Sunday, January 29, 2006


And so I am back at home. Glad to be back, glad to have been on a conference of life changing eternal value. Ready to sleep for a long long time. Ready to put my soul back in the hands of it's repairer and restorer. I'm too tired to reflect and remember the last week here. And maybe none of it can be put into words. God is still God, the Gospel is still true and heaven is real. That's enough for me right now, tea, good music, friends and more sleep are calling me.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

And off again...

Seemingly I have spent most of January packing or unpacking bags. Tomorrow morning I have to pack my bags once again and head off to our second Relay training conference of the year. I'm excited and scared.

I have to do part of a seminar on intimacy, sexuality and friendship. I have to talk about worth, about how to believe God's view of this world. I have to talk about intimacy and where and when it's a good thing and where and when we might take it too far. I'm scared of saying the wrong thing. Of making the issues too simple or too complex. I'm scared of putting my issues out there and realising that this is a mere cathartic exercise for me and of no use to anyone. I'm scared that my 5 loaves and two fishes won't be enough.

But I'm excited, to meet up with old friends, to play games of 'dutch blitz' and '5 songs with the them', of seeing what God is doing in the lives of these Relay Workers, to hang out and sing songs of hope in this world of darkness, to be part of team for a week, to laugh, cry and share lives with people again.

Hmm I think it might be a good thing that there is someone else in this picture, someone who is good at taking loaves and fishes and multiplying them, someone who is good at working through the weak and foolish, someone who knows the depths of my heart and who loves me the same, someone who welcomes me home and someone who has this world figured out. Trusting Him might just be the thing to do.

6 days in Ledbury await me. I guess it might be good to find out where Ledbury is.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Pictures of Knitting

This is the evidence of the knitting that happens round ours every Tuesday... Note the intense expressions of the first time knitters in the bottom photo...

Saturday morning (Diary roundup)

Big long sigh. The weekend has come. The sun is shining. The day is stretched out before me full of endless possibilities of adventure and fun. As well documented here, I love Saturday mornings and the hope of all today might offer. For a start my wonderful brother is coming to play in 3 hours time. So I have 3 hours free in which to bum around, enjoy some more of God, listen to Saturday morning music, read the paper, do some cleaning and generally laze around some more.

Saturday morning music is important, it needs to be chilled enough to help you embrace the day and cheery enough to entice you out into the day.

Top tunes for a Saturday morning are therefore:
Crazy little thing called love - Queen
Praise you- Fat Boy Slim
Mr Jones- Counting Crows
Wake up it's a beautiful morning- The Boo Radleys
I can see clearly now- Jimmy Cliff.

Last night I went to the first evening of a Book Group I have joined. We were reading "We need to talk about Kevin".

A book which searches the horrors of our hearts, questions the sense in this life and wonders if endlessly passing the search for meaning onto the next generation is really such a good plan. A book which doesn't have many answers but which explores the impossibility of simplistic explanations of the darkness in this world and our hearts. In short, perfect to chat about with some old friends and new friends over wine and food in a random Greek restaurant in London.

This week has been as mad as I thought it was going to be, but I have loved getting back into my job, chilling out with students, seeing what God is up to down here and reminding people of reality. Highlights have been; getting to talk about Narnia to Brighton CU and read out my favorite bits from the book in a jackanory type manner; beating a boy student at pool; getting asked deeply insightful loving questions by someone who cares about the answer; eating cake with my Relay boys for their birthdays; lots of coffee meetings with students; good times with mates at the end of the day knitting and discussing amazing books.

Diary moment over. These things are important to note on a sunny Saturday morning. I'm off to play.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Music moments.

Today Vanilla Ice and the classic, "Ice ice baby" started my day and enabled me to climb from my bed in the morning. The day ended with the last song on my journey home being the wonderful KLF and "Ancients of Mu Mu". What better way to top and tail ones day...

Within the day Martyn Joseph kept me company with his brilliant new album "Deep Blue",

See previous posts for beautiful quotes. I haven't listened to a song that has scratched the itch in my soul for a while but a couple of the ones on this album have. I can't quite explain the affect they have on me in any other way. Somehow the combination of aching lyrics and a deeply passionate voice do something deep within me and scratch at the itch. And a song that keeps you pressing the repeat button is always welcome.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


I watched the most ridiculous episode of Neighbours ever today. The worst acting ever. I mean. A plane crash. Really. I think they might have overreached themselves this time.
Good fun though.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

More Larry and Martyn

“God wants to change us into people who are truly noble, people who reflect an unswerving confidence in who he is, which equips us to face all of life and still remain faithful. Spirituality based on pretence is not spirituality at all. God wants us to be courageous people who are deeply bothered by the horrors of living as part of a fallen race, people who look honestly at every struggle, who feel overwhelmed by what we see, yet emerge prepared to live; scarred, still troubled, but deeply loving.”
Larry Crabb “Inside out”

"And laments have a purpose and laments have a cost
A requim playing gathers the lost
It sometimes tastes sour the sweetness of hope
When the blizzards are raging on this lovers slope
Yet I don't want to freeze inside or out
For it's you that disolves the cold walls of doubt.

So turn me tender again
Fold me into you
Turn me tender again
And mould me to new
Faith lost it's promise
And bruised me deep blue
Turn me tender again
Through union with you."
(Martyn Joseph)

The thing is...

The thing is, the darkness doesn't go. Even on the best days of dwelling in the love of God, even on my best days of not responding cynically to every expression of love that comes from my Father and others. Even on the days where I am secure in who He has made me to be and not grasping on to the gifts more than the giver. Even on the days that I win some battles. Even on the days that the sun shines in all it's splendor.
The darkness does not go.

It's not enough. Just not enough.

"Yet still this will not be.
Though all around is rage
The story getting darker with each turning of the page
Yet still this will not last.
This kingdom of the fool
Will be humbled and made low
When the broken hearted rule."
(Martyn Joseph)

“Beneath the surface of everyone’s life, especially the more mature is an ache that will not go away. It can be ignored, disguised, mislabelled, or submerged by a torrent of activity, but it will not disappear. And for good reason. We were designed to enjoy a better world than this. And until that better world comes along we will ache for what we do not already have. An aching soul is evidence not of neurosis or spiritual immaturity, but of realism… yet there is no escape from an aching soul, only denial of it. The promise of one day being with Jesus in a perfect world is the Christians only hope for complete relief. Until then we either groan or pretend that we don’t.”

“Inside out”- Larry Crabb

Monday, January 16, 2006

She's given in...

Well, the top news of the day is that the badgering has worked and Ms Bushell has chosen to hide her light no longer. Click on the campaign link at the side of the page to see further exciting news from her good self. (I like it because I get a mention, but as, apparently, this universe isn't given to revolving around me then I'd recommend it because it has merit all by itself, even if it never mentioned me again.) Now is not the time to tell you all the good things about the said author (you'd need a bucket and a very very long session here) but be assured you'll find fun, randomness and most of all reality over on her blog. So there you go. Advert over.

Small thought- does anyone else find it somewhat bizarre that the spell check on this blog doesn't recognise the word 'blog'. Hmm

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Check this out

To join the campaign to start one of my favorite people blogging check out this. Although there is something quite disturbing about the latest video.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

For the time wasters amongst you

Trying poping some Bubbles.

To ponder

I'm off for a week to our Staff conference, I have a stack of 50p's for the pool table and am surprised at the amount of positive thoughts in my brain about the week ahead. Looking forward to catching up with friends and eating lots of lovely food. Here's something to ponder before I return.

“It helps now and then to step back and take the long view the kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is Gods work, Nothing we do is complete which is another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us. No statement says all that could be said, no prayer fully expresses our faith, no confession brings perfection, no pastoral visit brings wholeness, no programme accomplishes the churches mission, no set of goals and objectives include everything, this is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces effect far beyond our capabilities. We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realising that. This enables us to do something and to do it well. It maybe incomplete but it is a beginning. A step along the way. A opportunity for the Lords grace to enter in and do the rest. We may never see the end results. But that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are the workers not the master builder. Ministers not Messiahs. We are the prophets of a future not our own. Amen.” (Oscar Romero)

Saturday, January 07, 2006

It isn't often I do this...

I don't think I've ever recommended a theologian before. This is a first for me. And I think it will be the last time. But this guy is good. I've only read a couple of articles by him but he seems to be what is missing from my world, a theologian with some common sense and a sense of humor. An excellent combination in my book. He has interesting things* to say about blogging. I like his take on the ridiculous nature of this world. Skip to the final paragraph of the link to see what I mean.

This could lead me to my thoughts on reading things we might not agree totally with, or learning to think, which in turn would lead me to the thought of why I love my brother so much. But it's still saturday, I have to cook dinner, and have fun with some friends. My rants will have to wait for a while.

*interesting things - the ideas that make me think about life. The thoughts that I might not agree with but have to think about why I don't, and maybe change my opinion on things.

Are you drenched?

My vaguely deep thought for the week is this. I've been mulling recently on the sheer total and utter importance of the Bible and how ridiculously easy it is to drift away from that. It's easy to write a sentence like that and murmur agreement. Yes yes the Bible is important. But really. It is of life saving importance. It is so stupidly easy to make up my own God, to make up a God I like, to make up a religion that fits with my lifestyle, to take the bits of God I like and leave the bits that confuse me, make me sad and angry and to drift from the reality placed before us in His word.

Coming back to the Bible blows my heart and soul away. Because it is no ordinary book, revealed in it, walking off the page, breathing through it, impaling my heart with it is the God of heaven and earth. The God of Heaven and Earth. The God of history. We don't read it to gain more bits of information about God, we don't read it to look clever in theological arguments, we don't read it so we can argue ourselves into doctrinal postitions, we don't read it to impress with how much we know, we don't read it for helpful thoughts, we don't read it because it is nice, we don't read it because it is a wise book amongst other books.

We read it because the God of the universe reveals himself through it, we read it to encounter our Creator, we read it to blow away our made up gods, we read it to get transformed, we read it to understand who we are, we read it to understand where we are going, we read it because LIFE itself is in the pages. We read it because God wants to communicate to us. Go figure why or how or anything else. But the God of the whole world wants to commuicate with us, wants us to serve without fear, wants us to walk in His ways. We are to swim in it, embrace the pages, walk through the corridors of God's dealings with his people, drench ourselves in life giving truth and let the Spirit weave the truth into our lives, actions and thoughts.

Now, I have Saturday things to do. But it's kind of weird isn't it. Do any other books have this effect on your heart? Are you drenched today?


Saturdays are my favorite days. For several wonderful reasons.

I get to lie in bed for a long long time.
Jonathan Ross is usually on Radio 2 for 3 hours of random chat and good music. (let down today by him still being on holiday)
I can do useful things like letter writing I've put off for ages and ages.
I can go to Asda with my housemate and buy food I don't need because I'm enticed by the shinny low prices.
I can listen to all my new Cds bought over the Christmas period.
I can read books and watch the West Wing.
I can pick my other housemate up from the station and give her nice food and wine to welcome her back to England.
I can enjoy a chilled evening introducing my housemates to Crash.

Long sigh of contentment.

Cd's on my play list from Christmas overspending:

We shall all be healed - The Mountain Goats.
Lifted or The story is in the soil, keep your ear to the ground- Bright Eyes
Fevers and Mirrors- Bright Eyes
The Best of the Smiths- The Smiths.
The Libertines- The Libertines
Funeral- Arcade Fire
29- Ryan Adams
I am a bird now- Anthony and the Johnsons

I love weekends.

Friday, January 06, 2006


In case you care.
This is what happened to the Wispa bar. I miss them still.
Profoundness escapes me. In fact it's overrated. Like being normal. So overrated. (ten points for the song and artist).
So for those of you wasting time here, here's one for you. Susan Kennedy has long been a hero of mine. A fact documented years ago on my door at Uni. She is a legend. She also has the dubious honour of being one of the only characters in neighbours to be able to act. A fact shown wonderfully this week. The Kennedy family were the only family to have been blessed with acting ability, watching Karl out act Izzy every time they were together was always a source of great amusement.

This latest story is just too heartbreaking. But at least it wil eventually pave the way for Susan and Karl to get back together and then the universe will be right again and we can go about as normal. Oh for that day.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


To this: Bird York. I've just seen Crash, which led me to her. Beautiful haunting voice and lyrics.

In The Deep

Thought you had all the answers
to rest your heart upon
but something happens
don't see it coming, now
you can't stop yourself
now you're out there swimming
in the deep

Life keeps tumbling you heart in circles
till you let go
till you shed your pride and you climb to heaven
and you throw yourself off
now you're out there spinning in the deep

Crash is a genius film. All based around the tagline: "You think you know who you are? You have no idea". A film that explores who we are, the death of heros, villians or any other nice cardboard cutout images of humanity. A film that leaves us in the mess of realising that we aren't anywhere near where we thought we were. A film that makes you laugh, gasp, and cry out loud. Go watch. Now.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Can a year be summed up?

Now to the real business of categorising the year just gone.
There is no real way to do this, who cares what the top ten films, songs, books etc were really. But for a flavour of my year. Here’s the top albums and books that transformed my world this year, the more observant will notice that they weren’t all produced this year, and that’s because this is all about me and my year, rather than the year itself. Are you following? Anyway. Let us begin.

Firstly let us eschew the numerical system. It serves only to get in the way of the list making, and how can I decide whether something scores higher on impact in my year than others? (I wrote that entire sentence so I could use the word eschew. I like it.)


You know it’s coming so I’ll mention it first to get the inevitable over with.
Bright Eyes- I’m wide awake it’s morning.
Gladly I now own this Cd (Christmas being good for something) and again please buy it now. Songs that tear away your insides, words that leave you reeling and a voice to twist itself around your soul. I’ve gone on about this far to much but there you go. It was the only thing on my cd player for a month. That’s got to have an effect, surely.

Patti Smith- Horses
The first time I have bought an album that I ‘ought’ to own and loved it. It’s a classic, people go on about it, artists have been influenced by her, and it’s justified. I can see why. The first record that has scared me for a long long time.

Eddi Reader- Angels and Electricity.
This year was the year of discovering Eddi Reader, thanks to a wonderful friend. She has the saddest, most tender, most lovely voice and lyrics going. What can you do with a lyric like: “Please don’t ask me to dance, the skin remembers what the heart forgets, and I might do something that I regret.” The whole album settles over you a veil of tender sadness almost to hard to bear.

Jack Johnson- Inbetween Dreams
The soundtrack to my summer. Lazy evenings around a BBQ, summer sun shinning on the sea, walking around barefoot and watching waves lap the shore. Laid back and chilled.

KT Tunstall- Eye to the Telescope
It has songs that are fun and mean nothing, which is always good if you find yourself in an intense emotional turmoil and need some release. It also has songs that express all you might want to say to yourself or a friend, ‘Heal over’ and ‘Through the Dark’ being on endless repeat for the whole of September.

And some others, Magic Numbers, Laura Veirs, The Go Team, Psalm Drummers and lots of Paul Simon.


Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places- Eugene Peterson
Another, ‘you must buy this right now’, book. Finally finished it at Christmas and still surrounded by his wisdom and the reality of the God we live with. The challenge to live the reality of what we believe and be congruent people remains.

The five people you meet in heaven- Mitch Adern
Fascinating glimpse of how we attempt to make sense of our confusing lives and the point of our existence.

We need to talk about Kevin- Lionel Shriver
A book to seriously mess with your head and make you wonder why any of us reproduce. Again big questions as to why we are here, how to answer the Big Question in our lives and whether passing that question onto the next generation is really the same as answering it.

Harry Potter and the half blood prince- JK Rowling.
Ok so it’s not the best written book in the world, by a long way. But it still shook me up and made me cry on my birthday, and I did spend the whole summer reading it to a friend.

The Search for Intimacy- Elaine Storkey
Containing the best quote- head to the end of the October archives to check it out.

Conversations with Bono- Michka Assayas
I refuse to join the endless over-earnest ‘is Bono a Christian’ debate. Read the book, discover a man under Grace and be intrigued as ever at insight into a part of someone’s life.

So there you go. Do I understand the year just gone any better? Not really, but it’s been nice to revisit the companions I had along the way. It was a year, I messed up, God remained full of mercy. I made friends, I got to know some more people, I got to know friends in a deeper way, I did my job, I got it wrong, I encouraged people, I got jealous of some people, I fed people, I learnt to knit, I joined a band, I went to Bulgaria, Estonia, the Lake District, Cornwall and Devon. In short, I lived. God lived in me and did stuff. I got to see some of it, be a part of some of it and get in the way of some of it.

And now there is a new year. A new canvas to write on. The one who walked with me last year waits here holding out his hand and calling me on. I walk with him.

And so here’s a bit of Psalm 5, my hope for the year, my prayer for my mates and me.

“But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. For surely, O LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.”

Reviewing moments?

And so it is. The new year has come. The new white pages have been scribbled on already and I’m back in the land of recordable thoughts and ideas. I really don’t want to make resolutions. They fail after the first attempt. But there is much I want to do in the next year, there are many hopes and fears that I have. Mainly they revolve around being faithful to the one who is faithful to me. This year depends on the continuation of His character as one who loves unfailingly, as one who has enough mercy to get me steadily closer to home.

The holiday was good, friends were seen, beaches were walked upon, family were hugged and sofas were sat upon. Many thoughts were thought. And now I am back in these lands of Hove wondering what is in store for us all in the new year. Whatever randomness may be expunged from this brain, whatever we face, whatever brilliant things happen, the only hope we really have is the old story. Of reality in this world. Of things that go beyond what we can see in front of our eyes.

Some old hymns that express just a little bit of that…

I cannot tell why He whom angels worship
Should set His love upon the sons of men
Or why, as shepherd, He should seek the wanderers
To bring them back, they know not how or when
But this I know, that He was born of Mary
When Bethlehem's manger was His only home
And that He lived at Nazareth and laboured
And so the Saviour, Saviour of the world is come.

I cannot tell how silently He suffered
As with His peace He graced this place of tears
Or how His heart upon the cross was broken
The crown of pain to three and thirty years
But this I know, He heals the broken-hearted
And stays our sin and calms our lurking fear
And lifts the burden from the heavy laden
For yet the Saviour, Saviour of the world is here.

Tell me the old, old story,
Of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory,
Of Jesus and His love;
Tell me the story simply,
As to a little child,
For I am weak and weary,
And helpless and defiled.

Tell me the old, old story,
Tell me the old, old story,
Tell me the old, old story,
Of Jesus and His love.

Tell me the story slowly,
That I may take it in--
That wonderful redemption,
God's remedy for sin;
Tell me the story often,
For I forget so soon,
The "early dew" of morning
Has passed away at noon.