I’m much better at looking ahead than looking back, but truth is it’s in looking back that we make more informed and wise decisions about the future.
Some immediate reflections on the year that has been:
Long service leave was both a joy and a disappointment – The first two-three months were fun as we visited new places and had new adventures, but by the time we had landed in Newcastle it was clear my back pain was here to stay and my chances of enjoying the NSW surf coast was just gonna be a non-event. The last 2 1/2 months were more about working our way home than really travelling. I thought we would run out of time with 6 months, but Danelle (who thought it would be too long) was correct. I didn’t have the experience I had hoped for – which isn’t to say it was a waste of time – although there were moments as we drove thru inland Qld where it did feel a bit like we were wasting time. The highlights of the time away were undoubtedly reconnecting with so many old friends. We were blessed to be able to catch up with people from so many segments of our life. Those were the really joyous moments!
When a ‘once in 20 years’ wave breaks and you are there with one other person… thank you Tassie!
Pain has stepped up a notch – I left home for long service leave with some pain in the gluteal muscle and it just got worse and worse. By half way thru long service leave I was stuck in bed for nearly a week. Seems I have a nerve pressing on L4 /L5 vertebrae meaning sciatica and pain is just the daily norm now. I can still walk and work but with pain. Apparently I walk all wonky, but its just my body adjusting to compensate. It gives my friends a chuckle!
Surfing isn’t even a possibility so that is really taking some of the joy out of life. That pain added to the previous pain I have had for 5 years has kinda dulled the edge of what was promising to be a fun year.
Editing sucks – I really enjoyed getting the raw product together for my book The Future is Bivocational, but now I am editing each chapter with the assistance of an actual competent editor. It reminds me again I am a 90% guy who gets stuff done well, but not perfectly. It is agonising having to scrutinise every word, phrase and sentence to try and improve the final product. I am ready to move on but I need to finish this project… I had hoped to be finished and published by March – which would make it 2 years in process, but given my current headspace that is immersed in business, I doubt that will be happening.
I still love my work – We arrived back in Perth early September and we had one month of holiday left. We stayed on leave from church but I was completely ready to pick up the tools and get working again. I missed being productive and the satisfaction of fixing something. My friend Dave did a brilliant job of running the business while I was away and it has been great to have someone working two days a week consistently over spring / summer. I’m not sure how I would have managed otherwise! My body hurts everyday, but it’s either stay at home and hurt or go to work. I’d rather work, and just try and be smart about the stuff that is gonna flare the pain. After 15 years I have so many ‘regulars’ and people I have connected with over the years that half the fun are the relationships themselves. And I think that’s what I always hoped for which is why my business generally brings me so much joy.
‘Caravan weighing’ has kicked off as I hoped – While on holidays I launched a new business – www.weighmycaravan.com.au and we are currently running at about 2 jobs/week. If I can double that in 2022 and double again in 2023 then we will begin to establish a more sustainable business. Once we get to 10-12 jobs a week we have a profitable little enterprise. There’s no rush to make it ‘work’ and no pressure either so it’s nice to be able to ‘slow burn’ this thing into existence. While it will supply us with a bit of income in the years ahead my hope is that we may be able to employ church planters who need work to sustain them while they plant churches. So it’s as much a missional project as a personal business venture.
Business futures – I’d love both businesses to be places local church planters can make a decent income while they do their mission work, so I’m happy to step back or step up as needed. In the areas near us there is great potential for new church communities to be established so I’m praying that will happen. The limitation of my businesses is that you need some muscle to work in either, so if you can’t lift heavy things or work hard in hot weather then I can’t use you.
Church stuff – as of today I drop my role to one day a week across both of our churches. On the occasions when we have met as a whole staff team I have sensed the energy of our other younger team members I have just sensed the spirit saying ‘get out of the way.’ So my hope is to be creating space and finance for others to flourish. We have no plans for leaving either Quinn’s or Yanchep but I see my own role being much more fluid in the coming years. I hope we continue to offer really valuable support both locally and to others who want to tread the missionary path in our own backyard. We are a long way from making a real missional dent in this country but I am as committed to this vision as I have ever been.
Empty nesters – crikey… while we were away on LSL our son Sam moved out of home (much to his mum’s anguish) and now lives south of the river working and living with cousins. It’s been a great decision on his behalf and he has really flourished, as he has had to develop his own identity apart from us. Ellie landed a nursing grad program starting in April so she will also be moving out around then. We didn’t expect to be in this space quite so soon! But it’s landed on us so we just have to figure out what life looks like minus kids in the home. We could downsize or we could take occasional boarders / guests for whatever reason. We have a nephew living with us at present using Sams room and that is fun, but we aren’t sure how long that arrangement will last.
Marriage – we ticked over 30 years of marriage in April which is fair effort and as we left on holidays it was with the expectation that we would have a blast together. We did for a bit but then we started annoying each other. I think being with one person 24/7 while on the road was harder than either of us expected. Back home we rarely clash, but the trip took us to some interesting places (and I don’t mean travel destinations.) We made it thru, but it was a reminder that there is still work to be done on our marriage if we intend to enjoy life together rather than just being housemates. So we are very much a ‘work in progress’.
Focus – I am big on ‘focus’ even if I am very flexible on method. I still blog at this location (www.backyardmissionary.com) because that is still who I am. I want to help Australian people get a vivid sense of who Jesus is and call them to give their lives to him. It continues to be a stretch and while I haven’t lost that focus I’d say I have become more relaxed in my approach. I’m happy to tell you straight what I am about, but I’m not worried if you aren’t interested either. I feel like I have shifted in my view of mission to seeing it as more something God does and we join in with as needed, rather than something we do on his behalf. So if he ain’t at work then we might as well chill as there isn’t anything gonna happen anyway.
60 looms. I’m 57 at the moment and pain has been my friend for the last 5 years in various forms. This year I am going to actively – maybe even aggressively – pursue surgical help, especially for the current nerve issue. I can’t surf or lift heavy stuff so my life has been really curtailed by this issue. We just have to bite the bullet and get both issues fixed – whatever it costs. We haven’t had health insurance for all of our married life – a conscious choice – but we may need to sign up for a bit to get some of this work done… of course the penalties for being a health insurance non-conformist are astronomical! It’s like having a mortgage again…
New Interests – I like to learn, explore, delve into at least one new thing each year. Since coming home I have started watching the NBA basketball on Kayo, with the Brooklyn Nets my team of choice – solely due to the presence of Patty Mills. I jokingly tell people that the Aussie Boomers bronze medal win in the Olympics was the happiest day of my life. Having followed the team since 1981 and having seen so many opportunities slip thru our fingers, it was incredible to watch the boys pull it off. And you couldn’t not be inspired by the leadership and energy of Mills. So I’ve decided to engage with something new and the NBA is a growing interest. What’s bizarre is that as I watch I find myself wanting to play again – wanting to do those things they do – but my last (brief) experience of playing was a stark reminder that I no longer am able to do those things 🙂 I also bought a Stand up Paddle board to try and compensate for my inability to get to my feet on a surfboard. My hope was that I would be able to replace surfing with SUPing – but it turns out the muscles used to SUP are still not usable until I get my back renovated. Bummer…
Looking Forwards – I’m hoping this year will be the one where I get the body sorted. I’m weary of the way things have been for the last 5 years so it’s a time to solve some problems. I’m gunna be very disappointed if I am in the same boat this time next year. So that’s a priority.
My book will be finished this year – ideally around July – but maybe that’s overly ambitious… I have another two books on the backburner but I really do need to just finish this one…
It’d be nice to travel again – although I’d really like to go somewhere different – out of Oz… Somehow we won a $2k travel voucher, so once there’s a chance of heading overseas I reckon we’d be up for it. Europe might be the go if we can navigate the COVID situation.
I feel like I’m in a place of figuring out what kind of ‘pastor’ / missionary I am going to be in the years ahead. The ground is shifting but I am not yet sure what will end up being solid and firm. I don’t see us moving house any time soon, so whatever we do will be locally focused and ongoing. The balance of energy and points of focus may shift somewhat, but the picture isn’t clear yet. I think it’s just a case of walking the path and seeing where it leads.
In a similar vein I am shifting the time I spend ‘hands on’ in business and trying to do a bit less, but that’s a more complicated challenge, partly because I really enjoy being hands on, but also because it’s tricky to find good people willing to work seasonally.
Hey – it’s been a ‘meh’ twelve months, but compared to what so many in the world go thru my life is a breeze and a purposeful and meaningful ‘breeze’. So my choice will be to continue to focus on the things that make life awesome and beautiful rather than on the difficulties. That has been a challenge this year and I’m feeling weary from the struggle, but here’s to a kickass 2022!
Love the real and the raw.
Thanks for sharing
Hang in there
There is healing in His wings even if its through surgeons, its there for you .
Love the article, so down to earth and honest. Do NOT give up writing, you have such a flare for this. Stay positive, get well. You have so many years ahead of you to fill with travel, stories and most of all love and companionship with Danelle. With two amazing children there hopefully will be joy in the future of being a grandparent too. I really do recommend it!!!!
I love your raw and honest approach to writing Hamo, and I can’t wait to get your book. The cover looks amazing!
I’m sure you will be able to fix that pain and get back to surfing!
Keep up the amazing work!