Sunday, 24 October 2010

Just a thought...scrapping, youth ministry and life skills

Just a thought that I'm putting here as it's only in formation but it gives me a reminder if it goes off the radar.

I was at a conference yesterday for work Youthwork Summit which was really great. During that day I had a few conversations with old and new friends, particularly about working with young women and the difference between that and working with young men.

I had a thought, as I was reminiscing about my previous role working with homeless young women, that so much of the great progress that was made with them was when we encouraged them to tell their stories and to do that creatively - sometimes through drama or through another craft activity.

I wonder whether my interest in scrapbooking;  chronicling significant milestones, events, emotions and people might be something which could add to or initiate self esteem and life skills development work with young women in a creative and safe well as being huge fun and producing something really tangible at the end? Even just the journalling element of these type of projects gives some opportunity for developing literacy skills and measuring out and cutting paper, card and other equipment will help with some numeracy skills and other practical problem solving in daily life.

Certainly, it seems a possible avenue to think about and progress this year while our eventual destination in terms of Andy's journey is it's something I could work on wherever we ended up living...

Your thoughts...know anyone doing this sort of thing already? Any suggestions of conversations or contacts I could make??

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Due Date

Today we are marking a date that is both painful and a significant milestone.

Back in February 2010, when we had got used to the positive pregnancy test and were beginning to plan for baby number 2, our doctor gave us an expected due date of October 6th.

All parents or those who are pregnant and over-due will know that a due date means nothing really, but for us, after the shock of being told we were expecting twins and then the pain of losing them 3 weeks later, this is the only date we have ever had to mark what could have been. We know that having twins would probably have meant they could have come any time in September...but October 6th still holds significance and has loomed large in these last few days.

We're marking today in our own way, thinking and crying and talking together. We also launched a new youth group in our home this evening which sits as a potent sign that life and new seasons continue and we must choose to join in with the journey.

But there have been some things which have comforted me and I'd like to share them with you. 

Firstly a poem, well known I guess but beautiful and potent and full of hope:


Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day.
You tell me of our future that you plann'd:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

Christina Rossetti

I have also been challenged and comforted by the example of Hannah in the Bible. Hannah focused her attention onto God in her pain and her loss and her barrenness and silently in her heart, praying only with her lips and not with any words.  (1 Samuel 1)
The prognosis on us before we had Matilda was of barrenness, and by a miracle we conceived naturally and have a wonderful little girl, nearly 4. WOW. 
We conceived naturally a second time and despite the loss of our twins, we know that God has blessed us through this experience and given us grace in our weakness and provision in our desperation. 

So, through all of this, I want to pray as Hannah prayed:
My heart rejoices in the Lord
My strength is exalted in the Lord
I smile at my enemies
Because I rejoice in your salvation.

And I stand on the promise of 1 Corinthians 15 - "the dead will be raised incorruptible and we shall be changed. O Death, where is your Victory?"

Death does not have the victory in our lives or in our home. We miss and love our babies that we never got to meet or hold, but we know that there is a sure and certain hope of seeing them again. Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see ( as Doug Horley would sing!!) 

Thanks for your prayers, your friendship and your love to us over these months. Reaching this due date is a milestone, a stake in the ground and we move on from here with a deep breath and a sense that God is in control. He has made us more aware of his presence through our grief. Thank you God for all your goodness and faitfulness. 

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Knoxville Tennessee

A few people have asked when I'm going to post about my recent trip...and I've only just had a spare minute after my return to blog about it.
This week has been crazy, as much as last week was calm and serene and wonderful. I appreciate the former because of the latter.

The details of each day are not exciting - Emily, Jack and I spent our days around the routine of 5 week old Madeleine and that made it all very gentle. Jack had a quiet week, pastoring-wise, so he was able to have later mornings and be home for dinner. Emily and I walked each morning round the park for 2 miles, before the heat of the day and by the time we had done that and then showered and fed Madeleine again (well. Emily did!) it was time for lunch!!

We went to an Andrew Peterson concert on Tuesday night which was awesome...and we have bought 2 of his albums since.
I had a scrapbooking class at Scrappin' in the City which is an amazing boutique/shop/community/workshop where I made a birthday book in 2.5 hours...I was very pleased with myself!
Emily and I had lots of time to chat, read and chill, with a bit of extended shopping on Friday which was a lot of fun! We also saw our mutual friends for lunch at Tomato Head - and I consumed a yummy Southwestern Salad...really craving those now we are truly in autumnal weather here in England!

It was really lovely to be around with Emily and Madeleine and Jack for lots of firsts - first bath without crying, M's first trip to Target (in fact, to any shop!), first nap in her cot...

 So it was pretty bittersweet when I had to leave. The trip and time away had been what I needed it to be - space for reflection, time out of the normality of life and a chance to make new and good memories of this time of year when our babies would have been due. In so many ways it exceeded my expectations and it was wonderful to be subsumed into a family and to be able to look after them as they cared for me. It was a special trip and one which I shall never forget and I'm grateful to Andy for releasing me to do it.

And it is wonderful to be home...I was met at the airport with a 'MUMMY' homemade sign and I worked 30 hours in 3 days this week to allow me to have Friday off as normal with Matilda, which was so great.

So as September fades away and October begins with all it's autumnal colours and wintry skies, I feel a bit of sunshine in my life and the love and prayers of wonderful friends who gave up precious time with their daughter to allow me to come and be. Thank you, Emily, Jack and Madeleine and we can't wait to host year, fingers crossed.

Ta ta for now...