Monday, 19 September 2011

Home Produce

Can it really be Monday again all ready!  I managed to get out in the garden last week for the first time in a very very long time.  My vegetable patch was completely overgrown with pumpkin vines crawling their way across the paved areas.  It was very very pleasing to discover on cutting it all back that we did actually have pumpkins and some cucumbers as well - I had presumed those plants had been suffocated by the pumpkin plants!  Once again my gardening plans have been thwarted somewhat by the goings on at home, never mind, there is still things to enjoy for now and there are always next years plans :o)

Continuing to count my blessings with Ann Voskamp.

640. Pumpkins growing in the garden, small but perfectly formed.
 641. A basket of prodice to take into the kitchen and enjoy.
 642.  Views to admire.

 643.  An abundance of pink in the garden.
 643.  Beautiful scents still rising in the evening.
 644.  Strawberries - for the second time this year.
 645.  Happy children getting out and about with the daddy, what ever the weather.
 646.  The joy of an obediant (most of the time) puppy dog.

647. Watching a storm passing by the front of our house.

648.  The beauty of art from centuries ago.

 649. Seeing how nature reclaims the land.

Why not start your own list.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Letting go of ideals.

After all the ups and downs of the last few weeks my Niece A has been readmitted to a secure psychiatric adolescent unit.  Not before she ended up in police custody for a couple of days.  She didn't commit a crime but would not return to the childrens home where she had been placed.  At one point social services were talking about putting her into a secure unit (the sort of place they can put under 16's who keep absconding or are waiting for court hearings).  They could do that for 72 hours before having to apply to court to keep her longer.  5pm on a Friday evening is not the best time to be told you need to get a solicitor involved before a court hearing at 11.30 on a Monday morning.  At least that has now all been avoided.

So what is my part in all this.  My natural instinct was to get straight in the car and go to the police station where she was.  At least once she was deemed to not be able to make clear judgements by herself social services could tell me where she was.  However I did manage to phone the station first, they asked her if she would see me and she said no.

As my parents still have a residence order for her I felt it only proper to let them know what has been going on.  My mum as I assumed might happen has not taken it well.

Once again I am left trying to work out what my role is.  I can't imagine I am ever going to be able to pretend she doesn't exist, that would feel like a complete betrayel to my sister (A's deceased mothers).  Though I also know that I cannot continue tying myself in knots fighting her corner when she does not want me to.  All the authorities involved with her seem to have made such a hash of things, it makes me want to shout and complain to the managers, my MP and anyone else who will listen.  What would that achieve for A though?  The chances are that even if things had been done 'properly' she still might be in the situation she is in now.

Then of course I hear the 'good citizen' voice inside my head saying that if I step in, it might make a difference to the way other people are treated.  At a time when my general health is not great, my mental health is not great and my own two children and husband need me, I think the answer to whether I step in or not is no.  I am quite sure that my mind is going to sway backwards and forwards with all this, at the moment though that 'peace that passes all understanding'(Phillipians 4:7) has descended.  I still feel quite subdued but peaceful and long may that last.

Why the picture of the cemetry?  My hubby and I went a walk for him to show it to me yesterday as it is just on the edge of Southampton City Centre, it is a fascinating place that you can read a little about here .  It has such an over grown and gothic look to it and is sooo huge.  We spent a good while taking pictures, reading the odd grave stone and just marvelling at how nature is trying to reclaim the land.  It made me realise something.  I don't like modern cemetries, but certainly over  100 years ago (and 100's more) when this cemetry was being used used, it had a purpose to reunite the bodies of families.  I love this idea!  Somehow it brings a real comforting feeling.  However in our present time it has become apparant that graves are not a sustainable way of disposing of bodies.  We just no longer have the space in our little country.  Therefore it was a reminder to me that sometimes we just have to let go of our ideals.  Find other ways to function.  Have you had to let go of any ideals?

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Admiring the View

In my job as a children and youth pastor I occasionally get to do a little something out of the ordinary.  Last year I was asked by our Diocese to plan a 20 minute workshop for their revamped confirmation celebration service at Winchester Cathedral.  It went down really well and I have been asked back again this year.  I initially said yes, thinking I would probably be able to just tweak what I did last year.  However when I met up with the organiser this week there is a whole different theme.  Once again however God knows the path before me.

The theme of the service is 'journeys' and the title of my area is going to be 'Admiring the View'.  Yet again my week started off not great with anxiety about what was happening with my niece.  As soon as I was told this ideas started to pop into my head and great conversation followed.  I was so relieved not to have been given the topic of being in a dark place!

I love it when my creativity starts to flow! I came out of that working lunch meeting totally bouyed up only to discover a parking ticket on my car.  I got home to more unwelcome news.  Then there was a moment when I suddenly remembered lunch time - that was a moment on my journey through that day when I was 'admiring the view'.  I find it so easy to forget the moments of respite that I get, and yet in reality I probably have as many of those moments as I do the hard times.

I'm pleased to say that as I am having to creatively think about this topic for work purposes, it is making me continually look out for those moments in my week when I can 'admire the view'.

There was the lovely dog walk that I had yesterday, I had over stretched myself with how far I had gone so took some time to sit at a lake 10 minutes walk from home.  Once the dog had got over her confusion as to why I had stopped, it was a fantastic 15 minutes of peace.  I got to watch a heron swimming, I was thinking how unusual it was to see one swimming and not standing at the edge where he normally is.  After about 10 minutes however he quickly dived into the lilly pads next to him and came up with something very orange in his beak, before flying off to an out of site corner.  An experience I certainly do not have every day (though as a veggie I did feel very sorry for the fish!).

What 'views' do you get to stop and admire on the journeys in life that you are making? How do you feel when you do stop?  Are you ever tempted to try and stop your journey to stay at that place of admiring?  It would be great to have your thoughts dear readers as I try and work out how I can use this topic to help those at the confirmation celebration service.

Monday, 12 September 2011

More Monday Blessings.

As you may have seen in my last post, that week did not end terribly well at all.  The latest on my nieces situation is that late on Friday I was told that she had chosen that she did not want me to know where she was for now - so in many ways that is an answer to prayer as there is nothing else I can do now.  I am ashamed to say that I did end up putting the phone down on the social worker as I feared I was going to say something very rude to her if I did not, when she told me of A's wishes.  More news followed on Sunday when a friend informed me that she was in our local area causing trouble which I believe ended up with the police involved.  However I have heard nothing from any authorities today so guess I am now totally out of the loop.  I can say all this so matter of factly, and on the whole that is how I am feeling most of the time now.  It feels like God has detached me from feeling the responsibility which in reality I really do no longer have.  This really is a blessing and of course there have been many more that I can look back on my week and see:

630.  Happy 10 year old starting back to school.
631.  Thrilled 11 year old starting secondary school and loving it.
632.  Flowers from friends.
633.  Love and encouraging comments on facebook from friends.
634.  Cups of tea and wise words with friends.
635.  Praying on-line with a dear friend hundreds of miles away over the pond, handing over our burdens.
636.  Worshipping with arms raised in our new small Sunday evening service.
637.  Time to crochet, creating a present for a dear little nearly 3 year old.
638.  A Guinea pigs fourth birthday party, with invites and balloons.
639.  The promise that perfect love drives out all fear. (1John 4:18)

Friday, 9 September 2011


Please bear with me, I am extremely agitated and so need to get this off my chest.

My niece (A) was told at the end of last week that the funding for her to go to the place that both her social worker and the Priory hospital (where she is staying were agreeing was the most appropriate place for her) was not being given.  I have been trying to get hold of both her social worker and her psychiatrist all week, making several phone calls.  Her social worker was off sick at the beginning of the week, I was told the duty social worker would call me back and they didn't.  The psychiatrist's secretary was calling me back with an appointment and hasn't.

At 5pm yesterday afternoon I had a phone call from her social worker saying that A was discharging herself from the Priory and her file had been placed in the out of ours social workers in tray to find her an emergency placement for last night.

Two weeks ago this child (14 years old) absconded from the Priory, causing a major police search and when found some hours later claimed to have taken an overdose of paracetamol (this is something she has done in the past).  I hope you agree that I had a right to be very concerned about getting this phone call.

After a few minutes of discussion with my husband we decided the next move was to call the Priory.  I did this and was astounded to be told by a psychotherapist (I had asked to speak to the nurse in charge of the ward), that A was allowed to discharge herself as she was a voluntary patient (as opposed to sectioned) even though she was only 14 years of age.  While on the telephone to this person, A, called my husband on his mobile, she could not understand why we were not pleased that she was discharging herself.  I then ended my call to the Priory as they were adamant that there was nothing they could do to keep her there.  I then spoke to A.  She informs me that on the ward round that morning her psychiatrist said to her that she should not be there and a placement should have been found.

This child has a track record of acting on suggestion.  She is also known to not be able to handle embarrassment.  At her last CPA (continuing care/discharge meeting) the psychiatrist reports that her main aim at that moment was to get herself sectioned as she saw mental illness as a badge of honour.

I spoke with A again (after spending time with some wise friends talking and praying) about 7pm and offered to go and sit with her until the out of hours social worker arrived.  As I was not able to promise her that we would not fall out (with someone as emotionally volatile as she has been it would have been pointless making this promise), she was not sure she wanted me there.  I suggested that she think about it and call me back.  She did inform me at this point that the staff on the ward had told social services a 'little white lie' saying that she would not stay at the Priory last night so that had to find her somewhere - when actually she was agreeing to stay there overnight if they didn' find her somewhere.  She informed me this was to ensure that they did something immediately.

I heard nothing more until 10pm last night when A phoned me to tell me that the out of hours had found her somewhere to go and were on their way to collect her, she informed me that her social worker would be coming to see her at that placement the next day (today - Friday).  I requested that she ask the social worker to call me in the morning.

I then had a phone call at 8.15am this morning from the Priory from a nurse saying was I called last night and made aware of what was going on and where A had gone.  We had not been called at all, the only contact that we had was by our call to them straight after the social worker had called.

Now what am I supposed to do??????  The nurse this morning informs me that they tried to get A to stay, explaining to her that a planned discharge would be better.  She disputed that the psychiatrist told A that she shouldn't be there on the ward round as she was present on that round.  Without any communication with us they agreed to hold on to some of A's belongings as she informed them that we would be willing to come and collect that.  They have allowed her to take belongings that she has never been allowed to have charge of without a guardian (even at the Priory), namely expensive musical instruments and a scrap book of her first 13 years of life.

It all seems to speak of incompetence to me, by all the professionals.  She should not have been stuck in the Priory for all this time if she did not need to be there, however she should not be encouraged or in the least not discouraged to go forward with the planned discharge that would bring about the best for her.

Lord of All, please have charge over this situation, guide me and show me where you want me and above all place your angels around A, protect her, comfort her and bring healing to her.   Amen.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Busy at Work

I have been having a very enjoyable and busy week at work this week, the majority of my 20 hours have already been filled already, I have a meeting tonight and again on Friday, tomorrow however is going to be my full day of rest, hubby is off work as well so hopefully we will get to do something fun together.

If you are interested in more of what I do as a 'day job' do come and visit my work blog Life of a Children and Youth Pastor  - it would be great to see you over there x x x x

Monday, 5 September 2011

Blessed be the name of the Lord

I am still reeling somewhat from last weeks news but have made the first two phone calls that I feel are a starting point - now I have to wait for their responses.  In the mean time I am trying to stay positive.  I love this song - all except the give and take away bit,  I've never been able to quite believe that God takes good things away from us - good things just sometimes end - what do you think?

I am so blessed I can do nothing but continue to count the smallest of blessings:

620. dishes to be washed up at the sink.
621. pegged out washing.
622. a letter from a child in poverty overflowing with love.
623. light at the flick of a switch.
624. my daughter practising her saxophone on a Saturday morning.
625. dirty outdoor playing children.
626. pumpkins slowly growing in the garden.
627. being able to vacuum the floor of my sons bedroom!
628. early nights with a very good book.
629. the smell of freshly ironed clothes.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Fighting Disappointment

What happens when you don't get the answer you were praying you would?  Inevitable disappointment?  Unfortunately that is how I am feeling today.  I wrote in my last post of how much I was hoping my niece was going to get funding to go to a specialist unit to get the help she needs.  I discovered yesterday that she has not got it.

What is more it sounds as though there is going to be a great rush now to place her in a 'normal' social services children's home to save the NHS the money that is keeping her in a private mental health unit at present.  Even though she is back in the high dependency unit.

One of the worst parts of all this, is that I am left standing with the questions - what should I do?  and what can I do?  We have no parental responsibility for her, that has been handed over to social services by her father.

We will try and arrange a meeting with her social worker next week and would really appreciate prayers as we struggle through these next weeks.  I realise the struggle is mostly my internal one, but it is real and I cannot just let go of a child that I have cared for as my own for the last two years.