Sunday, 15 November 2015

A gap in the door

A gap in the door where the light 
shines through
A new world beckons
Do you want to walk through?

Uncertainty calls
To a life put on hold
The passage of time
Evolving once more.

A gap in the door
Can mean many things
Choose your path wisely
May the light shine 

Copyright revdjo 14/11/15

Saturday, 31 October 2015

The premise of a ghost story

There is much that could be said about Halloween and the merits of trick or treating. Do I open the door or not? Are those that celebrate Halloween opening the doors to more than the unsuspecting little old lady sat on her own on a cold night in October? I will leave you to do your own pondering.

Yesterday I watched a film about a ghost. I don't normally watch such things but it was a very tame afternoon film so I felt safe in the knowledge that there would be no spinning heads, exorcisms, or the need to hide behind the sofa. To be frank Dr Who is more scary. I only mention spinning heads as I frightened myself half to death by watching 'The Evil Dead' when I was about 10 years old. A school friend thought it was a good idea. A few sleepless nights later we both regretted our decision. Anyway, I digress...

Yesterday's film and indeed the premise of many a ghost story is the thought that the 'ghost' is someone who is stuck at that mid-way point between the here and now and the afterlife. The afterlife normally being some kind of 'heaven'. hell of course can also be mentioned in said films, but we won't go there today. In the film it turns out that our ghost, 'Clive', is stuck from moving on because on Halloween and his daughters 18th birthday he made her choose between him and her boyfriend. She chose the boyfriend and eloped to be married. They never spoke from that moment on. Clive the ghost had been scaring the residence of 'his' house ever since. To cut a long story short it ends happily ever-after and his daughter comes to the house and is given the letter that Clive wrote saying he was sorry for what he did. 

The trouble with the story is that actually we don't get a second chance after we have died (but there are plenty of second chances before our final breath). I wonder how many folk have died wishing 'if only', if only they had said, 'sorry', or done something different. Life can be full of regrets, regrets that alas die with us. We may have a chance on our death-bed to say sorry to God and to perhaps try to find reconciliation with our loved ones but there is no guarantee. Who knows how death will come to us. I feel like the Grim Reaper saying such things but that is the fact of the matter. 

Reconciliation with friends and family is not always possible and perhaps we have to live with that. We can ask for forgiveness or long for the other party to ask our forgiveness but we might not reach that point. Should that stop us from seeking reconciliation? No. If we at least reach out the hand of forgiveness then we have perhaps done our bit. I say perhaps as relationships and situations are complicated and I am not an expert.

We may have to resolve ourselves with the prospect of dying without the happy ever-after music playing in the background but I believe we can still die peacefully. To die peacefully, at least for me, is to die knowing Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and getting right with him. Life has many twists and turns but God continues to offer us his love and his grace and his forgiveness. 

We can focus on the dead and amuse ourselves with dressing up as zombies and witches but perhaps there are more important things in the here and now that need addressing, not least our relationship with God.

Thursday, 10 September 2015


This weekend is going to be a busy one at church as we celebrate our 375th anniversary with an open day on Saturday. On Sunday I have a very informal induction as minister (photos to follow). I have been at King's Stanley Baptist Church for almost a year now so I'm already part of the furniture in many ways. The following weekend we join with other Baptist churches in the country who also celebrate being 375.

There is still so much to do... I have no ears, although I do have paws! I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date! OK, it hasn't happened yet so I'm not late, just dragging my little bob-tail in getting everything finalized. A moment to 'paws' (excuse the pun) and listen to the hymn that was written by Graham Kendrick for all the churches who are 375. Click here to listen. How fantastic!

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Where memories linger

Sometimes words aren't enough
And seem so empty
When the void of love stings
Where memories linger
Pain now frequents
Those places we wandered
Entrenched in my mind
In the pit of my stomach
My body it aches
My spirit is lost
In a pool of depression
A hopeless omission
Of passion now lost.

Copyright revdjo 20/8/15

Friday, 24 July 2015

What do you hear? What do you see?

Shhhuuuu listen.... what do you hear?

This morning there is the quiet pitter patter of rain drops breaking into the quiet. How often do we actually stop and listen properly? How often do we actually stop? The world is a busy and demanding place. We live amongst the noise. How can we expect to hear God unless we stop and listen? I am always blown away by the way he communicates. It is so easy to miss him if we are not careful. Is God in the rain? Now there's a question.

Wait, look.... what do you see?

I have been on holiday this last week and have had fun visiting different places and taking a few crazy photos, as you do. I have also been amazed at spotting both a kestrel and a peregrine falcon out in the wild (well I think that's what they were), oh... and a number of wild rabbits. Got to keep that food chain going. On a slightly different note, we also have a frog living in our shed, either that or my husband needs his eyes testing! I have no idea what he is doing there as we have no fish pond nearby. The frog, that is, not my husband.

What I hear and what I see often draw me to the scriptures. These are the verses that God has encouraged me with as a result of stopping to look and listen.  May you to hear the gentle whisper of God and see signs of Him as He encourages you on your journey.

The Lord appears to Elijah 1 Kings 19:9-12

And the word of the Lord came to him: ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’
10 He replied, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.’
11 The Lord said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 

Isaiah 40:31

31 But those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.


Wednesday, 24 June 2015


Sometimes words aren't enough to say what we mean. They paint pictures but still leave much unsaid. Poetry whispers and shouts emotions more eloquently than other forms of words on a page. I guess that's why I enjoy reading the psalms. This year has been one where perhaps lament has been more appropriate than joy. It started with me taking the funeral of an uncle. My father died. A good friend died. An aunt has also now sadly passed away. Why? I guess it was just their time.

Life is short. It's meant to be lived and enjoyed. Why do we spend so much time arguing and falling out with one another?

We are left with the memories of loved ones ingrained in our hearts. They remain a reminder of joy shared and lives entwined.

In memory of Pauline....

With painted nails
          hair in style
                  and raspberry lips
                          from which you
Dainty tiny feet
             danced a tale
                            of long ago
                                 of joy and
Dark brown eyes
          twinkled to the
                           dawn of yesterday
                                     no more alight
                                           this 'morn.

Revdjo 23/6/2015

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Daddy on the train!

For those of you wondering why I haven't continued with my blogging every day through Lent unfortunately my father was taken ill. I have been visiting him most days for the 5 weeks that he was in hospital. At 4.45am on the 5th March he passed away. I held his hand as he slipped away. It was peaceful and my prayer of being there was answered. I think Dad had been waiting for me. My husband and I were only there 5 minutes before he died. 

I have written about my Dad before, you can find it here.

When I was a little girl I would wait for him to come home on the train. I could see the station from the bedroom window and would shout, "Daddy on the train!' when he came home. One evening there was no Daddy on the train, he had missed it, but that's another story. I wrote this poem in memory of Dad. It will be read out at his funeral which takes place on the 25th March, it would have been his 80th birthday on that day.

Daddy on the train!

"Daddy on the train!"
"Daddy on the train!"

I waited for you

As I called out your name
Home you would come
To give me a hug
You read me a story
And turned out the light
I always felt safe
When you held me tight.

"Daddy on the train!"

"Daddy on the train!"

You brought me books

And painting sets
Beano comics, Dandy too
And icecream cones
On sunny days
That dripped down my arms
And made a mess.
I'll never forget.

"Daddy on the train!"

"Daddy on the train!"

Memories live on

Although we can't be together
For walks in the summer
Or a drink in the pub
But the journey continues
And so will our love
Until we meet on the platform
In heaven above.

"Daddy on the train!"

"Daddy on the train!"

Tears of goodbye

Are never enough
There's a hole in my heart
A vast empty space
As I wave in the distance
I know you are there
waiting for me
As I call out your name.

"Daddy on the train!"

"Daddy on the train!"

copyright Revdjo 23/3/15

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Lent 2015: things that make me laugh - the Easter Bunnie

I think I may have posted this image before but it does me chuckle. Bunnies seem a good thing to laugh at. I'm sure they don't mind. 

I can't understand why the Easter Bunny exists. But he doesn't you say.  Oh yes he does... He is not only alive and kicking in children's imaginations but also in consumerism. I'm sure we will soon be inundated with Easter bunnies  making an apearence in our shops as an alternative to Easter eggs and pictured on Easter cards. There is no Easter bunny in the Easter story so why has he hopped into the limelight? Answers on a postcard and deposited into the nearest rabbit hole.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Lent 2015: things that make me laugh - cartoons

You can't beat a good cartoon to make you laugh. Tom and Jerry, Roadruner; Tweetiepie and Sylvester the cat were favourites. I can't tell you when the last time I saw a cartoon was. Certainly it was some time ago. But why is that? Do we think we can't watch such things as an adult? Do we just get more serious as we get older and loose that inner child? What we laugh at changes as we get older. Tastes change. Life gets in the way.  I hope you have managed to laugh today evening it's been a tough day.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Lent 2015: things that make me laugh - my husband

My husband, John, always seems to make me laugh. We often laugh at the silliest of things. 
This evening I was eatting some grapes when one dropped from my hands and rolled across the floor. John jumped and said, 'I thought it was a mouse'! How on earth does a grape look look like a mouse? I couldn't help but laugh. 'It scared me' he chuckled. Today has been a good day. All age worship at church and lots of fun. No one really wanted to go home which is always a good sign. 

Worship doesn't have to be always serious, and neither should life. There are times when lament is appropriate such as, when someone dies in tragic circumstances. God has made us as emotional beings and yet  so often we try and deny our emotions. The British stiff upper lip is still alive and kicking in the UK. I am sure other countries and cultures are better at being honest with their emotions that we are here. God likes us to be honest with him and if our worship is to be heart felt then we must learn to laugh and indeed cry as we worship him in spirit and truth.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Lent 2015 21 February: things that make me laugh - Comedy

I found this statue of Charlie Caplin in London. Having my photo wth him was a must. The photo still makes me laugh. Watching Chaplin and Laural and Hardy and their capers was a must growing up. Other comedy classics such as Some Mothers do 'av 'em and Only Fools and Horses will forever remain in my memory. Chaplin waving his walking cane, Laural and Hardy pushing a piano up the stairs, Frank Spenser on roller skates, and Del Boy falling through the bar hatch as he eyes up some young lady all make me laugh. I'm sure we all have our favorate comedy classics. God has designed us to laugh, even when it is at ourselves, so why is it that most of us take life so seriously? Life is for living and enjoyng but why do we so often loose sight of that and whallow in our own sadness and discontent? We may never have any money, we may never meet the man or women of our dreams, we may never have perfect health but we have so many other things to be grateful for. 

So what's your favorate comedy? 

Friday, 20 February 2015

Lent 2015 20th February: Things that make me laught - cats!

Today has been a day of mixed emotions but there was still laughter. The sun was out and so I went into the garden for a short time to play a game with my two cats. Holly is particularly playful and loves to chase a squeaky mouse on a a string that I swing around in circles for her. It's not a real mouse you understand, although I am sure she would enjoy that as well! I have had other cast appear during this game wondering what the squeaking noise was, one even headbutted the back door trying to get in not realising the cat flap had been boarded up. Holly has very bad eye sight, I am surprised she manages to do what she does. Both cats like to turn somersaults in the air whilst running around chasing the 'mouse'. It always makes me laugh watching them having such fun. In case you are wondering this is Buddy in the photo. Yes, Buddy and Holly - that's my humour for you.

Sometimes life seems like you are running around in circles, history of course repeats itself. I hope that today has been a good day for you and that in amongst the racing around you have had chance to pause for a moment and to laugh. If you haven't managed it today why not take some time out tomorrow to have some fun.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Lent 19th February 2015: clowning around

I enjoyed gong to the circus as a child. I'm sure I still enjoy going to the circus but I can't say I've been for vet 30 years. My favourite act has to be the clowns, with their painted faces, red noses and oversized shoes. Maybe I just like seeing people trip up, get their feet stuck in buckets and have custard pies thrown in their faces? Maybe I like them because I to like to clown around and make people laugh.

As a teenager I had a collection of clown glasses and funny noses. I helped entertain a group of children with special needs ones with my clowning skills, or lack of them. Alas my collection of such things is no more, although I do have some spare bushy eyebrows and moustaches in a draw upstairs; best not to ask why... OK, OK... I was going to gate crash a men's breakfast at church suitable disguised as a man but I chickened out. 

It's easy to put on a fake smile and pretend to be happy. It's harder to laugh convincingly when you aren't happy. Laughter comes from deep inside the soul. There is nothing like a good belly laugh. Joy comes from a variety of things but for me true joy comes from knowing Jesus. I am sure he likes a good belly laugh to.

More laughter tomorrow. 

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

LENT 18th February 2015: The lama visit.

Today it is Ash Wednesday, it doesn't seem five minutes ago since the last Ash Wednesday. Where does time go? Last year I decided to blog every day through Lent on the theme of simple pleasures. You can find last years blog here if you want to have a look. I love to write but often lack the motivation to do so. In the hope of making writing more of a daily habit I thought I would blog every day through Lent again this year.

As a child I would forever be asking my parents, 'What can I draw?' I am still asking myself that question today as I continue to re-discover my drawing skills. Today I have asked myself the question, 'What can I write?' What would be a meaningful theme to blog on in the run up to Easter? Whilst I could blog on some deep theological subject I think it would be much more fun to blog on something humourous, after all the name of my blog is 'Spirituality and Hilarity'. Ecclesiastes 3 talks about there being a time for everything. It seems it is 'a time to laugh.' It may well also be a time to dance as well but I don't think that will transpose well to writing. I certainly will not be taking any photos or film footage of me dancing! If you are very unlucky you may get a photo of me laughing. Hmmm maybe I can record an audible giggle or two for your amusement.  Watch this space...

Humour is a funny thing. What one person finds funny another does not. What one person can laugh hysterically at another can find crass or in bad taste. I hope I don't offend anyone with my humour, sorry if I do. It is rare for me to laugh much at jokes. It is more situational humour or visual humour that makes me laugh. The sitcom Miranda makes me laugh out loud but so can putting clean sheets on the bed! Maybe I am a little odd, or maybe odd things make me laugh? Maybe you will have formed an opinion on that one by Easter, or maybe you will just have got bored and stopped reading? Let me know, or maybe not. 

Enough rambling lets get to the point of what has made me laugh recently. Today I went to see the lama. Why would a Baptist minister want to meet the lama? Why not. Anyway here he is, or should I say here they are (sorry not the best photo in the world). They didn't say very much, and didn't seem at all interested in me but they made me laugh, even if it was at my own silly joke. I tried whistling at them to get them to come closer (well it works with my cats) but they ignored me. (Yes, I do actually call my cats by whistling.) I tried taping on the barbed wire fence but still nothing. I then became self-conscious and started laughing at myself. I hope no one was looking at the slightly mad women laughing at herself. 

Tune in tomorrow for some more meanderings...

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Finding me

It has been a while since my last post so thought I would share what I have been up to. I suddenly realized that I haven't done any drawing since I have known my husband, some 18 years. Where did the time go? I always use to enjoy drawing as a child but going to an academic school I was advised not to study art for a couple of years and to pick it up again at A' Level. I never did. The above is a self portrait and my latest drawing. It isn't perfect, but it is me. I'm not perfect either so a fair reflection I think.

It is strange drawing yourself. I think I may have given myself slight more wrinkles than I have. I am blessed with my mum's skin, as it were, so tend to look more youthful than I am. Not a bad thing most of the time. Blogging like drawing causes for some introspection. I like to think I am very self aware. I don't miss much that goes on around me, but I don't always comment. Maybe that's why I have been quieter on the blogging of late. Honesty is always the best policy but speaking out is not always the most prudent thing to do.

As I think of where I have been in recent years and where I am now I can see a change in myself. I have, it seems, found myself again. I have even picked up my guitar of late. I have also realized how much of a 'Stroudie' I am. Stroud is a rather quirky Coteswold town. It was famous for its cloth (used for military uniformes and snooker tables) that would be made in the mills and hung out to dry on the hillsides. It was also a brewing town but alas Stroud Brewery no longer exists. It is now well known for its farmers market that brings many folk to come and taste and see the local wears. Stroud district is full of artists and writers. Damian Hurts is based here as are Jilly Cooper, Katie Fforde and Joanna Trollop. Other famous writers were Laurie Lee and W. H. Davies and let's not forget Revd W. V. Awdry who wrote the Thomas the Tank Engine books. The sculptor Lynn Chadwick also had a studio here. Keith Allen the actor and musician lives in Stroud and his daughter Lilly was born here and lives near by. Stroud and its five valleys is a beautiful place and perhaps evokes the creative in people. Stroudies tend to be a bit bohemien and eccentric. Being different is celebrated. Maybe you need to be born here or have lived here a while to understand exactly what I mean.

God tends to peel back our layers as we draw closer to him. In my walk with him of late it seems I have lost a few layers, or at least examined them more carefully. I am a bit quirky and like to express myself creatively in worship but this is me and this is how God made me.