social spark Aisling Beatha: December 2008


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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Last Year's Review on the year

WOW, it's the 28th December. I don't have time for a proper Blog post, so I thought I'd revisit some posts from this time last year, before repeating them for this year.

So here is the very long post of my review on the year 2007!
What did you do in 2007 that you'd never done before?
Oh gosh, I really can't think of anything.
It's been an extremely isolating year for me, I guess one thing that has happened this year that I have been wary of before is that I have tried to maintain at least on a very light level (only because of time constraints) to maintain something of a relationship with people who have left our church this year, even though we firmly believe we are to stay. In the past I've shied away from that, felt like some kind of traitor or something which is totally ridiculous.
Oooh, I remembered another one, heeeheeee and this one was FUN!
I led a school assembly. I went into a local primary school (so 4 to 11 year olds) and talked to over 350 kids about the operation Christmas Child Shoebox appeal. I was as nervous as heck but LOVED every single second of it! And afterwards the deputy head of the school who was in charge said to me “You did really well, and I think everyone heard you, even the children right at the back must have heard you clearly.” Oh I laughed at that I really did, and I replied “I don't have any problems in that department.”
I definitely want to do more of those next year and will be contacting schools in September when they go back after the summer, to say I am available.
Did you keep your new years' resolutions and will you make more for next year?
I didn't, I don't, and I won't! However,I will be writing about my “theme” for the year soon, when I have finished this piece.
Did anyone close to you give birth?
Again, no in real life people, but wonderful, wonderful Stephanie, and other fantastic friends from Women at Home have had quite a baby boom this year. And from what I see on the pregnancy boards, that isn't about to end any time soon.
Although for me the most exciting new babies have not been the ones that have come to their current families by birth, but the amazing stories of adoption that we have watched play out in our midst, praying and agonizing with the prospective parents.
Did anyone close to you die?
I guess it depends on what you mean by “close”. Did I know her in real life? No, not by a long shot, but she was one of my oldest online friends, having both been part of a Christian writers email group way back and then re finding each other on Women at home. But did I love her as a friend, I admired her outlook on life, I was in awe of her reading, and although there were many on Women at home who knew her better than I did, I considered her a true friend. Natalie Rose, gone, but not forgotten, we still miss you!
What countries did you visit?
Oooh, as always a really difficult question to answer, heeheee, NOT! I have been to England and to Wales this year. LAST YEAR (and I don't think I answered these questions last year) I travelled to Belgium to baptise a friend. But this year, just home and Wales. I'd love to travel, I'd give so much to go visit my friends in America, to see Belgium (and Ello) again, to take my boys to parts of Europe I've never been yet. But for now, there is no money for trips like that and so we did not even get a family holiday at all this year.
Maybe next year hey?
And wouldn't it be cool for next Christmas to be the year I get to go on an Operation Christmas child shoebox distribution trip. MAYBE! Anyone want to pay for me to go?
What would you like to have in 2008 that you lacked in 2007?
One word, RELATIONSHIPS, call them friendships, call them what you like, but I need people, and this year I have been incredibly isolated, some of that self inflicted, some of that God and yes, some of it the enemy, but I really would like to be able to come out of this year saying “You know, I know people better now, and I really believe there are people I could turn to no matter what.”
Interestingly, after me writing this last night, this morning's sermon at church was about getting to know each other better and being involved in each others lives.

What date from 2007 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Oh gosh, I'm crying now, even though I already talked about her. I don't know if I would say June 7th, the day Natalie died, or if I would actually say the day we all found out just how ill she was and that she wasn't expected to make it and yet she was still staying bright in spirit and writing letters to leave behind for her children, and watching these very brave women who loved her even more than I did, who knew her so much better than I did, support her and the rest of us through that time. They are all inspirations.
What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Achievement? Hmmmmmm? I would say getting through that assembly at the school. Not that there were actually any problems in doing the assembly itself, at all, just how nervous I was leading up to it, with it being the first one I'd ever done and all.
I SO want to do more of this and need to get some of the books put out by the Christian charities about doing school assemblies year round. Maybe even some with some of my storytelling thrown in!
What was your biggest failure?
I completely failed to lost any weight or maintain ANY kind of fitness programme. Oh I had all sorts of excuses, but none of them really matter!
Did you suffer illness or injury?
The usual, coughs, colds, as well as some bouts of extreme tiredness coupled with frequent night waking. That's not all the time, I have been free of the extremes of it for a while, but the last few days it appears to have returned a little.
My back still hurts a lot from when I broke my tail bone in 2006. Especially at night. Not enough to keep me awake but enough to make me uncomfortable. I don't take pain killers for it, not any more, maybe I should. And the docs have been next to useless, just telling me to stretch more and throwing more pain killers prescriptions at it, so I don't even go see them any more.
What was the best thing you bought?
Has to be our new computer desk, or our new shelves, or our second dining table (2 smaller ones offer more flexibility than one big one) all of which came from IKEA and one of which was paid for my dad and my sis THANKS GUYS!
But one of my most favourite things that I have bought, I only got this morning. Well, only finished this morning. I bought a huge frame from IKEA, 20 inches by 27 ½ inches. Then, I got a poster print of a photograph I took a couple of years ago, at the Botanical Gardens in Birmingham. That arrived in yesterday's post, I put it in the frame and today my darling husband put the hooks up and hung the frame. And THIS takes pride of place at the top of my stairs.
I don't have the name of the sculptor and if you can't see what is in the middle of the palm, blow the picture up until you can.
Where did most of your money go?
Frivolous things, things we probably didn't need and couldn't afford, but that is about to change and we are to get a much tighter hold on what we spend.
What did you get really, really, really excited about?
It's been a funny year. When you are feeling as isolated as I have been, excitement doesn't come easily. Excitement is something you do with friends, together, it is meant to be shared. By it's very nature, if you are excited about something you want to share it with people, tell them about it, show them, have them experience something of it for themselves.
Well, OK then, yes there has been something. I've experienced far more of the heart of the Father this year than I ever have before and whilst I am struggling to come to terms with what that means and really understand the depth of that love, and how it makes a difference in my life, I am excited about it and I have shared a little of it with those whom I know already understand it far better than I do and those who I know would tell me they do, but really don't have a clue.
What song will always remind you of 2007?
There is ONLY one song. It was probably released before this year, but for me, it has said something that needed to be said:
Mika – Big Girls, You Are Beautiful!
Big girl you are beautiful

Walks in to the room
Feels like a big balloon
I said, "Hey girl, you are beautiful"
Diet Coke and a pizza please
Diet Coke I'm on my knees
Screaming, "Big girl you are beautiful"

You take your skinny girl
I feel like I'm gonna die
Coz a real woman needs a real man here's why
You take your girl and multiply her by four
Now a whole lot of woman needs a whole lot more

Get yourself to the butterfly lounge
Find yourself a big lady
Big boy come on around
And they'll be calling you baby
No need to fantasize
Since the words are my phrases
A watering hole the with girls around
And curves in all the right places
Big girls you are beautiful
Big girls you are beautiful
Big girls you are beautiful
Big girls you are beautiful

Walks in to the room
Feels like a big balloon
I said, "Hey girl, you are beautiful"
Diet coke and a pizza please
Diet coke I'm on my knees
Screaming, "Big girl you are beautiful"

You take your girl and multiply her by four
Now a whole lot of woman needs a whole lot more

[chorus x4]

Big girl you are beautiful
Compared to this time last year, are you:
a. happier or sadder?
Is sadder the right term? I don't think so. I am definitely more subdued, less comfortable. I wouldn't say I am happier, but certainly, sadder would be the wrong term to use. I am no sadder than I was this time last year. If anything I am more hopeful!
b. thinner or fatter?
Ahem. Do I have to answer this one? Can't I plead the 5th? Or will that actually give my answer away huh? Yep, another year older, another year fatter!
c. richer or poorer?
Sadly we have ended this year poorer, but we are on the upswing. We managed to get our refinancing through BEFORE all the subprime stuff hit and lenders became much more difficult to deal with. Hubby is extremely hopeful that things are on the up at his workplace and hopeful of a pay rise at the very least in line with inflation if not more, in April. And I am certainly open to picking up a job with a few more hours than I am doing now, although I really don't want to work full time yet because of my back.
What do you wish you'd done more of?
School Assemblies! Heeeheeeeheeeee, but maybe next year, huh?
What do you wish you'd done less of?
Eating and Spending.
How did you spend Christmas?
Christmas day this year was one of the best we have had in a while. There is a guy at church who is currently separated from his wife. He also has a son from a previous relationship. He was to spend time at his estranged wife's home later in the day, so we invited him to our house for Christmas dinner, with his older son. It was the first time we've entertained on Christmas day and it went really well. They were only here for a few hours, but with his son being in between our two boys in age it was good for all of them and it was good for us to begin to learn how to be proper hosts.
Did you fall in love in 2007?
YES! More in love than ever with my gorgeous hubby, if that is possible, but also more in love than ever with Father God, and totally aware that even now I have no concept of HOW MUCH he loves me.
What was your favourite TV program?
There's probably only a handful of programmes that I watch consistently.
Let me see. . . . . .
House – I love Hugh Laurie in this.
Grays Anatomy – Although I was beginning to get really fed up of the whole Izzie George thing by the end of the series (remember we're behind the states in a lot of these shows)
Ghost Whisperer – The thing I love about this is the whole relationships thing, watching the healing of those relationships and so on.
Extreme makeover home Edition – What more is there to say?
What was the best book you read?
The Father You've Been Waiting For” by Mark Stibbe. I think EVERYONE should read this book! It isn't HUGE, you'll finish it in a week. It might just change the way you see God, yourself and others. It has changed things for me.

What was your greatest musical discovery of 2007?
ooooooooh, my greatest musical discovery of 2007 was that worship can be played by poorly trained musicians, badly, and still be the most amazing worship experience you have had in years BECAUSE of the passionate hearts of the people involved. Anyone who was there knows exactly what I mean, and oh yes it was fun! And instead of judging we laughed and we enjoyed ourselves and we let go and God truly did turn up!
What did you want and get?
It's funny but the thing I thought I wanted and got turned out to be the very thing that would bring me down. I thought I wanted this year of seeking God for myself, but it turned out to be the loneliest time I have ever experienced. I still believe some of that was god's intention, but I KNOW that I made it far far worse than it ever needed to be by the way I responded and that in the end I had even begun to cut myself off from him. I am looking to remedy that over the coming weeks, looking to spend far more time, just focussing on him, on being in his presence.
What did you want and not get?
Friendships, deep, abiding, real, but still fun and exciting friendships. I'm still searching for that one and trying to understand why I don't have that in my life IRL. I KNOW that god put this ability, this passion, this need for female friends in women, and He and I often have discussions, (well, I do most of the talking actually) about why this is still absent in my life. Maybe if I did more of the listening and less of the talking, I would have some answers.
What was your favourite film of this year?
We didn't get to the cinema as many times this year as we did last year. But still the movies make me cry and still my boys take great delight in that fact.
I enjoyed Shrek the Third, that was a fun movie, made me laugh, and yes, made me cry. We never got around to seeing the new Pirates movie at the cinema so are waiting for it to come up on our dvd rental queue. Just this week, we went to see enchanted and a more cute film I could not have wished for. Yes, I cried, but what little girl at heart doesn't love a good fairy tale? OK, so some of you are too grown up for that sort of thing, but you know what? You're missing out! So, it isn't reality, so what?
But my favourite movie of the year, is perhaps a little controversial for a Christian blogger. I LOVED the Harry Potter movie. As ever I was a little disappointed about the parts in the book that had to be left out of the movie, but once again I am struck by the utter desperation of a boy whose parents dies when he was so young, desperately trying to be enough and do enough and all the time fighting that internal battle. But also so desperate to catch some glimpses of what his parents were really like.
What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Oh heck, that was a long time ago. My birthday is in January. I really don't remember what it was I did? But, I was a ripe old 36! So, in just 3 or so weeks time I will be 37!
What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
My hubby getting a job at equal pay, much closer to home. We have both been joking lately because there are some new industrial units being built (well, they're still just preparing the ground right now, but they'll go up quick once they start) just 15 minutes walk from our front door. We keep joking about how cool it would be for a company in his field to move into those units and him to get a job there! Instead of his current commute which can be anything from 1 hour each way on a good day to 2 or more on a bad one.
How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2007?
relaxed and casual with a little more ooomph and colour than previous years.
What kept you sane?
What's sane? Seriously, how do any of us know we're the sane ones and it's the others who are mad? I don't think I've had a particularly sane year, I don't think I've always reacted in what would be considered sane ways. But I'm still here, they haven't locked me away, yet!
Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I can't think of anyone that really gets me going the way hubby does, BUT at a push I would have to say in looks alone (because from what I've heard of his personality I wouldn't go for him at all), Russell Crowe. There's just something about his face.
What political issue stirred you the most?
Pretty much anything involving children, especially where they are being exploited or going without, both internationally and closer to home.
And any project that communicates even in some small way, to INDIVIDUAL CHILDREN that they are LOVED, well, WOW!
I think that's why I consider my involvement in the Operation Christmas Child stuff to be partly political, rather than just a faith issue.
Who did you miss?
The people I missed the most this year were people who are still here, but with whom my relationship has changed over the last few years to not be what it once was, for whatever reason. Different reasons in different cases, but some of them I see most weeks, but just on a different level. I miss those people a lot.
Who was the best new person you met?
I don't think I met a lot of new people this year. One very recently, and we're only just getting to know her, but it's exciting. We have a new neighbour next door but one and she's from Germany. She works as a translator.
Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2007:
Be careful what you wish for or pray for, or think that God is telling you, because you might just get it!
Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
Bethany Dillon
Come Find Me

Why would I ever worship wood or stone?
Things that cannot hear or speak at all
Why would I want something that I can control?
When I can't even trust myself to fall

I was following a cloud of fire and smoke
But my heart was too weak to understand
So I built an image with my fear and with my gold
Now I'm reaching out for Your hand

Come find me, come find me
I'll be waiting for You to rescue me
Come find me, come find me
I'll be waiting for You to rescue me

Don't leave me when I feel like it's impossible
When I feel my inability bleed through
Rip the veil between what I see and what is real

Let this fire in my heart be proof

Come find me, come find me
I'll be waiting for You to rescue me
Come find me, come find me
I'll be waiting for You to rescue me

My faith feels like a furnace of loneliness, my rescue is invisible for now
But I can't seem to shake this hope so dangerous
I will love and follow You, unseen God

Come find me, come find me
I'll be waiting for You to rescue me
Come find me, come find me
I'll be waiting for You to rescue me
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