A new beginning…

Finding my feet in living for Jesus.

Posts Tagged ‘God’

Do you believe in mum?

Posted by lauraoli on April 6, 2012

This was shown in church today. It made me chuckle, so I thought I’d share it here!



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Absence makes the heart grow fonder?

Posted by lauraoli on November 17, 2011

It has been about 3 and a 1/2 months since I last wrote a blog entry… the longest time I have gone in between posts since I started ‘A New Beginning’ almost 2 years ago.

It’s not a case of me wanting to stop blogging, it’s more of a case of life getting in the way! Medical finals (part 1) are coming up in January, and things have been very busy. After being in nice, (relatively) lazy 4th year, 5th year has hit hard, with long days, regular assessments and lots of work to do.

Trying to keep Jesus at the centre of everything I am doing is proving to be quite a challenge, and I am currently struggling somewhat with the stress of impending exams. I have been feeling quite distant in my relationship with God, and although I know He is ever-present and never-changing, the absence I feel is making me miss the security, love, comfort and peace I have in Jesus. In this case, although absence isn’t making the heart grow finder exactly, it is making me want to be closer to Jesus.

I’m not sure any of you actually noticed my absence (I don’t know exactly who reads this?!), but I am going to try and blog more regularly again!

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A lesson in God’s sovereignty

Posted by lauraoli on October 1, 2010

I survived! I have now been back in the UK for just over a week, after spending 7 weeks in Madagascar at a mission hospital in the rural north-eastern part of the country.

My original criteria for an elective placement:

  1. An English speaking country
  2. A developed country
  3. Somewhere that didn’t require a long journey
  4. A highly specialised hospital, preferably paediatric

HVM, Mandritsara, Madagascar:

  1. A Malagasy/ French speaking country
  2. A developing country
  3. Outbound journey required a total of 18 hours flying time and a 22 hour taxi journey over the course of 4 days
  4. A generalised mission hospital, serving the needs of the community in the best way it can

Laura the surgeon!

Just a few short months ago, the idea of going to somewhere like HVM for 7 weeks was a ridiculous idea. I have never had any inclination to spend any length of time in Africa and I have always imagined my future to be here, in the UK.

However, God has certainly taught me over the last year that he is most definitely in charge and that he knows best.

I had the absolute time of my life in Mandritsara. I did things I never thought I could (including spending a night in a remote village with the Community Health Team, with no running water, no electricity, no phone signal, no toilets and no English speaking person) and my whole world has sort of been turned upside down.

In third year of medicine, I did 8 weeks of surgery and I hated every minute. I was certain I never wanted to be a surgeon. In Madagascar, Dr. Mann, the surgeon, is the only qualified surgeon for an area equivalent to Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex, Surrey and Greater London combined. Without him, people with acute surgical emergencies would simply die. The difference he makes on a daily basis is incredible, and opened up my eyes to the possibility of specialising in something that would be the most useful, rather than the most enjoyable. I spent a lot of my time in theatre, and I began to realise I actually could enjoy it – something that I wasn’t expecting at all! God has also opened my eyes to the possibility of doing some sort of mission work in the future. Seeing the difference the hospital makes in the lives of the local community was wonderful, and incredibly rewarding.

There were many things I learned whilst away, and I had some amazing experiences. This is just the first post of many to come!

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”Are you late?”

Posted by lauraoli on May 25, 2010

For the first time ever, an abortion clinic advertised on national TV on Monday. The advert for Marie Stopes, in my opinion, is misleading and inappropriate.

Not once in that advert does the word ‘abortion’ actually appear, even though the Marie Stopes clinic carries out one third of all abortions that take place each year in the UK.

To advertise abortions like they are just another consumer product is appalling and completely disregards the sanctity of life. A life is a life, no matter what circumstances surrounds the child’s conception or family. As soon as those two cells fuse, a life is created. Abortion is murder.

The bible has many things to say on this subject, but I have chosen just one verse to illustrate my point:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.               Jeremiah 1:5

God designed us, created us and has plans for each and every one of us. We don’t have the right to ‘play God’ – we’re no good at it. That’s his job, and he is good at it.

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Suffering: hopeless or hopeful?

Posted by lauraoli on May 21, 2010

On Sunday we had a talk entitled ‘Why does a God of love allow suffering?’ in our church. It was given, very eloquently, by a man who had been through his fair share of suffering, and although I didn’t agree with absolutely everything he said, some of his talk really impacted upon me.

He spoke of how he can now see the way God has used all those awful experiences that had happened in his life for good purposes, and that this is a truth that we can hold on to – no matter what suffering we are going through, we can be sure that God will use it in a beneficial way, although, obviously, we may not be able to see that at the time. But this is fantastic news! It means that suffering is NEVER pointless. That’s a great thing for Christians to hold onto when they are going through a rough patch in their lives. All those people who dispute the existence of God have no hope during times of suffering, because if we are all just here because of random chance, then there is absolutely no benefit ever to be found in suffering.

Paul has some encouraging things to say about this in Romans:

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.      Romans 8:18

Nothing is too awful in this life that it is not worth going through for the hope of the glorious life to come. That’s going to be a whole lot better than anything we can imagine.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.      Romans 8:28

Whatever is happening, however terrible, we can be sure that God will use it in some way for our benefit and for our good. What an amazing thing to know! Suffering is NEVER pointless.

Posted in God, sermons, suffering | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »


Posted by lauraoli on April 6, 2010

At the beginning of 4th year medicine (next year), students at my medical school undertake an elective. This is a 6 week placement in any hospital anywhere in the world. The general advice from the med school is to start organising it about 18 months in advance. I, however, have only just got mine finalised (4 months before I go).  I’m not the most organised of people.

I avoided organising it for as long as possible, simply because I just didn’t know where I wanted to go. I finally decided on the US – it is a developed country, they speak English, I know someone in Seattle…. all in all it was a safe option. But that was exactly what it was. Safe. After several months of rejections and dead ends, I began to question my motives. I also spoke to many people at the CMF conference (see previous post ‘CRASH CALL’) and they all had really amazing stories of their time in developing nations. This made me change my mind, and try to challenge myself.

I am now going to a small mission hospital in a town called Mandritsara in the rural north of Madagascar. I am terrified. It’s possibly the complete opposite of what I had originally hoped for…. it’s a very poor nation, they speak French (I don’t) and I won’t know anyone. However, God has made it pretty clear to me that this is where I am supposed to be going. The number of ‘coincidences’ since sorting it has slightly freaked me out – from reading the first chapter of a book I’ve had for ages which turned out to be about a couple of medical missionaries who went to the same hospital, to speaking to someone I have babysat for for over 2 years and discovering that they went to Madagascar on their medical elective 20 years ago, before finally the person I have a one-to-one bible study with announcing that she knows the doctors that run the hospital. I think that I’ve had enough signs now, God. You’ve made your point!

On a small side note…. I actually haven’t seen the film ‘Madagascar’. I think I need to rectify this situation as soon as possible. People keep quoting it at me, and I have no idea what they are talking about.

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The Good Samaritan?

Posted by lauraoli on March 19, 2010

A couple of weeks ago I saw something, which at the time seemed pretty incongruous, but actually turned out to be the preceding moments of a very serious crime. The guilt I dealt with for the next few days was pretty enormous. More than anything, I felt awful for not paying more attention to the disturbance. Having to sit in a police station the next day for over an hour and try and remember every little detail of a split second of my life was not only exhausting, but made me realise how little I had noticed.

I always thought I was the sort of person who would stop in a situation where someone needed help. It turns out, I may not be after all. I didn’t walk by on the other side of the road intentionally, but does the fact I didn’t realise the seriousness of the situation mean that it’s ok to not stop? Is that not just as bad? Is it a sin?

Being a student, and also being part of a sports team, practical jokes and the like are common occurrences. When I saw what I did, I was in ‘student mode’ and so my reaction was to laugh it off and walk on. If I hadn’t been a student when I saw what I did, or if I hadn’t been in Brighton, or if it had been late at night rather than the middle of the day, would I have acted differently? Probably.

So maybe God was teaching me to take more notice of my surroundings. Or maybe He wasn’t. I haven’t worked out yet what to take from it yet. Maybe I’ll never know.

One, hugely positive thing that did come from this was how my Christian friends really helped me. The guilt I was feeling was pretty tremendous, and I visited a friend who sat with me for a couple of hours, and allowed me to say everything that I was feeling, and why. At the end of the afternoon, we prayed together, which is the best medicine for anything, and she read Psalm 46. I won’t write it all here, since it’s pretty long, but the first 2 verses say the following:

‘God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea’

Psalm 46:1-2


So maybe that was what God was trying to teach me. Not to rely on my own strength, but to take refuge in Him.

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Posted by lauraoli on February 22, 2010

CRASH CALL: an urgent appointment with the living God

A couple of weeks ago I went on the annual Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF) student conference. 350 medical students, from all over the UK get together to spend a weekend learning about and worshipping God.

I went on the CMF conference last year, for the first time. I hadn’t yet committed my life to Christ, (although I was on my way) and I spent the weekend absolutely terrified, hoping that no-one would talk to me for very long, completely freaked out by the arm waving in the praise and worship and by the praying out loud.

What a long way I’ve come in a year!

This year I couldn’t wait to go to the praise concert, or to participate in discussions in the seminars, or to buy as many books as I could carry, or to try and meet as many people as possible in 2 and a ½ days.

I’ll probably blog at a later date about some of the talks and seminars since many of them were interesting and challenging.

For now, it is enough for me to say that spending a weekend in a conference centre with 350 other people, all intelligent medical students or doctors, all with amazing testimonies, all who believe in and follow Jesus is possibly the best way I can imagine spending 3 days! Being a Christian amongst so many other Christians makes it easy. And makes it joyful. And it comes naturally. My church’s key verse for the year is appropriate here, I think:

‘I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ’                                                                                                                                                                                        Philemon 1:6

When so many Christians are together, sharing our faith with one another happens naturally. And with that, we remind each other ‘of every good thing we have in Christ’. If we can constantly remind ourselves of our inheritance, then living for Christ, 24/7, becomes much easier! Something to try and remember to do more often with Christian brothers and sisters, I think.

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Posted by lauraoli on January 21, 2010

”I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14

I always think this is a brilliant example of God’s amazing design for our bodies.

Laminin is a cell adhesion molecule, found in the extracellular matrix.  Laminin is vital to making sure overall body structures hold together.

”He is before all things, and in him all things hold together Collossians 1:17

Let Louie Giglio explain (fast forward to 2:40) :

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Posted by lauraoli on January 20, 2010

At prayer group (‘pentagon’ – there are 5 of us) last night, I was very full of spaghetti, in both the literal and metaphorical sense of the word. I had a belly full of spaghetti, courtesy of one of the other girls, and a head full of spaghetti after we attempted to read the ‘What is God like?’ chapter in our book (Christian beliefs – 20 basics every Christian should know, by Wayne Grudem).  We only got half way through the chapter, since we are very good at going off on huge tangents. Our discussion and what we read really blew my mind. As a fairly new Christian, I am learning something new every day. But last night was information OVERLOAD. God is truly awesome.

I thought I’d recap on some of the stuff we talked about.

God’s existence

The bible simply assumes God’s existence. Every created thing gives evidence of God and his character – human beings, created in the image of God, give the most evidence of God’s existence and character.

So belief in God is not some ‘blind faith’, it is based on evidence found both in the bible and in the natural world. Whenever I’d though of ‘creation’ as being evidence for God, I always though of the physical world, mountains, rivers etc. But then we read that we, as created human beings, are clear indicators for a creator God. It seems so obvious now, but that’s pretty cool.

This reminds me of laminin, my favourite cell adhesion protein. I’ll tell you about it at some other time.

God’s knowability

Not only does God exist, he exists in such a way that we can know things about him and actually come to know him personally.  We can never know God fully – he is infinite and we are finite. His greatness is too great to ever fully to be known.

We have an infinitely great God, who we can’t possibly understand, but we can know him personally. Wow.

God is independent

God doesn’t need us or anything else in creation for anything. God has always been perfectly and completely happy and fulfilled in his personal existence. God always was. He was not created; he never came into being. Therefore God is not dependent on anyone for anything. His entire creation is entirely dependent on him. God chooses to give us value and sinificance. We are important to him!

Though God does not need us, he allows us to bring joy to his heart. I bring joy to the creator God?!

God is eternal

He has no beginning or end or succession of events in his own being. He has always existed. His view of time is radically different to ours. God views all of past history as vividly as he would if it were a brief event that had just happened. But he also views a brief event as if it were going on forever. As the one who created and rules over time, God uses time for his own purposes.

It’s very had to get my head round the fact that God created time. Having no time makes no sense to me. But it wouldn’t, that’s why God’s God and I’m me. Because I can’t understand it. It makes my head hurt trying to understand it.

God is omnipresent

He is unlimited with regard to space. He does not have size or spatial dimensions; he is present in every point of space with his whole being. He cannot be limited by material space because he created it.

Again, not only did God create time, he also created space. So he is not limited by space. Baffling.

God is omniscient

He fully knows all things that he could have done, but did not do, and all things that he might have created, but did not create. He also knows all possible events that will not actually happen, and events that would have resulted if some other events had turned differently in history. God is always, at all times, fully aware of everything. His knowledge never changes or grows. Nothing surprises him, nothing is hidden from him. From all eternity God has known all things that would happen and all things that he would do.

This little bit turned into a huge discussion about predestination. There is a whole chapter on that later in the book, so hopefully I will come to learn more about it then. At the moment it’s all very confusing. But as I learned last week, everything that I need to be a Christian is very clear. If there are things that aren’t very clear, then they aren’t that important.

Writing this has made me remember how I felt last night. Confused and bewildered, but absolutely in awe. God is truly awesome.

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