New Year, same me.

HAPPY NEW YEAR. 

Well, hasn’t it been a while? I can honestly say that I sat down at my laptop many a time attempting to write another blog post. But, as you can see since my last post was in April, it never quite happened! But that’s okay. To sum up the last eight months in one sentence, I sat my exams, I had an American exchange student live with me and insult my attempt at her accent,  I hosted a concert at school, I went to two summer schools, I travelled for the first time alone EVER (only on a direct train, let’s not get too excited).. I made some amazing new friends, I passed my exams, I passed my driving test, (you know what they say, all the best drivers pass fourth time) I applied to University and I started my final year of school. Of course, a lot more happened  and I know I’ll be kicking myself later for not mentioning something pretty major but that’s all for now!

I decided to call this post, ‘new year, same me’, because, as I reflected this time last year also, I think that the end of a new year and a start of new one isn’t a time to think about everything you regret but instead everything that was amazing… It’s a time to look forward not back. That being said, I did have a sentimental moment on the 1st of January when I opened up a box of memories and laughed at everything that has changed and all of the highlights that I jammed into a Yankee Candle jar on little pieces of paper. But, I actually have spent a lot more time thinking about the year ahead and all of things that it is going to bring.

In September/October, a lot of my dear friends packed up and moved out and so did my brother… moving onto new chapters in their lives.. some have gone on gap years, some are living by the beach, one went all the way to Africa and others have gone to University (which is just as cool as Africa, and definitely more expensive). It was strange at first, not just because the Youth Group was much quieter and I didn’t see them everyday, and because me and my brother no longer argued about who could shower first in the morning, but also because I found myself so frustrated. My friends were wondering  off to new places, new people and new opportunities and I was left behind. After a couple of weeks, the mountain of school work I was being given distracted me… and it’s only really tonight, after the first term of Year 13 is over, that I have come back  to this thought. I wanted to get away, not because I don’t love my hometown or my family or friends, but because I felt like there was nothing I could do in Plymouth other than sit back, get stressed and do my A levels.

As I was reflecting on this again tonight, I was reminded of a lovely little quote which simply says, ‘bloom where you are planted’…. and it made me think, that’s what I need to do. If I was ready to move out and go on and do new things, then God would have made that happen by now… But he hasn’t, and thinking about it, I know I’m not. I’ve only just managed to start reversing down my own driveway, so I don’t know if i’m ready to pack up, leave home, and drive on unfamiliar roads yet!! I know that over the next few months God is going to start preparing me to go to new places, and hold his hand and walk into a new chapter of life.. but for now I know that I’m still here for a reason, and as I wrote in my Jesus journal earlier, ‘I praise God for this one final year at home, where I can keep loving, laughing and crying with my wonderful friends and family, old and new’. 

So yes, it is a new year but it is the same me. A lot will change in 2014, I’ll be moving out, I won’t be around my family and friends everyday which I know will be the hardest challenge yet, I’m going to leave Notre Dame which (honestly) is a place so precious to my heart where I have been shown what being a Godly woman looks like and where I have been encouraged every single day, no matter what kind of mood I’m in, and of course, I’m going  to be leaving Mutley, the church I once recreated out of gingerbread, and the place where I found my faith, the place with leaders who have watched me grow and who have prayerfully lifted me up whenever I have fallen. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared.  Anyone reading this who knows me will know that I am good at freaking out… but the greatest way to deal with endings is 1) to praise God for everything these places and people have brought me and 2) to take a deep breath and be excited about what comes next. 

It sounds pretty simple, but I remember my first  term at Notre Dame. I didn’t want to be at the school, I didn’t like not being at Primary school when I was used to the system and the people.. I was scared. (There I admitted it, big old Mads was scared of school!!!) One day, my dad drove me to school and I didn’t want to get out of the car and my form tutor had to walk me into school with tears rolling down my face. I only remembered that the other day and it made me laugh. Not because I looked like an idiot, because I was only really being human, but because its a real testament to how your heart for a place can change if you give it a chance. 2014 will bring for me the new places, new people and new opportunities that I thought I was ready for last year.. but for now, I’d like to finish on some advice that one of dear friends Hollie gave me… in a letter of encouragement she wrote to me once, she simply ended by reminding me that, ‘we are all strategically placed by God to do the things that he wants us to do at that time’. 

There is no point in dwelling in the past, unless it is to look back and laugh and rejoice at all the great things or to reflect on how the not so great things have made you  a better person. Instead, be excited for the future… but, at the same time, (okay I’m bringing out a cheesy one)… live for the moment. I know God will call me to do great things because he calls everyone to, but right not, he’s calling  me here, to my hometown and the people in it,  and that’s okay with  me because its where he wants me to be. So, as my first blog post of 2014 comes to an end, let remind you again, bloom where  you are planted… because God has plans for you where you are now that are just as big and as exciting as if you were anywhere else.