About

Last week I attended the confirmation service of a dozen or so candidates at my local church. I had the honour of being the ‘Crucifer’ and carrying a great big wooden and metal cross. I got to lead the Bishop and the rest of the party up and down the church, which I thoroughly enjoyed as it was much like drill, something I’m both experienced in and fond of. This was another one of those moments where my two worlds and identities collide; being a soldier and being a Christian.

I wasn’t always a Christian, but I feel like I have always been a soldier.

I’ve been getting paid for it since I was 17, and prior to that I just played at it with my cousin. We had Action Men toys and would run around the woods and North Yorkshire Moors with sticks, pretending to be soldiers. We used to make dens and catch fish and draw maps. We’d lay silently and patiently for hours watching birds through our binoculars, consulting the Dorling Kindersley British Birds book, whilst eating packed lunches our Grandma had made us, then we’d spring up, startling the farmers and we’d pretend we were fugitives on the run from the German Army and would hurtle down the hill together back to the caravan.

Real soldiering is somewhat different, but I feel as though my outdoorsy and somewhat non-conventional childhood prepared me well. I was accustomed to cuts and scrapes, exercise, being too hot and too cold and hiding in bushes. So whilst I may have always been destined for soldiering, or at least very comfortable doing it, I couldn’t have imagined spending the rest of my life as a Christian. This second part of my identity is a recent development. I was never interested in faith, and though I attended Sunday School as a child until I was 10 or so, I understood church to be in the same category as the Brownies or Guides and so I grew out of it as I did other my childhood clubs. My faith in God came as a huge surprise. I felt ill prepared and it certainly seemed that God sought me out, rather than the other way around. My account of just how I came to believe in God, whilst serving in Afghanistan, can be found here.

This blog is about the endlessly surprising ways in which God has changed my life since I committed to being a Christian. It is also about why I think the C of E is so weird and so wonderful, and about the many and frequent embarrassing mistakes I make as a new Christian. I’ll be writing about what I feel God is calling me (a vicar of all things) and what that discernment process feels like. I will write about living out my faith in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Shrivenham and other exotic locations, and the organisations and people who have shaped my faith and helped me to become a disciple of Christ.

This personal blog is also linked to my work blog TheGenerousGgivingProject. Yes, another surprise for me was landing a job working for the church, shortly after leaving full time service in the Army. If you like short stories that poke light fun at the church whilst tackling a serious message (in this case what it means to be generous with our money) then you might like these. They’re also useful as resources for your own church and will be updated every few days. You don’t have to be an Anglican to read them.

That’s it by means of an introduction. Enjoy and be sure to pop back if you like what I write.

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Photo by Sgt Jamie Peters

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Well what a day! I have such generous, hard-working and wonderful friends. Seven people answered the call and came to help yesterday, and the results are amazing. SO grateful for your help. Literally just couldn't have done it without you. From removing patio slabs to discovering 6 inches of concrete, this garden renovation has been MUCH costlier in time, effort and pounds than I could have ever predicted, but the massive silver lining is the community effort yesterday. It was so cool labouring in the sun among friends and taking it in turns to "play with Elizabeth in the nursery" (take a breather) Hoping to have the turf laid soon.
🙈 when granddad looks after the baby...😂 #rta #grandparenting #funnybaby #instababies #instababy #realparenting #oops #bloopers #uhoh #caraccident
So proud of our strong little girl who finally cracked the stairs yesterday after trying all week. She's so determined. Will have to keep an even closer eye on her now though. Also need to teach how how to safely get down stairs 🙄 #9monthsold #adventurebaby #effort #stronggirlscan #strongbaby #babygirl #parenting #mothersdaughter #clothnappies #clothbum #reusablenappies #raisethemwild #barefootbaby #minime #motherhood
A most perfect day with my daughter, niece and mum. So grateful for this beautiful weather and company. #famalam #motherdaughter #bambinamia #bebe #chica #nona #barefootbaby #raisethemwild #adventure #motherhood #parenting #mothersdaughter #englishcastle
Swinging through the trees with my monkey on my back. NEVER too old for a play park. #adventurebaby #raisethemwild #barefootbaby #wildparenting #greatoutdoors #baby #adventuremum #wildchild #babyled #greenparenting
Loved spending this gorgeous sunny day out walking with my funny little bark-eating mini me. Her energy and curiosity are so great and so exhausting!! The walk itself (9.4 miles) was really dull, and all along a narrow road, but the destination was cool. A little play area for Elizabeth, and a cold beer and warm brownie and ice cream for me! Still on the lookout for decent walks near Darlington, so hit me with your suggestions. I'm after circular routes, preferably off-road, approx 10 miles. Extra points for pub half way but not essential as we like picnics. Will travel 40 mins away by car. To get to a good walking location. #hikingmama #greatoutdoors #babywearing #babycarrying #postpartumfitness #postpartumfitnessjourney #postpartum #babycarrier #hiking #hikingbaby #raisethemwild #outdoorlife #funinthesun #nature #barefootbaby #hike #minime #motherhood #parenting #mumswholift #fitfam #mothersdaughter #grassfed #freerange #gentlepatenting #natural #countryside
Family fun in the sun. Transforming our patio garden into a beautiful lawn... but this is a bigger job than I'd anticipated, and phase two is hiring a pneumatic drill 😖 Pretty sure she won't sleep through phase two. #fatherdaughter #family #diydad #grandad #sling #babywearing #babycarrying #postpartumfitness #gardening #extremegardening #everydayisaliftingday #weightlifting #mamaswholift
Yesterday the youngest of the Phillips Clan was baptised by the fabulous Revd Gemma Sampson, in a beautiful service among family and friends. A day full of laughter, joy, generosity and even a magic trick. Big thanks to everyone who made it possible, especially the gorgeous cake by Katie and Katherine. It was superb. Really loved having our family there, especially those who had to travel far. Xxxx @the_misplaced_explorer @tonyp1166 @ieshaphillips @suephillips123 #baptism #christian #christening #church #childofgod #family #daughter #holyoil #churchofengland
🌍 P I L G R I M P A L S 🌍 • • This last week wouldn't have been possible without these two fine men. Thank you so much to @tonyp1166 for walking with me, providing endless banter and for keeping us to the route almost all of the time! • • And to my amazing husband "Team Recce" for doing all the glamorous work like the laundry, organising accommodation and a million other tasks that made the hiking that much easier. Just knowing you were there as back-up if our baby needed you meant I could focus on the important stuff, like getting a thigh to ankle tan. You rock. ....... • #caminobaby #galicia #buencamino #finisterre #hikingmama #hikingbaby #raisethemwild #outdoorlife #greatoutdoors #babyled #greenparenting #adventuremum #wildchild #babyled #greenparenting #adventuremum #caminodesantiago #theway #recce #logisticalsupport #realparenting #motherhood #hiking
Portraits of the Camino #baby #nina #bebe #bambina #babywearing #babycarrying #babypilgrim #caminobaby #adventurebaby #wildchild #raisethemwild #outdoorbaby #hikingbaby #babyshark #ecobaby #ivfbaby #pilgrim #thoseeyes #daughter #familytime #spain #caminodesantiago #buencamino #finisterre #hikingmama #outdoorlife #portraitphotography #faces #family #pilgrimage
La familia The baby #baby #nina #bebe #bambina #babywearing #babycarrying #babypilgrim #caminobaby #adventurebaby #wildchild #raisethemwild #outdoorbaby #hikingbaby #babyshark #ecobaby #ivfbaby #pilgrim #thoseeyes #daughter #familytime #spain #caminodesantiago #buencamino #finisterre #hikingmama #outdoorlife
The baby #baby #nina #bebe #bambina #babywearing #babycarrying #babypilgrim #caminobaby #adventurebaby #wildchild #raisethemwild #outdoorbaby #hikingbaby #babyshark #ecobaby #ivfbaby #pilgrim #thoseeyes #daughter
Carrying my baby on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in Spain was made so much simpler because of the kit I used. I wondered if I could get away with taking either the front sling (Manduca) or back pack carrier (Deuter Kid comfort II) but was advised to take both. I'm so glad I did. The front sling meant Elizabeth could feed and snooze all snuggled up on the chilly early mornings, but could then be moved into the backpack when she woke, so that she could look around and get some air. It was much easier to control her temperature in the backpack. The coat I wear is specially made for baby wearing in the great outdoors and it's bloody brilliant! It's by Mamalia and I love love love it. #hikingbaby #raisethemwild #outdoorlife #greatoutdoors #babyled #greenparenting #adventuremum #wildchild #hikingmama #camino #caminodesantiago #theway #thegreatoutdoors #outdoorlife #babyexplorer #goexplore #adventure #motherhood #parenting #mothersdaughter #hiking #walking #caminobaby #babycarrying #babywearing #deuterkidcomfortii #motherhoodrising #vivecamino #hikingwithbabies #hikingmom @caminodesantiago
Can I breastfeed whilst hiking? Yes I can! I've just walked the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in Spain carrying my baby and what a relief it was that I didn't once have to worry about feeding her. One less thing to think about. Breastfeeding isn't always easy; it can be very painful at first, uncomfortable, overwhelming, difficult and can feel embarrassing at times (though that's changing). But wow is it convenient!! With a couple of adjusted straps I didn't even need to break step to feed my little pilgrim in my Manduka carrier, meaning fewer stops and less stress. She fed all over #galicia and what was totally unexpected was the number of women of all nationalities who walked alongside me and congratulated me for my breastfeeding journey. So many mums shared their bf experiences and were so encouraging. It's a really lovely thing to bond over. So to all my friends and other mamas out there just starting out, good for you. Keep going and get help if it's tough. @canibreastfeedinituk #normalizebreastfeeding #breastfeeding #breastfeedingawareness #breastfeedinginpublic #boob #boobclub #mamasmilk #babywearing #babycarrying #caminodesantiago #lll #lalecheleague #leche #milch #mama #baby #caminobaby #motherhood #babyled #greenparenting #adventurebaby #gentlepatenting #natural
Oops... deleted the original post. Here it is again. Day 2 Camino de Santiago. #raisethemwild #santiagodecompostella #camino #caminodesantiago #theway #hiking #hikingbaby #babywearing #babycarrying #postpartumfitness #postpartumfitnessjourney #postpartum #outdoorbaby #greenparenting #adventuremum #breastfeeding #pilgrimage #pilgrims #baby #deuterkidcomfortii #adventurebaby #galicia #buencamino
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