Just an update because I felt like it and the work is piling up to such an extent, it will probably be a while before I blog again. Unless I blog my work as I think, which I often do.
Life goes on and decisions get made. We have changed the children's schooling. We have become a one car family. We are probably going to sell the house. We are slowly selling a lot of the contents of our house on Ebay.
It is a time for pruning back, for taking a long hard look at our lives and allowing God to invade every element, for as he gets bigger, his embrace becomes stronger and his perspective is the one we consult. My husband will stay home to support us over the final year, which I will complete as a full-time ordinand. It could mean we will have to move sooner than we had hoped, we will wait and see. If he works away, he earns, if he stays home, we rely on bits of work here and there (and Ebay). It's going to be quite tough. If he works away, the childcare swallows up a lot of what he earns so it all becomes a vicious circle, really.
I think our love-language is 'presence'. I have not actually read the book yet about this way to analyse your relationship but I am happier when he is around. Husbands working away to earn money to keep families in a particular life-style but never to see their famililes - we just don't get that! It works for some, I will not deny it, but the 'well-off and miserable' doesn't compare for us to the 'poor and happy' and by most of the world's standards, we are not poor: food, clothes, roof over our head (for now), what more do we need?
So it's five days hols in a tent rather than two weeks abroad, hardly a trauma!
College life progresses. We are all more comfortable in one another's presence now, a big family, sometimes squabbling but most of the time enjoying each other's idiosyncrasies. We are all so different and it is amazing, beginning to see the passions that God is giving people for particular ministries so that when they talk, they exude vision for that particular hobby-horse, that particular goal, and you can see how they might be used in the future. Some missional, some so evangelistic, some for children, others the marginalised, some exuding the Holy Spirit's effect on their lives, others with a passion to revive liturgy and rediscover the old. We are high church and low church, Anglo-Catholic and Evangelical, Charismatic and earnestly desiring, reluctant charismatic, conservative and open, mainstream middle-England, called to rural, inner city, UPA and suburbia.
The curacy process is beginning and Bishops reports are slowly making their way into our inboxes for our scrutiny. I have not received mine yet and I wonder if anything will surprise me or whether I will instead sense with amazement how well they know me and that rather than being this person indistinct and ordinary, there are particulars about me that distinguish me from other people. I have always found it a little strange to realise distinctness and individuality, it is as if you can see it in others, but living inside your own head every day and waking up in the same body every morning, you wonder if there is anything really distinct about you. There is, I guess.
So reports and CVs will be sent to prospective incumbents and we can only view one church at a time. It is not like you can keep your options open and hedge your bets, keeping one on the back-burner while you investigate another to see if it is better. No, you must see each church through to the end of the process and if you think you discern you are being called somewhere else, you must end relations with one church before investigating another. So I will be praying hard. I have had experiences of God speaking directly into situations, sometimes with surprising answers and so I will trust he will do the same again.
In July, I will work for two weeks on placement with an outreach program to the homeless, the drug-addicted and the marginalised. Before that, I will preach my first proper sermon as an ordinand, on the book of Jonah to about seventy 18 - 40 year olds. In July, I will lead my first service for a congregation of about 300 people in a Charismatic Evangelical church and in August, I will attend 'New Wine' and partner my spiritual director on the prayer ministry team, which always feels like such a huge privilege. It is amazing to see people coming into the presence of God and spend time listening to their angst and desires. Mike Pilavachi preached last Saturday at Trent Vineyard and the Holy Spirit just swept through that place and people came to know Jesus, some of them perhaps for the first time.
The children are taking it all in their stride, too young yet to be embarrassed by the whole thing or even be aware that there is another way to live. It is all normal - God and church and prayer and yes, we are not immune to the occasional complaint but for now, we are enjoying their open-mindedness, the love they have for God, even when they pray prayers like 'Huh, God, thanks for the worst day ever!', when they get a telling-off or can not stay up as late as they were hoping.
Blogging is still a way of keeping in touch, exploring half-baked thoughts, reacting to things that tick me off as carefully as I can. I can usually predict the Australian annoyance at some of my more gender-centred posts. I usually encounter some sort of feedback when I blog about manifestations of the Holy Spirit. It is a great way to research essays and follow links across the world, and keep up with the latest Synod developments before they hit the newspapers, which I find it harder and harder to find time to read these days.
It gives me great joy when blogging friends send me extracts of their latest books or articles I might be interested in. I have just received this part of a book from 'Jesus says Hey', which I really enjoyed:
So God and God’s people go back and forth over the centuries. In fact the metaphor of “lovers” is used by God’s spokespersons to try and get things worked out. They water, they cry and they prune. To no avail. In the last great effort to get things worked out God puts flesh on the Word and Jesus comes into our midst. I like to think about it as the greatest attempt to love ever made. After all is said and done, some of Jesus’ people even see it as a “second start” for creation with Jesus being a new and perfect expression of the first of humankind.
The good stuff balances out the criticism and I do not mind the criticism, it sharpens up my thinking. It helps me to take a long, hard look at myself.
So one more step along the road I go...
and it is all going so fast...
and in many ways it is all a huge excruciating privilege...
...excruciating because it is cruciform - cross-shaped - it is glorious but painful, costly and fulfilling...but I am glad in it!