Monday, 31 December 2007


N.B. I have a feeling that I will be blogging quite a bit in the next few days, I hope you can keep up. :)

I would just like to share a thought that I had today with you. It has often been said, when people have travelled a bit of the journey of Christianity, that when they look back, they realise that it has not been an easy one. Some may say that they were or were not warned that it was going to be a tough ride.

Some may be in the middle of that tough patch of the ride at the moment. But the thought I had was this: how often do I look at myself, and the way I am living my life when the journey is going well? How often, when I find that life is good, do I question my motives, and my thoughts? My actions and my words? The answer to that question, is well, not very often!

However, when I am going through a rough patch - when life is hard and the way ahead seems dark - it is then I turn to God; it is then that I look at myself and question what I am doing wrong: how I am sinning, how I am acting that does not demonstrate total love for God's people?

Please don't get me wrong. I am not saying that sin is the cause of hard times. If you are suffering from grief, or depression, or another illness it is because of some unconfessed sin in your life. No no no. I am simply saying that when you are a believer, and you are going through a hard time spiritually, it is probably because you were doing something right. The devil likes to attack us when he see's us doing great things for God. If everything is always going well for you - I think you might need to take a step back and look at the situation!

Anyways, that was just a thought I had for a few minutes this afternoon, hope it makes sense.

"You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it."
Matthew 7: 13-14

Saturday, 29 December 2007


N.B. I have many degree's of friendship, therefore, just because I do not mention you by name, does not mean you do not mean the world to me. I probably still love you with all my heart.

Being back in Brentwood this week has been emotional for me. Seeing my family, catching up with my friends, going to my home church, walking around streets that I have walked on since I was a toddler. It's been strange. It's home in a physical sense, but emotionally, I don't feel "here" anymore. But it has meant a chance to catch up with the people in my life who haven't physically "been" in my life over the last few months. I've met up with quite a few of them, some more than others, and spent time catching up on what's been going on in their lives.

I know I have changed a lot in the last four months. If anything, my views on life and what is important has narrowed to the things that really matter - living like Christ and loving people for who they are. My life has changed too, and is now very different to the lives of some of those I have left behind. But what I love the most is that I can come home for this one week, and spend time with people, and it's as if I never went away. We make jokes, we tease each other, or one of us makes a spazzy comment that results in hysterical laughter all round... it's comfortable. There is no fakeness in ourselves. We are each as we are, individual in our attitudes, unique in our personalities, special in our ability to be with one another. And just be. Not talk, or make jokes, or mess around, (although that is what we often do). But sometimes we are able to just relax in the friendship we have with one another.

Yeah, I have changed, and they have changed too, and our lives are now on two very seperate tracks, but I am able to chat and laugh and cry with them just as I always did. And that is something so very special.

So to Susie, Sally, Georgia, Rachael and Ruth - thank you for being such very special, individual people, and thank you for sharing with me a relationship that continues to grow stronger every day.

All my love,
Ami xXx

Wednesday, 26 December 2007


N.B. I have realised this Christmas that I get immense satisfaction from helping other people to do stuff. (Please don't get into a debate with me about selfless acts...)

Yesterday at the churches Christingle service, I had Reuben sitting on my lap for the entire thing. And I enjoyed it. Because Reuben wanted to sit on my lap, he wanted to be close to me, he wanted to spend time with me. He's a great kid. And I love him to pieces. And like all the children that I work with, he has something unique, and something extra special about him. And by allowing him to spend that time with me, I made him feel extra special, even if it was only for a moment. And thats what I love about my job.

There have been times in my life when I haven't felt like I was worth anything. But now I know that God loves me just as I am because I am special and loved by him. And now I am working my hardest to ensure that each child that I work with also feels special, and loved by me and by God. I don't care much for Child Protection. (Don't quote me on that.) If a kid wants/ needs/ asks for a hug, I will give it to them. And yes, I know that Child Protection is for my protection as well. But that's a risk I am going to take. Because sometimes, children, sometimes people, just need to be hugged. (Shutting up now, before I get arrested or something...)

I generally don't like having time to throw away. I like to help people. To give people my time. Because in the past, people have given up their time for me and its made a big difference to my life. When I'm with people, I'm normally smiling, and messing around, (unless they're trying to have a serious conversation with me of course, cause then it would be entirely inappropriate...) Being able to make people smile makes me feel good. Helping people out makes me feel satisfied. Is that so wrong? So often in the past, I have found that all I have to give is my time, so if thats all I have to give, that's what I'm giving.

Anyone want some? Give me a call.
(Or preferably an email/text cause I don't like talking on the phone.)

Thursday, 20 December 2007


I wrote today on an MSN group that I am occupying a state of mind between "eurgh" and "meh." To be honest, there really is no other way of putting it. That's exactly how I have been feeling these last few days. A number of situations and conversations have tipped me either way, but the majority of the time, things have just been hard. Hard to think about, even harder to talk about. And I'm not that much of a talker normally, but when I'm upset or sad, it gets worse. I clam up. I mutter. I just don't know what to say.

I suppose a lot of people these days expect people to want to talk about the things that worry them. The culture we live in expects people to speak up if they want help, if they need someone. But that in itself is a very hard situation for me. Talking about myself is rarely something I enjoy. And usually, its the people closest to me who have found that hardest to accept. That when I am upset, I actually don't want to answer their questions, or answer their stares. Some have made the mistake of thinking that it means I don't value them as a friend, or trust them. When often, it is only with the people I am the closest to that I allow myself to be openly upset. Everyone else gets the public face that I put on to protect myself. When asked, I will reply "fine." And it is only a handful of people who can see through that.

There has been a few conversations this week that I have treasured. I have been exploring myself with a friend a bit this week, and it was just one thing he said at the end of the conversation that made me realise how special some people are to me. He knows how hard I find it to talk to people, and I had said that I would talk when I was ready. His reply was that he would wait. And when I was ready I knew who I could talk to. And that until then, he would sit with me, and hold the Christ light for me.

Sit with me. Not ask me questions. Not look at me waiting for me to say something. But sit with me. I thought that was amazing, and a brilliant example of the present nature of Christ. Being there in the moments when the silence is the only comfort.

I have some dear friends, and some of which I would call my angels. They mean the world to me, and it is not because they make me laugh and smile, or because we have loads in common, or because we hang out in the same places. It is because they are present to me, available to talk to when I need, but also available to just sit and cry with. I am not going to name them, because they know who they are. But may God bless each one of them in their own situations, their own difficulties, and their own victories.

I am off to sing carols in Costa's. Good night. xXx

Saturday, 15 December 2007


N.B. Excuse me for a second, I really need to let this out or I am not going to get to sleep tonight. Sometimes, I just feel like everythings building in my subconscious and the only way to get it out is to write something. And so I write and I write, and eventually, words form together, and after a while, I carry on writing odd thoughts, whatever words pop into my head really. And thats how most of my poems come about.

I realised today that although some people think I am fairly open on here, a lot of my emotions I don't show, because I choose to write about them somewhere else, and only really spiritual or good things make it onto this blog. But thats not only what my journey has been about - and thats what I wanted this blog for, to record the journey of faith I was starting in Southend. There are times when I feel rubbish, and have failed. Times when I am struggling, when I am annoyed, or upset. Like tonight. After returning from a really good dinner, some things stayed in my head that I had been talking about that I realised actually bothered me a lot more than I let on. Part of building relationships is being vulnerable to people. Letting people in. I'm generally not so good at letting people in. My head is full of all kinds of things which I keep closely guarded under lock and key the majority of the time. But here is a chance to get inside my head. Enjoy it while it lasts.

I am torn
And inside, it hurts
Have two opposing courses of action
Ever seemed so far from one another?
Has a single moment, in all its glory
Ever truly made the distinction between
Hope and sorrow?
I am lost in the darkness
And through each little thing
That builds to this crescendo,
Slowly devouring my spirit,
I cry out, can anyone help me?
I know that someday,
This might put an end
To the way things have become.
And that knowledge, that conception:
It kills me
And I cannot stop it
Things have moved beyond my control
I am a spectator, a predictor
I have seen this all before.
But I am powerless. A weak bystander –
Soaked by the rain of bitterness and betrayal
I want to help.
But I cannot.
I am a failure: a mockery
A mere shadow that haunts the past
A scar that remembers the wound
Can ever one person mean so little?
I have failed you, dear brother.
And I am so very sorry.
Ami Wager © 2008

Sunday, 9 December 2007


After the most amazing nativity this morning, followed by the church lunch, for some reason I felt a great emptiness inside of me. All my energy had been sucked out and thrown away. I didn't feel Christmassy. I didn't feel relieved that all the stress and worry that comes with helping run a nativity was over. I honestly just felt like crying. After the church was finally cleared and everything packed up, I didn't want to go home. So I just bummed round to Phil's house with his family instead. And I am so glad I did. His family are so great, like how I want my family to be like when I'm older. I felt so welcome, so accepted. And even though I was just about ready to burst into tears, I actually had a real nice time.

I get on well with all his kids, and Reuben (aged 6) is always jumping on me for a cuddle or a piggy-back. Last week he even confessed he wished I was his mum... (I think he meant sister...) Anyways, this evening, whilst watching Doctor Who, he fell asleep on my lap, and it was the most wonderful thing. It sounds pathetic, but that kind of total acceptance by a child gives you the most amazing feeling. It is a feeling totally pure, totally unmarred by age, completely loving. And it made me feel like I was worth the world.

And that's all I'm going to say about that. =]

Wednesday, 5 December 2007


It may come as a surprise to some people, but I am terrified of change. It’s been one of the most important deciding factors in a lot of the way I have lived my life in the last few years. It’s the reason I stayed at County High to do A-Levels, and why I didn’t go to Uni. It’s a major reason why I took the subjects I took at A-Level – because I was familiar with the routine, with the teachers. I don’t get on too well with new teachers at first. I normally don't get on well with new anybody at first! I would say that I’m a bit of a perfectionist at heart. (I was watching a little kid colour a picture in yesterday, and it actually really got to me that they weren’t colouring within the lines...) I like things to be even, neat, simple, straight-forward. But of course, the world doesn’t work like that.

Things are constantly changing, rearranging, coming up, being cancelled, being rescheduled. Change for me means a lot of things, not many of them good. Change means new people who may reject me, people who might misunderstand me, people who might not like who I am, and people that could steal my friends away from me. Situations that I might not be able to handle, situations when I have to explain myself and situations when I have to talk about myself with people I don’t know. Questions I have to answer, questions about my family, about my background, about my lifestyle, and worst of all, about me. I’m not good at talking about me. I get embarrassed. I get nervous. I look at the floor. I look at the walls. I look for an escape, (but rarely get one.) I can listen for hours to someone talking about themselves. I can be interested in what they have to say. But I very rarely enjoy talking about me.

Giving my testimony at September training week was one of the hardest, most challenging experiences of this year so far. And yet, ever since that day, I realise now that something must have changed in me. My first week in Southend was awful. I cried myself to sleep every night, and I just wanted to go home and go back to my nice bed and familiar room just up the road from the church I had been attending since I was 4. Throughout that week, I met so many new people, all expecting something from me. And I was so completely terrified that I was going to fail them. I had no confidence in myself, no confidence in my abilities, and no confidence in God. When Training Week came, with all of its own challenges and tasks that I had to find the energy and the perseverance to endure, I was almost ready to give up. But I survived. And now I can look back at all the things I have achieved in the last three months. And yeah, most of them are really small and insignificant to the average person, but to me, there are some mammoth achievements in there.

I have made SO many new friends, had an (good?) influence on many young people’s lives. Shared parts of my life with people, some more than others, and shared in their lives too. I have risen to some challenges, and shied away from others; led bible studies, and helped others to lead; taken charge in some situations, and stepped back in others. And through all of that, I’ve learned some very important lessons. Life is full of its ups and downs. We never know what is around the corner. The world is constantly changing, constantly rearranging. But there is one thing that will never change. Something I can trust to always be there, always hold me, and always comfort me, is God’s never-ending, ever-changing, ineffable and incomparable Love.

I am still cautious about change. But now I know that change is necessary for growth. Change is needed to make people appreciate the status-quo. Change is required to make life that extra bit exciting. Change means realising what you’re missing out on, and working to make the world that tiny bit better. One word can mean the difference between happiness and total destruction. One song can change a million hearts. One life, can save the world.

Thursday, 29 November 2007


N.B. A quote from Rev Peter Thomas (MA MA) - "You don't have to have a great faith, just faith in a great God!"

We had a church meeting tonight. And to tell the honest truth - it was dead exciting! The church really knows how to get a church meeting going - coffee and cakes at the beginning, and everyone sitting around little tables in groups. We started off with worship and praying with our group. And then we launched into the agenda.

Phil spoke for a few minutes about how even faith as small as a mustard seed can be used to do great things (can move mountains...) The church is moving forward, and how we cannot expect people to come to us, we must be prepared to go out to those who need our presence, especially among the local communities and wards to whom we are appointed. Part of that is the idea that we employ a second part-time minister(s) who are focussed on the pastoral care of the community. And so came the financial report.

It was positive! As always, it is concluded that we all need to up our giving. [Always true.] The treasurer also concluded with a final choice that each person must decide - are we a church that does things, or aren't we? (I think we are) And then we launched into discussion. This bit was the most exciting! How revolutionary and reassuring is it, when 98% of the members are completely confident in the church leaders visions and decisions! Comments were made about how we must take risks, in order for us to go anywhere. About how in the past, God has provided for the church when they most needed it. About how the generosity of people is not to be disvalued. About how we must believe that God will provide because God has called the church into this decision. About how if we ask Jesus for blessing on the money the church receives, then he will multiply it.

And so the church members voted... (unanimously) for Rev Jim and Rev Juliet Kilpin to come and start working part time with Avenue. Upping our community care levels. Setting up something for people to come to who may not be part of the Sunday morning crowd. Getting stuck in to the local community work and caring for people one-on-one, investigating new possibilites about how we can take care of those who need our help. Is that an exciting church meeting or what! =]

During the notices at the end of the meeting, it was mentioned about how discussions have been had with the local Costa Coffee, and they have agreed to let us in one evening to sing carols in the corner, and lead a time of worship. The church often talks about its plans to set up a service in the other ward to service the local community - which is run down and in desperate need of being shown the love of Jesus. There is a mission team going the Philippines in April, and another one to Romania the year after that. This is what I became a Christian for. Not to hide in a church building planning bible studies and youth clubs. (Although that is an important part of my job) But to get my hands dirty - to reach out to those who are searching in all the wrong places for God. To talk and love and care for those society rejects. This is not just me dreaming. This is reality. This is this church, at this time, going places. And I am so pleased to be a part of it. =]

"The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches."
Matthew 13: 31-32 (NIV)

Wednesday, 28 November 2007


I felt reassured this week. I felt that yet again, God was letting me know that He does know where I am, and its just where He wants me. But he didn't do that by some massive miracle or by sending me a letter/text/email or facebook message. Instead, He sent me two angels to be with me when I felt really; almost unexplainably; upset.

At the beginning of this week, I was feeling pretty low. I was tired, ill, cranky, stressed, lonely, and just really wanting to crawl into a ball and sleep forever. However, I was never given that option. (Or the chance - Its understandable to say that things have been pretty hectic around here lately. I work for a church. And in just 28 days, its Christmas. Its finally crept up on us, and I'm not ready at ALL.)

So yeah. I had a pretty busy week coming up. I had loads of things to do. I wasn't feeling up to any of it. And yet the only thing that made me feel better, was just being with these two people. (Who know full well who they are.) I've had some other things that on my mind lately, which I didn't tell anyone about. Things that were actually really getting to me, and yet I never had the opportunity to share. Maybe things that I were trying to deny, in the hope that if I never thought about them, they might go away.

However, any mood other than happy never seems to surpass Rachel, who seemed to know immediately something was up, even though I never said anything. We talked for a bit, and with each thing that she said, it almost seemed as though she was reaching into the knot in my stomach and ripping it out of me. It hurt. But I needed it. Because I find it so extremely difficult to talk to people. So much of my life is still very raw on my heart, and whenever I get into a situation where I have to talk about it I normally clam up, get embarrassed, or change the subject. But I couldn't with Rachel. She was there, and she knew I needed to talk about it. And so she prodded. And she poked. And then she just hugged me until I just couldn't hold on to it anymore. And it just all came tumbling out. (Amidst more tears... they must think I'm such a crybaby.) And yeah, after it all, I was still tired, ill, stressed, and had loads of things to do and plan. But I also knew I had discovered a very special friend. Someone who wasn't going to let me go because of all the things that had happened in my past. Someone who wasn't afraid to share in my sufferings. Someone that extra bit special. And that, for me, this week, is something I could have only dreamed of.

So Rachel, if you ever read this. Don't ever change. You are completely special and wonderful just how you are, and you are and will be used for even greater things than these.
All my love.
Ami. xXx

Monday, 19 November 2007


N.B. God's been nagging at me to write this blog for a good few weeks, so here it goes. Please be patient with me, I am very tired.

So it just so happens that I've been thinking about this topic ever since I found the picture of the hour glass, and picked the bible verse below because I felt it fitted with what I wanted to say - and it just so happens that the below verse was the core of Sunday evening's sermon, so I thought I had better get me skates on and publish this.

Patience is one of those things that is so hard to have, and yet, demonstrates a love and a trusting for what God is doing in one's life. I've often thought about this when praying for things, wanting to say 'If it is your will' afterwards, to reinstate to myself that I cannot control what happens, but must wait for the Will of God to take its course. About five years ago, I was given a small piece of card at Christian Union with the following words on it:

"In your way and in your time, thats how it's going to be in my life.
And though some prayers I've prayed, may seem unanswered yet,
I will wait, and I will not regret the time, because in your time there is rest."

I have always remembered those words, and have tried, to the best of my ability to apply them to my life. When trying to decide what to do on my Gap Year, I waited an awful long time for God to tell me where to go. And He left it pretty late, but it was the right time. I arrived at the placement church I was supposed to be placed at.

I love the scene in Evan Almighty where God (Morgan Freeman) is talking to Evan's wife about what God does when people pray for things:
"If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other? "

At Youth Group on Saturday night, the youth were being pretty rowdy and rude to me, and instead of demonstrating a cool, christian adult-ness and keeping cool, I lost my temper after about twenty minutes. (I'm suprised I lasted that long...) In hindsight, I can see that that may not have been the best way to handle the situation, and it reminds me that although it takes a lot to get me angry these days, I am still susceptible to losing my temper, and that I need to practice my patience more readily. God brought that situation to me to allow me a chance to demonstrate Christian patience, but boy, did I blow it.

The sermon was talking about how as Christians, we must strive to go that extra mile to live a life that is humble, and forever demonstrates patience. If there is someone we do not like, or get on with, not only must strive to get on with them, but we must demonstrate our love for them as best we can. There are a few people that God has put on my heart tonight, and throughout this week whom I have been trying to avoid because I know I don't get on with them very well. This passage reminds me that being a Christian means going the extra mile for our neighbours, but most importantly, being loving and humble about it.

I pray tonight that God will bring more situations into my life that will allow me to practice my understanding of the ineffable love that is ours through Jesus Christ.

"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace."
Ephesians 4:2-3

Sunday, 11 November 2007


N.B. I've actually got an awesome blog I am writing about Patience, its sitting half written as a draft at the minute, but it'll be coming soon.

For some reason, this evening I have felt very emotional. And not even the entire of this evening, just these last two hours really. I feel like something awful has happened, and I'm still in shock mode, and then any minute now it will finally hit me and I will begin to cry like a baby.

I guess its times like this when I really begin to miss being close to my friends and family. I mean, yeah, I'm half an hour away. But there's no chance of me getting on a train to Brentwood at 11:40pm and turning up at a friends house unannounced at midnight. I really don't think they will appreciate it.

And now a song has just started playing on my iTunes that seems like God slapping me in the face: You Raise Me Up. The children did a dance with sticks to that song this morning in the church service - God knew I was gona feel like this and wanted to remind me He was there. And then when I sat here feeling ultra-rubbish He thought He'd give me a nudge. Well spoken God - I get the picture. Unfortunately, its not making me feel any better.

Thinking about it, Phil actually read a wonderful passage from Ecclesiastes (brilliant book) in the Evening Service. It would probably fit really well with my blog on Patience, but I'm going to end this blog with it instead; because it reminds me that sometimes, I am going to feel like crying, and being emotional. But that's ok; because in every moment God is there. And I can share my sorrows with Him.

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace."
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 (NIV)

Thursday, 8 November 2007


It is often said that we live in a world where everything is about the here and now, we need immediate gratification for things, if we want something, we want it NOW. And to some degree, that is true. The main reason being because when people want things, they nearly always have the capacity to GET things - the increase in bank loans, credit card usage, and as a result, debt, is a constant reminder of that. You only have to be watching the TV for ten seconds before an advert about 'reducing your credit card payments' or 'one easy loan to pay back other loans' comes on.

I'm pretty easy-going when it comes to money. What I have, I generally share. I very rarely manage to save up for things. My general motto is, if I have the money, I'll use it, if I don't, I won't. That may be due to my upbringing; we never had money to throw around, and if we didn't have the money to buy something, we generally didn't buy it. We made do with what we had. But I don't feel that I was ever deprived of anything. As long as you have a roof over your head, clothes on your back and food on the table, you're richer than about 90% of the world's population.

Saying that, the one thing that initially held me back about doing this year was the worry that I would not be able to afford it. £2950 is more money that I had ever dreamed about. But what I didn't take into account, was the wonderful generosity of the people around me, and the faithful nature of God, who makes things possible. Since deciding to do Optimum, God has provided for me, when I learnt to trust in him. Whilst I was worrying about getting the money, and panicking about whether or not I would get on with the people at the church, I had nothing. As soon as I trusted that God would provide, I got everything. The money, a wonderful host church, a wonderful host family, and people who care and support me in my work. What else could I need?

The one thing I have always wanted to do is work abroad with children, in a country where the people are not rich with money, but instead, rich with love and kindness. It's my dream. If an opportunity arises to do that, I'm going to take it. And I'm going to trust that God will provide the resources for me to do so.

"The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song."
Psalm 28: 7

Monday, 29 October 2007


N.B. I really wanted to name this blog - PAY ATTENTION! But it wouldn't fit with the names I've given my posts so far, or the picture. So here it is. A blog about direction, apparently. And don't worry. Its a short one!

This week, I was randomly contacted on MySpace by someone who'd read a few of my blogs and wanted to thank me for what I have written. They said that it had helped them gain perspective on a few things and realised what they had been missing. We've been chatting ever since and we've really sparked up a conversation about some things that they are struggling with, and with which I have had dealings with in the past. One of the main things we've been discussing is how it is impossible to 'earn' a place in heaven, because God gives it to us freely by his great salvation. And that nothing we do can stop God from loving us. He just does! God loves you. Cool, huh?

And once again I realise how great it is that God has his hand on my life, even when I think everything is going wrong! I have been in some way trying to help this MySpace person with a lot of issues they struggle with, and a lot of them I have been able to relate directly to a period of my life when I struggled with them. It's very good to be able to speak directly from experience to someone who is currently at the bottom of life's bucket. The one thing they need to cling to is hope, and being able to talk to someone who has been through simular experiences and survived must be a fairly comforting thought. For me, being able to talk to someone about things I used to struggle with, and knowing that I am now free of them is very fulfilling. Because I know that God gave me those struggles for a reason. And that when he placed those hardships in my life, He was intending for me to become the "light at the end of the tunnel" for someone else. When He decided about what I was going to be like, he also sat down and planned the things He wanted me to do! He chose me for this job, because he thought I would be the best person for it. What a comforting thought!

To really put cream in the cake, the sermon this Sunday evening was on this:

"God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago."
Ephesians 2: 8 - 10

P.S. There are many people who will be reading this whom I will never know about. So like, if you read this and want to drop me a comment, I shall be very grateful! It's nice sometimes to know who your audience is, although honestly, it won't change a single thing I write.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Holiday Club

This week the church has had its annual holiday club. The theme has been 'Down On The Farm' and was primarily run by Chris and Sue Govus of 'Back To School' ministries. It’s been well fun! We've had about 50/ 60 different kids throughout the week, and we definitely finished on Friday with a high - all of us looking forward to Sunday morning's Holiday Club service as much as the kids are.

Each child that attends the holiday club got a special children's Bible, which was good, as it gives them something to take away and also a chance to find out about the different bible stories for themselves. It may be the only Bible they ever get.

All the games and teachings are linked to the farm theme, and I must say that I had just about as much fun as the kids - if not more with all the behind the scenes fun. We sung the usual cheesy children's songs - "Nothing's too big big big for his power..." "God loves you and I love you..." "Oh its great great brill brill wicked wicked skill skill..." and all of those - with actions and everything! Hehe. But what was really cool was that, even though they seem cheesy and silly to me, I know that the kids enjoy them and they speak a simple and life changing truth – which is that God loves us and wants to be our friend. And even though it means that I spent the entire of my week singing cheesy songs in the street whenever they popped into my head, it was all worth it!

The games were also very popular, Fill Ya Barns, Ripe or Rotten, CHUCK THE CHICKEN! They added the usual competitiveness to the week, especially as each day the team leader of the losing team got gunged. The Beetroot Bunchers won overall, winning 2 Barmy Farmers (each day the team with the most points got a barmy farmer) and then the CARROT CRUNCHERS!! Finishing 4 points ahead of the Marrow Munchers due to an influx of points on the last day. Guess what team I was in. :)

The teachings were really good too. The first day really hit me, as Chris was telling the kids about how much God loves them, no matter what they do or who they are. It's surprising how many of the children actually thought that God didn't care about them, some even as young as five, struggling with issues of self-esteem because someone had told them they weren't good enough at something. It was actually quite heart breaking. But I loved having the opportunity to hang out with the kids each day, showing them through the way I acted and engaged with them that they were each special and loved by me and by God. On the last day I almost got crushed as I had three different children fighting to sit as close to me (or on me) as they could. It was quite sweet, but nevertheless, painful.

Still, on another note, the youth group I am starting begins on Saturday, taking them down to the seafront to see the fireworks. So let the fun and games continue!

"God made all sorts of wild animals, livestock, and small animals, each able to produce offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good."
Genesis 1:25

Tuesday, 23 October 2007


So after spending a few days at home, I realised that I've never felt more relaxed and at home than I do in Southend. And although I get on well with everyone here, and am enjoying my work, I feel its more than that. Its God's work in my heart, giving me a passion and a sense of belonging to the work that I'm doing. Everything I do confirms to me that I am in the place that God had intended me to be in.

When I think back to the way things turned out, it almost annoys me that I didn't realise how much God worked through the lead up to my application to Optimum. Although to me, it only started when I actually filled out the application - and then had to be almost forced to post it by Steve, really it started long before that. Back when I went to the SOLID weekends and spent time with the Viz volunteers, and the Taste band, getting to know about what work they did and how good that was. Back when Lindsay first came to our housegroup to talk about year-outs. That was all part of the bigger picture - that eventually I would apply to Viz-a-Viz, become a volunteer, and work for the glory of God's grace. And how wonderfully it has turned out!

Spending some time this week with my friends in Brentwood was great. I love them all and have missed them dearly. And I had a very privileged upbringing in Brentwood compared to some I've met in Southend, I don't deny that. But although the people I grew up with and spent time with have shaped me into who I am now, the ultimate change has come about through my strengthening relationship with Jesus. Almost as soon as I arrived in Brentwood this week, I felt, "I don't belong here." And I felt homesick for Southend. And yeah, I've only been here 2 months and I still don't know how to get anywhere beyond Southend High St, but God has impacted me through my work here in such a massive way!

Brentwood was, and will forever be, my past. And now I have moved on from that. Southend is my present, and at least for now, my immediate future. (Where I go after that lies in God's hands. ) And that doesn't mean that I will discount the wonderful memories and friends that I have in Brentwood. It's my entire childhood - (and my parents child and adulthoods, and my grandparents adulthoods.... you get the picture. ) But it's time for me to realise that just because I am from Brentwood, doesn't mean I will always belong, or be welcome there. My adulthood is just beginning. And now I know where I really belong - in Christ! And for now that means that I call Avenue my home. Praise The Lord!

"Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honour."
Mathew 13:57

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Self Expression

I would say that this last week has probably been the worst since coming to Southend. But that makes it sound like it’s been a completely terrible week, and in retrospect, this week has just been another week in Youth Work. In fact, I’m not even going to go into all the little things that have made this week really hard for me. I was having a really rough time on Monday though, and during worship rehearsal my line manager pulled me outside for a chat. I wasn’t hiding my bad mood that well, to be perfectly honest. I was fed up. But she said some things to me which made me feel so appreciated and welcomed, and normally I would have thought she was just being nice, but the words came out with such a weight attached to them that I realised she really meant them. And I started crying. Although seemingly a really stupid thing, I enjoyed that moment with Rachel: blubbering on her shoulder, smearing all manner of eyeliner and mascara around my face, but sharing that kind of special moment with someone breaks down walls and barriers in the relationship that would normally take months, even years to dissolve. It’s a good way to strengthen a relationship.

That is one thing that I enjoy about working for a church. I have so much love and support from the Leaders of the church, and even just the members of the congregation – so much more so than I would if I was at University or in a secular workplace. I guess in any workplace, you will all have one common goal – whether that is to make as much money as possible, or to spread the message of the Love, Hope and Joy that comes from Jesus. I’m so lucky to have such a brilliant and supportive leadership team, (I know not all the other Optimum Volunteers have) and it is definitely weeks like this that make me aware of that. God’s put me in Avenue for something great, but he’s also put a lot of other wonderful people here too – everything brilliant that happens here this year or in the years to come, is down to years of hard work, commitment, and a lot of sowing seeds by the members of this congregation. And now I am a part of that. I am starting some things which totally wouldn’t be possible without such a great leadership team backing me up. The leaders of the church, the deacons, and the church members – all have such a passion for the work that we (as a church) have been doing (in the church, the local community, and abroad in Romania and the Philippines) that it makes so much more possible! And even though this week I’ve been feeling a bit out of my depths and almost like I’m not making a difference, its words from Rachel, Phil, Jo or Julie that make me feel appreciated and loved. Thanks guys.

On Thursday I went to lunch with Jo, who is also on my Pastoral Care team. (He thought he should check up with me after my mood at Worship rehearsal on Monday...) We’d been emailing the last few days and at lunch I elaborated and talked to him in depth about some of the things I was struggling with and worried about, which is something I rarely do, to be honest. I find it really hard to talk openly to someone face to face, as Steve and my counsellors have often discovered. I’m a writer, not a talker. Poems are my self-expression when I feel the lowest – the darkest and most desperate of times of my life have been recorded in a poem somewhere. I’ve shared all my poems with Jo. (The majority of them have only been seen by a handful of people and it’ll probably stay that way for some time to be honest.) But through the conversations that I’ve had with Jo, I noticed something in him which I can connect to, and I’ve realised that he’s someone I can really talk to: which is why when he asked me to meet for lunch I said ‘Yes’ straight away. Normally there would have been quite some degree of hesitation where I would have rehearsed everything that I needed to say in my head a thousand times (and yet still never managing to say it in the conversation.)

Jo is a good listener. I talked to him about those dark times in my life, and he didn’t run away or tell me I was crazy. He allowed me to vent my anxieties and attempt to explain myself, and he helped me to see things in perspective. We had a good talk and I shared with him things I very rarely tell people. But I’m glad I did. Because I know that not only will it allow Jo to understand me a bit better, but he will be a good point of contact for me when I feel like my head is going to explode. And although Jo would probably never say it himself, he is very wise.

When all this time I’ve been worrying about things and was sure that God was ignoring me, he showed me how much God has been working in me. And that was a real relief. Even though I felt like I had no control on my life, God had his hand on me, and was guiding me. Every day when I felt like it could get no worse, God lifted me from the depths and renewed me in strength. It was quite funny actually, when Jo quoted me at one point, for my email signature for some time has been a quote from when I saw Switchfoot in concert, and it kind of sums up how we should view our relationships with God.

"Every morning is a resurrection."
Jon Foreman

Monday, 8 October 2007


N.B. I have decided to change the title of this blog from 'Ami loves...' to 'Ami Blogs.' because so many things I want to write about do not involve me 'loving' a particular object or activity. I continue.

Last night I sang in my first Karaoke. We went to a pub (as we do every Sunday evening) and this time it was the Yates pub near to Southend High Street, which was celebrating/commiserating its last night at the current building. (Loads of the major companies are upgrading, resulting in a major shift around in buildings....) Anyways, I was coaxed into singing with Danny, so we sang 'Video Killed the Radio Star' - all I can say is, at least we were in tune, which was more than you could say for the other singers (all suffering from a bit too much alcohol.)

I was being grilled last night on my decision not to drink alcohol. Its not a biblical thing, or even God calling me to do it, but merely a decision I made about my life. A lot of people don't believe me, when they buy me a drink and I say 'Coke', they say 'and what...?' Thinking about my reasoning, I guess it won't make much sense to anyone else. I know that too many times in the past I had way too much to drink and the ability to judge my decisions became seriously blurred. It's quite worrying. But when I was thinking about it, I turned and questioned other peoples motives TO drink. Even before you get to the escapist reasoning behind alcoholics, drinking becomes a way of releasing problems and trying to hide behind the confidence, and the image that alcohol = fun. I have met many people who believe you cannot have a good time without drinking alcohol, and I know that that is rubbish. Its been 6 months since the last time I had alcohol, and if someone wants to say that I haven't had a good time in these last 6 months then they are seriously wrong.

If someone is not confident, chatty and 'fun', why should alcohol give them that? Why not God? (Big cheese coming) If they are not filled with the Spirit, they are being filled with spirits. And its wrong. God gives me confidence, and a life filled with too many blessings for me to count. And its completely free! Jesus has paid the price for me to be saved, which means I do not need to be paying money in order to enter this social atmosphere of drinking! At the pub last night, I saw too many people who maybe just didn't know what it was like to follow God. There was a big group downing shots, in some vast attempt maybe to escape their weekday lives and find something fulfilling in being totally slaughtered. All I can say is, I'm glad I made my decision when I did. I went to sleep last night, knowing I wouldn't awake with any regrets from last night. (Except perhaps the decision to sing that song.)

"And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit."
Ephesians 5:18

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Brown Paper Packages

N.B. Not the ones tied up with string, just the ones addressed to me! :)

Its been a busy ten days, sorry I haven't blogged. It's been top of my To-Do-List all weekend, so I thought I should do it now, while I have the "time". This week has really been a turning point in my relationships and thoughts. I was thrown into the deep end more than once at Girls Brigade on Tuesday, and I quickly learnt that when people see you as the Youth Worker, you gotta be quick off the mark in terms of coming up with Games and Prayers! I've been given a few challenging tasks this week, like preparing a half hour session for BB on Friday about Sin - more about that later.

At Optimum Wednesday on Wednesday (clue is in the name) we had a fast and prayer session. It basically meant going without food from Tuesday evening till Wednesday evening. It was weird for me, I've often been without food for 24/36 hours and not even thought about it. But it seems so much harder when you are planning to go without food. It was good though. When we arrived, we spent about an hour in prayer thinking about what we wanted to achieve by the end of the day. Last week I was reading Ecclessiastes 4, and I was thinking about the image of Jesus on the cross. He was not crucified on His own, He had two people there with Him. Perhaps not the most useful of people, but still, two people, He was not alone!

Sometimes we seem to think that if God wants us to do something, we must do it alone - without help. But that is not the case! When God asked Moses to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, He gave him his brother Aaron to help him to speak - when God tells us to do things, we don't have to do it on our own! Instead we should make use of the people God has put in our lives to give us encouragement and friendship! It's an encouraging thought, that we do not have to struggle alone when it is God's will for us to struggle, but instead gain love and comfort from friends who are dear to our heart. I spent the rest of the day I spent asking God to show me the people He has put into my life for me to help and to lead, and I got some interesting perspectives back. I also thanked God for the people He has put into my life that give me love and support, like the aboslute legends that sent me the parcel I received this morning, and the many friends who I have loved and shared my life with, and been loved and comforted in return. For me, that proves that God is awesome!

The second half of last week I spent trying to figure out the best times and settings for the youth club and youth alpha I'm supposed to be starting. It was quite a challenge for me, because at present I only have two free evenings, Thursday and Saturday, (Saturday being my day off) however, after talking to some of the kids, I realised that Saturday is probably going to be the best evening for the Social Group, which obviously, raises a problem - give up my weekend day off? I put the decision off for a few days, and on Sunday we had a church meeting. It was a positive meeting in which the church made a decision that is going to be risky. But nevertheless, they made it and I think it is a positive thing for the church and the wider community as well. I also saw the way the leaders dream, and I was encouraged by that! The church went on to talk about more proposals in regards to local buildings they'd like to do up and manage, including a cafe! (That made me chuckle) I went on to dream myself about the things I could do with the Youth Group and the things I wanted to launch my energy into.

Which led me to the decision to only have Saturday off every other week. I need to advance my start at putting God's will ahead of my own, and part of that is starting a Youth Club on a Saturday and a Youth Bible class on a Thursday. I talked to some of the youth about it, and they seemed really excited. Yesterday at Kids Klub I had a chat with some of the 11+ who were hanging around, and I began to feel like my honeymoon period is now officially over. They know me, they like me (I hope!) and they want me to start doing stuff. And so it begins!

"If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble."
Ecclesiastes 4:10 (NLT)

Sunday, 23 September 2007


This morning at church 5 people were baptised. It was amazing, as the church only had a baptism service 3 weeks ago, and four people were baptized then. Yesterday there was only 4 people on the list, but one of the non-christians who went to Romania was so moved by the work out there and the way the team were that he was also baptised. He'd barely been a Christian for a day. That's God's grace, give the glory to Him.

I love baptisms. For me, baptism is about being accepted by God, even when you are not perfect. Its an amazing thing really. I put off being baptised for a long time because I thought I wasn't good enough, and Steve really had to work hard to assure me that I was never going to be good enough, but God didn't mind, he accepted me for who I was, and saw the desires of my heart, not the deeds of my flesh. (To put it into the Christian "Jargon" for you all!)

After church I went with Finette, Paul and Nicolette went to a Nature Reserve near Basildon. It was really cool, and we picked blackberries and me and Finette climbed a tree and were picking the apples - much fun. I really enjoyed being able to spend time with the family, and I was really thankful for that today, in this time of thanksgiving at harvest. :D

The sermon this evening was about giving thanks, and I shall nab Phil's notes at some point and type it up, and I really enjoyed it. It made me think alot, we had to ask ourselves, do we have a complaining or a grateful heart? It's so easy to find fault in things, but how much do we have that we can be thankful for? LOADS! *insert some statistics from Phil's sermon* We are so much better off that most of the people in this world, be grateful for what you DO have, not moan about what you do not! Phil challenged us to a Complaint Fast. Which means that every time we feel the need to complain or moan, we should give thanks to God for something instead. The challenge begins!

"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever."
Psalm 107:1

Friday, 21 September 2007


This morning I helped out at Playgroup for the second time this week. I've really enjoyed it, even though its not technically my job, its very rewarding to work with people who love, trust and adore so freely. Even the shy ones only took half an hour before they came up chattering away to me. One little boy is new to playgroup, this is only his second week, and he spontaneously bursts into tears. I was reading with him on Tuesday when he did it, but a quick cuddle and he cheered up again. Today when I saw him, he was very tearful, so we did some puzzles, and then painting (narrowly avoiding a disaster on my jeans) and then playdough and by the end of it he was running about happy as... well I don't know the saying, something thats happy... heaven!

It made me think about something I heard once about the difference between children and adult's natural state. Children, unless something is wrong (they are in pain, hungry, tired, Mummy is angry/missing) are in a state of bliss. They play, they make new friends, they make a mess, they are generally caring and mischieveous in the cheeky little way they have, but they are content. Adults seem to be the opposite most of the time. They are constantly stressed, about money, food, housing, bills, work, children, housework, the car, friends, health. They NEED to worry about something. It's almost as if they do not know what to do if they are not stressing and worrying about something. Stop worrying and stressing, and accept God! Accept the peace and that state of bliss that comes from knowing Christ is in charge! I'd spent less than an hour with the little boy before he accepted me as a friend and came to me for a cuddle. :)

"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these."
Matthew 19:14

Tuesday, 18 September 2007


Here we are. The start of a new blog, to technically syncopate with a new life in Southend. The first week was good, got really homesick at first, missed all my wonderful friends in Brentwood, and the comfort of my own bedroom, but with a bit of time and prayer, things got a bit better. And then along came the training week.

First day, was challenged to speak out whilst in a group situation. Now, those who don't know me that well will be very suprised to think that I'm quite shy. But I am. Takes me a while to get used to new people, and when I am embarrassed or nervous I will either become very loud and outspoken, or very shy and withdrawn. Not a problem generally, but as a youth worker, you can't really be the one that is shy, as its kind of your job to encourage everyone else to participate in the group discussion or whatever (a hard job if you are being mute.) So yeah, the first day of training was hard, lots of group discussion and getting to know people, (which requires speech.) But I perked up after a bit, and the first night of worship God moved through the group and it definately challenged me to be more assertive, and have faith in the power that is Gods!

Another that I was challenged about was the early morning prayer sessions. Before September, I hardly ever prayed! Let me rephrase that - I never prayed! I never sat down and said, right, now I am going to pray! But each morning we were encouraged to be in the chapel from 7am - 8am to pray and read the Bible. After the worship the previous night I felt really challenged to sacrifice my sleep to pray, so I did! Tuesday morning, at the nice early time of 6.30am, I was in the shower, all clean and prepared for an hours prayer in the chapel. Everyone else took Bible's and cushions with them, but I was so determined to spend the hour in prayer I took nothing, and just sat, staring at the wooden cross on the altar, and PRAYED for an hour! Me and God had a lot to catch up on. It was an excellent time for me spiritually, throughout the hour I gave to God all the things I was worried or scared or nervous about, and He calmed me. :)

The rest of the day, I wasn't nearly as silent during discussions, I spoke up, contributed to the group, and had loads of fun in the process. But the challenges didn't stop there! We had to share our testimonies, and I did, (after much emotional turmoil) and I am so glad I did! I even did the unedited version, (my baptism day one was very very edited) and it was good not only for me, but for the whole group as we learned about each others struggles and victories. The Optimum people are all so cool, and we've all bonded so much through the last week. Training week was excellent in that way, it brought us together as friends and fellow followers of Christ. Having the group there is a major sense of comfort for me, I know that the friendships I build with each of the other volunteers will be strong and beneficial to my spiritual and emotional wellbeing.

The last evening of training a group of us sat in the chapel singing and playing guitar, ukelele (Capon) and drums (Dale) and it was such a great time for me. Just to sit down with 15 other people and having meaningful worship time with people that were as passionate about God as I was, it wasn't really something I've had before. In Brentwood, my friends are all at different stages of their faith, which is great, but it never challenges me to grow more. Training week I was stretched further that I had been in the last 4 years of my Christian faith, and I'm glad I was, cause now I am on a learning thirst that will power me through the next few months of being in Southend. God is SO amazing. Its time people started to realise that. Peace out. xXx

"I can do all things through He who gives me strength."
Philippians 4:13

Wednesday, 5 September 2007


N.B. My first blog since moving to Southend. You’d better be in for the long haul or you may as well not be here at all.

First impressions: the church, I fell in love with it the first time I met it anyway. Its one of those places where you just feel welcome, comfortable, and just want to spend time there. The people are just as nice, welcoming, open and down-to-earth! Maybe its just because i’m a new person, and they are all going full out to impress me or make me feel welcome, or maybe its because these people reflect the love of Christ in their everyday lives, and live their lives as Jesus would have wanted them to – struggling through the hard times and coming out at the end having learnt lessons and taken hold of opportunities they might not have had otherwise. Christ-lives.

Take my host family for example: Barbara and Ken, both now retired, but not retiring! Forty-two years ago Barbara gave birth to Stephen, who has Down’s syndrome, and a few other illnesses which he has suffered over the years. Due to the time period when he was born, there were no facilities around to help people with such a task, and schooling was out of the question. Yet they battled on (already raising two other children under 5) and Barbara set out to change something. She set up meeting for parents with newly diagnosed Down’s babies, and worked with doctors and paediatricians to develop an organisation that she eventually ended up touring the country giving lectures and meeting to help other parents going through the same thing she had and was. Ken and a friend also set up a Trust that funds houses for those with handicaps, the one near us in Westcliff is where Stephen now lives. His life isn’t exactly boring either. He volunteers in a tea room, works at the church two days a week, travels with one of his carers to train other carers and meets with other disabled people to voice their opinion at a local forum. He also is an avid BBC Essex radio fan, loves the cricket on TV and has the best sense of humour. He makes me laugh.

It might sound silly, but I have learnt so much just being down in Southend these last few days than what I probably would have if I’d have stayed in Brentwood for another year. Things at home are so different. Yeah, I miss my friends a lot, I miss not being able to watch TV when I want, or watch ANY of the normal programmes I watch, or going on the internet and being able to meet up with my friends, but I’ve benefitted from being around these people, most of whom have had a much harder time of life than those I know in Brentwood. Life is so much more comfortable and happier in Brentwood. I know that sounds silly, but let me explain. In Brentwood, I was the poor one, the one who never had money, the one whose parents weren’t together (well there wasn’t many of us) and who didn’t have Sunday lunch as a family. In Southend, I’m just like everyone else. Of the six people that were at the bible class the other night, Simon seems to be the only person whose parents are still together. The others haven’t had the comfortable, money-filled life many of my friends in Brentwood seem to have. I fit in here.

This may just be the ramblings of someone who had a very early morning, and is having a very late night, but it’s just how I’m feeling at the moment. I’m not dismissing my life in Brentwood, I loved it, and I loved all my friends dearly, and am missing them like crazy (Note to self, stop saying: “At my old church” every five minutes.) Maybe I’m just trying to make excuses to myself about why I’m not feeling as homesick as I thought I would. But then, thinking of home now, it seems a million miles away. Life here is just beginning. I wait expectantly to see what it will bring.