Get Out of the Zone 

‘A ship at harbour is safe, but that’s not what ships are for.’ This year I told myself I’d step out of my comfort zone…Not realising how far I’d be out of it. Writing is not something I feel confident doing but I know God has given me this opportunity and I should grasp it with both hands. #shipquote 

The Nehemiah night was something I had planned to go to but when I arrived I was asked to take a station.

At the station I manned there were 4 journals which the girls of SSL had written. They addressed 4 major themes: Integrity, stress, the future and friends in school.

Every person there could relate to each account because we’ve all experienced these feelings/situations at some point in our lives. 

Some people chose to pray out loud while others reflected quietly into themselves. The presence of God in the hall was undeniable.

It was really amazing hearing people pray for what God had highlighted through the diaries. But these are the main things that stood out to me from that night.

Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. The person who wrote this diary entry described how they find this a challenge. It is scary, but what I took from it was that we shouldn’t be. To allow God to shine through us and for us to glorify Him we need to be honest. Not just with the people around us but also with ourselves. In Proverbs 10:9 it says ‘Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.’

Stress has been something I’ve suffered with for a couple of years (without even realising it) so this diary entry really struck a cord with me. Exams were just around the corner and they were the only thing my mind was focused on. It’s so easy to become so consumed by it all. I acted like everything was fine because that’s what I felt was expected from me. I should be able to handle the pressure. Matthew 6:34 was referenced by the person who wrote it, ‘Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’ I always thought I could cope on my own. But the truth is that I can’t. I need God… we all do. He provides us with the strength to keeping battling. 

The cause of majority of my stress and probably most of the world’s worry is the future. The uncertainty of what is going to happen in our lives is daunting but also exciting. From a young age I’ve always felt a calling to pursue a career in veterinary. However I have friends and family who have no idea what they want to do in the future. Going through school having numerous careers conventions and work experience days I can appreciate how many people get confused and stressed about what to do. The pressure of picking the ‘right path’ is immense. I know it’s cliche but do what you love and trust that God will use you in wonderful ways no matter where you end up. God has a plan for us all so who are we to question it? 

Having a great group of friends who accept me for who and what I believe is something I’ve been blessed with. When reading this entry I was reminded of how its difficult to be a good witness. It’s so easy to go with the flow and to say nothing when something has been said that goes against what you think. She wrote about situations many people fail to acknowledge. It was amazing that some just said it. 

Therefore what should we do when we face these life hurdles? Pray. 

The power of prayer has overcome enemies, conquered death, brought healing, and defeated demons. God answers prayers that are in agreement with His will. The answers may not always be yes, but are always in our best interest.

If you take anything away from my post know that praying consistently will allow you to grow and develop your relationship with God. Ask and listen for his voice. Even since this event prayers have been answered so… keep praying!!!! 

All my love, Esther x

Posted in him

I am Holy 

 A couple of months ago we got the privilege to partner with IJM and Exodus (check them out! – they are both transforming the landscape of what it looks like to humbly live with the heart of God). We got to deliver a prayer night for young people here and abroad. We got the joy of partnering with a God who loves to hear our voice. He loves to hear our hearts cry. 

The station I had the privilege of leading was all about understanding that God loves us so much as who we are. And we have the joy of honouring our bodies and lives to honour Him. 

It was a month later I got the privilege of understanding what this truly meant to me. Here’s my story of how that night impacted my story.  

We can’t add to His blood. His blood is enough. Simple really but in practice oh how complicated my heart and mind makes it. At the very start of summer I met up with one of my best friends from school. She told me that when describing me the other girl in our trio gad described me as holy. 

I’d love to say my into reaction was incredible. That I was chuffed. I wasn’t. I didn’t understand. You see I took holy as religious. Which was probably how it was intended. But God in that sweet moment was trying to whisper something into my heart that I had been ‘too busy’ to listen. 

He was telling me that I was His. That I was holy, cleansed and loved. He was reminding me that the prayer that my heart prays to be of total service to Him was awnsered. He was letting me know that my heart was wholly devoured to Him at that moment. He was telling me I was anointed for service. 

And I in that moment rejected the very thing I had wanted to hear Him say. But God in all His grace and beauty told me anyway. He then had the patience to let me figure out exactly what He wanted me to know. 

I thank God because He uses people from all walks of life to interject in your story. For I was going down a path it thinking I was unworthy for use, without purpose. And that is the greatest lie I could have ever been telling myself. 

So with that I tell you – you have something to bring to the table. You are made worthy through His name. Sometimes all you need is a backwards compliment. 

All my love, Shannon x

Living a life with Honour.  

-I want to live a life of Honour.-

I’m thankful that I have the ability to honour god whilst in school, and no matter how many times I dishonour him I am still wholly loved by him and wholly forgiven. 

Even mentioning the word school when most of us are done or nearly done is probably the worst thing I could do and I’m sorry, I really am. BUT anyway… school is such a crappy place to be, I really dislike school, I know lots of people actually really like it but I don’t- just my opinion. I think being in school as a Christian is really hard, especially when you don’t have any Christian friends in school. I have a few, but they have their own friends and so do I and that’s okay, and I’m grateful for the friends o have in school that aren’t Christians and also thankful for the friends that are. 

A typical story of being one of the only Christians in school is getting bullied or being left out or just having no other friends, that does happen and it’s so sad. But I have never got picked on due to my faith, I have never got picked on in school because so go to church, I have never had anything said to me because I was reading a book with “god” In the title in the middle of the corridor. I have actually never received any type of discrimination in school because of being a Christian, and I love that. But I think the hardest thing about being a Christian whilst still in school is getting to honour him fully. I often fall into the trap of gossiping and listening in on rumours and talking about others behind their back whilst in school. I often find myself slipping up and swearing the odd time and sometimes maybe making a joke about someone. I think being surrounded by your peers who are living ‘normal’ live and doing what most teenagers are doing kind of gets to you as a teenager who maybe doesn’t drink, who doesn’t want to go out every weekend, who maybe doesn’t want to have sex before marriage. It makes you feel like you’re missing out almost and some would say not living life to the full. 

I want to live a life that I enjoyed. A life where I didn’t regret something I done. A life where I didn’t cry straight after I done something I shouldn’t have or didn’t want to do. I want to live a life where I honour god fully and as much as I humanly can. I want to honour him with my words, my actions, my body and my whole life. If that means not getting drunk, not having sex before marriage, not swearing, not gossiping intentionally about others I’m okay with that. I KNOW that some Christians have different views on all of this and that’s also okay, but honouring my beliefs as I honour yours is amazing and I’m grateful for those people. 

I’m grateful that my friends in school respect my decision not to get drunk or even really drink at all, but also grateful that they still incite me out if they are, I’m grateful that they don’t really talk about things I don’t want to hear or don’t want to be involved in and I honour them for that. I’m so grateful that god has placed such a variety of people in my life, whether they be Christians, atheists, agnostic, Muslim or Jewish etc. And I’m grateful that they are all respectful. 

I’m honoured that when my friends ask me questions about god, I am able to answer them with knowledge, and if I’m not abme to answer the there and then, I can always open my bible and find something on it , or even ask friends who have been Christians longer and who do have more wisdom. I’m thankful that I have the ability to honour god whilst in school, and no matter how many times I dishonour him I am still wholly loved by him and wholly forgiven. I am honoured that our god is a forgiving god and a graceful god and an abundantly loving god. 

Forever grateful that I can honour god by loving him so much that I can  share him and meet people who will only ever experience the love of Jesus through me. 

As our theme of honour comes to an end and as we prepare for our VERY FIRST event, this week, I challenge you to honour god, honour yourself, honour your body and do everything you can to fully understand that honouring him is the greatest thing you can do to pay him back for what he’s done for you.

p.s I’m sorry that “school” is mentioned approximately 14 times in the post, I really don’t want to make your life miserable, it was just necessary.

Love you all with so much love. 

Katelyn X 

I choose not too, sometimes.

My devoutions don’t always look like this.

I sat down today to do my devoutions. With the honest and good intention of actually doing them. Here we are an hour later and you have guessed it. They are not done. Today I spent most of my day eating four portions of lasagne and watching Ed Sheeran carpool caroke – because when you have an exam in two days, procrastination has to be your middle name.

Anyway I sat down. Opened my laptop to put on some super spiritual music so that I was you know – in the zone. I ended up writing an article for the sschool magazine and organising things for an upcoming event – my bible sat closed on my bed. I’m in the process of learning that I can meet God anywhere and in anything. I believe so strongly that secular and christian culture shouldn’t exist. That the entire earth should be cultivated to become a culture solely fixed on him. That doesn’t mean no make-up, scientific discoveries or Ed sheeran ( because that would be a third world disaster ). It simply means that God is so evidently and intricately inside each one of those things. Our God is a creative God, He desinged the world – He knows what Hess’s law is, because he gave someone the wisdom created it, He gifted Ed with his angelic voice. God is in the midst of it all. Everything.

For a while now I have been reading Romans. I love Roman’s don’t get me wrong but I want to be reading 2 kings because that is what I need to be reading in order to fulfil my reading schedule. ( I know – avid planner much). But seriously. My bookmark is in 2nd Kings, mentally, I am in 2nd kings and every day I have a conversation with God that goes like this.

 

Me: 2nd kings?

God: silent

Me: Please

God: you know that in this season I want you to know the truth about who you are, I want you to read my word to from a deeper relationship with me, not just to study and understand it.

Me: sorry God, Romans it is.

I do this everyday – you would think I would learn.

How often in our lives are we like this. How often do we mentally be in one place but physically in another. God is teaching me how to honour him better. I’m still learning. I love that we get to learn together. Be encouraged if your devotions don’t look instagram perfect. Mine rarley do. 

God knew in that season I didn’t have the mental capacity to study the Old Testemenet. He knew that I needed to hear truth, not striving. He met me in that moment and He longed for me to read His word in order to rest. Not to work harder.

I think we are all learning about rest, especially through this exam season. We need to learn to honour our body and minds capacity.  It is a truly beautiful thing that God loves us so deeply despite all of our failings. He loves to spend time with me even though often I choose not to spend time with Him.

All my love, shannon x

Posted in him

May 23rd

It has been three weeks since I came to this corner of the world. And how I have missed it. As we finish up digging deeper into what MERCY actually is and what it means for us -I want to tell you a story. A really honest story – one that really doesn’t make me seem like a good person or christ-like at all. The next hour is going to be honesty hour. From one tired and burnt out soul – to hopefully not, but probobally, another.

I’m extremely self-absorbed. Like really into myself – which is weird because honestly the world is full of so many more intresting people than myself. But even though that is true, I’m still self obsessed. If I’m honest. Which is a rule in honesty hour.

It was a Tuesday – the 23rd of May 2017. To be honest on the 23rd of May I couldn’t have told you it was actually that date. I was that far gone. I had a week full of exams and was truly feeling very sorry for myself. I had entered survival mode. Which soemtimes we can’t help but enter. But it is important to remeber survival mode isn’t what you were created for. It doesn’t exist in the kingdom of God – God created a world for us to thrive. But like many things when it comes to God I often forget and go my own way.

I was walking down the street thinking about Bali or Austria or some holiday that I was going to take really soon. With all the non-existing money I was earning from my non-existant job. I saw some rubbish on the ground. I have a rule. A rule that I don’t always stick to but still a rule. It is to pick up rubbish when I see it on the street. Yes I am that person & Yes I do care about the environment. Plus it is really good for testing how prideful you are. But that’s not the point. God said – clear as I have heard Him in a LONG time.

“Will you pick up my children who think they are trash (yes in my head God is American) and let me recycle them.”

I thought “oh that’s a nice thought, now back to my head clearing walk”. As I crossed the street, there she sat. I wish I could call her something other than she but I never got her name. She was sitting, in the cold on her coat – clutching a photograph. She was crying and blood was pouring out of her wound. Obviously at first I didn’t notice this – I was to absorbed in my head-clearing-poor-me-I-have-exams-walk.

I would love to say I stopped. That my initial thought was to help her, that I had some innate drive to sacv this woman. To atleast pray or soemthing that makes me sound like I actually want to live my life for Jesus. But I didn’t. I walked straight past her.

Afterall this night was about me. I deserved the walk – first off it was a walk, it was nothing special. I wasn’t treating to an incredible spa day. It was a walk people. Second I had worked hard all day. I justified all the reasons inside my head why I shouldn’t go check if she was ok. Afterall it was 10:30pm, I was in a dark park where people do drugs. Like real drugs, and ofcourse I know nothing of that because of my christian bubble, (but that is a post for another day). Plus she could have had a weapon, afterall leaving her there was the wise choice. Stranger danger is a real thing people.

God took control of my body in that moment and marched me – literally, to the woman. I sheepishly said are you ok.  In my head I was like she obviously isn’t shannon – wise up. But no other words would come out. I asked if there was anything I could do. I sat down. I told her I would be back in a minute. Then I got up. Fear took hold of me and I walked away. I went home. Got my mum (obviously) and then came back. There’s more to the story but that is not for today. In the end an ambulance came to take her away and heal her physical wounds.

First off I am not belittleing the fact that it is dangerous to talk to a stranger sitting alone in the park. I get that. I do. That’s why I got my mum.

However this story inheritely shows Gods heart. He asked me right before  if iI would do the very thing He knew I wouldn’t do. In that moment I felt like such a Peter. The bible is so relevant today.nThat morning I prayed the prayer, I pray every morning – “Dear Lord I thank you for this day and devote it back to you, let me not be lying when I say that I love you for today I could betray you”. (Its the shannon adaption of St Francis of Assisi’s prayer). That morning God knew that I would go a walk at 10:30pm and that I would come across a soul in need of comfort. He knew I would walk away. He knew I would be afraid.

The world that God intended us to live in may seem so far away. Huge mountains of pride, selfishness, pain, loss, busyness – stand in the way of us living life to the full. Bringing the reality of heaven on earth. All we can do is daily fall on our face, aware of the incredible things christ bought for us with His love. Know we do life with God not for God. His mercy is tangible, it is alive, it is present, it is yours – if you want it.

Becasue of His divine love and beautiful mercy he descended from a heritage of messy people to be born literally into animal mess. Why? To save the mess that is you and I. So often we make it all so complicated. Theology  can be complicated. But Jesus is perfect theology. He loved and continues to love the mess that I am. He continues to show me undeserving mercy. Even though I fail Him daily. I pay no price for this love or mercy. I simply get to live in it. And you do to. (Which is often hard to understnad). He chooses my mess and I hope that I will continue to partner with people who feel like a mess. I hope I will do it afraid but do it anyway. I hope that if I walk away 100  hundred times, I will still turn around and walk back.

From one girl living out heaven on earth afraid, to another,

Love Shannon x

Mercy, We need You

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”- 1 John 1:8-9

What a passage! The religiosity and moralistic part of me is called out and convicted here, because if we are truly honest a lot of the time we distract ourselves from our own sin by looking at the sin in others and seeing ourselves as clean. But realistically we too are so full of sin. I have been really challenged this week to humbly read God’s word, allowing myself to be convicted by what it says and I pray that you too will have this conviction as you read the verses above.

But on to the topic of mercy, I think these verses perfectly encapsulate just how great God’s mercy is for us. Not only does it tell us of God’s merciful character, but encourages us to confess our sinful nature knowing that with a repenting heart we will be made clean. By truly acknowledging the depth of our brokenness the fullness of God’s mercy is revealed to us.

The thing is we will never get everything right, as Paul writes we “all fall short of the glory of God”, therefore we are always in desperate need of His mercy. Despite the amount of times we run the opposite direction, when we return with a humble heart asking for forgiveness he mercifully embraces us. He never gets fed up or says “do I really have to give you more mercy”, instead in his immeasurable love and generosity he forgives us time and time again. However, this doesn’t give us permission to do whatever we want, but allows us to rest in the knowledge that no matter how many times we mess up “nothing can ever separate us from God’s love” (Romans 8:38) because of God’s mercy.

In light of this I challenge you to take some time this week to prayerfully examine your heart,and to acknowledge your brokenness. However doing so in the knowledge that if you repent on this you will be covered in His mercy.  Remember that the Father doesn’t see us as objects of condemnation, but of praise as Paul tells the Romans in chapter 2:29, ” a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.” that is the amazing, intangible, fullness of his mercy.

Fancy M&S Paper 

As exam season rolls on up in its beat up 1980s beetle I feel my faith starting to dwindle. If I’m totally honest. Balancing exams & the rest of life can be such a pain. Most of the time I forget I was put on the earth for a higher purpose than to pass my exams. (all the Christian moma’s are going to be mad). 
Working hard and diligently is so important – but that’s a post for another day. I so easily entangle my worth with a letter on a piece of paper. I think of God as the examiner circling the times I get life right and putting a disgusting red line through most of my attempts. At the end of most days; if I’m honest – I’d be sitting on a U when it comes to living for Jesus. If we are honest all of us would. But God (my favourite two words) in His beauty and wonder chose and continually chooses not to treat us like that. 

As I write these words it’s 8 am – I’ve had 4 hours sleep and I’m sitting in the darkness. Sometimes we treat our lives like this. We sit in the darkness thinking that God wants to keep us there, knowing we are unworthy of His light. Believing that if we sit here a little longer it will make Him forgive us – that the darkness will hide our darkness. But in fact the darkness simply makes the light shine brighter. The light of Jesus that is within you can never be dwindled out unless you let it & even still His truth shines out of everything He touches. 

“The lights shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it. 

– John 1 v 15

Period. This is the truth. 

 

Mercy comes from a whole bunch of Latin words. Google it. It’s actually quite interesting but at the heart of the English word mercy is derived from misericors which means merciful. The word is derived from who God is. Merciful. If that’s not the most beautiful thing I don’t know what is! God created the word, to be understood in our language – out of a word that describes exactly who He is. 

He has never been afraid of your mess. He never will be afraid of your mess. God’s love & mercy is not a prize to be won but a gift to be shared. It’s not packaged in M&S fancy paper or got a big pink ribbon on it. It’s exposed, open, given freely always. it’s yours for the taking. All you have to do is receive. You might not deserve mercy. That’s not the point. God’s gifts aren’t based on your behaviour but on His character. I for one am so glad. 
Be blessed today. Walk knowing He is merciful. Google the word if you don’t even know what it means & begin to unpack His truths. 

He is merciful & because of this you are seen, loved and forgiven for all of eternity. 
Bundles & Bundles of love,

Shannon X