Sunday, 20 September 2015


Thoughts churning since this morning's sermon (Thanks, John). 

When we are finally able to accept that we are loved, completely and utterly and wonderfully, by God, then we are finally free to be whoever we were created to be. 

When we are secure in the knowledge of that perfect love, we can set self aside without worry. 

Knowing there is absolutely nothing I can do to make God love me more (and that nothing I can do will ever make him love me less), I am free to be me, to make mistakes, to fail, to mess up horribly. And free to start again, and again, and again. Free to try a hundred different things, and free to fall down and make the same mistakes a hundred different ways. 

And I am free to put those mistakes behind me. Free to listen, free to follow directions, free to walk upon the water and to do amazing things. 

Free to find joy and contentment in doing the things I already love doing, since these are the things I was created to do. Free to find immense satisfaction in the smallest of caring tasks, free to enjoy the simplest of suppers, free to delight in the happiness of a child blossoming in the right school. 

I'm not sure I was created to lose my temper with the feed pump, the paperwork, the child who has to have my total undivided attention at all times and especially when I am on the phone to someone else. But maybe that short fuse helps when I'm chasing support we aren't getting, appointments we haven't been given, equipment which doesn't work? 

I'm pretty sure no one is created to actively design a house as messy as mine. But maybe my ability to sit quietly within the chaos enables me to get the rest I need in order to carry on picking up the pieces when the chaos is being created? 

So I've taken a sermon all about turning away from self and towards Jesus, and I've turned it into a blog all about me. Cos I'm good that way. But I think it's important. I can't be free to love God until I can accept that he really does love me, right now, just exactly as I am, with all my mess and imperfections and chaos and clutter. 

I don't need to fix anything first. 

I live in a house with a door on the latch; nurses, carers, friends, family, and an occasional delivery man all let themselves in. There's no time to do anything beyond kick the dirty dishes under the settee and stuff the socks behind a cushion before company is in front of me.  And it's taken a while to get used to, but I love it. This is me. This house, my home. It's not perfect (see above re: dishes and dirty socks), but it's who I am. The pressure's off. No hours of frantic tidying before anyone is allowed past the door; these days many visitors bypass me entirely and head straight for the kettle or the loo. 

And I'm probably slow to get the message, but I'm living with my life on the latch too. And I'm loved not one iota more in my Sunday Best (yes, fellow members of the congregation, those are my smarter clothes) than I am in my slightly stained spotty dressing gown. And I am not loved one iota less in those times when I ignore the dishes and curl up on the settee in mismatched pyjamas than I am when I am heading out of the door in clean clothes having actually brushed my hair. 

And I think maybe it's only then, only when we let that perfect love cast out all fear, that we can cast out that fear of exposure, fear of what others might think, fear of being considered a nuisance, fear of being found unworthy. And it's only when we are truly free to be ourselves, that we can truly forget ourselves in the wonder of following the paths set in front of us. 

Or maybe that's just me? 

Wednesday, 16 September 2015


Rubbish photo, tasty quickish dish. Kedgeree with cauliflower rice, essentially. 

Poach 250g smoked haddock in 150mls milk of your choice (dairy, non-dairy, whatever you fancy). About 5 minutes, until fish is flaky and cooked. Remove from oven. Set two eggs in a pan of water and hard boil them (10 minutes once water boiling. Ish). 

Grate half a large cauliflower, boil for 1 min, drain, then pour into a tea towel and squeeze the extra water out. Spread out to allow steam to escape. 

Meanwhile, sauté 3 small onions. Add two cloves garlic, minced. Stir in a goodly dollop of garam masala powder (I used a heaped tablespoon), hunt around for turmeric and fail to find both it and the ginger you planned to add. Didn't need either, in the event. 

Add in one small green chilli you find at the bottom of the 'fridge when looking for the ginger. I deseeded it; your choice. 

When onion soft and smelling beautifully, pour in the milk and fish juices. Add 50g creamed coconut, and a splash of boiling water to dissolve it. Add more milk or water if needed to cover bottom of the pan. 

Peel fish skin off the haddock, flake fish into the frying pan, and put fish skin on floor for cats, before remembering you have the only cats in the world who won't eat it. 

Pour cauliflower rice into frying pan and stir around to coat in sauce. Add juice of half a lemon and a big handful of frozen peas. 

Wilt a big bag of spinach, put around edge of serving dish. When frying pan sizzling gently, scoop vedgeree into middle of dish. Peel eggs, quarter, and scatter on top with a handful of parsley. Give lemon a last viscious squeeze to extract final drops, and serve quickly. Or, photograph and then tip slightly over half into the blender for your daughter.*


* this step optional.  

Saturday, 29 August 2015


It's 8 years now since a young adult was placed in a bath of water that was too hot. Eight years since we took that long ambulance ride away from the hospital we knew and over to East Grinstead and strangeness. Eight years since introductions and developing relationships changed to awkward defensiveness and police investigations. Eight years since a worn out and finished with body was locked in a freezer for three months until permission was finally given to lay her to rest. 

And I only knew her for seven years before that. My dancing cuddly koala of an eleven year old, who could cling on round my neck as I walked out to meet people. My grumpy teen dragging the duvet back over her head and refusing to get up for school. My little innocent, needing one more recital of the Three Little Pigs, one more Billy Goats Gruff, one more Cheese and Potato Pie and maybe even a Chocolate Bar. 

It seems extraordinary that she can have been gone now for longer than I knew her. Crazy. How can she have been a part of our lives less time than she has been apart from our lives? 

It can't be eight years since the phone all which changed everything, eight years since we stood by a bed listening to the sounds of a sats monitor gently beeping more and more slowly as an overburdened heart wound down. Eight years since the relief about the end of the suffering marked the start of an entirely different kind of pain. 


And so, as an annual reminder, I'll say this again. If you're a carer, and you bath your clients. Take off your gloves before you test the water. Use the thermometer. Follow the law, follow best practice, save lives. 

And if you're one of our carers, caring for one of my children, forgive me if I possibly seem a little irrational on the subject of testing the water. It matters, folks. 

And if you buy a secondhand bath tub, get the manufacturers to fit the thermostat accurately. Maybe it is expensive. Funerals cost more. 

And if you're a friend, don't tell me your thermostat's all wrong; tell the plumber. Fix it. Because trust me, you don't want the images I have in my head even eight years on. 

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Love heals.

One girl, getting bothered, sats dropping, pulse rising. Breathing fast, losing smiles, and generally working too hard at what should be a relatively simple automatic process of keeping air moving in and out of lungs. 

Move said girl from somewhat squashed scoliotic upright position onto a camp bed where her spine can straighten where it needs to and kink further where it must. 

Pain better, but everything else still too hard. 

Take one boy, place alongside and slightly underneath the girl. 

Watch girl's panic ease, see vital signs improve on the monitor. 

Out of interest, clip second monitor onto the boy. And watch as the girl's heart rate slows, coming to rest at exactly the same rate as the boy's. 

Two hearts, beating as one. Breathing calms, sats pick up, a boy's gentle hand strokes an ear and teases out locks of hair. A girl's distress replaced with gentle smiles for her boy. 

Love heals. 

Wednesday, 19 August 2015


Sun, sand, sharks and jellyfish on the beach, lifeboats launching around the corner, giant rabbits, baby cygnets, ice creams and fresh fish and never changing but always something new to find alongside our old favourites. 

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Friends can.

Friends can 
Tease gentle strands of your hair until the whole of it is a crowning blaze of tangled glory. 

Lie on each other's arms until they go to sleep, and only protest until they are awake again. 

Gently tickle ears and necks until everyone is laughing together. 

Argue over whose turn it is to choose the music. 

Detach sats monitors and feed pumps to set off alarms and make each other laugh. 

Find entirely non-verbal ways to insult, tease, and celebrate each other. 
Maybe we let our words get in the way. 

Monday, 10 August 2015

A holy mess.

I'm a holy mess. 
Cloaked In righteousness, 
Hooked on holiness 
I am a holy mess. 

God's life laundry
Old stains shaken loose
My God is bigger. 
Waves of shame washed in oceans of love. 
My God is bigger still. 

A holy mess
But I am a child of God. 

I am a holy mess. 
Cloaked in righteousness. 
I am a child of God. 

Hooked on holiness. 
Washed, and with a new Grace dress. 
I am a child of God. 


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