The Ultimate Insider

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You know this whole 'moving to England to be with the love of my life' has been awesome... but the one down side is that more often then not I feel like an 'outsider' rather then an 'insider'.

Most the time I completely don't even notice because I love learning new things and meeting new people... However!! I've gotten used to really noticing this feeling in extreme cases of exclusion or clued-outness (mostly conversation topic wise).

I must admit I wasn't fully prepared for the positive awesome feeling of experiencing, not the out-ness of an outsider, but the In-ness of an insider!

The other day when Claire (my husbands eldest sister) called me and said that Denise (his mom) and Hannah (his litter sister) were wondering if they could come to Colchester to celebrate Claire's birthday with me over a lunch or tea I have never felt like more of an INSIDER!! in my whole life!

It was in that moment that I realized I'm not just some girl that came to live with some boy in England trying my best to be some version of a good wife. But I am actually someone's daughter, someone's sister, someone's friend.

They didn't have to consider me. For a long time its just been the three ladies of their family... but they chose to remember me.

I miss my American family every day. They know and understand a part of me that not many people will ever experience. They can NEVER be replace. But I love that they showed me a love that wasn't limited but constantly expanding!

So that in moments like these I can learn to love more, learn to be family more!

Love isn't divided; it's multiplied! 

I can't thank steve's family enough for never making me feel like an outsider, but always... ALWAY making me feel like the ultimate insider as a sister and daughter!

I heart my growing family!

Two Week Count Down!

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I'm so excited for my new job to start. I officially have been offered a position as a housing support worker for 16-25 year olds in my town. This is the exact job that I wanted and I am really so so so excited to get started.

I think what excites me most is that I went in for a visit the other day and got to meet some of the staff and kids. Not only were they lovely, but they started telling me how they are really hoping to have a season of starting some really new and exciting events for everyone to get involved in.

They told me how one of the big reasons they wanted me to join their team was to help them initiate some new ideas and projects for the young people. I got to sit and chat about starting things like movie clubs, book clubs, table tennis tournies, bake offs, days out, football clubs and so many other awesome things.

Then I got my job contract in the mail and again as I was reading over my job description I started getting goose-bumpy at the points where it said some of my job will be helping the young people get involved in the community! *big cheesy smile from ear to ear!*

Over the next two weeks I have just scheduled loads of time off from my normal week of running around like a mad person. I purposefully have made myself as free as possible to hopefully have time to spend with my friends and family before the insanity of this job kicks off! As much as I am going to love working full-time again it also is going to cut into how much time I have to just be around my neighborhood and friends.

I've gotten so used to having lots of time for the people I live around I am nervous that it will be harder and harder to get to know my neighbors, but I'm still hoping that the longer steve and I live around here the more chances we will have to see the neighbors and friends we have on this estate working together to know each other and be the awesome people I have come to know and love!

Our estate is such an awesome place and it is with slight sadness that I move my main focus from getting to hang out with people there to this new job, but I know God is in control of this and even though it leaves a lot of unanswered questions... The biggest one being *How do I help lead a Christ-centred community when my focus is now going to be so divided between work and my local community?... I must trust that God is going to work things out.

There is so much good happening on our Estate. I feel this is a season of things multiplying, but we are still on the edge and that multiplication hasn't happened yet. So it take a a large dose of hope and trust, but I like knowing it is not by my power or might that good happens in this world, but through the awesome character of our creator Father that all things work together for good!

Crazy Camper's Campsite Review: The Orchard Campground, Suffolk

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Camping is one of my biggest passions. Upon moving to England I was a bit shocked to find that most people have never been camping and many who have been camping have become camp haters...

After living in England for the last year I definitely have begun to uncover the reasons for these opinions, as the average campsite in England is usually just a large open field in the middle of a no-where-small-English-village. Gone are my American spoiled days of wooded campground, built in fire pits, nature walks, large lakes, undiscovered caves, spotting of fawns and other innocent wildlife and the ability to guarantee the state of the weather...

I was convinced that my good camping days, especially on English soil, were over.

However or the last weekend Steve and I were slipped insider information into a campsite that supposedly allowed 'open fires'. (Side Note: due to the extremes of health and safety most camp grounds will not allow open fires because someone could get hurt... talk about taking away all the fun of camping!)

So with our trusty little blue demon car all loaded up with our camping gear we head out to Wickham Market, Suffolk's The Orchard Campgrounds to see what they had to offer.

I am happy to report this campground by far is my new favorite place to camp in England. We looked the campsite up and plugged the post code into our Sat. Nav. We wondered the whole way if we would really find the site because no signs were posted anywhere giving directions or assurance that we were following the right path.

At the end we were weaving down what appeared to be someones private drive only to realize it was indeed a road and the campsite was located off that.

After only a quick hour and 45 min drive from Colchester we arrived ....

Check in was ridiculously easy. We had phone before we left asking if they were really fully booked for the weekend (as their website said) but they said they had space for us. We found the staff to be really down to earth and friendly.

The campsite boasted over 42 varieties of bottled beers, ales and wines and they were not joking. Their little convenient shop was stacked up with bottle after bottle of tempting brews and vino. They also had a frig packed to the gills with locally sourced meats for grilling up as you please.

They offered to do a fire kit (kindling and a wheelbarrow of wood) for £20... this seemed a bit pricey but they said if we brought back half a wheelbarrow they would reimburse us £7.50 = DEAL.

The receptionist then walked us around their little campgrounds to see where would be a good spot for us and let us choose a nice cozy corner in amongst some trees. He was hoping we could stay more by their river, but a group of campers had spread out more than he anticipated. (we were quit happy about this because the nearer to the river the more it did smell of pooh, but we chalked it up to the river and being outdoors!).

We got our tent set up with little to no hassle; Steve and I were patting ourselves on the back for what expert campers we have turned into. We got all our things settled and then went for a little campground discovery walk.

This campground was the thing kids dreams are made of. It had a gently flowing river that kids could paddle in or go river dipping with nets. We got to see a few river creatures that had been joyfully caught by a happy gang of river children. Periodically through out the campground were rope swings tied to trees that could even manage the bigg-ness of our adult-ness!

There was a secluded little pond surrounded by patches of woods that contained hand built forts by, what I can only assume was, another notorious gang of forest children (complete with a Girls Only sign broken in half by what I guess was the remains of a full on boy vs girl battle of dominance. Who won is hard to tell, but the tree foliage sure took a beating).

A littler further on where two old school gypsy caravans of which I have only ever heard of and never seen. Even though I am in love with our tent 'The Emerald Castle' I was a bit jealous of the guest that got to stay in those gypsy caravans!

We meandered up to the Toilet/Shower/Kitchen facilities and again were quit pleased. The toilets and showers were average, but clean (and bonus in my book fully stocked with T.P.). The Kitchen area was cool as they had two refrigerators for guest to store temperature sensitive food if they wish. Bonus for milk not going off! They even had a washer, dryer and microwave!

Near their reception area they had a cozy out-door cafe style area, where guest could order simple bbq foods and drinks. They had a massive T.V. set up which was constantly showing the Olympics- so everyone seemed really happy.

We collected our wheelbarrow of wood and headed back to our campsite where we unloaded and popped open the wine (we forgot a wine bottle opener, but lucky for us our next door neighbours were friendly enough and more prepared).

We settled in and read the rest of our Hunger Games book. Nothing better then sitting outside and reading with your favorite person in the world! We also served ourselves up a wicked selection of cheese and crackers so I was overly happy. Steve went up to the shop to grab a few brews (an Abbots Ale and a Spooky Ale!) while I stayed satisfied with my wine.

As it started getting dark we decided to start up our fire, sense we really wanted to enjoy the fact that we FINALLY had found a campground that allowed open fires. Steve had our baby fire roaring in a matter of minutes and we sat taking in the ever hypnotic flames. When the coals were really amber we made a make-shift grill (Side Note: while using wood to be the support beams for a metal grill can work, it would be much better to use an all nonflammable device to grill meats!).

But finally, YUM we ate a filling dinner of sausages, crips and coleslaw.

We sat for the next 3+ Hours taking in the flames, finishing our drinks and talking overly long about each topic of conversation = BLISS! 

We hopped into our tent cozy tent and slept away!

It was such a beautiful weekend that the next morning we woke up greeted again by the sun. We struck up the gas grill to make our breakfast. The one sad let down was that we forgot to bring a big water bottle and had to keep hiking back to the front end of the campground to fill whatever we could find with water to trek it back to our campsite! (Side Not: Buy camping water jug!).

After breakfast we lined up for showers, which again were included in the campground cost. They were warm and spacious, but again showing in Campgrounds is not my favorite so I just showered and dressed as quickly as possible and got out of there!

Once we were squeaky clean we went back and packed up camp, got our re-fund for half a barrel of unused firewood and got out of there! A wedding was getting set up for that afternoon and we were happy to leave them to it.

All in all, the camping experience was amazing. We loved how easy it was to get there and set up. Loved that we could drive our car right to our camping site. Loved that they supplied us with wood (wish it could have just been a bit cheaper, but glad for the re-fund). Loved our OPEN CAMP FIRE. Loved the atmosphere (though there were 5 million children everywhere, they did mostly keep to themselves and didn't bother us a bit). Loved how cute and friendly the campground and staff where. Loved the tree rope swings. And Loved that it only cost £16 for a campsite.

We both give it a two thumbs up and can't wait to go again!

We love camping!

Why pray for Muslim people?

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For those of you who didn't know, Ramadan is a time that Muslim people set aside a whole month to fast and pray. This is really important to Muslim people because the Muslim Faith has 5 'must do' or 'pillars' that help confirm a persons faith and acceptance by God.... and practicing a month of praying and fasting or Ramadan is one of those 5 pillars.

And Also if you didn't know Ramadan is happening right now! From 20th July to 19th of August.

As a Christians, Muslim people should be very very close to our hearts. If you look (and you don't have to look that hard) you will see that our story is one and the same....

Once upon a Bible Story there was a guy named Abraham. He was just your average guy, but God chose him to do something special. God chose Abraham to be a part of His plan to save all the people in the world... (remember when God originally made the world it was suppose to be a place where no bad things happened, but because humans made the mistake of letting evil things (or sin) into the world by choosing bad over God's good i.e. naked man and woman in garden munching down fruit from the tree God asked them not to eat from... #EpicOops... God now had to come up with a way of getting his creation out of the dirty mess we made.)

So back to the Abraham... He agrees that he will be a part of God's rescue plan and then God tells him that the way he is going to do it is through Abraham's family... that Abraham will have a son and that son will have sons and they will have more sons and then... duh duh duh... God will send his own special son through this family into our world to rescue us from the mess we got in.

Abraham was more than happy to hear the plan, but also a little confused. See, he and his wife Sarah were childless and on top of it all God decided to tell Abraham his plan when he and Sarah were much to old to have babies (think of your grandparents and then add a few years!)...

But God told both Sarah and Abraham to just trust him that he would work it out. But ... you guessed it, true to our human nature Sarah and Abraham just had a hard time trusting that God could work this miracle child into their story... So they decided to take matters into their own hands... Sarah told Abraham to sleep with her servant girl and to get her preggo. Abraham did it and the servant girl, Hagar, became pregnant and gave birth to a baby boy named Ishmael.

But this wasn't what God had promised. He had promised that Abraham and Sarah would have a baby... not Abraham and Hagar. And to top it off once Hagar had her baby Sarah couldn't stand the sight of her or the baby and started to treat them horribly (even though this was all her idea to begin with!).

God reminds Sarah and Abraham what he promised and soon Sarah becomes pregnant and gives birth to a baby boy they name Isaac. Isaac goes on to have twins name Esau and Jacob... Jacob goes on to have twelve sons who become the 12 tribes of Israel... the 2nd born of this twelve is Judah who descendants have the famous King David (yep the boy that killed the giant Goliath) who's descendants have Mary and Joseph who become the parents of Jesus, God's promised child to rescue our world...

The End....

If only it was all that simple.... but see the one thing that humans keep forgetting is that their actions and re-actions to God's plans have consequences. God is in control of his plan and what is going on, but he isn't a puppet master. He lets us choose what we will do and also the fall out from that. If we choose to get involved in God's plan the fall out is God's amazing blessing. If we choose the opposite it often brings with it issues that make things complicated, but still not impossible for God to work out his plan... but way more complicated.

Remember Ishmael... well Ishmael goes on to have loads of kids too and his descendants believe that Ishmael was the child God promised. This has caused loads of tension between these two families... and that tension has continued as the two families have tried to tell the story of God's plan... one family divided by a moment in time when humans decided again that we knew better than God.

Ishmael's descendants have continued in their faith and are known as Muslims. Isaac's descendants have continued in their faith and are known as Christians. One family broken by humans trying to work out the promises of God through their own power instead of trusting God in his. 

Both believe in the same God, but struggle to clearly understand and see who and what are God's promises. Muslims have missed that Jesus is the promised child because they are two caught up in trying to earn their place in God's story. Christians often miss the full importance of Jesus by failing to make the connection between the Muslim and Christian story of God, as well as failing to honor Jesus through a lack of love and care for Muslims.

So, Why do we pray for Muslim people?

we pray for them because if we look back at the story we realize that they are our closet brothers and sisters.

we pray for them because we realize that, through no fault of their own, they are often mistreated and hated.

we pray for them because often the way Christians treat Muslims completely dis-honors the Jesus we claim is their savior and loves them unconditionally.

we pray for them because they are so near to the story of God that its hard for them to see how Jesus is more than just a prophet but is actually the promised child of their and our great ancestor Abraham.

we pray for them because just like us before Jesus came and took our place, we to felt like it was through deeds and good works that we had to earn our relationship with God and it was hard... even impossible... and we want them to experience the freedom of knowing that Jesus has completed every law on our behalf and we are free now to just be in relationship with the one true God we all love and pray too.

we pray for them because we love them!

Join Colchester Boiler Room on 17th August 2012, 8p to midnight to pray during this season of Ramadan for our Muslim brothers and sisters. We all have much to learn and praying for broken families to be re-united is exactly the love Jesus died for us to show!

message me at to get involved.

If God's so good why is there evil?

Posted by Teen Bean in , , , , ,

If God is so good then why the hell (if there even is a hell) does evil exist in this world? This is a question that often comes up when people find out that I love God and think that being a Christian is one of the most important decisions I have ever made in my life.

Most the time when I hear this question I know people are more wondering why bad things have happened in their personal life... so often there is no reason to really try and defend anything because mostly people are just using this question to open up a space to talk about why they have experienced hurt in their own life and all they really need is a listening ear.

However, when I have these conversations with people I always find myself (after that moment) flipping through my bible asking God the same question... "Geez God, if you are so good and so powerful, why do we have so much crap going on in our world?"

Steve and I are responsible for telling the bible story for Messy Church this coming up Sunday. So, the other night we thought it might be good to read it again. After I complained about having to read 4 chapters of the bible in a row... (flip how spiritual do you think I am? 4 chapters is a big ol'chunker *wink/wink*) Steve and I settled down into reading the story of Noah.

The Story of Noah starts off as God looks down on the world and sees that everyone around him is doing evil, evil, evil. It says that God was sorry that he had ever even made humans because all they seemed bent on doing was bad things and it was breaking his heart.

So, God decided that he would just get rid of all the evil in the world. But in order to do this that meant he had to get rid of all the human and animals that were caught up in this evil. God probably considered just forcing the humans to do good, but he didn't want slaves or robots- God desired a family, relationships, he wanted people to want to choose to love Him. But not only were humans choosing not to love God they also decided doing evil was more to their liking and it was destroying everything good in our world- and God couldn't let that happen!

None the less, God being all good and powerful decided (as I hear many people ask today) to get rid of all the evil in the world... but getting rid of all the evil in the world comes with some pretty heavy consequences and let me just say, we as a human race don't fare well...

If you are familiar with the story of Noah, you will know that after God decides to purge the world of evil he can't bear to put everyone through it because he sees that Noah is a good man, who loves God and enjoys doing what pleases God. God decides to save Noah and his family and warns them what is coming and gives them instructions to build a massive ark that not only Noah and his wife and three sons and their three wives can escape in, but also two of every kind of wild animal, farm animals, bug, birds... the whole lot!

True to his world after the ark is built and Noah, his family and animals are safely inside the rain comes... and as the story goes for 40 days and 40 nights the entire world is flooded. God did what I'm sure the good people of that time were constantly asking, he got rid of all the evil... but that meant he also got rid of all the humans (save the few that were on the ark).

Now if all of this hasn't been an epic of enough story for you then hang on to the end. There Noah and his family are floating around on this new 'Water World' wondering if God had forgotten about them. But then the water starts to recede. And exactly one year after God gave his warning to Noah and his family  they were able to come out of the Ark on to dry land. They were so grateful to be alive that they worshiped God and thanked him for saving them.

And in that moment God looked down on the world and I can only imagine the amount of joy and heart-ache he was in. Though he was glad to be rid of evil he hated that humans got swept away in that process. So God did something that would change the face of history for all time. He made a promise to all the humans left on earth... He promised them that never again- no matter how bad things get (and God knew humans had a bent toward evil), but never again would he kill every living thing as he had done during the time of Noah. Then he put a rainbow in the sky and said he would use this as a reminder to humans and himself that he would never punish his creation like that again.


Do we realize what a precious time we are living in? God is staying true to his promises. In spite of gangster using violence to control their neighborhood, dictators using their power to murder millions of their countrymen because of skin color, mothers abandoning their children for the next quick fix of sex or drug, despite thousands of westerners abusing millions of southerners so they can shop in air-conditioned malls and buy a shirt for less than a fiver and congratulate themselves for getting such a bargain as they rob helpless families of decent wages, regardless of men and women using each other for sex and claiming to be searching for love and not being prudes, of oil companies bent on making money at the expense of the environment and healthy community development, of 11 year old girls and boys being trafficked from eastern parts of Europe to the UK to become sex objects and toys for visiting guest to the London 2012 Olympics, despite toddlers starving to death in slums because they were left orphans when their parents died of HIV.... need I go on? famine, war, disease, .... or as the story of Noah would say "evil, evil, evil".... yet where is our great flood?

Why is God not hatching another natural disaster plan to rid this world of evil? Are we not tired of hearing and seeing evil?? God being all good and powerful can't you do something!?!?!? Do we really want him to? They say history has a way of repeating itself- what if God really did cleanse this earth from evil- would we survive? Would we be on the inside of Noah's ark or banging on the outside as the cleansing flood waters rise?


God is just as heart-broken now as he was in the time of Noah- But he made a promise... never again to  make a plan to get rid of evil by killing off humans. God loves us to much to let that be the plan-

So a few thousands years ago God made up a new plan and then he told a guy named Abraham the plan and made him a new promise that involved Abraham and his family to being chosen as a special group of people that God could use to keep the promise that he made to Noah. See God's new plan was simple- instead of holding humans accountable for the wrong things they did he would send his son to take the heat for them... for all of them.

For the next couple of thousand years this family of Abraham lived waiting for this promise of God- as the world got more and more evil (because humans just keep choosing bad over just loving God)... then  a couple thousand years old the beginning of God keeping this promises began. A preteen girl (yep she is related to that Abraham guy) in a no-where fancy place was visited by an angel and told she would carry the son of God in her belly. This girl believed what she heard and gave birth to Jesus.

Then Jesus did something no one else on this planet had the ability to do-  being100% man and 100% God (wrap your mind around that one-  you got it- Jesus was a super human) He chooses to cast off his power and ability to wipe out the earth's evil by any choice of natural disaster and instead chooses to take the blame for all the evil ever done (though he had never done one wrong thing his whole life) and then wipe himself out and all the evil with it!

That is what Jesus hanging on the cross symbolizes- all the evil being killed once and for all! But The story doesn't end there. See God still wants people to choose him. So he wanted all the people on earth to hear about how much he loved- how he loved them so much he sent his son to make a way for them not to be punished to death for the wrong things they had done, but to realize how much God wants them to be in his family- to be in relationship with him...

So in an extreme act of mercy God chooses to wait and let all the people in this world hear this great story that start thousands of years ago- A story about a very good God wanting humans to choose to love him, of him making them promises that keeps them alive and of him taking radical and extreme measures to make sure Humans survive the world being rid of evil.

So the next time you start asking yourself the question "Why is such a good God not stopping all the evil in the world?" consider the story of Noah... because just like during that time when God saw evil happening on this earth, said "Enough", hatched a plan to get rid of it, gave people time to prepare and choose weather they were inside the ark or outside and then followed through on the flood.... we are living in the sequel of that story.... God has seen evil again on this earth, he has said "Enough", he hatched a new plan that to get rid of evil and set it into motion when Jesus came and died for all the evil in this world- but the story doesn't end there... we are in the part of the story where God is giving people time to prepare and choose weather they want to love him or not. There is a time when God will rid this world of evil- once he knows everyone has heard what Jesus has done and they have been given the choice to love him- Jesus will come... and the rain he brings with him will bring more change to this world then was ever experience before- even more then Noah's story!