Seven years of blogging: what changed?

It’s been seven years now since I started blogging. This was one of my early posts back on Musings of a Koala. It’s kinda crazy to read it now.

A friend of mine said she missed me writing on ‘topics’ on my blog. I should really have got clarification on what that meant exactly (if you’re reading, I think you’ll know who you are so remind me to ask you next time we chat!!). If I’m honest it’s gotten tougher to find to time and motivation to write. However, I will say that events in the recent weeks may have changed that slightly…

If I’m right in what my friend meant, I think I stopped blogging on topics about three years ago. And I’m going to try and explain why I think that happened…

A few years ago I went through probably the most anti-climatic and difficult crisis of faith I’ve ever had. It was very different to crises of faith I’d had previously. In my early years of my faith I was up and down in my emotions and faith like supersonic yo-yo.I had to learn a whole new culture that I didn’t naturally belong in, because I hadn’t grown up with it. It took me a good five years. As soon as I was settled, it was like God said ‘Ok. On to the next lesson‘. My first year as a graduate was an unmitigated disaster. I learned a great deal from that disastrous year…because I started losing perspective on my priorities, and I suffered the consequences.

In April 2007 I was a hot mess. But I was determined to trust God and believed He would lead me back to where I was supposed to be. And of course, long term readers know that meant ending a relationship, saying goodbye to the safety of a job, my own home and heading to Australia for a month before I returned to the home city that was so full of horrible childhood memories.

I actually hate looking at photos of myself from that time because I lost so much weight with the stress of it all. By the time I came back from Australia I probably weighed under 8 stone…

IMG_4774This photo was taken in May 2007 just after I got back from Australia when I was up in Aberdeen to get tested for melanoma. I think I look almost anorexic in this picture. 

I arrived back on May 4th 2007. I surprisingly found a church to call ‘home’ almost straight away, and I was actively involved in the life of the church serving as a youth mentor and as a backing vocalist on the music team within a month of my first visit. I joined a smallgroup and the main core of that group are some of my closest friends to this day.

My first few years back in Edinburgh were no picnic. I’m pretty sure I’d have had a total mental breakdown if it hadn’t been for my smallgroup being a steady anchor for me. They were a source of encouragement, challenge and also being willing to let a flawed person like me try to encourage and challenge them in return. There was constant change and drama and it was the one consistent aspect of my life. I knew no matter what I had that safe sanctuary where I could return for a couple of hours a week before I headed back into the madness that was my life.

When I came back from South Africa in 2009, there was a church restructure. I had come back with a lot to process and think about, and I never ended up getting the chance with all the impending changes. Our smallgroup disbanded and it felt like my safe sanctuary, my anchor in the storm was ripped away from me. I tried to suck it up and make the best of things over the next year as many of the folks I’d worked with in ministry left, along with friends and families who’s young people I had worked with for 2-3 years by that point through the youth programme. I struggled. I got hurt. I probably hurt other people in my hurting state. Suffice to say that there came a point when enough was enough and I had to make one has to be one of the most heartbreaking decisions I’ve ever made since I left Aberdeen.

I left the church.

I was also not prepared to be cut off on social media by folks who I’d previously thought my friends. I cared about the people at the church and wished them well. For several months I didn’t attend church services at all – anywhere. I needed that time because I’d gotten to the point where I wasn’t sure if I’d been manipulated and ‘hoodwinked’ into a religious cult called Christianity. Was God real? I needed to find Him in a way I could be sure it was Him and not just being programmed to believe by other people.

After three months, I was assured that yes…God was real. He still loved me. And He was still with me…no matter where I went.

Though I never really found a new place to call home, I did find myself repurposed and using my gifts and skills again elsewhere.

But in terms of writing, I really miss the days where I’d write and knew my readership. Every time I blogged on something I’d find it being read by folks in church who would chat to me about it. I loved that interaction, and I think it motivated me to keep on writing as honestly as I could – the silly stuff and the serious stuff! There were so many posts I wanted to write but couldn’t during those months of brokenness for fear of how they could affect the people reading them. For the first time ever, I began to censor myself.

So back to the recent events…

I feel like I’m at a crossroads in my life once again. My relationship with God still exists, but it is certainly not what it once was. If you asked me today how my life is going, I’d have to say it’s a mixed bag of good and bad. There are aspects that I’m really struggling with right now, and other aspects I’m really enjoying and excited about. I know that I have lots to ponder, lots to reflect on and lots to write about. There are things I think I really want to do, but needing to find more courage for.

One thing I know for sure is that I feel like my motivation for writing is getting back on track to where it once was. Where it’s going to go – I don’t know yet. But I do know for sure that I’d really appreciate your feedback.

 

Why I wish churches didn’t celebrate Mother’s Day…

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This weekend, I got to celebrate the birth of two of my friends’ kids and it was awesome. One of my closest friends who I’ve known since we lived together in university halls of residence had her daughter’s first birthday. My smallgroup leaders who I’ve shared my life with for the last seven years had their son’s fourth birthday. I love my friends, and I love their kids. I’m really lucky to have great friends who have grown and parent some very happy children and feel totally honoured every moment they let me share moments with their kids. After all, we already know that have been known to have a reputation for corrupting children. ;)

In both cases I was surrounded by mothers and their kids who were friends with my friends’ kids. On both days I got asked ‘which one was my kid?’ and I had to explain that I didn’t have a kid here, I was just good friends of the family.  Another mother came over to comment on ‘how great I am with children’ and asked me how that was. I honestly didn’t know how to answer, and just said “there have always been a lot of children in my life”. I’ve had these same questions at various parties of my friends’ children over the years. In some of the conversations I have had I could tell that the mothers just thought I was a weirdo – what single person goes to a kids birthday party if they don’t have their own kid to take? Apparently I do. And I do it because

1. I want to support my friends who are parents in any way I can.

2. I enjoy celebrating birthdays because I’m usually pretty glad they were born!

The reactions and comments like ‘oh you clearly aren’t a mother‘ or just the stares when they find out you are both childless and without long term partner…they can be hard to take. And they can sting. Especially when you so long to be a mother. One of my friends has been fighting a battle with infertility over the last few years. Another friend recently experienced the loss of her first child through miscarriage. I’ve been thinking of them a lot this week as my twitter feed filled up with churches getting ready to celebrate Mother’s Day in the USA.

I still remember the day I drove to the South of Edinburgh to go to church one Mothering Sunday, saw them handing out flowers to the mothers as they were walking through the doors- and just sat in my car, realised I couldn’t face it and just turned around and drove home in tears.

It think of these words written by the wise Maggi Dawn. I think of this blog post I spotted a few months ago after my friend recommended the Saltwater and Honey blog to me.

There is a sentence in the latter post that still grabs me every time…We must celebrate what unites us, not what separates us.

Amen to that.

Motherhood is frickin’ hard, and we should all acknowledge that. But I do think it’s wrong that churches are jumping on a commercial side of a holiday that has been created ‘celebrating’ mothers. Because it alienates a good chunk of their congregation.

The mothers that lost their kids. The women who have no chance of being biological parents. The men who know they won’t be able to get their wife pregnant. The children who have lost their mothers. The children who have a terrible relationship with their mothers. The families going through divorce. The women who gone through pregnancy or baby loss in the last year…perhaps more than once.

I’m not saying don’t support parents and families. As I’ve said, parenthood is tough. And I believe the cliche statement of ‘it takes a village to raise a child‘ is true. I’m glad to be a villager, and know that my little part in the lives of my friends’ kids is teeny tiny compared to what my friends do as their parents. Children don’t come out the womb with instruction manuals, and in an age of Pintrest, twitter, facebook Netmums and all the rest parenthood is getting increasingly competitive and it isn’t helping parents’ self esteem in their abilities to parent. It’s my role to speak truth t my friends that they are not crap parents if they haven’t pulled an all nighter creating a cake that looks like a giant pirate ship exactly like the one on Pirates of the Caribbean or shelling out £100s so thirty kids from their daughter’s class can go to a soft play party and watch a magician. It’s my job to point out the smiles and joy when their daughter made a camper van from a cardboard box, or when their son offered up one of their new toys to be played with a rare moment of willingness to share…

That all being said I don’t agree with singling out mothers for a special day in church. I don’t agree with singling out anybody – I’d be equally insulted if they created ‘singles day’! I wouldn’t want Valentine’s Day to become all about marriage either (or about singleness!) It really comes down to that sentence again – celebrating what brings us together. Oh, and being passionate about what Jesus taught us to be passionate about.

If you are on church leadership, I urge you to consider your plans for church services next year when Mother’s Day and Father’s Day roll around again. Why not make it a time of pilgrimage to home church like it was first invented, or celebrating church family community? I have a biological mother, but I remember having those wonderful men and women who had my back when I was a student in Aberdeen. I’m so thankful for them!

Ultimately, it would be great if everyone could go to church no matter what day Sunday falls on. :)

 

Blondish koala goes to Aberdeen…

Do you want to see a picture of a lassie who has enough fingers to count up the sleep she has had in one weekend on top of a packed “Soul Sunday”…? Ok then…
bank holiday bedhead

Yep, that was the sleepy blondish koala this morning with some serious bedhead going on. Actually it was probably partly ‘beach head’ from yesterday! Can I hear a ‘Hallelujah‘ for Bank Holiday Mondays that coincide with school holiday Mondays? (Amen.)

It’s actually the first time I’ve ever had a Bank Holiday Monday that has been a school holiday with no religious festival theme to it (ie Christmas and Easter). Late Saturday night, my friend and I drove up to Aberdeen and stayed in a hotel. We arrived just before 1 a.m. – and because he knew the staff we discovered they’d left out some cool stuff in our rooms!

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For some reason we thought it would be a good idea to watch a movie, and finding that there were no good movies on TV at 1 a.m. we resorted to watching Edinburgh Comedy Fest Live from 2012. And went to bed at 2.30 a.m.

And got up at 7.30 a.m. (at least I did).

Being in Aberdeen over a weekend is rare for me, and it had been a few years since I’d been able to visit my old church there. For me, City Church Aberdeen is a spiritual home. I went there for the first time the weekend I ‘became’ a Christian, and the folks there stuck by me through some pretty tumultuous times. I was baptised there in 2003, I was part of the worship team, learned how to sing harmonies, lead and wrote songs with my friends there amongst many other things. A lot of the friends I had there have since moved on for various reasons and scattered all over the world now, but some remain in the ‘deen and are still part of the church. The church has grown hugely since I left – they do things differently which is great. And so the opportunity to go check it out and hopefully see some old friends was too good to miss! We headed to the 11 a.m. service which weirdly was held in a school I worked at as part of my first Comm Ed job aged 19. We were even in the same room where I held the workshops we did on Thursday lunchtimes! They also now have a church plant in the community centre where I worked full-time after I graduated uni. It’s a bit freaky. :)

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Of course the afternoon was spent at the beach. Some surfed, some just picnicked in the sun, some of us got ice cream, some of us skated, and others went to A&E. Before you ask, it wasn’t a sporting injury. One of my friends somehow managed to sprain his thumb while sitting down on a picnic blanket. I think I’ve been a bad influence on him – it usually me injuring myself doing everyday things like that!

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One of our new surfer friends invited us for a cup of tea, before a bunch of us returned to City Church again for their evening service lured by the promise of their toastie bar. There more friends there, and the surprise of one of the girls I knew from doing youth ministry at a church in Edinburgh being in the worship band that evening! I forgot to mention that in the morning, I met 3 of the ‘yoof’ (all now grown up students living in Aberdeen) I had gotten to know from helping out at Youth Weekends, singing at Powerpoint and being part of the Youth mentoring and Youth prayer ministry team at MBC (now Central). It was lovely to see them all settled into Aberdeen life and it was encouraging to see they’d found a ‘home’ at the church that had been my home as a student. You always hope when youth ‘graduate’ to work or being students that they’ll find church homes in the places they go.

And so we returned, arriving back in Edinburgh exhausted, but encouraged. A little sunkissed and with achy muscles from boarding all afternoon in one way or another.

Once again, I climbed into bed well after Midnight so glad for the awesome road trip we’d taken.

Campfire song of the weekend? Without a shadow of a doubt, it was ‘Alice the Camel‘ which the Mini Kahuna now knows very well. He likes to decide how many humps Alice is going to have, and his favourite number is ‘no humps’ so he can sing/shout ‘because Alice is a LORSE!’ (that’s ‘horse’ to those of you who don’t speak Mini Kahuna lingo).

Look out for more photos of our Sunday on the Soul Surfers blog soon… :)

Growing roots…

I was at church this morning, and an example used in the sermon prickled a little bit on me. They were talking about Christians who blend into their community so that no one can tell they are Christians – and the words ‘they go become scout troop leaders‘ was used.

It made me stop and go - is that what people think of me becoming a Guider?

So I wanted to explain a little  bit why I decided to go back into Girlguiding.

First of all, Girlguiding was a key part of my life – almost as much as dancing – from age 5 to 18. When I was 10, my Mum and stepfather bought a house so I could get into the catchment area for a better high school than the one I should have gone to. I was academic, and was bullied from a young age because I much preferred reading books to trying cigarettes and sneaking alcohol into children’s playparks on a Friday evening. Where I grew up, a lot of kids experimented with alcohol from age 10. I didn’t know that wasn’t normal until I went to high school. I was nervous because I knew nobody going into my high school. Turned out our new nextdoor neighbour was a Guider, and she invited me to go to her Guides. Automatically I met several girls in my soon-to-be high school, and two girls who were going to be in my year. One of those girls incidentally was a Christian and became a very good friend of mine. Anyway. It meant that I got to become part of community before I moved there – and it made the move much easier.

When I became a Christian, I stopped Guiding soon after because I ended up involved with church-run youth work, and eventually this led into me getting a job in Community Education. All my spare time was taken up by uni, church outreach and socialising with friends. When I moved back to Edinburgh, I moved around a lot. I became part of a church. Within a few weeks, I was involved with worship and youth work again. I didn’t have much time for anything else. And my hope was that I would be able to move into my own place back in the area where I grew up and the majority of my friends live.

4 years in Edinburgh and I realised that it wasn’t going to happen – at least not any time soon.

Trying to part of two communities where I didn’t physically live was exhausting. I realised I was fighting against reality and I had to accept where I was. I remembered reading about the Israelites in exile, and how God told them to build roots while they were in exile.

I left church for a while and took stock at what I was putting my energy into. I met some people from Girlguiding Scotland at a freshers week event I was working at a year before that. I knew they needed volunteers, and I had really missed Guiding!

So I contacted them and waited. Last summer, they got in touch and I found out they had a Guide Unit just down the road from me needing a new volunteer.

And the rest they say…is history!

I’m now getting to know people in the community where I live. Girls come round to my door to drop off forms and money for trips. I go on the bus and see people I know. I was standing with my neighbours remembering those who had been killed in war on Remembrance Sunday. I’m discovering other ways to know and be involved in serving my community.  It’s a bit disconcerting at times, because in the last 4 years I’ve gotten used to complete anonymity going home. That is no longer guaranteed. I was horrified a few months ago to realise when I woke up after falling asleep on the bus that one of our Guides was on the same bus and she probably saw me head slumped against the window, mouth wide open… (classy).

For me going back into Girlguiding was making difference in girls’ lives. I love that they get to be girls but they get to do everything the boys do too! I love seeing them gain skills, confidence, self-esteem. I love seeing other members of the community encouraged to see young people serving. And it was also about being involved in the place where I live. I now realise how much my Guiders growing up gave to us and the energy involved – I appreciate everything they did. And now, it’s my turn.

The other benefit, is that I’m getting to know the other leaders too. We all live relatively close to each other, and we are building friendships.

I chose to start growing roots in my community.

Girlguiding was just the vehicle in which I’ve been able to do that. :)

Plus, all my friends tell me that it doesn’t take long before you find out I’m a bit ‘weird’ and ‘different’ or that I’m a ‘Jesus freak’. And I’m good with that. I hope that no matter where you find me, you’ll know who I am, what my values are and that I don’t choose my friends based on whether they believe in God or not!

5 years on…

July 2007.

Stranraer.

My friends Carrie & Andy had guilt-tripped encouraged me to go with them to spend a week in Stranraer running a daytime and evening holiday club. I had just moved back to Edinburgh a couple of months before, and I think at that point was on move number 3 or 4 of that year!

Every one of us was about to embark on something new. I was unemployed still really and had just applied for a job at a local charity (yes, the one I work with now). Two were about to start gap years. One had just finished a gap year. Two were about to start new jobs. Andy was applying to become a Church of Scotland minister.We nicknamed our mottley crew ‘Club Crazy Choices’. We knew the coming year would be heading into the unknown. Really we had no idea of all the things that would happen to us that would make those choices seem even crazier than we all anticipated.

1 year later, my friends had bought a house, had become parents and Andy was giving up his job to become a full-time Theology student.

4 years later, Andy graduated and become a ‘probie’ at my friend (the ‘Rev’)’s church. One of those ‘coincidences’. By this time, there was another addition to their family too.

5 years later, and Andy is getting ordained. Tonight, as he gets his own title of ‘Reverend’ and his own Parish to boot!

As much as I’m sad that they aren’t going to live in the same city anymore, which likely means we’ll see even less of each other (we don’t see enough of each other as it is in my opinion!), I’m really excited for what’s going to happen while they are in Eyemouth. It’s also great that they’ve got a place to call home indefinitely before their kids start nursery and school next year.

I know that they’ve got the gifts and skills and passion to be of service to the communities of Eyemouth & Coldingham. I know that there are a whole bunch of us who’ll be there tonight that have their backs (plus all the people who can’t be there who wish they could be there).

They have sacrificed a lot and overcome many challenges to get to this point. I have no doubt there’ll be more challenges to come. But I’m sure it’s all going to be worth it.

And I’m proud to call them my friends!

Now I need to go away and pray, because the pressure is now really on.

Why? Because tonight LFS readers…I become godmother to a minister’s kid.

HELP!

I just hope that the nearest Asda to Eyemouth has got fully stocked up on Frosties and Smart Price Jaffa Cakes ready for Andy’s arrival… :)

 

It’s a small world…

My friends often like to joke that I apparently know ‘everyone‘. Here’s the truth: I really don’t. But I do seem to have some kind of cosmic gift of networking. Or I just seem to notice the way that a big world can turn into a small world for things to happen in a community.

Last year, I left the church I’d called home since I came to Edinburgh in May 2007. However, I remained very good friends with the original members of my smallgroup there – all of us bloggers that some of you might remember from back in ’08! In fact, I’m willing to bet that you might feel like you already know a few of them – namely my friends Brisaac, Lady V and their kids – Miss Sweetroot & the Mini Kahuna! No words could explain what their friendship means to me, and I often joke that I’m an honourary member of their clan. :)

All of our smallgroup liked to dream big. But our dreams were very different because we are very different people. But I loved that they were all down to earth people who didn’t make up weird Christian terms which seem to have become part of life on what my friend and I call ‘Planet Christian‘ (I have suggested we do a blog series on ‘Planet Christian’ because you just gotta laugh sometimes at the ridiculousness of it all).

One of those dreams was what has become known as ‘Soul Surfers‘. Building community around the beach (and protecting our waves and beaches)!

Ok. So. That was going on and I’ve been semi-connected to that through my lovely friends.

Let’s move over to the other family you might feel you know through this blog. My friends, Carrie & Andy and their kids – Elastatoddler & Mr Teapot. These last few years Andy has been training up to be a Minister, which means that I’ve been facing the upcoming challenge of trying to be a godmother to a minister’s kid! (And you might remember how that’s been going…particularly when Elastatoddler has asked me to read bible stories with him about baby Jesus and Noah & the ark. At least I’ve helped him learn about healthy eating). I was so excited when they ‘coincidentally’ ended up doing Andy’s probation year at the church where Brisaac’s good friend ‘the Rev’ is the minister. But as probation time came to an end, I started to get nervous…where would my friends end up when they had to find their own parish?

My main prayer was “God, you know, whatever is best but…well…um……PLEASE DON’T SEND MY FRIENDS TO A REMOTE ISLAND!! But you know, I trust you (read: I trust you realise that I will seriously consider never praying again if you send my friends to a place where ferry is the only mode of transport) to do whatever is best God“.

My friends shared with me 5 or 6 places they were considering applying to. One was on an island. Another was in the back of beyond – far, far away. But one I was super excited to hear about because it was the location of one of the good surf spots (and prettiest beaches) on the East Coast of Scotland.

My friend then gave me a heart attack when he said something about a church they’d been invited to preach at. They weren’t allowed to say anything. The way my friends spoke about it made me think it was the middle of nowhere one.

And then I found out…it was the one on the East Coast.

I immediately thought of Soul Surfers and how…FINALLY…this might bring my 2 sets of close friends together to do something really cool. With surfboards and camper vans of course!

And then, I got another surprise. Last week I reconnected with my smallgroup leaders from Holy Trinity (church I started going to last summer). A few days later, one of them came up to me and said ‘Oh, you’ve got to pray for [her husband]‘s Mum’s church. They think they’ve finally found a minister but they’ve got to vote on it’. Oh cool I replied. ‘Where is the church?

Eyemouth

8O

Cue her husband running through to the kitchen as he realised that the ‘Carrie and Andy’ I’d spoken about to them, was the same Andy who might become the minister at his mother’s church.

We then shared stories – and let’s just say it became really clear that a lot has gone on behind the scenes over the last few years that now makes perfect sense! For me it was another connection. I always wondered why I was at HT. Now I think this was one of the reasons.

On Sunday, I got the text to say that the decision had been made – my friends were moving to Eyemouth (next door to my friend’s Mum no less!) so they can minister to the parish of Eyemouth & Coldingham.

In a way – one journey has finished. But a new one is about to begin. And I’m pretty sure sand, sea, surf and BBQ (and of course blueberries and chocolate cake) will be involved. :)

And as I said on facebook, as one of my friends finishes training, the very next day another friend started her training at ‘vicar school’. It’s like going full circle!

To Cairngorm or not to Cairngorm…?

This weekend I’m supposed to be going to a young adults retreat in the Cairngorms with some folks from my church. I’d kinda forgotten that it was this weekend with things being so busy (and I’d forgotten to put it in my diary). I’m nervous about it for several reasons.

Firstly, I’m not a huge fan of church weekends away. Secondly, I don’t know the other people going particularly well. Thirdly, I have no kitchen making it difficult to prepare for a weekend where I will have virtually no control over what I can eat. Fourthly, I’m worried we could get snowed in. Lastly, the last time I was at the place we were staying was on a Geography revision weekend – a few days before I started my Higher exams.

It was at this centre where I was hanging out a window with my friend’s phone trying to get reception so I could chat to my boyfriend. It was on my last ever day of high school we left for our weekend, and the last ‘hurrah’ to say goodbye to folks I’d shared 5 years with. It was that weekend I prayed I wouldn’t get my period because I didn’t want to be dealing with being ill while we were traipsing up mountains and through forests looking at the power of glaciation. It was during this weekend when I started to feel nauseous. It was that weekend I thought it was strange my period never came and relief was laced with traces of uneasiness that I tried to ignore.

It’s not exactly a place I’ve ever wanted to return to.

At the same time I wonder if it’s a chance to do something I wanted to do last June in the NW Highlands.

Positive thoughts and prayers will be muchly appreciated – for whatever I decide to do this weekend. In Edinburgh or the Cairngorms.

For all the nosy blog readers – a life of BK update!

And by nosy, I mean curious and wondering just like I am about the bloggers whose blogs I follow! ;)

Tee hee.

Well, first of all. The builders. A few people have been asking why we have builders (having read some tweets or facebook statuses which have occurred – like when one of them came and started banging, I assume to demolish something at 7.15 a.m. when it was still pitch dark; or the day off I had where they were drilling all day long and I wished I’d been at work instead!). Actually our builders are pretty decent blokes, and we get on fine with them. They also think it’s funny that I teach sex ed classes in high schools and when they found that out would point to some of the younger guys and say ‘You need to tell him about all that stuff, aye, he needs those lessons. He needs some of your pregnancy counselling too!

They also tried to wind me up (after I pulled them up about the 7.15 a.m. start!) saying they were coming on a Saturday morning to get a delivery of cement at 5 a.m.

They just laughed when I raised my eyebrows and said ‘Aye right!‘ (which is a Scots sarcastic version of ‘Oh no you won’t!’ or ‘I don’t believe you’). Anyway, we’re almost a month in and this is the view from my old bedroom:

I’m now in the other attic bedroom (which used to be for my brothers). The room my brothers now stay in has our freezer, tumble dryer, and a shower door, sink and toilet waiting to be installed at some point during the build. The contents of our dining room and hall are in my old room, and our fridges are in the hall.

Confused? Me too.

I got a fringe. Already it’s doing strange things. I have a ‘cow’s lick’ which means my hair does part very well and curls on one side.

Work is crazy busy at the moment. At the beginning of the week I was feeling more stressed than I have done for a very long time. I wasn’t sleeping, I was waking up feeling panicked and I felt completely on edge 100% of the time. Despite having loads to do, I took the whole of yesterday off (having done my hours for the week) and feel much better for it. I’m also considering creating some kind of ‘Don’t drink and have sex‘ campaign for next Christmas. Seriously, alcohol really does up the chances of contraception failure.

Powerpoint was awesome. My new earphones worked a treat. I kept having to push my right ear back in so it wouldn’t fall out and get tangled in my hair though. I was most amused when I got tagged in this photo from the event…caught in the act! I also got asked to join the worship team at my new church this past weekend. It was very different from I was used to, and knew hardly any of the songs so it made it a bit challenging, but the folks in the band were really friendly. I’m finally getting to know people a bit better now, and it’s a lot more like my church in Aberdeen apart from Sunday services are very different from what I’m used to.

With Valentine’s Day having been this week, we’d been working on a fundraising project with the Guides called ‘Bake A Little Love‘ to raise funds for Scottish Love in Action. Our Guides have spent the last month making Valentine’s Cards, making yoghurt pots into baskets filled with chocolates and decorating jars to fill with sweets, decorating biscuits and us leaders made some Valentine cupcakes. We had a few stalls after the morning service at our local church (where we meet) and raised £100 in an hour. Amazing! We pretty much sold out all our stalls!

I can’t remember if I mentioned before but on 16th January, I received my application form to join the GirlGuiding Association as an official member so I can start my leadership training to become a qualified Guider. Thought that was quite funny given what the blog post I had written on that day. :)

I had a few social things planned this week and one by one they seemed to go to pot as people got sick. However, I’m glad that one social event was able to happen as my lovely friend Ruth was up in the beautiful burgh and so we had a wee tweet up with our friend Lynn. After a meal, we went to the Dome (a very posh venue in Edinburgh) for a drink, I tried to take a pic of us all on Lynn’s phone and this was the result:

Not showing the best of my photography skills there, but oh well. We had a lovely night catching up. The only sad thing was that we didn’t spot any celebrities this time. It is hard to top meeting Alf though.

And so there we have it. Attempt number 3 at going to see The Descendants shall be made next week. I also really want to see the Muppets Movie. I think sadly I’ve missed my chance to see J.Edgar.

I’m also happy that NCIS has FINALLY made a return to Channel 5, wondering where The Mentalist has gone (it was on for 4 weeks, and then disappeared) and while waiting for those bought the first season of White Collar on DVD after a recommendation by my friend Anthony. I’m now waiting for season 2 to make it on to DVD here (sigh).

So that my bloggy friends is what has been going on in the life of the brunette koala. :)

What has been going on in your life?

Churchaversary

Remembrance Sunday has always been important to me. I wish there were no wars, but I absolutely agree with remembering all the people who’s lives have been lost in the line of duty.

As a member of the Guide Association, I went to church twice a year. Once in February for Thinking Day, and once in November for Remembrance Sunday. I would come with a skirt and my Guide jumper on (the skirt was forced upon me) and my collection money with the poppy on my sash next to my Promise Badge.

A couple of months into my first year of uni, I was questioning whether I had made another huge mistake in my life by going to university at 17. I believed I hadn’t, but words of doubt from others were ringing in my head, and I was homesick. It was the beginning of November, so carefully avoiding my friend who went to a church that sounded nuts, I asked the other Christian girl on our floor if she went to a ‘Church of Scotland’ church and whether they had a Remembrance Sunday service.

They did, and she let me come with her.

It was a dreich morning, and I was pretty sleepy from partying the night before but at 9.30 a.m. I walked with her and several other students from our halls of residence to the little church in Bridge of Don.

I was shocked to find many more students there, and more who came after us – including a girl from one of my tutorial groups.

I was impressed at the friendliness and the genuine community there.

I asked my friend if I could come back with her every Sunday. I was worried about treading on her territory. I asked her to come and drag me out of my bed each Sunday morning if that’s what it took.

And she did.

Fiona – if you are reading, I’ll forever be grateful to you for doing just that. I know that it couldn’t have been easy to come and wake someone who is not only awful in the morning, but was often a little bit hungover as well.

11th November 2001 was the day I went to church voluntarily for the first time, and the beginning of a journey of healing.

I went to Alpha at that church where they accepted me and my friends who I invited to come with me. Those nights of being in a house and having our alpha leaders rather large guide dog plonking herself on my lap are ones I’ll treasure forever. And I’m thankful that even when I stopped going to that church, those 2 alpha leaders kept in touch with me right up until I went out to Australia 4 years ago.

It’s weird to think I’ve been going to church for 10 years now. I find it hard now to try and picture the 17 year old (terrified) girl who was so nervous about being there she called herself ‘Laura Anne‘ because she thought she had to be formal. The girl who’d go to church in vest tops, massive baggy jeans and skater shoes with her bible in the big pockets. The one who feared telling anyone her big dark secret for fear they’d banish her from their community.

This 27 year old is almost unrecognisable from that 17 year old.

In the best possible way. :)

Thank you church and thank you God!

 

The silver lining gifts

On a regular basis, I get platitudes from well-meaning folks that can make me feel like I should be bothered about things that don’t bother me.

The increasingly common one is older people in church who randomly come up to me that they are praying for God to bring me a good husband. I have to try not to laugh when I’ve heard things like ‘Oh, yes, you know in a couple of years, you’ll be married and coming into church with your new baby…‘ It’s not that I’m against being married or being a mother. It’s just that I don’t think I need to be. I personally believe there are more important things to be talking to God about than begging him for a husband, car, children and white picket fence.

Anyway, I digress.

Let me be honest…there are times when I really struggle with how my life is now. My friend was in Edinburgh a couple of weeks ago, and commented on how shocking he found it that I didn’t own a smartphone when I’m pretty into social media. What I do own is a pretty old Nokia that is currently being held together by sellotape and now likes to randomly switch itself off. I would love a smartphone, just as I would like to afford to be able to go to visit friends in different parts of the world or go to conferences. Or live in the flat that I own instead of renting it out while I live in my Mum’s converted attic.

I don’t have these things because I chose a job I love that can only fund me for 18 hours per week, and sometimes doesn’t have the money to pay me on time.

Sometimes in church I feel really left out because I don’t get to do what I’d love to do – minister and encourage parents and families, be involved with the community at the local primary school like my friend Lynn is, or host a smallgroup. It can often feel that church is run by married couples, for married couples and their offspring. I love kids, and I’ve been told from about the age of 3 that I’d make a great mother. It killed me to learn when I was 21 that I probably wouldn’t be able to have children. And one thing I do get jealous of with my married friends is that they have someone to share the burden with (and yes, I know that it isn’t always that way, I have no rose tinted glasses when it comes to marriage). I do not like socialising on my own, and I do miss doing things with a partner. Any single person will tell you how awkward wedding celebrations can get at times!

That all being said: I’m very glad I’m not with a partner who is dragging me down. Being single is better than being in a toxic relationship.

It’s easy to get disheartened sometimes.

But there have been such great silver linings. Being single, not a parent and working part-time has given me some fabulous gifts that I hope others can benefit from – and that means a lot to me. And I would never want to change that.

Making the choices I have in the last 4-5 years I only had myself to think of. It meant I got to go to South Africa and Australia, it also means on a daily basis I only have to take care of me. I’m try to imagine shopping and cooking for other people every single day and having to factor that into my limited diet without limiting theirs. There’s a reason I don’t often eat at other people’s homes, I hate putting that stress on them!

Working part-time has enabled me to stay healthy. Especially in winter when I find it really tough to keep going.

It’s also meant that I can do lots of things I wouldn’t be able to do if I worked full-time, like be part of Powerpoint, volunteering with GirlGuiding, seeing my friends and doing all the extra stuff I do with the charities I work for. It also means that I have an opportunity to support my friends who are trying to work/study and parent full-time!

I’ll give you some examples: 2 weeks ago I was able to help friends by babysitting their son who had chicken pox while one parent worked and the other parent took their other son to a sports activity. This week I was able to help another friend by babysitting their 17 month old to give her the chance to study.

I love being able to do that. I feel honoured that my friends trust me to take care of their most treasured gifts. And I like being able to give something (I hope) back to them for all the encouragement and love they’ve given to me through challenging times and the celebrating times.

The people who offer the well-meaning platitudes? They don’t get it.

They only see the dark clouds and not the silver lining gifts.