Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Kami kazi pheasants and rural ministry.

Its been a long time since I posted anything. Life just seems so busy and as someone else posted on a blog once you get out of the habit how ever much you may have to say it just all then seems too much!
I am loving my curacy as always and in particular the journeys to the village churches. However I'm not enjoying the pheasants. Three years ago while at college we had a meeting with a pheasant on the A34 as we headed to Didcot on Christmas morning and the pheasant and our bumper came off very badly. As a result I'm quite nervous driving near them and we live quite close to a breeding area. At this time of year the lanes are full of pheasants happily wandering around and then suddenly flying upward and toward you as you approach. So far I've avoided hitting any but it makes the journeys interesting. (As do other road users who want the whole lane!)
The joys of rural ministry far outweigh that tiny pin prick though. Driving over a hill and seeing the valley below shrouded in mist- the sun glinting on the lake or house windows is wonderful. And the churches continue to be a real blessing. Small but with warm hearted hard working people. In one village I've started a Toddler group and its growing slowly and now extending into a Coffee morning for the older villagers once a month. Its great to see the mums slowly starting to own the group and plan for it rather than leaving it all to me.
In another village I'm going to be starting a form of Messy Church and I've had a positive reaction from the congregation and the school head teacher so that looks like taking off.
Frighteningly I'm now almost 18 months into my curacy and though its officially a 4 year curacy in another 18 months I'll be released to start looking for my next post. Something that by this time next year I will have to be paying about and listening for G od's leading as to where next.
On a different front having spent the last 5 years thinking about buying a new home- we sold what had been mine after K had sold his and always planned to buy a retirement home, now we seem to be moving nearer to settling on where. Interestingly its got me reading blogs again to glean information and advice from the expats community. So not in Britain! I shall leave saying where until we are definite.  then this blog may take on a totally different flavour as I chart our progress.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Ten years on

Reflecting on life and the anniversary of a friends marriage I realised that it is 10 years since my life was completely turned on its head- and 13 years this month since the somersaults started. Thirteen years ago I found out that my husband was having an affair. Despite my best efforts he left me and 10 years ago last weekend I received my decree absolute. I was divorced something I had never thought would happen to me! That day as I drove through the Derbyshire countryside I prayed and told God that this was the start of the rest of my life and that I was going to continue to walk with Him and the first thing I would do would be to find a new church home. On the following Sunday I walked into St Thomas church Brampton and immediately felt at home. Little would I know that that would be the start of the journey which would see me 10 years later an ordained priest in the church of England.
The following March I wrote the following in the church magazine- and rereading it today it still is the true testimony of our great God working in my life

Great is thy Faithfulness
During the last two weeks this hymn has been sung at services and has been echoing in my heart while away from church. Nineteen years ago this was the hymn my husband and I sang at our wedding. It has been a constant testimony of God’s goodness through the intervening years.

As I sang it this last Sunday I was choking back tears - very mixed tears both of joy and sorrow. You see three years ago the husband I had promised to love and honour nineteen years before, and whom I stood with and promised before God we would serve Him together, left my children and me. He also walked away from God and all that he had believed. So my tears were naturally of sorrow that all my hopes and dreams so long ago had disappeared and my life is very different now to what I had expected. August of last year saw my divorce complete, something I had always hoped to avert. But also they were of joy as I recognised the truth of the words despite my circumstances of the last three years.
Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.

My circumstances have changed but God’s goodness to me has never changed. He has held me close throughout.
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

God has truly provided all I have needed, a new home, jobs as required, and rest when my body has been weary. In the last six months He has brought me to a new church home and more recently I have met and started dating a lovely Christian man.
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

God has pardoned my sin - both at the time when I became a Christian and any sin I committed that contributed to my marriage breakup. He has also given me strength to get up and carry on being a mum to my three boys each day, strength to face work, however difficult and strength to get on with my life. He has also given me a bright hope that my future will be better and that life will continue. I have many blessings, and I praise God for each one of them.

I have been asked how I held onto my faith in God during this time, I have to say it was not me holding on to faith in God but The God of Faith holding on to me. He has cradled me in His arms and kept me safe when all around me disintegrated. Now I face the future secure in that love and with a heart full of praise.


Some years later someone read this and sent a message via the Rector to say how it had helped her. I'm learning now how my testimony of God's greatness can still help others and that the pain I went through when my husband left me has allowed me to help others going through the pain.
Nothing is wasted with God- and God truly causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Peer support

Today I had the blessing of meeting with a fellow curate who I trained with. We had originally planned to meet twice a year to share and pray but our first year of curacy left us with no suitable time to meet except at curates day at Cuddesdon. Today we only had half an hour between sessions at her Diocesan synod conference being held 20 minutes away from my home. BUT that half hour was so refreshing though definitely not long enough.
I meet with another curate in our diocese for mutual support and prayer about every two months and I do find that useful but my meeting today reminded me how important relationship is. Because my friend today and I are similar age, similar experience and had the blessing of training together for 2 years residentially we have a much deeper relationship than the one I am slowly forming with my local curate friend.
We came away from today both agreeing that we need to put more effort into trying to meet up more regularly for our mutual support and encouragement.
Now just to put that into practice.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Being a grand mother

Not much to share about my curacy at the moment- sometime soon I will post some thoughts about being a priest. However today I want to share about being a grandmother.

Twelve months ago I rushed to the hospital to meet my new grand daughter- it was such a joy.


Today we went across to share a birthday tea party with her. She is such a delight and I enjoy spending time with her and her dad and mum. Its so lovely to see my son in her but also to recognise that she is a person in her own right with her own character. I am going to so enjoy sharing in her growing up and praise God that I was able to return to Derbyshire for my curacy and so be near enough to share these special first few years.

Here she is for you all to enjoy

Wednesday, 3 July 2013


Last week saw a three day pre-ordination retreat which was a really refreshing time with God. We were blessed with a lovely hotel where the staff taught us what serving is about!  Nothing was too much trouble for them and they coped wonderfully with the vagaries of having 23 cassocked people wandering around, demands for 12 jugs of warm water and towels for washing of feet, and meals taken in silence.

Then we travelled from there to Ashbourne for the ordination service. Last years service of ordination to the diaconate passed in rather a blur in the Cathedral where there were 13 of us. This year we were split between the 2 Arch Deaconries and I was with 4 other people. That made for a far more intimate and personal service and it was wonderful to have priests from different stages of my journey all taking part in the service. When it came to the laying on of hands I felt well and truly laid on! The Bishop pressed down firmly and many others joined him in asking God's Holy Spirit to be poured out.

The following day was my first presiding at the Eucharist - a very moving and solemn occasion. It was a great joy to have my mother sister and an old school friend there as well.

One thing people have kept asking me is- 'do you feel any different'

I don't feel different but I am aware of the responsibility and that I am ordained by God for His work. Since the weekend I have also felt slightly out of kilter and wonder if that's tiredness or just adjustment to the new me!

I shall let you know how things go.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013


ast week I spent a few days in Devon at the wonderful Community of Mary and Martha at Sheldon. The community was set up specifically for clergy although they take other Christians and hold quiet days and conferences. I had a small apartment specifically kept for clergy and was able to spend the first three days in solitude, walking, praying and studying. My aim was to try and get my head around the next step- for on Saturday I shall be ordained priest. It seems strange to talk about getting my head round it- after all isn't that what the last few years have been all about? yet somehow with my ordination to the Diaconate and the year spent being a curate I felt I had got it- got what God had called me for. And so I have spent time trying to understand what this 'extra' is that I shall receive on Saturday. Yes I shall be able to take weddings and more importantly preside at the Eucharist- but it seems such a big deal over what feels like just two more functions of my 'job'. I use inverted commas because of course this is far more than a job. As an ordained priest I shall be changed- and perhaps only t the other side after the ordination will I be able to start to understand what that change is. It may be that it will take the rest of my life to really understand. So here I sit preparing to go on the Diocesan pre-ordination retreat with my fellow deacons and the new deacons to be ordained in the Cathedral on Sunday, and I still woder- what si it all about. My prayer is Father take me deeper into you, make me more fully what you want me to be and use me according to your plans Amen As I typed the use me- I was reminded of the words in the Covenant prayer of the Methodist church used each new year- " let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you," and I ask myself again am I really prepared to be laid aside as well as used. Only God knows what the future will bring, but I continue to pray that my life will be dedicated to being what God wants and doing what He wants. See you all at the other side.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Its a year!

It's a year tomorrow since my leaver's service at college. We then had a weekend of sorting and finishing packing before moving north to Derbyshire on the Monday. The time has flown by- so much has happened and yet my posts have grown fewer! Only 4 so far this year and only 14 after we moved. This is partly due to the nature of the work- I have to be far more careful in what I do blog. But it's more to do with time. yet we are all called to continue to reflect on our lives and ministry and blogging is a good way of doing so. So what has the last year taught me? That so much of ministry is about presence about being there with people, not necessarily doing or saying anything. That by being out among people at the local coffee morning, concert or other event God can use me. That how ever inadequate I feel ( and often am) my presence with a dog collar on is comforting and means something. That God is present in all sorts of situations that I wouldn't expect. My highlights of the year have been the schools work- assemblies, RE days and being around the schools. the joy of taking Home Communion to the housebound, hearing their stories and sharing with them the bread and wine which is so sustaining for them setting up a Toddler Group and beginning to see signs of growth walking alongside a couple as the 94 year husband slowly died and being involved in the funeral afterwards. And what about the lows: the feeling of relentlessness that assailed me at the beginning of lent losing my computer for 10 days making certain jobs difficult a mistake at a funeral But the joys far outweigh the lows! As I prepare for my ordination to the priesthood and I am back to feeling inadequate and small- but this week I found a text that used to be on my shelf while at college- its back above my desk again "God who has called you is... is faithful" 1 Cor. 1:9 I know that God has called me- I have never really doubted that, but at times I do doubt why He called me. but God is faithful and when we call on Him then we can be assured that he will answer, will strengthen and will encourage. Soon I will be off for a weeks retreat/ holiday. I am going to stay at The Society of Mary and Martha at Sheldon taking the first few days in silent retreat as I prepare for my priesting and then spending a couple of days visiting with old friends in Devon. This will hopefully be a time of refreshment and renewal before I return to this lovely place to continue my Curacy.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Lent and Easter 2013

Well thats it- Lent and Easter 2013 are over. (Yes I know we have Easter season for another 50 days but the Easter weekend with its gamut of services has come and gone. Back on the Monday before Ash wednesday I woke up with s sinking feeling and spent the day feeling quite low. It had struck me how relentless the life of a Curate is. On that Monday morning I woke conscious that having preached on the Sunday I now had to switch off those thoughts and switch on thoughts about the following Sundays services and also with a long list of tasks to do in order to prepare for all the services and events to come before easter Sunday. I made a list- and I prayed. On Ash wednesday it hit me that while feeling stressed at that moment, Holy week and Easter weekend would happen, and whether I had managed to get everything done or not, come Easter Monday it would be too late and all would be over. So as I awoke this morning it was with gratitude to God that with His help I ddi manage to get everything done, and now I can have a rest for 24 hours before starting again with planning for Sundays sermon, family service and the start of a new toddler group ! So what did I do over the last 7 weeks? I planned and led a Family service, I prepared and facilitated Experience easter over three days in church, I helped at a marriage preparation day, I went to two training courses for being a governor in school, I prepared two sermons and preached them, I prepared and led a reflective service in church,I led reflective service for the Mothers Union, I prepared a Palm Sunday praise for a village church ( but then had it cancelled due to 3 foot drifts of snow closing the road!), I visited the sick, took home communion to the house bound, helped at the Churches Together childrens club, attended PCC meetings, I led assemblies in 5 schools, went to staff meetings, I prepared and led an hour at the cross for good friday, and I deaconed at many other services. In other words I did all the normal work of a deacon with some extras thrown in. And I loved every moment of it despite that initial wobble 7 weeks ago. Now I'm tired but looking forward to having a fortnights holiday in France with my wonderful husband who has helped and supported me in any way he could over the last few weeks. Lesson learnt- that I can not do anything in my own strength but with the help of God I can achieve all he wants me to.

Thursday, 21 February 2013


As I sat in the parish church yesterday between Morning Prayer and the start of the mid week communion service I thought- how special Wednesday mornings have been for me for some years. Back when I first started worshipping at St Thomas Brampton and began the slow process of discernment towards ordained ministry the church would be open every wednesday morning from 9-12 for prayer and I set aside an hour every Wednesday to go and pray. It was a hard discipline at times but I benefitted so much from those silent hours in the church. This became especially inportant for the few months when I worked on a Sunday and so somtimes had to miss Sunday services. Then when I moved south to Devon and worked for the Methodist church I could only worship in an Anglican church mid week and so would go to their Wednesday morning communion. It gave me the roots in the Anglican church that I needed and I loved the gentle service with a dozen other people. I came to feel very much part of that congregation and valued my time among them. At college Wednesday's were group worship days so that rather than having morning prayer followed by communion we had an hour in Groups which we all took turns to lead a form of morning prayer, but with which we could be creative. Then in the evening we had our College Eucharist. So wednesdays remained a day set apart slightly different and still special. Now I am in a team ministry and so on Sundays can be in any of our 10 churches- and often in three on one Sunday! Mid week we have a Communion service and I am realising again how valuable that time is. I serve for the Celebrant (oh and set everything up before hand) but otherwise this is one service when I can simply rest in God not having to be responsible for anything. that will change after July when I will occasionally be the one celebrating, but for the most part it is a time to simply 'be' on God. As a prist that is something I need to continue to learn- how to be rather than do for God. We had a clergy Quiet Day on Tuesday- a time at the start of lent which the Bishop had arranged for us to come together and spend time learning, listening and being. The speaker- Stephen Cheey has written a book Beyond Busyness and he made mention of it in the last session reminding us that we are called to spend time with god bot rushing around doing all the time. This is cxomething I am trying to take to heart this lent. Next tuesday I shall have the opportunity of a quiet day for reading and will also spend some time with my Spiritual Director. I have also booked a week down in Sheldon to spend a few days before my priesting in quiet contemplation. I know that I need to spend more time with God as things get more involved in the Team and in my role as Curate.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

110 declared

When the oldest man in Britain was 105 his friends bought him a cricket bat with 105 not out on it. Today I acted as sidesperson at his funeral where it was said that he was now 110 declared. Reg Dean reached the age of 110 and 63 days before his death on the eve of the epiphany. I only met Reg once- on the eve of his 110th birthday and by then he was very frail and yet clearly still had a very active mind and a deep living faith. Since his death there have been a couple of news items about him and an articles in the paper, all of which made clear his deep and abiding faith in Christ. On the Sunday a week after his death the church celebrated the baptism of Christ and at all the services I attended Reg made it into the sermons. He was such a glowing example, not a saint but a very human man who showed how we can each walk with Christ day by day. He said in one interview that I heard that there were 3 questions he had asked in life- who am I, why am I here and where am I going. These questions are what the world asks and what we as Christians seek to answer through our own faith in God and study of the scriptures. Todays funeral was devised by Reg and as such had all the characterisitcs of the man. It included songs from the Dalesman Male voice choir which he had helped to found, readings of scripture and poetry, a tribute from his son and a homily from a friend. It was ecumenical with both URC minister and the Rector leading and was held in the Parish church as the largest building. The refreshments that followed were served in the local Methodist Church and had been prepared by the local cafe. There were TV cameras and reporters as well as the local radio there and yet it was a simple celebration of a well loved man just like the two funerals I will take next week. It has been a privelage to be part of all this , for it has been a joy to learn more about a man who walked with God for 110 years and who I am sure is now at rest and peace in the 'mansion' which Christ had gone to prepare.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Christmas New year and all that

Well I've finally got time to catch my breath after the Christmas rush- I did take a week off after Christmas but spent a lot of it sleeping or with family. So how was my first Christmas as a priest? One word- WONDERFUL I loved it all- from the social events which I went to in my role as Curate, to the Christmas fairs, to Home Communions with people too frail to get out to church but who were so grateful that we could come to them. Then there was the services- strange times being at the sharp end leading. I had to put together and lead two carol services and two crib services. But it was a wonderful experience leading others in the joy of the birth of our Saviour. I came out from each one satisfied with what had happened but already planning changes and improvements for next year. It was also wonderful on the Sunday between Christmas and new Year to go to a church away from my own and spend time worshipping and having no responsibilities. I am a queer mixture- I was raised in an Anglo catholich parish, spent many years in a charismatic free church returned to the CofE into an evangelical parish and then while in Devon refound my anglo catholic roots. College was broad though mainly liberal catholic and so I find my own spirituality quite a mix. In my present parishes the anglo catholic side gets well and truly fed but on Sunday I was able to indulge my evanglical side. It keeps me balenced and open to what ever God wants of me in future ministry. I'm now looking forward to 2013, to continuing to learn and minister in these 10 churches, to being ordained priest in June- only 6 months away now! Also to spending more time with my sons and grand daughter- it was a joy over Christmas to see 2 of my sons and to see my little grand daughter a couple of times. My middle son was working but is coming north in a couple of weeks so more joy. Now its time to return to preparing the Epiphany service for Sunday and looking at the textas for the following weeks sermon :)