Things are all over the place at the moment, and I feel drained of creative juices. I have a couple of blog post drafts I could post, but they don't feel complete and it doesn't feel like the right time.
A lot of Christian blogs you read are always positive. Or, perhaps there are posts on negative topics, but they always come from a place of positivity. Integrity is a value I admire, prioritise and hold tight, so I don't want to post on something that I don't feel 100%. For example, I don't want to post on 'Spending Time With Jesus' when I'm avoiding Him. I don't want to post on 'Friendships' when I'm struggling in them.
So instead, here's a blog post about what I've been really enjoying over the last month. I hope you very much enjoy it.
Click on the photos to follow links
If you can dodge the rain, walks are so lovely around this time of year. Check out your local parks and National Trust sites. Go with family, go with friends, go with the dog or go just for some time on your own. If you're Midlands based like me, Clent Hills and Cannon Hill Park are my favourites, so dress up warm, take photos, chat with your loved ones or spend some time in prayer.
REST IN YOU
A song I've had on repeat over the last week or so is 'Rest In You' by All Sons & Daughters. The instruments and vocals give such a restful, calming feel and the lyrics are so powerful. My favourite is, "You cannot change, yet You change everything". It's just a great song to get your perspective on things back in place.
SHE READS TRUTH
'She Reads Truth' are an amazing and creative bunch of people. I receive daily devotionals via email that I get so much from, and it's a really great way to kickstart my morning. The devotions are easy to read, even with groggy, tired eyes! They also do really great Bible Study books available online. Like the emails, the design is beautiful and the content is inspiring.
They have an Advent-themed book coming out soon and I'm so excited to get my hands on it!
I love this weather. I'm such a summer sun kind of person, but this year I've been really loving the crisp sun shining and the cold air allowing for layers. Mind you, by 3pm it's too warm for half of the layers!
A favourite of mine has been this jumper from Zara. It was just £25 (converted) in Spain, so I was surprised to see the much higher price in England. Even so, it's so warm and soft. It goes well with a top underneath and a coat on top for that difficult layering weather.
I call these boots my 'Smash It Boots'. I wear them and I feel confident and professional. They're comfortable enough to wear all day and I can even drive (a short-medium distance) in them.
BAD GIRLS THROUGHOUT HISTORY
When I left my job at the Toy Shop, I was very kindly given a Waterstones voucher. With it, I bought 'Bad Girls Throughout History'. It's an inspiring book, telling the tales of 100 rebel girls throughout history, alongside beautiful illustrations. I like reading one or two before I go to bed.
I'd love for someone to make a Christian version of this; women throughout the Bible to women through to women these days who do incredible things for Jesus.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please comment below what you've been enjoying over the last few weeks!
My Bible is an NIV Journalling Bible. When I got it from Etsy, it was a blue/white/pink polka-dot fabric Bible. Because of the fabric, it got pretty grubby. So, I decided to cover it.... here's how!
1. GET INSPIRED
Head over to Pinterest and type in 'paint cover Bible'. Whether it's a floral design you're looking for, or an illustration of the deep blue sea, you're bound to find something on Pinterest.
2. SET THE SCENE
I painted my Bible on window sill of the Juliet Balcony of my flat. I put a black bin liner down so as to not get paint everywhere! I lit some candles and put some calming worship tunes on. I made sure I had everything I needed - paint brushes, water, paint and snacks.
3. BASE COAT
Paint your Bible with white paint. I just used white acrylic paint from The Works. Remember the edges and sides of your cover!
4. GET STARTED ON YOUR BACKGROUND COLOUR
Once your base coat is dry, you can get started on your main background colour. If you've mixed shades together, it's really important that you have enough paint. Otherwise when you've run out of paint, it'll be really hard to get the right quantities to get the same shade again.
- Again, make sure you remember the edges and sides of your Bible.
- paint your Bible whilst it's closed, whilst it's opened slightly and when it's totally open and flat on the floor (or wherever you're painting). This way, you'll paint every part of your Bible.
- paint in the same direction over the whole Bible.
Unless you're feeling particularly confident, whether it's the outline to flowers, lettering or waves, draw your detail out with a pencil first.
- Use a light, soft pencil.
- remember to rub out your pencil lines before the next step!
- Try out different mediums. I used a blue Sharpie for my bottom layer of lettering and gold nail varnish for the top layer. I also used pink and red sharpies for the flower details.
Now you've got your detail and you've rubbed out the pencil lines, you can gloss your Bible - I used acrylic clear craft spray. Open your Bible to roughly halfway through, lay it flat on a bin liner and spray away, holding the can about 15cm away from the Bible. Wait for the first coat to dry, and then spray again, just to make sure that there's no part not glossed.
And there you have it, your very own personalised painted Bible! I'd love to see your creations, so tweet me a picture!
Thanks for reading!
I had the absolute pleasure and privilege of interviewing Blogger and Vlogger, David Gibbs.
David has a blog titled 'Confessions of a First Time Dad' where he beautifully and powerfully shares his experiences of parenthood, well-being and mental health. With his fiance Ebony Day, David has a family vlogging channel called My Tiny Tribe, on which the pair share the highs and lows of being first-time parents, featuring travel, Q&A's, life updates, day-to-day-life, and the ever-wonderful Daisy - what's not to love?
I present to you, an interview with David Gibbs....
Hi! It's great to chat to you. How are you doing? Is life with a baby treating you well?
I am doing amazing.
Life with a Daisy is almost beyond words. It's been the most challenging but rewarding eight months of my life. When I look at Daisy I see Grace. Parenthood is a powerful, beautiful thing.
As many of my readers will know, I grew up in a Christian family, have been to Church all my life, I went to a Christian school and now I'm at Bible College. What, if any, faith-related influences did you have whilst growing up? How did you 'find God'?
Ahh, so I grew up a strict Atheist with absolutely no faith related influences. I read the books, learnt the clever arguments and felt smug in my intellectual, material worldview. Th funny thing is though, when you are broken and in pain those books, those arguments and that smug superiority complex just doesn't count for anything. They fall short. It all falls short. I found God through a twelve step recovery program. It turns out I'd been seeking Him all along. I think a lot of us are like that; we are born into this feeling that something is missing and we spend life trying to fill it with all these different things - be it drugs, food, sex, alcohol or work. It doesn't fill the hole but we keep trying and trying. Four years ago I got to a point where if I tried for much longer I would lose myself completely. When a man spoke to me about this idea of a higher power I had the gift of desperation. I was so broken I actually listened. From that moment my life change. Every day since has been a miracle.
That is so powerful and incredible.
So you've said in Instagram comments previously that you don't follow a certain dogma or religion/ Could you just explain your feelings and though-process behind this?
I can - or at least I will try. I find it hard speaking about religion as it's such murky waters and I never want to offend. I guess it's as simple as this for me.
I didn't find God in a church, or a temple or in a mosque. I met him right where I was in the darkness. As of today, my experience with Him doesn't fit truthfully with a certain dogma or religion. That doesn't mean that I think Christianity is wrong. That doesn't mean I think Islam is wrong. It just simply isn't my truth at this moment in time. For now, I will keep praying and I will keep building upon this relationship and trust in that and in Him. I guess that is somewhat of a polite answer. The truth is I also feel a lot of the time organised religion can be something that stands in the way of someone when they need God the most. I've had conversations with people that are begging for help but the moment God is brought up they shut down. Why? Because for them God is organised religion. It's hate signs and judgement, strange clothes and strict rules. I'm not saying that's what it truly is. I'm just saying generations of misguided actions in His name has caused the very answer to become the problem. I feel that the tides are changing though. Less about memorising the words and more about experiencing His Grace and His love and passing that on.
For me, having a sense of God is really important. For example, I feel closest to God when I sing worship songs. Or sometimes there are things that I pray for that get answered. Sometimes things happen that can be seen as coincidence, I feel like are God. Is this something you've experienced? Has there been a time where you've been able to pinpoint, "that's God"?
I feel God in everything. I feel God in the good and God in the bad. I feel God in Daisy's laugh. I feel God as two strangers smile at each other on the tube. I feel Him in the everyday, I feel it when I'm watching a singer in a rock band connect with an audience. When I look at the audience and I can see for that moment they are connected to the music so intensely. When you can see in that moment they feel understood and the storm has lifted. That's beautiful. It's messy but it's beautiful. When I see humanity working together, in even the smallest way...it's then I feel him most.
Wow, I think that's something we can all learn from.
Your followers saw that you went to Hillsong Church recently - what was that like? Daisy looked super cute in the big baby-pink ear defenders!
Daisy and Ebony at Hillsong Church
It was soooooo cute! Daisy loved it!
I love Hillsong. We don't go super often but whenever we do, I love it. We've been to the conference as well. I know, this may sound a little strange as I am not Christian haha.
For me, any place where people meet to worship I feel home.
Thank you so much for your time! Do you have a favourite faith-related quote that inspires you that you'd like to share and finish on?
"Divine discontent ignites a longing. The exile remembers his own home and begins the long road back to the beloved. It's only because he wants us that we turn our eyes from the outer world and set out in the ancient journey of the soul back to it's source. This call is always present because each and every atom sings the song of remembrance, every particle of creation desires to be reunited with the Creator"
Amazing! Thanks again!
You can read the Confessions of a First Time Dad here, or watch the Tiny Tribe here.
I've loved writing since I was a little girl. Laying on my grandparent's carpet floor, creatively jotting down a new story, complete with felt-tip illustrations and held together with a staple in one corner.
From then on, I wrote 'books' for my Granddad. There was a poetry book, a book about a Victorian girl, a book about what I'd do if I had lots of different jobs (space-girl, chef, painter...) and finally a 100-page futuristic fairy-tale book that never got finished. My Granddad died when I was 13, and my creative writing died too. I didn't write anything other than school work and diary entries after that.
.... until recently...
Over the last few years, when my mind is full of lots of little things - worldly observations, worries, long to-do lists - writing has been an escape and an expression. It's enabled me to focus on just one thing, which had been incredibly valuable at times.
Writing, especially on this blog, has enabled me to share my faith. For me, the 'Just Prayers' post was a brave and new thing to do. In the past, I haven't written anything like that as I've been full with fear that I'll unintentionally write something that goes against common theology, something that doesn't really make sense. I thought, "I'm just a kid, I can't write anything like that".
A dream of mine is firstly, to reach 1000 views on this website. I'm currently averaging at 15 per week - so I've got a while to go. Secondly, is to win an award for my writing. Finally, a dream is to write an interview with one of my top inspirations.
On the 25th August 2016, I stood in my school's office opening a white envelope with my GCSE results inside. When I got to 'English Literature', my brows furrowed in confusion, then a massive grin spread across my face as I looked to my, also grinning, English teacher. I had got an A* in English Literature (the only one in my year to do so) and a B in English Language. A Level results day is edging nearer and nearer, and I hope to open the envelope on the 16th August 2018 and see a B next to English Literature.
I write because it's an escape, an expression, a way of processing my thoughts. I write as a form of evangelism, and I write because I love to and I'm good at it.
I thought I'd take you for a trip down my memory lane, and introduce you to a couple of songs that always make me feel nostalgic. You can have a listen to the playlist at: https://goo.gl/otrH1W
So grab a cup of tea, light a couple of candles... Here we go...
1. I'VE FOUND A LOVE // BETHEL MUSIC
This song was played just before I got baptised on the 10th of November, 2013. I hadn't chosen it, but it totally fit with my testimony,
"I’ve found a love greater than life itself
I’ve found a hope stronger and nothing compares
I once was lost now I’m alive in You"
In early April, I was with a friend on Minehead beach at about 6am to watch the sunrise. She turned on this song and we worshipped as our toes froze in the sea and the golden sun rays began to arise
2. OCEANS // HILLSONG UNITED
Oceans reminds me of when I was in Romania for the first time. It was the only song that all the team knew. We sang it so many times to congregations, to kids and just to ourselves in team-worship time.
It also remind me of a time when I was around 13, and I was feeling really mentally down. I was sat on my own at a Church youth group. My knees were to my chest, with my head between them. This song was being beautifully played when my youth minister tapped my arm, held my hand to pull me up and walked me to where all the candles were lit by the cross. She put her arm around me and she sang as I cried. Then she said, "nobody sits on their own in the Kingdom of God"
I just find it a really powerful song, with really powerful lyrics
"Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior"
3. CHASING CARS // SNOW PATROL
Now this story is going to sound weird, but I'm going to go for it anyway. When I was in Year 8 or 9 at school, the girls in my year and I had just got back inside the changing room after a fast-paced game of hockey on the field in the pouring rain. We were exhausted, hot and soaked through. So, what did we decide to do? Change out of the wet clothes? Nope... we lay on the floor singing,
"If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?"
I may be wrong, but I don't think that was the only time and place we sung that chorus with every breath in our lungs. I'm sure we once did it on the pitch in the pouring rain too...
4. DOWN IN A NOISY SMALL VALLEY // ISHMAEL
It is highly likely that you've never heard of this song, and it is highly likely that you wish to never hear it again; I feel you.
My mum, my younger brother and I used to love Ishmael as I grew up. My mum and I often sing the songs around the house still.
5. CAN'T FIGHT THE MOONLIGHT // LEANN RIMES
Now, knowing that I'm 17 years old, you may say, "you're far too young to have any memories of this song", well, true and false. My mum always says to me when this song plays, "you used to love this song when you were newborn! I'd be up with you in the early hours of the morning and I'd switch on the music channel, and your eyes would be fixed to the screen, watching LeAnn Rimes dancing on the table".
6. SECRET FOR THE MAD // DODIE
The lyrics to this song are so hopeful. I've listened to it countless times when I've lost hope, when I've been given bad news, when I'm feeling zoned out. I adore it. "There will be a day when you can say you're okay, and mean it"
7. THE FLOOD // SOUL SURVIVOR 2013
This song takes me back to my first time at Soul Survivor, a Christian summer festival. I can see my 13-year-old-self awkwardly standing amongst thousands of other teenagers, all worshipping the same God.
8. GLORIOUS DAY // PASSION
This is a more recent song, so it carries a more recent memory. In September I went to Whitemoor Lakes to do a week of training with my Youth For Christ family. This is one of the songs we sang, and I can still see us all with hand high in the air, jumping around, singing our hearts out,
"You called my name
And I ran out of that grave
Out of the darkness
Into Your glorious day"
Those lyrics are just so powerful!
9. LION AND THE LAMB // BETHEL
This story probably isn't funny unless you're on the YFC Gap year, but I'll tell it anyway.
The lyrics to this song are actually,
"He's coming on the clouds, kings and kingdoms will bow down
And every chain will break, as broken hearts declare His praise
Who can stop the Lord Almighty?
Our God is the Lion, the Lion of Judah
He's roaring with power and fighting our battles
And every knee will bow before You
Our God is the Lamb, the Lamb that was slain
For the sin of the world, His blood breaks the chains
And every knee will bow before the Lion and the Lamb"
But we (those on the YFC Gap Year) once couldn't remember the words, so we just sort of mixed them altogether, and it's since been a running joke. Every time we sing it at church, I think of the wrong words. To me, the words are more like,
"Our God is a cloud, and Judah is coming
He's roaring with lions and fighting our knees"
10. FILLED WITH YOUR GLORY // HOUSEFIRES
Simply, this song just reminds me of summer. In the Summer of 2017, if I had earphones in then you could guarantee I was listening to House fires.
11. EU CRED IN VINDECARILE DIVINE // SPERANTA SI PRIETENII
I've been to Romania three times on mission, and I'm certain I've heard this song at some point. I can't remember whether it was at the Community Centre in team devotions, at a concert I went to, or in Church. I really like the lyrics,
"In His Name You Are Cured
In His Name You Can Be Forgiven
In His Name You Are Salvation
On His behalf you are happy"
12. THE 4 POINTS // THEBANDWITHNONAME
This song is so cringe, I know, but I really do love it! I was allowed to play music in ASDAN class in Year 11, and what got me through the last few months was getting on with work with this song blasting through my earphones. It can't not be on the list
13. SOLDIER // GAVIN DEGRAW
I love the lyrics of this song. A friend put it on in her car once when I was around 13, and it gives me the same feels every time. I love it.
14. HOW FAR WE'VE COME // MATCHBOX TWENTY
I first heard this song in the background of a fan-made video of Holby City (which at the age of 14 I was addicted to.... very cringe, I know). I just really liked it from there on in, and it takes me back to that age.
15. LORD, I LIFT YOUR NAME ON HIGH // MATT MAHER
When I was 15, maybe, it was Easter Sunday and I stood on a little stage in black jeans, a white top and a yellow cardigan, singing this song in church.... with actions. This summer, I was in a worship team singing this song with the band, and my Youth Minister who had organised that dance and song many Easter's ago, stood at the back laughing and doing the actions.
16. IN TOO DEEP // SUM 41
I hear this song and I think of Cheaper By The Dozen, which is my favourite film ever!
17. THESE ARE THE DAYS // 10,000 MANIACS
see reason 16...
18. MOUNTAINS // LUCY SPRAGGAN
This is another one with no real story behind it, I just remember really liking it and overplaying it when I was about 14. I think at one point I even used the lyrics for my 'Skype' bio...
19. THE HAIRBRUSH SONG // VEGGIETALES
A lot like number 4, it's highly likely you'll hate this one. But, as a Christian kid that grew up through the early 2000's, this song couldn't not be on the list! If I went into my youthgroup now and began singing, "Oh where is my...." I'm certain I'd get multiple people singing the rest of the verse back to me
20. WITHOUT ME // EMINEM
When I was between 12 and 13, I went to a Youth group on a Thursday night. There was a Wii there and one of the only games we had was a karaoke game, and Eminem's 'Without Me' was one of the song options. To cut a long story short, unsurprisingly, the song got banned from the church youth group. However, it'll still an 'inside-joke' by a select few... if one person says "around the outside...." you can guarantee some will reply with, "around the outside, around the outside...."
21. BEST OF BOTH WORLDS // HANNAH MONTANA
C'mon... I'm a 17 year old girl, this had to be on the memory road list! I had the Hannah Montana lunch box, blanket, secret diary, little books, the wig! My big brother and I took it in turns to buy the CDs, we had the DVD!
I hope you enjoyed this blog post and some of my music choices! Comment below some of your memory road songs.
Catch you later,