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.