The little things, and how they make the big, scary things better.

Since coming home I’ve been pretty worried about money. As I’m currently unemployed and can’t get a job until at least October I’ve been a bit nervous about the whole thing but God’s really been answering my prayers. Whether that be in my parents giving me money for the train or friends unexpectedly paying for my coffee or sharing their tray bake with me, it’s been so nice. The little things all add up so quickly, but it hasn’t just been the little things.

Today I bought a bike.

Originally I’d given myself a budget of £150 and hadn’t even thought about second hand, but a few pals told me definitely not to get a new one and suggested places to find decent second hand ones. I managed to get a really good one for an amazing price and tonight I had some cycle banter with a good friend.

But the best part? I didn’t even pay for it myself.

I have a great Gran. Myself, my brother and my cousins are all in our twenties but she still saves “pocket money” for us, and today, totally unexpectedly, she gave me more than enough money to cover the cost of the bike. I was kind of over the moon.

I prayed about getting a bike but was sort of afraid God would think it was one of those shallow prayers along the same lines as a kid asking Him for an X Box. But I guess my reasoning was pretty legitimate; I can’t drive, I went to keep fit, and I want to gain more independence before real life really starts.

Even tonight He used the bike to encourage me to trust in Him even more. My friend and I cycled to Groomsport, a village about 2 miles away from where I live. On the way there my foot kept cramping up and there were a few shaky moments when I was worried I was a bit screwed. My footwear choice was most definitely the problem, but I couldn’t change that before getting home again. So after a bit of a break in Groomsport we started to cycle home and I prayed for a wee bit, and y’ know what? “The foot” (as I kept calling it) was 100% fine, didn’t cramp up once. On top of that I had a lovely chat with my pal while we were sitting waiting for “the foot” to sort itself out.

Things in N.Ireland are certainly getting better and God is in all of it. June should be a good month 🙂

x

Plans, and how we have options.

It’s currently 9:11 am and I have been awake for approximately 56 minutes.

Life is so truly beautiful at the minute. Today is the first day in which a large part of my day, the morning, has been free and open for me to just hang out and do nothing. Tomorrow, packing to move back to Northern Ireland for a little while begins, but this morning I get to just chill.

Last year, if I’d stayed in Stirling for an extra 16 days after finishing, I know that my life would’ve been a lot more dull and the people I spent time with would’ve been a lot less beneficial to my life. But the past two weeks have been so busy and so full of amazing fellowship. There hasn’t been a single day which hasn’t been full of plans. I’ve been so busy that I’ve only just noticed the massive patch of beautiful blue flowers that have sprung up outside my window!

And I’ve liked it like this. I’ve liked that God has made my life completely busy and crazy because it’s helping me to say goodbye, it’s stopping me from sitting and being sad about leaving, it’s like the last hurrah for student life.

The past four years have been privileged in that I’ve known exactly what was coming up when each one ended; but this year I don’t know what’s coming up in September. I don’t have a job lined up or, currently, any big plans set in stone.

But I’m working on it; and because of that I can safely say God has got this. Too many people think that if you just wait around God will drop plans into your lap, but this isn’t the case. Yesterday on Twitter, Donald Miller posted this:

People who believe God has a distinct plan for their lives may simply fear the responsibility of shared agency. He is not a dictator.

For a long time now I have very much believed that God gives us different paths to choose from in each situation in life. Some of these paths will be in dark valleys while others will be on mountain tops, but, either way, he will use them for good. There are so many things I could do with my life after university but whatever I choose, God will work within those plans. 
I’m excited for this. I’m excited about the fact that God knows my options, and where I’m going, and that it’s all set out already, I just need to find it.
x


Jesus, how He is our hiding place, and rejoicing always.

When our hearts hurt it’s easy to be angry with God but I think, for the first time, I don’t want to do that; I did not choose God, He chose me, which means that His love is true and real. I’m the broken one, the messy one, the inherently sinful one, and yet He still loves me. In the midst of this storm He is the calm, He is my hiding place, He is the eagle wrapping its great wings around me, covering me in His love.

He is the only constant thing in my life, He is my steady, faithful companion. Humans come and go; some stay for a long time, while others disappear after just a few days, but He is always there, always chasing after us, calling us back to Him when we stray too far. He is the reason I got out of bed this morning and the reason that I will do the same tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that.

He is the reason that I will “rejoice always” (Thessalonians 5:16) and He is the only one who can truly bring me through this and eventually make my heart light again; I am head over heels in love with Him and He feels the same about me, if not more so. Clinging to Him at this time will make me a stronger, more well-rounded, better person, someone who does not need to trust in humans to get through the tough stuff but who truly knows what it is to cling to their Saviour.

I don’t like heartache, but I like Jesus an awful lot and I think He’s got this one sorted already. All I need now is some time.

x

Dumyat, hiking, and new life.

This morning I hiked up Dumyat at sunrise with some of the best people I know. Dumyat is one of the Ochil Hills and I’d wanted to go for a wander up it for ages now and was kind of just waiting for spring to roll around so we wouldn’t freeze to death while doing so. While we froze a little bit, we definitely didn’t die. We had some amazing worship, thanks to two of the guys who happily agreed to bring their guitars, and the fellowship was just amazing. It was definitely one of the best things to do before leaving Stirling as it symbolises massively to me how much I’ve changed in the past four years. 
In first year we had an amazing view from our kitchen of the Ochils and I’d frequently sit on our windowsill (which was a reasonable size) in the morning, sometimes with my Bible, and just stare at God’s creation. I was crazy; all I wanted in life was to party and drink, and now I have no idea how I got to that point.
Upon arriving home today I realised that very little in my worldly life would live up to the great joy I had felt while worshipping on Dumyat. At one point I was standing, bracing the harsh, cold winds, with my hands in my armpits to try and get some feeling back into them, jumping up and down saying, “I’m so happy! Actually, no, I’m joyful!” No amount of alcohol or partying ever made me feel like that. 
I am truly a new creation in Christ. 

I am the luckiest girl in the world and I am loved by the greatest God. 
When I was eighteen you would never have caught me going for a walk before 9:00 am, never mind a hike at sunrise. I got out of bed at 2:25 am after failing miserably to fall asleep because I was so excited, and did a round of texts and a few wake up calls. It was brilliant and exciting. The first time I suggested going at sunrise to my friend, Silje, I wasn’t even entirely serious because I didn’t think anyone else would be up for it; praise Jesus that they were. To find six people who were perfectly willing to join me on this crazy adventure (and it truly was an adventure) makes my heart so happy. 
I have found something amazing in Stirling and I’m sad that it has to come to an end, but God has big plans for me. Here’s hoping they’ll be back in this beautiful city, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

A list, and positive thoughts.

I’m currently trying to come to terms with the fact that in less than two weeks I have to leave beautiful Scotland and head back to Northern Ireland. After this I will have a month before I head to California for six weeks and I need to fill that month. So, thanks to one of my fellow bloggers over at Cath Loves, I’m going to make a list of the things I wish to do in the time that I’m home, because who doesn’t love a good list?

  1. Read the Lord of the Rings. Yes, yes, I realise there’s three massive books in the trilogy, so this basically means read as much as I possibly can in the time that I have.
  2. Read the first Game of Thrones book. Again, I realise that the Fellowship of the Ring will take me a decent amount of time, so this will possibly be read after that, and before the next two LOTR books, unless I’m really pumped up for those after the first. We shall see. Basically, the first two should just be encompassed into “READ”.
  3. Weather permitting, go for a morning run at least every other day (I’m lucky enough to live incredibly close to a beach – it’ll be just like Chariots of Fire!).
  4. Grow things. I’m a big fan of gardening and would love to get stuck into it again. I may try and grow a tomato plant or two, we shall see.
  5. Read the Bible every day and pray lots.
  6. See my friends as much as possible. Old friends, new friends, friends from nearby, friends from far away… just don’t let myself believe that there aren’t people at home who love me because there are. Stirling isn’t my only support system.
  7. Work on the book everyday; even if I write no more than 250 words at a time, just make progress.
  8. Get stuck into church. I have a great one in mind, and I need to start being independent enough to go without the parental unit or I’ll never really get involved.
  9. Cook for the fam lots. I love both, so why not?
  10. Write letters to amazing people.
  11. Bake things and mail it to amazing people.
  12. Don’t sit on my bum watching bad TV and refreshing Facebook/Tumblr/Twitter. None of these things will get me any were or make me feel any better about being in N.Ireland.
I’m pretty scared of home because it brings up the past, but I know God has got me, and He’s got this, and He’s going to change that. If I go home feeling negative about it it’s going to be awful, but if I can be even a little bit positive it’ll be grand.
x

Identity, unemployment, and ALWAYS being a child of God.

Today is a brilliant beyond brilliant day.

The wind is blowing, the rain is falling, I’m drinking tea, wearing my big sweatpants and a comfy hoodie, listening to the P.S. I Love You score, and Scotland is being as Scottish as ever. Church this morning was great and fellowship over lunch with some of my fellow-students was lovely. Today I am 100% content and it’s the nicest feeling in the world.

This morning a friend and I were talking about the whole “unemployment” bandwagon we’re about to become a part of. It’s a strange concept, after having either been on the “pupil” or “student” bandwagon for around eighteen years. The world is truly wide open to be explored and that’s exciting. But it is a strange thing to finally be coming into contact with. I was a little scared of it for about a week or so, but then I started to think of myself, and rightly so, as a daughter of God. It doesn’t matter if I’m in or out of work, that is the identity that I always want to possess.

1 John 3:1
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”
(NIV)


No matter where we are in life, no matter what we’re doing, or who we’re with, we are always walking with God; our lives should always be missional. We are always His, even when we have no one left in the world, He still holds us in His arms and He looks upon us with a face of love. Don’t ever doubt that, not even when your world is falling apart, because it is just true. His love for You is never ending and beautiful.

Romans 8:17
“Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.”
(NIV)

By being His child we don’t just experience a little bit of the pain that Christ suffered, but we also experience the wonderful blessings. We may struggle to find a job but God will bring us something good, and we may struggle in our job, but God will give us the strength to tackle it; He will never leave our side. We are so safe in Him. Even when, like today, the wind blows and the rain pours, He is our shelter, our hiding place. He calms our hearts and our souls and gives us exactly what we need.

x

My Book, and an extract from chapter one.


“Driving along the A9 to the far end of Bridge of Allan, a quaint yet cosmopolitan little village on the edge of Stirling, you come to a gap in the trees and, right before your eyes, are Stirling Castle, the Wallace Monument, and the Ochil Hills, standing proudly in a line.  At the start of my first year I was a bit terrified by this; Stirling was big and intimidating, it had once been a capital city where battles were fought, but most of all it was new. However, on every journey back in the three years after this, I would get excited as we drove along the road, making sure I was wide awake for this scene to once again stand right before my eyes. The city of Stirling had well and truly become home, and I would shed a few happy tears before realising I had to spend the next week unpacking and then, once again, go back to lectures and seminars and generally get bogged down in all the boring things that university brings. But I’ve never gotten over the true beauty of this place. The campus is gorgeous: right at its centre is a loch (man made but still stunning, nonetheless) full of swans and ducks, there’s little rabbits all over campus and once, in my final year, I even spotted a weasel and a few deer. You think that nothing beats Stirling in autumn, when the whole campus glows an orangey, gold colour, until you see it in spring when everything starts to grow again and all the bluebells and daffodils come out, and everywhere you go you see baby rabbits scampering around, and the loch brings delights such as nesting swans and ducklings…” 

This is the start of my book, the beginning. I’m excited for it, terrified but excited. So far I’m struggling because I’m so used to writing short blogs, but I think my dissertation has actually prepared me quite well to write something longer than a blog post.

I ask that you pray that my passion for this won’t die out, that I’ll be consistent and that I’ll write coherently and clearly.

x