Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Year 2 - finished already....

....where did that go?

Year 2 has been an incredible year of transformation.

I can honestly say that I am not the person I was 2 years ago when my training began.

Back then, I felt very 'green' in things theological; I was a relatively new Christian, who had been on the worlds fastest and most exhausting roller coaster through Confirmation, discernment, selection and training that at times I felt my feet hadn't touched the ground.

Not much has changed in that regard; my feet still haven't really touched the ground but one thing that has changed is how I feel.

The first year of training was like being a rabbit stuck in headlights - that shock feeling of suddenly being here, still not believing I had been recommended, wondering what the hell God was doing with me ("I am definitely not the kind of person you want, Lord.")

By the end of year 1 however, things had changed in that I had had a sudden and forceful realisation of just why God had called me to ministry and by early 2015 I was starting to feel that I was 'inhabiting' the role of a minister, especially when stood in front of my home congregation. That feeling of 'filling in until the real minister comes along' left me quite abruptly one Sunday, and I suddenly stopped what I was saying and a huge grin came over my face. Needless to say the congregation were slightly confused as to why I was standing there with a stupid smile plastered all over my face, but I had just had a 'God moment'; a moment where God gently and almost unnoticably altered my perception of myself. In that split second, another light bulb had been switched on.

These 'lightbulb' moments now come thick and fast as I suddenly grasp what is being discussed, and using my own style of making sense of them, I file them away in my head for future use, bringing them out again in relevant and contextual discussion.

Developing the critical thinking that is such a vital tool in ministry, which had intimidated me for so long, is beginning to come naturally to me - I find myself thinking laterally; offering up ideas and thoughts in lectures and discussions that surprise me when I hear them coming out of my mouth - is this really me talking?

All of a sudden, I feel more serious in my role as a future priest, more focused on it, more 'in role' in my home churches, a focus as an 'almost vicar' for those around me; neighbours, friends, congregation members etc.

This green, 'hasn't got a clue' woman has been turned gradually into a critical thinking, evangelising, situation analysing Christian minister.

So now that year 2 has ended, I find myself looking forward, rather than down at my feet, in the here and now. Forward to my final year at Vicar School, the one where I'll hear of where I'll serve my Curacy, the year where with  huge gulp I'll order clergy shirts, stoles and robes, and the one where the roller coaster cranks up again and rolls down into ordination, where I get off at the stop marked, 'The Rest of your Ministry' (God willing).

Saturday, 31 May 2014

The end is nigh....

.....the end of my first year at 'Vicar School' that is.

This first year has been a time of transition, realisation, anxiety, joy, laughter and thankfulness.

Transition - Moving along on the path towards ordained ministry, into the arena of the Theological College, becoming a student (again, after 20 years) and immersing myself into the life of the place has been incredibly nerve wracking at times. "Can I do this?", "I haven't studied at this level for a really long time", "What if I can't do it?".

I'm pleased to say that I have been absolutely OK, just like some very wise friends and colleagues told me I would be. The structure of the education here is such that it takes total beginners and very gently moulds the mind, moulds the person and gives the student the tools and the support they need in just the right amounts for them to start thinking for themselves in the ways that ministry requires.

Realisation - That I can actually do this thing! Parts of me have always doubted my ability to grasp and run with really deep and thought inspiring things such as an education in Theology. I suppose I've always had an idea that high level study like this is not for me and so I have allowed myself to be intimidated by my own insecurities.

To be receiving essays back from my tutors with some incredibly good and constructive advice and feedback but with what is considered a good mark has boosted my confidence immensely and although I'd be stuck for telling you just how I feel I've grown and expanded my thoughts processes over the year,  the feeling of growth seems to be evident in my tutors feedback and essay marks. I've made sure to not allow myself to wallow in self pity if I've received a borderline pass mark but to use it to my advantage and to learn from it, and to apply what I've learned in the next pieces.

Anxiety - There is always at the back of my mind (and rightly so) the question of "How is my family doing? How are they doing when I'm not there?".

They seem to be fine and this, I believe is mostly down to the fact that we are a strong unit. Video calls over the net and "Good Morning/Good Night" phone calls are our routine now whenever I'm away for a weekend or for a week. Plus, the girls say, "Dad always says 'Yes' when you're not here!" so thankfully I'm not missed too much when I'm away! We make sure to spend good quality time together as a family when I am home and this is really important.

Other anxieties, which are a normal part of the training are obviously waiting for an essay to be returned, but also when leading worship over a weekend, planning a service, and hoping the feedback tells you you're on the right track. 

Joy - One of the things I have enjoyed most is the fellowship here at college. Even those with whom I'm not too familiar greet me like an old friend, and I them. No one is a stranger for long here. In my year group are some of the most wonderful people I have ever met and we all get on very well. There is such a diverse mix of backgrounds, traditions and cultures in my year group and nothing separates us from each other. My college, Queen's Foundation, is an Ecumenical college, training ministers from many churches, including the Church of England. I am learning so much from my Pentecostal, Salvation Army, Methodist and Independent colleagues and tutors; I truly believe that I will be all the better in my own future ministry for having experienced and learned from these people and their churches and traditions.

Laughter - I have never laughed so much! Theological College is, as you can imagine, an incredibly uplifting and joyful environment to be in and it feels that naturally, emotions and spirits will also be uplifted here. We have the inevitable clowning around in class, but there is such a strong feel of God's love permeating the very corridors and pathways, it's difficult not to be joyful and spiritually supported here.

Thankfulness - I have so many things to be thankful for. The opportunities that I have been blessed with throughout the whole discernment process (though at the time, many of them felt like millstones around my neck), the people with whom I have come into contact over this time, the experience of ministry and ministering to (and with) people in my current lay capacity, the whole 9 yards. All of it has been quite amazing and I feel so thankful that God has called me to all of this - to think I once did not want this life, tried ignoring God, running away, simply not listening to what God was trying to tell me.

All of this is not without its challenges; it is not all a bowl of peaches. Even now in training, I experience crashing lows, I question God, I rant and rage. But running through my life like a living stream is that still, small voice of God telling me that it's all being taken care of, if I remember to keep letting go and to put it all in God's hands. The word for this is Hope. 

I am very aware that I am in God's hands; all that I am, and do and be is in God's hands, from the day I stepped off that precipice, until the day I breathe my last earthly breath. 

It's a wonderful place to be.

Image from

And as my first year comes to a close, I realise that I do feel different, I do feel that I have grown and am continuing to grow. The second year will be the one where the feeling of tiredness has worn off, the confusion and dazed feeling has gone and I feel settled and ready for more, more learning and more growing.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

You can come in, but only if......

My Twitter feed has been like a wild animal this week.

With the first #EqualMarriage having taken place over the weekend, I have witnessed first (and second) hand just how divided we are in this world over the issue of Equal Marriage for gay people.

Unfortunately, divided is not quite the word I'd use to describe the extreme hatred and vitriol I've seen aimed at those who peacefully and lovingly advocate openness, dialogue and understanding of differences in sexuality.

I was, at times, ashamed to read the stories Tweeted by people who had been on the receiving end of vile language, pictures and threats, all because they had stood up for what they believed in and encouraged others to try and see that there is more than one side to our humanity. Ashamed because many of these comments were put forward by those who said they were Christians.

The one sentence that kept running through my mind was, "If we believe that God makes us all in his image, then surely God is black, God is white, God is small, tall, thin, not so thin, male, female, gay, straight, Christian, non Christian, and all of those characteristics that go to make up the many sides to our humanity"

Jesus preached love and understanding, and even if he did not understand or accept someone or their beliefs, it didn't stop him reaching out to them in love.

The second episode of Rev was aired yesterday and dealt with the same issue; how does a Church of England priest deal with being asked to perform a same sex wedding in their church? Comedy aside, it was painful and poignant to watch, especially the end scene - where Adam Smallbone, in a dream, finally gets to do what he really wants to do - to marry his two gay friends in his church in an official marriage ceremony.

Many posts I read after the programme had ended mirrored his desire; that one day those priests who accept these differences might be able to reach out, to be able to speak on behalf of the church they serve when they say, "You are equal in our eyes, come in, you are welcome."

It pains me, as it must do many priests who feel their hands are tied, to think that this day is still far off. I pray that a seed has been planted, and that it will grow and flourish so that one day we can say that all who come to us as a church, that they are as equal to us as they are to God.

Sadly, at the moment, the message seems to be, "You can come in, but only if......"

Monday, 13 January 2014

Finally getting over the 'Why me?' problem, spinny roundy chairs and assignment deadlines.

As you know, I have struggled since Day 1 with 'owning' my calling to ordained ministry. I feel like I am totally NOT the right person for such a calling.

I realised, quite by accident, last week at the Bishops house, that I am meant to be doing what I'm doing, even if I cannot fathom why.

We (Ordinands) had been invited to the Bishops house for the annual Ordinands supper, where we get to meet him and his senior staff in a relaxed setting in his house.

It was this very setting that hit me like a brick wall and enabled me to let go of the feelings of doubt and questioning.

I'll explain.

After worship, we had a lovely supper and afterwards, the Bishop gathered us all in his lounge to talk about a few things and to update us on Diocesan news etc.

The Bishop himself sat there hunkered down on his lounge floor, leaning back on his hands, besuited, purple shirted, pectoral cross dangling around his neck. It was this sight that suddenly made me feel, "THAT'S why I feel so unable to own my calling! I have put it up so high away from me on a pedestal, feeling I'm not able to touch it because it's so high and I'm so low, this chap is a Bishop and is sitting there in such an everyday, human, ordinary pose, just like I do in my lounge!" Sounds so silly, doesn't it?

I hope you understand what I mean - God calls us in our humanness, with all our faults and imperfections (and I have many) and the keyword here (for me) is 'humanness'.

There was nothing more human right then and right there than the Bishop lolling around on his lounge floor cracking jokes and having a proper giggle with us all, to help me say that "Yes, I'm human, and God has called me as an imperfect human to do His work".

I left feeling ecstatic and told my husband that I had finally reached up to that pedestal and taken my vocation down and was holding it to myself, finally being able to own it as mine.

So I have stopped asking 'Why me?' (and believe me, it's harder than you might think) and I have instead started looking at myself in all my humanness and looking around me at all the ordained people I know, and seeing them in their humanness and realising that God knows what He's doing with me, even if at times, I haven't a clue!

So I answer when He calls, I willingly carry out the tasks that He sets me and I no longer wonder why. In fact I now use the 'why me' to help keep me focused on keeping that feeling of humanness. It will only serve me well.


College is going well, I have made a pact with myself to make sure I take plenty of time to do my assignments, prepare well in advance and do my very best. I have submitted 3 assignments so far, but because I haven't had the first one back yet, I don't know if I'm on the right track with my presentation and style of writing - fingers crossed.

One silly thing that really helps me to get sat down and knuckle down to my work is my new desk (green leather topped - old - my kind of thing) and the new 'spinny roundy' chair I bought myself last week. I figured this was far preferable to a patio chair borrowed from the garden and much more suitable for my posterior when I'm sat at my desk for anything up to 6/7 hours at a time. That's if, of course, I can get Kitty off it - she wheels it over to the lounge and spins around while she watches TV whenever I'm not sat in it. I'm struggling to make both the desk and my chair 'my own' as both are regularly hijacked for homework purposes, general felt tip colouring in and of course, just being able to spin around. I like that.

I was very pleased to have made real inroads into both assignments before Christmas so that I could take a proper break and enjoy the time with my family, without feeling the anxiety of needing to get work done. This way of working, I realise is the way I'll continue, as it works for me.

College starts again tomorrow, and goes straight into a residential weekend on Friday, both of which I'm really looking forward to - getting back into my studies, college life and the much needed and loved fellowship with my new classmates and friends.


I've been speaking to friends recently about how they feel about their calling from God. Some friends in particular are just starting to begin discerning a calling and are struggling to comprehend what and why, and to see where they fit in. One friend in particular describes me as his 'Go To' person when he feels the need to talk about it.

I'm humbled by this and am very pleased that he feels I can help but I know that between us is God, putting us together in conversation so that, by relaying to him my experiences of the last 3/4 years, he can see the similarities and the differences and begin working out where he fits into the whole ministry thing.

For him and for all those struggling with understanding a call, I offer this prayer, which was said at the Bishops supper during worship and which also helped me to 'Let go and let God'.

I hope it helps you to let go and let God take over, to be able to put yourself firmly in His hands and to trust that He will look after you, He will take very good care of you and that He will never fail you:

Renewal of the Covenant

I am no longer my own but yours;
Put me to what you will
rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing,
put me to suffering,
let me be employed for you
or laid aside for you,
exalted for you
or brought low for you;
let me be full,
let me be empty,
let me have all things,
let me have nothing;
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours.
So be it.
And the covenant now made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Theological college is great.........

....but I feel a bit out of my depth...

Academically speaking, of course.

Part of my discernment process over the last two years or so has been identifying the type of person I am. Quite often, during that process, I felt a complete and utter failure with no chance of ever being accepted for ordination training, simply because I was and am not a big words and jargon kind of girl (as you may have guessed by now) and I had trouble articulating both myself and my vocation.

In the simplest terms - I recognised that I am a doer, not a thinker - I am practical, rather than academic, and I felt that somehow, this was not a good enough reason to be recommended for ordained ministry.

Maybe NOW you understand the reason for this post title!

Getting to grips with the fact that I HAD to be able to develop myself in academic terms was not easy but I don't think I'll ever be a boffin, I'm not that clever!

So arriving at Theological College - Queen's Foundation in Edgbaston, Birmingham - I felt like the proverbial rabbit caught in headlights. In fact, we all did to some degree, from what I gathered through conversations with my follow students.

The Induction weekend was fab, I really enjoyed finally being at college, being able to call myself an Ordinand (at last!) and feeling the high of beginning my training for ministry and now, a couple of months in, I'm starting to settle nicely into the pattern of weekday evenings and residential weekends and I'm really enjoying my studies.

My tutors are a great bunch of really dedicated people, and my college is diverse, ecumenical, warm and friendly. I've made some great new friends and I believe these relationships will last long after our training is over and we're let loose into the world of ministry.

The course I am studying is a B.A. in Theology.

And this is where the worry and self-doubt comes in again (will I ever change?!) - if it were a case of me training in a practical sense, I think I'd be fine; confident and successful. But because I'm not too academically minded, I'm hoping I'll be able to cope with study at such a high level.

I'm sure I'll be fine. My tutors are very supportive and they recognise the fact that we're all very different in our approach to study and while they know that many of us haven't worked at this level for a long time, if at all, they're ready and waiting to help us get through, whenever we feel we might be struggling.

So my first assignment deadline looms large - I'm working hard at home, researching and building what I hope will be a decent first essay.

What IS good to know though, and this is something that is at the forefront of my mind every single day, is that God will get me there because it's what He has planned for me. There was a time I thought the very same thing about my whole discernment process - i.e. that I wouldn't make it through, and I wouldn't be accepted for Ordination training.

God didn't let me down then - and I know that He won't now. I'm really thankful for that. But let there be no doubt - I am LOVING college, and training for ministry. It's that unshakeable certainty behind the knowledge that I am in the place I am meant to be, doing what I am meant to be doing, training for a life that I'm meant to live - and with that knowledge and the knowledge that God holds me in His hands through all of this, comes a great deal of comfort.

Here's a prayer we used in church last Sunday, and it's one that really spoke to me, I hope it speaks to you also:

Good morning.  I am God.  

Today I will be handling all of your problems.

Please remember that I do not need your help.  

If the devil happens to deliver a situation to you that you cannot handle, do not attempt to resolve it.  

Kindly put it in the SFJTD (something for Jesus to do) box.  It will be addressed in MY TIME, not yours.

Once the matter is placed into the box, do not hold on to it or remove it.  

Holding on or removal will delay the resolution of your problem.

If it is a situation that you think you are capable of handling, please consult me in prayer to be sure that it is the proper resolution.

Because I do not sleep nor do I slumber, there is no need for you to lose any sleep.  

Rest my child.  

If you need to contact me, I am only a prayer away.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

It's a long 4 months.....

....waiting to begin training.

Since being accepted for ordination training in May, I wondered how I'd feel in the quiet 4 months between that and starting college in September.

I've been surprisingly frustrated, believe it or not!

When you consider that for the last 2 years, I've lived, slept, breathed, eaten and drank my vocation, speaking about it, reflecting on it, talking and writing about it and desperately trying to make sense of it so that I can convincingly articulate it to others, this 4 month lull is, for me, quite hard.

It's like a huge comedown from a euphoric high that lasted 2 years - a 4 month comedown. I don't know whether you can understand what I mean, but I hope you can.

In this time I've also done a lot of thinking and I'm still completely incredulous as to the fact that I am  a future Rev. - silly really I guess! I reckon I'll start feeling like one when I begin my formational training.

I'm SO ready for that, I can hardly wait. I get random moments, when I'm right in the middle of something, of  "Oh my goodness! I'm going to be a vicar!" and with that comes a huge surge of butterflies and I get all excited and incredulous again!

I think it's because of this feeling of disbelief, both that I have been called to the priesthood and in my own belief in myself and my abilities, that I really can't wait to begin my training, to embark on that essential personal and spiritual formation of the priestly person.

Maybe when I finally get to college, I will really start to believe it's happening to ME.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Skipping through the last door.......

......with a 'Recommendation' for training!

So I very nervously attended my BAP in Ely. What a beautiful place, and with the Cathedral a stone's throw from the retreat house, there was space and time for prayer and reflection.

I had worked myself up into a real state of anxiety, dreading my BAP but I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

I was with 15 of the most wonderful people I have ever met. We upheld each other throughout it all, cared for each other and patted shoulders and backs whenever needed. It was a privilege to be with them and I hope I meet them again in my ministerial life. It was a profound experience for us all, and we reluctantly left each other with hugs and prayers on the final day.

The week in between coming home and receiving the call from the DDO was as taut as it's said to be. I constantly berated myself for things I said, things I didn't say and things I ought to have said. Despite feeling I had given a good account of myself and some good responses in my interviews, I still dared not to hope for a thumbs up.

The text message came through the following Thursday, congratulating me on being recommended and I yelled at the top of my voice, burst into tears and ran out of the room! My daughters thought something awful had happened - but on seeing the message they too cried and we all hugged each other with joy.

A huge dose of humility came with that text message - huge. The feelings of knowing where I had been going on my journey but not daring to hope that I'd make it; the feelings of doubt I had had in 'owning' my vocation, the feeling of being so humbled and overwhelmed by it, and so undeserving  - had left me in trouble at times; unable to articulate how I was feeling, which would not be a good thing, especially at BAP when you have to be able to do just that.

5 days later, I still feel that it hasn't sunk in yet - it doesn't feel real that I have become an Ordinand in the Church of England, that I will begin ordination training in September, and that, God willing, I am the future Rev. Elaine Wykes. My girls think it's ace, my husband thinks it's ace, everyone I have told think it's ace!

I pray to God that I will be worthy of His calling and that I will serve Him to the best of my ability for the rest of my life.

I haven't come back down to earth yet, and there's currently a flurry of paperwork to be completed, college to contact and accept my place and general ministry details to be sorted out, but whan that's done, I'll be spending some QT with God and going over the last 2/3 years with Him and thanking Him for making me who I am, what I am and what I will be.

Thank you, reader, for having accompanied me on my journey over the last 2 years. I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have. It's not been easy but it has been right.

So I'll nip in now and again and keep you updated on my progress in training.

I hope I have helped even one person to make sense of their journey towards ordination - I know I have helped Mike - Baildon Candidate - who commented on my last post. I pray for his path to become clear and for God's will for him to be realised - whatever that may be.

God bless you all and thank you for being there for me - it means more to me than you can ever know.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

The Last Door......

It's now February and it's getting very close to my BAP now.

I have been given my date - 22-24 April and I go to Ely.

I really enjoyed my visit to Queen's in Birmingham, I loved the family feel of the place, as many families live and study there, also the ecumenical approach to training, meaning I would not only train alongside Anglican ordinands, but other denominations too.

My meeting with the Bishop went really well. He was so lovely and we had a really good chat about life, my vocation and what God is doing with me.

His report came back to me the same evening; affirming and so warm that it brought me to tears, all the lovely things he said. He also said he didn't have a single doubt that I'm being called to the Priesthood and that as a priest, I could have a 'ministry of significance'.

Therefore, he was pleased to sponsor me to go to BAP.

In November, I became a 'Cursillista'. That is, someone who has been on a Christian pilgrimage on a recognised worldwide course called 'Cursilllo'. It was held at Launde Abbey and was one of the most emotional and wonderfully strong high points of my Christian journey thus far.

The last 2 years exploring my vocation has been all about corners. I've turned so many during this time, both in my understanding of it all, and my personal development in this area. I've had some 'Eureka' moments, I've had many emotional ups and downs, highs and lows. I've cried, I've been incredulous, I've wondered, I've questioned, I've doubted, I've laughed, I've been angry and I've been ecstatic.

But one thing I am certain of, is my calling to ministry. I know why I am walking the earth in the skin that I have, with the personality and character and integrity that I possess. That is because God made me this way with this express purpose in mind.

I have stumbled in some areas, and had trouble understanding certain things but I feel now that I have a decent grasp on everything I will be tested on, although I daren't yet hope for the 'Yes' vote (I don't have the confidence that my peers in ministry have that I will be recommended for training you see, not quite anyway. I'd rather go into it with this mindset, rather than go in swaggering and brimming with confidence - not that that's me though, but you know what I mean)

So now, it's almost time to knock on the last door on this stage of my Christian journey, the door to training and beyond. Every door I have knocked on during the last 2 years on this path have opened for me, and I pray this last door will too.

I've decided to take some time out in the weeks running up to my BAP to go to Launde Abbey - the Diocesan retreat house for some days of reflection, for mental and spiritual preparation and some much needed one to one with God. It'll be precious time indeed and I'm really looking forward to it.

One final thought - and this means so much to me. It speaks about how deeply and intimately God knows us and that no matter where we go or what we do, He is always with us. Even if we try to escape him.

Psalm 139

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
 You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
 You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
 Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
 You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.
 Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.
 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand
    when I awake, I am still with you.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Tempus Fugit....

Time does indeed fly....almost 2 years of exploration of my calling and vocation, and I'm nearly at the end of this process and ready to move on to the next stage - having my vocation tested at the BAP.

Since my last post, I've been rather busy putting together my side of the paperwork that'll be needed for my DDO to put together the BAP sponsoring papers.

With that and starting a new course, Living in Faith, I find myself rather busy at the moment.

Living in Faith is a diocesan course, open to anyone, which allows students to dig even deeper into more specific areas of our Christian faith; Biblical Hermeneutics (critical textual analysis of the Bible) Apologetics and Theological Reflection are just some of the modules we'll be covering.

It's really deep! Well, for me it is anyway....but I know that it's really good practise to get into; developing good study habits, for if and when I begin ordination training.

I've been told that the date for my BAP will be around Easter 2013, so late April/early May.

So what's next is preparing the presentation that I'll give at BAP and also meeting with the Bishop in December, to seek his approval to attend BAP.

Today I'm off to visit my prospective Theological college - Queen's Foundation in Edgbaston - for their open day. I'm looking forward to it and also seeing where I might be studying and experiencing a bit of the student life.

This is the way things are done apparently; before they even know whether or not they'll be selected for training, candidates get sent to their new colleges for a look around - I reckon it's a bit like putting the cart before the horse, but that's just me.

And if I am selected for training, I'll be changing my name. At the moment, I'm known as a 'candidate'. If I'm selected, I'll become an 'ordinand'.

Posh eh?!!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Clarity and Growth....

I know exactly where I am going....

I suppose I've known it all along really but haven't had the courage to say it until now.

I won't bore you with it again, you know what I'm up to and where I'm headed.

Silly as it may sound, I think about it every day; I live and breathe my call, it never leaves me, and it's on my mind every minute of every day. It's woven into the very fabric that is me.

He's clever is God. Very clever indeed. He waited and waited. He watched and waited and when He decided I was ready, he pounced.

They say if God wants you for something, He gets you in the end, no matter how much you fight against it.

And I haven't really fought against it.

I did. In the beginning. But not now.

So there's the clarity. I know where I'm going.

Growth? You wouldn't believe how much I've grown. Grown into my faith, grown into my learning, grown into my role of a church leader, grown into the acceptance of not, 'Who me?' but now 'Yes, He does mean me'. And I still have much more growing to do.

I had a very pleasant lunch with a new Curate last week. We compared our callings and our journeys and we laughed at how similar they were/are. We laughed loads actually, because we could have been one and the same person experiencing the same journey and call. That gave me real hope and confidence.

I'm due to go to BAP sometime early in the new year, only a few months away. And for the first time in the last 2 years of my journey of discernment, I actually feel that I might stand a good chance of being accepted to training (should I dare to say this just yet?) So everybody tells me anyway. I never thought I'd feel ready or even remotely confident.

I pray for the advisors at my BAP to be open to understanding God's will for me and all the candidates.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Getting there on the "Why me?" and other things....

In the last few weeks and months, I have had some soul searching to do.

The problem I have had, as I mentioned before is the "Why me?" issue. When all around me I look and see so many people who would be so much more suited to the life of a Priest, I look at myself and think, "Why would God want ME? I'm so ordinary. I'm imperfect, I shout at my children, I think bad thoughts sometimes, why someone like me?"

But then, as my lovely husband points out, Jesus was an ordinary human himself. A simple man who dined with sinners, walked everywhere, argued with Priests and who died so that we wouldn't have to take the blame. How much more ordinary can you get?

Coupled with the fact that even clergy with whom I come into regular contact and work alongside tell me that they don't doubt my vocation is to the Priesthood, I'm actually getting there with the acceptance, I know full well where I am going and what I am moving towards, but it isn't easy to come to terms with, I can tell you.

If you asked me if in a practical sense I could 'do' Priest, 'be' Priest and live the life of a Priest, I wouldn't hesitate to say yes. I know I posess the qualities of a Priest and willingness to lead and be led by God in everything I do. Growing into the acceptance that God is leading me to fulfilling what I believe is his plan for me - to become a Priest, has not been easy.

So, I recently gave myself a stern talking to, told myself to get over it, and to have the courage and the conviction to now say "Yes, God DOES mean me".

My latest meeting with the DDO went quite well I think, moving away from the difficulties I have had in articulating my vocation and onto other areas of the criteria which I will be tested on at my BAP, I'm feeling a bit more confident than I have before. Every day I learn something that clicks in my mind and gives me good, firm understanding of one of the many areas I will be tested on.

Thankfully I am finding people in the diocese who are able and very willing to help me on my journey, those who are happy to give of their time and sit and talk with me, share some information, opinions and ideas, all with a view to helping me gain real insight and understanding of the life I am (hopefully, please God) about to embark upon.

BAP dates of sometime before Christmas have been mentioned. 6 months ago I would have recoiled in horror at the thought of this, but I'm feeling a bit more confident as time goes on.

All I know is this: God has called me for something, I had no idea what but I told God I would put myself firmly in his hands and trust him to lead me wherever it was he wanted me to be. I've not questioned, fought against or argued with him about where I'm going, I have followed willingly and faithfully and I believe he is leading me to the life of a Priest.

I pray for God's continued guidance and leadership, and when it comes to it, a successful BAP.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Still wondering why me?

It's been a while since I've posted and in that time I have settled in quite nicely to the practical side of ministry; assisting the priest during services, devising exciting childrens services, being let loose and taking services unsupervised and all the other things that practical ministry entails.

As far as my spiritual life is developing I know I need to find times to let God in, to spend quality time reading scripture and developing a regular prayer life and allowing them to weave into my everyday life so that the two exist happily together in the same body, and I'm enjoying making this transition. I still go up to my beloved Mount St Bernards Abbey as often as I can (I'm becoming a bit of a Friday regular there nowadays, taking my Bible and my prayers and thoughts, hopes and fears and presenting myself to God so we can be together and talk for an hour or so) it's such precious time and I wish I could step back and do it more often, as when I leave I love the sense of peace that washes over me and the feeling that I have God within me and all around me. Still, I say my night prayer almost every night, and offer up impromptu prayers throughout the day as I feel the need, although really developing regular prayer time is something I'm enjoying making room for in my life. I have a Quiet Day booked at Launde Abbey in July and I'm really ready for this. I loved the last one I went on and am really looking forward to taking time out from the rat race and spending a day in complete silence in the presence of God.

Following my last meeting with the DDO, I have had my head in the books, just really getting to know the ins and outs of my Christian faith, finding out things I need to know and getting a good grasp on who I am and what I am in regards to my faith and what it means to me.

I decided to put my BAP back until Spring 2013 because I still don't feel, even 16 months into my exploration and discerning my calling, that I could confidently attend an Autumn BAP but then again, I am not feeling that I could EVER confidently attend a BAP! I'm sure I'm not alone in this though and other candidates will no doubt be feeling the same way.

I try to find other peoples experiences of their journeys and BAPs on the net and sometimes I'll find a great blog that someone has written that fills me with confidence (even if only for a short while) and then I read others that fill me with dread (I've decided I'm going to stop reading!) especially when I hear about candidates who have attended a BAP with years and years of discerning and preparation under their belts, who are not recommended.

So at my next meeting with the DDO tomorrow, I have been told I will be undergoing a mock interview on the first 2 criteria. I have read and re-read, swotted and read some more and think I have a pretty good grasp on things as long as I can articulate myself well enough. I tend to go into these sort of things a bag of nerves and lose all ability to think coherently, or even speak properly and it's this that is bothering me. 

I can know everything I need to know, have learnt as much as I can, have pre-formed responses in my mind to all the types of random questions I will have been tested on beforehand, but I'll still make a huge fool of myself when it comes to the real thing and I'll sit there like a blithering idiot, mumbling silly answers whilst the great responses are screaming in my head to be let out! 

I'm praying tomorrows meeting will be OK, that I'll find the words I need to find and say the right things and leave with a sense that I might just be OK after all......but we'll see.

Friday, 13 April 2012

8 weeks gone in a flash....

.....and the sheep returns to the fold.

So my placement at All Saints finished on Easter morning. It was a fabulous service and very well attended (despite the early start), solemn at first but it soon turned to much noise making, singing and shouting and I'm sure "Alleluia!!!" could be heard from miles away that day!

I am, of course, quite sad to have left, but I leave with such confidence and determination to build on what I have experienced. I'm also sad to have left the lovely people there, I have really made some strong pastoral connections with members of the congregation and people who work there, that I feel like I am part of the church family here. I will be back, I won't be able to keep away!

From there I went directly up to Breedon, where I was welcomed back like a long lost friend. It was truly wonderful how warm the greetings were, hugs all round and much happiness on my part and, it seemed, on theirs!

I found myself feeling 'different' though. In quite what way I cannot describe but I put it down to the new found ministerial skills I have gained, the new found confidence to lead services and the realisation that this really, REALLY now feels like my place in life.

I know I have said this before but this feeling that I am showing God's love through my love for people is such a strong one, and I am so convinced that this is the right path for me, it's a very humbling feeling. Bringing people to God and Jesus Christ through the way I deal with them, interact with them, care for them and love them is my mission from God himself, I truly believe this.

The next step to look forward to is meeting with the Bishop, as I progress on my journey, and then later in the Autumn, my selection conference (where nerves will abound) but in the meantime - busy, busy, busy!

And I couldn't be happier.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

If it didn't feel so right.......

.....why would I be excited at the prospect of getting up at 4 a.m. on Easter Day and heading off to the first of the 3 churches I will be leading services in that day?

Discussing this with my husband this morning, I was explaining how things will work out on Easter Day between us as a family, and I mentioned that I will be up at 4 a.m., heading off to my placement church to deacon at the 6 a.m. vigil, then off to Breedon church to preach and serve at the 9.45 a.m. service, and afterwards off to another church in the group to preach and serve at their 11.15 a.m. service.

And the thing I noticed was that I got a huge burst of butterflies while I was discussing it.

I am HUGELY excited at the prospect of all this and feel that I definitely now consider myself a church leader, lay preacher, lay deacon, whatever you'd care to call me. I'm feeling rather snazzy too in my beautiful alb, guarding it fiercely against smudges and dirty marks (I'm sure I'll be chucking it around any old how in years to come though)

Week 4 of my 8 week placement has come and gone and I've learned so much. I've made the odd mistake too, but I've done so many more things right and well that the mistakes are no problem, all part of the learning curve.

The most striking thing for me during all of this, is that this role, this servants role that I find myself in, is an extremely humbling one and one that makes me feel totally and utterly insignificant in the big scheme of things. It's an honour and a privilege to be serving people in this way and it feels like my natural place in life. I hope you can understand what I mean by this.

And after my placement and Easter are over, I think I'll be ready for a couple of Sundays off.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Sink or Swim, Madam?

You know that feeling you get when you're chucked in at the deep end and you know it's a case of sink or swim?

I'm pleased to say I swam!

And judging by the encouraging remarks from the vicar, I swam rather well.

Week 1 of my 8 week placement at the parish church of Loughborough, All Saints with Holy Trinity began in earnest yesterday.

A quiet 9.00am Holy Communion service started the day, my duties included reading the Gospel and serving Communion.

Performing these duties regularly in my own church gives me the confidence to go to another church (whose ways and customs differ) and fit in with their own style of worship. Nods and gestures from the vicar guided me along the way and by the end of the service I felt comfortable and confident.

A baptism followed and the church packed out quite considerably. I assisted the vicar during the baptism and in the evening at Parish Communion, took on (with short notice) the role of an absent leader, when I was originally only to observe (more notches on the church leadership belt!)

I came home with a sense of real fulfilment and joy. It was a long and busy day which I enjoyed immensely. I feel I managed quite well, I didn't get flummoxed and I feel that my work was fairly free flowing and competent.

Week 2 will include introducing the confession, reading the Creed and in the evening, preaching.

Daunting as this might seem in a new, and much bigger church with higher congregational numbers, I'm looking forward to it here. I feel very blessed to have the confidence to stand up in front of a packed church, step up to the pulpit and preach. Any nerves I might feel always seem to disappear just at the right moment whenever I do preach. God has blessed me with this gift of communication for a reason, and that is, I believe, to bring God to the people and the people to God.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Looking forward to my placement.

The agenda for my church placement reads like a bit like a shopping list, and I suppose it is in a way - the shopping list of the duties of an ordinand, which I hope to be by the end of this year (an ordinand is someone who is undergoing formal ministry & theology training) as what I am going through right now is my informal training.

Of course there is no guarantee that a candidate for ordination will be recommended for formal training when they have completed their BAP (Bishop's Advisory Panel) but at the very least one can go into this sort of thing with good, solid informal training under their belt (which I am currently undergoing), a good backgrounding in Theology (as I am doing with my JiF and St John's college courses), the necessary people skills, personal strength and character required of a minister (which I believe I possess) and of course, Gods good grace and blessings (which I also believe I have).

After that, it's up to the bishop's advisors to decide if I have 'the right stuff'.

So what was originally a placement during February and March has now also turned into February, March & April, by request, as I'd really like to get some ministry experience around Easter time in, especially as this church holds many diverse services around this time of the year that other churches don't, including weekday services and I think this will be extremely good for me.

So on 19th February, I begin.

A new chapter in my lay ministry is beginning, and I'm ready, willing and hopefully able!

Sunday, 29 January 2012

2nd time around Preaching, my first address wearing my new vestment - Cassock Alb.

I'm so glad I was wearing a big heavy woollen robe this morning, it was -2c and the church heating had broken in the frost!

Any nerves I'd been feeling disappeared the minute I stepped up to speak and I really, really enjoyed delivering my address (again!). It has definitely given me the confidence I need to go now to my placement church and experience a different style of worship.

By the end of my 6 weeks there I will no doubt have gained some extremely useful experience and skills to help me move forward on my journey.

The mental shift into the role that I hope to fulfil is beginning, and I'm very excited by this and extremely thankful for God's guidance at every step. I'm very glad I listened and heard His call and took the leap of faith when I took His hand and asked Him to show me what He had planned for me.

So far I have experienced only joy and fulfilment and my life has taken on a new and amazing dimension that is better than anything in the world.

Life is so much brighter, richer, happier and worthwhile with our Lord and Christ in it.

God bless us every one!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The Power of Prayer

In the last few months, as friends, family and aquaintances become more aware of the journey I am on and as I myself become more 'Godly' in my outlook and attitude (if you understand what I mean by this), I am finding myself increasingly consulted in matters of morality, the giving of advice and quite often, I'm asked to pray for someone.

Now I don't know if this is because of the fact that I have offered myself up for ordination and have a life deeply grounded in Christ, or even because maybe I, to them, have changed in such a way that I display more of the virtues of a priestly person than I did before, but this is what's happening.

I don't hesitate of course, I gladly agree to pray for that someone or that situation; I remember them in my Night Prayers and have them mentioned in church during Intercessions. I also have them on my mind at times of impromptu praying, whenever the need to pray comes upon me.

Which makes me ask the question: Even if you are not a churchgoer, have no real faith in Christ, or are simply not interested - Does the knowledge that someone is praying for you give you a feeling of well-being and some measure of inner peace? Does it enable you to go about your daily life safe in the knowledge that someone spiritually 'has your back'?

It's an extremely important thing, having the responsibility for someone's spiritual well-being in your hands. How you treat that well-being and what you do with it are of tantamount importance and should not be taken lightly. It is a God given gift to be able to pray for someone, a precious task to be handled with delicacy, care and loving attention at all times.

So I ask you this - and I don't mean for you to necessarily think of me as that person, just because you know me but "Does having someone pray for you help you to cope with a difficult situation?"

I'm inviting you to please add your comments below, I'm very interested to know how this question makes you feel.

I'd also like to know if you would be interested in 'Prayer Requests' whereby you give me the name(s) of people who are going through difficulties that you would like me to pray for, or even if you yourself need the occasional prayer to help and guide you.

Bit of a different post this one, as you've probably gathered but please work with me on this, it should take just a few seconds of your time.

God Bless.


(And funnily enough, just as I finish typing this, another prayer request is received)

Sunday, 8 January 2012

I now work 6 days a week......

....including Sundays.

Since I gave my first address, sermon, or whatever you'd like to call it, the pace has picked up in my church life and I'm now looking forward to starting my new placement, which will begin soon, where I'll be gaining some more diverse hands-on experience of church and ministerial work.

Loughborough is a very big town in comparison to some, and although there are many churches here, All Saints with Holy Trinity is seen as the parish church of Loughborough. It's very beautiful and has many historical features dating back hundreds of years. It was built in around 1330, in Norman and Saxon times, with later additions to the building dating  back to around the 14th and 15th century.

I met with the vicar of All Saints last week to discuss my going on a work placement there during the Spring. This will involve more of the work I'm already doing at Breedon, but on a more intensive scale. Being town based, the church is open for services almost every day; Morning and Evening prayer, midweek Communion services, Midday prayer and more.

Initially for approximately 6 weeks, my placement will involve observation, participation in leading services, serving, leading intercessions and reading. I will also be sitting in on pastoral visiting and vestry time with baptism families and wedding couples.

I feel a little nervous about this but know that as with Breedon, at first it IS nerve wracking but once I've done these things a few times, I'll be fine. I remember vividly the first time John asked me to lead Intercessions, I had very little idea of what this entailed and shook with nerves as I stood up to read.

The next thing to become nervous about is that during certain services, such as Communion, I will be wearing robes. A small thing you may think but huge for me!

I'm really, really looking forward to all of this and again, it is all great experience for me to take to my BAP towards the end of the year.

My Journey in Faith (JiF) course begins again next week, after a break for Christmas and the first thing on the agenda is to hand in our assignments.  They are optional for those who seek to simply gain more knowledge of the church by taking this course, but compulsory for those who intend to go onto more formal ministry training. That's me. I hope.

Of the 5 assignments on offer, I was apparently the only one who decided to do the Theological Reflection (TR) assignment.

It sounds very grand and I suppose it is, but in touching on TR during one of our sessions recently, I found that not only did I 'get' the process and understand how it works, but I really enjoyed learning about it. TR is a recognised discipline which is designed to help to diagnose the causes and reasons for an experience that an individual or a group has, and using the TR method along with prayer, the power of the Holy Spirit and God's presence and influence on the proceedings, to analyse and discuss it in depth and to come to a decision as to what action to take in response to the experience. It is also commonly known as the Pastoral Cycle.

2000 words (2200 max) went by in a flash and I did have to do a certain amount of trimming of words to get it down to the permitted amount. I'm pleased with it, I believe I've done what has been asked and am looking forward to the result and any comments and help from the adjudicators when it's handed back.

In November and December I 'worked' 5 Sundays out of 8 and was mentally very tired by Christmas. I'm on Breedon's rota to do much the same in January and February before beginning at All Saints. I don't feel at all like I'm doing too much but I must take care not to overdo it. 

Which reminds me, I MUST make an appointment to go and see my Spiritual Advisor and have a good chat with her about everything that's going on.

I might also try and squeeze in another one of those wonderful 'Quiet Days' at Launde Abbey soon, I know I'm going to need one!  

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Could they hear my heart pounding?

....if they could, no-one said.

It went SO well!

Every word of my first sermon just seemed to flow, no fluffed lines, no mistakes and it seemed to be really well received.

I stepped up to the lectern and could swear my heart was banging away so loudly that it could be heard at the back of the church.

One small hiccup of emotion about a third of the way through (after all this was a HUGE undertaking for me) but I gave myself a mental kick and carried on.

And the feedback was so great! It was lovely when people came up to me and said how much they'd enjoyed it. Even the baptism parents thanked me at the end (Thanking me? It's usually the vicar who's thanked, not little old me. THAT felt great!)

So I got home all hyped up, super excited and raring to go again, but now it's time to calm down and look forward to the next few weeks worth of duties in the run up to Christmas.

(But I'm still like a kid in a sweet shop, woopee!)

Monday, 21 November 2011

A full house you say?

I really WILL be needing God's help then!

I visited John the other day to go over my duties for the next few weeks, including the Christmas schedule and this coming Sunday's service where I'll be let loose on the congregation for the first time preaching.

We were talking about my sermon and how it's developing and John then mentioned something in passing that I almost missed.

"What was that you said John? Sorry I missed that..."

"Yes, I was just saying that we have a baptism on Sunday aswell, so that'll be nice"

"BAPTISM???? You mean that I'll be preaching to a full house, like 60 odd people?"

"Yes, but I'm sure you'll be fine"

Oh Lord in Heaven above, please help me!

So I've gone from fairly confident that I'll say the right thing in the right way to a bag of nerves, terrified I'll make a huge slip up and end up sounding like a blathering idiot.

Put the right words in my mouth please Lord!

Monday, 31 October 2011

Watch out, preacher in training on the loose!

Will my nerves get the better of me?

So yesterday was our All Saints eve service, and also Molly's first communion in our own church. It was lovely - she was beaming, I was beaming, the vicar was beaming! Bless her.

It was also a lovely occasion because not only did we dedicate the new flags which have been donated to the church (a Union flag and a St George's cross flag) but my husband and the Warden's husband got to go up on the roof and raise the Union flag.

It really was lovely to see it flying from the flagpole, he was really proud to have got up there, although it was a tight squeeze up the tower, and you can imagine how windy it would have been on the roof of a church positioned right on the top of a hill - cracking views though by all accounts.

I've got a few things to look forward to in the next couple of months. Firstly a home visit from the DDO, to meet the family and have a chat about my journey and what they think of it all.

Then on 27th November my first experience of preaching. If it is what I think it is, leading the service from the service book, it shouldn't be too daunting as it's all laid out for me, but it still doesn't stop me being nervous!

I've also been asked to be server at another church the following month, lead intercessions on Christmas Day and preach again in January - PHEW!!

How do I feel?

I'm very excited and I hope the congregation will forgive me if I fluff my lines!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

One more added to the growing number....! we proudly watched our daughter confirmed in the faith.

There's not much spectacular to report for me really, I'm busily plodding on with my college and JiF courses, although frustratingly, I've not been able to devote as much time as I would like to my work lately. Namely, half term and family matters taking my up my study time, but back on track this week with the girls back at school etc and I'm looking forward to getting my teeth back into my work.

What I AM excited about is that on Sunday 23rd October 2011 our eldest daughter Molly was confirmed in our faith by the captivating Bishop Of Leicester, Tim Stevens.

She was one of 15 candidates that lovely evening at St John the Baptist church in Whitwick, she looked gorgeous in her new dress and her smile could have lit the church up on its own, it was that huge! It was an extremely upbeat, lively and happy service, I sang my heart out (although I'm a terrible singer) and the whole family, members of our church family and even her teacher was there to support her.

Now Molly has always been my little sidekick when it comes to attending church. Even if my husband and other daughter don't feel like coming that day (they very rarely DO miss a service however) then I know I can rely on her to join me. She never needs to be coerced into coming along, she's always a willing partner!

The thing with Molly is that she feels exactly the same way that I do when I go to church, she once described the feeling as going from an empty stomach to a full one, as if going to church and being with God and worshipping Jesus Christ satiates her appetite. What a great way to describe this feeling! I 'get' that completely. She has been almost ready for quite some time for confirmation, but myself and my husband and John, our vicar wanted to make sure she was 100% ready to make her own promises and to understand completely the significance of confirmation.

So with a tear in my eye, I proudly watched as my first born took on for herself the Baptism promises made on her behalf as a baby by her Godparents. She made a promise before God, the bishop and the whole congregation that she would continue her life in Christ until the end of her days. I could barely see through my tears as she knelt in front of the bishop and he laid hands on her head, asking God to confirm her as one of His own.

She took her first Communion bread and wine and at the end of the service made her way over to us, beaming from ear to ear. It took her a long time to come down to Earth and get to sleep I tell you!

A day such as that will be very hard indeed to beat........

Thursday, 29 September 2011

I'm thinking positively....

....but I daren't breathe all the way out just yet.

Meeting number 3 with the DDO yesterday. This time my incumbent John came with me.

I was kind of wondering why he had been asked to attend, curiosity killed the cat and all that, but it was soon made clear.

The DDO told me she was very pleased with the amount of work I have been doing, and pleased with my motivation and willingness to take on the tasks I have been set.

I must just say at this point that I'm not doing all this work because I feel I have to, I'm doing it all because I want to, and I'm very happy to. But I guess you already knew that!

I am enjoying my college course, 'Church & Ministry' from St John's in Nottingham which I am working hard on and yesterday I started my JiF (Journey in Faith) course over at St Martins House in Leicester, next door to the Cathedral. This is a year long course which is designed to give me the good solid theological backgrounding I'll need as I go about preparing for my BAP which will probably be around this time next year.

In the new year, I will be put on placement in a local church in order to gain ministerial experience, and I'm looking forward to this, you know, getting my teeth into preaching and ministry. I am also going to be participating more in services in my own church.

In the meantime I have to find a Spiritual Advisor and arrange to meet with them. These advisors are specially trained to meet with and talk to ordination candidates to help guide them through the process of discernment and beyond and to listen to and advise them in their ministry. It's a bit like going to see a shrink; it's all confidential, and what is discussed never leaves the room but I am told that this whole ordination journey can be very taxing on the spirit and the mind and that these advisors are especially trained to help with this. You have to 'click' with your advisor though because they'll be your spiritual mother, father and teacher for years to come, the relationship has to be just right.

Now, to explain how I feel about all this, I hope you can understand:

I feel like I have made huge steps forward from the day I realised I was being called by God, I was a crawling baby. I now feel like a toddler. Up and walking on my feet but still a bit wobbly. Over the next year or so, I'll become stronger, more knowledgeable, understand my faith and my church more and grow theologically.
With this comes confidence. Not total confidence, but the more I meet with people whose job it is to know these things and to hear them telling me that I already meet alot of parts of the 9 criteria for selection to training, but that in some areas I need to develop more, I am filled with hope.

I had a great meeting with the DDO yesterday. John was asked to voice his feelings about whether he sees me as a suitable candidate, and he was extremely positive and encouraging when he confirmed that yes, he's very pleased with me and my progress and he thinks I would be a good example of a suitable candidate for ordination training.

I now feel like the door on my own self doubt is starting to close and the door in front of me, the door to the BAP and beyond is open and I am being invited to walk through. I have doubted myself for so long, I'm unwilling to simply say, "Oh, OK then, you reckon I'm getting there and am suitable material so I must be going to pass my BAP and get through" but I am becoming more and more confident that I will get there and go through to ordination.

It's looking good from here. I'm unbelievably excited to think that I might just make it after all.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Things are changing....

....or more to the point I am changing.

Subtle little changes that I suppose only I can notice.

Things like being so much more tolerant of life's little challenges, bad tempered children, traffic jams, broken dishes, mirrors, bad hair days etc. They are what they are, there's no point in letting these things make you angry, you can't change them, so just relax, be calm and you'll get through it.

I'm definitely calmer nowadays, more accepting and less fraught about things I cannot change.

Is this God's influence? I like to think it is - God helping me towards being the patient and accepting person I would expect to be in the role of priest.

Of course, we all know that priests are human before they are anything else and that they should be allowed to have a place and a time where they can be themselves, but have you ever seen a priest who is constantly angry, sullen and bad tempered? If you have it would be a very rare thing indeed.

So with God's gentle influence on my life I continue on my journey, learning every day, taking on new and essential habits (like my now regular prayer life), I talk to God more, and listen more too. I'm growing in confidence (as my friend Sally told me at dinner last night- so maybe the changes in me are more outwardly visible than I thought)

And no, He hasn't spoken back to me, not using audible words anyway. But He influences me in a very quiet but definite way. It's all part of His plan for me you see. If it wasn't I wouldn't be on this journey and you wouldn't be reading this.

I'm still me though. The one I've always been.....