28 Dec 2012

Christmas = ? (Joy?)

Christmas has been and gone now and I'm trying to take a few moments to reflect on what I will take away from Christmas 2012. 

I don't know how your Christmas was but I really enjoyed mine. The standard set up of the day is that my family wake up about 7:30 and we open our stockings that Father Christmas has brought us before getting dressed and ready for Church. Go to Church for a shorter than normal service of celebration and then back home to either drive to my Aunt and Uncle's or make sure our house is in a decent state to host everyone. This year it was at our house and my brother had taken it upon himself to do the Lion's share of the cooking; he is excellent. So then my Aunt and Uncle and their kids arrive along with my Grandparents and we all have a celebratory drink and open a few presents. Then lunch happens, followed by "The Bomb" (a Summers/Allen tradition of layers of ice cream fashioned into a Christmas pudding shape). After this is the "fatting out" time - or time when we all lie on sofas watching the Queen's speech/chatting. The rest of the afternoon is a mixture of game playing, napping, joking around and playing with new toys. This all culminates in evening tea about 5:30-6pm which is loads of leftovers and sandwiches if we have room to stuff anymore in. Our evening normally consists of skyping my family in the States and seeing them before they have their Christmas dinner and watching Downton 
Abbey.

So why was this year good? Well my Grandad hasn't been in the best of health over the 
last few weeks and it was touch and go as to whether he or my Nan would be joining us for the

day. My Grandad isn't a Christian and my Dad had prayed with him on Sunday that he would be healed - Christmas Day he was feeling a lot better. Praise God! We are always hoping and praying that he will realise his need for God and try to give him as many opportunities to find out more as we can.

As well as this I have to confess that I hadn't been feeling particularly Christmassy in the run up to Christmas. We have limited Christmas decorations at my house in London and despite being at a number of Carol Services, the true wonder of Christmas seemed to 
elude me. Maybe it's because of the relentless retail industry that misses the point of what 
we celebrate, or maybe it was a lack of time/effort to really come to terms with this story.

Whatever it was, come Christmas Day it was gone. 

Firstly, remembering that Jesus was a gift and that I am lucky to have received him. Plus giving makes me happy. Being generous is a blessing to both receiver and giver alike. Christmas is a beautiful opportunity to exercise this gift. 

Next, everyone at Church was super joyful and happiness encourages my heart and makes me happy; I find that if I surround myself with people who are sad/depressed it can make me feel that way too, whereas if I have people who are appreciating life around me, it motivates me to think that way too. Seeing people rejoice in Jesus' birth is such a boost to 
rejoice too.

Lastly, I think Christmas sometimes is portrayed as a perfect time with families, rather than the realistic time with family. Clearly a day is never going to be perfect and if you think it is going to be your expectations are likely to be disappointed. I doubt Mary's expectations were to give birth in a stable, yet a wondrous day in history happened there - she didn't let her expectations ruin the day. I don't mean we should all have ridiculously low expectations, rather that we should be willing to see what God is doing around us. I think I understood something more of that this year. Expectation is overrated.

How was your Christmas?

24 Dec 2012

Christmas = ? (Family time)

For me spending time with my family is a big part of what Christmas is all about. Whether it's cleaning the house together, playing games, visiting a carol service or getting presents ready, family time holds something special for me. 

I think this has definitely grown since living away from home. There's something novel about being back with my family that I don't think I particularly appreciated when I was growing up. It's a chance to be able to be my crazy self with my equally insane family, who get me and who seem to love me for that.

I think I've been struck by how lucky I am to enjoy spending time with my family. Not everyone does. Working with young people I've been surprised at how many of them aren't especially looking forward to Christmas; whether it is the reality of broken, dysfunctional families, or the prospect of disappointment in the present department due to financial difficulty. Many of my kids were not excited at all. 

I guess I am able to enjoy spending time with my family because I have spent years cultivating and investing in positive relationships with them. That isn't always the case with other families. I found it interesting to read this article published in Nov by the Evangelical Alliance - it talks about lots of research done about Christmas and concludes that the majority (67%) of adults think spending time with family is the most important thing at Christmas. One of the sad facts is that Jan 8th is the day when there are the most inquiries about divorce after the stress of Christmas. 

Thinking about it Jesus was from a relatively dysfunctional family - his parents were the object of a scandal before he was even born. They didn't plan enough time to get to Bethlehem so they could get a room. I can bet there were arguments when it came to settling for a stable. After Jesus was born he and his family had to flee to a foreign country (Eygpt) so that King Herod couldn't kill Jesus, can't imagine things were all rosy for them as refugees. He had a number of siblings who no doubt had the usual fights growing up. Then later on when Jesus was 12 his parents managed to leave him in Jerusalem in the Temple and didn't realise until they had left the city, both thinking he was with the other parent. Bad communication. Later on his own family didn't agree or support his ministry showing people he was God's son. Harsh.

Jesus knew what families were like. They let us down, they don't always live up to expectations. Yet they were important enough for him to be born into one. 

You may have realised I have started "tweeting" a bit more these days - I read a tweet on there today that I wanted to share: 
"To avoid family rows this Christmas: give people a piece of your heart, not a piece of your mind." 
also this one, "Christmas present suggestions:- To your enemy, forgiveness. To children, a good example. To yourself, respect. To everyone, love.
Both tweeted by Nicky Gumbel, founder of Alpha

I want to make the most of the time I have with my family; and I hope some of the above advice helps you if family isn't the easiest thing at Christmas.

17 Dec 2012

Christmas = ? (saying goodbye)

Christmas seems to be a time when you see a lot of people - there are generally gatherings of mulled wine and mince pies and it's great to catch up with people you haven't seen for a while. 

It's also a time when people might be assessing where they are going/what they are doing as they approach the end of the year.

My friends Jon and Sarah had their leaving party on Sunday. They are leaving to move to the states (San Fran) on New Years Eve. Leaving parties are sad. Thankfully the joys of modern communication means that hopefully I'll be able to stay in touch - and who knows - good holiday destination!

Saying goodbye made me think a little bit about Jesus - not to be overly theological but I wonder what it was like for him to leave constant community with God and the Holy Spirit and come to earth. Did he actually leave or was it more he was just in a different place but the relationship was still the same?

I am always moved by these verses in Philippians (2:5-8 Message)
Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.

They talk about Jesus totally giving up and saying goodbye to his "God" status and becoming just like us. That is insane when you think about it. 

I'm glad he did though. 

14 Dec 2012

Christmas = ? (opportunities)

It should be no surprise that Christmas is a FANTASTIC opportunity to speak to people about Jesus.

Not only is Jesus the real reason for why we celebrate Christmas, but there are so many Church related activities that happen at this time...for many this is the only time they will engage with Church. Whether it's a Cristingle Service, Carol Service or Midnight Mass lots of people go for the tradition factor. 

Today in my job I got given a BEAUTY of an opportunity to speak about Jesus. 

We were in a school about to lead a lunch club about Christmas when a member of staff who used to work with me (#shoutoutjen) encouraged my team to sing a Christmas Carol to her little classroom of young people. After we had belted out the first verse of Hark the Herald I mentioned they could hear more at a number of carol services that were happening around Lewisham.

Following from that they asked me if I would perform the reading I am giving at my Carol Service tomorrow. So I jumped at the chance to practise my John 1:1-14 reading and was absolutely loving it when afterwards the young people were like - "but what does it mean?" 

Got a go at explaining a bit about Jesus and a bit about the Bible. Hoping I didn't confuse them but that some truth was communicated. 

The Message translation of the Ephesians 5:15-16 says "So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times!" 

I want to make the most of every opportunity to speak and live for Jesus.

13 Dec 2012

Christmas = ? (Busy)

I've decided to do a little series on Christmas...I was inspired by a friend of mine's blog and so am unashamedly going to do something similar...but clearly with a bit of a Nai-spin.

So Christmas is possibly the busiest time of year...well for me anyway. I feel like if I'm not working (which has stepped up because I'm planning Christmas parties for all of next week) then I'm either shopping for presents, rehearsing for my role in my Church's Carol service, wracking my brains for secret santa ideas, working out how to decorate our house without buying anything, or trying to see people who are having Christmas parties/gatherings/birthdays/leaving parties etc. 

It's hard work!

Yet should Christmas be busy?

Is it right to be looking forward to Christmas day as a day where I will finally stop and have a day off "doing" things? 

Does that detract from what it's really all about?

I find it interesting that while Jesus came to earth quietly in a stable with not much fuss, we rush and cram our days in efforts to "celebrate" this fact. 

Something to think about.

6 Dec 2012

Fundraiser

So I don't think I've mentioned before how "wacky" my team are. In the first week another member of XLP staff mentioned how perfect they were for me as they were just as mental as I was...

...well on that note, I want to let you know a bit about what we are getting up to in Feb. 

We are going on another mission trip to Ghana! (I say another, for me it will be my 3rd time out there, for these guys it's their first) Why? I hear you ask. Well XLP has partnered with an organisation called AACO (Ashanti Akim Community Organisation) and has built a school in a rural community in Ghana called Dampong. We visit every year to see the progress of the school and our pupils, to visit local primary schools and to encourage and pray for local people. Here is what I did last Feb

Anyway, in order to go on the trip my team need to raise lots of money. Going back to how crazy they are...they have decided to make their own fitness dvd!

It's 15 mins of pure hilarity and for the bargain price of £3 (or £4 with outtakes) you can watch it whenever you would like.

Just so you have some vague idea of what you would be purchasing here is a trailer they have made to advertise. 


Note: Any money you give us will go straight towards funding the trip and being able to bless people who need encouragement. Please pray for us in our preparations too. x
 

1 Dec 2012

That which cost me nothing

This evening I went to a Christian worship event, or gig, or concert or whatever you might want to call it. However, it wasn't merely me going to listen to good music (although that happened), it was also a time to join together with others to worship God. 

I went to see Rend Collective Experiment and Matt Redman and when I say with others I mean about 2000 others...it was immense.

I think in those types of contexts its really easy to just be singing along because you know the words to the songs and because it's what everyone surrounding you is doing. 

But this evening it was different. One of the members of Rend Collective used a phrase that made me stop and assess what I was doing. He said "I will not sacrifice to the Lord that which cost me nothing"; he was saying it in the context of as we stood there worshipping it shouldn't just be an "us singing to God" time, it should be an "us bringing ourselves before God" time. Desiring to be changed.

That phrase that he used is from a story in the Bible of when David had made a bad choice and how God had sent a plague as punishment - he told David to build an altar on another man's land to stop the plague. So David went to the owners and asked to buy the land. However, the owner, knowing David was the King just offered it to him for free and offered oxen to be burnt on it too. But David knew it was important to follow God's instructions completely because the fault was his. and so he said - “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.” You can read the full story here 

How does that fit with my experience today? Well thankfully because of Jesus' death on the cross, God no longer requires an actual sacrifice on an altar...Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice. But when I come and sing to him (or sacrifice worship) so often I am just singing out of habit rather than desiring to enter in to intimacy with the holy God. I don't acknowledge to him the areas where I need him to change me. I bring a sacrifice that ultimately is free to me - I go away not having paid anything. 

Worship so often is just understood as singing songs at Church - "the worship time" or "worship group", rather than being a way of life. I want my entire life to be worship to God. My thoughts, my deeds, my words...I want God to take all of it as worship. But it's very easy to just mosey along and not make decisions to sacrificially bless people, or speak about Jesus. These are things that cost. 

I don't want to get all legalistic about this but it's just something that struck me this evening. I want to be someone who is willing to sacrifice to God, including the cost. I don't want to come out of Church tomorrow and be like "that was a nice service" I want to meet with God and let him change me! Ultimately that means I need to be more open and honest with him; it also means it might hurt as he deals with things in my life and makes me more like him. 

Sacrifice/worship costs something. But just as David experienced God's grace and mercy, I know I will too. I serve and praise the same God who delights in the worship of his people. I want my worship to be acceptable to him.

27 Nov 2012

Bowling

Today I had a realisation. 

I am not good at bowling. 

I had always thought I was pretty alright - There wasn't a bowling alley in Aberystwyth so I never played my uni friends. I only really go bowling with my family, who are good...but out of the 5 I would mostly come in the top 3. 

This evening was the second of our team socials. So 6/8 of us headed down to 1st bowl in Lewisham. It's a classy joint (not). I don't think more than 3 of the 20 lanes were ever in use for the 2 hours we were there. We played 2 games for a fiver (bargain!) and I lost BOTH times. 

Booo. 

Today has been very humbling.  

25 Nov 2012

So much

I know my last post gave you an incentive to come back because you all want to find out why I went to Buckingham Palace...however, it turns out I'm not allowed to post about why I was there...I can tell you in person, but I'm not allowed to publish on social media the reason for my visit or what it entailed...so if you really want to know either facebook message me or comment below and I'll work out a way to tell you.

That had kind of been putting me off blogging for the last week because I didn't know what to say about the above event...or how to say it without saying it...if you get me.

I don't know about you but I really feel like time is getting away from me - like how is it the end of November ALREADY?! I feel like I blink and it's been a week. I also feel like I'm holding loads of things in my head. Like to-do lists. Do you ever do that? I have found I generally need to write things down otherwise I forget something important. 

This last week has been quite busy planning, youth-workering, and managing. There have been a couple of incidents at our projects this week that have meant I have needed to spend some time thinking about how to move forward, how to resolve and how to make sure we are working in the best ways possible. As well as that I was leading youth at Church today and also had the privilege of baptising 2 of the youth in a freezing cold paddling pool.

All week I have been stressing about learning some words off by heart for the baptisms and thinking that needs to be on my to-do list, but time and again I forgot to put it on and it got to last night and I was like "PANTS! I need to learn these words" Turns out it was like 2 sentences and really wasn't very hard. But I had turned it into this big deal in my head, and I think I do it quite a lot when I have lots on my plate. I seem to lose perspective and turn quite small tasks into huge things, which in turn makes me put them off and so they grow until they are huge in my head, but then they are always fine and I wonder why I wasted so much energy worrying.

Having lots on at the moment means I need to:

  • Pray more - you might think surely if you pray more that's wasting time...and yes I can see where you're coming from. But genuinely there are days when I have no idea how I will fit everything in/have enough energy to do everything. Those days I need God to be strong in my weakness. That's pretty much every day.
  • Be organised - (Rachel Maynard please come run my life!!) so I know what I have to do and when
  • Prioritise - so I am able to get the important things done
  • Be balanced - so I don't just work all the time and get frustrated about missing out on fun. Use fun as the reward :)
This time of year is always busy and I don't want to spend the next 4 weeks being stressed out because of my work load/schedule. I need to listen to my own advice...and any other advice...leave comments if you have any!



14 Nov 2012

Wonder-man

I have to share with you what happened today on my way to work. 

I was meeting my colleague Sam to catch the bus to the school we work in on Wednesdays and as we were walking along to the bus stop I saw the bus turn into the road so started to peg it as fast as I could down the road to the bus stop. 

However, the bus didn't wait for us. I was running in the road to get it to wait, but it pulled away from the bus stop and carried on driving. However it stopped at some traffic lights and so I knocked on the door asking if we could get on as we needed to get the bus in order not to be late.

The bus driver was having none of it. In fact he started shouting at me about the fact I wasn't at the bus stop etc etc. During this time the traffic lights had gone to green...

So we were about to give up...when in front of the bus there was a learner and the driving instructor was motioning for us to run to the next bus stop as he kept "stalling" the car. He must have kept stalling it through the next green light as well as we made it to the stop with time to spare!

Oh how I love that driving instructor. Seriously. So cool. 

In other news I'm going to Buckingham Palace tonight. Oh yea. More to follow.

12 Nov 2012

The Big Silence part 2

So originally I was expecting The Big Silence to be a 2 part post but having spent some time thinking/trying I now realise its going to be a bit longer.

Basically I have been trying to incorporate times of silence into my day and so far it is REALLY HARD! Seriously. The thing is I have times of silence which I don't even recognise and so am not necessarily utilising them to their full potential. But the times when I try to have times of reflection or just quiet I really struggle. 

I am so used to multi-tasking and having loads to do that to stop is almost a bit foreign to me. When I stop it feels unnatural and like I should be doing other things. I end up thinking about all the things I could be doing. 

It amazes me that Jesus was so able to just retreat because he needed to. He knew he needed to spend time with God - that he couldn't do things without him. I want to have that kind of heart. I want to know more of God's voice and so even though this is really hard and I am not having any immediate success I am going to keep going.

One amazing thing is that my boss told us all that he wants us to take a work day to retreat a couple times a year. I can't believe how lucky I am to work somewhere that gives me those kind of opportunities. This is a pic of my crazy colleagues - love them!


7 Nov 2012

Ha.

This is just a tribute blog post to say that yesterday evening I had Jo, Lydia and Sarah over for dinner and I laughed until I was almost choking. It was painful but totally joyful at the same time. I LOVED it!

Here they are pictorally


And here is our evening pictorally...




Enough said. Just remembering makes me chuckle...

5 Nov 2012

The Big Silence PART 1

By request I am going to blog about this now and again a bit later on...you'll understand why by the end of the post.

Recently I was talking about how I struggle with silence. A friend of mine (Richard) from my Church Small Group recommended that I watch a series that was filmed on the BBC a few years ago. It's called The Big Silence and its a documentary on how 5 people react/adapt to including regular periods of silence throughout their day.

The Priest who was running the project was aiming for the candidates to be able to include a time of silence in their everyday lives (even in the busyness). The documentary follows the candidates at an initial silent weekend retreat to a monastery and then onto an 8 day silent retreat and beyond. 

What I found interesting watching it was initially all of the candidates really struggled keeping the silence - all of them wanted the interaction, craved it almost. Like they all were behaving like they were coming off of drugs or something, moody, restless etc. Initially they found it hard to focus or meditate on one thing. But by the end of the 8 day retreat all of them had had some kind of profound experience with God and seemed to be ok with the silence.

I didn't mention, apart from one, all the others were non-Christians when they started the project. How crazy is it that after 8 days of no real other distractions, all of them met with God in some way?! What's more crazy is that only one actually started going to Church as a result of the experience she had. All of them struggled to include some silence in their lives afterwards - even after having this immense experience.

For me this highlights 2 things:

  • Silence is probably something I should try to do more - there are clear benefits that the series goes into including health, deeper understanding of ourselves etc
  • I am not the only one who struggles with it. Many people lead busy lifestyles and so find it difficult to adapt to have times of reflection and quiet. 

So I am in the process of trying to have a period of silence - where I'm not actively DOING anything - every day. So far it's not going well. But I want to get past the fear or anxiety that being silent and doing nothing is a pointless waste of time and actually meet with God.

So watch this space for part 2.......

3 Nov 2012

How to throw a fun party??

Tomorrow Beth and I are hosting a "House-Warming Party" (where did the term "House-Warming" come from?!)

Does anyone else ever get that "I'm hosting a party and I want it to go really well but what happens if it's a disaster" feeling? Like half really excited, but half terrified...

Well I reckon I am in that place. So far I feel pretty prepared though. I've:

  • Cleaned bathroom
  • Swept floors
  • Hoovered everywhere
  • Dusted
  • Stocked up on loo roll
  • Bought wine and crackers
I'm thinking I should potentially make a party play list...any suggestions of what it should include?

Is there anything glaringly obvious (or not obvious) that I have forgotten to do?

2 Nov 2012

Dependence

Recently I've recognised more and more the dependence I have on people. I get my worth from people. If I don't feel like I matter to people then I feel lonely and worthless. 

Now I am realising quite how big a grip this has on me because I am having a couple of days off and have tried to cut down on texting people just to see the effect it has on me. And you know what, I feel crap. I feel like no one cares about me and that I am alone.

That is what I feel.

What I KNOW is that I have a God who cares for me intimately and who loves me better than anyone else ever can or does. While I might feel like I need people (I am a huge extrovert after all), actually God says that he is sufficient. Yes it is not a natural, default position for my head to get around...I want people to show me that I'm loved...but ultimately God has already shown me how much he loves me. He's shown it by sending Jesus to die for me so I can have a relationship with God. He shows me every day how much he loves me by providing for me, by keeping me breathing.

I am so thankful that God does provide me with friends, that actually even when I feel lonely I know that I have a circle of friends who I can call out to to be there for me. But even more than that I love that God is enough. No matter how good a group of friends you have, sometimes they will let you down - God doesn't. He literally is the ultimate friend/parent/King. Supreme.

Dependence on him is something I want to learn more.

30 Oct 2012

Cycle-tastic

Recently I've become much more likely to cycle somewhere than take the bus/train. 

Various reasons:
  • Cheaper
  • Sometimes quicker
  • Good exercise
  • Makes me know areas better
CHEAPER: 
Now my head office has moved into central London it costs me £5.10 at peak times to get there/back. Whereas I could just hop on a bus (and my work pay for my bus pass...), now I have to get a train and tube. Thankfully I only HAVE to do this on Mondays for staff meeting...but even still I have tested out cycling into work and it's doable. It takes about 50 mins from my house which is roughly the same amount of time it takes to go by train (when you include walking from my house to the station). I don't think I'll be doing it all the time (defo not in rain/adverse weather conditions) but as much as is feasibly possible.

QUICKER: 
Around Lewisham sometimes it is quicker just to cycle. Means I don't have to wait for a bus. Places aren't near enough that you can walk to them all, but cycling is generally quicker than waiting for a bus and then stopping every few mins at stops. 

GOOD EXERCISE:
If you know me you know that I love sports. I always have. I used to play loads of things at uni but since coming to London it's been really tricky to find a sports team which I can flexibly join. Work/Church means I don't have loads of spare time in evenings/weekends and so I can never be free enough to train and play in games. Cycling is good exercise seeing as I am not doing any other form of it any more!

MAKES ME KNOW AREAS BETTER:
I've been living in Lewisham for over a year now and feel like I know it quite well. I know pretty much every bus route, all the stations, generally know how areas link up....BUT I don't know short cuts...to me knowing short cuts is a sign you know a place inside out :) Cycling helps to really know areas better as you don't always stick to roads. 

HOWEVER..cycling in London does not have a good press. It is a bit mental. What would your top tips be for me cycling about? 

28 Oct 2012

Revenge

No I'm not talking about revenge against someone, I'm talking about the TV series that has been running on E4. The first series finished last week and to be quite honest I am hooked! I am really sad it has stopped for a while as it means I have to wait to find out what happens next.

Now firstly who know's exactly what I'm talking about?

Everyone else I'll give you a very brief overview. 

Main protagonist is a lady called Emily Thorne/Amanda Clarke. Her REAL name is Amanda Clarke but she's switched identities with someone else because she is trying to avenge her father's death. 

When she was about 6-7 her dad was framed for a crime he didn't commit. He was framed by the woman (Victoria) he was having an affair with, her husband (Conrad) and his insurance company (Grayson Global). They are called the Grayson's. While he was in prison Conrad paid someone to kill him and make it look accidental. 

Amanda grows up and is in and out of juvenile detention because she's been in care most of her young life and when she leaves she meets a guy called Nolan who was someone her dad trusted and who gives her a box of all the journals her dad wrote while he was in prison and all the letters he wrote to her about what happened. Her dad's message is DON'T TAKE REVENGE. 

However, Amanda is adamant that she has to bring the Grayson's to justice, but instead of doing it legally the whole series is about how she, one by one, targets everyone who was involved in the trial. So she burns someone's house down, kills a security guard, orchestrates events so that various people are attacked/kidnapped. All to wreak havoc for the Graysons.

While this is going on she also starts to date the Grayson's son Daniel and whereas at one point she really thinks he is not going to be like his parents, slowly she realises he is a Grayson through and through and so he makes himself a target.

Ultimately Amanda/Emily is really evil - she can't let things go and will stop at nothing to pay people back for what they've done. However, the way the series is means that you end up being on her side the whole way through and totally wanting her to succeed. 

I have LOVED this series and can't wait for series 2 to appear so I can find out how the next events will unfold. However, is it good to like a series which clearly is not teaching good, biblical morals?


26 Oct 2012

Adam Young

Over the past couple weeks I have read a few blog posts and been listening to some music by a guy called Adam Young....otherwise known as the main dude in Owl City (a band for those of you who I can guess are thinking whaaaa?)

Anyway, I found out that Adam Young is a Christian. Now I find this very exciting/surprising because:
a) there are generally VERY few Christian artists who are in the secular charts 
b) this guy is decent - like it's not he's begging Christians to buy his music, the music is good!

I was reading this blog I started to follow not too long ago and that was after having read my friend Karis' blog a few days earlier...both were saying how awesome Adam Young was and both were speaking about praying for him in his position. Firstly I hadn't even realised who he was and even when I had I hadn't thought of praying for him. But yea he's someone a lot of people look up to. No doubt there are a lot of temptations.

Anyway - I thought I would give you some links that Adam has written himself on his blog so you can see what I mean about wanting to support and encourage someone like this.
http://www.ayoungblog.com/post/28347099150/ebullient

http://www.ayoungblog.com/post/28347353944/rainbow-in-the-cloud

Also here is a song from Owl City's latest album - it is talking about staying alive forever.



20 Oct 2012

I'm here!!

So today has been pretty jam-packed so far what with doing last min packing and then getting it into various cars and moving it across. But thanks to the help of Luke, Jo (and Tim) and Ada I am here!!

So I have been unpacking and trying to organise myself very vaguely. However I have been doing that for a couple of hours and now I am having a break and while I am on it I'll take you on a tour of the new place 

First up - the living room. Sorry about the quality of the photos, I took them with the camera on my laptop (my actual camera is packed somewhere) and it's not fantastic picture-wise. I'm standing where the door of the room is and just out of shot to the right is another sofa (which I am sitting on as I type).

This is the kitchen - and it has a view into our garden!! Which I have to confess could do with a little work but it's cool I have a garden. Also I am living with a baker-extraordinaire, she has like 15 baking books in the kitchen alone!

Bathroom - you can't see but the shower to the right is HUGE. I reckon you could get 4 people comfortably in there...not that I will be testing it as I shower but it's good to know that I have to space as I sing in the shower. 

This is my new room! As you can see...still lots of work to do but that's cool. I have a huge mirror in there which makes it seem very bright and I am enjoying finding places for everything.

My new housemate Beth is out today which is kind of cool as I can just blast the unpacking and not worry right now about the mess I'm creating. I am very aware that this house is very white and clean....eeek. 

Right now must get back on with the unpacking.

19 Oct 2012

3 days 3 dates

Before you all start with the "dates ay....*wink wink*" the title of this post is more to do with social engagements rather than romantic dates so don't get your hopes up. 3 days 3 social engagements didn't quite have the same ring.

Anyway this post is all about the first part of this week and how I managed to see 3 totally cool sets of people in that time.

First up on Monday was Lucy - what a winner. I have known Lucy since year 7 and miraculously we have managed to stay in touch despite going to different 6th forms and universities. We met up for the first time in over a year and had such a GOOD catch up. Like really ace to be able to have the depth that only comes really with knowing someone for a long time. She is a very big encouragement to me. 

Second on Tuesday were my friends Rebecca and Aziz. So I know Rebecca because she is a teacher in one of the schools I work in. We have become friends over the last 6 months and she and her husband have just moved house. They invited me over for dinner and to pass on a load of boxes in an effort to help my packing. Now this evening was great for 2 reasons - 1. It was really cool to get to know them both a bit better - I love getting to know people and these guys are LOVELY. 2. They live in a house where kareoke is actively encouraged :) I was loving it!

Thirdly on Wednesday I got to see my friends the Seedhouses. Katy, Dave and baby Joseph. Katy and I have literally grown up together (family friends) and it's been really exciting over the last 6 months to see how she has transitioned to being a mummy. I spent the afternoon with her catching up and playing with Joseph (SUCH A CUTIE). She is a fab mum and seems to know loads already! If I ever have kids I reckon she will be a good port of call for all my queries. 

Now it's Friday and I am moving house TOMORROW. ARGH. 

Lots to do. Like pack....eek!

15 Oct 2012

This is gross

So today I was at work minding my own business when...

BAM!

I read this article and it has FREAKED me out!

Don't read if you are in any way OCD

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19834975

14 Oct 2012

Keep or Chuck

Who has ever had to move house?

Who has ever had to go through the painful and mind-numbing-ly boring job of packing?

Who has ever had a conundrum of what to keep and what to chuck?

If you answered yes to those 3 questions then you have a vaguely good idea of whereabouts mentally I am at right now.

My room has been 1/4 packed. All my books, cd's and dvds are in boxes, along with some folders and files. Now that took me about 3-4 hours to do. I still have to pack all my clothes and shoes, everything that is on top of my desk, my bedding, sports gear and miscellaneous items. 

However I have a slight issue. I am somewhat of a hoarder. Like I don't hold onto random drawings kids have done for me...but I do have 2 shoe boxes full of letters people have written to me over the years...and a file of old uni essays I have written. Is that wrong?!

Is it wrong to hold onto sentimental items that I feel show me where I have come from? 

I have a TERRIBLE memory. Literally it is very bad. I often will not be able to remember a conversation had a few days ago. I cannot remember significant events in my own life! Like I genuinely couldn't remember that I had gone on a trip to the French Alps in year 9 until someone showed me a photo of me being there. 

So on the pro side for keeping items, I feel like they are a part of my history and so by looking at them, reading them, remembering the stories behind them, it pieces together things I have done in the past which I might otherwise forget.

On the con side of keeping items. They take up room. They ultimately might sit in a box or draw completely forgotten about until I decide to rummage through...which could be once a year...or not until the next time I move...

It's difficult. How do you choose whether to keep or chuck?! What happens if I throw things away and then really regret it? But then what happens if I keep things for ages just because I'm worried about potentially missing something that I won't actually miss??

HOW DO I DECIDE??

Any advice? Please!  

13 Oct 2012

Kisumu



I don't know how many of you know that I am a Trustee of a charity that runs an orphanage in Kenya??

Well I am!

It's called the Kisumu Children's Trust and has been running for about 14 years in an official capacity. 

We run an orphanage based in Tieng're which is a village on the outskirts of Kisumu (the 3rd largest city in Kenya - see map below). The orphanage houses about 48 kids and supports more children in the community through feeding projects. 


The aim of the charity is to help the children of this community and:

  • To help those in greatest need
  • To love and care for them individually
  • To raise them in a Christian environment
  • To educate them and so enable them to achieve their full potential
  • To prepare them for life in the community
  • To encourage them to be an asset to society
So you might be wondering how and why I got into this. Both valid questions...

How: So my mum does some casual admin work for a guy called Peter - he heads up this charity. One day when he needed some extra help I went along and we got chatting about how I love Africa and about some of my excursions out there. He went away and then wrote to me asking me if I would consider becoming a Trustee involving promoting the work of KCT. I had a think...

Why: I decided to say YES for 2 reasons:
  • #1. Because I think as a Christian I should help other people as far as I possibly can - serve them and bless them because I have the capacity to be able to do that. This was an opportunity to reach kids who had no parents and to look after them.
  • #2. When I was 16 I went to Malawi. It was my first jaunt to Africa and during that trip I got a real heart for the country. I have always felt that at some point God will call me back to work there in some way. This was an opportunity to get involved in something that could turn into bigger opportunities. 
So since January I have been a Trustee. What does that actually mean? 

Well we have meetings 5 times a year to discuss the running of the home, finances, community work and development. I am then on a sub-committee that's focus is on the promotion of the charity. So we look for opportunities to fund-raise or get a wider audience to know more about us. 

In that regard, if you have any brilliant fund raising ideas please pass them on. Or if you are thinking about doing a sponsored event (run, cycle, bounce etc) please think about supporting Kisumu Children's Trust. Because we are a small charity we are really personal and so can tell you exactly where your money goes and how it's used. 

If you want to keep up to date with things we do maybe think about "liking" us on facebook

I am also trying to plan a trip to Kenya in the summer of 2013 so if you are interested in potentially coming too - let me know! 

9 Oct 2012

Encourage

I know I've probably said it before (and there is most likely a post to prove it) but I love it when people send me Bible verses.

Especially when I'm just sitting on the bus on the way to work and I get a text out of the blue from someone I haven't seen in a while and they say "was just reading this and was encouraged and so wanted to share it with you"....

In case you haven't clocked, that happened to me today - my friend Becca sent me a verse which actually changed my attitude this morning.

I was on my way to work and I don't think I was in a bad mood or anything, but I don't think my focus was on going to serve God (which is ultimately where I want it to be). Bec texts me with a verse (Romans 1:16) which was all about not being ashamed about believing in Jesus and what he has done. It was such a wake up call to help focus me for the day...I think I can easily become complacent and lulled into this false sense of security that because everything is going well and that I am on top of things that I don't need to "work" as hard with my spiritual life. In fact actually I think I need to be consistent in my relationship with God and not get get lazy about what I believe. There is a verse which says to always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have, and there are times when I'm not ready...I mean I can do a fairly hodge-podge job of it...but if this is important to me I should be ready. 

I love how the Bible has power. Like it says that God's word is living and active and I believe it because I know that there are times when I read verses and it's like I breathe a bit deeper - like I am drinking in something that I can't get from anywhere else. That verse this morning had the impact of changing my attitude and then I shared it in my team meeting to help focus us for the day...hopefully the impact was passed on. 

I think there is always something nice when you are encouraged by someone. For me I love to be encouraged, but there is something deeper when you encourage me with the Bible. I mean words are words - you can tell me anything really, but God's word doesn't change, in 2 Timothy 16 it says:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

One of my favourite parts of the Bible is Psalm 119 - it is also the longest chapter of the Bible so be prepared for lots of reading if you want to give it a go. But the reason I like it is because of the writers love for God's word...I want my heart to be like this -  
"I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you" (v11)
"Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long" (v97)

Wherever I'm at there is always something in God's word that gives me strength. Thanks Becca for reminding me today.

8 Oct 2012

Cannabis

Only something short today but this article made me laugh and I wanted to share for your enjoyment.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-19868327

many thanks to Jess for sharing this with me :)

6 Oct 2012

Big News

Well done those of you who have been patient enough to wait for the news...

...I've been wanting to share for a couple days now but had to tell a few people first.

Firstly, no I am not going out with, engaged, married or pregnant to or with anyone.

BUT...

I am moving house!

To me that is big news. 

I couldn't say before because a) I had to confirm it, and b) thought I should actually tell my current land lady I was moving out. 

Now both of those things have been done and it is all sorted and in 2 weeks I am moving to the other side of Catford, to live with a girl I know from Church in our very own little house. 

I will post some pics once I've moved but it's an ace house - also has a garden with an apple (or pear...can't quite remember) tree in it. 

Feel free to bombard me with new house cards/gifts :)

5 Oct 2012

A week in brief

Every night this week I have thought to myself "I want to blog, but I'm too tired...I'll do it tomorrow". 

BUT not tonight! I just want to get things out of my head so I can have some more room for new things. Here is the week in brief:


Monday: Had my appraisal, which was really positive. Got given a few goals and challenges to work towards which have been making my brain spin non-stop. I went to see a young person we work with and their parents to speak about the person's behaviour at one of our projects and wow - reminded me that some families are really broken. Also made me realise how lucky I have been.

Tuesday: Was a bit of a rubbish day - me reacting and being misunderstood got me into trouble at work and the day after a really good appraisal I was then on the verge of having disciplinary action. Thankfully it was all sorted by the end of the day, but it was a bit of a stress in the meantime. Spent my evening catching up with Sian (friend from school/uni) at a really nice restaurant. Yes I did manage to throw a glass of water EVERYWHERE pretty much as soon as we sat down but the waitress was lovely and the evening was a lot of fun.

Wednesday: Spent the morning looking after a little guy called Theo - we went and did a tour of estate play parks in Deptford...there are a lot! Then had an afternoon in the office sorting out various bits and bobs. In the evening went to see a play in Peckham called "The Girls - Stories from the PRU*". It was immense - defo not a happy story but it was a story about what goes on in young people's lives to make them end up in PRU's (pupil referral units - where you get sent if you are kicked out of school and no other school will take you...full of naughty kids). All the actors were playing themselves 4 years earlier and it was very very powerful. Would recommend - it's moving to Brighton next I think.

Thursday: Had a lie in! Also at our Girls Group in the evening they had had an invite to Alpha at my Church. Surprisingly they wanted to go and see what it was about. Now these girls generally don't go to Church - a couple have never been, some have gone just for special occasions and others are forced to go every week. So we took 9 and they got on pretty well - we had chicken for dinner which was always going to go down well! They listened to the talk and engaged (some more than others) in a discussion. 3 of them want to go back which is really positive. I had been convinced it was going to be a nightmare and that they would be really anti. God is bigger than my expectations - thank goodness.

Friday: LONG day. Had a meeting first thing and then managed to squeeze in a quick coffee/cake with my friend Rebecca from Church/school. Came back to the office and had my teams first pastoral meeting with Sarah (another friend from Church) who is looking out for my team this year. Other work happened and then this evening I was on the bus project we run in Deptford and it was a bit mental because just getting there on the bus I saw a motorcyclist get knocked off their bike, and then while we were setting up 2 cars crashed just next to where the bus was parked. Kids were great though and had a really enjoyable session.

It's been really busy this week - got a chilled weekend though. Also got some news to share, but can't quite share it yet...watch this space.

1 Oct 2012

Reuniting

Last night I had the joy of meeting up with some of my friends from uni. 

It was joyful for 2 main reasons:
#1. They are super good friends who I don't see very much so it was great to catch up
#2. They are the type of people who know me so well I don't have to worry about what I say or how it's interpreted because they know me.

Who were they?!

First up. Lydia.
an ex-housemate of mine. 
English and creative writing graduate, tea addict, book worm and general wise woman.

In brief - absolute hoot.

Next up. Sarah.
My successor as CU VP (Christian Union Vice President). Contemporary dancer, artist, photographer, and serial apologiser.

aka - the creative one.

Lastly but not least. Chris
(note. very old photo - both our hair has changed a lot since then!) Friend of old, advice giver, historian, theological debater.

aka. the one who's getting a phd.

Chris and Sarah = married
This was only the second time I had seen them since their wedding in August, even though they just live down the road in Crayford.

I had such a winner of an evening reminiscing over events that happened while we were at uni, as well as chuckling about where we are all at now. 

I loved it. Friends are so so good. Let's do it again soon please. Lydia...move to London. Now.

26 Sep 2012

Monday's emotions

On Monday I mentioned that it had been an emotional day. I don't think I was ready at that point to articulate exactly why I was upset and I'm sure if I can do it very well yet but I'm going to attempt to explain and shed some light on the inner workings of my brain.

On Monday morning I went to the funeral of the 16 year old son of a colleague of mine. He had been stabbed in Lewisham during the summer holidays. 

Now there were many reasons for me to be sad:

  • A young person lost their life before they had had a chance to make anything of it
  • My colleague has been in a state of grief for the past couple of months. It has broken her.
  • This happened in my area - I live here. 
But I think the biggest thing that got to me was...

...as a youth worker how many young people are going to die in Lewisham on my watch.

Now clearly I know that I am not responsible for all young people in Lewisham, but since this guys death there have been at least 3 other teenagers stabbed. One literally around the corner from my Church. So far I haven't known these young people personally...but I feel like it is a matter of time before one of them is a kid I see every week.

It's scary. I don't want to go to funerals of my young people. They are all so special and totally priceless. Hearing this boy's friends stand up and say what he meant to them was heartbreaking. To see 16, 17, 18 year old's (normally who I find pretty emotionless) sobbing into their mother's arms was really emotional and I can only wonder at how my colleague and her family are doing. 

I feel like up until this point I have been relatively protected from death, but now it's a whole different story.