Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Goodbye Oh Yeah, hello The Space

We reached another landmark meeting yesterday. Citygroup:Sunday is having to change venues. We've outgrown the Oh Yeah Centre. Can you believe that? DC mentioned yesterday about our first meeting there round a couple of tables and look how we've grown. It's amazing. I cannot wait to see what rooms there are for children's work. They've been doing a great job with the limited space they have. It's going to be great to have space to be able to do really embrace the vision. I'm so excited. I'm still hands off at the mo as I feel it's wrong to get involved when I'm not in a good place. I have faith for healing and getting fully involved again. The sticky floors, having to hoover up the bar area or building area before we can set up will soon be a memory. Although I wonder what delights await us from The Space? It's part of Queen's University Student Union building. I feel I'm surrounded by students on all sides now. Is He trying to tell me something? Those student hangout nights in Nis will be put to good use soon, I think.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Rain, wind, baptisms and friendships


At the beginning of November - the 5th until 7th - Redeemer Central went mobile. Well, to Ballintoy to be exact. We had a weekend away. I was excited for so many reasons - one being I hadn't ventured up to the north coast yet and was finally going to get to see it, or so I thought. I saw very little, but it doesn't matter just means another day out exploring later on.

The hard times were hard. I was feeling very challenged. I really wanted to spend as much time with people as possible so when I had to go upstairs it was a battle of the mind. Eventually I got to the stage where I realised that going upstairs was a good thing - a positive thing - as long as I made it back downstairs again.

We had a service on Saturday night and Sunday morning which were both powerful. God gave me a scripture before we started to worship. I wasn't sure what to do with it so just left it for a while. I still haven't the confidence to know if it is for me or needs to be shared yet. I remember towards the end of the service more was being said (I cannot remember if DC preached or not) and it was becoming clearer to me the scripture was to be shared. As soon as I realised that there was no hesitation, I had to bring it. I think I would grabbed the microphone had the meeting ended - I felt that strongly it was for now. I was reminded of Isaiah 40:29

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted, but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
This passage was given to me a few weeks ago and I felt there were too many others who felt the same and who needed to be reminded that however they were feeling or going through God could still use them and He'd give them the strength to endure. I also think this verse was brought again on Sunday just gone. We had four baptisms on Saturday. We all went down to Ballintoy Harbour which was slightly sheltered. I cannot imagine how cold the water was. I didn't realise how cold I had got until I got back and took off my coat. I ended up with more layers on under the duvet for about 20 mins trying to warm up again. Thankfully lunch was homemade soup which definitely helped restore some heat.

We had planned on going for a walk in the afternoon but the weather had other ideas. It was pouring with rain and didn't let up for ages. Some people had brought some games which people were huddled around, there was sharing of make up skills, hand massages were done and a bit of fun all round, me thinks, was had.
I was amazed how many people came along.

My eyes were opened again to how many people are part of the Redeemer community. There were some unable to come to the weekend but even without them there were alot more than I had realised.

It was so good to spend quality time with people and get to speak to some I hadn't before. I found it a struggle being with people the whole weekend. I found a way of coping, head up to the dorm and relax until felt able to cope again.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Row, row, row your boat...

I've downloaded a daily Bible reading plan application onto my blackberry in the hope that at the very least I can read something every day. Of course, that hasn't happened. I've just worked out I can go back to the days I've missed and read them. So that's what I've started to do.

One of the bible plans is "The Essential 100 Challenge". I thought it'd be good to read some of the more important verses to refresh my limited knowledge of the Bible. I try to read with an enquiring mind - not "just read" the words.

I'm sitting here with my phone, trying to find the first missed passage. Back and back I go - I'm only on day 34 but flicking back seems to take ages. Aha, found it. Day 2! Surely not! Oh, now I remember, I didn't realise you had to click the forward arrow for it to register the passage has been read. I remember reading the passage and thought I'd read it again.

I was struck by Noah and the ark. When I'd finished reading Genesis 7 it made me think about why God had felt He needed to do this. I'm not questionning the all-knowing God, but what was the world like for Him to do that? How does it compare to today's world? And the question I've heard alot - if you heard God saying build an ark, would you? Of course, He's promised to never flood the whole earth again so He'd probably never ask us to do that.

So many questions are flying around my head. The main one is - if I was asked to something out of my comfort zone - totally out of my comfort zone - how obedient would I be? What about you? Do you think you'd do it?

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Rejoice together

What an amazing week I've had. I have been feeling God's peace so much over the past few weeks. I've been amazed at how calm I've been. Let me tell you about the past few weeks.
About 3 weeks ago I was doing my irregular breast check and came across something that felt different. My heart stopped, pulled my hand away as quick as if it had touched something hot and had to stifle a scream (I didn't want to wake up Alison - housemate - as it was the very early hours of the morning, something I've got acquainted with lately!). I took a deep breath, cleared my head and had another feel. Yup, definitely a bump where there wasn't one before. "OK" I thought. "I cannot do anything about it right now, better get to sleep and I'll check it out first thing".

I didn't give it another thought, until the following Monday night as I was getting changed for bed. My hand brushed past my breast and I felt a bump again. Was I imagining it? Nope. It was definitely there. I carried on getting ready for bed and knew where I'd be sitting from 8.30 the next morning - in the Doctor's surgery at the open surgery. I had a great night sleep.
I requested I saw a female doctor. Normally you cannot specify who you see but thankfully I got to see one (didn't realise we had 2 at the surgery). She was really good and listened to me and the family history. She had a quick check and said she had a feeling it wasn't anything sinister but it must be checked out. She said she'd fast-track me due to family history. She made me promise that if it turned out all OK I would come back to see her and she'd refer me to the family history clinic to discuss potential risk with me. I said that I would and thanked her as I'd been trying for 17 years for someone to refer me. I love the health service over here!
I got an appointment within 2 weeks. Thankfully it was a one-stop clinic where you have the tests and results on the same day. It must be a nightmare waiting for these results. The closer the appointment came the more nervous I got as I was going to get a definite answer. The Sunday, day before, was the worst. The unknown is a very scary thing. It can grab hold of you if you'd let it. I kept having to say quick prayers.
On the whole the 2 weeks waiting for the appointment flew by. I thought they may have dragged but at times, in fact most of the time I'd forgotten about the bump and the nearing appointment. I can only put that to God's peace on me. I've a nature to worry about things so having this I thought I may be in a state but Ma was right. She said that when she knew she had Cancer it was not as scary as the possibility of having it. It still amazes me how she faced each day with it, especially during the end. I'm not sure how much of what I saw of her was a front and she was crumbling inside but I was with her practically 24/7 so perhaps she was at peace with the world...I think I need to leave this for another post! Getting a bit sidetracked.
Anyway, I started to get really panicky walking to the bus stop to get home for the appointment. Have you ever been paralysed with fear? That's how it felt. I wanted to run and hide but couldn't work out where to go, how to get wherever. My mind was racing away from me. I then came to myself. I realised I could carry on down this thought process and possibly go mad (at least it felt I would!) or to give up my fear in prayer to Jesus. He didn't give His life for us to live in fear. So I prayed. Before I had finished I felt it rise from me to be replaced with peace.
I had that peace at the hospital. I have to say a big thank you to Leah for coming with me. I'm more confident with someone with me. I'm so glad she brought a book with her. I didn't realise most of the waiting would be done in another waiting room with a cape draped around my shoulders with Velcro that didn't keep the cape shut! Thankfully only women were in the waiting room and all having the same problem. I couldn't wait to get dressed again, it took hours.
I'd heard from friends about mammograms so prepared myself for pain. I was surprised. Either I've forgotten how bad it was or I didn't think it was as bad as I thought it'd be. I'm glad as they had to take 4. I don't think I'd have let her do the other 3 if it'd have hurt the first one!
Next came the ultrasound. That was interesting. I was shown the bump-s. BUMPS... wow and yuk. I'm still not sure about the amount of bumps there are. I was told that the bumps are in fact cysts and I have quite a few of them. The nurse drained 2 of the biggest and sent off some of the liquid to be checked. I wanted her to get rid of the others but she wouldn't do that.
I went back to see the Nurse to be told all OK and can go home and relax. She explained about cysts and that she'd make an appointment to go back in 12 months for mammogram and another appointment to get the results. At last, finally being monitored. They cannot do anything genetically as they need a member of the family with Cancer to check their blood for the faulty gene. But even if they could do that and found the gene it still isn't a firm conclusion that someone will develop breast cancer. So I feel quite happy with being monitored.
It seems to be spurring me on to look at my eating again. Looks like I'll be getting out the cook books soon and starting to create and eat properly - hopefully lose the extra pounds too (too many to count but have to start somewhere). Also keep fit craze is definitely brewing - I'm doing a 5km walk next week - argh, is it that near! My aim is to be able run the 10km next year
That was enough to celebrate and think what a great week it's been, but it gets even better...
I got a voicemail on my mobile from the job and benefits office I was registered with when I moved over here, to Belfast. What on earth did they want? I rang them straight back. I was told she had good news for me, no in fact very, very good news. I was told at the time I couldn't get income based benefits and had to use my limited overdraft. I ran out of money 5 days before starting my job, didn't have money to get to work (but again, that's another story). I was told my national insurance records has been updated - yay Norfolk had finally amended my payments to the correct number - and it meant that I did qualify for contributions based after all. So after having the information checked I'm due to have job seekers back paid in one lump on Tuesday. Woo hoo. It's going to good use - clear my overdraft. It'll mean I'm in credit for the first time in a long while.
So I've drawn up my budget. I thought I'd done quite well, until speaking to bro I realised I hadn't put my mobile or phone/broadband/tv down - OK not much but am going to have to revisit the budget - again! Hmm, have to be creative this time.
So two amazing things (at least) to praise and be thankful for.

Friday, 2 July 2010

What is that noise?...it's my heart breaking again

No, I'm not talking about a romantic type of heart-broken-ness.

I was in the office on my own this afternoon when a key worker and his client (I'm sure there's a better word) came in. We got chatting about where he's at. I was surprised at the banter going on and how easy it was. His key worker had a quick chat about him to me. I won't divulge only that he's another youngster in Flax Foyer. For the non-Belfastians reading it's an organisation who support vulnerable young adults. This particular Foyer offers flats for people coming out of care, ex-offenders and self-referrals. We get quite a few referrals from them.

After they left I felt really, really down. I know we are all different people and different things happen along life's path but it really saddens me when a 16 year old (any age really) has lost touch with their family and is left to fend for themselves. I've seen a few over this year and some of them seem so lost.

I realise there are times when it is best to be out of the family situation for their own safety but some of the situations I wonder how it's come to that. I just want to wrap these peeps up and show them the love I was blessed to receive growing up.

Yes, I was spoilt and sheltered growing up and suddenly felt like I had to fend for myself. I was lucky in that I had a supportive brother who refused to give up on me - I can never thank you enough, Chris for the love and support and the friendship that's grown over the years. But what about those who aren't as lucky?
I don't know how I'd have got through the last 10 years without support from Chris and Barb & co and then more recently having my faith.
The amount who need help feels overwhelming at the moment and I wonder if others feel the same. But how many of us try to change things? If we all did something, doesn't have to be a huge enormous thing, a simple thing like getting to know your neighbours, think what a difference that'd make.

Changing community one person at a time.

Time to get on my knees and pray...

Friday, 21 May 2010

Time for TEAM

I realise I haven't said much about my job. It is a job worth waiting for. Although I got to the point of applying for any admin jobs I've been blessed with a job I've been searching for. To understand why I'm saying it's such a blessing we need to go back a few years. I think back to around December 2006.

I used to work as an administrator for NSPCC in Norwich. For a couple of reasons I had to leave that job. It was a hard thing to walk away from but at the time I felt I had to do that. In December 2006 I applied for a similar role at Sure Start in Norwich. I had a great interview and felt very positive only to have a phone call that evening to say that I hadn't been successful. But what a phone call that was - it was the best job rejection I have ever, and since, had. I was told if they hadn't had a temp doing the job I would have been offered the job and not to give up as I was exactly what a children's charity needs and to keep looking.
So I did start looking.

Being in Norfolk was very limiting. Either charities didn't have offices in Norfolk or there weren't any vacancies. So I broadened the search area. I searched England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. I wasn't hopeful with Northern Ireland but thought I'd give it a go. Wow, there were options for roles in Belfast. I sat there with a sense of being directed there. I was trying hard to ignore it and became more and more thoughtful. I came to the conclusion and prayer that if it was a God-calling it would have to be much more than getting a job in Belfast.

I pushed that thought to the back of my mind as I had got another job for another 18 months or so.

In September 2007 started my adventures in Serbia. I cannot remember when Trish and David said they were called to church planting in Belfast but I know it put me in a bit of confusion. I still felt I had to spend time in Serbia but felt a buzz in me about Belfast. When I first heard it was a bit scary being reminded of the jobs in Belfast.

So Belfast first came on my radar because of jobs with children's charity. After many months and numerous applications I lost track of what jobs I had applied for. I started to get interviews which was a way forward. One of the jobs was at Belfast Metropolitan College for the Prince's Trust TEAM Programme. It didn't dawn on me until I received the offer letter that this wasn't just an admin job in a college. It was working for a charity with youth and felt much more than just an administration role.

Looking back at the interview I realise how God had directed and guided me. This was the second interview I had with the college but at a different campus. When I walked in I recognised 2 of the panel - they had been at the first interview. I felt that as I hadn't got the previous job I wasn't going to get this one either so I relaxed completely. The answers were quick in coming and in detail as I didn't really think about the answers first.

So you know how I got the job but not much about the job. This is the fun part. The TEAM Programme is a 12-week personal development plan for 16-25 year olds out of education, not working. A chance for them to get motivated into finding jobs, next course and to gain some qualifications.

It was amazing to be part of TEAM 11 and get to know them. Because I spend 4 days a week at Central I got to know the guys better than on the other sites. It was a weird start - I felt I was sitting back and observing how things went for quite a few weeks and even after getting to know some of the team of I still held back a bit. In a way I'm glad I did as I found it really hard when they left.

It is so amazing to see the difference in the finishers to how they started. I'm with my second team and they are so different again. I'm really pleased that the "admin" role is not in some remote office with no contact with TEAM members. OK, I don't have much contact with them but part of that is me not getting too close to them as I don't want to take on too much.

It is an eye opener working with these TEAM's. It's so easy to blinkered about the problems some of the youth have. I feel I am getting a better understanding from a small group. Not that everyone on the programme has problems but on some of the TEAM's there are some with the stereotypical attitudes.

For years I always felt I would work with small children but again I'm being challenged to communicate with young adults - the group I would cross the road to avoid a few years ago. Who knows where this is going to lead - but you know what, even if I stay as the Administrator at the mo I can see myself happy with that.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

What love


I give only one of my sins
and leave it at the cross
One of many I could chose from
If we all did that imagine the pain and anguish
at the cross
on the cross

Yet, Jesus Christ didn't only take one of my sins
He took all my sin
He took all mankind's sins
I cannot imagine the pain and anguish
the suffering He felt that day
He knew what He must endure
and the reason He must endure
From the beginning of time
He knew what was to come
He saw the bigger picture
He felt the betrayal
He felt every lash from the whip
He felt every fist, every foot beating Him
He felt every thorn thrust upon His head
He felt the weight of the cross
as He carried it to Golgotha
He felt every time the three stakes were hit
To pierce His wrists, His feet
Each bang on the stakes
We hit them
With our sin
because of our sin
He felt His Heavenly Father's wrath
Obedient to death
God's Will to be done
What love He had-He has for us
To endure that for us
For me
(c) Caf Mowbs 2010

How long has it been?

I cannot believe I've been in Belfast for 10 months. The time has flown by. So what have I been up to? Well during that time quite a bit – where to start?...

We had our regional weekend away during August Bank Holiday weekend in a field in somewhere in Yorkshire – believe nearest place was Yarm. What an amazing time away together. There were 20 of us (including 4 children). It was so powerful and such a great time strategically. As a church plant the following week we were embarking on a new strategy to build community and moving Citygroup (our mid-week meeting) to a new venue. This was a valuable time away. There were many healings, physically and spiritually in our group, let alone the rest of the people attending.

“Take the ring off. It is not the wedding ring I have given you. It is an unhealthy link to your past and needs to be broken. Take it off”

My mind was racing. I knew I had to be obedient but on the other hand could I cope without it? (silly question!). I worshipped some more, then took it off. A few days after returning from North I felt I had to go a step further. I didn't want to lose the ring so I had put it into my purse – meaning most of the time it was near me. It's now in a safe place with the rest of my jewellery.

It has been years since I've been camping – I did a night in a trailer tent a few years ago but not much since then. It was absolutely freezing. This year I'm definitely bringing my thermals. It's the nights. I couldn't sleep because I was so cold – I've never had to put more clothes on to go to bed before – until now running out of oil, but that's another story!

I haven't had a weekend filled with so much laughter and tears. By the end of it I was relieved as my stomach muscles were hurting so much. But what a release there was. We all felt touched and ready for Redeemers next step.

It was such a special time away with Redeemer but also being able to spend some more time with Coleraine church and Leeds.

I was bursting with words when I came back from North full of praise and wonder at God's Glory and power. Regeneration, rejuvenation, reconciliation, redemption for the city of Belfast and the nation of Ireland.

Can you feel it rising? The power and the Glory of our Lord?
God is a loving and living God
The streets of Belfast will be filled with Your people
Living in Your fullness once more
Re-generation, re-juvenation, re-conciliation, re-demption
This city will tremble at the sound of Your name
Your church will stand firm forevermore
Your wonder and Glory will be known throughout the land
No words can declare how great You are.

I have never experienced God with such intensity and time span. I felt the spirit on me the whole weekend. I felt God released me from quite alot of things that weekend and He also revealed how some of my behaviours have a bad affect on me. One example, although may seem quite an insignificant thing has brought me such freedom. For quite a while I wore a family members wedding ring on my thumb. I cannot remember who's it was but it was a link to all the departed members. When I was stressed or concerned I used to hold on to my thumb and play with my ring, not sure if you've ever seen me doing that? I didn't realise I was doing that during one of the worship times, didn't really take too much notice. Looking back in my journal it was an emotional time of worship – sometimes I don't know if it's a happy emotion or releasing something! Then God spoke to me in such a clear way – not in a booming voice like you see in Hollywood films but I knew it was Him.