Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Fruit Happens!!

Last night I hosted a 'Morph gathering extraudinaire'!! At the moment there are three Morph groups running at the Kerith and Irene from our group thought it would be a great idea for us all to gather together to share our experiences of 'Morph as we know it' so far!! It was a fun night and a thought provoking night as we shared lovely puddings and our thoughts, likes and dislikes about the Morph experience.

It got me thinking of when Wayne and I moved into our current house, and how I struggled with it. As I've shared in previous blogs, I'm from a very humble background, and although we never went without there was never too much spare cash for luxuries and we never owned our own property. So when the three of us moved into a nice four bedroom house, with a reasonable size garden and three toilets(!!) I felt a little overwhelmed to say the least.

I can remember sharing this at an all girls housegroup one night. They prayed for me that I would be at peace with it all, and that the house would not only be a blessing to us as a family, but that God would use it, and us to show His love, and share the gift of hospitality we have.

That was a long time ago and since then we've hosted many events, barbecues, Christmas barbecues and carols, seven years worth of leading a life group every week, and had lots of people to stay with us. I think that prayer has been answered many times over!! Blessed to be a blessing indeed.

One of the overwhelming feelings I got from last night was the sense of community and strong relationships that had been built through this Morph experience, and it was a privilege to host it.
I've recently listened to a talk by John Burke (funnily enough he leads Gateway church which is where Morph originated) which was about staying connected. He uses the phrase Stay Connected - Fruit Happens'. It relates to the bible verse about Jesus being the vine and us being the branches (John 15:5). It says if we remain in the vine and He remains in us, then we will bear much fruit. This is one of my favourite passages and one that draws me back to God on a regular basis.

Being part of a small group and connected to people as well as God has helped me to start bearing fruit again and I will be ever grateful for the Morph experience I've had.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!!

One of the things I miss most about the first church I was part of is Easter Sunday morning traditions. We would meet at 8am for early morning communion which I always remember being sunny!!!!! Then as a church family we would share breakfast together, toast, cereal and of course boiled eggs! It was a true community affair and one I remember very fondly. Then after washing up and maybe a short walk we would gather for our 11am service and sing fantastic hymns like 'Praise my soul the King of Heaven' and 'Up from the grave He Arose' awesome words celebrating the awesome victory Christ had over death. Then it would be home to find all the Easter eggs my brother had hidden for me!!!!

As a child I think I looked forward to the eggs more than the early rise for breakfast but the memories will stay with me forever.

At the Kerith we don't have the same traditions, or the same hymns, and each year is different, but I know there will be a true sense of celebration. Celebrating Jesus blasting his way through death for you and me. Even though Death is painful for those who are left, I know that Jesus is Risen and my Mum and Dad and Gran and Grandad are all celebrating Easter together, with Jesus Himself. How awesome is that!!

Happy Easter everyone!!

Friday, 22 April 2011


So often we think of Easter and look forward to the celebration of the resurrection and the happiness of Easter Day and Easter eggs. If you're like me and you've given up something for Lent, then the expectation of being able to have what you've been sacrificing for 40+ days is insurmountable. But today is Good Friday and time to reflect. In fact this week has been one of reflection for me. I've been very blessed to be able to take time out of my daily chores to spend time in quiet contemplation, and preparation for the celebrations on Sunday.

On Tuesday I joined with a group of ladies and attended Fourteen. It was the first of many days, I hope, where I will be given permission to just be. To take time out and enjoy God's creation and spend intimate time with Him. While I was sat in the wonderful grounds of the Barn House the word 'decadence' came to mind. I felt so truly blessed that it reminded me of the wonderful Michelin star meal I had at 'The Waterside' in Bray, a truly decadent meal and a memory I will always savour. It was an intimate meal the surroundings were wonderful and the atmosphere was heavenly, just like my retreat day on Tuesday. It was a special day and got me thinking about how I've prepared for Easter in the past.

When I was growing up, the lead up to Easter was always a special time and Palm Sunday Maundy Thursday and Good Friday were all special days in our calendar as a family. We'd come home from church on Palm Sunday with our very own palm cross. Maundy Thursday would be a special evening service, where we'd celebrate communion and learn more about the Jewish tradition of passover and the significance of the Last Supper. Then Good Friday morning would be a quiet contemplative service with readings, and time to reflect on the cross and the sacrifice Jesus made for you and me.

As I moved on and got involved with other churches I've celebrated these days in different ways. I've been involved with kids clubs the 'J Team' and 'Desert Detectives' spring to mind. All great ways to celebrate the Easter Story and keep it fun for the kids as well as teaching them the true meaning of Easter although much busier and not quite so contemplative!!

Today though I've spent a productive day in the garden and I'm about to go the Kerith for a contemplative hour entitled 'In the Shadow of the Cross'.
So however you've spent your Good Friday why not take a moment to contemplate why it might be called Good or maybe take some time out and book onto the next Fourteen gathering or something similar.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

We're on our way to Wembley!!

Well it's three days since the most significant win Man City have had over Man United in my lifetime and yes I'm still smiling!!!

I know many of my friends think I'm completely mad, and that football is an insignificant pass time, where overpaid grown men get to kick a bag of wind around a grass field!!
As you know if you've been following my blog, I think differently!!! Football is a passion of mine and as I've blogged about previously something that's in my blood.
For years Man United have had the upper hand as far as the blue side of Manchester goes and as a City fan I've had to put up with arrogant United fans shouting the odds. Well Saturday saw the tables turned significantly.

That however was not the thing that pleased me most. The best part was that we actually deserved to win. After an edgy first half hour we got into the game and then started to actually play good football and by the time the second half was under way we played our arch rivals off the pitch.
I saw our players play with passion, and as a team, instead of individual prima donas which I had feared would be our downfall. They pulled together and because of that overturned the reds emphatically. This I have to say probably meant as much to me as the win. Getting to an FA cup final for the first time in 35 years (sadly I remember the last time too!!) is an amazing achievement, and one that makes me proud to wear the blue shirt.

Our opponents will be Stoke City who've never made a final before, so it's going to be a thrilling day for them and their fans too. I just hope it's a good game for the neutral and of course I hope we come away with the I'll will be watching on Saturday May 17th.....not at Wembley, but I'll be glued to my tv and this time I'll probably be drinking a beer!!!!!

For the time being though I'm happy with the fact that we beat United!!!!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011


If you've been keeping up with my blog you'll have noticed by now that my punctuation and grammar are not particularly great!!! Very often my brain thinks ahead so quickly that I don't get down on paper or type quickly enough to keep up!!!

When we're reading stuff the punctuation is very important for our understanding of what we read, and yet we don't really notice it.
Commas cause us to pause momentarily or take a breath so we read the sentence in a kind of rhythm. Full stops indicate a longer pause or maybe the end of what's been written all together. Exclamation marks and question marks add the colour and inflection to what we read, and when we read aloud, it makes for far more entertaining listening.

So why am I wittering on about punctuation? Well a while ago I read somewhere (sorry can't remember the reference!!) about life having punctuation marks. I've been pondering on this one for a while and have come up with some thoughts I'd like to share.

Our lives consist of many questions. Why is there suffering? Why are we disappointed by people? When will I find the right man/woman? Why can't I have children? Should I change jobs?

Our lives are also punctuated by many exclamation marks. Celebrations, births and deaths, world disasters, happy holidays, memorable sporting events!!

Inter weaved in our lives are the full stops and commas. Seasons of doing certain things, certain roles, jobs, voluntary positions. Friends who come and go in our lives.

The book I read about this, talked about God putting the full stops and commas in our lives. I have to admit that in the past I've often been guilty of using my own punctuation, and not listening to what God has been telling me, about maybe ending a friendship or starting a new one. I know now that I want to find the right rhythm to my life, and that means getting the punctuation right!!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011


Living in community and not in isolation is something that is very close to my heart. I am part of Kerith Community Church, quite a large church by today's standards I guess. Although community is in the title sometimes it can seem difficult to feel part of that community because of its size. To deal with this we are encouraged to be part of a small group of some kind whether that's a life group (a small group of people who generally meet during the week in someones home), or a serving group within the church. At the moment I'm part of our wonderful worship team and in particular my band, 'The Sound Professors'.

Last Sunday we did community in a very real, practical way, blessing us as a family, our neighbours and hopefully the band felt blessed by being a blessing as well.

It was a beautiful sunny day and Wayne and I hosted a barbecue for our band and the tech guys (those are the important people who make us sound good!!!). Wayne and I have been working on our front garden over the last 3 weeks, transforming it from a garden with grass (mainly weeds and moss actually) to becoming a pebbled beech like affair!!! We had got as far as removing the grass, levelling off the ground and putting the weed suppressent down. The 4 tons of pebbles had been delivered and were awaiting distribution on the drive. So instead of it taking Wayne and I another 3 weeks to transfer the pebbles from the four large bags onto the what was grassed area, 'The Sound Professors' helped us out, and in around half an hour the front lawn was transformed!!!!!!

To make the experience complete we also managed to help our neighbour out with his section. We heard him starting to move the pebbles and he was very happily stunned when those of us who were still around came out to help him cover his side with pebbles too. True Community and a true blessing.

Next time it might be an idea to do a spontaneous gig as well what do you think guys!!????!!

Monday, 11 April 2011


For those of you who have been following my blog you'll know I've given up alcohol for lent.
There have been surprisingly few people who've said I'm mad, most comments have been ones of encouragement and admiration for sticking at it. I have to admit tonight will be a testing time as I watch my beloved Man City play Liverpool without a beer....

Throughout this Lent period I've been thinking more and more about the word sacrifice and what it means to sacrifice. The more time has gone by I realize that giving up alcohol has been a small sacrifice for me, but one I'm glad I've done. I feel better in my self and even though I've probably eaten more sweet things than normal I actually feel healthier!!

The old testament talks about blood sacrifices being offered by the high priest would enter the Holy Place behind the second curtain in the tabernacle once a year, but only with a blood sacrifice. This was offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. (Hebrews 9 my paraphrase). There are many other stories of sacrifices being offered to God the most famous old testament one being that of Abraham when he was asked to sacrifice his son. (Genesis 22).

Whether you believe the bible or not you will have some experience of sacrifice, through storytelling, as well as history. For example many fictional and non fictional stories have been retold in films where young virgins are sacrificed in weird religious ceremonies, I think the last Indiana Jones film I watched had such rituals in it. And we don't think twice about the legends of the maidens being sacrificed to the dragons.....if you really think about it, there was a lot of blood and gore going on there!!! When I watch stuff like that I don't really think about the pain and suffering attached to it.

Today in the modern western world we make many sacrifices, maybe sometimes without even realizing we are. Our troups are sent to far off lands to keep the peace, a huge sacrifice for them and their families. Men might sacrifice their 'freedom' when they enter into marriage. Women might look at the things they give up to become mums, work, the nights out, the time and space to themselves. And parents have to give up lots to put their children through University.

All these sacrifices are pertinent and relevant and hard for those undertaking them and yet they all pale into insignificance when I think of the sacrifice Jesus made for me. Observing Lent in the way I have this year has made me appreciate this even more. Each time I've felt tempted to have a drink I've remembered why I'm not drinking.
I've had a few questions about what will I do after Easter? I'm not sure yet but I know I'll cut down. I think more than anything it will help me appreciate what I have more.

For now though two more weeks to go.....

Monday, 4 April 2011


I know there have been lots and lots and lots ......of books written about forgiveness, but I just wanted to add my two penneth to the mix.....this may take more than one blog entry as I'm still on a journey.....not sure if I'll get to the end of that one either, but here's my stab at a first chapter!!!

Forgiveness is central to the Christian faith. As a Christian I believe I have received and continue to receive God's forgiveness for stuff I've done wrong, or thought wrong or stuff I've not done when I should have done etc etc. However I do sometimes have difficulty accepting that forgiveness. It's like when I've done something to someone, hurt them emotionally, said something stupid in the heat of the moment or sent a hurtful text, or let someone down by not doing something I'd said I'd do. Sometimes it's easier to forgive others than to accept the forgiveness of the hurt party.

The Lord's Prayer itself says 'Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors' Matthew 6:12. Words we've all said many many times but how many times have we really thought about them?

Over the last twelve months or so I've done a lot of thinking and reading about forgiveness. I've prayed lots about it too. I've done things I've needed forgiveness for from friends and from God, and I've also had to do some forgiving of my own. It's been a tough road and as I said at the start not sure I'm quite there yet, but I know I'm in a better place than I was, and I know God has been helping me through it all. I've had to have hard conversations and had to do some deep soul searching, but along with the Morph experience and some really good friends, some new and some not so new, I've come to a better understanding of what it means to forgive and how to deal with the challenges that brings.

I think my first observation and piece of advice would be.....give it time.

Unless you experience a miracle it won't happen overnight.You'll keep revisiting stuff that's gone on and you'll question your actions and motives. You'll spend hours and sometimes days going over and over what's happened or what you think has happened in your head, each time making it worse!!!

A good friend of mine and I share the phrase 'put it in the box'. In other words file away the hurt and pain and experiences, until you can deal with them. All too often however we open the box of our own accord maybe at the wrong time, causing more pain.

As a Christian and having a relationship with God, I believe we need to allow God to prompt us when to open the box. I believe He equips us to deal with whatever's in the box, but it will take time and we have to trust that God will prompt us when that right time is. It may take more than one opening too.....step by step you'll lead me and I will follow you all of my days.