Why use such a strange name? It goes back to October 1991 when I asked God a question. What do you want me to do? The answer came in an unexpected way. I was on a training weekend called Ministering Spiritual Gifts. We did an exercise where we listened to God and then wrote down what we heard. We were given the first few words to help us overcome writer’s block. Most people got a surprise as they did not expect something so encouraging and positive. I got a shock because what I wrote down was so crazy and outrageous. It included words that made me say, who me? and then look behind to see if it was about someone else.
My daughter I would say unto you do not be afraid you know more than you think. You are my child, my precious possession my lily my beautiful one. My saviour for many people and churches I will use you as you lean on me. I will support you and deal sensitively with you. You will restore my people throughout the word of my testimony. You are my child, you are my deliverer of millions. Through you I will do many wonders. I am the lord your God.
See what I mean? It is a huge destiny and purpose. The sort of superwoman role that needs a lot of growing into. Why Lily? My real name is Susan and Susan means lily. It was a bit of surprise when that name was used but why not use Lily as a nickname for me. Lilies are such beautiful flowers. They are often seen to represent purity maybe that is why white lilies are often associated with Easter.
Putting this word into action
I might have written that down over 25 years ago but those words still speak to me I have been afraid that I have not known enough and chased after knowledge. I have spent a lot of time chasing learning of various kinds.
I have certificates coming out of my ears. I have many certificates for IT, even one at post-graduate level. Then there are the teaching certificates including one of those at post graduate level. Yes, I did do a degree, straight from school in Combined Arts. In my case, it was history and geography. I regularly listen to webinars, audio trainings and have more books than some libraries. At the last count, I had 18 bookcases scattered around the house and all but 3 are tall ones.
It goes on to say I will use you as you lean on me. Oh dear, I have tried to do things my way many times and then wondered why I have not got very far. I am re-writing this as I am trying to work out what I should be doing once again. I have been presented with many different options and struggled to drop the ones that I should drop. A temptation might not be something that is bad in itself but there are times when even something that looks as though it should be good is not good. You should be doing action C but action A and action B seem to be OK and possibly even the right thing to do but they are not what God wants you to do. They are distractions that are stopping you doing what you are supposed to be doing because you cannot do two things at once.
Thank God for the next bit. I have seen the idea of being supported through hard times. I have seen how well cared for I have been when something goes wrong with the car. That is why I have a long list of stories of times when things could have been a lot worse than they were if there had not been divine intervention. I am still learning with other things but I know that this sentence has been proved to be accurate time and again.
I saw the idea of restoring people and thought it meant inner healing so chased after learning more about that. Yet it is said that the only reason we have a testimony is that we have been through a test. Oh boy, where do I start with that one?
Some of the tests I faced in the wilderness
One of my major issues is seeing people who are encouraged to submit to situations and be content with things that are less than God’s best for them. They lack what God wants them to have and are told that it is wrong to chase after it or that it is wrong to yearn for what God wants them to have. It is an issue for me because following that advice did me, and those around me, an amazing amount of harm.
I ended up in a shrinking space were eventually I could barely breathe. I only managed to escape by screaming at God that I was stuck and needed to be unstuck so that I could serve Him better. That led to a time when I knew the reality of being treated sensitively. A year after that scream my life had changed so much that the differences were incredible. Two years later it was a struggle to find anything that was the same.
I have learnt a lot about various forms of wrong thinking the hard way. How we struggle to see things as they really are. How we find ourselves behind barriers that we think are in line with the Bible but we have looked at the wrong part of the Bible to make our argument so we find ourselves doing the wrong thing. I have learnt a lot about love forgiveness and acceptance on my journey.
The bit about being a deliverer of millions has long troubled me. I found saviour hard enough until I realised that before Jesus time it was Moses who was seen as the saviour of God’s people. Being called saviour of many people and churches was hard enough but deliverer of millions. Often when I have read that I have looked behind me and said are you sure you have the right person.
I have had to stop and think what a deliverer or a saviour is. It is someone who helps people escape difficult circumstances. Ok, there are a variety of ways of doing that. One obvious one to me is teaching. Think about someone who finds themselves unable to read in a world where they are surrounded by words. They go to the shops and all those words that are there to help them find the things they want are meaningless to them. It does not matter whether this is because English is not their first language or because they have never learnt to read, they are held captive by an inability to understand the words around them. Help them learn to read the words around them and they are released from captivity.
That makes sense as I grew up wanting to be a teacher. I have taught adults to use computers and taught ethics and philosophy to teenagers. Learners have been in a variety of offline environments including community centres, parents at the school where their children attended, teenagers at a sixth form college (even though we now call them years 11 and 12 the old name of sixth form is still used in some places). On top of that, I have done some online tutoring,
Then there was the support work that I have done. Supporting people with some of the same issues that I had faced gave me a greater realisation of what needs there are out there. That was when I had the vision of working towards developing Lily’s Place. When you look at all the possibilities that listed in Lily’s Place. Many of them involve some kind of learning. Learning to do the ironing or to cook. Learning to keep a job, or learning to start a business.
The whole thing was an ecosystem that took in people who were in difficulty and turned their lives around. Some were then able to help others and even start new businesses or projects that expanded the work of Lily’s Place. It was thinking of that which led to the description of my dream community.
Growing into that role
I mentioned earlier that I have often said who me and looked around. Have you heard of the idea of a shrinking violet? That was a good description of me during my childhood and early adulthood. Shrinking back into nothingness in some ways.
Another flower that reminds me of me is the black eyed susan. Not that I can remember ever having a black eye but black eyes are often a sign of being in a fight or a struggle. I have faced plenty of those.
Lilies are different. The ones I know are large flowers on tall stems. They don’t exactly hide but show off their stately beauty to the world. They are used to represent peace and purity. That is something to live up to and even grow into.
You see that is what a lot of this page is about. It looks to start with as though there was a place laid out for me. Nothing unusual about that as God prepares good works for everyone to do. It would be so easy to swagger in and say hey folks this is who I am and what I am supposed to be doing. The truth is I feel as though I was given some huge boots to wear and that when I was given them I was still wearing bootees like a baby. It has been hard growing into those boots. Yet how do you walk forwards in boots that you have not grown into? They hurt and as children find when they borrow shoes from grown ups it is not easy walking in them.
Where am I now?
It is strange there does not seem to be a straight path i.e. do this and move forwards. Often it has been test this and learn from it then try something else. It has been trial and error. Or should I call it discovery learning i.e. when the teacher sets up some kind of practical situation with the intention of helping the learners learn from experience? Maybe that is what that original word meant by the word of my testimony. Especially as two of the concepts I have realised are extremely important are developing prototypes and preparing people for the future by encouraging them to start with small apprentice type projects.
There have been various challenges going forwards with those around me not catching the vision again and again. It has not always been easy finding where I fit in their scheme of things either. It helped being drawn towards a new area as it meant I had to leave another. Making a fresh start has made things so much easier
Offline, this has proved relatively easy. I am one of the two leading lights behind a new project set up by the church. We started a craft group for people with learning disabilities. Our intention is to use this as a prototype. Strange thing is that we each have a different set of ideas that we want to test using this prototype. Only God could organise a means of testing so many different ideas from one single activity.
I kept doing what I had been doing thinking that I should be developing Lily’s Place. The dream of Lily’s Place started back in 2009 and was the vision I had tried to explain to people for years. I could never quite understand why for some people a vision like that has nothing to do with church life. I had tried setting up a social enterprise to help bring this to reality but it struggled rather than thrived. Eventually, I killed it off
Forwards to God’s Lily
Once the idea of a social enterprise died I started building this website out of the ashes. I wanted a strapline and I wondered what on earth to use. I prayed for ideas and this one came to me. I soon found that it spoke to people better than anything I could have come up with by myself.
One test of a genuine passion is whether you can allow it to die. You can take a diversion but you cannot truly walk away from something that you truly love. The desire to teach and train never left but what can it be channelled into. Given the resources and opportunities that have come my way setting up online courses made a lot of sense. It would make the idea of changing millions of lives seem attainable as well.
That is the reasoning behind developing God’s Lily. Read the journal and you will be able to follow my journey. Have a look around and if you like what you see then sign up below to receive updates.
P.S. I know that I should really put a head shot on this page somewhere and the only ones I have are selfies and I am not really comfortable with any of them. However just to prove that I really am human here is one of the not quite so bad pictures I have on my computer. Now if you should ever bump into me somewhere you will know what I look like.