Wednesday, 22 May 2013

An unusual working day...

I've just completed a very unusual working day for me. I have sat in one room, from the moment I started work at 9.15am this morning through til 4pm when I left to pick up Isaac. Within that, I have had a couple of trips to the loo, a walk to the kitchen to fill up the kettle and a wander outside for 10minutes while I ate my sandwich. But other than that, I have worked on one project for the majority of the day and it feels very, very odd.
Tomorrow I'm spending the day with my colleagues Rachel and Andy. We schedule in an Away Day once a term, to give some focus to our tasks and to tackle bigger projects more strategically with more prayer and with more time. Tomorrow is an extra as we're doing some comparative review work on our roles to enable us to make sense of how Youth Advisers work in this Diocese. The new Transforming Presence agenda of strategic priorities for our Diocese has initiated this work as well as some succession planning, but that's not really the point of this post. 
I knew that putting my work - projects, networks, responsibilities, youth workers, churches, programmes, relationships - into an easily usuable format was bound to be a tricky task. But it has taken me a lot longer and been more arduous than I expected. But I have enjoyed it...
My usual day is most likely to contain 3 or 4 different events; meetings, 1:1 sessions, desk time, car journeys, phone conversations, visits to parishes or projects, research, email catch up etc. I enjoy the variety and flexibility that my job brings and allows, but I almost always feel that I never have the time to do anything in as full a way as I would like. Carving out today for just one task was such a new experience and in many ways I enjoyed the focus it brought. I didn't have to watch the clock as much and I was able to listen to music and some podcasts to help me think a bit too. 
As an ESFJ working in isolation is not my preference. But I have learnt that there is something very necessary in deliberately 
working in your shadow self. Andy was encouraged to do it when he was going through the discernment journey 
before ordination selection. He's an ENTP. As Extroverts, spending time alone is not our preference - which doesn't mean that 
it doesn't do us good or get the best out of us. It's just a little harder but in small doses, very enjoyable and productive. 
So, what is God saying through today? I know that I need to invest more time in reading, reflecting and 
researching, making space to do my work as well as possible within the boundaries of family, church, marriage 
etc.  I also need to acknowledge that my workload at present is unsustainable - God spoke very powerfully to me, 
just as I was sitting listening to some worship music, about how much I worry and that I don't need to. 
Simple eh? 
It's good to be home, with a clear evening ahead. Andy is at a stag do and I shall have some time out from 
structured work and get an early night too. 

Saturday, 18 May 2013

DYO Conference

Spent part of this week at the National DYO Conference, with colleagues from other Dioceses doing similar jobs to me. Having said that, sometimes the only similarity is the word 'youth' in the job title but so great to hear about the ways churches, communities, projects and workers are drawing alongside young people and impacting school particularly. Some excellent, thought provoking presentations from Graeme Codrington from Tomorrow Today around generational theory and predicting future trends in technology, demographics, environments, culture and relationships which will massively effect the way we understand young people and the way we do youth work. Great stuff.

Late last week, one of our friends from the Friday Mums group had given birth to her third baby, a boy, at home, 9lb 1oz. On Sunday night, before I went away I heard that he had been admitted to hospital with suspected meningitis and was very poorly. Thank God he is now out of hospital, on the mend, having had millions of tests, lumbar punctures, drips of antibiotics and glucose and much trauma. 
Since I've been back, I've been thinking a lot about community...what that means for us as a family in the here and now. Its different to what we have experienced before. Being back with a bunch of DYO's again was lovely, made me realise that I am properly back at work, 11 months in. But really, aside from a few of the people who I see most often from my region and some others who I have spent time with in previous years, it's a community of acquaintances, brought together because of a similar role. I enjoy my time with them, respect hugely the influence and experience they bring but it's not a community.
Contrasting that with a sense of being very much 'away' from my community here at home while there was a crisis going on. Personally, I discovered the huge comfort and power of prayer when words just don't make sense or cover the need. I also had a realisation of primacy of Gods call to make disciples and live alongside people. My calling is much wider than just youth ministry although that is where my passion lies. But I think I'm gaining a greater understanding of the Temple and Home continuum that Mike Breen and others have taught on. For me at the moment, my Temple base is our church worshiping venue, the place where we do youth work and those we are working with while Andy is training. And wonderful they are too. Home is where we have ended up living, where the kids are building community with friends and families and we're seeing people asking questions about our faith, people who don't care what our role is and who we can eat, talk, cry and pray with vulnerability. 
With Pentecost being celebrated this week, the scriptures in Acts 2 seem to hold this continuum in focus - the disciples gathering together, under the apostles teaching, sharing everything, praying and supporting. It's been amazing to see that happening, amongst mature Christian, new believers, those on the fringes this week. In a situation where there was pain, panic, uncertainty, fear, people rallied round and prayer became a dynamic conversation.The chapel nights we have started doing recently had a massive attendance on Tuesday. The light of the Kingdom, right there...

Thursday, 9 May 2013


We're living amongst Andy's end of year 2 deadlines for his course at St Mellitus. He handed in some essays last week, will hand in another 2 assignments this afternoon and final deadline is Monday 20th May. 
Anyone who has been with me the last two weeks will know that I find it really hard to separate myself from Andy's deadlines and just let him get on with it. I'm not really sure why - part of it is my personality type to be the organiser of the home and making it all tick and something like study is not like 'work' with an end point, there is always more to do. Part of it is that he doesn't study the way I do - pressing deadlines are always a motivator for me and I can't switch off the nagging feeling of something needing to be finished. Andy also works best under pressure but needs more people contact and opportunity to externally process when he's studying than I do. I think the task focused part of me wants him to just write the blooming thing and get it done but I also know that he writes better when he's worked through some of his arguments and thoughts with other people. 
So it's been a bit of a stressful and tricky time  these last few weeks. Within it all, I've been very much aware of how different things were a few months ago when Andy was finding every aspect of his training incredibly difficult. The fact that he is soon to hand in all year 2 work, on time and will secure a foundation degree (all being well) is an incredible testament to his determination and focus and I am very proud of him. 
2 years down, 1 year to go... this time next year, like some of Andy's colleagues at the moment, we will be preparing to move on from Billericay and go to wherever God has called us for a curacy placement. It's crazy how quickly the time is flying and our biggest prayer is for wisdom in decisions we will have to make and for peace in our family. Pray with us...
It was my birthday this week and Andy took a break from his studies to make me this yummy cake! X love him!