1. I am still here
2. I am still probably not all there… but in a good way!
3. Spurs are still the greatest football team – they just hide it well.
4. The number of hours I have spent in our local A&E and fracture clinic has increased again due to another TeenSon rugby injury.
5. The cat is sitting on my lap.
6. I do not want to be a Bishop.
7. I do want to be a long distance lorry driver sometimes.
8. I am about to eat some cheese on toast (gluten free of course).
9. I will think about all the people who love me tomorrow even though there’s not one in particular and no slushy stuff.
10. You lot are wibbling wonderful. 😀
I love the beginning of a new year because there’s such potential to hope for what the year ahead will bring – and perhaps more to the point to hope for what I might bring to the new year. But the opposite of not fulfilling the resolutions and maybes of the new year isn’t, for me, disappointment but realism! I come up with all sorts of ways I’d love to change and improve as the new year chimes its beginning but fortunately God seems to accept the me I am more readily than I do, and though I’m sure he sees change along the way, he doesn’t expect wild improvements overnight! But what’s good about these ambititions is that even when I’ve managed to trip up by the 3rd of January and not become that mix of Desmond Tutu, Mother Teresa, John Sentamu, St. Peter and Jesus that I was aiming for – there have been little victories*! Perhaps more connection with my God, perhaps a literary book read, or some more theology studied, perhaps some little unseen kindnesses or a bit more generosity achieved. Perhaps a bit more order from the unfiled chaos, creativity in preaching, some letters written to friends or good time spent with Teenson? I know I can’t change overnight, but as the new year gets underway I can have a little look at how God sees me already and then aim high and hope in him. Little victories – because he’s already won the big one!
*Fletcher of ‘Porridge’ fame was heard to advise new inmates to the fictional Slade prison not to try and beat the system but look for “little victories” to get them through their time – a great expression!
I have had an ‘interesting’ week! I had the week off; I was looking forward to my week off; I had made some vague plans for my week off (you know, really exciting things like wander round the garden centre and spend a whole afternoon in Waterstones!). But then last Monday came, day 1, and I woke up with a rotten migraine. Monday really went out of the window, as did Tuesday. That’s ok, I knew I’d been worn out, I resigned myself to a proper start to holiday time on Wednesday. But on Wednesday I just felt peculiar and utterly exhausted, and by then just a little bit fed up too. On Thursday I still hadn’t moved far away from the chair and the computer (thank the Lord for online friends who I could talk to without having to move!). And on Thursday I had to miss going to be with a friend for a special occassion. On Friday the end of the holiday was looming fast and I’d only been as far as the postbox all week. But on Saturday I woke and knew that something had changed – there was a bit of energy and motivation back again. At least on Saturday evening I could get back to old hometown and old friends and then my parents’ house to keep the plans I’d made for that day. And those plans were so important because moving three times in the last six years has meant that friends aren’t always as close by as they once were. It’s a journey I’ve been willing to make as I follow where I’ve felt (and others have confirmed) God wants me to be. But it can be hard. I do give thanks that the places we’ve arrived at have had wonderful church communities and I love the ministry I’ve been given. I love the people I live among and serve with here and I thank God for the new friends among them, but I know I need to feed a bit more balance into my life. I need to not only try and do my job to the best of my (God enabling) ability, but also to be the best mum I can be, to feed us properly and get the rest I need, to be a taxi-driver and housekeeper (I won’t mention the garden!), to find time for those friends who refresh me and remind me that I’m not ploughing along on my own, to read and pray and keep my own spiritual life fresh and alive… and doing all of that is very hard when the job, which is so rewarding, is also without end. However full I make my days there are always so many more needs or situations or opportunities that could go on the ‘to do’ list – even when those things are for the equipping of others to share the mission of the church.
So, I’ve decided to be a failure! Now that’s not as bad as it sounds! If I think about the things that motivate me to press on and sometimes not get a proper balance I’d say they are 1) a strong desire to please God and try and discover, do and be all that he wills for me; 2) not to let down the people who trust a stipend to me, and to justify receiving it; 3) to try and meet the expectations of those alongside me and produce measurable results (even though God’s view of results may be quite different); 4) a desire to make God and his love known to people who are searching or lost or sad or without purpose and help to strengthen the faith of those who are on the path. Those I’d say are my most pressing motivators day by day, and they’re very difficult to measure. So I’m going to stop trying, keep serving with a measure of that balance thrown in and hope (and pray) for the best! I might find myself one day hearing “well done good and faithful servant”, or I might prove to be a huge disappointment to my God. I might end up getting the clerical equivalent of the sack for not growing a big enough church or filling the coffers or having enough programmes in place or doing what his people can’t see me doing. I might make no difference to the kingdom of God (though I pray I will).
So I’m going to assume the worst while hoping and praying for the best and try not to get to a point again resembling last Monday, because what good will I be to God or anyone?
Let’s see how I do when the demands start rolling in again. It feels quite a relief to accept the possibility of failure – some of the most inspiring characters in the Bible failed, but look what they did for God!
From Deeleea to Auntie Doris to me!
Bold is for Done. Italics is for would like to.
1. Started my own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than I can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sung a solo (does it have to be in public?)
11. Bungee jumped (no way!)
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea (as long as I’m on land)
14. Taught myself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown my own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train Chicago to Seattle an amazing trip (though I would like to go on the Orient Express)
21. Had a pillow fight
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run (does a rounder count?)
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught myself a new language (or at least refresh the ones I’ve learnt)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had my portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching (though would love to elephant watch again)
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a cheque
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car (well, nearly new!)
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (does trout fishing count?)
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club (online)
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
In times past I used to dwell in that place that feels like it’s on the edge of everybody else’s world. The place that feels like everyone else is connected, but you’re not, the place where “nobody cares”. It’s not a place I dwell in any more – I’m pleased to say, although there are strange little moments when I seem to pop back for a visit!
This week is one of those times. All sorts of silly and really, insignificant things keep popping up before me that remind me of that place where I am insignificant. Things that mean nothing on their own but that together make a big pile of rubbish!
It’s even starting to be funny!
Back in those days I remember reading Adrian Plass’s “Stress Family Robinson” where family friend ‘Dip’ spoke of her plan. At those times when she felt insignifcant and alone she would retreat and see if anyone would bother to come and find her, if anyone would notice. I remember reading it and thinking, “really, someone else has thought that – not just me?!” And that made me laugh too.
I’m glad to say that God is good at providing a way into healthy thinking, healing from the things that cause us to retreat and wallow… and sometimes reminders of where we’ve come from. I hope this visit won’t last too long.
When I lived more firmly in that old place, but was starting to move away, I felt that God showed me a spiral staircase down which I was walking. And at some point I had to step off the staircase, that’s all, or to put it in the Psalmist’s terms, to step from the mire to the rock. I had to let go of that seemingly comfortable place of assuming I knew what everyone else thought about me and learn some new stuff – which included what God might think, as well as what I’d decided too. And then to live with it, if what I thought they thought turned out to be true! Which seems to bring me back to where I started… on the edge!
When I moved from where I was to where I am now, just over a year ago, I wondered if I’d find any of those gem type places you come to discover and love when you’re familiar with somewhere. I loved my woods for quiet walks and places to ponder. (Some of those pictures are on my flickr pics under ‘Sunday wander’). But what was there going to be moving to just east of east London? Well for starters I have the Thames! Not a quaint little stretch of scenic river but a wide meander in the industrial zone – and I love it. Perhaps during this week’s holiday I’ll be able to take some pictures to post.
But what I’ve also discovered, up the road and into the country a bit, is a Country Park and it has all the promise of space and peace that I enjoyed in my beloved woods back ‘home’. The day I took these photos TeenSon and I had hired mountain bikes for a couple of hours and so explored properly.
I’ve just been randomly wandering through the archives of this blog and came across a ‘poem’* I wrote over a year and a half ago. Other than the fact that it’s Tuesday afternoon rather than Monday morning – not much has changed! Well, I am in a different church and town now, and I didn’t bring blessing to anyone yesterday – it was the first day of my week off and I felt rough. Maybe there was a bit of blessing on Sunday in all my efforts instead? Interesting looking back, isn’t it.
It’s Monday morn
and I’m sitting with tea,
the radio’s on
and I’m thinking with glee…
that though I get ratty
when I can’t change the world,
yesterday brought blessing
for one I upheld.
I wonder what God thinks
when I’m carried away,
with Razorlight singing
and chocolate; he’d say?
“It might not be worship,
in wonder and praise
but that stuff does bring joy
to most of your days!”
I do get quite knackered
but I musn’t say that!
My mum doesn’t like it
and would give me a slap;
I drive myself potty
with chaos and mess,
preferring things sorted
and then I don’t stress.
But I’ve never quite managed
to be all I could be…
perhaps I will look back
and see what God sees?
Recognition of good things, pleased with my days?
But it might take a long time
knowing me and my ways!
*Poem in inverted commas as I’m not sure I have the nerve to call my strings of words poems!
Right, now I’ve stopped playing around with my shiny new wiblog – well the decision making process on themes and layouts can be a tricky one – I will pause and say THANKYOU to Chris and Dave for all the work involved in our transformation!
Through the course of this morning I have tried on a number of different ‘outfits’, finally deciding on this outdoorsy, cloudy ensemble. You may also have noticed a bit of a name change… still Chelley, though no longer ‘of the Shire’. I can’t promise that the new appearance will have any affect on what’s inside… but you never know!
Well, I feel as though this first post on my sparkling new style wiblog should be profound and meaningful. It might not be that, but at least it can mark the new start and rather a time lapse since my last post.
So, what can I tell you? I’m starting a week’s holiday today – or I will be when I’ve got the last remaining things I needed to do, done! That’s proving to be much slower than I hoped as I’ve had a rotten headache all morning.
So hopefully, this week will provide me with opportunities to catch up with a few things and get out and about a bit. I did manage to get out and about on my day off on Friday. I met a friend over at Hatfield House (actually, the grounds of) for the Christmas Craft Fair. The fair itself was very good, but the most memorable thing for me (as well as seeing my friend of course) was the drive through the grounds of the house to get to the field where the marquee was. The lane through was lined with trees and the leaves had turned wonderful golden shades of orange and yellow – and the ground was carpeted too. It was beautiful.
Have you ever had one of those laughing fits that threatens to come at such an inappropriate time or place that you have to pretty much stuff your fist in your mouth and try with all your strength to keep it in?
I can remember a good few years ago when I was a table leader on an Alpha course, and my table was for the teenagers doing the course. We were all in the big hall, lots of groups, and our table was right by the speaker. Unfortunately something that was said just hit a nerve and I grinned and it made me chuckle – but then I caught someone’s eye and the hysterics threatened to hit. I was supposed to be there to facilitate the post-talk discussion of course, but also to keep the yoof in good order while we were with everyone else! But through at least 10 minutes of talk I was having to sit with my fist in my mouth, looking at the floor and shoulders shaking to try and contain the laughter. I can’t even remember what set me off on that occassion.
Then there was the time at my friend’s wedding. I was sitting in the middle of a packed church in a row of friends and another friend was preaching the sermon. And one simple line set me off – the passage was Ecclesiastes and my preacher friend was talking about the bride and groom and cleaving together – that kind of thing – and once the image of them as cleavage hit my mind, that was it – fist in mouth – eyes wide in the panic of trying desperately to get control of myself and not disrupt their special service. I saw H next to me with her shoulders shaking too and that just made it worse – look anywhere else but DON’T let yourself see her laughing!!
And then last week, not me this time, but a girl from TeenSon’s college and her mum! We were there for an evening meeting about the UCAS application process, sitting right at the back of the lecture hall when towards the end of the presentation came the sound of muffled noises. I thought someone was crying but it turned out to be this girl having an absolute fit of the giggles and trying to keep it in! I’ve got no idea what hit the funny nerve for her.
And this week. I was taking the communion service, just a little group of us, and we got to the Sanctus – the Holy, holy, holies – and one person just responded in such a way (the nearest I can get to describe it is as if an Irishman started the response a second before everyone else, said “holy, holy, holy” very fast and loud – see, not even that funny!) and it just made me smile as we carried on. But then the thought stayed there and the giggles threatened – at that most reverent moment I had to contain the grin and giggles. Well, I always focus very clearly on the words I’m praying in the Eucharistic prayer, but never more so than that day as I tried to stop playing the voice back in my head. I wonder if God would have forgiven me for suggesting it was ‘the joy of the Lord’ if the laughter had hit?
Hmmm, I’m sure all my laughter doesn’t happen in church, but these ones certainly stick – whatever was God thinking about, calling me to be a vicar?! You have to laugh!