Smith Street

A friend from church, Rachel, came to visit me today. She told me that she lives on Smith Street in Mansfield and the Holy Spirit brought to mind another story from my life; it is one that follows on from yesterday’s blog post.

When my husband left me in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey in June 1994, he first set up home with his new woman in a rented house on Racecourse Road in Mansfield, Notts. The street parallel to Racecourse Road is Maltby Road (and our next door neighbour in Kingston upon Thames had the surname Maltby). The next parallel road in Mansfield is Smith Street (and Smith is my maiden name).

So, although there are 160 miles between Kingston upon Thames and Mansfield, the same picture of neighbours is symbolised. Mr Maltby living next to Miss Smith in Kingston upon Thames and Maltby Road next to Smith Street in Mansfield.

Although my husband moved 160 miles away from me, it was as if he had moved into the next street 🙂

Please don’t try to tell me that there is not a loving Father God who is overseeing our mixed up lives.

 

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What Halloween means to me

20 years ago tonight I was sleeping in St Botolph’s graveyard in Lincoln, opposite the Golden Eagle pub, doing a sponsored sleepout for a local homeless charity, Nomad.

There was a blanket of fog reminding me of Great Expectations. Better to have fog rather than a clear sky – it’s warmer. I remember that a few days earlier Chris Bowater had given me a prophetic word that God was in the fog – it seemed that this was the night for that prophetic word.

It brought a different perspective to “Until Death Do Us Part”, since I learned a few days later that my husband had remarried on 31st October 1997.

As I write this, I am reminded that God had led me to be a Saturday volunteer in the Nomad Café in Lincoln (held in a former mortuary) a few months earlier.

On the day in 1997 that I walked into the cafĂ© to volunteer a song was playing – The Power of Love by Jennifer Rush. That was the song my husband had chosen for our first dance together as man and wife in Hampton Court, London in 1988. It has a line in it that says “I’m heading for somewhere, somewhere I’ve never been, sometimes I’m frightened but I’m ready to learn about the Power of Love”.

I am now volunteering with another homeless charity, in Mansfield, and we are having our Christmas lunch in another Golden Eagle, The Golden Eagle in Mansfield. This pub is situated just off the A617 and St Botolph’s day is June 17th.

My husband actually ran off to live just off the A617 in Mansfield when he left me and Kingston upon Thames in June 1994.

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Darkness to Light – Colossians 1:13

My first dance with John Wilson (when I met him at my cousin John Jeffers’ wedding on 10th January 1987) was to “New York, New York”.

On September 11th 1999 my mother died.

On September 10th 2001 (my wedding anniversary) I was at a church catering committee meeting at the Lincoln home of Paul and Mary Reet (when I married in Kingston upon Thames in 1988 I had become Jacqui Wilson and was told that Jackie Wilson had sung a song called “Reet Petit”) .

As I entered Paul and Mary’s living room I saw a book on the coffee table about the North American Indians (whom the Pilgrim Fathers met when they arrived in the Americas I believe). We had the catering meeting and, as we were leaving, someone noticed an American calendar on the Reet’s hallway wall. The photograph for September 2001 was a night-time photograph of New York.

Mary Reet (who is quite petite) then flipped over the pages and showed us a photograph of St Lucia (a Caribbean island where Dawn, my Guildford landlady of 2008-2010, grew up). I now know that in Sweden St Lucia/St Lucy is celebrated and they have a Festival of Light on 13 December each year. The story is that St Lucy lost her eyesight and God miraculously healed her.

The following day, September 11th 2001, I had the day off from my job to await the delivery from Wickes (interesting how even here God is speaking of light – as in wicks of candles) of the parts to make a built in wardrobe. These arrived at 10:10 a.m (it was around this time on September 11th in 1999 that I had been informed by staff at East Surrey Hospital that my mother had died, as I was driving to collect my sister, Suzanne, to go to the hospital to visit our mother). Remember John 10:10.

With me in Lincoln on September 11th in 2001 was Martin Joy (who was born on St Botolph’s Day) and a young lady called Samantha (who had moved in to lodge with me on the previous day – my wedding anniversary). At precisely 1:50 p.m. Samantha’s mother (who “happens” to be Swedish) arrived and I was led to read Psalm 150 from my Bible. This would have been at the time between each of the two planes hitting the Twin Towers in New York, and before we were aware of anything happening in New York. The planes had taken off from Boston Mass, the name of which comes from Boston in Lincolnshire UK. The name Boston comes from St Botolph’s Stone.

Using the photographs on the Reet’s American Calendar – it was as if God was saying that light would come out of darkness, as indeed it did when I became born again as a result of John leaving me in June 1994 – Colossians 1:13. Using the planes hitting the Twin Towers – it was as if the Twin Towers were John and myself and that our marriage fell as a result of an enemy attack from the devil using human beings, just as those Twin Towers fell as a result of an enemy attack from the devil using human beings, but that the most important thing is “eternal life” rather than this life we lead on earth and that the end of the story is and will be “Let Everything that has Breath Praise the Lord” (Psalm 150).

My life has been so “rich” spiritually since 1994. It has not been without challenges, since bearing the name Christian means that the devil is out to get you even more, but to know Almighty Father God, who sent His son Jesus to die on the cross to bring reconciliation and who then left the Holy Spirit as our Comforter and Counsellor, is amazing.

Colossians 1:9-14

9…….. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,  10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

 

 

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The Writing is on the Wall

1 Kings 8.27, 1 Corinthians 6.19

The Cross is in the Field

In November 2004 I was living in Leatherhead and signed on with Adecco agency in Leatherhead as a temp (my temp controller was Tristan Hope, a Christian who attended a church that met in a school in Wallington). Tristan’s name reminded me that I needed to “Trust and Hope” in God for employment.

On 6 December (St Nicholas – from whom comes Santa Claus – Day) 2004, my usual temp agency (Recruit in Dorking) sent me to work as a temporary administrator at Priory Healthcare at the “Coach House” (what in biblical days would perhaps have been called a “stable”?) in Salfords, Redhill. Coach House was a rehabilitation place for people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. Interestingly, there were around 11 residents, one of whom was called “Wes” and another “Lee”.

John “Wesley” started the Methodist movement; he was born on St Botolph’s Day (17 June) 1703 and his last public…

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I Was a Wandering Sheep

In 1994 I was born again and the Holy Spirit led me to this hymn in the book of common prayer my dad gave me 30 years earlier at my confirmation. It tells my story:

Live Life! God's way

Today’s Hymn (#105) from The Believers’ Hymn Book is entitled “I Was A Wandering Sheep.”

I was a wandering sheep, I did not love the fold;
I did not love my Shepherd’s voice, I would not be controlled.
I was a wayward child, I did not love my home;
I did not love my Father’s voice, I loved afar to roam.

The Shepherd sought His sheep, The Father sought His child;
They followed me o’er vale and hill, O’er deserts waste and wild;
They found me nigh to death, Famished and faint and lone;
They bound me with the bands of love, They saved the wand’ring one.

They spoke in tender love, They raised my drooping head,
They gently closed my bleeding wounds, My fainting soul they fed;
They washed my filth away, They made me clean and fair;
They brought me to my home in peace, The long sought…

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What a Friend we have in Jesus

Today in our prayer time at the beginning of our working day at Compassion UK, Charlotte led and told us she had recently sung “What a Friend we have in Jesus” at her local Methodist Church. She told us the story of the writer of “What a Friend we have in Jesus”, Joseph Scriven, that his two fiancees had died just before he was due to marry them and how he came to write the poem.

This reminded me of a testimony I have from five years ago:

I was feeling a bit low on Wednesday (28 July 2010). I drove into Chesterfield (Derbyshire, UK) and sat by a Funfair in the town centre eating my lunch when, all of a sudden, I heard the Organ on the Carousel playing the tune to “What A Friend We Have in Jesus”. I then walked to the Oxfam shop where I was starting working that afternoon. I put a CD of South African Gospel music onto the CD player in the shop. What a lovely surprise to hear the first song on the CD (in a South African local dialect) was “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”. Praise God.

On the Friday (30 July 2010) as I was at home filling in an application form for a job, I heard Cliff Richard singing “What a Friend we have in Jesus” on UCB Inspirational Radio. I thought about how “connected” God has made me to this song. The Cliff Richard book “You, Me and Jesus” led me to God in 1985 and another Cliff Richard book led me to Pioneer church in 1994.

“What a Friend we have in Jesus” was written by Joseph Scriven. My best friend at college was Sue Aldridge. I was a bridesmaid to her when she became Sue Scriven.

Sue and Graham Scriven’s two daughters were then my bridesmaids when I married John Wilson in 1988. On our honeymoon in Harrogate we were surprised to find a nearby village was called Scriven. And it was in Chesterfield (where I was comforted by hearing the song twice on Wednesday, 28 July 2010) that I was divorced on 21 July 1997.

I also remember that I went to Rhodes for my 50th birthday on a Master Sun Christian holiday and we sang “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” on that holiday.

Later on 30 July 2010 I looked up “Scriven” on “Rightmove” (a UK “property for sale” website) and found that the “Old Smithy” in Scriven was for sale. How amusing, since Smith is my maiden name!!!!

On Thursday, 5 August 2010, I looked up Joseph Scriven – Writer of “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” and found that I married on the anniversary of his birth/christening (10 September 1819) and my sister was born on the anniversary of his death (10 August 1886).

I also discovered I was born and my sister was christened on the anniversary of the death of the man who set Joseph Scriven’s poem to music (Charles Crozat Converse who died on 18 October 1918). What an amazing number of God-incidences to link me, my sister and my wedding party to Joseph Scriven and the words of his poem. I became a Christian when my husband left me in 1994 and I have experienced, and indeed experience on a daily basis, the friendship of Jesus.

What a Friend We Have in Jesus

What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Saviour, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.

Blessed Saviour, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there.

 

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Plymouth

I was originally led to Plymouth in July 2009. There were several things that attracted me there:

  1. The Pilgrim Fathers left from there aboard The Mayflower on 16 September 1620:

I originally met my friend James, in Lincoln on St Botolph’s Day in 2005 (he had been born in St John’s psychiatric hospital on 16 September 1983, on the anniversary of the Pilgrim Fathers setting sail from Plymouth) I remember one of the first things James did was sing to me the song by Casting Crowns “Who Am I”?

Some of the Pilgrim Fathers were imprisoned in Boston (the name of which came from St Botolph’s Stone) in Lincolnshire before they set sail for the Americas. Before I went to Boston in 1995, soon after I was born again, and saw where they were imprisoned, I was only aware of them having set sail from Plymouth.

  1. I had found that a road number (374) linked Weybridge with Plymouth:

I first met my husband, John, at a wedding whilst I was working for British Aerospace on the B374 in Weybridge in 1987. And currently work for Compassion UK in Weybridge. In 2009, when planning to go on pilgrimage to Plymouth, I found that the A374 runs through Plymouth. Psalm 37:4 says “Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart”.

I found it interesting that when God led me to Plymouth in July of 2009 a play about Charles Darwin the evolutionist was on at a local theatre in Plymouth, as it was the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth. I went to see it and it was very good, but wrong.

I then found the amazing truth that Plymouth’s motto is Turris fortissima est nomen Jehovah – “the name of Jehovah is the strongest tower”. This is taken from Proverbs 18, which says “The name of Jehovah is a strong tower; The righteous runneth into it, and is safe”, and that made Plymouth even more special to me.

Plymouth Guildhall

Just a week or so ago, from 19-21 May 2015, I was given the opportunity to go back to Plymouth for a GOD TV Celebration in Plymouth Guildhall (over the door to which is the motto:  Turris fortissima est nomen Jehovah – “the name of Jehovah is the strongest tower”).

Since my visit in 2009, God TV (which had its humble beginnings in Hinchley Wood – near where I was living in Kingston upon Thames – in 1995) had bought a former nightclub building in 2013 on the A374 in Plymouth to turn into a Revival Prayer Centre. It seemed to me like just the right place, since I am reminded of Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart” and prayer is about delighting yourself in the LORD.

http://www.god.tv/the-god-tv-team/video/god-tv-updates/revival-prayer-centre-vision

Revival Prayer Centre Plymouth

Whilst in Plymouth I had a look at the outside of this very run-down building in an area of Plymouth dedicated to debauchery, and was reminded that God had restored me from a decadent lifestyle. I believe He will help God TV restore this building and that it will be a place of refuge for those who come to recognise that “sex and drugs and rock and roll” is destroying them.

Smeaton's Tower

I stayed in the same guest house where I had stayed in 2009, across the road from The Hoe. Last year (2014) I had met Rebecca Smeaton when I worked at DDC in Worksop and on The Hoe stands “Smeaton’s Tower”

Plymouth 014

 

On the Magistrates Court I found a mosaic version of the Plymouth coat of arms and motto:

 

 

Plymouth 009After the final evening of the God TV Celebration in the Guildhall, where Andrew Wommack had spoken a good deal about Faith, I wandered along to the waterfront and noticed a boat with that very word on it

 

And, as I was looking at that boat I heard a young man on an “open mike” at a pub across the water singing “Hallelujah”

On returning home from Plymouth, I remembered that one of the ushers I met at the God TV Celebration in Plymouth had said she was part of Riverside or River Church and that one of my colleagues at Compassion is part of a Riverside Church in Devon.

So I looked this up and came across River Church in Plymouth and found it is led by Faye and Scott Gould. I had met Faye and her mother, Sue, on Rhodes in October 2002, when I went on my own on a Master Sun Christian holiday to celebrate my 50th birthday, believing that God would put together a special party of people He wanted to celebrate with me.

I then found that River Church meet in the Guildhall in Plymouth. WOW, that is amazing.

This morning, 31 May, I was looking into the origins of the Plymouth motto and found the following from the Western Morning News:

“Bracken discusses the history of the English Civil War in Plymouth and the issues around Sir Richard Grenville (also known as ‘Skellum’ Grenville) when he changed his allegiance from supporting Parliament to supporting the King. As a Parliamentarian, Grenville was given a commission in the Army and was therefore in a position to access Parliamentarian intelligence. With this knowledge he marched to Oxford and joined the Royalist troops stationed there. Grenville’s actions were seen as an act of treachery by people in Plymouth. This is because Plymouth was held for Parliament against the forces of King Charles I during the whole of the war. After changing allegiances, Grenville wrote a letter to Colonel Gould, commander of the Parliamentarian forces in Plymouth, giving his reasons for ‘his change of front, stating that he was convinced Plymouth was a lost town and without hope of relief’. Gould’s sarcastic letter in reply to Grenville included the line, “The same God is still our rock and refuge”. Hence it is said that the motto was added to the Plymouth town arms shortly after this event to commemorate Gould’s words.

I wonder if God pointed that out to Faye and Scott Gould when He showed them that they should hold church in The Guildhall.

 

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