hanging on for dear life…


This is what I see

I wanted to write a short story based on this picture, but I lacked the courage! I noticed the couple first, then the graffiti, then wondered what the buildings were further down the street, are they shops? They certainly look inviting, whatever they are. Then I looked at the couple again, but then I looked away, as in embarrassment,  as though I was staring at something private. To me they look like they are clinging on for dear life, time has stopped, all they are aware of is each other.

Gate-crashing a private moment

I haven’t ever felt like this… not as fully anyway. Somewhere near it recently, though not the real deal, as the feelings have faded. I cannot get the picture of the couple out of my head. It was some time before I noticed the ground they were on was actually steps. They almost look pretty. I briefly wondered how long it would take me to descend them, if I passed the couple. I can’t shake the feeling of looking in on a private moment. It’s almost a PDA (Public display of affection. I HATE PDA’s, for the record.) Everyone else in the picture looks as though they are going about their business, tourists on the other side, deciding where to go, what do first. Still I cannot forget about the couple.

The picture makes me…

Looking at them makes me feel wistful. A bit wistful that I wish I had what they have, but mostly because more than one friend I considered myself close to has recently found The One and with the exception of one, haven’t seen the other for ages. They were, are, friends I relied on partly because they’re ace and I loved them to bits, partly because they were sympathetic to my semi-housebound state and would visit gladly, and often.I’m having to readjust my feelings, make other friends, find other ways of coping. Does that mean I relied on them too much? This doesn’t necessarily mean I am lonely, it just means I miss them, LOADS. When I wrote about my friends last year, two of them were most definitely in that group. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy for them, I absolutely am. Which I why i am leaving them all alone for the most part, to get on with it, and missing them from a distance. Sometimes, I leave a voice-mail, and sometimes I suggest meeting. Mostly, it doesn’t help with missing them, but hoping this feeling will fade. Of course, I’m also hoping it’s my turn one day, as I wrote in an earlier post. For now, I will let the people in this picture get on with their day, and I will go back to mine, leaving the couple in the picture to enjoy their embrace in peace.

p.s. It also makes me want a holiday somewhere in Western Europe. Definitely time to go back to my day!

This post is in answer to the ‘Weekly Writing Challenge’. If this picture inspires you, why not write your own post, I’d love to read it!



Today’s daily prompt is as follows:

Your home is on fire. Grab five items (assume all people and animals are safe). What did you grab? 

This is a poignant one for me because a friend had to move out of they’re house a few months ago due to a fire in the downstairs part of the house. That and the fire station at the top of the estate is closing down. Oh, And I once set the grill on fire as I couldn’t retieve the toast quick enough! I managed to put that out myself, fortunately.

As soon as I started to think about what I would grab my emotions started fighting with my emerging practical side! I decided… wheelchair charger (for obvoius reasons,) handbag (is this cheating?! Either the fleece blanket from the end of the bed or my dressing gown, as either is equally comforting and both were presents from this christmas or last. Two left… bible, rather than kindle, and one more… phone charger probably!

No sentimental items for me, as I don’t take a lot of photos, and so don’t have much on the walls, some pictures and a calendar  none particularly sentimental, and no photo albums. I’d have to leave tatty behind, though he could fit in my pocket. ‘Tatty’ is a small teddy bear from a carer, who is amazing, and lovely and beautiful and has now left to go travelling. Oh dear, the list is growing, think I’ve missed the point of the prompt, somehow. Okay, over to you, what 5 items would you grab and why?

Book Review: Standing up for James by Jane Raca

Jane Raca has written the book she would have liked to have read in the weeks and months following her son’s traumatic birth. Her son James was born at 25 weeks, (three weeks earlier than I was). James suffered catastrophic brain damage which left him with autism and very severe cerebral palsy, among other things. Instead of being supported as she might have expected and certainly deserved, Birmingham City Council failed to provide her family with even the most basic care, never doing a core assessment which would have ensured the needs of James parents and siblings were met as well as his needs too. However, “nothing happened” An oft repeated phrase, which meant Jane’s health and emotional needs were ignored, as well the emotional needs of her other children, and her marriage also buckled.

Two things shine out of this book: Jane’s love for James, and her son’s massive personality. I urge you to read this book, whoever you are: social work student, parent of a child with special needs, or just someone interested in their story. You will laugh lots, I can promise you that, it’s a very funny book. As well as cataloging the failures of the council and  chronicling her fight for appropriate provision for her son’s needs, Jane considers the ethical and moral issues at stake when children such as James are saved at all costs, and the implications of this for hospitals, local authorities and families themselves. You will laugh, cry, get angry and laugh some more. Go, on, buy it, you know you want to!

incidentally, Birmingham City Council have failed adults with disabilities and their families too. Several major charities took them to court in 2011 for changing their eligibility criteria (the circumstances in which care should be provided) from substantial and critical needs, to caring for those with critical needs only.  If Leeds City Council were to do this, the likes of me would not have any care provision at all. Fortunately, Birmingham City Council Social Care were judged to be unlawful, so they lost the court case and had to rethink their whole poThere are indeed currently many concerns surrounding social care which have been newsworthy of late, and new problems will continue as council budgets are further squeezed, especially when the Independent Living Fund (ILF) closes in 2015. This was a fund which provides money for care for those with the most severe needs effectively topping up money provided by social serves. This has been deemed too expensive. N.B. care is expensive! As a starting point, go and read Standing up for James!


When I get to Heaven…

When I get to heaven, what will I see? Who will I see? Where will I be, and who will I want to talk to first? The first bit’s easy of course. There is only one face to look for, to see out, and when I see Him to fall flat on my face. “My child, he will say… at last, we meet”. Many times, I came oh so close, but You decided I wasn’t ready. The time You call me though, then I will be ready, perfectly ready, then I truly will be home. No more watching, waiting, wondering, just peace, and rest, and joy. For all I don’t know what I will see, I know there will be lots of light, and air, and space, lots of joy and laughter, and yes, I imagine there will be singing, of course, hymns of praise to Jesus, for without Him we would all be lost. This is the place that He had gone before us to prepare. I don’t believe though that all we’ll do is float on clouds all day and sing. No, I reckon there will be far more to heaven than that. Busyness, and industry, lots of work to be done. Everyone will have His or Her own job to do. Finally, I will be able to work, I will have a purpose only I can fill, just like here, but I will finally have the energy to work.

Not only will I work, but there will be nothing my new body cannot do. I will not walk, I will run in freedom for the first time. Not only will I walk, I will dance. Not a waltz, not a two-step, but jive and quick step and tango, keeping up with every step, no pain, only joy. No need to coax my body into even one of the steps. It will just know what to do, fluidly and fluently, in perfect time to the music. Oh there will be music, of course there will be. Every kind and type of instrument and type of music you can think of. I bet I know who will be heading up the orchestra and leading the dancing: King David!

You and me, Jesus, finally we get to dance. Dancing, twirling, twirling, as though no-one was watching, (as the song goes…) Me, beautiful, wearing the finest dress… once had to cover all scars, bags and wheels, and now all of that is no more. Gone, in an instant, the second before I left the earth. You only see me. Created, as I am, in your image.  You and me, nothing else matters. Crown on my head, and jewels on my writs, sparkling as we dance, twinkling in the light

I see only what matters. All around me is vivid. The dewy grass, beauty all around me, the space, the air, the sun. People all around us joining in, even people who before, had never walked, even imperfectly, or who had lost the ability to. All restored to how You intended it. It will never rust, spoil or fade. And all of it will all be worth it! So very, very worth it.


Witten for the “Weekly writing challenge“, and adapted from an earlier post.

Scotland, the farm, and the common denominator

I find the prompt for this post post is interesting, to write the first word that comes into my head, when I see the words home, soil, and rain. It suprised me very much that when I thought of home, it was Scotland that came to mind, not where I now live. It’s been a long time since I was up in Scotland… in fact, I am struggling to think when I was last there. I think it was perhaps a little over a year ago. I was supposed to be there in a few weeks, but I will have to delay it for a few weeks at least.

It is no surprise to me that I thought of the farm as soon as I saw the word ‘soil’ as I used ti volunteer for the horticulture project, and spent many hours pushing seeds into soil or cleaning old pots for reuse. I miss the volunteering, but not the soil. Conversely, I wish I had more of a garden than the one strip of soil outside my window.

‘Rain’ or rather the frequency and volume of rain is one of the few things my birthplace and current home have in common. Years ago when I moved to my current city, rain used to much reduce my homesickness. Indeed, I would be quite pleased if the sky were to pour now, and clear away the snow!

Dancing Queen

At first, I had some difficulty thinking of a particular skill for today’s daily prompt. Then it hit me. I have always always I want to be able to dance. I remember school discos in embarrassment. Scottish country dancing practice in physical education was much worse as I was forced 2 dance with my 121 helpers when the whole thing was difficult enough. This was a reminder of just how uncoordinated I was. On top of that none of the boys would dance with me.
This didn’t change much as I got older. While I was at university I went to so many ceilidhs that to my surprise, I I began to learn steps. The encouragement of most of the boys was an added bonus. Each time I danced with on ofthem often they would slow their pace and tell me I was doing great. Meanwhile, the other girls would be spun around at breakneck speed, often hurtling to the floor, resulting in ‘Chinese burns on their arms.
Many years have passed and I have gradually forgotten the steps. Fortunately occasions when I need them are few and far between these days. I would still love to be able to dance properly. Several years ago I was at a conference where there was a teenage dance group. One of the girls was partially disabled as a consequence of physical abuse. However, she danced so fluently and with such skill that you soon forgot her disability and l was left awestruck. Her perfomace was the highlight of the day for many and left them in tears. How I longed to be able to dance like her.
This longing have never left me but surprisingly increased as the years have passed. I am comforted by the fact that one day Jesus will give me a new body. I will never feel any pain or age and will have no limitations. I cannot wait for that day when I will finally now what it feels like to be able to dance like that. I cannot wait. Of course Jesus gets the first dance!

coffee, naps, and blog posts…

Forgotten everything I’ve learned…

Today’s daily prompt really made me think, as I couldn’t remember at first the last time I learned something new. I thought back to my last period of formal study, for counselling skills qualifications, and  that was two years ago possibly, I can’t actually remember, and then I counted up the years since I began my Masters degree, and realised with some shock September will be seven years! I tried to think then. of more recent times, and couldn’t think of any new hobbies. Then the answer hit me full in the face.

Just a beginner…

I’m having to apply myself to learning how to  write. For a start, I’ve never considered myself a writer. This may seem odd, as I have the equivalent of an A in English at GCSE equivalent  and an A at A level (AS2?). Not only that, but I have a 2:1 in English Studies at degree level too. The one piece of creative writing I remember doing, I did all right. I wrote about what I knew, and managed to get s B-. I was pretty chuffed then!

Drawing Pins…

I also once wrote a poem about drawing pins for a creative writing group I was part of for a while. Let me explain. While I was at my (on-campus) university, I used a mobility scooter to get from place to place. They’re basically glorified electric wheelchairs and their use has become more controversial depending on your view. They are considered a nuisance by many people, especially if used on the pavement or holding up traffic.

When I bought the scooter, a flatmate had just broken her leg and her scooter crushed her leg. That was down to a fairly cost effective lightweight model. The scooter I chose was a much heavier less sexy more expensive model. Having borrowed another flatmate’s scooter I decided against ‘puncture proof’ solid tires. In those days, the English Studies Department used notice boards and drawing pins, meaning I often had to phone security or a friend for help with fixing the puncture. I once wrote a poem about my plight, and the ‘teeth’ of the pins, which a few in the English Studies Department remembered fondly even a few years later. I later discovered my poem was the department’s reason for the swanky, glass covered notice boards which enclosed the pins, preventing their escape– Result!!

A head start…

These being my only forays into creative writing, I took some persuading when a good friend asked me to write for her friend’s website. However, my friend persevered, and eventually persuaded me. I was delighted recently when my very first post for The Big Bible Project was among the Top Ten most shared posts last year!

I am aware I have much to learn, not only in learning how to write, but also, in learning how to study again, and build a following within the constraints of my crazy body and limited energy. Perhaps this is my priority, to learn to ‘work’ and study within my limitations, This is partly why one of my resolutions this year was focused on a post a day, to try to coax myself into cultivating good habits, and learning though practice, as Jeff Goins recommends in his book You are a Writer, so Start Acting Like One. 

I’m off to apply myself to reading proverbs 31 for next Bible Study for Bible Reflections. Watch this space…

‘seeing red’!

Yesterday’s daily post question is easily answered, although it will not make comfortable reading, for me at least! Many people think I cope with all I have to deal with pretty well, which I would agree with, to an extent, but part of it is because some of this is what I have always known However, I don’t like the way I don’t cope under pressure…

Well, if it’s other people’s pressure and they turn up at my  door, it’s fine. I’m good at helping them calm down, listening to their problem(s) making the tea, and praying with them as requested. I’ve had plenty of practice at this which is how I know. Put me in the same situation, however, and it’s entirely different…

Medical related crisis are a different matter. This time last year, it was nearing the end of the shift for my carer, but the stoma bag had ‘popped’ when we cleaned the stoma it bled much more than usual. Seeing as the agency have a ‘duty of care’ towards me, they would have been judged to be neglecting me had the carer not phoned the care co-ordinator for advice and then an ambulance  In that situation, I was the one calming the carer down, not the other way round. It was the same when I tipped my little wheelchair backwards and whacked my head of the pavement.I was very calm at the scene, got myself home and started ringing round friends to cadge a lift to A and E. When the doctor read the riot act, at me having chosen to go out on my own, and what could have happened. still I was calm.

Yesterday was a different story. If I could panic, I did. That means biting off others heads if they try to help with whatever I am in a state over. I’m not proud of that, at all! Anyway, between us we eventually found a solution. You’d think I’d learn!! Just as the same carer was five minutes away from finishing the shift,I realised I’d forgotten to ask anyone to hand my prescription in to the doctors, so I started to panic as there was a long list of medication I should have ordered. Cue massive panic. I phoned my friend who faithfully fills the tablet box every week, and she couldn’t remember if any of the tablets were urgent. This meant going through them, one by one and I have something like 15 different tablets. Cue more panicking. By that stage, I’m so in my own head it’s’ hard to calm down. It turned out I was only short of one medication  and I have enough of it till later on in the week, panic over. I calmed down and apologised.

There’s a couple of reasons for me being in such a flap – the first being that if I do not have a ‘quiet time’ bible study, which I hadn’t yesterday, it’s much harder to stay calm, for I am relying on my own resources, more than I should be. Also the consequences of so much medication is that they fight each other, meaning I can have migraines and the like, but also crippling tiredness, I’m often up in the night wit discomfort or pain disturbing my sleep even more. Like my Mum says, it isn’t an excuse for losing my temper or not coping. but it is phenomenally harder, especially recently. I have at least 4 medications which ramp up tiredness. Sometimes I can keep going, and other times I keep going when I should sleep!

How would I like to cope? Calmly and maturely obviously,  able to take a step back and evaluate problems or crisis’ calmly, and work out what to do or say, while still being kind to those around me. Sounds simple, doesn’t it!!

An Update on a post from September 2012…

The following post is an update on the story of four Christians who took their discrimination cases to the European court of human rights. I first blogged about it back in September last year. For background on the story, read the original news story of which I wrote. I promised to blog again once the verdict had been announced, so here goes…

The verdict of the judges was that they only found in favour of one of the cases, and for me it was somewhat odd. Two of the stories, regarding wearing crosses, were similar. Why find in favour of one, and not the other? My reasoning for not taking these cases that seriously, is that for me, wearing a cross is not a central part of how I choose to express my faith, and that’s just it, it isn’t a requirement it’s personal choice and can therefore be removed if necessary. I have other reasons for thinking this way, which you can read previous post.

As for the other two cases, I have just finished reading a press release from The Evangelical Alliance in which they chose to concentrate on their reaction to, what for them was the most significant case, that of Lilian Leasdale, a registrar who asked not to officiate at st her case same-sex ceremonies as it went against her beliefs. I believe I judged her case too harshly at the time, and in large part agree with what the Evangelical Alliance said, in terms of the courts needing to understand better what 24:7 lived out Christian faith looks like and how it interacts with society. However, this too is different for every individual,  and to my mind is therefore a minefield for the courts. Relying on what they think Christian faith looks like or should look like however, isn’t good enough, a balance needs to be found.

The Evangelical Alliance also acknowledge the difficulty of judging in such cases in a way that does not prejudice either side. I get all of that, but still feel this will give those who support the judges ruling more opportunity to speak against the position of the likes of the Evangelical Alliance, potentially doing more harm than good, as was my opinion  at the time. I am unsure what the way forward is for those, including myself  whose faith permeates every aspect of their lives, or should do, at least. How do we honour, and hold to what we believe, obeying God’s word, the Bible, and God himself, while being careful not to antagonise others unnecessarily or to sound as though the needle on the record is stuck? Reaching out in love would certainly be a start. I will certainly be praying for the four Christians whose cases were decided today, that they will clearly know what do next, and react in a way that brings the honour and the glory to God, which is what the Church, God’s people, should be doing anyway.