Faithful you are

It’s been a long time since I blogged and I’ve missed it. So on my day off in lieu I am writing this sitting in a cosy London café, enjoying the jazz music and the clink of cups and the hum of conversation. In my line of vision sits a man with large round glasses and a superfluous scarf, a pile of books artfully placed beside him on the table. One of them, I kid you not, is titled ‘Ernest Hemingway Rediscovered’.

I’m still working in Central London, commuter life never ceases to be awful (especially when you are dependent on Southern rail), everything is over-priced and in true adult-ing fashion I spend a considerable amount of time wondering why council tax is so expensive.

Thankfully my flatmate and I don’t take life (or ourselves) too seriously, for God has equipped us both with a good dose of sarcastic humour with which to approach most of life’s grievances. In fact, there are rumours that we may start a blog so that together we can air our satirical views of the world. Watch this space (or, you know, don’t. We’d probably be our only readership).

Anyway, since I last blogged, I have moved into a new flat (with the same flatmate as before), and I am so grateful for the space and to be living with her. The whole process has been quite long and difficult but now that things are beginning to settle down, we’re starting to enjoy it.

I mentioned in my last post that in the previous house we lived in, we were robbed. In broad daylight, while we were out at Healing on the Streets, some poor souls broke into our landlord’s home, donned a pair of Marigolds and left with the few valuables we had.

It was interesting timing because right after Healing on the Streets, she and I had stopped for coffee before going home, and for the first time, we discussed the prospect of moving into a new place together in September. Her plan to move to a flat with other friends had fallen through, so we chatted about looking for a two-bed and got pretty excited, because it turned out we also had similar ideas about what we could potentially do to bless the community.

Then, still buzzing from all this potential, we returned to the house we were lodgers in, to find ourselves robbed.

I’ve come under spiritual attack several times over the past couple of years so for me it was pretty clear that this was an attempt from the enemy to deter us from what we wanted to do. Thankfully, I know that the enemy attacks where he sees something good. So all it did was make me completely determined to push ahead with the plan, unless God closed the door.

Through God’s provision (deposits are very expensive things) and a step of faith, we ended up signing a contract for a two-bed place not far from our previous home.

You may not be surprised to learn that the challenges didn’t end there. Aside from having to spend quite a lot of money on buying things for the flat, only a couple of weeks into living in our new place, we then discovered we had a mouse problem. We were both taken aback, as it’s a newish and a nice flat, but it turned out the whole building was infested because the guards over the vents were all broken. We were even seeing mice in our bedrooms and hearing them at night, which doesn’t make for sound sleep. We put down various assortments of traps, bought sonogram devices, tried to keep the flat extra clean, but nothing worked. Cue my poor flatmate making countless phone calls and sending many emails while I was at work, trying to get the problem dealt with. It wasn’t until about six weeks into Mousegate 2016 that the building managers finally agreed to get pest control in, by which time my flatmate’s parents had spent a whole weekend ‘mouse-proofing’ the whole flat and sealing up every possible hole. (Did you know that mice can squeeze through gaps as small as a pencil? I didn’t until I moved into this place).

It seems her parents’ heroic efforts were largely successful as I haven’t seen a mouse since, and I’m starting to relax a little about the situation. But I look back and see how much added stress it brought on top of the move itself, and various other life situations happening at the same time for both of us. It definitely seems that once again, we came under attack, and the situation could have led to us falling out – even, potentially, moving out. But we didn’t and we haven’t, and I’m excited for what’s ahead.

I have also written a few ‘risky’ things for work in the last several months, and in this too I feel some opposition as the enemy would, I’m sure, prefer me to remain silent. But the Lord will have His way, and I am grateful for the opportunity to share what He lays on my heart.

To speak more generally, over the past year I have begun to experience more of God revealing things to me about various situations around me, and it’s both a blessing and at times, a burden. I feel the weight of responsibility that comes with discernment, as I sometimes see what I almost wish I could not see, and feel powerless to do a thing except pray. I have felt a lot of others’ pain (empathy is a nuisance sometimes) and often felt overwhelmed and out of my depth.

At points I have felt completely stuck. I’ve become quite useless recently at keeping in touch with old friends (if you’re one of them and you’re reading this, I haven’t forgotten you!)

And yet, I look back over this slightly crazy year and I don’t regret any of it. I feel immense gratitude for how God has shaken up my life and placed my foundations solely on Him and His faithfulness. My mum, always amazingly patient, reminds me constantly that what I experience, God will use to strengthen me and refine me. What the enemy means for harm, God will use for good, and the plans He has for me are so much bigger than what I can see at this moment.

So, I am thankful. Thankful for the many, many blessings the Lord has poured out over me amidst all the trials. (‘You spread a table before me in the presence of my enemies’…) Thankful for an incredible church with amazing pastors who love me like a daughter, and a homegroup who have surrounded me with love, prayer and good food. Thankful for laughter. Thankful for how God is teaching me to shake off weights like Autumn leaves, and see beauty in change as the beauty of the turning seasons. Thankful for silver linings.

I hope to return to blogging more regularly soon. Until then, take care.

*Title is from Housefires’ ‘Yes and Amen’.