full to overflowing

20160816_114836-0

We have reached our limit for plums!!

There is a wonderful plum tree in the garden here, and this year it has been heavy with plums. The freezer is full; we have had to reinforce the cupboard shelf to hold the number of jars of jam, syrups, jellies & chutneys (including some beautiful bottled plums still there from last year!); the ice-cream has been made; curd is stored in the fridge; and cakes have been made, eaten and frozen! It’s been a good harvest!

I have loved the days when Andrew & I have gone out and worked together to pick and sort the plums, with a ladder and bowls (and A sent hurriedly for saucepans & bags when bowls were exhausted), and intrigued hens pottering round our feet.

2016-06-04 18.44.38

I love the way our glut of plums gave T & I an excuse to go and chat with the neighbours here, and to spend time finding out how they are. Andrew has also taken plums a bit further, to friends in church.

The (seemingly endless) task of cutting and cleaning plums for jamming has given me times standing chatting with B; rather orange fingers if I’ve done too many all in one go; and quite a few giggles with my girls whenever we found a wriggling pink grub inside one!

It has been fun to search out new recipes – and to taste test some – the plum syrup is pretty good in a fruit salad, and yes it is good on pancakes. B & I have also enjoyed naming some adapted recipes – my favourite this harvest ‘plumentine marmajam’ (perfect name for a chunky, just sweet enough clementine & plum jam).

I am loving the fact that we have now reached our limit of picking and storing too! Now over to the birds, the insects, bats & hedgehogs to forage and harvest. And we will gather in the last few ripening blackberries, elderberries, and hazlenuts – and hopefully a butternut squash when it is ready & a few late corgettes.

2015-08-17-17-07-56

Can’t help but feel very keenly just how full to overflowing our store cupboard is, especially in the light of watching the news with B, A & T this morning finding out a bit more about how the convoy of aid trucks was bombed on its way through the fragile ceasefire to those besieged & desperate in the cities of Syria. And reading about the growing food crisis in Sudan, and the affects on families of the troubles in Yemen. The material I am preparing this half term for our pre-school sunday group is ‘God made enough’ – so I can… share, be careful with all he gives me, trust him, have all I need…

B & I read tonight:

Do you know how God likes to be introduced?

His name is the Lord … Father to the fatherless, defender of widows (Psalm 68:4,5 NLT)

Our Almighty God who sifted stars through his fingers, stands not with kings and princes, but with the weak, the powerless, the poor…

He hears their cries. He fights for them and defends them.

(from ‘God’s title’, out of Thoughts to make your heart sing, Sally Lloyd & Jago)

And I find myself singing this prayer quietly as I wait for her to get to sleep:

Oh God, help me to keep our eyes and hearts open, to see the ways you fill our lives to overflowing so that it can flow out to others. Spirit help me to keep us feeling the compassion and love of the Father’s heart who hears the cries of the hungry, lost & forgotten. Help me Lord, to live generously and open heartedly; to model the opposites of ‘grabbiness’ and ‘looking after myself first’ for my children as we all grow in faith, learning life driven by faith and hope, not fear or despair.

For you are the God of the broken, the friend of the weak. You wash the feet of the weary, embrace the ones in need. I want to be like you Jesus, to have this heart in me. You are the God of the humble, you are the humble king.

 

why worry?

There’s always a lot to worry about – or at least it seems that way to me! I’m a worrier, a very good one actually… I have got it down to a fine art and can worry creatively in most situations, about most things!

It’s not a conscious decision, it’s just simply something I end up doing, it’s my default setting. Sometimes worrying overwhelms me and then I fall in and out of deep stretches of all pervading anxiety and/or depression which affects my health, my sleep, my eating and can affect our day to day life because it gets much much harder for me to get out & about, or to do the tasks I normally do.

As I grew up in the faith I added guilt to the worrying, it adds on and sticks very well indeed – not much effort required. Being a follower of Jesus and a worrier seemed to be mutually exclusive the more I heard… maybe you have also heard the ’11th commandment’ – ‘Thou shalt not worry’ – a popular translation of a saying of Jesus recorded in Matthew; or maybe the other part of that which seemed to come with a freebie wagging finger & judgmental tone – ‘who by worrying can add a single hour to their life?’. Then the passage where Jesus challenges the disciples who fear for their lives on the boat in the storm:

 “O you men of little faith! Why are you so frightened?” Then he stood up and rebuked the wind and waves, and the storm subsided and all was calm. Mt 8:26 TLB

Is it just me who always misread this, attaching the word rebuke to the disciples rather than the wind and waves? (In fact some translations make this all too easy) So I grew up in the faith associating worry with failure, rebuke, guilt and lack of faith. No-one specifically ‘put it on me’, it’s just how I appropriated it. I wonder if I’m not the only one.

2016-06-30 12.24.41

Mind you, saying that, it’s not always been a straightforward thing relating to the Christian family whilst struggling with Depression or General Anxiety Disorder. There is some truth in what Dr J Lockley says in the forward to his book:

Being depressed is bad enough in itself, but being a depressed Christian is worse. And being a depressed Christian in a church full of people who do not understand depression is like a little taste of hell.

A depressed Christian has a double burden. Not only is he depressed but he also feels guilty because, as a Christian, he feels he is supposed to be full of joy. Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit. So what’s wrong with your spiritual life if there’s no joy?

(A practical workbook for the depressed Christian, p14)

I am also Mum to 3 born worriers! With ASD in the mix, between them their worry and anxiety shows itself in a number of different ways. We have a catastrophic thinker, who gradually goes from the effort of being positive to struggling to get out of a deep pit by bedtime a lot of days. We also see extreme avoidance behaviour, sometimes showing itself in an inability to go upstairs alone, or to the bathroom without someone checking first and waiting outside. We definitely see social anxiety a lot of the time, new situations or new combinations of people cause a lot worry, and even panic in advance and can make some contexts very hard to join in with in a relaxed way (add eating together to that and it’s even harder, shared church lunches are a big deal!). We also have controlling behaviour; a coping strategy for extreme anxiety, when this gets going it can affect almost everything right down to which direction I am looking in if in the same room, or where we sit, the exact words we say in a conversation – hard to explain just how exacting that can be, but for example there are times when I even have my head physically moved, my mouth pushed into a different shape and a script told to me that I need to repeat absolutely exactly or we can’t move forward. Worry sometimes shows itself in over-the-top concern about how clean things are, and the urgent need to change clothing or bedding, to wash hands etc when things are perceived as dirty. Worries affect physical things like getting to sleep, managing to eat, decision making, managing to express yourself and explain what’s happening, brings headaches, nausea and dizziness. My kids can express worry as anger, over-excitement, feeling ill, aggression, and my favourite simply as ‘I don’t know!’ regardless of the question. And of course as worries multiply routines become more and more inflexible and at the same time each micro-transition within that routine becomes a mountain sized hurdle.

It’s not so much a list or woes I’m aiming for here, but hopefully an insight into just how well we have worry covered between us!

2016-06-23 19.51.53

So I have had to do some more reflecting, in some ways made easier because I have been able to step away slightly from my guilt-worry hang-ups because I’m reflecting on behalf of my lovely children.

Being a Mum I can’t help but see that there’s an alternative tone to hear the words the Bible has for us about worry. When I sit with my kids when worry is threatening to overwhelm them, my ‘don’t worry’ means something so different from ‘thou shalt not worry’; it means ‘I’m right here’, ‘I’ve got you’, ‘I’m not going anywhere’, ‘Together we can face this’…’please let me hold you and make it feel better, I love you SO much! and it hurts me to see you hurting like this.’ I guess it slowly dawned on me (or should I say it is slowly dawning on me – cos lets face it the habits of a lifetime can take a while to catch on) that the words about worry could be heard that way, from our loving Father God – take the filter of the anticipated wagging finger and judgmental tone away and suddenly there is a gentle tone of personal, intimate, parental care, concern and love in every single ‘do not worry’. So rather than thinking that the Bible has so many ‘do not worry’s because it’s such a grave sin and we simply must work harder at never worrying, I’m beginning to wonder if actually it is a message repeated so often because our Father knows what we’re like, and when we do worry (and I have yet to meet anyone who never does) he sits with us, holding us close whispering ‘don’t worry, I’m right here, I’ve got you’. And with our Father God, his ‘together we can face this’ is so much more than mine can ever be for my children, because nothing is impossible with him! And with him his ‘I’m right here’ can go far beyond my commitment to my children, absolutely nothing can get in the way of his strong, forever-love for them.

And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

(from Ephesians 3 MSG)

2016-02-03 21.40.14

So yes I am learning for myself and passing on to my children useful techniques to slow down breathing, to relax muscles, to get our brains thinking straight again, to put things in a different perspective, to learn to sit with and acknowledge the physical symptoms of anxiety rather than fear them and escalate them, and emotional vocabulary to use to become more self-aware and express to others what’s happening. But I am also more significantly learning for myself, and hopefully passing on to my children, that Father God knows all about our natural ability to worry, he knows we get anxious – and he loves us through those moments, doesn’t condemn, or demand more of us in a ‘get-you-act-together’ way – no he loves, and it is his love that will work on my natural ability to worry bringing relief and release from the way it binds me, not my effort!

Is 43

Hail? In April?

Hail today, rain yesterday on a day we had planned a picnic with friends (of course we went still), school again on Monday (and homework to finish), piles of washing, endless tidying; add those together and you get a grumpy, stressed, cold, moany couple of days! 

2016-02-14 16.50.39

B & I were just thinking before sleep (11:45pm and she’s almost there now!) About how God’s people were so grumpy in the desert after God rescued then from Egypt. It made us smile to realise how silly they were, how quickly they forgot everything God has shown them he could do to look after them; parting the sea, clouds & pillars of fire to guard & guide, water out of rocks & food falling like rain just for them! 

Then we got chatting about how like them we are sometimes. The challenges, the disappointments, the way things don’t work out how we expect of plan, that difficult event looming that we are dreading – all of these things can fill our attention & our energy so much that we forget to even look for the gifts from God in it all – to recognise the ways He makes sure we have what we really need (& much much more), to see His protection and guidance, to see how far He is taking us, step by step, away from everything that tries to keep us ensnared & feeling far from God’s love. A friend once challenged me to get better at this – to grow in thankfulness, and saying thank you. I often feel I have taken great strides in it, then I read passages like this & realise I have such a long way still to go… so much more to learn…

2015-09-14 16.21.03

Sitting here now I can immediately see there’s another view of the last few days. It was bright, hot even for a couple of days at the start of the week & with no school, & no groups for me we got out in our garden & I (with help of course!) built a greenhouse that someone gave us out of the blue last autumn. We have met up with friends, tackle a few of the tidying/cleaning jobs that never get to the top of the list usually, played, pottered, eaten well, even had proper lie ins on a few of the mornings! And our picnic in the rain was with lovely friends & undercover – yes cold, but dry & fun. It was a really great day out, with lots of opportunity to really talk to each other as the kids played (actually really well!). The week has been generously scattered with really lovely gifts from God like rain refreshing a desert.

DSCF5413

 

I asked B, ‘what can I do to get better at this?’, ‘don’t know?’ she said.

We wondered together about ‘collecting things’ in each day that we can thank God for. How perhaps if we did it together as a family, it would push us to really try, and that by trying every day we would slowly begin to do it out of habit. I remember reading something (perhaps when looking for Lent activities, can’t remember) about families collecting thanks in a jar, then making it a special family time of thankful remembering on the day the jar was emptied. I’m sure in my memory it was something done over a whole year, and opened as part of marking New Year together. B & I both agreed a year might be too much for us. ‘We might be able to do a week?’, she said. We liked the idea. ‘We could open it at Sunday tea,’ I said, ‘and each bring something to put in the jar each tea time this week.’

Think we will ask what people think tomorrow & then go hopefully go for it! First week back at school after a break seems a good week to be reminded… we all find it tough.

 

 

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.

2016-02-22 16.23.51

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?

2016-03-03 10.19.20

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?

2016-03-03 10.15.37

 

 

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!

IMG_20160128_184037

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.

IMG_20160128_183916

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.

IMG_20160128_211806

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…