Wednesday, 5 December 2012


I've always been someone who thought my testimony was really dull and boring. I don't have one of those big defining moments where I surrendered my life to Christ and there was a miraculous transformation. I gave my life to God when I was 6 or 7 and I've never really known any different.

I guess what I didn't realise is that testimony isn't just the story of how you gave your life to God, it doesn't end there, in fact it's only the beginning. My testimony is about the ups and the downs, how God has brought me through the tough times and rejoiced with me in the good times. It's about how I can stumble through the valleys and still come out praising God simply because He is.
My testimony is about the times when I've walked closely with God and about the times when, like now, I feel like the silence is deafening and I struggle to find God in the hard places.

Most of all I've realised my testimony is important. There are things that I've been through and wrestled with that I can talk to others about. It's about encouragement and honesty. It's about bringing people to a place where they can meet Jesus and ultimately it's about giving all glory to God who is able.

In John chapter 4 Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at the well and tells her that he knows she has had 5 husbands and that she is currently living with a man who is not her husband.
'So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, "Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?" They went out of the town and were coming to him... Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, "He told me all that I ever did."
John 4:28-30, 39

The woman's testimony wasn't extravagant, it was simple but powerful. It brought them to a place where they could meet Jesus.

I think that's the point, our testimony doesn't have to have the wow factor and it doesn't have to look like we have it all together. God uses the messy bits, the pieces of us we don't think will ever be put back together, he uses our hurt, our pain, our sin. Our testimony isn't about us at all but about God. Like the woman by the well it's about bringing people to a place where they could meet with Jesus and letting Him do the rest.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

The question I dread...

There is a question that I’ve come to dread. It’s a perfectly innocent question and I’m sure the asker doesn’t realise the whole host of emotions it evokes within me. The question is simple, mundane, something you ask when you don’t know someone but are taking an interest in their lives. The question is ‘What is it you do?’ I can see you all thinking that I’m a little bit weird for dreading that question, except for me the answer isn’t that I have a great job, or I’m studying the course at university that I’ve always wanted to 
do like most people my age are. For me the answer is ‘nothing’. You see because of my health condition I’m currently too ill to study, or work, or sometimes wash my own hair or get out of bed. The fact that I'm on disability benefits and currently unable to be a fully participating member of society fills me with shame and sometimes fear and hurt, I dread having to explain myself. I hate having to explain that all I’m currently doing is ‘getting better’ or at least praying that I will.

As a Christian I know that God has a plan for my life. I also know that this is part of His plan. Not that He inflicted it upon me, because despite some people’s opinions I don’t believe that God inflicts suffering, but that He is using it to shape me and mould me into the woman He has designed me to be. I know that I shouldn’t feel ashamed or fearful about something that is out of my control, if people want to judge me then that’s their choice, but I still haven’t quite learnt not to let it hurt me when they do.
There are days when I just want to yell at my 18 year old self to rest (and rest isn’t the only thing I’d yell given the choice!). 

I got glandular fever when I was 18, just three months after I started my nursing training and I was very sick. I’d always been really good at picking up whatever was going, (I think I should win an award for the number of chest infections I had whilst I was in India!) but a 10 day mad rush trip to India to visit my family at Christmas after a busy first term at uni and a chest infection that I got when I was out there, meant I was unable to fight off the glandular fever when it started its attack. I contracted a secondary bacterial infection and ended up in hospital on IV antibiotics. When I got discharged back to my grandparent’s care I was ordered to rest for several weeks but this didn’t sit well with me. I was worried about all the absences I was clocking up at uni and the placement that I would have to make up. I was worried about being kicked off the course and it was my worry that led to me going back as soon as I could physically cope with walking around. Had I sat tight and rested for as long as it took to get well again, I probably would be graduating with my class in a few weeks. However I can’t let myself think like that very often because it’s no use regretting actions in the past, all it does is hold us there and not give us a chance to move forward.

It says in Matthew 6 “Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” (From the MSG, approximately vs 33-34)

I’ve read and quoted that passage time and time again, in many different versions but I don’t think I’ve ever read it in this version before and today it speaks to me more poignantly than it has done in the past. It’s something I wish I’d learnt at 18, it’s something I still need to learn today. I’m still inclined to worry about missing out, not just on going out with friends which happens frequently, but on getting a degree and a good job, on finding a husband and having a family. I watch people getting on with their lives; graduating uni, getting jobs, getting married and I sometimes feel like my life is on hold. What I forget is that my life hasn’t stopped. I forget that having a degree, or a job or a family doesn’t define who you are and not having those things doesn’t define who I am. Sometimes I’m so focused on what isn’t happening in my life that I miss what is. Verse 34 says “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” (emphasis mine)

By wallowing in self-pity, or wishing the situation was different, I am missing what God is doing in my life and I am limiting what He can do through the situation I’m in. In the past two and a half years I may not have been able to finish my nursing degree or get a job, but I’ve seen God’s faithfulness countless times. I’ve watched God provide for me when I had nothing and never once have I had to dip into my overdraft. I’ve seen Him pour out His grace and mercy and love into my life over and over. I know that He is healing me.  I know that He’s carried me through the hardest parts and never once have I felt like He’s left me to handle it on my own. I know that I will come through the other side of this illness and that my faith will be stronger for it and I will, I hope, be a little more like the woman God has designed me to be because I focused on what He is doing in my life right now.  So you know what, even if I could tell my 18 year old self to rest, I don’t think I would because I would have missed the amazing stuff God has done since then and all that He has taught me through it.

Note: Sorry it's been such a long time since my last post, with everything that has been going on I haven't been able to manage one :) Hopefully this will be the first of many again! 

Saturday, 12 May 2012

ME Awareness week 2012

It's that time of year again, when I spam your facebook or twitter news feed with stuff about ME and you either just roll your eyes and ignore it, or read what I've put and I really hope you read what I put. ME is a serious and debilitating condition that affects 250,000 people in the UK alone. It changes lives and family dynamics, it leaves people unable to work, housebound, bedbound sometimes even paralysed.

My friend Kate described it in this way
"Imagine a really bad hangover, then having to run a marathon, then coming down with the flu, all at the same time. On top of that, imagine someone is prodding needles into you constantly, spinning you around on a chair so you are extremely dizzy and nauseous and shining a bright torch in your eye so that light hurts. Then also, imagine everyone has a speaker phone, so even a whisper seems like shouting. Imagine spraining every muscle in your body and having to carry someone equivalent to your own weight who is clinging on to your legs all the time. Imagine having muscle spasms almost constantly uncontrollably which feels like torture as its so painful and tiring. Imagine someone speaking a foreign unknown language to you, and you have to concentrate REALLY hard to try work out what they're saying, then you forget it. Imagine having to sit in an ice bath for a long time, freezing cold, all the time. If you think you can't get any more tired, imagine having panic attacks on top of that, & really bad anxiety which literally drains any energy you've got left. Then, imagine staying like this, not knowing if/when you're going to get better, having to deal with this HUGE change of lifestyle. Imagine how tough and heartbreaking this illness can be. Imagine a lot of your support mechanisms breaking down, some friends move on. Imagine having to deal with this on a day to day basis, not knowing how you are even going to be hour by hour. And worse of all, imagine being told 'ME isn't real' and 'it's all in your head'. Even by medical processionals. This is what I want to change. I can't control my ME, the causes, the cure, but what everyone together CAN change is its understanding."

I think this is an amazing way of describing how ME feels, although no one suffers in quite the same way. For me anxiety isn't really a problem but I think the rest pretty much explains how it feels for me, especially on bad days and I'm no where near as bad as Kate.

I'm fortunate, I am well enough to at least try and go back to uni but 3 short days on placement means I spend the rest of the week in bed or on the sofa dosed up on strong painkillers, usually with spasming limbs, extreme pain, weak muscles and a myriad of other symptoms. When I am on placement I have to be constantly finding ways of sitting down when talking to patients, taking 5minute rests when its quiet and doing my best to not overdo it which is pretty much impossible.

But I didn't want this post to be all negative, this time last year I was housebound. I celebrated my 20th birthday in the back garden with a few friends and relapsed so badly afterwards that I was hospitalised. This year I'm going to the zoo! That may not sound like much to most people, especially when you combine it with being in a wheelchair but it's something I couldn't have even considered doing last year and I'm grateful that I'm well enough. I'm grateful that I don't have to wear sunglasses every waking hour; that I can cope without needing to wear ear plug to watch TV or have a conversation; that I can sit up for longer than 30minutes without my back going into spasm. All things that I couldn't do this time last year! 

This year a DVD called Voices of the Shadows was released to make people aware of what it is like for people living with, and dying from, severe ME. You can buy a copy of the DVD here. This is the trailer for it:

Please make yourself aware of ME. Understand that it's not something to be taken lightly and it's certainly not all in our heads because every ME sufferer I know, myself included, would do anything not to feel this way.

Below are a list of blogs written by various friends of mine. Please check them out :) 

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Wilderness Mentality

I'm going to fess up straight away and say that this isn't a term that I've coined myself, I read it in my bible reading devotions by Joyce Meyer, and I'm willing to bet it wasn't original to her either!

This subject has come up over and over again over the past 3 or 4 weeks (maybe longer!) so I'm getting the feeling that this is just as much for me as it is for me to share with you!

It really struck a chord with me when I read it though 'wilderness mentality'. I'm currently going through Exodus as part of a one year bible plan and it amazes me that a journey that should have taken 11 days took 40 years because the Israelites chose to believe someone's report instead of the promise that God had given them! Ultimately they weren't dreaming big enough, all they could see was the size of the problem instead of seeing the size of their God! It may seem crazy to me or you that the Israelites ended up spending 40 years in the desert but when we think about it how many of us have faced the same trials or situations or 'mountains' again and again because all we could see was the mountain and not who God is?

1 Peter 1:6-7 says this 'So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honour on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.' 

God uses the trials in our lives to test our faith and refine it and strengthen it, if we give up then far from our faith being strengthened we take a big step back in our relationship with God. I've often found that if I don't learn something the first time round, a little while later God will gently remind me of what He is saying again, often by using a new trial or situation.

This past year has probably been the toughest year of my life but through it all I've learnt so much more about trusting God and giving Him control over my life. These aren't new lessons for me but it took something as serious as my illness for me to learn it with a new depth of understanding of what it means to really hand it over to God and I would like to say that my faith has really grown through it.

The best thing is God is a faithful God, a loving God and a patient God. This is so clearly demonstrated throughout Exodus and He has so clearly demonstrated this in my own life too. God loves me too much to leave me where I am and even though it means going through trials, I think this is a great thing!

I think there are 2 things certain in life: 1) there will be trials. I wish I could promise you otherwise but being a Christian definitely doesn't guarantee a trial free life! 2) God WILL faithfully bring us through them.

So back to the Wilderness Mentality... What is it in your life that is keeping you in the desert? Maybe it's a dream you had once that now seems impossible, or a promise God gave you that you've waited for years for but never seen fulfilled. Maybe it's the situation you are going through that seems just so big and overwhelming that you think you'll never get through it.

I think the key to getting out of the desert and into the promised land is to go back and look at the Israelites.They had a promise given to them by God and they had a report given to them by the people sent to have a look at the land. Instead of remembering God's promise they listened to the report and panicked. To walk out of the desert and into the promised land we need to remember who God is, remember that He is bigger than anything we can ever face. By focusing on Him our perspective changes, our fears are calmed and we can realise that the impossible is made possible through Him!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Great News!

Ok so I don't normally do blogs that just focus on what's going on in my life but this was too exciting to keep to myself!

As you will already know if you read my blog, I have M.E and have done for just over 2 years. As a result of that the past two years have been really tough. I had to give up doing my nursing degree in November 2010 because I just wasn't well enough to cope with it, which was a really horrible decision at the time. Anyway the title of this post is Great News so I won't bore you with the whole sad story! :)

So here it is... the great news... On Wednesday I went for a meeting with Occupational Health to see if I could be cleared to go back to university part time to try and complete my nursing degree and they said YES! So I'm now allowed to go back to uni two days a week (pending them finding a suitable placement for me)! I've had to fight pretty hard to get to this point, both against my illness and with uni to get the help I need to be able to manage but it will all be totally worth it if I manage to finish my degree and qualify as a nurse! It's going to be a long two years and I hope I manage it but it's definitely a big step in the right direction! So in three weeks I will once again be a student nurse! :D
I just have to completely give God all the credit because without Him I wouldn't be where I am now! :)

Thursday, 16 February 2012

If we are the body...

The first verse of this song says "It's crowded in worship today, as she slips in trying to fade into the faces, the girls teasing laughter is carrying farther than they know"

I don't know if you have ever been in that situation, either as the person trying to fade into the background or the person teasing and laughing at them or whispering to the person next to you 'what's she doing here? Do you know what she did?'. It just amazes me that people don't think the church is a place for people who've made mistakes, for the broken, for the 'sinners' because that's exactly why Jesus came. Not for the people who had got it all sussed but for those who were struggling! People exactly like you and me!

Despite what we would like people to think, none of us have got it sussed! All of us make mistakes and all of us sin, sometimes we mess up pretty bad. Wouldn't it be awful if someone then turned round to us and said "sorry, I saw that sin that you did last night, you are no longer welcome in church"! But unfortunately that is what some people experience. Is it any wonder then, that people see the church as hypocritical?

In his book 'What's So Amazing About Grace?' Philip Yancey tells this story:
'A prostitute came to me in wretched straits, homeless, sick, unable to buy food for her two-year-old daughter. Through sobs and tears, she told me she had been renting out her daughter - two years old!-to men interested in kinky sex. She made more renting out her daughter for an hour than she could earn on her own in a night. She had to do it, she said, to support her own drug habit. I could hardly bear hearing her sordid story. For one thing, it made me legally liable - I'm required to report cases of child abuse. I had no idea what to say to this woman.
At last I asked if she had ever thought of going to a church for help. I will never forget the look of pure, naive shock that crossed her face. "Church!" she cried. "Why would I ever go there? I was already feeling terrible about myself. They'd just make me feel worse."'

This story shocks and saddens me for many reasons but the heartbreaking thing is that her view of church is shared by millions of people, and unfortunately rightly so in some situations. If Jesus were on earth right now, I have no doubt that this lady and her daughter would be someone Jesus made sure he had time for to help her, support her and show her, her value in Him.

Luke 5:30-32 says 'But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”'

The church is the body of Christ, it's about the believers not the building and as the body of Christ we need to be reaching out to anyone and everyone around us and just demonstrate God's love! We need to be doing what Jesus did, because if people can't run to the church for help when they need it most, where can they go?

Monday, 16 January 2012

React well

There are always going to be people around us who get on our nerves, annoy us, upset us and make us mad. There are definitely people in my life who make me feel all of the above in about a thirty second time span! My problem is that I can get wound up, frustrated and angry quite easily. Not immediately but if someone is persistently trying to push my buttons then it won't take long for me to snap! This isn't a good quality to have and it's something I've prayed about and felt convicted on quite a lot and it will work for maybe an hour or two but then I'll revert back to getting frustrated and angry.

I was praying about it last night in fact and was at the point of going 'well God what else can I do?! It's a natural reaction!' And into my head popped the words 'Jesus said nothing'

When Jesus was being tried before Pilate with false accusations being hurled at him, for a decision that would decide whether he lived or died, he said nothing!

'Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” But Jesus remained silent.... When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor.' Matthew 26:62-63 and 27:12-14

I think most of the time the hardest response for us to give is silence. We automatically want to express our anger/hurt/frustration somehow be it through shouting, sarcasm, being rude, or doing something like storming out the room. Our reaction is very rarely to stay put and say nothing, yet that's precisely what Jesus did. And actually I think that's the best way for us to demonstrate love to that person. It's the reaction they don't expect, and maybe through it they will change what they are doing and the way they act but if not we are still showing them God's love and that's all he asks of us.

'Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone - especially those in the family of faith' Galatians 6:10

This verse just sums up what I've already said. We need to do good to everyone, no matter how they treat us or make us feel because that's the real test of character. It won't be easy, it goes against human nature and what the world teaches and I know I can pretty much guarantee that I will fail once in a while, but hopefully I'll succeed more often than I fail with God's help! 

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Reasons to be cheerful... 2012, week 2!

Well it's that time of week again, not sure how it comes round so fast! Here are this weeks reasons to be cheerful

1. I had lovely skype times wit Becca
I've met a lot of lovely people through the Association of Young People with M.E (AYME) and Becca is one of them. By met I mean virtually :) Don't we look lovely!

2. I had a great day with my friend Louise yesterday
I went over to help her practice for her blood pressure OSCE and we did a lot more talking and laughing than practising! In the afternoon we went and got fishy pedicures and then she came back to mine and we had food, hot chocolate and watched girly films :)

3. I managed to walk a little further today!
Ok so it was all of 5 steps further but it was still further! I'm trying to increase my mobility but it's a very slow process and can be very frustrating at times so today felt like an achievement :)

Hop over to see Michelle over at Mummy From The Heart to see more reasons to be cheerful!  

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Reasons to be cheerful... 2012!

The first R2BC of 2012! My aim this year is to join in with as many as I can (hopefully all of them!)

1. It's 2012! 
This year is going to be better than last year, I'm determined. My aim is to go back to uni, and get better than I am now (hopefully completely better!)  but whether or not those two things happen, my aim is to just follow God's plan :) 

2. Had a lovely Christmas and New Year with my family
I missed having Christmas with my family last year so it was nice to be with everyone this year. Had my Mum's parents over on Christmas day and then the rest of my Mum's side of the family joined us on boxing day. Spent New Year down south with my god parents plus my family :)

3. I went to the Wedding of two of my lovely friends
It was a really beautiful day and I'm so glad I got to go :)

Hop over to see Michelle at Mummy From The Heart to see other peoples reasons to be cheerful :)

Monday, 2 January 2012

Happy New Year!

My aim was to write this yesterday but I didn't manage it so it's almost a belated New Years wish!

I wanted this blog to be a way of looking back over 2011 and looking forward to 2012. But as I was thinking about 2011, all I could think about was how awful it had been! I spent a significant amount of time in bed, I end up paralysed, spent the summer in hospital, had to learn how to walk again, my relationship ended... I kind of had the 'woe is me' mentality going on, but the more I thought about it, the more positive things God brought to my mind, things that wouldn't have happened and lessons I wouldn't have learnt if I had been healthy.

So here are all the positives about 2011: I learnt how to walk again (yes I know I wouldn't have needed to do that if I hadn't lost the ability in the first place but it was still a big achievement!)
I had a fantastic birthday surround by my lovely friends!
I learnt to rely more on God and less on myself and I hope it's something I will learn more about going into 2012
God gave me a reason to smile everyday, no matter what else was going on
I had so much support from my amazing friends, and I made new ones too :)
My parents came back from India and I moved back home with them
I started recovering from M.E and can do a lot more now than I could earlier in the year!
I went to two lovely weddings of some amazing friends!

Ok so that wasn't all the positives, but it would take me a long time to list them all!

2011 was a roller coaster, and there were many challenging times, but through it all I discovered more of how faithful my God is, I learnt more about Him and experienced Him more and for that alone it was worth it!
So here is to 2012, a year that is hopefully filled with good health but most importantly more of God. My New Years resolution is to let God take control as I know it always works out better that way! :)

I'll leave you with a quote I saw on a friend's facebook status. "The New Year doesn't just bring around another year of life, but another day to follow in Jesus' footsteps and bask in God's love."

Happy New Year xx