Thursday 31 January 2013

Prayer Requests

Tuesday 29 January 2013

A Pep Talk

This short YouTube video is worth your time!  It's possibly worth your time every morning.

"The world needs you to stop being boring, yeah you...  Boring is easy but you're better than that...  You've got a heartbeat - that means it's time to do something...  Get a better dream.  What will you create that will make the world awesome?  Nothing if you keep sitting there...  We can make everyday better for each other.  We've got work to do.  We were made to be awesome."

Friday 25 January 2013

Photo Friday

It's been a fun week!  I worked three days at the start of the week and got quite a lot done.  Two weeks from tomorrow I'll be heading to the States for training so these next couple of weeks look busy and full of good, exciting things.  

Saturday: fun in the snow!

Sunday: downtime with a movie.

Monday: a view of snowy Saintfield from work.

Waking up on Tuesday morning.

And on Wednesday the snow was still around!  (Can you tell how much I love snow?!)

Not sure why I didn't document Thursday better - it included a great, productive meeting in the morning and a trip into Belfast in the afternoon, but here's a picture of Daisy.

Friday: the.element was back!  So good to be back again.

Friday 18 January 2013

Photo Friday

How I motivate myself to reply to emails sometimes...

Sunday: in church, boots off, toes warming on the heating pipe.

Every night this cat curls up beside me.  I don't know what she's going to do when I go to Colorado!

I've had to make a few Colorado-related calls this week, which led to some area-code searches, with some amazing spellings of Colorado.

Wednesday: the most delicious sandwich (brie, ham and apple and cranberry chutney) that was great fuel for a wonderful time with the dship ladies and then homegroup!

My companion in the break room at work on Thursday.

Friday: it snowed!  I was so excited!  Cue a late night adventure down to granny's house.  I adore snow.

Friday 11 January 2013

Photo Friday

I shared about what God is doing in central and eastern Europe on Sunday so Saturday night involved putting flyers in Orders of Service.

I had so much fun ice skating with friends on Sunday!  I fell a couple of times and have all kind of bruises - on my left hand and everything!  But perhaps that's a good lesson right now, as I ponder language learning, to fall but laugh and get back up again? 

There's something about a over-one-thousand-mile move that inspires you to get rid of lots of stuff!

Babysitting on a Tuesday.

What I woke up to on Wednesday!

Dinner with one of my best friends on Thursday!

Friday: I successfully found the Czech store in Belfast Petra told me about.  It was weird to go into a store in Belfast to be greeted in Czech, talk in Czech, talk about Czech and receive a history and language lesson!  The owner couldn't believe I knew what marlenka was, I couldn't believe I could buy marlenka in Belfast...  So yummy!

On Taylor's Taste

Today I am over on my friend Taylor's blog, where she interviewed me as part of her "Strong Girl" series.  When I think of Strong Girls I think of Taylor - it was amazing to meet her as she interned in Czech last summer too!  The way she lives her life with joy and faith inspires me and her delight in stories means when you talk with her you feel so listened to and appreciated.  Her whole blog is lovely and you should definitely check it out.  

Wednesday 9 January 2013

Books Read in 2012

In reflection, I maybe didn't read as much as I thought I did in 2012 but here are the books I read, some with additional comments.  I've probably left a few out, and there are several books that I started or only read a couple of chapters of.

Fruit That Will Last by Tim Hawkins
Required for an assignment as part of my youth ministry course.  Good for looking at one approach to youth ministry.

The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde
Haunting but wonderful.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I can see why this book is a classic.

Various crime books 
Various books by Kerry Wilkinson that were only £1 or so on Amazon when I bought them, they're detective novels that were quick, absorbing reads.  I also read a number of James Patterson and Jeffery Deaver novels - they're good crime authors, full of suspense and I enjoy the recurring characters both these authors use.

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins 
I read these books very quickly and loved them!  If you didn't understand the movie, or even if you did, you should definitely read the book.

The Good and Beautiful God by James Bryan Smith
This was a great book and I really want to read the sequels.  The book looks at different aspects of God's character and each chapter contains a practice to help you experience God.  I read this book in Czech and it was a perfect read and reminder for those weeks.  

The Shelter of God's Promises by Sheila Walsh
Again, I read this book in Czech.  Each chapter looks at a different promise of God and how it relates to life.  It was another one of those cases of when you read a book at a time when it matches perfectly up to your life.  It was a great companion during that first month in Czech, when I needed reminders of those great promises of God.

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien 
Up until this summer I'd never watched Star Wars but after making a deal with my co-leader I watched the first three movies...  I'd also been able to horrify people with the fact I'd never read or watched Lord of the Rings.  But with The Hobbit movie coming out I decided to start reading the books.  I really enjoyed The Hobbit.  

Wrecked: When a Broken World Slams into Your Comfortable Life by Jeff Goins
I'd read multiple reviews of this book in many places and finally bought it.  It's a really challenging read and looks at how the brokenness of the world around us should challenge us and call us to action.  It's about how we've been lied to - that the answer to true joy is not in finding a comfortable life but living a life of bold faith and being willing to lose your life to follow Jesus.  The book calls us to change the world by changing ourselves, and by starting close to home.  

Counterfeit gods by Timothy Keller
This book looks at the things our modern world and we so often idolise and chase after - things like love, power, money, success to name a few.  It exposes the lies we believe and how chasing after these things is fruitless as the chasing exposes our deeper needs that can only be met in Jesus.  A great book I'll definitely be revisiting.

Forgotten God by Francis Chan
I'd started this book several times but never made it through it, and I have no idea why.  An incredible book that looks at our neglect of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  It looks at who the Holy Spirit is, His role in our lives and why we're missing out when we neglect the Holy Spirit.  I feel this book may be one I revisit each year (see the end of this post!)

1,227 QI Facts To Blow Your Socks Off
I love the TV show QI and this little book was only 20p for the Kindle!  I learnt lots of hilarious facts and loved it!

The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness by Tim Keller
I read this short book in an hour or so and it is definitely worth the £2.99 paperback price (or only 99p for the Kindle!).  I was so challenged by it and I can definitely see me returning to this book often.  It reminds us where, as Christians, our identity should truly be.  Keller is one of my favourite authors.

The Devil in Pew Number Seven by Rebecca Nichols Alonzo
I'm almost finished this so I'm including it in the list.  I read people reviewing this book in several places so decided to check it out.  It's the story of a pastor and his family who are persecuted by a man in their church.  The families courage, forgiveness and knowledge of God's call and obedience to it are inspiring.  

Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
I'm working my way through the first book at the moment and I am enjoying it - although, when I feel like a scary/tense bit is coming I have to put the book to the side for a few days to work up the courage to read it.  Dear only knows how long it'll take me to finish the trilogy with this strategy but I'm looking forward to watching the movies when I've completed the books!

Books dipped into (that I really need to finish):
A Kingdom Called Desire by Rick McKinley
Believing God by Beth Moore

Books reread this year:
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller
I read this again after watching Blue Like Jazz, the movie.  

Crazy Love by Francis Chan
The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning
The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis
Preparing for Jesus by Walter Wangerin (an advent book)
These five books and the Narnia series are books I re-read every year.  Most of them are quite short reads and they're definitely all books that you could re-read and re-read and each time need the reminders, or something new will stick with you.  

I'd love to read at least one book a month this year - any recommendations? 

Friday 4 January 2013

Photo Friday

2013 looks to be an exciting year and I want to remember the little things. Each Friday I'll post the photos from the week - I'm hoping for one photo a day but we'll see how it goes!

Bonus, Monday 31st December 2012
I wanted to get an official/updated shot of an impromptu one I took as four camp shirts dried on my washing line a couple of years ago.  What incredible grace to have been part of these camps, and all that they were.

Tuesday 1st January
I booked my flights to attend training!  Very exciting.

Wednesday 2nd January
I'm really not that techie but, don't laugh, I finally figured out how to make folders on my iPod touch.  Makes my life easier!  Crazily, these are all my apps.  Love it.

Thursday 3rd January
Writing emails in Starbucks, courtesy of a gift card.  It was fun to sit and listen to a couple chat in Polish as I wrote emails that will hopefully help me on the road back to central and eastern Europe!

Friday 4th January
I love Swedish fish and when I was in Canada last year I picked up this 1lb bag of them!  A handful is a great reward after a day at work.

2012, in review

Although I have very mixed feelings about New Year's Eve, I really enjoy the opportunity a new year brings to look back and reflect on the year that is ending and to look forward and plan and dream for the new year.  And even Google help out with producing Year in Review videos. 

On December 31st lots of people were posting on Facebook and Twitter about 2012 and I tried to think of something to say.  And, well, 140 characters are not enough to sum up a year but I arrived at:

2012, you were incredible! Amazed at God's grace and goodness over the last twelve months and so excited to see what 2013 will hold!

I'm not sure any words will ever be enough for 2012.  It's hard to even think of all the year held, nevermind trying to sum it up.  But here are some of the highlights:

In January I travelled over to Reading (England) to surprise one of my best friends for her birthday!  It was such a good weekend.

Until May I was in Northern Ireland as a youth ministry intern in my home church and I loved this, and learnt so much doing it.  

Also during those first months of 2012 I applied, was accepted and miraculously became fully funded for my three month internship in the Czech Republic.  Those three months were truly life changing - I learnt so much about myself and God, and it was such a privilege to serve in Czech.  And we all know how that trip ended.

So, September saw me back in Northern Ireland, applying to be a full time missionary.  Which led to my trip in October/November to America for orientation, followed by a week with my friend Julianne in Canada.  Those two weeks refreshed me and got me so excited for the road ahead.

And the end of the year seemed to just fly in.  One of the highlights of December was seeing Mumford and Sons live in Belfast - they are an amazing band and when you hear them live their music just goes to another level.  Definitely check them out if you haven't already.

I also started support raising so hopefully, in 2013, I will be in the Czech Republic full time and it has been so amazing to get to talk to people about the amazing things God is doing in central and eastern Europe.

Of course, there's so much I've left out.  

I met people this year who have become great friends and I am so thankful for them.

I have relationships that are now so much deeper than they were twelve months ago.

There were moments that took my breath away.  Beautiful sunsets.  Spending time on trains.  

I experienced God's provision and guidance in ways that truly took my breath away and provided so much peace.  Journalling how I've grown, changed and been challenged.  

I spent time on Skype with friends around the world, and time in coffee shops with friends who live down the road.  

There were moments that were photographable.  Watching sunrise on Charles Bridge.  Beautiful coffee shops.  Beautiful friends.

And, perhaps even better than those moments, there were moments that could never be photographed - laughing until it hurts, people who inspire me, talking over cups of tea for hours, holding babies, breakfast with Rose in Czech at second term training or the breakfast at third term training where I was officially invited to apply to join the JV family.

2012 has now ended and it truly was a life changing year.  I end the year seeing God bigger, knowing even more deeply how much He loves me, that He can be trusted, and knowing that He is at work in and through me.  

What incredible grace.