Lent challenge

Lent Challenge – “Hospitality”

Here’s my take on today’s #LentChallenge prompt of “Hospitality”.

We were treated to a carvery tea tonight by my lovely littlest brother and his equally lovely other half to celebrate a couple of recent family birthdays. It was nice to sit and eat together as a family and to catch up on what’s happening in each other’s lives at the minute. The place we ate at was very hospitable, with plenty of good food and happy smiling waiters. The photo above shows the meat counter where we got loaded up with our slices of meat and our ginormous Yorkshire puddings before we moved onto the vegetables and the rather excellent roast potatoes.

My take on “hospitality” is the sharing that we enjoyed tonight. The sharing of company, the sharing of food, the sharing of stories, the sharing of laughter and the sharing of the cost. Thank you little bro, you’re a star.

Lent challenge

Lent Challenge – “Breathe”

Today’s Lent Challenge prompt is “Breathe”. I thought that you might like to see my interpretation involving my friends and colleagues at Todmorden Community Brass Band. Here they are playing a verse of “Melita”, the tune used for the hymn “Eternal Father, strong to save”.

This is the band I conduct on a Friday night, and this is at the end of a brutal rehearsal tonight. As you will appreciate, the capacity to “breathe” is vital to the playing of brass instruments and what better way to demonstrate that than to show you a brass band playing a hymn tune? We have been rehearsing a piece called “The Padstow Lifeboat”, and as we are an island nation surrounded by water, I thought it fitting that we play the tune for the Royal Navy hymn “Eternal Father, strong to save” for my take on today’s prompt.

The full words to the hymn are:

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard
And hushed their raging at Thy word,
Who walked’st on the foaming deep,
And calm amidst its rage didst sleep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

Most Holy Spirit! Who didst brood
Upon the chaos dark and rude,
And bid its angry tumult cease,
And give, for wild confusion, peace;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

O Trinity of love and power!
Our brethren shield in danger’s hour;
From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
Protect them wheresoe’er they go;
Thus evermore shall rise to Thee
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.

Lent challenge

Lent Challenge – “Remember”

Today’s Lent challenge prompt is “Remember” and I chose to share with you a piece of needlework I remember doing when I was a new mother. I had a baby who was a couple of weeks old and a husband who was working on permanent night shifts when I made this in cross-stitch. The verse is one that I need to remind myself of every now and again when I feel that things are going against me, and it makes me remember the One who creates all and provides all.




Lent challenge

Lent Challenge – “Learn”

Today I start this year’s Lent Challenge as described by the Bible Society. Today’s prompt is “Learn”, and they ask that we share a photo of something which represents that. Here is my photo:


Intercessions For The Last Sunday Before Lent

It was my privilege to lead my church’s intercessions this morning (St Paul’s in Blackley) and I wondered if you might like to share them with us?  

Let us pray for the church and our world:

Heavenly father you promised to hear us when we pray in faith. We bring before you now those things on our hearts as we open ourselves to you.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer


We pray for the church around the world. For those who face hatred and violence for their faith, for those whose churches are under threat, for those who put their lives at risk to declare their Christian faith.

We pray for the General Synod who are meeting at this time and we ask for your loving guidance in the difficult discussions held and the decisions that are made there now. Bless the members, remind them of your unfailing love, and remind them that you Lord are at the heart of all they do.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

We pray for our community here in Blackley. For those who call this place home and for all who visit or pass through. May your face be seen here in the works and actions of all Blackley people, in acts of kindness, hospitality, friendship and love.

We pray for those who are facing health issues or who are worried about loved ones, especially those who are waiting a diagnosis or who are waiting for treatment.

We pray for those whose lives are blighted by debt, addiction, poverty, anger and all the things that make it difficult to feel loved by you father. We ask that as members of this church we stand as beacons of hope in an uncertain world for many. We give thanks for the mission opportunity of Messy Church, Stay and Play, and all our interactions with our schools and for everything we attempt either in groups or as individuals to reach out to others in your name. We ask your continued blessing on all that we do.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

We pray for our world. For those who seek to find peace, for those who work to protect our environment, for those who run into troubled areas as others flee from them.

During this fortnight of Winter Olympics, we ask your blessing on those who seek to unite people – looking at the examples set by the united team of North and South Korea, the Russian athletes competing under the Olympic flag, the myriad examples of hospitality to foreign nations shown by the hosts and so much more. Our world can appear to be a broken place, but we ask you Lord to remind us that in your love, we are one people and we offer our thanks to those who put themselves at risk of violence or ridicule when they try to bring about healing and change.

Merciful father, accept these prayers for the sake of your son, our saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.



Blogging, Uncategorized

Stormy Weather

It’s a tad breezy out there tonight (she says in massive understatement). The wind actually sounds like someone is having a motorbike race on the roof!

I just hope our wobbly chimney stack will make it through the night. If you hear a big crash followed by lots of swearing you’ll know it has been blown in.

I’ll let you know tomorrow…


Why Do We Blog?

So, go on then. Why do we blog?

When I started blogging all those years ago it was because I was going through an extremely dark phase of my life and I was introduced to the idea of keeping some sort of journal to keep track of what was happening to me and how it all made me feel.

I began a blog with the site that came with my Hotmail account and my posts were very “urgh, had another bad day today”. I didn’t really intend anyone to read them and they were more of a personal record of feelings more than anything. I didn’t know much about writing online and I know that not many people read my stuff so it didn’t really matter what I wrote or how often I posted.

Then the Hotmail site announced it was going to be closing and offered to migrate all our blogs over to WordPress. That timing coincided with the start of another new phase in my life where I felt I needed to challenge myself and so when I started the Mushy Cloud here on WordPress I committed to writing  a blog post every day for a year.

It was not as easy as I thought it was going to be, but I did it. A whole year of blogging!

I did find that some days were easier than others and content came to me quite naturally but other days, crikey, they were hard. I moved away from the personal stuff and began to look for content that interested me and so I began to write thoughts for the day, or share bits of poetry and “on this day in history” type of stuff, and I loved it. It was exhausting, but satisfying to get to the end of the year without having missed a single day of posting content.

After that particular challenge I decided to pare it back a bit, but I had the bug for writing and when I restarted my studies with the Open University in 2013 I was keen to build on it. Ironically, as I began to study the art of creative writing, my public writing on the Mushy Cloud tailed off a bit and towards the middle of last year I sort of lost my way a little. I had gained my bachelors degree in the summer of 2016 but even so, my writing mojo had gone.

I then started studying for my Masters degree in September last year and this Christmas I decided to re-challenge myself to post something every day for as long as I could as a way of making sure I did some sort of writing at least once a day. It was a way to discipline myself and to focus my thoughts on what I was studying – warm up exercises if you like.

But something happened, and I rather like it. I began posting in January and by the end of the first week I thought to myself that I would never find enough content to write something every day and I thought I might pare it back again to just once or twice a week. But I know myself, and I realised that if I only committed to once or twice a week I would either forget to do it, or I would find another excuse not to do it at all. And so I pushed through and made it to the end of January.

I had another rethink and thought, well, I’ve done a whole month, that’s enough to say I have met my challenge of writing every day and so time to stop now. But again, something happened. I had revisited some of my favourite memes and blog-hop sites from when I was fervently blogging before and I picked up some lapsed online friendships and I realised that I had missed them. There are genuine people out there with whom I have a genuine connection, who care about me and who I care about in return, and I had missed that online connection.

Now that we are well into February I have still not failed to post each day, but more than that, I am finding that my daily writing exercises are getting easier (not published online), and I am deepening those online relationships with people through blogging. And it’s great!

I had forgotten that pull of online friendships, with like-minded people who like to share things from their corner of the world with me and I am keen that all this continues. I draw strength and support from reaching out to people online and it helps me with my “real life” reaching out.

I admit that some days I do “cheat” a little and post just a picture, or a thought, or something quick and easy. But I try to make up for it with meatier stuff later on when I have more time.

So, that’s why I blog – it is somewhere to share thoughts with online friends, it helps with my daily discipline of writing and it is a way to meet a personal challenge of putting myself “out there”. Why do you do it? I know there are people who share aspects of their lives on here that I find invaluable and they draw strength and support just as I do, but I would love to hear what motivates them to do it. Is it like me, that sometimes you just need that quasi-anonymous relationship that is conducted through your screen? Or is it something else? Drop me a comment and let me know.

Happy blogging!!