The Forgotten, Rotten Potato

Yesterday I was so blessed by someone who took the time to share with me some of her testimony, and I saw the power that a transformed life can really, fully and concretely have to change someone else’s life. I thought that I had all my life in order and that I had fully let go of my past, yet this testimony seemed to reach right inside of me and jiggle something buried so deep that only God could know about it. God spoke to me yesterday and showed me the forgotten, rotten potato deep inside me.

A Potato? You ask… Let me explain.

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When I was turning seventeen my friends kept asking me what I wanted for my birthday, and not one for presents in the end I blurted out “A Potato!”. Sure enough on my birthday there arrived a potato, decorated and dressed like a person. I thought it was great, so I took it home and placed it pride of place on my desk. Skip forward to August (my birthday was in September so there’s a fair bit of skipping to be done here). I had gone away for 2 weeks and when I came back my Mum was victoriously regaling the tale of how she had found the source of the smell in my room. My potato had lodged itself somewhere in my room, hidden from sight, months had gone by with no repercussions, but at some point it had started to sprouting, growing and stinking.

Do you know what the worst part is? I didn’t even notice the smell. It’d snuck up so gradually I didn’t notice the change. The rest of my room looked spotless, it was clean and tidy yet there was something hidden from view poisoning the whole area. And I couldn’t see, I had no way of knowing, that it was there.

This brings me back to yesterday, this testimony put a spotlight on the potato hidden in my soul. My forgotten, rotten, festering potato. And just like my Mum was the one to see, find and get rid of the potato of the past, I’m giving this potato straight to my Father in heaven. I honestly don’t know what to do with this, but through reminding me of this situation I can see that my God does! Amazing!

As you read this today I pray that you will be bold to share your testimonies with other people, because they have real power! I also pray that God will dig up any “hidden potatoes” in your soul today or in the coming days. Let’s live in freedom – He died so we could have it!

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Spring Cleaning!

I work as an office monkey in a Care Home for people with Dementia, and yesterday I was merrily typing away when I heard sobbing coming from the reception lounge. One of our beautiful residents had tears dripping down her face, completely distraught; and this lady, who can barely put a legible sentence together spoke clear as a bell and said that she was “no good to anyone”, that “she was useless and couldn’t do anything for herself” that “everyone thought she was a pointless old woman”. It broke my heart, and as I sat there holding her tissues and praying in my mind I tried to tell her we loved her. That we loved her for just who she is, that even though she could do so much less that before we loved her, and nothing she could or couldn’t do would change that.

It was so clear to me and the people around her that she was loveable, yet to this lady she just couldn’t believe it. Her mind was soaked in so many lies about herself that the truth had started to sound like lies to her.

Cue a Lightbulb Moment for me. That whole morning I had been drenched in thoughts that people were annoyed at me, that they wished I wasn’t there, that I should never have reached out to this or that person; I would just disturb them. Where did I get those beliefs from? People had never said this to me!

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So this morning I sorted through the cupboards in my mind. I looked all through the forgotten drawers, dusty corners and dark recesses. I found things I thought I’d thrown out years ago.

“You’re always a burden to people – you need to stop telling people your problems”

“You’re too shy – No matter how hard you try you’ll never really make people feel at ease.”

“You’ve got nothing interesting to say – Keep your mouth shut so people don’t realise how broken you are”

“You’re selfish, standoffish and rude”

“People are fed up with you – stop taking up their time”

No-one has ever said this to me. Just the nagging thoughts that pop into my head. These are lies, pure and simple; it’s time to clear them out.

Suddenly it dawned on me…. Oooooh so this is why I’ve been so oversensitive lately! This is why I’ve been struggling at Church! This is why I’m doubting reaching out to people my age about Jesus.

This is the devils plan to keep me silent. He’s a liar a great deceiver and he’s been laying traps for me.

Praise God who sets me free with Truth! I am innocent – because Jesus took my sins I will NEVER be found guilty. I am made in God’s image – introverted is how I’m made to be, and that’s ok! Jesus loves me independent of what I do, how I fail and who I speak to – He loves me when I have nothing to give. I am not unwanted – I am bought with a price into a family! I’m not just humoured I am adored!

Goodbye lies and dust and dirt – this mind has had a spring clean! Jesus is all I need.

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When Breaking up is the Best Thing to do

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Today I found myself texting a friend saying that all good couples break up at some point! She had just got back together with her ex, who is a great guy and I am so happy for them!

It got me thinking about how breaking up with my fiancé was the best thing we ever did.

Firstly, don’t worry, we are obviously back together – hurrah! But we probably wouldn’t be planning our wedding in September if we hadn’t broken up. Let me tell you why…

We met when he came to my hometown to do a years internship as a youth worker. It wasn’t really love at first sight at all, we worked together at lots of youth groups, I found he brought out my fun side and taught me how to celebrate life, I introduced him to “deep conversations” and he found that sometimes, only sometimes mind, he enjoyed them. Soon enough we fell in love with no clue the other felt the same (although apparently everyone else did!).

The only problem was that he had signed up to do mission work in South Africa in a few months time, and had no plans to come back to my home town. I was devastated to be honest, and prayed and prayed and kept trying to stop feeling things for him.

Then, on a sunny barbecue and football filled day (England vs Germany in the World Cup…. Not a great match but you can’t have everything!) he told me he’d fallen a little bit in love with me, that he knew we’d be far away from each other but he’d rather miss me as a girlfriend than miss me for no reason at all. It was amazing!

We gave the long distance thing a try, and anyone who’s been there knows it. Is. Not. Fun. It’s horrible, sad and so hard to do.

We lasted out the year apart, barely scraping through. He became ill with a parasite and I had started wallowing in self pity over being stuck at home in a horrible situation. We fought and fought and I cried and he distanced himself.

It was not the kind of relationship that was pleasing God, each other or ourselves. There was only one thing to do and that was to break up.

I have to say it wasn’t my choice. I was heart broken, absolutely crushed and at the time I thought it was the worst thing to happen to me for a long time.

I was wrong, it turned out to be the best thing to happen, we had gotten things all wrong at the start and needed to refocus everything.

To find out how we worked things out you’ll have to read my next post because it’s just too much for one sitting!

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How Depression stole my Faith

This is my testimony about how my faith was affected by the illness depression. Another blogger (who also focuses on hope!) asked me if I had any posts about how my depression changed after I met Jesus and so here it is!

The first thing I have to say is that becoming a Christian did not heal my depression, I was a Christian before it happened. In fact, my illness causes me to completely lose my faith.

I suffered from reactional depression caused by watching my dad and sister battle with suicide, my stress levels rocketed and my brain chemicals got out of balance. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, I stopped feeling any emotion apart from despair and simple things became impossible to me. Getting out of bed felt like the hardest thing I’d ever done.

Why did I lose my faith? Because I had conditions attached to being a Christian. Life had to make sense, life couldn’t be difficult and Jesus had to answer my prayers the way I wanted Him to.

I walked away because my faith was shallow and I started to play games with God. I put myself in situations I knew would hurt me, surrounded myself with a relationship that I knew was abusive and thought “if I stay here God will have to break in and rescue me”. He didn’t and all that happened was I got hurt really badly.

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When Jesus didn’t rescue me I decided He didn’t exist. I turned my back on him and things got worse, oh so much worse. I toyed with suicide and lived a secret but very reckless life.

I lost my faith and religious set of rules to this illness. I got secular help in counselling and medication. I never once mentioned to my counsellor that I used to have a faith.

I was empty; even when the drugs worked and I could function again I was so, very empty.

I am so glad my story doesn’t end there! Jesus found me, not religion or faith or a massive conversion experience but a relationship with Him saved me.

I became so down trodden I was ready to either end my life or try one last thing. I had a feeling deep down that if I read the bible all the way through maybe things would change. So I started, manically, hectically and angryly to read and underline any verse that spoke of suffering and God turning His back on people. I didn’t like the promises and praises but I read the verses none them less.

Slowly, but by bit, chain by chain, lie by lie, my mind got clearer. I had started reading in a place where I wanted to throw my life away; I chose to give it all to Jesus rather than just kill myself. The more I read about Jesus the more I could see He understood the things I was struggling with.

He suffered more than I did and I couldn’t argue with that. He didn’t need to suffer but He chose to so He could trade places with me; so that He could pay the price for my mistakes. It felt like He hadn’t turned His back on me, but that He knew I would go through these things so thousands of years before they actually happened He suffered and died so He could help when I needed Him.

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I wanted nothing to do with clichés and religion and the prosperity gospel but I wanted Jesus. I read books and books by missionaries who really knew Jesus and knew that to really know Jesus you had to understand suffering.

Everyday since then it has been a two-step forward one step back type of journey of knowing Jesus. The man who died and came back to life. The man who knows me in and out. The man who rescued me.

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Reasons why I Hide in Church

One of the most painful things about having a difficult past is feeling the need to hide it. Does anyone relate here?

In my Church I don’t hear the words mental illness, suicide, self harm, domestic violence, abuse and addictions mentioned very much.

Yet these words are normal, everyday things to me. I can’t really explain about my day/year/life without using them. But I just don’t use them.

I tell a polite lie when I come to Church.

Rather than tell people the truth I cover things up. I would say to people “oh I’m not too bad” the day after my Dad would try to kill himself. I would paint on a smile and lie through my pearly whites.

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It is true that most people in the Church do come from the perfect stock of Christian parents, two and a half kids and a dog. Smiles and laughter, saving sex for marriage, using alcohol safely, living what looks like perfect lives.

I always felt that I should become the type of person that is found in Church. Honestly I want to be like that – they look so happy! I believed/believe that I will get there, and I wrongly thought that I should pretend until I did.

But I found a verse yesterday which blew this out of the water for me.

“Make sure no outsider who now follows God ever has occasion to say, “God put me in second-class. I don’t really belong.” And make sure no physically mutilated person is ever made to think, “I’m damaged goods. I don’t really belong” Isaiah 56:3-4 The Message

The devil has placed a MASSIVE lie in my brain. Deep down I feel like I am in second-class, I feel like damaged goods and that I will never belong in a Church because of that. That I will never be good enough to be used by God.

Because of this I felt the need to hide, which definitely did stop me belonging. You cannot belong if you don’t show people who you are!

Here is my message today – No Christian is better than another. Perfect past or one that has been shredded to pieces, you belong just the same. Damaged people, let’s be honest about who we are and where we came from. We may feel damaged but truthfully in Jesus we are whole and valuable. Lets break the trend of hiding in Church and make it a more welcoming place to others whose lives are far from what they would choose them to be!

A fake Church is NOT a strong Church; by hiding we are doing no one any favours.

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Of Course I’m not Sensible – I’m a Christian!

I don’t think Jesus was a sensible guy. The people He chose to work with, were not the sensible choice. The things He said to the pharisees, were not the sensible things to say. The people He hung out with? Prostitutes and thieves aren’t the typically sensible choice of companions.

He was a risk taker, a massive risk-taker.

Somewhere along the line in my head sensibility became synonymous with godliness. The sensible choice of education is the Christian way, the sensible use of money is the Christian way. The sensible way became my rule for living.

What I misunderstood was that Christianity is not about being sensible, it’s about being wise.

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My fiance is also a risk taker and because of it is the most godly man I know. When he was on a mission trip to South Africa he felt God say to him to take the young people from my home town back with him. He didn’t ignore God he took Him at His word. 8 months later and he began to plan the trip and no one, to my shame myself included, really believed he could do it. However my fiance knew God is a God of the impossible, He’s a provider and miracle maker so he kept on moving forward with the plans.

To everyone’s amazement – the trip happened! £27,000 raised in less than a year. 16 young people went to Malawi and I was so lucky to be able to go with them.

It was risky and although they were supportive our churches thought the way we did it was too risky, not planned out enough, not sensible enough.

I have learnt that nothing is too risky with Jesus. It is wise to take radical action because of God’s word. If you tell me Jesus is sensible then I will show you the cross – the most illogical thing for God to have done, but the most amazing.

I am not sensible; I am a follower of Jesus.

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Hope Burns

This blog is about HOPE.

Many people have come across this word in a weak, sugary, “I hope it doesn’t rain today” sort of way. I’m not writing about that type of hope, I am writing about God’s hope.

The Hope that Jesus brings BURNS. It’s a fire that nothing, nothing can put out. It is POWERFUL.

It’s what drags us out of darkness.

It’s what tears our hearts from depression.

It’s what keeps us living in a world full of ruined dreams and dead possibilities.

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“We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up his permanent post as high priest for us, in the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 18-20 The Message

Do not give up hope! Grab the promises God has for you, He has a future for you, He has a purpose for you, He has people to love you and people for you to love in return. He has blessings to give you, He has lessons to teach you and fears to rescue you from.

No Matter how dark your life is right now His HOPE will burn through your situation untill all you have left in your heart is flame seared love, and knowledge that God, Your God, is greater and more powerful than anything you could ever face.

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