Ditches and Rollercoasters

It feels as though 2013 has been a whirlwind of a year and I’m looking forward to the end of it.

From the start of this year, till now:

My brothers suffered the deaths of their mother and aunt; their grandmother suffered a heart-attack some time after. My grandmother died in April and I had three assignments due in at university that week. As I was taking part in her funeral in Jamaica, I had to miss my exams. It was stressful getting all the evidence of her death together before I left England, especially because I had to finish off all my assignments at the same time, but I did do it and in June received a letter stating that my extenuating circumstances had been accepted. There were loads of other trials that took place during the interim: I missed the course options deadline even though I had made an attempt to choose them whilst overseas; when I returned home and tried to phone my university about it I was spoken to rudely and told it was all my fault. But I prayed—and God pulled through. My teachers fought to get me on the programmes I wanted for September and were very kind to me. I began July looking forward to my final year…

Today, though, has been insanity. Our house could have been repossessed, but we’ve been able to keep it, thanks to God speaking through the kind judge this morning. I went to Prayer Tower at Plaistow Church, but there was something on my mind: I didn’t feel all that well; the sun had made me sluggish and I felt a little annoyed at a comment that had been said during the meeting. I was looking forward to going home, but there was a strange entity between me and my ‘better half’. He seemed broodingly absent for a while, and his quietness soon turned to dark irritation—at what I don’t know; I didn’t know what to say to make things better. When we parted at my door, I wondered silently why I had bothered to embrace him. When I turned around at the door to wave, he was gone. We were supposed to have dinner at my house, but I suppose he’s not coming tonight. I think it’s for the best.

The final aggravation, though, was an infuriating letter from my university that I saw upon stepping through the door. I opened it expecting to get a summary of my grades, but the letter says that I have failed my 2nd year and I need to contact someone immediately to organise resits.

Ten Firsts

One 2:1

One 2:2

That’s what I received this year. The two exams I missed accounted for less than half the grades. I’ve calmed down a little now, and I know God has it in control, but every letter of correspondence I receive from this place makes me wish I never attended. I really hate it and I can’t wait to leave. And I’m so confused—They supposedly accepted my extenuating circumstances, so what does this letter mean? Earlier I began to feel as though I gave my testimony too early; there was still another threatening ditch around the corner.

I’ll close with a passage that was read today during Prayer Tower. I believe God orchestrated the meeting—that even though I was barely concentrating, the subject matter of complaining and murmuring to God, and the Bible texts that were read out, seemed to have been preordained for me to hear. This is one of my favourite texts, and it gives me hope:

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

Be Blessed.

xXx

 

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When Life Gets Hard, Get on Your Knees.

I think this is the first post of November, which is really awful. University work has come back with a vengeance, but I’m grateful that God has really helped me reach my personal word-count goals. He’s really been giving me the strength to get things done.

In addition, there has been a lot of problems at home recently. It’s nothing that I can go into detail about, but I’ve felt drained and frustrated and hurt and confused and angry all at once and in quick succession. Every now and then the world reminds me how powerless  I am against the grand scheme of things and God shows me that I can do nothing on my own. A couple weeks ago I got into probably the most bizarre and pointless argument of my life: it had no meaning; it was ignited by a ludicrous stimulus and both of our arguments were incoherent. Halfway through the argument I gave up and began mocking and trivialising the thing, which didn’t help, but I only did this because for the first time, a Bible text that is quoted so often on the pulpit actually had practical relevance to me. My eyes were opened as I saw the strange movements of dark forces before my eyes.

And to top it all off, I walked into church and they were discussing the very same text for Sabbath School. It was comforting.

Here it is…

11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Ephesians 6:11-13

I know now that I can do nothing. And I’m glad I know this, because it has made me pray more and surrender to God in a way I hadn’t before. I’ve been praying for my family more than I ever have and it makes me feel good.

God’s got it in control.

 

A Testimony!

Happy Sabbath.

I love when a Sabbath starts on a high. I still haven’t experienced The testimony, my Damascus Road Testimony, but until then I appreciate the little ones—because in reality, they’re not that little at all.

Quick recap: I was doing Creative Writing at Derby University. I dropped out after first year to pursue a career as a Mental Health nurse but I failed the exam and ended up settling for Sociology at the University of Greenwich. Greenwich requires students to pick up extra courses to make up the points for the year so I chose Forensic Criminology and French—I love the former and hate the latter. I was really down at the start of the year because I thought I had ruined my life and I just wasn’t enjoying university.

The first part of my testimony comes in the form of a final career choice. Even though my dream is to be a published novelist, I still need a day job. One of the reasons I left the Creative Writing course at Derby was because  I couldn’t think of a job that I could do with a Creative Writing degree and my motivation for it started to wane.

Talking to my mum this week it finally dawned on me the job I could do. I would like to work in a Trade Union. I reckon it’s quite competitive these days, but they’re still hiring by the bucketload, plus I have the advantage of knowing how to get into the field as my mum works in the legal department for one of the major unions in the UK (don’t worry, no nepotism here; she can’t get me the job). I started following the work of the trade unions earlier this year when the Tories got in and was both fascinated and horrified by the stories my mum came home with, of the unfairness some people have to face. Finding a career that would be good for me has really got my confidence going and now I’ve started to work harder, because I know where my degree will lead to. I’m still going to pray about it anyway, as I’ve had to twist and change my desire to be a Mental Health nurse quite a lot since I started this degree.

The second part of my testimony is in regards to my French course. No, I don’t like it nor do I understand it and I find the classes boring. I’ve been struggling to retain information it’s made me fall behind in classes more than once. Last week, however, I fell behind in a bad way. I was supposed to hand in a portfolio of work that I didn’t know until it was too late was actually part of a formal assessment. I didn’t understand it so I didn’t do it and decided to give myself an extension for extenuating circumstances (LOL). But then the following week went by and I still hadn’t done it. By this time I was aware just how important the portfolio was and I was bricking myself over how much trouble I would get into. Friday morning came (today) and I very nearly almost stayed at home. So I prayed. I prayed some crazy desperate prayer, pleading with God to soften my French teacher’s heart so she would understand.

I went to class early and told her that I had had trouble with the work and hadn’t done it yet.

“Erm,” she said, “did we agree for you to have an extension?”

“Uhhhhhhh. I—oh yeah! I don’t think we did, did we?”

“You do know I can penalise you for not handing it in on time?”

I then went on a little ramble, saying I hadn’t known who to go to if I’d needed the help; I also hadn’t been able to get to a reliable printer in time; it was really hard work—

“Well it’ll be kind of pointless you coming in class today,” she said. “We’re going to be going through the portfolio together.”

There was a long pause.

“I’ll tell you what,” she said, “Go to the library for an hour and complete the portfolio now. Come back at twelve for the second part of the lecture and I’ll take your work in anyway. I won’t penalise you.”

HUUH? Can I get an ‘Amen’???

I almost cried on my way to the library! It took longer than I thought, though (I told you it was hard); I ended up taking two hours and arriving in the classroom when the lecture was over.

“This wasn’t our agreement, was it?” She said, tapping her foot on the ground.

“I’msosorrysorrytooklongsorrypaperjamsorrywrongfrenchtapesorrysorry.”

And she still accepted it! My prayer was answered. I should have a big red mark next to my name in the coursebook for handing in the work a week late, but thank God it’s all worked out.

But now I must never screw up in the lesson again. She’s gonna be watching me now, I’m sure of it…

xXx

So Much Happens in Seven Days…

Happy Sabbath.

I spoke about the problems that arose for me at the start of last week in an earlier post. It seems so strange that less than seven days ago I was writing about the importance of mental rest and then, the very next day, I was faced with something that had me ticking over almost constantly. So at the moment I’m estranged from a family member due to religious differences–as in, one of us follows the Bible and the other follows nothing. It was only a matter of time before something like this happened. I just didn’t expect such a drastic outcome.

On the other side of the coin are my achievements for the week. Last Friday evening I was worried about my university problems and now, thankfully, I’m all caught up. I handed in my French portfolio today–all completed–and I caught up on my missed readings for Sociology. I’m ready for the assignments I’ve got next month; bought my textbooks and have focused more in my classes. The Devil was on my case on Sunday, but God’s answered some prayers anyway.

I had a nice day with a great friend, Dami. One of the few people in this world that I can trust. She’s strong, intelligent and creative–a great poet. Her testimony is amazing, as well. It was nice to have lunch with her, chat and stuff and then go to praise team practice, which I’ve just come back from. The Youth Praise Team is singing tomorrow. We haven’t sung for a while, so it’ll be nice to introduce some songs to the church that we’ve been practising during the interim.

Mmm. Next post will be a poem I think…

Have a good Sabbath.

xXx

“The Devil is a Liar”

I’ve heard people say this a lot and even though I know how much grief and trouble he has put people through, I’ve never taken time to really acknowledge what the phrase meant until now. This past year I’ve been through two major trials and they both came during and immediately after my conversion. At first I thought it was a coincidence, but now I realise how much the Devil tries to get us to renounce God, to compromise our faith and turn a blind eye to our beliefs.

What’s worse; he knows our weaknesses. I’ll refer you to my first trial, which involves someone at my previous university. I’m a feminist by nature and throughout my teenage years I was put off by the idea of marriage and relationships in general. I didn’t get into any; thought they weren’t worth all the fuss that I’d seen my friends and family go through. But then a guy stepped into my life and I completely re-evaluated my standpoint. He was artistic, he wrote poems about me, he was sweet and kind and he called me something that no one’s called me before.

He called me a woman.

This may seem like a really small thing, but for me, who’s been treated like a child more as I get older (how does that work?) it meant the world to me. I felt respected, like a real independent, free-thinking woman. I had never thought of myself as one before (I know it sounds weird). He saw me in a light that few people have seen me in.

But this guy was an atheist. And a lot of the time, I found myself preaching to him. It proved frustrating for both of us, I think. I’m sure he got bored of me harping on about God all the time; I felt hurt that he found “nothing of merit” in religion. We’re still friends, thankfully, and we write each other letters. I keep him in my prayers because he’s really a good guy, but I knew that going out with him wouldn’t work if I was one thing and he was another. It was a hard decision because I very nearly compromised my faith, but when I looked back in hindsight, I was able to see things for what they were. I was very, very tempted.

The second trial really, really pains me to think about. It’s still ongoing and has more or less split my family in two. The only practising Christians in the family are my dad and me, and we’re Sabbath keepers to boot. We’ve both been called to choose between a family member and the Sabbath–Gods Sabbath. We both decided we’d choose God. There’s also a Catholic involved in this, which makes it worse because the changing of the Sabbath from the seventh day of the week to the first day (Sunday) was a Catholic practice, so this family member of mine is being influenced by a lot of … unfortunate viewpoints. This has been the biggest decision I’ve ever had to make for God. I questioned myself a lot. Surely God doesn’t want me to upset my family? Should I just pretend I’m not a Seventh Day Adventist for a day and pray for forgiveness afterwards? This text kept coming back to me:

 37He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

 38And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

 39He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

That’s from Matthew 10. The other text that has kept me going these past few months has been 1 Corinthians 10:13 :

 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

I have people praying for this situation. I know God can make a way, whatever happens. I have to remember to be faithful to Him, even if I have to go against family. In the end, my family can’t save me: that’s Jesus’ job.

The Devil is a Liar, but God is faithful.