My teenage years weren't the easiest, and I struggled at an old-fashioned, strict grammar school, breaking with school tradition by leaving at 16. However, I was fortunate to have a decent set of 'O'-Levels, and as I enjoyed working with and meeting people, I decided to become a nurse.
Having qualified in 1987, I did a variety of jobs ranging from renal dialysis, infectious diseases, practice and theatre nursing, eventually becoming a junior sister of a day surgery unit. I loved nursing in the old days—when nurses could get to know patients as individuals, and there was time to talk about their worries, hopes, dreams and families.
When I married and had children, we moved to Germany , and nursing was no longer possible. But whilst helping out at a nursery school, I realised I enjoyed working with children, and got a job helping four-year-olds in an army school. The idea of teaching was an impossibility, but they encouraged me to study for a degree with the Open University, so I did...
Seven years later, having worked as a teaching assistant in every year group of three different primary schools, I graduated with a first-class honours bachelor of science degree. That was a miracle in itself! I wished my teachers could have seen me as I finally achieved what had eluded me all those years ago.
But what to do with it? I knew primary school teaching wasn't for me. Memories remained of the one or two secondary school teachers who had continued to have faith in me, even when I let them down; who encouraged and supported me, even when I'd almost given up; who made me believe there was some good inside me, even when I wasn't showing it on the outside; who told me I didhave talent, when everyone else had written me off; and who made learning fun (at least some of the time).
I realised that, having been that 'pain in the neck' at school, I had a real insight into what some young people go through, and so decided to train as a secondary school science teacher.
It's been a very long year—I've never worked so hard or been so tired, but on those days when students smile and say, “I get it now, Miss,” or “That lesson was great!” make it all worthwhile.
So, where am I going with this? Well, there are a few stories in the Bible that have really spoken to me:
• The Prodigal Son: the Father never gives up on his child, and has stacks of rewards waiting if we turn back to him and give it another go.
• Paul's conversion: no matter how far off you are, God will always help you get back on the right path—even one you never dreamed of taking.
• The book of Job [OT]: even when life is really tough, if you trust and believe that God is with you, it will all turn out right in the end.
• The walls of Jericho : no task is insurmountable with God's help.
I still have a way to go until I finish my training, and then I have to get a job, but I do believe that God has been with me throughout my life, waiting for me to turn to and trust in him, and in the promises of his son, Jesus. Through using my faith and my life experiences, I want to reach out to others to help renew their hope, and enable them to take a new road in life.