Mrs Williams

Jubilee 2012

Now, I must start this with a somewhat controversial statement. I love the Queen! I know there are lots of issues with monarchy, but I think ours is something to be proud of. Politically I think it’s great to have a national figurehead and ambassador who is not tied to political standpoint, and who does not represent government decisions. Economically, the royal family bring in tons of money to the UK economy and frankly, our current queen has shown a massive amount of class and dignity through hundreds of world changes and difficult situations, so I’m a fan. I’ve had some red, white and blue cupcakes today, and I’m enjoying the jubilee coverage on TV.Its nice to have something to celebrate in this country!!

However, watching this jubilee stuff is interesting. Our country are celebrating BIG time this weekend, because someone has done a job she was born into and had no choice about for 60 years at no personal cost or sacrifice really, whilst living a life of luxury. Do you know what Jubilee actually means?

The word Jubilee comes from the bible, and describes the ancient law that at the end of seven cycles of seven years, so every 49 years, debts were cancelled, slaves were freed and lands were returned to their original owners. This was the jubilee year, recognising that God actually owns everything, so noone should hold onto anything for too long.

CAN YOU IMAGINE?!

The significance that this kind of action would have on our society is unimaginable!

Here’s a jubilee worth getting involved with

http://www.jubileedebtcampaign.org.uk/jubilee

This would be something worth really celebrating!!!

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Easter 2012

I have lots of blogs I could write today, I could tell you about how lent went (very well on some challenges, pretty poorly on others), I could write about my home-made hot cross buns (not great), I could write about the egg-celent easter fayre my church put on yesterday and how a new guy came to our church because of it, I could write about the hilarious video I’ve spent the weekend making for my gorgeous friend Carla who is getting married in 3 weeks and whose bridal shower I cant go to as its in the states.

But today is for something else. Today is Easter, and I want to write about that.

I try hard not to force my faith down my friends throats, I believe what I believe, they generally know roughly what that is, and I live in certain ways because of that, but I don’t like to put that onto anyone too forcefully because I think they deserve the right to believe what they believe as much as I do. I’ll chat about it to people who ask, but I don’t go on about it too much.

But this morning in church I realised how much I am shaped by the story of Easter. I know I probably should have known that already as a life-long Christian and churchgoer, but somehow it was only this morning that it clicked that the Easter story is MY story. It’s amazing that it happened, but its most amazing because is HAPPENS! My life is the story of death defeated and life in all its fullness, not just death defeated on that day 2000 years ago, but death defeated just a few years ago in my heart.

My Christian journey has been long and winding with moments of deep certainty, elation and fulfillment as well as questions, hurt and doubt. But around 4 years ago I went through a real dark time when I just didnt get it any more, I  didnt connect with church or faith or God. I felt so alone, and so hurt and damaged by the experiences that got me there. I started to make some bad decisions, tell lots of lies and stopped caring about most peoples opinions or feelings,  I wasn’t out and out nasty, but I didn’t mind ignoring the opinions of people I’d respected for years. I stopped going to church, and tried to run away from all of the things that had held me in church throughout my childhood and adolescence. I was so hurt and angry and deeply damaged that I couldnt take any more, so I decided not to be open or vulnerable anymore. Church jargon talks about sin and shame, and as much as those words don’t make sense to everyone, I cant think of many better ones to describe my life, my choices or my state of mind at that time.

One of the reasons I was so angry was that God had brought me out of a situation that was bad for me, but by this point I couldn’t see why anymore. I didn’t seem to be getting anywhere that was any better than the old life, and I felt so angry that I had lost so much and gained so little. It was a real wilderness experience, and although they are mentioned throughout the bible, I felt like the first person to go through it! Sara Groves sings a song about the experience the children of Israel had in the desert after leaving Egypt which says ‘I’ve been painting pictures of Egypt, but leaving out what it lacks, cos the future feels so hard and I wanna go back. But the places that used to fit me cannot hold the things I’ve learned, those roads were closed off to me while my back was turned’ and that was exactly how I felt!!

There aren’t many times in my life that I’ve felt I’ve heard from God, I don’t get booming voices or prophetic dreams, but during that darkness, God did speak to me. He spoke to me about having a plan for my life, and about what I needed to do to be in line with that plan. He spoke to me about needing some security and stability in my life, and challenged me to go and find that. He spoke to me about the need for real relationships that are raw and honest and accountable. I know that not everyone who reads my blog believes this stuff, and like I said, I don’t want to ram it down anyones throat, but for me, there was no doubt that God spoke to me, and changed me.

Since then there have been lots more twists and turns in the road, but I have found some of the security and stability I needed in the form of a wonderful church who have loved me through a lot of the hurt. I have met a wonderful man, and understand now what God was preparing me for, and I have learned some hard but fulfilling lessons about obedience from my incredible parents who have upped-sticks and moved to an incredibly difficult situation in order to serve a God who needs obedient people. I am a changed person because of the work of a resurrected God.

This Easter, I am in awe of a God who would send his son to die because he thinks I am worth it. I am blown away by the power of my God who raised Jesus from the dead and defeated death and sin. But I am also the product of a resurrection story, I have been brought from a place of death and darkness into a place of life and hope, and although I dont like to ram my faith down peoples throats, I do want to share this experience because it is so integral to who I am. I have friends who, right now, are in those dark places and who need to hear that there’s another side to them. Some who believe in God and need him to intervene, and some who don’t believe in God but need something to happen.

So this Easter, I danced and I clapped and I grinned as I sang MY song ‘Oh Happy Day, You washed my sin away, Oh Happy Day, I’ll never be the same, forever I am changed!!”

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A wonderful birthday weekend

As I have now jumped in, both feet, to my second quarter-century, Matt and I went away this weekend with some friends of ours to Herefordshire. I love a good mini-break and this one way a mega treat as we got a gorgeous little cottage complete with HOT TUB, for £150 for the weekend. Less than £20 per person per night and it was wonderlicious. Seriously gorgeous quaint little place, under floor heating (I’m put off cottages by the idea that they’re cold) and in the proper middle of nowhere. I love to be a bumpkin once in a while, and this was a perfect opportunity.

Mostly the weekend was spent reading, hot-tubbing (did I mention there was a hot tub?!) and eating. Despite two of us trying very hard on slimming world, we managed some yummy meals and generally chilled. We even managed breakfast with our books outside on Sat

However, Saturday afternoon was what I had really been waiting for…we made a visit to one of my favourite places in the world. The VERY lovely village of Hay-on-Wye. Now, I dont know if everyone in the world already knows about this place and has just been hiding it from me, but I have only known about it since I started dating Matt. Hay-on-Wye is a beautiful little town on the Welsh border which specialises in second hand books…no, really…the whole village is basically devoted to preloved books. This tiny little place has thirty second-hand bookshops, as well as a plethora of other cutesy little places, AND because the books are second hand I was allowed to buy in them during lent (I had read the rules PRETTY carefully, but decided it was allowed.)

Here’s Matt and I in a little random outdoor bookshop, and to be clear yes he IS wearing shorts and flip flops and yes I am wearing a coat with a furry hood, and thick tights. Thats how we roll!

Now I could spend days in this village I think, hour upon hour of picking out romance novels, or running my fingers down the spines of some ancient classic. But with only a couple of hours to look around the whole town, we all had a good rummage through the shelves looking for the very best books, with the extra joy of hearing the yells of some somewhat inebriated welsh rugby fans echoing around as we shopped. Being around books just makes me happy, and being around recycled and reused books makes me even happier. Managed to control my spending to a reasonable level, my main purchase being this beauty

I am super excited about learning thrifty and ingenious ways to make my life much easier! Reader’s Digest def know everything and are going to teach some of it to me.

Yesterday was mostly spent in the geekmobile (yep, we just love a road trip in that thing), which was not the most comfy with 4 adults in it, but we managed to get one of the four of us to see his Mum on mothers day, which seemed appropriate. It was wonderful to get home to my own bed, although now the dissertation is seriously looming over me and I do have to get stuck in. But if this weekend is what being 26 is going to be like, I think I’m pretty happy with that

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Lent 2012

I havent blogged for a while, because we’ve been busily moving house, which I will write more about soon…however before shrove Tuesday is properly over for another year, I wanted to quickly write about lent this year and my plans. I usually try to take lent pretty seriously, as is the Christian way, however for lots of reasons this year feels more significant. I feel like God is doing something, something is stirring under the surface in a number of areas of my life, and I feel like the next 40 days are going to be significant.

So, this year I am committing to the following.

1) No chocolate/biscuits/cakes. I usually do this, mainly because I need to lose weight, which isnt an ideal reason but I’m going with it again. I also hope that it will just raise my consciousness about lent and keep it in the front of my mind.

2) No shopping…this is a tough one. Lately I’ve faced a number of challenges about my consumerism. I am challenged not only about what I spend but also about why I feel I need to spend it. Now, obviously I need to buy food/petrol/deodorant (for everyones sake), so its not a blanket ban. However, I am going to aim not to buy clothes, shoes, jewellery, makeup or any other luxury items. There are 3 exceptions 1) I have to buy some shoes for my friend Carla’s wedding.  I am the matron of honour! The wedding is 3rd May so I might not end up buying during lent, however, Carla’s requirements for the shoes are pretty specific so if I find some that fit the bill I will have to get them. 2) gifts for other people, but obviously only for birthdays etc and 3) charity shops. I hope this lent period can help me to realise that I can utilise charity shops as a way of opting out of the supply/demand system and thinking about what I need as opposed to what I want. My birthday falls in the middle of lent, so Im hoping for no vouchers as they really burn a hole in my pocket!!

3) Getting back on the bible reading thing! Matt and I wanted to read the bible in a year this year, but have got a bit behind with the house move, so Im hoping we can get that back on track as its really important to us both. We are also going to add some more structured prayer into that as we have a lot of things and people we want to see change happen for and we believe that prayer makes a difference

4) ok, so then I wanted to think of something to take on on my own as I really believe that lent should be as much about taking up as about giving up. However, I suspect that any taking up would have an ulterior motive as I have a crap load of work I should be doing in the next 40 days, and I believe wholeheartedly that the degree I’m doing is something I was called to, and so it is actually a spiritual responsibility to get it done and get it done well. Therefore, I am making a public pledge here (and I havent told anyone this yet) that I am going to work my little tush off for the next 40 days, and that my placement, assignments and dissertation will ALL be finished by Easter. That is a couple of weeks ahead of deadlines, but it will give me a focus and a goal and then might give me a couple of weeks extra of job hunting and life sorting post-degree. That is 40 days to write 18000 words with NO CHOCOLATE AND NO CAKE!!! I suspect this lent may be the toughest one yet!

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Thanksgiving

I fully intended to write this post on Thursday, but time got away from me, and I’m supposed to be writing an essay so every time I pick up my computer I feel guilt.

Thanksgiving is, obviously, not a holiday in the UK. However, I feel like that’s a real shame in some ways, because the idea of a holiday where people have opportunity to think about what they’re Thankful for sounds like something we should be doing.

Equally, the last few weeks have been really hard, with various things that we have had to face and deal with, and it has been easy to lose sight of how incredibly blessed we are in so many ways. So I wanted to write a list of 100 things I am thankful for, but then the essay guilt really kicked in, so I’ve gone with ten. Inevitably, some of them are silly but there are so many real things that I love and want to Thank God for.

  1. My wonderful, caring, gorgeous, patient, godly, generous husband. It is hard to believe that two years ago I didnt even know him, but I feel incredibly blessed to have him.
  2. My relationship with my brother. This has not come easily, and there have been so many experiences of hurt and sadness for us both on the way. However, we are now just such great friends, and he is a man of maturity and integrity who I am so proud of.
  3. My parents, who have worked so hard to bring both Ben and I up to be good people. They are so committed to what they believe and are proving that by doing something incredibly uncomfortable for them because they feel called to service in the Salvation Army.
  4. My new family. This summer I gained two parents-in-law, two brothers, a sister, and two nephews as well as two brother-in-laws-wives and one sister-in-laws-husband who, apparently, i’m not actually related to. They are all awesome, and lovely to me! in particular, Grayson and Janice, Matt’s parents, have been great at taking care of me while my parents are away. I love them a lot.
  5. Our little flat. Its has various faults, but its actually pretty great and I feel lucky to have it.
  6. Anna! Anyone who knows my relationship with Anna will know that in her I really have found something of a kindred spirit…I feel very blessed to have a friend like her.
  7. My church. It’s not perfect, but for me it’s pretty near perfect. When I first moved to Southampton I was close to giving up on church after one too many painful experiences, but they are just such a great group of people who adopted me into their family and have cared for me so beautifully. The church is a place of truth and honesty and I feel so happy to be there.
  8. Friends. In the last couple of years, I have increasingly invested in friendships that are positive and constructive. I have some wonderful friends who know me, and know my strengths and weaknesses. They are honest with me, and willing to be with me through good and bad times. I am very lucky to have these people.
  9. Really good satsumas. Despite my last post exposing my hatred of Christmas, I DO love the Satsumas that we can get at Christmas
  10. Sunnyfields farm. This is the organic store that Matt and I have started doing our shopping at. Its just GREAT and shopping there has made me very happy. Last week we had to pop to Tesco for a couple of bits because we had some vouchers to use, and honestly, having not been there this month, it made me want to cry. I really dislike big chain stores, I hate the fact that I can go into a store anywhere in the country and they’re just the same, I just think its depressing. I hate the waste produced by these stores, and the way that their practices are putting farmers out of business. So I feel really lucky to have found somewhere lovely to shop 🙂

That is all

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