Christianity, General/Journal

On Placement – Part One

It has been a while since I updated you all about what’s happening with my spiritual journey so I thought today was a good day to share with you where I am up to.

You may know that I am currently in the stage of discerning God’s call and what it means for me and my life, and having gone through several stages of inspection and indeed introspection, I am now moving on to another stage of my journey.

I have been given a date to attend a Bishop’s Advisory Panel (BAP for short) in September, where I will go through a three-day “interview” process where I may – or may not – be recommended to go for further training in the church. As part of the process so far I have seen two vocational advisors and an examining chaplain as well as having several conversations with the Diocesan Director of Ordinands (DDO) about what God’s call sounds like to me. During that process, it has been highlighted that I have little experience of church outside my own circle, and so I have arranged to do a short placement with a neighbouring parish to see how they do things there.

I started my placement today at St Michael’s in Alkrington, and I am going to be there for the next three Sundays with a view to learning as much as I can from a different priest-in-charge and from the congregation there.

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It has been a long day – my first service was at 8am this morning – but I have met lots of new people and seen three different styles of worship with three different congregations. First was a said Eucharist, which means that we shared holy communion but there were no hymns and all of the prayers and responses were spoken not sung. Next was a service at 9.30am which was a sung Eucharist, which you can probably work out is where we share communion but sing hymns and responses. Both services were very different from that which I am used to, but it helped me focus on the reasons why we “do” worship in church, and how we relate to each other as fellow worshippers.

I had a cup of tea after the service with some of the congregation members and I think I have found a new set of friends in the needlework group who meet on a Monday afternoon! The ladies there promised me a noisy afternoon of knitting and nattering so I’m going to take my crochet hooks with me and head off tomorrow for some fun and chats with them. I also spoke to a gentleman who at the grand age of 93 still plays euphonium in the church brass band, and with whom I have a “date” on Thursday evening at band practice.

Later on, I went to a Family Service which was a totally different service in terms of style for families who are looking to have their children in faith schools. There was over 70 children there and wow, what an experience!

I was introduced to all three congregations and prayers were offered for me and my vocational call. I was touched and humbled by the response of the church today because I don’t remember ever being the focus of attention quite so much before, and to know that there are about 200 people who prayed for me today was an amazing feeling.

I have learned a lot of things today – not least that 93 year old gentlemen can use a smartphone better than some children can! – and I am looking forward to spending the next couple of weeks with this group of lovely people and sharing ministry and mission with them for a short while.

So. My pre-BAP placement has begun and so too has the next stage of my discernment journey. I hope to keep you up to date with how things progress, and I’ll perhaps blog about what is involved with BAP too as things progress there.


Wednesday Hodgepodge

Springy Hodgepodge


Thanks to Joyce at “From This Side of the Pond” for hosting another Wednesday Hodgepodge! Here’s my answers but if you’d like to join in, click the graphic above and it will take you to the host site and you can follow the instructions.

1. What’s the first image that comes to mind when you hear the word ‘spring’? Which phrase best describes the season of spring where you live right now (today)-sprung!, almost there, or still waiting?

When I think of Spring I think “yellow”. My favourite flowers – daffodils – are yellow; Spring means Easter, which means chicks, which are yellow; we begin to see the sun again, which is (obviously) yellow. Yeah. Spring to me is YELLOW!

2. Bed, couch, stapler, garage door, computer mouse, recliner, flashlight, door knob…which household item containing springs most needs replacing in your home? Speaking of springs…did you ever own a slinky?

Oh my bed. I love it, don’t get me wrong, but it is beginning to show signs that it has had about 8 or 9 years of being slept in now and will need to be replaced in the next year or so. The base squeaks whenever we sit on the bed and the memory foam topper appears to be in the early stages of Alzheimers. It seems to have forgotten that it needs to be flat when there’s nobody lying on it and there are parallel dips where we sleep.

And yes, I have had several slinkies and loved them all.

3. March is Women’s History Month. Share a favourite quote by a woman.

“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” ―Nora Ephron

4. What’s a question that looms large in your mind right now?

I am contemplating my calling in the church and I am trying to discern what I am being called to do. The questions I have run along the lines of: Do I put myself forward for ordination training, or do I wait and see what the church looks like in a couple of years? Do I think I can make it as a parish priest, or ought I to stay local and serve my own community? Do I stay unpaid, or do I opt for stipendiary? If I stay unpaid (and un-ordained) how am I going to support myself? There will be expenses to be paid and we are barely managing on my husband’s wages as it is so, yeah, questions are looming large right now!

5. Are you a sugar freak? By that I mean how much do you love sugar? With all the bad press sugar gets these days, have you made any efforts to reduce the amount of sugar you consume?

I am not a huge sugar fan and I would rather snack on savoury things than sweet ones. That said, I do crave chocolate now and again but that is easily satisfied by a single Twix finger or a Milky Way or something.

6. Would you rather have less work to do or more work you enjoy doing?

I am a natural grafter and will work and work and work so no, I would not rather have less thank you. But, here’s a question for you, if you enjoy doing it and would like to do more of it, is it really “work”? I don’t think so. My feeling is if it feels like “work” then do less of it and find something else to occupy your time.

7. Ever been to Texas? Of the top ten Texas tourist attractionswhich would you most like to see-The Alamo, The San Antonio River Walk, The State Capital, Dallas World Aquarium, Padre Island National Seashore, Houston Space Center, Schlitterbahn Waterpark in New Braunfels, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, Moody Gardens, or Galveston Island?

I have never been to Texas and can’t ever see me going, but if I did I would like to see Padre Island National Seashore. Anything where there is sea and a shoreline interests me.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I’m feeling really restless at the minute and I can’t pin down why that is. I am coming to the end of both my courses and just have a couple more assignments to do before a final assessment for each but I don’t think that’s it. I have got plenty to keep my busy, with church things to do, my assignments and coursework as well as things for the house so I don’t think that’s it either. I don’t feel confined to the house which sometimes happens, so it’s not that. So what is it??!

I think the answer may lie in the projects I want to do but can’t justify the time spending on just now. I want to break out my paints and get arty, and I have a couple of sewing projects lined up but with so much else going on I can’t really devote time to them just yet. I think the answer may also lie in the fact that Spring is threatening to burst and that means things NEW and CLEAN and FRESH, such as a big house clean, or garden tidy up etc. But it hasn’t quite sprung yet…and it’s making me impatient to get cracking!


General/Journal, Poetry

If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking

I have often felt that my life is directionless or meaningless, and occasionally I have felt that I am fully interchangeable with someone (anyone) else. I wonder constantly what my vocation is, what my purpose is and what I am here for. And now and again I get little pointers to help me on my way.

Today’s little pointer comes courtesy of Emily Dickinson:

If I can Stop One Heart From Breaking

If I can stop one heart from breaking,

I shall not live in vain;

If I can ease one life the aching,

Or cool one pain,

Or help one fainting robin

Unto his nest again,

I shall not live in vain.

It isn’t the big, sweeping gestures that make a difference is it? It’s the little things and I should do well to remember that. This poem sums it up beautifully and has served its purpose well today.

Blogging, Christianity

Taking A Break

I am just letting you know loyal readers and commenters that I am intending taking a week’s sabbatical this week and will not be blogging until next weekend.

There is nothing wrong, it’s just that after fifteen months of continuous posting I feel I need a bit of a break. I am in the middle of a 30 day challenge, but I’m happy to let that wait for a few days to give me time to refresh and regather myself and to spend this week reading and creating things away from the computer.

However, before I go, I must share with you my experiences today.

It was my turn to lead the Sunday School session at church this morning, and as it was only the second time of me doing it I was rather nervous to say the least. Nervous to the point of being awake at 4am this morning and going downstairs to go through my notes again to make sure I’d got everything sorted for the session. It was only an hour’s worth of Sunday School, but it means the absolute world to me and I just wanted to get it right. Not that I would do a good job necessarily but that I wouldn’t tell the kids something that they would carry right through their lives thinking something wrong about God. Big responsibility!

As it turned out, it was absolutely FANTASTIC and we had a ball. Loved it loved it loved it. The kids were with me, we had a good laugh singing Climb Up Sunshine Mountain and then we did some cutting out, storytelling, glueing and colouring in. Brilliant. Loved it and can’t wait to do the next one.

Straight after that I had two families making enquiries about having their children baptised, which is another of my church “duties” that I love doing. Great families, lovely kids and I can’t wait to them welcomed into the family.

And then, the biggie: Ethan was playing with the music centre this evening at the Royal Northern College of Music and I was so proud of him. He plays in the entry level concert band and we heard them perform as well as the middle level and the senior level band. Oh my word. I was so choked up at times this evening I felt a bit of a berk really. When they played Highland Cathedral I think I made it as far as the second bar before the lump in the throat turned to tears streaming down the face….sob!

I was having a conversation with my friend Cassie yesterday about my role in children’s ministry and I said to her that it didn’t feel quite right to me. I said that I loved doing it and I enjoyed it, but it didn’t feel just absolutely right for me and I wasn’t sure I wanted to pursue it any further than I’m doing at the moment.

How the Holy Spirit works eh? Not only did I have a great session this morning which went like a dream but then this evening, listening to those young people playing music with such enthusiasm and passion, it struck me that I do have a role to play and that working with young people is absolutely my path forward. I can’t really explain the feeling of certainty that washed over me, but the closest I can come to it is with an analogy:

As adults, we have a duty and a responsibility to pass the baton onto the next generation in whatever field we are in. It just isn’t good enough to throw it down on the floor for them to pick up for themselves and run with it. We absolutely have to teach them first of all what the baton is, and then how to hold it, then how to run with it and eventually let them take it from our hand. Whether it is as a Sunday School leader, teaching music, drama, art, football, athletics, or any number of other things, we have to do something about handing on to the next generation, and doing it properly.

I am so glad that I didn’t back out of my turn this morning and I thank God for the experience I have had tonight with the musical young people at Bury Music Service.

To finish on a funny note, let me share with you something that happened this morning. You will see why I had such a good time…

We were sat round the tables and the children were colouring in some pictures that we had just played a game with (we matched up the words to pictures about 4 people in the Bible who had trusted God and God hadn’t let them down – Noah, Hannah, David and Elijah). As they were finishing off their colouring I started to read them the story about David and Goliath, trying to keep things moving a bit. They did very well considering that the age range was about 4 to 7 years old. I had the book open and was showing the pictures as I read out loud and we hadn’t got very far into the story when the noise level started to get a bit much and was on the verge of getting too loud, so I threw in a question: “David was a shepherd. Who can tell me what a shepherd does?” A couple of the kids shouted out and a few put hands in the air, and we generally got the idea that a shepherd looks after sheep.

I carried on with the story, and the noise went up again so I asked another question: “Why did David lead his sheep to find new juicy grass?” Again, the shout outs and the hands up in the air and they had a little discussion amongst themselves and generally agreed that they needed grass to eat because they were HUNGRY…tsk Pam, didn’t you know?!

Me, being a bit daft and loving the way little minds work, asked “and why do they just eat grass when they’re hungry?”…and a little voice from the corner of the table….”Because they don’t like McDonalds…?”


I love kids and I’m not so sure that my assertion to Cassie yesterday about it not feeling quite right is, well, quite right actually.

Time will tell!

Right, that’s me off now for a bit.

Enjoy the next few days and I will see you all refreshed, renewed and revitalised in a week.

Best wishes, Pam