Poetry: The different minds of a writer

Following last week’s post, I decided to share a little more about my past writing – thanks to Savvy Sister and Single Malt Monkey for suggesting it.

This is the first thing I wrote that seemed to make sense. At least, my dad took it seriously. He whipped out his guitar and played a little tune to it – and then, it became a song. It is my earliest memory of him approving something I did. Looking at the poem now, it was so simple – perhaps too simple. I miss the simplicity that life had in those days.

“Jesus was my rock yesterday,

Jesus is my rock today,

Jesus will be my rock tomorrow,

He is my rock forever.”

The task mistress, age 7.

Sometimes, I am able to stand in someone else’s shoes like I did with this poem written four years ago. It’s the last poem I wrote. I think it lacks that emotional element and is rather mechanistic, perhaps because it didn’t come from “over my shoulder”. I basically sat down and said to myself, “I’m going to write a poem, damn it!”. I’ll let you judge for yourself but I think solitude had already left me at this point.

“I wish you could see me now,

The wonderful person I turned out

To be;

Even though, I don’t live the life

That you had planned for me;

And you never said how proud

You were of me,

I still dream that one day,

We will stand,

Face to face;

On an even playing ground,

And I could say the things that

I always wanted you to know;

The words that failed me;

When you left in the snow.”

The task mistress, age 29.

And there were those times when I was so overwhelmed – to the point of compulsion that I had to put myself in a room and write. Those poems hardly needed a rewrite as they were what they were – raw, honest, and with a tinge of prophecy…

“The complexity of the mind has continued to fascinate the humble and small.
A wave of emotion brings to an end pain of old, no matter how tall.
Great and mighty one, keep this wind from swallowing me up.
I want to think with my head but now I can’t stop.
They say the storm has calmed but I am frightened to come out and play.
My heart grows daily. It has increased even in my shell.
The peace is enormous, who can I tell?
These are the things that are bigger than me.

The rooms get smaller when it’s just she and he.
Have the doves told my secrets too soon?
May life bring to us what we hunger and need.
Each sows and gathers a multitude of seed.
So the sun will be bright and the harvest will come.
The fruits are plentiful and my heart finds a home.
These are the things that are bigger than me.

I’ll tell you a tale of her instant redemption.
The mountain was high but she ventured to try.
Her feet had almost slipped, her faith had nearly stumbled.
Then, white were the garments He wore –
Luminous, blinding her thoughts.
Up on the peak was His face.
The harvest had indeed brought with it grace.
Many will gather to see this day go by.
All that is in my heart He knows. Why?
Some struggle to escape this fate.
Some succeed but others do not.

I’ll tell you a tale of her instant redemption.
The story that is told from here for her generation.
Of a man without a face and a mountain that touched the sky,
Of the time she swore she’d never cry and,
On her knees prayed that she could fly,
Of a love grown so deep and a river with no real source;
Of the music she heard from across the room and,
The way she would hum the tune for seasons to come.
These are the things that are bigger than me.

For the very reasons we build walls instead of bridges,
From the harvest fields to the mountain tops,
Grace and peace this tree will yield.
For these were the things that were bigger than me but my heart did grow and find a home,
Now she waits for rain and what dreams may come…”

‘Bigger than me’ (Unedited version); The task mistress; age 19

What I did in the middle of the night (think clean thoughts)!

Remember the Te Amo jumpers? I’d thought I had till July to finish it but it was actually due in June!! I was only half way through the back of the jumper, the front was complete and I hadn’t touched the sleeves. I had a night of grace so I stayed up till 4am to complete my labour of love.

I must apologise for the poor quality of the photos. It was taken with an iPhone (not known for its picture quality) at 4 am in the morning (I’m not a morning person at all). Now let me walk you through what I did after knitting till my fingers went numb.

First, I joined the shoulders and the edge of the sleeves:

I joined the bottom of the sleeves together and then the sides.

After it was all joined up, I admired my jumper in all its glory – moved to tears by the thought of a homeless Peruvian boy wearing it with pride.

 Finally, it was time to catch the 3 hours of sleep I had left so I folded the jumper, ready to send it in the post to Peru :).

What a privilege to be able to give in this way.

Arguably the right side of 30

Today is my 32nd birthday.

This may be the best side of 30. I’m reflecting on things I used to believe, those things I’ve changed my mind about. I’m excited to be alive but as I look at all the horrible events in the world, I feel a deep sense of sadness, and gratitude for all the blessings that I can smile about. I used to want to change the world. Seriously. I fantasized about making a difference in a conflict-stricken world. But:

  1. I know now that I can’t change anything. I can only make a very slight difference in my tiny square of the world. I’ve discovered that I’m not perfect – my most traumatic discovery to date. It also emerged that I can’t make people do things (Believe me I’ve tried). Very rarely, I change their minds but overall people make strange decisions and are shockingly irrational, most of which has remained unexplained. This brings me to my next realization on this side of 30;
  2. I’ve finally come around to the idea of not knowing. I’ve thrived on getting to the bottom of everything. I wanted to know why that friendship broke down or why that illness killed one friend and not another. Or why some prayers are answered and others seemed to be in limbo. There are many mysteries in this life but I’m now convinced that knowing everything about everything is a definite health hazard.

This is me plain and simple and somehow, aging doesn't feel so bad...

I hope the coming years lead to more discoveries. In the grand scheme of things, I’ve lived about a third of my life so it’ll pay me to be equipped for the rest of my life in order to conquer what’s in store. I don’t want to question and doubt who I am like I have in the past. I’m blessed with an extremely supportive network of family and friends. I thank them for letting me be myself all these years while still encouraging me to grow. I thank my readers who by simply showing up have affirmed my position that I may have one or two interesting things to say. God bless you all.

“Te Amo” means I love you- Giving warmth to the children of Peru (Part 2)

“I interviewed Alison Mcquillin a week ago. The first part of the interview describes how Te Amo came to be. The second part below describes what her vision is for the International outreach. Although Alison is clearly modest in her aspirations, it is glaring that Te Amo is a tremendous blessing and that the effect of that blessing will remain for generations to come….”

—-INTERVIEW Cont’d—-

Kemi. What does it feel like to be able to provide this gift to those kids?

Alison. Providing the simple gift of a jumper stirs up so many feelings! It breaks my heart that children suffer in this way, but it also fires and slightly angers me that this is the case. Honestly, I wish that there was more that I could do, I just want to give each of them the biggest hug and tell them that it’ll all be ok.  But the thought of them wearing the little jumpers gives me peace that these vulnerable children will experience love.

Kemi. How long has Te Amo existed? Where do you see Te Amo going in the next few years?

Alison. Project Te Amo has only been going since February but I hope that it will continue as a form of outreach at City Church. We hope to expand to other parts of Peru, for example the mountain children in Cusco as well as other countries in South America. Next stop, the World!

Kemi. How can folks get involved? Do they need any special skills?

Alison. Anyone can get involved from novice knitters to those who could do it standing on their heads with their eyes closed! Any willing volunteers can get in touch with myself, Kathleen or James Gregory. Kathleen or myself will set you up with a very simple pattern as well as wool and needles if you need. We have just been donated a whole load of wool and need more keen knitters to pick up those needles! If you really can’t/won’t knit but would like to help out, we will be sending the jumpers out this summer and would be extremely grateful for donations towards postage!

Kemi. What is your one wish for those kids?

Alison. Above all else, I wish the children to be safe. Safe from having to sleep alone in dark alleys; safe from crime; safe from drug addictions; safe from fear.

Kemi. Do you believe your kindness will change their lives? How?

Alison. Almost all of the children living rough have been forced in some way or another to abandon their homes with parents, brothers and sisters and fend for themselves. Most of them have lost their childhoods by becoming glue sniffers, beggars, prostitutes…and now associate adults with pain and fear. I hope that Te Amo will remind them that there are people in the world that see them and want to show that they care. I may never know the impact that the jumpers will have on the lives of the children that will wear them, but I would like to think that they will believe the message that will be stitched to the collar of each one…te amo.



I'm halfway through the front of a jumper. Yaay!


I’m one of 15 knitters that will bless the life of a child with a beautiful jumper. I’m making space in my schedule to do this because I believe in children all over the world. I’m making progress as you can see above. Hopefully, I will get it all done by July when it gets sent off to Peru. So exciting!!

Thanks for reading about Te Amo- it is close to my heart- Muaaah! 🙂

Project Te Amo can also be found on Twitter –

@ProjTeAmo or on Facebook.

“Te Amo” means I love you- Giving warmth to the children of Peru (Part 1)

“Alison Mcquillin is a beautiful young lady at my Church in Aberdeen. I recently got to talk to her about the charity, Te Amo that she established and runs. The interview with her was emotional for her and even as I go through it, it brings me close to tears. She is an inspiration to everyone who cannot sit by and watch innocent children suffer…..”


Kemi. What is the goal of Te Amo?

Alison. Project Te Amo is an international outreach which specialises in knitting jumpers for street children in Lima, Peru. It is a practical way of reaching out to those children who never or very rarely hear the words “te amo (I love you)”.

Kemi. What gave you the idea?

Alison. I was inspired by what someone told me at a conference for Latin Link, the charity that Te Amo supports. A lady told me: “you might be the only Jesus that these people will ever meet”.

Something clicked inside of me then…about just how true that statement was and I felt as though I was to start something to help children living on the streets of Lima, Peru. 

  I would consider myself as a person who cares in a practical way, so I knew that I wanted to help out the street children by doing something that they can really benefit from.

   When I was little, my grandmother regularly knitted me and my siblings jumpers for Christmas or Birthdays. My brother, sister and I loved to receive these gifts because our granny had taken so much time and care into making each one of them to fit up exactly, we had different colours reflecting our personalities, and it was her special way of saying “I love you”. This inspired me to start-up an outreach to children who very rarely, or never hear those words, “te amo”…I love you. I like to think that Te Amo is a way of showing the street children of Lima that there are people out there that love them dearly even though they cannot see us or will perhaps never meet us. Just like Jesus.


Left to Right: Kathleen & Alison with lovely knitted jumpers, ready to be posted to Peru.

Kemi. I know you are a student, how much time are you able to commit to it? Who works with you?

Alison. As a final year student, my timetable is quite hectic! As part of the worship and youth work teams I also find myself busy during the evenings with assessment deadlines creeping up behind me…! But I have been very blessed in that I have a large support network of people helping me. Especially Kathleen from church. She really is my Wonder Woman! As a novice knitter I really am unable to advise with patterns, or needles or wool, but Kath takes charge of that part.  We have about 15 volunteers knitting for us which is amazing! Project Te Amo is certainly not a “one woman show”, I am extremely grateful for the dedication of all who are involved.

Kemi. Have you ever visited Peru? What was it like?

 Alison. I visited Peru on short-term mission with Latin Link back in 2008. This was post-earthquake and we worked near the town of Pisco, just a few hours south of the capital, Lima. I was part of a team of 10 who helped construct a mother and child centre; ran church services and children’s work. As a town planning student, I loved the building project especially learning how to build a construction which would withstand another earthquake. It was a very humbling experience because even though the people we worked with had lost family, friends and their church in the quake, they were always so thankful and joyful.

To be continued….

 Project Te Amo can also be found on Twitter –
@ProjTeAmo or on Facebook
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