Why David Beckham isn’t a Revolutionary

So everyone’s pretty excited about the fact that David Beckham is giving his salary for the next five months to a charity. I won’t deny it, I think it’s pretty cool too. After years and years of people being unhappy that sports stars make so much money just to play sport, it’s good to see one of them doing something so generous. But I also think that, in the long run, it won’t really affect him that much.

Check this out:

Mark 12:21-44
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling His disciples to Him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything – all she had to live on.”
(NIV)

I think it’s really easy to look at someone like David Beckham and think that what he’s doing is revolutionary because it’s such a big amount of money. But I also think that the true revolutionaries are the people who give when they don’t have much at all, when they struggle to afford to pay for their groceries, never mind donating to charities. But people like this aren’t in the lime light like Mr Beckham is, so they go unnoticed, just like the widow.

I don’t know this for certain but I highly doubt that Beckham will have to give up very much in his life to donate this money. Five month’s salary will be nothing in comparison to the millions that he’s made in all the years he’s been a footballer. Even if his contract is extended and he continues to donate I doubt he’ll be out of pocket by much when it comes to an end.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I think David Beckham is an idiot or that this is some sort of publicity stunt, I highly doubt that, but I just think we should remember those who donate money to charity constantly who can’t really afford to do it; those are the true revolutionaries.

The 2012 Graduate: Seven Months Later…

Dear Annie/Marianne,

You graduated at the end of June last year and things haven’t exactly been smooth sailing. The transition from student to graduand to graduate happened in the blink of an eye and, for a few months, you found yourself unemployed, sleeping late most days, and constantly looking for jobs. You had no idea what you wanted to do with your life and summer 2012 was far from the excitement you had found in your student summers, jetting 3000 miles away two years in a row and exploring the Grand Old US of A. But you put up with the Northern Irish weather, hung out with your pals every so often, and spent a lot of time with Jesus. That was the best thing you did with your time last summer and you’re so grateful that He was there for you through it all.

August rolled around and you decided to help out at a kids club in Co. Cavan, something your pal had been asking you to do every summer for years but that you’d always chickened out of or missed because of your travels. You were hesitant but figured you should go for it and it turns out it was the best week of your summer. You made some brilliant friends, worked with some amazing kids, and grew even closer to Jesus. Oh, and I forgot to mention this, but before you went you managed to find a job too. Not exactly the one you’d been dreaming of (because, really, you had no idea what that was in August) but it was something, and something is better than nothing.

Finally it was September again. You were filled with thoughts about how this was usually the time you started packing up to go back to uni, but instead were preparing to start your new job. You weren’t exactly excited for it but after a few days realised you were going to be working with some of the best people you’d ever met. Work has had it’s bad points, but the people side of things has always been amazing. Your work mates are what keep you going throughout the day, and are way more supportive than they have to be; you really appreciate them.

You also started learning to drive in September! You’d waited for that one since you were eighteen and were so ready to no longer have to constantly rely on people for lifts. You really wanted to have passed your test before Christmas but decided that mid-January was a more reasonable time. When your test rolled around you’d prayed lots about it and managed to pass first time! You had also passed your theory test first time too, so you saved yourself a lot of money in not having to re-sit anything.

Things started to slow down at the end of 2012 and the last two months are this horrible blur of what felt like really bad depression. You were lacking in any sort of social life, angry that you still hadn’t figured out what you wanted to do with your life, and were scared that you would be stuck in your current job forever, and that it didn’t matter how quickly September 2013 came around, you would still be in the same place. You were as far from God as you may have ever been until you picked up a little book called The Screwtape Letters by this guy called C.S. Lewis. That blew your mind and got you back on track. As soon as you awoke on New Years Day you knew 2013 would be better and you haven’t struggled with any sort of depression at all so far. 

You’ve spent a lot of time since you graduated working on the things you’re good at, like guitar and singing, and writing, and cooking and baking. You’ve understood how insanely talented you are, mostly in things that you don’t feel you’ve had to put all that much effort in to, and you realise how lucky you are in that respect. You’re also hoping to buy an SLR before the summer. You’ve always adored photography, another thing that comes naturally to you, and feel that if you can finally afford one then you should go for it. You’re also excited for the film aspect of it too. Who knows what could come of that?

This is where the next step may come in. You’ve decided to apply to apply for a catering course at Belfast Met. You’ve adored baking since you were tiny and found a real love for cooking when you moved away for university and, after months of trying new recipes, you decided that your Mum’s suggestion of applying was probably a good idea. You had originally wanted to apply for a Master’s degree in Canada, and then a Canadian work visa, but figure you should get this qualification and then apply for the work visa.

No one told you that the first year of life after university would be so hard until you were in the thick of it; nothing could have prepared you for it. But, with Jesus, you’ve done good. It may not feel like that right now but you’ve accomplished so much. Yes, there’s a few other things you’re still hoping for in life, but those will come in time. Give Jesus a chance to do some more work and you’ll see how good life can really be.

x

My Other Art

You probably don’t know, but I play guitar and sing, and today I wanted to write about that for a little bit, because I’m not very good at talking myself up but I figure it won’t hurt this once.

I’ve been playing guitar and singing since I was about thirteen, but I’m most proud of my voice. People never expect it and that makes me smile a lot. I’m so grateful for this skill I have that I don’t feel like I’ve really had to work on. I’m massively inspired by artists like John Mayer, Gungor, Sleeping at Last, Kina Grannis, Carrie Underwood, and Gwen Stefani. I enjoy singing most in my car and don’t care that I am most definitely that person who looks like a mad man, but, oddly, I’m not a shower singer.

I haven’t properly performed on stage in years and years but am entirely comfortable singing at a camera in my bedroom; makes sense, right?

I don’t think I ever want to be properly famous, I’d just like to be reaching enough people to know that what I’m doing makes a difference in their lives. I want the songs I cover and, most of all, write, to mean something to someone I’ve never met before, to be the song that brings them through the bad times, that reminds them that they’re not alone, that makes them smile, that brings back wonderful memories.

One of my favourite songs I’ve ever covered is Adele’s version of ‘To Make You Feel My Love’ which you can watch here:

And out of all the songs I’ve written in recent years:

I also play ukulele, so check this video out if you like that sweet Hawaiian instrument:

If you like what you’ve seen them don’t hesitate to subscribe on YouTube or share these videos with your friends, it would mean more to me than I think I could explain in words.

Money, and why it’s kind of important.

This summer I was planning to take a trip to the USA for ten days to visit a friend but, as of today, that plan is no longer going ahead. The main issue was the cost of flights; personally, I’m not prepared to do a transatlantic flight on a Boeing 757 and therefore am stuck booking with an airline like British Airways. All together it was going to cost me £800 and for a trip that will last all of ten days I, very sadly, had to decide not to go.

I was looking into the flights with my Dad; he’s brilliant at inspirational pep talks and tonight was no different. He reminded me how hard I’d worked in my job (which we both know I don’t enjoy at all) to make the money that I have, and that to lose it all for a ten day trip maybe wasn’t massively worth it. Last summer life gave me a great big kick in the teeth when I lost £700 after acting rashly and booking flights to California when I knew God was saying no. Ever since I’ve been so careful in spending money because I’ve realised that it’s from God so I shouldn’t take it for granted. I made another stupid mistake just before Christmas and ended up losing £50 when I thought I wanted to apply for a Canadian work visa with BUNAC. However, this situation could’ve been a lot worse had I gone directly through BUNAC instead of STA Travel, as I would’ve paid the full deposit off £100, and then ended up paying a further £75 to cancel. £50 is nothing in comparison to £175, and miles from £700. The fact that God somehow managed to get me to apply with STA Travel blows my mind but that’s a thought for another blog.

I have finally learnt my lesson and have become a bit smarter with my money, no longer ready to throw it all away for some big adventure. For a long time, before I started work, I was quite idealistic about money. I was so ready to “throw caution to the wind” and spend everything I had on flights to go half way across the world with no other real ideas in mind, but as of late I’ve had some revelations.

Before you take me the wrong way, I’m not suggesting you start “storing up treasures on earth”, what I’m implying is that money is a blessing from God, and we shouldn’t throw it away just because we can.

I’m 22 years old and I have so many ideas for things I’d like to do in life, but I don’t need to do it all now. I don’t need to kill myself trying to be the best and I have so much time to figure out what the good choices will be. It’s easy to spend money, to give up time, to use all your effort, and soon after realise that you can’t get any of those things back. God will never waste pain but if you have an obvious option to avoid that pain then it’s up to you to make the decision that helps you avoid it. Take my current plan for example: I’m applying to catering college, and then I’ll hopefully apply for a Canadian work visa and maybe stay there permanently if I can and open a cafe. If I have to skip the Canada step and open a cafe in the UK that’s okay too. This is what I really want. It’s easy to look a few months ahead and think, “I really want to go to America this summer” because it’s within my reach and I don’t really have to work for it. To eventually own a cafe I’ll have to work my ass off, and if that means I skip a trip to the USA when I’m 22 and save money that I one day put towards my cafe that’s okay.

I just think that a lot of Christians my age are afraid of not being these wild people who do everything spontaneously but it’s okay to not be like that. It’s okay to worry about life, as long as you bring your worries to God, because life can be really scary for 20-somethings in 2013. It’s okay to care about money, as long as you care about it because you realise God has blessed you with it, not because you think your life will end without it. Money is not the be all and end all, but it is important and a blessing.

Seeing the Good.

I have a friend who I think is wise beyond his years (I don’t really tell him that because I don’t want his head to get too big) and for the past few months he’s had to deal with the brunt of my life stresses. Any time I was worried or sad about anything he was really helpful and a lot of the time he would tell me that I could have things a lot worse. This didn’t sit too well with me at first but tonight it seems to have finally made some sort of impact on me.

For the past few days I have found myself in a really good mood, totally in love with Jesus and pretty content with things. But last night something triggered all my fears and worries again and today I haven’t been so okay about things. Tonight it all came to a head and I found myself in a foul mood again, bursting into tears and, not angry at God, but just asking Him when this would end.

But instead of moping around for too long, for the first time, I really thought about how much worse my life could be. I thought about how good it is: I have a home, where I live with both my parents, I pay very little to live here, I have a job, I have friends, I live in a democracy, food and clean water is not scarce, I have a degree, I’m learning to drive… The list is endless. Everything I need is available to me and a lot of the things that I want are attainable. The best part is that I am loved by an amazing God who would do anything to keep me safe, who watches over and protects me every day and who doesn’t let me do anything alone, who will

wallflower

never desert me, who fills me with hope constantly, who will never be far away, and who died so I could be forgiven and know Him.

I know it’s hard to do this, to see the good in the pain, because I don’t believe it’s wrong to let the bad things in your life make you sad. There’s a great quote in The Perks of Being a Wallflower (the book, at least, I’m not sure about the film) about this:

I think that if I ever have kids, and they are upset, I won’t tell them that people are starving in China or anything like that because it wouldn’t change the fact that they were upset. And even if somebody else has it much worse, that doesn’t really change the fact that you have what you have.

But, keeping all this in mind, I think that we’re all so ready to wallow. As Claire Colburn (Kirsten Dunst) says in Elizabethtown,

Sadness is easy because it’s surrender. I say, make time to dance alone with one hand waving free.

And that’s just it, isn’t it? It’s easy to sit and think, “My life is terrible, everything is awful”, but it’s not easy to turn around and say, “You know what, I’m going to look at the good in my life.” It has taken me seven months to be able to do this, and it was no easy feat. Again, I emphasise that this doesn’t mean that your pain is invalid, but it will give you freedom from it and enable you to live your life and hopefully motivate others.

The thing is, God doesn’t change, no matter how we feel. I have spent too long blaming Him for all my problems and I can’t even begin to imagine how much that hurt Him. I wrote a post on how God loves me a few weeks ago entitled ‘Why Romance isn’t Dead’ and after really considering all these things I understand that everything I said while angry probably tore His heart in two. He has so many good things planned for me. He can’t stop the bad because He allows us freewill, a great sign of a loving God, but He showers me in blessings constantly and that, putting everything else aside, is more than enough to prove to me that my life is good every single day.

Northern Ireland, December 2012 – January 2013: The Low Down.

Recently my home country has gone a bit mad.

If you don’t know already I’m from Northern Ireland, and things aren’t too peachy here at the minute.

I wrote about the problems going on here last month in a post entitled ‘All This Over a Flag?’ which explains the foundations of all the riots currently happening, so check that one out if you’re unsure.

I’ll give a quick breakdown of the issues before I continue:

  • Northern Ireland is part of the UK (whose official name is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; it wouldn’t be the UK without Northern Ireland) and has been since 1922. If you want to know why Northern Ireland was divided from the rest of Ireland then you can read more about that here
  • During the 1970s/1980s The Troubles were caused by political unrest between the Catholic and Protestant communities. Don’t get me wrong, these people are not divided over their relationships with God but because of the political beliefs that their families have held for generations BECAUSE of their Protestant or Catholic status.
  • On 3rd December 2012 Belfast City Council voted to have the Union Flag (the Union Jack, the British flag, etc.) flying from City Hall on only 17 days of the year, not 365, just like every city in the UK. Loyalists (the ones who feel really strongly about the union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland) viewed this as an attack on their national identity and, since then, protests have been taking place in towns and cities across the country. Many have been peaceful, but the ones most documented have been the violent ones that have involved Loyalist protestors (many of whom are actually children as young as eight and no older than fifteen; a lot of these kids have been arrested) aiming petrol bombs, bricks, fireworks, rocks and various other missiles at police and Republican (the guys who would prefer for the North to be part of Ireland and not Great Britain) protesters  as well as burning out cars and buses.
  • The PSNI have responded with water cannons and, more recently, plastic bullets, but they’re really struggling as dozens have been injured. There was also a bomb scare in one of Belfast’s busiest shopping centre’s on a Saturday only a few weeks, shutting down the whole main street of the city for most of the day, before Christmas and a pipe bomb was found yesterday on one of the city’s busiest roads.
  • MPs and other important public figures have called for the violence to end but they are being completely ignored. It was recently reported in the Belfast Telegraph that a UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) leader, entitled ‘The Beast in the East’, as he has been wreaking havoc in East Belfast, has been encouraging his Loyalist cronies to go out on the streets every night to continue the riots. However, he has been described as a “loose cannon”, out of sync with the rest
    f the UVF, and possibly beyond the control of UVF leadership.

So, night after night, Belfast, and many other towns and cities across Northern Ireland, have been plagued by protests between Loyalists and Republicans rioting and ruining business for cafes, restaurants, and bars, as well as scaring the people fromtheir communities who don’t want to be a part of it. Protesters completely cover their faces so they can’t be identified, creating a mob mentality and making themselves look even more terrifying.

Before anyone makes any assumptions I should explain here that the protests haven’t been too widespread and have been situated in specific areas but Belfast, for example, isn’t a massive city and a lot of those areas are places which people who have no interest in the protests need to drive through to get to main roads or other main areas of the city. The town I’m from has only had a few peaceful protests but is otherwise safe as houses. Northern Ireland isn’t a war zone, protests only happen at night time, but everyone here is just becoming sick and tired of it. Last night an old man was stopped from getting into the hospital to see his wife who was dying of cancer because Loyalist protesters were blocking his way and wouldn’t let him past; it’s inhumane, it’s sickening, it’s depressing. The people protesting have no understanding of the fact that, while they protest about a flag, there are so many other things going on in the world that are far worse than the fact that they seem to find their national identity in the flying of a flag. They are stuck in their own little bubble and have no real grasp on reality; they’re like children who don’t understand yet that there is more to the world than the things they want.

What really stresses me out is when I hear about children being involved in the protests. It’s easy when you’re young not to realise the consequences that your actions can have but that’s why it’s so important to have adults in your life to guide you; these kids either don’t have that or their families aren’t being provided with the resources to keep their children under control and bring them up in a way that children deserve to be brought up. It won’t hit them yet, but one day they’ll realise that the criminal record they got when they were eleven years old is going to have a very negative affect on their lives.

I wanted to write about this because I know so many of you who read this blog aren’t from Northern Ireland, or even the UK, and I think if Northern Ireland was more important to the British government a bigger deal would have been made out of how bad things are here at the minute. However, I also want to stop the media making Northern Ireland look like the war zone that it was previously depicted as, and that a lot of people thought it always was until recently; I had friends in university who thought there were still bombs going off here on a regular basis. The current riots are not normal and, up until December, I think we all thought Northern Ireland was moving in a really positive direction.

I also wanted to write to ask those of you who pray to please keep Northern Ireland in your prayers. I don’t think anything other than God has the power to stop any of this any more; politics is flawed because humans are in charge of it, but God has perfect powers and can do anything. I trust in Him to bring peace back to Northern Ireland and, if we can get enough people praying for Northern Ireland all across the world, then I think He’ll move mountains because there is something so beautiful and important about persistent prayer.

A little update.

Hi, lovelies!

So I just wanted to give you all a run down of the next three posts coming up on Following the Northern Star! They’ll be available on Tuesdays and Thursdays and are entitled:

  1. Northern Ireland, December 2012-January 2013: The Low Down.
  2. Seeing the Good.
  3. Money, and why it’s kind of important.

Keep an eye on the blog for these posts and many more coming up this month!

Also remember that if you have any questions about Christianity you can ask them totally anonymously on my new Formspring page.

x