I am not sure about you, but I love to hear when I have made a difference to someone and their journey with God. I would like to think that if I have done nothing else of significance in my life, I have been an encourager and cheer leader for others in their Christian walk. When I hear about times when something I have said or done has made a difference, I try not to get big-headed but give the thanks back to God for putting me in the right place at the right time. But I have to admit it is encouraging to hear that God is using me in this way. So with this in mind I wanted to encourage a few of the women who have impacted my walk with Christ so far and to let them know how much they have meant to me. There are so many on this list that I am bound to miss someone, so sorry if that is you. I am going to try to go chronologically (my brain is scatty sometimes though but hopefully by trying to do this I won't miss anyone!!) so the logical first person who has had a huge impact on my life is my mum. Always there for me, quietly supporting me and giving me advice in every aspect of my life, my mum is my role model and adviser. Always sensible and with much experience of church life and politics, she has helped me over the years to make wise decisions and brought me up in the faith. I will be forever grateful to her and my dad for the start they gave me in life and for the grounding they continue to give me in the starting of my own little family. Next I want to mention the Sunday School leaders and Youth Leaders at my church where I grew up. Nadine Brown who led the Sunday School and organised a young persons music group which kick started my love of good Christian music. Jan Carter who made the bible interesting with the help of Opal Fruits (yes I used the correct name for them, and yes I was often the winner of said opal fruit by finding the bible passage first - bribery is always a good tool with young people!). Jo Tulip and Frances Davies who cared for and shepherded the young people at ACE (after church experience - the only place to be on a Sunday night where hot blackcurrant was the drink of choice).
Looking cool in our damsel in distress costumes!
Moving on to Secondary School there were two huge things that defined me and made me grow more certain of my faith - Pathfinder Camp and YFC. Pathfinder/CYFA camp was a week of my summer holiday that I spent with other young Christians, studying the bible and having an awesome time. I made my first real commitment to God there and made some amazing friends. To name but a few of the girls and guys who gathered around me and encouraged me they were: Naomi, Helen, Jennie, Kay, Cat, Millie, Phil, Daaavid, Debbie, Tim, Bev, Hannah, and Jack. The leaders were also fab and they answered every question I had with clarity. When I started in Sixth Form, YFC had just begun working within the school and a lovely lady called Mo Murray was the YFC worker. She got alongside our Christian Union and built us up in faith. Mo was the first to tell me that I had a gift for encouraging others and helped me to see my potential in Jesus.
Awesome Grizedale Girls
When I moved away to university there were again two big sources of encouragement to me - the Christian Union and my new church. The girls in the CU really got alongside me, especially Becky and Rhi the leaders of our College group, when I was just beginning to take up being a Christian as my own commitment not my parents. So many others helped me along - Liv, Liz S, Lizzie, Sarah T, Jo B, Fiona, Liz A, Will, Drummond, Dawn, Charlie, Bongos, Jinksy to name a few. Moorlands Evangelical Church really did plant my roots in Christ. Their commitment to teaching students the basics of the faith and how to study the bible well meant that I was well equipped to go out into the big bad world. An amazing role model for my future is and will always be Emma Rurlander, the pastor's wife, who had grace, compassion and a love for every member of that church. My Real Food Group leaders were also a great inspiration, especially Sarah and Linda in my final year there. After University I got married and moved down to Burntwood. Everything changed and there were many women in Beacon Community Church who showed me how to be a good wife - especially Jo Hunt, Avril and Lucy B. You are amazing ladies and I love you all. Finally I want to mention the new cloud of witnesses that I have surrounding me now- some great young mum's who are journeying with me and some older mum's too who have trail blazed the way before me. Kiri, Charlotte, Rachel, Peggy, Deanna, Suzy - I am so looking forward to traversing this journey of Christian parenthood with you all and discovering how to bring our children up in the faith. Dell, Maz, Jenny, Julie W, Loll, Lulu, Jo L and many many others - thank you for the role models you are to me in bringing up Sam and for the advice that you offer. So that is my current cloud of witnesses who have and are cheering me on. I look forward to adding many many more to that list. Can I encourage you to tell the people who have encouraged you in your faith about the difference they have made to you. It just might spur them on!