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.