Wednesday, 21 December 2011


I knew from the moment I received the acceptance email for Soul61 that it would mean change. I knew I'd be broken and remade, my mentality and morals would change, my perspective would change, my lifestyle, my thoughts and dreams. I knew there'd be a shift in friendships and relationships, in my views and opinions. I knew that God would be re-shaping and re-moulding me, into the person He wants me to be; nobody else, just Him. I was, and still am, willing to let Him change me.
What I didn't think was, that it would be immediate. In fact, I never realised. I didn't notice change, I've been completely oblivious! Coming home has shone a very bright light on the different ways in which God has changed me.

Being caught up in the whirlwind of Explore, Soul Survivor and Soul61, meant that I slightly lost focus on prioritising God above all else. Not cool. I mentioned before, that I'd been struggling spending time on my own with God, and that has changed, but not dramatically. Also, not cool. Don't assume that because you're working in a church, studying Theology, being involved in worship, praying for others and going to three services a week that your relationship with God is fine. In my experience it's not. It has got better, but it's certainly not where I want it to be.
For a while, I was spending no time with God whatsoever, then I chose to set my alarm an hour and a half before I had to leave, so I could spend about 45 minutes with Him. That worked for all of about 3 days. I started to get very tired and couldn't get out of bed. I came down with a very nasty flu, spend a week in bed, asleep and did not very much else. I felt so guilty that I just turned my alarm off and went back to sleep, so I prayed about it, and asked God to help me with it; God gave me was Psalm 127, in which it says "God gives rest to those He loves".
Immediately, I no longer felt guilty, but felt God say to me, "I know your heart Leah, I know you want to get up and pray and read my Word, but you need to rest". Thank goodness! I don't have flu anymore, just a cold, so I need to be disciplined and get into a routine before I go back to Watford.

I've noticed that every time I'm doing something to waste time; reading blogs, watching TV or opening the fridge, God just whispers to me. Like He's saying, 'Hey, how about me?'. I know it has to happen, the penny has dropped, I just have to do it now! Before Soul61, I just went about my day, praying continually throughout the day, mostly when I was in the car by myself, I would read my Bible In One Year as I woke up and that was it. There was no heartfelt prayer or me delving into scripture in there, yes, I had conversation and constantly chatted with God, which I think is important, but I never spent time with Him. There's one change.
I've found that any bad, mean, spiteful or hurtful language is like alarm bells in my head. I never noticed it before. I don't even mean swearing, just remarks made about how 'Stupid she is to cut me up', or 'What an idiot'. It's just not necessary; the person can't hear it, it makes you even more angry and how about James 3:10? "Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brother, this should not be". :)
I'm bored. Prior to Soul61, I was working or at home, bored. But at Soul Survivor, it's chock-a-block, we're getting teaching, serving and working, when we have time off, everyone is around you. You're never bored. But here, I don't know what to do with myself! I want to go to church, I want to worship, to pray, to learn and serve. I'm craving church life and family!

They might only be little changes, but I've been home for two days, I'm pretty sure over my two weeks off, God will reveal some more changes in me.


Monday, 19 December 2011

On home turf

I have arrived home!

Man, it feels good to be home, but also slightly strange. I feel a little lost; I can't wander into another flat, think about what to cook, expect my lovely flat mates home or stare at my huge pile of washing. Well that's a lie, the pile of washing on my bedroom floor is monstrous! I've cuddled my cats and family, but I feel so strange without Hannah and Be. They're wonderful, and I love them a lot.
Already, it's easy to say we are like a big, 39 strong family. The community between us and the huge amount of love we have for each other is amazing. So leaving that behind for two weeks does feel odd. But I'm here, with my incredible family, home church and cats. Never far from God either.

I can eat good food, sleep in my lush bed, shower without thinking someone would walk in on me and drive! It's going to be a great two weeks!

God has done so much the past two and a half months; I did a talk, I lead a song, I auditioned, I've been broke and remade, I am a book acting as a doorstop, I've fallen in love with God and met my best friends and family. I feel so grateful to Him for sending me on a journey, a whirlwind journey, where I'm in His perfect plan. I still cannot get my mind round that.

Amongst all the temporary goodbyes, there was one that was permanent and a little sad. Tom, our lovely flat mate is currently flying back to New Zealand to go home. It was a pleasure getting to know him and he welcomed us well and kept us laughing a lot! Prayers for a safe and comfortable trip! See you in the summer Tom! :)

For now, I need a cuppa', and we have milk that's not off! Wahoo!


Monday, 12 December 2011

Festivities and Forgiveness

In my flat, we have a small Christmas tree, some snowflakes in the windows and of course, advent calendars. Propped up against the window, underneath some snowflakes, we have three idly waiting to be opened every couple of days.

The countdown to Christmas has well and truly taken siege, the shops are packed with frantic mothers buying Christmas gifts, the decorations are up all over the place, and Watford has gotten right into the festivities. As have Soul Survivor and Explore; both boasting 12ft Christmas trees, baubles and fairy lights, mulled wine and carols taking place and Christmas gifs ideas coming out of their ears. We're in a church and the focus of course is Jesus' birth. But for everyone else, and even ourselves, sometimes the excitement has built a tainted picture of what Christmas is. We're writing Christmas lists, trying to out-shine our decorations to our next door neighbors, buying the best possible gift for someone who has everything and I'm sure you're wearing your Christmas jumper right now! Christmas is about giving and receiving right? Wrong, it's Jesus' birthday! Has anybody thought about what He'd like? What's on His Christmas list? Because I'm sure it's not an Xbox.
As Christians we should be celebrating Jesus, not ourselves. Our Christmas traditions should be different to others, we should be leaking the radiant love of God at Christmas; giving without expecting to receive, helping our neighbors put up their lights, inviting the old lady from across the road in for some mince pies and telling your family about Jesus. You love people until it's genuine.

This year, for me, I've grasped that. As a kid Christmas was always about presents and getting what I wanted, when I became a Christian it was about Jesus and getting what I wanted, but this year I feel differently; I've finally remembered, and really remembered it's Jesus' birthday. I want to be celebrating Him, not myself, I want to be worshipping Him and remembering that the birth of that little King, led to my sins being forgiven and eternal life!

Forget advent calendars, I'm counting down until eternity.