Happy new year!

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One of the things we seemed to spend a LOT of time on during my social work degree was the need for reflection. It is a concept which underpins social work practice; looking at what we did, analysing how it went, how it made us feel, what we would do differently next time. Since working in a hospital, I have realised that it is quite a unique feature of social work …not that noone else does it, but few other professions are given as much space to make this a part of their everyday work.

It is with that in mind that I come to the end of 2013 with lots of thoughts about what I/we did, how it went, how it made me feel and what I think I will do differently next year. It’s a great time for that, and I love the feeling of having a chance for a new start, to try and make changes.

2013 has been an interesting one. We have done so many fun things and spent lots of time with amazing people. We have travelled lots, both in and out of the UK, and have achieved some special things in both our personal and professional lives. Our church has seen massive changes this year as we (finally) moved into a new church building, and this has caused us to rethink church and community and our own contribution to those things. Our family have also had some exciting times, a new nephew was born in July, my ‘little’ brother got engaged to the most wonderful lady and they have started making exciting wedding plans, and my parents were appointed back to the UK and will be home in April which we are over the moon about. We also got to spent Christmas with some of our family from the states and are both head over heels besotted with our gorgeous niece and nephew!

However, 2013 has also been, in some ways, one of the hardest. I am shattered! We have done and achieved so much, but we have been shockingly bad at making time and space for ourselves. We have driven thousands of miles to see people we love, but have spent precious few days in our own house. We have learned about community, but have not spent enough time in our own. We have achieved lots, but at great cost to ourselves. And I, for one, am done. Our health, emotional wellbeing, marriage and other relationships have suffered because we have tried to do so much. So, friends, don’t be offended if you see less of Matt and Becca in 2014. We’ll be in Southampton, reading, cooking, crafting, building and rebuilding relationships and doing church. We will always have a spare room open to friends and family, but we wont be rushing to use anyone else’s spare room. 2014 is going to be a year of being more gentle with ourselves, more intentional about our lives, and more committed to our community. We are going to spend time on our marriage and do better at making each other a priority again. We have big decisions to make this year about where and how we are going to spend our lives, so we need to make that a focus, and enjoy it a little more.

I heard ‘Thought for the day’ on my way into work this morning, and the Archbishop of Canterbury talked about hope and the fact that a New Year is a time for hope. He pointed out that hope is different to optimism, pointing out that ‘real hope springs from something deep within us, I believe something put there by God. Hope rises above our trials and our failures, looking to a future that may be tough, even terrible, but in which the light of Christ always shines. Real hope compels us to act.’

My prayer for this new year is that you will know hope, you will know something deep within you that brings both a sense of comfort and a clear purpose. That 2014 will be a time when all of us learn, grow and make an impact

Happy new year!!

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