Wednesday, 27 July 2011


Over the weekend I had the privilege of playing a gig with 'The Sound Professors' (the worship band I play in). It was at a chilled festival which gave many people the opportunity to perform who may not necessarily be given a platform, and it gave us the opportunity to play some cool secular music which we don't often get the chance to do. After only a few rehearsals it was great to jam along with such talented musicians and pull a set list together. Rosie did an amazing job organizing us all and leading the band. Rehearsing and performing in such a way, draws you together like no other medium can. Music is a great unifier, and has a universal language all of its own, and playing in the band personally gives me a real sense of connectedness and purpose. Can't wait for the next one!!

I'm currently reading two Christian books which although seem quite different, are actually sharing some similarities in their content and both discuss this topic of connectedness.
The first book is 'The Church of Facebook' by Jesse Rice.The synopsis says this about the book:

This timely release explores the community-altering phenomenon of social networking sites and what it reveals about friendship, God and our own hearts. With hundreds of millions of users, social networks are changing how we form relationships, perceive others, and shape our identity. Yet at it s core, this movement reflects our need for community. Our longing for intimacy, connection and a place to belong has never been a secret, but social networking offers us a new perspective on the way we engage our community. How do these networks impact our relationships? In what ways are they shaping the way we think of ourselves? And how might this phenomenon subtly reflect a God who longs to connect with each one of us? The Church of Facebook explores these ideas and much more, offering a revealing look at the wildly popular world of online social networking.

My relationship with facebook has been a bit of a roller coaster to be honest and I'm seeing both good sides and bad sides to it. I think it's redefining friendships and creating more superficial relationships than anything has ever done before. On the other hand it is a useful tool for sharing news, staying in touch with friends who have moved away, and reconnecting with old friends. Did you know it's only been around for five years??? What did we do before facebook? How did we communicate with our friends and stay connected to them?

I'm not very far into the book (being a slow reader!!) but already it's helping me to understand some of how social networking has changed the way we do life and stay connected with one another.

The Second book I'm reading is 'Identity' by Charlotte Gambil from Abundant Life Church in Bradford.
I read this book some time ago, but this re read is giving me new insight into my relationships, my connectedness and my own security and self worth. Along with connectedness, it talks about separation, and how sometimes we have to move away from things that aren't leading us on the path God wants us to be on. Charlotte quotes Amos 3:3 'Do two people walk hand in hand if they aren't going to the same place?' and she goes on to say 'Think about who you are holding hands with because they will affect where you end up.'
In reading these books I'm being challenged about my relationships, about who I'm connected to, and why. They are helping me to value the people I have in my life in a different way and recognise that I have my own unique path which God has planned for me. As I was reading about this connectedness, I remembered the story of 'the vine and the branches' in John's gospel chapter 15.  This passage talks about God being our gardener and how a branch cannot bear fruit on it's own. It goes on to say:

I am the vine; you are the branches.
If you remain in me and I in you,
you will bear much fruit;
apart from me you can do nothing.  

As much as I love being connected to people, I know that fundamentally, I must be connected to God.
So I'd like to throw a little challenge out there for you. Who are you connected to and why?

Friday, 22 July 2011


Have you ever had any building work done in your house? I can remember when we had a new kitchen put in our previous house. Gemma was tiny and the upheaval was horrendous. I had to build a makeshift kitchen in the lounge so I could sort Gemma's milk and meals out. We had to put stuff away in different parts of the house or just throw things away we didn't need anymore in preparation for the work to be done. Dust sheets were put down, doors were sealed up so the dust didn't spread throughout the rest of the house.  But for all the hard work and stress the result was fantastic. I can still remember the joy I felt when it was all done and the rest of the house was back to normal and the kitchen was such an improvement.

Life can be like that I find. Yesterday I started physio on my ankles. At the moment I can't wear any shoes with a back on them (like trainers or golf shoes.....very frustrating!!) as they put too much pressure on a growth I have on the back of my heals. This causes me enormous pain and means I end up walking like an old woman, which I know I'm approaching but would rather it wasn't quite so soon!!!
I know that this physio will probably make things worse initially but I'm hoping it will give me a long term solution and I'll be able to play golf and badminton once again in the not too distant future.

Last week we finished our first Morphing chapter. (If you don't know what I'm talking about I explain it in more depth in an earlier blog). There have been times on that journey which I've had to delve into emotions and feelings which have caused me great pain and upset. We've all spent time sharing and discussing how life has treated us, and looked back on our experiences sometimes with sadness. But I know I've come to the end of this first chapter feeling in a better place and having grown as a person and grown closer to God. I've learnt more about myself and I've had challenges which have made me face up to stuff and deal with things that have happened to me. It's been a bit like counselling I suppose, but with a trusted group of friends!!

As a parent, I sometimes have to challenge Gemma on her behaviour and her tidiness (!!) so she can learn and develop into an independent young lady. Someone who will be a leader not a follower, someone who will have confidence in herself and her beliefs. And ultimately someone who will be happy with who she is. These challenges can cause conflict between us and times of stress and strife at home, but I challenge her because I care about her. I care about what she becomes and how people perceive her. I love her and want the best for her.

As a Christian I believe God challenges us in life so we can grow and become who and what He made us to be. Sometimes we have to make decisions and challenge people which may rock the boat, or aren't received well and cause conflict and pain. But God has our best interests at heart. He wants us to learn and improvements to be made. He wants us to be reconciled with Him and, where we can, to live in peace with one another (Romans 12:18).

What I'm trying to say, is that sometimes things have to get worse before they get better. We have to have conflicts before we can have resolutions and growth and improvements, whether that's in a war zone, politically or relationally. So if you're in the middle of a conflict, or have been challenged about something or are going through a sad chapter of your life, then try to think about the improvements that are being made in you. Hold onto the future, and the hope and trust that God has us in the palm of His hand.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Happy Memories

Well the time has definitely come to reminisce about playing in my school band some 30+ years ago (I won't be anymore specific as it's quite a struggle to think I've been around that long let alone playing the trumpet that long!!!!).

For those of you who've been following my ramblings you'll know some of the story of my musical background....well here's another which has been recently reopened through the wonders of technology and dare I say it, the beauty of facebook!!

As I said in my previous blog, some months ago I was given a trumpet when I started at Spurley Hey High School in 1975 (that's the last date I'm going to include!!), as I could already play a little and didn't own my own instrument. It was a brand new silver frosted Yamaha and one I treasured throughout my time at school. We shared many adventures together (including me leaving it on a bus one day on the way to school....!!!!!).

The most memorable adventures though, must have been the start of our touring as the 'Spurley Hey Wind Band'. We were invited to attend the Letterkenny International Music Festival in Ireland, county Donegal.
This was no mean feat all those years ago, especially from a large city school, and considering the troubled times Ireland were experiencing. It was only due to our visionary teacher and conductor Donald Ezard that this all came about. Yes we were good, but he made us extraordinary.

As we started playing 'Italian Festival', one of our favourite pieces as a band, at the opening ceremony in Ireland, a  wonderful thing happened. In walked an Italian male voice choir who just started singing along to all the tunes. It was pure magic and even now all these years later I can remember the ovation we got from them and from the audience watching as the connection was made between the two music groups.

This was no normal connection. It led to us touring Europe and doing concerts all over France, Germany and Italy. It led to the choir Coro Monte Pasubio, coming over to England to do joint concerts with us and visiting York and Liverpool. We also did a joint concert at the Free Trade Hall to raise funds for the Italians who had suffered from an earthquake.

Through the wonders of technology and facebook,  I have recently been reunited with many of the band members and started posting old photos of the band on our newly set up page. Yes there are some sad memories as some of the members are no longer with us, and as I look back at the photos and scan them (no digital photography then!!) I see some of those faces.

I can remember being on tour when we as a band heard of one of our trombonists, who hadn't come on tour with us, tragically dying in a motorbike accident back in England. This shook us as a band, but it also bonded us, and the concert we played that night was a tribute to Trevor and all that he represented, and the future he never had.

I look forward to hearing news from more and more members, and who knows, maybe a reunion one day of both the band and the choir will be on the cards. Whoever thought I'd be talking about the beauty of facebook!!!!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011


Wayne, Gemma and myself headed up to Coventry on Sunday for a family christening. It was held at a really lovely, quaint village church, which was well looked after. The stone work was beautifully clean, and inside there were subtly placed spotlights halfway up the walls to add sufficient light to show it all off well. The churchyard was pristine and the sunny day added to this lovely setting.

We sang hymns I hadn't sung for a long time and there were elements throughout the service which took me back many years, to my days as a Methodist, and to things I'm finding I miss.
We started with a good old Charles Wesley hymn 'Love Divine all Loves Excelling' which oozes truth:

Finish, then, Thy new creation;
Pure and spotless let us be.
Let us see Thy great salvation
Perfectly restored in Thee;
Changed from glory into glory,
'Til in heaven we take our place,
'Til we cast our crowns before Thee,
Lost in wonder, love, and praise.
We also sang 'O Jesus I have promised' which Wayne and I had at our obviously meant a lot then and still does reminded me of the promise I made to him when we got married, as well as the promise I made to Jesus 'to serve Him to the end'.

'Seek ye first the Kingdom of God' was the next hymn. This is based on the verse I was given when I got baptised....yet another telling moment of the service.

The most poignant moment was during the sermon though. This was based on the parable of the sower and the vicar pointed out how sometimes we have to be patient to let things grow or see things happen. He went on to talk about what our futures might look like....something I've been thinking about a lot recently.

I love that when God takes you away from your normal routine and reveals stuff to you. It made me think about what is important to me and why, at the moment, I myself don't feel that important. I've come to the conclusion that I, like most people I think, like to be noticed, I want to know people care about me and what I do, I want to feel valued and not ignored or forgotten. I think I feel most hurt when people misinterpret  my actions or words and don't respect me or value me as a person.

Deep down I know what I do as a mum and a wife is important to Wayne and Gemma. I know that I have been involved in things in the past that have been important to people and helped them, but right now, what am I doing with my life that is important?

Sunday reminded me that what I do for God is important, not necessarily what I do in the church, but what I do as an individual follower of Christ. It also reminded me, yet again, that I just have to be patient and know that God has it all in hand, as the farmer is patient with his crops, I have to be patient and wait and see what will happen. Watch this space!!!!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

I will follow You

I've not had much chance to blog recently as work has been a bit manic. This is a blog entry I've been wanting to write since Father's day....finally got round to it!!!
On Father's Day I had the privilege of hearing two great stories from leaders at the Kerith. They spoke unreservedly about how God had spoken to them and guided them into full time ministry. Most Christians would describe this as'a calling' and that they were being obedient to that calling God made on their lives.

I've never really felt focussed on any one particular path or vocation in my life, things just seem to have happened or evolved over time. I never had a burning desire to achieve a certain thing. I'm definitely not a visionary more a doer. But these stories really made me think 'what is God calling me to do?'

Not all of us are 'called' into full time ministry in the church. It would be impossible for all of us to be teachers and pastors after all as there wouldn't be anyone to teach to!! However I think as Christians we are all called to be ambassadors for God in our daily lives. To me that means the way we act, the way we speak and the way we think. I've been reading the book of Timothy recently and came across this verse which I believe applies to all those who would call themselves christians:

'pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.'
1Timothy 6:11

My favourite song at the moment is the Chris Tomlin song 'I will Follow'. It talks about all God's ways being good and sure, about trusting God and His ways which are higher than ours. I'm not quite sure what God has planned for me, or what He is calling me to do next, or where in fact He's calling me to be, but I'm just going to keep trying to follow Him and trust in His ways.