Well hello there! My name is Nesta and this is my corner of the internet. 'I'm very normal, neat-freak, healthy, non-smoker, single...' and will not complete the rest of that sentence incase you all think I have an obsession for The Holiday. You'd not be wrong, but this is neither the time or place for it.
It is however, a sort-of diary for myself. Years from now, when I have grown up into a proper adult, I will look back and read of times when there was no mortgage to pay, nor bosses to impress.
Enjoy all of it with a cup of tea in one hand. Then you will, at least, have had a little bit of pleasure from reading about things that bring me little everyday joys.
I have two essays to hand in before Tuesday evening.
However, it could be worse. They could have to be handed in tomorrow. I am not in the mental state to be staying up past 11pm, let alone pull an all-nighter for that one.
Yet over the course of my degree, I am pretty sure that I have pulled off a couple of all nighters. I would be lying if I told you I didn’t.
There was this really fun time when I was staying up to write an essay for HIS341 on how great the UN [United Nations] is, when I got distracted by something on TV. You know the feeling: you start with all the best of intentions,
‘Sure, it’s only going to be five minutes! I’lll get loads of work done after then!’
And before you know it, you are trying to type up paragraphs on why the UN rocks, while crying inside that a man as orange as Northern Ireland on the 12th of July, gets elected president of a powerful country.
Needless to say, it became less ‘The UN rocks and we’re all good!’ to ‘we need the UN because it rocks in several different ways: 1)…’
How many times do we say that we are going to get organised and do the thing that we needed to do for five minutes ago? How many times a day do we procrastinate?
Put it another way: wouldn’t life just be a little less stressed if we prioritised?
But where is the fun in that?
There’s a meme floating about saying something like ‘I leave everything to the last minute because diamonds are made under pressure’. A) that was far too relatable to me this week, and B) what kind of creativity is that? It may be a lesser known fact, but all degrees, all jobs, all things that we do as people are kind of creative. Because we are creative people. Whether it’s artsy creativity, or logical organisation, or just finding a new way to spend time, we all can be creative.
So why not be creative in the middle of the stress?
Even better suggestion, Nesta take note, give the stress and the worry over to God and then you can be as creative as you like! Sounds like a plan, I’d better follow it.
This is short and sweet, but it’s my way of being creative. Already I am less panicked about the library closing in an hour and the thought of checking all of my references against the 18 books that are in piles around my elbows, ankles and eyeline… OK back to panicking.
It’s the 1st of November and, I am not ashamed to admit that, the Rend Collective Christmas album has been blasting. Some may say that it is too early to get into the festive spirit. To these nay-sayers I have no apology. Christmas is the anticipation of Someone’s birth and as I spent a good month thinking about my birthday, I feel that to give two months is a small build-up for this birthday.
This wasn’t a solitary waltz down the chestnuts-on-an-open-fire walkway.
AEB is up, so we spent the day reliving some #galvallygals banter. Today we went for breakfast and a small walk, which I thought to share with y’all.
It may only be week 5, but I feel like my brain has left town, with the eagerness of a Labrador at the beginning of the grouse shooting.
Is anyone else’s brain smashed?
No! Wait, I don’t mean literally! But that sense of ‘Oh dear, everything inside my head is turning to moosh, and I don’t like it.’
To put it another way, I am glad that my skull is made of bone, therefore, is unlikely to combust into thin air. The result is, which to my great excitement includes a word I never knew existed before, a ‘quaggy‘ mess.
It may only be week 5, but I feel like my brain has left town, with the eagerness of a Labrador at the beginning of the grouse shooting. Please do excuse any mixed metaphors. They are floating about my head for a somewhat, understandable reason: this semester has seen my almost-full-body submersion into poetry. Therefore I grant myself full liberty within any metaphorical landscape from here on in.
At the present moment in time, I am supposed to be writing an essay on the symbolism of W.B. Yeats; one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century, among the top Irish, and international, writers that we have ever produced, or as I now call him, ‘The-Reason-For-My-Head-Being-In-A-Quaggy-Mess’.
To be fair, it’s not all of his fault.
I did sign up for this.
Yes, I am a class-A idiot. Specifically, an ENG531 Class-A idiot.
Let me explain.
When I started looking at the module selection for third year, I noted that there was a module devoted to ’20th Century Irish Writers’. Smiling with the certainty that some type of Wodehousian-fate would love, I passively acknowledged that it looked good, but I would never take the class. Another bout of Irish literature? Please, let’s just not.
Yet as online enrolment loomed around the corner, and I had little-to-zero interest either of the modules I was considering as a third option, I could almost hear P.G. Wodehouse narrate this paragraph of my biography:
‘Despite the quiet reluctance of a cat on a hot tin roof, Nesta saw that she either had to brave the fray, or spend the next semester knee-deep in Knitters Digest in a last ditch move towards sanity. After all, when one puts these things into perspective, some writers from the motherland couldn’t damage her as much as an accidental prod of a knitting needle to the chest, in an attempt to alleviate the boredom.’
Yet, it was not as hum-drumly practical as this alludes to. Ulster may not be the forefront Irish university, nor may it shine the brightest on the world’s stage, but it is an Irish university. As such, I thought that I had better commit myself to a semester of Yeats, Joyce, and Beckett, as a slight penance for not biting the bullet in previous years. In an odd sense of patriarchal nationalism, I felt that it was almost a duty to spend time looking into Irish writers.
After my A-Level experience (which had no marks, or tarnish left from a totally joyous experience of school, where everything always went the right way), I had walked away believing Irish writers to be self-obsessed, and narrow minded. Self-obsessed, as most of the work was personal to their own circumstances and opinions; narrow minded, as they constantly referred back to Classical literary tropes, which I then had to learn off my heart to include in essays that used as much brain power that would power a G-Wiz for 15 minutes.
Needless to say, I was bored, stressed, and unhappy for these years.
The last thing I wanted to do during the last year of my undergrad, was to relive all of those experiences. Uni has been my best experience of education; one that has not helped in the total decline and demise of my mental faculties.
Entering Lt10 on Thursday morning of week one, was the closest I have felt towards dread (concerning my studies) than I have felt in a long while. As I sat down, lifting my file-block, pens, and endurance onto the table, my brain clocked out. I sat like this for, roughly half-an-hour, when suddenly, something the lecturer said, caught my attention;
‘It’s important to look at Irish writers, for not only have they shaped the international literary climate; they have also shaped the perception of Ireland. Yeats may as well, could have worked for Sligo’s tourist board, Joyce Dublin’s, and Beckett, a particular view on a very Irish mindset. They helped put us on the map: I [the lecturer] therefore think that every student from Ulster, or another Irish university, should spend at least one semester looking into their work. Not only is the writing to an international standard, but these writers helped to shape the world in which literature is alive in the modern age.’
That may be paraphrased, but it was the jist of my struggle: overlooking my prejudices, and accepting that maybe there is something more to Yeats than his Leda, Joyce’s all-over-the-show-formwise masterpiece, and Beckett’s streams-of-consciousness. I needed to build a bridge, have some patience and compassion, and get over it.
A few weeks later, I still am wrestling with Yeats. I still am rolling my eyes to 360-degrees whenever someone talks about ‘the symbolism in Yeats’ poetry on loss/Ireland/women etcetc’; but I am beginning to have respect. Not just for what Yeats achieved in his lifetime, but what he achieved in his poetry.
It’s self-focused because poetry is allowed to show the soul of the poet, to be the external-processing needed whenever tragedy strikes, and to give himself focal points to immortalise into epochs in the narrative of Irish history.
And Yeats isn’t narrow-minded. At least, not in the ways in which I used to think he was.
So now, as my quaggy mess of a brain starts to churn back into it’s working mode, and as I delve back into my work, I just want to encourage you to be open minded to the things that you’ll learn. Guard your heart (Pvb4:23) defiantly, but be wise. Don’t shut doors because of bad experiences: don’t close down a chance because you’re afraid of the consequences: don’t stop learning.
I feel like Barney from How I Met Your Mother, but instead of dragging Ted around the local bars, I carry hypothetical reading material into any situation, trying to match-up one of my loves with another human being.
People watching is the height of entertainment for me and, for varying reasons, the past month has seen my social calendar packed. Meeting all of the new people has been somewhat entertaining, as well as terrifying. Therefore, when I look back over the past few weeks, I sub-consciously realised that there are a few set-things I do when confronted with new people;
Analyse: Everything that I can see from body language or physical appearance, hear from their language or dialect, and feel with my gut-instinct. Trust me, I don’t do this to feel superior, or for the lols, but because it really does interest me. Everything about every person on this earth is different. Yes, some traits we share, picking them up from the environments and cultures we come from; but on the whole, everyone is different in their own special way. By looking at these differences and breaking them down internally, I am able to familiarise myself with the ‘idea of other’. This ‘idea of other’ is something that I use to cope in all social situations. We all see the world as ‘us and them’: the ‘idea of other’ simply helps in understanding that we all have flaws that we don’t want others to see fully into.
Kick into Hyper-Drive: My sentences merge into one long stream of consciousness. All words get jumbled together in one long stream of internal panic. After all, what does one say when meeting someone new? If one is quiet, then awkwardness descends, like a cloud over the top of an already misty mountain. If one is talkative, the other person will label you as crazy and therefore run away as soon as possible. I am super aware that I fit under the latter. Motor-mouth-101 kicks in, and I will spew whatever comes into my head. As human nature and social skills promise, conversation will turn to things we find ourselves secure in: loves, passions, achievements, or interests that the talker lands on-top of the talkee’s shoulders. Thus, it sounds like I am boasting, or worse, being a self-righteous snob whenever I get going.
After all, who else has enjoyed reading Aristotle.
I have met no one who has ever read Poetics outside of ENG341, who has done it for pleasure.
Churn it over: Taking everything that has been said and processing it to the nth degree. This will be done in great detail, and served with a twinge of regret. Regret, not for meeting the new person, but for dominating the conversation. I want to be curious without being nosey, yet not everyone wants to or feels able to partake in small talk. Apparently, the knack of small talk is to ask questions; but what happens when you are asking questions and getting one word replies? Tell me, oh wise etiquette people of the internet. What do you do then? So, I spend the rest of the day, maybe even into the next (week), thinking about different ways I could have been a better conversationalist. Being a little annoyed that I was provoked into Motor-Mouth-101 by the silence and then continue to churn over the conversation, trying to understand just how on earth I have managed to survive in this social stratum for so long and not be pin-pointed as a complete narcissist?
Now, there may be a person or two reading this shaking their heads; wondering ‘how Nesta, after all we have been through, are you still being introspective when it comes to meeting new people?’
Tell me how to stop doing items number 2 and 3, then I will: I promise.
To be honest, this is a frightfully long introduction into the main body of this post today, which is, that whenever I start Motor-Mouthing-101, my immediate subject with a new person is:
‘So, do you like books?’
I feel like Barney from How I Met Your Mother, but instead of dragging Ted around the local bars, I carry hypothetical reading material into any situation, trying to match-up one of my loves with another human being.
One of these favourites is called Flambards by K.M. Peyton.
No one has ever heard of it.
And when I say no one, I really mean that.
OK, a friend from school bought me the book for my birthday about ten years ago, and it was so sweet of her. But the reason for her buying the book wasn’t that it was my favourite; it was because there was a horse on the front cover.
Prizes to the first one to message me confirming what type of 11-year-old I was.
So anyway, I always ask ‘What do you like to read?’.
For some inexplicable reason, this kind of question always throws people. It’s almost like they have social skills and have practiced other forms of commutation with each other, at some type of institution, where grown up people teach things like Maths, or Science, or English, or social skills.
Not that there is a lesson plan for such benign things as human interactions, but I clearly remember daydreaming through my playground days. Wandering around pretending to be Elizabeth Bennet, quoting letters from Darcy, and dancing a quadrille (on my own) was far easier than talking to other people. Or worse, playing 1-2-3-tippy.
Due to said daydreaming, I don’t really know what to do when I meet new people. I’m still learning. At 22, it still frightens me: the idea of getting to know new people, making new relationships and starting new projects with said people. It is daunting.
Anyway, due to ‘So, do you like books?’ I have realised that I must be in the minority. I am not being elitist, or snobby, or snooty, when I say this. Books and reading have just dropped as popular media in the twenty-first century. Not that they aren’t being read: in fact, book sales have beaten e-books in their popularity since 2016 – #itsallaboutthataesthetic.
When I say that ‘I like a good book’, I mean it. Every part of it will enthral me; the smell, the plot, the characters, the narrative, the feel, the feels… all of it. A good book and a cup of tea does wonders for any time I am feeling blue.
It then makes me a little sad when someone tells me that they don’t like books.
Not that I’d ever force a book on someone who wasn’t a big reader. But it makes me sad to think that they will never know the joy of opening up to a dearly beloved book, to delve into characters’ lives in ways we never can in real life. For example, no one has ever been able to share with me the heart break I experienced, aged 15, when a certain death happened in the Flambards series.
There is no spoiler alert here for I am not revealing anything. No sir. You may go and read, or listen to, or watch the TV series, but I am staying mute. For it felt like a friend had died.
This is what happens when you get invested into the life of a character. You become emotionally attached. As a person who finds emotions hard to show therefore, reading becomes a little outlet for me. It then keeps me sane as I use my over-active hyper-driven brain to analyse the text, rather than something else that I struggle a lot with: myself, as a person.
Reading, then analysing, and then thinking about a text really helps me to cope with the inside of my head. It may be a surprise, as I am not one of the unusually gifted of the world, that there is quite a lot going on up there. I find it hard to stop, take a break, to switch off.
In fact, switching off is my worst nightmare. Doing nothing while thinking about nothing is awful. I can’t do it.
How do I relax then?
That’s why I love reading, books, my course, driving, people watching… all of it. It all helps me to relax. Keeping my mind busy helps me to keep calm. Oxymoronically, doing nothing stresses me out, while having a ‘little project’ relaxes me.
This post is a bit up in the air. But if you take anything away from here, let it be this: do more of what you love. I’ve been wired in a way that makes the way I read a social situation, incredibly similar to the way I read a book. God made me this way. Yes, I can pray, and yes, I can worship and read the Bible: but when push comes to shove, ‘whatever you do, do it all for God and His glory’ for me means doing what I love to do. There are desires in my heart, good ones placed there by my good Father. He knew what He was doing when He wired me up to be a nostalgic-realist-dreamer of a girl, who loves music, and being in her own world.
He knows what I love.
And He loves watching me do it.
Do more of what you love: it’s what we were created for. It may be hard at times, we may need help, but ultimately, as my La (my grand-father) says;
In our world today, we want to know the depths of everyone, including ourselves, as an individual. This is manifested in many mediums – social media, blogging, our jobs, hobbies etc – yet all comes down to one thing…
I wonder what your personality type is? According to the Myers Briggs model, there are sixteen combinations in total. Each Type is labelled under a Role of similar personalities. For instance, the Role that my Type belongs to is called Diplomat and within that, my Type is the Mediator. The personalities of the Diplomat Role are; INFJ, INFP, ENFJ, and ENFP.
When I first did the Myers Briggs test, I didn’t think that anyone had ever explained myself to me, in such a empathetic, logical, informative, and accurate way. Introverted didn’t come as a surprise at all. It just means that I recharge my batteries on my own, away from loads of people, rather than the common misconception of introverts: which is that we don’t like people.
Intuitive (the N of INFP), basically means that in most things I face, instinct will kick in. Coupled with strong Feeler and Perceiver traits, this means that there’s a lot going on under the surface, especially when it comes to the imagination. It also means that I enjoy people watching and reading body language. Don’t be freaked out if you catch me staring at you, and don’t be surprised when I will sometimes jump to the wrong conclusion if signals are mixed.
So basically, you now know me.
Or do you?
In our world today, we want to know the depths of everyone, including ourselves, as an individual. This is manifested in many mediums – social media, blogging, our jobs, hobbies etc – yet all comes down to one thing: identity.
We love to label ourselves with our different identities:
“I am female.”
“I am tall.”
“I like reading.”
“I like boys (preferably grown up ones).”
“I am musical.”
Get the picture? Our likes become who we are, or who we want to be seen as, or associated with. And so often we allow these things, these single attributes, to become our whole identity. For example, based on these statements, this is how I would dress with identity in mind: comfortable – because I can see that other people find it easier to be around someone who is comfortable #INFP – feminine, yet with that cool, basic edge that shows I think for myself (#bookbaes) and sure, I’ll grab that beanie to protect the headphones I’ll be wearing for most of the day, as it helps me to study/hide from the world.
It’s a lame example, but you should get the picture. We identify with the things we like, are or are talented in. These then, become our identity, and that is quite stressful when
you think about it. When you tie up who you are in the ideas you have, you begin to lose yourself. It’s metaphysics; once you take away the possibility of the physical and solely push into the meta, you begin to lose the thread of reality. You lose the thing that was definite and wander into the surreal.
Also, whenever we try live in one identity, life itself becomes blinkered. You don’t want to see anyone else’s point of view because what if it changes you? You’d then be back to square one again: minus the identity you had idolised without realising it.
It’s easy to idolise an identity. To put all we have into it.
Personally, it’s really easy to clip a ‘English student’ tag onto my jacket as I run into uni every day. Frankly, because I am not your average person, I could go so far to idolise my course, living from one day to the next excited to be there, thrilled by my work (I do love it and I know that’s not normal, let’s move on), and stressing in the library at how much hasn’t been done that week. It is an idol which I have had to hand back to God, over and over and over again because while it is a good thing, uni isn’t god. I don’t get peace, love, provision, or identity from my university, or my course.
As a Christian, as a son and heir, as a daughter, as a lost sheep, I know in my head that God gives me all the good things I have and am. But I struggle in my heart to realise that my identity is not in the things I can see on earth; it’s in Him. Hebrews 11 says that faith is the ‘assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen.’
So, my identity is in Someone, Something, that I can’t see?
This idea of identity has been coursing through my head for over a week now. I can’t seem to get away from it. This post feels different to other ones I’ve written on here in the past months, as I am using it as a processing station. I have thought and talked it out to myself, walked, pondered, and prayed. Still I struggle to work out how to fathom it. My identity is in God, in the Trinity, in Christ’s death on the cross. What does that mean? What does it look like?
I know I need to spend more time reading about this and praying about it too, but for now, here are just a few thoughts. It’s Friday night and this may be heavy, but bear with, it can all be done with a cup of tea to take away the blues.
Sonship: For years, I struggled with Paul’s letters in the New Testament. I constantly thought ‘why is he so down on women all the time? Cultures may be different, but you can’t say “love others” and just ignore women, or say that they aren’t as important as men.’ This opinion was truly overhauled this summer.
Paul was being radical in the use of the word ‘sons’. Sons could inherit all that their fathers left for them; sons owned the promise they had received and they worked hard in preparation with the Father for the time that the land would be theirs. When Paul, throughout his letters to the early church, referred to sons he wasn’t over-looking women: he was setting a new precedent in society. Women were equal to men in the promises God had given through Christ; salvation, eternal life, forgiveness, love, to name but a few. Women could inherit. Women could be in a relationship with God as their loving Daddy, who would leave them everything, give them anything, provide what is good eternally.
In such a gender-fluid society of the 21st century, this concept should still be as radical as it was then: our gender doesn’t change, we don’t become men. But as sons in the kingdom, we have a place. We have an acknowledged place beside Jesus in heaven. We are above angels. We are inheritors to the kingdom. Both genders, equally. And this equality doesn’t come down to how strong we are, or our careers, or how much better one sex is than the other. This equality is founded on the fact that we were all lost. The Bible doesn’t say the opposite to ‘saved’ is ‘unsaved’: the opposite to saved is ‘lost’.
We were lost. But God wanted us to be found. He went looking, and looked everywhere for us. He adopted us into His family. We are no longer on the outside looking in, but with Him, looking out for others who are lost. We were full of sin and now, through Christ’s death and resurrection that paid the wages of sin for those who are now found, we can stand as equals as sons in the inheritance of God. This inheritance can mean different things for different people, I think, as the relationship between God and individual beings is different. It’s personal, it’s a relationship. So, we are sons.
Daughters: We’re also daughters and I want to be bold in saying this; girls and boys can be daughters. If ‘son’ is a word synonymous with inheritance and provision in the Bible, then with ‘daughter’ it should be with ‘protected,’ ‘cared for,’ ‘prayed over,’ and ‘surrounded by God’s love.’
I myself am a daughter. It’s actually a beautiful thing to be, when you think about it. I’ve never been one of those girls that is soppy in the relationship with her Daddy. In fact, we are the same person. He just happens to be male, a physicist, and twenty-seven years older than me. This sparks some embers when we are tired, or having an argument, but it also means that we understand each other pretty well. I know that if I am in trouble, one way or another, I’m good to run towards him, and know that he will help in any way he can. It means too, that as his daughter, he prays for me; that I’ll keep walking with the Lord, that He will help me when everything gets hard, and that I’ll keep dancing with Him in the Spirit. As his daughter, as Philip’s daughter, he will be the one walking me up the isle someday, to hand me over to a guy who is up to his standards (and they are high standards) and as his daughter, I know that I am loved by him, no matter what I do. Doesn’t God do this with all of us? Doesn’t He protect, love, care, surround, and defend us? If sonship is radical adoption into the family of God, then being a daughter is the reality of that radical adoption: once adopted into God’s family, you are loved and protected.
Sons and daughters of the King of kings.
Gender is a big conversation at the minute. Not one that I am comfortable talking about, but nonetheless, I go into uni every day and someone wants to talk about gender. To be honest, and half of the two-people reading this will be cross when I say this, but I think that if you’re born with the equipment, then you can’t change it. But that doesn’t mean that I hate anyone who does struggle with their gender-identity. The total opposite. Because I have been radically loved, I want to love radically.
Can I leave you with one final, random thought?
Sons and daughters, male and female, both are universally ‘lost’. You can’t find yourself when you are lost. One is not more lost than the other, as both are lost. There isn’t a scale of ‘lost-ness’, nor will the person who is least lost will be found soonest. Lost is a state of being, as is found. Once found, there is nothing that you can do, or I can do, to make you more- or less-found. So, can we stop taking each other down? We are equal in our lost-ness and our found-ness.
We both have individual qualities, and we both are human.
We both are being called out too, and we both don’t want to hear what our rescuer is shouting.
We both can choose to remain, and we both can choose to be found.
We both can love. Because we have both been loved, radically.
If it’s fools that dream, count me among them. But I don’t think it’s foolish to dream. Belief in a definite outcome may be foolish, but dreaming in-its-self is a gift.
Does anyone else have a rabbit-hole experience when it comes to Pinterest? You go on to check up on a new look or for cooking inspiration and suddenly it’s two hours later. Not only have you stalked all of the new and exciting things happening in Etsy, but you probably have three new boards, each boasting 100+ new pins.
If you haven’t been caught down the rabbit-hole of Pinterest, then you’ve probably been down the burrows of Facebook, Instagram and, the most labyrinthine of them all, YouTube.
It happens. It’s OK. We’re moving on.
On that note, please no judging from anyone when I admit that last Friday night, while relaxing on the sofa, enjoying rest that is reward enough after a long week in the library, I added one new board and (what felt like) hundreds of new pins. The super-good people out there will now say, ‘But isn’t Pinterest coveting on a massive scale?’ Answer: I have no idea, but as all things were created for good, I’m going to keep pinning.
Because this time, I have hit on a project that deserves to be pinned: my nest egg.
A nest-egg is just a sample of ideas and possibilities for homes that may, or may not, exist in the future. We’ve all done it in some shape or form: roving around Dunelm, colour matching fabrics, wandering around Ikea saying that ‘one day all of this shall be mine’, or simply watching Grand Designs and commentating on the things you would do differently.
My new board is technically a ‘sub-board’. This means that itcouldbe in the muthaboard called ‘Decor’ but I have designated it with it’s own special board: mit hus. ‘Mit hus’ simply means ‘my house’ in Danish, which due to an obsession with anything that comes from Scandinavia, suits me perfectly. Minimalism, coupled with contemporary architecture, different materials and textures, and a medley of oak coupled with polished concrete. Just thinking about it sends chills of joy up and down my spine.
Everything the Scandis do, I enjoy fully. Somehow, they have managed to tap into what a house it all about: home. Recently, there’s a Swedish word (‘lagom’) that has been floating around the internet. It’s means to have just enough. Not too much, not too little, but enough. What a stunning concept in 21st century, Western life? Also, related to ‘lagom’ is the Danish ‘hygge’, the art of being cosy.
So my new sub-board was begun. The intention originally was for it to be a template of what I want my house to be like in the future. As I beavered away, finding the perfect staircase, spaces for books and a piano, I realised that I was designing a house, with other people in mind. I kept thinking, ‘Would that be safe for kids running around the place?’ or ‘What if my husband doesn’t want such a contemporary space/carbon-zero/off-the-grid house?’
Then I kicked into hyper-anxious-Christian-drive: ‘What if God wants me to serve in Africa? Or better than that, China? He puts people where they are out of their comfort zones, placing them where it’s challenging: after all, what’s-to-stop-Him-from-doing-the-same-here-what-am-I-going-to-do-if-my-husband-and-I-are-called-to-go-somewhere-where-I-won’t-be-able-to-have-a-green-sofa-of-dreams? What if I don’t meet someone to spend the rest of my life with? What if I’m sent out to do mission on my own?’
But then, waking up this morning, I realised something. Whatever happens, whoever I marry, if my dream of a PhD doesn’t work out or if I can’t have kids, won’t it be for God’s glory and my good? Isn’t that a good thing? Why am I worrying about the material when there’s way more to life than that? Why do I need to concern myself with finding a life-long partner when I am only 21? After all, He has created me. He knows what I need and exactly what I can do with the gifts He’s created me with.
We are allowed to dream. We’ve been designed to dream big. To climb mountains, to explore new places, meet new people, and at the end of the day, to come home to love whoever is there. But there’s a reason we have been given dreams: they’re given to us, to hand back to the One who gives us the desires of our hearts. Our lives should not revolve around trying to make the dreams come true, but in living out lives in light of the greatest Truth. John chapter three verses fifteen to seventeen say;
‘Everyone who looks up to Him, trusting and expectant, will gain a real life, eternal life. This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, His one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in Him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending His Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.’ (MSG)
In that light, who cares whether I can sit on my Green Sofa of Dreams with a cup of tea from my favourite mug in ten, twenty or fifty years from now? It doesn’t even matter if that particular dream never happens. Because that’s what dreams are about: imagining a future we have no control of. Yes, there are decisions we make and places we will go, but these are not what guide us. Or direct us. Or help us.
This sounds super desperate and I should get out more, but I met a guy recently. He probably can’t remember my name, and he more than likely has a girlfriend. His heart is for the Lord and he seems so sound.In men too, I prefer a Scandinavian steryotype; tall, fair and… well, you can probably just Google the rest for visuals. In any case, this exact person is ‘my type’. And yet, while I may dream and wonder and think, ‘Is this the guy I will get to live in mit hus with?’; it doesn’t really matter. Because no matter how great this Dream-Boat-Guy is, he’s not going to measure up to the one I’ll get to spend the rest of my days on earth with. Even though I have my plan, God’s one is better.
‘Here’s to the fools who dream’ said LaLa Land. I am a fool then. My imagination is wired so, that I love to dream. To dream and believe that some good will happen everyday. To imagine great things that plumb the depths of my heart, heartbreak as well as happiness.
This is a quick little post. I’ve realised that recently I haven’t been posting up many recipes. Maybe it’s because I go crazy with the stuff life is pitching, but it’s no real excuse. So here are a couple of great go-tos: not only are they the best for cobbling together within an hour or two, but they guarantee smiles all around.
Also, sorry that there aren’t any images. My camera isn’t the best and the quality didn’t do them any justice. And they are just recipes from other books that I always use. So, in a way they’re not really ‘mine’ but when you make anything, you make something new.
225g/8oz self-raising flour
75g/2oz cold butter
30g/1oz caster sugar
1tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
60g/a good handful of sultanas
extra milk on hand
Heat the oven as high as it goes (c.220 celsius). Pull out two greaseproof trays.
Put the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Cut and rub in the butter.
Add in the sugar and sultanas. Stir.
Beat the egg in a separate bowl. Add to scone mix. Stir. If the mix is being too crumbly, add little drops of milk until the scone mix comes together into a dough.
Turn onto a floured surface and gently roll dough roughly an inch thick.
Use an upturned up, if you don’t already have a cutter. Cut the dough into scones and place on the tray.
OPTIONAL: you could egg, or milk, wash the tops of the scones to give them a nice shine.
Put the scones into the oven for 10-15 mins. If your oven cooks unevenly, then turn the trays around half way through.
The scones should be golden brown on top. If you want to check that they’re cooked, poke a hole into their centre with a skewer (or sharp knife): if it comes out clean than they’re cooked. If not, then give the scones a couple of minutes more. A GREAT TIP here is from my great Aunty Nesta (who is not only my namesake, but a total whizz in the kitchen) — if the bake – scone/cake/buns/etc – are just there but you don’t want to burn them with extra cooking, turn the oven off and leave the bakes in for a couple more minutes.
Put the cooked scones on a cooling rack.
Best enjoyed warm with some jam and butter or cream.
If you are gluten free or dairy free, this works really well with the alternative flours. Just make sure that for gluten free you use 1tsp of xanthan gum to bind the mix, and to use a little more milk to help the mix along – GF flour takes more moisture than normal flour. For dairy free, use a bit more DF butter than this recipe says (about 90-100g) as there’s not much fat in the spread to make the scone short enough that it doesn’t become a cake.
(recipe from The Belfast Cookery Book, Margaret Bates, Pergamon Press, Oxford, 1967, p.158)
Muscovado Sugar Meringues
These are simply, brilliant.
4 egg whites
150g muscovado sugar
100g caster sugar
1tsp vanilla essence
double cream (to serve)
Heat the oven to 140 degreesC (120 for a fan oven).
Prepare two greaseproof trays.
Separate the egg whites from the yolks – they can be used to make a custard or ice-cream on another occasion!
Beat the egg whites in a kitchen aid.
When they start to form into soft peaks, start to add in the mixed sugars. Go slowly as this will keep in the air, allowing the meringues to rise well in the oven.
When the sugar is in with the eggs add the tsp of vanilla essence. Fold it in.
The egg whites should be in soft, shiny peaks: if you rub the mixture between two fingers, it should feel silky with no bumps.
Spoon, or pipe, the meringue mix onto the greaseproof paper/tray. Aim for the mix to be no bigger than the palm of your hand.
Place into the oven and cook for 1-1.5hrs, even to 2hrs depending on your oven. You will know when they are done, because they will be; a) a beautiful deep golden colour, and b) easy to lift off from the baking parchment. However be careful, as they can be delicate.
Serve with double cream, that has been whipped until it is stiff, but not over-whipped, and some berries or sauce or ice cream; whatever you fancy.
This is a Mary Berry recipe, but as I have made these so often, I can’t remember which book they’re from.
James Martin’s Parkin
Parkin isn’t something that we eat much in Ireland, but it’s a big thing over in GB when it’s Bonfire night (5th of November). Dad especially likes when I make this, as it reminds him of his childhood in South Wales. James says to make it a few days in advance to allow the flavours and texture to mature. I defiantly agree with that, but if you can’t wait it tastes pretty good to me fresh out of the oven with a cup of tea.
225g/8oz self raising flour
110g/4oz caster sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
200ml/7fl oz milk
110g/4oz golden syrup
Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas 2. Line a 22cm/8in tin.
Sieve the flour, sugar, ginger and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl.
In a small pan gently heat the butter and syrup until melted.
Beat the egg into the milk.
Gradually pour the butter and syrup into the flour and stir. The mixture will be thick.
Pour in the egg and milk and stir until smooth and pour into the lined tin.
Bake for about an hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
It’s a pretty random selection to be honest, but they are classics that deserve to be made. Especially when we come into autumn and winter, we can just hibernate in savoury comfort food, forgetting that sweet stuff can be made in the colder months as well as in the summer.
I hope that you’ll give these a go. They honestly are a heap of yummy th’angs.