Two things…

I have had two grand revelations this week…

The first is that I am awful at maths. I said in Sunday’s blog post that it was 10 days until my trip to the States. Obviously that was very wrong, because at that point it was actually 12 days to go. Now it is 8 sleeps! Maths was never my strongest point; I’m an English/History/languages girl. There’s way more flexibility and room for thinking than in maths. Clearly, I cannot even do basic counting. Never mind. We can’t all be Einstein.

The second revelation this week was much more amazing and wonderful. As I said in Sunday’s post, I am entering into a transition period where I’ll be moving, again, to a new house. I also said that I couldn’t afford to live alone…so I have had to give this situation completely over to God and trust that His plans are good. Having moved house so many times, I really liked the idea of staying in one place more than 2 years. I love my house, and it is so great to live here – but I’ve had to surrender the whole situation to God. Not easy…but worth it! I prayed about it and worked out what I felt needed for living in Canterbury to be financially viable.

What I didn’t say was that last Friday, I approached my boss and asked if it was possible to increase my hours at work, or increase my salary. I currently work 4 days a week (32) and usually work at least 8 hours “overtime” during evenings/weekends to make it to a full 40 hour week, but I take my overtime as time off in lieu. (Clear as mud, yes?) I was asking if I could work a standard 40 hour week (Monday to Friday) or stick at 32 hours but for a higher rate. I’ve not had a payrise in the 2 years I’ve worked there, but I’ve never been in a position to need one.

When I raised it with my boss, she asked if we could schedule a meeting this week to talk about it in detail. I spent the weekend NOT worrying about it, because I know that God has greater plans than anything I could ever orchestrate and that all things would work out in the end:

Romans 8:28 – And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good

The meeting with my boss took place yesterday, and the amazing thing is that she had already decided to give me a payrise…because I am being promoted!

Whoop!! I’m now Senior Social Worker at our Fostering Agency. I get to take on more responsibilities, a supervising role for our students, and the financial benefit means that I can afford to get my own place without any difficulties!! As I said to my friend Simon, I won’t be buying a yacht anytime soon and won’t suddenly have a craaazy lavish lifestyle, but I will be able to start saving and will have more financial security.

God is just so incredible. He already knew that everything would be fine; he had worked it all out but through it I learned more about trusting him and relying on him completely. There was nothing else I could do, but lean completely on him and I’ve seen, yet again, how faithful he is. What a demonstration of his love; that he gave me peace in the situation and I was able to rest knowing that He had good plans for me. He knew exactly what I needed – to be able to stay in Canterbury near my friends and my church, and to be able to have a place to call “mine” – how blessed am I to have such a powerful but gentle Father God, who cares about what my heart craves and desires.

I am still completely in awe and overwhelmed by his gracious love.

-x-

10…

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Only 10 days to go until my (what seems now to be annual…) trip to Oregon, USA! I am unbelievably, beyond words excited – and right now I can’t work out if it’s more because I cannot wait to see some of the superest, most lovely people I know, or because I will be escaping from work for 17 whole days.

Escaping may feel a bit of an exaggeration, and at 9.50pm on a Sunday night it probably is. However, since returning to work in January after almost two weeks off, I have to say that work has felt – at times – like we are trying to push water up a hill. And in case y’all don’t know, that can’t be done.

On top of which, this week it became clear that at the end of April I will be moving to my thirteenth house. Our contract here runs out and for reasons that aren’t mine to post on here, my housemate won’t be staying with me. I can’t stay on my own for financial reasons so I have three options:
1) find a new housemate (which is a complete gamble; I’ve taken it before with my house before this one and it was such a mistake. I almost went mad – I’m not willing to do that again)
2) join a new house-share (reluctant to do this for the same reasons as point one
3) branch out and get my own place

Option 3 now seems like the way to go, and I feel pretty ok about it. It’s obviously not my choice to leave here but I can’t do anything about the situation so I have to count it as joy and deal with it. Except, I can’t afford to live by myself – which is why I haven’t done it before.

I know that God has a plan for me in this, and I have a few ideas that would make living by myself a viable option…if they don’t work out I trust that God has something better. I do wish I didn’t have to have this upheaval, again, though.

Someday soon I’ll do a blog about all my houses and moves. I am an excellent house-mover, having done it so many times (11 times since I was 9…level: Expert)

Back to the holiday though. I fly out on the 7th March and am back early on Saturday 23rd. I have two days of travelling to get back, which will be tough but it is worth it. I love my US friends so much and visiting them always feels a bit like coming home. I think God has timed this right for me – a few weeks respite, albeit with 4 crazy kids (and a crazy dog) – but it is the kind of madness that I absolutely enjoy and that does me a whole lot of good.

I can’t wait – 10 days and counting!!

-x-

Vive la revolution! …or not

Greetings from my little hub of insanity, chaos and rantiness. *Disclaimer* I am feeling in quite a strange mood; a little bit hyper, a little bit dopey, quite sleepy and just generally weird. Please bear that in mind when reading the following post.

It has been an odd week, or to be more accurate, an odd fortnight. I don’t know if it’s the Les Miserables influence, but the whole world (or at least – the people I work with on a daily basis) seem to all be on the verge of a revolution, and to be quite honest with you it is WINDING ME UP!

On one hand, it’s ok. The young people I work with are all doing great and I’m so proud because even the ones with the most ‘baggage’ are surpassing expectations. But on the other hand…well… It’s more than a little frustrating, to say the least – and the least is all I can say here due to professional boundaries and confidentiality etc. Let’s just say that over the last few weeks, it’s been a challenge to hold my tongue and remember what Thumper says:

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Today in church, the sermon was taken from James 1: 19-27

Verse 19 really stuck out to me. “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God”

Martin, who was preaching, explained that we need to be self-controlled in both our heart response and our physical actions because they both have an impact for good or bad.

Over the past few weeks I have come up against any number of difficulties – trials. And it has been hard, very hard, to not get frustrated and snappy like others around me. Instead I have been trying to count it as joy (James 1:2) because God is teaching me to be patient and steadfast. But it isn’t easy. In the environment in which I work, it is so easy to be slow to listen, and quick to speak IN anger. Every day my colleagues and I see and read horrible things and deal with the worst of the worst situations, and lately we have been facing a huge amount of opposition in our work. It can be hard to remain self-controlled and not hit back verbally…to just reach boiling point and have to really bite my tongue before I say something snarky and mean.

But the book of James says it is better to be quick to HEAR – to really listen and take in what someone is saying, than to say something out of anger. We need to focus on the person’s heart – what they are really upset about/struggling with, rather than perhaps getting angry at the way they express it.

Don’t get me wrong – a lot of the anger that I’ve experienced over the past few weeks is righteous anger – shock and hurt and disgust at the injustice of the world and horror at some people’s attitudes when you have higher expectations of them. But the correct response isn’t to get all riled up about it, and say something nasty – that’s just as unhelpful: for your own heart as for them.

I need my heart to be in the right place and today’s sermon was a timely reminder from God that in the season my workplace is in, the way through is to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.

Well – what began as a ranty and quite “blah” post has actually cleared my mind a bit. Writing is so helpful in getting my thoughts ordered. Like I said, this week has been a challenge and it’s thrown me all off (3 days working late and being shouted at a lot will do that to a person) but above all I am thankful for these trials – yes, THANKFUL.

I choose to be thankful for my God who knows me and does not give me more than I can bear in Him, who cares about my charater. I choose to be thankful for my God who allows situations that test and strengthen me, I choose to be thankful that He loves me so much that He wants me to be the best version of myself, and I choose to be thankful that I can rely on Him to give me everything I need to accomplish that.

-x-

Splash! (Again)

So…it appears I was wrong about Splash! Sort of, anyway.

While I still think the show itself was absolutely PANTS, it seems that it has actually done wonders for local diving!! I’ve come home for the weekend and coincidentally it is the weekend of the British Diving Championships; they are being held at the Life Centre and tickets are SOLD OUT! I’ll have to make do with watching the live streaming. 

Another good outcome from Splash is that there are now waiting lists for diving lessons in Plymouth…for a really underratred sport it’s a huge triumph and now I really do have to eat my words a bit because I totally slated the show when it first started.  

(Just to clarify… I do still think the show was rubbish but I’m so pleased that it’s raised the profile of diving that it has now gone up in my estimation)

On a slightly unrelated/but yet related topic, I am now in love with 1930s jazz after watching Dancing on the Edge on BBC this week. I don’t know how to describe it really, but I think words like ‘opulent’ ‘decadent’ and ‘exotic’ are a good bet. I’ve only seen episode 1 and there are 5 in total so hopefully it is this good all the way through. 

I guess now we’re on the subject of TV, I guess I should also plug ‘The Dumping Ground’ which is on the cbbc channel (uk) on Fridays at 5. It is a spin-off from a show called ‘the story of Tracy Beaker’ which itself was based on a book of the same name. It is a fictional show about a children’s residential home, and each half hour episode focuses on one or two of the kids and what goes on in their lives as they are growing up in Care. For a kids show it is surprisingly ‘deep’ and challenging and the other day I watched five episodes in a row and cried at almost every one! It isn’t completely accurate and some of the kids’ acting is a bit cringeworthy…but I would definitely recommend it to anyone trying to explain about children being looked after. 

That’s enough tv talk for tonight…have a great weekend! 

-x-

A girl and her smartphone

I have had the same  useless old phone for the past two years. The camera on it broke almost immediately but Virgin wouldn’t replace it because they are useless like that. While everyone else has been raving about their smartphones I’ve been plodding along with my little brick of a Nokia…

Until last week that is!! My contract finally ended just before Christmas and I now have a shiny Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini in blue. It’s beautiful!  So far I’m not completely addicted to it; in fact it really winds me up that I can’t turn it off! It seems like a flaw to me, making a phone that doesn’t want to ring the alarm unless it’s turned on.  I haven’t really slept properly in the week I’ve had it because I don’t like leaving stuff plugged in overnight.

On the plus side, it has an amazing camera, I’m on a great tariff with unlimited internet and it has all the Apps I’ve been hearing about for YEARS!

And as a matter of fact I have just typed out this whole post on my phone. Painstakingly tapping away on my little touchscreen…what a techie I am

-x-