Saturday, December 29, 2012

What are Saturday's for?

This Saturday is an odd one... most people forget that it is a Saturday... unless of course, you have had a normal working week. Which I have not. I have been on holiday since Christmas Day, so it is all some what wonky in my head. This one is a thankful Saturday.

Christmas has been awesome! So far so good, and the celebrating really hasn't stopped. Ok, so I have slowed down a lot though. Christmas Day and Boxing Day were both really full, but not in the rushing around like a headless Chicken sense - more the having to constantly be switched on, talking to people. It's easy to be happy when you share with people you love and people that just want to make everything so joy-filled, that you can't help but feel loved!

So thank you to Angela, Heather, Derek and Pops for making me feel so happy during Christmas lunch that I just kept eating and never felt full (until I moved and almost fell asleep!). And to Tash and Joy for all their hard work during the evening. All of that food!! And all of the fun we had, thank you for welcoming Ray and I.

Thank you to Jane for all your hard work on Boxing Day, for making me feel at home as well. More awesome food and lots of fun with the children!

I am thankful for my boyfriend too! For inviting me to his parents house and for looking after me - Christmas will never pass without me being poorly somehow! Thank you Ray!

So tonight is my cousin's 30th Birthday Party... we're getting all glammed up and I am sure that I will be posting about it when I eventually wake up tomorrow!

2013 looks exciting, there's only a week left of holiday and then back to work, back to being around people and back in school... praying for the adventure to continue.

2012 has been a year of new things starting. The Living Room, stronger friendships and relationships, a new house (I have been living in Basildon for 10 months!) and so many other things that I can't even think about right now!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve

It's finally here!! I have waited a whole 52 weeks for this, the busiest day of my year... the most exhausting day, the only time of year I am part of 4 services.

Do I feel prepared for today and the next two after this? Totally not, but the bible reading that I read aloud this morning will fill me up for the days ahead, and I will be ready to face all that the world has to throw at me!

"Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord." 2 Peter 1v2

At the end of Advent, I am full of peace. Tomorrow will be a mental day but I know that God has great things in store for those who will share their time with me!

As for 2012, it has all been a bit crazy... but that is another blog post for another day.

Monday, December 10, 2012

YWC2012 Part 4

On Saturday morning, we dragged our butts out of bed a ridiculous o'clock to have breakfast in the hotel that we now knew well. We had to be at conference for the keynote speech at 9am... man, that hurt. 9am on a Saturday is difficult when it is supposed to be your day off and you've been up discussing the highs and lows of life, into the late hours of the night. Still, what we did discuss was important to all of us. I keep talking on and on about how vital fellowship is to me and the church. No cliques, no concerns. It's difficult to get to that point some times.

Anyway, the key note speech was important, unfortunately it was too much information for me to take in. I didn't get some of the cultural references and even now, I know it was about youth participation. The keynote is important, but not at 9am, sorry guys and gals, you got that one wrong this year.

Saturday continued to be all about butts. The seminar I attended ended with us 'breaking through the butts', or at least praying about them. The people I was with found this very funny, though the point was serious. God had a big dream, and so should we, except the tiny three letter word that often holds us back from doing anything at all sometimes 'but'.

'I would love to run youth alpha with all of the young people that attended SOLID, but...'
'I would love to clear the church worship space every Friday and let the young people use the space, but...'
'I can really see how the church can change in the next 15 years so that it doesn't die, but...'

It takes a lot of courage to dream big, well at least humans think it does. We are limited, because we are not God, and can't ever hope to be, in His all-knowingness! God is not stupid, he knows exactly what we want to do, and knows how to give it to us as well.

Right, back on track, the second half of the seminar was a bible study, which fell a bit flat for me, jumping around the New Testament, looking at the way Jesus reacted to the culture that was around him. It seems Jesus was picky about what he chose to do with culture. He also used the things he was good at (namely, oh, everything) to worship his Father. So what do you use to worship God? I write, sing, reach out and listen.

Saturday afternoon was pretty chilled out. Got to play some Pool (of which I am winning 7 games to NOTHING, my colleague really needs to up his game) and watch the qualifying for the last grand prix of the season. Quite good considering I could've filled my time with a seminar about how to not burn out ;) Thankfully I know exactly what is needed when I am at the end of everything! A bit of sport and a nap!

Saturday evening was Chris Durso. He's passionate and he has a smoking hot wife, apparently (I never saw her!). He really made an impact, being American, he would always. He runs a youth ministry, and you can hear what he has to say about being a misfit here. There is still so much in my head about what I can do with what he said. Spending more time with the young people I know seems to be the number one priority.

We spent one more night in the pub going through the day, crashing through the butts and allowing ourselves time to talk about what had happened. Little sleep followed and Sunday morning came around too quickly!

We started with worship and then moved on to seminars. I attended Double Trouble. It made me realise how much I don't know, but confirmed some truths in me and my work. I want to help the young people who are really struggling to lead a life that is full. I need to know more about who can help them when they are in distress. I have taken one thing from this seminar about talking to the young people and encouraging my volunteer leaders to do the same. We all need to be a positive influence for the young people that we work with.

Back to the main room via a quick chat with a friend, and back to Chris Durso talking about being successful about what we do. I am tempted just to take a picture of my notes at this point and let you read them, but they won't make too much sense to you! There were 4 bible passages... Mark 11, 1 Cor 9:25-27h, 1 Tim 6:12 and Phil 1:21, that's a good lot of scripture there about working hard for God, going that extra mile just to please him. See that your success is not measured in earthly terms, but with the name of Jesus being known by as many people as possible. The men in Mark 11, that go to collect the colt, don't even have names, and they would've already done a lot of hard work to get to the point when Jesus said to them 'go and get me this'. They are just disciples, trustworthy ones, given an important job to do. They don't answer back or ask to ride on the colt. What do you do for God and how do you do it? With a lot of reluctance or with a joyful heart, knowing that your hard work will be rewarded in heaven?

So that's it, conference is over for another year. We have leaders conference, retreat and summit to look forward to in 2013, not to mention all of the other exciting things that are work! Getting out of bed isn't going to be so hard next year.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Sunday nights are for...

...Church. We have just celebrated advent with our annual carol service. It really was very wonderful, done really well and we even had a the real town crier join us to do some of the readings. We're very blessed with some wonderful people at Christ Church, who know a lot of different languages and have many different talents. I always look forward to this service, the official turning on of the Christmas tree lights and the final addition to the decorations for the tree.

...football, or at least the events of football. Today we had an incident at a local derby, in the north, that has once again, sent the game of football into disrepute. After all this time, you would think that throwing something and hitting a player on the pitch wouldn't happen. It does mean that I am going to have to watch MOTD2 to see it.

...Takeaway food and crashing on the sofa, which is where I am about to head after a very long weekend!

Friday, November 30, 2012

YWC2012 - Part 2 and Part 3

Just a quick 10 min blog, before I go into school about Friday evening.

It's hard to believe that it was a week ago that we went from being a small number to something much larger. Nearly 1000 youth workers, I am told, gathered on Friday in anticipation of a weekend of teaching, hearing form God and general banter about the profession we have all been called to (though there are some people that don't know it yet!).

Big stage worship was just awesome, we were sat at the back of the auditorium, so could see all that was going on. A good view!

Sadly, from Friday night, I didn't write much down. My tweets talk of prayers - for the second time, we were asked to pray for the people either side of us, which is good if you have a real heart for that, sadly, I go very quiet when I am asked to pray for people I know and those I don't. When it spills out of me, that is a different matter.

Right, still haven't even started, and I have got to go to school, I need to learn to type quicker!

Part 3 to Part n coming shortly!

Part 3

School was a bit of a whirlwind! But I'm back in the office contemplating my next move (heading out to buy ingredients for Brownies that I forgot to bring from home!) as well as getting warm again after being stood in the cold for 2 hours!

The rest of Friday was all about what Rachel Gardner had to say to us. She was talking about blazing with a light that is contagious - that's the one tweet I have from her talk, and I think it is a rather important point for our world to know, that we have the Holy Spirit inside of us and we should let Him shine.

We watched a video by Emile Sande, who is the darling of the British music scene at the moment.


A brilliant video, which I will be showing my young people/facebooking.

We are full of wonder... do you live like that is true? We often talk about being scientific miracles. We are complex. We are known by God. We are loved by God and we are fearfully and wonderfully created. How often do you live like that, full in that knowledge?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

YWC2012 part 1 - The Retreat!

Whilst I do some important Christmas work... I have a little bit of time to reflect on the weekend that has just been... Youthwork: The Conference. We're still in the early days after the event, trying to figure out exactly what God wants to do with all of the information and ideas that has been piled into my brain since Thursday afternoon! It is always good to reflect on the epic and significant moments in life, if anything to help you move on, and at least in a years time, be able to say 'look what has happened'. Anyway, less about that.

Retreat day is always a treat for me, as a youth worker. I remember a few years ago, when I really didn't get the idea of retreating, I found myself panicking about it instead. This time was totally different - I have learnt a little bit about how I can get the most out of retreating, and that does not include sleeping!!It means writing, praying and reading for me. Which I did loads of. Plenty of structured time to do all three and to chat too. I had a question that sprung into my mind and I really feel that God gave me an idea about how I can fulfil that! So if I ask you a question in the next few weeks, be prepared!

The second half of the retreat was about communication, which I really liked. I take on information about communicating effectively really well, probably because I think I still have loads to learn about communicating the Gospel. So now I have a structure for writing talks, I feel a little bit better about the task!

Right, that's a little bit on Retreating, I will do part 2 next week!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

From Becca to everyone


Yesterday hurt a lot, finding out that my church, the church that I grew up in, could not agree about a process to help those who disagree to be included as the church moves forward, it felt like a massive step backwards.

I hope that whatever happens over the next few years will show how the church can grow, and communicate about what they really want: for everyone to know God and Jesus and the sacrifice that was made 2000-odd years ago.

In the meantime though, I will continue to lead my young people with love (we've got an Alpha course starting in January :D) and with vulnerability.

We are not perfect, Christ is. We are not God, but He loves us all the same, and we can't pretend to know what He is thinking right now, just trust in Him for the future of His church.

I woke up this morning, thankful that I can worship, wherever and whenever I want, thankful that I have a set of friends who understand my frustrations and concerns, grateful that we all come from different church backgrounds, but we're all heading in the same direction.

I was thankful for Becca's eloquent words to young women in the church. Please have a read! Becca is Learning • Synod: A letter to young women.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Skyfall

'Sometimes, you just need to be quiet'

At the very end of Skyfall, I was jumping out of my seat... I called it! I won't share what happened, that would be entirely unfair, considering I managed to stay away from hearing anything about it for two weeks, I have still been on Twitter and Facebook the entire time, and even spoken to young people about it, but I got the ending spot on!

The one thing that made it a worth while experience was who I was in the cinema with. It's unusual nowadays for me to go to the cinema, let alone with 12 other people. I went back to being 15 again, when we used to hand out at the same cinema for hours and hours every Friday evening. We were that cool.

It was wonderful to eat together, in a restaurant, and although we had a bit of a rush to get to the cinema, we made a lot of noise and laughed a lot in the process! The strange thing for me is, just a year ago, I didn't know the people I was eating with. In the last year, I have grown to know a lot of people who I my generation - we're all in our 20's and 30's and we are the 'missing generation' of the church. If the rest of my generation are like the lads and ladies I have grown to love, we would have an awesome church!!

Long may going to the cinema with a lot of people continue!

Monday, November 05, 2012

Being Single

Songs of Praise is one of the programmes in England that is like marmite - you love it or you hate it. It doesn't have a particular appeal for me, but because it is an institution in this country, I watch it when I'm feeling like I need a bit of church without being at church. This week, twitter and a few of my tweety friends took a bit of an exception to it, because it was about something that is close to a lot of us - being single. I wanted to respond fully to it, as I feel that I needed to. Please feel free, if you have seen it, to add your comments about what it means to be single in the church or any faith group.

For some, the first stumbling block is the presenter - God Bless Anne Widdecome for laying out her feelings about being single and being willing to talk about it on camera, she too is like marmite though, I feel she did a good job, though her choice of songs were a bit dire for me. The second stumbling block is (quite often for me) the 'congregation', there are a lot of women, and a lot of older men. I have been known to play 'spot the 20 year old'. If you want to celebrate singleness, why have you got married people all over the place?

Ok, so the content (because in a weeks time you won't be able to watch it) - it starts with Anne talking to Fr Christopher Jamison, who is famous in his own right for being a monk who engages with non-Christians on national tv. He lays out 4 vocations of the Christian community

Ordained Ministry
Monk/Sister
Married
Single Lay Person

Pretty basic to get to grips with. He is a monk and he's honest about it, particularly his struggle with celibacy. Anne goes on to say 'it doesn't supply the intimacy, but you have people around you all the time, the single lay person doesn't have that'. People think she's mad because she doesn't feel the need for intimacy and is happy as a single person. I hope that no-one thinks I am mad because I live on my own, and I want to be single... I disagree with the final bit of her statement. As a single person I am fortunate to have a depth of friendship with those in my Christian community (church, twitter!, work etc) that allows me to share my struggles. I am not alone because I am single. I do always have someone to talk to because I have build my friendships like that.

Christ was single, and that is significant, both Anne and Christopher recognise that. Lots of other people in the Bible chose to be single for God, but they had community around them... can you see a theme starting to develop?

Anne goes on to say she's content and talks about spinsters. Anne then speaks to someone who is 40 and is still single. Well done Julie Dunlop for being a well rounded single woman, who lives in community, with a strong church. Shame that you do still feel the need to be looking for a partner. She says it is about quality of relationship. I agree. It's about having a content and peaceful feeling and a strong relationship with God, the Bible doesn't say women should have a relationship with God through a man, it's quite the opposite in fact.

We then get a very pretty lady, who is married, singing about God's love. Great. Irony at it's best.

David McCabe is then interviewed by Anne. He has gone through some tragic things, and come through having a child with cerebral palsy, losing his ex-wife to cancer, finding Jesus and then getting married for the second time. Good for him, he found someone after 4 years to share his life with and got married again. Cue a whole load of photo's of him and his wife at their wedding. Slow clap for a programme that I am losing faith in. Please can you speak to someone else?

Finally we meet Fiona Castle, Roy Castle's wife, who sadly lost her husband to cancer and has been a widow for 18 years. An older lady talking about a wonderful marriage and how she coped with being on her own after a long period of being married. She tells us that she learnt a lot and God keeps her going. Her theology, in my opinion, is a little off. Anne asks her if she'll see Roy in heaven and she says that she'll get a new body so she doesn't know if she's recognise him. I believe that in heaven our spirit, the thing that makes me 'me' will be the same, so I will recognise other people. I think that this part of the programme will speak to the demographic of Songs of Praise the most.  Being widowed must be a horrible thing. I have seen how my Nan has struggled with it, in the last 6 and a half years.

Anne's final prayer is interesting - 'Father, show us how to fill our lives' (there's more to it than that, but I don't want to transcribe it all!), I would suggest that serving the church you worship with or the international church might be a way of filling your life.

Songs of Praise did an 'o.k.' job of sharing the idea about singleness with the church who watches, but it didn't really challenge any ideas about churches who do point out and treat single people (and married couples without children) differently from their community.

As a recently single person, I have felt less pressure since becoming single to get married, although other people are 'marrying me off', I am actually really happy with who I am and where I am at the moment. I have learnt so much in the last year and a (very little) bit about who I am and what I feel God wants from me. I do hope I will get married, because I don't think I am called to being single - although I am like Julia Dunlop a little bit... being unsure about which way God is calling me.

I love the community I work with, I love the friends I have made from creating new communities. Keep in community, please, all you single people.

What do you think about being single? What pressures do you feel, if any?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Sharing

I am sat at my desk - my proper desk, in the church office. I can not tell you how long I have waited to say that. I love it. Having a desk in a well lit room with enough space for all my stuff (which I desperately still need to sort through) is a blessing. I am warm, constantly, more importantly, I am dry.

I am also trying to be pro-active and productive with the time I spend at my desk. I am the sort of person who needs the physical space to match the mental space! Pages and pages of A4/3 to figure out exactly what it is I want to do in the future or with a particular project.

My latest project requires a lot of brain power - I have to show the church what I have done in the last 4 years and what I do day to day. For me, that means at least 4 pieces of paper - plus 5 diaries and several different coloured pens and pencils. It's not the sort of thing I can do on a laptop - but at some point (by Christmas I think) I'm going to have to present it to the church, so it needs to look like more than just a list.

Anyone got any ideas??

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Guilty Harvest

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This morning... this is the fruit of my labour, two bags of clothes that I haven't worn/don't want to wear any more. There are part of my Harvest gift to the Women's refuge. My best friend came up with the idea of going through her clothes and giving up anything that she could for the women who have to leave home with nothing, running from abuse.

So why do I feel guilty?

I have an attachment to clothes, I can remember the first time I wore something special, or the last time I wore it, where I was and who I was with. Some of the clothes in these bags haven't been worn in nearly 3 years, others haven't been worn at all, most were brought because I thought I needed them... clearly having 4 plain black t-shirts is something every girl needs. Upon recognising that I had a lot, I created a few rules for myself.

  • If I had more than one of something, I was only allowed to have one of that thing.
  • If I hadn't worn it in a year, it was going in the bag.
  • If I had a strong emotional attachment to it, I needed to get a grip and let it go, I have photos and memories of nearly every outfit/significant event to help me, I don't need to be holding something physical to remember. (Mind springs back to a few 'first date' outfits!)
So the result was two bags and a whole load of guilt. I feel guilty, sitting in my own flat, with a room full of clothes, that I have so much. I have a lot of gadgets, I have the option of going shopping, I have a chance to buy food, and provide for others. I feel guilty that I don't do this sort of thing regularly enough. Harvest is once a year, and that is the only time I think about it and in the past couple of years, I have been in charge of the Harvest service, so therefore 'too busy' to think about what I was giving (if anything).

I have seen an article about how to 'stock up' your cupboards, how if you just brought one extra thing a week, you'd quickly gather a well equipped ration of food, in case we lapse into a world war or something. Oh dear, that's what I have been doing. When there are people who have nothing.

I also realise that I do my washing because the washing bin is overflowing, not because there are no clothes to wear. I have been three weeks without doing a wash, and only did it because I couldn't stand the mess it was creating. Oh dear. When I say 'I have nothing to wear' I mean I have already worn the clothes I wanted to wear today, not 'There is actually nothing to wear' (which takes me back to staring at a cupboard full of food and saying 'there's nothing to eat'). Today, I have disgusted myself. I hope that God permanently sorts that out!

I am grateful that I have never been in an abusive relationship, I have not been there to experience it.

I don't know what God will do in the next couple of days. I have been praying for a spirit of generosity for the whole church and myself. I have also been praying for feeling better!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A fruity couple of days!

It's a while since I wrote anything - really sorry about that. I am at the moment sat at home, just relaxing, waiting for the next thing to happen. I feel as though that is all that has happened, and sometimes things have just happened to me, without me even realising. I have really enjoyed the start of term this year, everything seems to be coming into very sharp focus and there are few things that have been left alone.

Schools Ministry seems to be coming into a real time of fruitfulness - the contacts that we made with Mayflower 6th form created an opportunity to present some ideas on faith and morals, which were then spoken about throughout the day by students and staff. We seem to be making an impact on the school, which is incredible.

We attended Open Evening and that meant more conversations and showing parents that the school is linked into the community and church. Which was just incredible, now I think about it! It seemed to come and go in a flash, but I had a chance to see someone I haven't seen this term, which means we can offer lessons and help out with the RS department a little more. I do really love my job at the moment.

Today and yesterday, I have been with some lovely children from South Green Baptist Church. We worked hard all of yesterday, learning about Jesus and praying. We had some really exciting and knowledgeable answers, I hope that in years to come all the head knowledge becomes heart knowledge and spirit lead. Definitely praying for all of them! This morning they are a little quiet but we soon got back into it, finishing off all of the things that we had spoken about, we even had a chance to sing! So the young children have got a lot of little reminders of our time and I hope they have learnt something!

All of this is in the last week. I really can't remember much beyond yesterday morning at the moment!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

New Term

Oh where did the summer go? We had some glorious weather, some not so much fun weather and some really brilliant situations. 2012's Summer of Sport has ended, with a red card and some bad football, and I'm ill. Oh well, enough about how the football team are ruining everything...

The start of term, the academic year has been a lot of fun! Considering the last time I posted was 01/09/12, a lot has happened in the last 12 days! A crazy amount.

Firstly, I visited London, twice in 3 days, once for the excellent Sweeney Todd, which is about to finish it's run at the Adelphi, Michael Ball being one of my favourite people in musicals, and Imelda Staunton being an unknown, I sort of knew what I was getting myself in for. I didn't realise HOW GOOD they are together! Wow, I would see it again, them particularly, if I could. I'm pleased I have seen it, and at the end of its run. Good cast, brilliantly funny for something so dark and much better than the movie. The girls I was sat next to were at the start of a week of musicals - well chosen for their first one, they had Wicked on their list as well. And last week, Chicago said goodbye to the West End, which is a shame, because that is an excellent musical too, but things must come to an end.

My second visit was to here





This my friends, is London in full Paralympic swing! Pretty impressive eh? We didn't pay very much to be on site and sit in premium seats to see David Smith. He eventually won a silver in Boccia (pronounced Bot-cha ), a brilliant athlete. You can see how dedicated they are and how much effort it takes to play. We also saw some table tennis (I will challenge my young people to play one-handed this week when youth group starts!) and as much as we wanted to see sitting volleyball, it was getting late, so we headed home. I'm a little disappointed that we didn't get into the Paralympic stadium, or to Tower Bridge, like my mum wanted to, it was all a bit chaotic, really, but we both enjoyed it and we're fans of Boccia now, so I will be keeping track of Canada (who seem to do really well) and Team GB!

So Wednesday was sandwiched by two work days and Friday I was back to Brownies, with more names to put to faces, and thinking back now, I can't remember any of them... oh, this week should be interesting!

Saturday was the County Show at Barleylands - which was too early for a Saturday, especially for grating cheese, but I met new friends and got a free lunch out of it! I saw the monster trucks, the CTB Essex tent and the most magical (and slow moving) carousel ever! It was a really good day, full of memories of being there ten years ago and a few odd moments, nice to have some new memories as well though and I will offer to help again next year!

Sunday was church, leading on the fruits of the Spirit, which is different from the gifts of the Spirit, which was a lot of fun, eating fruit we'd never had before. I had a little help from my twitter friends (thank you) and Biblegateway! It was good, we're slightly down on numbers now, so we'll be looking at quality of relationships and the knowledge that they have.

Monday was the first proper day back, with early prayers, and school. (And I think I caught the lurgy!) It was a really good day though, lovely to be bombarded by staff as we sat down for lunch, I still have one or two teachers to catch up properly with in the next week or so. I do really enjoy going into school. Monday night was spent on the tv and tennis. A late end for us in England as we watched Murray win a Grand Slam! (maybe why my lurgy got worse!)

Tuesday will hopefully become fuller as the term goes on. Some lessons to put in and meetings as well. In the evening we met as The Living Room for the first time since the day before my birthday. We were still talking about my epic cake and what we'd all done over the summer. I really don't feel like the two terms have been separate for me in any way, which is a shame. I have not really been away (one weekend in Cowfold and less than 24hrs in Manchester) and I do think that makes a lot of difference. Normally being in a field for 5 days feels like a holiday - but even youth camp felt too comfortable. Maybe I need to get out of the country.

Today was an early start with the teachers at Mayflower, lovely to meet and pray with old and new faces and talk about ex-church members, exciting projects and new developments for all. I think it's going to be a really good term for everyone, in Billericay. That's what I am praying at the moment. I have 25 mins until some of my scout leaders turn up to have a look at church for Parade on Sunday, and then I need to go home and wash my uniform!

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Youth Camp 2012

From 26th to 31st August, 20 young people and a few leaders (5 then 6 later on in the week) were at Eaton Vale in Norfolk, with the purpose of being away, being with each other and being with God.

The process for this began months and months ago, when we spoke to the young people about whether they wanted to go to a Soul Survivor festival, it turned out that this year was an important time for a lot of them, so the decision was taken to skip the festival and take everyone away.

Over the last 5 weeks, I have heard a lot about different festivals going on, a was disappointed that I had missed a lot of awesome things going on whilst waiting for youth camp to begin. Three weeks between two camps is a long time when all you are doing is prep work!!

Sunday morning arrived, I packed almost everything (forgot the brownies I'd made and my board shorts) and headed to meet everyone for the trip to Eaton Vale Camp. We had a good journey up and arrived in one piece. And so did God.

I can't say much for anyone else's time away, but God definitely spoke to me and through me to others, which was a great experience and I had forgotten how it feels to be soaked in the Spirit and not swept away with loud music and lots of singing. Big worship sessions can be so distracting some times, I think I am coming to that conclusion, but it is quite a new thought, so let me ponder it a while.

The conversations we've had, the prayer times and wisdom that we have shared have been so important, and it showed me that I appreciate the young people that I work with, so much more than I ever thought I did. They are brilliant, they work so hard for the whole of the academic year and then some, and after a long summer of waiting and the panic of results day, they still manage to find time to throw themselves into everything we had planned for them, team work, activities, worship, talent show, a day at the beach, you name it, they still worked hard and enjoyed themselves. They are a bunch of really talented, well versed, delightful young people, who will change their world as they continue to grow in the love of Christ, and now they have the knowledge that they are being spiritually gifted in a lot of different areas, the group can only get stronger. And I pray that they do, get stronger, have more understanding of the Bible and of what God can do for them and will do through them.


So young people, wherever you are, whatever you've planned for today, know that God is by your side, looking out for you, looking after you and going through everything with you.


As for me, I am asking questions, I am joyful in prayer and praise and I am grateful that I could have so much time sitting with God. During the meditation we did, which was lead by Gary, we were lead to seeing a picture of Christ sitting in front of us, handing us a gift. My gift was a bright red, glass heart. When I asked the question about what it meant, I found myself thinking about love, in abundance, for me to share with those around me, and as I sat afterwards, I was lead to Moses and the burning bush, where God says, loudly and clearly, 'I AM WHO I AM'. I can imagine that deep down in Moses was a sense of peace, a steady hand, holding firm to him, through the madness of a bush that was burning without being burnt. I know that through all the panic that can come (and may come, depending on the result of some letter I have to write) that God will be holding on to me.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Troll-lo-lo

BBC - Newsbeat - UK 'too heavy-handed' with Twitter and online trolls

Trolling - it depends who you listen to, as to whether trolling is the most awful thing in the world, or it's just done to annoy people, who struggle with grammar and spelling.

The article above is about the dealings of the British Police, who are heavy handed it seems when dealing with people who say horrible things to (often very famous) people, on Twitter and facebook. Britain arrests and prosecutes people who have been very nasty or racist etc, and they go to jail for seemingly speaking their mind.

It's a tough one, do we see what someone has written at face value and punish accordingly, or do we figure out what has been said? How far can it go? When does 'freedom of speech' cross a line, is there a line?

I don't know the answers and I would quite like to hear what you have to say...

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Worship

Yesterday evening (pre-recorded), whilst Mike P from Soul Survivor was talking about worship... about it being a sacrifice, something we should give to God, because we love Him.

At the same time, I was writing a blog, complaining about worship... but not worship, the people that have written some of the songs that we sing at church. Mike P then convicted me (perhaps actually it was God!) and I deleted the post, for the first time ever. I felt awful, how could I complain about something that is a sacrifice - Mike P even said that we should sing with our whole hearts, that we shouldn't grumble when we hate a song, but actually I think he's wrong.

What if the song is theologically incorrect? It doesn't happen very often, but if you think what is being said doesn't sit with your sense of God, you shouldn't just sing it blindly... or if you're singing something you don't understand, is that appropriate or helpful either. I love imagery, so the song These are the days of Elijah is great for me, but others would think I was weird for singing it aloud! I get it, but others don't, so is that right?

My thought that I deleted was about song writers who write in funny keys, so it is near impossible to sing if you have a normal range voice (as I do), normally, it's too high and if you don't have years of learning how to harmonize, you haven't got a chance. So you have to sing like a man, which is equally as painful. Even at one point, Beth Croft struggled with a song - too high. If you don't know how to transpose, you don't have a chance either.

I think I have a point, I think that bringing your all to worship the King of kings is a really key idea, I can't imagine what the church would look like with sacrificial worship, rather than some awfully sung songs for 20 mins on any given Sunday!! It would be different that's for sure.

But no-one wants to sound like a strangled cat, no matter how much the phrase 'it's all heavenly to God' is used... so if you are a song writer, don't write in a key so that you can sing it well, but if you have to, when it becomes mass produced, please change the key, so that when a congregation sings it, we're not straining to reach difficult notes. I have heard many a time 'that's a lovely song, but it's not a song for the congregation'. If you're doing it for yourself, you're doing it wrong, if you're doing it for the glory of God, the church will see that and sing with you.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Labels are Powerful

video

What does yours say?

I love this advert and I think I could build a whole lesson around it. It's a silly way of getting across a serious message... everyone gets a label at some point in their life. It is important that we try not to label or stereotype people.

I could use the episode of Glee where they have t-shirts with the things that they don't like about themsleves, and talk about bullying, which is often provoked by the labels we give people.

And for the sprinkling of faith, I could end with cardboard testimonies and talk about how we can change our labels, but ultimately Christ will change us more than anyone else... if we accept him as Saviour.

Right, were is a classroom full of young people eager to learn abstract ideas about life?? Oh wait... there's still a couple of weeks till term starts... bummer, better keep this one in a file somewhere of great ideas.

Paralympic Tickets

They are pretty hard to come by, but today, I got Mum and myself 2 day passes for the excel center - not quite sure if we'll see anything at all, because I really don't know how it works, but still, I am making an effort. Mum wanted to go, so we're attempting it, at a cost of £26... we'll have a little of the Paralympics all to ourselves on a Wednesday afternoon. She wants to walk around the Park as well, but those tickets are like gold dust, so I will keep trying! :) Would be great if I could surprise her with that. If anyone has Wheelchair Basketball tickets, please let me know.

This week, work is taking a slow one. I woke up thinking I would be ready for work by 10am, turns out I can sleep for England when I'm supposed to be working. it's nice to be able to work at a slower pace, with a lot of time on my hands, a lot to do though. Time to get back to it.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Olympics

It's all over... unlike the beginning, which starts slowly and builds to an opening ceremony, the ending is much more definite and absolute. Watching the flame being extinguished (well, having the gas turned off) was strange. Sixteen days of competition is over, in a moment.

There are so many moments that will be remembered, from Mo and his achievements to Oscar and his world first. In and out of competition, it seems we have done really well. The BBC have excelled themselves (though showing the same montage three times was a bit rubbish) and the competitors have shocked everyone with their humility and thankfulness. The volunteers have turned up, tirelessly and so have our armed forces.

Well done everyone. I am proud of it all.

I am still struggling with those who were allowed to compete so that their countries didn't get thrown out. I haven't figured out which countries are missing and I would really like Rio 2016 to be just a good.

And I loved Take That so much, it made me cry and seeing a photo of them today made me cry.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Time away!

Good afternoon! (If you knew how long it took me to write 'good' just then, you'd wonder why I'm even bothering!)

I am bothering though, so that I can update you on all the things that have happened since SOLID. It seems like an age ago. so bear with me for a moment!

The last couple of weeks have seen several significant events. Firstly and foremostly, my birthday, you can read a decades worth of adult life here, and see just how much life has changed. I said goodbye to my sister and her husband, and they are now gallivanting round the States, no doubt doing a lot of fun things. I took three days off over my birthday, and they were days I needed, I ended up doing loads, but it was well worth not doing any work!

Then I spent a week preparing for Falcon Afloat. I also visited Guide Camp for the first time ever and said hello again to Verity. She was very sneaky about coming home, but it was really lovely to see her again and listen to all the stories she has, seeing how much she's grown up over the last year and how she's adjusting to the world now she can drink out of a glass and eat cheese!

Saturday came around all too quickly and I found myself travelling to Hutton to meet the team and do all the final bits of prep for going to Tollesbury and living outside of the world for a week. Being part of Falcon has become a pilgrimage, walking up and down the path to the boat is one of the joyful things in my life and made all the better by talking to young people about their hopes and fears for what they would go back to. I have a lot of young people and adults to pray for now. I miss it too. We had our highs and lows, I stepped through my fear of high places (but didn't quite conquer it) and I am still saying I ought to go on a sailing course. It was so good to see team members again and make new friends. We're already looking forward to next year!

Trinity with a new coat of paint


The Friday after Falcon (after being at home for 11 hours) I was on the road going south to see my friend get married and to be a bridesmaid for the fourth time. I have never had so much fun with two families and I hope that the friends I have made will continue to grow and we won't forget each other.  I have a beautiful dress that unfortunately broke on the day, but there are some really nice photos of me in it...


Waiting for photos to be taken!
This week I have been relaxing, watching the Olympics and shopping. I have full cupboards and freezer, so that makes me happy and I feel incredibly blessed that I have the ability to do so. I'm going to the cinema tonight and pub on Thursday to catch up with my friends! :)

Monday, July 23, 2012

SOLID 2012

A couple of weekends ago, four amazing adult leaders (if we do say so ourselves) took 26 young people to SOLID, at Stubbers, for possibly the wettest camping weekend ever.

Here is Paul's video of the weekend

video

Check out my mad dancing skillz (and Sean's, because he wasn't nearly as embarrassed as I was).

I had some moments when I couldn't stop laughing and other moments where I wished I was in my own bed!! But we all had a laugh in the end! I have a few photos to add to the mix, so there might be a new video on the way!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A decade

Any one turning 28 since 1 Sept 2011 to 31st August 2012 - congratulations, you left school at least 10 years ago. (Some at 16, some at 18)

We're there, a decade since we left school, since we bounded about with little responsibility, not knowing what the future held, or at best a sketchy picture of how it might turn out.

So where have the last ten years gone? It is a question my friends ask all of the time. What have I been up to, what have you been up to, have we wasted our lives?

Well, let me be a bit self-indulgent for a bit, whilst I try to remember what I have done since the 18th July 2002.

I have flown back from Tanzania, Africa, after a three week discovery trip. Today, 10 years ago, the people I was travelling with gave me my very first surprise birthday party, and it was the first time I remember feeling God's love from other people, a pretty special moment.

I spent a year as a Viz-a-Viz Optimum Volunteer. I can't remember how I spent my 19th birthday - it was a Friday - so I may have been in the pub!

Then I moved to Uni to study Theology, so there would've been BBQ's, and for two years I spent the following week back at Uni doing Aim Higher stuff. I also began to blog!

In 2005, I turned 21, there was a party in the church hall, I was prayer secretary at CU, I was living in a house with 5 other girls, who I love dearly, and I also got engaged that year to Henry, in the October of my third year. I volunteered throughout my Uni career, with St Barnabas church, Aim Higher and the chaplaincy. All very good experience for what I have done since.

In 2006, we said goodbye to Grandad, after a battle with lung cancer (I went to the cemetery to visit him and it still breaks my heart that I never full appreciated him, I wonder what he would think about my current situation), I think I was in the pub for my 22nd! I did get a free haircut and was hungover most of the day! My sister was away in Cardiff for this one. My little brother went to his prom! I started another year out and I met someone who became like a sister to me.  As I joined St Michael's I joined Facebook, and that was the end of my social life.

In 2007, I was in Bristol, I was single, I was 2 days away from when I would've married Henry. I think it was very wet that week too. A couple who were supposed to get married the day before had their wedding cancelled, because of a flood. I am slightly pleased I am not married. I don't know how different my life would be. I started work at Essex County Council after being unsuccessful at every youth work interview.

2008 I had just started at youth worker at Christ Church! I went into London with my sister and saw the Take That musical, we were joined by our friends for drinks later on.

2009 I think I was still in awe of Take That and being in a new relationship. There were many concerts in 2009, it was a year for enjoying myself. I went on a couple of disastrous dates, but eventually met Chris. He was very brave and met EVERYONE at my birthday party. It was good fun though. I turned 25, Twenty-five, I swear I thought I was going to die soon. I was soooo old! I joined twitter and haven't looked back since.

In 2010, I was bridesmaid for the very first time, as Mandy and Rob got married. I had just finished a 400 mile cycle for Stop The Traffik, I finished on my birthday. This was my sister's idea. Madness. I did it though, and I experienced what video blogging can do to your unique viewer numbers! I went to Soul Survivor for the first time, I had a great time, and as that finished, the next term was something that I can't even begin to talk about, still. Sorry.

Last year, I was bridesmaid for the second time, at my sisters wedding blessing, in Luton. I posted once during July, to confirm that Robbie had left Take That, glory hunter. I had completed my Course in Christian Studies, and collected my certificate in a service at the cathedral. My parents and Chris' parents met for the first time. Nan had hip surgery just 4 days before my birthday and was determined to be out of hospital asap. At our gathering for birthdays in July, my sister said she would be leaving her job. I spent my actual birthday at work, then out with my best friend and her husband for dinner. Later on in 2011, Chris and I split up. In the following 8 months to now, I have moved out of my parents home, and I now live on my own, contemplating everything... and blogging more often. I think I have made the right decision, but sometimes, self-doubt is the hardest thing to overcome.

This year, I have been a bridesmaid again, at Kay and Matt's wedding and there are only two and a half weeks until I am 'on duty' again for Mary and Dan. I love that I can stand by my friends as they commit their lives to each other, for all the trails and exciting things that happen. I will step on board Trinity again for the 4th time, this year,with a different team again, feeling like I have done the minimum! I love it though and wouldn't change it for the world.

Yesterday evening, I got the biggest cake, and biggest surprise of my life, and once again, God has touched my life in so many different ways with so many different people in my life. My life at the moment is stable and constant. I have things to deal with, I have relationships that need work and I have a real chance to show how much God loves a lot of people. I hope I can show the generosity that has been shown to me over the last decade. I haven't finished and God has only just started. Work gets busier and more emotionally draining but I know there are people looking out for me.

I hope the next ten years are full of surprises and more relationships that are deeper and last for a long time.

Thank you to everyone who has stepped in when I have needed it, and those who have held my hand when I haven't been able to stand. You all mean so much to me. I'm going to read Psalm 71 and cry some more!! :)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Evangelism Certificate

Yesterday evening, after a disappointing dinner, I got ready to head to the Cathedral for the presentation of Certificates - it's an annual event and I was there last year to collect my certificate for Christian Studies, this time, I was there for my certificate in Evangelism. We were sat at the very front, which is something I have never done in the Cathedral, but it meant that I had the best view of what was going on. Phone's off, so radio silence throughout, plus I think it is rude to tweet whilst the Bishop is speaking - anyone else can put up with my incessant tweeting and facebooking.

It was a really good evening though - Roger Matthews spoke and said a couple of things that I would like to share with you. He started with 'God's not finished with you yet' although we are at the end of two or three years for studying, God's still only just starting with everything he is calling us to. As we were reading the bible verses that Roger was speaking on, I had a thought, that I have probably had before - sometimes the profound things have already been said for us - the bible verses we were looking at say ''present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God" (Rmns 12), Roger asked us, 'what does it look like to do this?' I'm still trying to figure out the answer!

He went on to talk about how we are all part of the body, when another thought pooped into my head - God's economy has a job for everyone, and you'll get the training too - it's hard to see people out of work, but Roger was saying God always needs more of every profession, inside and outside the church environment - whatever you are called to do, you need to understand that God wants you to see your whole life as mission, a sacrifice. Finally, Roger picked up on the New Testament reading where Jesus says "You did not choose me but I chose you" - what a great thing, to be chosen by God to do the work of adding to His Kingdom.

Roger asked us to carry on the conversation - so that's what I am doing.

Last night, I saw people I know, met some new people, and shook hands with far too many Bishops! It was good to catch up with some people and celebrate as a Diocese what is happening in Essex. Long may a packed Cathedral continue to dance and praise God for what we have learnt and we're still learning.

And what a difference a year makes - though I am struggling with mixed feelings about the time I have come from, and what I am going into.

Jimmy's Farm

Two things to complain about this morning (there's a very jubilant post after this one!) one is Tesco vouchers and the other is Jimmy's Farmers Range Pork Sausages.

One of the questions I always ask, whenever I open the envelope is, how on earth do they figure out what to give me? Because there are some vouchers I just can't use, either because I don't need to spend the money because I already have the stuff they are offering, or because the food would go off before I could eat it - it is a waste of money, and effort to send me vouchers I won't use. How much of that goes into landfill as well? Do Tesco recycle their paper vouchers and would it just not be easier to inform me by email and apply the discount/extra points at the till? Would make sense!

On to the second thing - I got a voucher for 75p off Jimmy's Farm/Jamie's/Finest sausages, so I decided that I would try Jamie's Sausages, except my Tesco doesn't stock them, so I went for Jimmy's instead, after watching him on channel four a couple of months ago. A little highly priced (I don't normally buy sausages - I'm more of a bacon girl!) but as they are organic that is expected, though the idea was to have organic pork sausages at value prices. We haven't got that far yet. One thing that I wasn't expecting was the skins. The filling was really good, but next time I'll cook them in a different way and I won't eat the skins, although they are natural, they are far too thick. I am conditioned to eat sausages where you can bite though the skin and it is a pleasant experience. Biting into a sausage and not being able to make a clean break is not nice. So whilst I am happy with the meat, I don't really want the skin next time. I don't think I'll be buying them again.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Fun in the Park 2012

This year, Churches Together in Billericay (CTB) took the radical step of creating a day for the community of Billericay, rather than a service in the morning altogether.

Aside from the trailer getting stuck in the very wet ground and one 10 mins torrential down pour, it was a success, something that could've continued well into the evening and leant itself very wonderfully to how our town works.

For me, it was nice to hand out with people of my own age, and the young people I work with, as well as helping the ministers come second in the mini-olympics! (they could not have done it without my fingers!) I was at work, but there was no pressure to actually do anything.

The fruits of it? Well, we won't see all of that - that's entirely up to God, but prayers are already being answered and everyone is happy about the way it happened and who was involved.

It ended up being a sunny but breezy day, with a good opportunity to be community in Billericay for a while.

We are very privileged in this town to have a chance to work together and celebrate together. Praying for many, many more years as CTB and for what God is doing in this town.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Women's Health

******SERIOUS WARNING - if you don't know much about women's health, I would advise caution for the penultimate paragraph******

I have sampled the NHS in various places in the last week or so and there is an obvious difference in the way people and situations are handled - there has to be, not everyone can have all the attention all of the time and not everything needs to be fast - but there does need to be a quality, a standard of the way people are treated.

My poor Nan has been through the NHS for longer than anyone I know, and I fully appreciate how she feels after sitting with her this week during a trip to A and E. I won't tell you the full story, because, being a Fisher and with my Nan's voice in my head, that would take too long, instead let me just tell you that the Doctor we saw was unnecessarily abrupt and did not follow through on what she promised at all, she didn't listen and she didn't care. My Nan is of the generation that doesn't want to make a fuss or be a nuisance to anyone, yet she was treated like she was having a tantrum, all for breaking her wrist! Some older people know exactly what they want to say and exactly how to express themselves, others really struggle and just need someone to listen to them, so that they can fully explain how they feel and how they think they should be treated - my Nan is the latter. Yes, she may already have a cast on, but she is in pain and what she is saying is helpful for you, Madam Doctor. Needless to say, the GP surgery were more helpful than A and E, and did the leg work for my Nan's Fracture Clinic appointment so that my sister and I didn't have to. That's service to be proud of!

My second encounter, just a day later, was with a pharmacist, who did listen and fixed my problem within minutes of me speaking to her, so I didn't need to waste a Doctor's time, which is exactly what Pharmacists are for. Huzzah, I am no longer suffering so badly with my hayfever. (As I write, I have a painful right eye, because SWAN decided to send the heavies out to cut the grass!)

My third encounter was on the phone, and I think if I'd have said something different to what I did, I might have got a different response, but it was lovely for me to pick up the phone and get someone pleasant on the other end, who wanted to help me.


********
Hopefully, my final encounter this week, was today. I was welcomed, asked to fill out another form, and told to wait. When my name was called, my heart jumped, as it often does when I am in the doctors and the nurse and I went the short distance to the office. Today I have done something that I have never done before and won't hopefully need to do again for 3 to 5 years. I had a Smear test. As I have never had one before - really - this is the very first time I have been examined for anything other than a chest infection, I was nervously trying to act like it was something I had done before. Apparently though, I was not nearly relaxed enough and as the nurse talked me through everything, I did tense up, a lot. A couple of deep breaths later and I felt the need to go shopping! Still, it was wasn't painless, but it wasn't the most painful thing (stubbing your toe or shutting your finger in the door are more painful) and I must remember that - for the sake of my health, my sanity, having a smear test done is far better for me, than spending a lifetime in the doctors/hospital being seriously ill.
********


The UK's health service is a tricky one to negotiate some times, you want what is best for yourself, and those you love, but you can't, unless you're wealthy enough to go private, choose your PCT, your A and E doctor or who is in front of you as you sit an important exam (see what I did there?), so you're stuck with it. There are bound to be frustrations with anything, teething problems and the occasional 'Whaaaaaat?' moment, but as a user of the service you stick with it and hope, as promised, that a letter drops on the doormat to tell you it is all ok.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Out of the box

Today I decided to start a memory wall, so now it is in it's infancy, I can show you how it will progress as I live here for the next chapter in my life, through, obviously the medium of photo (because drawing it would be painstaking!). So here is the very first picture of the memory wall



You might not recognise any of these people, but let me assure you, every photo has a meaning! Of course. There are 22 photos on their way, from Photobox, for the magical price of £1.99!!

Tonight, I also opened a box that has been in my parents loft for 11 years - it migrated up there at the beginning of uni and obviously has come back into my possession. So I dusted it off and had a look inside, rather excited as to what I might find. What I did find is the collection in the top left of the above photo - An African greetings card, a postcard from Martin and Rosie in Zanzibar, a photo of Yohanna, Issac and Fredrick, and a picture of Grace and I making 'African Donuts'. These things are now just shy of 10 years old, which is a testament to where I was ten years ago and how far I have come.

In the box was a lot of elephant stuff - I am still waiting to see one in their natural habitat, but I love them all the same! I hope my children will have the same love for wildlife that I do and I hope that what I have collected will be good enough for them to keep (or just think 'crazy mum') in the future! The contents of the box is now something to keep - some of it has found it's way into my flat and on display, the rest is back in the box for me to squeal at in 10 years time!

I have thrown some things away. A birthday card I don't want any more and a letter or two. Stuff from holidays has stayed. And it looks like it is time to start collecting again!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Is honesty the best policy?

Several things I have read, written and spoken about in the past have often been said with real honesty, but in life honesty hurts.

I am fortunate that I have parents and grandparents who have taught me that honesty is a positive thing, something to learn from and that lying is discouraged. In that way a lie is caught out quickly and the conversation moves on.

Recently I have been thinking about the best way to share your honest opinion about something that your feel strongly about. Politicians, church leaders and others in prominent positions have been applauded for their honest opinion though sometimes, it has backfired completely. Through social media, you can be quick to share your opinion, often without a second thought about how it affects your friends/followers. Even in a well thought out document, the opinion of some has not sat well with society. There is honesty that is meant to provoke, people that decide controversy is the only way to be heard.

There is also honesty that is affirming and gathers a group of friends together in a common opinion. When that happens, when you agree to agree, love is easier.

Thinking about Biblical honesty, we've been set up to lie from the Fall - Adam and Eve were unable to hold their hands up and say 'it was me' when God asked. And thinking about Jesus, his honesty was measured, weighed and said - it hurt the religious leaders of the time, but he shows the truth through his actions.

We can see that honesty comes from feelings - frustration, pain, happiness, etc. Jesus is honest when he is asked a question, so following his example, I should be honest every time someone asks me question and talks to me, but I should also be considerate as I give my answers. Though sometimes, my hurt, pain, resentment, anger has gotten in the way of me answering graciously. I apologise for that, I have no excuses, I am responsible for my own actions, I am sorry if you know me and you have been hurt by my brutal honesty.

So is honesty the best policy? Yes, but a measured response is the way to go about it. It could save you a lot of hurt in the long run if you answer someone graciously, with God's heart, with love and with open-mindedness. Sometimes though, it does hurt and when it does, when it takes so much out of you that you feel like you need to give up and give in, that is the time to be considerate again, look at what you have said, how you felt and how to move on.

God's honesty translates into fierce love, He wants those that He has called to know He is in charge. It translates into a long journey of discovery and the chance over and over to say sorry, wipe the slate clean and work out what next.

I'm still figuring it out. I am far from perfect, far from understanding what is the best way to respond to what I have been told in most cases. How to be honest gracefully is hard to do, but with God's help, anything is possible!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Verity

The wonderful young lady I have watched grow up for the last 19 years is currently having an adventure in Africa. I wish I had been more prepared this year than just to let her go and be on her own for a year. I wish I had seen her in her new home, been there to look after her when she was ill and celebrate with her as God does wonderful things for her and the people she is working with.

Yesterday she wrote a blog about death, and I can't tell you how proud I am of the adult she has become. You can read her blog about her African adventure here. It's been a development of every kind. The first week was a blur really, if you could hear Verity talk, you would have trouble keeping up and she blogged in the same way, but since then things have become slower and more calculated, which is better for everyone! She still writes letters with no punctuation however!

Her latest blog is just heart-wrenching, but true to the core that God has hold of every child she has seen in the last year.

I can't wait until she gets back, we only have 6 weeks left and then I want to see her off to Uni, spreading the Gospel and finding her feet back here. I can't say with any certainty that God will keep her here, but I hope she'll stay long enough to share her story with the church in Billericay and England...

As for me, I am preparing for all sorts of questions and fun times as SOLID and the summer are racing before me. There are meetings galore (I am 'out' for potentially 10 nights in a row!) and every opportunity to share the gospel with the young people I work with. For the next half an hour I am going to be putting together a prayer list for the church for the summer, which includes the names for the 26 young people who have decided to come to SOLID this year.

I am so immensely proud of all of the young people I work with and all of the adults too. For such a time as this and in such a place as this. Billericay is changing, the generations are changing, dare I say turning to God?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Thoughts on Schools Work

I think a lot, about things that need thought and about things that don't even need a moment, yet sometimes consume me.

I have been thinking a lot about church, family, kingdom and school. About how I am in a hugely privileged to have a good job, that I am passionate about, and a bunch of people around me who seem to be on the same page as me for the most part!

As a team we have been talking about Schools Work - about passing the baton and encouraging the transition time to be a really positive one for a lot of our year six children and also about how we can reach secondary school pupils. We run a lunch time group for anyone to come along to, and recently thoughts have turned to how we can encourage the Christians at school and how we can model kingdom living to those who don't know Christ (and subsequently, life focuses on other things).

As with a few work things recently, Youth Work Magazine and Youth Work The Summit have provided articles and ideas to encourage me, though that the same time have I have asked the question 'how on earth do they know what is going on in my head?'. It seems I am not alone in my thoughts that the church needs to work on it's inter-generational relationships (that is one for another time) and also on the Christian Unions that seem to be happening around the country.

The article about Christian Unions (they haven't updated the website, so I can't link to it) was very positive - linking to things I already know about - alpha, prayer spaces in school and the project that the writer works with, The Pais Project. It is an interesting take on how to encourage the Christians in our local schools - but actually, if we live in a post-Christian society (well done for catching on to this), Christians are few and far between. So gathering them together in a school context is brilliant and they can help change their school, through prayer, projects of their own and in other ways that are suggested by the writer. But in a Post-Christian Society our relationships are often with non-Christians who don't understand the faith that we cling to dearly, they can't see the difference between those who have a faith (whatever religion) and those who don't, and often don't look beyond what is directly in front of them - which is often the phone or tablet in their hand (sometimes it is a book!).

This is where my thoughts become questions, some of which have been answered by some insightful people, others have to be discussions that we have started with the team that I work with.

How do we reach the students that are disaffected? Those who don't want to be in education any more.
How do we encourage those that are right on the cusp of making a decision?
How do we get young people to interact with adults, after they've put their phone away?
How do we work within a context of ignorance and hostility? Often a place where spiritually dark questions are asked.
How do we address relationships that are unhealthy without being judgemental?
How do you reach those that were previously interested and you have not seen for a while?
How do you reach new students effectively? This final one stems from the feeling that year group assemblies are no longer as effective at spreading the message about youth groups, lunchtime clubs and the Gospel as they used to be.

So as you can see, in my essay-ness, that I have a lot of questions about what we are doing at the moment, all of it is being discussed and put into action where appropriate. I do have a problem with the way education is working at the moment though. So many of the year nine students I have seen are already doing work towards their G.C.S.E. exams. My heart screams 'Give them a break!', and that's before they have even started. What has happened to letting our children be children?

I am praying that their will be answers soon, that the September onslaught will not come too quickly, but will come in order that we can get things rolling in schools across Billericay. Most of all though, I want the young people who are in our town to have a chance to get to know Jesus and if they already do, to give them deeper roots, so that when they do step out in faith they don't fall over or get blown away by life!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Equal

I love conferences, I love spending time listening to people, I love spending time hearing what others have to say about things and then forming opinions of my own, that others may or may not agree with.

Equal is one of those conferences. It was women only - which was a good thing, what we heard during the day though, needs to be heard by everyone, church leaders, men and women, you get the picture.

I guess the main thing I got from it was to do with being a priestess rather than a princess. Women of my age have been spun a web of lies, that we should be damsels with long flowing hair, locked in a tower, waiting for a dashing young man to rescue us. But we shouldn't expect that a man shouldn't fight for us either. I already have my Prince, the head of my church, my faith and the man who I am following - so I am called to be a priestess of my faith, someone who leads, who people look to and given the opportunity I will share my story.

I don't always get it right, it is good to get it wrong sometimes. I have my own struggles which I can share with those around me. I am told lies that I don't need to believe. I am doing my job because I am called and equipped, not because I am rubbish. I should do what I am doing, and do it well.

I don't emasculate men by being strong and independent, nor by knowing what I want. If I were in a relationship with a God-fearing man, I would want us to be complete - two halves of a whole, with God at the centre. Making decisions together and following God's call for our lives. That takes a lot of hard work.

There's more, but I don't have my notes on me! More when I have thought about it some more.

24 hrs in A and E

Once again, we have been allowed access to the A and E department by Channel 4 and it has been great again. Love, loss and life seem to just be the order of the day really.

It has it's teary-eyed moments and the moments of disbelief as victims with exactly the same injuries appear over the time after one is injured in an horrific way.

Of course I have been tweeting about it with the #24hrsAE. If you haven't watched it, seriously, please do, you will be astounded by human nature.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

SSBIOY

Since September 1st 2011, I have been reading the Soul Survivor Bible in one year. Some times I have gone about it with the proper mindset, sitting quietly, reading slowly and talking to others about it. Other times I have done my own special brand of skim reading. I am behind at the moment, by about a week, nonetheless, I persevere and I want to keep on track as much as possible over the last 100 days, so that I finish with everyone else doing it this year. Here's hoping.

One thing I don't need to worry about it God speaking to me. The question you could ask is how can God speak to me if I am skim reading? Well, in His own way He does. yesterday evening, I read about 4 days in one go, which is a whole bit of Isaiah and all of Galatians, with Psalms and Proverbs thrown in for good measure.

So I was, for God's reasons, focused on Isaiah - and here's what happened from it.

I found the songs that my church dearly love and know well, from the 70's

How beautiful on the mountains
    are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
    who bring good tidings,
    who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
    “Your God reigns!”  Is 52:7


You will go out in joy
    and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
    will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
    will clap their hands.  Is 55:12


Both of the songs - Our God reigns and The Trees of the field, were written close together, you've got to wonder what God was doing in the UK at that time among worship leaders and if it still happens today?


The second thing was the prophecy of the servant of god, who I know as Jesus, you might disagree with me, but here it is and it excites me that the bigger picture is laid out before the people to see and that the hope of a Messiah is long standing. I am really excited that I get to share the bigger picture with all the young people. 


The third thing is something that has really spoken to me, and I probably needed it 10 days ago, instead of yesterday! Isaiah 54:1-8


“Sing, barren woman,
    you who never bore a child;
burst into song, shout for joy,
    you who were never in labour;
because more are the children of the desolate woman
    than of her who has a husband, ”
says the Lord.
“Enlarge the place of your tent,
    stretch your tent curtains wide,
    do not hold back;
lengthen your cords,
    strengthen your stakes.
For you will spread out to the right and to the left;
    your descendants will dispossess nations
    and settle in their desolate cities.
Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame.
    Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.

You will forget the shame of your youth
    and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.
For your Maker is your husband —
    the Lord Almighty is his name—

the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;
    he is called the God of all the earth.
The Lord will call you back
    as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit—
a wife who married young,
    only to be rejected,” says your God.
For a brief moment I abandoned you,
    but with deep compassion I will bring you back.

In a surge of anger
    I hid my face from you for a moment,
but with everlasting kindness
    I will have compassion on you,”
    says the Lord your Redeemer. 

The verses I have highlighted screamed at me as I read the verses. Knowing that God has me, he has called me his own, and he feels deep compassion for me is surprising, it's glorious to know. He has claimed me and will fight for me. Awesome.

And the last little bit is the armour of God, which reminds me that there is nothing new under the sun. 

He put on righteousness as his breastplate,
    and the helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on the garments of vengeance
    and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.  Is 59:17

As I read the end of Ephesians tonight, I will look back at Isaiah and see the parallels. God knows what he is doing. I don't, which is why I find this fascinating. I like the apostles were just saying the things that had already been said, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, they speak to us today.

I know God has a huge plan for everyone, for all of the young people I see, for those who I don't and for the town I work in. I love that I am 'skim reading' the Bible, that I don't need to study it to great depth, but it gives me great depth for free.

I have been thinking about roots, deep roots for the young people that I work with and how we can encourage them. I have also been thinking about generational things. I hope I will get a chance to report all of that soon. Now though, I have to get ready to see my young people perform at school.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Poetry

59 by Harry Baker - YouTube

This is where I have seen Harry Baker before... this is an awesome poem. Quirky and a good one!

I would really recommend that you seek him out and give him a go!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Youthwork Summit 2012 pt 2

Youthwork Summit « youthpastablog

Above is the link to a blog post from a man who was really engaged in the day overall. It is very much short pieces of what actually happened, but well worth the read if you were there and didn't get some of what was happening, it's also great if you weren't there and need to know in brief what happened, without reading transcripts or watching a days worth of youtube clips.

As for me, I have started the process of sifting my brain for bits and pieces about the day, those things that spoke to me, what went over my head and why, and how can I keep my young people in the picture as I think about how the future vision is for the youth work I do in Billericay?

I have started with a mind-map of all of the people that spoke and 2 or 3 words (sometimes a sentence if it struck me) of what was said during the 10 min talk. Then I moved on to what I thought could come from what was said. I managed to do the second bit really quickly as they have been the things on my mind since the summit, but also the things we are already doing and how that is developing the youth work. There is a picture on twitter of it if you click on the side bar and have a look at it! I will post it on here if I transfer the photos to my laptop.

So what does the youth work of Billericay need to look like in the future? What does the education of our young people need to look like? And how do we reach and teach the Gospel in a relevant way for those who have no sense of who God is and what God can do in their lives?

The day has already inspired me and will be gearing us up for all that is to come in the future of youth work. I hope I am doing this proper job, properly and that God is speaking to people through what i say and do.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Youthwork Summit 2012

Youthwork Summit 2013

This weekend - just the last 72 hours has been such a rollercoaster of emotions, I am hoping that once I have some time I can process everything that has happened and encourage those around me who were with and without me during the weekend.

I must say that I am very impressed with how it worked through the day, how well it was put together. It was great that the speakers were referring to each other - not by name, but by things that were said. It was gathered together and well balanced in everything. It was challenging, enlightening and I was just pleased to be there, having missed out twice before.

We're considering next year at the moment (do I make it compulsory for those I work with?) and how the things that we have heard play into what we are doing.

I know I am not the only one who is wondering, I am grateful for those who are going through the same thing at the moment. I desperately want to share with everyone what needs doing, and how to say that will be up to God!

So pray that everything that has happened will be fruitful!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Getting it right

After yesterday's late night rumblings, something else has been bugging me today. I asked a question on Twitter and as yet, I have one response, but that's what a question that is 140 characters can do. It can stump some people...

So the question I asked was this 

How do you feel about going 'beyond the call of duty'?
Does volunteering for things outside of your remit make you a workaholic or a good church member?

As a youth worker, employed by the church, the lines between work and volunteering are somewhat blurred... because as a young person/adult most of my volunteering has been done with church.

Working with young people over 11 in any setting within the parish and with the banner of my church flying, is work... as is doing youth work with other churches taking the lead, but I'm also a Brownie leader for a pack with the church's name, which most people would count as volunteering, but because I am employed, it becomes work and I can count it as my hours for the week.

However, there are things that do count as volunteering, but are in my place of work i.e. moving chairs, cleaning etc. So my volunteering - being the first/last in the building gets labelled 'beyond the call of duty' when really, it is just the normal thing to do, I am fortunate enough to have a job that has flexible hours, so that allows me to do things that those that also have flexible hours/don't work/are retired can do.

So when I do volunteer, I have a sense that I am just being a good church member, I am looking after the building that the young people come into, that people from the outside see, I like the building I worship in, why would I not want to look after it an make it look really presentable? 

Does it make me a workaholic? Probably not, I think if I were filling my time with finding youth and church events to go to, I would be, probably, very annoying to some of my colleagues! 

With everything, it is a balance, when you have clear lines to cross, it becomes easier to say 'no' to things, to guard your time and protect your passions. When I worked for the council I couldn't wait to get home... now I miss the people I work with, I still struggle to get up in the mornings, but for the most part, I come home happy.

What are your thoughts?