Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Hurry Sickness

Dallas Willard once said to John Orthberg;

‘You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life’

He was talking about spiritual health and the prevalence of ‘hurry sickness’ in our culture, he went on to say…

‘Hurry is the great spiritual enemy of our day; there’s a difference between being busy and being hurried. Busy is the condition of the body having many things to do, hurry is a condition of the soul in which I am so preoccupied that I cannot be fully present to God or to a person. Jesus was often busy but he never hurried.’   (‘Living in Christs Presence’ Dallas Willard)

These words have gripped me recently in the way that truth does and I’ve been grappling ever since. 
I would say that I am fairly obsessed with busyness and hurrying.

 Like many of my generation I wear hurry as a badge of honour, equating it with productivity and therefore worth.

I power walk everywhere and tend to measure my day exclusively by how much stuff I’ve managed to cram into it. Even since writing this post I have had to stop myself twice from cursing my very elderly and infuriatingly slow laptop. 

We were recently asked to pick up my grandmother from Leeds on our way down to the family gathering in Shropshire.  Horrified, I quickly calculated that this would add on give or take two hours to our journey, a fact that caused me much distress.

Fortunately Matt is considerably less selfish than me and he had already agreed to the extra miles before I’d finished plotting out the journey on Google maps!

It is synonymous with hurry sickness, this cutting of corners for convenience.

I think I would have become frustrated hanging around with Jesus because he never seems to move anywhere awfully quickly what with the needy crowds and the object lessons which took place on the way to pretty much anywhere.

The most common thing I hear God say to me is ‘Look!’ he points out the beauty to me in a flower, the shape of a cloud or the colour of a brick in a faded wall, reminding me to wonder at the little things.

I stopped taking pictures a while ago now, I think because I ran out of time to pause and look.

So moving forward, I want to take this idea seriously, to be fully present and not always rush to the next thing, so I plan to (as Willard suggests) take the time to practice not being in a hurry, to join the slowest queue in the shop, to get into the slowest moving lane in traffic.

Though this sounds just the teensiest bit like torture to me I am willing to test a theory and try to shake off the mind set that to be alive I must be ever moving.

Thursday, 6 November 2014


We found out last week that matt has passed the final criteria to train to become a vicar! If your interested here is a little diagram detailing Matts journey to ordained ministry in the Church of England so far...! 

You'll notice that the first stage of Matts journey happens in autumn 2011, this was a significant time for us both.

I remember, we were at a church leaders weekend when matt mentioned his feeling of call to me for the first time, at this point Matt was one of my closest friends, someone I clicked with like no one else. The year before I had let him know that I wanted to keep things between us platonic. Seven months later the winds of change were blowing for me and I felt a call of my own (read about it here....

So this was it. I was off to France the following week, Matt was just beginning to articulate his sense of Call to 'official Anglican ministry' and a few of us talked about it over the course of the weekend. It was incredibly windy outside and we ventured out on a blustery walk where matt and I fell into step together. 

I don't remember what we talked about specifically on the walk but I do remember being so grateful that he was in my life. Later on he prayed over me (this prayer to go away with, this was instantly significant and has remained so ever since, matt shared it again in his wedding speech. After the weekend a lingering feeling of loss tinged my excitement in leaving, I was sad to be walking away in some measure from this friendship and into the unknown.

As it transpired by the time I was back in Sheffield again the following autumn our friendship was not only intact but pretty quickly became more.

So that's just a little context of the journey we've Been on so far..! Matt did his local panel interview in January (follow this link for some of my thoughts on that occasion...

We both feel the call to ordained ministry, for me the process hasn't been as formal, though it's no less real for that. (I'm planning a post around my personal ordination journey soon).

Passing the BAP is huge news for us on many levels and feels like the outworking of a lot of things god has done in us over the last three years. It also probably means that we'll be leaving Sheffield at the start of the next academic year. (Cue broken hearted sobbing)

Where we will go remains a mystery at present but an exciting one! 


Sunday, 5 October 2014

A Bridge Too Far.

Last week I had an altercation with the builders next door.
They have been around for the past few months, sorting out the near derelict house, working almost round the clock. Nice guys,  Matt and I have chatted with them about the progress of work and the state the place was in before.

But last week as I put my bike back in the shed, one of the builders wolf whistled me from his perch high up on the scaffolding. I went by my general rule of thumb for moments like these, which is to not under any circumstances make eye contact, and then retreat quick, feeling ashamed and a bit scared.

Inside with a cup of tea I had some time to reflect.

I thought about recent situations I have been in where men seemed to think it was okay to make some kind of a comment on my body.

Like the time I was cycling and 3 teenagers also on bikes came alongside me and shouted out what they thought about my body and what they would like to do with it.

Or two years ago when I was walking early one morning through a short tunnel and a man coming in the opposite direction waited until I was passing him and then dropped his trousers and watched for my response as I fled. I have no doubt that in a slightly more deserted setting it could have been much worse.

This in turn got me thinking about the best part of ten years ago where during my gap year at Bible College I was berated by a fellow student who decided to take it upon himself to educate me about where I was going wrong with my clothes and how I was causing him and others to stumble.

It’s worth knowing that at this point aged 18, I was slender and bouncy with naturally big boobs, which I found primarily annoying as they got in the way of important things like tree climbing.

At the time I was also largely unaware of the harmful rhetoric, which exists in the church regarding the female body and its effect on our brothers. This was a rude awakening for me.

And you know what? I responded to him with concern and understanding and tried to make changes to my wardrobe to accommodate what he had said. My impressionable heart was hurt and I understood myself to be in the wrong. 

But I was not in the wrong.

Over the years, I have been struck by the breast conundrum; I have realised that I have come to deeply dislike them for being so obvious. Despite dressing them every which way, they still make their presence known. 

My conclusion is that there are some parts of our bodies we cannot hide (aka the bits that stick out, our faces, etc) and even if we could, I am no longer convinced that the way men respond to my body has anything at all to do with me.

It struck me how unfair it is that collectively these men felt completely justified in signalling their approval - or their disapproval, of how I look according to their own agenda. Whether I turned them on, seemed fair game or simply didn’t fit into their box of how a Christian woman should look.

So back to the builders next door.

The next time I passed them, I nodded hello and continued on my way. As I reached the end of the passage there was yet another wolf whistle.

Something in me snapped.

I strode back to where they were lounging against the wall and I made eye contact, there was no escape, (although one of them actually tried to hide round the side of the house!) I asked them for what I should have demanded all of my life – that they treat me with some respect. I told them how it made me feel when they commented on my body like that and I made it clear that there would be consequences if it were to happen again. I didn’t leave until I had the nod of ascent from both of them that they understood.

It felt like a victory.

You see I had never before felt able to state my case, rather feeling paralysed by fear and guilt. But this time I knew that I needed to make a stand.

Because violence against women in this world is a terrible and horribly real thing and if we want to combat it, even in a small way then it has to begin with something as seemingly insignificant as a wolf whistle.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

The Extrovert

I chose to venture out by myself this morning. It's early on a day where I could sleep in but I thought I'd seek something else instead.

The water is still from a distance but up close it's moving, alive with current and creature. Even a boat slips soundless by, filled with five sleepy eyed souls.

It is the beginnings of peace this morning vigal, country spot near city home, takes me backwards across adulthood towards my well spent adolescence where I practiced hearing his voice, longing in my loneliness to touch just the edge of his robe.

I am not often found in silence anymore, our happy marriage is full of words and my extrovert heart drinks them greedily, not recognising the signs of excess. 

When will I learn the need for just a moment to expand my lungs and my heart, to move from my place lolling at the back of an apathetic crowd, 
run and leap and climb a t
ree for even just a glimpse of him.

Only rarely when I can't sleep do I creep from our bed, carefully uncurl myself from warm arms, tiptoe across the room and open the window wide. 

I don't know why but doing this opens something 
in me, reminds me of a time when the only way I knew to say goodnight was with my feet resting on the roof, chapel of stars over my head.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The Long Silence.

It has been a while since I sat down to write. This wasn't by design, rather a product of a busy busy busy six months or so!! As I have tended to average a once a month blog post in recent years I thought I would do a month by month fasten your seatbelt......


Matt and I told were finally told that his final interview for vicar training the date is scheduled for  November 2014 which means not actually starting to train until Sept 2015.

We had been hoping for more of a May 2014 interview and a Sept 2014 start

So we felt a bit like this.....

Shaking ourselves off, we went on a mini pilgrimage to Holy Island Lindesfarne which was a great help and the views weren't bad either!

 All things considered, we decided that we would stay in Sheffield at least until we knew the BAP result and signed a housing contract for another six months.

which means we get to continue to live here....

(Wills fantastic artistic rendering of our first home)


We celebrated my 26th in style in Shropshire with 10 pals for my birthday celebration which was lovely and involved circumnavigating the river running through my parents back garden in an unreliable but jaunty blow up boat!!!

I also had my long awaited coursework hand in which was the culmination of a year of jolly hard work! The rest of May is frankly a bit of a blur...!


I had my final assessment and started to apply for jobs in nurseries. Matt decided that he was going to leave his management job at church in the autumn and started to look for potential possibilities.
We went to Will and Rach's beautiful wedding in Glasgow and saw my lovely pals Emma and Drew in Stirling. I found my job! Covering a maternity leave in a sweet private nursery with a nice garden and an eccentric boss. As the Assistant manager and Early Years Teacher.


Start new job,  find out that my manager is not eccentric so much as deeply crazy, my job is Assistant Manager/ Early Years Teacher, Head Junk sorter, Resource Developer and Key Worker.
(I manage not to cry.) 

                                                             Reunion of home friends!

                                    My baby brother announces his engagement (WOOP WOOP)

                                                                   Jonny and V

Then we went on a camping holiday to west Ireland with Rosa and Teague,

Question: How much stuff can you fit in the back of a three door yaris?!!


Christine moved in for a month before heading out as a missionary to Jordan for 6 months!

Matt finds a new job working for Voluntary Action Sheffield!


Work Wedding Work Wedding Work........


sunrises, sunsets, swimming in the sea, missing sharing a bed with Matt, enjoying getting to know the teenagers again. praying in the chapel tent, falling in love with the bible as spoken word, hanging around in the fire shelter with dear dear DEAR old friends, feeling the call to community again.

Then we departed late into a starry Devon night and hot footed it all the way to Shropshire to catch up with the beautiful fam, we've gone from five to nine people in the past three years and we're all still finding our feet!!!

                                               (I taught Teddy how to read)

We waved Christine off and welcomed the lovely Line into our home, she hails from Norway and will be living with us for the year! We are learning how to do family well together. It feels beautifully, blessedly natural for me and Matt to extend the family invitation and we are enjoying Line very much.

speaking of me and Matt, on the 24th of August we celebrated....

Which was amazing!!!! Cant believe its been so long/short amount of time!!!!!!


On and on the world turns. Here we are with the Autumn fast approaching. What a blessed, crazy, fantastic few months its been!!

I will endeavour to be more faithful with my writing over the next few months!!!


Sunday, 23 March 2014


"Earth's crammed with heaven…But only he who sees, takes off his shoes."

Elizabeth Browning.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Hills (a valentines day post of sorts)

We went for a ten-mile bike ride around a local reservoir recently, Matt effortlessly coasting,

me not so much.

All was well until near the end when we came to a hill, otherwise known as the last straw for my aching muscles.

I dismounted and began the upward push. In response to my plight, Matt left his bike at the top of the hill and ran back to where I was and rode my bike to the top for me.

This happened twice before we hit a good downhill stretch.

When we were finally heading homewards I had a chance to reflect on this grace, a picture of the greater heavenly love extended to me, the load bearing, big hearted grace of our saviour.

Marriage is an imperfect window into this love, but still so much light comes through it.

I recently read an article written by John Comer, where he commented how often we enter into marriage with the goal of happiness and how often this is met with disappointment and resentfulness. 

He suggests that the real purpose of marriage is as a context for the following;


Aren’t these things enough to ask of another beautiful and flawed human being, without expecting them to be saviour as well?

In his wedding speech Matt promised me; 

  ‘ A life of risk and adventure, 
a life of family and home, a life where we pursue Jesus first.’

 I am loving being on the hilly but beautiful journey of learning how to do just that.

          (A rainbow we saw on our cycle ride)


Thursday, 13 February 2014


Meet the new additions to the Cox and Broughton families - our nephew Edward (goes by Teddy) and niece Dolly! We've had a lovely couple of months visiting Chester and Bridlington to meet these cuties.


Monday, 27 January 2014


I am looking out the window, watching for him. The stars are shining but I barely notice. I am watching. My heart beat going a little faster than before.

It’s new this part of marriage – sending part of me away to do something big and bold and brave.

Where he goes I go where he stays I stay.

I don’t know what to do with myself, heart in my mouth for an evening.
Even my prayers are becoming a jumbled mess. So I just turn my hope in a general upwards direction.

Hope that good things will happen for my husband – not only because our destinies are intertwined but also because he would be brilliant at this, faithful and steadfast. 

 I love the way he is boldly pursuing this future Jesus has spoken to him about.

‘We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.’

Sir Francis Drake

Monday, 20 January 2014


2014 has arrived,

Knocking politely, unassumingly on the door as its predecessor departed. Distracted, I let it in and wandered back to whatever I was doing on the computer.

Now for the first time I am considering it, sitting down for a cup of tea and peering into its length and breadth.

I think that God has said that this year will be one of Pilgrimage.

 I feel the stirring.

The call to dusty boots, sunrise walks and fellow travellers.

The call to the practice of wonder.

I feel ready to take the time to delve deep into the heart of God.

We have just finished our churches annual ‘one thing’ fast. This is our practice as a family, to take time at the beginning of the year to simplify, pause and take the time to draw close to God.

This year the fast has been stretching. After removing all the comfort that I usually find in food and drink I was left with the reality check of how much I rely on myself for all sorts of sustenance.

In his grace, God has loosened my grip on the controls a bit and I hope he will continue to do so as the year progresses.

Toby our vicar spoke today about letting go.
He commented that most of us are trying so hard to be better and to build higher that we forget the truth that God has already done all the things we are trying to do. 

It is the very act of walking closely with Jesus which enables us to let go.

 Choosing to let go of hurt, fear and control (to name but a few) will have more effect than years of trying to build other things.

 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11 28-30

So I continue on into this exciting, unknown year with an open heart and an easy yoke. 

Even as I continue my day-to-day business I intend to do so with the heart of a pilgrim, characterised by a lightness and generosity, an expectation that around every corner will be deeper meaning.