Day Zero…

Do you remember that famous love story where boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, they plan to get married and a global pandemic hits and keeps them apart for nearly two years?? No, me either. But that’s my story; that’s our story; and that’s why, I find myself here, in a hotel room at Sydney Harbour, on “day zero” of my 14-day quarantine, just waiting to begin the next chapter in the rest of my life.

Maybe I should introduce myself (in case anyone ever stumbles across this blog who isn’t a Facebook friend or family member!)…

I’m Gemma.

A priest in the Anglican Church.

A lover of food and Jesus, and particularly fond of combining the two.

A proud dog-parent to Maggie (she will be a feature. Guaranteed).

A daughter, a sister, a friend, an auntie, a relative and a soon-to-be wife (please God) of the boy from paragraph one. My Craig.

I first met Craig way back in about 2004; this tall, bald-headed, potty mouthed, builder was standing and speaking at a Christian conference-type-thing, and I thought he was pretty special. In my own, awkward, way I tried to flirt (awful). He didn’t notice (standard). He mentioned his family and their plans to emigrate to Australia and there he was, gone (gutted).

And then nothing, for around 15 years

Fast forward to 2019 and our paths crossed again – virtually – via Facebook Messenger. Time had moved on, things had changed. I had got ordained. Craig had a great life down under and it would have been a completely stupid idea to fall in love, wouldn’t it? 10,000 miles apart? Both of us really happy where we lived and worked and neither wanting to move? Yup, that would be a completely stupid idea.

So, why am I sat on the 24th floor of the Sydney Harbour Marriott hotel with my capsule wardrobe (that’ll feature too; game changer), a pile of books, and a countdown to fresh air and human contact?!

In short, the answer to that is two-fold: the simple matter of a Global Pandemic and a tricksy God with an invitation I couldn’t turn down.

The thing about a pandemic being global means we’ve all experienced it, so you don’t need a(nother) blog to talk about cancelled travel plans, closed borders, postponed weddings, not seeing loved ones and how that combination creates the perfect storm to change perspectives. That’s a given, right?

But the Tricksy God thing might need a bit of unfolding.

There have been times in my life where I can, hand-on-heart, say I believe I have heard from God. I don’t say it lightly, nor often, because God is like Almighty and the Creator of the Universe, and all.  But sometimes I have felt called, or drawn, or led, or nudged, or booted up the backside, by that Source of All Life.

A while back I made a crazy promise (learn from me; don’t make promises like this lightly or you too might find yourself somewhere you never imagined). Anyways, a while back I kind of promised and kind of bargained with God a bit (again, risky). I said to God, ‘God, if I ever think you’re asking me to do something, I promise I will do it. If I’m not sure what you’re asking me to do I will do what I want to until you guide me otherwise’. It had a theological basis – check out this gorgeous prayer from Thomas Merton – – and I really meant it. Not in a ‘I’ll do what I want unless you stop me’ kind of way, but in a ‘I really want to do your will, if you will show me, Lord’.

During the UK lockdowns I had some pretty incredible moments with God. I realised for the first time that I am utterly loved by God – not for doing anything or being anything but just because. That was a great moment (and continues to be). And I also heard this call. It went something like this… ‘Babes (that was a new lockdown thing too – I know, it’s kind of odd to me too, but I like it so…) do you want to come on a holy adventure with me?’

God, in God’s infinite and warm grace and welcome was holding God’s hand out to me and inviting me on a holy adventure. I had never heard God speak to me like that before and it was kind of intriguing to start with. But God went on, ‘we can cause holy chaos together! I would love you to come. Come if you want!’

Come if you want? God was letting me choose? But how could I ever pass up an opportunity to go on a holy adventure, cause holy chaos, holy mischief even, with the King of all Kings? Particularly when God had been so kind as to extend the invitation!

God said so much more and has opened doors and borders where it didn’t seem possible but I’ll stop here for now. If I am going to be a Holy Adventurer, I need to kick this jet lag into touch and get some sleep!

Oh, and I’m determined to blog something on each of the 14 days of lockdown, and then regularly beyond that, so please keep me company. It’s pretty lonely up here!


  1. Coralynne says:

    Hi Gemma, it’s perhaps a bit weird your future mother-in-law commenting on your blog but I really enjoyed reading it. I hope this time in quarantine passes quickly and you still have your sanity when it’s over. Lots of love Cos xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kathrine says:

      Hello Gemma. Loved reading this as I ate my breakfast. Here it is wet, and windy oh yes and a warm 14. I have added Sydney to my weather app so I know it’s 20 outside your window. You can do this. Time will pass and you are so strong. Love you


  2. Karen Parr says:

    Good morning Gemma. I totally resonate with this. Am starting my retirement again tiday. An adventure with God and He lets us bring along our loved ones. Thank you dear friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Maureen says:

    Welcome to Australia Gemma. It is wonderful to know that your trip went so well. Really looking forward to meeting you

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Emilie De Bruijn says:

    Wording wise this is great. I’m hooked already!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Nicola Sumpter says:

    That was a great read! I’m looking forward to keeping up with your adventure!! Lots of love and a speedy safe passage through the isolation thing! Xx
    Nicola and Mick x


  6. Chris Watts says:

    Hooray there at last Gemma. Already missing you your lovely sermons on a Sunday morning. They were so interesting. Enjoy and rest your 14 days quarantine. Before the madness begins. Xx


  7. Stephen picton says:

    Day one of your Happy Ever After.
    You’ve been amazing to the people of Hartlepool, touched many hearts n souls.
    No go live your life to the fullest.
    And always remember your singing taxi driver matey lol.
    So when you here beautiful South or Joseph you’ll smile lol 😆


  8. Mum S says:

    A million little miracles!
    That’s wearing, God, and totally wonderful at the same time.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Nicola says:

    Goodmorning you beautiful ray of sunshine. With your amazing outlook these 14days will fly over. Enjoyed reading your blog cnt wait for more. Love and miss you lots Angel and Nicola xx


  10. Katie says:

    I look forward to the next installment Gemma.
    This could be a novel
    Best of luck katie


  11. Jo G says:

    Love this Gem.
    Already want the prequel to read.
    Expectant heart growing even more.
    Love you x


  12. Debbie ward says:

    Already I want to know more. So happy you arrived safely and 14 days will fly by, we will keep you company.
    Sending lots of love


  13. liljp says:

    Even in a hotel room, living life in all its fullness – once the jetlag has gone!
    Looking forward to these!


  14. Helen says:

    Hello Gemma, everyone’s prayers were answered and you got there safe and sound. Loved reading your blog, this is so you, upbeat and positive, we’re all going to miss that. Will keep in touch and hope it helps get you through this quarantine. Hope it doesn’t take too long to get over the jet lag. Loads of love and hugs xxx


  15. Valerie Davies says:

    These coming 14 days will be a doddle after what you have ben through to get to this point.I look forward to reading your blog each day and gladly join the many people keeping you company on line! Love-Val Daviesxxx


  16. Kathleen says:

    Love this! Can’t wait to hear more! Just one question, do you at least have a view out that window?


  17. Sue says:

    Loved your first blog and so pleased all went well on journey. Look forward to hearing your exciting new venture.


  18. Elaine Baker says:

    Loved the first edition of Holy Adventures, you write as you speak…beautifully! Looking forward to reading more, especially when you are joined by Craig and the gorgeous Maggie. Hope you manage to rest and recharge during your Sydney hotel time, take care now.xx


  19. Howard says:

    Hi Gemma. Great read. Beaconsfield Church combines food and faith And a Tipple as a fundamental! C u in church.


  20. Rosemary Spark says:

    Lovely to hear your “voice” in Australia at last. We are so looking forward to meeting you in person at St Paul’s . Let’s make “holy chaos” together


  21. Celia Andrews says:

    Dear Gemma, delighted that you’re joining us over in the West! Lovely to read your blog; looking forward to the next. Love and blessings, Celia 🤗


  22. Jeanette says:

    Beautifully written just like you – miss you already xxx


  23. Gabrielle Dean says:

    Lovely first episode, Gemma. Looking forward to following episodes. Can’t imagine how excited you must feel to at last being ONLY 3000kms from Craig, 😀instead of 13000! And only 2 hours time difference.
    Looking forward to meeting you in Perth.


  24. Julie Copson says:

    H Gemma, tell us wanna-be’s more about the romance! How did you go from nothing to something worth coming 10,000 miles for?


  25. Vera says:

    Brilliant blog Gemma loved reading 📖 them both. You ➿ look wonderful now. Look forward to reading more. Lots of love and hugs. Enjoy your rest and recharge your battery 🔋 xx


  26. Helen Williams-Young says:

    Hey Gemma, I just wanted to let you know what an inspiration you are, on so many levels. I have read both blogs so far and I have been really drawn in to your ongoing journey.
    I am sorry that I didn’t get to any of your leaving dos, but I am so thankful that you are sharing all this with us so I can keep checking in on you and know that you are safe and hopefully sane!
    Thank you for your faith and your wonderful zest for life.
    Much love Helen xxxxxxxx


  27. Michelle McHikoma says:

    Shalom mother Gemma, Already missing you and Also the morning service, you don’t how blessed I am watching your service every morning 😊. Most of the times I watch you when I’m in the bus going to the warehouse 😂, may the Lord continue to use you mighty In Jesus name. Amen,🙏💖


  28. Peter Newman says:

    Welcome to Australia Gemma. Hope your adventures continue to be blessed when you reach us at St Pauls. See you soon.


  29. Chris Wortham says:

    Loved your first Aussie blog, Gemma. It’s wonderful to have you with us at last. I say “at last”, because you seem to have ahd a long wait as well as this short one. I assure you that the natives are friendly and greatly looking forward to your presence among us. Great tributes of love from people in your former congregations in England remind us how much we owe to you in coming to be with us.


  30. Donna G Wood says:

    Welcome to Australia, Gemma. Thanks for taking time to write a blog, especially when I know how gruelling travel is at the moment. I really enjoyed your thoughts and I think you will fit in so well at St Paul’s. Please don’t be put off by the West Australian habit of closing our borders. We really are friendly here, just super cautious about COVID. So friendly, in fact, that I came here on holidays 50 years ago from the US and liked it so much, I ended up staying. Have a good rest during quarantine as I am sure that when you arrive at Beaconsfield you will be very busy. If you need a break then, I can recommend the glorious garden at St Paul’s. There are many places to stop for a short meditation and some refreshment from the ever blooming flowers and towering trees. Looking forward to meeting you and thanks again for sharing your thoughts..


  31. Pauline O'Hara says:

    Hi Gemma, I’m a warden at St Paul’s and it feels like you are already with us. Can’t wait to meet you. I hope the days will fly. The garden is blooming, spring has sprung and we will have new life when you arrive. See you soon. Pauline O’Hara


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