Since I last blogged, a lot has happened.
Andy has been to Tanzania and returned safely - having had a life changing, challenging and amazing experience of how a community can be mobilised to make a difference to it's own people. Some of his photographs are absolutely amazing and I'm still hearing new stories and reflections as he chats to others and responds to questions. If you'd like to know more, check out this link to Tearfund Transform's info page
Sadly, while Andy was away in Africa his grandfather died on 20th February after suffering a massive stroke on 2nd February. The funeral was this Thursday just gone, up in Newcastle so we've both been doing a lot of travelling. It was a wonderful day of celebration and remembering, obviously tinged with sadness but so many slivers of joy and hope breaking through into the grief. I know Andy is in the process of writing some of his own thoughts about Grandad Jack (or Gramps as our kids called him) and he will post them on here in due course.
I've been really snowed under with work and it's pretty full on right up until the end of term when I'm off for a week and we go away as a family. It's been a privilege (and a very daunting one at that!) to be teaching on the St Mellitus Youth Ministry degree course last Monday and this Monday coming. A really great group of engaged and interesting youth workers with a multitude of experience behind them. Couple of other exciting projects include starting the Innovate training for youth leaders and volunteers after Easter and the Growing Young Leaders programme for young people aged 14+ in April. I'm away quite a lot in the next few weeks - National Youth Advisers conference, Diocesan conference and Pilgrimage in Sheffield - all great opportunities in their different ways.
We've just filled in a preference form in connection with Andy's curacy starting in summer 2014 - requesting our ideas on where we might like to be, what kind of context, churchmanship and community and any other thoughts about where God might be calling us at that stage. This is probably not the place to discuss things too openly apart from to say we're up for anything really and have chosen a wide range of options and now need to sit back and let the process work. Which is another daunting prospect!
Lent disciplines are going well on some days and not so on others. I have managed, on most days, to keep to my limit of £1 extra spending - usually involving a chocolate injection! It's been important to plan what we eat and also challenging to still be hospitable within reasonable limits on spending. After a number of months of quite tricky times with Andy being under considerable pressure and then his grandfather being poorly, it now feels as though we can cement things at home a bit more, beginning with two families coming for lunch tomorrow after church. The stuff going on amongst school mums and local community events is also exciting.
I've been prayerfully considering some options for how my work might pan out over the next few months and years. Again, not able yet to say anything concrete but much of the supervision, coaching and huddling work that I do in my 'day job' has some possibilities for ongoing work, depending on where we might end up in 2014. Within all these wonderings, God is clearly at work and reminding me that I need to be patient and trust His timing. He has been faithful up until now and that will not change!
So, March begins with a renewed sense of focus and drawing near to Easter, that seems very hopeful.