Photo credits

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

Thursday, February 27

Too soon?

My wonderful mum passed away nearly a year ago.

I still have her last message on the answer phone.  I still have the number for her now empty house in my contacts list.

When, if ever, is it appropriate to delete them?

Making room for prayer

A prayer room has mysteriously appeared at my workplace.

To find it you have to go to the forgotten end of the unused corridor in the building's nethers.  We only found it by accident in a notice on a rarely used part of the corporate intranet.

The room is small, about 2m by 2m.  It is painted pure white, with no decorations or furniture.  It's only contents are some muslim prayer mats folded neatly in the corner.

So, its existence must have ben arranged by the muslims.  This means that they have a right to some sense of ownership of it.  But of course the company cannot declare it to be a muslim prayer room, they have to be impartial.  Which means that we as a long-standing prayer group that welcomes all comers have a right to use it.  (yes we welcome all comers but the prayers we offer are Christian prayers in the name of Jesus)

So how do we go about using the room in a way that is appropriately assertive without it being unnecessarily antagonistic?

Colleagues have suggested placing Bibles, hassocks, pictures, or even a fountain in there.  A more sensible suggestion is a couple of folding chairs.

But perhaps all we should do is go in there and pray, when it is not in use by others.

Wednesday, February 26

More Tough days ahead

... I can't say all for confidentiality reasons but there will be political fallout and unforeseeable repurcussions from recent events and a new email from my wife to a senior clergyman this morning.  There will be a storm.  Mrs and I will be at the centre of it and be held to blame by many.   mrs will be able to take shelter, but I won't.  Not looking forward to it one bit.  Please pray.

Tuesday, February 25

The divine art of flattening batteries

As part of my wifes therapy I took her to visit the village where we are buying a holiday flat.  She has galen completely in love with the place.  But it was seriously lashing with rain.  We had a picnic sitting in the car, with the windscreen wipers going so that we could see the sea, and of course started so long that we ran the battery flat.  We called the breakdown service.  Chatting with the mechanic I said scoot how end are buying a holiday flat but want to make sure we use local services as much as possible but hadn't planned on starting with a car mechanic.  But he was really friendly and have me his personal number, so that I will be able to call him to get recommendations for local tradesmen.  It felt like God had appointed the meeting and that the flat battery was therefore no accident.


My five year old got locked in the bathroom.  Had to kick the door in to rescue her.  Took three attempts, the final one being a two-footed drop kick.  If I liked Chuck Norris movies I'm sure I would find a scene to compare it too.

She told all her school friends, so when I twang the bell to collect her from after-school-club the teacher said 'I'm surprised you didn't just kick the door down!'  My reputation goes before me!

Tough days

Mrs ordination interview did not go well.  The vicar had given get a bad reference, so she had no chance.

So I spent most of the weekend spending money to make her feel better.  But in the end the nation thing I could do for her was a long email to the hierarchy explaining how the vicar had been blighting her life for the last ten years with his prejudice and psychological bullying.  She is totally trapped.

so we feel that a burden has ben lifted in the sense that we have finally told someone in authority what is going on.  But I also worry what the fallout will be after sending this political hand grenade in.  what unforeseeable results will hit us?

Friday, February 21

Pastoral guidance on gay marriage

Please follow the link below to the Church of England's pastoral guidance on the issue of gay marriage.

I find some causes for encouragement. 
LGBT people will be welcomed into the life of the church.
There is an acceptance that consciencous dissent is sometimes necessary.
And there will be an ongoing dialogue.

However, on the whole, while it speaks soft words, it remains a fairly harsh document.

The promise to welcome these people into the life of the church is a hollow promise, since they will be excluded from celebrating their marriage in the church or from being ordained as ministers in it.  They will be second-class citizens.

And while consciencous dissent is acknowledged, it won't be tolerated in the case of gay weddings.  So that's a 'NO', then.

So that places ask of the burden of optimism on the dialogue.  I hope it can take the strain!

Important day for Mrs

Please pray for my wife as she meets the diocesan director of ordinands.  She wants to do her training at a different church since she doesn't get on with our vicar.

Tuesday, February 18

Hit and run

The road to the car park was closed by police today.  Apparently a cyclist was knocked over by a hit and run driver and taken to hospital in the nearest city.  Pray he is ok and that they catch the driver.

Sticky shirt (sartorially challenged)

My mole bled over my white office shirt.  It had been sore for a few days, and today I must have knocked the top off it. 

So I faced a day of getting funny looks for blood stains all over my back.  I remembered that I had my case for my overnight stay in the cart with a casual shirt for tomorrow.  So I walked to the car park (20 minutes) changed shirt, waited for the shuttle bus (10 minutes) and rode back to the office (10 minutes). 

Sitting in office wearing a dark blue shirt with small white patches that look like I am a careless painter but if you look carefully they are swans in different poses of flight.

So far only one person has given me stick, commenting on my 'unconventional' shirt.  The rest are politely silent.  But I know what they are thinking!

Friday, February 14

Heart stopping

While with my wife for her orthopaedics appointment and waiting fire her xray, there was a commotion in the corridor just round the corner.  various thumpy noises and a man shouting 'Nurse' and 'Fight it, Dad'.  hospital staff started appearing from all directions.  I poked a head round the corner - there was a man about 60 lying on the floor, already with the crash trolley there and 3 or 4 people massaging his upper arms.  It carried on, with more people arriving.  About 10 people now.  "Theres no pulse".  'Fight it, Dad' Mrs and I started praying.  About 20 people next time I nosed.  'Fight it, Dad'  More prayer.  About 30 people now.  Then a cough.  A change of mood - the tension gone.  More coughs.  Next time I looked there were 30 spectators, rather than 30 helpers, each with that slight smile that comes from a good outcome in an awkward situation.

Basically, a man nearly died very close to me, but thanks to people who came running, he was saved and will live on.  And another man will have his Dad for a few more years.

It wasn't the moment for me as an unconnected onlooker with little knowledge of what was going on to decide that it had been successful and start a round of applause.  But may I do so now in this forum?  Join me in a standing ovation with full whistling, to those who step in to save a life.



(This episode was an example of something that I often find, that I get emotional when people come together with a common purpose.  It somehow reflects the glory of God.  And this case was of course even more emotional, with it being near-death and with the son being present.)

Wife happier

She was told today by a new surgeon that she doesn't need the ankle surgery: orthopaedic sites will do the job better.  This means not being out of action for three months.  God is good!

Also she got a merit for her dissertation proposal.  Result!

Rogue traders

Got totally ripped off by an internet website we thought was the passport office.  At least a genuine mugger is honest enough to hold a gun to your head, but these people have no shame.

Woolly liberals

I can't believe I have just recommended to my wife that she visit the local progressive christian movement church.  My parents will be turning in their graves.  I can't wait to get into my have so that I can turn in it too.

Flowers - a very nice way to make your lover smile for a short while

Oh thank you dear, they're nice.  [count .... 1 ... 2 ... 3]  can you putt then in a vase for me?

And then it's over till next year.

Thursday, February 13

Storms of life

While the uk has been battered by floods, winds and waves, our church life also feels battered.

The situation is much as it was some years ago when we first left the church.  Everything that my wife does, every initiative that she leads, is crushed, while lesser people are promoted and praised.  Wee don't resent their success: its not their fault that they have the vicars kind eye.  But he dislikes my wife, so matter what she shoes for the Lord in the church, he finds a way to demoralise her.  He closes her opportunities to speak, while allowing others to say what they want.  Where she does loads of work for the poor, someone else is appointed 'social action leader' having visited one tramp in hospital.  And when he can't deny that my wifes initiative is a good one, he places it under the leadership of a less experienced man rather than letting her lead her own initiatives.

A large part of us wants to just jack it in and leave again.  Either angrily like last time with lots of letters and shouting matches, or just slip away quietly.

But our children are still flourishing in the church and we don't want to disrupt them again.

Also, it would be unrighteous.

Also, we believe we are called to ordination, and the diocese is hardly likely to agree if we keep church-hopping.

So we must grit our teeth.  but it is hard for mrs to flourish in a church where the vicar hates her.  And it is hard for me to serve with sure respect as a Reader under the leadership of a man who hates my wife and whose every action inflicts further psychological harm on her.  If he literally kicked her in the face he would be arrested and put in prison.  I'm not sure why the mental damage he is doing should be treated any less severely.

We trust that we are called by God to ordination, and that one day the vicar will see her in her robes and black scarf, being ordained by his boss the bishop, and that her will eat his hat and finally acknowledge that she is a true and effective minister of God.

Friday, February 7

Spending the inheritance

We have foolishly agreed to the purchase of a two bed apartment in a scenic area, with a sea view (through the trees).

We intend to use this as a holiday home for ourselves, and may also let it out as a holiday flat in sure course to help subsidise its running costs.

Perhaps more importantly than either of those is that we also intend to use out to provide free holidays for low income families recommended to us by their churches.

Mrs is fully convinced that this is the Lord's will, that he has guided us to this property, closed the door on others, etc.  And I don't disagree with her.  But I am perhaps a little more earthly-minded than she is, fretting about the £10k shortfall in our funds.  Mrs is convinced that if it is the Lord's will, the money will appear when we need it.  My own experience of 'living by faith' as the son of missionaries is that often things do not work out as neatly as we would expect them to.  Sometimes we are expected to rough it.  The Apostle Paul was in the Lord's will, yet he was frequently beaten up and frequently hungry.

So I have grave concerns over how it is going to work out.