Living in a Field of Hats

some ramblings and reflections on working with students in Herts and Beds.

Sometimes a picture just sums it all up September 18, 2012

Filed under: Christian Life — Sarah @ 8:44 pm
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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!

 

God’s Good Gifts – 17th June 2012 June 17, 2012

Filed under: God's Good Gifts — Sarah @ 8:23 pm
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We’re back with the list this week…

1) Seeing God at work – I’ve been away at the final Relay training conference this week, where all of the Relay workers do a 3 minute presentation summing up their year. It was such a privilege to hear snippets of people’s experiences of God’s goodness over the last ten months. So many of them were able to clearly testify to God’s goodness when things were tough, and of the ways in which God has been changing them into the likeness of His Son over the last year.

2) Church Family – this evening my church family spend a chunk of time specifically praying for me and the summer team I’m leading. I’m feeling so many stresses and worries about the trip, so to be surrounded with people who love me, praying for and with me, upholding me is a real joy and a real reminder that church really is family.

3) A Heavenly Father – I’m so thankful today especially, that I have a caring, loving Heavenly Father who loves me so much he sent Jesus to take my punishment so I could be in a relationship with him. That’s nothing like my experience of earthly fatherhood, but it is my experience of my Father God.

 

God’s Good Gifts – 10th June June 10, 2012

Filed under: Mission Trips — Sarah @ 2:36 pm
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Photo: I do love summer teams but love late night form filling for visas less! Thursday evening found me sat on my living room floor surrounded by forms, passports, photos and a million other things. Emily and I were finalising the application forms for our summer team’s visas. It didn’t take long (approx 3 seconds) for Emily’s head to drop onto the coffee table as we realised the task we had before us. And so we prayed. We prayed specifically that there would be no issues in submitting our forms, that we have wisdom as to what to write for certain sections, and above all we prayed for joy in doing it.

It was a long evening, with many repetitive tasks (there’s only so many times you can write in insurance details without going cross eyed) And yet there was real and genuine joy … even when we discovered that one application was missing a photo (mine!). It resulted in a late night trip to Tesco’s photo booth- but alas it’s switched off overnight! Luckily, even though Hatfield only has a population of around 18,000, we have two 24hour supermarkets, so the ASDA photo booth saved the day (well night)!

Friday morning saw us on an early train bound for London. We prayed again at the tube station – this time for there to be no issue with the invitation letters and that we’d have submitted the forms by 10.30am. Roll on to 10.31am – Emily’s happy dance (well out of the way of the embassy’s CCTV!) in celebration of having had submitted all of the forms with no bureaucratic issues. Amazing.

This is this week’s God’s Good Gifts – each and every thing we asked for was granted to us. And more besides. We were dealt with by the most lovely helpful embassy worker ever (in stark contrast to last year!), we got to spend sometime together rejoicing in what God had done, we had members of this summers team, and last summers team praying for us whilst we were in the office, desperate to know what had happened. Those twelve hours this week had their stresses, but they were the clearest demonstration of the gospel and unity. I’ve literally been left astounded by God’s great kindness!

We’re praying for the visas all to be granted this week – if you pray we’d love you to pray for us! If you want to find out more about our trip then leave your email in the comments and I’ll send you the updates!

 

God’s Good Gifts – 13th May May 13, 2012

Filed under: Christian Life — Sarah @ 8:26 pm
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Somehow it’s been over a week and even though this challenge is only into it’s second week, I’m finding it hard to do! But nevertheless, this is the lasts weeks round up of God’s good gifts…

1) Halloumi and Nando’s garlic sauce – this taste sensation during Relay supervision on Tuesday, was a real reminder that not only did God give us food which is varied and can taste amazing (seriously don’t judge it til you’ve tried it!), but that he’s provided me with money to go buy food when I want it.

2) The M6 Toll – I was up North visiting family this weekend and although the motorway wasn’t mega busy on the way home, there was something relaxing about only being able to see three other cars on the road. And the M6 toll services are nice!

3) Handwritten letters  – In this age of digital communication there is something so nice about getting a letter from someone you talk to on the phone at least once a week, in a beautiful homemade  card.

 

Where is our comfort? May 6, 2012

Filed under: Christian Life — Sarah @ 2:14 pm
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Where do we get our comfort from as Christians when times are tough? From retail therapy? Grit your teeth? Crossing our fingers that it’ll be over soon? One of the real challenges of returning to ‘normal’ life after my stepdads funeral, was resisting a desire to punch those who said ridiculous things to me, in the name of ‘comfort’. I lost count of the number of people who encouraged me to place in my hope in things that we could never know were true. In things which I don’t deny God could do, but of which there was no proof, and could never be proved in this lifetime. So what then can we hope in when all else fails? What should we be pointing one another to?

One of the most striking memories I have from being at New Word Alive a couple of years ago, was during the singing when I glanced over at the friend next to me and noticed she was in floods of tears. It wasn’t just the tears that made it memorable though, it was that she was still singing and praising her God and Saviour. Her tears came after a talk on suffering, and what it means for Christians, just days after her mum was diagnosed with cancer. I remember thinking ‘how can she still whole heartedly praise God’? I couldn’t compute at all that being faced with real, raw pain could lead to God’s praise. It felt like an oxymoron.

But yet, it wasn’t. Surely, if we believe the gospel, then the gospel must be true at all times? It’s easy enough to believe God is good when life is bumbling along nicely. Surely, though when things aren’t good, it’s necessary to believe that God is good. If not, then what use is trust in Jesus at any time in our lives? If it’s only a nice thing to believe when things are going ok, then why bother? Life won’t always be good, we’ll all face pain at some point. And that’s the conclusion that I’ve come to over the last few days. That if God isn’t there, or isn’t good, then everything else is even more meaningless.

So, where should our comfort come from? Surely it needs to be from the character of God, and who He is. The Christian friends that have patiently listened and repeatedly pointed me back to God’s merciful, loving and gracious character are the ones who by far have provided the most comfort. Let’s not try and comfort people with things we have no way of knowing are true, but instead with those things that we know are true and will never change. The attributes of our loving, missional, saving God.

 

God’s good gifts … 5th May May 5, 2012

Filed under: Christian Life — Sarah @ 8:30 pm
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I have a feeling that although this is a new blogging venture, it’s not necessarily going to be easy to pinpoint the things from within the last week that have been God’s good gifts! And yet, I know there’s thousands, from each breath to unexpected contact from the wider Christian family.

So, after great thought and mind wracking, here’s this weeks top three!

1) Coffee – stereotypical of a Christian worker I know. The day before my stepdad died, back in February, he and my mum brought down an old espresso machine which had been gathering dust in their attic. Sadly he died before he ever got to see the pleasure that a shot of espresso brings me on a rainy morning, but now each time my day starts with coffee, it starts with the memory of a man whom I miss.
2) My new(ish)-to-me car – driving a car that doesn’t feel like it’s head gasket is about to blow and that isn’t helping me to know the local Kwik Fit guys better, is a dream. Add in central locking and power steering and I’m set!
3) Church Family – I feel really blessed to be part of a church family who truly care. Who ask me how I am, and expect more than ‘fine’, who keep asking how I am and more than anything invite me in to share their lives. Not just on a Sunday, but seven days a week.

 

Celebrating God’s good gifts May 1, 2012

Filed under: Christian Life — Sarah @ 8:11 am
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We’re going through Ecclesiastes at chuch at the moment, and I’m really enjoying the chance to look closely at the whole book. On Sunday we reached chapter 3 and look at ‘time’ and how there is a time for everything. The real challenge for me came from verses 12-13 …

I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.

It made me realise just how rarely I take pleasure in the everyday good gifts God gives me. And so, here begins a new regular blog. Each week, I’m going to blog about things God has given in the preceeding week, to see the good that God does bless me with on a daily basis midst the things that seem more pressing. The good gifts in and of themselves are not the end, they’re not the thing that will ever give me true meaning but that reflect the gracious and loving character of the amazing life giving God.

 

Using our weaknesses September 20, 2011

Filed under: Christian Life — Sarah @ 9:41 pm
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The title of this post could be used to describe many different events that I’ve been involved with over my last year on staff but this evening was a perfect example. A CU event that wasn’t really organised, a last minute request to do a talk on the film and no real advertising. And yet God in His great mercy was totally in control. I’d text some friends asking them to pray for me and the event – what I wanted was for the event to become more organised, the CU to be less clueless and for a talk to magically ping itself into my head, or least my notes. Maybe that’s slightly overexagerating it, but it’s pretty much how I wanted the evening to end. And yet it didn’t end like that at all. As soon as the credits began to roll most of the people began to walk out the room and by the time the CU realised only 3 people were left! And at that 3 Muslim men! Inwardly I was thinking “they are never going to listen to me, they’re never going to believe that Jesus really is God”, and kinda wanted to disappear. Instead, I started a discussion about what they’d liked about the film, which although stilted got to Jesus and we talked about how he really can show us wisdom as well as the truth of the gospel. I was quick to end the conversation though with warnings of not “being too preachy as not to offend the Muslims” from earlier in the evening ringing in my ears, but others were less keen to let conversation cease. And so, came the ippurtunity for one of the Muslim men “H” to tell us about his first couple of weeks at Uni:

“I arrived from Iran and found in my room a book by my bed. I didn’t know what it was but started reading it and discovered that it was a bible. I read it and kept reading it because it was so easy to understand unlike the Qu’ran which is in Arabic and I don’t understand it.” (paraphrased by me but pretty much word for word!)

How amazing is that?! That a guy comes all the way from Iran, has never heard of Christianity or the bible really picks one up, starts reading it and is intrigued. And then a couple of weeks later stumbles upon a Christian event and hears people talking about Jesus. And then – even more excitingly(!)- agrees to meet with a British Christian to read the gospel of Luke together.

And, he’s not the only encouragement from this evening. “A” from Aghanistan has spent a couple of years working for a Christian charity in Afghanistan and come into contact with many American Christians, although he himself is a Muslim. He was just as interested in the gospel and he, H and the third guy are all attending church with CU members this sunday.

What a reminder at the start of this year that God does use the weak and that he is control at all times!

 

New technology fail March 30, 2011

Filed under: Christian Life — Sarah @ 2:01 pm
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I was hoping that the arrival of my fancy new phone would mean that I would be blogging more but alas that appears not be so (mainly because I can’t use it!) Hopefully seeing the lovely Ellie at New Word Alive in a week or so will help me get better at it…!

Not much is new – crazy mission season is over and life seems fairly tame in comparison. It’s a real joy getting to know the new committees and dream big dreams and pray big prayers for their campuses over the next year. Seeing their excitement is great.

Even though life has been calmer recently, I found myself needing to remind myself of the gospel more than ever. In my daily reading plan (which I have managed to master on my new phone) I had the following the other day:

You, LORD, will keep the needy safe
and will protect us forever from the wicked,
who freely strut about
when what is vile is honored by the human race. Psalm 12:7-8

After three mission weeks in the space of a month I felt really needy. Hearing the gospel consistently and faithfully preached made me more and more aware of my own sin and failures and at times the gospel really did seem foolishness in my eyes. Compared with the world around us, the way people live and what they worship and value, the gospel seemed so frail.  And yet the amazing truth of the gospel is that the Lord will keep the needy safe, and the gospel is powerful. So powerful it recognises that humans will honour vile things over what is good. But God is still good, and still God.

 

Love… February 15, 2011

Filed under: Christian Life,Mission Trips — Sarah @ 10:22 pm
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…is the theme of Queen Maragret CU’s events week which is where I am this week.

I’ve had a real mix of emotions about the week – huge apprehension, unworthiness, not being ready (I really should have listened to the talk I recommended last week again!), but today has been a mix of encouragements. It’s been  great to hang out with other staff from UCCF this week and explore Edinburgh in some afternoon free time, but what’s really got me bizzing tonight is seeing the gospel work and that God chooses to use us. I’ve just been to a brilliant meal with a message with a first year student in halls and had the chance to spend two hours hanging out with his housemates chatting about the gospel and it being true for them. They were so open, yet so hopelessly blind. they could see that the human situation was dire (their own words) in relation to God, but couldn’t quite get that Jesus was the amazing answer. They saw that for Jesus to come back would mean their only chance of relationship with God was over but couldn’t see the need to do something tonight. So encouraging and frustrating in equal measure. I’m really praying that God would open their eyes this week to his amazing truth!

What an awesome God of love we have who gives us encouragements when we need them most and chooses to use us in evangelism!

And all of this after an amazing Cath Kidston-esque tea party this afternoon1 (i tried to upload a picture but the borrowed laptop was having none of it!)