Spring time in Salem

Day 2 of my American trip…it is 53ºF today and the sun is SHINING! Yesterday we went to the grocery store and I didn’t even need a jacket, and this morning we spent a few hours at Riverfront park, playing in the sunshine. It’s so warm…hard to believe that the UK has snow forecast for next week. Off I go to enjoy the sun some more…Elijah and Hope are super into basketball right now and we’re doing lots of practice in the driveway. I suck but they don’t seem to mind!!

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Two things…

I have had two grand revelations this week…

The first is that I am awful at maths. I said in Sunday’s blog post that it was 10 days until my trip to the States. Obviously that was very wrong, because at that point it was actually 12 days to go. Now it is 8 sleeps! Maths was never my strongest point; I’m an English/History/languages girl. There’s way more flexibility and room for thinking than in maths. Clearly, I cannot even do basic counting. Never mind. We can’t all be Einstein.

The second revelation this week was much more amazing and wonderful. As I said in Sunday’s post, I am entering into a transition period where I’ll be moving, again, to a new house. I also said that I couldn’t afford to live alone…so I have had to give this situation completely over to God and trust that His plans are good. Having moved house so many times, I really liked the idea of staying in one place more than 2 years. I love my house, and it is so great to live here – but I’ve had to surrender the whole situation to God. Not easy…but worth it! I prayed about it and worked out what I felt needed for living in Canterbury to be financially viable.

What I didn’t say was that last Friday, I approached my boss and asked if it was possible to increase my hours at work, or increase my salary. I currently work 4 days a week (32) and usually work at least 8 hours “overtime” during evenings/weekends to make it to a full 40 hour week, but I take my overtime as time off in lieu. (Clear as mud, yes?) I was asking if I could work a standard 40 hour week (Monday to Friday) or stick at 32 hours but for a higher rate. I’ve not had a payrise in the 2 years I’ve worked there, but I’ve never been in a position to need one.

When I raised it with my boss, she asked if we could schedule a meeting this week to talk about it in detail. I spent the weekend NOT worrying about it, because I know that God has greater plans than anything I could ever orchestrate and that all things would work out in the end:

Romans 8:28 – And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good

The meeting with my boss took place yesterday, and the amazing thing is that she had already decided to give me a payrise…because I am being promoted!

Whoop!! I’m now Senior Social Worker at our Fostering Agency. I get to take on more responsibilities, a supervising role for our students, and the financial benefit means that I can afford to get my own place without any difficulties!! As I said to my friend Simon, I won’t be buying a yacht anytime soon and won’t suddenly have a craaazy lavish lifestyle, but I will be able to start saving and will have more financial security.

God is just so incredible. He already knew that everything would be fine; he had worked it all out but through it I learned more about trusting him and relying on him completely. There was nothing else I could do, but lean completely on him and I’ve seen, yet again, how faithful he is. What a demonstration of his love; that he gave me peace in the situation and I was able to rest knowing that He had good plans for me. He knew exactly what I needed – to be able to stay in Canterbury near my friends and my church, and to be able to have a place to call “mine” – how blessed am I to have such a powerful but gentle Father God, who cares about what my heart craves and desires.

I am still completely in awe and overwhelmed by his gracious love.

-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-

Welcome, 2013

2013

Here we have it, a brand new year.

I celebrated the coming of 2013 with my small group from Church; playing Charades and Bible Challenge, eating lots of lovely nibbles and chatting. There was lots of laughter. We turned on Jools Holland at 11.45 and watched a lot of random celebs counting down, then toasted midnight with champagne and party poppers. Then, on New Years Day (after not enough hours sleep) we met again for a fry-up brunch and a lovely long, muddy & wet country walk. When I say wet – we are talking foot deep puddles and waterlogged fields. Some of the group didn’t have wellies (and mine had a split which I discovered mid-puddle) which resulted in lots of piggy backs. Overall; a fun filled start to 2013.

I’ve never spent New Year with anyone other than family before, and the only time we have ever truly celebrated was the Millennium New Year…when I was 10. That was the year we all had flu but we had booked tickets to my village’s Big New Year Celebration and were just about well enough to go.

New Year with my family is very low-key. We don’t even plan to stay up til midnight. One year when I was 13 or 14, I got so bored that I did all my holiday homework and watched Dumbo. (Ended in my crying at the sad part and having to go to my mum for a cuddle). I think my family’s non-recognition of New Years has led me to feeling like it is a big anti-climax. Which in turn I think makes me feel a little negative about the year that is to come. However, for 2013 I am going to try not to be such a pessimist about life. So I am glad that we celebrated New Year. I feel I’ve hit the ground running.

This time last year I published a whole list of goals. A week later I published an update on my progress. And then…kind of nothing. I kept up my diary every day until April, but then I went on holiday to the US and didn’t take it up again when I got back. Some of the goals I stuck with, but not purposefully. I think I was a bit over-ambitious.

This year, 2013, I am only going to have two real goals.
1) To give thanks and with a grateful heart
2) To be content

I think this will incorporate a lot of things but I don’t want to give myself an unrealistic challenge. On top of which, my goals last year were very much physical goals or goals which were mainly to benefit me. This year’s goals are Goals for my Heart.

I wish you – my readers and followers (I still can’t believe I have either) – all the best for 2013. I hope that you find (or keep) hope, joy and peace in this coming year.

Love, Sarah -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-

 

Laughing out loud

{http://humortrain.com/}

It’s not everyday that I something makes me laugh out loud.

I’m far too self-controlled – or I just take life and myself far too seriously.

However, that little picture just gave me about 3 minutes of proper laughing out loud, so I thought I had to post it!

-x-

Why I like my life

I have missed blogging over these last two weeks so thought I’d get online and post a quick update to let anyone who is interested know that I am baaaaack in the UK, and currently resisting jetlag.

Urgh. Nothing like extreme tiredness, headache, nausea and not knowing where the heck I am (or what day/time it is) to round off what was actually the sweetest, most restful and wonderful holiday I could have asked for.

God blessed me so much in these last two weeks. I needed to be away – away from work and family and church, I needed a chance to get my head together and not feel like such a basket case – and the time spent with my friends in Oregon allowed me to completely rest in His presence and see Him at work.

Calling it restful might sound crazy, since my friends have four kids (8, 6, nearly 5 and 18 months) and consequently there are school runs and snack times and owies and all the other family stuff but I needed the change of pace and to take several steps back from my life – consider it, evaluate it and ask God what He wants for me and whether I am living as He desires.

Good news is, I remembered why I like my life.

God has done great things and His purposes for me are so amazing that I cannot even imagine them! He has brought me out of some awful, devastating situations, and restores my soul. I am a new creation by the power of His grace and I am stunned that He loves me.

In a few days when I am feeling a little more human I’ll post a proper “vacation” blog, with photos and maybe even video – but that can wait a while. I have some praising to do!

-x-