when you are walking…

when you walk

I love this paraphrase, it seems to capture the activity of family life – we definitely fall into bed at the end (or often, like tonight after the end) of the day…

I can’t sleep, I’ve had the opportunity in the last couple of days to give some time to my writing and have managed to finish a book I’ve been working on & upload it onto a indie publishing site, and it’s looking almost there so I’ve ordered a proof copy – in a few days I’ll be holding a physical copy of my own book in my hands. I will of course take pictures and let you know more when it gets here.

Its no wonder I can’t sleep, that’s just too much adrenaline after a busy couple of weeks so I’m feeling the anxiety symptoms that come and go for me… better to do something to take my mind off them I’m thinking so here I am typing… if it’s ok with you I’m just going to reflect on the day thinking about that verse from Deuteronomy. What did I talk about with my family today, about faith, about God’s ways?

The day began earlier than I would like for a Saturday – nothing new, wish I could get used to that! – T up first, needing me after a nightmare (she’s getting lots again at the moment, and I’d had to go to her in the night for them too) and then discovering she was actually ready for breakfast. I prayed sleepily (briefly & in a rather muddled way) about her nightmares as I got cereal in a cup, a spoon & some fresh water for her to have in bed… then I had a chance to pray a little more when the cereal she’d described turned out to have been interpreted wrongly by Mummy and so more had to be fetched! I wish I could help her to find Jesus in the midst of her nightmares and ask for help even as she dreams… we talked the other day when we were walking home in the dark after something or other (I forget what) because she was very afraid in the dark and was ‘seeing’ monsters in every bush and gateway. I had read in the book ‘Can you hear me’ that I wrote about last time, that instead of immediately saying ‘there are no monsters here, stop being frightened’ to a child, try talking instead about how Jesus is great at getting rid of monsters… so we talked and I asked Jesus to tell monsters to go out of our path, and T kept reminding Him after that prayer all the way home. I saw a noticeable change in her level of fear as we prayed. Thankful. Need to ask for wisdom about how to show her she can do the same even in a nightmare…

After I’d got up and showered we began the tasks of the day – much housework needed (the number of parts of the house that I look at & think I can’t leave it any longer is growing!!). B & A sitting downstairs with minecraft; Andrew sermon writing for a funeral next week… I checked my e-mails and found the uploads were ready for proof reading… T still my little shadow so sat her with me & I read her the book looking for errors as I went… she was quite fidgety as always, but she loved the pictures and entered into the emotion of the girl in the story – Phoebe as she discovered some of the reasons why Good Friday is good… she was especially responsive to the picture in the part of the story which describes how things get so broken we could never mend them when we do things God asks us not to do… think she got that feeling of helpless guilt… though she didn’t put it into those words the picture clearly resonated with her…

…so to housework! I began with hall & bedrooms (no I don’t tidy them all but T just can’t tackle it alone yet and we had reached the ‘I can’t find anywhere to put my feet now, do you actually have a carpet somewhere?’ stage). I potter and tidy & hoover, T plays dolls alongside… strangely we talk about ‘lost & found’ (we found part of a toy in amongst the mess that she had been looking for, and she was playing with a fluffy rabbit who we had lost for over a week after a walk to the dentist after school, but who had been found, washed & brought home by a couple in church who had spotted it just yesterday). She remembered that there is a story about a lost coin in the Bible, so we got chatting about it and I reminded her we have also read about a lost sheep and a lost boy in the Bible too…she chatted to me about how sad she was when Angelina (the rabbit) was lost, and how great it was to have her back…  Next time we read those Bible stories I hope I remember to remind her of those feelings and help her see that God has those feelings about us too.

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a sneaky preview from a different book I am working on

When B & A were up and dressed I took B & T into town to the library, market and of course the sweet shop… I loved the way B helped T get there on her scooter (she seems to get so very tired and achy legged when we walk anywhere, even when she scoots – and then everything gets so very whingy) which is why I took a sneaky picture. It’s lovely when they look out for each other like that. Just next to the library there is usually an Eastern European (I think) woman selling the Big Issue. Today she saw me coming (we have chatted a few times now) and pulled me in for a hug and a kiss on the cheeks which was unexpectedly lovely. She has not met the kids before so she wanted to talk to each of them and she told us a bit about her kids. We promised to come back after the sweet shop when we had change. As we walked on B whispered to me that she’d heard some people walk past saying things like ‘move this side, no don’t go & buy one’… B felt discouraged I think that the woman might have people trying to walk past her without even a smile (or worse) for the rest of the day… we wondered together how many might but also how many would gladly go & buy from her and say hello. Was able to talk about how the Big Issue is a magazine sold by people without homes, often like the woman we met today (must ask her name next time I see her!!!) supporting families. Selling the magazine helps them to help themselves towards a more secure job, and then more secure housing hopefully…I go on praying that Andrew & I can show the kids by our embrace of others how God feels about every single person…not always easy… but its my prayer…

After lunch, dishwasher, and another washing machine load Andrew took B out to practice putting up a tent with her friends who are doing the Duke of Edinburgh bronze award with her… so I persuaded T & A into the garden – its been a really glorious day here, mild, blue sky & some sunshine on the daffodils… we brought the guinea pigs out into their run, did some garden tidying, played frisbe together, they went on the trampoline (till that got difficult), we filled the incinerator bin … T found a ladybird – named it Phoebe, found a pot for it & some leaves – wants to keep it as a pet! Inevitable… A talked to me while I sorted the twigs and cuttings needing to go in the bin, talked with excitement about minecraft and what he was creating in his world… but looking back I didn’t lead that into even a passing comment on how excited God gets about His creation, missed opportunity??…

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Then everyone back, and getting tired. T began to get nervous about a party she is going to so TV went on while I went to think about getting tea… couldn’t think what to cook at all tonight, I run out of emotional steam very fast when I think about cooking for everyone sometimes…

After tea I took T to bed, dozed off waiting for her to go to sleep. Hate it when that happens, I feel disoriented when I wake up!  Went to get A & B, put the kettle on for hot water bottles and drinks. Then prayers with A (really want to find another way of bringing the Bible in at bedtime with A – he listens to a Bible reading & prayers with Andrew in the mornings but I’m aware that prayers at bedtime are very brief with him at the moment…will have to have another look for resources… do you know of any? do comment & let me know!), then bedtime for B. We read the lent verse next in the book and chatted about it while she went through her routine of getting ready to settle to sleep.

My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9) (NLT)

We pondered what we could draw as a colouring page for that verse, maybe someone weight lifting but with help? something very small achieving the impossible because of help? We talked about how I knew the verse but from the NIV, and whether the two ways of wording it meant the same…

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  (2 Cor 12:9) (NIV)

Think I might draw feathers (If I can!!) – they are so delicate, so fragile in some ways, but dance in the wind, can take a bird half way around the world buoyed up by the air currants – think they speak to me of God’s powerful Spirit at work under-girding and around my human fragility, working something that can achieve, endure and working something beautiful and unexpected through and in us…I’ll begin it in a gap tomorrow hopefully – its been a lot harder to find the sitting still space to do them now we are back into term time…

Once B was asleep I got ready & into bed… but just couldn’t sleep… watched a programme about the refugee crisis I’ve been wanting to watch before it comes off iplayer. I’m sure it wasn’t the best time for me to watch (& worry, & wonder what else I can do, and feel teary, and pray) but glad I’ve managed to – just don’t want to forget the reality of it – the reality people are living with right now, not that far from my world here though they may as well be in another world their reality is so very different from life here…

Made another cup of tea, still feeling pretty rough & unable to relax in any way – sat here to write…

…and now? … yep not feeling quite so overwhelmed by anxiety symptoms… might go & see if I can sleep for a little bit before it’s another day, with new opportunities to remember and recognise His loving presence and to talk of His ways…

 

 

 

Can you hear me?

Andrew is away for a few days at the moment, at a New Wine Leader’s conference, I’m really praying he is fed, refreshed, renewed in his sense of purpose & calling. Part of me is a bit envious, it can be too easy to get so busy with the ‘doing’ bit of our calling that unless we ‘go away’ – be intentional – about listening, we can fall into the pattern of hearing the voices of a diary, or other’s opinions, or our own doubts and limitations first before listening out for the most precious voice who speaks into our everyday.

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Meanwhile I’m at home! And yes it has meant juggling a few extras (but Andrew the chickens are fine!! They have not been forgotten), and B & A have had to be a little more independent than usual & walk to school without us; and as always seems to happen it is a week with a few extra meetings & a bit more prep than usual to do – some visits to tutor groups at secondary school to lead their reflections, I’ve been given the privilege of speaking at our Women’s world day of prayer service tommorrow, and it’s all age Mother’s Day service on Sunday which I’m bringing together & leading with Andrew. So I have been trying to listen…

…and isn’t that such a bundled mixture of doubt, moments of truth and faith, failure and frustration, precious phrases that come to entwine us and weave His presence into our thoughts and struggles and mundane business! His precious words gently tugging us, winning us, wooing us back into his presence even as we struggle to switch off to all the other voices within and without calling us to give our full attention elsewhere…

Children, can you hear me?

Of course you can!

Just call on me, and I will answer you.

(‘Children can you hear me’. Brad Jersak)

 The theme for the service tommorrow is ‘Receive children. Receive me’;

The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: “Don’t push these children away. Don’t ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them. (Mk 10:13-16 The MSG)

so I have been reflecting again on just how Jesus values the innate spirituality in each of us, regardless of age or social standing, we are made for relationship with the living God, and he calls out to each of us ‘children, can you hear me?’. Children weren’t valued, they weren’t even counted (literally – a head count meant ‘men’ were counted, not women or servants or children) so Jesus, crouching down to look the little ones in the eye and gently draw them into the centre of what he was doing & what he was about must have shocked many that day.

He put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, he said, “Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me—God who sent me.” (Mk 9:37 The MSG)

I have been, off and on, continuing to explore the book by Brad Jersak ‘Children can you hear me?’. This week T chose it again for one of the bedtime stories and we have reached a page about meeting Jesus in the Bible stories, allowing ourselves to imagine the story & step in ourselves. Once we imagine ourselves in the story the invitation is to look for Jesus, What is he doing? What is he saying? Do I want to speak to him?

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So we had a go, she is getting used to the pattern of the book now and it’s invitations, she repeats as if to herself every time a phrase he introduces at the very beginning about hearing and seeing with our heart’s eyes and ears, then she closes her eyes and joins in. She described to me the story of the storm on the lake and disciples in the boat, how Jesus like a ghost walked out towards them on the water and they were scared.

‘where are you T, are you in the boat too?’

‘I am but I’m going to jump out like the disciple who wanted to run to Jesus’

‘can you do it? can you get to Jesus?’

‘the waves are cold and big mummy, the disciple is sinking, I think I will be sinking too’

‘what is Jesus doing?’

‘its ok mummy he is holding on tight to me, I won’t sink’

‘what does that feel like?’

‘um…strong, … and silky…’

I love how the encounter in prayer left T looking for words… (and I love the ones she chose!)…we lose that a bit as we get older and somehow translate our experience of his presence immediately into phrases and words we have learnt are appropriate. Children, often especially mine I feel, say it how it is as they encounter it – and I learn so much from them, goodness my faith needs their insight!

I went from that moment with T in God’s presence, pondering. ‘strong & silky’. Tender. True. Trustworthy. Eyes full of love and compassion attentive and ready to rescue.

‘strong & silky’ are words that have entwined me in my busyness this week since that shared prayer time with T. They have spoken tenderness and care into my heart… they have reminded me of words of a song which speaks of the depth of the love of God for us and my need for those moments of true listening wrapped in His presence.

I need to keep my heart’s eyes and ears open as I pray and serve and explore and wonder alongside my children, I need what they show me as they grow in faith, I need what they teach me as God speaks to them.

I will be finishing my talk tommorrow like this:

‘Think of Eli in the temple, his own sons gone their own way, looking after young Samuel and teaching him in the traditions and the faith. Sam woke him up – not just literally but also spiritually, reminding him of the reality of God – the expectation of God speaking to his people had long since left him but Sam was open and heard God’s voice in the night, he needed Eli to wake up and show him the way! Without Eli Sam had no context, no understanding to turn to, without Sam Eli was lost in tradition and disappointment, God brought them together and led not only them nearer to him but through them all his people.’

  • what have you learnt afresh about God this week from your children?

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Warm & cosy or barefoot & coatless

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6am – waking up this morning after a busy night with kids, cosy & warm. The alarm is waking me, but oh I don’t want to get up & start the day – especially knowing the challenge ahead, I have decided to join in #barefootcoatless with world vision, as an act of solidarity with displaced people and prayerful reflection… am hoping it will help me start lent reflecting on others, and remembering all the blessings God pours on my life…

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7:10 – hot shower time! the treat of the morning, packed lunches are made, PE kit is in the tumble dryer, haven’t managed breakfast yet (girls bit complicated getting up this morn) so am hungry, and getting a bit grumpy actually at the realisation that its going to be really cold doing the school run without a coat. Think I’m nervous. Also fretting about having to drop something off at the doctors after that too (a walk I usually think nothing of) worrying about which route will be best without shoes!?

8am – Andrew is offering to drop things at the doctors instead of me, which is a relief, but am aware of myself gearing up mentally to step outside without shoes – it goes against the grain – I’m definitely outside my comfort zone!

8:30 ish – school run with T – about 8 mins walk. I feel vulnerable, checking where I put my feet much more than usual. Constant questioning from T;

‘mummy that’s silly, you have no shoes on!’

‘why have you forgotten your shoes mummy?’ – ‘its something I’ve decided to do just today to remember refugees, and pray for them’

‘mummy you’ve got no shoes on, that’s silly, I’m going to tell Mrs H!’

‘its ok T, its just a challenge I’m doing for today …. do you know T my feet are aching because they are so cold, I’m glad its not raining too.’

‘mummy you are silly, you’ve got no shoes on!’

‘I know T, its a bit strange isn’t it, but do you know I was watching something yesterday about some big brothers like A who had given their warm coats to their baby sister while she had her afternoon nap – to keep her warm. They had to keep moving and jumping about to keep warm while she slept. It was snowing where they were – I wonder if it is snowing where they are again today?’

‘mummy, you’ve got shoes, and a coat – they are at home! you are silly mummy, you’ve got no shoes on!!’  …

9:15 – walking home, bumping into our lovely neighbour also on her way home. We get chatting and as we sometimes do on a Wednesday morning she invites me in for a cuppa. Goodness all of a sudden I am aware of my wet, grubby socks… I need to take them off before I can go in. My feet are so cold!! Really appreciate being indoors again, and the hot drink – and I’ve not been out long #barefoot&coatless, not sure I want to imagine how the cold would set in if I was out all day, and not tucked up warm at night either. The thick extra socks (I’m guessing some are going without socks too for this challenge but I’m doing what I can!) are so soggy I’m not sure how to put them on again to nip back round to my house, so I don’t. Tarmac driveways are less smooth than they look – ouch!

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11:50 – planning done, but I still feel cold. Going to put the kettle on, want to warm up a bit before my life lunch group … want my slippers! would that be against the spirit of the challenge?? um yes…

1:50 – interesting discussion during life lunch group, what are you doing this lent? what do we gain by giving things up? is it better to take something up or is that not the same? (I much prefer taking something up… Get too hung up on possible faliure when I give things up.) I think it’s simply another opportunity to refocus, as we prepare ourselves for the celebration of Easter. We all do that in different ways.

would love to know your thoughts too…

2:20 – walking down to the secondary school to lead a group, I’ve decided to change my usual route to avoid a muddy cut through – so it’s taking a little longer. Choosing the long route is taking me past the kids leaving school though, and I am feeling surprisingly self conscious without shoes! Feel almost like I shouldn’t be there, shouldn’t be seen… an uncomfortable feeling. Feel out of place, can’t imagine the feeling of being displaced – not just shoes & coat missing, but also language, sense of place, anything familiar, family, rootedness and home left behind.

2:45 -I’m arriving and choosing where to sit in the meeting. No one has commented on my feet so far, but I can’t stop thinking about how muddy and damp they must look. Still feeling out of place. Nevertheless I am leading the meeting, just finding myself wondering every now & then if my feeling out of place is visible to the group I’m sitting with.

3:45 – walking back home again, this time the short route. It’s definitely muddy, and that wet mud is cold!! There has been a lot of wind & rain here the last week or so, I’m having to step carefully around lots of bits of fallen tree branches and twigs – treading on some unaware is just reminding me that feet can hurt a lot, I’ll be more careful now.

Crossing the roads I am feeling very vulnerable, I’m not sure why, its not as if a pair of shoes is much protection from cars but it definitely feels as if I am more in danger without them. I’m wondering how vulnerable families fleeing their country must surely feel as they walk into the unknown.

4:50 – I nearly put my feet into wellies without thinking… needing to pop to the garage freezer for things for tommorrow & for tea. The ground is getting even cooler now it’s the end of the afternoon.

5:30 – Am so grateful for a kitchen, the thought that our heating will come on as needed early evening. So thankful for food and places to store it, for a cooker, for family safely round the table eating a hot meal together – for home. (yes even when the kids are cranky and grumpy because they are tired!) Grateful too for the chance to think for a minute about a Bible verse together and talk about our days.

8:50 – The dishwasher is busy, washing machine will be soon too. T is now asleep. I have just prayed with A, so just in this moment there is stillness & space. Love these moments (even when interrupted, or very fleeting) – the noise & pressure of the world seems to be put in a different perspective just for a second. And my tiny bit of it, my home, my family with God in the midst are the whole world for me in this second. It is where I am fully present right here, right now – not pulled in a hundred different directions. Amazing to think that God shares these intimate, still, heart-spaces with all who invite Him in. Personal and fully present in each of our right here, right now moments – whether warm & cosy or barefoot & coatless He longs to be in our midst. His love goes beyond my boundaries, beyond my ‘tiny whole world’ right here, even as he is fully present with me in ‘my tiny whole world’. His love meets me just where I find myself, and His love opens up my life to His whole world. All I have done today is leave my shoes and coast to one side, such an insignificant gesture – yet as always when I put myself into His hands I sense I will come away from the day changed & challenged, my love having perhaps been enlarged a little by encountering something more of His for His whole world. My compassion has been perhaps dug a little deeper than it was this morning as He has brought things to mind, to my emotions & to my cold feet!!

22:40 – B asleep too, so I’m just going to finish & post this. I’ve been so aware of the stark contrast between ‘my tiny whole world’, with its warmth, hot food, washed & dried clothes, dry comfy beds to tuck my little ones (ok, I know not so little any more!) into to get some safe sleep and the world of the #barefoot&coatless. Cold, uncomfortable, painful, vulnerable.

So I will go into day 2 of Lent asking myself what else I can do to change that huge contrast, and keep little ones like Aya in my prayers, she is only 8 & got frostbite in her feet during her long walk away from home in search of safety.

 

 

 

 

no one told me that

‘how far back does our online diary go?’, ‘when did we start using it?’, ‘I don’t know!’ – ‘well what is it you’re trying to remember?’, ‘I need dates for these assessments (showing a scribbled list) – I’ve narrowed it down to 2012, but it could be 2011??’….

When the kids were born, we had the little red books with spaces for all the milestones & vaccinations, weights & heights, no one told me I might need a set of box files kept neatly to hand in chronological order. No one told me it would be useful to hang on to letters about dates & times of appointments, or e-mails, or phone calls. So here I am trying to piece together a timeline from the scattered information I have kept. Its making me feel drained just looking over it all, so that I can fill in the new forms in front of me this week!

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No one told me, because no one knew that for us family life would involve all this. It’s just kind of evolved that way.

It all began really with an overwhelming feeling of helplessness that I just couldn’t get breastfeeding right, I just somehow wasn’t relaxed enough, or producing enough milk, or not holding her in the right way?? It just wasn’t working, and I couldn’t meet my little girl’s vital needs. The midwife had to keep coming round, she advised us through the transition to bottle feeding, we tried different bottles, different teats, tried demand feeding, tried to the clock… to no avail. Feeding was a battle. And our little bundle was a bundle of stress and sleeplessness – no surprise we thought, she’s always hungry bless her. Health visitors checked in regularly, at one point I took her to the doctors nearly once a week asking and asking why she was struggling – or why I was struggling… to no avail.

Weaning proved equally tricky, she was obviously scared of food, scared of the feeling of it, and swallowing it. She walked early and I can remember following her around with a yogurt trying just to get a spoonful in every now & then while she played – just something each day. I read everything I could find, tried every idea I could think of – picnics in indoor tents, tiny pieces of colourful food in ice cube trays, food pictures, playing with food, eating altogether, eating alone, sitting with me, following her around on the go, food treasure hunts. But we were at the bottom of a very long uphill battle.

When A came along the difference was so stark, the first time he was offered food on a spoon I had to hold tight before he swallowed spoon & all!! But B was still obsessively picky, and resistant to food. I remember asking for help as always, from the health visitor at A’s 2 yr check. We were sitting in our new house, Andrew’s first post following curacy, in the sitting room and I so clearly remember her words and the deep pain that followed. ‘If you keep on thinking this is a problem, and keep on asking for help, you will create an anorexic child!’. Those words, and the tone in which they were said (a ‘you don’t know just how good you’ve got it, I’ve bigger problems to deal with’ kind of tone) haunted me. So there was to be a gap in the timeline of appointments and support – I was desperate to avoid the danger of making everything worse so I took her at her word and stopped asking, stopped thinking about weight and tried to ignore the fact that A was growing past her fast.

In the meantime, as we muddled along, trying to be ‘calm around food’, and not draw attention to the problems (which of course were still there and growing) we kept our head down and got on as best we could. I went along to ‘webster stratton’ parenting courses (basic and advanced!!!), and it just seemed to me every week that we had a little one who was different from expectations. I remember laughing inside when we learnt about child led play & how at least 10 minutes of this each day was vital for a contented child – ‘maybe your problems and difficult behaviour would change if you tried it?’ – the diary I kept that week showed more child led play than anything else which was no surprise to me; it was the ending of it that proved tricky not the lack of it. Let’s face it, its not unreasonable to expect a 3 yr old to be able to pause for mummy to go to the loo every now and then (without working up to a frenzy which could mean hurting herself) is it?? She found the loopholes in the time out system in no time – it was quickly her doll that hit or grabbed and then of course how could I send her to time out, because it wasn’t her… she could keep her attention on changing a behaviour for just long enough to complete a reward chart and then of course get back to her comfortable routine… and no sleep techniques even seemed to make a dent in the lack of good sleep we had been experiencing since she was born!

Anyway, she was starting nursery too which might help – she was so bright, so ready for the challenge, maybe she was just bored at home, maybe I wasn’t being creative enough or imaginative enough, or dedicated enough to meet her needs. But she struggled to be left – big time! There were weeks where I rang up on the Monday and simply said that she wasn’t able to come in for a few days – she and I were under so much stress trying to do it, that we needed breaks. But of course soon enough she was 5 and had to go to school, no choice… and that year, and the year after that, and the year after that were tough.

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When she was in Reception class she had a brilliant teacher, who seemed to just ‘get her’, loved her zest for life, and knowledge, found her eccentricities fun like we did. That helped such a lot, we could talk, and share ideas, say we were worried when it had been a tough morning getting her up & out. You may remember that the government in its wisdom started a new campaign to ‘tackle obesity’ when my children were small – its still going now – as part of this campaign children as young as 4 going on 5, in reception classes had to be taught about healthy food. It wasn’t necessarily designed to designate good foods and bad foods but inevitably that was probably the easiest message for a little girl who distrusted foods to take on board. And despite the best efforts of that wonderful teacher who immediately began some work with the class around health, confidence and self-esteem, the struggles began to escalate. Within the next couple of years we went from obsessively picky, to obsessive avoidance – using all the tricks in the book, going to the loo during meals and spitting food out in the toilet (yes at 5,6,7 yrs), hiding food – play handbags brought to the table especially, as the stress mounted for her and us it got to the point where we were dealing with a meltdown before every meal and every snack, and if we did calm her and bring her to the table to eat sometimes the panic would overtake her causing her to be sick. It was out of control for all of us; A began to panic at the thought of a mealtime too and all the stress it would bring, I would begin to panic and despair as it got near to the time to prepare food. And B was not thriving. I can vividly remember bathtimes when I felt overcome by her physical fagility, not sure if I could safely pick her up – she looked as though she could snap. Something had to change.

So we broke the silence. I asked Andrew to ring the school nurse, while I stood listening, so fearful that a door would be closed on us again.

This time it wasn’t. She spoke at length with Andrew about our concerns, I can’t remember now whether she came and weighed her or it was the GP she encouraged us to see, or the hospital staff where she sent us for blood tests to rule out things that would need urgent attention if she had them. Relief slowly seeped in to the stress and sense of isolation that had built up within me over those few years. Somebody had taken us seriously, and was doing something.

From there we have continued on a slow but perhaps more steady way forward, with the patient (and thorough) work of CAMHS over the next few years, paediatricians got involved who have been monitoring growth, weight and height. Dietitians came alongside at different times, and psychologists and psychiatrists challenged, questioned, and reflected with us so that we could better understand  what was going on. Searching into our parenting, our experiences, our feelings about food. Listening carefully to B’s feelings and reactions to different aspects of our family life. There have been parts of that that have been uncomfortable, we have had to make ourselves open to strangers, we have wondered often if we were right to have begun something that has pushed B through some really difficult and challenging appointments. We have felt the guilt of that. We have also very much felt the concerns of others, ‘why are you looking for a label?’. We weren’t, but we were looking for understanding so that we would have a better idea where to turn to help B to grow and thrive.

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The day that we got given the diagnosis of ASD/Aspergers was such a turning point. Yes there was the realization that this was life long, and no one could tell us how it would go on shaping us all or what the struggles ahead might be for B. But also there was relief and hope, that through it we were gaining (and planning to continue to learn) a new way of seeing things with B and for B. And everything began to make sense for the first time, this diagnosis encompassed, explained in some way such a lot of our experience together as a family. And for B it was like finding a door to a community of like minded people in an alien world. In fact quite by chance Newsround Extra had an episode narrated by Rosie King, in which she explained about ASD and Aspergers and did it in such a positive way. (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ejpWWP1HNGQ) After watching it (just before one of the key assessments towards diagnosis) over and over and over, she said excitedly to us ‘Rosie is like me!’ – ‘I might be autistic?’, ‘is it something you want us to ask Dr Lorraine about?’ – ‘yes please, I’d love it if I was like Rosie, I’ve never met someone just like me.’ In that one conversation I sensed God’s gracious touch as we began more formal assessments that were needed to give us the diagnosis. It was all in God’s hands, the timing, the struggles, the future, the people who would move in and out of our lives to support, the impact on the whole family’s health and well being – it was all in God’s hands.

So, this form in front of me to be filled in this week is the next step forward in faith, I am hoping it will open up new kinds of support that will nurture and sustain us in the coming few years, and will enable what is needed to help B continue to grow and thrive. I need to reflect that alongside the heaviness and sadness that comes flooding back as I root through paperwork to find dates and names, I can also trace the faithful gracious touch of God too, as I recollect the friends and professionals who came alongside, and by recognising His protection as I look back and realise afresh that the physical damage for B could (perhaps should) have been so much worse. There were times I felt completely alone with it all, times I wondered if anyone would ever really see or listen and there were so many times I struggled to believe anyone could understand. It’s painful to recollect those feelings of hopeless helplessness. And I know there will still be moments of struggle to come… I pray I will go learning to trust, and recognise God’s faithful presence with us.

Father God, it was all in your hands all along. You have searched me and you know me, you know when I sit and when I rise, you know my thoughts – before a word is even on my lips you know it completely. You knit B together, watched as she was formed, cradled her and nurtured her in love. How precious are your thoughts to me – how vast is the sum of them! Search me and try me Lord, change me, lead me…

phew it’s a pj day!

Happy Christmas!

Well safe to say I’m officially tired today, and very pleased that everyone is more then happy to have a pj day before we travel to see more family tomorrow.

Here are some of the highlights for me so far… (deliberately thinking positively – the ‘moments’ can wait for another blog!!)

  • making Daddy’s present from the kids with the kids; glitter, feathers, painting, drawing, cutting & sticking and watching the 2015-12-26 16.52.27excitement of doing something that had to stay secret till Christmas Day! They did a great job
  • managing to successfully get the oven on a timer for all the meat joints eaten so far… and working with Andrew is the
    kitchen to get the Christmas lunch ready…
  • being caught practicing riding the scooter (that I was planning to make an entrance on when leading the Christmas Eve Nativity service) up & down the aisles at church before the service – very funny – and yes I did scoot to the front successfully without falling off! (we went on a bit of a trip round the world)
  • a week old baby coming to the Christmas Eve service and his Mum dressing up as Mary to join in.
  • wrapping presents with each of my little ones, lovely times of chat and excitement.
  • hugs and smiles!2015-12-23 16.12.10
  • listening to the Christmas story read by good friends that no longer live just round the corner, and by new friends from Switzerland, Brazil, Mozambique and Uganda – for me it really helped me to grasp a bit more of the reality that when Jesus was born it didn’t just change his family forever, or his village community forever, or even his country – when he came he changed things for everyone all round the world.
  • Christmas Day service, T dancing, B sitting with friends, A persuading Grandad to show everyone his light up Christmas jumper…
  • being with family in the (fleeting) calm, all relaxed, independently busy with new presents, fire lit.

I wonder what the rest of this week will have for us? I really like this week after Christmas, Andrew takes the time off, the church phone in the study gets switched off – good to have some time that’s not under pressure…

What do the next few days have for you? family visits? back to work?? days out? fun and games?

I am praying for some sleep, good conversations, fun, space, moments of rest and calm, and to be able to remember God is with me in the midst – whatever you are up to, can I pray the same for you too? x

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