Shadow Of Victory

Friday, 11 April 2014

Still Standing....

I cant quite believe its been so long since I last blogged ....there is an old wives saying that says..

*How time flies when you are enjoying yourself *.....

I am sad to say this isn't always true.! This will probably be my last blog but I am not saying I may never blog again but I felt I needed to get some *stuff* down on paper (!) and then try and forget it for a time. I don't know about other bloggers but for a long time I would be thinking of things as they connected in my day and my life and then at some unknown time it would all seem to come together and I would know a blog post was ready to go.

This has happened with this post although I must qualify it slightly by saying I really didn't want to blog but for my sake I feel it will do me good. Please don't feel under any pressure to read it...comment on it in any way . Its just me putting a lot of unconnected dots together and hoping it will make sense to me ..if no one else.

I have titled this post....STILL STANDING ...I seem to remember there was a pop song with the phrase ...* I am still standing * idea who sings it nor the rest of the verse but this wee phrase just keeps repeating itself on and on in my head so the best way I know to get stuff out of heads is to write/speak/blog.

September 2012 was a time to celebrate....I was having a granny gap year serving alongside children's work at my church and the night before I was due to start I fainted and cracked two ribs . There followed a long and involved period of treatment and it was well into February of 2013 that I felt the pain was under control. It had taken its toll on me physically but also disrupted my sleeping pattern and the medication I was on only took the pain of the fractures away . It took forever for the doctors to realise that the lung tissue was bruised and as such I wasn't coping well with life in general simply because I was in such pain. Granny gap year floundered into March/April with me taking a fair bit of time out .I was so sad about this as it was the ONE thing I really really really wanted to do yet somehow or other I just couldn't get it right.

At the same time as this we were moving into a new house and sharing with family and grandson and renting out our own house to family too and were happily anticipating the arrival of grandchild number three.......moving on to April time our amazing grand-daughter was born and joy was stirring deep in my Granny's heart. It was a huge shock to us all to hear within 48 hours the wee girly was in this point I was completely knocked down...not a chance of me singing...I am still standing !!....for 7 weeks our wee girly was treated and we were only able to see her infrequently and rarely able to cuddle her at all....our hearts were with her mummy and daddy....then in the space of a month.... June I think it was.....our grandchild was transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital(GOSH ) of my closest friends was diagnosed with cancer...the husband of another good friend was also diagnosed with cancer and the news re my Dorset Buddy's cancer was not good.

By this time I was having hospital tests and medication for my own symptoms and after tests my doctor and I came to the diagnosis of Anxiety...not depression ( I did laugh at him once when I said...I don't have time to  be anxious....) The medication he prescribed had the horrendous side effect of giving me a stammer which led to neuro tests at Reading and various other investigations as well as a change in medication.

July 2013 saw my * graduation * from Granny's Gap year altho I still don't feel I did the best I could have ......then our 14 year old much love pooch headed for the kennel in the sky and both me...Chris and Cat on weekly trips to GOSH to spend time with wee girly and help out her mummy and daddy...sleeping in the room to let them go home and have a bath and be normal for 24 hours. Wee girly spent a total of 11 weeks in GOSH so you can imagine how stressful all that was. To say *  I was still standing * wouldn't be true but in those situations you run on adrenaline and so it was just one long round of hospitals.....add into the mix the news from all three friends with cancer that treatment was ongoing and then to ensure I couldn't get back onto my feet my daughter became ill whilst driving on motorway which led to paramedics and emergency admission to Basingstoke Hospital.

Fast forward to Christmas 2013.....My closest friend ever .....died in September leaving me... her family and her friends bereft and my other great friend was still walking the cancer journey as was my friends husband. Wee girly was home tho so we celebrated family Christmas and had some joy ..laughter and fun as well as millions of presents. I neglected to say that my daughter after a five day stay in Basingstoke Hospital then went on to three more hospital admissions for days at a time , This also meant that holidays that we had booked were all jumbled up and we ended up going on both family holidays with our grandson Eli...leaving mummy in hospital so the last few months of 2013 were a blur. In amongst all of that Chris and I also relocated church wise to the Sandhurst say we were excited is an understatement.. We felt primed and ready to roll.!! Sadly the ready to roll has ended in a feeble presence from me as week by week I struggled with this horrid anxiety....Insomnia has become an ever present enemy that my doctor and I fight every month to see how to get the best meds for me. The therapy came and went and apart from getting some forum input wasn't any real help...God Bless the NHS ...for all the amazing help it gave to my family but for me its just been one long round of * med - tweaking  *

So.....Its April 2014 exactly a year ago that life as I know it now began.....I am so sure of the dates as our wee grand-daughter is one year old on Sunday.....Time is flying but its not because I am enjoying it...its just a blend of days that at times gives a little bit of sunshine....I have several people and places I know I can go and just be ME...I cry a lot and lack energy....I try to go out and fail miserably...I make coffee times in the days I feel good then cancel on the day cos its a bad day. I still don't sleep more than 3 hours at night....I continue to work and love that Matt just hangs loose...he is such a part of our family and loves whoever is Chris and loves Cat and Eli much more than me I believe.

Our wee girly will be one and is doing great...she is so brave ...still having daily meds and injections but is the cutest little diddly you ever did see....sadly for reasons I wont go into on here...we don't see her very can get complicated..things are said and misunderstood...hurts happen ....hearts break and yet we carry on. For me as a Christian of some mere 30 years I have so much more to know about God and his healing mercy . Yet the little I do know eg * in all things Christ works together * and that *He will never leave me nor forsake me * and a hundred more verses. .....especially from the Psalms .I have a worship CD that Chris put together for me full of worship songs that build and encourage me and yet life is an ongoing battle ...

As already said I have places and people of friend who is a real haven recently is 105 seconds from the sea and I can escape there whenever my heart needs soothing. A trip to Edinburgh recently to celebrate our great niece and nephews second birthday and five days of family and friends certainly warmed my heart and as I cried and laughed in equal amounts it did me good to escape there too. I know that friends here are still loving me and praying for me and if the day is a good one I actually may even see them for a cuppa with my new posh tea set. ! I have my *big sister * in Canada who makes use of every tech media to keep me sane and standing plus of course my hubby and daughter and son in law and my oldest son and  partner and my grandson Eli and oldest grand-daughter Mathilda  without whom my life would be the poorer.

This weekend will see my son in law running the London aid of GOSH and in honour of our wee grand-daughter who gained amazing treatment there for so long and still has weekly/fortnightly visits and regular will also see her celebrating her first birthday with us not there with her but hoping to see her at some point. Its taken me a long time to move through this last 3 mnths and more than once I have thought my heart was broken in too many pieces and I would never be able to stand ever again.. I have come to a place of acceptance of all that is happening in and around me and still singing the refrain * still -standing * on a regular basis.

As I said  as I wrote this...its not for pity or to draw attention to my life ( I am well aware that others go through journeys worse than mine My Dorset Buddys husband and her two lovely girlys ). It has just helped me get it out of my head in the hope that God will have some space to fill me again and to lift me from my knees back onto my feet.

Monday, 27 January 2014

The GGGggggift of FFFFffriendship ( part three )

You may be forgiven if you are wondering if the keyboard on my laptop has got the twitches.! It is just a reflection on how my speech is at present and I thought I would post about my newest
 * friend * stammer .!

Since April/May last year I have had several different medications to help me deal with anxiety. The first medication brought along with it a slight jaw twitch followed by a sort of swallowing of word beginnings.(!). The next medication did well for a good few weeks until the jaw clicking began..most unpleasant and quite embarrassing. This lasted for two months until I begged my doctor to change medication again. I was slightly naughty at this time because I stopped taking the medication anyway and after 10 days I was able to hold a conversation without steam coming out of my ears with frustration. The next medication was bliss...good sleep...good days and no jaw click or consonant swallowing ..for three whole weeks I really felt as if life was getting better...and then

The return of the jaw click with a vengeance...followed swiftly by the consonant swallowing and bringing up the rear the face twitch and not to be discounted the tears of frustration and the horrid horrid horrid thoughts swilling around in my head. I am now at a loss as to where to go now...its the tension of living with a brighter mind and less anxiety ( note its not yet NO anxiety ) but with
this awful life inhibiting stammer...OR a mind that is filled with crap  but able to speak relatively clearly ...or at least with enough clarity so that I can go out into the world again.!

Looking back on this last three months especially I have isolated myself more than ever before. I may be actually present in some social situation but its only my mind is constantly wandering and wary of speaking to someone I may not know well... You may have seen my back as I left church early...or even a weak smile as I nodded at something you may have said to me. You may have looked forward to having a catch up coffee with me and then been slightly miffed that I cancelled at last may even have decided NOT to try again for a time and day to catch up ....This stammer is NOT me...I am still the same person and still the same friend but for some reason this anxiety is gripping my speech centre and the right medication hasn't yet been found to help my anxiety without affecting the speech centres in the brain.

Just as an aside...I dream in stammer too !

Fffrrrriendship...what a gift...I have actually spent time recently with great friends and altho I haven't said very much its been really lovely to be with them.I had a trip to see The Yate Youngster for lunch last week and a group of The Oldies here for an evening and on Saturday I spontaneously dumped me and and my stammer on The Pevensey Pal for a couple of days recently and altho the stammer was stammering away nicely at all these times I had a good catch up and for me it was just what I needed.

God created us to be in relationship with not only him but others too but when one of the fundamental ways of being together ( communication ) is hindered it takes a fair bit of determination to press through. Added to the stammering is my deafness and with two of the major senses knocked out you may well be forgiven if you have been wondering where I have been for last few months...simply answered isolation !

My main reason for this entry is simply to ask for your forgiveness....I am pretty sure there are a few of and friends who at one time or another over this last few months have been let down by me....disappointed...hurt...and maybe even have made the decision not to continue to walk this road with me....all I can say heart spirit jaw aches ..
my head aches (!)...and I am humbling myself daily before God and begging him to bring healing ...

Alongside the medication  I have been taking I have had a great doctor who listens...a great strength especially when the talker is stammering and crying....I have had some therapy...both of the mind kind but also the physical kind and I have got some "tools" to put into place when both the anxiety and the stammer get overwhelming. Its not perfect and I still prefer to be alone but its a start and its something to build on and continually putting it into practise  ....I hope...see 2014 being a much better year than the latter part of 2013.

To all who I would call Ffffrriend and to all who I know are FFfffamily ....TTThhaaannkyyou

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Multi-thoughts on Multi -site

I have been doing a lot of  * thinking * over the last few days and Simon's preach on Sunday has helped me to get my thoughts into some kind of order.  I am always the same after year end...with all the Christmas and New year out of routine stuff it can take me a long while to actually get back into routine again. Although the whole idea of * routine* for us in our co renting family unit is a bit of a laugh with all the illness going on. ( yes Cat is back in hospital ,,,again ...) Simon spoke of consolidating areas of our life...not just church life but our own personal life too and I was struck by several of the areas he mentioned. I will plan to unpack them in the next few blogs hopefully with some positive and encouraging news.

The one that most challenged me was  * community * and I confess to feeling very sad as I listened to him...its all about being involved not just in church but with each other and with our immediate sphere of etc...

The other aspect of consolidation was * health * and I can tell you that this area in my life and families life is way overdue some miraculous intervention. Its not just Cat...its me...its the ongoing health issues that face our grand-daughter too is def going to be high on the agenda this coming year

The final aspect that I felt challenged by was  * prosperity * and as Chris and I are both self employed its always an area where we most need to be aware and to be thankful and value our income and to be prepared to steward it well. The last few months when we have seen several holidays bite the dust due to ill health and family issues it has been a serious drain on our reserves so much so that at the end of this month when our self assessment tax and our NI are due to be paid it will take some amazing work of the Holy Spirit to cover us. For the first time in years we were unable to pay off our credit card  invoice in full ...and that is seriously sad for our hearts. Having been in debt for so long we have so enjoyed some level of prosperity and paying off the credit card every month for last 4 years has been a source of great joy so we were really not happy when we realised it wasn't going to happen this time. Grrrrr

But for the purpose of this blog entry I want to lay out some of my thoughts re Multi site. Many of you will be aware that Kerith Bracknell opened a new site in Sandhurst and as we moved here last January we were really revved up and ready to go when September came around. We had been a part of the church when we met in Wick Hill Hall decades ago so we knew all about the set up and assorted things that would need doing. For first two or three weeks it was amazing..exciting...challenging...and we were so excited to be a part of this new thing. Sadly illness hit and my particular involvement had to be scaled way back.On the bright side Chris and Nick continued to be able to serve most weeks as Cat and I struggled on with ill health and caring for Elisha.

I have long known that * community * best happens when new things start and being fully involved in a ministry is always a great way for friendships and caring to happen almost effortlessly. As the term went on and I had to pull back even more...often not making the meeting at all or if I did ...leaving with Elisha as soon as the meeting was finished ...not always being able to stay for the coffee time I began to realise that * community * wasn't happening. I don't write this for anyone to say....aww ...poor girl.... I am blessed with friends that * stick closer than a brother * but in the life of our involvement in Kerith Sandhurst  it wasn't happening. We did make it to the all church lunch that the Amazing Mehta family had at their home and it was great to actually chat to some people there that we didn't know at all...*community *  three cheers for the Mehta Family

When Simon spoke about this on Sunday everything seemed to crystallise in my heart and spirit and I have spent a couple of days thinking through what God is saying and what I can be doing to move on . If I am honest my main friendships are in Kerith Bracknell and I do miss seeing them on Sundays and its not always possible to catch up with them during the week. I loved to just catch a smile off my friends as our eyes met during a worship song or a few minutes at beginning of meeting or a coffee at the end ....but this isn't happening at Sandhurst for me ...YET.... I have made efforts to ask about life groups and how to get into one and begin to be a part of a smaller group but again the main word for that is  YET....I cant at the moment offer to serve as I need to be free for Elisha whilst Cat is not just in hospital as she is at this moment but also so support her until she is completely for serving the word is still ...YET...I look around and to my  old and tired eyes the majority of Kerith Sandhurst are young enough to be my sons and daughters and actually a lot of them are my daughter and hubby's closest friends and altho we chat they are probably not going to want to be our *community * There are several older members who like us will have their main ties still at Bracknell and I guess they too aren't going to be our *community* .

 Simon encourages us all to be friendly....if we want friends to be friendly...go speak to people..ask them who they are..invite them into our homes and lives and I  agree !00% with this but as I explained its not easy in this season of our lives .Many times in the last 4-6 months Chris and I have made arrangements to see things...go places and illness has struck and we have had to pull out or cancel so many times that we are slightly embarrassed and hesitant to make that first tentative offer of friendship again just in case.

But having said all that there is a deep yearning placed inside all of us to be a part of something...something bigger than our own lives...bigger than our own four walls...bigger than the day to day lives we lead and Simon stirred me up again. It may take me a few more days/weeks/months to get to the place where I truly feel that Kerith Sandhurst is our spiritual community and not just the place we go on Sundays but I am determined to press through in this area.

Finally some jumbled thoughts on multi-site that may just be important to me....the actual venue is great... five minute drive from our home...plenty of car parking spaces and only a few yards to walk into building.... tiered seating so no worrying about someone six foot plus sitting in front of me....a sort of wooden footrail that is just the right height to place feet on so you can be comfy....the stage is really close ...and low for me ..the lip reading aspect is fantastic and I never worry now about whether I need get there early to get a good seat as I can see the speaker no matter where I sit. Plus there is something about seeing the * whites of their eyes (!) * that lends a sort of friendly aspect to the worship band and with being able to see and hear the worship leader so well it has brought a new dimension to my ability to concentrate on worship without worrying if I haven't heard properly....the speaker is very close too and its sort of cosy.....esp if it is Simon as he usually sits on his stool so its a little like story time for adults !! The loos are nearby...the coffee area is literally a thirty second walk from auditorium and the childrens rooms ...recently moved into main building ...mean we don't have to even put coats on to drop off or pick up ...bliss...

If you haven't been to Kerith Sandhurst....come along and have a look...if I am able to be there ..come and say hello and be a part of my aim for *community * .

More on this series of preaching will follow in future blogs