Sunday, 20 August 2017

21 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Turned 21

In a couple of weeks I'll be turning 22, as I reflect on the past year I remember approaching 21 and thinking that this was it - the big 2-1; I was officially an adult, I had no excuses, this was the year my life would start taking shape. Things would be different this year - this year would be the year I would grow in my faith, work harder in university, finally get in shape, meet the perfect guy and all would be well as I stepped into the world of official "adulting".

Now, as I look back I can see I was maybe a little naive to think that all that would happen just because it was now legal for me to get a pilot's licence or drink in America. Instead, I look back on 21 with a mixed bag of emotions - it has been a great year and I did do a few of the things I mentioned I wanted to - but not all of them and by the end of this year, I certainly don't feel like my life is all together - in fact, some parts feel more disorganised and confusing than ever before. Instead, if I were to go back to this time last year here's a list of 21 Things I wish I knew before I turned 21.

21 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Turned 21

1. It's okay to make mistakes.
You're human, you are going to make them. As long as you learn from them, it's okay to make them.
2. Relationships won't always be perfect - and that's perfectly fine.
I'm still struggling with this one, we're all imperfect people with imperfect relationships - show yourself and others a little bit of grace.
3. Be kind to your parents.
They are your biggest support and biggest blessing, love them, honour them.
4. Routines are good.
5. Exercise isn't actually that bad - in fact it can be pretty fun.
6. Your relationship status doesn't define your worth.
7. Read more.
(Subnote: you should have read Harry Potter 15 years ago, how did it take you until you were 21?!)
8. Packed lunches are the best.
They are cheap, healthier and did I mention cheaper - you are a student!
9. You're not going to have your life figured out at 21 - but guess what? No one else has either!
10. Comparison is the thief of joy.
- Repeat it over and over!
11. Skyscanner is a dangerous but wonderful thing.
- Take advantage of it.
12. Take lots of pictures.
13. Enjoy the long walks to university.
You won't always have them or the company.
14. Stop buying take out coffee - bring your own!
The canteen is a lot richer because I did not do this.
15. Learn how to budget.
I could have been a lot richer, had I learnt this.
16. Don't take life too seriously.
17. Work hard.
Hard work pays off, who knew?
18. You're friends are amazing.
When your whole world feels like it's falling apart - they are always there. You are blessed!
19. Gratitude is the best attitude.
You have been blessed beyond your wildest dreams.
20. Being selfless isn't thinking less of yourself - it's thinking about yourself less.
Be selfless.
21. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, / and do not lean on your own understanding. / In all your ways acknowledge him, / and he will make straight your paths." Proverbs 3 v 5-6

This was my prayer for this year, so I guess I did know this - but it's always good to be reminded.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

"I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians" - Ghandi

I can't help but feel there's something wrong with my faith. 

I remember reading a quote from Ghandi, 

That quote hit me hard.

We live our lives happily calling ourselves 'Christians' when, in fact, we don't do very much to warrant that title.
The title 'Christian' wasn't even created by the first followers of Jesus, it was created by those around them who saw how they lived.

Acts 4:32-35

32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. 

They were of one heart and soul? There was not a needy person among them?

If one of the first believers were to walk into a church today would they even recognise the people they were meeting as brothers and sisters in Christ? Would they feel that we were of one heart and soul? I don't know.

Disunity has been so widespread in the Church, self-righteous religion as slowly crept in to believer's lives and as all this has infiltrated the Body, following Jesus has became more of a saying of the Church, rather than an action.

Putting this all down in words really breaks my heart because I'm not saying this as an outsider like Ghandi, I'm saying this as a member of the body of Christ and as I say it - I know that I'm part of the problem. So often I can get caught up in the things of this world. On selfish desires and self-righteous thoughts. Thoughts that create actions that are so far removed from being the Christ-like disciple Jesus has called me to be.

What was different about those first believers? What did they have that made them so generous and loving? They had a personal relationship with Jesus, they had the power Holy Spirit within them, and they knew the love and grace of God. All these things are still offered to me - to all of us who know Jesus as our Saviour.

Something I am learning is the only way to change these problems in the Church is, number one - by being the change you want to see in it. By committing yourself to the Lord in prayer and in fellowship. With 12 disciples committed to the Lord and empowered by the Holy Spirit, God changed the history of the world. 
Who's to say with 12 people in your Church, in your Small Group, committed in to the Lord and empowered by the same Holy Spirit that God can't completely revive the Church? His Body?

However, at the end of the day. Faith isn't always simple, sometimes we mess up and get caught up in sin however what's so amazing about our faith is we that have a Saviour who pours grace upon grace on us when we do. So Ghandi, you might not like us and sometimes us Christians don't like ourselves either, but you know what? Our Christ loves us.

And that's pretty amazing.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

10 Books Every Christian Woman Should Read

I always loved reading but for the first few years after becoming a Christian, I never really thought about reading Christian books - it's really only been the past couple of years that I have start reading them; now I have a constant stack of Christian books to read that just keeps growing!

Here's a few I've read over the past few years that have really blessed me and that I feel every Christian woman should read!

1. Redeeming Love - Francine Rivers

This was probably the first Christian book that I finished. I had started so many Christian books but towards the middle I always found I was so overwhelmed by the doctrines and the elaborate language that I gave up. This book however was a story, a story of God's redeeming love, inspired by the book of Hosea, it was so simple yet so powerful.  

2. Crazy Love - Francis Chan

Lukewarm Christian this book is for you. 
Allow this book to remind you of God's overwhelming love for you, and once you truly grasp that God loves you with an overwhelming, relentless love how can you ever be lukewarm again? Chan's book reminds us that God's Word is real, so real and that we need to take it seriously. Being a follower of Jesus isn't easy, in the Word it tells us that there is going to be suffering and pain but it is so worth it. 

3. Love Does - Bob Goff

There's a bit of a trend here isn't there? Love is so important!
If you've ever felt a little bogged down with rules and regulations of our faith in an ordinary world, this book is for you. It's a refreshing reminder that our faith is so not about do's and don't's - our faith is a love story. 
What I loved most about this book is how Bob has filled it with little stories about his life, seemingly ordinary experiences have extraordinary results when you show God's love to people. From having your children invited to dine with world rulers, to freeing innocent children from prisons - all these things start with one simple ingredient - love and the rest simply follows because as Bob says, love does. 

4. Kisses from Katie - Katie Davis

Christian women, read this book and be inspired. God calls us all to radical obedience, some like Katie, to the African mission field or some to the mission field outside our front door. I read this book around the same age Katie left to Uganda, and it tugged on all my missionary heart strings; after closing the book I was ready to pack up my bag and leave, ready to show God's love to the nations. Now looking back, I realise this book isn't about that, it's about laying down your life fully to God wherever he places you, showing love and compassion to everyone despite the worldly things it may cost you. 
I love this book and would encourage you all to read it. In fact, I loved it so much that after I read it on my Kindle I bought a physical copy just so I could lend it to people. 

5. The Atonement Child - Francine Rivers

A simply written novel with a heart wrenching message. Read it, cry with it and speak about it. 
Rape and abortion happen. Christian women, our faith is not clean and straightforward, it's messy. We are all broken people who can be restored to a faithful God who heals.

6. The Heavenly Man - Brother Yun

God's church is alive around the whole world. He's moving and bringing more people to Him, in the most amazing ways - ways we the western world can not imagine. Reading this book was like reading about the Church that Acts talks about. 
Christian women, so many of us live a life of so much comfort sometimes it's hard to see God beyond the comfort. But God doesn't call us to be comfortable. This book deeply convicted me, Brother Yun went through years of worldly misery and unimaginable pain in the name of Jesus - yet I struggle to stutter out to my neighbour that I love Jesus in fear of rejection or the dreaded "And she says shes a Christian...". 
Please read this book and remember those who are being persecuted in the name of Jesus and do not fear being persecuted yourself. We serve a powerful God who is worth it all.

7. 7 : An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess  - Jen Hatmaker

If you've ever felt overwhelmed by excess this book is for you! 
From food to fashion, Jen goes through 7 areas of her life in this book and simplifies them. We all struggle with excess in our life whether it's fiance or food. When it says in the Bible to trust God, it really means that so when we put all faith in money, or when we find comfort in food - we're distancing ourselves from God. Allow this book to challenge you and make you question what areas in your life you be holding onto instead of trusting in God.

8.Desiring God - John Piper

This is a book that I've wanted to read for a while. I started listening to John Piper's sermons a few years ago, they were so rich in Scripture and you could really tell he just loved the Lord and His Word. So I finally got this book a month ago, and oh wow, it's deep - I have to admit I still haven't finished it but in the first few pages there was more wisdom that in whole books I've read. So I'd really encourage you to read it, it's not a book you're going to finish in a day or a week. It's a book to meditate on. I hope it speaks to you as much as it has to me so far!

9. Praying for Your Future Husband - Robin Jones Gunn and Tricia Goyer

When I first heard the title of this book I thought, "Well that's a bit presumptuous isn't it?!"
And perhaps I was right, God calls some of us to remain single - but the majority of us will get married at sometime in our lives, so why not start preparing ourselves now?
Although the premise of this book is seemingly praying for your future husband, the most poignant message for me was to "stop looking for the one, and start preparing yourself to be the one". It seems to be directed at quite a young female audience but I feel the truths apply to those at any age. Young girls, mothers and grandmothers - read it and preach it!

10.  The Bible

Last but not least - in fact the most important of all! I'm putting this as number 10 because despite how great any of these books are I'm sure they all have flaws however, God's word is infallible. So if there is anything your spirit feels concerned about in these books check it with the Bible - if it's not in the Bible, discard it. These books are meant to be read along side the Word, they are never meant to replace it.

I hope these books bless you as much as they have me!

What books do you think every Christian woman should read? Are there any I have felt out? I'm sure there are! Feel free to leave a comment below. :)