Saturday, 9 November 2013

The Gate in Swindon

The Gate in Swindon town Centre (near Iceland) is a new charity shop, being run by Dawn Prosser who also runs the Gateway Furniture Project with her husband Kevin. ( The building is shared with Healthy Planet (, an organisation that gives books away for free to save them from landfill.

It's much more than a charity shop though. It's set out really well. On the ground floor are the free books (you can take three at a time) and some furniture for sale, as well as adult clothes and shoes. Upstairs is a well thought-out baby/toddler play area as well as children's books and toys. There is also a cafe area, where you can have free tea or coffee. Yes, free!

It's a welcoming place and the volunteers are always friendly and ready to chat. Currently there are 17 volunteers who help out, but more are needed. If you don't have much spare time but can bake, why not bake some cakes for the shop? Please contact Dawn if you can help.

All sorts of people from different backgrounds use the shop and it serves the community of Swindon well. There is a steady stream of people visiting throughout the day. When I called in there were clients of many different ages and backgrounds - from mums with babies looking forward to putting their feet up with a free cuppa to pensioners looking for a bargain or a free book.

Dawn has had the opportunity to pray for someone almost every day, and a few people are planning to visit Gateway Church after their trip to The Gate.

Children in Need is on Friday 15 November and The Gate will be hosting a Pudsey-themed cake competition: bake and decorate a cake and have it judged between 10:00-11:00 on the day. Entry forms are available from the shop as well as Gateway Church. There is an entrance fee of £2 - all proceeds to Children in Need. There will also be a Pudsey photo booth (£1 per go) with local photographer Sabine Coe.

Or come along on Saturday 16 November for more Children in Need fun. You can take part in the live cupcake decorating competition at 12:00.

Dawn is looking for a face-painter (or anyone who can offer some silly skills) to volunteer on Saturday- please contact her if you can help.

It's great to see somewhere that's focussed on community and is caring so well for the people of Swindon. Opening times are Monday, Thursday and Friday 10-3pm and Saturday 10-1pm.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Hard life

We live in such an entitlement culture here in the UK. Whether that's moaning about what benefits we are entitled to; knowing our rights (but not always our responsibilities); or feeling sorry for ourselves that our lives aren't as shiny as the next person's.

It's easy to get sucked into this 'poor me' mentality. Now I'm not having a go at people on benefits, I get some myself and am very grateful to the government for them. In South Africa where I was born, if you lost your job you went hungry, unless your family or church provided for you. And you could have 10 kids- the govt. certainly wouldn't give you any tax credits for them. Also you pay for school in SA. I don't think that many British people would be too happy with that over here. Anyway...

Meet Murray Hambro. He is 33 years old and used to serve in the Second Royal Tank Regiment in Afghanistan. One day his tank drove over a roadside IED. He was sent 40 feet into the air and sustained broken feet and pelvis, crushed vertebrae and damaged liver and spleen amongst other injuries.

His feet were so damaged that he had to have a double amputation. The story could end there, but it doesn't. Instead of feeling sorry for himself and going around telling people about how hard his life was, he just got on with it. He quickly learned to use his new prosthetics, and took his first steps on new legs three months after being injured.

He decided to follow his love of motorbike racing, now that a career on the front lines wasn't an option. He got a specially adapted bike that meant he could race seriously. He joined True Heroes Racing and now takes part in the British Superbike Championship.

If this man can follow his dreams, then so can you and I. Stop blaming other people, difficult circumstances or a tough childhood and just get on with it.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Living with a baby

Lying in bed at night

with the light on,


Baby's in her own room now

so I'm allowed to do this.

It feels so decadent.


Having a soak in the bath.

Not having to rush

'cos my husband's at home.

It's a good thing

but it feels kinda selfish.


Church on a Sunday.


she won't cry too loudly

or annoy anybody.


not about 'look at me',

I'm just feeding my baby.

Don't get me wrong-

I love it-

a real blessing from God

but I don't like feeding

her in the toilet.


Date nights and cinema trips

almost unheard of-

at least for the moment.

Can't go out baby-free

without special arrangements

and asking for favours-

mostly from Grandparents

or church friends.

What would I do

if they lived far away?

I'd hardly ever get a break.

Raising a child is not meant

for just one or two-

it's all about community.


Not much sleep most nights

though it's not too bad this time.

Thanking God whenever

I get six hours in a row.

I'm not complaining,

just saying.

Being tired is boring

and I'll try not to bore you.


Taking the pushchair

wherever we go.

Can't always fit on the bus

or through the aisles

in the shops.

It seems to annoy some strangers

that I have to transport my baby.

Having to say loudly

'excuse me' (politely).



Cuddles and giggles

first thing in the morning.

Love at first sight

and for all of my life.

Nothing in the world like it.


demanding and tiring

but always rewarding.

This is my job and I love it.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Are you important?

Do you sit at the back of church?
Do you serve, but not in a very visible or exciting area?
Would you never be asked to preach on a Sunday?
Do you think that if you stopped going to church, probably no-one would notice?

I want to remind you that you are just as important as the most famous preacher. God loves you just as much as that person in church who you think has it all together (besides, they don't).
Jesus died on the cross for you just as much as he died for those who see themselves as important. In fact, even if you were the only person in the world, he still would have died for you.

In a world of pride and achievements and celebrities (including Christian ones) it can be easy to forget that those aren't the important things. The most important thing in your life is your relationship with God and how he sees you. Don't worry about other people's opinions- they are changeable, biased and, if not Biblical and loving, then probably not even true.

I love this parable from Luke 14:

When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honour at the table, he told them this parable: “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honour, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honoured in the presence of all the other guests. 11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

That isn't to say that you shouldn't respect those in positions of authority- God has put them there and they deserve respect.

Remember, though, that  it's about you and God. And he says that you are very important.

Ephesians 2

In the past all of us lived like that, trying to please our sinful selves. We did all the things our bodies and minds wanted. Like everyone else in the world, we deserved to suffer God’s anger just because of the way we were.
But God is rich in mercy, and he loved us very much. We were spiritually dead because of all we had done against him. But he gave us new life together with Christ. (You have been saved by God’s grace.) Yes, it is because we are a part of Christ Jesus that God raised us from death and seated us together with him in the heavenly places.