Monday, 23 July 2012

A Book Review

Crying for Help: The Shocking True Story of a Damaged Girl with a Dark Past

My mum passed on a book to me last week, warning me that I might find it a tough subject as it dealt with a damaged young girl in the foster care system.  To be honest I was very surprised that she had been able to read it.  The book in question is Crying For Help by Casey Watson.  I read the whole book in a day.  I am not sure this is testament to a great story or just the fact that I had been bed bound for much of last week.

I would not normally look at books in this genre, mostly because anything that is strictly fictional I would probably end up trying to find faults with.  However this book is based on real experiences that the author has had in her other life as a foster carer for seriously damaged children.

The lack of information coming forward from social services, difficulty with children and adolescent mental health services was all too familiar to the scenario that we went through when we were kinship caring for my niece.  The behaviour of the child in question 'Sophia' was so similar in many many ways to our experience, as was the roller coaster ride of not knowing what could possibly happen next as we lurched from crisis to crisis.

There was one point in the story where I became quite angry with the presumptions the foster carer was making about the child's family.  She had no father, her mother was in a persistent vegetative state and she had lived with her uncle for a while until him and his wife became first time parents of a newborn.  The situation of not being able to really KNOW what had happened to the child in the past because of the state of the mother and lack of social services intervention was very similar to the situation we found ourselves in.  The not knowing for sure whether stories are true, based on truth, or imagined/made up is very difficult.  In the author's case she seemed to believe the stories Sophia told her and judged the family quite severely.  I so felt for the uncle, as the story unfolds it becomes apparent that if a professional struggles with Sophia's problems, how was a first time kinship carer supposed to manage them.   I can just imagine how difficult the decision to hand her over to social services must have been.  This book has confirmed that which I already knew - there will be people who come into contact with my niece who will be judging me in the same way.  That is hard to live with.  Though there is nothing I can do about it so there is really no point dwelling on it.

The book is a great story and it did keep me gripped, however I did not really feel that the writing gave it justice - or maybe that is just me getting my own back having felt judged!  The jury is still out on whether I would read another of her books, I certainly would not rush to get another.

Today I am also continuing to count my blessings with Ann Voskamp:

820.  Better drugs giving me pain relief from my back problem.

821.  Unexpected cards in the post from caring friends.

822.  The delivery of some on-line shopping which has helped me be a little less bored in my bed bound state.

823.  Blue sky!

824. Happy daughter as she finished her primary school years.

825. Reading through a years worth of books and papers from her last year at school.

826. Books to read.

827. A husband that has to put up with far too much.

828. A little pumpkin starting to grow in my veg patch.

829. White roses and Gypsophila growing in my garden reminding me of my wedding flowers.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

It's all so quiet - shhhh shhhh shhhh

The song from bonkers Icelandic singer Bjork is going round in my head this morning as my house is soooooo quiet.

When you can hear a tick from the pendulum of a clock, the sound of your own steady breathing, every creak of the bed or seat you are sitting on you know you have found quietness.

I just love it. 

I know if I go outside it will not be quite so quiet.  There will be bird song and fluttering leaves as the squirrels go about their business in the woods besides us.  There will be the sounds of people jetting off to foreign climbs.  Children playing in gardens around us.  Car doors opening and closing.

It is so tempting to stay curled up in my indoor cocoon.  The sounds in the outdoors I know will make me want to do something.  Especially when the sun has finally come out after so many months of rain.  Yesterday they talked me into a little gardening, a little pegging of washing on the line.  Today my body is telling me too much. 

Will I ever learn to go be amidst the sounds of life and not be tempted to try and join them?

I remarked to my husband this morning as he took the children off to a church service where they will be playing their instruments, that soon he might start getting the sympathetic looks and offerings of casseroles as people think he is bringing up the children alone.

One thing I can do in this quiet however is go through my daughters final year of primary school life.  Over this week the coffee table has become more and more laden with books, folders, pictures and projects.  I will look at every single one.  I will recall the stories she has told me of things that she did on a particular school day and enjoy seeing what she was describing.

I'm sad that I couldn't make it to her leavers assembly where each child gets presented with a bible.  I'm sad that even if she had wanted me to I couldn't have walked to fetch her on her final day at the school she has been at for the last seven years.  The school that first drew us to come and look at houses in this area.  The school that we noticed was right next to a church, I still remember the day that we pulled up into the school/church car park one Sunday morning.  We heard a trombone playing and there and then felt God calling us to a new home.

But dwelling on that makes me melancholy - too many sad things have happened in these last seven years.

For now I shall go and make myself a cup of tea (at least I can move around reasonably pain free at the moment) and settle down with the books and folders, pictures and projects.


Tuesday, 17 July 2012


Having a chronic health problem like rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has led to much pondering on the whole issue of Christian healing.  There is just so much that I do not understand, why does God intervene and heal in some circumstances and not it other ones?  I have learnt over the years to filter out the negative comments that so many people proffer about healing.  Comments such as - if you do not believe enough it won't happen, and - you must have unresolved sins if healing has not taken place - are just not helpful.  Not only are they not helpful but I believe the judgement of humans to make these comments is totally unbiblical too (but then I am no theologian!).

I have to confess that when having a bad RA day I do regularly forget to pray for my body to feel better.  I am so very grateful for all the friends and family around me that do remember!

I was challenged again this weekend with my health.  On Friday evening I cooked my first proper 'dinner party' for about 3 years for a couple of friends.  While in the kitchen nearing completion of the cooking I was suddenly aware of a very sharp dizzying pain in my lower back.  It was similar to odd twinges that I have had in the past however they have only ever lasted a few minutes.  By the time I went to bed I was still extremely sore and not able to move much at all.   On Saturday morning I was able to get up and go and see the Olympic torch being paraded through a local town, though I couldn't drive and had to sit down during the wait.  By the time I got back home about 11.30am I was in absolute agony so went to lie down in bed.  None of my normal painkillers were even taking the edge of the pain if anything it was just getting worse and I was starting to get worried about what I had done.

Eventually I ended up going to the out of hours doctor who immediately diagnosed a probably prolapsed lumber disc in my back.  She was very matter of fact gave me strong pain killers and said not to expect it to get better in days it would more likely be weeks!  What joyous news to receive the week before your children break up from school for the summer break!  The pain was so bad after a car ride that my poor husband even had to stop the car on the journey home so that I could throw up - urgh!

Sunday I could not stand for more than about 10 minutes at a time, I was with it enough to try with him and get some prayer support started.  My husband was much enthused by the fact that when they arrived back from church on Sunday evening I had managed to get downstairs and the timing had coincided with him praying with a wonderful prayerful couple at church.  Was this healing prayer actually working?

I so very much hope it is.  The last two days have seen steady improvement of my pain, I am still taking pain killers but the nausea has completely gone and I am able to eat again.  I can also walk a short distance and sit for an hour or so.

If any of you are the praying kind, then I would love to be remembered in your prayers, it would be so good to be able to spend some time doing things with my children this summer and not having to stay in bed!

I know I am a day late this week but will continue to count my blessings:

820. A new craft project which I am loving.

821. Having time and the inclination to read again.

822. Lush greenery everywhere!

823. The opportunity to watch a once in a life time event.

824. Daughter wanting to take care of me.

825. Son giving me an impromptu thank you for a little task I had completed for him.

826. My patient puppy dog staying by my side.

827. Delicious food made from ingredients from my garden.

828. The natural company of friends where time makes no difference.

829. Great school reports for my children.

Monday, 9 July 2012

What are you worth?

I am wondering today if maybe I have cut down my anti-depressant medication to soon.  The blues are still chasing me around.  Is it because I feel stripped bare of all the titles that used to give me the sense of achievement of being somebody who mattered?

One of the things that I unexpectedly got out of my recent counselling was the knowledge of how much I have been raised believing that I am only worth the sum total of what I do.  Even sadder to discover was the realisation that no matter what the sum total was, it's worth was only that which was expected, I was never able to exceed expectations.  Having now had a month of rest since finishing work, my 'worth' is once again feeling challenged.

My lack of physical energy has led me to be rather housebound of late.  I have been getting out to go swimming, a little shopping, a little dog walking and taking my children to groups when my husband is not around, but the rest of the time I have been home.  I have been doing bits of reading, crochet and sewing and have managed to do a little cooking.  How hard it is to accept that this is enough.  Even my usual love of social networking has waned, since everybody seems to be off doing stuff and achieving stuff.  I might add, just as I so often have done in the past.

So what can I learn from now - I suppose it might just be time to start accepting that being 'just' me is fine.  Maybe I need to spend time with my creator believing all that He says about me, that there really is NOTHING that can separate me from His love.

Maybe these are two bible verses that I can hold on to this week:

Matthew 10:29-31 (NIV)

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Continuing to count my blessings this Monday.

810. Peachy sun-kissed clouds in the evenings.

811. The joy of watching the tennis at Wimbledon on the TV.

812. Having other people praise the achievements of your children.

813. Purple pink flowers poking high so that I can see them through my window from my comfy seat.

814. Honesty even when it hurts.

815. The three stones in my engagement ring which remind me that He is always in the middle of our relationship.

816. Memories of a red dress.

817. Being encouraged to say 'no' when I needed to.

818. The simpleness of each day.

819. The blanket which keeps my toes warm on these very cold summer days!

Monday, 2 July 2012


I've been feeling a little low over the weekend and can think of no better way of lifting my spirits than remembering the little things that I have been blessed with this last week:

800. Neighbours dog barking much less.

801. Spending time with friends.

802. News of a couple getting engaged.

803. Generous friends.

804. Having the time to help when we are asked to.

805. Having the time to rest when I need to.

806. Pain relief.

807. Chats on twitter when I am home alone.

808. Being able to make a simple healthy meal that the family devour and enjoy.

809. The sound of the rain in the night when I am tucked up nice and cosy.

Now I must get on with the task of filling in forms for secondary school for my 11 year old daughter.  How fast time has flown, she has her induction day tomorrow and I can see that she is quite nervous about it.  I can't believe that it is only a year since I was feeling the same way about my son moving on!  He is thriving in this new environment and I am so praying that my less academic daughter might do to.