Thursday, 31 May 2012

'Thank God for' Friday!

It's that time of the week again to take a step back and think of things which have God to thank for. This Friday is a particularly good friday as it is the beginning of a whole four days worth of weekend. I have been getting more excited by the day about this weekend as I am going to Brum to visit my very good friend, Miss Rebekah Tubbs.

So this Friday I am going to thank God for Bekah Tubbs!!!

Thanks for your photo Tubes, and credit to Ro for taking the photo. Aren't we so cool in our matching coats?!
It was her amazingly expressive faces just like the one above (she's on the right if you're not familiar with her) that first impressed me. She has the kind of face which can express any complex emotion you might dare to suggest without a single word, e.g. 'I can't believe you don't know how amazing goats are, I love them and they're like soooo much better than sheep' or 'I'm confused, I thought you really wanted to play Scrabble, I got my massive dictionary out and everything'. It's hard to believe until you've seen it but it is a genuine talent.

Another thing I love about Tubbs is her amazing, uncontrollable laugh and her incredible sense of humour. I only have to hear the word 'Frosties' and I know I'll be hardcore laughing for hours.

So how does a nincompoop like myself come to know such a cool character and have the privelege of being able to call her one of my best friends? Well, we were in university together, both in the same halls and also both members of the Christian Union. The CU had a system set up called Prayer Squads where you met up in small groups and prayed together, both for the CU and for each other. Our 'squad' consisted of the two of us, and another girl called Fisayo, who is very lovely, but also pretty disorganised, so mostly it was just the two of us. This meant that our friendship, right from the off, was all centred on Jesus. And we had such amazing prayer times where our eyes and hearts were opened to how amazing our God is and how He fits into our lives.

We kept up this prayer partnership even after we moved out of halls. We got to know so much about each other, and encourage each other with words from the Bible, and actually let ourselves be vulnerable enough to share the burdens as well as the joys in our lives. Then, for our third year, we shared a lovely little house with another lovely girl called Rosie (I'm sure I'll do a TGFF about her sometime). That house was A-MA-ZING! I loved living there, we got to know each other inside out, played a LOT of board games, baked/cooked lots of yummy things and watched a fair amount of period dramas! On a bad day, I only had to go downstairs to find someone who would help me feel better, share advice, pray for me or just share in something fun. Or on a good day, we might decide to do something fun all together like play on the beach or practise acoustic versions of Little Mermaid songs! Bekah was also brilliant whenever I had some difficult question about faith, imparting lots of godly wisdom and insightful Bible passages. We discussed everything from playing the piano to boys to ambitions to sharing the gospel with friends to disney movies, and always she would point me straight to what God had to say about it.

Bekah Tubbs is a very sensitive, persevering, talented, creative, funny, thoughtful, wise, encouraging, facially expressive, helpful, beautiful young woman and I thank God that she is my friend. She has taught me loads and supported me loads and I've had so many fun times and adventures with her. So I am incredibly excited that I get to enjoy her company from Friday evening right through to Tuesday evening this weekend.

Thank God for Rebekah Tubbs.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Exercise Schmexercise

I’ve been thinking about posting about my slightly dysfunctional relationship with exercise for a while and a combination of seeing the Olympic Torch last Friday and recently returning to dancing on a Monday night clinched it.

Now I promise I'm writing this as a useless sportswoman and gym-phobic so don’t worry about me coming down all high and mighty on you!

So many people begin a bad relationship with physical activity at school, myself included (it's a bit of a bugbear). It could be because, like me, they’re a total klutz, so no matter how much enthusiasm they have for the ball to be thrown their way in the playground, likelihood is they’ll get scared and duck and it’ll go straight through their legs. Or it could be that the P.E uniform at school was the horrendous combination that is a huge pair of bright blue gym knickers to wear with a fairly see-through white polo shirt (yowch). It could also be that they weren’t one of the cool kids who made it onto a sports team so consequently they were an object of scorn to their peers and invisible to the P.E teachers. Or all of the above?

My personal way of coping was to have a permanent ‘Music Rehearsal’ during all sports activities from the age of 14 onwards. Potentially not the most positive way of dealing with the reality that is physical activity.

Bizarrely, as a person of exactly the background described above, God, rather ironically, led me to take a year out working at an Adventure Centre before university. “A-ha!” you say, “It turns out she’s more of an outdoor type who enjoys being left to her own devices and making great treks.” Nope, absolutely not,  pretty much everything there terrified me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not scared of heights or of water, but more of my own ability. I get scared that I won’t be able to achieve what I set out to, or that I’ll hold everyone back and annoy them in the process. I’ve a feeling I’m not on my own in these sentiments either right?

Here's a big but.

But, what can you do, as an uncoordinated, unmotivated, unconfident, uncompetitive person, to get fit and healthy? Too many of us feel we are not fit enough to go to the gym, or cool enough to join a team, or bothered enough to leave the house. In my experience, the answer is, ‘Get over yourself’. OK, I’ll try and express it with a little bit more compassion, ‘Just do something’, whether it’s getting in the habit of going for a walk after tea, or joining a dance class, or finding a friend to go to the gym with. Everyone is capable of something, don’t worry about what other people are doing around you or what clothes you’re wearing or about turning up on your own, don’t worry if you have to take the pace down to a slow walk and glug back loads of water, just get yourself and keep yourself moving. The endorphin rush is worth it - yes, correct, those happy hormones found in chocolate.

For me, the something was going to classes at the gym. I felt that I needed someone to tell me what to do so that I knew I was doing something that was really working, but at least in a class I could hide in the middle of lots of other people. Now it turns out that I LOVE going. I get a real buzz from pushing that little bit harder when I think I’ve no energy left, from seeing the progress as things get easier and moves click in my brain so I can try the next step up. I especially love Step Aerobics, but that’s just because I’m a bit of a nutter!

The Olympic Flame is relaying right across our country, as a symbol that we are an Olympic nation, and sport is not just for the elite. And on a personal note, I want to enjoy my body because I believe it is marvellously made by an awesome God. Why not join in the action? ;)

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Thus sings my dearest jewel...

Something you may or may not know about me.
I sing in a choir.
A lovely ladies choir who I love to pieces and they love me. It's more like going to sing with 28 aunties every Tuesday evening - I am frequently reminded that they knew me since before I was born! We sing a massive variety of music probably ranging about 7 centuries (when the choir was originally formed back in the 60s it was called The Gwent Elizabethan Singers) and at the moment I am particularly enjoying a Madrigal we're learning. Madrigals are funny because none of them are really much alike and they often have quite silly words. Some might have been pretty explicit at the time of writing (see 'A kiss is a harmless pleasure' below)! I like the words and the (very) old fashioned romance of this one but also the honesty and common sense in matters of love, check it out:

Thus sings my dearest jewel;
In love delay is cruel,
Or come and kiss me quickly,
Or say thou dost not love me.
Fa la la...

Now sings my lovely treasure,
In love a kiss is a harmless pleasure,
Fa la la...

Like it?
Are you into any unusual music?
Is this your idea of romance?

Friday, 4 May 2012

'Thank God for' Friday

A twofold thankfulness session this week:

Thank God for ...

my job

and democracy.

Work has been getting a little tedious lately, the excitement of doing something new has worn off. The easy bits are boring, the hard bits are frustrating, the holidays are few. BUT, that is just me having a rubbish attitude. There are so many people my age, many that I know, who are unemployed or employed in jobs which don't fit their skillset. I have a job which requires a mathematical degree. I work with lovely people, in a successful but friendly company doing something that I'm pretty well suited to. This is surely worth thanking God for.

Moreover, the work I do, somewhere further down the line ends up with safe and effective drugs being brought to market that can save or improve lives. So it's not just some pointless, demotivating, life-draining exercise. It is worthwhile. Just in all the number crunching and excel spreadsheet completing I had forgotten that. 

Further still, as a child of God I am designed to work. He is creator and sustainer of all the universe, if that's not a full-time job then what is? I am made in His image to reflect Him, so work is a way of getting closer to Him, bringing order out of chaos, creating something and making a positive impact. The first thing God did after creating man was to give him a job, God clearly thinks work is great*. There are also loads of people at work who haven't heard or don't yet understand how amazing Jesus is and I have a fantastic opportunity to share that with them, through my life and my words.

And democracy? Well, I voted this morning in my local election, no-one holding a gun to my head over who I voted for, didn't need to burn my bra on the way, and even if who I voted for doesn't gain power, I can have confidence that the way they got their was fair. We moan a lot and it's not perfect, but our country is still a pretty great place to live :)

Thank God.

*Some of my favourite verses from the Bible about work:
1 Corinthians 10:31 'So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.'

Colossians 3:12-17 '
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.'

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Happy and Joyful

I was in a bit of a grump today, but for the following reasons I am now feeling happy:

  • Shared in a lot of laughter this evening with Focus (will explain what this is in another post sometime)
  • Walked home in the rain (this is actually a good thing in my book) and it was warm and it was beautiful and I saw a frog close up.
  • My Mum made an amazing beef pie for tea.

And for the following reasons I am full of joy:

  • Listened to an excellent sermon on my way home from work about washing up which was a really good reminder of gospel truth but also really practical and inspiring.
  • The words from this Rend Collective Expermint song ring so true:
                            'We've been oceans apart,
                             But You part oceans to be with me'
  • God is reminding me of my purpose where I had forgotten it.