The beginning of my blog.
Also the beginning of married life and a new season. This is here to remind me of the joy that life is, the ideas that are passed on and the inspiration that always surrounds us... It's great to have you here!

What is next?

This week marks a real end of an era for Matt and I, and a great big step into the unknown. It is Matt’s last week with XLP, the charity we met at when I did a gap year, and where Matt has been working for the past 4 years. We felt that taking this step away from XLP was the right thing to do, and we really felt that God was calling Matt into something more creative, something that puts his photography and design skills into action. For me, this time marks the end of university and the time to start really looking at and pursuing my future. 

When we made these decisions around Christmas time it was really exciting. Matt has been going through the selection process for ordination but is too late to start training this September, instead it will be next September, which is why we find ourselves in this situation. I like change and the idea of having the world as our oyster really drew me in. As a bit of a dreamer, the thought of having an absolutely free year really excited me. We feel we are called to build community in East London but we both love travelling and so that was one of my dreams for this year, if not that then no longer working weekends was pretty exciting too! But months later and we are looking at our last pay check and the rent thats due after that. We were so blessed with this flat we live in, but if we don’t have jobs we can’t keep it. If we cant keep it then maybe we would need to move in with friends, or leave London and stay with parents. There are so many maybes and often Matt and I feel waves of anxiety breaking over us. Sometimes there is tension, if nothing changes do we stay here and invest or go and travel or find jobs in another part of the world for a year? Do I just get a minimum wage job for now? Should we ignore what we felt God saying about a creative job and for safety take up one of the many youth worker positions Matt has been offered?

I would love to do something involving people, crafts, blogging and weddings. That would be my dream job but it’s so unformed and feels too good to be real. We have started doing a little bit of wedding photography, I really LOVE that and hope it grows.

We have been praying everyday that God would show us what the next steps are, that he would reveal the right doors and close the wrong doors. That we would see his provision, and keep trusting his promises even when we feel silly for doing so. For me it feels like my heart is excited, it knows there are good things coming but my eyes just see the physical world, and they relay to me that we are being stupid and naive. But I know that’s not the case, I know that God is great, he is GOOD, that his love endures and that his promises are true! 

We have been praying that by the 19th of July we would see some of this provision, that some part of his plan would be revealed to us. That is now only 5 days away. It feels pretty scary! 

I would love it if you would pray for and with us, that we would feel confident in these next steps and in what we feel called to. That our eyes, ears and hearts would be open to where God is leading us for this next part of our lives. If you have already been praying this through with us, thank you so much for your love and support. 

Someone sent me this quote on Sunday, I love it:

'When you need a door of opportunity to open and you can’t see a way, don’t give up because God can make a way! He knows how to get you to the right place at the right time. He has the right people and the right connections, and He is always working behind the scenes for your good!'

-Victoria Osteen 

I remember this.

Hello old blog, your very sweet, so full of nice things.

My new blog www.dearfriendlondon.com is very different. Its not supposed to just be about me, its supposed to be about whatever is good and praise worthy. Its meant to help people dwell on such things. I don’t know if it does…

So much of my life, my beliefs, my values are centred around my faith. My faith gives things life and meaning. My motive is Jesus. So how do I try and change women using a secular approach when I don’t believe there is any point doing anything without a saviour. 

I love because he first loved. Its not me, its Him.

How do I communicate this without communicating anything that makes people feel uncomfortable. Or maybe I just want people to stick around so my viewer stats keep growing. Or maybe uncomfortable is good. Or maybe I need to learn to communicate Jesus without saying his name.

Im not sure why God works the way he does. We just found out that we didn’t get some funding we applied for. This funding doesn’t mean staying or leaving, but it did mean living life a bit more comfortably. I think we were kind of assuming we would get it, so when the electricity will went up loads we weren’t worried, when our rent went up a little we didn’t fret, I got a more expensive phone contract and I started having this mindset that actually after we get this money we will be in ‘the promised land’. I would be able to go out for coffee whenever, we can go to the cinema without saving for it, no need to budget each food shop to the penny. These things would be nice, the money would have given us more stability and meant that Matts position would still be there when we leave. 

I know that we are not now turning to plan B. With God there is no Plan B.  We are not now just gonna take a different route to the same place. We are going to have God’s best. I trust that God’s best isn’t coffee, cinema and expensive ingredients. I trust that his best is joy and contentment and peace and love and freedom. Nice things can be part of that, but I’d take God over all the ‘stuff’ any day. If God’s not coming with us then i don’t want to go. Thats what Moses said to God when they were wondering around the desert in search of the promised land. God said I’m not coming with you, but I will send an angel with you. Moses said no, if its not you I don’t want it. I don’t want the promised land, the thing we’ve set our whole lives upon reaching, if you are not going to be there.
So today I say. If its not you, then I don’t want it. I can take or leave the promised land, but there is no way I will carry on without you. Show us what your best is, I will be waiting here, excited and expectant. 

Hope Engaged photo shoot link-up

When Katie first invited me to this link-up in July I instantly thought, well thats vain! Taking pictures of myself, on purpose, and deliberately putting them in a place where other people will see them, no!

Since that first reaction I have felt quite challenged on the subject. Slowly i realised that actually its not vain, that people do it all the time, its just me thats judging. I read blogs often, and love seeing the pictures that bloggers post; self styled photo shoots, mums to be and new outfits.  So actually its just ME judging ME. Ridiculous. Anyway, I am starting a Social Enterprise and needed to do some publicity stuff, in particular I needed to have a photo for the new blog intro. I put off taking it for soooo long. Eventually i set up my tripod and camera and Matt wired it up to a screen so I could see the pics I was taking. I think I stood there pressing the shutter button for like an hour. I changed my hair, smiled a different smile, changed angles, but I did not like ANYTHING about ANYTHING! eventually i couldn’t hack it anymore and ran over to Matt in tears. 
 In retrospect this is madness, how can I have something so deep-rooted in me about the way I look that I will cry over something so small. I have never felt unconfident about the way i look, I’ve never struggled with it until the idea of deliberately taking pictures of myself and wanting them to look good. Hello fear of vulnerability.
Matt prayed for me, I calmed down, thankfully by then my face was pretty puffy so I had an excuse to stick with whatever I had already shot.   
I have since come to terms with the fact that I’m gonna need to do this more often so I had best deal with it, and that I actually love the idea of being creative in self-portrait photography.
I think there are 3 things that I have learnt from that experience (and other similar things that have arisen recently), and from praying over it after.
1. Failure isn’t a bad thing, pain is the place we learn to GROW and challenge ourselves. As Mr. Henry Ford said ‘Show me a man who has never failed and i’ll show you a man who has never achieved anything’. BRAP.
2. I can’t afford to be scared of judgement, fear of man is not something i was made to live under. I was created to only look for the affections of my heavenly father. Its in THAT knowledge that I have freedom.
So here are a selection of unedited pictures from that shoot. 







So there we have it, the story of my first photo shoot.

Thanks for reading x

PS. I CANT WAIT to tell you more about the social enterprise and promise to in the next week!

Hot sand on toes, cold toes in sleeping bag

There are some memories that we will hold dear forever. The past 2 days are such memories. We did miles and miles and miles of kayaking, ending up on a beautiful sandy beach, scavenged for fire wood and set up camp. The sky was clear and the sunset burned red as we ate our fire cooked smokey pasta. We then put our tins of rice pudding in the fire and ate it as the full moon came fully in to view. As we let the embers cool we got into our sleeping bags and settled down in our tents on the sand with life jackets for pillows. I drifted off to sleep with the sound of water lapping scarily close to my ears.

In the morning I woke with the sun, we climbed out of our tents shook off the stiffness and embraced the freshness of morning. The sun was rising in the east and the tide was far away. Just sand between us and the sea. We rekindled the fire and made morning coffee with which to enjoy the view. A few friendly dog walkers passed by with a wave and we started to prepare for a longer paddle back to home with a brief coffee shop stop. I brushed my teeth and rinsed my face in salt water. On the way back we saw seals and shoals of fish pass under our canoes, the water clear enough to see all the way to the sea bed. As we made our way along the final stretch of coast a beautiful sandbank stretched out in front of us, new sand shaped by the current. We ran through the shallows, pulling the canoe along, laughing and splashing everywhere, as fast as we could to stop the sand closing in around us as the tide went out. We made it across and dragged the boat up the beach before diving in for ourselves and letting the water wash away the smoke and heat, so happy-hearted.

‘Hot sand on toes, cold sand in sleeping bags,
I’ve come to know that memories
Were the best things you ever had
The summer shone beat down on bony backs
So far from home where the ocean stood
Down dust and pine cone tracks
We slept like dogs down by the fire side
Awoke to the fog all around us
The boom of summer time
We stood
Steady as the stars in the woods
So happy-hearted
And the warmth rang true inside these bones
As the old pine fell we sang
Just to bless the morning’
Ben Howard-Old Pine

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