Just Dipping my Toes in the Water

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Do you ever feel as if you are not living life fully? That there is so much more available, but you are not quite getting it.

Do you feel like you are just dipping your toes in the water when there is a whole ocean to dive into?

You don’t mind it in the shallow end, there is no risk, it is keeping your toes cool… And you’re not going to ruin your hair.

But from where you are sitting you can see other people, jumping right in, getting covered in the water. Fully experiencing all that it has to offer. They don’t care about the risks and they don’t worry about their hair. They are in the deep end and loving it.

Sometimes I feel like this, like there is so much more on offer, that I am not quite taking advantage of. That there are things that I am not experiencing that I should.

Maybe because I am afraid. Taking risks can be scary. Living life in the deep end takes courage, but how much life is there in the shallows.

Sometimes I don’t try that hard at things for worry of messing up; sometimes I don’t put myself out there for risk of rejection; sometimes I don’t take up the opportunities that come my way for fear of failure.

I don’t use all the skills that God has given me and I don’t make the most of the opportunities that he has given me. I don’t step out in faith.

I do it with this blog, I don’t put in as much effort as I could, worried that if I try my hardest my words will still go unread. I can do it in friendships, not calling people when I know I should in case I annoy them. I live a life of fear, a life in the shallow end, in so many areas of life. But God doesn’t want this.

God calls us to live life abundantly.

People think that Christianity means giving up, living less. They focus too much on the sacrifice and not enough on the blessing.

 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)

Life without God cannot ever be a full life. Without God we cannot know true love, true joy or true peace. We cannot live an abundant life without him. He is the one who gives life. The only life worth living is through him.

When you reach your last days do you want to look back and think I wish I had done more, I wish I had lived more and loved more or do you want to look back at a life lived abundantly. A life full of adventure.

I know which one I would choose.

 

 

 

New Christian Fiction: Summer 2016

As you may have guessed, I am a prolific reader, and I love sharing book recommendations with others. I’ve got some really great ones to share from the last few weeks:

cover80592-mediumThe Ringmaster’s Wife by Kristy Cambron

A lovely story of two women who find there lives entwined in circus life. One an ordinary girl from America, the other, an English noble woman from Yorkshire.
I loved the exciting setting of this sweet tale. It was interesting picking up many facts about circus life. It reminded me of a slightly less gritty version of water for elephants. Whenever I set this book down I couldn’t wait to pick it back up again and return to the circus.
The faith element was there throughout the story although it definitely wasn’t shoved down your throat. I finished the book with a definite feeling of hope, despite the hardships so many of the characters faced.

cover83996-mediumThe Things We Knew by Catherine West

An intense family drama which reveals  new secrets on almost every page.
The highlight of this book for me was the characters, I adored the main character Lynnie, and the supporting characters were all realistically drawn. The author managed to make you love them, even when they were doing the most stupid things.
This is one of those books where you don’t want to give too much of the plot away: Lets just say it centres around a possible murder, old and new family secrets and real love. If any of those sound interesting to you then this book is definitely worth your time.

 

cover82516-mediumInto the Free by Julie Cantrell

This was such a sad story, seriously, I was fighting back tears the whole way through, and I’m not someone who often cries at stories.
Just when you think that thin

 

gs can’t get any worse for young Millie, the main character, they do. And then they get worse and worse.
And yet, despite all the tragedy, there is hope. And despite all the sadness, I wanted to keep on reading.
I would recommend this book, but not if you’re already feeling down, as it might just push you over the edges. Even so  this is one of the best books I have read in a long time, I went straight on the read the sequel, When Mountains Move, which is also an amazing story.

Thanks for sticking with me until the end. Are there any other titles you would recommend. (I love receiving recommendations as well as giving them!)

 

 

How NOT to Read the Bible

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Reading the bible is, in fact, really simple. But I am just so good at making it complicated! Here are just a few of the ways I have managed to do that.

Thinking I need all the right equipment. Bible journaling seems to be the real in thing at the moment. All the cool kids on Instagram are doing it. (If you don’t know what it is search bible journaling on Pinterest, it’s definitely worth a look) Of course I you can’t possibly do this until you have the perfect new bible with the extra wide margins; a full range of colouring pencils and sharpies; some of that ridiculously overpriced patterned sello-tape and maybe some stickers, glitter and a set of stamps.

Now I really think this is a great idea, one that I want to try my very un-artistic hand at, and one that I believe really will help people engage in reading the bible. But do we really need all that stuff to be able to read the bible. Can’t we just pick it up and read? After all, to read the bible, all we really need is the bible!

Sticking with a bible reading plan or devotional book, just because I feel bad for quitting. How many times have I done this one! And then just end up getting bored and wanting to give up. News flash! Reading the bible should be fun! Do it how you want to do it. One reading plan or devo might work for a while. But then it just becomes samey. Don’t be afraid to try something new, or even do something different each day of the week. Maybe one day use a devotional, one day go back over a favourite bible verse and the next write out a passage. Just make sure you choose to do it in a way that you find interesting.

Leaving reading the bible until last thing at night. (And then just reading a Psalm so I can tick it of my list.) Oh this is a bad idea, a bad, bad idea. But this is probably the one I am the most guilty of. somehow reading the bible gets pushed to the last thing at night, when I’m too tired to even watch telly. I know I can’t get much out of reading it at that time of day, when I am at my least productive, but yet I still do it!

Why don’t I realise that forcing myself to read the bible when my eyes are shutting just makes it more difficult? I don’t think I’m ever going to be someone who can get up and do it first thing in the morning. But I really do need to find a better time to do it, give it the attention that it deserves. to give God the attention he deserves.

At the end of the day, we just need to be reading the bible, lets not over complicate something so simple. Lets not make something that should be fun into a chore. And lets not be made to feel guilty if our way is different to any one else’s.

 

 

Living with Uncertainty

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Although I have barely any understanding of politics, I think it’s fairly safe to say that the last month or so has been a pretty uncertain time. Britain left the EU and the whole countries leadership has completely changed.

Now my generation are more worried than ever about holding onto a job and ever being able to afford to buy a house. This is probably a period of history our grandkids will be learning about for their GCSE’s!

The last month or so has been pretty uncertain for Joe and I as well. We have had to leave our flat, and live with various members of our families. Because of this I have had to leave my job, and I haven’t been able to find a new one yet! I have no idea where we will be living or what I will be doing a couple of months from now, let alone a whole year from now.

We are pretty unsure what the future will hold for us. But despite, at times over the last month or so, not knowing where we will be sleeping that night, I have seen God’s provision.

It’s so easy for me to forget all that he has provided for me in the past. How he has always provided me with a job when I have needed it, friends, and a place to live.

Deep down, despite my little worries, despite the tears I have cried and the anger I have felt I know that he will keep on providing for us. I know that he has a plan for our lives.

It’s so easy for us to worry about our futures, especially when we hear words like recession and university fees and house prices being repeated all the time. It’s easy to forget that God is in control. It’s easy to forget how much he has blessed us and how much he is still blessing us and how well off we truly are.

Despite all the changes that are going on around us there is one thing we know for certain. That God is with us and he loves us and that he will never change.

New Biblical Fiction Summer 2016

I was unsure about reading biblical fiction. After all is it really even biblical to mess around with bible stories?

For this reason I began reading these books with some trepidation, looking our for misinterpretations of scripture. But although I didn’t agree with everything these authors wrote, I found that reading these books gave me a greater understanding of the stories they were based on and left me reaching for my bible.

Yes, some artistic licence had been used, but reading these books got me excited about the bible stories in a new way and truly blessed me. I am sharing these reviews as  I am certain they will bless other women as well.

 

cover80016-mediumLand of Silence by Tessa Afshar

I’ve read the story of Jesus healing the woman who suffered from the disease of the blood so many times. But I never really  thought about the life of the woman Jesus healed, or how deeply this illness would have affected her.
How she would not be able to simply hug her friends, how people would be considered unclean after sitting in the same chair as her, how she would have to have become such an outcast.
This story, although a work of fiction, really opened my eyes to the life that woman might have led, and the huge impact Jesus restoring would have had on her life, not only healing her physically. (like I had previously imagined) but restoring her dignity, and in the process, giving her a whole knew life as well.
I highly recommend this, the story of Elianna, a tale of heartbreak and hope, to anyone. Read it and be reminded how Jesus transforms lives if we just take a risk and reach out to him.

cover79750-mediumCounted with the Connilyn Cossette

This book started out brilliantly, it was so interesting reading about the plagues from the point of view of an Egyptian slave girl, Kiya.
This book really made me think about the story in a new light, the faith of the Hebrews and the fear that must have been running through the hearts of the Egyptians as  all they had worked for fade away.
This part of the story was definitely the strongest for me.  The second half, focused on the Exodus, was fun to read, but became more of a romance set against the backdrop of history, it was still interesting, but just not as good as the first half.
I would definitely recommend this book, for the interesting point of view, and the way it may me think about a very familiar story in a new way.

Have you ever  read any biblical fiction? Are there any books you would recommend?

These books were both received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

7 Things that Annoy Me

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There are definitely a lot more than 7 things I get annoyed by, but I thought it was a good place to start. After all, 7 is a biblical number.

Actual grown up adults saying words like ickle and hospickle, especially in front of children. Its not cute or clever, and you are teaching those children really bad habits! (You can add people who cant seem to grasp the difference between was and were to this one as well.)

Family photos in bathrooms. No, I don’t need your Great Aunt watching me do my business!

Feeling the pressure to open plastic bags in supermarkets. Although, I don’t have to worry about that one so much anymore!

Having to wait for more than three minutes for a bus. Because living in a huge city, I really shouldn’t have to, should I?

People who moan about their kids on Facebook. There are so many people who would love to be blessed in that way. Please don’t take it for granted.

Animal lovers. Not the animals but the people who are overly attached to them, and think you should be too.. No. I don’t want your filthy dog jumping on me. And I really  don’t care if it’s just trying to be friendly.

When I run out of data on my phone. Because I obviously really, really need to have access to face book at all times!

I’m sure that we can all come up with lists like this. I know I love to moan, about the weather, about my job, about where I live, and so many other things. But it’s pathetic, really, when we are so blessed.

As Christians we have a responsibility to stop whinging about our coffee being too cold and open our eyes to the problems around the world.

Problems such as these:

There are an estimated 27 million slaves in the world today.

And the average age of a woman being trafficked is just 12-14 years.

1.2 billion people have to live on less than $1.25 a day.

757 million adults  don’t have basic literacy. Two-thirds (63 percent) are women.

When giving birth, more than half of mothers and babies in developing countries don’t receive skilled care.

Over 1.5 billion people live in countries that are impacted by conflict.

Over 40% of the world’s people groups have no  community of Christians able to spread the gospel to the rest of their group.

Facts taken from:

1 &2 http://www.live58.org/10-facts-about-human-trafficking-everyone-should-know

3-6 http://www.compassion.com/poverty/health.htm

7 https://joshuaproject.net/resources/articles/has_everyone_heard

 

What Christians can Learn from Muslims during Ramadan

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In case you hadn’t noticed, we are now in the Muslim month of Ramadan.A fact which is hard for me to miss, living in East London, in one of the most diverse boroughs in the country. All over the world Muslims are currently fasting. From sunrise to sunset. Everyday.

And they take it seriously. I remember, when I was in secondary school, after having to run cross country in PE, one of my friends momentarily forgot that she was fasting and gulped down some water from the fountain. She had to repeat her fast later on in the year.

Even kids are excited to be involved in it. The school where I currently work actually had to send out letters saying that children, other than the ones in year six, are not allowed to fast in school, due to health and safety.

And I think there is a lot, as Christians, we can learn from Muslims during this month. After all if they can fast for their God during the hours of daylight (which by the way, at the moment, is between 4:45 am and 9:15 pm) then why can’t we do this for our God? If we truly believe he is the one true God, why wouldn’t we want to do this for him?. Why does it look like we don’t take our faith as seriously as they do?

In the bible fasting isn’t an option, it’s an expectation. Matthew 6:16 states:

When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full

Notice, Jesus doesn’t say if you fast but when you fast. It is something he has always expected us to do.

So why do so many Christians not fast. Why don’t I fast?

I know that I should. I know that it will draw me closer to God, I know that it is an important spiritual discipline. But yet, I don’t take it as seriously as prayer, or bible reading, or going to church.

And that plain and simple isn’t right. It’s something I need to address. Who cares if my stomach rumbles and embarrasses me, fasting is something that is expected. After all if Muslims can do it, why can’t we?

Don’t get me wrong, I am so, so, unbelievably thankful that we live under grace and not law. I am thankful that the bible doesn’t tell me when or how, precisely, we should fast. (Although sometimes I think that would make doing it easier!) I am thankful that if I attempt to fast and mess it up I won’t have to repeat it like my thirteen year old friend did. And most of all, I am thankful that I don’t have to fast to earn my salvation.

But really, if we love God, we should want to do this for him. We should want to deny ourself earthly things so we can better understand heavenly things. We should want to know what hunger is so we can more deeply hunger for God, and understand the hunger that thousands around the world face.

We should be as excited about fasting as the seven year olds in my class are, because a lot of them cant wait to be old enough to join their parents in this.

If you are interested in reading more about the Christian view on fasting, I highly recommend reading Richard Foster’s book A Celebration of Discipline.