Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Results are in, decisions are made

St. Clare's

That might give you a clue, friends! I'm to commute to Queen's in Birmingham on a weekly basis, beginning in September, for a two year course. I shall start in the first year with a Certificate in Theology, Mission and Ministry, and aim to convert it to a Diploma in the second year. There's the opportunity to convert it to a BA and continue to do it as probationer studies, but let's not put the cart before the horse, as they say!

It's a challenge I'm looking forward to but I have to be honest and admit that the thought of going back to uni in my later forties is a bit daunting. No one that I have met in the process so far is doing that same arrangement, as they are all either doing the part time option or already live in Birmingham and will come in on a daily basis. I dare say, though, that I shall find new friends and cherish my existing contacts through email and messages, and will meet up very occasionally. We shall be ships that pass in the night, as they will come to Queens for 7 weekends each year on the part time pathway, and I shall be at home on weekends!

It is a term-time arrangement over 33 weeks of the year, and so I shall still be at home for long periods at Christmas, Easter and the summer, which is good when one has not long got married!!

The OH is a bit peeved though that my half term is not closer to our first wedding anniversary - Queens seems to go along with Birmingham school holidays rather than Cumbrian ones, naturally, and my week off falls a week later........he had something up his sleeve apparently and he is "sad" that we can't take that week together. For "sad", one can actually read, "very sad, verging on devastated." But that is life, and we are now, more than ever, going to be bound by terms!

I have handed in my notice with my job and will finish at the end of July. We've a Norfolk holiday planned in August and I shall see my family as well in that window of opportunity. Form filling will be the next chore - I had just got my tax return done, thank goodness - but there will shortly be forms to fill in for the college, and then for the church, to apply for funding etc. The course is fully sponsored by the church, so I have no loans to apply for, which is a blessing, and they give me a monthly bursary to keep me fed and clothed. And, joy of joys, I have discovered that despite being far from the 16-25 age range, I can apply for a railcard as a mature student, which will help the finances of the weekly train journeys to and from Birmingham no end.

The girls are doing well - the EFG is busily doing her dissertation and has her head down, working hard, but managed almost a week here with me not long ago, and that was lovely! The YFG has her last exam of the year tomorrow and then she will be home a week on Saturday, for a short while, before she heads off to Uganda for three weeks...... My stepson is in the midst of his GCSEs and I had a lovely message from him tonight, reminding me that it is a maths exam tomorrow and he will "just do his best" - he and I have worked together on some maths and he has a brilliant mental maths ability but doesn't always write down all the workings so he misses out on vital marks. He hopes to do A levels in September so we are praying he gets the results he needs to do those. 

Your comments and good wishes are a wonderful encouragement to me. Being completely honest, these last six months have not been a bed of roses. I'm still coming to terms with all that I have left behind in the Fens, and the distance between me and those I love there still. I'm getting used to being married to a man I had only really seen on high days and holidays, and the nitty gritty of working life for both of us has been quite different - and he is a younger man with a much more independent streak than the FH ever had, so I have to get used to allowing him to do things his way (and ooh, that's hard sometimes, when of course, I think my way is better ;) but I am getting there!) I'm also dealing with the loss of my beloved bridesmaid, a different job which I haven't really enjoyed very much, although the people are amazing, AND not really having had much opportunity to really make connections within my own denomination here. But God is GOOD, always, and I have been blessed with some brilliant new friends, some dedicated old friends who go the extra mile to keep in touch, daughters who are loving, mature and kind, a stepson who has taken me as I come, and most importantly, a very loving husband who adores me. There is much joy in all of this, despite the challenges, and whilst I do occasionally look back and wonder, I am doing that less and less as God points me forward to the way ahead and asks me to bloom where I am planted [Jer 29.4-14].

We have just had a week off together in the Cotswolds, and when I can move the photos from the phone to the laptop, via email, I shall share that with you too: it was lovely!

Friday, 12 April 2019

Folks, they said yes!

I was going to wait until I had the whole story to share, but I have had a gentle nudge so I'm back with what I know so far!! The selection committee of the Methodist Church has recommended me to be trained as a deacon. That bit is the good news.

What is still uncertain is as to how they intend to do that - there are several options and I still have to attend an interview at The Queen's Foundation in Birmingham on 10th May which will enable them to make the final decision - and I will know the week after. They could send me to Queen's full time as a weekly boarder Sun-Thurs term time for two academic years, or they could train me part time over three years. Both have pros and cons but after lots and lots of discussions here, we think we are coming down in favour of the two year option so that we can get on with it - but the Church has the ultimate decision - and we might ourselves have changed our minds after further chatting by the time the interview comes round. There is just so much to consider.

The interview process last month was just brilliant - the people were amazingly supportive and kind, and we all just felt very cocooned in the environment as we went through the procedures. It was good!  Nerve-wracking, but good!!

Friday, 22 March 2019

The time is drawing near...

Nearer and nearer draws the time, as the hymn assures us! The time for the big round of interviews for ministry has just about arrived: I'm leaving to head south in the morning, and will go to the conference centre where the interviews are held, on Monday. I will be there in various rounds of interviews from 3pm Monday for 24 hours, and should get home Wednesday afternoon. Praying for wisdom and discernment on the part of the interviewers, and courage and calmness, inspiration and blessing from God for me in this process - I am nervous and it feels a bit like I'm about to sit an A level in Methodism without really knowing what's on the curriculum - the scope for the questioning is vast! 

Many thanks for all your support and kind words since the last post - glad to be here and to hear from you all.  The outcome of the interviews will be made known to us on 3rd April, so if I don't get back here before then, I shall hope to be back with news shortly thereafter.

I've got a virus at the moment so I am resting as much as I can and will be taking the journey tomorrow in lots of stages! I spent Tuesday in bed and only ventured out briefly Thursday though I went to work this afternoon for an hour and came home exhausted and had to sleep for an hour to get some energy back... This is partly why I am travelling tomorrow - so that I can rest on Sunday before I have to go to the centre on Monday.

Much love to you all!

Friday, 8 February 2019

From the North

Yes, I'm now blogging from the north instead of from the east - I moved up here at the end of October, and am just about finding my way around: I still get lost but not as often as I did to start with, and rely less on the satnav to find Sainsbury's!

The EFG is half way through her post grad course at Edinburgh - it is hard work but she is enjoying the placements and working hard. The YFG is entrenched in Newcastle life and producing some satisfying essay results, so we have to be reassured that she is well able to manage sports, social and work lives to the max! She has joined the Gymnastics club and is participating again as a gymnast so we hear tales of what she has been able to do in the gym each week. Next week she flies off to Berlin with the Geography Society for three or four days of adventure, and in the summer, she is going with a group to Uganda for three weeks - there is no stopping this one! There is a fundraising campaign underway as she will be working with an organisation called East African Playgrounds to build a playground at a school, and she has to make a sizeable donation to that cause as well as pay for her trip.

The two cats, his and mine, have settled in to some kind of truce that only brings about hissing if they meet in a confined space like a doorway or on the stairs, but his is out a lot of the time and my old lady cats spends her days sleeping in the sun, so there aren't too many arguments. Mine has yet to step foot outdoors on her own - the girls took her out very briefly at Christmas but she was on a lead. She has settled into the cattery now, having been there three or four times, and gets on well with the owner, whom she allows to give her her medication, which she won't yet let my husband do! He has had the scratched hands to prove his willingness to try though....

I've got a new job working for an Anglican parish in the city as a community worker, 20 hours a week. I just started that last month, so I am really just getting going with that.

Two pieces of news, one good and one sad....  our beloved bridesmaid, my co-worker in the Fens, who wasn't going to let me leave the Fens unless she could be my bridesmaid, died in December, scarcely two months after the wedding. She was diagnosed with lymphoma on 7/11, having gone into hospital on the 5th. She never came home. I went to stay with a friend so that I could visit for two days, whilst she was in Critical Care, but when I left, she was hoping to be moved back to the ward, but she took a turn for the worst, and didn't get any better, suffering multiple heart attacks, and dying just before Christmas.  The Fens ministry team, which was the Super, the new minister and I, conducted the cremation service and the service of celebration of her life together at the end of January. It was a very sad occasion but it was a joy to remember all that she had loved, done and wanted to share in life - she was passionate about sharing the gospel and so we reflected on that in the service and shared much of her life with others - the church was packed and about 50 or so folk had to stand or perch on the cushions around the communion rail! That was an accurate reflection of the love that people had for her, and respect for how she lived her life for God.

The better news is that the District Candidates' Committee have unanimously recommended that I go forward to the Connexional [national] committee next month, which is great! It was a very challenging experience to get through, in the same week as the funeral, but it was positive and affirming in its approach, and they were all lovely people. Now I have to go to London next week for an interview with the warden and deputy warden of the Methodist Diaconal Order, and then wait to know the exact dates I'm to attend the national committee - I know which week it is but not yet which 24 hour period. Those of you who pray, I'd be grateful to be included in your prayers as this discernment process continues.

And so I continue to settle into life up here: days at work, days off, trips into the Lakes for walks, the odd cinema visit [Mary, Queen of Scots and The Green Book most recently], odd visits to Newcastle and Edinburgh, exercise - I've joined the local pool/gym and swim now three or four times a week, worshiping with three denominations over the course of each month, taking the odd service here and there, although I shall be back on the plan properly from next month and preaching regularly for the Methodists, but I am also taking occasional services for the Kirk.

God is good and continues to bless us, amongst the challenges, and we are doing well. I'm happy to be here with my husband [he needs an abbreviation if I'm going to blog regularly again!], not far from my girls, and finding my way.....

Thanks for dropping in xx

Friday, 5 October 2018

Wedding day fast approaches

Two weeks tomorrow is the day we plan to get married! Life is hurtling past at speed and the day is fast approaching - and it is exciting and scary at the same time....

The EFG graduated from Aberdeen in June and did well enough that she is now doing postgraduate studies at Edinburgh uni - still in Scotland, bless her! The YFG has just started at Newcastle uni to do Geography. Once I get to Carlisle at the end of the month, we will all be within a reasonable distance of one another. 

Graduation was a special day in June when the chap and I went up to Aberdeen to share it with the EFG. We arrived the day before and took her out for a meal that night as she was going to the graduation ball the night of the graduation, and the chap had to hike back to Cumbria on the train to go to work again the next day. I was able to stay and bring her and all her stuff back home - the Yeti was packed to the maximum capacity! It has been great to have her here all summer and to have some precious time together.... although my dad did very generously send them off on a cruise in July - they saw some of the coastline of Croatia and Italy, embarking the boat at Malta so the trip included their first experiences of flying. They did very well and enjoyed every minute.

I had a more sedate holiday in Northumberland in a cottage at Belford with the chap and his son, and the YFG joined us for most of the time.

The house has just about sold - God's been teaching me a valuable lesson about trusting him for the times that things happen so He has brought us to this point before the right buyer came along! I had three couples all wanting to buy the house but all subject to selling their own properties - and then a young first time buying couple came along so that there is absolutely no chain: it is just them buying this house.  I do suspect that they may be getting some parental support with the purchase, but as long as they come up with the money, I will be happy - and it is such a weight off my mind to know that I don't have to rent it out or leave it on the market once I am gone from here.

And I shall be gone from here in about three and half weeks - a man and a van are booked and we head north on the 31st.  I shan't be growing in the fens any longer, but I'm certain I still have a lot of learning and growing to do.  Cogitating in Cumbria? Maturing in the mountains? From Fens to Fells? We'll have to think of something!

I have officially stopped working here now and my time is focused on the candidating procedure for the ministry, packing, organising last minute things about the wedding and wondering how to fit it all in. I was quite stressed at the beginning of the week but I seem to have calmed down a little bit now, thank goodness. The YFG is nipping home tomorrow until Tuesday due to some cancelled lectures, so I am looking forward to hearing more about her first two weeks in Newcastle - she has already connected with a gymnastics club there so she clearly has her priorities straight!

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Updates from the Fens

You wouldn't believe the procrastination I have had to overcome to work out how to get back in here after so long! I had forgotten so many passwords..BUT I'm here now - and glad to be able to catch up.

Thanks for the gentle nudges which have come my way in the last few weeks - lovely to know that you are still here and interested.  Life has moved on significantly here and there is lots to tell! Weird to realise that I haven't been here since last August....

The EFG went back to uni in September and has just today had her final exam. She should get the results on the 25th May and then graduates in June - and I have to fetch her and all her stuff home! She's looking at post grad courses in Edinburgh or Bristol at the moment, depending on the results.

The YFG has had quite a year: she's continued working at the cathedral six days a week and then she has got jobs in two different gymnastics clubs to work to gain experience for doing a Level 2 coaching qualification - and she passed the final assessment for that about two weeks ago! She works in one capacity or another 7 days a week and has not had much time to herself at all. She has applied herself to it all very well and done herself credit. She has also applied to uni again and has accepted an unconditional offer to go to Newcastle to read Geography in September.

And me? I'm working hard in the church, full time now - 37 hours a week. The Superintendent is currently off sick for a long period so I am holding the fort with three supernumerary ministers [retired] and today an acting Superintendent has been appointed to work with us from a distance - he will advise by telephone and email and come over for big meetings but not be here on a day to day basis.

I'm pursuing the process to candidate for the Methodist ministry as a Deacon - this is an Order of ministry which is permanent - we do not have Deacons who are on their way to becoming presbyters. This is the calling I have and I feel very settled on it so I hope that the selection committees affirm it and put me forward. I have a long process to get through and won't know whether they are accepting me until next March.

By that time, [drum roll] I will be married and living in Cumbria!

The chap and I are getting married here in the Fens in October in my big church and the house is on the market so that I aim to move up there to be with him permanently after we are married. If God wills it, the house will sell at the right time and all will work out. Let's pray that it all comes together!

2018 is turning out to be one heck of a year - marriage, candidating, moving house, YFG off to uni, EFG graduating!!  It won't be a year to forget in a hurry....

I shall attempt to come back more often now that I have sorted the password out - and wish you all very well!

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Exam relief

The days have passed and it's all getting better now, but the anxiety levels in the house were skyrocketing as the day approached on which the YFG would find out her A level results. She went off to school at 0645 Thursday morning to open the envelope - and it felt like the envelope held so much more than just a piece of paper with some letters on it!

Turns out she's one bright girl - A* in Religious Studies, A in Geography and B in Politics.  She's blown the predictions out of the water and done so much better than she had even dared to hope. The place she was holding at Norwich would have been settled with lower grades, and now that she has the grades in the bag, so to speak, decisions have been made: she's going to reapply for autumn next year, and she can apply to more challenging universities this time around... because she knows what she has to offer.  So here we go again with some open day visits etc, but it'll be fun.......[I'm trying hard to convince myself of this, as this will be the third time!]

The job she has already secured for the holidays is hers to continue after some discussion there yesterday, and she will look for more work to supplement that as it is only 15 hours a week.

The EFG is here for another two weeks and then heads back northwards, I've some more dates booked with the chap from the Lakes, and lots of work to keep me busy. Life continues and we're all looking forward with anticipation - we're all September-lovers who rejoice in fresh beginnings in the autumn. There's a little chunk of me which is secretly quite chuffed to keep my baby at home for another year, but I do appreciate that it is only postponing the inevitable - but she will be saving hard, working hard and I hope enjoying herself as well in this intervening time.

Much love to you all - and I hope that those of you with folk awaiting results or had results are doing OK too xx