How Did It Go? and What Next?

Our Turqoise Table

Christmas seems so long ago. There was so much prayer and preparation that went into our first Community Carols around the Turquoise Table. We painted our angel friendship stones and hid them around the local streets. We were delighted when people were posting pictures in our Facebook group of their little ones proudly clutching their stones.

On the night of the event, we decorated the garden. It had rained for several days before and it rained the day after but God was good. It was immensely cold, dry and the stars were shining. Elodie had hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows at the ready, Ruth had Christmas colouring under the gezebo for restless children, Kevin had prepared the carols. And we waited. At half past six, nearly forty people from the community, turned up to sing carols and hear the Christmas story. The children brought their angel stones to place around our nativity scene. And a lovely time was had by all.

In the week leading up to Christmas, we placed the various characters on the Turquoise Table and re-told the Christmas story, adding new characters and further narrative day by day. We posted the daily events in our Facebook group.


And now we consider how we can serve our community and share the amazing grace and love of Jesus with all who come to The Turquoise Table in 2019.

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A New Year Begins.

We are only 9 days into the New Year and I am thinking about the end of it. I have been thinking about how much I have learnt so far on my course. And yet, for everything I am learning, I am realising how much I don’t know. In December, I will be finishing this stage of the journey but 12 months does not seem long enough to build sufficient knowledge for the next stage.

When I began I thought that I would complete my lay pioneer training and that would be it. My intention was to deepen my theological knowledge, to learn techniques to effectively share my faith and to poodle around doing whatever God wanted. At 60 years old, planning retirement in Rothbury, God was never going to ask me to do anything to arduous.

Big mistake! I wonder if Noah, or Abram, or so many others had the same mindset. I can imagine Adam thinking, ‘Well, I am 130 years old, time to settle down and think about retirement’ and God saying, ‘ In your dreams, Adam, you are about to start child rearing again’. (Gen 5 V 3)

Noah, poor guy, didn’t even start a family until he was getting on bit. Fancy having to run around after not one but three kids when you get to 500 years old. (Gen 5 v 32). And if that was not physical enough God tells him to start a building project of gigantic proportions (Gen 6 v 14-16), become a zoo keeper, (Gen 7 v 2-3) and a warehouse operative (v 21).

Phew! At least Noah got to go on a long cruise when he was 600 (Gen 7 v 6). And finally, he gets to have a nice little retirement project as a Vigeron. (V20) for the next 350 years (v28.)

Maybe, I need to be praying for strength and resources for whatever God has planned for me post pioneer training. I hope He remembers. that Northumberland doesn’t have great weather for planting a vineyard. And anyway, the Lindisfarne Mead is already hit. No point in trying to compete.

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At Last! I Am Not In Trouble!

When I was a child at school, I was always being told off for being to ‘creative’ with how I presented my work. Did I really need to draw pictures to illustrate my essay? Could I not present data in a prescribed, academically acceptable way? And did I really need to look for most obscure arguments against the norms? Would I ever grow up, stop kicking against the traces, and become conventional. After all, the rules are the rules! Well, here I am at 60 years old and I have finally found the place where God gives me permission to not be ‘normal’. Hooray!

I have come to the end of the first module of my course – Pioneer Mission. I did my assessment. I handed in my assignment, fully expecting to be told that I had not followed the rules and answered the questions in the traditionally, expected way. 

Well, I have just had the feedback from the tutor :  your mapping exercise is absolutely fantastic – well done. You have really listened to your neighbourhood. I loved the drawing of the map, the table of residents and thought the contrasting table between what they said and what I heard was really insightful. It is also really good to look at the (hi)story of a place. Combined with listening to people and asking simple questions at the turquoise table has given you really rich data to use in lots of ways.

I am so relieved and encouraged. I should have realised, that the calling of a pioneer is to see the world in a different way. God made me the way I am and I am so thankful.

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The Heron and The Swan

The Journey to Rothbury

Another visit has come and gone.  And once again, we left a little more of our hearts behind. April, next year seems a long time away for our next trip but I know it will fly by as we continue to do the things God has  called us to here in Colchester.  A while ago, Andrew, my vicar, said that perhaps the rest of our time here is a preparation ground, a time of training for whatever ministry God has for us in Rothbury. I am seeing that more and more.

When I was planning this post, I was thinking that I would be waxing lyrical about the beautiful full moon we witnessed out on the Lordenshaw hills and the ancient ‘cup and rings’ Iron-age art work, or the glorious sunrise at Amble overlooking Coquet Island.

But actually, the deepest blessings came from the people we spent time with. We  have found second home at Hope Church in Bedlington.  It was good to see everyone again, especially Mary and Adrian, a lovely couple who have become good friends, and also Vivian and John. John has become very unwell and we have promised to hold this dear couple in prayer over the coming weeks and months.

One morning, as I was sitting on what has become my trysting seat, along the riverside, I was watching a very grumpy heron with his back to all the other birds who were enjoying the Autumn sunshine. Nearby  was a swan, lazily swimming in little circles. She was surrounded by ducks, who did not seem to know where to go next.  All of a sudden, the heron stretched out his wings, elongated his neck, and with a powerful leap took off to soar towards the heavens. One little grebe, left the swan and went up into the sky after him.

God reminded me that in this world, there are people who are charismatic and attract everyone around them but take them nowhere but just occasionally, there is someone who has his eyes fixed firmly on God, and if you emulate his behaviour, you too will grow closer to the Creator of heaven and earth.

As a child, I loved the ballet Swan Lake. I thought it would be magical to be a swan. As I grow older, I am beginning to realise that it is better to be a heron.


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Salt and Light

The weather was perfect, if a little cold, as Ruth, Elodie and I decorated the Turquoise Table and the front garden with lots of beautiful lights and lanterns. Meanwhile, Ayden was busy in the kitchen chopping up vegetables, pumpkins and tomatoes to turn into delicious soups for the guests, we hoped would come to our first proper community event. Yvonne had baked the star cookies.

The gifts of candles for the parents and the craft activities for the children were all in pride of place. The soups were in the slow cookers, the hot chocolate was bubbling away merrily. We had prayed, we had advertised and now we were ready and waiting. We hoped that a few of the trick and treaters would want to stop by our table to make a lantern and decorate a star biscuit, our representation of Jesus, the light of the world.

Oh Ye of  Little Faith! For two solid hours there was a constant stream of children and adults, dressed as ghosts, zombies and vampires, with a few Disney Princesses for good measure, who all experienced a little of the love of Jesus as we strived to be  ‘Salt and Light’ in our community.

So many were mystified that we were refusing to take financial donations because we just wanted to be a blessing. There were fantastic conversations as we shared how God has called us to put a bright turquoise picnic in our front garden as a gift to those around us. Everybody wanted to linger and spend time with each other. Neighbour chatting to neighbour, old friends and new friends all gathered around the Turquoise Table.

We chose not to give out sweets, but to give our time and hospitality and the loveliest part of all was the joy on the childrens faces as they said this was the best place they had been to.

Well, welcoming over a 100 guests around the Turquoise Table, smiling and laughing and being community was the best place for us too.

God is good.


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She is Off Again

It’s that time of year when Elodie is going back to university for her final year as an under-graduate. Family Stuff

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We’ve Made a Plan

Our Turqoise Table  

Halloween is a strange time for Christians. There are those who avoid at all costs, those who see it as a bit of harmless fun and those, like me, who are never quite sure what to do about it and so ignore it.

Well, not this year.  Ruth, Yvonne and I have made a plan. We are going to be at the Turquoise Table, bright and visible. We are going to take the opportunity when so many are out and about to create a place of light.

Light of the world you step down into darkness
Opened my eyes let me see
Beauty that makes this heart adore You
Hope of a life spent with You

So here I am to worship
Here I am to bow down
Here I am to say that your my God
Your altogether lovely
Altogether worthy
Altogether wonderful to me 

(Lyrics by Chris Tomlin)

‘Light of the World’ is a phrase that Jesus used to describe Himself and His disciples in the New Testament:  Jesus spoke to the people again. He said, “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows me will never walk in darkness. They will have that light. They will have life.” John 8:12 (NIRV)

Ruth is going to decorate our Turquoise Table with lots of sparkling lights and bunting. We have glow-sticks, clear plastic cups and stars so that the children out trick or treating, can make a light lantern to take with them.  I have made some pretty glass jars with a tealight in (to represent Jesus, the Light of the World) to give to parents. For refreshments, there will be star biscuits, made by Yvonne, for the children to decorate. And on a chilly Autumn night, what better than steaming mugs of hot pumpkin or tomato soup?

I am looking forward to Halloween this year!





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