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Aber Bucket List #9: achieved

6 May

Firstly, {and this won’t mean anything to people who don’t watch British TV or don’t care about nature} Spring Watch is coming to Ynys-Hir.

Yeeeaaah! That’s our patch! So excited!
I’m totally going to end up stalking the presenters around Aberystwyth like a FREAK!

Anyway …the real reason for this post is our Aberystwyth Bucket List.

Strata Florida Abbey was originally founded in 1164 and was a pretty influential place for hundreds of years. Nowa days it’s just a ruin but I’ve wanted to go and visit for a while now and last week we managed to make it out there.

It’s such a beautiful spot and if you ever get the chance to visit, go! It was so quiet and there were birds everywhere. We got great views of Redstarts as there must have been about 8 individuals flitting about.

There is also a grave-yard there which I was pretty excited about visiting. Dafydd ap Gwilym is buried there BUT I was more interested in…

The leg grave. Duh duh duuuuhhhh…
{Can you tell how thrilled Josh was at me making him pose? haha}

Apparently some guy had to had his leg amputated in the 1800s and so he had it buried here with a stone, inscription and picture of his leg. Amused me greatly.

We then headed up into the mountains to walk to the Teifi Pools.
On the way we met this little guy.

I haven’t had such good views of a stoat before so this was very exciting.

It was SUCH a beautiful day and we had a lovely time walking up the valley to the pools. Definitely worth being on the bucket list.
One down…nine to go;

Josh and Rachel’s Aberystwyth Bucket List

1. Watch the sun rise from Pendinas {the hill above the town}
2. See the submerged forest in Borth
3. Visit Soar y Mynydd
4. Buy a love spoon
5. Walk from Llanfair Clydogau to Tregaron
6. Have a bonfire and BBQ on the beach
7. Have a meal at the Harbour Master
8. Go dancing with all the gang
9. Visit Strata Florida
10. See Aberystwyth from the sea

I’ll leave you with this sheep. Notice anything weird?!

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Aberystwyth Bucket List

28 Apr

Last week I realised that I’ve only got eight working weeks left before we start packing up to leave Aber. We’re not quite sure when we’ll be moving to the big city yet, but we won’t really be around in Wales much during our summer of fun, so these are really our last chances to make the most of living here.

With that in mind Josh and I have been compiling a list of things that we want to do before we leave Aber. Some are things that we haven’t done before and some are things we love and want to do again.

We’ve laid down the challenge to ourselves to achieve each one of these things before we move, and to blog about them too…

Josh and Rachel’s Aberystwyth Bucket List

1. Watch the sun rise from Pendinas {the hill above the town}
2. See the submerged forest in Borth
3. Visit Soar y Mynydd
4. Buy a love spoon
5. Walk from Llanfair Clydogau to Tregaron
6. Have a bonfire and BBQ on the beach
7. Have a meal at the Harbour Master
8. Go dancing with all the gang
9. Visit Strata Florida
10. See Aberystwyth from the sea

We’ve actually already achieved one of these things today…so stay tuned for a post about that tomorrow.

In other news – I’m on a winning roll! I won a photo competition over at Little Somethings today. Horray!

Hope you’re having a great Thursday people. Are you celebrating the Royal Wedding tomorrow?

The devil makes work for busy hands

26 Apr

I’m sure we’ve all heard the phrase “The devil makes work for idle hands”, but just recently I have become convinced that the devil uses busyness just as much as idleness to distract us from following God with all our hearts.

Although Christians don’t like to admit it, I would guess that most of us struggle spending time with God, reading our bibles and praying. We can often feel guilty that we’re not doing it enough.
Over the last few years God has been helping me develop my quiet times…

…or in other words – I’ve actually been doing them regularly.

However, I still go through times {such as the last few weeks} when things get super busy and spending time with God seems to be put on the back-burner. This time, after a couple of hectic weeks when I was also ill I asked God to teach me how to continue to follow him faithfully even when things were super busy.

Here’s what I learnt:

1. Be disciplined

Oh yeah…you knew that one was coming right? It’s completely obvious but oh so hard!

God gave me a verse from Psalm 15 to cement this in my mind…

Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary?…he who keeps his oath even when it hurts”

As one lady from church says “anyone can march for Jesus when the sun shines”, but surely the real test of our faith and commitment to God is in those times when it’s not easy. If we’re still passionately following God even when things are going wrong then that cements our relationship and makes it real.

Now, I know that everyone has ‘seasons’ in life. There’ll be times when we can dedicate real time to in-depth bible study and prayer and other times when things are done more on the run, but I think as Christians we’re very good at making excuses for not spending time with God. We need to look at our hearts and at our motives. I know in my heart that if I examined my ‘busy’ days, there are still times when I manage to snuggle down with a novel for 15 minutes – why not spend that time sharing with my best friend, saviour and God instead?

2. Know where our energy comes from

If we need to find an example of a busy person, Jesus is a good person to start with. His ministry was a constant onslaught of teaching and needy people. So how did he deal with it?  In Luke 4 and 5 we see that Jesus went to a solitary place and he prayed. He knew that his energy, strength and power came from God so he went to him to talk about his ministry.

I get frustrated with myself when I forget this. I’m having a super busy day and I just end up forgetting to ask God to help me and so I do things in my own strength which makes things ten times worse. In the busy times spending time with God is probably more important – and yet so often we neglect it.

3.  Be fruitful, not busy.

The bible 100% advocates doing work for God and keeping busy, so don’t think that I’m suggesting we all sit around idle…

HOWEVER, I was reading again the story of the Vine and the Branches in John 15 the other day and it struck me…

What is the sign of God working in someone’s life?

Fruit.

Not busyness.

If you’re using your gifts to serve you likely will be very busy, but if you’re not listening to God and just getting involved in anything and everything you might not be fulfilling your God given role to the best of your ability.

We {and by this I mean ME} need to discern what God is telling us to do and be ready to say ‘no’ to people who suggest we do other things that in the end might end up making us super busy, but not super fruitful for God. We might seem like we’re indispensible and oh-so-helpful around church but if we end up sacrificing our personal relationship with God in the long run then, as Psalm 127 puts it, we’ll be “working in vain”.

Quick Questions

1. What do you think? Do you agree/disagree? Anything to add?
2. Do busy times drive you closer or further away from God?
3. How good are you at saying “no” when it’s required?

Fill in the captions

22 Apr

I like to call this “how do children do this straight after eating a huge roast dinner?”

or maybe…”Yep – would have been sick by now”

“The girls take on the boys”

“The Anglican-in-training despairs at Rebecca’s charasmatic on-pitch display”

“Losing is hard work…”

“Photoshoots with the girls are much more fun”

“I love my family”

Posted in conjunction with “Family” over at Foto Friday

Why am I discouraged?

8 Apr

Why am I discouraged? Why am I restless?
I trust you!
And I will praise you again because you help me, and you are my God.

These are the words that have been circling round my head for the last few days. They’re from Psalm 42 – did you recognise them?

This is a Psalm of a discouraged man…”My tears have been my food day and night…even my bones are in pain”.

While you might not be in fear of your life, I’m sure most of us can relate to these words sometimes. Things just get on top of you and you just want to give it all up and escape for a couple of years days.
Both Josh and I have been a bit fed up recently. I mentioned in my last post that I’ve been ill and that we’re both super busy with work. It’s been all too easy for us to moan about things…as we drag ourselves out of bed in the morning still feeling as exhausted as the night before, or as we receive another work email or phone call on our day off. Our favourite pastime has become planning our summer holiday and saying “Imagine when we can just stay in bed as long as we want!”…or “We’ll get to walk in the mountains and know that we don’t have to go to work the next day!”

However, I listened to a sermon on Psalm 42 last week and I was struck again by the words of the Psalmist as he gives himself a little pep talk:

Why am I discouraged? Why am I restless?
I trust you!
And I will praise you again because you help me, and you are my God.

I only need to look at the photos from my camera this week to know how good God is.

I have an amazing, wonderful, lovely husband who works very hard and who loves me very much.

I have the best job. I get to work with my best-friends and have a front row seat to see what God is doing in Aberystwyth every day. 95% of the time it gets me out of bed in the morning with a spring in my step.
We had our Review and Preview this week and it was SO encouraging to see how much God is blessing our church and how much he has done in the last year. (and everyone liked my burger cakes!)
I would highly recommend that you read our report here.

We have wonderful friends who feel like an extended family. This week it has struck me again how blessed we are to have a group of people around us with whom we can share so freely. With our bathroom out of action we’ve been using other people’s showers all over town, but it hasn’t felt awkward at all because we’re so used to just popping over and walking straight into their homes anyway. We know (and they know in return) that we are cared about and that we help each other out when the needs arise.

We had a really good training day with the police for NightLight. They couldn’t have been more encouraging, helpful and positive about what the churches in our town are doing through NightLight. When we see how much God has provided and grown this project we can’t help but be excited.

These are just four things, amidst many others that lift my spirit. So just like the Psalmist, this week when I am feeling down I am reminding myself of God’s goodness and rehearsing to myself the blessings which we have received.

It’s not long before we’ll be leaving Aberystwyth and St Mike’s behind us, and so instead of being downcast we need to be making the most of the opportunities and experiences still open to us here in our last few months.

Quick Questions

1. What makes you feel discouraged?
2. What encourages you when you’re feeling downcast?

Reviewing and Previewing

4 Apr

Hello strangers! I’ve been off the map for the last couple of weeks.

Oh, you hadn’t even realised?

Anyway, I picked up a horrid throat infection/virus which really knocked me out for about a week and a half. I haven’t been properly ill like that for ages…just feeling dead tired all the time. Yes – I know that is my body telling me to slow down and rest and, no I didn’t stop and rest so it’s kinda my own fault that it took me so long to get better, but things have been soooo busy! Why can’t the germs realise that I don’t have time to be ill?!

This isn’t really a post of any meaning. I just felt like I needed to write something before any more time went by. Three things before I go…

1. This is my bathroom.

We have no shower for the foreseeable future and my house smells like a sewer. Oh yeah, just loving being here right now!

2. Our car is DYING! It’s been having a little party with the other cars in the garage for 5 days now and draining our holiday fund while it’s at it. Grrr.

3. BUT on a positive note…check out these babies that I made tonight!

I’d like to say that I came up with the idea myself, but I got the idea from Bakerella. Tomorrow is our church Review and Preview, where we get to celebrate the things that God has been, and is doing in St Mike’s. We’re running a NightLight stall and we’re meant to bring food that represents our ministry. I wasn’t sure what kind of food represents picking people out of gutters… fast food was about as close as I could get.

If you’re in Aber make sure you make your way to St Mike’s at seven. You can celebrate God’s goodness and eat burger shaped cake at the same time. Perfect.

Hearing from God about anxiety

12 Mar

I wonder whether you ever feel anxious? Have you felt fearful as you have watched the footage of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan? Do you ever worry about your job, or your relationships or what you will do with your life?

You may remember that I wrote a post about fear back in January. Although it’s something that I’m dealing with I feel like anxiety might be a temptation that I’m battling against for the rest of my life. However, God really gave me some encouragement on this subject last week and I want to record it for myself to remember as much as to encourage you too.

I’ll start from the beginning…

In my mentoring sessions we’re going through the book ‘The me I want to be’ by John Ortberg. One of the exercises from our last session was to take note at several times in the day how you were feeling emotionally and spiritually. It came to my attention that I often felt anxious or nervous.
I couldn’t even put my finger on why. It was if my head knew that there was nothing to be concerned about but my body felt like I was anxious [tense muscles, nervous feeling in the stomach etc.]

Anyway, last week I woke up with a start because I’d just dreamt that I turned round in my office chair and our resident homeless man was in the office looking at me. It was a very short dream and he didn’t do anything but I knew he was there with a bad intent. I proceeded to lie in bed half-asleep thinking about all the things that could happen to me when I’m in church on my own.

Suddenly, as if a bucket of water had been thrown over me I snapped awake and heard the Lord say ‘why do you think you feel anxious when this is what you fill your mind with.’

The next day I was at work and decided to listen to a sermon on anxiety from Philippians 4. I didn’t know what the verse was but several things jumped out at me immediately.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

I know both of these verses but I never actually realised that they were written together. It was God again reminding me of the point he had made to me the night before. When I feel anxious I need to be giving everything to God and trusting that he will sort out the situation for his good.
But more than that… I need to be constantly filling my mind with what is pure, lovely, praiseworthy, excellent and admirable, not dwelling on the things that scare and worry me. I think in theory I was trusting God, but I was still keeping a little bit of the stress on myself so I could prepare myself for worst-case scenarios. However, I can never truly have the peace of God if that’s what I’m filling my mind with.

I’m still processing all this but I am so glad for this prompting, correcting and encouragement from God and I’m hoping I can continue to work on this temptation to be anxious along with him.

Quick questions

1. Are you still reading?! Phew, this has been a long post
2. What do you tend to feel anxious about?
3. Has God ever told you something so clearly you just can’t miss it?!

Dreaming of the city?!

11 Mar

Now, I know that normally at this time of week you’re probably waiting for me to post some nice photos of open countryside from our day off but I’m afraid this week you’ll have to be disappointed.

In a break from tradition, this week we visited the CITY!

Horrific, I know.

Actually it wasn’t that horrific. We went to visit some of good friends down in Cardiff and it was a really lovely time catching up with them.

I can’t really remember how much I’ve mentioned our move in the summer. I think I probably got over enthusiastic about the fact I’M GOING TO BE A VICARS WIFE and forgot to tell you about any of the details.

Well, here is one big fat annoying detail:
We’re going to have to live in the city for three years.

How will I surrrrrrviiivvvvvvve?!?!

Josh will be attending a college in Cardiff in South Wales. On our visit yesterday our friends were able to show us round the area in which we’ll be living.

Histrionics aside, it actually seems like a nice city to life in. We’ll be in the ‘posh’ part and it actually had a pretty nice village feel.

 

(source)

If you can ignore the main roads that is.

Basically it’s all just a means to an end and I know I have to just suck it up and get on with it. Three years isn’t a long time in the grand scheme of things (not sure I really believe that!) and then hopefully we’ll be able to move somewhere more rural. I’m just not sure whether it will send me slightly insane. I’ve only ever lived in towns where you can walk and be in open countryside within 15 minutes maximum. I’ve lived by the sea for 12 years and I HATE DRIVING.

(source)
Okay – before I start hyperventilating lets look at some of the positives:

1) It’s nearer my family and I’ll be able to hang out with them much more often
2) We’ll be able to go bowling, the theatre, go to a cinema with more than one screen and do lots more ‘cultural’ stuff.
3) We’ll hopefully be living in a house or a flat with more than one bedroom which means we can have visitors! (very exciting!)
4) There will be public transport that doesn’t take at least 3 hours to even get out of Wales.
5) ummmm
6) Can anyone help me out here?

I’ve been reading through Numbers over the last month. One thing that struck me was the Israelites’ grumbling in the desert. Even though God provided for them nothing was good enough and they grumbled continually and as a result God was not happy with them.
I need to remind myself that we’re the same. The whole reason we’re moving to the city is because God has provided for us and he has enabled us to go to this college and then hopefully we’ll be able to do rural ministry for the rest of our lives. I need to make sure I’m not grumbling about God’s provision for us.

That aside…I won’t be changing the name of the blog anytime soon.