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Hopers in Africa 1. Sarah just landed in Kenya for a month, 2. Uganda team leaving Bristol this morning, 3. Davies family in South Africa for 6 months: ”We quite literally saved this ladies life today ... We we're asked to do a home visit and found her lying in the dark with oxygen sats of 75% .... Rather than wait for an ambulance ( can take days to come apparently ) we rushed her into hospital , bypassed all the queues and got her into resus ..... Hoping she makes it but at least she has a chance. All for £3.50 hospital fees and a bit of petrol...” #ourvisionishopeofjesustoallpeople @ Hope Community Church ... See MoreSee Less

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Congratulations to the Wild Goose Drop In - winners of the overall Love Britain and Ireland Award. The Wild Goose is part of Crisis Centre Ministries who Hope and other Bristol churches partner with to serve the homeless and vulnerable in Bristol. #hopeisdreaming #hopeforthemarginalised ... See MoreSee Less

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Hope Children made gifts and notes for the homeless. They're being given out tonight on the Soup Run. #hopeisdreaming #churchchildrenlove #hopeforthemarginalised ... See MoreSee Less

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Bluebells & Bicycles: Rocks in a Glass Jar

words by Alice Bond / photos by Jake Anderson

The second in a six part series by Alice Bond

When we asked our friend Simon to speak at our wedding, my only request was ‘you can say whatever you like but PLEASE do not touch my wedding dress’. These days there is an uber eco, vintage, organic, authentic approach to acquiring a wedding dress: buy one from Oxfam, borrow one from family or friends or watch the Sewing Bee and make your own. But we got married back in the day when the only viable option seemed to be to walk into a wedding dress shop and buy a wedding dress.

I bought a vaguely designer dress. I say vaguely because who has actually heard of specialist wedding dress designers? In those – pre-thinking it through – days buying a wedding dress cost more per hour of use than the rest of my entire wardrobe put together.

Needless to say Simon managed to wangle opening a couple of beer cans far too close to The Dress. I had just declared calmly, with conviction, off by heart, my vows. But now I barely repressed screaming the sacred words: ‘get those FROTHY beers away from my dress’. Accompanied by a little (partially) dignified bunny hop backwards.

This experience only confirmed my suspicions that that there is something that happens to perfectly sensible, rational people when beer is introduced. However to Simon’s credit and my ongoing surprise the content of his speech was one of the most helpful pieces of advice Chris and I have EVER received on how to do life well.

Simon held up a glass jar and showed how if you put rocks in first, there will always be enough for stones. And if you next put in stones there will always be enough room for pebbles. And if you put in pebbles then there will always be enough room for sand. And of course, a couple of beers. But if you start with beers – or let’s say water – there will never be enough room for sand or pebbles, let alone stones or rocks.

In the same way if we intentionally prioritise the most important things in our lives, there will always be enough room for the trivial. But if we passively prioritise the trivial there will never be enough room for the important things.

One area, among many, I have particularly applied this to is how I approach relationships. I make sure that I not only contend for full heart connection with those I invest in and receive from, but I am also incredibly strategic: God, then Chris, then our children, then our parents and siblings and our lifelong close friends, then our Hope and Hotwells communities, then all those others I love beyond.

This process informs so much of my decision making in terms of who I spend time with and even how I spend my time. Life becomes simple when we make peace with who we are designed to invest in. And let’s not forget – there are two pedals on the bicycle which represents the dynamic, living nature of our relationship with God. As I pour into those God has given me, He pours His love into me through surprising me with a myriad of delightful, spontaneous, new and old friendships.

Having lived this way now for many years – strategically prioritising my relationships in this way – I feel that now I am daily reaping the rewards of these investments. If relational wealth could be measured I honestly believe I would be a billionaire. I have found that God is more than able to make flexible and vastly increase the capacity of any glass jar.

Rocks. Stones. Pebbles. Sand. Water. Life-changing wisdom. We have found that this applies to so many areas of our life: time, health, finances, work. Simon, I raise a toast, with a glass of water, to your wisdom: ‘when we get our rocks in place, there will always be enough room for a couple of beers’. Fresh, filtered, glass-bottled, not-too-mineral-rich, water. Wow, even acquiring the right water is a complex issue these days. Maybe beer is the way to go after all.

‘For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it’. Jesus. 27AD