Thursday, January 22, 2009
When I was younger, I had very few friends and was a huge geek.
Its ok, I dont need your sympathy, in fact Im sure some of you will say little has changed. But until my teenage years, my Saturday's were spent in the library getting as many books as I could carry and then the rest of the week, every spare minute would be spent consuming the books I'd got and disappearing into other worlds. I loved almost all kinds of fiction from "babysitters club" to "goosebumps" and "sweet valley high" (I already acknowledged I was a geek!)
This week, for the first time in years I found a book that gripped me to read like I used to. Since last Friday I've been unable to put this book down (one night I read til gone midnight...on a work night...this is almost unheard of for me)
Redeeming love tell the biblical story of Hosea through a novel set in America in the 1800's. "Angel" is sold into prostitution at the age of 8. She experiences unspeakable horrors and comes to believe that prostitution is all she is good for. Then God speaks to farmer Michael Hosea and tells him to marry Angel. Michael is a good upstanding man and can't understand why God would ask that of him. If he doesn't understand why he's marrying her, Angel certainly doesn't. She has put up so many barriers and learned not to trust men at all, so it is a difficult journey, but Michaels unwavering commitment to Angel begins to soften her. Scared of how she is feeling, she returns to prostitution, but once again Michael comes to rescue her. Eventually, Angel learns to love Michael. However, due to some of the awful things done to her as a child, Angel is unable to have children, and seeing how much Michael wants a family, she runs away again. This time, though, instead of returning to prostitution, she finds God, and opens a "safe house" for prostitutes who want to make their lives right and teaches them life skills to start again. Eventually, Angel learns that Michael is, 3 years on, still desperately unhappy without her, so Angel returns to him, knowing now that this is what God wanted all along.
Francine Rivers' writing is beautiful and really gripping. I literally couldn't put this book down. I dont usually like religious novels as I have often found them to be a little twee, but this certainly wasn't. I laughed at some bits and cried at others (on the tube, SO embarassing).
Of course, the story of Hosea in the bible is supposed to signify Gods love for Israel, despite the nations constant failure to live in a God honouring way. While reading a novel it is easy sometimes to forget that, but as I sat and read Hosea from the bible this morning, it was certainly brought to me in a new way as I related it to this story that I have so enjoyed to the love that God has for his people. Suddenly I was moved by it on a whole other level and God spoke to me about his love for me.
So now I've bought her next book off Amazon for the plane :-)
Monday, January 19, 2009
Since Thursday morning last week, my trusty suitcase and I have been to...
Whitham, Leeds, Silsden, Ilkley, Huddersfield (long tongue scrog lane!!), Birstall (whoop), Morley and Scarborough...phew.
Highlights of the trip include
1) Roast Dinner and Balderdash at Sharon and Korn's.
2) Coffees and important chats in Starbucks
3)Getting my hair cut by my old (and favourite) hairdresser
4)Hula hooping and ski jumping on the wii fit at Jill and Chris' house
5) Cow and Calf rocks and Emma's amazing photography skills (!) and a drive from Huddersfield to Birstall...via Barnsley (only Emma could do it)
6) A wicked chat with Em and Jen about...well...everything
7) an inappropriate lunch invitation
8) Getting to Morley and being able to sit with Mrs Raine, one of my favourite all time people.
9) Hanging out with Ben and his housemates (check out http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=MlghJ97vOkI and http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=C6j3tobhiuw Ben's the drummer and the other band members are his housemates/housemates girlfriend. The video is a collaboration with some media students who made the video and performance students who play the two leads in the video)
10) Getting a free train ride (instead of a hideously long bus journey) home :-)
All in all a lovely weekend.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Ben and Sarah have been my friends for a LONG time (actually, ten years this year which is INSANE!!!) and they really are the best kind of friends you could have. Last night I had a HORRIBLE night, one of those that makes you feel like you can't breathe and you dont know what to do...so I rang Sarah who's immediate response was "Of course you can come round, come right now, stay if you want to...do you need food?" and who's less immediate but equally wonderful response was to buy me chocolate biscuits and Percy Pigs for when I was at their house. They're the kind of friends you can count on AND this year I get to be a bridesmaid at their wedding which is SOOOOO exciting and a huge priviledge.
Maff is now the director of homelessness services for The Salvation Army, and as such is one of my "team" at THQ.
Today I read an article about him and learned not only about the above transplant story but also that Maff himself was homeless for 9 months after his own business failed. That was what stirred him to go to work for crisis once he was back on his feet, and later to go on to work for the government before ending up with the army.
Prior to today he'd just been the guy who runs in and out of the office like a nutter and never stops for breath (although always a nice guy even when mocking my musical tastes or shoe advice)...today I am impressed (and amused by the video below)
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
This week, the Salvation Army became a consortium member of the Get Fair campaign.
During the time I was looking at this stuff, I was really moved and challenged by the statistics about poverty, and specifically about child poverty. I have begun to ask some big questions about what I can do to make a difference. Im glad that the Salvation Army has signed up to this, but am challenged to do more as an individual. When 30% of children are living in Poverty, then as a christian, and a human being, I have to feel called to do something. During my time at Alove, I was constantly challenged about God's heart for the poor and what my response to that is, now more than ever, I feel that God is creating in me a heart for the poor, and Im continuing to follow his direction for how that will manifest itself in my choices, my future, my lifestyle.
Check out www.getfair.org.uk and watch this space
Friday, January 09, 2009
- A little annoyed at the lack of power at her house
- glad to have found a shower at THQ and to be all clean
- Excited about Melbourne
- Fed up of the cold
- Overbooking herself in an attempt to see everyone in the next 2 weeks
- Chuffed to bits with the blue cheese
- In the doghouse
- Excited about "Bride wars" and quality Imogen time tonight
- Tired and a little bruised (and likely to sue...)
- Reading a new book
- Sad not to be at Essential1 training this week, missing you guys
- Thinking of her parents today and hoping it's all going well.
- Applying for jobs
- Excited to catch up on Africa stories with the returning traveller tomorrow
- Amused at the "who ate all the sweets?!" conversation
- shredding for Great Britain
- Glad it's nearly the weekend
- A newly converted fan of One Tree Hill (despite the remarkably predicatable "uplifting speech" in each episode)
- Looking forward already to going northwards next weekend and already salivating at the thought of chips with gravy on Scarborough beach with Ben
- Wanting to bake brownies...inspired by Claire yesterday
- missing facebook statuses and just needed to get that off my chest
Thursday, January 08, 2009
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
That all combined with having been away for a fair few of the weekends, I have ended up being a bit of a "mystery worshipper" (see www.shipoffools.com). I have, in the last few months visited 5 Salvation Army's, 2 "mega churches," one local baptist church and one new(ish) plant. Not all in London. And, without mentioning names of churches, I have discovered the following
1) I like knowing the songs used in worship. I suspect this is the trad SA side of me fighting it's way out, but I do like a little bit of familiarity. I visited one church where I knew none of the songs, and I found it hard to engage with the worship because I felt self conscious and worried about singing the wrong bit in the wrong place.
2) I am very conscious of who Im with when I go to church, and this affects my experience. I know it shouldn't, but it does. I visited these churches with different people, friends, family, christians, people who arent so sure what they think/believe, people who've been away from their church for a good few months and needed someone to go with them and hold their hand (and on occasion pass tissues, you know who you are ;-)) and I definitely respond differently to worship according to who I'm with.
3)I flinch when churches give a little talk before the offering and brace myself against prosperity teaching
4)When aforementioned prosperity teaching is present, I have quite the inclination to walk out...although I never have...yet
5)Compared to some places I've been, my parents do flippin awesome sermons. Something which I have perhaps taken for granted. One of my Salvation Army visits which falls just out of the mystery worshipper time bracket heard my Mum preach the best I've EVER heard her and I was so proud to discover that alot of the congregation agreed with me on that.
6)I maybe have a pride issue.
7)I like to "boogy" in church and this makes some people (TIM) look at me funny. It also doesnt go down at all well in some SA meetings...
8)I guess one of my most important discoveries is that God reaches different people in different ways. I know that seems obvious, but it was special for me to experience God in a mega church context and then in a small school hall with just a few people. Its one thing to know that stuff and another to experience it.
9)and finally and probably most importantly, I discovered that I dont do well with different churches every week. In fact, I need church family, and I miss it. The most special experience I had in all of this was going back to the church I grew up in. Being surrounded by people who know me, really know me, and who love me was so important and enabled me to come to God in a really honest and secure place. It was a really special day and so moving. The church I was at is one that I've certainly had my issues with over the years, but the people there are my spiritual family, without doubt, and they have seen and loved the Webbs through some tough times and some flippin awesome times. So I now know that I need to find that sense of "family" somewhere. Obviously the next few months will see more upheaval and change and possibly finding a regular church is a good few months away, but Im really aware now that I need it. This is a good thing.I am learning :-)