What a crazy few months it has been since I last posted- mixed with both successes and failures, both of which i’ve managed to reach the other side of! The summer of 2014 was a wonderful one- it was the first full summer in which I could drive which meant a lot more trips to the beach, and with that a lot of confusion about how to get to Wembury. I was also lucky enough to have several volunteering opportunities this year at various Christian festivals. It started in late June with ‘Clear Voices’ a Theology festival hosted by my local diocese. What an awesome weekend- I served alongside a great bunch of people, AND I got to meet and introduce Alister McGrath (crazy Theology fangirl moment). I also had a defining moment on our last night when I was reminded that the ‘academic God’ that we study in textbooks is also a personal God who reflects his heart for community directly into our own hearts when we get to share in that experience. In early July, I was a steward at a children’s festival called ‘Spree’ run by Urban Saints. This was a somewhat more sweaty experience, but in the exhaustion of hauling kayaks out of the water all day, I found a wonderful community of talented people with amazing testimonies to walk alongside, and it was overall a very humbling and encouraging experience. Finally, I ended my festival experience with a week long trip to New Wine, where I volunteered on THE best team, Gems, as a worship leader for 0-3 year olds (yep, it was a crazy experience to say the least). I also met some lovely new people within the camp I lived on, and developed existing friendships… allowing me to experience further God’s heart for community. AMEN.
PS: Summer 2014 was also a successful one family holiday wise- as we went on a 4 day break to London and didn’t fall out once. You can tell me and Ciaran are getting older 😉
All that excitement aside, I am currently sat at 1am in my new university bedroom when I should probably be reading. The pro? I have an amazing view of the shard. The con? The reading won’t do itself. Despite this, as I move into an entirely new season of life, I wanted to reflect on the past year and what may be ahead for me. For anyone who doesn’t know, tomorrow I start my three year BA degree in Theology at King’s College London, a subject which I am hugely and unashamedly passionate about! If you had said to me even six months ago that I would be living in London I would have laughed in your face. Last time I was left to deal with the tubes alone I nearly had a panic attack (and it was only a direct tube from Kings Cross to Paddington). The big city, though it is a place of dreams and opportunities, scared the crap out of me, and still does really. However, in a crazy turn of events I made this my firm and somehow ended up here. And how blessed I am to be too. I’ll be honest, the city still daunts me hugely and I’ve had a wobbly few days of wanting to curl up into a ball and run home. BUT, I then asked myself why I am here? Because the course for Theology is amazing… and also because one day, on a bit of a whim, I felt like Kings may be the place for me.
Whenever people asked me why I picked London, I gave them the same answer: its an opportunity that I cannot afford to miss. This place is diverse, runs 24 hours a day and has so much going on that I know in three years I won’t even scratch the surface. (For the record, in the first week flat 604 are doing well- we even made it to Camden… eventually). When I really think about it though, I think it’s about more than that too- its about being put out of my comfort zone, which is definitely already happening. In March, I went through a stage of being horribly torn between Durham and Kings, though both had their pros and cons, I picked Kings because it was the dangerous option- the place where I’m more likely to get lost, feel home sick and hate it so much that I want to leave. But what does that teach me? To stick at it, to persevere, and to grow as a person in ways I never could anywhere else. In my first blog post of 2014, I reflected on St Francis of Assisi’s phrase, ‘bloom where you are planted’ and I wrote, ‘I praise God for this one final year at home, where I can keep loving, laughing and crying with my wonderful friends and family old and new’. And what a final year it was- full of development and growth through the good and the bad. I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to go back and repeat it all, and have one more year x 1000000. But what do we gain from the same old routine when it’s time to move on? What do we gain from having a safety net? I know for a few weeks I may feel better if i’m at home, but I also know that Plymouth has given me a beautiful 18 years, and I’ve done what I need to do there. It will always be home, I will still be living there 4 months of the year- but now it’s time to ‘bloom where I’m planted’ right here in London. It’s scary, especially as I haven’t seen anywhere where a plant could bloom- but I’ve already started meeting new people, going to new churches and embracing my new adventure. I hope all of you can do the same. Let me leave you with one of the verses which defined my first few months of faith, and one I will always cling to.
‘consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete not lacking anything’ – James 1:2-4
So there you go, it’s hard, but also a time for new things, new people and new challenges and triumphs. Sorry it’s not more exciting. I can share ‘interesting’ fresher stories with anyone who asks!