About Me

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Sweet Sleep

When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Proverbs 3:24
 
What is it about getting older that makes you love your bed so much? 10 years ago I would have done anything to stay up late, to go out, fill every spare second... Now, I practically long for my bed in the evenings. Am I just getting old?
 
I made a comment to a friend the other day about the fact that I think I am having a love affair with my bed. It just sounded a bit wrong...! But seriously I am. Is this just since being ill? I don't know, maybe it's since having kids, maybe it is just getting older (hate to admit it) but I really need my bed. I aim to be in bed by 9.30 of an evening, giving me half an hour to read before putting my head down. Yes that's 9.30pm. 9 bloomin' 30. I mean what??? I went to bed at 9.30 when I was 14, not 37... And I love it, I don't go under sufference thinking I really should go to bed now. I love it. I love snuggling up under the duvet, especially when it's cold enough to put on the electric blanket. Yes that's right, I own an electric blanket. And before you throw any kind of ageist jibes at me, I tell you, try it for yourself, It is utter bliss getting in to a warm bed... :)
 
I have no idea where this post is going... Maybe I shall write a series of posts on the joys of getting older, except that implies some sense of acceptance ;) 

Hillsong music...

For Hillsong fans, promo for the new album below (not out 'til end of july annoyingly...) and below that is a not very good recording of one of the songs they did at Colour: The Lost are found - just loved this song... Declaring what God can and does do...




Monday, 30 May 2011

RIP My Granny


Well, the inevitable finally happened. My Nan passed away last night. This is the best photo I could find of her - taken at, yes you've guessed it, our wedding, 10 years ago...

I am thankful that I spent quite a lot of time with her in the last few days. Friday she was obviously going down hill but I was still able to talk to her. Then overnight they had to call in the doctor, so I went in again on Saturday and spent most of the morning with her. It was lovely to just be with her and as she was sleeping a lot I just prayed over her and annointed her with oil.
Yesterday I chose not to go in as it has been a pretty exhausting week and my mum and her sister were going in anyway. Then I heard this morning that she had passed away late last night.

And the funny thing is, last night as I went to bed, I was praying for her and I just had a picture in my head of Jesus taking her by the hand and helping her out of bed. She was much younger looking and agile (!) and he led her out of the window (odd I know..!). So I kind of expected her not to make it through the night. And I had that picture about half an hour before she actually died.

I am sad, but at the same time I know it is a blessed release for her. I thought I was fully prepared for her dying and how I would feel, but I still feel a real sense of loss. Visits with her haven't always been enjoyable or pleasant as she has made it perfectly clear how she feels about being in the home, but it still feels strange that I won't be going in to see her again. And I mourn the fact that I only really got to know her in her 90s. But I do thank God that I had that at least.

The one thing I was worried about was that she would be by herself at the end, but in actual fact the home called my mum and so I know that she, my Dad and my Aunt did arrive to be with her at the end. And she also had 3 nurses with her, one of whom is a committed Catholic and had been very close to my Nan, so I am so thankful for that.

Thank you all for your kind words and prayers over the last few weeks and months as I have shared on here what she has been going through and how I have been feeling. I really appreciate it. You are all lovely :)

Sunday, 29 May 2011

GRRRR blogger

Is anyone else stilll struggling with blogger issues? I am so tempted to follow Lesley over to word press. I sometimes can't log in and what's even more annoying is that I can't comment on lots of blogs. It keeps asking me to log in and when I do it just asks me again. and again. and again.. Can anyone help?


In the meantime: some comments that I wanted to post... which won't make much sense by themselves so if you want to know more they are linked...

@ Talking Christian
what a great picture, thank you :) I am so struggling with a close relative who I am building a bridge to, but they are just not building their side! But I feel encouraged by your post. thanks..
@ The Pink Sheep  So sorry you are still looking for somewhere. What a sad advert for the CofE. Maybe you should start your own? (And I'm only half joking...)

@LLM calling  Love the idea of a book of affirmation. Go for it... And I reckon blog comments count just as much!!

@Mad Priest funniest post I have seen relating to last weekends non-rapture!

@Vernacular Curate  Love the idea although I am  slightly dubious about whether this was just a ploy to put a picture of a semi-clad actress on your page ;)

@ looking deeper  yes I comepletely agree!! Things just aren't as exciting when someone tells you. Also I think in terms of learning you remember so much more when discovering something for yourself!

@Revd Lesley  Totally sympathise. Strops always worth it - better out than in - as my nan used to say.  I find throwing stuff helps.. ;) Really hope you are abel to return to work soon, praying for you. xx



In the meantime if you are unable to comment on mine, please feel free to email me:

red :)

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

E V I L...?



Ok. So... today my VC (vocations consultant) asked me about what I felt about evil. What do I believe in? What is evil? She was quite persistant and I found myself slightly floundering. I do believe in a real and evident force of evil and also as in an absence of all good. My VC said to me, 'do you think that your actions (we were discussing my past) were as a result of a force of evil acting on your life or do you think that was partly out of your being human?' ( or something along those lines anyway).

Hmmm....

good question...

If I said yes to the first bit, that would imply I don't take responsibility for my own actions. That would imply I think people who commit evil acts are not responsible for their actions. That would imply that none of us are responsible for our actions because it implies that either a force of evil, or a force of good (God) is acting in our lives.

But the bible says we have free-will.

Do I think that I drank too much, took too many drugs, or acted like a total idiot (polite word..), because the Devil/enemy/Satan/your preferred choice... was guiding me to it. Well no. and yes, well, no, err....

So where do I stand?
 I completely and utterly believe that there is a force of evil at work in our world. Whether that is a human-reaction as a result of 'the fall', or because we are all inherently sinners, or because there is a little man with horns and a pitchfork hanging around, I am not sure. I am quite prepared to accept that Satan in the bible is merely the personification of that force of evil, but then I'm not sure I am convinced of that either. I believe that people can be influenced by this force of evil, yes, and occasionally to great extremes. but can one ascribe all bad stuff that goes on to that force of evil? Because that really does mean we are denying our own actions and not accepting blame or responsibility.

I am not sure where I draw the line. When I was in my dark phase I was able to recognise that what I was doing was very destructive (to myself), but it didn't stop me doing it. I didn't feel able to. and would I have wanted to anyway? After I'd taken one step it was a slippery slope to the next step and the next and so on. So do I believe that the first step was a result of evil tripping me up, pushing me in that direction? well yes I guess I do, but at the same time I recognise it was my choice to take that step too. So in a way I guess I am talking about temptation. Does evil put temptations in our way, knowing that we do ahave free will and knowing exactly what temptations will work best on each individual? well, yes I reckon so.

1 Peter 5:8-9 says this:
 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings..

In this way I think this is what evil is like, it's just hanging around, just waiting to trip us up and if we go far enough, to devour us.

I cannot believe in God as goodness, without believing there is something else. Because how can one explain away evil acts and suffering without it? It's all very well talking about free will, but why do humans use our free will to do 'wrong' or evil if we are made in Gods image? If one does not accept the fall theory than where does that come from? If God is a sovereign God, God of creation (and I'm not even talking about THE creation here), a God who has the ability to speak to us, guide us, hear our prayers, then he is not resposible when bad stuff happens. So where does it come from? And I am not prepared to believe in a God just in names sake, who can't hear us or guide us or speak to us, or change things, transform people, which is what it would mean to me if I accept that there isn't a very real force of evil in this world...

Am I any clearer on what I believe then? umm.... perhaps not...

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Being a rebel in the church...

Is being a rebel ok?

I've beeen worrying recently about my specific calling. I don't mean the 'into ministry' bit, but the actual specifics, which for me are about change/reform/trasnforming the church from the inside (in a completely non-arrogant way...) But after a few rather un-inspiring meetings with ministers and others I was feeling very down cast. What kind of chuch will I end up in? Will I be forced somewhere I don't want to go? How much choice do I have? What are the options available for an evanglical woman in this diocese? (limited I have been imagining...)

But I know my calling is about change, I am someone who pushes boundaries, a natural rebel and probably (!) have an issue with bowing to authority.. However at the moment I seem to be doing a lot of hoop-jumping and having to 'tow the line' so needless to say I have been a bit despondent...

But yesterday I met a rather fantastic Vicar, who I won't name, who was so encouraging and told me to protect my calling, not let anyone take that away from me. He inspired me in the way he does things in his church (I think he would probably admit he is a bit of a rebel..) and in fact sounded a bit like me. It was such a pleasure to meet someone like that after the recent negativity. I cannot repeat all he said for fear of getting him in trouble, but needless to say he just made me feel that it's ok to be a bit of a rebel. Not in a 'I'm always going to do my own thing' kind of way, but just in recognising what God is calling me to, which may not always be all that popular...

I have my last meeting with my VC tomorrow (all being well and she doesn't add on anything else to do..) and I had been wondering about postponing, for fear of what might come next, but now I feel refreshed again and full of optimism for what God has in store for me. So thank you, nameless Vicar, you don't know how much of a difference you made :)

Monday, 23 May 2011

Having a 'moment'


We've just started a course at our church called 'Lifeshapes' which I am helping out with. Last week we started with a dinner all together, and a brief intro to the course. One of the things talked about was 'Kairos' moments, kairos meaning time. The Greeks had 2 words for time: Chronos - from which we get chronological, as in timeline. Kairos refers more to 'a time', like 'the time I went to...'. So, an event that happened once at a particular time, and used to refer to significant moments in our lives, turning points for example, and in this case, what God teaches us in those situations.  So, we were all asked to come next week prepared to share a 'kairos' moment from this week, whether large or small, the implication being that if we look, actually God is teaching us in so many situations, if not all....

But actually I could hardly concentrate on what was said last week and I will explain why in a moment, but it occured to me that what had happened was actually right there a kairos moment. So this is what I will be sharing on Thursday:

Last week, in the quitest possible moment of the evening, (seriously like pin-drop moment) my stomach chose to gurgle very loudly. Now I am not talking an average stomach gurgle, this was literally seismic, unnatural in its volume. really it was freakish. And in that moment I was overcome with embarrassment, I just did not know what to say. I am sure I turned bright red, and from then on I just sat thinking, please don't do that again, please don't do that again, oh what are people thinking...?  Which in hindsight is ridiculous, I should have said something witty and forgot about it, but I was too embarrassed! and instead I found myself stewing on it...

Anyway... God has been teaching me about 'fear of man' in the last few weeks. I am someone who is very confident, happy talking in public etc and yet since being ill I have found myself feeling very anxious in certain situations. On top of this, I have some stomach issues. I don't ike talking about them, for the same reason, I get embarrassed.  I am lactose-intolerant which is fine if I avoid lactose but at the same time even when I don't eat it my stomach can act in odd ways at times, including gurgling (although not freakishly loudly until now...!) I hate this. really, I hate it. It stops me doing stuff I really want to do. And what I have been realising over the last few weeks is that this is about the fear of man. About being embarrassed in front of people, not really about the condition itself. So as I sat last week, wallowing in my embarrassment, and not really listening to the teaching, I was giving in to that fear - what if it happens again? can I leave the room? what will I do next week? what are people thinking?  And this is exactly where I have been with the illness, making decisions about where I can go and when, on the basis that I might feel ill, or get sick. Rather than being honest and saying, ok I want to go to this event but there is a chance I might get ill, and if that's the case I'll come home...

I guess this all sounds a bit nuts so I don't know if I am explaining it well... but the point is that God, through various things over the last few weeks and particularly the stomach gurgling incident, made me realise that it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter what people think. IT DOESNT MATTER WHAT PEOPLE THINK!

I know I have written on here quite a lot about being ill but not many people round here actually know. I am not good at accepting when I am weak and I hate that I can't do stuff, so I just don't talk about it, because I can't accept it. I don't want people to feel sorry for me, or, as I have said before, to be defined by being ill. So writing on here about it all has been very therapeutic...

Sunday, 22 May 2011

seem familiar...?

I just saw this on the 'Esperamos' blog of Andrew Tweedy, (based at St Georges, Barcelona). I came across his blog in one of those friend of a friend blog things - you know when you click on a blog then click on a link off that and so on...
This clip just reminded me of the old me, always in a rush, incredibly impatient and very tetchy... I am transformed, but still bits of the old me creep in occasionally. And the thing is, so many of us are like the guy in this clip. We forget to look beyond our own world, beyond what we have to get done that day and where we have to be in less than 10 minutes, and beyond getting the kids to school on time and with all the right equipment for that day and beyond the bills, worries and problems... We forget so easily that other people are going through exactly the same and completely different issues in their own lives...
The world does not revolve around me...

Pride: good or bad thing?

Pride is a funny thing isn't it? Life teaches us that we should be proud of our achievements, but for so many Christians the word 'pride' has a sense of doing things in our own strength, not recognising where God is at work and taking the glory ourselves.

So is Pride always bad? For example I might say to my children, 'I am so proud of you' when they do something particularly well or act in a loving way, or one might say 'take pride in what you do', meaning, I think, to give things one's all, and to do ones best, so that we can feel we have done a good job (or something to be proud of...) But... at what point does pride in something one has achieved become 'prideful' or too proud?

As a Christian I look for God in all that I do, and I recognise the talents that he has given me, so if I do something well it is something to be proud of, but also something to give God glory for... I don't mean in a false way, (I wrote about the difficulty of accepting compliments a while back) but in my heart I know where my talents have come from and so I feel joy that I have achieved something using those talents I have been given. does that make sense?

My experience is that the more evangelical view is of Pride as being something we should avoid, but I think I would challenge that, so long as we recognise where our pride should be directed. Love to know others thoughts on this...

Thursday, 19 May 2011

The challenge of teenage philosphy students...



Ok, so I need some help, or advice. In a  few weeks I am going to a local schools CU to speak. The age range will be 14-18 I think. I have to chose a clip from a film or TV and then speak about it relating it to faith somehow. I'm slightly nervous as half of them are philosophy students and frankly I have no idea what compartment to put them in, in my brain!

So anyway,  I think I'm going to look at 'Glee' which my own teenage daughter is rather obsessed with... Some weeks back there was a plot line where one of the students saw the face of Jesus in his grilled cheese and then ended up praying to this 'grilled cheese-us' for completely inappropriate, but hilarious, things like getting it on with his girlfriend...  I think this might be a good programme as it seems to be de-rigeur viewing for lots of teens, it's contemporary and the episode looks at lots of aspects of spirituality, in a kind of teenage way... but I'm worried this might be a bit too basic, especially for the older ones. I'm always amazed how much my kids can understand, particularly in terms of Christianity, so I don't want to 'dumb it down', but at the same time I need to reach them all at a time which is usually down time for  them (lunchbreak) and the last thing they need is a theology lesson...
Thoughts anyone?

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

to Daily Office or not to...


So I've been re-thinking my prayer time recently... Having been ill I had stopped getting up early to pray, which has meant that with alarming regularity my morning prayer time goes out the window when other things come along. So something had to change and I started getting up early again. Needless to say I am more tired, but I'm working with it! Anyway, sometime back a lovely local curate suggested doing the morning office. In a slightly (well, very) arrogant way I dismissed it out of hand - not my kind of thing at all... However I found the sheet she had given me (from the Northumbria community) a few weeks back and decided to give it a go. And, surprise surprise I am enjoying it...

As I am more tired than I used to be, getting up early is harder to do, and often I am rather fuzzy first thing, so to have a structure to start me off has been incredibly valuable. Where I was tending to drift and couldn't focus myself on my prayers, now I am finding it so much easier as I can focus on the structure of it. I have also been working my way through the bible in a more structured way than I was. Just working through the Psalms numerically and for the OT currently working through Jeremiah - a chapter a day. Then, to be more me, I just wait on God to see where I should go in the NT and so far he hasn't failed me! Every time the readings are linked or link to my daily life in some way. Then once I've finished  I am sufficiently awake enough to carry on in a freer way as I usually would.

Isn't it funny how we get ideas in our heads about what we are and are not, what suits us and what doesn't. And I like to think I am open to new ideas but in this case I totally dismissed it originally... Then today someone told me that I have a calming 'aura' about me, that I was very calming and soothing in the way I am. I thought, is she actually talking about me?! I always think I am like a busy bee, zooming around, getting things done and that people must think I never have time for them, so it was, although surprising, really nice to hear. And again made me realise how set in my opinions I am, even though I think otherwise!!

Monday, 16 May 2011

you might think I'm crazy but...

Ok, so as Christians I think sometimes we get a bit 'het up' about when God is talking to us and when he isn't. It's very easy to see 'God-incidences' in things that maybe are purely coincidental. Now I'm not saying God doesn't talk to people in coincidences because I know he does, there have been so many times when my husband and I have seen things and thought, well that's far too much of a coincidence to not be from God! It has happened soooo many times that I cannot question it. But equally I know some peple would think some of these things a bit crazy...

Anyway last week my lovely friend and mentor came to see me. The first thing she said, before even crossing the threshold was - have you seen that numberplate in you garden? Er, well yes I have, because I put it there. So let me just tell you the number plate came from my second ever car, my lovely beetle 'Ethel' and for years it has been knocking around our houses in various rooms. I have no idea why I hung on to it either! So anyway my friend says to me, what does it say? and for the first time ever I noticed that it is  a bible reference! Eph 6:12 (the J on the end I guess for me - Jules, which for those that don't know is my 'real-life' name!)
The funny thing is that Ephesians is one of my favourite books of the bible, yes I know it's Paul, but actually I really like it, there is so much in there that speaks to me. And last year our Vicar said to both of us, 'I think this book is really important to you to'. He had no idea how spot on he was. So when she pointed out the numberplate I was quite surprised! Ephesians 6:12 comes from the passage about the armour of God and says this:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Some people will find this a difficult passage to hear or interpret but for me it is incredibly helpful, with all the stuff I've been through this last year, illness and so on it is, in a funny way, a comfort to me... After all whatever the 'battle' or stuggle, Jesus has already won the fight, the victory is already his...

Sunday, 15 May 2011

More on Human Trafficking


I wrote last week about Human Trafficking having heard Christine Caine of A21 speak at an event I went to. It seems in recent weeks the horror of this crime has been spreading via facebook and twitter far quicker than previously. I really hope that a corner is being turned.
Interesting from The Guardian website yesterday:

Guardian Article.  It discussed the cases of 3 women helped by The Poppy Project here in the UK. (Whose funding has recently been cut). See here: Poppy Project

For example:
For more than 300 days, Abina was incarcerated in the apartment, during which time hundreds of men visited, some black, some Asian, most white, and paid her boyfriend £30 to have sex with her. Men were allowed to beat her, she says, but most were not as aggressive as her boyfriend. He told visitors that they need not use a condom, and when she fell pregnant he punched her so hard Abina lost her baby.

 
But the problem is far more wide spread than just women.  'Stop the Traffik' also looks at the wider issues of trafficking including children being sold into slavery. Please do check these organisations out...

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Singing over us...

Last night we met with a few friends for some prayer and worship time. Ay one point one of them just asked if we could listen to this song and then played it on their iphone. It was really powerful, and I have heard this song a hundred times but as it was a moment of quiet and calm in an otherwise slightly crazy day I actually listened to the words.


What an amazing image - God singing over us, over me. Zephaniah 3:17 is one of my favourtie scriptures inn the while bible. It is just beautiful.



The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. Zeph 3:17

Thursday, 12 May 2011

One for the girls...


Ok sorry for the stereotyping but most guys just won't get this... do any of you girls get clothes crisis moments? Is it just me? Because I just had a huge one!

They strike with no rhyme or reason, for nothing in particular but I end up in front of my wardrobe not knowing what to wear, I put on hundreds of outfits. my husband thinks they are all lovely. I just cannot agree. These are clothes I wear every day of my life. Why on one particular day should they be so horrid that I cannnot put them on?! Piles of clothes mount up on my bed. I usually pray at this point, in total panic mode... Although I'm not sure God would be that worried about what I chose to wear...
Then there's the double crisis days where there is a specific event. Like today. I am just going to a conference, just a small diocesan thing. I put on a dress and was happy with it. then a thought struck me - but is this too smart? first change. new top - but does this look like a clerical collar? no 3: ok this skirt is too short. Then amidst all this total craziness, I realise MY BISHOP WILL BE THERE!!! then theres a meltdown. By this stage I am screeching at the kids, go and get your own breakfast, mummy is having a moment! I have not met the Bish yet, so of course then I panic more.

This is completely nuts I know. You do not have to tell me. I am a confident woman, for goodness sake. Why do thse moments strike me? What is going on in my head!?  Who cares what people will think about my clothes....

So finally I decide on a mid length denim skirt with smart-ish top. It says to me: funky, not too cas and I am happy with myself. Then I go downstairs. My teenage daughter says to me: 'Mum I really don't like that top....'

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Reaching the unreached

Last week I was at a church planting conference in London and one of the speakers spoke about his own parish in an inner city run down estate. From the whole day with some pretty inspiring speakers including Mark Driscoll and someone from HTB, I found this guy the most inspiring. I am not giving his name only because I assume some of what he said was not to be publically shared.
It was very interesting going straight from his seminar into one about HTB plants and noticing the huge differences between the two and the completely different (and necessary) approaches to church. This guy has been in his praish for 16 years, prior to him no one had lasted longer than a few in 50 years! What I found most inspiring was in how he was reaching his parishoners. He said this was an area where people just hadn't ventured out to do mission, for years. When he came to the parish people were wary, skeptical, rude even! Offers of dinner were refused on the basis that 'we don't do dinner' and that people didn't enter each others houses, even close friends. He said he had to learn so much about the area before he could understand how to reach them, that it can take years to see any or little progress in an area like this.
One thing really stood out which was the prejudice that he suffered for his middle class accent! He said people will admit to him now, that when he first came they just wouldn't listen, as soon as they clocked his fatface top and deck shoes and the accent they had preconceived ideas and just thought he wouldn't understand them, that he would be speaking down to them. He has found that he has had to completely live amongst them to understand their ways, every aspect of his life has to be considered carefully. The perception is often that church is 'charity', or that being a Christian is a 'weak' choice and they lose respect. So for example a guy who had been a drug dealer and became a Christian is continually being beaten up because of his faith. It actually becomes dangerous for them to openly admit to having a faith. And this is in England, in our capital city, not some far flung corner of the earth. It's no wonder other nations think Britain needs evanglising like we once thought other nations needed it. We need to send missioniaries into these areas, not Africa and India, but on our own doorstep.

He also said that he finds people don't resond to 'reason' but to 'impression', so you have to find a totally different approach to church, to outreach, to even socialising. Their attitudes to serving are those of 'well why should we be serving when we are on the lowest income and need help' - not like your average middle class congregation who all want to be seen to be 'helping out' or offering some small hand of charity to make themselves feel good.

I was so inspired by this guy. I want to reach those kind of people, I want to be reaching the unreached, the ones who are so far from God, that have never been in church. I have no idea if I will have the strength to do it, to make the sacrifices that he has, and there have been many, but just hope that in His strength I will...

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

new design..

Have been feeling creative this week for the first time in ages! So finally I have created my own blog look. Only taken me a year and a half... which for someone who used to do a lot of professional designing is pretty rubbish! Anyway hope you like the new look.... Hope it all works..

Human Trafficking, the true horror.

BeCAUSE...together, we can rescue her...

Told you I'd have lots of blog fodder from the weekend - this is more. Although I don't want to belittle this issue in just using it as blog-fodder. It really is awful and I feel compelled to do something about it. Not sure what yet, but at least I can spread it via my blog as a start.

Human Trafficking is one of the worlds biggest issues right now. Over the last 20-30 years the 'trade' for human beings taken to work in the sex trade has escalated massively. A21 is an organisation that is working to combat human trafficking and Christine Caine, founder of the  campaign, spoke at the conference I went to last weekend. She was absolutely inspiring. Whilst telling us the awful truths about trafficking, she also gave hope - in that there have now been 2 convictions for traffickers, in Greece. The significance of this should not be underestimated. Christine herself and others involved in the campaign have been threatened by Mafia from all over Easten Europe. Her reponse: I know a bigger Mafia...;)

The horror of it all is truly awful. They showed a video of conditions in which trafficked women were kept whilst they were beaten, systematically raped, and starved into submission. Until they were so weak they would do anything. I should say, it is easy to think that these women were somehow naive or stupid or even doing it for the money. This is so far from the truth. The testimony of some of the women who have been rescued shows that they are just ordinary women, just from deprived areas. They are cleverly conned into going with captors on the premise of being offered work in another country, often they just want to earn, to help support their families. One woman was even trafficked by her own cousin, a trusted friend. Isn't this what we all want - we want the best for ourselves and our families.

From the A21 site:


After a trafficking journey that typically involves deception, rape, beatings, and constant threats, victims are often forced to live in confining and unsanitary conditions. Once formally put to work, human trafficking victims can be forced to service from 40 to 110 customers in one day1. Malnutrition, sleep deprivation, as well as emotional and physical abuse become day-to-day normalities. In addition, forced abortions and the contraction of STI's, Hepatitis B & C, and AIDS are ever looming probabilities. Life for a victim of sex trafficking is hell on earth. This injustice is the reason The A21 Campaign exists.



I cannot begin to imagine the true horror of what it would be like for a victim of trafficking. The loneliness, isolation, the pain - both physical and mental, the complete loss of dignity and self worth, these women are slaves in every sense of the word. They have no rights, they are held captive, and forced to do the most awful things. How can one recover from that? A21 is an amazing organisation that helps women to escape from trafficking, helps them to become rehabilitated, it aims to catch the traffickers and prosecute them.

And the statistics are horrendous, it is estimated that 27million women have been trafficked across the world. In Moldova alone 450,00 women are missing, presumed trafficked. That is about 1/4 of the population. Stats can seem overwelming, but as Christine said: It sounds big until you meet the 1. So what can we do? We cannot stay silent. We live in a resourced world, an empowered world where we can do something. Are we our sisters keeper? Yes we are. Our sisters blood is crying out to us - we need to act.

Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”  “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The LORD said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground... Genesis 4: 9-12

The A21 website has loads of ways in which you can help out, even it is just spreading the word or making a donation. Please do something....







Monday, 9 May 2011

Jesus wins the race every time

Luke & Darth fight it out...
Over the weekend one of the speakers I heard was Judah Smith, dynamic Pastor of the City Church in Seattle. Preppy-looking, charming and hilarious, Judah preaches like no one I have ever heard before. Although he comes across as very contemporary his insights into the bible were quite stunning.. (bit like him actually... is it wrong to say that about a Pastor..? ;) Hope my husband isn't reading..!)
Judah Smith

He did some great teaching on 'firstness' which I probably won't do nearly enough justice to, but basically he was saying that we need to always be second. Jesus should always be first. He is always first, it's just that we don't always recognise it or give Him the credit. In the context of a running race, if you come second, the person before you is always better, faster, more skilled, gifted. Is that how we see Jesus? Because the truth is that he is always more, better, faster, etc.

But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!    Romans 5:15-17 (NIV)

Just love this passage. How much more does God provide for us. How much more does He love us. How much more than anything we can ever imagine, How much more is He, than us...


Judah gave a great illustration - you know the old star wars movies where Luke is fighting Darth Vader. He was like 'Jesus & The Devil are not like Luke & Darth'. It is not a dual - there is always one outcome - Jesus is the victor. Is the victor, was the victor and will be the victor. He is always greater, faster, more...

And how hard is that to always do? Seems easy right? but how often do we put ourselves in first place, think that we can do it all, in our own strength. How often do we take credit for something forgetting to give thanks to God, or how often do we just plain forget to even consider who goes before us?

As Judah said: God 'was' before there even was 'was'. (love that quote..) He was there before there was even 'the beginning'. That makes my head hurt to even consider, but it also kind of puts it in perspective for me too. Everything that ever was - God was there, and he was there before it, He is always first, before and more...

Sunday, 8 May 2011

twitter

ok this was scheduled for Friday - why can't I get my scheduled posts to work...?

Ok, so I've caved in and joined twitter, I've been thinking about it for a while. Well actually I say joined but when I logged on to twitter it told me my email was already registered and low and behold there was my twitter account from 3 years ago... life was very different 3 years ago, so before using I thought I'd better check some of the tweets, but actually they weren't as bad as I feared...
Why am I doing this? no idea, not like I don't have enough social media in my life... but I have been thinking about it for a while and since fasting from facebook for Lent, I don't feel massively bothered about going back so hey let's try twitter for a while...

Anyway I am @redjules if anyone is interested and today I will be at the Hillsong womens conference so will try to tweet from there...




Saturday, 7 May 2011

FILLED :)

So, just back from Hillsong Colour Conference, London 2011. Totally inspired and filled with the spirit. Lots to write about for this week, but to capture how I'm feeling right now, these are my 'declarations'  from the scrawl in my notebook - scrawled hastily as I tried to capture the moment this evening, feeling completely and utterly in love with my God, with the Word and with the church...

I WILL:

: STAND tall in faith
: TAKE every thought captive and QUIET the lies of the enemy
: Take STRENGTH from my God
: STAND on Gods promises
: Put UP my Shield
: BE a hero of faith
: MARCH the walls in obedience
: BE a WARRIOR for God
: Will NOT worry about tomorrow
: Be FIERCE but focussed
: SPEAK out Gods word in love
: BE a world-changer. one step at a time
: Will NOT be defined by illness
: STAND up for my calling and my right to teach Gods word,
: SEE the church transformed and rising up
: Will NOT fear man
: Be EMPOWERED as I am, a woman of God
: BE STRONG in who God made ME to be...

Friday, 6 May 2011

Go Women Bloggers...


Thanks to Lesley for flagging up this months Wikio rankings. I was totally amazed and chuffed to see that I am now in the top 50 religion and belief blogs (by the skin of my teeth...!)
I'd like to say that I am not at all interested in rankings and I don't write for the purpose of receiving praise, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't just high-5 my husband...;)
Generally speaking I don't like to single people out on the basis of their gender but that said, it is great to see lots of women bloggers doing well in this category. Come on girls keep it up !!

Thursday, 5 May 2011

the dying


So some of you will know I visit my 90+ year old grandmother regularly in her care home. I have posted before about how her ageing has affected me and yet how blessed I feel by seeing her each week. Over the last few weeks she has hugely gone down hill. Last week she didn't even recognise me, she thought I was a nurse (which in other circumstances would be quite funny...) Today she barely spoke. She is now confined to bed, unable to do anything for herself. I fed her lunch (which considering how ill she is, bizarrely she ate the biggest meal I have ever seen her eat!).

I am not surprised how ill she is or how quickly she has gone down hill. I am not upset that she is probably approaching death, I mean she is well over 90. Death would be a blessed release for her I am sure. And yet I could hardly contain my tears. I so long for her to be filled with the spirit, to really know Jesus. Over the last year we have had some amazing conversations about faith. She is so excited to know that I am  being called into ministry but I know that her faith is limited. Limited to the rules, to specific words, to prayers she was taught as a child. I long for her to experience God for herself. 

I have spent much time seeking God over her, I put together her own personal alpha course, tailored to her needs and her age! I have given her books, we have prayed, I have wept for her lack of conviction. (When I say 'we prayed' what usually happens is I start praying then when she thinks she'd had enough she just opens her eyes and says, 'thank you dear' and I am dismissed...! Quite disconcerting, I have learnt to speak quickly... At least today I could pray for ages without her saying anything...) And yet, still she is so far from Him. I am crying out for God to reveal Himself to her, even in her last days or weeks. I long for her to truly know Him and for all her suffering to have been worth it, to just see Jesus.

I want to be sure that she will be going to God's kingdom. I don't want to accept that this is it for her. I don't want to think about the alternative.I sat at her side today desperate to find the right words to pray, unsure of what I needed to say. what does one say to the dying or for the dying? I know this is not my responsiblity, it is Gods but I can't help but feel that I should be doing something more...

Fitting in...

So yesterday I went to a Church Planting conference in London with some guys from our church. It was a totally inspiring day and has probably given me enough blog fodder for weeks..!
It was really interesting as we always go on about how the church is full of women and not men, but yesterday the women were in a tiny minority, in a way I have not experienced for a long time.
I've been discovering about myself recently, that quite often I seem to be oblivious to the obvious. In a number of situations people have flagged things up that have totally passed me by, but when pointed out are so staggeringly obvious I don't know how I missed them. Yesterday was one of those. Of course it was obvious there were not many women there, but it didn't occur to me that these might all be conservative men. In fact I approached one chap to have a chat and couldn't undertand why the conversation was so stilted, it was like wading through treacle. It was only later that it occured to me perhaps he wasn't in favour of my enthususiam! Actually, most people I spoke to were lovely and I certainly didn't feel I should keep my calling to myself, which was probably a good thing - had it occured to me in advance I think I might have felt initmated... Actually that's rubbish it would probably have been the opposite, I would probably have stood on my chair with a sign saying 'hey, woman here with a calling to ministry...' and waited for the response... But seriously, I do think that my experience would have been diffferent if I had thought about it in advance. Which made me think of all those times when we act in a way that fits our surroundings. I mean we all do it don't we? We like to think that we are open and honest and always ourselves, but the reality is often so subtely different that we don't even notice it. Our speech patterns change, we discuss different topics, we omit details (or add them), hey, we even stand differently.

I think I have felt totally prepared for the undoubted reactions I will get from some parts of the Christian world about my calling, even though I haven't experienced it yet. Not openly. And reflecting on yesterdays conference made me realise that actually I am lucky, in that lots of women have gone before me - and what was it like for the first women leaders? For Deborah, for Priscilla and others? For the first women priests in the CofE? what did they have to contend with? simply to fulfill Gods calling for them. How persecuted were they? How hated were they?

The main draw yesterday was the somewhat contraversial preacher, Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill Church in Orange County, USA. Although I have heard of him I had not heard him speak before so I was interested to see what he had to say. And I have to say, despite his apparent stance on women in church leadership I actually liked what he had to say (except for the constant references to men...!). He is a rebel, he stands firm on what he believes, he isn't afraid to preach the gopsel even when it offends, he is not afraid of man. He is not someone who changes his stance or behaviour wherever he goes... In disucssing church planting and types of church, his bottom line was: 'It's all about meeting Jesus..' eg: Is it more important to you that people say prayers in this way.. or that they meet Jesus? Is it more important to you that your church has 3 services on a Sunday.. or that they meet Jesus? Is it more imnportant that you wear a dress and a hat (his words not mine) or that the people meet Jesus?....

And I cannot argue with that....

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Is taking a life ever 'justice'

Of course the entire world is talking about the death of Osama bin Laden, so I am jumping in too...
I heard the news of his death whilst sat on the beach yesterday, as someone perused their iphone and saw the headline. My initial reaction was one of surprise but not much else I have to say. I am fortunate that I do not personally know anyone who was injured or killed by the atrocities said to be organised by this man, if I were I suspect I would feel very differently. But nonetheless, I do find it hard to understand the tide of joy that is sweeping the planet over his death.  Is it really right to 'celebrate' a death in such a way?  Don't get ne wrong, I am incredibly glad that he is no longer able to carry out his operations and it is not his death that is concerning me, but in fact, the reaction to it.

In Barrack Obamas announcement, he said 'justice has been done' implying some kind of revenge, some kind of 'there, you got what you deserve'. Although officially the hunt was to find him to 'bring him to justice' and to stop him organising further attacks, there seems to be a huge element of revenge to the situation we now have, and a lot of 'isn't America wonderful'. I am not convinced that justice has been done actually - do we dole out justice or does God? Isn't that what judgement is all about? Is it right to praise people for celebratig this mans death?

I was interested in Mark Mardells blog at the BBC from this morning. (The link just takes you to the blog so you may need to scroll down). He also notes the level of celebrations, even being praised by President Obama.


Obama also said that the world is a safer and better place because of bin Ladens death. But is it actually? Safer? I understand the level of terror threat to this country is currently 'severe' and has been for over a year now, it has not increased in the wake of his death, but likewise has not gone down either. And I am sure there are others ready and waiting to take over from him...  And better? is the world actually a better place because of the death of one man? Does that not take away from Gods plan? Gods creation?

I don't know, am I getting my knickers in a twist over this? Should I be joining in the celebrations?

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Healing power


Healing is one of those things that divides people. Can Christs power heal people today? Or did signs and wonders die out with the disciples?

This morning we had healing evangelist Craig Marsh come to speak at church. His story is quite amazing. After various stomach cancer diagnoses over the years, he had several ops, the final one removing basically all of his stomach. Eventually he was left at deaths door, given a week to live, just surviving on a cup of rice or half a banana every couple of days, eating was excrutiatingly painful.
He had been due to attend a conference but obviously was too ill and someone was standing in for him, but at the last minute he decided he wanted to go. it was his dying wish. This was of course totally impractical and everyone tried to persuade him out of it, but he was adamant. His wife and sons waved him off at the airport expecting him not to return, that's how ill he was.
However at the conference he was healed. The speaker had heard God talking to him on his flight over and during his speech he stopped and asked everyone to pray for Craig. Craig tells his story far better than I could, he is incredibly funny, but he describes how this was a Methodist conference some 15 years ago and he said the 'closet charismatics' crept quielty from their seats! But pray for him they did and the presence of God not only fell on him but the whole place as people wept and cried out to God. In that time he was totally healed, parts of him that had been removed, grew back (he later had scans to testify to this..) He descibed how he suddenly felt amazingly hungry, having not been able to eat properly for 4 years and stuffing himself with fried chicken and later McDonalds!!

Anyway, I love this story and others like it and I want to believe it 100%. But there is still a part of me that is skeptical. It's not that I don't believe God can heal people today, I totally believe that, but I guess it is the human, rational side of me that questions everything that thinks, really? did that actually happen? I am the kind of person who wants to see his scans, meet his doctor, to know its all true. Am I like doubting Thomas? I would be there saying, ok Jesus, show me the wounds then, and even then probably saying well maybe you didn't actually die....
And that is where I am at. I think I always will be. I believe, I have faith, but I think I have to be content to be one of those 'who believes but hasn't seen'. I think I am the type that no matter what I am presented with, my brain will question it. 

I infuriate myself all the time over this. I don't want to settle for less than seeing the glory of God for myself. I ask God for signs and wonders, I want to see my friends healed, but (as yet) I haven't seen it for myself. Am I still so impatient? Craig this morning talked about Kairos moments, in Gods timing, and I know this is true of me, I am sure once I take my foot off the accelerator God will answer my endless requests :) Can't help it though. In the words of that beautiful song, 'I am desperate for you..'