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.