Monday, 14 December 2015

Aunty Ali

There’s a very specific heartache that accompanies the knowledge that you’ll never see someone again in this life. Our mortal beings groan and grieve, while our spiritual selves rejoice in having another friend in Heaven with our Father. Why do I, and so many others, take comfort in that most human of traits: words? I don’t know the answer. It pains me to move from present to past tense when describing a loved one. I don’t presume to be the most wounded by this passing. Mourning is not a competition. It’s not a time for comparison. This is a journey home that I never wanted to take. It hurts, with every inch this boat moves closer to home, the reality of this loss becomes an inch harder to bear. The thing is, with someone you’ve grown up knowing, loving and respecting, when the thought occurs “what would she say?” you know your answer. I find myself with a mountain of encouragements running around my head, all with one thing in common, they came from her.
Ali Jackson was a guide to me. She was a light that I was always excited to be exposed to. She radiated love, joy and peace. She took me in and loved me like a daughter. She never missed a chance to tell me she loved me, and mentioned very specific reasons why. The incredible thing is that she meant it every single time. An attaboy from Ali was like being told you’ve done a good job by God himself. She represented so much of Him in my life. If you want to talk about Christlike, I’d point you no further than John and Ali. Their children are a testament to this. Every single one of the Jacksons has impacted my life in a massive way and they know that. I would not be the person I am today if I hadn’t spent so much time in their house and around such a holy, hilarious, loving and inspiring family. The friendships I have with them are my most cherished. When I was younger and dumber and wouldn’t let my mum in, Ali somehow turned me around. She always encouraged me in my relationship with my parents and family. She ALWAYS saw the good in people. And she opened my eyes to it. Her relationship with her children was something I aspire to. 
A light in me has gone out. It’s hard to describe because it’s not my love for her, that will remain forever. The people I love, and I’m incredibly blessed by the number that comes to mind when I say that, they each hold a place in my heart. A different place, a separate place. Each one is connected to my thoughts, words and actions. I treat them differently in accordance with how I’ve learned to love them as individuals. Where one needs hugs, another needs words, and another again just needs my time. It is my aspiration in life to become as good as Ali at showing this unique and all-encompassing love. The large space of my heart reserved for showing love to Aunty Ali will never again in this life be put to use. That hurts. She was so easy to love, and I saw it as an honour to learn how to show her a unique love that she made every effort to show so many others. I think I nailed it with tea. Knowing how to make her version of the perfect cuppa is something I’ll hold onto. It’s a strange line to walk when you realise your friends’ mum is also just straight up, your friend. I laughed so much with Aunty Ali. She knew what to say and her comedic timing was gold. She was so quick to laugh too, responsible in part for my thinking I’m hilarious. 
Aunty Ali lived her live with a beauty that I’ve only ever read about in Biblical women. She had the laughter of Sarah, the faith of Esther, the humility of Mary, and was as aware of her own salvation as Mary Magdalene. At a women’s retreat recently we sang a song that repeats a line “I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God.” Aunty Ali knew she was God’s. She lived her life in that knowledge. She’s now with her Father. There’s a very specific heartache that accompanies the knowledge that you’ll never see someone again in this life. The world is dimmer without her here, but Heaven just got that little bit brighter, so while there is heartache, there is also rejoicing and hope. I live in hope. Hope of Heaven, hope that I’ll end up with God, hope that I’ll see Aunty Ali again.

Isaiah 40:28-31 “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Monday, 16 June 2014

Life and Hannah Montana

With just a week left until I head back to bonnie Scotland, I’ve been reflecting a lot on this past year. I’ve been chucked out a house, locked out my flat, met some incredible people, gained some hugely useful life and work experience, visited some unforgettable places and learnt from it all. All in all, I am blessed beyond belief to have had this experience. Throughout everything, I was reminded of the wise words of Hannah Montana “Life’s what you make it so let’s make it rock.” LOLZZZ. But for reals, before I came away I was asking a friend who had done a similar year what I could expect, and she said “It is what you make it.” That stuck with me, and helped me really appreciate everything as it was happening.

I also have a newfound appreciation for home. It’s been said a million times that love is like coming home, and I count myself incredibly blessed to know that my home IS love. This is where I crack out some linguistic awesomeness: The Spanish for “I miss you” is “Te echo de menos” and actually comes from the Portuguese “Achar menos” which means “feel the need of/for” or “to find oneself less than before.” I love this because it describes pretty perfectly how I have felt this year. Yes, I have missed my family and friends, but more importantly, I have realised the need I feel for them. Language can be beautiful.

I’m now facing the beginning of my Honours course, where I’ll spend a semester in Glasgow then one in France somewhere, then after that I’ll enter my final year and (if I pass) I’ll graduate in 2016! I’m saying this deliberately, because I’ve learnt this year that it doesn’t help to live your life constantly thinking about the next thing and the future. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely have goals and I have a loose plan for my life...but God has an even greater plan for me and I’d never forgive myself if I missed his plan by being so focused on my own. Life is beautiful. I don’t know when it became cool to be cynical, or naive to be optimistic, but I don’t care. Life is truly beautiful, and you only see it when you stop to pay attention to the beauty that exists all around us. As a Christian this is something close to my heart. I want to be able to tell God that I marvelled at His creation every chance I got. The smile on the face of a loved one, the smell of home, the joy of laughing with old friends, the strangers who accept you and treat you like one of their own, the heavy nostalgia when you hear certain songs, the treasure of shared memories. How incredible is this life?!

This is why I will forever choose to go on Wandering through this life in Hope, Faith and Love.

Thank you so so much to everyone who has followed me and encouraged me this year, I hope I was able to bring a bit of joy and humour to your day!

Dios te bendiga,


Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Silence and 21

Hiyaaaa. Sorry it’s been a while since my last post but a lot has happened in the meantime! I had my parents and my brother over for a visit then I was home for Semana Santa and now suddenly it’s May and I only have 3 weeks of work left. It’s also my birthday on Sunday and as I’ve been thinking about spending it alone for the first time in my life, I’ve realised, or rather noticed, something that’s crazy.

We are obsessed with multi-tasking.

I caught myself the other day flicking between Facebook and the film I was watching while playing a game and texting on my phone. All at the same time. What is that?! It led me to think that if that’s what I’m doing on the outside, what kind of chance am I giving my insides? Not my literal insides like essential organs and stuff, but my mind and my heart. I think it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stop doing and simply be. That may sound a bit hippy but stick with me. I don’t know if it’s a fear of missing something major or an avoidance of our own headspace or even just a human longing to constantly know and see more, but one thing is clear: I tend to forget what it means to entertain myself. Now this is not a Social Media Hate Letter. As someone living alone and far away from family and friends, Social Media is a blessing. I have mad respekt for the Erasmus Students of old. My point here is that as it gets harder to put down our phones/laptops/tablets/whatever new fangled inventions there are, it also gets harder to find the silence. That’s all I wanted to say...just look for the silence from time to time. It’s pretty excellent.

In other news, I’m turning 21 on Sunday!!! I know I already said that, but it’s exciting so I said it twice. Deal with it. In honour of this joyous occasion I’m gonna post a few links that are for nothing other than entertainment and happiness. I figure it’ll let me feel closer to everyone if I know we’re laughing together at these. If you don’t find them funny then that’s fine. But whatever. But fine.

This one is hilarious but may require a pinch of salt if you're easily offended...but then chances are I've already offended you, so you're not even reading we're grand.

Skip to 2:40 on this one...legitimately one of my favourite videos that's ever existed:

This is almost 2 hours of bloopers from The Office:

If you didn't find any of that funny then why are we friends??? Totes joking...

Anyways sorry this one was a bit all over the place but it's representative of my head right now so hopefully you get it. Thank you all again for reading and all the best for those sitting exams etc. around now!

Dios te bendiga,


Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Lent and the Little Things

Hey everybody, I thought I’d change things up a bit this week. As you’re all probably aware, Lent started last week and if you take part in it and are anything like me, you may have failed at whatever you were doing already. Fear not. I’ve always liked the way different people have different approaches to Lent, and for me, it’s the most personal event in the Church calendar. What I mean by that is that only we can know what we should really give up or try harder at or focus on during this time. There’s no use saying to someone “you should do this for Lent” because I think it’s a real time between yourself and God, so the decisions should be made that way. I would love to say that I have the memory and discipline to be able to not drink or eat sugar or whatever it is people do for these 40 days, but I just don’t. I do believe it’s important to strip away unnecessary things at this time, and I do try, but in recent years I’ve also found that adding certain things to my life really enhances my experience of Lent.

I like to take this time to reflect on the blessings that have come throughout my life, all of which are ultimately due to Christ’s most perfect sacrifice. I do this by actively thanking Him daily for whatever happens that makes me smile. It works both ways because having these things at the front of my mind always puts me in a really good mood! Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.”

With that in mind, I had an idea to think of a blessing for every day of Lent and thank God for them. This is only a very small thing but it helps me and in the hope that it might help you, or even just make you smile, I’m gonna share them. This list is (clearly) in no order and varies from the philosophical to the downright absurd. What they all have in common is that, without God, they would mean nothing.

  1. The feeling of putting on a hoody when the sun goes down at camp/on holiday.
  2. The fact that every day by just going out and living, you’re almost guaranteed a new anecdote.
  3. Being woken up by the sun streaming in the window.
  4. Telling a joke in a foreign language. (bonus points if they actually laugh)
  5. That one song that can make you feel better no matter how crap your day has been.
  6. My family.
  7. Being able to think rationally about something.
  8. Conversations that you never want to end.
  9. Ecumenism.
  10. Seeing old friends and going straight back to the way you’ve always related.
  11. Being able to call a place “home.”
  12. Being able to go home.
  13. Being able to give to charity.
  14. Adventures.
  15. Forgiveness.
  16. When someone says exactly what you need to hear, exactly when you need to hear it.
  17. Doing something improvised that could not have gone better even if it was planned.
  18. Failure, or more precisely, learning from failure.
  19. Deep chats with interesting people.
  20. Seeing kids just being kids. I will say this is one of my faves.
  21. When someone does something just out of love for others.
  22. My friends. I’m convinced I know some of the greatest people on God’s green Earth.
  23. Reading the Bible and realising time and time again how much it applies to our lives today.
  24. Younger siblings. Watching them grow up. Realising what a dick I was to my parents.
  25. That kind of love that makes you forget to breathe for a second and your heart hurts. This one is special because it’s not necessarily romantic, it’s just straight up love.
  26. Appreciating something as it is happening.
  27. Making the best of a bad situation.
  28. Realising how well you were raised, and what impact that has had on your life.
  29. Being influential and trying to be a good influence.
  30. Reaching an age at which you totes don’t care for drama.
  31. When a group of regular people come together to create something incredible. In my personal experience, I’ve gotten to see this every year at Sentry Camp.
  32. Sentry Camp. Yeah it gets a separate one because it’s just that awesome.
  33. Learning the difference between doing what you love, and loving what you do.
  34. Scottish accents outside of Scotland. Anyone who lives away from home, just replace “Scottish” and “Scotland” with your own accent and homeland and you’ll no doubt agree.
  35. Hugs. In the right setting with the right people, they are powerful.
  36. Learning that God’s got your back and it’s not actually going to help anything if you stress. The peace that comes from that is hard to beat.
  37. Laughing. I can’t express my appreciation for this one. Equally, making other people laugh. I swear it’s like when Harry looks in the Mirror of Erised and sees the Philosopher’s Stone in his pocket then it’s actually there. I’d also like to add a part 2 to this one: Wondering what you would see when you look in the Mirror of Erised.
  38. Harry Potter. Some of you may question this, but frankly I don’t care. Lol jokes I totes care. My reason for this one is because those books are my childhood. This one kind of doubles up too, it may as well say “memories of my childhood.”
  39. The luxury of having time to think, reflect, pray etc. And using it.
  40. Discovering your talents and being in situations where you can use them to help others.

I want to finish by saying that as some of us strip away the unnecessary at this time, it’s important to remember those who don’t even have the necessary, and keep them in our thoughts and prayers. We are an unbelievably privileged people. We must use our position to love, to care for, to fight for, to help those less fortunate than ourselves.

Thanks again for reading!

Dios te bendiga,


Monday, 17 February 2014

Revolutions and Trying

Amid rolling blackouts and severe weather warnings, I want to talk about something that warms me to my core: kindness. There's a revolution stirring in the corners of social media and spreading further across the globe as I type. This is not a new concept. It is certainly not an outdated idea. With the spreading of the RAKnomination phenomenon, people are coming round to the idea that kindness can change the world. This philosophy is an old one, but I believe it is the most truthful. For too long, society has labeled individuals and allowed them to be persecuted for whatever reason. I am so sick of the way this world carries itself. It's difficult for me to write like this because I've always hated the idea of no one individual being specifically culpable, but I've realised that THAT is the exact point. We can point fingers as long as we live, but in doing so, we are constantly pointing away from ourselves. 

The way I see it is that I can do what I can to be kind, compassionate and loving in this entirely imbalanced world, and hope that those around me are doing the same. I'm a hugely optimistic person, almost to the point of naivety as I've been told in the past, but frankly, I would rather be optimistic and think the best of people and accept and love everyone than any alternative. It's a fight and a struggle to show kindness at all times. Sometimes we fight our own prejudices, or we struggle with the way a person presents themselves, or heaven forbid someone disagrees with the way we think. But we go on trying because we know it is right.

I've always been particularly drawn to the story of Mary Magdalene. She was seen as the lowest of the low, a prostitute who deserved nothing but death. And yet, Jesus saved her. He put his own body in the line of persecution and called for her killers to reflect upon themselves. I am drawn to this story for 2 reasons. 1. I can relate to Mary in her sin and guilt and 2. I can relate to the persecutors who stood there that day ready to kill a woman, while each of them had their own faults.

So what do we do with this inevitable failure in life? We try. We try again. We never stop trying to live the life we are called to. And in this, ironically, we triumph. In this, we take our place among the great men and women of this world. In this, we use our past as the foundation for a wiser, brighter, kinder future. If this seems totes depressballs, you've not read it right. You've not read it right because my point here is that in goodness, kindness, compassion and love, we triumph. In God we triumph.

Ode to Trying

I recently spoke with a friend
About our Stories.

Our Stories are our past.
Our Stories explain why we are the way we are, 
They convey our insecurities, 
Our fears, our joys, our blessings.
They shed light on the areas of our lives, 
That have brought us to this point.

But our Stories do not define us.

My past does not define me.
In the same way, I cannot simply ignore my story and start a new life.
No, we build, we move, we learn.
Our pasts do not define us,
It is what we do with our past that defines us.
A broken past, a broken family, a broken heart,
These things are hard to overcome.
But they are not impossible.
We try, we try, we try.
All we can do in this life is try.
With hope and direction and faith, we try each day.

They say anything worth having is worth fighting for.
Then fight. 
Fight whatever is stopping you from doing the right thing.

Fight to understand, to learn, to obey, to listen, to hear,
to improve, to love, to believe, to dream, to build, to create,
to pity, to sympathise, to support, to encourage, to have faith,
to be equal, to be heard.

Because it's a life worth fighting for.

Pretty heavy stuff, but we're living in an intense world so whatevs. Hope you all have a great week. Thanks for reading!

Dios te bendiga,


Saturday, 25 January 2014

Brats and Communist China

There are certain things you don't count on when you go a year to Spain...getting a wicked cold is one of them. I'm super stuffed up this week, and it's making it an extra struggle to get to work and to be away from home. But I press on because these are not real problems.

I have this one class who are, to be politically correct, a bunch of brats. Now don't get me wrong, they're lovely kids, they have just never been told "No." in their lives. This made me think of my own upbringing. I don't easily throw around the word "oppression", but the Good Lord knows that I was told "No." as a child. Mum/Dad I'm toootes joking about the oppression comment. Please don't get the wooden spoon. Anyway, my point is that I am beyond grateful for my childhood/upbringing. I was given an all-access pass to one thing, and it was love. I definitely didn't see it at the time, and I definitely gave my parents a hard time, but looking back I know that everything has formed me into who I am today. So I guess this one goes out to the parents who know when to say "No." And the kids/teenagers who think they're living in Communist China...just deal with it and trust them, man.

This week, I thought I'd share something I wrote a while ago. To understand this, you need to know that I've always found it easy to be creative when there are no boundaries. This means sometimes I start writing and never finish. It also means I write things at times from the viewpoint of my younger self. This is one of those and as I read it back, I realised that it perfectly represents that moment in my life when I decided that I want to live for God. The Dr. Seuss-esque rhyme makes it seem quite juvenile but I think that's the intention. I think it expresses the vulnerability of a young person, for whom nothing is certain, suddenly realising that there is one certainty in life. I'm saying this, but I definitely didn't think this much about it while writing it...anyways, without further ado, here it is.

Ode to The Moments

There are moments in life where I stop and I think,
There’s me and there’s God and there seems no link,
Then a moment follows where I stop in my tracks,
Realising what He’s done I need to give back.

I grow from each moment with time and with hope,
And even when I’m at the end of my rope,
I call upon God for He’s the only one,
Who saves me each time with the power of His Son.

The power to remind me of all of the love,
He showed me when He sent His Son from above.
The power when He says it was all for you,
That His sacrifice should strengthen and renew.

These moments I live I wouldn’t take back.
When He’s at my side with a hand on my back,
Nudging me on to the goal He set out,
The life that I’m worth, another step on the mount.

And so I press on with my heart set on Him,
For the one who forgave me my every last sin.
To Him be the honour of all of my life,
And to Him be the thanks for His aid in my strife.

Thanks for reading. Until next time, Dios te bendiga,


Sunday, 12 January 2014

Travelling and Epiphanies

Did you know that the Epiphany is Spain's Christmas? What I mean is that they get presents and spend the day with their family and all the things we do on Christmas Day, they do on 6th January. They didn't actually even celebrate Christmas until like 10 or 15 years ago when it's commercialisation hit the shores (or stores?) of Spain. The big companies saw how much money they could make by having two days to buy gifts for and they've never looked back. I asked a kid at school what they got and they said "I got a tablet for Christmas and a Laptop for Reyes." (which is Spanish for Kings, as in The day the Kings came, as in the Epiphany) To me, that's just cREYESzy. lol.

In honour of this special day, I'd like to share an epiphany I had. (GET IT?!) As some of you know, I chose the biggest trek of a travel plan which totaled about 70 hours there and back. It was entirely worth it, but something happened on my way back to Spain that struck me. I had an idea...It might have been God, it might also have been extreme exhaustion...either way I'm going to try it out and hopefully keep it up. The idea is to write an Ode Series. Now I only did high school English and I'm not hugely familiar with the world of poetry, but on my travels I began to write, and what I wrote surprised me and this just seemed to fit.

The idea came to me as I cast my mind back over the Christmas holidays and wondered why it felt so special and the answer hit me straight away: people. People are what make my life special. People are where I see God. He works through people to get to me and it's effective. There are too many people in my head that I would want a chance, and the courage, to honour personally so this is my way of doing that.

With that in mind I'd like to share what I wrote.

Ode to the Broken

There are people in life,
Well, there are lives,
That become broken.
Death, separation, poverty, depression, abuse, darkness.
Through no fault of their own,
They find themselves,
Well, a part of themselves,

Class does not protect them.
Money cannot save them.
Running will not heal them.
There are those who break,
And declare themselves irreparable.
Well, it seems that way.

Then there are those who break,
And fight to repair what’s broken.
These people find their strength
In love, faith and hope.

Two young girls who lost their mother,
On Christmas Day, 3 months later,
Somehow become a light for everyone around them.
They shine out with love and hope for the future.

Do not think they are unbroken.
These young girls are shattered.

The difference is that they did not allow the end of one life,
To be the end of their own.
These young girls are my heroes.

They will wander in 50 years still with scars of the break.
But what will seep through these scars?
Hatred and bitterness and cynicism and darkness?
Or love and faith and hope and support for others in similar situations?

If you asked me, I’d say humans never fully recover from a break.
Yet there remains a choice.
A simple choice, made difficult through natural tendency.
A choice that will change their life,
And the lives of everyone around them.
Accept and share an all-encompassing love,
Or numb the pain, and reject positivity.
These are both dangerous paths,
One can bring hurt and painful memories and vulnerability,
The other can bring only darkness.

Make the right choice.

Thanks for reading and I'm open to suggestions as to where this could go/how I could improve the idea! I hope you are all enjoying a new year filled with new opportunities for love, faith and hope.

Dios te bendiga,