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)