Pregnant!?!?!? Why I sad-cried for the first 3 months and that's ok!

Posted by Teen Bean in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Big fat tears, and they were not tears of joy people. I was sitting at work watching that pure white window form a plus sign signally that, yes indeed, my biggest and worst fear was being revealed. I was pregnant. I couldn’t think of anything worse… I know lots of people in this world want nothing more then what they refer to as a “little pink buddies of joy”, but for all you women out there that find yourself peeing on a stick (and possibly very badly as it actually isn’t that easy to pee on a pregnancy stick and not get it EVERYWHERE) and instead feel rushes of panic, dread, sadness and grief, you get where I am coming from.

I’d spent all of my childhood hearing how horrible it would be if I ended up pregnant. Thank God I was married, or as my very Christian up bringing taught me, my life would have been a complete waste… which only in my adulthood have I come to realise is a complete load of WANK! Not Christianity, but the message of horror/failure for unplanned and out of wedlock pregnancy…. sometimes those pregnancies are the best kind!. However, I digress. Following this childhood stage of life was the bi-polar stage of young adulthood. Which resulted in a dramatic switch of messages soon after I turned 20. Now everyone (especially my mother) expected my young and ticking womb to be gasping for a baby. This was and SHOULD be completely normal (according to some). Every time someone brought a baby into the room they automatically assumed, because I was female, a Christian, of responsible childbearing age and (later in my twenties) married, that I would fall desperately in love with their baby and probably want to take it to every baby group in a 50 miles radius. Uhh Thank you very much, but NO! 

See, the out-come of brining up this young woman to be head-strong and want the best the world has to offer is that I believed I could actually achieve my world-changing dreams by traveling, education myself, focusing on my career and taking any and every adventure that came my way. Babies don’t fit into that type of life mission statement. I wanted to make something of myself. Sticking a bun in my oven and then having to pour all of my best years in an animal like halfing was not the way I was going to change the world. 

I was going to build something. I was going to make something of myself. I was going to change this broken world for the better. Besides, who in their right mind would bring a baby into such a messed up world… there is way to much crime, poverty, hunger, violence, debauchery and disease in this world to make it fit for a baby. 

Then the guilt set in. I remember thinking if I ever did get pregnant then it would have to be in a season when I was excited, happy, prepared and ready for IT (I could even say baby). Now I was ruining what was meant to be one of the most special season in my life. All the crying and “how could I let this happen to me” moments were making me more nauseas then the morning sickness. I was already setting my kid up for therapy because when I told him/her about the reaction I had when I found out I was pregnant, that big fat crocodile tears streamed down my face, not just for one day, but for 3 solid months, they were sure to hate me and label me the worst mom in the universe. 

In my heart of hearts I knew one day I wanted kids, but NOT THIS DAY. What I would have done to have a pause button on that pregnancy stick! Just a few more years and I am sure I would have been all sorts of ready (right right right!?!?). 

I quickly started shoving down my emotions and feeling because sadness, anger, regret and grief… these are not good emotions to be having as a young(ish) pregnant woman. I was suppose to be “blooming”. I was suppose to be spilling over with joy, excitement and anticipation. Why wasn’t I feeling these things? Was I a bad mom? A bad wife? A overall failure at being a woman!?!?! 

Forty weeks later I welcomed into the world a slimy, blurry-eyed, bundle of scary. My daughter. Six months later and she is still alive! #selfiehighfive We finally are getting to a little season where I can think about something besides her poo, eating and sleeping habits and I started wondering back to those early days of my pregnancy. 

The guilt started to flood back all anew. Not only because I still sympathised with my old self, but because there was still bits of me that longed so deeply for some of those early world changing dreams. 

I’ve been to a number of different baby/toddler groups over the last 6 months (God help me) and one of the scariest things I heard moms or dads do is talk about their lives like all the good days are gone. That all the potential they had in the world is over and if any good happens now it is down to their kids to live out their dreams for them because they spent all their dream fulfilling days up. This made my heart really sad. If this is true was this why I cried for 3 months when I found out I was pregnant?

It got me to pondering. I started reading lots of self help books and my bible (ok probably not as much of my bible as I should, but it was there!). I started HONESTLY question who I am, what I stand for and why my reaction and behaviour is the way it is. I prayed a lot (if by pray you mean I question everything about God and why life is the way it is while looking upwards).

Ahh prayer is a funny thing… it didn’t so much change what was happening to me, but it has this magical way of changing how I respond and think about what is going on to and around me. And I learned a few things along the way.

One thing I came to learn is that we can take the things that happen and be bitter and negative and look at them from a half glass empty, or (as cheesy as this sounds) we can try and see the good in what is happening to us, our emotions and behaviour. It’s our choice, but the outcome and quality of life is completely different depending on which you chose. I decided to choose the later… and it opened up a whole new world of realisation. 

I did cry for the first three months of being pregnant and honestly it was because I was sad and heart-broken. But was that sadness and heartbrokenness about my baby or something else? In all my reflecting I remembered being told once that when we say good-bye and we find ourself crying, sad and heart-broken we should be proud. Because it showed that in that season of life or place or relationship we gave our everything, we gave fully with our hearts. There is nothing wrong to being sad about that kind of good-bye. 

I also realised that having a heart fuelled by passion meant that I was going to have big dreams for changing this world for the better and that my heart would ALWAYS yearn for that until the job was done. That’s what tenacity is; a very unique human response and something also I should be proud of. Feelings of frustration, sadness, regret and anger were signs of my tenacity, my secret super power. If I was careful to keep in control of my emotions and not let them control I could use my secret super power to make me a better person, to keep the passion of my heart kindled and burning during a season of testing, change and strength building. God created all emotion and deemed them all good… it’s how we react to emotions or how they can twist the truth around us that makes them bad. 

See the reality is that in that in that season of life before I had kids, I was OWNING IT! I have no regrets, I ran with everything I had. Life was good because I wasn’t living by halves I was living in the fullness and greatness of adventure that God had promised. This is good, but that season in my life was coming to an end… and its ok to be sad and to grieve the good-bye because it was good. But God has something even better planned for this next season and it BUILDS on what I learned, accomplished and strived for in the season before I had children. Woah… I better read that again!

The last revelation I have to share is one that is just starting to reveal itself. Every day since I read that pregnancy stick I have been trying harder to be a better person. Some people don’t have to have kids to do this, but for me… being honest and looking back on it now… it was the only way I was going to actually learn some of the lessons I needed to learn and softening my  proud heart. 

My daughter, Savanna Pixie Lawton, is the best thing that has every happened to me because she challenges me to be a better person. She challenges me to think deeper, to try harder, to want good change more deeply than ever before. She teaches me every day how to be more… more patient, more kind, more friendly more caring…. She is hand wrapping skills and qualities for me that are actually going to HELP ME ACCOMPLISH ALL THE THINGS MY HEART SO DESPERATELY YEARNS FOR. 

So yes, I cried hard when I found out I was pregnant… and I will be proud to tell her that… because I realise now they were tears of celebration for what I had lived and survived through and they were tear of joy yet to be found and life yet to be lived.

My life by NO MEANS IS OVER! And there is no way I am going to lob that expectation onto my daughter or any other future children we have, that it is “now up to them” to accomplish all the dream that I had to “throw away”. NO WAY… it is because of my child(ren) that I am finally going to be able to do the things I always dreamed of. I will have to do it differently, I will have to be more creative, I will have to work harder, I will have to be more… But with Savanna and Her Dad by my side and God in my heart, all that I ever wanted and dreamed is now more possible then ever!

So whatever stage of change you find yourself in now; whether you’re about to be a new mom or dad or are leaving a job or moving to a new place or ending a long relationship or life is just change at a crazy fast rate and your not sure for the better… 
Give yourself space to reflect honestly
Be proud of sad good-byes
Remember all feelings are good and find out how to celebrate what you are feeling
Challenge yourself to be better at being you in what you are going through
Find the joy in where life is taking you
Take responsibility for staying true to yourself and making your dreams come true. No one else is going to do that for you! 

Then and only then will you be comfortable and proud of yourself enough to take on each day. And even when your days aren’t crazy exciting or changing the world in exactly the way you planned you can with confidence say you are building something, making a difference and changing the world… start first with yourself, and the change you want to see in the world will follow.

Tears people… now we have tears of pure joy! 

P.S. I’m still not crazy about baby/toddler groups or your baby so don’t ask!

Moved to Pray

Posted by Teen Bean in , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Well Steve and I have officially moved into the Big Prayer House. And it's truly caught me by surprise. I am loving the idea of being in the house and the opportunity it is to be working in and for our community.... The shocking part was how scared, unsettled, angry and sad I felt.

Say what!?!? I am moving in a house dedicated to prayer, God, love and generally good vibes and the major emotions I have been feeling are negative? I think it really weirded me out because I just couldn't understand myself. Whenever I experience the unexplainable it always harder to accept.

I've been thinking and thinking and thinking about this. I've been so busy moving that honestly beside little snippets of prayer saying "oh thanx for letting us move here God" I haven't really been chatting with Him at all. (I mean I had boxes to unpack and rooms to organize!!) ***blush****shame***ducks head****

When I was at work someone asked me how it was going. I answered honestly and said "Well we got all the boxes and stuff into the house, but this move caught me off guard... I didn't expect to FEEL different with this move because we just were moving around the corner"....

I didn't expect to FEEL different.... 

                                         This move caught me off guard...

I kept thinking about how I responded to my co-worker...wondering even more why this was? The other day as I was deep in thought I started asking God what the deal was. Why was I finding this hard? What were these feelings? This move isn't FAR... I've moved much FURTHER in the past, shouldn't this be easy?

I didn't audibly hear a voice, but this soft thought came into my head followed by the sweet comfort that I have come to know as my God being near to me... "Moving nearer to me isn't always easy, but it will be worth it." and then "Learn what this feels like, let it teach you, let it grow you."

Let it teach me what? Let it grow me?

                                               Why is God so weird!!?!?

I had to let this question really sink into my soul. How could moving just around the corner teach me more about God or people? What was he on about? I chewed on it a bit more.

This morning Steve kissed me good-bye before his went to work... I tried to fall back asleep (because he leaves crazy early in the morning to go to his school job. Hollah!! out there for all the teacher, staff, parents and students that do that on a regular biases!), but for some reason this morning I couldn't doze back off. I started thinking again about this place and how we have moved here to pray and how we believe that prayer changes things. 

Then it hit me. God was teaching me how to be understanding and accepting of people who don't yet believe in him, or those who desperately want to pray and learn to chat with him, but think they have to sort out their life first before God will speak to them, or people that have KNOWN God for years, but just want to BE with him, or people that want to be spiritual, but are held back by their logic and feelings and struggle to understand or believe in God because they can't feel Him, or people like ME who get crazy busy with life and we forget to include God in it...

For all those people that hold back, get distracted or are down right lazy (me!) from MOVING nearer to God because they think connecting with God is some BIG moment with out realizing its more about the little moments, the little effort, the little moves that often bring us the nearest to God. 

Being connected to God isn't about GREAT MOVES... its simply rising to the challenge to move nearer to God when and where he has us.

But wait a second "moving nearer to God"? That is a bit out there, how can we as regular people move nearer to God?!? We realistically can't shoot ourselves into the heavens can we?

I wondered how we do this... How do I do this? Then a bible verses popped into my head:

"The Word (that's Jesus, the Son of God) became flesh and blood.... " just stop for a moment and think about that... the very spiritual, unseen, untouchable, unfeelable God the Son decided to be changed into something physical, seen, touchable and feeling-ful... woah! But back to this verse...

"The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one of a kind glory, like Father, like Son, GENEROUS inside and out, TRUE from start to finish." (John 1:14)

Are you getting this? God, who created all of this universe, if you can wrap your mind and heart around believing, went from being a fully spiritual being to being both fully God AND fully man.... and then he...

Took over the world....

          Found the biggest and most royal castle and ruled the world he created from there.....

                       defeated every great ruler of his time and became the Emperor of the World!!!!!!

What!?!? NOOOOOOOOO!!!

This great God of ours, through Jesus, chose to begin his great story simply when he "moved into the neighborhood".

Not a great move, but a small one... not an easy move, but a hard one (after all it cost Jesus his life!). A totally SPIRITUAL act of redemption through a totally PHYSICAL act of living and being human on this earth. God's story of connecting to us is about him moving his spiritual self to connect with our physical reality in an effort to show us that are physical existence is connected to his spiritual reality. 

Say what!?!? Basically what I am trying to say is this: if you want to meet God, if you want to connect with Him, if you want to BE with him... sometimes you need to be willing to MOVE. 

Sometimes that moving will involve you moving from one form of thinking to another, maybe another moving will be about you intentionally getting up and going to a prayer room and being there to pray, or maybe in your own home you need to move from sitting when you pray to kneeing (or vis-a-versa) or maybe you will be moved to help your neighbor, share your food or be friendly to a stranger, or maybe you need to move to get your bible and actually read it and learn who this God is about instead of just saying all the time you want to know God but never making the effort to meet him, or maybe he is asking you to move house...

I think sometimes people look at people who are "into God" or "more spiritual then they are" and they simply assume that those people where born that way or dipped in some kind of special holy water. Those people who are better than us at being Godly must have some super God gene that was just built into them...right?? right?? RIGHT!?!?

Well let me tell you, as someone that is "into God", I am no different than any other person. I have questions about God existence, I am jealous of those who are more kind, compassionate and loving than myself, sometimes I want to slap people who are able to trust God and be secure in His love when their lives are going down the crapper. I struggle on a daily biases to even care to read my bible, pray or attend church gatherings.... BUT (and there is always a good but in the end of a blog).... I learned a few years back that "MOVING nearer to God isn't always easy, but it is WORTH IT".

So here is the challenge for us all. If you are interested in connecting with God when was the last time you moved for him? Not just spiritually ... but physically too! When did you last move to pick up that bible, kneel down to pray, go for a walk to talk to God, make that meal for the sick person, donate to your local homeless shelter, be kind to that lonely neighbor, recycle to take care of the planet, teach your kids to value quality over quantity, attended that group that talks about Jesus, went to a prayer room to meet God....??? 

The list of how, when and where to meet God is endless and totally personal... I couldn't begin to tell you how to do it... but I do know it will take YOU MOVING! After all, connecting with God is a two way street, its as much about God moving into our neighbourhood to be with us as it is about us moving into God. 

So will you move? 

I will because today I am Moved to Pray.

Epic Summer Hols

Posted by Teen Bean in , , , , , , , , ,

I thought it was bout time that I updated everyone on the life of the Lawton Mafia... Jr.Edition.

It has now been 5 months that we have been living with our neighbour Tracy... Neighbour isn't a strong enough word for this woman. She has become so much more to Steve and I. She really has gone out of her way over the last 5 months to show Steve and I what true hospitality, friendship, care-FULL-ness and love really is. I feel like I have gained a new family member and the way Steve and I get to attend her family gatherings so naturally, is truely priceless. I never expected to fall so madly and deeply in love with her and even though Steve and I are really excited to move to the community house, it will be with heavy hearts and many tears that we leave Tracy's. She truely is a Legand. She even would endure dinners with us when we invited over our favorite little neighbour Amara!

Steve and I have had an epic summer holiday. We started July off with a TREAT. We finally saved enought money to buy ourselves a new car. We were really proud of this because it meant that we actually had to talk about money and be adult-ish in our lives... and getting the car seemed to be a mark of success that perhaps we are becoming mature and capable adults.

At the end of July we got to take a mini Vay-Kay to the English Channel Island of Guernsey. Steve and I were really happy to go back to the site of our honeymoon and laugh as we rememembered what it was like being first married and totally gob smacked with each other. We did a lot of island smooches. And we got to go wedding dress shopping (well the girls, the boys went fishing) with Steve's little sister Hannah, who went and fell in love with a Guernsey Boy. She gets married next September! love weddings! 

A week after that we packed up our, new to us, car and hit the road. We had 14 days and we decided to go on an road trip through France and Spain. Sprance or Frain.... whatever you prefer. It was such a quality time of being together and learning about what we both appreciate out of life. I think as a Christian, soon to be leader of a communal house, the thing that struck me most about our journey was learning that people who are searching need clear and obvious signs of what is coming up, how to get there and what is on offer. It needs to be clearly visible and in a clear language that they understand. Our journey re-inspired my love for being a spiritual guide and some of the views and experiences we had were truely intimate relationships growing times between me and God. He really took care of us the whole trip and both Steve and I look back at the two week journey and see how God was with us and working things out for us every step of the way. We ended our trip promising each other that we would remember how God stood by us in the good and bad momensts of the trip and took it to be a very tangible promise for our future and time to come in our communal house. This also fulfilled a life long goal of mine to go camping in France!

When we got back from our road trip we got to help put on our "Big Gathered Sunday". Steve and I were in-charge of worship and we did this reflective workship activity. We needed some wood and we called in our our friend and creator of Anrik Creations (on a side note he makes amazing wood furniture all from recycled wood!). We used the wood we got and grabbed some sandpaper and encouraged people to imagine themselves as the wood and God as the sandpaper and to reflect on the type of contact God and them have as they sanded this bit of wood. Then we got people to write what they love most about God all over the bits of wood. It was really a great worship experience and I totally recommend trying it.

However... I also need to update loads of you on our COMMUAL HOUSE. So we get to move into the new house the weekend of 14/15 of September. We can barley wait. I went in to the house over this weekend to help Katy and Rich (very minimally) as they were moving out. I walked into the prayer room and there scrolled out on one of our prayer walls was my big ass written prayer to God about how deeply I wanted to live in a home dedicated to him, how we wanted it to be a house with multiple family names in it, that we wanted it to be a house of prayer for the nations. Next to that I wrote a prayer about how I wanted more Godly men to join our community and really bring the change our neighborhood is crying out for.... gentleness, peace, fathers. My throat got all tight and my eyes a bit misty (hold on just like they are doing now!)... God has really provided for us. I shook my head as I was reading back my prayers to myself... Steve and I are getting to move into a house that many of our neighbours call the "God House", we have mutliple family names moving in as a girl from our community AND a boy from Germany have committed to join our house-share!! plus with the addition of the German boy, God sweeps in and answered three of my prayers in one move (male, international and 4th person!... God be clever like that!). 

Steve and I went to B&Q a few days ago because we also have been allowed to choose COLOURS to paint into the house. I know to most of you this wont be that big of a thing, but for me, as we were gettting the paint I was thinking of that bible verse "Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world!".... Did you feel that... the shiver!? HA well I did... I am getting so excited to keep being the light... to show people the God-colors he painted them in and how beautiful this worls is when seen in His light!

Woah! Super Spiritual!

Taking it back to normals-ville, Steve and I have just bought tennis rackets at a bootsale and we went and played for the first time and really enjoyed it. we are hoping to get into it more! we even went and looked into joining a tennis club, but i don't think we are posh enough. :)

Steve also has been saying his poetry here and there at local gigs and festivals and we are hoping that he will publish one of his poems in a book before the end of this year. He starts school on Tuesday... so back to working world for him.

Plus we have been having lots of BBQs and our favourites are with our roomie Tracy and her family! 

I am most looking forward to throwing a housewarming party that rocks the freaking block, have a killer halloween gathering, enjoying a scrummy Thanxgiving with my brother who is going to visit from America AND having the most fabulous 30th Prom Themed Birthday Party in early December (keep posted for more on that!).

Just wanted to flag up this really great moment in life. The last day of August and in my mind summer... and just say I am so ready for this Autumn, this epic summer was just a taster of how things are going to go this next year. So LET THE GAMES BEGIN! :)

Community Prayer House Seeking 4th Person

Posted by Teen Bean in , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Steve and I are co-leaders of Colchester Boiler Room, a 24-7 Prayer Community. We recently have been asked to job share a community worker role through a project called Abbeyfield Community Project. This project is supported by 7 local churches and has a vision to plant local missional churches on 6 newly build estates around the Abbeyfields in Colchester.

Part of this role comes with use of a large 4 bedroom house that over the last 3 1/2 years has been used by our community to be a home to a family of 3 and prayer community. The combo has worked really well and Steve and I are excited by the idea of continuing this with a bit of a twist. 

The twist being that we are hoping to share the house with a few different people.

Steve, Clare Field and I are all current members of the Colchester Boiler Room and are over joyed by the idea of moving into the house to live missionally for Jesus on our estate. But we want to ask for more. Steve and I have been married for the last two years and are in our late 20s early 30s and Clare is in her mid 20s. We all work full time jobs in Colchester and have a heart for prayer, people and Jesus.

Are you coming to live in Colchester.... Would you like to?!? Want to live in a missional house with 3 other people?

We seeking a 4th person join us to live in the house and share our passion for Jesus, Community and Prayer. This is not just about a house share, its an invitation to join intentional living and being missional. The type of person we are looking for is someone who is about prayer, wants to help keep the prayer room open, creative and prayed in. The person would want to help us be hospitable and creative to our neighbours. They would like the idea of eating together, studying the bible together and being nice to people. They MUST love Jesus and want to make him a priority in their life. Ideally we would love this to be a single man, as this would help to give balance in our house. We also would love it if they were only working part-time or less (or studying at uni!?!) and could be around and available in our community and house. (and since we have been blessed with the house the cost of living is going to be minimal). We would love for them to have a heart for local mission, English people, prayer, neighbours, being creative, a heart for 20 to 30 year olds and a desire to meeting new people. We'd also loved them to like the idea of living in Colchester and really blessing this normal town. If you know someone that is looking to get involved in a Christ- centred prayer community but not sure how to make it happen, have them contact us. Or if it is you, then contact us!

We are all planning to move into the house in September 2013. So spread the word. If you or someone you know is moving to Colchester or is already in Colchester and wants to get involved in a local, missional, prayer community then have them contact us. Email either Steve ( or Tina ( or give us call on 07904207238 (steve) or 07769978216 (Tina)

We would love to chat with you about what is all involved and seeing if it is a good fit for us all. Really look forward to chatting with you!


Taking God To Places We Thought Was Impossible

Posted by Teen Bean in , , , , , ,

This weekend Steve and I got to go away with other 20-30 year olds from Colchester for a weekend away of camping and reconnecting with God. The weekend was brilliantly organized and I give a big up to everyone that helped make it happen.

Part of the weekend we got to get together and listen to a guy named Chris share his thoughts on a couple different faith ideas. During one of the talks we got to talking about how important it is to see people the way that God sees them. Its easy to see people the way society sees them, the single mom, the sick neighbour, the junkie, the unemployed, the freaky artist, the over-the-top gamer, the alcoholic, the rude gardener, the obsessed sports man. Its easy to just take people at face value and never give them another thought.

But we were really challenge to stop and see people the way God would. How do you do that!?!? sometimes its quit hard, but if we believe that God is a Good God, then the things he creates (humans included) also have good in them. So what really makes these people tick? We were encouraged to give people a second look and to let ourselves notice people.... really notice them and try and find the good that God created them to be a part of.

Chris also challenged us, that  a big purpose of being a Christian, or a Christ-Follower, is about taking the goodness of God and speaking him out to the people around us, to our family, our friends, our work places, or holidays, were we shop, our neighbours.

But some of us quickly reminded him that some of those places are off limits to God and that unless we want to become a bad taste in people mouths we can't just go around telling people what God wants for them and what He thinks of them.

He then reminded us that as Christians seeing people the way God does (seeing the good in people) and having the guts to speak that out as encouragement and motivation to people, is the best way to take God into places that we thought was impossible to take God into.

Chris asked us to think of a time when someone said something encouraging to us. Go ahead... can you think of a time when someone said something to you that really encouraged you?

It marked you didn't it!?!?

If you remember it, then it did and it probably had something to do with shaping you into the positive version of yourself that you are becoming. If people can have such an impact on you, speaking out what they think of you, how much more of an impact can hearing what God has to say to you impact you for the better?

In the most basic form we can take God to places we though was impossible simply by saying positive, encouraging, up lifting things to the people around us. We can only do this when we challenge ourselves to really see the people around us. Paying people comments isn't something we do well as a society, taking God into the places around you simply by speaking out the good you see in people is a great place to start.

As Christians we believe that God speaks to us. That he has things that he wants to say to us. As a leader of a Prayer Community I would say that I define prayer as simply having a conversation with God. Conversations are not one sided.... its not just about one side (humans) asking all the questions or doing all the talking. A conversations is when both parties (human + God) take the time to tell each other what they are thinking and going through AND also listening to what the other side has to say.

When was the last time you did that with God... when was the last time I DID THAT WITH GOD!?!?!

I feel really challenged by this. I need to be seeing people the way God does, really taking notice of them and then talk about them with God. Seeing what God thinks about that person and ask what he might want to say to the people around me and then have the guts to tell people the Good that God wants to speak into their lives.... and let that mark them... in the great, good way that God marks people with his Love and Grace!

I'm not totally there on the last part. I don't often feel challenged to go up to the people around me and say "God wanted me to tell you this..." but I think I can start being more intentional about taking notice of people and noticing the good in them and then speak that out to them as encouragement. God's Kingdom Come!

Colchester Scrap Scheme: My idea of heaven!

Posted by Teen Bean in , , , ,

So as a support worker for homeless young people I get to do a lot of things that technically are "work" but which I can honestly say would be something I would do wether I was paid or not!!

One of my recent tasks was to find affordable art supplies for a project our young people want to do. As I hunted on the Internet for the best deals I ran across something called "Bright Ideas". It's seemed to good to be true. A warehouse filled with any number of random left overs donated by businesses  or individuals that find themselves with a lot of left overs that they just can't bare to throw away. The epitome of "one man's trash is another man's treasure".

My manager (who happens to be the best manager ever) said she knew about the place from back in the day when she was a journalist and wrote a story on it opening up and she would drive us down there to see what we could find.




When we walked in there was so much goodness and loveliness everywhere I didn't know where to start. From glitter in little tubs, to left over cut off of paper, to shavings of coloured plastic, to buttons, to  left over paint, to crazy Christmas decorations, to bags of magnetic tape from inside videos all ripped out and put into separate SELLABLE bags! It just didn't stop!

Container after container of bits and bobs!

Plus snooker balls!!!

Maybe I could make some chalkboards!!? OUT OF EVERYTHING!

Ahhh now I can write to all the people I love!!!!

So much material I felt like I had found a pirate secret treasure cave! If these pirates had a love for crafts and everything great!

And it wouldn't be a scrap scheme in Essex if they didn't have an abundance of mascara!!!

Not only is this place a great place to let your creative juices flow, but it's also a way to give back and make this world a better place. Waste is something that always annoys me and I also love the creativeness of recycling. Loads of people think recycling is this really boring, out of the way rubbish job. But Colchester Scrap Scheme reminded me how awesome it is to not just throw something away because its original purpose passed, but to try and revisit its use with a different angle or purpose and to HAVE FUN!!!

So if you find yourself in need of cheap craft supplies or are just curious about this treasure trove in Colchester then get yourself to the Hythe in Colchester Monday, Friday or Saturday 10am to 1pm and get shopping.

By the by, my manager and I stuffed two shopping baskets full and only spent £12 so yo! Being creative, giving back and recycling is affordable and ANYONE can do it. So DO IT!

P.S. I see this place as being a common prayer room supply top up shop!

Community Allotment: Life Lesson

Posted by Teen Bean in , , , , ,

So we have this little allotment that we like to think is a community allotment. The dream was to have loads of people from our estate coming together and help grow plants (and their relationship with the creator God!) We wanted to read a bible verse and let the work of tending the earth inspire our prayers.

Over the last year this has and has not happened. What I have learned is that lots of people like the idea of growing things in an allotment but, when push comes to shove, are not interested in showing  up on a regular bases to make that happen!

However! Something else I have learned is that with just a few people, lots of work can be done (both physically and spiritually) and lots of magic can happen right before yours eyes. 

Above all, the allotment teaches me about patience. We do have a big dream about growing people's desire and love for the earth that God created... But every great dream starts small... Just like every great harvest started as just a palm full of seeds.

But that is distracting me from the lesson I learned just this last week at our allotment. I believe that God speaks to humans in all manner of creative ways. Now I get it, humans hear that word "speak" and very logically think that in order to hear God they have to hear THE actual audible voice of God (which in our human minds is probably some mixture of darth vader + mustafa + Ron burgundy). 

But I honestly can say I have heard the voice of God with out actually hearing an audible voice. I guess it's in the same way that someone looks at a painting and says "this piece speaks to me" or an audience listening to their favourite musical instrument can respond "that really spoke to me". We get it. We don't actually think that a painting grew a mouth and spoke or that a musical instrument can carry on a conversation, but we realise there is a beautiful and totally intimate way humans are able to communicate thoughts, emotions and action all with out saying one word.

That is why I love our allotment. I get to go, and not just see or appreciate, but actually be a part of the glorious art canvas God created called Earth. And the most amazing part is that unlike all those art pieces that are fixed, out of reach and just for display; God's art is calling out for people to get involved and learn more about his love as we immerse ourselves in his creation.

So again slightly getting off topic, but it's good to see that I try and approach our allotment times not as just a time to grow  vegetables and build team spirit, but as times to let God use his art creations to speak to me about who he is. And the more I know who God is, then the more I will know what He is up to. And the more I know what he is up to, the more I know how I can join in His plan to add good to this world. A real time for him to tell me how much he loves me and for me to tell him how much I love him all in ACTION (which is what love is all about).

So as I was weeding my ever growing garlic plants, I tried to think about how the work I was doing to grow vegetables could inspire the growth of our Christ centred community. There were loads of weeds around the garlic (and everything else to be fair). I mean one week of leaving this allotment alone and we had loads of work on our hands (ever felt that about the community you are in?). So I needed to get these garlic weeded and on to the next. I grabbed our ever trusty hoe and was just getting ready to hoe the rows when I realised that in the excitement of planting we had made the rows to close together and to get a hoe down a row would inevitably take out the garlics plants too! I threw the hoe aside, got down on my knees and had to hand weed the whole of the garlic bed. I kept thinking, "so much work! Why didn't we think of the tools we were going to use to maintain these plants before we just rushed to plant them!?!". 

Then the great moment. In my own thoughts, frustrations and work God spoke to me. He reminded me that planting and sowing is important but it takes a wise person to not just see the seeds that will be planted but the full mature plants they will become. It takes the courage to believe that when seeds are planted God will do the growing but God likes people to get involved with helping to maintain how he grows plants (or people)... And people can do that the easy way or the hard way. The true life lesson was learned as God reminded me that as a leader of a Christ centred community I need to make sure to be excited about spiritually planting seeds of hope into people but to have the wisdom to look into the future and ask "how will we maintain this grown when it is much much much bigger than these seeds we are planting!?!" Cuz, know this, God will grow the seeds that we plant, but he gives us the freedom to choose how we get involved with helping plants (or people) grow... And we can either do that the easy way, with well thought out tools, or the hard way, with out any tools at all!