Photo credits

The Embalse de Riano in northern Spain. The picture was taken by .... me!

Tuesday, March 22

Family news

Full house Sunday night for the first time in ages: eldest back from college, second back on a surprise visit from his year in industry.

Evening service

I tried the evening service at our new church this weekend. Only 20 people there, sitting in the choir stalls. But for many churches this would be a good number for their main service – so can’t complain.

The service was much more Anglican than at our old church, following the liturgy closely.

Apart form the curate, no one made any attempt to welcome me, though they were friendly enough when I spoke to them.

The sermon was good.

I was sitting right next to the organ, and in the smaller space the singing was much better than I feel it is in the morning service when there are about 200 present.

Despite it being in many ways not the deep arms-raising intimate worship I miss form the old church, it was very good as an oasis from my busy life – a time of enforced quiet. I will be going again!

Play church idea

This has been very much on the back burner while Mrs. has been ill. But we did go there this Sunday to meet a potential couple who have been struggling recently. We recently dismissed the idea of having them as joint leaders, as they reported each other to be ‘out of faith’. But it turns out they have been attending a local Baptist church, and seemed to be in a better place. In fact they seemed to think they were pasturing us! They were formerly members of our old church, and now that we have the opportunity to compare stories it seems that their problems were very similar to ours, and involving the same problem people at the old church. So it was nice. But they also seemed to contradict themselves (and us!) so I don’t know where this will end up.

On one level it was the play church – families meeting for fellowship while the children play together – and though it was very informal it was probably close to our objective.

Church update

It was hard work this week. We’ve recently stopped baby form having a dummy, so it was quite intensive for the first 15 mins. Then she went into crèche with Mrs, but by then my brain was fried and although the sermon was good, I can’t remember much.

I struggle with worship at this church. The organist and choir are all elderly ladies, pitching the songs very high, and I have no chance. I end up coughing with a sore throat. Some songs are band-led, which are better, but the band has no strong lead vocal and you feel lost.

Mrs says the crèche was a dead loss too, the lady doing a teaching session that was good but aimed at the older ones with insufficient recognition of the little ones. It was a baptism Sunday with several visitors, who clearly hadn’t felt the crèche met their needs. Its good in the sense that there is a clear need which Mrs can meet, but how to do so without causing offense to those that are already working hard with devotion, if limited skill?

Thursday, March 17


Mrs bumped into an former member of our old church at a another toddler group today. What do these ladies have in common?
  1. Former childrens workers at our old church
  2. Felt underappreciated
  3. Tried to do something special with the kids work
  4. Were told they were expecting too much
  5. Treated very rudely by the same man, who is now the Sunday School Superintendent

Wednesday, March 16

How’s it going at our new church?

We have noticed for the last two weeks that they have been appealing for help with the toddler group.

Even though I felt this was a perfect opportunity for her, Mrs has been reluctant to get involved. Having been hurt by the previous church, its once bitten twice shy. Also, it is very inconvenient to get there: being arthritic she’s not going to walk the 10 miles. She does not drive and there is no direct rail or bus route.

But eventually she agreed to go, just as one of the mums rather than as a helper, because she wanted to see what it is before committing herself too deeply to withdraw if she doesn’t like it.

So I took a detour on my usual commuting trip to drop her off. The car park was jammed full, and women with pushchairs were converging from all directions – a good sign!

She seemed quiet and tense when I got home, and wouldn’t say anything till the kids had gone to bed, so I feared the worst.

But she had had a fantastic time. The entire set up was exactly aligned with her own approach to running a children’s work. Bright colours, good quality toys laid out in planned areas. Refreshments provided for young and old, but children kept away from hot coffees. It was right up her street. Everything organised, but not rigid. It is a popular toddler group – apparently they had 90 children last week! The only thing was that she saw no craft activity, but that is one of her strong points where she can make a contribution. So she was very happy about it, and will certainly go again and see if she can make herself available as a helper in some capacity. It was a complete contrast to our old church, whose toddler group [which Mrs was not part of the team running it] charges twice as much but only has dingy second hand toys, no refreshments, etc etc, -and dwindling attendance.

Her tension arose from her return trip. She had to walk 20 minutes to the town centre, which was harder on her arthritis than she expected (There is no such thing as a folding push chair that is easy to push). She had lunch at MacDonald’s and took the baby to the toilet there, and then went to the bus station. There, the baby – who is very well toilet trained – grunted and filled her pants with poo. Mrs had to use the bus station toilet to clean her up. She would struggle with this kind of thing at home, but in a public toilet with a dirty floor and a struggling toddler – it was a complete nightmare. Stressed from that, she came out to find the bus about to go. And then she couldn’t get the pushchair to fold up and the bus driver was shouting at her to hurry up. In the end she carried it o unfolded and lifted it onto the luggage tray, overstressing her joints in the process. The bus lurched as it started before she had sat down. There were no seats together. The one good thing was a teenager who gave up his seat for her to sit with her baby – so credit to him. And of course we have recently stopped the toddler form having a dummy so it was “I want my dummy!” loudly up and down the bus for half the journey.


God definitely wants us to go to this new church. He saw the way she was treated at the old church, and has taken her out of the place where her skills and philosophy are not wanted and put her in a place where she fits.

The devil does not want us at this church, and will do what he can to discourage and make it seem impractical.

Monday, March 7

Church update

We actually made it there this week. Rather distracted – my daughter peed all over my lap just after we sat down. The Mrs ended up in crèche for the rest of the service. Our son still greatly enjoys the Sunday School.

And the weekly leaflet included an appeal for more helpers in the mid-week toddler group (since they are getting 90 kids there!), and although we didn’t think it was possible for her to go to this in fact its not so bad if I drop her off on the way to work. So Mrs is going to explore signing up as a helper, and this may be the beginning of the reason why God has [adjustment bureau style] moved us to this church.

So the clouds are lifting on her health, and the clouds are lifting on our church troubles.

The Adjustment Bureau (film review)

It’s a very good film. Enjoyed it very much on three levels:

  1. It a good thriller
  2. It goes a bit deeper, asking questions about the interaction of free will and ‘fate’ (i.e. predestination but in secular language). It makes a premise and then examines how that premise might work. (But don’t get too deep – its just a movie)
  3. It was just right for my wife and I in our present situation, wondering if we have gone ‘off the plan’ by leaving our old church, and being reassured by God through the movie that we are OK.

Rheumatoid arthitis flare-up

I think it was back in Feb. that I reported my wife had had a steroid injection for her arthritis.

It didn’t work.

She went back a week later for another.

It didn’t work.

And another.

It didn’t work.

Finally, she went in again, and this time asked for the injections to be given straight into her knees. This time it does seem to have taken effect, although she is not back to what she was before the flare up. She is back on her feet, and can manage a more or less normal life. I am back at work, and back in the bedroom.

Today we went for the second required check up prior to starting her new drugs, and being trained in how to do the injections. They are going to try to get her started on it before our holiday in April.