Brrr nippy noodles, folks

All of a sudden (well, over the last few weeks) the temperature has really dropped and I am experiencing the chills and draughts that come from living in my little cottage. 

Whilst it’s a lovely little cottage, and it looks so beautiful in my living room with the Christmas tree and all the lights, the downside of this old house is that it’s full of holes! And has thin, minimally insulated walls! And old single glazing windows! COLD!

I am a frugal girl, don’t you know? I find it very hard to spend money because growing up we never had any to spend. So living in a house that genuinely gets so cold that my hands hurt has been a true challenge for me. 

I know I can afford to put the heating on. I am blessed to know a God who has provided me with a job, and that my job pays enough for all my household expenses – including money for a higher heating bill.

And yet I still struggle to justify putting the heating on because it feels like such an unnecessary luxury!

 

Right now I have a checklist to decide whether it’s justified:

– at least 3 layers on top, with socks and slippers

– hot water bottle andmicrowave heat bag

– a blanket

– candles

If I’ve done all those things and I’m still cold, I’ll put the heating on. But it’s a torturous decision each time.

Lately I’ve realised that my reluctance to put the heating on shows my lack of trust and dependence on God. It shows I don’t believe that he will meet my each and every need. Me not using the heating is me saying to God, “I don’t trust you to take care of me…you aren’t going to keep providing for me…I need a contingency plan”

Totally stupid. Totally wrong. 

 

 

I know I can trust God to meet my needs. He does it everyday.  He sustains me.

 

 

 

 

So I’m turning the heating on. 

 

 

This doesn’t mean I’m going to start putting the it up to 22°c and wander around in a t-shirt…I am still going to be sensible and have my little checklist….but I don’t need to wait until I’m literally freezing to do it!

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My sister has cancer

There’s a scene near the end of the film “Sweet Home Alabama” where Reese Witherspoon is ditching Patrick Dempsey at the altar. He stands there, numb, and says “So this is what this feels like”

That scene made sense to me yesterday, when my little sister Abigail (who is not so little; 19 years old and 6 ft 2) called me up after work and told me that the series of lumps she found in her neck six months ago are in fact, thyroid cancer.

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I don’t know about you, but when I hear of horrible situations happening to people I know, my mind wanders a bit and I wonder how I would cope in that situation. I wonder how I would feel.

As it turns out, there is no way to prepare for news like this, and more than 24 hours later, I still don’t know how I feel.

Today I was such a scatter brain that I managed to spill a nearly full cup of tea over myself. First thing in the morning. While wearing a white t-shirt. Idiot. The rest of the day I had the attention span of a gnat. Oh, and I almost poured boiling water over myself whilst trying to make a cup of tea later in the afternoon.

Right now, I am focusing on the things that I know – rather than the things I don’t. I’m resisting the urge to Google…once I know the official name of it, I’ll do some research but until then it would just be too weird.

Things I know
Abigail has thyroid cancer which is also affecting her lymph glands
She is having surgery to remove it on 2nd October
After that, she’ll be having radio-iodine treatment to eradicate any further cancer
God is in control

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I know that lots of people, when faced with awful situations, will rail against God and blame him. Millions of people use the fact that there is sickness and suffering in the world as an excuse not to believe in Him. Not me. I know that God is in control and He has this whole situation in hand. More than that, He’s been preparing us for this.

How?

Abigail has a friend called Jess, who earlier this year had a stroke and later found out she had leukaemia. Jess is a good friend of Abigail’s and they work together, so Abigail has seen her at her best and worst through her own illness. Jess’ consultant is called Dr Malik. Dr Malik is also Abigail’s consultant. When she was waiting for her results, Abigail sat down with Jess and Jess was very lovely and explained exactly what it’s like to have cancer. Abigail then felt reassured that she knew what she might be facing – even though none of us wanted it to be this. What an angel Jess has been.

This time last year, our family’s support network was very small. It was basically just the immediate family; eight of us, a rabbit and a dog. Yesterday when I spoke to my mum and my sister, there were about a dozen non-family people that we could think of who will help us through this – my mum’s new friends that she has met through a course she attended and a lovely friend from work, my brother-in-law’s family, our friend Penny who lives in the village… we have people.

This time two years ago my Mum and Abigail both suffered from severe depression. Both of them still have depression, but nowhere near the extent that they did before. While this has knocked us all for six (daft expression) it is not going to beat us down.

So while I do still feel unprepared for news like this; I know that God has prepared us for this – and I can, and will, turn to Him throughout this time.

Tomorrow, my sister and brother in law are driving back to Plymouth from Wales, and after work my brother and his girlfriend and I are driving down as well. We are all assembling, like the Avengers, to talk and hug and watch Disney movies. This is what we do.

Abigail has started a blog – of course – because she is a fighter and wants to document her journey. You can read more here: http://mylife-cherryblossom.tumblr.com/

There may be blog-silence for a little while. There may be blog overload for a while. I don’t know really.

But what I do know?

Higher than the mountains that I face
Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant through the trial and the change
One thing remains
One thing remains

Your love never fails it never gives up it never runs out on me

On and one and on and on it goes
It overwhelms and satisfies my soul
And I never ever have to be afraid
One thing remains

In death and in life I’m confident and covered by the power of your great love
My debt is paid there’s nothing that can separate my heart from your great love

(One Thing Remains; Jesus Culture)

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Vive la revolution! …or not

Greetings from my little hub of insanity, chaos and rantiness. *Disclaimer* I am feeling in quite a strange mood; a little bit hyper, a little bit dopey, quite sleepy and just generally weird. Please bear that in mind when reading the following post.

It has been an odd week, or to be more accurate, an odd fortnight. I don’t know if it’s the Les Miserables influence, but the whole world (or at least – the people I work with on a daily basis) seem to all be on the verge of a revolution, and to be quite honest with you it is WINDING ME UP!

On one hand, it’s ok. The young people I work with are all doing great and I’m so proud because even the ones with the most ‘baggage’ are surpassing expectations. But on the other hand…well… It’s more than a little frustrating, to say the least – and the least is all I can say here due to professional boundaries and confidentiality etc. Let’s just say that over the last few weeks, it’s been a challenge to hold my tongue and remember what Thumper says:

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Today in church, the sermon was taken from James 1: 19-27

Verse 19 really stuck out to me. “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God”

Martin, who was preaching, explained that we need to be self-controlled in both our heart response and our physical actions because they both have an impact for good or bad.

Over the past few weeks I have come up against any number of difficulties – trials. And it has been hard, very hard, to not get frustrated and snappy like others around me. Instead I have been trying to count it as joy (James 1:2) because God is teaching me to be patient and steadfast. But it isn’t easy. In the environment in which I work, it is so easy to be slow to listen, and quick to speak IN anger. Every day my colleagues and I see and read horrible things and deal with the worst of the worst situations, and lately we have been facing a huge amount of opposition in our work. It can be hard to remain self-controlled and not hit back verbally…to just reach boiling point and have to really bite my tongue before I say something snarky and mean.

But the book of James says it is better to be quick to HEAR – to really listen and take in what someone is saying, than to say something out of anger. We need to focus on the person’s heart – what they are really upset about/struggling with, rather than perhaps getting angry at the way they express it.

Don’t get me wrong – a lot of the anger that I’ve experienced over the past few weeks is righteous anger – shock and hurt and disgust at the injustice of the world and horror at some people’s attitudes when you have higher expectations of them. But the correct response isn’t to get all riled up about it, and say something nasty – that’s just as unhelpful: for your own heart as for them.

I need my heart to be in the right place and today’s sermon was a timely reminder from God that in the season my workplace is in, the way through is to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.

Well – what began as a ranty and quite “blah” post has actually cleared my mind a bit. Writing is so helpful in getting my thoughts ordered. Like I said, this week has been a challenge and it’s thrown me all off (3 days working late and being shouted at a lot will do that to a person) but above all I am thankful for these trials – yes, THANKFUL.

I choose to be thankful for my God who knows me and does not give me more than I can bear in Him, who cares about my charater. I choose to be thankful for my God who allows situations that test and strengthen me, I choose to be thankful that He loves me so much that He wants me to be the best version of myself, and I choose to be thankful that I can rely on Him to give me everything I need to accomplish that.

-x-

Honesty

I very rarely say what’s actually on my mind. I hate the little box on Facebook that asks:

A lot of the time, it wouldn’t be ok to say exactly what’s on my mind.  Like most people I have snarky, mean thoughts…or sad thoughts…or incredibly random thoughts (for example, how do worms reproduce?) which it is not ‘normal’ to share.

But today, I was texting with a friend and making plans for this evening. I invited her over to watch The Help, which we just got through LoveFilm. I said we could watch something else if she wanted, and she replied saying she didn’t want to watch The Help, and would bring a different film she’d been planning on watching.

I started thinking. If it had been the other way round, I probably would have deflected the question entirely – “I’ll watch whatever you want”. In this case, I genuinely don’t mind what we watch, I just want my friend’s company because I enjoy spending time with her…but I realised the majority of people wouldn’t have the confidence to be honest about what they want.

Why isn’t it normal to share what’s on your mind? Why do we hide? Wouldn’t the world be a better place if people were really honest about how they thought or felt? Or what they wanted?

Obviously there could also be some pretty epic and potentially world-changing connotations ifeveryonedid it…world leaders and politicians for example, might have a tough time.

But on the small-scale.

If someone asks you “how are you” – what do you say? My default response is “fine” – last year my life was really anything but fine; I was exhausted, stressed, anxious, ill and deeply unhappy. But whenever anyone asked me, I said “fine” because that is the socially accepted response.

I was at home over the Easter Weekend, and talked with both my mum and my pastor – they’d bumped into each other a few days before, and both told me about it. My pastor asked my mum “how are you” – her response? “I’m having a really bad day”. Mum went on to explain to my pastor that she has severe depression and anxiety, and today was an awful day. Her honesty prompted my pastor to share with her about his own experiences of having depression, for two years, and he was able to say with all honesty: I know how it feels.

Mum said that this chance meeting with him was very helpful, even though he didn’t say anything particularly profound or “counsellor-ish”. He was just honest, because she had been honest, and that helped her.

How many situations are we in, on a daily basis, where we deny our true thoughts and feelings because we are more concerned about how others will receive what we say or do?

I know I do it far more that I want to. I wish I had the confidence and assurance to be honest, in good and bad. To say what’s on my mind – within reason. Ultimately I know that God is my redeemer and thanks to Jesus I am able to rest assured in His promises. He thinks good of me and I needn’t fear Man….and yet, I do. All the time.

Am I alone in this, or is it a common thought among the bloggy world?

Believe me when I say…I want to know what you think!

-x-