A thoroughly pleasant day

I am so thankful for days like today. I feel like they are a reminder that God knows exactly what I need, and more than that, he loves to give it to me.

This past fortnight I have worked my little socks off, since 8.55am on Monday last week I’ve been on overdrive and today was my first chance to just sit down and take a breath. I can’t really explain why the past two weeks have been so hectic, due to nature of my work…but I can say that I’ve worked 16 hours overtime, and driven over 600 miles for work reasons, which should give you a pretty good idea of what it’s been like.

{via}

So hooray for Saturday, that’s what I say!

This morning I had a bit of a lie-in, and finished my latest book (Lullabies for Little Criminals)  and then got ready for my first boot sale. I loved going to boot sales as a kid but I don’t remember ever “working at one”. It was exciting; a few weeks ago, a friend of mine at my small group mentioned that she was thinking of doing a boot sale as she had lots of bits and pieces from her uncle’s house – he died a few months ago.

I got interested because she said she needed help organising it – of course my ears pricked up at this! I offered to help and said that I also had some stuff we could sell – somewhere along the way the idea evolved into collecting goods from people at church, and doing the boot sale as a fundraiser for our church building project.

We raised £95.95!

I was completely amazed, I had no idea we’d sell such a lot; we underpriced on some things so that they were more likely to sell but I’m sure we could have charged slightly higher prices and still sold. Nevertheless Lyn, her husband Pete and I had a very successful few hours and Lyn is going to write the cheque for the church building account tomorrow! We made it up to £100 with change that we each had, and with Gift Aid the church will get around £125 from our few hours’ work.

I am pleased 🙂

This afternoon I have just rested and enjoyed my afternoon off;

I’ve watched a lot of tennis
done some life admin (car insurance premium has dipped below £800 for the first time and I am excited!)
watched Wimbledon the movie
called my Mum
bought travel insurance for our holiday to Majorca
set up the guest bed for Katie to come and stay tomorrow night
did a trial suitcase pack for Majorca (more to come on this!)
done my washing
read another chapter of The Greener Grass Conspiracy (it’s getting challenging now)
cooked a lovely dinner, and washed up afterwards
uploaded photos and ordered prints from Truprint

and more besides…

Listing it all like that makes it seem like a lot, but I promise it has been restful. Right now I’m watching Murray v Baghdatis, and hoping that they don’t get special dispensation to continue past 11pm because I’m tired and I want to watch the end before I go to bed!! I just got asked to cover someone on creche tomorrow so need to be up at a reasonable time…no snoozing for me.

-x-

£63 million

Someone in England has one £63 million on the National Lottery, and has not come forward to claim their money. It’s obviously not me, because I’ve only played the lottery about three times. But the story was featured on Radio 2 this afternoon and it got me thinking, “what would I do if I’d won”

The journalist had interviewed a few people who came up with things like;

– buy a yacht

– go on holiday

– quit my job

With £63 million you could probably buy 63 yachts and have a holiday in each of them, one a year for the rest of your life.

But that seemed a bit meaningless to me. It’s such a lot of money, it’s really hard to imagine! I had a half hour car ride home, though, so came up with a few ideas:

1) pay off my student loan, my brothers’ student loan, and my sisters’ student loan.

2) buy houses – kind of like Monopoly, really! I’d buy a house for myself, a house for my mum, and put money aside to help each of my siblings with their mortgages so they don’t have to worry about that

3) give to church. If I were to win the lottery tomorrow, I’d give money to our church building fund. We have had an ongoing project to buy a building pretty much in the heart of Canterbury, but due to its’ state of disrepair it needs to be knocked down and rebuilt. 10% of £63 million could build a really beautiful church building that can serve our community well

4) I’d also give money to my church in Plymouth, to pay a salary for a youth worker because they have such a great ministry with lots of local kids, but are reliant on volunteers. If there was money for a full-time pastor this would help the ministry take off again. This is something close to my heart because I came to know Jesus through the youth work at Hooe. I’d give money to the Girls’ Brigade that is based there as well, to help them give scholarships for girls who can’t pay fees and provide great activities and trips

5) donate. I honestly think I’d be incredibly overwhelmed by all the money, so I’d give to lots of charities – local ones and worldwide ones

6) pay taxes! I almost dread to think how much I’d be taxed, but Jesus told us to “give to Caesar what is Caesars” and as long as the government of this country sets taxes, I will pay them…even if it seems like a high amount.

7) replace all my clothes – I realised the other day that I own, and still regularly wear, some of my clothes from before I went to University. Possibly some I had when I was doing GCSEs! So I’d go shopping and not even look at a price tag, but buy things based on if I wanted them! (But I’d probably do this shopping spree somewhere like Next or Dorothy Perkins rather than the designer stores)

Isn’t this dress so cute?

Honestly I don’t think I could actually spend that much money…but it was fun playing the little game

-x-

Modesty…

Last night I went to my friend  house, and after dinner we were chatting over a cup of tea and double-chocolate chip cookie, about our holidays this year. We are both going to Majorca; me with Mum next month, and her with her boyfriend and several friends in September.

Eventually the conversation worked its way towards beach-wear, and what might be appropriate or inappropriate. She and her boyfriend have been together for about six months, but haven’t been in any situations that would involve this kind of consideration.

You might wonder why any consideration is needed…well, because of such thing as modesty. I’ve done some online-window-shopping, trying to find holiday clothes, and there is no way I would be caught dead in most of them, because there is just not enough swimsuit to cover you up!

I tried googling for modest swimwear, but ended up with things like this:

and this:

Personally, I think these are a little extreme. The top one is from a specialist clothes store for Muslim women, whose religion states that they should be covered.

I’m not quite that … extreme (?)

As a Christian, I believe in the Bible. I believe that my body was intelligently designed by God, so I should not be ashamed of it. However, I also believe that a woman’s body can lead a man astray and even cause him to sin.

However, nowhere in the Bible does it say “thou shalt not tan”, so now I’m in a dilemma.

I actually want to wear a bikini on my holiday, because I’m only going with my Mum and let’s face it, she saw me naked almost every day for probably the first four years of my life so there’s not much point being embarrassed in front of her. But I will take a sarong, or something similar, so that I can cover up when I’m not in the pool. And my bikini also has a skirt on it, so there’s less flesh on show

Something like this:

Cute, right?

Time marches on…and some thoughts on comparison

When you’re a child, time seems to drag on and on and on, and it feels like there are a thousand school days for every weekend. I remember waiting and waiting, and then finally it was Friday, with the promise of a later bedtime, playing, a trip to the beach or going out with my Nana.

Everything always seemed to go so slowly – I was always waiting for something – with Christmas and my birthday six months apart there was always a subtle countdown in my head. But it took forever to come around – six months may as well have been six years in my childish head!

Now I’m a *grown-up*, the weeks and seem to whizz past so quickly that it feels like a blur. I know that saying this makes me sound much older than my 23 years, but “it seems like just yesterday” that it was Christmas, when actually it was almost six months ago.

I can’t believe that it’s already the middle of June…pretty soon it will be the longest day, and a few weeks later I’m on holiday, then the Olympics…and when the Olympics are done it’s practically September and the shops will be counting down for Christmas.

I’m exaggerating, but only slightly.

It scares me a bit – I don’t want life to pass me by without me noticing. At the same time, I don’t want to always be living for the next thing – anticipating something else, rather than living contentedly with what I have right now.

I’m reading this book – The Greener Grass Conspiracy – with a group of women from my church. So far it’s not life-changing, but I’m only two chapters in and it’s definitely making me rethink how I see things; specifically how I compare myself with others.

I may be only 23, but I feel like such an old soul sometimes. Whether you call it maturity, or life experience…it’s often easy for me to get way ahead of myself and compare what I have with what those around me have.

[via Pinterest]
Earlier in the week, I was reading my daily devotional from Proverbs31 – it’s a ministry for women. The devotional was about comparison, and in it the author said:

don’t compare your insides, to someone else’s outsides

How true is that?

On the outside, other people may seem to have it “all together”. But what I’m learning, slowly, is that it doesn’t matter! And this is a big thing for someone like me, who has lived her whole life trying to measure up to others.

How can it not matter, though, when the whole world teaches that you need to be like everyone else, or better than everyone else. You can’t possibly be happy unless you have that pair of shoes, that promotion, that hairstyle, that body…advertising uses comparison to make us think the only way we could ever have joy is to strive to have what everyone else has.

Well.

I have news for you.

I have JESUS.

I have a Saviour, who died for me on a cross so that I could be free from sin and death. I have surety of my salvation, and of my eternal rewards in heaven.

Even if, here on earth, my life doesn’t look like everyone elses, I know that I am storing up treasure in heaven and that whenever God calls me home, I will have complete and utter joy because I will be with Him.

Because of that, I can continually fight to say GOODBYE to comparison – because Jesus delights in me and chose to redeem me for His own.

 

Just a little thought for a grey Saturday afternoon…

-x-

Life is full of bumps and bruises

The last two weeks or so have been quite turbulent for me. Many “ups” – my sisters’ birthdays, my birthday, time with family and a rest from work… but also many “downs” – my birthday, hard family times, and a job rejection.

So what’s been happening?

As a family we took full advantage of the Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend – we had my sister’s 18th birthday party on the 1st, so my brother and I drove home late on the 31st to join in the fun. We both took Friday off, so had a super long bank holiday weekend to celebrate and it’s the first time in over two years that all four of us siblings have been in the same place! (Crazy I know, but one of us always has to work or is away or doing something when we get together) It was lovely to be together, and we got some great family photos on party night – I plan to get some of them blown up to frame. All four of us, all together for four days, and no arguments – definitely a thing to be celebrated!

So that was an “up”…but the day after Abigail’s party came my birthday, my 23rd.  It’s always a difficult day for me. I think the right word is “bittersweet”. It’s the first birthday I’ve been home for, in the past four years, so that was lovely – waking up to Mum wishing me Happy Birthday and giving me a big hug and kiss, and having everyone around to watch me open presents and cards. Mum and I went out for tea, and a walk, and we had a barbecue in the evening (despite the torrential rain…it was an indoor barbecue!) and from that perspective I had a great day and felt very loved.

The downside is that my birthday is always a reminder of how broken my family relationships are. I got a card from my dad and stepmum, signed by my brother and sister, but no phone call or present. I didn’t even get a card from my paternal grandparents. I missed my Nana a lot; she died two years ago, but she always used to call me in the morning and sing “Happy Birthday” down the phone. It was cringeworthy at the time, especially when I reached Uni and she still did it, but now that she’s gone I miss it so much.

It’s hard not to dwell on who I miss, and how much it hurts that half of my extended family – grandparents, aunts and uncles, completely ignored the day. It’s hard not to be sad and bitter about the fact that my Dad didn’t even call.

But, I survived, because God is good and He is the best Father I could hope for. I try to be satisfied in him.

And what else went on while I was away – well, my mum and sister are moving house this weekend; downsizing to a two bedroom cottage from our 3-4 bedroom house. We’ve been doing a lot of packing, organising, donating and throwing out. I’ve found it therapeutic but my mum and sisters have found it very hard. So while it was difficult, I was pleased to be there and able to take charge of things and spur them on. I’m excited for Mum’s move, as I think it is a really positive step.

We also booked a holiday – just Mum and I, to Majorca in July. I am beyond excited about a week in the sun, just her and me. We’ve never done anything like this but I just know it will be great, and it’s nice to have something to look forward to when the days are tough.

I’m trying to accept that life is full of stops and starts, ups and downs, closed doors and heartaches. I’m also trying to remember that God is in control and has my best interests at heart. I often forget, but He is so gracious in accepting me back each time I turn to Him.

There hasn’t been much of a purpose to this post, other than for me to offload what’s on my mind. I hope you didn’t mind reading my ramble! At some point this week I want to do a 6 month update of my goals for 2012, but now it’s late and I need to get to sleep!

-x-

God prompts

It isn’t often that I get “God prompts”. I don’t mean gentle nudges, or a feeling that I should do something – those happen regularly…I mean actually hearing God tell me to do something.

If you’re a non-believer, don’t switch off – hearing from God doesn’t make me crazy; it’s a real thing, spoken about countless times in the Bible. God speaks to His people all the time and it makes me feel blessed whenever He speaks with me because I know that His attention is for my good.

So, as I say, hearing certainly from God doesn’t happen on a daily basis – so when I do hear clearly from Him, I know I have to follow what He says.

This past week, God asked me to say sorry to my sister. I hadn’t done anything majorly wrong – but I made a flippant and insensitive comment about something;. not intended to hurt her, it was “just a joke”, and I don’t think she even had her feelings hurt. But later that day, I was doing some sewing and I felt God tell me I had to apologise for being insensitive.

Let me just say here that I really dislike apologising, and admitting when I’m in the wrong. When I was three, I wrote my name on the dining room wall – to this day (20 years later) I haven’t actually owned up or apologised for it. (At the time I blamed it on my sister, then aged 3 months old)

My point is, I don’t like to apologise and while the example above eventually became nothing more than a funny family story, I really felt that God strongly wanted me to apologise to my sister for making an insensitive comment.

I didn’t want to…but long story short, I did, and even though it was a bit awkward because I was bringing something up from hours earlier, I feel that my sister appreciated my apology and I also feel God’s joy in helping me to humble myself and submit to His will.

In the days since this I’ve been thinking about other, bigger things I should apologise for. I know that all my sins are forgiven in Christ, and through Him I’ve been able to forgive a lot of people – but I also feel God prompting me to admit some of my wrongdoings to the people they’ve affected.

Honestly, this scares me…but a friend of mine recently posted this as her status on Facebook and it really struck my heart; “God is so good, He graciously teaches me new things every day and cares more about my character then my comfort and honestly because of that I feel blessed today. He must love me so much to graciously show me what He desires to make new in me. When he removes it, it hurts…but the product of the pain is priceless and beautiful.” 

So I think that while it’s terrifying and I don’t want to, I have to trust that God has work to do in me that is for my good and that He will bring good from the discomfort.

Will let you know how it goes!

-x-