Tag Archives: Plans

Guide us, O Lord,
When we have lost our way.
When we are stumbling from one path to another
Because we took our eyes from your lights on the path.
When we are no longer certain of our direction
Because we are confused about the purpose of our journey.
 
Guide us, O Lord,
When faced with an abundance of options
We are paralysed with the fear of failure.
Having fallen in love with holding out for the best opportunity
We have forgotten to be thankful for the freedom of choice.
And in our efforts to do your will
We have forgotten that burning bushes are not an everyday occurrence.
 
Guide us, O Lord
When we boldly dare
To renew our search for your lights on the pathway.
When in following your word
To the pathway of holiness
We shall find the gateway of the narrow path
 
We ask you to remind us of our identity with You;
And to guide us in re-imaging our future
In strength, courage, hope and love.
 
This we ask in the name of our Captain,
Who is Jesus Christ.

Based on Disturb us, O Lord by Francis Drake. Part One: Comfort us, O Lord

That’s it. No more school. No more spending most of my day surrounded by 30 kids, no more pretending to know something about science/Victorians/what an adjective is/what a verb is/what 7x8 is, no more suffering through 30 kids playing the Ukulele for an hour every week, no more yelling at kids to line up and stop crying over Yu Gi Oh cards or Moshi Monsters, no more killing time in assembly by imagining what life is like as a tree, no more despairing over why they've forgotten to use capital letters and full stops, no more having to call parents to tell them that their child just threw up (or worse - don't ask) all over the classroom, no more school.  No more school holidays either. Sad times – I will miss my life of organised chaos.

The last couple of weeks have been filled with lots of goodbyes - some easy, some hard, some accompanied with lots of of cake, some accompanied with lots of alcohol, some tear-filled and some just painfully awkward.

When you leave a job/church/place with a view to not return people will generally mention something about you that they like/have appreciated/won’t forget. You know “Thank you for always helping with...” or maybe “You’re not actually that quiet are you?” Sometimes it's something really nice. Other times you don't know which side of the compliment-insult line it sits on.

Apparently a killer death stare and my earring collection are my most noteworthy characteristics. Talk about a lasting legacy. Or maybe my well dressed evil genius alter-ego is harder to hide than I thought.

What I have realised is that how you act and treat people now is what they will remember- we're all known for something right?

If you want people to remember you as generous and compassionate then you have to actually be generous and compassionate.

If you want people to remember you as understanding and encouraging then you actually have to be understanding and encouraging.

If you want people to remember you as sarcastic and bitter then all you have to do is be sarcastic and bitter.

If you want people to remember you as angry and hostile then all you have to do is be angry and hostile.

It’s not rocket science people. Be kind.

Teacher: Today we are learning about Mary. Who Christians believe is the mother of Jesus.

Child: Who?

Me: Mary, Jesus. They’re in the Christmas story.

Child: What Christmas story?

Me: You know, the reason why Christmas is celebrated. Mary and Joseph and Jesus...

Child: Oh yeh, from the Koran. My mum read some of it to me.

Me: No. Today we’re talking about Christianity. Do you know why Christmas is celebrated?

Child: No.

Me: Which religion celebrates Christmas?

Child: I don’t know.

Me: Christians

Child: Oh.

Thus began RE day. A day in which the normal timetable of maths and literacy is scrapped and instead we talk about religious concepts. Today’s concept was Holy. In particular how Catholics see Mary as Holy.

I've seen several modernised versions of the Christmas story – my fave being Mary of the council estate. But if I’m honest I've never stopped to consider Mary. But today I realised that Mary's response to the angel Gabriel's message is amazing (actual AMAZE-to-the-ING not that over used and abused 'amazing' that we hear on every street corner used to describe everything slightly better than average).

There she is, going about her day when BAM! an angel appears – cue the angelic chorus. The angel tells her that she’ll have a baby, the very Son of God and messiah that they have been waiting for, by the Holy Spirit and she is to call him Jesus. The angel then tells Mary that her cousin who everyone knew as being unable to have kids was actually six months pregnant. The angel then finishes the message with "For nothing is impossible with God." To which Mary replies “I am the Lord's servant. May everything you have said about me come true.”

I find this incredible. An angel comes and gives her life transforming news that not only is God with her, but she will become pregnant with the Son of the Most High who will save the world and Mary responds with “I am the Lord's servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” 

I can't imagine my reaction being quite the same.

There I am going about my day - on the packed train on the way to work/getting some exercise books from the supply cupboard/cooking dinner/chilling with friends (my life is exciting). When BAM! an angel appears. Cue the angelic chorus. I’ve never had an angel personally deliver me a message but I’m guessing it’s like one of those hinge moments in life when you become oblivious to what is happening around you. You know, like when Luke discovered who Darth Vader really was or when Elizabeth danced with Darcy for the first time. Everything else slips away and your sole focus is what is right in front of you.

What if the angel then told me that I was going to run a multinational development social enterprise that would help lift thousands of people from poverty? What if the angel told me I was going to be lead singer in a band that would be bigger than the Spice Girls, Mumford and Beyonce combined? What if God told me I would play a pivotal role in world history? What if God told me I would play a pivotal role in local history? What if God told me I would play a pivotal role in one other person's life?

I can tell you that unlike Mary my reaction would probs me much more like, "Me? You’re talking to me? Are you sure?" And then, much like Sarah (check Genesis) I would probably have laughed in fear and doubt (maybe my parents did prophetically name me after all).  I would have laughed because I feared the path described before me. I would have laughed not because I doubt God, but because I doubt myself. The immensity of the task and journey ahead would sing and dance in my thoughts more than the quiet confidence of God who can use us despite our perceived failings. 

It must have been Mary's quiet confidence that got her through the next few days of conversations with Joseph and her family that would have been so Jeremy Kyle...

Pan to Jezza “Let’s meet Mary. She’s engaged to be married and pregnant but her fiancé is not the baby’s Father. She says an angel told her to call the baby Jesus and he will be the son of God. Her fiancé, a carpenter, is sticking by her. But their families want some answers. Let's bring them out.”

Mary had a confidence in a God who can do all things. Even if those things are life alteringly big. Mary had a confidence in God who can do all things despite the immensity of the tasks ahead.

People often ask me how I'm doing now that I'm exiled in Zone 6.

I tell them "it’s ok, I’m ok." And I am.

But I am also scared.

I am scared that before I know it I will slip into a living coma of a comfortable & complacent suburban life.

I am scared that I’ll begin to confuse the lines between want and need.

I am scared that I won't even notice when I begin to think that neighbours parking outside the wrong house is a crime punishable by getting lost in IKEA for an eternity.

I am scared that I’ll have a 9-5 office job that I don’t really like but am too afraid to leave – because without that I wouldn't know who I was?

I am scared that living in anything but a house with a garden will become unimaginable.

I am scared that I'll start reading the Daily Mail.

I am scared that as I get lulled into a false sense of security my dreams will start to shrink, as will my reliance on the God I love and try to serve.

I am scared that Waitrose will become the norm not a luxury.

I am scared of a life of  No Adventure

I am scared I will get Stuck.

I am scared that one day Jesus will put me in a group with my fellow goats – Matthew 25 y’all, I don’t actually think I’ll turn into a goat, bah!

I am scared that I’ll become a goat and not even care.

I am scared that one day I will realise how comfortable I have become and be too afraid to change it.

I am scared that I will no longer believe that Jesus is enough.

I am scared that I will trivialise the concerns and worries of my fellow suburbanites.

I am scared that I will blame the suburbs for my own laziness.

I am scared that I don't really understand the meaning of perfect love casting out fear (1 John 4 v18).

I am scared that I over dramatise everything.

BUT I do know that God is with me always, even until the end of the age (not infact a LOTR quote but Matthew 28 v 20). So really what is there to be scared of?

What about you, are you scared of anything?

Umm, so when you buy your own domain and launch a new blog an' all you're supposed to announce it to world and do a song and dance about it before you start posting stuff. Yeh, well, that never happened - I don't like to be conventional you know.

But anyway, here we are. Life in Exile.

Goodbye Shoreditch. Hello Zone 6. Also known as The Country/Back Beyond Yonder/The Bush/Exile.

Gone are the bright lights and convenience of Zone 1 life. Gone are my Bengali neighbours, East enders, hipsters, tourists and street art. Gone is my Eastling Crew - I miss you, let's hang out sometime.

Instead I have to walk in the dark when I get home late and we all know that the country is where the crazy axe men are hiding out - I miss you bright street lights and busy roads.  And  now my nearest corner shop is a 7 minute walk away! Can you believe it?! What am I supposed to do when my parents have forgotten to buy milk?

I’m surrounded by 2.4 lifestyle families and pavements with grass verges - which let me tell you is the most annoying thing when you have your very best shoes on and to avoid getting mud on them you have to take a flying leap into the car.

But I do get to enjoy being almost the only commuter that wears bright colours, hi-tops and reads children’s fiction on the way to work. I don’t like the fact that I’m almost the only one who seems happy to be alive - wake up people, life is for living.

This is life in exile. There’s lots to be learned. Come join the party, it's gonna be pure jokes.

Shout out to fellow STARTer Jess who let me guest post for thistrainisboundforglory. A wonderful collection of posts chronicling 'Adventures in...' everything from health to hope, and indecision to Iraq. 
Adventures in...Indecision 
A wise man once wrote that an undecided mind is like a storm tossed sea – going one way and then the other, never settled. #James1v8
I’m always undecided about something – move here, move there, move back or stay where you are. Apply for this job, apply for that job or don’t change job at all. Go for a drink, have one more drink or diet coke please. Pizza or Pasta. Star Wars or Star Trek.  Beyonce or Bieber. Marmite or Nutella...
To read the rest of this post click here (even if you don't read my post you should check out the rest of the blog. You won't regret it).

Who will you spend Christmas* with when you’re 65? Something I was asked recently and in line with the whole Quarter Century Crisis thing, this has proved to be quite a relevant question. But it got me thinking, not only who will I spend Christmas with when I’m 65 but who will I be when I’m 65? 
 
I’ve always hoped that at some point in my life I would become one of those super accomplished women. You know, the ones who can juggle work, family, friends and life while managing to effortlessly rustle up a gourmet meal for twenty at the drop of a hat whilst wearing a ballgown. It's not hard to see that I am so not her right now. But surely now is the time to start becoming that person?
 
To be honest I find it hard to envisage life beyond July (although plans for August are beginning to look Excellent As) and so thinking about the next 42 years is Far Out. But here are some considerations for Christmas 2055:
 

Will I have an open house policy of welcoming any family member (including the ones you'd rather not be related to) plus assorted guests into my home with open arms? Or will I only invite a privileged few (and definitely not those strange relations who rather lower the tone) to share the yuletide festivities of my home?

 
Will I have taken time to put up decorations (complete with this year’s theme of handmade arts and crafts ) or will a sullen looking artificial tree crammed into the corner of the kitchen suffice?
 
Will I have managed to effortlessly cook a five course feast (including four meat choices, two fish courses and at least five different desserts) without ending up on the kitchen floor crying for my mother?
 
Will I be serving only seasonal and organic produce or will I be microwaving whatever was on offer at Tesco? (avoiding anything that claims to be beef, obvs)
 
Having decided that pointless gift giving is a wasteful social norm, will I have braved the wrath of many by giving everyone a Kiva loan instead? 
 
Having banished all internet and game devices for the day will I manage to keep everyone entertained with a rousing sing-a-long around the piano (expertly played by myself of course)? Or will it quickly descend into chaos with small children mistaking the household pets for moving Piñatas and the teenagers taking bets on which pet will get caught first?
 
As Hostess Supreme will I mange to help feed the babies, soothe the toddlers’ tears and appease their older siblings’ ploys for more attention without neglecting the elderly relatives? Or having been pushed to the limit by cooking and having too many people in my space will I be grumpily hiding away in the garden hoping that no one can see me smoking and swigging wine from the bottle?
 
Will I make time to actually talk with my family and see how they are or just make awkward small talk about the weather – I mean it has been rather cold lately and they’re saying it might snow in the new year, which would be terrible because how could I possibly get to town to do some sales shopping because we’re hoping to get a new radio in the sales because blah blah blah.
Will I cheerily wave everyone goodbye at the end of the day already planning next year’s festivities? Or will I let them see themselves out in favour of opening up the good bottle of wine that I didn’t want to waste on them at dinner?
Well, I’ve got 42 years to figure it out. Piece of cake.
Who will you be when you're 64 65?
 
*well, actually they said thanksgiving because they were American. But fear not I have a Cultural Relevance Adaptability Licence so it’s ok to change it.

 

I'm too young for this. No really, I am. In this world of accelerated living I have hit my Quarter Century Crisi prematurely (by-the-by who wants to live to be 100 anyway?).

[I also think I'm too young to start writing off every ache and pain as ‘old age.’ But as I can’t be bothered to register with a doctor's surgery in East London and trekking back to Croydon to see a doctor is too much hassle, I'm adopting the ‘old age’ excuse. So I'll just have to deal with limping to school everyday.]

I have everything I need. I live in a great place, in the greatest city in the world.  The kitchen fridge is only ever empty when we’re too lazy to buy anything. I have a job that I enjoy. I have a great family and great friends. God is good. I am blessed beyond measure. I have everything I need. And for the most part I am happy.

So why am I sitting on my bedroom floor, listening Kanye, eating Nutella with a spoon and staring blankly at the wall pondering my life trajectory? Why is it that I'm browsing the self help section of Amazon, wondering if “Twenty Something, Twenty Everything” or “Conquering Your Quarter Life Crisis” is the key to sorting my life out?

I can’t concentrate. I'm not eating properly. And if I think about it too much I can't sleep. One of my best friends thinks I have a secret boyfriend. My mother thinks I have an eating disorder. I think I should just pack my bags and become a missionary. In the Bahamas. Preferably on a beach. With a cocktail in hand.  People who hang out on the beach in the Bahamas need Jesus too you know. And a one way ticket is only £600 (not that I've been looking).

I want to go where God leads but I think He wants me to decide. Only I don’t know what I want (talk about a First World Problem).

School. GCSE’s. A-Levels. University. Travelling. Job.

So far, so predictable, so mundane. Where is the radical life I was planning? I moved to East London to change the world but it pretty much looks the same.

Friends are getting married, working up the career ladder and having babies. Not quite my shade of nail varnish but a comparison none-the-less.

When it comes to work I am (as always) thinking about what to do next. Bahamas anyone?

As for getting married and having kids. Too young. Too dependent on independence and freedom. And too easily bored. A good friend recently told me “If he’s not worth it, then shake the dust from your feet, Child of God.” Amen to that. One of my grandmothers (who is in good health) keeps trying to guilt trip me into having kids by saying that she only wishes she’ll live long enough to see her great grandchildren – I’m the oldest grandchild on that side.  Have you seen what they do to you? And to your clothes? Too many people think I'm into fashion for me to let a child wreck my wardrobe thank you very much (I'm totally on the lookout for an excellent mid length skirt at the mo. Holla if you find a good one).

So here I am. Sitting on my bedroom floor. Listening to Kanye (maybe that’s the problem). Eating Nutella from the jar. Staring blankly at the wall. Yearning for Narnia, because let’s face it; where else would you want to be (besides the Bahamas - obvs)?
But at the end of the day, when all is said and done I rest in a peace not of this world. I rest in a God who is constant despite my inconsistencies. I rest in a God of provision, healing, mercy, grace, forgiveness and above all – love. 

Anyone got some wisdom to share on surviving your Quarter Century Crisis?

P.S. I’m fine. Really I am. I have a life planning session with a friend tomorrow evening.

P.P.S. You youngsters who don’t understand – don't be too smug, it will catch you soon enough. Aches, pains an' all. You have been warned. 

So you’re wondering what’s next, what do to with your life. Join the club. This has been my most FAQ for the past couple of years. When I was in New Zealand we had many many conversations about calling and identity. We had one speaker tell us that we should pray like crazy and not do anything unless God tells us to do it. Another said that we’re not idiots and God knows this so we should figure it out ourselves. I was totally (to use an old skool phrase) confused-dot-com.


And since then it hasn’t gotten that much better. Over the past couple of years I have received a lot of advice on future plans and what I should be focusing on. Some of it has been really helpful and some of it not so much – one friend told me that I should “do something irrational. Have a family.” Thanks. Good Plan. That would solve all my problems right now. And I've even had that awkward conversation of “God told me you should train to be a missionary and then come and join me on the mission field in Asia. Just kidding. But not really. Just kidding. Hahahaha.” Excellent. Ha. Ha. Ha. I just threw up from laughing so much at the hilariousness of that comment, you should really consider becoming a stand up comedian.

Talk about first world problem – too many options and don’t know what to do.

Here is a collection of advice and thoughts and bits of conversations I've has over the past couple of years on how to figure out what's next:

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind...Love your neighbour as yourself. Matthew 22 v 37-39

0 to 25 - Try everything but sin (rock climb, play sport, study arts, study science, write a book).
25 to 30 - Focus on ten things.
30 to 40 - Do two things really well.
40 onwards - Mentor and invest.

So do not worry about having enough food or drink or clothing...Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and He will give you all you need from day to day if you live for Him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern. Matthew 6 v 31-33

God’s will is all over scripture, we know what He wants so why do we keep asking what His will is? Why don’t we instead try and figure out how we, in the fullness of how we've been made, play a part in it? 

How do you want to be living? What are the values and rhythms you want to be living out?

I think we assume that everyone knows what they want to do. It’s much closer to the truth to say that most of us somehow fall into the jobs we have. And only half of those people end up doing something that they like, and only half of those people do something that they love.

We’re not really given space to wander. Some people try out a number of different career paths before they find one they’re comfortable with. But we frown on this and say that they’re flaky. When maybe they’re the ones brave enough to try new things in search of what they enjoy. 

We’ll probs be working till we drop dead on the job, so do something you enjoy. If it takes ten years of wandering to get there then don’t sweat it, you still have another million years until retirement/dropping dead. So don’t be afraid of wandering, but do be intentional. 


Who do you know? Who do you enjoy working with? Who inspires you? What work environment suits you best?

What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?

Maybe there’s not one perfect career for you. There could be several different things that you could really enjoy doing and that you could thrive in. So there’s not necessarily one right option. So don’t worry about making the wrong wrong choice.

Go to New Zealand.


Don’t forget to b r e a t h e.

 

 

I have been all over the place with this. I’ve had days when I’ve been super excited about the future, days when I’ve been so stressed I couldn’t do anything but try to run from my own thoughts (well, more kind of like baking than actually running) and then there’s been the days when I’ve not thought about it so it’s been fine.

The most important thing I have learned about this is that God is there no matter what. Whether I come up with a five year plan in the next week, or whether it takes one/two/five/ten years, God will be there no matter what I end up doing. He does not change. I can count on His character and His promises no matter where I am or what I am doing. And at the end of the day, I’m only visiting this planet.


"And be sure of this: I am with you always, even until the end of the age" 
Matthew 28 v 20