Posts Tagged ‘weekend away’

The September sunshine is streaming through the Vicarage living room windows as I type. Yesterday the Engineer was off school for a teacher training day and we had a lovely time at the park with his friend, playing in the early Autumn warmth. I’ve been quiet on the blog this month, but not only because of trips to the park and the temptation to sunbathe in a garden that has usually been warmer than the house. In addition, I was writing some other things, explained below.

Our sunny September park

Our sunny September park

At the beginning of the month I took the plunge and put my name forward to stand for election to the General Synod of the Church of England as a representative of the laity of Lichfield diocese. There are 22 candidates for six places, and you’ll find me fifth from bottom of the list and can read my election address. You can also identify me by my surprising middle name. With so many people standing, I am praying for wisdom for the electors and trusting God’s sovereign will to be done throughout the next synod.

And at the end of the month – this weekend just gone – I got to speak about mess to a group of clergy spouses from Chelmsford Diocese at their annual retreat in the beautiful surroundings of Pleshey. Following publication of The Ministry of a Messy House my Twitter friend from the diocese, who organises it, asked me if I’d be the speaker and didn’t seem to mind that my speaking experience was very limited.

It was a real pleasure to meet her face to face and to share some of the things I’d learnt whilst contemplating (and writing about) mess. It was especially good to talk with a group of people who I know are often overwhelmed with extra mess not of their own creating – ecclesiastical, emotional and spiritual. We laughed a lot and encouraged one another. We shared recipes and tips for mess containment. We prayed and we sang and we gathered around the Lord’s table. I enjoyed myself very much and came home encouraged and surprisingly energised, with some new recipes to try and thankfulness to God for the work of the gospel in Essex and East London.

October is kicking off with the excitement of joining the youth group on their first ever weekend away together. I suspect there will be as much chatting as the weekend just gone, but with added running around and screaming. The joy of youth work, eh?

[Edited to add some words I lost in a draft and then found again]

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Just in case you thought I’d given up the ghost (check the spooky Halloween reference), I am actually here. We’re back from a few half term days away in London. We were mighty pleased to return to an unburgled Vicarage, I can tell you. And the cat and fish were still alive, thanks to Beauty, who negotiated our alarm to come in and feed the animals. Phew.

Our trip began at the weekend away of St James New Barnet, where old college friend the Baker is vicar. He and his wife Girlpreacha (and their five kids) are at a similar stage to us – in their second year of incumbancy. Their church is also quite similar to ours, so it was great when the Baker asked my Vicar to be the speaker. It was wonderful to be listening to talks by my husband and not worrying about the organisation! The kids had a brilliant time with two Oak Hill Youth and Children’s Ministry students, learning  about the lost son and his older brother from Luke 15, just like the adults.

I came away particularly challenged by God to spend more time in biblical meditation. The Vicar has been bending my ear about this for months, if not years. But you know how it is. He’s my husband, so when he gets all excited about  something I confess that it does occasionally wash over me, cos he’s talking about it whilst I’m worrying about taking the kids to swimming, or getting the washing done, or wondering when we’re going to get round to painting over those patches on the kitchen ceiling where the strip lights were taken down when we moved in.

So even though I’d heard about meditation, and even read a few of the Vicar’s excellent blog posts on the subject, it took a weekend away for his wisdom to sink in properly. He called meditation ‘the middle spiritual discipline, between bible reading and prayer’, where we let God’s word sink deeply into our hearts. As a natural activist, this is a discipline which does not come easily to me. I like to read the bible and I like to pray through the issues I see around us. But I’ve seen how the ‘hard work’ (as he described it) of meditation has borne fruit in my husband’s life.  For a while I’ve envied the Vicar’s love for God and the delight he finds in the Lord, which I can see are chiefly the result of his times of meditation. So now I am resolved to incorporate this discipline into my rather haphazard devotional life. He recommended just a short time each day (he mentioned six minutes!) meditating on the benefits that we have because of Jesus (listed in his blog post). This morning I meditated on Psalm 119v33-36, which was recommended in a book I am currently reading.

The thing is, it’s the long term benefit of biblical meditation that I need and that I want. So I’m also praying for pereverence perseverance…

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