A long pause and a short trip

I have been fairly quiet for almost a month, please accept my apologies. It turns out the things that ‘They say’ are said for a reason and my husband and I have been very busy and fairly stressed trying to buy our first home – so as they say moving house, in terms of stress, is up there with marriage, divorce, starting a family and dealing with debt. Exciting times nevertheless, but they have kept me away from this blog. I also took a short trip to Italy popping into Venice and would like to share my favourite photos with you.

I loved my visit to Venice, it was a much needed escape with a very good friend of mine. Having seen the city in many films I was prepared for its strange transportation options, narrow streets along the canals and beautiful buildings and bridges. Nothing prepared me for the bizarre train journey to the city though! As we left the mainland and headed, it seemed, into the sea it was hard to believe that we were approaching one of the most famous cities in the world. Probably the biggest surprise was the fairly ugly car park you see on your right as you approach the station, it juts out with its big ugly P like an unexpected eyesore but thankfully the treasures lie within the city. I can’t be the first to wonder who would build a city out here and even when faced with the tall spires of church towers and intricate bridges I wondered what it must have been like to have been a part of making it the wonderful reality that it is now. Our time was short and we only scratched the surface, pizza in hand and brolly in the other as it was raining most of the time. I would love to go back. In the meantime I hope to blog a bit more.

These images have been taken by and belong to Until That Day Comes, I’d be delighted if you liked them enough to want to use them but please let me know first or link back to this blog. Thanks for reading.

100 days to Christmas but this is just silly!

Warning!! I LOVE Christmas, for a great many reasons, and somehow we are already at the 100 day countdown, wahey.
Now despite my love of all things Christmas I do find it particularly ridiculous that many of the supermarkets have already started stocking mince pies and chocolate Santas. I actually find it quite outrageous. Personally I feel shows a lack of respect to Christmas, it’s a special time of year not all year and lets not forget the shops still have Halloween and Bon Fire night to plague us with. Most of these mince pies will have past their best by the time Christmas rolls around and currently we are lucky to be enjoying sunshine so I certainly won’t be tempted by them…just yet. I usually manage to hold out until mid November and by then it’s a matter of days until you can buy your tree and decorate the house. I can’t wait to get my nativity decorations out, it’s so important we don’t lose sight of why we celebrate Christmas, for me it’s the birth of Jesus but for now let’s enjoy the last whispers of summer as the cool, dark evenings start to draw in and sip one last Pimms by the river.
If you really can’t resist getting in the Christmas spirit early why not check out Operation Christmas Child and find out how you could make someone else’s Christmas special by decorating and filling a shoebox with treats between now and November.

Psalm 34 18-19

20120910-180757.jpg

O man, how glad am I that God knows we face troubles, many troubles, and He is close to the broken hearted – even when we don’t know it! Not only is he close by but he comes to the rescue, can I get a whoop whoop!! I find it can be too easy to forget this when I’m having a hard time, I switch off and try to get by on my own strength but this reminded me we don’t have to!

NLT Second Edition

Ice Cream

20120908-090505.jpg

Hurray for September Sunshine!!

Pretty Girly, Hens and Monkeys

I think I gave fair warning on my ‘About’ page that, at some point, I was going to get girly on you. Well today is that day and I’m going to share a few girly things that have kept me away from this blog for a few days.

I haven’t always been a girly girl, I went through the tom boy phase at a young age, graduated to the skater/emo phase but deep down I’ve always liked pretty pink things – why fight it right? I’m sure God loves pretty pink things too so it’s all good!

First up I give you my latest find in beauty genius, the Jolie Box. This is just one example of a recent-ish trend in beauty boxes. What is a beauty box already!? Well it’s a little box of wonder that arrives each month filled with at least one full size sample and 4 or 5 other fun  things and a cute magazine and is a great way to try high end products without committing to a full size and the full price. At this point I would like to say I have not been paid to write this blog, Jolie Box probably don’t even know my blog exists, I just wanted to share it because it has brought me great joy. I should also point out its £10 plus £2.95 p&p and you can pull out anytime, I totally planned to pull out after one box but here I am 4 boxes later. So, here is a peek into the August box.

1. Dr Bronner’s Magic Soap 2. So Susan, Lip Balm 3. Cut by Fred hair tie and Phil Smith Dry Shampoo, 4. So Susan Wide Awake palette

I was thrilled to receive this box, I loved all the bright colours and the range of products. My favourite product this month was probably the Magic Soaps, I took them on a hen weekend (more on that below) and loved the way they frothed up and smelt so fresh, the mint was fresh mint not a chemical mint, heaven! I also felt revitalised and super clean which is probably more to the point. I felt a bit mixed about the So Susan products, the lip balm looked cute, fab packaging and was nice on my lips but it felt a bit childish and smelled like something I might have used on a Barbie when I was six and while I’m all for nostalgia I’m not keen on including it in my beauty regime although I did love the glitter. Maybe I’m hard to please? The ‘Wide Awake’ palette however was great, easy to apply natural colours which made me look fresh after minimal sleep, great for the coming Autumn months and festive season.

I haven’t braved the hair tie yet but there is a tutorial on the website so I will at some point and I was also a bit dismayed that my Phil Smith dry shampoo came practically empty but the short spray I did get out smelt great and worked a treat. Overall I can’t fault the service from Jolie Box, I had a problem with my box delivery on a previous month and their customer service was excellent. My favourite product from the boxes so far has to be the Taj Micellar Water, its an anti-oxidant make up remover that smells like it belongs in an expensive spa and does exactly what it says on the bottle. There are other similar beauty box products available such as Glossy Box but I haven’t tried them…yet.

So I said I had a couple girly things to share with you and the final one is a  Formula 1 themed hen weekend. This hen weekend was for a very special friend of mine and boy did we try and pull out all the stops. We found a venue that not only had the activities (think Rage Buggies and High Wires) we were looking for but a cottage on site – perfect! I would recommend checking out Box Hedge Farm if you find yourself blessed with the task of organising a hen do with rage buggies! I can’t say a lot more, for what happened on Henula 1 will surely stay on Henula 1, but I can offer some sneak peeks and advice on must haves for hen weekends….

First up I recommend a variety of sweet and savoury snacks to tame the wild hungry women joining you and a pink flamingo cocktail stick is a distinctive way to add a dash of pink without resorting to the tacky L plates theme. Always refer to things your friend loves, in this case ponies and lego (the lego is a shared love with her hubby to be which is even better). We made little lego versions of them to put on top of the cupcakes. And finally you can never go wrong with an inflatable animal provided its not a dodgey sheep or man, we plumped for this handsome, champagne swigging monkey and named him Alejandro so we could serenade him with Lady Gaga’s classic hit. On that note (boom, boom) I will leave you pondering inflatable monkeys and beauty boxes….until next time.

A Lost Generation, Affirmation but sadly no donuts at One

My plans to blog on site at the One Event were scuppered by a lack of internet and phone trouble but now that I am back home and in the warm I can write away. The weather was mixed but the sun did shine from time to time. We were blessed to have such inspirational speakers as Stuart Bell, Jeff Lucas, Debbie Wright, Miriam Swaffield to name but a few and their messages really hit a cord with me. Of course with the event being called the One Event there was plenty of talk of ‘oneness’ and I do think the time has come, ‘a new day rising’, for all denominations and churches work together but for me there were bigger challenges afoot, a lost generation, affirmation and no donuts! Today I’ll start with some lessons I learnt at the One Event.

After my initial excitement at there being a 20-30’s stream of seminars I was slightly dismayed to find that there would only be one session a day. This disappointment did not last long after hearing Miriam Swaffield speak, she packed some serious punch and gave us all something to think about. If you get a chance to hear her speak take it, this is just what I took away on Saturday.

This girl is on fire for the Lord and has a passion for our generation despite being a junior to most of those in the room at only 23!  Miriam works for Fusion and spoke of a lost generation, my generation and it was painfully clear to see sitting in that tent. Go back a few short years and I would have been sat in tents surrounded by a huge number of peers hungry for God but on Saturday we barely filled the small Jelly Beans tent for our seminar. Now, I plan to write my testimony at some point but for now all you need to know is that I have had a rocky journey and for the first time I fully realised that I was not alone in my generation. Where had my friends gone? Don’t get me wrong I know there are other events aimed specifically at the 20-30s age group and if you attend one of them the concept of a lost generation might not seem real but name upon name of my friends who had once followed God, in a way that inspired and awed me, but who are now strangers to God threw me. Thank goodness he knows their name and loves them, is waiting for them to come home! I felt like I had heard a war cry for my generation but where do we start? On Saturday I just let that image of a lost generation sink in and waited to hear more.

Miriam had actually come to speak under the title of ‘Career, Kids or Kingdom? Do we have to choose?’. This title prompted much debate, especially among the women who seem constantly to be facing the ‘Can we have it all, should we have it all’ dilemma. Her answer was simple and presented in the truth of the Bible, Matthew 6 v33,

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (NIV)

Simple right? No, if we’re honest not so much, so if its not simple then what is getting in the way? Miriam spoke of the lies of the world and asked us to consider, ‘What have I let the world preach to me more than the King?’  ‘What lies have crept in that I believe to be true?’ and pointed out that lies have the ring of truth but it is the truth distorted. What lies have you let the world preach to you? Reject them, stop now and reassess, are you seeking first the Kingdom? God knows us by name and knows the desires of our heart, if we put God at the centre of those desires, He will provide because He has a plan for all our lives and in His plan is the best place to be. I have fallen foul of too many lies of this world, when my defenses have been down and my armour put to one side. Its time to put God back at the heart of my life and go in search of my friends.

After such a powerful message I needed time to digest and was pretty hungry so I went in search of those hot, tasty, donuts but sadly this year there were none to be found. I did enjoy a pretty mean wood fired pizza though.

Sunshine!

20120825-115020.jpg

Lord rain on me? Wellies at the ready!

We used to sing a  wonderful song by Brenton Brown called Lord Reign In Me. I have long thought that perhaps we sang it with rather too much gusto and somewhere along the line the translation got lost leading to a variety of dodgy, non camper friendly weather that this August Bank Holiday weekend is renowned for. In fairness it hasn’t always been too bad, we have sometimes been blessed with only the odd shower and plenty of wind (of the sky and of the baked beans!). However, on more than one occasion we were hit by floods and twister like weather resulting in the relocation of campers into the cowsheds. I actually think those ‘Act of God’ weather events can bring out the best of us here in Blighty and the sense of community at Grapevine has always been a highlight that I’m sure will be found at the One Event too. That said, and bearing in mind the recent glorious heat, here is the weather forecast for this weekend,

So, I have my wellies and the tent out and ready for the One Event and it has inspired me to invest in some autumnal clothes. As with music, I am no fashion expert either but I’m loving the burgundy, plumy purples that are starting to pop up the shops. Here are my latest finds with my muddy wellies. You can find this beautiful, super soft scarf in Topshop and the top is a bargain in the sale at Urban Outfitters.

First Steps and Festivals

First Steps

I feel like it’s my first day at a new school and everyone is staring at me. Only it’s not school it is the world wide web and for now I am safe in the knowledge that no one really knows I’m here.

Check out my ‘About’ page for information behind the name of my blog and a bit about me. Rather than dive right into a discussion about what I believe or bore you with awkward cliches I’m just going to start as I mean to go on and share a bit of where I’m at right now.

Festivals

It’s that time of year when everyone seems to be packing up a tent, grabbing their wellies and heading off to some festival or other. I bring you my first post in a state of painful exhaustion having spent yesterday at V Festival but also in eager anticipation of attending the One Event this weekend (if you don’t know it, think along the lines of Soul Survivor, Spring Harvest, New Wine or read on) ! Two very different festivals but both offer fantastic live music and delicious donuts so what’s not to love!?

I wound up headed to V having decided with my husband that 2012 was to be The Year of Fun (more on that another day) and fun we had. I’m no music buff but I do love a good boogie so we threw down some moves to the likes of Olly Murs, Rita Ora, Tom Jones, Tinie Tempah, Snow Patrol and finished off with a sensational bang from The Killers. It was hot, it was sticky, there was rain and yes, I queued for the VIPee portaloo experience before we headed home.

From one festival to another and I really can’t wait for the One Event, formerly known as Grapevine. What is the One Event? Good question especially as this is its first year and I don’t really know myself here is what the organisers say,

One is an event voicing a strong proclamation that the church is alive and thriving and seeking  to have a growing influence for good in this nation.

ONE provides an opportunity for Christians from all backgrounds and denominations to gather to celebrate the Christian faith and for the Ground Level family of Churches to have an annual focus which assists in equipping each local Church for the great commission.

I did a lot of growing up both in my faith and in myself at Grapevine and last year sobbed tears of joy reliving memories as we all worshiped with a medley of songs from the past 30 years to close that chapter. This year I am thrilled to see a stream of seminars/talks dedicated to 20s-30s and can’t wait to see what else is new. I hope to be able to provide some updates from the site. If you’re heading that way (it’s never too late!) why not join me in a family favourite car game of who can spot the big top first…