Surviving the first year of curacy

It’s nearly a year since ordination and I’ve survived! 

Sometimes it feels like it’s only by the skin of my teeth, but I’m still here nonetheless. So I thought now might be a good time to do a post of the things I’ve learned in that year, for those who are about to start Curacy.

 

1. Meeting the Vicar

Ok so technically this is pre-curacy but when you get to meet your TI for the first time do think very carefully before you go, about what you want to know. The meeting is as much for you as for them. How do you work? How do they work. Are those two compatible?! If you have questions, ask them, and find out exactly what is expected of you and when. Title Post agreements can be notoriously vague so if you have other things to consider (like a life) – or more specifically kids, partner, or especially if you are an SSM your paid employment – agree what you can and can’t do in terms of days and hours, and then stick to it.

 

2. Starting date

We moved house 3 weeks before I was ordained and started work. This was a luxury that I know not everyone has but it you can, make sure there is time between the two. In the run up to ordination you will have to finish college and essays or a dissertation, not to mention possibly managing a house move, potential meetings at the new church, saying goodbye to the old one, clerical garb to buy and who knows what else. Having a break before you are thrown into the madness is really useful. I know some dioceses don’t ordain Curates until September giving you the summer to have a break, which seems eminently more sensible. Of course you will be keen to get going but you might not get a break for a while so start with one instead if you can.

 

3. Burning out (or rather NOT burning out)

And on that, the first 6 months are completely exhausting. Unless you’ve stayed in your sending parish (which is very unusual unless you’ve planted a church for example) everything is new. New people, new places, new house, new job, new schools for the kids, and any selection of the above – it is draining on so many levels, mentally as well as physically, so try to take regular breaks, get rest where you can, don’t book too much in the diary, make sure your treat tin is packed and the wine rack full.

With 2 and 3 in mind let’s just think about working hours…

 

4. Working hours

There are no actual set hours from Min Div that tell you how much you should work, and every diocese, Bishop and even Vicar seems to differ. There are of course many benefits to flexible working time which means that for example as a parent I can stop work at 4 to do the school run and dinner, and then continue work in the evening. However it also means it’s nearly impossible to work out how much you are working. I spent some time in the first few months writing down my hours and what I was doing to work out exactly what was going to work for us as a family. Some weeks were bonkers and made me realise I needed to manage my diary better, but others showed me that I could be flexible.

As above, I suggest chatting to your TI about it when you start and then review it after 6 months or so if you can to see how it is going.

A while back I wrote some posts on getting the balance right, here and here which come with input from lots of clergy, so do read them if you can and find out what works for you.

 

5. What keeps you sane?

Again, leading on from the previous point, you have to look after yourself! Clergy burn out numbers are huge, start as you mean to go on and get a good balance. What helps you to feel rested? or what helps energise you? or just gives you peace? Game of squash, knitting, hanging out with friends? Whatever it is, prioritise it, book it in your diary and don’t drop it unless you really have to. Same goes for prayer/reflection/ retreat time – make sure it’s in there and doesn’t get dropped unless it’s vital!


6. Diary planning

This might not work for you but I put everything in my diary. Literally everything. I am ruthless. I use google calendar so I can access it easily from my phone if I’m out and about. I also share it with my husband’s calendar so we know what we’re each doing and when.

Each few months I go through and block in:

: Prayer time – including a morning every month for a longer prayer time (though I often use this to work I’m ashamed to say)

: IME/ study time

: Weekly running/exercise – keeps me sane and is part of my back recovery

: Days off – in red! and I never (unless an emergency) book things on my day off

: Home stuff / date nights/ Kids stuff/school events etc

Only then do I go through and put in regular meetings like PCC, staff meeting, and regular events. Closely followed by other church stuff eg: preaching, alpha, group sessions. I then add in the preparation time needed for each – so if I’m preaching I block out at a minimum a day to prepare (often spread over 2 days).

Then, anytime after that I book something else into my diary, I also add in the time I need to prepare it at the same time. I learned that if I don’t do this I just end up with a full week of stuff and no time to prep any of it.

I also try and have one day a week where I work from home for the whole day and catch up on admin and one afternoon I keep free for meeting people/pastoral visits, it doesn’t mean there won’t be others but just means at least I have one afternoon available at short notice if needed.

Sounds very regimented but it works for me and I swear by Google calendar.

Also a quick side note, you may have a shared work calendar, so if you need to book things in and don’t want the entire staff team to know what they are use a code system! I know people who use inititals eg: TFM = time for me; ABC = anything but church, that sort of thing, don’t have to tell people what they are!

 

7. On not being the Von Trapp family

Obviously it depends on your circumstances and your family if you have one, but there can be a tendency for churches to expect a lot from clergy partners and families, for example that they will come to everything, help, join in and generally be extra free help. I think that’s particularly the case for clergy wives. So, set boundaries as you need, don’t feel pressured into anything and if your kids are being a nightmare, just parent them as you normally would, don’t expect them to be perfect angels just because you work for the church.

Wider boundaries are key, especially with a family. For example, you don’t have to always answer the phone, door, email, text etc. I have an answerphone on both home and mobile and I tell people to use it as I often can’t respond straight away, and friends and family know that I call screen so if I hear it’s them I will pick up if I can! If you do answer any of the above on your day off then I think it’s harder to expect people to then respect your day off.

Family-wise, if people come to our home for meetings I don’t run around clearing up (unless it’s really bad!) and if the kids are watching TV in the next room we put up with the volume through the wall. I don’t book meetings between 6-7 unless unavoidable as that’s when we eat and Saturdays I only do essential work so that we get some family time.

School hols I avoid just thinking ‘I’ll just work from home’ which just doesn’t work for us and isn’t fair on our kids, and so we try to balance doing things with the kids and having friends over for them, or days out with Granny & Grandad when we do need to work at home.

 

8. Social media

I love social media as I’m sure you all know, great tool for the church and communication. But I have thought very carefully about my use of it since working for the church. In fact I now have two Facebook accounts – one is a family page I have with my husband for keeping in touch with family, pics etc and one that I use for work. So If I get friend requests from people I only have vague links with I point them to the more public page. Keeping boundaries, I usually don’t put personal things or pictures of my kids on my public profiles, and if I’m going to mention them in a sermon I do check with them first.

I find I think more carefully about what I tweet/post whilst trying to still be myself and I’ve also had a chat to my TI about my blog before I started the job to make sure he was ok with it.

 

9. Making friends

A difficult one. People have different opinions on this, some think you need to have good friends in any parish to help sustain you in ministry, especially if you’ve moved far away from family and friends. Others think it’s better not to as you’re there to be a leader and lines can be blurred. I really think this is one that you need to work out what’s right for you.

You might also find yourself overwhelmed with people asking you around when you first arrive, equally no one might! And on this I think key things are:

Being consistent – so if you accept invites from someone more than once and tell others you haven’t got time, that isn’t going to go down terribly well.

Secondly – though it sounds mercenary, prioritise your friends. We haven’t moved far from where we lived before so we make a real effort to see a few key people who are really important to us. They get prioritised over other invites because it’s important for us personally and as a family. Might seem selfish to some but as I said it’s important to us and I’m quite happy to explain that to people if they ask.

For whatever reason you may need (or want) to say no to invites. I’m not sure there is an easy way to say no when parishoners ask you over, but a couple of suggestions are:

: If you get lots of invites, host your own evening drinks and invite people to you, so it’s on your terms and timings.

: Offer to meet for coffee instead so you can do that during the day instead of taking up an evening or having to involve your partner/family

: Use real reasons eg: husband is busy with work, difficult to get a babysitter, we don’t do evenings as we keep them for family,

Whatever happens make sure you have a good support network, friends family, other clergy, mentor or Spiritual Director.

 

10. Not everyone has a great Curacy

There’s so much more I could say but this has to be the final point for now. No matter how good your planning or how much prayer and discernment has gone into it, your curacy may have issues.

For example: your TI gets another job, leaves or goes on sick leave, leaving you holding the fort; you just don’t get on with or disagree hugely with your TI; the expectations put on you are too much; you have a falling out with someone in the congregation, to name just a few.

If you find yourself struggling, please please please don’t suffer in silence. It can be easy to feel like you are new to this and shouldn’t complain or that is might be partly your fault, or will you jeopardise your future if you ask for help. If appropriate talk to your TI first off, or if not then the Archdeacon, or person who oversees Curates. Get advice, help and support and don’t be fobbed off if you really need it.

In some cases it might mean moving curacy, this is rare but not as rare as you might think. If it does happen, don’t panic. Get support where you can and don’t take it to heart, especially at the start of your ordained life.

 

…o0O0o…

So there you go, a few thoughts on what I’ve learned this year. I”m sure there is plenty more (I mean for a start I haven’t even mentioned Jesus –  #EpicFail – so if you’ve been through this already and have other points to add, do let me know and I’ll include them. And if you’re about to start Curacy, I hope it goes really well! If I can help or answer any questions do let me know.

 

Calling, Vocation and Discernment

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A few times recently people have asked me about why I wanted to become a Vicar. Thing is I didn’t want to, it was just I felt God calling me to it. And to be honest I was in denial about the whole thing for quite some time. I wrote about it at various points on the blog so this is just a bit of a round up of those posts that were written when I was wrestling with it all. If you are interested in my journey to ordination, perhaps are seeking your own, or maybe just thinking about vocation and purpose, then these may or may not be interesting!

Purpose – This was written the first time I started to voice something around that sense of calling that was going on inside me. 
A Calling – Actually starting to think about ministry.
The O Word – Finally giving in and thinking about ordination
10 reasons not to be a Vicar – wrestling with it all
Life Changes – admitting defeat and seeing my Parish Priest
Meeting the DDO – approaching seeing the DDO 
Rebelling – being a rebel in the church
DDO Update –  last visit to DDO
Approaching BAP and plenty of doubt
General later post on Vocation/Calling
Lastly this is my free Guide to the Discernment Process in the CofE if you are looking into what it means to be ordained in the CofE, this looks in depth at what you might experience. Useful for other denominations or situations too but it is focussed on the CofE process.

 

 

 

Becoming a Revd…

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Selfie with my fellow trainees from SEITE as we head off to the cathedral

So. That’s it. No going back. I am now Revd. Jules Middleton… arghhh!!!!

Wow even typing that makes me start to well up!

How did this happen I ask myself? Why did this happen? What on earth was God thinking?! I am still having those moments of ‘why would he call someone like me?’

However, it is also completely amazing. I am so excited, proud, overjoyed and delighted to be doing what I am doing. A few days ago I was officially introduced at my new church at 4 different services and met so many lovely people (whose names I have probably forgotten already), and I just feel so ready for this and so excited for this new season.

…o0O0o…

So back up a bit, and a quick recap on last week.

So, last Wednesday we went off on silent retreat, 15 of us ordinands together, some of us had met before, not others. We were thrown in together at a wonderfully quirky retreat centre in West Sussex, run by four little old Indian nuns who were as lovely as you would imagine, with seemingly permanent serene smiles on their faces.

Our few days were mostly in silence, although in the end even the most serious of us were laughing out loud at the farting noises of the tea machine. Days were punctuated with the regularity of daily prayer and addresses from our lovely retreat leader, Jane Charman, encouraging us to reflect on what it means to be a deacon.

Got to admit I was a bit anxious in advance and feeling like, I just want to get on with the job, but it was exactly what I, if not all of us, needed. Right at the start we nearly all expressed a desire to rest, to be still, to read our bibles, pray and prepare as we had all come from manic schedules, house moves, assignment finishing and in my case last minute clerical wear fine tuning.

I am the kind of person who needs to have a purpose to things, so I set out with a list of things to ‘do’ on the retreat, like researching women of the bible or reading one of the 4 books I had brought with me, and initially I found it hard to settle, not wanting to waste the time I had. However God clearly had other ideas and in our first evening prayer our Psalm was 91 which some of you might remember was so important to me last summer when I was going through my back injury and surgery

 

And it was under his wing that I felt I was, I didn’t need to ‘do’ anything, just to be there, to rest and to focus on him. As you probably know by now, I’m not a formal liturgy person but at almost every session of daily prayer there was something that God highlighted to me, a line of scripture, a word, phrase or encouragement, so that I just knew he was with me every step of the way.

And as it turned out, it was exactly what we all needed as we hit the ground running on Saturday, arriving at the cathedral to be ushered from rehearsal, to meeting with the Bishop, to prayer, to saying our oaths, to finally the service itself.

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Photo from Diocese of Chichester, taken by Jim Holden

And the service was amazingly wonderful, with it’s endless formal liturgy, singing of prayers and massive amounts of clerical wear and I surprised myself that I flippin’ loved it all! Though I had to remember where to be and when to kneel and got lost during the peace and missed my queue to go up the the high altar and sobbed during administering communion and looked like a bright white tent and was so out of my comfort zone, I absolutely loved it. God is so good :)

So, the next chapter starts here…

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Photo from Diocese of Chichester, taken by Jim Holden

 

Pre-ordination blur and making a stole

So in just a few days time I will be ordained deacon at Chichester Cathedral. It’s fair to say the last few weeks have been pretty manic with moving house and leaving my job etc, so that I am absolutely delighted to be going off to the oasis that is the pre-ordination retreat on Wednesday. So by the time this posts, I will be on it, madly praying my way through panic, feeling overwhelmed and yet also pathetically grateful to an awesome God who I still just don’t understand (will I ever?!)

I start work the day after my ordination and I think I might be a wee bit busy for a few weeks and whilst I know there will be much to reflect on I’m not sure how much time I will have to write about it, so I’m hoping to schedule a few posts here ahead of time and will come back to fill in the blanks later. If you want to keep up with me day to day, try Twitter @redjules or Facebook.

In the meantime, here’s something about my ordination stole…

So, a stole is a sort of scarf worn round the neck and there are various different liturgical colours for different times of the year. The origins of the stole seem sketchy but one thought, which I rather like, is that it was a representation of the cloth Jesus used when he washed the disciples feet, so it is a symbol of service. In our diocese you don’t have to wear one for ordination if it isn’t your tradition. It isn’t mine but I still really liked the idea of wearing something special and so I decided if I was going to wear one then I wanted to make my own, then it would also be something to keep for the future and treasure. With this in mind I decided to use my wedding dress which has been in the wardrobe for the last 15 years, in fact it hasn’t even been dry cleaned since the wedding! Apart from the obvious fact that it is a special garment, I loved the idea of using the symbolism of the wedding, at my ordination. In Revelation 19 we see the wedding feast of the lamb, symbolically referring to Christ’s bride as the church. At the second coming, Christ will return for his bride, to take her home. I love this picture, especially for us working in the church, that we really do have a responsibility to prepare the church for Jesus. Do we want a bride looking shabby and in tatters on her wedding day? or do we (as most of us would) want her looking beautiful, radiant and in her best outfit? 

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So in using my wedding dress to make this, it reminds me of this passage, of the responsibility I shall bear, the beauty of what God is calling me in to, and the joining with both Christ and his church in a new way.

I designed a pattern that makes it more personal, so there are some key themes: Foundation: Love; Belief: Trinity; Encounter: Holy Spirit.

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Foundation – if you read this blog or have heard me preach you’ll know my main theme at the moment is love, it is such a fundamental foundation and I hope it will underpin all that I do in ordained ministry. So I’ve embroidered hearts on to the stole.  This is the root of all.

Belief – I believe in the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I wanted to reference this as a core belief (and funnily enough I am going to be at a church called ‘Trinity’). The three pearls put together in clusters represent the Trinity. This is what I believe.

Encounter – I long for more of the Holy Spirit – it is through the Holy Spirit that we encounter God for ourselves, and more and more I realise that people need an encounter rather than a history lesson. So the lines weaving up represent the Holy Spirit fire of Pentecost. This is my desire to see again.

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I also love that in making this I used things from my heritage: in this pic are my Mum’s dress making scissors and my Nan’s old pins. Plus some of the beads belonged to my Nan, my Mum and my oldest daughter.

It has been totally crazy trying to finish this in the last few days before going on retreat but I reckon it’s worth it!

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Ember Cards

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If I had £1 for every time someone asked me what an ’ember card’ is in recent weeks, I’d be able to pay for all my clerical wear with the proceeds. And I’ve got to admit, it slightly amuses me that me, a definitely ‘improper Anglican’ to coin a term from a Twitter friend, is doing something quite traditional. So here’s a bit of an explanation…

Firstly, let me admit I only heard about ember cards because fellow ordinands have talked about them, but the short explanation is what it says on the card below, that traditionally those approaching ordination send them out to ask for prayer for them and their parish.  As you know I don’t really do traditional, but I do do prayer and I do love cards and design and nice things like that :) That said, usually they are pretty boring and dull and so I wanted to do something a bit different (no surprise there then) and asked my fab friend Mark at Sublime to design something for me and I love it! Not boring, not traditional, but still what it needs to be.

So ember cards, what? why? who? well it’s interesting that when I decided to get some done I wanted to do a bit of research and find out what they are all about and there seems to be very little info out there, but here’s some basic bits if you want to know…

Ember cards are sent out as part of Ember seasons or weeks, or even days. Ember Days are days set aside by the church for prayer and fasting and have been since the 4th Century AD in ancient Rome. As seasons of prayer and fasting it was considered a good time for ordination of clergy and like many things the Anglican church inherited the idea from Rome.

This Ember Season is between Pentecost and Trinity Sunday, i.e: this week. Although the focus on times of prayer for ordination has become more of a focus now, rather than just being seasons of prayer. The CofE says this:

Ember Days should be kept, under the bishop’s directions, in the week before an ordination as days of prayer for those to be made deacon or priest. Ember Days may also be kept even when there is no ordination in the diocese as more general days of prayer for those who serve the Church in its various ministries, both ordained and lay, and for vocations. Traditionally they have been observed on the Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays within the weeks before the Third Sunday of Advent, the Second Sunday of Lent and the Sundays nearest to 29 June and 29 September.

(My ordination will be 25th June).

So, at these times of year those being ordained send out cards asking for prayer. I can’t find any information on how the sending of cards started (so if anyone knows more I’d love to know!), but perhaps it was a way of letting people know you were being ordained, at a time when communication was harder and took longer than it does today. Many people went away to train for ministry (many still do) and so would have left behind their original or sending church, friends and often family, so it would have been a nice connection to send back information on the ordination itself and asking for prayer from those who had nurtured them in their faith before training.

Whilst I am naturally a pioneer, looking to do things differently or improve things, I am still part of the Church of England and I embrace that. So in sending the card I feel part of the wider church, whilst also making it a bit different. I chose to put an explanation on the card as most people I send it to won’t have a clue why I’m sending it. Plus traditionally you ask for prayer for the parish you are going to, but I wanted to include the one I am coming from that has seen me through training, nurtured me and loved me in it all. Usually people include a prayer and again, many people I send this to won’t be regular pray-ers, but I wanted to find a way to reach them and I thought the most familiar prayer is The Lord’s Prayer so there is a chance people will have heard of it or may have even prayed it at school. And as I say on the card, it does express so much of what we need daily: to be provided for, to be kept safe from evil and to experience God’s kingdom on earth.

For me also, the realisation of what I am stepping into becomes ever more real each day and I recognise the need for prayer more than ever. This is only something I can with God leading me, so please do pray for me as I approach ordination, and of course beyond…

 

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Limbo // The Curate’s Journey

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I feel like I am in limbo.

It’s a funny old place to be at the moment with one thing ending and a new one not yet begun. I know I wrote about being in transition recently, but this is worse. I had told myself I wouldn’t begin to process it all until after my Easter study week. Unfortunately for me Easter Study Week is now a memory and my own enforced deadline is here, well in fact it has passed. Cue melt down…

But for now there will be an interlude, my kids are still off school and I really need time to think and pray through things. I had a little wobble at the end of Easter School but I felt myself putting the lid firmly back on it all for now. I simply haven’t the time or energy to think through the enormity of what is about to happen.

 

Because it is flippin’ enormous, let’s face it.

 

I know a few others have been feeling the same at this stage, which is in some small part a comfort. At least it’s not just me on the verge of losing it every 5 minutes. And I’m not the only one saying: I can’t get ordained, I won’t get ordained, I don’t believe in ordination – and everything in between.

…o0O0o…

So for now I’m in ostrich mode, head in the sand, deal with what’s in front of me only. My prayer walks, usually my time to engage with God, seem to be rather bland, and whilst frustrating I feel it’s a necessary place. It’s me of course, holding him at arms length but I can’t face the open and honest prayer time that I really need right now.

 

Next week.

 

Next week I can allow myself to process.

 

Maybe…

The Curate’s Journey : The ‘O’ Word

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This CartoonChurch.com cartoon by Dave Walker originally appeared in the Church Times

 

So, let’s just recap:

: 6 months of crazy as I thought I was going insane

: 3 months of finding some peace (well, attempting to)

: a year of the discernment process, followed by ‘a year off’ to get over the remaining crazy

: 2 1/2 years of study (so far)

and, yes ladies and gents, the day is nearly here.

Yes, it’s the ‘O’ word – no not that one – I mean ORDINATION. Yes it may be a few months away but suddenly it’s all a bit real. After a visit to the Bishop’s Palace a few weeks ago I now know all that I need to know and boy is it scary.

My brain has been in overdrive: what do I wear? what do I say? who can come to the service? what happens if I faint? Will it matter if I cross my fingers? (jokes. well, slightly) Where is it? When is it? Am I going to lose it? will it matter if I have snot pouring down my face when the Bishop does his stuff? arghhhhhhh…

Ok, I may have slightly begun to lose it. I think the truth is, it’s the sudden reality that I am actually getting ordained. As much as I may have prayed for God to shut the door he hasn’t. In fact I think he’s probably standing there holding it wide open smirking at me smugly.

This is the culmination of years of prep and planning and of course an absolute mountain of prayer but talking of the thing itself makes me come out in a cold sweat. All those old thoughts: Am I worthy enough (no of course not), Does everyone think that? (probably but if not they should do) Can I do this? (doubt it – only with God’s help), what on earth was God thinking? (well you could ask him), and so on…

I know the service itself is really just a point on the horizon, end of training but beginning of doing it for real, although as I already work for the church it’s more like a job change. As a family we kind of had this ‘thing’ of not really thinking about it all until ‘after Christmas’ (probably just a neat way of sticking our heads in the sand) but the thing is, now it is ‘after Christmas’ and there’s no more putting it off. We have to plan. We need to rent our house out, think about moving to a new one (if they ever find us one…), plan for new school runs (although thankfully the younger two are staying at the same school so that’s one less worry), plan for leaving my job, planning handover, saying goodbyes. Oh yes it is real and time is flying by.

Suddenly there’s stacks of forms to fill in, yet another DBS check to do (seriously I have about 4 already), certificates to find (yup. any qualification needs to be prove, cue one trip to the back of the loft cupboard for the husband), and meetings to be had. Not to mention the 5 essays I still need to hand in.

Then there’s the whole service, to which we get given a grand total of 20 tickets. Yes just 20, in a cathedral that must seat about 1000. This means we basically have to rank our friends in some form to decide who gets the tickets.  As for the other questions, I guess we will find out on the day whether it matters if I totally lose it or faint (but please pray that I don’t!).

So perhaps by worrying about the service itself I am still sticking my head in the sand, but that’s my current focus and I shall enjoy it thank you very much.

But I do now know exactly what I need to wear – which for a charismatic like me was an interesting discussion, I can tell you – but I can now name the items I need to wear. Why thank you, yes I do deserve a medal. I mean really, what is an alb when it’s at home? and why is it such a random word? and whilst we are on this (and I defo don’t need one of these obvs) but biretta? I mean surely that is some kind of Italian mobsters pistol no? and oh my word but have you seen some of the clerical wear out there?

 

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yellow? seriously?

 

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er, just no.

 

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ok so let’s not comment on which environment this shirt might be better suited to…

And, I rest my case…

Anyway thankfully I shall not be wearing it all that much and I’ve gone for simple and minimal. And I really do thank God for that because DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH IT ALL COSTS? well, a flippin’ lot basically. I mean this is probably one of the worst paid jobs ever (which is not something that I am bothered about I’m just making a point, just so you know) and yet the ‘uniform’ costs a small mortgage. There is, I am glad to say, a grant to get you started with this, but I tell you I will be wearing my clerical shirts until they are thread bare (funny I just managed to correct an awful but very funny typo in that sentence before going live…).

 

So if you see me in the next few months and I seem, well, a little distracted or I start twitching inanely then perhaps you will understand why…

 

 

Blogolution

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So. It’s 2016. How did that happen? I honestly think I’m still 19 sometimes.

*sighs*

2016 is going to be a whopper of a year for us. In May I finish my job – that’s the best job I’ve ever had, seriously LOVE IT.

In June I  finish my course and then…

I GET ORDAINED.

Still have no idea how this has really happened to be honest. I’m still expecting God to appear and say ‘wait, no, sorry I’ve changed my mind’ or ‘actually it wasn’t you I wanted it was that other woman’… except so far he hasn’t, so *gulp* in 6 months time I will become Revd. Jules Middleton which is kind of terrifying.

Then, (if not before) we move house and church

and of course, I will start my curacy.

So, yeah I’m not really 19 any more, heck even 39 would be nice. And this year I feel well, I guess I feel it’s like some kind of rite of passage, or milestone, like turning 18 or leaving home, it’s definitely a  pivotal point in, not just my life, but that of my family. So cue lots of reflection (my tutors would love that, we get to reflect a lot in training). So here’s a little (well not very little) blog about what’s going to happen on the blog this year…

 

 

Discernment Guide, coming soon…

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The eagle eyed among you may have noticed a new tab on the bar above. I’m afraid for the time being its not yet viewable, I’m just getting some last min checks done, proof reading and so on. But I am so delighted that finally it’s almost ready to go, the ‘Short guide to the discernment process in the Church of England’ – snappy title I know… Some of you will know I started this 2 years ago and I’ve just not had enough time to finish it until now. So with weeks of lying on my back I’ve been able to get the last bits done. I did look originally at the possibility of publishing this in print, but for several reasons I’m going to put it on my blog for now. Firstly, because it has taken so darn long I just want to be able to share it, and secondly because I actually think it will reach more people publishing online rather than in print. Ultimately the reason behind writing this was to help others in the process so the more that can be reached the better!

I aim to publish this publicly on Thursday this week, so check back then if you are interested!

 

Almost a blog birthday…

Picture via Wylio, credit: Will Clayton

So in a few days time this blog will be 5 years old! There is a birthday blog post planned for Saturday but for now I thought I might take a look back at some of the posts from the last five years…


These are some of the ones I have enjoyed the most, learned the most through or have really been written from the heart. 

  • Still one of my faves and oh so ironic, was a series of posts I wrote when I first felt called to ministry, this post was written when I was in definite denial and provoked a great conversation in the comments section.

  • Here I was wrestling with a heap of stuff, but partly the pressure of being a 21st century woman and trying to have it all, or not as the case may be.

  • Going through the selection process in the CofE, this one’s all about church leadership… (my thoughts may have changed since then!)

  • A bit of a lighthearted one on swearing

So there you go a few highlights (or low-lights maybe!). Here’s to the next five…