Everyone has a story. We live off stories, we thrive off stories, it’s what makes us who we are. I have to say, having studied literature I’m probably a little biased but I love stories; hearing them, telling them, making them. That’s why I’m so excited about what’s going on right now. Christian Unions across the country have had or are having a STORY week in which they invite people to come and tell their stories, ask their questions and hear the beautiful story of Jesus.

‘The Joy of the Lord is my strength.’ That was my anthem last week as I had the delight of joining STORY Swansea. Not only did I get to hear inspiring testimony of olympians, scientists, bankers, ex drug addicts, but I got to see stories unfolding there and then. The sheer amount of people I got to stop and chat to handing out flyers on a gloriously sunny day. The faithfulness of the students handing out flyers and talking to people all day – one student having wonderfully given his life to the Lord just the week before and still boldly stepping out each day with a smile on his face to tell people about Jesus. The conversations I got to have with people , hearing their ideas and lives, it was a privilege to be a part of, it still astounds me every day that God would choose to use and bless me in this way. To hear people from a lifetime of suffering to say this is the hope they need, to hear people say that Jesus is knocking, to hear people say that all the suffering they have faced has been used for God’s glory.

Sometimes I have those moments where I feel like I’m glimpsing glory as I call it. Most commonly when I’m surrounded by a roomful of people that love Jesus shouting his praises and our hearts sing with one accord. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced that but it’s those times when I can’t help but smile uncontrollably that I stop and think this must be a little but of what it’s like to be living in glory. To experience just a taste of the sure hope that we have. Well I think I was glimpsing glory last week. To see one person give their life to the Lord on Tuesday and come back on Wednesday saying it’s been just such a great day, so happy, so free. The Kingdom was growing in Swansea, the Lord is saving mightily. The joy of the Lord really was my strength – it may have been exhausting but it was brilliant, every minute, seeing the joy Jesus brings to people, that’s what puts a spring in my step as I walk around campus, that gives us strength and keeps us going. Whether it was talking late into the evening, praying with people as they step out in faith or driving along the beach listening to the Greatest Showman so loud we couldn’t hear ourselves shout and eating horrendously big ice creams by the sea, I like to think I was glimpsing glory. Someone recently said the Church or more broadly Christians are just walking each other home. I think that’s wonderful and so true, as we go through this week, we’re just bringing people home.

This is why I cannot wait for STORY Lancaster next week. Inviting people to come into our big marquee all week to share their stories, to hear stories, to make stories, to see lives transformed, because this is just the beginning.

My story? I’d say my story of walking with Jesus is one of shattered dreams. Shattered dreams but an infinitely better reality. I’m a dreamer, I won’t deny it. I dream about every way my life could go, the best possible things I can imagine happening. I dream of distant futures as I’m falling to sleep, I’m lost in daydreams of everything this world could offer me. But dreams don’t always come true, sorry kids. But I have a reality that is so much more than I could ever imagine. I plan things out in my head all the time and yet rarely are these the things I love the most. My story is being constantly surprised by the new blessings God gives me, turning my life in a new direction far away from any of my dizziest daydreams. Did I expect to be living like this had you asked me five years ago? Definitely not. Am I glad? Definitely. My dreams are limited to my imagination but thankfully God is not. It certainly makes things a lot more exciting that way.

In his letter, John tells us that God is love. He doesn’t say God is loving or love is godly, but that God is love, it is his very nature. With that in mind I was thinking about a few lines of a well known song:

Love, love changes everything,
How you live and how you die

Yes Love, love changes everything,
Now I tremble at your name,
Nothing in the world will ever be the same

Love, love changes everything,
Days are longer, words mean more,
Love, love changes everything,
Pain is deeper than before,
Love will turn your world around,
And that world will last forever,
Yes love, love changes everything.

We get to spend a week and a lifetime sharing the greatest story ever told. Everyone will have different responses to this story, that’s what makes us all so wonderful and unique, but if it’s true, it changes everything. 🙂



Heading Home


I’ve recently been asking questions about what the future holds and last week I was at a New Years Training Conference thinking about those same questions and mostly what God has to say about them.

It was a fantastic week not least because of incredible teaching but such wonderful worship. It’s times like this when we’re all standing together singing praises, full of such joy that I think I taste a little bit Heaven. I remember how beautiful is the God we serve and how wonderful it is to serve him together. One line from a song I LOVE stuck out in particular: ‘Bringing reconciliation to a world that longs to know, the affections of a father who will never let them go.’ Isn’t that beautiful? On average a person makes 70 decisions a day, 25,480 decisions a year and about 2 million in their lifetime. That’s terrifying. That’s a lot of decisions to make, some of them very small like do I have ketchup or BBQ sauce? Should I wash my hair today? Some of them a lot bigger like what do I want to do for a job? or where do I want to live? But one choice I can make every day is to know the affections of a father who will never let me go.

John Ortberg said, ‘God’s primary will for your life is not the circumstances you inhabit, it’s the person you become.’ Sometimes it can be easy to get caught up in chasing God’s exact will for my life. God cares about each and every one of my choices but cares more about the person they make me. And thankfully, he is in the business of redeeming people in their mistakes and bringing them home. Another song we sang, more familiar to many, comes to a great climax in the last verse with the words, ‘And Christ shall come with shouts of acclamation.’ Personally, I always put the word acclamation in the generic category of ‘proclamation’, ‘exclamation’, ‘declaration’ and all the other ‘…ations’ until I actually looked it up. According to the dictionary, ‘Acclamation’ means ‘loud and enthusiastic approval.’ Synonyms include: praise, applause, ovation. Again, isn’t that beautiful? That one day, Christ shall come and loudly and enthusiastically approve of me? That even in all my mistakes and bad decisions, he will come applauding, not because of any choices I have made but because of the choice He has made. As I start a new year and think about all the choices I will have to make, most of them probably wrong, that’s something I’m happy to shout about. It’s hard to even really comprehend.

I’m very excited about this year, even if I don’t know what it holds yet because singing that well known hymn in a roomful of people that love Jesus reminds me that this life is just leading us home. And, like any good Sat Nav, I will inevitably make a whole load of wrong turnings, have to recalculate and make the odd unexpected U turn but ultimately, it’s not about the circumstances they lead me to inhabit but the person they lead me to become so that I can look back and say I know the affections of my Father who will never let me go.

I’ve been blessed with opportunity this year, a blank page to write my story or a winter’s morning to etch my footprints in the snow but I’m happy not to hold the pen or navigate the walk because wherever I’m heading, I’m heading Home 🙂

My Treasure


I’m not really one for forward planning. At least not in the long term, it’s not my greatest asset. But God is the King of forward planning and nothing demonstrates this better than the Christmas story. From the beginning of time, this story was planned. In fact, there are 39 books of the Bible all acting as a trailer before Jesus comes to earth. Much like this life is acting as one long trailer for what comes next. Although that’s the thing, it’s not long, and I’m not very good at planning for it. I’m not very good at committing to things, maybe because things in this world are so fragile, so fleeting.

But God was committed. He was committed to the fragile and the fleeting. He was committed from the very beginning to come down to our earth as the great hymn writer Charles Wesley tells us ‘pleased as man with man to dwell’. What a precious gift. The question is, what do we do with this gift now? Where are we going to keep our treasure? We’re in that week between Christmas and New Year that I absolutely love. The excitement has come and now we get to eat all the leftover food, spend time with the family and we get to play with all our new toys. I think it’s my favourite time of year. We are living in the light of Christmas. And I get to just enjoy the best gift of all.

But as I look forward to New Year, I’ve got a lot of big decisions to make. I want to enjoy my treasure looking ahead to New Year and beyond. I hope at some point to get better at forward planning but something I’ve learnt so poignantly this year is that I am investing in a much greater future, a much longer future and a much more exciting future. That’s a future I want to plan for. But just how do I store my treasure in Heaven? I’ve recently come across a song that I think answers this question so beautifully. It’s called So Will I and as I plan my New year’s Resolutions, I think this makes a pretty good list.

If the stars were made to worship, so will I.
If creation sings your praises, so will I.
If it all reveals your nature, so will I.
If creation still obeys you, so will I.
If the mountains bow in reverence, so will I.
If the oceans roar your greatness, so will I.
For if everything exists to lift you high, so will I.
If the wind goes where you send it, so will I.
If the rocks cry out in silence, so will I.

If you left the grave behind you
If you gladly chose surrender
If you gave your life to love them

So will I.*

Like the stars I was made to worship, like creation I was made to reveal your nature, like the ocean I was made to roar your greatness and like the wind I want to go where you send me. You left the grave behind you, gladly choosing surrender to give your life to love. That’s some New Year’s resolution. I absolutely love this time of year, living in the light of Christmas, while everything is still new and exciting. While the gifts are freshly opened and peace and joy dominate with smiles all round. Much like the wind, I don’t know where life will take me this year and it will involve, like any time, some relatively significant decisions but I’m slowly learning to plan for a different future and what a way to enjoy the treasure of Christmas. 🙂

*Words taken from Hillsong So Will I

Nasty November


In the Relay world this month is often known as as ‘Nasty November’ just because of the sheer busyness of it all but if there is one thing I’ve learnt, it’s God’s faithfulness in the face of opposition.

It certainly has been busy here in Lancaster with CU leadership training, Weekends Away, Text for a Toastie, Mission planning, World Mission evening, Carol Service planning, Mission events, Training conferences and while all the time still having the joy of getting stuck into God’s Word in so many new and exciting ways.

This month I have had the privilege of working with four CUs in the region helping them to shape and plan their mission. One of the highlights of this was definitely the Lancaster CU weekend away. This year, Lancaster University are using the theme STORY to shape their mission because everyone has a story. We want to know the stories around campus. We want to be a part of the greatest story ever told. As we launched our STORY year at the weekend away, mission excitement was the name of the game, with the ever-inspiring Michael Green and Bruce Gillingham speaking, the whole atmosphere changed. We came with a group of Christian friends; we left with a mission team, excited to share the love of Jesus.

This was evident in our first day of STORY events just over a week later. To kick off, we had two lunchbars on the topic of forgiveness looking at the question; Can God forgive terrorists? Gearing up to an interview in the evening with ex-loyalist terrorist, Billie McCurrie. But while mission excitement was high, so was opposition. Complications with both food and venue had meant things were confirmed just hours before the events while during the second lunchbar in the afternoon, the SU came saying they are likely to have to pull the plug on the evening event due to the controversial nature of the speaker. But God was faithful and after constant prayer and petition throughout the day, things went ahead. Billie’s testimony to God’s grace in the face of hatred, murder and revenge was incredibly moving and powerful. Who couldn’t be moved by such humble yet absolute confidence of forgiveness after such cold hatred leading to murder? Because that’s what grace does. While hatred brings death, grace brings life. A more beautiful story than we could ever imagine. The place was packed.

But if there is one thing that has plunged me further into the depths of God’s grace than I could have asked, it has been in reading the Bible with those I have the privilege of working with. In amongst pressures of academic life, society commitments, illness, anxiety and fear, we have been unearthing the treasures of Colossians and what a joy it has been. Nearly each week I am brought to tears, not because of the struggles and difficulties of life, but just because of the beauty of Jesus. This is why I’m a Relay Worker, to experience the absolute joy of knowing Christ and seeing others do the same.

I’ve had some really incredible opportunities this month including leading CU training, leading a seminar on engaging with culture and even helping to give a lecture at Capernwray Bible school but only because when I am weak God is strong. I’ve faced my own challenges this month in trying a lot of things for the first time and learnt more than I can write here. It’s been hard sometimes but when I think about it, I really can’t imagine doing anything else. The more I see my own weakness, the more I get to see God’s strength. The more I see my own sin, the further I fall into his grace.

As much as this month has been one of events and busyness, it has also been a month of prayer, prayer that we have seen so powerfully answered from beginning to end and one of my favourite things is always to meet up with other members of the team, students from other universities and other Relay workers to see this is true not just across Lancaster but across CUs all over the country. To quote one of my favourite writers: ‘Jesus did many other things as well, if every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.’

[John 21:25] 🙂

A Series of Awkward Events


The first time I drove down the motorway on my own was pretty horrendous and scary, mostly because I didn’t intend to be there. I was not a fan of motorways having been on them maybe once or twice on a calm, clear day before. But one day I was dropping my parents off in the centre of town and was given very specific instructions on how to get home: at the big roundabout, take the first exit and bear slightly right and carry on in the right hand lane of the road. I however bore more than slightly right. I ended up taking the second exit and sure enough found myself on a very busy slip road on way way down to the motorway. It actually took me a while to even realise exactly where I was heading and the junction I was approaching was known for being particularly nasty as, as soon as you’re on, you are immediately joined by more lanes of traffic on the left. Before I knew it, I was in a blind panic, doing 45 miles an hour in the outside lane of the M3, in rush hour with little idea of what to do, just knowing that I wanted to get off. Sometimes I think ministry can feel a little bit like this.

I was told as I started as a Relay Worker that if you don’t have the occasional awkward moment you’re probably doing something wrong. This is something I like to think I’ve fully embraced since moving back up to Lancaster. One thing I’ve learnt over my life is that you have to do everything first once, and often the first time is not the best. Naturally, this term so far has been a lot of firsts or as I like to call it: A Series of Awkward events.

The first day of living in my flat, I came home from shopping all ready to unpack my room only to find I had locked myself out of my room and had to ring the landlord to take my door handle off. I then spent half a week without a door handle and thus unable to close my door. The first time I met a couple of students I thought it would be appropriate to break the silence with ‘isn’t it cool that you two have the same birthday?’ Note to self: it’s okay to look people up on Facebook prior to meeting, it’s not okay to reveal this information in conversation. The first time I opened up the Bible with someone, I accidentally ended up doing a one to one prayer meeting with a guy who’s name I didn’t even know entirely on circumcision. Note to self: preparation is key. Finally, the first time I gave a CU talk we had to stop half way through to give a police report on assault and two of the members ended up in a&e. The general idea of a talk like this is that the blind will have their eyes opened, when I give a talk, the sighted were momentarily blinded after an encounter with a couple of youths and some disinfectant.

But the thing is, everything you’re good at and enjoy, you did once for the first time. First times are rarely the best times but they’re rarely the last times either. And none of that compares to the joy of reading the Bible with someone and really seeing their eyes opened, or sharing such encouragements from around the region or seeing people getting so excited about our mission. Last week we had a free lunch with a talk entitled ‘Is God just a Delusion?’ where we saw 80 people, 10 of whom signed up to our alpha course to explore the big questions of life and 4 saying they want to follow Jesus. It’s times like this that I remember that this mission is so much bigger than me. Thankfully God is more than capable and even happy to use a series of awkward and haphazard events for his glory. Thank goodness it’s not down to me.

Sometimes I feel like I’m driving madly down the motorway out of control and no idea where I’m heading. Then I realise I’m just the passenger and suddenly things looks a whole lot brighter. And if I hadn’t driven on the motorway on my own that one time, I can almost guarantee I still wouldn’t have done by now and that’s why I’m so glad I did. This term so far really has been incredible and I’ve learnt more than I can imagine and had so many encouragements, we really have been so blessed. It’s now time to look upwards and onwards because we have big plans this year and I’m super excited but I have no doubt that God’s plans are bigger 🙂

Six Weeks, Six Houses, One Suitcase


So, I’ve been a Relay Worker for about a month now and although one suitcase might be a slight exaggeration now, that is what I started with.

It all started with a couple of conferences late August up in sunny Shropshire. This was a wonderful time of meeting all the other Relay Workers, having an awful lot of fun and some really incredible teaching. We spent the week unearthing some wonderful truths, going deeper into our love for the Lord and experiencing grace like never before. But that doesn’t mean it was easy. I was so deeply challenged with how inadequate I felt about the week ahead that at times I just didn’t know how I could do it. Then I realised that the reason I felt so completely inadequate is quite frankly because I am and I’m quite happy with that.

Let me explain. The world is constantly telling us that we deserve to be loved. Be yourself, believe in yourself and don’t worry about anyone else because in the words of L’Oreál, you’re worth it. You deserve to be loved regardless of whether you are or not. And it’s wonderfully attractive, to be deserving. But isn’t it so much better to be loved whether you deserve it or not? In fact to be loved even when you know you don’t. And if I needed any assurance that I couldn’t do it on my own, the first day of actually working with students after the first conference, I was exhausted. Really exhausted and by the end of the day, I had cried. Not from uncontrollable laughter like the week before but really cried. You know you can’t be looking your best when a staff worker stops you in the middle of a field and offers to pray for you. I can almost guarantee that by the end of reading this, you’ll be left in no doubt of my inadequacy, I’m just hoping you’ll also see I am not alone.

After our first conference getting to know all the other Relay Workers, we were joined by about one and a half thousand students, worshipping, playing and learning together. It was fantastic. And of course, as soon as students arrive and people started camping, the rain inevitably set in. On the first night, I was working on the Relay Café which was a lot of fun, in fact one of my highlights of the week, being back with my new Relay pals serving coffee to students and staff. Well, that was until I asked one smiley Staff Worker if they would like a coffee who quickly responded saying they would like a decaff soya latte with sugar-free vanilla syrup. So no, you would not like a coffee. We are stood in a field in a very small, unknown corner of the world somewhere between  England and Wales late on a rainy evening, you would not like a caffeine-free, lacto-free, sugar-free coffee.

On the last night (after a fabulous silent disco featuring both Shine Jesus Shine and sound bites of 2 Corinthians from our key speaker and of course filling our own staff worker’s car with balloons and wrapping it in cling film) me and a few of the other Relay Workers decided to take a little midnight stroll to the nearby river. I’m pretty sure we were all still absolutely exhausted at this point but it was the last night and with port and chilli olives, how could you say no? I mean, how middle class is that? I say that as the one that went in a giraffe onesie and so unlike a couple of others, I didn’t join in with the open water swim. But it was fantastic, not least because there were just so many stars. But that was all before I realised that our region was on clearing up the site after the conference the following day. I think it’s fair to say, I was least helpful person on the field that day, barely present in body, definitely not in mind.

After that, exhaustion didn’t cut what I felt. So, after a few minor miscommunications in housing, I went back up to Lancaster and well and truly crashed at a friend’s that night. That was before I moved to a wonderful house out in the countryside with an amazing lady from church. I’m talking countryside walks, hours of reading and freshly baked bread each day. I could see farms and cows, I could hear roosters and rivers. I couldn’t see another house out of my window, in fact when I did look up from my book, I could see shepherds and border collies rounding sheep, it was like watching Countryfile out of my window. When someone came to pick me up one day, I googled directions and the recommended route was via hot air balloon. I loved it.

Then I moved into my student friend’s house, somewhere slightly closer to town, however slightly less equipped than the three bathrooms and four living rooms I had just left. I was actually the first person to move in. In a completely empty house, all bar furniture, and with only my suitcase from the conferences, it was a bit of a beg borrow and steal approach. I didn’t realise how much I took for granted in an average house; things like pillows, cutlery and cooking utensils. Heating, toilet roll and food. I decided I’d make it really easy for myself by buying all easy, no hassle food to prepare – tinned tuna for lunch, pasta and tinned tomatoes with tinned sweetcorn and (to my shame) tinned sausages for dinner each night. No tin opener. After a minor struggle, I had tuna sandwiches every day and tomato sausage pasta each night until one day I felt wild and had a sausage sandwich for lunch and tuna pasta for dinner. Then I decided to simmer down and return to routine before I got too excited. I was effectively squatting in my sleeping bag in a bed three inches of the floor attempting to batch cook in a single small pan. All I can say is things got really creative when I ended up going to a wedding with the very limited possessions I had with me. Again, you know you can’t be looking great when a friend asks if you’ll be going home to change after a look of you can’t possibly be going out like that? After a week and a half though, I had managed to accumulate a saucepan, a mug, cutlery, a plate, a tin opener, pillows and a duvet and an awful lot of books from as far reaching as Manchester. What more could you want?

Thankfully, after a series of little adventures, I was able to pop home to gather a little more than one suitcase of things before I’ll finally actually be able to move in this weekend and meet some students. I can’t wait for this year ahead and already, when I’ve felt like I’ve done nothing at all I’ve been so encouraged by some of the things the students have said. Already I’ve been used by God. I for one would pick loved and undeserving over deserving and unloved any day. I’ve been able to study and read a lot these last few weeks, but if there’s one thing I’ve learnt, it’s that the bigger my view of my sin and weakness, the bigger my view of grace and that is really, really wonderful 🙂





I recently graduated with a degree in English Literature and Creative writing, something I am so happy with. After three years of hard work, long hours in the library and the occasional late night study, I am so grateful for my ever expanding love of literature and all of the things I have learnt, but I have also graduated with so much more than a degree.

I somehow managed to end up in a new society each year trying things from photography to journalism to music to ballroom dancing. I’ve loved my degree but I’ve learnt an awful lot more than how to read. It’s been three years of embracing challenge.

I’ve realised that ‘student’ is pretty much synonymous with ‘innovative’. Whether it’s being innovative with meals when there’s limited food in the cupboard or crockery when the washing up hasn’t been done. Innovation and creativity are things every student picks up along the way with the frequent need to be independent on few resources and little money. Fancy dress is one of the key moments where initiative is required. Over the past three years, I’ve got to be a fairy, Jesse the cowgirl, puss in boots, an acrobat, a zombie, a pirate, Where’s Wally, a 20s flapper and a gingerbread man just to name a few. But with limited resources, it’s been a challenge but it’s always been fun.

Most recently, my friends and I got to dress up in silly hats and long gowns. It really was a fabulous day, with friends, family and more photos than you can shake a stick at, we could finally say, we made it. We could say that those horrendously unsociable hours in the library were worth it and celebrate all the good times that went with them. There were some people that didn’t get to see me graduate that should have done but they did get to see some of the things that really mattered along the way, the things that got me there.

Among just a few of the best moments, were coming forth in a national brass band competition, staying up all night to celebrate and then coming home to share it with all my family. The same happened when I came home and got to share the feeling of running out on stage to jive in front hundreds of people after months of practice, I can’t describe that feeling but it was amazing to see my family watch it and be a part of it too. But one of the highlights was not phoning home or even watching live recordings when I got back but standing in Lancaster Castle singing carols surrounded by my family, as I got to share one of my favourite events with them.

I’ve also had the privilege of learning an invaluable amount and growing immeasurably in faith, the one blessing and challenge that, while trying new things each year, remained constant throughout. It’s been such a joy, the fantastically encouraging people, the fantastically fun times and the fantastically inspiring challenges both being part of the Christian Union and my wonderfully welcoming church. And as incredibly proud as I was to stand with my degree certificate and shaking the Vice Chancellor’s hand, it was faith, CU and church that got me to my next adventure. I couldn’t have got there without my degree, originally my only intent on going to university but it wasn’t the only thing. Sometimes it’s the things you aren’t expecting that are equally great and exciting.

Some of my family weren’t able to see me graduate but they were the reason I did. I will be ever grateful for everything and everyone that shaped me and particularly the things I got to share. Mostly I am thankful to God, getting me here and giving me opportunities I couldn’t have dreamed of three years ago. I Wouldn’t have given any of it up for the world 🙂