New member to the Expressions team: Jenny Howells

Have you ever experienced God changing your heart? Moulding your dreams and changing your priorities?

 

 

 

 

Image: graur codrin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Well this is what He has been working in my life recently and over my time at Chichester University. I had always believed in God but it was only a month into my first year where he became a reality in my life. I went to the university Christian Union and someone spoke things to my heart. It suddenly clicked. God must be real and know me for that person to know to say those things. I hadn’t voiced some of those feelings so there was no way it could be coincidence. From then on I started the most amazing journey ever. It involved many mistakes, times of confusion and understanding God’s presence in some really painful situations at uni. It was a scary time as my whole identity was shifted. I was baptised and shared the image of standing on the edge of a cliff, held up by chains. Gradually God has chipped away at these, taking me out of my big problems with confidence. Instead of the terror of falling from this place he has shown me to fly and be free.

Whilst studying dance I met Daniella. Expressions was always something I was interested in and I attended the dance day of the first summer school. But I was still holding onto my desires to train intensely in dance technique and give everything to try and perform. Whilst this is by no means wrong and it is right for many people, for myself I realised that it wasn’t coming from a place of honouring God. I knew in my heart that the decision would most likely lead me strive to perfectionism and glorifying myself, at least at the moment. I used to place all my identity in achieving in this but some of the first words God spoke to me were about our worthiness coming from Him alone. He also gave me an image of using dance to bring confidence to a hurt and lonely child and this began to open my mind to what amazing things this gift could be used for. It is not that this passion has disappeared but rather I have discovered a different path that provides opportunities to do all of the things I love and care about. My perspective of God has increased and now I see following his will, sharing his love, bringing justice, joy and healing and especially working with children and young people as my greater purpose. How incredible that there is a way of doing all of these through dance too!

One thing God has been teaching me is to trust His direction for us. After making my decision to move to Hemel on Christmas day 2010 (during a very long car journey) I didn’t verbalise this for several months out of fear. Even afterwards I was riddled with doubts and worries. It is still daunting to move away into something that is somewhat unknown. Fear of having made the wrong choice panicked me but I learnt to focus more on God’s grace and sovereignty. Is God not able to use us wherever we choose to go? Can He not work mightily in any situation and have strength to cover any of our mistakes or choices if we stay faithful to Him? What a reassurance. I still don’t know if God always planned this for me or if it is my choice and He will follow me wherever I go. But I do know that He will be with me and that nothing in life is more incredible and important. I’m also very glad God helped me to persevere through the worries. I have been so blessed with two successful interviews in Hemel doing jobs I love- an outreach worker for the national autistic society and working on play schemes for disabled children. I am now really excited, helped by meeting lots of friendly faces in the area and being encouraged with an awesome church to get involved in. I thank God for the sense of peace he has given, amidst not knowing where I will be living and the chaos of trying to train my brain to understand business matters!!!

So I am thrilled to be entering into expressions and undoubtedly learning so much along the way. I can’t wait to see what God will do and learning faith through taking risks. He has been talking to me a lot about obedience and trusting that He will be there when you take a leap. So, here goes for the jump! In what ways can you dive into the fullness of what God has for you? Because guess what- it’s going to bigger than you imagine.

Jenny

Pregnant with vision.

Expressions is sometimes hard to define.

Two years ago now, I was sitting in church on a Sunday morning with my friend Esther. God then both gave us this amazing vision of using creative arts for him.
How? we didn’t know.
When? we weren’t sure…..
but on this morning Expressions was conceived.

Since seeing the vision, I haven’t been able to drop it from my heart!…..Chasing what God wants is all I have been excited about ever since. I am pregnant with the vision.

Not that I have personally experienced pregnancy, but I hear it comes with nausea, excitement, preparation,and birthing pains…
I have in many different ways been experiencing these symptoms as the vision of Expressions starts to form.
For two years myself and friends around me having been praying about the vision and what God wants it to be. We have organised two summer workshops which have been awesome, with healings, creativity, renewed passion, amazing worship and unity between youth. We have started to see something….part of the future.

In September last year, I went to Edinburgh for a 24/7 prayer weekend. On the last day, a friend Phil, was praying for me and among other wise words he said:
‘This year is going to be a hard year, being pushed from all sides, but I feel God is saying that you are going to sing a new song. Not necessarily a literal song but maybe the way you are will bring something new’…(give or take)

Crossover, the amazing youth and schools work team that I have been a part of for almost 9 years, have been a vital strength to both myself and the Expressions vision. Crossover has also had amazing words from God about not putting old wine in new wine skins:

Matthew 9:17
Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.

Expressions will bring something new and it isn’t just myself that is getting excited. As the ‘bump’ starts to form…people around and coming to see and and understand what God is planning….

The labour pains, or the pushing from all sides, has been hard. Whether it is challenges in daily life or just when planning the business side of everything to come. There has been prayer meetings, funding meetings, and I still don’t entirely know how and when Expressions will form.

This blog is just to show that Expressions is moving forward and will need as much prayer and commitment from people around as possible…just like a new born baby.

I’ve been sick with not knowing, excited about seeing, preparing to my hearts content and definitely feeling the labour pains but this is going to be good because it is God’s.

Keep a look out and let me know if you have any passions, prayers or prophetic words to pass along.

Daniella

Breaking down your barriers!

One thing I’ve always been curious about when reading the bible is how God communicates through dreams. Joseph was told all about Jesus and how Mary was pregnant from the holy spirit (Matthew 1:20)… in a dream! Jacob hears God’s voice of promise (Genises 28:10-22) that he will bring him safely home… in a dream! I don’t know about everyone else, but It’s hard enough for me to remember my dreams most of the time… let alone be spoken to through them! How would you know your dream really meant something, and it wasn’t just the result of too much cheese late at night? What if the dream doesn’t make any sense to you like the Pharaoh’s in Genises 41:14-24? The truth is… we won’t always know, but all we can do is seek God in everything we do and everything that happens. You never know what you might find…

Two nights ago, I had a dream… quite different to one I’ve ever had before. For one, I was playing basketball. Now, before you laugh I’ll have you know I used to be on the girls basketball team at school! My skills now however… are limited. Secondly, I was on an entire team of men, who all must have been around 7 feet! So there I am, all 5″5 of me, out on a basketball court with a bunch of sweaty, smelly men. I have all the right intentions, in this dream. I work hard to get the ball to the net, I dodge past other players, dribble the ball left right and centre, and I finally get to the point where iI can shoot! Great! The hard bits over right? Wrong, because every time I go to shoot, the ball hits this invisible barrier about 2 feet above me. No matter how hard a throw the ball, it just rebounds back down. I keep trying and trying until I’m exhausted, and the rest of my team are not impressed! Now, you might say this sounds like any other random dream, but it really spoke to me…

In christian life, so many of us are so eager to glorify God. He is our father, we want to know he is pleased with us and we want to be as on fire for him as we see others being. People who set up charities, people who travel the world spreading his word, people who stand in front of thousands and preach. We are so eager to take that ball and slam dunk it into the net! But in reality… it’s not always about wanting to make that shot, it’s about setting it up in the right way. Kind of like in any sport… you don’t take a shot in football if you’re offside or you’ve got obstructions right in front of you. The same goes in life; how are you supposed to push forward and live for God is you’ve got obstructions and barriers in your life, how is the ball going to go in the net when you’ve built yourself this barrier… one that you can’t get through. You can keep trying yes, but as my dream shows; it gets exhausting. The trick is to break down these barriers! Clear out the things in life that stop us from reaching our goals, that rebound on us. It could be the people we surround ourselves with, the activities we do in our spare time (or lack of), it could even be your own doubts and insecurities… things you need to pray and learn more about before you move forward. Anger can hold us back. Bitterness can create boundaries. Fear can drive us to creating a shield so thick that not only can things not get in, but we can’t get out! The first step to living for God, to getting the ball in that net, is to allow him to free us. Because once those barriers are gone, the sky’s the limit!
Georgie
xxxxxx

Dancing in the spirit..

Dancing in the spirit can seem like quite a odd idea to some people, but I feel that it is seriously a place of pure worship.

I have been trained in dance, but dancing for God requires no training at all…just an obedient body 🙂

Last week myself and a few of the Expressions team went to Soul survivor’s Momentum. This was located in Shepton Mallet in the Bath and West grounds (Lots of fields and cow sheds)….And lots of people wanting to meet God when we arrived!…

People put up their tents to create a huuuuge open community and there is a food court to buy your sustenance for the week and a mahoooooosive tent where we all meet together for worship celebrations, teaching etc..

There’s something unique about worshipping God together with thousands of people who have the same desire as yourself.
To meet with our  creator.

After this years Expressions (Summer school), I have had more confidence to dance for Him. So at Momentum in front of thousands of others, I took that step.

Its ALWAYS the step which is the hardest part. The fear of how people are going to react and the consequences of the move….but this time it was worth it.

All week I met with God in a truly new way, and so did a lot of others around me. The free worship, in an open space seem to inspire many others to use what they have and give it to Him. I have seen ballet dancers and Breakdancers in Worship (Amazing). People who have never danced before but knew how to move….utterly beautiful.

God used me this week to touch others and I love to hear that.

When we move for God, its a powerful thing.

A couple of inspiring moments I would like to share:

1) At the back of the tent, there is an open space. A creative space….
I only found this out half way through the week. But when I first walked in, I found treasure.

People worshipping with flags, dancers of all kinds, ballet, contemporary, tap and more….They obviously wanted space to move WITH GOD.
I was instantly excited but dissapointed. Why could no-one else see and share on this experience…It was almost like they were hiding…
For me, creativity is part OF the church therefore they needed to be with everyone else…

So next time… I am hoping we will be!

2) A young girl approached me on the second day of momentum with a friend, asking whether I was dancing in worship. she said then when she looked at me she was filled with the spirit. (AWESOME GOD) …the funny part is that she had tried to not stare but couldn’t because she knew she would only be filled again if she looked back.

3) A dancer called Katie came and asked how she could worship God with Dance. It was confidence that was holding her back, scared of being judged I suppose.

Shame how our faith can be so affected by the world around us… which I have had so many times.

That night I showed her the space at the back of the room where she danced so freely among others with the same desire…Then I took her later to the front where she moved for the one she loved.

4) On the last evening, a guy came and spoke to me at the end of the worship celebration. He had been watching me all week and had a picture from God for me.

(A bit of context is needed)

The night before, I had been talking to some friends about life.
And I have used the story of the Ugly Duckling to represent my life.

In the sense, that when I was younger, no-one wanted me. I didn’t belong to a certain place and didn’t fit in. (Wasn’t the prettiest duck either 🙂 )

And as I have grown into Gods Identity for me, things are changing. I belong and Gods spirit in me attracts people…like with the dancing.

..anyways back to the Guy.

He said the picture was of a beautiful swan….and I had these wings that weren’t huge like angel wings but elegent and lengthened out to the side.

I was breathless…

I conclude with, God can use all things to show his amazing love…

Daniella

Expressions in Africa?!

This summer I went to Zambia for two weeks. The original plan was to help Lifespring Foundation on their mission of preventing and healing with HIV/AIDS.

These weeks totally transformed my life and I had an african pastor speak a prophesy over me.

‘You have not come to Africa for the reasons you think. God will continue to open doors for you’

So this made me wonder…was Expressions somehow connected?!

Most days in Africa, we visited the lifespring school, which has AMAZING kids!. I wanted them all to take home with me! 🙂

During the last few days, I decided to teach the pre-school about Noah’s ark. After telling the story, I gave out loads of different material, card, glue, glitter etc… Arts and crafts and told them to create a picture of Noah’s ark.

The kids were stunned and didn’t know what to do.

I was so confused, I thought if this was at home, kids automatically knew how to react to arts and crafts…and then it hit me! The kids in Africa NEED this opportunity. To relate to God creatively, to express worship to God in DIFFERENT ways!…..

So the next step, take a team to Zambia in the next couple of years to bring this opportunity to them…

Expressions in Africa? What do you think?

Daniella

Expressions: ‘The Greatest Story Ever Told’- Review

On the 30th July 2010 ‘Farmer Javins’ (That’s me!) took everyone on a journey through the greatest story ever told! Travelling on a beautiful stoney path painted by our very own expressions youth, we passed the parable of the lost sheep; a display of clay sheep and painted statues created on our art day, before expiriencing the parable of the lost son as dramatised by the expressions gang. The wonderfully energetic and creative piece gave the story a modern and somehow personal twist, and the fun continued with a dance inspired by the parable of Jonah and the whale that featured great contemporary coreography and funky music editing! As Farmer Javins continued she scattered seeds on the ground before finding out what happens to different seeds through our ‘Choking’ video. Here, our exppressions youth bravely and beautifully talked of what chokes their faith as young people, and how they want to change it for the future! Next up was another dance inspired by the good samaritan! With clever lifts and good story telling it seemlessly flowed into two mime and music pieces about The Woman with Alabastor Oil and David dancing, showing just how busy and EXPRESSIONATE everyone involved had been over the weak!

The presentation came to an end with a video from the week, showing the love, creativity and fun shared by all as well as a touching testimony of what Expressions is all about from Daniella Paris. We saw God move through the whole expressions gang in amazing ways not just during the presentation, but all through the week, and we thanked him for his ongoing love with an explosive time of worship to finish up the evening. There was Music, there was dancing, there was freedom and there was joy! And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what expression is all about…

Georgie….i.e. Farmer Javins

Expressions 2010, The Greatest Story Ever Told.

An exceptional week!  ( The second summer expressions week of workshops!)

26th-30th July 2010

Jesus used stories and parables to teach us. To teach us about our heavenly father, the world he created and how we enter the eternal kingdom filled with his presence of love.

During this week, we used some of these stories to create artistic interpretations. We used music, art, drama and dance to recreate part of the greatest story ever told.

Music day was led by Lauren April and Simon Legg and partnered with a dramatic visual for David dancing from the book of Samuel, and the women with Alabaster oil from the book of Luke!

Drama was led by Dean and Ruth Such, our very own Bolivian actors!

The day was filled with many exercises to develop our acting and mime skills preparing for the parable of their choice. The prodigal son.
The sketch was provided with the bare bones and they both encouraged us to be as creative with it as possible! Using our EXPRESSIVE side!
The group contributed ideas together, which brought them a lot closer and laughter to anyone watching what they produced!

Wednesday was the ART DAY!

Grandma Gwyneth, my own artistic grandmother…Bethany Spalding, an arts major student from Chichester University along with Ruth Bass and Kerry-anne Cooper all lead the different artistic interpretations of The Lost sheep and The parable of the seed.

Some beautiful interpretations of what can choke faith including your friends and the temptations we have through daily life were painted on canvas.

Ceramic figurines were painted, temples were formed, sheep were created from clay….stories came to life.

The final workshop day was DANCE!

Myself, Ruth Barclay, Charlie Ranken and Becca Deane all came to challenge the kids with…. PHYSICAL ACTIVITY!

After a vigorous warm-up… The kids split into two groups to tackle the story of Jonah and the whale and the Parable of The good Samaritan.

Both pieces were completely different. Jonah’s group cleverly used the lyrics and actions to correspond creating a story whilst the Good Samaritan used lifts and contact work to create a group fight and moving on the story using physical theatre.

Everyone was ready, tired from a long week but ready to show the story to many others!

The last day was full of rehearsals, last-minute changes and preparation for the show.

Ruth and Amelia Doona spent the whole day placing a path around the performing space for the story to take place…

7pm came and our audience started to arrive…

Check out our other posts for a review of the show! 🙂

Daniella

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