Life update - A Big One
It's been a good while since my last 'life-update' & more has changed in the last 6 months than perhaps ever has in such a short period...
We're getting married!
As you may well have seen on social media or the like, I got engaged. Many of you who have followed my work & adventures over the years but don't live in or around Stafford, UK may well have not met Freya and are wondering 'who the heck is this colourful, crazy & extremely beautiful woman in Jake's life?'. In answer to that question I thought I'd spend some time filling you in and also introduce you to her kids, Rufus & Matilda, as well as let you know how we feel the Lord is leading us in the coming season.
On the first occasion I spent a good length of time talking to Freya I ended the 4 hour conversation by saying 'the more I get to know you the more inspiring I find you' and that continues to be true day to day. I first remember meeting Freya sometime around a year a half ago, however it turns out that I must have met her many years ago when my Dad worked in the renowned Bagnall's Toys & Models that Freya's Dad owned. She remembers me as 'the little blond boy' in the shop, I have no recollection, but then I was about 5, she would have been a little older.
Freya is passionate about Jesus and passionate about living to co-create with Him in the Kingdom of God coming on earth as it is in heaven. She trained to be a midwife in order to serve internationally on the mission field & remains passionate about international mission (phew!). More recently Freya started her own business teaching ante-natal classes for expecting mothers (and families); she invests so much time championing family though her courses & she is a champion in her own family; beloved daughter, faithful sister & incredible mother (and godmother to more kids than I can remember).
If you've seen any photos on social media etc, you will have no doubt seen that Freya likes to dress colourfully. But Freya isn't just colourful in dress, her character is like a powder paint fight, in the best possible way! She is full of energy & creativity, she seems to be able to turn her hand to anything and to do it with excellence; from lecturing uni students to her self-styled DIY handiwork & from baking the best sticky toffee pudding my Grandma has ever tasted (that's a BIG deal) to being rather adept at navigating the seas on a stand up paddle board. She can even juggle... win!
Freya is also deeply compassionate & caring - her friendship circle is enormous & she makes time to journey with those friends through all of the roller-coasters of life. Her house often plays hosts to guests, including little ones who look up to Freya as their super cool aunt - to quote one of them "one of my favourite things ever, is to give you cuddles Freya" - turns out that's one of my favourites too!
God saw that it wasn't good for man to be alone - I've always believed that to be true, and guess what... It is! Freya softens me, nurtures greater humility in me, she encourages my gifts & gently corrects my flaws, she sees the best in me when I don't see it in myself. Life with Freya is even more adventurous, more fun & more fulfilling - with her I have already learned how to better live the Kingdom day-in day-out; I have already become more Christlike because of her.
Rufus is the coolest 9 year old I've ever met! A combination of a miniature Bear Grylls; lighting fires, learning how to survive in the wild, rock climbing as if he's Spiderman & throwing himself into anything adventure or adrenaline & a contemplative who loves to think deeply and reflect on the big questions of life. Rufus, like his mum, loves to create & often does so from scratch (or as near to as one can) & does so excellently. Rufus is exceptionally adept with his hands & quickly overtook me as chief para-chord expert. I am mesmerised by his conceptual ability, often outworked in Minecraft creations. These two facets in tandem are a powerful combination... he even designed & made his own strategy board game out of upcycled wood scraps and old toys. Rufus has a growing sense of justice beyond himself & clearly has the gift of wisdom which I'm excited to see grow and be part of nurturing - even now Rufus refuses to go with the flow & enjoys bucking trends (a characteristic, many of you will know, that I thoroughly enjoy).
To put it simply, Matilda is fun to be around. A bundle of joy & life that carries a flow of grace into her exploration of life. She dances, she sings, she reads, she learns & she smiles the whole time (nearly, anyway). Like her big brother, Matilda loves to understand & has no problem grappling with big topics - she loves getting into some of the nitty gritty themes in scripture which excites me no end. Matilda is also a great learner; she is incredibly humble and doesn't mind not being the best instantly but is determined to overcome & make progress which she always does. As Matilda explores & learns she takes others along for the ride, she cares and nurtures those around her & has a massive servant heart. Alongside this grace & humility, Matilda is incredibly cheeky & at times rather feisty. She is a great role model for younger kids & even for adults. I'm excited to see how this will unfold as she grows more fully into the mighty woman of God that she already is!
This perfectly sums up Freya's retro fashion & her cheeky sense of humour!
The Road Ahead
The road ahead is overwhelmingly exciting. It has many challenges for sure; new rhythms, new skill sets to acquire & develop, new ways in which I (and we) will need to trust the Lord & new sacrifices to be made. But as far as I can see form history, my own life & the lives of those around me, when we embrace the above we grow and the Kingdom of God grown around us. That, ultimately, is our number one motivation & desire but it has many expressions...
WildFire - 'Families living the Kingdom of God in everyday life' - well, our strap-line is taking on a new meaning for me. I'll now be cultivating the above in a much more direct way but Freya will also be joining me in leading some of our teams & may even help me in some of the admin side of our taster weekends & international trips (please Lord!). Our hope is that we'll all be able to join together as part of WildFire teams as well as cultivating local expressions of intergenerational mission here in Stafford. One thing i the diary, of course, is Frey and the kids joining me for at least part of this coming summer's trip to the Philippines!
Expecting - Freya's ante-natal classes are hugely successful & massively appreciated by those that have done them - we'll be working together on transitioning the course to a format where it can serve more families around the UK - we're also excited to explore the possibility of the course being adapted and translated to serve expecting mothers & families in the developing world.
Keeping Home: a little upcycling & permaculture adventure - we're very excited about me moving in to Freya's house & making it my home too. We're wanting to cultivate a place of hospitality & community as well as work towards some level of sustainability. We've already turned the garage into a little workshop in order to upcycle waste & surplus material into functional & beautiful stuff for the house, the community & potentially to even sell some wares. Alongside this we're wanting to transform the garden into something much more productive than a lawn. The plan is for massive planters of veg, fruit & herbs within a 'forest feel' permaculture garden that is a also a parkour play park/gym. We're also hoping to build a clay or brick BBQ/Pizza oven. All of the above will help us learn some of the skills needed to continue to best serve our development work out in the Philippines as well as be a natural and easy place to cultivate community through working together, playing together & hospitality (partying together) - we even just got blessed with a hot tub - completely free! Now that's a guaranteed community builder!
And we know, that really, this is just the tip of the iceberg - simply, the beginning of the invitation in which the Lord is calling to co-create together with each other in co-creating with him!
So, please do pray for us as we head toward marriage. Please do pop in for a coffee, for dinner, to pet the chickens, to help us turn driftwood into wine-racks, to get some ante-natal advice, to talk kingdom mischief in the hot tub or to chat about getting involved in local or international mission!