She was mortal and her humanity was fragile. Her chipped nail polish rested on once shaking, shivering and dainty hands that held on to memories muddled with older ones.
Her bed angled itself into the corner of a room, enabling the sun to shine on her weary and tired face. Cardboard glossy prints decorated her room reminding her of life lived and loved ones who rest in a place now familiar to her.
Confused and disjointed words fell from her mouth while prayers from ours fell on her ears.
A mother, a wife, and a daughter, Barbara. Her name meant ‘foreign woman’, somehow poetic in the relationship of stepmother to my father. Although sometimes absent, they were united by my grandfather. Family.
The TV echoed through the walls, occupying thinking space and time to reflect. The carpeted floor directed us to the ladies in blue shirts, who stood there repeating ‘thank you’ and ‘I’m sorry’, all final words which led us to the exit, the hand sanitiser and the door.
Through the darkest of nights, travelled have we
Through events unknown and unforeseen
Through it all, I ask of thee
Let me carry your load, come home to me
Buckling under pressure, you’re found on bended knee
Saying “Heavenly Father can you answer my plea?”
Eyes lifted to the clouds, they’re all that you see
In times uncomfortable, come home to me
Resilience is to define buoyancy
To recover when hard done by, a true ability
Your time will come, it’s beckoning
Faith in you always, come home to me
When you’re all I see
Oh how you won’t define me, calamity
With the refusal to ruin me,
Oh how I’ll overcome you, capacity
The oppressing blanket
You’re not going to see the end of me, finality
Because really, the profanity, the opacity you bring me is but a cavity
But I contain the resilience to patiently focus on the Heavenlies in the midst of a tragedy
Knowing it’s all woven into my life’s tapestry
Oh how beautiful the vulnerability of a fragile heart held in the hands of the Father, security.
Feeling like a visitor in the place you’ve called home for six years is a questionable notion to which I find myself now associated with.
I never thought I’d leave Sheffield and all of a sudden I’m lost in plans made for packing boxes, saying my goodbyes and letting go of dreams I once had for the city to then find myself in the shadows of memories made and experiences shared.
A few weeks ago I visited my favourite places around the city and ended up in the Peak District, the beautiful accessory that drapes itself around Sheffield boasting that life is so much better without city lights and cluttered sidewalks.
I visited the places where I’ve spent time with or without people. I sat and said goodbye to it all. I was stuck by how much I’d missed - how much more I have to learn about those places, those people and how beautiful it all really is.
Autumn is one of my favourite seasons; it’s where the world prepares itself for colder nights to come and says goodbye to the year gone by with a polite nod. When you give yourself a moment to reflect on your year, your story so far and how you got to where you are in life, you appreciate the small victories and the little defeats that made you who you are today.
Appreciate everything that’s brought you to this moment and let it go. Enjoy everything about your ‘now’ and give yourself a chance to breathe. We’re all so busy; we’re whisked away by plans made, work given and the sweet procrastination from actually taking risks or having an adventure.
The word ‘adventure’ has a few meanings. It’s a noun and a verb. Adventure; whatever it is to you - plan one and go on one and don’t do it alone, even if it’s for a few hours on an early December evening - be spontaneous for a while.
Feel like a visitor in somewhere familiar and find yourself falling in love with it all over again.
There’s so many people I’ve grown close to in Sheffield and because of that I didn’t want anyone to find this out through someone else – so here’s a blog from me to you.
A little announcement.
On the last day of my A level exams I moved to Sheffield to do an internship for a church in the city and after finishing the internship I stuck around. The past six years have been incredible, I’ve learned a lot and grown a lot and whoever you are reading this, if you’ve had a large or small part to play within those years, thank you, because anytime I’ve spent with you has somehow developed me into who I am today, me writing this.
The past few years really have been amazing, I’ve found more about who I am and who I want to be and that’s thanks to you, you reading this. Thank you for loving me and dreaming with me.
Looking back on the past six years is surreal, so much has happened and it’s happened all too quickly. I’ve laughed a lot and let go a lot and it’s time to let go again and time to move on, my time in Sheffield has come to an end and it’s time to go.
I’m not going anywhere far away but I’m leaving all the same. I’ll be living in Leeds - I’ve joined a church there where I can gain a lot but most of all give a lot. Leeds is a creative city that connects the North with London so I want to position myself in a place where I can develop creatively and pursue my dreams for creative media.
I’ll be leaving in the next month or so (if I can get someone to move into my house in Sheffield) so I can start the new year in Leeds.
I want to be able to say goodbye on a personal level so coffees or breakfasts are more than welcome, give me a text and we can arrange something.
So there it is - an end to the most phenomenal chapter so far.
Until the next one.
What inspires you? What is it that graces your eyes and makes you feel alive? There are two things in life that when they have my attention, they take me and my thoughts away for a while where for that moment in time, I’m removed from my somewhat all consuming present.
Music and scenery, if it’s a city or the countryside it doesn’t matter, music has the power and ability to define that moment and make it whatever it needs to be for me at that time and there I am, totally taken away by it all.
A month ago I was driving to a gig in Leeds but for what was the beginning of my evening was now the end of the day for the city folk, so as I was driving into the city, they were leaving it.
All kinds of people from all walks of life were sharing the same moment, the cityscape and it’s beauty. But what do we regard as beautiful?
Countless old beaten buildings, that appeared to have no use to anyone, were hidden away by other buildings that have grown up and around them - ever adapting to their new surroundings. But the old forgotten buildings still serve a purpose, they tell a story of a time before now. They are memories of the city’s past but on an idle Wednesday evening, the people in Leeds left the city not acknowledging it’s beauty, they left as if they were escaping, no longer viewing a cityscape but rather seeing a route for a city escape.
When I drove past people leaving Leeds, I noticed their cold disposition, how their day had taken a toll on them and it was now time to leave it for another eight hours before returning and welcoming a new day in.
Let’s go back to the ruined and forgotten buildings, though. Old buildings are my favourite, they tell a deeper story; they’re such a contrast to the new and boast that, in their day, they were of great use and now they are a landmark in time, they existed and they still exist but only now they’re in remembrance of what once was.
I can’t help but acknowledge them and relate to them. We all have ‘forgotten old buildings’ that we adapt our lives to and find ways of coping with. Whatever the ‘broken, forgotten buildings’ represent in your life, let me encourage you to acknowledge them, to be reminded that they were of use once and they served a beautiful purpose that made you who you are today. It’s ok to question why they existed but never regret their existence, they tell a chapter of your story. Let them be a reminder of what once was. When you visit them, don’t be tempted to escape but rather see them as a metaphorical landscape, a place to smile upon and be thankful that they exist as they are. And you as you are, is also beautiful - whatever the definition of that word means to you, embrace it and love it and be it.
On an autumn evening I find myself here again. In a pensive moment where my thoughts finally have permission to somehow work themselves out. Although time has graced me with such an opportunity, I’ve found myself in an all too familiar place of reflection and I come across thoughts that leave me with an unfamiliar disposition that I can’t quite acquaint myself with.
Have you ever had a moment where you realise you’re now an adult? You now have responsibility, you’re building a life and an environment for yourself that will one day define you, what you live for and why you live for it. Being an adolescent you had two options when a crisis would emerge, you either dealt with it or you didn’t. When I was a teen and a problem arose and, for whatever reason, I chose not to face it, I would say the phrase “talk to the hand” it was in refusal to what someone or something was trying to say or do.
I was driving home a few weeks ago and in the middle of a discussion about life and it’s unpredictable nature, the painful times when we really have to rely on the grace of God, my brother said those times are like dints in clay and God just has to smooth them out.
The Bible’s way of saying this is;
"O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel."
When we go through times that don’t make sense (to us) would we find ourselves talking to the hand, the potters hand. This is a different hand to that of a young dismissive adolescent, it’s a hand that wants to actively participate in the shaping and the structure of our lives. It’s the hand that wants to rebuild the broken parts and strengthen the damaged areas.
In times of loss, rejection or deep sorrow be comforted that God never takes His hands off you or your situation. As a potter is always forming and handling the creation, so God does with you. He never takes His hands away from you, never refuses you. There’s not a situation too broken to be fixed and there’s never a moment when He’s disappointed with His creation.
In the brave words of Elisabeth Elliot “God never withholds from His child that which His love and wisdom call good. God’s refusals are always merciful, severe mercies at times but mercies all the same. God never denies us our hearts desire except to give us something better”.
Whatever those “refusals” represent in your life, whatever state of confusion you find yourself in as a result of those refusals, be comforted that God’s story never ends there. We may plan our course but the Lord determines our steps - which is to say, “rest easy”.
And as my thoughts draw to a close, as the night rests and prepares itself for another day ahead, let me leave you with another quote from Elisabeth Elliot “leave it in the hands that were wounded for you”.
Leave it in the potters hands.
And if you too find yourself on an autumn night, reflecting and trying to acquaint yourself to an unfamiliar situation which is has all of a sudden become your reality, talk to the (potters) hand. He cares, He knows and He will never let you go.
In an idle moment when I’m at work but so far removed from work I’m back there, that place where my mind is at most ease and can run away freely chasing after memories made only just a few hours ago, that’s where for that glimpse in time, I’m happy.
And there in that moment I can celebrate, love, dance and find calm. But the torment of not being back there brings me back to reality when I find myself in only a moment of a memory but happy that I know it exists.
The circumstances in life that I went through to bring me to this place where those memories are made, I can somehow find thanks for them and move from them and remember that those other memories, the difficult ones where I had to learn the hard way all somehow work together to bring me to this moment, the one where I delight in my present.
Regret is a difficult emotion to deal with; it’s a very powerful noun but lives itself out as a verb. Decisions, feelings, thoughts and actions can all be determined due to regrets that we carry around without even knowing it.
Hard times, as trying as they are, help us appreciate what is in front of us now. I remember when I was 18 and asked God to do something beautiful in my life, it was only a few years later when I read through my old journal and came across those ignorant and carless words which were scribbled down somewhere in the early hours of the morning, that for me to of seen the ‘beautiful’ I was looking for, I had to recognise the ugly.
I took a personality test at work a year ago, without knowing me it described me better than some of my closest friends would be able to. It explained to me that I love being surrounded by people and think of them before myself because when I’m on my own I become my worst critic – so I position myself around people who bring me life and help me process the reality of my situation.
It takes strength and courage to recognise and realise and rectify the ‘ugly’ in our lives but how beautiful and how gracious and how loving it is to do – not only for ourselves but for the people in our lives who help us to appreciate our ‘now’ the people who we make those memories with who make moments blissful.
Acknowledge the hardships then send them on their way, wave them goodbye and walk into whatever lies ahead of you now. And I hope you too can sit at work or wherever but not really be there but be in the memories which you made only a few hours ago with the people in life who mean the most to you and make you thankful.
A few nights ago I was driving past my favourite spot near my parent’s house. It’s a lake, near a castle. The sky was clear and the moon was bright demonstrating its subtle beauty.
I drove past the lake and was surprised at how well it reflected the night’s sky as if it was doing it a favour.
The way water reflects the sky is a beautiful thing and I found myself thinking about reflections and reactions. Again.
What am I reflecting and how do I react?
The main denominator about the image isn’t the water and it isn’t the sky. It’s the wind. The thing you don’t see which affects the combination of it all. When the wind blows everything changes, the water creates a distorted picture of what it was attempting to reflect and the calm turns into something slightly chaotic.
And how undignified and how vulnerable the water looks when the wind blows.
So going back to the question, what’s our reaction? In hard times, in the times when we feel so easily shaken and easily moved, what’s our response?
I watched a preach a few days ago named after the Bel Biv Devoe song ‘That Girl is Poison’. It explains how we can all have things in our life which can be destructive and eat away at us and try to define us. But they don’t have to define us – our reaction can stop that.
What am I reflecting?
I’ve recently worn myself out in striving to be perfect. Unfortunately and realistically, that’s never going to happen.
All I can do is acknowledge who I’m reflecting.
When the winds blow and do their best to affect where I’m at, I find myself drenched in the grace of God. Again.
The view I saw the other night by the lake made me aware of God’s grace and how it’s His power which is made perfect in my weakness. And how in the ugliness of our brokenness, He makes us look beautiful once again.
And that’s ok.
And that’s healing.
In our weakness, His love is strong. In our failure, He has overcome. In our poverty, He has provided. And in our emptiness, our striving and our lack of clarity, He reigns.
He is consistent.
His love wins.
And so be encouraged, remember that Jesus reigns. His love is mightier than any gust of wind which tries to knock us of our feet.
Walk with confidence.
And reflect the beautiful grace which Jesus so freely gives us.
Impulsive moments make me feel alive.
Tonight, I had an impulsive moment.
I took a run around my neighborhood for the fist time. I’ve lived here since January and it hadn’t even crossed my mind yet.
But tonight it did. So I ran and gave my thoughts twenty minutes to define themselves.
At the end of my run I called in at my local shop to pick up some groceries. On my way home I found myself on a familiar street which I’ve only ever driven on, never walked on. And it was empty. Nothing but me and my grocery bag in my left hand and some detergent in my right. The city’s skyline had won me and I was lost somewhere in its ever changing reflections and movements. Loneliness or the city noise didn’t undermine the moment.
House lights filled homes with warmth and leaked onto the pavements outside and danced on the concrete bringing colour and life to it. And there I was, finally inspired to write again. I took a left turn too soon and ended up going in the wrong direction but I didn’t care, the city streets took me away to inspiration and enthusiasm, places which have been somewhere slightly forgotten to me for a while now.
I couldn’t get home quick enough. I just hoped I wouldn’t bump into anyone I knew in case my thoughts would leave me again. Clinging onto them, I drifted home staring at the clear sky, holding my grocery bag and detergent as if they were my only possessions.
Running upstairs I looked for my journal to write all of this down and I couldn’t find it. But anything would do. I found an old letter and wrote these words down. Words which would remind me of a time when my inspiration came back and brought me life.
And if these words somehow find you, I hope your inspiration, your passion or your hope returns to you also. And I hope they make you feel alive, even if it’s only for 20 minutes on a Thursday night.