Monday, 28 December 2009


N.B. So, 2009 is almost at a close, and I realise that I really haven't blogged much this year at all. Its not that I don't want to keep those few readers up-to-date with what I've been doing, I'm just finding it a bit harder to articulate myself these days...

Reading back through the entries I made this time last year, I feel like I don't know that person. I guess I don't right now. I guess that's what this journey, this one I am suffering myself with, is really all about. To find out more about me, about why I am the way I am and how it came to be like that. Whether I can actually change it at all.

I guess, despite my constant admissions that I dislike change (oh, and I do) I cannot deny the fact that I myself am constantly changing. Or rather, I know it, and I don't. Life; the world; circumstances and events; have changed me from the person that God created into this. What sits behind your computer screen typing this blog. And I guess what I'm really scared about, what I fear greatest of all is, have I forgotten how to fly?

Do I jump, and hope that before I hit the ground I will remember, or greater still, that someone will catch me? Do I take that chance knowing that if I don't make it, I will crash and burn. Or do I stand still, and never even make that attempt to leave the ground, knowing that even though I'm not flying, I'll be forever grounded. What do I do? Do I stand on the beach and continue to watch the world around me fall to pieces, but all the while knowing that I am safely standing on the beach. Or do I jump into the waves and ride them, taking the highs with the lows? Is it really better to have loved and lost, then to never have loved at all? Is it better to believe, knowing that one day you could lose all that you believed in? Or live not believing, with the chance that one day you could be proved wrong? Is it okay to go through life being just okay? Or is life all about being totally miserable and totally happy?

I guess these are the things I am trying to figure out. And although I haven't got very far yet, I'm learning that the smaller things in life matter the most: no matter what the world says. Good night. x

Friday, 27 November 2009


N.B. This is going to be more blunt and to the point than normal, because I just haven't got the energy to be using my literary skills. Sorry.

Okay, I admit it. Sometimes I work too much. You might think that that sounds like a boast or an attempt to make myself look good. It isn't. It is just a realisation that sometimes, there is a need to stop. I'm not very good at taking time off. There are two reasons for this: Firstly, I love my job, and the people that I work alongside (well, mostly), and secondly, I don't have many friends (outside of work) that are close enough to spend time with when I want to have time off. Also, Ryan lives in Kent. A combination of these things, and maybe a few other factors, lead to the fact that last week, I had to take time off to recover, because I was too exhausted to do anything constructive. I had to admit to myself (and to Ryan... how annoying when he is right!) that I needed to take a break.

So, after a disasterous weekend feeling rubbish, (and working Monday) I was sent home from lectures on Tuesday to recover. Wednesday and Friday I spent in bed, (okay, so I worked Thursday...) and I tell you, it was horrible. I woke up, and just didn't have the energy to do anything but lay in bed watching tv and dozing. Now, to some people, this might sound amazing. But I hated it, because the problem is that once I stop and rest, my body lets down its defences and I get properly ill, and so I have spent the last week getting over colds, sore throats, headaches, dizzy spells, exhaustion, back aches and other equally annoying and painful things... bleurgh.

The other reason I don't like taking time off is because I get bored and lonely. The last few months have a real challenge to keep me "in this world" emotionally because I have been having what I would call a 'crisis of self', and its been something that I actually haven't talked about much, although not for lack of trying. I just can't find the words to describe it, which is why its probably called a 'crisis'. So yeah. Basically... I'm a loony. No other way to put it really.

Have a good weekend.

"Putting all the vegetables away
That you bought at the grocery store today
And it goes fast
You think of the past
Suddenly everything has changed..."
'Suddenly Everything Has Changed' - The Postal Service

Thursday, 29 October 2009


N.B. So it's half term, and the "work" has more or less stopped. No college this week, just lots of time with friends, and a few hours supervising young people to paint the youth room. Ryan's been down, and left just a few hours ago, so primarily I am writing this in order to try and take my mind off how much I miss him.

These last few days I've been staying at the Andrews house because Ryan has been staying at mine. It's been great, and I've had lots of fun spending time as part of a family, something I've really missed since being back in England. Family is a large part of Filipino life, because even if biologically you are not related to anybody in a particular household, you are made to feel part of the family, and as though you belong there, as soon as you arrive. I have experienced much of the same feeling when with any of the few church families that I spend time with outside of work, but things around here have been pretty busy, and I've barely had much time (or energy) to do that since starting college in September. More recently I have spent more and more time on my own, working, preparing, studying, travelling, walking, sleeping, eating; especially since moving into my own place. But as much as I am getting used to my own company and doing things by myself, life can get pretty lonely sometimes.

Spending time with the Andrews has brought back many memories of my childhood, many twangs of the past springing up in my mind as I experienced family life once more. The only difference is that my memories of childhood are tainted by the stark reality that it didn’t last. The family life I remember while I was growing up will never become reality again. When I go home now, everything is different, and it will never be again the way it was when I was little. But as much as that hurts, as much as it kills me inside to know that my memories are just dark little shadows in a vast array of experiences that I will have in life, I have to let that go. Because holding on to sadness like that is too hard.

I have had an amazing week spending time with Ryan, the Andrews, Emma and other friends. I have laughed more in this last week that probably the last two months put together. And I have enjoyed being around people. Having Ryan down this week has made me think about how much I miss being close to people. I don't mean to push people away, but sometimes I just can't help it. But now I know that the closeness is what keeps me going. And so I guess, even if things return to normal, and I spend the next few weeks spending far too much time sitting around missing that, I will wait until I experience it again, because I want to live to see the future. I don't want to give up, even when the journey gets hard, like I know it will.

I guess what I’m trying to say is thank you. Thank you for allowing me to belong. Thank you for accepting me. Thank you for being so loving. You're amazing. x

Wednesday, 14 October 2009


N.B. Today at College, our afternoon session was looking at the concept of "Worship": what it means, how it has changed over the years, our experiences; good and bad; of sung worship, and different aspects of leading corporate worship. It was a really good session, even though I spent most of it away with the fairies and appearing uninterested; I was just reflecting back on past experiences...

When I first arrived in the Philippines back in July, I spent a few days in Manila before flying on to Negros. On the day after my arrival, I spent time in Payatas with the team that work at and attend the youth centre. I was given the warmest welcome ever, and even though I could barely remember very few of their names from the year before, they were all more than pleased to see me and have me stay there with them for a few days. (And of course, by the time I left I knew them all.) I was made to feel special and appreciated in a way that I don't understand, and hasn't been repeated that often since.

While I was there, about 20 of them were attending a Ministry Training Course run by Father Paul and the Youth Worker: Mhel. On my second evening, a few of us travelled to Mang Inasal (a really good chicken place with unlimited rice) and Tita Olyn treated us all to some food. It was a great evening of laughter, renewed friendship and honest realisations. Mhel blessed the food before we ate, during which he said: "Lord, help us to remember that everything we eat is food we have not shared with those who are hungry." Humbling and moving words from someone whom many in Western society would describe as "poor." Poor in material goods maybe, but rich in love, spirit, heart, acceptance, and passion for those who are suffering.

I stayed at Lourdes' that night, and overwhelmed and humbled from the hospitality I experienced from those who literally have nothing, it was a memorable night. The next morning we were up early, to have showers (a bucket of cold water that you pour over yourself with a jug), and "breakfast" (flavoured spaghetti, some sweet bread rolls and a chocolate milk drink) before setting off in the morning light around Payatas to do some errands that Lourdes had to do on behalf of the Youth Centre. Then we were off down to Block 7; the area at the base of the rubbish dump; where Fr. Paul lives when he is about in Payatas; because those on the training were leading some worship time with the families and children that live down there. Whilst completing the errands I was introduced to a few of Lourdes friends who live around Payatas and also had a good few invites to stay in people's homes the next time I came to stay in Payatas.

Of course, in true Filipino style, Lourdes and I turned up at 8am (the agreed time to meet) and spent nearly an hour waiting around for the rest of the group. I didn't mind in the slightest, as it gave me a chance to sit and observe some of the life that so often goes unrecorded at the base of the dump. Lourdes translated some of my questions to the local “shop” keeper, and I learned a little bit about the people who populated that part of the dumpsite, and saw a glimpse of what life must be like. When the others arrived, Guitar, Drumbox and bag of flavoured bread in tow; and greetings and hugs were exchanged; we gathered around a house doorway only a few feet from the fence that separated us from the mountain of rubbish that dominated and shadowed these people’s homes. I had a clear view of the dump, the guards and the people, young and old, clambering over the scraps of metal, plastic and waste clothing looking for anything that could be sold, exchanged for food, or used for something useful. And I experienced discomfort in the deepest, rawest sense.

It wasn’t the worship that made me uncomfortable. It wasn’t even the fact that all those who weren’t from the youth centre gradually made a circle of unabashed stares around me. It wasn’t even the smell that gradually overpowers you as you draw nearer to the beast of a dirty, smelly rubbish mountain. I had seen it the year before, and I had heard many stories about the things that went on day by day. I called myself a friend to some who lived there. But I had taken for granted so many things; I had wasted so many opportunities. I had let the culture and natures of English life sweep me away since the last time I stood in that place. I had not lived every day for a worthwhile reason. I hadn’t lived every day like I knew what was going on. And I did know. I had, in effect, forgotten the lessons I learned. And I hadn’t even realised.

And as I stood there, singing song of declaration and loyalty to God, I realised what a sham I’d made of things. And after streaming through the multitude of pre-mentioned thoughts in my head, I realised that none of it made any difference. I hadn’t any difference. I had failed to do all the things I thought I would when I returned to England the first time. These people still lived here; still suffered from poor health, poor housing, little to no education, and food only when profits from the dump allowed so. What had I done, or rather, what hadn’t I done?

Then I looked at the smiling faces all around me: children, teenagers and adults all singing their hearts out for God. If life was so bad, what was I missing here? What made them able to sing so freely of God’s blessing and goodness when I seemed to struggle so much? Was it that living here had disillusioned them into thinking this was normal life? I guess so – this was normal to them. But that did not stop the passion for those suffering around them to be conveyed so freely in their everyday lives. There was no hint of being disheartened that day: no attitude that things didn’t need to change. They were doing everything they could to change live for those around them. In those moments by the dump - they were worshipping God. They were telling the children who lived and worked on the dump that they needed to live for God. These young people, whose strength and determination is a constant inspiration to all who meet them, were praising their God – the God who changed so much in their lives. They were sharing the thing most precious to them. And as I stood there; I got it. Praise God.

“Oh dear God we ask for your favour,
Come and sweep through this place
Oh we desire You
I just wanna be with You, be where You are
Dwelling in Your Presence O God
Oh I want to walk with You

And I will climb this mountain
And I'll step off the shore
And I have chosen to follow
And be by Your side forever more

Tell me what You want me to do, Lord God
Tell me what You want for my life
It's Yours oh God, it's Yours
Do Your will, have Your way
Be Lord God in this place
Oh I want Your will to be done.”

‘By Your Side’ - Hillsong

[All photos from Jo Crowe (Click Here)]

Sunday, 4 October 2009


N.B. I'm just going to be brutally honest from now on, because I think the few people that still read this can handle it. That doesn't mean that I'm going to reveal everything I'm thinking, but it means that if I choose to talk about something, I'll talk about it.

I think I'm facing a real challenge to not fall back into the depressive state that I spent the majority of my teenage years in. I don't think there is any one reason for that, but many important factors that are adding to the weight that is getting heavier on my shoulders.

I feel like I have lost all my friends. I'm not talking about physically, because actually, they haven't gone anywhere. But since coming back from the Philippines, a series of circumstances seem to have resulted in me feeling emotionally abandoned. Maybe I am just expecting too much from them, but I there isn't a single person whom I trust enough to share my deepest struggle with. I don't know if that is a change in them, or a change in me, but I have lost the ability to share my struggles and not feel guilty about it. Everytime I prepare myself to offload, I think and worry about what the person is dealing with already, and don't want to add my troubles to the pile. So I once again put on that age-old mask, (and to be honest, it's getting pretty thin with all this use) and walk away. Maybe next time.

One of the main things I am worried about is University. When the hell did this happen? I'm a student. Everytime I look at the list of assignments we have I feel sick. I can't do work. I can't cope with this pressure. I don't even want to remember what happened the last time I was under this kind of pressure. It wasn't good. And what's with all this growing up? Could someone please tell me when it's my turn to be a kid? Did I miss it completely?

Today is the 5th year anniversary of the day my Dad left. The day that resulted in so much change, hurt and anguish that triggered some pretty crappy behaviour on the part of me and everyone else in my family. I don't know if thinking about that day will ever get easier. I guess not. But when I think of how things have moved on, on how much I've dealt with since then, on how far things have come, I can't help but smile a little. Who'd have ever thought that things would turn out like this? Could I ever have predicted what my life would be like right now? I doubt it.

To finish off the guesses about why I've been feeling so crap recently, I have to mention the Philippines. Apart from the fact that I just wish I was there and am getting overly sensitive and annoyed by everything in this country - the recent events that have shattered the place I idolise and love with all my heart is awful. My heart is torn by the devastation that is left in a place so often filled with smiles and laughter, even in the depth of poverty. It is a wonderful place. I have no doubt that the floods will leave people more determined to overcome the difficulties that are faced on a daily basis, and that the smiles and laughter that I have come to know well will not be wiped out. The Filipino's are a great nation, in many ways. And I know that no disaster will ever change that. I only wish that I could be there, helping those people whom I love so much, and not stuck here feeling pretty useless and alone.

That's it. That's me.

Monday, 14 September 2009


Sitting on the train this morning I could think of nothing other than how fast my life seems to be moving these days. And, just like sitting on a train and waiting for the driver to stop at someplace vaguely near where you want to go, I feel like I have no control. I feel like the world is rushing past me, or rather: I am rushing through the world, with nothing but a vague idea where my destination will be. And I'm not even sure I want to go there.

There is so much good in my life, and I am blessed with many friends and family who love me very much (I hope.) And yet I think one thing that don't think I have ever had; and maybe I never will have; is a sound mind. The ability to just enjoy something. To just be, in a moment. I try my very hardest, and perhaps over the summer I was the closest to contentment I have ever been, but now that I am back here I can see the hazy boundary of happiness slipping further and further out of my grip. Maybe the biggest challenge I have this year will be learning to not have to be in control. Because lets face it, I have to be. Maybe thats my problem. My need to be in control restricts impulsivity - the ability to allow the moment to dictate emotion. That's my biggest fear, and yet my biggest release. To just cry, because in that moment, tears are needed. To get angry, to react, because a reaction is needed. Maybe I don't have to internalise everything and wait till later. Maybe the world is a safer place than I first thought.

Saying that, my emotions have been so up and down the last few weeks that perhaps this entire blog is unnecessary. Perhaps I am just suffering with post-Philippines syndrome and when this all calms down and normal life is resumed I will have mastered all that I am aiming towards. We shall see.

"You wanna be invisible
You wanna be alone
But it's Monday morning and the weekends a long way to go...
You're living in free fall
You're living in free fall
And you just don't understand why you never land
And you don't believe any more
In what you're doing this for
And you do not dare to dream;
When you're just a wheel turning
Somebody else's machine"
'Freefall' - Amy Wadge

Tuesday, 8 September 2009


N.B. So I guess if you are any kind of regular visitor to this blog you may have noticed that I haven't written in a while. There are a variety of reasons for this, none of which I really want to bore you with right now, but I just wanted to update with a little what I have been doing recently, and maybe how I'm feeling right now.

For most of the summer holidays I was in the Philippines (29th July - 3rd September) catching up with old friends, helping out in a variety of projects that I was involved in last year. I also got to share in the Wedding Day of some dear friends of mine, which was of course an amazing privilege. It was an amazing time, to see all those people and places that I have been longing to return to for such a long time now. The time away changed me, in many ways. Lessons that I have been learning this year reaching the climax of their instigation in my life, and above all else, I came home with a lot less stuff weighing down on my shoulders than I went out with.

Since being back, I have begun to struggle once more with that - 'who am I now that I'm here?' kind of scenario: comparing everything to Filipino life and with a part of me constantly wishing that I was back in that place once again. I guess in a world with so much uncertainty, saying goodbye is never easy when you think that it may be your last.

But as well as that constant struggle, I feel that I have learnt some important life lessons that are moulding me well for my future. I have noticed a few remarkable changes in myself that may not be obvious to anyone else, but that are affecting the way I live in my everyday life. There are still parts of me that need revamping. There are past things that going to the Philippines brought up in my mind, although I may not have expressed them out loud. It is all a continual part of my journey, my coming to God in the final days, my meeting my maker. All this is just a small fraction of the greater things that are to come. And so I take each moment, each day as it arrives and settles. I rise in the morning and I flap my wings, desperate to achieve that ultimate goal. Maybe one day my feet will leave the ground.

"I can't stand to fly, I'm not that naive
I'm just out to find, the better part of me
I'm more than a bird
I'm more than a plane
More than some pretty face beside a train
It's not easy to be me"
'Superman' - Five For Fighting

Wednesday, 8 July 2009


So things have been pretty busy round here recently. I'm sorry for not blogging more, I guess some things have to give sometimes, and getting time to sit and reflect enough to write a thoughtful blog may not have been happening so much.

I guess checking Facebook is a far more effective way of keeping up with what I'm doing. Anyways. The last few weeks have been busy, and the next few weeks are going to be pretty eventful. I moved into my own flat last week, and take my young people away for the first time this weekend. I finish as an Optimum Volunteer in just under 2 weeks, and I fly to the Philippines in just under 3 weeks. All pretty major events that I am still trying to get my head around. Life is full of changes recently, and I've realised that on the whole, I've learnt to cope pretty well with that. Or at least I have learnt to better cope with the emotions that it brings.

I know that this summer will change me. I am looking forward to it really. Which is a big step for me. I know that there will be moments when I just don't know what to do, moments when I want to cry, moments when I'll feel like the happiest person in the world. But I guess if I have learnt anything this year, it is to ride the rollercoaster one loop at a time.

Right now, I'm finding a few things hard to cope with. Right now, I feel like I'm falling. Drowning. Being swallowed up by a big hole in my future that I just can't get out of. But things change. Circumstances change, people change, opinions change, moods change. Things are never quite what they seem. There are always depths, hidden meanings, underlying feuds, opinions and reasons why things are said and done. Sometimes it is better when these things remain hidden. I guess underneath people's problems are things that are harder to accept, harder to acknowledge and talk about. That's why people have problems. Because they hide the underlying causes. I guess it's when you try to dig too deep into those causes that you begin to get swallowed up.

"I'm all alone again
I like what she said, not what it means.
She leaves me drowning through the shallow days,
Way down below."
'Shallow Days' - Counting Crows

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Na Bata

N.B. They do say to never work with kids or animals, well, I disagree wholeheartedly!

Kids Klub on Monday was brilliant. We did the usual things, free play at the beginning, and then we all traped upstairs for the Bible story and prayer time, which is always really good because the kids are so enthusiastic and excited about the things we do. It's great.

So, we did the story of Ehud the judge and King Eglon, (Jo of course, playing the part of the fat king) and then we had prayer, and went downstairs to decorate some biscuits. Anyway, this particular Monday we had decided to give a children's Bible to all of the kids who didn't already own one.

So they're all queuing up to collect their Bible, and I'm writing their names in them, and one of the kids asks me if they can read it. I reply that they can! They ask me if they can read it right that second. I again, replied that they could. So they do. And then a few more of the kids come out of the hall where they have been playing and retrieve the bible that they had put with their coats ready to go home.

After all the Bible's have been signed, it's nearly home time so I walk back into the Main Hall to call the kids together, and there they all are, sitting along the window sill in a line, reading their new Bibles. About 15 of them! I wish I had got a picture cause it was the coolest thing ever!

When the parents arrived, lots of the kids ran excitedly out to their parents to show them their NEW BIBLE that was just for them. They were so excited, bless them. It was such a blessing to see and hear. Especially as I spend a vast majority of my time persuading and coaxing my young people into just picking up their Bibles!

So yes. This was my smiling moment of the week.

Saturday, 30 May 2009


N.B. It is 2am and I have found myself online, even though I intended to go to bed nearly 3 hours ago. How is this?

I like to explore myself. Discover emotions and feelings that fester under the surface of who I am, and affect me daily. Some people may not even be aware of what they truly hide down in the depths of their soul, as they have never tried to look through the darkness to see down that far. I have fallen through that darkness, and have wandered about. It was an interesting journey that I had to take to avoid total destruction from the inside out.

But I know that there are still depths that I have not uncovered yet. Things that lay hidden in dust covered chests in the corners of my inner cellar. I know that the chance to explore those places is yet to come. I am, at present, sitting in a waiting room - waiting for my appointment. So far, I don't know which Doctor I will be seeing. I don't know how I am feeling right now. Am I happy? Am I lonely? Am I waiting anxiously for a time that will be safe to "de-stress"? All these things I ask myself as I sit here.

Amongst my waiting, I ask myself, How much do I control my up's and down's? The more I look inside myself and analyse my reactions and emotions to every situation, the more I feel like I am gaining control over every aspect of my being. And yet, maybe I do not control this rollercoaster. Maybe I am just a very experienced rider - aware of the signs and feelings that precede each up and down. Maybe I know how the chemicals in my body will make me feel the morning after this feeling, or this one.

Either way, I am aware of something stirring. Something below the surface. When it will emerge, and what it will bring with it, I do not know. I just wait. And hope that sometime soon, it will all become clear, and that when it does, I can deal with that part of myself.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009


N.B. So I haven't blogged in a few months, partly because I'm finding it pretty hard to co-ordinate my thoughts long enough to sit down and write, and partly because I just haven't been in the mood. My head's been pretty clogged and it's hard to try and rationalise blog kind of thoughts. Apologies to the random few who might actually read this.

I'm still finding it pretty difficult to write something that doesn't sound insane. If I could actually get far enough inside my head to watch the thoughts zooming around then I think I might actually laugh, because this is really getting ridiculous now. I bounce myself between desperately searching contentment and thinking life couldn't be better. I bounce between extreme jealousy to extreme indifference. I don't seem to know who I am, or how I feel - but sometimes, I really don't seem to care. I think that's the strangest thing.

I just spent the last weekend up at the Northumbria Community. I still haven't quite worked out what I gained from it, but I enjoyed the experience. Enjoyed the routine of prayer, food and sleep. In a job like mine, you don't get much routine. And actually, it can really ruin my day if something gets changed last minute. Which sounds completely stupid, right? 'Cause I work with teenagers and I should be completely used to plans that change last minute. But I can't, I really can't. No matter how much I try not to, I live for the things that I hope for, that I look forward to. Take the Philippines trip as an example. It ruined nearly 2 months of my life because it was delayed by a few months. And it's not even just big things like that. Little tiny changes that wouldn't even cause a normal person to blink, cause me overwhelming grief and disappointment. Minute detail changes completely throw me. I seriously can't cope with an uncertain schedule.

I also enjoyed the open countryside. The chance to get out and get back to basics with nature - the quiet bubbling of the stream, the rushing wind and the sounds of pigeons and cows in the night. Living on Victoria Ward, you don't get much of that. I liked being able to roam the fields and not worry about having to plan this meeting or this group or that bible study. I tasted freedom for a few days and it was sweet.

Of course, I also know that all this is pretty meaningless right now. It's just how I'm feeling after not being "at work" for 6 days, and being completely out of the loop in all things Avenue right now. I don't know what's going on or what I'm supposed to be doing and it's obviously freaking me out enough to be like this after a really nice day in London with Ryan.*sigh* There you go. That's me.

"I was trying to find me something,
but I wasn't sure quite what..."
Ryan Adams - 'Oh My Sweet Carolina'

Sunday, 22 March 2009


N.B. I have to thank God for where He has put me this year. I think of how things might have worked out if I had had any other placement, and how marvellously He guides my life.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
Romans 8:28 [NIV]

The sermon tonight was on the middle section of Romans 8, which includes the above verse. Phil spoke about it from the NIV version of the Bible, because it includes a small word that is vital to the understanding of what Paul was trying to get across to the Roman churches - 'IN'. IN all things, God works. This really struck a chord with me, as it goes hand in hand with many things that I have been thinking over the last few weeks.

I didn't blog to say that I had an interview coming up with Oasis College for my University application for next year. On the train up to London on the day of my interview, I sat and wrote a list of all of the strengths that I could think of, because I knew they were bound to ask. But then, thinking about the questions they were likely to ask me, I wrote a list of my weaknesses too. Doing that, I noted how they had been used to delicately by God in order to teach me so much this year - as that old song says, He turns my weaknesses into his opportunities. How true!

Throughout my teenage years, and I guess even before that, many things occurred in my life that at the time, I thought, Why God? Why is this happening to me? It is a familiar story, many children and young people have things happen in their lives that they just can't understand or appreciate the reasons why. And that can be really hard to deal with. I definately struggled for years because of certain things, and even now, as an adult, I am still learning to deal with the repercussions of that. But events recently here have made me view all that suffering and hurt that I went through in a completely different light. I am literally seeing God work IN all of that, for good. I'll give you an example:

On the 3rd October 2003, my Dad went to work. As far as me and my brothers were concerned, it was like any other evening. I can't remember why, but that night my younger brother had decided to sleep in my room, because I had a spare bed. Late that night, when my Mum thought we were asleep, she came into my room and sat down and cried. I didn't know why, but very early the next morning, she came in and told us that Dad was leaving. At first, I guess I was mostly just in a state of disbelief, but I didn't really care. I never knew how much my life was going to change from that moment on.

The years that followed were really hard for me, especially as, since becoming a teenager I had already been struggling with few other things, and the added pressure of a broken home life added to my stress and anxiety levels. Through all of that I would never have thought of those years as God preparing me for what he was calling me to do. I never knew the reason why that all had to happen. But today I realised.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God."
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

This morning I ran a session with my young people on Forgiveness. It turned out to be a really challenging session, which was totally God's work because I'm sure it wasn't that good when I planned it. At the end of the session, I decided to go around and pray with them all individually that they would have the courage or the chance to act their forgiveness out on the person that they were struggling to forgive. There were a few young people really struggling with the concept of forgiving their Dad's f or leaving.

My heart went out to them, and I spent some time praying and chatting to each of the young people involved. Normally I don't really know what to say to someone who is upset - my policy is that a hug speaks a thousand words - but this was something that through my own experiences, I knew something about, and I thought that what they probably needed more than anything was for someone to draw alongside them and say, "Yeah, this sucks, and it hurts, and it's really hard. But you ARE going to get through it. And you don't have to do it alone." But I was only able to do that because I had been in their position; not entirely, because everyone's circumstances are different; but I was able to draw on that comfort that God had given to me in those years, and pass it on.

So yeah, I have learned a lot this weekend. And I think the lesson I am learning is to see the bigger picture. Because we are each just a small part of the plan that God has for the world. And on our own, we cannot work things out. But we learn to trust that God knows what is best, and that He will work in ALL things, to do Good.

Praise the Lord!

Thursday, 26 February 2009


N.B. Sorry to those who thought this would be an epiphany, or even remotely interesting or inspiring blog from the mind of Ami, because it's probably not going to be. I've not blogged recently, for many reasons. I'm feeling rather too delicate and one thing said the wrong way would make me cry... again; and mainly because the things I've been writing down recently aren't for public consumption.

I'm surviving. But I'm upset. I'm fed up. I'm lonely. I'm running out of steam to keep going. I lay awake at night thinking of that far off place. I feel selfish for feeling like this. I hope that tomorrow I will wake up and all this grogginess inside of me will have gone away. I'm thinking there are a hundred thousand million people in the world worse off than me, and all I can do about it is cry. I wish I was 8000 miles away from here. I'm not. I'm here. Sitting in this rather chilly church office trying remotely to type words that actually make correct sentences. I feel like no amount of reassurances and hugs will make me feel better. I hate that this has all hit me like this, and that each day doesn't seem to make one iota of difference, because my lifeline has been whisked back over the horizon again, and I know its nobodys fault. So I can't even get angry at anyone. Well, maybe, for the first time in my life, I'm feeling angry at God. I don't know. I don't even know what being angry with God entails. I'm also a little too afraid of him to actually BE angry at him. All I know is, if I'm being angry with him, I have to believe he exists. Yes, I am questioning everything right now. I'm searching for answers, and being met with more and more questions. I sit around for hours on end just trying to sort through the jumble in my head. I have things I can't tell anyone about. I write it all down, in my journal, but it doesn't make it any easier. I keep crying. It's doing my head in.

Sunday, 15 February 2009


In church on Sunday, Jim preached on the Parable of the Lost Son. I haven't heard the tape yet, so I'm not too sure what he actually said, (I was out with my young people) but on Sunday evening someone was talking about the two things that we learn about are the need for both a father figure, and a home. For me, both things have very negative/positive connotations that come to mind. But it was the latter of these two things that struck a chord with me on Sunday.

I've spent a lot of time on my own recently, probably beyond that which is normally healthy for me, but I've been thinking of a lot of things, and I guess that time has allowed me to process some things in my head that probably needed processing. In all this, I've definately recognised that I have changed. Normally the thought of spending an afternoon alone is actually frightening to me. But these last few weeks, I've craved that time alone, riding buses and walking and just sitting on a bench somewhere listening to music and carelessly watching the world pass me by. Its been awesome.

Amongst all my thinking, I realised that I may never return to live in the place that up until now, I have been calling my home. The house where my mum lives, where so many of my childhood memories and nightmares have been contained, where most of the junk I've acquired in my life is, it's not actually my home anymore. But the scariest part is, I don't know where it is. I seem to have lost it, somewhere along the way; misplaced it, or left it somewhere.

Recently, I bought a new film, Garden State. If you haven't seen it, seriously, go get it. I'd heard someone rant about it ages ago, but never really paid attention. Anyways, I've watching it a few times in the last few days, and each time I sat, knees tucked up under my chin as I sat on the floor in front of the TV, crying. The second of two things that have really changed for me since Training Week. I now cry... all the flipping time! At first I just thought it was an emotional thing, then I thought it might be hormonal, now it's just getting ridiculous. I'm not a cryer. I'm not even an emotional kind of person, I would say. It takes a lot for me to be open about how I'm really feeling. But recently, I've just been bleurgh. That's how I would describe it. Bleuuuuurgh.

Anyways, there is this section of the film where the main character Andrew (played by Zach Braff) talks about his idea of home with his semi-girlfriend Sam and he says this:

Andrew : "Do you remember that point in your life when you realise that the house you grew up in isn't really your home anymore? All of a sudden, even though you have a place where you can put all your stuff, that idea of home is gone."
Sam : "I feel like home at my house"
Andrew: "You'll see when you move out. It just happens one day - it's gone. And it's like, you can never get it back. It's like you feel homesick for a place that doesn't even exist. Maybe its like this rite of passage, you know, you won't get that feeling again until you create this new idea of home for yourself, you know, for your kids, for the family you start, it's like a cycle."

And watching this, it made me realise how 'home' isn't really a place that you can go to. It's a feeling. A feeling of being completely accepted, and being completely safe. It may be that at your house, you feel at home. I don't. I just feel like I'm living in a house, and that's where I happen to be this year. Maybe it's because I've moved 5 times in the last two years, maybe it's because so much has changed, for so many people, since I moved away from "home", I don't know. All I've realised is that being here, no matter how much I enjoy spending time with my Mum and brother, and being in a familiar surrounding, it's not home for me anymore.

But every now and again, when in the company of somebody that I trust and feel able to be myself with, (and yes, now there are a good few more of those poeple around) I get the odd flickering, familiar sensation of being safe and secure. That warm, appearingly perfect emotion that everything is okay. Even when it's not. But for that moment, for the time when you are surrounded by love and acceptance, it's there. I don't get it that often. But it is there, every now and again. And that's enough. For now.

Friday, 23 January 2009


Tonight, sitting alone in the lounge, I cried. I had spent all of this evening at home, watching TV, and watching the news, I I suddenly realised how terrifying the prospect of growing up in this world really is.

And actually, sitting here crying, I could think of no friends who I thought could help me. I longed to run to my Father and to hide behind his legs and cling to him for dear life. I longed for him to wrap his arms around me and let me know that it was all going to be okay. I longed for some sense of not being completely alone. Because I just didn't know how to cope with it.

Thoughts of not wanting to go on anymore plagued me constantly as the reams of news reports and current 'crises' ran through my mind. I thought of the implications of having to grow old in a world like this. But most of all, I desperately clung to the tip of my Fathers coat like a small child reaching for safety.

Sunday, 18 January 2009


When it came to sharing testimonies on the Thursday, (as is the tradition on Training Week) it was a massively emotional time for me and for the rest of the group as well. As we shared with each other the deep hurts and vulnerabilites that we had all mostly hidden until then, we became a group. We cried together. We laughed together. And we shared in that deep and personal bond that only occurs when we realise how truly broken and vulnerable we all are. That is the kind of unity that comes from Christ, and I think Paul talks about a lot in his letters to the various churches.

"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.
Honor one another above yourselves.
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality."
[Romans 12:9-13 NIV]

So I guess what I'm trying to say is, don't be afraid to be open. Through our sufferings, we learn to have fellowship with Christ. We share in the pain and death of each other, and together we share in that which He endured.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Box: Prt 2

N.B. continued from Part 1 ...

I sat alone in the chapel for a long time after the evening worship finished, reasoning desperately with God to take away the darkness that I felt inside. We sat in the worshipful silence for a long time together, and finally, I realised that I needed to write the feelings as they came to me. As I started writing, a song started playing that goes like this:

"What a friend I've found, closer than a brother
I have felt your touch, more intimate than lovers
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, friend forever

What a hope I've found, more faithful than a mother
It would break my heart, to ever lose each other
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, friend forever."

And as it played, I began to cry. Not bucket loads, but a gentle flow of tears. And that's when I knew it had begun. It was the first time I had cried in about four and a half months, and I was so relieved. As I let the tears fall, I began to write, and write: all those things that felt as raw and as heartbreaking as on the day they happened. For over an hour, I sat with God and I poured my heart out onto paper. I picked at every memory, and ripped it from my box. And I ended up with about 9 pages worth of feelings and emotions and memories that I hadn't really thought about in a long long time.

Over the next few days, I typed up and added to what I had written, and I found that the more I wrote, the better I felt. It was, one of the hardest things I have probably ever had to write. But it was also completely necessary and useful. There was no way that I could have gone on much longer with those things inside of me, because they held me back so much from being the person that God wants me to be. There was far too much of Ami-then trying to dictate how the Ami-now behaved. And it just wasn't working.

Coming back to Avenue, I shared the stuff I wrote with Phil and Rachel. And for once in my life, for those moments afterwards when they talked to me, I didn't feel like I was holding anything back. I could look them in the eye, and I could smile, without feeling ashamed or guilty or unworthy. It was amazing, and I want more of that. I don't want to have a past that I am ashamed of. Because I've realised that everything that happened back then, it made me who I was today. Not in the bad way, but in the sense that I can be strong, because I have endured. I can be sure, because I have been restored. I can be beautiful, because I am shining with the light of God's glory.

No more boxes.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Box: Prt 1

N.B. (I realised how long this entry was going to be, so I've split it.) I guess sometimes it is necessary to go back for a while before you can move forward. I've been at Training Week. Its been amazing.

On Tuesday evening, Andy Clarke was leading the worship, and towards the end of the response he said about letting things go. Forgetting the things that God wants you to let go of. It was kind of ironic, because I was still struggling with the last thing that God has asked me to do, and it was pretty much the opposite. I shall explain.

Back in August last year, I felt God telling me that it was time that I went back and faced all the things that I had been locking away in that box in the back of my mind that very rarely got opened. He wanted me to clear it out, throw everything away, because He didn't want me clinging to it anymore. He decided that it was time to start the healing process, but He couldn’t do that until I brought it out into the open where it could be seen. (I guess now I realise what that analogy Kat had a year ago was all about.) Knowing the reason why I had originally put all those things into that box in the first place meant that I did not want to open it. The whole point of putting it in a box was so that it could be locked away and never brought out, surely?

If I'm honest, I was terrified that if I really looked into that deep pit of hurt and pain that I knew was inside of me, I would fall in. And as September approached, and with it the thought of returning to Avenue, I really began to feel the pressure of what God had asked me to do. How could I bring into the open things that ran deep within my conscience and unconscience thoughts, the very root of why I am the way I am and why I react to so many things? More scarier than that, was the thought of having to share all those things with people that I love dearly, and that I work with every day. What if they rejected me? What if they didn't understand? I had no idea how I was going to do it, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted them to know the truth about me, because I wanted them to know who I REALLY was, not just the person that hid behind a mask all the time.

I had been struggling all summer with things, and I reached the point where I just needed to get it all out of me. I needed to know that I wasn't alone, and that I had people who could support me and be there for me when the time came for me to face all of those fears. And so when it came to returning to Southend in September, I arranged to talk with Phil and Rachel, so that I could share with them some things that I had only shared with a few people since moving to Southend. When it came to it, I managed to share a small, but honest part of my journey, and I am so glad that I did, because instead of finding rejection like has happened so many times in the past, I found some friends who were willing to walk the road with me.

As the days went on, I began to struggle more and more with what God was asking me to do. I fought to stay as far away from the dark abyss of unknown hurts that I possibly could. I struggled a lot in those few months, not wanting to look too closely at the darkness, and yet needing desperately to clear it out of me. I walked around it for a long time, feeling the darkness closing in around me, and only dared a few times to lean over the edge to look inside. The scariest part was probably not ever knowing how I was really feeling. Good times could come crashing down around me within minutes, and I never knew why. Intense feelings of anxiety and fear would overcome me, and being unable to cry, my stomach would just tie itself into knots, and I would lay awake desperately trying to gather my thoughts.

Chatting to Jo/Emma online throughout September/October, they both helped me to discover more of what God was really asking me to do. They helped me to realise that the fear of falling into my abyss was greater than what would actually happen if I did. That in order to clean it out and move forward, at some point I would probably have to allow myself to fall in, and to explore all the things that were hiding there in the darkness, stirring up emotions that I didn't understand and grabbing at strands of recollective memory in order to bring my world crashing down into the darkness. (I guess it was working.)

But, ever since then I had been falling through the darkness of the world inside my head that no-one ever gets to see and attempting desperately to see those things that lurked in the shadows. It'd been really hard trying to discover the things that lay at the root, and often I felt like I was hitting a brick wall when I tryed to explore deeper the reasons why I did things. So when Andy told us that it was time to forget all those things, I just couldn't, because I knew I needed to remember them and get them out of me first.

continued in Part 2...

Friday, 2 January 2009


N.B. I'll take this time to say that I hope everyone had a good Christmas and New Year. I know that circumstances often lead to a lot of people feeling worse over the last few weeks than they normally do, and I know how much that sucks. So to those people, I give my condolences.

I've been sitting here for a while wondering what to put in my Christmas/New Year blog, and I find that so often at this time of year, the tendency is one of two things, a) to look back at the time that has passed and rejoice on the good times and console ourselves that the bad times have gone, or b) to look ahead to the future and expect better times; hope for better times; and prepare ourselves willfully to survive all that might come our way. And although in essence, I have done both of these things recently, I would like to take a moment to pause in the here and now and reflect on just these last few hours.

I went for a walk down the sea front today, and took some photos of the murky water as the sun faded away behind the blanket of clouds. It wasn't any kind of spectacular sunset, the sky remained a dull white as it began to fall through the darkness into the night. I spent quite a bit of time sitting on some steps that led down into the water, watching the lapping waves and listening as families passed on the road behind me. And as night fell, I found an overwhelming urge to just sit, and to just be myself, alone with my thoughts, as scary as that is for me sometimes.

For a while I sat and watched some birds hopping along the tips of the groynes that remained above the water. And as I drifted into thinking, I saw there an invitation to go deeper, a calling that under the surface of that salty liquid was an experience beyond anything I could ever imagine. It was a bewildering feeling that overtook me in those few minutes, when I saw an end to the feelings that build up inside me as if I were drowning in that place. And for a while, the loneliness of sitting there excited me, and goaded me to enter that murky water as if nothing else mattered.

But when I closed my eyes and thought of those times in the Philippines when I sat and watched the sun set over the beach; when I ignored the bitter wind, dropping temperatures and the sight of Kent across the water, then for a minute or so, I could actually believe that I was back there once again, and that behind the dusky mist that lay on the horizon was actually the sight of mountains and palm trees and the most beautiful sunset I had ever seen. In my minds eye, I had entered the world in which I found so much within myself, and where I began to lay my anger to rest. I was back in that place where I accepted that God would be with me always, even when I try to chase Him away. And within those minutes of believing I was there again, I found a peace that calmed my raging fears. I found a home that beckoned my return, and I found a reason to carry on.

Just before I travelled to the Philippines last year, I wrote a blog, in which I reflected on some things that were affecting me, and how they had, in one way or another, found their resolution. And so I shall end this blog with the same words. 2009 is ready to begin. It will bring its challenges, and it will bring its joys. I shall take each as it comes. Life is a continuous journey, and we must not dwell too much on what is behind us, for that has gone, nor what will come ahead of us, for the challenge is not in path ahead, but in the momentary step. There will be times when old wounds come to the surface needing to be healed. There will be times when pleasure is cut short by sorrow. But every day has a sunset, and the morning brings the sunrise.