Hello HEBA! I’m back!
I want to begin by saying a massive “Thank you” for flowers, cards, cake, chocolate, prayers, emails, visits and so much love during the recent pilgrimage through Breast Cancer! I have really felt like a reluctant Pilgrim on this journey, and God has been my constant companion. In the early days of Chemotherapy, (which resulted in me spending about 20 days in hospital on 3 separate occasions), I cried out to God that I longed for my normality. In His gentle way He reminded me that this cancer journey is “normal” for thousands of people every day, and I now share their normality!
It’s strange, how my life has changed in the past 9 months. I have learned so much from journeying on a road of suffering that to be truthful I would have gladly chosen to avoid at all cost. I’ve had my pride dismantled. I was always proud of never having dyed my hair – what hair? Proud of the fact I had reach 58 and was on no daily medication – that has all changed; proud of the fact I had breast fed my children – surely, I would never get Breast Cancer! Ok then!! God gently pulled me to one side and said, “actually, woman – you know that’s all utter nonsense, don’t you?”
The past 9 months have given me so much time to just sit and realise that I am dearly loved for who I am. It’s not about the amount of activity I engage in as a Regional Minister. Not about pleasing anyone or winning their approval. I am loved, just as I am!
So here I am! On a phased return to work, working just one section a day (about 4 hours), so please be gentle with me. I am getting through my to-do list, with my to-see list growing daily. The plan is to continue through July on one sessions a day, and then August has a quiet agenda anyway; returning full time in September. So, to “my churches” especially, I want to say, I look forward to hearing from you soon. Another huge “Thank You” must be said to the wider team who have covered for me during my absence. Special thanks go to Adrian who has usually picked up any heavy issues, and to Karen who has been my fellow Pilgrim through the whole journey, from the moment of diagnosis to the final Radiotherapy appointment! God’s love and presence has been made real through the love that has surrounded me, and I will always be thankful.
I returned to work and in my first week back attended the Baptist Union Gathering “Celebrating, Surviving and Thriving - Women in Baptist Ministry conference”. This was a celebration of 100 years of women in Ordained Baptist Ministry, with the first woman Rev Violet Hedger being trained at Regents Park College in 1918. It was a great time together with our General Secretary Lynn Green, Trisha Miller Manarin from the Baptist World Alliance, Jenni Entican, the President of the European Baptist Federation, and my old, most-excellent Regional Minister, Pat Took. At this conference we praise, prayed and thanked God for the freedom many of us find to serve in our Baptist Union, yet we also remembered that this is not the story in many parts of the world, and sadly still in some of our churches, where women are still not granted the liberty to fulfil the calling God has for them. Following this conference there was a call that each Association set up a group for women in Baptist ministry to closer associate together. Ladies, I’m on to this – watch this space! The conference put together a statement for the wider union, the link is here: www.baptist.org.uk/Articles/525677/_and_your.aspx
Many years ago, a wise man shared with me the text “And it came to pass”. My prayer for you today is that the storms that rock your boat will pass soon, and that the wind will fill your sails and you will be moved by the wind of His most gracious Spirit.
Blessings and love,