24 Dec 2011

Worldwide

So I love the fact that on blogspot I can see what countries people who read this blog are from. 

I am always amazed that I have people all over the world who read it! I am also intrigued by who you people are.

So if you are from:
  • The USA
  • Germany
  • Brazil
  • India
  • Italy
  • Russia
  • Ukraine
  • Canada 
  • France
  • Norway
Could you leave a comment to let me know who you are please.

Merry Christmas, Nadolig Llawen, Joyeux Noel, Frohliche Weihnachten...that's it ran out of languages now.

May you all have a fantastic Christmas celebrating our Saviour's birth.

23 Dec 2011

Slow it down

The last week has LITERALLY passed in a blur. 


Normally I would say that Christmas is a busy time, but this year it just seems to have gone to another level. 


It all started a week ago with my work's Christmas Party - that was on Friday at this place in Canary Wharf, nice enough - good to socialise with work people. Had a WELL embarrassing moment which included 3 of my co-workers writing a note to the waiter dressed as an elf giving him my ACTUAL number...he responded by grabbing my face and kissing me as my boss walked past...AWKWARD. 


Anyway, then Sat was actually a really good day of just getting myself and my room sorted. In the eve I went to a Christmas/House Warming/Cheese and Cocktail Party and thoroughly enjoyed some tasty home made salsa and a glass or two of mulled wine. 


Sunday was Carol Service Day. I went to my Church's Carol Service in the morning which was fantastic! Then in the evening I went to a Carol Service at the Church around the corner from me and then on to have more mulled wine/mince pies/snacks. It was SO nice to go somewhere in London with people who I don't know from work and have an ace time. LOVED it.


Monday was my last day of work. I spent the day finishing off things and working out how to turn my out of office on. The I met my friend Kirsty off the train and we went to this FANTASTIC pub. Honestly, it was so cool. Firstly its called "The Old Nun's Head" (what a corker of a name!) and it stocks board games behind the bar that you can ask to use. Then the menu was pretty good too - a mix of pub classics and thai cuisine...we had fun. And then we finished the night off by going to see Sherlock Holmes - cracking film! Would highly recommend it.


Tuesday I was off to the matinee of the Nutcracker with Kirsty at the Royal Opera House. It was my first Ballet and I have to say I did enjoy it - we had ace seats and the music was great. I think I still prefer musicals just because you know what's going on more but still was a nice festive thing to do. Got food (and posted my passport application only a year after my last one got stolen...) and then hopped on a train to Cardiff where I got picked up to blaze a trail to Aberystwyth making a slight detour to pick up our friend Jon. Arrived approx 12:30am


Wednesday was my old work (Aberystwyth University Guild of Students) Christmas Meal. I and my old colleagues had been invited back to join in and no lies it was an intense day. Champagne at 11am, food at 1pm, sleep at 3am


Thursday bus at 6:20am, Cardiff at 10:30am, shopping until train at 1:55pm, train cancelled GAH! next train got me back to my London home by 5:30 where I literally emptied my bag to refill it for a week and hopped on a train to Tunbridge Wells.


Friday up to visit the Grandparents, managed to end up staying for lunch (win) back to bake Christmas cookies and wrap presents before meeting a friend at the pub to catch up....




and breathe.....


now to slow down.

17 Dec 2011

Tidiness and Myers Briggs

You may not know this about me...but I am a pretty untidy person.

Well I say that...I HATE untidy bathrooms and kitchens...but bedrooms are a completely different field. My bedroom currently is the biggest one I have ever had...so you would think that means I would have space to put all my stuff and that everything would have a home. 

Nope. 

I have literally just spent at least 3 hours hanging up clothes, doing washing, sifting through bits of paper and deciphering between what needs recycling and what needs filing for the future. Not going to lie I am SO easily distracted that it takes me A LONG time to finish any task because a few mins in I want to read that card someone sent me months ago, or want to eat the biscuits that have been on my desk since Sept.

Now I know that part of my short attention span is probably a lack of food/drink but some of it might have to do with who I am...like my personality.

At work we recently had to take part in a Myers Briggs Personality Test. For those of you who don't know what it is, you basically answer loads of questions and come out as one of a possible 16 personalities. I am an ESFP (Extrovert, Sensing, Feeler, Perceiver). Once you have worked out what you are, you are given a sheet which explains generally what you tend towards. Under the "works best" section I am told that I am most effective when "working on several projects at once, needs variety" 

I have always thought that there was something wrong with me because I find it really hard to concentrate on one thing at a time...I always have LOADS of tabs up on a computer. It generally will take me about an hour to write a blog post because I'll be doing other things in between. In my last job I found it quite hard as there were generally really quick deadlines which meant I had no time not to focus on something fully. 

I love finding out about myself and working out a bit more about why I think/act like I do.

What about you? Do you like personality tests or do you not like being put in a box? 

11 Dec 2011

First bit of Christmas

For the last few years I have been pretty good at enjoying Christmas hype without really getting my head around the fact that Christmas is getting closer.

It generally hits me like 3 days before or like last year....the day before....

This year I have already done some Christmas shopping, drank some mulled wine, eaten a fair few mince pies, had a Christmas dinner, been to a carol service and listened to carol singers in the street....

however, this is what has made me ready for Christmas.

We watched it in Church this morning as an intro into the sermon. I can honestly say I think this is possibly the best advert I have ever seen.

It's made me happy inside. So ready for Christmas now.

7 Dec 2011

Hendo Tribute

So, I just felt the need to write an entire post just about two of my favourite people in the world. 


This is them.


Malcolm and Naomi Henderson


Now you may think....hmmm there's nothing special looking about them and they don't look like they would be great friends....


but honestly...


they rock my world.


I went for a flying visit to stay with them in Birmingham last night because they are off to Aus a week today for like 6 whole weeks!! Obviously I didn't think I would be able to last a whole Christmas/New Years without seeing them so I jetted up to see them. 


We spent the night drinking mulled wine, and then white wine and looking at various things (including this) and just catching up.


There are many reasons why I love this pair, but a main one would be that they are easy to be around. Like you can just relax with them and be stupid and remember things, and not have to have a pre-planned activity to do. I think that is quite refreshing - I love being able to be spontaneous and these two do it very well. 


They are both incredible photographers (obviously they will both become my personal ones when I become famous...) and have a blog which you can look at here

After spending one night with them I have realised how much I love and miss them. 


Guys I hope you have a cracking holiday!

5 Dec 2011

The Me I Want To Be

Some of you may know that I am a typical Christian who has LOADS of holy books on my shelf but in practice I have only read maybe half of them. 


Well recently I was surprised by the standard of a book I bought while I was in Aberystwyth. It's called "the me I want to be: becoming God's best version of you" by John Ortberg




In 22 chapters the author covers:

  • Finding my identity
  • Flowing with the Holy Spirit
  • Renewing my mind
  • Redeeming my time
  • Deepening my relationships
  • Transforming my experience
It has been a book that I have actually LOVED reading. Like, if you have actually been anywhere near me for the last month you will probably have heard me talk about something I am learning from it or how amazing I think it is. I even bought my friend a copy of it for her birthday!

I've been reflecting on why I liked it and there are a few reasons:

  1. FRESH: Honestly, I generally find books about Christian life good in theory but never very practical. However, Ortberg is actually real! Like he isn't super holy (or at least from his book he doesn't come across as being like that), but he is human and struggles the same as I do with living a life that would make God proud. I think he just gave me a fresh perspective on how to view God and how God views me - which has actually really helped the way I relate to God.
  2. CHALLENGING: I am generally someone who needs a new challenge quite frequently to stay engaged, and focused. This book honestly does make you ask some tough questions of yourself about where you are excusing yourself for sin and how you can actually deal with it. Like it's hard to read, but actually it's not because it brings life.
  3. DOESN'T MAKE ME FEEL HUGELY GUILTY: Linked to above, there are parts of this book where I was really convicted of different areas of my life; however I didn't have that feeling of oh my word I am such a bad Christian because I don't get up at 6am to have a quiet time every morning. The book talks about engaging with God in loads of different ways and accepts that people are individuals and aren't all going to work the same. I found it really releasing!
  4. IT LOOKS GOOD: You might guess but I have a relatively short attention span and this book is just EASY to read. Like there are short chapters and diagrams/graphs/pics to keep you reading. Plus the way Ortberg writes is fantastic - like he throws in stories from his own life and elsewhere to make it easier to relate to.

All in all I would really recommend this book to you - its not even that expensive (£7.99 in Waterstones)

Question - What is a book that has really inspired you?

24 Nov 2011

Smiling

On wednesday at my house group we watched this podcast - it's all about smiling and how it is actually way more important than you all thought! 


Apparently by smiling you appear to be more attractive to others, and more competent to your employers! Ha. 


It got me thinking that smiling is really really important. It is contagious - it is rare that if you smile at someone they won't smile back...usually they might give you a confused smile as they desperately try to think if they know you or not, but actually smiling is something that people find it hard to refuse to give in to. 


As a Christian I don't want people to see me as ridiculously happy and not in tune with reality and the pain that that can sometime bring, but I do want to express my joy in all that God has done and continues to do for me. It is something I take for granted. 


Smiling is pretty simple, it doesn't cost us anything, has proven health benefits and makes us look good to others...I'm committed to trying to do it more.


Are you?

13 Nov 2011

Sex and Rhythm

So I generally tend to blog about things that are on my mind and just want to say before I start that the two topics for today are not related....not talking about rhythmic sex...


No no, I've been thinking about rhythm because yesterday I had a little "jamming" sesh with some of the people I work with. Some of you may know that I acquired a guitar last year and have been endeavouring to master the instrument. So myself and 3 others gathered in the basement of a Church Office which was home to a drum kit and some MASSIVE amps (like bigger than me - literally). Anyway my friend Davs was on the drums and she was incredibly good. Like just ace at keeping beat, doing fills, playing something you want to listen to. Then someone else got on the drums and to be honest it wasn't great, or it wasn't AS great as Davs had been. One of my biggest problems playing the guitar is that I cannot hold a strumming pattern. I can play the chords, or some of them at least, but I cannot sustain a rhythmic strumming pattern for the duration of a song...this poses a problem as without that it doesn't sound good.




I generally don't like making things super spiritual but I was just thinking about the links between rhythm and God...like a lot of the time people can be doing good things, and can be really nice, but unless they are living in the rhythm of God's grace it counts for nothing. In the same way that I can play the chords but it sounds rubbish without good rhythm, the good things I do with my life are worth nothing without living in rhythm with God's heart. I can often get distracted about why I am doing things, do them to look good, or because I want people to like me. When actually I can be TOTALLY secure in what God thinks of me - he's already told me:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; 
   I have drawn you with loving-kindness" Jeremiah 31:3

So living in a way that is in rhythm with God's heart is something I want to be defined by. I want to be someone who:

  • talks to the outcasts
  • has time for the forgotten
  • builds people up
  • speaks up for people who don't have a voice
  • is welcoming
  • has God at the centre of all I do.

hmm I don't know if I can really explaining my head very well but hopefully you have grasped something there...


Right so SEX. I am quite interested to know how many skipped the above just to get to this bit...


Firstly I think that sex is something that is really not talked about properly in the Christian context. Like it is pretty rare that you get sermons about sex/sexuality/masturbation/anything sexually related. Which I think is pretty crazy considering what a sexually alive culture we live in. Like everywhere we go we are confronted with sex - adverts, magazines, films, music...like its a big part of culture at the moment...and yet there is pretty limited guidance for Christians other than don't have sex before you're married. So yesterday I was at this 18-30's worship service thing and the topic was sex. Not going to lie, I was pretty shocked and slightly nervous. Like part of me didn't want to stay and listen - I wonder if that is because it is such a taboo subject that people do feel uncomfortable?? Anyway, the guy did a pretty good job of just talking through why sex with one person is good and used David as an example of how God can still use us even when we mess up with sex. However a lot of the nitty-gritty wasn't covered - like what does God think about people who struggle with their sexuality? Or how do you stay pure in a culture where sex is the status quo? What about when you are married? Like are there rules about what you can or can't do? Like sometimes I just feel like there is pretty limited information out there. 


To be fair it's not like I need to know at all - and it's not like I have particularly researched into this area. But at some point I will want to know.


Something that did really strike me about this talk was something that the guy said about our bodies not being our own. We are not just bodies, we are body and spirit. The Bible says:
"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own." 1 Corinthians 6:19
Far too much of the time I forget that my body isn't mine. I don't treat it well - like I don't self-harm or anything but I don't feed it the right things, or exercise it well. But it's not my body...I am housing God...surely I want that to be the best place I can make it??


Just some thoughts... 

5 Nov 2011

WINNER

And we have a winner of the mighty giveaway...



the winner who will be receiving this dress is....


= Laura George!!


Congratulations Laura.


Incase you want to know how I worked it out I just decided to make it nice and random and made a list in excel and then looked up a formula to pick one at random and Laura was the winner.


Thanks so much to everyone who entered....you might be interested to know that the Giveaway post has been my most ever viewed entry with well over a hundred views.


Laura send me your address so I can post it to you asap :) 

4 Nov 2011

2 Nov 2011

Hope

This a rare and could possibly be a one time occurrence that I blog TWICE in one day...but I just felt I had to...


Right so recently I have been struck by how sucky life can be for people, like lots of my friends are going through really hard situations, you watch/read the news and see how hard some people have it, I look at people with kids on the bus who look close to giving up. I sometimes find that really hard to reconcile with God. I mean we have a God who has done AMAZING things, like saving me from a death I should face...that's pretty immense. And yet, for your average person they want someone to help in the immediate. To actually give hope that things can and will change...that the situation you feel stuck in isn't forever.


The God I worship totally does bring hope for those situations. Today I was at a praise evening at a Church I have been attending and as I was worshiping God I was drawn to read this verse -


"But as for me, I shall always have hope; I will praise you more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure". Psalm 71:14-15


I want that to be my heart, to ALWAYS have hope...there are times when I hear stories of how rubbish things are with people and I forget what an awesome God I serve. It is easy for us to get sucked into how bad things are and forget that that doesn't have to be the end of the story. I want to be someone who always remembers the greatness of my God and will always praise him more and more. 


I am convinced that when we find ourselves in challenging situations we can rely on a God who is bigger than we can possibly imagine. There is nothing that is too great for him (Luke 1:27) - I just feel like I want to encourage anyone reading this who might feel like giving up or that its too hard that its ok; God knows your struggles and totally wants to help - remind yourself of what he has done and surrender to what he has in store...


Sorry this has turned a little preachy...I just had to get it out.



Neck

So after visiting the Doctor's about my neck I was pretty much in the same position as there wasn't much they could do apart from tell me that it wasn't going to spread and affect my whole body (which I was slightly worried about)...


HOWEVER - the lovely old lady I live with had told me to put something warm on it and to just gently stretch it (this was after intensive praying for it, love her!) and do you know what...it's not totally healed but it is WAY better than it was. 


PRAISE THE LORD.


I think this whole episode has made me realise how much I take my body for granted. I mean its so intricate and can do so many things....you use your neck for a load more things than you think. I'm just glad its on the mend. 


Thanks to any of you who prayed.

31 Oct 2011

Immensity

So much has happened since I last blogged lots of good things, a couple not so good...


I'll start with bad so we end on a high.


I have REALLY hurt my neck...like imagine you have cricked it but now imagine that intense pain ALL THE TIME. It happened when I was in the shower at my friend Josh and Rachel's house in Cardiff...basically I just bent down to pick up my shampoo and my neck went...I just thought it would wear off but hear I am more than 36 hours later and it's not looking so good. In fact its so painful I am going to the Doc's first thing tomorrow because it can't sleep properly and I want them to fix it! 


Over the last 5 days I have been visiting friends all over the place and now that I am back I am just feeling a little bit lonely*. Like I do have friends here around me but when you see deep friends who you have known for ages it just reminds you how much you love them and wish you could spend LOADS of time with them. Getting back yesterday was such a mix of emotions; I was happy coming back as I was pretty exhausted, but I hated leaving the people I had seen. I guess its always the way with holidays, its sometimes nice to come back to home but you always miss being away especially if you see good people.


* So yes I have been hit by a little wave of loneliness BUT today we had my works "Retreat Day". Its where all 50+ of us get out of the office and spend some time praising, learning, and enjoy being together. Anyway there was a part of the day where we had the opportunity to ask God to speak to us on the behalf of someone else and then to feed back. Well when the person who had been praying fed back to me, she mentioned that the word lonely kept on coming up in her head and she felt that God was saying that I will never be on my own, that he is always there, even when I feel far from him. SUCH AN ENCOURAGEMENT.


Good things:
I HAD SO MUCH FUN when I was away!
> Right so saw loads of people all over the place but basically went to Birmingham, Aberystwyth and Cardiff. All in 5 days. boom yea.
> Highlights included: enjoying the hospitality of the Hendersons, Maynards and Kirsty (and her billion housemates), breathing in the sea air, seeing lots of green, seeing the ex-Sabbs, having the most spontaneous boat ride ever, getting a free lift to Cardiff and seeing Josh in a dress.
> It is SO nice to spend time with people who get you...without any effort.


I bought an actually immense book called "the me I want to be" by John Ortberg. I am into the 4th chapter now and it is just such an easy yet meaty book. I am being challenged yet encouraged by it a lot. 


You know that whole thing that God uses us when we're weak and I'm always a bit like "yea he uses us but it's always a bit rubbish"...well today I was just smacked in the face by how gracious God is with us and how he uses us when we're not even that willing. At this retreat day I was supposed to be leading a few parts but when I turned up I found out that I was expected to lead the whole day...ARRRGHH! Not only was my neck hurting but I was hormonal and tired and just not at all in the place where it was ok to drop leading a whole retreat in my lap. But God is faithful. SO FAITHFUL. and so full of grace. He basically made the whole day come together fine despite me being in tears/close to tears for most of the day. Plus so many people have sent me texts to build me up that I really feel totally unworthy of any praise considering I can honestly say it wasn't me but Christ in me. I don't even know how I got through the day to be honest. 


It's been a cracking few days...bar the neck thing. I'll let you know how I get on at the Docs.


Also just a reminder about my giveaway. Only 3.5 days to go to enter...

25 Oct 2011

GIVE AWAY

Right so I have been saying I am going to do a give away for ages but HERE IT IS!


So basically I am giving away this....



Girls it could be yours, guys it could be a very cheap gift for someone! 
Details - it's a dress I have NEVER worn, I bought it about 6 weeks ago thinking I would really like it but I tried it on and can honestly never see me wearing it....label attached. Size S from H&M, it's got three quarter length sleeves and and elasticated band in the middle. 

So here are some more photos to get you interested:




So how can this dress be yours for free???


Well depending on how many things you do depends on how many chances you get to win...
You will be entered once every time you:

  • make my blogs URL your facebook status 
  • tweet my blogs URL
  • blog about my blog
  • convince a friend to follow my blog
Basically when you do something comment on this blog and I'll chase it up and enter you into the draw...then I will draw a name from the hat at random and that will be the winner....the more things you do the higher your chance of winning

DEADLINE: FRIDAY 4th NOVEMBER 12noon.


Boys boys boys

So in my last post I mentioned that I was going to watch an American Football Game at Wembley...well I went mainly because I wanted to spend time with the boys of my family. It's pretty rare that I ever spend time with just them and I hardly ever see Phil properly so I went along not really thinking about the game but it turned out the game was REALLY fun!!


The boys on the way into the stadium
It was a home game for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers so we got free flags to wave...I was actually supporting the Chicago Bears as I have seen them before and I guess if I lived with my family in the States they would be my local team.
My siblings and I - Phil is doing a massive grin here because in the first photo we took his eyes were shut so he was making a proper effort to keep his eyes open this time...makes him look slightly crazed! You can barely see but I'm wearing my Bears hat with pride...
So the two teams playing were the Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs the Chicago Bears - at the beginning of the game each team brings out this HUGE banner which was then passed around the stadium!
Then we sang the American National Anthem

and then, much to my surprise we sang the English one! I guess I shouldn't have been surprised but it was just that two American teams had come to play...
Of course it wouldn't be a proper game without proper snacks...

Anyway I had a lot of fun hanging out with the boys and getting into the game - the final score was 24-18 to the Bears woop! Wembley by the way is pretty immense...defo recommend paying a visit if you get the chance

23 Oct 2011

COLDPLAY

I just have to share my excitement about the fact that Coldplay's new album comes out tomorrow!


WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOP!


Seriously, I've heard a few of the tracks from the EP and I am just like massively excited. 


In other news, today I am going to hear my friend Darach speak at his church and then I'm meeting up with my Dad and brothers to go to Wembley to watch an American Football Game. I'm layering up.


What are you excited about today?

20 Oct 2011

Will my life EVER slow down??

It seems that after my life here in London getting off to a slow start in terms if social life/things to do, now my life is MENTAL.


So this week I reckon I've clocked 37 hours of work in 4 days. On top of that I have also been to a Jens Leckman gig and been to see Johnny English Reborn with Smithy, Davina and Becky. It's been jam-packed.


But all of this is catching up with me. Today has been a struggle. I spent between 8:30-2:30 today helping the Newham team by leading discussions and teaching lessons in school. This meant leaving my house pretty early and believe me my thoughts this morning were not great as I got caught in commuter rushes through central London. However, as I crossed London Bridge I was able to see this beautiful sight which isn't shown in this photo in the slightest but it was so totally what I needed to see. 


As the sun began to rise at roughly 7am this morning I was there to see the sky being a beautiful shade of yellow and was reminded of the fact that God is a God of glory. That he deserves my praise from as soon as I wake up to when I go to sleep, and even as I dream I can be worshiping him. 


I am rubbish at stopping to seek God or listen to him. I'm much more of a Martha than a Mary - I do things rather than just sit at Jesus' feet. But I want that to change - not that I want to change who I am, but I want my hearts desire to be to come and rest with Jesus and to let him speak to me...rather than me power through to get things done.


It's a difficult balance because I want to be efficient and good at my job. In the short-term that means seeing results; however, in the long-term that means investing into sustainable ways of working and I know that for myself I need to be spending more time with God if I am ever to survive.



19 Oct 2011

Manic

Right so I don't have long to write anything of importance but I thought I would post you a pic of my team so you can see the Lewisham crew.



They are trying to lift me higher....as a sign of respect....apparently I'm too short to bow down to.


Will say more when I get a chance.


x

14 Oct 2011

Internet boom.

Today I have got my wireless up and running! Boom. I rang up this week to find out what the issue was with why I couldn't pick up a wireless signal and it turned out that it was in fact a fault of the router....so they sent me a new one....which is now working grandly. 


Anyway, recently I have been getting the bus everywhere and I'm amazed by how the dynamics of buses work. Like you get on a bus and immediately you are looking for a seat by yourself. Always I'm searching to see if there are two free seats that I can sit in. It's only when there are no available two seats that people will sit next to a stranger. This has been something on my mind over the last couple weeks. Not only do I look for seats that are completely free, if I do have to sit next to someone I always sit next to someone I think is safe - generally not the angry man on the phone, or the woman who looks stoned, or the kid at the back of the bus who's got his hood up. 


Now I know why I do it, because to sit next to them could potentially be dangerous. But I wonder what it's like to never have anyone sit next to you. I can remember at school never wanting to be last to be picked for things (and thankfully I very rarely was), but I think that pervades into our adult life as well. We do want to be chosen. Maybe not on the bus, maybe we appreciate space from people. But I think that for me at least I am going to try to make an effort to sit next to people who it might be easy to avoid. If we talk that's cool, even if we don't I hope that Jesus' heart for accepting people exactly as they are will be communicated in some small way.


At the moment something that is really on my mind is that I need to find a venue for a youth club we run after school on a Tuesday. I have found a venue but it's literally on the wrong side of the road over the border not in Lewisham which means I can't get funding from the Council for the club. If there are any pray-ers reading this I would really appreciate prayer that we would find a suitable location in the next week as I really need to have somewhere sorted for next half term.


Thanks followers 

9 Oct 2011

Internet...almost...

Hello faithful followers,


So this week held the exciting arrival of my plusnet router and instructions to set up wireless broadband in my house. Have a managed to work it out....NO! I am so frustrated! Ok yes I am quite technologically inept, but seriously I have gone over the set up manual over and over and I have no idea why it's not working. Basically the internet part is working...I am using it right now - but the wireless part I just cannot figure out. I like to think that I'm good at following instructions but this is flummuxing me. I have resigned myself to ringing the helpline tomorrow.


This week also heralded a wealth of exciting post! I LOVE post - it's so personal and exciting to receive. I want to send special thanks to Ralphy, Kirsty, June, Bekah, Becca, Jop and Rachy - seriously feeling the love guys. I will reply...watch this space.


So this week has been my first with a team and I have been loving it. It's pretty exciting to see how team members get to grips with youth work and what excites them and how God is already growing them. LOVE IT. I have been realising though that leading a team is hard! Just being constantly responsible for sorting things out is pretty intense. Really hoping that God will grow me in that and that I would be a really mold-able vessel - I have so much to learn. 


This weekend I have been down to Bournemouth for a Hen party of my friend Emma who's getting married in 2 weeks. We took part in a "it's a knockout" competition. Possibly the funniest thing I have done in a long time. Imagine 8 different hen/stag groups competing over 6 different events where the aim is just to make people look ridiculous...was just immense. My fave moment was watching my friend Jo charge at an opponent whilst wearing a giant penguin suit. The whole day was a lot of fun as Em seemed to be pretty much up for doing nearly any dare we could throw her way - respect. 


I have been pretty amazed by how God does provide friends and how even though it could be easy for me to feel isolated and lonely, he is just making sure that I am surrounded by people who are able to care for me and include me. Loving it.


Right so I am thinking I'm going to have a give-away in the next week or two so keep your eyes open for that. 


Peace out.

28 Sep 2011

Gangster ways

I'm sorry I'm pretty terrible at writing here consistently. At the moment this is because I have no internet at home...something that I'm hoping to change pretty quick. 


Anyway I thought this would be a good time to catch up up on all the excitement that has gone on in my life over the last few weeks. Just going to bullet point as otherwise this post will be massive.


> I bought new "gangster" trainers. I actually had two pics of different shoes I had seen and asked some of the kids which ones they preferred....these are the ones they chose that I now own.



It's crazy how just having cool shoes does change how the young people relate to you...and I wouldn't necessarily say it's all a good thing. Like I don't ever want to change who I am to fit in, or conform to what is "cool", but then I do want to make real effort to connect with the young people I am working with. It is interesting that most of the kids I work with will be lucky to get a new pair of shoes this year...some of them wear shoes that literally have and continue to fall apart. Poverty isn't just in Africa.

> I made some friends! YAY! Its been so cool to actually have made some friends who live here and who I can hang out with. Luckily I have quite a few people I already know who aren't too far away but just through those friends I have been able to make new ones and feel a lot more settled here. It's so hard to move to a new place and not have deep friendships around...I'm trying to work on that pronto.

> I got a team! So my job in XLP is to lead a team of gap year/degree students in practical youth work. I have 2 degree students who have just started a degree in Theology and Youth Ministry they study 2 days a week and then work with me the rest of the time. I then have 3 other gap yearers who study 1 day a week with XLP and then are with me for the rest of the week. So my team consists of 4 girls and 1 guy (poor dude) and age spans from 18-22. We are all totally different, have different gifts, personalities and methods, but we are praying that God would bind us together as an effective and holy team. We really want to see God move this year.

> I got business cards - possibly the most exciting thing

I feel so ridiculously official now. 


> I went to the Dentist....for the first time since leaving school. Yes 5 years on and my teeth are still fine...yay. Although they did this horrible scrapy thing where they get everything out from between your teeth and it wasn't nice. My teeth has felt pretty sensitive ever since. It's ok though -I've got some Listerine to fight away the plague.


I've been really challenged over the past week to love the place I live. I mean I am here indefinitely and if I am going to be speaking with young people about respecting where they live and getting involved, so I need to love this place first. 


Question - What do you love about where you live?

14 Sep 2011

Living in the city

So over one week into the job and just about getting to grips with various policies, systems, responsibilities etc. I think this week I have really been struck by 2 things. 


Firstly, I actually LOVE the people I work with. They are fantastic at making me feel welcome and helping me when I need them. It's so cool to be able to work with Christians who even though we all go to completely different churches and are from various church backgrounds and areas of the country, we all get on and love each other. It's so cool to see this in practise. 


Secondly, its really weird but kids here actually think I'm cool! Like I always joke that I'm quite cool but really I know I'm quite a geek...but honestly kids genuinely WANT to talk to me and hang out with me. I find this a bit mental, I thought I was going to have to work really hard to build relationships and get teenagers to interact with me...however, it seems they are more than willing to talk to me, its more me actually making sure what I talk about it useful, positive and relevant. 


You might remember me saying I'm reading through Proverbs this month and I've been struck by how much there is about speech and its power. 


"When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise." Prov 10:19


"He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin." Prov 13:3


"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Prov 15:1


So much of the time I react and speak before I have fully thought through what I am saying. I don't want my words to inflict unnecessary pain or judgement on people. I want to be someone who builds people up and can speak the truth of Christ' love. Especially in this job, I have been given such good opportunities...I don't want to waste them.


Anyone else got any thoughts on Proverbs?

7 Sep 2011

It's so on!

Sorry for my neglect in letting you know that I'm still alive and relishing in London life. Thanks for the many of you who have text/facebooked to see if I am, in fact, surviving in Lewisham. You will be happy to know that I am!


So I started on Monday in my official capacity as Lewisham Borough Leader for the charity XLP (www.xlp.org.uk) and it got off to a fantastic start as on Monday mornings all of the people who are employed by XLP meet together to share and pray. It was such an ace time to hear about things that have been going on over the summer with all the mayhem that's been going on. Since then I have been issued with some official XLP clothing...for those of you who mock me for only wearing Aberystwyth merchandise you will be happy to know I'm really branching out...a different brand! I've been going through files, learning strategy, meeting influential people and Church youth workers and doing lots of officey things. This afternoon I get to do my first lot of actual youth work as I'm going to help run the Abbey Wood bus session. I'm excited for 2 reasons. 1- When I did my gap year here I used to work in Greenwich on this estate and used to love spending time with kids on the bus. 2- This is a fantastic opportunity to watch and see how XLP has evolved since I've been gone and to watch how different Borough Leaders do things...hoping to absorb as much as possible.


All in all things are GREAT! Really loving the work and being back in London.


I was also a bridesmaid on Saturday...pics below....more later.




29 Aug 2011

The countdown continues

So only one week to go until I begin my new job with XLP (www.xlp.org.uk) and I have fully recuperated from my exhausting week of working with kids and am now gearing up to get going.

I have spent this morning packing up my room and am currently sitting here with foils in my hair waiting for bleach to work its magic. Tomorrow I am moving to London and at the weekend I am being a bridesmaid for my friend Clare. I love my life!

I am getting so excited about starting now. I just want to get to know as much as I can about Lewisham and the people there. It is quite scary when I think about the fact I'm moving to a new place and that I don't know anyone...but I know that this is where I am supposed to be and that I will be fine once I get to grips with everything I'm supposed to know.

September is a chance to start new things and I joined a group on facebook where you read a chapter in Proverbs every day through Sept. I am going to give it a go to try and dig deeper into the word of God. I love the things you learn through Proverbs - Prov 15:1 "a gentle answer turns away wrath" that has been something so useful for me. But yea its kind of like New Years, its another chance to start things a fresh. I am terrible at waiting to start things until the beginning of the month or term or holiday etc...I am looking forward to getting on with this pronto.

Are you starting anything new in September?

26 Aug 2011

When fatigue sets in...

It's a Friday so its understandable to be tired...but oh my word am I tired!

This week I have been helping at my Church's Holiday Bible Club, and fair play its only been 3 hours every morning, but it has totally exhausted me. To the extent that I had to have a nap yesterday and today. I'm wondering whether I'll be able to handle a "real" job when it starts in 10 days time. Who would have thought that being out of the work environment for 2 months was enough to make me lose my work stamina.

So because I have been so tired I have been thinking about how important it is to rest properly. I am normally pretty rubbish at really resting because I find it hard to switch off and allow myself to do nothing. I'm also pretty bad at really having a "sabbath" or whole day of rest. It's something I want to get better at over this next year. It's pretty important just because i'm going to have have endurance to get through the terms and not get burnt out.

I've been burnt out before and it's just horrible, you feel really numb and exhausted all the time. I don't want to get into that position in this role.

Resting is where it is at.

22 Aug 2011

and the count down begins....

dum dum dum, dum dum dum, doo doo, doo doo, doodly doo duuuumm....(my version of the countdown clock from Countdown)

Right so since my last post I've been to London, the South coast, Birmingham and Aberystwyth and back so its been a busy busy week. And it's only just hit me that 2 weeks today I start at XLP (www.xlp.org.uk). Before then I have 4 days of a Church holiday club to help with, an opticians appointment, have to plan and lead my Church service on Sunday, pack to move to London, move to London, visit my grandparents, have a family day out, listen to live jazz, get my nails done, set up a wedding reception, be a bridesmaid, deliver 3000 Alpha leaflets and actually be in London ready to go on Monday 5th.

WHOA.

Mental.

Saying this however, I LOVE being busy. I have been thinking over this last week I actually cannot wait to start now. I have enjoyed my summer break loads but I'm itching to just get on with it now and get my teeth into something that I'm passionate about.

Today has been my brother's birthday. Daniel turned 10 today. I got back from Birmingham this evening in time for dinner not really knowing what we were going to be doing. Got back to find that we were having a roast dinner and that it was the 5 of us, plus my grandparents, and my other brother's girlfriend and our lodger. Dan hadn't been allowed to open all his presents so before dinner he was able to rip into them and delight himself in Wii games, a Chelsea kit, football boots, and this really cool water/foam bullet gun. It was really nice to be able to there for his birthday as the last few years i've been away at various things. I love it when kids get excited about occasions. Apparently Dan had been so keen that on Saturday he woke up convinced it was his birthday then! I think I want to be someone who does find life exciting and who can join in excitement with people.

Over the weekend I was in Aberystwyth for my friend's wedding. It was a fantastic day celebrating and catching up with some people I haven't seen for actual AGES. I love seeing old friends. It was also a chance to say a proper goodbye to people in Aber and also to people who are moving on from there too. Weddings are such joyful times! I loved it. Plus my friends Pinch and Malc were the photographers (www.mustardyellowphotography.blogspot.com) and I was staying with them before and after the wedding. They let me edit a few of the photos from the wedding! Ha. It's been a really fun week.

I've been thinking lots about shared vision and getting people alongside you who are passionate about going in the same direction you are. Whether it be hobbies, projects or jobs I've been thinking about how lucky I have been that God has totally surrounded me with people who have pushed, challenged and stretched me as we have worked together to make things happen. It's crazy what we learn from those around us.

At this wedding I was able to catch up with my friend Lydia who I used to meet up with every week to chat and pray with during my years at uni. They were really ace times where we were honest with eachother about where we were at with God, with life etc. It was so good to know that we were standing with eachother in prayer for stuff at different times. She really taught me about listening to the Holy Spirit and just saying stuff that you felt God was saying...even if it wasn't right it was better to say it and test it out than not say it and miss out on the blessing from it. Seeing her on Saturday really made me miss that. Think I'm going to have to find a new Lydia in London.

Are there people in your life who have had an impact on you, have challenged, stretched or inspired you?

14 Aug 2011

Sunny Sundays

So today I have had such a fun day mainly because it's been incredibly competitive and those of you who know me know that I have quite a competitive nature...well maybe that's an under statement. I LOVE TO WIN. 


My friend is visiting me this week and I've been introducing her to some new games and winning a lot. Now I know there's nothing proud of to beat someone who's new to the game etc...but what about beginners luck?! I mean I have been overcoming that too. Win. 


This afternoon a group of people from my Church went to the park to play a game of softball (bit like baseball but with a bigger ball which is defo not soft!) Anyway, in true Allen fashion my Dad split me up from my brothers to increase the game banter. In Softball you play 7 innings and half way through my team was down by 5 runs. We managed to claw it back to being only one behind by the close of the game. 


In years gone by I would have fought and cried because we lost...pretty glad I've grown out of that now. The thing is is that I just loved playing. It was really fun to be outside with lots of other people and to enjoy a friendly game. Yes both of my brothers beat me but I felt neither the need or urge to make excuses as to why my team had lost. I think this is what it feels like to be a grown up!

10 Aug 2011

What I'm loving Wednesday...

Following in the footsteps of my friend Rachel (who I think got the idea from another blogger), I'm taking some time to express what I am loving at the moment!

#1. FAMILY TIME.

Yesterday we went to visit Bodiam Castle all 5 of us. It's been a long time since we have done anything just the 5 of us and it was so much fun going to spend some time together. Firstly, my brother Phil is hilarious when it comes to anywhere historical as he takes on the tour-guide persona which generally cracks everyone up. I reckon he could probably get paid for doing it because it's pretty comical. Secondly, my parents kept on bringing up memories from when we had done other family trips many years ago. I love being able to remember with them and laugh about silly things that happened. And lastly, while we were there my other brother Dan who is turning 10 this month asked me about God and how you can know him more. Was just such an out of the blue question but SO cool that he's thinking about it.

#2. FRIENDS.

I spent this morning catching up with a friend I haven't seen properly in actual AGES. But it was fantastic to spend some quality time talking about what has been happening with each of us. I love friendships where even if you don't see them for ages, you have such a solid foundation that it's totally fine and you can just pick up where you left off.

#3. SUN.

I just love the sun. I love how it makes everything seem better in the world. Even when there is loads of rubbishness going on, sun seems to make it that much easier.

9 Aug 2011

What is going on in the world?

So it's been nearly three weeks since I last blogged and so much has happened in that time. I'll give you a brief overview:

NEW WINE: Drove down to Somerset with my lodger Smellen for a week camping in Shepton Mallet and to serve at a Christian Festival. We were both working in the main venue which could seat 5000 at least I reckon. I was on the cafe team so got to learn a new skill in working a barrista machine and honing my milk frothing ability. In between shifts I got the chance to listen to some ace Bible teaching. Was really challenged by the fact that the Bible is full of ordinary people. I mean I have always known this in my head, but it really hit me that the people God used back then to fulfil his purposes were ordinary people. The Bible says that "Elijah was a man just like us" (James 5:17). I guess that just reassured me that God uses normal people...I'm sure that plenty of you would argue that I'm not exactly normal but to me that was a bit of a wake up call that just because I'm not sorted doesn't mean that God can't use me. So much of the time I think Christians feel pressure to have their lives completely in order so that God can use them, and I don't think there's anything wrong from doing your best for God...but God isn't limited by our weaknesses. He uses us anyway! Mental. I mean look at Jonah - a totally unwilling prophet who ran away from God but God still used him even though he wasn't really that repentant. He had a rubbish attitude but God, in his grace, used him to start a miraculous revival. So anyway, yes New Wine was a really good week of being able to praise God, learn more of him and have space to listen to what he was saying.

HEN PARTY: I came back from New Wine on Fri 29th and the next day I was leading a Hen Party for my friend Clare who's getting married at the start of Sept. It was a hilarious day filled with picnics, dress up, crazy golf, disposable cameras, a great meal in the evening followed by disney! I am one of 6 bridesmaids for this wedding and am currently hunting for ivory shoes (size 5) if anyone has any that I could borrow??

FAMILY DAY: A couple days after the Hen Party we decided to have a family day. My parents and brother (and his friend) had driven over to the East Kent coast for the week and so I drove my other brother, myself and my brother's friend's mum and brother (confusing I know) over to join them. We had a fantastic day in the sun. Had a picnic on the beach, ended up having a battle with the incoming tide as to whether our defences of a moat and wall of sand would hold....it probably bought us about 10 minutes extra time before we had to move. Played a game of crazy golf (of which I won over all!) and then enjoyed some more time on a nicer, sandy beach in Margate. I've realised how much I really enjoy being able to be with my family. We do get on really well now that myself and my brother are a bit older and days out are always filled with hilarity of some nature.

XLP CAMPING: So on the 5th I went to join a group of about 18 kids (11-17) from estates that XLP work on to go on a camping trip down to Dorset. It was possibly the most intense induction to the kind of work I will be doing EVER. Myself and about 9 other leaders were in charge of making sure our kids stayed out of trouble and enjoyed their time away from the luxuries of home. There were no showers, limited electricity and our only shelter was either tents or a marquee. Safe to say some were not happy, others took to it quite well. We took them to different activities including: high ropes, climbing/abseiling, trampolining, skiing, tunnelling etc. As well as getting them to cook on camping stoves, going on nightwalks and playing sardines in the woods. While it was totally exhausting, it was a fantastic way to get to know some of the kids on the estates I will be working on. So many of these kids are hardened to any show of kindness that they find it really hard to understand when you are genuinely trying to be nice. Respect is a big thing and something I will be trying to cultivate. I have no idea how! Advice welcome.

RIOTS: Now that I'm back in the real world and able to see what is going on in our country I am pretty disturbed by all that is going on in our cities. I can understand where kids are coming from when they have limited opportunities to succeed, but if they think that that justifies them to ruin any potential livelihood that they might get in their areas they are clearly wrong. It really upsets me because I have no doubt that some of the kids I have just spent the week with will be involved in what has been happening. I think a lot of it is that they want to be involved in something, not to miss out. I've seen loads of people pointing to this verse in the wake of all that is happening - Jeremiah 29:7 "Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper." I think that this is our answer. The government can bring in the army, can bring in as many Police officers as it likes but unless their is a shift in attitude there is going to be hostility for a long time. It is God who can change people's hearts. I love this verse in Ezekial 36 "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." That is such a cool picture. I would encourage any Christians reading this to pray seriously for the riots and for the roots of it to be dealt with. If you're not a Christian I would be really interested to know what you think viable solutions are to the riots.

Sorry for such an essay...I'll try to blog sooner....