Saturday, 24 November 2012

The Potter's Hands - Sarah

I think it's time for me to share with you what has been going on for the last three months. My only excuse for this enormous time delay is.... well, business and fulness of life! You will see what I mean in a second :)!

This time last year, I was applying deferred entry to uni. I knew I wanted to go to uni. I also knew I wanted a gap year - I always had done since my brother and sister went here there and everywhere on theirs, bringing back spiritual treasure with them each time. But I wanted to know what God's will for my gap year was. It was a time of doubt for me - am I even meant to be doing this, is this just my selfish human nature, I want to know God's heartbeat especially for this opportunity ... how do I find it? He spoke to me and confirmed my want to do Modern Languages next year. And the sense that I, and others kept coming back to was that God was saying "what do you want to do on your gap year?" It was like He was giving me the liberty and gift of this year. He was asking me to co-partner with Him. This is a really Biblical idea, and if I'm honest, I struggled to accept it. I just wanted God to give a sign out of the sky with an arrow saying GO HERE. But that didn't happen.
           What did happen was that I started to depend on Him more and more. That is one of the most valuable things! It was hard but looking back now, I wouldn't change that experience - I can see all that God was preparing me for. One day, my art teacher randomly suggested that I do an art foundation course. I wasn't totally sure, and if I'm really honest, I wanted to go off on some amazing exotic adventure rather than stay in England and study art.

I decided I'd apply and see if I got in because it is really competitive. When I visited the college, I loved it. I could really see myself fitting in. I had my interview and got a place, and I had this unexplainable ridiculous JOY. Whilst on the campus tour, I had an overwhelming sense of peace that just convicted me that this place was where I needed to be for my gap year. The Spirit of the Lord was moving in my heart.

I was really excited all summer leading up to it. And then 2 weeks before leaving home, a lot of "flaming arrows from the evil one" - I had allowed my "shield of faith" (Ephesians 6:16) to drop for that moment in time. But what this did mean was that I had to consciously choose to trust in God with every small ounce of strength in my body. If I didn't, I couldn't cope.
On the way down in the car with mum, we prayed and declared scripture all the way. We asked for someone nice to meet when I got there. We asked for things to keep my mind off home in the first week. We asked for Godly strength.

This song holds a lot of significance for me. It got me through the tough time of leaving home, leaving my safe childhood stepping out into an adventure with my Lord and Saviour. I didn't want to do it without Him! It is based on Psalm 18, have a listen!

God provided everything - every.single.thing that I needed. There was someone lovely that I met as soon as I got here. The first week was busy and I didn't miss home too much. The art course is amazing. Jesus is teaching me how to release His presence through art. The place is INSANE. I get to live by the sea!!! God just knows my heart so well - everything is so chilled; no one ever wears heels on a night out - I love that! Beautiful inspiration is all around me. He has planted me so well in places that hold no coincidence. I have been able to witness so much to my friends. God has blessed me with a church that just wants to know the Father's heart.

And it's true, there are hard things: - It is not always easy being away from home. And I have had to step out of my comfort zone a lot. But I'm not so fearful of doing that now. God is shaping me in radical ways, in ways that only He can do. I wouldn't change that for anything. And whilst part of me still wishes I got to go travel, I know that deep deep in my heart, I am in the right place for this year. No hardship that I encounter can ever take away from the all-surpassing greatness of knowing Him! I do have a long summer holidays, so am praying about what to do with them :)! Please join me in praying.

So I'll leave you with a word of encouragement and advice for you all -
This experience has made me realise that I just don't want to go anywhere that God is not calling me to be. Sometimes you have to look really hard to find what that may be, but believe me, it is such an important thing. "Keep on seeking, and you will find" Matthew 7:7.

He is shaping me in His potter's hands. And I believe that I really am just a jar of clay made to shine with the Lord's glorious treasure. (2 Corinthians 4:7)
With love,
Sarah xx

Sunday, 11 November 2012

A very special anniversary

Ok... so I'm guessing most people at the Tea House went along their normal routines last Friday without any recollection as to what significance that day held....

How about I give you a clue....

.....It was the 9th of November....

...still not getting it?!?

The 9th of November!

Okay, if you haven't got it by now I'm appalled!!! It was the day we went to see the best band EVER!!! It was the day we went to see Switchfoot, our heroes, perform live at Birmingham!!!

So to commemorate that oh-so-special day, I thought I would do a post on all the wonderful snippets of memories that evening has imprinted into my mind, warning this blog may turn into a stream of consciousness as I relive the thing, please bear-with!!!
Excitement and adrenaline pulsating through our veins as we rush to school, knowing that TODAY IS THE DAY. Hysterical laughter at lunch accompanied by a sense of disbelief and jittery glee at the thought of what's to come. A coach journey filled with singing and frantic gasps of 'only an hour to go!!!!'
 Standing in the dark, a line full of dedicated fans, soaking in the electrifying atmosphere. Being shepherded into the arena, seeing the very stage that they will play on, clinging on to the desperation for a good view as we worm our way through the crowds.

The painful experience of the warm up band, longing for the real-deal! Hearts beating faster, screams pierce the air, emotions rising higher and higher and higher, until THEY COME ON! And is this even happening? The ecstasy of hearing the opening chords of 'Mess of Me' and the lights fall on Jon's face as he begins to sing.
We're singing, screaming, laughing all at once, suddenly the depth of the lyrics and the beauty of the music pierce me like never before, I am aware of so many things, but above all the blessings of a mighty God who lavishes his grace upon his undeserving children.

Wisdom pours from Jon's mouth as he explains that 'Hope is a pregnancy of sorts.' Whilst the introduction of 'Dark Horses' give me goose bumps and the bridge of 'Thrive' brings tears to my eyes, the feeling of unity is mindblowing as the crowd all whisper 'like make believe' in 'War Inside'. The rush of emotion as I realise Jon himself just pointed at my banner! The spine-tingling drum beats at the end of 'Where I Belong'. Then finally it's over. It can't be over. But it really is. There is a bittersweet feeling of longing for more mingled with the contentment of have a treasure chest full of memories.

I'm so sorry if you have never heard of Switchfoot, and you feel that reading this post has been a waste of your time, but please, give them a listen!!!!

Saturday, 10 November 2012

We stepped outside of ordinary...

It was early evening on a Friday and we hadn't seen each other in a while... so we decided to bake cupcakes. This alone isn't unusual for us, but then we got around to discussing flavours- and what happened next left us with 8 styles of INCREDIBLE cakes that taste as good as they look....

Miltonian  Regular 

A vanilla cupcake that while rather convincingly appears to be a scone, is actually a Victoria Sponge thanks to the delicious strawberry jam and butter icing centre. We marked them out of ten, and this was definitly an 8/10.

Cabin Sketch Regular
A soft and gooey banna and chocoloate chip extravaganza! To top this one off we glazed bannana slices in honey, butter, sugar and cinamon- and there they lie, beneah a showering of icing sugar. It is indeed brilliant. And deserved a 9-10/10.

Amatic SC Regular
A centre errupting with icing and sprinkles, this was a clever mix of cool chocolate and flaming chilli, (otherwise known as- the Volcano) and is garunteed to leave you breathless! For better or for worse... we awarded this one a lowly 6/10.

Husband of the Millennium

Introducing: Clem. A dark-chocolate and orange cupcake, that is enthused with clementine zest and melted bournville. We cut out the middle, filled the gap with chocolate icing, and then placed the remaining cake back on top for a squeezed, butterfly effect. The chocolate drop finished it off perfectly.  8/10
KG One More Night
There once was a lemony from snicket
(a town on the edge of mt rickett)
who loved to bake
and made one hell of cake,
so enjoy the tang as you lick it! 8/10


This is our most politically correct cake. It was Kate's handiwork especially, as she artfully entwinted vanilla mixture with chocolate, using nothing but a broken candle. Don't let that put you off, it tasted sweet and was full of variety- but it crumbled under the competition. 7/10

SF Grunge Sans

Immagine, if you will, Maggie Smith. Warm hearted, fluffy haired and with  spicy attitude. Seeing as this combination worked so well in Downton Abbey, we resurrected it as a Cake, exchanging personality for ingredients. To finish, we drizzled honey on top, which completely INTENTIONALLY came out in the shape of a rose. As such, this was one of our best on all accounts (despite Gina being extra generous with the mixed herbs): 9/10

One Constant
Walnut and Coffee proved to be a wonderful combination. With a 'mocca' esque base, and grounded nuts, it tasted deep and strong when it emerged out of the oven, and was topped with coffee icing and a walnut crown. Again, a darn cood cake. 9/10


This twisted, malformed, misunderstood and patched up cake was engineered to bring the joys of all our cakes together! In short: it's half one flavour, half another, so you can have a mouthful of both without creating crumbs. It has to be: 10/10

Which is your favorite of the bunch? Please have your say because the winning cakes will be sold at our church, to raise money for our Tanzania trip in January (yes, we are actually going! And are very physced about it.)
Have you made any great cakes recently? Any new ideas, extravanganzas and yummy recipes to share? Please do add to the flavour of this blog! :)

Lots of Love,
Milla, Kate, Gina and Abbie.

Friday, 9 November 2012

The Potter's Hands - Gina

Gap year series HERE WE GO!

So this is a series to give everyone a little glimpse into what we've each individually been doing on out gap years. It's called The Potters Hands (Not because of Harry Potter as I originally thought) but because we've each given this year to God and we now want to share what he's done with it so far...One of the reasons we created this blog was to keep each other updated as we each ventured out on our individual gap years, so here's the first installment!

I was wracking my brains as to a cool and quirky way which I could show this, and I realised that my gap year coincides with my instagram pictures! I'm going to write too, and I'll try and be concise!

Sarah's send off to Falmouth . beauty whilst bike riding . a stay in Swindon with Eve .

So far it's been a year full of hardship. I think I wandered into it with a little naievety, expecting to 'get a job', 'earn money', go away to Africa and come back with life-changing experiences! In a sense that's still going to happen, but God's had a LOT to teach me about it and myself in the process.

I didn't just 'get a job' as I expected, there was many weeks of trailing round town with CV's, hopefuls and then dissapointments, hurts and tears as I was rejected. I found the odd one day job, and eventually settled into part time shifts with the school kitchens. This is excruciating as it means being around the school I have supposedly just left. To start with it brought back a lot of memories, and it felt like I was drowning in the old ones while I was supposed to be making new ones.
Not being around my friends every day was painful, I felt so lonely suddenly and so miserable knowing that it wasn't going to change. But God has taught me that I don't need to find my happiness in earthly things - I thought that was just money and clothes and all the rest, but I think it means things like friendship too - and that true happiness resides in HIM. So that brought me up short, and meant that I began to tenativlely seek God more and more.

toasties with Eve . Transform interview travel with Abbie and Milla and Kate . Milla 'performing' at Reading train station .
The dissapointment didn't stop there though...God still had more to teach! So I expected to go with SMILE  a crosslinks organisation to Uganda. I went to the interview. Got a place on the third team. But ended up not being able to go as they couldn't find the leaders. Crap. This threw me into a whirl of 'what am I going to do?? What if I never go away? aaaaahhhh'. BUT, God is soverign and it all worked out for the best.
I've currently got a place on a transform team to go to Tanzania with Tearfund. This is clearly where God wants me to be. It has such a better feel to it than the SMILE one ever did, the interview was soooo relaxed and I met some really nice, notatall intimmidating people there! I think what God was trying to teach me was that, in the words of C.S.Lewis 'not to put your heart in the future.' (Screwtape Letters) The bible says that where your heart is your treasure is also. And what C.S.Lewis was getting at was that you shouldn't put your heart in things that could change so easily and dissapoint you. You should put your heart in the present and praise God for the things that he's given you now. It's changed my whole outlook on life and I love it!
Mentioning 'Screwtape Letters' I've been trying to read some Christian books to become a lot wiser and more knowledgable about God and the bible, and to get my head around some issues. I would seriously recommend the 'Screwtape Letters' - I know that Kate would too. It is so amazing and it's written from the devil's perspective so you have to constantly be reversing it in your mind, reverse psychology works!! It's taught me so many things that I can't go into, but go and find out for yourself!
Another book (I don't want to turn this into a book-review post but I have to mention it) is 'Desiring God' by John Piper. I know Abbie would also recommend it. It's amazing. Give it a read. It has some amazing views on joy i.e. our purpose is to glorify God by enjoying Him.
bike ride with milla . monopoly with Kate, Milla and Abbie .
So I'm currently spending my days in the paradox of dreading and yet needing the call from Julie to tell me there's work in the kitchens. I find it so difficult as it's so hard to get on with the people there, and I find it quite lonely. But I try and use the time to myself to pray for all of them - it is my mission to pray for them constantly so that at least one of them starts to question God and look at Christianity. I'm trying to be a light for God there, his ambassador in that place. I have had one conversation with someone, but I desperately want more. And all for His glory!!

To sum up: The gap year so far has been hard and will probably be harder but it's brought me closer to God! And I have had some fantastic times with friends aswell. There should be another post, post-Tanzania with tons of pictures and stories, so keep reading! I will be so impressed if you read this, hopefully there will be more stories from the others to come.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

We are One Tonight

A couple of posts ago Sarah mentioned a wonderful song called 'We are One Tonight' by none other than the one and only SWITCHFOOT! Well this song has really struck a chord with me lately, as the members of the tea house have scattered far and wide - as we are all taking gap years.

This means that I have been missing my friends a LOT and sometimes feel really down remembering all the amazing times we had together.

However- the song We Are One Tonight gives me hope. It reminds me that though we may be far away from one another we are part of God's great family and there is such an incredible intimacy in that! So no matter how many miles are between us we are still One in God!!

Oh and by the way - look out for a new series we are about to do on what God has been doing in our Gap Years - it's gonna be exciting stuff :)