‘Dream big!’ these were the words I typed down and published online for the world to see this very day one year ago. Such powerful words I felt God was speaking over my life for the year ahead. Back then I didn’t know what dreams I was meant to be dreaming. And as I sit here at the end of another year, cup of tea in hand and plugged into motivational, reflective worship music I think to myself…

Wow! God really did deliver on a year of dreaming big!

We began 2021 in tier 4 and was put straight into lockdown on 6th January. Our third one since the start of the pandemic. This one was different. It was harder. I’d seen a number of people set out amazing goals, new years resolutions, routines and plans for 2021. Only then to be restricted, told we couldn’t follow the dreams we’d put in place. This lockdown was full of pain, sadness and struggle for many people. The excitement of working together as a community, a nation, had drained away. Instead it felt like every man for himself.

I was pretty much midway through my role at Bretton Baptist Church covering for the previous youth worker who was on maternity leave. I sit here right now thinking how crazy it is, that I worked there for 6 months (till Easter) and only did two in person events with the young people. Part of me feels like a fraud – but I have to keep reminding myself there were restrictions. We could only meet online. And so we did. Various groups and activities each week over zoom. Some weeks feeling excited. Others feeling zoomed out.

As each month went on closer and closer to Easter (the end of my time time at BBC), many a people asked me what was next. And to that I didn’t have an answer. I knew I wanted to continue youth ministry, but where and how that looked I didn’t know. But like most times looking for the next job, I got the sense that God was saying

You don’t need to do anything. I have everything under control.

And you know what… He did.

Reigniting Old Dreams

At the end of February/start of March a phone call popped up with someone from the Diocese. Now for a number of years they’d been trying to get me on the team as a youth mission enabler somewhere in the Diocese. For about 3 or 4 years, and countless opportunities laid out on the table, I always turned them down. At each moment I always had different plans. The first being when I was dating. The plan was to move down to her and I even had a youth ministry position across Dorset lined up – but circumstances changed.
Other opportunities popped up. Twice Peterborough Cathedral was laid out on the table and I was unsure. Unsure about being in an environment that felt so foreign, at the opposite end of the spectrum to what I was used to in styles of worship. And so on one occasion it fell through and another I turned it down.

But this phone call was different. This phone call was a start of a dream come true. An opportunity at Peterborough Cathedral was laid out on the table again. At first I joked thinking, yeah this wont happen. It’ll fall through again. But no. This time was serious. To become a Youth Mission Enabler for Peterborough Deanery, based at Peterborough Cathedral, but with a focus on churches across the whole city.

I spent many a days, weeks even wrestling with the question of Peterborough Cathedral, is that where I want to be? Is that where I’m meant to be? And if its where I’m meant to be… God, why do you think it’s where I’m meant to be? How am I meant to cope with tradition when time and time again over the years I’ve said, I don’t want to work for the Church of England. I want to be in a modern lively church.
But the more I wrestled the more I knew it was where God wanted me. How do I know? Not only did I get that sense of peace whenever someone talked about the role, I also was reminded of a dream. A big dream…

Growing up in the local church youth group, I thrived and was given the opportunity to find my identity. To feel loved. As I grew up and become more aware of things and grounded in faith, I realised how little youth ministry there was within the Anglican (CofE) churches across the city. I had a dream as a teenager…

Wouldn’t it be cool to see change in across the city! Wouldn’t it be cool if someone came in and shook all the churches up. To equip them and empower them to engage with young people. Wouldn’t it be cool to see all the churches across the city and the surrounding villages thriving with young people. That’s my dream… to see someone come and do that one day…

Little did I know 15 or so years ago that I would be that someone. That someone to bring that change.

If you’re reading this and you don’t fully know me, then you’ll be pleased to know I took the job. In May of this year I opened up the door to that dream and I said yes to dreaming big for the city of Peterborough. I am now the Youth Mission Enabler for Peterborough Deanery. Taking things ever so slowly. Chipping away at things at the Cathedral and slowly connecting up with life long connections across churches in the city. And building new relationships too.

And also you’ll be pleased to know… the Cathedral ain’t as bad as I thought. Yes its traditional, and at times it is a little bit of a struggle and has its challenges. But you know what the heart behind it is there. God is there. Moving and working in that place. And the people… I don’t know what to say. But God has definitely placed some amazing, caring, wise and utterly supportive people in that place!

What a dream this is unfolding to be…

I’ve had opportunity after opportunity laid at my feet. Dreams I’m working on at the moment of a dedicated building at the heart of the city for children’s and youth ministry. I’ve been given the monthly informal city wide worship service to lead and preach at each month. I’ve led confirmation classes at the Cathedral and the local secondary school. I organised one of the biggest Christmas services in the city – Peterborough Cathedral’s Christingle service. Sourcing donations of oranges and sweets from Tesco and Morrisons and then co-leading the “sold out” service with the Dean. Having the opportunity to share the Gospel to hundreds of children and families.

I even have a very special service in September ON MY BIRTHDAY!?! My licensing service. Where the Bishop officially licensed me in my ministry. Confirming that this life long dream of seeking change across the city is unfolding as we speak.

Broken Dreams

Now don’t get me wrong 2021 has been very challenging for me. That new role hasn’t been plain sailing at times, one being new, and two it’s the Cathedral – it’s almost its own seprate being.

But also there’s been the highs and lows of life in general. But amongst the aches and pains of life and the rainy days have been joyful moments too.
Back last year, along with this usual reflective blog post, I posted an image on my instagram, sharing about how 2021 was a year to dream big and I set out some ‘mini big dreams’. I combine mini and big in that because they are more bitesized. But still to me they’re big dreams… They were a challenge. And such a challenge that I didn’t really complete any of them…

I didn’t really exercise more. didn’t visit Ireland. I didn’t produce my own calendar. And I didnt really go on many spontaneous adventures with new instagram friends. However I did make some new friends online. And I might not have hit the dream of five books read. I did however complete three books. And currently midway through the fourth.
Plus, I completely amazed myself… I read a whole book in under 24 hours. That is an incredible achievement for me! I never read, hence why I set this dream of reading more. I did something I never thought I’d ever do. I sat down one evening and read till late into the night. And then the next day was a day off, so I read till the afternoon and finished the whole book.
And you know what… Made Well, a follow on, by Jenny Simmons, the author of my all time favourite book – The Road to becoming. I bought Made Well many years ago when it came out, and tried to read it before. But never got into it. But when I read it that day this year, it really challenged and spoke to me. I felt God saying it’s time to read it now. You need to hear these words now… And I did.

Wow!

Now before I go on, if you’re still reading this far down. Thank you! And pat on the back for getting through all my poorly written English (English is my first and only language and even then I struggle!).
There’s so much more I could share as to how 2021 was the year of dreaming big. But I realise I’ve written so much already. More than I have before in one of these yearly reflective pieces, so I’ll try and be brief…

Dreams come true

I’ve had many amazing opportunities this year. Some would say they’re dreams come true. In February half term we were still in lockdown as the government only set out a slow roadmap out of lockdown at the end of the month. During half term with CROPS I was given the mammoth task of live streaming from a studio what would have been the Letton Hall residential with tons of young people. Instead we live streamed half a week of fun, workshops and discussion groups, games, worship and talks all through Zoom to the young people in their homes and over YouTube. I had the task of manning the AV – Sound, cameras, live stream, worship lyrics on screen etc. It was a mammoth task and things went wrong. But boy was it fun!

Another amazing opportunity is all the adventures I’ve had over this year. Even though we didnt leave lockdown restrictions till late into Spring I managed to bag myself two main holidays. The first being so timely. Restrictions on self catered holidays had just been lifted a few weeks before and I was in between the jobs at BBC and the Cathedral. So in May I headed up to Northumberland for the first time! And what an adventure that was. That was a dream come true!

And then that holiday just kept giving out the dreams…

The first being the place I stayed in. A beautiful log cabin looking out across the hillside where I could sit and watch the sunset with my complimentary bottle of red. The second is having the opportunity to see a tree. I know right! A tree? A very special tree. Sycamore Gap. The one tree along Hadrians wall famous for being in the opening scene of 1991 classic – Robin Hood. I have an obsession with Robin Hood and so I’ve always wanted to go there. And I ticked off that dream! The third was the dream to see puffins. I had never seen a puffin in real life. I’d always imagine them being some exotic bird from another country. But here I was on what has to be one of the best days of the year for me – after exploring Holy island and its beautiful upside-down boat sheds, I was climbing into a boat at Seahouses for what was going to be a dream making experience. That hour to two hours (however long it was) I had a massive grin on my face. Snapping away with my camera. Moving around the boat, enjoying the views of thousands and thousands of birds.
And there, bobbing along and flying alongside our boat were what were the much smaller than I thought, birds – Puffins.

That holiday was such a special week. Exploring amazing places and also hanging out and making great memories with a new friend specially named – the tour guide
(There’s a certain photo I’d love to share – Tour guide, you know what it is and I think you’d kill me if I did so I’ll leave that little anecdote with you to remember the laughs from that day)

But that wasnt my only holiday. The day after my licensing (the day after my birthday) I headed up to Cumbria for a crazy adventure (long story – my window wipers stopped working on the A1 in the torrential rain and the RAC had to come and rescue me… Also my coat ended up not being waterproof so had to buy a new one in the Lakes).
And that was a dream come true to explore the Lake District. I’d only ever been there once before just for a weekend up Helvellyn via Striding Edge. This time around in a very rainy week. I got to explore beautiful waterfalls and grotto. A cave and scrambled up Cat bells and found an old hidden watermill.

I’m going on more than I had planned with this blog post. I don’t know if you can tell, but when I’m excited about something I cant stop sharing.

There were so many dreams that came true this year. The job I didn’t know I’d be in this time last year. The holidays and outdoor adventures I havent even mentioned like heading to Bempton Cliffs and seeing Puffins again. But ones literally a handful of metres away from me. I also explored the beautiful ruins of Castle Acre. And enjoyed a stroll round Linacre Reservoir.

Plus I ticked off another dream! The dream of seeing and capturing a photo of a kingfisher. Was so excited when I spotted them swooping over the lakes at Belton House.
And along some of these journeys and many others, I got to hang out and meet a few different people. Plus I was blessed with the opportunity of filming a friends wedding and creating a cinematic wedding video – opening up future opportunities of wedding filming.

Right I’ll shut up now, and conclude this extremely long reflection of this year. Besides I’d be shocked if you still are, as its just such a long amount of waffle and I realise I’ve been sat here for over 2 hours compiling this.

So in short… Upon reflection this year really has been a year of dreaming big. And it’s only just the beginning. I know the dreaming doesnt end here. And some of them are still unfolding and forming as we speak. God has definitely put a desire on my heart to keep on dreaming… and to keep pushing out of my comfort zone.

2022…

So that leads me on nicely to 2022.
It’s become a tradition now every year for me to share what the following year will be like. Some words, or a motto for the year. And so I’ve been praying hard into this and something I’ve wanted to do is push myself more. Really push myself out of my comfort zone. Seek adventure! That word adventure has been floating around my mind. I definitely get the sense 2022 is going to be another crazy year. How that looks? Only God knows… And I trust Him. He is the Creator of adventure himself.

2022: The year of wild adventures!