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-

 

 

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Why yes, I am still alive

I don’t seem to have the hang of this blogging regularly thing, do I? Looking back through my “recent” posts, it’s a bit shameful that all I’ve done is post briefly captioned photos.

At least it’s proof I am still actually alive. And to be honest I have been thinking about blogging, and meaning to post updates – but life has just been the absolute definition of insane!

So here’s a bullet-point update of my life, as is, right now.

Work:
Busy as busy can be. Our Ofsted inspection did not have the outcome we had hoped for, but one positive is that the inspector has recommended I am trained up and promoted to Deputy Manager. Unfortunately this came too late for me to enrol in the 13/14 intake, but next September I will be enrolled on an NVQ Level 5 Leadership and Management in Health and Social Care Services course at the local HE college. Yay for further education, yay for new challenges. Yay for 10 months to brush up so I feel ready for this!

Day to day work is busy, but that seems to be the status quo right now. We’ve just got to roll with it. I am praying lots to get through the day.

Home:
I have decorated my house for Christmas and it looks BEAUTIFUL! Pictures to follow in a separate Christmassy post. My family are coming to stay at Christmas and I cannot wait to have them all here.

Family:
My sister is cancer-free!!! Hooray hooray hooray!! She had her radio-iodine treatment 20th-22nd November, and on 22nd November had a scan which showed no sign of cancer at all. We are all so pleased and relieved and thankful. She still has a recovery – to adjust to not having a thyroid and keeping her thyroxine and calcium levels stable (with medication) but she is doing brilliantly. Our family gets a cancer-free start to 2014 🙂

General:
In general I am well and happy. Currently a bit stressed over work issues and a minor car bump that happened on Saturday, but it’s in the hands of insurers and the important thing is no-one was hurt. Hard to sustain injury at barely 1mph, isn’t it?!

I have an “exciting” appointment with my dentist tomorrow as my wisdom tooth has been playing up for 2 weeks and I’m getting frustrated. It’s really painful, but I don’t know if it’s normal pain or “there’s a problem” pain. So I’m getting it checked out. Last time I went to the dentist I got my first ever filling and I was mortified. It wasn’t even to fill a hole, just to cover where my tooth had gotten sensitive but I still could have cried.

And that’s about it, my life in a condensed version. Life is dominated by work, if I’m not working I am with my friends, or at church, or at the gym.

If none of the above, I can usually be found sleeping. I love my bed and my bed loves me.

Hopefully more regular updates will resume now/shortly but for now, please don’t give up on me!

-x-

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.

 

Could I possibly be more tired?!

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Tired puppy has nothing on me

I am so unbelievably tired of this week…of this fortnight, actually. Now that I am feeling a bit better, I realise just how sick I was last week. I still have a stuffy nose and nasty cough which feels like it’s rattling my brain, and gets worse throughout the day (it’s like my lungs get tired of working or something lame like that) I also seem to be temporarily deaf in my right ear so I get worried that I am shouting at everyone because I can’t hear them.

The sad thing is, even with a three day Bank Holiday weekend (where I spent pretty much the whole of Saturday in bed, and did virtually nothing on Monday) I still feel completely wrecked. Like I could do with a couple of days’ extra sleep. I was hoping to have a restful weekend this weekend, and celebrate my birthday on Sunday with friends and peace and quiet, but I have to supervise a contact on Saturday afternoon, I am on-call after probably the most horrifically contentious and busy fortnight of my career so far, and I can’t have Monday off because I have another big paperwork deadline which has crept up on me due to the aforementioned business [and sickness – which I am sure is connected] of the past two weeks.

(I do have Friday booked off…apart from 3 hours or so in the middle of the day where I have a meeting…but Friday seems such a long way away)

Despite being so tired, last night I had an unbelievable case of insomnia which resulted in me getting up at 1am and watching Gilmore Girls on DVD until I felt vaguely sleepy. Which wasn’t until 3.30am.

And then…I woke up this morning and checked my phone…and saw it was 8.19am! I usually get up at 7!! Cue major panics, no bath, getting dressed in about 3 minutes, shoving my hair in a messy ponytail and grabbing a banana for lunch. I got from bed (asleep) to my colleague’s car in 6 minutes flat.

But why was my colleague was picking me up for work, I hear you ask?! Well, because…as if being sick, and overworked, and tired, was not enough –

Yesterday my gearstick broke, while I was driving on one of the busiest roundabouts in Canterbury, during rush hour!!!

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I just couldn’t believe it. Only a few weeks ago I was talking to my mum and saying I was saving up to get my car serviced and sorted out – and I said that as long as it didn’t conk out in the meantime (because I have no money until the end of this month as a result of paying off my moving costs) everything would be fine. So what does my car go and do…?!

But do you know what? I am not freaking out. Actually, more to the point – I am CHOOSING not to freak out.

It would be so easy to curl up in a ball on my living room floor (or potentially in my bed which is cosier and slightly less like a psychotic break) and cry and moan and rant and demand to know why God hates me and why my life sucks and why things are so hard…and I’m not saying I didn’t nearly have a little weep about it all…but:

I am choosing to trust God; my God who loves me, and is in control, and only does good things in my life, and never gives me more than I can handle, and who doesn’t let me down – ever, and who provides everything I will ever need, and who protects me, and who knows exactly how this will all work out.

Did you know that one of the most frequent commands in the Bible is to “FEAR NOT” ?

There is no point in me worrying … because God has it all in hand. He has ME and my life in hand.

Matthew 6: 25 – 34 … Do Not Be Anxious

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow.”

 

It will all be ok…because God loves me and my hope is in Him.

-x-

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-

A traumatic week

Last week was full of antics, and mostly ‘not-good’ ones :S

On Monday I drove back from Devon to Canterbury, after a restful yet busy week of annual leave. It took about six hours to get back, so I was pretty tired and decided to have an early night at 9.20pm. Just over an hour later, my work phone rang…the joys of being Social Worker On-Call. To cut a long (confidential) story short, I ended up having to attend at a foster carers’ home at 11pm and didn’t get home until almost 1am.

The next day I went into work and got caught up on all the shenanigans of the previous week, before heading out on a home visit and then to collect a young person to take him to a local police station to be questioned after he had assaulted someone. It was my first time in the deepest, darkest recesses of a police station. It was not his first.

After three hours in the station I returned said young person to his foster carers, and eventually got to my friends’ house for dinner about 7pm (an hour late, thank God for friends who feed me, and are also forgiving). I thought I’d be hopeful and get another early night around 9.30pm, but shortly after 11 my phone rang…this time a different young person had not returned home by curfew and consequently had to be reported missing to the police, me and social services. She then turned up about half an hour later.

And so it went on…meetings, phone calls, a rushed visit to the gym and generally lots of busy-ness and organised chaos.The weekend fared marginally better, I had a quite peaceful Saturday – cleaning the house, reading, catching up on life, but with regular updates from one of my foster carers about her foster daughter. I can’t say on here what it was about, but it was very confusing and no-one seems to know what really happened!

Saturday night was great though, I went to my friend Emma’s (she lives across the complex from me) and we ate pizza and chatted, and watched Outnumbered. I felt loved and peaceful and it was what I needed.

Sunday was my first October Sunday at City, as I was away for two weekends, and apart from a weird moment where mistaken identity meant a lady ‘told me off’ for missing creche duty (she thought I was someone else, and that someone else had not turned up) it was lovely to be back. We heard an awesome preach from our lead elder and I only had one work phone call during the service which is an improvement from the last time I was on call when I had three.

And so, there I was on Sunday night, feeling pretty drawn out and looking forward to some gentle Downton time to soothe me after my hectic and mental week.

BUT THEN

I am still absolutely furious with the writers of Downton Abbey for killing off Lady Sybil. With absolutely no word of a lie, I woke up this morning and felt like I was grieving for an actual friend. It felt so real, and it is so unjust. Of course, like everything Downton it was incredibly well-written and acted, but that’s not the point! It’s just so unfair, I feel like nothing good can happen for the rest of the series now. As if it wasn’t enough that poor Lady Edith got jilted at the altar, now they have lost Sybil too. I described the episode to my housemate and used the word HORRIFIC about five times.

so there we have it, ladies and gentlemen of the blogosphere. I am outraged and heartbroken over a TV programme. But so are many millions of other women, so I don’t feel too much of a sad-case/lunatic declaring it to the world.

-x-