Thursday, 30 June 2011

Why now?

I finally felt inspiration for a title - only took 12 hours. Good job I am not a novelist!

I was alerted to some very interesting statistics via The Ugley Vicar and  Maggi Dawn which pose an equally if not more interesting question. Why is God calling younger men and older women? I urge you to read the blogs above for a more eloquent response to this question, however I thought I post this as my personal point of view. As if it is God's will I may be part of similar statistics at some point.

To make this topic personal I need to ask the question a little differently: Why did I get to thirty without exploring my sense of call in any serious way (despite the fact that I have sensed God wanting to use me for His service in some way since I was mid to late teens)?

  • I was always aware of my need for God, I was unaware of his love for me until mid-twenties. When I say unaware, of course knew God cares how I lived and behaved and my need to confess my misdemeanors and receive absolution of them. I was aware of a loving God but it didn't hit me that God LOVES me.
  • I never knew what I wanted to do with my life. Although acutely aware (usually after the event) of God's presence in each and every part of my life good and bad, I was waiting for that final push. A bolt of lightening and the national lottery "It's You!" advert happening directly to me. I focused on making enough money to live on but never career driven at all, hated the cut-throat aspects of business and could never be an apprentice for Lord Sugar. I focused on doing the task I was given to the best of my ability whilst simultaneously trying to make it as straight forward for everyone as possible. A stressful approach in retail but one I consciously chose. I also spent as much if not more of my time helping volunteers who worked with me and my paid colleagues with their personal problems/difficulties  as I did my actual work. I wanted to help. I wanted them to have some idea of this unfailing love and acceptance I had found in God through me.
  • I had many many great clergy role models, people for whom Christ really shines through, but only a couple of these were female and all were a couple of generations (at least) ahead of me. Although both my parents supported the ordination of women the actual lack of evidence of women as priests in my day to day church life had an impact on the discernment of my own calling.
  • As a clergy child, I also spent most of my time worshpping in churches where the president at the Eucharist was my Dad, that also affected my idea of the CofE and my place in it, both positively and negatively.
  • Times and circumstances. I married young with the full intention of starting a family and continuing to produce children until we felt our family complete. By the time we realised we were going to be going down a different route to children my darling husband was actively discerning his own call. I talked a lot during that time about supporting his journey (including to the DDO) and it was privately difficult for me to talk about "him" and God all the time but not even the Curate knew that. My support was and is sincere in the truest possible sense, but I am no longer limited by it. I do not need to keep quiet for fear of "stealing his thunder" in some way. However as things stand I am aware that I will continue to play "second fiddle" to a certain extent and I am content with that. I wish to add as a response to the comments posts that second fiddle in this context is not meant to be negative. If it is God's will I would wish for a joint ministry in which my husband and I could offer our own unique gifts. I feel that the Church of England is still getting to grips with married couples in ministry and suspect a reasonable amount of give and take will be required for us to fullfil joint and individual callings. This is in no way suggesting that it should be so for all/any other clergy couples. Neither does it suggest that men should automatically take the lead. However as God has seen fit to lead us to one another and we gave ourselves to each other in marriage, I would see fit to defer to the sure and constant guide for the next stage of my journey.
  • I needed a nudge, a direct nudge from God that was too difficult to ignore. No lightning bolts or pointing fingers though, just God saying "You are good enough, I want you." On Maundy Thursday this year I heard that and have seen our Vicar and the DDO.
This seems a bit long and rambly and probably of limited use. We shall see, and if so I shall edit! :-)

Saturday, 25 June 2011

History Repeating Itself

One October night 15 years ago we had a special delivery. Seven puppies arrived in their crate. They were small and perfectly formed and looked like funny coloured miniature dachshunds to begin with.  They had come into rescue after an accident between a newly formed couple and their non- neutered Labrador and Dachshund. 15 year old me was overwhelmed with joy, they were perfect. Our two Labradors Katie who was about 11 at the time, and Bruce aged 9 years, were not as keen but they coped! The little bundles of fun chased the cat, chewed everything they could get their paws on, and used Bruce and Katie as live dog beds. For a time, we had 9 dogs in the house! It was truly crazy.

Jack was the only completely blond one, and we named him after the Leeds United legend Jack Charlton, he was going to stay in our family. Eventually the others were re-homed and it was Bruce, Katie and Jack (and Johnie the cat).

Jack was a prolific chewer, aluminium saucepan lids were no obstacle, kitchen lino was mere paper to his super sharp teeth. When he ate Dad's diary, I had to remove him from the house for his own safety! The diary was the straw that broke the camel's back. However he was still a joy and a delight and lovely to be around.

We moved when Jack was 4 years old, by this time elderly Katie had been put to sleep, and Bruce was slowing down measurably but Jack was full of life! He loved Bruce deeply and was his little blond shadow at all times, when Bruce died, he was very distressed.

Then when Jack was 9 my Dad became very ill and spent long periods in and out of hospital including a long stint at Kings College London. Mum decided that a friend of hers who dogsitted could take Jack on permanently. Her son re-homed Jack and he went to live with Dino another big dog friend until Dino's death a couple of years ago. Jack remains with his new owner, he is slowing down now as he is nearly 15. Mum sees him regularly though and delights in informing us of his exploits!

The other day I was browsing the Internet for no other reason than boredom, I looked up puppies for sale in this area. The third advert caught my eye. Labrador Dachshund Cross puppies born on the day of the royal wedding. I gave the lady a call, and sure enough her show Labrador had been in season, kept safely away from the other pedigree labs as a litter was not desired, and the household's pet daschund had managed the impossible! I of course, knew that this was by no means impossible!

So after wanted a second dog for a long time, on Monday we are collecting a new Labrador Dachshund cross who shall be called Bobby in homage to the other Charlton named Dachsador, from my previous life! I can't wait!!!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Health Scares Can Seriously Damage Your Health

The media loves a good health scare to attempt to worry the nation into a frenzy. Tell me please Mr Newspaper, what may I eat, drink, smell, see today which may kill me? If they all are to be believed we would be existing on a diet of brown rice, (cooked in water from a bottle which wont leak chemicals) from a saucepan which wont leak metallic particles into our boring culinary experience. Ok so I may be being a little sarcastic here, just a tincy wincy little bit.

There was a very amusing discussion about the latest of these scares this morning at coffee after the 9.30 service. Half a dozen of our congregation were sharing the news that over 65s should limit their alcohol consumption drastically. A number in the group were debating whether they should guzzle merrily this year because they would soon turn the magic age of 65, when the would need to cut back on their alcohol consumption! Many more were sharing stories of elderly people they new who got through tankers of Guinness a week and followed that with a whisky chaser as a night-cap and yet lived to their eighth or ninth decade. Interestingly when I googled the story, the top two reports were from the Daily Mail (that well known medical journal). On closer inspection it appears that the suggested intake of 1.5 units for men and 1 for women over 65 has come about because of a concern about 'hidden addicts', over 65s with alcohol dependency issues. This is surely a whole other topic, guidelines don't cure addicts!

Anyway, I and many others will no doubt continue to take the media's scares with a large pinch of low sodium salt, and use common sense, medical advise and the world health organisation to help each and every one of us decide our own risk factors. 

Saturday, 18 June 2011


It's Father's Day tomorrow and I have been unsurprisingly thinking about my Dad again.

Dad's hands were very special (obviously the rest of him was quite nice too). Mum apparently "fell for his hands". They were always soft, and beautifully proportioned (unlike Mums). Right into adulthood I would hold Dad's hands when we were out and about. Mum on one side of Dad, yours truly on t'other. I spent many hours holding his hand in various ICU units over the years, and held his still warm hands just after he died as I said goodbye. So I wrote a little poem I have dedicated to Daddy's lovely hands. It's not perfect but it pleases me so I shall share it with you.

Sending Father's Day wishes to Dads who are still here with us in this life (including my lovely Father in Law David and my God-father Kenneth) and those who are already with their Heavenly Father.

The long slender fingers of hands
that hold their perfect fit, firmly,
holding close.

The gentle grip of hands, hold a baby
hold safely, and nervously, new father
rocking his daughter.

The secure hands that hold an evening pipe
and tap down the baccy, holding the bowl
smoking slowly.

The hand that grips his daughter's tightly
as he walks her down the aisle to wed
shaking gently.

The hands that hold aloft the Host,
Raised in blessing, anoiting with oil,
sharing peace.

The hands his daughter strokes gently,
Kisses the bruising and swelling
wounding needle.

The hands awaiting one last kiss,
Mother caresses, daughter holds them,
kissing goodbye.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Reflecting on Birthdays

Little Bear is 5 today, a time of great excitement for him and great joy at the extra attention and presents he receives and rightly so. He asked this morning if he had any more birthdays this year, and it was explained that we all have one birthday celebration - it is on the day we were born. This was accepted and he continued to admire his presents pile. This is the only birthday which Little Bear has celebrated with us, which has passed (so far) without any behaviour meltdowns, and for a child who is adopted this aspect of birthdays is not unusual, so therefore I have lots more reason personally to celebrate this year.

It did get me thinking about what a birthday celebration means, and I would like to share my own personal thoughts.

As a child a birthday was to celebrate getting a year older, I counted through the year in fractions until the day dawned and the postman arrived with my lovely cards. That was it.

As a adult a birthday still means another year older, but that isn't greeted with as much relish as those childhood birthdays. A birthday also offers me a chance to look back nostalgicly to my own birth, and root through my photographs of babyhood giving thanks for the people who helped (giving God some credit there) to give me life.

As a married woman my birthday is also my wedding anniversary and I get the chance to admire the wedding video (in private). Two doses of nostalgia for the price of one!

As a Mum, and particularly as an adoptive Mum, my child's birthday is a real source of mixed emotions. I am proud of the person my Little Bear is growing into, and of the great changes that occured in the preceeding year. I rightly celebrate his excitement, and do not shirk from explaining the meaning of the day to him, even when I was not a factor in that part of his life. Equally, whilst baking his cake this morning, I shed a tear for the woman who gave him life, and in whose womb he was formed. I thought about her, and whether she was thinking of Little Bear, and feeling sadness. I thought of the siblings he has and whether they are thinking of him, and in a brief prayer I joined my thoughts with theirs. "Tell them he is safe Lord, he is happy, he knows the love him and think of him."

Lastly in a moment of purely selfish emotion I shed a tear for me, when I went to use the bathroom and discovered that on this day, the day we celebrate our darling son emerging safely from 38 weeks in his mother's womb, I have started my monthly bleed. My womb will not ever help to bring a child to birth.

The last paragraph is in many ways irrelevant, it is a glimpse into a private pain which although long since reconciled, still has occasion to move me. It's irrelevant because I have the joy and pleasure of seeing Little Bear grow into a very special child, for whom both sets of parents should be rightly very proud. He grew under his mother's heart, and in mine.

Happy Birthday Little Bear.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

My child, my choice?

"Sarah Burge has boasted how she gave a voucher for the procedure to her daughter, Poppy, to use when she is 16.
The 50-year-old, whose comments come in the week ministers vowed to crack down on the sexualisation of children, said her girl ‘squealed with delight’ when given the £6,000 gift.
Poppy said: ‘I wanted a new computer, a holiday and a voucher for surgery. When I got it all, it was a dream come true. I can’t wait to be like mummy with big boobs.’
Her mother, from St Neots, Cambridgeshire, has spent more than £500,000 on her own surgery so she looks like Barbie.
She hit the headlines last year when she revealed she was giving Poppy pole-dancing lessons."

Read more:

Needless to say, the £6,000 would have been better placed in a bond for Poppy to do with as she saw fit when she herself becomes an adult. However the issue here is not the money spent but the gifts on which the mother saw fit to spend it.

Sarah is well within her rights to spend her money on her daughter what parent wouldn't wish to indulge their child on their birthday, but by giving Poppy this gift, in my opinion she undermines her love for her daughter. She has sent a clear message to her 7 year old, not that she should be proud of who she is and how she has been created, but rather she should be confident in her mother's ability to provide the money to fund any alterations.

I truly feel sad for Sarah and young Poppy, they can't possibly understand the words of Psalm 139 verse 14:

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well."
Earlier in the week, I got involved in the Radio 2 debate via Twitter on the sexualisation of children by clothing retailers. I made a naive and foolish comment.

"The best way to stop this is for parents to take control - Don't buy the clothes! "

Foolish and naive I realise because, for some parents, these clothes are exactly what they wish to buy! If they are available there will be a market for them, just as a voucher for a boob job can be bought for a 7 year old girl.

Suddenly I feel very old.

I was completely out of the loop regarding sex education until at least senior school, I wouldn't have ever been bought a figure hugging top or micro mini by my parents at any time. Neither were my friends or acquaintances at primary school (I would have remembered as Mum would have complained voiciferously and embarrassingly). Experimentation with make-up, skirt lengths, push up bras etc all happened at senior school  in those rights of passage years. I left primary school only 20 years ago. When did it suddenly become fashionable to tart up your toddler if you are so inclined? I don't remember. However I am very glad that organisations such as Mother's Union, and Mumsnet, are continuing to put pressure on the government and retailers with their campaigns. 


Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Assembly Joy

'We wish you many happy returns of the day, we hope you will be healthy and strong all the way, strong to do right, slow to do wrong, and thoughtful for others all they day long'
The same song was sung by my primary school to children with birthdays coming up, and the words are as appropriate today as they were 26 years ago when I heard it for the first time.

Today was Little Bear's birthday assembly, and we were invited to be there to celebrate it with him, (and the other reception child who had a recent birthday). As all the children were gathering in the hall, a stage whisper was heard from the gathered reception children "This is sooooooooo exciting!". The next noise was Little Bear's teacher attempting to stifle her giggles.

My beautiful boy stood up proudly with the teacher in front of the whole of Key Stage One and answered her questions without fear or over excited silliness. I am so pleased with him, and for him, he was beaming with pride all the way through. He then sat quietly whilst the teacher went through the other birthday and a few certificates and other achievements.
For a child who started Reception with very low self esteem and an inibility to be still at any point, this was quite an achievement... I am not going to mention the rest of the assembly was spent rolling the piece of blutack his class teacher provides for these occasions, on the hall floor.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

I have an itchy chin... really I have an itchy chin!

This is the third recurrence of little blister like spots all over my hands, neck and face - particularly my chin.

The first occurrence was the worst really, extreme bad timing. I started with the spots 2 weeks before our wedding, by a week before I had open sores on my neck which I kept covered with a cotton scarf when out and about because it really hurt when they got aired, but I knew they needed the air to dry out and heal. In what can only be described as an answer to prayer they healed up and I was spot free for my wedding.

The second time was after exposure to sun on holiday last year, I treated with antihistamine cream and a fortnight later it was almost gone.

This time, it BLOODY ITCHES!!!! I am treating with antihistamine cream, as well as my daily hay fever meds. It still woke me up in the night for an hour of trying to restrain myself from pulling my skin off!

Still no clue what IT is...

Pharmacist thought an allergy rash but so rare that I have ruled that out, unless a heat allergy. I was brought up by a former nurse and therefore don't want to waste the docs time with an itchy rash that eventually clears up by itself - it's hard to remember that when you need to wear scratch mitts to go to sleep aged 30!!

Friday, 3 June 2011

A Lovely Holiday

I have just come back from my 2nd holiday of the year (I am a very fortunate girl this year). This holiday was different, as it was just The Curate, Little Bear and Myself. No extended family, not even the gorgeous and extremely lovable Monty the doodle.

Little Bear was very well behaved and in control on the journey down to my mum's (from here on in known as Nanna) house. We had a lunch which Nanna had lovingly prepared, and LB went to check out his room, and make sure all the toys Nanna keeps there were present and correct. He came down and announced "Nanna's house will always be the same." which is Little Bear speak for "I feel safe and secure knowing that Nanna has these things she keeps for me." Over lunch, Little Bear quizzed Nanna on whether she was "lonely being here on your own?" Wise words from my almost 5 year old. He was over joyed when he asked whether Nanna missed Monty dog and she replied "I miss you!" though.

We left Monty dog at Mums and went on our way to our holiday accommodation, a caravan, compact and bijoux on a Bunns Leisure holiday park. Now, I think holiday parks are extremely under-rated. The caravan was big enough for us 3 (although would have been tight with the maximum 6 plus luggage allowed). The children's funfair had well priced and sensible speed rides for a 'children's funfair'. The Go Karts were reasonably priced and entertaining - although much fun  was had (by LB and I) watching the Curate try on every single helmet in the place before settling on one which fitted but left a red welt on his forehead after. The boys had a great time on crazy golf (Little Bear's favourite activity). It was worth the sheer hell of the noisy overcrowded changing rooms to see LBs smiling face beaming with enjoyment the whole time we were in the pool. We flew a kite on the beach and had a quiet afternoon of watching LB paddle in the sea.

I have sung the praises of a park based caravan holiday so for balance some of the irksome bits.

Little Bear hardly slept (usual on a first night on hols but lasted all week this time) the noise, the light evenings (which the holiday camp can't help with I know), and the narrow caravan bed, all resulted in seriously diminished sleep for LB. I slept fine, the Curate tells me nights were noisy!

Being just the three of us meant evening entertainment was limited to the 4 channels on the tiny telly, and twitter on our phones. Although the programme at the pubs and bars looked good...

Seriously though...

The holiday was fab! Good fun, just the three of us, and Nanna had Monty for company - everyone's a winner. Although Monty may disagree, at 2 years old he had never had a professional groom - until Nanna got involved!!

He looks even more gorgeous though!