Our House – Our Family

You are members of God’s very own family, citizens of God’s country, and you belong in God’s household with every other Christian.” – Ephesians 2:19b

The house I’m living in this year is great.

We often invite friends over, for food, games, even just chatting. And one in particular has commented more than once on the atmosphere in our house; how communal it is, how friendly.

It helps that all of us want the benefits of communal living. We searched in particular for a house with a dining table. We found a house with a dining table, living area, large kitchen (all open-plan) and I love it. I spend far less money on food (as we shop and cook together), and I spend the time I need to with others. I can always retreat to my room if I’m people-d out!

But I think what helps more is the one thing that brought us together in the first place: Our faith.

We are all Christians; we are all a part of God’s Church, God’s family. I know I’ve used the verse at the top before. But I think it perfectly sums up our house. I think the notion of family helps to create the atmosphere that our friend commented on.

We have come from completely different walks of life. We met through CU. We are all adopted in God’s family; we can be like family at uni.

It saddens me that other houses don’t live communally. It saddens me even more that most other houses don’t know of the Gospel. But CU exists to “give every student on campus the opportunity to hear and respond to the Gospel”. So that they, too, may know the love that God has for us and that we have for each other.

Blessings and Wifi

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” – James 1:17

Our house is currently without internet. It means that if we want to go online, we have to go onto campus and use the wifi there. Often I can’t be bothered to go onto campus just for an hour or so of internet.

Our internet will be activated at the beginning of October, which seems so long away.

Wifi is such a good gift. And something that, quite scarily, I use far more of than I think.

“We don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone.”

That is scarily true at the moment.

I must keep remembering everything that God has blessed me with. Everything from a wonderful Church both at home and at uni, a wonderful house, great friendships, to the little things like regular cups of tea.

Going onto campus isn’t too bad, in the grand scheme of things. But I’m looking forward to internet at home 🙂

Can we be Good without God?

Everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standard, and all need to be made right with God by his grace, which is a free gift. They need to be made free from sin through Jesus Christ.” – Romans 3:23-24

Can we be good without God?

I have my reasons for asking this question today, which I’ll get to later.

Anyway, my answer to that would be yes. By our standards, anyway. We can do good things, we can be kind to people – that all counts as good, right?

Well, for many people, that’s the way it seems to be. Do as much good as you can, and there might be some future reward.

But we are told that we cannot be good enough. All of us, as it says in Romans, have sinned. We have all fallen short of God’s glory. That’s why God sent Jesus. He sent Jesus to die in our place – because anything we can do is never going to be good enough. (This reminds me of 1 Corinthians 1:25 – “Even the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength”)

We are also told many times that good deeds done without faith are simply worthless. Equally, we are warned against faith without deeds, but we cannot expect to simply do good and get good in return. Having faith in God is also fundamental.

In terms of why I ask this question, it’s something I’m doing over summer. When accidentally taking part in a quiz (don’t ask…), me and my housemates came up with a phrase. I took that phrase, and am now making something for the house.

It’s a pillow embroidered with an enquiry about a particular religion.

It’s a Christian Question Cushion.

I’m sorry.

Looking Ahead

Every good action and every perfect gift is from God.” – James 1:17a

It’s August 2016. Which means Olympics, beautiful weather, and looking forward to next year. I’ve started making a cushion for the house, am worrying about not having sorted bills yet, and trying to meet up with friends from school to catch up on anything and everything.

I’ve started to look forward to Forum. I’ll be there in a month’s time; it’s a week-long camp for CU leaders to help equip them for sharing the Gospel through their studies, and in CU. Whilst I’m not a CU leader as such (I do get involved, for example sometimes leading prayer meetings, but I don’t have a specific role), many other CU members recommended it, and it will be great to spend a week looking at how God can work on campus.

Another reason I’m looking forward to Forum is that I’ll be back with my friends. Sure, it will only have been a couple of months since I last saw them. But given that I’ll have known them for just 2 years before I spend a year in France (and by the time I get back, they’ll have graduated…), that’s quite a long time. And knowing my friends has been an incredible blessing this year, and living with them next year will hopefully bring even more.

This brings home to me how much has changed since going to uni. My friends from school are still there, but I am much closer to my uni friends. I was worried at the beginning of uni about finding friends. Mostly because I’m naturally quite introverted, and didn’t particularly want to go to any large-scale events. But going to smaller events, mostly CU-run, helped me to find them and we’ve become really strong friends.

Looking forward to next year, it would be great to use what I learn at Forum to help freshers, coursemates and others on campus to know exactly how good God is – and to share His many blessings.

Home or Away?

You are members of God’s very own family, citizens of God’s country, and you belong in God’s household with every other Christian.” – Ephesians 2:19b

It’s a bit weird being back at home.

Going back to the church I went to almost every week until September, and being back in my own bed, and yet still feeling a little bit like a visitor.

I mean, I came back at Christmas and Easter, but it’s not quite the same when your bed’s in one place and your duvet is in another. Now they’re reunited, as it were.

And yet I’m still living pretty much out of a suitcase. I haven’t fully unpacked yet, and knowing that I’ve only got 2 months until I go back to uni, and just a week until I could (if I wanted to) move in to my house for next year, it doesn’t quite feel permanent enough to unpack completely.

Then there’s the fact that I have to re-adjust to family life. I’ve spent most of the last year living mostly independently, and to be honest I quite enjoyed it. And whilst I enjoy many home comforts (ranging from being able to play the piano regularly to not having to cook for myself every single day to being able to have day trips outside the realms of public transport…) I also appreciated moving out.

I am aware that next year will be very different. For one thing I’ll be living with 4 friends from CU, quite a step down from 19 strangers!

And whilst it’s a little weird being back at home, I know that God has given me so many blessings even within the past 2 weeks that I’ve been here, and He is faithful, steadfast and gracious no matter where in the country I am.

I am sure (and I can pray) that it is just a matter of getting back into routines and normality. I *might* just be a little homesick for university.

I realise that this has been mostly quite negative. I didn’t mean it to end up that way. I really love being at home with my family, and the fact that I can spend the summer at home is fantastic. There are so many blessings I get from being at home. But equally I am a little melancholic – uni life is so different. I will get back to uni life in September, though. For now I should focus on the summer.

And with the overarching theme of ‘home’, it seems appropriate to remember that the sense of belonging can be found in God. As is mentioned in Ephesians, we are all part of God’s family. We are all part of God’s household. Knowing that, through Jesus, we are children of God, will help me to put this into the bigger picture. Particularly at times like this – when I don’t really belong at home, but don’t really belong at uni – it is amazing to remember that I do, in fact, belong with God.

Expectations vs Reality

God, I will thank you forever for what you have done.
With those who worship you, I will trust you because you are good.” – Psalm 52:9

We’re into week 6 of Summer Term. That’s pretty scary – it’s almost the end of First Year. Hard to believe that back in September I was a nervous fresher, coming into a house of 20 people. That’s no joke, by the way. It doesn’t mean a house with 2 or 3 different ‘flats’ within it. It’s a house, with 20 bedrooms. But that’s beside the point. There were 19 other people living with me. Whilst it was in my first preference college, it was far from my ‘ideal’ house. At least, that’s what I thought when I first arrived. It would be noisy, it would be messy, it would be intimidating.

And to be fair, it is noisy. In fact, it’s a little bit unnerving if it falls quiet, actually. There’ll always be someone going through the squeaky kitchen door, always someone chatting. It does fall quiet at night, though. The others are generally very respectful of everyone’s need to sleep, and when they have had house parties, they’ve let us know.

It is quite messy, although I’d be the first to admit that quite a lot of the mess is probably mine. In the small kitchen, at least. But it’s not too messy. I’ve been in far messier houses, and people are generally pretty good at the Monday night clear-up in time for the Tuesday morning cleaning day.

The one thing it certainly isn’t is intimidating. I suppose it helped that I was in contact with others via Facebook for a good month and a half beforehand. It meant I knew what they were doing, for the most part what they looked like, and it did make moving in a lot easier.

Before arriving at uni, I would definitely have preferred a smaller house.

But now, I wouldn’t change anything.

In the first few weeks in the house, I was in the big kitchen getting ready for Church choir, and something came up which led to someone in the house asking if God really answered prayers. And I thought a minute, back to everything that had happened in those few weeks. And I said yes.

God had put me in a fantastic position at the beginning of my uni life. Within that situation, I found a fellow Christian, who also happened to be a coursemate, who also happened to be living in the room next door to me, who I’ve made fantastic friends with and will be living with me next year. Within that situation, I’ve made a group of firm friends, and I’ve settled in really well, despite initial expectations.

And in the year after arriving?

Well, I’ll be sad to leave. I’ve made so many great friends in this house. One of them seems to be very interested in Christianity; I’m getting her a bilingual Bible so she can read it in her own language, at her own pace. She’s been along to a few events, and I’m fairly sure she understands why we’re Christians, even if she’s not quite a Christian herself. But I’ll continue praying for her.

It will certainly be weird next year with only five of us.

But I still have 3½ weeks left of term, and another couple until I actually move out, so there’s still time. I don’t have to say goodbye just yet!