Nearly half-way through!

Amazingly, I’m nearly half-way through my course at Wesley House. I have just finished the second term in my second year, and that is half-way through lectures (although I’m not half-way through assessments).

WIN_20171123_18_36_46_ProI have still to write my essay on the use of humour in Jonah for the this term’s module on Ruth and Jonah. I’ll get that finished in a child-free week I have immediately following Christmas. I’ll also use that week to get more background reading done for an ILP (Independent Learning Project, basically a small dissertation) that I’ll be conducting  next term.

141Apart from that, life is full of family Christmas festivities. Between myself and three daughters we’ve already done a church-community Christmas project, a school Christmas fair (bauble lucky dip), Christmas jumper days, school assemblies telling the story of The Special Baby, building and then dismantling a magical Santa’s grotto for the toddler group Christmas party, ice sculpture trail in York, a family nativity (1st Wise Man), Carols by Candlelight twice (trilling descants and solo for ‘Once in Royal’), more mince pies that one could shake a reindeer at … and there are still five days to go!

May I take this opportunity to wish all of my supporters a very blessed Christmas, and may you (and I) follow our wonderful Lord throughout 2018





Writing, Writing, Just Keep Writing …

“Write an e-book”, they said.
“It’ll be easy”, they said.
“You’ll make a million”, they said – OK, they didn’t say that.
Here’s the story so far.

Idea number 1:

Easy-peasy. I’ll just take the best and most popular posts from The Reflectionary and make them into a book. Possible title: A Bucketful of Ideas. I could even do follow-up projects such as ‘A Crackerful of Ideas for Christmas’, ‘A Beakerful of ideas with Science’. No problem!

Problem number 1:

There are lots of crafts. They need lots of photos. That means lots of time and set up, and images can be a bit tricky in e-books.

Hmmn. I might try something easier for a first book.

Idea number 2:

Labyrinths. I love labyrinths,. I love drawing them, walking them, making them. But I know some people find labyrinths daunting because they don’t know how to join everything up, and how big their labyrinth will be and will it fit in their space?

Solution: I could easily make a book telling people an easy way to draw labyrinths and I could do all the maths for them so that they know how big it will come.

So I do all the maths, and very much enjoy that. I make tables of figures and draw diagrams to show the construction and take photos of some samples – great!

Problem number 2:

Ah – tables and diagrams and photos. Again with the images. Would be a good thing to do, but not for a first book.

Idea number 3:

Just words. I need something that is just words. OK, a book on prayer.
Title: … But I’m Rubbish at Praying – 101 ideas to re-boot your quiet time (by someone who finds it hard too).

Awesome. Going well. Very useful for me to be writing this because I get to try out a whole load of the ideas. Include chapters on how not to pray and how not to read your Bible (actually that could be a whole separate booklet),  links to on-line resources, stories of people’s experiences …

Problem number 3:

I’m already over 30,000 words. That’s great, but it’s not exactly a starting book, is it?

Idea number 4:

Just words. No images. Short.

Got it! Scripts. I can gather the scripts that I’ve written and publish them. It’ll be quick because it’s already written. All I need to do is the formatting and a little polishing. It does not need lots of ‘how to’ photos. It’s not going to turn into War and Peace.

Problem number 4:


Ummmn, nothing yet. I’ll let you know.

So I’ll stop writing this and get on with that.

Writing, writing, just keep writing.
Writing-writing-writing, just keep writing …


Summer Update

Welcome to the latest news from Chez Fay!

DSCN0679What’s been happening this summer? A lot of cake!

Middle daughter made a fab cake for youngest’s birthday at the start of June. Isn’t this awesome! 

July saw the end of term nosh-up at Wesley House. I’ve had a wonderful first year there and I’m looking forward to seeing  what I get to study next year. I’m the only continuing undergrad (there are a lot of one-year placements, sabbaticals and research students) so it’ll be slightly strange being  the ‘old hand’.

Over the summer break I’m taking another module with Spurgeon’s (looking at different spiritualities). I’ll look to do the essay for that when the girls are back at school. I’m also keeping the Greek ticking over, but mostly I’m writing. You can read about that in the next post, and there will be samples for your comments here in due course. 

Right now it’s the middle of the summer holidays and I’m having great fun spending time with my girlies. We’re doing jigsaws, visiting butterfly gardens, making cakes and painting t-shirts. I can fit writing and study in quite easily because mostly they don’t get up until the day is half gone!

heart egg 6

One of the most fun projects was making squeggs and heggs – square and heart-shaped eggs. You can find instructions at my weekly resources blog, The Reflectionary.  That resource is going very well. I recently had my best-ever post, which reached 12,000 people! Yikes!

I’ve just read back to my last post and seen that I’d set myself a target to have something on Kindle by the start of term, so – on with the writing (and then I think we might make some cakes!)



Where Did That Go?

I can’t believe that my last post was before Christmas – well I can, I saw the date, but you know what I mean.

It’s been a whirl of a while, so here are the edited highlights:

Books have featured a LOT. Here’s me in our fab new library overlooking the courtyard, and my desk barely visible in mid-essay.

I really enjoy the challenge of essay-writing; it’s the perfect excuse to grapple with topics that are easily swept under the carpet ‘to think about later’. In Michaelmas term I write essays for courses I studied in Romans (yeah, just the whole of Romans in 8 weeks), and Mission, Apologetics and Contemporary Culture. In Lent term I studied Deuteronomy and audited Mark (which means I went to the lectures but didn’t do the essay and don’t get credit for it).

I’ve nearly finished Easter term, which has no lectures, because many folks have exams. However we have continued with Life and Service, which at one point involved preaching a mini-sermon, and having it torn to sheds by the class (only slightly). We have also continued with chapel, community meals and Methodist Theology and Spirituality on Thursday evenings. For this we have been treated to some pretty luminary speakers, although I have to confess that with early lectures necessitating a 7:45am departure, some evenings found me propping my head up in what I hoped was an attentive and erudite angle.

The end of April saw the formal rededication of Wesley House after the huge building project. Here’s me looking slightly smug with HRH Prince Edward (alumnus of Jesus College, next door) and trilling a descant in the chapel afterwards. We now have a smart new gatehouse, seminar rooms, HUGE library, posh dining room / conference room and it’s all lovely blond oak and carved stone. In the new accommodation block are photos of student stretching back to, well, when cameras were invented, really. I’m in a photo right at the very top.

Unfortunately, at the same time something weird happened so that I woke up one morning peering through smoked glass into a dim room filled with swirling black snow. It turned out that the jelly-goo in one eye had partially peeled away from the back, which was very naughty of it. It’s not fixable, but not serious provided it does not at the same time detach the retina. Which it didn’t.

My sight has now improved, but I’m probably stuck with the swirling masses that make everything look like I have jelly snakes dancing the tango on my glasses.

With term almost over (we just have an end of term dinner next week) there were jolly jaunts, courtesy of my lovely tutor, Carole. Here’s a rare photo of Fay doing something slightly sporty. I am not at all embarrassed to admit that Eleanor was more proficient at punting than I was.

And now, as summer break looms, I’m taking it easy – sitting back and resting, enjoying the well-earned break, relaxi … nah.

I’ve signed up for a module with Spurgeon’s Online again and am teaching myself New Testament Greek. (The photo says ‘[the] beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ’.) I’ll be getting on with writing over the summer, with a view to getting something on Kindle by the start of term. (There, I’ve written it down, so now I have to do it!)

but first, I must sleep. Night all!

thank you for walking this journey with me,



Festive Felicitations!


I am sitting on the sofa, my feet in a blanket, reindeer antlers on my head, coffee in my Harry Potter mug and and drivel on the telly – it must be a Rowland Family Christmas!

Life is good. Term has finished and we are at peace. I had my first essay back a couple of days ago and all is OK. I was concerned that my mathematical mind might not adapt too well to theology, and I’d not be able to keep up – this is Cambridge after all. But it was fine and  I’m a happy bunny 🙂 If you’d like some bed-time reading, it’ll be posted on The Reflectionary on 26th

I want to work on my e-book and get a bit of Greek done over the Christmas holiday (yes, I understand that is not the normal meaning of the word ‘holiday’). I’m also due to start on the Methodist study program Worship: Leaders and Preachers after Christmas. There’s nothing like doing only one thing at at time, eh? But in between all that there will be plenty of time for chillin’ with my babes, pressies, mince pies and telly-drivel.

May the birthday blessings of prince of peace be with you and your loved ones, as with me and mine,


Winter Drawers On!

And very comfy they are, too. As the nights lengthen, what’s the latest news Chez Fay?

dscn5082Well, amid my birthday celebrations (plenty of chocolate and cake) I’ve just submitted the first essay for my course in Theology, Ministry and Mission at Wesley House, Cambridge. That one was ‘the history of interpretation of Rom. 5:12’. (2,500 words on one verse!) Now I am choosing the next essay title – what do you think?

‘Secular’ or ‘pagan’? Which is the better description of contemporary Western culture, and what do your conclusions mean for Christian engagement?

Yeesh! This is soooo different from the study I’ve done before. Good to learn and grow, though. Other titles feature phrases like ‘antagonistic postmodernity’ and ‘echoes of Christendom’. Hmmn. Come back algebra, all is forgiven. We’ll find your x together.

westminster-collegeSeriously though, the course is fab – what a privilege! The lecturers are knowledgeable, experienced and passionate about our faith. The libraries are awesome! (This is  the library of Westminster College, where I have a lot of lectures.) Over 110,000 items in the various theological colleges, and that’s not counting the university library itself. College worship in our beautiful chapel on Thursday evenings is a very precious time.

I am still writing Reflectionary, my church resources website, and I’m pleased to say that my readership there is growing. I have more subscribers every week, and posts regularly reach over 1000 additional readers. I’m also intermittently working on the sample book based on the resources available at Reflectionary, but that’s on hold for the moment while essays dominate. You can find all this on facebook or at

reindeer-foodI’m happily settling into Cornerstone Church and will be running the families’ craft section at the upcoming Christmas Fair. (Here’s a piccy of one of the crafts we’re going to do – cute eh?)  I’m also due to become more involved after Christmas, but further news of that in the next thrilling instalment.

Until that time, in case I don’t get to say it in person, festive felicitations and have a very haa … a haa …

I’m sorry. It’s only November still. I can’t bring myself to say it just yet.

Blessings, Fay


Murder on the A14

The Orient Express – the A14 to Cambridge – 41 miles, 51 minutes.
So says Google maps … The lying toad!


Here’s how Induction Week went:

tired-1Wednesday – set off 6:45am, (before children are up, not good).
Happy drive along A14 until Huntingdon then sit in a three-lane lorry park.
Arrive Wesley House (with oh-my-goodness a parking pass) 8:15.
Welcome meeting @ 9:30.
Finish 4ish.
Home 5:50.
Work 6:00.

tired-2Thurs – set off 8:45 after school run, (better).
Happy drive along A14 until Huntingdon then sit in another three-lane lorry park.
Turn off to Girton, get folding trike out of car, cycle to college.
Arrive 10:32.
Tutorial @ 10:30. Bum.
Finish 8:50pm, cycle back to Girton, pack trike back into car.
home by 10:20.
Completely whacked out.

tired-3Fri – set off 6:20 (yes, only 8 hrs after arriving home and have not seen Nelly since yesterday morning, very not good).
Rather upset drive along A14,  A1 and A428, trying to avoid the A14 lorry park.
Sit in Madingley Road lorry park instead.
Trike, cycle, arrive 8:15.
Chapel @ 8:00. Double bum.
Finish 12:30, cycle, drive.
Home 2:10.
Very, very very tired.
School run 3:00.
Work 4:00.
Bed 8:30.

So that was induction week. I thought it would be manic. It was. I thought the travel would be bad. It was. I thought the late Thurs to early Fri would be difficult. It was. Very.

What I had not factored in was my girls’ missing me and my missing my girls. That hurt. It really hurt. I had tears in my eyes as I walked out of the house on Friday morning. And to add guilt upon guilt I had a text from the friend who was ferrying them to and from school saying that middle child was ill and should she stay at home? I replied from the comfort of my lorry park that she should, knowing fully that this was a protest illness from a daughter wanting attention from a suddenly-absent mum.best_exotic_marigold_hotel

But normal lectures should be better, and life will settle down into a new way of being, and all shall be well, to quote Julian of Norwich.

Or perhaps it’s Sonny from The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, “Everything will be alright in the end, so if it is not alright it is not the end.”




More than a Whiff of Sulphur

It’s a phrase I nicked from a friend of mine (but he can go whistle for the royalties).

This has more than a whiff of sulphur about it“, he’d say, referring to an odd ‘co-incidence’ of difficulties that might occur when you step out for God.

Now I’m not one for blaming every sniffle of a cold on the machinations of the guy in the red onesie, but both as a scientist and as a Christian I must admit that there is more to life than that which is visible and easily understood. (Dark matter and the wave-particulate duality of light, for example). I think CS Lewis has the mood about right in his fabulous ‘Screwtape Letters’, which I recently re-read.

screwtape“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”

BTW if you’ve not ever read this, you MUST! Here’s a link (and remember that anything you buy from Amazon when you visit through one of my links helps buy my college books. So do all your Christmas shopping!) And here’s a link to a rather fab dramatized recording on 4 CDs.


So why am I talking about this now? As I prepare to step out on new adventures, both at college and with my new church, I find myself uncharacteristically ill on several occasions, and my lovely car is off the road for almost three weeks of expensive repairs before finally conking out completely!

All could simply be happenstance of course. But it’s just the kind of distraction, disturbance and  attempted disillusionment that good old Uncle Screwtape would have recommended for his nephew to use on his human.

Ho hum. Being ill has meant that I’m way behind on both writing and jobs around the house. Expensive repairs means that the ‘rainy day’ fund has gone. Conking out completely means that the pennies I had set aside for course fees have had to pay for a new car  – a posh car, y’know, the kind that actually moves.

gideonSo now I find myself in the place of Gideon. No, not in a winepress. Not that place. The place where he had 32,000 fighting men and God told him he had too many and he’d have to get rid of over 99% of his army. Why? So that when the battle was won everyone would know it was not because of human resources, but because of God.

So, here I am – me and my 300. Rainy day fund, gone. Slush fund, gone. College savings account, gone. There’s enough left to pay the bills and feed and clothe everyone, so compared to many folks we’re fine. The wolf is not at the door or anything. But the resources I was relying on, like Gideon’s army, have vanished.

BUT (and I have a big butt) God is good and he knows what he’s doing. I believe he sent me to Wesley House and so all will be well. Not quite sure how yet, but I have seen my Awesome Lord sort out stuff  like this before, and the fact that I don’t know something does not mean it is not so. So there!


On with life. Eggy bread for tea – and hold the sulphur!

Wooo Hooo!

Thank You. Thank You. Thank You!

Being British and all, I really hate talking about money, and asking for it? Yeesh! But needs must, and it’s Biblical and all …

But still, kind of bowled over when I get little messages in my inbox saying so-and-so wants to support you. Thank you dear friends. I feel very blessed and loved. Thank you. (Have I said that before?)

Amazon are coming up trumps as well. You may have seen some (hopefully helpful and interesting) affiliate links here and on The Reflectionary. (Free resources for church / assemblies / youth / family work – do pop over there and help yourself.)

Links are on the home page here, and down the side if you’re on a pooty, or below if on a tablet/phone. (My phone doesn’t do that kind of thing. I have a dim phone, not a smart phone.) So please consider clicking through from one one my links when you go shopping, because  any time you buy anything from Amazon (if you get there via one of my links), kindly Amazon send me a percentage.

jelly strawbsAnd yesterday it happened!

Oh yes! – Big time funding here we come!

One of my readers ordered some pipe-cleaners and Amazon credited me with … hold on to your hats … 10p!

Hey, it’s a start. And, as my girls so pertinently noted, it’d buy two jelly strawberries from the corner shop by school.

Important stuff.

A Moving Time

st botsNine and a half years ago I arrived at St Bots church, with huge baby bump and two pre-schoolers in tow. We all settled and found a home amongst the lovely folk there and, as I write, we have just finished a wonderful week of holiday club. My elder two are now junior leaders and my youngest is in her penultimate year as a ‘kid’.

St Bots has been their family for as long as they can remember. It has also been a home to me, and is full of people I look up to, treasure, and regard as my family.

stepping outBut now, with much wistfulness and fond memories, I believe it is time to step out into a new adventure and a new church.

It’s a small, elderly church plant in an area of high unemployment and there is no children’s work at all, despite being opposite a primary school and having a lot of young families around. Totally different from St Bots.

It feels a bit like when I first left home for uni (which was a very long time ago). Apprehensive at leaving comfortable familiarity, but this is the time to go and the place to be. Stepping into the unknown, but I trust I’m going where God wants me, so it will be good.

listeningOf course, I’m just little old human fallible me, so I may have got this completely wrong. I’m rubbish at listening.

But if so, then it is a error honestly made with best effort of doing what I believe God wants, so I’m sure he’ll take that as a misguided but well-intentioned attempt at obedience, and count it worship none the less.