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I went to be interviewed by Paul Hammond of UCB radio last week. I drove up the M6 to Stoke and spent a great couple of hours having lunch with his lovely producer and then talking in a studio with Paul about something I seem to know a bit about – mess. It was good to chat around the subject of mess and the Christian and how messy homes and families can be used for God’s glory. And thankfully it didn’t feel like I was in the Mastermind chair at all. Much more like chatting with a friend over some of the topics I covered in my book. I started by reading out my dad’s poem from the start of The Ministry of a Messy House, which finishes:

So, come and talk, some tea and cakes,

To love one’s neighbour messy makes,

There’s just no time to tidy up,

We always need another cup,

For family, friends, and cruel distress

Come first, and so, you see,

A mess.

(from Messiness by John Turtle)

My dad used to work for the BBC and had his own programme on the World Service before he retired. I was very pleased to be able to recite his poem on the radio to continue his broadcasting career after a fashion. Hopefully the interview itself wasn’t too messy and I didn’t say ‘um’ too often. At least they’ve decided to broadcast it – in fact it will be going out on the radio this coming week. If you like you can listen online or on your DAB radio or on Sky Channel 0125, Virgin Media 914 or their iPhone app.

I was recorded for a segment of Paul’s daily show which covers current affairs and topical discussion. There are four ten minute segments which will go out on his show. I think that means they’ll be on from Monday to Thursday. The show airs from 9am-12noon, and there is a Saturday omnibus of the whole interview called Life Issues which goes out at 9.15pm next Saturday evening. The shows stay available on the website for a week after transmission.

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I think you’re all *probably* aware that last year I wrote a book. Over Christmas a couple more reviews appeared online – Mark Cresswell posted on his blog and E D Farr posted on Amazon

And my publisher, IVP, have a special offer on e-books which expires today. Books are priced from 99p, and The Ministry of a Messy House is going for £2.50. The e-books work on Kindles and other specialist readers, and on tablet apps, but you could also read it on your PC or laptop if you don’t have those gadgets. If you like, of course.

I’m now waiting with a little trepidation to see what unexpected things the Lord has in store for me in 2014. I already seem to be committed to a speaking engagement in March (and one in 2015 – nothing like planning ahead, eh?!). And now I have something new in January too. I will be travelling up to the UCB studios in Stoke on Trent to talk about mess and the Christian with Paul Hammond for his Life Issues programme. Not until the end of the month, so I have time to clear my head from the Christmas fuzziness that seems to have set in. I’m not sure when the programme will be broadcast, but I’ll let you know…

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Lots of people have already blogged about their disappointment with the new Girl Guides promise eg Gillan, David, Alison. I didn’t manage last week, but I did express some of my feelings on Twitter. That resulted in an interview with Helen Legh on 3 Counties Radio that went out on Sunday morning. You can catch it on iPlayer until next Sunday – my slot was about 1hr 10minutes into the show. I very much enjoyed talking to Helen and think I managed to get across most of what I’ve been thinking. Which is:

  1. The Guides is a brilliant organisation. I will always be grateful to Guides for friendships made and the encouragement to lead and take responsibility.
  2. I understand that not everyone wants to make a promise to God.
  3. But being ‘true to myself’ is either meaningless – a sort of Disney nonsense, or a more insidious call to the worship of self (my daughter thought it meant ‘be selfish’).

What I forgot to mention was that the promise is going to be tricky for girls to say if they believe that to be true to themselves they cannot promise to be true to themselves, as they know that their selves are flawed and imperfect and not to be trusted. Which is essentially what a Christian believes.

And I also didn’t mention, because I didn’t know it at the time, is that my former Guide leader, (a member of my home church which I visited last Sunday), is considering sending back her trefoil (a sign of membership) because she is so cross about the new promise. She led our Guide company for many years and went on to other senior guiding responsibilites. Seems to me that the Guides may need to have a little think about where they are headed with this seemingly self-centred new declaration.

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Watching the last episode of the excellent BBC Nativity earlier this week I was reminded of this song by Andrew Peterson (he of Matthew’s Begats). Here is a YouTube clip of it, with pictures from The Nativity Story from 2006. A Christmas Day treat for us all.

And talking of a Labour of Love, if you were in bed at a decent hour last night, you won’t have heard my fumblings on air with Ranvir Singh of Radio 5 Live. My very kind brother-in-law managed to record my brief moment of late-night fame, where I spoke about what Christmas means to me. It was recorded from the telly, which is why it’s in a YouTube clip.

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Just in case you don’t follow my Twitter stream, I thought I’d let you know that you can hear me on Radio 5 Live tonight, Christmas Eve. I’m joining a discussion on ‘What does Christmas mean to me?’ on the Stephen Nolan Show, although it’s being hosted by Ranvir Singh tonight.

Do pray, as I’m feeling quite nervous at this point. My dad was a radio journalist until he retired, so I have a family reputation to uphold. I’ll be enormously pleased if I manage to get through without saying ‘er’ and ‘um’ more often than I say something coherent.

In the meantime, we are chilling after a cheery Christmas Cracker service and waiting for the gammon to be finished. I boiled it in leftover Spiced Cranapple before giving it a final blast in the oven.

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