Shame // Renamed

As Shannon said last week, we had the absolute pleasure to partner with IJM and Exodus NW in hosting a Nehemiah Night with 4 stations in March.

“Nehemiah never acted without praying, and
never prayed without acting”

The station I had the pleasure of leading was Shame Renamed. The purpose of this station was to pray for young people and the things that make them feel shame. To illustrate this station we used the imagery of having negative words wrote on rice paper and by dropping them into water, the word would disappear. For example, some of the words were unloved, hurt, ugly, worthless etc. All negative, heart wrenching words, but all real thoughts and feelings of young people. The words disappearing portrayed the accepting of the word, but also the acceptance that god has for it and that he covers you, he doesn’t see that negative word you think about yourself. He covers you with hope. 
During this prayer night, a word that kept popping into my mind was hopeless. I feel that god wanted this word to be prayed over so boldly and so deeply that anyone who felt this would know the the hope that god provides. In a city that knows the effects of this word so deeply, I’m so glad that we got to pray over these feelings and negative thoughts that so many young people feel. These words opened up such honest conversations between each group and I love that we were able to address these words in such a comfortable way and involving way.

It was so encouraging to hear the prayers of others for these words and I think everyone in each group was moved by the words each person had prayed. I think the station allowed a lot of people to take a small step out of their comfort zones and allowed themselves to listen to god and what he wanted to say through them for this word including myself.

I’m reading a book at the minute and the quote by mother Teresa “not all of us can do great things. But we can all do things with great love” really struck me. This night wasn’t about doing great things, or about changing the world but my doing these things with great love. By praying over these words with great passion. But by having such a massive passion, being world changers and doing great things but with great love. 

Even if you are covered in hopelessness, in hate, in worthlessness, in shame and in any other words that make you feel not good enough and not loved enough. There is always someone who is praying over you and praying that you would feel the love that god wants you to experience. Jesus welcomes everyone to the table. He welcomes you fully whether you are full of shame or full of love. 

All the love, Katelyn x 

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

》HONOUR《

In June we are exploring HONOUR. (Also- It’s June whattttt- this year is flying!!) She Spreads Light are hosting our very first event at the end of the month based on honour so we thought that this would be a great theme to be exploring and digging deeper into what honour really means to us.
In the Oxford dictionary, honour is defined as  “High respect; great esteem.”, “The quality of knowing and doing what is morally right.” Or “Something regarded as a rare opportunity and bringing pride and pleasure; a privilege.”

In the Bible, Honour is described through all of these definitions. The commandments describe honour in the terms of high respect..  E.g “honour your father and mother” – Exodus 20:1

By the definition of morals the bible says; “never tire of doing what is good” -2 Thessalonians 3:13

And finally in terms of privilege, firstly Jesus is a privilege, this world is a privilege, your life is a privilege. A verse that describes honour in terms of privilege is Ephesians 2:8-9- “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

I’m a person who likes to understand every definition of aa word and be able to relate it to something so apologies if you knew the words inside out, but it’s always nice to give your memory a refreshment!

So having all the important stuff out of the way. What does honour mean to me? I would associate honour with the first definition mostly- respect and esteem. So here I am talking about honouring your body and I’m excited for this. There’s many aspects to honouring your body. Today I’m going to be focusing a small part of the physical and mental aspect.

•physically•

As a physical approach, the body is what you see as a normal person and not a surgeon or even a radiologist. Real life isn’t Grey’s Anatomy, sadly but quite thankfully too. The bible tells us that our bodies are temples (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) and we should treat them as we would a temple. We wouldn’t tell a temple it is ugly, nor damage it, and we wouldn’t leaves it to rot and wear away if it somehow gets damaged. Honouring our bodies are hard a lot of the time. It’s difficult to love yourself and it is difficult to believe that you are a masterpiece at times but it is the truth. I’m currently feeling like a massive hypocrite telling all of you to love yourselves when there are days when I don’t, and there’s days when I don’t believe that God wanted to make me this way. I know the truth but sometimes I don’t want to believe that truth. But so many of us are like this girl or boy, man or woman and quite possibly cat or dog.

When I was younger, my granny always gave my sisters and I £5 pocket money. I always would have been so excited to go to the shop after leaving to buy a new magazine. Although these magazine were aimed at pre-teens and teenagers. (think of TOTP, shout etc.). These magazines had covers and pages filled with celebrities, I remember getting a magazine and there was a poster of the High School Musical cast. I admired that poster with an admiration so deep-looking back it is so embarrassing. I remember wishing that I  could sing as good as Vanessa, I wish I had golden blonde hair like Ashley,  and I wish I was as intelligent as Monique, never mind being as pretty as them and as thin as them. Even today I still find myself looking at the magazines in a shop like cosmopolitan, vogue and glamour in which the covers are of beautiful, perfect, photogenic women, who have perfectly tanned bodies, clear skin and have no sign of fat or flaws. It’s so draining to try and love yourself in a world which doesn’t want to you love yourself, and a world which portrays women as having to be perfect and a world which poses a fake reality. I never saw any magazines which showed real women, which showed women who had problems.

As someone who has a body littered in scars like how an arena looks after a concert or how a field looks after a festival. It’s almost fake to say that your scars are beautiful. As a girl who’s scars are mostly intentional writing about honouring your body is a little bit or probably a whole lot laughable, but kind of a complete turn around and kind of humbling to know that I can still honour my body even after everything done to try and damage it and after every hateful thought towards it. Knowing that as much as I may have hated my body, it loved me back so incredibly much that it heals itself from minor bruises and cuts, it fights common infections, it keeps breathing it keeps going. Its comforting knowing that I am forgiven for ruining a masterpiece and that my apology to my body is accepted wholly. The body God made for you is a miracle in itself. Healing is another theme in itself so we’ll leave that for another post.

I am constantly amazed by the fact that god created us and handcrafted us to perfection, he even knows the number of hairs on your head. And I know you’ve probably heard this a billion times but its so incredible. I would hate to see a beautiful building falling apart, or a piece of art destroyed it would hurt my heart. So much. Even imagine your favourite, most sentimental, most beautiful thing you own getting damaged. This is what I imagine God feels when we don’t honour our own bodies and when we don’t love ourselves enough.

Looking at yourself in a different perspective can help you honour your body. For example, when your dress shopping for a big event, find the things that you like about your body in the dress. Or when you think things like I wish I was as thin as them or I wish my nose wasn’t like this. Tell yourself things like I love my eyes or I like that I’m short. Lets get one thing straight but. Beauty is not outward appearance.

Honour your body by doing the right things, like exercising, feeding it right and caring for it when it’s hurt. Rachel’s category, Take Care of Yourself is a really good read to dig deeper into the physical perspectives of honouring your body in a fitness aspect that I would honestly have no idea what to write about.

mentally

The first time I asked for prayer for my mental health I was 15, I was trembling , sweating and my voice was shaky. So shaky that I’m surprised that the girl could understand what I was saying. I was honestly expecting her to look at me and say “you look put together and happy, plus you’re too young to experience mental health issues; wise up. Is there something else you want prayer for?” but she didn’t; she went on and prayed, so deeply with so much love and so much passion. After she was finished we talked for a really short time and she was so supportive and really lovely about it. I’m honoured that prayer happened that night and massively proud that I plucked the courage in my introverted, shy, anxious being to get up, because it was a night which changed my perspectives on how the church really does view mental health and issues surrounding it.

Mental health is something not widely talked about in the church, but I think that’s it’s not that the church doesn’t want to support , more so the fact that it’s still a taboo and there’s still a stigma attached.

A word I remember so clearly from that prayer is joy. She prayed that I would find true joy in Him. True joy is unexplainable. It’s kind of like being with your best friend, at your favourite place, eating your favourite thing, listening to your favourite music and wearing your favourite thing- when nothing goes wrong and there’s no deep sadness that overrides that joy- but so much better. It like the adrenaline pumping through your body at a concert before the main act comes out- then they come out- then there’s screams- then they begin singing- then pure silence- pure peace. Joy is beautiful and divine.  Impossible to describe accurately. Joy is that peace that god provides. I don’t know about you but I don’t think I experienced true joy for a long time before I loved Jesus. See that concert and the favourite things those aren’t everlasting, they’re not going to be there forever after a few hours the adrenaline gone and the lights are back on and the arena is left littered and empty. Sure, there are a few dark days in-between the  joyous days, but He is ways there no matter how dark it is.  The joy He provides is permanent and eternal. A friend of mine explained Joy much better in a beautiful and honest post last night have a read to explore it more.

Peace is found in Him. Find Him and you will find peace. It’s so important to take care of your mental health. Honouring your physical body enables you to also honour your body’s mentality. Speaking love to yourself and speaking hope and speaking peace. Allowing gods voice to overrule the negative thoughts and allowing the worship to take over. Practicing self care is so good. Self care is as little as brushing your teeth in the morning to going for a run. My go thing for self care is pulling out my bible and flicking through the pages I’ve wrote in sand drawn on and also pulling out a box which holds all my letters, notes and just things I want to keep and reading them- some I read more than once or twice. Here’s a huge list of self-care.

This month I pray that God would break your heart for what breaks His, especially in how you see yourself and how you respect yourself as a person and body crafted by the one who loves you with all of His heart. I pray that you would honour yourself with such a deep love and respect that you would believe you are beautiful and that you are worthy and that you are a masterpiece. I pray that you find peace on god and allow him to overrule the negative and the things holding you back from living the life of love and the things holding you back from living for him.

We love you all so much and we are so excited for the rest of this theme to unfold into the incredible Honour event.

Lots of love, SSL. xo

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

Mercy.

 Mercy is what we as a blog and community are exploring this month. Mercy is a confusing one, especially after just looking at grace. i am always mixing it up with grace in all honestly or just plain thinking they’re the same. 

Mercy is another word that we use all too often when we dont even know the meaning of it. We want to make this word as clear to you as possible and help you understand it as we also understand it more.
Mercy is defined as: “compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within ones power to harm or punish”
So basically, that means being forgiven or shown love even when you have done the worst thing, even when you don’t deserve it, even when we deserve to be punished.
This is what God’s mercy is.

Grace and mercy have similar definitions but they’re most definitely not the same.

Grace is: ” God blessing us even when we don’t deserve it. -extending kindness to the unworthy.”

Mercy is: “God not punishing us even when we deserve to be. -deliverance from judgement.”

Mercy is when you’ve ran from god, but He still loves you and He still forgives you. Mercy is when you’ve committed the worst sin, so bad that you shouldn’t be forgiven, so horrifying that you couldn’t even imagine God loving you or forgiving you ever again, but He does.

Has a friend ever done something or said something that hurt you so much that you couldn’t bare to even think about forgiving them or even saying it’s okay. So you both just fall out of friendship instead of forgiving eachother and moving on. Or even maybe you’ve ‘forgiven’ that person and you’re still friends but you’re not as close anymore, and there’s still that bitter feeling there. That’s how humans work.
God doesnt work like that. Once you’re forgiven, you’re forgiven, once you’ve done that bad thing, He still loves you and He will still forgive you. There’s no bitterness and there’s not a thought in the back of His mind saying, but she done that or he did this, i cant forgive him or I cant love her again. He won’t fall out of love with you, He simply forgives.

He loves you and wants you to know that. He wants you to know that you’re forgiven no matter how terrible that thing is you’ve done.
Know this. Know that He forgives you, even when you deserve to be punished, even when you don’t deserve the love He gives you. 

I pray that this helped at least one of you understand this word better and understand the real, truly amazing and beautiful meaning of the word. 

Love, She Spreads Light xo 

Welcome Home

Sweet One. Stop striving. You know that feeling when you are simply so tired. When the world isn’t in colours because your brain doesn’t actually have enough energy to compute them. When you feel empty and lifeless and full of regret. When you believe you are the sum of; the words you have said and those that have been said about you. It is so easy to get bogged down in the ideas of others, the pressures of who people want you to be and what they want you to do. And you know the worst bit about it – sometimes you don’t even realise the pressure you are under and how it shapes who you are becoming.

There’s a quote that says only diamonds are created under pressure. Yes that’s true – but I don’t believe we were created to be lifeless rocks that are admired and sold for a fortune. Things crack under pressure too – they break. Most of the time when something is under too much pressure it breaks and causes a disaster. So tonight I’m not going to write about some flowery, cliché quote in the hope that you will find truth and motivation. We are going to delve into the deep grit of the bible. The ugly parts, the parts we don’t understand – the whole thing. Why? Because all scripture is fundamentally written by the hands of men but the heart of God.

That means that what is written and what the bible says – is the truth. It’s the truth. Even if we don’t understand it, even if our culture screams something else at us, even if our hearts really struggle to believe it – it is truth. God has written this beautiful book for us – for you. For you to open it and be inspired, to get creative, to be encouraged, built up, corrected – because he loves us. The depth of God could never be more beautifully expressed that the harrowing image of the cross. So for all of you tonight who feel beat up and spat out this is for you. For you – who feels like you are crumbling under the pressure. Know there is a way out and his name is Jesus. His arms are always open to welcome you home.

The underlying theme of Hosea is that you are valuable. Value isn’t something that you have. It’s something that you are. God so divinely knit you together to be you. Because you have something locked inside of you that only he can unlock. Something that the whole world needs. Something beautiful. Value is part of your character – things that you touch become valuable simply because you are there. The people around you are so valuable.

Gomer was valuable, Israel was and is valuable. That’s why this book was written. To fundamentally reveal to Gods people that they’re chosen, that they’re valuable. That therefore what He has for them is greater than how they are currently living.

Gomer made huge mistakes everyday – she ran, she betrayed, she hurt others and hurt herself. Sound familiar? She got lost admits what she thought she deserved because she didn’t realise that she was made worthy of something so much more.

She didn’t realise that every dream that goes to waste finds new life before his face – he gives all you could desire and so much more. – K.DiMarco

 

In our first blog post about Gomer’s story we saw how she never believed her life could end up the way it did. God wrote this book about a whole nation not one individual – Gods power can redeem a whole a nation for he plans our rescue before we even want him. He is able to rescue you. When we let him in, we see we have value beyond anything that could compare.

So Hosea and Gomer. I hope you have enjoyed it. Words can’t express how much of a privilege it is to create something that I love for a community of people I love. Live knowing your name is value, that God doesn’t create anything to be wasted. You are always welcome home no matter how many times you wander.

Hosea 14 –
O Israel, come back! Return to your God!
You’re down but you’re not out.
Prepare your confession
and come back to God.
Pray to him, “Take away our sin,
and accept our confession.
Receive as restitution
our repentant prayers.
Assyria won’t save us;
horses won’t get us where we want to go
We’ll never again say ‘our god’
to something we’ve made or made up.
You’re our last hope. Is it not true
that in you the orphan finds mercy?”
4-8 “I will heal their waywardness.
I will love them lavishly. My anger is played out.
I will make a fresh start with Israel.
He’ll burst into bloom like a crocus in the spring.
He’ll put down deep oak tree roots,
he’ll become a forest of oaks!
He’ll become splendid—like a giant sequoia,
his fragrance like a grove of cedars!
Those who live near him will be blessed by him,
be blessed and prosper like golden grain.
Everyone will be talking about them,
spreading their fame as the vintage children of God.
Ephraim is finished with gods that are no-gods.
From now on I’m the one who answers and satisfies him.
I am like a luxuriant fruit tree.
Everything you need is to be found in me.”
9 If you want to live well,
make sure you understand all of this.
If you know what’s good for you,
you’ll learn this inside and out.
God’s paths get you where you want to go.
Right-living people walk them easily;
wrong-living people are always tripping and stumbling.

Show up.

I often hear people say “if I walked into that church, it would fall down around me.” I don’t know if anyone else really says this, but I’m going to explain what it means to me when people say it. Some of my relatives say it a lot, especially when there’s an event involving a church like a wedding, a funeral or a confirmation. It means to me that the person feels they have too bad a life to enter the church doors, they’re not pure enough, they do things that are ungodly, they’re just not a good person full stop. My heart breaks when I hear people say this, because personally I think that’s what people think of God and the church. So many people think that the church is a dictator, a judge. People think that when they sit in that church , the pastor is just sitting there judging them, judging their past, judging what they do, just judging and dictating what’s right and what’s wrong.

You do not have to have a perfect life to have a relationship with Jesus
. I find that one of the most amazing things about his grace. Knowing that when I walk into a church on a Sunday, I am loved, I am forgiven I am known and the church building most definitely will not fall down around me. I do bad things, I say bad things I act ungodly sometimes. That doesn’t change His undeniable grace over me. And it doesn’t change for you either.
Maybe you want to know God more , maybe you want to go deeper and maybe find a church to help you do that. Maybe you have already asked Jesus into your life, but you don’t go to church. Maybe you’re afraid of the judgement, maybe you’re afraid of not having anyone there with you that you know or maybe it’s just too daunting to take that step. It is scary. I know it all too well.

My friend and I recently started going to a new church. We are both the biggest introverts you could get, it’s hilarious. On Saturday night our conversation goes something like this:

“Are you going to church tomorrow?”
“I’m going if you’re going”
“Cool, see you tomorrow”

Then, we will go on a Sunday to church and after we’re too afraid to talk to anyone else, so we talk to each other complaining how stupid we look with no friends in church.
Or It will go something like this:

“I cant go to church tomorrow, I’ve got something on”
“I’m not going either then, I have no friends. I’ll be a wee spare spoon”

Yep, “wee spare spoon” were the exact words too. (that basically means loner/by myself) if one of us don’t go to church on Sunday, the other won’t because of the fear of not having anyone there with us that we know. Another thing is if someone is out the night before, they might say “I couldn’t face the church today because of what I was like last night, I just couldn’t.” The fear of being judged in our minds is greater than Jesus at these times. But let’s get one thing straight. God’s grace is so much bigger than the fears. Even if someone doesn’t go to church because they were out too late, or even if they just don’t go to church because their friends not there or maybe, they’ve turned up to church with a hangover, even if you’ve done the worst imaginable thing. The church will not fall down around you. His grace is so great, your life doesn’t have to be perfect to have the privilege of experiencing that. The church isn’t judging you and God isn’t judging you.

“20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

-Matt 18:20

Show up.  no matter how big the fear is. Your fear may be big, but your God is bigger!