It’s been quite the season for closing chapters of life and it isn’t over yet.
Pastoring – Last year we officially stopped pastoring at the churches we had been part of for so long – Quinns Baptist for 14 years and then Yanchep Community Church which we had planted 5 years back. It wasn’t particularly hard to let either go as we both just felt it was time. We also knew we had no plans for moving to another church community so the ‘sadness’ wasn’t there – just an awareness that life was going to be different for all of us.
People continue to ask me if I have retired… I don’t think that word is found anywhere in a Christian’s vocabulary so the short answer is ‘no’. But I recognise the intent is probably to ask if I am done with ‘leading a church’. Again the answer is ‘no’, but there is nothing on the horizon that may entice us. We love living where we do so we are hoping that isn’t a chapter that will ever close. Local church leadership kinda requires you to live ‘locally’,
Val – The passing away of my much loved mother in law was a somewhat unexpected chapter close. We know all of our parents are getting older and these days will come – but this came faster than anticipated. While some of the signs of decline were there bodily, Val was sharp as ever in mind and spirit. She went into hospital where she stayed for a couple of months before coming home for palliative care – which only lasted 8 days.
I had the privilege of conducting her funeral and honouring her life and I don’t think I have ever been to a funeral that brought so much joy alongside the grief. Its’ quite bizarre realising you will never see someone again – this side of eternity. Danelle’s funeral talk was one of the most brilliant I have heard – entitled ‘My mum talked too much’, she spoke about how her mum’s love to chat (which sometimes could drive us all mad) meant she was great at connecting with people and making friends. Val was a natural evangelist, a people ‘connector’ and we miss her on every level.
Into Care – While Danelle’s dad lives quite independently in his home in Moore River my own parents were starting to struggle, which meant selling a home and moving into care. Mum has quite significant dementia and dad was unable to care for her so we had no option but to move them into a nursing home. It was a hard decision – very hard as no one wants to enter what is essentially a waiting room.
Part of the struggle here is that mum really needs this level of care, while dad can still operate independently. Selling their home and all of their possessions, except for those which went with them into Bethanie was quite confronting – a lifetime of accumulating gone in a few weeks and for a measly sum of money. This ‘independent’ phase of their life is closing and in that sense another chapter has closed for us too.
Trying to keep a watch on mum’s health was a real challenge so we can rest a little easier knowing they are now cared for albeit in a nursing home.
The Nest is Empty – It ‘s been a while since the kids moved out, but that has been another significant chapter close in this season of life. We live in a big ole 4 bed beach shack with just one another for company. It feels somewhat wrong to live in a home with so many rooms spare in the middle of a housing crisis, but there is an element of ‘sanctuary’ about home that needs maintaining for our own headspace.
The kids absence is significant – we just love hanging with them – but this is part of adulting and they are each treading their own path in healthy ways. If we were to have people come live with us it would make the frequent returns by them a little trickier. We’d like them to keep tripping home regularly do we will keep their beds available (for now…)
No More Retic Bloke – This has been huge…After 15 years we feel it’s time to sell the business and get out of retic, so it is for sale with a local broker as well as on Gumtree. I’m not sure how I will cope with this change. Right now I’m still working very solidly at it and really feeling the need for rest. My body is screaming at me that time is up – my back has been a problem, the knees sometimes complain, but right now its the elbows that refuse to heal. Who ever thought pushing two pipes together would be difficult? ‘Severe tendinopathy’ tends to have that effect.
It’s been a very successful and even ‘fun’ little venture, even if we did stumble into it. Doing this fuelled my imagination for bivocational mission and ministry, so it has been enormously significant in our lives. I’m not sure what will ‘come next’ (if anything), but I know I won’t miss the constant barrage of phone calls, emails and messages. I only ever set out to frame up a 3 day/week gig, but it is presently busting at the seams and we are unable to keep up.
Wanna buy a business?!
My caravan weighing / diesel heater venture keeps chugging along at a good pace even though I haven’t had time to do any significant marketing for this yet. There is part of me that likes the simplicity of this activity. A caravan gets weighed – job done. I think if it were only this I may get bored. The greater vision behind this was business was that of creating a mobile business that we could establish in any town we happened to be visiting. We would love to lend a hand to some of our country churches and a business like this will allow us to visit a town and have a means of support – yeah I guess it’s another ‘bivocational’ thing.
But I am seriously committed to the bivocational life! I really don’t know what I would do if I were full time in a church again. Do you really need 5 days to lead a church? Perhaps work expands to fill the time, but my experience has been that we can get a lot done in 2 or 3 days and still have a strong presence in the local community with a business.
Recently Danelle and I both had a shared experience that felt strangely like a God moment – maybe a ‘calling’ to a new role. There was a position going and we felt a nudge in the direction of this vacant opportunity – it was unsettling and curious. Interestingly as we investigated further it just didn’t feel like quite the right fit for us. My 35 year old self would have dropped everything and chased the sense of intuition that the role tapped into, whereas my 58 year old self stepped back, pondered and prayed – then pulled out.
I have heard people say ‘just apply for a job and if you get it then it must be God’s will…’ Seriously – that is crappy theology! The book of James calls us to seek wisdom and make decisions from there – that’s the path I’d prefer to walk.
I did have another business idea though which I floated last night with Danelle… I imagine the name would be something like ‘Bogan Weddings’ and it would involve the purchase of 2 or 3 classic steel bumper muscle cars which could be hired out for events. Of course I couldn’t care less about the weddings, but I’d like to own an XB Falcon coupe to drive around for fun! I imagine the upfront investment might be a reason to put this project on hold. But maybe one day Danelle will let me have one of these cars to plonk in the space where the kids used to park!…
So for now we work and we wait for the business to sell. After that?.. I’m not sure but I have a strong sense that ‘what’s next’ may not be apparent until we actually commit to getting out of retic. Just a hunch… But I will be curious to see how it feels to be unshackled from a part of our lives that has been so significant.
If you have read this far then you are one my devoted readers and you will have noticed the decline in my blog output 🙂 My capacity for writing and creative thought has been smashed over the last 6 months as I have tried to run both businesses so I’m also hopeful that some useful writing may reappear somewhere in the not too distant future.