Back again…this time for good (I hope)

Hello.

I am back again after yet another prolonged blogging break.

To be quite honest, I have thought about writing a blog post countless times (at least once a week) but that has never actually evolved into a physical blog post. I’m sorry if you are following (or lurking) and have been waiting for a post with any kind of anticipation.

The truth is that life has been quite overwhelming lately and I just haven’t known how to put anything into words and not have it turn into a frustrated-at-the-world rant which would a) not achieve anything but prove that I know a lot of angry words, b) be quite unnecessary, and c) not glorify God in the slightest – which is the best reason I can find for having “held my tongue” over the past few months.

As the ever-so-wise Thumper rabbit said:

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Or as the writer of Ephesians said: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)

Plus, everytime I watch the news I am saddened and horrified and humbled that my problems are so insignificant compared to the problems faced by others in the world right now, and I feel a bit ashamed of myself. My problems feel very real to me but I am aware of their insignificance and sometimes that helps me re-focus my prayers where they need to be.

All I seem to do in the last few entries is write a blurby-overview of what has been happening in the long intervals between posts and then make an empty promise to post more frequently. Sorry. I won’t do that again – promise, that is – I am definitely going to blurby-overview my last few months. Beware, many photos ahead!

Here’s what’s new with me:

Home …

Bingley Palace

As of August 1st I am an official resident of the “Bingley Palace” and it is quite lovely. It was a very difficult transition – emotionally, rather than practically (thank you Moving Men!). I found it very difficult to pack all the *stuff* in my sweet little house into boxes and decide what I got to take with me and what had to be donated/stored. I lived with chaos and boxes for weeks and I hated it.

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This is my 11th move in 16 years and for some reason it hurt me more than any of the others. I think because I had really felt that my little house was a gift from God and a chance to finally settle…and it turned out not to be the settling-place. I had to fight not to be angry or annoyed at God for allowing me to feel that connection to the little house, and then letting it be taken from me – instead I had to choose to be incredibly grateful to God for providing the Bingley Palace (it already had the nickname before I got here!) and 2 sweet Christian girls to live with.

I have lived here for almost 4 weeks now and it feels like home. Although I often forget where I live and on several occasions have driven halfway to my old house, I am already seeing the opportunities that God is giving me in this place, and I am beyond pleased to have housemates again. Heather and Emma – you are wonderful already.

Work…

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Ofsted is pending. And that’s all I need to say.

Family…

Jessica newborn

This tiny bundle of gorgeousness starts school next week, and turns 5 in 6 weeks time. I don’t feel like I have had enough preparation for this moment.

Jessica June 2014

This is her on holiday a couple of months ago. She loves Frozen (who doesn’t?!)

I am hoping to go home for a weekend in September to celebrate her birthday. I haven’t seen her since June and it aches.

Other family news is that my sister and brother-in-law graduated University in July. Mum and Abigail drove up to Bangor from Plymouth and Jonathan and I were both able to take time off work to join them for a few days. We were able to watch her graduation on live stream (hats off to Bangor Uni for that!) as there were only enough tickets for Mum and Simeon to sit in the ceremony, but it was very special. It was fantastic to see my little sister get her degree (a FIRST!) and to see the place she has lived in for the past 3 years.

rebecca graduation screenshot

Chester Zoo

We also had a fun day out at Chester Zoo which was equally, but differently, fantastic!

Life in general…

I had a wonderful Bank Holiday weekend, thanks to my incredible friends. I went to visit Rachel and Phil who are now living in Peterborough and expecting their first baby in 4 weeks time. It was a very peaceful few days; lots of tea and cake, board games, movies, and chatting about the baby. I was able to completely shut off from thinking about work and just enjoy re-connecting with my bestest Uni friend. I went to their church on Sunday and it was a really great service. I felt connected to God and enjoyed meeting their friends.

Bank Holiday Monday was a wash-out (torrential rain ALL day) but I didn’t mind because Rosie and I had planned a sewing day, and we spent many happy hours transforming a dress of hers into a skirt. I taught her how to sew on the machine and it was very quaint and civilised. We also watched the film Safe Haven which was traumatic and there were tears shed. If you haven’t seen it, don’t. Or at least make sure you have tissues and a friend handy.

i have a new car! It’s pretty swanky and I rather like it. After the small incident with my Corsa I didn’t feel very confident in driving or parking it – what if something else decided to fail with no warning?! I decided to explore the mystical world of Car Finance and am now the proud sort-of owner of a “Silky Shadow Green” Astra. It feels much larger than the Corsa…the size of a tank in fact – but it is safe and mostly clean (I left a window open by mistake and half a tree got in) and it drives like a dream. So I like it.

I’m getting married.

Jokes! I am still very much single. No, I went to my colleague’s wedding reception – and caught the bouquet! There were only 5 of us (plus a 4 year old) in the running so the odds were pretty good. It is a very pretty bouquet and is still a little bit alive in my living room. 

Long Wedding - bouquet

I’m watching the BAKE OFF!!! I love this programme. It is so calming, despite the baking tragedies which occur. I love the pastel colours and the measuring and the commentary and the contestants little quirks and oddities. I love Norman whose pesto is exotic, and Richard who measures everything, and Chetna who uses so many spices I can almost smell it through the TV. I mostly love Martha because I decided in Week 1 that she was the Christian contestant – and then yesterday I found out that she is! And she goes to a New Frontiers church and is a baker/fundraiser for Teafund which is doubly and tripley awesome. I had hoped to make something from the Bake Off each week…but my excitement waned. I basically didn’t want to make florentines or any kind of biscuit…and then last week’s break week was throughly uninspiring, but watch this space. I am quite pleased with my Swiss Roll from Week 1!

swiss roll

And finally: my current excitement…

Mum and I are going on holiday on Saturday! It is quite alast-minute, but much needed, 5 day/4 night break to Prague in the Czech Republic. A few weeks ago I had a bit of a meltdown and decided I needed to do something radical, like cut off all my hair or get a tattoo, otherwise I would go absolutely crazy with my life. Fortunately my reasonable side kicked in and decided it would be a good idea to book a holiday – so I did! Mum and I fly out of Heathrow at silly-o-clock on Saturday morning and get back on Wednesday evening. We went to Majorca together 2 years ago and it was such a fun time, just the 2 of us.

Sometimes you just need to get away from things for a little while, you know?

I know I said I wouldn’t promise…but I will try to get back into blogging. I do miss it really!! I hope you have enjoyed the little update. It has been a nice way to pass the evening, and a good reminder that despite the stresses and anxieties, there is a lot of GOOD going on in my life.

-x-

 

 

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!

-x-

Learning from Deuteronomy

Yesterday we went to church. My friend David is one of the Pastors at Morningstar church in Salem. One of the lead pastors gave the sermon from Deuteronomy chapter 8. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a sermon which contextualised Deuteronomy so well before. Pastor Ken explained that Moses is reminding the Israelites of the covenant that God made with them and of his continued faithfulness to keep his promises by blessing them and taking care of them, even though the Israelites have complained and gone against him many times.

And there I thought Deuteronomy was boring! Turns out all I needed was the context. Moses knew he would die before the Israelites got to enter the promised land but he needed to remind them of what God had done, because they had a tendency to forget.

I have a tendency to forget. Yesterday afternoon during the kids’ rest time I sat and read through the first half of Deuteronomy and was amazed at what I read. It was like reading it for the first time.

While the sermon yesterday was mainly about giving thanks to God for financial provision (the church is working through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University right now) it really made me think about all the ways that God has provided for me in my life…things that I too easily forget because I let life get in the way.

I want to cultivate a thankful attitude, and acacknowledge ALL that God does, and has done.

Practical ways I’ll be doing this to follow in another post

-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-

On the quest for physical fitness…!

I have been in actual physical pain since my first induction at the gym on Monday. I really think my trainer nearly killed me!

It was quite fun whilst I was there, but stupidly I didn’t do a cool-down as I had to leave to get on the motorway before lunchtime. I’ve paid for that error MANY times over…I feel like I’ve had a hot water bottle permanently attached to me for the past few days to ease my muscle aches.

Today isn’t too bad though, I can actually lift my cup of tea without aching.

My trainer did my measurements and fitness tests, and I managed 10 press-ups in 2 minutes (impressive considering I have zero upper arm strength) and 15 sit-ups in 2 minutes. My target for my first review (4-6 weeks time) is 15 press-ups and 20 sit-ups.

I was pretty chuffed though as my lung capacity is 99%. I was pretty wheezy that day so that’s quite impressive. My lung ‘age’ is 24, which my trainer was pleased about.

She gave me a routine to follow each time I go to the gym, which hopefully will be twice a week – once on Mondays and one evening. None of the classes are ‘grabbing me’ yet, but we’ll see.

I was quite surprised that I really enjoyed my workout on Monday, it was fun to push myself and have a little challenge. I don’t remember enjoying it as much when I was younger, though I must have because I went regularly.

I even like the staff, because they don’t seem like the stereotypical, primped and perfect, super-enthusiastic gym bunnies. The three I’ve met so far are all pretty ordinary! Of course, they are probably super-fit and could run circles round me, but that’s ok.

My workout consists of:

1500m on the rower, working on beating my own timings (8m5s on Monday),

10 minutes on the X-trainer,

5 minutes on the stepper (I’ve done steppers before, but this one is the weirdest contraption I’ve ever seen!)

5 minutes on another weird contraption whose name I don’t know (you kind of sit like you’re on a bike, and pump your legs to keep the weights between certain markers?!)

then 10 minutes on the treadmill, alternating between walking and jogging as my “cool-down”.

My trainer put down time on the treadmill and the rower, even though I hate them, because they are good for cardio and all-round fitness…but she did leave off the main weights for me, since she don’t think someone whose upper arms measure 23cm would cope. Maybe when I’m a little stronger…

Not quite like this, though!

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