Saturday, 11 October 2014

Emotions, truth, BPD and faith.

So yesterday was world mental health day, I didn't write anything, I didn't think of anything I felt I could share. Not that there isn't a lot that needs sharing stigma that needs challenging and other things, there is, but one day can't change all of those, I wish it could. For me every day is a mental health awareness day, every day I learn more through my struggles and challenges of living with a mental health problem. Sometimes it is hard to share things and make people aware when your going through it. I don't have all the answers. I do know what it's like to have a mental health problem, but I am still learning.

Today I saw someone tweet a quote form Will van der Hart, which said this "Your life doesn't start when your healed, it starts when you find Christ." This got me thinking about 'life'. Being ill isn't the way I want my life to be, it often doesn't really feel like living at all, however I became a christian quite a few years ago. No, I don't fully understand Christ, but I don't think that is what the quote means. However, I am lucky enough to be able to journey with Christ through the ups and downs of being ill, and I am living a life, I am spending time with God, with others. I am getting through each day and learning each day, I am living life.

This leads me back to a point I have been directed to a lot recently. Feelings and emotions are not what we should base our truth and our lives on. Just because I feel a certain way doesn't make it true. Not that feelings are bad, but they shouldn't be what runs our lives, they should play their very valid part, but they are not the main part. Combatting feelings with the truth can provide real comfort. For example, I often feel alone - I am not alone, I have an amazing God who is always with me and I have great people around me, thats the truth - knowing the truth doesn't always make me feel less alone, but it reminds me that feelings pass and that I do not have to live my life based on them. Feelings and emotions are a massive part of BPD. Feelings for someone with BPD are extremely intense and overwhelming and can change very rapidly, which can often leave people feeling like their decisions are taken away from them because the emotional reaction caused is so strong the actions are done before the thoughts are processed. People with BPD have a really hard time trying to STOP then THINK then DO. There tends to be a more DO then STOP then THINK automatic brain process, but with practise Im told this can change. But emotional decisions can be a part of anyones life, and generally a not very helpful part. We can combat it with truth.

So I challenge people to think about their own mental health, you don't have to be ill to have problems with it, being aware may help you make changes that prevent illness. You don't have to be ruled by your emotions. And remember, as I remind myself, that is a bumpy path, mistakes are OK, learn from them and keep taking steps, and if you cant then let Jesus carry you.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Day 17, Jack Monroe's book.

Today I am thankful to God and worshipping him because of Jack Monroe's book, A girl called Jack: 100 delicious budget recipes. I got the book quite a while ago, and it has really been a blessing to have. 

Part of the journey I am on, with being unwell, and being too ill to work, is being in the benefits system. The money I get each week, and have done for over a year, is classed (by the government) as not enough to live on for a period longer than 3 months. Most of that journey I have been seriously blessed by friends giving and humbled by the way God has provided. Since moving out of supported housing and having to manage bills for the first time I am learning to budget tightly to get through each month without getting into trouble and one of the things that has really helped me is this book by Jack Monroe. It has recipes and explains how she went on a journey of living on £10 per week for food for her and her son, which believe me is not easy! The simple tips and recipes she has written from experience have helped me be able to cook easy healthy meals, and helped me not yet need the help of a food bank yet, like so many people do. 

Living on little money isn't easy, and is even harder when your poorly. I can't do everything I need to do to live as cheaply as I could if I was well, sometimes I can't even summon the energy to cook, but when I can these recipes help.

I recommend the book to anyone, struggling with poverty or not. If you have the money spare and the ability to do something to help people struggling with poverty then please do! Volunteer at free social groups that support people, at the homeless shelter; donate to food banks; campaign for better services. Use what God has given you to help those who are struggling, just as those who are struggling are trying to!

What are you worshipping God for today?

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

I am weak

Today, like many days at the moment, I'm struggling to keep going. I have fatigue problems, mental health problems, physical health problems, and these combined are making life very difficult at the moment. They can leave me feeling weak and exhausted and useless, with my BPD taking low mood to a whole new level. Moving around is hard today, my whole body seems to hurt and taking in nutrition is hard (the only times im ever thankful for ensure drinks!!), I've already been to two appointments totalling 3 hours, plus over an hour travel, and picked up my tablets, and getting home felt like moving like a snail, every step took so much effort. Now I have a few hours rest, before Ignite, my churches year 7 club which I help at. Before you say I'm crazy, I'm not, all will become clear.

While I was sat on the bus home I kept thinking to myself that whenI get home I must find the verse that says about God being strong in our weakness. So that is what I did when I got home, and here it is:

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. - 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

God says to us, his grace is enough, his power and his ability and his strength are made perfect in our weakness. I don't know what your initial reaction to that is, but if I'm honest my thoughts yelled 'WELL IT DOESNT FEEL VERY PERFECT GOD!!!!!' But that isnt what God is saying will happen, he doesnt say that when we are weak he will make all the things making us weak go away. He will triumph over them, he will be the glue needed to fix them and to make them worship and honour him. Sometimes this takes time or is different to how we want it to be. I don't know about you, or whether your poorly or not, but I WANT TO BE WELL NOW PLEASE GOD! Keeping going with the slow recovery I'm expiencing is hard. But that doesn't mean I cannot worship God, it doesnt mean I cannot share his love and what he has done, in fact according to this it tells the perfect story of God's strength, and there are smaller stories within the big story of our lives which isnt complete yet. 

As for boasting in our weakness, I think this means we are to be honest about where our strength to do what we do really comes from, especially when we are weaker. I don't think this means we should take up a mentality that says 'my experience was worse than yours so I am better than you', which may sound odd or silly, but it can and does happen. Its more about boasting about God, and how he turned our weakness into something magnificent, or how he is, if he hasnt finished yet thats OK, I'm still poorly, I don't know how long I will be poorly for, but I do know God is going to use this for positive.

Quite often when I've read this passage, I have read just verse 9 (finishing before 'For the sake of christ...). I don't know why, but that has been the case. Verse 10 is where the real challenge comes for me. Just to remind you, verse 10 is 'For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.' It is very very difficult to be content with being weak, especially with being unwell. Often we like to think we can do it all ourselves, and we can't, this passage makes that clear. I'm trying to learn to be content with what I have, and to trust God, and to want him more than I want to be well, which is a very challenging battle, because being ill, as many of you may know, is very difficult and painful and frustrating, and many other words too! 

I am learning to listen to God and to trust him. The reason I can keep going today is because I have listened and he has given me tools and a way to be able to do what he has asked me to, he has taken my weakness, my exhaustion, my illness; and he has made a way through it, one step at a time, and he will provide all I need if I listen and do what he asks. 

What are your weaknesses, and are you trying to be your perfection or are you letting God be? Can you learn to be content with your weakness? (if you have mastered either of these please get in touch, id love to learn how you did it!)

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

National Suicide Awareness Day

So its national suicide prevention  day. Roughly every 40 seconds someone dies from a suicide, and its thought that for every suicide there are 20 more people attempting suicide. This is something very close to my heart, I have been suicidal, I have made attempts, and I have recently lost a couple of people I care about to suicide. If your struggling right now, you don't have to read on, it might not help. 

There are different kinds of suicide and suicidal behaviours. Ones that are officially called suicide are planned and thought through and a note tends to be left, in these cases they consider it clear that the person intended to end their life and it wasn't an impulsive decision. Then their is accidental death and death by misadventure, which is where someone has intended to seriously injure themselves and has died as a result. In these cases it is believed the person didn't think through their actions and they were impulsive in nature. People who die or attempt either are in extreme mental distress and hurting very badly, and there are some things that do and do not help.

Studies have shown that connectedness makes a massive difference to those who are suicidal, and can prevent suicide. We need to try our hardest to connect to those around us, to let them know they aren't alone, to let them know its OK to talk, that its OK to not be OK. Personally, I believe in a God who will never leave us and is always there for us, a God we can always be connected to, and therefore we are never alone and loves you and wants you alive. Being with someone when they are feeling suicidal may be difficult but it could save their life. 

Judgemental comments do not help, even when they are given with the best intentions. Comments such as 'what do you have to be sad about?' Or 'people have it worse off' or 'you wouldn't really do it' do not help, in fact I believe they make it worse. Instead try telling them you care about them, you love them, your here to listen to them. 

God has saved my life many many times, and his goodness and saving grace and love is my testimony of the past year. If your feeling low or suicidal he will be there with you, he won't leave you and he will love you no matter what, even when humans fail to know what to do, God knows and he will say what you need to hear if you listen.

If your suicidal please speak out, please go to your doctor and share with your friends and/or family and get some help, your important and no one else can play your part. If you know someone who is struggling, reach out to them, be there for them, listen to them.

You can also always call samaritans, on 08457 90 90 90, or call 111, or 999 in an emergency, or go to A&E

Monday, 25 August 2014

Day 16, 100 days of reasons

I worship God today because he paid my rent top up when I was low on cash. When I was living in supported housing there were times where money didnt come through on time, and money was tight, it still is. But there were times where I was behind with my rent because my money didnt come in, but the payments were paid. I do not know how, but the money for my rent top up was paid onto my account, which really blessed me. God provided for me in my time of need, and he will for you too.

What will you worship God for today?

Day 15, 100 days of reasons

Today I will worship God because he has enabled me to be involved in TNT. TNT is my churches childrens club for 7-11s. I started helping at TNT when I was an Urban Warrior, and I grew a deep love for those kids and that club, I got excited about going and planning each week. I have been blessed enough to journey with them and seeing the kids grow and the club grow! TNT and those kids made me want to keep going and keep fighting, to see them each week! Im about to start my 3rd year of helping at TNT and I couldnt be more excited to see what will happen!

What are you worshipping God for today?

Day 14, 100 days of reasons

I will worship God because he makes things come together for my good. Recently I've been pretty unwell, mentally and physically, but I was somehow well enough to go to Momentum for the day, and God provided all I needed to go. We went on the most convient day, day two, without knowing the program. It turned out that the day we went both Patrick Regan (XLP) and Arianna Walker (Mercy Ministries UK) were leading seminars. Not many people in christian leadership know a lot about Mental Health, or benefits in relation to them, and I was blessed to be able to ask both people for their advice on mental health. Along with that the seminars were both brilliant and God really spoke through them to me. The day could of turned out very differently but God blessed me and I had a great time with friends. So I will worship God, because even these little things in the ways he cares about me work together for the good of people who love him.

What is your reason for worshipping God today.

Day 13, 100 days of reasons

I will worship God because I am still alive. Recently I went to momentum, and I realised while singing in worship to God, that I had gotten through a year where I could have died, and I am still alive. I will worship God because of all the times he has saved my life, saved me from physical death, and sved me from deserving death. When I sing about being alive in him, I will be reminded that it is really the case, that the whole reason I am alive is because God made a way for that to be so.

What are your reasons for worshipping God today?

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Day 12, 100 days of reasons

Yes, I am still doing this, no I haven't given up, yes I am doing it slower and with some gaps. Good, that's that sorted!

Today I am will worship God because he created music. Music has a big place in my life, as a way of coping, as a way of worshipping God and declaring his goodness, as a way of expression, using for dance, to help me get places with less anxiety, and more! Music plays many roles in my life. 

One more specific thing is that certain lyrics and songs have helped me through difficult times, sometimes just listening to them, but sometimes using the lyrics as a reassurance or a declaration. One particular song is Even If by Kutless (http://youtu.be/_HdJufg4g_c), which has these lyrics:

Sometimes all we have to hold on to
Is what we know is true of who You are
So when the heartache hits like a hurricane
That could never change who You are
And we trust in who You are

Even if the healing doesn’t come
And life falls apart
And dreams are still undone
You are God You are good
Forever faithful One
Even if the healing
Even if the healing doesn’t come

Lord we know Your ways are not our ways
So we set our faith in who You are
Even though You reign high above us
You tenderly love us
We know Your heart
And we rest in who You are

You’re still the Great and Mighty One
We trust You always
You’re working all things for our good
We’ll sing your praise

You are God and we will bless You
As the Good and Faithful One
You are God and we will bless You
Even if the healing doesn’t come
Even if the healing doesn’t come

These lyrics have really helped me through difficult times, through both myself and family members being seriously ill, and praying I would trust God more and declaring his goodness even when it was hard and even when I was in great pain, or someone I love was. I hope these lyrics or other lyrics can help you in a similar way.

What are you worshipping God for today?

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

More than depression.

I feel like sometimes as a society we get ourselves in a bit of a pickle. One particular pickle I feel we are pushing ourselves into is that as we raise awareness for mental health and mental illness we seem to be predominantly using depression as the example. I'm in no way trying to diminish the difficult that depression is or say that stigma doesn't need fighting, but there is more to mental health and mental illness than depression.

I have a mental illness and my diagnosis is not depression or anxiety. I have borderline personality disorder, commonly shortened to BPD and also known as Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder. It's not rare, around 1 in 100 people have it. But lots of people don't have any idea what it is. There are plenty of other illnesses too, Bipolar, Schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, eating disorders, generalised anxiety disorder, post-natal depression, psychosis, just to name a few.

When I first went to my doctor to talk about my mental health the only thing talked about was depression, which was something I struggled to feel I completely had. As someone with BPD my emotions change quickly and are very intense, which does include periods of deep difficult emotions that bring on a period of depression, but it includes intense anxiety, and other very intense emotions. 

People need to be aware that mental illness is more than just depression, there are many different ways mental illness can affect you, and many different diagnoses. Also, mental health (and I mean having positive mental health) is more than just a lack of depression, there's a lot more to it than that. You can not have depression and still struggle with your mental health.

Another thing I want to share is that depression isn't the only thing that causes suicide. Suicide isn't very well understood, because you can't ask someone why they decided to do it, but a lot of the time we are told people do it because of depression, which may sometimes be true, but there can be many more things that lead suicide.

So please, don't expect all people suffering with mental illness to fit the box of depression, and don't make assumptions of how we should struggle, everyone's struggle is different, and depression is not the only struggle.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Jesus and pain

Second post in one day, but I really felt this needed sharing.

Recently I have been studying Matthew, and today while reading some things really struck me, both from what the bible said, and from what Tom Wright wrote in regards to what the bible said, in Matthew 26:36-46.

The first bit that really struck me was this 'Then he said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me"'. Jesus is sharing how he is feeling with his disciples, he's telling them what great and overwhelming pain he is in emotionally. He is so overwhelmingly sad it is to the point of death. I don't know if you have ever experienced such a deep deep sadness, some of you might, some of you might not. I'm not sure I could say I felt exactly how Jesus felt at that time, but I could confidently use those words to describe the extreme and intense sadness I face sometimes with BPD. Sadness so intense that you fear it will kill you, or it will cause you do endanger your life because its convinced you death would be better than this. Im not saying I believe Jesus was suicidal at this time, I'm talking of my own experience of the intense emotion he may of been feeling, and what it has felt like to me.

He then tells them to watch, which made me feel as though this was something important for them to know and understand. He wanted them, and us, to know what to do when you feel overwhelming emotion to the point of death. So what did Jesus do, following these words? He fell on his face and prayed. He made himself low, physically, and humbled himself against the God of all things. He prayed "my father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will". He repeats similar word 3 times. He asks God to please make it stop, words I have used on many many occasion, pleading with God, telling him how much it hurts and how difficult it is. Yet he ends his prayer by saying that he submits to Gods will and not his own. How many times have we begged for something to be over, to be healed, to stop? I know since Ive been ill this is a prayer I have prayed many times, but only recently have I found my faith deepened and strengthened as I try to declare that although this pain is terrible and overwhelming and 
I would rather die than carry on with this burden, I trust Gods will, and I put aside my desire and trust that his ways are best. Yes, this is hard, and I often forget, or struggle to add the ending, but its important, its the real strength needed to get through hard times, its trust in God and therefore hope for the future, because God's timing is perfect, even when it is painful. 

Also, if we are not going through hard times, we will undoubtable know someone who is. Jesus asks the disciples to come alongside him and support him and watch over him while he is vulnerable. The people in our lives going through hard times are vulnerable, and we can do the same, journeying with them and silently praying while they journey through the difficulty with God. This is why God made us to be in community, to support and love one another and to journey the soul crushing desperate and painful times with each other. This can be hard, I know it can be difficult to be open and honest with others, its something I struggle with, but it seems clear in this passage that Jesus needed people around him, and he is the messiah, how much more must we need each other? 

Days 9, 10 and 11, 100 days of reasons

I missed a few days, things have been a little hectic, so here are three days in one post!

I will worship God for the NHS. The NHS has done a lot for me since I've been ill, both for my physical and mental health. I worship God because he set that up in the UK; because he made and provided training and all the other things good doctors and nurses and cleaners and porters and HCAs need to do their job; because if I didnt live in the UK and I lived somewhere with a more privately ran system that required insurance I would most likely be dead. Although the NHS sometimes has long waits and things don't go perfectly, it saves so many lives and imporves so many more. Its one of the ways, as a country, we care for those struggling, with health or poverty, and I really am thankful God has provided it through the government in the UK. When I was in hospital a lot one of the cleaners was really caring and took the time to talk to me when others didnt, and it made a real difference to how I felt mentally, and its experiences like that that show God and I thank him for.

I will worship God because he created DBT, for those wondering what I'm talking about, it stands for Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, and its the main therapy for people with Borderline Personality Disorder/Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder, Borderline Type (although in reality its helpful to a much wider range of people!). I worship God for creating this because its a very valuable set of skills that has improved my quality of life and really helped me on my road to being well. I thank God that 
I had the oppertity to take part in group DBT skills workshops, its so nice to know your not alone in your struggles and others struggle to, but even nicer to know that although you all struggle your all getting tools to help! So I thank God of all he put into this being available to people!

I will worship God because he has provided, through government, help for those unable to work, through benefits, due to ill health, and support for those going back to work with ill health. I worhsip God because this is one of the ways he looks after people who are unwell and suffering and struggling day by day, he provides for them, through a nation and a government who has placed systems to care for those struggling. Yes the system has its faults, but fundamentally its a system that cares for the unwell. I am especially thankful for this, as its the situation I have found myself in, and God has provided for me, not just in benefits to stop me being completely broke, but it many other ways. So I thank God and worship him for the caring hearts he has placed in many to help and care for those who are unwell. 

What will you be worshipping God for today?

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Day 8, 100 days of reasons

Today I worship God because he has given us the bible. The bible tells us all about God, about Jesus, about life, about how to do things. It tells us God's promises, it gives us words to pray and sing. Sometimes I have found it difficult to understand, or to persevere reading it, but other times I have found real comfort in its words, in the truth, in the love it declares God has for me. Recently I've found that Ive been able to really get into the gospels and spend time there. 
This is an example of lots of verses put together, called the fathers love letter.

My Child,
You may not know me, but I know everything about you. 
I know when you sit down and when you rise up. 
I am familiar with all your ways. 
Even the very hairs on your head are numbered. 
For you were made in my image. 
In me you live and move and have your being.
For you are my offspring. 
I knew you even before you were conceived. 
I chose you when I planned creation. 
You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book. 
I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live. 
You are fearfully and wonderfully made. 
I knit you together in your mother's womb. 
And brought you forth on the day you were born. 
I have been misrepresented by those who don't know me.
I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love. 
And it is my desire to lavish my love on you. 
Simply because you are my child and I am your Father. 
I offer you more than your earthly father ever could. 
For I am the perfect father. 
Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand. 
For I am your provider and I meet all your needs. 
My plan for your future has always been filled with hope. 
Because I love you with an everlasting love. 
My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore.
And I rejoice over you with singing. 
I will never stop doing good to you. 
For you are my treasured possession. 
I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul. 
And I want to show you great and marvelous things. 
If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me. 
Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart. 
For it is I who gave you those desires. 
I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine. 
For I am your greatest encourager. 
I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles. 
When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you. 
As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart. 
One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes. 
And I'll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth.
I am your Father, and I love you even as I love my son, Jesus.
For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed. 
He is the exact representation of my being. 
He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you. 
And to tell you that I am not counting your sins.
Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled. 
His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you. 
I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love. 
If you receive the gift of my son Jesus,myou receive me. 
And nothing will ever separate you from my love again.
Come home and I'll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen.
I have always been Father, and will always be Father.
My question is…Will you be my child? 
I am waiting for you. 
Love, Your Dad
Almighty God


Saturday, 2 August 2014

Day 7, 100 days of reasons

I worship God today because...he is always good. In every situation, he is good, whether it's an easy situation or a hard situation, he is good. 

As humans we often think we understand good and bad, and we ask God why things happen and we blame him for our pain and hurt. It hurts him when we hurt, it hurts him when anyone hurts, and I believe he never wanted us to hurt. But there is sin, and evil, and so we hurt, and we cause hurt. But all our hurt, all our labour of keeping on going is not in vain, god will make good out of it, god is good, and everything he does is good, even when we don't understand it.

Sometimes I get little glimpses of God using things I've been through to help others, and for me that's a wonderful feeling. The growth God has brought me through during being ill and having difficult times is good, and it will be used for good. I can empathise with people better, and love people in a different way than before. I can understand to a different level what it's like to be homeless, to worry about money, to suffer daily and battle to keep going. Yes, I am saying that this is good. I'm not saying it's easy, I'm not saying it isn't painful and horrible and difficult. But I choose to believe God is good, always. Therefore he is good in my pain, and he will use me for good, and use my experiences for good. So I will worship him because of his goodness, and his ability to make all broken or damaged things good again.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Day 6, 100 days of reasons

Today I will worship God because he provides my every need, including medication. I have needed a lot of different medications in my life time, for many different things. I will worship God for those medications, and the repeated times he has healed me, restored me, kept me alive when I could have died, set me back on my path to health and comforted me in my pain, and all these can and have included times he has provided me with medications. 

Particularly in mental health there is often a stigma attached to taking medication. But God used my mental health medication as part of the way he has saved me from death and set me on the road to recovery. I'm not ashamed of needing to take psychiatric medication, or medication for my physical health. I am thankful that I live somewhere that this is possible, and that God has provided the right medications to support my recovery.  He knows my body better than any doctor and better than I do, and he provides all it's needs, and I will worship him and thank him and testify to his goodness because of it.

What are you thankful for and worshipping God for today?

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Day 5, 100 days of reasons

Today I worship God because...he has placed great people in my life to love me, help me, guide me, and show me more of Jesus' love.

God has put in place great support networks for me, both my friends and the professionals supporting me. I'm very thankful that I have a mental health care co-ordinator, GP care co-ordinator, housing support worker, and other professionals who genuinely care about me and my well being, beyond it just being their job sometimes. It really has made the difference between dreading having to seek and continue with getting better, and believing it's possible and wanting to trust people to help me. 

My friends are also a massive blessing to me, they bring more and more of Gods love and patience and hope and joy into my life every time I see them! 

My church family are also a massive blessing, they welcomed me in and loved me in more ways than I knew a church could. They housed me, they have been patient with me, they've not judged me when I've been really ill, and they've been great examples of God to me in many different ways. And of course there are cute babies to cuddle and children to play games with :)

One particular story I have that really showed me God's love was a while back. Before I share this story, I want to say that I am not ashamed of being ill, and I am proud of the progress I have made, please let it deepen your understating of the way God loves and doesn't judge, and please do not judge me for it. I believe it is right to share my experiences, because I believe mental health, and particularly self harm is aassive taboo, and isn't often talked about in church. At the time I wasn't well (I'm still not well, but progress has been made), and I regularly had a couple of friends coming round to where I was staying to support me with managing my day, eating, and not getting lonely. I was having a particularly bad day and had self harmed quite a lot when the friend who was coming over for a while to help me arrived. I couldn't get to the door, but it was open so they came in and called out to see where I was and I called back. I was a mess of tears and blood and not making much sense. I expected anger and shouting and frustration at me for what I had done, but I got none of that. They sat down next to me and let me cry, and helped me clean the wounds and compose myself a bit better. They didn't rush me or force me or tell me to stop being stupid or stop crying. They gave me time and they showed me love in a way I haven't ever experienced. I hope they won't mind me sharing this story, but I felt I needed to. This is a great example of showing love to people in great pain, and I encourage you to think if there are people you know who need this kind of love, and if you are able to give it to them.

So I am thankful for the people in my life, that God has placed there, and the things they have done for me and shown me love and more of God.

What is your reason for worshipping Hod today?

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Day 4, 100 days of reasons

Today I will worship God because...he gave me a gift of dance. Dance, figure skating, gymnastics, ballet, jazz, tap, street, contemporary. It is a gift from God that I really treasure. It provides me with a lot of joy, a way to worship him and express myself, a way to be in community with others who love dance, and a way to help me treat my body with respect. Dance has been apart of sharing the gospel, when we did a lot of street dance performances. It has been part of my qualifications, when I did my dance A-level. It has been part of the way I worship in many different times and places. It has brought me close to others who love to dance, within church, within lessons, within conversations. Its given me a great tool to be mindful and relax and enjoy myself. What more can I say? I am very thankful for my gift today, and I will thank God for it!

What are your reasons for worshipping God today?

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Day 3, 100 days of reasons.

Today I will worship God because when I needed somewhere to live, he provided places. 

In Yeovil town centre today a bunch of people I know from Yeovil's p2i service (a service for homeless young people in Yeovil) and Knightstone Housing Association (who manage the properties within the service) are talking to people about homelessness, and looking at host families for homeless young people. It reminded me of the journey I went on with God last year, learning to trust him to provide everything for me.

After staying with friends for a few months, and being in hospital, I was discharged under the condition I declare myself homeless. If you have never had to do that you cannot fully understand how that feels. Homelessness is more than not having a roof over your head, it's having somewhere to call home, for me it was having somewhere I could hide from the world, somewhere I could relax. God was with me throughout the process, and he provided me very supportive friends. I was very lucky and was given a crisis bed within a p2i property until they decided what the best route forwards was, and I appreciated not having to stay in B&B. Within two weeks I was found a room officially, in supported housing and I that was my new home.

Recently I was well enough and ready to move out of supported housing into independent living. On my birthday God provided me with an offer of a flat in the area I wanted to live, within the community of my church. He also provided everything I needed to move, mostly for free, and where it wasn't he provided the money. 

This is a reason why I worship God today, and a testimony of his goodness. Why do you worship God? What is your reason today?

Monday, 28 July 2014

Day 2, 100 days of reasons

I worship God because...he is with me in the good times and I am able to celebrate with him! Yes this is kinda similar to yesterdays (yesterdays was in dark/bad times), but God isn't just there in the bad, dark difficult times, he is there in the good times too. I think often we forget about God a bit int he good times, we forget that we still need him in order to really live, and we forget to thank him. This may not be the case for you, but I know it has been for me in the past, and now I make a real conscious effort to be with Jesus when I'm celebrating, because he is there whether I acknowledge that or not. If someone threw you a party, did all the organisation and made it all perfect and you would want to thank them and enjoy it with them right? Well every single good thing in your life is down to God, its him making those good times happen.

There have been lots of times I have been with God in the good times, hospital discharges (unless you've had one you have no idea how exciting this is, FREEDOM!), when I'm dancing, times of sung worship, seeing Miranda's live tour (Jesus loved that one!), being offered my first flat, craft group starting up, every single week at TNT, when I get to cuddle babies, when I see my mum, year after year at soul survivor, when I get to see friends, the list goes one, and these are all kinda separate reasons too, but thats not the point!

What's your reason to worship God today? (Please do share! If your on twitter #100daysofreasons!) When has God been there with you in the good times?

Sunday, 27 July 2014

100 days of reasons.

Today at church we talked about worship, after reading the chapter Revelations 4, which you can read more about here (www.mattmerriam.org/2014/07/27/total-worship/). Part of what was said was that all creation was created to continually say 'Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!' in worship to God (verse 8); however as humans we have the ability to think and declare the reasons for which God is worthy of our worship, and to continually say 'Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!' (verse 8) AND 'Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.' (verse 11). As humans we have the privilege of being able to think and to share testimonies of what God has done, and to celebrate because of those, and not only is this our privilege, but it is our duty to share with others the goodness of God and what he has done, is doing and will do.

So my challenge to myself, and to you if you want to join me, is to spend some time each day, for the next 100 days, thinking about a reason that God is worthy of your praise and worship. I will aim to share mine, and compile a list of 100 reasons why God is worthy of my worship, and what he has done for me.

So day 1 of my 100 days of reasons is: I will worship God because he has never left me when life has felt dark. Psalm 23:4 says this 'Even thought I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.' This is something I have really found to be true, that even in the darkest times, in the most painful times, in the times where death feels inevitable, the times where I can see no hope and no future and no joy, the time where mental or physical pain as been so overwhelming I didn't think it was possible to survive it, God never left my side. Sometimes, through my own fault, I have not found him or known him to be in my pain, but there is not a time where I have cried out to him and not known him there.

A while ago I was admitted onto a locked psychiatric ward for a while after being particularly unwell, and I felt completely consumed by sadness and pain and despair. It felt like everything had been stripped away from me (and in some ways, literally everything had), and I honestly didn't see how it would be possible to make it through that night. As I lay in the pitch black, crying and unable to form words to explain myself to nurses or to God, I managed to whisper 'Daddy', and I immediately heard a 'yes', and that was all I needed to hold onto that night, that my God, my Daddy, he was right there with me. 

So, that is my reason to worship God today, because he was right there in the darkness, he is right here in my darkness, and he will be in tomorrows darkness. He will be right there to reply yes. He will hold me hand when I need him to, he will hold me while I cry. Although these are sometimes hard to remember at the time, I know its the truth. It can be your truth to if you let it, let him in and you will know he will never leave you.

What are you worshipping God for today? 

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Beauty

Recently, at the childrens club I help at, at my church (Birchfield Church, TNT club), me and my friend Michael did a joint talk about beauty, and I would like to write a bit about what I said. My talk was more aimed at the girls, and Michael's was more aimed at the boys, because I am a female and he is a male!

Often, as a woman, we do not feel physically beautiful and we do not think we are physically beautiful. We may think some parts of us are beautiful, our legs, our hair, our eyes, our smile, any other parts. But we don't believe we are beautiful. I know that is my experience anyway. We try to top ourselves up with things we think make us more beautiful, but actually they don't, and trying to use them to make yourself more beautiful, in my experience, does not work. Im talking about losing weight, gaining weight, relying on make up, changing your hair, expensive clothes and shoes. Not that these things themselves are bad; make up isn't bad, but if you cant live without it then its stealing your freedom and peace and making you a slave to it; weight loss/gain isn't bad, but only when its to gain health and is deemed necessary by professionals. Yes this does sound very depressing (your probably thinking, great so I am just stuck at being physically unbeautiful). But the truth of the matter is, these things won't make you more beautiful. Nothing can make you more beautiful.

However, the reason that none of those things can make you more physically beautiful is because God already designed and created and made you 100% beautiful. I know this is really difficult you FEEL, but if you believe it as truth, then maybe feeling doesn't matter so much, because how you feel doesn't affect what is and isn't true. God made each and every woman beautiful, and exactly how he wanted them. Nothing can change that, not weight loss, not weight gain, not make up, not expensive clothes. Nothing. This not only means that YOU are beautiful, 100%, and don't need to change to increase their beauty, but it also means that ALL WOMEN are 100% beautiful, and so as women we need to respect and love each others beauty.

The graph below kinda shows what I mean.




I know how hard this truth is to believe. I'm not sharing it because I believe this truth 100% of the time and have no issues knowing that I am beautiful. I'm sharing this because I believed I wasn't beautiful for a very long time, and it could have killed me. But this truth has and is helping recover, because no matter how I feel, I try to remind myself of this, and sometimes its really difficult, but I won't give up, because the truth will set me (and you) free. 

I hope this helps you and makes sense to you, and puts you on a journey to finding and believing your physically beautiful. I hope it helps you start to turn to truth instead of feelings, in regards to beauty, or stops you before you start to rely on feelings to tell you your beauty.

Monday, 9 June 2014

The armour of God

Yesterday at church, it was thursday housegroup's turn to lead the service. We were looking at Ephesians 6:10-23, the armour of God and praying in the spirit. I shared some thoughts on the armour of God, and using it to start your day and guide your day, so I thought I would share them with you too. 

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled round your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints."

We start off with the belt of truth. Belts hold everything else in place, it stops your trousers from riding up, or falling down, and it holds your shirt tucked in. This is the role of truth in our lives. The truth that God died on a cross to be in relationship with you, that he loves you and has cancelled all your sins. This is the truth, and it can hold your whole life together. An example of praying this into situations in your day when your putting the armour on could be to think about any situations where you might forget that God is king, he is for you and he loves you. This might be a situation you are worried about, if certain emotions arise that are overwhelming, or someone else or yourself has been speaking untrue things over you. You can pray, when readying yourself for the day, with the belt of truth, by praying that Gods truth will be at the forefront of your mind, that it will be a stronger belief and knowledge than any other.  

Then we have the breastplate of righteousness. The breastplate protects the heart and the other vital organs, keeping them safe. In this sense, the breastplate protects the righteousness placed in our heart by God. Righteousness, is the ability to know and believe what is right, good and just, and we are given this directly by God, so that when we turn to him to learn what we should do, we can work together, as our hearts are already turned towards him. The breast plate protects us from harm being done to our heart, such as shame or guilt. When praying for your day and putting the breast plate of righteousness in place, pray for situations in your day where decisions are made, handing them over to God, doing what he wants in the situation, and not letting guilt or shame take any foothold, because it was God's decision and he is the most righteous of all. 

Then we have our feet fitted with readiness from peace of the Gospel. God can give us an overwhelming peace, and this peace can travel with us wherever we go, where we walk or drive, conversations that we are in and people we are near. When putting your shoes of readiness on, pray for situations you may walk into today, areas you pass through or go to, and pray that you will be able to take God's peace there.

Next we come to the shield of faith. A shield protects you from any incoming attack. This is what your faith can also do. When you put your faith in God everything else coming against you loses its power, because you have faith that God has already saved you from the ultimate punishment. So as you hold up the shield of faith, pray for the situations in your day that you may find it difficult to remember what God has done and how amazing his power is, that you would remember your faith in God and be assured that you will come through it.

Then we come to the helmet of salvation. A helmet protects your head from attack. In this sense, it protects your thoughts, and your mind. When we believe the truth that we are saved by God, in all situations, this can triumph over difficult or destructive thoughts. They have no power against the death of Christ and the salvation with have in him. So when praying and putting on the armour, pray that your mind will forever focus on what Jesus did for you, and pray that when destructive thoughts or worries enter your mind, that you will remember that you are saved, and in remembering that your thoughts will lose their power.

And last of all the sword of the spirit, which is the bible. In this situation, I want to look at as a defensive weapon, which means the sword is used to block incoming attack. This could be using the bible to declare God's truth over yourself, others and situations in which there are lies. So praying into your day, pray God will remind you of his word, and to use it. Pray that God will give you words for specific situations you are going in to, to encourage and direct all situations to him and his great love.

As the end of the day draws near, you can also use this to reflect, thanking God for the situations where his word has blessed or guided a situation; for the protection of your thoughts, or him enabling them to shift from destruction to him; for his power, and his gift of faith in situations that have been difficult; for the peace his gospel has brought in situations and places you have been; for his protection over your heart, keeping it righteous and just, and holding you on his ways or bringing you back to them; and for his everlasting and beautiful truth, that he loves you and wants a relationship with you and paid the price for your freedom from sin!

If you want to listen to this, along with some other wonderful people, talking more about the armour of God, praying in the spirit, and spiritual mindfulness, I think it will be here soon -  http://birchfieldchurch.co.uk/sermons.html

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Mental Health, for all!

So, its Mental Health awareness month. If you don't like reading about mental health, WHY ARE YOU ON MY BLOG?! Anyway, your welcome to read on even if you don't want to. (Yes I did right this on a mentally interesting day). So I'm going to try to post a bit more about mental health, about ways God has given me of coping, and about other random things I think of. If you have ANY mental health questions feel free to ask and I will try to answer them. 

I want to make one point, right at the start, this is very very important for you to understand, ok? We all have mental health. Just like we all have physical health. And we can have problems with our mental health without being completely consumed with illness, just like we can with physical health. You can have a stressful day, just like you can have a pulled muscle, and it'll affect your health, and some things will help it, others will not. 
So we have to look after our mental health, and respond to it in a helpful way to keep it healthy. Am I making sense? And those with a mental illness need to take extra care of their mental health in the areas that are ill. Just like if you had diabetes you would look after your blood sugar, take insulin, avoid certain foods etc. With mental health, an example would be, if you struggle with depression, make sure you have the support you need, any medication you may need, and avoid anything that will make it worse. I may not be making sense, but I really hope I am. 

As a christian, I believe that God wants us well, he wants us healthy, and he has paid the price. This means we need to try and make respectful choices that keep us healthy, and obeying him in what he asks us to do to help our health, both mental and physical. 
For me, having a mental illness, I need to learn about myself, about my triggers and about what will help me cope, in order to live as healthily as possible. A lot of this involves trusting in God at the moment, as I still have so much to learn in order to help myself, luckily he already knows, so if he asks me to do something I see as pointless, I have to try and trust him and do it, because he knows what is right. Equally, and this is sometimes harder, he asks me not to do something, and I have to try to avoid it, because he knows what is best, he knows and can see far more than I can. And in time I believe he will teach me more and more about myself and about how to handle my health, but only when I'm in the right place to understand it. 
For you it may be different, because everyone is in a different place, you may not have a mental illness, but your mental health is still important to look after. It may be a case of small choices, like when your having a bad day, seeking what God would have you do to release and deal with the emotions and thoughts, instead of what you want to do. Which could mean having a bath, or spending time with him, or spending time with someone else. It could be that he has given you coping strategies as gifts, like running or dancing or singing or writing poetry. 
Or it may be that you have been ill, mentally, and you need to recognise your previous triggers and learn about new ways to cope with them while you are well, so that before it gets overwhelming you are already looking after yourself and your mind.

Whatever situation your in, I encourage you to ask God to help you explore your mind, trust him, obey him, thank him, cry on him, turn to him, etc. He values your mental health, and he accepts it as it is, and will guide you through it all. 

Friday, 9 May 2014

Judgement

Hello hello, people who read my blog. Im in an odd mood today, probably exhaustion related! Anyway, I had a brain wave the other day, so I thought I'd share. (Yes Rachel you probably did see this coming!)

So, I was thinking about judgement, which is a rather tangled topic really isnt it! I see a lot of posts on facebook and twitter and stuff criticising or judging others, and also saying how people who judge people are wrong (which is judging people...) and things like that. I know I'm guilty of judging people, and I try to correct my mind and apologise to God when I do, because its wrong. I think most of us know, deep down, it isnt for us to judge, because God commanded us to love, he didnt say "go out and judge all nations". God is the only one that has the right to cast judgement.

But that isn't what I want to post about. Often people say or think "It isnt for us to judge". Well, I do, and I asked someone and they agreed. But we there is one person we continually judge, almost constantly, and often based on particular things which will vary from person to person. This person is ourselves. I think some of us (I say that because I do, but maybe others don't) judge ourselves a lot, when we are called not to judge, just to love. And for me, this is one of the hardest things. I find it easier to comprehend loving and not judging others, but I barely think about it being an option not to judge and just to love me. I strive to not judge others, to love them how God would want me to, and I ignore my continually self shaming. 

So this is my brain wave moment, shared, and I don't know what it will mean to you, if anything, but it hit me, that I need to actively choose not to judge myself. This will take time, when you have done something for a long time it doesnt change easily, but it isnt they way God intended me to think about myself. Im not judged on my acts or looks or abilities by God, whose opinion is the only one that really matters, I'm judged by my status of daughter of the king, and the sacrafice of Jesus on the cross. As are you, (some may be sons of the king not daughters). 

Ask God, with me, to open your mind to let go of the judgements you have on yourself and replace them with his, because he made you wonderful. 

Friday, 18 April 2014

Good Friday.

Hello, people who read my blog! I know I haven't written anything for a while, most of lent, despite saying I probably would. Ive been pretty unwell most of lent, physically and mentally, but God has been with me, even in the darkest times, and things are still going, I am still here, I am still journeying and learning and recovering. 

Today is Good Friday, and Ive been thinking this morning and praying and listening, about what does Good Friday have to teach me today (lots of things). As I expect most of you know, Jesus was crucified on Good Friday, he was mocked and beaten and crucified. We all deserved this, we all deserved death, for our sins, our brokeness, our turning away from God. However God rescued us, by sending his son to earth, as a human, to teach us about himself, and to take the punishment for our sins. To take our sins and brokeness to the grave. 

I was thinking this morning about the disciples, and their feelings and emotions. They saw their leader, their hope, their everything, be brutally murdered on a cross. We know now that Jesus rose again. But at the time they didn't, all they knew was that their King, God's son, their teacher, had been killed by humans, despite the fact he had not sinned. Can you imagine how dark that must of felt? Everything you put your hope in, and it appears to be gone, forever. Obviously I cant prove they felt like this, but I believe they might of. 

I don't know if you've ever put your hope in something, relied on something other than God to pull you through, and it hasn't? You get plunged into dark hopeless despair. I know. It happened to me. I didn't realise until it was pulled away from me, but I had put all my hope into studying and working, getting into university. And I wasn't offered a place. And I was plunged into dark despair, and I could see no hope, no reason to fight, no reason to recover, no reason to live at all. Obviously, people around my tried to encourage me, that "your young and you still have life ahead of you", "you can apply again", "you'll get through this". But when all of your hope is placed in something that is then snatched in an instant no human can bring you back from it with words. The truth was I was believing a lie, I was believing studying was going to save me, it was going to give me what I needed to fight, to pull through. But it wasn't, a degree cant give you that. I had to learn, I had to fight and get well for and through God, it is the only sure way, no other way will work, it will just lead to disappointment. So I challenge you to question your motives, what are you doing things for? Is it because you believe that will save you, will make things better? Because if its not God, or not of God, I don't believe it will. I challenge you to trust God, to find out how to do it through him and for him. Its a journey I'm on. 

Other times are dark too. Some times my emotions are so intense, I'm not sure you'll understand how intense unless you have lived through them (its a major part of my BPD), and it appears there is no way out, no way through, all hope is gone, and I cannot tell you why, and I don't know what will happen next, or if I'll even get through it. But now, years on from Jesus is death and resurrection we can live in the knowledge that Jesus rose again leaving our sin behind. That the darkness and hopeless times will not last forever, that hope and light will come again. It will. It may not feel like it. I may not be able to see the way forward, but I have to chose to believe that there will be light, not to give up hope, to trust that God will bring light and give strength until the time where I am well. 

I feel like I have rambled, but I hope it has made sense, and somehow made you think. Jesus may of been crucified, it may of seemed dark and hopeless, you may feel dark and hopeless, but trust God, he will rise again on sunday, and the dark hopelessness will lift, he will be faithful.

Here are two prayers I am saying at the moment, from the 'Common Prayer, A liturgy for Ordinary 
Radicals':

Even in the darkness, we will trust: that out lives are still in your hands.

Guide us, Lord, through the dark places of our day, that we might trust you when shadows overcome the light. Remind us that darkness is as light to you.
Amen.  

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Worry.

So this is my first post into lent, and for those of you who don't know, I'm giving up believing lies. There are so many lies we believe, more than I realised! And believing lies is just as destructive as telling them, in fact I think it is telling them, but telling them to yourself. The fact is, that if we knew God well enough, dwelt in his presence enough, became more and more like him, we wouldn't believe lies anymore. Anyway, getting off the point! 

The lie I want to write about today is "worry will somehow change this." Now hear me out, I know when I first thought about this I immediately thought "thats not true, I don't believe that." But my life tells quite a different story, because if I really believed that I wouldn't be worrying. For me worry is a big thing, its a big part of my illness too, I worry in excess. Don't hear me wrong, my illness is not an excuse to worry, its a fact - I worry, my illness probably partly stems from that amongst other things, but I don't belong to my illness or to worry, I belong to God. 

Logically, rationally, I know that worrying more and more will not change the outcome, but does that stop me? No! I still worry myself silly, which is essentially destructive. It has no positives. We worry about different kinds of things. We worry about external things - money, jobs, enough food, somewhere to live. We worry about internal things - being healthy, doing the right thing, making correct decisions for the future. We worry about how we are viewed by people - am I to fat/thin/tall/short etc, am I kind enough, do people like me? When I say we, I am generalising based on myself and people around me, if none of these apply to you, please get in touch and tell me all your secrets!!! (Im joking, because i know your secret, its God's love through Jesus death on a cross).

I worry without thinking, thats one of the difficulties with this lie, is that its not conscious. I don't spin a tombola with all areas of my life in, pick one and worry about it, hoping it will change. That would be silly, although I LOVE TOMBOLAS. I will do more posts on the different areas of worry I mentioned above when I work on them. But first, if I really want to stop worrying, I need to observe what I worry about, so I aim to write everything I worry about down, and then attempt to stop.

My plan of attack on worry, is to use something that does change things instead. Yes I do mean prayer! Isn't it exciting, the prospect that there is something that can change the things you are worrying about, or change your attitude towards it. We can talk to the magnificent creator of the world, about all our worries, from "what if i burn my toast?" to "what if I never get better?"

I don't expect you to join me in listing your worries and praying through them, but if you want to go ahead. But there may be something worrying you now, the best thing I can think of to do with that worry is take it to God. Also, try and only deal with today, another thing that will help keep worry under control, and straight from the bible. 

"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." - Matthew 6:34