Priorities

pri·or·i·ty
[prahy-awr-i-tee, -or-]

1. the state or quality of being earlier in time, occurrence, etc.

2. the right to precede others in order, rank, privilege, etc.; precedence.

3. the right to take precedence in obtaining certain supplies, services, facilities, etc., especially during a shortage.

4. something given special attention.

adjective
5. highest or higher in importance, rank, privilege, etc.: a priority task.

Lately, I have been questioning my priorities and what I give my time to. The things we prioritise say a lot about us, don’t they?

Over the last fortnight I have been really challenged by a situation at work. It has been so difficult and actually quite distressing. We have been dealing with foster carers who are prioritising their own wish to go on a holiday over the needs of the little boy they look after – they’ve only had him for a few weeks and want to go off and leave him with other carers when he’s barely settled with them. It has become clear that their priority is not the child they are caring for.

It was so clear to me that this is not ok, but then since being confronted with this whole thing I have thought about my own priorities. My mind has strange connections – I think about one thing, which prompts something else, and then another thing which seems unconnected but actually makes sense in my mind.

(Example: this evening I drove past a town-house that I liked and thought “I’d like to live in a town-house”. Then I wondered, why are they called town-houses. Then I wondered why the New York versions are called “brown-stones”. Then I wondered how much houses cost in Manhattan. And then I had the song “Manhattan” by Ella Fitzgerald in my head!)

But anyway, let’s not get too off track.

Back in June I came close to quitting my gym membership, since I figured that £30 a month is expensive when I only went once or twice a week – and that worked out at around £5 a session which itself seemed like a lot of money. But I like going to the gym and getting fit, and I think it’s healthy for me – so I decided to prioritise going to the gym regularly and actually making the most of my membership – somehow it’s crept up to 5 times a week, but it feels so good to be active. I do classes and I have a weights routine with an instructor and everything.

I also prioritised eating healthier – I have such an addiction to chocolate and sweet things! Give me a pudding over a savoury any day of the week. I challenged myself to not eat biscuits at work for an entire month – and I did it. I felt so much better during my work day; less energy crashes in the middle of the afternoon.

It seems that if I put my mind to something, and make it a priority, it is not that hard. As my first discipler once said: “you make time for what you care about”

So why then, is it so hard for me to prioritise God in my life? I love God and I want my life to honour him and bring him glory, but I forget him SO often.

Yesterday we had a worship evening at Small Group and it was a great, peaceful, praising time.

But in my own life, when it relies on my own motivation, I really struggle to seek God. I am completely involved in my Church, but when I am serving and don’t get to listen to the service, I very rarely listen to the preach online – although I always say I will … but then I can find time to watch Emmerdale or Coronation Street on itvplayer (hey, you already knew I was middle-aged inside)

Yes, I listen to worship music – but only when I’m cooking dinner… Yes, I read my Bible – whilst I’m eating breakfast. Sometimes I pray at times other than when I just want something – but usually in the car when I get sick of what’s playing on the radio.

When did my time with God become something I tried to multi-task?

I have always struggled in prayer, because talking to a Holy, Infinite, Ever-Loving Father is just not a concept I could understand – to trust that what you ask for will be given, and that he is always there. Actually it was a pretty alien concept.

It’s different now, though…I truly know God as my Father…but how come I can’t prioritise Him. I struggle so much.

I know that everyone struggles, really I do – but I forget him so often.

How can I remedy this issue?

I don’t want some “5-steps to a closer relationship with your Saviour” type spiel. I want a deeper, more honest, more reliant relationship with God.

But how?!

At work I split my tasks into groups: 1) URGENT AND IMPORTANT, 2) NOT URGENT BUT IMPORTAND, 3) NOT IMPORTANT OR URGENT. This really helps me figure out what I need to first, and what can wait until later. (Some of my “not important and not urgent” tasks have been sitting in that pile since April though…should fix that)

God should be URGENT AND IMPORTANT, shouldn’t he?

More thoughts to come on this, I’m sure.

-x-

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A really long week

I haven’t posted this week as it’s been a really tough one. I’ve been on call, which means I’ve driven around 400 miles for work (all over East Sussex, Surrey and Kent!) and had to pick up a wayward charge from 2 separate police stations on two consecutive nights which was a real joy since I’ve only ever been in a police station once in my entire life and that was just to report an accident.

Safe to say that wasn’t the highlight of my week! 2 very late nights and not enough sleep when I finally did get to bed (I wish my mind could just forget about work but unfortunately I don’t seem to be wired with an off switch) and then yesterday completely topped it off as every single phone call I took was someone wanting to yell at me…literally.

I took 13 phone calls throughout the day (I have to record who I speak to, and what about, so this is an accurate figure) and every.single.one of them was from a grumpy/dissatisfied/upset/annoyed person who felt it necessary to raise their voice over the accepted level to get across their point.

My favourite one was from someone whose language left a considerable amount to be desired and let me tell you the insults she threw at me would have been hilarious if they weren’t so vulgar 😦

It was a bad day which just didn’t get better, although there was a good half-hour when I realised that I am probably going to win the award for Best Sister Ever as I found the perfect Christmas present for one of my sisters.

Other than that, it sucked. The day was topped off by a phone call at 11.30pm (at which point I’d been asleep for about 90 minutes) telling me that one of young people had been reported missing. Thus followed an hour of finding Social Services numbers and reporting this to the necessary people, chased up by another hour where I waited for the Duty Social Worker to call me back. I gave up at 2.30am and went to sleep only to wake up about 4 times throughout the night, completly paranoid about missing THE phone call.

Needless to say I’m tired.

Today is Rosie’s birthday though, and we had a lovely morning. I got up and decorated the house with balloons and put out her presents etc (and freaked Ro out by playing Stevie Wonder’s Happy Birthday when she walked into the lounge) and we had pancakes for breakfast. That made me happy. I got Ro two of the QI books, which made her laugh. She’s going to put them in her bathroom, because everyone needs something to read in there. 😛

I’ve already had two Out of Hours calls today but I’m praying it will be a quiet afternoon and evening so I can celebrate with Rosie tonight. Ro has now gone out to lunch at her parents’ house, so I am using the time to make her birthday cake. It’s going to be soooo pretty :)I’m also listening to my worship album on Spotify, which is reminding me that I have the perfect Saviour who knows exactly how tired I am and what I need.

Last week may have sucked, but this is a new week and it is full of grace and God’s mercy for me and those around me. I love that.

-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.

 

Is your church too cool?

A friend of mine just posted a link to this article on facebook: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/church/features/26050-is-your-church-too-cool

I confess I don’t know very much about the author, so I don’t know whether she has a general anti-church mindset, or whatever – but I really feel that this article is an honest reflection of how churches in our modern, technologically minded society can be.

A lot of what the author says is true; she’s quite critical but she ends by revealing the heart of the matter:

Some of us wear our brokenness on the inside, others on the outside. But we’re all broken. We’re all uncool. We’re all in need of a Savior. So let’s have some distracting church services—the kind where Jesus would fit right in.

I’d encourage you (if anyone’s reading this!) to read and really consider what she says in the article, and make up your own mind what you think…it’s definitely worth a few minutes of your time.

– x –

Church on the Farm, a blast from the past and Memory Verse Monday

This past weekend was our Regional Church Weekend Away – three days camping on a farm about 8 miles away from Canterbury. Our church put on the event and did an amazing job, it was such great fun even if the weather was pretty awful most of the time. On the Friday evening the speaker preached about Peter walking on water, and Jesus calming the storm – all while a huge storm was raging outside! We were inside a marquee, which was huge and draughty and everytime the wind outside got louder the fabric walls and roof just blew like mad. I have decided that I love camping, and Rosie and I are going to go together over the summer. I didn’t get to really listen to much of the teaching, but the sessions will be online so I can watch them whenever. What I did hear was awesome!

Another really exciting thing that happened this weekend is that an old friend got back in touch after almost two years! Emily and I became email pen-pals when I was seventeen and she was sixteen, now I’m twenty-two and she’s twenty-one. We lost touch in 2009 when I started my second year of Uni, but she emailed me again the other day and it’s like we never stopped.  I’m so pleased, I really miss emailing with her – we got to be quite close, though that sounds crazy because we’ve never met – and really, may never meet because she lives in New York (and used to live in Vegas) but who knows. I’m just happy we’re back messaging again!

Finger update: I had to go back to Minor Injuries to get my finger checked cos it looked so gross, and I had to have the steri-strip taken off cos it was stopping it heal. A weekend on a muddy farm hasn’t helped it, but the bandage is off and it’s starting to heal properly. It’s gonna scar, probably quite badly, but hopefully because it’s on the underside of my finger I won’t see it.

I also had to go to the hospital for a blood test during the week because I had a weird fainting episode which freaked me out. I keep having them, so hopefully if there’s something going on the blood test will figure it out.

Here’s this week’s Memory Verse:

Whatever you do, work heartily,as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lordyou will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24

I will praise you in this storm…

I love the song “Praise you in this storm”, by Casting Crowns – I first heard it a couple of years ago, when I was visiting friends in America, and it came onto the radio. This was before I really listened to any Christian music (nowadays it’s basically all I listen to) and I just was completely overcome by the lyrics:

I was sure by now
God You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say “Amen”, and it’s still raining

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
“I’m with you”
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

[Chorus:]
And I’ll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when
I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to you
And you raised me up again
My strength is almost gone
How can I carry on
If I can’t find You

But as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
“I’m with you”
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away
[Chorus]


I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth

Aren’t they amazing? I love the biblical reference at the end (from Psalm 121) – in the song it’s almost spoken; kind of as a final statement – so you recognise the strength of the truth they are singing about.

It’s a beautiful song. It reminds me that no matter what situation I face, I have God, and I have to praise Him! It’s quite simple really, but so often I find myself struggling and floundering around, getting stressed out or anxious and feeling completely overwhelmed – this is completely the opposite of what God wants for me. In all the situations that make me feel that way, He wants me to cling to Him! He wants me to turn back and face Him, draw close to Him and let Him help me. People who know me will know that I’m not very good accepting help – I love to help others, I genuinely do – but when it comes to revealing my own need: I suck!

I’ve learned through my three years in Canterbury so far that I don’t need to be completely self-reliant, that I have a God who is incredibly strong and who loves me…but actually putting it into practice, and making myself vulnerable and recognising the need for God’s intervention in my situation is something that I am still learning. Let’s just say, when I’m in a difficult place – God isn’t alway my first thought. Usually I try and figure out a way to do it myself, persevere in that for a little while until I realise it’s completely pointless, and then turn to God. I certainly don’t praise Him while I’m struggling!!

The song I’m talking about helps me to remember that God is in everything, and that He should be my first thought in all circumstances. I want Him to be. I want Him to be the centre of my world – the first and the last. He is my Saviour King, and even through difficult times He is worthy of my praise because He is my rescuer.

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,who made heaven and earth.

(Psalm 121: 1-2)

(To hear the song, click the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHdcyue0bSw)