Wednesday, 29 December 2010

a bit of a rant

I admit it - I'm not a sporty person; yes, I've had my moments - I remember watching Arthur Ash winning Wimbledon! 
But I've lived in several areas, including here, where the best radio reception is on longwave. And then the cricket season would come along and I would be deprived of all my favourite programs! I thought my life would get better when Radio 5 was introduced as I was told that this would be for sport - so why was the cricket still broadcast on Radio 4 longwave?
A big fuss has been made about the wonders of DAB radio (although we have no signal here either) and apparently Radio 5 DAB broadcasts the cricket - so why is the cricket still broadcast on Radio 4 longwave.
I wake up in the middle of the night, coughing and spluttering, plug in my earphones to listen to something interesting, only to realise that the ramblings of these men is just the preamble to the last day's play - so I turn on the light, put on my glasses, switch to FM, pull up the aerial, turn the dial, find the best position for the radio and the aerial, lie down and realise that my altered body position alters the reception! Cricket!

Sunday, 26 December 2010

gaudaute! rejoice!

Many decades ago, our school always had it's end of term Christmas service at the local Parish Church.  I remember in the first year being overcome by the beauty of the choir singing 'Gaudaute' as they processed from the crypt up into the Church.  It was a technical school - we didn't learn latin but I loved the carol.  As soon as I was able, I joined the choir and was part of the procession - for me that was the best part of Christmas.  Although as a Baptist I really wasn't sure about bowing to the altar!
When I left school and went to college in London, I made sure that I was back in the Church for the school's Christmas service so that once again I was able to hear 'Gaudaute' first very quietly as the choir started processing and again at the end of the service as they processed back into the crypt.
All these memories stirred up by hearing 'Gautaute' on 'Songs of Praise'.
Gaudaute, gaudaute! Christus est natus
Ex Maria virgine, gaudaute!
Rejoice, rejoice! Christ is born
Of the virgin Mary - rejoice!


One can always tell if I'm not feeling 100% if I don't pick up my knitting! It's been untouched since Thursday! 
I've had a niggling cough for over a week but Christmas morning I felt really rough - but not enough to stop me from going to Chapel! We drove instead of walking the half mile as we thought the -10degrees would not do me any good! All went well but on coming home I didn't manage to eat my dinner - a very bad sign! So I snuggled up on the settee and slept!
This morning I was feeling better but as it was just as cold we again drove to Chapel.
Yesterday there were 10 of us and today just 7 - the minister and spouse and all the deacons! This was due partly to folk going to their relatives rather than family coming to them but mostly because although the main roads are clear, many folk have to come on side roads which are still covered in compacted snow - now ice!
Because Christmas is a working day for me, the kiddies either stay in their own homes or go to their inlaws and we are quite happy having a very quiet day, with no tree, decorations, turkey or even presents except the one from our eldest. A cd for him and a book for her - chosen from a certain website's wish-list!
I don't think the knitting will be touched for another day but I am enjoying my book 'Sisters of Sinai', about twin sisters who on their travels 150 years ago, discovered some of the earliest copies of the gospels - compelling reading!

Monday, 20 December 2010

seeing red

Here in this part of Wales, when there is a funeral everyone wears black, whereas in the South East of England, I stopped wearing black in the 1970's!
We had another funeral last Friday and again, about 200 people came to pay their respects! Unfortunately, our Chapel only seats about 80; the Baptist Union handbook includes the number we can squeeze in with seating in the school room and the stable! We usually have folk standing outside - these are the people who would never come into a church or chapel!
The weather was not quite so cold as at the previous funeral but everyone came in - shoulder to shoulder standing in the porch and the kitchen!
It was very sad to say goodbye to Barbara as she was so incredibly active in the community; at 77 she was still writing the village news letter and cycling everywhere - including to Chapel. One Sunday last year she was not in Chapel and we learnt that she was with a friend in his micro-light up in the sky!

She died while line-dancing with her friends in the village hall!

There seemed to be nothing wrong with Barbara - such a fit active lady. 
But over the previous few weeks I had noticed that she was one of the first to arrive at Chapel rather than one of the last, and she was singing the hymns even more lustily. On her last Sunday with us, she was one of the last to leave, it was as if she didn't want to go - was she making the most of her time in Chapel? She talked to me about the previous funeral and said that she would like everyone to wear some red to her funeral! I thought that would be a long time in the future!

We could always see Barbara coming as she always wore red - she loved the colour! I was not the only one she had told about her funeral arrangements and word soon spread around!

Everyone did wear black but there were red scarves worn by the most conservative of men, red gloves and hats - it was an amazing sight!
The family said that they would love it if the Christmas tree was up for the funeral - and it was decorated with red decorations.
It did stop snowing, and the Council followed the family's request and gritted the minor roads!
The sun shone and a red kite (the feathered variety) flew overhead!

So many stories were told; she taught her french Grandson how to play football, she had organised village pantomimes, she had even arranged for a donkey at Chapel one Palm Sunday!
She was a wonderful lady and will be missed.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

a nice surprise

Yesterday I awoke to a couple of inches of snow and as I was tired after the emotions of my first funeral with burial, I decided that the settee was the best place to spend the day!
With the aid of my trusty laptop I was able to prepare Sunday's service, and then contemplated my monthly visit to Spurgeon's which enables me to see all my kiddies - they are all in their thirties now but I still refer to them as little goats! I decided to cancel as I did not want to get stuck on the motorway! So as well as being tired I was now sad as I would not be seeing the kiddies and SuperStan and TrifficTed, the grandboys, before Christmas.
Then the front door bell rang, it was my neighbour who helps out at the school with a large brown envelope and a small present.
Inside the envelope were 11 A4 pieces of paper all with a photocopied sketch of the Chapel, each coloured in, with messages of thanks from the pupils who visited the Chapel a couple of weeks ago. They are so lovely that I'm going to put them up on the porch wall so that folk can look at them as they come into Chapel. The present was a box of Maltesers which I love, and allow myself just a couple after dinner!
They were all quite unexpected and it was lovely to see that the children had had a fun time! It quite brightened my day!

Monday, 29 November 2010

under it all

We were on one of our regular trips to London last week when we got the news that one of our elderly gents had suddenly died.
On our return home, having visited the family and then prepared the service, I heard the weather forecast, so set about finding a warm winter-weight jacket. Non to be found in the two towns that I frequent and so I resorted to buying warm black fabric, lining etc. etc. and making it myself.
Although the weather forecast predicted clouds it was a beautiful sunny morning but still very chilly - so on went layers of clothes.
Usual undies, then cami-top, long sleeved silk vest, thin black jumper and clerical blouse on the top half, with one pair of usual tights, one pair of thick black tights, silk short johns, petticoat and lined skirt all topped with new lined black jacket plus gown - Welsh funerals are done in style! Nose and hands were still cold!
We have about 20 at our Sunday service but today the Chapel was packed, and the school room was packed and the 'stable' was packed and yet more were standing outside - rough guess; about 150! We have loudspeakers on the outside of the Chapel so that the whole village can hear the service!
George was the gent who was persuaded to get a scooter so that he could get to the Chapel for his grandaughter's wedding and he has been coming to Chapel ever since.
How can one not love a 90 year old guy who winks at you across the Chapel when we are saying the Grace to each other!
God bless you George - see you on the other side.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

school trip

I loved the school trips all those years ago. We 'did' so many of the London tourist places - Tower of London, Madame Tussauds, the Planetarium etc.
One of the classes from our local school came to our chapel this morning! This is rather special as it is a Church of England school (in Wales!) and they have all their special services at the 'big' church, but the teacher wanted the children to know the difference between church and chapel.
As I live just round the corner from the school I went to meet the children there and we walked in crocodile fashion the half mile to the chapel.
They loved the huge old Bible with colour plates and brass catches, placed open on the communion table and the long-handled candle snuffer for the central candelabra (we do have electric lights as well!)
I explained the difference between Infant Baptism and Adult Baptism - not the theological points but how wet or not one gets! One lad wanted to know how it was done and he was game for me to hold him and lean him back - but we didn't get into the river to do it - it was rather swollen, brown, and I expect it was cold!
Another lad asked the best question -"How long do you stay under the water?" along with "Do you wear swimming costumes?"
They were intrigued with the grave stones, noting that many of them have the name of the farm or house where the person lived. 
And then there was the gravestone with the mistake, '1985 - 1973' - whoops!
Over an hour later we walked back to the school with many sketches done of the chapel - such fun.

Monday, 15 November 2010


I note that it is World Diabetes Day and that they are promoting physical activity as more and more people are becoming type 2 diabetics through eating more, or the wrong, food than is needed for the activity they do.
But that is not the only reason that people become type 2 diabetics as I know from experience! I've been told by my friends not complain because M&S have stopped selling trousers in a size 10 long. From that you should be able to tell that I am far from being overweight!
Little is made of the fact that stress can cause diabetes and although my life has changed and I am no longer in that stressful environment, I am still diabetic - and slim!


it was my daughter who persuaded me to join facebook - it seems to be the easiest way to contact her!
Then I found that I was able to stay in touch with many friends from way back including college friends from the 1960's! other college friends from the 1990's as well as my sons, my brother, step brothers and all their sons and daughters. However, my eldest son says that knowing that his mother can read his facebook wall does cramp his style!
Over the weekend my younger son posted a photo of his foot, with his little toe swollen and a beautiful shade of purple! Several friends were able to leave sympathetic comments, asking how he had hurt himself.
He replied that he had stubbed it on a chair, had taken the Lord's name in vain, and that the toe had actually fallen off but he had managed to fix it back on with wrigleys and a cocktail stick.
I then felt quite awkward... should one really fall about laughing when one's baby boy has hurt himself?

Monday, 8 November 2010

bust, busy, busy - rest!

Life seems to have been very busy over the last few weeks and today I've stopped - but that just means that the dust and general clutter and the liberal sprinkling of papers and books over my study floor are shouting to be cleared up!
So instead I sit here at my computer, gazing out of the window at pockets of blue sky wondering where the rain forecast for this morning has gone?

I have returned from my monthly fix of study at Spurgeon's. I love driving so the journey from South Wales to South London is a delight.
I journey the day before and stay at college overnight. This time I visited friends 'from way back when' we were teenagers. It was lovely to see the result of their hobbies since retiring. He takes photos and beautifully transforms them with the aid of his computer, while she has discovered that she has a talent for water colours.
Then shopping and a meal with my daughter.

After the course it was a drive to Brighton in time to bath the grandsons - such fun! and read bed-time stories to the eldest while Mummy was feeding the little one.

Saturday morning was a drive up the M23, round the M25 to Epping Forest where my eldest is living the good life, complete with chickens and loads of home-grown veg.

Then back into my trusty steed, back to Wales and into Sunday with a sermon on Titus, with folk looking up all the passages where he is mentioned to imagine the man he was! 

Life is very full and never boring!

Monday, 1 November 2010

We have been looking a Paul in our bible studies/discussion group and so I followed the theme through to Sunday with 'Road to Damascus' experiences. I found a beautiful piece in 'Shadowlands' of Joy Gresham's experience - the shock for her of being a communist atheist on her knees praying!

I altered my prepared sermon in the light of watching 'The Big Silence' with Christopher Jamison, the former Abbot of Worth. Five folk spent an eight day retreat in silence. Each in their own way had a profound sense of God being with them, even though only one of the group found it relatively easy to get into the silence.

Christopher explained that silence is the gateway to the soul, and the soul is the gateway to God.
But this leaves me with a nagging question around the 'Myers Briggs Type Indicator' (MBTI).
Where does this leave Extroverts who mostly get their energy from others and find retreats very draining? 
Or is this why four of the five had such a tough time getting into the silence? 
Or is it that silence is so different to our everyday lives it becomes quite scary?
I would welcome any comments!


There still seems to be a glitch on my blog which doesn't allow me to add to comments.
So thank you to Angela, who's married to a techno-wizz, for your offer and to Catriona for your encouragement.
It all went well and the chapel folk enjoyed the music and singing along with others on the ipod.
I had previously chosen hymns around the theme of being called weren't on the ipod so instead chose some Graham Kendrick hymns, one of which was new to them but they soon picked it up.
Yes, of course they would rather have our organist but they did enjoy the ipod for a change.

Friday, 29 October 2010

how will they take it?

...hopefully very well! as they are very forgiving folk at Chapel!
Let me explain -
We have no organist for this coming Sunday as she is poorly. So do we sing unaccompanied?
Our organist is an excellent singer as well who can get us all singing - I am no good - I can only follow.
We do have electricity and a loop system, but no mixing desk or computer and projector. Think back 30 or 40 years and that's us!

And then I had a bright idea. I do have an ipod which has all my favourite CDs on it, including many hymns. So I abandoned all the hymns I had chosen for Sunday as none of them were on the ipod and chose new hymns that were sung relatively slowly, and with a long lead I've manage to get the hymns to come through the loudspeakers.
I just hope the Chapel folk won't mind singing along with an ipod!

Sunday, 24 October 2010

career or vocation?

This morning on Radio 4's 'Sunday' program, the bishop of Fulham was being interviewed on his plans to become a Roman Catholic priest in response to the Anglican's move to have women bishops.
He spoke about the fact that he was following his vocation, it was not a career and therefore he would like to become a priest but was also aware that he may be a lay person within the Roman Catholic church. He would go where the church told him.

Is that the difference? My move to the ministry was not my choice, it was a calling that I could not ignore! Do some Anglicans take more note of church and tradition, than of the call of God? or is it that the church's tradition speaks so loudly that it is difficult to hear God.
In Christ there is no male or female; all are equal!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

28:19 or 21:17

Dare I admit it?
I've always found the Great Commission in Matthew's Gospel difficult!
And I've grown up finding missionary service difficult!
There - it's out in the open!

The first is because I prefer Jesus' commission in John's Gospel as it is more fitting with my personality and the second is because I knew several sons and daughters of missionaries who were literally shipped home to England to go to boarding school - I didn't think it was right!

But over the years I have softened in my outlook, especially now knowing several friends who work for the BMS and hearing more about the work of those abroad.

This weekend, four small Baptist chapels have had a visit from their 'link missionary'. For those who have no idea what this is.....
Some churches have folk who were part of their membership who have been called into missionary work but for other churches with no missionary of their own, they are given a link missionary.

Our four chapels, two on the border in England and two on the border in Wales share Judy. Yesterday, we gathered in England to worship, hear about her work, have tea and eat Thai food from a local restaurant and share communion.
And this morning we gathered in Wales to worship, hear about her work, pray for her as she returns to Thailand at the end of the month and get to know her a little better over coffee and cakes.

Judy used to be a children's nurse and was happy in her work but felt a call to missionary service. Having been sent to Thailand to undertake looking after those with AIDS and HIV, she started fostering a little girl and then found she was fostering a boy and then another girl until she is now running a Thai government approved foster home with six full time staff, several of whom came from very difficult backgrounds and in need of a fresh start in life.

I found it very reassuring that in my life too, God called me to one thing and it was only as time went by that I realised that it was so I could be in the right place to do something else.

I am excited about the work Judy is doing and how she is open to God, knowing that she doesn't know what will happen next but fully trusts God, knowing that God will provide.
And I feel that I have made a new friend! and for that I thank God

Monday, 27 September 2010

60 is the new 40

for several years I have heard people say this and this morning Harriet Harman was reported as saying that life begins at sixty. I wonder what happens at forty now?!
Apparently I was 'over the hill' at thirty, and found my 35th birthday very difficult - I'd reached the halfway point to three score years and ten!
In my forties I went back to college to train for the ministry - a complete change from the world of creating wedding dresses. I hadn't done much reading before then and now my walls started to become covered in books on shelves.
In my fifties, I moved house and became an 'earth mother' as predicted by my fellow students, leading the 'good life', growing our own veggies and baking bread, and followed the ministry of being available to those who wanted to make use of my counselling skills and theological training.
In my sixties another change, another house move and the call to be the minister of the local Chapel.
So what is so good about being 60?
I think it is that I am happy being me. I don't have the desire to be anything different. But is that because of my age or is it because I am so fortunate to have the ability to live where we do and have enough money not to worry? Maybe it is because I'm old enough and have lived long enough to have worked out what is important in life; a knowledge that I am loved by God and others, and everything else is secondary.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

harvest and back to church Sunday

It was a beautiful morning as we walked to Chapel - chilly but the sky was bright blue, the sun was shining and the leaves were just starting to turn.
The Chapel had been decorated by eight of our ladies on Friday afternoon and the smell of the apples as we entered was lovely.
As our theme today was Jesus' saying of "I am the Bread of Life", we had coffee with Barabrith, the traditional Welsh teabread after the service.
Although we didn't have anyone coming back to church our numbers topped 20 which is a lot for us. 
But we did have a couple of visitors who were on holiday staying at a B&B run by one of our members.
The husband knew that his family had originally come from this area but we were all surprised to find out that although they had never met before - his uncle's sister is one of our deacons! So we had a family union over coffee and Barabrith, where six 2nd cousins were able to chat to each other!


I'm still learning as to how this blog works! and still can't find out how to make comments on my own blog!
So thank you to both Angela and Catriona for your comments.
It is lovely to be part of the blogging community - one feels hugged from afar!

I haven't actually jumped through all the hoops...
In the various Baptist churches of which I have been a member it was agreed that no husband and wife should be on the same committee. So when I entered the room for my min.rec. interview and saw the small panel - only 6 out of the usual 12 and two were married and had already made wild assumptions about me - I knew I wouldn't get it.
However, the college said still come and get min.rec. later. At a later date I had another interview at college for them to say whether they thought I was suitable minister material before going back to min.rec.
Then my personal circumstances changed, I didn't go back to min.rec. and now it is too late.
I think a lot of it has to do with pensions but I already have mine!

Friday, 24 September 2010

it's my age

at least, I assume that's the problem - no one has told me exactly why...
I've received confirmation that I am now a BU recognised 'lay preacher', and will get my hand shaken at the next Baptist Assembly.
Although I undertook a three year full-time BD followed by an MTh, and have been called to be the minister of the local chapel, there seems to be no way that I can be recognised as a 'proper' minister, apart from waiting five years. We moved here to retire and I already collect my OAP pension - in five years time the chapel and myself could be thinking that I really ought to step down from the pulpit.
Having had my little rant - I don't mind being called a recognised preacher, but I do object to being called a 'lay' preacher. I was called to the ministry 18 years ago, giving up a successful business designing wedding dresses. My ministry is my work and has been since leaving college and I wouldn't change a thing - except my title!

Wednesday, 8 September 2010


As well as the usual floral tributes at the roadside where the young man died 10 days ago, we have become aware of who his friends are on our estate - as their cars are covered in messages; 'RIP', 'gone but not forgotten', heart shapes, the year of his birth and death and his name - written in lipstick?

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

am I part of a herd?

I was half listening to Woman's Hour while cleaning the bathroom, when I heard a woman who used to live in Baghdad say that she didn't agree with any sort of religion as it turned people into a herd. Of course it was at this point I tried to start listening with my full attention while wondering why folk have this impression.
Several years ago I was often asked if I was a 'born again' Christian but I wasn't quite sure what they meant or even if they knew what they meant! Are there really two classes of Christians?
But I am aware that every Christian is at a different stage of developing - just as we develop physically and mentally over the years.
As I have aged I may have become even more questioning of the church and the ways things are done - but for me, following Christ has meant that I have slowly become and am still becoming the person that God created me to be - different from everybody else.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

at last

Many weeks ago I received a message via facebook of a couple celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary and she was wearing her wedding dress that I had made for her all those years ago!
I hadn't seen either of them since their wedding day and was quite confused as neither of them looked 25 years older. With the wonders of facebook, I was able to get the permission of the bride to put it on my blog and then as a bit of a novice to the blogging game, I had to work out how to get it from facebook on to my desktop and then to my blog - I hope it all works!
Many, many congratulations to S & S, and especially to the bride for staying the same size!

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

angry with God

When I was called to be the minister at the local chapel it was on a part-time basis and as I had heard of some horror stories of ministers who were paid on a part-time basis but expected to preach every Sunday, I agreed to preach on the 1st, 3rd and 5th Sunday of every month. Which means that just a few times a year I take the services on two consecutive Sundays.
So having preached last Sunday, it's head down in my books preparing for next week.
I have been enjoying looking for 'hidden gems' in the Minor Prophets over the summer weeks - Habakkuk this week - which Paul quoted from at the beginning of his letter to the Romans.
Gosh - Habakkuk was so angry with God and had some real ding-dong arguments with him! It's good to know that we too can be angry with God and He still loves us and wants the best for us.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

within a few hours

On Friday evening a young man died in a car accident on the main road running through our village. And the same evening the new wife of a friend who I have known for over thirty years died of a massive brain haemorrhage. A few hours later, in the ambulance outside my son's house my new grandson came into the world - as yet with no name.
And life goes on .......

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

a very strange thing

We have just returned from a few days away, during which we visited Brighton beach. While standing at the sea shore, breathing in the seaweed smell and moisture coming off the sea, we watched a young man (he was young compared to us!) remove his jeans and top, put on an all in one suit (would it be a wet or dry suit?) matching booties and put his clothes into a see-through duffle bag. This bag had a long piece of string attached - he sealed the bag and tied it around his waist and walked into the sea - the waves were about four feet high so it was not easy for him - and then he started swimming out to sea with the bag floating behind him. He left no sign that he had ever been on the beach!
We left the beach with our heads full of questions... where was he swimming to? it's a long way to France from Brighton! and Why?!!! was he a real James Bond or Spook?

Monday, 16 August 2010

my first

Yesterday I took my first dedication service or rather it was a blessing as his Mum used to come to our Sunday School but has since moved away and only occasionally goes to church.
I was warned in advance by Grandma that this was not a small baby and I knew he was six months old. So I was rather wary as I knew that when my sons were that age they became very particular over who held them.
Being an older baby and noticing what was around him, Dad quickly undid my radio mike and then baby was far too interested in my chain on which I wear a cross to be aware of anything else that was happening.
I know that in the Baptist Union's suggested service it states that the minister carries the baby through to the back of the church but as we have a small chapel so everyone could see him, I declined and quickly gave him back to his Dad!

Last Sunday we were very thin on the ground due to holidays but this week not only did we have the family and friends of the baby, we also had several folk visiting who were here on holiday.
Judging what to preach on, especially as I knew that there would be rare church-goers, caused a bit of a big think and prayer. But as I have been looking at well known verses from the minor prophets during the summer - we looked at Jonah; a character that the rare church-goers know of but the full story that not many church goers have heard. How good to read that Jonah was so angry with God - somehow it means that we can be angry as well and yet God still loves and cares for us.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

I'm bored

well, not me today! but it was a cry I would make to my Mum way back then when I was on my school holidays.
I was thinking about this only yesterday, was I really bored? or was I tired, as I was a bit of a weak child and sometimes didn't have the energy to do anything? And then this morning they were talking on radio 4's 'Today' about children being bored during the holidays.
I cannot remember my children ever telling me they were bored - lego kept them happy from their pre-school days till their teenage days - even on our camping holidays! Go anywhere near water and they would be singing the bucket of water song - and emptying the buckets over themselves - bring back Tiswas!
So why are some of the children of today bored on their holidays? Is it because they spend so much time playing on computers that they don't know what to do when they are without them when they go away on holiday?
And maybe when my best friend from childhood moved away I too felt lost and didn't know what to do with myself. I'm no longer bored, especially as I'm now married to my childhood friend.

Friday, 6 August 2010

and there is more!

Giles Fraser's 'Thought for the day' on weddings has been picked up by the Daily Express and on their website there are also comments on the article.
Some have written about why brides wear white - and yes it is nothing to do with purity and whether one is still a virgin when walking down the aisle.
And yes, it is partly to do with wealth. In the days before washing machines and easily washable fabrics, it was only the wealthy who would wear white as they were not the ones doing all the hard dirty work including the washing.
But the other reason was that brides would wear their new best dress for their wedding and the wealthy would wear the dress which they wore when being presented to the king or queen - the debutants! The dress would have a train usually attached at the shoulders which was known as a 'court train'.
And that is why many, many years later, brides still wear white and the dress will often have a train!
And why bridesmaids...? Get ready all you Christians....
the bridesmaids wear similar dresses to the bride to confuse the evil spirits so that they do not know which is the bride!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

more weddings

Yesterday morning on radio 4's Thought for the day, Giles Fraser spoke about the amount of preparation and money spent on the wedding day.
A woman was on Today this morning to defend weddings, saying that she had ten years experience in the wedding 'industry' (I'm sure it was that word)!
As someone who has had forty-three years experience, I feel I may have slightly more experience!
I'm not sure that weddings have changed much in the last ten years, but they certainly have in the last forty years.
Then, there were no wedding magazines, wedding dresses were often a simple long white version of what was worn everyday. The reception was usually for around 50 guests and there were no favours (small gifts for the guests).
Now, brides can spend thousands of pounds on a dress to be worn for just one day. Receptions are often for 100 plus with another party in the evening for more guests.
So much preparation, time and money is put into weddings, that many couples delay until they can afford to pay for their dream wedding.
Some of the best weddings I have been to are where friends and relations help to prepare for the day; making dresses, baking cakes, driving cars with the reception being held in a church hall or back garden.
It has been since the introduction of many of the wedding magazines, helping you to prepare for the 'big' day, that weddings have gone crazy! Let's keep it simple!

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

The hidden Church

On Sunday I was invited to preach at a little Chapel that I had heard about, but hadn't been to before. I was given directions and had found it on my map. Most of the journey was on twisting, single track lanes with very high bushes on either sides. And then the lanes didn't seem to agree with my map and the Chapel was no-where to be seen.
I stopped the car outside a cottage and asked the way and was told to go down the unmade track with the no-through road sign!
I guess the members of the Chapel did not want visitors or new members! But the five members of the congregation plus organist were very friendly and the singing was excellent - hymns I remember from my childhood!

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Weddings; Golden, White, Red & Green

Last Friday, we felt very honoured to be invited to help celebrate the golden wedding anniversary of the couple who took me under their wings in my student pastorate, sixteen years ago.
And on Saturday I took my first marriage at the Chapel. Many people were invited and had to squash up on the pews, with others standing outside, and so the outside speakers were put on so that everybody could hear the service.
Fortunately this is an English speaking part of Wales but the whole service was very Welsh!
The bride was in white with a large red dragon embroidered on the train of her dress, with one bridesmaid in red and the other in green. The flowers were red and white with green foliage, the groom with a red cravat and the ushers with green.
All the orders of service were tied together with white, red and green ribbons. We sang 'Cwm Rhonda', 'Jerusalem' (the valleys also have their satanic mills!) and 'We'll keep a welcome in the hillsides'.
The Welsh theme was continued to the reception; each place setting had a large welsh-cake in the shape of a dragon.
Two days of celebrations with two very large meals, means I shall take things easy this week - especially at meal-times!

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Afternoon ramble

Yesterday I managed to finish preparing for Sunday's service, and the wedding service for Saturday was also prepared, which is good as we are busy today and tomorrow!
So yesterday afternoon we went for a walk up a country lane until we reached Offa's Dyke path and then we came back along the path over the fields back to our home.
Once we reach Offa's Dyke (the dyke can no longer be seen around here) we stop and sit down to partake of afternoon tea - tea bag, mugs, spoon, hot water in a thermos flask and yummy biscuits all carried in a small rucksack.
The views were wonderful, blue sky, white clouds, green fields, pale yellow fields which had already been harvested - we could see for miles, spotting the site where we had lunch a few weeks ago on the top of the hill across the valley. We waved at the train - cos you do - well we do!
And marvelled at the buzzard which we watched for ages and it never once flapped its wings - it glided all over the valley, showing off its markings as it flew above us - Wonderful!

Monday, 26 July 2010

Erotic Love

There have been many letters in the Baptist Times in response to articles written by the blogger 'nah then' (see side column). One points out that "...the Bible itself is 'X-rated'. Mutilations, rape and dismemberment are found within its pages." I must admit that I was shocked when I first read my Bible from cover to cover, discovering things that I had never heard in church!
Next Saturday I shall be taking a wedding, and as I prepared a little talk, I decided to use a few verses from 'Song of Songs' or 'Song of Solomon' as it is called in some translations. Wow, that was difficult - so there I was using just a few verses and then stopping short - not because I thought any visitors would be shocked at the language - but because I thought it may offend some church-goers! We don't usually hear sermons from that book!

Thursday, 22 July 2010

I've changed

I used to be a wallflower, watching everyone else. I was told by a good friend that I shouldn't go into the ministry (but I'm not sure of his views on women in the pulpit!) because I was more of a Barnabas - helping in the background.
But I followed my calling and after many years of helping in the background, I am now often to be found in the pulpit.

Ours is a small chapel with most members being OAPs, with very little in the way of facilities, so we are praying and thinking about how we can be Christ in the village.
The village has an active life based around the village hall. I've never been a social animal and going to regular women's meetings has never been my style but as the newly appointed minister, I thought I ought to join in.
So once a month I join others for an afternoon talk and recently went on their summer outing to Ludlow - beautiful but not the same as our bit of Wales. This annual outing attracts many others including the local vicars and others who take the day off from work thus filling a large coach.

Then there is the book club which I joined not only to broaden my reading matter but to meet other women, most of whom do still go out to work. And yes, I've read some good books that I would never have previously picked up.

And every Wednesday I join in the coffee morning - a mixed group of OAPs but mostly women. Our chapel lunchtime bible study follows this once a month and those who have looked at the notes start discussing the questions over coffee, along with others who don't go to church.
Yesterday the coffee morning group all went to a very nice hotel for lunch, and I was asked by non-church going folk to say grace, during which there were many giggles because I thanked God that we didn't have to do the washing-up - but let's be honest - isn't half the pleasure of eating out, the fact that we neither have to cook the meal or wash-up!

I've never had such an active social life and its been a wonderful opportunity to get to more people in the village. I'm a changed woman!

Monday, 19 July 2010

It's not logical

We came to South Wales on holiday three years ago, as we were on our way to visit my Aunt further north but had heard about a little church in the middle of nowhere which had a well where an 11th century pilgrim had been healed and the church possessed a 'sense of the other'. It can only be reached by a single track lane with twists and very steep bits or a tramp across several fields. Having driven there once - we now leave the car and walk the last bit.

Having visited my Aunt and continued our holiday in Brecon, we decided that we preferred our first campsite - so returned there. By now the weather had changed and we had difficulty driving back into the field through the mud. And so for the last few days we sat in our camper-van, stuck in the mud in the pouring rain when I suddenly found myself saying "Isn't it wonderful here - we should move here when we retire - oh - we are retired - what's stopping us? - nothing!"
The farmer kindly pulled us out of the mud with aid of his tractor and then let us hose down the van ready for our journey home.

On our return we put our house on the market and looked up the village in the BU handbook to discover that there was an active Baptist chapel which we had walked past without noticing it - which is weird because it is very difficult to miss!

As we told our younger son of our plans, he told us that he had got his wife 'up the duff' - were we still going to move? It was not planned as she was still to complete her degree - and it would have been very useful to have a Grandma living nearby.
I also had to promise my Mum that I would still come and see her every month and tempted her with holidays in Wales.

During the long months of waiting for the housing chain to sort itself out, we made several visits back to Wales and started worshipping at the chapel. On our first visit I was asked if I could play the organ? No! Would you be happy to teach in Sunday School? NO! I then thought I ought to confess - 'I do preach a little' - 'Oh Good' was the reply - 'Are you happy to have a woman in the pulpit?' as quick as anything the response was 'Oh Yes - I book the preachers!'

It was not logical - young Stanley was born on the day the contracts for selling our house were signed - we would be leaving family and friends - knowing no-one in South Wales - but it is the best move we have ever done.

We have made more friends here than ever before - both within the chapel and outside. Mum and our sons and daughter with spouses come for holidays - the area is beautiful and we love climbing the hills.
And now many years after leaving college, I am able to make full use of my studies and am so grateful for the opportunity to have listened to some of the world's greatest preachers.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Good News

It's a year since this little Baptist Chapel called me to be their minister, although we were already members and had been worshipping, along with the occasional preach, with them for the two previous years.
So yesterday was the first Annual General Meeting where I took the chair. And I should mention that although we have quarterly Deacon's meetings we don't have Church Members meetings. This was a big event!
Because many of our folk are getting on in years and don't like coming out in the evenings, we opted for coming together on a Saturday morning.
One of our deacons who celebrated his ninetieth birthday a couple of months ago has been unable to get to chapel for well over a year as he doesn't have the puff to walk up the path.
He lives just a hundred yards from the chapel and so we always have our deacons meetings at his house. He can usually be seen sitting in his new conservatory and he waves to us as we walk to chapel, and enjoys reading my full script prayers and sermon without the aid of reading glasses!
But yesterday he arrived at the chapel for the AGM on his new scooter! However, doing something so different yesterday has meant that he was too tired to join us this morning for the service.
Arrangements will now be made to make sure that he can come into the chapel and remain sitting on his scooter for the services. But the really wonderful news is that he will be able to see his grand-daughter get married in two weeks time.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

What should women wear

... and who should make the decision?
Should it be her husband? or should it be the government? Has anyone thought that maybe a woman may like to make up her own mind?

I first met women in burkas in a London department store decades ago and was quite intrigued! Covered from head to toe in black, some with a thick black net over the eye opening, while others wore a gold mask. I wondered if they really could see what they were buying!

There are times when I think it would save a lot of time and effort not to worry about the state of my hair or makeup, and could see the benefit of putting on a burka.
But I do think it is sad that what women wears should be dictated by the government, especially as I understand that many wear the burka through choice.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Women Bishops

The vote has been cast but we won't see any Women Bishops until 2014!
I was thrilled with the decision but saddened by much of the discussion, what many who were against were trying to explain was that this would be going against tradition - nothing about what the bible says!
I spent a very long breakfast with Christina Rees at a conference led by 'CBE' (Christians for Biblical Equality), 'WATCH' (Women And The CHurch) and 'MWG' (Men Women and God).
At the conference there was a paper presented on Romans 16:7. "Andronicus and Junia... they are prominent among the apostles." A man and a woman!
The Authorised version has Junia, as does William Tyndale's 1526 translation, but in more recent translations such as the commonly used NIV, 'Junia' has been changed to 'Junias' - a made up name with a masculine feel to it!
There were female apostles and Paul wrote about at least one!
When the decision to have women priests was made, my Roman Catholic female friends were horrified at the thought of the traditionalist Anglican priests defecting to them - they were not against them as Anglicans but their views on women priests!

We Baptists may have been ordaining women for eighty years, and have the equivalent of a woman bishop but as it is the membership of each church which decides on who will be their minister, our number of women ministers is still quite low.
Why is it that the church which should be at the forefront, stills lags behind on the question of equality?

Saturday, 10 July 2010

The news

Raoul Moat's dictaphone showed the police that he was getting angry with the way his situation was being reported.
I have rarely bought a newspaper - one; because I could see that I would sit and read it all day long and not get any work done, two; I hear most of the news every hour on the radio and three, because there are so many inaccuracies.
This morning I woke up very early and listening to the World Service, they were telling me of the situation in Haiti. The financial response to the earthquake was second only to the Tsunami and many folk are now living in better conditions than ever before. A few hours later on radio 4, they were stressing that so much work needs to be done - two sides of the same story; good news and bad news - no wonder we get confused when often getting only half the story.
Let us continue to remember those who are still affected by the London bombings, the Tsunami, earthquakes and the recent event in Rothbury.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

We've done it

One of reasons for moving here was to be able to put our boots on indoors and climb up the local hills.
While renting we managed to walk up our favourite hill each year. But this year we have only managed to go for short walks because of the work needing to be done on the house and in the garden, let alone preparing sermons and services.
We were planning to go for the walk a couple of days ago, but the weather changed for the better and we didn't want to get sunburnt. But today the forecast looked good, and although the sun came out a couple of times, most of the time it was covered with a thin layer of white cloud.
The hill is a long ridge, where we have seen hand-gliders - its a weird experience to see them flying below!
We had lunch on top with a beautiful view of the surrounding countryside - very similar to the view from an aeroplane's window when taking off but without the carbon footprint!

Wednesday, 7 July 2010


I remember what I was doing when I heard the news. My younger son was getting married the following week and I was helping my daughter-in-law with the final touches to her wedding dress.
We had the television on when the news came through, and she was very concerned as her elder brother was travelling across London on his way to see her. It was with a great deal of relief that sometime later, she was able to give him a big welcome hug.
I remember hearing the news about John Kennedy's assassination on Nov. 22nd 1963. Our YPF (Young People's Fellowship - gosh doesn't that sound old fashioned) was having its annual outreach weekend and I bounced into the hall with a friend and wondered why one of the lads was looking so despondent.
Even at that age with a very narrow outlook on life I was fully aware of the hope that the young Kennedy had brought. And I saw the very first Dr Who the next day!
I was at work in a design studio in London when I heard that his brother had also been assassinated.
In August 1977, I remember my Dad asking me what I thought about Elvis's death - I didn't read a newspaper and had no idea that it was thought to be drug related.
I woke up in the back bedroom of our house to hear that John Lennon had been shot - in 1980 it really did mean the end of the Beatles, because there was always talk of them getting back together - but I still love their music.
And I was working hard on the dissertation for my Masters when my Mum rang me up on 9/11.

I watched the programme about 7/7, seeing folk talk about what happened, some claiming it was a miracle that they survived. But what about those who didn't, two young men, both travelling by tube for the first time - one lived, one died. Those left behind not wanting to know of a God who would take away their precious daughter. I wonder how I would have reacted if I was in their shoes.
And did miracles happen that day?
Or do miracles happen everyday? but there are not the extreme events that cause us to stop and take note.

Monday, 5 July 2010

The time

For those of you who are thinking that I'm not sleeping very well, can I assure you that there is something very weird about the time of my posts - they are about eight hours late!
Does anyone know how I can alter the time?

Wimbledon is over

OK I admit it - I don't enjoy sport! Even with a name like mine. In tennis at school I couldn't hit the ball as far as the net, let alone over it and I haven't tried since!
I was never any good at sport and have never enjoyed watching it - so have great difficulty in understanding why people should spend so much money to pay to watch it.
However, I do acknowledge that there is something in watching the great skill of others.
And although Wimbledon is over, and not long before the World Cup is off our TV screens, the Tour de France has just begun.
My younger son has always loved bikes and considered taking up cycling as a career, but when he found out that he would have to practice by cycling 100 miles every day - he decided life was too short!
To succeed in any sport, not only do you have to have talent but also the dedication and determination to focus the whole of your life on that one thing - no good for the multi-taskers.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Why edgy dancing?

With my background in dance and love of dancing it was still a shock when a dance group took part in a church service when I was in my twenties.
But realising that there are many passages in the Old Testament where people praised God through dance and with the encouragement of our Assistant Minister, I later danced in church - it was quite an experience of bringing those two loves together.
Many years later, as a mature student, I mimed and danced to a couple of songs in Chapel - a wonderful experience for me, even though it made some folk rather uncomfortable! It being a very male dominated environment!
That was the last time I danced in public - dancing is something that I now only do in the privacy of my own home, but my spirit dances at every possible occasion.
My first choice of title of 'Dancing on the edge' had already been taken - so I twisted the words, ending up with a more 'edgy' title. But not edgy in the way of my dictionary's definition of irritable or nervous but more along the lines of 'a bit different', 'not the usual' and coming at something with a different point of view.
Apologies to those of you, like me, who have small computer screens, that the dandelion clock covers the word 'edge'.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

What's in a name

My second Grandson is 'cooking nicely' in his Mum's tum, expected next month but his parents are having so much difficulty in choosing a name.
I've been thinking about starting a blog for well over a year, but just couldn't think of the right name for the blog as I believe that a name conveys so much before anyone starts to read the content.
The decision has been made and here is my first post!
My name is Sue, even my Mum called me that! Dad called me Sausage, but Susan when I was naughty so I don't like being called Susan! I'm known by other names by my beloved but that's between him and me!
And then there is my best friend from teenage days - I call her Maggie and only recently found out that I'm the only one who still does - and likewise she calls me Sug. Someone had bad handwriting and Suzy was read as Sugy - and Sug stuck.