Saturday, 29 October 2011

A Month Gone By

I was doing really well and now there has been a whole month without a post. No good!

It's been quite a busy month. This might have to be a life-update post.

At the beginning of October I went to Frankfurt to the 24-7 Prayer Eurogathering. It was an amazing weekend. I went by myself and met some amazing people, learned some incredible stuff and had my mindsets and stereotypes challenged, again. I'm sure there will be lots to come out of that in the months to come.

The following week I had a job interview at the Hollybank Trust. This is an organisation I have wanted to work for ever since I graduated, and when the job was first advertised at the beginning of September, I lost a day's worth of work because I was just so excited about it! So reflecting on Germany was put on hold for a little while as every waking moment was dedicated to interview preparation. And, I got the job! It's the most amazing feeling, but at the same time very surreal. I'm still waiting to get a start date and do induction training and all of that, so it's a funny transition phase where I have a job, but don't have it yet. Can't wait to start!

Since then I have spent time catching up on everything I didn't do whilst preparing for trips abroad/interviews. I've had a hectic month, but things are finally slowing down. Today was an amazing day off- I left the house once, to buy some milk for a cup of tea!

Clocks go back tonight, loving my extra hour's sleep :-)

Thursday, 29 September 2011

These Streets

Today, I feel quite saturated. I’ve just come home from visiting 40 children who come to kidz klub, plus their parents, older siblings, younger siblings, friends, friends’ parents, etc… I’ve met a lot of people tonight. I’ve walked a lot of streets. But it’s not a one-off; I rode these streets on a bus on Saturday, collecting and returning children. I was there again on Monday visiting older siblings. Yesterday I spent the evening with those siblings just down the road. On Saturday I’ll see them and the cycle will begin all over again.

I enjoyed today. This bizarre Indian summer weather meant that people were outside, they were happy, and leant a feeling of hope to the beginning of term. I enjoyed playing with children and chatting with parents. I loved meeting new people who were positive about kidz klub. Everything went well and I came home satisfied and happy. Is that why I feel I own these streets tonight, because I’m happy on them? What about when summer fades? When it’s wet and windy, or when someone breaks into the car, or takes issue with something that happened on Saturday? Will I still own these streets then? How deep does my compassion run?

I’ve been thinking recently about where I live, and why I’m here. I am part of a group of people who have all been drawn to this place, to this geographical location for a purpose. There are as many different purposes as there are people in the group. But what is my purpose? Why did I choose to move to this run-down part of town that used to be beautiful, in a crumbling house, with neighbours from every walk of life but my own? The story is a long one that runs far back, but ultimately my purpose is this: to love broken people.

Broken people aren’t always nice. They aren’t always happy to see a person of light. They don’t always feel positive and friendly. I am a broken person, I should know. But in my brokenness I have found a hope and a love that comes from beyond me. I may be afflicted in every way, but I am not crushed; I may be perplexed but not driven to despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down but never destroyed. My brokenness has been and is being healed by love.

May the saturation continue, in good times and bad. May I continue to look beyond what my eyes can see to the world just beyond this one. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

I sprinkled a couple of bible references from 1 Corinthians 4 in there- can you find them? I’ve got lots more to say about them in a blog I’ve been meaning to write for a couple of weeks, so watch this space for the details.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

A Perfect Afternoon

I was lost in an old world, revisiting times gone by in a book about the Message Trust, a quality bunch of people who shaped my teenage years and are probably responsible for the place in which I find myself today.

"Beep-beep, beep-beep"

A text message brought me back to the present day. Relaxed on my bed, an autumn sun was streaming through the window. Colbie Caillat was playing bubbly, hopeful music. The name on the text made me smile. Today, life is good.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

What's in a name?

I have spent this morning exploring the meaning of my name. I was inspired to find it out after reading this devotion about identity. It's all about the meaning of my brother's name, so I thought I would have a look into my own!

It seems odd that at the age of 24 I've never really done this before. The trouble is that on the surface Rebecca (or Rebekah) seems to have a fairly unpleasant meaning. I've looked at the character in the Bible but tended to steer clear of the actual meaning of the word. However a couple of years ago a friend of mine came out with this amazing interpretation that actually made it sound quite nice! I wish I could remember how he put it. But it inspired me today to seek out that side- it has to be out there somewhere!

There are two short, sharp, no-frills interpretations of the Hebrew for "Rebekah". The first is "ensnarer" (I had known it before as "bound"), and the second is "fat, fattened; a quarrel appeased". My name means "fattened"! There are people who have tried to do this to me(!) so maybe it was prophetic after all. Jokes.

Once I got over the fat bit, I guess "a quarrel appeased" is a pretty good meaning! It's all about bringing peace and bringing people together. I do have a knack for bringing people from different circles into the same room, and I'm not one for arguing. I'll take that.

The alternative interpretation of "ensnarer" is captivating. I will leave it to others to decide whether that is true or not. Another lovely little article suggests the word "secured" which I think I like best. It also says this:
Within this name lies the notion that individuals are placed together by something higher or smarter than they.
I like that notion.

Rebecca. Peacemaker. Secured. Fattened. It has a certain ring to it...

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Walking Home

It is dark, but not cold. It’s warm enough that I can walk home with just a light t-shirt and not feel the chill. The streets, so familiar by day, seem strange and unknown in the dark. The pavements are patched up with tarmac that gleams under the streetlights and its inhabitants are almost entirely unisex, the women having gone indoors long before dusk. Only a trio of girls whose mothers believe they are at a friend’s house and a lady out drinking with her man and his mates buck the trend. There is an aroma of fine spices and the faint sound of Asian music. Shops that were weathered and empty this morning are now lit up and filled with people in their best finery, feasting and celebrating. I am not in some far-off country but in Harehills, Leeds, a neighbourhood homing representatives of almost any other nation you could name.

I’m walking home. I notice the strangeness, feel a little alien on the streets. I enjoy the freedom of walking alone but there’s a slight thrill, a sense of danger and I’m glad my mother believes that I am at a friend’s house too. This may be “my” country, but these are not my streets. Not because I’m white; some of those out tonight have British ancestors far out-dating my own; but because I’m green. I’m new. It’s still strange to me. I pass two men standing in a bus stop in long kurta robes. I turn off the main road and meet the smell of alcohol as a group sit in their yard drinking beer. A bunch of noisy youths cross in front of me and finally it comes into view, and then I am there: home. The gate squeaks, the door clatters open and closed again and the strangeness is gone, locked outside on a warm, dark night.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Climbing off my rocker

"Worry is like a rocking chair-- it gives you something to do but it doesn't get you anywhere."

I am just coming to the end of a lovely week off. It feels a little bit naughty because it wasn't really for any occasion, but it's my first full week off since Christmas so I decided I deserved it. My plan was that while I had all this lovely free time I would write a whole list of blog posts that have been waiting to come out. Instead I slept in lots at the beginning of the week and then got up very early for busy things at the end of the week. So it didn't really work out, and tomorrow I have to be busy and working again so here is my last evening of "freedom".

It's funny actually, what difference a state of mind makes. In real life I have quite a lot of days off and work less than 30 hours in the average week, but those days don't feel like holiday because I have other responsibilities, other things to think about, deadlines hanging over me. Tomorrow I won't do anything I'm being paid for, but I have a full day's work and it's definitely not holiday. I'm learning that there will always be a to-do list, there will always be deadlines, but sometimes I have to put those things away and relax. It's difficult with my working pattern but I'm getting there, slowly.

About the working pattern. I swing between extremes of being desperate for the routine of a regular contract, and dreading the day I ever find myself in one. At the minute I'm enjoying the flexibility of life and the idea of a 9-5 job is horrifying, but as soon as I've written that I'm liable to change my mind. It recently struck me that I do live every week without the guarantee of a single hour's work, but I never doubt that it will come and I guess it's all just a part of living by faith. It's trust.

Every time I think about my life I want to post that song, Trust, again. This year more than any other I have learned that all I can ever do is in God's strength. The week before my break was a particularly difficult one- I had two new SLT clients to meet and no idea what to do with them; long hours of work; awkward situations with friends; a leaky basement that had me up every four hours through the night to empty a bucket and consequent discussions with our landlord. Every day I found that I knew Jesus was with me, I knew that he would take me through the situation and out the other side, but still I was really, really anxious to the extent that I wasn't in a very good mood for most of the week (except for a little while after each obstacle had been faced and overcome...)

So I have a new challenge. I have learned (am still learning) to trust from my spirit, my "know-er" as someone once called it. I know from experience and crazy blind faith that my God loves me and doesn't ask me to do what he won't equip me for. The challenge now is to deal with all that unnecessary worry that doesn't change anything other than the quality of my day and those unfortunate enough to cross my path.
"The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

We never stop learning, hey?

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Rush Hour

Wow! I haven't posted for a long time, but it seems this blog has been getting more traffic in the past couple of months than it ever did when it was regularly updated. Maybe I should start again. I've been learning plenty of lessons in the past few months that I might have a few snippets of interest to share with you!

Tuesday speech therapy day has morphed into Monday and Wednesday speech therapy days, and I am now weekly resident SLT in a local school, which is lots of fun but comes with it's own trials and challenges! I'm still holding on to that trust, that God has everything under control. I certainly don't.

When there aren't hundreds of bank holidays everywhere, life has even settled into a bit of a rhythm, which is nice. There are always new challenges and I always could be doing more, but I have come to realise that actually, no one has ever 'made it' and reached that place in their life where everything is learned and achieved and it all feels doable, so I'm certainly not going to get there in my twenties!

I have also made my first ever batch of flapjack! It wasn't as good as my mum's (too much golden syrup and overcooked by a few minutes) but definitely the start of a family trait. Watch this space.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The Wednesday Lull

Tuesdays are messy days. Every Tuesday when I finally drag myself up to my room to fall into bed I see the sight that awaits me and exclaim, "I hate Tuesdays!" You see, Tuesday is speech therapy day. My office, resource room, storage facility, everything, is the little box room in the attic that doubles up as a bedroom for the rest of the week. Everything lives on top of my wardrobe (which has not collapsed under the weight... yet. I live in constant fear that one day it will). On Tuesdays, everything has to come down from the wardrobe to travel to one or other appointment. The printer and laminator have to come out to create some last-minute resources. And several outfits have to be tried on to find something that matches and looks professional. Which makes for a big mess in a small room. Tuesday evening is students night so it's pretty late by the time I finally retire to bed, by which time my only energy is to clear space enough to crawl under the covers and fall straight to sleep, and the problem is put off for another day.

Today I tidied, mostly. I really need to organise, more than tidy, but that will have to wait. An office would be lovely, but I fear that will have to wait even longer. So for now I carry on, and if I'm still here next week maybe I'll take a step closer to sensibility. Maybe.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Making me a mountain

This song is my theme tune at the moment. When everything's on top of me, I remind myself of the outcome- I am becoming a mountain that cannot be shaken. Beautiful song.

It's the sweetest thing
To trust you
Just to know
You got everything under control

It's the sweetest thing
To trust you
Just to know
You got everything

You are making me a mountain,
Making me a mountain that cannot be shaken

You are making me a mountain,
Making me a mountain that cannot be moved

High up on a rock
Looking out at the horizon
Watching as the storm rolls in
Wondering if my heart will survive it

As the waves crash all around me
And can't remember what it feels like to be free

I know You're making me a mountain
Making me a mountain that cannot be shaken

You are making me a mountain
Making me a mountain that cannot be moved

You say, I've got you my baby, oh I've got you
It's quite the mess you're in but it's nothing Love can't fix
So sit here upon my shoulders and watch as it all unwinds

You are making me a mountain
Making me a mountain that cannot be shaken

I know You're making me a mountain,
Making me a mountain that cannot be moved

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

I've always been a late starter...

I wrote this on my way to Sheffield to bring in the new year with some very good friends of mine. At the time I didn't think it warranted posting but as we begin the second month of this year already, maybe it's worth acknowledging that the old one has passed. Here goes...

So, it's the end of 2010.
I'm not really ready for this year to end I don't think, but it's ending so I guess I better get on with it. I kind of hoped I'd be ready for life by the time 2011 rolled around, but here I am still floating. So what has 2010 held for me?

January: I returned to Leeds to work on the bank, apply for jobs and live in Eden. And that's just what I did- worked lots, lived with Scot and Andy, and tried to catch up with a world that had changed almost beyond recognition when I left it in aug 09.

February: Kidz klub came around. I met this crazy American girl who shared my name. Lots of girls group events where only 'older ones' came. The Eden era ended and I moved to Ben & Hannah's house.

March: How long will I be staying? I made half-hearted attempts to find somewhere to live, but not really. I visited Kidz klub and discovered that it really was as good in real life as it looked on the video. Applied immediately and had my first week on team on matt's 21st birthday. Went on a mission to buy American foods for the occasion.

April: Easter rolled round and still no house, still no job. Decided to stay put til July- the Jones's were wonderful and continued to put up with me. Other than that I don't really remember... maybe started bible studies with Becca K? She fast became a very special friend.

May: Still working, still at Kidz klub. A growing desire to live somewhere that I could continue Kidz klub work as I got to know and love the kids in the neighbourhood more and more. My birthday=anticlimax

June: Jess & Ben got married; that day the Harehills home plan was hatched. I got an email from Pete Larkum about this project called the Challenge in London- thought I may as well apply and got the job with a week or two notice! Maj & Seb got married and moved to London, but before that I stayed with Amy r and went to their party. Oh, also stayed with JC one time- random!

July: The Challenge! Four crazy weeks in London with inner-city gangsta teens learning enterprise skills that no-one wanted. Lots of fun but I never want to live in the capital long-term. Stayed with M&S to finish.

August: Catch up month. Leah got married; M:Powered happened and I spent awesome times with Rach Munn. Worked lots to make up for 5 weeks off. Lived in ore's flat and house-hunted like crazy. Moved to Harehills!

September: by far the most ridiculous month. New housemates, weekends in London (staying with Tim & Chloe, Maj & Seb), working, Kidz klub visits, students, german. Insane.

October: back to Saturday kk with no Becca- sad! But still hectic. I did PMVA training only to find Ruth B on the same 5-day course! Ben came to stay in half term for a birthday treat then I went home. Began to settle back into weekly church attendance after months of weekend youth work.

November: Bonfire night is my favourite of the year! We went to Roundhay then had a party at ours. Space started and I'm fairly sure I broke my toe. First night shift at Parkwood. Started doing SLT for Anne franklin. Started attending intensive interaction cafe. It snowed, lots.

December: More snow, more speech therapy, more work! We gave out hampers and Kidz klub wound up. I caught flu, then stayed at brian's house for a week, all throughout 2 weeks of solid work. Came home for Christmas, dad was ill, matt trapped in Kenosha, but all came good in the end. New year in Sheffield...

Wow, who knew all that could happen in just one year! There's lots more detail that has been left out. I guess maybe I am ready for the new year now. It's been a long one but I have come full circle and I'm back to the focused position I was last year, if a little tireder and hopefully more wise. What am I looking forward to this year?

• More speech therapy, in whatever guise it presents itself.
• Building some more long-term friendships with people outside of an organised setting. Building up a network that is relationship-based.
• Weddings! Lauren, Tilley, Andy, Mike & Amy. How many more?!
• Community.
• Calling home more. Calling people more. One month I'd like to run out of minutes, just because I'm talking to people lots.
• Making time to visit people and receive visitors. Practicing hospitality.
• Loving Jesus more than I think possible at the moment!!