What the future holds…

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As I sit and write this post I am jobless. I resigned my teaching post during my maternity leave as my request for part time hours could not be accommodated.

On 6th June my maternity pay ends and I am yet to find a new job.

You see, the thing is after nearly 12 years of being in the teaching profession I don’t know if it’s for me anymore.

I haven’t become old and jaded but I’m not sure I have the same passion that I used to for it. I am passionate about young people, about them feeling empowered and safe and nurtured but not about targets and grades and performance management. I am passionate about investing in the lives of young people but not about making them jump through hoops.

I have worked in mainstream, PRU, Alternative Education, SEN and within each it is only a matter of time before it becomes about everything else but quality time with the students and to be honest, that’s never what I signed up for.

I am torn, don’t get me wrong, this has been my vocation, my calling for 12 years, I have eaten, breathed, slept teaching for the majority of my adult life.

Right now, I question if it is where I am best used. I question if my heart is still in it, if I can inflame my passion for it again. It’s frightening.

I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know how everything is going to work out.

I do know that the world looks at me differently now I am a mother. I do know that many will question why I would sacrifice a career.

My perspective has changed, my faith has changed. I have been given skills, abilities and passions and I am called to use them to make a difference.

The question is where?

I haven’t ruled out teaching, it is almost synonymous with who I am but I don’t want to just go through the motions anymore.

So yes, I resigned without a new job to go to. Yes, I stuck to my guns about wanting to work part time and yes, despite the uncertainty of it all, I feel it is one of the most sensible decisions I have ever made.

I don’t know what the future holds but one day I will, for now, it’s about holding fast.

A new season – no holding back

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On the eve of the first day back to school it seems only right to blog.

Usually, at this time of year there is a real sense of expectancy about what is to come over the next academic year – how will I engage the students, what ideas can I use, when will I hit the wall? This has been routine for me for over ten years.

This year however, things are different. Yes, I am going back and excited to see the students but this time it will only be for a week. After that, maternity leave starts and along with that a new season in my life.

I had never really entertained the idea of becoming a mother, mainly because a doctor felt it was a good idea to tell me at 15 years old that I would have trouble conceiving because of having X-rays.

This was a seed that planted in my mind and I believed I would not be able to have children.

Whenever people asked, I said I wasn’t ready yet but what I wasn’t saying was that I was too frightened to even consider the idea as the doctor’s words echoed in my head on a daily basis.

3 months into trying and I fell pregnant. Still now at 37.5 weeks it is so surreal to me.

This is a new season for me, I am moving from years of being very comfortable, having a career and a routine that worked for me. Moving on from knowing what to expect, planning, organising and feeling in control.

All of that is about to change…

I believe that this is part of me growing in my faith and going on with God.

I am to be taken out of my comfort zone, which is where we need to be for God to fully work in us and through us.

I am no longer in control. I don’t know when the baby will come or what my life will be like.

I have a choice, I can either wait in fear of what is to come or wait in peace, believing that God has plans and purposes for me.

I choose the latter. I am looking forward to the adventure that lies before me. I am expectant for what is to come and I truly believe that the best is ahead!

Are you heading into a new season?

Are you letting words spoken over you hold you back?

Are you expectant for a new adventure?

What's on your mind?

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Today, as I sit writing this post looking out of the window at the sunshine, I want to ask you a question: What’s on your mind?

Before you saw the image with this post did you realise that is what Facebook asks you every time you update your status?

Why is it that we happily post on Facebook and Twitter about our thoughts but if I were to ask you that question right now I am guessing the initial answer might be ‘Nothing.’ or ‘Not much’ but is that true?

Even discussing ‘What’s on your mind?’ on social media is somewhat of a facade – no one ever really posts exactly what is on their mind. We post modified thoughts, acceptable thoughts, things that will appear funny and engaging. Things that will will portray what we want them them to.

What about with God? What do you say when God asks you the same question? Do you modify your answer? Go for the ‘acceptable’ stuff?

We are often carrying many thoughts in our mind, it is often full of questions, concerns, worries, to do lists. We can lose ourselves in it all sometimes. 

I really feel that today God wants to free you from all of that. Free you from your ‘thought baggage’ the things  that play in your mind over and over again that you have just accepted and learnt to deal with. The things that wake you up at night that you have never shared. The worries that you can convince yourself you have overcome but that catch you unawares when you are least expecting it. 

We are told in the word:

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

Are you experiencing the freedom of a ‘sound mind’ today?

What are the things that are plaguing you, keeping you captive, holding you back?

Are you afraid to speak them aloud?

I believe today that God is calling us to speak them aloud so that he can deal with them, so that we are not held prisoner to them, so that they do not have control over us.

We do not need to be fearful – we do not have a spirit of fear.

We need to remember we are loved. We are love with an unconditional, everlasting love.

Perfect love casts out fear…

Will you tell God what’s on your mind today? The unmodified version?

 

 

Coffee with God

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I started reading a book this morning ‘A life unleashed’ by Christine Caine and one of the suggestions she makes in the first chapter is to have a coffee with God.

This got me thinking about the way I often approach God – with a list of requests or some hurried thank you or a few rocket prayers. How at times, I can fall into the trap of over spiritualising my quiet times and over complicating them.

What is it about coffee? Coffee shops are springing up everywhere. Our language has been infiltrated with hundreds of descriptions of different coffee combinations. Our high streets are saturated with them, often next to and opposite each other and sometimes even more than one branch within a few hundred metres.

I don’t actually think it is because we have become a nation of coffee connoisseurs ( you may beg to differ) but more to do with the activity and act of going for a coffee. Common parlance is ‘Shall we go for a coffee?’ Let’s meet up for a coffee.’ This is rarely about the coffee itself but more to do with sitting together, conversing, enjoying each other’s company – sharing with each other. Coffee shops offer the opportunity to sit, watch the world go by, enjoy a hot drink ( which we all know makes everything infinitely better) and to talk, face to face.

I love to ‘go for coffee’. I find it relaxing and one of the best ways to catch up with someone.

So, the question is why, when faced with the suggestion to have coffee with God did it seem like a revolutionary concept? Why have I separated something I do so easily and commonly from God?

The conversation over coffee flows easily, it is not hurried, there are moments of stillness and silence that are not uncomfortable. There is a sharing, a bonding and an important part of relationship building and strengthening that goes on. Surely, it could also be this simple with God?

Conversations are two way – so today as I sit with my coffee ( decaf latte, no sugar) I am going to invite God along. There are a few questions I have for Him, a few things I need to say, some asking of why? about situations people close to me are facing. How are certain things going to happen and come to fruition? I also know there is going to be a lot of listening on my side too – moments of stillness and moments of silence.

Who do you most need to have coffee with today? When did you last have ‘ a coffee with God’ moment?

We are called to love…

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Have read a lot of Adrian Plass recently. Completely compelling writing, tongue in cheek at times but also quite pointed. Has made me think a lot about Christianity and church.

‘The Church’ to the outside world is often viewed as a place full of pious, out of touch people who closet themselves away on a Sunday, sing hymns and feel that they are superior to everyone else.
TV does little to dispel this myth. Have seen a couple of dramas recently where the Christian character comes across as a ‘weirdo’. One of the most high profile churches in the media is Westboro Baptist known for their messages of hatred.

Church in reality is very different. I tweeted on Sunday that I had really enjoyed church because it felt like family. Now when we consider the word family, we think of different generations, personalities, characters etc who all get together and spend time together because they are related. For me, church is the same, I spend time with people of different ages to me. I love the fact that my friends would not be considered my peer group. I have learnt so much and been really supported by having friends of different ages. This is something that is often missed out on.

Also, like family there are times you fall out, people get on your nerves and it can be strained but ultimately what unites us is so much stronger than that. There is a shared mutual love and support and an inbuilt support system when things are tough.

Sometimes we get things wrong and that is because we are all broken, messy people. We don’t have it all together but we do have each other and recognise that we are better together than we are apart.

It is not an exclusive club it is an inclusive club.

Sadly, many people will not set foot in a church because of misconception, because of the message that has often been heard, because of silence when there should have been words.

Ultimately we are called to love and we all need to get that little bit better at doing just that.

5 things I am tired of people saying…

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I am currently 17 weeks pregnant. When I announced the news publicly on Facebook most people missed it as apparently I was too subtle. Posting my scan picture was not for me so I posted the picture below:

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I have since discovered that everyone I meet is a pregnancy expert and wishes to share their wealth of knowledge with me, while I am entirely grateful that I have people to talk things through with, there are 5 things I’m tired of people saying:

1. ‘Your life will never be the same!’ (with an added look of glee)
Actually, do you know what? I really believe that my life will carry on just as it is. I hadn’t taken into account the thought that things would be different. Excuse the sarcasm but stating the obvious isn’t helpful. Also, why is everyone suddenly so happy at the notion I will have to change my life and at the fact that I have no idea what is coming? It isn’t exactly encouraging.

2. ‘ Have you felt the baby yet?’
No, the answer is no and now I am starting to get anxious about it. Actually, it is completely normal for me not to have yet. How about waiting for me to tell you about it?

3. ‘Have you decided on names, what are they?
Yes, names are decided. No I am not telling you. I am allowed some secrets. The likelihood is you won’t approve of my choices and I’d rather not see your ‘really?’ face.

4. ‘Don’t plan anything in advance, you don’t know how you’ll be.’
Ok, I will just assume that I need to stay in my house for 12 months after the birth. Again, this isn’t encouraging. Yes, it will be different but it doesn’t mean I am not allowed to do things. For me, having some things planned will give me things to work towards.

5. ‘Insert birth horror story here…’
All births are different. Yes, I am aware that it isn’t all fluffy clouds and rainbows but going into minute detail about all the complications, difficulties and issues that were encountered isn’t going to help me.

Don’t get me wrong, I love that people want to talk about it and share and be part of the whole thing but I am still me as well. I haven’t become just a pregnant woman. I am still able to talk about anything and everything.

Also, I am anxious enough as it is and dealing with that. What would be really helpful is for you to talk about all of the good things about being a parent. How about sharing some of your joys and happy memories?

Be, Say, Do -reassessing

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I haven’t blogged for a long while. This is mostly because somewhere along the way I lost my voice. It became swamped by the strains and stresses of life and I fell silent.

I have just got back from Spring Harvest, a Christian Conference. The theme was – Be, Say, Do. Somewhere over that week I found my voice again. I spoke in discussion groups, jumped up on stage to sing with Andy Flannagan and had discussions with my friends about all we were learning and what we wanted to change.
I have a notebook full of notes that I need to now re read and summarise. I have books to read and I have a desire to hold onto my voice.
Be
A lot of questions have been raised for me about who and what I am going to be. How I am going to be. I question whether in all aspects of my online and offline life I have been authentic. What does that really mean and how do you ensure it? This is something I will be exploring more.
Say
I believe we all have a natural filter, things we say and things that we hold back. I realise now that I have often held back in encouragement. I do and have always encouraged but not enough. I have remained silent when I could have brought words that would have helped and uplifted others. This is something I want to change. I have also stayed silent when I should have made sure my voice was one to be heard. This is also something I want to work on.
Do
I realised when I was away that the main thing I do is work. I know that balance is important but also I have written off a lot of what I do at work as if it is unimportant. I have conversations with young people everyday who are marginalised and feel unimportant and I invest in them.
I also recognise there are times when I have withdrawn and kept myself to myself when I could have been out doing. I recognise now that I have often built things up and felt that doing meant something huge, something really time consuming and it isn’t about that.
I have massively over complicated what is really simple. So over the next few months I am going to work on simplifying and not tying myself in knots.
How do you feel about Be, Say, Do?