Monday, December 09, 2013

Operation Christmas Child Visit

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

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Day 5 Soul Survivor 2013

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 19, 2013

Soul survivor 2013!

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

"I turned around and you were there."

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


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

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

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

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

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

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

Did I mention I get hugely sentimental? 

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

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Weekend thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Growing in faith 2 & 3

I didn't blog about the second session, because I was letting it sink in and things do get busy! Part of my previous post comes from session 2 and what Bishop Zack said. He spoke about how being safe in Europe is a huge problem for Christianity. Everything that he said is jumbled on my page, but he spoke about the idols that we have - the things we believe in that stop us from being true followers. Four things - religion, church, safety and security, youthfulness. The ultimate idol is 'me' which is a message, according to Bishop Zack, that the church and society sell to the individual. His closing message was about a bucket and an ocean - you're the bucket and Jesus is the ocean. So when the bucket is thrown into the ocean, is the ocean in the bucket or the bucket in the ocean? Is Christ in your or are you in Christ?

Season 3 was Simon Ponsonby and he spoke on Romans 7:22-23. He has four points too (starting to think I might construct my next talk like this).
1. Warfare is the way of the believer - once you have said you believe, the Devil will highlight every sin.
2. The battle ground is within yourself - and every day you need to recognise that fact (which is something the Bishop of Bradwell said tonight 'We need conversion every day')
3. The battle scars are mine - you have to take personal responsibility for your sin. It is yours and you have to care about it, because that draws you closer to God, but God is at work through all of it!
4. The battle cry is Thanks be to God! All of this, in all the sin, God has the glory, Christ's is the victory!

Finally, he talked about Christoph Blumhardt, who prayed a simple prayer over a girl who was possessed by an evil spirit

'Lord, we have seen what the devil can do, now what can you do?'

Christ has defeated death, his is the victory and we need to stand in that hope! Nothing is lost if we have Christ. One more bible passage

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:28, 38, 39 NIV)

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Challenge

What would my conversations look like if God was in all of them?

Today I have been greatly encouraged to be more of who I am. In fact, this week has been really affirming, despite less time being spent 'at work' than normal.

So the challenge is to talk about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit more often... this comes from a personal frustration of not hearing it in my own conversations or in the conversation of some around me.

I don't have the answer, really, but I am going to attempt it - perhaps subtly, trying not to get drawn into those things that the world talks about and begin to discuss the nature, character, power of God... I am wondering if that's all it needs. I don't want to debate theology, but speak truth and life to people.

Any ideas?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Stand conference

I have been using the blogger app for the iPhone and it doesn't automatically save posts. I have just lost 35 mins of writing! Grr! I had a lovely long, poetic story about being at a conference for 20's and 30's on Saturday, something really heartfelt, but tech and human error have let me down (all because I am so used to saying 'no' when asked for permission for something).

So here is the abridged version, because I don't have 35 mins to write you another post!

Stand is amazing, it's a connection made through an email from my vicar, it is something that I am so happy about being connected to, and a place where I can see the growth and the need.

20's and 30's specific in and out reach is vital for the sustainability of the church. In because there is a strange lack of understanding the Bible, faith and the Holy Spirit and out for, well, the same reasons! I am privileged that this is already happening where I live, and has been growing for over a year.

Stand conference was a very well don 'in' event, the worship was brilliant and the teaching from Lin Button was astonishing! Two things that struck me

'God is fond of me' I am loved, I am cherished and I should not believe the lies that are told to me by the world. Being a strong and confident, blessed young woman is important and understanding God's calling or purpose is important too.

At the end of time, as the new heaven and earth are created, I will get a new name. It's somewhere in revelation, but I am excited about that, and God spoke so clearly about a new name for now that I wrote it down and won't forget it for a long time! What he wants to do with it, I have no clue, so I will keep on asking.

If you're involved in 20's and 30's work, either in or out, get in touch and let's get connected!

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Les Miserables

Today I went to the cinema with my friend Susie to see Les Miserables. After much planning and missing several opportunities, due to family and work commitments (and not booking early enough for one showing), I finally made it! Can you see that the drama has already got me?

It was a really good. I want to see it again. For me, there wasn't a stand out performance, though it must've been awesome to be a part of it. All of those people singing on a massive stage! It really does make me want to see it in the west end too.

The cinematography was brilliant, really well done and makes you think about production (I am a 'how did they do that?' girl) and I also spotted a glaring continuity problem! It was not hard to miss and distracted me loads from what was going on.

There is a lot if death, and a lot of misery, and it didn't move me as much as I thought it would. Hugh Jackman annoyed me with his warble, which is a shame, because he is a cracking all-round actor.

The theme if forgiveness is really strong, and leaves me wondering what exactly happened to France for it to become a place where wearing a cross causes so much uproar. Also asking what the church has become/will become in the future. Strange I know, but it is a thing that I have been thinking about. How do we serve those on the margins of society?

Anyway, I will sit and wonder a while, and see which songs I already own!

P.S. general public - if you know a movie might make you sniffly, please bring a tissue with you, everyone loves someone blowing there nose so much more than your sniffling!!

Monday, January 28, 2013

It's an Alpha adventure

If you haven't heard or caught on, I'm going to be running an Alpha Course from Thursday evening. I am starting to get nervous about it, but at the same time, I am incredibly excited for the future of Alpha and where it will lead us. I could be running a second one before we know it, for more young people who have heard about it, but we will see!

Please pray with me, for me and for the young people that will encounter God!

I am going home to pray and eat!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Growing in faith week 1

Whilst my boss watches the tennis on the big screen and the band practices to lead worship in about 30 minutes, I will fill you in on what I thought of Growing inFaith, which is my churches response to the Transforming Presence document from the Bishop of Chelmsford.

Last Wednesday we gathered altogether for coffee and tea before watching Francis Chan, and his talk a out what God looks like and how we talk to him. I have heard plenty of people talk about the book of Revelation, some with passion (Mike Pilavichi) and some with fear (can't remember who!) but it hadn't struck me in awesomeness. Francis Chan said so much that I can't possibly mention all of it.

What is your picture of God? Is it a big man on a cloud who looks a little bit like Western Jesus, just a bit greyer? Or is it like the beginning of Revelation? Read chapter one, 12-17 slowly, and tell me what you think! Read the whole of chapter four, slowly and tell me if your picture changes?

We love in a society, Francis Chan says, that has the notion, has grown up with the idea that 'God is whoever you want him to be', which means we have watered him down, we have used words that don't do God justice. God says 'I AM' and nations fall to the ground, yet we wander into his presence and really don't take it seriously.

How are you coming to God? With the fear of the creatures who cry "Holy, Holy, Holy" or with absent mindedness and your shopping list on your mind? What is scripture teaching you about God?

Paul says in 1 Tim 6v16 that Jesus 'lives in unapproachable light' and that the honour should be to him forever! That's amazing! Yes, we are called to a relationship with Jesus, and the great thing is that we can go to him, and he will stand in the father's presence and petition on our behalf. God is holy, his name is holy and we shouldn't water it down at all.

After listening to Francis Chan, we were split into groups, for discussions about what we had just heard. Some excellent ideas and praying for each other came out of time in small groups, also some issues that we are praying about.

We sang at the beginning and end as well, which was encouraging for me!

Overall, I really enjoyed it and now I am sat in Church seeing how Wednesday night has affected some already and hoping that it will spread like wild fire.

It's Sunday and I'm looking forward a busy but lovely week. One passage keeps cropping up in my life, which I will stick to for the next couple of weeks... Ephesians 3:14-21

Friday, January 25, 2013

London a Capella festival

Today I went to the only festival I will go to this year, unless something major happens in my life and I start to like drinking and camping at the same time...

I spent 5 hours at King's Place, soaking up so much music! I have seen several choirs, the whole range of professionalism! Let me tell you all about them...

Rajaton are a Finnish vocal group who have been working hard since 1997. They are amazing and funny too. This is no glee show, their vocal compositions had us stood on our feet as they finished. I could not fault them and I will be finding out when they are next in the country.

We had lots of Finnish songs, some English and one Italian. Their great sense of humour meant they introduced an ABBA song as a 'Swedish folk song', which turned out to be Fernando!! Have a listen if go can or a watch!
They sung about death, with a lot of humour, and talked about how good they are at Eurovision! We had the 1989 entry from Finland. Being in London, they wanted to sing a Beatles song, so lots of dancing to Lady Madonna kept us entertained! They finished with 'under pressure' which was restored to something far better than the original! The six members of the group each had something to say about the songs, and everyone agreed that 'Butterfly' was their favourite and it's easy to see why... 3 men and 3 women who clearly have talent that is boundless... Which is what Rajaton means!

The choir of Clare College, Cambridge were first up, though Rajaton left a bigger impression on me. They sung in a variety of languages and as a 20-30 strong choir, they are very good. Being choral, they don't have a lot of expression as a choir, but they are amazing anyway! It was hard to follow without a programme and the director/conductor got his church calendar wrong.

Anyway, I have had an amazing evening!!! Looking forward to the next one!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Blue Monday

Today apparently is 'Blue Monday' - far enough from the last pay day but not close enough to the next one!

For me, today has been far from blue. Meetings galore, but all the fun of networking and future planning for Alpha and The Living Room! I'm not done yet, so we'll see how the final meeting of the day goes.

I never promised to blog more in 2013, but I do feel guilty that we're 21 days in and you've not heard anything from me. It's been all different sorts of busy - I have been busy doing nothing and busy working hard. It has been nice to have a really good balance to the year and being able to look at the diary, it seems like I'll have a really good year!

It's lovely to tell you that, if you didn't already know, I will have an amazing man by my side, and hopefully for a very long time. Ray has been a good friend for a very long time and now, after much pursuing, and a lot of courage, we're a very happy couple.

One day I will tell you all how it happened, but for now, know that one reason why I am not blogging, is because I have someone to share a lot of my life with!