26 Sept 2012

Monday's emotions

On Monday I mentioned that it had been an emotional day. I don't think I was ready at that point to articulate exactly why I was upset and I'm sure if I can do it very well yet but I'm going to attempt to explain and shed some light on the inner workings of my brain.

On Monday morning I went to the funeral of the 16 year old son of a colleague of mine. He had been stabbed in Lewisham during the summer holidays. 

Now there were many reasons for me to be sad:

  • A young person lost their life before they had had a chance to make anything of it
  • My colleague has been in a state of grief for the past couple of months. It has broken her.
  • This happened in my area - I live here. 
But I think the biggest thing that got to me was...

...as a youth worker how many young people are going to die in Lewisham on my watch.

Now clearly I know that I am not responsible for all young people in Lewisham, but since this guys death there have been at least 3 other teenagers stabbed. One literally around the corner from my Church. So far I haven't known these young people personally...but I feel like it is a matter of time before one of them is a kid I see every week.

It's scary. I don't want to go to funerals of my young people. They are all so special and totally priceless. Hearing this boy's friends stand up and say what he meant to them was heartbreaking. To see 16, 17, 18 year old's (normally who I find pretty emotionless) sobbing into their mother's arms was really emotional and I can only wonder at how my colleague and her family are doing. 

I feel like up until this point I have been relatively protected from death, but now it's a whole different story.

25 Sept 2012

Dead Jeans

I don't know if you have ever experienced the emotional day when your favourite pair of jeans rip and become unwearable...

Today that happened to me.

This particular pair of jeans were a fantastic purchase from H&M about 18 months ago and I have lived in them a fair bit since then. They ticked the box because they were neither too baggy nor too tight, didn't drag on the floor (fair play I had turned them up but they stayed turned up), and were a good medium shade of denim.

While I was in Sainsburys buying enough smoothie ingredients for 20 people I bent down to pick up a blender and felt my jeans rip...thankfully not right in the crotch. But more around the inner thigh region. Just such a sense of disappointment that came with the realisation that these jeans were destined never to be worn again. 

Now in the past I have been so reluctant to throw away old jeans that I have made my mum attempt to sew them up repeatedly...never to much avail. They generally would last a couple wears before they would rip in a new place. 

I think I have just about come to terms with the fact I need to go shopping for some new jeans but is it just me or does anyone else find it a total faff? It's so hard! Maybe it's because I am quite short so generally all trousers are long on me...or maybe it's because depending on the fashion of the day it's hard to find a bog standard pair of jeans. But yea, I really do not like how long it takes to find decent replacement jeans...and then when you have them you still have the wearing in period to get through.

All in all jeans ripping is a very sad affair.

24 Sept 2012

New Tunes

This summer I had the joy of hearing a band called Rend Collective Experiment. I was at Soul Survivor with work promoting the cause but managed to get to most of the main meetings. One night these guys were playing and if I'm honest I was taken aback. 

I think in my head I have a very limited view to what "sung worship*" is. I mean I have grown up ALL MY LIFE going to Church and have heard the changes to the average Church worship group - the subtle change from mission praise to soul survivor songbook. However, in my opinion, most Christian worship music is quite same-y. You can tell that by a lot of songs being able to be played with the same chords. 

* I say "sung worship" because as a Christian I really feel like my whole life should be worship to God. Everything I think, say or do I want to do to honour him and his creation.

Now I LOVE singing praise to my God. And I love a range of styles of doing that. One of my favourite songs is "And can it be" because the lyrics are just immense! They talk of what Jesus has done for me by dying on the cross - but also talk about how I can rejoice because Jesus has done everything for me. It's all based on parts of the Bible and I love that. In case you don't know the words they are below.

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Saviour's blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, shoulds't die for me?

'Tis mystery all! The Immortal dies:
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the first-born seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine.
'Tis mercy all! let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.

He left His Father's throne above,
So free, so infinite His grace,
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam's helpless race:
'Tis mercy all, immense and free;
For, O my God, it found out me!

Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature's night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth and followed Thee.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine!
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach the eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Now this is proper old school hymn, the words were written in 1738 which boggles my mind a bit that they are still so relevant in praising God today. 

And then you have songs like "When the music fades" which talks about God's heart for genuine worship rather than just face value singing. 

Why am I talking about this?! Well when I first heard Rend Collective Experiment I really liked them musically, but I thought they were a bit too perform-y to be a worship band. Now also at Soul Survivor a friend of mine actually gave me the Rend Collective Experiment cd which was a lovely surprise. 

Now having listened to the lyrics a lot more I have to totally change my tune - the heart behind these songs is genuine, the lyrics are deep and aren't just airy fairy. Yes, to me their style of worship was different to what I expected but then is that bad?! The Bible says this:

"Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks". John 4:23 

I want my worship to be heartfelt. I don't want to go through the motions of something I've done all my life. I want God to know that when I sing to him I sing from the depths of who I am. Now if I'm honest - that totally doesn't happen normally. But these guys are opening my eyes to some new styles of worship and maybe that isn't a bad thing...

Have a listen...

also if you're into Christian music - think about following this blog...pretty decent. 

23 Sept 2012


So today I got caught out. I got totally soaked through. When I left to cycle to Church this morning it was dry...there was the potential for it to rain (grey clouds), but being me (ever the optimist) figured cycling was still a good plan.


Coming out of Church it was raining but not too hard so I figured "it's fine! I'll go to Sainsbury's pick up some lunch for Annie (mate from Church) and myself and then we'll go back to hers and eat." We get to Sainsburys and decide CLEARLY a ready made and ready cooked pizza is the way to go. Get it and get outside where it has decided to rain a bit harder. 

So we get walking and which point the rain gets harder and harder....our pizza box (which we hadn't thought to out in a bag...doh) was getting drenched and starting to buckle NOT GOOD. I felt bad for Annie as she was wearing rubbish shoes that totally were not good in rain. Myself with my Nike hightops was fine...but my coat only came to my waist so my jeans were sopping.

Anyway get to Annie's house and save the pizza! It was rescued in the oven. Then have that difficult decision when it's the catch between taking clothes off and being dry....but then having to put them back on to leave....or just leaving wet clothes on and hoping they'll dry on you. I decided to take the jeans off and try to lose the chill by drying with a hairdryer...it didn't work massively well. 

Ate pizza, but then I was going to another Church to visit one of my new students and also to support a colleague as he spoke about some work we are doing on an estate in that community. So back on the bike and back into the rain...once again REALLY wet.

Get to the Church and I reckon I must have looked like a drowned rat at this point. So the front of my jeans were totally soaked, there was a line down the side of my leg where the back was dry and the front was not in the slightest. My coat was just dripping. Anyway sat through Church...thankfully it wasn't a chilly place but even still I was getting a tad cold by the end. 

Came out of second service and it was just spitting. Managed to cycle home in record speed to get into dry clothes and OH MY WORD it felt so so good! 

So I have learnt. It's not nice being really wet. BUT if you are, the relief of getting into warm clothes is immense. I am now all cwtched up in pjs and big hoodie and slippers.

I have also learnt that I don't like it when the seasons change. Seriously the cold weather has crept up on me and I am not a fan.

Are you?

22 Sept 2012

When it all begins again

I don't know if you've ever found this but I very much am someone who waits to start things. I think I've blogged about it before, but I will wait to the start of the month, or week or if I was revising I would wait and start when it was exactly on the hour...if I missed it, I would have to wait half an hour to start...I'm not OCD promise!

So now I have a new team - 
I reckon I am the shortest by a good few inches, but it's all good. 

This time last year I had just started the job and was excited, apprehensive, totally wetting myself with the responsibility for training a team up in how to be good youth workers. Now that time has rolled around again. My thoughts however this time around are much more chilled...I lasted one year, I can do another no problem. However, this is what I want to guard myself against - complacency and pride. 

God did a massive work in me last year. Like really broke things in me and changed my perspective on a lot of things. I am BY NO MEANS anywhere near a perfect vessel yet and so I want to still be open to God this year and not just be relying on my own strength. 

When things begin over again I think the temptation is to just go with what has been done before, rather than try to think outside of the box. To be honest I am not great at thinking outside of the box...my ideas are normally TOO out there...(like beard ministry - ask if you haven't heard my proposal), but that is why being in team and also having some QUALITY friends is great. I love that God hasn't created us to be lone rangers, but that community is so important to him and that by creating community with my team I can invite young people to come and join and experience that.

When it all begins again it's time to think differently.

18 Sept 2012

Epic Lasagne

The last few days have been pretty intense...I'll get back to that...but this evening I have surpassed myself in sheer quantity of food prepared. 

I have made 2 enormous lasagnes...it took roughly 2.5 hours, used 2kg of mince, created a lot of mess in the kitchen and too an astounding amount of concentration from myself. Now you might be thinking, "Naomi that's not very impressive"...TO ME IT IS!

I am not what you would say "gifted" in the kitchen. I mean I can make food that passes basic taste tests...but I am queen of using jars or quick meals. I am not someone who would ever make "proper" food just for me...it takes too long!

So anyway, WHY AM I MAKING SO MUCH LASAGNE?? That is a brilliant question. So on Saturday my new team arrived! I am now the proud leader of 5 guys and 2 girls. It's quite a change from last year as I had 4 girls and 1 guy then. Anyway tomorrow is our borough day where I show them around where we are going to be working etc. It also includes the important responsibility of feeding them up for the rest of the day. Hence the tons of meat. 

I am really looking forward to getting to know them more.

Also while I was writing this post a HUGE spider dropped onto my shoulder! Now I actually blogged about something like that happening not too long ago. This spider was bigger and literally I have NO IDEA where it came from. It's freaking me out...do I have an infestation of horrible big fat hairy garden spiders in my room?!! 

I am actually a little scared to look anywhere just incase I do. ugghhhh

11 Sept 2012

Back to it

So if you are someone who reads my blog regularly you may be wondering why I haven't blogged in like 2 months...and well I have no excuse other than...I was busy and out of routine. 

I love routine. Seriously, I love having a pattern of life that I can predict. Not that I think I am a rigid-must-stick-to-a-routine person. For me having a routine is like a guideline that helps me fit everything in, but then if something else pops up I'm totally happy to adapt to incorporate it in. Anyway, that isn't what I wanted to blog about. 

Much as I love routine, I also love the summer - I love sun, chilled evenings in pub gardens, picnics, this year I was loving watching Olympics on big screens across London too.

As an overview I decided to give you a picture tour of my summer:
Student Graduation - my team all graduated from XLP and have gone onto various things.

Then I had a week off where I went home and was able to see my brother perform in his year 6 panto - hilarious. Also saw the Olympic torch come through T/Wells. Me and my Mum.

Went to A LOT of weddings! Here are 3 out of the 5: 
Tim and Emma
 Chris and Sarah
 Joel and Eleri
(All these weddings were photographed by my friends Naomi and Malcolm and these are their photos - check out more at mustardyellowphotography@blogspot.com

I spent a week doing some local mission in Beckton, a week with my kids in Lewisham and a week at Soul Survivor. THEN I had some time off again and spent most of it in ROME!

Rome was IMMENSE. I love history and I love exploring and it was such a good opportunity to be able to explore a city and learn about how much history was there. Potential weird favourite place was this old monastery called the Capuchin Crypt. So it used to be a place where monks lived (the capuchin monks looked a little bit like Friar Tuck from Disney Robin Hood, as in brown robes and pointy hoods). During some time when the monks were being persecuted they hid in the crypt, which is where other monks had been buried, and one of the hiding monks decided to make decorative patterns from the bones of the dead monks...so you walk through these rooms that have names like "Room of skulls, room of pelvis', room of thigh and shoulder bones" etc and all around you are hundreds and thousands of bones in patterns, or to symbolise things. It's pretty creepy, especially when we looked above our heads and realised there were bones hanging down! But also quite cool because I learnt loads about monks and St Augustine who started the order. 

Anyway, no I am back to work and getting my new team of trainee youth workers on Saturday. Nervous but excited. 

Back into routine so should be blogging more :)