misdirected emotions

I am a great example of how to display an emotion completely separate from what I m actually feeling. I have written before that I can be an ostrich when it comes to emotions and feelings but I also have a knack for completely dwelling on something minor as a way to distract myself from what I’m really feeling.

Case in point: about 2 hours ago I said goodbye to my wonderful American friends. I just about held the tears back as the kids all got emotional and as they prayed for me and told me their favourite things about my visit. I felt so sad to be leaving that I wanted to tell Rachel to turn the car around and I would just stay forever!

(But of course I didn’t and I said goodbye at the bus stop with a huge knot in my tummy and a lump in my throat from trying so hard not to lose it)

So then I spent an hour on the bus trying not to cry, reading my Bible and praying and looking at pictures. By the time I got to the airport I still felt sad but I was thankful for my time with the Libbys.

Then I checked in and my bag was too heavy and I had to pay the excess fee and instead of being my usual practical self and rearranging items between my carry-ons to make my check-in lighter I just went ahead and paid the whole charge! Which left me kicking myself all through Security for not making a wise decision.

Of course, I got so frustrated with myself over it because I didn’t want to think about what I was missing with Rachel and the kids.

I really had to fight to let go of that frustration and not let it take away from the joyful time I’ve had. Seriously, I’ve just had 2 wonderful weeks with some of my favourite people and I’m going to dwell on an insignificant thing like paying a baggage charge?!

How could my heart and head be so ungrateful so suddenly. It honestly took a lot of prayer and thanking God for all blessings of the last two weeks to make me see that while yes, maybe I made a silly split second decision, but it was even sillier to let it spoil my heart.

In the end I was thanking God that he provided me with enough spending money in my purse that I could pay the charge in cash and still have enough for a Starbucks while I wait for my boarding time. He didn’t have to provide that, but He did, because He loves me.

One thing I am taking away from this experience is to always have a thankful heart even when you feel silly or frustrated with your situation, because there are too many blessings to count if you look for them.

The other thing I am taking away from this is to be more wware of what I am feeling and why. This has always been a thing for me, and I have to constantly examine myself: what am I feeling, why am I feeling that way? But now I also need to challenge myself to change my attitude if it is not right and focused on God.

Such deep thoughts whilst sat at Gate D11. I have another hour or so until my flight starts boarding so I think I will head around the concourse in search of that Starbucks!

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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.

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Beware the Grumperson

Sheesh. Today has been a very long, very stressful, nightmare of a day. I feel like hibernating. I thought yesterday was supposed to be the National Gloomy Day. Why can people just not be NORMAL?!

I have been totally grumpy all day – and when I say grumpy, I don’t mean in an adorable Disney character way.

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My grumpy mood has been more like this:

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Seriously. Don’t mess with me.

I hate being grumpy. I don’t think it suits me, and more to the point, it is not the best side of me. Definitely not. The girls at work all noticed that I was in a foul mood and even though they thought it was pretty funny (because I’m NOT like that normally) I wish I had been able to snap out of it and deal with the stresses and issues better. Grr.

Fortunately I’m now watching Miranda from last night and it’s just made me laugh out loud – literally. And I have good plans for tonight so hopefully I can get over it and start again tomorrow.

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A traumatic week

Last week was full of antics, and mostly ‘not-good’ ones :S

On Monday I drove back from Devon to Canterbury, after a restful yet busy week of annual leave. It took about six hours to get back, so I was pretty tired and decided to have an early night at 9.20pm. Just over an hour later, my work phone rang…the joys of being Social Worker On-Call. To cut a long (confidential) story short, I ended up having to attend at a foster carers’ home at 11pm and didn’t get home until almost 1am.

The next day I went into work and got caught up on all the shenanigans of the previous week, before heading out on a home visit and then to collect a young person to take him to a local police station to be questioned after he had assaulted someone. It was my first time in the deepest, darkest recesses of a police station. It was not his first.

After three hours in the station I returned said young person to his foster carers, and eventually got to my friends’ house for dinner about 7pm (an hour late, thank God for friends who feed me, and are also forgiving). I thought I’d be hopeful and get another early night around 9.30pm, but shortly after 11 my phone rang…this time a different young person had not returned home by curfew and consequently had to be reported missing to the police, me and social services. She then turned up about half an hour later.

And so it went on…meetings, phone calls, a rushed visit to the gym and generally lots of busy-ness and organised chaos.The weekend fared marginally better, I had a quite peaceful Saturday – cleaning the house, reading, catching up on life, but with regular updates from one of my foster carers about her foster daughter. I can’t say on here what it was about, but it was very confusing and no-one seems to know what really happened!

Saturday night was great though, I went to my friend Emma’s (she lives across the complex from me) and we ate pizza and chatted, and watched Outnumbered. I felt loved and peaceful and it was what I needed.

Sunday was my first October Sunday at City, as I was away for two weekends, and apart from a weird moment where mistaken identity meant a lady ‘told me off’ for missing creche duty (she thought I was someone else, and that someone else had not turned up) it was lovely to be back. We heard an awesome preach from our lead elder and I only had one work phone call during the service which is an improvement from the last time I was on call when I had three.

And so, there I was on Sunday night, feeling pretty drawn out and looking forward to some gentle Downton time to soothe me after my hectic and mental week.

BUT THEN

I am still absolutely furious with the writers of Downton Abbey for killing off Lady Sybil. With absolutely no word of a lie, I woke up this morning and felt like I was grieving for an actual friend. It felt so real, and it is so unjust. Of course, like everything Downton it was incredibly well-written and acted, but that’s not the point! It’s just so unfair, I feel like nothing good can happen for the rest of the series now. As if it wasn’t enough that poor Lady Edith got jilted at the altar, now they have lost Sybil too. I described the episode to my housemate and used the word HORRIFIC about five times.

so there we have it, ladies and gentlemen of the blogosphere. I am outraged and heartbroken over a TV programme. But so are many millions of other women, so I don’t feel too much of a sad-case/lunatic declaring it to the world.

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Flip that frown upside down

Today started out as a REALLY crappy day.

A few days ago my dad called my sister to say he was going back to Afghanistan in 2 weeks, to take up his job at the Airbase in Kandahar. My sister told my mum, who told me. I didn’t get so much as a text from my dad. And then yesterday, I spoke to my mum who said that my sister had received a text from my stepmum saying my dad had flown out “a few days early” and was already in Afghanistan.

Cue heartache. The thing is, I’m not upset that he’s there. It really makes no difference to me whether he is in Plymouth or Afghanistan – actually it could be that it will be easier now he’s there because there is an excuse for having little/no contact.

What hurts is that I didn’t even get a call to say he would be leaving, and nothing before he decided to fly out early.

I had such angry, horrible dreams and woke up in such a bad mood that I had to cancel plans with Eleanor because I knew I would be terrible company. I just needed to spend time with Jesus. And I cried.

We’re talking ugly, hiccupy, big tears crying. I only ever seem to do that over my dad.

It’s a complicated relationship. No matter how crappy a dad he is, I always hope that something will change. And then when something like this happens, even though every time I say that I won’t be surprised, it feels like I’ve been punched in the stomach.

I hate that it upsets me so much, because I feel like I should be used to it right now. But no matter how much I pretend that it’s ok that he doesn’t call, text, or really make an effort to know me at all, I still feel like a lost little girl when things like this happen.

But after a call to my mum and time with Jesus, listening to worship music and praying/crying for a while, I felt a little better. Tasha and I went to my friend Karen’s because her parents were having a get-together with people from church and I was reminded that while my biological family are, for the most part, pretty rubbish (immediate family excluded) …

I am blessed to have an absolutely amazing church family.

It was so much fun, I think I’m actually bruised from laughing so much. We ate, drank and were merry – and I spent time chatting with people I didn’t know so well before. We even played board games, it was just genuinely the exact thing that I needed. I am so thankful for a God that knows what I need… at a time when I was feeling heartbroken (for the thousandth time) and desperate, he takes me to a place where I can be comforted and loved.

Just what I need.

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A little rant about loan companies

ARGH

Today I’ve spent over 4 hours working through the finances of a very close family friend, who has racked up thousands of pounds in debt through taking out ill-advised, super-high interest “payday” loans. Thousands of pounds.

Is this her fault? Well, yes, and no.

Yes – because she was the one who signed up for these accounts and borrowed money

No – because the amount she initially borrowed only tallies up to about 1/4 of the amount that she now owes, as the interest payments are between 150 and 1000%.

This makes me so angry! Yes, I’m angry with her for being so stupid as to take out the loans in the first place, but more than that I’m absolutely fuming that it’s legal for these companies to even operate!

These companies aren’t even the worst there are. A quick Google search provides literally hundreds of payday loan companies, promising “up to £800”, “£500 NOW”, “payday in 15 minutes, up to £1000” … but what they don’t tell you (until you’re practically confirming the agreement) is that you will then pay astronomical interest rates, meaning that – for example: if you borrow £200, you have to pay up to £750 total.

Interest starts accumulating the day that you take out the loan, so even if you pay back exactly what you borrow on the payment date, you will ALWAYS need to pay an additional amount.

Essentially this is a complete rip off; not designed to help people if/when they are in genuine financial trouble but to make huge amounts of money.

These companies will offer you more money than you ask for, because then they can charge you a higher rate of interest. They convince you this is ok by telling you that they’ve “run a credit check and you have a good rating” … these people are trained to convince you that you need more than you thought. They suck you in!

Once you’re in, you get emails telling you that you can rollover your loan; put off paying it for a week, two weeks. Each day you have the loan, you’re accruing interest…until you finally realise the severity of the situation and that you simply cannot pay it back.

So what do you do then? A quick Google search and you can find hundreds more companies, willing to loan you the amount to cover your first loan with their own interest rate.

This just leaves you shifting your debt around from one company to another – thinking that you’re being proactive in paying it off, but you’re not. You’re kidding yourself.

Essentially, if you take out a pay day loan, you lose. Always. There is just no way to win, no matter what the company tells you.

Argh I am just so frustrated.

Living debt-free, and understanding money management, are very important to me. Growing up we frequently had very little money – not through mismanagement, but other circumstances. While my mum did amazingly in managing what we did have, so we never went without the genuine essentials (a home, electricity, heating etc) we often had to go without what lots of people would count as necessities: haircuts, new school shoes, birthday parties.

Oftentimes my mum would walk round the supermarket with a calculator, choosing only the absolute essentials and stopping when she’d spent her budget.

Nowadays we are on a much better setting, and I have my own income with more than provides for all my needs (and allows me to pay back my student debts and build up my savings account) but the lessons I learned as a child will never leave me.

I don’t ever want to be in a situation where I have to turn to others to rescue me from my financial catastrophes. As soon as I was old enough, I got a part-time job and worked throughout my A-levels so that I could pay for my own things. I got a second job when my exams were over, and saved this money for Uni expenses.

Basically, from the age of 16 I had my own income, my own budget and if I didn’t physically have the money for something, I didn’t buy it.

This isn’t bragging, but at 18 I had: paid for all my own driving lessons, bought my first car (including tax, and insurance!) and bought a laptop for Uni. I bought all my own clothes, shoes, make-up, craft stuff and also gave mum some money each month towards my living expenses.

I learned these lessons the hard way, and it really worries/upsets me when I see kids today with literally no clue about the value of anything. The kids that I work with have absolutely no idea how to manage their income or create a budget.

These are the kids that in a few years time will be those who take out the payday loans and get into horrific amounts of debt, that they may never get out of by themselves.

It makes me angry and really, really sad.

*Note: fortunately, for our family friend, she asked for help and we are able to give it. We’ve called her creditors to adjust payment schedules and have worked out a plan to pay them off in more a manageable way. She should have cleared her debts by the summer.

One final thing (and then I’m heading to bed!) … if you are in a situation like this, there absolutely is help available.

http://www.helpwithdebt.org.uk/

http://www.debtadvisorycentre.co.uk/debt-advice/?gclid=CN7_89nHt64CFYgmtAodvXDsng

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