I Hope We All Make It.

I hope we all thrive in a way where we remember our humanity, our connectedness; that we are all 99.9% the same DNA; that we are family, a body each with unique parts to play. That despite what someone may have done, where they live, how poor they are, what race, religion, gender or sexual orientation they are; that we are all worth loving, we all deserve hope, we all deserve life.

We all deserve to make it.

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“I am not interested in competing with anyone.  I hope we all make it.”

I saw this quote a while ago and it resonated with me.  Every day I want to believe it.  Every day I struggle to put it into practice.

Life feels like one giant competition sometimes. Even in the beginning there is almost a competition for a life to begin.  In the womb we compete against many elements to survive.  We compete in school for grades or in sports- against others or our own expectations.  We compete for jobs against more or less experienced and talented people. We compete in relationships; for someone’s heart, to be loved.  Women and some religions or races compete for equality – equal pay or equal treatment.

In the very end, or at some point along the way, we compete to stay alive.  To exist.  To be.  To make it.

Yet somehow despite the strength of our own fight; the fight for acceptance, for love, to win, to accomplish, or to be the best leads to us dragging others down in the process.  Instead of relying on one another and working together, so often our instincts or our selfish nature kicks in and we are right back to Eden; it is all about ourselves, our own survival and the competition takes over.

But I hope we all make it.

We live in a society where if someone is doing well- they will be torn down.  My sisters and I often speak about Taylor Swift for example.  Of course she like anyone is flawed.  She’s dated a bit; some think she isn’t the best role model.  Some adore her.  Yet so many tear her apart.  She is shamed and slated and called out for every mistake that she makes.  People can’t seem to embrace or support others (especially women) when they do well.  Taylor for example gives away $10000 to schools and fans, she is honest and kind. She doesn’t just sing about sex (which many with very young fans may do).  Yet all people seem to talk about is her dating life or her outfits.  Even though she has had so much criticism and grown up from 15 in the public eye, she remains poised. She has lots of brilliant female friends including some from school and she is fiercely loyal. Yet, as she says “Haters gonna hate…”

We live in a world full of cyber bullying as well as face to face bullying.  And subtle, yet often public shaming.  Fat shaming, slut shaming, skinny shaming; on and on.  Women tearing each other apart.  For what? Because we don’t think they represent us as females well?  Because we are jealous?  Because they provide unrealistic expectations? Because they are all that we are not, or they are who fear we will become?


Comparison is the thief of joy.

Taylor Swift said (in this beautiful and inspiring speech she made when I saw her in Hyde Park in June) something that I know to be true but so often forget.  When we see someone else’s life, or life on social media, we are seeing a “highlight reel”.  We see our own “behind the scenes” every day.  We see our own mess, our own frustrations and failings.  We see our ‘no makeup’ selfies and our bloopers.  So how can we possibly compare that to someone else’s highlights?  We so often never see their behind the scenes.  If we did- the comparisons may not be that harsh.

Is this what makes us compete?  Because we are so often comparing our messy lives to someone else’s best bits instead of just trying to be our best?

“You are not the opinion of someone who doesn’t know you.  You are your own definition of beautiful and worthwhile.”  – Taylor Swift

Nobody gets more Grace from God than me.  Nobody deserves more love.  Nobody is entitled to more eternity than me.  Jesus died for me as much as he did anyone else.  So why all the comparisons?

I mean I get it!  It’s hard not to.  I do it all day every day.  She has the perfect (fill in the blank_) husband, body, job, face, health, family…..
But, really my only comparison should be to my best self shouldn’t it?  The best version of the person God has called me to be.  And perhaps, if anyone, to the man who walked with sinners, prostitutes, tax collectors and thieves.  The man who loved, poured out miracles, and forgave them when they spat on him, took his clothes and hung him on a tree.

Even then; even in the midst of all of his pain and rejection, Jesus hoped we would all make it.

He died so we would all make it.

I hope and pray we all make it.


The world can be so terrifying in the way people will destroy others for so many reasons, and because of so many theologies or mind-sets.  You only have to watch the news for 5 minutes to despair of human kind.  War.  Rape.  Torture.  Murder.  Slavery.  Mankind pitted against mankind.

ISIS ravaging humanity in Iraq and Syria.  A ‘theology of rape’ being promoted with girls as young as 12 being raped; bookmarked with ‘prayer’ and religious practice.

‘Black Lives Matter’ being screamed at the top of heartbroken lungs.  Whilst others profess ‘All Lives Matter’ in some ways undermining the outcry of injustice at all the ways black men and women have been robbed of their lives, their humanity.

We shouldn’t have to say ‘All Lives Matter’.  We shouldn’t have to cry ‘Black Lives Matter’.  We shouldn’t have to remind each other of our inherent value and worth.  We should all hope that we all make it.

The Nazi regime and the atrocities carried out is perhaps one of the most memorable and heart-breaking examples of some lives being deemed less important than others.  Jew.  Black.  Old.  Disabled.  Not worthy even of life.

Yet today it is still the case daily- woman, black, gay, other religion, other nationality, other caste, less intelligent, criminal; seen as less human, less worthy, less important, less worth making it.

Surely there is enough pain in the world with natural disaster and disease without us adding to it with our pain, anger, jealousy and hatred?  I know so much of this come from despair, desperation, or hopelessness.  Perhaps you call it sin?

But what if we stopped competing? Stopped seeing others as less than ourselves even in our small spheres of influence?


Somehow despite all the horror and despite all the loss I still hope.  I am not interested in comparisons or competitions.  I really do hope we all make it.

Those who have treated me badly- I hope you make it.

Those that let me down, didn’t protect me, or caused me harm- I hope you make it.

Those that I damaged, lied to, hurt or broke along my way- I hope you make it.

Those whom I’ve compared myself to, been jealous of- I hope you make it.

Those who have done unspeakable wrong- I hope you make it.

Those who scream silence, in pain or fear- I hope you make it.

Those who are totally alone- I hope you make it.

Those for whom there seems no way out- I hope you make it.

More than that- I hope you don’t just make it.  I hope you don’t just survive.  I hope and pray we all thrive.

I hope we all thrive in a way that doesn’t mean stepping on another to get where we want to be.  I hope we all thrive in a way that builds others up with us as we go along.  I hope we all thrive in a way that we don’t have to put someone down, in order to go up.  I hope we all thrive in a way that we will stop and cry out when we see others’ not making it.

I hope we all thrive by stepping out and helping, rescuing, carrying, petitioning and advocating for all those around us who are not making it.

I hope we all thrive in a way where we remember our humanity, our connectedness; that we are all 99.9% the same DNA; that we are family, a body each with unique parts to play. That despite what someone may have done, where they live, how poor they are, what race, religion, gender or sexual orientation they are; that we are all worth loving, we all deserve hope, we all deserve life.

We all deserve to make it. 

I am not interested in competing.  I hope we all make it.  I must keep reminding myself of this and live it out in my life today even in the smallest ways.

This Is My House, This Is My Home Part 2

This Is My House, This Is My Home

Part 2- What is ‘Home’ in the context of Church

“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”  Maya Angelou

This quest or ache for home comes from the fact that in the very beginning, in Genesis, mankind was ‘Home’ in the Garden of Eden.  We were in perfect union with God and walked freely with Him, able to be completely ourselves.

But, as we all know, Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which began our separation from God, from our family, and home.  What I never really understood until recently, is how Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the garden wasn’t an act of anger from a raging father, but more an act of protection and mercy.

Eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which separated them from God.  But there was also a Tree of Life.  If after eating of the tree of good & evil Adam and Eve had then been allowed to eat from Tree of Life, they would have stayed in the garden and been separated from God forever.  Eternal separation.  God however, by expelling them, was protecting them from eating from the second tree, and in doing so was saying; ‘don’t worry, I am coming after you’.  God then killed the animal and sewed their clothes together; this was an act of love, from a God of love.

The separation we face from God is often known as ‘The Great Divorce’.  It is a picture of loved ones torn apart.  When mankind fell, God didn’t just react to Satan and try to fix it.  He had already slain the lamb before the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8).  He already had a rescue plan in place before they even needed it.  The whole narrative of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is the story of God pursuing mankind, and trying to bring them back home, after their tragic choice to move away from dependence on Him.  It is a long, love story.

 

 

“God is at home, it’s we who have gone out for a walk.”  Meister Eckhart

 

I love the story of the Prodigal Son.  The fact that he had messed up so much, was broken, poor, had severed all relationships, yet his father, when he sees him coming, RUNS towards him, embraces him, and throws him a huge feast.  This is how God feels when we come back to Him, and the Bible says there is a huge party in Heaven when people remember where there home is, who their family is, and come back into relationship with Jesus.

I believe that throughout my life, God has been actively pursuing me, and trying to bring me back home- into relationship with Him, and into His family the Church.  I love the fact that my church Hillsong Church (Leatherhead) put such an emphasis on the idea of coming home.  As you enter into church there are big signs saying ‘Welcome Home’ because they want people to feel like they are coming back to be with family, and for people who don’t yet know God; to find their way back to their spiritual home.

 

 

Home is supposed to be a safe haven.  A place of security, well-being, family.  A place to be cared for.  Where strangers are always welcome.  I love that my family’s home is like this.  And I love that Church is like this.  It is a place where you should see hope.  A place where you can fulfil your God given potential, be fed, encouraged, and grown.  A place where you can be completely yourself, no matter how broken you may look or feel.  Home and Church should be a place where there is unconditional love and forgiveness.  A tangible place that people are drawn to because of the love of Jesus that is there.  I know this is true of my church, my family’s home and of any good home.  Home is a place you should be able to un-mask, and be exactly who God made you to be.

The things that we have in our homes, the ornaments, furniture, and décor often say a lot about us.  The things that we put in our homes, often show what we think is most important.  For example some people have giant homes with many cars to show their wealth.  Our surroundings influence our thoughts and shape our identity.  This is true of the people and things we surround ourselves with.  We should try and place ourselves in a Church family where you can be fully yourself, but also be around things and people who show who you might ideally be.  So that you can grow more into the likeness of Jesus, surround yourself with Jesus like leaders.  One thing I LOVE most about my church is not the worship, teaching (all of which are excellent) but the sense of family, and mostly the heart for others.  They live beyond themselves.  My church is dedicated to giving back, and support many amazing charities, which I love.  This is the kind of person I want to be; someone who is blessed to be a blessing.

http://www.hillsong.co.uk/makepovertyhistory

God has put eternity in our hearts.  Our home should be a place that reminds people of that, and shows them, who they are, who they belong to, and what their inheritance is!  It should un-ashamedly show people who Jesus is, and lead them to him.  Church and Home should have an open door to those who don’t yet know Him.  It is not an elite club, but a place where all are welcome.  Where all can see Him and be drawn to Him.

You only have to watch the news for 5 minutes to see that we live in a broken, fatherless, lost generation.  Events such as the London riots show that there are so many living day to day with no hope and no sense of future.  I know I used to be the same!  But Jesus is the Hope for Humanity.  He offers transformation for the broken, inheritance for his children, healing for the hurting, family for the lonely, undeserved and scandalous grace and favour.  Jesus wants to embrace the lost.  And He wants his Church to do the same.  To remind people of who they are, where they have come from, who their Maker is, and the value that is upon them.  He wants wandering hearts to come home and to be free.

 

 

I pray that I never stop putting Jesus at the centre of what I call ‘Home’.  Whether it is my church life, my work, my family, my friendships, my future relationships- my Home should be in Him, and I should be drawing people into His Home and His family, until the day we all return to our eternal home.

 

“My home is in Heaven. I’m just traveling through this world.”  Billy Graham

 

Ephesians 2:19-22 The Message (MSG)

 19-22That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.

 

This Is My House, This Is My Home Part 1

This Is My House, This Is My Home

Part 1- What is ‘Home’?

“Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do… but how much love we put in that action. ”  Mother Theresa

At the moment, my housemates & I are in the process of looking for a new house to rent. We have found a new house nearby, and are just in the referencing stage.   It’s an exciting time in some ways as it offers new opportunities, and a fresh start.  But it can also be really stressful because it requires you to re-define what “home” is, and to create a new home in an unknown place.

This move, along with a wonderful blog from my friend Sabine  (http://sabineamy.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/home-is-where-the-heart-is/), and the ‘Vision’ put forward by my Church (Hillsong) recently, got me thinking again about what home is?

In the last 6 years I have moved house 9 times!!  That’s more than once a year.  I have lived with family, with friends, in little rooms, in big rooms, in Derbyshire, in Cheshire, in London, and in Surrey.  I don’t mind moving house, but it does up-root you in a way little else does.  I have moved because I needed to and because I wanted to.  I have moved for convenience, for clarity, for necessity and for opportunity.

Recently I watched an episode of one of my favourite programmes One Tree Hill.  In it the characters discuss their home- Tree Hill, and what makes it so wonderful.  They reminisce on all that has happened there, how they grew up, fell in love, got jobs, and had families all within the context of this magical place they call home.  For them, no matter where else they go; Tree Hill will always be their home.

When you ‘Google’ home you get a lot of images of houses, but are they really homes?  Or does home conjure up more of an image of family, sanctuary, or something very different for you?

Now, for me, to be honest, ‘Home’ is a very interesting subject…

When I was 7 my half brother committed suicide and even at that age it changed me forever. My parents divorced and ‘home’ changed completely.

At one stage I was in emergency foster care then went to stay with a friend from school and had a new ‘home’ for a week.

Age 13 in my 2nd year of high school ‘home’ became a women’s refuge, for over a year, which seemed lifetimes away from where I grew up.

‘Home’ was next a council estate which has the least ‘homely’ place I ever knew.  It was a place, and situations that filled me with darkness and dread.  My only joy- a little cherry blossom tree outside.

One day in the summer when I was 15, home changed in a way I could never have anticipated.  I was put into foster care.  I was given a few moments to pack up my thing then taken to a new family, a new house, a new home. A strange family, a strange house, a strange home.   I didn’t know how long I would be there for or how life would change.

I say all this not to be dramatic, but to paint a picture.  For some people the concept of home is reasonable straight forward.  A house, a family, security, comfort.  For others it is a very different thing.  And for many, it is often changing as life progresses.

Over time, my idea of home changed irrevocably.  As I experienced the love of my new family, including boundaries, discipline, grace, and forgiveness, my understanding changed.  As I began to learn about Jesus, how he is my saviour, friend, father, comforter, protector, and family, my understanding of family and home again was dramatically re-defined.  I don’t think I could begin to even describe the process, or how my mind was blown by the understanding of God’s love and grace, and how that was put into action by my foster family.  And I definitely cannot explain, through all the changes and complexities, how a group of people, from such different backgrounds, understandings, and lives, were drawn together to become a family!

But that is what is so amazing about Jesus.  And that is what is so amazing about ‘Church’.  That a group of lonely, broken, incomplete people can become a whole, strong, loving, inseparable family.

And that is what my family have become to me.  That is what ‘home’ is now to me.  It has become a place of safety, comfort, love, security, hope, care, acceptance, forgiveness, freedom, and belonging.  And all because my foster parents, and sisters decided to lay down their lives for others, to give of themselves, to overflow with grace, and to be every single day, in every practical way, ‘Home’ and family to others.

And trust me, it was a challenge on all parts, but a challenge worth fighting for.

Home is a total sanctuary for me because of the love that pours out from my family  ❤

I will say, as a side note, that if you are a Christian, and you have never considered fostering or adopting, please do.  I know that it is not for everyone, and it is a challenge.  But if you have the love of Jesus in your hearts, and you want a practical, real, every day way of showing that love; you could literally transform a child’s life, and show them Jesus, by bringing them into your home.  There are thousands of children in the UK who have no idea of what ‘Home’ is, and what it means to be in a family.  You could show them.  I believe that it is an incredible evangelism, and God has put it on my heart, that as I was saved by my foster family in so many ways, how incredible would it be for me to do the same for other children who don’t yet know him…

Psalm 68:5-6 New Living Translation (NLT)

Father to the fatherless, defender of widows—
    this is God, whose dwelling is holy.
God places the lonely in families;
    he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.
But he makes the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.