It’s ok

Having that trusted person that you can share absolutely anything to is really important. Crucial, in fact. And when you lose that, there’s a web of lost-ness that we find ourselves wrapped in; unable to find the beginning to peel our way out.

I love talking about important people in my life; sharing how they became important and what their place in my life means to me. I believe all of those people were intentionally sent by God to guide me through life. Everyone needs a shepherd to walk alongside them – only, sometimes Shepherds can only be present for small chunks of the journey. When they’re no longer available, we’re left searching for the next one; unsure if we’re headed in the right direction until we reach our new Shepherd.

I’d love to share some stories about my 2nd favourite person to ever grace my life (my sister is obvs no.1 & my parents tell me they don’t have any favourites, so neither do I).

He was a bangin’ guy – had all the chat, loved me unconditionally, encouraged me at every opportunity, listened intently to everything I ever had to say, said I sang better than Lulu, let me put curlers in his (very) small patch of hair, let me put tattoos of tigers on his arms, let me paint his nails, picked me up from school when I was sick and took me to Christie’s for a sausage roll, let me kick him in the bed when I stayed over, gave me the best sweeties out of the ‘car tin’, danced with me to the Vengaboys and Mambo Number 5, took me to school and picked me up every day for a year, made sure that me and my sister knew the love a grandparent even though we never had that, tickled my feet, held my hand when I wanted him to, hugged me when I needed him to, listened to me playing do-re-mi or the Eastenders theme tune on the keyboard for the millionth time that night, helped me search the Argos and Index catalogues for my Christmas list to Santa, played Frustration every week, let me play Lulu even though he didn’t like her, always had a smile for me, trusted me to go and buy my Aunt Beth’s Christmas present, took me fishing, told me all of his stories about being on various ships, never asked for anything from me, loving the crappy Christmas presents I bought him, phoning me on my birthday to sing happy birthday down the phone, allowing me to be there, being my confidant, being the person I could always rely on, teaching me to appreciate my worth, teaching me that time is precious and letting me be there to hold his hand until the very end.

From the very beginning of my life until the very end of his, he was there. He was mine. And I loved him.

For my sister and I, he was our Grandfather. He might have been called Uncle Jim, but he was so much more than that. It’s been 10 years and I still find it really difficult to express the grief – because that’s what it is. That’s what it is when the person you tell everything to dies. And he always kept my secrets – he would tell my Aunt Beth that I told him things, but never what they were.
Until this year, he was the only person I told that I thought I was gay – and even back then, he didn’t judge or stop loving me. His only hope was that I knew what it was to feel loved.

And my goodness, do I miss him! Just when it feels easier, there’s something – it just comes along and takes the wind out of your sails.
But that’s what happens when you’ve been living life without that person. My hopes are that it’ll become easier – I’ve met someone else that I can tell everything to, she loves me unconditionally and hopefully, one day we’ll have all of those wonderful memories together. For now, I’ll take the memories I have of my favourite guy with me.

But for today, it’s ok. I’m not daft – life has been different for the past 10 years, but I’m thankful for the 16 years I did have. For sure, we packed a lifetime worth of memories into those short years. So much love, laughter and happiness, many kisses, cuddles and singing sessions – and always there. Couldn’t ask for anymore because he gave it all – he gave us all of him, and that’s why the only sad tears we ever have about him is because that stopped. He ensured we all knew love, and we wholeheartedly loved him back – forever and always.

some photos of me, my sister, Aunt Beth and our no.1 guy!


Denying Rainbows

Lately there’s been a lot of crap. I’ve not been in the best of moods for a wee while, tired all of the time and had a pretty poor time at GA because of this.Then I got ill – I exaggerate a lot, but at one point I was pretty sure death was imminent. Imagine the nasty stuff (aye, that!), not being able to eat, sweating it one minute then freezing it the next, not being able to breathe through your nose, not producing enough saliva to lubricate your gub, sleeping for 20-25 mins at a time, feeling like Alien is about to burst out of your abdomen, no one being able to understand a word you say because your glands & tonsils are that swollen, nearly fainting every time you’re on your feet for longer than a minute, not being able to walk further than from bed to the bathroom and permanently feeling guilty for letting everyone down.

Then, after almost 2 weeks existing with the symptoms above, my blood test finally revealed that I have glandular fever.
Champing at the bit to get back to work after 3 weeks, I was (and am still) pretty limited. Thankfully though, being back to the place God’s sending me and working with the people He has gifted me has been the best medicine.

It’s knackering, and I’m nowhere near being able to do what I could before.. but maybe the ‘before’ me was my downfall. 
I don’t do being sick very well. I hate it. It’s probably the only time that I hate having to sit on my bahookie! 
Virtually all of my plans have had to be binned, and taking life a few days at a time. Today is Thursday, and I’m not really planning past Saturday.

I’ve got some weird blood thing as a complication and hoping to not develop any further complications – so the slow lane is currently my friend, even though I’m champing for the fast lane. 
It’s coming. 
And then the rainbow? After the rain, there’s got to be something beautiful to counteract that.

My something beautiful came through the opportunity to reflect. To look at me, the way I live my life and what makes me happy. 
And with reflections come realisations. Some are easy, some aren’t so easy.

It’s pretty crappy when you’ve felt for so long that you have to be a particular kind of person to suit social norms… and sometimes that just isn’t good enough anymore.

Sometimes you just need to own your differences in order to realise your similarities.

But should we naturally see ourselves as different? Should we feel pressured to hide parts of ourselves to fit in? Should we be so far skewed by this that we shut off parts of our lives?
The answer is no. And I, stupidly but subconsciously, was doing this. Dafty. 
Once you know truth, you can’t un-know it. Once you love, you can’t un-love. When it’s her, it’ll always be her.
Bluebirds are flying. The rain is gone. I’ve found the rainbow. 

“Somewhere over the rainbow, blue birds fly

Birds fly over the rainbow

Why then, oh why can’t I?

If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow

Why, oh why can’t I?”

6 months in..

Today marks 6 months since I started my current ‘job’ – I use inverted commas because almost none of what I do actually feels like work. 
I don’t like leaving at the end of the day, and I’m excited to come back the next day. And I’m pretty sure I’ve transcended just feeling happy about it – I’ve reached a point that I can only describe as bliss.
Sure, I don’t want to stay in the same position forever but if someone said to me tomorrow that I’d be in Priority Areas forever I’d end up feeling a bit more than ok about it. (After I’d got over feeling pissed off that we had to exist at all!!)
And, I get to work with the coolest people. Legit. Jesus moves in them. You can see it, clear as day, and that’s what makes them an absolute inspiration.

(lol, I’d totally never tell them this though!) 
However, perhaps the biggest gift I’ve been given in the last 6 months is realisation. Realisation that we all have a form of Ministry, whether that be tied to the confines of structures; for some people it is and for others it isn’t. For me, I’m an ‘other’ in this mix. 

I tried to work within the confines of the system, and it didn’t work out for me. I’m pretty sure there’s another avenue, or pathway, that God has set aside for me to leap towards, but I don’t think that exists yet – perhaps in His vision, but not in ours. 
Maybe that’s my Ministry – to be a visionary, to have imagination, to live a dream and make other dreams possible. I’m still working all of this out, but clarity is coming…

If we can’t imagine a new life in Ministry, how can it become reality? 
If we accept the box, we’ll remain confined within it. If we accept the space the box is in, we can transform the box into a whole new vision. In doing this, we don’t lose the box – it’s just different.

And that’s what frightens people; difference or changes. Changes are an initial walk into the unknown, and changes require a level of imagination – otherwise, everything stays the same. 

The cycle never dies, but the potential for newness of life does.

The value of no

I’ve always been a person that made time for other people, moved things around to help out or cancelled social plans to make time.I’ve been a person that found a way of saying yes to things instead of saying no. I was brought up to be this way – it’s the example I witnessed from my parents; they taught me that the best gift I could give was time. And that’s what I’ve done. I’ve given my time in whatever capacity I could and things have somehow always worked out.

Sure, there’s been times where I’ve been absolutely ridiculous and totally overdone it. An example of this:

– taking three weeks holiday from work to follow Lulu around for a week, go to General Assembly for a week and then follow Lulu around for another week. I ended up horrendously ill, not totally recovering for a few months.

Today I find myself in a new cycle of saying yes all of the time (thankfully the no’s have been organic – otherwise this post could have been a whole other mess!) but now I have knowledge and experience of what it’s like when it all goes wrong.
And, there’s only so many hours in the day. There’s only so much energy that can be dispensed at one time. There’s only so much that a brain, and diary, can handle at any time.

And within that time, energy and diary, I’ve not been thinking about me – my needs, what I want and what I dream of achieving. 
So, here it comes.

I work within Priority Areas 25 hours a week, over 4 days. That’s where I’m finding energy at the moment. That’s where I walk away at the end of the day knowing I can do more and being excited to do more. It’s where I want to grow – flourish even. I want to be part of the vehicle that shares the extraordinary stories I get to hear everyday. I want to be able to do what I did today and create reflective, creative worship spaces for people to engage with. 

These are the things I need. I just need to find a way of making them much more everyday permanent than random. I need to be intentional about working towards this and realising the potential I actually have instead of penning myself into a box. 
So, where is the value in saying no to this?! 

I have a lot on my plate, and I’m letting stuff slip. Usually, I know I run a fine line between being on top of things and letting them get out of control, but lately I feel like I don’t have that control anymore. 

And, a very wise person once tried to encourage me to realise the value my time has – not only for me, but for those around me and the things I’m involved in. Ignoring what they said was easy because I could justify everything with “I love it so much”, but do I? Or do I do it because I feel like I need to? Or is it due to my desire to be involved – to make a difference? 

But where I am now, I’m realising that I might have a bit more value than I’ve previously given myself. I might just deserve a wee bit more, and with that, deserve the chance to explore it. 
So, I’m starting to say no. Some things will naturally come to an end in the next few months – NYA involvement for example, and then I get to claim my identity as a fully fledged adult within the Church of Scotland – and I don’t want it to be disorganised. 

I’m placing value on my time. I’m choosing to not be the person that can always be turned to when stuck. 
I’m choosing to become the person that people ask to do things in the first instance because I’d do a good job – not because someone else wasn’t available. I’m choosing to put my friends and family before other commitments – I missed my mum’s birthday last week because I was too busy. I’m not that person. I didn’t put a person that means everything to me first – instead I wrote reports, did research and felt like shit for realising that I was a bad person. 

I’m choosing to find my place within the world – maybe then, and only then, I’ll find the eventual place within the church I so dearly love. I’m choosing to find something to work towards – everybody needs a dream.

I have worth. I have purpose. I have talents. I have time. 

Please, God, guide me to use them wisely, realistically and in a direction that does what You need me to do. Help me to become a bit more selfish about being selfless – to give but not be afraid to take, to love recklessly and allow myself to be loved, to hope and dream – to live out the path You have set before me…. one day at a time.


The mark of an intelligent child is their inquisitive nature – their constant quest for the answers to life.

We educate them by providing a series of questions for them to answer at various stages in their educational life. The exams that shape their futures are rooted in questions – testing their ability to answer.

And we’re continually told on training courses, or any other opportunities in life that “there are no silly questions” – guaranteed, if you’ve thought of the question needing answered, someone else has too.

So, why. Why do we see the questioning of our faith as weakness? The constant quest for answers indicates an inability to comprehend the deeper ‘stuff’ or to convey the message it carries.

We encourage children to answer questions like ‘does God exist?‘ and, ‘who was Jesus?
By showing them the teachings that the Bible has to offer. And then later, there’s deeper questions to answer; ‘how can you say there’s a God when there’s so much suffering?‘, ‘Your God can see everything, so why can’t he see the needs in the world and provide for them?‘, ‘If your God can create the world, why would you make it like this?‘ or, the great one ‘how can you believe in something that causes nothing but conflict through divisions based on hatred?

So, at various points, I’ve been hit with those questions. And my answers probably wouldn’t be textbook ones, and at various points I’ve probably asked those very questions myself – but that’s part of deepening my faith. If I’m not prepared to be inquisitive of it, I’m probably not invested in it. I’ve not been brought up to just accept things as they are. I’ve been brought up to argue and right injustices, to use my voice for good, to equip those I walk beside to be the best that they can be and to include at every opportunity (even if I don’t like the person). I’ve been brought up to love people wholeheartedly, whether I like them or not. I’ve been brought up to be the reliable person that you can always turn to because, even if I don’t want to do it, I’ll find a way of getting it done. Sometimes I’ve stuck at things for too long when I should have walked away, but rarely have I walked away when I probably shouldn’t. I’ve been brought up to give all of myself in all that I do – more often than not to my own detriment. I’ve been brought up to be ready to say yes, and to always be careful when thinking of saying no. I’ve been brought up to question – to question others and most importantly, myself.

So, I always ask questions. Always. Even though I may know the reason behind it, I always want to know why (or, how if you’re from the Lanarkshire area!). The searching for confirmation of knowledge will continue for the rest of my life, I know I will live a life of questions – most of which may not actually provide any concrete answers. And, even though I know this, I still want to know why.

And that is why, for me, its the most natural thing in the world to continue to question my Call. The search for those answers will probably never end. With new answers come new questions. Does this continual cycle of questioning equate to weakness?
Some mistake it for doubt and therefore plant the seed of doubt in my mind.
And that’s been the most dangerous thing, because from that seed, my incessant questions help that dirty weed to grow.
I’ve never been very good at gardening (concrete ftw!) – it isn’t in my skill set.

How do you get past that? And, why does God put those obstacles in your way!?
And the answer is… jigsaws!
People enjoy jigsaws. Jigsaws, and life, would be easier if it already came completed in the box – but where’s the fun in that? What’s the point in a puzzle that comes already solved?

So this whole Call game isn’t supposed to be easy. It’s supposed to be a search through the puzzle – the continual cycle of discerning what is God-led, what is self-led and is there potential for those to be one in the same?

Therefore confusion is easy = doubt is inevitable.
And there hangs the difference; doubt, for me, stems from me questioning my ability. Questions of enquiry, for me, are learning tools I use to deepen my faith and, as a by-product, strengthen my call.
Unfortunately both sound similar.

And that brings me to the current questions I have.. the ones I continue to pray over:
– what next?
– where does the challenge lie?
– will You guide me through the puzzle I crave?
– will there be a puzzle to solve?
– have I solved it and I’m simply not happy with the outcome?

And still, I know that with the eventual revelation of those answers will come more questions. Thankfully, the difference now is, I’m not afraid to talk about it.
Questioning is not a sign of weakness – it’s a sign of strength; being unafraid of finding answers. It’s a constant learning tool – enabling the development of ideas and the deepening of faith.

So, asking questions, it’s ok. Right!?

Recognising Windows

Before I can crawl, I’m trying to walk strong.
Before I fall, I’m looking for somewhere to jump without having a place to land.
When I find a new place to land, I run. I run towards the familiar, to find the path that I know. Or, at least the path that I think I know.

As a child, I lived in books. I lived through Katie Morag, Enid Blyton, Judy Bloom and Harry Potter. As a teenager, I lived in music. I lived through Lulu. As a young adult, I live in Church. I live through my home congregation, National Youth Assembly, Church and Society and Priority Areas.
And now, I find myself at a turning point. As of August, I’ll no longer be considered a young person – a status I’ve been so fiercely protective of since I first had the opportunity to ‘make a difference’ in 2009. And it’s an experience I rarely talk of because of how it came to an end. Around the same time, I ran for the first time.
I thought I wanted to be an RE teacher, so went to university to pursue it. The theory appealed to me, and the practical didn’t. I ended up being ill, swine flu was doing the rounds and because I had one date where my absence couldn’t be accounted for, I failed.
I had the opportunity to resit during summer school but I made the choice to run. This is the one thing I have never regretted.
This is when I first told someone that I knew I was called to something different. What I understood to be Ministry. They didn’t agree and I let it affect the next 4 years of my life.
During this time I had the occasional opportunity to preach, and grew to have such an intense love for it.
Then I found the first place where I didn’t need to conform to fit it. I didn’t need to not talk about faith, Lulu or call. I found the National Youth Assembly – the family I didn’t know I needed, and the minute I found it, I knew I couldn’t let it go. So, I grabbed with both hands and I still haven’t let go. Until then, I didn’t understand what it meant to feel welcome. Until then, I didn’t understand what life could be.
And then came an opportunity to volunteer. The way I see serving, for me, is that if I was Roman Catholic, I’d become a Nun. I’d give all that I am, and all that I had, to do what’s needed.
Then Volunteering Vocations materialised and it sounded like the perfect experience for me – giving me a practical opportunity to take a year to explore a potential call. So, I applied and I fought for the programme to be run. And they didn’t.
But, the opportunity came back around the following year and I went for it again. And I got placed. I got Glasgow, when I desperately wanted Arbroath.
But I rallied, and was energised by the prospect of being able to challenge myself – for me, it would have been the year to confirm a call I already felt.
It all felt pretty real, and I ran. Except this wasn’t my usual run and hide – I ran towards what I thought I hadn’t been facing up to. I chose to apply for Ministry.
The rational side to where I was at was – I felt called. People who feel called apply for Ministry. Other people who feel called don’t take a year to try before you buy. Sure, there were other factors. How could I leave my sister? My parents? Things weren’t great. And then, how could I give up the things I had just found? Like NYA? Church and Society?
Everything I felt I had to leave, or I was being asked to leave, I had fought for. So, the easy option was to run. And, boy, did I run.
I ran, hurtling towards Discernment at such a speed. At the time, it felt like time was going by so slowly. Now, one year on, it’s a blur. Speed is the best word I can use for my Discernment experience, and that was my fault. I ran at things, and tried to prove I was ready. I loved my placement, and wholeheartedly value the experience and everything I gained – so please don’t let what I’m saying make you think otherwise. My placement facilitated me being in a space of feeling ready and equipped. They empowered me to be able to do things I didn’t think I could and come to enjoy the things I dreaded.
It finished on a high, but what came next blindsided me.
I had spent the last 10-11 months running towards the destination I saw God hurtling me towards, and suddenly it was gone. The light at the end of the tunnel disappeared.
And I still had to go to an Assessment Conference and convince strangers that I was called to Ministry of Word and Sacrament.

I’ve never been a good liar. When you can’t explain what makes you called – there’s something wrong. And there was.. there is.

So, by this point, I was invested in pursuing the evening course I had to do to be able to get into university to study to Theology (a requirement for Candidates). The commitment meant that the ideal scenario would be finding a part time job – after all, one day I would wake up and find the path again, wouldn’t I? I had to be ready.
So, the job wasn’t really important because it would be temporary. This only had to tide me over until the course was over.
I applied for a few jobs and almost resigned myself to having to struggle with a full time job and studying part time.
Then I got a wee email from the Church of Scotland inviting me to an interview for a job I had applied for in Priority Areas. The application had been a speed effort, submitted approx 20 mins before the deadline but it must have been ok.
Then I saw who was interviewing, and I wanted the ground to swallow me up.

Part of the Volunteering Vocations programme is that you have a, what they call, House Chaplain and mine would have been the person interviewing me for this job. At no point had I had the intelligence level to make the connection.. which I realise is the stupidest thing now! Like legit, idiot.
To be fair, had I known I probably wouldn’t have applied for the job. I’d have ran in ANY other direction because… AWKWARD.

At this point, the job was still a means to an end.
Then I got it.
I got to leave the job that was dragging me down. It’s amazing how you don’t realise how unhappy you were until you actually feel it – that whole smiling for no reason thing.
Until I started this job, I wasn’t a smiling for no reason kind of person. I started, and I got chucked in at the deep end – the best way to start! Legit. It spoke to my inner all-or-nothing personality.

So I went from one week working in a quarry looking forward to me-time when I got to do ‘Church stuff’, to the next week getting to do the ‘Church stuff’ I loved AND getting paid to do it.

I didn’t particularly want that job – and by that, I mean that it was wanted as a by-product of something else. What I didn’t know was that it was what I needed.
And by need, I mean NEED.

Within days there was a total difference in my mental health and general outlook. I had a renewed purpose. And I realised pretty quickly that what I didn’t think I wanted, I now wanted more than anything. I wanted more than anything to stay in Priority Areas for as long as I could.
Which, along with some other things, led me to postpone the evening course. If I didn’t know when I wanted to apply to university, it became apparent that there wasn’t much point in doing something that I might have to then re-do.

And that leads me to today. Today I live in the realisation that all of my running away from things has led me right back to where God has been calling me.
I’m a big fan of The Sound of Music and could, at one point, provide the film script before the actors on screen could. There’s a line in that film that keeps coming back to haunt me; “When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.
When a door closes, it’s easy to take refuge in the darkness rather than searching for a window. For me, I’ve always been a window searcher. In this case, the door closing for me was, for the moment, Ministry of Word and Sacrament but I couldn’t see the window. And that’s where the absolute beauty comes.. sometimes we can’t see the window until it’s flooded your darkened room with Light.
For me, the window I couldn’t see was Priority Areas and with that, I come full circle. I closed the door on Priority Areas initially by walking away from Volunteering Vocations but God made me a window. He pulled me back. He Called.

Within church settings, we don’t talk enough about call outside of a formal Ministry setting. I live life knowing I am called. I’m enjoying life far more than I ever have, or even thought possible, knowing I’m called to Priority Areas.
And, that’s ok. In fact, it’s not. It’s the best thing that’s happened to me.
I don’t have to be what people tell me I should be, or head in directions they think will be good for me, because at the end of the day, God will lead me where I need to be for whatever reason He needs me to be there.
He needs me to be in Priority Areas.
Maybe, for the moment He needs me to be there for me – for me to realise things, to learn and grow.. all of which I’m doing but I have a long way to go and that is ok. Because, when I’ve learnt these lessons – when I’ve finally learned to learn, He’ll reveal my true purpose. He will reveal the good I’m intended to do… and maybe the learning will lead me to that fact that I’ve been fulfilling it all along.

And, that is ok – Priority Areas is reality for me. Everything else is just imaginary…
If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it.
… I’m looking at paradise..


Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”‘ – Isaiah 6:8


So, this isn’t what I thought I would be writing.. but it is, what it is.

I’m not one of those people that can put their phone in their bag and forget about it – I’m the person that carries it in their back pocket, usually rapidly responding to every text, tweet or email.

But, now I’m realising that’s all a bit vapid. Gone are the days of phoning someone – there’s text, Facebook messenger, email etc. And it’s why we’re all a little bit worse off with direct communication. It’s so much easier to hide behind an email or a message that the recipient will eventually pick up and answer, than it is to phone or visit them to ask the questions we need answers to. It’s much easier to have those difficult conversations with the social media barrier already in place, than it is to be assertive enough to have those conversations in person. It’s much easier to type negativity than saying it – saying it makes it real, writing it doesn’t feel as real.

There’s a few people that would be hefty surprised I would say that, because I’m the first to hide behind those forms of communication – they’re easily managed. BUT. They’re not personal. And I, in particular, am reaching a stage where that is much more important than hiding. Intentional communication with people that matters should mean something… it shouldn’t be confined to words on a screen.

After Lent, I’m going to try and give social media up for a while. (or at least as much as I can – I’m not sure how that’ll work when a chunk of my job relates to this… but I’m sure we can work that out)

So, I’m setting myself a challenge – to work on verbal communication. To become more confident with that form of communication, and realise that sometimes it’s ok to not have my phone in my pocket.

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” – Colossians 4:6