Sunday, 30 December 2012

Just 31,622,400 ticks

 So here we are, lovely blog readers – we’ve made through 2012. It’s been an interesting year and I’ve come through with some knocks and scraps, and currently have a cough, but I think I’m a stronger, better person.

So let’s recap the year.  

I’m not going to go through month by month –because, to be honest, its mainly on here anyway. But here are some of my favourite memories and your favourite blogs – Spring Harvest, MYA, Greenbelt, London Baby, Worship maybe I haven't put your fave, sorry! 

But as one of the best read blogs of the year was my 6 monthreview I feel (see reflective practitioner really) you may want to know how my goals of 2012 worked out.
1, Get fitter and healthier - In a number of ways. 
a, Walk / run - aiming to do a 5k run for charity by the end of the year, (check! 42 minutes and £200 raised! Great way to spend a Sunday.)
b, Do more exercise in general - mainly on the Wii as well as walking. (fail, though did walk up and down over 300 stairs yesterday)c, Have a better daily routine - including eating breakfast more often. (still working on this one – though did get home the other night and put the clean clothes straight away, so that's an improvement)
2, Blog more - I'm not saying how regularly, but more often! (check – 68 blogs in the year including this one, not bad going)
3, Worry less about the future!!! 2012 is gonna be scary but worrying helps no one! (well I don’t think I’ve let it stress me out too much...)
4, Stop being so obsessed with marriage. (this one I swapped early on, and with 5 weddings and being asked to be a maid of honour in 2013 it wasn’t really going to happen
4,ii – grade 5 music theory (check, passed yay)
5, Be more fair trade:
a, Only buy clothes that are fair trade or second hand (mostly – I failed twice, once when I had a voucher if I spent £20 on clothes I’d get money off  petrol, and some stockings that I needed for a wedding - blame Simon!)
b, Give up non-fair trade chocolate.(fail, though given the choice and when I’m buying I’ll get fair trade)
6, Be wiser with money.
a, Reviewing giving - not give less but do more with what I give. (well I’ve done that in the past week...)
b, Review my spending. (had some slight cash flow issues, I need to be more careful with expenses)c, Make more sandwiches / packed lunches rather than buying them. (sometimes, something to work on)
7, Pray More! Lancashire district are having a year of prayer I'm hoping to get involved in a number of ways! First plan is to say grace more often before meals. Maybe find a spiritual director. (I’ve prayed more, try to say grace, acknowledging  God’s presence. Never found a spiritual director)Don’t know if that is complete, but nor so bad! 

So onwards and upwards.

There have been three things recently that have made me think of time.

I’ve just read a book by Rachel Held Evans called A Year of Biblical Womanhood. A year is a long time, and in her book Rachel tells how she lived a year out following 'Biblical ideals of womanhood', different targets each month, cooking, sleeping in a tent during her period, trying to sew, sitting on a roof. It’s a fab book and I’d highly recommend it. One of my favourite parts was the times she talked about her marriage. One thing I’d like to ensure in my relationship is the sense of team – as we would say ‘Team Matt and Rach’ (happy now Grandad?) when we had achieved something together.

Somehow this year I ended up helping my parents think about Christmas Presents for each other. My Dad bought my Mum a coffee making, also told her the price when he came into the dining room where me and Mum were asking who’d bought something from Groupon on the credit card. My Mum decided eventually to by my Dad an ‘experience’ so yesterday the four of us went up Manchester Town Hall Clock Tower. The hour long tour ensured we were at the mechanism of the clock at 2:45, and being able to watch the seconds tick away, and then in the room with the bell at 3pm. It was interesting to stand in a place that had been there for so long – I’ve never been very interested in history, but I do like being in places that are old and have a story to them. In this case they are on the second bell as the first one cracked and the numbers on the clock aren’t in fact numbers at all. The view from the top of the 173 steps was rather incredible, despite it being a grey day. (I know I said 300 earlier, that's because its 173 after you’ve got to the top of the building in the first place)

And then of course there was the end of time! I loved a Dr Who meme – where the Doctor is annoyed at people for thinking it was a mistake, rather than him who saved the World again.

Something I’ve learnt in the past week or so is not to expect things to end as I believe they will. A few days this week I’ve ended up staying at my parents on nights I was expected to be at home. Once as my parents were ill so I went off to look after them, the next time I was at the start of this cold so went to my parents two days early so I wouldn’t get iller and stuck at home, not being able to get ‘home’ for Christmas.Today has been rather lovely, waking up with boyfriend in the other room is once again a treat. Then the dedication of a beautiful baby boy, lovely lunch and then an afternoon of playing with Christmas toys, feeling sorry for myself and watching Downton Abbey.

So what a year! Who would have thought a year ago this is where we would have been.I liked having aims for the year, but this year I only have two!

Drum roll please.
1.                      Get on with Faith and Worship – this is my Local Preaching training! I only have a few years to do this, so I better get on with it. If I worked hard I could get it finished by the end of the year.

2.                      Cooking. One of things inspired by the A Year of Biblical Womanhood – and not because I believe a woman’s place is in the kitchen, but because I quite like cooking and would like to extend my range. So the plan is 12 new things, one each month. Think I’ll start with soup, and would like to make bread.

So bring it on 2013!

 One last thought! At church today we sung “this is our God the servant king” and earlier in the year I was thinking (and blogging) of how I could do anything more for God? But what this song pointed out to me today was that its about giving each day to God, who came to be our servant, He never asks us to do something he hasn’t done already himself. So day by day and month by month Let’s see what the new year shall bring.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Me, My friends and Christmas

I’ve always loved tests – by that before you label me as a geek I mean personality tests: Myers-Briggs, IQ tests, those sorts of things. I’m also a bit of a self-reflector – probably why I like blogging. Myers-Briggs usually puts me as an extrovert; it’s close, but certainly more extroverted than introverted. I do enjoy my alone time. Tonight I was walking home from work across Lancaster, trying to remember where I’d left my car, thinking about this blog. Similarly I love thinking when I’m driving, so much so that an old housemate (not old, well older than me, but a previous housemate) got me a notebook for my Birthday/Christmas and in it wrote “I thought you could keep [this notebook] in your glove box to record all the great ideas that come to you when you are driving (when it’s safe and legal to do so!)”

However it’s a bit strange at the moment to be on my own. I’ve spent about 40 hours this week at my parents house – the place people keep asking me when I’m going home for Christmas to, ignoring the fact I’ve never really lived there as they moved in ‘the year of all the house moves’ aka 2010. My parents are both ill, though Mum has managed to do a funeral today, so Tuesday evening I drove over there, after a wonderful 8 year old gave me some sweets to give to my poorly parents as I couldn’t go to his Christingle Service as I had to go home. This meant I was there ready to take parents to doctors Wednesday morning – the main reason for me going really, as Brother isn’t insured to drive them. Brother and I then got writing the Christmas cards – well he wrote (as he’s got mum’s neat handwriting) and I found all the names and stuck the addresses on the envelopes. We played many card games, I typed up the funeral talk and found out we couldn’t do a Tesco order, so this morning Brother and I went to Sainsburys, where he got double nectar points on the mammoth Christmas shop! What I’ve realised is that I would have had a very different childhood had I been a young carer, and Brother is better at it than me: he walked the dog, did some washing up and made me coffee.

It’s funny really. When Mum was the age I was now she had me. I would have been about 16 months at this point; I feel a bit young to be the caregiver of a child. Babysitting is ok, cuddling little ones at work is fine - I get to give them back. I also thought I would have a few more years before I had to look after my parents and to be fair to them, they are hardly ever ill, and should be well soon so life will be back to normal.
I’ve quite enjoyed buying Christmas presents. In my opinion there’s no point in earning money if I don’t get to share it with others I love. My kinda adoptive family have fed me most weeks of the year and one way of saying thanks and “I love you guys” is by buying them all gifts.

What I’m trying to say is that friendship is really important. I love my time alone, but I thrive best with other people, whether that be looking after my parents, playing card games with Brother or other friends, getting cuddles while reading the same book over and over again with a 2 year old and just the quality time spent with friends. We all need a bit of help sometimes - recently Boyfriend spent his day off helping me get on top of the washing up – cos he’s fab like that.

So this Christmas, if you manage to forget, it’s actually about Jesus being born. Remember it’s about love, friendship, being generous and hugs.

And if I don’t blog again before next Tuesday – Merry Christmas. 

Friday, 14 December 2012

time to blog

I’ve been spending quite a bit of time recently thinking about how I spend my time – ironic I know. I got in from work one evening recently, too early to go to bed, but too late to really start anything and thought about all the things I could do. I hadn’t bought my Christmas cards, I wasn’t really in a Christmassy mood so wasn’t ready to put the decorations up. I wanted to do something useful, I could have written a Faith and Worship essay for my Local Preaching training, I could have written a blog in the end I watched TV! Similarly on Tuesday – my day off - I spent much of it watching YouTube.

Since boyfriend moved out time is more complicated, he’s not so far away that I can’t go see him for a few hours. But it means we have to plan seeing each other. Soppy warning,  I really miss boyfriend in the evenings, getting in to an empty house is strange, and just sitting seems a bit worthless when he isn’t here. (ok I’ve stopped now – I blame my little Methodist Sister – she wanted me to blog).

It’s my birthday on Remembrance Day, this year Remembrance Sunday. Someone text me wishing me a happy birthday and asking what it’s like being a remembrance baby. I know other special birthday babies can like the day, knowing they will get cards on Valentines day, but I bet Christmas must be a pain, Remembrance day is rather odd, strange being excited on such a solemn day. I used to get excited by poppies, and mad as a child I had to be silent for two whole minutes. This year I spent remembrance day at church, it was rather a traditional service, which is to be expected I guess,  a chance for people to think about others they have lost in the wars. It wasn’t really for me, but I know some of the older folk of the church enjoyed it. I don’t want to talk about wars, but remembering is really important. Reflecting on what has happened, ensuring we go forward, by learning from the past rather than reliving it.

I was preaching last Sunday, and was able to use part of a sermon written 65 years earlier by my Big Grandad – Walter Harris. It was rather exciting to be able to say words that he said, all those years ago. I was very glad the lectionary was John the Baptist as at the point I was still a bit anti-Christmas, but since then I’ve got into the festive mood, my tree is now up – see the photo, that was Wednesday night’s job when I got in from one of the many Christmas themed messy churches. 

One of my birthday presents was a 5 year journal, with a question for each day of the year, and 5 slots to answer it, I’m really looking forward to being able to track my opinions, actions, thoughts and beliefs over the next 5 years.

I guess what I’m really trying to say is that I’m working out how to use my time wisely, 2012 has been a  big year for many reasons and that blog is to follow, but right now each day should be treated as a gift, and I need to work out how to use them to their best. Whether that be chilling, getting Christmassy, working hard, or remembering the past. 

Monday, 3 December 2012

Church, Messy or Otherwise

I may over use the word Church. When I was in first year at uni it was the word I used to describe, chaplaincy, chapel, CU, house group and Sunday morning services. Sometimes now I differentiate between work church, and home church, though coffee morning at church across the road is somewhere in the middle of that. My diary is obviously different, all my church activities have their fancy names, messy this that or the other, (either based on the place or kids club) groups based on acronyms and just the code in my diary so I know what is going on.

                Sunday morning Boyfriend went to his new local church and as I’d stayed at his new house the night before due to a wedding that I’ll come back to later, I drove past that church to get to my work church I was on the Sunday school rota for that morning. I also drove directly past one other Methodist church, and I know I wasn’t fair away from at least two others. Then driving home I went past another three (well the door of one and the areas of two). But I don’t really want to talk about buildings.

                Saturday Afternoon I was at the final wedding of the year – well not of all the weddings –but of the ones I’ve been invited to. This was number five of 2012 and was a Methodist wedding, in that the groom was on Youth Exec with me. The ceremony had Methodist in some ways, certainly a five hymn sandwich with a good Wesley one to start and end, even if the carol was sung slightly wrong. It also had parts of the Bride’s heritage – as it was at her church.

                This evening I’ve been at one of the many Messy Church events I work with. This one was probably the best attended of all the Messy Churches I’ve been to in this circuit, though still have one to try. I was stood watching the organised chaos tonight, and thought “this is Church” very different to the wedding ceremony on Saturday and the communion service on Sunday.

                I’ve always been a Methodist – mainly cos it’s in my blood, but also because I love the way we deal with differences, both in theology, and churchey-ness – I can’t remember how to spell the long work (ecclesiology maybe, think thats what it means anyway). Should I though always support my local church. Until I started working here I always attended my local Methodist Church, I’ve always walked or driven (or been driven) past an Anglican Church to get to church. Does that matter?  Should I not have a say into the worship style I want to engage with, the community I want to be part of. Messy Church is about making church relavant to families, a place they want to come to,to do craft, play games, learn about God and eat tea, as well as letting the parents meet with one another, share news and get a cup of tea.

                What I think, and it’s my blog so that’s what its all about, is that local communities are important, but worship styles and theology are also important in being able to engage with God. I often tell Churches’ to “find their niche” whether that be children's work, elderly work, teenage mums, hosting AA groups or anything inbetween.

                The advantage of working for a circuit is I get time to go to coffee morning at the church across the road, get Sundays off to go to a church of my choice and the rest of the time be challenged as I’m sent all over the place, all are church and God can be seen in all of them. 

Monday, 26 November 2012

Moving Out, Moving On

Mondays are always a bit strange for me. A while ago on Twitter there was a hashtag going round - #youthworksongs - and one changed 'Working 9-5' to a normal day of a youth worker, mine today would be 'Working 9-11, 3-5, 6:30-9:30, what a way to make a living'. But it's actually the gaps I want to focus on today. Monday is the last day of my working week, and as I worked last Tuesday (though technically had the Saturday of 3Gen off it’s my first day off in 9 days tomorrow. This is, however, the first time I’ve sat at my laptop all day, so emails will have to wait till Wednesday.

Anyway today!

Today was the day I’ve been dreading for quite a while. The day Boyfriend moved out. I knew as soon as he moved in that it wasn’t forever. We have always said we wouldn’t live together before we got married, but as he got his job in nearby city and no real time to house hunt before he started, he moved in and my study / guest room was occupied again.

Car has been playing up in the normal way today –but it's off to the garage in the morning so that should hopefully be the end of that! So any time I say 'so we/I drove here or there' imagine a few minutes of the car not starting to add to the stress. I got home from my exciting Monday morning meeting (not sarcasm, I really do enjoy it) to get the car packed up, Boyfriend was mostly packed, had sorted the details and soon we were on our way to letting agent office number 1 to sign paperwork, the cheap supermarket for lunch then letting agent office 2 to get keys. Then finally to the house, where Boyfriend met one housemate leaving for work and we moved stuff in, made the bed, unpacked the clothes, had lunch, moved the furniture, drove Boyfriend back to letting agent office 2 as there were issues with keys and I drove off back to work. 2 hours later, I have an hour and a half to kill and decide to look for a single friendly eatery (as you get funny looks in some places asking for a table for one); the local supermarket cafe stopped serving at 5 (it was 5:05 at this point) and my fave pub for eating in didn’t start till 6. So off I went to Indian takeaway for Chicken Korma. Realising at this point I had no cutlery and stealing from a supermarket cafe is wrong I went and found plastic cutlery to buy – so now I’m prepared for next nine times I need to eat takeaway in my car! It was also about this point that I had a fab chat with a great friend, who let me rant and work out how I was feeling –as well as making me laugh, before going back off to work.

Today is a sad day. (I'd bet that there aren't many relationships where moving out from your partner's house is seen as progress. It is quite nice to know we can live together, yes the house is a bit messy, and we argue about silly things but I still love that man. It has been a lovely couple of months, and we still aren’t about to dance up the aisle (Though my proof reader states “I'm not dancing up the aisle ever!” ), but I think we are closer, and realistically if he can move out when I’m working at 11 and 3, I’m pretty sure I’m going to see a lot more of him than I ever did when he lived in that other country.

So yes it's sad, but it's another step on our journey, moving on as well as moving out and I’m not going to become a wimpy missing him kinda person, I’m a hardened Long Distance Relationshipper who is, as Jason Mraz and Colbie Calliat sang, “Lucky [to be] in love with my best friend” 

Sunday, 25 November 2012

garage rant

I don’t often use names in blogs, and if I had evidence I would today, but as I don’t I’m just going to rant about an unnamed body shop type garage.

You may recall at the end of August I had a bit of a bump in my car, about 4 weeks later I got my car back good as new – or so I thought.

During the cold and wet times of year my car has a habit of not starting, or starting after a few times. Occasionally it starts first time, usually when I’m leaving my house – which is nice of it, and always when it is at the normal garage and they are trying to work out what is wrong.

Then today after leaving a work church after an exciting youth fellowship session – where they had remembered what I’d done with them months earlier! So left church to find car wouldn’t unlock with button, would unlock with key, but then wouldn’t start at all. Long and short of it is – after taking key apart and almost going back to collect other key we(well mainly the fab church member who works at the garage I go to normally) popped the bonnet and found the battery cable had come undone, but after fixing that, more concerningly (spell checker doesn’t think that’s a word but I can’t think of a better one) the battery hadn’t been screwed back in to where it should live. I’m not saying that the BODYSHOP GARAGE IN A NEARBY CITY RECOMMENDED BY MY INSURER is to blame, but the facts are my car was serviced in the summer by my normal garage and it was fine and now it’s not, and there aren’t many other people who have been under my bonnet.

All that being said the fab church member managed to get the battery back where it belongs and I managed to drive home – after a few goes as the other starting problem came back – but that is hopefully being fixed on Tuesday.

Ok rant over, so glad I was at that church and people were able to help me, just not impressed that it seems that my car wasn’t put back together right.

Also thought you’d want a shorter blog this time, not what I thought I’d be writing about today, but needed to get it off my chest. 

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Ode to a youth event

This isn’t an Ode, but “Essay to a youth event” doesn’t have the same ring to it. It is however a very long self indulgent blog, so really don’t feel you have to read it all, but if you want to please do, or just add your own memories of the past few youth weekends.

Yesterday was the end of an era.

Not sure I would describe it is as the end of a chapter as I don’t think my life works quite like that – as so much would overlap. And it’s not the end, but that’s another story .

Disclaimer! This is going to be full of Methodist Jargon – I will try to explain as I go along and may also be repeating stories I’ve told before, but sometimes you have to hear everything together.

Firstly, it was my birthday last week, that is important – but I’m not going to focus on that today, another blog there too.

When I started writing this blog I was sitting watching Strictly and eating take away (which I paid for despite it being Boyfriend’s turn to cook!) Yes, I thought I’d tell you as it’s always nice to know there is a happy ending. But I’m going to start my story about 11 years ago. The weekend of my 13th birthday. Donkey Derby was my first link to MAYC (as it was then) and Connexional Methodism, with the youth weekend. 
Skipping forward to summer 2006, a very important conversation happened as someone turned up at my front door trying to persuade me to go to Methodist Youth Conference (MYC). If I’d decided not to bother I think know my life would have been completely different. You’ll see!

So November 2006 a week after my 18th birthday I went off to Norwich in a car with two lads from my district. My memories include a youth pres in bright trousers, discussions on the Godfrey Report – with the exec members taking their tops on and off a lot! The posh meal on the Saturday night, lending an ecumenical rep my towel, sleeping on a school floor – and getting quite a bit of sleep. Being supported to go for exec – by lovely district boys. Hustings with questions about potatoes and streetlights, being voted on – and the moment the returning officer came to tell me I’d been voted in, the funny moment in the handover when the VP muscled in, and talking to the new youth pres on the stairs queuing for lunch.

5 exec meetings (including the legendary car journey with step by step 2 and the Save Methodist Youth Work petition...) and some YPS reference group meetings later and we were on the way to Cardiff. This was also the start of my fairytale. This was where I met Boyfriend; due to others being delayed I was the first to arrive at the station where I first saw him – he’d seen me a year earlier during Hustings in the big chairs that made me look even smaller than I am. That weekend is a blur of spending hours at the station, finishing the presentation about the YPS for the next morning – which included Harry Potter - and discussions that led to DYEs being suggested as a name for the employed people. There was pizza, worship, business, I even remember being told of by the chair for not being in the right place. This was the year we didn’t vote for a Youth Pres and gained 5 new exec members – most of which were new boys – rather than the experienced girls we were expecting.

Another year of Youth Exec meetings, Breakout, and speaking at Big Conference just before the big YPS vote.

Northampton was the last ever MYC. A strange event for many reasons. For one boyfriend and I got together less than a week earlier and no one knew. Little exec sister had made me a shell cake that those in the office enjoyed. The vote for the new Youth Pres was very close and was tricky for the exec to vote for – being between two of our own. We had workshops; I ran the “understanding MYC” session 3 times, as the first one started an hour early so had to do two more at the designated times. We launched the campaign for the Methodist Nunnery – as the mock resolution. My teddy sat on the main desk. And all of the exec girls (except maybe the new Youth Pres) and probably some of the lads cried through worship as we were the last ever exec. There was also lots of dancing that year, the returning officer was disappointed cos there was no custard and the exec all got dressed up very smart –the pampering in one of the girls’ rooms was great fun. I was driven to and from this weekend and was grilled on the way home about my relationship that was now out in the open.

It was at this point I decided that I needed some time out, so I took myself off the YPS reference group. The summer of 2009 I was asked if I would co-run the detached youth work team at Breakout the following summer and help facilitate at the first Youth Assembly (MYA). This led to some late night driving across England for the planning weekend of Durham.

Mid November arrived and so did more floods, but my car half full of delegates – as others wouldn’t come as their parents didn’t trust my car to get us to Durham –we did fine,  arrived late Friday evening at Durham. I must say this weekend is probably the low of the story. I know some young people enjoyed it, but it felt like a backward step – looking back what we had done was thrown the baby out with the bath water, wanting to move away from MYC to something new we lost something. This event also included tears, these more in frustration. Due to no one’s fault we didn’t have a full time youth pres to preside over the event, so much of it was adult led, the youth pres elections were very complicated and I remember a number of us were annoyed there was no grace at mealtimes! We learnt a lot that year. There were good moments too – late on the Saturday when the 18pluses who were staying on site (as many had to be put into a local hotel as the event was over booked accidentily) we ate ginger birthday cake out of a glass bowl, and talked about the usual Methodist geeky stuff.

Then we came to Breakout 2010 – another last. Though me and Oggy had a fab weekend with the Linkies, many of my memories were from the campsite rather than the event grounds, but one memory that will last a life time is when we turned the orchard into my late night garden, with tea lights in jam jars and LED balloons. It was truly special, the conversations, the games, the whole experience. All too soon the event was over and it was then that I was done with volunteering for the Methodist Church for a while.

MYA 2010 in Swindon was my first since 2006 that I didn’t have a job.  I missed having the office to hang out in, but I didn’t miss the stress. The train journey had been interesting.  The highlights included spontaneous and slightly rebellious worship that the VP’s Husband joined us for. I’m pretty sure this was a cry-free year! This was the first time I felt old - I had just graduated and being in a session about the future with 16 year olds was tricky. I also remember sitting in a window on a value continuum about Presidency. This was the first year we trialed the voting pads – who wants to be a millionaire style, and the team forgot Wales existed. I went this year wanting to be good enough that I wouldn't have to go again if I didn’t want to. After Durham I felt like we’d ruined MYC and replaced it with something worse, however after Swindon I knew there was still work to do, but that it would be as good (while being totally different) if not better than MYC.

Fast forward another 12 months and 3Generate (3Gen) was born  - the new name for Children and Youth assembly, starting at the age of 9 and going up to 23. So off we went to Ludlow railway station for a new way of working – this time as a member of the 18+ stream – and still not volunteering, but with a very different and distinct role- as the girlfriend of a Youth Pres candidate. I arrived late after a train journey that involved ukulele worship and so we missed the evening worship to eat food. I remember not sleeping well due to one room mate (mentioning no names – well not that I ever do, but you know) snored both nights. The sessions were challenging and I still have the final evaluation on my fridge, challenging me to be real – something I was challenged on in the preaching session and I meant to look into what I can do about Poverty. However my big thing that came out of that weekend, which led to me crying through most of worship including getting communion off the district chair who very delicately held my hand for a little longer than normal when handing me the bread and scaring an OPP as she handed me the wine, was planning for the future. Due to the fact Boyfriend did not become Youth Pres 2012/3 the future had been thrown open once again, at this point neither of us had a job past April. It was the next day that he started his Christmas temp job at his local pizza making restaurant. Just like to say what fab chaplains we have!

It was just after this that I decided I’d had enough years off and was ready to once again volunteer for the event. So I joined the 18+ planning group. I was also invited as a youth worker to join the 8-17s consultation group, as this was the new way of getting the children and young people to plan the event.
So Friday finally rolled up and off I went to get a bus, 2 trains and a minibus to somewhere not very far from a place I used to call home. After checking in, being shown to my room by a hansome steward, designing a mug, finding some tea it was time to go to the all2gether and be2gether, the funky names for the opener for everyone and worship, we were in gen groups – I was facilitator of gen group 26! (Which has just occurred to me that that was something we’ve played with over years - like the dinner tables at Durham, and is something that was very MYC.) After that we watched some of Children in Need, then bed!

Saturday started with me getting up first, having a shower and making a cup of coffee before breakfast, where I had cereal! Then me and my co-worship leader led worship and I did the longest notices ever and we played human bingo with a twist. We heard Mumford and Sons sing I will wait, and I believe the aim was for us to think about us waiting on God, but for me the night before I’d kinda been winded by God’s presence – just like whoosh! Wow God is here! So for me was like God singing I will wait to me, that he’s always there waiting for me to engage, not intrusive but patiently waiting for me, for us to want to be with him. This was followed by a very interesting session about living sustainably and everyone I’ve spoken  to about what they were taking away from the weekend who talked about the input mentioned this session. The video about the no impact man was so incredible, could you imagine not using lifts, trains, the tv for a whole year? Apparently it brought the family closer together, but wasn’t always easy.  After the bacon butty break we got into the cohabitation session, this again was really interesting discussing our definition of cohabitation and looking at some case studies, obviously with such a topic you have to be careful with what you say, unfortunately Boyfriend (who was leading this session) told everyone I couldn’t enter the quiz as ‘I’ve already done it with her.’ The laughter started when someone realised what he said and it slowly went around the room with me getting redder and redder. After this was lunch – a rather unappetising chicken casserole. After that it was time to set up for the justice village, when one of my MWiB friends came to join me to talk to young people about Children Unite, to get people to sign gloves, draw around their hands and find out more about child domestic workers. This did mean I missed grill the youth pres candidates’ session.
After setting down the justice village I arrived a few minutes late to the relationships sofa chat. It was great that young people can share experiences, questions and confusion while throwing a duck around the room. A nice chat with the expert facilitator about another event I had seen him at was very helpful, and then off to tea which was very quiet as we were eating later than the younger groups. Then there was a session that never happened followed by a chat about the day, which led to conversations slightly later about how we adapt the event to what people want. We left the room so that some people could pray and had time to chat with people before it was time to go on the bouncy slide / assault course, where I raced twice without my glasses and came 2nd both times –out of 2, with my competitor finishing before I’d even got to start the last climbing wall / slide. I also hurt my hip.

After this the exciting late night chats happened, a group choosing not to go to worship but instead try and tease out what we thought God was saying about what we had to do – in this case using our passion as a form of discernment, pushing on doors to see if things were possible. Thats all I’ll say now but things are afoot. I went to bed late after staying up till Boyfriend was allowed to go to bed then late night chats in our bedroom, about boys, the day, voting, Methodism, and other such things you’d expect in a girls dorm.
Sunday morning felt very early, we stripped beds, packed, saw a beautiful view over the misty lakes and got our cooked breakfast J. Then it was time for voting, before going off to our own 18+ room for the final session about PEGs – Personal reflections on the weekend, what we are going to take to our home church Environment and how that is all held together by God the hinge. The planning team then read the evaluation forms, seeing what we thought we had totally planned was not understood the way we saw it, but hey, that event management for you.

Closing worship was fab, time in our Gen Groups looking at the covenant prayer, that I know I’ve blogged on before, and I only very nearly cried once – when asked what I had taken from the weekend. And communion in mixed groups which meant I got to sit between two good friends, one who gave me the bread and the other the wine – as I was opposite the chaplain who had started with both. Worship over it was time for food, and the long goodbyes. I also went in hunt of my mug, that I had to go though the bin to get back. We left the venue on a bus of friends, got the 3 trains back, and even though it was 9 minutes late we made our first connection as the train we needed was behind it! I got Hot Chocolate at the station I hate the most, and then walked very fast across local city to get the bus, and home about 6ish! Boyfriend who I’d told had to cook tea as he got home an hour before me decided we would order take away. My mum rang and I mumbled about being tired down the phone at her, so she said she’d ring another time, and I went off to bed. Shattered after a very long but amazing 6 year journey.

If you have made it to this point then you deserve a medal! At 2828 words this is my longest blog ever I’d think. I assume if you’ve got this far you are part of the journey somewhere so thank you got your part and here’s to the future, cos you never know what might happen next!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Him, Me, Us

               Having a boyfriend for a housemate has enabled me to learn much about myself, him and us. Today I've spent time with Aunty/Godmother, Uncle and 3 youngest cousins (can’t say littlest as they are all taller than me now).  While we were out I left them in a charity shop while I ran off to a future brand to buy boyfriend new socks. Now this is the first time I can think of that I've bought boyfriend clothing for necessity – rather than as a present. I commented on this to Aunty when I returned after successfully purchasing socks – though still waiting to see if Boyfriend likes them. I’m now obviously in a grown up relationship!
                I've just got back from Sweden (which is what I kinda assumed today’s blog would be about) but I’m not really going to tell you about that today. When I was away though Boyfriend has had some big decisions to make – similar to deciding to take current job which is why he came housemate too while I was at Soul Survivor. This time it was the consequences of a phone call that probably happened while I was in the air to ask if he wanted to look around a house! I know he wished I’d been around this week, in the same way I feel when at Christian events and it feels like God is doing big stuff – Boyfriend is such a big part of me that he should be there. Boyfriend does seem to make big decisions about life when we aren't together – we got together after a weekend of soul searching and big questions at Tresaith – when I was having similar thoughts at a youth weekend. Like I said the interview was when I was in Stafford and now a house while I was in Sweden – maybe if I go away for longer he’ll decide to marry me!
                We had a very weekendy weekend a couple of weeks ago. Saturday started with a mad rush to find a postbox to send my Grandad a 70th birthday card. The afternoon included a trip to the supermarket, a diy shop and a fabric shop, and boyfriend cleaned the kitchen.
                I’m very lucky to have a boyfriend who puts up with my stress, last night my car wasn't starting and he just sat there rubbing my back and offering me garlic bread! I love being an ‘us’ with him. It’s funny for years we've mocked our friends who have lived near each other who couldn't cope with a few days apart and I don’t think we have turned into them, but it was very nice to be back in his arms yesterday after just 80ish hours apart. It will be interesting to find a new normal with him living nearby but not just in the other room. Living together has taught me a lot about us, it’s made me even more certain that boyfriend is the one I want to spend my life with.  We complement each other, him chopping, me cooking, him washing up, me putting away, though we are both messy – he blames me, but if it really bothered him he’d tidy it! I’m bossy and he’s dealing with that, he’s laid back and I’m dealing with that. I’ve learnt he can’t do mornings, so not to expect breakfast in bed, he’s learnt that when I’m tired I’m no use to anyone, not to annoy me when I’m driving and I've learnt not to bother moving the shower head any lower cos it’s just a waste of time. He has though come round to my way of putting the toilet paper on the holder.
                It’s going to be strange when he’s moved out, living alone again, but this time I know it’s not forever, cos one day we’ll move in together, for good. 

Friday, 19 October 2012

Chance Encounters

Yesterday seems to have been full of chance encounters.

On my journey into London yesterday morning on the train I was entertained by two children who were bored on their 5 hour train that ride that didn’t even finish at Legoland! (they had another train and a bus to go!)

Then on the walk to meeting building from train station I smiled at someone who looked like Jude Simpson – an author and poet who’s been at Greenbelt at some point in the past.

After lunch and presentation, I popped up to almost the top floor for a planned nice chat with boyfriend’s best friend. Which was very lovely but planned so not actually a chance encounter..

Then a quick unexpected chat with a friend and ex-colleague also on that floor, who I thought was out of the building that day, so it was a nice surprise she was there.

Next a visit to someone’s desk who wasn’t there, but is someone I want to meet at some point – the one encounter I’d hope would happen and didn’t – though wasn’t planned so it wasn’t her fault she wasn’t in today.

Just as I was about to leave the building I randomly bumped into an old 'Aunty', it was very nice to have a quick hello and find out about life.

On the walk about the station I have a lovely positive but short conversation with someone from the meeting  who was passing me on his bike, who really put my mind at ease about the presentation that I had done.

Because of all those encounters – chance or otherwise I arrived at the station about 2 minutes before they announced the platform, but then got stuck behind slow people dragging suitcases, however, I still able to get a table – which is where I was when I did the first draft of this blog!

Then after that – and I promise this is the last ‘then’ - I popped to the shop on the train and saw a friend who I’d not seen in quite a while – another exciting chance encounter

One of the many things Chick (Yuill from LICC who we have been working with at work) has said in all of the many Imagine meetings is that when we meet someone with leave something, (like our DNA) every contact is traceable. That’s what CSI is all about. So whether it's a chance encounter with someone that makes it all ok again, a smile with a stranger who looks like a poet, or a planned ‘coffee’ with a friend, they all make up our days, our time and therefore the things that make our lives, and make us who we are.

So I hope as we go, we share a word of encouragement, a smile or a coffee, as every interaction can make a day. 

Monday, 15 October 2012

Don't worry, be grateful

I preached (badly) on Sunday night and said sometimes if feels like the world is a dark place – going on to talk about Jesus being the light of the world. I talked about not wanting clich├ęs (but I’ve already blogged about that). Then tonight a house group we were talking about how we use our skills, time, and talents as well as money. The conversation moved on from what we plan to what we worry about, as well as sharing and praying through some of the concerns of our church family.

This weekend I was at a MWiB Millennium Development Goals (MDG) day – Hope for Creation. We learnt about the issues surrounding climate change, and challenged in our selfishness, and our understanding of what we deserve and want and what we need. It is also incredible to be part of a movement that prays and stands and sings out against oppression, in solidarity with others and to show their love for one another, God and the World.

I got to spend the weekend with Brother – as he lives near the venue for the MDG day, it was the usual fun of pizza, Big Bang Theory, essays and church. The latter of which was harvest, and there was a table of need, where we remembered that others don’t have spare tins to give away – or clean water. I was a bit uncomfortable as there was no mention of farmers in the UK until the prayers near the end. Maybe I am rural now!

All of these together have made me realise how grateful I should be. Life can be hard, but right now life is ok! We can often look around and see people worse off than us. My house is a bit messy, not so messy that it needs a whole day on it, just at the stage that my Mum would say “little bit little bit little bit gets it done.” Things aren’t so bad that they can’t be fixed. I want to search out for the God things in life, but right now I need to do the washing up, cos that is a small part of the world I can make a better place. And (soppy note) I do love my housemate and it’s always worth making him happy by doing the washing up.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Dead Good

This blog has spoilers from last week’s Doctor Who and the first episode of Hunted, and maybe Jesus Christ Superstar – if you don’t know the story of Holy Week.

I’ve been thinking recently about death. I’m not trying to be morbid I’m just thinking Is there such a thing as a good death?

I sometimes get emails that are titled ‘sad news’ these are often from the district office telling of a Superhuman who has died. And this week I got an email from the circuit local preachers secretary saying we had lost one of our own.

There seems to be a lot of death at the moment. My life often goes in waves, there’s a few months where everyone gets engaged, then we have months of weddings, or everyone we know is pregnant – they aren't but it feels like it. But right now it seems to be there is a lot of death around.

Boyfriend and I watched the first episode of Hunted yesterday on iPlayer. It’s a show where a lot of people were shot, but the most significant death was that of the unborn child when the mother ( the main character) was shot in the stomach. She then goes on to be undercover pretending to be an American whose husband and son died and is now teaching a young boy whose mother committed suicide last year. The conversation with the father was an obvious pointing out to the phrase ‘I lost my wife’ going on to say something along the lines of ‘well that’s silly, she died’

On a side note it was rather exciting as that scene was filmed at the boat house in Regents Park where boyfriend, his best friend and I had hired a pedalo the day before. (Obviously the day before we watched it, not the day before they filmed it).

Doctor Who last week – which again I watched via the internet after the event - was yet again all about death. Most episodes with Rory in seem to though! After watching Rory die in a life that had been all on his own it was great to see Rory and Amy’s name on the same tome stone dying at an old age. For The Doctor they have died, but actually we know they have lived a long life together.

Death is sad as it takes out the future, all the plans and dreams. So much in life is about second chances and re-sits, death shocks us as there is no going back. I've heard stories recently of people coming to terms with terminal illness, and have really felt at peace. How incredible.

Even the word dead we use to mean so many things – 'dead tired', 'dead on my feet' and 'like death warmed up' are all phrases we use when we are not our best. But 'dead happy' and 'dead on' both seem to make less sense, very happy, right on. Why use dead at all?

When I was told about the local preacher who had died the other person with us made some comment about him dying on his own terms, in his own house, not having to be in hospital, not losing his independence. A good death?

Last night Mum, Dad, Boyfriend and I went to see Jesus Christ Superstar. It was such an incredible production. Bringing the story right up to date, and with Tim Minchin, Chris Moyles and Mel C (who was always my favourite Spice Girl) all I can say is WHAT A SHOW! The one thing that bugged me was how it ends with death. I often joke that we can forgive in church as that is what our faith is all about, but maybe it’s more about death and life. And by that I mean life before death as well as after death. My faith has never been about a get out of hell free card, I’m not sure it would matter if there was no heaven or hell, and that living my life to the full in a way that enables others to live too is enough for me.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

What to blog

This is the second blog I’ve written about my weekend, but decided after writing 429 words in the previous one that I wasn’t happy with it so here is Mark II.

I spent this weekend with 35 other members of the Methodist Women in Britain (MWiB) Connexional Forum.  The forum is made up of a rep from every District, the five executive members (Pres, VP, communications, finance and recourses and Area pres), a representative from Women’s World Day of Prayer (for England and Wales – apparently Scotland is different) and - as of Sunday when we changed the constitution the Helen Kim Memorial Scholar – me! I’ve been going to the previous forums as a non-voting member.

There was much business to be done and if you would like to know about that then please ask and I can let you know, but I’m not going to focus on that. However a piece of business that I was looking forward to was the social media policy – and when this was agreed it meant I was allowed to tweet during the sessions.

As well as business the important part of our time together is that of worship.  We started and ended our time together with worship – well that's not totally true, it was lunch, but you know. The theme of all opening and closing worship as well as evening (which I led) and morning prayers was ‘When words are not enough’

My original blog went into detail about how this was done, but I hope you understand why I have taken this out. There is something about being a part of forum, a powerful group of women who are all very different from all across the Methodist Church in Great Britain. This was our fourth meeting and despite there being some substitutes and new faces we are still bonded as a group. So even if I had their permission to share the stories here I don’t think I would want to, as its special. The time together, the care for each other. We laugh and we cry together.

I would always hope that worship is about sharing our lives with each other as well as with God. In that time and in that place. So I probably could tell you of the garden shown one morning, but it wouldn’t mean as much as you don’t know the gardener.

I usually write about my story, but I don’t think there is just a my story. My life is so intertwined with others.  Even more so with technology now a days. Writing this is finding a balance between sharing who I am, and not sharing too much of others.

I will however tell you about the final song we sung  (496 from singing the faith) which I fell in love with the chorus –
“All around us we have known you,
All creation lives to hold you.
In our living and our dying
We are bring you to birth”
Bernadette Farrell (b.1957)

So I join with the other women of the movement, as we join with the rest of our church, are other Christian sisters and brothers across the world and with all creation to live to hold God.

To check out what the President said about the weekend find her blog here Saturday and Sunday 

Monday, 24 September 2012

someone parked in my space!

I know I've said before that I'm a bit of a control freak, but I'm also a creature of habit. You also need to know that I live in a place where the houses are in one part and the parking spaces are in another part. There are more spaces than houses and every house has one parking space.

I was driving home on this very wet night from my youth club and arrived back at home, but as I drove up the drive I noticed someone parked in my space. This unnerved me. And at first I wondered who was visiting me. I normally just go straight into my space, but am glad I wasn't so much on autopilot that I drove into them.

Now its not the end of the world, there was somewhere else to park, but it felt strange, walking to my house from a different side, and thinking that someone else's car is in my space. I know I rent this house and its furniture, but it does feel like mine, my house, my stuff, my parking space.

I'm not sure why it unsettled me so much, but I know I think things through by driving or by blogging, and as driving wasn't an option the latter became my plan.
Maybe it's just cos it wasn't what I was expecting, and it was out of my routine, but Someone parked in my space!!!!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

impulsive or indecisive

I’ve always had issues making decisions. Mostly because I am indecisive, but also because I’ve grown up in a society where I can have it all – or at least one of a number of options. However when I have made a decision I stick to it, and then generally make it happen straight away.

Let me give you an example. When shopping for food I like to know in advance what I’m going to be eating, and over time I’ve got favourites and regular meals, so now it’s really easy to pick up what I need. When shopping with Boyfriend the other week it took longer as he kept adding options – usually to make it cheaper, but it meant I had to rethink and re-decide.

Yesterday I decided that I was going to have half term off – as there is currently nothing in my diary (which I know as I plotted my wall planner over a week ago now) and that I was going to go to Sweden. After being a bit jealous that I wasn’t taking him with me Boyfriend commented that I was impulsive. Now I don’t think that I am, he just hasn’t seen my thought process over the past year. Ever since I got back from South Africa I’ve been working out where I can fly to next. I love flying as it’s the only form of transport that I don’t get sick on. I also enjoyed going to the Paralympics as I got to go through the airport style security. And now I have a passport I am ready to go! Also about a year ago Best Friend moved to Sweden for University, and I’ve been saying that I’d like to visit her – add to that the fact I missed her in the summer when she was in the UK cos I was shattered and ill. So really it makes logical sense, it’s just that someone who hasn’t been through the year long thought process and just saw me yesterday where I decided to book flights to Sweden and did.

It is because I am rubbish at making decisions that when I do I run with it and make it happen. So maybe I am impulsive, but I think it’s just cos I’m indecisive first.

Monday, 17 September 2012

So far so good

I apologise before I even start that this may be a bit of a soppy post.

Driving home from work tonight I was thinking about the past two weeks of living with Boyfriend. He’s working late in Preston at one of the projects connected to the charity he’s working for, and we decided I wouldn’t pick him up as he could get a bus and it would be miles out of my way. It’s just strange, I’m now worrying about him, what if something happens on his way to the bus station, or on the bus. It struck me as I was driving the route his bus will go about 2 hours later, that his safety and happiness is very important in my happiness.

When people ask me how living in the same house as Boyfriend has been I answer “so far so good.” He put it best in his blog “I like having someone to make me breakfast, and someone to do the washing up for.” I’ve learnt a number of things, for one, I’m more of a morning person than he is – and therefore he’s not going to make me breakfast, but he will take the bins out. We’ve always had a number of rules in our relationship, from the prescribed ones about what to do if we get disconnected while on the phone (the person who made the original phone call calls back) to the unwritten rules like the way we have taken it in turns to read a chapter of the book we are reading each night at the moment. Living together has led to more rules, who does what, what needs to be done by when. My housemates at University struggled with living with me at times, I know this was cos we were all expecting to be on the same page with how a house runs, but we weren’t until we actually talked about it, rotas were set up and instructions were written out, we still had our arguments, but rules made life easier.

Living together isn’t really the plan, but I’m enjoying having someone in my spare room again, someone to do the washing up and someone to eat tea with. Mine and Boyfriend’s skills are also quite compatible, for instance he is ace at finding bargains and packing bags while I choose what we have to eat, and have done much of the cooking – though Boyfriend can and will when I’m busy. I think my favourite moment is the day he brought me sandwiches – cut into triangles to my room when I was busy working.

Boyfriend should be on the bus now so I better go get moving, I did the washing up earlier, but I might as well put the stuff on the drying board away and put the oven on so he can have some tea as he’s been feeding homeless people all evening, and then have a look for the plasters as he injured his finger this evening. As I said his happiness is important to mine, which may sound selfish when written that way, but that is the joy of loving and being loved and I know I’d do it even if he didn’t do all the things back (that's not reason to stop though Boyfriend). It’s not often I do this much house work – so it must be love!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Is this the real life?

One of my typical lines that my friends get is, when will my life get back to normal? (alongside grr printer) or my life isn’t this mad normally!

I mentioned in my blog the other day that the day before Greenbelt I had a bit of a disaster. I’d been house sitting with many many animals and popped home to find the boiler that had been emptied the day before, while we (me and Rob the plumber who I know well now) waited for the important heating / electrics part to arrive, had filled up over night and then leaked out of the gap where the new part would do, and my hallway was raining when I walked through the door. So I rang the letting agent, and then my Mum! I sat while water dripped into my pots and pans. It took some time, but was all fixed by 4pm! Me and Mum sucked the water out of the carpet with a carpet cleaner and then Letting Agent came to have a look at the damage and decided to bring in a dehumidifier.

Lets jump ahead, past Greenbelt, and the car accident ‘bump’ to Thursday and Friday of last week (so just over a week ago now) when I went with Boyfriend, Mum, Dad and Brother to London. There were two things that we did while in London. On a windy day much earlier in the year Dad and I decided we wanted to go to the Paralympics so he booked the five of us tickets to athletics. It was a great morning. Cheering members of Paralympics GB, including watching someone win a Bronze medal. I’ve seen it tweeted that it makes us rethink the term 'dis-abled'. What an incredible group of people. Inspiring the next generation, and reminding us all that nothing is impossible. I’m also so glad to have said I’ve been there, and got the water bottle.

The night before the four of us went to see ‘We Will Rock You.’ A powerful musical set in the future where everyone lives on the internet and music is banned – which is a little silly as they all sing all the time. It talked about how High School Musical and Simon Cowell wrecked the music industry. The moving song about musicians who died young was my highlight. They obviously used ‘is this the real life’ to challenge the perceptions of the internet culture. This reminded me of one of the talks I went to at GB – the one by Vicky Beeching. She very cleverly linked social media and worship, the point that struck me most was about authenticity and the Fall – how Adam and Eve shared everything, and then hid things and re-designed themselves after the gift of knowledge. Also how we use the internet to be like God, our search to be all knowing, or hope to be omnipresent – the way we can be with all our friends all the time and never turn our phones off. Not that social media is a bad thing, but is a very interesting insight.

So maybe this is normal, it’s busy, it’s hectic, it throws or rains all sorts of surprises at me but this is real life!

Monday, 3 September 2012

after bump thoughts - control, perception and lying

Firstly and most importantly I am fine.

Here are just some of my thoughts – possibly three blogs worth but I’ll see where I get to – from being in a car accident.

I’ve had a phone call today saying that my car is being stripped down to check for internal damage, and if its bad they could be writing my car off – so maybe bump was an understatement.

I’ve spent much of the past few days telling people I’m not injured, companies ringing me up asking me about my claim. If I’ve told them once I’ve told them at least seven times now. I’ve been taught not to lie. We live in a culture that is all about blame. I’ve been told many times that the other driver has taken the blame – which as I was stationary and he went into the back of me isn’t really disputable, and that it is good he is to blame. Funny you can find good things about the guy who drove into me. Though, to be honest he was a lovely guy and was very nice, though think my shaking scared him a little bit.

After the bump, I found a road around the corner and waiting there for my parents to arrive, while I rang the insurers and started the process. Then we drove, with Brother now in my car with me back to theirs. Most of the journey Mum and Dad followed me in their car, just to check the back wasn’t about to fall off my car, or something like that! When they weren’t and as I drove to the garage the next day I was very aware of what others might think of my car, and therefore of me – will they think I’m a bad driver. I’ve been thinking about make up recently (don’t worry there is a link). Make up is something generally girl wear, and it’s not really about how they see themselves, as they can’t see it, its similar with hair styles, though of course with longer hair it is easier to see – and I know I like it when I can see the blue in my hair as my hair is a decent length. So its not about how we look, but how we are seen and therefore perceived. We use words in a similar way, I talk about Boyfriend ‘moving into my spare room,’ rather than saying we are going to be ‘living together.’ If you followed me some weeks you’d think all I did was have coffee with different men – but that’s just working for the church for you.

My 3rd main thought about the bump is about control. I know I’ve said before I’m a bit of a control freak. My first thought as the van went into my car was, oh the car is moving, I need to stop that. When Boyfriend and I got train to London on Thursday morning we were sat in the ‘entertainment carriage’ which means you get a tv screen on the back of the seat infront of you – like on a plane and so I spent much of the journey watching were we are on the map, this was something that I loved on the plane to and from South Africa, especially the moment middle of the night when we were over the Sahara Desert. Spending time in London my parents seem to prefer the bus to the tube – and walking along the Thames most of all! I prefer the tube, you can follow where you are on the map, I know how it works. Buses are a bit more unpredictable. Boyfriend and I were talking to someone over the past few days about living in London. Boyfriend would love to, though I think he is also looking forward to being able to walk in the beautiful countryside around me, whereas I’m more of a ‘towny’ who is coping with rural life.

The bump shock me cos I was out of control in the one place I feel most in control. Similarly on Wednesday when I picked up my shiny hire car I felt slightly out of control, the corsa being that bit different to my Getz. And now waiting to hear how my little car is, I'm out of control.

So I’m vainer that I think. As always I’m a control freak, but I’m no liar. Let’s just see what the next step is and pray they don’t write my car off.

Added - 14:27 on 3.9.12 - just had a phone call, car is fixable. Prayer works!

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Back to Earth with a Bump!

There are sometimes in life when something happens and everything else has to revolve around that. It’s usually something major, and generally life changing – but sometimes it’s just a small thing. My next few blogs are going to be about one thing that happened. The ideas are written down the side of a Sudoku book and might be five blogs, or might just be two or three if I condense them.

But this blog is just the start, setting the scene so to speak.

Last Thursday night despite everything that Thursday threw at me (and that story will be in another blog in this series – you’re getting interested now aren’t you) I managed to drive over to my parents’ house to do the final prep and pick up the important things – like my brother and the camping stove, ready to drive to Greenbelt in the morning.

For those of you who don’t know Greenbelt is a Christian Arts and Justice Festival, held at Cheltenham Race Course on August Bank Holiday weekend. This was my 4th year there.

I go for a number of reasons:

Friends! Firstly it’s an event that I get to see many of my Methodist friends at. I also bought tickets for a group of 12 and most of us camped together which was really nice. As well as randomly bumping into people (interesting use of word there – totally different bump to that in the title, it’s my blog so I get to reflect as I go along ok?) It is always nice for the prearranged hot chocolate, and orange juices with people, catching up and three times meeting friends’ new girlfriends.

Worship – Now I know I’ve said before that I go to a number of different festivals throughout the year and worship isn’t the first thing I think of usually when planning my greenbelt, however this year had two worship highlights for me. Firstly communion, I love sharing bread and wine with family, friends and strangers alike, as well as blowing bubbles, doing silly action songs and reflecting on seeds. As well as the challenge to ‘Bring ‘em all in to my heart’ when singing about the lost and the least. Secondly was Andy Flan and his powerful worship, for which Boyfriend felt a bit unprepared as I cried over him for quite a while. Sometimes life is sad, I was having one of those evenings last night too. I love being a part of the sisterhood that is MWiB, but as you get when you bring people and in this case women together life happens and pain is there. The leadership in our movement are generally having a rough (understatement) time. I’ve struggled recently to get my head around death, struggled with God, I struggled at Soul Survivor with some of the imagery often used in regards to the Holy Spirit. So after the story of the woman at the well, who was so hurt yet loved by Jesus I knew I had to let God in, and I wept. Crying for a future that will never happen, a family travelling the hard road of grief, and for myself, to enter back into God’s loving arms, to be held and loved as the Child of God I am.

Talks. GB has some brilliant speakers, some I agreed with, some I disagreed with, some who I thought were just brave to turn up. I was challenged in my opinion on the Press and Leverson. I learnt about ethical weddings – and not only did Boyfriend suggest I attend that one, he also came with me! (think when I do eventually get married then the ethicalness of my wedding will appear in a blog them – that will be another time when my whole life will revolve around something) I enjoyed Vicky Beeching’s talk about social media and worship, and will come back to that in another blog. It was also great to see Boyfriend being interviewed about his trip to Israel/Palestine.

Music. Apart from Paul Bell who I love a lot there wasn’t much music I had intended to go out of my way to see. I did however enjoy The Proclaimers, Bellowhead, Fischy music and of course Folk On.

Film. Now this is Brother’s fave part of greenbelt I think. I joined him for the Film Review of the Year which I enjoyed last year too, and having only seen about five or so films this year and Gareth Higgins liked most of them I think I did well. With Cousin 5, her Boyfriend, Brother’s friend (why are we playing around me?)and Cousin 5’s friend from Spring Harvest, we entered the film quiz, under the name ‘The Lord of the Quizes’ and came about middle which was good as we guessed most and refused to take part in the singing round. Brother and his friend (Wawpam) were also busy helping the people from the BBC with some of their film events and even saved the day with Brother’s Mac when other technology failed. This all lead to something very exciting that I will tell you about in the next paragraph – so not so long to wait.

Comedy and poetry. I’ve clumped these together. Harry Baker and other poets did a brilliant job, I particularly liked the female poets at the Woken Spured event. This year I’ve been to less comedy than other years. I did start this year with Paul Kerensa talking about Climate Change, in a informational and funny way. Then every day ended with Last Orders, it was mostly funny though ‘as the actress said to the bishop’ was just awful! Each night was different but my highlight has to be Sunday night when Brother and Wawpam got to go on stage and explain about the film competition. After saving 18 seats, and going back to find the memory card for the camera and Mum even staying up late to watch it, Brother, Wawpam and their Hawaiian shirts talked to about 3200 people! Very Proud Big Sister Moment! Having said that when we were walking back to the tents after that my piggy backpack got more comments that Brother did, but that’s the fickleness of fame for you!

Camping and mud. I love camping, I could have done without so much of the mud and rain that caused it, or the leaky tents by the end of the weekend. But all in all it was a fab time.

So after leaving Paradise – the theme of the weekend, I dropped Cousin 5 off at the train station and started to drive to Chepstow. And that’s when a van went into the back of my car. BUMP!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Big Steps and Stillness

There are some times in my life when it feels like God is really trying to teach me something. Though sometimes when you have those life changing experiences you need to remember them, and particularly my blog (in general, not just this post) is about that – remembering what I’ve learnt or thought about.

I’m not really sure what started this blog post – it may have been something I read on Jill Baker’s blog but I was thinking as I drove through Wales on Friday about moments of stillness. There is one part of the journey, driving through a valley (obviously said with the welsh accent) that the radio goes off, and it’s just me and my thoughts.

At one of my many interviews this year I was asked about my hobbies and I talked about training for the 5k, blogging, and how I enjoy driving. They – the interview panel – commented that these were all individual activities, ones that I do on my own, and asked if I was contemplative. Now I currently live alone – well kind of, I’m currently looking after a lot of animals for some friends / colleague. Living alone means that my spare time is used up by myself, I’ve already talked in other blog posts about how connected I am, and how I’m never really lonely.

I’ve not always lived alone. I learnt a lot about myself when living with people. I had a friend staying with me for quite a while earlier this year and their stuff has all been moved out today to make room for my next house guest.

On Sunday morning the preacher (Rev David Easton of Island Parish fame) was talking about finding stillness, times to focus on God, for some people that’s by being in the beauty of creation, for others is a holy place, for some it needs to be silent, for others that is distracting.

I was in Wales this weekend for the wedding of two of Boyfriend’s Housemates from University. Now over the past 15 months Boyfriend and I have been to 8 weddings. They have all been very different but I must say this weekend has to be one of my favourites, plus Boyfriend’s University Town will always be a special place.

I spent yesterday getting my house ready for Boyfriend to move into the spare bedroom. I’ve spent a lot of time working out what all this means, and we’ve spent time working out some ground rules. There are two things that worry me about living with Boyfriend; being too much like a married couple and falling out completely. My last no distance relationship only lasted a few months and that was years ago.

No one can accuse me and Boyfriend of rushing into marriage for one thing, and it worries me that by living together that when we get married that will be the only difference, so I’m taking steps to ensure it’s my house that he’s staying in, we have separate bedrooms and it is only short term. So if anyone knows of a place Boyfriend can live please let me know!

Like when we have to find places of stillness to listen to God it is really important to have moments when we talk about the serious things in our lives, set the ground rules and work out how we fit our ideals to the practicalities that life throws at us.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Second Best?

I’m not sure what reminded me, but earlier this week I was thinking about a time that feels like a life time ago now. Back at about the Easter of 2006 when I was just a Lower Sixther I applied to be Deputy Head Girl. I don’t remember the boys side of the role, and to be honest off the top of my head I can’t remember who actually won it, but I know I didn’t – but that’s not the point I’m getting to.

The other three girls who were in the race all went for both roles; Head and Deputy Head Girl. Therefore we voted for Head Girl first, that was announced and then we voted for Deputy Head Girl. It struck me, watching the women’s hockey team (did you really think I wasn’t writing about the games in our, well my, capital city) play for bronze. It’s not often we think about athletes playing for bronze, generally we want them to get gold! But I’ve spent loads of time these past couple of weeks shouting at presenters saying ‘give them a break, they are incredible, 2nd best in the world! – no one else can say that.’

I don’t know if the other girls who applied saw getting Deputy Head Girl as 2nd best, the consolation prize. I applied for Deputy Head Girl as I prefer to be in the background, making things happen, getting alongside people. I’ve been told this week, partially because I’m short but also as I look young that I need to be more assertive, and worry less about making people like me. Maybe I do, but maybe this is just my personality type, my leadership style, my passion for participation showing through in what I do.

But it was okay, that I didn’t get the Deputy Head Girl post, because about 6 months later was November 2006, and that’s when my life completely changed.

Friday, 3 August 2012

The Plan

Warning – my proof reader has described this blog as messy, I think this is because I’m still working through this – or I’m still shattered from Soul Survivor. I think it helps make the point I’m working towards, even if I don’t totally get to where I think I’m going, this is one of those posts where I’m leaving you to work out the ‘moral of the story.’

God’s plan isn’t always our plan.

If you’d asked me 5 or so years ago, I was going to uni to meet my future husband, get married when I graduated and live happily ever after. I think I even had a life plan, working out when I’d have my 4 children working around the summers that Breakout would happen...

I was partially right, I did meet my boyfriend during the uni years, he just didn’t go to my uni. And actually I’ve had more boyfriends from his uni (two) than my own (none).

You will probably know I recently had seven interviews in eight weeks. I’m now very good at the rejection phone call. It’s been hard but I think I’ve learnt a lot. This came to an end when my Circuit decided they couldn’t continue without me and talked about and finally agreed to keep me on, upgrading my Circuit hours to full time and therefore ending my searching.

This was strange, I was so ready to move on, for a change. But no, I was called to stay. It didn’t make much sense at the time.

However! Or maybe 'But God’...

While I was away at Soul Survivor, Boyfriend was busy going to an interview which would mean he’d get to work, and therefore live, close by. And yes he got it!
So now it all makes sense, I needed interviews to know what I was lacking, I need to stay so boyfriend could get his new job which should be a great stepping stone in his career.

So there you go. It’s always nice when God’s plan becomes obvious.
Though there’s a part of me that’s in shock. Not that I didn’t believe God knew what (s)he was doing, but that this wasn’t part of my plan. I was never expecting to live near (or with – but that’s a totally different blog post) boyfriend, my plan was always going straight from long distance to marriage. I’m not complaining at all, I’m excited about being so close, and now have new things to plan!

PS – something this year that has gone to plan was that I passed my grade 5 theory in music!!!!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

growing old

I don’t know about you but I love old people. Well mostly! As a minister's daughter I spent years saying that I didn’t want to spend time with all the old fogies in the church. Then I moved to my university city and spent many Saturday mornings with a bunch of older folk. And now in my little village I go to a weekly coffee morning where I’m the youngest by two generations most weeks. By some I’ve been adopted as a granddaughter, by others I’m the techy / mobile expert. Some think it’s rude to mention the struggle they have getting on and off the toilet, others tell me of the husband’s fondness of their behind. I have some – one particularly who is probably reading this and is going to tell me off again for suggesting he is old who tells me often that it’s all about common sense, and he is right. I love the wisdom of people who were born (much) earlier than me.

Why do I tell you this you ask? Well maybe you didn’t, but I like to explain why I’m thinking what I’m thinking, or where my thinking stemmed from. Yesterday I was on my way home from a weekend with boyfriend which I will come back to in a bit. So en route I stopped in at my grandparents’ house. I got caught up on the family gossip, was fed (which was beans on toast and I have 1 and ½ slices of toast – the extra ½ to fatten me up!) and generally chatted. Now I’ve come to believe that my granny’s stories all have a thread of truth in them, but I generally after visiting Granny have to ring my parents to check I wasn’t a horrible teenager, or they aren’t upset about something from before I was born. I’ve also found that old people also sometimes don’t have the limits we would so I learnt some things that I was quite happy not knowing.

All these thoughts were embedded within a weekend of sunshine and ceremonies. Saturday was the 3rd wedding of the year (out of 5) and it was great to see boyfriend’s Uni friends get married, after a lovely ceremony where the Vicar got the groom’s name wrong and told us to remember the significance of the blue rose – which she didn’t tell us, a whole bunch of methsoccers of old went out for a lovely meal, if you ignore the small portion sizes. The evening do was lovely, more food, dancing and J20s. After dropping friends off all over the city and nearly going through a red light – I didn’t, and actually earlier in the day someone had who then nearly went into the side of me, wasn’t a great driving day really! So yeah, after dropping friends off we went back to boyfriend’s house where the laptop wasn’t working and mother-out-of-law was trying to get stuff printed.

Sunday started with church and a christening, being introduced to many of boyfriend’s friends, and being support techy. Can I just say as an aside that I love boyfriend a lot because he tapes down cables and I’m a health and safety freak. Now I’m not always a fan of christenings as it feels like the church is being used by families, making promises that they don’t mean and we can’t keep for them. However it was great to see the church so full – literally standing room only. The minister did a great service linking the family’s passion of football to prayer. I also don’t admit this often so I hope he appreciates it but maybe boyfriend was right when we discussed infant baptism the other day, maybe the church should be there and be excited that people still want a Christian ceremony to celebrate their child’s birth.

After that we went back to the local city for a festival with some more friends. It was a lovely and sunny afternoon, catch up, and I had my first ever hog roast, followed by ice cream – yummy! We said goodbye to our friends, and then boyfriend and I went out on a date night. We ate popcorn, saw ‘seeking a friend for the end of the world’ and then went to the popular restaurant that sells Italian food that boyfriend can get cheap! This led to conversations about the film, and if the world was ending what would we do, expect and all those sorts of things. Now I’m a planner, my diary is generally full of what’s happening months in advance, would I still be doing what I’ve got planned in the world was gonna end in 3 weeks time? Monday’s meeting about 3Gen in November might have been a waste of time, but then is it? When you spend time with friends, have fun, share sweets and generally be with people.

I live like I’m going to grow old, nothing is rushed – well apart from being a bit last minute. I’d love to be an old person, the freedom to say things you can’t when you are young. I don’t however want the aches and pains but that’s a different issue all together.

Maybe what I’ve learnt it to seize the day. I don’t want to live regretting things I never did, or was too busy planning the future to enjoy the present. As in the film I want to spend my days, seeking friends, seeking love and living for now.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

6 months on...

Hello loyal blog reader, nice to be back, I’ve been meaning to blog for a while but my life was a bit like going round in circles. But then it wasn’t. Life has a habit of throwing things at you, never more than you can handle, but always something. Or at least that’s how my 2012 has felt. But we are now 6 months in so it’s about time for a recap.

So I’m failing on some things, chocolate is one of those things – but clothes I’m doing well on! Let's check the list!

1, Get fitter and healthier - In a number of ways.
a, Walk / run - aiming to do a 5k run for charity by the end of the year,
b, Do more exercise in general - mainly on the Wii as well as walking.
c, Have a better daily routine - including eating breakfast more often.
2, Blog more - I'm not saying how regularly, but more often!
3, Worry less about the future!!! 2012 is gonna be scary but worrying helps no one!
4, Stop being so obsessed with marriage.
5, Be more fair trade:
a, Only buy clothes that are fair trade or second hand
b, Give up non-fair trade chocolate.(Now that is the really difficult one and I've already failed once as I forgot - will ask Brother for tips!!)
6, Be wiser with money.
a, Reviewing giving - not give less but do more with what I give.
b, Review my spending.
c, Make more sandwiches / packed lunches rather than buying them.
7, Pray More! Lancashire district are having a year of prayer I'm hoping to get involved in a number of ways! First plan is to say grace more often before meals. Maybe find a spiritual director.

So 1a – I did my race for life 5k, in 42 minutes!!! Raised £200 (if you include gift aid) you can still sponsor me at –
1c – well I had breakfast this morning!
2- well I’ve blogged more! Just not a lot recently
3 – I’ll come back to this later.
4 – fail!! Which I knew I would so replaced with grade 5 theory! Which I took in one very random weekend – day before the 5k, still waiting to hear how I did...
5 – a pass, b fail!

6 – hmm, well I bought accident insurance today – they obviously rang when I was feeling fragile.
7 – yeah, @yr_of_prayer is really helping 

So the future!

Well I had 7 interviews in 8 weeks and was about to implode, but then I got a call from my circuit boss asking if the circuit meeting agreed would I stay another year! So after my brain exploded and circuit meeting agreed I can now say I’m staying where I am for a further 12 months.

I’ve spent a lot of time recently reflecting on being called to stay! I was expecting to have to move, to be sent, or even to be without a job, but now I’m staying. I thought I was about to start the next race, but actually I’ve just passed another milestone – on the 5k there was a sign very kilometre on the route, it was such a relief to see the 1k earlier than I was expecting. My job will be changing slightly so I’ll have to change my way of working – more local stuff, more children’s work.

There is other stuff going on, but I’m not very good with words, and songs say things better than I can. I’ve been clinging to the words of Faithful One, and remembering I’m part of a bigger community. I love that there are people who are there to hold me when I cry, or let me use their shower – had many boiler issues over the past month. In my car at the moment is an Andy Flanagan cd which includes the song – Fragile, written about the tsunami in 2004 but has been a comfort to me this past week.
Life and death are so hand in hand. On Monday my youth group were having a bbq at a farm, we had a tour and saw a calf that had been born that morning. New life. Death reminds us that this is not forever, that life in the grand scheme of things isn’t very long, but means that we have to live each day, spend it with those we love, doing what we love, being who we are called to be.

So here I am, not moving, called to stay. Trying to be the best me, in the time that I have, working towards the next milestone. Much of the past 12 months have revolved around the word Bambelela which when all is well feels like a carnival word, but maybe it’s more like supercalifraglisticexpealidosiuos – the word to say when there is nothing else. Bambelela, Never give up, Christ is our hope.