Monday, 30 January 2012

Houseboats



ON Sunday we went for a walk with some friends around Shoreham, which is just along the coast from Brighton. Toward the end we passed a row of houseboats, which I've seen before but it was awesome seeing them again. They're totally fascinating, especially the ones in the photos - which have been made up of all sorts of different things, like bits of a bus and a washing machine! I guess the people who live in them must get annoyed with people like us gazing through their windows, but then again if u live in a place like that... :-) anyways I'm well up for living in a houseboat, even if it got leaky in winter, which I'm sure it would. Or maybe in a hotter country...

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Positive

I'm aware that my blog seems to have a bit of a depressed air about it currently. granted, I have not been the most cheery of people in recent weeks, and I really really don't like winter all that much, and I have been frustrated/bored/restless/wondering-about-the-meaning-of-life-a-lot... BUT there is still plenty to be thankful for and I reckon it's good to dwell on those things too. I was also kind of challenged when reading other people's blogs, and although I'm unlikely to undergo a sudden character change and adapt an 'isn't everything wonderful and let's put flowers on my background' attitude (nothing against those people - the world definitely needs you!), I know I can make more of an effort to 'rise above' some of the things that drag me down (or, as Mr Q helpfully tells me: "OK, now stop being grumpy!").

SO, here are a few things from the past few weeks that made me happy to be alive:

1. New babies!! My good friends John and Fritha have just had a little girl and I met her this week at just 11 days old. She was tiny!! I forgot how small newborns are. And VERY cute. I know some people find babies kind of annoying or boring but I actually think they're amazing, and am quite happy to stare adoringly at them for a long time (slightly awkward when friend is breast-feeding and I am still gazing, soppy eyed?!). They are slightly shell-shocked and recovering from quite a difficult birth, but they are all alive and well and about that I am GLAD. It's exciting to think about this fresh new life, with so many unwritten pages, and to see who she will become. woop.

2. New games!! Last weekend I learnt how to play Poker, and last night I learnt how to play Settlers of Catan. I'd been wanting to learn both for a while, but at the same time, after a childhood of board games being forced upon me every day by my twin sister, they don't usually feature in my plans, or idea of a fun night in. However, I really enjoyed learning both, and am well up for playing more. It's a lot more stimulating than watching TV or another film, and a good way to spend time with people (especially if conversation isn't guaranteed to flow!). Poker had me laughing loads, staying out later than I had done in ages, and generally being encouraged that I haven't lost all of my social skills. Hooray.

3. New diet!! For a number of reasons Mr Q and I aren't eating meat at the moment. Or caffeine, or sweet things, or alcohol, or milk. Oof. Basically anything that we like to eat a lot! So it's meant we have had to venture further into the vegetable/vegetarian world. Which has been pretty good actually, and we've had some awesome meals: a whole lot of aubergine and chickpea curry (thanks to my old housemate, Becky, for that recipe!), and more vegetarian curries at 'Planet India' - a veggie restaurant in Brighton that we went to to celebrate 4 months of marriage (!) - especially good was one with sweetcorn and vine leaves in; and last night I made a scrummy meal from a recipe book with coconut, ginger, red pepper, baby sweetcorn and avocado. mmmm. We're also quite enjoying soya milk - especially with rooibos and vanilla tea. So despite some cravings for chocolate, coffee, and a beer, it's actually been pretty good and i think we're feeling better for it.

So there we go, there's plenty to celebrate. Hope that's got you feeling happier too :-)

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Desperate?


This I wrote at that New Year's Day service, but on my phone so i forgot about it:

Are we not desperate here?
This is all very nice... but I don’t think that’s enough anymore.
Give me symbols and drums and heart wrenching cries
Because we are desperate for you and if you don’t come...
Then really, we’re lost
Without you we’re going nowhere
Without you, life is meaningless
Oh come like the evening rain that softens the earth
Come like the dawn, chasing nightmares away
Come like a lover’s kiss – starting the day with the knowledge that we are wanted
Come like the morning sun that warms the cold concrete
Shines colour into grey corners
Come like the birdsong, singing a tune that drowns out lies that fill our mind
Come like a mother’s touch that reassures anxious bones.
Come like an earthquake, shaking foundations
Come like a mighty river that washes clean polluted souls

I want to see change
I want to go deeper
I want things to move
I cannot settle for shallow, for nice, for soft, for easy
O let me be kind, and let me be gentle
But let me not compromise
Let me not bend to pleasing others over pleasing God
Let me fear only the one who holds life in his hands
Let Jesus be big... in all His glory
And
Let me not hide
Let me not be silent

4 months!

Today we've been married for 4 months! I'm sure after a year we will stop counting the months, but for now it's kind of fun, and makes you realise how fast, and slow, time goes. And it's been really great so far. Lots of people warned us about how hard the first year of marriage is... but while we're working hard at it, we're also loving it! We're learning about each other's quirks, insecurities and habits and always learning about how to communicate better, and sooner. It's encouraging to look back over the past few years and see how much things have changed in our relationship. I'm glad we didn't get married any sooner than we did - and that we worked through quite a bit before we said 'I do', but I'm also glad that, even though we're still young, we didn't wait any longer either. And I'm excited about the adventures together to come.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

hold

lung shiver
hip moan
shoulder drop
draw
awkward knees
into close embrace
attempts to create
warmth
in the hollow of me
in the
holed out
souled out
hollow of me

who scooped out my insides?
where do they rest
is that my heart beating
in another room?

i'm cold

please hold
me
please hold
me
please fill the holes
and hold
me
make me
whole
hold
me
hold
me

please
hold................................................................................

Monday, 9 January 2012

Dedication


Our masterpieces, created for our friend Adele's little girl (read all about her story HERE...). I went down to Bristol this weekend for Talitha's dedication, which is when her parents publicly thank God for their daughter, acknowledging that she is a GIFT from Him, and therefore almost placing her back in His care as it were. Or something like that... funny how something that's so normal to me is pretty hard to describe. Hmm actually a lot of things are like that!!

Anyways had a lovely time catching up with old uni friends and enjoying observing and cuddling a beautiful 7 month old!

Yes yes friends are good for the soul :-) those ones when you don't have to think about what to say, how to be, etc, and it doesn't really matter when you last saw them, things just flow straight away. yey.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Gift Card Giver

Just read an article about a group in the US that collects people's unused gift cards - even if they just have a tiny bit of money left on them, and then send them to charities to use. Great idea!! I wonder if anyone does this in the UK?? Their website is HERE.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

church search

On New Year's Day I wanted to go to church. Why? Because it was a Sunday, perhaps. Because I haven't been in a while, perhaps. Because it seems important to meet with God.. well at all times, but especially at the beginning of things. Yeh. And because, since we were in London, maybe I was hoping for something fresh, something new, a different perspective or way of doing things.

And this whole church search upon a Sunday eve didn't come out of guilt, I'm over that. It didn't come out of duty or tradition or religion. It didn't come from a belief that God can only be found in a service or a building. And as we weren't in Brighton amongst those we know, it wasn't for social/relational/people-y reasons either. So I guess there's still this tiny bit of me that hopes/wants to believe that 'going to Church' - regardless of where and what that is - means going to meet with God. That something about it will aid connection, will prompt me to worship, to forget the world for a moment. And I am sure that there is something about the intentionality of GOING, of stepping outside of our comfort zones, that does make space for this to happen more easily.

Thing is... once i get to a church, pretty much any church, instead of focussing on God, I get overwhelmed by so many thoughts/opinions/criticisms of how things look, how they are done, what's being said, etc etc. The church is made up of human beings, so obviously it's not going to be perfect. But it is also called the 'Body of Christ', which suggests that somehow in the midst of the brokeness and mess, there's also beauty, there's some of the many facets of God being reflected, there's hope.

And while it's not all about the building, the service, etc, this is what people first see when they 'go to church'. So how much does it matter? Sometimes I've thought it really is important. That in order to be relevant and accessible, churches need to 'get with it' and do things well, catch up with the rest of the world and serve nice coffee, have comfortable seats, atmospheric lighting, etc. And I think there is a place for this, although perhaps more in the cases of cafes/galleries/community centres/etc where people are coming to hang out and spend a lot of time.

But do our places of communal worship (in the singing/praying kind of sense) really need to be like that too? I am not so sure anymore. Why do we need coloured lights and big screens? Why do we need beanbags on the floor, cupcakes and filter coffee? To be honest, if someone walked off the street in search of God, I don't know that any of those external things would make the slightest bit of difference. To be honest I wonder if we've 'comfied' up our church buildings to stop people leaving (as all the teenagers drift into cozy numbness), rather than encouraging new people in. I doubt anyone would say, wow that sound system was so big - there must be a God!! I've spoken with friends recently who don't 'go to church' regularly and they've actually been confused and put off by the level of showiness and technology they've glimpsed in some church meetings.

We did go to church on New Years Day. And it was nice. NICE! Is that really what we're hungry for? A nice time? A nice evening spent in a nice venue with nice singing. No offence to the church - I know I am in no place to judge, and I know it was my own problem for letting superficial things distract me. But I still feel like we've got to think about these things. We were singing about walls being broken down, about wanting Jesus to come... all in soft tones to soft rock guitar with pink and purple lighting and I wanted to bang a huge symbol, I wanted to shout, scream, jump up and down. (Perhaps I should have done, perhaps I still care too much about what everyone else thinks... but perhaps I will be the crazy lady at the back of the room sooner than i thought!! haha!) . If we're really desperate for some hope in this world, desperate for things to change, desperate for lives and situations to get turned around, then shouldn't we show it?!

OK my thoughts are drifiting and I this is already long. As you can tell these are things that get me. Have done for years... and probably will for the rest of my life. Maybe that's not a bad thing. I don't want to be caught sleeping, to stop searching. But I'll stop typing for now :-)

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

03/01/12


I wrote down the date for the first time this year (just before getting my lip pierced... happy christmas Katrina from husband!): 2012, finally it's here. Seems like 2012 is a big year, like lots of people have been talking about it and looking forward to it for a while... it's Olympics, it's LONDON, it's a leap year, it's a 'complete' number, etc etc... and it's following what's been quite a tumultuous year for many both here in the UK and around the globe.

On reflection, the best thing about 2011 for me has definitely been getting married, and subsequently living together and learning more about each other. I loved our wedding day and honeymoon, and so far so good when it comes to the actual marriage part. Yey. It maybe sounds a bit negative I have to say apart from that 2011 didn't feel particularly special...

Workwise it's been fairly disappointing to be honest. I've been a pre-school worker, cleaner, english teacher, carer and administrator and although none of them have been awful, I can't say I've really enjoyed any of them. I can't say I've been proud at any point to answer the dreaded question of, 'what do you do?', I can't say I've felt fulfilled or like I was doing 'what I was made to do'. But maybe that's too much to hope for?? Maybe the point about pride is key and actually I just need to get over myself? I am certainly grateful to have found employment when I've needed it and perhaps that's enough! I have a roof over my head, I am not abused/exploited/made to work all the hours of the day. I have a lunch hour. I still have energy and time to do things outside of work. Really, I'm very fortunate. (Convinced?!)

I've had a lot of these kind of conversations over the holiday with friends in similar positions: we grew up being told that if we jumped through all the right hoops, worked hard, went to a good uni, etc, then we could pretty much do what we wanted. No one predicted such a change in the economic situation, no one warned us it would be this hard, especially for those of us who weren't totally certain they wanted to be a doctor/teacher/'proper vocation'. So at 25 a lot of us are still stumbling along, doing this and that, feeling like we've let our teachers/parents/etc down but not really sure what to do about it. Can we really blame the 'crisis' or is it us who is at fault. Are we just not doing enough? I look ahead and don't particularly hopeful about things changing and yet at the same time feel that somehow they have to. I don't have answers, I don't know what to think really, except that we can't let our jobs define us or we really will give up!

On a more cheerful note, I've just remembered another highlight of 2012, and a time when, for the most part, I did feel like I was doing something I was made for, and that was the trip to India when I hung out with some awesome people from all over the country and danced with them and worshipped God with them with all my body and mind and soul. A real privilege.

It's also been a year when I've had several opportunities to write and perform and my hope is that this will continue and increase this year. (Resolution: get up earlier, and write more!)

I don't know what 2012 will bring. There's always the possibility of total surprises, which I'm kinda up for. But even if things don't change radically on the surface, as the quote in the previous post referred to, there's always potential for digging deeper into what is already in front of us, for working hard at the things we are good at to get better, for learning more about the world around us, and perhaps most importantly for investing in relationships - with the One who made us and the ones who weave in and out of our day to day lives.