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29.8.11

Being a Woman - Who Sits at Jesus Feet

Mary and Martha are two well known women in the Bible.  Martha is known for being too busy and Mary is known as the sister who pleased Jesus. In today’s busy world, most of us fall into the Martha category, so I thought it would be good to find a way to be more like Mary.

Luke 10:38-42
Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” 
And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Like Martha, I am sure many of us welcome Jesus into our house and into our life. I am sure too, that few of us simply sit at Jesus feet and hear His word, but we immediately get busy with 'doing'. Martha was distracted with her doing for Jesus, which left her complaining about her sister. 

In a very busy world, we are often distracted by our doing.  This 'doing' is causing us to turn into human doings and not human beings. To truly be a woman of God we need to put things back the way they were meant to be. So much of what we perceive as important really isn’t important at all. If you take an honest look at what you spend your time on you will realise that a great deal of it can probably be left out of your day or perhaps kept under control a bit better. 

How much time do you spend on the computer, on the Internet and watching TV? If you don’t spend much time on those things look deeper, how much time to you spend cleaning, helping other people, making food, building a career, hanging out with friends, going shopping, etc. All good things you would think, but too much of any of them and too little time with Jesus just makes us a Martha. 

Martha wasn’t doing anything bad, she wasn’t being lazy, she was working hard to prepare food for Jesus. Something that seems like a good thing, I am sure Jesus was hungry as He has probably walked far to see them. Yet, Martha was told she was distracted and Mary was commended. Don’t allow the devil to put a guilt trip on you and tell you that you are lazy! If you have your priorities in order and have made time in your day to sit at Jesus feet then you have chosen that good part. 

Everything that we do should be an overflow of our time with Jesus. It is a beautiful life when it is motivated by our time with Jesus. Busyness is the biggest trap of modern living and we should all slow down, take some time out, sit at Jesus feet and hear what He wants to say to us. Washing dishes can wait, serving all the poor people can wait, updating your FaceBook status can wait and building that career can wait too. Can you picture Martha all stressed out and annoyed with Mary? Can you picture Mary, peaceful, calm and content, sitting with Jesus? Which woman would you rather be?

Matthew 6:33
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Putting Jesus first doesn’t mean you will lose, you can only gain. As the verse says above, if you put kingdom things first then all the other things will be added to you anyway. It’s a win/win situation. You gain more by doing less. Do you need to make time to sit at Jesus feet?

The Being a Woman book and worksheets are available here.  
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26.8.11

Free to Forgive

My Friend’s Story

I got married young and had the usual fairy tale notion of marriage in my head of skipping away together into the sunset and living happily ever after. The man I married, Jason, had a son from a previous relationship, which was a bit of a thorn in my flesh as he obviously kept in contact with his son’s mother and it didn’t help that his ex was not over him and used their child fully to her advantage. There was nothing I could do about it however, my husband assured me that he loved me and would never cheat on me so there was pretty much nothing I could do. 

I became pregnant and life was going rather well. Rumours started to circulate about my husband being unfaithful to me with his ex. Of course he denied it. By now I was paranoid about him picking up or dropping off his son. We had fights for months about this issue. I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. The rumours didn’t stop. And by this point the rumour was that his ex had had another baby – his baby. 

I was devastated. I asked him straight away and he denied it. He said if she did have another baby then it was nothing to do with him. He would get really angry when I’d question him and tell me to let it go. Time went on. The rumours continued and I just had to find out the truth for myself. I confronted his ex, who confirmed that yes, she had another baby and that my husband was the father. Jason eventually admitted it after I cornered him by bringing his ex to our house. My life was completely shattered. I had put everything into this man, into this relationship. 

I had gone against the advice of my family to be with him and had walked out of home to set up a home with Jason. I was completely isolated and now the very man I had put all my hopes and dreams into, had betrayed me completely. Not only did he have a baby – another baby – with this woman, but the baby turned out to be six months older than our daughter. So we had both been pregnant at the same time for three months, from the same man. I was sick to my stomach. This man had wooed me completely off my feet, my very world had revolved around him and now it had come crashing down around me. 

I tried to kick him out but he wouldn’t go. He begged and pleaded for forgiveness. He told me he had made a terrible mistake and had been too scared to tell me. I ended up giving in just because I didn’t have the strength to force him to leave. I refused for his youngest child to darken our doorstep and forbade Jason from visiting him – I simply would not hear of it. After all, his ex had just fallen pregnant to try and get him back and I would teach her a lesson. I was consumed with jealousy and hatred. Now he had two children with this woman – it was a double blow – we would never get rid of her now. Jason asked me how he was supposed to have a relationship with his oldest son and not the younger one. 

I didn’t know and didn’t care, I told him. As long as he wanted to be with me, his second child with his ex simply didn’t exist. The only way I could deal with the problem was to pretend it wasn’t there. We fought all the time. I started drinking and smoking excessively to blot out my anger and resentment towards Jason and the whole unbelievable situation. 

The humiliation was too much for me to bear. An affair maybe I could deal with as I could brush it under the carpet and ‘forget about it’ – but living proof of it to haunt me forever more? It was an inconceivable thought.

A Fresh Start

An opportunity arose for us to move from South Africa to the United Kingdom. This was the fresh start I needed. We could run away from this whole horrible situation and it would just be us, just the way I wanted it.

We moved to the UK. I was still really angry at Jason for what he’d done – there was just no way I could forgive him for it no matter how many times he apologised and begged for forgiveness. I could also see that he was upset at not being able to see his children, which rather annoyed me. But life continued. When I’d get angry about what he’d done I would just push it to the back of my mind again and tell myself everything was great again and we had a new life now. 

Almost a year later, we got a call out of the blue from Jason’s ex’s mother who was in South Africa, where we’d been living before we came to the UK. She was crying and told us that her daughter (Jason’s ex) had gone to hospital for a minor operation but her intestine had accidentally been cut, spreading poison to her entire blood system. She had gone back into hospital when she started feeling pain but it was too late, all her organs shut down one after the other and she died. The children had lost their mother.

And they would have to come and live with us. It was like a nuclear explosion had happened. I was in total shock. Yes, it was sad that she had died at such a young age. And it was heartbreaking for the poor children to lose their mother at such a young age. But them coming to live with us? It was unthinkable. A lot of my husband’s family lived in the UK as well and plans were made to get the children across as soon as possible. I wasn’t even consulted as it was all about the children. I was in complete disbelief. 

Again my whole world had come crashing down. I thought I’d run away from the problem and now it was back, and this time it would be right in my face day and night. I would have a constant reminder of my husband’s unfaithfulness. Not only would I have a constant reminder to torment me but I would have to play mother to this child! How on earth could I live with this? Given the whole situation and the fact that I was surrounded by Jason’s family who would all descend on me like vultures if I dared oppose the idea, I kept quiet about it and slipped into complete and utter depression. 

Find out how my friend found freedom in forgiveness and built an amazing life in my new book 'Free'. More chapter snippets will follow soon, full details about this book are available here
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23.8.11

Being a Woman - Who is Silent

I can’t tell you how much I DIDN’T want to write this section! What, me silent! Um.... I don’t think so. Yet, the prompting of the Holy Spirit wouldn’t go away so here I am writing about one of the things that I struggle with the most – being silent.

I have mentioned before that I deeply desire to have a quiet and gentle spirit because this is pleasing to God . In fact, if it is precious to God then it is definitely something that I want. And so in my quest to cultivate this quiet and gentle spirit, I came across other verses in the Bible that mentions the importance of a woman being silent.

The best way to begin this theme is to look at the antonym of silent, which is noisy. Noisy can also mean boisterous, unrestrained, noisy or talkative. Let us take it one step further, noisy can also mean loud, ear-splitting or deafening. Now picture a woman who tends to be ‘noisy’. Consider all these words and picture her. I know women like this; I can even be a woman like this at times. It’s ugly isn’t it?
A woman screaming at her little child is plain ugly, a woman raising her voice up to a high pitch squeal at her husband is ugly and a woman at work who acts like a dictating tyrant is ugly too. Can you visualise a loud woman who is attractive? Even the most beautiful women, who are too talkative and never shut up, lose their appeal after a while, are you starting to get the picture?

At first I found the thought of being told to be silent quite offensive but after some consideration of the alternatives I realised how important it is. The Bible is not saying that we are never to speak or that what we have to say is of no value. What the Bible is guiding us to do is to be still at times and know to speak when the time is right. Easier said than done I know!

1 Peter 3:4
Rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.

Quiet in 1 Peter 3:4 comes from the Greek word ‘hēsuchios’ which means to properly keep one’s seat, to remain still, undisturbed, undisturbing, peaceable and quiet.  In other words, you will not be one of those women that have angry, emotional outbursts when they disagree with something that has been said or done. You will sit still, remain peaceful, and remain undisturbed and undisturbing. Can you visualise a woman who can’t do this? They jump to their feet, swing their arms about, loudly express their opinion with a great deal of emotions attached to it!

I have to admit that I see myself doing this at times. Yuck! It’s not pretty. I have been guilty of getting upset and swinging my arms around and pointing my finger as I express my extreme opinion about something that isn’t going my way. It’s really ugly and I wish I had never been like that.

1 Timothy 2:11-12
Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.

Silence in 1 Timothy 2:11-12 comes from the Greek word ‘hēsuchia’ which means stillness, that is, desistance from bustle or language. This verse speaks specifically concerning church meetings and is necessary so that order can be maintained. It is not saying woman can’t teach but it says that they are not to teach over a man.

Take a moment to imagine a situation in church when the pastor is preaching and every now and then a woman jumps up to correct him or add her comments. Even worse, imagine a woman teaching in church without her husband’s permission. That would put her in rebellion. There are many Bible that mention women teaching so the point here is not the act of teaching but the act of taking authority over men.

So how do we behave in church? Quietly. If you have something to say or a question to ask, a public church meeting of any sort is not the place to do it. All this is in regards to learning and teaching, please don’t go to church now and not say a single word, that would be disastrous!

The concept of woman being silent in church comes up again in 1 Corinthians 14:34. The context of this passage, and much of 1 Corinthians, is the order and structure of the church. The Corinthian church was noted for the chaos and lack of order that was rampant in that assembly and again it is the context of church meetings, to keep order in the church.

Everyone in this church was participating with whatever expression they desired, whenever they desired. Women were taking the lead in the services instead of being submissive, and I am sure there may have been cases of manipulation too, using ‘God said’ too liberally. Apparently, certain women in the Corinthian church were out of order in disruptively asking questions publicly in the chaotic services.

Don’t get silly about it and takes things to the extreme, the point to all this is to ensure that there is order in our churches and that women remain in submission to men. Having loud, outspoken women bossing men around would be catastrophic and certainly would cause outsiders not to be interested in church at all. So let’s keep this in perspective and understand these verses for what they are. The church is extremely important to Jesus, He died for her and so we should respect these simple guidelines.

Psalm 46:10
Be still, and know that I am God

Although this verse is not specifically to women I wanted to include it because it’s important to all of us. Sometimes, God just wants us to be quiet in His presence. At times He wants us to stop babbling, to stop waffling and to shut up! We pray too often for so many things that we want and we seldom listen to what He wants, am I right? ‘Still’ in this verse means to ‘cease and desist’. God wants us to shut up and be vulnerable in His presence.

Do you know how to be vulnerable? Do you know how to be submissive to men? Do you know how to be silent? Few women do. In this day and age we express our opinions too freely in church but overlook the beauty of a quiet and gentle spirit.

Join me in learning the beauty of silence. See how your arguments with your husband or boyfriend decrease, notice how your relationships with others blossom and see how you can bless your church by honouring the men with your submission.


Do you find it offensive to be silent or do you understand the importance and beauty of a woman who knows when to be silent?

The Being a Woman book and worksheets are available here
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20.8.11

God Said:

Dear Father God,

I am so sorry to cause you pain
I didn't mean to let you down again
I hoped to be more than this and to glorify your name

No matter how hard I try and do
No matter how I let go and rest in You
No matter how I strive, I can't seem to push through

You are God, amazing, awesome
You are truly the strong and mighty one
You rescued me, saved me through your precious Son

Please forgive me this day
Please show me how to live Your way
Please lead me and help me not to go astray

God said, "My precious child

You please me more than you know
I will never, ever let you go
In the good times and the bad
I will always be your loving dad

Never will I give up on you
I know you are going to pull through
Stay strong my little doe
Hold on tight, don't let Me go

I promise we will stay together
each day, now and forever
I love you with all my heart
I always did, right from the start

Now get up, dust off and try again
Today was hard but not in vain
My mercy is new every morning
I am faithful in everything

Arise now and shine
Leave the past behind
I love you, I feel your pain
Carry on and  try again

I will show you the way
Trust me night and day
My word is a lamp to your feet
Daily of it you must eat

I love you my precious one
You are forgiven, it is done."
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19.8.11

Ethical Shopping

After being totally inspired by Anna's recent posts on Ethical Fashion and Jazmine's story, I hit the charity shops to do some 'ethical shopping'!  I tried of loads of dresses as I really need something summery for the last bit of summer.  Nothing really suited me but I found one skirt and one top which I absolutely love!

Fun floral skirt from Sue Ryder, Winchcombe, £4.95 with strap top from Tesco, £3

White top from Sue Ryder, £1.25.

I mixed the white top with a cream top I already had so that I covered any cleavage that might have shown, to make sure the outfit was modest.


Photos by Lorah-Kelly with thanks.


And then, much to my delight, I discovered that my favourite cardigan matched the colours of my new skirt perfectly!  All in all a really fun day of shopping and playing with clothes while keeping it totally ethical :)  So how about you? Do you want to share your finds?  Send me an email with the photos, price and a little bit of chit chat, and I'll post them for you. xxx
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17.8.11

Jazmine Rocks


I have been TOTALLY inspired by Jazmine Rocks, a nineteen year old art student and charity shop volunteer from London.  Actually, I knew Jazmine and her mum, Barrina, from quite some time ago when she was still a little girl having sleep overs at our home with Lorah!  I am so proud of the woman she has become and am totally inspired by what she is doing with her life!  

Jazmine loves second hand shopping, in fact she has taken something that many people turn their noses up at, and turned it into something quite trendy!  I was never sure about the whole charity shopping thing but since discovering what Jazmine is doing I have become a fan.  Today I plan to hit the charity shops and see what I can see and I hope I can put a decent outfit together as well as Jazmine does. 

This is a fantastic part of our Wardrobe Tips series and fits in really nicely with our Ethical Fashion convictions too.  If you have done any ethical shopping lately or put together a nice outfit from the charity shops please email me the photos and some info about it and I'll share here.  In the meantime, check out this awesome video about what Jazmine is doing... at nineteen may I remind you! 



WOW, I think it's time many of us stop feeling sorry for ourselves and our lack of money and actually do something creative with our life.  Thank you Jazmine, your life is an inspiration, never change who you are.
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15.8.11

Free from Fear

I had an interesting conversation with a friend at church a while ago. She said that she longed to be free from fear. I asked her what she feared and she said,

“Everything!”

Her answer took me by surprise as it was so honest and so real. It was then that I realised that most people live in fear of just about everything. They fear not having enough money, they fear illness, they fears germs, public toilets, strange people, disabled people, homosexuals, public speaking, dying, flying, failure, intimacy, rejection, spiders, dogs, dentists, snakes, being alone, being in crowds and a long list of all sorts of other things! Fear seems to define us in many ways and determines how we live our lives. 

Where did it all begin? It began where most things began, in the Garden of Eden. The very first account of fear was after Adam and Eve sinned. It says that God came to walk with them as He usually did but when God couldn’t find them, He called to them. Adam replied, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” From that day, human beings have lived in fear and they continue to hide from God because they are afraid.

What caused the fear? Nakedness! What caused the nakedness? Lies! You see, we live in fear because we believe the lies that the serpent tells us just like Eve believed the lie that the serpent told her. He appealed to her taste buds, her physical pleasure, and told her that there would be no consequences to her indulgence. Nothing has changed, it is exactly the same today as is was in the beginning of time. Turn on your TV and you will see what I mean. Sign here on the dotted line and you can have zero percent interest free credit for the next six months. You don’t have to wait to satisfy your fleshly needs, just take a bite of this credit apple and you will find true satisfaction. Don’t be silly, of course there are no strings attached, it truly is zero percent interest free credit for the next six months. Come on... just sign here and then you can have exactly what you want when you want it. 

Self-control? Who needs that when you can have zero percent interest free credit for the next six months? Saving and planning? Who needs that when you can have zero percent interest free credit for the next six months? Why wait, just sign here and you will be happy, instantly!

What happens next? We believe the lie, we sign the dotted line and the fear begins. Every month we slave away to make enough money to pay the bills, living in constant fear, wondering if we will ever have enough money to get by on. 

Next comes a mobile phone contract, then a gym contract, then a massive electricity bill that we can’t pay so we make a monthly payment plan. Before you know it you are consumed with fear, living in shackles and chains, totally enslaved to the financial systems of the world. Worst of all, most people don’t even see it that way, they are so familiar with this way of living that they think it is normal, they don’t even realise the amount of fear that they carry. Living a life that is free from fear is the exception, not the norm! 

So what’s the solution, how do we find a way out of this vicious cycle? We consult the life user guide – the Bible! All the keys to a great, prosperous and free life are in this amazing book. It truly is the user manual to life here on Earth, but few ever consult it, they think they can figure it all out on their own. 

They are like the people that try to build an IKEA flat pack item of furniture without reading the instructions that come with it. Sure, you may EVENTUALLY have success in constructing it - although you most certainly will have some left over pieces with no clue where they go! In my experience though, you are better off reading the instructions and following them to the letter. The end result is less stress, faster assembly time, no arguments with your spouse and no left over pieces! It makes sense doesn’t it? So then why doesn’t reading the Bible make sense to most people? Seriously, I can’t understand the logic. If you have instruction on how to lead a life free from fear, why do you want to try and figure it out alone? Here is an example, let’s take a look at what the Bible says about money:

Proverbs 21:5
The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenty; but the thoughts of everyone who is hasty only to poverty.

Financial Key = Be diligent (hard-working, industrious, meticulous, conscientious, thorough, attentive) NOT hasty and then you will have plenty and not live in poverty.

1 Corinthians 16:2
On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come.

Financial Key = Save your money and you will prosper.

Proverbs 22:16
He who oppresses the poor to make more for himself or who gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.

Financial Key = You will be poor if you take advantage of poor people and try and make money for yourself from them.

Ecclesiastes 5:10
Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.

Financial Key

Proverbs 22:26-27
Do not be a man who strikes hands in pledge or puts up security for debts; if you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you.

Financial Key = Don’t ever sign surety documents, you could loose everything.

Proverbs 13:11
Wealth obtained by fraud dwindles, but the one who gathers by labour increases it.

Financial Key = Don’t cheat to get money as it will only disappear anyway, work for it honestly and it will grow.

Proverbs 3:9-10
Honour the Lord from your wealth and from the first of all your produce; So your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine.

Financial Key = If you want to have plenty always give Him the first portion of your money. You won’t lose but you will gain as He blesses your finances.

I could go on and on and on as there are approximately 2080 verses pertaining to money in the Bible! There are verses telling us how to manage our household budget, there are verses telling us how to manage business finances, there are verses on how to be wealthy and there are verses that warn us about the things that will cause us to be poor. Most importantly, there is a wonderful verse that tells us that we can be free from fear because God will take care of all of our needs.

Find out more about what the Bible says about money, worry relationships and all the things that we fear in my new book 'Free'. More chapter snippets will follow soon, full details about this book are available here.  Also, coming soon, Money Does Matter - a look at why we as Christians really do need to get our finances in order!
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13.8.11

The Blessing


Every human needs the gift of "the blessing"—the unconditional love and approval that comes from a healthy relationship with one's parents. So many of us don't even realise that we have missed out on one of God's greatest gifts to us.  The blessing is a life changing book that will help you deal with the lack of blessing in your past, help you gain a new perspective on how God views you which will help you to give the blessing to your loved ones.  

I have found this book tremendously practical both in how it communicates the blessing and also in giving ideas for how we can apply the blessing to our life.  If everything that is suggested in this book is applied then I am sure that your life will be dramatically changed, especially in families where words are used without any thought or purpose.  I found myself looking back over my childhood and considered both the positive and negatives that were spoken over me, I was greatly encouraged by what I saw and have found a new love for my family through this exercise.  Over the years it has been too easy to just remember the bad moments but by forcing myself to consider everything I realised how hard my parents tried to bless me and I am left more grateful than ever before for all the good things in my life.

The Blessing powerfully communicates biblical truths on how to instill self-worth and emotional well-being into others based on these five essential elements: meaningful touch, a spoken message, attaching high value, picturing a special future, and an active commitment.  I highly recommend this book to you and thank you to Thomas Nelson who provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review.
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Random Thought on Church Unity

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 'Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labour: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.'

I have had this silly thought running around my head for ages but am not sure if it is even a remote possibility! What if a group of churches got together, agreed on each churches strength and weakness, and supported each other based on that. We could do more than we can all do on our own by trying to be good at everything all the time?

Perhaps that didn't make sense, here are some examples? If a particular church is strong in leadership training and another in women's ministry and another in music, then all of the churches involved would agree to support the strength of the other church. If your church had leadership classes and a leadership conference and our church wasn't strong in this area then we would send our people to your leadership stuff. Our church might be strong in women's ministry or music (just examples) so you would support all we do in that area! Perhaps another church would focus on prayer events and a different church would focus on music or youth events.

This approach would free each church to become good at something but still get the benefits of the other churches strengths! Together we could make a difference in our city.  Together we could do something truly spectacular that reflects heaven here on earth. 
I would love to hear your thoughts on why this may or may not be possible.
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11.8.11

Ethical Fashion II

Hi girls,

In my previous blog, I wanted to highlight just a few of the issues involved in ‘ethical fashion’. This time I want to make some suggestions of how we can find clothes that won’t have caused suffering or death to the people who make them. So here goes:

  • Plan your wardrobe (more on this in the next blog).
  • Be aware that retailers do take notice of YOU. Every £ spent is a vote cast for a particular way of production. Retailers look at sales figures and ask if people cared about conditions of production, would they keep buying these items. So tell them and show them you do care.

According to Katharine Hamnett, we really do have influence. She recommends that you write to shops you like and ask them about their ethical policies, tell them where you stand and how you will not be able to continue shopping at their stores if you don’t see them caring about workers and the planet. She says they will definitely listen and take notice the more they are challenged.

  • Research. Continuing from the above – ask questions. Shops will probably tell you that they pay the recommended wage of the government of the country. That is often an amount that wouldn’t enable workers to buy the minimum food they need to function. They may also tell you that they would pay more if productivity increased. This is not an argument: 60 first year students at Northumbria University spent a day producing t-shirts and made 95 where workers in Bangladesh would have been expected to produce 900 under the same conditions!

You need to ask if they are paying the ‘ASIA FLOOR WAGE’ – this is the wage for the legal working week that allows someone to buy the same amount of goods and services in the local currency as a US consumer could for $475.


A few well known brands do care more than the rest. M&S are working to be ethical and have even started opening their own factories. Buying ethical fashion isn’t just about buying things that are ‘less bad’ but things from companies who are actually investing in people and the environment, promoting poverty alleviation, teaching skills to workers etc. www.peopletree.com is an excellent place to start.

  • Make things. There are organic and eco wools to knit with and ethical fabrics.
  • Buy 2nd hand & keep circulating your Wheelie Case…..!
  • But more than anything, if you’re concerned about not wanting to buy clothes that are made in sweat shops, pray for God’s direction

Love
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10.8.11

Brand New

Here is a little sneak preview of our new album, In The Stillness, listen to track one -  Brand New 
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8.8.11

Being a Woman - Who is Spirit Filled

We were chatting about how tough Christian life can be at times. Girl’s Nights had been very insightful for all of us but the challenges have also made life a bit difficult at times. Tamara looked across the table at me thoughtfully and said with a pained expression on her face,

“So you are saying that it doesn’t get any easier? Why does everything seem so hard all the time? I thought becoming a Christian would make things better but I still have this weight on me. No matter how hard I try and no matter what I do, it just won’t go away.”

She looked around the table at us girls with what I perceived to be the question,

“You’ve got to be joking! I can’t possibly endure any more than I already am!”

I sensed her desperation and I knew that she had been working really hard on all the challenges that have come her way since she had become a Christian. I have never know anyone to be so passionate about doing things God’s way and every time she had learned something about God’s way I saw her apply it whole heartedly to her life. Her passion for Jesus was undeniable but so was her frustration with life struggles this particular evening. 

It was then that we ditched the Girl’s Nights notes for the evening and got chatting about the Holy Spirit. You see, without the Holy Spirit helping us, everything will seem like hard work. Even trying to work through all the suggestions in this book will leave you breathless and make you feel defeated if you are trying to do it alone. Do you feel like that right now? Do you feel like you are trying your best with your life but that nothing ever seems to be good enough? Do you feel like you can’t go on? Well that is how Tamara felt too on this particular Girl’s Night. Here is what she said,

“I feel emotionally exhausted with life's struggles. From finance and debt to insecurity and addictions. This leaves me tired - making my daily tasks so difficult. I feel like I am constantly in battle with myself. It feels like I have an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. Why does the devil not leave me alone? I was under the perception that if I became a Christian life would get easier... It seems so much harder and I just want to be free.”

After having a little chat, I mentioned to the girls that we were not designed to do life alone. When Jesus went to heaven, He asked God to sent His Holy Spirit to help us. The Holy Spirit give us loads of gifts which help us to lead a much better life. Having the Holy Spirit in us also means that He will bear much fruit in and through us. The Holy Spirit also teaches us all things and helps us in our weaknesses . We went on to discuss that unless we are filled with the Holy Spirit and rely on Him for help, everything that life throws at us will feel very difficult. 

After discussing the gifts and fruit of the spirit we went on to discuss the power of speaking in tongues. This is often an evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit and it is a fantastic power that God has given us. When we pray in tongues, we are praying the perfect will of God for our lives , which is incredible if you think about it. When we pray in tongues, we edify ourselves, which means that we build ourselves up. This word edify comes from the Greek word oikodomeō which means to be a house builder, that is, construct or (figuratively) confirm. Therefore, if you think about it, when we pray in tongues we are actually building ourselves, making ourselves stronger so that we can face whatever we need to face. 

Speaking in tongues is an incredible gift from God and I can’t imagine doing life without using this gift. The other gifts are equally important too but to speak in tongues is something really special in my opinion. And so as we chatted it became obvious that we needed to pray for all the girls at Girl’s Night to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to speak in tongues. It was a precious evening together as the Holy Spirit came and filled us and refreshed us. What started out as a night filled with dread as some of the girls realised that life wasn’t going to get any easier, turned into a night of extreme joy and celebration. Tamara found the strength she needed to carry on with her Christian journey and this time it wasn’t her own strength but it was the power of the Holy Spirit that had come to live inside of her. This is how Tamara described her experience,

“While we were praying for the Holy Spirit to fill us all my thoughts disappeared and I was filled with a warm feeling inside. I felt so peaceful. I had never felt so peaceful in all my life. My tongue started moving and I wanted to say things that made no sense at all. Even though it didn’t make sense I allowed them to come out. I could have sat there for hours.

We continued to pray and the energy in the kitchen where we were meeting was out of this world. I felt so blessed and honoured that God was so close to me. He was speaking to me. God is so amazing and He was speaking to a dirty sinner like me. I felt truly blessed for the first time in my life.

On my drive home I felt so alive and happy. I told myself that I wanted this feeling to last forever. I was addicted to the Holy Spirit and just wanted more.”

Tamara’s story is so beautiful. She came to Girl’s Night heavy with the burdens of life and left free and full of the Holy Spirit.

Girls, please don’t try and do it alone! The Holy Spirit is a precious gift from heaven that was sent for us so that we could lead a great life. These notes are guidelines to help you on your way but without the Holy Spirit they are quite meaningless. God did not design us to try to be good girls, He designed us to be Daddy’s girls. The more we rely on our Daddy in heaven, the more we trust Him and the more we rely on His Holy Spirit, they happier we will be in this life here on earth.

The Being a Woman book and worksheets are available here
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5.8.11

Ethical Fashion

Hi girls,

I’m back for another guest wardrobe tips blog and this time I wanted to highlight a subject that I think is very important to us as King’s daughters: ‘ethical fashion’.

When I say to you…
“I don’t want people to suffer or die to produce clothes for me to wear”
…perhaps it sounds like I’m just trying to shock you and get your attention. But the awful thing is that although we don’t know it, that’s exactly what we’re responsible for when we buy a lot of the clothes that are for sale today.

The reality is that much of what we wear is made by women in ‘sweat shops’. This means they work in unsafe conditions with no proper toilet facilites in oppressive temperatures. They are often sexually assaulted, forced to have abortions and take contraceptives and abused and threatened by managers. They work for long hours, get low pay (not enough for proper food), are not allowed to join a union or any organisation that would represent their interests, have no career development and are often locked into factories at night.

Did you know:

● There are 27 million slaves in the world today – some of them working in the clothing industry. This isn’t just abroad either. Last year, dispatches made a programme showing a factory in Leicester which was paying garment workers £2.50/hr to work in dangerous conditions with a locked fire escape! They were making clothes for stores like BHS, Jane Norman, Peacocks, New Look and C&A.

● 20,000 people die every year from accidental pesticide poisoning in conventional cotton agriculture. 200,000 cotton farmers commit suicide annually due to spiralling debts. A further 1,000,000 people a year suffer from long-term pesticide poisoning.

● 70 toxic chemicals are released into the world’s waterways from fabric dyeing and are responsible for 17-20% of worldwide water pollution.

Over the last few years, fashion has become increasingly fast and disposable. Shops stock small batches of many different lines that change very rapidly. We’re encouraged to buy fast, cheap and in quantity, discard not long afterwards and refill our cupboards again as soon as possible.

This has contributed to the use of cheap labour. Out of a £4 t-shirt from a certain supermarket chain, £2.80 was kept by the chain, £1.185 paid to the supplier to cover fabric costs etc. and just 1.5p paid to the garment worker.

You may wonder: “Don’t our shops check these factories?” The answer is “yes” BUT the checks aren’t much use. Inspectors interview workers who have been told what to say and are too frightened to be honest. Inspectors get tricked – one was impressed by the toilet facilities to discover the loo wasn’t even plumbed in – it had been put there for the inspection. And unfortunately inspectors do sometimes see the truth but our shops choose to turn a blind eye.

There’s so much more to say… I recommend Lucy Siegle’s book: To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out The World which came out recently. Read more here where I will make some suggestions on how we can get dressed without having caused people to suffer or die for it.

Love
Anna
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2.8.11

Being a Woman - Who Dresses Modestly

I have recently been doing a series on wardrobe tips, to help us girls get the most out of our clothing.  It's had been a lot of fun looking into this and there is much more to come from both Anna and I and hopefully some other lovely ladies from the fashion world too.  The Wheelie Case has also been doing the rounds and we have been having loads of fun with that too.  Dressing up is fun and so is finding our personal style - we are girls and we love to play around with clothes and makeup.

There is nothing wrong with feeling beautiful in your own skin and in the clothes you wear. What is not healthy though is when we get our identity from what we wear.  Clothes should not define us at all.  

1 Timothy 2:9-10
In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.

Braided hair, or gold or pearls refers to a hairstyle popular in Paul’s day. It was not speaking of simply braiding your hair. Women, in that time, would often immodestly braid their hair, weaving expensive jewellery into it.  What was being addressed was that they were paying too much attention to the outward appearance and too little attention to matters of the heart.  The Bible suggests that a gentle and quiet spirit is the most beautiful thing, so beautiful that it is precious in the sight of God.

1 Peter 3:3-4
Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel - rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.

What would you rather have, a beauty that is external for all to see or a beauty that is precious to God? The world's attitude is if you've got it, flaunt it and leave as little to the imagination as possible.  In our church we are doing our best to help each other work through various sins.  No perfect people are allowed in our church which is why we attract a lot of sinners.  It's wonderful!  We have more baby Christians that mature Christians which means we have to be very careful about areas that require maturity.  We have alcoholics at our church so we don't approach alcohol casually but consider those that are struggling to find freedom.  We also have drug addicts at our church so we consider their struggle too by protecting them from the drug dealers that they to infiltrate our church to make a quick sale.  On the same note, we have men in our church who don't yet have the maturity to know how to treat women.  We consider these men and the journey that they are on by not flaunting our bodies in front of them to cause temptation.

It's hard for a new Christian man to understand that he can't look at a women with lust.  It is such an ingrained part of our culture and it seems normal.  Movies and TV make it look normal and their friends of course don't have a clue about purity either.  To be a Godly woman means that we should be woman who understand the importance of dressing modestly.  This is not only so that we don't place more value on our outsides than our insides, but it is also to show respect to the men in our world.  They have enough of a hard time fighting their addictions and problem during the week in the world, they shouldn't have to come to church to face even more temptation.  And girls, let's be honest, it's not only the new Christians that are tempted!  Check out some of these statistics, it's frightening.

* In March of 2002 Rick Warren’s Pastors.com website conducted a survey on porn use of 1351 pastors: 54% of the pastors had viewed Internet pornography within the last year, and 30% of these had visited within the last 30 days.

* 47% percent of families said pornography is a problem in their home.
Focus on the Family Poll, October 1, 2003.

* In a survey of over 500 Christian men at a men's retreat, over 90% admitted that they were feeling disconnected from God because lust, porn, or fantasy had gained a foothold in their lives.
As reported in an article on Pastors.com by Kenny Luck

Girls, men worldwide are struggling, girls these days seem to wear less and less and the Internet and TV these day's seems to be teasing them more and more.  Let's be a part of the solution by dressing modestly and not be a part of the problem by dressing immorally. 

Matthew 18:7-11
Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!

Girls, let's not be a stumbling block for our men. Keep your dress modest so that you are not a person causing a brother to stumble. Rather pay attention to growing a quiet and gentle spirit, which is an incorruptible beauty that is pleasing to God. I would love to hear some practical tips from you.  What clothing do you feel is immoral, what practical guidelines do you abide by when choosing clothing?  If you are a mother, what advice to you give your girls when it comes to clothing?

The Being a Woman book and worksheets are available here.
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