Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Constance L. Pringle MPharm

There are 3 things I want to share with the world today...

1. I've got a degree. I am a Master of Pharmacy (2:1). This cannot be overrated; I am overjoyed, excited and completely astounded

2. The process of getting this degree was the biggest struggle (and also the best experience) of my life so far.

3. I worked as hard as I could, but God deserves all the glory.

'Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.'
 - Ephesians 3: 20-21

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Homemade Worship by Handmade People

I'm in danger of becoming obsessed with Rend Collective Experiment. After spending the jubilee bank holiday under canvas at a music festival called The Big Church Day Out, I've been awoken to a whole new world of music. I've had a massively joyful introduction to those much talked-about bands that I didn't think I was cool enough to listen to. 

As a general rule, I don't buy music unless I'm celebrating something (although this might change when I finally start earning!). Since it was my birthday last week, however, I allowed myself to indulge. I can't recommend 'Homemade Worship by  Handmade People' by Rend Collective highly enough - the whole thing is a celebration in itself!

The lyrics are stunning, dealing directly with human-God relationships. They're honest enough to resonate with my 'concrete heart' but joyful enough to remind me that Jesus is exactly what we need - only God satisfies. 'You are my vision' is a rousing rendition of a favourite old hymn, but 'Build your kingdom here' was the first track to get stuck on repeat. The more I listen, however, the more I'm persuaded that 'The Cost', with its simple yet powerful message about God being worth everything, is the gem of the collection.

'I'm saying 'yes' to you, and no to my desires
I'll leave myself behind and follow you...

I've counted up the cost,
and you are worth it'

Having said this, there isn't a single song on this CD that I don't love; this album excites me for two reasons. First, it uses refreshingly honest lyrics about real life to point to Jesus. Second, musically it is amazing. It's rare to find such a winning combination. I often find its the lyrics to songs that stir my affections and focus my attention in either the right or wrong place, but such an enjoyable well-crafted combination of music and words reminds me just how good God is for giving the gift of singing and dancing. 

Hailing from Ireland, and generally producing a joyful blend of folk-pop that seeks to see more, do more and generally experience more of God, the band would rather refer to themselves as a collective of musicians. 'Welcome to the family!' reads their website, from which you can obtain the record I'm raving about. Trendy perhaps, but I think they make well the point that music isn't about celebrity, looking cool or having it all together. 

I can't imagine how this isn't the kind of music that gets everybody screaming from their rooftops (or at least blogging from their sofas), but of course, it's a matter of style. This might not be everyone's 'cup of tea' but I I'm ecstatic to be discovering Rend Collective for the first time, in slight disbelief that it's taken me this long!

The words are unmistakably christian, and God is certainly at the centre of this record, but I want to recommend it to every friend, regardless of their beliefs about Jesus or lack thereof. This is musical mastery 'for all, not just the religious'.

'All that I am is dry bones,
without you Lord
A desert soul.
I am broken but running
towards you God
You make me whole' - Desert Soul

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Growing up

I love the comfort offered by a cup of tea, hot summer sun and simple hymns played well. Adventures, conferences, weekends away and the moment my head finally hits the pillow at the end of a long day. Rainbows and the rabbits on UEA campus, big hugs from close friends and cuddles from my pussy cat, who sits on my tummy and purrs super loud. Listening to an old CD and discovering its excellence all over again, or, listening to a new one and being excited for the first time. Fun days, community spirit, rekindling friendships with old friends and the monumental experience of leaving a university exam hall for the last time!

I love these things because they show me, a little bit, what God is like. God is community - within the trinity and within the Church. God is all about relationships - picnics, conversations at the pub, weekend away and road trips with friends. God is the creator of rabbits and rainbows – through which he reminds us of his perfect, co-existing love and justice. God must be a musical God - the rediscovery and revival of a CD I haven’t listened to in forever reminds me, just a little bit, what it is like to rediscover again His goodness. Listening on repeat, I’m reminded of what absolute foolishness it is to forget in the first place His glory, majesty and absolute sovereignty. So easily distracted from His mighty purposes, I want to be this person who sees Jesus in everything. I can barely see past the end of my nose, but despite my failings and misplaced priorities, God in his grace reveals himself to me. God has revealed himself to me throughout my university experience.

There are no words to describe how I feel about finally finishing my degree, which for a million reasons has been the best and biggest learning curve of my life so far. To put it simply, I am very happy. I was amazed to even turn up, and now, after everything, I am astounded to have completed the course. After a reluctant beginning and a few years quietly contemplating a plan B (as if this was ever my plan A!), I’ve grown surprisingly fond of pharmacy. In a few weeks I might even graduate, which will be a victory in itself – only because I now understand a little more God’s strength in my weakness, my identity in Christ alone and the joy that comes from working for His purposes (see 2 Corinthians 4, Galatians 3 and Colossians 3 respectively). It’s laughable how much I have grown up into my work, and typical that I’m only just beginning to realise the exciting truth that every moment of the last four years has been used by God to show me, and others around me, that he is entirely faithful.

I can’t pretend I’m not devastated to leave uni, but I’m determined to take hold of the life promised me by God himself (1 Tim 6.12) and to live it the best way I know.

‘Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess for he who promised is faithful’
– Hebrews 10. 23

‘Praise to the Lord who doth prosper thy work and defend thee.
Surely his goodness and mercy do daily attend thee
Ponder anew, what the almighty can do
if with His love He befriend thee’
– from the hymn ‘Praise to the Lord the Almighty, the King of Creation’