misdirected emotions

I am a great example of how to display an emotion completely separate from what I m actually feeling. I have written before that I can be an ostrich when it comes to emotions and feelings but I also have a knack for completely dwelling on something minor as a way to distract myself from what I’m really feeling.

Case in point: about 2 hours ago I said goodbye to my wonderful American friends. I just about held the tears back as the kids all got emotional and as they prayed for me and told me their favourite things about my visit. I felt so sad to be leaving that I wanted to tell Rachel to turn the car around and I would just stay forever!

(But of course I didn’t and I said goodbye at the bus stop with a huge knot in my tummy and a lump in my throat from trying so hard not to lose it)

So then I spent an hour on the bus trying not to cry, reading my Bible and praying and looking at pictures. By the time I got to the airport I still felt sad but I was thankful for my time with the Libbys.

Then I checked in and my bag was too heavy and I had to pay the excess fee and instead of being my usual practical self and rearranging items between my carry-ons to make my check-in lighter I just went ahead and paid the whole charge! Which left me kicking myself all through Security for not making a wise decision.

Of course, I got so frustrated with myself over it because I didn’t want to think about what I was missing with Rachel and the kids.

I really had to fight to let go of that frustration and not let it take away from the joyful time I’ve had. Seriously, I’ve just had 2 wonderful weeks with some of my favourite people and I’m going to dwell on an insignificant thing like paying a baggage charge?!

How could my heart and head be so ungrateful so suddenly. It honestly took a lot of prayer and thanking God for all blessings of the last two weeks to make me see that while yes, maybe I made a silly split second decision, but it was even sillier to let it spoil my heart.

In the end I was thanking God that he provided me with enough spending money in my purse that I could pay the charge in cash and still have enough for a Starbucks while I wait for my boarding time. He didn’t have to provide that, but He did, because He loves me.

One thing I am taking away from this experience is to always have a thankful heart even when you feel silly or frustrated with your situation, because there are too many blessings to count if you look for them.

The other thing I am taking away from this is to be more wware of what I am feeling and why. This has always been a thing for me, and I have to constantly examine myself: what am I feeling, why am I feeling that way? But now I also need to challenge myself to change my attitude if it is not right and focused on God.

Such deep thoughts whilst sat at Gate D11. I have another hour or so until my flight starts boarding so I think I will head around the concourse in search of that Starbucks!

-x-

Advertisements

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.

 

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-

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-

Ups downs and middles

This has been a very up and down week. I don’t think I’ve liked it much! There have been some really bad points (Monday) and some really good points (Tuesday prayer time!) so essentially it’s equalled out to an ‘ok’ week, but I’m so ready for it to be over.

I just don’t think I’ve caught up from last week – we had a case going to court last Friday and didn’t have our notes sorted, so my colleague and I spent all day Wednesday, all day Thursday and then 4 hours on Thursday evening trying to get caught up. We didn’t manage it, though it was ok because they weren’t needed as urgently as we’d been led to believe. Not frustrating at all…

We could not have been more annoyed really. Me especially, since I cancelled all my other work on Wednesday and Thursday as well as not going to Small Group on Thursday night to get it all done.

The positive side of it all is that we do now have a handle on it, so are prepared for when the notes are required…but unfortunately it means that this whole week I have been playing catch up – against myself!

I wrote my to-do list yesterday…17 items. Over the day I completed 12, but added another 9. Today I finished all but two of them, which felt very impressive even for me. I just now feel completely exhausted…the weekend cannot come soon enough!

In other news, one of my foster carers might have TB and is in hospital…cue frantic call to Mum to confirm that I was vaccinated (her response: “have you got a BCG scar?” Me: “yes.” Her: “then yes, you’re vaccinated”) and panicked Googling of symptoms/contagious-ness of TB to check that the vaccine doesn’t run out or stop working…we were all on high alert!!

If he has it, I may need to be tested since I work closely with the family and am considered high risk as I’m quite immunosuppresed – but that’s all just another adventure that I’ll take if it happens.

Roll on Saturday…just need to cope through tomorrow first.

-x-

 

One day, Tuesday, Wednesday…weekend yet?

So, I feel like I’m ready for the weekend already – I had to work on Monday because we had a few emergency things in Hastings that I had to deal with, so I’ve already done three days and I feel like tomorrow should be Friday so that Friday can be Saturday so that I can sleep.

I want sleep. Sleeeeeeep. Today I went to EMP, which was brilliant, and then I had a slightly later start at work this morning so I was able to go to the breakfast at Wetherspoons, but then when I got into work I was faced with a to-do list that had 16 points on it, and went almost straight into a meeting and came out of said meeting with another 5 to-do points.

How many of my points did I complete today?

Three

Not great, really, but I’m not going to worry about it, I’ll just get a better start on it tomorrow. It’s not like I did nothing all day, just things kept cropping up that needed urgent attention. My to-do list is mostly typing: I’ve got about seven meeting reports (total of about 13 hours worth) to type up. I can get that done whenever, really, but I like to be up-to-date with everything so I can just pull it out when someone mentions a decision or a query.

Anyway.

It’s been a while since I blogged, so what have I done recently:

– went to the cinema twice, saw the First Grader, and Sarah’s Key. Both made me cry, I’ve read the book of Sarah’s Key and that made me cry, it’s a really harrowing book, and the film was more horrific. It was accurate to the book, apart from one bit which didn’t change the story. I’m actually glad they changed it.

– had a fun worship night with some girl friends, with dinner and singing and prayer – it was awesome

– tidied my rooooooom!

– made lots of plans for fun things in the next month or so!

– RSVP’d to my best friend’s wedding and hen weekend

– wrote and sent a lot of letters, catching up with lots of friends

– looked into which gym to join

– looked into which counselling course I might like to do, but they are all super expensive and I don’t think I’d be able to fund it myself…work may support me in part but lots of the proper qualifications are full-time college courses. Grr.

– made chocolate orange muffins, which were incredibly delicious

– went to a dinner party, for my cell leader Simon’s birthday – 12 of us around a makeshift table, having a lot of laughs and some great food. The table was literally home-made, Faith had got a big sheet of MDF of something, and some legs, and put some beakers on top of stools to make sure that the tabletop didn’t droop (really!!!) and it was a lovely evening getting to chat with everyone and catch up on everyone’s summer.

– caught up with my discipler, and had a sweet evening sat talking on the sofa with her, sewing the hems on her three boys’ school trousers whilst she finished the ironing.

– caught up with my best friend, who has moved back to Bedford before her wedding, I haven’t seen her in a while so it was nice to catch up on her news and wedding plans and things.

– frustrated Rosie a lot because my laptop has decided that it’s not speaking to our internet router, so that I’m having to borrow hers if I want to do anything…

… including this, and now I need to give it back so I’m gonna end here…and post an update on my first non-serving, non-Impact Sunday at church later!

-x-

And I’m sure I’ve done an awful lot more than that.