Didn’t know it was gone till it returned

I know I journeyed through some stuff over the past 3-4 years, and it has kitty20high20res1been a challenge, but I have thought I was getting stronger. What I didn’t realise, until I got it back, was how much my confidence had taken a battering. Mind you as I look at it I do wonder if I was ever a confident person. I put things on my blog because its easier than saying it to people. And at times I have been quite controversial!

How did I notice this? Well I started work in a local college as a learning support assistant, with a team that had been there for a long time who knew I was only going to be there until the end of the term, and I got taken seriously, what I had to say was valued, and not just that they expected me to input and give feedback. It made me realise that I had lost confidence not so much because of what had happened but by the way people reacted to me. So how did I notice that I had more confidence? Well I offered to read someone’s daughter’s psychology degree essay and when I’d done the mum said that it was nice to have it read by someone intelligent, and confidenceinstead of saying some put down about myself I said yes I am. Also I was in a play at our church and the compare did, what I thought, was a poor introduction and so instead of just sitting back and thinking it I told him so, in a gentle way. And I didn’t blush or make it into a joke which I would have done before.

But you see the thing that has struck me is that I didn’t realise that I needed to have a confidence boost and the team I was working with were not doing what they did for me at all. They were just being them.

The thing that has struck me is how I have got something that I didn’t know I needed and got it from people just being themselves. So I want to white-blank-page-sketch-book-pen-24674827thank my team for being themselves. I want to say how pleased I am to feel an inner strength of confidence that I didn’t even though I needed. And I am also pleased that I didn’t know I needed it until I got it!

Wonder what things I’m going to get in 2016 that I didn’t know I needed. Interestingly I’ve been doing a piece with “Abbey of the Hearts” about asking for a Word for 2016 and what I got was:

Blank Page – Wait patiently for it to be written. DO NOT start to plan and fill it.

Enjoy the empty days

For me, with this realisation of regain confidence that I didn’t know I needed, this Word says that instead of thinking and planning and working it out I just need to sit and let God come with what He has and let Him fill it.

 

(Interestingly in this my fresh meat man Tony of Wiltshire County Fayre has asked if I will consider doing his newsletter once I’ve moved; which he will pay for. So already something is coming. But I need to be careful that I think don’t try to second guess that the other things might be.)

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Tis the Season …. To send Newsletters

At this time of year everyone sends round their family or ministry news. Its that time of year … to catch up on news. My inbox is becoming quote-kind-guardian-readers-have-been-forwarding-me-round-robin-christmas-newsletters-for-simon-hoggart-13-46-81inundated with various newsletters and I am being no exception. After I have written this post I will send our newsletter to everyone in my contacts list – well almost. Not to those companies that I email but to all those who are sort of friends even if I have not spoken to them all year. And for some it will be just old news rehashed because we’ve been in contact.

Why do we do it? For me, I started sending my newsletters back in

fdts_students
This was my team back in Sept 2001

Christmas 2001 when I was on mission with YWAM (Youth with a Mission) in Scotland. The reason I did it was, for one, because everyone else on the team was doing it. They were Americans and well into technology and support raising. I had my own computer but hadn’t really got into it all at that stage, and was not into the whole support raising. In fact I was a bit unsure of how to share myself and what I and the kids were up to. We were having a blast and getting other people to support us. Awesome! How do you put that in a letter? Also back then very few people I knew had email addresses and so I had to ask someone to print it off for me and post it onward. Also that was how I was told you did it then – part of the support stuff was to have a point person who would do the actual sending of things. Actually I can understand that for the Americans but for myself, well actually it was a bit lazy really, or so I felt.

Well now I probably email over 100 people and print off less than half a dozen. I was going to say I have never liked the whole Christmas card stuff but in fact I do remember sending over 50 at one time. I think I like people to know what I’m up to. I also like to know what others are up to and so I get a bit disappointed when I don’t hear back from people, though of course the hundreds of newsletters may never get read properly but I do like them.

So anyway I am adding in my 2015 Christmas newsletter for anyone who checks out my posts on FB and would really love to hear back.

Merry Christmas

It’s that time of year for being a recap on what we’ve been up to and tell others about it. There is loads and loads of news of things that have gone on this year but one thing is just taking over from all the other things that have happened – WE’RE MOVING!!!

From what started as a joke, a dream, a nice idea, became a reality in September. It had been a dream for a few years, then became a bit of a silly idea in the early summer and then at the end of September we went house hunting and it became a reality. Our dream is to be able to offer space and hospitality to people and so being able to buy a six-bedroomed house with 3 reception rooms in North Wales for the same price as our house in Bradford on Avon releases us to do this. Our hope it to be able to have regular lodgers and Airbnb guests and friends and family come to stay and visit, and also for Ben and Tabitha to have room to come and bring their friends, partners, etc with them too. We are also hoping that by having an income from paying guests we will be able to have time and space to pursue our own interests. We have made sure there is space for us to have our own offices; for Diane to write, be creative and pursue ideas for working for herself in the creative industry, for Ian to pray, be creative, and maybe go back to exploring working for himself. So we are moving to 6 Sea Road, Abergele LL22 7BU towards the end of January 2016. Here’s a link to the house on Rightmove.co.uk http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-36194364.html

Here are just the highlights of those goings on in the year –

Airbnb – In March we became part of the Airbnb community, renting out the larger of the children’s bedrooms to guests. We have met some wonderfully interesting people from many different nations, and did also gain a regular lodger from it: a businessman who often works in the area who has now stayed with us 5-6 times. It was through these guests that we rediscovered our love for hospitality again but also the realisation that our present house was too small for us to really enjoy the experience.

Ben – joined the army on his birthday only be invalided out at the end of his 28 days induction due to a problem with the collar bone he broke back the previous year which had not healed properly. He will be having surgery on it in early 2016 and will then decide what he is going to do; whether try for the army again or go in a different direction. So in April, after being discharged, Ben decided he would like to continue living in Cornwall for the time being, got himself a room in a shared house, a job at a local outdoor/sports shop and has been involved in the local rugby team as well as doing lots with a kayaking group in Truro. Though he is talking of moving to north Wales with us after he has had the operation on his collar bone.

Tabitha – finished her second year at Middlesex university well and was back in Bradford on Avon from mid-May to end of September and spent most of her summer working in a café on the far side of Frome. This meant lots of taxiing for Diane taking Tabitha back and forth to work but also gave Diane the opportunity to use the swimming pool connected to the café complex and to catch up with friends in that area. Tabitha is now completing her third year at university and enjoying the design aspect of her Theatre Arts BA.

Diane – did some tutoring at the start of the year, 4 hours per week, for a twelve year old girl who had just come out of main stream schooling. This gave her the impetus to apply for other jobs and since October has been working as a learning support assistant with foundation students at a local college. Because of taking this post she is already signed up with an agency in North Wales that employs learning support assistants and teaching assistants in the various schools and colleges there. She has had some great trips with the Interweave Reconciliation group she is part of, the March gathering being very much reconciliation with God for many of the group and then in November a trip to Dublin to pray into the coming centenary of the Easter Rising.

Ian – has been away with friends climbing in Europe as well as a work trips to China and Europe, as well as trips kayaking in the UK. He also completed and passed his Mountain Leadership qualification, meaning that moving to North Wales will make it easier for him to be able to use this in various outdoor areas. He has just been accepted in a position at Bangor University writing software that will help with research into Alzheimer’s. It will be 4 days per week and comes with plenty of holiday which will give him time to explore other directions too.

The animals – are coming with us to Abegele, apart from the only chicken we still have left who is going to retire to a farm in Devizes to finish her days there. She has stopped laying and the rest of the ones we bought with her have died but she has learned to fly and surprised one of our Airbnb guests by fluttering up to him ad trying to take his cigarette away from him when he was having a smoke in the garden.

Renly – has been enjoying his trips to Wales with us and has also been up to London a few times with Diane to visit with Tabitha. In fact trips on trains or in the car are something he really enjoys, especially if there is a beach or Tabitha or Ben waiting at the end for him. Though he is finding it a bit hard being left three days a week when Diane is at work so Ian has changed his day off to fit in around that so Renly does only get 2 days “home alone”.

So this is just a snapshot of our year. There is so much more on our facebook pages and on Diane’s blog www.aspirationaladventures.wordpress.com that would never have fitted on 2 pages of A4, so please feel free to join us there, if you don’t already.

Love and blessings to everyone

Ian and Diane

plus Ben and Tabitha – and of course the animals XX

Change!

changeNo one likes change. Really that is the truth. Some people say they like change. I would say that about myself, but in reality I’m ok if I’m the one orchestrating the change. I like to know that the change is mine. I’ve been really frustrated with the changes made to WordPress because I knew how to do things before and now I’m not so sure. It all takes longer.

With our move we’ve had many different reactions but some have been angry negative reactions to people not liking the fact that we are changing change-4-1imepycsomething, changing something they are familiar with. I got cross at first until I realised how upset I get when other people change. My husband is struggling with our change more than I am, which actually is good because he is then more aware of how others are coping. I am ok with our change. In fact I’m quite excited. I’m looking forward to a bigger bedroom, a room to call my own, more than one toilet, etc. Yes there are things I’m nervous about but in an excited sort of way. I then find it hard to understand how everyone can’t just be pleased for us.

“The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change -”

Heraclitus

Which sits as comfortably with us all really as “there is no certainty in life but death.” We don’t really want things to change and we don’t want to fish escape conceptdie. Or rather we don’t want other people to change and we don’t want other people to die.

There are people who embrace change and want it continuously change, though again many of these are people who don’t want others to change. And so, as I get older and realise that I like constants in my life, I have to accept that even those who love me don’t like to see me change – or rather don’t want me to move and have a different life than they are use to.

And you know what I can feel for them because much as I like to change when-the-winds-of-change-blowand do things differently I would rather appreciate it if they would stay in the same house, in the same job, doing the same thing so I can slot into their lives as I always do.

Listening

Whilst away on a recent Interweave week one theme that kept reoccurring was “listening” and the whole theme of really listening properly. Or maybe it was just the word I caught hold of. It then jumped at me again when a friend told me about “listening prayer”, as in instead of praying for others after a quick intro from the person asking for prayer the people offering prayer spend time really listening to what the person wants. This can take up to an hour before the group will then pray and lots of questions are asked.

So do we listen? I mean really listen – to each other, to God, to ourselves, to what is going on. I have been interested to note during this moving process how often people latch on the the idea that we are moving to run a Bed and Breakfast establishment, when in fact we are talking about a hospitality house – which yes will have paying guests but it will be more than that. But it is like people just half listen and latch on to the words they understand.

Also what struck me was someone who said to me, after we’d listened to someone talking who didn’t ask about us, “but I used up head space planning what I was going to say.” How often when we are listening to others are we in fact planning what we are going to say next? Either about ourselves or sorting out something that hasn’t been said/doesn’t need sorting? Again I noticed talking to a friend who she had picked up certain things I’d said that she could then talk about but missed others – that in fact I would have liked to have talked about.

When we pray do we really  listen to God or do we just want to talk? To give our list of things we want Him to do? Or even just so we can say our piece? Surely prayer should be a time to listen because how can we do the will of God if we aren’t listening to what He has to say to us? Maybe this is why some prayers don’t get answered because actually God never said He we were to ask for that.

How many places do we get taught to listen? Really listen? And how often does it get modelled? As children we are expected to listen to parents, teachers, etc but these people then talk all over the children, so real listening isn’t modelled. When I did an Introduction to Counselling course one of the first things we were taught was to listen to what our clients were saying and then reflect back again. It slowed the whole process down, made both sides think a bit. The client had to think through what they were really saying. It stopped being just words.

Being listened to brings healing. One of the things with the Using Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes was to read back what you had written so that others could hear it. So healing comes through being listened to and that means listening to ourselves as well. So often we rush through our days not listening to ourselves. I am doing a course at the moment with The Gift of Writing and that involves slowing things down and listening to oneself.

Healing comes through speaking, writing, songs, poems, stories – the writing and reading of, the identifying with and journeying with. It is so great to real hear or read a piece of writing, a song, poem, someone speaking that resonates with where you are personally, that says “you are not alone in this”, to connect with someone else’s journey.

But also not being clearly heard brings a sense of alienation. Being told that someone “understands” when the person speaking wants to shout “no you don’t understand” cause that person, or nation, to close into itself to become prideful and alienated, to think that if someone doesn’t understand and is telling them what to do that they don’t really want to help, want to mould them into their own image.

I am not innocent of this. I catch snatches of what is said and decided that I know best in what they want, especially if I am tired or busy. My husband and I had to have a row to clear the air and really hear each other but that was because we were too busy and too much had been going on. As with the counselling where the conversation becomes slowed down so we must in our regular lives slow things down.

And maybe a radical thought – with nations that are warring, even ISIS we need to slow things down, stop jumping to conclusions and listen to what is being said. This is not to condone the atrocities but to try to understand, try to heal. I know this is different but I work with dysfunctional kids and they often get into fights, violent fights, but often it isn’t the person they are fighting with that they are angry with but a parent, a situation, themselves. We don’t have time or space in the day to listen to them so have to make judgements and so the hurt perpetuates, they withdraw and pride steps in.

Let’s slow things down please!

Really?

I started a blog post with this quote below, wrote for nearly half an hour then some how it all vanished. The fascinating bit was that it was all about asking God to give us tasks too hard for us to cope with so that we come back to Him! Hummm!! But now I will fill my post full of Eleanor Roosevelt quotes 🙂

Eleanor Roosevelt

“Our Father, who has set a restlessness in our hearts and made us all seekers after that which we can never fully find, forbid us to be satisfied with what we make of life. Draw us from base content and set our eyes on far-off goals. Keep us at tasks too hard for us that we may be driven to Thee for strength. Deliver us from fretfulness and self-pitying; make us sure of the good we cannot see and of the hidden good in the world. Open our eyes to simple beauty all around us and our hearts to the loveliness men hide from us because we do not try to understand them. Save us from ourselves and show us a vision of a world made new.”

So I will still post the quote and try to remember some of what I wrote. I don’t know about other bloggers but once I’ve written it is like its gone from my brain!

It was to do with being challenged about our move to Wales and being asked if either I was running away from the pain of the last 3+ years and then also I was “truly healed” to  be able to go,  and me feeling like I would never be truly healed but that that was ok. That I want to be up for leaning on God not on being totally healed.

We are not going to open this house to others so that they come and give us what we want to get healed. We want to open our home to others so that through our experiences and our scars we can show others that life isn’t hopeless. It’s not even to heal but to encourage, to give hope, vision and purpose. It’s about learning to live with the scars of life not to feel sorry for ourselves but to show we can keep going, can still not just dream dreams but make them happen, to show that there is life beyond.

To quote Richard Rohr:

The huge surprise of the Christian revelation is that the place of the wound is the place of the greatest gift. Our code phrase for this whole process is “cross and resurrection,” revealing that our very wounds can become sacred wounds, if we let them.

And this is the thing, we want to let our scars become sacred wounds that God can use to bring something to the rest of the world. Ok so maybe not the rest of the world but those people He will bring across our path. And not for us to heal them because the task is to big for us, and we have learned that, but for Him to do as He wills with each one of them.

So we take our scars, our far off goals, our restlessness and we let God have it all as we continue on this journey – not just to Wales but to all that He has for us. We are not healed, a long way from it, but we moved into a deeper relationship with God not based on what we do or what He does but on who we are and who He is.

Homosexual Issues

Couldn’t find one with two women

I have been noticing something regarding issues that people have where it goes to court regarding homosexual issues; it is more often than not involving two men. At times there are issues with two lesbian women but that is often to do with the patriarchy of the child that one of them gave birth to. I wonder if as a society there are more issues with two men having a relationship together than two women. There are many pornographic films which involve two women having sex together targeted at a heterosexual audience, but if there are ones with two men then they are not targeted at a heterosexual audience.

A woman is waiting for a man to lead her

Queen Victoria was asked to sign a bill making homosexuality illegal she was more than happy to do this for male/male relationships but not for female/female relationships and has been cited as informing her minsters that they were being silly to even suggest that a woman would not want a man in her life. I wonder if society, deep down, still feels that way – seeing male/male relationships as wrong and unnatural but seeing female/female relationships as just a phase that they will grow out of. Homosexual men need to be sorted out, dealt with, kept away from society, but women are to be loved till they “get over it.” Mind you I know a lot of Christian thought that sees homosexuality as “unnatural” and have places where men can go to be “healed” of their unnatural tendencies. – NB I do not think like that and I cannot believe God thinks that way either.

Not so long ago in certain part sof US it was illegal for blacks and whites to marry

I am not saying that to even things up we need to see as many headlines about female/female relationships that rock the status quo but I do wonder if society is still in the place of thinking male/male relationships are abhorrent and female/female ones are just a phase. Mind you I do wonder if even in our so-called liberal society we still have ideas of what is normal and what isn’t – even down to the age difference between couples, the age they should marry, what is too much, too little, who should be older/younger, what sex they should be, how many partners they should have, etc. It is crazy.

Our society is lying to itself that it is liberal. Only when it can look at all loving relationships equally, I think, can we truly say we are liberal, but also only then can we say we truly know and love God. See I don’t think God is bothered what one’s sexual orientation is but is concerned about how loving and kind and supportive we are to each other – whether we agree with their way of life or not!

Where were you … ?

I’ve just read a post asking “Seven/Seven: Where were you?” and also today was talking with mother of the girl I tutor about remembering where we were when … and listed various events that we remembered and talked of what we remember about where we were.

I commented on the “Seven/Seven: Where are you?” post and said:

I will always remember where I was on 7/7/2015. I was at home in Frome, home educating my daughter. My son had gone to college that day in Radstock. We were really engrossed in something when suddenly we both said “let’s put the radio on”. Neither of us will ever know why but we listened with shock as the reports unfolded. We are Christians and we just prayed and cried.

But also I remember clearly where I was when the Twin Towers were hit –

We were in our first week of our Family DTS in Paisley Scotland. I think it was the first time I’d left my kids for with someone to teach them since I’d taken Ben out of school. Us adults were in a church hall about 2 miles from the main house. Our base leader came in (the days before everyone had mobile phones) and said there was dreadful news. It unfurled slowly. We were on our faces in prayer. It was not just an awful time nationally but for me it was an awesome time realising the things I could pray and the strength I could pray with.

The death of Princess Diana is neither so deep or so inspiring.

We were living in Belfast. We had been there for about 10 months. I was helping out in the Sunday school at the church we had been attending for maybe 8 months. Someone came in and said “Diana’s been killed in a car accident.” Everyone looked sad. I didn’t say anything. I presumed this was someone they knew, someone who attended the church. I remember racking  my brains to think of any Diana’s I’d known. Thankfully I kept quiet and didn’t embarrass myself.

But it also brings back memories of where I was when I hear of things closer to home –

  • when I heard my Dad’s voice on my answer phone and I knew something serious had happened – my sister had drowned.
  • when my husband phoned from our friend’s house to say that friend had succeeded in hanging himself.
  • my Dad bursting into tears in the first ever house I owned to say my Mum had left him for the second time.
  • the colour of the train we were on when we picked up the message from my husband to say his dad was dead

These are a list of events where I can see and smell how things were, that have stayed seared in my brain, where everything is still so vibrant, where something has been capture. A moment in time. And yet there was a prompt on a

Did my childhood kitchen look like this?

Linkedin group I’m part of which this morning said “write imagine your 5-6 year old self and write about the kitchen in your family home.” I couldn’t remember. I know I’ve moved a lot as an adult but as a child we only lived in four different homes and I can only really recall the third house, where I lived from 10-16. I only remember the fourth house because I visited it twenty years after I’d moved out because new friends were living in it. How can I see snapshots for vividly and yet not remember even something vague from a place I must have gone in to over a thousand times?

It is said that memory is an odd thing and that we shouldn’t trust it that much. What is truth may not be fact. Yet those things etched in my brain that I have mentioned above I am sure that they are really true, that they really were like that. In fact there are certain

Maybe this just says it all from http://www.theyoungadultcaregiver.com

words or phrases that can send me right back there. Though I wonder if I spoke to others who were there whether their truth is the same as mine?