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-

I’m still here

Still here…but pretty exhausted.  It’s been a very long week and a half.  Work has gone insane again,  on top of everything with my sister,  so I have worked late twice this week. 

I’m not really sleeping…it takes a long time to get off to sleep and I wake up early…but I’m doing ok.

In other news,  my manager had a baby yesterday! A lovely little girl. And that has made me smile. 

-x-

 

Flying away

Today I’m leaving to go back home to the UK. In total I’m travelling for about 28 hours…on three planes.

Flight one: Portland to Phoenix, arriving at 10.30pm
Flight two: Phoenix to Charlotte, leaving at 630am (yes I will be in Phoenix airport overnight) arriving at 130pm
Flight three: Charlotte to London, leaving at 630pm and arriving at 620am on SATURDAY morning.

I am going to be so tired and jetlagged and its worse because I just don’t want to leave. I feel like it takes me a week to settle in and then the next week goes too quickly 😦 this is the hardest it has been to leave. It makes me so sad to think about not hearing the kids when I wake up in the morning, not having late night talks with Rachel…it all just makes me super sad and miserable.

I know I have people who love me back home in Canterbury and when I’m there it will be great but for now, I’m just sad to leave. Sad.

-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-

Sad / Glad

Sad:

feeling like I am banging my head against a brick wall with some work stuff, and being left wondering where all the common sense has gone.

Glad:

I booked my flights to the US – March 7-21 I am going to be in Salem, Oregon with some of the best people I know!

Sad:

earlier this month it was 3 years since my Nana died, and remembering it was made worse because of the hideousness that surrounded her funeral. I miss her so much and I hate that when I think of her, I think of that awful day.

Glad:

I have joined the smartphone revolution, finally. I now have a Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini (blue) – yes, somehow I have managed to get one of the newest phones on the market, for a super-awesome tariff. My phone is pretty and I love it. The best thing is that it has a camera so I can take more photos in the States. (Yes, my old phone was so old it didn’t have a camera!)

Sad:

I don’t get to see my Dad until the summer

Glad:

My dad and I had a little Facebook message chat today, for the first time in over a year. Small steps accomplish big journeys

Sad:

I lost the pretty part “S” of one of the drop earrings my brother got me for Christmas. It broke in in Morrisons (so it is long-gone) and haven’t been able to find a replacement

Glad:

Sunday morning at church was AMAZING and we began a new sermon series on James, which I think is my favourite book of the Bible now. I’m very excited to be studying further into James and learn more about being ‘steadfast’ in the Lord

Sad:

my sister is very poorly and might have glandular fever 😦

Glad: I have a long weekend booked next week (Thursday and Friday off!) so am going home to see the family, and my brother is probably coming home for the weekend too! 3/4 siblings will be together for the first time since June ’12.

Altogether, there are some UPs and DOWNs in my life at the moment. The UPs are nice, the DOWNs are dismal, but through it all God is faithful 🙂

Psalm 89:1
“I will sing of the LORD’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.”

Shouldering disappointment

I had great plans for this weekend. My Dad, stepmum and littlest sister (who is 3) were going to come and visit me & my brother, from Friday to Monday. It’s been planned since before Christmas, because my dad had to stay in Afghanistan and work until 28th December and I had to come back to Canterbury that day so we weren’t able to cross paths. I didn’t get to see Michelle and Jessica and my younger brother Callum because they spent Christmas at Lapland – rather than be at home without my Dad.

However, as you may have guessed from the title of this post, I am feeling very disappointed right now because they aren’t here. It’s for a completely valid reason – my Gran (Dad’s mum) is very unwell and in hospital, in Intensive Care. So they are staying in Plymouth to be near her.

Even though it’s for a genuine reason, I still feel so disappointed. I was so excited for them to visit. They’ve only been to Canterbury once in the five years I have lived here – for my graduation. It is, for a variety of reasons, easier for me to visit them in Plymouth rather than them come up here. So the prospect of seeing them up here for a whole weekend; just them and me and my brother, doing fun things, was so exciting. I had plans – to go to the zoo with Jess and see all the animals, to take them to church, to do a big ‘Christmas’ lunch and open presents.

And, none of it’s happening. And, I feel devastated. I feel so selfish, because my Gran is very poorly and my over-riding reaction is to feel sorry for myself. Well, not sorry for myself. I don’t really know how to describe it

I’m disappointed. And it’s challenging me. The way the whole thing is being handled is hurting me too. I’ve really had to turn to God this week. My family relationships are fragile at the best of times and this has just brought up an awful lot of things I’d rather just keep buried. (Remember, I’m an ostrich) When it comes to things involving my Dad’s side of the family, the best thing is to say nothing at all – it gets far too complicated and I’m the one who suffers. But once again, I feel like I’ve been kicked in the stomach, bruised.

Thankfully God is merciful and good to me, always. He is constantly with me and takes care of me.

Psalm 73:23-26
“Nevertheless I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Even when I feel bad – so bad – I have God. An awesome God, who has given me wonderful friends who have become a surrogate family to me. Despite the disappointment, I’ve had a good weekend so far. Not what I had planned, so everything still feels a little bit tinged with regret, but tramping through the muddy and wet Canterbury countryside, watching Les Mis with seven friends, and now chilling out eating Pizza and watching Take Me Out with the girls is an acceptable Second Best.

-x-

Just a little bit…meh

Where has my lovely, happy, chirpy mood gone? I was ever so contented last week…there was so much to enjoy!

I kicked off the week with a whole day of Disney movies & crafts with my friend Karen, which was great…then on Tuesday and Wednesday I had free evenings so after work I went to the gym (which was actually a bit of a mistake on the Wednesday evening because I had physio that morning and I think I undid some of the work…) and then chilled out at home, doing more crafty things and watching The Paradise on iPlayer (I have to say, The Paradise is the most gorgeous progamme I have seen in a long time…I’ve loved it and watched all 7 episodes over the space of a few days)

Anyway…where was I? On Thursday we had our Small Group Firework Night social – I headed to Jonnie and Kate’s straight after work and we had hot dogs and a bonfire and FIREWORKS!! Which I loved 🙂 And then on Friday I went to the gym again after work and came home to chill out and had a proper early night…

and then Saturday came along and punched me in the face 😦

Who knows what happened between going to bed (perfectly fine) on Friday night, and waking up (as Grumpy McGrumperson) on Saturday…but I did.

I tried staying in bed a couple hours longer, and actually managed so sleep in until 10am…but when I got up I just could not shake the grumps, and then came the anxiety because I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me and I don’t like that feeling. I could feel that I was just working myself up into a tizzy so I went out for a few hours – pottered around The Range, picked up a parcel and did a few other errands…but the whole day I just felt like crawling into bed and sleeping it off.

I didn’t though…I stuck it out til 5 and then went to our Work Bonfire & Firework Party which actually turned out to be alright and I perked up a bit, but then it finished around 7 and I came home to the flat and just felt so rubbish for the rest of the evening that I went to bed as soon as I could.

Sunday, fortunately, was better than Saturday but I still felt pretty miserable. Which was horrible because I was going for lunch with some friends from church – they were lovely, and it was lovely, and I perked up again but just …

Yes. It’s just been a little bit rough…but for no real reason. It just is. Hopefully this week will be better – today has been so/so…I went to a Safeguarding (training) Conference today instead of my usual day off and while it was a little bit boring, I think it was actually good timing because I probably couldn’t have managed another day dominated by my own company.

I have some good things in the next week – Rosie and I are going to see Chicago which will be super because I haven’t seen her in a while, and then on Friday I’m driving home to see my family for a long weekend. I’ve got Friday-Tuesday off, and my middle sister & her fiance are coming home as well to do wedding stuff. I get to try on bridesmaids dresses!

So in summary…I just don’t know what happened on Saturday but I’m trying not to let it drag into this week and spoil the nice stuff I’ve got planned.

-x-

 

 

The colour Grey

October has been a grey and dreary month. I am missing the summer…so badly. The past few weeks, it has felt as if Canterbury is just one big wet cloud…today more than ever! I can’t remember the last day that the sun shone.

(I don’t know if I’ve ever said on here, but I am pretty much glass half-empty/pessimistic kinda gal. More like Eeyore and Piglet, than Tigger and Roo, if you’re an A.A. Milne fan)

Having near constant grey and dismal-ness, epic amounts of rain, waking up and it being dark outside, and that weird temperature where if you don’t wear a coat you’re too cold, but if you do wear a coat you’re too warm…it all makes me feel a little bit inclined to curl up in my bed and hibernate until Spring.

Don’t even get me started on the fact that the clocks are changing soon so I’ll be driving to work, and driving home, in the darkness. It’ll probably rain as well.

Can you tell that it’s getting me down a bit?

I think Autumn is my least favourite season; where Summer is over but it’s too soon to really get excited about Christmas. I love it least when it’s a damp and miserable Autumn. It wouldn’t be so bad if it were just cold, it’s the constant rain!

Autumn can be beautiful…but unfortunately my current Autumn comes from a completely different colour pallet.

I shouldn’t complain so much, really. We do need the rain, and other countries pray & pray for rainfall like we get…but it’s really hard to look on the bright side of life when all you see is grey 😦

-x-

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.

-x-