Make The Time for Christmas

It's that time of year. Yes, it has come round rather fast. Christmas has this way of sneaking up on you and before you know it the days here! The CHRISTMAS has arrived!  So in true festive spirit I’ve written a...’poem’ if that’s the best way to describe it about the hectic, busy holiday that is Christmas.

Crums it’s here, it came round so fast!

How did this happen, it couldn’t be long since we celebrated it last.

Right, get the decorations, all hands on deck

In goes the turkey, brussel sprouts, Christmas pudding, check.

Santa seems to have been and delivered lots of gifts

Too bad I’ve eaten so much and can’t seem to shift.

My goodness is that the time, where has the day gone

After all that preparation it wasn’t even that long.

So once again the time has passed us by, one year Christmas might stop and actually say hi.


So, as I hope you can tell, this poem was written with quite a comedic stance on how chaotic Christmas can be. But actually I want to use this comedic poem to make a rather serious point.
Remember to stop and enjoy this Christmas. It is a time that we are suppose to celebrate, have fun and be merry. So this year, here is a challenge, try not to get stressed out about Christmas, just enjoy and have fun and don’t let the festive season pass you by.
Merry Christmas and God Bless

Heat. Happiness and Heaps of Hospitality



It was hot. And I mean not just hot....but HOT! The sort of heat that makes you really hot. Did I mention...it was hot?

If you haven’t guessed by now, in good British fashion, I’m talking about the weather and clearly not the British weather. I’m talking about the sweltering heat of Zimbabwe.

For those of you who think that it’s been quiet around here for a few weeks, it has. I’ve been away. For the past 2 weeks I have been overseas in Zimbabwe, meeting and hearing about the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe and sharing stories, ideas and thoughts between our two Methodist Churches and experiencing Zimbabwean life.  

One of the first questions I was asked when we got out there was “What did you expect?” and honestly, I didn’t really know, I had no answer. What do you expect from a country that you know little about? From a climate that is really alien to you? and from people who you had never met? I wouldn’t like to say I had no expectations, but I didn’t really have a clue what I was going into and actually that was the best way! It meant I had a really amazing surprise.

Five interesting things I learnt about Zimbabwe:

1). You can get scorpions in Zimbabwe. How do I know this? We had one in our room.

2). The best thing you can invest in on a trip to Zimbabwe is bug replant.

3). If you’re eating something that is a mixture between chicken and fish, it’s probably crocodile.

4). The sun set in Africa is one of the most beautiful things you will ever see.

5). The hospitality of people will leave you amazed. 

I was completely overwhelmed by the endless hospitality and generosity of our hosts. We were hosted by The Methodist Church in Zimbabwe Youth Department for the 12 days of our trip. They did such a good job! Although the trip was quite full on in regards to its travel and meetings, I actually wouldn’t have wanted it any other way as this enabled us to meet a huge variety of people and experience so many different things that I wouldn’t have wanted to miss.

For the first few days of our trip we stayed at the Matthew Ruskie Children’s home just outside of Harrare. We were welcomed here as family and nothing was too much of an effort for them. The children’s home is an amazing place that is run by the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe and provides residential care facilities for orphaned and vulnerable children. Whilst we were staying with them, the home faced an additional challenge with electric and running water being out of use. Whilst we were there we told that this was a regular occurrence and sometimes they could go months without power or running water. Yet, through all of this they carry on and meet each day with a smile and grace. This is something that continued to confront me throughout the trip, people’s happiness and grace. It was everywhere!

Throughout our stay in Zimbabwe we managed to travel what felt like the length and breadth of the country, sometimes spending up to 11 hours on a mini bus to try and reach the next group of people we were meeting. As I said at the beginning we met a variety of different people, from young adult groups, to the youth council, to Bishops, to Minsters, to the Boys Christian Union, Girls Christian Union, Sunday schools, rural churches, Methodist Young Disciples, the Connexional Youth President, the pupils of a Methodist school, the Connexional Youth Co-ordinator and many many more. All of these people and groups made us feel so welcome and I can’t thank them enough for their hospitality and friendship. I felt we learnt so much from them and can only hope we were able to return the favour.

Wherever we were we asked to address these various groups, telling them about ourselves and about Methodism in Great Britain. Whilst most of the time improvising what to say, I found myself repeating something which sort of just came out. I said that we are brothers and sisters in Christ. It doesn’t matter if we are in the Great Britain, in Zimbabwe or somewhere else in the world, we are all joined together in Christ and are one body. We are all disciples and are here to support and help one another in our journeys. Although this was something that seemed to come out of my mouth on a bit of a whim, I really felt this in Zimbabwe! I felt that I was a long lost sister who had come home. I felt the fellowship of Christians and specifically I felt the fellowship of Methodists.

I don’t want to mislead you in the sense that it was all work and no ‘play’, that is certainly not the case. We did have some time to explore a bit more of Zimbabwe with visits to a Game Park and an amazing trip to the stunning Victoria Falls. All of this was such a blessing but actually I found that some of my highlights were the parts where we were able to share with people and experience that fellowship.
 
All in all the entire trip was just amazing. A challenge at times, but that’s what made it even more amazing.  One thing I’d love to encourage people to think about in response to this is about how we welcome people? How we create fellowship? How we share with one another? How we relate to one another as Christians? We are brothers and sisters in Christ and are here to support and help one another on our faith journey. “So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Romans 12:5)

 

 
The link below is a sign post to some work already done by the Discipleship Development Group in this area of hospitality and includes a range of resources to help churches think about how they welcome others, including a course entitled ‘First Impressions Count’ http://www.methodist.org.uk/mission/welcome-and-invitation.

3Generate generates a BUZZ

Well one of the most amazing events of my year has come...and gone.

3Genereate 2014 came around awfully quickly and in some ways the weekend whizzed by. From setting up to packing down the dedicated team of volunteers and staff were completely amazing. I’ve said it once before, but I’m going to say it again. Without the volunteers and passionate staff this event would not be possible, so thank you to everyone who was involved.
For me, the entire weekend had an amazing atmosphere. What I think best describes it is a ‘buzz’. The children and young people just have such an enthusiasm for this event that it creates a buzz that is almost contagious. And I caught the it!

A particular moment that stood out in the weekend for me was the late night Saturday worship. I think the band from Cliff College do an amazing job at creating a safe space where young people can come and encounter God. For me, this is one of things that 3Genereate is about. An image that has stayed with me since the weekend is that of 3 young people praying together. At first it was just one young person, and then a friend came over and began to pray with them and after a few minutes another young person came over and prayed too.  Although it may seem quite a simply image it’s about what it represents: the desire to meet with God whilst supporting one another; that young people from across the connexion can come together and share in faith. For those of you that know me, you’ll know I love a good cry so, in true Meg fashion I found myself completely moved by this image with tears streaming down my face.
I shared a part of my testimony on Friday evening but what I failed to say was about the part that 3Generate had played in my own journey. Without 3Generate I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to explore my relationship with God. Through this event I was able to meet with God where I was...well, where I am, and I think this event does the same for other children and young people. It’s a place where we can come with all that they are, all that’s gone on, all that has happened and just meet with God in our own way.

I’ve been to my fare share of 3Gen’s and am even old enough (even though I don’t look it right?) to have attend the youth assembly and even the youth conference set up. I truly believe in the work that 3Generate does. It empowers young people, giving them a voice and creates a space where children and young people can come and encounter God.  
It was an absolute privilege to host this year’s event and to help in the planning for this special weekend. There’s so much more I want to say on this event, but for now........I’m off to Zimbabwe!
Look out for another instalment when I get back.
See you soon

what I learnt at Cliff....



*So I'm mixing my blog around this week, and although I spent an amazing weekend in Essex, that will feature in next weeks blogs. So watch this space for that. *

My Mum always told me that honesty is the best policy. So...taking her advice...

This week I’ve struggled slightly. Not because of anything that has happened or because of anything that someone might have done. Just because. Matter of fact. Just because. I know some people reading this will know exactly what I mean. That sometimes it’s just one of ‘those’ days.

So I’ve spent my week around some really lovely people at the Discipleship and Ministry ‘gathering’ (a group where lots of people get together and share lots of stuff basically). I’ve heard a lot of great things this week and I just want to share a few reflections/thoughts (please note there is no common theme running through each point)


1). Online dating. I know that’s not the first thing you expected to hear, but I actually learnt an awful lot about the world of online dating and how it works! (Kindly delivered to me by the Church and Community team) It really made me think about how our world is slowly, but surely moving onto the online forum and made me think about what things might look like in future years.

2). Cliff College offers a lot of cake!!! My waist line = suffering

3). People are all blessed with different gifts and talents and we all need to be given the potential to live out our God given identity and use our gifts.

4). And finally and maybe the most important one of all. I think that sometimes we see that sharing our vulnerable side to people is a sign of weakness. But, I think this should not be the case. In fact, if anything, I think sharing our vulnerability and fragility is something that takes great strength. Jesus showed us his vulnerability when he died for us on the cross. But I think that this vulnerability actually showed great strength because in doing so Jesus took away all our sins. So how immense is that? That in Jesus’ frailty and tenderness there was strength and power.

I think this is amazing.
 
 
An amazing picture drawn by someone amazing at the Gathering sharing their God given talent :)
 
Prayer: Lord I pray for everyone that I have come into contact with this week. Please bless them in the work that they do and be with them as they go back to their different parts of the country. I also pray for strength Lord. Strength to share with others ours our vulnerability and frailty. Amen.
 

 

In the early hours...


When travelling around during the early hours of the morning on trains, sometimes you tend to have a bit of time to think (when I’m not sleeping). This week, as the youth president 2015/16 application comes to a close, I’ve been thinking back about why I applied for the role.

If I’m honest, it all started with that small feeling of being isolated. I’ve grown up in the Methodist church and although my mum was a Sunday school teacher, I was always given the choice to go to church. Being 1 of 3 young people in our little rural Chapel (FYI: didn’t have running water or a toilet = Problematic) and also 1 of 10 in our congregation could sometimes be a blessing but also a challenge. As well supported as we were as young people at the Chapel, it could at times feel quite isolated. Many years ago now (because I’m old) the 3 of us young people attended a national event, now known as 3Generate, but then known as MYC. This really sparked the fire in me to do more and to be more. It was amazing to feel part of something bigger! To see that I wasn’t on my own! That there were other young Christian’s; they did exist!

Then throughout the next couple of years I had some amazing overseas opportunities as well as have opportunities to get involved in all aspects of church. This again fed my desire to help others who felt they were alone or isolated.

I’m not ashamed to say it that God has changed my heart over the past couple of years and has lead me on a path a never thought possible. But sometimes he does that doesn’t he?

2 things I want to share:

1). I just want to encourage anyone thinking of applying for the youth president role. It’s an amazing opportunity and it will change you.

2). I also really want to encourage those people who feel that they are isolated, weather by location or by relationships. You are not alone. It may at times feel like you are, but God is with you, no matter how distant you feel, He’s got you.
The rural chapel that always made me hang on for the loo!!!
 
Prayer: I pray for everyone thinking of applying for the youth president role. Be with them Lord in this time and guide them in their choices. I also pray for those who feel isolated. Let them feel your love and spirit surrounding them so that they may know that they are not alone.
 
 

Stepping out of the boat.


I’ve had a really amazing first week in my new role as Methodist Youth President. It’s been a week that has already challenged me, made me think, taught me things, helped me meet new people and most of all brought me a lot of fun. I’ve been doing various things this week but I just want to share with you some particular moments that have stayed with me.

 On Friday I had the privilege of meeting the 8 new One Programme Participants and the 2 new interns of Swanbank Methodist. Something that really hit me about the weekend was the excitement: the excitement for these young people starting a new role and taking a next step towards their future. Now, we all know that the future can be a very exciting place; however it can also be a little uncertain and can, at times, seem a little scary. Sometimes, the future even seems too big for us to handle or too impossible to see.

For me, this theme seemed to follow my weekend. As I moved on to Bolton and Rochdale for their district youth event I found that we began to talk about stepping out of the boat. During the Sunday morning worship we heard the familiar story from Matthew of Peter stepping out of the boat and walking on water. Something that really struck me about this story was the fact that Peter believed he couldn’t do this, that he couldn’t walk on water. But, once Peter stepped out of the boat and began to walk he found he could. Jesus then comes to him and takes his hand and leads him.

The thoughts that I had with this were that sometimes when we ‘step out of the boat’, in whatever way that may be, things can sometimes seem difficult, uncertain or even impossible. But, it’s not about doing this on our own. Jesus is with us. Jesus is there to help guide us and hold our hand, just as he did with Peter. God can sometimes ask us to do things that we really don’t think are possible, but with Him all things are possible.

 

Prayer: Father God, help us to know that you are always with us. In all that we do and all that we are. When times seem hard and there is uncertainty ahead, let us know that you are there with your arm outstretched ready to hold our hand.

 

Checking out...



Is it really August already?!?! I just cannot believe how fast the past 12 months have gone and now, like the Youth Presidents before me, I am at a turning point in my life.

To begin with, can I offer a disclaimer: This is not a “goodbye blog”, this is just another chapter within my beautiful novel which has been steered by the best non-fiction storyteller ever- The awesome God.

I cannot even begin to tell you what an amazing year that I have had, how much I have learnt, how much I have done and been involved in. I can honestly say that although I have been challenged (in a good way) this has been one of the best years of my life so far.

Thank you to the people who have looked after me during my visits, who invited/welcomed me into their youth groups and Churches, drove me to and from the station, enabled me to hear the voice of their children and young people. A huge thanks to the Connexional, Church and Community team, my line manager and my line manager’s line manager! Thank you to you all for your prayers, emails, thoughts, words of wisdom, encouragement, listening to me, inspiring me, providing me with the opportunity to talk to children and young people, and for listening to me constantly spewing info about SCWC. Without you, my year would not have been the amazing year that it has been.

Working with the 3Generate youth representatives has been another highlight of my year. They are an inspiring group of individuals, who have enabled me to also grow within my role. The fantastic work that they are doing has been phenomenal, it has been a pleasure spending the rep weekends with them and watching them grow within their own positions. You have been awesome, for being my guide and enabling me to see things more diplomatically I thank you for.

This position has also been an interesting one as although you are able to impact the way the Church is run in years to come, there are many things/projects/committees/campaigns that many people will know about but not necessarily know that I was involved with. It has been an honour being able to create a resource on mental health and visit our brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka, to name a few of my experiences. This position has shown and taught me that it also important to be humble and accept the fact that when something is able to happen it does not have your name attached to it. At the end of the day Jesus came to serve and not to be served, he was not boastful or vain and personally that has been the hardest lesson for me to learn, but I am happy that I am beginning to embrace that reality.  

This is not the end of my journey I still continue to strive to be more and more like Christ, to be in the world and not of the world and to love my neighbour as I love myself. Within this life it is a constant battle to feed yourself spiritually and make time for God on a daily basis, but the more I seek him, I love him even more and the more I want to seek him. So thanks be to God for giving me the freedom of being in a relationship with him.

Jeremiah 29:11

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

I know that this is a bible verse that is well-known and used VERY often but it is of deep significance to me as even in the darkest points, God was my shining light. He had a plan for me when I didn’t even have a plan for myself, he showed my potential and turned my flickering candle into a ferocious flame.

I have been truly and amazingly blessed to have been in this position so I first give thanks to God and also for the children and young people who believed in my vision and in me at 3Generate 2012.

As I pass on the baton to Megan Thomas (Youth President elect) I encourage you to keep her, the youth reps, the role of the Youth President, the Church’s leaders, lay employees and the life of the Methodist Church in your prayers.

Peace, Love and Cupcakes

xxxx


Throughout my year as Youth President it has been a bit of a running joke that every-time anyone sees me again I have a different hairstyle, so here are a few of the hairstyles that I had during my year: