It turns out I actually like writing…


Friday morning.

I blow the dust off the keyboard. Sit down. And start to type.

The choice lurks. To continue

with a style of slow.

Or to find the chatty voice,

the recaller of time and space which I have inhabited, dwelt in

throughout this month.

Friday morning

I blow the dust off the keyboard, sit down, and start to type.

It’s too hard to keep up that style of writing, so I’ll go on with a good old Friday round up style, my traditional space for reflecting on the week just gone.

It’s been a month or so since I wrote, and whilst that might be good on one level, I call myself a writer and the whole deal with being a writer is that you write. So here I am again.

I hesitate to name it out loud but I’m pretty sure this January was one of my best on record (see other January blogposts for the record). I’m not a frozen tree frog anymore (read that post if you have a small baby or toddlers, it gets better, it really does..). I haven’t drunk my way through many bottles of wine to survive this month. I haven’t bemoaned my existence for more than about a day or two and all in all it’s been a surprisingly ok time. The grey murk hasn’t helped much but there have been days of sunshine and blue skies, days which always help my soul start to believe in good things again.

There have been threads throughout the month. I’m into threads and themes at the moment, as a way to reflect on my life, watching them weaving through my days. I prefer calling them threads rather than plates to spin or items to juggle to keep up in the air.

Thread 1. My Spiritual Direction course.

This term we’ve been on a journey through a whole load of different spiritualities, the Celts, Ignatius, the Mystics, Benedict and the Desert Mothers and Fathers. It’s been a fascinating ride through the history of people trying to connect deeper with God. I’ve loved seeing the things these people all had in common in trying to get a grip on who God is and God’s involvement in our lives. We’ve also started getting a bit more serious about practising being spiritual directors with each other. It’s fairly intense to try and listen to a part of someone’s life whilst three other people write down observations on your listening skills, but I think it’s teaching me good things. I’ve got a long way to go but it’s a fascinating process to try and notice what God is up to in someone’s life, together with them.

Thread 2. Work.

I have really enjoyed the addition of a new team member into the mix of life working for the lovely One Church Brighton. Sam is our new Associate Minister and it’s been a joy to work with him over the last couple of months. I thrive working in a team and it feels more team like than ever which is a Good Thing. I feel glad to have this job, privileged and curious as to God will do in the next few months in our beautiful messy broken church. 

Thread 3. Family life

We have lived another month, the boys have gone to school and we help them through their large emotions after school, they fight, they adore each other, they fight again. We talk about huge topics like heaven and the moral of all the films we’ve watched. We sing songs replacing key words with the word Poo (no idea when that stops being funny…). We laugh, we cry, I feel like I’m stuck on repeat most mornings and wish for a robot to say, ‘get dressed, get ready, put your shoes on’. We read books, we play Mario Odyssey and they sweetly encourage me or tell me to get Daddy to get through the hard bit. We snuggle on sofas. We sleep (finally, we have hit a spot where they both sleep in their own bed all night… 7 years on. Past Kath- you’ll get there. Future Kath, don’t hate me for jinxing it by saying it out loud). They can swim and have opinions on life, they are not babies or toddlers or preschoolers anymore. They are growing taller and taller and are like two giant puppy dogs who orbit my world.

Husbandface ploughs on, not better but not hugely worse. I look back over the last 4 years and ponder the journey we have come on. I feel less panicky, less alone, less fearful. We are more mindful of the ups and downs, we wait out this latest downward spiral with more hope than last time. We smile at each other and watch more Grey’s Anatomy under blankets, wine in hand, waiting for the storm to pass once more. We also got to see ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ in London this month which was an amazing musical, it might have exhausted us for a week after but it was so worth it.


Thread 4: Sabbath/self care.

January was all about Sabbath, we pondered it as a church and I had many conversations about what Sabbath might be about which various different people. I went back to the lovely Eugene Peterson’s writing about it and remembered why I need Sabbath times.

“One of the ways God has provided for us to stay aware of and responsive to him as the determining and centering reality of our lives, in a world that doesn’t care about it, is by sabbath-keeping. At regular intervals we all need to quit our work and contemplate his, quit talking to each other and listen to him. God knows we need this and has given us a means in Sabbath- a day for praying and playing, simply enjoying what he is.” (E. Peterson)

I need time with God, time to remember that I can trust God’s provision, that filling my week with stuff to try and validate my existence isn’t necessary. I can opt to stop, to hang out with the One who really does validate my existence, who speaks words of love over me, who called me Beloved and is the foundation of my life. So, I’ve done more of that this month, more time sitting quietly in the arms of the one who loves me most. I’ve had more times intentionally getting outside and stomping on the downs, by myself and with friends, talking through how life is. I relate most to God on walks and so I’ve walked.

Thankfully walking also helps my body feel good and my mind be at peace, so maybe Sabbath helps me take care of myself so I have more ability to care for those around me. Maybe there is something in this hanging out with God thing after all…

I’ve also read a whole load of books, been on runs, taken care of my back, listened to some amazing music and done the stuff I know will help my soul be ok.

Thread 5: Noticing my monthly cycle.

I’m pretty sure I’ve written about this before but this month was a brilliant month to notice my body and how my menstrual cycle was affecting me. I read ‘Period’ which is a brilliant book all people should read to help make it normal to talk about something which affects over half the population of the world. I then had a wonderfully normal monthly cycle, some months it never quite works out in such a text book way but this month was brilliantly predictable. I had two weeks of super joy, high energy and feeling on top of the world. I then sunk into tiredness and had a day in bed exhausted, I levelled off into low energy and then into a week of fairly high sensitivity and sadness. Things that I hadn’t thought about for a while came back into my head, I grieved the loss of community from our last church and felt sad and a bit disconnected from life, and then my period came. I found it so helpful noticing all that was going on, it didn’t mean my sadness wasn’t real, it was just highlighting a grief that was there, which could then be acknowledged and felt.  I feel a bit differently this week after being fairly high energy again and able to see a wider picture of community happening in different ways.  It’s fascinating to notice all that goes on in my head and body, I’m sure not everything is down to my monthly cycle but lots appears to be and it’s good to ride the rollercoaster with that in mind.

And there we are.

Happy Friday to you all.

How’s your month been?

Posted in Life on the journey | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Books I read 2019

Here’s the list with my must reads (there are gems amongst the others but these are the solid diamonds) of the year in bold…

1. Milkman – Anna Burns

2. The Sermon on the Mount and Human Flourishing – J.T.Pennington

3. 84K- Claire North

4. How to be Famous – Catlin Moran

5. Rewild Yourself – Simon Barnes

6. Mystics and Misfits- Christiana Peterson

7. An Absolutely Remarkable Thing – Hank Green.

8. The Greatest Love Story Ever Told- Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally

9. Hello World- Hannah Fry.

10. Dogs of War – Adrian Tchaikovsky

11. Very Married – Katherine Willis Pershey

12. Michelle Obama- Becoming. 

13. Let Me Lie- Claire Mackintosh

14. Shadow Doctor- Adrian Plass. 

15. The Sin of Certainty- Peter Enns

16. The Bible Tells Me So- Peter Enns. 

17. Uncommon Type- Tom Hanks

18. Shameless- Nadia Bolz-Weber

19. The Immortalists- Chloe Benjamin 

20. Becoming Friends of Time – John Swinton. 

21. Phoebe – Paula Gooder

22. Searching for Sunday- Rachel Held Evans.

23. Middle England – Jonathan Coe

24. The Outrun- Amy Liptrot

25. Being Christian- Rowan Williams

26. The Salt Path- Raynor Winn

27. The Core of the Sun- Johanna Sinisalo

28. The Clockmakers Daughter- Kate Morton

29. Trials of Morrigan Crow- Jessica Townsend

30. Spiritual Direction- Sue Pickering.

31. End of the World Running Club- Adrian J Walker

32. The Day the World Came to Town- Jim Defied

33. Where the Crawdad’s Sing- Delia Owens

34. Normal People- Sally Rooney

35. Ordinary People- Diana Evans

36. The Great Alone- Kristin Hannah

37. The book you wish your parents had read and your children will be glad you did- Philippa Perry

38. Inspired- Rachel Held Evans

39. Beast Quest- Adam Blade (can’t remember the title but it was something along the lines of Magma the bone cruncher)

40. Cressida Cowell- Knock Three TImes (Wizards of Once series)

41. Walking Away -Simon Armitage

42. When I lost you – Merylin Davies

43. The Confession- Jessie Burton

44. The Power of Belonging – Will Van der Hart and Rob Waller

45. Walking back to Happiness- Penelope Swithinbank

46. Orkney- Amy Sackville

47. East of Croydon – Sue Perkins

48. Unsheltered- Barbara Kingsolver

49. Handmaids Tale- Margaret Atwood

50. Escaping the Maze of Spiritual Abuse- Lisa Oakley and Justin Humphreys

51. The Examined Life- Stephen Grosz

52. Today will be different- Maria Semple

53. Period- Emma Barnett

54. A Sky Painted Gold- Laura Wood

55. Akin- Emma Donoghue

56. Padraig O’Tuama – In the Shelter

I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the rest of my Christmas haul in the long bleak month before us… (January is for duvets and books right?)


Posted in books | Leave a comment

Books I’ve read Nov- Dec Edition…

It’s that time when I hurriedly finish the last of my books of the year and get ready my final list of books I read over the year. Before that list, here are the ones I’ve managed to get through in this month of trying to hibernate for winter.

Orkney- Amy Sackville

This follows a university lecturer in his late 60s and a former student in her early 20s who he has just married throughout their honeymoon on Orkney.  It’s a really unsatisfying read, the characters are fairly irritating and mysterious, you have no sense of relationship between them and there is no real connection with either of them. However, it is beautifully written and hauntingly descriptive of their location, which I think is why I finished it. All round, it was a bit of an odd book.

East of Croydon – Sue Perkins

I love Sue Perkins, I loved reading this account of her travels in Asia making some documentaries for the BBC.  Lots of fun and fairly poignant at times. Worth a read.

Padriag O’Tuama- In the Shelter

I find it hard to put into words how brilliant and wonderful I found this book. It warmed my soul, it helped me embrace the Here of our lives, it moved me and helped me long to see God in the everyday ordinary moments of my life. I love the poetry of this man and the beautiful way he writes. Gushing over. Just beautiful nourishment for the soul.

 Unsheltered- Barbara Kingsolver

Interesting novel following lives on a small town street in America, alternating chapters set in the 1870’s and in the present day. Really interesting insights into the contrasts between baby boomers and their children and what we all expect out of life. Not earth shatteringly great but pretty good.

Handmaids Tale- Margaret Atwood

I read this again because I wanted to read The Testament and couldn’t remember much of the original story. It’s a fairly horrifically bleak vision of the future where women are used as servants or in the desperate search for babies in an infertile world. I did wonder if it would have been a different novel if it had been written from today’s world and not the relatively emerging feminist world of the 80s. There’s probably a conversation worth having about that if anyone fancies it as I’m not sure I’m coherent enough tonight to articulate my thoughts about this.

Escaping the Maze of Spiritual Abuse- Lisa Oakley and Justin Humphreys

If you are in church work, if you help out at a church, if you have any leadership role in a church in any capacity you should read this book. It’s really helpful to start the conversation about how to create healthy church environments and safe places where people aren’t coerced into behaving in certain ways. It’s a really important read in thinking about where the power dynamics lie in our churches and to help us all examine how we use the power we have in relationships with each other. A sadly very necessary read.

The Examined Life- Stephen Grosz

A fascinating insight into the conversations this therapist has had with clients over the years. Written to help us be aware that it’s good to think about why we do the things we do or feel the way we feel. A really interesting read.

Today will be different- Maria Semple

I really enjoyed this novel written with in a fairly Dave Eggers Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius style (but with a female protagonist). We follow a fairly messed up person having a messy day in Seattle with her kid in tow. It felt fresh, interesting and unexpected.

Period- Emma Barnett

Brilliant book encouraging us to just talk normally about periods. They happen to pretty much half the population and yet we still talk about them in hushed tones, find it odd to mention when we are struggling because of them and clothe them in an unhelpful aura of mystery. A book that says, let’s stop now and just be normal about this bodily function which affects so much of our lives. They aren’t dirty, taboo, weird and they don’t make women unclean. I’m hoping for a similar book about the menopause to ideally come out in this next decade.

A Sky Painted Gold- Laura Wood

A beautiful book set in Cornwall in the 1920’s as a local girl gets caught up in the dazzling lives of rich young things down from London and their endless series of summer parties. It draws heavily on The Great Gatsby and I Capture the Castle and is deeply beautiful and thoughtful in it’s own right. A fascinating coming of age novel.

Akin- Emma Donoghue

I was looking forward to this as I loved Room but I was fairly underwhelmed by the story of a 80 year old American man heading back to Nice to find his French roots. He goes with his 11 year old great nephew who has come to live with him as his only next of kin. It’s the story of them bickering in France, eventually finding some kind of meaningful relationship with some underlying tension about the man’s past thrown into the mix. I may have missed something profound as I was extremely tired when I finished this but it didn’t really grab me in any way.

Posted in books | Tagged | Leave a comment

Advent 24

Christmas Eve.

Slightly, maybe, more than ever, I’ve not felt the Christmas vibe. I think that’s because really at this time of year all I want to do is hibernate, read books, drink red wine and wait out the winter. I don’t really want to have a month and a half of Christmas events, overexcited kids who are super grumpy or super bouncing off the walls.

Maybe in the insanity of Christmas and the BIG emotions that we all feel, which seem to be echoed larger and larger, are just a whole big melting pool of stuff which leaves us desperate, thirsty for real water, for the refreshment of a God who comes and walks amongst us, who became small, who entered our world and is a bringer of hope, light, safety and peace.


And so to my last search for wonder before switching social media off for a while and hunkering down with a good book every now and again. I’ll be back with round ups of the year and my final list of books read in a week or so.


Walking up to the Chattri (a memorial site on the South Downs for Indian Soldiers who fought in the second world war) with our lovely friends who are family. Being deeply honoured that the teenagers joined us that early in the morning. Son2 finally doing the walk without complaints.

Heading down to our local community centre tonight, to hear carols, eat sugar and be reminded that we are totally embedded in this lovely community. Loving seeing friends, people from school, from our old church, from just down the road and enjoying belting out many carols loudly.

Deeply amused by the boys new found belief in Santa, they’ve left food out for him and instructed their soft toys to keep an eye out. We’ve never bothered with Father Christmas (I know, controversial in some circles but utterly normal in others, lets not fight eh) but I love them getting into the game entirely on their own.

Happy Christmas one and all. Have good times remembering that it’s a day, it is what it is and the point might just be the one who stepped into the madness with us.

Posted in Advent | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Advent 23


And breathe. In and out. In and out.


In and out.

One more day to get through for the small overtired ones.

One more day until we remember the heart of this story we are all part of, a God who stepped into the world as one of us. A God who is our with us. Our Emmanuel. One more day.

The wonder of today was found through tired eyes once more: Managing 6am food shopping. Planning the vague plan for the Christmas Day service and getting excited about the stuff of Christmas pointing to the bigger realities that make up our lives. Making us all have some vit D with a walk along the seafront. Naps on the sofa. Cuppa with my lovely friend who feels like part of family. Taking the super crazy small ones to the park and enjoying maybe at least 30 minutes of seeing the fresh air work it’s magic on their tired bodies. Oh and this beautiful song sent to me by the lovely Binface which made me cry.

(Son1: “What would I call her if I didn’t call her Auntie Binface?)

Posted in Advent | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Advent 22


Mary, Joseph and Donkey off to the stable… 

Lots of my favourite carols this morning:

Angels from the realms of glory,
Wing your flight o’er all the earth;
Ye who sang creation’s story,
Now proclaim Messiah’s birth
Come and worship,
Come and worship,
Worship Christ, the newborn King!

Shepherds, in the fields abiding,
Watching o’er your flocks by night,
God with man is now residing,
Yonder shines the infant Light;
Come and worship,
Come and worship,
Worship Christ, the newborn King!

O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight

It came upon the midnight clear, that glorious song of old
From angels bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold
Peace on the earth, goodwill to men, from heav’n’s all gracious king
The world in solemn stillness lay to hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come with peaceful wings unfurl
And still their heavenly music floats, O’er all the weary world.
Above its sad and lowly plains they bend on hovering wing
And ever o’er its Babel sounds the blessed angels sing.

O ye, beneath life’s crushing load, whose forms are bending low
Who toil along the climbing way with painful steps and slow
Look now for glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing
O rest beside the weary road and hear the angels sing.

For lo the days are hastening on, by prophets seen of old
When with the ever circling years shall come the time foretold
When the new heaven and earth shall own the prince of peace their King
And the whole world send back the song which now the angels sing.

It’s the sad weary beauty of that last one which gets me every time. (also son1’s very right question of why are these songs all about men? Maybe there is hope for the next generation…)

A sermon on peace, shalom, wholeness, flourishing. Trying to work out what that looks like in our family of over exhausted, over stimulated boys and, let’s face it, adults. Trying to curb the instinct to fill all time and remember to go slow. We all need it. It is not failure to rest and stop.

Catching up with our lovely Godson and his family. Warmth of familiar spaces and people.

Deciding not to take most of the weary in our family to the Carol Service tonight, one kind of had to be there for AV duties but the rest of us are early bed and rest. Hoping the rest works on the pale faces and dark circled eyes.


Posted in Advent | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Advent 21


The shortest day.

When you and your family have hit the wall of extreme tiredness.

Incredibles 2. Masterchef. Library. Counting Christmas lights on the way home from the Library.

Weary bones.

Grateful of reminders that into the deepest dark the light dawned. We who remain in the darkness this world often offer wait, watch and long for the final dawn. Light will come.

“The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation
    and increased their joy;” Isaiah 9

The Light shines on in the [c]darkness, and the darkness did not understand it or overpower it or appropriate it or absorb it [and is unreceptive to it].” John 1

“You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.” Psalm 18

“because of the tender mercy of our God,
    by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
79 to shine on those living in darkness
    and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.” Luke 1

Posted in Advent | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment