25 Jul 2013

Have a break

So, you may remember me not too long ago blogging about the busyness of my life over the summer. I have worked for XLP over the last 3 weekends, been to a wedding, attended a borough fun day and run a Church youth event all in those same weekends. It's been pretty hectic.

But now I am taking a step back. I am actually stopping! Well. For a day I am stopping. Tomorrow I am taking the day to reflect, realign and be refreshed. On Saturday I go to a wedding and on Sunday I go to New Wine, but tomorrow I have no agenda other than to spend some time looking back over this past XLP year since September to see what I can take away and what I need to leave behind.

I'm also quite aware that I need to realign with God and let him refresh my spirit. I've found in the busyness I have managed to get very distracted and lose focus on what it is that God is asking of me. It's times like this when work is more of a chore than a blessing. You see my job is actually pretty immense. I get to pray and share with people every week, I actively get to share about my faith on a daily basis and I am encouraged to take regular retreat days to listen to God...that is seriously decent. The times when I get weary of doing it are when I step out of what God is asking of me. So I'm hoping I'll be able to gain some perspective tomorrow.

I was speaking to my friend Alex and he was just mentioning the importance of processing things and making sure you give yourself proper time to do that. Wise guy! I am very aware a day is not necessarily enough to process a whole years worth of activity/behaviour. But I am going on from there to New Wine and hope to spend some solid time seeking God and reflecting too. It's always good for me to set deadlines because otherwise I just don't get around to it - so my plan is to reflect for a week and then be ready to look ahead.

I'm learning a lot about the importance of getting perspective to move forward. I don't want to be a leader who never learns from the past. Goodness knows I make enough mistakes that I would hope I am learning from them! More and more I see that God is putting me in positions of leadership and influence and I want to take the responsibility seriously.

What helps you to reflect?
Do you find it easy to stop?

23 Jul 2013

A time for everything

So this last weekend was a total mix of emotions. 

On the Saturday I had my students graduation, and on the Sunday I had a wedding. Both occasions for celebration but also times to be sad too.

So on Saturday I said goodbye to 6 students I have had the joy of looking after since September. It has been a really fun year; getting to know them all individually and seeing them develop as youth workers has been ace! So it was sad to say goodbye.
(Dave, Nick, Me, Matt, Hannah, JP and Sam - photo courtesy of Caro Swan)

I find it really tough to split emotions - clearly I was really happy to see them all graduate the year and it was a proud moment seeing various ones speak at the service...but in my head my thoughts were revolving around, "what happens if my team next year are rubbish?!" I have loved these guys because of their attitude towards loving the young people and working hard for them...I am a bit worried that I won't get guys like them again. Also these guys have seen my "uniqueness" (Hannah said I was the weirdest person she had ever met!!) and yet they have grown used to it and love me any way. Right now going through that whole process again with a new team seems quite laborious, but hopefully after a holiday I'll be more enthusiastic about it. 

On Sunday I had the joy of joining with my friends Miriam and Darren at their wedding. It was up in Liverpool (Formby to be precise) and was brilliant fun because off a whole host of things. The service wasn't your traditional wedding ceremony - we learnt sign language, sang sunday school songs, played Mr and Mrs, made paper chains and sent "positive vibes"...and the reception was pretty much in the same vein - bouncy castle, fish and chip snacks, bride singing etc...and I loved ALL OF IT! 
(Everyone - photo courtesy of Mustard Yellow Photography)

It was most definitely a celebratory day. A number of my friends from Aberystwyth were in attendance which made it even more joyful and I was really lucky to get to spend some quality time with Naomi and Malcolm (otherwise known as Mustard Yellow Photography) 2 wonderful people who drove me back to Birmingham, gave me a bed and fed me pancakes and ginger beer in the morning. What legends. 

Anyway, this weekend has had real highs and more difficult bits. It's probably a good thing that I have a bit more time to reflect and rest and generally get a grip on where I'm going in life. 

I've been reminded of the verses in Ecclesiastes 3:
There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
        a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

Now the verses about killing, hating and war I don't really know what to do with - but I am just taking from it that there are times when it's ok to feel a bit sad about letting go. 

17 Jul 2013

Something different

So the last few weeks have been somewhat mental. Fun, but really busy. 

I have:

  • Had 2 work experience students shadow our team for a week - that was good fun, but actually loads of work to make sure they knew where they were going/what to do etc. 
  • Worked at the XLP Arts Showcase which was AMAZING!! I had 3 finalists from Lewisham in the show and they all did me proud!! I was like a proud mamma cheering from the sidelines - also got a chance to pray with each of them which was very special. 
  • Had all of our last clubs/activities for the year in Lewisham - was a little bit sad, watching my team saying goodbye to the kids and their reactions. 
  • Given a little presentation on what XLP does to a group of ladies from Hillsong Church with the aim of gathering some new volunteers.
  • Went to Lewisham People's Day - which was such a great experience. It's a festival in Lewisham where different people perform and there's a fair and little stalls and LOADS of people. It happened this last Saturday so it was super hot and was just a brilliant day for mooching about having a look around. Also some of the XLP acts performed and they were SO GOOD! Seriously I forget so easily how good they are and then am blown away.
  • Ran my new Church Youth group for the 2nd time and had a really positive time talking with them about reading the Bible.
This week I am doing something different. 

Every year XLP runs a week called Urban Mission Week which is aimed at people who want to see what XLP does but who maybe aren't in a position to volunteer all the time because they live outside of London, or work crazy times or whatever. 

So we have 30ish volunteers who have come down for the week and are helping us to run projects on both the Aylesbury Estate in Southwark and on the Isle of Dogs in Tower Hamlets. 

For me this is an opportunity to work with different people, in a different place, with different kids, in a different role...so it's all a bit new. 

Which I quite like - I like new challenges, keeps me engaged and all that. 

Have you tried something different recently?

9 Jul 2013


I have been LOVING the hot weather. Like actually it completely makes me so much more joyful. There are so many more fun things you can do in the sun than when it's rainy or cold. 

I mean picnics, late night pub gardens, running through water fountains, eating outside, eating ice cream, playing catch, sunbathing, BBQ's, drying washing really fast, walking slowly and enjoying flowers/sights...all happen in the sun.

I love being able to leave my house without a coat/jumper and just knowing I'll be fine because it's a beautiful day. I enjoy wearing shorts (although it does mean more effort in the shaving/epilating dept.) and just love being able to dress casually (or more casually than normal). 

However, today I was exposed to some of the downsides of hot weather. This week is the last week my team and I are taking part in our normal timetable and so we decided to enjoy a lunch in the park in the sun. There was a primary school holding a sports day in the middle of the main grass area but there was loads of space around them and some trees for shade so we sat down half in the shade, half in the sun. Loads of members of the public had done similar but as I gazed around there were some pretty shocking examples of over exposure...especially considering there were young children around!

So there were a number of women just wearing bikini's (like string bikini's, the ones that are pretty skimpy) and there was one gentleman in particular who was wearing nothing apart from a TINY pair of shorts which left little to the imagination. 

Now I think that is really weird! Why would you go get semi naked in a really public place?! Ok now I realise that people do that at the beach and at a pool...but it is expected there! It would be strange for people to go to a beach and keep clothes on. But parks are different. Parks are for picnicking in and for strolling through...not exposing practically your entire body!

Is it just a London thing? Am I being too prudish about this? Blog readers...please tell me. 

5 Jul 2013


I love dancing. I really do. 

I love the feeling of just letting the music take control and having a packed dance floor of people going for it. 

Lots of people don't necessarily know that because I'm not your conventional "girl who went to ballet as a toddler type" dancer...really I love break dancing. 

Now. Stop. Before you think I can actually break dance think again. While I am incredibly agile and quick on my feet with a sense of balance a monkey would be jealous of, I am in fact not skilled in the break dancing arena. 

Well I say that, I have never really had a go properly. When I was a teenager I went to some street dance lessons that I loved! And in the clubs at university I was known for throwing a few shapes on the dance floor. But when it comes down to head spinning and flips and all the cool stuff, I have never really tried...or known where to start trying. 

However, this video has inspired me! 

I want to be the little kid!! I mean I am probably more likely to turn out like the adult, but still...he had some pretty cool moves too. 

Thoughts on dancing anyone?

3 Jul 2013

Anyone thirsty?

I have been pretty astounded by the amount of responses my last blog post received. I mean I know it's a pretty controversial issue, but within 1 day it had become my most read blog post ever with over 300 views. 

I do plan to blog further about homosexuality and the Church/God - but want to talk to a lot of wiser people, soak in what God is trying to teach me...so watch this space for more on that. 

Over the weekend I was away on a Christian Retreat with my Church's students and 20's group. There were about 50 of us who went down to this beautiful place called Ashburnham in Kent. Over the weekend we were reflecting and learning about these verses:

"On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them" John 7:37-38

I feel like I have taken in so much from these couple of verses. Over the weekend there were a number of talks that various people gave and each gave a real insight into the context of the verse and the response it requires. 

I learnt:

  • When Jesus was saying this it was the last day of the "Feast of Tabernacles" - an 8 day celebration that was in honour of the Jewish ancestors who wandered in the desert. People brought their first harvests of crops/wine and spent the week celebrating. 
  • For Jesus to stand up and say "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink" was basically saying, despite all the extravagance set before them, he was better.  
  • For us, it isn't a challenge to be thirsty - there are times in my life when I feel really worn down and have little to give to anyone. The challenge is coming to God to be refilled. 
  • As a Christian I am a Temple in which God dwells - in Ezekial 47 it talks of a river that comes from the Temple that starts as a trickle, growing to a stream, a small river and eventually a mighty river than impacts the locality. I want to be someone who is a mighty river.
  • Jesus doesn't have what we need, he IS what we need. 
  • When Jesus promises something it WILL happen - when I come to him for refreshing, he will fill me so that I impact those around me. 
To anyone who reads this blog, whatever your beliefs, I can personally and genuinely say that knowing God is the most refreshing thing I have tasted. I don't know why you have chosen to read what I say, but I don't just say it because I am desperate for things to blog about - I truly believe that my relationship with God is the most fulfilling and satisfying thing going for me. 

I want that for you too. 

Think about it.