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The song that stopped me from quitting leadership.

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I dragged my case out of the hotel, across the car park to the little white hire car with the red roof. The boot was too small to take my case so I heaved it onto the back seat.

My mind was made up. I’m quitting. I can’t be a leader or a Pastor, it’s too hard. I’d had enough.

After a busy, intense few weeks, I had finally decided I couldn’t take it anymore.

To add insult to injury, the morning had brought a catalogue of things not going to plan. I started the engine and the radio blared out:

Help me, it’s like the walls are caving in
Sometimes I feel like giving up
But I just can’t
It isn’t in my blood.

She is strong. She is brave. She is undaunted. She is resilient.

No, she’s not actually.

Not all the time.

Sometimes she is afraid and feels hurt. Sometimes she is uncertain and feels helpless.

Minutes later as I sat in the little white car, at the Sainsbury’s petrol pump, tears streaming down my face, I knew I would pick myself up and keep going.

˜It isn’t in my blood”– the words repeated relentlessly around in my head. Often after seemingly unending pressure or stress, it’s the smallest thing that can tip us over into giving up.

But it isn’t in me to give up. In me is hope.

It’s in every one of us. In the core of our being, running through our veins. We are created as carriers of hope.

“We have this hope as an ANCHOR for the soul, firm and secure…” Hebrews 6:19

Your soul LONGS for an anchor, a safe haven, a peaceful resolve. Hope in Jesus brings this.

In the middle of a domino effect of events not working out, I didn’t have any great revelation on why bad things happen to people or why plans don’t work out how we’d like.

After a stressful few weeks, one day of minor obstacles, threatened to throw me off course. I did see however, that there is good right in the middle of chaos as in my moments of panic people came to my aid! And the hope in me brings a resilience and confidence that God continues to lead my life.

Tough days? Stress? Pressure? Success and nothing left to aim for? Do not lose hope. For every unknown, unplanned, unexpected scenario… there is goodness all around.

You’re going to make it! 

P.s. @shawnmendes thanks for the raw HONESTY in the song. Yes someone can help. Good people are everywhere.


Siobahn Bullock

Siobhan, has been on the Senior Leadership team of Hope City Church for over 20 years. Having been key in raising many of the leaders now running locations around the world, she, alongside her husband Steve, is the Lead Pastor of Hope City Frankfurt and Hope City Darmstadt in Germany. She has three kids and hates tomatoes.

Anxiety almost took me under but I found something to hold on to

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Growing up near the beach you become familiar with the rhythm of the sea. You learn how to ride the waves, how to swim through rips & how to follow the tide. But there are always times when it surprises you. The wave you didn’t see coming, the rip that’s too strong to fight and the tide that’s moving too fast. In those moments, you feel fear and panic as you are pulled under and tossed around by a force stronger than you. It feels impossible to find your way back to the surface, to get your head above the water and find your breath.

Three years ago, while I was overseas, I found myself being taken under and tossed around by the realities of anxiety and depression. My days were consumed with fear, my nights with panic. I lost all sense of where I was, who I was and why I was still alive. Everything felt dark. I struggled to find my breath and no matter how hard I tried to fight, I just couldn’t get above it all.

It was suffocating, it was isolating and it felt hopeless.

One day, I was reading the Psalms and I found this passage in Psalm 88:

“I’ve had my fill of trouble; I’m camped on the edge of hell. I’m written off as a lost cause, one more statistic, a hopeless case. Abandoned as already dead, one more body in a stack of corpses and not so much as a gravestone— I’m a black hole in oblivion. You’ve dropped me into a bottomless pit, sunk me in a pitch-black abyss. I’m battered senseless by your rage, relentlessly pounded by your waves of anger. You turned my friends against me, made me horrible to them. I’m caught in a maze and can’t find my way out, blinded by tears of pain and frustration.” – Psalm 88:2-9 (MSG)

This is exactly what depression was telling me. This is how anxiety made me feel. When you’re in it, you feel like you’re being battered between waves. It’s so hard to see a way out. Yet the Bible was saying to me that there was one.

There was a hope so strong and so powerful, which could override the waves and draw me back to the surface.

Psalm 31 is an incredible passage that has meant so much to me. It tells the story of David praising God as his rescuer, whilst caught in the midst of danger. Even though he was in distress and consumed by anguish, he chose to hope and trust in God. He couldn’t choose the circumstances he was facing, but he could choose to hope. I realised through this story, that hope wasn’t something that was just going to happen to me. You don’t fall asleep one day and wake up with hope. It was a decision I had to make. It was something I had to choose and hold onto.

Every day I read this passage, I studied it and slowly I learnt how to choose hope.

When everything felt dark, it was a choice to see the glimpses of light. When I was frozen with fear, it was a choice to take a step. When my world seemed to cave in on me, it was a choice to lift my head and look to Him.

Our reality is that there is a rescuer. There is a God who sees us in our pain and our brokenness and walks us through it.

He holds us, He sets our feet in spacious places and He shows us the wonders of His love.

You don’t escape a wave by fighting it. You don’t get out of a rip by swimming against it. You still yourself, you learn the rhythm, you find the break in the motion and then you choose to swim.

There are still days when the waves come, when I feel myself being pulled under, but it is there and then that I stop. I look for a rhythm in my schedule, I find rest and strength in God and I choose to continue on.

“Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” – Psalm 31:24


Haylee Potter

Haylee is the Creative Producer at Hope City Church. Born in Kenya, she grew up in Australia and is now living in the UK. She loves to travel and spend days in vintage stores. She is also very partial to a good pair of shoes or two.

I used to need to know everything but now I know better.

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My husband often says I am ‘on a needs to know basis’. In most things I want to know the who, the what, the where, the why. I like the ins and outs. I like the facts. I like context. I like to understand.

In life, I like to know the plan. I like to know what’s going on, what’s happening next. 

I want to have a tangible grasp, a reference point for where I stand and a road map for where I need to be. 

I accept that I am inquisitive by nature, and that detail can be important, but recently I’ve begun to really think about the weight I attribute to grasping knowledge and understanding in my everyday life and situations, and why I often strive to obtain it. 

I’ve been listening to the song ‘New Wine’ (from the beautiful new Hillsong album called ‘There Is More’) One of the lines in the song has really resounded in my heart. It goes:

So I yield to you and to your careful hand. When I trust you I don’t need to understand.”

I’ve come to realise that there are times when God requires us to suspend the call for full disclosure; to place our trust into his careful hand.

The careful hand of God. Meticulous in order; careful and sure in His approach. The careful hand that created all the complexities of the heavens and the earth. The careful hand that holds our lives securely. 

Something quite profound happens when we yield to, come under and surrender to the careful hand of God. 

An exchange takes place when we yield to the knowledge that He is good, to the understanding that He is able.

In Phillippians, we read: 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

Peace. The peace of God, transcends understanding. It is the peace of God that is the prize to attain; a prize much more satisfying than even the fullest level of comprehension.

Our hearts and minds will be guarded by the peace of God as we surrender our need to know to the one who really knows us.

We will find stillness in His presence as we lay down our quest for understanding.

It is from that place of peace that we can believe that He is truly able, truly for us. The need to know diminishes. Trust overtakes the yearning for detail. Faith overshadows the desire for understanding. 

God is good. God is in control. And sometimes, that is all I need to know.


Georgia Barrow

Georgia has been a part of our Hope City Liverpool location since she was a student. She is married to Steve and has two little boys, Joshua & Zachary. She loves Call The Midwife, writing short novels in birthday cards & tea in a china cup.

 

Jesus the Carpenter – when what you’re doing feels disconnected from purpose.

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Isn’t this the carpenter…?

Mark 6:3

We don’t know much about Jesus’s childhood. After being born in a stable, he was visited by shepherds and wise men, and he was protected from Herod by Joseph. He had brothers and sisters, and he grew up in a family. That’s about all that’s mentioned in the Bible about Jesus’s childhood, except for one other thing; one moment that was worth recording – at the age of 12, Jesus went missing.

He disappeared for three days whilst journeying back to Nazareth with his family from a Jewish festival in Jerusalem. Mary and Joseph assumed he was with the group and when they discovered that he wasn’t with them, they frantically searched for their eldest son for three whole days.

They eventually found him in the temple in Jerusalem. The boy Jesus had spent this time there in God’s House, answering questions and amazing the people in the temple with his knowledge and understanding. It was a glimpse of what he would become as a leader and teacher, a glimpse of his destiny as the Son of God.

At this point – at the moment Mary and Joseph found him – Jesus could have told his parents that they’d located him where he belonged; that he had found his calling.

He could have stayed in the temple. But he didn’t. Jesus left the temple and he went home.

And in the way all Jewish boys began to learn their father’s trade at the age of 12, Jesus did just that, immediately after that first flash of what he would become, Jesus began his Carpenter Years.

For 18 years, Jesus was a carpenter. It’s the longest he did anything on this earth.

For 18 years, Jesus honoured his earthly father and the house he was growing up in by learning and working in the family trade.

He served in his house. He was part of a team; he contributed to his family in a practical way.

And not just that, he took on responsibility; Jesus’s earthly father most probably passed away before Jesus began his ministry.

There is no mention of Joseph in the gospels, and as he was about to be led away to be crucified, Jesus asked his brother to care for Mary. He wouldn’t have done that if Joseph was alive.

As the eldest son, Jesus had taken responsibility for the family and house he was a part of. It was responsibility that wasn’t directly and obviously connected to his reason for being on this Earth. 

How often do we look at what we are doing and not quite see how it’s connected to the big picture?

For 18 years, Jesus was building family. He didn’t spend that amount of time doing anything else – taking time to invest in earthly family was that important to the Son of God. There are times in our lives when investing in our family is the most significant thing we can do. How often do we try to rush this time or think of it as inconsequential or a stop-gap?

For 18 years, Jesus was not moving in what appeared to be his ‘calling’. He was sawing wood and building houses. His cousin meanwhile was touring, preaching and baptising people – exactly the things that Jesus’s ministry would become known for. 

How many times do we look at what others are doing and compare our journey with theirs?

The Carpenter Years. They define us (“isn’t this the carpenter…?) They make us. Our Carpenter Years are about building relationships, and learning from and honouring those around us. We need to be mindful of them. We need to do these years well. Because, like Jesus, chances are that these years will make up the majority of our life on Earth.


Sarah Dunys

Sarah is the Teams and Volunteers Pastor at Hope City Sheffield, she is married to Joe and has three boys – Zachary, Caleb and Hudson. She loves food, words and is a little bit addicted to Candy Crush.

When I overheard this in church I decided that something has to change.

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I’ve got to start writing today with a very guilty confession. 

I am very partial to a bit of eavesdropping. There is nothing better than people watching, and sneakily overhearing a conversation. I know that no one will ever come near me again after this admission, but I don’t think I am alone in this secret.

It was actually two overheard conversations one day that really got me thinking and prompted me to write this. 

The first one was between two older ladies in church. They were discussing the behaviour of some of the younger women in church. And the second conversation was between a couple of younger women discussing how they never wanted to become like some of the older ladies. 

It made me giggle, but it also made me think what a bunch of cannibals us women are. We devour our own species.

My first thought was at least the young women were misbehaving whilst in church. It could be a whole lot worse and they weren’t in church doing a lot more destructive stuff. My second thought was that the example the young women were using to describe the old was their propensity towards crochet. I have been assured by my husband’s 24 year old P.A. that crochet has made a comeback.

What on earth is it that makes us critical or dismissive or jealous of another generation of womanhood?

It seems our society has taught us not to see wisdom and experience, but to see ugliness and weakness.

And it seems some of us older girls see inexperience and brashness, and misinterpret it.

It’s like change has become a disease to be eradicated or at best ignored.

So let’s look at the decades and what they hold, and have a good laugh. Let’s look at the highs and lows.

Well, hello the 20’s.

You are the bomb dot com. Your bum has not yet at this point started its migration southwards, and you have a wrinkle free face. But the flip side of this, is that we can be intolerant in this decade. We also suffer greatly with what people think, and are very quick to want to fulfill everyone’s expectations.

Well, hello the 30’s.

You have got it all girl. You have the career and you have the family, and you have become assertive about your accumulation. But in our 30’s, we can become dismissive of those older. We feel like we are falling out and over the precipice of youth.

Well, hello the 40’s.

We read here that our faces are lies and our necks are the truth. Hilarious. We are no longer wiping bums, and have a smidgen of freedom. But we can be carrying so much responsibility in our 40’s, that we neglect at times to take attention to our souls and our inner life.

Well, hello the 50’s.

We are experienced and poised and we have gained a certain knowledge of who we are. We do however find ourselves haunted by the avalanche of past experiences. Not to mention the butt level has drooped considerably. Hello control wear!

Then I can’t actually comment on the 60’s and beyond as I’ve got a few years to walk that path. I’m assuming that is the decade when our children recognise we are no longer idiots. But seriously, we don’t want to become cynical and criticise those who are following us on life’s journey.

In really thinking about it, what we are dealing with is the fear of crossing over. It’s the curiosity or the threat of the next thing. It’s the no mans land that we try to avoid at all costs.

It is the threat of a life or an experience we do not completely understand, and in our confusion we have the propensity to be cannibals of our own female species. I am not sure when having the perfect eyebrows, and a pert bum became the ultimate, but I am sure these qualities are not on God’s scoring scale.

God promises us He did not give us a spirit of fear, so this blatant perfection of our age, obviously is not heavenly. A bad selfie is not our enemy, and neither is a sagging butt.

Our enemy is not holding hands together and celebrating the common female experience.

In Luke we read about Elizabeth, a woman who had not been able to conceive, but who in her old age was blessed with the gift of a child. And then we read about Mary the mother of Jesus. Here was Mary pregnant, without even having to do “the deed”.

Elizabeth could have rightly been bitter towards Mary, with the “simplicity” and ease of her experience. Elizabeth however, put aside petty jealousies. We don’t hear, ‘well it was easy for her’. She instead chose to celebrate with Mary. 

Together they joined hands across the generations to celebrate the same female experience. They joined hands together with the understanding that we all suffer joy and pain. That our experience is the same thing repackaged in a thousand different ways across the years. That the barriers erected between us in our society are not actually barriers.

They are erected by an enemy who wants us to believe fear and insecurity instead of certainty and celebration.

Progression through life is inevitable, but its celebration is optional.

When we look at life we see a spiral downwards, but instead it is a spiral upwards. Life is a journey of discovery of ourselves and our Heavenly Father. Your next stage is not a threat but a welcoming open door into even more wonderful experience.

God will always meet us on the bridge. He reaches out his hand and beckons us forward on this amazing adventure called life.


Jenny Gilpin

Jenny, along with her husband Dave, is Senior Pastor of Hope City Church and part of C3 Church Global. In 2004, Jenny founded and started City Hearts to help support women with life controlling issues. City Hearts has since expanded, opening numerous houses for survivors of Modern Day Slavery. Since the birth of city Hearts they have pursued the freedom and restored the lives of over 4200 women, men and children across Europe and Africa.

 Jenny was born in Brisbane Australia, moving to Sheffield England 27 years ago with her husband Dave, to pioneer Hope City Church, now one church in twelve locations across the Globe. Their son, Ryan, lives in Sydney Australia. 

Five things I learned from going from an achievement focussed professional to a full time Mum

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When my daughter was born three years ago I went from having to do lists within my to do lists to being a mother with one purpose: to help my baby grow. She had feeding problems that meant she needed more care than many newborns, and I was catapulted into a completely different world. Here, with no measurable achievements and different rules, my life changed totally.

Even when she was better, I still had to get used to the world of motherhood. As well as the more mundane lessons of how to change a nappy, how to put the buggy together and remembering all the myriad things you need to leave the house in a day, I learned some big lessons. Here they are:

1. Value does not depend on achievement

Matthew 3.17 “and behold, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’

I’d been doing everything, and now it felt like I was doing nothing. I had been ticking off tasks and now was ticking off Netflix episodes I consumed whilst endlessly feeding my baby. It didn’t feel good! As I prayed and came to terms with things, I learned in a whole new way that to God I wasn’t a tool created to do a task but a beloved daughter.

God the Father was well pleased with Jesus before he’d done anything. I was no less because I was doing less.

2. Restrictions create freedom to choose

Matthew 6.33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

As a task-focussed person I had been used to saying yes to almost everything, and usually getting it done even if it meant very late nights and early mornings. Enter children. Suddenly my time and capacity had a limit, and I had to prioritise the things that are really important.

Though it felt restrictive, it actually created a platform for choice. Now I fill my time with the things that I decide are right for me to do. And because time is so precious, I’m often more productive than ever with the time I do have.

3. Seasonal living takes away the pressure

Ecclesiastes 3.1 “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”

I couldn’t see or imagine how life would ever possibly get easier again. Obviously it did and does, but I felt like life as I knew it had gone forever. Gradually I accepted that life is seasonal: that this too will pass. It has helped me to embrace and love motherhood and the new challenges coming my way, and to see how God was at work in me in that season as well as every other.

4. Promises are beyond my constant productivity

Exodus 14.14 “The Lord will fight for you, you only need be still”

I found it quite easy to believe in the dreams and promises God had for my life when I was working on them too. Though having children was also a dream, moving into a time when I wasn’t doing anything to further my other plans brought doubt that they would happen. But they don’t depend on me, but on God. He hadn’t stopped working on them though I had to. Life is seasonal, God is not.

5. Order is better than control

Proverbs 3 5-8 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

As a child I used to ask my Mum the plan for the day, every day. I like to know what is going to happen, to plan and control my world as much as I can. Then came children, agents of chaos. It is my job as a parent to create order in the chaos, but that often means relinquishing control, changing plans and adapting to circumstances. I am no longer under the illusion that I am in control, and I’m better for it.

I love being a Mum, but mentally it has been a journey and a big transition. But I know that everything I’ve learned has made me a bigger, better and stronger person, both for parenting my kids and for everything else that is to come.


Anna Roberts

Anna is Assistant Pastor at Hope City London along with her husband Aidan. She has two children, Kezia and William, loves being creative in any way she can and is losing the battle against turning into her own mother.