Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Why I am getting married...

I'm sat on a bike in the gym*, pondering why I am getting married in a months time. I was also listening to John Ledgend's song about love. The bridge is this 

Cards on the table, we're both showing hearts
Risking it all, though it's hard

Why am I getting married? The other reasons John Legend gives are perfectly viable for me. Love is for me not about risk any more though. I am certain that I want to go through the hard things with my husband to be, life isn't that easy any way! I really don't feel as though I am risking anything by saying 'I do'. I don't know how I am going to feel with the church looking at me, I hope that I will be standing on my feet able to say 'share life with me, in the fullness of Christ'.

I can understand where the risk factor comes from, a fear of losing your 'other half' the part that makes life better (not sure about 'being complete'), the fear that you give all of yourself only for it to be handed back to you in pieces at the end of the relationship. 

So why don't I think marriage is risky? I think it's because we chat... We have a discussion, not just about the flowers at church but about life after the wedding. It's not risky for me if I know how each of us will react in a situation or how many children we'll have etc... The list is endless, and we haven't exhausted it, and I hope we never will really. I am getting married because I would really like someone else's opinion every day, on decisions that have a major effect on my life. My husband to be does the things that I struggle with and I think I have a similar effect on him.

I think the world views it very differently though and we have created a bit of that fear, that risk factor, by dishonesty and pushing people to marry when it's not right. Jump in with two feet, pay huge amounts of money and risk it all for the love of your life, not necessarily caring about the consequences. I have been there... Thankfully I realised what was happening and stepped away. Had I have gone through with it, young and naive, I perhaps would be writing in very different circumstances. (Read my 2005/6 stuff)

Everyone has their own opinion and I am getting married for my own reasons... Sometimes I don't feel ready... Others I am wishing days away, wanting to jump the gun. On most occasions I know that it is not a risk, but a defining chapter, the beginning of the end, because this is the rest of my life...

*half was written at home, my thoughts are too long to fit into a 20min cycle!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Street Pastors in Billericay

A couple of years ago I posted a comment from a reader after I posted a blog about the need for Street Pastors in Billericay. They were against the idea of Christians being in the town and I, having seen the value of the SP's in Chelmsford, really wanted it to start happening as soon as possible. 

Well now it is happening and I see them nearly every Friday night. I hear the stories and I see the work that they do and it really really sounds as though it is working. On Sunday, the leader of the group stood up during Billericay's first Civic Service and said that some 1,500 volunteer hours had been given since November. The vicar who have the address then talked about the occasions where SP's were on hand to help those who were in distress. 

Personally, I know people who have had positive encounters with SP's and I see how people are drawn into the hub - a brightly lit church in the centre of town. It has created a community that is incredible. One that does draw people from all walks of life and means that no evening is the same.

I am very much on the fringes of it, but it is making a positive impact on the people who visit, the people who speak to them and the Street Pastors themselves. It is hard to stay away and I am not even a volunteer!

I am praying that the difference is felt across the town.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Operation Christmas Child Visit



Saturday 30th November – cold day! But off we went, Joey, Helen, Jane and I to see the warehouse that Operation Christmas Child runs throughout November and into December, sorting, taping and packing the shoeboxes that we put together every year. We went on a mini adventure. The sat nav came out and directed us to the warehouse. We were greeted by several friendly faces and asked to sign in.
Once introduced to Rob the warehouse manager, we were shown a video of the shoeboxes being received in several different countries. The video showed modes of transporting the gifts – road, camels, donkeys and by hand. The faces of the children receiving the boxes were incredible to see. We then began our tour around the warehouse. It is not a remarkable or warm place. Everyone was dressed for warmth! But what goes on is truly astonishing!
First stop was the ‘shoe box hospital’, to chat to the women who nurse damaged shoe boxes back to health, they also unwrap shoe boxes that have been sealed and transfer the contents to new boxes. If you have an empty box and you can’t fill it, please send it to the warehouse, wrapped in nice Christmas paper, because they do use a lot of empty shoe boxes! As we spoke to the women we found out that they often take unwrapped shoe boxes home in the evening to cover them, so that they can be sent out. They are dedicated to their work and it seems that they don’t have a dull moment; they are just tired from working full days!
We moved around the edge of the warehouse to look at items that had been purchased and are used to fill up shoe boxes that have had items removed or are only half full. You would have to see the pictures to believe the amount of things that have been donated. All of it is categorised and as the volunteer checks the box’s contents things are added from the pills of things that have been given. Once they are full, the box is handed forward and wrapped in Samaritans Purse tape. We were told that the tape and the bigger marked cardboard boxes are a way to let Customs know that everything in the box is safe for travelling. That sort of level of co-operation from a government body is mind blowing for me. I know that Operation Christmas Child is not a small operation, but to think of the years of work that have gone into making sure Customs know what they are dealing with is amazing!
The bigger cardboard boxes in the middle of the warehouse are placed on pallets which are labelled with the age groups that Samaritans Purse set out. These boxes also have a handy envelope on them, and as a shoe box is placed in a larger box, the bit of paper that you put with your box, if you paid for it online, goes in that envelope. That envelope is sent to HQ, scanned and you’re sent an email to tell you where your shoe box is.
Because you paid for your box, the contents of it don’t ever get split up (unless of course you pack it with contraband). The volunteers are told that the creator of the box is to be respected, so whilst they may top up a box if something is missing, they will never split a box up. The stuff that gets removed from boxes because it doesn’t comply is treated with respect too, because you have given it to a charity, it gets handed on to another charity that can use it.
When the pallets are full they are moved to the far side of the warehouse and the wait begins for the lorries to come and take them away. We continued to wander around and ask questions and were told some amazing stories of how children had prayed for their boxes. Villages and schools get a few days notice that the shoe boxes are coming and we were told of one girl who asked for a Barbie doll, and when she opened her box, there was a Barbie doll inside!
I really enjoyed the time we spent at the warehouse and I am so thankful to all the volunteers who work hard on the second part of the process to get the shoe boxes to the children who need it the most! The volunteers are retired and those that work often take a day out of their holiday to help out.
It is an incredible process and a cause worth supporting!
The total whilst we were there!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Day 5 Soul Survivor 2013

Day 5 and I am sitting in the sun, watching the strangest type of cricket I have seen. We have had an awesome week. Highs and lows, mostly, as always, highs.

God has very clearly spoken to me about stepping out in faith and doing more with my time and talents rather than sitting at home doing very little. We're going on a new journey and a challenging one at that. I am taking Ray along with me and he's ready to support me all the way.

It is exciting. It's not scary, because it's a peace of God that is keeping me ready for the battle and the hard work that I am being called to. 

As a group we have a lot of incredible stories of healing, following God and the commitment to begin to do that with whole, healed hearts. Of course, we're still not perfect, so we may fail. But choosing to obey is better than ignoring what is going on around us.

Final service tonight and a trip to a seminar about ordination, so it all should be interesting. Hoping for a good time packing down tomorrow!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Soul survivor 2013!

Day two at Soul Survivor. I have, in my nostalgia, already been through it a bit this week. We are singing a song this week that has already spoken to me about what my life is like with God.

"I turned around and you were there."

In all my life, I have walked away and turned back to see God there, to see that I am loved, cherished and no matter what has happened in the past, God has got it sorted.

I firmly believe that God has already spoken this week, and we have only had two meetings.

We're following John's gospel, the beginning of Jesus ministry. We've already had the wedding at Canaan and this morning, we were talking about Kairos and Kronos. Tick tock time and time with God, where you don't know how long you have spend with Him. 

It is really interesting to hear the teaching and the worship and I am hoping that the young people around me will learn something new about the power of God.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Anniversaries

I am the sort of person who loves a celebration, I like to remember things, and although I don't always remember exactly how it was or who said what, I like to look back and realise how far I have come from a particular point.

Sadly the things that punctuate my life are break ups. Some long standing relationships that simply no longer exist. Moments where I have been let down, and although celebrating achievements and mile stones are often happy occasions, I am actually a pessimistic person, who is hurt by others negativity and rejection. It is hard to let go of those things, and even at 29, I remember some of the things that were said to me as a child that hurt, although through the negative comments I found a way of being a better person. 

A year ago this week, I was rejected by a man I barely knew. We'd been on a couple of dates, and seemed to get on well. He is in the Navy and naturally spent a lot of time at work, away from his home county. He just didn't reply to my texts. I don't know what I did wrong, but I didn't see it coming and was hurt by it all. At the same time, I was wondering about what God wanted for my life and with that rejection, He made it clear that I wasn't to 'go after' a navy/army/airforce life. I see that now. 

So where am I one year on? Well, one person who stood by me during the whole ordeal, is now my boyfriend. The night I was stood up, he was there to tell me that I deserved much better, and he was right. Little did I know he was pointing the finger to himself!

Ray chased me, for a long time. Hid his disappointment as I went on dates with other men, but sat through everything with me, listening to all I had to say about  each day/evening out (there were a few unsuccessful moments) and telling me that I still deserved more. Someone who understood me and saw right through me at the same time. He kept going with the friendship thing until early December. 

So for 8 months, he has been the person who is my rock and fortress, all in one. He went all out for me and got all of my heart. I love him and I know God has given me the right person, the person I deserve. God's timing was and is perfect. My impatience as a human really shows sometimes, but we live every day as it comes and we work through the struggles and the joys, and celebrate the mile stones by spend far too much time doing the things we love (eating, watching movies and spending time with family).

Did I mention I get hugely sentimental? 

Here is to many more celebrations (my parents 30th wedding anniversary, my nephew and niece's first birthdays, the wedding of my brother and his fiancée, the birth of my second nephew and then our first anniversary) and many more opportunities to get soppy!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Weekend thoughts

Buckets and oceans - from A talk that was part of Christ Church's Growing in Faith evenings, originally from New Wine. 

I don't have my notes to hand so I am struggling to remember the persons name who was speaking about a bucket and an ocean. If you fill the bucket with ocean water, the ocean is in the bucket; however if you fill the bucket and leave it, the bucket is in the ocean.

Same with us and church. As a single person, we are a drop in the ocean of Christianity, the bucket is our own church - you take the bucket out of the ocean - separate church from the wider body of Christianty and it potentially struggles to grow. It's the same with us as the bucket and the ocean being our faith/spiritual life. You take yourself out of church/community, separating yourself from those who love and cherish you, and it becomes increasingly difficult to 'top up', to take stuff from the community that keeps your faith growing and getting through  the challenges of our weeks at work. 

I see young people separating themselves from church and community all of the time... Adults too. It is dangerous. 

People often ask... What is the point of church? And state 'you can be a Christian without church'. The truth is you can't, you can't be a fully rounded human without community and the same for faith... God calls us to community with believers and to show others what community in God's eyes looks like. If we're separating ourselves from that, how does that look to those outside of Christianity?

True, you can find God anywhere... Someone recently said 'nature is God's cathedral' that's their opinion... But being with others is God's community, where you can be known, be loved and understood. You don't have to be annoymous in God's creation, in fact, He doesn't want that at all.