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Listen up

August 18, 2014

Keep your ears open.

I have tinnitus. For the ear savvy among you you’ll know that means I hear noise when things are silent. For me tinnitus is a high pitched constant tone that used to drive me to distraction. What frustrated me most is it was inescapable. I couldn’t close my ears, avoid the sound or run away from it. The ironic thing is that tinnitus is often stress related, so the more frustrated I got the more noticeable the sound became, which increased my frustration, which in turn increased the sound… I have to admit at times I thought I was going mad.

Everywhere I turned nobody had any answers, I was told to ‘google’ my symptoms, don’t! Googling symptoms always leads to the worst conclusions! I went for an MRI scan, saw doctors who told me nothing could be done and could offer no explanation. I needed a specialist but it took me to push and push for someone to refer me, until finally I rang an audiology department at the local hospital and said I needed to see someone!

Enter Doctor Robinson, Audiologist and superhero extraordinaire.

Have you ever experienced that moment when you connect on a level with someone and you realise suddenly ‘finally, someone gets me!’ For me this normally happens when I meet someone I have loads in common with. But in this instance it was a doctor who had time and was prepared not to just dismiss me.

I was so relieved when she didn’t just send me away, when she offered a possible solution I could have cried! The solution involved a hearing aid, waiting a month for that hearing aid, and then giving things time to change.

Part of me didn’t relish the thought of going another month with ringing in my ears, another part of me was stupidly self conscious about the hearing aid I would have to wear. I wanted an instantaneous solution but this was going to take time.

A month later I went back to the audiologist to get my hearing aid fitted and the levels checked, it was so strange at first. Everything felt so loud, so clear. I hadn’t realised how much stress my head had been under just trying to compensate for my hearing and the added pressure of trying to concentrate, added to the frustration of asking people to repeat things constantly. The difference was amazing.

Looking back the whole experience has taught me something. We are so deaf in life sometimes. Not physically, but spiritually deaf. We fill ourselves with so much ‘noise’ that distracts us from hearing properly. We spend so much time filling ourselves with the world, technology, distractions that we damage our hearing from God. It’s so easy to find a million other instantly gratifying things to do than to risk sitting with God for a while and actually hearing him.

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It’s only when we go to God the specialist and lay the distractions before him that we realise how deaf we’ve been. Only when we put our iPads, iPods, iPhones down and put our ISelves into Gods presence that we can hear clearly. He’s our specialist, He created us, he won’t dismiss us or send us away, He has time for you. Use it.

Today’s challenge: Have a technology free hour, get back to basics with God and just listen.

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A post for the girls

August 6, 2014

You are beautiful.

Three little words that can be so empowering if we just allowed ourselves to believe them. At MKSummerCamp ’14 we talked a lot about identity and being the real us and we found it easy to identify negatives about ourselves, but more encouragingly we wrote down a good few positives. We looked at the weight we give to the negatives and thought about how we could give our positives the power rather than so readily believing the negatives people give us.

I have a challenge for you. Believe you are beautiful.

Our social groups and the media constantly bombard us with the way we should look, what to wear, what to look like, we’re constantly told we are too fat, too thin, too pale, too tanned, too tall, too small….. Stop it!

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There was a recent movement on Social media sites that asked women to go ‘bare faced’ in support of a cancer charity, to raise awareness. In honesty the amount of women who looked perfectly beautiful without any make up on was great, what wasn’t so great was the fact they couldn’t see they were beautiful. It made me question, why do people feel the need to cover up before they leave the house? When did it become bare faced cheek to walk out of the house without make up on.
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I’m not a big wearer of make up so I guess you could call me out and say ‘easier said than done Claire, you don’t understand.’ But a few weeks ago I went into the body shop with a friend and got a mini make over. The lady was lovely but sitting ‘bare faced’ in that chair I felt completely inadequate. Everyone around me had make up on and looked beautiful and there I was sat in a chair make up being troweled on my face to accentuate my features. Not five minutes earlier I hadn’t cared what my face looked like and within minutes I felt self conscious and ugly. Then as she put make up on me and told me how amazing my new look was I bought into the pitch. I believed it so much that I left with a bag full of goodies. The following week I got up a smidge earlier everyday to put on my face and get to work, a week ago I hadn’t cared and within a week I didn’t want to leave the house with a bare face. Self image had gotten under my skin.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with wearing make up, I just think if you’ve got to the point where you can’t leave the house without it then you’ve forgotten how naturally beautiful you are.

Today’s challenge: I want to challenge you to brave your beauty. Go bare faced, not for charity, but to embrace that you are made in the image if God, you are beautiful. Believe it.

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A yr of Youthwork…

August 13, 2011

In April last year I’d just got back from Kathmandu, it’d been a rough adventure but a great one, I’d learnt so much about people and places and myself too. One thing that had me thinking on the plane home was.. what was I going to do next? I’ve never been a planner really… some people, you ask them what they want to do with their life and they reel off their 10 yr plan in detail.

I’ve never been that person. I’ve always just kind of gone where the wind took me, wherever God shoved me really.

Sometime between getting home and my first week back I began praying about what happened next. Familiar territory. Alright God, what’s next… a couple of days later I got a phonecall from Dave Gregory, I already knew that he was leaving and that someone would need to take on some of the youth work but I was still surprised when he asked me.

I could go to Brazil and work with street kids and churches, I could go to Kathmandu and check out schools and hospitals and cope with electricity shortages, strikes and trying to keep out of harms way… but.. could I take on our teenagers back at LBC.

The thought of taking the Upperword Group, working with the Chill team, working with the Life group, organising Synergy and being immersed in all things Youth related was a little bit intimidating to be honest.

But God is faithful, all of the things that he’s ever called me to do that I’ve felt ill equipped to do he’s provided the things I’ve needed and he’s let me learn so much along the way! It’s been such a privilege to get to know our teenagers and young people, if you take the time out to talk to some of them you’ll realise how gifted they all are… they’re not just gifted musicians, actors, actresses, singers, readers, writers, good with technology and so many other things.

They’re also great teachers. What I love most about my job is the refreshing honesty that I’m faced with everytime our teens get together.

They’re are not afraid to ask the questions that no one else thinks to ask

How do I know when God is speaking to me?

Does prayer actually work?

Is God actually real?

What about the Holy Spirit… is he still relevant today?

They’re all about trying new things and figuring out what they believe too:

Why does God do that?

Is there more to worship than singing?

Can we change this?

Can we talk about this topic?

We want something that speaks to us…

Through prepping Sunday school and the life group I’ve had to think about a lot of different angles and questions that they might ask me and in doing so I’ve learnt so much.

This year my catchphrase has been ‘It’s all good, Gods got it covered.’

Out of all the jobs I’ve ever had being a youthworker has been the most challenging. I’ve had a fair few exhausted Elijah moments, I’ve jumped into a few situations that God has had to rescue me from.

But the high points have been amazing.

Being around when someone experiences the power of the HS for the first time,

when someone else realises that prayer works,

seeing someone baptised,

seeing young Christians evolve and grow before your eyes,

being challenged in your own faith because one of ur teenagers has been challenged too,

being present when the only thing left to do is pray for someone and seeing four or five teens jump up to pray.

I found that God linked things together perfectly, as I was challenging our young people to take on synergy and witness to their peer group back in November, I was being challenged to get up the front and speak to you guys about God. My first kids talk I don’t think I’ve ever shaken so much! Those who’ve seen me grow through Loughton know that when I was younger being up the front of the church was NOT on my agenda at all!

I’ve also been blessed to be a part of other activities too, being a part of the Family Fun day has been great, I seem to be the one in a corner with paint and paper! It’s great to be in charge of the messy stuff!

Mission rescue has been fun too! Discovering that we have a talented team of leaders and helpers who are willing to be a little bit silly in order to get a story across has been great to experience!

So what happens next?

When it was coming to the end of my contract this year I got asked by JP if I wanted to stay on for another year, I got so excited by the thought I couldn’t say no!

If I’d stopped YW in May I have the feeling It’d be like leaving the story unfinished … the decision had to go through the members meeting and as I was banished to the Kitchen whilst they made their decision I was sooooo nervous!

I realised then how much I wanted to stay and carry on working with the teens!

In a couple of weeks I’ll be heading out to Brasil and that’s exciting, but what’s even more exciting ….

Coming home and starting something new with our YP, continuing the fun we’re having at Chill, starting our Youth worship services and getting stuck into the Bible with these guys, we’ve got another Synergy coming up in February and loads of things happening in between.

One thing that I have learnt is this.. when you set out to teach teenagers, be prepared to leave knowing more than you knew before. Expect to learn things too, God is constantly reminding me that with him all things are possible, with Him the preparations get finished, the seeds get sown, the hearts get changed, the difference is made.

My job has been to try and inspire, equip and encourage these guys in their walk with God but they’ve inspired, encouraged and equipped me to do what I’m doing.

I’m convinced I have the best job in the world, and that’s all because of God … and these guys 😉

Parking ticket – Kids Talk

May 8, 2011

Who Knows what this is?

That’s right, it’s a parking ticket. On Friday I went up the city, parked the car paid and displayed and when I got back I had this big yellow ticket on my windscreen. What had happened? Well whilst I had been hanging out in Costa working on some planning and other youth work stuff, sipping my lovely iced tea and writing down ideas. My naughty pay and display ticket had slipped off the dashboard.

The ticket man came along after my pay and display ticket had fallen off the dashboard and looked into my car to check the ticket. He couldn’t see it. He thought I hadn’t paid to park, he thought I had broken the rules. So he wrote me a special ticket of his own for £25.

I got taught a big lesson on Friday, when you break the rules, even when you don’t mean to, sometimes there are big consequences.There are some rules in the Bible that God gives us called the 10 commandments. They are in the second book of the Bible called Exodus.

You know how I love quizzes!Well We’re going to see this morning (just for fun) how many of these commandments you can remember.

First of all I need two lovely volunteers to hold up this no expense spared washing line for me so that we can peg the correct answers on the line.

– 10 commandments – And so I asked the congregation to fill in the 10 commandments for me..-

Did you know something, it says in the Bible that there is only one way to heaven, in fact I have discovered there are two. Now we all know the first way – we get to heaven through Jesus whose sacrifice on the cross paid for all of our sins.But wait a minute, what if we didn’t sin!

Let’s have a look at these commandments, some of them seem a lot easier to keep than others don’t they. I mean I’m not about to go out and kill someone, that’s one commandment kept yes? I don’t think I’ve ever stolen anything, that’s two hmm wait a minute, I’ve lied before, and I’ve not been a very good daughter sometimes.

You know something, if we kept faithfully each and every single one of the commandments that God gives us right from birth until we went to heaven then we could go to heaven. We’d be perfect, blameless, without sin.But you know something else, keeping every single one of these commandments has only ever been done by one person.

That’s Jesus.Sometimes we don’t think when we’re breaking these commandments, sometimes we don’t even realise we’ve broken one. What happens when we break a commandment, well just like me getting that parking ticket our sin has a consequence.If we lived the perfect life and kept all of these commandments our tie, this washing line that connects us to God would remain un broken. But what happens when we break one of these rules.

The sin that we create cuts off our connection with God. But you know what, the story doesn’t end there. What’s the solution, once the tie is broken we can’t fit it back together again, we cant restore our connection with God on our own.

That’s where Jesus comes in. It says in the Bible that the punishment for sin is death. Jesus did something amazing on the cross. Instead of us having to die for the sins that we commit. Jesus stepped into our place and washed our sins away.

He picked up the pieces and held them together so that we could still be connected to God.

So for us, it’s true, there is only one way to God and that’s through Jesus.

JOIN THE #LOVEMONDAY REVOLUTION

May 7, 2011

I must admit I’ve never blogged about Twitter before. When it first hit the tinterweb waves I thought it was a bit of a random site. I mean, why would anyone use Twitter when Facebook seemed to do exactly what Twitter does with all the extra bells and whistles…

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Despite this I joined  – under the influence of positive peer pressure –  and since then it’s grown on me.

I’ve gradually got the hang of re-tweeting, replying, #followfridays and the clever little world of the #hashtag – I seem to be in a never ending catch up with everyone else who seems to know all this good stuff already.

So last week when a new initiative called #LoveMonday started up I was super excited to be going along with something new.

What’s #LoveMonday?

The idea is simple:  Send 3 people (or more!) a quick word of encouragement – on a Monday =)

On reading the tweeted idea I thought it was great! Three tweets later and I’d #lovedmonday good and proper. Off I went into the day feeling a little bit happy that I’d shared some encouragement with others.

Getting back to my computer later I logged in to find that I’d been #LoveMonday-ed too!

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I Felt the love! It was awesome.. I’m joining in next week to share the love with other people, in the hope that I can encourage them, make them smile and get them to pay the love forward.

JOIN THE LOVE MONDAY REVOLUTION!

Want to know more?

Check out this  guy’s website,

What are you worth?

April 10, 2011

I am back! I can’t promise that it’s for good but I can post a little post here for you to look at.

Today I had a kids talk to deliver, it’s a time old classic called what are you worth. Here’s how it went in my head… technology fail had other ideas at the event but here’s the way I’d love you to see it  =)

 

Last time I did a children’s talk I got a bit sciency, (I cracked open a bottle of photo fixing solution and used it to demo how Jesus washed away our sins =)  )

Well this time I’ve been thinking about the body and what we are all made up of. In the first book of the Bible – Genesis it says that God made man from the dust of the earth. So we were made from all of the things that can be found on the planet.

How cool is that.. we contain some of the same things that can be found in some very normal household items.

You know you get a label on the back of packets saying what ingredients are in a product, well some scientists were checking out the human body and they reckon if we had a label it’d be something like this:

We have enough carbon in us to make the middles of 9000 pencils!

We contain enough phosphorus – the red bit on a match- to make 2,200 match heads

Enough fat to make 7 bars of soap – some of us could make a little more soap:P

Enough water f0r 22.5 bottles of water, that’s the equivalent of 90 cans of coke.

And enough Iron to make just 1 2 inch nail.

So how much does all this stuff cost? How much are we really worth?

I was working all this out yesterday, trying to figure out the grand total..

How much do you think you’re worth? Read more…

Family fun and messy play!

February 26, 2011

Today was a pretty great day! It was one of our church’s family fun afternoons that are slowly becoming more frequent, I am becoming the person that gets put in the corner with a pot/bucket of paint and some paper and we see what happens. Although many would hate this super messy play I seriously have to admit I love it!

There’s no better way to interact with a young child than providing them with a fun outlet to express themselves whilst doing something they wouldn’t generally get to do at home.

Today was Welly painting! Take one pair of wellies – apply to child.  Add several buckets of different coloured paints a giant 5ft cardboard cross  and a massive sheet of plastic to protect the floor and watch whilst a Picasso style master piece is created with little feet!

The fun afternoon theme today was journey’s and our painting was connected with our journey with Jesus (that’s why we were painting a big cross). I’ve since gone back to church laminated it and put it in the hallway as a feature in the entrance way, it’ll be a nice surprise for Sunday morning.

It was adorable to see one little girl just stand in the middle of the cross and giggle as she began to make footprints on the paper. ‘Let the little children come to me,’ says Jesus, and here they were, stomping, dancing, giggling and slip sliding across the paper.. I’m tempted to say slip sliding into Jesus’ heart, but I know that they’re already there

There was so much more than painting going on at church today, we had lego car making, pingpong ball racing, playdough creating, packed lunch making, remote control car racing, mario karting, air hockey gaming, car cake creations, treasure island, facepainting…. and so much more.

It was great that the family fun day was a two fold thing, firstly it brought families into the church to have fun. Secondly it gave the church as a family a chance to work together into making a really special day.

The greatest thing, God was in it all =)