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  • Oh Lord, You Sometimes Speak in Emails...

    Yup, it's me plagiarising the Chris Idle hymn (Lord You Sometimes Speak in Wonders) yet again.

    One effect the last year has had on me, is to erode my, never too great to start with, confidence, and increase my propensity to worry and over reflect.  I have also become a lot more irritable (that is probably a drug side effect, and will hopefully disappear in about four years time...) and way less tolerant of people 'sweating small stuff'.  All of which often leaves me questioning my abilities as a minister type person.  I never think I'm good enough, am always conscious of my shortcomings and over reflect on every criticism that comes my way.  Daft, but that's me.

    Anyway, overnight an email arrived from someone I only know on line, and only vaguely, and in a very narrow context in which I am no longer active, but which gave me a real 'lift' with its kind words.

    This kind of thing happens periodically, just when I need a little reassurance or encouragement, and it has to be God...

    Lord, you sometimes speak in emails,

    Or phones calls from a distant place:

    Kindly words to life our spirits

    When we doubt our own ability -

    Oh Lord you sometimes speak in emails.


    Thank you God for your mysterious ways!

    PS This applies to other types of email (or phone call or letter) too - it's something about the unsolicited, unexpected nature, more than the content (it could equally be to challenge me or to confirm something I/we have been pondering) that is the God-ness.

  • Good Evening!

    No, not a greeting, a statement of opinion, as I finally sit down having restored some semblance of order and cleanliness to my kitchen after Holly's bake-a-thon.

    Just in case anyone wonders what she's been supervising (baking with paws is not exactly very practical, so you need a slave) here is a photo taken just before everything was covered in foil lest she decided to test it overnight...


    Giant vegan chocolate cupcakes with oreos (oreos turn out not to be vegan but they can be pulled off easily)

    Vegan cupcakes with cardamom and strawberries

    Ginger cupcakes with gingerbread stars

    Blueberry muffins, kind of... don't look very muffin like

    Cheese scones

    Plain scones

    Grandma's fruit cake

    Carrot and apple cake with cream cheese topping

    Not pictured, a loaf of tomato bread still coooking, and of course the mini quiches which are being kept chilled.


    Phewf, no wonder I am ready for a rest.  But wow, how great to have the energy to do all this again.  It's probably the first time in over a year I haven't had to reign in my enthusiasm to match my reduced energy levels.  Just hope I don't 'pay for it later' to coin a west of Scotland phrase.

  • Moderation in All Things?

    Recently I've noticed a number of my fellow bloggers are introducing "comment policies" and/or using moderation tools because they are getting increasing numbers of offensive or inappropriate comments on their blogs.  This saddens me - and them - as they are very responsible bloggers who are posting interesting articles and/or stimulating important and valuable online conversations.  Of course the comment facility on here is so unpredictable that I can never be sure if people have tried to comment or not!  Annoyingly, comments advertising pseudo-medical products do still manage to find their way through the ether, so periodically I have to have a blitz on them.

    I know, from checking my stats, that in a typical month around 2000 unique visitors will come to this blog.  I also know, from keyword searches recorded by the stats thingy, what kind of posts they are seeking - anything from specific liturgies to chemo regimes to 'where can I buy a fairtrade duffle coat' (I don't know the answer to the last one!).  With such a wide readership (loads of people have this blog bookmarked!) it does no harm now and then to remind myself, and my readers, that this is, and always has been, a personal blog:

    • The views expressed are mine.
    • The foul ups are mine.
    • The useful bits are mine.

    I endeavour to be accurate in citing any sources I quote (though confess I do nick a few images from the web) since I take seriously copyright restrictions.

    I also do my best to anonymise or at least mask the identities of real people and places... but the truth is, anyone with access to the web can readily track down The Gathering Place, Dibley, D+1, D+2, D+6 Dibley Penties, or any other congregation to which I allude.  I am, like it or not, quite a well known Baptist blogger!

    A lot of stuff can never be blogged - there are obviously pastoral and professional matters that are confidential and/or sensitive and I take such issues very seriously.  Part of the nature of this blog is that much can never be shared, or only shared retrospectively.

    Inevitably when people like what I write, when it accords with their views or experience, when they find it funny or thoughtful, I hear little and I blog away quite happily.  Very occasionally (now three times in over six years, and, to date, 2402 posts including this one) something I say causes hurt or upset.  My logical head says 3 out of 2402 is pretty good going, and even if the real count is ten times that (on the basis that some people will just stop reading and/or not say anything) it's still not so bad.  Nevertheless it always upsets me that I've upset others and I worry what to do about it.

    Anyway, in the interests of openness, and in the spirit in which I've always written this blog, I am sorry to anyone (everyone) who I have inadvertently offended or upset.  I have added a 'low key' info box to the sidebar reminding readers that this is MY blog not that of any organisation.  It's not a disclaimer in any legal sense of the word, just a ham-fisted attempt to reduce the potential for misunderstanding.  I like to think I'm reasonably moderate in what and how I say it, but I am also a flawed human who now and then will mess up.

  • The Not So Great Bake Off!

    Holly the Cat is having an 'at home' on Saturday, to which she has invited everyone from church.  Whilst not everyone will be able to come, she is keen to ensure there is plenty of home-baking to go round, so she's had me hard at work in the evenings this week!


    The picture shows the mini quiches I made this evening - it has to be said the photo makes them look better than they are in life, as with about two exceptions they stuck firmly to the bun tins in which I was baking them, despite them being non-stick!  They are now scratched non-stick where I dug out the pastry.  Only one quiche actually fell apart, so of course I tested it - it tasted better than it looked.  Three flavours, mushroom, bacon and spring onion, and cheese and tomato.

    So far we also have a fruit cake (made to my grandma's foolproof recipe, it has never, ever failed, phew) and a carrot and apple cake (waiting for its cream cheese topping).  Other still to be made delights include vegan oreo chocolate cupcakes, strawberry cupcakes, possibly gingerbread cupcakes and/or blueberry muffins, and plain scones.  The original plan included making vol au vents, but there might have to be a rain check after tonight's bodgings!

    Just hope Holly is happy with the end result, and that those who come to share feel welcomed and valued.

  • Advent 0

    I've mentioned a few times we are having a slightly extended Advent this year, so today is hereby declared Advent 0 as we have our first lunchtime reflection service thingy.  In a few minutes I will load all my clutter into my car and drive to the Gathering Place - a rare event, I almost always walk.

    Today our focus is on the story of Tamar, one of the lesser known parts of Genesis and seen by some as a mere interlude or excursus in the more familiar Joseph story.  Tamar's tale is hardly a happy one, and too readily people read in things that aren't there, making her the villain of the piece, despite the appalling treatment she receives from Judah, who fails to fulfil his commitments.

    Not wishing to spoil the effect for those who amy come along, I'm not going to say any more just yet.  The one teaser for everyone who reads this stuff is this: go and read the Matthew genealogy of Jesus, pause at each of the women mentioned and ask yourself 'why her?'  If you were drawing up Jesus' family tree, which women (and, for that matter, men!) would you include and why.

    Despite Onan making a fleeting appearance in our Bible reading, we will not be expending any effort on the trouble he has caused throughout the ages as people have mis-read and mis-applied that particular aspect of the story!!

    Lots of red in our visual focus... can you tell why?  Intriguing the associations this colour holds in different cultures and at different times of year!