Drive

I never imagined I would drive, I come from a family of HGV lorry drivers and after watching them manoeuvre those gigantic machines I simply thought“not me”. The responsibility, the awareness needed all seemed out of my grasp.

It’s easy isn’t it to tell yourself that you cannot do it. That it does not happen to people like you, it’s out of your reach, beyond you.

This is what I thought as I sat in the public library one day, no matter how many notebooks I filled with my stories, poems, songs holding a book I had written in my hand was beyond me. Seeing a book I had written on the bookstore shelf well that didn’t happen to people like me.

Well it did and it has, yesterday my first children’s book was released. I’ve got to hold my dream. I’ve overcome my fear of failure, my fear of not being good enough to hold my story in my hand. To allow the dream of my heart to be realised. My hope printed from my soul.

It’s strange as today feels like a game changer, just like the day I passed my driving test (not HGV’s) and the world became larger for me. Today the world feels a little clearer, my mind a little braver and my heart a little stronger.

No more telling myself what I cannot do or what shouldn’t happen to people like me. Im going to dream and dream big and drive forward with conviction, with belief.

Belief in me.

Joining in with five minute Friday

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. Write, post then link up.

Strong

“Oh she does so well”

“I don’t know how she does it.”

“She is always in control.”

“She is so strong.”

These words are often spoken over me, as a mom who has faced loss then chose to adopt a child with complex needs people seem to think I’m some kind of superwoman, a special heart, so strong. 

I may be all of those things at times but I have allowed these words to stop me opening up, fearful that in my honesty people would see weakness.  

You see there is beauty in strength but choosing to be vulnerable is one of the scariest things we can do. Allowing our hearts to be transparent, now thats hard. 

Yet I often think strength and vulnerability are the same thing. 

Some days I feel far from strong, I find myself hiding in the bathroom as I let the tears fall. I feel the nausea in my stomach as my legs go from underneath me. 

I feel all of this and in this I am strong. 

When my heart beats so rapidly in my chest and I can barely catch a breath, I am strong. 

In the panic and fear I feel, I am strong. 

Yet I still find myself hiding for fear of judgement, fear of weakness. 

How wrong am I? 

You see life is going to be hard, we were never promised anything different but its in the showing up I realise my strength. 

Yes, adoption is hard, but I show up

Grieving is hard, but I show up

Being a medical mama is hard but I show up

Being exhausted from caring is hard, but I show up. 

Being lost in the anxiety is hard but still, I show up. 

I am strong, I am vulnerable, I am a glorious mess of all these emotions. 

Strength isn’t in not breaking, it’s allowing yourself to fall apart in love.

And then showing up. 

I am no longer going to hide under the words spoken over me but I do choose to stop them allowing myself to be honest. 

I refuse to allow the fear of being weak stop me from being vulnerable. 

My weakness is my strength 

In my fear I am strong. 

I show up. 

Writing again in the Five minute Friday link up.

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. 

Why did you want to foster?

I asked on my socials for some ideas of blogs that people would like to me to write and one question asked was “Why did you want to foster? “

So here goes

“Why did you want to foster? “

I think I was 12 years old or maybe 13 as we have moved up into the bigger school and there was a boy in my year who was in my thoughts then a ‘nightmare.’ He was always arguing with the teachers, always late and often coming to school dirty. Then one day he just seemed to stop coming to school, just disappeared until a few weeks later he returned but you could barely recognise him, he was so different, in clothes that fit, clean and seemed so happy and his behaviour in school was really improved. He was trying hard in lessons and actually listening to the teachers. About a week after he had returned, we ended up being partnered up and being the inquisitive (nosey) person I was, I asked him what was different, why he was different? He then told me that he had been moved out of his family home into foster care and whilst he missed his family his life had changed a lot, his foster carers listened to him, cared for him and were worried about him. He told me “That he felt wanted for the first time ever”. This obviously shocked me, I had no idea what his life had been like but the difference in him stayed with me for a long time and as I go older the desire to foster was grown in my heart. I remember telling my husband when I met him, I wanted 6 children and to adopt and foster many more and bless him he stayed around and came along for the ride. 

Obviously 12-year-old me wasn’t going to become a foster carer but after we got married Alan and I enquired into the process and after discussions and Olivia’s diagnosis we decided that maybe when the girls were older, we could foster alongside caring for Livvy. As you all know life did not go as I had planned, in November 2008 we lost Olivia to a rare virus which she had contracted due to her diagnosis of Rett Syndrome. Our hearts were broken and in all honesty our minds were literally trying to make it to the next day. 

Olivia died on November 7th and for what seemed an ironic moment that was the year I had finally got myself organised for Christmas so there sitting in my wardrobe haunting me was the Christmas presents I had brought for my beautiful girl that I was never going to get to give. Practically I knew I could return the gifts for a refund, but I just couldn’t, I had brought these as a gift, so I needed to do that somehow, gift them. So, after an internet search we found our local children’s home and called for a visit to drop off the gifts. 

Turning up at the children’s home was strange, obviously we were still in the midst of grief, but I just felt so sad that homes like this had to exist. I was pleasantly surprised when we got inside and shocked that the home was actually for children with disabilities, I hadn’t realised that when we called. We chatted for a little time with the manager who explained all the fantastic things the children did and what they had achieved but I asked the question why these children weren’t in fostering placements etc. The reason was simply because they struggled to get people to foster children with disabilities, they are fearful which we understood completely it is far from an easy but yet reason this stayed with me, stayed with us. When we returned home, we spoke to our girls about how we had taken Livvy’s presents to the home and how lovely the children were. Our girls’ questions were like ours, “why are they there” “why doesn’t anyone foster them” and the question that came back to a few days later “why don’t we foster them?”  You see fostering had been a family discussion for many years, our girls always knew our hearts and here they were asking us to live our hearts. 

Well let’s be realistic here I was in pain, I was in pain like nothing I had every felt before. I missed Livvy with a desperation I did not know I had. I felt lost, I felt empty. My days stretched endlessly before me, caring for Livvy had been a 24-hour job now I was redundant and just did not know what to do with myself. Yet regardless of my desire to love on those children that needed it, my head wasn’t there. I had to make sure my decision, our decision was made for the right reasons not just to fill an emptiness which that let’s be honest could never be filled. But the desire didn’t fade in fact it began to burn brighter in my soul and my girls well they never let it drop, they came up with a campaign to get us at least enquire about it. So, enquire we did, enquiry led to interviews, interviews led to an application and application led to panel and panel led to approval. 

In September 2009 we were approved as foster carers and it was a fantastic day, the joy of knowing we were going to make a difference really blessed our hearts, yet it was not one which we could really focus on as the very next day we were on our way to meet a beautiful boy that captured our hearts, our very first placement. 

Over the last 12 years we have only had 4 placements as we foster long term and whilst I have to say fostering is a profession it has allowed me to hold hearts in mine. The joy we as a family get from watching a child lead a fulfilled happy life knows no boundaries.  It has not been an easy journey, we have faced pain, a lot of anguish and often felt that maybe it is all too much, but the children, the children whose lives we get to change are worth it. The children we get to love upon are so worth it. 

It is so worth it. 

  • If there is any other subject you want me to cover here on the blog please get in touch.
  • @rebelwithkindness@gmail.com

I would rather lift up than tear down.

I often wonder that when God was handing out empathy he gave me a double dose, you see I often find my heart overwhelmed by things in the world. The sadness, the fear, the loneliness and so much more. There are days where I have to avoid the news because my heart cannot handle it.

For a long time I saw this emotion as weak, I saw the pain that I felt for complete strangers as stupid. But now I know different, extra dose or not I am proud of my tender heart. I admire my willingness to love hard and I cherish my desire to lift up others rather than tear them down.

You see to lift someone up isn’t easy, it would probably be easier to not care, to not bother, to not reach out a hand to pull another to their feet. Yet I don’t think we were supposed to live life easy. It’s in the hard we realise who we are, it’s through the decision moments we decide who we wish to be.

I want to be one who lifts, I want to be one who encourages and I strive to be one who loves.

This world tells us often that we have to be ruthless, that everything is about competition that we have to be the best. Walk over others to reach the top, destroy others to reach your goal. But this narrative is wrong, the joy of celebrating a victory you achieved together will always feel better than a lone success.

Joy is amplified when shared.

In a world that is so torn let’s come together to change this, instead of turning our backs lets reach out and lift up one another. Because a separated society will only breed more sadness and hate. A society that works together can and will achieve great things. Let’s just give it a try.

Gentle?

Oh my goodness when I read the word prompt for five minute Friday this week I just smiled at the irony, gentle on a day that was far from gentle for our saviour.

He was beaten

He was mocked

A crown of thorns placed on his head.

The nails hammered through his hands,

The spear pierced through his side.

Not gentle, not kind, not right.

Yet this man so gentle and kind bore this pain, bore this torture, died for us.

I struggle through Good Friday, I mean how can you find the words to honour this sacrifice. To breathe life into the holiness of the love Jesus had for me. I often find myself looking forward to Easter Sunday excited to celebrate the resurrection. Yet this time inbetween needs to be felt, this closed tomb needs to be understood.

How often in life do we focus on the good that’s coming. A journey is always about the destination, but is it? Shouldn’t we sometimes slow down and view the world that we pass As we start towards our end. Maybe we would see some wondrous sights or maybe not , yet to look is never a waste, to rush is to miss.

So as we sit in this in between time I often think of those that loved Jesus. How did they feel? Did they know without doubt that he would return? Did they trust? What would I have done, I mean I know I will be reunited with my daughter one day but I still grieve. This time in between feels hard. I know that come Sunday the tomb will be empty but this space is hard.

Yet I know without a doubt that I will hold my girl again.

Because of a gentle man who suffered a horrific death

because he loved me.

Jesus the gentle breath than fills my lungs with salvation. From nail pierced hands to my promise of eternity.

Not a gentle love, a saviours love.

Join in with five minute Friday. 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.

It’s not ok that our children died.

Often when we face a loss in our community of special needs parenting, our hearts break alongside those facing the pain. We emphasise with the anger and missing we feel the disbelief and sadness. Myself personally I ache for the pain I know those left behind will feel. Each new loss reopening a wound that is far from healed.

Yet one of the things I still do not understand about loss in the disability community is that from those outside of it, is the feeling that somehow it’s acceptable. That in some way it is less. The concept that a life lived with a disability is not as full as one without.

There is no denying that being part of the special needs community we face loss maybe more than most, the wider our community the wider amount of pain. But that’s our life, we choose to walk alongside one another through the good and the bad. We celebrate the achievements and too often we have to grieve the loss.

Yet often those outside the community do not understand our journey and more often than I would like, do not understand our joy.

Statements like “oh well she had been poorly for a while” “sometimes it’s for the best” or my favourite (irony) “God knows best”.

When Livvy died she had a devastating neurological condition. Her body faced so many obstacles, seizures, abnormal breathing, sometimes uncontrollable movements. Yes, to list her conditions it may seem dire. Yet what the reality was that yes she had this list of issues but what she also had was a life filled with love and laughter. She had a family that adored her, she had parents she wrapped around her fingers. Sisters she teased and played with. Teachers she adored, friends she loved. Her life was full of joy and mischief. She was not her list of conditions. Yet still when I speak of my missing, people speak of her with pity. When I speak of her loss, people speak with acceptance, as if her disability makes her death more ok.

Whilst I know this attitude is meant with kindness I need to share that it’s not. When someone who has a disability dies it’s not ok, it’s not even a little ok. It’s a heartbreaking, soul destroying grief.

You see people are not their disabilities they are simply people. A child with disabilities is simply a child.

So I beg of people, I ask desperately that when dealing with a grieving mother, a broken father a missing family, that before you speak of freedom from pain, limited lives or God’s choices, STOP. Whilst the lives lost may have seemed hard to you, or the disabilities overwhelming those grieving see the little boy whose eyes twinkled as he looked at them. The little girl whose smile lit up the room, their son, daughter, sister, brother. We don’t grieve the disability, we grieve the one we loved and their disability wasn’t what defined them. Our pain is not less and their death is not and never will be acceptable.

Mother’s Day love

Mother’s Day, a day where we come together to celebrate all things that are Mom in whatever form that comes, stepmoms, adopted moms, grandparents being mom and so many more.

Being a mom is one of the hardest jobs in the world. The exhaustion of pregnancy, the labour of delivery, feeding, sleepless nights and so much more but yet it’s often the most rewarding role we will ever get to hold.

It’s tough and this last year has been a real struggle , ‘wow’ is pretty much all I can say about the last 12 months. From home schooling to the deep pit of fear that has been in your stomach since the words Covid 19 were first spoken, it’s been a year.

Still if I wish to challenge all moms a little now in fact probably all parents regardless of gender. What do you think is the one thing that is the hardest to cope with when being a parent?

Exhaustion, worry, finances,

Shall I share what I have placed on my heart this week. What God has wanted me to share with you all.

The hardest thing about being a parent

Expectations

These pesky little things that penetrate our minds and hearts.

I should be

I could be

If only

All turn into

I failed

I’m useless

I’m letting them down.

Now I’m coming to you as a mom of a five so a little experience here and also as professional of therapeutic childcare and I just want to state something here and I really want you to hear me.

You are enough

You are enough.

Our children enter this world with only a few needs, to be fed, to be warm and to be loved. Speaking confidently right now I am sure that each of your children are having those needs met. They are either grown and off living lives that you have encouraged and nurtured. They also could be there in your arms snuggling tight or even kicking out in your precious womb. They could be causing complete mayhem running around the house but all done in the knowledge that ‘they are loved’.

You are enough.

Yet we only have to look back the last 12 months and the changes this virus has brought into our lives. Homeschooling, isolation, exhaustion, fear. How many of use have felt lost, that they are failing?

My hands are right up in the air, me me.

I have watched social media posts of moms with beautiful converted classrooms with their children willingly working away. Houses spotless, make up perfect and I’ve literally cried. I have cried as Daniels homeschooling paperwork fell off the printer for the 15th time, cried as he completely ignored me as I tried to encourage him to work, sobbed at the state of my house and as for being perfectly made up, well I’ve had a shower and I’m saying Amen to that.

You see I couldn’t reach the expectations I had put upon myself and that’s ok. Because Covid 19 or not, being a mom is hard.

We mess up, we lose our temper and we suck at patience some days. Because motherhood didn’t come with super hero powers just the responsibility.

Anyway where am I going with this, well I’m leading to something I have personally took a long time to learn.

You don’t have to do this life alone.

As friends and family we are there to walk alongside one another. Reach out to friends, not only those at your stage at life. We have a wide breathe of generational wisdom to tap into.

But most importantly

Reach up, reach out to Jesus and ask him to walk alongside you. Ask for wisdom, hope and a big one for me, for patience.

Ask him to free you from the lies of the enemy that you are not enough. Free you from the untruth binding of expectations. To be beside you as you raise the next generation and to guide you as you walk this pathway of parenthood.

I ask you to look now at your child or if they are not with you bring them into your mind. As your heart swells of the love you feel for them as the love you have warms you to your very core, I want you remember.

I want you to remember

“We love because he first loved us.”
1 John 4:19

He loved us first,

He loved us first.

Remember that Jesus loves us as we love our children, that warmth you feel for your children he feels for you. He loves you to your very core.

and I want you to say this loud

“we are enough. “

I am enough.

We love our nurses

Can I tell you something, it was something I knew before I had ever heard of Covid 19. It was something I was sure of before the nightly clapping, it was something I believed in before the rainbows flooded the country.

Nurses are incredible.

So many times I have cried on the shoulders of nurses.

So many times have my children been hugged and comforted by nurses.

Too many times has it been a nurse that translated between me and a Doctor.

Forever and some has a nurse supported me on my journey.

I don’t understand the government right now, the mighty warriors who held our frontline are being mocked and patronised. “It’s all we can give” being lost in falsehood contracts and unusable PPE.

Bonus’s for individuals who profiteered through a crisis. Yet a poor meal deal offer for those who gave it all.

Why we were being asked to stay home they were being asked to do more. Covered shifts, move wards, exhaustion, fear overcome by duty.

Yet even before the wards filled with the virus nurses stood by our sides. Yet our chosen government turns their backs once more.

Strikes, industrial action more and more damage to an already exhausted gift. NHS in crisis can only fall at the entrance of one door.

Please Prime minister you talk about the saviours as you laugh behind their backs. You want the country back to normal yet humiliate the builders.

We will not sacrifice the NHS at the alter of Capitalism. We will fight tooth and nail.

The fight that no one has the energy for yet one we cannot afford to lose. A country without the NHS is a country no one wants part of. A service without nurses cannot continue.

Mr Prime Minister, go back to the ward you were on. The ICU unit that healed you, go back now and stand before them with your soggy sandwich, packet of crisps and fizzy drink and you say thank you, thank you for my life and then hand them your measly 1% and ask yourself truly, is this enough.

It isn’t.

What if you are wrong?

Right now I am tired, tired of the opinions of those who think they know best. Tired of armchair experts ripping apart years of work and dedication from scientists worldwide. Tired of hearing ‘Liberty over life’.

I guess you could say I’m tired.

The thing is it’s ok, it’s ok for you feel this way and to have this opinion, I celebrate free speech at its best. Still free speech doesn’t come without consequences and right now all I can see is free speech at its worst.

I was once told by a Doctor “what if”

I was apologising for being a little over anxious with Daniel. For getting him checked out a little early than needed. Only for the Doctor to put his hand on mine and say “what if”. What if you hadn’t of brought him in and it was that sodium issue you feared, what if those chest noises was pneumonia, what if, what if.

So right now everyone and their dog, parrot, chinchilla has their opinion on Covid 19, it’s a myth, a government conspiracy, something we just have to learn to live with. All things I definitely disagree with and to what I answer “what if”. Yet what is really bugging me now is the false propaganda of the vaccine “Beam me up Scotty” being only one of the few theories I’ve heard. I again question you “what if?

Now don’t get me wrong I’m not telling anyone they should get the vaccine, my personal opinion is ‘get in the line’ but my decision is mine and I was so grateful to receive mine a few weeks back. Yet if I am asked by another for advice I point them towards the experts, the scientific community who have dedicated their lives to the study of diseases etc. People who know their stuff. I’m not an expert.

Yet I am finding myself seeing so many people on forums, Facebook pages , seeing parents especially being attacked for their decision to vaccinate and want to get their child vaccinated. Again I cry out “what if”. What if the fear of your judgement stops that person getting vaccinated and they then pass the virus on to their family. What if Grandpa Joe cannot fight the virus, auntie Katie, cousin bill etc etc.

What if.

What if people start listening to the pseudo science of false theories and harmful articles spreading it to the extent that more lose their lives “what if”.

I love this world, our creative, imaginative, far reaching minds. The uniqueness of each of us is to be celebrated. Yet please, free speech is not free if it causes harm to others. I don’t challenge your opinions, they are yours to own what I do challenge is that before you spread them far and wide you ask yourself What if.

What if .

With more…

Our God is a resurrection God. We believe in the resurrection of Jesus so we need to believe in the resurrection of our world, our country our people. 

Dont waste this time praying for what you had, pray for what you want your future to hold.

What has this time of fear, trouble, disease taught you?

What have you learned about yourself?

Are you going back into a job that you love, will you go back with renewed vigour? Will you look for a job that will fulfil you more?

When your children go back to school, will they go back with a more intense desire to learn, will you as their parents understand their way of learning better, be better advocates for them with a renewed understanding.

Have you learned of what you really need to survive? What is truly valuable in your life or maybe more importantly who is valued.

Will you understand yourself more, cherish your time more?

So often in life we forget that we live with the gift of resurrection. That we have the promise of more. So many right now will be heartbroken and believe me when I tell you I understand the pain of lost so deeply, so raw as if it was yesterday but I hold on to the promise of forever, the promise of our every tear being cherished.

May we come through this awful time and strive to live with more clarity, more truth, more time, more love and more hope.