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Monthly Review: January 2024

Submitted by Bethany on Wed, 01/31/2024 - 10:00

Happy New Year! I always love the start of a new year, the turn of a calendar page. I know it is arbitrary but I just love that fresh new year feeling!

I was inspired by a TikTok video recently that talked about making a “silly” new year’s resolution. Rather than going for the big stuff - health, money, etc. - they encouraged choosing something small that would improve your life. So I decided that my “silly” new year’s resolution this year is this: to play Dominion at least once a week. It’s my favourite game that has endless permutations and I feel like I never get to play enough! So we started on New Year’s Day by playing a few games with Steve. 

The 1st was a Monday and by the 2nd my week was in full gear. I had two funerals two days in a row and the chair of district called an emergency meeting with our CLT (Circuit Leadership Team) on the Thursday. It turns out that our current Circuit Superintendent is going to retire early due to ill health, so it was time for us to figure how we were going to staff the circuit going forward. As far as someone being superintendent…all eyes turned towards me! I requested time to think about it and to attend the Superintendent’s Training…which was happening in just a few weeks! So this meeting really changed the trajectory of my month (and the whole coming year!)

While all this was going on, Vince and Joan came to visit! This was their first time visiting us since we moved to Caldicot, so we took them to Chepstow Castle.

We have explored this castle many times, but we always seem to find something new! This time a dungeon area was open that hadn't been before and we discovered that if we looked out the window we could see a balcony. So Joel went and stood on the balcony to get this photo of Vince, Joan and me! 

We also went to Tintern Abbey! We lucked out with the weather, it was absolutely gorgeous!

On Saturday we took them for a walk around our castle. There is not supposed to be a lake here but there is at the moment. It’s practically created a moat around the castle! At least the birds seemed to be enjoying it. 

On Sunday we went for a Sunday Roast at the Castle Inn, which never fails to be delicious. Then we said goodbye to them until our plans to visit in summer!

During the week we got some new art pieces hung on the wall. We have this small collection of dragonflies in memory of our friend Katie, who passed away in February 2020. The bottom right piece we bought first, at a little gallery in Cardiff. The top right piece we commissioned from an artist based at a gallery in Taurus Crafts, near Lydney. (Fun story: The artist lost our number to contact us when the piece was ready. She posted on a community Facebook page asking if anyone knew an American couple who lived in Caldicot, and someone from my tap class thought, hey, that must be Bethany, and messaged me in our tap class WhatsApp group!) The biggest piece on the left we commissioned from Steve’s sister, Nicki, who makes art out of jewelry she gets at charity shops. Steve ended up giving it to us for Christmas! We got it framed at the local frame shop and absolutely adore how it turned out. 

On the weekend of the 12-14 I attended the “Whole Hearted” retreat put on by the rural ministry team. It was held at a conference center in Yarnfield. I only took one picture the whole weekend! There were some good learning sessions and I enjoyed meeting new people but I missed home - hotels just aren’t as comfortable as my own bed!

On the 15th the movie theater was giving away free icees for “Blue Monday” so we decided to see “Poor Things” which has been raved about by critics. I could tell from the first minute that I wasn’t going to like it - though I did try! I love Emma Stone but this movie was not for me. We left after about 30 minutes though Joel plans to finish it once it comes out on streaming somewhere. 

On the 18th I finished reading the book that came in my Advent Calendar. I don’t usually share pictures of the books I read but I had to share this one - look how pretty!!

On the 19th we gave Ben his belated birthday present - a night of free babysitting! We let Amy and Ben use our passes to go to the cinema, and they were even giving away free popcorn that day! They went to see Godzilla Minus One - a subtitled Japanese film and they loved it. We stayed home with their two girls and played games, watched Jurassic World and generally had a fabulous time!

Then on the 22nd, it was off to Superintendent’s Training! This was not on my radar at the beginning of the year but here we go. It was a 24-hour in-person training programme at Cliff College. I really enjoyed meeting the other people who are entering superintendency this year, although it was concerning how many people are going into it for the same reason I am - their predecessor is leaving early due to illness. Is it a sign of the times (we aren’t out of the pandemic) a sign of the job (too stressful?) or both?! We will also get about 8 more training days on Zoom through the end of the year. This 92 page handbook will hopefully get us through the rest!

On the 23rd when I finished the super training at Cliff, I drove to North Wales to attend our Synod retreat held at the Noddfa Centre. The theme was “Friendship” and I enjoyed meeting other clergy from around our district (which is the whole of Wales.) With my YCWI hat on I asked around to see if there were any other young clergy women in Wales and it turns out I am the only one! When we had a free afternoon on Wednesday, I drove down to the beach (I couldn’t figure out how to walk there and it was straight down a mountain side) to go for a long walk and reflect on whether or not I am ready to take on superintendency.

I drove home on the 25th and then the rest of the month was apparently not photo worthy, haha. We watched some movies, played Dominion, and a Costco run got cut short when their tills weren’t working so no one could buy anything! And I spent a lot of time thinking about my future in the church here…stay tuned next month to see what happens!

XOXO, Bethany