“When life gives you dirt- grow flowers”.

Those times, events or even years that were so filthy you couldn’t see beyond it. Perhaps you felt like you were being buried alive; unable to breathe as soil filled your lungs. I certainly know that feeling. Moments where you don’t think you can take another breath because the utter filth of the world, the circumstance, the person, the sin or the pain is crushing your chest cavity.

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Sometimes Often, life gives us dirt; a little pot of stinky mud, or a huge clump of soil thrown in your face.  A missed opportunity.  A crushing blow.  A devastating loss.  A life changing event.  A huge disappointment.  Pain, sickness, fear, debt, loneliness, loss, or death.

I feel like (without trying to engage in self-pity) that parts of my life have been full to the brim of dirt.  I’m certain that every single person reading this is thinking of their ‘dirt season’.

Those times, events or even years that were so filthy you couldn’t see beyond it.  Perhaps you felt like you were being buried alive; unable to breathe as soil filled your lungs.  I certainly know that feeling.  Moments where you don’t think you can take another breath because the utter filth of the world, the circumstance, the person, the sin or the pain is crushing your chest cavity.

Maybe for you it’s more just a thin layer of grime?  Something that has always, as long as you can remember just blurred your view and you have never been able to wash clean?

I can think of a lot of those moments.  Some from when I was very young, some more recent.  Times when I couldn’t seem to grasp the beauty of the world or see any good, grace, light or truth because all I could see was the dirt.  Times when people hurt me deeply, or life just let me down.  Times when death came calling; fear was overwhelming.  Times when loneliness was crippling.  More recently, times when sickness and weakness would not subside.

BUT, I adore the title quote.  I’m not sure who first said it, but I often cling to it, and hope you can too.  It’s a difficult and costly concept, but one that surely will bring joy?  When life gives you dirt- grow some flowers.

It’s a task that in some cases is far easier than others.  It’s one that in the past few months I’ve really been trying to put into practice.  Sickness has stripped me of some opportunities, and caused me to feel lacking.  So what do I do?  Do I drown in it?  Roll around in the dirt and know I can’t become clean again?  Or do I take that dirt and try and grow something beautiful in it?  I try to find seedlings to put in the dirt; more time to spend with God, more chances to take delight in much smaller joys, more time to relax and look to the future.  Of course some days I just wallow in it.  I can’t see how the dirt can possibly ever be anything other than darkness.  But occasionally, I really invest in trying to turn things around; I plant my seeds and in time I see buds, then flowers beginning to bloom.

Over the years I have seen flowers grown from what I could only before see as pure filth.  Life events that I once thought would be the end of me, particularly losses and a huge upheaval age 15, have blossomed into beautiful things.  My mess has become my message.  My tests have become my testimony.  I now can describe things that once brought me immediately to tears, with a real conviction that good has actually eventually come from it.

But what about the times you are deep in it.  What about ‘those things’ that you think could never be redeemed? …

… Grace

… Grace upon Grace


“To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory.” Isaiah 61:3

We can’t do this.  We can’t cause the seedlings in the dirt to flower.  We can’t pluck the seeds from thin air.  But with God’s grace things can be restored, renewed and re born.

I’m currently reading Ann Voskamp’s ‘One Thousand Gifts’.  It is full of life affirming truth.  She asks the questions I ask myself daily “What in a world of certain loss, is grace?”

“God is always good and I am always loved. All is grace only because all can transfigure.”

-Everything is grace because everything has the potential to be transformed.  Isn’t that amazing?

You may still not believe that any flowers can come from your dirt.  That the shame, loss, grief, or agony is just too much.  That if people really knew how bad it was they could never see flowers in it.  I know many times I’ve felt that way.  I don’t believe for one second that God gives us these things as a test of our faith, or that the darkness comes from Him.  But I do believe in beauty from ashes, in flowers from dirt.  I do believe in grace.  That He can take anything and turn it to a thing that can bring hope and redemption.

When you’re still stuck in the mud and you see no way out, I recommend 2 things from my reading and own experience.  When you’ve planted your seeds but there isn’t a flower in sight:

Gratitude and Worship

Being grateful for even the rubbish things or the tiny insignificant things, or the things that pass us by can open us up to so much joy.  I’ve blogged about this before, how simply the attitude of gratitude can change your heart.  If nothing else we can be grateful that we have been allowed to live another day!

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Worshipping God for who He is, and for all He has done in the past, and for nothing else than the assurance of your salvation, that one day there will be no more tears; in the midst of your darkest times, is an extremely powerful thing.

As Ann Voskamp says “…isn’t my internal circuitry wired to seek out something worthy of worship?  Every moment that I live, I live bowed to something.  And if I don’t see God, I’ll bow down before something else.”

Don’t bow to the dirt.

Any beauty, good, love, truth, and joy in the world is all a mere reflection of God.  When we cannot see that through the dirt, still it strengthens our hearts to worship and praise Him for it until we do.  Until the miracle comes.

“Even when it makes no sense to sing; louder then I’ll sing Your praise” (Even when it Hurts Hillsong United, Empires)

You Are…

 

How many times has the world said these things to you?  How many time have you said them to yourself? How many times have you had things like this spoken over you?  How many times have you believed them to be true?  How many times have you listened to these lies of the enemy?  Like me, too many no doubt…

For us, as people, especially as women, it is so easy to believe lies about ourselves.  When all the world shouts is “You are not good enough as you are” from so many directions, from our TV screens, from the internet, from people around us, even friends and on occasion the Church.

The above images are from my favourite tv programme ‘One Tree Hill’.  I find it insane that even in a fictional scenario, a woman as beautiful as ‘Brooke’ played by Sophia Bush could feel these things about herself.  But she does, because the lies of the enemy are not restricted to you, or me, or the ‘least attractive’ or least confident, but effect almost everyone.

Anywhere, at any point in life it is so easy to look around, compare yourself to others and conclude that you are not as pretty, capable, smart, confident, talented or good as them.  But that is an utter lie!!  You are perfect just as you are!  And do you know how I know?  Because the Creator of the Universe, the God of heaven and earth, the King of Kings, and Savior of the world tells me so…

The Bible is just bursting full of the TRUTH God intends you to know and believe.  The Scriptures speak constantly against the lies of the world, and uphold the truths of how the Father sees you.

Regardless of what you have done, how you feel, how many times and in whatever ways you have messed up, how broken you feel, or how far from God you may be … the truth remains you are an adored beloved child of God.  

 

You are Beautiful (Ps 45:11) – ‘The King is enthralled by your beauty…’

You are Unique (Ps 139:13) – 

 

You are Unique.  Be true to who you are…

 

You are loved! (Jer 31:3) – “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”

You are special (Eph 2:10) – For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

You are unique.  Created by God for His glory- to do his good works, things that only you could do.  He wants you to live entirely for Him, doing all that you were called to do, and being all that you were called to be. To show people that you were here, for His glory.

 

 

You were created for a purpose (Jer 29:11)- “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

 

You are cared for (Eph 3:17-19) – ‘17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.’ 

 

You are lovely (Dan 12:3) – ‘Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. ‘

 

You are important (1 Pet 2:9) – ‘But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.’

You are royalty.  Daughter of the King of Kings, a member of the Royal priesthood.  You are special.

 

You are Forgiven! (Ps 103:12) – ‘As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.’

Is 1:18 ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow…’

 

 

 

You are a New Creation (2 Cor 5:17) – ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!’

 

 

You are family (Eph 2:19) – ‘So then, you Gentiles are not foreigners or strangers any longer; you are now citizens together with God’s people and members of the family of God.’

Whenever you are doubting how precious you are, it’s so important to remember not only what God says about you, but also that you are surrounded by a family, a sisterhood of women who no doubt often feel the same way that you do, and you can remind you who you are in His eyes.

 

Ultimately the key thing to remember is that you belong to Jesus.  You are His and he adores you.  Whatever you are going through or feeling, no matter what you circumstance NOTHING can take that identity from you, and NOTHING can remove you from His love.

 

Did you know… 

That you were handmade

To be just who you are

Every hair you have is counted, every tear drop, every scar

Every feature is gently fashioned and finished off by hand

Unique though not unequaled, essential to His plan

No one else can do what you do No one else can play your part

Made in God’s own Image

And loved with all His heart.

xxx

The Love of Living (And Listening to Boyce Avenue)

I have to say… I LOVE life!!   Now don’t get me wrong, I have bad days, and some very bad days.  But some days I can’t believe how amazing my life is.  Some days I can’t believe how blessed I am.  Not only just to be living and breathing on this incredible planet.  Not just to be living in such a privileged country, and town.  But also because of my incredible family, friends, Church, the job I get the privilege of doing, and all the little things day by day that I cherish.

I have in recent months and years, to be honest, been a bit poorly.  Not the kind of illness that I know some people struggle with.  And most days I thank God that I am well enough.  But I do have days when I find life that little bit harder.   And it’s during those times that I appreciate all the things I have all the more.  I appreciate so much that I can receive free medical care.  I love the fact I have a warm, bright house full of all sorts of comforts.  I love that I have healthy food, incredible housemates, wonderful friends and colleagues, and an amazing family who are only a phone call or train ride away.

During times when I feel low or poorly, and on good days too, one thing that is a real source of comfort to me is music.

Growing up, I hardly ever heard music.  We didn’t have a cd or tape player.  Occasionally I would hear things at friends houses or school.  But unlike most kids today, I didn’t have an ipod (or even a walkman).

Later, in my early teens, I would lock myself in my room, and when the world around me was one reality; and saying one thing, music could speak a whole different reality to me…straight into my soul.   Until my late teens I never really explored music in all it’s glory.  But when I did… a love affair began.

Now, I don’t in any way profess to be a music connoisseur; and my taste to some people may be awful.  But I find music so emotive, so uplifting, and such a blessing.  Worship music in particular can see me transcend in a way little else can.  Again, in my late teens I was so blessed to be able to listen to music such as the Hillsong or Soul Survivor CD’s.  My mum would get me worship CD’s and I soaked them up.  Now I can’t believe that I get to be part of Hillsong Church, and experience amazing times of worship every week.

My love for live music began in Church.  It then spread to the little gigs and times of worship at summer camps and Spring Harvest.  In August 2006 I got to go and see Switchfoot (my 1st real musical love) at the Shepherd’s bush Empire.  It was my first ever gig, and a new kind of love began!  I couldn’t believe the power and presence of music in that kind of setting.  It was electric.  In March 2007 I went with my friends for my birthday to see Einadui- a classical piano player (mum would be proud).  Again it was a completely new experience for me.  When he played along with a string quartet and we sat in the balcony, I honestly thought I could be in heaven.

My gigging days took a slight sabbatical until 2011.  I then went to the Xfactor tour (don’t judge) and to see Taylor Swift with my mum and sisters; both at the M.E.N Arena.  Both so much fun!!!

Now living in Surrey, being so close to London, and having some wonderful gig loving friends, I have been able to go to so many more.  In the past year or so, I have seen Benjamin Francis Leftwich (a great acoustic singer), Ben Howard (a brillaint musician!), and I went to see One Direction (again no judgement) who were supported by my favourite band- Boyce Avenue.

That gig was really special for me.  Partly because I had missed a Boyce Avenue gig in the November because I was really poorly, that I had been really looking forward to.  So the fact that they were supporting One Direction, whose music makes me super happy, was really exciting.  It was also really exciting because after the gig, me and Nisha bumped into Boyce Avenue and got to say hello!  I honestly felt like I was being treated to make up for the fact I had missed the previous gig, I was really upset to miss.

On the 21st June 2012, I got to go and see the wonderful Boyce Avenue again.  This time at their headline gig at the Hammersmith Apollo to 5000 people!!  In the days building up I could not have been more excited.  And if you know me at all, are my facebook friend, or follow me on twitter, you probably never want to hear about them again.  But I really love their music, and both the cover songs that they do (some of which have had millions of hits on youtube) and their original music especially – I just LOVE!!  They are a really genuine humble band, who make brilliant music, all themselves and all for the love if music.

http://www.youtube.com/user/boyceavenue?feature=results_main

 

We finished work early, and me and my lovely friend Nisha went on the tube to the Apollo.  I was so super excited I could have burst.  And even whilst we queued I was so excited.    ” Beautiful people of LONDON it’s almost go time! Let’s make the Hammersmith Apollo erupt tnite”- @boyceavenue   Here is a picture of me with my ticket…

 

Whilst we queued we got our VIP lanyards (super cool I know!)  Once inside we went up to the bar to wait again for a bit.  Whilst we were waiting we could hear Tyler Hilton (one of the support acts) doing his sound check which was really cool!!   It was so fun hanging out with Nisha and I was so excited.  As part of our package we got to meet the band before the gig, which was so great.  We were ushered into this little side room, which was a bit surreal.  The band signed our lanyards and we chatted a bit about their gigs.  I even got a soggy flower given to me  😉  We took a picture with them, and got given a signed poster.  Again, it may sound silly, but I felt really blessed.  It’s not every day you get do do things like that…

 

 

We were able to go straight into the venue.  We grabbed a drink then went straight to the front row!!!  It was amazing to be that close.  And before long the place was packed out.

The first support act Alex Goot was great.  Really adorable..  The second support act I was really excited about too!  Tyler Hilton is a musician but also an actor from  my favorite program ‘One Tree Hill’.   I’d been listening to his music loads before hand and really loved it!!   He has a really husky voice.  He did a brilliant set including a great cover of a Coldplay song.  He also took a little video of the crowd and added it to the music video he made earlier.  Here it is…

 

And here is a little video I took of his performance…

 

 

After a short break, Boyce Avenue came on!!  I was so happy!!

 

 

 

Here is one of the little videos I took…

 

They did all my favourite songs.  Some brilliant covers, and all their amazing new music including ‘On My Way’, ‘Broken Angel’ and ‘Dare to Believe’ which my favourites.

 

‘On My Way’…

 

 

Here is the music video for ‘Dare to Believe’.  Whilst you’re there check out all their amazing covers and original music!!

 

 

 

 

Boyce Avenue took this picture of the crowd during their set!

 

 

I couldn’t believe how close we were and what an awesome gig it was!!  They are amazing musicians.  We had such a great time. We got a cup of tea and headed home.  My ears were ringing and heart pumping for ages!!  🙂

 

 

Boyce Avenue tweeted the next day- “Last night was huge 4 us & dedicated 2 everyone worldwide who has ever supported us. #London #weloveyouall

http://boyceavenue.com/

So blessed to have great days like that in my life, and amazing music that I can share with wonderful friends.  I will blog again soon about some of the other amazing music I am listening to at the moment, including some artists who I am going to see soon.  But for now I will say goodbye.

x0x0

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.

Joy

As a little follow on from what I wrote in my devotional about joy, I came across this quote at Evening College and just had to share it.

If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea. We are far too easily pleased. (The Weight of Glory, 1949).

Image

 

I just love this imagery and know exactly what it means.  I never had a proper holiday until I was 16 and before then could not imagine what it would be like, even when described.  Before I knew God I didn’t understand what true LOVE or true JOY or true happpiness looked like.  I was ‘content’ as so many are making mud pies.

Let’s share God’s joy today with those who havent fully grasped it!!

xxx

Fighting For Something…

“If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything”

As a Christian, I am so often challenged to stand for something, to fight against an injustice, to help something; someone.  Sometimes it feels like there are so many injustices to fight against I don’t know where to begin.

One thing I love about God is that He is so good at giving me direction and purpose.  I know I can’t do everything, yet He still challenges me to do something.

I love my job with a passion.  I love the privilege of working for Compassion UK, and knowing that I am contributing in some way to help fight against poverty and injustice, one child, one life at a time.  I love the fact I am able to reach into the life of a child and help them in a simple small way.   I love sponsoring Julio in Peru, and Prity in Bangladesh.  I love knowing that I am fighting in a small yet profound way for their precious lives.

Yet there is still so much more to do.  Recently I watched the film 58 which highlights the injustices in life, yet the amazing power of the Church to overcome.  You can follow them on twitter http://twitter.com/#!/live58now or visit their website http://www.live58.co.uk/ to find out more.  It got me thinking about all the issues, and all the ways I could help.

Then in Church last week I heard an amazing talk by Christine Caine (http://twitter.com/#!/ChristineCaine) all about A21 and the work they are doing to fight against human trafficking.  This is something God has really been speaking to me about recently.  So many people think that slavery or the trafficking of people is an archaic practice that was overcome by those such as Martin Luther King Jr.  Yet today there are 27 MILLION modern-day slaves.   That is staggering.  This number floors me because I cannot comprehend how in a world like ours today, that this can be true. And those are just the ones we know about.

Perhaps even more shocking is the fact that 80,000 of these are in Europe!  This is something the Church cannot be silent about.  This is something I cannot be silent about!   I hear statistics like this, teamed with those such as the fact there are 21 Million orphans in Africa alone, and it breaks my heart,  I do not know what to do.

Yet I am also reminded that there are 1 BILLION Christians on the planet, who if mobilised properly would be a powerful force to fight against these injustices.  So, is the Church fighting?   Am I fighting?  Or am I staying silent, like the Church by en large stayed silent during the Holocaust, during wars, during travesties.

In Luke 10v30 the priest and the Levite walked past the hurting man.  Most likely not because they didn’t care, but because they were ‘too busy’ in their own ministries to stop and help.  But like the Good Samaritan, I never want to be too busy.  I want to be moved, interrupted and inconvenienced if it means I make a difference.   Helping that man took the Samaritan’s time, money and resources.  But it was worth it.

Crying and getting emotional about these issues is not Compassion.  Compassion is being moved to do something.   In Luke 30v34 the Samaritan had compassion SO he went to him.  He set him on his own animal.

I watched these videos and I was moved to do something more than just cry over this horrific injustice.  Because this is something that affects everyone; it could be our sisters, our cousins, our daughters, our friends.

 

 

 

 

Like Moses, we can say so often say “But God…” …I am only a woman, I am only young, I am single, it is too hard.  As if God doesn’t know exactly who we are, how old we are, how capable we are.  I know that my greatest gifts God has given me will never be ‘enough’ to do all He has called me to do.  But He is not looking for super heroes.  He is looking for willing hearts who will let God’s supernatural power flow and work through our natural bodies.

So…what can I do?  What can you do to fight this horrific crime that is often happening right under our noses?

On the A21 website they have a brilliant article about 21 Ways To Help    http://www.thea21campaign.org/21-ways-to-help.php

This can be anything from powerful prayer, speaking out, fasting, buying fair trade products to reduce the demand for products made by slaves (http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/), or supporting financially.  Even this Christmas you could help by buying gifts from somewhere like ‘Heaven’s Attic’ ( http://www.heavensattic.co.uk/)  a store that give 12% of sales to anti trafficking movements such as A21 and http://www.stopthetraffik.org/ 

One way to help I am passionate about is sponsoring those at risk.  Because poverty is a major contributor that can lead to human trafficking, sponsoring a child or woman in poverty-stricken areas that are also ranked as high origin countries for trafficking can help make a difference. Check out www.compassionuk.org, to see how you can start sponsoring someone in need today!

Please don’t say, I didn’t know, or I don’t know what to do.  Even if it something small or simple there is so much we can do to stand with these women and children trapped in this terrible injustice.   I aim to challenge myself daily too.  To do something, to stand for something, or if not I might as well fall for anything.     x

 

What Is Love? <3

 

“Doubt thou the stars are fire; Doubt that the sun doth move; Doubt truth to be a liar; But never doubt I love.” Hamlet Act II Scene II

 

I love this quote!  I heard it the other day whilst watching a mushy chick flick and it got me thinking – What is love?

There are so many images of love in our society; shown in films, novels, famous couples, couples celebrating their golden wedding anniversaries, modern day heroes who sacrifice themselves for others.  And then there are so many examples of a severe lack of love.

I see so many examples of love in my day to day life; from my friends bringing me flowers and treats when I’m ill, my sister telling me she misses me, my Compassion sponsored child sending me a beautiful letter, hearing from an old friend, or listening to an incredible love song.

Sometimes experiences of love are far more profound- Being part of a best friend’s wedding.   Holding your baby sister when she is 1 day old.  Having your sponsored child ask you to pray for his family.   Crying with your friend when they are having a terrible time.  Seeing a child at kids club laughing when normally introverted.  Being told you are loved, beautiful and precious.

And sometime experiences of love are life changing – Being able to worship at a best friend’s wedding.  Watching your baby sister seek Jesus.  Seeing 80,000 Children sponsored through Compassion UK.  Praying passionately with your friend who is having a terrible time.  Hearing a child at kids club saying they believe they are loved by God despite their circumstances.  Knowing you are loved because you are taken into someone’s home and cared for, knowing you are beautiful because they still say it when you are stood crying in a changing rooms feeling hideous, and knowing you are precious because you are shown it every day in so many ways.

 

“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13. 

For me, I never know love exists more truly than when I experience 1st hand the Love of God, and the love that flows from His people.

I believed in love truly the first time I realised just how much God loves me!!  As much as I see good examples of love, I would really struggle to believe in TRUE LOVE without the love that God has for me and the rest of the world.  Our little examples of love are mere reflections of the intense, overwhelming, everlasting love that God has for us!!

 

What are your experiences of love?  Do you believe in ‘True Love’?  How do you know you are loved?  What is love?

 

I will end with a verse a friend gave to me.  A promise of love from God to his people long ago, and a promise of love from God to me for today and the days to come…

“I have loved you with an everlasting LOVE, I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.  I will build you up again”  Jeremiah 31:3

 

 

Lovely gifts from friends
A letter from my sponsored child Julio
My Sisters Wedding
LOVE
My crazy Family
Worshipping at my friends wedding