When I sat down to begin writing “my story”, one of the hardest things was knowing where to start. Where did my journey begin? As a child I never attended any church services but I was bought bibles and prayer books by my parents and grandparents, and I visited various churches and cathedrals when holidaying in the United Kingdom where I would spend time and be encouraged to pray. I was also taken to Southwell Minster at least once each year where my Mum would light a candle and pray with my brother and I. If I was asked about my faith as a child I would have always said that “I believe in God”, but I didn’t think about my faith any more deeply than that and it wasn’t something that felt particularly important to me at that time.
Fast forward to 2001 when Stuart and I had met, fell in love (ahhh!) and become engaged. We both knew that we wanted a church wedding and taking our vows in the presence of God was a big part of that. At that time, I lived in Mapperley with my parents and Stuart lived in Hucknall with his and as neither of us belonged to a church it wasn’t immediately obvious where we should get married. I lived in the St James parish, however, and my parents had always subscribed to the parish magazine which mentioned that weddings can take place at the church so I suggested St James to Stuart and things went from there. There was no vicar in post at the time but we met with Sarah Clarke the then-
Stuart and I came back to St James for carol services over the next couple of years but to be honest, at that time, I didn’t think that I needed to do any more than that-
We have continued to attend church regularly and I went on to do the ladies Alpha course. Anyone who has done Alpha will tell you about the fantastic food prepared and cooked by Jane and whilst the meals were great, the highlight for me was listening to the testimonies of Jane, Becca and Kate who were all lovely and “normal” (I’m not sure what I was expecting!) with great stories of their faith to share with us. Whilst at that time I didn’t always have the confidence to talk about my faith and couldn’t find the words to describe the feelings that were growing inside me, I valued the time and space to be able to reflect quietly. I can now tell you that Alpha confirmed for me that God has always been there in my life, I just hadn’t always realised it. It also made me reflect on the job that I do as a Probation Officer and highlighted to me that God wanted me to do this job (I had never heard of the Probation Service until I was at a recruitment day for the Prison Service and in a room of over 1000 people, the person I sat next to worked for the Probation Service and her description made me realise that the work I wanted to do with offenders was suited more to working for the Probation Service than the Prison Service at that time and I was recruited as a Trainee Probation Officer later that year ). I also believe that God pointed me in the direction of Stuart (the only good thing to come out of a few months of awful call centre work for us both).
The next step after Alpha was confirmation which was a great occasion at St Mary’s in Arnold with Bishop George. Ever since Lexie’s baptism I had wanted to make those same promises that I made on her behalf, for myself, so to be able to do that, alongside Stuart, with Phil by our side and our friends and family present was a fantastic occasion and a sign for me that I was becoming more at ease with the idea of being a Christian with a relationship with God, rather than someone who simply “believed in God”.
Since my confirmation my faith has continued to grow and I have really felt part of the St James family. I feel so privileged to have met such wonderful people and be part of a church that offers so much to so many. I attend Sunday services, toddler groups, Girls Night Out and have been known to sneak into a Holy Communion service followed by coffee and cake in the church hall when I’ve had a couple of child-