Joy

How Can I Stay Silent?

I don’t know how this post is gonna turn out, because I fully don’t have the words I want to say yet. They’re just going to come to me as I type and let my heart come spilling out, because my heart is beyond full right now and my emotions are heightened, but in the best possible way. All I know is that I can’t keep silent. How can I keep silent? Especially in this time of so much madness and sadness, hope and happiness need to be shared.

I cannot stop smiling and the happiest of tears are coming to my eyes. It really is a beautiful day and I could not thank God anymore for it. I’m trying to say all I want about Him right now, but it’s coming out in some mad jumble because I am so overwhelmed. My brain won’t stop jumping around and I can’t contain the joy I feel.

God has granted me much more than I deserve, showing me grace, favour, mercy and love, time after time after time. He’s forgiven me, been patient with me through all my transgressions, supported me through my crazy and never, ever given up on me. I’m still a work in progress, but He’s okay with that and I know He’s got my back forever.

In the stillness, I’ve been able to reflect, meditate and spend some good time in prayer, which led to me learning and figuring out a whole lot about myself. A whole lot that needed fixing and facing up to, despite how ugly and difficult it was. But I’m beyond better for it now. A weight has been lifted, shackles have been loosed and my heart is finally healing fully.

I am not my past or insecurity or stupid mistakes. I am so much more than I ever thought I was, because I am a child of God who is forever loved, blessed and favoured. And because He loves me, I am valued, validated, beautiful, cared for and good enough. Through God, I am an overcomer, more than a conqueror, strong, kind, resilient, bold and so much more. There is potential and power in me I haven’t even reached yet, but He knows and is already setting the plans in motion.

Through my reflections, I knew that one of the things I had to do was reach out and apologise to a friend I have a loaded history with, because I hadn’t done that despite the many years that had passed. I was anxious and afraid, worried that it would ruin our friendship or that he’d take the words the wrong way, but God used that apology to pave the way for a conversation we’d needed to have for so long. We were able to clear the air, be fully honest, listen to each other, forgive each other and put the building blocks in place for a stronger, better, healthier and more fulfilling relationship. I couldn’t be more thankful for that – God’s timing is always best.

So today, I’m not keeping silent, even though I may be rambling a little. There is so much more of my story to come, but for now, I’m so blessed to be living in grace and basking in the love my God has shone on me. This song says it all.

They Made My Summer Even Brighter

Two of my highlights over the summer, which was without a doubt my favourite time of this year, were associated with church.  It’s probably obvious by now, but it was the people involved who contributed to making these events so memorable and highlights of my year.

I’ve been helping out at VBS (Vacation Bible School) for 14 years now, which is a staggering feat to me, especially as I am only 26.  I always love being a part of VBS and I will continue to help every year I can – I try to ensure that I’m available whenever VBS is taking place, getting the date in my diary months in advance.

For some reason, I enjoyed VBS this year a whole lot more than I have in a long time.  I loved the songs, I loved the set up of the hall, I loved all of the various activities and I loved my group of children – I’m always a Crew Leader, which involves supporting, looking after and taking a group of children around to the various stations.  Some of my favourite moments were when the children came running forward to splash me with water during one of their games, and the group hugs with my crew.

All my crew had a very differing set of personalities and characteristics, which made them an interesting collective that raised a varying set of challenges.  I’m always up for challenges though and we got through the week positively, with me striking up a bond with each of them.  There was one girl who was particularly funny, with her hard to please persona and who came out with the most unexpected comments.  She also took to counting how many songs we sung or were played each day, which was fun to keep track of – I’d regularly ask her what the total was throughout.  It is those little things that make the experience all the more enjoyable.

It’s also quite nice to be part of VBS with family and long-time friends.  My cousin, Sophia, was the VBS leader, assisted by her sister Rochelle, who both did an amazing job of pulling VBS together, in spite of some adversities along the way.  Sophia is genuinely made for this and I commend her for all she did.  My mum and my Aunty Debra led out in some of the rooms, making them an engaging experience for all of us.  It was great having brother and sister duo, Klavel and Si-Ann, lead out on the games – friends who are family to me.  And there was my cousin Kavan, who was a fellow Crew Leader.

A week after VBS had wrapped up, it was time for the Croydon Youth Extravaganza, which led up to our Youth Day.  The Extravaganza was well thought out and a special experience throughout the week that brought us all together, but the Youth Day was beyond beautiful.  I could not have been prouder of Si-Ann for all that she has been able to achieve and make happen with the youth this year, supported and guided by Pastor Alex, who is amazing in his own right.  I mean it when I say that Pastor Alex is a force of nature.

The whole day was emotional, well-organised and involved the majority of us youth from the church.  The four presentations in the main service were honest, relevant, useful and very special.  I was crying along with Si-Ann by the end of hers.  The play in the evening was slick, funny and made best use of everyone’s talents.  And the social in the evening was a whole lot of fun, laughter and good conversation.

For me, what made the day beyond beautiful was the people, especially being with those I had not seen for a long period of time.  I spent most of lunch with my Kay Kay – who I also had a nice meet up with a few weeks earlier along with Si-Ann – having good conversations and eating on the steps.  I exclaimed with joy when I saw my girl, Sh’kira, who I had no idea was going to be there and had not seen for a good few months – we had good chats too, as we always do.  I exclaimed with even more shock and joy when Gazza tapped me on the shoulder, as I hadn’t seen him for the longest.  We had a little conversation later in the day, but it wasn’t long enough – we fully need more time to catch up.

I swear, I filled with more and more joy as more faces I had not seen for a while began to appear.  However, I think I became full to the brim and found my heart overflowing with joy and love, when Ranen walked into the hall.  Now I literally have not seen Ranen in the flesh for years, so to be able to hug him and speak to him face to face was beautiful.  Ranen was one of the consistent faces in my life growing up, someone I could call a friend.  I also remember when he gave me his jacket to wear out in the cold at a social – a true gent.  It was great to have him around us again.

To be honest, it was just great to have so many of us in the same space again, as it doesn’t happen so often anymore.  Chilling and chatting to Arks, Gis, Sach, Charlie, Nnamdi, Ike, Ryan, Paige, Elliott, Jemel, O’Shea, JJ, Myrin, Karina and a whole lot more.  It was one of the best and happiest days I’ve had in a long time.  No matter what, I will always love my church family.

 

They Brought Me Laughter and Happiness

Last year, my best friend Mells gave me one of the greatest gifts ever when she gave birth to my godson, Reyez.  He is the best, beautiful and boisterous, never failing to make me laugh or bring me joy.  Every moment spent with him is special and I’m blessed to be part of his life.

One of the highlights of my year was watching Reyez get dedicated, and also playing a part in that special moment as one of his godparents.  It was a real celebration and he looked beyond cute on the day in his white suit.  His mum definitely knows how to have him looking his best.

I’ve also had the pleasure of looking after Reyez a few times this year, with the stand out being him spending a day at “Aunty Day Care” (basically my sister and me looking after him at our house).  We played with toys, I sang to him, fed him, changed him and got him to sleep.  I was taken aback, but also found it hilarious, when he roared at me as he cried for food.  This boy definitely loves his food.

My heart filled with joy and excitement as I saw that he was walking, and now I’m just waiting for him to start properly talking – I’m insistent that he will say Aunty Shan, no matter what his mum says.  I’m also looking forward to when he’ll stop ripping paper so I can read to him.

Now his mum, Mells, has been my best friend for about 10 years, and our friendship has always been an interesting one.  We are very different people and we show love in very different ways, although we know that the love is always there.  While I’m very much about words and expressions of love, I’ve come to realise that my Mells shows love through her actions and giving you her quality time – time is 100% a big thing for her, which I sadly find hard to give at times.

During the beautiful, warm weather we enjoyed in spring and summer this year, Mells, Reyez and I went on a picnic.  I asked what I should bring, but Mells insisted I didn’t need to bring anything, and when we sat down on our mats in the park, she unpacked a spread of cooked food, snacks, fruit and drinks that catered to my vegetarian diet.  I couldn’t believe that she had prepared all of this and not wanted me to contribute anything.  I felt genuinely loved, appreciated and cared for – those are the actions of a true friend there.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time with Mells and Reyez this year, which has brought me plenty of laughter and left me with a number of memories.  These are two of the most important people in my life, who I would die for without a second thought.  Like I said, I’m so blessed to have Reyez as my godson – he never fails to bring me happiness and was often my light during my darker days at the beginning of the year.  I love the both of them with all my heart.