Washed out…

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Hello Winter Blues. You have finally hit me.

Though this year, I suspect you’ve been helped along with a whole lot more stress heaped on top than usual.

I had a fantastic but exhausting weekend in Cardiff – one third of the weekend spent in a car with some fellow Soul Surfers. :)

But I have come home to a pile of things to do and e-mails telling me of even more.

All I want to do is to lie on a beach in warm sunshine, to paddle the warm ocean and drink ginger beer ice cream floats, eat fresh mango and maybe some french toast with maple syrup and banana.

Instead I need to read, write and analyse.

Choose worktops, ovens and cupboard doors.

Post adverts to find tenants.

Organise end of term activities and inform parents.

Do research.

Buy travel insurance.

Work out if I can continue sponsoring my Compassion children after March 2014.

Do my job.

I have some amazing friends praying for me just now (thank you), and I know that all that needs to be done, will be done. But I am feeling washed out (and I look how I feel).

And apparently it is snowing in Inverness. :(

Bawling to the top…

How did life go from this

to this

in the space of 24 hours?

To say this weekend was a tough one would be a wee bit of an understatement. A few weeks ago, I wrote an ‘ode to a normal week‘. I realised later that building a campfire twice in 7 days and arriving at my friends’ house at 11 p.m covered in melted slug, mud and charcoal stinking of campfire smoke so we could get up at the crack of dawn to watch people running through the streets carrying a flaming torch is not particularly ‘normal’. Or restful!

I said this to two of our volunteers last week as we painted things and waited for carpet fitters and furniture deliveries.

Sounds like a normal week in the world of Laura Anne though‘ they said.

I realise that not an awful lot of things in my life are particularly average or ‘normal’. It’s maybe why I find it difficult to fit in with other people and often struggle with feeling really isolated and alone in this crazy world.

I had a fabulous time on Saturday night in ‘Hawaii’ celebrating a friend’s birthday. There were lots of people I hadn’t seen in a while there, many from my old church. A lot of them asked about my work – was I still there? How was it going? Was I getting support from people in my new church for what I do?

Maybe it was what began to set me off. All I know is one minor thing at church on Sunday morning and I felt the tears welling up. I got up and walked out, went to my car and just started bawling my eyes out.

Turns out, it would be a theme for the day.

I went to work, knowing that things in our refurbishment project hadn’t quite gone to plan on the day I wasn’t there. I was in no way prepared for what I walked into and it induced a great deal more tears. Oh, and a flare up of my old RSI injury. I was upset, frustrated, angry and feeling a bit hopeless. Truthfully, I was exhausted and feeling really oversensitive and I had no idea why!

Eventually I came home, getting some food from my favourite Italian takeaway en route, and then found out the news about Sheree. (More tears). Curled up in my duvet feeling drained, sad and in a small bit of pain and discomfort I wondered what I was doing with my life.

Today though, seeing all the pain and stress as the hard work came together and saw how encouraged people were to see the massive difference in the look and feel of our centre…made it all worth it.

And I remembered why on the nights I was packing our centre into boxes at 8.30 p.m. with Sarah, or the Saturday I was getting high on paint fumes thinking how I’d have to do a 5 hour round trip to fulfil my property owner responsibilities the next day, the bank holiday where we were clearing paint off the floor and trying to make everything functional…I had to keep saying to myself ‘It’s all going to be worth it in the end‘.

What I told myself was right.

My job isn’t just a job because I love what I do. I’ve had to sacrifice a lot of comforts to continue doing it, but seeing the culmination of 4 years of dreaming…is incredible.

And thank you – because honestly without my online friends who have encouraged me, cheered me up, prayed for us and even given financially to us, I think I’d have thrown myself into the Water of Leith by now! It’s meant so much to know that there are people who have my back and ‘get it’ and accept me for the slightly crazy person I am! ;)

Censored

I realise that I’ve been quieter on the blogging front at times.

It’s not that I have nothing to say. It’s just that I’m having to censor what I say, for fear of tearing down some of the people I know read my blog.

And it’s really flippin’ hard.

Because right now I’m struggling with a few things – and usually when I’m struggling, I write about it.

But at the moment I can’t write about it.

Argggggh!!!

 

Do you laugh or do you cry?

Today has been a…challenging…day.

I had a meeting about advertising today which went on longer, and consequently I was running out to get lunch close to 2 p.m. and desperate for the loo.

Dumping said lunch on my desk I ran to the toilet.

And now I shall refer to the text I sent Sarah after she asked me to explain ‘How did the centre bathroom get flooded?’ where I refer to myself in the third person.

“Laurie needs to pee. She enters the bathroom and notices the tap running. She goes to turn it off and top part of the tap falls off. Water spouts up in the air creating an unwanted water fountain. Laurie tries to get tap back on all the while crossing her legs as water feature not helping need to pee situation…”

Eventually, after I managed to get in touch with our Landlord and the bathroom floor was swimming with water (despite my efforts to try and catch some of the water in a bucket as gravity overcame the shooting up effect splashing everywhere) I succeeded in putting the tap together again. By this time I was rather damp.

A man came by looked at it (& briefly recreated the water fountain)  and declared that ‘The tap was broken and needs replacing’

No kidding.

Let’s add on to that the fact that I now have to write an e-mail of complaint to Google Ads (another long story), my car seems to be leaking water into the passenger seat floor every time it’s been raining heavily and I came home to find a bill for almost £500 in my mail pile…I wish I’d never written what I posted yesterday.

Sigh.

No Selah today.

But apparently the story of the tap turned fountain made Sarah chuckle…glad to be of entertainment once again…!! :)

How the molehills become mountains

So right now, I’m in my pyjamas, scarf wrapped around my head, nose coated in vaseline and doing my bit for deforestation in the form of kleenex ultra-balm. I feel I should take this opportunity for turning up to Inter:act yesterday, because it must have been pretty gross as I blew my nose again, and again, and again. Plus I looked weird wearing earmuffs indoors. But they were a comfort as my ears screeched and popped inside my head.

Yes, this week has become a challenge.

This fortnight is exceptionally busy, last week I didn’t really have my ‘sabbath day’ because I had to be at a conference for work. There was Vicky’s party, StreetLight Sunday and this weekend I was supposed to be stewarding at a conference and on Monday I start training our new recruits in pregnancy crisis counselling & support!

So I wasn’t so thrilled to wake up on Monday feeling filled with snot again. I rushed in for supervision (which got semi-cancelled) and lay across the chairs in our office willing myself to not go home. Then someone came in who felt the need to tell me about an experience no emetophobic wants to hear (and not just once. they repeated the story 3 times to me – yes, it took a lot of effort to keep my counselling face on and not yell QUIT TALKING ABOUT IT! I DON’T WANT TO KNOW!).

When I get to heaven I’ll be asking God why he decided that ‘morning sickness’ should be a symptom of pregnancy. Gah.

And then in the afternoon I got 2 calls from Spain. Just another episode in the family soap opera! But it has been while…

To top off the Monday though, I was driving home when I realised ‘Hey…My heating isn’t working. Wait why is the temperature gauge changing so much?’

These were the signs that led Cassie the Corsa to the garage a month ago where I paid out £440 to have her fixed. So I wasn’t impressed that it seems like she is broken still. Unfortunately they are short staffed at the garage so she can’t go for a ‘car hospital’ visit until tomorrow.

I’m now slightly stressed that I won’t have my car back tomorrow evening.

Because on Thursday evening I have a meeting at my church – these tend to go on late, and there is no direct bus (I don’t do walking alone at nighttime for the simple fact that so many people I know have been attacked walking along at night). On Friday morning I have a car load of schools equipment to drive to village on the outskirts of Edinburgh plus a volunteer. On Friday afternoon I have another car load of stuff to take to a conference to set up a stall in the exhibiting area of the EICC. And I need to be able to get a stationery order plus all the tea/coffee stuff for the training course starting on Monday.

And if this sinus infection doesn’t go away (this is by far the most uncomfortable I’ve been as it’s hurting my ears and at times I can’t hear properly – not great for counselling!) I may have to pay a visit to my GP across the other side of town.

All little things. But somehow all the little things create a big problem.

There’s 3 things I always need for my job 1. a laptop 2. my car & 3. my phone.

This week is showing me how much I can’t do my job properly without them.

Hopefully it’ll all work out somehow. My Mum is off work the next few days as our cousin from Southampton comes to visit. So it will be great to see her. :)


Order

I like things to be ‘just so’ – not that you’d know from my untidiness, but my Mum will tell you how she watched me freak out about cutlery drawers and book shelves when I moved my stuff into to my flat in Aberdeen for the first time, and how a couple of weeks ago I emptied out the thorn in my flesh – her tupperware cupboard and organised it all. My friend Phil will tell you how he nicknamed me ‘Monica’ because I had to wash the dishes in a certain order (glasses, mugs, cutlery, plates, cooking implements) and some of the people at my old work (TRCF) will tell you how I would rearrange the dishwasher. My friends Brian & Vicky might tell you how they went on holiday and came back to find I’d reorganised their DVD cupboard. Or how previous boyfriends have relented and let me organise their CDs and books into ORDER.

When things are not in ORDER, I tend to freak out a little.

I like to know exactly what I’m supposed to do, if I don’t know, I just will not do it. I like to know where I can find out things. I like things to have a place to belong to.

Like Cassie the Corsa has her space. She belongs in that space between my Mum’s driveway and her husband’s driveway. Occasionally, someone parks their car in that space.

The result is this: ‘Harumph…grumble, grumble *as I park my car further down the street, get my stuff out the backseat and stomp up to the house, enter through the front door* Can you believe that someone has parked in MY parking space?!?!?!?!??!!!!!’

I also get extremely distressed if procedures have not been followed in our centre. Nothing spreads fear more than Laurie doing the sadistics statistics. Woe betide ANYONE who has forgotten to collect the required data. Especially if I have more unknown data in a month than ‘known’. If I’m the culprit, I do actually yell at myself.

The reason I like order, is I like to be able to be in control. I like to plan. I want to be the one to do things well.

There is definitely a direct correlation of order:usefulness in my life!

However, it can be my downfall as an effective leader as much as it can also be a strength.

How on earth can people I lead learn, if I don’t give them the space to make mistakes which are part of the learning experience?

How can people flourish in the person they have been created to be if I insist they have to do things MY WAY?

It’s something I’m having to learn and check myself on.

Because I want my team to spread their wings and fly…together.

A tough month

I feel I can write now, since I’ve had a good day. This last month has been a real struggle to get through (just in case you hadn’t already picked up on that through my previous posts, tweets or facebook updates). The song above has been my anthem this year, in much the same way that Maybe This Christmas was last year. 1 week of illness, 1 week of snow (and aggravating a back injury), 1 week of more snow, and continued ice (and more snow apparently on the way). I’ve missed lots of social engagements and was forced to work from home last week. I’ve missed 2 weeks of inter:act. I missed a whole month of church (through conferences and then illness). I haven’t seen some of my close friends in over a month.

It has been tough, and very isolating.

It has made me depressed.

I haven’t been sleeping well the last few nights with vivid dreams and being in some discomfort with my back. It seems to begin to get better, but has got worse after going to church the last 2 Sundays – maybe I’m allergic to church?! ;) I know that I’m just generally feeling rubbish about myself – I feel like my body is failing me, and completely malfunctioning and as a result my self-esteem, self-worth and confidence is taking a hefty nose dive.

I’m also very aware that usually December brings the obligatory ‘reflection on the year’ posts, and as I tried to think, I realised that this year has not been a lot of fun in the grand scheme of things. It’s not that there haven’t been highlights, it just seems to be that the negative stuff has far outweighed the positive stuff this year.

I’m trying to find the love in this winter, and I’m struggling.

I don’t want to be sitting here wishing a fraction of my life away, but I am really.

I’m just longing for this year to be over, and the deepest part of me is desperately waiting for Spring to come.

New life, new hope, new beginnings, growth…

More lessons in leadership

This leadership thing is tough.

For those of you who hopped over to Shelley’s blog last week to read my guest post (thank you to all of you who left me a comment, I really appreciate every single comment I get on any post I write) you might realise that I have a fair bit of insecurity regarding my current status in this area!

It has not been an easy ride.

I’m battling the whispers and memories of negative words spoken over me. Why is that you always remember the bad stuff? My friend Tam talked about this recently, and I can only echo my agreement with all she said in her post that day. The power of word is huge.

These battle scars are not ones that can be seen. And it is so easy for old wounds to be reopened.

Something that deeply concerns me is the lack of support and the unwillingness of organisations to open their doors to pregnancy crisis support, sex and relationships education and post abortion & miscarriage recovery. People seem to be scared of what I do. It seems to make them uncomfortable.

There is a huge generational gap in our organisation, and as cancer seems to attack (quite literally in some cases) I worry that with death or retirement our work is going to die too. And it is still so needed.

Something I’m trying to encourage the folks in leadership of centres across the country is making sure they have pastoral support, a team of encouragers and prayer warriors and to be training up the next generation.

I’m making that my own goal for this year.

Lead by example.

I want people to learn how to do my job – because if this year has taught me anything, it’s that even though I’m ‘only’ 26, I don’t know how long I have here. I need to be replacable! If I’m Moses, I need a Joshua, and if I’m Paul, I need a Timothy… :)

The one thing I have very little control over is financial support, pastoral support, encouragers and prayer warriors. About 99% of this form of support I receive through cyberspace. Lovely, but not ideal. I’m so thankful it has been there though. I don’t think I’d have got this far otherwise.

The nervousness of ‘shocking’ people. As I spoke to the group in front of me in the Highlands on Monday night, a few eyebrows were raised, some expressions stony…but eventually there were smiles (phew!). But the stigma and fear of being part of this kind of ministry seems to remain.

In the meantime, we end up having to turn away people needing our help because of the lack of resources.

I’m not sure if that makes me sad, angry or just decreases my faith….or maybe a combo of all of the above!

Mourning and Rejoicing

At the beginning of the summer, two people with close connection to the national charity I work for/with were diagnosed with cancer.

Of course we all began to pray and plead once again, just as we had done last summer for Joanna when we found out she had cancer.

Healing is a funny thing, and a topic that can stir up a lot of emotions and previous hurts amongst people.

One of the best talks I heard at Momentum this year, was one by Ellie Mumford (I’m so looking forward to learning from her again at the Naturally Supernatural conference) as she talked about healing – how you can pray for the same thing for 2 people and the outcomes can be entirely different. And we have no real answers for why that is.

It’s something I’ve already wrestled with in the past, and talked about on a Sunday Scribbling last year.

Last week, it was 9 p.m. on a weeknight and I was closing a meeting in prayer when my phone started going bananas. I apologised to others praying for the disturbance, and popped it on silent…but I saw that the person text me to ask me to phone them, and promptly attempted to ring twice more straight after sending a text I knew something was wrong.

And something was wrong.

One of the people we’d been praying for, a person whose battle with cancer was over – he had finished chemo treatment, the outlook seemed positive, and he was recovering at home – had died very suddenly.

What? How? Why?

I wasn’t too chuffed with God, and found myself just cleaning mugs away from the chatter of people heading home in a state of shock.

A few days later though, I found out the other person we’d been praying for had received news that the chemo had worked in reducing the tumours in her body, and that hopefully after another surgery no more chemo would be needed. :)

Incredible news.

In reality for both of them (hopefully) the battle is over. Just not necessarily in the way we’d hoped, because at the same time we are both mourning and rejoicing…

We mourn the loss of someone taken from this world, who will be deeply missed. Who leaves behind a wife and children.

We rejoice that there is a future here on earth for many, many more years for a young woman whose battle with cancer is hopefully going to be over very soon.


What offends you more?

“Fucking Bastard”

If you’ve known me a while, and particularly if you’ve ever been a passenger in my car…you’ll know that I am in very bad habit of using some uh, colourful language.

For sure, this is the by product of the culture I’ve been surrounded by growing up, where basically ‘f**k’ is used as an adjective for pretty much every word you speak, or just a bridge between words.

Even in my primary school, it was perfectly ‘normal’ for kids to be using language like that in the playground. I didn’t realise that sort of thing wasn’t normal until I went to high school in a slightly more affluent area and some of the ‘good’ kids were clearly taken aback by my use of language (until they got older and then they did too).

I became acutely aware of my mouth when I first went to church and was terrified of offending people (unfortunately I didn’t know what blasphemy was, and I’d replaced my F words with the OMG words…) and though I would still  sometimes swear (usually in anger or frustration) it grew less and less common.

Of course now, I’m back in Edinburgh. Back amongst my friends from high school – particularly the guys, and that kind of language is used all the time. And it’s just habit to slip back into it. Plus, I think working in a Christian organisation I sometimes feel quite frustrated and suffocated and some words can come tumbling out.

And I’m not proud of it. And I’ve been asking God to try and help me with it.

So why did I begin this post with some uncensored words back up at the top there? Surely it’s quite simple not to use bad language on this kind of interface?

Yes, it is.

But that is how one guy decided to start his sermon at a Christian conference a few years ago.

He got up on stage, microphone in hand and exclaimed loudly those words…Fucking Bastard.

And the whole room exploded with muttering and talking.

After a few minutes, the man said “I take it that offended you then?”

And then he said “I wonder why it is that we don’t get offended in the same way by poverty  or people who have lived through real injustice?” and then proceeded to read out for Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.

One of our volunteers was telling me this story – as she was there. I wasn’t. But it made me smile as she shared this anecdote with me, as God had said pretty much the same thing to me a few days before, as I apologised to Him once again for my poor choice of words to express my anger or disgust at something.

And He just said to me: Laura Anne, stop focusing so much on the language you use when there are much more important things to be concerned about or apologising for.

I don’t for one moment condone the use of swear words.

But I was surprised at this response from God. And I realised His point.

So while I’m not going to be taking off my attempts at filtering the words that have a tendency to spew out my mouth, I’m also going to stop beating myself about it quite so much, and instead choose to focus on the fact that I can make a positive difference in the world the way that Jesus taught us.

By loving people.

By taking opportunities to bless the poor in Spirit, the people who are mourning, those who are desperate for  justice, to show mercy, to be purer in heart, to be a peacemaker

I believe these things to be far greater things to focus my energies on.