Shadow Of Victory

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

THE GIFT OF FRIENDSHIP ( part two )

I am fascinated by friendships...relationships...people...in another life I may well have been a therapist as I love watching the interaction of different people in different settings. People watching is one of my all time favourite activities. I have been known to make up entire life stories about two people in a coffee shop...my husband thinks I am bonkers but he does join in at times too especially on holidays when we get time to chill out and watch the world go by.

This year ...if you have been following my blog....or indeed know me and been a part of my life in the real world...has been one of the worst years on record in my life. I am not even going to repeat all the sad bits...nor the health problems...nor the confusion...I console myself with saying that 2014 is just around the corner and I am so looking forward to a new beginning and a deep hope that it wont ever be as bad as 2013 has been .

I have had a lot of time on my hands this year...way more than I really wanted or needed and it has given me time to think....Thinking is sadly under-rated...I have come to the conclusion that I need to do a lot more thinking in future and less talking or acting or doing stuff but just being quiet and letting my mind and thoughts and emotions have a few moments to themselves !

This is what I have come up with whilst letting my mind free fall.....some other thoughts on the subject of Friendship. I wrote a blog entry about my friend Bren who recently went to glory leaving a huge gap in my heart and soul and as yet I am still finding it so hard to believe she is no longer here...no longer will I get an email or a text and I cant plan a trip down to see her. Its a weird horrid hurting gap left that I am daily praying that God will fill with peace on a day by day basis.

So...what other thoughts have occupied my thoughts on friendship ....I will just blurt them out in no particular order and not listed by their importance...just thoughts.

I have been reading and looking at the woman in the bible with the issue of blood....she has always been one of my favourite characters and I identify with some of what the story tells...( not that I have had an issue of blood ! ) but the fact of her being stigmatised...and marginalised within her community...I read a little between the lines and guess she isn't one of the people you would want to hang out with...simply because she was ill for so long. I wonder what her life was like before she got ill ...did she have lots of good friends...was her social life full...was she invited to friends homes or gatherings...did she herself have the gift of friendship and a full life within her community??

I kinda think that perhaps when she didn't get better that slowly but surely maybe her friends and her community and her support network just got smaller and smaller until after 12 years I think she was very alone....the culture of those times was that she was " unclean" so I am probably right in saying she was alone and probably lonely too.

So what am I saying here....If I am honest I have felt that the whole of this woman's 12 years has been whittled down to cover the last 8 months of my life...Previous to me becoming unwell I would have said I was blessed with some really precious friends and had as full a life as I could have around my work and family commitments. As it became apparent over the months that I wasn't going to get "better" and that the route to wholeness and wellness was going to a long haul rather than a few weeks I realised that slow but sure the contact and community I had was diminishing and days would go by with no contact with anyone except maybe a quick coffee time and then I noticed that even those were going and being replaced by txts and this last two weeks even the texts have almost died off too.

Please believe me...I am not pointing any fingers...I also hold my hand up and admit that most of the time I would make an arrangement and then cancel it at last minute if I wasn't able to cope or had a doctor/hospital appointment so I am definitely not blaming anyone. The woman in the bible probably had some good days when she thought perhaps she would be able to go see someone but then wham her issue came back again and she had to cancel again.

These thoughts on friendship have been brought to the fore of my mind mainly because of Bren's death...I can honestly say that she was the most loyal and loving and caring friend ever and no "issue of blood " made any difference to our love for each other...if I cancelled she just kept on loving and caring and keeping in touch..her emails and txts didn't stop until 6 days before she died and even then they were full of her concern for me and her love or me.

One other "odd" thing I have found is that friends who I have known for decades but maybe who haven't been a part of my everyday community have been so caring and understanding even if from a distance .. As I pondered on this ...the old versus the newer friendships...by that I mean the 15 years plus versus the less than 8-10  years I have been surprised and blessed by the oldies way more than the newbies. I wonder if this is specifically because of the history we share...or is it because they don't all live nearby and don't have to put up with me and my "issue"

I have come to the conclusion its because they knew me way before 2013 when life became so hard and they remember ME...as I was not ME as I am now.

My oldest buddy in Edinburgh ...Sandra is one of the best of friends one can ever know. Sandra came into my life at the same time as Chris did..so at least 41 years of shared history. Sandra has always been there for me...not always in the same country as she lived in South Africa for many years but by letters we kept our friendship alive and in more recent years ...texts emails and visits have all strengthened our love for one another. Sandra isn't a Christian....but she is a God believer if that makes sense.. (.I did check this out with her before I wrote this blog ) and her giving of herself and her home and her time has been a huge blessing to me. Loyalty...is one of her characteristics and no matter how low I have been this last year she has consistently loved and encouraged me all the time. Sometimes her advice is way off the wall but mostly she is just loving me through and treating me no differently to the ME that she has known all these 41 years. One other attribute that Sandra has that allows her to shine in my life is that we can talk about my faith and she supports me in that and would never try and change me...in the same way I totally accept that she isn't (yet) a follower of Jesus but that our friendship doesn't depend on us having the same belief ...its more dependent on  who we are to each other....The other great thing about Sandra is she loves not just me but all my family too and takes an interest in all that we are doing....its a wrap around kind of friendship that truly allows me to feel safe.

In the same category as an * oldie * is my friend Sharon....we met probably 22 years ago here in Bracknell...she now lives in Yate near Bristol. Again for many years our friendship relied on letters ( shows our age as this was way before txts and emails ) and I find now over the last 3-4 years that the distance isn't any barrier to keeping the friendship alive and well....this last few months Sharon has consistently been a support and encouragement to me and mine. I could fill a whole blog talking about how this friendship has blessed me so much.

Another "oldie" is Caroline...she lives in Amsterdam and I last saw her in the flesh 32 years ago when she visited me in hospital when I gave birth to Andrew my middle child...and altho the miles and the distance are clearly an obstacle somehow or other we have kept alive the link of our hearts which  first formed when we were five years old....Caroline is my * get real * friend...by this I mean she minces no words...says what she means...and keeps my feet on the ground... I love her outspoken thoughts and her amazing ability to remind me that life at times is a bummer but  you just got to keep going. I also love the fact about Caroline that she is just as smitten with her grandchildren as I am with mine so we are a mutual adoration society on Facebook.

Finally another *oldie* who has once more proven that friendships can and do last the test of time. Melita...I have known for about 28 years ..we have holidayed together..served God together...shared a bed together ( never again..she is not that good a friend )..we have laughed and cried and prayed and lost all hope then found it again when least expected. Melita has now moved miles away and I have already forgiven her for that...but am still working on the forgiveness issue that she lives 105 seconds from the sea. Melita is an all round friend...she is who she is and and loves me exactly as I am ...all the time...

I count myself more that blessed to share about my friends....these are the ones who despite the distance ....have gone the distance with me....I have written this to honour them .

Sandra....Sharon ...Caroline ....Melita.....my friends...please know I love and value you in so many different ways and you are a gift from God into my life especially more so in recent months.

Monday, 25 November 2013

REFLECTIONS OF 1997 ..POETRY

My amazing husband found the poem and here it is ....I can remember the evening so well...I wonder if anyone else does too. I would love to hear from you if you were there.

I also realised that I did actually write another poem...This was for a Sparklers Time Out morning so watch this space for more poetry...who knows I may have a real gift !!

 
REFLECTIONS 

Come journey with me throughout my year
and witness this moment that God etched clear
in my search for the essence of love.
 

A child so young, so precious, so fair
stumbled and tumbled and fell down the stair
Come watch with me in Intensive Care.
I felt the coldness of the valley of death
as I watched machines work to give her breath
I was overwhelmed with worries and fears
my eyes ached with the fierceness of my tears
Yet even in this chaos I heard this voice
I knew as always I had a choice
To give way to the panic that I was feeling
Or believe in the Lord and trust Him for healing.

Was it then that I knew the essence of love?
Perhaps
 

Come journey with me throughout my year
and witness this moment that God etched clear
in my search for the essence of love.
 

A friendship covenanted in love and prayer
nurtured and held with tender care
I grew careless and took it for granted
neglecting to watch over the seeds that were planted
Harsh words came, like weapons of war
they drew blood and opened wounds so sore
Yet God in His mercy provided words to say
For healing and forgiveness and strength to pray. 

Was it then that I knew the essence of love?
Perhaps
 

Come journey with me throughout my year
and witness this moment that God etched clear
in my search for the essence of love.
 

A child caught up in that "in between" life
full of struggles and conflict and inner strife
exposed and isolated by a sense of shame
realisation dawning that life's not a game.
As the burden of sin became too heavy to bear
Eyes locked into mine begging me to share
And forgiveness flowed like heavenly rain
Our relationship released from desperate pain. 

Was it then that I knew the essence of love?
Perhaps
 

Come journey with me throughout my year
and witness this moment that God etched clear
in my search for the essence of love.
 

A woman of spirit called by the Lord
A voice amongst voices repeating these words
"You are fearfully and wonderfully made"
"You are fearfully and wonderfully made"
"You are fearfully and wonderfully made"
As the echoes resounded again and again
I could feel the familiar sense of pain
And then all who were there just disappeared
And in my spirit a vision appeared
In the shadows childbirth
and even as I approached to see
I knew the baby would be me.
And as I watched this event unfold
My heart was gripped by icy cold.
And as I saw the child born - laid aside and rejected.
My spirit within felt dead and dejected. 

Then something happened that was very strange
As I saw the shadows lift and the vision change.
A presence I knew was
The Father picked up the child.
I was cradled in His arms and felt safe from all harm.
I heard His voice, like thunder yet
whispering like a gentle breeze into
my very soul 

Eavesdrop with me : 

"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
 and have no compassion on the child she has borne,
tho she may forget you I will not forget you.
Before you were formed in the womb I knew you
Before you were born I set you apart
For I created your inmost being
you are fearfully and wonderfully made
and I will never leave you or forsake you.
For I know the plans I have for you,
plans to prosper you and not bring you harm,
plans to give you hope and a future. 

And as my thoughts began to gather
I knew this voice to be my Father
And the eyes of my heart were opened to see
that with this love I could be me.
And chains that bound me to the past
Released my spirit and I was free at last
 
Was it then that I knew the essence of love
OH YES
It was then

 

 

Sunday, 24 November 2013

GODS LOVE NEVER FAILS

Today at our amazing new  Kerith Multi Site meeting we sang a song with the chorus..

GODS LOVE NEVER FAILS ..NEVER GIVES UP..NEVER RUNS OUT ON ME

If you have been following my blog....or know me well...you may know that most of 2013 has been a messy ..painful...confusing time ..not just in my own life....  but in our family and friends lives too. The one thing keeping me going is the truth that God loves me....loves me enough to give up Jesus to the cross...enough to resurrect him from the grave and to give to me...completely free...the Comforter...His spirit living within me ....holding me up...keeping my feet on the rock...keeping my eyes lifted up...keeping my heart beating to the sound of all heaven worship-ing his son Jesus.

When I got home I was looking for something in a drawer...and I found a piece of paper...I had forgotten existed. Many years ago ( 17 years  ) the "old "style of women's ministry used to meet once a term for an evening of worship and word and Val Cottee who led the team at that time had asked me to be a part of the evening. I usually feel very honoured to be asked to be a part of leading women into Gods presence but this particular time Val asked me to write and bring a poem
. Yes....a poem .Val had been praying about the evening and felt very strongly that God wanted her to ask me to write a poem There was no guideline...no topic...no theme ...no scripture....Val encouraged me to seek God and go for it.
 Now to put this into perspective  I love writing ....anything....letters...cards....emails...texts ...blogs...Fbook and lists..lots of lovely lists for everything you can imagine...shopping lists..things to do lists..things for others to do lists...things to pack for holidays lists.. and probably somewhere in one of my drawers there may even be a "list of lists ".BUT I have never...ever...ever written a poem...not even a ditty.or a limerick or even a two line rhyme so I kinda got a little teensy bit nervous.

I had about two weeks to prepare and you gotta bless Val she didn't even want to vet it..correct it..mentor it..she just trusted that God had told her and that was enough for her to trust that I would bring to the women's ministry evening what He wanted to bring.  As I prayed about what on earth I should write about God laid on my heart the word.. REFLECTIONS   and the poem began to shape itself almost without my having to work too hard at it ( hint for future...this is when you know that whatever has been asked of you that its from God )

The poem ended up being a look back at the year I had lived through which was 1997 and as with 2013 it had been a very very tough year for me personally and for the family and friends ( sound familiar ? ) and if anyone asked me tomorrow if I would write a poem based on the word REFLECTIONS a lot of what I wrote 17 years ago would be repeated . The circumstances would be obviously be very different but the main theme running through this 17 year old poem is very simply

GODS LOVE NEVER FAILS..NEVER GIVES UP...NEVER GIVES UP ON ME

My amazing husband has told me he can find the poem....he yacks on about files and folders and cutting and pasting and yes it will appear on the blog.. So I am trusting in God that this is true (!) and that at some point in next couple of days I will share with you my one and only poem...immortalised forever ...in some hard drive..or usb thingy or even something called a dongle ?? Stay tuned and understand I am not boasting about my ability to write poetry...I am simply and humbly reminding myself that hard times like 1997 and 2013 make no difference to the truth that

GODS LOVE NEVER FAILS ..NEVER GIVES UP..NEVER RUNS OUT ON ME

Monday, 4 November 2013

RETREATING

As a church we are so blessed to be able to take time out and head off to what we call FOURTEEN...this is basically a day set aside in an amazing setting and after an introduction talk you can settle anywhere in the house or garden for up to 5 hours of silence ...broken only by a lunch laid out for us.I have been on probably 6 of these days over the last two years or so and look forward to the dates coming out and planning ahead and anticipating that I will feel rested...refreshed...restored and sometimes I even meet with God !

There is no pressure to be "spiritual" ....no pressure to "hear from God "....no pressure to "share amazing visions "....in fact there is just NO PRESSURE...Sometimes I look around and I see women snoozing....knitting...walking in the garden...sitting staring into space ....and sometimes I look around and see women reading the bible...writing journals....or plugged into their music. I have to be very honest and say that I take a bag full of "stuff " and often the stuff  just remains in the bag but I do also plunge right in and get on with the stuff too....There is no pressure to do anything other than BE and I love it....just  " being " is a new concept in my world and its one I am embracing with wide open arms and a heart that is beating to this new rhythm rather that the loud discordant beat of " doing ".

I have developed a sort of routine for " being " when I go on retreat days....it consists of picking up a cuppa and a choccie thing....making  myself very comfy in my chosen armchair and reading at least two of the magazines that are laid out on the resource table...great reading and I just indulge myself in this with my feet up and enjoy a leisurely hour. Then I get sort of .....oooo I should do something now...this time I wrote some letters...and cards...I am a list person and a writer of letters and I usually have at least 4-5 that I want to get written every week. I was very pleased that in the next hour I managed to get 7 cards/letters written . Its just "stuff " but I felt good that the stuff in the bag got at least an hours attention from me.

It was then lunch time. Here I have a confession.....after the very first retreat where I joined the rest of the women and chatted and shared food together ....I decided that I wouldn't eat with the others and that I would take my lunch with me to my armchair and munch on my own....you see ..there is no pressure to mix with others...they don't think I am rude ....I feel quite free to do this and it keeps my mind fixed on just " being ". I don't have to make conversation ...I don't need to exchange news ..or views ..or opinions....I find that it keeps my day flowing with no interruption. Then my routine ...as is a lot of folk ..anywhere...is to have a wee snoozette after lunch. Lovely warm home...comfy armchair...feet up...full tummy....no phone...doorbell...conversation...just a chance to " be  ".

When I said at the beginning there is no pressure to be spiritual or to hear from God I rarely come away from the retreat without a sense of his presence and I wrote a blog entry a few months ago sharing about the armchair on the landing which had a really old Dolls House sitting right beside it and how  I had one of those rare and special moments when God "whispers" and you know you have to listen up and lean into Gods heart .Today after my snoozette I decided just to focus on the view outside my window. The gardens are truly amazing but as I am no gardener and really have no interest or knowledge in plants or trees I do enjoy just letting my eyes wander and then settle onto one area or one thing and just as a few months ago God put the Dolls House in front of my eyes ...this time He put a garden table in front of my eyes . Literally right in front of my eyes ! Where I was sitting was directly facing the patio where there was a large wooden garden table ...

As it is fast approaching winter months I guess that all the chairs and sunshine parasol had all been put inside so it was just this solitary table...it was a fair size and I would reckon you could get at least ten folk around it or more if you all squeezed up. Knowing the family and the setting I also guess that it has been well used for many seasons ......for gatherings large and small and for different occasions ..eg Sunday lunch..birthdays...visitors...or just a general sit down and rest up kind of day. As I continued to "look" at the table I felt one of those " whispers" from God that I knew I just had to allow him to reveal something personal to me about this table. It felt very similar to the "whisper " I felt some time ago with the Dolls House moment and I was more than ready to listen up.

As I continued to look at the table I realised it was a fair age....it didn't seem to be one of those new ones all spruced up and well varnished. It looked as if it had seen a number of seasons. The wood was wet and this had warped some of the planks that made up the top of the table...from the angle I was sitting I couldn't really see the table top but judging by the bits I could see I reckon the top was less than perfect and probably had a fair amount of nicks and splintered bits too. I am no DIY person but it even seemed to me as if someone had actually built the table itself and laid the planks on top. The base was very sturdy and not at all like the flimsy posh wood ones we see in shops now and certainly not the plastic round ones that fall apart after two years. This was a very solid table and looking closely again I decided that the reason it was still there and not put inside with the chairs was maybe that it was very heavy to move or that it was too big to be stored anywhere or simply that it may still be of use even as autumn and winter approached. It stood there quite alone without any chairs around it ....no bright and cheerful table covering....no bowl of fruit...no vase of flowers ..no plates of food .. and it was "outside "with no one nearby....looking a bit damp and weathered and unused yet still standing firm on a solid base ..almost waiting for a new season to begin and I began to hear the whisper from God.

 I felt God was saying I was a bit like this table...alone...bit damp (!) ..bit worn... bit splintered. ....not being used....no one sitting nearby or around me....not even a chair to offer anyone to sit with me..anyone coming near would just have to stand and therfor not stick around for a long time....nor was there a sun parasol for them to rest under . I had nothing to put on this table...no bright and cheerful covering..no food and nothing beautiful like flowers or plants. This season of my life feels a little bit like this..okay be honest Irene...it has felt a lot like this !! But then I heard another whisper from God and this is really all that I wanted to share..... that like the seemingly old and battered looking table looked abandoned and alone at the moment...  I too feel like this garden table.....

Then God whispered to me... just wait till the sun comes again...wait till the warm weather starts again...wait till the time for sitting in the sunshine comes again...wait till the chairs are laid out...wait till I get a new and bright table covering...wait till flowers bloom again...wait till the clouds give way to an endless blue rainbow filled sky...wait till the voices of children shout across the table....wait till the chairs are filled with friends who come to sit with me ....wait till those days arrive again...to share life together ...shelter under the parasol or kick back with their feet propped up on the table top. This table ( me ) may look alone and abandoned but God says quite clearly...look at the base..look at the structure ..how strong and sturdy it was ..no one on their own will be able to move it ..it was stable and sited exactly where God wanted it to be .....right in the front of peoples view and ready at a moments notice to be used as and when this dry and thirsty season ends and a new and fresh day is dawning.

So here I am sitting and waiting and just "being"..I am not abandoned..not unused... not alone...not unwanted...I am just in that season where I need to be able to rest and be assured that the foundations ..like the base the table is built on ...will never be shaken and I am just going to "wait "

Friday, 25 October 2013

THE GIFT OF FRIENDSHIP

There is a wonderful saying about friends I heard years ago.....

Some friends are in your life for a reason
Some friends are in your life for a season
Some friends are in your life forever....

Over the years I have seen this happen in my friendships...and its only been the last few years I have began to take this into my spirit. I have often tried to keep a friendship going way too long after the reason or season that they were a part of...eg..the school gate mum who your children shared play dates with...the friend who helps you out with lifts for the school run or after an school activity. The friend who you share an interest with eg badminton or book clubs ....the friend who moved away that seems to fizzle out into Christmas cards only.

But I haven't written a blog entry for a very long time because I have been completely wiped out by events happening in and around my family and my friends. Its been a tough few months ....my daughter has been so ill and in hospital several times...and two of my closest friends have been battling with cancer and another close friends husband has also had cancer.  Our new grand-daughter was also in hospital for the first 14 weeks of her life and altho doing really well at home has a genetic condition which means a lot of medical care is needed .To add to all that I haven't been in the best of health myself and after almost five months of investigations and trying different medications I am left still with no clear diagnosis and a seemingly anxiety related oral dystonia which leaves me struggling to string two words together and is extremely distressing.

But this isn't what this blog is really about ...Its really about the gift of friendship.! The REAL women's conference at our church this year had as its theme Friendships and altho I didn't get to more than two sessions it was really good to hear what others feel about friendship and for all of the reasons above I wanted to share just a little about one gift of friendship that I have had the honour of having for 27 years.

Less than two weeks ago we attended the funeral and Thanksgiving service for my Dorset Buddy...I had the privilege of speaking at her Thanksgiving and in the few days between my "goodbye "visit and the actual Thanksgiving I was flooded by years and years of memories...I truly believe that she came into my life for all three of the reasons mentioned at the beginning of this entry.

The REASON she came into my life at the time she did was simply to walk through almost 3 decades of family life together...Holidays...Christmas times...Celebrations... The sharing of our children and the ups and downs of family life.

The SEASON she came into my life was that I sorely needed a friend who would accept me once I let her see behind my mask. We all live with various masks that we hide behind and as a new Christian I had my mask firmly in place ...but God used my friend to help me to be real. So far I honestly don't think that apart from Chris and one or two other friends really know the real me and accept me totally as I am. .My Dorset Buddy totally and lovingly helped me to be honest and vulnerable and she reciprocated and trust was built into our friendship from the very beginning.

Now comes the hard part of this entry...I truly believed that my Dorset Buddy would be in my life forever.....we had it all planned...who would push who in the wheelchair...how we would probably move in together if we became widows at similar times....how we would love our families as they got married and we became grandparents....The marathon yakking sessions we had.....the emails we sent to each other in between the monthly visits....the prayers that we shared together ....the wee jokes we had that no one else really understood....the memories....the laughter......we were surely going to be friends forever as well as for reasons and seasons.

Yet two years ago she was diagnosed with cancer and it was  most likely terminal. ....this was not in either of our plans for our future friendship and suddenly it became even more important to spend time together. As Dorset is a two hour journey away it wasn't always easy to get there but we both made the effort involved......on my part with a two hour drive there and a two hour drive home for maybe only four hours together and on her part by making time for me and aiming to be as well as she could be as time wore on and the chemo wasn't going to heal her and as the symptoms became more and more debilitating it became even more important to enjoy the gift of friendship more than ever.

When I heard that she had been transferred to a hospice and it would be a matter of days I knew I had to see her one more time..I had actually seen her on my usual monthly visit and in fact had gone with her to her first Radiotherapy session and altho we had a lovely day together especially as both our daughters were together and both of our grandchildren were there too it was a very special day and I have a really lovely photo of both of us together which I now treasure as in the following weeks it became clear that her time was limited and we talked more about her "going to glory" than ever before. Within a month she was given only days and Paul said I could visit her on the Sunday.I had a glorious half hour with her in the Hospice .....I say glorious simply because we crammed as much love....joy...peace...laughter..prayer... tears....and the absolute belief what God was calling her to glory and that she wasn't frightened at all of dying. It was a precious half hour...I cant explain how precious...we both knew we were saying goodbye and even as I write this now my tears are dripping down...both sadness that she is no longer here but also joy in knowing she is with Jesus.

When I arrived at the hospice Paul had explained that she looked very ill...I guess so I wouldn't be shocked...but honestly all I could see was the friend I had known ...her spirit shone through the physical state she was in and even altho I could feel when I hugged her that her body was struggling she was still my friend inside .  One thing we have always been together is tactile...we always hugged ..always held hands at times when needed...and this was one of those times. The entire time we talked we held hands...and when I knew I had to leave it was as if we couldn't actually let each go ...our hands seemed joined together and I know with not one shred of doubt that we have had the gift ...the precious gift of friendship and that last goodbye and the holding of our hands was symbolic of the truth that one day....one glorious day..we will be together again in glory.....so whilst I may not have her here on earth as a forever friend I know that ultimately we will always be friends forever.

It has been several weeks now since she died and her Thanksgiving and funeral ( which I must say was excellent...always seems strange to say that a funeral is excellent but we were not just mourning her death we were all celebrating her life and sharing what she meant to each of us )..and the hardest thing I am finding is simply ...she isn't here to share what's happening in my life. A big part of our friendship changed when they moved to Dorset...the daily interaction when we lived in the same town and attended the same church was gone and we relied more and more on emails and letters and phone calls and sleepovers and marathon talkathons...our record was 11 hours solid !!...I find myself thinking.." I must email her"...or "send her a text "...or I see a funny card and I buy it before I remember she isn't here anymore. I have just come home from a ten day holiday and I know that there would have been an email waiting in my inbox saying "how was it...tell me all the about it " and truly was surprised again that it wasn't there waiting for me !

Why am I writing all this ...firstly because I find that at times "writing is my route to happiness " but more importantly to honour my Dorset Buddy..and to honour THE GIFT OF FRIENDSHIP and to perhaps encourage all of us to not only appreciate the friends you have but also to look for ways to nurture that precious gift...who can tell when the time may come when you can no longer nurture it for many reasons.

My Dorset Friend was always a person who disliked being the centre of attention...and would.. I am sure be embarrassed not just at what I write about her but what others have said and felt and shared during her illness and her Funeral and Thanksgiving...and I have always referred to her as My Dorset Friend when I have perhaps shared a visit on Face Book as she was also a very private person and certainly didn't want every one knowing about her health or their sympathy and I respected that in the two years that she was fighting to live......But I will now refer to her no longer as My Dorset Buddy..but simply Bren... Pauls wife....Natalie and Danielles mummy ...Mother in Law to Jamie and Tim and Nona to the gorgeous Beaux...Precious Friend to many....

Bren...I miss you ......xx

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Grannys Gap Year ...Finally Finished

Well....its all over and done with...sadly I felt it ended on a whimper rather than a bang but hey...I am 58 and no longer a spring chicken so when "running the race" I sometimes walk a little and take time out..BUT...the most important thing was that I DID finish...I didn't give up...I got to graduate...and its all done and dusted.

Looking back over the year I learnt so much...especially about myself....my character...my personality..my strengths and my weaknesses. I learnt the hard way that when life and circumstances knock me down that there are times to get back up and carry on but there are also times to just say..."okay Lord....I am down ...what are you saying to me "

I completed five out of the six assignments and racked up one merit and four distinctions which for this granny brain that has had no education since I was 16 that is an achievement that I am very pleased with !...I got to preach at one of the 10/10 Sundays ...and I was very pleased with that too....I got to hang out with some amazing youngsters on the course and they were such a blessing and reminded me that God is on the move in a whole new generation. I was privileged to be taught by some members of the church who opened my eyes to new things of God and the bible.

I have some precious memories of my Sundays with the children's work and this sustained me week by week again showing me that God is on the move  inspiring a generation of children who will grow up with the knowledge that God loves them and cares for them . I was mentored by Yvonne as my line manager and Caroline ...both women I have known as friends for many years and know that God has done a work in me through their encouragement and their faith in me.

The last 3-4 months when life events overwhelmed not just me but it seemed like our entire family was knocked down and out I was still supported daily in one way or another....a meal brought round..a text sent...a prayer answered..a shoulder to cry on...a community who surrounded me with love and encouragement ..that made no demands on me other than what I could do..

So as one season ends for me and a new season begins...I am just sitting at the feet of Jesus and not looking for anything other than his presence..his peace ..his joy.... My diary is very empty and there are days with nothing written down and whilst that is daunting in many ways I know its what God has planned for me. I am not used to big chunks of time with no agenda...nothing planned so its all a new season for me.

My main aim at present is to get my ongoing health problems sorted....without going into too many details suffice to say I am not doing too well and its a daily slog to keep pressing on with medication and doctors appointments and therapy . I am currently waiting on neurological consults in September with some quite scary conditions mentioned that I am being tested for so I am definitely trusting God for the right outcome. I am also trusting God for the restoration of health for my daughter Catriona who has been so poorly for weeks and its a daily prayer asking God to heal and restore her to full health. I have several of my closest friends going through major health issues as well so trusting God for all of this and praying daily for them.

My life verse which I also use at the beginning of my blog is from Philippians Ch 3 verse 12 and it says this...

"Not that I have already obtained all this or have already arrived at my goal,but I press on to take hold of that which Christ Jesus took hold of me ."

So...where to from here as I press on....I really have no idea but I am just going to keep heading towards the finishing line and see what God has in store for me in the coming year. Granny's Gap Year is finished but not me....I am still going and living with the motto

" If you are not dead you are not done !

Monday, 8 July 2013

THE GAP...IN THE GAP...IN GRANNYS GAP YEAR.

I have already written last time about the "Gap! " in my gap year....and very soon my title of Granny's Gap Year will cease to be as I am due to finish Academy in two weeks time...I say "finish" instead of " graduate" as I have missed so much in last three months I wonder if the word "graduate" really is justified...but in the grand scheme of things whether its called Graduation Sunday or just Sunday 21st July that's it .....done and dusted..

I am writing this blog entry and as you can see from the title its about another GAP...and I hear you say...how many GAPS is this granny having and what on earth is she waffling about. This entry is because I wanted anyone who reads or follows my blog to know about GAPS...as I sure that everyone has had a GAP of some sort or another .

Two of the dictionary definitions of the word "GAP" is as follows

" A break in the line of defences "
"An interruption of continuity"

As a now seasoned commuter to Great Ormond Street Hospital ( GOSH ) I hear all the time the automated voice telling me " to mind the gap "after a few times I almost want to shout loudly...."okay okay I AM minding the jolly GAP...shut up !! " but of course wouldn't dream of disturbing the comatose commuters who are electronically connected to ipods...ipads...laptops ..tablets...newspapers ..books...or heaven forbid actually talking to each other and as for eye contact or a smile ...no chance...I at times have wished for the gap to open and swallow them up. There is something altogether weird seeing people try to read newspapers on an escalator. Truly bizarre.

Any way ...these new GAPS I am talking about are surely in the definitions listed above.

1) a break in the line of defence....these last few weeks I have felt completely defenceless against all that has been happening in and around my family unit and my friends...I have lacked the emotional energy to keep pressing on ...and running the race...and lifting my eyes to the hills and standing firm on the rock and all the other keys to defending my spirit and my well being...I have been so grateful for those who have stood in the gap for me and minded my gap for me...from praying..to ironing to keeping me company...to making me laugh ...to letting me cry...to buying me lunch ..to holding me when it has all got too much...thank you

2) an interruption of continuity...well I can confidently say that this last few weeks has definitely been interrupted by all sorts of family crisis...and it has affected not only Academy times...Family life. Work commitments ...Social life ( what is that again ?)..My sleep ..My health and My sense of peace....and again I am grateful for those who have hung around and held me up and pushed me on and shoved me in front and generally loved me when small pieces of snot and tears have dripped onto their clothes...

This last four days in particular has seen once more three distinct and different GAPS ...one not so great ..one awful and finally an amazing "interruption of continuity".

The first GAP being Cat ( my daughter ) and I gaily on our way to see the Dorset buddy...her daughter and delightful grandchild...for the first visit in a very long time so we were all excited ...weather was warm. The mummy's were going to the beach while the Dorset buddy and me caught up on life....unfortunately half way there Cat began to feel unwell...its very long story and I will brush over the 999 call on the hard shoulder of the M3 suffice to say Cat is still in hospital and now after scan and tests has got hooked up to an IV for antibiotics and hopefully home this week "the break in continuity "of our lives with Cat not being here is incredibly hard for her being stuck in a dementia ward with a gaggle of old ladies and for Nick Eli and us as we have to sort life out....so this GAP in Granny's Gap year has meant we are all planning our days down to the last second to ensure we all get to our commitments and get to visit and sort out Elisha and again I am grateful for those who have helped us out in all of these ways.
The second GAP is once again me and this dratted anxiety...I had the dystonia sorted and was able to chat and talk quite normally and wham  "the break in continuity " happened again...it hit me again on Friday evening by Saturday morning at 6.40am after maybe two hours sleep I woke feeling so ill....I couldn't stop crying...my shoulders felt like they were moulded to my ears I was so tense I was stuttering...the day just disappeared in a haze of meds and sleep and just relying on others to sort out everyone else.
The final GAP....is actually the most amazing one of all...and one I just believe 100% that God engineered it just for me ...( He can do this you know..stir up a GAP that will bless and help us to know He still is there..still caring for us...still working it all to the good and definitely strengthening us when all else around us seems to indicate that the "interruption of continuity " is always a grotty thing. Whilst visiting Orlaith in GOSH today her cannula somehow (!) or other got dislodged and as this was the only thing anchoring her to all the machines ....suddenly she was free!!..I was holding her at the time and instead of being stuck in a sort of 2 foot square area of the room and not able to move around much there I was with our amazing babe and I immmediately felt a lift in my heart and spirit. I walked around saying.."wow this is good Orlaith its almost like we could walk right out of here and go home ! We waltzed over to the bed area where Mummy and Daddy and Grannys and Aunties sleep (!)and we lay down together for seven glorious minutes...it was such a small thing but wow did I feel blessed and lifted and refreshed . Life was suddenly good again for seven whole minutes . an amazing "interruption of continuity "

This last few weeks I have only been able to connect with God through listening to worship songs and singing along and one song is always uppermost in my insomniac karaoke sessions.

" All of my life...in every season...you are still God and I have a reason to sing ...I have a reason to worship."

Enjoy looking at todays GAP.
   




Saturday, 29 June 2013

THE " GAP " IN GRANNYS GAP YEAR

I am coming to the end of my Granny Gap Year....I hadn't realised it was only three more weeks....wow...time has flown by but its not because of the cliché " How time flies when you are enjoying yourself "
For me this time has flown by in a haze of confusion with all that has been happening in our family. And within myself...way too much to explain it all but suffice to say that from the end of the Easter Holidays till now I have had a GAP in the GAP year. Inasmuch as I haven't been able to serve within my commitments to K Krew...nor get to church and no Academy Thursdays . I am sad and disappointed in myself. I thought I was made of sterner stuff but like a Tsunami... events overwhelmed me and I have felt as if I have been drowning in more ways than one.
After trying out 3 different meds my doctor (who is amazing ) came to the conclusion I didn't have depression as such but a deep anxiety caused by the events in family life...
Most of you who know me well probably know a bit about what's been happening in last 3 months but one of the main causes of my anxiety has been our new grandchild Orlaith....her mummy and daddy are amazing and if you want to know more about why my Gap in the Granny Gap Year has happened then read the blog Limara has written...
I have made a firm commitment that I will finish this Granny Gap Year with renewed and refreshed spirit filled life...so watch out..." IF YOU ARE NOT DEAD YOU ARE NOT DONE " is still my life motto at the moment.
If you want to follow Orlaiths progress here is the link..
http://limarabanks.blogspot.com

Congenital Hyperinsulinism (CHI) is a disorder where insulin is excessively secreted in the body, not being regulated by glucose appropriately - this causes hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia (hypo) episodes where insulin levels are high and ketone bodies aren't being made - this is extremely dangerous for the brain and the protection of brain damage; as it means it isn't getting the fuel (glucose) or ketone bodies (which generate different fuels) it needs. A safe blood sugar level for CHI is 3.5 and above - a hypo is anything below 3.5. There are two types - focal, where a certain area of the pancreas (a lesion) is producing too much insulin, or Diffuse, where the entire pancreas is affected.


On Saturday 13th April @ 17.25pm; Orlaith Rae was born. ♡
I could go on and on about the feeling you come across after just having a baby but it really is the cliche feeling of feeling complete and unconditional love. All of sudden, nothing else in the world mattered except her existence.  I never thought I'd be a mother at 23, I had so much more I wanted to do in life but there I was, holding a beautiful baby girl and nothing will ever come close to it.

Orlaith was an extremely shaky and jittery baby. I assumed these were traits of hers, but it continued into her first night at the hospital, only to get worse. Orlaith would go through episodes of being floppy and in a daze to being vocal and screaming the place down, reluctant to feed. In the morning, she had routine OBs and it become clear Orlaith wasn't going home. Doctors kept coming in and observing her before telling us she needed to go to SCBU (special care baby unit) - she was admitted on a 0.9 blood sugar level - it should be above 2.6 for normal newborns. This didn't mean anything at the time but we were made aware the feeding and jittering was being caused by low blood sugar levels and she needed medical assistance - at first I was just confused, I couldn't understand a word the Doctor was saying, all I heard was him say 'antibiotics' over and over again.
Orlaith was taken to SCBU and was instantly put onto a 10% dextrose IV drip - this didn't do much and she went upto 12.5% then 15% .. She still lingered in the 0.'s, even dropping to as low as 0.2.
Due to Orlaith's veins being fragile - as with any new born - she had a IV line put into her belly button, as the dextrose percentage was too high for regular veins. Numerous canulars failed but Orlaith luckily remained stable. A few days after birth, one of the staff nurses told us they will be taking blood to check for "Hyperinsulinism" and briefly described what is was, but we didn't know the severity then. The results came back and she was on the fence, neither positive and negative. Our hospital stayed in daily contact with Great Ormond Street hospital, one of the only TWO centres in the UK which deal with CHI, to indicate what steps need to be made. Orlaith also developed severe reflux and would struggle to hold a feed down - resulting in the NG tube you see in her nose, this has been used since birth to help feed her. She's more than capable to take a bottle but with the reflux was extremely difficult (majority of CHI babies suffer with reflux and aren't keen on feeding, exactly like the day she was born).


As the weeks went on, SCBU tried numerous medicines and kept her on the IV drip constantly, as she'd only hypo without it. All together, it was THREE times we titrated the IV fluids with feed and she was able to come off the drip. However, Orlaith would only last a couple of days and she'd be back on the drip and meds were being increased. How Orlaith didn't slip into seizures, comas, or developed brain damage is beyond us. Drs indicated to us we were awaiting a transferral to Gt. Ormond Street but it could be some time until the bed was available. It got to the point where Orlaith kept dipping dangerously low and she needed a higher dextrose percentage, but she would need surgery to fit a central line as the glucose is too strong for veins and would damage them.


 Within a space of a day, I wasn't only told about surgery to fit the line- I was told she may have brain damage and a tumour on the pancreas. The next day we were transferred to Southampton hospital for surgery to fit a central line for the weekend, thankfully all was a success. We arrived back to our local hospital all fine - Orlaith was stable and the plan was to keep it that way until we could be transferred to GOSH to see the specialist team and top notch consultant. . Early hours the next morning after returning back from Southampton, Orlaith started having cardiac episodes and stopped breathing - I am forever grateful and thankful to the nurses who were on shift that night, without them we wouldn't have our daughter today. During all what was happening, bloods were taken which indicated low levels (of what, I'm not too sure!) and Orlaith had a blood transfusion which helped her remain stable. Orlaith had also had a brain scan which showed there was NO damage on the brain, overjoyed is an understatement.


By this point, Oralith was nearly 7 weeks old and we were finally being transferred to GOSH as a bed had become available. We've been here nearly 4 weeks and the team are simply amazing - coming from somewhere which had never heard of the condition, here it is like second nature. Orlaith remains on a 30% dextrose and occasionally hypo's, but here we have the ability to control it. After routine blood, her hyperinsulinism was confirmed and it indicated the CHI may be focal... This could be the best news, as hopefully it would mean surgery, recovery then home. Diffuse is more difficult to control and get rid of, but there is still a possibility of it so we're open to the outcome - Orlaith will need a PET scan to confirm the current findings. Fingers crossed it's focal and HI may well be cured!



 

Monday, 24 June 2013

Friendships

The only positive thing about Insomnia is that you get to catch up on your lists and your Facebook , read other peoples blogs and write blog entries of my own that have been brewing for a few days..!!

I have been thinking so much about friendships recently...firstly because of an assignment I wrote for Academy a few weeks ago ..then used it as a base to blog The Fellowship of the Mat.....and that led to an evening to chat to others about enduring friendships because I think one of the themes for our conference REAL this year will be including stories about Friendships.

I have blogged about this before so if you want to read more then search through the archives...I have blogged about the positives and negatives and about grace and forgiveness that we all need to extend at all times. Penny Lander who is one of my heroines in the faith  says to me.." Always think well of others " and I try but sometimes fail...I have hurt people I am sure in the dark and distant past when I knew nothing about grace and the old cliché of "hurting people will hurt people" must ring true with others as well as me....and I know from listening to others that the whole area of true friendship can be a pain filled story.

For me in this last season of life .(January to right now ) I have learnt some things about friendships that have almost been worth the stress and hurt and pain just to have the experience of deep and holy moments of God filled friendship...I am still raw and hurting...I often joke that last time I had surgery they must have re-jigged my "wee " bits to my tear ducts,,!! ...I also wrote a blog recently called "Tears for Souvenirs"...again have a quick rummage for that one too...but these tears have come about in a weird way and are not carrying pain all the time..some of these tears are tears of relief that I can just be me and not have to hide behind a mask saying "I am fine" to those who ask "how are you doing"
Some of the tears have been tears of anguish at friends who I perceived to have been insensitive ( I know Penny.... I should think well of others and I am trying )...some have been tears FOR my friends whose burdens are heavier than mine and I haven't been able to help them at all...

I will very briefly list some of the life happenings that have caused me to lean very heavily on friends so much....I wont go into huge details because I am hoping the meds kick in before 3am and I actually get some sleep..!

*House move.....packing up two houses...oh you def need friends for that...
*Supporting family through painful situations...( Cat and Nick). yes I needed  friends for that
*Living with a two year old for 6 weeks with a broken leg.!!yep..friends needed for that
*Sensing all isn't well with another family development which should have been one of huge celebration as Orlaith was born but has morphed into a ten week ...so far ...journey with our third grandchild who as yet is still in hospital....oh yes a real need for friends at this time.
*Realising that the feelings inside my head and thoughts weren't normal and needed medical intervention...huge thanks to the friends who pushed me into going and at times actually came and got me and drove me there!
*A further realisation that I cant "fix" things....many years ago an Elder of our church went abroad for a conference and he shared that in the quiet of his room one night he said to God..."if you only have one blessing left God then please give it to my wife "    I have said this to God so many times recently..."if you have only one left...give it to Cat and Nick and as I know God never runs out of blessings...I blatantly ask...give to Andrew and Limara for baby Orlaiths healing.
*My Dorset buddy who has the word cancer hanging over her I regularly ask God...."don't run out of blessing before you heal her "
*Having to try out 3 different meds to try and get my anxiety under control and one of which had an awful side effect called oral dystonia which basically meant I couldn't string two words together as my jaw clicked and my tongue did weird things...the family all said I was speaking Klingon...which got worse under stress
*Three separate prangs on my lovely car one of which ended up like an episode of the keystone cops as the police who saw me have a disagreement with a bollard at entrance to car park followed me in and as mentioned above I became a Klingon who was trying to explain what had happened...Mr Police Jobsworth asked if I had been drinking....hahahahahaha ....said the Klingon woman (where are your friends then when you need an interpreter )...long story short.he insisted I blow into  this weird thing ..and apparently its best of three..so there I was 9.45 am in car park blowing away...he then asked me when was the last time I had drunk alcohol as he was about to say I needed to go to station and give a blood test because I was obviously unable to speak...I answered quite truthfully...last Christmas...I truly am not a drinker and I thought best not to mention the meds!!...The Klingon had humanised itself by then and so off they went having totally ruined my morning.
*I made myself go to Academy where a couple of the students were doing their preaching class and as always the tears drip...I have learnt though that Academy friends are a safe bunch and I don't need to run and hide from them..friends who just accept me and love me in Academy are so very precious and they ALWAYS keep my seat for me...
*Following that we went to vets with our old pooch...and we knew what was coming  and l knew it was time to let him go the the kennel in the sky...we haven't yet made the date as need a wee bit more time with him and also let family know...Oskar has been just the best,,I am not sentimental...he is a dog..he doesn't sleep on my bed nor does he sit on our furniture but he is still a huge part of all our lives so at some point in next few days our lovely vet will come to the house and do the necessary with us saying our goodbyes and I know I will need friends then too...strangely enough the vet herself is a friend and was so tenderly kind to us.

These points are only a very small picture of what life has been like for me...I still cant fix or be fixed...I still cant make commitments cos I know I may break them and this includes haircuts !! I still maybe hurt my friends but I have to finish by telling you about an avalanche of friendship on Friday evening.

I had decided to have a "soiree" and ask friends who have loved me through the last 5 months...way too many to name but due to random circumstances I knew I would have the house to myself and it was an ideal time to have a girly night.....and in a moment of madness I invited any of them to sleepover if they wanted to..! Bear in mind the average age was possibly 50...!!! but what the heck...I needed some friendship and altho when we got home from vets on Thursday every part of my being was saying NOOOOOOOOOO cancel it ..I decided I really couldn't do this and I had to go ahead with it....

If you are familiar with the phrase "dirty stop outs "..(maybe a Scottish  phrase) then this pretty much described the 19 (at last count ) friends who descended on me..bringing the gifts of beer..wine champagne..popcorn...fruit....flowers...nibbles of all colours and tastes...and the crowning jewel was the chocolate fountain....oh my...I could just live with this object and do without friends (!)...at one point a few hours into the evening they were like vultures round a dead body scrabbling for the last marshmallow and I swear I saw one friend actually dip her face in but I cant be sure. We topped it up and another friend mixed the choc with Baileys Irish Cream...it was sublime...everyone needs a friend like that. Fortunately the evening was relatively warm and we all had wraps and cardis outside our bodies and alcohol inside and the chiminea was blasting out warmth to all...by this time most of my sensible and driving friends were leaving,,,but the dirty stop outs were still here at 1am in the garden just laughing and crying and telling stories...we all need friends who know our stories. But more important than the pressies..the gifts ..the flowers...more important that anything else was their presence in my life....they ranged from a friend who I hadn't seen in 15 years who crocheted a beautiful blanket for Orlaith....to the friend who first introduced me to church and then led me to Jesus...there were friends whose children I had cared for...friends who perhaps we had only walked the same journey over the years...friends from Academy who we all told them naughty stories discussing  the many different words in different languages for farting!!....we happen to also have three cockerels living next door who regularly joined in with us as we got louder and louder ....all in all an avalanche of friendship with the theme of reality running through it....we weren't pretending we were being REAL....at one point in the evening..the chiminea set off all the smoke alarms...I went up and closed all the windows and as I looked out at my friends I just began to weep and sat on my bed mopping up the waterproof (yeah right ) mascara whist I waited to get myself together enough to go back down...one precious friend who noticed I was missing came to find me and another gift was handed over freely...a hug...costs nothing but worth its weight in gold..

I am on the last bit as it is almost 3,30 am and I am sure my meds MUST kick in soon (please God)..the dirty stop outs all headed to bed...about 1.30 am but unbeknown to three of them I had planned a secret meeting in my bedroom with a friend who I have shared more Tena Lady pads with over the last 25 years than with anyone else...she had brought maltesers and we planned to have an hour to catch up sharing the bed and cup of tea... glass of baileys and our maltesers...well would you believe it another dirty stop out saw and heard us sneaking about...so in she came too...I think 3am came and went before we all went to our own beds...

So what am I saying through this blog entry....I am trying to be really spiritual and Godly and cant for the life of me think of a scripture that I could leave you with...(blame the meds )...but apart from saying a hugely understated THANK YOU to all those who came and all those who were unable to come and all those too far away for me to actually invite...I just know that some deep healing work was done through every person who touched my life Friday evening/night/morning.....I think I managed to have a decent conversation with nearly everyone but even just sitting watching and listening to them all catching up with each other...some that they hadn't seen each other in years or who were going through painful times themselves was medicine to my spirit...as I say often at the moment I haven't cried so much ever..I can honestly say I haven't laughed so much for a very long time...the gift of friendship is way more precious than I had ever realised until this year...its Gods gift to a broken world and its sometimes the only way through the broken-ness...None of my circumstances have changed at all but some of the pain involved has been shared out amongst my friends who willingly carry some of it for me and this is the most precious thing of all..People often say that happiness is dependant on circumstances but that JOY is dependant on God...let me tell you this is true....

I could go on and on....In the last ten weeks I have felt that all I had done was let my friends and family down..failing to be the fixer of past years...unable to help them ...making commitments to meet and then cancelling...causing pain to them....isolating myself...and in the Academy just unable to actually be there. I felt especially bad for my friend and line manager that I was totally unable to be a friend to her as she and her hubby hit the wall in shock and surprise at a totally unexpected diagnosis of cancer..I was nowhere to be seen and especially for my Sunday Academy commitments  I just lost momentum and I let the team down ( and starve )...hopefully pastries and goodies coming your way over last month of Academy in July

In all of this..... friends from all seasons and eras of my life propped me up....God gave us the gift of friendship...we all of us need friends who we can be real with and I am daily thanking God that the phrase " yeah I am fine" doesn't have to be one I trot out on a regular basis.

May you all know the blessings of friendship today and forever.....


Monday, 17 June 2013

The Local Church Is the Hope of the World.

 One of my heroes is Bill Hybels who leads Willow Creek Church in Chicago ...Our church here in Bracknell hosts the DVD Global Leadership Conference every year and I get to serve and absorb some amazing truths from  world class leaders both Christian and secular leaders ... BUT somehow or other I still keep hearing in my mind ...my heart..and my spirit....Bills Mantra...The Local Church Is the Hope of the World. Several years ago Chris and I had the immense privilege in flying to Chicago to attend the GLS live and again heard Bill Hybels say over and over again The Local Church is the Hope of the World. I am sold out on this in every fibre of my being and never more so than by my experience today at my church.

If you haven't been following my blog or known how tough life has been for not just me but my family....I wont go into too much detail but suffice to say our daughter and husbands third IVF ended in miscarriage again and my son and his partner had the gorgeous Orlaith Rae 9 weeks ago....sadly Orlaith has been in SCBU at local hospital for 7 weeks  then was taken to Southampton for  surgery to put in central lines....we were hoping and praying for a bed to be made available at Great Ormond Street ( GOSH ) as they are only 1 of the 2 hospitals in UK to have specialist units to deal with condition. We heard two weeks ago she was going to be moved to the other specialist unit....in Manchester and our hearts sank..how could we support them  and how could Andrew get to work in London..it just seemed such a let down...we prayed and asked others to pray and in the early hours of the morning they had a call from GOSH to say they had prioritised Orlaith and would take her...so at 5am she was off to GOSH

In the midst of all this I have been having what I thought was depression....and began to seek help through my doctor..who is another of my heroes...he has been my doctor for 29 years and he is just lovely....so I have felt respected and treated with dignity despite the fact I cry and snot all over him each week....we have had several changes of medication and the strongest sleeping tablets he can prescribe.All meds have various side effects and 1 in 500 can develop oral/facial dystonia...this meant  I couldnt  string two words together and Chris reckons I was speaking Klingon...this was extremely upsetting and I felt isolated....Doctor took me off the meds that day and prescribed plain diazepam,,,which he hoped would settle my speech and it has done so and I rarely speak Klingon at all. I am having blood tests and a couple of other investigations before he changes medication again.

To make matters worse I have had several disagreements with road bollards and entrances to car parks and the pillars out side our home resulting in probably  1000 .00 of damage to my car and now not able to drive at all till doctor sorts me out...hey ho...and the final horrid thing happened over a Facebook Folly (see previous blog)...so after tonight I am shutting down my Facebook account as it has been and a techie friend is going to reset it for  with a suberb amount of security so that hopefully what happened a week ago will never happen  again.

Bringing it all back to my title about the The Local Church being the Hope of the World...for about 10 weeks I have been so poorly and unable to get to Academy nor serve in my usual role and haven't been to Sunday meetings for such a long time and it was with huge anxiety I was kinda persuaded by my daughter that I was going !!!...I was very anxious all the way there but let me tell you what happened when we arrived at the car park....I wont name any names but you know who you are....

One friend said hello and asked me how I was..she could see I was slightly wobbly and she linked arms and walked all the way to the church just chatting and ensuring I was okay....I had a text from another friend to say she was keeping me seats.....I then settled in front of great friends who I realised were having the thanksgiving mtg for the cute little Georgia....I went over to K2 with Cat cos I really felt I needed to show my face but didn't want to stay or go over on my own...several friends hugged me and said how much they missed me.....I then had  ten mins chat with some one who is only just pregnant and she just loved on me big time....on way back over to main building I saw another friend who had had some problems with anxiety a couple of years ago and and we had a hug,..several hugs.....then I was crept up on by my amazing great buddy who sat me down and just talked about Academy and what may happen and how was I feeling and  coping....of course by this time I had missed most of the meeting and gone through loads of tissues and we walked in together and she was making sure in the nicest possible way that I was actually going back in .
Then on way out ...as the rest of the family were by this time wondering if they should just have left me sleeping...one of my oldest and dearest friends jumped out of her car and we made an arrangement to meet up....in between all of this at least 4 or so more friends just gently asked how I was and hugged me and of course the legendary RV gave me one of the best hugs as per usual.

So how does this tie up with my title....The Local Church is the Hope of the World...well all I can say is that the world is full of hurting people who need to experience all that I experienced today....my local church today filled me with hope that I was doing okay...I was loved and missed by so many precious people and I came home knowing that God uses the local church to bring hope and healing to a hurt and broken world...one person at a time...today was my turn.

Finally I am closing Facebook today....you wont be able to access my blog unless you go to link and sign up for email or let me know and I can do what is easiest for you by emailing it straight into your inbox but try the subscribe button first...I will be back on Fbook in a couple of weeks and it will probably be by friends request only...If you wish to send me a request please do so and I will pop you back on.....and finally finally finally....my love and thanks to all of you not just for today but for years of love and caring and support and encouragement

Love to all Irene M

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Facebook Folly

Today I made a decision to shut down my Facebook account. I announced that I had "culled" some 30 or so "friends" on my list for the reasons listed here;

People I never see
People who I don't actually know apart from their names
People who are decades younger than me and to be honest I reckon they sent me friend requests in a bid to get the highest number of friends
People who I rarely read their status nor they mine
People ...as above who I rarely comment on nor they mine.
People who use consistently bad language or blasphemy
People who inadvertently get hacked and then pass on a virus to my laptop ( three times in last 4 months )

I notified some of them as I had contact details and explained why..most of them were fine and one or two thought they may even do the same...and I wont even begin to bore you with the awful things some people feel the need to express for something as unimportant as a social media tool.

Now....of course if I actually knew how to shut the jolly thing down I would have but so far I cant do more than log out..!! I perhaps should have found out exactly how to do it before announcing it to the world....Techie daughter will sort me out when I next see her I am sure.. I plan to post this link on Facebook anyway to maybe explain a few things and let my family and friends know what is happening.

As an Academy student for one of my written essays I wrote about social media...I was more than delighted to get a "distinction" mark for it...if anyone wants to read it then email me and I will happily send a copy..I am truly proud of the essay ...sorry if that sounds boastful but at 58 to go back into a learning environment and get top mark was so rewarding.

Let me give you some background re my techie skills. I first had a mobile phone ten years ago..it was the size of a small text book...I had a "pay as you go " and 25.00 per year saw me with change every time. I never switched it on as I couldn't hear it ring..it had no vibrate as an alternative and I only used it because I cared for children with disability and childminding so needed it for emergencies only.My family and friends laughed at me and in an effort to rejoin the human race I purchased a Nokia clam.....oh this was fab...it was tiny and wowzer.. it had a photo thingy.!! I still went 25.00 a year and got change and it was 2 years before I took a photo and another year before I learnt to text.

I joined the family of laptop owners 4 years ago and began with..emailing...blogging...and then facebooking...I had absolutely no interest in twittering tweeting myspace-ing and all the other "things" but when Elisha my grandson came along I really wanted to let the whole world know about him....some of you may remember those "did I tell you I was a granny "days with status galore about this gorgeous child who rocked our world.

For me....Facebook is my way of blessing and being blessed...I have found friends from all over the world and from all eras of my life...Caroline in Amsterdam who I have known for 53 years....Sandra and Janie in Scotland who I have known for 44 years and 40 years....respectively . I have shared life with my sister in Canada and all the distant relatives over there...I have shared in the lives of my brother and all his family and almost weekly see pics of my grand niece and nephew and most of our family at some time of other will post or PM me. I love being a part of the community that live locally and are part of my work or my church...again joining in with their celebrations...or their mourning..or their ups and downs of daily life. Hopefully anyone reading my status or looking at my pics mostly feel the same.

For the last 3 months we have had a fair bit of distress in our little family down here in darkest Sandhurst...Cat and Nick had a third IVF cycle which resulted in a miscarriage...then my son and his partner had our grand daughter and sadly all is not well with this precious little one....most of my posts at that time reflected some of the anguish we were all feeling....most people responded with love and empathy and prayers. It is with a huge amount of distress and trauma to let you know that I has several PMs and emails which after reading I wanted to vomit the ugliness and horror out of my mind.Then to add to that I began to feel unwell...I am not going to go into details with that ...suffice to say I have been attending my doctor and have been using medication to try and ease the emotional trauma and pain...I am NOT blaming Fbook for the way I am now I know that anxiety and depression have a chemical base but is made worse by stress and distress.

A few weeks ago I blocked an old and good friend mainly because she worded her response to me in a way that I perceived to be hurtful ...I blocked it immediately because two of my other friends leaped into the thread and began to say horrid things about her...remember these were people who don't actually know each other ...they only know through me..I hope that my friend didn't get to read what they said but I also know I hurt the friend by blocking her. That event sent me into a real spiral and for at least 6 weeks now I haven't been on any kind of top form. I have functioned quite cheerfully within the home..my work..my family and a very small handful of close friends. Even with that I haven't wanted to actually leave the house only seeming to be okay with emails or texts. I have ventured out several times and its been " okay " for very short times and with a couple of friends who I am so at ease with ..as well as my family. I was so anxious about going to see Orlaith last week ..it was a train and two tube changes but meds and Catriona saved the day and we spent a gorgeous afternoon with both Andrew and Limara and Orlaith...imagine my joy when I got to hold her ...being careful of all her IVs and tubes and central lines...My heart ache as eased  as I sang..."you canny shove yer granny aff a bus " and I swear she joined in....then Auntie Cat got to feed her...so lovely and normal and together with Andrew and Limara having a meal with them..oh so lovely.!

The decision today to "pull the plug".(.at least when I actually find out how to do it ) was mainly about our new grand daughter Orlaith...she has been in SCBU in Frimley since she was born and last week after 7 weeks trying to stabilise her condition she was admitted to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) which is only one of the two centres in UK which can deal with her condition. She is now 8 weeks old and is the light of her mummy and daddy's world and you will of course now know I am a granny again!!.. it has only been recently that Orlaiths mummy and daddy have said it was okay to post pics of the wee girly onto Fbook  One of my " friends " last night must have searched through loads of internet "funnies" and saw one which she said looked like Orlaith....I hope and pray that neither of Orlaiths mummy or daddy saw the pics side by side on this friends thread as I superhumanly deleted at the speed of light and sadly a whole bunch of stuff including some of the precious ones we were able to take of Elisha and Orlaith together...I had a PM from the "friend" who said it was meant to be funny (!).... I haven't yet replied to her yet ...probably wont until the words in my heart can be filtered through the spirit of God first..

So my Fbook friends and family ...all those I dearly love and care for ...I am going to have a rest...I need to heal...I need to support my family...I need to find joy again....I have had lots of comments and emails and texts etc and will be in touch in some way apart from Fbook at the moment. Please feel free to text or email me too. I am hoping to continue and blog..and desperately hoping I will get back to Academy after missing so much .I will post this link on Fbook over the next couple of days BUT after that you will have to sign up to follow by email...its easy to do on the blog itself and I may also send round a contact email so you can opt in or out....I personally always follow the persons blogs I like so getting them into my email inbox means I don't miss them...

In my assignment I quoted a fair bit from scripture and ended with this one..."Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way and may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you " (2Thess Ch 3 )