Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Pet Peeves {3}

So every now and then (as in, I haven't done this for over a year) I give you lovely people in the blogosphere an insight into my inner weirdness. I share my hidden grump on subjects ranging from School P.E. to miscellaneous mugs. Please bear with me, I am honestly quite a happy, sunny kind of a person otherwise, just sometimes you need to have a bit of a vent about something.

Today it's names. Don't worry, I'm not going to go all Katie Hopkins on you. It just gets my goat when people assume it's ok to shorten names. If you introduce yourself with one name, why is it ok for someone to call you something else? Maybe if they hear other people generally calling you something shorter/different then fine. But otherwise, why would you? It's either lazy or rude.

I used to be proper vigilante about this and tell people off right from the offset that my name is definitely Bethan and never Beth, but apparently that was a bit intimidating. However, if you let it slide, then how long for? The longer you leave it the more awkward it gets. Anyone know of any ways of getting people to address you as you'd like them to, without ending up sounding like the rude person yourself?

So there you have it, I realise I've now opened myself up to just about everyone calling me Beth on purpose to annoy me (or even worse, Bethany, that's just plain not my name *Ting Tings*) but it's been growing in frequency and I felt I had to say something.

Disclaimer:- if you realise that you've been calling me Beth then don't worry I don't hate you and it's not a defriendable offence, it just makes me wince a little and it doesn't feel like me.

Promise I'll make my next blog less ranty!

Any thoughts?

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Bezalel

Happy Sunny Sunday blogosphere :)

A month or so ago I went to see Stuart Townend live in Cardiff. He is an extremely gifted Christian musician/songwriter. The evening was fantastic, a great mixture of songs I knew and others I didn't, as well as a mixture of music and speaking about music and what the Bible says about worship. Around the same time I was reading Exodus and had just got to the bit where they build the Tabernacle. There's a really cool little snippet about a guy named Bezalel who God chooses, not for his leadership or strength but because he's a good craftsman:

31 1-5 God spoke to Moses: “See what I’ve done; I’ve personally chosen Bezalel son of Uri, son of Hur of the tribe of Judah. I’ve filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him skill and know-how and expertise in every kind of craft to create designs and work in gold, silver, and bronze; to cut and set gemstones; to carve wood—he’s an all-around craftsman. (Exodus 31:1-5 - The Message)

My favourite point in the evening was Stuart Townend singing a song I had never heard called Never Failing Love. It's based on 1 Corinthians 13, a well known passage often read at weddings, that talks of a radically different kind of love that comes through Jesus. The beauty of the songwriting and performance reminded me of Bezalel, another guy whose gifts God used to reveal His glory. I was inspired to do the same so I got a copy of the music to Never Failing Love and have been practising it. This is a very simple video, I apologise for the poor quality, I just used the video function on my normal camera. I can't claim to be as skilled a musician as Stuart Townend either, but I hope that listening to these words and this music will make you think again about God and the way that He loves.

If I sang the songs the angels sing,
If I grasped the depths of everything,
Though the mysteries of this world were mine -
I’m nothing without love.
I could give to every child in need,
I could save the planet from our greed,
I could stand for justice till I bleed -
And never know His love
Love is patient, love is kind,
Not envious or boastful;
Humble, pure and undefiled,
Rejoicing in the truth.
I could give my money to the poor,
I could preach the gospel door to door,
Even save a thousand souls or more -
And still not know His love
Love is trusting, quick to mend,
Protecting and forgiving,
Persevering to the end -
This love will never fail.
When the finest words have passed away,
And the best we have is yesterday,
There is one thing that is here to stay -
His never-failing love,
His never-failing love.
Stuart Townend & Mark EdwardsCopyright © 2011 Thankyou Music

Friday, 31 May 2013

Mix Tape

I thought I'd give anyone who reads this a little summery treat! A break from my random ramblings, and instead some tunes that have been putting a smile on my face and will hopefully put one on yours.

MUST be played loud!


and chill...

and finish with some pure class...


Hope you like it. Let me know if you do :)

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Sticky notes!

So I was left home alone for a week as my parents went on holiday. Most of the time I've been working or out somewhere but some nights I got my friend Megan to stay over as I'm not very good at being on my own. Megan is a whole heap of fun when she comes, but even more so after she's gone! I hear what you're thinking, what can I possibly mean by that? Well, I leave for work early in the morning so I just let her sleep and get up and go when it suits her. On Monday evening when I got in from work, I found the following:


As I continued to walk through the living room, I read an exciting tale about a completely fictional character, 'Bethandra' and her journey to 'lushest city' and the scary encounter along the way with an 'ugly trolley'! This definitely put a smile on my face after my first day back at work!

Then on Thursday evening, I came home to find my laptop plastered in interesting 'facts'!


This again was lovely, and made me chuckle quite a bit but it actually got me thinking about the power of sticky notes! I mentioned in my holidays post about reading a book called 40/40. It's a really cool little book with a kind of interactive devotional for the mornings and a quick reflection before you go to sleep, and as the name implies, it lasts for 40 days. I really like the devotionals because they're short enough that you can fit them into your routine easily, but they're not wishy washy, and they're designed to keep you thinking about the theme/passage throughout the day. 

There are 7 sections: read, reflect, pray, ponder, chat, write and action. I'm going to blog just about the 'write' section. Each day, in the 'write' section, the writer suggests something relevant to the reflection, to write on a sticky note and put in a specific place. For example, on day 1, the writer suggests to put 'Jesus the light of the world' on a light switch you use regularly as the reading included the following:
'In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.' John 1:4-5
 At first, I thought, 'Oh I won't actually bother doing that, I'll just think about it.' But actually, when left to just think about stuff, our minds are not naturally going to stick to helpful truths and encouraging words. If I'm honest, I'm most likely to think about food or guys when left to my own devices! So maybe there really is something in this sticky note thing and I think the key reason is simply that they're small! Small enough to put anywhere; I'm not going to read the Bible in my car, but I might notice a little post-it on the dashboard. They're also small enough for my mind, I think little encouragements and nuggets of truth are just as important as deep, complex theology and philosophy, and most of the time, they're all my busy mind can take hold of.

So thanks Laura for the book and Meg for the messages, they're transforming my mind for the better :)

Over to you now readers, what would you write on a sticky note and where would you put it?


Friday, 10 May 2013

'Thank God for' Friday

It's another thankful Friday and I am feeling very blessed. So I'll get straight into it and thank God for...

Holidays!

I got back last night from a week's worth of fun in the sun in Crete with my friend Laura Whitmill (who I am also extremely thankful to God for). Technically I booked the holiday, and the nice people at Thomson delivered it, but there are so many ways in which we saw it was actually God's provision and blessing throughout the time. Firstly, the timing, both of us had had a pretty hectic lead up to it and were running out of steam, which we couldn't have foreseen when booking it. We both kept saying how amazingly relaxed and refreshed we felt, and how needed that was.

So relaxed on a (free) pedalo enjoying stunning scenery.

Secondly, our safety, there are many things that could go wrong when you venture abroad but we were kept safe while travelling (even when our plane was hit by lightning on the way back) and during our stay. The place felt so secure that never once did I worry about where I'd left my things, and we both remained healthy and uninjured for the whole time, even in the more extreme activities (which I'll get to later!)

Loving life at Disco Dijonossos!

We were also hugely blessed to be able to spend time with God and be refreshed by the Bible. Laura had bought us both a copy of 40/40 which is all about renewing your mind and guides you in biblical reflection. There are so many truths that I was in need of being reminded of and it did so in a really refreshing and engaging way; truths such as God's goodness in creation, the way that He sees us, His faithfulness and perfect planning, the way that He transforms lives and more.


You can never really be sure what a place will be like when you book, but we struck gold with our resort. The location, buildings, facilities, staff, food, drink and well, everything, was excellent. I'd definitely recommend Nana Beach to anyone, regardless of age group or interest as there was so much that you could do, or not do and there were several pools, restaurants and bars to suit all preferences.

Nana Beach really looked after us, they even gave us an Easter present!
Last, but definitely not least, we were blessed by each other. We really wanted the same things out of a holiday, and so every decision was unaminous! We enjoyed doing the same things and liked the same ratio of rest to activity and we had lots of laughs. We also did lots of crazy things like learning the handshake from the Parent Trap, going Paragliding and going on a rubber ring ride towed by a speed boat! Moreover, we talked about lots; things that only matter a little bit and things we think are really important, things that we're struggling with and things that bring us joy. Certainly, speaking for myself, I found these conversations so encouraging, inspiring and challenging and God certainly used Laura to help me understand and love the gospel more.

We had a similar sense of silliness! Night time in the kids' pool!

So today (what's left of it) I am thanking God for all his goodness over a wonderful holiday.


Friday, 5 April 2013

'Thank God for' Friday

Today is Friday, and not just any Friday, it's a Hen Friday! I've been having fun making plans and creating things and organising people in preparation for this weekend for a couple of months now which I've been enjoying a lot, so I'm looking forward to seeing reactions and hopefully seeing people enjoying themselves this weekend. But the one thing that no Hen Weekend would be complete without, is a Hen! Our Hen in question is rather special, and so today, I would like to...

...thank God for Sarah Fay =D

I've been friends with Sarah for a few years now, and the longer it's been, the more wonderful I find she is. We studied Mathematics together at Aberystwyth University and Sarah was the girl in the class who knew everyone's name and always had something nice to say to everybody. She was the girl who resurrected the MathSoc so that we might unite more as friends and not just coursemates. She was the girl I spent hours in the library with while everybody else was still at home for the holidays but we were burrowing into revision with only each other, a yard of Jaffa Cakes and Tegwen the librarian for company!

She and her (then) boyfriend (now fiance) started attending the church I went to and we got to know each other better and became closer. The two of them started coming round to my house weekly and we, along with my housemate, would have a Bible study. Those times were amazing. Sarah and Alex were so enthusiastic, interested, encouraging, honest and good fun. I think we all grew a lot in our faith through those times. We'd also joke about our lack of job application success and were going to make a 'no job club' to support each other after Uni, but then by God's amazing blessing, Sarah, Alex and myself all ended up with job/study opportunities in South Wales.

Since then, they have just brought so much sunshine and refreshment into my life. Not having many friends still in this area, it's been so wonderful to be able to call in at theirs on my way home. They are so welcoming and gracious; I never ever feel conscious of hanging out with a couple, they are a joy to spend time with individually and together. It's been especially amazing to see them establishing their faith and getting stuck into a church they love and who love them. Sarah encourages me to trust God and to be so thankful for Jesus and to include him in my daily life. She spurs me on to grow, she helps me step out and do things I'd be scared to do otherwise. I know that she would be there if ever I needed her with tea, cake and simple love. So it's an honour and a joy to be her bridesmaid and I'm very excited about this weekend!

Thank God for Sarah Fay. (And Alex too, but he's not a hen!)

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Home Sweet Home

God's timing is impeccable. I've had a lot of thoughts and processes swimming around my head and heart recently. One major thought occupying my mind was this; 'When am I going to get my own house?' I do love my parents and they are so good to me and we've got into a good routine of how we live together now that I'm an adult and back from uni. However, there is an inner frustration that I'm not totally independent and I would like to have a space that I can really put my own stamp on and settle in and welcome others into. Also, as I commute to Swansea every day, it can feel like my life is split in two and I would really like to live, work and worship locally. 

These desires seem fair and harmless enough, however they were getting to the point where I was picking out the specific house and calculating what I'd need for a deposit, and how much all the fees associated would come to and how much it would cost to furnish a house and considering whether a bank would even give me a mortgage, despite these things still being well out of my financial reach. And then, feeling that it's unjust that a young person on a decent, stable income and paying a fair share of tax should not be able to afford even a small house in a relatively inexpensive area, I became fixated on the idea and daydreamed incessantly about it.

This is where God's timing comes in. Quite a while ago, I'd managed to get myself roped into helping at a youth weekend in Llantwit Fadre via my friend's auntie. The aim of the weekend was to educate young people about the realities of homelessness, both intellectually and practically. So there were talks about factors that might cause a person to be homeless, what it's like to be homeless, how we can have a positive impact on the lives of homeless people etc. But also, we'd be sleeping outside in shelters made from cardboard boxes, eating very primitively and scarcely, away from all home comforts and mainly outside. As the weekend grew closer (and even during), I did consider finding an excuse not to do it; the weather was pretty horrendous, I was already pretty shattered from working all week and I just plain didn't want to.

However, this just revealed the selfishness of my heart and God taught me lessons that I really needed teaching. Homeless people don't have a choice about where they're going to sleep that night, or what they might eat, if anything. My little strop about getting on the property ladder seemed pretty ridiculous really. As it's Lent, I'm currently not eating chocolate or cake, and halfway through the weekend, all the young people and leaders were rewarded for how we'd done so far with goodies of chocolate cakes and brownies. A couple of people said, 'Poor you', because I chose not to eat them, but actually it made me recognise how rich I am, both in the possessions and the choices I have. 

So, while I am still human, and struggle on a daily basis with how selfish I am and my worldly desires, I think Jesus did something in me to put things in perspective; to help me grip a little less tightly to what I own and trust that all good gifts come from him anyway and in his timing. I've also made few resolutions about what I might personally do to support work with the homeless, one of which I mentioned in my last post. The whole experience makes me think of this encounter of a rich young man and Jesus:

' Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, ‘Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?’
‘Why do you ask me about what is good?’ Jesus replied. ‘There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.’
‘Which ones?’ he enquired.
Jesus replied, ‘“You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honour your father and mother,” and “love your neighbour as yourself.”
 ‘All these I have kept,’ the young man said. ‘What do I still lack?’
Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’
When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.'      Matthew 19:16-22
Jesus was so right, I am a rich young woman and it wasn't until I gave up my phone and nice clothes and my car and central heating and tasty food and a comfy bed and BBC news and all my other home comforts, that I could recognise how much I have in him, and truly be thankful, and desire to show his love to others who have so much less. It's probably a lesson I need to learn over and over.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Money Money Money

I know I've had a bit of a 'season off' blogging, I'd completely lost motivation and inspiration to write. But like any season, it passes and a new one comes along (yes, that does mean that someday soon, this cold 'snap' in the UK might end). Lots of ideas are swimming around my head to write about, so hopefully I'll be able to keep it up and ramble on regularly to you remarkable readers (alliteration alert)!

So at some point there will be a post about what I got up to last weekend, maybe something about this weekend - EASTER HOORAY- but for now I am going to mention a couple of things I did yesterday.

You may remember from this post that I am a bit of a finance nerd. However, this can bring about a sort of a battle within my soul. I really like researching the ins and outs and rates and returns and scribbling down crazy sums, but this can get my eyes too fixed on building up those numbers in my accounts and getting stingey and selfish with money. All too often, I become in love with ideas of what money can buy, rather than having an attitude of love and thankfulness for the money I have and desiring to steward it generously and wisely.

Then yesterday I signed up to two things. Both satisfy my inner geek, but they hopefully can also be used to benefit others as well. Firstly, my Dad has been telling me for ages that I really should sign up for a credit card. It's security if you're abroad and closer to home, it's a chance to build up that all important credit rating. Now I do get where he's coming from, but I really didn't want to get one; I hate debt and with such a piece of plastic in your hand, you could get into a real pickle. But I did some research and I found that my lovely bank offer charity credit cards where your chosen charity receive £20 the first time you use your credit card and 25p for every £100 you spend using the card and 25p for every £100 you transfer to the card. The only difference between the T&Cs for such a card with their regular credit card (and remember, I'm a geek, so I read both) is that you will get charged for withdrawing cash, but seeing as I have a debit card that I can withdraw cash for free with, that didn't seem a problem to me. So Dad's happy, and so are the lovely people at Shelter - whose significance I will explain when I post about last weekend.

I also signed up to do four modules of online learning and Bookkeeping and Accounts with Learn Direct via Groupon. I don't know yet how I will use this but I'm excited at the possibilities; maybe at some point I will work in this field and support valuable small businesses and their customers, maybe I'll become treasurer of some group or church or small charity, maybe I'll just be able to more practically help out friends or someone who's got into a bit of a pickle, or maybe it'll just be something I enjoy doing personally and I'll be more aware of how to wisely spend and track my own spending in order to use it better. 

So for now, it seems the side of wisdom and generosity has a chance of winning that inner battle. Watch this space!