Thoughts & Prayers

Reflection for 3rd Before Lent


I am a man blessed. 

I’m blessed to be married to my wonderful, wild, wise, weird, woman of Watford! 

I’m blessed to have two daughters who have grown into beautiful, intelligent, independent women. 

I’m blessed in the partners they have chosen. 

I’m blessed to be doing what God has called me to do. 

I’m even blessed to have care of a ginger-ninja, a Velcro-Vizsla. 

I’m blessed to live next door to a school of joyful, happy, noisy children. 

I’m blessed to wake up to views over the countryside. 

I’m blessed by everyone I’ve come to know in this Benefice. 

I am blessed to be loved by God who loves me because He loves me because He loves me. 

Count your blessings, 

name them one by one, 

Count your blessings, 

see what God has done, 

Count your blessings, 

name them one by one 

And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

Rev Phil

Some thoughts from Natalie Miller


As I work in personal tax, with clients’ tax returns due in on 31st January, I’ve just come out of what is the most stressful time of the year work-wise. Having said that, my life is a lot less frantic than it has been in the past – I only work part-time; the girls have left home; I’ve finished my studies; none of the immediate family are suffering serious health problems; Phil is happy in his vocation and our finances are more settled. So why have I felt more stressed and less on top of things? 

The reality is that our feelings of stress and anxiety aren’t always related to what’s happening in our lives. In the midst of a crisis, our adrenalin sometimes kicks in and we ride the wave; whereas at other times a much gentler swell can make us feel we’re drowning. What can we do to keep afloat? Here are some things which help me:

Experience has shown me that there is always a rhythm to the tide – it may feel that I’m being swamped at the moment, but it will turn. I may not be a surfer but I might even find a way to enjoy the peaks as well the shallows. 

I look for the things which help me to swim – I can reach out to those people, places and activities which can keep me afloat or even motor me forwards. 

I can enjoy the journey – It’s useful to have an idea of where we want to end up, but we may need to go on a diversion to avoid the rocks. It’s fine to just tread water or float for a while – get your breath and enjoy the scenery. 

I find fellow travellers – while no two journeys are the same, lots of other people have gone this way. I can learn from someone who’s way ahead of me, share with someone who’s at the same junction or encourage someone who’s following. We don’t have to travel solo. 

I know my vessel – I need to look after myself. That may involve minor adjustments or a complete overhaul; I may well need to get a specialist in! 

For me, my faith is a big help, so I can add spiritual elements to all the points above.  One of the most well-known Bible stories is when Jesus is sleeping in a boat with the disciples and so severe a storm breaks that even those experienced fishermen are terrified that they’re all going to drown. They wake Jesus who rebukes them for their lack of faith and calms the storm. There’s an old Sunday school song which tells this story and has the chorus “With Christ in the vessel, we can smile at the storm” – I’m not sure that smiling’s always possible, but we can draw strength from the knowledge that someone much stronger than us is in the boat with us. 

Natalie Miller