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5 minutes with Joanna ...

Tell us a little about you

I was recently described as "an English teacher, pastor, feminist, journalism graduate and punk-crafter" and that about sums it up! I'm also allowed to feed and cuddle a Russian Blue cat.

What's your favourite bible passage & why?

I spent a long time with the book of Habakkuk and I just love it. The extremity and intensity of Habakkuk's final hymn of trust in God smacks me in the face every time I read it. So, Habakkuk chapter 3.

How do you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus?

One of the privileges of living alone, waking up alone, making breakfast alone, is that you have a lot of space to remember and acknowledge Jesus' presence with you. My favourite author, Adrian Plass, calls this TOEOTD - The Other End Of The Dialogue. Another Christian author, Brother Lawrence calls this practicing the presence of God. From the outside, some people would call it talking to myself. It's not always out loud though, but that's ok. It's possible because I know that even though the triune God is omnipotent, omnipresent and omni-busy, He's also with me, all the time. Jesus, in a gobsmacking and yet mundane way (the neutral mundane, not the negative one) is happy to be with me while I watch TV, walk to the bus, cook dinner or take my cat for a walk. From that base point, it's kind of "easy" to keep fixed on Him because I'd have to very actively ignore Him to do that.

On a sidenote, I've only ever tried to articulate all that on two occasions before, to other Christians, and they looked at me like I was a bit mad and/or some sort of special saint. So I've been reluctant to describe it... It's very mundane to me (how presumptuous!) because it grew from loneliness as a child combining with good theology. So it doesn't feel odd... But, make of that what you will!

What would you like the next generation of Christian women to know?

I'd love the next generation of Christian everyone, but especially women, to know that we don't need to wait for permission. We've already been given permission, indeed, we've all been commissioned, by Jesus, to make disciples. So, if you want to meet with people, run an event, make a sculpture, plant a garden, build a family, write a book, just do it. You don't need to wait for permission.

What's one thing that you love about your church?

I am incredibly blessed to be part of a church where people have patiently loved me through many many ups and downs as well as my weirdnesses/boring references to Shakespeare/self-aggrandisement, and they're such a great example of God's love and patience. How awesome is that! A church where even though plenty of things are not great or not as good as they could or should be, we also have this beautiful discipline of love. That's a miracle!

What did you learn about God at a time in your life you found hard?

Heh heh, I think I learn the most in the hard times. In the most recent hard thing, I've actually been learning that while God wants me to take up my cross and follow Him, they doesn't need to include staying in abusive relationships. I think a lot of Christians have heard the message of love and patience so thoroughly we can be suckers for punishment. I was reading just yesterday a passage I had to write a devotional on. Paul had gone to the Synagogue in a new town, as was his practice, but eventually the arguments became so long and pointless he left, and went to a lecture hall and preached there. It might sound like an unrelated example, but to me it was this great encouragement. Awesome, he doesn't cut them off, if they want to repent and come and hear, there's opportunity for that. But he's not gonna stay and repeat an endless pattern of negativity. I've very rarely given myself permission for that. I've had to be learning how to.

What are you passionate about?

Unfortunately I'm extremely passionate about my own comfort. But also my whole personality is geared towards enjoying helping people learn, so I get a genuine joy from teaching God's word. Also from teaching English, it's a great excuse to let my inner nerd earn some money for us!

What do you enjoy doing when you rest?

When I exhausted-rest I just enjoy watching endless episodes of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, or The Cook and the Chef, or Agatha Christie shows. When it's proper taking care of self rest, I enjoy knitting and quilting and crocheting and telling myself I'll learn tatting, and enjoying meals with friends or boardgame tournaments.

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