2013 so far… Jesus, LA and a chicken suit

Hello all!
So, it’s been 6 weeks.. WHAT?! The past 6 weeks have been crazy.. not only has school been busy but there’s been lots going on outside of school too. I’ve been to Los Angeles… the city of the angels.. I practically touched James Franco.. (kind of not really) I went to the youth and children’s worker south west conference.. which was  a joy as I was surrounded by hundreds of people who dedicate their lives to annoying buggers like me, and… to top it all off, I walked around town dressed as a chicken to promote my Young Enterprise stall. (Yes, I did stand outside Nandos and shout murderers.. sorry!!)  Busy times. 

Now, from week one I said to myself that God 52 was never going to be a burden, and it isn’t. I honestly see this is a gift, its such a  great way to learn, struggle and ultimately grow, and I’ve  definitely seen the benefits of taking  part in each week. So, I’ll be honest.. for the past 6  weeks, I’ve turned my God 52 radar off and dug a big fat hole for work and revision.. its that time of year again.. ALREADY?!?!
However, despite not doing a great job of keeping up with God 52 recently, I’ve really realised a growth in my  relationship with God, and what more can I ask for really?  So,  I thought I’d spend what should really be my reflection on week 11 as a time to reflect on what God’s been up to in my life so far in 2013, and then (hopefully!) get back into the routine of things next week.

At the start of 2013, I started praying for God to open my eyes to the people around me, and to help me  to see that ultimately, everyone has worth. Okay, so I don’t go around thinking people are worthless, but I guess I was asking for a constant reminder that everyone is equal to God. I  was reminded of this when I attempted the challenge to outrageously love someone for the week. A couple of years ago, my youth pastor (now named Papa Steve thanks to his ordination!) was preaching and said something that struck me.

nothing you do will make God love you more, and nothing you do will make God love you less’ 

This is SO true.. whether I understand people or not, they are perfect in the eyes of God, and because of this, I really want to see people in that way. In my head, I imagined walking down the street one day and just seeing every person sparkle, like in the verse in Philippians when it  says ‘then you shine among them like stars in the sky’…. Seeing God in every person you meet is probably pretty life changing, because you realise that just as he created you,  he created them. and just as he loves you and cares about you, he loves and cares about them. This was something set on my heart by God at the end of 2012, and it has been so great learning this lesson, and just learning to love more. 

When I asked one of my friends what her new year resolution was, she told me it was just to love people more, with a genuine love like you have for your family and friends, when you are interested in what’s going on in their life and what they’re interested in. At the time, it seemed crazy to me. 
I remember thinking.. ‘oh so you’re just going to love people more? That’s like a better way of saying ‘be nicer’…. nice one’. 
But thinking about it now, its a revolutionary action. It’s one of those steps in living life more like Jesus did, because, as Papa Steve’s quote reminded me, he loves everyone, and when Jesus walked the earth, he loved people unconditionally. So.. PRAISE JESUS 😀 because this is testimony to how he is moving in my life and how God is answering prayer, which of course, reminds me of a verse I have become so dependent on recently, Psalm 37:4… ‘Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the  desires of your heart’. 
Already, when I meet new people, or see people struggling, I find it easier to take time out for them because I’ve learnt to see God in them. 
An example of this is in my school Christian Union, in the few times I’ve visited in the past couple of weeks, I have learnt so much more about the girls who attend.. their testimonies, their triumphs and their struggles and it is so encouraging to see and such a blessing to be a part of their lives. I think I’ve  spent too long ignoring the young women of faith in my school, and I’m grateful that God has woken me up to his movement through people in the school. 

Another, slightly crazier example comes from my recent trip to LA. As a group, we were in China Town and our food came by the truck load so we boxed some of it up. I wanted to give it to the homeless (there’s a lot of them in LA) and begged my teacher until he agreed. My heart was stirred so strongly for the people living in the streets that we walked past.. I wanted to talk to them and hear their stories and just try and be friendly.. but unfortunately, my teacher had the risk assessment in my his head and wouldn’t let us stop.. so it only went as far as leaving the Chinese on the corner of the street, but I guess I see where he was coming from. My point isn’t ‘oh look at me I’m a saint’ because I’m not.. it’s that, 6 months ago,  I probably  would have ignored those people all together  and focused on the amazing holiday that I was on, but  God stirred compassion in my heart just a week after a responsive prayer at the YCWSW conference and its a testimony to how he is literally transforming me from the inside out, which is so exciting .. WOOOHOOO!   
Okay so I went to see Les Miserables when it came out with a friend of mine who was seeing it for the third time and was way more excited about it than me… and one quote from the film stuck out to me, ‘To love another person is to see the face of God’. 
(Ps: Eddie Redmayne ‘s face alone makes the film… I’m just saying.. but that’s not the point)
Why is that quote so striking? Because.. it highlights a universal truth, that God literally IS love… and that’s why we see him in everyone, not only because he created them, but also because everything about them is a reason to glorify him. 
I was watching a clip from Bethel Music’s Spring tour this week, and in it Jeremy Riddle said ‘its more powerful when we give glory, then when we cry out for glory’… 
and that highlights  the journey I’m going on.. Sure, I’ve been a Christian for nearly 3 years now, but still everyday I’m learning more about surrender, more about humility, and more about living with a real heart for God, and a heart to see all people come to know him.. CRAZY! 
Also, one thing that has really encouraged me over the last 6 weeks are some words given to me once before I gave a sermon in my church. I was SO NERVOUS and I remember turning round to someone and saying, ‘how can I stand here in front of all these people who know the bible and have been Christians for longer than me and know more about Jesus?’… and they replied simply by saying ‘you know him, and that’s all  that matters‘.
I think those words will probably stay with me for a long time, because they’re an encouragement for anytime that I feel insignificant and think.. how am I supposed to tell people about Jesus?! and I really hope they encourage some of you too. 

and this leads me to my final gem. 

‘Faith is to believe what we do not see, and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe’ 

Like I said, I’m on a journey. But I’m not on this alone.. I have wonderful family and friends, and a wonderful God who holds my hand through it all. Sorry for the long blog, its been a long 6 weeks…
I hope this has encouraged you.. please pray that my journey will continue to be as fruitful! 
I promise to get you a picture of me in the chicken suit next week.. (If i can find a way to get it without Facebook, I’ve logged off  for the exam period!)
God bless you all,
Madailein x 

Ps: here is a picture of me and my classmates with the  famous ‘Bob’ from Lightspeed in Bakersfield CA. . It’s kind of a big deal.. Move aside James Franco.