the god of the OT versus the God of the NT. Again we engaged with the text and I really enjoyed thinking about it in a new way.
Today I deaconed at the morning Eucharist and as I read the Gospel new thoughts hit me- God is really speaking.
I have had the privelege of being invited to be Church Sacristan in the village for the cvollege for the next 12 months. This involves serving both college and church community by looking after the church and helping to train others to set up for services and to take their part in the Eucharist. This will be my Sunday and mid week placement for the next year.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

The strangeness of silence

Drop thy still dews of quietness
Til all our strivings cease
Speak through the earthquake wind and fire
Oh still small voice of peace.

Quiet day in college yesterday. Some observations- we walk more slowly to church when not chatting with friends.
We eat our meals much more quickly when not distracted by chatting to friends ( but those reading and eating ate more slowly!)
Quiet days in college are not the same as a silent retreat. Its very hard to not talk to your spouse in your flat when they are not part of the college experience and are feeling pretty depressed anyway. Whereas last time I remained in silence from 7am to 7pm even when in the flat but yesterday I only maintained it in college and then went out for a walk and time of reflection in the afternoon.
Apart from wuiet day the last weekend was half term and we spent saturday out with daughter, son in law and children at a motor museum. Lovely day together. then on Sunday my son came to stay and we had a lovely couple of days catching up. I had been worried about his situation with his father but he seems happy and enjoying his 6th form. He has plans for uni and is doing well with his AS's so I have to keep praying for his dad to provide a stable homelife for him.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

life at theological college

Well its over a week since I last posted. Had hoped to get my next essay well on the way by now but somehow life got in the way- again!
The last two weeks I was on church sacristan duty.The involved making sure the church was open by 9am and then being in the church half an hour before any service to make sure all was in order- hymn numbers on the board, books out etc. On the days we had Eucharist I had to be there earlier to set up for the service make sure the group on cleaning knew what they were doing and os it went on. I really enjoyed my duties but found it ate into my time quite a lot.
Had a lovely day out with K on Saturday. We visited a church which advertised snowdrop teas. the graveyard was awash with snowdrops and aconites and the ladies of the church served coffee and cake out in the churchyard. the church itself was 1000 year old beautiful small church in the middle of what felt like nowhere. I loved the way the community was using God's wonderful nature to draw people in. Then the Vicar was there along with other church members chatting to those who visited. There seemed to be well over 100 people there.
Looks like my summer placement is coming together. I feel called to rural ministry and so I had asked for an isolated rural placement. It was suggested that Northumberland or Cumbria might be a possibility but after some discussion and contact with a few incumbents it has finally been decided that I will return to Derbyshire to do my placement. now its been decided I'm feeling really excited. More to come later.
In the meantime I'm still enjoying my midweek placement and my Sunday placement. each are giving me new insights to the life I can look forward to in the future.
now its time to try and get a decent early night.

Monday, 7 February 2011

It's done!

I've finished my second essay. Thats 14000 words since the second week of December. I've now got another 14000 to do before easter. I love this life and I enjoy writing essays when I get down to them but there's so much that gets in the way- so much else I'd rather be doing. Last week I was assistant church sacristan and this week I'm duty sacristan in church. I really enjoyed learning more about the behind the scenes of church life- lighting the sanctuary light, what to do when a carafe of wine gets broken by a falling cross etc! All great learning experiences.
At the same time I became aware last week how much I am missing solitude. Life in community is fun, upbuilding frustrating etc but I used to gain so much from an afternoon out on my own just walking and talking to God and some how that doesn't happen now. Usually if I go out walking in the afternoon its with K and thats important too as I need to work on our relationship while we are in this gold fish bowl. Of course I'm spending time with God praying in community and on my own but the 10 minutes I had on my own walking from lectures back to the car last week in Oxford was so refreshing. I'd forgotten what it was like just to be with God.
Note to self find some me time soon!

Monday, 24 January 2011


We have just enjoyed a lovely weekend. Saturday after a lazy start to the day we drove over to Cirencester partly as somewhere new to explore partly because I knew it had a Christian bookshop where I could buy some cards. We had a baptism yesterday of one of the children from the college community and I wanted a card which said baptism not christening on it. All the ones in local shops had the latter. The bookshop in Cirencester had a lovely selection of cards so I stocked up for a variety of purposes. We had a lovely cup of coffee and cake there with free top up and a long chat with the lady serving who turned out to be the vicars wife. the vicar had trained at Cuddesdon so we had a lot to chat about. If you are in or around Cirencester do visit the Cornerstone Book shop and cafe it was lovely. We also enjoyed wandering around the parish church and the town. Great relaxation and break from essays!
the n yesterday afternoon was the baptism of baby N. A wonderful time. the church was packed and our sacristan rather busy so I helped out with welcoming people and handing out books. I do love that job its such and opportunity to serve God and the community by making others feel welcomed.
This morning I had the joy of serving at Communion. It was a revelation how natural that is beginning to feel even at 8am. This time I seemed to manage to say the right words and to hand everything over to the priest at the right time.
later in the week i shall be leading Evening prayer which will be a first here so I'm looking forward to serving then as well.
Life is good. God is wonderful and I am really at peace again.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Better today

After my last post which was very negative I am feeling much better today. Thanks to my friends who prayed, to my lovely husband who hugged me, prayed for me and listened, and to God who has been my strength and my salvation. C is certain he wants to stay with his dad to stay at his present school and I have sent him money for his bus pass. I'm over the worst of the tiredness and am sure after the weekend I will be fully recovered. Yesterday we were back on our midweek placement which in my case it is at the hospital. We had a very good teaching session yesterday on work in a hospice. I'm also now talking to a tutor about summer placement which is very exciting.
Now its time to return to my essay on liturgy with the hope I can get it finished and handed in.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011


Having travelled back from up north yesterday from the funeral I'm shattered today and that may be the reason I'm feeling so low! The funeral went well and I was told that my eulogy touched people. I came away feeling very affirmed and encouraged in this path I am on.
however today I have had news from my youngest son which makes me question the effect of what I'm doing on my family. C moved to live with his dad along with one of his brothers when I started talking about looking for a college tot rain at. that worked out well in the first few years but now their dad has left his second wife and complications concern me about the way he is living his life and the effect on my children. however readers may remember that our flat at college is very small and movign C now would also involve him moving school so he's not keen- his freinds are obviously where he is living. that has all left me confuced concerned and praying like mad for clarity of thought and wisdom.
In amongst all that I am of course back in lectures and Oxford lectures this morning were not what I had hoped for.
Hence I am down and hoping that I'll sleep well tonight and feel better tomorrow.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Death dying and bereavement

This has been the theme of the week for me. as Oxford Uni is not back yet we have had a themed study week and my choice was death dying and bereavement. Its a compulsory element which we can choose to do either now or later in the year, I elected to do it now not knowing my uncle would die at New Year and I would be giving the tribute at his funeral.
The week has been very instructive. The first couple of days covered grief and how people handle it while the later sessions dealt with theology of death, the funeral visit , liturgy etc. Then today we went to visit the crematorium. I was very interested int he crem. but did absent myself from at the point when an actual coffin was going to be put into the cremators- it was just a bit too near to home for Mondays funeral.
trying to get ready for the funeral has been rather frustrating- my aunt had no idea what she wanted at the funeral other than wanting me to give the tribute. So I tried to get hold of the chaplain of the Deep Sea Mission who is taking the funeral. I eventually managed to get him today but he was vague about the service except that he would thread the biographical details of my uncle into the service. It was back to the drawing board for my tribute. However its written now and I'm hoping it will be alright. Its certainly given me food for thought for future ministry and dealing with relatives.
Oh well time to go and pack ready for tomorrows visit north.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Back again

It's been a while since I posted,I wanted to be able to say that my essays were both finished and handed in! However although one was completed and handed in the other is still a 1000 to be done. However the tutor is not back until next Monday so I will get it done.
Christmas was a lovely time- we had nearly a foot of snow the weekend before and then freezing weather so long tramps in the snow were the order of the day. Went to my placement church for Christmas Eve crib service and Christmas morning where I led the intercessions. For midnight mass we went to the village church which has close links with the college. They were short of a sidesperson so I stepped in to give out the books and then was invited to administer the Chalice as well. It was such a privilege to be able to serve in those ways.
The week between Christmas and New year I took my youngest son up to lancashire to visit my mum. We had a great time together and then on the way home I dropped him at friends in Derbyshire and went to spend an hour with my eldest son. It was so good to catch up with them both. Back home I had a phone call from my mum on New Years eve to tell me that my uncle, her younger brother had died.
Now we are back in college and its a themed study week on death dying and bereavement. Out of a group of 17 , 5 had uncles die over Christmas! I've been asked to give the eulogy at the funeral next Monday so hope to get some advice this week.
Being back in college is strange. Sitting in chapel at 7.30 this morning it was as if the past month dissolved. Then going into the common room for coffee later in the day it was so good to be back part of the community and to know everyone. Catching up with others and feeling the deepening friendships was wonderful.
So now I must finish my essay, write a eulogy and prepare to travel 150 miles north at the weekend.