Saturday, 17 December 2011

His Daughters - One for the girls

It's not easy being a girl in today's society. Everywhere I look I see people's ideas of how we should act, what we should wear, how much we should weigh, how to have our hair, even things like who we should date! The media portrays tall, thin and beautiful women who we are supposed to look like, but don't say that they've been airbrushed and don't actually look like that in real life. So many of us get caught up with how the world views us, we can't go out unless our hair and make up is perfect and we are wearing the 'right' clothes, that we forget that there is already someone who thinks we are amazing just the way we are. 


I sent an email a while ago to encourage a friend and wanted to share part of it with you:
"You know something, you are BEAUTIFUL, you are SPECIAL, you are LOVED, you are PRECIOUS, you are KIND, you have WORTH. But the Devil doesn't want you to know that... because he doesn't want you to feel secure in your identity in Christ. God created you in His image, and he DOESN'T make mistakes, which means he created you perfect and when he looks at you he sees his beautiful daughter who he could not love any more or any less. He sees the righteousness of Christ. He sees purity, a blank slate on which He wants to write the next chapter of your life."


This is true for each and everyone of you reading this, whether you feel like it's true or not. Maybe you are sitting there and saying 'but I'm not beautiful, I'm fat and ugly and nothing special at all', I just want to say it's not true!! That's what the Devil wants you to believe because when you know that your identity is secure in Christ it makes you unstoppable for Him, and the Devil really doesn't want that to happen!


Jeremiah 31:3 says this
"God told them, "I've never quit loving you and never will. 
   Expect love, love, and more love!
And so now I'll start over with you and build you up again" (MSG)

I LOVE this verse, especially this version of it. No matter what have done or will do God will never quit loving us, never!! That makes me want to sing and dance and jump up and down! How amazing is it to be told that?! That all God wants to do is lavish His love on us! 
My challenge to you is to look at yourself in the mirror and say over yourself  'I am beautiful, I am special, I am loved, I am precious and I have worth.' everyday and see the difference it makes. I promise I will try this too. 


Reasons to be cheerful 1, 2, 3...


I have been appallingly bad at doing this, this year! But I will try and join in the last couple before the New Year!

1. We got internet and TV back
We've been without it since we moved at the end of November and it was particularly frustrating not having it whilst I was trying to do my Christmas shopping as it's better for me to do it online! But finally the virgin media guys arrived yesterday armed with drills and belts that don't work and installed it for us :)

2. I now have my own room
Ok so this isn't something that happened in the past week but as I mentioned before we moved at the end of November to a bigger house, which means I now get my own room. We also now have a downstairs toilet which is very helpful for me as I now don't have to struggle with the stairs all the time!


3. I have been re awarded DLA
DLA stands for Disability Living Allowance and is very helpful for me with my condition. It means I can re apply for my blue badge and helps me out with buying equipment to help me etc. I've been given it for another 2 years but I'm really hoping I don't need it for that long as I really want to go back to uni! (I do hate admitting I'm on disability benefits though)

Hop over to see Michelle over at Mummy From the Heart for more reasons to be cheerful :)

Monday, 7 November 2011

Worrying

Anyone who knows me will know I'm a worrier. I worry about the future and what's going to happen, I worry about people getting home ok and always make sure they text me when they do get home.

Last week I went to Nottingham to talk to my programme leader about returning to uni. The meeting was really helpful and gave me several options but only a couple of them give me a registration in Nursing and I have to be better by a certain time to be able to do it. This sent me into worry mode and going through my head were thoughts such as 'what if I'm not better?' and 'what happens if I can't complete the course?' Then I was doing my bible reading earlier this week and the verse that it was on was 1 Peter 5:7

It says 'Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.' 1 Peter 5:7

This really spoke to me. I realised I had been focusing on my illness and the deadline to go back and not focusing on the fact that I serve the God of the universe who is so much bigger than any problem I have. The verse says we should give our worries to Him because he cares about us. God doesn't want to see us struggling along on our own, he wants us to give everything we are worried about over to Him.


“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?... Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:25-27, 34


I love this passage, it's really comforting. We don't need to worry because God has it all sorted, we can trust completely that he will provide for us in all areas of our lives. I know I don't have to worry about being well enough to go back to my course because God has it all sorted, if I don't make it back it just means he has something better planned for me! It's hard not to worry but my challenge for you this week is to pray every time you feel worried that God would just fill you with peace.

Just wanted to leave you with this verse: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Philippians 4:6

Friday, 28 October 2011

Reasons to be cheerful 1, 2, 3...


It's that time of week again! I've been really slack at joining in recently, I just keep forgetting! So I made a point to try and remember this week!

1. I had a day out with Mum
Technically this was slightly more than a week ago but oh well. We went to a garden centre (well two because the first one we arrived at was rubbish!) had lunch and a mooch around. I spent (more!) money on cupcake decorations and it was just nice to spend time with Mum =) 

2. I went shopping with the family on Saturday
I had forgotten how busy shopping centres are on a Saturday! I went in my wheelchair and was tired after about 5 minutes but I did manage to find a dress for my friend's wedding and some jeans that fit me! Success! Tried to upload a picture of the dress but it wouldn't work =(

3. I had a catch up with my friend and saw her newborn baby =D
Went to Nottingham yesterday to talk about return to uni (that parts still a big if!) and decided to drop in to see my lovely friend and meet Eli who is six weeks old (ok so not quite newborn!) and gorgeous. Got lots of cuddles and had a good catch up with my friend =) 


It's been a busy week and I'm paying for it now but was definitely worth all the pain =) 

Pop over to Michelle at Mummy from the Heart and check out everyone else's reasons to be cheerful this week =D 

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Using your gifts

Imagine you are given the gift of a brand new car, and all it does is sit in the drive way under a tarpaulin. You look at it admiringly every once in a while but you've never driven it. It would totally defeat the object of being given a car!

It's the same when God gives us a gift that we don't use, maybe because we're too afraid or we don't believe our gift is of any value or even sometimes because we are too lazy! There is no point if God gives you the gift of compassion or serving if you don't help people out and use it to glorify Him.


"There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work... Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptised by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body." 1 Corinthians 12:4, 12-20 


I think quite often (if you're anything like me anyway) we can hold back on our gifts because we are too afraid. We may think that someone else's gifts are better than ours but as it says in the verse above, every part is important. You're gifts are just as important as the next persons and gifts that aren't used are as useless as a car is never driven. It's time to move out of our comfort zones and use the gifts God gave us in the best way we can, for His glory :)

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Praise

How often do your prayers to God look like a cosmic shopping list rather than praise and thanksgiving? Or maybe you do include a 'praise time' but it's far outweighed by the 'please time'. I know that my prayers often end up like that.


Psalm 92:1-5 says 'It is good to praise the LORD 
   and make music to your name, O Most High,
  proclaiming your love in the morning
   and your faithfulness at night, 

 to the music of the ten-stringed lyre
   and the melody of the harp.


  For you make me glad by your deeds, LORD;
   I sing for joy at what your hands have done.
 How great are your works, LORD,
   how profound your thoughts!'

I read this in my quiet time yesterday and it struck me how little I praise the God who created me, who loves me, who died for me. The Psalmist here had the right idea, they start the day by praising God and end the day by praising God (vs 2). The thing is, we haven't really got a reason why not to praise God but we have got plenty of reasons to praise Him! I made a list the other day of everything I could think of, off the top of my head, that God has done for me this year. The list was pretty long and that didn't even include the smaller things that He does for me every single day! 

'When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”' Luke 19:37-40

How amazing is that? Being told that if the people stopped praising Jesus then the stones would cry out! To me that just shows me, even more so, how much Jesus deserves to be praised! Not only should we praise God because He deserves it but it also benefits us! It reminds us of how great God is, that in any situation we don't have to worry because God is greater than it!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Serving

Serving - It's a word many of us in today's society dislike. Our culture here in the UK teaches us to look out for ourselves first and others second. Yet putting ourselves first goes directly against what Jesus taught in the bible. He taught us that we should humble ourselves and that to be first we should put ourselves last.


Philippians 2:6-8 talking about Jesus says 'Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death - even death on a cross!' 


I find it incredible whenever I read this passage, Jesus chose not to use the fact that he was equal with God to his advantage but instead 'took the very nature of a servant'! Who are we then to put ourselves before others, to try and get ahead and only do what is best for number 1 when Jesus himself became a servant to others.



'Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him...
...When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.' John 13:3-5 and 12-17


This is a pretty well known story in the New Testament and it shows Jesus serving his disciples. In those times they would have worn open sandals and their feet would have been pretty disgusting when they arrived at their destination. It was the job of a Gentile slave to wash the feet, which suggests it was considered beneath even the Jewish slaves. By doing this, Jesus is showing an amazing act of humility.

Jesus always taught by example, he wants us to serve and be humble so he served and showed humility. It's not easy to serve, I know I find it difficult so this is definitely a challenge for me. Maybe this week you can look for ways to serve the people around you. By making a cup of tea for someone in your house perhaps, or even doing the washing up without being asked to.  See what a difference it can make, not just to those around you but to you too.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Faith


Faith is hard, it can be hard to understand, hard to hold onto when things get tough, but it is also essential in our relationship with God. Hebrews 11 is an entire chapter devoted to men and women of God that God used mightily because of their Faith.

Matthew 17:20 says "... Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." 

If you've ever seen a mustard seed you will know that it is absolutely tiny, yet Jesus is saying that even if we have just that amount of faith we can tell a mountain to move! I think that's pretty impressive! 


'In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.' 1 Peter 1:6-7


It's only by faith that we can see the promises that God has given us come to fulfilment. God uses our trails to test our faith, to strengthen it so that we may grow to be the men and women of God that he has designed us to be. So that we, like those in Hebrews 11, may be used mightily for the sake of the Kingdom. So that no matter what life throws at us we can say 'I have faith that He will bring me through.' When we are faithful we can see and experience the amazing things God can do in and through us.

Hebrews 11:1 gives a great definition of faith. 'Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.'


It doesn't give us much room for doubt does it?! Are you sure of what you hope for? Are you certain of what you don't see? No? Well a lot of the time neither am I. But prayer can make a huge difference. Pray that God increases your faith, pray that he will refine it during times of trial as it says in 1 Peter 1:7. Take that small mustard seed of faith and expect to see mountains move! 

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Pain

 The question why does God allow suffering? is something that comes up a lot. Countless Christian authors have written books on the subject, probably a lot more eloquently than I ever could. I've been challenged on this subject a lot and sat there often whilst I've been ill thinking 'why is this happening to me!'

This past week whilst I was doing my bible reading I came across John 9:3 which says '"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life."'

This verse is talking about the man that was born blind and it was the assumption in those days that if someone is born with a condition like that, it is as a result of sin. However Jesus here is disagreeing with that and says that he was born blind so that God can display his glory. This really struck a chord with me as so often over the past few months I have questioned why I got M.E and especially after I experienced the paralysis, but through it all God has demonstrated His healing in my life. I don't think my recovery from 3 months ago to now can be explained as anything other than miraculous! I have gone from being completely paralysed and bedbound to being able to walk round the house and even a little outside without crutches and only using crutches and my wheelchair for longer journeys or days out.

This doesn't mean to say that God wants us to suffer or he likes seeing us suffer, in fact it's just the opposite. Part of my bible reading this week was reading the story of Lazarus in John 11:1-44

John 11: 32-35 says 'When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. "Where have you laid him?" he asked. "Come and see, Lord," they replied. Jesus wept.'

At the end of this passage Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead, which is what he knew he was going to do all along, yet he was still moved by everyone's grief and he wept. This is what it said in my daily reading notes
'This is a profound moment in the gospel. It tells us that God cares about all our pain, despite his promises-of a future with, of resurrection, of a party in heaven where all tears will be wiped away. He can see the end from the beginning, but he is in the moment, now, with us. In our deepest times of despair, we are never alone. Jesus wept.'

I can't explain why suffering happens, only that when it does Jesus is there weeping with us, and I can't think of anything more comforting than that. To know that when we are struggling, when we are reaching the point where we can't go on, Jesus is there beside us, feeling our pain with us and not only that, but carrying us through the other side.

~The times when you have seen only one set of footprints, is when I carried you~

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Dare to be different!

Being a Christian in a Non-Christian environment isn't easy. At school, college, university, work we are often in the minority. It is then that we have to make the decision to either follow the crowd, which often means going against what we believe in, or to go against the flow and dare to be different.

I know when I was starting school, especially just after starting high school, I found it really difficult to know what to do or how to act. I wanted to fit in with my peers but often that meant doing things I didn't agree with. Most of my classmates knew I was a Christian and because of that some of them seemed to constantly watch me, waiting for me to slip up! I had people asking me to 'go on swear' or misbehave. I'd like to say I made it through high school shinning and making a stand for Christ but whilst I wasn't rebellious and didn't join in with what I knew was wrong, I don't think I ever made a true stand for my faith. I just tried my best to blend into the background.

Being a Christian, however, doesn't call us to blend into the background. If we look at the example of Jesus, he actively went against the norms of the times. A Pharisee would consider himself to be too righteous to mix with sinners but Jesus ate lunch with tax collectors and spoke to adulterous women. He broke the rules of the Sabbath by healing the sick and his followers weren't scholars but fishermen, a tax collector and a zealot.

Romans 12:2 says "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will." 

As Christian's we are called to be like Jesus and follow his example. As it says in the verse above, we shouldn't conform to the world, rather we need to stand out. We need to be the ones who go and make friends with the person in our class who is always left alone. We need to reach out the sick, the broken, the outcasts and the 'sinners' of our community. We need to stand up for what is right instead of blindly going along with what is wrong. We shouldn't be afraid to stand out for our faith, in fact we should be standing out for our faith. We have to dare to be different. This is my challenge, will you make it yours?

Friday, 26 August 2011

Reasons to be cheerful


So it's that time of week again =) I look forward to doing this, it's nice to reflect on the good things that happened in the last week =)

1. I went to church for the first time in about 5 months on Sunday
Because my M.E made me sound and light sensitive and I had trouble sitting up for long periods of time I wasn't able to go to church, but last Sunday I felt well enough and managed to sit through the entire service =)

2. We spent the weekend and Monday catching up with people we knew out in India
Frank and Beryl came to stay for the weekend and on Saturday morning we went to a place called Chennai Dosa which did authentic South Indian breakfast which was amazing! Also on Monday Bryce and Claire and their kids came who we also knew out in India so it was like a big reunion =) 


3. I got a fishy pedicure with Amy
It wasn't as weird as I expected and actually kinda fun and relaxing =) I had a great time with Amy and Becky too so definitely a good day! 

Pop over to see Clare at Seasider in the City and check out other people's reasons to be cheerful this week =) 

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Revoking the lies


I'm sure all of us, at least once or twice in our lives have had harmful words spoken over us. The problem with harmful words is that if we allow them to, they can take root and become truth to us. I've always thought the saying 'Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me' was utterly ridiculous. In my experience, words are equally as painful as being hurt physically, if not more so! Broken bones heal a lot quicker than a broken heart. Years ago when listening to a sermon I heard another version of this saying. 'Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will tear my heart out.' I think that one is a much more accurate description, and I'm sure that if any of you have been hurt by words, you'll agree.

A couple of years ago in church, I got a picture of a wrist that had been broken quite badly and hadn't healed right. This completely restricted the function of the wrist. The only way to fix it was to break the bone again and set it in the right place. In my life what this picture meant to me was that I had allowed the lies spoken over me to take root and become truth and because of that, I hadn't healed properly. But to heal me the only way was to revisit the lies (and so break the bone) and allow God to speak His truth over me instead. If anyone has broken a bone, they will know it's a pretty painful thing, and so is revisiting the lies spoken over us. But it's something that has to be done if we want to move on in our relationship with God, because by believing the lies, you are putting that before God's truth.

For me revoking the lies was a process, I sat down and wrote out a lie that I had believed as truth, then underneath it I wrote the truth. But that wasn't enough, I also found evidence from the bible to back up the truth. Sometimes there were so many verses from the bible to back up the truth, I ran out of room!

Believing the lies even once, allows Satan to get a foothold. It allows the lie to take place of the truth that God has told us in His word, and that can cause our relationship with God to falter.

Philippians 4:8 says 'Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy - meditate on these things'


If we allow ourselves to to focus on these things then we can recognise a lie so much easier. If we line ourselves up with God's truth then nothing anyone says to us should be able to take root. When our focus is on God, His truth and His truth only should be able to take root in our hearts.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Reasons to be cheerful


I'm very excited to be joining in with this again! It's something I really missed doing over the past couple of months!

1. I got out of hospital on Saturday!
After 10 weeks and 6 days (not that I was counting or anything!) I finally got out of hospital! But not only that but I have more energy than I did before I went into hospital. Whilst my M.E is still a problem it's not completely dictating my life anymore!

2. I went to Grandma's house on Sunday
It was my Grandma's 74th birthday on Monday so the whole family went over and enjoyed an afternoon of games, laughter and lots of food! I think the funniest moment was trying to teach my Granddad how to play the australian version of 'Hello Harry', a game that my sister learnt at camp.


3. I went shopping on Wednesday
Now this doesn't seem like much but I don't remember the last time I was well enough to go shopping! I just felt like a normal 20 year old going shopping with a friend, and even the fact that I was in a wheelchair didn't bother me this time!

There are so many things I've been thankful for over the past week, these are just a few! Pop over to Glass Half Full's blog to find out what other peoples reasons to be cheerful were this week


Saturday, 30 July 2011

The Pressure Cooker is on

We all go through hard times in our lives but what is your reaction when the heat is turned up? It's the time when the front we put on is stripped away and what is most important to us is exposed. I know that when the heat is turned up in my life, that which is exposed isn't always pretty. I've already said in a previous blog that I'm someone who likes to be in control and when that control is taken away from me I tend to get very stressed out, upset and frustrated. Not particularly attractive characteristics! The thing is, if I totally trusted in God and was completely dependent on him then I should be able to trust that God is the one in complete control. 

I was chatting to my Dad last night and he said that how you react to a situation reflects who you are. Now I don't know about you but I definitely don't want stressed out, upset and frustrated to reflect who I am, which means something has to change. I can say I trust God completely until I'm blue in the face but until my reaction and my actions reflect that, my words are pretty hollow. 

"May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer."
Psalm 19:14

I can honestly say that when the heat is turned up the first thing that goes through my mind, more often than not, is not going to be something that is pleasing in God's sight. Later when I feel guilty about it I very often allow myself to think the words 'but I'm only human', which is just a poor attempt to justify my reaction. 

"I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength."
Philippians 4:10-13

Paul, the writer of Philipians, is definitely someone who could justifiably have my stressed out, upset, frustrated reaction with some of the circumstances he had to endure. After all, he was 'only human'! Instead he is the one who has 'learned to be content whatever the circumstances'! Paul didn't learn how to do this through his own strength but God's (Phil 4:13). When we learn to lean on God's strength and not our own then we can learn to be content whatever the circumstances.

One of my favourite quotes is 'It's not our circumstances that shape our destiny, it's our response to them that shapes our destiny'. Paul is someone who lived this out. His response towards his circumstance was contentment and that was what shaped his destiny. 

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Be Strong and Courageous

I have to admit, I've been struggling with being in hospital. There is something depressing about being in hospital for a month. When you here phrases such as, 'the physio's have discharged you because you weren't making enough progress', you feel as though they are saying you haven't tried hard enough. Or when they say, 'we may need to sleep you out if someone needs this bed more,' you feel like you're a waste of space and time. I know that's not what they mean, medically they can't do anything for me, but it still knocks you.

But I remembered this verse this evening, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go", Joshua 1:19.

This was my baptism verse and I've had it memorised for 9 years, but there were two things that struck me when I looked at this verse again.

The first is, "Have I not commanded you?" God doesn't ask us to be strong and courageous, he commands us! But he doesn't command us and then leave us to it, he wants us to lean on him for it.


Isaiah 40:29-31 says "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."


We need to hope in the Lord for our strength, not in ourselves. God understands that we are human, that our own strength isn't enough to sustain us but he does expect us to lean on Him. Not only when things get tough but all the time!

The other part of Joshua 1:9 that really struck me was "do not be discouraged". Now I can't count the number of times I've been discouraged over the past 4 weeks! I was discouraged when I couldn't move at all that first week. I was discouraged when my discharged date was moved over and over again and I've been discouraged many times since. But I think there was definitely a reason that this verse came to mind tonight.

I will honestly admit that I haven't relied on God 100% whilst I've been in hospital and that needs to change. The BEST thing I can do is rely on God. I know that there are times that I'll struggle in the future, but I know that in that situation I can be strong and courageous because I can depend on the God who made me, and loves me and will give me the strength to do anything he asks of me. 

Saturday, 28 May 2011

God given desires

It's not a secret that I'm ill. I have Myalgic Encephalopathy or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome of which there are 250,000 other sufferers in the UK. It's an illness that has taken me completely out of my comfort zone and dumped me in a sea of emotions and pain that I didn't know existed, in a world I can't control.

Anyone who knows me, knows I like to plan. They also know I like to be in control of a situation. I had my five year plan so to speak, when I started university. I was going to train as a Nurse for 3 years, work for a year and then do the 18 month bridging course to Midwifery. Except I got ill in January 2010 with glandular fever, then got admitted into hospital again in March and then again in September. By the time I got out of hospital in September my health was on a downward spiral to where I am now, housebound and wheelchair dependent.

But you know what, I know that God still has a plan. That even on my worst days (and today has been pretty bad) when I'm feeling low and wondering whether I'll be stuck like this forever, I know that I can still count on God. My five year plan was something that I'd cooked up, I hadn't really prayed over it and I was confident that I could do it in my own strength. Having M.E is probably God saying 'hold on a second, what about my plan?!'

Psalm 37:4 says "Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart."

It's important to note the differences between our own desires and God given desires. We need to make sure that they match up with the bible and keep in line with what we know the character of God to be.

I was thinking about what my God given desires were the other day. Was it just to get better and be able to go back to my course? Or was that my own desire (don't get me wrong I don't believe that God wants me to be ill, just that everything happens in his perfect timing). I was flicking through my notebook and I read something which I'd written about a year ago when I was doing bible study with my friend Hannah.

I wrote this "My desire is to have a home that is a safe haven for not just my family but for anyone who wants it. A home where the door is always open and the kettle is always on." And underneath I'd written 1 Peter 4:8-11

Now I had to look this up again but it says "Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen."

I'd like to think of myself as a fairly sociable person, I'm at my best when I'm surrounded by my groups of friends. I also love to cook or bake and, aside for one or two disasters in the kitchen, I think I'm fairly good at it! This is something I've prayed over quite a lot and discussed with a couple of friends. I wanted to make sure that this was from God not me.

This is also something I won't be able to do in my current condition, I can't even wash my own hair let alone cook a meal. Yet rather than being disheartened this makes me excited about the future. If this is definitely from God, he's gonna have to give me a lot more energy to do it!

I might not be able to achieve my five year plan anymore. But I'm no longer worried about that. What my illness has taught me is that dependency on God is SO important. I've been able to have quiet times now that I never would have had before, probably even if I'd had the time. And because of all this, my relationship with God has grown deeper and stronger and I'm able to consider what HIS desires are instead of my own. I used to look at Psalm 37:4 and interpret it as, he will give me MY desires. When actually it's more like this; he will give me the desires of my heart, because my relationship with God is such that my heart is a reflection of his heart.

My friend Andrea has a great quote on her skype which sums it up pretty well "God's dreams for us reflect His heart. If we are not maturing in sync with his heart, how would we distinguish others-centred dreams from self-centred dreams"

I want my heart to be a reflection of God's heart, and my life to be a reflection of the life that Jesus led on earth. I want my desires to be God's desires and if it takes being ill for that to happen, then so be it =)

Friday, 27 May 2011

Pass It On: Save The Children



If you only take part in one blog meme this year – let this be it. If you don’t blog then please please read this post and then sign the petition linked later on anyway – every single name counts and YOU could make the difference between life and death for children out in developing countries and it won’t cost you anything other than a couple of minutes.

Back in January Save The Children launched their ‘Born To’ campaign to raise awareness that no child should be born to die.

They released the horrifying statistic that 8 million children under the age of 5 die every year from treatable or preventable illness like pneumonia and diarrhoea. 8 million – that’s an almost unimaginable number and it scares me.

On June 13th David Cameron will be hosting a significant conference in London attended by world leaders. This meeting marks the chance to ensure the funding shortfall for vaccinations (4.7 billion) is met by all the donor countries. That sounds a lot but it is easily achievable, even in the current economic climate. It will just take some commitment from those in power and it has the potential to save those millions of lives.

Please SIGN THE PETITION which Save The Children will present at this global vaccine summit – every name counts.

Save the Children are taking three bloggers/vloggers to Mozambique to follow the journey of a vaccine from the coldstore in the city right down to a rural community. They will write, make films and tweet about their experiences, the children and families they meet and the challenges of “cold” vaccinations in hot countries.

The bloggers are: Lindsay Atkin (@Liliesarelike), Chris Mosler (@christinemosler) and Tracey Cheetham (@tchee). You’ll be able to follow all of their journey on Twitter using the hashtag #passiton, as well as through exciting content on other social media channels.

As for us Bloggers – we’re spreading the word with this meme. Children in this country are lucky, they are warm and well fed, they get their inoculations free of charge  and if they get sick we can just take the to the nearest doctor or hospital and know they will get treated.

What better way to raise awareness for Save The Children than by including our own children (or in my case the children that I live with)? So our challenge is to get our little ones to draw a self-portait of themselves either of now or how they think they will be in the future.
 Abigail's picture :)


Now I’m going to #passiton to some fellow bloggers and if you aren’t tagged but want to do it – go ahead. The more people signed up the better!! Once you do your post pop over HERE and link up your post so we can all share and see. Also, if you don’t have a Small of your own why not borrow one?! Or see if you can dig out an old picture you drew when you were younger, or draw a new one. And if you don’t blog? Post a picture on Facebook with a link to the petition or Tweet it if you’re on Twitter. Spread the word!

With Jesus I Am The Best Me I Can Be
Brightside
But you don't look ill

Just want to make it clear, I don't have any children! I just got one of the children I live with to draw it for me =)

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Reasons to be cheerful 1, 2, 3...


So it's that time again! I can't believe an entire week has just flown by. I've now been 20 for a week! This week has been quite a difficult week as my health has been particularly bad and I've had to spend a lot of time in bed. But there are still plenty of reasons to be cheerful!


1. I had a fabulous birthday BBQ
10 of my friends came over on Saturday for a BBQ and I had such a lovely time. I felt like I was a student again and 'normal' instead of 'person with M.E'

2. I managed to go to Wednesday Group
Wednesday Group is our bible study group and it was so lovely to chat and fellowship with people. It's helpful too as its the only bit of bible input I get at the mo (aside from my own study) as I can't make it to church

3. I got post!
The past couple of days I have had lots of lovely parcels and letters :) From my guardian Ruth, my grandma and some lovely AYMErs :)


Pop over to Mummy From The Heart's blog to see what other people's Reasons To Be Cheerful are =)

As an aside, reading Carole's blog reminded me that we are supposed to recommend blogs this week and I have a couple that I really enjoy reading.

The first is With Jesus I Am The Best Me I Can Be which is my boyfriend's blog and is a very honest and personal blog about his walk with God.

The second is my lovely friend Carole's blog over at Carole Finds Her Wings. I started reading her blog long before I started blogging. I love reading about the exploits of Tori and Arthur and how she is doing as a Mummy and a budding author.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Spending time with God

I've been a Christian for more than half my life. Until recently I had rarely missed a Sunday at church (and even now I only miss it because I can't physically get there) yet I still go through the same struggle of finding time to spend with God pretty much everyday. Now that in itself sounds rediculous to my own ears. I'm housebound, sometimes bedbound, the most I do in a day is make some cards or do a bit of knitting and yet giving a portion of my time to spending time with God is still difficult!

God loves to hear our voice, he longs for us to spend time with him, the same way my Dad enjoys spending time with me. Every morning I do take the time to spend some time with God, I benefit from it. I enjoy getting down on my knees and praying to God. I love it when I find a bible verse that has significant meaning to me. God doesn't ask us to spend time with him for his own benefit but for ours.


Philippians 4:6-7 says "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."


Spending time with God will give us peace, it will calm our fears and wipe away our anxieties when we place them before him. It is through spending time in his presence that he is able to mold us into the men and women he desires us to become.


Luke 10:38-42 says "As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”


God is after our hearts not the work that we do for him. He would rather we sat for a few minutes just talking to him than spending the whole day doing work in his name. So next time you have a spare few minutes, spend some time praying and reading your bible and see how it changes the outlook of your day.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Reasons to be cheerful 1, 2, 3...


Well I missed last weeks coz of the problems with blogger but I'm back and blogging this weeks reasons to be cheerful!


1. I was made a fabulous birthday cake
Susie is the eldest daughter of the family I live with and she and her friends made me an amazing sweet-covered birthday cake! It was a complete surprise and it made my day!


2. I've had so many messages and cards and presents
I've been so touched by how many people posted on facebook or sent me a card or a gift. People from my church, people from AYME, friends and family it's so amazing!

3. My boyfriend has come to stay for two nights =)
We live 3 and a half hours away from each other so we don't get to see each other very often, so this is a lovely time just to spend time together =)

Pop over to Mummy From The Heart's blog and check out everyone elses reasons to be cheerful this week :)

God doesn't make junk

I got the idea for this blog from my friend's blog With Jesus I Am The Best Me I Can Be. Last week he posted a video by the skit guys and it was the line 'God doesn't make junk' that struck me the most.

'God doesn't make junk!' I found myself nodding along until I realised that for so long I believed (and probably a part of me still does) that I was junk. That of course God doesn't make junk, but he made an exception to the rule with me. I bought into the lie that who I was and how I looked just didn't make the grade.

Genesis 1:27 says "So God created mankind in his own image. in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them."

God says he created us in his own image! If we were created in the image of the God of the universe that makes us pretty incredible beings, doesn't it? People used to say to me that God doesn't make mistakes and if I hated myself then I was saying that God made a mistake. It used to make me really angry to hear this because I knew in my heart that what I was saying to myself was hurting God. I knew that the biggest thing that was stopping me from going deeper into a relationship with him was the hatred I had for myself. Because whilst I still believed that I was fat, ugly, stupid and not worth very much at all, I was pretty much calling God a liar!

Psalm 139:14 say "I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

I have this verse tattooed on my leg in Spanish. Everyone who has read it has asked me 'why spanish?' but no one has ever asked me 'why that verse?'. And I think that is a much more important question. I desperately needed the reminder that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I needed it with me at all times in a place where I wouldn't lose it. And even with it there, I still forget. I sit in front of the mirror not liking what I see in front of me.

I want to say that you ARE fearfully and wonderfully made! That each and everyone of you is precious in his sight, because God does NOT make junk! If you take away nothing else from my blogs, please take away this... You are beautiful/handsome, amazing, precious individuals because you were made in the image of the God of the universe and he does not make junk.

I just wanted to add, this was a really hard blog for me to write as it meant dealing with my own self-esteem issues. It's still something I struggle with but I know that I need to believe that I'm beautiful because I don't want to hurt my creator, who loves me unconditionally just the way I am.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Mountain Mover

When I was in India our youth group was called Moun'ain movers, which I believe is an americanism for mountain movers! Anyway this youth group was full of amazing people but obviously not one of us was strong enough to move a mountain physically, we just believed what it says in Matthew 17:20. "Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

God's been speaking to me a lot about mountains recently, it started a couple of months ago and then last Wednesday when Rachel came round to do a bible study, mountains really seemed to be the theme. After we'd done the study I heard people talking about mountains, I saw them in pictures but it wasn't until later that I really understood what God was saying.
I'm reading Bill Hybels book 'Too busy not to pray' at the moment, I probably read a chapter a night as my concentration isn't that great and Thursday nights chapter was all about mountains.

An extract from the chapter reads "How do you pray a prayer so filled with faith that it can move a mountain? By shifting your focus from the size of your mountain to the sufficiency of the mountain mover and then stepping forward in obedience"

When we face problems we tend to look at them and see the vastness of them and put our head in our hands in despair. All too often we will try and work it out for ourselves, we will push and strain and try to do whatever it takes to get that mountain out of the way. In reality the idea of our human trying to push a mounain out of the way is laughable, yet we still try it with the mountains in our lives!  I'll hold my hands up and say that I still do that, even after being a Christian for so many years. What God wants us to do is look to him, because when we stop focusing on the mountain in our life, we realise that we have our mountain mover standing right there in front of us. Our God is bigger than any mountain in our lives He's bigger than our health troubles, bigger than our financial troubles and bigger than our job situation!

Saturday, 14 May 2011

M.E awareness week - Day 7

So today is the last day of M.E awareness week, and the last day I post blogs all about M.E I promise! I really hope you've learnt something about M.E this week and it starts to break down the stigma that's attached to this illness. We aren't just a little bit tired, this is a very real, very painful neurological illness. Just wanted to leave you with a link to the spoon theory which is written by Christine Miserandino to explain in an easy to understand way, what it's like living with a chronic illness =)

Thursday, 12 May 2011

M.E awareness week - Day 5

So today is the official international M.E awareness day =)

I wrote this poem the other day in about 5 minutes (as you can probably tell!) I wanted to try to explain what Strength is to M.E sufferers.

Struggling but
Trusting
Raw but
Engaging and
Never complaining
Guiding each other
Through good times and bad
             somtimes
Hope is all that we have

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

M.E awareness week - Day 4

I realise I said I was going to do a blog a day for M.E awareness week but I've been really poorly the past two days so that's not been possible. I wanted to do something more personal today but as I'm already exhausted from typing I'm going to upload some videos done by the amazing Chlay who is also very poorly but has done a charity single which is available to buy on www.amazon.com and itunes I think for just 79p. She's also doing other amazing things for M.E awareness week that I shall leave the videos to explain it to you.




http://www.myspace.com/chlaysmusic you can hear the full version of Chlay's charity single here.

Monday, 9 May 2011

M.E awareness week - Day 2


Today I thought I'd write about how M.E affects me personally. It's quite a foggy day today so please ignore any mistakes!!

I'm housebound and wheelchair dependent. That doesn't mean I can't walk at all but I can only walk a few metres in extreme pain and usually only by hanging onto furniture. There are odd days that I can go out but will have payback for at least the next couple of days.

Other symptoms I have are:
* Extreme fatigue and exhaustion
* Aches and pains in my muscles and joints (I usually experience about 5 different types of pain)
* Headaches
* Muscle spasms
* Sore throats and swollen glands (I often have reoccurring tonsillitis)
* Nausea and dizziness, sometimes collapsing from being so dizzy
* Sleep disturbances (I take sleeping tablets to help me sleep through the night)
* Light sensitivity (I wear sunglasses from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed)
* Noise sensitivity (I have to wear earplugs whenever I leave the house)
* Brain fog (trouble forming sentences, difficulty concentrating, sometimes forgetting entire conversations)


This is what I experience everyday, some days are worse than others. The problem with M.E is that we don't look ill, you can see us and not see what is going on inside. It's hard to make people understand what it's like and that's what I want to do throughout this week.

Thanks for reading =)

two website that will give more info on M.E are: www.ayme.org.uk and www.afme.org.uk

Sunday, 8 May 2011

M.E awareness week - Day 1


Today is the first day of M.E awareness week 2011 and I want to try and do a post per day (health permitting) to give people an insight into what it's like to live with M.E.

I'm going to post a couple of videos today made by someone who had M.E, as I think this explains it better than I ever could. Thanks for watching!


Saturday, 7 May 2011

Facing fears

I went out for a walk with my grandparents this afternoon. My grandpa got Dexter (my wheelchair) out and we prepared to go. I was really excited, I'm rarely well enough to go out. We got out on the road and I started to panic. The noise of the traffic was too loud and I'd left my ear plugs at home, there were too many cars, too many people. I got really worked up until my grandpa told me we should give up and go home. I knew that if I turned back I wouldnt go out again for a really long time, even if I was healthy enough. So we kept going. We stopped at a quiet cafe for a cup of tea before turning back, and I sat praying that God would take away my fear. The ride back was easier, it was still noisy and busy but I wasn't so scared, I was visibly more relaxed.

I'm sure the next time I go out I will have to tackle the same fears, but I know that I can face anything with Christ.

Philippians 4:13 says "For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength."

1 John 4:18a says "Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear."

God helps me through the little things like taking away my fear about leaving the house, or bigger things like dealing with this illness and how it's affected my life. Most of all I can stand under the assurance that God loves me unconditionally without reservation and through that I know I don't have to be afraid of anything.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Dear So and So


Dear M.E

Can you go away now? It's been 16months, surely that's long enough!

Sincerely,
Tired and hurting sufferer

.............................................

Dear Gardeners

I don't appreciate being woken up to the noise of a loud lawnmower, especially as it means I have a headache for the rest of the day.

Grumpy and headachey quiet lover

.............................................

Dear Nanna,

Thank you for washing and drying my hair. I really appreciate it!

Love, Nice and clean granddaughter =)

.............................................

Dear people-that-send me-post,

Thank you for taking the time to write to me. It makes me smiley =)

Love, a very happy Jess

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Reasons To Be Cheerful 1, 2, 3...

Ok so this is the first time I've linked up to someone else's blog so you'll have to bare with me!


1. My Dad arrived from India today =) 
the first time I've seen him in 8 months =D


2. I saw my beautiful, fabulous best friend Ally today!
First time I've seen her in about 10 months. We had a lovely catch up and a giggle and it was lovely to see her!


3. I got a card in the post from the lovely Lizzy
Just what I needed on a bad day, especially after my awful trip to the doctors.

Pop over to Mummy from the heart's blog to check out other people's reasons to be cheerful this week

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

My M.E

It's M.E awareness week from the 8th to the 14th of May. The Association of Young People with ME's theme is 'Missing moments, hidden lives'. So many people with ME are bedbound or housebound and if they are able to get out, they have a very restricted social life.

This is a poem I wrote about how M.E has affected my life:

Running, jumping, laughing, skipping
Fields, playgrounds, icecream dripping
1o clock, 2o clock, 3o clock, 4
What time I got in mattered no more
Uni, family, friends and work
Essays, portfolios, what a nerd!

Walking, hobbling, a crutch or two
Fatigue, spasms, crawling to the loo
A foggy cloud hanging over my head
Those darkest moments I wish I were dead
Sitting, standing, it all feels the same
Each waking moment consumed with pain
Diary filled with doctors and clinics
Who see 'M.E' and think we're all dimwits

My world has shrunk from what it was
But I wouldnt change it because...
I've made so many amazing friends
And this is far from where it all ends....   

Me in my wheelchair on a rare occasion I get outside =)

The little things

It's the little things in life that brighten your day isn't it


Things like having clean hair after my Nan washed and dried it for me this morning


or receiving a card from a friend.


A text from someone I care about


or just a smile from a stranger instead of a stare when I'm out in my wheelchair.


It's the little things in life that make you thankful for being alive which is so important when, if like me, you are stuck inside day after day.

So take some time to appreciate the little things in life =)

Monday, 2 May 2011

Hope

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful" Hebrews 10:23

I haven't been able to get this verse out of my head for the past few days. I memorised it a while ago when I started getting sick and now I'm sicker than I've ever been it's a verse I need to cling onto.
I struggle with the concept of hope, I have days when I'm so sick I don't have any hope of getting better and so hope becomes foreign to me. The thing is, I believe 100% that God has a promise for me that can't be fulfilled whilst I'm sick. I also believe 100% that God is faithful. And it's from these two things that I can draw hope from because if I believe that, then I don't have any reason to think that this sickness is forever.

God asks us to hold unswervingly to that hope, he knows that we are going to have good and bad days but he want us to stand in the midst of our trials and say that we have hope that God is going to bring us through this. So if you're sick or broken, if you are struggling or hurting then let me tell you this, you can have hope in God because he is faithful and he will fulfil the promise that he's given you.

I just want to add one thing, being sick has made me realise how temporary life is. I remember a pastor telling a story of a 17 year old boy who was paralysed from the neck down and was asked whether he was angry with God for allowing this to happen. And his 17 year old boy said 'No, coz God's got eternity to make it up to me.' Whatever we are going through is temporary, and whether it gets better in this life or not we have eternity with Christ.. This isn't the end, in fact it's only the beginning!