Wondering Wednesday – on no losing my mojo


We were given these at Slimming World yesterday evening. I got the significance of giving us something just before Christmas to encourage us to keep on going. However, on looking up the meaning of the word mojo – magic spell or lucky charm I have some further reflections. In a tongue in cheek way I used to joke about waking up slim with good teeth and good hair! That for me would have been the magic spell way of losing weight – no effort on my part!

I don’t have any mojo to lose but perhaps what I do have to lose is a bit of motivation and the capacity to choose wisely or return to old habits I have learnt over the past year or so if new habits slowly lead me back to where I was in my before picture!

But taking mojo as a metaphor for motivation I want to keep it and this little bag is a great visual reminder that I have done it before and can do it again! I now have hope in an area of my life where I have had very little – I thank God for that.


Wondering Wednesdays – assessment as blessing


I have taught in some form or another for most of my career, until I read a book today I had never connected the words assessment and blessing. This concept will feed my thoughts for a while… and arose because I was on a train journey and had some time to read a book that had been on a pile of unread books for far too long! Let me share some of the insights from Harro Van Brummelen:

Thinking of assessment as a blessing rather than as a judgment or measurement involves a paradigm shift. Just think of the consequences of this metaphor. A blessing is a sign of favor that leads to well-being and productivity. Assessment as a blessing then serves as a way to support rather than to test students and their learning. Students will sense that teachers use assessment to work with them. They see that teachers will help them to develop and apply concepts, insights, abilities and creative gifts, ones that will enable them to make positive contributions to life in society. Assessment enables. It offers growth. It is a blessing, a gift, that leads to new and deeper learning (p98).

Our assessment procedures and actions similarly ought to provide tangible evidence to our students that they have worth as individuals, that we appreciate genuine effort, that we want to help them use their strengths and overcome or deal with their limitation, and that they can achieve a special calling where they can make the most of their gifts (p100).

I need to consider my approach to marking afresh and think more about how formative assessment may result in blessing…

Harro Van Brummelen Student Assessment: Hitting the Mark or Lighting the Candle in Ken Badley and Harro Van Brummelen 2012 Metaphors We Teach By Eugene Wipf and Stock 89-108

Honest Christianity – fire extinguisher faith

By the bin in our Kitchen we have a fire extinguishe. it is handily near our cooker and it is comforting to have one in case there is a fire.

There are lots of ways we use and apply this metaphor to our faith.

Many folks have been taken by the idea of the difference between deficit and asset models in working with people – the difference between thinking they are lacking or have deficits or have assets and something to contribute.

A fire extinguisher faith originally seemed to me to be a deficit model of faith. I have a problem, my faith is sitting in the corner of the room in case I have a crisis, so I go and get it, pick it up, use my faith to seek to solve the problem. We have fire extinguishers as a precaution , just in case , we carry on our normal lives, cooking etc

Historically, this way of drawing upon our faith has not been valued, we should be applying our faith to all aspects of our life, all of the time. But is this the only way to look at this?

Fire extinguishers need testing to check if they are working properly. Perhaps this is a valid reason why the metaphor of having a fire extinguisher faith is justifiable. That we know that our faith is there should there be an emergency and that we get it out on a regular basis, to check that it still works, and then when the fires happen, if they are accidental or arson, we can be secure that we have the resources to handle them. And also we know that some fires are so out of control, we call 999, 911 or the equivalent.

Friday photo – soaring in the sky

paraglidingThis picture lifts my spirits, I took it the othe week when we were walking at Malvern.  I have worked very hard for many months on a range of things and somehow so many came together this week and professionally I felt as if I was soaring in the sky rather than being at the bottom of the hill daunted about the task.  I finally sent off a final draft of my thesis to some readers to see what else needs doing before I submit it – very liberating to feel like the end (hopefully) is in sight – nearly five years of work so far!  I also filled in my third year curacy review, time goes so fast but it was exciting to see how I had grown since that first sunday post ordination!  Today I sent off a journal article on metaphors for working with young people with cancer for peer review and hopefully publication at some point in the future.  It was one of those occasions when the work I do at Birmingham Children’s Hospital and CYM came together and some of the thinking and reading I had done in the past helped with exploring our research.  I am under no illusions that each week can be like this but it has been lovely to feel that sense of freedom and achievement.

Friday photo – which God?


This was the screensaver playing in Chapel during our community week at work.  I have no idea who created it or how they did it but I loved the way different names or images of God kept coming at me and how they looked like they had been written by so many different people.  Today I am looking at God as the refreshing spring of life and hope at some point to walk by some water to give sound and visual stimuli to that reflection.  I am grateful to have such a multi-faceted God who reveals new dimensions and who is mediated in so many different ways…

A Bishop, a lion and a lamb


When  I grow old I would like to be like the Bishop who  led our confirmation service last night – full of faith and passion to communicate it to those who gathered on a wet Thursday night at Hodge Hill Church!  I was his deacon – his little helper – for the evening and he was so gracious with me even though it was very much one of my hit and hope occasions where I didn’t fully know what I was doing but tried my best!

If you read this blog regularly you will know that I love metaphors and the Bishop’s sermon last night was about a lion and a lamb complete with taped real life lions and lambs roaring and baaing!  This linked to a reading from Revelation 5 which talks about the Lion of Judah and the lamb who was slain.  What was left in my memory though were the posters he bought with him which stood each side of the communion table – lamb to self, lion to others.  The first statement is a message I need to hear again and again – when things go wrong or I make mistakes or I disappoint my self then treating myself with the gentleness, playfulness inherent in the image of a lamb is so much more helpful to me.  The image too of Jesus the shepherd coming after me when I get a little lost has always been one that has comforted me (Luke 15.1-7).  When I think of a lion to others I think about God’s desire to see the weak protected, his compassion for the poor and the way that Jesus defended the rights of those who were unable to do so themselves and sometimes it needs the courage and ferocity of a lion to fight alongside and where necessary on behalf of those who need it.  This may have nothing to do with what the Bishop actually preached but as with all good metaphors we take them and play with them and they mediate meaning to us!



Messy beauty


One of my favourite  childhood memories is walking down country lanes looking at wildflowers with my Grandma.  The hedgerows that we used to walk along are long gone as is my Grandma but she shared her knowledge and passion with me and a bit of her now lives on in me.  I live less than a mile away from Spaghetti Junction in Birmingham so hedgerows are not part of my regular walks from home but this week I have been staying in a village for a study week. Late in the afternoon we have been going for a walk and again I have been struck by the beauty of hedgerows.  But hedgerows are not neat and orderly, they are not well manicured, they are messy but they have an amazing beauty.  This week hedgerows containing primroses, bluebells and violets with a few dead leaves, twigs, and bits of grass boundaried the footpath.

A lot of time I live with such messiness.  When I look at my life there are lots of almost competing elements, some bits struggling to grow, things that have died and need to be cleared up, things that are growing, in blossom or just waiting to flower not to mention the ever lurking ivy with its potential to choke the growth of other plants.  When I looked at the hedgerow and took this picture I almost missed the fragile little violet. I need to regularly reflect on my life and take notice of what the violets might be, what I might be missing unless I look closely. Sometimes it might be a person, other times a task, a post on a social networking site I need to respond to, or it could even be that I just need to spend some time just looking. I love playing with metaphors and they help me to reflect on and understand what God is doing in my life and today messy beauty is an image I want to dwell on.