30 Oct 2013

Bible Challenge

WARNING: This post uncovers a very geeky side to me that some of you may have not seen before. PLEASE DON'T JUDGE ME! 

So about 10 days ago I was meandering through a charity shop with a couple of my friends who were on a "cheap decorations mission". In charity shops I normally gravitate towards jeans (because people throw out perfectly decent pairs of jeans that have years of life left in them), or books (like I don't have enough already). However, on this particular occasion one of my friends pointed out a board game to me...I think as a joke. Nevertheless, I was transfixed and wouldn't leave the shop until we had got it down and opened it up to see what it was.

The game was Bible Challenge. 

Now, I didn't actually buy it then as the people I was with thought I was a right lunatic for even considering to purchase such an item. I went back and bought it on Sunday because I had been thinking about it all week. Ha!

Right so at this point I want to give a bit of a disclaimer:
By choosing to read this blog you are choosing to know the real Naomi Allen. The one who is weirdly eccentric with hints of Phoebe from "Friends"; the one who has a strange sense of humour and tends to laugh at her own jokes. The Naomi who looks to appreciate the little things, who often gets things wrong and who is unashamedly Christian.

Phew, so now that that is out there I feel vaguely better about introducing you to this wonderful game. So basically it is a board game which tests your Biblical knowledge in a number of categories - think Trivial Pursuit but very Christian. The aim is to get a question right from each of the 7 categories:
  • Old Testament
  • New Testament
  • Life of Christ
  • Quotations
  • Places
  • People
  • General

Once you get a question from a category right you get the corresponding colour ring and once you have all the rings, you have to answer a final question about the life of Christ to win. 

Now, I know that it sounds weird that I actually enjoy this game but I genuinely do! I brought it home to play with my family and it has been hilarious and a great way to see where I should be reading up in the Bible (clearly not just to win the game, generally too!) I think I like it because it proves to me what has gone in when I read the Bible and what hasn't. 

What has baffled me is that I have shown this game to a number of Christians who have just balked at such a game. Clearly if you aren't a Christian/don't know the Bible I probably would not recommend this to you (for obvious reasons); however, I don't get why a Christian wouldn't want to play something that, not only is fun (I love competition of all sorts), but also is helping you learn more about God's word. 

To be honest it's other peoples reactions to the game that have made me a bit apprehensive about blogging about it incase people think I'm some kind of really uncool Bible geek (which I'm not sure is a bad thing). The thing is I am still the same Naomi! I am under no illusions that this is clearly not the coolest thing to be proud of; but I love games and I love the Bible...this then is a winner of a game for me.

If anyone wants to play let me know!

24 Oct 2013

Mentoring Group

For the past year I've been meeting on a monthly basis with my boss and the other 6 people who do my job in different London Boroughs for XLP. We meet to talk about the challenges of the job, support each other and also to learn and grow together to be the best leaders we can be.

Now when this group started I wasn't particularly keen. Sharing is tough! I mean each time I am slightly apprehensive as they generally require an uncomfortable amount of self-disclosure/transparency and that is always a bit scary; but I always come out of them feeling that the honesty has happened in a safe place and that I'm the better for it. 

We have been working through a book that I have endorsed a number of times on this blog called "The Me I Want To Be" by John Ortberg. It looks at how we can practically allow God to make us into the best versions of ourselves. The last couple of sessions we have been looking at temptation, sin and being honest with people. Pretty heavy stuff! It's hard being that open with people.

But the thing is, having people who you can be honest with, who you can share the things you struggle with with, who won't change their opinion of you...now that is so refreshing. 

I am really blessed that the people I work with are people I can also call friends. That they are people who I can trust. They are people who are on the same journey as me, who get the tough bits and the parts which make you cry with joy. They are the people who are honest back and who are willing to take the risk and share too. 

Mentoring group has been a journey. A journey of self discovery within a community of friends who all want to be God's best version of of themselves - I hope through doing this we are getting a bit closer to the goal.

22 Oct 2013


This last Sunday I was lucky enough to see my youngest brother get baptised. Now people have lots of ideas about baptism, what it is, why you do it etc...so I just wanted to spend a few moments talking about why he decided to get baptised and why over 14 years ago I got baptised too.

So first of all, to clarify, we are talking about full immersion baptism (otherwise known as believer's baptism, or "the real thing"); not christening or infant baptism where you get sprinkled with water. Here, you go fully under the water, to symbolise leaving your old life behind (dying), and then come up out of the water to symbolise the fact you now have a new life (being raised). 

On Sunday my brother Dan told the whole Church that he was getting baptised because he had seen God's power in his own life and wanted to live the life that God wanted him to live. It was so flipping powerful - like he's 12, and he was really eloquent in why he had come to make this decision. So my parents baptised him.

(can't work out how to rotate this...sorry!)
It wasn't just him who got baptised on Sunday - 3 others from the youth group went for it too. In a world which rarely praises young people I was SO proud of them for being brave enough to publicly say that they loved God and wanted to live for him. 

It made me reflect a bit on the journey I have come on since getting baptised myself. I got baptised when I was 11 after deciding that I wanted God to be in control of my life because I figured he knew better than I did. It was easy to say that as an 11 year old, most people knew better than I did...growing up it got harder to allow God to stay in control. You see developing a relationship with God is kind of like a graph like this:

There are definite high and low points. Places where you feel incredibly close to God, and times when you wonder whether he really exists at all. Times when you have lots of questions and can be prone to doubt, times when your faith is unshakable. 

I have learnt so much about God, who he is, what his heart is, what he asks from me over the years and it is pretty epic looking back and seeing how much he has changed me into the person I am today. 

It all started when I got baptised. 

17 Oct 2013

Bastille and Ikea

Safe to say this week has been WEIRD! 

Like I blogged on Monday night about how life is busy but good. And that is defo still the case. But this week has been the most random assortment of spontaneous events ever!

So on Tuesday I got offered a ticket to go see Bastille (click on the link if you have no idea who they are) in Brixton. Now seeing as I have listened to their album Bad Blood on almost repeat on Spotify I was WELL up for going! And so just like that I went on Tuesday night with my friend Sarah to see them perform. They were flipping immense! Like so incredibly good. I haven't been to many gigs at all but the vibe was brilliant - everyone was singing along and dancing away. I was loving it. I tried to take a pic with my new phone...

...still got a bit of work to do with the ole working the features out. 

Then yesterday my house group was cancelled because one of my leaders wasn't feeling great. So instead I had a little cleaning session (with the bleach - proper cleaning!) of the bathroom which actually made me giddy with happiness. As not only did it smell all clean and happy, but it was all shiny too. It's the little things. 

BUT THEN, I went for a spontaneous Chinese with my friends and then beat my friend James at pool. Cracker of an evening.

Today has been jam-packed but the highlights include:
  • Seeing Dave (intern on my team) give a WINNER of a presentation - was SO good!
  • Writing our boss a "get well soon" card, complete with comforting poem (and picture)
  • Taking the girls from my girls group on a trip to Ikea to buy cooking equipment and it being actually the funniest trip EVER! Tested nearly every bed there. 
And now tomorrow instead of my normal day I'm going to Tunbridge Wells to speak on the topic of "hope"...

...a bizarre week. #lovingit

14 Oct 2013


So I haven't blogged very regularly recently and that does frustrate me. Mainly because the longer I leave it without writing a blog, the more I feel like when I do write one it has to be amazing as people will be waiting for it. I think that probably says more about my ego than anything else...but that's some of the inner workings of my brain.

Anyway, my life has quickly returned to it's normal levels of activity. It is bizarre to think that my new batch of gap year students have only been with me for 1 month as it seems like I have been back to work for A LOT longer than that! Just been working hard and long hours. 

The thing is though - I genuinely relish my job. 

I was thinking this the other day when someone asked me how it was going. If I'm honest there have been times when my job has sucked the life from me. When it has been so hard to know what to do or have the motivation to go and hang out with the young people. But not at the moment. 

I feel like this year more than any other I have molded my job to be doing the things I am good at - essentially bossing people around/strategy/starting things

So even though I have been (and continue to be) incredibly busy with meetings, projects, line management, mentoring, networking etc - I am relishing in it. Whereas in the past this might have drained me, now it is invigorating. 

I think this might be down to 2 things:
  1. I really know the kids. In past years I've been getting to know them, now in my 3rd year - I really know them. I know their situations, families, stories and that makes a difference. I now see young people I work with EVERYWHERE. They stop me in the street and wave to me from the bus and interrupt my conversations to say hello. That really means something to me. 
  2. I think ever since moving to London I have had a bit of a dry patch when it comes to reading my Bible. At uni I got really into reading it and loving it, but moving to London I was busy with life and it just wasn't as appealing anymore. But in the last few weeks I have had, what I can only describe as, "a craving" for God's word. Like I've read little snippets that people have posted and then gone and read huge chunks. I've been really inspired/encouraged to get back into reading it and knowing God's heart. 
So despite not being able to blog as often as I have in the past, I am relishing in the fact that God is doing something in me and that clearly I am where I am meant to be.

"And who knows but that you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this and for this very occasion?" Esther 4:14

3 Oct 2013

Kept Safe

I had a bit of a realisation yesterday as I sat in the park following the sad news that my bike was a right off. 

The realisation was: God keeps we safe through loads that I don't even realise. 

You see, months ago I locked my bike up at Hither Green Station and someone tried to rob it. They had a good go denting the frame, scratching it up and taking the back wheel. I was gutted but just got on with getting a new wheel (courtesy of my buddy Bex), I've been happily cycling around Lewisham and even managed a London to Brighton on it in August. 

Yesterday I took the bike into the bike shop to have a service - it's needed one for a while and so I was prepared for it to be an expensive affair. However, I was not prepared for them telling me I had a crack in the frame which has probably been there since the attempted robbery..! It has been dangerous to cycle since then. 

They wouldn't touch it - told me to get a new bike as they aren't allowed to do work to damaged frames. 

Obviously I am pretty sad that it's the end of the line with the bike - we have been through a lot together. But I am more amazed that it has lasted so long despite being in a dangerous state. At any point that frame could have collapsed - whether it be me cycling down my road, or on a main road on the way to work.  

So I'm pretty thankful that God continues to keep me safe, even when I don't realise I'm at risk. I don't know how many times a day he protects me. The Bible says:

"You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me." Psalm 139:5

I am pretty grateful that he does that - I'm amazed that I can trust in a God who is able to protect me from that which I don't understand or know about. 

So while I'm sad about the bike, I'm happy that at least I know God is looking out for me.