Beauty From Pain

Christianity Oasis has provided this E-book titled Beauty From Pain written by Author Clara Rice. We hope you will explore our many studies and programs at Christianity Oasis that look into all aspects of the Christian Walk and reveal truth and bring forth understanding and peace.

Living Water at the Oasis
Living Water at the Oasis

Beauty From Pain

Welcome to Christianity Oasis Purity Publications. This E-book is titled Beauty From Pain written by Author Clara Rice. Christianity Oasis in association with Purity Publications proudly presents you with this Beauty From Pain E-Book free of charge for your enjoyment.

Chapter One

Tia sat down, staring at the family photo pinned firmly on the wall, her hand smoothed the fur of her pet dog- Honey. Who was napping on Tia's lap, her fur looked radiant as the sun caught its golden colour. Tia bit her lip, she hated looking at that ridiculous family photo, it was a fake, a false portrayal of what lay beneath the smiling exterior. That photo was a mask to cover up the real thing. Like a bandage covering up a wound. She felt so lonely, unloved and cheated of what she really deserved. Tia's eyes began to tear over, just looking at her broken, worn down family made her feel so empty. She brushed the tears away quickly, why was she crying, how would that help anything? She then got up to do some revision.

Tia stared at her revision notes, the words just became a blur as she read them, she just wasn't focused, she brushed the notes aside, she was going out – she needed fresh air. She would go for a walk; she ran down the old, worn stairs, grabbed her house key and slipped on a smoky grey hoody. She opened the door, the cold wind cut into her face like a knife; she buried her face into her hoody; and trudged into the autumn air. The sky was a dusky grey in colour, and it was spitting; brown leaves danced on the floor, the trees were bare and swaying slightly. As Tia walked she thought of her family, her mum and dad never paid any interest in her. They never had. From a young age she'd be left to her own devices, a children's book would be shoved under her nose; and then she'd be deserted for hours. They were not concerned with their daughters wellbeing, just their own petty problems. Riles – Tia's older brother, never socialised with her, Cheryl – his girlfriend – was his only concern.

Honey seemed to be the only friend Tia had, she was always there when Tia needed her, always reliable. But, Honey was getting old, and she was just a dog, she couldn't entirely understand the complicatedness of a humans thoughts. She had the easy life.

Tia crouched down by a weeping willow; it had a couple of green leaves. She felt just like the tree, just like a weeping willow, hidden away with no one to appreciate her. Rain began to fall heavier and heavier; Tia got up and stared at the ground, pinching her hoody around her face to avoid the rain. It was too late before she noticed a man walking in the opposite direction, and she bumped straight into him. The man looked at her. He was wearing a neat brown jacket, glasses, and had dark brown wavy hair. His heart felt sympathy towards Tia, and he stopped her. "What's wrong? You look upset." Tia shrugged and she began to walk. "I need, I just need to be on my own, I'm not wanted anywhere else," she sighed, clasped her hands and pursed her lips, trying to avoid the man. "Now that's not true, I can already name you someone that cares where you are, and..."

"No, no you can't. Just leave me alone!"

"Look, God cares. He cares a lot." Tia's mouth straightened. She had never liked the idea of a God, she didn't want to listen. "I don't need your help I can manage on my own. Thank you." She said through gritted teeth. She stumbled on, squinting as she walked through the heavy rain.

She soon reached the familiar door, with the peeling paint and rusty knocker. She opened the door and was greeted by rowdy shouting. "Tia! Tia where've you been?", her mum screamed. "I asked you to wash the dishes, -just wash the dishes, and you've gone and forgotten. You stupid girl!" Tia's mum shouted, she opened a packet of cigarettes, lit one, and then sucked on it, waiting for Tia to respond. "Mum, I had to revise; I can't do everything." Tia said. Her mum breathed out a long wisp of smoke "I don't care if you had to rebuild the empire state building! My dishes are dirty and you need to clean them!" Tia's mum growled, Tia threw down her house keys and stormed to the kitchen, she picked up a dish and washed it so vigorously that she ended up dropping it, it fell with a smash, and china went flying everywhere. "Oh, you idiot. You can't do anything; no one would think your going to be seventeen this year! You act like a flipping ten year old!" Tears welled in Tia's eyes once more; she was confused and puzzled, what had that man meant? Was he right? She finished cleaning the dishes, and stacked them up. Thoughtful of what had happened she dived into her bed, placing a pillow around her head.

Chapter Two

Tia awoke to the burning of toast and her mum shouting at her dad. She got into her jeans and fleece, then she braided her hair and went down stairs. "Late aren't you?" her mum asked taking a puff from her cigarette. Tia shrugged, ' well you were very helpful waking me up,' she said sarcastically. Mum curled her lip. "Mum, where did you put my trainers?!" Riles barked.

"I didn't flipping move them Riles!" mum shouted. Then there was a knock on the door, it was Cheryl, the house was filled with noise. Tia took a piece of burnt toast, buttered it and then got her schoolbag to go. She couldn't bear the constant shouting and arguing, she hated it, her house was never filled with words of love.

When Tia arrived at school she was greeted by her friend Hannah. "Hey. You ok?" Tia shrugged.

"Yeah, I'm fine." She lied, Hannah nodded, but her eyes searched for the true answer. She followed Tia to her locker. "We've got a new history teacher...Mr. Brown; I think that's his name." Tia nodded, and made her way to her form room. She wasn't interested this morning; her mind was elsewhere.

History was first thing so Tia got to meet this Mr. Brown straight away. She was surprised when she saw it was the same man she had bumped into. He was a friendly looking man and smiled at the class. "Hello class my name is Mr. Brown, I hope soon I will get to know you all." He smiled again, his eyes darted to Tia, he smiled.

"Our new topic in Religious Studies, is the reign of King Herod and people of his time. Open your books at page 47." He looked round at the class. They were all sussing him out, deciding what sort of teacher he was. "Right, Darren read the first paragraph please." Mr. Brown directed. The class soon came to like Mr. Brown and the lesson was a good one. The rest of school seemed to drag by, Tia looked around restlessly, and was reprimanded a few times for becoming distracted. It was soon the end of school, it was dark and snowing lightly; Tia shivered. The bus was not running due to an accident of some sort and Tia was trying her best to walk quickly, she warmed herself blowing into her hands. She wish it wouldn't snow, it brought back memories. Memories of her mum and her building a snowman, they were just about to put the carrot on, as his nose. Tia still remembered it clearly. Drringg. Her mums phone had gone. Her mum got up and left Tia in the snow, outside in her garden, alone. With a nose less snowman. "Mummy. Mummy." Tia had cried. "He's not finished yet." But none of that mattered to her materialistic mum. Bitterness took hold of her. She hated being hurt. Tia was brought back to her senses. She chose the shortcut which was down a small alley way, it was really a very short alley way but in the dark it looked miles longer. As she was getting near the end of the it Tia saw a group of hooded men, they were smoking and looked intimidating.

Tia tried to ignore them and stay in the shadows, but one of the men spotted her. They began to follow her, Tia quickened her pace, so did the men. She began to feel uncomfortable and started to run. The snow was falling heavily now. Her vision became blurred. Suddenly she saw a man; he had fair hair and blue eyes. He looked kind and gentle, his appearance was very hard to describe, it was as if he had some sort of strange presence, to look at him was like looking at the face of an innocent baby but at the same time it seemed Tia was looking into the face of a wise man. He looked at Tia and began to walk; Tia instinctively followed him he went right down her road and up to her door. Tia stared at the door and back, but he was gone. The man was gone. She looked all around her, the hooded men were gone to.

Tia paused before knocking on the door; she was so amazed, so confused. Riles answered the door and looked at Tia, the expression of awe and wonder was still imprinted on her face. "What's up with you?" he asked. Tia shrugged. "I'm not sure." Riles rolled his eyes, he pushed her inside. "You've never made sense." Tia frowned.

"Thanks Riles, that makes me feel a whole lot better." Tia muttered running up the stairs.

Tia ran upstairs; she was confused, nothing made sense anymore. The words that were spoken to her hurt too, she couldn't get them out of her mind. They just played in the background all day. Demoralizing her. Useless, stupid, idiot. Was there any point to her life? It didn't look like that. She hungered for someone she could trust, who she could love, who could love her? There seemed no hope left, love had been stripped of it's meaning, now all it meant was kissing and just saying I love you. Tia knew in her heart there was more to love than that, her heart yearned for something, some long lasting fulfilling love. But she knew that no human love could do that, so what could?

Chapter Three

The following Monday, it was Religious Studies. Tia collected her books and headed to the classroom . She sat down on her chair, and raked her hands through her hair. Sighing. She noticed Mr. Brown looking at her, and quickly sat up and pulled out her folder. Once more she didn't pay attention to the lesson, but Mr. Brown didn't say anything. Tia sat doodling on a page of lined paper, was there a point to her existence? Would anyone miss her if she was gone? No. Who would miss a useless seventeen year old.

"Ok class you are dismissed, Tia please stay behind."

Oh no. This was just great; Tia thought he hadn't noticed.

"Tia. Is there something bothering you?" Tia looked down, avoiding the direct gaze of Mr. Browns gentle eyes. "No." she whispered. "Tia, I am not going to report you. I need to know. Is something going on at home." Tia's eyes darted around the room, she hated being confronted about her home life, she knew she could easily breakdown. "No. No their isn't." Mr. Brown nodded.

"Tia, I would like to invite you to a youth event at my church. Its aimed at older teens. You may have seen posters about around the school. Its at 7pm tonight. Thank you. You can go now." Tia got up. She walked over to her locker. Yes. She'd go. She'd do anything to get away from her family.

No one was home when Tia got back. She knew no one would miss her, but she still scribbled a note so her mum couldn't rant at her for being inconsiderate.

Tia then went into the kitchen and got a packet of crisps before heading off to the church. It was a local one and Tia knew where it was and she got there promptly on time. As she reached the door she looked around, she had always thought that churches were old fashioned and had tall steeples and big organs. But this church was different, it was an inviting place – bright, young. She opened the door and stepped inside. A girl with long dark brown hair and blue eyes came up to her. She looked kind and friendly. "Hello," she welcomed, "I'm Molly," she smiled and welcomed Tia inside. "Hello I am Tia, I know Mr. Brown he said I could come tonight." Molly smiled, "Well the more the better," she enthused, "by the way you can call him Derrick."

Molly lead Tia into a hall, there were lots of teens there of all ages and genders. Molly began to introduce Tia to everyone. There were almost 20 people. They all seemed so happy and content. Soon Derrick came in and introduced Tia himself to the group. "I thought as a starter we could do a naming game." He announced. The group agreed. Tia soon knew most of the people. There was Jack, Molly, Lucy, Jane, Harvey, Grace, Dominic, Ruth, Ceri, Samantha, Nathan, Debbie, Rachel, George, David and Emily. She liked it here, she felt accepted, even though everyone in the room was a stranger to her. After that exercise Derrick began to read a passage out from his Bible. It went like this- "For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son. God gave his Son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life." The rest of the group began to think deeply about those words, Tia looked around awkwardly, she didn't want to be out of place. So she bowed her head and thought. Why did he give his only son? How much did he love the world? Who was his son? She thought. Could this God love her too? Soon after, Derrick prayed and then the group shared around crisps, biscuits and cakes.

Derrick offered to bring Tia home, but Tia refused. She preferred her own company, and she didn't want Derrick to pry into her family affairs, or her inner feelings. She kept them bottled up within her, a firm cap held them down, and she didn't want anyone to release that cap. Tia soon reached her door. All the light and happy emotions were stamped out of her in a single moment.

Before Tia had even set a foot on the floor her mum came at her, she slapped her, Tia smelt alcohol on her breath "Why the hell have you been going off with a Jesus man who will put all religious stuff in your teeny little brain!" she growled. Tia looked at her Mum, her slap stung and she had to choke her tears away. Every time she walked through this door the whole atmosphere changed, everything became so aggressive. "If there is any respect or love left in you, then at least you would recognise I am nearly and adult now. I don't need your permission for every action I take." Mum curled her lip, and pulled out a cigarette. "Just get up to your bloody room will you." Her mum sobbed, before coughing.

Tia went upstairs wishing she could find the love she yearned for so much. Wishing she could be loved.

Chapter Four

Tia had come home from a long day at school, she felt ill, and was sitting on her bed texting; she had her laptop on her bed, looking at puppies, Staffies. She was looking for another puppy, someone to keep Honey company and Tia company when Honey was gone. Mum refused Tia's request of getting a dog, said it was too expensive. But she made excuses for everything. Tia sighed; she remembered it was her turn to do the dishes. She didn't feel like it though, she was tired and had a migraine. Her mum could do it herself, she was more than capable. If all of mum's abusive words were bars of soap, every dish on planet earth would be crystal clean. "TIA!" she heard her Mum scream. Tia just ignored her and buried her face in her pillow, she didn't care. "TIA! TIA! COME HERE NOW!" her Mum shrieked. But Tia didn't care.

Her Dad didn't come home till ten; he was in a bad mood. He didn't smile when Tia came down to greet him, and he slapped Mum when she didn't give him his tea. They started arguing and Mum cried, but what made Tia worried was something else. Since yesterday Mum had began to develop a cough, a hoarse cough that made her throat sound dry. She coughed and cried in such a way that it sounded like she might just fall and collapse. Tia wasn't sure what to do.

She went into her bedroom and knelt down beside her bed. Honey came in the room. She rested her head on Tia's lap, Tia smoothed her fur and kissed her head. Honey's brown eyes stared into Tia's hazel ones. Tia thought once again about her life, from day one she had been an 'accident' that was what mum had told her so many times, it was her little tool, a way of making Tia feel useless. Mum had loved Tia at a point in time, but that had slowly disintegrated into hate. Tia remembered as a young child, smelling a strange smell on mums lips, which eventually became familiar. There were so many scars in Tia's life, which her mum constantly opened. So many problems, so much pain. Excruciating pain. Tia remembered hiding under her duvet with her teddy bear, telling it how sad she was. That she didn't like mummy being angry. And she didn't understand why mummy cried. As a child she had been so neglected, she was deprived of the love she deserved. She couldn't count the hours she'd been left in her room with some crayons and a piece of paper, and been told to draw. Then, five hours later, mum would come home and Tia would rush down the stairs to show mum her artwork. But mummy didn't care, she shoved it aside. Once Tia had seen her drawing of a flower screwed up in the bin. Tears collected around Tia's eyes. She searched in her drawer and pulled out a crumpled piece of paper, her flower.

Chapter Five

It was Sunday; Tia had gone to the Youth Club regardless of what her Mum thought. This time Derrick read out a different passage it went like this- "Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not boast, and it is not proud. Love is not rude, is not selfish and does not become angry easily. Love does not remember wrongs done against it. Love is not happy with evil, but it is happy with the truth. Love patiently accepts all things. It always trusts, always hopes, and always continues strong." Tia thought about this. This was the sort of the love she wanted and needed, this was the sort of love that she wished was always in her home. This was real this was true.

Mum was puffing a cigarette when Tia got back, she glared at Tia. She pulled out her mobile and texted Molly.

Tia and Molly had begun to form a good friendship with each other and Molly went to the same school as Tia. Molly understood Tia, and she listened to her, she never pried but she was caring and thoughtful. Tia slipped on a hoody and her plimsolls and went back outside. She was going to Molly's house.

When she got round to Molly's house she could instantly sense the change of atmosphere compared to her own house. She liked the calm, relaxed environment and soon settled in. Molly's dog Rolo bounced up to greet them. Tia smiled. She liked Rolo, he was a Labradoodle and very friendly. Tia and Molly sat in Molly's bedroom, painting each others nails. Molly talked to Tia about school and Tia did the same. Molly helped Tia, Molly understood Tia and she talked about her own life too. After that it was dinner, before anyone ate Molly's Mum, Kathleen, thanked God for the food. This was unusual for Tia, in fact the whole set up of the meal was different, Tia never ate dinner with her family yet Molly's older sister Esther was at the table as well as Jude who was Molly's younger brother. Their father was at work. After the meal, Molly and Tia spent some time talking to each other. Before Tia went home Molly prayed for her, but she didn't pray in English she prayed in a language that Molly called tongues.

Tia wished she didn't have to leave, to return to her aggressive, unwelcoming home. But she didn't want to overstay her welcome. When she got home, her body urged her to sleep, but her mind said otherwise. She was surrounded with thoughts, she was mainly thinking about Molly, and the different lifestyle they had, for them, the family photo on the wall was real, not fake, not an image that disguised a dysfunctional family. Molly's family were united, they were bound together with love and understanding. Tia knew they had strong relationships, she had none, her and her family were just people who learnt to live alongside each other, but there was no love involved. The only love was between Riles and Cheryl, but they only kept that for each other. Tia hardly even knew Cheryl, even though Riles and her had been with each other for months, she just never socialised with her, maybe that was the problem, maybe she needed to love in order to be loved.

Tia always felt so lonely inside, so empty. She knew that she had lots of love to share with others, but there was no one willing to receive it. She snuggled underneath her duvet and thought, she wished she could be loved and love. She wished that more than anything.

Chapter Six

Tia came back from school and plonked her bag on the sofa, she looked across at Cheryl who reading a magazine. She had noticed a difference in Cheryl but hadn't quite but her finger on it, now she realised. "Cheryl, your not pregnant are you?" she asked, trying not to sound to sure of herself in case she wasn't. Cheryl smiled and rubbed her belly contentedly. "Yep, " she said laughing. Tia congratulated Cheryl and thought for a moment. On one hand she was happy, on another she wasn't, it was another topic for mum to grumble about or complain about. She hardly wanted the hassle of a baby on her hands. In fairness, Cheryl and Riles were both twenty two and old enough to care for a baby without mums help, but that didn't sort out the financial cost of a new child.

"Pregnant?" mum asked Riles again, with a slight hint of irritation in her voice. "How many weeks?" she asked, eying Riles with what seemed to be suspicion. Riles frowned. "Why do you care, all you need to know is your going to be a Nana." Mum sighed, before coughing repeatedly as she walked outside into the garden to light a cigarette.

It was Youth Club and after a game of dodge ball, Derrick read out a passage. It was about marriage and Tia realised that it was wrong of Riles and Cheryl to have a child without being married, or at least in God's eyes it was. She'd never considered that it was wrong before, but now she herself felt that it would be better to wait until she was married; that way their weren't many risks involved, and it was a better environment to bring up a family. She told Derrick about it, he explained that the rules of God are not as imprinted in people's thoughts as they used to be, that people did these things and saw no wrong in it. But Jesus would not like it because you should be committed to each other before deciding to have a baby. But he also reminded Tia that you can mend any sin if you ask Jesus for forgiveness. Tia nodded, she was beginning to soften to the Christian religion. It didn't seem like a boring religion anymore, where you prayed all the time and recited the bible; instead it seemed alive and relevant to the issues Tia had. The bible was read in an exciting, contemporary way; it was interesting. Christianity was interesting.

Tia was sitting on her bed with Honey at her side, she was on her laptop, searching for possible Universities she may want to go to, she wanted a good education. Going to a university could mean a £10,000 debt afterwards, not only had the accommodation prices gone up, so had the tuition prices. Tia thought the government were going over the top, allowing universities to charge that much. Every university she showed any interest in was way out other budget. Stupid student fees, she thought to herself, why do they have to go up for, now I can't even get a decent education. I'll be stuck at home for the rest of my life. Tia closed her laptop in frustration, there was nothing, nothing at all. No university that had a decent price tag. She texted Hannah: Hannah, I hv bn srchin 4 uni's 4 ova an hr, nd hvnt fnd 1!! x Tia then waited for a reply, it wasn't long before she received one. My frnd is doin a protest, d u wanna come? x Tia considered this for a moment, a student protest? It was a protest where she's be making a difference, with others, rampaging the streets of London for a reason, she would be protesting against the horrific prices the unfairness. Yes she would do it, then at least the government might look and do something about it, so Tia replied saying she would.

All of Saturday morning Tia was hyped up, she was waiting for four' o clock, when she would go with Hannah and her friends on a protest in London. Tia's mum noticed a difference in her, and didn't like it, so she constantly set tasks for her, could you do this? Could you do that? Pop to the shops and get me a... -were the only words that spilled from mums mouth.

Finally four' o clock came, Tia pulled on her hoodie and then went out. Hannah met Tia at the Big Ben in London, there was a group of about twenty huddled in agroup, one of Hannah's friends had banners and signs to give out. Tia stared down at the sign she was holding. Was it worth it? Was it worth marching into the city of London for a protest? Tia wasn't sure; she didn't notice Hannah and her friends marching off, she followed them, wishing Honey was there, she would of helped her decide whether to go with them. Tia tried to reassure herself it was right, after all she was protesting for what she believed in, and it would be peaceful; at least she hoped it would.

It was minutes before Tia was lost in a crowd of hundreds of noisy students, all protesting, all united. She saw some of them running to shop windows and kicking them. She was astonished, there was no reason to become violent. Police were running up to the students and wrestling the difficult ones to the ground, it was then Tia noticed that one of them was Hannah's friend. He stared the policemen angrily in the eye, swearing and punching. Tia began to feel people pushing her from behind, she almost lost my balance, she tried to put her sign as high as she could into the air, but felt it wobbling in her hand. Suddenly she tripped, she tried to get up, but several bodies surrounded her, seeming to close in on her. She crawled out and ran away from the crowd, towards the shelter of a nearby shop, Tia was about to drop the sign when she felt a heavy hand descend on her shoulder.

"Excuse me," a policeman coughed, "Were you just about to vandalise that shop window with your sign?" Tia suddenly realised her mistake, charging up to a shop window with a reasonably heavy sign in her hand, what else could it of looked like. "No." Tia replied innocently. The policeman shook his head. "What's your name and address." Tia sighed, why oh why was she taking the blame, instead of all those other violent protesters.

"20 Meltam Place in Rushter. And my name is Tia Farnahm."She said through gritted teeth, trying to hold her temper. The policeman nodded and directed Tia to a car, where she was asked to take a seat, and the policeman would escort her home. There were two police in the car, a man and a woman. The woman was very chatty and kept asking Tia questions, Tia responded in the easiest way possible.

Finally the police car arrived at Tia's house; the police got Tia out and walked her to her door. Mum answered it; a cigarette in her hand. The policeman barely got a word in before mum exploded. "Where have you been? And why the hell have you got a policeman with you? What have you done?!" Finally, the policeman got a word in edgewise. "Mr.s Farnham, your daughter was involved in a protest and appeared to be about to vandalise a shop window." The policeman informed mum. "Protest? Tia, why. Just, just get the hell inside." The policeman then left mum, who slammed the door angrily. Tia ran upstairs, tears streaming down her face, why did she constantly get the blame for everything? There was only so much a seventeen year old could take. Tia was at loss, if there was a God, why didn't he let any of her life go to plan? Why was her life full of misfortunes? Why?

Chapter Seven

It was Youth Club, Tia decided she would go; she'd do anything just to get away from her mum. There wasn't a passage this week; instead Derrick did a sermon on God's everlasting and forgiving love. He gave examples from his own life, and he portrayed God's love in such a wonderful way, that Tia felt inspired. She seemed to forget the previous days events and just dwell in God's love and hope and the promise He gave her and everyone who cam to him, that one day, she would live in His house forever.

Tia thought for a minute, she wanted to be a part of the love and unity that the youth group had. She wanted to become a child of God too, she wanted the same love, the same care the same father like protection which God had over all his other children. So Tia prayed a prayer of salvation and as she did so, she knew that she felt different, and that love had been found. Her heart was finally complete she felt so happy; Jesus was the love she needed. Suddenly, she saw the man again; the one she had seen when she was being followed by the boys, there in the Church, looking at Tia, smiling at her, refreshing her. And before Tia had time to tell Molly about it he had gone, disappeared, just like that. Then Tia looked down and saw a Bible at her feet, and printed on the inside cover was- Tia Farnham, Tia was amazed, she thanked God for his blessing and prayed for many more.

As she walked home, Bible in hand she began to think about her decision and how it might change her life. How it might affect those around her. Her Mother answered the door. When she saw the Bible in Tia's hand she began to get cross. "Tia, what have you got in your hand?" she snarled.

"A book of love and rules." Tia whispered, then ran upstairs and slipped the Bible into her drawer. Then she got changed and went to sleep.

* * * *

Cheryl was in her final month of pregnancy, she found difficulty in moving and often Tia would come home to find Cheryl stretched across the sofa. Cheryl constantly to Tia how much she wished her little child was out of her now. She had found out the baby's gender but kept it secret from everyone else. The pregnancy seemed to bring Riles and Cheryl closer than ever, and the love they shared for each other was clear. Tia found that in being a Christian, she found it easier to do good things and help people, she often found herself helping Cheryl carry things or bringing Riles lunch without being asked. Molly constantly encouraged her and told her that God would help her to continue to be loving and gracious if she put her faith in him.

It was Saturday and Tia was sitting in the living room watching TV, Cheryl was lying on the sofa and Riles was keeping a close eye on her. It was in the middle of a break in the TV show, when Cheryl looked slightly distressed, she clutched her stomach and gave Riles a nod. Riles knew what it meant, he yelled for Mum, he was always quite nervous and panicky when it came to important things. Mum and Riles helped Cheryl into the car and rushed her off to hospital; no one said a word to Tia. She sat at home wondering what was happening, but her mind was more focused on university, she was trying to think of a peaceful way to protest against student fees, to protest about the increasing cost just for an education. She sighed as she saw all her dreams crash to the ground, she had dreams of becoming a doctor, but she couldn't be one if she hadn't gone to university. She felt at loss inside.

Tia looked at the time on her phone, 8.34pm, they had been at the hospital for two hours now, she was beginning to worry, what if the birth had gone wrong? She bit her lip. How tragic it would be if the baby hadn't made it, after all Cheryl's hard work. She prayed this wasn't the case. Suddenly the phone rang, Tia got up and answered it.

"Hi Tia...guess what... you're going to be an Aunt to a nephew! We called him Zak. The birth went ok, Cheryl's got a third degree tear, but she'll be ok. He looks so much like Cheryl the hair and all." He sounded so excited and his words all came out in a rush. Tia couldn't wait to see the baby.

They came home at six, and Zak was in a Moses basket, curled up in a cream blanket, looking nice and snug, he was so small and delicate. Tia thought that one poke and he may start crying. She rubbed his cheek gently, and looked into his blue eyes which were just like Riles'. Her heart warmed to the new child, a new addition to the family. She felt it was like her coming into God's family, a new and welcomed addition to grow and prosper with brothers and sisters of all nations.

Mum curled her lip at Tia when she held her arms out to hold Zak , "Don't go touching him, leave him alone." she snarled. "He's not used to you yet, you'll make him cry."

Tia frowned. "Mum, seriously, stop it, I'll be fine," Riles tried to break the argument by saying –

"Well he's everyone's baby to hold." Then mum coughed, one of her heaving coughs again, that made Tia cringe.

The next day when Tia and Cheryl were alone Tia indirectly asked if her and Riles were going to get married. Cheryl shrugged. "I dunno really, maybe, why?" she asked.

"I just think, in my opinion it's a better place to be in before you start a family. More secure perhaps, I don't know." Tia told her. "I guess, but I don't think its that simple. You gotta proper love that person. 'Coz I'd never want a divorce, to painful." Tia nodded and went to go and do some revision.

Chapter Eight

Tia was sitting in her room, looking at Staffordshire Bull Terriers for sale, again, she desperately wanted to get another puppy, she loved dogs, she loved their simplicity and loyalty. She loved the fact that they never judged you, just loved you. She loved their calm temperaments. The puppies cost a good £400, Tia only had a quarter of that to spend. Oh well, she though to herself as she closed her laptop, I'll just have to keep saving, and praying.

Tia was spread across her bed, revision cards scattered everywhere. Chewing a pencil she read each card and try to memorise what was written on it, she picked up a red one : What is the carbon cycle? It read, Tia scratched her head. Slam! Tia heard Riles thump through the hallway and slam his satchel onto the surface; that was normal, but then she heard something else, an uncommon noise. Riles was crying, sobbing in fact. Tia ran down the stairs, pencil still in hand. "Riles? Riles what's wrong, is it Cheryl. Zak?" Please no. Please not Zak. Riles shook his head and brushed away his tears. "It's mum Tia. Mum's got lung cancer." He held his head in his hands. Tia opened her mouth to comfort Riles, but no sound came out. "Cancer?" she said the word with disbelief and hatred. Riles nodded and sniffed. "You gotta pray Tia. Maybe your Jesus will listen to you." Tia felt her face crumple up, she fell into Riles arms and cried on his shoulder. "Oh Riles," Tia cried, for once feeling close to her brother. He stroked her hair and looked into her eyes. "It'll be alright. You'll see." He gulped, "she was taken into casualty today you see, she had difficulty breathing. And that's their diagnosis." Tia bit her lip and nodded.

Why now? Why did God have to test her faith now? She felt so desperate and emotional. It's not until someone dies or may die until you realise actually how much you love them. Tia wished she had spent more time with her mum, had appreciated her more.

Riles slowly became more irritable and frustrated with Tia, he couldn't control his emotions properly. He had to be mature and sensible for Cheryl and stay calm for Zak, so he lot all his anger and sadness out on Tia. He often shouted at her for holding Zak or made a curt remark if she accidently dropped something. Tia knew he didn't mean it, but it was hard, and it took all her strength not to let it get to her. She just took all of her feelings to Jesus, and let him deal with them. Rather than reacting to his words, which would result in an argument. She would be the mature one.

Riles was driving Tia and himself to hospital, to see mum. Tia had her Bible, she felt God prompt her to take it,. She sat in the car twirling her hair. Nervous. She wasn't sure she wanted to see her mum now. If she wanted to become part of the pain and hurt her mum was feeling. It was selfish, she knew, but it was hard.

A kind nurse named Matilda showed them the way to Mum. It was true that her Mum was seriously ill. She was very pale and drawn, and her eyes were red, her hair was strewn across her pillow, and her lips were thin. She smiled when she saw Riles and Tia. She managed a faint "Hello." Tia smiled at her. Riles bent down and gave her a kiss on her forehead. "How you doin' Mum? You ain't lookin' too great are you? It's all them cigarettes I told you that they weren't good for you." he whispered. Mum nodded and tears came to her eyes. She suddenly went into a fit of coughing, it made Tia jump, tears welled in her eyes. "Oh Mum..." she said crying. "I'm sorry for never asking you how you were, I mean...I was so unkind." Mum just cried on Tia's shoulder. Her sore, tired eyes looked into Tia's young, beautiful ones, "I love you Tia and you Riles, I'm so sorry." Mum whispered. Tia gasped; it was the first time her Mum had told her she loved her in years. "I, I love you too Mum." Tia replied slowly, the words seemed foreign to her. Then Tia sat down on a chair by Mum's bed and read out a passage from the Bible. She read Psalm 41v1-13. But the verse that struck Tia the most was verse three. It went as follows- 'The Lord will give him strength when he is sick. The Lord will make him well again.' Mum listened intently, but it didn't sink into her she merely smiled and gave a brief nod. Then Nurse Matilda told Riles that they had to go.

Riles and Tia gave Mum a hug, and Riles put some roses he had brought on the way in a small vase. The nurse smiled, and then shoed them away. On the way back, Riles said nothing to Tia , but there was nothing to say.

There was an air of guilt and sadness about, both Tia and Riles knew they should of taken mum to a doctor sooner, but they hadn't. Tia felt almost responsible. She felt broken, she needed Jesus to be the glue that held her fragmented life together.

Chapter Nine

Riles continued to blame Tia for things, to call her cruel names and become irritable whenever when she was around Zak. Tia would sometimes would stare him in the eyes with sorrow and desperation. She was a person too. She had feelings. She had pain. Every word pierced her like a knife. Every expression broke her, she wanted to be loved by her family, not rejected.

It was a Tuesday morning, Tia was sitting at the table eating some toast, Zak was on the floor with some toys. He began to cry, Tia walked over to him. "It's ok." She reassured him, she picked him up and rocked him gently. "It's ok." He chuckled. Tia laughed, she stroked his cheek with her index finger. "Tia. Leave him alone." Riles said through gritted teeth. Tia shook her head with disbelief. This was just too much. "Riles, I just picked him up. He was crying." Riles marched over to Tia and snatched Zak from her eyes, Zak burst into tears. "Now look what you've done! Your so selfish. Riles what is your problem?" Tia shouted angrily. "Tia if you would just go away, and leave me to sort out my own problems, all this would be ok. But no, you can't keep your nose out." He yelled, Cheryl stepped into the room frowning, she took Zak. "Yeah, well I am going!" Tia replied.

She grabbed her coat and went outside, it was windy and the sky had some foreboding clouds in it. She wanted to get away from her insolent brother, she wanted to see mum. She waited at a bus shelter.

The bus came quite quickly and Tia stepped inside, she sat on a chair next to an old lady. "Hello darling, are you on your way home from somewhere?" she asked. Tia shook her head.

"No, I'm going to see my Mum." She answered. The old lady nodded and was about to say more, but seeing Tia's hurt face she decided to withdraw. The bus soon reached Tia's stop, she said a mumbled goodbye to the old lady and walked off the bus. She marched up to the hospital entrance, surveying the people waiting to be seen. The receptionist looked Tia over "What are you in for love?" she enquired. "I want to see my Mum, her name is Tillie Farnham, is that ok?" Tia replied quietly. The receptionist shook her head after scanning her computer. "I'm sorry but visiting hours are over now."

"But, I just want to speak to her." Tia objected. The receptionist shook her head, "I'm sorry love, but rules are rules. I have heard that your Mum is doing somewhat better." She said comfortingly. Tia headed home, cross and frustrated, praying things would get better.

Tia couldn't get to sleep that night, she was full of questions. If God loved her, and cared for her. Why would he let her mum have lung cancer, what good was that? And if he tried to help her, and show her the right path to take in life, why wasn't he letting her or any other students opinions for that matter, get across to the government, why did she have to pay £5000, just to take a course in university? And why did she have such a hurtful brother?

Tia soon got home, she ignored her brother and ran up the stairs. She slipped under her duvet and sighed. Why was life so hard? Why did she have to go through such pain. Trust in me. She felt God's voice hit her body in a rush. Tia felt at peace, she would trust in the Lord to get her through this. She soon slipped off to sleep.

Chapter Ten

Tia had decided she wanted to go and spend a week with her Nan, while Riles and Cheryl got to spend time with Zak, just the three of them. To keep some peace. Nan did not live far away, but Tia didn't visit her regularly, in fact she hardly saw her at all, but Riles knew her quite well and thought it would be good for Tia to see and spend time with her for a while, after Tia agreed to the arrangement.

Riles drove Tia to her Nan's house, he didn't say anything, and when they got there he just nodded and then drove off. No wave. No look in the rear view mirror. Nothing to signify any love for his sister.

Nan lived in a lovely place the houses were big and not sandwiched together like Tia's house was. There was ivy creeping up the walls, and lavender all around the house, and Tia could vaguely see the back garden which was filled with all kinds of flowers- pansies, poppies, roses, tulips and more. Tia then knocked on the door and was greeted by her Nan, she had salt and pepper hair, blue twinkling eyes and a soft warm smile. "Hello it's Tia, isn't it, come in!" Tia walked into a bright hallway with many photo's and paintings pinned onto the walls, a little Westie came bouncing up to her, its black eyes excited. "Ah, now this is Zoe, my little terrier. Benjamin is in the garden, he is an old dog so he may be a little tired; he's a Dalmatian."

Tia nodded and smiled, she already felt better here. She felt loved and appreciated, she felt her existence in this household was not a waste of time and would not get her shouted at.

Nan showed Tia round the bedroom she would be staying in, it was light pink in colour and was nicely spaced out, there was a bed on one side of the room near the window and a chest of drawers and a wardrobe on the other side. Tia smiled and began unpacking her luggage, she felt content and happy here, the warm atmosphere soaked into her. She looked out the window so many thoughts twirling through her mind. She could smell Nan's toasties and she smiled.

When lunch was ready Tia and Nan both sat at the table. "Tia?" Nan asked. "If you want to tell me anything you can, but I am not forcing you too, its just, I want you to know that I am always available if you need someone to talk to." Tia nodded. Her Nan had already made a good impression, now Tia felt reassured that she was accepted. She looked around the dining room, on one of the walls was a mounted piece of embroidery, it read: For God loved the world so much that he gave his only son. God gave his son so that whoever believes in Him may not be lost but have eternal life.' John 3 v 16. Tia looked across at her Nan, was she a Christian? "Nan, I don't want to intrude or anything, but are you a Christian?" she asked shyly. Nan smiled across at Tia. "Yes, I am." Tia smiled and nodded her head, "Well so am I."

Nan chuckled. "Why I never knew." They both laughed at their sudden discovery. Then Tia began to think about Mum again. "Nan, I'm really worried about Mum." She murmured, but trying not to sound to childish. Nan nodded. "I know, When your Grandpa was ill with cancer I was forever worrying, but Jesus says to give your anxieties to him. I did and Jesus' way of solving that was by bringing your Grandpa to heaven." Tia sighed, it seemed all very well saying all this, but in reality it was a lot harder, emotions often got in the way of the truth and sometimes it didn't seem to work when you just asked God to take away your anxieties. Tia you can depend on me you can trust in me. Tia felt a reassuring voice say. Yes, she could trust in God. She still had questions though, "Nan, I feel unloved in my home, it feels like none of my family truly appreciate me." Tia mumbled.. Nan paused and looked at Tia eye to eye. "Tia, I know that your Mum loves you. When you were born she told me how much she loved you. And what a beautiful girl you would be, she loved you very much, and still does, even if she doesn't show it. Some people find it hard to express their emotions on the outside." Tia nodded, although still not satisfied. "It's not just mum though, I don't feel loved by Dad and Riles either." Nan thought for a moment, pondering her words.

"Dad and Riles, well, they both love you but your Dad just needs to spend more time with you..." Nan paused at this point and seemed to be considering something. " Why don't we invite him round on Saturday; maybe you can have some quality time with each other." Tia shrugged, she'd never had a proper conversation with her Father let alone spent time with him. "If you think it will make a difference." She shrugged. Nan nodded. "I do."

Chapter Eleven

Tia sighed and looked around her nervously. It was Saturday and her Dad was meant to be coming round for the day. She felt a bit uneasy. Not sure what to say or how to react. It was the first proper bit of social interaction she'd ever had with him really. She waited anxiously on the door step outside, Dad had said that he would come at 10:30 but it was now 10:28. She bit her lip and looked up at the bright sunny sky, she didn't feel bright and sunny. Then she saw her Dad's red mini come up the drive. She smiled anxiously, trying to not let her nerves get the better of her. Her Dad got out of the car and began to walk towards the door, Tia opened it for him and Nan greeted Dad-"Hello Sam, we haven't seen each other for a while." She showed him into the living room where Tia now was. Dad sat down on the sofa and glanced at Tia awkwardly. "Hello. So how has, er school been Tia?" he asked.

"Ok." She answered, she wanted to say more, but couldn't. Dad nodded. Her Dad opened her mouth to say more, but then closed it quickly again. Tia could see his lip quivering, then a tear trickled down his cheek. He glanced up at Tia, he looked pleadingly at her. "Tia I'm so sorry. I have been so selfish. Please forgive me." He hugged her, it was the first hug Tia had had from her Dad in years, it felt good, warm and natural. "I love you Tia." He said through tears. Tia lifted his chin, "I love you too." She made a mental note in her head. Two 'I love you's ' God was showing her how much her family did care, under their metal exterior.

Dad brushed a tear from his eye. He smiled. "I heard about Riles how he was being unfair to you. I've talked to him. Then Dad paused. "I don't know how he feels though, he's stressed and unsettled, aren't we all?" Tia nodded sadly. She and Dad had a very long talk about everyday things, but it was something Tia had not been doing for a long time. She, Dad and Nan continued talking and sharing tea and biscuits around. Tia felt happy, a warmth filled her heart.

Eventually, it was time for Dad to go home. He gave Tia a hug and said that he would re-paint her room before her arrival back home next week. Drring! The phone went as Dad was putting on his jacket. Nan went to pick it up, and slowly Tia and Dad saw her face change from relaxed to serious. She muttered a few words that they couldn't catch, then put down the receiver. Nan turned to them with a grave expression. "It's Tillie," Nan started. "She, she is on life support now..." she cried. Dads lip trembled he sat down. Tia shook her head. Why was this the constant happen good followed by bad. God please just heal her, she screamed in her head. Please. Nan phoned Riles. "He'll drop us off." She quietly told us. But no one was listening.

Tia waited impatiently for the usual growling engine of Riles car. She couldn't keep still, anxiety had a hold on her it seemed to of drove its way within her, and she couldn't help but feel incredibly nervous and worried. Soon the familiar sound that used to be a pain was a blessing, as Tia heard Riles' car come through the driveway. Zak was in his car seat, thumb in mouth and his eyes shut. His beautiful curly eye lashes were still blonde even though his hair was now a mousey brown colour.

They soon reached the hospital, all of them were anxious to see mum. The receptionist quickly told them where to go, and they reached the ward where mum was staying and soon came across to her bed. Tia felt her eyes filling as she looked down on mum; she was very thin and pale. The nurse told them that she had a breakdown not to long ago and they had to put her on Mechanical Ventilation. She was barely breathing her eyes were shut and Tia felt so devastated. She looked across at her father, he gave a smile to try and lift Tia's spirits, but Tia knew he was just as upset as she was.

After ten long minutes of silent crying, Nurse Sarah told the family that they had to go home. Tia had one last look at Mum, she kissed her cold cheek, and went slowly out of the ward. She held Nan's hand in comfort. "Nan," she whispered, "God will look after her." Nan looked at Tia with so much affection. "Oh my child, you are so blessed. God has his hand upon Mum's life, and if it is his will she will recover." Tia squeezed Nan's hand. Yes, God would. She looked at all the patients in their beds, so sorrowful, wondering when they would cease existence.

Tia prayed a silent prayer for all of them. A prayer or peace.

Chapter Twelve

Tia had gone to Molly's house for the day, before she went back home again. Tia told Molly how empty and afraid she felt, how she wished none of this could happen; and although she knew God's love and affection it didn't eradicate her deep, inner feelings. Molly gave Tia a gentle hug, "I know how you feel, when my Grandma was ill, I was always nervous, and any phone call that we got made me freeze with anxiety, but you have to give everything to the Lord. He knows everything. He already has planned out your life, and your Mums life, he knows what is going to happen, and he knows what is best." Tia thought, Molly seemed to be so knowledgeable, and wise, Tia admired her for it. She looked at her long brown hair and sapphire blue eyes with envy, wishing she could be like her. She didn't like the way she looked. Hazel eyes and short brown hair, she wasn't nearly as pretty, or as clever. I made you for a reason, she felt a voice say within her. I made you the child I wanted you to be. She didn't have to listen to the constant voices pointing out her faults for her; they were lies.

Rolo came bouncing into the room, his tongue lolling. He plodded over to Tia and gave her a big slobbery kiss on the cheek. Tia smiled and gave him a gentle kiss back. "Shall we walk Rolo?" Tia asked. Molly agreed and soon they were clipping on Rolo's lead.

Molly and Tia walked into the nearby field, there were several different dogs there of all shapes and sizes, and Rolo went bounding off to a small Maltese dog, Molly laughed, and she and Tia sat on the grass watching the dogs play. Tia turned to Molly, her facing creasing as it did before she asked a question, "Molly, what are you doing about university, you probably want an education, but I know that neither you nor me can afford it?" Molly thought for a moment, she got out a pack of polo's and handed one to Tia, they both sucked on the mint, then Molly answered, "Tia, you have to give everything to Jesus, if he wants you to go to Oxford university, you will go there, just trust in him." Tia sighed she found it so difficult to give everything to God, she'd never done that before, she'd just constantly pondered it and try to reassure herself.

Suddenly, Tia saw Riles' car stop off next to the park. Riles stepped out. "It's time to come home." He said with a smile. Tia smiled in return, she hadn't been back at her home since she had left to go to Nan. Tia gave Molly a hug goodbye and patted Rolo affectionately, before stepping into Riles' car.

Tia opened the door, the lights were off. She looked around, and gave Riles a questioning look. He laughed. "Surprise!" everyone chorused, the lights flickered on. Everyone stood round a table smiling, this would be the perfect family photo, if only mum were here. A big cake was in the centre of the table with: Welcome home Tia! Everyone was laughing and smiling, food was shared round and Zak giggled all the more. Dad had painted Tia's room and he chatted to her on his own accord. Tia now almost knew the definition of happy. She went to sleep that night with a smile on her face. She was loved.

The next day after school, Riles answered the door and gave Tia a big hug. "Tia, I love you. Sorry for not listening to you. I didn't mean it, I was just all worked up and..."

"Shhhhhhh, it's ok, I forgive you." Tia replied putting a finger to his lips. Riles nodded and gave Tia a second hug. Cheryl came up behind Riles and hugged Tia too. "Sorry." She whispered into Tia's ear. Tia smiled. She wished Mum was with her, then she would be truly happy.

The next day, after school Molly went round Tia's house they talked about different universities they were interested in, and about education in general and Molly read her Bible with Tia. Molly was about to tell Tia about a boy she liked at church, when Riles voice called up the stairs, it sounded urgent. "Tia, it's Mum." Was all he managed to say. Everyone went into panic mode, Tia prayed in her head that mum was still alive, and that it wouldn't be bad news, she forgot all about Molly, who eventually ended up in the car with Tia and her family. Molly still had her Bible in hand.

Chapter Thirteen

There was a lot of traffic, everyone was stressed and worried which resulted in some arguments- "Riles, go. Just go!" Dad shouted in frustration. Riles shook his head.

"Dad I can't go if there is a flipping car in front of me." His face creasing with annoyance. Nan hushed them.

They soon arrived at the hospital, the big white building seemed familiar now. Everyone clambered out of the car and ran to the reception. The receptionist hurried them along. The family dashed to mums ward, hoping for the best. There was a turquoise curtain around her bed. Riles drew it aside. Mum was laying in the bed, her head propped up by a single pillow, there were lots of tubes running in and out of her mouth into a big machine. Her hair was strewn across the pillow, and looked straggly, she would of hated it like that Tia thought. Her face was as white as her sheet, and her body was so cold and thin that Tia found it unbearable to look at her. "Oh Mum!" Tia cried, unable to contain the feeling of dread inside her. She sobbed and held Mum's pale hand. Nan shook her head as she listened to the nurse. "Her breathing is very uneven, the nurse said that the doctors fear she is... slowly dying." Nan faltered.

Please God. Not now. Not now. "Oh, Mum. Mum don't go. I love you, I do." Tia cried, talking to someone who couldn't even see her, but maybe it was a good thing that mum couldn't see all the tearful faces, would that encourage her to carry one? And not give into this cancer? Riles gave Mum a tender kiss, and stroked her hair, a tear fell from the end of his nose, and dripped onto mums bed sheet.

Molly knelt down and prayed silently. She opened a place in her Bible and read the passage that she thought God had given her. "The Lord will give him strength when he is sick. The Lord will make him well again." It was exactly the same one Tia had read to her Mum many weeks ago. Tia gaped. Suddenly there was a loud beep, the nurse stood still. "She's not breathing." Tia shook her head in frustration. God, why are you doing this? She asked, she knelt down beside Molly and bowed her head then both the girls began to pray. The nurse stood still in amazement and bewilderment. Everyone waited, half expectant and half doubting. Please God, please. Tia prayed. Make mum better, heal her, Jesus, you can do anything, you can heal mum, you can, you can. Slowly Mum began to open her eyes and take a deep breath. She turned to Tia and Molly. "I'm alright." She whispered.

The nurse gasped, amazed and without words. Mum took all the tubes out of her mouth, and slowly but not hesitantly; she got out of the bed and stood up! "You, you were dead?!" The nurse said, she nearly fainted. Mum smiled, God's spirit shone through her being, lighting up every aspect of her. Suddenly two white-coated doctors rushed into the room. "Get back down Mrs. Farnham please." They shouted, flustered. Mum shook her head. The doctor looked very puzzled and bewildered, he could find no logic in these events, how as this possible? Mum began to walk, she reached out for Tia's hand, Tia took it. "Oh Mum." Tia laughed. Mum kissed Tia and they hugged each other tight. The doctors looked very confused. "Look you shouldn't be walking. Get in bed please. This isn't good for your body. I mean you're weren't breathing." The doctor pleaded. Mum shook her head defiantly. "Do I look ill to you doctor. Jesus healed me." Mum replied. Tia gasped, what had she just said.

The doctor shook his head. "At least let me take a scan to see if the cancer still remains." The doctor said. Mum relented to this. The doctor took Mum to the special scanning room. Mum was in there for about five minutes, then the doctor came out. A frown on his brow. "I don't understand, it can't be. The cancers gone." The doctor said. Everyone jumped for joy. "We're taking her home." Nan told the doctor. But the doctor did not hear, he was frowning at the results and scratching his head.

Mum received lots of and attention when they got home, and she didn't hesitate to give lots back. She was still a bit weak, so she had to stay in bed and rest. Every day Tia read Mum a bit of her Bible, and everyday Mum began to learn more and more about Jesus, and his love and what it meant to be a Christian. Mum promised that when she was well Tia and her would go to Derrick Brown church. Tia agreed to this happily. She felt happier than she ever had before.

Chapter Fourteen

Slowly Mum was progressing, she still needed lots of rest but she was able to move around more. And other things were happening too. Riles and Cheryl were getting married. Tia was happy for them, she now felt entirely happy. She thanked God for his continuous love.

On Thursday evening it came to be that Tia and Mum were on their own. Tia gave Mum a kiss and a hug. "Mum, how did you give your life to Jesus?" she asked. Mum chuckled. She stroked Tia's cheek and then replied, "Tia, when I was very ill, you know when I was unconscious on life support?," Tia nodded remembering Mum's thin, pale face. "Well, it's difficult to explain, a man came to my hospital bed, he picked me up and took me very high into the sky, then he dropped me and I was alone, it was pitch black and I could hear sounds, evil sounds, I could not see anything though. I realised this was hell, I could smell the sin, I could taste. I realised this man who had took me from the hospital bed was symbolizing earthly things, you can only go so far with these things that appear to help and comfort us on earth; then they just 'drop' you. But while I was in the darkness I prayed, my first prayer, and a hand came down and lifted me into a place of dazzling splendour and light. I told the Lord that I wanted him to be ruler of my life, and, well you see...He asked me if I wanted to stay with him forever, or go down to earth. I chose to go back to you." Mum smiled at Tia. Tia nodded, she felt honoured and blessed to hear her mum talk in that way. Thank you Jesus, she thought.

Soon Mum was well enough to go out so long as she was in a wheel chair, Tia and Mum began going to Derrick Brown church for the Sunday services, it was only a short walk and Tia didn't mind pushing Mum's wheelchair so long as they were together. Everybody at the church was friendly and inviting they wished Mum better and she even got prayed for by the minister. It was at these Church services that Tia came across some of the familiar faces from the Youth Club she had used to attend before Mum came down with lung cancer, one of the ones she recognised was a boy named Harvey, also Molly and Molly's brother and sister were there. Tia liked church, she felt comfortable and at home, like she was with another family. She enjoyed the sermons, and the talks with members of the church. At the end of the service Harvey went over to Tia to welcome her. "Hi, I remember you. It's good seeing a familiar face once in a while. So, how's your Mum?" he asked Tia. Tia smiled. "She's ok, thanks for asking. She's well on the way to recovery, all by God's grace. How's your Mum and Dad?" Tia asked. Harvey seemed to be put off by this question. "Oh, well I only live with my Mum... my Dad left, he left two years ago, I haven't seen him since." Tia nodded, and smiled at Harvey sympathetically. Harvey looked at Tia questionably. "So, is your Dad here?" he asked her. Tia shook her head with a sigh. "No, he's not a Christian. My brother Riles isn't a Christian either." Tia replied. Harvey nodded. Suddenly Tia felt God almost open her mouth and his words came gushing out of her blessing Harvey, the words were not English, they were God's language. Tia hugged Harvey for a few seconds. "God will always love you." She whispered as he cried on her shoulder, overwhelmed. "Thank you." He said as he brushed away a tear.

After the service Tia reflected on everything that had happened. She began to realise just how much she needed God, but how God could quite easily do without her, but, He loved her so much he was willing to give his only son for her. He cared for her. He wanted her. And Tia wanted him. I love you Jesus.

Chapter Fifteen

A while ago, Riles had proposed to Cheryl, asking her to marry him, and she had accepted. It was now three days before the big day itself, and Tia was bursting with excitement. She felt great happiness towards her brother, and the responsibility he was taking on. Tia was to be one of the eight bridesmaids. She was wearing a pink satin dress with white lace around the edges, pink heels, and her hair was going to be done in a bun tied by a pink ribbon. Nan had made the cake, it was white and it had three layers there was a figurine of Riles on one layer and Cheryl on the second layer and Zak on the third layer. Tia admired it, she had made raspberry pavalova, she knew that it was Riles' favourite pudding, and it fit into the pink theme.

There was lots of preparing, Mum helped with what she could, she pinned pink ribbons on every chair in the church, which was where the wedding would be held.

Cheryl researched different hairstyles for the big day, but eventually decided on having it loose upon her shoulders. Tia helped with all she could, and choose a suit for Zak. She helped to 'dress' the church hall as well, with pink flowers and ribbons and a pink dove pinned neatly in the centre of a cream wall.

The day of the wedding soon arrived, Riles was wearing a black suit with a white shirt, smart black shoes and a pink tie. Cheryl was wearing a white dress with lots of lace around the edges and creases cascading down the skirt, the veil was delicate and pretty, she looked lovely. Zak was sitting on Mums lap, he was giggling and chuckling, and wearing a miniature version of Riles' suit; Zak was ten months now and was quite big, with masses of fair curly hair.

The service was good Riles and Cheryl seemed happy and looked as though they truly loved each other but Tia felt a pang as they said their vows, did they really mean what they were agreeing to? So many people said these vows with hearts full of dreams of a happy, perfect marriage, but it was the same couples who ended up signing the divorce papers. Tia prayed that neither Riles nor Cheryl would ever have to choose to sign the divorce papers.

After the wedding was the reception party, which took place at a rented hall nearby. There was plenty of delicious food, and Tia had a good meal, but she felt a little out of place she did not know any of the other teenagers and she had no one to talk too. Nan seemed to notice Tia's lonely expression and went over to sit next to her. "You ok?" she asked. Tia nodded. Nan smiled. "Are you happy they have got married?" Nan asked.

"Yes, yes I am, I am pleased they have made this decision, but I am worried, I don't want them to be signing divorce papers in a few years time. I want it to be serious." Tia stated. Nan took a slice of cheesecake and nodded.

"Yes, so do I, we will juts have to pray wont we." Nan replied. Tia smiled and took a bite out of her chocolate gateau.

It was a week after the wedding Tia was with Mum and Dad at Riles and Cheryl's new house. They had bought the house before the wedding and decided that as their honeymoon they would move in after they were married. Tia was busy helping Cheryl unpack some of the boxes. She noticed as she was unpacking a box of china, that Cheryl's belly seemed to be protruding more than it usually did. Tia frowned. "Err, Cheryl are, are you expecting?" Tia asked. Cheryl smiled.

"Well at least someone's noticed, you and Riles are the only people that know. Yes, this one is just three months." Cheryl remarked. Tia nodded, realising that, that meant that Cheryl had conceived before she was married, hadn't she paid any attention to what Tia had said when Cheryl was pregnant with Zak. "So you conceived before the married then?" Tia asked knowing the answer. Cheryl nodded. "Yes, in fact as soon as I knew that I was pregnant was when Riles proposed." She stroked her belly tenderly. Tia frowned, she was about to say that she was disappointed, but realised that the cords of her relationship with Cheryl were already frayed, she didn't want to do any further damage.

Chapter Sixteen

Riles and Cheryl were moved in after two months of hard work. The house was modern and seemed to suit the couple well, there was a room dedicated to Zak and the 'bump' as it soon became known. Zak's bedroom was light blue in colour and Riles had bought some car stickers and dotted them around Zak's wall. Overall the house was very warm and inviting.

Almost everyone knew that Cheryl was pregnant again. Riles became more and more agitated with other men around Cheryl, when a man fox-whistled at Cheryl, Riles threatened to punch him, but he didn't. Tia could see that Riles was paranoid and one day when she was round his house, in the kitchen she decided to chat to him. "Are you ok Riles?" she asked. Riles looked at Tia, he slammed down his coffee on the table. "NO!" he barked. "No." he said again softer this time, before dissolving into tears. "Oh, Tia, I, I'm just so worried 'bout Cheryl." He cried, trying to choke back the tears. Tia felt for him.

"It's ok, I understand, you have so much responsibility now, her being pregnant and all." Riles nodded, but his crying seemed to become louder. "And, Tia, I've treated you so wrong. I, I make a hopeless brother, Tia, when you've needed me, I've never been there. I know how much I must of hurt you, and how insignificant I've made you feel. Sometimes, I tried to push you out of my life, Tia. And that was wrong, I know it was. Tia, I'm sorry. Please forgive me." He sobbed, holding Tia's hands. Tia hugged Riles; "I do." Then, she drew her bible from out of her pocket. She placed it in his hands. "Have faith." She whispered, and then left the room to go home.

The next day when Tia woke up there was a note on her bed, it read as follows-

Dear Tia,
I decided to pop round to give this to you. Thank you for what you said to me yesterday. Thanks for your Bible as well, I understand that you wanted me to read it, well, I did but I am afraid I don't understand it. And about faith well you have more of that than I do; you have kept persisting with me. Your faith has no limit. I put your Bible on your dressing table. I hope that I will see you soon.

Tia smiled, folded the letter and put it under her pillow. She saw her Bible lying on the dressing table. She was glad that Riles had appreciated what she had said. Even if he hadn't read it, at least he had picked it up, and wrote Tia a note, he would of never have done that before. Tia smiled, as she thought of all that had happened within the last year, how her life had changed so much. She turned to look in her notebook. She saw the word UNIVERSITY, at the top of the page. Tia sighed, that was still another headache for her. She wanted to go to university, but wasn't sure if she could. She flopped her head back on her pillow and sighed. She prayed that God would provide her. Tia yawned, she remembered just how awesome God was and is. She knew that with him anything would be possible, and that he would give her an education if she asked the door would be opened. Tia smiled, she remembered a verse she had been reading from her bible, Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Matthew 7 verses 7-8.

Chapter Seventeen

Tia crossed of another day from her calendar. Three more days! She thought to herself, three more days until she was eighteen! Tia had asked her mum for a puppy, another Staffie, to be there for Tia when Honey wasn't. Her Mum had previously told Tia that a dog was expensive and hard work, but Tia still had hope. She had another thing she desperately wanted as well, an education. Something her parents could in no way, shape or form afford. Tia sighed as she stared out at the gloomy blue sky, watching the trees sway in the wind, and the old lady walking her dog. Please Jesus. If anything, please let me go to university. Honey tottered over to Tia, rubbing at her knee, looking up with the chocolate brown eyes Tia had always loved; waiting patiently for her mistress to give her a stroke. Tia smiled, "I wonder what its like to be a dog." She thought aloud. "Dogs have the easy life, they only have to follow. Follow there master, us humans, we have to do both. A leader and a follower." Tia petted Honey some more, and slowly dozed off to sleep.

It was Saturday. The day Tia had been waiting for, she got out of bed and ran down stairs. Mum, Dad, Riles, Cheryl, Nan and Zak were down stairs waiting for Tia, all in their pyjamas, smiling and yawning at the same time. Nan had a cake with 18 printed on it and Zak had a party hat on. They were all standing in front of something, Tia couldn't make out what it was, a box of some sort. She grinned, they had a special surprise for her, she knew it. "Happy Birthday Tia!" they all chorused together; and then they parted to reveal the box, and out of the box came the little body of a- puppy! Tia did not know what to say, so she hugged them all. Delight filled her body, like hot chocolate filling a mug. "Thank you." She whispered. She picked up the puppy; it was a soft brown colour, with dark chocolate brown eyes. It was so small. It was a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. The puppy nuzzled Tia affectionately. Tia smiled, fondling the little body, it was so gorgeous, Tia loved this little being straight away. A little creature to love, one, she thought, was God's best creations.

The puppy was a he. Beau, was it's name. Tia loved Beau whole heartedly, all the equipment she needed for him was provided for her in presents. Tia was grateful to everyone, she had what she'd really wanted, the anxiousness over the university fees was gone momentarily, and only love and gratitude filled Tia's heart. Tia called up Molly, eager to share her news. "Guess what?" Tia asked.

"Wait a second, happy birthday you. What did you get?"

"That's what I was going to tell you, I got a puppy!"

"Awww, what's its name?" Molly replied, happy for Tia.

"Beau, he's a staff, just like Honey, only cuter!"

"Beau, lovely, Rolo should meet him sometime, they could be dog pals."

"Yep, I agree."

"Anyway have a good birthday."

"Thanks, bye."

"Bye." Tia put down the receiver, Beau pranced around trying to nibble Tia's fingers, "Oi you!" she laughed.

That night Beau slept in his basket beside Tia's bed. Tia stroked Beau before turning off the light and snuggling down into her own covers. She thanked God for giving her Beau, and thanked Him for changing Mum into a better person. She prayed for dad, Riles and Cheryl. She prayed that one day they would find Jesus as their Lord and saviour. She continued to thank God for all he had blessed her with, but there was still one issue nagging at her, like a splinter in her thumb, you tried to ignore it, but it was still there. Was God going to provide Tia with a university; she knew that maybe He had other plans for her, greater plans. Maybe there were other doors that needed to be opened in Tia's life. Maybe God had a completely different plan for Tia; maybe she wasn't listening to him. God, please show me the plan for my life if it is your will Tia thought before drifting off into a light sleep.

Chapter Eighteen

Tia woke up to Zak screaming, he had a bad cold, and Cheryl had been up all night tending to him, and dosing him up with baby calpol. Tia yawned, stretched, and then picked up Beau from his basket, she petted him and Honey before heading upstairs to get changed. Suddenly the phone rang, Tia sighed, mum was outside helping Riles start the lawnmower; Cheryl was with Zak and Dad had gone to work, so Tia had to answer it. "Hello, this is Tia speaking." Tia mumbled into the receiver.

"Hello there, is Tilly Farnham around please." Tia walked into the garden, "Mum, there's someone on the phone for you." Mum followed Tia inside. She picked up the receiver and Tia watched her as she spoke into the phone. Her face went seem to deflate as she listened, how brows furrowed, her lip quivered. "Right, thank you. Yes I will be there, yes, yes I will." Mum put down the phone softly. "Riles!" she called, "sit down, and you Tia." Mum paused. "I just had a call from Grandma, your Great-Granddad just passed away." Riles nodded slowly, Tia didn't know how to react, she hardly knew GG, as Great-Granddad was nicknamed. Mum gave a watery smile, "anyway, you probably don't know him to well, all the same, it will be sad for Grandma, loosing her father, there is a funeral to be held next Tuesday, and a session after that to sort out the will GG had written, I said we will attend both." Tia nodded and then left the room, she felt sorry for mum and Grandma, but she couldn't cry, she had only ever meant GG once, and that was a long time ago. But she felt sympathy for mum, she'd known the pain of nearly losing a parent; and she knew how close Mum had been to GG. Tia sighed, she combed her hair and brushed her teeth, before getting ready to go to school.

School was not brilliant, or maybe it was just that Tia wasn't concentrating. At the end of school, Tia's teacher reminded them all about universities, some of the students said they had already applied places in different universities, and others said they had secured a place in the university the wanted to go to. Tia kept quiet, she had done neither, she didn't even know what university she wanted to go to.

Tia got home promptly that day, she unlocked the door and breathed in the nice smoke-free air of her house. The whole atmosphere was different, she liked it. Mum had gone shopping for a dress to wear to the funeral, so Tia was on her own for a while. It was just like mum, always wanted a new dress for different occasions, Tia just used one she already had. She searched her wardrobe for a black dress, she scavenged around for a bit and then found a nice, black cotton dress, it would do, even though it was a tad to tight around the waist. Some neat black ballet pumps completed the picture.

Mum came back at five with a lovely black dress, it had black lace around the bodice and black sequins scattered over the skirt, she'd also brought some black jewellery. Tia smiled and applauded mum as she gave a twirl in her new attire.

Tuesday. The day of the funeral. The family got into the car, Cheryl was staying at home with Zak. Tia stared out the window dreamily. "How old was GG?" she asked to no one in particular. "He was 98." Mum replied. Dad reared up at the church where the service was to be held. Everyone was very quiet and solemn. Tia understood the mournful faces, but in her heart she was happy, GG was going to a better place now. She felt awkward, she only knew Grandma and her own family out of all the people who had attended the funeral. Tia watched as her Grandma greeted them, she tried to keep a brave face but her eyes were filled with tears. She was probably remembering all the good times her and her father had had together. Tia held Grandma's hand in her own and smiled at her, Grandma smiled back.

The funeral was over, Tia was lounging on the sofa, stroking Beau, and Zak was crouched under the coffee table colouring a dot to dot picture and muttering to himself, Tia bent down to his level and tickled him, he laughed and chuckled happily. Tia smiled at him, Cheryl was now seven months pregnant with their second child, she wondered how she was. Tia twirled her hair round her index finger, she wanted children one day. To hear the little pitter patter of feet, and know the child who's feet they belonged to, were her own. Zak interrupted her daydream by throwing a pencil at her. "Oi you!" Tia laughed, she lay down and laughed. Beau sat next to her and licked her all over. "I love you." She whispered, "I love you all."

Chapter Nineteen

Tia was round at Grandma's house, that was where the will was read out to the relatives. There weren't lots of people there, Grandma's sister was there, and mums brother with his wife and children. That was about it. GG had been very wealthy, and the relatives crowded round Grandma as she read the will. "Dear all, as you are reading this, you are probably sad and unhappy at my passing away. I love you all dearly, now at least I am joining my wife..." After this many different names were called out and then any money and possessions GG was leaving them, " Tillie and her family I leave £12000 along with the books from my upstairs bookcase my penknife and my log book. Thank you Tillie for loving me and caring for me..." Tia stared round at her mum gaping. £12000 was enough to get her into university, and there would still be loads left over.

Tia was at home now, debating with her family what to do with the money. "Dad, Mum, please can I just use £9000 of it, that would get me into university and..."

"No Tia, that's not fair, me and Cheryl could buy so much with that. You can go to university another time. We've got a baby coming in a few months." Tia huffed, mum went out the room and a few minutes later came back in with some paper, scissors and a pen. "Right , let me write down all the things GG left us. Penknife. Books from bookcase. Log book. £1200. " She wrote down each of these on a part of the paper, cut them out and folded them. She held them in her hand. "Now, you all take a piece of paper, and what is on there is what you get. We could all use the money, I agree, but we don't all need it. Dads getting an increase in his salary which will help us all out." Each member of the family took a folded piece of paper, hoping hard it had numbers written on it. Tia unfolded hers. The ominous numbers stood out before her: £1200. She smiled as she watched the others unfold their pieces of paper. "A penknife!" Riles exclaimed. "Why do I want a penknife?!" Mum assured Riles that they were very useful. Dad unfolded his, "Logbook, well, it certainly will be interesting." Mum then unfolded hers, all eyes were on her. Was it mum or Tia who had the money? "Right, I'll be doing a lot of reading." Mum hinted. Riles gasped and stared at Tia. "You have the money!" Tia nodded, excited.

Tia was up in her bed, on the internet. She had applied for a university now, one she felt God had called her to. Now searching for different charities to donate the spare money she had too. "Hmm..." she muttered to herself, searching the web intently. Finally she came across an interesting page. Tear fund. She looked into it, she read what was happening, her heart was full of compassion for the poor people out there, she clicked the donate button. As Tia continued to search, she found more and more sites, and donated to them all, her heart was so full of love to the people out there who suffered more than she could comprehend, she wanted them to feel loved.

Finally, she came to her last thousand pounds. She decided to save that, and split it in half, half for her at university and half for Riles and Cheryl, mum and dad didn't really need any as dad was getting a raise. Tia smiled, she was pleased, happy and fulfilled. No longer was there anything bothering her.

It had been a week since Tia had received the money, she had now secured a place in university, and was excited about what she was going to do there. It was another chapter of her life waiting to be written. Molly and Tia were walking their dogs, Molly was dressed in a light blue sweater and jeans, Tia was wearing black corduroys and a green hoodie. "Tia, do you believe me now, do you believe me that God wont give up on you?" Tia didn't even have to consider. "Yes, I believe you now." Molly smiled.

"And do you believe me that he always provides." Tia laughed and gave Molly a playful poke, "Are you testing me now? Yes I believe that too. I believe everything you've told me." Molly laughed and nodded. "Good." She smiled at Tia, then said, "you're amazing Tia, your personality and look on life, its amazing, your amazing. And Gods amazing for making you just the way you are. I can guarantee that there is no one out there, in this world, who is like you. You are so unique, and that's one reason why I like you so much." Molly hugged Tia tight, Tia loved Molly. She was the definition of a best friend. "Thanks Molly. Your fantastic too. Heaven sent."

"Or maybe God just wanted us to be friends. That's why he made each of us maybe, so we could benefit from each other's company." Tia agreed, and the girls walked home, closer to each other and God than they had been before.

Chapter Twenty

It was a breezy, sunny April afternoon. Tia was dozing in a deckchair, Beau and Honey were sitting either side of her, as if they were her body guards. Tia laughed in amusement. She was texting Molly, would you like to cum rnd my house? x Tia smiled, of course.

Soon Tia was on the path to Molly's house, she had decided to take Beau along as well; she smiled as the cool April wind blew around her, the blossoms of trees were scattered around the place, making the roads and paths look colourful and delicate. Tia smiled as she saw some squirrels scampering up an oak tree, it looked as though they were fighting over a nut. Eventually, Tia came to Molly's house. She knocked on the door and Molly answered it. "Come in." she said, but she did not say as enthusiastically as she usually did, in fact, she looked a little downcast. Molly smiled as she watched Beau and Rolo play in the garden. She stared across at Tia, her eyes seemed sad and yet something happy seemed to be in her gaze as well. "Tia." She said.


"I have something to tell you."

"What?" Tia's eyes searched for an explanation in Molly's strange behaviour.

"Well, you know that my Mum and Dad are missionaries, well, well... "Tia nodded, she saw a tear trickle down her Molly's cheek. "I'm leaving. To Australia. In two weeks time." Molly wiped the tears from her face with the back of her hand. Rolo padded up to Molly affectionately and nuzzled her comfortingly, Tia did not know what to say. She only managed to gulp- "Oh Molly," Molly embraced her friend. Tia was confused. Wasn't it only a few weeks ago they had been like best friends, really close for the first time? God, why take her away from me now, I still need her. Tia thought. You must listen, you must believe, you must trust my almighty plans. Tia felt the voice surge through her. But why?

"All I know is that I am leaving for definite, mum and dad have been talking about it for ages, then yesterday they told me, everything's been arranged, the flight and we have a house over there too." Tia nodded and began to cry. "I'll miss you." She said as she hugged Molly tight.

"Me too."

"It's not easy," said Molly as she stroked Rolo, "I'll be leaving my friends and my family. Everyone. Apart from God." Tia thought for a second, "God is always faithful, he never lets go of us." Molly nodded, pulling pack her hair. Then she pulled out a bible from her pocket, turning to Psalm 57 verse 6: 'God is supreme over the skies. His greatness covers the earth.' "There," Molly said, "God is with us all His greatness covers the whole earth. We still both have God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. We will never be alone. Never." Tia nodded.

"And Jesus is the best friend of all."

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