Linking up with Tania Vaughan's new blog series, to proactively take Sunday into the rest of the week. Sundays are suddenly different. Not better not worse - just different. After 33 years, my husband is no longer a full time priest; nor am  I on a church staff any more. I am just - JUST!  - a normal pew filler. Well, chair occupier. And it's different from the back row than the front one.

Especially where we are now going to 'church.' I say church advisedly - we meet in Komedia, "Bath's award-winning venue for comedy, music, cabaret and club nights " as it describes itself. So yesterday the floor was sticky - noisily sticky. It's a dark theatre with no windows. And we sit on theatre-type red plush velvet chairs.

Its not Anglican. We are even having a sabbatical from that.

Two baskets are passed around after the worship. One is to contribute financially if one feels prompted to do so - we are told there is no pressure and certainly not for visitors; the other is - oh joy!  - full of sweets! Help yourself to something to chew/suck/delight in during the talk. Red love hearts of dark chocolate. Miniature tubes of parma violets and love hearts. Lollipops.

Yesterday, I took 2 red shiny papered chocolate hearts. Smoothed the empty papers and folded and refolded as I tried to listen.

But MY heart was full of something else.

Something we had sung.

"And I - I surrender

All to you, All to you ..."

It wasn't the 'normal' surrender - me, my life, my desires, my possessions ....

It was the pain of the previous week.

Surrendering even that. Letting go of my right to the pain.

It was all I had to offer up. I opened palms up, imagined the pain leaning on them.

Here it is, Lord. It's all I have right now to give You.

* * *

Monday morning. Awakening to the memory of the pain.

And the memory of the offering. Offered once, now offered again.

The reality of Sunday's offering needed in the reality of the light of Monday morning.

* * *

And again, a certain relief in the offering. Remembering how it felt the first time. Needing to feel that again - 'seeing' Him on the Cross metaphorically leaning down to take my pain and add it to what is already carried in His body.

Died He for me - who caused His pain?


And for those pains of mine and for those who caused them.

Amazing Grace.

I surrender all to You - even my pain.

And in surrendering, know His grace.

I will need it again tomorrow - and tomorrow - for I forget and the vision leaks.

* * *

Monday is the test of Sunday's reality. To God be the glory. All is gift.


5 Lessons from 35 years of marriage - plus THE photo!

We celebrated 35 years of marriage earlier this week.

And I posted on what I have learned in 35 years -

The best times are those when together we truly seek to serve and follow the Lord and His plans for our lives. That a promise is a promise is a promise. 

But there are a few other things I have learned as well!  Because it has not been plain sailing all the way - like any married couple we have had our share of ups and downs, good times and not-so-good times and some downright bad times. Years ago, we threatened over the phone on one occasion during a time of severe stress that we might just leave each other.  And apologised and hugged as soon as we were together again later that day. Stuff happens; we are human; and life can be a severe test of the promises of marriage. What I know now, in no particular order, is this:

1. Most things look, feel, ARE better after a hug, an arm rub and something to eat. Together.

2. Never ever ever criticise your spouse in public or run them down or belittle them or humiliate them in any way. I once wrote: A wife should be her husband's biggest fan. (It applies the other way round too)  Build them up to others, praise and polish them and their achievements to others. And whatever you are thinking, save it for home to voice aloud. By which stage it will probably be less important anyway. And your moment of praising will affect your own attitude too.

3. A spouse can do what no-one else can do: pray for their partner at the deepest level.  Because we know one another so well, we know how to pray for them better than anyone else does. And if the snoring wakes you at night take that as a moment to lay hands on them and pray for them. It might just be a God-given opportunity!

4. Keep on with dating after the wedding too.  All those weeks and months of special date nights don't suddenly cease after the Vicar pronounces you are "man and wife together." Nicky and Sila Lee taught us years and years ago (yes, we went to their wedding!)  to put date nights into our diaries before anything else goes into the schedule.  Date night is important - whether you are going out or staying in (which for us often depended on children and finances for years!) If you are staying in, don't just do what you normally do in the evenings. Make it a special time with the best china or the finest wine glasses, candles on the table; take a bubble bath together; have a good pillow fight; arm wrestle; learn to give great massages ...  (dot dot dot as they say in Mamma Mia)

5. Sexy is a state of mind not body. And anticipation is very powerful:  talking about it, leaving little notes, kissing often, sending an anticipatory text message, having coded allusions even when in front of the children or  other people. It is also a great stress reliever.

We were very young when we married With the Revd John Gwyn-Thomas who married us.

But over these years we have grown together, deepened our love, become really good friends, done so much together. Yes it hasn't always been easy. We know that there but for the grace of God go I, we;  it is by God's grace, love, strength that our marriage has developed, stayed glued, persevered, blossomed.

To God be the glory!