Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014

Today is the first day of 2014. A new year; an exciting year. 

2013 hasn’t been the easiest year of my life – my family has dealt with cancer, and other illness, and I’ve faced challenges left,  right and centre in my personal and professional life.

But despite the seemingly negative things that happened last year (which feels strange to write as 2014 is only 22 hours old) there were many more positive and wonderful things that happened which made 2013 a pretty great year overall…

Such as, 

 

 

– I got to visit my amazing friends in America during the Spring,  and spent 2 whole weeks playing games with their children,  reading scripture and having great talks with them

 

 

– I moved into my own house; something which scared me a lot at first that has turned out to be a brilliant decision.  My house is beautiful, and peaceful,  and a real sanctuary after busy times at work. I love entertaining here and having my family stay at Christmas made this Christmas the sweetest we’ve had in many years

 

 

– my sister beat cancer!

 9 weeks after she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, during which she had a life-threatening operation and radio-iodine therapy, we were told there’s no cancer left! She is doing so well and I am so thankful to God for sustaining us through this. We had a cancer-free Christmas and Abigail is getting back to her old self.  She even has modelling work lined up for this month! 

 

– I got promoted at work…twice! Back in April I was made Senior Social Worker in our Agency,  and following our Ofsted inspection in October I have been enrolled on a management course so I can begin working as Deputy Fostering Manager!  I am excited and a bit daunted by this new challenge. My course is a Level 5 NVQ in Leadership and Management of Health and Social Care Services (Children and Youth Services) We hope that I’ll have completed the course by the end of this year. 

 

– my sister Rebecca got married to Simeon in June, and he is a delightful brother-in-law 🙂 they have 2 terms left at University and then they’ll be moving down to Plymouth again

 

…and that’s only a few of the brilliant things that have happened this year.

 

Dear 2013…

You have been a good year,  and I thank God for the blessings – the fun, laughter,  happiness and love. I’m also thankful for the challenges; the difficult bits, because in those times I have been able to rely on God to keep hold of me and comfort me. 

 

Thank you,  2013, for being lovely. I pray 2014 is full of wonderful things too

 

-x-

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today I felt good

I’m posting a “selfie” today…not because it is the official ‘word of the year’ according to the Oxford English Dictionary (who may have actually lost their minds)…but because today I felt very good about myself, and I wanted to post it for’posterity’ so that on days when I don’t feel so good, I will remember.

Also I got my hair cut today and have a week off from work which may or may not have something to do with this sudden joy.

Day 3/5 of Ofsted – or – I am BLESSED

I have been a social worker for 3 years now. I was with the Agency where I am now employed as a student for a year before I qualified. So that makes 4 years of fostering experience. There have been many times in those four years where I thought “surely this [incident/event/situation] is as stressful as it’s going to get. Once I’ve got through this, it’ll be a piece of cake…”

And then Ofsted came.

Having every teeny part of my work – our Agency’s work – scrutinised, is exhausting. I think I’ve spent about 15 hours with the inspector over the past 3 days.

Last night on the way home I prayed for today’s meetings with the inspector, that God would give me wisdom and peace in it all, that our staff morale would boost (scrutiny is stressful) …and then I remembered something…

My salvation is not affected by this inspection

Jesus died for me. His opinion of me is never going to change.

Irrespective of what this inspector says about the agency I work for, or even about me specifically (good or bad) I am saved. This is what God says about me:

I am a child of God.
But to all who have received him–those who believe in his name–he has given the right to become God’s children … (John 1:12).

I am a friend of Jesus.
But I have called you friends, because I have revealed to you everything I heard from my Father (John 15:15).

I have been justified and redeemed
But they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:24).

The Holy Spirit dwells in me…
Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you (1 Corinthians 6:19)?

…and helps me.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my [Jesus] name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

I am BLESSED
…our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).

And so, in conclusion – for now…

Yes, Ofsted is very scary and intimidating and exhausting and time-consuming and emotional and I don’t really like it…

I know that I am blessed…and it will be okay.

 

An evening in

Today was my first real Saturday in my house. Last weekend my mum was here and the weekend before my army of friends was helping me to move in. I was a little worried I’d go stir crazy by myself but I’ve actually had a grand day.

Granted I did see one friend and his girls as I discovered I’m too short to change the battery in my smoke alarm and it was going off all through the night last night. But that was just a short visit.

For the rest of the day I entertained myself! I went to the gym (and in the process discovered there is no quick way to walk there) and the library (2 new books!) And after lunch went to aldi to get some groceries.

My friend Karen is coming to afternoon tea tomorrow so after my aldi trip I made a cake. After all that I planned on sitting down with a cuppa and watching Grease 2…

However…I then got a sewing urge. 4 hours later I have made 2 skirts. The first was a bit of a flop as I followed the measurements on the pattern I found on Pinterest which were WRONG! But the second I did without a pattern, just making it up as I went along and I have to say I’m chuffed with the result!

You can’t tell but the fabric is actually a bedsheet that I got on sale. I think it’s a pretty pattern. It has 2 darts at the front to give it shape, french seams (cos I learned how to do them after watching The Great British Sewing Bee) and a zip at the back.

Yay me!! Another few Saturday evenings like this and I’ll have a whole new wardrobe!

Hope your Saturday was lovely too
-x-

May

May has arrived, and brought Spring with it. I am so happy to have sunshine and blue skies back in my life! My new house is across the street from a church, which has beautiful trees in the churchyard, and out the back of my house just beyond my garden is another one. In just a week it’s gone from barely green to bright and lovely. No matter where I am in the house, if I look out the window there’s a tree. And we all know I love trees 🙂

I can’t believe I’ve only been in my little house for a week. It has felt like home since day one. This weekend my Mum has been to visit, since it’s a long Bank Holiday weekend. We’ve been very busy – we went shopping, and to an interactive exhibition by the Philharmonic Orchestra at my University, we went out for tea and pastries, and tea and cake, and dinner with my brother and his girlfriend, we read books, we went to church and to the garden centre, and to Dunelm Mill where we bought a rug and curtain for the house, and then to lots of shops to buy plants for the garden – we did all sorts! Lots of little adventures that mean nothing to most people but oh-so-much to me.

I am so tired now…Mum left a few hours ago to drive back to Plymouth and I have just crashed out on the sofa.

It was so lovely to have her here. I love spending time 1-1 with my mum. Yesterday and this morning we cleared my garden and planted things. We pulled down so much Ivy that 2 bricks came out of the dividing wall and I got a little scared. I mean, I like my neighbours (a couple I know from church) but I don’t really want to share a garden…or lose my security deposit. So we left some of the Ivy there and just tidied up around it.

Tonight I am going to see Olympus Has Fallen with a bunch of people from church. There is a cinema about half an hour away called the Carlton, and it is the most delightfully quaint cinema I have ever been in. It reminds me of the very old Odeon that used to be in Plymouth City Centre. My dad would take us there to watch Disney movies and other kids films. We saw Mighty Joe Young there, and it was the first film to make me cry.

The best thing about the Carlton is that it’s only £2.50 on a weeknight! It’s £3.50 on weekends and for an extra £1 any day you can upgrade to a “lounge seat” (not that I ever have) and even though the popcorn and sweets are quite overpriced, even when I went to see Les Mis and paid the online booking fee, and bought popcorn and minstrels, I still spent less than £10. You can barely get change from a £10 note when you go to see a film at Ashford Cineworld, or Canterbury Odeon, or Westwood Vue. The Carlton has so much more in terms of character too. It’s in a very little seaside town and only has three screens, with the max seating probably being 300 people. Teeny tiny, but sweet and wonderful. I’m looking forward to it.

In the meantime, would you like to see photos of my house? Of course you would, because it’s very exciting. Except, I’m sorry – because you can’t. For some reason my laptop will not let me upload any pictures from my phone. I could upload to a new post if I used my phone but it takes so much longer to blog from a smartphone.

Oh heavens. First world problems or what.

I feel like I need a nap. I certainly need to change the load in the washing machine (it stopped 1/2 hour ago) Doing nothing for a few hours is just what I need after a very busy and full weekend of wonderful nice things with my mumma. Hooray for May.

-x-

ps. Pictures as soon as I can!

Springtime perhaps

Today it seems that spring might have sprung! At lomg last we have temperatures in double digits, blue skies and no rain! I just took a random walk along the river by my house and I even had to take off my cardi (scandalous) because it was so perfectly warm. Even the breeze was warm.

It was too nice to spend time trying to get a good photo, so no evidence apart from the fact that I feel totally blissed out and joyful! Crazy what a bit of sun can do for a girl 🙂

-x-

10…

keep-calm-10-days-left-300x300

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-