Missing the Point

During the summer I was walking by the river in Bushmills and stopped to watch the river. As I was doing so my brother pointed out a fish which had just jumped out of the water, but I missed it.  So I continued to watch, and continued to miss the fish, and always just saw the ripples they left behind.

This day came to mind the other day as I came across a quote in the book I’m currently reading, Crazy Love by Francis Chan, which said “Are we in love with God or just His stuff?” This really challenged me and showed me that just like I was missing the fish it’s easy to get caught up on all the little things surrounding Christianity and miss the most important thing, God.

It’s so easy to just focus on the amazing tune of that worship song, the amazing time you had at camp, what mission trip to go on… the list goes on, but sometimes we need to strip it all away and focus on the cross.

In John 15:13 it says “There is no greater love than to lay one’s life for one’s friend.” I feel like this perfectly sums up what Jesus did for us on the cross. Focusing on what He has done and his love for us makes it easier not to get distracted by other stuff. After all “We love because He first loved us.” Our faith stands upon not only what God has done for us but what He continues to do. This little reminder helps me to fall in love with God all over again and focus on Him not just “His stuff”


Explosions of Love


“Everybody out!” yelled Sergeant Lake, the sense of urgency in his voice gave the indication that this was not just another practice drill. As I began to make my way out of the trench I suddenly stopped. Timmy! I had promised his mother I would take care of him. There was no way I could leave him in the middle of a gas attack, I would never forgive myself.

Suddenly I started to run, the gas was polluting my lungs more and more but I was determined to get to Timmy, I couldn’t leave him now. “Are you trying to get yourself killed Barker” Lake roared from somewhere in the distance. For once I didn’t care what he had to say, I knew what I had to do and nothing was going to stop me, especially not some cranky old Sergeant.

Finally I had reached the dugout and there was Timmy, completely unaware of the chaos and danger around him. There was no time to be gentle, as I grabbed Timmy I heard a loud whistling sound coming from above. My legs were moving, but I didn’t feel like I was going anywhere.

I opened my eyes to find myself in a white room with figures rushing around, I could have sworn I was in heaven. As I tried to sit up it felt like something was pulling me back, every time I would get a little further and then fall back. Finally a pretty woman in a white uniform came over to me, “Private Barker, are you ok?” she said in a soft, poetic voice, I was in such a trance that I forgot to answer, “Private Barker?, you were caught in an explosion. Private Timothy is fine, but unfortunately we have some bad news.”

Suddenly I was awoken from my trance, I looked down to see only stumps after my knees, and for the first time in my life, I cried. I felt like I had let my country down, I would no longer be able to protect them. Nurse Elizabeth sat by my side, for hours, she was the only thing keeping me reasonably calm. Her beauty stunned me, her dark brunette hair complemented her flawless, fair skin. For a moment I forgot all about my legs and that I would never be able to walk again, because in this moment I felt like I was running through fields of wildflowers alongside the most beautiful women I had ever set sight on, Nurse Elizabeth.

As the days progressed, the absence of my legs had become a little less daunting. That moment when you wake up and everything seems perfect was soon shattered into a million pieces as I remembered that I would never walk again. Although I knew it would take a long time to get used to the fact that I now had two limbs less than most, I knew that not only my physical health, but my mental health was being healed by Nurse Elizabeth.

On our daily consultations we discussed everything from the moon and back, in that moment I would forget my wounds because I knew that in that instant, I felt safe.

As my time in the great white tent came to a close my heart was gradually becoming heavier, how could I leave Elizabeth? She was the only person who I could turn to for comfort, she was the only one that didn’t judge me and she was the only one who knew how to turn the light back on in the darkest of moments.

The date was set in stone. I knew that tomorrow, at 8:00am I would make my voyage home, but not the home I had departed from almost six months ago. Invictus rehabilitation centre was to be my new home for the next while. Although I was very grateful for the opportunity to use the facility, I couldn’t help but feel sad. Not many men have to leave the girl they love on the front line

Invictus was proving to be a challenge, each day the world glared at me and laughed, but I knew I could not be defeated. I was having to build my upper body strength up in order to be more dependant, I did not want to sit helplessly in a wheel chair whilst someone else pushed me around, I was going to be the same person I was before I left for war, the only difference was I had legs then.

That night as I sat in the shoebox that was my room I listened to the wild winds roar and watched the candle flicker. I couldn’t help but think of Elizabeth, she was my light in the darkness. I needed her.

Months had passed since leaving the great white tent, but my memory of Elizabeth was still fresh in my mind. I was now able to push myself in a wheel chair and learning to carry my own bodyweight on a pair of crutches. Although the pain was extreme, it was nothing compared to the pain I was feeling in my heart. There was a hole in my heart. An Elizabeth shaped heart.

That night I cried myself to sleep, I didn’t know it was possible to miss a person so much. My hero was not a man with a gun, but a woman with a huge heart and a white uniform.

Morning dawned and I braced myself for another long, painful day. I drearily opened my thin curtains and there standing in the courtyard was the most beautiful brunette hair flowing down the side of the stunningly pale face of Elizabeth.

I couldn’t believe my eyes there she was, right in front of me, I wanted nothing more than to run to her, but I couldn’t. As she disappeared through the grey walls of my building I heard her delicate feet dance up the stairs and before I knew it she was in my arms.

Finally, the last jigsaw piece to my heart was complete. I was the luckiest man in the world and I had just fallen in love with my heroine in a white uniform all over again.

Sleeping Beauty


Charlie and I had been friends since, well, forever. We supported each other through the tiresome time more commonly known as High School. Charlie wasn’t ‘captain of the rugby team material’ and I wasn’t much myself, in fact Charlie and I were at the very bottom of the High School Pyramid. We were invisible.

One day on a crisp, cool October day my invisibility cloak was snatched from around me. It started with a shriek and then a cry. Charlie and I looked down the corridor to see Fizz moaning when she noticed her new Mac Book had disappeared. Charlie looked at me and rolled his eyes, ‘who would be foolish enough to bring a £900 laptop to school’. We both laughed to ourselves at Charlie’s stupid question, when suddenly it went silent. I turned around to Fizz’s perfectly manicured finger in my face.

She had quickly lost her vulnerable face I had seen a few moments before, ‘Rose, sorry to be nosey do you mind if I look in your locker’, before I could answer she shoved me aside and opened my locker, ‘I knew it’, she shrieked, ‘you little thief! How dare you steal from me’? I looked at Fizz with complete confusion, ‘I have no idea how that appeared in my locker but I didn’t steal it.’ I swear, in that moment Fizz’s eyes turned red with fury, ‘don’t lie to me Rose! She screamed. By this stage people had gathered around us, no one had ever looked at me and know everyone was looking at once, I felt like a falsely accused defendant. Fizz’s eyes were staring into my soul, I turned to Charlie for back-up but he just shrugged, his jaw was dropped and his eyes wide. Fizz walked off in the direction of the principal’s office with her two evil sidekicks walking behind her.

I was sure Fizz had set me up, the ferocity was building up inside of me, how could she, what had I ever done to her. All I wanted to do was crawl into a hole and cry, but I knew I couldn’t let her get to me and definitely couldn’t show Charlie how hurt I was.

The moment I’d been fearing finally came, my name blared out throughout the school as I walked, dreading what was to come. I couldn’t help but feel a thousand eyes following me, watching me like a hawk, wondering what I would steal next.

As I entered the office of Mr Henry, I could see the look of shock on his face. I sat down slowly he just looked me in the eyes and said, ‘why?’ I felt the disappointment run through every vein in my body. I had always been a straight- A student and had never got myself into any trouble, until now.

That night as I sat in Charlie’s I was miserable, we were watching Michael McIntyre like we did every Tuesday, but tonight it wasn’t funny. I had done nothing wrong but I was ashamed and embarrassed. Then suddenly Charlie, who had also been unusually quiet tonight, turned to me and whispered, ‘why did you do it? I know you don’t particularly like Fizz, but isn’t stealing her laptop a bit far?’

I looked in utter shock, the tension was building up inside of me, when suddenly I exploded. ‘I didn’t do it!’ I yelled, ‘I thought you of all people would believe me.’ I stormed out of the house, my mind buzzing with thoughts, I just needed them to be quiet, but they were screaming inside my head trying to get out, ‘why wouldn’t they be quiet.’, I thought. Suddenly everything fell silent.

There was a sense of urgency running through my mind as I sprinted after her, I needed to see if she was okay. All of a sudden the urgency left my body and the panic entered. There she was her blonde hair draped over her shoulder, her face as white as snow. I dug into my pocket for my phone, I dialled 999 and waited. Each ring seem to last a lifetime, I could still hear a raucous audience laughing in the background, the laugh grew evil, suddenly the ground beneath my feet seemed to be moving. I tried to pull myself together as the phone operator, repeated, ‘what service do you need sir’. Reality hit and I screamed, ‘Ambulance!’ like my life depended on it, but it wasn’t my life that was at risk.

Finally the flashing blue lights came into view, my heart pumping so hard I could have sworn it was going to escape my body. I watched as they lifted her tranquil body into the back of the ambulance with her distraught mother by her side. The blue lights and loud sirens faded away into the distance, my body was frozen, and I was numb with shock. She had looked so calm in the middle of so much tension, but the one thing that struck me most wasn’t her calmness, but her beauty.

That night as I lay in my bed, my emotions were exhausted, but my thoughts were racing through my mind and the one thought that I couldn’t seem to shift was, ‘is Rose going to die?’ Finally, I had enough I grabbed my phone and dialled Eleanor’s, Roses’ mother’s, number. Each dial seemed to last forever, but I didn’t have forever, I needed to know now. At last Eleanor picked up and I bombarded her with multiple questions, ‘Is she all right?’ ‘Are you all right?’ ‘What did the doctor’s say?’ As she replied I froze, the phone dropped to the floor with a crash.

My mum had heard the noise from downstairs and had come up to see if I was all right, but the only words I could get out of my mouth were, ‘She’s in a coma’. I just kept repeating the same four words over and over again in hope that they would soon sink in, but they didn’t.

Months had passed and Rose was still not awake. I couldn’t bring myself to see her because I knew that it was my fault, she would never have ran out the door if I hadn’t of said what I did. I just wanted to crawl into a deep, dark hole and cry, but I was afraid that if I started crying I would never stop.

After nearly 5 months Eleanor rang me in such a state that it took her about five minutes to say her first word. Eventually she gained the strength to tell me that the doctors were going to take her off the ventilator later that afternoon.

This time I knew I had to see her, I needed to apologise to her even if she couldn’t hear me. She needed to know how I really felt about her.

As I stepped into her little private room on Ward 33 of Red Haven Hospital I was overwhelmed by her beauty. There she was just the same as the night she was hit, except now she was clothed in a blue hospital gown.

Her family left to let me say my final goodbyes. I explained that I never wanted to hurt her. I took her white hand and put it in mine, the one thing I had was about to disappear just like that. I bent over to kiss her and tears started to roll down my cheek, her colourless lips pressed against mine felt perfect I never wanted to leave. As I sat back I whispered, ‘I love you Rose, and I always will.’

Suddenly I felt her hand tighten around mine, her eyelids started to flicker, I could have sworn I was dreaming. ‘I love you too Charlie.’ Now I knew, I would never be alone again.

The Silent Love Story

Yesterday I stumbled across the sweetest love story I have ever seen. I was just flicking through Disney Pixar Shorts and found a simple little black and white film called, “Paper Man”.
“Paper Man” tells the story of a young man who works in an office. One of the man’s papers is blown into the face of another member of the public waiting for her train. The man peals the page back to reveal the most beautiful woman he has seen. The page is now printed with her signature red lip stick. The man later sees the woman from his office window and tries to catch her attention by throwing paper aeroplanes. After many failed attempts he puts all his trust into the last page, the one with her lip stain.
You will just have to watch it to see what happens.
The film is in black and white except for the lady’s lips. This helps add an even more romantic aspect to the movie as it shows that the only thing the young man is focused on is her. As cheesy as it sounds; she is the colour to his world.

Operation Valentine’s Day


It was the week before Valentine’s Day and as per usual my friends and I sat in the dilapidated canteen fantasising that the guys of our dreams would gallantly sweep us off our feet on the 14th February.

We all have different ways of picturing our perfect relationship; I like to write my own love stories and cast me as the main character, Naomi enjoys to talk about her love interest… constantly, Katie likes to keep her mysterious guy all in her head and Sophia waves at him every morning from across the street and imagines what it would be like if she had him on her arm.

I was almost certain that this Valentine’s Day I would not be single, Josh and I had been coming closer and closer every day. He would text me every night just to say, ‘Goodnight Alice’ and we ceased every opportunity we could get to chat during school. He was undoubtedly my first love.  

Unfortunately the others weren’t having just as much luck. Sophia had just discovered that Matthew was dating a girl from his school, Holly.  “I had finally plucked up the courage to knock on his door and say hi and his girlfriend opened the door” she said trying to fight back the tears, “Alice, I was mortified!” I didn’t know what to say, never have I seen Sophia so upset before, she must really love him.

I felt like I was stuck in the middle of everyone else’s love life disasters whilst my love life was going perfectly. Naomi was continuously talking about Harry and hoping that he would send her a card. As well as worrying about her own love interest Naomi was also trying to figure out who Katie fancied, but Katie was keeping her cards close to her chest.

Later that night I received a frantic text from Katie, “what should I do, Naomi keeps asking me who I fancy, but the problem is I fancy Harry too!!” I couldn’t believe it, two friends with their eye on the same guy, it was a disaster waiting to happen. I realised if Katie didn’t tell Naomi soon she was only going to feel guiltier so I gave her the only advice I knew would work, “Be honest.” The rest was up to them.

As I waited for Josh to reply to my text I realised he was taking longer than usual, maybe he was getting bored or maybe I was just paranoid. The next day in school I didn’t see Josh at all, I hoped he was all right, I was hoping tomorrow would be our first kiss and maybe he would even ask me out.

I couldn’t have been more wrong, that night he seemed busier than usual and couldn’t text me. Finally I got a text saying, “Sorry Alice but I just don’t think this relationship is going to work, I’m not ready for another relationship after Eve, sorry hope you understand.” I was distraught, how could he tell me he didn’t love me on the eve of the most romantic day of the year. I cried down the phone, to Katie, then Naomi and then Sophia.

Katie and Naomi still had a glimmer of hope that Harry would notice them and spontaneously ask them on a date. On the other hand Sophia and I had decided we would spend the night watching Romantic movies, eating ice-cream and escaping life all together.

As I walked to period 1 I saw Josh walking towards me, I quickly lowered my head to avoid eye contact, but as I did I noticed he was not alone. Clinging to his arm was Megan Forb, I couldn’t believe it. He had just lead me on, he had no intentions of ever dating me, he only ever wanted Megan.

That night we had more company than expected, Harry hadn’t noticed either Naomi or Katie. They had realised it was probably for the best, imagine the situation they would have in if one of them had been asked out.

As we sat in Sophia’s room we left behind the emotional roller coaster of a week we had experienced. We decided it was probably best to stay away from guys for a while. As we watched the rolling credits of ‘The Notebook’ fade away through the doorbell sounded. Sophia ran to answer it throwing on a hoody as she left. We all assumed it was her parents returning from their trip to Paris.

“Did you hear that?” Naomi said looking alarmed. We sprinted down the stairs after hearing several shrieks form Sophia, to find Sophia and Matthew in each other’s arms. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Although Naomi, Katie and my Valentine’s Day hadn’t turned out how we had planned, we couldn’t have been happier for Sophia. We sat upstairs leaving Matthew to explain why he had come over. Our ears pressed to the floor our hearts melted as we heard Matthew say, “I realised that Holly wasn’t right for me, the only girl I wanted was you.” Whilst I was happy for Sophia I couldn’t help but envy her a little. All I had wanted was for Josh to treat me the way Matthew was treating Sophia.

Although are plan to all have a date for Valentine’s Day didn’t work out, we realised that friends were just as good. Of course for Sophia Operation Valentine’s day had been extremely successful.

Now He’s Gone

The world felt like it had stopped every time I’d look into his icy blue eyes, I’d look so deep that I wouldn’t even see eyes any more, but a calm, still, tropical ocean. Things were different now. Sebastian was gone.

I remember the day like it was yesterday, or maybe it was yesterday, I don’t keep track of time any more I don’t see the point.

We had just had the most beautiful day at the beach everything seemed so tranquil. That night when I got back to my room, my cheeks were aching from smiling, but I couldn’t seem to shift my smile. Until suddenly the call I never expected to have to answer came. It shattered my soul, I was pretty sure my heart had just imploded, I was paralysed with sadness. The muscles in my fingers shut down as the phone fell to the ground. He was dead.

Now I have no one. Sebastian was the only person I had ever opened up to, the only person I could speak to without being in fear of being judged. I loved him and now he is gone.

I knew I was going to be the topic of the whispers that travelled the school corridors on Monday. Anger boiled inside of me at the thought of it, how could people talk about me when there was a poor boy robbed of his life because of a selfish, drunken idiot. 

I was right, as I walked in on Monday the whispers spread like wildfire. The sense of fake sympathy made me want to gag. The people in this school had never cared about me before, why now.

As I walked home that night I couldn’t bear to go back to my over-sympathetic parents who were just waiting to ask me how I was, didn’t they realise, I didn’t want to talk. As I wondered the streets I saw a group of guys spray painting the memory wall with the words, ‘RIP Sebastian’. I couldn’t believe it, those guys had scarcely acknowledged Sebastian, never mind speak to him! The rage was burning through my soul, it started to take control of my body. Suddenly I was running, my heart was pumping so hard I could have sworn it was going to escape my body, but I didn’t stop. I grabbed the tallest of the guys by the arm and ripped the can out of his hand, ‘how dare you!’ I yelled ‘Sebastian hated graffiti and everything about this wall!’ I was now screaming so loud my throat hurt, ‘You didn’t even know him!’

My vision became foggy as my eyes filled with tears. I tried to fight them back, but it hurt so bad that I feared if I held it in any longer my body would shut down.

It was getting dark now and I didn’t know where to go, I needed a safe haven. Then I remembered the cove Sebastian had shown me last year.

I made my way there slowly, as my vision was still distorted from the tears that were still gushing out of my eyes. On arrival I perched myself on the flat rock I sat on during that long, hot day last July. Tonight was beautiful, Sebastian would have loved it. As I looked out at the full moon reflecting over the clear ocean waters I imagined him sitting beside me with his easel and paints. Painting the most beautiful moonlight landscape. Every time I complemented a piece of his art he always said, ‘I’m just the interpreter, God is the real artist.’

As I reminisced a sudden calmness ran through my body as I realised Sebastian was now with the ultimate artist in heaven. 

Life became easier after I discovered my safe haven, it was the only place I felt calm. Talking about Sebastian’s death was still non-existent and would be for a long, long time, or so I thought.

Usually the calmness of the ocean erased the busy thoughts from my mind, but somehow tonight was different. As I sat on the rock a sense of uneasiness washed over me, I could have sworn someone else was there. ‘Don’t be stupid Catherine’, I muttered to myself, ‘this is your place and only your place’. But I was wrong.

‘Who you talking to’, came a voice from behind, I couldn’t have been more startled. I don’t like people scaring me. I had no idea who he was but I didn’t want him in my place. ‘What are you doing here?’ I roared.

His face corresponded a person who had just seen a ghost. He stuttered and finally, remembering how to speak again, said, ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t realise this space was occupied, I’m just looking for some shelter.’

A wave of sympathy for the mysterious boy crashed over me. ‘I’m Catherine’, I said shyly, ‘sorry for my outburst, I was just startled.’ The boy laughed nervously and whispered, ‘I’m Noah, and I can find somewhere else to stay if you want’. ‘No’, I yelled a little too enthusiastically, ‘here sit beside me, I could use some company anyway.’

Noah and I spent most of the night laughing and crying. He explained that his recent homelessness was a result of a drunken dad and a dead mum. As we talked I realised that we had both gone through a lot of crap recently, but the one thing I had that Noah didn’t was family.

Days and months past, finally I could speak to someone about Sebastian without feeling judged. One night as Noah and I sat under the full moon he burst into tears. I recognised these tears, they were tears of guilt.

As Noah came round he explained through the occasional sniff that his Dad had gone for his usual visit to ‘The Guard’, but unusually didn’t return. The worst circumstance came straight to mind, ‘had he died?’ Noah continued explaining that the next morning they found him in the local police station charged with drunk driving. I thought by now Noah had pulled himself together, but unexpectedly he started to cry again, ‘his drunk driving…’ he sobbed, ‘lead to the death…. the death of a teenage boy.’

Suddenly my heart dropped, Noah’s dad had killed Sebastian. I didn’t know how I felt, I wasn’t angry at Noah, I wasn’t even annoyed at his dad who had killed my perfect boy. The sadness overwhelmed me, how could such a trusting, innocent boy be the son of a murderer, it didn’t make sense. Life no longer made sense.

I knew I still loved Noah, but I also still loved Sebastian. Would he understand? That I needed someone to love me and to be physically there to hold me in there arms. Right in this moment, with Noah’s arms around me I could have sworn we were infinite, nothing could stop us. I knew from then on Noah and I were going to leave are troubled pasts behind, but our loved ones would always be in our hearts.