19 Mar 2014


I don't know if you have ever been tempted to do something a little crazy? Something that maybe you would never normally do, but in extreme circumstances you think "yea ok, why not". 

Well, yesterday I did something a little crazy. 

I have started playing netball on Tuesdays and yesterday by some miracle we won our game against the team that was top of the league - we won with only 6 players (there are 7 players on a team on the court at all times), it literally was insane! I don't think I've ever run as much as I did last night. 

But after that I was supposed to be going for dinner. Now, attractive as I naturally am, I didn't think turning up in pretty minging, sweaty clothes was probably going to do me any favours. I was going directly from the game to the restaurant and so I had limited time/scope to change, but I knew I really should make a bit of an effort. 

So I did something a bit crazy: I changed clothes on the bus. 

Yea, I went upstairs right to the back and changed out of a sweaty tracksuit into some jeans and clean clothes.

Now, this would have been fine; really it would have been fine - it was quite an empty bus. However, two things happened to make this not fine.

  1. This bus happened to have a rare ticket inspection half way through my journey. So as I was about to whip my trackies off, an inspector came and checked my ticket. Pretty awkward. However, not as awkward as...
  2. The fact I forgot that the back seat on the upper deck has like 2 cameras on it that are displayed as part of a rotation on a TV screen downstairs. So as I descended to alight the bus, I got a few claps...yea. AWKWARD.
I was thinking about this and how sometimes we can do things thinking we won't be seen. Like I would never have done that if I had (thought it through) known that cameras were watching me! But it made me think about the things I do/think when I feel like no one sees. 

Like the times when I secretly judge people on appearance or accent. Or the times when I let my mind wander to sex or lust - things that I know are not healthy for me to think about. 

On Sunday I heard a sermon and something that the speaker said has stayed with me this week. He said "God is our Saviour, but he is also our Judge" - he was saying that in the context of how God has done so much for us, he has chosen us, adopted us, forgiven us, empowered us, released us (and loads more); but how for us to fully appreciate all of that it requires a response. It means we need to change how we live to honour God. Of course we will never get it 100% right, but God sees the heart and sees our intentions. 

I think sometimes I forget that God sees everything. Just like on that bus I forgot that people could see me. There is nothing I can hide from God. That is both a little scary (I can't hide anything from God), but also hugely freeing. God sees EVERYTHING. But yet he still has chosen me and loves me! WOW. Sometimes we want to hide our brokenness, guilt and inner-ugliness from God, but he sees through all of that, all of the crap we carry, and sees Jesus in us. 

For me it was a bit of a shake-up, I can't hide things from God - not even the things in my head. But I can ask for his help in making me to be more like him.
"For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil." Ecclesiastes 12:14

16 Mar 2014


In the past if you have read this blog you will know that I talk a fair bit about community and the importance of it. It helps with feeling valued, like you belong and gives you an increased sense of identity and purpose. 

Well I have been trying to invest in the community I find myself in by:
  1. Actively engaging with my (actual next-door, or on my road) neighbours - great banter from Maurice next door!
  2. Joining a netball team to meet new people and widen my community - loving the girls, and the games.
  3. Being committed to my Church mid-week community group - doing life with these guys every week. 
This week at my community group I was leading a part of it. Every week we eat together, pray, worship, share what God might be saying and take communion. Its a pretty relaxed affair and I always leave being pleased that I went.

Last Wednesday I decided to run a little exercise that I learnt from my friends over at XLP. We took part in the "Cup of Kindness".

For anyone getting worried it's not a weird occulty thing. Essentially, everyone gets a post-it and writes their name and something they would like prayer for on it. It goes into the cup and then everyone pulls a name out. Then we went around the room and when it was your turn you had to encourage/praise the person who you had pulled out of the cup and pray for them. The idea is then that everyone has an opportunity to jump in and encourage that person too and then for that one person you pray for them for the whole week. 

Now, before when I had done this it had always been in quite small groups of people who knew each other quite well - I wasn't exactly sure how this was going to go down as within our group (there's anything between 10-20 of us) there are people who I know really well and those who are still at the start of the friendship journey. But it was such a fruitful and uplifting time. 

Sometimes being honest about what you like about someone else not only does wonders for their self-esteem, but also for yours as you can see you are making an impact. Community only can go as far as the people within it will let it. Genuine community is about sharing life, the ups and downs, hopes and fears, weirdness and insecurities. That can only start when you really feel like people like you! 

I know that for me I have spent a large part of my life working or manipulating situations so that people like me. It's sometimes hard to believe that people will genuinely like me for me. The real, weird, over-the-line, energetic, possibly-too-much, me. I struggle with myself sometimes, even I find me annoying! But yet, in trying to be real, and the mess that comes with that, I have entered into real community. Where I can be honest about my fears and failures, where my uniqueness is celebrated and where I am encouraged to be myself. 

Last week I met up with a friend of mine who I have nick-named "Queen of Encouragement" because EVERY time we catch up I leave feeling like my spirit is soaring. Now not only did she buy me coffee and cake, but she encouraged the socks off of me. Being surrounded by people who can and WILL do that is a totally blessed place to be in. But it's where anyone wanting to grow in faith and living for Christ should be. If you want to grow you have to be in fertile soil; soil that is going to help and is full of nutrients. The people you associate with are either a blessing or a drain, there is limited middle ground. You need to make sure you have a good balance to spur you on. For me, I've been challenged; am I a blessing to those around me? Do I build them up? 

I'll stop with this verse:
"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another" Hebrews 10:23-25

11 Mar 2014

Becoming a follower

So it's been a week since my last post and I just feel like loads has happened. It feels far longer than 7 days. I wanted to give an overview of what's been going on and a couple lessons learnt.

This week has seen the commencement of 40 Acts which I wrote about in my last post - it's an opportunity to live Lent generously, to think of others and bless them rather than try to legalistically give something up. So far I have been challenged to:

  • Start a journal with a post about all the things I am thankful for
  • Begin a generosity jar (I used a Loyd Grossman jar and tweeted him about what I was doing and it started a little convo about my favourite Loyd Grossman sauces! Random)
  • Use the gifts I have to bless someone (I used my gift of encouragement to praise some people)
  • Connect with people I come into contact with on a regular basis - I started a chat with the builders opposite
  • Actively be thankful - I went and said thank you to my train driver on the way to work
  • and today's was to think about the spheres of influence you have and share something positive with one of them...I'm hoping this post will count!
I am loving the challenges to think more, have space to reflect and then actively do something positive. Tomorrows challenge is to connect with someone properly. Like not through a random text or email but actually talk to them. My friend Rachel over at Dreaming of the Country has already shot-gunned a call from me! (But let me know if you want one too!)

As well as that this week I went to this incredible event called "WEDAY" at Wembley Arena. I was taking kids from work to what had been described to me as a "youth empowerment event". However, it was incredible. Some phenomenal speakers came and spoke to kids about being positive change in their communities - Al Gore, Spencer West, Malala Yousafzai, Martine Wright and Richard Branson. As well as some epic performances from artists like Jennifer Hudson, Dizzie Rascal and Ellie Goulding. My highlight was definitely listening to Malala speak - she was incredible. For someone who has gone through the kid of experiences she has and to still be so articulate about the issues surrounding education for all, I was mindblown (and in tears!) Also getting to be in the same room as Prince Harry was pretty epic!

On Saturday we had our XLP Lewisham Arts Showcase Rehearsal which was amazing as usual - so fantastic to see young people encouraging and helping each other to improve. This Saturday for the real deal is going to be insanely good. (check it out here)

Then on Sunday it was SUCH A BEAUTIFUL day! I spent the day surrounded by friends, enjoying the sun, being very chilled. Loved it. 

Last but not least - you may or may not know that I recently have joined a netball team with the intention of making some new friends as well as putting those competitive Allen genes to good use. Its a team of 9 strangers who have all signed up just to play and make new friends - and we are doing well! Played 3, won 3! 

But it's kind of strange. I noticed it this evening; I am so used to being in charge that I can get a little bossy. I have posted in the past about how I have often found myself in positions of leadership without really knowing how it happened. But I am now in a place where actually I need to be reminded of how to be a good follower. I am by no means the best player on the team, or the most vocal (surprisingly!), and it is quite a challenge to step back and let others take control. But if I am trying to be more like Jesus and he says that he did not come to be served, but to serve (Mark 10:45) 

Think I'm still at the start of this journey...watch this space!

4 Mar 2014


Today I have already enjoyed pancakes. Shrove Tuesday, the day where you traditionally use up ingredients from your cupboard in preparation to fast from luxury foods during Lent. Now Lent is supposed to be a time where you examine yourself in the run up to Easter, to make sure that your life is in line with where God wants it to be. 

In the past I have enjoyed the opportunity to give something up in order to focus more on God and listen to him. Whether it's been facebook, chocolate, coffee or cake - all have given solid chances to engage more with God - especially when you are surrounded with people who haven't given those things up. 

However this year I wanted to do something different - and then I stumbled across this:

(click on it)

Basically 40 Acts is a challenge to live Lent generously. It's run by a Christian Charity called Stewardship which aims to make giving easy for people. So much of the time I can think about giving and only think of money, but this initiative is excellent at helping you to think outside of the box in terms of how I can give of myself. 

If you read my last post I was talking about how some of the time I feel like I don't have much to offer because my resources are low. Well this is an inspiring way to give in a way that doesn't deplete resources, but that actually blesses you too! 

Everyday you get emailed a link to a blog/thought for the day and are set a little challenge - each challenge is an act of generosity. The hope is that after 40 days you will have built generosity into your life and will continue to act generously after Easter. 

I am pretty excited for this to be honest - I so easily can run out of creativity, but this is a resource that is easy to access (you can like them on facebook, follow on twitterpinterest or instagram, or sign up to their youtube channel) and encouraging as loads of people are doing it all over the country (maybe the world?!). 

So, if you fancy it, join me! I'll probably be blogging about my experiences so you might as well give it a go too.