this is my week

My sister Abigail wqs admitted to hospital yesterday to have her next (and hopefully final) cancer treatment; radio iodine therapy. Fortunately she is due home tonight tomorrow as she has been in isolation since 4pm yesterday and I don’t like it. We can see her for 60 minutes each per day but as she is radioactive we have to wear the full gear you can see in the photo. Cap, face mask, apron, gloves and shoe covers. It’s boiling and uncomfortable but worth it to see Abigail.

So glad she’s due out tomorrow. All being well she will be discharged from the service by Christmas! Cancer free!

-x-

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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-

Acts of kindness

Since I last posted, I have been thinking a lot about friendship and now I show people that they are important to me. As I said then, while I have no control over how my friends act, I can control my own actions.

As such, I decided to make a genuine effort to be more kind to people I care about…which has manifested itself in the following ways:

– leaving a note on my housemate’s bathroom mirror for her last day of school before half term:

– buying flowers for a friend who had a bad week

– visiting a poorly friend and taking her favourite Starbucks … including asking them to double up on the cups, and *stealing* some coffee-collars and straws so that she can have the Starbucks experience at home– taking dinner and emergency groceries to a different poorly friend (and also loaning her my un-opened Season 5 of Big Bang Theory)

– swapping a creche serving date, to help someone out

– buying a case of Long Life milk as part of my grocery shopping, to donate to the local foodback

Doing little, nice things for people has really boosted my outlook this week…I’ve found myself looking for ways to make people feel loved or encouraged. I even let a little old couple queue jump at Morrisons’ today, despite us having pretty much the same number of items.

I’m feeling quite upbeat at the moment – helped by the fact that it’s November now and it is a) no longer quite so grey and miserable outside and b)  I can legitimately count down to Christmas…not that I haven’t been preparing for the last month or so!! But that’s another blog post.

And so… the moral of this post is; “let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:18)

-x-

 

Wisdom of a friend

We’re gonna get real tonight, people. I’ve been inspired by my wonderful friend and sister-in-Christ, Rachel. Check out what she says about friendship here.

Yesterday, I met with my church Small Group; an amazing group of people – all ages, men and women, and we talked about Loneliness – the subject of our church’s most recent sermon. Listen here. We talked about the importance of real connections with people.

Friendship is so important to me. I crave real connections, for people to know me and want to invest in me. At the same time, I can draw within myself if I think that people are getting too close, too quickly.

(I have issues, folks, did you not know?!)

Seriously though, at the end of our time together I asked my Small Group to pray for me, because for a few months now I have been struggling in a friendship that feels very uneven. I love this person, and have known them for a long time. They know me really well too. But lately, I have felt like I am the one who always makes the effort and my friend doesn’t respond or give anything back.

It has been really difficult for me. At times I’ve felt like a young girl again, reminded of when friends suddenly decided they didn’t want to be my friend anymore, and I had no idea why (I still don’t, actually). I’ve wondered if I have done anything to upset this friend, or given them a reason to not want to be around me. I know I am probably not the easiest person, all of the time, but even with a lot of soul searching I couldn’t think of something that I had done.

This is an issue I have struggled with ever since my very first “best friend” when I was about five; in so many close friendships I have felt like I invested more in the friendship than the other person. My own insecurities meant that I never completely trusted that the other person wanted my friendship, and I felt like I had to really work at it, rather than just accepting a good thing! I’ve really had to give this over to God; accept His love first…and trust wholly that He chose me.

Knowing my identity is in Christ has really changed my viewpoint about friendships, but I still find it hard at times. In this situation, when I had no reason for why this friend seemed withdrawn from me, instead of raising it with her and discussing it like an adult, sister-to-sister, I became quite bitter in my heart about my friend. I found it incredibly difficult to talk well of her, and not complain about it at every chance I got.

As I talked with my Small Group, I realised that while it upsets me that the friendship is uneven, I have no control over how my friend acts. I could speak to her about it, but I don’t believe she has done this intentionally. Her life’s priorities are different to mine and I need to accept that, lovingly.

I have control over my own actions and thoughts, and I realised that they are not Godly or loving towards my friend.

I got my feelings hurt, and I found it hard to forgive because my friend did not apologise for hurting me (though she shouldn’t need to) and that unforgiveness bred bitterness towards my friend.

In case you weren’t aware, bitterness is a bad thing. A very bad thing. It is damaging to my heart and soul, because it roots deep down inside you and twists everything. It encourages you to see yourself as a victim, and see the world and others as the enemy. Ultimately, it hurts you.

Bad, bad, bad.

So my friends prayed for me. And I am working on confronting my bitterness and trusting God that this friendship is still worth my heart’s efforts even if there may not be an equal response.

I have to say, I am very thankful for the friendships that I have. I have so many people around me who I can turn to – when my heart is willing and I feel bold enough to reach out. As my friend Rachel has said in her blog, quoting someone; every Christian needs a Paul, a Barnabas, and a Timothy…

“A Paul is a mentor like friend that can teach you, encourage growth in you, and a godly person that you admire and aspire to be like. A Barnabas is a friend that is in the same place as you, so you can walk through life together, encouraging and sharpening each other in the Lord. A Timothy is a person that you pour yourself into, walk along side and can actively support and encourage in their walk.

This is how God made us, not just to receive but to give”

I know that I have each of these, and that means I am truly blessed

-x-

Day 25: my best friends

Well, this is a difficult one since I don’t know which of my friends would be comfortable with me talking about them on here. So I’m going to twist the subject a little and talk about my best friends from my childhood…

My first best friend was a girl called Roisin (Rosheen) who I went to ballet with. We were about three or four, and we bonded because we both had sleeveless red leotards with a little frill, while all the other girls had regular pink ones. They tried to make fun of us for being different, but we knew we were really the cool ones. Nothing to do with the fact that we were both teeny tiny and they didn’t have pink leotards small enough to fit us.

When I started primary school my best friend for a few years was another girl called Roisin. She and her little sister had the best collection of Sylvanian families’ toys (my favourite was the canal boat)

Other things I remember about Roisin are: she had a trundle bed, she was a Catholic (the one and only Catholic service I’ve been to was her first Holy Communion…I spent most of the time watching people cross themselves and trying to work out why they did it), and she lived next to a family who had a baby a year, and only one of them was a girl in the time we knew them.

Roisin and I stopped being friends when we were in year 3, because we were put in different classes. She became best friends with our friend Megan, and I got closer with my friend Monique.

Monique was a twin, and she had a little sister. Her dad was white and her mum was black, and they were foster parents to a boy who was in our school year. We stopped being best friends in year 5, when we were moved in different classes. I saw Monique’s mum when I was about 18, and getting ready to go to Uni. I told her I was studying social work, and she told me that Monique was going to study it too! Small world.

In Year 5, I became friendly with Jennie and Rebecca. Jennie and I had been at nursery together, and Rebecca was her best friend all the way through primary school. Rebecca’s mum was deaf, and her grandparents helped to take care of her sometimes. She and her mum got a dog called Meg, a little spaniel who was adorable! Jennie, Rebecca and I were a good three, we got on really well. The summer after year 5 we spent in and out of each others’ houses, going on bike rides and climbing trees…

Yes, I know it sounds like something from Enid Blyton but we actually did it!

But then I moved schools to go into Year 6 and from then on life got complicated!

That’s a story for another day though.

-x-

And then I moved school

Note to self…

Never, ever, EVER read the blog of someone you used to know.

It will make you want to kill yourself.

I know that none of the things that she says about me are true. Even at my worst, I was never the person that she describes.

I know it’s only words.

Except it’s not.

Her words articulate her emotions…and she was always very eloquent, so her emotions are vividly described.

The fact that she perceives six years of relationship in such a way, has such a clear hatred of me, blames me for a lot of her problems… well it’s enough to reduce me to tears and make me really want to revisit my old ways.

I’m NOT going there. I won’t. She does not have the power to make me feel that way.

Except that she does. Still.

Right now all I can do is cling onto God.

He knows that I’m not who she says. He knows my heart.

Right now, He is all that matters.

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