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Thursday, 9 April 2015

Moving Full Circle

So the time is fast approaching when I will be moving back to Northern Ireland having lived in England for 6 years. What an adventure I have had since leaving home after my A-Levels at 18. I could never have anticipated all I have done & seen & achieved. I lived and worked in Menorca as a children's entertainer for 3 months in the summer of 2009, got my degree at Durham University 2009-2012, served as an intern at King's Church Durham & worked in a local prison 2012-2013, & finally finished up in Southend-on-sea (Essex) as a Children & Families worker for a small COE church.

Now it seems it is time to come full circle and return home to start a new chapter of my life where in May 2016 I will become Mrs Stubbington (or Stubbs) & find out what God has in store not only for me as an individual, but for myself & Jono, & any family we might later be blessed with. It is so exciting.

But at the same time as with any move there are many difficulties & a lot of bitter sweet emotions in my heart. Both Jono & I will be leaving behind some of our very closest friends who we love dearly. So how do we move on from a place & do it well?
There are so many examples in the Bible of this full circle ministry that people like Paul (Acts 9:30), Barnabus (Acts 4:36) & Aquilia (Romans 16:3) went through. Until now I've never really thought about those small verses - they like many others are easy skimmed through as we read their stories. But over these 6 years & particularly now, I can come to understand how difficult these moves back to their homeland must have been. They would have journeyed with so many through the ups & downs of life & faith, & made some real God given friendships & bonds with people, & then have been called away & had to leave those behind. I feel this so deeply in my current stage of life. Of course today we are blessed with 21st century technology & so I know that those who dearly matter to me will only be a phone call, letter, Skype chat, or plane away... but there is still so much of a sense of loss that I feel.

I do however have one GIANT comfort. And that is... that God has a plan for Jono & I. He has it mapped out for us. New people to meet, new ministries to get involved in, & a new chapter which He promises to be good. We are trusting in His promises & in the words of our favourite song... We know that He will bring us Safe to Shore. We are also trusting in His promises for our friends who we pray for often & will continue to keep in our prayers - that He will continue to further them in the journey with Him, & continue to draw them to Him in the ways that He has planned for them. What a wonderful God we serve.
Jono has already begun to dream of worship leading in Northern Ireland & God has clearly given Him visions through our prayer life for the plans He has for Him & the gifts that He can offer. And for myself God has promised me healing from some of the stuff in my life. I believe that we will stand on our wedding day among new & old friends from near & far... healthy, joyful, & secure in our new lives together. We are holding tightly to that promise as tough times approach us.

What mixed emotions swim around my head as I think of these 17 more days as an Essex girl. Looking back on my time here there have been many hard patches... many personal struggles, & often deeply doubting my ministry completely. But the good times.. the friendships, the laughter, watching my youth grow into young confident leaders, to being a part of a church family who although flawed like all churches, are accepting, & always looking to move forward & serve God in a bigger way. I've been challenged to mature & take ownership for my work & my leadership. This job was my first since graduation.. my first real step into ministry...& I had and have still so much to learn... but I know this was what God had planned for me. And of course without having been here, I may never have met Jono who moved to Southend the same month I did. Praise God for His good & perfect timing.

So I will soon say 'See you later' to those I love deeply here in Southend, & 'Hello again' to those I have missed dearly in good old Bangor...
We both look forward to the next adventure. One things for sure... With God in the midst... it will not be boring.

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