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

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.