Thursday, 17 December 2009


Advent is all about waiting....  I can't say I am a particularly patient person and it seems to be getting worse as I get older.  Still wait I must.  Have you ever waiting for a bus that doesn't arrive?  Then four buses come along at the same time.  This is the world of Jo at the moment.  Christmas it seems is just around the corner - or at least I hope it is. 

May the Lord bless you and keep you this Christmas - and leave you something nice under the tree!    

Thursday, 12 November 2009

We will remember them

I really should have written this blog before Remembrance Sunday but my head has not really been in the right place.  One of my husband's (John) close friends from the army was amongst those who were shot and killed by a rogue policeman in Afghanistan.  RSM Darren Chant was 40, recently married in August to Sheenie who is expecting their first child together.  Daz has three children from a previous marriage and was a real family man and a larger than life character.  I will always remember his grin and his wit.  John has known Daz for some 20 years plus.  Daz was one of John's recruits in the depot - no doubt John put him through his paces.

Remembrance Sunday was poignant this year.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

What makes you who you are?

Today I had the privilege of conducting a service renewing a couples marrage vows on the occasion of their 25th wedding anniversary.  Mark and Gill have had a tough time recently as Mark nearly died.  It was a great to have been asked to take the service for them - but why me?  I am not yet ordained and I am still searching for that church to which God has called me to.  I am at present nomadic - a pilgrim on a journey.  Is this perhaps a way for God to affirm my calling?  Am I to be a pastor to the pastorless?

Mark and Gill were married in an Anglican church and it was to this church that they returned 25 years later to renew their promises before God and in the presence of their children and their partners.  The service was short, yet intimate and extreamly moving.  God was there and His presence was real.  I wouldn't have missed it for the world.  Today nothing else mattered, no essay, no lecture or anything else was going to get in the way of the task in hand.  I can't say that I felt particularly upbeat today - more miserable like the weather.  (It has rained most of the day.)  But today I had a commission - a job to do - a priestly role to fulfill.  Is seems strange but yet perfectly normal to be standing at the alter in an Anglican church.  (I am an eccumenical.)  The vicar did not mind me conducting the service, Mark and Gill wanted me to do it, I wanted to, and more importantly, I feel it was what God had called me to do today. 

But I am left with a question - what makes you who you are?  Is it a label?  Is it an ordination service?  Is it what you do?  Is it other people?  Or is it God?  I am who I am.  Imperfect, a bit moody at the moment, inadequate in so many ways and a sinner.  But by the grace of God I am forgiven, redeemed and made perfect by the blood of the lamb.  I am a child of God and it is God who makes me who I am.  Today, dispite the rain, it has been a good day.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009


How do you know that you are truely listening to God?  Recently I really felt that God was directing me in a certain direction but alas the door was closed.  I am left pondering as to whether I did actually hear what God was saying or not.  Is this just all part of his plan and part of my journey in life or was His will stopped in its tracks?  I am convinced that discerning God's voice is a corporate thing and that together as the church body we seek out HIs will but what if the body gets it wrong?  I guess we are all infallible individuals and churches are made up of infallible people so it is not surprising we get it wrong on occasion.  I am sure it grieves God when we don't walk in His will and go off on our own agendas and I am thankful that He is a God of grace who forgives us when we make mistakes and ask for His forgiveness.

My hope is in a God who knows my deepest thoughts and fears and who shelters me under His wing in times of trouble.  I am blessed to have many lovely people who are praying for me and in these last few weeks I have felt at peace.  At peace that no matter how events turn out God is with me and feels my pain because it is part of His pain too.  At peace because God knows how expectant I am and how excitted I am to follow Him.  At peace because I journey on the road that Christ journeys.    

Monday, 5 October 2009

Tuning problems

I finally managed to change the strings on my guitar.  Well, except the bottom E string that broke in the process - so I put the old one back on.  I was more than a little disappointed by the sound I was getting from said guitar but after much fumbling around it now sounds half decent.  As decent as I can make it sound anyway.  I have owned my current guitar for the last 7 years and I am ashamed to say that I have had the same set of strings on it since John bought it for me as a birthday present all those years ago.  Having since looked up on the internet what strings the guitar came with (D'Addario EXP 16) I found out that they are meant to last 4 or 5 times longer than others.  Strings are normally changed at least every 3 month, depending on wear, so I think mine have done rather well!  The strings did of course loose their tone after 7 years.

My guitar playing is coming along; although I am still very much a novice and don't intend playing in public just yet.  It strikes me that our own spirituality often has tuning problems.  We keep playing the same tune on the same set of strings and wonder why we are getting the same toneless tune.  We loose the top and bottom ends of the notes because we fail to change our strings regularly.  It is not that we stop hearing God altogether but we do miss out on all that he has to say.  Should we not at least try to change the way in which we approach our spirituality from time to time in order that we can fully appreciate all that God has for us. Or are we too lazy or too set in our ways to try?  Why just listen to the bass notes in a song when there is so much more on offer?  Don't get me wrong every now and then it is good to crank up the bass - but variety is the spice of life as they say.  It is all too easy to get stuck in a rut and fail to explore all that God has for us.  But if we are to move on in our own spirituality and in our relationship with our creator then change is a necessity.  It might take a while to get the tuning right and you might find that something doesn't work.  Don't worry if you really don't like it you can go back to you old strings.  But new strings will enhance your experience and lead you to new songs that are waiting to be played.

Incidently I don't really like my new strings (Martin custom lights) and have ordered some D'Addarios off the internet.  I have ordered two set - which means I intend to change them a bit more regularly!!!

P.S. I think my strings deserve a sabbatical - what about you?

Thursday, 24 September 2009


Here is Jack and his mummy Danielle.  Born safe and well 
6lb 9oz on 22 September at 3.55am.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009


Excited, excited, excited, excited! Today I am excited at the thought of seeing my grand-son for the first time tomorrow. He was born today in the early hours. His mum, Danielle, was so exhausted she cannot remember the exact time or indeed how much he weighed. As yet he has no name - but he is surely already loved.

Psalm 139:1-18, 21-24 ( NRSV) reads:

O Lord you have searched me and know me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
O Lord, you know it completely.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your head upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is so high that I cannot attain it.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
if I take the wings of the morning
and settle in the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and you right hand shall hold me fast.
If I say, "Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become night,"
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mothers womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes beheld my uniformed substance.
In your book were written
all the days that were formed for me,
when none of them as yet existed.
How weighty to me are your thoughts,
O God!
How vast the sum of them!...

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my thoughts.
see if there is any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

I thank God for my grand-son's safe arrival. Induced one month early because of complications. I thank God for knitting him in his mother's womb; in that secret place where God breathes life into humanity. I thank God that He knows all our ways and that He walks by the side of us through the hard times in life. I thank God that He walks behind us taking care of our past and watching our backs. I thank God that he walks in front of us leading the way and directing our path. I thank God for the excitement and expectancy that new babies bring into the world. Creation is awesome! God is awesome!

Friday, 11 September 2009

Holiness and hope

'Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed. Like obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires that your formally had in ignorance. Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; for it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy."'
1 Peter 1:13-16 (NRSV)

It is my desire to be holy and to live my life like Christ. Alas I often fall short of this goal. God in his grace forgives me when I muck up and get it wrong. I hope that my spiritual life grows deeper in Christ and I hope that my life continues to reflect that. My hope is in Christ. At the start of every movie or television program the director shouts, 'Action!' and the actors and actresses burst into life. I hope that I am preparing my mind for action. Both in my academic study and in my personal life. I am waiting for the director to shout 'Action!' once more so that I can begin the show and start my ministry in its fullness wherever that may be.

The photograph is of my grand-daughter Ella-Louise who will be one on the 15th September. Her life is only just beginning. As is my grand-son who is due to be born around the same time. For him the cry of, 'Action!' is about to be shouted for the first time. What will my grand-children's lives turn out to be like? What kind of world will they live in? Will they be obedient children? Or will they go off the rails? I pray that they may know the love of Christ and his hope for their lives. That too is my prayer for you on this day.

Friday, 4 September 2009


Today I am stuck in the waiting room. Waiting for college to start. Waiting to find the church to which God has called me. Waiting for the washing machine to finish. The third one is less important but nevertheless part of my life. Why do we dislike and indeed struggle with waiting so much? No one likes to have to wait at the supermarket checkout we all want what we want now. In an instant. Instant coffee, fast-food, microwave meals, buy-now pay-later.... Now, now, now, now, now! And so the postmodern world was created. What happened to planning and cooking meals from scratch and saving money to buy the things we want? I can't say that I am a great fan of ready made meals. I actually enjoy cooking and the relaxation it seems to bring as I mess around in the kitchen. Nor do I like instant coffee but alas I have to admit to my sins - the occasional take-out and not seeming to be able to save any money. I guess not working means that saving for a rainy day is out at the moment. It is well and truly raining! 
I am a post-modern woman. I want everthing now, not tomorrow. I try not to be impatient but I guess I was kind of made this way. I am a product of my enviroment. Like most post-modernists I like different forms of media and I like to have my senses bombarded with information. I can't just sit in front of the TV I have to be doing something else at the same time. Be that reading a book, chatting, texting, emailing... Most evening I sit in front of the TV watching a film whilst conversing with cyber-space on the Internet. Perhaps this multi-tasking is a woman thing, but no, my husband is sat on the other sofa doing the exact same thing. We are even known to instant message each other -jJust to reassure one another that we are there. Sometimes we even manage to talk! So why then in the age of post-modernism and mass media do we expect people to sit on uncomfortable pews and listen to a monologue of preaching? Is this really the way forward? For someone who has not been brought up in a church environment surely this is a strange and unusual experience. What is the answer? Cafe church? Seek-friendly church? Church in a pub?

What should church look like? I guess church is all about the people. Indeed church is the people. The church is the body of Christ. But didn't Jesus spend most of His time with the poor and needy of society, the hurting and the lost. As I wait for the things that are important to me I cannot help but ponder these questions. What does God have in store for me? Am I listening and am I able to look outside the box? My brother's collie has recently had some puppies which he keeps in his barn. I went to see them the other day (I couldn't resist another cuddle). They sit patiently waiting to be fed in the expectancy that someone will come long and do so. They wait in expectancy that some day they will end up in the right home for them. Can I be patient? Can I learn and be fed by God's word whilst I wait? I continue to wait with expectancy.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Monkeys, trees and friends

Catching up with friends is always good. Whether it is walking and talking looking at trees at the arboretum or monkeying around at Bristol Zoo. No man, or indeed woman, is an island we all need friends and family to love us and to support us in what we are doing. Even God realized he could not live alone and chose to live in community with Jesus and the Holy Spirit as part of the Trinity. God extends the hand of love which He reaches out to humanity asking for us to live in community with Him. Some of us fully embrace His out stretched arms, others turn and run the other way or simply fail to see Him. You can be the most loving person in the world but what use is that love if you cannot share it with another? You can be the funniest person in the world, but what use is laughter when you have no one to laugh with? Love and laughter are better shared. So too are tears and heartache. Spirituality is about drawing close to God and sharing our love, our laughter, our highs and our lows and all our longings with God. But there is also something about sharing it with others. The church is the community of God. It is the people rather than the building. It is the church's responsibility to offers the hand of God to those who do not know Him. But yet so often it fails to do this. I long for a church that embraces the outcast, that is in touch with the real world and wants to get their hands dirty. Am I living in a dream world? Or is this a vision of the Kingdom of God?

I have been blessed this last week by monkeys, trees and more importantly some very good friends. I have laughed at the monkeys, stood in awe at the trees and have shared these experiences with friends who have also hugged and loved me. So where is God in all of this fun and friendship? He is right there with me. Enjoying the monkeys and the trees and embracing the friendships. I guess I should mention that the tree and the monkey friends are actually all female ministers - I also managed to speak to another three this week either in person or on the telephone! We are all trying to work out our callings in light of our femininity. We are all trying to be ourselves in a church that is dominated by male leadership but yet filled predominantly with females. A church that many men feel is effeminate. What can we bring to the church or perhaps more importantly what can we bring to those who feel rejected by the church, those who feel they don't fit in or those who feel the church is irrelevant? We bring ourselves - women who are searching for God's heart in our daily lives. Women who want to serve to the best of our ability. Women who are prepared to stand up and say, 'I am a women minister, called by God equipped to serve His church.' Two of us are still looking for a church where we can serve God and work out that calling.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009


Welcome to the world of Jo where spirituality and hilarity hold hands. Well at least that is the aim. Humour has always been important to me and whilst I am not a stand up comedian I do like to make people laugh. Humour can be enjoyed by all. Young or old, rich or poor and what ever our ethnicity. However what one person finds funny another does not. Humour can cause offence but it can also cross divides. Humour helps to build relationships. Indeed it is intrinsic to humanity. Where would we be if we couldn't laugh at ourselves on occasions?

But what of spirituality? Spirituality can be many things to many different people. It is not exclusive to the Christian and nor should it be. Spirituality is a search for something deeper. Be that God or something else to fill the gap. In the world of Jo spirituality is a search in which I endeavour to connect with God. I do this in many different ways but it normally involves prayer and reflecting on Scripture or perhaps a Christian book. Worship, nature, art, and interaction with friends are also important in my own spirituality.

Spirituality without humour seems dull to me. Why paint a picture with only half of the colours in the paintbox? Colour brings a painting to life and in the same way humour brings spirituality to life. In the world of Jo humour is painted a vibrant pink. Sometimes it just decorates the edges but most of the time it is the colour of the flower that is bursting into bud in the foreground of life.

I like to laugh and in the world of Jo spirituality and hilarity are inseparable. Humour is one of the ways that God uses to get my attention. Humour draws me closer to God. It reminds me of my humanity and that I am made in God's image. God likes to laugh and I like nothing better but to laugh with him. Not just a gentle chuckle but a full blown giggle and on occasion a real belly laugh. I hope that this blog will help you to explore your own spirituality and to laugh with me as I journey deeper in my own exploration of spirituality and hilarity. It may even be fun!