I Thirst

World Youth Day (WYD/JMJ) 2011 was the start of my relationship with Jesus. It was also the first time God began my journey of healing which is still ongoing to this day.

Years earlier, in 2009, my family was struck by…well I’m not sure what it was but we lost 4-6 family members in the space of six months. One of those people was my grandmother. If you’ve ever had a grandparent who made life so much better by just existing and showing you what unconditional love looks like then you’ll understand why we adored this woman. This made losing her so suddenly that much harder. After her passing I went on a vendetta against God. One thing you have to know about me is that I’ve never doubted God’s existence.  I had this understanding that God loved me, that he didn’t want to see me hurt or damaged so I in turn went out of my way to hurt him.

I would embrace whatever darkness and evil was in me. I was intentionally mean and cruel to others. I would go to church and spend most of the time daydreaming about things no one should be thinking about in the presence of God. And yet, in spite of my cruelty God didn’t give up on me. Instead he gave me a friend who saved me from myself and unknowingly set my journey of healing in motion.

Then came WYD 2011 in Madrid and I fell in love with the country and the people. The atmosphere was amazing and really touristy for the most part when we weren’t going for daily mass. But one night we had Adoration, and for those who don’t know this is where you sit in the presence of the Body of Christ and just keep Jesus company. If my facts are right it’s inspired by the moment just before the Passion when Jesus asked his disciples to keep him company and pray with him. So we’re sitting in Adoration in a massive church with hundreds of other pilgrims while an amazing band played music. A couple of the others fell asleep, some people were praying and I was just sort of sitting there.

In that moment, and I will always remember this, the Holy Spirit revealed himself to me for the first time. That wave of peace which exceeds all human understanding (Phil 4:7) hit me and I began to cry. Looking back it was as though the Spirit was saying “I’m sorry. I know you’re hurting and I’m sorry. I know you feel alone and broken and unwanted and I’m sorry but the Lord God, the lover of your soul is here with you, hurting with you and you will never be alone”. I balled my eyes out because I hadn’t even been saying anything, I can’t remember what I was thinking or if I was praying but I remember that feeling because I’ve felt it a number of times since then.

I’ve heard people talk about accepting Christ, being born again etc and I believe I was born again when I was baptised as a baby (there’s a story in there for another day). That was 100% the moment I accepted Jesus. God address the stagnant faith in my heart and I underwent my conversion. I realised how I’d been stuffing things into the God-shaped hole in my soul and how my grandmother was my idol. God began a great work in me that day, it was my River Jordan Baptism Dove descending moment and since then I’m a completely different person.

My WYD experience was my first Upgrade/Leveling Up as a Christian and since then they’ve been several more. I just look back on it and I can’t wait to go on another pilgrimage like that. I hope everyone can encounter God like I did that day because it’s one of those moments which changed me. Like my first Christian crush (ie an elder in the faith whom I look up to and admire) Judah Smith always says, once you meet Jesus and accept him into your life, you’ll never be the same again.

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Edge of Desire/I Will Wait

What better to bring me back but a matter of the heart!

I’ve never been that kind of girl who’s been planning her wedding since she was a child. I didn’t dream about my Prince Charming, coming in and sweeping me off my feet. I did crave the relationships born out of pure friendships. I did crave the presence of a boy who would give me his football (aka soccer) jersey to wear with pride. I craved having someone to tell all my problems to who wasn’t my mother or my brothers or my father or my dogs.

From a young age however I made the personal decision that I wouldn’t date anyone just to pass the time. When my time to date arrived I’d be looking for a husband. Now when you make this decision before your 16th birthday you’re bound to stumble and end up falling for probably not the best person out there. That’s exactly what happened. I fell for a guy who visited my church often. Eventually he started attending my church for me. I was so happy to have someone pay attention to me that I blinded myself from all the warning signs until it was too late and I was close to ending myself (there were a lot of unaddressed, underlying issues). As with all the events in my life I learnt to return to God, he was there with me through it all and I knew he would be there with me at the end of it all. I found my solace and sanctuary in the Lord God and I felt whole. More complete than I’d ever been before.

When I left home for university I was focused. I knew what I was going for and I was taking my God and my heart with me.

The university environment made it impossible to ignore the coupled groups around me. I was genuinely content with being single and sticking to being coupled with Jesus. He’s the ultimate love and he fills me with joy.

Lately however I’ve been feeling more alone, more isolated from the seemingly coupled majority. I am a virgin and I’ve only kissed one boy in my life and I’m proud of that. Perhaps it’s an attack on my person because I’ve been feeling the pressure lately. I’ve started a Pinterest board where I pin ideas for my wedding. I know what style dress I want at my wedding, I’ve started looking at bridesmaid dresses, and wedding cupcakes. I’ve begun making references to how I will and will not raise my children. I’ve written letters to my future husband…and yet I’m still single.

I don’t hate my singleness and I have no intention to waste it. When my heart hurts I crack open good ol’ Philippians 4 and tell God what’s on my heart. I watch videos like Janette…ikz’s ‘I will Wait’ and Joseph Solomon’s ‘Worth the Wait’. I rejoice at friends who are getting married or are just in happy relationships. I pray for my future husband frequently. My heart was even genuinely glad when my beloved Justin Timberlake got married and now he’s going to be a father!

Yet I feel like I’m still slipping into the desires of my flesh. I’m looking at a dear friend of mine with eyes and a heart filled with expectation even though I know my feelings aren’t reciprocated. I suppose what troubles me most in this situation is the fact that I feel like I’m at risk of giving away my heart to someone who hasn’t asked for it but I’m that desperate that I’m prepared to make him take it. At the same time I’m disappointed in myself because I’m giving my heart to an outline of the man I want, not the whole package.

I vowed years ago that I wouldn’t give my heart to someone who wouldn’t lead me to heaven and didn’t love God/Jesus/HolySpirit more than me. Lord give me strength so I don’t waver in that!

I’m not sad and I don’t regret my decision to wait for the man God made for me. I am genuinely content living my life with my God. At the end of the day marriage is meant to reflect Jesus’ love for the church, so Jesus will be my foundation no matter what path God sets me on. He’s been kind enough to allow me to see heavenly couples who are best friends and support one another on their spiritual and earthly journey. I’m especially grateful for being able to grow up in a household led by a couple exactly like that; my parents.

I have faith in the plans he has for me, and for each one of you who’s ever felt the same as me. Maybe you’ve found your other and you’re happily married or planning to marry. Maybe you’ve gotten frustrated from having to wait and you’ve settled for less than you know God would want you to have. Maybe you’ve been hurt and you’ve turned to other ways of satisfying the desires of your heart. That’s okay, but remind yourself about the Almighty, looking down upon you without judgement. Is what you have right now the sum of the grace he’s gifted us with or are you tired of waiting on the edge of desire?

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for who you are. Thank you for letting us love you but more importantly thank you for your unconditional love for us. Lord, forgive us for the times we stumble and settle for less than you have planned for us. Forgive us for the times we take our lives out of your hands because we’re tired of waiting for what you have in store. Remind us of the grace and peace you have left for us, within us. 

For the couples Lord I pray that you may be the foundation upon which they base their love.

For the singles Lord I pray you may help us guard our hearts and only give them to the people you have destined us to.

And for those who you have called to a life of singleness; I pray that you may fill their hearts with Jesus.

For all Lord, quench our thirst, grant us your peace and patience, and may everything we do be for your glory.We are nothing without you Jesus. You are our everything.

Amen

A Recap, A Lesson, A Drag Queen.

My gosh…You know those moments when you’re in a situation which tests you so much you just don’t know whether God is teaching you or the evil one is trying to break you. That’s pretty much where I’ve just come from. But first let me recap.

I apologise for my time away. It basically parallels how my relationship with God has fluctuated. There were so many times when I was sitting at my laptop begging for inspiration which just wouldn’t come. I accepted that saying it’ll come when it comes.

In the time I’ve been away I’ve been very close to God and I’ve felt completely separated from him. I’ve learnt so much about him. I’ve had to describe why I believe in him and his ways, praying that I was speaking with Heaven’s accent. I’ve felt completely invincible as I was able to feel the swaddling cloth of his protection and the Holy Spirit glowing like the sun within me.

I’ve also felt alone and abandoned. I’ve felt like a hypocrite. I have felt like I rejected his kingdom. I felt like I knew everything and that I made myself invincible. I felt like I barely knew God and I felt as though I was embarrassed to shout Jesus’ name. I fell back into the hooks of the one sin which breaks me every time.

So I gave myself until Thursday 19 June 2014 to clean up my act and get back to where I need to me, and I must say I wish I’d done it sooner but I knew that would be the best day for me. I feel that contentment of when you’re in the Spirit and you know God is smiling at you. I had my Prodigal Son moment and now I’m back and he’s throwing a feast for me.

So that was me today, strong in Spirit, praising God, having that 24hr conversation I love to have with him when my good friend and housemate brought home her friend who says he’s bi-sexual but I sense much heterosexual masculinity in him, and her new friend, a heterosexual cross-dresser. Literally I prayed ‘Lord help me’.

I’ve never met a cross-dresser and he’s so much different from what I’d anticipated. I was apprehensive at the beginning but eventually I found myself sitting very comfortably close to him. He told me the story of his cross-dressing and I just had to remind myself of the 4 words I go by when I approach those with same-sex attractions; Respect, Compassion, Dignity, Love.

We proceeded to watch a comedian and my friend warned me before each instance of blasphemy (as comedians tend to be these days). Whenever I hear comedic blasphemy I withdraw into myself, protecting my God and my faith (as if God needs tiny me to protect him). This time I prayed. I repeated the ‘Our Father’ and ‘Glory Be’ in my head. Initially my first thought was ‘hey, you don’t need to tell them I’m Christian’. I know, I’m so embarrassed for myself. But this time I chastised myself and when she warned me again I kept quiet. I didn’t laugh, and I began to pray.

When it was just me and my new acquaintance sitting together I prayed again, because I thought it was too much of a coincidence for me to meet one of the types of people I’m most adamant to stay away from the day after I resolved to return to God. We sat there, just the two of us watching videos on YouTube and I thought to myself, ‘if someone had told me 2 years ago that I would be sitting alone, very close to a cross-dresser and feeling comfortable’ I would’ve vowed to never leave my parents’ house.

I asked the Father many things and I hope he shows me the answers. I also thought of my strong Christian friends from our little Bible study group. One would have begun on the ‘you must repent’ angle, one would have taken out her subtle Biblical books/companions and the other would have begun a well meaning discussion on…something…she’s unpredictable. The thing with me is I try to approach everyone with love which I feel is good but it may be my downfall one day. We must love unconditionally but we must also live and evangelise. Given the opportunity and the right starting point and I like talking about all the sides of God and the Bible and my beliefs, but in other situations, which unfortunately for me is most of them, I’m truly apprehensive. It’s something I pray to God about. If you have tips please make sure to share them.

So yes, here I am, different from when I left but still relatively the same. God, I believe, is still teaching me things and he has me on a path. I’m not sure where that path will take me or what his plan is but hey, isn’t that what makes it fun?

Dear Heavenly Father,

It’s good to be home. It’s so reassuring to know that you are always ready and waiting to welcome me back when I stray. Thank you for your love, and your light and especially for Jesus. Thank you for giving us a brilliant example of LOVE in human form. I pray that you shine your light upon the path I’m meant to follow and shut every door not meant for me. I put my life in your hands, for you alone are the Holy One, you alone are Lord, you alone are the Most High, and for that I am forever grateful.

In the Blessed name of Jesus Christ,

Amen.

PS I just noticed God is presenting me with a lot of people I never would’ve let myself encounter before. I guess before I would’ve regarded them with negatively and yes, even hatred, but hey, it’s probably still too early to be guessing! Praying for your spiritual journey my brothers and sisters ❤

The Sacrifice!

One of my favourite seasons is coming up; Lent.

It is a time of sacrifice and solemnity and sharing in the fasting done by the Lord, Jesus Christ, in the desert for 40 days. I feel like at this time every year I am closer to God, if you know what I mean. I know he’s a part of me and he lives within me but there are times when I feel like he’s literally standing right behind me or walking beside me and constantly keeping me company and laying a hand on me and my heart.

From a young age I’ve been eager to learn more and grow in my faith and Lent is one thing that I’ve always enjoyed. Even the struggles were always a reason to smile when I knew I could exceed my own expectations of myself and make my Heavenly Father proud all at once.

It hasn’t always been easy. I remember last year I gave up meat and I have to say that was one of the most difficult sacrifices I’ve had to make. It was such an intense challenge for me but I do feel that praying about it and remembering that Jesus did way more before me, for me, helped strengthen my resolve and even now I still love meat but I can go without it.

That’s one thing I really appreciate about Lent and any little sacrifice we make for the Lord. It helps to ground us and remind us of what’s really important. Is my love of meat my idol? The struggle says yes but combating that and succeeding tells me my love for God is way more and the strength he has given me demolishes anything that threatens my spiritual growth.

So this year Lent has crept up on me again and I have to say finding something to do is turning out to be a challenge with painful results.

I really enjoy my sleep so for this year I will be waking up every day at 0615 to pray the rosary and spend time with God. I will also be giving up secular music for only Christian Music where I am in control. I might even throw in singing a hymn every day along the way. Both of these are probably going to have me in tears by Day 3 but hey, He’s worth it.

I’m sharing this as I ask you all to pray for me, I will probably need all the prayer I can get in the beginning. My prayers are with all those partaking in Lent and all those who don’t observe Lent but make their own sacrifices for the Lord. Never forget the strength he has given you, with it you are invincible.

Dear Father

we thank you for this day and the gift of life. We thanking for sending Jesus to die for us. We thank you for the love you send us and have shown to us, love which we will never be able to comprehend but love which we cannot live without. Forgive us for the times when we forget our worth and waste the gifts you give to us. Help us to polish our armour for we are soldiers for you, ambassadors for your kingdom, we are priests speaking your truth and saints living for you. Show us how to begin and hold us by the hand as we go on. 

In your holy name we pray

Amen

Only You

(if possible, please listen to this as you read. Thank You)

“Have you come to a decision about your church situation?”

I was asked this question by a dear new friend of mine. As most of you will know I’ve been struggling with people criticising Christians and, narrowing that down, Catholics.

I went silent on my blog while I was back home with my family. It was fulfilling, enriching and reminded me of everything I love about the church I was born into. I have tried the others and I’ve enjoyed myself dearly. Everywhere I went I saw and met people who had dedicated their lives to Jesus. Some made me feel so at home, as though I were someone they’d all grown up with. Others never really made me feel like I’d ever fit in and when I bump into them now they act as though they’ve never met me. Maybe they feel like I abandoned them, or I’m a traitor or just another one who will be thrown in the fires of hell.

I’m back in a place where I’m being judged and occasionally I feel attacked. Even though I’m not brave enough to go door knocking or evangelising in the streets I’ve grown enough to even seriously mention Jesus in a group of people whose spiritual affiliation is completely unknown to me. I felt terrified that I’d be ridiculed to put my relation to Jesus out there and the great thing is nothing happened to me. I didn’t feel attacked and I relaxed a bit more on my heart and the tiny cross inside I grip to so tightly.

I know that as a Christian part of who I am is meant to be someone who goes out and calls people to God and I’d love to do that but, with Jesus as the roots to my tree, I need to grow and branch out a bit more. I don’t want to hide my faith under a blanket or only whisper my prayers in public. I want to be loud and proud about what I believe in. Now, this has nothing to do with my church back home. Everyone back home is so focused and ready to praise God at the slightest suggestion, and they do it in a way you can really feel.

The thing I love is how all the people I’ve encountered over the past year, with flitting through group after group, just adore God and everything about him.

So the next time my friend asks me that question I’m going to give her this answer;

My time at home reminded me of everything I love about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, as well as my family, friends and myself, and yes, especially everything I love about the Catholic church, and all the Christians in it and those in other churches too. It will be a sad day when I put what church someone belongs to before Jesus and my relationship with him. He will always come first and I’ll leave judgements like that to Him. When I was growing up, up until I left for university and even when I go home, my friends and I were able to praise and worship and pray together. We are Catholic and Methodist and Pentecostal and Anglican and who knows what else. We all love God and we love Jesus and we put him first. As long as that’s the foundation to their faith, then we’re all in this together.

Dear Father,

Thank you for loving us. Thank you for love and your light and for family and friends. Please be our guide in all our struggles and may we remember to put you ahead of everything because only you can save us. Only you can heal us. Only you can fix us. You and only you.

Amen

Who do you choose?

I think, when it comes to sin, there’s that one that we all struggle with. It’s different for all and each of us but everyone struggles with something; whether it be lying, stealing, lust, envy, sexual immorality, whatever.

I know that I struggle a lot. I pray and I try and I’ve been given signs that God is answering my prayer for distraction and strength, but more often than I’d like I choose my own sinful nature over God’s glory and grace. It hurts knowing that I’ve hurt not only my Father and my friend but the one who knows me and loves me more than I will ever know. I return his love by turning my back for something that will only last in the physical world, leaving me feeling disgusting and guilty afterwards. I’m fairly good at showing love to my neighbour but when it comes to that one sin (and I pray that I’m not the only one) I don’t always love the Lord Our God.

Yesterday I fell and I was feeling that disgust and disappointment in myself and just before I fell asleep I was apologizing profusely to Jesus. I could tell that I was being torn, my great desire to be the child of God I know I am or to say a ‘sorry’ go to sleep and maybe try again later.

I had a dream. In that dream I was at a university with a friend. A lecturer/tutor was handing out assignments and the assignment was to either write a letter to Jesus or to the devil. I chose Jesus (praise God!) and so did my friend. In my letter I apologized for what I did and I hoped that He could forgive me and help me be clean and come closer to Him. As my friend and I walked we saw that others had chosen differently and even those who had chosen Jesus weren’t being kind to Him. Some of them took the opportunity to mock Him and someone asked me why I’d chosen Jesus and I think I answered because He is the one I want (It should’ve been the one I need). I was then asked what I would’ve said if I’d chosen to write the letter to the devil and without much thought I spoke out of character and I said “F-you”. I never swear but if I was going to swear at someone it would be the one who causes such filth in the world.

I woke up later than usual and I’m still contemplating the meaning behind this dream but I’m glad that I chose Jesus. It got me thinking about the people who chose Jesus but were practically spitting in His face. Choosing the light or the dark is an easy move to make but what do we do once we’ve made the decision? Do we try to conform darkness within the light or do we pick dark because it’s easier with less pressure? I know I’m not perfect and I stumble and fall all the time but I think this has made me want to preserve the light a lot more. The dark will always be there but I’ll have to do like Paul says and run in the other direction when it confronts me.

So which will you choose?

I pray that you don’t simply pick an answer but you find your answer.

They walk among us

God is love. You are His angel

Each day my views of the world are reshaped and transformed by the touch of the Lord in my life and the lives of those around me. One concept which I believe I’ve finally begun to grasp is the concept of angels. Most of us are familiar with the concept of saints and how the Bible describes us all as saints when we believe in God and follow the ways He has set out for us (some are just recognised by the church more than others but we are all saints). I’ve been touched enough to believe that in the world there are scatterings of angels from whom resonate the warmth and love of heaven; an unearthly kind of joy and happiness and love.

If you ask anyone who knew my grandmother they would say that she was a clear example of an angel on Earth. She could speak to anyone and everyone and at her funeral there were politicians, diplomats, civil servants, nurses, doctors, unemployed people, gardeners and maids all present because she had managed to touch each of them with a heavenly love and acceptance. Ironically, to the average human, her name was Angelina which means ‘little angel’. Like I’ve mentioned before I no longer believe in coincidences and while this cannot be given as an example of unquestionable action by God I do think that He had it planned out that way.

The reason that I was struck by this concept of angels on earth is because of a woman I happened to meet. When you first meet her or see her from a distance one wouldn’t think that she’s a Christian, she just doesn’t fit the mold we tend to have in our minds. She has long black and pink hair, laughs louder than most and has a past which only a character in a novel could bear. She has been blessed with the same heavenly presence I felt radiating from my grandmother years ago and she doesn’t seem to know it. Last night we celebrated a birthday in the city and on our way back we met a man in his 30s. Everything about him screamed trouble, drugs and a little bit of crazy. He looked like a punk.

This woman, let’s call her Jane, struck up a conversation with him. First she asked about his lip and tongue piercings. Then she asked about his age. Then his sexuality which surprised both me and a friend we were with. As their conversation progressed we were ready to step in and pin him to the ground if it came to that but there they sat, across from us in the train talking like old friends. I didn’t want to eavesdrop but from what I picked up he was a homosexual man who had encountered a lot of pain and rejection in his life, and there was Jane, talking to him ‘on his own level’, as a friend and reformed drug addict herself. Occasionally the name ‘Jesus’ would touch our ears. Suddenly, to our surprise and the surprise of the others on the train, he burst into tears. This man who had seemed so confident, cocky, crude and funny was crying. Something about the scene made me feel so broken. Before I knew it Jane was crying too and then our friend joined in the tears. There was this man who had gone through so much pain and turmoil, being told that he was something that he really wasn’t, having grown complacent in his own imperfection. There in that train was someone who was telling him about God and Jesus, the 3-in-1 who love him more than he had ever known before. He was being given another chance instead of just being written off like he had been his whole life. A stranger had made him cry.

I won’t say that he was immediately converted and was singing Alleluia in the train from then on but he was touched by something, on a level which we as people may never fully comprehend. God had sent this person who had spoken to him in a way he had possibly never been spoken to. Everything in me had said to keep away from him but there he was sitting across from me, hugging this woman who had experienced so much of what he had. It may be one of the most out-of-this-world things that I have ever witnessed.

Apart from this man Jane spoke to bikers, drunkards and who knows who else over the course of one night and while not all of them may have been convinced they did hear about Jesus from someone who loved him. It’s not always about who loves Jesus though, the emphasis I want to place is on this person, so loved by God, that He has entrusted her to preach to the broken without actually preaching to them. She has done so much in her life that would put off so many people but she is the kind of Christian whom Jesus loves; imperfect, a smoker, a drinker, a friend, a servant to his Gospel. She’s the brand of person that I would like to be when I’m older but I know that the plan for me may be a different one.

There is a purpose for each and every one of us. God has made it so that we may use the talents He has blessed us with in order to serve Him as best we can. For Jane and for my gogo it’s through talking to people. His plan for me is probably something different or something similar. God has a plan for each of us and when we live that plan, I do believe that we radiate His glory and we too become angels.

One day, today and for the rest of my life, I’d like to make Him proud and be the earthly angel He intended me to be. I pray that you may find that gift of the Holy Spirit in you as well and that together we can glorify Him.

Praise the Lord O my soul! Worship His Holy name. Sing like never before, o my soul, I worship your Holy name!

God bless you