Monday, 30 December 2013

What to study next year

So you might know from a previous post that I won't be studying psychology next year.  But I've also been rethinking all of this since discovering a desire to be involved in pastoral care.

Not having gained a place in a psychology course, people expect that I will now apply for a counselling course.  This is fair enough; that's what I said I would do.  But I also started thinking about continuing at college.  And I couldn't let this idea go.

I would love to continue studying because I loved this year at college.  Just thinking about continuing made me excited.  I want to be equipped to be able to better answer people's questions about God, to teach the Bible well and to care for people in a distinctly Christian way.  I will never get a better opportunity than here and now to study theology and study it with J.

I also feel that if I studied counselling next year it would be because others want or expect me to and not because I wanted to.  I don't think this is a good way to decide what to do.

Choosing to study at college again next year is not the easy option in many ways, or at least not everything about it will be easy or enjoyable.  I will have to preach in women's chapel and I hate public speaking.  I'm sure philosophy will turn my head upside-down.  I'm not looking forward to the holiday homework or fighting the temptation to eat sweets at morning tea every day for the next two years.

When I told J that I had decided to continue at college and would email college to apply for this transfer he was really excited.  Until then he hadn't shown me exactly how he felt about me coming back to college, not wanting to sway my decision.

So that's it, I'm going back to college next year!  College has allowed me to transfer into the Bachelor of Theology which means I'll be at college for two more years.  I have to do a bridging assignment for church history, as well as the regular holiday work that everyone does.  I'll be busy doing that for the rest of my holidays, having not done any yet because I didn't have to!

I'm looking forward to what God will be teaching me while I'm at college and I hope you enjoy following my journey.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

I'll be home for Christmas

We're back home for Christmas and spending it with family.  It's lovely to be home, on familiar streets and seeing old friends.

J and I helped to decorate my parent's Christmas tree on Sunday afternoon and we listened to Christmas CDs like we always do.

This tree is taken from the bottom of my parent's block of land.  We've been using a 'home grown' Christmas tree for many years now.  Dad said that this tree was one year's worth of growth, and it still almost reaches the ceiling!

It was fun to see a lot of our old decorations, particularly the ones that my sister or I made as kids.  Here's a few:

J and I were both spoilt this Chritmas but we were reminded of the greatest gift of all and the reason that we gather and celebrate this day.  The gift of Jesus to take away our sins is the greatest gift of all.

The way God gave this gift to the world was so unexpected.  Jesus came into the world in humble and scandalous circumstances; he was born as a helpless baby to an unmarried girl in a lowly stable.  He didn't come with power and might as many would have expected.  Yet this baby would grow up to be the one who took the sins of the world upon himself so that we who trust and believe in him could be right before God.  Jesus and what he accomplished really is the greatest gift of all.  This is why we celebrate Christmas day.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Do what you love

Many have been asking, and rightly so, whether I've heard from any of the applications I sent in to study post-graduate psychology next year.  I thought I would have heard earlier than this if I had gained an interview.  Now I have heard from them all.  I didn't get in.  No interviews. 

When I told J he made to comfort me.  But I wasn't actually very upset (except perhaps my pride, but not too much).  I was just glad I finally knew actually.  I knew that entry into these courses was competitive, and I knew that my application wouldn't be very near the top.  And the fact that I realised my desire to pastorally care for people means that I don't have to limit myself to a career in psychology.  This has been a comfort.  It has been freeing actually. 

But even before this I don't think I ever had my heart totally set on psychology.  It was an idea based on my enjoyment of the things I learnt in class.  I was never certain that I could work as a psychologist. 

The truth is that I've never been a particularly "driven" person, if I can put it that way, at least in terms of a career.  I never had this one pathway, one specific career that I wanted to pursue.  I didn't know what I wanted to be like some people seemed to.  I didn't know in high school, I didn't really know when I was at uni, though I started forming the idea of pursuing psychology while in second year. 

I wanted to do something that I enjoyed, so I followed that path.  I've heard people say, do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life.  I enjoyed science at high school, so I decided to to a Bachelor of Science at uni.  I enjoyed psychology at uni so I majored in it in my degree.  I've wanted to study theology for a while (I even thought during high school I might pursue it when I finished school) and so I studied it this past year with J. 

I've realised that I want to pastorally care for people.  This could be as a psychologist, or a counsellor, or even a theologically-trained worker in a church. 

I've loved studying the Bible this year at college.  You can read about it here.  Maybe I can combine my love of theology and my desire to pastorally care for people.

I've been thinking about this for a little while, at least since I realised my desire to pastorally care for people and since God had closed at least two of the doors on my psychology applications.  I'm never going to get a better opportunity than this to study what I love, and study it with my husband.  Other study, particularly counselling, is much more flexible. 

I don't know what I will do next year, but I want to do what I love. 

Sunday, 15 December 2013

When you're not a mother but there are a lot of babies

I had a few nervous days last year when I hoped and prayed that I wasn't pregnant.  Now, just a year on, I find myself thinking sometimes that it wouldn't be so bad if God gave us a little unplanned miracle.  What has changed?

We live in a community of 20 college students with their wives, five of whom don't have children.  The children in this community range in age from newborn to nine years old.  There were ten babies born this year alone.  It's easy when surrounded by all these young children, particularly the babies, to start wishing that I was a mother too.  The support that I've seen this community show to families with newborns is beautiful and admittedly very tempting to be on the receiving end of, particularly for a first child.

But I don't want to be influenced into starting a family just because I'm jealous of the mothers around me.  I do want to be a mother one day, but I don't think we should try to become parents just yet.  Just because most of the people living around me in our community have children doesn't mean that I should have children now too.  In fact that's a pretty selfish motivation to create a new life.

I recognise that my wistful desire to have children now is selfish.  Sometimes I think it would be a great way of getting out of the hard things to come next year and beyond.  If I had a child now I wouldn't have to have a career, and that's okay with me.

J and I have been married for nearly a year and a half now.  I know people who have had children earlier than that in their marriage, but I want more time as just the two of us.  I don't want to add to our family just yet.  Because babies change things.  Once you're a parent you can't ever go back to the life you had before children.  And it would be unfair to J to have a child now for the wrong reasons because it absolutely would affect his study.  This isn't something that would affect only myself.  

Without the right motivation (or God's influence), having a child now is selfish.  For now I know I will enjoy living in this community of many children, playing with them, baby-sitting them, and learning about parenting from their parents.  As a non-parent I know that I don't see all the sides of parenting.  I don't have to clean up vomit, change dirty nappies or discipline a stubborn child.  I am glad that when the baby start crying I can hand him back to his mother!  

Saturday, 14 December 2013

The husband and wife team at a uni conference

This week J and I got back from National Training Event (NTE) in Canberra, which is a conference for uni students from all over Australia (and some from overseas too).  It is the major conference of the Australian Fellowship of Evangelical Students (AFES) and all its affiliated uni clubs around Australia.  J and I were both part of one of these clubs while at uni, and while J did his ministry apprenticeship in 2011 and 2012.

I've been to NTE once before as a student and it was very different this year going as a Bible College student leading a Strand Group.   For one thing we had so much more free time because we weren't preparing to go on mission after the conference.  We used most of this free time to catch up with friends from Adelaide whom we hadn't seen in a long time, as well as spending some time with college friends (also attending as Strand Group leaders) whom we hadn't seen in a few weeks.  We were also glad for the chance to spend some time with J's sister who is currently living in Canberra. 

I really enjoyed leading the group with J, though at times I felt nervous about what I was saying knowing that he could pick me up on it!  He's also had more experience with our subject matter (Biblical Theology) because he ran a seminar on Biblical Theology when he was a ministry apprentice.  But I enjoyed being able to explain this to the students in our group, and see them grasp for the first time some things about how the story of the Bible fits together. 

We also heard some great talks, three of which were given by one of our New Testament Lecturer's from this year, who has now moved to the United States to work in a Theological College there.  But one of the big things that I learnt (or realised) while at NTE was something about myself.  I realised that what I want to do with my life is this: I want to pastorally care for people.  I'm not sure how else to put it.  I want to be able to walk with people as they go through life, help them in their struggles, listen to them and love them.  This is the desire that underlies my ideas about becoming a psychologist or a counsellor. 

I don't know where that leaves me or what kind of 'job' that might lead to.  A psychologist?  A women's worker in a church?  A school counsellor?  A chaplain?  A mother?  In any case, it's nice to have figured this out.