A year ago today was the last time I wrote something here, and it was my reflections on the toughest year of my life, 2019: A year of Broken Hearts.
I ended that reflection with a closing sentence, a wish… a hope… a prayer:
2020: The year of deep Joy!
Now sitting here in the same old seat (actually – I ‘borrowed’ my dads computer chair as mine gave me a numb bum and bad back) a whole year later and experienced a year that I would never have predicted – a year that turned everyone’s lives upside down. A year that has been so deadly, so damaging to health both physically and mentally. A year where I have never been so busy – filming and editing over 125 videos, working through my dissertation on Snapchat and its effects on young people and their sexuality through the height of lockdown, thus leading me to complete my BA Hons in Theology, ministry and mission. Bagging myself a new youth ministry job in the midst of a pandemic where churches are evener tighter for money than before.
This year for me truly has been a year of deep joy!
Sitting here and looking back on all that I have achieved in the midst of a pandemic is incredible! I know I love media and making videos, but I would not be sat here saying I would have edited over 125 videos in a year. This pandemic, as horrible as it is and I pray continually for this to be over, has provided me with so many new opportunities, light shines out of the darkness.
I was given the opportunity (well actually I kind of created the job myself and told the churches I was doing this) to film and edit church services every week, not only for the churches I was working at when completing my degree – The Parishes of Eye, Newborough and Thorney, but also worked with close friends – Werrington Parish Church, CROPS a Christian charity based in Peterborough and more recently assisting with things at Bretton Baptist Church.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, at the beginning of lockdown in March, I created UK Church Online, a one stop hub – to help people engage with and be church online, as we navigated this new norm. The website grew massively with 1000s of views, along with a facebook group to accompany it which has over 450 members today.
In September I then realised as a youth and children’s minister the need for more resources, by then we still werent allowed to do our job normally. In previous years I had enjoyed heading into various primary schools each week to lead collective worship assemblies – something we couldn’t and still cant do to this day… So I set up Assembly Time, a weekly online assembly video that teachers, parents and churches could use.
I dont want to bore you with more details of everything I’ve done, but this year has opened up so many new opportunities for me to use my creative skills and I have loved it! To be able to minister to others in the midst of this pandemic has been so humbling and has not only blessed others, but blessed me. I’ve grown so much as a person, and grown deeper in my relationship and closer with God.
Adventures in Scotland
One of my highlights of the year that will stay with me forever was my adventures in Scotland. In September, restrictions had started to ease and with the fact that I had finished my degree and so was technically between jobs (even though I was still editing and filming the church services), took this opporunity to have a short break – 3 nights glamping in Scotland.
- I had never been to Scotland
- I had never been glamping
- I had never been on holiday on my own
Oh my days!!! It was the best trip ever!!!! I clocked hundreds of miles on that trip, thousands of photos and videos to trawl through when I got home and aching feet from walking at least 10 miles everyday.
But the thing I loved about that trip, was not only the stunning views, but the fact that I got to slow down. For me, I refuel when I’m on my own amoungst nature. When I am outdoors, exploring, adventuring – with no cares or worries, other than thinking about that moment – my focus realigns back onto God. We get so busy at times that our focus pulls away from God, and without realising it we spend less and less time acknowledging him. That short break gave me and God some alone time, where my focus was pulled back to Him and I’m so thankful for that!
I came back from that adventure full of joy and hope, and for other’s that might have been a little bit of a shock, as I had just finished my degree and in need of a new ministry job, as my last one was only for the length of my degree. I was jobless, something that can be so scary and bring so much anxiety and fear for others. But you know what, I can honestly say I wasnt worried, I trusted God. The amount of times I’ve seen God nudge me in the right direction with jobs has been incredible – so because of this I did the unthinkable… after only applying for 1 job down in Cornwall that I was so under qualified for, which I then got an interview but didnt get the job… I decided to stop looking, and left it with Him.
A God Moment…
The phone rings… It’s a good friend who works for a local charity… he explains to me that a minister at a local church is looking for someone to do maternity cover for their youth ministry.
BOOM… drop the mic… well the phone…
God has done it again! He never ceases to amaze me, I kid you not within a week of that phone call, I had met with the minister and been offered this temporary youth ministry position to see me into Spring/Summer of the new year.
A youth minister position, in a church in my city, where I knew 90% of the youth already through local events and the local Christian charity I work with, plus I knew a few of the adults there too… was dropped into my lap, and I’m working there as we speak! GOD IS SO GOOD! His timing is perfect!!!!
This year has been so incredible and full of so many incredible God moments! Now dont get me wrong, its also been extremely hard, and I’ve had my fair share of days where I’ve been so agitated, annoyed and upset by what this pandemic is doing to everyone. And even sadly had to deal with the loss of Grandad who has been deteriorating for a few years. Even in that sadness and pain God was present. It’s a long story, but (in a non-mean sense) it was an answer to prayer that he passed away the way he did in October of this year. He had been suffering and in pain for so long, and ended up living on permanent oxygen (not because of covid), but passed away peacefully in his sleep, and I’m so thankful to God for that preparation that we knew it was going to happen and to have the opportunity to see him one final time that week before he passed.
There’s been a lot of pain and suffering this year, many negatives, but the joyful moments outway the negatives. God is so good and I cant thank Him enough for all the opportunities that have come my way this year.
There’s so much more I could share about what I’ve done and achieved and the opportunities that I’ve had, but its not about that, the key message that I want you to get, and what I want to get, and have learnt… is how much God is in control… God is the one who’s provided me with so much opportunity, so much joy and so much peace. There’s been pockets of heaven, glimmers of hope, all through the power of the Spirit moving in me and in others around me – God bringing light in the darkness.
For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.2 Corinthians 4:6
And so I end this year with deep joy and hope for the future, trusting God with everything and close with these words, a hope… a prayer…