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And training, and the opportunity to preach and to lead youth work, school assemblies and Sunday services, the experience of living in a busy inner city vicarage with a messy family which includes a couple of teenagers (and a younger one), and a year or two seeing what God is up to in multi cultural West Bromwich? Anyone?

The Shropshire Lad is moving away next month to a new job and to be closer to his beloved. King is spending another year in the attic and so now we are looking for an attic mate for him. Maybe you? Or someone you know?

Our Ministry Trainee scheme has produced three ordinands to date, two of whom are now curates. Another is waiting to hear about his BAP. So it’s a great way to explore vocation in the Church of England – and our Diocesan Director of Ordinands is very friendly and helpful. But you don’t have to be thinking about ordination and others have joined us and taken the skills they’ve learnt into other fields. There are many opportunities to serve in the church – music, technology, visiting, evangelism, teaching the Bible to all sorts of people in all sorts of ways. There is great flexibility for development of existing gifts and discovery of ones you never even knew you had. And it’s lots of fun. And there is cake.

Generally our MTs attend the Midlands Ministry Training Course one day a week and there are opportunities to attend other training conferences and courses through the year. The Vicar meets with the MTs for supervision and there is also training in youth and children’s work with Dreamer, our Families and Community worker. Our church website is a bit undeveloped at the moment after it fell over a few months ago, but details of the post can be found there (and if you can do websites well that would be great too!).

And did I mention the cake?

Muffins and cheese straws NB Church hall table cloth!

Muffins and cheese straws (please excuse the church hall table cloth)

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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

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Spotted this excellent Easter meditation yesterday, with the starting point of considering a Creme Egg (which I know that a good number of people will be doing over the next few weeks). Delivered by Dave Crofts of Christ Church Central in Sheffield. Think this might get a showing in one of our services before Easter.

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I’ve not been fasting from blogging for Lent. Just a normal blogflop due to life and everything. But here I am again. With some fun pics of my friend Kirby, who made some Resurrection Eggs last week in preparation for the fortnight leading up to Easter.

Resurrection eggs are a sort of Jesse Tree for Easter and a creative way to get kids to engage with the wonderful gospel story at the heart of our faith. Kirby used the verses preprepared on this blog. There’s plenty of time to gather yourself an egg box and some plastic eggs. You can use 15 eggs (as Meredith does), a dozen (as I did) or even a simple six. Why not give it a go?

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Apologies. We have had the lurgies. And hence the exciting 2014 regular posting phenomenon has gone a bit down the tubes, after lasting for all of about a fortnight. The Queen got sick and then kindly shared her bug with three of the four grown-ups in the house. BytheSea had the Daddy Bear version, involving treatment with antibiotics, I have had a Mummy Bear attack which has merely confined me to bed for four days, and the Vicar has had the Baby Bear lurgies and has felt terrible but still managed to lead a massive funeral and attend a 2 1/2 hr school governors meeting midweek plus all his normal vicaring duties.

Anyway, I’m pleased to report that we’re on the mend and I’m able to have a small blogging catch-up.

FIRST: The winner of the caption competition – randomly generated as I found it too hard to choose – is Shaun. Please email me at thevicarswifey [at] gmail [dot] com to claim your prize of an e-book of The Ministry of a Messy House.

SECOND: Book news: The Vicar reviewed my book (I’m relieved to say that he liked it) – and Claire Musters posted her review on Christian Today (she seemed to understand the writing process in the Vicarage perfectly).

THIRD: Ace apps – I’ve been meaning to mention a couple of excellent free apps – the Bible App for Kids and PrayerMate for iPad/iPhone and Android (free until the end of March courtesy of London City Mission). My kids are a little on the big side for the Bible App but they have enjoyed noodling about with it. It looks like a fun way to get kids familiar with bible stories. Recommended for ages 3-8. And PrayerMate is a truly excellent way to order all your regular intercessions. Over the years I have used various versions of prayer lists and abandoned/lost them pretty regularly. PrayerMate is a superb app which enables me to keep my list fresh and has some whizzy features like alarms and prayer diaries from mission societies (all in iOS, some still to come in Android).

FOURTH: I have come across a couple of interesting programmes on Alba – the Gaelic language BBC service which we can get on iPlayer. There’s a gentle series about ministers’ wives in Scotland (Bean a’ Mhinisteir) and tonight we’re going to watch Reaching Out with Hope (Na Soisgeulaich) which is about three evangelical churches in Scotland reaching out to their communities, including Niddrie Community Church, led by Mez McConnell of 20Schemes. Two of our children have Gaelic names, but that’s the extent of my knowledge, but it’s okay – the programmes are subtitled in English.

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I was teaching the first of our new Junior Church series on the Ten Commandments this morning. We had a great time thinking about Joshua 24 and the people being reminded of all the great things God had done for them before they thought about their choice to worship God or the gods of the various ‘ites they’d come across in their journey to the Promised Land.

I also taught the kids the Ten Commandments using hand signals for each one. I first learnt these a couple of years ago – and now I actually know which commandment is which after years of having only a vague idea about their order. Here’s the Joker showing you the moves:

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And we all enjoyed a rather cheesy song: the Ten Commandment Boogie. A good opportunity to practice your signals!

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After thinking about devotions honestly yesterday, the excellent Adam4d just posted this on what happens when we pray at bedtime..

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