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The lavish Blessing of love

No matter which part of the world we come from, being a woman brings with it an array of different connotations. In many parts of the world it brings a massive element of shame. Many women are still deemed as second class citizens, others are simply branded inhuman. We see the rise of FGM practices taking place in a number of different countries across the world.  In the west, we are beginning to see a rise of empowerment amongst females. When once told that their voice was insignificant, women are rising up to claim their place in society with a large proportion of men coming alongside us. Does this mean that we simply forget the oppression that has come upon us for many years? I do not believe the past can ever be eradicated, however I am a firm believer in healing for the wounds that have been inflicted. This pain could have been manifested in the way of sexual assault, emotional abuse, manipulation or simply being made to believe that we are in some way inferior. This was never God’s heart for women. He adored women with his whole heart and he has a unique and precious purpose for each and every one of us.

I believe a way in which God gives us this little piece of healing is by empowering us to speak our truth. To go out in to what ever arena we have been called into and release a piece of our heart . We cannot do this without vulnerability. Yes boundaries need to be kept in place but the walls that have been built around our hearts need to come down. I believe only then can true healing begin. 

My recent trip to Myanmar saw some more of this healing take place. I was asked to share at a women’s conference. I must first preface this by saying that some of these women had walked 10 days just to attend. This blows my mind! What an honour and a privilege to be welcomed into this space and to share my heart. As I looked around the room, I was in awe of these precious women. We did not share the same language, we did not even remotely share the same culture but what we could unite on was our femininity. 

I had not prepared a message prior to getting up in front of all these expectant women but my heart had a ton of things ready to spill forth. I wanted these women to know that each an every one of them was created on purpose for a purpose. God had placed in them something so unique that needed to be shared with the world. Some of these women worked in dangerous areas where such things as trafficking and persecution are rife. I wanted these women to know that although helping in these areas is important, beautiful and so very needed. God also cares about the state of their heart. He wants to pour love on them and make sure  they understand the strength and significance that has been placed in them. This is something that I myself have struggled with. I love nothing more than to make someone feel loved . I want the person in front of me to know how special they truly are and the giftings that have been placed inside of them. Nothing gives me more joy than to see someone flourish into the person that they have been created to be. When it comes to my own life, on many occasions, the things i want for others, I fail to acknowledge for myself. I also have to realise that I need to allow myself to be loved and to let my creator God pour this into me. I am so blessed by the people that have been placed around me in this season. People that have gone out of their way to instill in me their love and concern for me. It’s time I start leaning into this so that I can properly love others because here’s the ugly truth. If you don’t allow yourself to be loved  and you do not allow the wounds that are buried so deep to heal, then you cannot truly give out love to those around you in a healthy way.

For me, speaking out this truth in a women’s conference in the far ends of Myanmar was a step towards that healing. I knew God had me in this place for such a time as this. My soul so desires for these women to know how precious they are.To know that they are worth more than diamonds and more certainly worth the time to heal. 

“If you don’t allow yourself to be loved  and you do not allow the wounds that are buried so deep to heal, then you cannot truly give out love to those around you in a healthy way.”

On the other side of this conference, I find myself back in Chiang Mai ( with the correct visa in hand!! 🙂 ready to continue to plug away at all things Salt and Light Coalition. I am still in the process of making those connections and seeking out potential partnerships with other non profits and ministries. It is such a joy to sit down with someone over coffee and share the vision. Sometimes the mountain can seem so big ahead but I have to have faith that things are developing as they should. 

This week I am joined by my beautiful sister and friend Angela, She has been living in Chiang Mai for the past few years with a previous organisation and has decided after much discernment to come alongside Salt and Light Coalition. I am so excited to have her on the team for not only the practical things but also the spiritual support. I couldn’t be any more excited to fly and really begin to see this vision set in motion when she arrives. 

Being under the umbrella of Empower International has been beyond a blessing. Between us we are currently seeking out partnerships and some local thai people to join us. I thank God for their wisdom, insight and encouragement. 2020 is soon upon us and I cannot wait to hit the ground running and be ready to walk into the vision that I have been called into. 

Before we end the beautiful month of November, I am excited to get back to the competition floor and throw some heavy weights around. Alongside all the other exciting things in life right now , I have been honing in on my training ready for the Phuket throwdown. Everything about competing sets my soul on fire. The atmosphere is intoxicating. The community that is created during competition is awesome. People really come together to support and encourage one another. Athletes hitting personal records and getting those first muscle ups. It’s such a joy to be in this atmosphere. There is so much love that goes around the competition arena as we each understand the others pain and struggle. With collective struggle brings unity. 

There is much ahead in this season. With the highs, most definitely comes the lows and i’m in a season where i need to give these lows attention. As mentioned before, I am so honoured by the beautiful souls I am surrounded by to walk alongside me. We were never called to walk this journey alone, we were created to be in partnership whether in marriage or deep friendship.  I am thankful for those friendships far and near. For those precious emails that I receive with words of encouragement. For the sweet hugs i receive on a daily basis. This lets me know that I am never alone and that support is there whenever I need it.

Time to sing a new song

The move has officially been made! After 2 months of touring churches, presenting the vision and spending time with loved ones. One chapter closed whilst another began to unfold. I stepped onto that plane, once again into a sea of unknown adventures. Much prayer and discernment had gone into the past few years and now it was finally time to do the thing.

Towards the end of my time in the UK I think the realization dawned on me. I have absolutely no idea what is ahead of me . This is both an incredibly scary but exhilarating place to be in. There were definitely moments when fear and anxiety tried to over take me , i found this occured in moments of emotional tiredness. I had given a lot of myself whilst speaking on my church visits and I know I did not always take the time to fill myself back up again . Moving forward, this needs to be a high priority.

Landing in Bangkok on 13th September, it was all systems go. After getting over jet lag, I had a fundrasier to plan. Baring in mind that event planning is not an area that I am most experienced in. I was nervous to say the least! I am so blessed to have a community in Bangkok to come around me and love me when i go through these moments of self doubt . I needed those friends during this time. It’s so easy to get in your own head and spiral down the mental rabbit hole pondering on all the things that could go wrong.I beleive that if we stay in this place and dwell on the obstacles, it is the most detrimental to acheiving the goals we have been called to smash. Fear will come and yes it’s important to cover the potental pitfalls but we need to allow ourselves to feel this and step out regardless. When Peter stepped out of boat, the second he took his eyes off Jesus he began to sink. I know we can all identify with this.

The fundraiser wound up to be a beautiful event with some precious women that came together to hear the vision of Salt and Light Coaliton and enjoy a day of wellness. I am thankful for those small beginnings that step by step create the vision that God is calling us to.

The day after my fundraiser it was time to make the final move ( no rest for the wicked ey) Chiang Mai was about to become my home, it was honestly difficult for me to fathom . I never in a million years would have imagined that i would be planted here.

Emotionally, it’s been quite the ride. I have now been here for nearly 3 weeks and my head has been up one moment, down the next.

My prayer was the same prayer I had cried out when moving to Bangkok, “God please bless me with community.” 3 years ago he did this ten fold and once again he continues to astound me with his goodness. The welcome i received was nothing short of special. The people at my new Crossfit gym blew me away with their kindness, as did the people under my new foundation. I have the kind of personality where I will seek until i have found. In Bangkok I rushed to find community pretty fast, it was of great importance to me due to my extrovert tendancies. This time, it came to me. An aray of people have come along side me and poured into me with love and such beautiful kindess. I am forever thankful for those who are already bringing a piece of home to me.

Whilst in Bangkok, my soul yearned for the simplicity of nature. I so desired to walk along greenery and be amongst God’s creation. Now, the second I step out of my door, my eyes are lifted towards the mountain. It’s greatness stands before me and lights up my heart. Back in the UK I took nature for granted, here in this new city I cannot hep but smile at every inch of green i stumble upon. May I never tire of it,

Ofcourse in amongst staring at my surroundings, there is work to be done, over the past two weeks i have found this be done in the form of the Empower Global Leadership Academy. Empower international is the foundation that I planting Salt and Light Coalition under and they are quite simply wonderful. Already, I am seeing how precious the culture is that they have created. I feel a freedom to be my most authentic self. To be open and vulnerable and express my hopes and desires for this ministry. I admire their desire for excellence when working in ministry and allowing Jesus to take the lead in everything they do. The course has already set a fire in my heart and reconfirmed the reason as to why I am here, believe me the doubts still crop up. The enormity of the task takes my breath away at times so being around people who have been there and done that many times over is affirming.

Alongside learning all things leadership, I have spent some time in the gym community, coaching and getting back to the basics as i have been away from the field for a while. My gosh, I forgot the rush coaching gave. The joy it gives me to spend time with people and truly get to know them, both Thai and international, my spirit leaps at the thought of going into that arena, my heart is to get to a place of being able to coach in Thai so that I have more of an understanding moving forward in my work. Cross fit Chiang Mai, sits amongst some of the most beautiful nature, they have a big focus on sustainability and that’s clear to see by the environment they have created. The classrooms in the back of the location are built from old shipping containers and it’s fair to say it looks pretty awesome! .

All in all, I look forward to the future with great anticipation. If there is one thing I am certain of is that God is for me on this. There will be a ton ups and downs. The wins will come but the frustrations will be near. Today as I spent time with God , I was overcome by the scriptures that he brought me to. I came across the story of the prodigal son and it was as if I was reading it for the first time. This gave me time to go back and reflect upon my life and how far the God I serve has brought me. I will never take this for granted. My life has been redeemed , in all of the pain and trauma, God never stopped pursuing me and now it’s my turn to share that love with those I am called to reach. What an honour and a blessing. This brings me to my final scripture of this morning written by King David.

“You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever. Psalm 30 :12

This just about it sums they way i feel. His goodness continues to make me praise him, to give him the glory and to spring me into action.

Thankyou for your continued words of affirmation as i walk out this season of transition and thankyou for your prayers!

Photo credit @holakath

Traipsing through transition

Transition –“  Mid 16th century from French, or from Latin transitio(n-), from transire ‘go across’.” Oxford English Dictionary

It’s fair to say I have entered a period of transition . I have found myself waiting for an exact moment where I feel I have entered this period, but truth be told I’m already in the depths of it. Not a day goes by where a peer doesn’t ask me how I’m feeling about the change or my current state of emotions. I’m never quite sure what the right answer is. It’s almost like I have tried to instil a particular emotion upon myself. I try to imagine the last day of my work here in Bangkok and I’m waiting for the tidal wave of tears to come but if I’m honest none appear. There are days where the reality of the situation doesn’t sink In. There are other days when my soul is so on fire for the next season that I can’t wait for what’s to come.

Today is a day where I find myself being irritated at the slightest thing. I get frustrated at the smallest hint of someone patronising me. This morning I spilt a ton of coffee over myself and I spoke to myself like you wouldn’t speak to your worst enemy. I will profess to taking myself to the toilet, so I could be alone for 5 minutes resulting in giving myself a pep talk to pull myself together. Ever get those days where you can’t quite put your finger on what specifically is bothering you? Perhaps this all falls under the emotional umbrella of “Transition “

In a matter of days, my work here at Nightlight will be done and I shall be heading up to Chiang Mai for a Soul Care retreat. 5 days to spend working through the baggage of the past 2.5 years . I think at times it’s been so easy to keep my head down and get the work done. To pour out to those who I so desperately want to love. To walk into the brothels and ignore the stares of prying eyes. To work with those who have known trauma beyond others imagination and to admit that I am not enough to heal the pain that runs through the veins of those around me. I am merely a broken human who chooses to show up every day and to give myself as a vessel knowing that I cannot rescue, and I cannot save.

Its finally time for me to take these past few years and make some kind of sense of them. I need to put the striving aside and listen out for those words my heavenly father wants to whisper to me “ well done good and faithful servant”  (Matthew 25:21) The painful thing to admit as that sometimes my heart is scared. Scared to sit in the quiet space and here a narrative that tells me that I did not do enough. I could have worked harder. I could have loved more. That voice has constantly hounded me as I have tried to do the work I felt called to do. My soul’s desire for this week of retreat is to shun that voice and to hear the words of my Abba father giving me the permission to lay it all down and to rest.

Rest can be scary because it allows us that space to sit with our emotions. Still to this day, it is a daily struggle for me give myself permission to enter into that space. To let the tears come and to allow myself to be loved. Having battled with a destructive eating disorder, I remember days of sitting in the quiet and letting lies wash over me, telling me that I was not enough, that I need to restrict more, to do more, to be more in order to receive that validation. It was in the silence that the burning temptation to binge would come. Needless to say, those fears still arise from time to time making it  difficult to want to be alone.

I know my God has claimed the victory over the past and he wishes for me to push deep into him before he opens the gate for my next season.

Saying goodbye to those around me was never going to be easy. I am blessed to have made some beautiful friendships in an array of different arenas. My friends in my gym who share a passion to lift heavy things above our heads and climb up ropes in the name of fun. The international and Thai women I have had the absolute joy of watching grow like flowers in the spring. Every day my heart bursts with excitement as I see new skills being learnt and old lies cut clean from their lives. I couldn’t be any prouder of the strength and resilience these women show on a daily basis. Leaving a church that has allowed me to be my most vulnerable self and loved me more than I ever deserve. A church full of people who passionately love the Lord and refuse to be put in a box for their gifts to die. I will forever be grateful to my “church of the misfits” for never apologising for being its true self. Lastly the friends that have a special place in my heart both in and outside of work.  The ones who let me in to their stories, who trusted me enough to let me see the broken parts of them as well as walking with me on my own journey. A journey that has been equal parts painful and joyful. To every person that has graced me with their presence. You have pieces of my heart that are forever yours.

It’s been quite the couple of months as I prepare for what’s ahead and focusing on gaining closure on the present season. I have found myself going into meetings with a feeling of fear. It really is true what they say about “imposter syndrome” I sometimes catch myself playing the leader and wonder what the heck I think I’m doing. As these meetings progress, my soul alights, and I feel on fire for the topics of discussion. As I continue to walk into the places that God has called me I can’t help but feel that childlike excitement. It’s a daily battle to keep that passion bright. It can be just as easy to allow the fear to cripple me. To crawl back into bed and bask in what Brene Brown labels a “Vulnerability hangover” I have to give myself permission to  feel the fear and do it anyway. Its ok to be scared but we cannot give fear the authority in the high places we are stepping to.

When I rewind my thoughts back to the girl who boarded a plane at London Heathrow 2.5 years ago,  Im astounded by the change. I was insecure in the person that stood on the cusp of something beautiful.  I knew God had planted a seed in me that was waiting to burst forth and yet I was so weighed down with pain and lack of knowledge of who God was calling me to be .

There is a tendency to put leaders on pedestals. I spent my life admiring those who were above me and what I’ve come to realise is that when God calls you into a position of leadership he doesn’t take away your weaknesses. He uses you in spite of them. Just like Paul with his thorn in the flesh, I think when we admit we are broken, it’s then that the leadership truly begins.

“It takes humility to name our narcissism, and we’re too married to our image to come clean about how messed up we are. This focus on self strangles authentic confession.

When we at last admit our flaws and failure, we gain a stronger personal center and greater peace.” Leading with a Limp- Dan B Allender

We are far from perfect but that should not stop us from walking into to those places that we know we are called to. We keep on keeping on and agree to love those who we chose to lead, no matter the cost.

I pray that many of you would chose to come on this journey with me because I cannot do it by myself. I need those I love to surround me. To fight for me in prayer and to ask me the difficult questions. I want to walk into this season with those that have the desire to set the world on fire and to stumble along with their mistakes and baggage. Together I know that we can create something truly special

As I transition out of Bangkok, my heart is full that I have strong women like these two ready to meet me up in Chiang Mai ❤

Stepping out of the boat

I have been debating the perfect time to write this blog. I have sent a few emails out to churches that have been following my journey through BMS but have held off on making the news “officially public” I suppose you could say that I have wanted all plans to be perfect and set in stone before  I was able to share such news, however what I am coming to realise is that “perfect” simply doesn’t exist. I do not believe there will be a defining moment where all my planning and preparation has come together enough that everything fits in a neat and tidy box. This really is a case of trusting God each and every day and taking some massive leaps of faith.

This story is by no means linier. As God does, he has been weaving my story together over all the years I’ve been on this planet, I believe even before. In my short life I have treaded upon many different paths. I have made some mistakes that have broken me deep down in my soul. I embarked on a degree and quit university after a short while. I handed out leaflets on the streets of Oxford in a bid to bring people in a club. I adventured across the waters to France in a hope of being a Nanny to 3 beautiful little girls only to find that it wasn’t the Parisian chicness I had anticipated. All these little twists and turns that I had travelled upon would begin to make up the story of Ashleigh Gibb’s life.

This story is by no means linier. As God does, he has been weaving my story together over all the years I’ve been on this planet, I believe even before.

From a young age, sports were my bread and butter. When I was growing up in school I embraced everything that was thrown at me; team sports, athletics, cross country running. All of it lit up my soul. (All of if except Netball, I was told I was little too aggressive for this sport 😉  Over the years as I buried myself in a lifestyle that hid my pain, I turned away from sports. Drinking and parties became the means in which I fuelled my heart, little did I know at the time it was actually destroying me. Later on, as I came to university, I took the gift of exercise that was given to me and I abused it. Coupled with an eating disorder, it became another blanket for my emotions, copious amounts of exercise took over my life.

Moving back from Paris was a big reality check for me. I realised that I was very uncertain about my future. My failings of university hung over me with a voice that told me I was never going to amount to anything.  I had debt from a degree that sat incomplete and void and was unsure about the skills I possessed.

Fast forward a few years and I became a qualified Personal trainer and was thriving in my position. I had gone back to that first love and had found solace in my own healthy exercise routine. I had gone on a journey of healing and was re-learning to love my body for what It could do. I believe that God was showing me that exercise was a gift from him to help with my trauma and to celebrate the body he had blessed me with. This was a body with a lot of emotional scars, but I was learning to see the beauty in it as God’s creation. A verse I will always hold dear to my heat and one that God often reminds me of is found in Proverbs 31 vs 25 “She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future” This was becoming a reality in my life and I wanted other women to have this to.

Being a Personal trainer meant that I had the absolute joy of journeying alongside women who had been though similar things to me. I loved speaking truth and life over these women and encouraging them that their bodies were beautiful and powerful. Empowering women with this truth would always be my life’s mission.  Tucked away in the corners of my heart was a little dream stirring, I wanted to use my passion for training to work with women who were vulnerable, women who had known pain and suffering.  I was yet to know what this looked like.

Proverbs 31 vs 25 “She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future”

You are aware of where life has taken me over the past couple of years. Working with BMS and Nightlight to fight against the injustices that I have seen take place in Thailand has to date been the most difficult work I have ever gone into but exactly the right place in which God has put me in. My heart has been pushed and pulled in ways I could have never imagined and each day I see things that continue to make me weep when I am alone at night. It’s because of this I accept this calling and want to continue with this work until I sense otherwise.

About a year and half ago my best friend and I took a retreat to one of Thailand’s beautiful islands. We had a vision that was stirring deep within us. We wanted to start a gym that reached out to women who had known pain, women who were victims of trafficking or any other form of abuse and we wanted to take them on a journey of wholeness and healing through the means of health and fitness. We believe this is what God was calling us to. Both of us had a passion for training and had similar stories that brought us to together. Our friendship with one another is a gift from God and we knew he had brought us together for a purpose.

A few months down the line I felt a prompting to share my testimony and the vision in church. The scheduled date for me to do this had been changed 3 times but finally had been arranged and I was able to share. Not only did awesome things happen in that service, but a friend of mine approached me and said a friend of hers was walking out this vision in Chicago! She felt it was imperative that I reached out to her. I had a browse and did some research into The Salt and Light Coalition and saw that this ministry was using fitness and wellness as a means of reaching out to victims of Human Trafficking in Chicago.  Upon doing my research my jaw dropped. This ministry was so in tune with my heart and vision, this simply could not be ignored.

After some connection with the founder of Salt and Light, it transpired that she had it on her heart to expand this organisation and asked if I would be willing to partner with her and bring the Coalition to Thailand. This was beyond anything I could imagine. When I say a lot of prayer went into this, I mean A LOT. I was in this battle of thinking that I did not deserve such a dream come true and then the voices that often spoke louder confirming that this path was open to me and I was called walk down it. My biggest concern was how it fit in with the vision with my best friend. She was my soul sister and I did not want to walk away from a dream that God had given us both. Her life story was going in an exciting direction, she was newly wed to an absolute darling of a husband and they were making plans to move to the UK for the next 3 or so years.  We had extensive conversations over this and knew God was calling her to be present in her situation. He was guiding her and equipping her in ways that were far beyond our plans. We knew that we were still to come together, and both still believe that in the future this will happen ❤

I said a big yes to Salt and Light but more than this I said a big yes to God. This truly was to be a leap of faith, it was fair to say that I had no idea what I was doing but I knew that I was to walk forward.

After giving my response, plans and forward thinking began. I was doing my research for how this organisation would work in Bangkok and making connections with other local N.G.Os. A few months later I went on my Home assignment back to the UK. I shared with a few close people what my plans for the future consisted of  and notified churches that God was stirring a plan in my heart. This home assignment was the biggest blessing to me. It was am extremely busy schedule with not much time to rest but it was an absolute joy to tour churches and speak about something I was truly passionate about.

In one of the churches, I visited I gave it my absolute all not only telling of the work in Thailand but pouring out my testimony and with that my heart. After the service two completely unrelated people approached at different times and said they sensed in their spirit that something was about to happen. They both said that God was about to do a new thing in my life but that it did not look like what I had been thinking. I was to watch what he was doing and go with it. Of course I pondered this but did not know what it meant.

Heading back to Thailand within my first weekend back I competed in a CrossFit comp. Last year when I competed in that same comp I was struggling with a lot of things and was still placing my identity in things of the world. I was easily distracted from what God has for me. This year told a completely different story. I am so sure of my identity in Christ and who he says I am.

Something that continues to blow my mind about the God that I serve is that he redeems our biggest downfalls. He turns ashes into beauty. I have watched him do this in my life more times than I can count.  The city in which I felt a sense of shame in would be the place that he was to call me to.  When I returned from Chiang Mai I had an email waiting for me from the owner of Crossfit Chiang Mai asking if I would join his coaching team. He, a fellow Christian had pressed into a deep desire of mine. After informing him about my vison to plant Salt and Light Thailand he asked if there was a way in which we could join together and a potential to use his space.

There is a beautiful verse in Ephesians 20 that says Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”

When we step back from our plans and ego and let God be God, it is stunning the things that take place.

I am still unsure about every detail of how this ministry is going to work but one thing I am certain of is God’s grace and that he can do more than I ever could have dreamed.

There are many logistics still to play out in this as I figure out partnerships and building a team but for now I continue to take things day by day.  I have come to a realisation that there is only so much self-equipping I can do. I have been drowning myself in leadership books and podcasts to make up for the skills I lack. Whilst this is not bad in itself I need to remember who goes before me and who does the real equipping.

I am so blessed to have a solid support system around me who love me as I am. They love me enough to support me in the things I need, and they love me enough to tell me when it’s time to rest, something that has always been a struggle for me.

I am so excited to share this news with you and hope that you chose to stay with me on this bumpy journey as I seek and pioneer. I know that the journey ahead will not be easy but I with great joy and anticipation I am choosing to take my creator’s hand and run with him every step of the way.

With love xx c

Photo credit : RJ. Rojvira

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt

<3Soon to be my new home<3

Walking in my strength

 A month has roughly 30 days give or take. Within that short time span who would know that so much could happen? I feel like that is my life these days, no two days are the same and I’m ok with that. I think things are in a constant state of change and it’s never ok for us to stay in one place. I’m not talking about the life changing moments (although these are great also) but it’s the tiny details of growth that move us toward the person we were created to be. Sometimes these involve moments of great pain through perhaps lessons learnt or saying goodbye to someone or something, it could be a rejection from a person that only actually made us stronger. The moments of growth could also be joyful opportunities. No matter what the circumstance, every part of our journey should be embraced.

I have been back in Bangkok over a week now and an aray of different emotions have been felt. Firstly there was that small detail of jetlag that I had to get over. I always say it never hits me that bad but my sleep was hitting roughly 3 to 4 hours throughout so that didn’t get me off to a great start making my hormones shoot all over the place.

After the initial moments of soaking up time and dinners with friends it was time for me to crack on back to the grind. This is what I love, I love to set goals and hit them. I love to wake up each day and see what God has in store for me. This week I certainly didn’t feel this was the case. I fully expected to hit the ground running but reality brought me swiftly back down to earth. Feelings of anxiety clouded my mind. I was uncertain of what I was doing. I felt a little on the useless side and a lot of my Thai language simply would not come to me in moments I needed it most. It was fair to say I had a few meltdowns in my room each night I returned home. Luckily for a few pals that love me and are good at calling me out when I get ahead of myself I came to the realisation that this week especially, I needed to be kind to myself.  I had to take each day at a time and slow down. It’s important to begin taking everything in and being aware of my feelings. Transitions are never easy no matter what the situation. Staying away from this culture for 2 and half months is a long time! I surely could not rush back in to take on the world so suddenly. By the grace of God my soul is feeling more settled and I am learning to take things a little easier if needed.

It’s been a tremendously busy week with readjusting different parts to my role within my job, getting back into the swing of things, attending an event for women on the street and competing in a CrossFit Competition ( More on this later )

Last Wednesday an event was held for women on the street to come and spend some quality time together to relax. It was a beautiful event held at a hotel and a few hundred attended all with a unique individual story. It was an opportunity to get to know some of the women in the red-light bars and build deeper relationships with ones that we had previously met. Words do not do justice how stunning the night went. Despite being on one of the days when all language had left me, being able to hold hands with these precious women and speak words of truth and life over them was beyond a blessing. To look into the eyes of a girl who comes with a story of shame and rejection and to be able to claim that she is infact a warrior and a child of God is a gift that I do not take lightly. Sometimes when the language of the culture we are living in escapes us all that’s left to do is a smile or a touch which affirms that you see them, you do not see what they see, only beauty in its truest form. Not only this, we got to eat together and pray over them which was a special moment. I know that there have been follow ups with the women we spent time with on that night and I only hope it strengthens and builds deeper relationships for the future.

The following day had me back in the coffee shop where I was able to re-connect with the beautiful women I work with, this is always a joy for me and I enjoy the precious time we get to spend together. Alongside this, outside on the street I had an encounter with a woman who I had an opportunity to have a conversation with. At first, the walls she had placed around herself were high, I didn’t expect her to trust me from the off. Having learnt that I was a Christian she was under the assumption that I wanted to sit and preach to her. This couldn’t have been any further from the truth. I simply wanted to get to know her and her heart. To start, she talked a lot at me, it was clear that she wanted that wall to stay put between us but after a while and a few questions later , she began to show little pieces of herself. What I saw was something quite special. A woman that had had so much taken from her. It was obvious that this had cost her heart an expensive price. When we see someone that has been broken into tiny little pieces, it can be quick and easy to dismiss that person, especially when that person lashes out at us or is not quick to receive our love. It takes time and energy to invest and it most definitely requires us to give a piece of our heart, this can be where the problem lies. We can be so scared to give our hearts to the broken because there is a risk that it will break ours, but one thing I have come to learn is that whilst boundaries are of vital importance, we cannot hope to shine light in a broken world if we are not willing to take a risk and love radically. I serve a God that showers me daily in his love so that I might be willing to share this with those around me. I hope, and I pray that I will have the opportunity to meet with this girl on the street again.

With everything going on in the week it was time to round it all off with some heavy weights and a whole lot of fun! I attended The Thailand Throw down which was an opportunity to compete in the sport I love most- CrossFit. Battling jet lag and just returning from the UK had me thinking that this perhaps was not the best things to do, but I know there was absolute purpose in me being there. I cannot express how much fun I had being around some incredibly special people who both push and inspire me. If you want to meet some of the most determined, smiling, strong people you simply must come and watch a CrossFit comp!

Not only was there a ton of fun to be had but this year meant something a whole lot different to me. At last year’s competition, I was a different person. My identity was trapped in the wrong things, I defined myself with fitness and affirmation from all the wrong places. My mind was a whirlwind and I did not understand that this was a gift and blessing from God. I abused it and it took me to a dark place. This year could not have been any further off the spectrum. I went in to this with pure gratitude that God has given me a strong body that he wanted me to use for his glory. I took times to be alone before workouts to reflect on just what a joy it is to be able to move and move well. Every workout was a testimony to this, even the skills that I struggled with.  During the day I spent a lot of time in prayer and just thanked him for everything that he has blessed me with. God doesn’t care what position I come In. What he cares about is the state of my heart and if I am kind to people. Am I giving attention to the person in front of me?  Am I loving well? I was able to be fully present during this weekend and God blessed me by taking  3rd place on the podium. I had not checked the leader board the whole weekend, so It was a total surprise and it filled my heart with so much joy. Ultimately, the position in which I came was irrelevant, but my biggest achievement was my mindset and the calmness that swept over me. I felt a peace and an excitement that was not there last year and that is something worth celebrating.

These ladies were an absolute joy to be around ❤

The Pain of Transformation

“We should not judge people by their peak of excellence; but by the distance they have travelled from the point where they started.”
Henry Ward Beecher


After months of anticipation I am now in full swing of my home assignment. I never would have envisioned that time would simply pass by in a flash. I can’t believe we are already saying saying hello to december. Each day I have embraced, has been an absolute joy. It’s been filled with blessings upon blessings and opportunities to tick things of the list as well meeting some of the most beautiful people. Before coming back to England, I prayed that God would do some big things and stir some hearts, as always, he never fails to show up.  

I wanted to touch upon a few things in this blog, after speaking with a best pal over a cup of Yorkshire tea in the country side and having the opportunity to share my heart I realised that many a subject were brewing in my heart (I promise, no pun intended here!) Firstly, I want to address the pain of transformation. Something that has come to my attention since being back, is the many comments in regard to how much I have changed. It’s fair to say that there is truth in this. . I have a new strength in me that I didn’t know was there before. I have a fire and a love that calls me into action and I feel lighter. This is slightly harder to explain but the piles of emotional damage and baggage just don’t seem to be there anymore.


Of course you can’t change your past and to some extent it will always be a part of you but something that God has taught me is to own my story

He can use it to bring joy and encouragement to other people’s lives. Previously I lived with a victim mentality. I felt I was valid in my poor actions towards myself and other people because of the experiences that I had gone through. There were times when I couldn’t see behind my own pain but now I want to use these stories for God’s glory.

Embarking on this journey has not been without pain and a lot of seeking. I think many can testify to this is their own lives.


A lot of our growth comes from some , of our biggest struggles


What I have come to realise is that in our deepest sufferings we have that inner desire to want to give up, but chances are we could be on the brink of a breakthrough, it’s in these times that we shouldn’t throw in the towel. Yes, we need to rest and have so much grace for ourselves, but we keep going even if we have to crawl.

Before coming back to the UK, I had some debrief counselling to break down the past 2 years of my time in Thailand. One thing I have absolutely come to realise is a lot has happened. Some small, some big. As I took a long hard look at this timeline, my councillor wanted to me to reflect upon any patterns that had emerged. As I pondered, something struck me right in the heart, it was clear as day.

My biggest breakthroughs had taken place after some of my biggest mistakes

This actually blew me away. As I looked over all the events that had taken place, I could see that it was in my striving for perfection that things were stagnant. My mistakes had been part of my growth, it was out of my weaknesses that I could see God’s strength and could begin to understand the concept of grace. When I go through moments of pushing until exhaustion, I am doing things in my own strength. Trying to be the best athlete., trying to change the world, eating 100 percent “clean” trying to be the perfect friend, daughter, missionary. It never ever seemed to work. I have learnt that when we relax, take a breather, learn from our mistakes and be kind to ourselves, God shines through us.

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to raise a deaf world” C.S Lewis

I suppose what I am trying to say in all of this is never be ashamed of the journey you’ve travelled. Don’t let your story define you and always try and see beauty in chaos.

We really are in quite an exciting time. Now more than ever people are discovering their voices and they are not afraid to speak out. I can see that it’s making people uncomfortable. More recently we are seeing such things take place as the “ #Me-too movement. Women, I believe have had about enough and they want to speak out. Can we can even begin to condemn? I don’t think so.  All around I am surrounded by some of the most incredible women who have been through stuff we couldn’t even imagine. Their strength and resilience astounds me. I am excited to see the sheer volume of women sharing their truth. It takes a big step of faith to reach out and be vulnerable. People won’t always accept your truth but that’s the thing isn’t it. It’s not theirs to accept. Gender equality cannot be achieved if we don’t all work together and speak about the hard stuff. It requires men and women to work ceaselessly in supporting one another and stepping out, even if it costs you a thing or two.

It’s been an absolute privilege to be able to tour round various churches and to share what has been going on in Thailand, both in myself and for the women that I am there to serve. In some churches I have been very open about my journey and the fire I have had to come through. It’s been nothing short of scary bearing my soul and yet it’s been so entirely necessary as I know that I wouldn’t have ended up involved in the work I do unless I had gone through certain situations.  We would not have got to B without A and it’s a journey I will own. I will not let shame dictate the rest of my story.

Let’s continue to be bold, let’s sit in vulnerability and use our pain to reach out to others who’s present was once our past.

Reflections from a Cynic..

“Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies. Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She brings him good not harm all the days of her life”

Proverbs 31:10-12

This verse cropped up on numerous occasions the day of Kevin and Lily’s wedding, confirmlove_heart_white_and_simple_grandeing truth and an understanding among the people that were to witness this beautiful event.

It’s fair to say that this wedding has stuck in both my heart and mind since the day it took place. There has been a spring in my step and lightness in my eyes as I explain to people the events that took place. One could almost be mistaken to believe it was in fact my wedding day. Ofcourse, it was not to be but watching your soul sister walk down the aisle with the person that she had spent years praying for, well that’s a pretty momentous occasion.

I felt a stirring to write about this wedding. After nearly two years of working alongside people enslaved by the sex industry, my heart had taken a battering when it came to the topic of love. I have seen and heard the word love thrown around so easily. I had witnessed the devastating effects of sex being cheapened to half hour stints, girls being told they are beautiful and in the next glance rejected for not being sexy enough. Forgive me for the cynic in me had begun to resurface.

My season of singleness has been the biggest blessing to me. It’s been more necessary than I can begin to tell you. For the first time in many years, to the world I was walking solo. In my heart I was journeying side by side with Jesus, falling back in love with my creator. He has been pursuing my heart for many years but only since moving to Thailand had I begun to truly give myself over. With that comes a certain amount of growth coupled with pain and blessing.  I have found an inner strength in me that I didn’t know existed. I am secure In the person that God is calling me to be and I certainly know my worth. Because this journey has been a long and difficult one, it’s very easy to embrace that “independence” and begin to turn away from the idea of love with another man.  I have the most beautifully fulfilling friendships that keep me going from one day the next.

When I look around, I don’t always see a model example of love, I see people close to me drowning in broken marriages and relationships. I see people choosing to opt for playing a game with a prospective partner instead of being vulnerable and opening their heart. I see girls questioning their worth when they are rejected by men they envisioned a future with and I see cash handed over for 30 minutes of pleasure. Could I give up on love just as easily?

Perhaps God knew the thoughts clouding my mind because those thoughts were smashed into tiny pieces when I watched my best friend’s wedding. Like me, lily had witnessed just as much pain all around her, it was easy for her to give up on love and yet here she was standing at the Alter proclaiming a lifelong commitment to be Mrs Naiqama.  As they made their vows to each other and danced t


heir first dance, the love that was felt between them permeated the whole room. Despite being a writer, I struggle to put this into words. I will never forget the stolen looks between them and the tears that were shed from Kevin as he first set eyes on his wife to be walking down the aisle.

From the moment I woke up for my Maid of Honour duties to the time I lay my head down to rest, I was a crying wreck with the pinnacle being during my speech to the new couple. God was speaking nothing short of a few things to my heart. Fir

stly, love comes in all different forms. I saw in the bond between Kevin’s family and I felt it my heart for My best friend. Secondly, it was time to believ

43879427_10161054570480247_5352416642598961152_n(1)e in Love again. Not lust, not brokenness but actual wholehearted love. I may not be granted the desire of my heart for a husband, especially not a rugby playing, bearded, funny Christian guy 😊 but I can ask, and I can still hope and believe that no matter what, my God wants the absolute best for me. Nothing more, nothing less. Despite all of this, the biggest reminder always being, that there is no greater love than someone giving up their life for me on a cross. This surpasses every dream and every desire that is within me.