Life

Just seeing the word “life” leaves me feeling overwhelmed at the moment. It honestly feels like everything is coming at me from all directions. I feel lost, lonely, overloaded. I’ve tried to see what I can reduce and what I can change but I have responsibilities and for the most part, they don’t and cannot change when I feel this way. 

I read about finding a healthy life balance, but how do we know what that is? Some days I thrive on being busy, yet others my brain just ache’s with exhaustion. Quality of life, life skills, life lessons, life is what we are supposed to be living, but how really do we know what the life we are to lead is supposed to look like. 

I’ve been watching a programme about people who change their lives dramatically, give up the daily nine to five for lives in a wilderness. They lives seem happy, their lives seem content but they are still hard. I guess the place you live does play a part in the life you leave but it’s not the be-all and end-all, its not the answer.

Oh my goodness, sometimes I find these Five minute Friday challenges a step into the rabbit hole, I allow my fingers to type what random thoughts come into my mind. It’s liberating but sometimes scary, I guess I’m not sure where I am in this life at the moment. I know I don’t feel like I am where I should be, yet I also need to trust God has a plan for me. Is it wrong for me to wish he would send it to me in written form?

I guess, I know life is feeling hard right now, I also know that with what I have had to face in the last few months I should give myself a break.

Oh well, life is for learning and maybe this is a period of time I will be able to reflect upon in the future, who knows. 

Five minutes up.  

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It’s ok to be angry.

I am scared of anger, I didn’t or couldn’t allow myself to feel or acknowledge this emotion. Anger is wrong, anger breeds fear, anger can harm. Actually anger can do all of these things but I’ve finally realised that it’s also a valid emotion. That it’s ok to feel this way, it’s ok to be angry.

This may sound strange, but for me the relief in this knowledge has allowed me to breathe deeply. I’m not by nature a person who will rant and rave but for the last 43 years or from when I can remember acknowledging my emotions I have not allowed myself the freedom to be angry.

I know and understand why I dont but have to ever found yourself trying to calm yourself when you have felt hurt, wronged, annoyed this was my life. It was If I allowed myself this emotion I would be in the wrong.

Yet how do you stop yourself being angry, well for me I self blamed. Maybe I didn’t explain myself well enough, maybe I should be more compassionate, kinder, generous, clearer so on and so on. I turned the emotion inwards and believe me when I say that this can be so damaging.
I mean let’s be honest, I’m far from perfect but I am not to blame for everything.

Finally realising that anger has its place in life has been such a relief, allowing myself to feel fully is a freedom I didnt realise I was depriving myself from. I’m not now out there screaming at people but I am allowing myself to feel cross and annoyed. I am valuing my own time, space and actually the right to be. Like all emotions, happiness, sadness, excitement, fear, anger has its place. In a life where one wants to live fully one has to feel fully.

It’s crazy but now at 43 years of age I am still learning more and more about who I am. Life is quite the journey.

Joining in this week with the five minute friday. Pop over and give it a go.

Stop celebrating the numbers.

As a foster carer I love reading articles regarding fostering, those that celebrate both the wonderful people that open their homes and hearts to children in need but also, and maybe more so the amazing children that come into the lives of foster carers like myself. I adore reading about their strength and courage and their innate desire to change their story.

Still there is one thing that really frustrates me about some conversations regarding fostering and this the celebration around the numbers.

Let me explain, only a week ago I read an article about a foster carer who in her life had fostered over 5000 children and whilst the couple are pretty amazing my heart breaks that over 5000 children needed a home.

5000 children worlds were turned upside down, 5000 children were walking again into an unknown out of their control.

In England alone

  • 56,160 children were living with foster families on 31 March 2019.
  • This is 72 per cent of the 78,150 children in care looked after away from home (Department for Education, 2018).

This isn’t a number we should be celebrating.

Don’t get me wrong, whilst I am so thankful and proud to work in foster care it’s one profession where I wish I was unemployed and not needed.

The other reason I struggle with numbers is that some foster carers will never have 5000 children through their doors, not because they don’t work as hard or aren’t as open, but because they foster long term. Take myself I have now fostered for over 10 years and only 4 children have come to me. This isn’t a failing on my behalf it’s because when they come to our family it’s with a plan for a long term stay and in the case of my now adopted son,forever. There are many different streams of foster care, from respite, emergency to short and long term, from a fostering perspective it’s not about the number of children we have but the lives we can impact upon.

Fostering is an incredible job and one I’m incredibly proud of doing but it is hard at times when the numbers are celebrated.

To me, those numbers are hearts, broken scared hearts that crave love and stability. They are vulnerable spirits craving somewhere to call home.

The only time will should be celebrating the numbers is when the number of children needing to be fostered is reduced and when the amount of families kept together and supported is rising. Then I promise I will be celebrating the loudest.

 

Darkness

I’m so tired of ego’s, the desire to be seen as being right is overthrowing compassion, empathy and honesty. I am seeing people building up themselves by tearing down others and my heart is breaking.

Here in the UK we have just faced a general election one which has become the breeding ground for lies, hate speech and vitrol. Division, propaganda and so much more on all sides.

It has felt like darkness has begun to suffocate the country, not because of peoples vote but because of the disrespect of others.

As we more towards the season of light I have to have hope. I have to believe in a brighter future.

I just have to.

Darkness can only win when all light Is removed, I refuse to remove my light.

So I’m moving forward today, with kindness, compassion and determination, we have to have hope and if we cannot find it right now we can be it, I will be it.

Darkness will not win.

1. Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write.

Loving like Livvy

This last November we faced the 11th anniversary of Livvy’s death and as always as we remember, we like to love forward as she would like us to. So this year in Livvy’s memory we donated some sensory boxes to our local children’s ward.

As you know I have spend many days, weeks on this ward with Daniel and one of the things that has always struck me is the need for sensory toys for children like Danny to play with.

It was wonderful to deliver the boxes to the ward and meet with the play specialist but more importantly we have already have feedback from some parents about how their children are enjoying the boxes.

Facing anniversaries are never going to be easy, but paying Livvy’s love forward is something that blesses our heart.

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Also our local hospital has a craft appeal happening right now, being in hospital over Christmas is hard ( believe me I know). So the appeal is for craft supplies to help occupy and give the children some fun. We donated some supplies but the appeal is still happening now.

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Seasons change.

“there is a time for everything

 and a season for every activity under the heavens”

Ecclesiastes 3:1 New International Version (NIV)

I have walked many seasons in my life, and I know one of the longest and hardest of these has been my season of grief.

From the time my daughter Livvy was diagnosed I have grieved for what should have been, the life she should have lived or it in reality the life I had expected, planned, wanted her to live. 

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Then when we lost her 11 years ago, I grieved for her physically, grieved for her missing, her smile, her touch and the blessing of her spirit.

My grief felt like darkness.  

My whole spirit crushed by the pain of missing. 

I didn’t understand the why and I was often angry screaming at the ‘why her.’

This was my season of darkness and no matter how hard I tried to pretend I wasn’t sure I would live a life with light anymore.

Yet Jesus knew. 

My dear friend sent me a link to Christian singer songwriter called Steven Curtis Chapman.  Steven and his wife lost their daughter the same year I lost Livvy. Through his grief he wrote and produced an album called Beauty will rise. This cd, these songs, the words broke through my darkness.  In the midst of my pain I could not see God in my Bible, the words lost as my tears blinded me from his love. Yet in these songs, in the lyrics, hope started to grow once again, and the promise that I could hear in the melody slowly healed my heart. 

One of the songs is called ‘Spring is coming ‘and this week as we have faced 11 years without our beautiful girl, I have held on tight to this. Not because I am waiting on the Spring though this cold weather is already getting to me, because I know the blessing of the new.  I have felt the new life burst inside of me. I give thanks and praise to the changing seasons and the love, the hope and the promise each one brings. 

So today I am sharing this with you, sharing my heart and my journey, because God has asked me to share my story. He wants all to know that he is the light in the darkness. 

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12 New International Version (NIV)

Jesus was and is my light. 

So, if any of you are now struggling in the darkness and if you are feeling the crushing weight of fear, doubt or anger, hold on to the fact that this time is a season and that seasons change. Life is a journey often full of pain and loss believe me when I say I know this but whatever you are facing, know that you are not alone, that Jesus walks beside you. 

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If you had asked me 11 years ago if I would know joy again, I would have said no easily, my heart was broken. I still miss Livvy so desperately and often still fall under the weight of grief but now my heart knows the promise, the promise that one day I will be reunited with her. Yet in this life whilst I walk it without her physically right now, I know that Jesus has great plans for me and joy it does come in the morning, not promising what morning but it does come. 

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So, I just want to remind you that whatever you are facing you are not alone. That you can do this and even in the crushing darkness there will be and always will be a light, the light of Jesus. 

Eleven years and time still continues on.

Sometimes I get angry at time I dont understand how one minute can often seem like lifetime then others fly past like a gush of wind.

You know when you are so excited to go on holiday that the days before your trip seem endless. Then when you are finally away the days just shoot on by.

It seems as if time is often controlled or interperted by our own emotions.

When I was young a year seemed like forever yet now as I am older the years feel like minutes.

I remember when my girls were born, my hopes, my dreams for them all, how they were to grow, learn, love. I never consider time running out on us. Never imagined that one of their journeys would end before mine.

Life played a cruel hand and I lost my Livvy.

Time, oh time, you beautiful, awful thing.

I had nine and a half years with my beautiful girl. Nine and a half years filled with so many special memories but nine and a half years is not enough I wanted my lifetime.

A parent is not supposed to out live their child, it’s as simple as that or so it should be.

Yet the seconds still continue on and the minutes turn into hours and life moves on.

Eleven years, eleven long years since my darling Livvy went to Jesus. I still dont understand why, I only know the how. Eleven years now of moments she wasn’t part of, new memories she was not here to create.

Time they say is a healer I disagree but it has certainly been a teacher.

Over this last eleven years I have had to learn a lot, learn how to live without my beautiful girl, learn how to breathe through the agony of grief, learn how to survive with a missing piece.

Yet most of all time has taught me that still every moment matters.

I was so blessed to have nine and a half years of my beautiful girl, I’m so incredible thankful I have all the memories that I cherish. But I also know that time does go on and that life is a gift and you have to still make the minutes matter.

I know in my heart that Livvy wants me to make my days count. So I’m going to love hard and try to bring some of the joy she brought to me to others.

I want to honour her memory by loving, laughing and living. Livvy is one of my four beautiful girls and whilst I miss her every day I still hear her in her sisters laughter. See her in the sparkle of their eyes. I know she is with us, watching her sister grow, fall in love and make me so proud in all that they do.

I have no doubt that Livvy send Daniel my way, even today talking to his teachers about his mischievous ways there was a moment, a moment when a memory echoed through the school corridor of a blond haired fireball of mischief. A sister leaving footprints for her brother to follow.

I miss my beautiful girl so much but I know how blessed I was and how lucky I still am. One day I will hold my daughter in my arms again and my heart will be whole. Until then my dear Livvy I will love the hardest I possibly can just as you taught me.

Until we meet again, I love you my sweet baby girl. Xxx