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 –

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

 

 

 

-x-

 

 

 

Spring into Summer… hello again

I love summer. I love early sunrises, late sunsets, sunshine in general. Of course, since I live in England it’s actually hit and miss whether you get the sunshine but it’s completely appreciated and adored when we do. (Last week we had a 27 degree bright & sunny afternoon, followed by torrential rain and flash floods a few days later. Variety is the spice of life)

WordPress has reminded me (prompted me, elbowed me in the ribs…nudge nudge) that I have only posted about 7 times in the last year. That is shocking. Sorry, if you happen to actually read my ramblings and have anything like a vague passing interest. I wish I could say it’s because life is so exciting I have no time, but that would be a lie. Life can be exciting, but I certainly could make more time for this little blog of mine. Otherwise what’s the point? And, as said many times before, I actually do like writing.

So, here’s a little update for you. Spring…into Summer… told in photos, since I am addicted to Instagram. [Current favourites include #embossing videos, #cakedecorating videos, sarcastic memes and pictures of dogs)

March

You already know from my last post that I did the mad Devon-dash (that’s what I’m calling it from now on, I foresee it happening a lot on my future now that a wee person has arrived, more on that later…)

But March also had some lovely family time with the non-pregnant siblings. We went to Tuscany on the 26th, the first family holiday we’ve had in five years and the first time Abigail has been abroad in 11 years. Poor girl. One day she can be a jetsetter like me 🙂 I had to drive in Tuscany, for some ridiculous reason, but managed not to kill my entire family plus Abigail’s friend Melissa who came with us. So that was good.

We stayed in a villa I found on Air BnB and the only drawback was that the pool wasn’t open yet. It was gorgeous and in the most beautiful, peaceful surroundings. So relaxing to just hang out at home and rest, colour, crochet, sleep, read…do jigsaws… we loved it.

We had day trips to Florence and Pisa, getting the train from our nearest town into the city centres – way better than the prospect of driving! Abigail and I were the only ones brave enough to climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa, an experience I certainly will never repeat. You can’t tell from the photo but I’m clinging to her for dear life and trying not to throw up.

Also, we walked MILES. With frequent stops for ice-cream, but MILES.

April

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I did some dreaming in April, and found all these pretty quotes and images online which made up a sweet phone background for a while. It’s nice to not always have your feet on the ground, right?

Not much happened in April…

I started watching the TV show “Full House”12987980_10157034838650122_846505130_n.jpg

Super exciting, I know. I actually only started because I watched the first episode of “Fuller House” on Netflix and despite all the hype it made no sense to me because I hadn’t seen the original. Now I’m up to season 6… #bingewatching    It’s stupidly easy to watch and have on in the background. Not a lot of concentration is generally required, which is good.

 

Also in April, this absolutely fabulous bruise occurred:

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There is a story behind this bruise. I’m not normally in the habit of displaying my injuries but this one was fairly epic…those pictures show the progression over a few days but it was still bruised 3 weeks later.

So, what happened was: I was hanging out with my friends Debbie and Aaron. You remember them, they have Emily and Eli. Well, Aaron has a bakery business now and bakes AMAZING things from their humble little kitchen. Check him out at http://www.beardybaker.net ! (shameless plug)

Anyway. On this day we were all in the kitchen and the children were playing… brownies were cooling on the top of the movable island that they have in the kitchen. Somehow one of the children managed to knock the island and the brownies – still hot from the oven – toppled over, almost landing on top of Eli’s head! I say ALMOST eecause thanks to us three quick reacting adults we managed to get the children out of the way and the brownie became affectionately known as ‘floor brownie’ (still good)

But unfortunately for this quick reacting adult, I had to slide off a wooden stool in order to get to the baby and in doing so did some kind of injury to my leg! Totally worth it to save small child/ren from molten brownie but OUCH

Moving on…. also in April I learned to make macarons, and tried my hand at painting furniture. I had a pine frame bed, and a pine desk – both of which had been given to me for free, and which I was growing to hate because they were different shades of pine! Cue paintbrush 🙂 I have since also painted four black dining chairs to match them to our dining table and they look great too. Having a white bed and desk has transformed my room and I had a lot of fun! #makedoandmend

Impressive, no? I couldn’t find a recipe to get the macaron filling the same as it is in the shops, but I was still so stupidly pleased with myself that I almost cried when I got them out of the oven!

May

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Just a fun photo of me 🙂 Actually I had a very random day in London this month. I was virtually order to attend a meeting, in Wembley, but when it came to it I turned up and they had cancelled the entire thing and not told me! Helpful. Since I’d blocked out my day to attend, and my work phone died, I ended up just mooching around London for a little while until my train home… hence the smoothie and sunnies.

Sometimes, these odd things happen in the social work life.

The second most exciting thing that happened in May, is this:

BYE HAIR!13227988_10157173626930122_2002220906_n.jpg

The boldest hair decision I’ve ever made! There was so much hair on the floor. The stylist was really excited, the lady behind me was freaking out… it was very exciting. It has taken a little while to adjust to it, particularly not putting it in a ponytail to go swimming. Every so often I catch sight of myself in a mirror and have to do a double take, but I’m loving people’s reactions (and compliments, won’t lie) It’s something I’ve thought about for years but never been brave enough and I finally decided, hey, it’s hair, it’ll grow back. There are way worse things that could happen.

But now, the most exciting thing that happened in May…….. Baby Ezra has arrived!

Baby! Sunday 22nd June, weighing 9lb 9oz. Isn’t he sweet? Jonathan and Alice and I did the Devon Dash on Friday 27th (Abigail’s birthday) and came back on Sunday… only a short trip to meet him but we had a good weekend, and lots of cuddles.

I officially now have seven babies in my life, with names beginning with E… it’s a good letter!

June….. will have to wait for another day, it’s only halfway through!

Hope you’ve enjoyed this little photo update of joy… see you soon

-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.

 

Yes I’m still here…still

Sorry for the blog break. As usual,  life is all upside down and back to front, and busybusybusy.

We have Ofsted (the dreaded Ofsted!!) assessing us at work next week,  so it’s all systems go … all hands on deck … noses to the grindstone! 

I’m hoping that I can find time to blog properly over the weekend. A lot has happened in these past few weeks!

(But my sister has had her operation and is doing great…just in case you’re following along from my last few posts)

Speak to you soon, World!

Tired. Just tired.

This is me. A sleepy little pug who needs a cosy warm bed, but could equally fall asleep on bare floorboards right now.

I have been on call for the past two weeks. In the midst of that, I found out my sister has cancer and went home for 4 days – but I was still on call and dealing with emergencies.

In the past 14 days I have had to manage 3 missing person incidents, four emergency placement moves, two incidents involving the police: one for criminal damage and one for assault, and a child protection investigation.

It’s been so wonderful.

I have no idea what is going on with my kids, or their carers, but I hope something settles down soon. We are due Ofsted any time now and I don’t think my poor little anxiety-girl heart can stand anymore stress.

In good news, I’m getting a back/neck/shoulder massage tomorrow and I am looking forward to it in a way that words cannot even describe!

-x-

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-