30 Apr 2013

Live Below The Line - Day 2

Today was a lot better. Firstly I woke up not feeling hungry - win! And to be honest up until about 6pm today I hadn't had any serious hunger pangs. Result.

So today I ate 

Breakfast: One bowl of cornflakes (really resemble sawdust)

Lunch: 4 slices of bread with lemon curd and an apple (I had been planning on eating my pasta shells with tomato and onion flavouring...but it needed a kettle and we were eating in a park with no access to one...it was ok though - the bread filled me up)

Dinner: I turned rice, onion, carrot, sweetcorn, kidney beans and chopped tomatoes into a dish that I ate with some flatbreads I made - how did I make these I hear you ask...?! Well with my 30p I worked out that I could use 300g of plain flour that I have in my cupboard (1.5kg cost £1.50). I only actually used 100g but I mixed the flour with water (thanks Bex for the suggestion) and baked/fried in a frying pan. Tasted a bit bland - could have done with some salt...however they were great at bulking out the meal.

I've been struck with how generous people have been in supporting me to do this challenge. I have been blown away with how much has been raised for Tearfund so far. And I'm only on Day 2! It's so so encouraging knowing that people are behind you and it's totally making me want to do this properly and not cheat. 

Today my team and I had lunch in the park in the sun - lots of people had bought things to share...I held firm and didn't accept anything. Many people who live on £1 or less don't have the luxury of getting gifts from people - it sucks! Thankfully I only have 3 days left to go. 

Thanks to everyone who's done it all ready - If you are thinking about sponsoring me please visit https://www.livebelowtheline.com/me/naomiallen

29 Apr 2013

Live Below The Line - Day 1

On edge. I think that is how I would describe my mood for today. I think psychologically I've been building up to this for quite a while and preparing for something which, to be honest, isn't that big a deal. Plenty of people live on really low incomes and make meals on this amount of money - it is possible. 

And yet. I've been nervous all day. Am I going to survive? Will I be constantly hungry? Is it going to affect my mood? 

So anyway here is what I have eaten:
Breakfast: One bowl of cornflakes (2/10 - pretty much the blandest thing known to man)
Lunch: Chicken flavour noodles and 2 slices of toast with lemon curd (noodles 3/10 - did not taste like chicken. Toast 5/10 - lemon curd gave me a little sweet kick.)
Dinner: I turned this....

A tasty risotto - seasoned with the pepper I bought. (4/10 - pretty stodgy but quite filling)

I have drunk SO much water - enough to make me pee non-stop (potentially too much info...) but I think it's helped to stop the hunger pangs. 

I realised at lunch time just how different this week is for me compared to normal. My favourite place to get lunch on a Monday is this place around the corner from my office called Flying Burrito where I would get a pork (roasted in cider!) burrito for £6.10. Not today. 

I've felt alright but I think I'm having caffeine withdrawal as I've had a headache since about 3pm. 

Day 1 has been a bit weird - but I've been so encouraged that people have continued to sponsor me. Hoping that with a bit of rest tomorrow will be better. 

28 Apr 2013

Live Below the Line - The Prep

Today was my last day eating as usual. I enjoyed it by eating a Sainsburys Tikka and Jalfrezi Meal for 2 (eaten with my friend Annie - I'm not that greedy!) a mini magnum icecream and a McDonalds double cheeseburger. Total cost = £5.79....more than the entire amount I am spending on food this week.

I went shopping earlier and this is what I got...

In case you want to know the list:
  • One big bag of cornflakes (31p)
  • A loaf of wholemeal bread (50p)
  • Lemon curd (22p)
  • 2 x instant pasta packet (tomato and onion flavour...) (2 x 21p)
  • 3 x instant noodles (supposedly chicken flavoured) (3 x 15p)
  • Long grain rice 1kg (40p)
  • Chopped tomatoes 400g (31p)
  • Red kidney beans 400g (21p)
  • Tinned sweetcorn 198g (22p)
  • Ground black pepper (25p)
  • 10 veg stock cubes (15p)
  • 1 baking potato (31p)
  • 1 onion (14p)
  • 2 carrots (21p)
  • 2 apples (35p)
  • 1 banana (14p)
  • 1 egg (16p)
Which totalled at £4.70 ...with 30p to spare!

One thing that really struck me as I wandered the aisles is the total lack of choice I had. Whereas generally I can compare prices and see what the best value for money is compared with quality...this week, quality does not get a look in. I have gone for things that hopefully will just fill me up. I've tried to squeeze in some fruit/veg but it's really hard as you can't tell how much it's going to be until you get to the till!

Originally I wasn't going to get bread and was just going to concentrate on things I could cook. However after reading a blog of someone who did this a few years ago, they mentioned how good it was to be able to have a piece of bread/toast before bed so you weren't feeling hungry...to be honest that sounded good to me. 

I've been blown away at the number of people getting behind me with this project. It's been so encouraging! I've had people posting various articles and advice on my wall, others promoting my sponsorship page for me and lots of people sponsoring me. I have in fact already reached my target of £200 - WOOP!! However, I genuinely would love to raise as much as I can for Tearfund - they do such quality work with people living on this amount of money and less day to day. So don't let the fact I've reached the target put you off. Please still think about supporting me if you can.

Let the hunger begin. 

26 Apr 2013


It struck me this week as my blog smashed it's previous record of views in a month, that people like stories that expose human-ness. We like to know that we aren't the only one who's done something stupid. 

Within 36 hours my post this week about my embarrassing moments was the second most read post I have ever done. The most read post is the one I wrote about the awkward massage which has had 250+ views. 

We like it when others show us the side that a lot of the time stays hidden. 

I was at a Women's Curry Night on Monday evening and it struck me how, after people had read my post, they were more willing to share embarrassing moments they had had. Or if they could relate to one of mine they would be happy to tell their story. 

There is something about vulnerability that welcomes more vulnerability. If I'm honest with you, you can be honest with me. 

But generally we don't like to admit the times when we've done something silly, or made a huge mistake, or when we were weak. I will be honest with you - I will often put my foot in things...or say something that I immediately regret (Point #10 of my embarrassing moments eluded to this) - it is generally really embarrassing and at times I wish I could have punched myself in the face just before I said anything...just to stop myself getting into that situation. 

Thankfully I work with people who are great. Who, yes, laugh at me, but who also laugh at themselves too. Being ok about who we are as individuals is weirdly freeing. I know that I am a right nutter sometimes, but hopefully that encourages those around me to be a bit more themselves too (we are all a little crazy).

I'm glad you guys seem to have enjoyed reading some embarrassing moments - it's cool to know you appreciate my ridiculousness. Feel free to be open about things that have happened to you too! 

22 Apr 2013


So thanks to all of you who read yesterdays post...I had the most views in one day...and now you all know ridiculously embarrassing things about me...great!

The other part of that prank was that I had to write some reasons on why I would make a good wife...well not going to lie felt like it was a little hard just to think of reasons without any direction; so I have looked in the Bible and have slightly adapted the chapter which talks about what a wife should be like...to what I could actually offer - You can find the original in Proverbs 31.

A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
Not 100% sure I would class myself as having "noble" character, but I have a cheerful character. I am worth a diamond ring on my finger..! Hopefully my husband would not be materialistic and then he wouldn't miss it if we didn't have extra conveniences...but would value my creativity.        

She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
I would hope to bring my husband good, not trouble. However, I cannot guarantee I would collect wool or flax...I do like to collect little pebbles or silly postcards - and I like to keep busy...blogging...


She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
I do like to pick food up from the takeaway but I'm not sure you would consider that "afar" and it is rare that I would get up while it is still dark as I'm more of a night owl than a morning bird. Clearly I do not agree with the slave trade and so have no servants.

She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
I have never bought a field, or house, or anything particularly expensive. I have bought holidays and various trips. I am also not blessed with the green fingers so planting anything turns to disaster...however I have successfully kept a hamster alive for over a year. I am enthusiastic about my work and it is safe to say I do have strong arms.

She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
Considering I do no trading, I have little/no profits and my lamp definitely does go out at night, generally around midnight. I have no idea what a distaff or spindle are so it is unlikely that I hold or grasp one.

She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
I do like to stop and talk to homeless people and have made a friend out of the big issue lady outside the Lee Green Sainsburys. When it snows I have no fear, apart from when I attempt the icy stairs outside my house. Pretty sure that purple isn't my colour - prefer blues and yellow...and I clearly don't make my bed linen.

Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
If my husband spent his whole day sitting at a gate I would not be happy. I do not make any clothes to sell or wear...and I have never been able to successfully customise clothing. Not sure anyone would describe me as someone of dignity...but I do laugh, generally at myself. 

She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
I speak. A lot. Probably a lot without wisdom, occasionally with. I do watch over the house - make sure Beth has her fair share of washing up and that we have enough loo roll. I only eat Hovis Best of Both.

Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
‘Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.’
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
I cannot recall the young people I work with ever calling me "blessed"...that't not really their style. Not going to lie - I am looking for a husband who would totally say I was the best. I do fear the Lord.

This passage doesn't give room for me to advertise my impressive dance or humming abilities. Nor does it mention about creating fun - also a talent I possess. 

So yes - I could be a wife of potentially noble character (with a few exciting extras!)


21 Apr 2013


The reason for this post is utterly ridiculous. You may have observed my facebook profile over the last weekend has had some rather odd posts...and well...none (or very few) of them have been me! 

I have been having a friend to stay who in their pesky pranky way decided it would be fun to set me up to have to write a blog post about my embarrassing moments and on why I would make a good wife. AWKWARD.

Anyway, not wanting to back out of a challenge (and kind of wanting to turn this in my favour) I have accepted the task.

The exact challenge said I had to give my top 10 embarrassing moments, and my top 10 inappropriate moments...now for me they overlap a fair bit and so I have gone for a combined top 10. In no particular order, enjoy.

#1 Seeing the Vice Chancellor of my University with an open posture and assumed he was inviting a hug...realised as I was hugging him that he had in fact gone in for a handshake and that his hand was now trapped against my boob...

#2 The Massage - (it was traumatic, you can read about it here)

#3 The time when I saw someone in the street who I thought I knew and went and gave them a hug and started catching up with them and was about 5 mins into the conversation before I realised the only reason I recognised them was because they worked in the co-op and occasionally served me...

#4 The time when I was in Sixth Form and really liked a guy and spent all of an afternoon hanging out with him and then he kissed my head before going to get the bus...and I was like "OH MY WORD!" and decided I would text my friend telling her how amazing the afternoon had been and how he had kissed my head and how I was in love....and then sent it to him by mistake...

#5 Asking someone that I hadn't seen for a couple years when she was due...and then being told she wasn't pregnant...

#6 Getting changed in my old office (which didn't have curtains) and full on flashing one of the site staff as they did their locking up rounds...

#7 Wetting myself as an adult. This, embarrassingly, has happened on more than one occasion. Worst time...when sleeping in my own living room at uni...surrounded by friends...

#8 Being rebuked by the student pastor for playing a little inappropriate game called "cuppy cuppy"...if I explained it I'd probably get rebuked again...

#9 Flashing my history teacher on a school trip to Rome when we were playing volleyball in the sea - dived to hit the ball, stood up....and bikini had "shifted"...

#10 Accidentally saying things I don't mean - e.g. I said that while my colleague was in the bathroom I had checked out his downstairs...clearly meaning the downstairs of his house! Or the time I was on the XLP stand at Soul Survivor and I held my hand up for a high 5 and instead of saying "give me a high 5", I said "touch me up"....meaning touch my hand up here....and then people twist it and make it dirty....

Ok the wife thing is going to have to wait for another day. Hope you have enjoyed laughing at this ridiculousness.

17 Apr 2013

Tribute. Beth Evans you are a winner.

So, I know I've said it before but, my housemate is a beauty. Seriously, considering I didn't really know her when I moved in (a bit of a long story), it has worked out so well.

So here is a top 10 of why I think Beth Evans is a WINNER.

#1. She found a beautiful oasis of a house and invited me to live in it with her.
#2. She shares her ice-cream with me
#3. She doesn't get annoyed when I make random noises when we're just working in the evenings...(I do that a lot)
#4. She is a fantastic listener and super encourager
#5. She is someone who wants to love others and be there for them - really servant-hearted. Even with the kids she teaches she just serves them by teaching them really well. 

#6. She makes me laugh A LOT
#7. We share an ability to kill all plants in our care
#8. She enjoys adventures
#9. She shares a love of Revenge, Grey's Anatomy and Broadchurch
#10. She is super laid back and a joy to live with - she totally oozes Jesus to me. 

Outside our house
Her usual antics of getting into trouble with the Police...

So yea. I am really lucky to live with someone who is great and who finds me (vaguely) funny. 

Beth - you truly are a joy and blessing in my life. 

ps. Please don't be mad by the number of photos in this post...and take to heart the deep words of love....

16 Apr 2013


Yesterday was a bit of a surreal day. I was sitting eating some dinner and just glancing over my twitter feed (with Poirot in the background on TV) and saw some posts about explosions in Boston. 

Immediately I felt my heart constrict and turned to BBC News 24 to work out what was going on. I must have watched the same news report and video footage about 8 times before I figured they couldn't tell us any more yet. The idea of people targeting innocent spectators at an event geared towards achievement and celebration is sobering. 

Yet when it boils down to the facts, 3 people died and 170 people were injured. This is tragic and deserves our attention and sympathy. However, across in Iraq at least 31 people were killed and at least 200 injured yesterday too.

But I didn't see that on the News and even if I had I know I probably would have tuned out. Because I have become numb to stories of violence in war-torn countries. I have switched off to prolonged violence because I don't know how to handle it. 

Huge numbers of people have died in Iraq, Syria and Iran in the last day(s) and yet we don't hear about it half as much as we did about a relatively small number in the US. 

I know the media has an agenda about what it covers - what people will find interesting etc. But I also know that not reporting about things to the same extent can make me think that people in USA/UK are more important than my global family. I don't want to be numb to the realities of the world. It is hard to really allow yourself to digest all that goes on, and sometimes it's hugely painful; but I don't want to just gloss over the fact that people around the world face deadly situations on a daily basis. 

14 Apr 2013

Live Below The Line

Last week I had a call from probably my favourite charity (after XLP of course).


They were ringing because I had recently made a donation to their Syria Appeal (you might remember I wrote a post about Syria a few weeks ago - you can read it here). Not only were they thanking me for the donation but also asking if I would consider giving on a regular basis. Now if I'm honest, I can't commit to giving to something else - I already have a number of charities that I support and I don't have any more capacity for adding to that right now. However, I really do love the work of Tearfund and said that if there were other ways I could support their work I would be interested in knowing more. 

I was directed to think about taking part in the Live Below The Line campaign. 

The idea is to raise awareness for the 1.4 billion people who live below the poverty line, or on less than $1.25 a day by committing to living on £1 a day for 5 days. 

Now I often think about how much I have and about how I take things for granted; and so I have agreed to take part. From 29th April - 3rd May I will be living on £1 a day. It is only for food as I actually have to go to work (which does cost), but living on £1 a day is actually pretty tricky. 

By doing this hopefully I'll encourage you to check out the campaign for yourself but also I'm hoping to raise some money for Tearfund. The whole Live Below The Line campaign is actually run jointly as part of the IF Campaign which you can read more about...it's really good!

Anyway if you would like to sponsor me in this venture please visit here - anything, big or small is really appreciated. 

11 Apr 2013

Post Spring Harvest

So I survived the week in Minehead with the 11-14's Distinctive crew. Not only did I survive I felt like I really thrived too. I genuinely loved it!

My team

I was working with a group of people I had never met before and while I was a little nervous about doing something with new people, I was so SO impressed at how welcoming the team were. It was a genuine joy to meet people from across the country who had all come to serve the young people and work together to see God move amongst the 11-14's.

It was a pretty intense week of long hours, lots of singing, shouting, fun and laughter. I was running a small group (or 25 kids...not that small!), hosting, running Distinctive's Got Talent (with the fabulous John Rogers) and leading a couple seminars. There was lots to do and my voice has taken a battering - I'm a little croaky now. BUT God was doing amazing things.

We saw young people getting healed, saved, released and meet Jesus in new ways. It was so so cool to be a part of it. I mean, God doesn't need us to work, yet he chooses to let us be a part of what he's doing...and it's SO exciting!

Thank you to those of you who were praying for me - I really appreciate it all. My seminars and talks went really well and I felt like God was using me to speak into situations, which is always a good sign. 

It was also hilarious - we played a lot of games (I got gravy sprayed into my mouth from a water gun and my face covered in shaving foam and then had sponges thrown at my face...) I also somehow managed to get conned into dancing to S Club 7 on stage...!

(dancing happening)

All in all, I was totally blessed by the team I was working with, the young people I was leading and my God who is faithful in everything.

It was a good week.

3 Apr 2013

Pre - Spring Harvest

So tomorrow I head over to Spring Harvest for 6 days. 

I am going to be taking part in the Distinctive Team (11-14's) and to support some of the work XLP is doing too. 

There are a few things I would really appreciate prayer for (or positive thoughts if praying's not for you)
  • On Friday morning I am doing a seminar on "The Gospel" and I'm hoping to unpack what the good news of Jesus really is. I need some wisdom and sensitivity to make sure I present it in an appropriate way.
  • On Saturday night I am speaking to all 400 11-14's about courage and why as Christians we need to be courageous. Pray for peace and to not dig myself a hole on stage.
  • On Sunday morning I am doing a seminar on "The Overflow" and how to live a life of evangelism in all you do. Please pray that the Holy Spirit would take over as this is the one I have done the least preparation for. (Or that I get time before that to make my prep better)
  • XLP is launching our XL-Mentoring National Project which is looking for churches to mentor vulnerable young people in their communities. On one day I'll be helping to speak with people who are interested in finding out more. Please pray that I give the right information!
I really appreciate your support guys and however you give it. 

2 Apr 2013

Les Miserables

It finally happened. After months of wanting to see it and struggling to find people who hadn't already seen it I went and watched Les Mis on Sunday night. 

I went with my Dad and it was hilarious - we had bought tickets online and chosen our seats, we turn up to the screen and there are no more than 10 people in there...2 of whom are sat in our seats! Ha, it was fine. We sat somewhere else.

But I really was moved by the film. 

So many people had spoken about how good it was that I was a little worried I was going to have too high expectations. Thankfully, the film really lived up to them. 

I was really struck between the differences between Valjean and Javert. (I'm assuming people reading this post have also seen the film; if you haven't, you can read a synopsis of the plot here) Valjean is shown grace and it totally humbles him and changes him into a man who uses his life for good. Javert cannot handle grace because he is so tied to the law - when Valjean lets him go he just cannot understand why. 

I wonder if that is what people are like when it comes to God. Some are able to accept grace and accept the love of Christ and what he has done for us. Others find the concept crazy - they cannot get that they don't have to work for salvation. That it is freely given. That it is available to all, no matter what their past or reputation. 

Clearly it is an emotional film - I was sobbing as Fontine sang her "I dreamed a dream". Partly because I reckon that a lot of people (especially girls) can probably identify with that song. It talks of how life doesn't live up to the dreams we had when we were young. It was so sad, through no fault of her own Fontine was forced onto the street and had to make money to send back to her daughter...how do you make legitimate money when you are on the street?! I know it's a film, but actually it is more true to life than we like to admit. 

It is a super intense film but you just spend the whole thing willing Valjean to succeed, to elude Javert and to live freely.

All in all, I would say it's a must see - if you haven't been yet it's worth the ticket price for sure.