School applications 2012 - a few dead trees and a broken heart
Today I'm not in a good place at all. Perhaps I'm just feeling a bit of pressure from the combination of the seminary workload; the need to make a living whilst I'm here; trying to sort out the sale of our house; dealing with the insurers after a break-in last week at the same house; my Mom's impending move to a retirement village ... it's all just a bit overwhelming at the moment, especially with me being 500km away from where I ideally need to be right now.
Hence the broken logo. It represents partly the state of my heart at the moment, with its torn loyalties, and partly the cause of the stress - trying to follow and fulfil God's call to ordained ministry in the MCSA, yet at the same time trying to fulfil my responsibilities to my family, given to me by the same God who gave me the calling.
Tonight was a case in point - tears were already flowing at our community worship as I tried to sort out all the various stresses weighing down at the moment. And part of this is due to the fact that Belinda and I have just spent a couple of weary hours filling umpteen application forms for high school for James in 2012, not to mention the wads of supporting documentation required with each application - killing a few trees in the process.
The closing date for these applications is 28 February 2011.
However, the nature of the MCSA stationing process is such that our stations are only confirmed in September. By then, any attempts to submit applications to schools in the city or town we are stationed to at that late stage (assuming that there are in fact schools to apply to) will be likely to be met with raucous laughter, accompanied by a "don't call us ... we'll call you" response.
The upshot is that we are applying for James to go to a Pietermaritzburg-based high school, and given that my station is unlikely to be here in Pietermaritzburg, we are applying for boarding as well. Which means that, once again, our family will be split thanks to stationing by the Church (we were separated in 2009 because the then Phase One programme was only for a single year, which made changing schools twice in two years impractical).
Because I came out of Phase One as "damaged goods" in a sense, largely as a result of being apart from Belinda and James, I was adamant that we would not be separated again. I also decided last year to draft a resolution aimed at changing the stationing process per our Laws and Disciplines to make it more pastoral and "family-friendly", taking into account matters such as schooling and spouse's employment. It was accepted by our Circuit Quarterly Meeting, passed through the Synod, and was ultimately enacted by Conference. However, the nature of the beast is that it will take some time for a resolution to translate into practical application, which means that the current process remains in force for the moment.
Yet here I am, just over a year down the line, about to break my promise to my family that we would not be apart again. At the same time, James is at a critical stage in his school career, and we can't afford to mess with that. What does one do ... I've often been told that our priorities as ministers should be God, family, and church - in that order. Yet often it seems that our priorites are God, church (or sometimes even church, God), with family coming in last place. I'm hoping and praying that the abovementioned L&D amendment will go some way (however small) to realigning one's priorities to what they should be.
But such is life ... I did after all promise to go wherever the Church sends me. Still, there are more than a few tear stains on the application forms we completed tonight. And the heart will tear even further when we hand them in...
It may have been the sampling of that pineapple beer in Standard 8 that resulted in me choosing accountancy as my first career (and not touching alcohol since), but a far stronger Spirit has called me into my second career as I prepare for the exciting journey towards becoming a full-time minister in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa.
Being married to my wonderful wife Belinda, and having been blessed with an amazing son, James, is living proof that accountants DO have a personality. (Or maybe Belinda just felt sorry for me, perhaps?)
Judging by the blogs of Dion Forster, Wessel Bentley, and others, it looks like being able to blog is one of the requirements for being a minister (!), so here goes...