Wednesday, 28 December 2011
OR, do we take what is right before us in our own backyard and sink our lives into what is already given to us, enter into the intricacies, the endless organic relationships that make up this world and live in this world"
(Eugene Peterson, 'Eat this Book', p.43)
Tuesday, 27 December 2011
Friday, 23 December 2011
Christmas. It seems harder and harder to relate the craziness of the festive season here in the UK, with what it's meant to be about. I know I'm not saying anything new here... I've just found this year even harder than others to focus on Jesus at all. The One in heaven gives up all his glory and beauty to become more than ordinary, unrecognised, born into a simple life. While our decorations/gifts/celebrations seem to become more and more excessive. Excess. That is the word. When I battle my way through the frantic shoppers filling the streets of Brighton or go online, or see any TV, all I can think is that advertising companies are having a field day. We're meant to be in 'crisis' but I'm not sure that the queues in shops are any shorter. Consumerism is God. And I am as guilty as the next. Not that giving gifts is bad... and, Yes, it's great to celebrate, and yes, Scrooge did need to learn a lesson - but that was about relationship at the end of the day anyways, wasn't it? And it is great to be with family and friends... but even that can feel a little too much, or a little fake, at times.
Christmas seems to highlight the stark differences in peoples' lives. I have to say i feel overwhelmed (and thankful) at the richness of my life - the amount of cards we've received, the invites we've had, the Christmas meals and parties we've attended. For some it's the loneliest time of the year. The other day, just before going to have one of the tastiest roasts in ages with some wonderful people, I walked through the train station. I passed two little children crying hysterically, caught between their father and their mother, who was very drunk. What will Christmas be like for them? What will Christmas be like for people in the Phillipines, in Syria, in all the places around the world where peace seems so far away?
argh can you tell my head is a bit befuzzled. I don't know what direction to come at this from, and what to take away with me. I don't know how to celebrate Christmas in a way that makes it more meaningful. I don't know how to do things differently when there is so much tradition and expectation tied in with it. I don't know what to give. to Him. O God Forgive me if I've become to busy to stop, to remember, and to give my heart.
Thursday, 15 December 2011
What I didn't mention in the post about the Beach Huts and the lost sheep, was the Morris Dancers that added to the evenings entertainment (probably a bit of a surprise for the evening joggers!). Well, what more could you want? Apart from the mulled wine and mini lamb burgers that were served to willing chilly observers!
Now I have to be honest here. At some points during these events, I've wondered what on earth I was doing there. With the greatest respect to other poets, and people who take the risk to share their thoughts and words with others, I have to admit that I often found myself counting down the minutes to when they would get off the stage. I know that's an awful thing to say, but it's true. I don't want to be critical, at the same time I'd be lying if I said I enjoyed every minute of these poetry nights. Sometimes I don't understand about 70% of what is said - and forgive me if this is down to my literary ignorance. Sometimes (often) I just don't want to hear about people's deepest darkest sexual fantasies or how much they hate life. It's pretty draining when the majority of what is said is hopeless, depressing and often anti-God and other things I do believe in. Sometimes the words used are not clever, just crude.
AND WHAT IS POETRY ANYWAYS??!!!!!
And all this leaves me feeling torn... between never wanting to attend a poetry events again, and being even more determined to share my words, which often carry a different message, one more full of hope, of love, of seeing things from a different perspective. And I don't wish to blow my own trumpet - the words I use are simple, my vocabulary is limited, I don't have a lot of knowledge on poets of the past or politics of today. I am nothing special. But I believe in someone who is the Original Word, and for that reason there are I believe I must speak. And if it's only for the reason that the 'ordinary person' in the audience will understand this poem, even if everything else has gone over their head, then perhaps it's worth it. I might be wrong, I might be boring the pants of everyone, I might come across as pretentious (PLEASE tell me if so!!!), but I feel I must at least give this thing a go.
Having said all that, there are other times when I'm totally blown away by the skill and the message and the passion of poets I see and hear. These are the ones who inspire me to write more and write better and put my heart and soul into it. These are the ones I'm so thankful are 'on the mic', the ones whose words are changing and challenging people and situations. These are the prophets the world needs to hear. The ones that make us laugh and cry and stop for a moment to ponder, to reconsider.
So I guess that's what I'm doing this for. But if it becomes about my own fame, or claiming a soapbox just to talk about me, or just another voice saying what everyone else is saying... then please stop me!
Yesterday I read this out in a beach hut on Brighton seafront, accompanied by lightning flashing over the sea and cold cold wind. The hut was decorated with knitted sheep. Obviously. Ha ha! It was part of the Beach Hut Advent Calendar that's been happening for the last few years. And the theme for my friends' hut was 'The Lost Sheep', a story from the Bible about a farmer who leaves his 99 sheep to look for sheep number 100 who'd gone missing. So this... is about that:
If it were me
If it were me, I’m not sure I’d even notice that one was missing.
If it were me, would I see the one slipping out the back door, or would I be too caught up in pleasing the faces on the front row?
If it were me, would I risk leaving the gathering even if I was the reason behind it?
If it were me, would I step out of the warm light and into the cold darkness to search for a single soul?
If it were me, would I deem finding ‘that one’ worth the possibility of losing the respect of others?
And when I finally found the one that was lost, would I throw a party to beat all other parties?!
Thankfully – that story is not about me. (Unless, perhaps, I am the sheep?)
Thankfully that farmer does not comply with earthly measures of worth, nor the supposed wisdom of man.
His eye is drawn to the empty space at the table and His heart will not rest ‘til all are present.
He will wonder after the one that wanders and He will risk everything to find the one whose name everyone else forgot.
Sunday, 4 December 2011
It could have been the rarely-worn too-high-heels in an attempt to add some glamour to my shabby Brighton 'look'
It could have been the leaving-the-house-in-a-rush-thing that I cannot seem to avoid (made even worse by the heels)
It could have been the nasty voice that whispers in my ear encouraging me to compare myself with those around me - and come up short
It could have been the end of a full-on-non-stop week colliding with those mystical hormones
...Out of the blue you revert to awkward-full-of-insecurity-teenage self for no good reason (like someone asking me 'what i DO' - I HATE THAT QUESTION!, and someone confusing me with my twin sister...NO ONE'S DONE THAT SINCE WE WERE ABOUT 12!) and suddenly I'm 11, left out of the popular group at school, wishing I were somebody else, digging nails into hands wanting the ground to swallow me whole, becoming all 'prickly', displaying this whole range of emotion on my face for all to see... fully knowing I am being ridiculous, and embarrassing myself and my friends.
And I'm fully aware even my description is over-dramatic, and after having cried most of the looong train journey home, AND most of this morning(!) I reckon my fourth explanation of tiredness and hormones are most probably to blame. But, the whole thing still took me by surprise, because I've not felt like that in a while, and I'm kinda gutted because I thought maybe by now I'd be over the awkwardness of pre/during/post adolescent years. But can't dwell on it, this I know. Again and again am being reminded how very human we are, and that we're all learning, all the time, no matter how 'sorted' we may believe ourselves to be.
And Thank God I have a God who loves me despite all this. (And a husband who married me because I'm weird, and doesn't run away when I cry all over him!!)
Saturday, 26 November 2011
Why not sit on the floor
Why not write on the wall
Why not play music loud
Why not stand out from the crowd
Why not dye your hair pink
Why not get covered in ink
Why not laugh at full volume
Why not rearrange the room
Why not be like a child
Why not do something wild
Why not colour outside line
Why not let yourself shine
Why not walk barefeet
Why not dance in the street
Why not sing on the train
Why not waltz in the rain
Why not go to the party
Why not do something arty
Why not stay up all night
Why not wear something bright
Why not watch the sunrise
Why not stop telling lies
Why not dance on the table
Why not king in a stable
Why not swim in the sea
Why not invite them for tea
Why not welcome them in
Why not open the tin
Why not fill it with flowers
Why not stop counting down hours
Why not a proper hug
Why not crumbs on the rug
Why not tell them what you’re thinking
Why not save her from sinking
Why not kiss him in public
Why not deny the semantic
Why not breakfast in bed
Why not make love instead
Why not share a big smile
Why not walk the extra mile
Why not taste all the dishes
Why not pray for your wishes
Why not go somewhere new
Why not stop buying shoes
Why not climb to the top
Why not remember to stop
Why not collect shells
Why not ring out the bells
Why not stand up for truth
Why not shout it from the roof
Why not believe you can fly
Why not let yourself cry
Why not give time for grief
Why not embrace the new leaf
Why not be very still
Why not forget about the bill
Why not stand on the edge
Why not jump over the hedge
Why not wait for the dawn
Why not throw away your porn
Why not stay till the end
Why not watch her heart mend
Why not photo the clouds
Why not shrug off the shrouds
Why not lay down the worry
why not dare to say sorry
Why not leave behind pride
Why not just enjoy the ride
Thursday, 24 November 2011
Tuesday, 22 November 2011
Thursday, 17 November 2011
Well it's two months since we tied the knot, and we've finally got internet in our flat, so thought it was about time for an update. Part of me thinks, 'what, only two months?!' - feels like we've been married for a lot longer... and another part of me still feels like we're pretending and I'll wake up from this dream. I think part of the surreal-ness is having our own place - after two years of living in other people's houses, and student housing before that - this feels like a massive treat! Although the people I've lived with have all been brilliant, I am loving living somewhere that's really my home, somewhere I'm quite content to spend Sunday afternoons in, somewhere I can have people over whenever I like, and sharing all this with MY HUSBAND!! :-)
I still can't quite believe I am a wife. I look at the ring on my finger in surprise. I wonder if people can tell as I walk down the street. Do I look different? I have to admit I find it slightly awkward telling people my new name - especially the Mrs part - mainly because I know I look and sound younger than I am, and I wait for the surprised responses. Not that I should care about what other people think, but I am aware that being married by 25 is not that common anymore, I certainly wasn't expecting it for myself. But, life is full of surprises and I am glad glad glad for this one.
Lots of people warned us that the first year of marriage is the hardest - and perhaps it will be - and although I'm not going to pretend it'll be easy all the time, I also don't want to accept that it will be defined by how difficult it is to bring two lives together. I want to keep focussed on all the good even amongst struggles, and that's for all of our lives, not just the marriage part. Easier said than done, I realise, but a good aim, no?
It's hard when little misunderstandings and different ways of doing things become big things and for a while we are silent and frustrated and feel somewhat divided. But it's GREAT when we get over ourselves, talk about it, see it from each other's point of view, hug, and get back to being united, perhaps even a little bit more than before.
And being unemployed has been hard and depressing at times, but at the same time I am really grateful for the time it gave me to do all the other life-admin bits and bobs, to have more time with Mr Q, and also to have time to recover from a crazy busy year.
Unemployment comes with money worries, which can be one of the most destructive things, but we have seen such amazing provision and have always had enough. We're learning to trust God, and each other more. We learn what things we can do without, and then feel so very grateful when we receive something unexpectedly. Like a job!! woo hoo!
And the job may not be my dream, but again, after time without work, and hearing so much on the news about unemployment, I am so thankful for those hours of cleaning, caring and administration!!
And sometimes the fact that I am still in Brighton after 6 years frustrates me, and I can't see quite why, and I am restless and impatient and longing for adventure and to be on the move. Yet, Brighton is full of countless good things that I know we'll miss when we do one day 'set sail'. So for now here's to deepening relationships, being hospitable, working hard and learning from our jobs, enjoying the sea, and getting more piercings, tattoos and crazy haircuts. haha!
SO yeh I guess a whole lot about how we go through life is about perspective, and I'm speaking as someone who is very easily swayed by circumstances, hormones, weather, well pretty much anything AND nothing! So it's a big challenge for me, but one that I'm battling with - especially as now I am doing life alongside someone I love and who loves me and the way I view things and the way i feel can have a huge impact on him and on us.
Thursday, 20 October 2011
(dancing out the church to DJ Fresh's LOUDER)
Our photos were taken by our friend Laurence, of Glass Wedding Photography. We're more than happy with the photos (and they are the one thing I'm rather fussy about!!) and would definitely recommend his creative eye and subtle, non-intrusive style.
Monday, 10 October 2011
I’m intending on writing more details about everything over the next few weeks, which some of you may be interested in, and some not, but either way...I hope you’re all reading this: if you were involved in any way with our wedding, be it driving miles to get here, setting up tables, making origami birds, sending us a letter, making a cake, etc, etc let me just say the biggest THANK YOU from Mr Q and me, we really can’t say it enough. We were overwhelmed by people’s generosity and kindness. It’s a privilege and a pleasure to have friends and family like you. X x x (and don’t worry Mum, in case you think we were trying to get away with not doing them... thank you letters WILL be coming... soon....!!)
ahhh look at those shiny happy faces! ;-)
Tuesday, 13 September 2011
Thursday, 8 September 2011
BUT IN EVERYTHING
BY PRAYER AND PETITION
PRESENT YOUR REQUESTS TO GOD
AND THE PEACE OF GOD
WHICH TRANSCENDS ALL UNDERSTANDING
WILL GUARD YOUR HEARTS AND YOUR MINDS
IN CHRIST JESUS
Friday, 26 August 2011
Monday, 22 August 2011
It's less than 4 weeks 'til we tie the knot. Mental. That's not quite sunk in yet. Neither has the fact that I can't keep on putting off making decisions like music/flowers/makeup/etc. Yes I realise most brides would have had these down a good while ago. But I am not most brides! But I am getting down to business, really I am. Today I even hired some chairs and tables for the guests. Go me! :-) Haha don't panic one and all... everything will come together, and I'm (hopefully) not being blase about it - I am aware that there's a fair bit to do, and now that English teaching work is drying up, I'm prepared to get my rear into gear!
"THE MIND GOVERNED BY THE SPIRIT IS LIFE AND PEACE" romans 8.6
Tuesday, 16 August 2011
Constant asking and being asked, thinking, worrying, dreaming, scheming, wondering and worrying a little bit more...
Often struggling to trust
Doubting that everything will work out in the end. Which bit is the end? And will we even live to see it?
COMMIT TO THE LORD EVERYTHING YOU DO AND YOUR PLANS WILL SUCCEED (Proverbs 16.3 NIV)
Because I’m a Christian everything I do will go well? Perhaps not...
Meaning... A cursory mention of the one above and like a lucky charm we’ll hold onto promises that perhaps we’ve interpreted to fit our needs, stamping our plans with the approval of words we put into God’s mouth...rather than letting him speak. Have we turned his name into superstition?
To COMMIT means to entrust, to let someone else take charge, a handing over of control... so our plans become His...a surrender to the bigger picture where we are not the main character on the stage. An uncomfortable idea, yet comforting too, knowing that He holds our burdens as well as our dreams in hands that show the signs of a love too deep to describe
But does that then mean we just sit back, willing God’s will without getting up from the sofa – as if His will is a conveyor belt, as it doesn’t really involve us... letting God ‘get on with his business’ while we get on with ours, losing ourselves in things that have little eternal consequences
We talk about following God – when we follow someone we’ve got to know where they are going, watch out for the twists and turns as they wind a path in front of you. It requires knowing something of the One we are following, so that when their back disappears from view, we have a sense of the direction in which they might head
“Jesus always calls us to move forwards and we find ourselves battling with the desire to settle for a quiet life. The Lord calls us to journey with him in order to settle the land. The call is to respond to the cry of creation, to fill it with the presence of the Lord” *
Perhaps, then we walk with and not behind... walk with Him in the garden in the cool of the day... walk and talk and share and learn and BE together...
Perhaps, then we are not just puppets on a string or chess pieces on a board, being manipulated by a heavenly hand.
Perhaps it’s more like an orchestra... he the conductor and each of us with a different part to play.
With full freedom to deviate from the score, and make mistakes...and the wonder, the miracle of it is in the way he turns these accidents, squeaks, crashes and broken strings, or even wilful out-of-tune notes and use them to create a masterpiece... thank God it’s not a solo piece we’re playing! Thank God His grace and creativity reach to the farthest stretches of the universe...
Commit your works to the LORD
And your plans will be established (Proverbs 16.3 NASB)
So perhaps the best plan we could make is to find ways by which the symphony can be heard in even the darkest, most silent corners of the earth, and to encourage the broken, the hurting, the angry and the cynics to pick up their instruments and begin to play along
"The call is to respond to the cry of creation, to fill it with the presence of the Lord”.
THERE IS NO WISDOM, NO INSIGHT, NO PLAN THAT CAN SUCCEED AGAINST THE LORD (Proverbs 21.30 NIV)
And the Lord is... Love. The Lord is a God of righteousness and justice. The Lord is mercy and grace. The Lord is compassion. The Lord is life.
Nothing clever, nothing conceived, nothing contrived,
can get the better of GOD. (Proverbs 21.30 The Message)
Perhaps today it might feel like a plan has failed. perhaps today the ending isn’t a happy one. But perhaps today we only see a fraction of the picture, a mere line of the entire story. And perhaps the ending, in the very end – which will also be a beginning - will be all the more wonderful because of such lines.
*Can't remember where this quote is from, found it written on a piece of paper!
Sunday, 14 August 2011
Wednesday, 3 August 2011
I had some great conversations with someone who also did the Tesol course and who had already trained and worked as a 'real teacher' for several years. Mmm good conversations can be like food, nourishing your bones and making you feel content, yet hungry for more. Lucy and I had some great chats about all kinds of things on the bus from Witney to Oxford via Eynsham, and for them I was very grateful. :-)
During our course we observed others teach and we commented on how some people just seemed to have 'the knack' (even if their skills weren't honed by experience yet). Interestingly those people were also the ones we were drawn to in terms of wanting to hang out with them. Perhaps it was the warmth and sensitivity that they demonstrated when relating to all people, regardless of the situation. Basically they were good to be around and immediately likeable. Which brings me to the question of whether this is important with regards teaching. How important is it to be liked by your students? Is it necessary for effective learning? Does it even matter or make a difference?
Sensitivity is a funny thing, and as a pretty sensitive person I've often struggled with the mix of positive and negative effects it can have on my thoughts, feelings and point of view. A good teacher needs to be sensitive to the needs of the students and willing to adapt to them - it's about the learners after all, not the teacher, as we were often reminded on the course! This requires awareness and intuition. I think I'm fairly good at reading people and situations however my problem comes in how personally I take these observations. One roll of the eyes or slouch in the chair and I'm panicking - is my lesson too boring? Too easy? Have I spent too long on this point? Am I being annoying? Do they dislike me? AM I A BAD TEACHER?!
"Am I a bad teacher?" Now that should be my main concern, but to be honest perhaps I do end up worrying more about whether or not I am liked. Does being liked = good teacher? No, not necessarily. And neither does being disliked or disagreed with necessarily mean you're a bad teacher. So I know it's silly to care so much about what people think of me (and this is an issue that exists ouside the classroom just as much as in) - but I wonder how you stop caring yet remain sensitive and retain a degree of warmth? There are many people who don't give a toss about others opinion and who probably teach well but to be honest I'd really rather not have a personality like theirs, which I'd often describe as intimidating, cold or unapproachable.
So do I put on an act, somehow leave 'me', or the deeper parts of me, at the door and pretend to be thicker skinned than I am? Speak with authority even though I'm shaking inside? I have heard people say it's all an act... Actually a few people remarked to me how well I seem to be coping. I laughed and said I just cry when no one's watching. Which is true - I cried nearly every day during the past two weeks. It's also a lie, some people did see me cry, just not the students or other teachers (yet! haha!)
I'm sure I'm not the first to wonder how you gain people's respect and manage to build rapport with them without being a pushover but without being a bitch/male version of bitch either! The middle way is not obvious to me and I envy those who walk it with ease. I may be 'teacher' but I certainly have a lot to learn...
I have been a teacher for a full 2 weeks and 3 days now. Well, a teacher of English I should say. Somehow I feel the need to clarify that I am not what I'd still call a 'real teacher', i.e. PGCE, secondary school, class full of kids to teach/control. I do think their job is a whole lot harder and I don't think I could do it. I feel I've cheated the system somewhat - doing just a five week course and then heading straight to the front of a room full of foreign students for several hours a day, armed with board markers and not much else (it feels to me!).
Having said that, I cannot let you assume that I'm finding this a 'breeze'. Yes, I really enjoyed the Tesol course and yes, I suppose I felt quite confident throughout it that this was something I could do, and potentially do well. That may still be the case, however I am far from reaching that 'doing well' place. Unfortunately. It really isn't very comfortable to feel so out of ones depth every day! I feel a bit of a fraud and fear this feeling shows through! Really I'm just a 20-something-year-old who happens to be English and would rather be your friend than tell you what to do.
I've tried disguising my age and inexperience (and attempting to distinguish myself from the Spanish/German/Swiss students) by dressing up 'smart'. But this in itself is proving rather a challenge when ones wardrobe consists mainly of jeans, hoodies, or clothes with holes in. I might manage the heels and tighter-fitting-trousers-than-normal, but the chipped bright pink nail varnish that I forgot to remove, the mismatched earrings and the messy hair slightly detract from my sophisticated look. Ah well. It would be a big challenge to fit this chick into any kind of corporate box, she's realising more and more!
more thoughts on teaching to come... didn't want to overwhelm y'all with the mass of ponderations that have been bubbling away under the surface as I dash from classroom to classroom trying not to drop my papers all over the floor...
Tuesday, 2 August 2011
* RESTING with my family in our favourite place
* Louise and Jana's wedding, especially sitting in the sun watching all the boys play cricket to the soundtrack of some reggae and then later when everyone was dancing together - Sri Lankans in their Saris, Essex family in short dresses, and London friends in a whole array of styles and colour... happy times :-)
* Staying an extra, unexpected night in one of those houses that make you feel immediately welcome and at peace... and breakfast on the sunshiney terrace in the morning accompanied by inspiring conversations.
* swimming in the sea. always.
* Lauren having a beautiful baby girl, and Rachael getting engaged.
Thursday, 14 July 2011
After the Storm (Mumford & Sons)
And after the storm,
I run and run as the rains come
And I look up, I look up,
on my knees and out of luck,
I look up.
Night has always pushed up day
You must know life to see decay
But I won't rot, I won't rot
Not this mind and not this heart,
I won't rot.
And I took you by the hand
And we stood tall,
And remembered our own land,
What we lived for.
And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.
And now I cling to what I knew
I saw exactly what was true
But oh no more.
That's why I hold,
That's why I hold with all I have.
That's why I hold.
I will die alone and be left there.
Well I guess I'll just go home,
Oh God knows where.
Because death is just so full and mine so small.
Well I'm scared of what's behind and what's before.
And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.
And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair
Friday, 8 July 2011
a couple of weeks ago, as part of my training for the swim, and cuz i was a bit stressed out, went for a long bike ride. Can't believe I've never really properly explored the countryside beyond where I live. It's rather lovely in the evening sunshine. Something about long, straight, empty roads and blue sky...
Tuesday, 5 July 2011
woo hoo we did it! And in about 25 minutes which I was quite surprised at. The sea was calm and it was a beautiful day so really enjoyed it.
PS Thanks to those who sponsored us, we raised about £300 for FareShare. Woop!
Friday, 1 July 2011
I know that worrying solves nothing
I know that I don't want worry or fear to be what dictates my decisions and feelings
I know that my God can feed 5,000 people with just a few fish and loaves of bread
I know that I am His child and He gives good things to His children
I know that I am fortunate enough to have people around who will help out if worst comes to worst
YET... I still often find myself carrying a knot of anxiety in my stomach, wondering if things will work out, carrying burdens I have told other people so many times to lay down. I worry we will not be able to save enough money over the summer to get us somewhere to live once we're married. I worry that the wedding will not be what I hoped it would be. I worry I will let people down. I worry I'll let myself down. I worry about worrying.
oh man! I am so human. and on another day I'd laugh at myself. And I know I'll look back and say what a waste of time and life that worrying was.
And even in the midst of this, He continually shows His kindness. We unexpectedly received some money from a relative the other day, which is such a blessing. And this morning I read something in Matthew that i swear I've never seen before, even though I've read the book several times. I guess Peter was worrying about paying the bills, and Jesus says look the authorities 'ain't got nothing on us' - or words to that effect - 'but just so you know God's still looking out for you, go catch a fish and there'll be the money to pay in the fish's mouth'. So He can provide in all sorts of unexpected ways!! And I'm sorry once again for doubting.
So. Perhaps 100 times a day, if I need to, I will try and 'lay it down'. To breathe deeply and be grateful for what I do have. And chose to live in the today.
Tuesday, 28 June 2011
so this may or may not be a sensible way to spend the final weekend of the course... but this Sunday I will be swimming around Brighton's West Pier. And the reason is... well partly for the challenge, partly to accompany my friend Helen, but mainly to raise money for FareShare Brighton and Hove, the food redistribution project about which I wrote a few weeks ago.
The swim is 1km, I'm not sure how long it's going to take us! Please do sponsor us, the cause is a great one. Go to our Just Giving page here.
Friday, 24 June 2011
Life and death. Old and new. Finding and losing. Giving and taking. Winter, spring, summer and autumn. Joy and grief. Celebration and mourning. All of this, a part of the journey we call life.
All in the past week or two:
One of my mum's best friends has died of cancer, leaving a son who's a little younger than me. 'It's not fair'. 'Fair' doesn't really exist on this side of death, I'm beginning to think. Although we do a good job of pretending, or of trying to make it our right. But we are not invincible. Who knows what will happen tomorrow? So... even more reason to embrace today. She was only 50-something and will leave a big gap in many people's lives. A gap. A loss. An empty space. Nothing can fill those spaces. In the past, when I've left a place and gone somewhere new I've tried to fit new friends into the spaces of old friends. "Oh, you're just like so and so...". But it doesn't work like that, does it?
On the other end of the spectrum, my friends Adele and Larry have had a baby called Talitha. New life, a new person, so exciting... the 9 months of waiting make it even more so!! Can't wait to meet her.
And last weekend, a dear friend who's like a brother to me got married. Marriage is both life and death in a sense. They die to themselves, to their independent, all-about-me, life and start out on a new togetherness that's far deeper than anything they've experienced so far. Maybe that's why I often feel a little weird at weddings - there's often a sad moment. because, things won't ever be the same. And this is good and exciting, yet it also requires a 'leaving behind...'
I'm also currently reading 'Desert Flower' - the autobiography of Waris Dirie, Somalian model and UN ambassador who now campaigns against female genital mutilation ( bet that caused a sudden intake of breath! - not a 'pleasant' thought, no, but that wasn't the point of this post...) Her story puts a lot of these life/loss/love/death thoughts in perspective... I have no idea about suffering... not really.
Anyways, more another time perhaps. Back to studying Katrina!
Wednesday, 22 June 2011
like my eyes are twitching pretty much constantly kind of tired.
i don't think i've ever done so much studying - literally it's all i do from 9am till 10.30pm with breaks for food and bus travel. BUT, it's generally useful stuff and not difficult, and I am managing to concentrate better than i thought. It's just a LOT. All the time. Lessons to plan, assignments, presentations,etc. I enjoy the actual teaching though, so that's a relief! And the very eclectic mix of people in the group is cool, as our the students we teach. So can't complain. Just gotta keep on going going going!
Friday, 17 June 2011
Last weekend i managed to steal away from studies for 24 hours with the lovely ladies of my church. They were staying in two beautiful cottages in the sussex countryside. Good company, delicious food (very important part of our church life together!), country walk, great chats, running around outside, big bonfire, peace, prayers...
Friday, 3 June 2011
Last week I finished working at the Pre-School where I've been since October, and also spent time volunteering during the year before that. Although I wasn't there everyday, I've spent more time with my 3 and 4 year-old friends than my 23 and 24 year-old friends over the past few months! So I'm sure I'm going to miss them, and wonder how they are all getting on.
This week is halfterm, which has given a chance to rest a little from a very busy May, see a few friends and also get on with wedding stuff, before everything is paused for 5 weeks. WHY? Well because, as of Monday I will be doing a intensive CELTA Tesol to become qualified at teaching English. My thinking is it will always be a useful skill, and one I can use both here in the UK and abroad. I also knew of a course that was considerably cheaper, and wanted to do it before getting married.
So here I am, slightly procrastinating packing for 5 whole weeks away from Brighton, because this course is in Oxfordshire. I'm going to be living 'back home' with the parents, which is very helpful and am very grateful for that, but also slightly apprehensive... I've not spent that long back in Oxford for several years. Praying I don't revert to the moody teenager that once graced the buses and bicycles of the area! I've not been away from Brighton for that long in ages either, which has made me realise how much of a home it's become, because the idea of it makes me feel a bit unsettled. I'm going to miss Mr Q a whole big lot too!!!
I'm also aware the course is very full on and potentially quite stressful. So I guess I'm not quite sure how the whole experience is going to be. BUT it's something I definitely want to do. I'm actually looking forwards to studying again, hopefully my brain can wake up after 2 years of not using it so much!
There are exciting things to break up the 5 weeks though, like a wedding and a weekend away with the 'ladies' from my church, woop. Sadly it does mean missing out on another friends wedding in Ibiza, which I am pretty gutted about!
When I get back from Oxford it'll be only just over 2 months until the wedding, and I'll need to find a job, start looking for a flat for us, and generally prepare for starting life together. There will also be a few goodbyes to people who are leaving Brighton, which is sad and will have quite an impact I think. So I'm taking a deep breath now, as there might not be much time for one over the summer! It will be hectic and tiring and I'm sure I will get stressed from time to time despite best intentions not to, BUT I'm also really up for all this change, for this transition-y bit as life enters a new season.
Saturday, 28 May 2011
e.g. 'When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things'. (Mark 6:34)
(Walter Brueggemann 'The Prophetic Imagination', p.85)
Compassion moved Jesus ACT; to teach, to feed, to heal, to set free, to give his time and energy and love. The kingdom that Jesus invited people to be apart of was about clothing the naked, giving shelter to the homeless, welcoming the stranger, inviting the outcasts to a banquet. I'd like my life to look like that.
Wednesday, 18 May 2011
what if someone knew how many hairs were on your head?
what if you were not an accident?
what if the world needed you?
what if you had something of value to say?
what if your actions could change something?
what if there was order in the chaos?
what if the stars were a gift to you?
what if you were not made wrong?
what if someone called you beautiful?
what if there was a reason for the empty ache inside you?
what if there was something bigger?
what if there is a plan?
what if you were free to chose?
what if there was another path to take?
what if there was something to look forward to?
what if someone knew how many tears you have cried behind closed doors?
what if someone wanted to be with you?
what if someone was ready to hold you?
what if you weren't alone?
what if there is hope?
what if this pain won't last forever?
what if you don't have to be trapped by your past?
what if there was a light at the end of the tunnel?
what if things could change?
what if there was a space where you could be you and that was the best person you could be?
what if you just walking into the room made someone smile?
what if someone understood?
what if all this were true?
what would you do?
Saturday, 14 May 2011
Tuesday, 10 May 2011
So last saturday I spent the afternoon sitting up at Devil's Dyke under a green gazebo. Why? Well, part from the attraction of spending a few hours on a hill with a beautiful view, I was there to promote the work of FareShare. Now you may remember that I spent almost a year regularly volunteering at FareShare here in Brighton. Or you may not. And you may have no idea what it is. So let me tell you. And then perhaps you'll see why it's worth giving up an afternoon for it.
FareShare is, put simply, a food redistribution project. It collects food that would have otherwise been thrown away, and gives it out to over 40 different charities and projects across Brighton, Hove and Worthing. Now this is not 'bad food'. It is good quality and ranges from fruit and veg to pasta, pies, beverages and more. It might be past its 'sell by' date BUT NOT its 'used by' date. Its packaging might be damaged, or it might simply be surplus to demand. For all these reasons it cannot be sold and would usually contribute to the 6.8 million tonnes of avoidable food waste produced by the food industry each year!!
To cut down on this wastage, a range of retailers, manufacturers and wholesalers including Pret a Manger (sandwiches everyday!), Infinity Foods and Nestle have teamed up with FareShare who regularly collect food from them in their two refrigerated vans. The food is taken to the warehouse in Moulsecoombe, sorted, recorded and stored.
Every morning the projects who receive the food are called with the list of available food and put in their requests. Obviously depending on the season and markets, this is different every day. Sometimes there might be thousands of boxes of kitkats and hundreds of swedes for example, and at another time there's been loads boxes of chorizo! But there's always something.
Then the same vans (you might have seen them around) are loaded up with the orders, and driven around the city, dropping of green trays of FREE FOOD to many grateful recipients. These include projects that work with vulnerable groups such as homeless people, vulnerable children, substance misusers, older people, HIV sufferers, families, refugess & asylum seekers, unemployed people, etc. Maintaining a balanced, nutritious diet is so important to physical and social wellbeing, and not always something the clients or the projects can afford to access.
218.5 tonnes of quality surplus food were delivered to vulnerable people in 2010 which meant 3200 people benefitted from the donations every week!!
So who does all this driving and unloading and loading I hear you ask? Well that is another great part of the FareShare. Nearly everyone is a volunteer, and they come from a whole variety of backgrounds. For some it is a first step back into regular work after rehab or unemployment. I've met several people for whom volunteering at FareShare has been a huge positive impact on their self confidence, life skills and recovery from difficult situations. Members of the Rotary club also come and help as do university students and police officers in training. Volunteering is a great way to meet all sorts of people, and to get a good picture of what is going on in Brighton & Hove. For me it was both an eye opener to the struggles that many people face as well all the positive things that people are doing to make a difference in the city.
So basically, FareShare is a brilliant project from whatever angle you look at it. Last year I did a telephone survey to assess the impact of the food donations on all the projects. Many of them could not run or would be severely limited in the services they offer if FareShare stopped delivering them food.
SO... if you are looking to give any spare time, skill or money, I would without reservation suggest you give them a call. No one's asked me to write this, I just really believe that it's doing such an important job in our city, and as with most people and projects, it is struggling in the current economic climate. Money is needed for fuel and maintenance of the vans, and for renting the warehouse and office space. If you don't fancy driving a van or loading up trays of food, you could help out with admin work or by helping to fundraise/raise awareness.
If you do want to get in touch,
email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01273 671111