The mystery of the blue camper van…

Remember last summer I told you about my nutty almost sending myself to the psych ward moment when I thought God was telling me to look for a blue camper van and told me to buy a shoulderbag?

Turns out, it wasn’t quite so nutty after all. A couple of weeks ago, we discovered where the blue van was – a tale told by my friend over on the Soul Surfers blog today.

Turns out the blue van was right in front of us all along…

(Silly people who painted Davina all green… ;) )

Listening to the still small voice (that makes you seem nuts)…

I was at my friend’s birthday party the other week, and  I ended up talking to this lady who goes to Central, and halfway through our conversation she commented ‘You really do a lot of praying, don’t you?‘.

Um. Yes. Yes I guess I do.

However, recently, God has been reminding me that just talking at Him is not really being a woman of faith. And I think he noticed that I wrote on my blog that I hoped getting a tattoo would end the nuttiness. *insert sound of God laughing here*. He’s been testing my faith and my ability to listen to Him with the small things in life and in the last two weeks my friends have laughed with me as I’ve shared these two mundane stories…

It all starts with a camper van. Actually. That’s not true. It really began 4 years ago with some toys, 2 cards, a camera, good food, sunshine which led to giddiness, hilarity and conversation

So it actually wasn’t long after that, my friends Brisaac & Lady V began Soul Surfers. We had a few beach days, got involved in some Surfers Against Sewage beach cleans and this camper van called Davina started making an occasional appearance. We fell in love with Davina – which is a big thing since my love of VW had to compete with my in built dislike of things that are Hibs/Celtic colours.

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The main dude behind Davina, a man named Steve, went off to become a Pastor of a church in the west, and poor Davina was left without people to help fulfil her purpose in life.  However, her owners very kindly agreed to let Soul Surfers use her whenever we wanted. Granted, she’s spent some time in the garage because she needed a part and it was tough to find so we couldn’t take her out for a while, but still. We’re now able to use her, and she’s taken our ‘stoke to broke’ friend and others out for picnics and hopefully she’ll be making a trip to Dunbar for a beach day soon.

My friends had asked me to pray because they really want to do what Steve used to use Davina for. They asked other friends to pray too. And then, when we heard Davina was being put up for sale, they asked us all to pray about whether or not they should buy Davina.

Of course! I said. Praying was what I apparently do a lot of after all.

And so, one day a few weeks ago, sitting on the top deck of the airlink bus, I chatted to God about it all. And text my friend about what I thought God was saying to me. I did not text her the second part of what I thought God was saying to me, because I thought ‘that’s a bit weird, and it’s probably my subconsious dislike of green and white‘.

What did I hear in my head that I didn’t share with my friend?

Look out for the blue van‘.

Aye. Whatever God. There’s no blue van.

And so God and I (in my head) argued back and forth about sharing this second part with my friend. By this time I was off the bus and walking up Cockburn Street. I told myself I was hearing things. But the little voice persisted. Look for the blue, look for the blue. I seriously questioned my sanity.

Until, out the corner of my eye I saw something in a shop window. A blue camper van. In bag form.

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I stopped and stared, laughed, and took a step to walk on, but I just heard this voice again. You need to buy that bag. I sighed, and went in and asked the lady in the shop

Hi, can I ask you how much that bag in the window is?

She went and checked – it was £38. Ok. It was £37.99. But still. For a bag?!

I walked around the shop to see if I could find a blue camper van magnet, mug or something you know…cheaper. I got the feeling that I was to buy some kind of ‘souvenir’ for my friends in relation to their camper van dream and thought surely a keyring would do just as well. I couldn’t see anything. Which was weird, because I’m sure that shop normally has a whole section of VW stuff! I was about to walk out, really knowing deep down that my gut instinct was telling me (ok, God was telling me) to buy that bag for my friends. But why? Surely God would want me to give money to the homeless? Build a school in Kenya or Haiti? Not buy a overpriced bag that looks like a blue VW Camper van.

And I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but I’m the girl who can’t afford to rent a flat or keep a car. The last bag I bought was a small rucksack that cost about £11 because my old one was literally disintegrating. I don’t think I’ve ever spent more than £25 on a bag. A suitcase, yes. A bag, no.

Sorry God, I don’t really have the money to buy that bag

I started making my way out the shop, and stopped dead in my tracks when God responded

Do you  really think that I can’t provide you with the £38 to buy that handbag? If you don’t have faith that I can provide for that handbag, why do you believe I can provide your friends with a camper van?

Ouch. Game, set and match to God.

And so after wandering in another circle for another second, I went back up to the counter.

Hi, I’m really sorry, I’m not sure if I need a psych ward or a church, but I think God is telling me to buy that camper van bag for my friends. Could I please buy it?

And continued waffling to the girl about how it was weird I was praying about my friends who had asked me to pray about this camper van, and then I thought I heard a voice telling me about a blue van, and then 30 seconds later I saw this bag in the window…

The girl laughed awkwardly. I’m pretty sure she thought I was off my rocker.

I don’t really blame her.

I later texted my friend to say…um…I have something to give you. Will explain later.

I’ll be honest folks, I have no idea why I was to buy that bag. I think it was to show some kind of trust and faith and to remind us to have faith for Him to provide for their camper van vision.

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But oh, the little voice stories didn’t end there. A couple of weeks later, I was leaving church. I had planned to stay in the city centre to run some errands and meet up with my friends from high school. The night before one friend had cancelled and I hadn’t heard from the rest. As I walked into town, I was grumpy and thought about just jumping on a bus at the West End and going home instead. But that little voice spoke to me again – and told me I should stay in town.

I was still grumping as I walked down the road. As I reached Princes Street some other friends text me  to say they were heading to the beach – did I want to join them? Joining my friends at the beach sounded much more fun than staying in town on my own. But even as I text back with my ‘yes’ I had that nagging feeling that I should stay in town.

I ignored it.

It was past 1 p.m. by this time, and I was hungry, so after running my errand, I decided to get some food. I had the choice of running to Subway – on my way to my meeting point with them, or walk further along to Marks & Spencer. I was about to decided on M&S and ask my friends if they wanted me to get something, but again that wee voice said ‘don’t text’. I did my phone in pocket, phone back out of pocket dance, and decided they probably would say ‘No, we’re fine’ and it would take me longer anyway. So I obeyed the small voice this time and went to Subway.

And as I was standing in the queue, I looked up and realised the woman in front of me looked vaguely familiar.

It was my baby sister (my 22 year old baby sister). Who I hadn’t seen in a year. Who’s boyfriend’s plans had made her cancel on our scheduled dinner 2 days before when she let me know she was back in the UK (I hadn’t been too chuffed about that).

After commenting on ‘how freaky’ it was, I got on the phone to my friends and asked them if they’d didn’t mind me not coming to the beach after all (I apologised later for saying yes in the first place). They were lovely about it, and I spent a few hours with my sister where she told me she was moving to a country in the continent of Africa.

As I went home, I understood why that still small voice was telling me not to go home quite yet… :)

That is how I’ve been challenged recently – to listen to the ‘still small voice’. Because really, something that seems trivial could turn into something greater for all I know. You think I would have learned by now that obeying and listening – even when it seems strange (like seeing visions of women dressed in red and hearing words in other languages I don’t understand) – could lead to more than I think it will.

I’m still learning that lesson though.

Returning from another Cornish adventure…

…with an award!

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We were shocked and humbled on Saturday when it was announced that our Scottish group was to receive an award for ‘Outstanding contribution to the work of Christian Surfers UK’. It was the first time for all of us at the CS UK gathering, and some of us don’t even surf! We were sad that not all of our group were able to be in Cornwall with us, sadder that our phones didn’t get reception in this remote part of North Cornwall so we couldn’t do all the updates we were hoping to share on social media so those missing could feel part of the weekend a bit more.

We made a ton of new friends from England, Wales and Holland. As Michael, Chris, Althea and I made our road trip back to Edinburgh, we were discussing potential ways to organise trips to visit and encourage our new friends – as well as how we could get to the Christian Surfers International gathering in Costa Rica next year. :)

It was a quick turn around last night as I arrived home an hour before Guides – the last night of term. Today now begins the weeks of admin, sorting, accounts so I’m ready for a summer break. Oh – and tackling the massive pile of laundry. Polzeath was a bit damp and windy at points over the weekend, and I rather ungracefully slid down the slope (accidentally) in front of the Tubestation church when we were trying to get a photo of our gathering group on Saturday afternoon. The challenge is to see if you can spot our ‘flat’ friends who we brought laminated on sticks! (hint: if you spot Miss S & Mini Kahuna you’ll find them quickly!)

photo from @christsurferuk twitter feed.

photo from @christsurferuk twitter feed.

And the mantra of the weekend? ‘Soaked and stoked‘. Now we’re gonna work on encouraging our friend in his recovery to get back from broke to stoke, and continue in our ‘board meetings‘. :)

Pancake Day 2013

So, as you are probably aware, an important event on the Christian holiday calendar happened this past week…Shrove Tuesday. Otherwise known as ‘Pancake Day’. I love Pancake Day. In an otherwise dreary month, there’s one day (usually in February) where we get to have fun playing with our food! Yippee! Now that we’re having our ‘Soul Food’ nights on Tuesdays, pancake day was on a smallgroup night. It was also the Edinburgh half-term holiday. So after work I got the bus home whipped up some batter and then Lady V and Miss S came round to pick me up. Miss S and I had fun trying not to spill pancake batter all over the car as Lady V expertly navigated Edinburgh’s pothole filled roads. :) *Note to self, next time make the batter at the location you’re gonna make pancakes*

We even had a crepe maker this year… (thanks J & A for bringing that along – immense!!)
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And of course there is the tradition (since 2007) of capturing the pancake toss – here is Brisaac doing some ‘pancake gymnastics':

We also celebrated some birthdays that have been happening this week…Miss S and Lady V picked out this cake for the first member of our beach lovin’ crew who was celebrating a birthday this year…
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Two other members of our crew have had birthdays this weekend (more birthday cake on Tuesday?), and since Brisaac already got on my blog today, it’s only fair that I include birthday girl Lady V too with her ‘Birthday Rice Pudding’ from last night even though it has absolutely nothing to do with pancake day…
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What can I say? It’s been a super fun week. It is now Lent, and I haven’t given anything up but I’m looking forward to the Chocolat themed bible study we’re embarking on. This week sees life go back to it’s normal busy eveningness with a work meeting replacing Guides and it’s a Senior Section week. Oh, and I’m back in school this week too. Hope you guys have had a fun week too!

5 years on…

July 2007.

Stranraer.

My friends Carrie & Andy had guilt-tripped encouraged me to go with them to spend a week in Stranraer running a daytime and evening holiday club. I had just moved back to Edinburgh a couple of months before, and I think at that point was on move number 3 or 4 of that year!

Every one of us was about to embark on something new. I was unemployed still really and had just applied for a job at a local charity (yes, the one I work with now). Two were about to start gap years. One had just finished a gap year. Two were about to start new jobs. Andy was applying to become a Church of Scotland minister.We nicknamed our mottley crew ‘Club Crazy Choices’. We knew the coming year would be heading into the unknown. Really we had no idea of all the things that would happen to us that would make those choices seem even crazier than we all anticipated.

1 year later, my friends had bought a house, had become parents and Andy was giving up his job to become a full-time Theology student.

4 years later, Andy graduated and become a ‘probie’ at my friend (the ‘Rev’)’s church. One of those ‘coincidences’. By this time, there was another addition to their family too.

5 years later, and Andy is getting ordained. Tonight, as he gets his own title of ‘Reverend’ and his own Parish to boot!

As much as I’m sad that they aren’t going to live in the same city anymore, which likely means we’ll see even less of each other (we don’t see enough of each other as it is in my opinion!), I’m really excited for what’s going to happen while they are in Eyemouth. It’s also great that they’ve got a place to call home indefinitely before their kids start nursery and school next year.

I know that they’ve got the gifts and skills and passion to be of service to the communities of Eyemouth & Coldingham. I know that there are a whole bunch of us who’ll be there tonight that have their backs (plus all the people who can’t be there who wish they could be there).

They have sacrificed a lot and overcome many challenges to get to this point. I have no doubt there’ll be more challenges to come. But I’m sure it’s all going to be worth it.

And I’m proud to call them my friends!

Now I need to go away and pray, because the pressure is now really on.

Why? Because tonight LFS readers…I become godmother to a minister’s kid.

HELP!

I just hope that the nearest Asda to Eyemouth has got fully stocked up on Frosties and Smart Price Jaffa Cakes ready for Andy’s arrival… :)

 

Compassion Bloggers in Peru

My journey with Compassion began in August 2002. Yep – it’s been 10 years since I began sponsoring a boy in Ethiopia, who has grown into a young man who has just finished his education. Several blogging friends – namely Lindsey and Pete – have done Compassion blogging trips. Pete to India in 2009 and Lindsey to Guatemala in 2010. With all my heart I wanted to sponsor a ton more children when they went out to those countries…but I couldn’t at the time.

This year, I was finally able to, and I started sponsoring a boy in Indonesia.

Follow the Compassion Bloggers in Peru

Several times a year, Compassion bloggers go out to see some of the projects and meet families helped by the week of Compassion. It gives the charity transparency, is a huge encouragement for the projects and makes people human beings rather than just statistics or faces on a leaflet as these bloggers share the stories of real people.

Today Shaun, Angie, Jennifer, Kevin & Layla will be travelling to Peru to spend a week with folks working with Compassion there. By clicking on the widgets to the right – you can follow them as they post videos, photos and stories from their trip. You can also find out more about sponsoring a child in Peru through Compassion.

Hi, my name is Laura Anne and I’m a blog slacker…

This week, I was so happy to see a post on Lindsey’s blog pop up on my blog reader. I’d missed her writing and I really love the blogs of my fellow singleton sisters (not that I don’t love all you married folks too, but I’m sure you’ll understand appreciating someone who is at a similar ]life stage’ to you!)

Reading her words was like a punch in the guts though.

“I have been avoiding God.

This place right here, this simple little blog, is my sacred space. This place right here is where I come and wrestle with God. This place right here is where He shows me His grace, His beauty, and His ability to meet me in sadness, in fear, and in joy. This place right here is where I learn from life.”

Ouch.

Why? Because I know I’ve been doing the same. For sure I’ve put up posts every few days, but most of the time I’ve put little effort into them. I realise that a lot of people read my blog because of the openness about my faith in God when it’s been strong and also my doubts and struggles too. I’ve prayed for other people, but it’s been a long time since I sat and had a chat with God about me. I think because I’m afraid of what I might hear from Him.

And if I’m really honest, I’m afraid of what others might think of me. I wonder who reads this blogs – I know it gets 100s of views per week, but not many people leave comments. So I have no idea who is reading this or what they think about what I share here. I usually don’t mind when people disagree with me or think I’m a bit nuts – as long as I know what they are thinking!

So I guess I say all this to declare that I want to be better!

And that you’d really help me to be better if you’re lurking without saying anything – please do leave a wee comment! The first one gets moderated for approval, but once you’ve been approved your comments will appear immediately after that. :)

 

Happy birthday Central Christian Church!

This weekend Central Christian Church turns 50. A church plant in Las Vegas, that has so many ministries, amazing staff and volunteers. I first got connected with Central through Lori (wife of Senior Pastor, Jud Wilhite) when she made a comment on a video I’d made for her friend, Brandi showing how I put duvet covers on duvets. From there, Lori welcomed me into Leading and Loving It – a community for Pastors’ Wives. Obviously as an unmarried woman I’m not anybody’s wife, but she let me be included as a woman in leadership and I was so very, very grateful.

Around that time, the church I had become part of was talking about making some major restructuring changes and my pastoral support basically vanished within about 6 months. I tried to keep going, not wanting to be ‘one of those people’ who leaves a church just because the going gets tough. As I was given more responsibility in ministry, it became more difficult. I was giving out spiritually but not much was going in. Most Sundays I’d go to church smiling and drive home in tears. In winter I’d get sick from going to church so I stopped going to services to try and keep myself well. Central filled that gap for me through their online services. Their videos made me laugh so much (ahh, Listen to your lady!) and I fell in love with Lenny and Rita. .  I’ll never forget one particularly tough week when I was close to quitting when in my e-mail box was a video message from Lenny and Rita that Lori had recorded and sent to me filled with words of love and encouragement. Lori was someone I turned to for wisdom when it became clear I needed to leave.  I didn’t like the way some people were gossiping and bitching about the leadership and had to check myself for times when I felt I was slipping into those kind of ways out of anger and hurt. I’m thankful for her wise advice to help me try and leave ‘well’. :)

I’ve heard lots of ministers and pastors preach that in their church ‘it’s ok not be ok’. Most churches that say that – soon get proven wrong by their response and actions to people  not being ‘ok’. I think Central is one of the few that have the integrity to actually mean and live it.

And I’m thankful.

Happy birthday Central!

What are your thoughts on… Prayer?

So next weekend I have to speak on the subject of prayer. I would love your thoughts on this topic as I prepare!

What is the point of prayer?

What do you think prayer is?

What concerns you about people who pray?

When does prayer become important?

When you hear the words prayer or praying – what thoughts spring to your mind?

What say you blog readers? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, because I would love to hear them whether you are a person who prays or a person who doesn’t.

Inking Day approaches…

Someone asked me last month whether I ever got the tattoo I talked about 2 years ago.

The answer was no.

There were a few reasons for this.

1) I wasn’t sure how I wanted it to look, and I wanted to think carefully about where it would go. I didn’t want it to be deemed a ‘slagtag’ or ‘tramp stamp’. I also think there are places on girls where tattoos look cheap and tacky. I know that tattoos offend people, and while I don’t have much patience for the easily offended, I don’t want to be disrespectful either. Especially as I’m involved in youth work.

2) My mother hates tattoos. I wanted time for her to get used to the idea that her daughter might be getting one. I am an adult but I also don’t want to totally disrespect her. It took her a long time to stop going on about the second set of holes in my ears. :)

3) I wanted to make sure that it was something God wanted me to do. A number of my Christian friends were slightly shocked when I mentioned I was thinking getting a tattoo. My mother was horrified (and will be upset with me). I spent a long time questioning if it went against my beliefs. I really spent a long time asking God about it. I specifically asked him on New Year’s Day to give me a sign to tell me yes or no. I was driving down to Dunbar when the brightest, clearest rainbow went across the sky. The rainbow is very connected to why I felt I should get a tattoo. I could sense that whisper of a voice I’ve come to recognise as being my heavenly Dad saying ‘Yes, I want you to always remember…

4) After 3 years, what I wanted has not changed. This gives me confidence that it is not going to be something I’ll regret having in permanent ink for the rest of my life!

Since then, I’ve spent time looking at designs and thinking carefully about placing of it. I’ve actually changed the planned location of the tattoo so that my Mum will not be so unhappy about it.

Last week, I went with my friend – who has had 2 tattoos done – to a body art place that I know to be reputable and spoke to an artist who has done several friends’ tattoos for them. An appointment has been booked for Wednesday, which my friend will be coming along with me.

I am nervous about it. But I’m confident that I am in good hands.

All going well, I’ll have some pictures to show you after inking day!