Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Looking back and looking ahead

It's October already and since I last posted, it's been a whirlwind. I'm currently sitting in Oxford Youth Hostel where I am staying overnight whilst I do some training with 3DM around Learning Communities and Coaching. 
While I have the evening to myself, with no TV, children or husband to distract I thought it would be a good opportunity to do some reflecting and processing...

The week of my last post was probably the most difficult and yet most memorable of my life. In the midst of solo parenting, juggling work, childcare and house responsibilities with Andy in the States, I had my dear Grandad's funeral. People have asked me since how it went - and honestly, it went as well as it could. Lots of people, lovely service where my dad gave an incredible tribute and a chance to chat, reminisce and catch up at the wake afterwards. Isaac was with me - and he provided a welcome distraction, bit of entertainment and a fair amount of chasing as he attempted to escape the pub! It was lovely to have him there. We rounded off the day with fish and chips as a family in the restaurant which Grandad and Grandma used to frequent every Friday and took us all on many occasions. A fitting end to a difficult day. 
Other than that, September has had some significant moments:
Andy came back!! After a brilliant two weeks with our friend Jack and the staff and community of Apostles Anglican, Knoxville. He's still processing much of what he learnt but it was a great and varied experience. Neither of us liked being apart for 2 weeks...
We became Aunty and Uncle - my sister gave birth to gorgeous baby Thomas on 13th September and 
I finally managed to meet him last weekend. 
The Authorisation of Youthworkers in Chelmsford Diocese was launched which is the culmination of many years of hard graft - and heralds the beginning of much more work. But very exciting it is too! 
I went into hospital and came out again - procedure went as planned and my recovery has been good. A much needed window of 10 days at home, resting and recuperating in the midst of a crazy few weeks! 
Our TOM explorer Huddle began meeting - us plus 5 others looking at the Rule, Vows and life of TOM and considering whether it's a journey they wish to continue within a covenant community of Missional leaders.
The Friday Mums Missional small group which I'm part of began an Alpha course, using the student material which is shorter to fit in with our gathering and stages of faith. 
We're transitioning both out of our role leading youth work at Emmanuel (Pulse which meets at our house on Wednesdays currently and Rock Solid on Friday nights) and into our new extended family on mission at the Deeper Network Church in Romford. Our official last Sunday at Emmanuel is 20th October. It's exciting and yet painful to be saying goodbye...God has got great plans as we move on, for us and for the young people and families there which is very exciting, challenging and we know we will still be in touch with many. 

So heading into October, I'm currently away on this training programme, which is a great privilege and very challenging too. I'm really grateful to Pip and Rich and the team at 3dm who have developed this package for me. I'm doing the Latimer Learning Community this week and the Fresh Streams Learning Community the week after next in Sheffield - shadowing the facilitation team, joining in with Huddles, listening to teams as they process and inputting as I'm invited. On the one hand, I feel very thrown in, huge expectations on myself, sink or swim really, but brilliant to be able to learn as I go and be given the chance to explore and share from my own experiences and understandings of these principles which undergird so much of who we are as a family and how we see our ongoing ministry developing. 
Speaking of ongoing ministry, we are also in the midst of exploring a curacy option for summer 2014 which is also exciting and daunting. Big meeting this weekend to meet some people and dot and cross some details. But it's all a bit hush hush for now! 
We also have our little boy's 2nd birthday coming up - can't believe it really but just to grateful to be able to celebrate him with lovely friends and family on Sunday. I am so constantly amazed by my kids, can't believe I made them really. Some fantastic conversations recently with Matilda where her view of the world is so compassionate, so wide and full of potential. She doesn't limit her capabilities - telling me tonight on the phone that she could lead the youth group in my absence! Based on Isaac's language development recently, we'll soon be having 4 way conversations of that ilk! 

So, I'm pretty tired right now, after 4.30am wake up. But I'm also grateful for all that has been and all that is to come. Feel prompted again about starting with praise, acknowledging who God is and praising him before all else. In that place of perspective, we get the rest of our view in the right place. God is stretching us all hugely, as a family. I know He's ensuring that we are grounded in our identity in Christ and not in any achievement or title or role. There was a word shared this morning in the worship about how as leaders we are often wounded just through loving people, not necessarily through any fault of their or our own. But it is in that sacrifice of sadness that we have to come to the cross, remembering that Jesus too was hurt, wounded, scarred in his love for others. Completely, utterly, fully, without restriction. What a Saviour, what a God we follow! 

Heading for bed - Great British Bake Off downloaded from I player and a lovely meal in my tum. Night!