No Words.

Day 40 – Lent Challenge – Begin.

To the little person that asked so much of me, you changed my world.
My faith stated with a silent prayer, that screamed from my heart.

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Black Dog Called Depression.

Day 35 -Lent Challenge – Lead

This blog is acknowledging my life living with the Black dog called depression. The Black dog is not mine, it’s attached its self to my husband. It lives with us and is part of us. It’s real. That’s why it’s included in my 40 blogs.
I have written two stories, both true. For those that have not lived or cared for someone with depression, I hope this helps gives you some understanding as to what life can be like.

Recently some friends brought a puppy. It was a very much loved new member of their family. This golden ball of fluff arrived in their lives looking and acting like the perfect family pet.
He’s such a funny little character loved and enjoyed by everyone that visits them. When the family are at home he’s a joy. As soon they all get ready to leave him at home on his own things start to take a turn for the worse.
He gets anxious paces and makes funny noises. As the getting ready in the morning intensifies so does his levels of anxiety increase. Tension starts to rise between dog and owner.
When eventually they leave him in the quietness of the house he does what all young dogs do.
He’s chewed what he can. Pooed where he should not, and generally gets into terrible trouble.
The owners soon realise the dog’s behaviour cannot continue.They see their short-sightedness in buying a puppy and working full time. They love this dog and want to do all they can to relive its stress and anxiety. They arrange a dog sitter, friends and family help when they can. Dog sitting on evenings and on weekends so everyone had a good quality of life including the puppy. They consult an animal behaviourist. Learn signs of anxiety and take steps to eliminate them.They add routine to their day. Giving the puppy space to explore and play.
They no longer fear coming home. They no longer dread opening the front door.
They never blamed the dog for its behaviour they understood the reasons behind the behaviour and addressed them.

Reading the above story nothing surprises us. We know and understand that leaving a puppy alone for long periods of time is not good for dog or owner. With love time and patience they grow up and become the family pet we hoped and dreamed of.

I am going to tell you the story of the Black dog ( depression ) that lives with us.

24 years ago I feel deeply in love and married my husband. I walked down the aisle a young bride looking forward to married life. We looked the perfect couple. Young happy and in love.
The Black dog ( depression ) joined our family- it becomes attached to my husband. To start with it was more of a nuisance than a problem. With a few simple changes, it was manageable.
We learned to live with it. As we got older the dog grew up and got bigger. It would become a nuisance, causing embarrassment and upset.
It becomes so big that it forgets its manners, being rude, snapping and growling at all those who came near him/ us.
The tension in the house caused more snapping and growling. Going out without the dog become harder and harder.
We seek professional help. The Black dog refuses to go. The more tension I put on its lead. The more it bites and refuses to do even the basic tasks. The Black dog has imprisoned us in our own home. It refuses help. When the dog finally shows weakness, the help that we receive is difficult. The services are busy and overworked. They don’t have time to see past the growling. Each appointment we see someone new. This causes defence behaviour that looks aggressive.
Our friends stop visiting us. Why would they want to spend time with a dog that does not want to engage with them? A dog that does not wag it’s tail. A dog that does not play.
The hardest part for me is leaving the Black dog home alone with my husband. I fear what it will do. I fear it will take away my husband, that it will totally consume him to the point of no return. I fear its greed will be to much for my husband to cope with.
I fear opening the door. I dread coming home to the quietness of the house not knowing what it’s done when I am out.

The trouble with the Black dog it’s invisible. It’s not an imaginary dog it’s real. Because people don’t see it they fail to understand. I don’t blame them, but many blame and judge my husband. They see the behaviours but lack understanding.

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So how do I cope?
Pray
Prayer is my biggest way of coping. I pray when the Black dog is sleeping. I hold my husband first thing in the morning and pray. When it’s bedtime again I hold my husband and pray until God holds my exhausted words until sleep takes me too .
I pray that we can put a “lead” on the Black Dog. That it can be managed, disciplined and controlled.

Gratitude.
It’s being grateful for the little things and thanking God. It’s the littlest things that give hope; a hug, a smile, positive conversations.

Love .
Being honest and open to those that love us. That honesty also has to be respectful to my husband. I have friends that know and understand that life is hard. It’s so important for me to have a couple of special friends that I can trust. These friends are good listeners, they don’t judge. They love us and pray for us.

Love – Faith – Friendship.

Day 30 – Lent challenge – Friendship

This poem is for a friend. It tells of our journey together.

Love – Faith – Friendship.

Friendship of colours painted on faces.
Blended with glitter and sparkly dust.
Henna flowers on the backs of our hands
Hugs of glitter crafted in love.
Friendship, painted, splattered.
shared.

Bold colours blossomed.
So we grow.
Journeying as families
We loved
Through tears we said our goodbyes

Harsh times.
Vulnerable hurting.
Anchoring our hearts in pain.
Holding firm you kept us secure.
You understand our pain.

Quietly empty our hearts longing.
Stopped and stunned empty silence .
Roots form.
Intertwined with leaves of children’s laughter
Families standing together.
We blossom.
Grow.

New beginnings -fresh laughter.
Breakfasts cooked- films watched
Sunrise blocking out our pains.
Renewed charged.
changed.

Nourished by just being.
We breathe.
Nurtured by prayer.
love.
Faith.
Friendship.
We share.

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1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Good News Translation (GNT)

4 Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud; 5 love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; 6 love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth. 7 Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail.

8 Love is eternal. There are inspired messages, but they are temporary; there are gifts of speaking in strange tongues, but they will cease; there is knowledge, but it will pass.

My Glamorous Grandmother.

Day 28 – Lent Challenge – Endure

This blog is for my other grandmother ( dad’s mum ) I don’t have many memories, only stories passed down to me from those that knew and loved this remarkable lady. I don’t know about her faith but I do know she had a huge loving heart that endured pain and suffering at the hands of others.

My grandmother was glamorous like a movie star ( that’s what I have been told) She feel in love with the most glamorous young bachelor in the small village. They both had a huge personalities and enjoyed a party.
They married and had two boys that loved the freedom of living in a rural village by the sea.
My grandfather was a merchant seaman, spending many months at sea. During the war years his many months turned into years. My grandfather spent 3 years of the war in Rio De Janeiro, after falling into the hold of the ship and being to badly injured to return home.
The three years in Rio was unpaid sick, leaving my grandmother with no income. She worked as a nurse at the local hospital plus war time factory work. Holding down two jobs while bringing up two small boys during war time could not have been easy.
She was supported by her mother and the community in which she lived in. She worked hard and still found time to support families that where struggling. Always going that extra mile to support those that were hungry or in need.
Her marriage was turbulent and emotionally abusive. When my father a teenager my grandfather came home for good.
The man that spent his life on the ocean waves was soon spending his days along side his wife. They both drunk heavily and partied. My grandmother was a functioning alcoholic and no angel.
They eventually divorced when my dad was about 16. My grandmothers drinking got worse.
For all of this my grandmother was an amazing woman. She endured years of unhappy marriage to my grandfather.

When I was about 6 months old she went to a residential hospital to dry out. Supported by friends family and colleagues from the hospital that she nursed.My grandmother dried out.
She lived another 6 years, long enough for me to form beautiful positive memories. Long enough to see my sister being born. Long enough to know we loved her.
This story is a story that does not want to be told. It was hidden from me until I was about 18.
Until today I imagined my grandfather in his oil skins at the helm of the ship bringing food to a starving Britain during the war. I learnt today he spent most of the war in Rio De Janeiro.

God was with all of us on this journey. My love for my grandmother does not change knowing her story. Her story is a part of me and my journey. It’s connecting with her story seeing God at work in our lives both past and present.
I keep on my dressing table a book of common prayer that belonged to my great grandmother. It was a gift from my grandmother in 1922. Reading from this little book reminds me of my journey with God is just beginning. That God does not often do what we expect him to. God endings aren’t always the happy ever after we dream of. It’s not always a ending we understand or even want to understand. It’s a ending of new beginnings .

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Psalm 30:5 Good News Translation (GNT)

5 His anger lasts only a moment,
his goodness for a lifetime.
Tears may flow in the night,
but joy comes in the morning.

Melting points.

Day 24 – Lent Challenge – Refine.

Trying to find a person that fits the word refine is not easy. The more time I give to this the more I realise the refining that is beyond the human. Refining comes from God.
It’s the hollowing out, the deepness and deaths being refined by God takes us. The tears that flow and keep flowing as God hollows out our hearts.
It’s painful..
I’m writing this blog the morning after mother’s day. Feeling totally exhausted by the whole day. My heart is crying and confused.
Mother’s day reminds me the that the pain has a purpose. God uses the pain.
It’s the pain that shapes and moulds us. Theirs no hiding from it, nothing is hidden from God.
It’s a change to the core. God tells us he will take us through the fire to refine us like silver and purify us like Gold. The melting point of silver is 1761 degrees. the melting point of pure gold is 1945 degrees. Pain is that hot temperature that causes pain, melts our hearts.
I am angry and struggling with myself today. Angry that it took pain for me to find God not Joy. That’s why the tears that don’t want to stop today.
Tears full of why. It’s almost as if the tears stop the refining fire getting to hot. Gods way of stopping me boiling over. Allowing me to stay held in the crucible that is Gods love. The crucible that holds my heart in the fire.

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Psalm 56:8 The Message (MSG)

You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn
through the sleepless nights,
Each tear entered in your ledger,
each ache written in your book.

Celebrating love.

Day 17 – Lent challenge – celebrate.
This blog is for my husband.
Twenty four years ago we stepped out of the church and into the world as husband and wife. We honestly had no idea what life would bring us. We just had hopes and dreams.
It’s been tougher than I ever imagined. The truth is marriage is hard work. Both of us have felt more pain than we ever knew was possible, more deep joy than we ever realised existed.
Our love has changed over time but it’s never gone. 
I have loved when I did not feel loved. Been so scared I could not function. Cried tears of pure joy and tears of my own making.
Our hearts have been broken by love, soothed and healed by love.
All the things I loved about him when we were dating I still love. His sense of humour, honesty and the way he makes me laugh. There’s often a right way and a wrong way or a different way to do something. I normally head full on towards the difficult way. The path with most resistance.
I will crash through brambles wade through rivers. Often repeating the journey to put right my mistakes.
My other half will get out a map out and plan. But he follows me silently though the mud and brambles, I love him for that. We are opposites and he is annoying normally right.
We are both discovering and learning what it means to be loved by God. Sharing God in our lives has been something I never ever thought we would do.
I have seen a side to my beautiful man that I never saw before. Jesus unites us in our thoughts and he is our standing with us.
Celebrating love, marriage and that God reaches us all in different ways.

Ruth 1:16-17 The Message (MSG)
16-17 But Ruth said, “Don’t force me to leave you; don’t make me go home. Where you go, I go; and where you live, I’ll live. Your people are my people, your God is my god; where you die, I’ll die, and that’s where I’ll be buried, so help me God—not even death itself is going to come between us!”

A Joy that I took for granted.

Day Ten – Lent Challenge 2018 – Joy.

Thank you God for our beautiful daughter.
The joy of holding her in my arms for the first time. That magical connection and a out pouring of unconditional love.
It’s a joy that I took for granted. A joy that I believed was mine to own and to hold onto.

I never could have imagined the life that laid in front of me.
The children I carried and never held. The children I held and than let go.
I could have never imagined a life when joy would have a different meaning.
In the last 3 years 10 months and 9 days God has transformed my life.
A transformation that enabled me to find joy in the midst of pain.
Even in the darkest days when sadness, grief, and loss threatened to overwhelm me Gods joy never left me.
It’s a deep joy that has allowed me to cry and grieve but stopped me from drowning.
It’s a joy that’s hard to explain- A joy that comes from God.


James 1:2-4 The Message
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.