What is life, and what do I want from it?

Do you ever feel that you are just ‘plodding’ on in life? That things are ok … nothing to complain about… that you’re “happy enough, I guess” but you feel that you are lacking the ‘WOW’ factor ? That’s how I’ve felt for a while. Quite a while, actually.

I can’t see the path that I’m on and I have no idea what I am “doing” with my life. I know that I’m not ‘entitled’ to see the path that God has for me… that He makes the plans, not me. I know that God’s plan is better than any plan I would ever make. I just wish He’d give me a hint once in a while, and let me know what way to go.

Many-Paths-To-Take

I’ve really been seeking in this lately. I had a long talk with my discipler a few weeks ago, and we thought about why I feel so aimless. I think partly it’s because my life now doesn’t match up to the expectations that I had for myself when I was younger, and in comparison with others around my age, I feel a bit inadequate.

I turn 28 in 2 months. (2 months minus 2 days actually)  If you had asked me 10 years ago, aged almost 18, where I would be now, in April 2017, here’s what I’d have said:

qualified social worker, happy in my job, owning my own home, married, probably with at least one child

Well…I have one of those things ticked off, since I qualified as a social worker almost 7 years ago. I’m still pretty pleased with my accomplishment, although 7 years post-qualified doesn’t feel all that much progression from 1 year post-qualified, and doesn’t get any more recognition from my current employer

It’s clear to me that life now is not what I thought it would be.

Job: I’m *ok* with my job but it would be hard to say I’m happy. I had a bad few weeks in March and spontaneously applied for another job…in Plymouth. When the interview offer came, I realised I didn’t want to move back home, but I am open to looking for another job where I might feel more stretched, or challenged, or at least valued – which I don’t always. Don’t get me wrong, compared to my old job I’m positively ecstatic and I’m in no way dismissing the great gift that God gave me by rescuing me from my old place and moving me here… but over the past few months it all seems ‘samey’ and I don’t like ‘samey’. I like challenge and new and feeling that I am making a difference.

  • I am doing something about this though (this is not purely a moany post, don’t worry) I am waiting on a date with our Head of training and development to talk about further training options that I can take up, since I’m a big geek and like to learn and pass on what I’ve learned

Home: I love my home. I have a very lovely housemate. I have almost abandoned the hope of owning my own place. I am a working professional with a steady job, but house prices are so high that even with a very healthy savings account there is no way I will be able to afford to buy. Even if I were to scrimp and save even more (I save the equivalent of my monthly rent and utilities bills every month, but still have plenty of money left for treats and luxuries and holidays etc…for point of reference) it would probably still not be enough since house prices just keep going up!

I feel content with this, now. I realised that I was working towards owning my own home because that’s what people my age do. The main difference was that either most people my age, who were buying houses, were married (therefore 2 incomes, therefore less financial strain and slightly better chance at affording local houses) or had parents who could help with deposits (or sometimes both)

Since I’m single, and since I don’t have any wealthy (or even ‘well off’) relatives waiting in the wings to give me all their money, and since actually I don’t want the responsibility of having to pay for boiler services and roof leaks and broken pipes and blah blah blah, I have decided that it is actually completely practical and completely acceptable to be renting……. although it took a long time to decide that since it’s not what people my age do!

Marriage and children: … no ring on this finger…no current prospect of one. Does that mean I’m a failure?! Um. NO. It doesn’t mean that I’m putting my life on hold and sitting like a Disney Princess waiting for my Prince to come, and it doesn’t mean I’m out there on every dating website and desperate for a man (nothing against dating sites, just not for me)

I’m living life as it is…and open to a relationship if I meet the right person…but it hasn’t happened yet and comparing my singleness with friends who were married, with one or more kids, when they were my age, is not helpful.

comparison-is-the-thief-of-joy-black-and-white-watercolor-canvas

So, going back to my original point. Life is OK. I have a busy life and activities all over the place … dance class and choir on Mondays, Pilates on Tuesdays, Yoga on Wednesdays, Small Group on Thursdays, Yoga on Fridays, rest on Saturdays, and church on Sundays. Also, I crochet, I binge-watch Netflix, I read, I am exploring my family history, I help my friends in their garden renovation project, I practice self care and get regular massages, I go for brunch and afternoon tea, and I go to the cinema with friends (we loved Beauty and the Beast).

I’m busy and happy…but I still feel a bit purposeless…and it feels that I’m often just finding activities that fill my time up so that a) I’m not bored and b) to exhaust me so that I don’t get attacked by my insomnia [but that’s a post for another day]

Recently I asked my small group to pray for me, about this feeling of purposeless…and one person had a picture of me carrying a tablecloth, all bundled up, with lots of things in it… like this I think:

hobostick4

(who knew this was called a ‘hobo stick’?! Not me, but it seems appropriate)

Anyway, he had a picture of me carrying a bundle full of things I wanted…and felt God was encouraging me to lay the bundle down, spread the tablecloth out, and take up only what I wanted from the things carried inside.

I’ve been praying about that every since, trying to identify the things I’m carrying, hoping for, wanting, and filter out whether these are things that I really want for myself, or whether I want them just because I feel I should (see above about buying a house)

Since that time though, I feel almost more purposeless because there are several things I think I want and I don’t know which of them is right. I feel like a compass with all these different things, or opportunities, in different directions and there’s no arrow pointing me to the right one!

I know that I’m not lost. Not really. There’s a poem by JRR Tolkein which goes;

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring

There’s a lot of hope in that, and in knowing that God’s plans for me are completely known to Him –

Jer-29.11-e1363787816786

Being patient and waiting for Him to lead me though….. that’s another matter!

 

 

 

-x-

 

 

 

Advertisements

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:

tumblr_mao6niNWIS1rs7hv6o1_500

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.

10494566_10154507105470122_2943193242065233875_n 10530828_10154507436035122_8308858528210976163_n

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…

tumblr_m99hb5ApIy1qc7mh1

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-

 

 

Could I possibly be more tired?!

Image
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!!!

 Image

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-

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-

Oh lovely day

Today has been a good day 🙂

It felt like a good day from the minute I woke up, and it really hasn’t disappointed!

I had a little lie-in, then got up for church and for the first time in about two weeks I didn’t have mad panics trying to work out what to wear [I’m not usually that girl but recently none of my clothes have felt right and it takes a proper old drama and tizzy to find any outfit that I’m happy with] and just wore jeans and a top that I felt comfy in. I even felt like my hair looked good – it’s been difficult these past weeks because I’m trying to grow it longer for this but it’s at that awkward place where it doesn’t want to do anything and I end up shoving it in a ponytail or bun – Not so today, I left it down and felt good about it!

I read my Bible whilst eating my breakfast, and I’m at that bit in Numbers where the donkey talks so that’s always a treat! Makes me giggle to imagine it.

After breakfast it was off to church, where I chatted to some lovely folks whilst drinking tea out of my favourite green mug (I have a little contest with a guy from church to see who gets the green mug each week – this week he had left it for me! How sweet) It really is the best mug.

I was serving in creche for the 9am service, and it was the most chilled out time we’ve ever had – 9 little ones between 3 helpers, and the cutest little kiddos. Admittedly there was a LOT of snotty-nose wiping and at one point, one of the other ladies’ had to physically hold my child’s head so I could wipe the gunk off his face…but other than that, we played and we sang and we cuddled and it was just joyous!

Because of serving in the first service, and because I wasn’t at church last week, I decided to stay for the 11 am service to hear the preach. And yay, for getting to worship at both services. It was a great service, a guy called Geoff preached about how we can evangelise to people by just telling them our own testimonies. Very encouraging and I love his preaching style.

After church I meandered around the supermarket (forgetting one of the only things I actually needed, but coming home with a melon…just because) and went to a discount store to buy fairy lights for Thursday’s shopping evening…and then I came home and watched some of the OC whilst I had lunch.

Anyone else remember how good the first season of the OC was? I simply cannot believe that it was on about a decade ago! It makes me feel so grown-up [old] when I think that I was in my early teens when I watched it. But it was oh-so-good, and just hearing the theme tune makes you want to live in Californiaaaaaaaaa

So yeah, lunch and the OC – falling in love with Seth again, and wishing that silly Anna away because oh-my-gosh-he-is-just-meant-for-Summer-even-though-she-doesn’t-like-him-right-now-she-will-soon. Yay for the teenage romance drama!

And then, in the middle of the Ryan-Marissa angst, I had a sudden burst of Need-to-craft-itis and then proceeded to absolutely cover my living room with floor, pins, tape measures, ribbons, cardboard templates and all other kinds of haberdashery paraphenalia [with my Christmas songs in the background, of course] for about 5 hours and I made some very lovely stockings and tree decorations.

In the midst of my sewing I realised it was dinner-time so I put food in the oven…but then got so absorbed in the sewing that I completely forgot about my dinner and it was only when I looked up and the flat was basically a cloud that I realised it had been in there about an hour too long.

Whoops. Mishap of the day. It was all fine though, I opened all the windows and threw away the burned food and started over – making sure I kept an eye on it. Dinner Mark 2 was actually quite tasty!

Once I was done with the sewing and the flat looked as if a bomb made of fabric & ribbon had exploded…I had a tidy up! And watched some TV (Strictly results…I’m sad Victoria went, but she just isn’t as good as the rest of the celebs and it was her turn. I hope Louis goes next week)

And then, need-to-craft-itis hit me again. So I’ve spent the last two hours in my kitchen messing around with melted chocolate. Not gonna tell you what for (in case it doesn’t work out) but right now it all looks so good. And all this to a lovely soundtrack from Colbie Callait, Lady Antebellum, Agnes Obel and Madeline Peroux – courtesy of Spotify.

I’m just hoping all my crafty stuff sells on Thursday because otherwise I will have a bunch of stuff that I have no idea what to do with! But…that’s a worry for another day!

-x-

My ‘stay-cation’

This past week I have had the most blissfully peaceful ‘stay-cation’.

Stay-cation (also spelled stay-cation, stacation, or staykation) is a neologism for a period in which an individual or family stays and relaxes at home, possibly taking day trips to area attractions.    (thanks Wikipedia!)

I went to my Mum’s, in Devon, and had seven glorious days there. Possibly the best thing about it was that I was using up my TOIL, (“time off in lieu” of additional hours worked) so I feel like I really did earn the time off, and consequently it was justified to do absolutely nothing if that was how I felt.

Of course, most days I was up by eight and walking the dogs with Mum…but there was such a distinct lack of pressure or “must-do” attitude that I completely relaxed and now really don’t want to go back to work tomorrow!

Things I did:
– read four books, in completion, and started two more (including Stephen Fry’s “In America” which I love)
– made fabric flowers with Mum
– did lots of cooking with Mum (roast dinner, chicken pie, blueberry lemon drizzle cake and flapjack…for example)
– listened to the radio, and watched TV and movies
– took my two younger sisters (17 and 2 1/2) to the zoo for the day!   (photos to follow!)

Along with many dog walks (and cuddles) and probably close to a hundred cups of tea. I love tea at home.

It was just too lovely for words.

I definitely needed this time off. It’s not like I’m overworking myself…that much…but it has been pretty full-on since Christmas and as such I feel a little like life is just happening to me, passing me by, and that I’m not really involved in any significant way.

I think I needed a little perspective, and even though I didn’t consciously spend time praying (or reading my Bible…I have catch-up to do) I do feel closer to God as a result of taking work out of the equation, even for just a week.

It’s been nice, is what I’m trying to say!

-x-

p.s. I also spent a LOT of time on Pinterest, and found far too many gorgeous things. But one of my favourites was this absolutely amazing treehouse, which I have decided is possibly my dream holiday home. For when I’m rich and therefore am able to spend lots of time making it as pretty on the inside as on the outside: