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Posts Tagged ‘The Ministry of a Messy House’

The September sunshine is streaming through the Vicarage living room windows as I type. Yesterday the Engineer was off school for a teacher training day and we had a lovely time at the park with his friend, playing in the early Autumn warmth. I’ve been quiet on the blog this month, but not only because of trips to the park and the temptation to sunbathe in a garden that has usually been warmer than the house. In addition, I was writing some other things, explained below.

Our sunny September park

Our sunny September park

At the beginning of the month I took the plunge and put my name forward to stand for election to the General Synod of the Church of England as a representative of the laity of Lichfield diocese. There are 22 candidates for six places, and you’ll find me fifth from bottom of the list and can read my election address. You can also identify me by my surprising middle name. With so many people standing, I am praying for wisdom for the electors and trusting God’s sovereign will to be done throughout the next synod.

And at the end of the month – this weekend just gone – I got to speak about mess to a group of clergy spouses from Chelmsford Diocese at their annual retreat in the beautiful surroundings of Pleshey. Following publication of The Ministry of a Messy House my Twitter friend from the diocese, who organises it, asked me if I’d be the speaker and didn’t seem to mind that my speaking experience was very limited.

It was a real pleasure to meet her face to face and to share some of the things I’d learnt whilst contemplating (and writing about) mess. It was especially good to talk with a group of people who I know are often overwhelmed with extra mess not of their own creating – ecclesiastical, emotional and spiritual. We laughed a lot and encouraged one another. We shared recipes and tips for mess containment. We prayed and we sang and we gathered around the Lord’s table. I enjoyed myself very much and came home encouraged and surprisingly energised, with some new recipes to try and thankfulness to God for the work of the gospel in Essex and East London.

October is kicking off with the excitement of joining the youth group on their first ever weekend away together. I suspect there will be as much chatting as the weekend just gone, but with added running around and screaming. The joy of youth work, eh?

[Edited to add some words I lost in a draft and then found again]

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Hello there blog. Sorry it’s been a while. But now it’s May and the sun is shining and I think I should see if my brain links to my typing fingers for more than 140 characters. What news in the Vicarage?

1. I gave some talks to people I’d not met before, which was a first for me. The lovely spouses of Sheffield Diocese asked me to speak to them on Messy Ministry and so I spent last Saturday talking to them and encouraging them to talk to each other about the messy and peculiar world of Vicarage life. I was very much encouraged to meet them and hear of God’s work in Yorkshire. I also got to drive past the church where my parents were married, as the venue we were using was just close to the village where my Yorkshire grandparents used to live.

2. The Ministry of a Messy House is available in German now. I have a copy of Herrlich Unperfekt but my schoolgirl German isn’t quite up to reading it. They even translated my dad’s poem.

3. The book in English is currently being reprinted by IVP, as they are out of stock in the warehouse. There should be another 500 copies available at the end of May. See if you can find one at your local Christian bookshop in the meantime.

4. I have cleared my desk. This momentous achievement means that my head feels a little less messy. Maybe I’ll even start writing things again. Although it’s amazing how attractive housework becomes once there’s something else that you feel you should be doing instead.

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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…

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It’s more than a year since my book The Ministry of a Messy House was published. It’s been a fun year, seeing something I can’t quite believe that I produced stocked in catalogues and bookshops and conferences. I’ve had opportunities to speak on the grace of God in our messes and muddle and have a couple more speaking engagements coming up next year. People have commented encouragingly on the book here and in a few other spots on the internet. Comments have come from the UK and also further afield: Australia, New Zealand and the US I think.

And this week I’ve had confirmation that The Ministry of a Messy House is going to be translated and published in Germany by Neukirchener. The contract has been signed but I’m not sure when it will be available to buy. I can’t say that a German translation was something I anticipated as I was writing! The proposed new title seems rather lengthy:

Herrlich Unperfekt: Erfrischende Geständnisse einer chaotischen Pfarrfrau

which according to Google translate is:

Delightfully Imperfect: refreshing confessions of a chaotic pastor’s wife

I think they may have sussed me out….

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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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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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Last night The Church Mouse posted this scintillating church marketing leaflet on Twitter. I imagine that it’s actually pretty tricky to come up with a good picture to illustrate a deanery synod recruitment brochure, so I do understand that this may have been the best of the options available. However, it does lend itself to some alternative captions. So for this weekend only I offer you a caption competition. And as I seem to have a spare e-book code for The Ministry of a Messy House, there will even be a prize. So join the fun – how would you caption this picture and recruit for deanery synod?

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