Tag Archives: Anglican

Half Term catch-up

I don’t usually stop and start in line with school terms, but since I have one child in school now, it made sense to take a break while Motorbiker was at home, and also since we moved house!
We made a really good start to the year, and got into a pretty good groove, but moving house is a big, unsettling business and I haven’t even decided where we will do our studies in the new house yet. I hope we can get settled quickly and start again.

Last term, we made a great deal of use of memory work (which I hadn’t planned, particularly, it just evolved as we went along).

I used a Happy Planner teacher planner that I wasn’t making use of, so I took the weekly calender pages out and punched the papers we’re using and slotted them into the current month. At the end of the month, anything we’ve successfully learned gets left behind the old month and new stuff, or things we’re still learning is put in the new month. That way it becomes a record of accomplishment as well. You could just as easily use a ring binder, but I quite like the disc bound system.

In case anybody is interested, I thought I would start to share what we’ve been learning and what we’ve been memorising so far (I had originally planned to do this all in one post but it got way too long and dense and, dare I say, a little bit boring! So I will break it up into several posts):

English:

  • General language arts and grammar: We finished Galore Park’s So You Want to Learn Junior English Book 2 and started Book 3
  • Spelling: This was one of the things that led us into memory work, as dyslexia was making learning spellings, even of the simplest words, just not happen. We have used various spelling lists (and I think when I get my books out of storage, I’ve got a good one on spelling patterns) but the lists are less important than the method – one list of ten words per week, and they’re written in Baba Zonee’s Memory Book. On day 1, BZ traces over the words, and we speak the words aloud, paying attention to phonics (consonant blends and particularly phonics blends). Day 2: repeat Day 1 and add copying out the words. Day 3: repeat Days 1 and 2 and add writing them out from dictation. Depending on how well the words are written from dictation, we may repeat on Days 4 and 5 but usually, we’re getting good results on Day 3. That’s a vast improvement on the results we had previously with reading, covering and writing dictated spellings as per the Jolly Phonics/ Jolly Grammar books. (The word lists are useful though.)
  • Other Copywork and Dictation: we’re using the selections in the back of Heart of Dakota’s ‘Bigger’ program – short sentences with basic words. We noticed that we got far better results spelling-wise if he wrote the dictation on the same day as the copywork. With even a day between (and looking/ reading at the passages first) the spellings were all over the place.
  • Poetry: also using the Heart of Dakota ‘Bigger’ poetry selections. Just reading and enjoying the poems – not requiring any analysis or any other associated work, just purely for pleasure.
  • Shakespeare: We read and/ listened to story versions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Tempest, including Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare, and then I discovered the wonderful book ‘How to Teach your Children Shakespeare‘ by Ken Ludwig, and so we decided to start learning short passages as recommended in the book. The passages are on the website in written and audio form, but don’t skip the book, it’s lovely.
  • Reading: BZ is reading Usborne’s ‘Starting Point science: Earth and Space‘ (which I originally read to him as part of Sonlight curriculum grade 2/C) and there’s a pile more in that same series for him to read next.

Maths:

We are using Parragon’s Gold Start Maths 7-9 as revision for Key Stage 1 and to make sure we didn’t miss anything (we used Singapore Maths primarily and, although I think it’s generally a rather good curriculum, it doesn’t follow the same scheme as the UK National Curriculum, so I’m just covering all the bases.) We have all sorts of resources for Maths, but I’m not sure what we will use once we have finished Parragon.

Bible:

We have been listening to David Suchet reading the NIV via Bible Gateway, and listening to Daily Morning Prayer with The Trinity Mission, although in the end we decided it was too much Bible readings and I changed to reading the prayers minus the readings. That means that we’re not following the set liturgical readings, but it happened to be going through Job which I felt was a bit too dour and not terribly helpful or conducive to JOY which is a priority! (That might sound shallow, but I just don’t think BZ is ready for Job!) We may go back to Trinity Mission prayers when they move on from Job.

We have also been memorising: the Books of the Bible, Old and New Testaments, the names of the Disciples (which we finished in September), and Psalm 34. My plan is to start learning Psalm 23 when we get back to it.

What did you do this past term/ half-term? What memory passages have you enjoyed learning?

 

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Third Sunday of Advent

Psalm: 146:4-10 or
Canticle: Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55)
OT Reading: Isaiah 36:1-10
NT Reading: James 5:7-10
Gospel: Matthew 11:2-11

Last Sunday was the third Sunday in Advent, and is known as ‘Gaudete Sunday’, that is Rejoicing Sunday. The readings all refer to the coming of the Lord, and the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven – a kingdom where the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear and the dead are raised up.

The following is a lovely version  (my favourite!) of ‘Gaudete’ sung by The Mediaeval Baebes.

Again, this hope of the Kingdom is not only referring to the first Advent of Christ coming as a baby and doing miracles as a man, but the hope of a future coming – the second Advent – as the King, when all of these hopes will be fully realised.

I did not realise that Advent is considered a period of ‘penance’ in the Roman Catholic church. I don’t suppose that really applies in Anglican churches, but ‘repentance’ featured in the readings for the 2nd Sunday in Advent. (Repentance seems to me to be a slightly preferable word, since the word ‘penance’ gives the impression that one can atone for one’s sins oneself, whereas ‘repentance’ is rather turning around and going in a new direction).

advent3

The passage in James (read the whole chapter if you can) gives us a clue how we can repent and pursue the Kingdom while we wait for its ultimate fulfillment :

  • Don’t live anymore for pleasure on earth
  • Be patient
  • Establish your heart
  • Grudge not (grumble and complain) against one another
  • Consider the examples of the prophets when times are hard
  • Swear not (don’t make promises or oaths)
  • Pray
  • Sing psalms
  • Confess faults to one another

Quinquagesima / The Sunday Next Before Lent

Psalms/ Canticles: Psalm 99
OT Reading: Exodus 34:29-end
Gospel: 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2
NT Reading: Luke 9 28:36 (27-43a)

“Moses and Aaron were among his priests… they called on the LORD and he answered them. He spoke to them from the pillar of cloud… Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his holy mountain, for the LORD our God is holy.” – Psalm 99


Summary and Notes

This is the last Sunday before Lent, which means this week will  see the traditions of Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday) or Fat Tuesday, when all the rich food ingredients are used up, and Ash Wednesday following, which signals the beginning of the Lenten period.

The portion in Exodus is right after the incident of Aaron’s golden calf where Moses, appalled, had smashed the Tablets of Stone and so had had to go up the mountain again to receive new Tablets. In this section, when Moses returns from the mountain, his face is radiant from being in the presence of God, and when he realises this, he covers his face with a veil – not because he doesn’t want the people to see the radiance, but because he knows that it will fade.

The passage in 2 Corinthians refers directly to the portion in Exodus (which will come up in a couple of Parsha’s time, incidentally) Only in Christ, Paul says, is the veil taken away and we as believers are to reflect God’s glory “being transformed into his likeness with ever increasing glory…”

The Gospel portion is the Transfiguration, where God’s glory in Christ is revealed to Peter, James and John.  Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus, and a voice in the cloud, reminiscent both of the Dove at Jesus’ baptism and of the cloud which led the Israelites in the desert, tells them “This is my Son, whom I have chosen: listen to him.”

Application

What does it mean to reflect God’s glory? In what way are we being transformed into his likeness with every increasing glory? I think it wouldn’t be outrageous to suggest that not a few Christians lack any obvious degree of Christlikeness. I don’t see a lot of it about, and let’s be brutally honest – I don’t see much of it in me. So how are we to reflect God’s glory? Well firstly and most obvious, we can’t do it unless we spend time in his presence – in prayer and contemplation of His Word. We can’t be like Him if we don’t know Him. In Romans 12:2 we are told “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” How can we renew our minds? again, only by spending time with God in His Word, getting to know His heart and His concerns. Secondly and perhaps most painfully, we must be prepared to allow Him to change us, to try us in the Refiner’s fire that we come out as gold.

And as an aside, it is interesting (as a Messianic especially) to contemplate God’s admonition to us to listen to Jesus. Far too often as Christians we take all our doctrine and theology from Paul, whom Peter tells us, in 2 Peter 3:16,  is hard to understand and easily misinterpreted, and we forget to pay due attention to Jesus own words. It’s a shame that Bibles tend not to print the words of Christ in red anymore. Are we listening to what Jesus is telling us?

4th Sunday of Epiphany/ Sexagesima

Psalms/ Canticles Psalm 48
OT Reading Ezekiel 43:27-44:4
Gospel Luke 2:22-40
NT Reading 1 Corinthians 13

“Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion on the side of the north, the City of the Great King.” Psalm 48:1-2

Hands up who immediately hears this sung as a chorus! I am guessing those of a certain age who might have grown up attending a Pentecostal church! 🙂 Psalm 48 is really one of the loveliest psalms, and one of my favourites.

I didn’t manage to get to church at all last weekend, so apologies this is late.  Also I can’t promise any degree of coherence since the brain fog is back and I’m struggling to think clearly. But these are my thoughts for what they’re worth.

With the Gospel reading this week, we step back in time from the Wedding at Cana to Christ’s presentation in the Temple, his circumcision on the eight day according to the requirement of Torah, and the meetings with Simeon and Anna who prophesied over him and blessed him. The selection ends with “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.”

The selection in 1 Corinthians is the ‘love chapter’ in which Paul outlines what true love looks like (with Christ’s love being the obvious example), and the section in Ezekiel refers to the Prince’s Gate. I’m not sure of the specific significance, but it would probably be worth doing a study on the Gates of the Temple as they all have different meanings. This short section is obviously understood to be messianic in nature, Christ being the Prince who is to come. (Curiously, from a Messianic perspective, the selection stops before the mention of the laws and ordinances since from a mainstream Christian perspective, the idea that the laws and ordinances will be in effect during the reign of Messiah is unthinkable, whereas from a Messianic perspective it is the only consistent interpretation.)

I can’t immediately see the connections between all these passages. If I am missing something obvious let me know!

I looked everywhere to find the version of Psalm 48 that I know but I couldn’t find it anywhere, so instead I will leave you with a Hebrew version by Shirei haLeviim which I hope you enjoy:

Septuagesima / Third Sunday of Epiphany

Canticles & Psalms: Psalm 19
OT Reading: Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10
NT Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a
Gospel: Luke 4:14-21

In this passage in the gospel, Jesus is quoting a passage in Isaiah 61 – declaring it to be a prophecy fulfilled in himself.

It is so interesting to me that this passage which occurs in the lectionary of the Anglican church should have come up at the Pentecostal church I attended last week (and I have already written about it here.) I don’t suppose there are many ‘Messianic Anglican Pentecostals’ around, so perhaps this is a repetition and a reminder intended just for me, who knows 🙂

What is also terribly interesting about this passage though, is that the passage in Isaiah is a ‘Haftarah’ portion (a section from the Prophets which is traditionally read after the Torah and usually refers back to, and brings to remembrance a specific section from the Torah) which seems to have been deliberately removed from the Jewish liturgy specifically because it was claimed and quoted by Jesus. (See also a list of Messianic passages from the prophets which are likewise excluded from Jewish liturgy for being obviously connected to Jesus here.)

So what was the Torah portion in question? I read a suggestion once that it was referring back to the section in Exodus 3 where God reveals himself to Moses as “I AM” – in other words, the claim being that, in reading this Haftarah passage, Jesus was drawing attention to His divinity, which the audience would have recognised. However, that portion (Shemot) is traditionally connected to Isaiah 27-28, and there is no evidence for such a claim that I can find. Since this New Testament passage seems to be the first historical evidence of Haftarah portions being read in the synagogue, it would seem to be almost impossible to determine which Torah portion it might originally have referred to, if indeed it was actually connected to a Torah portion (although the connection between Jesus’ mission and Moses’, which was to bring about an end to slavery, is certainly fascinating). Is it a compelling connection that Jesus’ audience in the synagogue would have recognised? I don’t know. But it is interesting that when they commend Him and say how wonderful His words are, that Jesus turns on them, telling them that they will soon change their minds about him, because “No prophet is accepted in his home town.” – Luke 4:24.

The passage in Nehemiah recalls the time when Ezra opened up the Book of the Law (that is, the Torah – the Pentateuch, also called the Books of Moses) and read it aloud to the people, who cried with sorrow that they had not known the great and mighty deeds of the LORD, nor obeyed His commands.

The passage in 1 Corinthians is on spiritual gifts – referring to the way in which we as the Body of Christ, must carry out Jesus’ Mission to preach good news to the poor, bind up the broken-hearted, proclaim freedom for the captives and release for the prisioners; in short: to proclaim the Year of the LORD’s favour – i.e., by the power and work of the Holy Spirit in us.

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.” – Psalm 19:7-11 KJV

Primates 2016

primates

Archbishop Justin Welby invited all the Primates of all the international branches of the Anglican communion to attend the congress in Canterbury this month to discuss the deep divisions within the communion being caused by the differences in opinion (and practice) on the nature of marriage.

The decision of the council was leaked yesterday and was characterised, on social media at least, to be a decision to expel the Episcopal Church of American, ECUSA, from the Anglican Communion.

This does not in fact appear to be the case as far as I can work out. According to the official statement, it is rather a decision to put the ECUSA on a kind of probation period of three years, during which time they may not officially represent Anglicanism at ecumenical events, while the issue is properly investigated. They still remain part of the Communion, but in ‘disgrace’ (like a naughty child being sent to the corner). There is, understandably, outrage about the decision.

I am very surprised by this decision, although from what I can gather it has more to do with the fact that ECUSA has flouted and disobeyed Anglican canon law for several years (and am I right in thinking that there was also a scandal to do with church assets when there was a split within the American church?) than that it has to do with a difference of opinion and belief.

As a person with a rather conservative and evangelical background and a Messianic within the Anglican communion, I would tend to hold with an orthodox position on marriage personally. (I have written about this previously here and here, and would not force my opinion on anyone else.)

However, one of the things that attracts people to Anglicanism is the freedom of conscience – although we have conservative creeds and liturgies, nobody is forced to think or believe anything they’re not comfortable with, and so there is room for a large spectrum of belief within Anglicanism – we are, after all, a ‘broad church’ – the third way of ‘Scripture, Tradition and Reason’ covering the breach between ‘low church’ and ‘high church’ Anglo-Catholicism as well as between liberals and conservatives. Within those two extremes, that middle way of Anglicanism would seem to be the one place where LGBT+ folk can feel safe and accepted and welcomed.

I would be very interested to hear from Jewish/Messianic believers who are also LGBT+ since a great deal of what I have seen of Messianic Judaism has tended to be uber-conservative and ‘Torah-observant’ to the point of very strict exclusivity (i.e., repent, or out you go). I can hardly imagine what it must be to be LGBT+ in that sort of setting, and it would be a horrible choice between accepting their ruling and being celibate, keeping quiet about your sexual orientation, or finding another LGBT+ accepting church that lacks that Jewish flavour. If your experience of MJ as LGBT+ has been different, I would be interested too.

(As an afterthought, I have to say that the Messianic fellowship I attended IRL, it was much more laid-back and the topic never came up – I very much doubt that the leader would have made it an issue, and he was himself an Anglican, so I’m talking really more here about my experience of the MJ community online.)

I am deeply saddened that this decision, which seems somewhat out of step with the nature of Anglicanism overall, has caused so much hurt and pain to an already wounded, marginalised group of society.

I do not believe that the decision is characterised by hate and bigotry, as many people are suggesting. However, that must be the way it is perceived by members of the ECUSA, the LGBT+ community and those Anglicans who hold more liberal views elsewhere. It seems ill-advised, but I expect that the ‘probation’ was considered to be more wise than outright expulsion. But from the reaction so far, it seems likely to force the rift that they were seeking to avoid. I hope I’m wrong in that.

Can the position of Orthodoxy be defended while still maintaining the freedom of conscience and belief that characterises Anglicanism? And cannot Orthodoxy be communicated in a spirit of love and forgiveness? (Actually, if you read the document, I think this is what they were trying to do, but they appear to have failed miserably.)

Or is an ultimate rift between liberals and conservatives inevitable now? How very, very sad if that is the case.

Second Sunday of Epiphany

The following are my scattered thoughts on the CW lectionary passages for the second Sunday of Epiphany, Year C, 17th January 2016. It is a Bible study rather than a sermon, but if anybody finds my notes of use in drawing up their own sermon, I would be very happy for you to make use of them. (Do let me know if you do!)


Psalms/ Canticles: Psalms 36:5-10
Old Testament: Isaiah 62:1-5
New Testament: 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
Gospel Reading: John 2:1-11


The Wedding at Cana is significant as Jesus’ first miracle and the inauguration of his ministry. But it can also be understood as representing two Covenants by the water and the wine, the wine signifying the New Covenant which is made between God, Judah and the whole house of Israel (that is, the Jewish people and all those whom God will call to himself).

Jesus’ mother (John never refers to her name as Mary) may be understood as representing the Jewish people in general, and the Levitical priesthood in particular (she is a Levi by family bloodline) , whereas we are told in Hebrews 7 that Jesus’ priesthood is after the order of Melchizedek. She draws Jesus’ attention to the lack of wine and directs to servants to do whatever Jesus asks them to, and he tells them to fill the jars with water which he transforms into wine.

Water is often significant in scripture and generally represents life, especially spiritual life, and may also be understood as representing the Torah, which in Judaism is referred to as ‘The Tree of Life’. In Messianic Jewish thought, Jesus is called the Tree of Life, or the Living Torah.

So what is wine that it would be more desirable and preferable to life itself? Well, the Hebrew word for wine is yayin (Strong’s Hebrew word no. 3196) from an unused root yayanto ferment or to effervesce, and so the wine may be understood as containing good yeast, that is, the Holy Spirit.

If we look back to the first explicit mention of the New Covenant, in Jeremiah 31:31-34, it is a Covenant in which God will write the law (the Torah) on people’s hearts. This can only be accomplished through the work of the Holy Spirit.

It is interesting that Jesus tells his mother in response, “My hour is not yet come.” Does he mean that it is too early for his ministry to start? Or is it perhaps referring to the fact that the New Covenant cannot be fully inaugurated yet, not until the coming of the Holy Spirit, after his death?


The passage in Isaiah is a very beautiful passage, of obvious Messianic significance (and by Messianic I mean both pertaining to Jewish believers and relating to the Messiah) but I’m not entirely sure why that particular passage was selected as I’m not immediately seeing the connection. If anybody has any ideas on this, I would be interested!

The New Testament passage in 1 Corinthians relates to spiritual gifts which the Holy Spirit imparts to the church.

The passage from Psalm 36 is on the topic of God’s love, but it refers to drinking from the ‘river of delights’,  the ‘fountain of life’, which can be seen to reflect the same topic of water as life, but here it is linked to the love of God.


Collect: Almighty God, in Christ you make all things new; transform the poverty of our nature by the riches of your grace, and in the renewal of our lives make known your heavenly glory:
Through Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord,
Who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Amen.

 

The Mountain of the Lord

This blog was intended to be primarily Anglican, and I do intend to start looking at the readings from the lectionary, but I haven’t been able to get to an Anglican service in a while due to illness, and the fact that I can’t get a lift before 10am.

So, lately, I have been hanging out at a local evangelical/ pentecostal church.

The most recent sermon was on a the topic of a single verse (verse 2) in Isaiah chapter 2:

“In the last days
the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established
as the highest of the mountains;
it will be exalted above the hills,
and all nations will stream to it.”

I am aware of course that there is a range of differing eschatological positions, and that the standard Anglican eschatology is basically preterist – i.e. (if I understand it correctly) that the majority of prophecy has already been fulfilled and/ or is to be taken metaphorically rather than literally.

I was raised in a church (an American Baptist from Grand Rapids, Michigan in fact!) that took the Pre-Trib, Pre-Millennial view (with the idea that the Rapture would occur literally, prior to a literal Tribulation and followed by a literal Millennium of the rule of the Kingdom of God) very seriously.

Eschatology is a branch of Theology that isn’t generally popular, but Tim LaHaye’s ‘Left Behind’ series (which advocated that same Pre-Trib, Pre-Millennial view) brought it into the public view and made it popular.

But having read a few of those books, one thing they did for me was to make me seriously doubt that I had it all figured out or that the view I had been brought up with was the one true interpretation it was presented as being.

So back to Isaiah 2. It would seem that the basic options for interpreting this verse (or rather passage, as it’s really just asking for misinterpretation if you take a single verse out of context) are either:

– that a literal temple will be established in the literal Jerusalem (as the rest of the passage suggests), at a future time (or that this literally happened at some past point that would have been future when it was written), OR

– that the temple is metaphorical, and that this metaphorical temple will be established (in either the literal or a metaphorical Jerusalem) in the future or has already been established. (Although once a passage is taken to be metaphorical, the time element can legitimately be ignored.)

The speaker in this case, without any apparent reference to the rest of the passage or the context, what it meant to the original writer or readers, or how the passage has traditionally been understood, spiritualised the meaning of the verse, suggesting that the ‘mountain’ referred to success, prosperity, and the proliferation of the Gospel, that the ‘Temple’ referred to men’s hearts, and that this was something that would happen in the future but that the ‘Last Days’ were now.  By extension, it was used to suggest that the future of the local church was very bright.

It is not my intention to slander anybody of course nor to offend or upset the speaker in question. (If he is reading this, I would be happy to discuss it!) But this struck me as a particularly careless handling of Scripture. Not because it wasn’t a possible interpretation (it fits with the second option, although what ‘Jerusalem’ represents wasn’t addressed because it was outside of the scope of that single verse), but rather because the suggestion really was that, if you take a verse out of context, it’s alright to make it mean anything you want it to mean, and that the original intention is of no consequence. Of course, in some ways, that would seem to be the prevailing view anyway.

The rest of the passage continues:

Many peoples will come and say,

“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
    to the temple of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
    so that we may walk in his paths.”
The law will go out from Zion,
    the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He will judge between the nations
    and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
    and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
    nor will they train for war anymore.

Come, descendants of Jacob,
    let us walk in the light of the Lord.

The line ‘They will beat their swords into plowshares’ is a very famous phrase which is often quoted at memorial services for servicemen, in a wish to end the ongoing futility of war, so there is a lot in the passage that wasn’t even touched on in the sermon, and the passage immediately following this one is about the ‘Day of the Lord’ which is usually understood to refer to judgement rather than blessing and reward.

What does it matter whether or not we get our eschatology right? Do we need to know what is coming up in the future? Do we need to have a right understanding of the chronology of end-time events? Will it alter our thinking and behaviour if we have different ideas about the flow of history, the direction of events and the ultimate end-game? Or should we just be faithful in every age?

There is a sense in which Scripture can be understood to have multiple fulfillments so, for example, some of the passages in Isaiah which are clearly understood to be Messianic in nature – foretelling the coming of Christ – may have had an early fulfillment (a ‘shadow’ of things to come), a fulfillment at the time of Christ, and/ or possibly an ultimate fulfillment at the end of the age. So from that point of view it may be possible to accommodate multiple interpretations without one cancelling out the other. As a Messianic Jewish Anglican who tends to see a future for Israel, the Jewish people and Torah in the church, I would support that ‘multiple fulfillments’ view.

But does that make it possible for Isaiah 2:2 to be telling us that the future of the local church in Cornwall is prosperity and success in evangelism? It seems a bit of a stretch to me.

Grumbles

Just a quick (ok less quick as it turns out) grumble. I’m still clearing out our old house and trying to clean the darn thing.

We have had the de-humidifier going non-stop for three weeks, and some of the more disgusting black mold has disappeared, but I just feel incensed that we have had to live in these awful places, and that our scumbag landlord would add insult to repeated injury by turfing us out on our ear for profit.

I sat in the garden yesterday, looking at the beautiful view of fields and the sea, and just wept thinking about the place we are moving to, with a sorry excuse for a tiny garden with 6 foot high fences and a view of a shed. Ok, we’re escaping the mold, and our tenancy should be safer now as it’s no longer private renting, but it’s not a clear improvement by any means.

My mum keeps calling to say first one day that she’s desperately unhappy and can’t cope with living alone and wants to come and live with us (so can we get the ‘spare’ room ready for her), and then the next day that she doesn’t want to leave London and would rather live near my brother. I’m sure she can’t help it, but it’s relentless and feels like emotional torture.

Also, about three weeks ago I wrote to the Church hierarchy with an update confirming that, after my year of waiting, I was still interested in ordination. I still have yet to receive any kind of acknowledgement at all despite specifically requesting one. In the meantime, I sent details of an online course to the same person that I thought might be interesting. Bearing in mind that I wasn’t asking for the church to pay for the course, the fact that I received a very terse response “NO” within five minutes felt like a big slap in the face with a wet fish.

Frankly, I’m no longer sure that I want to be connected with an organisation that treats people so rudely.

And then finally, and no doubt due to the amount of stress I’ve been under, I’m experiencing what feels like the beginning of another relapse – all my lymph nodes are swollen, my throat is sore, my head, back, neck and spine are tender and my arms and legs are achy and weak, so I am having to take it easy and move slowly to hopefully ward it off. Last night I went to bed around 9pm, slept round the clock, and woke up with a migraine. The washing, and washing up are piling up around me and I can’t do anything about it.

Rounding Up the Year – 2014 – It’s been a weird one.

2014 has not been the greatest year, but it certainly hasn’t been the worst year by a very long mile.

We had only just moved into this house (in November 2013) with mixed feelings – not the home I had hoped for, we’re still renting with no end in sight, but relieved to be out of the hell that was the previous rental. But on the home front I have spent most of the year battling the agents over a long list of problems, not least of which the intermittent hot water, which thankfully was finally fixed in time for Christmas.

At the beginning of the year, I set out meaning to read one book a week for #Read52 but I doubt I have even read one a month. I can’t remember another year when I have read so little in fact. I started off the year with lots of energy and did several courses – an OU course, DD101, an introduction to Social Science, as well as several MOOCS, and I also volunteered with Scouts and Guides AND Boys / Girls Brigade. By the beginning of the summer holidays I had totally overdone it and had a relapse which kept me almost housebound over the entire summer and well into September. I have been getting better since then but I have had to pace myself and I haven’t resumed any of my volunteering again so far.

In the Spring – also when I was feeling healthy and strong and on top of the world – I put myself forward for Ordination. I had two interviews and was informed that, although it was considered that I had a ‘call’, I wasn’t quite Anglican enough yet and needed to do several things before coming back to them. Although I know it was the right decision, I did experience that as a kind of rejection that has made me feel quite miserable and frustrated since. This Spring I will need to decide whether or not I want to pursue it. I have a feeling that it may be an uphill struggle, and it’s a funny kind of mirror of the struggle one has to go through in order to convert to Judaism – you can expect to be sent away and persist several times before your wish to convert is taken seriously.

And then the other big issue of 2014 was the beginning of a possible adoption journey which so far has consisted of a lot of reading (mainly of blogs – see the blog roll to the right for recommendations) and attending information meetings with the Council and an agency, but not much else so far. I have been lucky enough to discover the amazing adoption community on twitter which, since mostly anonymous, is able to be very open and honest about the reality of adoption and they have been kind enough to answer my questions.

Oh and finally, I did successfully complete my second ‘novel’ for NaNoWriMo in November. I haven’t started editing yet…

Overall, 2014 has been something of a weird and unusual year – not good, not bad, but a lot of new stuff and big stuff being contemplated which could possibly lead to big changes.

There seems to be a lot of pressure to make resolutions and have a ‘new start’ for the new year. But ‘New Year’ is an invented non-entity. The winter solstice has already passed and there isn’t even a new or a full moon – there is no astronomical reason to say that the year turns on this day or night and yet somehow we imbue this date with significance that give it a kind of magic. Whatever. Every day can be a new start. I would love to resist it, but I find myself – as I often seem to do – in the position of being very unhappy with where my life is and feel the need to make some decisions about the direction it is taking. In that sense I would like to avail myself of the opportunity to make a new start. but on the other hand, I feel as though there is very little within my control that I can change.

I have realised that I perceive myself as a victim in many areas while often seeing everything as being ‘all my fault’ – all of which results inevitably in misery. in other words, my thinking has become rather negative and unhelpful.

I have made some painful realisations recently, the details of which I won’t go into in any depth but they revolve around needing to rely on myself for what I need. This is nothing new really – when I did the 12 Steps back in 2010 in working through grief and did a ‘life evaluation’, it became clear that my life was very strongly characterised by disappointment. What has taken me a little longer to take on board is the fact that it hasn’t just been ‘bad luck’ or that I just need to wait for hope to be realised around the corner. No, it is that my expectations (of God, of marriage, of family, of friends, of church, of community, of neighbours) were wildly outside what they were prepared to give or be to me. (The book ‘Disappointment with God’ by Philip Yancey, that I read many years ago springs to mind. Worth reading, although it doesn’t resolve anything, and I seem to remember wanting to throw it across the room! But it very eloquently explores the theme and I do recommend it.)

So the crux of the matter, I think, is that I need to change my thinking. I don’t mean that I need to ‘think positively’ – I have had an earful this year about ‘the Secret’ / Law of Attraction from people who have a ridiculously easy life because they’re selfishly and thoughtlessly living at others’ expense but believe they have ‘attracted’ their good fortune by thinking positively while all the dreadful things that have happened to other people were also somehow ‘attracted’ by them. NO, NO, NO! Although that philosophy may be ‘attractive’ (pun intended) it really is the most offensive claptrap when you think about it in any depth. So as my Dad (of blessed memory) used to say, “Take the meat and leave the bones” – if it helps you to think positively, that’s great! Please just don’t let it be a weapon to bash yourself or others when disappointment, failure and disaster happen. It’s not your fault. It’s not my fault. And if you’re successful while others aren’t, it’s not their fault. Really, people, as a philosophy LoA is severely lacking. It’s not that simple. Life is (and people are) complex, multi-faceted, inter-connected and unpredictable.

What I do mean is that I need to start thinking of myself as capable – capable of providing for my own needs without relying on anybody else to make me happy, capable of making my own decisions, capable of making the life that I want for myself without relying on anybody else to do it for me.

So, 2015…

My main goals are always along the same lines – get healthier, enjoy life more, be a better person, be more disciplined. This year though, I would also like to learn better how to look after myself (knowing now that nobody else is going to do it). That means, in the first instance, forcing myself to go to the hairdresser’s. Its such a small thing but I have developed something of a hairdresserphobia. I have probably only been perhaps three times in the last 15 years or more. I know that, if I manage to get there, I will feel better for it, but I really do have to force myself to do it.

I am intending to sign up for some new courses. My OU account is still apparently having funding problems, so I’m still not sure whether or not I’ll be able to do the course I had intended (I wasn’t able to sign up for anything in September but I was assured it had been sorted in time for the spring term, but it seems not…), but I have signed up for a Ministry Course with the deanery and a free Archaeology MOOC, and I may do some other things, depending on finances.

I have been extremely frustrated with my de-cluttering efforts over the holidays so far. I was hoping to be able to have the house spic and span with a view to finally registering for Stage 1 of the adoption process. (It has been around 8 months now since we first enquired with the Council about adoption). So now I’m not sure whether untidy house is an insurmountable obstacle. I have got rid of nearly 50 books along with old furniture and lots of other junk including 20 years of magazines! But the place seems ten times more untidy that when I started so it’s obviously going to be an ongoing project.

I do know that, for the purpose of adoption, I need to do some work on building up a bigger and better support network, since any that I had before we moved down here is now completely non-existent, and developing a new one down here has not come easily.

I may come back with some more specific goals linked to specific times and dates because I think the deadline aspect is a crucial layer of accountability that causes resolutions to fail when they’re not included.

So finally, wishing all (any?) readers a happy new year and, as ever, I hope to be more consistent 🙂