I stick on some worship music that I haven’t heard for a while, or ever heard. I do this, rather than putting on songs that I know like the back of my hand, because I find that God speaks to me more through lyrics I haven’t heard before. If I put on, for example, ‘Oceans’ by Hillsong, then I find myself singing the words but not really thinking about them. I really like quiet songs when I've put time aside to spend with God, whereas I like 'beaty' songs when I’m driving, or cooking. Below are two playlists of my favourite songs right now, for which ever mood you’re in.
After I’ve put some music on, I open up my journal and get my favourite pen.
(For anyone interested, every year I buy a new big, fabric, line journal from Paperchase. My favourite pen is the 'Handwriting Pen' by Berol... the ones you got in primary school once you got your 'pen-license' and didn't have to write in pencil anymore)
I light some candles, firstly because the flame reminds me of God’s presence, and secondly simply because I almost always have candles lit.
Then, I just listen. I don’t hype it, I don’t repeat “please speak to me, please speak to me, please speak to me” in a whisper to God. I just listen to the lyrics and write down the ones that speak to me. Maybe it’s just me, but maybe it is God.
I know a couple of people who play ‘Bible Bingo’, and it’s a way that God speaks to them. They pray over their bible, open it to a ‘random page’, and a verse on that page speaks to them.
That doesn’t work for me.
I really like the Bible plans from 'Little Faith Blog'. I rarely follow them like a devotion anymore, although I’d like to get back into the swing of that. Instead, I read the suggested verses in my journaling bible. I underline bits, highlight some words, I write exactly what I’m thinking, usually ‘wow’ or ‘huh?’ Or I just rewrite the verse in a script font.
Then I go back to my journal, and I write prayers to God (usually based on the lyrics and verses), starting with worship and praise, followed by asks, finishing with surrender.
For example, most recently I wrote about God’s loyal love, how no matter what I do there is grace upon grace upon grace. I wrote a list of things that God says I am, and I wrote a verse that I liked.
Then, for asks, I draw a heart, and then wrote the things that I’m praying for in that heart, and I prayed over it.
Finally, for surrender, I listened to the song ‘Closer’ by North Point InsideOut and Lauren Daigle, and wrote out the bridge:
“My sole devotion, my only focus is to worship you. My life surrendered, my heart abandoned for more of you”
I hope that helped, or was of interest! Comment below how you like to spend time with God....
Reflecting on the last year fills me with many emotions; happiness, sadness, a sense of achievement, love, motivation, joyful, thankful, tired.
I went on holiday to Barcelona. We went on a boat trip, visited Sagrada Familia, walked along alas ramblas and visited Parc Guel which was my favourite.
I really love road trips. Being in a car with someone for a long journey is one of my favourite things, and this year so many road-trips, whether for ‘pleasure’ or ‘business’…. Conventry, Bradford, Nottingham, Minehead, Weston Supermare, Sussex.
Saying “goodbye” and saying “hello”
This year I had to say “goodbye” to some really amazing organisations/Churches. In my second year of college, I did A Levels alongside working with a local church, and a gap year program with Youth For Christ. It was the best year ever, I learnt so much and made so many friends. Saying goodbye to the Church I worked with and to YFC was a lowlight of the year, but as Winnie the Pooh says, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
I moved out of the family home and into a snug flat in the city-centre. I was living with a friend for the first 4 months, but sadly that didn’t work out, but those four months were some of the best of the year; watching movies together, cooking, going on day trips, comforting etc other and eating too much ice cream. They were some of the best memories my new home has seen. Just because they’re over now, doesn’t make them any less special.
I started university! I've made lots of friends there, which part of me didn't expect to. Me and a friend go to Mc Donalds every week we're at uni, and have 'mates-dates', putting the world to right and properly catching up, whilst still really getting to know each other.
I started a new job! It’s not just any job, but *the* job I’ve wanted since I was about fourteen. A few weeks ago I was speaking to someone I went to school with. Catching up on the past few years, he asked what I’m doing now. In reply to my answer, he said, “wow that’s amazing, that’s what you’ve always wanted to do”.
There have been multiple times over this year that I feel like I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone.
In July I shared a testimony of how my year has gone at YFC’s End of Year Showcase, a time where line managers, colleagues and family members come to celebrate all that’s happened on The Year Out.
Also in July, after the encouragement from my friends, I led little bits on stage at Spree, in a venue of around fifty young people. I led reflections, prayers and a game, and it felt brilliant, I loved it!
In August I did the catering for the group I went with to Soul Survivor. Having not got a GCSE in maths and having dyscalculia, I found it challenging. I can’t get my head around numbers sometimes, which made quantities and timings quite hard. Less than a week ago, I had failed my A Levels, so I was already feeling pretty stupid. Doing the catering isn’t something I’d do again, but I’m proud of myself that I did do it, and I’m thankful for the help and encouragement that I had during. I also danced, something I'm usually not confident enough to do, and went on a Total Wipeout style inflatable 'thing', which took a lot of confidence (and convincing)!
Finally, in October, I shared my testimony for the first time ever at The Noise, a yearly youth mission event.
You can read more about Soul Survivor here
And you can read more about The Noise here
This year, I’ve been in Youth and Children’s Work magazine three times!
I came runner up in Premier’s Digital awards as Young Blogger of the Year.
Also blog related, I got the opportunity to interview David Gibbs, who is one of my favourite influencers on YouTube. You can check it out here.
One of the highlights this year has been the launch of Lightbox, a Worcester-based, drop-in Youth Cafe. Having been a little part of the planning, to then see it come to life is really amazing. I think it's really growing my confidence too. In February, I spent the day with two other leaders setting things up, building, painting, unboxing, ready for the launch the following month. This day was a highlight, which may seem strange - we really did just build, paint and unbox. But at the time I was feeling really low and stressed about what to do the following academic year. It was what I really needed - productivity, busyness and company.
I went on lots of youth trips too, like Hillsong and a wander around London, a trampoline park, and Soul Survivor.
In September I launched Youth House Group, which has become my favourite group that I run. We look at more topical series, like 'My Big Fat Mouth' which looked at lying, gossip and criticism. I really like the atmosphere and the vision of the group.
Don’t let social media, blogs and vlogs fool you. Just because someone posts a highlights reel on their Facebook, doesn’t mean they didn’t have any lowlights of the year. Just because someone’s instagram feed is full of engagement photos, new house, pictures of going out with friends, multiple holidays, doesn’t mean they had no struggles throughout the year.
- I didn’t get the A Level results I expected, and got a U in one of them
- I’ve felt lonely and have struggled in some friendships
- I’ve struggled with my mental health. But as the saying goes, “it does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop”
- I got diagnosed with PCOS - look it up, it deserves more awareness and for the stigma of women’s health to go.
New Year Resolutions
I haven’t done any New Year Resolutions this year. A friend posted a quote on her Instagram story, which says it better than I can:
“You don’t need replacing every year. The calendar is just another human invention. Don’t feel guilty about not dieting or exercising yourself into a temporary new form. Just be kind to yourself. Get to know the old you. Don’t throw yourself away like another piece of plastic trash. You are everything as you already are”.
I guess I have goals that I am continually working on, but I haven’t got a list of things that I must achieve/start doing/stop doing. I’d like to drink more water, continue to grow in self-confidence and body positivity, and I’d like to be more thankful and appreciative of the things around me. It’s a growing process, rather than, as this quote says, throwing away the old like a piece of plastic trash.
Thank you for reading, and for your support throughout this year.
What were your highlights and lowlights?
Term One has come to an end at Uni, and I am exhausted.
For those who don’t know, I’m doing a full time degree at MCYM St Johns College in Nottingham, studying Youth, Communities and Theology. I also work part-time as Student Youth Worker at a Baptist Church in the West Middlands. So I travel to Nottingham every other week for lectures, I do essays and work for my portfolio during the week as well as 14 hours per week as Youth Worker. This involves session planning, meetings, mentoring, youth house group, drop in youth cafe and toddler group. I've learnt a lot since starting at MCYM...
I’ve learn academic things; I could list about 10 values and principles of youth work, referencing three different people. I can give you a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and Threats) analysis of my work places’ safeguarding policy. I could tell you a couple of things about Corinthians 12:12-23.
I’ve learnt geographical and practical things, like that Nottingham is far away, that the best time to set off is 7am, and that the best service station to stop off at is Tamworth (on the way to Nottingham) and Hopward (on the way home). I’ve not yet learnt how to pronounce one of the roads I use though: Brian Clough Way. Is it 'Clough' like through, cough, thought or cloud? You’ve got to love the English language..
I’ve learnt a lot of personal things:
I’ve learnt that I am a person who can achieve things. One of my lecturers, Dr Charlotte Naylor Davis, said, “you’ve got to remind yourself that you are a person who can achieve things” in a Biblical Studies lecture. She was talking about how, if we’re struggling to write our essay, then go on a run, bake a cake, do anything that reminds us that we are people who can achieve things. I’ve learnt this term that I cannot write an essay before 2pm. At the beginning, I’d sit starring at a blank screen all morning, getting more and more upset and frustrated that I couldn’t think of what to write. I’d take a lunch break feeling so unachieved and incapable that I’d find it so hard to start again after lunch. Once I reminded myself that I am a person who can achieve things, I began doing something else enjoyable and productive in the morning, like yoga, youth session planning, watching a sermon and taking notes, going to the library. Then I’ll have some lunch and get started on my essay or portfolio work, continuing on until 6pm, when I’ll have some dinner, and then possibly continue on, or at least write some ideas that are still flowing, for an hour after dinner. That’s just how I work. Based on the way A Level results day went, I thought I wouldn’t understand any of my lectures and that I wouldn’t be able to do work well. On the contrary, in one of my first lectures I had, a lecturer said my answer was “profound”. That was a massive confidence booster!
I’ve learnt (or been reminded) that there are many people for me. My lecturers have been so great at explaining things, encouraging me and helping me through problems, like mental health wobbles and settling at my placement. I have a colleague who has become like my work-mum and not only works with me, but encourages me, listens to me and takes me out for lunch
I’ve also learnt two areas that I need to work on:
Saying “no”. It doesn’t matter what it is, if I’m free I’ll most likely say “yes” to whatever you’ve asked me to do, which is probably why I’m so tired. I’ve learnt that I’m the kind of person that works late, that likes to get everything done well before deadlines, that fills up her days and can’t say “no”. I’m taking leave in the New Year and I can’t express how excited I am to sleep, watch Netflix, make things, bake things, go for a walk along the river, go to a garden centre.
I’ve also learnt that I’m terrible at meetings. I generally forget what was said in a meeting - I need to remember to take notes. I’ve also realised that I don’t make a lot of input. I’m quite a slow processor, so when someone chips in with an idea, I’ve heard it but I’m still thinking about exactly what they’re saying, about what I think, and then I’m crafting a response in my head that actually makes sense. By this time we’re on to the answer, or another idea. I think, as well as being slow at processing what people are saying, it’s because of a lack of confidence. I’m scared that I’ll say something stupid, or that doesn’t make sense, or I’ll give an idea that nobody likes. I was in a meeting a few weeks ago about the future of a youth group I co-lead, and on my phone I had about three or four ideas. How many did I actually share? 0.
So, all in all it’s been a good first term. I’m looking forward to starting again in January, right after I have a lovely Christmas and a long sleep.
Thanks to your nominations and support on this blog, last weekend I took a trip down to London for the Premier Digital Awards. Hosted at The Brewery in The Barbican, I won ‘Runner Up’ of ‘Young Blogger of the Year’!
I went with both my parents, and we were seated at a table of other finalists in different categories. We had very posh but delicious food, made conversation and contacts, and laughed a lot too. It was so amazing to be in the same room as so many individuals and organisations that inspire me; editors of Premier Youth and Children’s Work Magazine, TLG, YFC, Lily Jo, More Precious. It was a strange mix of feeling slightly out of place - a sense of inadequacy - yet the feeling of worthiness and pride to be there.
My category was one of the last. I had seen many I mentioned above either win their category or get runner up. I started to feel a little shaky and nervous, but still excited. The hosts, Faith Child and Maria Rodrigues, introduced the ‘Young Blogger of the Year Category’ and read out the five finalist names. When mine was read out, my whole table let out a loud cheer… especially my parents! The next thing I know, my name has been called for Runner Up and I’m walking my best in my heels towards the stage to receive my certificate and have a photo taken.
The winner of my category was Alisha of 'Writerield', and since the Awards night we have been getting to know each other over Twitter!
‘The honest bit’
The Awards night was a perfect example of just having to fight the enemy away. Honestly, I often feel like ‘second best’, like people’s second option, like ‘plan B’. So when I got the award of runner up, even with the adrenaline, pride, and excitement to text those closest to me who were eagerly waiting, I still felt the enemy say to me, “you’ve literally got the prize for being second best".
It was in this time that I had to fight the enemy with the truths. Only a day or two before, someone had sent me a prophetic word about how I have nothing to prove and nothing to protect because I am who I am, and those few words really helped me. I also took a step back and had a reality check that I had got further than so many other amazing bloggers. I reminded myself of all the people that had messaged me kind words, congratulated me and told me that they’re proud of me
I really want to thank everyone who nominated me. I don’t know who did, but thank you.
Thank you to everyone who has written kind words on my social media posts, to my parents for (literally and loudly) cheering me on, to Premier Digital for having me, to all my readers, and finally, a ‘thank you’ to 'Grandad in the sky', who started my love of writing many many years ago.
The Noise is a yearly youth mission event that has happened every October Half term for the last four years. Young people from Churches across the city of Worcester gather together to worship, do community projects, learn together and eat lots of pizza!
Here’s what happened this year:
At around 9am on Saturday the 27th October, young people and their youth leaders gathered at a farm just outside Worcester. Everyone signed in and put their bags in their army style tents; they were long, green, made of canvas material and had bunk beds inside.
We split into four teams and got to work on the farm. By day, the farm is part of the Good Soil Project - a charity that provides therapeutic, land based activities to support struggling and marginalised people.
One team, the team I co-lead, painted posts ready to be put into the carpark. The second team did planting, the next raked leaves and the final team separated a pig pen and chopped down some trees. Throughout the day we alternated projects as we shivered and sipped on hot drinks. I was really proud of the young people on my team, they worked so hard, laughed a lot and worked so well as a team.
Everyone chilled out for a bit before a banquet of a dinner; pasta, burgers, hot dogs, salad!
Next up was our evening celebration. Around a crackling fire, we worshipped and we heard a talk on courage by one of the city’s ministers. Then it was my turn to stand up, and I told my testimony for the first time. I wish I had kept to my notes a little more, but I got the message that I wanted to send across, and I had quite a few young people come up to me afterwards, telling me that my story had touched them, and thanked me for sharing.
That evening was really nice; the young people played card games, chatted around the bonfire, watched colourful fireworks, before going to bed at around 11:30pm
It was a really cold night! I slept in two sleeping bags, leggings, pyjama bottoms, two long sleeve tops, two hoodies, a thick coat as a duvet, two blankets and three pairs of socks!… I still fell asleep shivering!
In the morning, after sausage sandwiches for breakfast, the young people signed up for a project. The choices were: collecting food donations from Asda, taking it to Food Bank and stacking shelves there, cleaning up a local park and building bird boxes, cooking and serving lunch for elderly people at a local church, and street evangelism. All teams were also given £10 (nicknamed, ‘the £10 challenge’) to do whatever we wanted with to benefit someone else.
I was project leader for the ‘seniors lunch’ project. I’m not very good at authority or being the leader, so it was challenging! But I feel like I did well in delegating, supervising and time managing. The team got the food out on time and it looked delicious! We had lots left over, so two of the girls took food packages to the homeless around Worcester. Two other girls sang and played the piano, and others played games with our guests.
Once we were all tidied up, we headed for the city centre to spend our £10. We also had some chocolates left over, so we offered them to passers by, and we had juice left over, which we gave to 2 homeless people. One homeless man asked if he could share the juice with his friends. It was so humbling and inspiring to see a man who had almost nothing want to share the little that he did have.
With the £10, the team decided to buy a Costa Coffee voucher and we have it to a homeless man, as well as one of the young people praying for him.
Once everyone was finished their projects, we headed to a church in the city. The young people had an hour or so to reunite with their friends and tell the stories of the day, play cards, chat, laugh and rest, before thirty extra large dominoes pizza arrived, almost all of which were devoured!
Following this, we went upstairs to worship together, I led two ice breaker games, we heard an inspiring talk about fear, some courageous young people got up and shared highlights, and then it was time for everyone to go home!
This year’s Noise was very different for me. I’ve gone to the Noise since it first started four years ago. But then, I was there as a young person. I excitably signed up for projects, stepped out in faith to evangelise on the streets, worshipped and danced with my friends, played games. This year I led projects, stepped out of my comfort zone to tell my testimony and to lead games, I hung out with a different group of friends, and I watched as the young people learnt, grew, worshipped and served. I left The Noise feeling lots of things: cold, exhausted, proud of myself, thankful for leaders who had encouraged me and challenged me, thankful for new friendships, reflective about old friendships, thankful for new leadership opportunities and being trusted with that, and proud of the young people.
Find out more about The Noise and see more pictures here
Find out more about The Good Soil Project here
Thanks for reading!
Three years ago, I posted a video on YouTube titled 'Dear Future Me' . It got around 500 views, but is now unlisted due to it being a total cringe-fest. However, now it's almost exactly three years on, I thought I'd write a letter in reply.
Dear Younger Self,
We're eighteen now, nineteen next month! And yes, we still feel a year or two older than we actually are. It's sometimes difficult, like recently when you feel like you've grown out of friendships. But it also comes with the blessing of hanging out with incredible people who are actually 5-10 years older than you, but you feel like you fit.
You ask whether we "survived high school". Oh Rebecca, we thrived high school. I'll give you some tips for your last year or so...
1. Do your homework, and preferably without the aid of Google.
2. Stop asking, "what's the point though?" in every maths lesson
3. Enjoy the little things. I miss so many things about school and it genuinely makes me sad to think that I'll never sit in an English lesson ever again, or I'lll never play Ultimate Frisbee on the field in the rain again, and I'll never go on another Geography field trip where we sit on a cliff top eating lunch in Sunny Devon, or trudge through a river, clipboard and snack in hand.
4. Keep going and believe in yourself! You've come so far and you're only going to go further!
No, we didn't go to College in the end; only dead fish go with the flow. We did A Levels from home and, spoiler alert, it's tough. Put your music on, find a way to study best, and don't give up. Do some more practice essays and get them marked... use your tutors!
We made it to Uni! We're on an actual university course! Not Belfast, we had a bit of a crisis earlier on in the year about what to. Instead we're Student Youth Worker and studying at Nottingham CYM. That leads me nicely onto dreams...
Over time your dreams will change, and that's okay. Don't stress yourself over not knowing what to do; there's always time to figure it out. Just because you verbalise that you want to do one thing, doesn't mean you have a legal contract to do that. But just be aware that your plan doesn't always fit with God's. However, the flip side of that is that His is always bigger and better. Trust.
You asked how much we've grown. The answer is simple: more than you could imagine. Last year we did YFC's gap year program and a year of Youth Work Placement, and we grew so much that 17 year old us is barely recognisable to 18 year old us. We learnt so much from the people around us and from stepping out into new opportunities. The only advice I'd give you, the only thing I'd change about that year, is that you write more down. Write a short summary of every youth group you lead, every youth trip you go on, every chat/meeting you have with your line manager.
I have one more thing to tell you before I go, and it's a big'n....
Stop putting yourself on a tightrope of trying to please everyone. When you fall from that high, it's only going to hurt you. So, hop down from up there and work towards a better you for you. There are so many people around you right now that care about you, that will give up their lunch break to sit and chat with you, that will pray with you after youth group again and again and again. They do that because they care about the current you, not the perfect and without fault you. And I know you just want to hear them say, "I'm proud of you", but don't pressure yourself to always have a smile on your face just to hear those words. You don't have to hear it to know it.
Let's catch up again in a few years,
(p.s. yeah, we like the name Rebecca again.)
How's your week been? After a terrible week where I felt attacked in almost every area, I've had a really lovely past couple of days that included a positive meeting, working with Youth for Christ on a resource, lunch dates with friends, productivity and creativity.
I really feel like I'm in a season of learning and growing. A lot of things have changed in the past six months: I've moved out, I started uni and I started a new job. There have been some areas of my life that have been really difficult in just the last few weeks, but I feel like I'm learning a lot through them. Here's what I'm learning...
I watched a sermon online this week and the preacher said, "cultivate a perspective mindset". He reminded me that, "no matter how big your problem is, your God is bigger". I'm learning that even by thinking, "I can do this, I'm committed to this" and changing your perspectives of the situation, the actual practicalities of the situation might not change, but your joy and hopefulness will!
Who you choose to surround yourself with is so important.
Surround yourself with people that you feel safe with, people that inspire you, that you have a good time with and people that give and take. Don't surround yourself with people who make you anxious, people who you don't trust not to talk about you behind your back, and people that just take and take.
This week I had a quick coffee and some study-help with someone who was my youth minister for five years, and is now a friend. I went to Life Group with someone who Line Managed me last year and is now a friend. I had lunch with someone who I've admired for years and is still one of my biggest inspirations, but more importantly is a friend. All these people are a joy to be with, they encourage me, make me laugh and inspire me.
I'm learning that it's okay to grow out of friendships! It's okay for relationships to change as people do!
3. ME TIME
Amongst the uni work, youth work prep and emails I've sent this week, I've been able to spend a lot of time on me, and I've realised the importance of that.
One afternoon I drove to a garden centre and wandered around all the Christmassy bits; all the twinkling lights, colour co-ordinated baubles and shiny tinsel gave me all the Christmas feels!
Another night I sat in front of the TV and watched all my current favourites (Eastenders, Holby City, The Great British Bake Off) and I lit some candles and painted my nails. I've also started an artsy project, which you'll see in about two weeks!
All these little 'self-care'stereotypes' can make all the difference.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post, and you have a very lovely weekend.
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!
I'm sure you'll agree that it is one hundred times easier to praise God and trust His ways when our lives are sunny and bright, when everything is going right in our eyes. But what about when the waves come crashing, lightening strikes, thunder roars and rain pours? How easy is it to say, "I trust you, God" then?
In my experience, it's not easy. When things haven't gone my way and have been more difficult than ever expected, it's been really hard to say, "I trust that God is in this". I know it to be true in my head, for I've been taught that since I was little and in Sunday School. But how true do I believe it in my heart?
Recent experiences have really taught me how to trust God is in the storm, and I'd like to share that with you today.
1. WORSHIP IS A WEAPON
I see worship as a very powerful weapon. I was taught about a year ago something that has changed the way I worship: the devil hasn't always been the devil - first he was an angel. What do angels do? They worship God and know the power of worship. Therefore, the devil knows exactly what worship does and the power it has. I find sung worship incredibly powerful, even if I don't believe the words I'm singing with my whole heart. It's difficult, and it's something that takes a lot in you to do, but there's something very powerful in singing, "You are my Rock in times of trouble" even if right now it doesn't feel that way. Use worship as your weapon.
Who knows what you are going through more than God? Who can change how you're feeling more than God? Who in the Bible was the one to calm the storm just by speaking to it?
I love the way the James 4:7 in the Message Version talks about surrendering to God,
"so let God work his will in you. Yell a loud 'no' to the devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet 'yes' to God and He'll be there in no time... get down on your knees before the Master; it's the only way you'll get back on your feet"
I love the imagery in this verse; watching the Enemy run away with one word, and the image of God coming to your side "in no time" when you're down on your knees.
3. FOOT PRINTS IN THE SAND
When ever I consider, "is God really here?" I am always reminded of the Foot Print in the Sand poem, pictured below.
There is never a time in your life when God isn't there. If you don't see another set of footprints walking alongside you, perhaps it's because God is carrying you.
4. TURN TO SCRIPTURE
When you don't know whether God is in your storm, turn to the scripture for encouragement and truth. Has there ever been a person in the Bible that was led by God into a storm, and was left there? No.
As I was writing this blog post, I went online to Bible Gateway, and the verse of the day was Proverbs 29:25, which says,
"the fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe"
It's easy to read these verses and think, "easier said than done". It's true, it is so much easier to say, "I trust in the Lord, I am safe, I do not fear" than to actually trust in The Lord, feel safe and not fear. But, like with worship, I think there's something powerful in praying that and declaring that over yourself, and leaning on these verses for encouragement. Likewise with Deuteronomy 31:6, which says,
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, for the Lord your God goes with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you"
Again, easier said than done to be strong, courageous and fearless, and to trust that God will never leave you. However, if you do believe this truth, and you start living in this storm as if it is a truth, then just think how life changing that can be. Leaning on the Word and trusting that God will never leave you or forsake you, will perhaps be what gets you through the storm.
5. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH CHEERLEADERS
Paul was a great cheerleader. A lot of his letters are cheering people and churches on. He came alongside his friends like Timothy to encourage them and teach them.
Through a storm, cheerleaders like Paul are exactly what you need.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:11 Paul encourages us to encourage others. He writes,
"therefore encourage one another and build each other up"
Surround yourself with people who will encourage you and build you up. Surround yourself with people who will challenge you, put things in perspective, offer solutions, and tell you that they believe in you and you will make it through. Sometimes just having a new and brighter perspective can make the storm feel less rocky, and certainly a lot less lonely!
I hope this blog post has been in some way encouraging!
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!