Wednesday, 9 January 2013

I choose to be His.

So the other day I was sitting and thinking about the things that this New Year will hold, nothing that interesting in that really, I’m convinced that people the world over have had that exact same thought over the last week.

This year will have lots of happy moments in it including the wedding of 2 really good friends, it has the excitement and challenge of speaking at another summer camp, and I’m sure that along the way there will also be the challenges that thankfully we don’t see coming. And this is the bit that caught my attention.

Looking over the last few years with the things that have happened, changing jobs, finding flats, renting our house, people we know and love having to watch good friends get seriously ill – and miraculously recover – while others don’t and pass away... If I’d have known everything that was going to happen ahead of time – would it have really helped? Would I have been able to actually get on with my life, or would everyday been spent waiting for the bad things to happen?

Quite a few years ago now, I was talking about God’s plan and the wisdom of Him not telling us everything we want to know, but the bits we need to know - someone commented that when you drive from home to London, do your headlights shine from your house to London? No, they only show the bit of the road you need to think about at the moment. God is gracious enough to only let us see what we need to. 

Now the problem is that as good as this sounds, it doesn’t ‘fit’ me. I am someone who looks ahead; I am the kind of person that is constantly thinking about 6 weeks’ time, or a year’s time. I set myself goals (yes, sometimes they are unrealistic), “this time next month I want to have achieved X, Y and Z” – (starting with A, B and C...).

Goals are great, and are really useful, if we didn’t have list’s I don’t think I would be able to function! However, are we ‘guilty’ (and I use that word carefully) of setting ourselves up to fail. Do we give ourselves such high expectations that we could never live up to them? This, possibly for the first time in this way, hit home hard this year.
So this year – alongside God52 (if you’ve not heard about it yet check out - a brilliant way to make sure that the resolutions become a revolution in our own lives) I will not be setting a New Years resolution. I am releasing myself of unrealistic goals. I will be stopping more and asking if where I am going is the right direction. I will be setting myself free of being ready to fail. In short, this year I will try and see myself through God’s eyes, not my own.

Where I see failure - He sees someone who tries
Where I see work to be done – He sees a chance to work together
Where I see goals and expectations – He sees opportunities to say yes – and no
Where I get tired – He gives the grace and mercy to see the day through
Where I see a sinner – He sees a child for whom He sent a saviour

And above all, where I feel lost like a little child and don’t know where to turn, He, the awesome creator of the universe, who breathes stars and planets into existence, chooses to step down from His throne, and allows me to call Him friend and father.

This year I want to ensure that even when I mess up - and I will - that come running back into His arms.

This year I want him to direct my paths and make His ways known

This year I want to grow deeper in relationship with Him. 

This year, I choose, to be His


Sunday, 8 July 2012

Inspired by joy

It’s amazing isn’t it how a chance meeting can change everything.

It was the end of a long week, the weather had been rather frustrating, changing every two minutes, I’d had another busy day and was about to brave the bus with what was shaping up to be a killer migraine. Basically, let’s face it I was feeling rather miserable and had begun to feel quite sorry for myself.

I’d made it to the bus with about 1 minute to spare and stood in the cold with my bags, which due to my lack of being able to pack sensibly meant that they were far too heavy. Needless to say when I did get on the bus I was quite happy to sit down and just be quiet.

This lasted for about 3 minutes until we made it to the next bus stop. A family of 4 children with their mum and dad made it on board and yes, I’m going to be honest, my heart sank. There goes my peace and quiet.

Well the three oldest children climb into seats near me and one on the seat right next to me. He lasts about 3 seconds before he tugs on my sleeve and asks me if I know what 1000+1000 equals... slightly caught off guard by his questions I mumble no, no sooner have I finished the word than he declares at the top of his voice that it is 2000 – and did I know what 2000+2000 is?

As this line of questioning proceeded, I would like to clarify I got the right mix of not answering some so that he could show off his doubling skills and answering some so that I didn’t appear as some kind of innumerate dunce... before I knew it all three of the older children were asking me maths questions, asking me about football, telling me about wobbly teeth, talking to me about how many fillings they had as well as telling me what their best friends had done and said at school that day.

My bus journey lasted only about 10 minutes, but I have to declare that those three children changed my world a little bit. Their openness comes only from children who feel safe with who they are as well as knowing mum and dad are there to keep them safe if need be. They were so full of childlike joy that thankfully, hadn’t been squashed out just yet, and I pray that it never will.

As I sat there listening to their chatter and their giggles as they told me story after story – usually all three voices at once, I began to realise why I loved it so much. They had spent the day at school, and it had probably been a Friday like most others, with lessons and assemblies, but you see, this day was different. This day they had been able to wear their home clothes. Such a simple thing. One thing that had changed their whole day. 

I wanted to be able to look at that one thing, the one simple thing that had made my day special and see it for what it was, not all the other stuff that can so easily crowd in. We can become so focused on getting through the day, we miss the joy, we miss the special things. Things like a young person coming and saying “these are things I would like you to pray about”, someone popping into the office because they thought you would be lonely as others are away, someone sending a text just to say hi, just because they thought of it.

As I got off the bus, I spoke to the mum congratulating her on 3 of the loveliest children I had met – and the 4th who I was sure would turn out just the same way.

Somewhere along the line we stop looking for joy, and begin to just ‘survive’, to just get through the day, yes the children will wear us out, but the world through their eyes is a much more exciting place to live in.

So as I stepped down on to the pavement, and turned ready to cross the road, the children had run to the side of the bus to bang on the windows and wave goodbye to their new friend, I made a decision to seek the joy in the day. This sounds simplistic, and maybe it is. I know how hard some days can be and joy seems to be the last thing to be seen. But there is good in every day, because God is in every day, and He is good.

I waved goodbye to the children and prayed that they would never lose their love of life, and their joy.

Me personally, even though the rain had begun to fall, my headache hadn’t disappeared, and I had a long train ride ahead of me, I began to thank God for encounters with life changing people, people who inspire me with joy.

Even if – or maybe, especially, when those people are aged 6.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

So, a year on...

So, a year ago today, I had handed in my notice at school, I'd had an email from a friend who told me about a job...  and there began the conversation that God had been holding ready for me for what, to me, had felt like an eternity.

It’s not how I thought it was going to be. Nope, when I decided to hand in my notice (I was a full time class teacher in a school) we (Daniel and I) knew it was the right time, but we didn’t know what for. We were preparing ourselves for some months of doing the odd bit of supply teaching, and stacking shelves somewhere if necessary…

It had been a tough few years – I knew I was being called into full time Christian ministry – of the youth work variety – but I wasn’t there yet. It was agony, I wanted it desperately, my whole life was about getting there – kind of missed the point hadn’t I?!

My ‘quest’ for youth work had become bigger than my ‘quest’ for the one who was calling me into it… it was less about God and more about the work, I had to surrender myself to the fact that even if I never did full time Christian youth work – that that would be OK, because I would still have Jesus – and He is enough.

Surrender is a tricky thing. And it wasn’t and isn’t and never will be a onetime deal. It’s not a supernatural zap that takes all the desires and hopes and dreams away. I still wanted it badly. But I had to ask myself if I wanted it to the point where it was compromising my relationship with the loving Heavenly Father who was the one who had planted the seed of vision in my heart 10 or so years before…? The answer was no, and so surrender was the only path forward.

The journey through my last year in teaching was immense… God was showing me over and over again of the stuff I needed to lay down and let go of before I was able to move forward.

So after a years’ worth of surrendering daily to God’s will, God’s plan and God’s timing – I finally get the hint and surrender my job and my security into His hands. Not the easiest thing to explain to people when the economy was so dodgy and there weren’t really any jobs out there - but then that’s the point of being in God’s hands, quite often it’s not the easy option, it’s the safest.

Literally within hours of me letting go, God stepped in. God sends emails – did you know that? Well, maybe He uses other people to actually click the send button, but this email was definitely from God.

Within about 15 hours of me submitting my letter of resignation the details of a job landed in my inbox… with 2 days left to apply – the organised, planning, (control freak) part of me panicked… which lead to a few crazy emails back and forth – my application form and information was submitted (not the best work I’d ever done) and the rest, as they say is history.

If you had shown me the details of the job with loads of time to apply, I possibly wouldn’t have given it a second glance. And yet – here we are after a year of hearing about the job, and I believe I have the best job in the world!

It wasn’t the job I dreamt about (before!) but it is the job that God had ordained for me, chosen for me, sculpted for me, dreamed for me – and boy, am I glad that God knows best!!!

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t live in some fantasy world, I’ve not re-discovered Eden, every job, no matter how perfect, has its frustrations. Currently I’ve been suffering death by rotas.

But the things I’ve learned through this whole process have changed my life. It’s not rocket science, but then, the lessons we learn best from God rarely are.

I’ve learned that the Bible is completely and totally right when it describes God’s ways as perfect and higher than ours – and the sooner I had learned that, the easier it would have been. His dream job for me, and my dream job for me at one point looked very different. I'm glad He's better at this than me.

I’ve learned that God doesn’t waste anything; He is able to use everything in anything – as long as we offer it to Him to be used for His purposes. Over that last year I've been able to use experiences and skills which I had given up for lost to support others, to encourage others and to build people up.
And above all, I’ve learnt that God is never done with us. God is constantly shaping us, moulding us, creating us, just like the potter at the wheel in Jeremiah 18. God is continually changing us to be more like the person he wants us to be. Our job is to remain soft and mouldable. The problem is, when we become hard and brittle and unmovable, God still needs to shape us and change us, it just takes Him longer and it hurts more…

So, may we be squidgy lumps of clay, able to be formed, changed and moulded by the Potter’s gracious, patient, loving hands. And may we know the comfort and peace and assurance that comes from knowing Jesus is enough.

Here’s to another year adventuring with God!

Monday, 20 February 2012

Giving up.

So the other day I’m having a conversation with a really good friend saying how much I miss reading, I miss reading books that make you think all day, make you wish you could just get home to read another chapter. I spent most of the conversation wishing I had more time to read, more time to just be, more time to think. I wish I was able to just spend time in God’s word, not reading it just for quiet times in the morning, but getting deeper in it because I hunger and thirst for it.

As I walked away, I pondered; why I didn’t have as much time, why I didn’t have the same inclination to read as I always had done. I used to love nothing more than getting home and reading – I would read all evening, and well into the night.

And that’s when it hit me, I didn’t sit down anymore to read, I’d spend the time looking at my phone or tablet checking Facebook and Twitter. And it’s not like I was really taking in that much information or finding it that interesting – I just do it out of habit. It’s not a bad habit particularly, but it’s a habit that steals my time.

It steals my time from God.

It steals my time from Life.

It steals my time from me.

I’m not generally one for giving up things for Lent, but this year it’s different. I have decided this year for Lent I will be giving up Social Media. It’s not going to be easy, and there are going to be times where I fail, or come close to failing, but if I can claim back even a fraction of the time Social Media takes up, well then it will have been worth it.

A few years ago I was away on a youth weekend away and I was having a conversation with some girls about how they don’t have time to read the Bible. When I challenged them about what was taking up their time they quoted things like coursework, parents, boyfriends. So I posed them a question – “How much time do you spend on Facebook?” According to them, they reckoned about 18 hours a week…. So my answer was “I think we’ve discovered what’s stealing your focus”!

And after having given the advice back then, my own advice has found its way back to me.

In Hebrews 12 it says about throwing off everything that hinders, everything that steals our focus, everything that steals our time from the race that God has set before us.

So, for the next 40 days I’m ‘throwing off’ Social Media.

I’m giving up.

I’m giving in.

My challenge to you is what is it that you need to throw off to be unhindered in your hunger for God?

What’s stealing your focus from the one who made you…… and what will you do about it?

See you in 40 days.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012


So today (yes I have noted the change of the title) is my birthday! And because I’m the person I am, I love birthdays! Today is my 31st, and I’m just as excited about this one as I was my 21st, my 18th, 16th…well you get the idea! I have been blessed today with so many cards and messages wishing me a happy day and love – which  if I’m honest, it has overwhelmed me slightly.

God has blessed me in abundance over the 31 years –in the 16 years before I knew him personally and the following 15. It’s not always been plain sailing, and the walk has not always been easy – but God has always bought me through, resulting in me having stronger faith, yet allowing myself to be weaker and more reliant on Him.

So, today, I’m going to share some of the stuff that I’ve learnt along the way. It’s not rocket science, and it’s certainly not ground breaking stuff, but it’s the kind of stuff, that if people had shared with me before, maybe the journey would have been a bit easier.

When I decided at the age of 16 that I wanted to become a follower of Jesus, I was mistaken in assuming that this was going to be bit like rubbing a lamp, and a genie making my wishes come true and my life would be sorted from then on. Following Jesus is not like that. It never has been. And it never will be. And, with hindsight, actually, I think I’m glad. I wish someone had said to me that, yes choosing Him is the best thing I will ever do, and that it will be a non-stop adventure – BUT it is not going to solve my problems overnight – that’s just not who Jesus is – I’m not saying He couldn’t – I’m just saying He doesn’t – not in my experience anyway.

So, why am I glad that it’s not an easy ride?


Without the tough stuff, there is no way that I would have discovered that God’s plan is better and bigger than I could ever imagine.

I have been guilty of limiting God, and trying to fit him into my plan, which when I realise that’s not God wants or had intended for me hurts and yes, I have been known to even have a little tantrum… however, once I stopped, and listened to God, gave in, and let go… God stepped in and blew me away with how much more amazing and fulfilling HIS plans for me are. He is God of the immeasurably more.


Without the tough stuff, I would not have the passion I have, and I certainly wouldn’t be the person I now am.

There has been stuff that’s happened that yes affected me greatly, yes that I wish hadn’t and yes that at moments I have questioned where was God in them. Yet, having spent time with a friend dealing with these, finding the strength through God to forgive people involved, myself and God in a sense. I found that firstly I didn’t have to be perfect – because God is. I discovered that I don’t have to be strong all the time, because God is. God made it plain that I don’t have to have it all together, because He does.

But I suppose the biggest challenge I’ve faced and have come to realise over the years of me journeying with God, is that first and foremost I am a child of His. Every day I am reminded that He is bigger than me, He is stronger than me, and He loves me greatly. I am insignificant, and He is awesome. Yet, He loves me, because He loves me, because He loves me.

He will never love me because of the stuff I’ve done – or not done. He will never love me because of the things I can do for him. He loves me because I am a child of His, created by Him, for Him and in His image. That’s it. Full stop.

So when you’re next talking to someone about becoming a follower of Jesus, tell them the amazing stuff, but make sure you tell them about counting the cost – it will not be the easiest journey they have ever been on, and there will be times when you feel like you are journeying through the desert – BUT it is the most adventurous, rewarding, fulfilling, exciteing, passionate journey ever. And above all it’s worth it.

Don’t wait 31 years to figure this out –

Do it today.

Happy Birthday me.

Thursday, 2 February 2012


So the other day I’m having a conversation with someone about how sometimes the things that we least expect, are the things that shape our faith and our journey with God. Stuff like a quote from a movie that seemingly has nothing to do with being a Christian.

Such a thing happens to me every time I watch the Transformers movies. How random I hear you cry! How can a movie about robots from outer space who pretty much destroy everything around them, having pretty much the same fight in each of the movies have anything to say?

Yeah, you could argue with me about the fact that they’ve not done justice to the amazing plastic toys from the 80’s, and the CGI could be better in places, and I don’t care that the way they turn from robots into cars and back again wouldn’t work that way – but you know I don’t really care. For me the stories are amazing, stories of love, loyalty, friendship and sacrifice – story lines that touch us to the core, that speak to the stuff God places at the heart of all of us.

But, as easy as it would be to get lost in these moments, one quote always makes me do a fist punch in the air (yep even in the cinema much to my husband’s embarrassment) – Sam and the new found love of his life (Mikaela) find themselves having to run for safety, when a car pulls up telling them to get inside. Mikaela – understandably – is less that keen – when Sam looks her in the eye and says:

“50 years from now, when you’re looking back at your life, don’t you want to say that you had the guts to get in the car?”

I LOVE IT! He wants to look back on his life and know that he lived with NO regrets.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be able to say that same, not about getting in a car that turns into a robot, that’s never going to happen, but that I look back at my journey in faith, my adventure with God and know that I don’t have any regrets!

Personally, I believe that I follow a saviour who never said it was going to be easy, he didn’t even say that it would be a laugh a minute stroll in the park, however, he did say that it would be worth it –it’s the way to freedom (Luke 4:18) and a full life (John 10:10). But I want to know that I had the guts to follow Him - wherever. No questions asked.

In The Guardian yesterday, a palliative care nurse was writing about the top 5 regrets of her patients who are dying. They are:

1.    I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2.  I wish I hadn't worked so hard.

3.  I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

4.  I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5.  I wish that I had let myself be happier

When people are forced to look at their life, how many people look back and wish they’d ‘got in the car’?

50 years from now, when I look back at my life, I want to be able to say that I stepped out in faith, I took the chance, I counted the cost and took the leap. I want to look back and know that I lived life to the full, in the sense that Jesus meant it, I want to be able to look people in the eye and say that I live a life with no regrets. Transformed.

Father, may your will be done.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

to blog or not to blog....

I've been thinking about blogging for some time, however, the question has always been - what's the need? Is there a point? Or will it just be more 'noise' on the internet.

So my aim for this blog is not to necessarily be a regular feature, it's not always going to be that helpful or even interesting! But I hope that my ponderings on occasion will be of interest to some, and of use to a few.

It's about beginning yet another journey - we are on journeys all the time, and it's not often that we get to share those with others.

So watch this space - and let's see what comes from here....