At Year’s End

I didn’t feel like making my weekly sum-up on Sunday, but I will return next week (this Sunday). But, I thought I would give a special ‘At Year’s End’ for today. I have to be honest and say it was a mixed year. With 2007 giving us Savannah and my ordination, 2008 would be a hard act to follow!

Savannah Says
We began the year looking forward to Savannah’s first birthday. We still have trouble believing how much she has grown! And she keeps on doing it. Savannah has provided us with lots of love and a whole host of entertainment! Watching her learn how to be her own person has it’s stresses (she always wants to do more than she can), but it’s facinating to see her get the hang of walking, talking, and feeding herself while her play becomes more purposeful and focused. Not long after her birthday she began nursery, which has caused her social development to leap. She went from extremely clingy in January (allowing almost no one to hold her) to becoming very comfortable with my parents in December, people she has only seen twice this year. With the arrival of Tim and Natalie’s son, she took a profound interest in babies. She also will spend loads of time simply colouring or drawing. She knows to get the paper out of the recyle bin and then will typically spend anywhere from 10-30 minutes with it! Her comfort in a church building is amazing, always wanting her own hymnbook when we sing.

All About April
Big change has also come to April. We knew her time would be running out for her availability to teach (as a non-qualified teacher [by UK standards] she had only 5 years to offer as an over-seas trained teacher), we needed to make decisions about what she wanted to do. She rejected gaining qualified status because we feared working and school would take her away from home too much. Since we are over here and all she had ever done was teach primary/elementary school kids, she figured why not try something new? After more than a summer looking for a job, we began to be discouraged. She got loads of interviews, but no offers. Until September when she interviewed a job at Accrington & Rossendale College. She didn’t get the job she was applying for, but they were so impressed they asked her to teach college classes (usually 16-18 year olds) and assess them in their field work (I am really simplifying this!). So far, we have managed to keep the work-life balance for her steady. We both feel she gets lots of time with both me and Savannah!

April also worked through the Worship Leaders course and was approved at church council. She hasn’t had much chance to lead, as local preachers’ and churches’ comfort with worship leaders appear to vary from circuit to circuit and church to church (and at times, preacher to preacher). Hopefully, she will have more chances to this year.

From My Vantage Point
It has been a struggle for me in my ministry this year. Disciple Bible Study stalled after the first course, as there has been little interest. That carried me through my first year of ministry in Blackburn, and it was a blow to have so few interested in a committed Bible study, let alone Disciple. Still, the former Disciple-ers carried on when some wanted to do a short-course.

Finding my style of ministry has also been a struggle. I don’t know if my mind truly wraps around only being at my churches once a month (twice maybe at the larger one). We have struggled to find a vision and agendas seem to cover more about the maintenance of the church. I often wonder if it is harder for older churches to grasp what it means to look to the future. They have been there for so long, why, they may wonder, wouldn’t they be in the future? ‘Where will we be in 5 or 10 years?’ is a question I have yet to find a way to ask in a meaningful sense.

In part with that, I need to find a way to confidently express my own vision – without fear of risk or failure. I look back at T.N.Tea, and while it has been warmly received, it has a questionable future. Not that it wouldn’t continue, but how it will form us as a church and reach out to others? I had this in mind when I began, but backed off on some of it fearing that it wouldn’t take off. I could name other points in this year that are similar, but I will end there.

Yet, there have been exciting developments at Mellor. Without me being able to take the time there, they have really taken to heart what I have been saying. Bible studies have formed, and plans are being made for an Alpha course. There is a lot to look forward to here.

Year-End Forecast
As I look to the year ahead for my personal growth, I need to grow in my own discipleship. I have let that dwindle through my frustrations and my bad habits I use as coping skills (mostly in the area of wasting time). I also need to change how I view prayer and study – I have usually struggled to see them as part of work, but as my chair of district likes to remind us, we are paid to pray! While it may not seem directly related, but close to my spiritual development is my health. I will look to regain my self-control when it comes to eating and exercise!

On the fun side, and perhaps looking toward spiritual development, April and I will take our first trip to the Holy Land. Well, that is, if the situation cools down. I remember my Greek professor at Duke, Mickey Efird, used to open each class with prayer, and each day he prayed that ‘cooler heads would prevail’ in the Middle East. Please pray for that situation.

Also, this year will be a discerning one for April, Savannah, and me. Though still a year and a half away, Year 4 for a British Methodist minister means stationing. There are a lot of big questions that April and I will be sorting through as the year progresses.

Year-End Joys
I can’t end without telling our families biggest joys, and there are many! These are in no particular order. Savannah’s first trip to the US. We had a great time for over two weeks with friends and family, including my cousin Tori’s wedding in Washington, D.C. (David, you’re ‘one of us’ now!).

Second, the Moore’s friendship. Tim, Natalie, and Nicholas have been fantastic friends to us this year. We can’t thank them enough.

Third, we are so extremley happy about the birth of our godson, born to two great friends of ours. I haven’t shared about it on the blog, as their story is not one for the internet. For those of you who know who we’re talking about, please continue to pray. We can’t wait for Savannah to meet her little godbrother!

Finally, today, April and I celebrate ten years. On 31 December 1998, we attended a New Year’s Eve party and have been dating since then. Of course, we met on Halloween of that year and I am thankful for every day of the 10 years since. I can’t believe it’s been that long!

So here’s looking to 2009!

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