Laying Down My Everything?

Do you ever feel like you’re not fully conscious? As if you’re living the longest dream, blinking, about to wake up and return to reality?

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Everything at the moment seems incredibly surreal. I leave home in under 2 weeks to start a gap year with BMS World Mission. I have always known that I would do this however now that it’s happening, it looks and feels so different to what I had imagined a couple of years ago.

First of all, I’m going to live in Africa for 6 months – one of the poorest places in the world! It’s going to be such an adventure. But the closer I get, the more I have to come to terms with things, and the more I have to give up: family, friends, diet, communication, reliable electricity, toiletries, clothes, money, a years worth of appointments and dreams… Even the freedom to walk or run alone!

I am quite literally laying my everything down right now! I am surrendering so much to God – so many things that I have never surrendered to God. Yet I am fully confident that it will be worth it. He will protect me and give me joy!

Already I have built strong friendships with the others on my team. Already so many unexpected donations have come through. Already so much equipment has been sourced.

Most of all, I know now that I am about to step into the unknown: a new country; a new culture; a new world of political background; an unknown landscape. There are almost no photographs to look at, very few travel reviews and I don’t even know the exact location of my accommodation yet. I have absolutely no control over anything! Am I willing to accept that?

God wants me to take my biggest leap of faith yet. Literally! I know for sure that I want to say yes – to let go of all control is to allow God to show me that he really is in control of everything. Only one thing remains – God’s compassion.

BMS World Mission are an excellent organisation and they look after their workers so well. I know that God will be my protector and that this next year will bring the adventure of a life-time as I learn to rely on the one true God, whilst helping others at the same time.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine. He will keep me safe. He will go with me and He will allow me to have joy as I adventure further than I’ve ever been before!

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding.

Galatians 3:9 so those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

Eleanor ♥

What is God Doing in Your Life Right Now?

Today I want to talk about Paul, Silas and Timothy. These three leaders were incredibly influential and played a significant role in the faith of the church in Thessalonica. You can read all about their influence, the growth of this little church and the things that the three leaders taught in both 1 and 2 Thessalonians. However what catches my eye is how faith thrives amongst these three leaders…

_MG_1438In 1 Thessalonians 3:6-10, we learnt that Paul and Silas were suffering a horrid persecution. However Paul makes an effort to send Timothy to Thessalonica, in order to find out how the church is continuing to grow. When he discovers that faith is truly thriving in this church, he writes back immediately, encouraged by all that he has heard. In fact, by asking fellow Christians about how they are journeying with God, Paul was made alive despite all of his suffering.

Hearing testimony, even when we ourselves feel as though we are far, spiritually dry or simply insignificant, should shake us alive! How often do we ask one another, “what is God revealing to you right now?” Or perhaps, “what have you been challenged with recently?” This question is vital so that we may all be shaken to life, grow in the knowledge of the many marvellous ways in which God works and be leaders for each other.

_MG_1420So without further ado, “what is God doing in your life right now?”

I know for sure that within my own personal journey with God, I am learning more and more about how my faith applies to real world situations. Recently, God has been revealing areas in life where he is present. The recent general election has been a particular growth point – this year I was eligible to vote for the first time. Previous to this I had rarely payed attention to politics, knew very little about policies, cared even less about the need to vote and simply had never even considered how God could be present in politics. Over the past month through prayer, scripture and reading, God has shown me just how many Christians there are in politics and simply opened my eyes to be more aware of our country’s affairs. As a result, I was able to prayerfully make my own personal choice whilst having the confidence to know that God is in control and will use whoever is currently in parliament to govern our country. God is present in the every day.

I would also say that I have recently been learning from various leaders, including Moses, Paul and Jesus himself. I have been growing in the knowledge of how they actively lead their people in the small things – that leadership is largely about attitude, outlook, and humble steps. I’m still journeying through this and learning so much – this idea of making effort to ask each other for testimony is one of many little learning curves.

When turning to friends, I was amazed to hear some wonderful stories: the power of healing; finding purpose; walking alongside those who are questioning God…

May you share with one another and be made alive in the thriving of the faith of God’s church!

The question is, what is God doing in your life right now?

Eleanor ♥

Draw My Life

I have wanted to create a Draw My Life video for a while now and when I finally got round to it, it was such a fun, creative project that allowed me to reflect upon all my best memories. I also would like to think that when I’m older I’ll be able to watch this back and be reminded of so many happy times! I guess it’s also a way for you all to get to know me on a more personal level.

Enjoy it – what memories make up your life?

Eleanor ♥

P.S. I tried my best to include everything. To my family and friends: I’m sorry if you were missed! You all mean the world to me!

Sickening Violence Counteracted? | Pray for Manchester

This morning I woke up as usual but as soon as I swiped right to turn off my alarm, the words “Manchester Terror Attack” boldly sat staring up from my lock screen. Immediately I awoke from my slumber and came to the realisation that the city I have known for so long, had now been targeted with violence. Reading those three words and shortly after discovering the details, I felt sickened, angered and completely speechless…

Half of my family live in Manchester. My best friend was supposed to go to a concert tomorrow – it could have easily been her. I’ve walked down those very same concert hall steps.

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It really, utterly hit home and my heart just cried out for all involved – I honestly wanted to jump in my car, drive to Manchester and start helping those affected. But I knew that wasn’t possible.

All day I felt riddled with anger and upset, as I’m sure thousands have today. But when I came home, I turned to my bible and I randomly came across Psalm 141(NIV). What I discovered was incredibly moving…

This Psalm is a prayer written by David, who also found himself surrounded by a violence (whether physical, emotional or mental I don’t know) caused by someone else. David felt angry and frustrated. His heart also cried out for mercy. I found it incredibly comforting and humbling to read that I was not the only one.

We can’t deny that evil is in this world – after what happened today we can’t help but stand stunned, angry and devastated. But in a similar situation, David (who was just as stunned) turned to prayer and remembered the truth of who God is – despite how he felt.

In vs 3-4 David acknowledges that violence is a very real thing – daily, people are doing evil all over the world. David acknowledges that this indeed is sickening, poisoning and dreadful. He recognises that these evil things are devised from corrupt, lost and broken hearts that do not know what goodness really is – that being the goodness of God. He responds by looking to God, declaring His goodness and praying for rescue. By doing so he turns his focus from the violence (not a blind eye – he still acknowledges it but refuses to dwell on it) and surrenders the situation to God, knowing that God can bring rescue.

Then in vs 4-5, David prays for protection. He is humbled by the violence, realising that He cannot keep himself safe. He chooses to rely upon God, and acknowledges the daily traps that entangle him, giving them to God. In the same way may I challenge us today to acknowledge the traps surrounding the Manchester Terror Attack:

  1. Terrorism causing fear – lets pray over our country, and the protection against fear so that we may rebuild a confident society, not allowing fear to cause worry or racial speculation.
  2. Blame: pray for protection against Islamic or Religious societies so they may not be trapped by prejudice labels regarding terrorism – sadly today I had to tweet somebody who wrongly and racially claimed that “religion has caused this hate.”
  3.  Trauma: pray for protection against trauma, that all involved may be healed physically, restored emotionally and allowed to completely recover psychologically, not trapped by fear or trauma in the future.

Next, in vs 6-7 David cries out in mercy. Today’s events were sickening. As mentioned before, when I awoke today, my heart dropped and all I felt was compassion and hurt for all involved. Perhaps I couldn’t actively go and help, but like David, I could pray – I could cry out for mercy on behalf of those involved. Many injured may not know Christ and so as a follower of Jesus, my responsibility was to pray for them and ask the Holy Spirit bring comfort on behalf of them. I’m not talking about a quick, #prayformanchester tweet or arrow prayer. I’m talking about an invested, heartfelt faith-can-move-mountains prayer. Spend time praying and crying out to God for these people – prayer after all, is powerful.

When we look at vs9-11, we read that unfortunately, there will be people today who stand proud of what has gone on – how inhumane! Firstly whilst the psalm says that they will be, “thrown into the fire,” we must remember that these are David’s words, not God’s. Undoubtedly David, like many (including myself) today, was angry and craved justice. But unlike David, we have the truth of the New Testament. Jesus has died and rose victorious to take away sin, so all may be forgiven. I am not saying that the man who carried out the attack last night was right – he was very, very wrong. However, Jesus has already dealt with all wrongdoing. We don’t have the power to punish or judge this man  (especially since he has died) but God does, and has already, dealt with it – we don’t know the outcome of this but we can trust that God is in control. Now, we must focus on applying the “all may be forgiven” aspect, not forgetting that what he did was wrong, but in our hearts coming to terms with it and moving on. This allows us to turn the tables, counteract the violence and have peace in our hearts.

World peace starts with inner peace and the first step is forgiveness. It’s hard and we don’t want to forgive right now – but the result will be worth it in time.

Finally, in vs 12-13, David finished his prayer with a great hope. He reminds himself that God is good and declares this over all of the violence. Right now it’s hard to see all the suffering and believe that God is good. But he is. Due to freewill, God can’t stop people from doing evil. He didn’t cause this pain, and he is rebuilding already through the work of emergency services and other aids. His presence is real and current – God is walking with the suffering.

We can all experience this goodness today amongst such violence – simply by opening our hearts with, “God, I need you – come and change my life, show me who you really are.

If we do this, although there will still be hatred, we may enter a relationship with God and encounter his presence so that whilst in the storm, we may know and trust his good, strong and loving power.

This afternoon after reading and thinking about Psalm 141, I sat and prayed through all of these points. As I prayed for God to free and protect, I saw an image of a mouse trap clenched closed. But then the glorious light of Christ shone upon it, and set it wide open – free! In this moment, my heart suddenly felt peaceful. Suddenly I felt able to forgive and all my anger disappeared. I felt comforted knowing that the situation was now in God’s hands and that he is carrying those involved.

My prayer is that you may also know this freeing power in your heart.

Pray for Manchester – cry out for mercy and invite God in. Live freely set apart from all the violence in this world, simultaneously praying for, walking with and acting on behalf of those who are suffering.

Eleanor ♥

Do You Smile At Strangers?

Do you smile at strangers?

I’m serious. A little kindness goes a long way and recently I have been learning about the impact of such bright moments…

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I found myself on the train again last week making another trip into London and back. The journey was fairly busy yet unusually peaceful. However at our second stop, a lady boarded and made her way down the carriage, squinting as if unable to read the seat numbers. Instantly I very politely asked which seat she was looking for, pointing the way and offering to lift her heavy bag onto the overhead luggage holder, all whilst smiling…

Only to be rudely snapped at.

Contrasting this, as I was getting off the train, a foreign student struggled to retrieve her 2 large suitcases from the luggage rack and then ended up fighting to keep hold of them as the train jostled onward. Without a word I grabbed one of them for her – this requiring little effort. With a relieved smile she managed to find the words, “thank you.”

In such a graceful moment, I was able to see how differently this girl engaged with me, compared to the lady in her seat. It seems to me that the first lady had had a long day. Perhaps some would say that my efforts failed or my kindness was rejected, but if such a cold response was obtained, then surely my kindness shone brighter and lit up like a hot flame.

Similarly, despite the language boundary, by simply being aware of a current need and helping to provide it, kindness allowed grace to break such a barrier.

These two examples both demonstrate the response towards kindness challenging us to welcome such efforts whilst also indicating ways in which minute actions can seriously change the world.

Besides these, in efforts to be more positive I have been learning so much regarding random kindness. Recently I have been blessed to see how small things really count when they come from the heart: smiling at strangers; stopping to pick up the child that fell; saying good morning; paying for the coffee after you; giving directions; honestly answering questions; carrying somebody’s bags… The list is endless…

Whether your efforts are accepted with gratitude or rudely rejected, may you come to know how greatly you are lighting up those whom you serve. I encourage you to be distinctive in all that you do – starting with a little kindness.

Will you smile at strangers?

Eleanor ♥

April 1st

April 1st.

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My alarm sounded at 6:45 and I pulled open the curtains letting light flood in. It took a few moments to come round before I first of all realised what day it was and second, discovered that my hair was an absolute disaster. Normally it dries straight however despite washing it the night before, it had blown up into a frizzy mess. I couldn’t help but laugh… Thank goodness for hairdressers, that’s all I can say!

The morning of April 1st 2017 will be one retained in memories for years to come. As trivial as it may sound, driving to your best friend’s, parents’ house early in the morning to be greeted by breakfast, coffee, a hairdresser, all your girl friends and a little buxfizz is by far a little surreal. Even more so is watching Mama Mia whilst getting ready to walk down the aisle behind one of the girls you’ve grown up with.

No words can describe how it felt to watch two of my best friends walk down the aisle and make vows to each other. Emotions ran high and the ceremony was beautiful. The celebrations to follow seamed to last forever as we relished each others company celebrating not only the marriage of two great friends, but the life time friendships we’d made as a wider group. Truly astounding. Truly beautiful.

Here’s to the Thornhills of 2017. May your marriage be wonderful and your eternal life together full of growth, beauty and strength.

Eleanor ♥

P.S. Credit to Blooming Sundays for the beautiful flowers featured!
To see professional photographs as and when they come through, follow me on Instagram

Who Can Stop The Lord?

One night I was all set to go off in one direction. The morning after I found out that plans were about to turn upside down. Instantly I just prayed, “Lord please provide your will.” In fact all day long I prayed this…
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That afternoon, the song, The lion and the Lamb, had been on a continuous loop in my mind. As I sat down later on, guitar in hand, I got through the first verse and then my phone rang. One of the supervisors from BMS phoned me to let me know that due to lack of applicants and team members, they were dropping Delhi as a location and that they wanted to place me else where – Africa.
Africa. My heart sank. Delhi was my number one choice. I’d had my heart set on India. How could this even be? As we chatted Tabi explained who I’d be placed with and reassured me that the projects I’d be involved in were to be very similar. Instantly I could see God encouraging me through her although it still felt disappointing.
Tabi gave me some more encouragement and then hung up, giving me a few days to think about accepting the Africa placement.
I went straight back to my guitar and finished playing the Lion and the Lamb – now the lyrics felt even more relevant and I just kept running to God. The bridge particularly hit me: “who can stop the Lord Almighty?!”
Who am I? Who am I to challenge God’s plan? Who am I to question why this has happened? Who am I to think that I cannot serve in Africa as much as I would have in Delhi?! All of these things are step by step pointing me towards his plan – that which is immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine! All we can ask!
 
Perhaps Africa will be greater? I mean after all – it’s Africa!
All I know is this: after coming so far in this process it would not be wise to say no to this change of location. From day one we were told, “working with BMS is about being flexible to changes of human plans and following God’s plan.”
After reading a little about the location in Africa and chatting with my Dad I have been humbled to think that actually, God is using me for his greater good. Similar to Delhi I will be teaching English in schools, playing football, and using drama skills. I will also be involved with carpenters and maintenance which may sound dangerous but after all, I may need the experience if I’m to go on to study architecture. Finally, French. French. The subject I disliked the most in school…
Isn’t it ironic how God wants to use the language that I struggled with?! I always though I’d be speaking Spanish wherever I ended up – but here we are in need of a little extra French tuition!
As I continue to seek God in this time of unknown I am so humbled to trust him. It’s fearful. It’s a little disappointing. But one day I’ll look back on this time, incredibly thankful for God’s intervention, allowing me to follow the very best plan!
Who can stop the Lord almighty? 
I for sure will not !
Eleanor ♥
P.S I realise Africa is a large country but I’m not sure how much I can disclose about the new location sorry! However if you would like to make a donation / receive more information then do not hesitate to contact me!
Credit to my brother Jonathan for this brilliant photograph!

Beyond Frames

As trivial as it may seem, something I’ve never talked about online is my glasses. As a fashion blogger you may think that I’d have shared them with you from day one. I have been relying on frames for almost three years now and although they may have featured in a few photos, I have always been one to hide them…
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I can’t imagine life without glasses now! It’s sounds so strange to me to write these words but it’s the truth! However for some reason I have always felt as though frames expose me. It’s as if when you wear glasses, people categorise you as a “glasses wearer.” Not to mention, there are even some people who view your glasses as a part of you – what?! Wearing glasses does not define who I am. Perhaps the frames that I chose may reflect my personality, but merely they are nothing more than clothes._MG_0946c

Wearing glasses should feel beautiful. It’s funny how some days I’ll wear contact lenses and notice how people look at me differently. Other days I won’t even do my make up knowing that my glasses will hide any efforts. Why am I doing this?! It’s time I make eye contact with people and fearlessly wear my frames. Perhaps I can’t see things too well anymore, but I have at least learnt to look beyond a frame.

Glasses are starting to become more popular and I cannot express how great that is for fellow glasses-wearers. The variety of frames these days gives so many people an opportunity to feel bolder! I currently wear converse frames and definitely recommend them! Recently I’ve fallen in love with wearing glasses again and it truly is beautiful. Although I still cannot deny that there are days when I wish I didn’t need to. Some days I feel as though my frames are too bold – as if they attract stares. I know this sounds ludicrous but if you wear glasses 24/7 like I do, you probably understand._MG_0964c

I guess what I am trying to say is this: wearing glasses is beautiful. But it’s time we redefined the subject of this beauty – the eye. It’s time we looked beyond frames and made genuine eye contact. It’s time we made an effort to compliment people’s eyes – it really would make such a difference!_MG_0949c

To all glasses wearers: I challenge you to be bolder this week!

To those who don’t wear glasses: I challenge you to start complimenting people’s eyes and refuse to stare at frames.

Eleanor ♥

A New Kind of Success

Remember a distant post back in 2015? In a post called, The Fear Excitement of Adventure I discussed how my future plans and ambitions were beginning to change. At this point in my life, my childhood view of how my life would pan out was rapidly changing – I no longer knew what I wanted to do with my life…

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Although this was a rather positive post and for most of this period I viewed it as a wonderful adventure, trying new things, enjoying great memories and exploring options, there was always something in the back of my mind that said, “Eleanor you need a plan.” Often it was something along the lines of, “don’t waste your life – do something worthwhile!”

I guess my self-pressure to become successful has always been a wonderful thing: I rarely say no to opportunities, I enjoy learning new things and have been able to cherish valuable life experiences. However my definition of success has changed incredibly! There was a time when I thought that being successful meant passing all of my exams, climbing a career ladder, being awarded an OBE (very unlikely but who knows, maybe one day) and simply being admired. In a way, success does still mean this. However the difference, is that all of these things are a result of success and not success in themselves…

I guess what I am trying to say is that some of the most successful people in life are incredibly humble and only do what they do because it makes them happy! They didn’t necessarily do it to be recognised nor did they imagine what they would accomplish previous to doing so.

As I’ve grown older (and I hope a little wiser) I have come to realise that happiness is key! Yes I still strive to take part in as many things as I can. Yes I still study incredibly hard for exams. Yes I still want to go to university. But only because I enjoy learning new things and am passionate about new experiences!

I now have a plan for the next few years of my life and funnily enough I will be going to university after all. However no longer will I be studying art – from now on it’s architecture and I am definitely looking forward to it! Despite this, I know to that going straight to university will not be the most successful step for me. In my opinion, as a young person with no responsibilities or career strings, there is no time like today – I want to see the world, gain experience and also make a positive contribution. I have spent 18 years being showered with love, education and other blessings. It’s time I gave something back.

September will bring another type of success as I embark on a gap year to India, taking part in mission work with BMS World Mission Action Teams. There I will grow as an individual whilst making a positive contribution to the world. Perhaps it does mean postponing my future career by a year – but how much more valuable will this year of personal growth and culture be?!

Success is yours – do with it as you wish!

Eleanor ♥

Crash Landing February

I’m feverish, I’m injured and I’m exhausted. The 3 symptoms of February have made an appearance. For some February is a second fresh start, a time to cut out the post-Christmas comfort food or perhaps a positive end to winter. However for some reason, my kind of February looks more like the crash landing of an immune system and desire for even more comfort food.

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As if by coincidence or some environmental stimulus, I only ever get ill in February. This is by no means an exaggeration. I can go a year without catching a cold or taking a sick day but when I eventually do wake up bed-bound, the calendar always says “February!”

Last year it was a horrendously overdue and destructive cold that left me clawing for breath, energy and even the ability to stand without feeling dizzy. The year before welcomed another flue, the year before that a sick bug and I seem to recall that one February I ended up with a week long spell of tonsillitis… I have also noted very high levels of exhaustion and stress in recent February’s.

What can I say? I just don’t enjoy February! Perhaps the change in weather combined with hard efforts to achieve new years resolutions is what causes it? Maybe my body finally reacts to all the January comfort and Christmas food? Whatever the cause, it’s occurring once more: I have some kind of flue, injured hip reflexes (preventing me from running) and I feel like I’m crawling through the week dependent on caffeine.

It’s only the 7th of February as I write this…

However, as with anything I know that all of this is only temporary and I at least (unlike others) have had some warning given previous February experiences. I press on and often end up dedicating these 28 days of low immunity to rest, recovery and restoration. I take sick days, get early nights and feed my body with as many vitamins as I can!

I hope you’re February is less infectious.

What does your February look like?

Eleanor ♥

P.S sorry for any missed posts but as you can see, February is out to get me.
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