Mountains Time

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In the first week of the New Year, both my boss & I take a sabbatical week. We head up to the Blue Mountains & spend the week at CMS Summer School.

Up we went on Saturday the 7th of Jan. Shona, the family & I were staying at a new place in Blackheath & were a little nervous about what the new pad would be like. In the end, we couldn’t have been any happier with a wonderful house being rented to us at a really decent rate!

The conference itself was grand. William Taylor was speaking, looking at “the account of Terah” which is basically the story of Abraham & his life (Terah was his dad). With the kids all off at their programmes, we found ourselves free all morning this time, which meant we got to go to the missionary sessions too! For the first time I got to chose, listening to an African Bishop, hearing about the fears that come with going on the mission field, as well as the struggles that come with speaking to a “post-truth” audience, plus more!

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William Taylor in full-flight

The afternoons were our own and we made the most of our time, going on bush walks, playing games, reading, catching up with great friends and also a little R&R. In the evenings, Shona went off to the evening sessions & I stayed at home with the kids.

It really was a wonderful time & we count ourselves lucky to be able to attend such great Bible teaching, meet so many encouraging missionaries, and spend some time in God’s good creation.

Here’s some more pics! (Do you get the feeling that I’m trying to get more use out of my cameras again?)

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The Rhythms of life

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It’s a pointy end of the year.

Of course, there’s all the stuff that comes with kids. #1 is moving up into 1st grade, #2 starts school next week. But the kid stuff has been a blast compared to the hectic nature of work.

Having survived Christmas, one is reminded, a couple of weeks into January, that the whole of 2016 is ahead of you.

  • Preparing a thousand different rosters for all of the ministries at Church
  • Printing out a million pieces of paper for Term 1 Sunday School craft (that was my job today, supported by a lovely parishioner, Wendy!)
  • Baptisms galore (and Baptism prep for the many people fitting in a celebration during the next couple of months of warm weather
  • Weddings (and preparation for my cousin & my cousin to be!)
  • A thousand other little tasks as we make sure that we’re set for the year ahead.

In the midst of all of this, it’s been a horribly sad January, with the passing of a parishioner, Sean, at only 26 years of age, leaving behind a wife and four young kids.

With all the business and grief crowding in, it was lovely to head down beside the Terrigal Skillion at 5:15 last Sunday to catch the dawn with a couple of mates, Peter & Peter, from the evening service.

I didn’t have the best start. I was standing on a rock ledge, watching someone walk toward me in the pre-dawn light. Just as I confirmed that it was one of the Pete’s, the last vestiges of a broken wave, having travelled across 100m of ledge, trickled over my shoes & ensured that I’d be squelching for the rest of the morning. Truth be told, I didn’t mind a bit, because the glory of watching the sun break out over the horizon & colour the clouds was just magical!

Peter #1 & I spent a good 20 minutes chatting & snapping from different (and drier) vantage points before Peter #2 popped up (infinitely better prepared for a rock shelf, in thongs & board shorts) thigh deep in water, capturing some abstracts to our left. It was wonderful to watch waves spraying as they butted up against the shelf, then cascade in a foot-high waterfall after trickling across the flat rock.

Amongst all of this, I couldn’t help but reflect that the sun continues to rise, the waves continues to pound, and the world continues to turn: no matter whether my weeks are big or small, my trials terrible or trivial, it all keeps on going.

Best of all, I know that God is bigger than it all. The unmoved mover is the one who made the waves, he fashioned the galaxy, and long after the land and sea have disappeared, God will still be there.

On Wednesday, we buried Sean. It was a very emotional occasion, but it was a glorious thing to know that he trusted in God and he is now safe in Jesus’ hands. God will care for him, just as I know he will care for me, no matter what 2016 decides to throw up next.

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The Two Petes
The Two Petes