Thursday, 31 December 2009
I spent the first nine hours of 2009 with my old school friends wandering around Paris trying to keep warm, avoid muggers/rapists and locate safe places to go to the toilet. The fireworks display we eagerly awaited by the Eiffel tower was disappointingly nonexistent, leaving us to entertain ourselves all night on the crowed and very rowdy streets of Paris. We definitely did not see the city in it’s finest hour and quickly regretted our neglect of booking a hotel! However, knowing that the retrospective hilarity of the whole experience would kick in as soon as we got back to our house in Dieppe kept spirits up, and added some comedy. Despite the fear of mugging, the night was well documented with photos.
Unfortunately only one cafe was open all night, but finding this was a blessing, although the toilets were out of order which was bad as we eagerly awaited our 9am train back to Dieppe. I honestly enjoyed visiting the Arc d’ Triumphe at 6am. We home at around 1pm on new year’s day and most people slept for a few hours. On awaking, we prepared bangers and mash for dinner before celebrating the coming of the new year with a more conventional ‘fake new year’ party.
Kindly, Caroline and Paul allowed sixteen of us (my friends from Groby Community College..best place ever) spend part of the Christmas holidays in their lovely cosy cottage near to Dieppe! Although cold, the weather was sunny and we enjoyed lots of walking, cheese, wine and spending time in eachother’s company! Everything including the ferry journeys from getting lost in the French countryside to a night in Newhaven Travelodge was absolutely hilarious.
More to follow...
Saturday, 13 June 2009
My first year at uni has passed so quickly that it could even be mistaken for a dream. In some ways I have learnt lots of things about how to be a 'grown up' and look after myself, but in many ways, I feel absolutely no different to the evening before I first moved into Colman House. I'm once again sitting up writing a nostalgic blog and my room is similarly filled with boxes and bags full of my belongings. If i didn't have a memory, I might even think myself transported back to that day. I wasn't particularly keen on the idea of going to university, could have done with another few months of doing nothing in order to fully prepare myself and more apprenhensive than I'd anticipated I might be when the time came to actually pile all my stuff into the car and go.
I remember wondering who I might meet, and imagining all sorts of un-named un-faced new friends. Now, I can look back over the year, and think of all the friends I have made- sticking names next to faces and saying thankyou to God for putting me at UEA, in Colman House, flat 15, room L and for giving me a vague interest in pharmacy.
Home just feels the same as it always felt- and now I associate it with holidays, and chilling out. Good job I get to spend the next few months on holiday/chilling out! Though, I think there is a high chance of having to take a genetics resit...but we shall see when the results come out!
I've got 6 minuites left of being 18..so much for the classic and very overplayed 'I wanna stay eighteen forever' line courtesy of Brand New, that we all know and loved so well back in our college days at only 16..I'm beginning to feel a little old now! I'm looking forward to being 19 though- there are lots of places to go and people to see. In september I'll be moving into a new house on South Park Avenue- can't wait! But until then there are lots of things to be done.
This summer I intend to repeat last year's scrapbook documenting of all antics, whilst also catching up on filling a book with memoirs of my first year at uni. I hope to spend lots of time reading (theology, and fun books, instead of pharmacy). I'm off to Malia, with the girlies from college, then back to Crete with the family! Maplewell Hall (ie. God camp), a trip to France and Forum, a camping conference for CU leaders are on the cards later on in the holidays too. As you might imagine, I'll need to spending plenty of time in paid work to manage all of this too. Busy times! Very exciting anyway.
I'm tired, enough writing. More on travellers and Jesus next time :)
Sunday, 7 June 2009
Before even mentioning the disgrace that is Coalville, I'll first illustrate with the facts and figures from my home village, Groby.
Despite being young enough for last week's to be my first official vote, I'm going to pretend a little bit and comment on the disgusting fact that in my home town, the British National Party beat the Labour Party in all but one local council seat. How grim is that? These are figures that really should cause concern for even the most agressive of Gordon Brown bashers.
BRITISH NATIONAL PARTY 18.0%
THE LABOUR PARTY 15.3%
LIBERAL DEMOCRATS 11.9%
I'm highly disturbed by these results. What I don't want to do here is rant on and on about expenses, travellers, or convey anything of my own party political viewpoint aside from a strong disagreement with the ideology of the British National Party, and a concern over the apparently increasing support this party recieves, both in Leicester, and on a wider level as we now seeing BNP representatives making their way into the European Parliment.
Regardless of economics, expenses, Mr Brown's current unpopularity and anything else, how on earth did the BNP win 18% of the votes in my village? This, tragicly, is enough to make me love Groby a little bit less. Without making points to prove this, I'll state outright that the BNP are definately a racist party, and a party which go directly against the values that I hold true as a christian, who believes that
- All human beings are made equal in the image of God. (Genesis 1.26)
and should therefore treat one other as equals
- We are commanded to Love one another as Jesus has loved us (John 13.34)
I know people hate the labour party at the moment, but a vote for the BNP in no way consititutes a valid protest vote option for those who are concerned for equality and basic human rights. Perhaps those in Groby who show their support for the British National Party would detatch themselves from the word 'racism' because the focus of the party's efforts to gain support in our area is not based upon racial discrimination as we traditionally think of it.
Dare I guess, that the BNP in Groby and the surrounding area have benefited massively from being able to use local attitutes to travellers as a spring board to attract those who see no fault with powerful prejudices and active discrimination towards the travelling community.
This thought is based mostly upon those BNP leaflets I remember coming in so handy when I did some pretty low level but telling research discussing the social acceptability of racism and prejudice towards the travelling community compared with other forms of racial discrimination. I found indisputedly,and still believe that racism and prejudice towards gypsies and travellers is the most widespread and socially acceptable form of racism in the UK.
I'm not just saying this because those who know me well will know that I love travellers..these (actually true!) more recent words of our still standing Tory councillor Rob Fraser demonstrate that this type of racism more often than not goes unchallenged
'The Romanians, they'll stick a knife in you as soon as look at you.
There might be some good ones. Forgive me if there are any Romanians here (the audience laughs) and hopefully that's a 'no' because I wouldn't get out of here (he points at a walking stick). I'm a bit slow.
...By gosh, some of these European ones, they make the Irish look like complete amateurs and I would dread, I would dread to see them in Groby''
Accused in the local paper quite rightly of inciting racial hatred, the councillor said that he didn't know the public meeting was being filmed for susequent postage on youtube (lol), did not think it an incident worthy of resignation and accepted that his judgement may have been 'momentarily clouded'. I think, that Dad and I were present at this particular meeting, but as I know I would have remembered these words and immeadiately engraved them somewhere controversial had I heard them first hand, I think they were said after we decided to bail. (I was going out with the girls that evening!)
These words, whether intended to be or not, are racist. I think we can all agree on this much. As an aside, without letting my personal opinions cloud my judgement too much, I think these words are definately worthy of a resignation. For if they were truly meant, opinions that promote racial discrimination in this way are very bad for leadership, and if they were not really meant- then this sort of stupidity is equally bad for leadership.
Sidetracked? Ooops. So yeah, all I was saying is that the current issue of travellers in my local area, (even from my effective outsiders viewpoint at the moment) has been very useful to the BNP in terms of gaining support. Generally, without pointing any fingers, people must be ignorant, full of prejudice, or simply both.
So why is the far right doing so well, not just in Groby, Coalville etc but in Europe also? My guess is that blatant racism is being in part disguised by 'hard line' attitutes to issues surrounding immigration, asylum seekers and travellers, which somehow seem appealing to those worrying about the economic downturn,loosing faith in the current government and harbouring insecurities and prejudices towards those of a different ethnicity/cultural background.
When the explosive sharpening of pitchforks and the 'Groby Say's no' poster campaign (containing appalling grammar which i found quite embarrassing for the village in general) began, born in ignorance and plain prejudice, over a potential travellers transit site on sacheverall way, I imagine it wasn't long before the local BNP candidates began more than ever to tap into pre-existing prejudices to their advantage.
I know, that these percentages only represent the views belonging to the (not even) 40% of people who could be bothered to vote last week. I can't decide whether this makes it better or worse! On the plus, it's perfectly possible that the number of BNP supporters as a percentage of the population in these elections just past is far over-representative, when considering those who failed to vote. However, this is also a reflection of discouraging, political apathy.
I personally can't imagine not wanting to make my opinion known- and think it's a sad fact that the people who feel most strongly about making their opinions known are those who fail to recognise the vital importance of racial equality. Vote people, vote! We can't complain about who's in leadership without getting involved!
And now, as I conclude (maybe), here comes the big, most important question, which is definately going to require another blog/a few more blogs/the rest of my life to answer.
It's the question that the kids from youth group have printed on their wrists, reminded to them by the letters WWJD, and the question that christians for centuries have been asking, regardless of their social status, those in leadership and those not.
What attitute does God want us to have to all of this?
How do we think about politics from his point of view?
Effectively, what would Jesus do?
As Christians, we're called to live more like Jesus.
So If Jesus met up with Nick Griffin tomorrow for a cup of tea, what would be said?
Sleep for me now. To be continued...please someone help me answer the above questions for future blogging escapades! :-)
Sunday, 17 May 2009
should i give up and go to bed?
make some angel delight?
attempt some more questions?
attack my notes once again with yet more coloured pens?
phone a friend?
waste the evening on facebook?
pray, recognising that only God can give me 40%?
any combination of the above?
Shame I can't write in proper paragraphs anymore. After church this evening, which made my heart beat slightly faster, I saw a beautiful rainbow (sorry to harp on about rainbows again) which actually made my heart beat a little faster still.
Here it is! Straight from the much loved camera phone, which sadly takes much better pictures than my actual camera at the moment.
Of course, it doesn't quite capture the intensity of it at all, but you get the general gist. Rainbows excite me a lot. I'm not sure 100% why- but there we are. I love all the different colours, and how they look against the sky when it seems full of rain.
I'm feeling pretty peaceful about the exam tomorrow. Perhaps too peaceful, as I really should revise. Urgh. viscosity schmosity. tonicity schmicity.
Thursday, 30 April 2009
Wineo fineo and I =P
Joanna...What an animal!
Saturday, 25 April 2009
As ever, I've been busy and not busy all at once. The spring term at UEA, though even better than the first has been at times exhausting, so I can't say I wasn't pleased to see Friday week twelve arrive. (In a whirlwind of free hot cross buns, a lunchbar entitled 'Chicks, Chocolate and Crucifixion', the necessary paperwork accompanying an exam,portfolio deadline and a lovely essay).
Amongst the children, we still squeezed in a couple of seminars, got to hear lots of talks, make loads of notes, etc. I harassed Katie into the night about various theological issues on more than one occassion. It was wicked to meet some new people, including a girl coming to UEA next year, to dip our toes in the sea, to crash out on the beach for an hour or so, to meet up for tea with Deb, and for a cheeky ride on the carousel with Fran and Matt. There was even time for a bit of full on chillaxing at the spa...very much needed after a week of Mr Cow and co.! And of course I bought a pleasantly large stack of books (still mostly unread, as predicted) for a relatively small amount of money from Wesley Owen, the second most important man in my life (sad but true!).
I returned from skegness via train (I'm getting to quite like trains) on maunday thursday- a holy zombie with my head stuck in and out of a book called 'twenty four' by Krish Kandiah- a brilliant read about worship- living completely for God. Amazing holiday at spring harvest once again! Man, it was good to be home though- finally some rest.
Well, briefly. Good Friday in Leicester brings 'Christ in the Centre' an anual passion play right in the city centre. I went along last year for the first time to see some girls from church with starring roles, and was properly looking forward to it again this year-having previously sourced with the help of friends the best crucifixion viewpoint in the city (on top of the haymarket car park) and arranged a lunch date for after the action. Though rainy and cold It's amazing to see a crucified Jesus taking centre stage in our city each Good Friday-with hundreds of people standing by to watch, and hundreds more confused shoppers going in and out of primark no doubt wondering what on earth all the fuss is about. Everyone sang 'When I survey the wondrous cross'.
After church, we bounced to Luton to see my grandparents and to eat loads of food- minus my brother who spent the Easter weekend shooting zombies at 'I36' a LAN camp- ie. a computer gaming festival. Well, none of us in this family were ever going to be cool! It was a lovely family afternoon, though I accidently conked out a bit on the sofa due to a little fanclub/mosh related sleep deprivation.
I think, *takes a deep breath* that Easter is better than Christmas. Whilst the Christmas holidays are all round better..more atmos, christmas lights but ultimately the lack of exam preparations to be done, without Easter, and the physical death and ressurection of Jesus, what's the point of Christmas? Easter marks the very centre of our faith- the main event.
After an eventful Easter weekend, I headed off with the family for a couple of days away in the Lake District at Windemere- it was a good chill, and we had glorious weather. I especially enjoyed visiting Brantwood, the home by Lake Conniston of John Ruskin, ye olde artist/author/composer/thinker/general genius. Having been there before, it was cool wandering around his grounds and appreciating his many ridiculous works before heading back to Groby.
And here I am, Groby- procrastinating, tea drinking, going to church and drinking tea. What else is new? Always continual lessons in God's undeserved favour in one context or another.
Early last term I was asked to consider taking a role on the Christian Union committee at UEA. Feeling grossly underqualified, I'll be honest and say I wondered whether I might regret saying yes to the challenge in the faith that God would gracefully provide the time,the energy and everything else required. I really feel that God has given me a role far beyond my comfort and own capability- but for good purpose. 'prayer and main meeting co-ordinator' is pretty self explanatory in terms of the role- prayer and organisation- the two things in life that I am worst at? But, I've figured it out...God uses our weaknesses, to show that it isn't us who do anything special- but him who does everything, and his power working through us (see 2 corinthians 4) ..scary, but seriously cool, the logic of love from our incredible God of Grace.
So here I am, still trying to be more and more dependant on him for everything.
I'm still trying hard to 'work for the Lord and not for men'- if Eric Liddell (off of running) said he could 'feel God's pleasure' when he ran- surely it's true that there is nothing in life that can't be done for the glory of God. Including Physiology and Pharmacology! Cells, genetics, life molecules, physical biochemistry, health economics and the like...
It's definately time to seriously get a move on with this work I think, and to conclude here with an amazing passage from the bible which was quoted at last week's third sunday evening service and is found in the book of Ephesians.
Ephesians 3vs 16 - 20 (NLT)
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.
Katie and I, Skegness beach 7/4
A tragicly poor quality photo- but some of my best leicester girlies
at the club of Fun (aka Fanclub) 11/4
My brother, Alex and me at Brantwood 15/4
Myself and the 'rents - Lake Conniston
My beautiful cat Winston has taken to plonking himself down in my 'office' in the sun.
(maybe more photos to come.)
Saturday, 14 February 2009
The past couple of weeks have been epic, to use just one of my current favourite words.
Last week was 'Jesus Week' as Ken from next door so lovingly put it. 'Jesus: The Real Deal' (to use the proper branding) was awesome. I didn't suppose we would call it 'mission week' for nothing, but I hadn't anticipated the physical strain that carrying a suitcase or two of gospels around everywere with me would have! For those not in the know, the CU have spent the entirety of last week at UEA running outreach events- the aim? To 'Make Jesus Known'! It's been amazing to see how it all works, to help out where possible with cheese storage and washing up and to experience as ever, more of God's never failing faithfulness. With a lunchbar (thats free food and a talk about Jesus for those not in the know) every day, and an evening event to follow we had our hands (quite literally) full pretty much non stop. Its amazing to witness so many people getting to hear about Jesus, especially close friends. In the flat, we've had some really interesting/exciting/exhausting times too, discussing/debating with and learning from eachother. There more I talk about other faiths though, the more I am convinced that following Jesus is so different from everything else you can believe about life, death and the universe. I can have a real relationship with God, and the assurance of eternal life spent with him- even though I'm bound to mess up every day. Thankfully what I do will never earn me that relationship with him, he's done it all! I've fallen, like everyone else, far short of God's glory and yet he still sees fit to bring me into a relationship with him through an awesome sacrifice.
I had a really encouraging conversation about the gospel with a friend, who isn't a christian, but who finds it completely mindblowing (and rightly so!). It went something like this:
So..let me get this straight..God made us for a relationship with him..but then we turned our backs on him, and thats Sin? So I'm sinning and you're sinning, every day, and this seperates us from God..
But God loves us so much, that he sent his son, A man? to earth?
Who was basically God, but also a man?
Right...and he came so that he could die, and take the sin that seperates us from God on himself so that we can have a relationship with him?
So you're going to heaven?
wow. and you actually believe this?
And I realised that yes, it's all a bit outrageous. To hear this for the first time, must be pretty outrageous- but then this is God we're talking about. God became human, is Father Son and Holy Spirit all at once, and actually communicates with us. He made the whole universe, but knows and cares when I sit down or stand up, knowing my every thought but loving me nonetheless. That is outrageous grace.
Uni work has been rolling along as usual, this week I've tried to start (slowly) climbing the pharmacy mountain, as the mountain of christian stuff at the end of my bed slowly grows.
I'd want it no other way though. Keeping 1000 or so copies of Mark's gospel at the foot of your bed isn't a bad conversation starter I've found and transporting these around campus in a suitcase or two every day has genuinely made me 'hench' if indeed this is even a word.
This evening I've had a wild time at the laundrette, but at least when my parents visit tomorrow it will maybe look like I'm coping well with life generally.
I need to write more, or continue feeling guilty about blog neglect, but I literally can't wait to go to sleep. It's been a long week, what with double laboratorying, silent discoing, top 25 drugs card gaming, an exciting/pretty frightening proposed role on the Christian Union Comittee next year, singing, tea drinking, lecture attending and sleep neglecting.
I'll write something more soon. but early bed for me now.
Saturday, 7 February 2009
Last weekend marked Lucie's birthday, and a last minite decision to mission back home in honour of the occasion, amongst other things. I hung out with my family loads, cuddled the cat, and helped Dad to choose and buy his new guitar, before sharing dinner with my parents and my brother. On Saturday night I joined the girls at Lucie's house which was so lovely, and she woo-ed us with her coctail making skills before we headed into town- to Sumo- a bar i hadn't been to in a very long time! It was great to hang out, have a giggle and catch up over more green stuff in jugs, before we went on to Mosh, one of my favourite places to go in the world, especially after a time away. We danced, although at some points it was more a case of holding certain friends upright for a while, and of course we finished the night off in Subway- fast food being the only way to top off a fun night out. I concealed my upset about having to speed back to Norwich the next day, but I can't say I haven't been loving my time here. Of course I can't complain about being far from home, when my flatmate's home is Australia, but it can be sad all the same knowing that I can't teleport where I like, when I like in order to see my friends from Leicester more often. Whilst it is so normal not to see them for weeks/months, I don't miss them any less, and it doesn't take long to slip immeadiately back into the old routines once I'm back home. The train journey to Peterborough on the way back was a sad one, but I couldn't have a better city to come back 'home' to than Norwich.
Having squished around in the mud and braved the perilously icy path around the lake, I'm thinking about doing some work, or accompanying some friends to morrisons to finally go food shopping, a task I am not a fan of, and have been putting off for four weeks. I am queen of procrastination, as the existence of this blog shows. I think morrisons calls me. I really need to sort my life out. My lecture notes are everywhere, I need to fill in a CRB and send it back to spring harvest, find out excactly where I am every day next week so I can juggle an excessive amount of copies of Mark's gospel about because of 'Jesus: The Real Deal'..or 'Jesus Week' as a frequent visitor to our flat called it. Each day next week the Christian Union will be holiding events at lunchtime and in the evenings- including free food, and at each event a talk by a visiting speaker about Jesus, and why we love him. It's so exciting and such an amazing opportunity to tell everyone on campus about the relationship we can have with God because of what Jesus has done for us! We are expecting great things to happen- we want everyone to be talking about Jesus! Each flat on campus will be getting flyers through their door- Beccy and I took them round across most of Colman House yesterday, and had some really good conversations with people. It is going to be a crazy week I think.
But I'll have to leave you with this:
Wednesday, 14 January 2009
Kid's songs often say it best, don't they? One of my favourites includes these words: 'God he made me, he knows what I need better than anyone, God he loves me, he only wants good things for me'. I love singing it, because I know all this to be true.
Therefore, knowing this, it is important for me as a christian to respond to God's greatness. If I'm in a relationship with God (which I am, because of Jesus' life changing sacrifice, death and ressurection on my account!) then as with all relationships, communication is vital and it is so important for me to have prayer time, talking to God.
I am continually in awe of God's greatness, never ending grace and daily provision. He made everything ever, and yet he still cares what I get in my pharmaceutical maths coursetest. He knows the number of hairs on my head, and all the horrible bits about me, and yet he still loves me so much that he gave his only son to get rid of my sin so that I could be brought back into relationship with him. He made all the stars, and the seas and has given me friends, family and fellowship with other christians. His gifts keep on coming, and his uncircumstantial love means that I can have Joy in every situation, because however much my mood changes, he never does. Jesus Christ and his amazing love for me is the same yesterday, today and forever!
I could go on and on, quoting every verse of the bible and children's praise party song I've ever known, and yet I still couldn't say what I want to say here about just how awesome God is..
Surely then, the pattern of my daily life should be a response to God's awesomeness. As a christian I'm continually seeking to love God with all of my heart, soul, strength and mind, but if 24 hours of my life was to be captured on camera, would my primary identity as a christian be made clear through my actions and prayer patterns, and time management?
Jesus' life was described to fit a 'withdrawl work withdrawl work..' pattern. He knew the importance of spending time with his Father, who he recognised as the boss and source of all things. Thinking about this drew my attention to the patterns present in my daily life, and I've since decided to try and wiggle my priorities around, in order to make sure I honour God in the way that I use my time. Prayer needs to be right up there, topping the list alongside eating and sleeping. Despite being generally quite busy, I intend to keep trying to put God before everything, knowing that he will provide what I need in all other areas. I am desperate for a bit more discipline, knowing that I'm too busy not to pray.
The bible says these things, amongst many others, about prayer:
Give your worries to him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5 verse 7)
Do not worry about anything. Instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you'll experience God's peace which goes beyone anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Phillipians 4.vs6&7)
Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5 verses 16-18.)
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.(James 5 verse 16)
Since coming to uni I have picked up so many little phrases and words from various friends who all speak differently. It's very true that habits are learned from those we spend lots of time with. As a christian, I know I should be cultivating that same humble servant attitute Jesus had, putting others selflessly first always. And in the same way that occassionally I'll slip out the word 'glarss' instead of glass, due to being in so much southern company, the more time I spend with Jesus, the more christlike my attitude will become. Ditto, the more I read God's word the more I will understand and learn to be more like him. Although simple logic, It's a harder habit- but one I intend to learn.