Calm down.

“Calm down.” The two words someone with a short fuse cannot bear to hear.

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Calm down.” The two words someone with a short fuse cannot bear to hear.

I’m a usually-stressed type of person. That doesn’t sound very appealing (sorry friends), but I guess it’s true. I get stressed out easily, I worry a lot, and I don’t tend to take advice from people who want to offer a way out of that.

Just take a deep breath, write a list, and you’ll get through it!

The response is normally a swift glare, before the words “I DON’T EVEN HAVE TIME TO DO THAT!!“. Then a couple of days later, the list of ‘impossible’ things will be completed, and the “I told you so’s” are dancing around my brain.

Maybe deep down I enjoy putting myself under pressure, or maybe I’m just a seriously forgetful person who lacks the ability to gain knowledge from past experiences – either way it’s just not a good trait.

Recently I’ve been trying to work out ways to avoid these moments; weekly planners are being filled out every Sunday night, daily to-do lists are gathered in my InkDori and stuck on my bedroom walls, and even my work friends are aware of my serious need for lists – they wait patiently, let me stress and don’t ask any questions until the [life saving] list has been written (thank you!).

I’d love to say that list-making has cured me, and I’m now a wonderful, happy, patient girl who’s 100% brilliant at dealing with stressful situations. But all of these motions don’t stop me from momentary stresses, which result in the most unattractive-laura-moments of hissy fits when I’m helpfully told to “calm down, breathe, relax!”

Just when I’d basically given up on the dream of becoming a restful woman, and leaving my temper tantrums behind me – God spoke.

I returned from one of theeee most relaxing and restorative weeks, celebrating my 21st birthday from a house with a view of the beach from one end, and a view of the Mourne mountains from the other. I went for walks in the forest during the day, sat by an open fire at night, and even ended up on a day trip to Dublin. My heart felt free from stress, and my mind was de-cluttered – right until I walked back through my front door and remembered about the assignment due the very next day.

After a few hours stressing over that, forgetting about the calm and peaceful Laura who had existed just hours before, I went upstairs to realise my mum had kindly bought me a new duvet cover, covered in words and stripes. My bedroom is one of my favourite places, so freshly washed sheets and new duvet scenes create heart-eyes in me. Right there in front of me, on my brand-spanking new bed cover…

CALM

Adj, calmer, calmest.

  1. Nearly or completely motionless’ undisturbed: the calm surface of the lake.
  2. An absence or cessation of motion; stillness.
  3. Serenity; tranquillity; peace.

(Yes, this entire piece of text is written on a duvet – numbers and definitions included!)

WOW. I felt rebuked.

The next day I got up forgetting it all over again, and went back to assignment stressing. I had picked up some packages on my way to the coffee shop where I was finishing my assignment, but I set them aside until I’d finished it. Walking out of the coffee shop, when I should be jumping for joy having finalised and sent the stressful assignment, I was sent into a downward spiral of panic because it was snowing – and I hate driving in snow. No calm Laura here.

I arrived home and had minus 10 minutes to get ready to head out again, so I grunted at my family and stressed some more. The night ended and I came home to open my packages. A gift from a great friend stared me right in the face – rebuked again.

God’s little book of Calm.

IMG_20151121_161722She knows me very well, but I know she didn’t choose that gift – God did. My mum knows how much I adore little inspirational quotes to fill my room with, but she didn’t choose a duvet with this message on it – God did!

How wonderful to think that a God who created this entire universe, and has so many people, places, and things to watch over is actually working specifically to send me little messages, and give me some help. He cares SO much. He knows we need a couple of pushes before we actually make a change, but he doesn’t get impatient, he just laughs and keeps trying until it hits us right in the face.

All of those practical motions are all well and good, but without some meaning and texture behind it all we can’t get anywhere.

This life was not meant to be lived alone. We are not supposed to be completely independent. We feel lost some days for a reason.

God created us with a need and desire for Him – call on it.

The Summer has been wonderful, but bring me Autumn

I miss falling leaves,

a red, brown and yellow palette.

I miss being naive,

the expectation that ‘Summer’ could solve everything.

I miss cuddling up,

clinging onto blankets like the sun would never rise.

I miss walking my pup,

laughing as she chases the leaves.

I miss the change of temperature,

a hot mug of chocolate to warm the icy cold toes.

I miss being a questioner,

asking what comes next; what does the future hold?


Summer is full of adventure,

but it’s also full of languor.

I miss dreaming big,

not just letting the time float by.

I miss holding on tight,

not just expecting things to stay.

I miss waiting for night,

cosiness, digestives and hot chocolate.

I miss feeling the season,

each and every little part of it.

The Summer has been wonderful, but bring me Autumn.

God doesn’t leave.

11117173_897359363654735_1657412151_nPhilippians 1v6

A reminder that no matter how tough it might be, no matter how much you are struggling – God will not leave. He brings you into certain circumstances, and He knows how it will end. He doesn’t put you places hoping you’ll find your way out – no, He puts you there with complete confidence that you will find your way, that you can get through it. Remember, you are never alone. God is by your side. He didn’t bring you this far to abandon you – He never will.

 

Trust in that. Rely on that. Relax in that. 

Finding Perfection amongst the Mess

11085080_467521256745267_1430114388_nThese times are one of the few times my OCD ways get completely kicked to the side – and I love it! I get out all of my boxes of craft stuff, and just see where my hands guide me. The room is a mess when I’m done, but the beauty, truth and understanding that is in the book in front of me makes it all so worth it!

She Inspires Me.

“Here’s to strong woman. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.”

Created by Gemma Brown
Created by Gemma Brown

So, I know this all might be a little out of context by now. I had hoped to post this earlier, but it took me a little bit of time to jump on the bandwagon (I didn’t really understand the meaning of IWD until last weekend). The inspiration for this post came from the strong, courageous and passionate women that surrounded me last weekend. Whether that was in person, via social media or DVD, I was so moved by so many people speaking up about the importance of celebrating International Women’s Day.

Following a day in Belfast seeing a parade of passionate women – and men(!) – march through the streets to celebrate this day, attending No More Traffik’s Half the Sky event, and seeing so many people post on social media about International Women’s Day – I was inspired. International Women’s Day became so exciting to me, and I woke up on Sunday morning feeling a buzz for the day ahead (even though I was working that day – you can find a funny little aside about this at the bottom of my post).

Hopefully you’re all still feeling passionate about IWD even though it happened a whole week ago – I am! There are so many great women out there, so to narrow things down a little bit I’ve chosen to focus on the women who I know a little bit more personally, who surround me daily – who aren’t world famous – but certainly deserve recognition for being strong, wonderful, powerful, motivated and inspirational! I originally managed to narrow it down to thirteen lovely ladies, and that was at a push! So I’ve cut it down again, and just included a couple in the blog post – but hopefully I’ll get to talk about the others if people are interested!

Melissa Scott

My sister, although I don’t see her very often, is someone I have always looked up to. As a younger sister, I obviously admired her from a young age, and that hasn’t stopped now that I’m 20! She inspires me every day. She hasn’t had it easy, the things she’s gone through in her short piece of life include things that overwhelm me to even think about – but she is so strong and so determined to get through it all with a smile on her face. Her love for Africa, and children are things that inspire me so much to just keep on dreaming. She doesn’t let anyone stop her from pursuing these interests, even though so many people have tried to push her in other directions! She’s always been the member of the family who has zero common sense, as she grew up this turned into her just being a dreamer, which is something you really can’t fault anyone for. Yes, she knows what she can and can’t do – she is grounded, but she is a dreamer and she won’t stop dreaming for anyone! I love that about her. Another thing that I admire about my sister is that she may want something, but if she feels God has other plans then she’ll follow those instead. My sister is someone I look up to, we are complete opposites, but she inspires me every day and I have always wanted to be more like her!

Heather Scott

My mum is another lady who inspires me daily. She has such a loving and selfless heart. She works so hard every day to look after the family, and runs around looking after my grandparents when she’s not working. She rarely gets time for herself, but I haven’t ever heard her complain about that. My mum respects what is important to Melissa and I, and encourages us to pursue our own dreams, and not those that any one else has planned out for us. We are very lucky to have two wonderful parents who see our own dreams as the most important, even when they’re sometimes unrealistic dreams, and not always the most straightforward! Mum hasn’t had a super easy life, but she is strong. She beat cancer alone. She went through it all completely alone, because she didn’t want to worry anyone – and she won! She is a strong, loving and inspiring woman!

Jacky Cogman

This lady is such an inspiring woman. She left a comfortable, happy life in England, and moved all the way to Valdepeñas to become a missionary with her husband. She gave it all up to answer God’s calling for her. She does everything for others, doesn’t give up even when things are difficult. When we stayed with Jacky in Spain she showed us the love, patience and kindness of a mother, and she looks after all the Spaniards in the same way! She inspires me.

Gemma Brown

This lovely lady is so encouraging, inspiring and gifted. She has a huge passion for others, and she puts every single one of her gifts into that. She acknowledges the gifts she has and uses them confidently and selflessly – which is something everyone should learn to do. She inspires me daily, as I work to get through education so that I can work in a job similar to hers (she’s currently doing my dream job!). Gemma dreams BIG, and doesn’t let anyone stop her. You can read more about her by checking out her own blog.

Melissa Campbell

I can feel her cringing already as she reads this – the Ballymena gal doesn’t like getting soppy! However, you deserve to hear this. Mel has a huge heart for those around her, she wants the best for everyone and works hard to pursue a career that allows her to do this – and she knows it won’t be easy, but she loves it so much. Mel guides me. She teaches me so much and builds me up. The constant smile on her face cheers everyone up, and she is just a wonderful little lady who deserves to be recognised for the time she puts into so many different projects – she’ll deny this completely but that’s just because she’s from Mena.

Rebecca ‘Sew-cosy’

I have never actually met Rebecca, but social media has helped me get to know this amazing woman. Rebecca centres her life around God – fully and completely. I follow her life and journey with God through Instagram, and I’m constantly amazed by her solid, strong and personal relationship with Him. She is a mummy who loves her child so dearly, and still finds so much time to inspire and update her social media friends, and to study the word of God. Her relationship with God is so constant, and her passion to bring this to others through her little creation that is Project Lent, inspires me! Find out more about her on her blog.

There are so many other people, men included, who inspire me daily, and help me to be who I am. If people have found this little insight interesting then hopefully I’ll get to write about the others too! Thank you SO much for reading!


P.S

I said I had a funny story to share from International Women’s Day:

I work in Easons, which is a newsagents for those of you who don’t live in Ireland. On IWD I was working here, when a little man asked a male co-worker of mine to photocopy something for him, but he didn’t know how, or was too busy, so asked me to do it. I walked towards the photocopier to help this man, and he greeted me with a shocked face shouting, “Do you know how to work this OK? Surely a tiny thing like you isn’t able to do something like this! Are you sure? No here it’s alright I’ll do it myself.” A man who had very little experience with technology felt that he should be taking the reigns when he realised a ‘tiny girl’ who worked in the store was going to do it for him, rather than a man. I was able to laugh it off, but it was something that really opened my eyes to the importance of IWD – this small thing didn’t make me angry, but I can understand that it would annoy others. This man wasn’t doing anything wrong, he was brought up in a time when women couldn’t do these things and he has remained stuck in that mind-set. We need to change that. Next year I will be more confident in the lead up to International Women’s Day – it is a day that deserves to be celebrated.

BELFAST FASHIONWEEK 2014: AUTUMNAL COLOURS WARM CROWD ON NIGHT ONE

LAST night saw many faces of Northern Irish prominence escape the rain, and cosy up in a snug setting for the autumnal styled Belfast Fashion Week catwalk show.

The West Coast Cooler event greeted guests into the new BFW HQ, which is located in the heart of the city, on Bruce Street, with iced glasses of the refreshing drink, before they moved on to some delightful treats made by Zen.

Excel Clothing – Ireland’s largest retailer – kicked off the first fashion show of BFW 2014 Autumn/Winter show, introducing fresh fashion from international brands including Michael Kors, Armani, Boss Orange, and Calvin Klein, while British brands Paul Smith, Ted Baker, Barbour and Hunter also styled the night.

Fashion bloggers Helen Anderson (@Melonladybaby) and Kavita Donkersley (@Shewearsfashion) flew to Belfast to make an appearance at the event, and got chatting to PR guru, owner of CMPR and BFW director and planner – Cathy Martin.

CMPR models Rachel Kennedy and Lauryn Greer were just two of twenty-eight models that stepped on the catwalk yesterday to show off the luxurious fall fashion.

Puffas, leathers and faux furs were just a few of the various styles to emerge on the catwalk, with warm colours and strong patterns opening the eyes of the audience.

Rachel Kennedy
Rachel Kennedy
Lauryn Greer
Lauryn Greer

With three more days of West Coast Cooler FASHIONWEEK to come, and tickets sold out, the city is buzzing with excitement. There are many new styles to emerge, including those of the local boutiques, in the Designer Boutiques and Local Designers catwalk show tonight! We’ll see collections from Lizzie Agnew, Katie Wilson, Julia Sokele and Grainne Maher and others, as well as boutique collections from local independent boutiques such as Diamond Dolls, Blush, Jourdan and Harrison.

 

For further information on events and highlights during West Coast Cooler Fashionweek log onto http://www.belfastfashion week.com or http://www.facebook.com/belfastfw.

SPARK UP THE COMMUNITY

Purple T-shirts are laid out, wristbands are waiting, young people are BUZZING.

It’s just twelve hours until the beginning of SPARK NEWTOWNABBEY

This week one hundspark2014red young people from churches across Newtownabbey will come together to raise up their local community.

Different teams of people will be working in the Rathcoole, Ballyduff and Ballynure area, to help out the community by packing a week full of activities.

The schedule for the week includes

  • Kids clubs
  • Community clean-ups
  • Sports training events
  • Tea parties
  • Free gardening
  • Car washes
  • Youth clubs and much more!

 

We are excited, and ready to look UPWARD and OUTWARD for this challenging, but worthwhile week ahead.

We’re very thankful to be supported by Newtownabbey Borough Council, the North Eastern Education and Library Board, PSNI and CRC this week.spark2014spark2014

All of this amazing support makes it possible to bring all of the hopes and dreams for the week fall into place.

With the help of Newtownabbey Borough Council, we are finishing off the week with two community fun days which will be held in both Rathcoole, and Ballyduff.

Beginning at 1:30pm on Saturday 16th, it will be a great day for families to come together and get to know us volunteers. With inflatables, and BBQs, face painting, ice cream vans and candy floss machines it would be silly not to pop by!

 

| We would really appreciate prayer throughout the week, so if you’re willing to get involved in this way then you can sign up to our Prayer Text Service, which will send daily updates of what we would like you to be praying for! To sign up just text “SPARK Prayer Phone” to 07751 977 926. |