Saturday, 29 December 2012

Waiting for Sunrise

The night isn't black. It is filled with all sorts of different colours, blues, greens, oranges, purples, pinks... virtually the entire spectrum. I learnt this in Art lessons at school when the teacher forbade us to use black when painting a night time skyline. I looked at the night time differently after that. I began to see the blues, and the oranges and the beauty of it. The shimmering of the stars, the glow of the moon, even the shadows of the clouds. It was all different. It became something a little less scary. (That's right I am a little afraid of the dark)

I think of how pain and sorrow are often described as "darkness" or "night"... like the lyrics "There maybe pain in the night but joy comes in the morning." I believe that even though things can seem bleak and even though you might feel hopeless and alone, the night need not be as intimidating or isolating as it seems. Pain teaches us lessons and builds our strength. It shows us who our real friends are and teaches us to value life and its happier times. These happier times show us that we can get through the tough ones, that there is always hope and always something to hold on for.

The "darkness," however, can be a very real and a very frightening place. It can make you feel cold, isolated and alone, even if you're surrounded by those most precious to you. It can make you introspective and despairing. It can make you feel small and insignificant. The pain can destroy you if you let it. It breaks your heart and forces loneliness upon you. It can make you feel like you're clutching at straws just to hold on. And that feels horrible. It feels lonely.

I seek help and solace in Jesus. He is my strength when I have none. He is my rock when I am simply sand, being washed away with the tides. Yes, I still feel low sometimes, and yes it is difficult to feel happy sometimes, but I have a hope. And as long as that hope exists, I can see the beauty within the night. I can begin to seek the colour and the brightness of the skies, as I wait for sunrise, rather than the bleakness of the dark and the cold which seem to trap me.

Friday, 28 December 2012

For You...

I never planned this. I never knew it would happen. I didn't know I'd like that smile. I didn't know you'd make me simultaneously happy and infuriated. I didn't know I'd end up doing casual. I didn't know I could do casual. Maybe I can't. Part of me wants to take the risk. But we know the cost. That hopeful little heart of mine just whispers "maybe it'll work." We know the gamble. It's just too big. But do I regret it? Not even a little bit. Maybe you really are "just that good."

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Forgiveness vs Revenge

Time changes us. The experiences we have shape us. The friends we make mould our hearts. Life teaches us some of the most important lessons we'll ever learn.

One of the lessons I am learning at the moment, is that of forgiveness. It's a work in progress and it takes time. I never used to think it was easy, but this time it seems harder than ever. Trying to define how forgiveness is better than revenge is difficult when sometimes that's all you really want.

Revenge twists the heart. It holds on to the pain and lets it shape your future. It stops your heart from healing and allows it to shrink and grow bitter. It allows you to hate and to hate those around you. It allows you to keep hurting. It causes mistakes to become catastrophes. It causes more pain than it heals. Is it really worth that for a moment's satisfaction?

Forgiveness is hard. It means letting go of the pain. It means trusting that you can heal and move on. It means not allowing pain to prevent you from loving and trusting again. It is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength, of defiance. By learning to forgive, you are saying that you fight it. That you can get up from whatever has knocked you down. That by learning to find joy and love again, your heart can heal and learn to love even more than before, because you understand the cost of forgiveness.

Revenge is burning the bridges and building indestructible walls. It is losing everything and gaining nothing.

Forgiveness is the beginning of rebuilding something broken and it allows us safety and hope. While we need walls to defend ourselves, we need bridges to let people in. Despite the damage our mistakes make, it's also the people I love most who make me feel like I can cope with whatever life throws at me.

Forgiveness. It's difficult but I am getting there.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

"Send"

There are times when your desires far outweigh your rationality, times when, even though you know something is a terrible idea, the decision doesn't sit easily because you want it more than you care about the consequences. I can spend days or even weeks debating over something, but I send myself round in circles. It always ends with my rational brain saying "No that's a terrible idea, there's nothing to say" as my tiny hoping little heart just whispers "Do it, if it happened once it can happen again, and it maybe better this time." It's the part of us that hopes, that maybe this time things will be different, maybe this time things will change, and maybe this time they can make me happy.

Hope is a powerful thing, and and it can both help repair the wounded heart, but also bruise and break it once again. The dictionary defines hope as "something to be wished for with the expectation/ confidence of its fulfilment." I think so often today, we hope but that hope isn't necessarily followed with the expectation of its fulfilment. We just tell ourselves that it might be possible, that the possibility of change, of something good or better is simply enough to put our hearts into it and invest ourselves. But should we really invest something as valuable and fragile as our hearts on something as uncertain as HOPE? Furthermore, are we confusing hope with desire?

Desire is defined as something which you "wish or long for," that is it. There is no expectation of fulfilment, no kind of certainty or confidence attached to it at all, simply a wish. Too often we invest our hearts in what we desire and I believe that too often we confuse hope with desire. We keep our hearts in a situation because we want it to improve, we want it to be different to before. But there is no evidence that it actually maybe different, it is simply our hearts saying but "I want this, let me hope," even when your head perhaps knows that you need to take your heart out of it, even when your head knows that the wish for more is hurting your heart and that hope is a different thing altogether because it requires an expectation and a confidence that things can work.

In my life, the only true hope I have is in Jesus. It's a hope greater than anything else and one which I have the confidence and expectation to be fulfilled. I trust my heart will not be broken by it, because all who believe in him will be given eternal life and the knowledge that those whose hope is in him will not be disappointed.

So, next time I want to press that "send" button, I have to trust that the hope I have in Christ for something better outweighs the short-lived and destructive desire of the present. It is difficult, but no-one said looking after your heart was easy, otherwise you wouldn't have to "guard" it.

Monday, 26 November 2012

10 Things I Miss...


1. I miss my family.

2. I miss my dog.

3. I miss my friends.

4. I miss horse riding.

5. I miss hugs from my parents after a difficult day.

6. I miss the walks along the Downs to clear my head.

7. I miss home cooked food.

8. I miss my bed.

9. I miss you.

10. I miss how we could spend hours together eating cake, and talking and never be bored.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Lists.

There are things I want to change. Better teeth, clearer skin, thinner body, cooler hair, better clothes... the list goes on. In fact sometimes this list consumes me. The list of "little things" I'd like to change becomes that big list of pretty much everything... until I get to the point where I am effectively wanting to change myself. Not just the little things in my appearance, but the personality traits that make me who I am. It's no longer just the not quite perfect teeth, or the slightly outdated clothes... but that annoying thing where I don't stop talking, or the tendency to fall over air, or the thing where I have very blonde moments. I don't want to have any of those things any more. I want to change. I want to be different. I want to be something else, someone else. Anyone else. Maybe then you'll like me. Maybe then I'll be acceptable. Maybe then I can be the person that someone else wants. I look for ways to make myself desirable, acceptable and better. I assume that as myself I can never be any of those things.

But how do you know that you aren't attractive? How do you know that the things you see as weakness or embarrassing, someone else doesn't find endearing? What you see is not the same thing that others see. It's definitely not the same thing that God sees... he sees beauty and treasure. He sees someone who is precious and loved and worth everything.

Sometimes though, it isn't as simple as "knowing" that you don't need to change, but it is also something you have to believe. Once you believe that as yourself you are enough, you gain a new kind of confidence and reassurance that others may lack. No amount of friends saying that you're fine is enough to convince and enough to prevent the creation of a destructive "to do list" of things to change. I know that Jesus loves me as I am and I know that what I might see as serious flaws others see as something relateable and human. But sometimes I have difficulties actually believing this truth. How do you know that you aren't the one people look at and think "I wish I was like her..."? I know, it's hard for me to believe too. I can't imagine anyone thinking that, but I believe I was made like this for a reason.

It's as much my "battle scars" and life experiences that make me who I am, as well as my strengths. Why should I change that, when it makes me human? And although tragic and messed up, humanity is beautiful. We laugh and love and live and hope. We are capable of creating more beauty than the heart can imagine and we feel and express emotion like no other species can. There is so much beauty in the human race that if changing myself stops me from being human, then I don't want to do that. I don't want to lose that beauty.

So next time you wish you were her, next time you wish you could change things and next time you think it's your fault... remember that you are amazing and keep your head held high, because you never know who is falling for you. Because I know I wouldn't want my friends to be anyone else. And now I would always choose being human over being perfect.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Everyone Needs Friends



You are the ones who live with my insanity. You are the people who make me laugh on a daily basis, the ones who don't let the bad days stay bad, the ones who can raise a smile even when I want to cry. You are the people who I can spend hours with and never be bored. You are the ones who I can not see for a couple of days and it feels like months. You are the people whose opinions I value and whose friendship means the world to me. You are the people who know me so well that my silence worries you. You put up with my constant chatter and more than occasional immaturity. You are the people I want to be racing along streets on my mobility scooter with, the people I want to be sat in armchairs with, drinking tea and cackling like the loonies we are when I am old and grey. You are the people I'd be lost without.


In short there are 6 words: You are awesome. I love you.

Friday, 2 November 2012

It's the little words...

I miss you. I love you. I trust you. These are 3 of the hardest phrases for me to say. I have asked myself countless numbers of times why they are so difficult to say aloud. I mean all of them are 3 words, and 3 syllables, which take merely seconds to speak. They are simply conjugated present tense verbs.They use some of the simplest language in existence.

In spite of this, the thought of uttering these words fills me with a strange kind of fear. My stomach flips, my palms sweat, a million thoughts run through my head and my heart thuds like a drum. This is because when these three words are said they reveal something from the heart, something from the centre of our very being.  They make us vulnerable because we are showing a desire or a need for someone, without knowing if they feel the same. We are trusting them to look after and nurture us, to return that desire. The heart is a precious thing, and to admit a desire or a need for someone is to show vulnerability and it opens us up to being bruised, beaten and wounded. In that sense, to say "I miss you" or "I love you" or "I trust you", you are taking a huge leap of faith and a huge chance.

If these words are spoken and they are reciprocated, respected and nurtured then something beautiful can blossom. You can have a relationship born out of love, hope, respect, honesty, loyalty and trust. It can be something lasting and something meaningful. It can be something where even when things are difficult and you feel dragged down by the world, you can be secure in the knowledge that you are loved and that you are safe. The heart blooms. It becomes whole. This is one of the most precious things in the world.

As soon as these words are misused, misplaced and overlooked, pain is created. The vulnerability seems more like a weakness. It seems more like a disadvantage. What was courage before, now appears to be stupidity, and what was made to be reciprocated turns messy. It wounds you and although wounds heal, they leave scars. You learn not to trust. You learn not to let your heart be seen by a soul. You learn that any kind of vulnerability is ugly. That it is weak. So you cover it.

This is why I, and so many of us, when times get hard, struggle to trust Jesus. We judge Him on human terms, on the imperfections of ourselves and knowing the power that the words of others have had on us we shy away. We forget that God LOVES us. He only wants the best for us and he will never misuse and hurt us. He is there to piece together our brokenness, not to inflict more upon us. It is something I need to remind myself of constantly. I need Jesus. I would have nothing without Him. He has taught me to love and to trust again. To not be so afraid of being vulnerable, because in Him I have strength.

Never underestimate the power of your words. They have the power to create something truly amazing, or to bring about utter devastation. So, mean what you say and say what you mean, because the human heart is a precious and fragile thing.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Sorry.

Recently "sorry" has been tumbling from my lips as easily as water from a tap. Everyone has habitual phrases/words which pepper their speech and conversation, and worryingly, "sorry" and "it's so bad..." are just a couple of mine.

I say worryingly because most of the time I am apologising when I have done nothing wrong. I have apologised for other people's mistakes, I have apologised for things I cannot control, like the weather (?!) and I have apologised for simply being me.

Psalm 139 tells me I am fearfully and wonderfully made. God put me here for a purpose and he knew every part of me before I even existed. He knows everything I will ever do and has made me the way I am for a reason. The Bible also says that we are made in the image of God. God is perfect. Therefore, how can he have created us to be anything less than wonderful?

When we believe ourselves to be inadequate, broken, ugly, unlovable, surely we are going against what the bible says about God and his love for us? Surely we are questioning the creator? We forget our security, and that our identity is not formed and found in the opinions of the world, but in the opinions of Jesus.

So next time you feel the word "sorry" about to roll off the tongue, ask yourself why you're apologising, and remember that you were perfectly formed and are made to be you for a reason.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Who am I?

"Know who you are. Know what you stand for."

I am Helen. I stress about nothing. I wear more nail varnish than I should. I nearly always wear makeup. I value the opinions of others more than I should. I let myself fall too easily. I am a sucker for a cute smile. I can be extremely superficial. I love writing. I want to make a difference. I will never be skinny. I find it hard to stop talking. I am like a magpie when it comes to bright colours. I love my friends. My family are precious to me. I horseride. I play tennis. I am a Christian. I have never been a rebel and I probably never will be. I fear failure. Downton Abbey is my guilty pleasure. I love Jesus. I am always going to be in awe of what he did for me. And I will always need him.

I stand for Jesus. I live for Him and Him alone. He has given me hope and life and freedom that I have never known before. I want to imitate Him through my actions and through my relationships. I know that I am imperfect, and that I cannot get through life on my strength alone, but that through Christ I am made perfect and I am made whole. I do not need to seek approval from those who will never give it and I don't need to seek acceptance from those who will constantly reject me. I stand for values getting lost today; I stand for love and hope and courage. I want to love what is good, hate what is bad, trust those who are loyal and keep my heart guarded against those who could steal it.

That is who I am.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

"If My Heart Was a House You'd be Home"

If My Heart Was a House, Owl City
Some people say home is where the heart is. I didn’t used to understand this. It was just something people said. But now I believe it, and it gets more true every day.
“Home”. It is a word often used in positive descriptions, and it’s often associated with happy memories. I am lucky enough that home creates feelings of love, comfort, security and happiness. I think of my parents who have been there through everything and who love me unconditionally. I think of my sister who I love to pieces, and who I always learn something from. I miss her when I am not at home, and frankly if she could come to uni with me I would love it. I think of my mad little Jack Russell, Tilly who is always there to welcome me home, happy and bouncy. I think of my house, the walls which tell the tale of growing up, good days, bad days and generally average days. I think of the marks in the doorway made when my sister and I were measured after our growth spurts and the creaks in the floor boards when you walk down the corridor. Each home tells a story, one of pain, pleasure, ups and downs. And when a home plays such a major part in your life, how can it not capture your heart?
But in today’s society, the meaning of the word “home” is becoming distorted. A word which should conjure positive emotions is instead doing the opposite. More and more, people are trying to escape their home because it has hurt them. Home has become a poisonous, dangerous word and something which should be avoided. It is no longer a place of belonging and security, but of instability and rejection.
Bearing this in mind, where does that put the church? As a place which so often uses “home” and family metaphors to describe it and the relationship its people have with God, is its future in danger? Does this make church simultaneous with the places one tries to escape from? Does that make God the same father figure who inflicts pain? Does this mean church drives out stability and acceptance? Is church, therefore, a place where battles rage and peace seems miles off? How do we keep people coming to church and being part of it when we have to wrestle with its negative connotations?
I believe, that as a part of the church and as the children of God, it is more important than ever to demonstrate the true meaning of “home” and “family” through our actions. We need to show it in the way we welcome new people into church, and in the way we accept and love them unconditionally. We show “home” through the security we have in Christ and his word, and through the way we honour one another; not just on a Sunday morning, but in our daily lives too. More than ever the world is crying out for help. It is crying out for love. As people of God who know the unconditional love and security faith brings, we need to stand for the values which seem to be getting lost in today’s world, where it is often every man for himself.
This was talked about on a Sunday at my church. This is their vision for the future, to make church a home again, not just a house. To make church a place of unconditional love and acceptance instead of judgement and coldness as it has been in the past, and all too often in the present.  My heart is with Jesus, and to be a part of a church where I can celebrate his love and mercy with others who feel the same way is amazing, it truly is coming home.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Lessons Learned, Wishes Made...

Photo taken by Matthew Morton
This summer has been incredible. I have been lucky enough to visit 3 countries in 4 months, meet some incredible people and learn that God's plans can be crazy and wild and untameable. And while this is daunting, it's crazy exciting and I am learning to desire adventure. This summer has also given me some vital reminders and new desires. Below I have listed some of them. I hope they don't bore you!

1. Since I have been saved, my life has become something amazing, something precious and something worth fighting for. It has become something which is no longer my own but given to Jesus. I am His and he is mine. Forever. 

2. I love Jesus and I fall deeper every day. 

3. I am spending more and more of my time with wonderful inspirational people of God who I can talk to for hours, and more often than not we can simply end up being in awe of Jesus and talking about the amazing things he has done in our lives, and speculate with excitement about what he has planned for our futures. I love that. It is amazing. I treasure these conversations.

4. I am realising that often, the most precious memories are made in the most ordinary moments.

5. Patience really is a virtue... but asking God for more of it, means being put in situations which require it.

6. I cannot wait to be back at uni.

7. I want to be fierce. I want to be wild and crazy for God. I want to have the tenacity to persevere until my prayers are answered.

8. I want the courage to step out and obey God.

9. I want to be a better imitation of Christ and his love.

10. And most of all I want to always keep the knowledge of God's love and power locked in my heart and running like blood through my veins.


Monday, 10 September 2012

Mission Statement

September. It is a strange time of year; the end of the summer and the start of something new. The end of a heady, happy few months and the beginning of a sober minded school/college/uni year. Some years the transition is simply one of school year, but other times like GCSE or post a-levels, it is a time of huge change and adjustment. For me this September is very different to every other one. Last year I was heading off to a brand new place, 4 hours away from home and I was terrified. This year I am heading back to that place, which I learnt to call a home and no longer seems alien and scary. But I am also experiencing the joys of being in a proper house, with new house mates and a new year at uni. I think at this point in life, most people get asked the question "what do you want to do?" or "what is your aim?". My answer is simply that I do not know.

However, in terms of our relationship with God, wherever he sends us and wherever he calls us to (even if you don't know that yet) He calls us all to a common thing: to live out the gospel in our lives. That is our ultimate goal as Christians, to be perfect imitations of Christ. Of course we know none of us are perfect, but this is where we humble ourselves and allow God to make up our weakness with his strength.

As a "woman of God" I believe an important part of my mission, is to change society's perception of beauty. Someone wrote for me once, that I am called to "rest in the beauty that God has given me, and to redefine beauty," so it can be that which God sees: beauty which is seen in the very heart of worship and the very knowledge of the Truth and the confidence which comes with that. It is so easy to overlook the heart, and become obsessed with outward appearances, and outward measures of who we are in Christ. When in fact, God can see into our very souls and he delights in us. He calls us his children, and has so much more love for us than we can ever know. As a people of God, we are chosen and called to not just "know" this truth, but to delight in it, and live with the confidence it brings. After all, God's "Perfect love casts out fear." 1John 4:18. And that is what our society's obsession with measures of appearance and success are rooted in: fear of rejection, fear of failure, and fear of being unloved. If we could live out the truth we know, then we would be a stark contrast to the harsh measures that society imposes, and real beacons for God.

So, in short, my ultimate aim is to live out the truth that saved me, every day for the rest of my life.I am aiming high, but I know with my God anything is possible. After all, with Jesus, every day is an adventure filled with infinite possibilities!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Measures


In life, it’s so easy to lose sight of what matters,
Objects, pleasure, jewels and treasure,
They are offered up on a silver platter,
Their accumulation, worth and weight,
These all become our measures.

Objects measure our strength,
Cast onto our shoulders as loads for a donkey,
Then pushed onwards but not upwards, and to what ends?
To gain more, but why? When it will only make us fall.
We hit the dirt and the silver is tarnished.

Pleasure measures our loyalty,
It calls out to us like a siren in a storm,
And from the dirt we respond as if it’s royalty,
Bowing to its captivating beauty, but never seeing its true form,
For pleasure, once sought, quickly becomes pain,
And we are only loyal while we have something to gain.

Jewels measure our beauty,
And in their rich colours and perfect lines,
We catch a glimpse of perfection,
And we feel it our duty to chase that beauty,
But when the colours fade and we bend, then break,
We are reduced to flesh, and once more abandoned to the earth.

But love measures our heart,
It sees its depths and reaches far beyond its dreams,
It chases the truth and is patient right from the start,
Love fills oceans, and flows through the streams,
Which wash the dirt from our clothes and unite us in peace,
With our Lord and maker, our God the creator.
Helen Rambaut
4.09.2012

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Heart vs Mind

The heart can do strange things to us. It can send us through a rollercoaster of emotions, make us feel physically ill, and yet totally euphoric. How is it possible that something so small, is such an essential part of us? It plays its part in our relationships, our emotions and of course, it keeps us living. Even when we feel like the voice of our heart maybe killing us.

Then you have the mind. Brilliantly logical, inexplicably clever, and yet it can twist our perspectives and turn the table on our emotions in seconds. It is also essential to keeping us alive. It is linked to every single part of our body, including the heart and yet the two things can be in complete contradiction to each other. The body amazes me and the power of the mind and the passion of the heart amaze me more still.

During my time in Montpellier I had a revelation of love, and what it means. I had once again begun to believe that love didn't hold a lot of power and that it was an overused word, thrown around by hopeless romantics like myself. I was taking love for granted. I am reminded of the passage in 1 Corinthians. It was read out at my Grandma's funeral a couple of years ago, and I think of her when I hear it. She was gentle, kind and loving, but she was also fiery, passionate and independent. She was by no means a wishy-washy soppy Christian, but a strong woman of God who took no rubbish from anyone, and treated everyone with love and respect. I also used to think that the passage made love sound soppy, but actually if you consider the qualities of love, it is something remarkable and extremely powerful.

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."    1 Corinthians 13:4-8
 How many times have you been impatient? How many times have you let pride get in the way? How many times have you held onto what others have done wrong? How many times have you found pleasure in someone else's pain? How many times have you been hurt by someone you love? I read these few verses and I realise that I have probably been all of the things that love is not. I realise that if I have love, then these characteristics will come too. And there is immense power in that. The power is the ability to see past fear, failure, imperfection and jealousy and to love not because of these things, but in spite of them. It says in the bible that God IS love. This means that despite all of these mistakes and all of the ways I have fallen short, God has met me. He has made me his child and embraces me, as I am and without any need for perfection. He protects me.

Even though I make mistakes, even though I have made him angry and jealous by turning my back, he is a graceful and merciful father whose love for me is wild and completely fierce. In Hosea, God loved his people in such a fierce way, that their betrayal created a passionate, violent anger.
"Like a bear robbed of her cubs, I will attack them and rip them open. Like a lion I will devour them; a wild animal will tear them apart." Hosea 13:8
This seems really bleak, and I struggled to reach the end of the book. But God told me to keep reading. Every so often, amongst the pain and anger were promises that would give me hope and relieve the sense of fear that the betrayal had created. A relief, because I would be able to return to him and call him husband instead of master (Hosea 2:16). He would call me his "loved one." He will promise me to him forever, and he will always love me. He wouldn't do this because of something I'd done, but because of his mercy. He would do this because he is love. God is the embodiment of love and a demonstration of the power that comes with it. And that same God loves me.

It is too easy for us to forget that this is the case, and for our mind to distort our perspective, and embitter our hearts. But if we can take the truth to heart then lies cannot harm us and they will not move us because we have been secured in the arms of God, as his beautiful, perfect children.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Change...

Recently, I was back at school. It was the one day of the year where everyone gets together to celebrate the success of the school year and generally show case the pupils' talents. In the past, it was a ritual I hated. A long time on a Saturday morning in June, spent in a theatre listening to speeches, watching dances, and seeing prizes given out. I would be bored and hungry by the time we left the theatre and once back at the school had the prize giving to look forward to (which was only enjoyable if you got an award).

But, since leaving the school I have returned voluntarily for the last 2 years. Why? You might ask, would I choose to face the possibility of being stuck in a theatre for hours on end? The school holds amazing memories for me and it gives me an opportunity to revisit the several years I spent there. It also reminds me how much I learnt, and how much I have grown and changed since starting there 10 years ago.

The day also reminded me how change is healthy. Change is exciting and it is scary. But it moulds and shapes you and I can honestly say that I am not the same person stood here today as I was, even a year ago. And I am probably barely recognisable from the girl who stood nervously on the porch steps having her photo taken on her first day at her new school.

But every so often that "new girl" feeling returns, accompanied by butterflies in the stomach and a conviction that I may not cut it this time. But each new experience has given me confidence and self belief which has changed my attitude towards others and myself. However, it has also reaffirmed the fundamental belief it has taken me all of my life so far (and probably my life to come) to accept: I am enough. I do not need to change.

For a long time, I believed that maybe, if I didn't have a penchant for bright colours, if I was witty, if I wasn't
such a klutz and if I was that much "better" than other people, maybe I would have a chance. Maybe if I could get just a few more marks in exams and course work, maybe then I would make the mark. But I was setting myself an unrealistic goal... each bar I reached would not be high enough. I am by no means saying you should settle, but that you should learn to accept a compliment and acknowledge your achievements and abilities. Jesus doesn't love me any more or less than he would if I were the next Einstein or a complete dunce.


So, sorry folks, but the girl with the robot jumper, and a tendency to fall over air is not going anywhere. 

Friday, 8 June 2012

Please. Show Me That You Love Me.


I would be lying if I said I didn’t care,
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t hurt,
I would be lying if I said I didn’t mind,
But is there any of your love to spare?

Thrown down by the weight of shame,
Torn apart as you called my name,
Broken by the sound of silence,
Willing myself to go the distance,
Is there any of your love to spare?

Running from my mistakes,
Heading into the abyss,
Searching in the night,
For Your love and Your light,
Is there any of your love to spare?

You will always find me,
Even when I am blinded,
Next to me, you will be,
Open up my eyes again,
Please, show me that you love me.

Lord, sometimes your word doesn't seem like enough. Sometimes it feels like you cannot hear me at all. Sometimes it feels like you just don't love me. Sometimes I don't understand how you could love me. 

But I know you do. I know this truth. But it is days like today when I need to be shown. It is days like today when I ask for you to open my eyes again and reach into my heart. Reach in to find my passion for you Lord. Reach in and engrave your name there. Reach in and heal my heart. Reach in and steal my heart. I am Yours and You are mine. I want you to be at the centre of my world. Not just today and not just tomorrow, but forever Lord.

Amen


Sunday, 13 May 2012

Finding My Passion

I never knew what I wanted to do, what I was good at or where I fitted in. I was certain what I wasn't good at and certain where I didn't fit in though. I knew that I would never be musical, I would never master an instrument in a way that could move people to worship, I would never be able to bring tears to people's eyes when I sang (well maybe I can do that, but not for the right reasons!) and I am still pretty sure that I don't get on that well with little kids. In terms of serving in the church I felt this ruled me out of pretty much everything. Lots of my friends played in the worship band, or served in the children's work at my church. For so long I prayed to God and asked him to show me something, anything that I could do. I was desperate to serve him and desperate to have some kind of obvious talent. For me, all that was evident was that I had none. I thought that this ruled me out of serving all together, I thought that this meant there was nothing I could do. I would just continue to worship and continue to watch everyone else's gifts grow, while I looked on enviously.

I think that it wasn't until I got my GCSE results a couple of years ago that I really began to notice where my strengths lay: 2 of my 3 A*s were in French and German...they were easily my best subjects and something I took to quite naturally. For some mad reason, after not really having considered it before, I chose to carry on with French at college and do it at A Level. At the same time this was happening, it was towards the end of my first year of college that I began to realise that I loved it. It was one of my favourite subjects (mainly because year 1 was easy) and so I applied to study it at degree level. Most of my friends thought (still think) I was insane, and I am still not sure how I came to this decision. I think truthfully, the thought of spending 3 years specialising in any of my other a level subjects sickened me slightly... French was the only idea I wasn't repulsed by!

At the same time, I was chosen to be a co leader of the college Christian Union. This was a terrifying idea to me, as I'd never led anything before and was still all too aware of the fact that I was a new Christian. I did it though with the help of my wonderful co leader and a great bunch of people within the CU. I grew in God so much during that year, and I loved it. I loved having discussions on passages from the bible, and I loved that I maybe finally serving others in their relationship with God. While there were a few hiccups along the way, I learnt so much and am forever thankful for the privilege of being able to help others in their walk with God through college. 

I also co-led a lifegroup with one of my good friends in the youth in the same year. When my youth leader approached me I was shocked. Again I felt that I, as a new Christian didn't have a lot to give and I definitely wasn't sure that I was cut out for leading a group of people (many of whom who had been in the church longer than me) who were all at different points in their walk with God. But again, God showed me the deepest depths of his love and I met some of the most amazing people through that year. I pray that they keep growing in faith and that God will be with them in all they do. 

Last year at church, the leaders spoke a lot on the subject of international mission and being a "global community". Their aim was to become a church with several nationalities in one place, a place where no matter who you were you could go there, but also they wanted to be a place which equipped its people to go out and take the gospel to those who do not know the hope it brings. Every time I heard this talk I felt like it was aimed at me. I felt that something was saying "It's you. This is for you." I was scared, but crazy excited too. I could finally use what I had discovered a passion for to bring a hope to others and to glorify God. I was finally beginning to realise that I had been given a gift too, and just because it wasn't immediately apparent it doesn't mean that God doesn't have a plan for me. So here I am, 3 years into my walk with God and preparing to go on the biggest adventure yet: a trip to Europe with others who share a passion for the nations, and learning more about what it means to "plant a church" and to be a Christian in another culture. And this is just the beginning. I cannot wait to see the awesome things God has yet to do.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Learning Curves

I have finished my first year of university. All of my exams are now over and I am just waiting (nervously) for my results. To say that the last 8 months have been a learning curve would be an understatement. I have loved this year, and despite the ups and downs, it has been an amazing experience. I have learnt some valuable lessons which I thought I would share. Enjoy.

1 - My faith is most definitely a relationship with a mighty and living God. I didn't know before I came to university whether this was the case because I had never had to confront things which I felt could truly test my relationship with God. He has always come through for me and I have spent the last 8 months falling in love with Him all over again.

2 - Being drunk can be both great fun and a real pain. I discovered this fairly early on really. If I had a good night then I was loud, happy, smiley, and able to spend the whole time dancing with my friends. But, if I have things which I haven't talked about whilst sober and I drink too much, and the subject is brought up, you see the emotional, angry and upset me (more people than I'd have liked have seen that side of me). It can turn a whole situation into a complete mess in a very short space of time, and is in no way a good solution to a problem...but sometimes it is a good night and a great laugh.

3 - In the words of one of my lecturers "Being able to bullshit is an essential life skill." Not reassuring words to hear in the first term... but since doing a module this term which I still do not really understand, I can completely see his point. I just responded to essay questions with lecture material and extra reading without ever understanding the subject... so yes, in that case I was using long words to explain things I didn't understand to make me look smarter.

4 - Friends, Food and Family. These things seem to have taken on a whole new meaning at university. I feel closer to my parents than I ever have and I think it's because I appreciate their care and the things I took for granted at home so much more here, because I don't have them. Those days which just go so badly and all I want is a home cooked meal and a big hug from my parents. This is also where friends have taken on a new meaning. Never did I stay up until 3 or 4 am having amazing conversations with my close friends at home, and never could I just ring them at midnight and ask if I could pop round, until I came to uni. These things have happened so often here and some of my best nights have been spent curled up with a cup of tea, talking with my friends into the small hours. And food. Well, that has changed a lot too. I have a huge love for home cooking, and the excitement that comes with the mere mention of free food is probably ridiculous to outsiders, but believe me, here it is like gold dust. I would say the phrase "If there's free food I am there!" is one I have heard (and used) too many times to count this year!

5 - Live a little. I used to be scared of everything. I am not exactly a happy go lucky person who just chills out and "goes with the flow" but since starting uni I've learnt to relax and just take a chance. You only live once, and this attitude has given me a healthy appetite for a little fun and adventure. So here I am, living a little. Yes sometimes it ends badly, but mostly it just makes for a good story and we'll be laughing about it a few weeks down the line!

Thanks for a great first year of uni... and if you haven't been bored by my ramblings then I am glad. If you have then thank you for reading this far!

x

Thursday, 3 May 2012

You inspired me...

Teachers. Everyone has or has had them, good ones, bad ones, and occasionally those exceptional ones who come around once in a blue moon. Those teachers who give you a passion for something, who feed an enthusiasm and make you feel like you can do anything. The ones who seem to be the perfect mix of fierce energy and kind words. Well, for me, Miss Fermor was one of those teachers.

She taught me history. It was evident just from her energy that she loved the subject, and it came across in how she taught it. She was always thinking of new ways to spark an interest in the subject, from "Newspapers" about the trenches in World War One, to plays about the plague of London. She was patient with me when I was confused, and she laughed with us (sometimes at us) when we joked around, but when it came down to the serious work, she was always there, making me strive to do better. She praised me where it was appropriate and gave encouragement when it was needed. But most of all she taught me respect. She didn't patronise and  yet she didn't let us walk all over her. She knew how to laugh with us (remember that muck up day when her and Miss Reid were in the common room laughing at all the other teachers being water bombed?!), but she also knew where to draw the line. She was someone who made me believe I was capable of anything. She was a teacher who made me want to try, even when I didn't see the point.

Not only this, but Miss Fermor was there for me when things were difficult. She was an understanding voice and a real strength for me. She was strong but without being aggressive, and gentle without being weak.

When I found out she had cancer I was devastated. I will never understand why it had to take her from us so young. I think she probably never knew how many people loved and respected her. Many of my friends' Facebook statuses have paid tribute to her and this is just my way of saying thank you. Moira House was lucky to have her,  and I feel very privileged to have known her, and to have been taught by her.

Miss Fermor you were amazing. A gifted teacher and generous person who inspired me to aim high. You will always be remembered and you are already sorely missed.

x

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

"I love you"


He watches her struggle through the day, barely able to stand at the end of it. He can see her soul is weary. He can see she is tired, tired of everything. But she has turned her back. It breaks his heart. She has distanced herself from him, because it makes it easier to pretend she is fine and makes it easier for her to survive the day. He can see what she tries to conceal. He sees it and it hurts him. It hurts him to see how she is crushed by the weight of shame she doesn't need, and how she is once again imprisoned in the cage that he released her from. The door is open, she is free. But she can't see it. She can't see beyond herself. She can't see beyond a single day. He is calling her, he is seeking her, but she can't see him. She doesn't want to see him, because she can't cope with the shame she carries.

She collapses. Exhausted, she slumps into the corner and curls into a ball. The tears begin to fall. She has finally allowed herself to break. She has finally accepted that she can't do this alone. She cries out to God and he is there. His gentle hand wipes away the tears one by one. She looks up at him and realises that he still loves her. Even though he knows what she did. He loves her.

"I forgive you. My child, I forgive you. I love you. Do you not see that?"

She could see it, but she couldn't bear to. It was too beautiful and heartbreaking because, still the guilt haunted her. She clung to him with all she had left and sobbed. He held her there, wiping away the tears until the last one fell. He dried her eyes and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. 

"You are beautiful, my daughter. You are everything to me. I have always loved you and I will love you forever."

He still loved her. She couldn't believe it. She loved him too. More than anyone in the universe. She wiped her eyes and gazed up at him. 

"I love you," she whispered. "I love you more than anything." 

His heart sung. She loved him. She still loved him. She wanted him. She hungered for his love, and she was His.

He was the only one who made her whole. He was the only one who could set her free. She found refuge and strength in his presence. Could he help her to see her true worth? Could he help her to escape the prison she created? She needed him. Now more than ever. She began to have hope. She knew it would not be in vein. When had he left her side? When had he turned his back? Never. It was she who had lost hope. It was she who had lost faith. It was he who restored her each and every time she fell. It was he who took her back each and every time she strayed. And she still couldn't believe her guilt had been washed away. She still couldn't believe she was as precious gold and not tarnished copper to Him. She would never be able to comprehend this truth, but she began to rejoice in it and the burden began to ease. She will face this, she will get through it and she will cling to the strength and light of her perfect Father; The one who will keep her safe in his embrace for all of time.


Sunday, 22 April 2012

I'm fine.

This is probably the biggest, most commonly told lie in the book. I know that I am guilty of using it more frequently than I should. I will tell you one thing though, I very rarely get away with it. This is mainly because I seem to have a pathological inability to lie. It is so obvious. I go bright red, smile and sometimes, I even laugh. It is also not helped by the fact that my beautiful friends know me so well they can tell within seconds whether or not I meant "I'm fine." Sometimes they can tell without me needing to say anything at all. So is this apparent inability to pretend that I am fine a good thing?

Yes - I would argue that it is. This is because I spent so long pretending ("I'm fine" was the one lie I learnt to perfect) that I dug myself into a lot of trouble which left me broken hearted and reeling from the wounds it inflicted. Burying problems has never worked well for me, and I love that my friends can tell when I am not okay, because sometimes I get tired of fighting it. I get so tired of smiling and saying "yes I am fine." It is truly exhausting. But then I think everyone must do this. How many people actually know our real state of mind? I'm fine covers a lot of bases and it can also act as a wall, something that says "Please don't ask any more questions." or "I don't want to talk about it". Shockingly, sometimes it can even mean exactly what those two words say: "I'm fine."

It isn't weak to admit that things aren't great, and it definitely isn't weak to seek help and advice; in fact I see this as a sign of great courage and strength. But what puzzles me is that I can go to my friends with my problems yet, I don't want to take them to God. I don't want to show him the worst side of me. I spend so much time trying to convince others that I am coping, and so much time trying to be "strong" that I won't open myself up to God. And this is bizarre because God knows what is beneath the carefully crafted "act" I put on every day. He can see exactly how things really are and whether or not I am really coping. Yet, I won't admit it. God won't use my problems against me, he won't betray my confidence, he will simply want to help me piece together my brokenness. GOD IS LOVE. And when things are going wrong God's love never ever fails. He ALWAYS comes through.

God gave us the power to fight the problems we face. He gave us the authority of his name to remove the shadows they can cast over us, and the fear they can create. My own introspection can prevent me from seeing the bigger picture, from seeing the huge God I serve. He is so much bigger than the problems I face and he is the only source of truth in a world full of pain and brokenness. He is the only one who can truly heal the wounded heart. I can live like I am still caged by the fear of inadequacy, when that cage door has been opened and I can walk away from it. I can run to God's arms knowing he will meet me where I am at, tend to my heart and show me a better way.

This is what I need. This is the God I serve: healer to the broken, carer to the abandoned, father to the fatherless, love to the loveless and hope to the hopeless. I hold that  knowledge in my heart and I know that through everything I will continue to praise God, because I know he will always come through for me. Matt Redman says it better than I can:

"I can see a light, that is coming for the heart that holds on, a glorious light beyond all compare."
You Never Let Go, by Matt Redman 
 


Thursday, 12 April 2012

Something Beautiful

Beauty inspires me. It is wonderful and captivating and bewildering. I see it in the small things, a simple look, a smile, in the landscape and even sometimes in my studies. But it is also the bigger things: the view of the Downs, the contrast of a tough man made structure against the softness of a blue sky littered with fluffy white clouds (I was thinking of how the Eiffel Tower looked against the skyline on my trip to Paris). It fills me with a magical sense of awe and wonderment. How can things which appear so simple and small capture my heart so completely?

To me they are all little love letters. Small notes to give me inspiration and remind me that my God loves me. They are there to lift my spirits when I am feeling low and they are there to keep me smiling when I am happy.

But to me, beauty can also be heartbreaking. It can seem like something totally unobtainable, something that will always be just beyond my reach. I think that this is what giving up make up for lent helped me to realise. It made me realise the value of beauty. It changed my definition of it.

I used to see beauty as something that wearing make up created. Without make up, beauty no longer existed. Without make up, beauty was wiped away and stripped from me.

But I have realised that beauty holds a much truer, deeper value. It is something that comes from the heart of a person more than anything else. It is shown in how you treat others and how you treat yourself. It is the values you hold and the relationships you have. Beauty already exists in every single person. It is not something you simply erase and it is not something you can create, because beauty already exists. Every heart aches for beauty. To be seen as beautiful, to behold beauty. It is at the very core of our being.

Beauty is more than skin deep.Yes, I love make up. Possibly even more than before. But I do not need it to feel beautiful. I no longer need to hide behind it. I no longer need it to feel adequate. I use it because I WANT to. Not because I NEED to. No woman should feel that they need make up to look beautiful. No woman should feel that without it they are inadequate, because this is so wrong and not what God says at all. He made us in his image. He made us perfectly. He therefore, made us to be beautiful. Make up does not create this beauty, it merely enhances it, and sometimes it can even conceal it.

So what is most beautiful to me?

  • A heart given entirely to God. When I see people who have a heart for God, worshipping Him with everything they have, giving everything, my heart sings and I am filled with joy.
  • Love. This is clich├ęd I know... but it is true. Love is one of the most beautiful emotions I have ever experienced. It is also the most painful. But as I said, beauty can be a heart breaker as well as a healer.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Am I loved?


I believe that everyone has one fundamental desire: to be loved and to know that they are loved. Everyone searches for this in different ways, and I see it every day. People searching for approval, searching for something that will fill the ache within them to be desired, loved and accepted.

I've spent so long searching for this, and in a way I still search for it. I have the love of my parents, my beautiful sister and my wonderful friends. Yet, still part of me doubts this. Part of me thinks that at any time this could be taken away, something I do could make it all turn sour. It is an almost overwhelming fear of getting it "wrong". Furthermore, the approval of those closest to me doesn't seem enough. The desire runs deeper than that, something at the centre of who I am as a person and regardless as to how many people I know love me, regardless as to how many friends I have, I will always be asking the same question: Am I loved? Am I worth it?

Until I became a Christian, I felt like I would never be able to answer this question and that I would spend my life searching for acceptance and self worth. Then I heard the gospel. It is something so beautiful and so incredible. I can now say that I know the security of a love so deep and so profound that it scares me slightly. It is intense and personal, passionate and fiery. Jesus wants to know me, he hungers for me, he will pursue me to the ends of the earth. He will fight for me when I don't have the strength and most of all he will love me. Forever. And I, how do I feel about this? As I said, the intensity and depth of this scares me:
"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, 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 8:38-39
God is so much bigger than everything I know, and He will let NOTHING separate me from him, and from his love. This is powerful. This is real too. This is something that, while I love my family, and I love my friends, I know that no one lives forever on earth. Friendships change, and people wither and die. Yes, I will of course do the same, but I know that even after my time on earth, I have a God whose love for me will never die and I know that I will spend eternity with him. With the ultimate father. With the ultimate love. That is something I will come to experience fully in all its magnificence. It fills me with joy. A real, pure joy that I cannot deny.

Am I worth it? Am I loved? The answer: absolutely and completely. I am loved furiously and passionately by a being so powerful he would move mountains for me. And I love Him. I love him with all my heart. And I know I always will. Even when I struggle, even if I turn away, I know that I will never stop loving Jesus, and I will never stop needing him. And to know that he feels the same about me, but knowing that he will never change or turn his back on me, is more incredible than any words can say.

The most awesome thing about this love? Jesus feels this for every single person. We are all treasure in his eyes. So next time you ask yourself, am I loved? Am I worth it? Know that the answer will always be unequivocally, YES. You are loved completely and unconditionally by your true father and creator God. 

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Would you become a goldfish?

Grace. Something that is still an awesome concept, both to try and understand (I am not sure I ever will) and to accept (I'm not always great at that either!). It has come up time and time again throughout my journey with God and I am always hearing different ways of understanding it.

The first analogy I heard, was the idea of God's Riches At Christ's Expense. This was extremely helpful, because it showed me that we get all the benefits of coming into relationship with God, without any personal cost to ourselves. We simply bring our brokenness to God and he will fix us. It is an outrageous concept. Someone paid the price for our mistakes so we didn't have to. We simply get the joy and love that comes from a relationship with God. Therefore, in theory, you could just say "it doesn't matter, I am human, I messed up, but God forgives me so I can keep doing this."

But, alongside this outrageous idea should come the understanding of the COST to God. He gave his ONLY SON because of his love for us. He came to earth and lived as man, feeling all of the temptations, all of the frustrations, and all of the sorrow that we encounter in our lives and then went on to die one of the most horrific and brutal deaths in the history of man kind. Worse than this, he had to experience the weight of sin and shame which separated man from God... this meant that Jesus had to be separated from God; from his own father. He experienced the pain and the brokenness that we battle every day. I find it incredibly easy to forget this because "God" is such an aloof concept: something so mighty, powerful and holy that he can't possibly have known or even cared about the pain of being separated or tempted by worldly possessions and desires. But today, yet again I was reminded. He experienced EVERYTHING about being human. He knows, cares and understands about me. Because his son paid the ultimate price. He lost his relationship with God. It was something so perfect and so beautiful, and so powerful, but he gave that up WILLINGLY. Not only because of his love for our Father, but his love for US too.

It is this revelation of the Cross and the cost of grace which leads to a transformation of the heart. Once I'd understood what Christ suffered so I could get right with God, I was changed irrevocably. I could, if I wanted, carry on deliberately doing wrong, because the concept of grace is that radical...but that would mean I had not understood its cost. It would mean I hadn't understood love either.

This is where the goldfish analogy comes in. I was told about it by a friend today and it really gave me a revelation of cost. Imagine this: You want to tell a Goldfish you love it...how would you do it? The only way to make a goldfish truly understand this would be to BECOME a goldfish. Yes. That's right. You would have to give up all the home comforts, the luxury of memory, the freedom of living in the world and join the fish bowl. You would live as a goldfish, with a 3 second memory, and a glass bowl/ tank without the luxuries we take for granted. Only then would the goldfish truly understand how you feel, and only then would it see that when you say "I love you" you are not saying it from an outside perspective. You would know it through and through and know the world it lives in. And still you would love it.

Okay...It maybe a silly sounding analogy, but it illustrates the scale of what Jesus gave up so he could show his love for us: So that he could show how true God's love for us is.

Would you become a goldfish?

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Follow My Heart Or Follow God?

Life is full of choices. There are many paths to take and so many ways to lose sight of yourself or what you are aiming for. What is right in front of you can be missed because you are looking for something bigger. The beauty of the now can be eclipsed by the worry about tomorrow, or the regret of yesterday.

The choices we make are always going to have consequences; whether they're minor or major. And it is how we cope with the consequences of our decisions that define us as much as the choices we make.

For me the choice was follow my heart or follow Jesus. You may say that if I am a Christian, then are the two not equal? Does my heart not lie with Jesus? I can answer that in two ways. Firstly, I am a Christian and I have given my heart to Jesus. But, I am not perfect and there are still parts of my life, and parts of me that I need to learn to hand over to God. I have been struggling to understand why the heart would want things that I know God is very clearly saying "steer clear" to. It appears to make no sense. Why would we have a desire for something if God is saying "no" to it?

Being human, I gave up trying to understand. Not only that, but I decided that I would try things MY way. Needless to say I ran straight back to God, having completely screwed up and ended up realising that God's way is in fact a lot better for me than my way. Now, what counts, is how I face the consequences of my mistakes, because I cannot go back and change yesterday, but only embrace the present and improve tomorrow.

In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.  
 Proverbs 16:9

This is a verse I discovered today when I needed to escape and spend some time with God. I needed to pray and wait on him and it was probably, if I am honest, the first time where I truly did just that. I think the verse means that we have hopes, and desires and wishes within us, and God knows this, but unless God is at their centre, He cannot fulfil those wishes. I could plan to do something, but without God it is unlikely to come to fruition. This is why God is at the centre of my world. Sometimes this alignment goes askew and I ignore him; just as a child sometimes ignores their parents' advice. Things go wrong, but it is through these mistakes that I have learnt, and will continue to learn my most valuable lessons.




Thursday, 23 February 2012

Daring to Bear


I am writing this as I am getting ready for a night out with the girls...but for me it is not an ordinary night out. It is the 2nd day of lent and for me this means that it is my second day without make up. This is because I have chosen to give it up for lent. This may seem crazy to you, but I do have my reasons and since I get so many questions about it (as well as some odd looks) I thought I would take some time to explain why I have chosen make up as opposed to chocolate, or sweets.

The idea of lent for me is to give something up so I can focus more on my relationship with God. I have no major addictions to certain types of food, and I am not using it as an excuse to crash diet either, so that left me thinking slightly outside of the box. You may or may not know that 2 years ago I gave up nail varnish for lent, which seems stupid I know, but when I was wearing it EVERY DAY and hated the sight of my bare nails I realised it was becoming too important. It is not normal to feel anxious when I haven't got a crazy colour on my nails! 

The same thing has begun to happen with make up... I realised that slowly but surely I was becoming addicted to it. I felt like I couldn't leave the flat without it, and that I would rather be 10 minutes late to a seminar than forgo my makeup. I also felt hideous without it, I was reliant on it. That is unhealthy. And I think then it was getting in my way with my relationship with Jesus...I can't count the number of occasions I have been late to church purely because I was putting make up on. I also cannot count the number of times I have wondered how people could even look at me without make up. The shallow, material things had become as essential as food and water for me. Nothing should be that high in the priorities list... Jesus is first and foremost. 

So, after much thought and prayer I reluctantly came to the conclusion that this is what I had to give up for lent. Which means no more make up for 6 weeks: even on a night out. This is a scary prospect. I definitely can't do it without God and I would appreciate your prayers. But I can spend the 20-30 minutes I would normally spend each morning on my make up, with God. I also want to remember what it feels like to be comfortable in my own skin. 

So... this is me, daring to bear. Wish me luck.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Rejection

This is something that everyone fears, and everyone hates. I know that it is one of my biggest fears, and when it happens, it feels horrible. It is so easy to get spiteful and vindictive and bitter when it happens (as I am discovering at the moment) rather than just letting it go and handing it to God, then moving on. It is far easier to remember the negative things that people say and do rather than the positives. It's almost like I am programmed not to hear the good things and focus on the bad. But as much as people say "just let it go and move on," it is not that easy. I still feel hurt and angry about being rejected. That I won't deny. I always wonder how much of this I am supposed to take and for how much longer, because each time it happens my confidence is shattered. No amount of "please don't think it means there's anything wrong with you" will change the fundamental fact: I was rejected. My brain naturally equates this to me not being good enough, to me being a failure.

This is so wrong. Just because these things happen, I have to have faith that God has a better plan for me. I feel angry with him for letting this happen to me, and I have sworn at him, shouted, cried. But that's ok, because I am being honest and up front about how I feel. I would only feel worse if I wasn't honest with God. Many people believe that it is not okay to question God, to be angry with him, to feel unhappy when things don't work out how you plan. But this is also wrong. Being a Christian is about being in a relationship. If you are with someone you love, you don't pretend to them that everything is fine when it isn't. You shouldn't need to. I feel this way about my relationship with Jesus. I love him and so when I have a bad day, he knows about it, when something amazing happens, he knows about it. People question God throughout the Bible. Psalm 22 begins with "My God, why have you forsaken me?Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?" It is not wrong to question God, to wonder if he can hear you. It is human. And despite all of the doubts and questions that being rejected throws up, I trust him. I trust God to answer my prayers, and I trust him to pull me through. This is also evident throughout the Bible, that when people go through hard times, despite all of the questions and doubts they have about His plan for them, they trust him. Later on in Psalm 22 David is saying that "The poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the Lord will praise him." This man is going through hell at the time, and literally everyone has forsaken him. He is going through pain and anguish, yet still he is trusting the Lord to rescue him. This is something I always find incredible when I read the Bible: the stories of people who lose everything and yet they still trust the Lord to rescue them. And that He does. Every time.

So, although this situation bears little resemblance to that of David I am saying that although rejection is a difficult feeling to deal with, I am sure it happened for a reason and I am certain that God has something else planned for me. I can also rejoice in the acceptance I have in Christ. He made me his chosen daughter, and he has mapped out my story for me, so that whatever happens I am safe in his arms, with the knowledge that there is something better waiting for me.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Thank God For Friends.

This is a much deserved tribute to my wonderful friends. I honestly don't know what I would do without them.

Today is Valentines Day (as if you needed reminding!) and I believe that it depends a lot on whether you're single or in a couple as to whether or not you like it. I was trying to see it as any other day of the year, and ignore it. As it turns out this is impossible to do, because every reasonable person on the planet knows that it's the 14th of February. I also discovered that this day can make a bad situation worse. Purely because it's Valentines Day.

But I also realise that friends are so important, and there is nothing like an evening spent having chocolate fondue, reading a girly magazine and watching back to back episodes of New Girl with them to make a bad day good. And for this reason, just as I thought I would come to hate today, because of the monumental hi-light it places on those not in a relationship (ie me) and the way the very significance of the date can make a bad situation 10 times worse, I discovered, after a phone call to one of my oldest friends and a good hug and chat with my lovely flatmates, that in fact, Valentines Day needn't be about relationships, but appreciation for who I am lucky enough to have in my life.

I love you all, and I want you to know that you mean the world to me. I only hope I can be there for you in the ways that you have done so much for me.

Happy Valentines Day <3

Sunday, 12 February 2012

A Love Letter.

A life without love, hope and passion is no life at all. Everyone needs something to keep them going, a reason to live, a reason to fight.

For me it is God. He is my reason to wake up in the morning, to drag myself to lectures even when I don't want to be there, He is my reason for being on this earth. He defines me. And the more I study His word, the more I worship, and the more I pray, the more I discover His infinite power and His impossible beauty. I am just so in awe of him and so full of joy and love and praise. I know that whatever happens, and however hard things may get, that my reason to hold on, my reason to get up will never fail me and will never leave me. It fills me with a new confidence and a new hope that I can cope with anything life throws at me.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

The Real Woman


This is inspired by an article I read in the Guardian, and its view point on what defines a "real" woman.

In a society where body image is constantly scrutinised, whether it be the "what's hot and what's not" nature of celebrity magazines, or the constant images and articles written about weight loss, surgery, cosmetics etc being the answer to all life's problems, it is becoming increasingly difficult to have a realistic view on what constitutes "real" or "fake", "healthy" or "unhealthy". Therefore, I resort (once again) to dictionary definitions for an objective definition of "real".

Firstly, the definition of real in the Concise Oxford Dictionary is: "something actually existing or occurring in fact; not imagined or supposed". Therefore, I believe that the media's idea of a "real woman" does not exist. This is because, as the article says, we see this phrase "the real woman" used and flashed around constantly, but nobody seems to have a firm idea of what it defines, except the fact that often it is used in a derivative way about thin women ie models. The term has become prominent in recent years, as a back lash to the ideals of the extremely thin woman.  At first I understood this point of view, and even empathised with it. This is because I am not thin and probably will never have that kind of body shape, so naturally I am almost totally excluded from the industry of high fashion, and feel unrepresented in the media. I had my view clouded and dictated by what the media told me, and felt almost victimised by images of "perfection" because I wasn't a size 0. When the "craze for curves" began and it was more acceptable for women not to be androgynous I was elated; finally something was being done about the  wrong idea that every woman was inadequate if they weren't thin. But think about it, if the "real women" idea becomes as prominent as the size 0 = perfection idea that most girls & women struggle with, will the media be making the same mistake again? 

For many years I felt victimised and inadequate as a result of the media's idea of a uniform image of beauty, but by allowing the image of the "real woman" to dominate, the tables are then turned on those who are size 0. They will then feel like the victims, the ones who are somehow lacking in something, simply because of their dress size. This is not right. The fact is, that there is no one image of beauty, and no "standard" amongst humans. Everyone was created differently, with different builds and different bone structures. 

Instead of victimising and bullying those who are different, and viewing these differences as flaws, we should be CELEBRATING this diversity and rejoicing in it. I am not advocating any kind of extreme unhealthy shape or way of life, but I am saying that as long as you are healthy then you should be comfortable with who you are and use it to your advantage. It sounds cheesy, but honestly, I believe nothing is more beautiful than a girl who is happy, healthy and confident with who she is. That for me is the image of the "real woman", regardless as to whether she is a size 0 or a size 16. It has taken me a long time to realise this, and it has done me the world of good to understand it.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Fear


This word, this emotion has been a big part of my life for so long, and keeps raising its ugly head. As I wrote in my last post, I was scared of Jesus. Scared of going to him, all my doubts, all my fears, instead of being voiced were simply being bottled up. It wasn't until after I reread my last post that I realised, almost everything within it was related to fear. It was fear of something or someone in almost every paragraph, there behind the words. I knew then that God was there. It wasn't a huge, time halts and everything is a blur moment, but it shocked me. I hadn't realised that I had been hiding from God. I hadn't realised that I had become so afraid of showing Him (and anyone else) my true feelings. This is the revelation that has reached me in the last week, and I know that the spirit is still, and I pray will continue to transform my heart.I listened to a podcast by Andrew Wilson: The Right Kind of Fear. Something clicked inside me and I'm finally beginning to understand.

The Oxford English Dictionary describes fear as: "an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain or harm." Is it right to really fear this from God? Is it right to feel the same kind of fear of Him as I would with someone who I thought would harm me, someone who was unpredictable and vindictive?

Its says throughout the bible that God is loving, and kind and faithful. He is constant and unchanging. In Psalm 86:15 it says:"But, you oh Lord are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness." Therefore, how could He be a vindictive, harsh God? He who shows such compassion and mercy is not to be feared in this way.

However, it also speaks of "fearing God" throughout the bible, and even in the same Psalm (verse 11:"give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name"). But this is often also partnered with praise and adoration. So how do I fear God, without feeling a sense of terror?

This is where the second definition of fear comes in: the verb "to fear" can also mean "to have a sense of reverence and awe of something." This means that I am not without ignorance of God's power. I know he is huge and more awesome and powerful than I could ever imagine: JESUS CALMED A STORM! But alongside this knowledge of power is the knowledge of his character: Merciful, compassionate, loving and faithful. For me, the best illustration of these two things is in this verse:
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" John 3:16
This verse shows his love for us, in that he GAVE his ONLY SON to save us, us humans who make so many mistakes, and mess up so much, so that we could go to GOD as we are,and he would see in us, the perfection of his son. The next part of the verse saying we would get eternal life shows his immense power: JESUS  DEFEATED DEATH.
It means God is so much bigger than my problems, and he has the power to overcome every situation and fill it with good. This both scares me, because the fact that he can blow my fears out of the water is HUGE, but the fact that he is on my side fills me with joy and hope and life.

THAT is the awesomeness of God. And that is the reason why  I can do all things in Christ, because he gives me strength, and through my weakness his strength is made perfect and glorious. I need not fear, I can bring my worries and weakness to the cross, because JESUS LOVES ME, because GOD IS POWERFUL AND ABLE.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Long Time No See.

I haven't written for awhile now...but I thought since it is the start of a new year I should write something.
You may want to know, or you may not even care, why I haven't written for awhile. Honestly, it has been hard. I haven't known what to say. I think that's because I haven't been honest with myself, so I didn't know how to write anything honest on here, because I never want to write anything which is untrue; part of the point of this blog is honesty.

I have been struggling for awhile now with my faith. It has been a real low point. Although I have settled into university (finally) and made friends, I still feel like I haven't become close enough to anyone, to talk about these struggles with them. I literally do not know where to turn. I have tried praying so much, but I can't hear God. I am beginning to think He's deaf. I also haven't been near my bible for ages. That is mainly because it frightens me. That when I read it there are passages that raise more questions than they answer, and because I don't feel I know anyone well enough to talk these questions through I feel alone. Again I pray, but I hear nothing and see no response.

Recently, the information for a youth event which I have been waiting for since last August was put online. I looked again but the reality of it is scaring me. How can I tell people about my faith when I am barely certain of it myself?! How can I tell others about how good and loving God is when I am almost blind to this?! That is the other reason I didn't phone the person in my church about being involved in a church plant. Because, is that still God's plan for me? Is that still what I should do? Last year, international mission was laid on my heart more strongly than anything else. I have a passion for it. But with things not being great in the last few months, I feel like I am not and will not have the ability to do it. How can I explain to anyone that worship is nigh on impossible, and I am almost scared to go near my bible?!

I mean, maybe that is why I am on here. Finally able to be honest after the last few months have been so hard. I need God, now more than ever, and while I am doubting a lot, I still want it to be possible for Him to reveal himself in all his glory to me.

Don't worry,I am nearly finished! I am just going to leave you with some of my new years resolutions:
1) Do not fear new things
2) Make time for God
3) Be myself