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Who do you say I am?

 

In our hearts and our heads, we are usually facing some form of battle. A internal struggle if you will. After weeks, months and possibly even years of processing and trying to figure it all out, what I have learnt, and am attempting to rest in is that it all comes down to Love. When I use this word, I don’t mean to use it lightly. If we truly understood the importance of love and especially God’s love for us I believe the problems and emotions we fight with, that emptiness that can drown us, would be overcome.

If we fully understood how wide and how deep the fathers love is, our souls would be beaming, we would shout it from the rooftops and I am almost certain that it would annihilate the concept of fear. As a result, we would walk so boldly into the person that we were created to be.

“We move forward with the strength of a king. Our strength comes from God. “

I am in a season where God is speaking big things over my life, I have been asking him for a lot and asking that none of this falls outside of his will, so far he has blessed me!

Like every journey we navigate through in life, at some point along the way a mountain will slam so aggressively in front us that it seems almost impossible to pass through, how do we react when we find out that God has placed those giants in our pathway? Why does he  do this? I have come to believe that he does this because he knows we have come to a place in our lives where we are more than ready to tear down those giants. Being ready does not warrant that it  an easy journey. At this point it’s imperative to remember just who we stand with. We do not tackle these road blocks alone. We move forward with the strength of a king. Our strength comes from God.  We must remember that he did not bring us this far in our journey just to drop us. That problem that we’ve been dealing with, that credit card bill, a broken marriage, lack of self-esteem, this is but a speck in the water for God. That being said, he wants it gone. He wants it to be eradicated from our lives so we can full-fill our purpose that he set for us from the beginning of time.

“Am I trying to win the approval of human beings or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people I would not be a servant of Christ “Galatians 1vs10

My battle and my enemy has taken up too much space in my life. I have come to a place where God is telling me he desires for me to move forward, to do this I need to deal with the distractions that are holding me back. This subtle little enemy that likes to creep up on me is called “Approval Addiction” Yes, Its real and my gosh can it be destructive. This is an issue that I have struggled with for years, for years it has tried to hold me back and can I tell you something? … it is exhausting and quite frankly, it’s a sin. It’s a sin because it places other people’s opinions of me higher than God’s opinion.

After having done some research I came across this definition which puts things into perspective perfectly.

“Our human need for bonding goes a little haywire. This especially true when you continuously look to others for approval, even to the point of becoming addicted to what other people think about you. Approval addiction is defined as an intense desire to win the approval of those around you and to avoid feelings of rejection at all costs. “ – Perfectknow.com

Looking at this definition you can clearly see how this would become an issue. It’s dangerous for our heart and our souls. As God’s word is a gift to us to meditate over, I felt so blessed and challenged when he spoke this verse over me “Am I trying to win the approval of human beings or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people I would not be a servant of Christ “Galatians 1vs10

If we are not settled in our identity as children of God then what are we choosing to believe? What are we conforming to ? What are our souls thirsty for? I can testify to the fact that nothing will ever quench that thirst if we are living for the approval of other people. What happens when a bout of criticism comes our way? What happens to our heats then? It becomes one giant emotional roller-coaster and it is beyond exhausting. Imagine a situation where a dream has been birthed in your heart, A dream that has been put their especially for you to activate.  Are we only to pursue said dream if the people around us validate it? What happens if God so clearly gives you the go ahead but the peers around you mock you and claim your dream is worthless?

Rejection is the root that buries deep within these situations. Many have experienced this from the moment they were brought into this world, others throughout their childhood and most experience the hideous pain of rejection when they approach their adult lives. Toxic relationships are a breeding ground for fear of rejection leading onwards to approval addiction, it’s a trap that many of us fall into, we then become fearful to ever confront or disagree when problems arise. We lack the ability to stand up for ourselves or to express the dream that is buried deep in our hearts. Would we have this fear if we knew even a speck of how much God loves us and the extent of which he is for us?  He wants to see us flourish and he wants us to feel joy, joy at the person we are becoming, joy at the things he has called us to. No matter what we do his love has no limits. How does this even begin to compare to human approval? All of us are on the same level of humanity, we are all broken and we certainly all have faults so why do we give people the authority to define our worth? Somewhere along the line something got mixed up. This was never intended for us.

All of us have been graced with weaknesses but it tends to be that these are the areas in which God uses us most. We are so focused on letting everyone around us tear us down because of these weaknesses that we miss God’s purpose.

“But he said to me, my grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness, therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest in me” 2 Corinthians 12:9

This verse astounds me. It’s fair to say that Paul hit the nail on the head. He knew where his identity was placed. He was so confident in God’s love for him that he learned to embrace his weaknesses because when we hand these weaknesses over to God and not to the world, God can do amazing things through them and then can bless the people around him, more than you could ever begin to comprehend. Give them to the world and it will tear you apart. You are effectively letting the world define you.

In a world where social media is ever evolving, now more than ever are we seeking our worth from the wrong sources, of course there is nothing inherently wrong with social media but how we react to it and how much we let it speak in our lives therein lies the problem.

I am on a journey like the rest of us, it means I couldn’t be any further from perfect but every day I Wake up it is imperative that I spend time with my creator, that void must be filled by him otherwise I will let unhealthy habits filter in. That space was only ever meant for God. Many of us are chasing after things that will validate us, that could be toxic relationships, sex, drugs, excessive alcohol or food. Whatever the thing is we are using, it will not suffice. God is waiting for us to open our hearts and let him speak life, love and joy into them.

“But he said to me, my grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness, therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest in me” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Loving through the loss

 

love_heart_white_and_simple_grandeLeaving the country you were born and raised in for new horizons has quite simply got to be one of the most challenging, rewarding and yet beautiful things I can say I have done to date.

When you leave the familiar of your comfort zone for pastures new there is no telling of the adventures that lay ahead. Sure, you have a vague idea of what life may look like, a preconceived idea of how the job may be or such mundane things as the weather conditions. You do not however know of the life that is about to slap you in the face, push and pull you in every which way, test you way beyond what you think you can endure and at times tear you apart. Nothing in the world prepares you for this. That is why we brand it the unknown and why very few venture in to it.

The places that God has taken me are places I would have never envisioned little old me would be a witness to. I am the first to admit that throughout my life God has thrown me many a life line. On such occasions I have ignored said life line and gone the way in which I think is easier. A more softer way if you will. These is a reason I like to call these decisions mistakes, it was only until I was in far too deeply  did I realise that these probably were not my smartest life choices, but as always, those life lines just kept coming, God kept loving, kept pursuing. I would be far from surprised if God’s patience had worn thin on me. That as we know is not quite in his nature. When packing up and leaving for Thailand became another one of those life lines I decided to dive in and for once chose a way in which was honouring to God.

Read back on my previous blog posts and you will see that God has been faithful. When choosing to be obedient to the things he has asked of me a new world began to open. I began to view things through different lenses, my heart opens more and more every day. Opening our hearts is almost certainly a risk. It makes us prone to vulnerability however it is commanded of us. The choice to keep our hearts closed will result in us not grasping the endless blessings that God has for us. Not only this but we are therefore consciously choosing to not be a blessing to others.

When we open our heart, we let people in to those close bits that are sometimes uncomfortable to show, we share our dreams, our passions, our desires, we let people see the weaker side to us. I had spent years not allowing that side to be seen. I put up a solid wall, I intended to be untouchable and I’m sure that anyone who looked close enough could see that it was an act. What it came down to was loss and the desire to prevent that from ever happening to me again but if there is one thing we are promised it’s not that. When we give our hearts, we will experience loss but we also gain something very special and that  is love.

I am no stranger to loss, throughout my 27 years I have experienced it first-hand. I was brought into this world by two parents and lost one of them. As well as this I lost a step mummy an uncle,  a gran and a friend.  Loss via death is a loss like no other. We then come on to the loss of ourselves. We lose our purpose, our dignity and our faith. Then ofcourse I am familiar with the loss of relationships, relationships that were broken or were taken away from me because God knew my worth better than I did. Sometimes loss is necessary, we must be willing to lose in order to give birth to new things and I have found that God tends to blow your mind with the things that he will replace them with.

At present I am experiencing the loss of people that pop in and out of this transient life style. It happens to be as common as anything when you choose the life of an expat. There are two choices in this and I have tried both approaches. Our first choice is to hold back, close yourself off from feeling, from giving people the opportunity to hurt you. Certainly, this could work but by this we are cutting ourselves off from a whole beautiful world of blessings. This brings me on to the second option. We let people in, we give them the chance to see the real us, we love them and we let them love us back. Yes, this is messy, yes this can be complicated and yes you could get your heart broken but it’s an option that God promises you will not regret.

In the span of a 16 months I have had to say goodbye A LOT. People come for a day, people stay for years, no matter their duration of Bangkok living I have had to say goodbye and yes even to this day, it continues to suck. Ofcourse there is an element of guarding your heart but God created me to be a highly relational being, as many may know I love people, like REALLY LOVE THEM. I find it incredibly difficult not to go all in and do you know what, once upon a time ago I would have scorned myself for doing just that but today I learn little by little to celebrate this part of me.

Two days ago I said goodbye to a team that came on board with our organisation for 6 weeks. Such a short time span in the grander scheme of life and yet I gave my heart and didn’t expect the closeness and beauty I would find with these people on an individual level. Each member of this team taught me something different. One girl affirmed me and who I was created to be, she ensured me that it is ok to ask God for our deepest desires, another brought me to tears with the sound of voice when she sang. One couple modelled a beautiful design of marriage and showed me what couples look like on the mission field. Lastly, I was shown what a strong man of God truly looks like.  A man that walks so boldly in the incredible gifts and talents that God has given him. His personality was infectious and beautiful.

People are sent to us for seasons of our life. Some are meant to stay the course of a life time, others pop in and out but no matter what we are called to love in the absolute best way we know how and if practiced and exercised in the correct way it is an incredibly beautiful design for life.

BLOG LOVE HARDER

When I ponder over the topic of loss I think about women I have met who are either active in the sex industry or have made an exit. They know what it truly means to experience loss and rejection on a level that some of us may never understand. Customers come to them sometimes for a mere hour, some are taken on as regulars but eventually they all leave, this cycle is continuous, could you even begin to imagine what this does to the human heart? They, more than anybody need to feel a love that is so true and so pure. If it takes my whole life time to get to as many people as possible who are trapped in this cycle then so be it. I want my love to be given to people and for them to know that through my brokenness I see them, I understand them and I do indeed love them.

Create in me a clean heart

The month of March has swiftly taken me from one season to another, primarily from mobile to immobile. As many know I was blessed with a fractured big toe. How strange that I would use the word “blessed”. Had I of written this piece a couple of weeks ago I would have expressed an entirely different set of emotions. I have been taken on a seemingly different journey which has given God an opportunity to do some deeper work in me.

blog april 2

Back with my sister in Christ ❤ 

Funnily enough a mere 3 weeks ago I asked God to take away anything  I was relying on that wasn’t him. Any idols of sorts that I had used in my life which put a block In between me and the love of my father. I have come to realise that we really ought to be careful what we prayer for because we just might get it. When we ask for this are we truly aware of the request we wish to be granted? It is imperative that we learn that this could potentially be the start of a very difficult and painful journey.  If we understand this then by all means but ensure that we work with God and people around us that have been put in place to help us with this journey.

Being unable to walk properly meant ofcourse that I could not fulfil my ordinary work duties and could not exercise at the same level I was previously doing so. Two components which are very dear to my heart. After the initial accident (Only Ash could drop a barbell on her toe) I found myself laying in bed under the influence of a lot of painkillers venturing on a path of tremendous self-pity. I felt like I was useless. I had nothing to give during this season of injury. I felt restless and frankly quite bored. I am so used to running around from 5.30 am to 10:00pm, I am the definition of active and yet here I was horizontal without a barbell in my hand. Try as I might I just could not pray. It was as if a fog had been placed over my mind. The only voices that coursed through me were that I had nothing to give and that I had let down the people around me. In my mind I had failed.

When you’ve nothing to do there is only one place to run and that is into the arms of Jesus. He wants to shower us with his love and kindness and he also has a thing or two to tell us in regard to our current situation. This time he had more to speak to me about where else I had been placing my identity. My testimony is a beautiful story of love, redemption and freedom from placing my self-worth in worldly pleasures and the wrong people, I do however still have some work to do. It is clear that I still attach a lot of my identity to my work and being an athlete as well as  a big concern for body image. I have been meeting with some trusted friends in my team and church to pray with and letting them fight for me and love me. In this season of rest God is teaching me so many things, the main take away still stands to be that we are children of God and nothing can change that, he does not look to our outward appearance or performance, he looks at our heart.

blog april

Before I had the joy of breaking my toe, Nightlight welcomed a very busy month in March with a large focus on International Women’s day. A wonderful day in the calendar which focuses on celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women. We took to the streets with gift bags containing sweets, makeup and cards with affirming words on. Not only this but we set out with the intention of inviting women working on the street to our Medical Clinic. I have mentioned this in a previous blog post but just clarify that our clinic is held quarterly and is an opportunity for women to come and have their sexual health tested alongside any other concerns they may have. This time we welcomed in a good mix of Thai and international women. On this evening we also hold a little gathering place upstairs in our outreach centre as a place where the women can come and hangout and have their nails done whilst waiting to see a doctor. It’s a beautiful chance to get to know the women’s hearts and just be in their presence. I was fortunate to spend a good 45 minutes with a Thai girl called * Lu. She sat and did my nails and we just got to share with each other some things we were going through. I was able to give a little insight into my past whilst listening to a portion of her story. It was beautiful and I am so glad God blessed me with that moment.

Mid March I had the huge blessing of being able to take some time off and attend the Hill song Colour Conference for women and I can truly say it really was one of those Mountain Top moments where God spoke to me so very clearly. It set a new fire in my heart and spoke vision over me. It was in this moment that I knew that God was calling me to give my life for women who do not have a voice. I’m too far gone to back out now. My heart is too invested to simply walk away.  It was around this time that I made that slightly too bold a statement of asking God to take away any idols in my life. What we sometimes don’t realise is that we are called down from the mountain top and commanded to take action. We can’t simply live our lives on the mountain top with that warm fuzzy glow around us. We must roll up our sleeves and get into the trenches whether that includes fighting for social justice, feeding the hungry or simply forgiving a friend for the hurt they caused you. We are called to live out the things that are put on our heart, it’s a daily sacrifice and takes us to stop and just be open to what God is doing in our lives. Little, tiny steps of obedience

april 3

Hillsong Colour Confrence- “We are vision carriers and Armour bearers

As we step boldly and brightly into April, I look forward to many things. I am excited to get back into my usual work routines once my foot has recovered and I look forward to welcoming a new team from YWAM Australia who are coming to help with the ministry. They will be brightening up our Live Music Friday’s and bringing some fresh voices amid the darkness. We are so grateful when people wish to come and share their gifts with us at Nightlight.

Some of the girls and I at Nightlight have been praying over our Outreach and how we can best meet the needs of the woman and what it means to truly meet them where they are at.  How can we model the way Jesus met with people back in the gospels? At the end of the day that’s what’s it’s all about. We want to love in the absolute best way that we can.

For all who pray I would absolutely appreciate some prayer at this time-

  • Over healing of my foot and that I wouldn’t be a silly billy and rush through life. I am learning to take things a little slower.
  • Pray for all the women that came to our Medical clinic, I want them to know that we see them and they are valued no matter their medical conditions or the life they are currently living.
  • We need fresh perspective over our outreaches and how we approach women on the street. What does this look like? Breathe new life into our outreaches.

Thankyou and God bless

 

 

A Celebration of Femininity

 

Countless articles, blogs and books have been written on this, I know, I am so aware. All coming at this topic from an array of different angles and yet I felt I needed to add a contribution. Out of all the things I write about, ponder over, discuss, it all comes down to this, being a woman and understanding what this means for me and millions across the globe. It means something different to me compared to what it means for a woman living in India. It means something different to me than it does for the women in the Old Testament and yet we were all created by the same God in his image for a purpose, I think this alone gives me a right to speak up.

 

I am 26 years of age. I am sat in a chic café in Chiang Mai with my laptop sipping on a hot americano. I am free. I have the ability to make choices. This of course is based upon the obedience of the God I love so much. Many women in this world do not get these choices in their lifetime. They are bound. Their life is merely determined by the voice of a man. Choices involving their education, marriage, religious preferences and indeed even their body have been stripped away from them. I have no idea how it feels to have that choice taken away from me on such a level. I do indeed have my own experiences of rejection and evil thrust upon me purely because I am a woman. I know how it feels for the traits of my personality to be completely null and void through the eyes of man, only my body being the object of interest. I know how it feels to have the choice of what happens to my body taken away from me. Opposite to this I know how it feels to use my body as a tool when feeling like I have nothing else to offer.

pia feminity

We can laugh because we are free! I am so proud of everything these two women are and are yet to be. Their smiles are the light to my day and their beauty runs deep.

I have been in and out of church since I was a little girl. I began to take my faith seriously as I grew into my late teens with a bumpy ride right through my 20’s. Nonetheless a place where a person expects to feel safe and walk wholeheartedly into their purpose is indeed the church. However, many establishments have failed on this part all simply because of being a woman. Now I am not here to tell fellow Christians that their interpretation of the bible is incorrect, I simply have no intention of doing so however I know how Jesus communicated with woman. I have seen him draw a line of protection in front of the adulteress woman (John 8vs 1-11). I have seen him allow a prostitute to worship and kiss his feet. I have seen him approach a woman at the well who was divorced as many times as she married, he spoke nothing but truth and freedom over her. Alongside all these things I have let him cradle me in his loving arms and carry me through the most heart wrenching and difficult situations. I have felt him call me across the waters to speak life into woman in prostitution. I have heard him call me into a gym with 130kg on the bar and whisper into my ears with a smile “lift it” and yet.. I am woman. A daughter of Christ. I never saw Jesus discriminate and yet across the world we see the shocking effects of hatred towards this particular sex.

blog feminity

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” Proverbs 31vs 11

Every day in my ministry I encounter woman who have to deal with the fact that because they are a woman their choices have been taken away from them. And yet what do I see? I see warriors fighting to stay a alive. I see woman from Uganda with bright shining eyes, with a strength and determination that comes from facing abuse and discrimination every single day. I want to celebrate these women and so does God and yet many of the world’s population doesn’t wish to partake. They wish to strip them of their voice and of their choice.

It is not merely down to the hands of other woman to fight this injustice. God cries out for his children. He wants people to take a stand no matter what the cost and no matter the gender. Men and women must work together. It is imperative that both sexes honour one another. We cannot go through life thinking that we are so different that it’s pointless every trying to obey one another. We are so quick to tear one another down. So quick to disrespect one another that we forget that we were called into partnership, whether in marriage or friendship. God put us on this planet for a purpose and that involves building one another up. Men and women were indeed created differently but those differences are beautiful and complement each other.  It’s time that we stood up for this and celebrated both male and female alike.

I came across this beautifully written article In “Propel woman” and believe it sums things up just perfectly: “And all the while, the One who made her is calling her back, still walking in the garden of her heart in the cool of the day and saying, “I am with you.” He offers what she longs for most—for him to tell her who she really is, to whisper in her ear that he has made her funny and wise and strong and brave. That she is tender and resilient and complex and wonder-filled. She is mystery and unveiling. She is salty tears and the sweat at the finish line and the lioness in the corner office and lullabies in the night. She is not an afterthought; she has been an essential part of the plan all along.- Propel woman”

Woman were never intended for this earth as an afterthought. One in which is good for procreation and nothing else. We are beautiful warriors meant to fight in the battle that we like to call life.

For years, I showed myself such a level of disrespect. I did not see my beauty and grace as a woman. I tried to pretend I could act just as a man could. Feelings that were untouchable. I couldn’t. Pretending got me nowhere. I failed to understand that everyone’s feelings can be hurt no matter the gender. I needed to embrace what it meant to be a woman and walk without shame.

Before I began to write this piece, I spent some time in prayer hence feeling inspired to create this. I felt a sense of relief. I am beauty from ashes. No matter what turbulent battles I have had to fight. God has brought me through them. I am pure. I have spent a large portion of my life speaking negative words over myself. Looking at myself with utter disdain because of the mistakes I had made. God has not and never will look at me like this so what right do I have to tear myself down? The bible tells me that I am “Fearfully and wonderfully made “ (Psalm 139:14)This applies to me and every other person so today let’s celebrate our femininity and give all praise and Glory back to the creator.

 

fearfully and wonderfully

“God is enraptured by the inner beauty of your true self”

An Expression of love

I had heard the stories and anticipated a picture In my mind, but nothing would prepare for the emotions that God was to stir up in me when I visited the IDC. This is Bangkok’s Immigration detention centre. If you have overstayed your visa or been involved in any level of trouble you will find your self-locked in this place. One could almost compare it to a cattle market. Many women who have found themselves in prostitution have ended up here. Many are victims of Human trafficking, yet made to feel like a criminal locked up in this institution. Currently as it stands, there are a large amount of African woman contained within the IDC. We have made it our mission in Nightlight to visit these woman in order to see if we can assist them in their case. No matter what we can and cannot do, it is imperative that these women get a visit otherwise they are forgotten by the rest of society.

We have half an hour in which to spend time with the woman, when I write here “spend time” please understand that all the prisoners are behind a fence with a large gap in between us and them. We are cramped together with other visitors and the only way in which to communicate is to scream across said gate, this is it, this is all we can do. There is a large chance that most of our communication is missed, words are lost somewhere into the abyss. Never before has eye contact and sign language been more important.

daughter suster

The room itself is sweaty, airless even. The oppression is heavy but oh to be able to take ourselves and show up, the importance of letting these women know that t we love them and that we are for them.  If any person in IDC does not receive a visit then they are unable to leave their rooms in which they share with many other” prisoners” The whole situation shatters my heart and yet the second I walked into this building I knew that God had me there for a purpose.

Last week I entered the IDC to visit *Tracy* However difficult it was to hold a full conversation I was able by the grace of God to pick up bits and pieces. I was able to encourage her and let her know that she would be in my prayers and that I will fight for her.

Upon leaving the IDC I broke down in tears. It is not uncommon in this ministry for me to shed tears for the woman and the situations I am faced with, however I have been given strength to deal with whatever is placed in my path. I couldn’t understand why this particular incident affected my very core. I did have a chance to pray and to process that day and after much deliberation have come to realise that my Love languages play a huge part in this. I am unsure as to if any of you have read Gary Clarke’s book “The 5 Love Languages” or even perhaps taken the test, if not I would highly recommend it. None the less, my two top Love Languages are Words of Affirmation and Touch. This is how I express my love to people and how I feel most love when receiving from other people. In the IDC, I am very much unable to express these. On outreach I can near enough fully indulge in these in an appropriate way however in the IDC this is just not possible. I had to try and communicate my love via the method of screaming. When leaving the building I had so much love locked up in my heart for this woman and I was unable to express it according to my love language. This is definitely an area I will need to come to terms with and work through but I just knew that I adored seeing the smile on *Tracey’s* face when she knew she had a visitor.LOVE LANGUAGES

I would most certainly appreciate prayer for continued IDC visits, we currently have a lot of woman to visit as the issue of Human trafficking continues to develop here in Bangkok.

IDC is a new addition for me as I enter into 2018. My 1 year anniversary has officially dawned upon me  and I am so ready to take on this next year. God has restored me via rest over the Christmas Period, we are on a continuing journey of understanding the importance of Sabbath. This is a commandment I thought was optional for me and i began to pay the price.  This year the Lord is speaking times of rest over me so I am able to continue to walk boldly in the calling that he has placed over my life.

The start of the New Year meant of course it was time for the Nightlight Staff retreat. I cannot stress how beautiful this was. A time of fellowship, prayer, goal setting and child like fun (yes, we splashed in waterfalls without shame! 😊 2017 saw a lot of struggles for us all. There was a lot of pain and trauma to work through but we did it together as a family and we have come out stronger on the other side.

 

me and irene]

i am forever blessed by the people that God put’s around me to love and be loved.

 

On the Last morning of our retreat our Pastor had us write out Thankyou notes to God which was a beautiful expression of our praise and thanksgiving.  I have placed an extract below:

“ I thank you God that you look to as  your sons and daughters and that you use each of our stories for your glory and for us to be able to pour out love to every women we encounter. I thank you that when you called me to this team, you called me home”

quote matt baker

People are never as they seem. Always take the time to look a little deeper

I am not saying that 2017 was an easy year for me. It transpired to be one of the most painful, emotional, beautiful and exciting years and I thank God, every single day that he has called me here and that he continues to take my hand each day and walk with me on this journey.

Prayer Points for a new year:

-Protection and encouragements for IDC visits

-I have been asked by the woman to start fitness classes for them on a weekly basis. HOW AWESOME!! Please pray that we can fit this in and that I am able to show them the beauty of health fitness and empowerment,

– Breakthrough for Nightlight. We are already seeing some big breakthroughs this month in regards to some trafficking cases and we are so thankful for this.

– Our Thai Bar outreach team has established a new relationship with a girl called *Lea . We have beenable to spend a lot of time with her recently so please pray for continuation of this. She is beautiful and I am very excited to continue to get to know her. I have mentioned this girl in previous blogs. The  past few times we have entered into this particular bar, the second she has spotted us, her face has lit up into the most beautiful smile. She loves to talk to us as much as she is allowed. She is understanding that we are there to love her, to be her friend and encourage he along this journey.

 

 

Joy comes in the morning

 

As I write this I am coming close to my 1 year anniversary in Thailand. I couldn’t tell you how it got to pass me by so quickly. It’s like I went to sleep and woke up 1 year earlier, however it’s been one heck of a bumpy sleep!  I am at a stage now where I am beginning to look and process the year. I don’t think it’s healthy to dwell too much in the past but it’s important to be self-reflective and learn from the journey. This journey has taken me worlds apart from the person I used to be. The essence of Ashleigh is still there but it’s like staring back at a different person when I look in the mirror. A healthier and happier person.

blog december 2

In case you had forgotten, I  have a passion for lifting heavy things- Here is me in action at the Chiang Mai throw down I competed in this month 

This journey over the past year has stretched me in ways I never could have imagined. God has taken me by the hand and we have gone on a roller-coaster ride together. On some occasions It’s been painful, many times there has been complete joy and excitement. Doors continue to open for me and I intend to walk right through them.

I have not written in a while as Its been an extremely busy season with many exciting things happening.  There has also been a lot of stress and some work that God has been doing in and through me, he is in the process of digging out some well planted roots In my life and it hasn’t been easy, I will touch on this later.

I am keen to update you on the goings on of Citylight Café! This place has become my refuge.  Who would have thought that a simple little coffee shop in the heart of the Red-Light District would not only bring me such joy but bring an abundance of blessings every single day. The women I work with continue to love me and speak encouraging words over me. I came here to love and be a blessing to them but it turns out they have out done me! I love them with my heart and soul and thank God every day that he brought me here

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Welcome to Citylight! Love them!

Last month we had a team with us from YWAM Australia. I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful it’s been.  A beautiful bunch of young men and woman giving up their time to come and serve us. They graciously put on live music for us every Friday and it was an incredible experience.  One singers voice was such a gift from Jesus it sent shivers up my spine.

On one particular Friday, we had both the YWAM team and another team play, the doors were wide open in to the Red- Light district and people on the outside were coming in, the sound of the music was so beautiful. You really could feel the presence of God in a massive way. That night 1 man came to Jesus. At one point, I looked around the café and noticed that there were far too many Christians in the room, I needed this to change so I said a simple prayer to God and people began to trickle in! It was a beautiful picture of Jesus mixing with the sinners in the Bible, we must remember that he didn’t come to heal the well but to heal the sick.

beauty shop blog

Last month we took the ladies that come to our Beauty shop regularly on an outing. We were able to say the things we were thankful for and enjoy some great food together. It truly was a special day 

On the same night as our live Music we as an outreach team did our usual of hitting the Bars in Nana plaza. We had a few women on our outreach that night and fruitful conversations were had. I had spotted a woman on the stage that I had previously had some great conversation with. The week before she had been heavily intoxicated and had managed to put on a good front of being bubbly to customers, this week couldn’t have been a more different story, as she stood upon the stage her eyes were empty and she was barely moving from side to side, the light I had seen in her was gone. I prayed for her to look at me, just a little eye contact would do.  At that moment, she gazed across at me and instantly recognised me I was able to go over to her on the stage and hug her, we didn’t have much time to converse but I wanted her to know that this hug held meaning, I was still thinking of her, I was still praying for her and I still loved her. I would be back.

Her face has stuck in my mind ever since that night. I have not seen her recently but I hope to this week. She is so precious and I pray that she is being kept safe.

It’s been a tough couple of weeks to say the least. After a few months of life being beyond busy as I have been tossed into a new season, things are starting to wind down for the end of year. However, God has decided that he will use this time to inform me that I still have some healing to do. There are still some roots that he has not finished taking from me. I tell you that when this happens it can be an extremely painful process.  Sometimes we hold on to our faults so tightly, that when God gently pulls them away it can feel like we are missing a limb. This is the season I am in now but I couldn’t be any more equipped to deal with this. Had this happened a few years ago, I would not have been ready but now is the time and God has place beautiful people around me to walk with me, to pray with me and to speak truth over me. I am so grateful for the love everyone around me has shown. I have a wonderful community to come along side me in times of struggle as well as times of joy.

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Out of struggle God continues to bless me and love me and show me new things about myself I didn’t know existed! I am very excited to announce my first article has been published. I have found joy through writing and raising awareness for an issue that I am so very passionate about!

Check it out here ! https://streetsideconversations.com/2017/12/14/trekking-away-from-trafficking-restoring-dignity-in-the-face-of-modern-day-slavery/

Please continue to pray for the work that God is doing in me and for new and exciting things that he has been releasing in me!

-I ask that you please pray for one woman in particular whom I meet on Outreach, she is Ugandan and has a lot of pressure on her to make money. Not only does she owe her trafficker money but she has been burdened with the cost of her brother’s health care who has become very unwell. I love this girl and want nothing more than to help her but we are still in the process of building up that relationship. I can picture her face now as I write this, I want nothing more than for her to be free.

A declaration of freedom

“I am free” These three words sent tingles down my spine and Goosebumps upon my arms. Freedom, A word so very much taken for granted and yet flows from the heart of *Lin. As she proclaims these words for all to hear she does so with a shy smile and strong look in her eye. 3 weeks ago we began teaching English to women who had the desire to learn, be this on the streets of Nana Red- Light district or Thai staff already apart of Nightlight. On this particular day, we had women write their own Personal Shields. On these shields, they had to write in English, their name, where they come from, their hobby and a statement describing themselves. All the jokes and laughter were to be had during this hour, It was only until *Lyn made her bold statement of her God given freedom did the atmosphere change. The realisation of how far this woman has come blows my mind every time I look at her. She has been through more horrors than one could even begin to contemplate and here she was giving it her all in an English class and bringing tears to eyes.

engish classes

The passion in these ladies to learn is exciting to see!!

As I look back on the past 2 months I couldn’t begin to tell you where they have gone.  It’s been a whirlwind of activity in and out of Nightlight. Our organisation is currently assisting a lot of women trafficked from Africa, predominantly Uganda.  The more we send home the more keep coming in. It breaks my heart to see the cruelty right before my eyes, to know that all this is taking place in Uganda. It is as if God has opened the flood gates for us and more and more are coming to seek our aid. The situation is somewhat devastating however we are blessed beyond belief to have an opportunity to love these women and help them as much as we can.

On my outreaches, I have been meeting with one particular women. *Tracy is bold, vivacious and beautiful, every time I came across her on the streets I could not help but wrap my arms around her. Despite everything that has happened to her she is a fighter and her strength radiates like nothing I have ever seen before. I have had chances to engage with her over the past few months however these things take time to build up a level of trust. One Wednesday afternoon, I was working In CityLight Coffee shop and *Tracey walked in, she was coming to claim her freedom and seek assistance from us. When I saw her in that moment I could not stop the tears from falling. I have never had the blessing of giving birth to a baby so I am unaware of the first moments of holding your child in your hands however I hear of the incontrollable love that drowns your inner being. In that moment, I believe that I experienced a portion of that love. It spilled out of me to the point where It became overwhelming. To know that we could help her and return her back to Uganda with her family and babies, to know she has a chance to live free. That feeling will never leave me. Please pray for her along with every other woman that is being sent back. Please pray that everything that was taken from them is returned and that somehow the memories will be replaced with strength and love.

 

blof fierce

When we give ourselves time to rest God speaks boldly to us of visions and dreams for the future

Nightlight has a lot to focus on and we are seeing immense breakthrough. It is a beautiful thing to witness and be a part of, so much so that the ability to rest can sometimes be taken away. Being a girl who has never been an expert in this field, the tendency to push and push is most definitely there. The world tells you to go a little bit faster and work a little bit harder. This is where a spiritual battle comes in to play in order to tell you that resting is not an option. It’s a concept I am journeying on and trying to put healthy boundaries in place. Slowly but surely, I am getting there. This month, resting took the form of a holiday of which I was so utterly blessed by. My mum came to visit Thailand and took me on the most wonderful adventure, it consisted of rock climbing, swims in the sea, mother daughter bible study and sunbathing in perfect white sands. To put it frankly, it was beautiful and something my soul had been yearning for for long time.

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My beautiful mummy enjoying her Thai holiday !

 

I have permission to rest. Jesus ensured to make time for him and his disciples to rest from their ministry. The world isn’t going to fall apart if I take some time out. It did indeed take me a while to switch off from work and my life in Bangkok but I managed to achieve a peaceful state of mind. I am forever grateful to my mummy for blessing me in such a wonderful way.

For all who pray I would be so thankful if you could pray for our new English Classes and that women would continue to come!

-We are assisting a lot of women but struggling to staff it. Please pray for provision and more volunteers

-Please pray for the 7 women I work with in the coffee shop. I just wish them blessings and happiness every single day because I love them.

blog october

This week we took the girls on a Coffee shop tour of Bangkok, this was a beautiful opportunity to send some time together and see how other coffee shops operate their business!

 

*Names changed for the protection and discretion of women