Cambridge is one of the most beautiful cities I get to go to regularly with work, and so when I saw these postcards of the rather less beautiful aspects I had to buy them for some friends. The stark contrast between being stood in Cambridge was huge! And as I’m sat writing them this evening and thinking about my week there’s loads of things that could feature in the black and white view highlighting the rubbish stuff. And they’re so easy to see but there’s also the colour, the friends, fun, love and grace that have characterised various points. The colour that can be so easily missed. So here’s to enjoying the colour more and being reminded once again of the all the daily blessings – starting with my daffodils which were buds this morning but now are in full bloom!
Sometimes a picture just sums it all up September 18, 2012
Just saw this picture, and although my to do list has slightly different things on it, it really sums up how I was feeling at the start of term … then I was pointed to Psalm 131.
1 My heart is not proud, Lord,
my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.
3 Israel, put your hope in the Lord
both now and forevermore.
A great reminder that there is nothing that I can make happen even if I spend the whole term feeling stressed out. Instead I need to rest in the arms of the One who can and will sustain all things. What freedom!
Probably July 27, 2012
Do you every catch yourself saying one or two words repeatedly? Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve noticed that I use the words ‘think’ and probably way too much (I’ve just deleted a ‘think’ from this post already!)
And, it’s not down to a lack of vocabulary that I overuse these words. I’ve realised that each time I use ‘probably’ or ‘think’ when I’m talking about myself, it’s to lessen the impact of what I’m saying. So, if I say ‘I probably spend too much time reading other peoples blogs’, I mean that I definitely do spend too long reading other peoples blogs, but the world probably there sanitises it somewhat.
And so, from now on, I’m aiming to cut them from my vocab. I want to be honest about myself and struggles and what God’s teaching me, without putting in the safety blanket. So, if you catch me saying them – call me on it!
What words do you overuse?
Worldwide Family July 21, 2012
So, I know that Christians all around the world are brothers and sisters. We are one body, the bible is really clear on that. But often, I forget, because nameless faces are hard to remember in day to day life. One of the real privileges of doing this job is that each summer I to go and work with, and get to know a few of these siblings. Whilst there are many things that I really love about my job, this really is one of the highlights. At the start of July two other staff workers and I took a team of students from Uni’s around our region to run an English and Bible camp with a small IFES movement.
It’s a camp that’s always oversubscribed, so the local staff interview and decide who can come, which means those that are accepted are really excited to be there. Mainly because they get to speak English with native English speakers (although to be fair many of them understand the workings of English a lot better than we do!). But they also get the chance to look at the Bible with us each day, which means that 20 non Christians looked at John’s gospel over the week we were there. The time when people are students really is unique in terms of openness to think about new ideas and truly consider the claims of Jesus. It was so exciting to see how God worked through us – despite many cultural and language barriers to help them see who Jesus really is. The IFES movement we worked with is small, just three full time staff, and so being able to serve them is a real joy. I also really valued the fact that we got to work with brothers and sisters who we don’t very well and yet clearly had a bond with them as we really are family.
For me, one of the most significant conversations was with a Christian student who was telling me how she had become a Christian through her grandfather’s witness. Her parents don’t know Jesus and she told me that with real pain that I can empathise with. It reminded me that despite culture, food, expectations, language and everything else, that the gospel is the same all over the world, and it really is what all people need to hear.
We had many conversations with non Christians about Jesus and the local Christians will have the chance to follow them up over the next few months, but the reminder that we are a worldwide family who love, support and serve one another is one of my main lasting memories this year.
A New Name July 20, 2012
It’s not often that I’d ever recommend a book that I’ve not read myself, but I’m about to make an exception. Today marks the publication of ‘A New Name’ by Emma – and all I want to say is go buy it! I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of my copy. Through reading Emma’s blog over the last year, and getting to know her just a little bit, I can truly say that her honesty about her struggles with anorexia, and the way in which she points to Jesus in them, is truly amazing and a real testimony to God’s grace. Eating disorders and mental illness are so oftern taboos in the UK church, so even if it’s not something you struggle with, then do go have a read. This review gives a brilliant overview of the book. So have a watch of the promo video then hop over here and buy!
Singing what you feel July 18, 2012
This time last week I was leading a team on an English and Bible camp in lovely hot and sunny weather (total shock to the system to be back!). Before I went, I’d anticipated so many problems and issues that may arise (none of them did, though others did come up!) But the biggest thing that I faced, and hadn’t expected (stupidly) was to face my own sin.
About a week and half ago, I was laid on bench halfway through a really tough day. Despite the laughter I could hear from inside the house, I felt awful. I’d just had a couple of really hard conversations and all I could do was cry. I’d wanted to be a great leader – to love the team and the students we were working with. I’d prayed that would be the case. And yet it wasn’t. I’d tried everything that I could think of to do. I couldn’t even put what I was thinking into words.
A friend introduced me to some hymns by Indelible Grace and the one below, ‘I asked the Lord’ (written by John Newton) really sums up where I was. I was in verse 4 – feeling the hidden evils of my heart. I’ve listened to the song over and over for the last 24 hours and it’s made such a difference. Worship songs are great, but sometimes we don’t feel the emotions that many of them focus upon and singing them can feel hypocritical, or like I’m a failure for not feeling those things. Sometimes they can focus us back on Jesus, but sometimes as has been the case for me this week, singing my experience and real thoughts and feelings has fixed my gaze so much more firmly on Jesus. (If you fancy downloading some of the songs for free and legally then have a click here!)
Have a listen to it here:
And here are the words:
1. I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith and love and every grace
Might more of His salvation know
And seek more earnestly His face
2. Twas He who taught me thus to pray
And He I trust has answered prayer
But it has been in such a way
As almost drove me to despair
3. I hoped that in some favored hour
At once He’d answer my request
And by His love’s constraining power
Subdue my sins and give me rest
4. Instead of this He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart
And let the angry powers of Hell
Assault my soul in every part
5. Yea more with His own hand
He seemed Intent to aggravate my woe
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Cast out my feelings, laid me low
6. Lord why is this, I trembling cried
Wilt Thou pursue thy worm to death?
“Tis in this way” The Lord replied
“I answer prayer for grace and faith”
7. “These inward trials I employ
From self and pride to set thee free
And break thy schemes of earthly joy
That thou mayest seek thy all in me,
That thou mayest seek thy all in me.”
Harry Potter and the Final Supervision June 25, 2012
Today was my final supervision with my lovely Relay workers. It has been a real joy to supervise them and see how God has been working in their lives and through them in the CUs this year. They’ve been so much fun to work alongside and become really great friends as well! To celebrate the end of the year we went to the Harry Potter studio! It was amazing. If you’re thinking of going, then do it! It was lovely to do something really fun together … I think end of year team days at the end of this week will be the sob-by bit of saying goodbye – today was just the fun!
Enjoy a little taste of our day!
God’s Good Gifts – 24th June June 24, 2012
It’s late (for a school night anyway!) so I’ll keep this brief today…
1) Enjoying God and Life – another Yvonne Lyon song has inspired me greatly this weekend (I promise I’m NOT on commission..honestly!) This one is called ‘Enjoy not Endure’ and it’s like she can see inside my soul! I can’t find any link to her songs, but you can listen to a preview here. The line “recognise and mourn the days that never will return, for you were made for greater things than living with regret” really sums it up. Beautiful gospel truth wrapped up in beautiful music.
2) A travelling cake tin – I’ve been away again this weekend so being greeted by a friends husband bearing a cake tin full of brownies she’d sent for me was amazing. She originally made me cake in the tin, I returned it to her when her children were ill with rocky road and now it’s come back to me. I think this a tradition to keep on doing!
3) “It’s about faith not biology” – the reminder at church this evening from John 19, that our churches really are family
Summarising June 21, 2012
I may be late to the game, but I’ve just discovered Wordle. It summarises a piece of text with putting words that are mentioned most in a larger font. Below is my blog’s wordle. There are some real suprises there. ‘Forms’ is a strange one (though maybe not with our visa applications last week!), as is ‘photo’. But the one that really stood out, was ‘lonely’. I blogged on Tuesday about this, and I think it is true that ‘lonely’ really does sum up the last few weeks. But the real encouragement is that there are other words large as well…’God’ and ‘praying’. No matter how I feel, the fact that I can pray to my heavenly Father never changes. Amen!
Lonely Road June 19, 2012
One thing I’ve learnt over the last few months, is that grief really is lonely. There’s been so many moments where I’ve felt more alone than I ever have done before in my life. I’ve bee spending a lot of time listening to a song by Yvonne Lyon, called “Lonely Road”. The chorus sums up, where I am at the moment …
“You and I are taking this lonely road,
You and I are finding our way back home”
Yvonne is a Christian, but I’m not totally sure what she was thinking of when she wrote this song. This real encouragement to me with this song, has been the reminder that this life can be incredibly lonely. And it will be, there’ll be lonely roads for us all at different points. But yet, the truth of the gospel means that we can live an oxymoron, we can be lonely and yet full assured that God will never forsake us. He’ll walk every step of the way with us. If it’s true that we are in Christ, then how can he not? He’s never going to go back on what he’s done for us and promised. Amazing.
Here’s a very short, low quality clip of the song. Enjoy!