Adoption

For me, adoption isn’t a beautiful concept, a scary word or even a nice idea. It’s four living, breathing siblings. It’s four relationships that have come about as God redeemed broken lives. It’s four extra people to hug and laugh with, love and cherish, fight for and with.

Adoption has four names close to my heart, four people that are so intertwined in my life that it seems impossible how nearly we were strangers to each other.

Adoption, I once read, is beautiful and sad simultaneously. It reminds us that something was broken that needed fixing but it also reminds us that there is a possibility of redemption in the worst situations.

I am the eldest of six and four of my siblings were born from a different mother’s tummy. Our genetic pool is crazy (I think we tally three mothers and five fathers between us?!). And that matters. It’s silly to think that people’s past doesn’t matter because it does. Our past makes us what we are now and adopted siblings need to know that they are accepted with their broken pasts and loved and valued. It breaks my heart to realise what my siblings went through before they came into our family. There are things that, for all my love for them, I cannot truly understand regarding what they have been through.  They need space to grieve what they lost. Space to realise their anger at the unjustness of the situation is allowed and they need to be able to work through that in a healthy way. But I am so so so blessed to realise I get to be a part of their present and future. That God brought us together as strangers and has plaited our lives into each other’s. I get to celebrate (or commiserate!) exam results with them, they were at my wedding and I’m looking forward to embarrassing them at theirs (;-) ), we’re going to hold each other as we hit some turbulent times, we’re probably going to bicker with each other for the next….oooh…six decades? At least. But woe on anyone who attacks my siblings – they’ll have a fiery big sister on their case asap! I’m excited to share life with them.

God brings people into families in different ways. I have parents who gave birth to me and all the extended family that entails, I have a sister who was born the same way I was (and who was definitely easier work than me throughout toddler years!), I have siblings who were adopted into my family, I have a husband who I married and that also brought a whole range of family, and I have family who are not legally connected to me in anyway but we belong together – family is not this rigid, “You enter one way only” thing. Family is so much bigger than blood and genetics. I think we miss out on a lot if we insist on creating families one way.

Today is Adoption Sunday and I would encourage you to think outside the box when it comes to family. Not everyone reading this will or should adopt but be open to how God might want to expand your family. He’s not as stuck in the mud about these things as we often are.

Adoption is redemption in action.

Written to celebrate Adoption Sunday. For those who want more information, I thoroughly recommend this website: http://www.homeforgood.org.uk/what-we-do/adoption-sunday. It’s not just for those thinking of adopting but for all who want to support those who foster or adopt. The book “Home for Good” is also a great read (although not an easy one, hardly surprising given the topic).

Two years on

photos courtesy of Photography by Jade (https://www.facebook.com/photographybyjade.org/)

It has been two years since I walked into a church as my father’s daughter and walked out as Joel’s wife. Two beautiful years, two years that have had their fair share of heartache, two years of learning how great an Author our God is. He brought together two people and has melded them together in such a way it feels crazy that it’s only actually been two years.

I knew there would be challenges when we married. I was ill, after all, which has put pressure on us. A saying I once saw said a diamond is just coal that did well under pressure. Well, it’s still rough, but diamond is what we have. Church hasn’t always been an easy ride as we’ve stayed where God put us despite deep provocation at times. Joel has had extensive training for his job, we’ve moved house and taken on a project (and a half!), added to which I’ve had ongoing therapeutic care for my CFS. There has been significant pressure. We’ve not lived a rose strewn first few years. But our marriage, the coming together of two lives and fusing of two people? That has felt like two halves being brought back together. I have been blown away by how well God knew us when he brought us together. There is no way we could have known how well we would fit until we did but He did.

As a single, no, I did not believe in “the one”. As a married woman, yes, I do. I don’t believe in perfect people and I don’t believe spouses will necessarily come in the skin we’re expecting but I believe it is possible to walk in the centre of God’s will and if that includes marriage, is it so hard to believe the Creator of the universe can bring two people together who work well as a partnership in His Kingdom (and be an incredible blessing in each other’s lives)? For us, the coming together of that partnership took a rather peculiar road but God knew what He was doing (strange that 😉 ).

My beloved husband, you are such a gift to me. You have served me selflessly, lovingly and with a sense of humour that has made the hard days survivable and the good days a blast these past two years! I promised you in sickness and health and am hoping soon I’ll be able to deliver on the second part of that promise! I love you, my cariad, and am so glad (and proud) to be your wife.

A Response To the Response

One of the earliest things I can remember learning about British politics was that the Government are supposed to represent the people. That’s it stripped right back. And right now people are saying a lot about the politicians and how they’re a mud-slinging, lying, abusive set of people (that’s the abridged and clean version) and how horrified they are that they represent us. You know what? Take a look on social media today and I really don’t think politicians are far off in a representation of the British population.

And the future politicians – the children of today – are watching us react and learning how ‘politics’ work.

They are seeing that name-calling is ok, that completely slamming people without understanding two people can actually have differing opinions and it doesn’t make one of them a ***** is ok, they’re discovering that verbal abuse is ok when discussing politics. Someone right now is raising the future prime minister of Great Britain. It might be your kid. It might be a child you have contact with and they look up to you. It might be a younger sibling. Trust me, they are watching how you react, how you deal with this. They are watching you crow over people who have (supposedly) been proved wrong. They are watching you start shouting at people who are crowing. They are watching you type words into Facebook, snap pictures of your angry face on Instagram, they’re taking note of your hashtags. Is that really the kind of politics you want the future politicians of our land to engage in? What words and arguments are you teaching them to hurl in people’s faces?

Is this not an opportunity to demonstrate to a younger generation, who will one day be running this country, that passion is good but so is being kind? Is this the time you can demonstrate to those watching future politicians that when an opponent is ‘beaten’, that is the time to be gracious? No, don’t say you’re happy if you’re not, but don’t call someone a bigot just because they disagreed. Teach those future politicians sentences like: “That’s a fair point – I disagree but I understand your concerns. Let’s see if we can calmly address them” or “I disagree but I honour your point and aren’t you glad we live in a country where we can openly disagree?” Let your younger sibling, your son, your daughter, the toddler who waves to you at church when you walk in – let them see that politics is capable of being a respectful debating situation. Demonstrate it to them.

I’m not asking you to lose your passion. I’m not asking you to pretend you’re excited if you’re not. I’m not asking you to not debate. I’m just asking you to consider the watching eyes and listening ears and realise that if you want politics to change in the future, you’d better start investing in the future politicians and demonstrating to them how to not be a lying, self-seeking, fingers-in-ears person.

I really don’t care which way you voted in the Referendum, honestly. You had a right to vote ‘Remain’ or ‘Leave’ and that was your decision, your choice and none of my business. So I’m not going to write about that. But you are raising, or influencing, the people who will impact my country in the future and I would really really appreciate it if you could raise some future politicians of integrity who know how to be kind and how to fight fair.

Much appreciated. 🙂

Becky

New layout, (slightly) new attitude

P1080903I decided to spring-clean the blog which made me start thinking… I feel like everything has been pretty CFS-based on here recently and given I decided that wouldn’t define me, it seems a little counter-‘how-I-want-to-live-life’. So I’ll try and lighten up a little, okay? If anyone has any ideas/suggestions of things they’d like to see, please let me know! I was thinking maybe some foodie/craft-y/look-what-I’ve-found posts but if anyone can think of anything else, bung it in!

The Unwanted Season, Episode 14 (One Week Down: Things I Have Learnt)

Not sleeping doesn’t mean not resting. I have discovered being awake does not mean I have to start tearing around at the speed of light. It means if I do 10 minutes cooking and have to sit down and read for half an hour (with 5 minutes complete rest in that), then that’s ok. It means my plans to drive to the car boot, walk around it, go on to the gym and cook myself an intricate lunch are completely unrealistic. Shocker! It means thinking through what I want to do, axing everything apart from the main one (say, clean the kitchen sink or try a new recipe for tea) and that is my goal of the day. I’m rubbish at it. Lol. No surprise there as that’s how I got into this mess! But I am getting better. When my body starts shaking with sheer exhaustion, I actually listened and sat down and spent the rest of the morning watching a documentary, reading and just staring at the view until it calmed down and after lunch I was able to put the washing on the line. Now if I could learn to hear my poor body before it has to start shaking, that would be even better!

Proper rest is really really really hard. Sitting without letting your mind plan the next 20 minutes is agonising. I am trying various techniques and the current most successful one is lighting a candle and staring at its flame (successful = not spending the WHOLE 5 minutes thinking…). Plus it smells amazing. 🙂

Going for a morning walk is surprisingly rewarding. I’ve actually found the morning part probably one of the easier parts of it. It is definitely helped by the fact walking around the Mountain at 7-7.30 in the morning at this time of year is just beautiful and peaceful and quiet. Seriously spoilt by where we live. The bluebells have just come up and it’s generally just stunning and I don’t have to share it with anyone apart from the blackbirds, horses and an occasional seagull.

I am incredibly blessed in my friends and family. I remember seeing a picture of someone collapsing in a marathon and being carried over the finish line by fellow athletes. That is what your prayers and encouragement are doing to me – you’re carrying me. This isn’t easy (like, really really not easy!) but it certainly isn’t as hard as I was expecting and I’m going to lay the credit at the feet of your prayers, your encouragement and our God.

Sleeping through the night is a good idea. This is the first week in a very very very long time that I have managed to fall asleep within 10 minutes of my head hitting the pillow and only wake up (minus my three o’clock bathroom trip) come the morning. Seriously, this is revolutionary in my life! My brain is actually slowly learning it’s ok to switch off as I fall asleep! Guys, this is incredible!!

All coffee makers should come with timers! We bought a timer switch so the coffee maker comes on in the morning. I know some people find caffeine a bad trigger but for me, crawling out of my warm bed into the cold bedroom, the knowledge that there is a hot cup of coffee waiting for me in the kitchen is the strength I need.

Non-ironed pjs, bedding and tea towels is actually ok. The world doesn’t end if you don’t do them. I know, you never realised that, did you? 😉 The doctor told me my new mantra has to be: “If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly so it gets done”. Which means if I want to keep us in clean clothes, ironing gets assigned to the strictly necessary (Joel’s work uniform) and everything else gets put on the back burner. It hurts but hey, at least we have clean underwear in the drawer, right?!

God is good. Life may not be good but God is. He hasn’t miraculously healed me but He has showered me with what I call “God kisses” this week – just little things to remind me I’m loved. Like finding some leeks yellow stickered (I adore leeks but they’re far too expensive in supermarkets!) or someone sending me some good news right when I’m struggling the most. Sometimes the lack of a big miracle means we can see the smaller ones clearer.

The Unwanted Season, Episode 13 (Update & Edit)

I have been blown away by the love shown us over the past few days since the previous blog post. Thank you guys!!! I managed to get to church yesterday and, really, for the first time since moving, I realised I was home and with my family. 🙂

It is getting a little easier. I have to focus on the next 20 minutes, not the whole day, so I am relearning how to live in the moment! If I focus on the fact it’s … hours until I’m allowed to crawl back into bed, I feel depressed and struggle. If I remind myself all I have to do is walk through the next 20 minutes, I can do it. And I’m actually beginning to enjoy not feeling guilty about sitting on the sofa and reading!

I know there’s a belief going around church that God won’t give you more than you can bear. It’s not true. The verse that gets misquoted is talking about temptation, not trials. It sounds cruel but God sometimes does give you more than you can bear – so you will turn to Him and rely totally on Him. And that is what I have been learning these past few days. When it gets too hard, I turn to Him and pray hard and He does give me the strength to get through the next 20 minutes. It’s hand-to-mouth energy here atm but maybe it’ll teach me to rely on Him 100%.

I just wanted to add a little edit to my last post, and any post that speaks of the CFS/ME: I am not a doctor and I am not healed. Do not take what I say as anything relating to medical advice, or even something to copy. I am sharing my experiences because I believe it might be helpful but it is not a list of what you should or shouldn’t do. I wouldn’t want anyone copying what I am doing unless their doctor has said so! Everyone’s journey with CFS/ME will look slightly different. I am blessed to be at a point in life where I don’t have to work and we don’t have any children so I can really focus on this rehab – others may not be so fortunate. Do what works for your rehabilitation/survival and don’t get too sidetracked by all the other people with CFS/ME. Sure, take their tips onboard but find out what works for you. Take everything with a pinch of salt!

The Unwanted Season, Episode 12 (Help!)

I am swallowing my pride and asking for your help. Anyone who has any level of interaction with me, I really need your help to survive the next few weeks.

Let me explain… I finally saw a clinical psychologist yesterday who works alongside a physiotherapist in rehabilitating people with CFS/ME. The relief in talking with someone who not only actually understood what I was talking about but was sympathetic and positive about me making a full recovery (with time) was immense but what she has asked of me feels nigh on impossible.

The main cycle I have been stuck in is a rollercoaster of doing too much one day (because my energy, in comparison to my ‘normal’ is good) followed by feeling much worse as a result and having to spend a few days in bed recovering. Even on my good days, I struggle with a ¼ of what ‘normal’ people can manage. If you’ve ever travelled – three hours to the airport, several hours check in, a twelve hour flight where you can’t sleep, getting through passport control, jet lag of a few hours, several more hours travelling from the airport to your hotel where it’s only nine in the morning and you aren’t allowed to sleep until the night – well, imagine that feeling of exhaustion and you get some sort of idea what CFS feels like constantly. And no matter how much you rest, you still feel that exhaustion. It feels like you are dragging chains around behind you, Marley-style.

Apparently, though, the very rest I have been feeling is vital to survival has actually been sapping me.

Our bodies need 8-9 hours sleep a day and any more than that and it starts having an adverse effect – any less than 7 and you also start doing damage. So despite my body saying it was exhausted, giving in to that and sleeping actually prolonged it and made it worse. You see the vicious cycle?

Last autumn I saw a rheumatologist who suggested I regularly went swimming and I have been faithfully doing that. It hasn’t had the breakthrough I was hoping for though and now I’m discovering why.

According to my psychologist (it’s NOT all in my head but they have to treat it under mental health because blood tests/scans all come back fine!), I have two ways of approaching the next few months:

  • Slowly cut back on the time I spend sleeping; or
  • Go ‘cold turkey’ and set a schedule for my day which I rigorously stick to.

And being me, I’m going ‘cold turkey’. This means I have to crawl out of bed at 6.30am each morning and am not allowed to get back into it until the evening, with a set ‘lights out’ at 10.30pm (although I may push that back to 9.30pm!). I am allowed one 20 minute nap if I absolutely have to.

It’s sheer agony.

And I’m not overdramatising.

You are talking to someone who has previously been surviving the exhaustion and pain by sleeping at least 15 hours each 24 hour period – I’m cutting down to between 8-9 hours.

Whilst I am awake I need to do a 7 minute walk in the morning and a 7 minute walk in the evening (which will slowly be built up). I am allowed to do 20 minutes of activity followed by 5 minutes of rest (which literally means sitting still and doing nothing – but not falling asleep either). I have to spend more of my 20 minute slots doing relaxing ‘me’ things. I have had the order from the doctor to be selfish and devote time to caring for myself.

It is really really really hard!

I am surrounded by a house that needs unpacking, cleaning and decorating and I am only allowed to do small chunks of it whilst I have to do largish chunks of reading, crafts, music, etc. Yes, it may sound like bliss but when you have limited energy, trust me, you want to do ‘important’ things (like cleaning the kitchen!). Plus I have spent my whole life wanting to help others and do ‘useful’ things. I am having to completely change my character here!

Day 1 of the regime and by 9 o’clock I was so ready to crawl back into bed. I feel like crying now at 11.30am knowing I am not allowed the nap after lunch which I am craving. My pain levels are ridiculously high (advantage of sleep – if you sleep deep enough, you can’t feel it!). And I have another…9 hours before I can even start getting ready for bed!

So if you see me/speak to me/pray for me – please bear with me over the next few weeks. Apparently it *should* eventually start easing a little but for now, I am in pain, exhausted and not allowed to crawl into bed. If I look exhausted – it’s because I am. Even more exhausted than I used to be previously which is quite impressive! If I look bewildered – it’s because I am. This new lifestyle is counter-character for me and I can’t fully get my head around it. If I look lazy – it’s not because I am. It’s because I am having to retrain my body and mind to relax and rest. Trust me, there is no (bad) thing you could say about me that I haven’t already beaten myself with repeatedly.

So please guys, please help. I’d appreciate it if you could pray I have the willpower to stick this out and not give up. I’d appreciate hugs and encouragement. I’d appreciate it if you’d also support Joel as he supports me through this because he’s the one having to cope with it day in, day out and this is going to be just as hard for him. I’d appreciate you not saying how much you wish your doctor would tell you to do this and have all that restful relaxing time (unless you also would like to take on the pain, fatigue, brain fog and nausea?). I really would still appreciate visitors as long as you don’t mind the house looking a tip. And I’d appreciate it if you just stick with me on this.