Thursday, 19 December 2013

If pews could talk...

I spent what felt like several years of my childhood shifting uncomfortably on the pews in our church. We made sure to utilise them after the service for what we understood to be their true use; a ready-made fort.

(We were not especially pious children, I believe we were spotted playing hopscotch on the gravestones and eventually rounded up hiding under the alter cloth)

The pews in Sheffield cathedral were in use for 200 years. People in people out, two centuries of worship, Pews worn from many decades of many bottoms.

Then the change, the cathedral was becoming a more open space, bright and welcoming. They wanted the floor to be even so everyone could come in and take part, a fantastic project.

With no need for the old pews, like many other churches, they sold them.
 You can see these repurposed pews everywhere now, sold to trendy coffee places and vintage shops.

Then there was us.

A new fellowship, a fledgling family. Our home is an old bar in the shadow of the Cathedral. The old and the new together, a fresh expression of things to come. Birthed from the same lineage but smaller, lithe and in need of some seating.

So we went one freezing spring morning and purchased the ancient pews. Two men to a pew we brought them in. somehow they looked right at home there, on the beer stained floor, covered in the dust of our building project.

I think in a way it’s a metaphor for the church. The way we’re branching out into new and unexpected places no longer content to wait for the lost to come to us in our towering Stonewalls. 

Instead you’ll find us in the most unlikely places, coffee shops, warehouses and the occasional once grotty bar.

I love seeing these old pews here. Timeless. A reminder of our rich history, of the path the church in this nation has forged and is forging. So we will fill them once again and they will be steeped in worship and love, life and family.

 (Of course, it goes without saying that climbing on the pews is strongly encouraged.)

Saturday, 2 November 2013


Recently several members of my family came for a visit to the new house (cue frenzied cleaning and a trip to Ikea to buy a bed!)

Amongst other things what my family really likes to do when we gather en masse is to play games.

Many and varied games.

As children mum and dad used games as a way of successfully anchoring us to the table at mealtimes and keep us from chewing off our own hands during long car journeys.
As teenagers we created a game culture in our remote village most nights we had a living room crammed with loud and happy people.

These as you can imagine were some wonderful times. However reluctant as I am to say it, playful bonhomie is not our only family trait…

Rumour has it that aged nine my uncle Gid bit a wooden dice in half. Having failed him in his moment in need during a game of risk he decided to dole out his own form of vigilante justice.
As teens, after I decimated my brother at the very same game He went outside and took out his feelings on an old pile of bricks with a heavy mattock.

Some call it competitively; I prefer to think of it as commitment to winning.

As an adult I like to think I have got these competitive urges more reigned in (just don’t ask my husband why he refuses to play backgammon with me) I am able to successfully quash the vivid feelings of rage and despair associated with loosing. My brother too claims that his mattock wielding days are behind him.

So back to the familial visit:  grown up daughter shows her family round stylish and surprisingly clean married home, furnished with well appointed beds and plenty of loo roll for all! (Triumph)
Brother and sister in law are present (their first child due in February) Brother has allowed impending fatherhood to lend him an air of bearded understanding.

We all sit down to a civilised round of the game tellingly entitled ‘bang!’ (Nothing can go wrong here!!)

Unbelievably within the first round, before I had even a chance to lay a card brother fixed his gaze on me with what can only be described as some sort of madness glinting clearly in his eyes and his smile.
He shot me dead three times in quick succession. Thus ending my game.

I would like to say that I chuckled good-naturedly and settled back down with a fresh cup of tea to observe the rest of the game safe in the knowledge of my superior character.

I really really would.

As it happened the last thing I clearly remember is my husbands half amused half appalled face desperately telegraphing disapproval with his eyes as I clonked my brother in the head.
Needless to say any semblance of the calm and matronly hostess were forever lost in that extremely undignified moment.

My conclusion is that there is nothing like someone you shared a womb with to bring out the worst in you. On a side note we are blessedly good at forgiving and forgetting (through lots and lots of practice)

In the meantime I continue to attempt vanquish of the beast within, helped along by a warning foot squeeze from Matt when I’m loosing it!!

'hey isn't that my necklace?!

Friday, 20 September 2013

A post from the left hand side of the bed


 Much has passed since my last post, a beautiful celebration accompanied by what I am quite sure were the rains of blessing as the downpour on the day can only be described as biblical!

 A gorgeous service followed by a swinging jazz infused reception, HILARIOUS speeches and the much vaunted 'first swim' which rapidly turned into a joyful pool party. Our honeymoon was a picture, Grecian sun, private pool and villa. Wandering around ancient sites getting gently sunburned.

 We have now returned from becoming married and holidaying and are excitedly getting down to the normality of the every day. I have surprised myself by becoming even happier since returning to said normality so i'm going to write a little of the day to day beauty of a brand new marriage.

 We have a sweetie jar and read Harry potter out loud at night. We are learning to communicate in a clear and (very!) honest way. We sing loudly in the car and have a pretty house, also I am a bed hog and he leaves his clothes on the floor. We disagree over spontaneity verses planning and we both have a personal brand of crazy. Despite and because of these things we are somehow closer than ever, the mysterious and wonderful vows we spoke and the spiritual ties that bind in love seem to be working, (and its a good thing that they are because we haven't the foggiest what we're doing!)

 It's fun though. Much more fun than I was led to believe actually! I think we heard a lot about marriage being hard work (which I know is true and I'm sure will continue to get truer.) but right now it's wonderful. Living with my best friend, pretending to be grown up and then secretly eating all the marshmallows left over from the wedding! I will post more pictures soon but for now a candid, end of the night shot taken by my new auntie Jane...

Saturday, 27 July 2013

One Flesh.

“But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Mark 10:6-9

When you consider marrying someone, among other things it is important to take into account the sheer amount of time you will be spending with that person.

If everything proceeds according to plan, you will wake up next to them, eat with them socialise with them. Your underwear will merrily tumble around in the same washing machine and your toothbrushes will lean together in bliss.   

(Some couples I know even go to the toilet together. But the less mentioned about that the better!)

Alongside this ‘exposure catalyst’ the real change starts to occur. As the ‘two become one’ thing happens there is a gradual shift where the couple somehow spookily begin to meet each other in the middle.

Thinkers become more in touch with their emotions after being married to a feeler. People who previously preferred to be in doors suddenly crave the fresh air that their spouse advocates.

It really is incredible and at its best it seems as though both people in the relationship become more themselves at the same time as picking up on the finer nuances of their spouses better points.

It’s scary too though. What guarantee do you have that you aren’t going to move so close to each other that you get completely sucked in.  What if one or both of you get lost?

Worries aside it is indescribable, the wonder of this thing God created when he decided it was not good for man to be alone. This togetherness.

Its one of the things I’ve really enjoyed about planning a wedding and look forward to in marriage. I enjoy the teamwork. The shared responsibility. The Helpless laughter at some private joke. Even that moment of mutual realisation of the enormity of what we’re getting ourselves into.

There are lots of little preparations in a season of engagement for the decisions we’ll be making in marriage. This week we’ve chosen the bed that we hope to share for many years (king sized naturally).
I found it surprisingly emotional, though retrospectively that might just be because we looked for the right bed for literally 6 hours and went to every bed shop imaginable we even spent some time in DHS which apparently only does sofas (who knew!!!)

We’ve also been thinking about money and setting up joint accounts, cue debates about the best way to organise expenditure! It’s a steep learning curb but I’m excited for everything I’m going to learn from Matt and vice versa. To be humble enough to learn from this person i've chosen but also to be strong enough to be me as I was created to be. 

Monday, 22 July 2013

Forsaking all others.

Almost one month to the day until we get married.

I've been thinking a bit about what it will mean to be joined, the two of us bound in promises and covenant and I'm going to write a couple of speculative posts on this theme.

To begin, something new means letting go of the old. i've had a love hate relationship with being single and now i'm looking at that time through a beautiful sepia haze called hindsight I'm feeling strangely nostalgic about all the old dreams and expectations. One thing in particular which caused me some trouble was when I would compare the real men in my life to is someone I will refer to as:

 'The prince of possibility'.

in essence the prince based on is the largely unfounded belief that Prince Charming/Prince Harry/a miraculous combination of Brad Pitt and Billy Graham is

 Just. About. To . knock. On. The. Door

The beauty of this theory is because this dashing fellow is always in the future the possibility of his approach is always there dangling enticingly.

It has been amazing and wonderful to get to know and love matt in a frighteningly real way, learning all the time and looking forward to continuing to do so in the future. However there is still an element of sacrifice in nailing my colours to the mast and knowing that no one else is ever going to walk through that door.

(even if they do, they'll probably discover us playing chess and eating cheeseballs.

could be awkward.)

The funny thing is that I feel no hesitation.
I think what it comes down to is this;

All the things about Matt that I know to be true i.e. integrity, my best friend, amazing kisser father heart etc have become so real to me that the prospect of gambling all of this (for lack of a better word) - happiness on the faintest possibility of someone better is no longer an option.

I know this won't always seem so simple though. And once again I feel like such a baby! I am somehow being allowed to enter into this huge crazy intimidating and solemn thing that is marriage.
But I keep expecting someone to point at me and say I'm not allowed to, that I'm too young or too unqualified.

But I know also that those same vows are the vessel for something called family, wherein there will be plenty of space for imperfection, tears and belly laughing, food, babies and life.

 and I know we can do all those things. 

Monday, 17 June 2013

Becoming a Broughton

So it is that I am Coming to terms with the big name change,

its a bizarre feeling to be contemplating this, having been a Cox for 25 years.

I like being a Cox. I know exactly what it is to be one,

and dare I say it, I am pretty damn EXCELLENT at it. We are;




Barefoot a lot


and slightly insane. 

Yet in a matter of months I will be a Broughton...

This is very exciting for a couple of obvious reasons (hot husband new signature etc)
and I've had a couple of lovely opportunities to spend time with the Broughton family recently in order to better equip myself....

On a trip to centerparcs I experienced their good natured gambling, (The winner was fittingly my soon to be father in law David, lighter pockets all round!!)

amongst other things we engaged in a Badminton battle and attempted to work canoes. I met my future niece Evie for the first time and secured her services as my flower girl.

On a more recent trip to Matts home village for a surprise birthday celebration for his uncle I was able to become more acquainted with Matts mums family who were great. They love a boogie and the 60s tunes were free flowing, We also met matts uncle who is marrying us.

Overall having carefully observed the Broughtons for the past few months I can say that I am very excited to be joining their ranks, surely one of the best parts of marriage is two families becoming one and starting something different but the same.

poor quality phone pics but gives you some idea of the fun...

Friday, 24 May 2013

Follow me.

This song has been blowing my mind recently;

So raw and beautiful and so how I'm feeling right now.

I find it so hard to dream big and this song speaks of BIG lets go and find the sea.

It makes me cry every time I hear it as it speaks to me of Jesus calling us into something so much Bigger and more Amazing than we ever could have dreamed or imagined.

He just asks us to follow him.

I have just turned 25 and I am in the midst of planning a wedding with my best friend.

For him and our future family as much as for me I want to dream big, to embrace the adventure and know that the river is going to one place only.

Sunday, 14 April 2013


My 29th of March went a little something like this....

He provided the snackrels (he knows the way to my heart is cheeseballs)

 I was maybe a little late....

I, fresh from work bounded cheerfully into the room not quite computing the solemn intensity of the moment.

Matt hastily dropped to one knee in the traditional style, I (in a somewhat less traditional style) demanded to know what was happening.

 Luckily for me he still proposed!

We then drove out to the peaks in A sneakily borrowed car and went stargazing in the snow!!

It was beautiful and crazy and I can't actually remember what I said as its kind of blurry now!!

 (apparently it was a yes though!)

The ring belonged to my great grandmother and was her engagement ring almost 100 years previously

We have now been engaged for a little over two weeks and I am enjoying it immensely, Its so exciting to be planning together and dreaming about future, Matt is an excellent wedding planning pal as he is organised and good at big picture which gives me plenty of time to think about important things like daisies and bunting.

He's gone to Norway with work this week so we've been instant chatting each other like we're 14, I miss him like he's a limb.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

This and that

The other day as I was returning from work I bumped into my next door neighbour, who is my age but completing college courses to go to uni. We exchanged pleasantries and then out of the blue she admitted that she had an essay due in the next day and needed help.

I would very much like to get to know her better so I warmly invited her in. The topic as it turned out , was GCSE level Biology. I wrongly thought myself qualified to help but was happily bailed out by boyfriend and housemate. I enjoyed the picture very much though and think I want to add it into my life vision that there will always be homework being done at the table by someone random.

In other news I was in the paper today for organising a charity netball event! Unfortunately it was in fact a blonde girl who shares my name and works as a hotshot solicitor on the 3rd floor. People quite often muddle us up and she has been the reason for important things arriving in my inbox, which have nothing whatsoever to do with me.

Also has anyone noticed that its Still snowing…Still! My pure hearted friend Becky recently commented that snow still makes her heart skip a beat a little bit. I regret to say that I do not feel the same way. Spring please!

My mutti and vati have recently returned from there travels to foreign climes I want to take a moment to be impressed by them, feel free to be impressed as well!!

They are big on adventure and are in the process of reimagining their lives. They’ve been travelling for the past three months and now they are house hunting for a new project, inspiring.

Other exciting news is that Matt and me got engaged over the weekend! I will most probably post about that soon!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

My first love

My first love

 We have never had a wedding.
There are no photographs of us lost in one another’s gaze.
People rarely applaud our romance.

But it was you and only you who captured my heart for the first time,
You wrote me a beautiful ancient love letter and I was captivated.
When I sought other lovers you gentled me with your love, the promise of more.
And then there was another.

There is no blueprint for this.
My love for you and my love for him,
 is my heart big enough?

I know I need to learn to share you somehow 
But I was never much good at sharing.
I didn’t realise how desperately I need you
 until I thought I could find everything elsewhere

but I can’t.

and I hurt with the strangeness of it all
I feel full and hollow at the same time
I think its because I’m being stretched.

This is something I’ve been considering recently. I sat down to write about it and no prose came out, that’s often the way with me, I have to unstop my words with a poem first.
 I’ve never really had a boyfriend for long enough who was serious enough to necessitate negotiating my faith with or around.

I don’t find it very easy, I think I’m learning that I have quite a private relationship with God and I find it hard to be generous with sharing it.
But I do want for me and matt to experience God together in a non manufactured way, at the moment we’re exploring what that looks like which is exciting, making plans about communities and dreaming bigger because he’s good like that while I get lost in the details. 

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Greetings people out there people in the Interweb!!!

well this is embarrassing...I blinked and suddenly its 2013!! March no less,

Life seems divided into two main challenges at the moment...

1) figure out life/ jobs

Whilst in many ways my job is brilliant (it pays me every month without fail) It has the downside of expecting me to turn up every day and pledge most of my life to boring activities involving the computer and the telephone. 

Thus I have concluded that there is more to life than money every month, so I have applied to study the newly named Early years teacher qualification. 
Meanwhile i'm trying to figure out how long i'll be able to bear the current job for!! The sliver lining to the corporate world is the people I share a 'pod' with, we chuck sweets over the dividers and its a really generous and kind culture which is pretty amazing really.

I have also just joined Incubate, an idea being pioneered  by a friend. Its a collective of people who like me are unsure what to do. We are committing look at our passions and dreams to find out whether we can make money from them. Its a brilliant idea and promises to be both creative and challenging.

2) Community

life in my Oikos (Greek for family) continues on wonderfully, we had a period of fasting recently, similar to Ramadan so we only ate in the night time for 3 weeks, it was amazing and you'd be surprised how quickly you learn to go without lunch!!! Makes me wonder why we eat so much when we can survive on less, interesting. 

Some of the guys participated in a Fear fast, challenging themselves to do scary things everyday culminating in sharing the gospel before a showing of the beautiful and redemption filled Les Miserables. 

We are moving into a more missional phase of community living, starting to have Bring and shares rather than sit down meals as we're getting too big for our ovens. Hoping this will allow more space for growth! We've been reading a Neil Cole book called 'Organic Church' which talks about planting churches in coffee shops and learning to let go of the church building as a way of reproducing church quickly and effectively, An interesting idea in our predominantly Muslim community i'll let you know how it goes!!

And I think I'll finish with some Rumi for your delectation, saw this on a blog recently and loved it...

“The Guest House” by Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

(from The Essential Rumi, versions by Coleman Barks)