We've just had a wonderful holiday, and we are so grateful for the gift we get to make that happen. It was much needed and a huge benefit to both of us. The photo above was taken on holiday - whilst we were eating lunch at our favourite place overlooking the bay. The sun kept catching a heart shaped leaf - even to my poor eyesight it stood out against everything else. It was only on closer inspection we realised it was on a 'Crown of Thorns' bush. It was a significant find.
We arrived back to another unexpected - and this time anonymous - gift that has been a massive blessing. We would dearly love to say thank you, so if it was you, consider yourself thanked - we greatly appreciate your love and support.
The holiday marked the start of a sabbatical for me. This is something I should have done a while ago, and has the full support of our council of reference and the leaders of our sending church. Many of my colleagues who work for organisations are given the opportunity to have these regularly, but when, like me you work for a 'movement' and not a structured organisation...they sort of never happen. So after 25 years in full-time ministry, here I am!
I intend to blog through out the sabbatical. This will be for those who want to pray for me as I look at what God wants for my future - be that more of the same with some changes and a renewed passion, or a new direction altogether.
But right at the start of this wonderful thing, I find myself in the middle of a PIP reassessment that shouldn't be happening for another 2 years. I have a face to face assessment with Capita next Thursday - and to be honest....I'm worried. I need the car, and I need the benefit to pay for all those extra expenses that come with having a disability. If the DWP decide I don't need it, I will have to appeal, meaning my much needed sabbatical will be taken up (and ruined) by this appeal - as they take a long time! I would win the appeal, but who wants to go through this gut wrenching process? Could you pray that this assessment goes through easily, and that I get put on the new 10 yearly assessment plan as a result.
So, if the PIP assessment goes through ok, what do I intend to do with this time? Well, I will be honouring existing bookings, so you will see some work happening - such as assemblies and the One Way European Creative Arts and Puppet Festival. I'm even being interviewed on Premier radio in October! But the rest of the time will be spent resting, taking in and asking the 'what next' questions of God. What do I lay down, what do I keep, and what do I pick up. These are questions I ask every year around this time, but I want to give more listening time and have some much needed rest time. I've got some good books lined up to listen to - starting with Ann Voskamp's 'The Broken Way', and some coffee dates with long neglected friends.
I went to a conference yesterday that gave me much food for thought and things to steer my thinking and praying throughout the sabbatical. I will share most of this, but not all - some things need to be just between me and God.
If you're serious in wanting to join me in praying - drop me your email address using the contact page, and I'll send out a link every time I update. It will be quite ad-hoc, so don't expect a weekly update!
If you feel God is saying something that you want to share with me - test it first, and then share. I'm very open to this, but wary of opening the floodgates - hence my request to test it first. I will probably bat it to and fro with you to get a sense of your thoughts on it and then share with my council of reference and church leadership for them to test and weigh it in prayer. I've already had and appreciated some valuable input from friends - some of which I may share when I have weighed a little further.
Meanwhile, my next post is already planned: "Lessons From a Diamond"