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You Should Go

Are you free in Oxford tonight, in the Isle of Wight on Friday, in Essex on Saturday or near Harrow on Sunday? You should get yourself to Andrew Peterson‘s concert with Eric Peters. They are both American singer songwriters who tell the gospel story powerfully in song. You might remember Andrew Peterson from this blog before – he’s the author of the much loved Matthew’s Begats. He and his friend Eric sing of God’s grace and goodness in creation, in tough times, in the Lord Jesus. We heard them in Birmingham last night and enjoyed it very much and came home laden with new music to listen to.

Andrew sang this song which includes the lines:

I thought that all my struggles

Would be victories by now

But I confess

That the mess is there.

Just the song for me!

And Eric sang this:

So, my recommendation is that if you’re available, you should go. Really. Details of the concerts can be found on Andrew’s website – scroll to the bottom of the page to find the links.

February Friends

A lovely lady came back to our house after church today with her kids. They’ve been coming along for a few weeks – we’ve known them longer – and the kids wanted to play with the Engineer so they all piled back for a bit before lunch. We’re planning the whole family to join us for a meal in a couple of weeks so that her husband can join us too. It was great to chat with her and get to know her better and before she left I asked her for her mobile number, so I could send her reminders about the activities for the kids over half term (Dreamer organises some brilliant informal drop in sessions in the afternoons most holidays now).

I’ve never properly asked her name I don’t think, but I have been calling her one thing. Just to check, I asked her how to spell it, and she gave me a different name. A lovely name, but unusual. She told me she often calls herself something else (that I’d been calling her) when she meets new people because it was more familiar to them. This made me sad – that she’d felt the need to change her name. She also said that she prefers her real name, so I’ll be using that from now on.

If we’d not had that longer time today I’d not have known her real name. A quick five minutes after church doesn’t allow us to really get to know one another. To know each other by name. We need time to get to know one another. The challenge in a busy world is to make and take that time. So that we can begin to know one another as the Lord knows his people:

But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.

Isaiah 43:1

Flying in February

We’ve had some builders doing some work on the Vicarage this week. Because they couldn’t actually fly, they had scaffolding put up the side of the house so they could access our roof. There’s been a damp wall in the attic since we moved in six years ago and they’ve at last got round to having a look from the outside. They found the problem – missing flashing and some poor tiling work. So they’ve been up and sealed it all up. We’re pleased it’s been sorted. And I’m even more pleased that I didn’t have to go up there myself – three storeys of Victorian ceilings make for a bit of a skycraper. Especially not in the bitter cold and sleet that came a little later on.

Heading for the sky

Heading for the sky

On my way over to the church hall to prepare for the consumption of soup and flapjack at Lunch Club Lite today, I took a couple of pics in the churchyard. One of the church looking fantastic in the chilly morning sun. The other, alas, of a random bit of flytipping. Or perhaps there’s someone who likes to sit and then practice some balancing tricks between the East end of the church and the Vicarage garden.

Thankfully, Ministry Trainee King spent the morning clearing the grounds, so the chair is no longer cluttering the churchyard. Glad that he’s in charge over there – it’s enough for me to be decluttering the Vicarage (four items gone today, mostly kids’ things that are too small).

February Food

Another day, another minor declutter. Three items today, although I had to search again for the third, as the Queen vetoed the disposal of a Snoopy bag thing that she’s had for years but never uses. Are hoarding tendencies passed down through the maternal line? My friend who is organising our declutter challenge has posted some great thoughts about why it’s a good idea, where the idea came from – and what it might make us think about.

Also today: men on the Vicarage roof, having a nose about. They weren’t burglars but builders, trying to locate the source of the damp on the attic walls. Seems that there was a bit of a bodge job around some replaced roof tiles, plus some missing flashing round the chimney. They’re back tomorrow to try and fix it and I might manage a photo. Getting on our roof is a bit of a project – three storeys of Victorian vicarage takes you quite high in the air.

And I have been cooking like a mad thing. Tomorrow is our Lunch Club Lite. We used to have a proper Lunch Club, run by a brilliant team who produced fabulous home cooked roast dinners for about forty people every month. However, the team were feeling the strain and retired after much good service. I wasn’t able to commit to the work required for such a big project but offered to cook soup and fetch rolls and fruit, and so Lunch Club Lite was born.

So I was in the church kitchen with three big pans this afternoon whilst the toddlers toddled and listened to The Gruffalo. The menu includes soups of the broccoli and blue cheese, Melrose lentil and leek and potato varieties and there are three trays of flapjack just out of the Vicarage oven. We’re looking forward to getting together with some of the church family and neighbours from the parish and chatting over a meal. And then we have the exciting prospect of the Queen’s GCSE options evening. How on earth did she get that old (and tall – taller than me now)?

Fresh for February

Bleugh. I’ve had a slow start to the year. But a friend has challenged me (and some others) to do some decluttering in this dullest of months. So a group of us are chucking stuff out. One thing on 1st February, two things today, three things tomorrow, four things the day after… all the way up to 28 items on the last day of the month. Those of you with maths heads will have quickly worked out that this will lead to me having a grand total of 406 fewer bits of toot in the Vicarage. It sounds like a lot. Well, it did to me. But then I started looking round the house with different eyes. I surveyed the contents of the bathroom cabinet (saving it for a couple of weeks’ time) and had a brief peek in the Queen’s craft cupboards. I’m already starting to think I’ll need to do the same thing all over again in March.

But for now, here’s today and yesterday’s rather meagre gatherings. I am working myself up to clearing some larger items as the month progresses, but I may spare you the more gruesome details. Please don’t worry that the essential messiness of the Vicarage will be compromised. It will take way more than a month of decluttering to change that. As my husband would agree, after noting the three separate packs of butter left out in the kitchen the other day…

Grace and Truth

The Vicar is out at Midnight Communion, aided by The Shropshire Lad, who has stayed for Christmas. The small(ish) boys are asleep (I think) upstairs. The Queen has gone to the midnight service for the first time – a couple of other teens from church are also joining her for the first time. My parents are staying and headed for bed. All is quiet and the fire is still hot. Time to wish you all a Merry Christmas – may you know God’s truth and grace – and see his glory – now and in the coming year.

Grace and truth

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