Advent: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Happy December 1st – it’s officially CHRISTMAS SEASON! We have some brilliant posts planned for you all on the blog this month, kicking off with a brilliant Advent post from Emma, on the biggest game-changer history has ever seen.

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I love the month of December. The anticipation of Christmas festivities never fails to send me into an over-excited spin. Parties, log fires, amazing decorations, Boxing Day walks, more mince pies than you can shake a stick at and the list goes on… In many ways, I am still like my 5-year-old self crawling behind the Christmas tree trying to guess what might be lurking underneath all the beautiful wrapping paper and ribbon. I spend the rest of the year dreaming of the smell of fresh gingerbread, and dropping not-so-subtle hints about new bags, or shoes, or both…

And in the run up to all the fun, God blesses us with yet another gift: a season of preparation. The weeks in the run up to Christmas, advent, is in itself a really special time. The word advent means ‘coming’. It’s a time where we are actively waiting, and preparing for what’s ahead.

So how can we best use advent as a time of preparation? Advent is an amazing opportunity to consciously focus our minds on who Jesus is and why he came. To pray that he would move our hearts afresh with the amazing news of Jesus Christ. To seek Him, spend time with him, praying and worshiping the one who gave it all.

It’s easy to hurtle through advent, treating it as a time for ticking things off lists at the end of a long term. There are so many carols to sing, presents to wrap, mince pies to eat that it can be easy to lose sight of why it really is the most wonderful time of the year.

Let’s make the season of advent different this year. Let’s make it one where our number one focus is Jesus Christ. The fact that Jesus came to earth to dwell as a man, was born, died, and rose again is the biggest game-changer that history has ever seen. Through Him, all of God’s promises are fulfilled. Through Him, was can have access to a personal, intimate relationship with the creator of the entire universe. And through Him, we receive more love than we ever deserved and can even fathom.

As Paul says in his letter to the Corinthians:

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
‭Colossians‬ ‭3‬:‭1-2‬

This is my advent prayer this year: that I would set my heart on things above – on Jesus. I’m praying that my eyes would be fixed on him, not on earthly things.

There are so many ways we can focus on Jesus. We can read through a Gospel, meet with a friend to pray, find some songs that inspire us to praise God, drop some festive treats round with a neighbour or those in need, the list is endless…

Let’s make advent all about Jesus this year.

Other related posts:
Advent: A Time To Treasure and Adore





Emma graduated from Cambridge 4 years ago, and now works in Finance. She said ‘I Do’ to the wonderful Luke last April and loves being part of Team Pendlebury!  Emma’s other passions include leading music at church, doing Pilates & eating salted caramel ice cream! She is so loving seeing God use More Precious to grow his kingdom.

What To Expect From: Church for the first time

Going to a new church can be a really nerve-wracking experience, whether you’re a seasoned-church goer or it’s your very first time. You’ll probably have a lot of questions: Where do I sit? Will anyone talk to me? What do I wear?!

Not knowing what to expect can often be the scariest thing about stepping into a new place, so a few of our writers have shared their experiences of their first time in a new church.

WTE Church

Beccy says…

I’m not one to enjoy new social situations at all, so going to a new church for the first time was very daunting! The first time I arrived at my church I was surprised at how incredibly warmly I was welcomed. The leader of the church came over to introduce himself immediately, before introducing me to another student, who introduced me to her friends throughout the morning. There were people floating around on the welcome team to help anyone who needed direction and to greet people as they arrived, and tea and cake was offered to everyone before the service even began. Everyone was so lovely and I instantly felt comfortable.

There were multiple events put on to integrate newcomers and to help us feel at home within the church. I really felt that these events were a way for the church to get to know me and find out how they could make me feel welcome, rather than a way to reel me in and make sure I couldn’t leave! At the beginning of each academic year my church held student lunches at someone’s house or at a pub, paid for by the church (very attractive for students!). I went to one on my first visit, then each week after that. They also held regular newcomers lunches which were a great way to get to know people within the church, and I was made to feel part of my new church family very quickly.


Annabelle says…

I’ve been in and out of church quite a lot in my life; I was raised in church and went every Sunday with my family. For many reasons, when I was teenager I stopped going all together. Many years later, my now-husband, Jude, invited me to go along to his church to listen to his dad give the preach. While I wanted to go, I found making the decision to go really hard. Because of my previous experiences with church growing up, I felt very nervous and didn’t know what to expect.

Thankfully Jude managed to persuade me to go and in hindsight it was the best decision I could have made! The people I met on that Sunday morning back in November 2011 were so welcoming and lovely that it made me want to go back again and again. I’ve since made loads of good friends and have been baptised.

I get really scared of new environments and experiences, so even though I was absolutely terrified to go to church that first time, being encouraged to push through the fear and nerves turned out to be the best thing for me. I’m now always reminded to think of the positive outcomes of every situation, because you’ll never know the impact they will have on your life.


Emma says…

I was first invited to church by some of my friends from sixth-form and I mainly went along to be polite and to get them to stop asking me to come! I wasn’t a Christian and was a bit apprehensive because I didn’t know the protocol. To be honest, my biggest concern was what to wear – would my skirt be too short? Do Christians care about stuff like that these days?!

Not knowing what to expect, I was initially nervous but going along with one of my closest friends was reassuring. I was surprised to find the church was really modern and wasn’t even in a conventional church building. It was a large and there were lots of people milling about, chatting and drinking coffee, and there was pop music playing – no organ to be seen! I was introduced to a few people whose names I immediately forgot, handed a cup of tea and got chatting to a few people who were sitting nearby.

The service began with a few worship songs led by a band at the front. I didn’t know any of them and they didn’t sound like the traditional hymns I was used to, but I hummed along and enjoyed the music, while taking furtive glances at the people around me! It was interesting to see how people were singing – some people had their hands in the air, some people were just stood, or sat. There was then a short talk by the leader of the church and more worship at the end. The whole service was really relaxed, but it did take me a few visits to really get comfortable with the format and to start recognising faces.

I’ve since been the newbie at lots of different churches where I’ve been worried about sitting by myself, but too nervous to talk to anyone! Luckily, one thing always happens – people will talk to you! Most likely, they won’t recognise you and will make an effort to say hello and find out a bit about you. When finding a church while at uni, I took the plunge and went along by myself. I can get a bit shy when I first meet people, and I was really nervous and intimidated, but it turned out to be one of the best decisions I made – I was immediately welcomed into a community and am still really good friends with the people I met on that first Sunday morning, despite now living in a completely different city!

When you go along to a new church, just remember that the people you talk to just want to make you feel welcome and put you at ease – after all, they were new to church once too!


Why is church important?

Here are a few verses to help us and encourage us! (All taken from The Message).

Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.
Colossians 3:16-17

So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:25

I can’t impress this on you too strongly. God is looking over your shoulder. Christ himself is the Judge, with the final say on everyone, living and dead. He is about to break into the open with his rule, so proclaim the Message with intensity; keep on your watch. Challenge, warn, and urge your people. Don’t ever quit. Just keep it simple.
2 Timothy 4:2

What to do when you can’t ‘feel’ God

I love this clear and thoughtful post from Jenny, and have reread it multiple times this week already. A great reminder that however tired and worn-out we feel, God never changes. L x

With You

I love reading about people finding strength in God when they are going through a hard time. I love hearing testimonies where people speak of how God carried them through a difficult situation. BUT what happens if you don’t feel that? What if you are in a tough situation and you can’t feel God? You actually have no idea where he is. You feel frustrated and alone.

This post is for you.

This post is to remind us all that our faith is not dependent upon our feelings but to point us back to our father who loves us so much. Our culture is obsessed with feelings. We hang out with people who make us feel good, we participate in hobbies that make us feel good and we avoid things that make us feel sad or disappointed. This is how we function.

Therefore, it is not surprising that this comes into our faith; we rely on our feelings and ‘feeling’ God’s presence. This in itself is not a bad thing but this cannot be foundation of our faith.

Let’s have a look at what the Bible says about our God:

1. God never changes

I love this! I love it because I don’t really understand it- everything in our world changes all the time. Even the most consistent friends in our lives change and let us down from time to time but the Bible says that our God never changes.

‘But you are always the same, you will live forever’ (Psalm 102:27)

Even though your situation has changed, God has not and will not change. He is so constant.

2. God keeps his promises

The Bible is full of the promises of God; promises that we can hold onto during times that are tough.

Joshua 1:9 “…the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Psalm 32:8 “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.”

Deuteronomy 31:8 “…The Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

God has promised you that he will be with, that he will always be with you and God always keeps his promises. These are so helpful if you are in a tough time. Even if you cannot find the strength to do a Bible study hold on to these verses; put them up around your room and fill your head with truth. God has promised that he will be with you!

3. God’s love does not depend on us

So often we fall into the trap of thinking that God is annoyed with us or is punishing us for something. God doesn’t function like that. We find it difficult to understand God’s love because it is in complete contrast to ours. Our love is rarely selfless and constant; we are selfish and stubborn, even with the people we love the most.

God is not like this. His love for us does not depend on our attitudes or actions. God loves you despite you. God cares about every detail of your life and it breaks his heart that you are hurting and feel alone.

And God ultimately proved his love for each of us as he sent his son to die so that we may go free.

“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5:8)

We do not follow a God who monitors our performance, but a God who loves us despite our performance.

Hopefully these three points have in some way encouraged you and reminded you that God is still with you even if you cannot ‘feel’ it. Our faith is not reliant on feelings but on all-powerful, all loving and unchanging God.

He is still there. He will always be there.

Screen shot 2013-12-06 at 23.21.51Jenny

Jenny ~ Twitter-Bird@jennydickson1

Having grown up in Ballymena, Jenny has just graduated after spending 3 years studying History and Theology at Grey College, Durham University. A keen hockey and tennis player, she is now studying in Cambridge for a PGCE.

The Light Shines

Identity Pt 2 Devotionals

Over the past few days, the passage below has gone from one that I didn’t understand and usually skipped over, to one of my favourites in the Bible!

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
John 1:1-5 (NIV)

“The Word” is what John uses to describe Jesus. If we start by replacing all the “Word”s with “Jesus”, the passage makes a bit more sense:

“In the beginning was Jesus, and Jesus was with God, and Jesus was God.
Jesus was with God in the beginning.”

Here John is making it clear that Jesus and God are one and the same – they can’t be separated. But not only that, God wasn’t created; he was there right at the start of time “in the beginning.” Then it says: “Through him all things were made, without him nothing was made that has been made.”

God created not only the world, but the entire Universe. He created “all things”. This includes today as well as the past, so everything that exists has been created by God. So we, each and every one of us, have been created by God too.

“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.”

In Jesus there is life. However, this life isn’t just ticking the boxes of MRS GREN (shout out for everybody who remembers MRS GREN). This life that is in Jesus is more than physical life; it is a light, a hope, a love, a promise, to and for all of humanity. It’s so much more than just respiring and moving, than having cells that function.

The life that is in Jesus is a fullness of life, a great and deep life that can’t be completely put into words. And that life is for all of us, “all mankind”, every human being, if we want it.

And what’s even greater than a life that’s already so much more than MRS GREN? That it doesn’t stop, it doesn’t die, and it doesn’t end.

“The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.”
(Verse 5)

The Good News Bible translates it as: “the darkness has never put it out.” This light is not like a candle that can be blown out and stops shining, or a light bulb that can be turned on or off. This light never fades, it never dies, and it never goes out. It is always shining.

And this light, this hope, this love “shines in the darkness”, it keeps going when times are tough. Darkness is just an absence of light, and where God’s light shines, the darkness has no chance. Remember that this light that we’re talking about is the life that comes from Jesus. And so this life, this wonderful, deep, fulfilling life doesn’t end. It does not die. This life that God gives us lasts forever and in him we live for eternity.

The life and light of God isn’t trapped in our physicality, so it doesn’t decay or become frail or disabled like we do – but lives on forever, as strong, as good and as amazing as ever.

I want to encourage you to turn to Jesus and ask Him to fill your life with His light that you might live on earth and for eternity knowing His love and walking in the light.

So even when bad times come the darkness cannot overcome the life that is inside of you, and the life that is Jesus will keep on shining through.

“In Jesus was life and that life was the light of all mankind.
The light shines in the darkness
and the darkness has not overcome it.”




 Amy‘s currently on a Gap Year post A-levels. She loves Jesus, writing letters, singing & dancing; and is excited to see God’s plan for Hardwick!

Faith Played Out: Measuring Success

Faith Played Out

How do you measure success? There are many ways that society measures our worth, and we love to praise those who are deemed successful in the world’s eyes. In sport, a player’s worth is defined by their achievements and abilities.

Because this measure of success is so visible, we can so easily buy into this idea that our worth as a sportsperson is solely based on statistics, rank or achievements. It is so easy to compare ourselves to others, particularly within the realm of sports, as well as off the pitch and to let our insecurities, jealousy or pride take over our thoughts.

Our view of ourselves may flicker fleetingly between two extremes dependent on what others think of us. And yet, as Christians, this view should be unchanging, unwavering and completely rooted in God’s view of us.

We love what we value, and we value what we love. As Mark (6:21) and Luke (12:34) both write: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be so.” By letting the world’s measure of worth influence us, we are also allowing our hearts to treasure these values too, even above God.

However, the glory of worldly success is only temporary and will not last. It does not bring us everlasting joy, nor will it fulfil our deepest needs. In 1 John 2:16 Paul warns us not to love the world: “For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

He recognises that the things we value in this world will all pass away in this life; beauty is fleeting and wealth cannot overcome the grave. But what will pervade is our relationship with Jesus, and we should value this above anything else.

By spending time in the Word, we can see how there is no need for comparison because our worth and identity is now rooted eternally in Christ:

1. God made us, fearfully and wonderfully.

He didn’t make a mistake when he created us; we were made perfect for the purpose that he had set out for us! “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139: 14)

2. We are God’s children, holy and blameless because of Jesus’ ultimate act of love on the cross.

“…even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.” (Ephesians 1:4-5)

3. We are co-heirs with Christ and seated at the right hand of the Father with him.

“Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” (Romans 8: 17)


So, being confident in this knowledge, we are to rest in our identity in Christ. God defines our value and has seated us along with Jesus at the right-hand of God’s throne. He loved us so much he gave up his only Son, so that we may be reconciled to him and adopted as his children.

This frees us up to perform our best knowing that our value doesn’t change according to whether we win or lose… God doesn’t think less of us if we lose and doesn’t think more of us when we win. What he does care about is our attitude, which should be one that seeks to honour him in everything we do, whether in sport or in life.

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
(Colossians 3:17 )




Hi I’m Dawn.  I’m studying Global Politics in the beautiful city of Durham after three amazing years there for my undergrad. I love sharing meals with friends, playing any and every sport, and exploring the world… but most of all I love Jesus and I am learning to live my life for him everyday.

Social Media: Generation Me

Social Media

In this last post, we’re looking at what it means to be salt and light in a hyper-connected generation. How can we manage our social media in a way that glorifies God?

1. Generation Me?

We know that social media provides us with great opportunities for creativity and enjoyment – and so the answer is not necessarily to remove ourselves from it. The answer is to keep putting God first, even when we are tempted to place ourselves at the centre of our worlds.

We’ve previously mentioned a book written by Robin Ham called Filtered Grace. If you want an extended exploration of how we can use social media as Christians, it’s a great and easy read! Robin says this:

“Christianity offers a radically different approach to how we define ourselves. It reveals that the story of the world, the story of the Universe, doesn’t have us on centre stage.

Rather that part belongs to God.

That might feel like a slap in the face to someone breathing in the air of Generation Me, but we should let the reality of that be a relief to us. When God is at the centre of everything, then we’re not left to define ourselves by ourselves.”

Robin Ham, Filtered Grace

As daughters of God, we don’t have to forge an identity on our own. Rather than pushing our way through the crowds of Generation Me, we can join the generations before us who have worshipped God, our Creator – just as we were designed to.

Knowing our identity is solid in Christ frees us up to live joyfully in the world, but not of it. This allows us to use social media as citizens of Heaven – celebrating the good in this world and loving God’s people, but knowing that our online interactions do not define us.

2. Generation Tech Neck?

I want to leave you with a talk by Ken Costa from the HTB Leadership Conference 2015. It’s about living with purpose and changing the character of our generation, and I have listened to it so many times that I almost know it word for word…

Towards the end of the video, Ken talks about ‘Generation Tech Neck’: apparently, we are now so often looking down at our phones that ‘Tech Neck’ has actually become a medical condition! He contrasts Generation Tech Neck with the vision in Psalm 24:9: ‘Lift up your heads’. It seems a bit trivial – what does it matter to God if we’re looking down or up?

Of course the actual position of our heads doesn’t matter to God, but this little phrase has been a huge help to me over the past few months. Literally lifting up my head has minimised the amount of time I’ve spent looking down at my phone. (It also reduces my chances of a surprise appearance in the photography exhibition we looked at last week…) Thinking about raising up my prayers to heaven has helped me to keep my eyes on my God, as I try to follow His guidance day by day.

Rather than joining in with Generation Me, or (even less appealing) Generation Tech Neck, we have a higher purpose! Excitingly, we have opportunities offline and online to point our friends to God rather than ourselves. Let’s pray that in a generation that is warped and crooked, we would shine (Philippians 2:15).

And let’s keep our heads lifted high!

Watch now: How To Live Each Day With Purpose
(Ken Costa)


photo13 Lucy

Lucy Twitter-Bird@lucybeauchamp

Lucy founded More Precious in 2013 and has the absolute joy of overseeing it on a regular basis. She is spending a year working doing Marketing for a Cambridge company, and is getting married in June next year!

Faith Worked Out: Carita, LIV Village

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A few weeks ago we posted an interview with Joan Smith, about the amazing work she and her husband are doing in LIV Village, South Africa. This is part two of our series on LIV Village, this time an equally inspiring story from Carita, who works in Marketing for the LIV team. I am continually inspired by this organisation! 

Tell us about your background…

I grew up very much in the white Afrikaans community of South Africa, but when I was 8, my family moved to a smaller town where I really interacted with mixed races. Mum started taking me to feed the local community, and looking back today, I know that planted a real seed in my life.

When I was 18 I had an amazing encounter with God, surrendered my life to the Lord, and joined a fantastic church in Cape Town. One day, I had a bag of chocolates left over from a fundraiser we did, and I gave them to the children’s pastor at my church to take them to the kids at the township she worked at. She looked at me and said: ‘I think you should come with me’.

On the first day, driving into the biggest township in Capetown with more than a million people squatting, God absolutely broke me and showed me where I should invest my life. Weekly visits turned to daily visits – sometimes even on my own. After three years working in the community, my pastor offered me a job running all community projects.

I worked doing this for 4 years, and through this I met Tich and Joan Smith. We visited LIV when they just bought the land, toured Durban with an orphan choir to raise funds and awareness and attended their banquet to launch the vision of LIV. But I never thought I would work for LIV one day, because I loved my church and Cape Town.

In September 2011, two girls (9 months old twins) were left at one of the pre-schools I worked at in the community. With no doubt, my roommates and I took them in and I signed up as their foster mom.

In November 2011, God woke me up in the early morning hours and I could clearly hear him say that my time in Cape Town had come to an end. I met with my pastor and resigned, not knowing what lay ahead. They were all so supportive, and stood in prayer with me for the next journey.

What happened next?

After weeks of doubt, I said: God, what now? I have been so faithful, and now I don’t know where you are taking me. After waiting on God and prayer, Tich phoned to offer me a job with LIV!

My life is truly a testimony that God works everything out for good. He knows the rest of the journey, and looking back– I couldn’t have even imagined where I am now. Plus, the two girls are now adopted by my housemate in CapeTown who is an incredible mom to them!

At the beginning of 2012, I joined Tich and Joan, when there were only 20 children and 4 mums. I joined as part of the Marketing team – assisting with social media, videos, photos and marketing strategies. Today, I am part of the Marketing team still, but I also head up volunteers, work closely with the women in the factory to design the crafts and other products, organize LIV choir bookings and tours, starting a gap year program with my husband for LIV and most importantly, I do life with the LIV Moms, Children and people in the community.

I even met my husband at LIV! He came over as a volunteer from England, and we got married in the village by Tich with all the moms and children there.  It’s really amazing – God works everything out for good for those who love him! My husband and I live on site and we could not imagine our lives anywhere else.

How do you hear God speaking to you?

This is always a hard one to explain but I believe it starts with your prayer life, spending time with Jesus and in the Word, to know how He speaks and to learn His voice.

For instance, I know my husband’s voice. As our relationship has deepened, I can recognise his voice more and more clearly – even in a crowded room. His voice is different to any other voice. This is how I feel about listening to God: the more I have grown in Him, the more clearly I hear His voice. Sometimes other voices scramble for my attention and confuse me, but I go back to the Word and I ask Him to speak.

Regarding decisions in the past – I have never heard God speak in an audible voice, but every choice I made, I either felt it in my spirit which I knew God was speaking to me. But also in His Word – a light to my path it has been so many times!

What has God been speaking to you about over this last year?

There is a really interesting scripture in Acts 19 about Paul, and how God did the most insane things through Paul’s hands. Let me explain why I am sharing this scripture…

When I joined LIV, Tich asked me what I wanted to do, and I said I wasn’t here for a title or position – I just wanted to serve. I had absolutely no training in Marketing or video work, but Tich bought me a camera and computer to make videos for LIV, and it has been an absolute testament that God has used my hands for His glory. Today, I look in awe what God has done! God has used these same hands for His glory!

Last year, I thought of making handbags from donated fabrics, and they sold really well. Handbags grew to a number of crafts, and today we raise many funds for LIV through the craft department!

I have never done crafts – I don’t even know how to sew (!!) – but He has used my hands for His kingdom in amazing and wonderful ways! With these products we can share God’s kingdom in a number of places. Opportunities are opening up; for example, a national chain store wants to stock our products from September! Even this morning I reflected again and was just overwhelmed with what God does with our lives when we place them in His hands.

The reason I am sharing this, is that God can use anyone to do anything, He is just looking for a humble person to trust him with their life. To serve His Kingdom and surrender their life for the church. God has been speaking to me about how small I am, and how big He is – and how right that is. I stand in awe, and I take no credit. And to anyone reading this, never doubt the potential that is in your hands!

How was your faith as you were growing up?

As a family we went to church, but were not very religious. We went through a hard time in our family but through this, my Mum found Jesus. For 7 years she prayed for us as a family, but we still carried on with normal life. However, we saw a miracle 7 years on – my brother got saved at university, and invited me to come to church. A week after, I was saved – and the week after that, my Dad committed His Life to the Lord.

Through her faithful prayers over 7 years, our whole family turned our eyes to God. Today, all 4 of us serve God wholly and fully – we all absolutely commit our lives to His Kingdom.

Another thing – my name Carita means ‘charity’. Little did my parents know, but by naming me Carita, they were speaking my calling over me. I want to encourage everyone that God knows you in your mother’s womb, and from day one He has a plan for you.

How do you find the courage to step out of your comfort zone?

Well… I always go in blind! Haha! I just do, and don’t think too much about it. If I know God has spoken, why should I doubt? I think that sometimes we just have to let the flesh die in order for God to take over.

I also think we have to allow God to remove anything holding us back. So, be open – if you don’t make time for God then you will never be able to step out for Him.

And for me, moments will come when the Holy Spirit prompts me to do things that feel uncomfortable or unnatural to me – but God those are the times God uses me the most. Will I trust Him when He speaks?

It will never be easy – it is still a challenge for me. But we have to go in blind, to try not only to see what man sees, but to see what God sees. We should not miss a moment we could be His hands and feet!

And finally, how can we support and pray for you in your very important ministry at LIV village?

I often pray the same prayer as Solomon for us as staff: for wisdom and knowledge. It’s so easy to walk in your own strength, but we need to walk in His. And we always encourage people to pray for our Moms and kids – We want them to walk in the fullness that God has in store for them!

What amazing faith and energy Carita has – a real inspiration and a picture of somebody serving God wholeheartedly. Thank you Carita!

Social Media: Our First & Our Best?

Social Media

Proverbs 3:9 tell us to honour God with everything we have; to give Him the first and the best.

But I know far too often my first is a sleepy flick through Facebook, rather than spending those precious first minutes of the day with my Father. I know I usually give the best of my efforts to making myself look good, rather than giving God pride of place in my life.

So how do we give God our first and our best? The Bible is full of pointers…

1. Think it through

Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.
(Ephesians 5:17)

Quite simply: let’s start thinking. Let’s start thinking deliberately and intentionally about the people we speak to, the way we spend our money, the things we do online, the way we conduct our lives. Why not make some time this week to sit down, pray, and think carefully and honestly about whether our current social media habits are pleasing to God?

2. Don’t waste time

Make the best use of your time.
(Ephesians 5:16)

I don’t even want to think about how many hours I’ve wasted on social media this year alone. We have a God who promises to give us life to the full – and He wants us to use our time in the best way possible, to honour Him in everything we do. God has an ordained plan and purpose for each of us (Proverbs 16:3-4), and it most definitely involves loving His people fully and wholeheartedly. I want to live this way! I don’t want social media to drain my life of its God-given direction.

In Filtered Grace by Robin Ham, he refers to a photography exhibition called The Death of Conversation. Do any of the situations feel familiar? I’m definitely guilty. How much does social media cut into our time with God and His people?

Death of Conversation

3. Give 100%

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind.
(Matthew 22:37)

Don’t be daunted by this verse! Remember, it’s God’s power that will change us from the inside-out, not our own efforts. But we can start by building good habits: setting phone alarms which remind you to read the Bible first and last thing. Changing your phone/tablet/laptop background (rumour has it there are some MP ones on the way…!).

The more you spend time with somebody, the better you get to know them; so run with anything that motivates you to spend more time with God – no matter how small or inconsequential it might seem!

I think my problem is actually not that I value social media too much, but I love God too little. My heart is usually distracted, rather than captivated. But I know God is patient, and will change me. I so badly want to become so totally sold-out for God that I can’t help but use social media to share His love with my networks and circles. Pointing to Him, instead of me.

The more we give of ourselves to God, the deeper our relationship with Him will be. We will begin to SHINE for Him, and our joy will become greater.

You were made for so much more than to spend hours wishing you were as wealthy, healthy or happy as the girls on Instagram. We were made to share the goodness of God, to love others with the overflow of His amazing love, and to be daughters living joyfully and 100% for our Heavenly Father.

Let’s start giving God the worship and attention
He is so worthy of: our first and our best.


photo13 Lucy

Lucy Twitter-Bird@lucybeauchamp

Lucy founded More Precious in 2013 and has the absolute joy of overseeing it on a regular basis. She is spending a year working doing Marketing for a Cambridge company, and is getting married in June next year!

True Identity: Living It Out

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From knowing your true identity to living it out.

Now, we know the truth of our identity in Christ. We’ve got a glimpse of God’s unconditional, eternal and perfect love for us. We’ve talked about the hope and confidence that this can give us. There’s more… The point in knowing our identity is not just to feel better about ourselves. We are called to respond to God’s love with a life of worship and service. Jesus tells us to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.”

I want to suggest 3 ways to do this in response to knowing your identity as a beloved daughter of God.

1. Remember and remind.

When you’re going about your normal life it’s sometimes hard to remember God’s amazing love. So remind yourself regularly – read your Bible, put encouraging notes around your room and in your diary, listen to worship music. It will inevitably lead to awe of God’s greatness and love, and refill you with His Spirit.


2. Tell Your Friends

All this truth about God and your identity is so amazing, so who wouldn’t want to know it and be transformed by it? Tell your friends this wonderful news. Don’t worry about what they might think of you, you are sharing out of love and offering them something pretty amazing. And share practically too. Give generously and serve others. Doing good does you good.


3. Prayer Changes Things

This is most important of all. God wants to hear all your thoughts, all your fears, all your joys, all your struggles, and all your requests. Prayer changes things. He will listen to whatever you have to say to Him, and He wants to speak to you too about His love for you and His will. Dare to listen.


I want to encourage you girls. You are God’s masterpiece, created with unique gifts and characteristics that God delights in, to live under the affection of a perfect Father, and to live a life of worship in accordance with God’s will. By God’s Spirit within you, you can do all things. But none of us are perfect. You will make mistakes as we all do, and when you do don’t despair and condemn yourself, just return to a place of looking to God’s unconditional love for you.

I’ll leave you with these words from Ephesians 3:17-19. This is my prayer for you:

“I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”


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Emma studied Modern Languages at Durham University, and now works for King’s Church Durham. She has loved the chance to encourage girls through these posts for More Precious!

Faith Played Out: Competition

I heard about Izzy long before I met her, as word spread about her incredible sporting talents! This is why I’m so excited to share her post about how she combines her faith with her tennis, and commits so highly to both. A post about staying fiercely competitive, but honouring Jesus in everything. Enjoy! L x

Ask anyone who knows me what my favourite things in life are and if they don’t reply with Yorkshire Tea, then tennis will soon follow. I’ve played tennis since I was four years old and tennis has very much been my identity throughout my life so far. My most common phrase in school was definitely ‘sorry I can’t, I have tennis’.

I became a Christian late in my school life. Friday nights became Christian Forum quiet time and weekends were spent doing my best to beat the person on the opposite side of the net. My bedroom, once filled with quotes of ‘sweat + sacrifice = success’ was now being shared with Bible verses such as ‘humility, gentleness, patience, love. Ephesians 4:2’. The faith part of my life was abounding with grace and forgiveness – whilst on the tennis court I had been taught to be ruthless and a fighter.

For most match days my Christian identity was left in the car park: me, the fiery athlete, with the odd John McEnroe tantrum, was struggling to bring any kind of peace to the tennis court.

What I have learnt about being a Christian sportswoman is that sport is an awesome arena to share your faith and create bonds with teammates in order for them to explore Christianity. As captain of my university team and next year’s club President I have the chance to reach so many students and share the good news of Jesus. This brings with it accountability, which is great to help me overcome my challenges of acting like a child of God, both on and off the sports field.

I’m so excited by the presence of God in the tennis club so far. Church followed by Sunday brunch was indeed a team bonding event last year and seeing my teammates’ faith journey begin is a special experience. So if you as a sportswoman are trying to figure out, like me, how best to be a Christian athlete then start with talking to your teammates about Jesus. It can be a daunting prospect but there is no mutual respect quite like that of teammates, so go for it.  It really is amazing how God’s word can spread amongst a team. The odd worship song recommendation never goes a miss!

Through playing tennis I have been lucky to have been given so many opportunities. Sport scholarships to schools and universities, travel to different countries to play internationally, and some of my strongest friendships. As my faith has grown I have learnt to give all the glory to God and to be so thankful for the talent He has given me. It’s okay to be super-competitive and to want to win, as long as you are praising Him who has given you these opportunities.

I can’t say that since becoming a Christian I am no longer that fiery athlete and I can’t say I don’t still have the odd angry moment on the court – I’m working on it! I can now say, however, that my identity is not in whether I have won or lost. Jesus will love me whether I am a champion or a loser. Yes, I still cry in the locker rooms after a tough loss, but that’s because I’m passionate about my sport and I’m passionate about using the incredible gift of talent that God has given me.

Now I see my faith and sport as so compatible – a training run with a Hillsong playlist or a Bible verse in my tennis bag to read at changeovers. To me one of my greatest gifts from God is my tennis talent, and I hope that for the rest of my tennis playing days I can be a shining light of Jesus’ love.

Play sport, enjoy God’s gift of sporting talent, and keep the faith.





I’m Izzy, a final year student at Durham University studying Natural Sciences with Joint Honours in Biology and Sport. I’m usually found on the tennis court or sat in lectures in DULTC stash

Social Media: The Filtered Life

Barely a day goes past where I don’t check social media. I love it – it entertains me, it relaxes me, it keeps me up to date with news… But so often, I’m using it for the wrong reasons.

Sometimes I share because I want to feel popular, or I want people to think my life is something to be jealous of. I flick through Instagram because I’m bored or tired. I’ve decided that I want to make sure my use of social media points to God, and not to myself.

Lots and lots of our readers have fun, inspiring, and artistic social media accounts – and I love seeing them! I hope these next three little posts are simply helpful ways to think about how we can use the tools we have to glorify God.

Social Media

1. “Don’t compare your behind-the-scenes to
somebody else’s highlights reel.”

Ironically, I found this quote on Pinterest – but it’s a good reminder. How often do we sit bored and alone in our rooms, flicking through other people’s sparkling nights out, beautiful holidays, perfect outfits and glamorous friends – and feel worse and worse about ourselves?

It’s fun to see what’s happening across the world, and keep up with our friends. But the Bible reminds us often about how much God values our contentment in Him alone (1 Timothy 6:6). So, let’s be praying that social media would not make us jealous or insecure. Let’s continue being thankful and counting our many blessings.

One practical thing you could do is to work out if there are certain social media accounts that make you feel especially discontent – whether these are fitness accounts, or rich and beautiful individuals. It could be helpful for your heart and mind to simply make the choice to unfollow these, and to try and be girls who strive to be content in every season, with whatever God has given us.

For what good is it to gain the whole world, but lose your soul? (Mark 8:36)


2. Think about your own highlights reel…

Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who
boasts of a gift he does not give.

Proverbs 25:14

I think this verse from Proverbs is a big warning for our always-online society. I know I do it all the time – try to portray myself as far better than I actually am. What the Proverbs calls ‘boasting of a gift we do not give’ might translate today as the crafting of a slightly-too-perfect Instagram photo or Snapchat story. It might be a slight bending of the truth so that we can make our lives look as good as possible.

I think we should be careful of presenting our own lives in a way that is too fake and carefully constructed. James 4:6-10 (MSG) speaks pretty clearly about this:

“If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way. And do you suppose God doesn’t care?
The proverb has it that ‘he’s a fiercely jealous lover.’
And what he gives in love is far better than anything else you’ll find.”

It’s strong language, but don’t let it scare you off. This is actually the best news you could hear! God is jealous of you. He loves you deeply and cares for you.

He is fiercely protective because we are His, and He is ours. What He gives in return is far better than anything else – so we no longer need to present the perfectly filtered life.

There is MORE!

Father God,

Please fill us with contentment as we remember who we are as your daughters. Please help us to use social media to glorify and honour You. Give us strength to decide what is wise to share, and to fill our minds with. Take away our jealousy and insecurities, and help us to find our worth in Your perfect love.



photo13 Lucy

Lucy Twitter-Bird@lucybeauchamp

Lucy founded More Precious in 2013 and has the absolute joy of overseeing it on a regular basis. She is spending a year working doing Marketing for a Cambridge company, and is getting married in June next year!

Identity: Child of God

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Being a child of God: it’s all about love and grace.

In my last blog, I talked about how our identity is firmly rooted in being beloved daughters of God. God longs to love us, that’s why He made us. When we doubt God’s love for us, all we have to do is look to the cross as evidence of the strength and power of this perfect love. What amazing hope we have in the truth of these words from Romans 8:38-39:

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

But you may be asking yourself: What difference does this unconditional love make?

  1. If God does not condemn us, we have no need to condemn ourselves. Since nothing can separate us from the love of God, nothing you do is beyond God’s forgiveness. It can be hard not to beat ourselves up when we recognise something we’ve done wrong, but what a relief it is to know that we don’t need to, for God’s love remains with us in the fullest.
  2. God can’t love us any more than He does now, so we don’t need to place so much pressure on ourselves to achieve. It is God’s grace that sets us free, and grace is an amazing FREE gift! He lavishes His love upon us even though we have done nothing to deserve it, and every time we slip into the mind-set that we could earn a little more by doing good, we are failing to fully appreciate the wonder of His grace. Let’s have an attitude of gratitude for the wonders of God, not a yearning for earning His love.
  3. This emphasis on God rather than ourselves reminds us that He transforms us; we can’t become who God created us to be by trying really hard. I find this so comforting because the pressure is off me. We just need to look to the Holy Spirit. And as Christians with our identity in being beloved daughters of God, the Holy Spirit dwells within us, incredibly allowing us to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2). That is how you can know what God’s will is and become who He wants you to be.

The Holy Spirit will give us a glimpse at ourselves through God’s eyes, and God’s perspective is the good perspective. It’s the way to knowing God better, to knowing who you truly are better, to understanding more of the love of God, and to living life by his will. Listen – He has some wonderful things to say about you!

And how do we respond to this?
With devotion to our loving Father and a worshipful life.

I’ll talk more in my next blog about what that might look like.


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Emma studied Modern Languages at Durham University, and now works for King’s Church Durham. She has loved the chance to encourage girls through these posts for More Precious!

The Identity Search

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When I look back at my school years, I remember how difficult they were. A slightly chubby tomboy, full of insecurity and desperation to impress, I just never felt like I would fit in with the pretty, skinny ‘popular’ girls. So I figured if I just wear a bit more make-up, lose a bit more weight and create a sassy persona to display to the world, then I’d be good enough for others to love me, and then maybe I could love myself.

It was my vain attempt to gain approval. And I wasn’t the only one to fall into the trap; we all seem to do it in one way or another.

Whether it’s our beauty, popularity, weight, intelligence, success or something else, we tend to place our identity and self-worth in all the wrong places. I came to realise pretty quickly that no matter how much affirmation I get from other people, it never lasts very long and it never satisfies. But who am I if I’m not the pretty, clever, popular girl? Why do I matter if I don’t have a trademark identity in the eyes of other people and over 500 Facebook friends?

Ephesians 2 v 10 tells us that  “we are God’s masterpiece”

A masterpiece is defined as a work of outstanding artistry, skill or workmanship. That amazes me: that I am a work of outstanding artistry! The Greek word used for masterpiece here is poema; the same as the root for the word poem. I think of how intricately each word is put together in a poem, how beautifully the verses flow and what impact they can have. And that is us.

You are a living, walking, unique work of God’s art, not because you create your own beauty or because people like you or because you earn God’s blessing.

No, simply because you are a daughter of God.
This is the truth and nothing can change that.

It is so easy to feel like the opinions of others and the way we present ourselves to the world really matter. We all want to feel loved by others; that can seem so much more real and present than the love of God. But God’s unrelenting love for you was the reason he created you, and it is the reason that your identity will always be found in Christ The extent to which you feel loved does not affect the extent to which you are loved, rather you will always be first and foremost a beautiful beloved daughter of God.

He will take great delight in you, and rejoice over you with singing
Zephaniah 3:17


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Emma studied Modern Languages at Durham University, and now works for King’s Church Durham. She has loved the chance to encourage girls through these posts for More Precious!

Found By Grace: Becca Clarke

I am really delighted to be able to share this post from Becca: it’s a testimony that has encouraged and inspired so many people already, and completely shows dependence on God’s faithfulness even in the most difficult of times. I am confident you will be encouraged by Becca sharing with us today. L x


We can never see what is coming our way in life but all we can do is hope and pray. However, sometimes it is not so good. Earlier this year I was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma, a type of cancer, and had to go through chemotherapy to get rid of it. I am very lucky to be out the other side and stronger for it.

It is hard when something like cancer comes into your life, in whatever form, to turn to God first – but that is precisely what we should do. God knows everything we are going through and will go through, and His love and comfort is what will get us through the tough times.

God even sent his son Jesus Christ to take the ultimate punishment and suffering that we all deserve. Jesus died on the cross for our sins which means that we don’t have to take God’s punishment. We can live with God in Heaven forever if we trust in Jesus. But this shows that God knows and has been through suffering himself, He knows your pain and is hurting with you.

The day after I got my diagnoses I went to a prayer and praise evening with the college CU and that was it was another reminder that all I needed to do was to look up at God and feel His almighty power. Singing to God felt so good, to let it out to someone who knows best, God.

I don’t think I can describe the way chemo made me feel and I didn’t really remember how bad it felt until the next chemo. I managed to go to school the day after chemo and I think that really helped me as it was something to distract my mind. I would have been a lot worse if I neglected my studies as I needed something to use my time and there was no reason to not go in to school.

It was on my 4th chemo when it was the worst, the sickness which I had thankfully not felt before kicked in and it is something I have never felt before and hope not to feel again. Thankfully, I managed to scrape myself to school the next day and distract myself from the worst.

After the 2nd cycle and 4th chemo, I had another PET scan and I was very lucky that there was no sign of cancer in my body! Thank you God! I was glad that the chemo was doing something. I then had a choice between radiotherapy or chemotherapy, and no human knows which is best. God did know what was right for me thankfully and all I had to do was listen to him and not think the selfish thoughts I was thinking. I had got it in my head that I didn’t want to do chemo as it was so horrid and I told my doctor this, however the long term risks of radio made me take a step back. Over the next weekend God worked in my heart and mind to make me see that chemo at this stage was the better option for me.

Having had a week away from chemo and my treatment, my head cleared and I saw that the pain now is worth the long term less painful future. So I had one more cycle of chemo and the first chemo was fine but the 2nd chemo was the worst day of my life. There is nothing worse that knowing that there is no drug to help with the pain as it is the drugs causing the pain in the first place, all I could do was try not to cry. I was so glad when it was over but it will be a long time before all the effects wear off.

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
Romans 8:18

It was very important to remember Romans 8:18, that the suffering in this world is nothing in comparison to the amazing joy of the heaven and new creation that we will be living in for eternity. This life is so short that it is worth all the suffering for the life with God in heaven for eternity. Why worry about this life’s sufferings when something incomprehensibly amazing is coming our way?

“When you pass through the waters I will be with you and when you pass though the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned, the flame will not set you ablaze.”
Isaiah 43:2

This verse is a great reminder for me that God is always there every step of the way, even when I can’t always see this. God will always bring me through and make sure that no lasting harm will be done to me. The river will not sweep over and drown me because God is walking by my side and the fire won’t set me alight. I am thankful in my treatment that God was there because otherwise I would have struggled a lot more than I did.

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful, he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
1 Corinthians 10:13

I should always remember this verse. God is not looking down on me and being happy about it, God is suffering with me and not wanting it to happen any more than I do. He also only lets me suffer what He think I can endure. So when I can’t see a way to get through, I just need to remember that God has provided a way for me: I just have to look for it.

Remember: It is hard, and no one knows that more than God who sent his Son down to earth to suffer for our sins on the cross.

God is always there for you and always protecting you. He will never put you through anything that you can’t take, so always look for a way with him that you can endure it.





Becca has just started her second year as a sixth former in Cambridge. She studies double Maths, Chemistry and Physics and is hoping to go on to study engineering at university next year. Becca is excited to be part of a small team leading small groups at the college CU this coming year.

Clear The Stage

Anything I put before my God is an idol
Anything I want with all my heart is an idol
Anything I can’t stop thinking of is an idol
Anything that I give all my love is an idol
Clear The Stage, Jimmy Needham

How many things come into your mind when you read those lyrics? Friends, work, grades, family, boyfriend, money, shoes, clothes, makeup, lifestyle choices…

Being honest with ourselves I think we can all now, (or probably very recently), say that God has not been Number One on that list. The first time I heard these words, they hit me. They hit me hard.

With so many things vying for our attention,
how can we keep focused on God?

He’s the one that died for us. Died for me. Died for you. He is worthy. And yet so often, I forget this.

Friendships, relationships, work, that new pair of shoes, they all give us short term satisfaction or success . Whether it be an A* in coursework, or a new relationship and all those fuzzy feelings and butterflies they give you.

Yet we are told “you shall have no other gods before me” (Deuteronomy 5:7) and to “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways submit to Him” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

We have this awesome God, creator of all, Lord of Lord and yet we still try to take control of any aspect of life we can and battle through with our own grit and determination.

How different would things look for you if you consciously
put God back at the centre?

– At the centre of your relationship with your friends or your boyfriend; putting God at the centre not on the periphery?

– At the centre of your work or academic studies: working as if for the Lord not for human masters. (Colossians 3:23)

– At the centre of your views on body image: understanding and appreciating that God sees you as unique, wonderfully made and worth dying for. (Psalm 139:14).

Life around us can so easily distract us from our calling: To love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul and all your mind. (Matthew 22:37).

Why not use this morning to take the time to reflect and come back to God.
For His arms of grace are wide open, whatever your idol has become.



Lauren spent three years studying in the beautiful city of Cambridge and graduated four years ago. She now lives and works in Worcester, and loves going to church back in Walsall where she grew up. Lauren discovered More Precious through some friends at uni, and is excited about how God is using it to encourage girls to live for Jesus. Lauren can sleep for England!

What To Expect: When Applying To University

If you’re in your final year of school or college, you may have Friday 15th January 2016 burned into your brain. Yes, the dreaded UCAS deadline. No doubt you’ll be being bombarded with ‘top tips on writing a personal statement’ and ‘how to choose a university’ guides every hour of the day – but one thing you may be surprised to learn is that we can worship and honour God even in our UCAS applications.

Read on to discover how a few of our seasoned uni-goers kept their eyes on Jesus when applying to university and how being Christ-minded can keep application-stress low and help you focus on God’s plan for your life.


Applying to university

Flo says…

This was the first time I’d taken my future into my hands so it was a brilliant opportunity to learn to trust God, and to remember that He had already carved my future out. One small thing I did to keep my focus on God’s plan was to use a Bible verse as my UCAS password. Every time I logged on I was reassured of God’s hand on my future.

I also mentally named my personal statement my ‘God Statement’! My logic behind this was that God knows me better than I know myself, so I wanted Him to direct it! Practically, this meant praying every time I worked on my statement that God would give me the words to write and to remember the things I was truly interested in. This helped me be as authentic as possible.

Having this mind-set helped me have more peace when choosing my course and university – a big deal when I usually find choosing a meal deal pretty difficult!

Reassurance in God’s plan for you is also such a great gift for equipping you as a steadfast friend. I had to learn to genuinely celebrate my friends’ successes without comparison. This time showed me you can step into the unknown knowing God is holding your hand.

Katrina says…

Choosing my degree subject was pretty straightforward. God gave me a passion for sport and I figured if I pursued a degree I loved I’d be more likely to get a job I loved. Choosing a university was a little more difficult. I don’t think I prayed about it half as much as I should have but was content in knowing that God had a plan.

Romans 8:28 was a verse that I kept close to me during my application process:

‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose.’

The bottom line for me was that I couldn’t really make a wrong decision in God’s eyes. No matter what decisions I made on which university to go to or which subject to apply for or which college to live in, I felt assured that God would use that for good and for his glory. I’ve been called according to His purpose so as long as I am seeking and loving Jesus wholeheartedly, I am fulfilling my purpose as a child of God. The rest will fall into place.

‘And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the
Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.’
Colossians 3:17

Emma says…

Applying to university was something that really excited me. I had been looking forward to going to uni for as long as I could remember, most likely because I thought it would be like Legally Blonde in real life (really, this was why I chose to study law…).

Applying to university is a time of mixed emotions: big decisions, uncertainty, hard work, change, excitement. For me, there’s one verse that really sticks in my mind when I’m thinking about the future or uncertainty that lies ahead:

‘”For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,
“Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”’
Jeremiah 29:11

No matter what, we can trust in a God who knows the plans He has for us, and plans to give us a hope and a future. When trying to decide what to do, or which path we should follow this verse is an incredible encouragement that the God of the entire universe cares about our future and gives us the greatest hope. So we can step out in faith and leave our anxieties in his hands.

We can pursue the path that He has for us, because God goes ahead of us, He knows what we’ll face and He is bigger than any situation we’ll ever face.

Lucy says…

Having done the hundredth draft of my personal statement, I submitted my UCAS application at the earliest possible date, absolutely determined to get into the best university possible. Obsessed with perfect grades and those golden offers, I was kept awake most nights worrying about being ‘clever enough’ and fearing rejection.

My priorities were all wrong! I hadn’t truly surrendered the application process to God. Like everything else in life, God is completely in control of our applying to university. It’s a great thing to aim high and be ambitious, as long as we remember that “although we make our plans, God will determine our steps.” (Proverbs 16:9).

If I could go back to my 17 year old self now, I would try to trust fully in the promise of Psalm 138:8: “the Lord will fulfil His purpose for me.” God didn’t fail me in providing me an amazing university experience (though totally not in the way I hoped or expected!) – and He hasn’t failed me yet. Trust in Him all the way! He will fulfill His purpose for you.

Anna says…

‘Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.’
Romans 12:12

Upon being given the dreaded UCAS folder, hundreds of questions flooded my mind: where should I apply? What if my grades weren’t high enough? How was I going to find time to apply to university with everything else going on? Romans 12:12 is a great reminder of how to be distinctive as a Christian in whatever situation we are in and provides a great way to approach the UCAS process.

‘Be joyful in hope…’: Applying to university is an exciting time and it is great to have hopes and ambitions of where and what you might study.

‘…patient in affliction…’: God’s plans are so much better than ours and so we must be patient in ‘affliction’ – even when perhaps we don’t get the predicted grades we wanted or we get rejected from our first choice university. But remember that God already knows all about your situation and that ‘…in all things God works for the good of those who love him.’ (Romans 8:28)

‘…faithful in prayer.’: As you begin to pick universities, pray that the choices you make about what to study and where to go might honour Jesus and bring Him glory. Pray continuously throughout the processes and challenges that come with applying to university.

Praying for peace and an increased sense of trust in God’s guidance to everyone thinking about universities this term. The Lord goes before you!


Faith Worked Out: Joan Smith, LIV Village

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 This summer, I heard Tich and Joan Smith speak at a conference and was absolutely blown away by the amazing work they are doing in LIV Village, South Africa. There is SO much to say about their incredible journey and inspiring faith, but I will leave you to watch the video below as an introduction to this very special organisation…

Could we hear your story, and how you came to be part of the Liv Village family?

In November 2001, I heard about the orphaned and vulnerable children in a community, called Amaoti, which is only 25km from where we lived, who were starving. It began to stir my heart, and, with a group of ladies in our church, we started to make peanut butter sandwiches and began feeding a few children under a tree. This grew to hundreds very quickly, and sandwiches once a week became soup every day. Over the next 7 years we had over 600 children on a Back-to-School and After Care programs, supported 32 creches, feeding over 2,000 children every day, developed a Sports Academy, and assisted entrepreneurs to develop their businesses.

In 2007, Tich handed over our business to our younger son to run and he joined me full time in the community. In 2008, God showed us that the time for the village was now.  We handed the day to day running of the projects in Amaoti to the young adults we had raised up from the community, and the building of the village began.

When I look back over this extraordinary journey we have been on, I am amazed at how unqualified we are to be doing this and what a risk God took entrusting us with His village and His children.. I realize that the only qualification we need is to be passionately in love with Jesus and say “YES” to Him. I never doubted that Tich had heard clearly from God, even when he said ‘God said we must buy the land ourselves’. Sometimes we just need to say Yes Lord and do it without thinking it through, as, logically, we could have talked ourselves out of it,  although, when Tich said we needed to do a banquet in the city for 4,000 people and we would raise the money to build the village,  I did question it…!

What are some of the hardest sacrifices you have been called to make? How have you seen God’s provision and faithfulness since then?

When we bought the broken down chicken farm I did say to Tich that he mustn’t ask me to move from my dream house on the beach to live on a farm in the middle of an African community.  2 years later the question came, and although I said to him I would help him pack and visit him on weekends, I knew the question ‘will you go…’ was coming from the Lord. I argued for a while, cried a lot, and then packed my bags and moved. That was one of the hardest things, and I had moments when I asked God if this was really what He had asked of me, but very soon I realized that we had been building the village and now we needed to ‘live it’. We could never expect others to live there if we weren’t prepared to do it. That was in December 2012.

And after this?

Nearly 3 years later, if Tich told me now that we could move back home to the beach, I would say “I’ll help you pack and visit you on weekends”. It is amazing how, when you say, ‘yes Lord’, He always gives you the grace and the ability to do it.  I have come to love the children, mothers and staff on the village as my own. I am mother and granny (Gogo in Zulu) to all of them.  We are doing life together, and although, as with any family, life gets messy, and is sometimes impossibly impossible, I wouldn’t change any of it.

When we bought the land, God showed Tich that He would bring the finances and the expertise. We have stood in amazement at how He has supernaturally supplied our needs in both these areas. We have never had to go and look for staff. Teachers, doctors, nurses, finance staff, social workers and many more have come with stories of God supernaturally ‘arresting’ them and showing them they were to come to LIV.  In fact the only time we tried to find someone, we messed up, so mostly we try to stay out of God’s way as HE builds His team and His village.

We realized that if we do HIS plans then HE will pay for them, but if we do OUR plans we must pay for them. We also realized that God has much more money than us…

What daily habits do you have in place to keep drawing near to God?

Routine is a very rare word in our daily life! We wake up early on the village so I try to spend time at the beginning of the day, focusing on Him, His word, and asking for His wisdom, discernment,  knowledge and understanding to help me make the right decisions: HIS decisions.

Daily I ask for HIS Kingdom to come and HIS will to be done… I have to confess that this is sometimes a quick 10 minute moment, and other times I have spent a couple of hours in His Presence and wonder why I don’t do that every day as it is always so special, and helps me to feel so close to Him and to be confident in who I am in Him and He in me.

During the day, at times I consciously, and often,  ask the Holy Spirit for His guidance and advice on something, but mostly I fully trust that He is leading me. It is a daily walk of faith, believing that He will always guide me and change my direction if I am moving in the wrong direction.  I fail often, and have to repent of my unbelief.

My two favourite scriptures that I go back to often in my mind are:

1. “Show me Your ways, teach me Your paths, lead me in Your truth and teach me…”
Psalm 25

2. “Do not fret; be anxious for nothing… Keep doing good; fretting leads to sin…”
Psalm 37

These words have become flesh for me many times. Since 2003 I have read Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest daily readings and never tire of being challenged and provoked to examine my heart, where I am at with my walk with the Lord, and my motives.

I am usually so tired at the end of the day that our conversation is usually: “thank you for leading me today,  forgive me… Hope I did the right thing today Lord, love you madly.. goodnight and please help me to sleep at least 7 hours…!”

What vision for the future has God placed on your heart?

We have always known it is many villages on God’s heart, throughout South Africa and Africa. We have no idea how He is going to roll this out but we do know He is wanting us to help others, with the same vision and heart, to set up their villages.

Many groups have come to the village to learn and meet with us and our department leaders, and we are putting together a manual to assist them. We pray one day that the LIV businesses we are developing to create jobs and to contribute towards the self-sustainability of the village, will, in the future,  also contribute to the sustainability of many villages.

We have bought the farm next door and are starting the farming project on a large scale. We have built a clothing factory and are developing  LIV Clothing that we hope to export all over the world, starting in the UK… but for now we are very reliant on people supporting LIV and we believe that young people around the world are the ones who will look after the orphaned and vulnerable children of the world.

A final challenge…

God is in the business of multiplication: Imagine if one million young people who have,  gave one pound a month,  or one dollar, for children who have not, they would be able to fully support 10 villages with 1,000 children in each village.

We believe God’s vision is for 10 000 churches to do these villages across Africa, and He will use these children that nobody wanted, to change Africa and beyond… If you continue to multiply you can begin to imagine how God intends doing it: through the young people of the world. Just imagine….

We will hold Tich, Joan and the amazing LIV Village closely in our prayers.
Thank you, Joan, for sharing your journey with us today!

More blogs from Joan here.
Photos of the LIV Village journey here.
More information about how to get involved with LIV here.

What To Expect From Freshers’ Week

This September, many of you will be heading off to university for the first time. Whether you’re moving to a new city or living at home, you’ll be looking forward to new friends, new challenges and new experiences.

Starting university can be both exciting and daunting, so to help you prepare (and maybe ease some of your worries) a few of our ‘uni veterans’ have shared their experiences of Freshers’ Week and how keeping God at the centre helped them navigate their first few days.

Freshers Week

Emma says…

I was incredibly blessed during Freshers’ Week, as although I was initially massively nervous (the butterflies in my stomach were really going for it, and I cried for about two days straight before leaving home!) the week turned out to be full-on and a lot of fun.

There were lots of new people to meet, lots of activities to sign up for, tutorials to attend, welcome parties… and so it went on. I was really blessed to meet some great friends early on, which was amazing, and for me, making some Christian friends was hugely exciting. I had one Christian friend while I was a teenager, so the meeting hundreds of students, all my age, who wanted to live for Jesus was a massive blessing!

It is also true to say that Freshers’ Week can be a little overwhelming. There is so much going on, so many new people, new tutors, often a new city, so remembering the basics really matters – sleep is important, eating properly is a great idea and pacing yourself is key! I failed to remember all of this, and ended up living on an exciting mix of only Maryland cookies (literally…) and no sleep for the first two weeks. This ended up with me fainting in the middle of Sainsbury’s and having to go to bed for 48 hours straight. Not ideal – please learn from my mistakes, and don’t just eat cookies!

And obviously, the most important thing is to keep God at the centre – even during Freshers’ Week. Getting into patterns of going to church, spending time with God and finding people to encourage us to do this, right at the beginning, really helped me. He is with you in the fun moments, and the nerve-wracking moments, so keep praying and keep your focus on Him!


Flo says…

I was unsure how to prepare for Freshers’ Week. Do I start trying to build up alcohol tolerance? Will I need an extension cable? Would it be weird to bring a teddy?! But the best preparation was to with my perspective.

I was always slightly fearful of Freshers’, of what people would think of me and how it would be as a Christian. I mentioned this to a friend and he just couldn’t see the problem – he just told me to pray about it and not to worry but simply to love God! Best advice ever! This totally freed me to be myself, trusting that God knew me totally and would place me where was best for me, even if didn’t seem as I imagined.

My godfather also advised me that uni could be hard at times, which didn’t exactly build my confidence! But looking back, this was great advice because it meant I didn’t have high expectations of meeting a best friend within a week or finding work easy – instead I just had to take things for what they were and enjoy it!

Trusting God like this made it really exciting to wake up every day and meet people and see things like the incredible sunset from my window or discover a great coffee shop, and be able to thank God for it! It’s an incredible adventure and I loved it!


Katie says…

For most of us, we unlock the door to our new bedroom knowing no one… and within a few hours we’ve met a heap of new people from all over! It is amazing! But this week also has the potential to bring out insecurities and feelings of loneliness. So we need to enter this week prepared:

2 Timothy 1:7 says ‘You have not been given a spirit of fear or timidity, but one of power, love, and clear thinking.’

If fears and insecurities start to niggle away at you during Freshers’ Week, know that you have been filled with the Holy Spirit. He is always with us, He lives in us, and He empowers us to do all things! Walk into Freshers’ Week with the boldness and power to be who God made you to be. I found that, during the week, staying in touch with people who really knew me: family or friends, also helped remind me that I was known and loved on a deeper level.


Anna says…

I have to admit I came close to tears every time I thought of Freshers’ Week. The prospect of leaving home and spending a week with people I had never met was overwhelming. But looking back it was so much better than I expected (and definitely not worth all the tears I shed in the weeks running up to it!)

I wish I had remembered that Freshers’ Week is made up of days as well as nights. The days are great opportunities to have chats with your flatmates, go to town and start to settle into halls. And the nights are fun too! I decided to go out every night with my flat (although we did enjoy a night in to watch The Great British Bake Off!). Going out was a great opportunity to be distinctive in having fun without drinking too much or not at all.

Galatians 1:10 says, ‘If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.’ This verse is a great reminder that it’s God we are serving, not our flatmates or friends and so we shouldn’t worry about fitting in.

The morning I left for university my Mum reminded me of 2 Corinthians 12:10: ‘For when I am weak, then I am strong’. My nerves about Freshers’ Week showed me just how much I needed to rely on Jesus – I was weak but He is strong.

Praying for everybody starting university this term.
Be brave, courageous and distinctive
and know that your Father goes with you!

Princess or President?

Why be a princess when you can be a president?

It may only be a slogan on a tee-shirt, but it got me thinking: what is worth having, being, striving for, aspiring to? What should girls and women want in life and be aiming for? Is it simply a choice between being a passive princess or powerful president, or is there another alternative?

The Bible makes it clear that the greatest thing in the world is to know God personally. God is the source of all goodness, all love, all light, all that is right and lovely and wonderful. God is also powerful, holy, righteous and magnificent. We can only know him because Jesus has made it possible by dying for us, so that we can be forgiven of all those damaging things which we have said, thought and done which spoil the beautiful world we live in and make a relationship with God impossible.

Through Jesus’ forgiveness we can know God, be in relationship with him and start to live the life of fullness and freedom that God has intended for us. This makes sense of life, giving us purpose and direction. Nothing compares with this!

Paul says ‘I consider everything a loss because of the
surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord’.
Philippians 3:8

If we accept God’s offer to be in relationship with him, we are adopted into his family (Romans 8:15) and become children of God. We are members of God’s royal household, not as servants, but as children! This is so amazing! Peter describes us as ‘a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession’ (1 Peter 2:9) Nothing beats this wonderful identity that God has given us in Christ.

So if I accept God’s offer to become his child – entirely his free gift to me, nothing I can do myself – it means that as God’s daughter I am a princess in the courts of God. This is my new, true identity, and with this come the most wonderful privileges:

• I can live the adventure of a life of faith in our loving God, hand in hand with him

• I can play my God-written part in the great work of his kingdom

• I can be in relationship with God, led on my daily journey by his Spirit

• I can live in creative freedom, free from the world’s conventions and pressures

• I can look forward to a perfect heaven where the great adventure will continue

Princesses in God’s kingdom here on earth may be called to be doctors, journalists, florists, bankers, mothers, lawyers, musicians, writers, engineers, teachers, artists – or indeed presidents. But let’s all joyfully accept God’s great invitation to be members of his royal family and not miss out on the greatest adventure possible in life: to be a princess in God’s royal family!

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Margaret is the mother of our regular contributor, Emma. She lives in Cambridge and is a member of Christ Church. She teaches English in one of the Cambridge schools.

Surviving Sixth-Form


Having just finished Year 12, now is the time when everything begins to get serious. University is just around the corner and the thought of having to apply is really starting to freak me out! Just a few months ago, I had no clue as to what subject I was going to study and with the deadline coming closer and closer, I was really starting to panic. Everyone seemed to have their life sorted, a specific degree with a dream job to aspire to in the future, but I had no clue. Choosing which AS-level to drop was proving hard enough and choosing a university subject seemed impossible.

However, as Christians we know that our amazing God has a plan for us, and although we do not know what these plans are, God has it all sorted, and so worrying isn’t necessary. We have a great future ahead of us. So, we can be distinctive in the way that we go through sixth-form and all its pressures, because being a Christian means that we can trust in the Lord, knowing that no matter what happens, we are part of His plan.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord.
“Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’

Jeremiah 29: 11

This verse gives us the assurance that God is in control whenever we are doubtful or struggling with what to do with our lives. The key thing to remember when we are making decisions is to ensure that whatever we decide, we should try to honour God’s name and make Him known.

There is more to our life than the world’s focus of being the best and most successful. At my school (and probably at yours), success completely revolves around exams and grades – leading to the idea that you have been ‘successful’ if you get a place at a university which is higher up the league table than others. I know this pressure to be successful in education has impacted my own journey to university, resulting in breakdowns over not being as clever as my friends.

However, as a Christians, our idea of success should be different. Success should be honouring God and the gifts He gives you, and if that doesn’t include academic success then it will be something else. God has chosen every one of us to be a part of His family, and our gifts and talents are there to be used to honour Him and not to be compared.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Philippians 4:13

This verse shows us that whatever we decide to do, God is with us and will help us. Another hugely helpful Bible verse is Romans 12:4, which reminds us that although we are all different and have divergent talents, we are all one in Christ, and are seen equally by our amazing God.

“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function.”
Romans 12:4

If you have time, I would also encourage you to read 1 Corinthians 12, which again reiterates this verse in more detail, giving us encouragement if we feel down about ourselves or lack confidence. Let’s praise the Lord that we are all different, so that together as one body of Christ, we can spread the gospel and our love of Jesus to all the nations, though different methods.

We are all so important to God, making up a part of the Christian community and encouraging others, so don’t underestimate yourself when exam grades are low, or you think you aren’t achieving as high as others, because without you, the body of Christ would not be complete.





Hannah is going into her last year of sixth form and lives in Tunbridge Wells in Kent. She loves food, friends and following Jesus! Hannah is a big fan of More Precious, and hopes that it can influenc eother Christian girls to be more distinctive in their life!


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