Wednesday 25 June 2014

Nearly the end of term for me, but both daughters have finished and are basically home.  They’ve both worked so hard, and are enjoying some well-deserved rest, and personally I can’t wait for a bit of R&R too!

It was weird collecting our younger daughter from her accommodation on campus – it seemed hardly any time since we took her there in September.  The accommodation hasn’t been the best, but she’s had a great first year, loving her course, and made some lovely friends, mostly through the university Christian Union, and is really enjoying going to a big, lively, city church.

Daughter number one, meanwhile, has got her work placement sorted and the dissertation is taking shape too.  Our concern over lack of flatmates has been resolved (praise God!), and the current two are graduating in a couple of weeks’ time!

The annual angst over the Student Finance applications is very nearly over (only 1 more year of completing that form – hurray!!).

The annual cycles continue….year 13 have just finished their A2s.  I feel sadness at them leaving, but pride that they made it through and are launching out into the next phase of their lives.  And the year 12s are beginning to realise they need to get a grip on their future.

Hoping you enjoy a summer with rest and recuperation!

Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.                  Isaiah 40:31

Wednesday 26 March 2014

Well what a lot has happened since my last blog….

End of March and it snowed today for the first time this winter – I’ve decided to light the fire…

Here we are almost at the end of term – although strangely no one’s holiday periods are quite the same, but we will at least all be at home for Holy Week, even if not all on holiday.

This year’s annual trip to the UCAS Convention once more starts off the next round of deliberations and applications.  And much deliberation is also going on in the world of higher education as institutions wonder what the advent of linear A Levels might mean for their recruitment strategies a few years down the line.

Daughter number 1 unexpectedly came home last weekend and it was so lovely to have some quality time together.  A rare treat.  People say to me things like “oh isn’t it nice to have peace and quiet at home now?”  and I think, well, we have got used to it being just the two of us, but actually I really look forward to them coming home – they bring home so much life and energy (not to mention the new on-trend words which we then attempt to use ourselves just to wind them up!!).  Her need for flat mates may finally be resolving – I am trying to be patient and leave it in God’s hands.  The work placement is at a similar point.

Meanwhile daughter number 2’s accommodation is basically sorted. But how do you unload all the stuff when the house is right on a double yellow line?!  That could definitely be a challenge.  But challenge is what we thrive on, isn’t it?  I was trying to explain to my Mum the other day all the intricacies of collecting ‘stuff’ and then getting ‘stuff’ back after Easter and all the comings and goings in between.  She said it sounded familiar.  Yes, they did all this sort of thing for me, too.  And they waited for the end of term and for holidays and for family times together.

So, as we wait for the girls, we will also…

Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.                           Psalm 27:14


Sunday 2 February 2014

Re-reading my last blog post makes me feel slightly uncomfortable:  the text from Ephesians 4: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” turned out to be more apt than I had imaged.  The Christmas period was not without its uncomfortable moments, as we tried to strike a balance between taking a healthy interest in daughter no 1’s wellbeing and what was too readily taken to be nagging!  Oh dear, what a tough job it is sometimes being a parent.  But what I reckon it all boils down to in the end is good communication:  if she could have found a way to communicate her need for some personal space, then there would have been a greater degree of understanding.  If we could have found a less-threatening way of addressing our concerns over next year’s accommodation situation the whole thing would have been less upsetting.

As it is, Christmas came and went, and both daughters are now back at university, have sat their exams and have now embarked on semester two.

Daughter number 2 has found a nice groups of friends with whom she wishes to share a house next year and surprised us with her degree of organisation, having attended an accommodation talk last term, been given a helpful booklet of questions to ask when looking at houses and now getting on with the task of researching possible houses.

Daughter number 1 meanwhile is busy turning her attention to applying for a summer work placement, whilst the thorny accommodation issue remains.  My prayer is that God has just the thing lined up for the first and just the right person lined up for the latter.

Reading Lamentations in the last few days I was struck by the words:

“Yet this I call to mind
And therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
For his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
Therefore I will wait for him”.”

Lamentations 3: 21 – 24

I pray that if there is something all-consuming just now in your life, that you will know God’s great faithfulness to you and to those you love.

Friday 29 November 2013

So while daughter number two nears the end of her very first term at university, the cycle of applications, interviews and offers begins all over again for thousands more students.

At College the number of applicants is well up on this time last year, but it’s hard to know at this stage if this is students being organised earlier or indeed whether we will see a larger percentage of the year group applying.  Whatever the reason, it’s incredibly hard work at this stage of the year, checking every application and then checking every reference to ensure it is accurate before finally pushing the button.  There are only so many hours in the day, but with Christmas looming we’re keen to get the bulk sent by then if we possibly can.

Last Sunday we had a One More Step meeting locally and were really encouraged.  With a mixture of sons/daughters already at university and in the middle of applying, it was great to be able to talk informally about how they are all getting on, workloads, 2nd year accommodation, how Student Finance works (don’t we all wish we knew the answer to that one!), when offers might come etc etc.  And then we spent some time praying for our students, and also for their CUs, and for the student workers at their Churches.

So let’s continue to remember our students in prayer:  for happy Christmas celebrations at university, for everyone getting along together over the festive period at home, for those applying at the moment for university and those facing the prospect of selective interviews.
And here’s a challenging Bible verse as we re-configure as families over Christmas:  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”  Ephesians 4:2

As we enter this period of Advent, waiting for Christ to come, I for one can’t wait for the Advent of the daughters too!

Sunday 10 November 2013

Half Term

Half Term – a breather for us and a chance to go and see our younger daughter at university.  We had fortunately already decided to go on the Tuesday, so thereby avoided the storm on the Monday.  Definitely wouldn’t have wanted to be towing a caravan in that wind!

For daughter, self catering, it was a welcome opportunity to be fed each day and to have transport to Asda to stock up.  As it turned out, it also meant being able to have hot showers!  Heating in her house (campus-based university accommodation) has been erratic, but all of a sudden there was no hot water either.  In fact the 12 of them in the house were without hot water for a whole week.   Since we returned the heating has again been erratic (just as the temperatures have plummeted) and then last night I got a text to say they suspected a gas leak and that they were awaiting someone to come and fix it.  Thus ensued a few more texts along the lines of “don’t cook, don’t switch the light on/off, open a window…” before gas repair man arrived and fixed the leak.

Our elder daughter had none of this sort of excitement in her first year – she was always sitting there in a T shirt whenever we skyped.  Is our younger daughter unlucky with her accommodation?  Have you come across these sort of ongoing difficulties?

Anyway, we had a lovely few days and we reckon she is doing really well, academically, socially and looking after herself.  It’s a big thing for any of them, really, isn’t it?  She’s still doing the rounds of churches, but had enjoyed the recent CU weekend away.

And so back to college, where we’re up to our eyes in this year’s university applications.  The cycle continues…

 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!          2 Cor 5:17

Wednesday 25 September 2013

New Report

Interesting article in the Church Times last week ‘What really happens at university?’  Dr Mathew Guest, Senior Lecturer in Theology and Religion at Durham University, with colleagues, has undertaken a survey of more than 4,000 undergraduates and has now published his findings.  His statistics reveal that more than half of all students who call themselves Christians stay away from church while they are at university.  However, of those who do attend church, the biggest proportions go to independent evangelical and to Anglican churches.  He also asserts that CU members are the most likely among the student body to engage in volunteer work in the community.

‘Christianity and the University Experience: Understanding student faith’ by Mathew Guest, Kristin Aune, Sonya Sharma and Rob Warner.  Published by Bloomsbury £21.99

Media of Christianity and the University Experience

Monday 16 September 2013

And then there were two!

So… elder daughter gone off to uni in one direction and younger one duly taken with all her stuff in another direction!

Move in day was ok.  The room is ok – not wonderful – and the kitchen is poky with no table for eating.  But it was at least all clean and in working order.  It’s funny isn’t it – you spend all that time touring round all the accommodation on open day and then, despite putting down your preferences, you end up with something completely different.  Oh well, perhaps there’s a reason as yet unknown.  However, the drinking games and crashing around in the early hours meant that she didn’t exactly have the best night’s sleep ever on Sat night. 

However, on the positive side, she met some nice people at the service on campus on Sun morning and this in turn led to several of them taking the bus into town for a church service in the evening.  Then today a CU Freshers event also meant meeting more nice folk, so I’m really happy that she’s meeting people on a similar wavelength to her.

It’s all very odd at home – just the two of us.

And back at work today the current Year 12 are waking up to the fact that they need to think about university applications.

So where are you up to?  Are you about to take son/daughter off to university for the first time?  Are they thinking about an application and booking last-minute open days?

The Lord will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard.      Isaiah 52:12