Wednesday, 29 February 2012

rural roads

One of the great things about living in a rural setting is that of the roads I get to drive on. When I first started working here I remember reading one of my churches’ website which said that the best route to our church is the first road after the junction, but you can go left on any road around there and you will find us. It’s the same when driving home; I could go a different route every day of the week. I get to see the sheep and count the number of times I go over and under the train line and the motorway. Keeps life interesting!

Our relationships are the same. We will all go different routes to different destinations. Some people have long engagements and that is right for them. We’ve decided to wait till we are ready to get married and have a relatively short engagement. So in many people’s understanding me and my boyfriend are engaged.

Today is a day that things are a bit upside down, and I thought about proposing. But as we aren’t ready to get married within the next year (well as far as I know) then it would be silly as that is not the road we have decided to go down. On my drive home from the local city I could turn left down 6 different roads. We aren’t just by the right junction yet, we could go down it, but it wouldn’t be right for us right now.

So we keep going down the courtship road till we are ready, it shouldn’t be about a day that only occurs once every 4 years – and to be honest I’d quite like to be proposed to, with a ring and a him down on one knee.

It reminds me of how we got together. There was a point a couple of months before we got together that we were close – I wondering what if we got together, but the time wasn’t right. We got to a point where we realised why are we not together – and that was the start of us!

So even though today is the day as a woman I’m ‘allowed‘ to propose, me and my boyfriend are still on our journey and have many pretty roads to see, sheep to watch and bridges to count.

Monday, 27 February 2012

its not my fault I'm obsessed...

Warning this blog post has a Muppets movie spoiler in it!

It shouldn't come to much of a shock when I say that I am wedding / marriage obsessed. Blame culture fills our society and therefore I am going to argue that it isn't my fault!!

It is said that society is over sexualised, but I also think we are wedding obsessed. Love and relationships dominate everything we watch - even the adverts, think of the BT family, is it just me that is hoping the son is going to get with the lovely girl he's just moved in with.

I've given up wedding shows and films for Lent. So no 'Don't tell the Bride' or '4 weddings and a funeral' for me. I've got the Mamma Mia musical CD in my car at the moment (I totally blame my boyfriend who swapped the CDs in my car the other day!) Whereas it was the fault of my colleague-friend kinda person that I went through a girl power-Disney phase (lots of Pocahontas) a couple of weeks ago.

I've not given them up because I think I should give something up for Lent, but actually because I know I am too wedding obsessed and I am trying to avoid them. In the same way I avoid scary movies so I don't have nightmares. Now avoiding weddings is more complicated than you would think as even things I think I'm safe with (like the Muppets) still end with a proposal. And if we are what we eat we are also what we see. I can't help that my Facebook is full on friends getting engaged and married, but I can avoid more shows that are overtly about weddings.

So it’s not going to be easy, but here goes. Bring on lent.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Called to be me today

There's a lot out there about calling and identity, and I've had a week where I've had my confidence shook in something I thought I was certain in my calling in. I've come to realise that I shouldn't worry about what I have been called to in the past, or who I will be in a few years time, but that God calls me to be me today, the best me I can be - cos no one else can be.

Let me backtrack a bit.

If you had asked me a few years ago, I would have said Participation was the thing that made me most excited and I got fired up with. Now if you had to sum up how I spend more of my time it would be equality. A week last Saturday I was at a church in Chester that was full to the brim of women (and a few men) excited about the new movement that is MWiB (Methodist Women in Britain). That is a place where I feel needed, wanted and appreciated. It is a movement that I am happy to give my time too.

The day before I'd been at a BYC (British Youth Council) event called Equality4U. It reminded me that we still live in a world where women get paid up to almost 20% less than men, and that's only if you are white, we also live in a society where YouTube is used to help LGBTQ young people in the 'it gets better' campaign.

I feel called to preaching, I'm sure one day I will blog my local preaching journey, but that day is not today. This morning I had the opportunity to help 3 great tween/teenagers plan their Sunday school anniversary service in May. I got out my first blue folder and was amazed by their want to do as much as possible in the service. Being able to enable others to plan worship makes all those hours doing faith and worship worth it- and is an awesome feeling.

Yesterday was one of the biggest days in my District diary. Inspire 6 is a training day and was themed on prayer - as that is discipleship I got to head up the youth stream. Among other things I got to watch as about 30 high schoolers thought, wrote and prayed thankful prayers of their brokenness - creating a cross of broken tiles of what they were thankful for in their lives. Reminds us that God turns round even the worst situations and brings good out of them, and I get to see young people in these moments. So moving.

Someone said to me this week when they saw me preaching in the pulpit that it looked like I was where I was meant to be - doing what I was made for! What more can anyone ask.

I am very blessed that I love the things I get to do, fight for equality, preach, work with young people. I believe God calls us every day, to be the best you you can be. Sometimes God pushes us in certain directions - like preaching. If you'd asked me 4 years ago I would have said no chance, but generally all God wants is for us to be the best us today.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

learning to swim

Sometimes I fail at things. Things get bigger than me, and stress me out.

I've not been running in ages, grade 5 theory is really difficult and this Sunday coming my service is the most important to date - or at least it feels like that - assessed all age service at my home church on the transfiguration!!!

I'm trying to be real in this blog, not every thing is easy, but as someone said in an email to me last night - God puts us in situations out of our depth. I don't think He does that to watch us drown, but to teach us to swim.

My mum taught me to swim. Week after week she walked backwards doing widths in our local high school swimming pool, knowing that she was there gave me the confidence to swim without arm bands.

I know when I'm stressed and can't touch the floor that God is there, willing me on and ready to catch me if it all gets to much.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Just to say I love you

So its valentines day and I'm going to copy everyone else and talk about love.

I've decided I'm not a big fan of this day, my single friends feel left out, my taken friends are pressured into buying the right gifts, cards and flowers. For us February is the end of 5 months of presents, gifts, and expectations. October starts with his birthday, November is my birthday then our anniversary, December is obviously Christmas, and Feb is Valentines day - then we have 7 months off from having to buy gifts or cards. We've always had a limit to presents costs, and today we actually limited it to just a card - which was complicated enough.

I'm very blessed to be surrounded by so many couples who inspire me. Then I also have single friends who inspire me too, and of course my wonderful boyfriend - even if he texts just to tell me I'm a plonker. I just want to say to all of you that I love you all very much, and I hope you realise that every day.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Things I learnt while house sitting.

I've been house sitting this week - the fact that makes my post earlier in the week make sense. So here are 3 things I've learnt / re-learnt / thought about this week.

1 - I need a routine. Every morning this week I managed to get out of bed, let the dogs out, feed them and the fish and have my own breakfast before 8:30. This is quite an achievement for me. It's made me realise that I really need a routine - this morning I got up from my own bed at my house, and was already running late, I was hoping I'd automatically wake up at about 8am again. My life is sometimes complicated in getting up times, but I really could do with starting the day the same every day.

2 - I actually like pets. I've not always been a big fan of pets. There is a photo at Mum and Dad's house of me, my brother and the dog all lying on the floor with our faces together, and they always say its the closest I've ever got to the dog. I think its the walking and clearing up I'm not a big fan of.

3 - Where is home? I use the word home a lot. I've said I'm going home this week and meant where I was house sitting, same as when I'm on holiday. Similarly its taken some time but my parents house is somewhere else I call home. The corny romantic in me would say I'm truly home when I'm back in my boyfriends arms. Then there are other places I've been to and felt at home Yardley for example.

Then today I was doing a session on friends and family. My Sunday morning group is rather awesome, we start in church then make breakfast, then go into our comfy room with sofa's and have a chat while we eat French breakfast items and drink hot chocolate. And then when we are done they do the washing up.

A few weeks ago I asked them to list all the things they wanted to talk about and vote for the most important - Youth Participation :) So this week we got to friends and family. They started by drawing the best ever and worst ever friend and family member. We then compared results to see what the differences between what we expect from family and friends, and talked about how parents treat siblings differently, and the strange phase they go through when their kids are in their teens.

I used the line some of our friends can become like family and a very clever 11 year old boy came back and said that some of our family can be our friends.

We finished the session talking about the 5 love languages that I talk about as often as I can. And because words are the only one that works on the blog...

... I just want to say thank you to my family who are like my friends, and those of you my friends who are like Brothers and Sisters, to the Grandparents that have adopted me, and those of you who let me be like an Aunty to your kids. You all fill my life with happiness and look after me when I'm down - or need coffee. Thank you for those of you who have let me treat your house as my home. And a big hats off to anyone who has actually had to live with me - Well done!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Youth Work Summit 2011/2012


I've got a few posts in my drafts folder - feel a bit like services that I'm working over in my head but today I want to talk about an event I went to in October last year, and a bit about the next one!

So Youth Work Summit is an event like no other I've been to. It was described today as One big name, lots of little quality. The key note in 2011 was awesomes and even ended with us all disco dancing!!

This is my tweet from the day - "incredible day: laughed, nearly cried, worshiped, danced and caught up with friends, was challenged and inspired! just booked 2012"

Each speaker gets a maximum of 15 minutes to talk, one after another - its full on, but you don't have to make a decision about what to see and they are all brilliant, and if a topic doesn't float your boat then you can snooze for 10 mins till the next one, I didn't have this issue they were all brilliant and there was free starbucks coffee!

After the event I was sent an email asking if I would join a team of youth workers that the organisers run ideas past and see what we think. Today was the second webchat of that group and I now have a few more details I can share with you about the event in May in London.

Hot off the press!
Starbucks are providing free coffee again!!!
Patrick Regan, Harry Baker, Miriam Swaffield and Guvna B are all on the speaking line up
Mark Oestreicher is coming over this year and is going to do an early day!

Its sounding very exciting and is for all youth workers, youth leaders, interns, volunteers and staff.

So what are you waiting for if you buy a ticket to the 2012 Summit by Sunday 12th February and you'll get the Mark Yaconelli's Ignatian Retreat audio recording for free!!

See you there?

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

This is the life we've been given...

I'm really disappointed today.

Social media has a lot to answer for.

Don't get me wrong I love Facebook and Twitter, and even wrote a meditweetion for a faith and worship assignment. (In which a person talked to God, and the Bible chirped in useful texts)

Over the last few days however I've been getting more and more concerned with what people do with it.

Twitter seems to be rife with jealousy this morning. I realise in the situation I am thinking of that its because there is a lack of information, but what it boils down to is just people being jealous of others.

It reminds from my retreat we listened to the Take That song - "In the Garden" which has the line "this is the life we've been given" I wasn't sure on that day how to take that - does God cause suffering etc, but we all have our lives I don't think we should be using them wondering what everyone else is up to when our lives and ministries are equally important and at other times will be much more fun.

Then there is a group I belong to on Facebook that I know others have left - and I've just stopped getting notifications on as they don't want what start out as honest questions and turn into rants filling my inbox. It concerns me what Christians do and say in the Churches name.

Yesterday, I was in a school and talking to one trainee teacher who had seen what was going on with the spirituality day - we were talking to year 7 about communion. I found out the reason she didn't go to church was that her local church was too judgemental. She had some questions about how our faith effects our lives, I tried to talk about the difference God makes in everything I do, I try not to be judgmental - though maybe I am being today, how I spend my time, the people I invest in and my money - eg Fairtrade, not illegally downloading films, and why me and Matt aren't living together before we get married. It made me think what would be different, who would I be in God hadn't got me first? I joke I'd have made a great evil genius if my morals didn't get in the way.

So back to Take That...

"This is the life we've been given
So open your heart and start loving
We can make a start if we only learn to listen"

Monday, 6 February 2012

2 dogs and no tv

I text a friend this morning saying - Do you think my life will ever calm down?

There are sometimes when everything is rather mad, a text or email, or even a tweet can totally turn my day upside down, though Saturday's text has managed to turned my whole week upside down.

My friends reply to my text include 'would you want it to?' and he has a point. I love all the people in my life, even those of you who text me early in the mornings cos you have kids or cos you're reading my blog. I love my job (mostly) I like where I live, the community I'm apart of and therefore I enjoy my life. But, just sometimes it would be nicer if it was less busy. I was pondering the other day about how it would work if I didn't work for the Church. A phrase used in the Imagine Project my circuit is doing with LICC is Full Time Christian Worker - meaning that all of us (Christians anyway) are full time Christians, our aim in live should be sharing God's love on our 'front lines' - where we spend most of our time. I am a Christian its in my being not just in my doing.

So yes I have a busy life, but that's how I made it to be!

As part of the year of prayer there is a prayer on twitter every morning and today's is - In the rush of today, help me find stillness. Help me to hear your gentle voice speaking directly to me, deep into my soul. Amen.

So here I sit, on a sofa with 2 dogs all snuggled up, and no TV as I can't find the remote, with the occasional car going past - so its rather quiet and still, and after the rush of this morning its rather lovely, (and in the context of the last few mad months). So here I am, Lord God help me to hear your gentle voice speaking directly to me, deep into my soul